Sentinel Series, Book 3
After a brutal attack, Dr. Julia Reynolds is determined to live a solitary existence. But one man who believes she’s his soul mate and his destiny has other ideas . . .
For twelve years Julia has been haunted by memories of a horrific assault, and forced to deal with precognitive abilities triggered by the attack. She’s buried herself in her career. However, the arrogant and infuriating Adam Masters threatens her protective bubble, claiming she is a precisely matched conductor—for him.
Adam is the powerful head of the Sentinels, a superhuman race protecting Earth. He believes his intense physical and mental connection with Julia will help locate a missing Sentinel. But Julia resists, unwilling to be drawn into a dark supernatural world, or to give into the sexual attraction between her and Adam.
At the same time, her life is threatened when her psychopathic former attacker is freed from prison and seeks revenge. Julia finds herself torn between running from her demons—and embracing her power and reaching for the light . . .
The phone call came at 3:37 that afternoon. It truly didn’t qualify as one of those life-altering calls, Julia told herself. Not really, not compared to . . . say . . . the unexpected death of a loved one. Or a major catastrophe—like an earthquake, or a tsunami, or 9/11.
Yet the call had tilted her mundane world off its axis. Worse were the nightmare memories it had resurrected . . . “Don’t resist me, Julia, or I’ll kill you,” William Bennett said as he rammed himself into her. Not that she could have fought at that point—he’d beaten her too badly. . . .
Julia jerked herself back to the present. And here she’d been thinking she was finally putting it all behind her. She slugged back the rest of her bourbon. Managed to set the glass back on its paper coaster, despite the Herculean urge to hurl it against the wall.
“Can I get you another one, Dr. Reynolds?” Miriam, who happened to be both the bartender and one of the top students in both Julia’s number theory and thermal physics courses at the University of Houston, took the empty glass.
Miriam’s hair was styled into stiff spikes, the color du jour alternating sections of green, red, and blond. Heavy eye makeup accentuated her green eyes: one pierced eyebrow and multiple silver rings in each ear added to her distinct style. Julia just wasn’t hip enough to know if it was Goth or punk, or whatever the latest look was.
Not that Julia was up with any of the current trends. She’d buried herself in teaching, with a strong minor in the art of becoming a hermit, in twelve short years. She certainly wasn’t a spokesperson for the stylish and fashionable.
“Yes, I want another one,” she told Miriam. “Make it straight up.” No melting ice diluting this drink. Maybe then the bourbon would deaden the pain.
“Sure.” Miriam turned to get the drink, hesitated. “Are you okay, Dr. Reynolds? You seem . . . upset.”
Upset? Julia battled back the hysterical urge to laugh. Try terrified . . . panicked . . . barely holding on to her sanity. What would Miriam think if her staid, unemotional math professor suddenly lost it in the middle of the Red Lion Pub? Could make for an interesting story.
Get a grip, Julia told herself. She drew a deep breath, managed to shake her head. “I’m fine, Miriam. Just enjoying a few drinks.”
Miriam’s disbelief was clearly etched on her face, but she turned and walked off behind the polished mahogany bar. Julia raised a shaking hand to her throbbing temple.
“You’re such a liar, Julia,” came a voice from behind her.
Her head snapped up, and adrenaline shot through her like neutrons in a particle analyzer. God, she knew—and hated—that odd, rasping voice. Her body went rigid, while her heart decided she must be running a three-minute mile and went into frenetic overdrive. Her cool logic and acute analyzing ability evaporated in the muddle of shock and incredulity.
No! Not now. She fixed her gaze on the gleaming brass beer tap behind the bar. Willed that voice to be the result of her overstressed state—although she knew her current luck was on the crappy side of negative one. “Go away,” she said.
He didn’t reply, but she felt the air shift as he settled onto the barstool beside her. Felt that disconcerting energy buzz that always arced between them, felt the spike in her normally dead-as-dirt libido. Felt the beckoning warmth emanating from his body, in direct opposition to the power and danger he radiated.
She refused to look at him. If she couldn’t see him, he wasn’t really there, right? But that didn’t convince her clamoring senses, which had gone on full alert. His scent drifted to her—expensive, woodsy, totally male. That damned electricity continued bombarding her. Her nipples hardened and she grew damp between her legs. Damn him.
“I said go away,” she snapped. “Does it work better if I say it three times? Go away, go away, go away. Go. Away!”
“That’s six times, actually. And no, you can’t will me away. Besides, I came from Corpus just to see you.”
Her shoulders slumped. “Great. Exactly what I needed today.”
“I take it you’ve had a tough day.”
“It just got worse,” she muttered.
