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Shielder Series, Book Four

Celie Cameron has spent her most of her life as a smuggler, skirting the law. She’s given that up for more legal delivery runs, but she misses the adrenaline rush of danger. When a routine delivery goes haywire, throwing her into the company of a handsome pilot—an android, or so she thinks—Celie finds herself embroiled in galaxy-spanning intrigue and deception.

The android, Rurick, is a miracle creation. Because of past experiences, Celie has avoided relationships with men. But she finds herself attracted to Rurick, feeling safe to indulge in flirtation with a pseudo man. As they join forces to challenge an insidious threat to the populations of the Verante quadrant, the attraction between them grows.

But then Celie learns Rurick is actually a human—a royal prince—masquerading as an android, and all bets are off. He doesn’t agree, and ensures Celie is forced to work closely with him. They battle wits from a glittering royal palace to a shipwreck on a barren planet. Facing possible death, she can no longer deny her feelings—or the man. Together, they fight to bring light to a darkness every bit as depraved as the expanse of space known as . . . Shadow Crossing.




Celie found the pad for the start-up sequences and breathed a sigh of relief when the powerful engines roared to life at her keyed command. At least the lockout codes weren’t activated. The ship shuddered with another hit. She prayed their assailants’ neutron cannon wasn’t fully charged yet.

Rurick appeared and slipped into the pilot’s seat, shoving the magnetic clasps of his harness together. “Let’s get out of here.” His expression grim, he grabbed the yoke and gave the lifts a burst of power. They rose from the ground, hovering roughly.

Hades. They could be disintegrated any moment now. Another explosion sent them listing, and the sudden blare of alarms verified that bleak reality. Rurick righted the ship, but they could only move so fast until they got outside the bay. They needed evasive action, and fast. Celie might be rusty, but she remembered the tricks she’d relied on in the old quadrant.

“Computer, estimate the direction of hostilities,” she requested.

“60 degrees to port,” said a sultry female voice.

“Rurick, steer the ship’s nose around 120 degrees starboard,” Celie ordered. “Where is the control for waste jettison?”

“Why?” he asked, revving the thrusters and moving the ship starboard, while putting more distance between them and their attackers.

“We can dump waste matter on the lowlifes who are firing on us and use the rear thrusters to project it. That should slow them down until we’re out of the bay.”

“Interstellar Council regulations state that waste cannot be jettisoned except in deep space,” the computer intoned, “at least one hundred kilometers—”

“Where in the blazing hells is the jettison control?” Celie snapped. “I’ll do it myself!”

“It’s done,” Rurick said, punching a pad. He revved the thrusters, expelling waste from the rear of the ship. “That’s a smart ploy, Captain,” he commented. “You’ll have to share some other tricks sometime.”

“Sure. I’ll be glad to. Assuming we get out of here intact.”

His face set in determined lines. “I have every intention of doing just that.”

They concentrated on getting out of the bay, and Celie breathed a sigh of relief when they exited. The next concern was whether or not the damage to the ship was extensive enough to compromise the hull’s integrity, and then determining if they had enough power to clear Mangon’s atmosphere.

She knew they had no choice but to leave the planet. Joba was the only settlement of any size, and there was no way of knowing if their attackers could follow them to another part of Mangon. Space was their safest option for now, assuming they could make it.

“Computer, damage report,” Rurick requested.

“Four holes in the outer hull, all penetrating the inner hull, affecting bays one and two,” the computer intoned. “They have been sealed off.”

That confirmed Celie’s suspicion about the projectile weapons. “We won’t be able to fly into space with Max down there,” she said, concerned.

“I put him in the airlock at the top of the ladder, in an emergency harness,” Rurick replied. “Computer, continue report.”

“Weapon penetration of the inner hull damaged bay control panels and the main water tank. The secondary water tank has been rerouted to alternate flow routes. Radar is at forty percent capacity. Infrared sensors are nonfunctional. Cameras are offline.”

