AWERE-NESS

ReScue Series, Book 3

However you lived your past, today you’re the key to changing your future.

PG FIRST CHAPER

“However little you lived your feelings, you are as enslaved as I am to them.”

Leon's Mar
A Versace travel bag on his shoulder, Leon Sterling walked out of the arrival terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson ATL, Atlanta’s International Airport. Just three thirty PM and the place was packed, full of people on their way in to celebrate Thanksgiving with families and friends. Only two days away, Leon had not given it any thought. Now, seeing the crowd swarming the airport, he realized the holiday was much closer than he had realized.

Not that it had anything to do with his coming all the way here.

Looking above the heads of children running all over the cramped space, he spotted the man holding the cardboard sign that had his name written on it, so with two strides he reached him.

“Hello, I’m Leon Sterling.” On approaching, he extended a hand in the man’s direction.

“Pleased to meet you, sir.” The man shook it vigorously. “I’m Tony, the driver of the limo Mister Spencer sent for you.” Letting him go, the man glanced at a small notepad. “Did you have a good flight from San Francisco?”

“It was all right.”

Long for sure. Too fucking long to be sitting next to the one person who drove Leon’s senses wild with longing.

None of which Tony needed to know about.

“I believe you’re not alone…” Tony’s voice trailed off, as he searched the throng of people in the large terminus.

“He’s coming.” Leon whirled toward the entranceway.

Sure enough, it was opening to let through the most striking man Leon had ever laid eyes on.

Again, Tony checked his notes. “Mister Davis, right?”

“That’s him, all right.” Gesturing to Sean, Leon could not help the smile from curving his lips.

Slim. Elegant. Sensual. Splendid. Lustfully mouthwatering in a cock-tightening way. Tall six feet one. Toned muscled frame without the bodybuilding look. Miles-long legs that strode confidently forward. Scrumptiously tight ass. Shiny blond short thick hair. Regular clear-cut features. Straight nose. Thin lips. Firm chin and jaw. Arresting dark blue eyes ready to sparkle at him. Sean Davis was truly an exceptional specimen of the human male category, not to mention the most intelligent man Leon had the pleasure of managing or
boss around, as he liked to think of it. Intuitive and insightful, Sean was often on the same wavelength as Leon himself, when not anticipating him outright.

It had been the most astonishing aspect of all, for Leon had never met anyone quite at his level. Mentally or physically, men or women, all the others came up short in comparison, especially in satisfying his very demanding, exceedingly hungry cock. Definitely, Sean was the most exciting piece of ass Leon had the misfortune of knowing, which had nothing to do with his heart skipping a beat or two. Make that several painful ones. All to do with the sheer power of the feelings it had taken him a lifetime to acknowledge. Make that several bloody ones.

Yes, their connection went way back to distant pasts both he and Sean knew and remembered with extreme clarity.

“Is the woman also with you?” Tony indicated a petite brunette closely following Sean’s lead, pulling a small trolley behind her back.

Leon nodded. “Yeah, she’s with us.”

Janet Ramsey—now she was a real surprise, but not because she was nothing like the tall, gorgeous, vain women that usually crowded his bed. Janet was more of a cat if anything, with her incredibly expressive triangular face lit by huge eyes that changed color as fast as other women changed clothes, and just and as varied. Amazing body, too, perfectly proportional and balanced in a sensual mix that promised delights to anyone taking the time to explore it like Leon had, quickly discovering how easily aroused she was. Her body literally begged men to fuck it over and over, giving everything and holding nothing back, submissive and pliant but also reactive to the point of intoxication.

Which explained Leon’s irresistible attraction to her, also because his orientations had not changed. In spite of the incredible sex with Sean, women remained his number one choice in bed.

What really baffled Leon about Janet was her out-of-the-ordinary perception that had pieced together his connection to Sean, down to the reincarnations, the knife and the bloody sex. In fact, Leon still wondered how she had managed to be so accurate about something only he and Sean could possibly know about. Not content, she had taken this knowledge one-step further, giving him the key to understand himself—his feelings, mostly—and how unavoidably tied they were to his prey, the very same person he had destroyed countless lifetimes before.

That was where it had started. The disturbing sensation Janet was part of it, too, part of him and Sean, of the hunter and his prey, the third element that had always been alongside them however unaware she seemed of it.

“Mister Davis, I’m Tony.” Taking a step forward, the man clasped hands with Sean. “I’ll be your driver.”

“My pleasure.” Sean placed his worn Gucci travel bag on the floor.

“Mister Spencer sends his regards.” The driver picked up Sean’s bag and gestured for Leon’s, still hanging on his shoulder. “If you allow me, sir, I’ll carry it for you.”

“Sure.” Leon handed it over.

