Unraveled

Unraveled

by C. J. Barry

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780505525628
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/26/2003
Pages: 343
Product dimensions: 4.22(w) x 6.76(h) x 0.99(d)

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Unraveled



By C. J. Barry


Dorchester Publishing


Copyright © 2003

C. J. Barry

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-505-52562-3



Chapter One


Tru took a deep breath and stepped through the battered
doorway. A drinking glass shattered against the wall behind
her, splashing its lime green contents across one leg of her
silver bodysuit. A chorus of roars burst from the far corner
of the saloon. Tru froze as the blunt essence of The Rough Cut
attacked all of her senses at once. The noise, the smell, the
visual were overwhelming. In her mind, she fought to make
order of the chaos before her.

Noise demanded attention first. An ebb and flow of hearty
masculine bellows deafened the dreadful music straining above
the discord. Jeers, cheers, rants-they all melded into a
raucous symphony.

The smell, well, she didn't even want to analyze that. Her
nose would never be the same.

The visual would take a bit longer to sort through. The four
dilapidated walls were a patchwork of crudely attached
composite board marred with vulgarities in every alien
language. A serving bar stretched the length of the far wall,
manned by a single burly saloonkeeper. A haphazard collage of
tables and chairs in various stages of ruin littered the rest
of the place.

Then there was the patronage. Tru caught glimpses of scars,
matted hair, missing teeth and something furry in the corner
that she was trying hard to ignore. Men huddled over small
tables, heads close, grunting and chortling, watching her.

Lovely place. And to think that in all her twenty-nine years
she'd never been in a saloon. Nice to know she hadn't missed a
thing.

Over the general racket and chaos, Tru scanned the saloon and
spotted the man she had come to see.

She made her way through the crowded tables and overt looks to
where he sat at the bar, his back to her. She slowed as she
got closer and he got bigger. Standing behind him looking at
those broad shoulders, she nearly changed her mind about the
whole idea.

What did he eat?

She shook off the thought and spoke up, "Excuse me. Rayce
Coburne?"

The man before her turned around leisurely on his stool and
propped his elbows up on the bar. She froze as brilliant
blue-green eyes drilled into hers. They were hypnotic, a
stunning complement to the black hair that hung carelessly
over his forehead. Finely chiseled features under smooth,
bronzed skin fashioned a rogue's countenance. He lounged on a
bar stool amid the barrage of foul language and stench of
alcohol, looking completely at home. She couldn't tell how
tall he was, but he was solidly built. Big arms and shoulders
stretched the seams of the supple gray jacket he wore. His
white shirt collar was open, revealing a golden brown,
powerful chest. Strong leg muscles bulged through the light
fabric of the black pants. Even though she'd seen images of
him, the live, up-close version proved far more daunting.

He gave her a long once-over before breaking into a slow, lazy
smile.

"Have a seat," he said in a soft growl of a voice that burned
into her memory long after he showed her the empty stool
beside him.

As she sat down, she was keenly aware of his eyes scanning the
length of her body. Talk about distracting. Her pulse
quickened, her palms began to sweat. She rubbed her hands on
her thighs. The worse part was that he hadn't done a thing
except offer her a seat.

Annoyed at herself, Tru straightened. After all, he was only a
man. A man who would soon work for her.

Boldly, she met his gaze. "What are you drinking?"

Coburne narrowed his eyes. "What are you drinking?"

She hadn't planned for that. She never drank but she wasn't
about to admit that to him.

"Safin," she said quickly. It was the only intoxicating drink
she knew of.

His eyebrows went up, in respect, she thought. She hoped. He
held up two fingers to the saloonkeeper who nodded back.

The drinks appeared immediately and Tru picked up her glass as
if she did it all the time. She took one small sip. Nice.
Pleasant. Cool. She took a big sip and stopped breathing. Cool
turned to heat in a flash that shot from her hair to her
toenails. It was all she could do to stay on her seat.

Coburne chuckled softly next to her. Through the tears in her
eyes, she watched in awe as he downed his drink in one
swallow.