The computer continued on, giving a lengthy list of damage, including various destroyed circuitry and burst pipes in the affected bays. Fortunately, the ship had ultra-advanced control systems that were already dealing with the issues.

When the report was finished, Rurick leaned back and shook his head. “There’s a lot of damage.”

“I didn’t hear anything that will prevent us from taking off,” Celie commented, sending silent thanks to Spirit.

“No, we should be able to get clear of the planet,” he agreed. “But we can’t safely travel any distance until our external sensors are repaired. Then there are the holes in the hull, the water tank, and those circuit panels and burst pipes to be fixed.”

Celie thought of her own ship, her heart heavy. That ship was everything to her. It held all her worldly possessions, along with the deepest expressions of her soul: her paints and artwork. It was her haven against the world . . . and against the memories. She couldn’t bear to leave it behind. Yet, even as these emotions pounded her, the cool, analytical voice of her intellect told her there was absolutely nothing she could do right now.

Her survival, and that of everyone else on Max’s ship, depended on them getting away from Joba and off the planet. All she could do at this point was help facilitate their escape. Then, after they were clear of immediate danger, did some repairs, and things had time to calm down, she’d ask to be returned to her craft.

She worked in tandem with Rurick as they flew over Mangon’s barren terrain. The engines held steady, apparently getting enough fuel. Then he nosed the ship straight up and engaged the thrusters at full throttle, taking them away from the planet. Within moments, they cleared the atmosphere and headed into space.

He sat back in his seat. “That was too close for my liking.”

“What were those people after?” Celie asked. “We only had food and medical supplies, and those items are abundant throughout the quadrant.”

He turned toward her, his golden eyes piercing. “Are you sure of that?”

“Well, yes, I—” She paused, considering what she’d witnessed in Joba. “I’ve never seen any shortages or poverty anywhere, at least not before now.”

“You can’t believe everything you see.” He unhooked his harness and stood. “I’ve got to check on Max. The ship is on autopilot, so you can check on Raven.”

Celie hoped Rurick’s employer had regained consciousness, and that his injuries weren’t life threatening. “You should let Raven look at him. She has quite a bit of medical knowledge. If he’s seriously injured, you might need to get him to a medical facility.”

“I don’t think we can plan anything until we get the sensors and the main fuel tank repaired. But Max didn’t appear too badly injured, and I’m sure he’ll be fine. I’ll take him to his cabin and see what he needs.”

“Raven is a gifted healer,” Celie persisted. “She might be a great help.”

“I’ve got medical training and can treat Max. You take care of Raven and see if she has any injuries. I’m sure you both have scrapes and cuts. That one on your cheek needs attention, and I saw a burn on your back. Help yourself to our medical supplies, which are in the main supply vault. There are also extra flightsuits there that you can use.”

Celie realized that, as an android, Rurick probably had more than enough medical software installed in his systems. She had to keep reminding herself that he was a machine, because he seemed so real. “All right,” she said, rising from her seat. “I’ll check on Raven. Let me know if we can do anything for Max.”

“We’ll be in cabin one. Use the comm if you need me.” Rurick rose and strode away, and Celie admired how well he filled out his black flightsuit. He was impressive, even if he was an android. And a fascinating individual, if you could call a machine that. She’d love to study him more closely, but that opportunity wouldn’t be forthcoming. She and Raven would return to her ship as soon as possible.

*  *  *

Rurick dragged Max into the cabin and dumped him facedown on the bunk. His android had been hit in the upper back, and as Rurick peeled away the charred flightsuit and synthetic flesh, he saw exposed wires and circuits. The damage was severe enough that Max had shut down all his systems. Great. Now Rurick would have to repair Max as well as work on his damaged ship. It was going to be difficult to keep Celie and Raven away from Max until he was repaired, though; both seemed genuinely concerned and compassionate individuals.

That was commendable, up to a point, but in this case, Rurick needed to keep them at a distance. He had made a vow to his family that he would never disclose his true identity while he was traveling; that Max would present himself as the real Maximilian Rurickko Riordan. Since Rurick always honored his word, he would have to maintain the charade with Celie and Raven. Tough, but doable.