“Now, if you follow me, I’ll take you to the car.” Ignoring Janet and her trolley, Tony set off toward the exit.

“Didn’t think John would send someone to pick us up.” Sean grinned.

“And in a limo no less.” Leon took it leisurely, so he could talk freely without the driver overhearing a thing.

“We’re going to ride in a real limo?” Janet’s cat eyes blazed.

Leon checked what color they were. “That’s the plan.” Today they were almost purple.

“Cool.” She could hardly keep her excitement in check, her body waving in that characteristic way of hers that told Leon she would accept whatever outrageous sexual request he or Sean might ask of it.

“I didn’t think he’d go to all that trouble.” Quite unlike Janet, the blond beauty’s reactions were indifferent at best.

No wonder—money never impressed Sean, John’s least of all.

“For you, sweetie, he’d go to twice the trouble.” Charged with a husky breath, the use of the nickname was sure to take Sean’s mind off the imminent confrontation.

“Don’t remind me, lover.” Sean groaned. “Particularly since he’s planning to buy me up.”

“I already told you.” Leon squeezed his shoulder. “You don’t have to accept. If he’s offering money, you know I can top off any amount.” God knew he had enough of it to last several lifetimes.

“I’m not for sale.” Sean was adamant. “Never have been, so I don’t see why I should start now.”

“I know, but John Spencer seems pretty determined to have you.” Had been from the moment he had first seen Sean at SDM two years back, right here in Atlanta. “One way or another.” From large glass doors, Leon saw Tony rushing to a long black limo. “And he might not offer any money at all, simply an exchange of services.”

After opening the trunk, Tony dropped Sean and Leon’s bags inside. Without closing it, he went to the back right-hand side door.

“Blackmail is what I’d call it.” Grim faced now, Sean approached the door Tony held out.

“Is he really that bent on having you?” Trolley still trailing behind her, Janet hurried to the limo.

“It’s worse than you think.” Once Sean was inside, Leon plopped on the plush leather seat next to him.

Once Tony grabbed her trolley, Janet scrambled to take the seat opposite them. “Then he must be obsessed with you, Sean.”

At her matter-of–fact observation, Leon could not help being impressed by her quick insight. Barely six months since their first time together, neither he nor Sean had talked in any great length about their business, their time and conversations together mostly confined to the bed, the sex and practically nothing else out of it.

“That’s an understatement.” Sean fixed Janet intently, clearly as impressed with her intuition as Leon was.

Tony leaned inside the car. “Mister Spencer has provided a bottle of champagne, which you’ll find in the fridge.” He indicated a small black box at Janet’s side. “I hope you enjoy the ride.” Then he closed the door.

From the slam at the back, Leon supposed Tony had placed Janet’s trolley in the trunk and closed it. Now ready to go, the man got round to the front of the long limo and climbed into the driver seat.

Instinctively, Leon raised his gaze. Grown up in limos, he checked the separation between the front and back. And it was tightly shut.

“As obsessed as if he were somehow related to you.” She peered outside the tanned glasses, the kind that did not allow anyone to see inside.

“What do you mean?” Leon’s blood went cold all together.

She made it a point to swing her gaze back on him. “That maybe he was part of your past lives.” She stared him squarely in the face. “Maybe he traveled with you through all those other lives you’ve lived, a soul trapped between the two of you that can never be free of either.”

This time, Leon’s heart stopped dead. This was exactly what he thought of her. Now hearing it spelled out in no uncertain terms struck him too close to home.

Surreptitiously, he glanced at Sean from under his eyelashes and damn if his blond beauty did not seem as startled as he was!

“Come on!” Evidently perplexed by their reaction, she flashed an encouraging smile. “Don’t tell me you haven’t thought of it.”

“Should we have?” Sean was the first to recover the use of his voice.

“Of course, you should have.” In mock exasperation, she threw back her shoulders, as though getting ready for a fight. “You guys already defy all clichés about reincarnation.” She sounded vaguely envious. “No, make that your experience is extraordinary by any standard.”

The car pulled away from the curb.

“You don’t just remember vague images about what could’ve been a past life.” Curious, she squinted at the busy highway ahead. “You guys remember your names in all those other lives. You remember the history, the exact sequence of events, of what happened from start to finish.” She spun back to confront both of them. “Right?”

To the dot.

Leon had no problem seeing himself as Tylean, a panther or Rhodri, animal and men who had lived in other times and dimensions. Still always him, chasing the one and only prey he had marked for his exclusive use. Didri, gazelle, Aural or Sean—whatever name this particular soul had taken, it had always belonged to Leon in all of its previous female reincarnations. And in spite of the gender, it had always been as gorgeous as the latest version, however male this one turned out to be.

