CHRYS has past 25K words and remains on track for an early summer release. Until then, here’s a glimpse into an early chapter.
Pushing away from his desk, Chrys braced his palms against the window, concentrating on the cool glass to contain his desire to punch a wall. The low gray clouds shrouding the commerce buildings reflected his mood. He has not forgotten Marcella, but her death over three years ago was a quiet ache. A tender recollection of an impossible dream. There was a time he would have done anything to please her. Even now, he feels the draw of faded passion blended with obligation.
It was impossible. In addition to his duty to Blooded Dagger cartouche and Serengeti cartel, there was Thornscore. Now, there was this alert from the Genji Institute. He could not possibly respond to the alert from the Genji Institute, and it was even more impossible to refuse.
A distinctive chirp interrupted his thoughts. Lilian Thornraven. Although malicious gossip insisted her advancement was due to Monsignor’s favor, Chrys could testify she earned it with hard work, diligence, loyalty, and blood. Not that facts or evidence would silence those scandalized that Lucius Mercio advanced his former apprentice to protégé and then took her as consort.
Rising from her desk, Lilian’s gray eyes flashed welcome. Dark red hair confined in warrior’s queue, her slender figure moved with a lethal grace that has matured from the lithe athleticism of their first meeting. Other than the slight rounding between her hips, there was naught to hint at the life within.
Eyes narrowed, she waved a hand before his eyes. “Must you glance at my belly before greeting me?”
Chagrinned, he ducked his head. “It has been but a few sevendays. I am yet adjusting to the notion that one of the Thirteen Systems’ most feared combatants is with child.”
The barest hint of a smile replaced annoyance. “I cannot fault you for that as I also have yet to adjust.” Leading him to the sofa and wall reviewer, she tapped her slate. “Have you reviewed the latest requests for Bright Star mercium?”
Joining her, he was careful to keep a circumspect distance. Monsignor would not tolerate the slightest disrespect of his consort. “The demands exceed the requirements of the approved stellar transports by three percent. Do you suspect the Margovians seek to reverse engineer the substance?”
The Margovians and Broken Blade Cartouche dominate the Matahorn Alliance, the first among the cartels and junior partners in Bright Star. Horatio Margovian has been relentless in his intrigues to displace Lucius Mercio as Bright Star Preeminence.
“No. Even Monsignor Horatio cannot bypass Serengeti’s exclusive license. I suspect they wish it for experimental technologistics. Something lucrative enough that the Leonardo Society would side with Matahorn if it came to a vote.”
“What do you need from me?”
“Some notion of what technology could be so appealing?”
“Guessing that is almost impossible. Can Seigneur Trevelyan assist?” Serengeti’s spymaster had operatives everywhere. “Even a few hints would narrow the possibilities.”
“He has it hand. Expect to receive alerts within a few days.”
He would have no better opportunity. “As it happens, I may be on my way to Genji.”
Crossing his knees, he took a deep breath. “Do you recall my mention of Marcella? The Master Scholar’s granddaughter?”
Her hand settled on his wrist in a rare show of affection. “I recall you mourned her passing. And that you cared for her.”
“I could not speak.”
“You were an apprentice. It would have been an unpardonable affront. I have no doubt she knew.”
“So you voiced, at the time. I took comfort in your certainty. Now, I wonder.”
“You excel at masking your expression, both face and form. But your voice—when you are moved, there is a hint of Genji grain ocean burr. She would not have missed it.”
“Her grandmother has invoked an honor-bond in Marcella’s name.”
Lilian’s fingers tightened, her gaze sharp. “The master scholar is dead?”
Gaze dropping, she loosened her grip. “What is the forfeit?”
Chrys was not a warrior, but as Seigneur Rachelle’s protégé he must adhere to the warrior honor or risk damaging both his status and his mentor’s. “I know not. By the Master Scholar’s will, it cannot be revealed except at the Genji Institute.”
Holding his breath, Chrys prayed for one of Lilian’s insights. Divinely inspired or a flash of brilliance, it mattered not. He needed guidance.
When her head lifted, her eyes were clear. “There is no alternative. You must go. Your honor reflects on Serengeti and Thornscore.”
Sin Marston is a rare human who can see through glamor. With the veil with the treaty of 2010, the magical visitors, known as the Hidden, flowed into the Terran realm. With her unique talent, Sin’s services are in demand from businesses and law enforcement with Hidden problems. She also has a growing clientele of Hidden visitors wishing to avoid confrontation with the Human Protection Society and other anti-Hidden Terrans.
After thwarting a daring art heist, Sin encounters a stunning fire elemental who reveals the theft was something very different. Everything she thought she knew changes.
Radzik Cray has lived for centuries, building his magical and political power base. The appointment as the Elders’ Council Warden for the Eastern United States comes with untold wealth and power, as well as untold danger. When he meets Sin Marston, he is interested in a pleasant distraction. Instead, he discovers that Sin is not all she appears and his control over his territory is not as absolute as he thought.
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Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
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