Victor turned his back on everything he knew -- everything he thought he was -- to help Michael Tanner be free from his Areth tormentors. Now, he is at the mercy of Phoenix and their mission to be free of the very enemy Victor represents.
Something dark haunts Victor, threatening to steal his sanity -- even his life. He doesn't understand it, has no name for it; he only knows the malicious darkness in his mind wants him dead for his treachery in helping the humans.
Only in Beverly Surimoto's tender touch does he find some fraction of peace. But how much can he take from her before it's too much? How much before she realizes the demon he is and turns him away?
Victor's sorrow was smothering, sucking the air from the room and squeezing Beverly's chest until she had to take a step back and regather her defenses. Swallowing against the onslaught, Beverly walked into the dark room.
Victor sat on the floor with his back against the wall and his knees drawn up, his head buried in the bed of his folded arms. Hot tears burned Beverly's ees as she knelt beside him, his sadness was so tangible. It raised the hairs on her arms and made her heart ache. She had to fight the urge to reach out and touch his hair, smooth her fingers through it, and comfort him. If the intensity of his emotion was this great just by proximity, Beverly was afraid what she would feel if she touched him. Instead, she knelt as close as she dared without making contact and clenched her hands in her lap.
Before she could say his name, he raised his head, his black eyes seeking her out in the dim light. The soft glow of the hydrogen gel from the hallway lit his features, highlighting the damp streaks on his cheeks.
"Beverly," he said, his lips moist from his tears.
His body shook and his expression twisted with agony as new tears filled his eyes and he looked toward the ceiling. Victor laid a hand across his brow, bracing his head as another wave of anguish slammed through him, and through her. Beverly curled her fists, her nails digging into her palms, and she felt her own tears fall. "Victor, please. Tell me. What is breaking your heart?"
She could barely read his lips, but his repeated words finally registered. "I killed her."
"Who?" she asked.
He shook his head, rolling it against the grayed padding behind him. Like a creeping shadow, Beverly felt the cold presence slide over Victor and push against her. Not like the day before when 'Victor' had snapped out of sleep to attack Michael. Then, she had only felt the other mind that was not Victor. Now she felt them both; the tormented sadness that smothered Victor, and the cold, calculated darkness that reinforced it.
Victor shook his head more violently, pressing the heels of his hands against his temples. "No!" A violent tremor shook his body. "No!"
He started to roll away, and before she could tell herself to stop, Beverly reached for him and wrapped her fingers around his wrists. She gasped at the jolt, but it wasn't the drowing wave she had expected. An echoing scream resounded through her mind, and she felt the dual entity retreat. Victor stiffened and arched, then slumped as his gaze shifted to her again, wide and confused.
Beverly panted several breaths, trying to push past the shock and uncertainty that collided in her mind. If she had been confused before by the mysteries of Victor's haunting, that confusion multiplied exponentially. Victor turned his hands to loosen them from her grasp, but didn't move from her touch. He ran his fingers along her skin and the back of her knuckles, deep lines furrowing his brow as his gaze followed the point of contact. Beverly smiled and did what she had wanted to do since she came into the small cell; stroking her fingers along his short, black hair and cupping his head in her palm.
Victor's eyes closed, and the jumbling chaos that had surrounded him since his awakening quieted to a muffled whisper as he released a shuddered breath. Beverly didn't resist as his arms wrapped around her and pulled her closer. She embraced him, rising on her knees to move closer and let him hold her as tight as he needed.
Posted by Sally Pink Reviews on 23rd Feb 2013
"Outcasts" is a stellar installment in "The Phoenix Rebellion," Delaney's sci-fi/speculative romantic fiction series. Dr. Beverly Surimoto is one of the leaders of the Rebellion, but she's also an empath. Victor is an Areth who has been in a coma since joining the Rebellion. When Victor wakes up, he displays violent tendencies, almost killing Michael before Dr. Quinn can subdue him.
Set in the near future, 2052, the novel opens with a high octane fight between the Areth and Human operatives in Washington D.C. Slowly, the Areth are gathering information on the Rebellion.
In Colorado, the Rebellion's high command is planning their next move when Victor wakes up. Victor's behavior is violent and aggressive toward the Rebellion. Dr. Lilly Quinn, a medical doctor, can find no biological reason for Victor's behavior. The tortured Areth is able to find brief respite when Beverly Surimoto is nearby. Beverly is an empath. She's able to touch Victor's soul and help him fight his demon.
Beverly and Victor grow close. Both Victor and Beverly realize there are two distinct personalities in direct conflict with each other in his body. When Victor's demon physically attacks Beverly and destroys the neural interface to her voice synthesizer, Beverly and others are forced to learn sign language to communicate.
Dr. Quinn soon develops a neural inhibitor to suppress Victor's demon. Victor is allowed to explore the complex. He also grows closer to Beverly and the couple share several heated kisses. Unfortunately, there are several questionable incidents that occur after Victor is given limited freedom. Victor appears to be a traitor. The Areth then attack the Colorado complex forcing the Rebellion to flee to another base. Is Victor a traitor? For Beverly's sake, he prays he's not.
Delaney's story moves forward in an effortless fashion, keeping the reader engaged. She uses a good economy of words to paint her futuristic world without slowing down the pacing of the story.
Victor and Beverly shine in this story. Victor reveals that Areth visited Earth 500-600 years ago and took several humans, cloning them to house their psyches. Victor believes it's his human and Areth personas at war in his mind. As an Areth, he shouldn't be feeling trust, concern, and kindness toward Beverly but he does. His body reacts in all too human ways when Beverly is close.
Beverly has had to fight for everything she's known since she was a child. She's highly sensitive as an empath, but when it comes to Victor, she doesn't know if she can trust her gut instincts. The couple's attraction to each other isn't just physical. Both have broken through each other's emotional walls.
"Outcasts" is sophisticated/intense for romance readers. The love scene between Victor and Beverly is sensual and highly charged. Delaney's created an outstanding series with a cast of characters that resonates with readers.
Posted by Desert Breeze Publishing on 1st Feb 2013
"Ms. Delaney has once again created a fabulous book that takes a thrilling ride into a world that only wishes their freedom... Be prepared to be captivated by another excellent winner by Ms. Delaney."
~ Linda L, Fallen Angel Reviews