He also needed to analyze what had happened in Joba. He was stunned by the attack, and further shocked at the caliber of weapons the attackers had at their disposal. A neutron cannon? Such weapons weren’t generally used in the quadrant. He and Max carried stunners for personal safety; they had only just started carrying more formidable protection after they’d made their appalling discovery about the ninth sector.

Celie Cameron appeared highly knowledgeable about weapons and how to use them. She seemed familiar with evasive maneuvers as well. Very interesting. He would consider all these things after he got some rest. Right now, fatigue dragged at him.

He was also hungry, so he decided he’d take care of his own minor wounds, check on his guests, and then bring food back to this cabin on the pretense of feeding Max. Naturally, his android didn’t need sustenance, but Rurick did.

He peeled off his ruined clothing and tossed it into the disposal. He had some minor burns on his chest and arms and noted gratefully that a flightsuit would cover them; so Celie wouldn’t notice and wonder why an android had skin burns, burns that healed. She was very sharp, and it wouldn’t do for her to become suspicious.

The lady was also very attractive: tall and statuesque, an unusual distinction from the petite, dainty females of his society. Her coloring was striking as well: silky blonde hair and eyes the rich dark brown of a wishing stone.

Seeing her in Joba today had been a double shock: that a woman was making the delivery and that she was so beautiful. Very professional, though, and all business. She’d proven she could take care of herself, both in her ability to handle weapons and to operate an unfamiliar ship. He found her intriguing.

Too bad he couldn’t act on the attraction he felt toward her, especially since it appeared they might be together for a while. He had to maintain the charade, and most people knew androids didn’t feel sexual attraction.

He cleaned and treated his burns and cuts. He washed his face and was putting on a clean flightsuit when his comm went off. “Yes?”

Celie’s husky voice drifted over it. “How is Max?”

“He’s going to be all right. I can treat his injuries, but he’ll be confined to his cabin for a cycle or so.”

“I’m glad. He was so heroic, and I’ll always be grateful to him for saving Raven.”

Max had been created to do just that—protect and rescue—but Rurick couldn’t tell Celie that.

“Raven needs to rest,” she continued. “I’d like to put her in one of the other cabins.”

“Of course. You two can use cabins three and four. They’re clean and ready for occupation.”

“Will do. I’ll send Raven to one, but I’ll remain in the cockpit and monitor the systems until you’re ready to take over the autopilot or stop us for repairs.”

He would have done the same thing himself. She was careful, a necessity when traveling on long space voyages. “Fine. I’ll be there shortly.”

He joined her a few moments later. She sat in the copilot’s chair, gazing out at the vast array of stars. The steady hum of equipment told him that they were on the set course, and so far, it appeared the moderate pace wasn’t straining his damaged ship’s limits.

“Thanks for keeping an eye on things.” He slipped into the pilot’s seat. “Is Raven all right?”

“Bruised and scraped. Exhausted.” She pivoted toward him, and he was again struck by the beauty of her dark eyes and the perfection of her skin, except for the ugly cut on her cheek.

“Why didn’t you take the time to tend to your face?” he demanded. His gaze drifted lower, noticing for the first time two charred gashes in the top of her flightsuit, and the red welts beneath. “Or those burns, and the one on your back? I thought you said Raven was a healer.”

Celie shrugged, as if her injuries were nothing, though Rurick knew they must be painful. “She is, but she was roughed up pretty badly. I think today’s events were overwhelming for her.”

“So you took care of her but not yourself.” He felt his anger rising but clamped it down. “Despite the risk of infection and the fact that we may be stranded in space for a while.”

“My injuries are minor. I’ll worry about them later. I want to talk to you about returning Raven and me to my ship.”

“That’s not possible,” he said, checking the controls and then rising. “Come on. We’re going to take care of your injuries.”

“I can deal with the burns. The issue of retrieving my ship is far more crucial.”