Miriam returned then, before Julia could bring herself to look at Adam. The young woman set the drink down, her gaze going to him, her expression surprised. He was quite striking, and since the bar wasn’t crowded, there was no reason for him to be sitting beside Julia. She was dowdy and ordinary, not in high demand as a flirtation partner.
“Can I get you something?” Miriam asked.
“I’ll take a Glenmorangie scotch, if you have it, straight up.”
Miriam nodded and left. Julia clutched her drink, considered slamming it down in one gulp.
“It would be nice if you would look at me.” His rough voice washed through her like a nuclear shock wave.
She turned her head, glared into cool, midnight eyes. “What are you doing here, Adam?”
He stared back, as always, calm, intelligent, and—as she well knew—utterly ruthless. His ebony hair was short, meticulously combed back from his high forehead. His features were harsh, aristocratic, with the exception of a surprisingly sensual mouth. The expensive black Italian suit was a perfect foil for his ultraconservative and autocratic persona, while the single diamond glittering in his left ear seemed incongruous.
“I need your help, Julia.”
This man had the ability to make her crazy, to evoke emotional responses that ran the gauntlet from sexually aroused to enraged. He threatened her on levels she didn’t even want to acknowledge, especially after today’s developments
“And I need a new identity and a new life in another country,” she retorted. “Sorry, but you’ll have to find assistance for your woo-woo endeavors elsewhere. I’m currently occupied with other matters.”
She took a gulp of her drink, almost choked as the burn spread down her throat. “And how did you know I was here anyway?” She returned her glare to him. “Playing stalker? Isn’t that beneath you?”
“Ah, Julia, you’re as blunt and entertaining as ever. I’m not stalking you, merely keeping track of you.”
Tracking, stalking—basically the same thing. She’d already been there, done that, twelve years ago. “Listen psycho-Sentinel, what I do with my life and my time is none of your damned business. Go away and leave me alone.”
His expression remained neutral. That was another thing she despised about him—his utter lack of emotional reaction. But then, he wasn’t really human. “Actually, I’m a Sanctioned, as I have previously explained. And you are my business, Julia. I’m responsible for every Sentinel and conductor in Texas.”
“News flash—I am not a conductor. Not in thought or deed. Been there, done that. I helped you track down a crazed bomber and watched my sister get sliced up by that bastard. I’m done. And if I correctly understand the Sentinel code of honor, you can’t force me to help you. So go back to your cave.”
“I’m not leaving, Julia. Like I said, I need your help.”
To hell with that. He could sit there all afternoon and watch her get soused, for all she cared. Miriam returned with Adam’s drink and Julia took the opportunity to finish hers. “I’ll take another.”
“Not unless I’m driving you home,” Adam said.
His arrogance upped her inner rage level. “The odds of that happening are about the same as solving Fermat’s Last Theorem.”
His ebony brows arched. “Hasn’t that been done?” He sipped his scotch, his fingers long and elegant around the glass.
Damn, the man had to be brilliant as well as annoying. “It’s still being debated, and it’s taken well over three hundred years to get this close. You are not driving me anywhere.”
“Then we’ll settle the tab,” he told Miriam.
She hesitated, glanced to Julia for confirmation. Not a problem. There were hundreds of bars in the Houston area, and any that were sans Adam Masters would do for Julia’s purposes. Better that she was closer to home, anyway. Then she could call a cab if she needed to.
She nodded at Miriam. “It’s all right. Be sure you pad the total a few times over. He can afford it.”
She fumbled for her cane, glad Adam had sat on her left side and hadn’t thought to confiscate it. It was a good thing for him that using the cane to get as far away from him as possible was a higher priority than smacking his hard head with it. She slid off the barstool, balancing her weight on her good leg, as Adam gave Miriam a fifty-dollar bill and told her to keep the change.
He moved to block Julia as she started toward the door. “We’re not done here.”
“We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.” She started around him.
He didn’t touch her—they both knew that often had undesirable repercussions. But his next words stopped her cold. “I know William Bennett will be released from Huntsville Prison in two days.”
So did she; that cold, impersonal call earlier this afternoon had dropped the bombshell. And wasn’t the Texas Department of Criminal Justice considerate to inform victims when their tormentors were let loose, not to mention its annoying habit of releasing violent prisoners simply because of overcrowding.
She swayed on her feet, pounded by an emotional barrage. “I’ve been waiting for you, Julia.” The man stepped from the kitchen of her home in Kingwood. He moved toward her, an ordinary-looking man with a monster’s soul. “You’ve been going out again, Julia,” he said in a soft voice. “Even though I told you not to. I was watching. I saw you flirting with those men. Why did you disobey me, Julia?”