He immediately ordered himself another. Tru grimaced. She'd
better get to business before he drank himself into a stupor.

"My name is Tru Van Dye and I have a business proposition for
you," she stated firmly.

He stared at her for a full minute before answering. "How
much?"

Tru blinked. "Don't you want to know about the job first?"

He laughed low over his new drink. "I know the job. How much?"

She frowned. "I thought 15,000 credits up front would be fair.
We can negotiate the rest later."

Coburne choked on his drink. He gave her a hard look and then
glanced around behind her. "For just you?"

Sensing that she was missing something quite significant, Tru
replied carefully, "Yes. I'm good for the credits."

He blasted her with another killer smile. "You better be good.
I don't pay that much for any woman."

Tru's mouth dropped open in comprehension as his smile turned
sinful. The air changed around her, growing hotter and more
sultry. Coburne moved fast, slipping his hands around her
waist, pulling her up out of her seat and against him. She
gasped as her body made hard contact with his.

Oh dear. This was not going at all as she planned.

He lowered his face to hers and murmured, "Okay, lady. Let's
see what a man can get for 15,000 credits these days."

Incensed out of her initial shock, she shoved against his
chest and stepped back a fair distance from him.

"I don't believe this," she said with what she considered
exceptional self-control under the circumstances. "You aren't
paying for me. I want you to work for me. I am a client, not a
streetmoll."

By now, the entire saloon had seen and heard their
conversation. The peal of male laughter hit her ears like a
slap.

Coburne grinned wide and crossed his arms. "I think I prefer
to be the client."

Another roar of laughter. The heat of humiliation stung her
cheeks. At that precise moment, she knew that her carefully
crafted plan had failed beyond all repair.

Disgusted with herself and him, she turned and stalked around
the tables for the door. She'd blown it. And as far as she was
concerned, there was never an excuse for failure.

Nothing less than perfection, Tru. Her father's familiar maxim
mocked her.

She felt Coburne's hand on her arm just as she exited the
saloon. Effortlessly, he spun her around to face him and
pinned her to the rough outside wall of the saloon. Before she
could protest, his mouth covered hers with a scorching,
staggering kiss that made her knees buckle.

The kiss turned to pure liquid heat stronger than any drink,
pouring through her veins and igniting sensations she'd never
felt before. No man had ever kissed her this way 'all wicked
and decadent' putting his whole being into one, sole purpose.
It was her first full-body kiss. So, this is how it felt to be
seduced by a rogue. No wonder women fell at his feet.

His body pressed against hers and suddenly she felt as if the
oxygen had been sucked from her lungs, replaced by something
hot and volatile, ready to explode. She actually shuddered
from the intimate onslaught, unable to find a single weapon to
defend herself with.

Not in the original plan at all.

For the first time in her life, her body refused to listen to
her mind, not even when he broke off the kiss. His lips were
now making their way down her throat leaving a fiery trail and
moving still lower. But when he reached her breasts, she
froze. Too real, too close. Panic gripped her as she pushed
him away. He stood back, staring at her in confusion.

Quickly, she said, "Computer. End program."

Rayce Coburne and his heat faded away as the virtual-reality
simulator powered down. Even though only her mind had actually
been in the program with Coburne-felt him touching her-the
residual tremors still skittered through her nerve endings.
The VirtuWav was a marvel in technology and hell on your
senses.

Tru floated down the simulator's tube of buoyant gases until
her feet were back on solid ground. As the blue shield lowered
around her, she tucked her hair back into its tight chignon
and tried to compose herself.

She glanced up at her elderly colleague waiting at the
VirtuWav control panel. All she could see of Majj Noa
Leeberfinger behind the console was his shocking white hair,
ruffled and chaotic as if trying to escape his head. That head
housed a brilliant mind. Too bad she'd wasted his effort. How
was she going to break the news to him that she'd
miscalculated badly after he'd spent the past month building
this exercise for her?

Noa squinted at her as she stepped out of the VirtuWav. "So?
How did it go?"