He was the captain, and he was responsible for the situation that had put her here. Her inattention to her wounds dictate that he take decisive action for her well being. His orders would be carried out, as they were at his palace. “Not if infection sets in and we can’t reach medical facilities. Come with me. Now.”

She balked, her eyes narrowing and her hands clenching the armrests. “I’m not a crew member on this ship, and I don’t intend to take orders from you. You’re not the commanding officer. You’re just a machine.”

“I’m capable of forcing your compliance.” Leaning down, he grasped the sides of her chair, trapping her. He stared into her eyes, determined to establish the fact that he was in charge. “With Max injured and unable to command this vessel, I am the captain of this ship. The full and final authority. Make no mistake about it.”

Her chin lifted a defiant notch. “I don’t care who’s in charge. My key concern is to get back to my ship. My injuries are secondary. Unless my ship is damaged, I assure you I can reach medical help on my own.”

Dealing with the lady was going to be a definite challenge. That thought shot a surprising surge of anticipation through Rurick. He wasn’t used to anything other than immediate and submissive compliance. He released the chair and stepped away. “We’re not going back to Joba.”

She stood, facing him squarely. “I must insist that we return.”

“The decision has been made. Come.” He turned and strode from the cockpit, knowing she’d follow, if only to press her case.

“Captain Rurick.” Her voice came from behind him, but he kept walking. “Captain!” She grabbed his arm and jerked him to a halt with surprising strength.

He turned, keeping his expression stern, although he was more amused than irritated at her tactics. She was staring down at where her hand clutched his forearm, an amazed expression on her face. “You feel so real,” she said. “Incredible.”

This was not good. He removed her hand from his arm. “My society’s technology is truly amazing,” he agreed coolly. “But I was not made to be handled.”

“Understood. I want to see Max now. I’ll discuss returning to my ship with him.”

“No. I repeat, with Max injured and out of commission, I am in charge. You’ll discuss the matter with me.” He spun sharply on his heel and strode on.

She followed. “Fine, then. Let’s discuss it.”

“Not until we take care of your injuries.” He stopped by the supply vault, retrieving the basic medical kit. “Which cabin is Raven in?”

“Number four, but—”

“Then we go to number three. Come.” He gave her no chance to object, striding to cabin three and entering.

She stepped in behind him paused, looking wary. “Why in here?”

Her sudden change of attitude baffled him. “This is your cabin for the duration of your stay. It’s as good a place as any.” He gestured toward the bunk. “You can sit there.”

“Look, I can take care of my own injuries. Just give me the kit and a few moments.”

“You can’t treat the burn on your back,” he pointed out. “Someone else has to do that.”

“Then I’ll get Raven and—”

“Captain Cameron—Celie—I have the necessary medical training. Why disturb Raven, when she’s had such a rough time of it?”

“I guess you’re right.”

But she radiated discomfort as she sat stiffly on the bunk. Pondering her sudden absence of bravado, Rurick sat beside her, noting the increased tension in her body. She was leery of him. Why? “I’ll try not to hurt you,” he said, “but the solution will most likely sting.”

She nodded, and he opened the kit. “Let’s do that cut on your cheek first. Turn this way.”

She complied, wincing slightly when he applied the antiseptic to the raw skin. “Now I remember why I hate this stuff.”

“But you should know better than to let this go, even if it stings. I’m going to clean it a little more.”

He re-wet the cloth and dabbed the wound again. She had great bone structure, with high cheeks and intriguing hollows beneath. Her nose was straight and regal, her mouth suggestively lush. Her skin was like the finest Sarnai satin, smooth and rich with golden undertones. He wondered if she were that smooth all over.

Discomfited by his thoughts, he shook them off and reached for the salve. “This will help prevent infection.” He spread it over the cut gently and applied an adhesive bandage. That done, he reached for the top of her flightsuit. “Now for the burns.”

She drew back, her hand going protectively to her chest. Great. Not only was he battling an unprecedented attraction to this woman, but also her apparent distrust of him and her resistance to authority; the latter two something he had never before encountered. Although he hated the deception, he knew it would be the easiest way to do what must be done.

