Niika has a love for the land that goes bone deep. Even damaged by an old injury, she seeks out prey in the form of plants, animals and missing persons. Nik’s life revolves around her taking groups on tours of the wild and teaching them to live off the land that offers so much. Taking a group of aliens is a definite first.
The Nine need fresh supplies if they are to remain as a defense and an assisting partner to the people of Gaia. They also wish to know where their own people used to live and how. Cavos is a historian in search of the city of the Stone Folk, and he is quite surprised to find his mind turning from the past to the future when he meets the Gaian huntress who is leading him to his heart’s desire.
Niika looked around and waited. The grass in the meadow was ruffling lightly and the trees bent and swayed as wind moved them in rhythm.
Niika crouched down and held her breath as the hoof beats of one of Gaia’s rarest creatures brought it close to her.
The beast broke free of the forest and its thudding feet brought it into the open. Niika couldn’t stop the grin on her lips as it lifted its head, shook out its mane and horn and its nostrils flared.
Niika held perfectly still as the beast came toward her. Her heartbeat was slow and steady, but he sought her out with alarming accuracy.
The horn speared through the brush and stopped an inch from her chest before it eased in to touch her. She held perfectly still until the horn retreated and the lovely equine head nudged her. “Hello, love.”
She felt the warmth of his mind in hers, and she laughed. It had taken her years of running through the Archives with Daphne, but she had found an obscure reference to a mythical beast. A unicorn was here on Gaia, and it made for an excellent companion.
Niika came out of cover and wrapped her arms around his neck.
He rubbed her back with his chin and snorted.
“Who’s a good boy?”
He made a peculiar chortling sound and stepped back into the centre of the meadow. He bounced up and down on his hooves, waving the deadly blade of his horn around.
To Niika’s surprise, another one of his kind slowly came out of the green shadows and moved to stand at his side. She was lovely, a silvery black to his blue and ivory. He rubbed his head along her neck, and Niika smiled. She sent him warm wishes, and he trotted back over to her, placing his muzzle against her palm.
His mate looked at her with shy curiosity. She came up and carefully extended her muzzle to Niika.
Moving carefully, Niika held her other palm out and let the female touch her. When the light contact was made, Niika curled her fingers and stroked the underside of the female’s jaw slowly. The unicorn’s lids lowered in enjoyment, and she leaned forward in silent demand.
A sound in the distance brought her head around, and she stared with the two beasts at her side. “I am sorry. It seems my survival group has woken up. I look forward to seeing you again when I am in your territory.”
The male shook his long, glossy mane out and steered his female back into the cover of the trees.
With the last look at their swishing tails, she turned and walked back to the campsite. Time to take her city folk back home again.
Niika is determined her people will learn to live off the land. She does not want them to be unprepared to survive should the planet be attacked again. Her knowledge and skills have placed her in the unique position to help the Nine as they relearn their history in a hands-on manner. Cavos has an opportunity to study the history of his ancestors up close and personal. It is the chance of a life time, so why is he distracted by the woman guiding his group? Will he be able to convince Niika to accept him and all he entails?
Hunting by Viola Grace is sixth in the Return of the Nine series. Niika finds solace in the land. She understands the land, its animals and plant life in a way that is almost mystical. She is much more comfortable in the elements than with people. But that changes when she meets Cavos. Something about him calls to her even as she teaches him about her beloved planet. I love that Ms. Grace again gave us an innocent courtship. Sometimes simple is best, and Ms. Grace has a way of making the simple special. Niika's skills are necessary and place her in a slight position of power, but Cavos accepts Niika expertise in a respectful way even as he endeavors to get to know her better. Niika’s emotions are deep and something that needs to be mined with care. Cavos appreciates her limitations even as he strives to push her boundaries. I enjoyed this sweet story and am looking forward to more of the Nine finding their match.
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