Tru joined him at the console and gave her old friend a weak
smile. "Not quite as well as I hoped."

The older man's grey eyes widened in rapid panic. Tru patted
his arm and added quickly, "It's not your fault. I took the
wrong approach. I've got it figured out now." She didn't, but
she'd think of something between now and the time when she
needed to confront the real Rayce Coburne.

Noa fell in step beside her as they made their way out of the
VirtuWav lab and down the corridors of the research building.
Tru shortened her stride for the diminutive elder, his
shoulders hunched forward as he limped along. His silver
jacket hung like a sheet from his thin body. Although his mind
was a sharp as ever, he seemed to be moving more slowly these
days.

"I used all the information I could find to replicate
Coburne," Noa said apologetically after they'd cleared
security and walked out into the waning daylight.

Tru narrowed her eyes in concentration. "I think Coburne is
satisfactory. Perhaps a change of venue is in order. Somewhere
they don't serve drinks."

Noa shrugged. "I suppose I could alter the program, but you
realize, everything must be as realistic as possible. His
world is not like ours, Tru. It is different,
unpredictable-with life forms who act randomly and recklessly
with no forethought to consequences of their actions. I went
on the outside once." He gave a hard shudder as if reliving a
memory.

Tru glanced across one of the many pristine courtyards of
their world-the Majj Institute where she'd spent her entire
life. White stone buildings and towers around the perimeter
gleamed pink in the late day sun; so mirror-like you could
almost see your own reflection. Almost. The silver uniforms
they wore blended in so well, a person all but disappeared
into the Institute walls.

The landscaping was equally immaculate. Not a stray leaf on
the stone pathways, not a shrub out of place, not a dead bloom
to be seen. The flowers were perfect, every one of them
exactly like the next.

Tru gave a practiced nod to a pair of female colleagues
passing by, the full Majj crest on their uniforms gleaming in
the setting sun. She looked down at her honorary token crest
and tightened her jaw in resolve. Yet another reason why she
would not fail. Before this term was out, she would have her
full Majj crest. She waited until the women were out of
earshot.

"I've spent the past year working on this project, Noa. I will
not fail. Rayce Coburne is just a man. No more, no less."

Noa shook his head. "Not like other men. Not like anyone here.
He is rash, impulsive, dangerous"

Tru interjected, "He may be all that but he's also very good.
I need this coup. If I don't produce a major discovery and
secure my own Charter soon, they will kick me out of the
Institute."

Noa winced visibly. He knew as she did that individual
achievement was the only way to stay at the Institute past the
age of thirty, regardless of birthright. The Administrators
did not back losers.

He offered, "You don't have to worry about that for some
time."

She gave him a wry smile. "You've earned your place here. The
VirtuWav would not exist today if it weren't for your
research. I don't have such a luxury. And I don't have a lot
of time. Besides, this is for me. My right, my Charter. I
can't hide behind my father's past successes any longer."

"You helped him with those successes," Noa reminded her with a
scowl.

She shook her head. "You know it's not the same."

"But Coburne?" Noa raised his voice in frustration. "He's
nothing but a commodities broker, a common mercenary. There
wasn't another choice in the entire galaxy?"

Tru pursed her lips. It wouldn't do to tell Noa that she'd
found Coburne's name in her father's belongings. Noa and her
father had never seen eye to eye.

"Coburne is an acquisitions specialist and a good one. No
other man met my criteria. He can obtain any article a client
desires. He is well-connected, discreet and fearless," Tru
said firmly. "And, as far as I can tell, he has never failed
to satisfy his clients." She flinched at her choice of words.

Noa grumbled something low and then asked, "So what if Coburne
refuses your request?"

Tru smiled to herself. "He won't. We know he needs the
credits. Every man has his price."

They passed through the yawning archway into the Majj housing
complex where their paths split. Tru came to a halt. Noa
stopped in front of her, shaking his full head of white hair.

"Don't be too certain, Tru. You can't underestimate him." Noa
looked down at his feet for a few seconds and added, "You've
heard that he ... likes the women?"