“Look. Being what I am, I’m no threat to you or any woman,” he reminded her. That much was true. He usually had the opposite problem of having to turn women away.

“I keep forgetting you’re an android.” Celie hesitated a moment, then nodded. “You’re right.” She ran her hand along her flightsuit seam, opening it all the way down. She paused, then shrugged and slid the top completely off. She removed her ruined undershirt as well.

Totally unprepared for that, Rurick could only stare at her generous breasts. They were beautifully rounded with rose-tinged nipples. His body reacted immediately and painfully. Swallowing hard, he reached for the medical kit, clumsily knocking it to the floor. Gods!

“Sorry about that,” he muttered, sinking down and hastily gathering up the contents. “I must have hit it too hard.”

“Androids are stronger than humans.”

He came upright, with the kit in his hands and found himself eye level with those lush breasts. “Right.” He hoisted himself back onto the bunk, fumbling with the kit. Get a grip, he told himself. This is strictly a professional situation. It wasn’t Celie’s fault her bare breasts had turned him into an idiot. She thought he was a machine.

Swallowing again, he forced his attention to the two nasty spots over her left breast, trying to keep his focus there. He wet a clean cloth with antiseptic and pressed it against the burns. With a gasp, she jolted upward, bringing that abundant flesh in full contact with his hand. His breath hissed out and he pulled away, feeling scalded himself. Her skin was every bit as supple and warm as he’d imagined.

“Sorry,” she murmured. “Caught me off guard. I guess I didn’t realize it would sting so much.”

Or how beautiful her body was, and how much he was affected by it. “Understandable.” He put more solution on the cloth and steeled himself. “I need to do it again.”

She nodded, her body rigid as he eased his hand back over her breast. They both seemed to be holding their breath. She closed her eyes, her hands clenching the edge of the bunk as Rurick cleaned her burns.

Her nakedness aside, there was something intimate and sensual about the simple act of touching her, of tending to her. It was just a necessary procedure, he told himself. Yet he was acutely aware of the heat rising off her flesh, of the rapid beat of her heart beneath his hand. He felt sweat beading on his forehead and wiped it away with his free hand before she noticed.

He was acting like an adolescent lusting after his first crush. It was ridiculous, and not the reaction a grown, sexually experienced male should be having. Forcing himself to relax, he reached for antibiotic salve.

Celie’s eyes opened. “Captain, I—”

“Call me Rurick,” he urged, smoothing salve as gently as possible over her burns. “I would say the situation warrants a little less formality, wouldn’t you?” Definitely less formality.

“All right then, Rurick. Please allow me to return to my ship. It’s everything to me. It contains all my possessions. Some of them are irreplaceable.”

“I can’t take you back yet.” Wiping the salve off his hands, he met her darkened gaze.

“Why not? Surely those who attacked us will be long gone by now.”

“The most obvious reason is that I’m not sure this ship can handle reentry into a planet’s atmosphere, not without us completing the necessary repairs.”

“I’m very aware that we have to do the repairs first,” she said. “But after that you should be able to return us to Joba.”

Except he and Max had urgent business on Altair before they could go anywhere else. Rurick knew they’d have to tell Celie and Raven something before they reached Altair, but felt it would be prudent to wait as long as possible. “Repairing the ship could require quite a delay,” he hedged, “which is probably for the best, because Joba might not be safe right now. I’m sorry.”

Her eyes narrowed. “There’s no need to say that. How can an android be sorry, or feel anything for that matter?”

He was going to have to be careful around her. She was far too observant. “Androids are programmed to gauge humanoid emotions, analyze pheromones, and respond appropriately,” he explained. “I can tell this situation is upsetting.”

“That’s an accurate assessment,” Celie retorted, then fell silent until he finished bandaging her. “Why isn’t it safe to return to Joba’?” she asked. “What’s going on there?”