The sex, the blood, the knife—these elements had pulled them together again and again, despite the innumerable tragic consequences and deadly epilogues. The prey’s fault for loving a hunter that believed feelings would only spoil their arousing game.

But he had been a fool.

Not just in this life.

In the many, too many that had preceded this one, until an Indian guru and the prey’s cunning had made him see reason.

“However you lived your life, you are the key to changing your future.” Such had been the words of the guru.

“However little you lived your feelings, you are as enslaved as I am to them.” Such had been his prey’s attitude.

And damn him! He had been right all along about the annoying feelings, which had tied him to his prey lifetime after lifetime, not the blood and sex he loved so much.

“Yeah, sure.” Sean caught Leon’s gaze and held it. “We remember it all, but as far as other people go—”

“I’m sure they must’ve existed and interacted with you.” There was no trace of doubt in Janet’s firm pitch. “Except when you were in your animal form, it always looked to me like you lived in a community of sorts, surrounded by many other people.”

The limo seemed to pick up velocity. To no avail. The long line of traffic Leon saw in front of it promised nothing good.

“So some of these must’ve entered in collision with you,” Janet continued smoothly. “Maybe even influenced the way things went between you.”

Influenced? Ha! That was the real understatement, for she was right. He and Sean had never been alone in any of their lives, not even in their animal ones. Someone had always been alongside them in such a way that it had inevitably shaped their destiny. It had been the same person over and over, a soul reincarnating right alongside them, with the evident sole purpose of being both a key and a witness of every one of their transformations.

“Sort of like a…” Janet frowned in obvious search of the right word. “
Significant other.” Proud of her choice, she beamed an enchanting smile.

More than merely significant, it had been at very important third link between him and Sean. As Markay, a man in love with Didri, his actions had determined Tylean’s execution and Didri’s suicide. As a black panther cub, he had helped finish off the gazelle. As Myla, a witch in love with Rhodri, her skills had saved Aural’s hide when the hunter had almost killed her in a fit of rage. Then going beyond herself, she had taught Aural a trick or two about reincarnation, including that bit about how to change sex.

Hell! No one could have been better qualified, since she had done it herself before Rhodri ever thought of asking her to teach his prey.

Which was why Sean was a man in this life.

“Now that the two of you have reached a new level of awareness and of relationship, this person will probably claim his or her share of it.” It seemed reasonable enough to Janet. “For having put up with you two for so long, getting nothing in return,” she joked.

Amazed, Leon had to work hard not to gape at her.

No question about it, Janet was as much a witch as Myla had been.

She had to be!

How else to explain this new intuition of hers about Rhodri’s promise to Myla?

The way she talked, it sounded like she knew all about his vow that things between them would change in the next life, balancing the score to give Myla the chance to get him good and proper. A downright deal for saving Aural’s life and teaching her about reincarnation. A promise Leon remembered all too well and had every intention of keeping—especially because she had kept her side of the bargain—if only he could be sure Janet and Myla were one and the same, which maybe they were not. For if she had no problem getting the whole story, every small detail of it, she had no awareness of this very crucial one.

“How would you know he or she got nothing in return?” Leon challenged.

“‘Cause there’s never been any room for anyone else between the two of you.” Regretful, she shifted her gaze on the increasing line of cars blocking their way into the city.

This reminded Leon of the second reason he had insisted on bringing her along—to cure her of the dangerous feelings brewing under her cool surface, particularly of the ridiculous notion of being in love with Sean, and to dissuade her from trying any funny business with him, too. For Leon had the sneaky suspicion Janet was headed down the same road when it came to him, too, while the last thing he needed was to complicate his life with more dangerous feelings.

“So it stands to reason that whatever man or woman did manage to get close enough to either or both of you to make a difference would’ve gotten the short end of the stick.” Having taken a hold of herself, her voice steadied, “You are just too exclusive to let anybody spoil what you’ve got together.”

“That’s as true today as it was in all the previous lives.” Leon said it harshly on purpose to destroy her romantic illusions. “So what makes you think this person, if he or she really exists…“No, he did not want to give her the satisfaction of knowing she was on the right track, not yet, anyway. And one look in Sean’s direction confirmed his prey was thinking along the same lines. “That this person would have a better chance in this life?” Leon concluded.

“Things change, Mister Sterling.” Again, her assurance took Leon aback. “The more lives together, the stronger the bonds and the responsibilities.”

That did it! “So there you have your answer, sweetie.” He better change the subject before it got closer to home than it already was. “John Spencer must be someone of our past who wants to claim his dues,” Leon snapped, ironic to the point of being insolent. “That’s why he’s obsessed with you.”

“Analyzed like this, it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?” However convincing Sean sounded, Leon knew he did not buy it either.

Not in regards to John anyway.