She was not going there. It took a major effort to push back the memories, to pull together her scattered psyche and deal with Adam. She managed an attempt at levity. “You really know how to make a girl feel safe and secure, you know that?”
His eyes were cold pools of black menace. “I will keep you safe. You can count on it.”
From psycho-Sentinel to macho-Sentinel—make that macho-Sanctioned. She couldn’t deal with any of those options right now. “It’s not your problem.” She turned and made her way out, cursing the fact that her bad leg made her about as fast as a giant Galapagos tortoise on a slow day.
“The hell it isn’t,” he muttered.
Although he moved silently, she was acutely aware of him following her. Her entire body tingled, and she could feel the hairs on the back of her neck rising. He’d told her the reaction was caused by an electromagnetic current that formed between matched Sentinels and conductors and an ensuing sexual surge through the chakras. She’d told him that was a bunch of crap, with no scientific basis whatsoever. Even though she now knew better.
There was no denying the heart-pounding, visceral reaction she always had when he touched her. And when he’d kissed her at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport . . . Surely her reactions had to be exacerbated by the fact that she’d been celibate for twelve years. Deprivation could do strange things to people.
So could desperation. As she reached her car and fumbled inside her purse for her keys, Adam was far too close for comfort. She didn’t need his unsettling presence. Especially not after that cataclysmic phone call.
She didn’t find her keys, but she did find the grip of her trusty Beretta Tomcat. Taking that as a stamp of approval from fate—the bitch—she discreetly slid it out.
“Julia, we must talk,” Adam said. “I have a situation that is extremely serious.” Then he touched her, damn him, gripping her shoulder. She felt the sparks down to her toes, and everywhere in between.
“I have a better idea.” She turned, shrugging free of his hand and sidling a few steps away, keeping the gun behind her. He started after her, but froze when she swung out the Beretta and aimed it at his chest.
“Back off, Adam.” She clicked off the safety.
“Isn’t that a little childish?” he asked, not appearing the least concerned.
Actually, it was probably incredibly stupid; she knew that with his thoughts alone, he could control her body like it was a marionette. But she was beyond caring. She dropped the gun due south toward a crucial target. “Maybe I’ll shoot lower.”
Adam shrugged. “That’s not much of a threat to a man who hasn’t had sex in a few hundred years.”
“What?” Startled, Julia found herself momentarily distracted. All the Sentinel men she’d met had been ultramasculine, overflowing with testosterone and machismo. Adam was so intense and so forceful, he certainly fit the mold.
Besides, if she wasn’t mistaken, that was a sizable erection her gun was aimed at.
“Sure could have fooled me,” she said.
“Yeah,” he said dryly. “Me, too.”
“Touched by Light is a powerhouse of a book. Full of fast paced action, sizzling sexual tension, intense emotions, a strong mystery, and a brilliantly developed world.—I could not put this one down. This story is more complex than the preceding two books, requiring readers to pay close attention to keep up with what’s happening. Catherine Spangler has also expanded her universe with several surprises that are revealed, making us gasp in shock and surprise. The additional complexities enhance rather than detract from the main story with how they unfold.” © Kelly A. Hartsell, May 2009. All rights reserved
“Catherine Spangler continues this excellent series with another tale sure to keep your attention from first page to last. Adam Masters is as close as we could come to having a Superman helping protect the earth. Not only does he have super powers, he’s one of those men most of us would want in our lives even without the trappings that come with his race. He’s a perfect match for Julia Reynolds, a woman who’s been through the hell of rape and doesn’t want to let anyone close to her again. Their stubbornness throughout keeps us guessing as to whether either will give in. The great love story between the two is a feast of sensuality as the battle between good and evil rages around them. . . .Ms. Spangler has penned a unique sci-fi thriller sure to quench the readers’ thirst for a tale rich in scenarios that will give us that extra punch we look for in a great book.” – Dee Dailey
“Touched by Light brings Julia, a woman who’s life was damaged and forever changed by one horrific act and Adam a reborn and powerful Sentinel who wants to protect Julia even more than the Earth he is bound to . . . . I was enthralled from the beginning with their story and didn’t really want it to end . . . . Touched by Light keeps you on a triple loop roller coaster ride until the last page”. ~ Jo, Joyfully Reviewed
“The latest Sentinel “Touched” paranormal romantic suspense (see TOUCHED BY FIRE and TOUCHED BY DARKNESS) is an enjoyable thriller starring two interesting lead characters . . . . Catherine Spangler provides an engaging tale in her strong Sentinel saga.” ~ Harriet Klausner
“Spangler continues her series of dark, sexy and supremely powerful men with a tale rich in dialogue and action.” ~ Annette Elton, RT Book Reviews