“I need to do your back.” He gestured for her to turn around. “And I’m afraid I can’t answer those questions.”

“Tell me why?” She pivoted away and flipped her hair onto her chest. She had an elegant, long neck and a beautiful, sleek back.

Feeling more relaxed now that she was turned away, he focused on the serious issues raised by her questions. As he considered what to tell her, she glanced back over her shoulder. “Why won’t you answer my questions? Because you can’t, or you won’t?”

Why not indeed? Frustration roared through him at his lack of knowledge or control over any of his recent discoveries. Shocking, universe-shaking knowledge that had rocked the foundation of his beliefs about the Interstellar Council and the life quality codes the Council had sworn to uphold. Yet he and Max had seen for themselves that the ninth sector offered no guaranteed quality of life for any of its citizens. Instead, poverty and disease appeared to be rampant. But there were no immediate explanations as to how this had happened, or why.

“Rurick? Are you going to answer me?”

He concentrated on the burn on her right shoulder. “I don’t really know the answers.”

“Were those people after Max specifically? Or were they just pirates, after anyone who might have something of value?”

Rurick was almost positive the attackers had been after him, in an attempt to stop him from probing the ninth sector situation more deeply, but he had no idea who had sent them. Unfortunately, traveling in a ship marked with the Riordan royal crest clearly broadcasted his identity. It was also the only way he could move in and out of the ninth sector freely. “I don’t know for sure,” he stated.

“Well, what do you know?” she retorted.

“Not very much, it would seem.”

She muttered beneath her breath, something about “poorly programmed androids.”

“What was that?”

“Just another question,” she said smoothly. “What in Hades is going on in Joba? Why is it so rundown? I saw a pitiful group of people dressed in rags, and they looked like they were starving. I’ve never seen anything like that, not in this quadrant, anyway. This needs to be reported to the Council.”

That addressed one suspicion that had nagged him: whether or not Celie was an active participant in the black market created by such great need. Obviously she wasn’t, for which he was grateful. “Yes, it needs to be reported,” he agreed.

The problem was, to whom? The horrendous living conditions in the ninth sector were so widespread, and word about those conditions apparently so repressed, that some of the Interstellar Council members had to be behind the cover-up. But which ones? That question was the one reason he hadn’t gone to the High Council yet. He didn’t know who could be trusted.

He’d tried to bring up the situation to his father, but Domek had become distraught and insisted that such a thing couldn’t possibly exist. Then the king had become extremely ill, and Rurick hadn’t said anything further. He’d wondered if the members of the High Council would have the same reaction as his father.

Or worse, if those who were behind the situation might try to block him from giving assistance in the sector. So he hadn’t yet approached the Council or gone public with his discovery. He felt it imperative that he uncover the perpetrators first. For that reason, he had opted to have the supplies delivered to him in an obscure location, and had Max commission Celie to make the delivery to Joba. For the same reason, he didn’t dare tell her more.

He finished bandaging the burn. “All done.”

She rose from the bunk and turned, giving him another tantalizing view of her breasts as she slipped on her flightsuit top, not bothering with the undershirt. He felt a great sense of relief when she sealed the seam.

“It’s not any of my business what you were doing in Joba,” she said, “or what you plan to do with the supplies I delivered. I just want my ship back.”

Surprised, he realized she thought he was planning to sell the food and medicine he’d purchased, black-marketeering and taking advantage of the needy. Of course, what else would she think, based on so little information? He’d wondered the same about her, so it seemed a fair turnaround.

“It’s not what you think,” he said. “I wish I could tell you more, but I don’t have the answers myself.”

“You’ve told me nothing,” she pointed out. “I don’t need to know your agenda. I only need my ship. Surely there must be some recourse. I can’t just leave it at Joba.”

None of this was her fault. Her only crime was doing business with him, and in being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Yet it was crucial they head directly to Altair. Already, Rurick feared how many might die of starvation or disease before he could get the precious supplies there. Afterward, he could return Celie to her ship. For now, he’d have to dodge her questions.