The heat rose suddenly in Tru's cheeks. "Yes. That fact came
across particularly well in your program." She cleared her
throat. "Don't worry. I can handle him."

Noa's cheeks were red as well. "I certainly hope so. When do
you leave?"

"As soon as the meeting arrangements are complete with
Coburne."

He frowned. "I hope those exit documents I fabricated for you
work. If anyone checks the approval stamp ..." His voice
trailed off.

Tru smiled at him. "I'm sure they will be fine. Everything you
do is perfection." Then she paused. "I probably won't see you
again before I leave," she said quietly. "Thank you, Noa. For
all your help and faith."

He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his silver jacket and
shrugged his shoulders. "Nonsense. You don't need any help
from an old man."

"I will always need you." Then she lowered her voice. "And
don't forget to care for my flowers."

He rolled his eyes to the sky. "You still have those? Why do
you bother? They are nothing but rejects."

Tru corrected him, "They are unique."

Noa threw up his hands in defeat. "If you say so. I'll do my
best not to kill them all. You know I don't do well with
living things."

Tru smiled warmly and resisted the urge to hug him. That would
never do on the Institute grounds. "You are my only friend."

He gave a terse grunt. "Then I pity you and me because you are
mine, and we both should have more." He stared at her for an
awkward moment. "Be careful, Tru."

"I will," she whispered. He nodded once and turned down the
walkway to his residence.

She watched until he was out of sight and then headed in the
opposite direction. She hated lying to Noa but there was no
way she could tell him her ultimate plan or he would have
never forged her exit documents so she could leave the
Institute. But she had no choice. Her mission couldn't be
completed in a VirtuWav or through the Institute's archives.
This was to be a mission like no other with a reward far
greater than granting her a Charter to stay here. She would be
bringing history alive.

She smiled proudly. The Majj had single-handedly obliterated
entire diseases, developed life-saving treatments, created new
computer technologies, documented lost civilizations and much
more for the good of billions. It was her life's calling.

Nearing her apartment, she spotted a frail-looking plant
beside the walkway, its yellow flower head drooping toward the
ground while all the other plant's blossoms looked up. Tru
stopped in front of it and gave a quick look around. Seeing no
one, she stooped down, sunk her fingers into the soil around
the roots, and lifted it out of the ground. She filled the
hole it left and made her way with the plant into her
apartment.

(Continues...)