“I wish you could see him, Lynx.” Sean grinned at Janet. “So maybe you’d catch his story, too.”

“Along with his previous name,” Leon taunted cruelly.

“You know it doesn’t work like that.” Janet flinched as though he had slapped her. “I just get images and sensations off people I hardly know.” More like disturbing visions that had plagued her from childhood, to the point of driving her into near isolation. “Never as clear as to get a name out of it.” Apologetic, Janet shrugged. “So, even if I came to your top notch meeting to get a glimpse of your Mister Spencer, I wouldn’t get that much out of him.”

“Apart from his fury at seeing a woman at his precious men-only meeting,” Leon snickered amused.

“And all high execs at that,” Sean joined in. “But at least I wouldn’t feel alone.”

“First thing John is going to do is nominate you to some high level position.” He gripped Sean’s arm forcefully, which was a mistake, a reminder of how hungry he was for the lean body next to him in spite of the exquisitely satisfying blowjob Sean had performed on the plane. “The creative manager for his entire holding.” Leon had to draw back. “So you’ll be on the same level as everyone else.”

Sean was not just smart or brilliantly insightful. He also had a keen artistic sense, partly the result of his college major, mostly the result of a passion he had nurtured for a lifetime.

“Will I have to call you
Sir from now on?” Janet quipped.

“Just as much as you have to call me so.” Reaching out, Leon wrenched Janet’s arm and dragged her down to sit on the floor between him and Sean. “Now why don’t we get a taste of John’s champagne?” He felt the limo slowing rapidly. “At least some good will come out of him and of all this traffic.”

As Sean opened the small fridge, the limo came to a complete halt.

“Well, I’ll be damned.” Retrieving the bottle, the blond beauty studied the label. “A Krug Clos d’Ambonnay.”

Leon loved the sound of it, pronounced with a French accent that seemed authentic. Only recently, he had learned Sean spoke Italian, Spanish and a bit of French. An invaluable knowledge in FDC, John’s company devoted to marketing American products in foreign markets and Leon Sterling’s current CEO’s position, in charge also of Sean Davis, the most unique employee of them all.

“What’s special about it?” Janet grabbed three crystal flutes off a small rack above the fridge.

“The price for one.” Sean chuckled, holding up the bottle. “This particular brand and year costs about three thousand dollars a bottle.”

Not surprising Sean would know a thing like that. The only wine expert Leon had ever met, Sean had a profound knowledge of the different types. How they varied in taste and smell. How to select them according to the food one ate. And though Sean had never brought champagne home, Italian white wine more to his taste, Leon had no doubt he was as much an expert of it.

Then again, unlike John or Leon himself, Sean Davis did not have three thousand dollars to blow on a bottle of wine.

“That much money?” Janet stared wide-eyed at the bottle hanging in midair, as though it had suddenly become an alien.

“That much.” With few adroit gestures, Sean removed the plastic wrapping. “Mind you.” Tossing it aside, he began working of the metal casing. “It’s one of the best of this class, but if John really wanted to show off, he should’ve gone for a champagne rosé.” He lifted the metal casing off the bulging cork. “Instead of the classic white brut.” And finally unscrewed the cork without spilling a single drop.

Janet held up the first of the slender flutes that Sean filled to the rim, dosing the liquid expertly to prevent the bubbles from overflowing. Then she handed it to Leon.

“A toast.” He raised it, waiting until both Sean and Janet had their own. “To us and to the beginning of our adventure.” Clicking the crystal edge to the other two, Leon sipped the cool liquid. As Sean always insisted, he did not drink down like some cheap beer, rather relished the stinging sensation trickling down his throat and the intensely dry taste exploding in his mouth. For the longer he stayed with Sean, the more he became a wine lover.

A low buzz drew his attention to a small receiver on his side of the seat. Picking it up, Leon cradled it against his shoulder. “Yes?”

“It’s Tony, sir,” the driver’s tone was somber, “I’m afraid we’re caught in a
bit of traffic.”

Gulping more of the champagne, Leon checked outside the window. The bit of traffic looking more like hours in line. Probably nothing unusual, it was almost six PM, after all, two days
away from a national holiday no less.

“Rush hour plus Thanksgiving traffic will make us sit tight for a couple of hours at least.” Tony confirmed Leon’s guess. “Just wanted you to know.”

“Thanks.” Replacing the earpiece, he ended the conversation.

“So we’re stuck in here for a while?” Mischievous blue eyes sparkled in Leon’s direction. “And to think my boss hates wasting time.”

“Who says it’s going to be wasted?” His lips curving in a snarl, Leon clamped Janet’s neck and pressed her face on Sean’s groin.

Soon, sweetie, real soon. Lips curved in a snarl, the hunter pushed his blond beauty forward. “I’ll tell you when the time comes.”