“I’ve already explained there’s no other recourse. We will get you to your ship,” he told her, “after we repair our craft.” And after they went to Altair. He only hoped her ship was still at Joba and intact when they could finally return. If not, he would buy her a new one.

“Why can’t you take us to a checkpoint station? There are quite a few throughout the ninth sector, and you wouldn’t have to worry about your ship attempting atmosphere re-entry.”

He strongly suspected those stations were part of the problem, or at least part of the system repressing word of the sector conditions. He wouldn’t leave Celie and Raven at one.

“That’s not a good option,” he said. “They don’t have many transports going in and out. We’ll get you back to Joba. Right now, we have to concentrate on the repairs to this ship so we can resume business as quickly as possible.”

She frowned. “How long do you think those will take?”

He shrugged. “I have no idea.”

“Son of an Antek,” she muttered.

“More colorful language.”

“Oh, that’s mild compared to some of my vocabulary.”

He couldn’t help laughing. His ship was badly damaged, Max was incapacitated, and the ninth sector was in dire straits; yet Captain Celie Cameron was lightening his mood. She was as entertaining as any royal performer.

“I didn’t know androids had a sense of humor.”

Rurick thought of the quirky humor that had been programmed into Max. “Some do.”

“So you really have no idea how long the repairs will take?”

“The external repairs will be the most time consuming. We’ll have to weld the holes in the hull and fix the damaged sensors. That’ will take two or three cycles. Then we’ll have to replace circuit panels and pipes in the damaged bays, and get the main water tank functional. Since Max will probably be incapacitated for a few cycles, we won’t be able to count on his help.”

“I’ve had quite a bit of mechanical training, and I do my own repairs,” she said. “I’ll help you. I assume you have been programmed for ship mechanics.”

Max had extensive software for mechanical repairs, but Rurick had always shown strong mechanical inclinations. He enjoyed working on spacecraft, even if his family thought it was beneath him. He was quite sufficient in that area. He nodded. “I have.”

She rolled her eyes. “Well, finally, a straight answer.” She cocked her head and studied him. “It will be interesting seeing what an android can do.”

If she only knew, Rurick thought. If she only knew.


“Shadow Crossing is a story of action, adventure, science fiction, romance, political intrigue and, of course, true love. Fans of romantic science fiction should definitely add this to their list. I know I’ll be on the lookout for more from Catherine Spangler.” ~Steve Lazarowitz, Fallen Angel Reviews

“Catherine Spangler has created a sprawling universe, peopled by many different species. This fast-paced, light-hearted story of romance in the stars is lots of fun and sure to bring a smile to your face.”~The Internet Writing Journal

“Celie Cameron’s story and it’s about time! . . . This is the latest in the futuristic series that Catherine Spangler has created . . .a world so realistic that I relish each and every book in this truly fabulous series…. [A] superb highly adventuresome book. There is more than one surprise throughout this amazing story. We go from planet to planet in search of who is behind a most heinous cover-up in the entire galaxy. We also get to visit with beloved characters from previous books which makes this one all the more special and enjoyable. I look forward to reading more about this most fascinating world that Catherine Spangler has created. ~ Kathy Boswell, Managing Editor, The Best Reviews

“Author Catherine Spangler writes an exciting saga of space ships, sabotage, secret identities, and cuddly aliens. Rurick is a powerfully alpha hero, a man who can keep up with a woman who has smuggled–and worse. If any male can break through the tough shield that Celie has built, it is Rurick, but she’s determined not to let him. SHADOW CROSSING is a true romance, but it offers crossover appeal to fans of the STAR WARS genre. SHADOW CROSSING is a part of Spangler’s SHIELDER universe, but each of the books stands alone.” ~ Rob Preece,

[Shadow Crossing] is quite an adventure in space with characters that leap off the pages . . . . Ms. Spangler has humor, a great plot, sensuous romance, riveting characters that give her romances lots of sparkle. Put these books on your “must-read list now.” ~ Suzanne Coleburn, Reader to Reader Reviews