Excerpted from Unraveled
by C. J. Barry
Copyright © 2003 by C. J. Barry.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Unraveled 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
L.E.Olteano on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The overall rating for the series is 4 butterflies. I had a great time reading these books, I had fun, I got a healthy dose of smutty galore, and I was very, very glad I got a chance to read them.If I were to say what genre they¿d go in, since people are always big on tags and stuff like that, I¿d think these are romance with a sci-fi-ish twist, and not the other way around. There is a lot going on in each book, and there¿s a whole universe weaved for them, but I feel the main element is the romance. So I¿d disagree with some reviews I read up on Goodreads, that slightly bash them for not being solidly sci-fi. I don¿t think they were meant to be; and I don¿t think I would have liked them more if they would have been, honestly. Buuut then again I¿m not a sci-fi buff, I just like the occasional sci-fi because the book was very well written and the writer is very talented, not because of that genre. Anyways¿Unraveled (UN-Forgettable #2)This one came close to being my favorite of the series. I liked both Rayce and Tru, a lot, and their chemistry was awesome. I also loved the emotional tension between them, and the healing that their connection brought them both.The first part of the book seemed more fun then the second one, for some reason. Here I felt a slightly more interesting level of world-building then in the first, the whole Majj thing, and their intolerance for anything less then `perfect¿ seemed more sci-fi (to me) then the more space-fairytale flavor the first book had. The fact that I liked both the characters of course influenced me, and this would be a full 4 butterflies rating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Butterfly-o-Meter_Books More than 1 year ago
The overall rating for the series is 4 butterflies. I had a great time reading these books, I had fun, I got a healthy dose of smutty galore, and I was very, very glad I got a chance to read them. If I were to say what genre they'd go in, since people are always big on tags and stuff like that, I'd think these are romance with a sci-fi-ish twist, and not the other way around. There is a lot going on in each book, and there's a whole universe weaved for them, but I feel the main element is the romance. So I'd disagree with some reviews I read up on Goodreads, that slightly bash them for not being solidly sci-fi. I don't think they were meant to be; and I don't think I would have liked them more if they would have been, honestly. Buuut then again I'm not a sci-fi buff, I just like the occasional sci-fi because the book was very well written and the writer is very talented, not because of that genre. Anyways. Unraveled (UN-Forgettable #2) This one came close to being my favorite of the series. I liked both Rayce and Tru, a lot, and their chemistry was awesome. I also loved the emotional tension between them, and the healing that their connection brought them both. The first part of the book seemed more fun then the second one, for some reason. Here I felt a slightly more interesting level of world-building then in the first, the whole Majj thing, and their intolerance for anything less then 'perfect' seemed more sci-fi (to me) then the more space-fairytale flavor the first book had. The fact that I liked both the characters of course influenced me, and this would be a full 4 butterflies rating.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tru Van Dye grew up on an insular colony of Majj scientists. To prove themselves worthy, each member must succeed in a project, invention, or some type of major scientific break through before age thirty. Tru is now twenty-nine. She has less than a year to earn her Charter or she would be disassociated from her home planet. Tru decides to locate the legendary lost Curzon Collection. She has only a small plate to help her. But the plate is a key. She needs to locate three unknown pyramids, built centuries ago, on three unknown planets. The plate must be set on top of each pyramid in order to complete the plate's map. Then she must use the plate to locate and retrieve the Collection. However, the Majj are not allowed to leave their planet. Their own administrators keep them grounded. With the help of her mentor and only real friend, Noa, Tru gets off world and goes to hire the man best suited for the retrieval job. ...................... Rayce Coburne is building a deluxe spaceport, due for its grand opening in less than three months. Due to lack of funds, things are not going well. Then Tru shows up and offers him all the funds he would ever need, for a simple mission. Rayce would have refused instantly if his partner, Gil, had not forced him to be realistic. Rayce hates all Majj, for very personal reasons. He agrees to Tru's mission, but only if Tru agrees to also include a kiss each day. .................... ***** A stellar romance with action that Indian Jones would envy. Author C.J. Barry is quickly becoming famous in the sci-fi/romance genre and for good reason. Few in today's market can match Barry's intense action and suspense while keeping the romance alive as well. C.J. Barry is an outstanding author. Do not believe me? Simply read this novel. You will. *****
harstan More than 1 year ago
Going through her father¿s possessions following his death, Tru Van Dye finds an odd artifact. She researches the out of place item and concludes that she may have found the key to a treasure of ancient relics. More important to her, though she has always lived in a contained community, she feels strongly that she must complete her dad¿s work. This is her opportunity plus Tru has to secure her own Charter soon or she'll be asked to leave the scientific colony of Majj. A realistic, she knows she needs to hire someone who does this sort of thing for a living.

Rayce Coburne is no longer interested in treasure hunting. He is now devoting his time towards spaceport renovation but worries over a lack of capital to open on time. When Tru offers him a treasure-hunting expedition, Rayce reluctantly accepts though he prefers to reject this cold Majj scientist. Even worse, he is attracted to one of those icebergs so he decides on a ploy to get Tru to detest him. He will kiss her once everyday, but instead of sending her packing in warp speed he starts a supernova that lights up both their hearts.

Book two in C. J. Barry¿s outer space thriller is a delightful placing of Romancing the Stone but on a strange world (not that the Amazon Rain Forest is different than Atlanta). The story line is loaded with action and plenty of sizzling romance as the protagonists deny their feelings for one another. The key to this fine tale is that this non-earth orb seems like a genuine place obviously visited by chronicler C.J. Barry.

Harriet Klausner