May 31st is the beginning of the Brother Assassins series, and it’s time for a little preview.
Mal Renata was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, but it never stopped her from becoming the voice of the Braxian people. As an activist fighting off mankind’s inevitable slide into cruelty and prejudice, she wants to stop the Scourge bill from becoming law, but how can she do that, if the bill’s supporters keep dying? Public outcry wants someone to pay, so she intends to give them someone.
Until she tracks down, Adame Sacha, a Braxian freedman and one of the notorious Brother Assassins, she thinks the brotherhood is her problem. Instead, she finds they may be the best allies she could hope for. Together, she and Adame search for those who are eager to profit from the suffering of the Brax, and they track their prey in a world where lives are held cheaply, but death is expensive.
They may be able to elude the dangers of his world for awhile, but they can’t run from the attraction to each other. No matter what their differences.
She scrubbed a hand across her brow and rubbed the places where her head felt it might implode from pressure. Mal needed to sleep. She hadn’t gotten much rest last night. Because it was dark, she knew it was late. He’d been in there for hours. She looked again at the closed door. Should she tell him where she would be? She’d never been pursued by killers before. What was the etiquette? Irritably, she shook her head.
To be safe, she marched to the door, deciding on an all business manner, and opened it abruptly to tell him. Her words froze on her tongue. The strong, lean expanse of his beautiful back was fully exposed, as he wore next to nothing; Just a loose fitting pair of short pants suitable for attacking unsuspecting inanimate objects. A soft sheen of sweat glistened along his spine and chest as he threw sparring punches at a hanging bag in the center of the room. The bag was the only thing she noticed with a bit of color, beyond Adame’s celadon shade of skin, that is. Everything else in the room was stark white.
Judging from the strength of his attacks and the movement of the bag, she guessed he was working off some anger issues. She couldn’t exactly blame him. He had, after all, been tricked into harming his own cause, and faced the possibility of the systematic extinction of his race, not by natural selection, but by political genocide. It was a daunting prospect.
Mal stood, lost in thought, until he executed a lunging kick that resulted in a vaulting spin that ended in a punch of the bag from above. His body was capable of just about anything, she realized, and most of it was beautiful to watch. He had a perfect physical form in his discipline. His last strike brought him around at an angle so he could see her standing in the door. He straightened to look at her. Caught spying, she tried not to appear flummoxed, but probably failed.
“I just came to let you know I’m going to bed.” She pointed her thumb at the room across the hall.
He strode over to a bench to grab a crimson hand towel, wiping it across his face and head in swift strokes. Mal caught herself staring and tried to stop, yet she couldn’t look at him without memories of the night before. Every movement of his body caused total recall, sensory memory of his hands on her body. She inhaled, seeking calm, but only pulled in a lungful of the scent of him filling the room.
“It’s a bit early for bed, isn’t it?” His voice blew across her nerves low and tight. He was still angry.
“It’s been a long couple days.” Mal struggled to remain as detached as possible, but she felt the pull. He was pulling her into his storm with him. If her memory served, she could perhaps remember him using a similar tactic the night before. She really was tired. “Good night, Adame,” she said with purpose. She turned to leave the room.
With little warning, she felt his hands on her shoulders, and the world spun as he maneuvered her up against a wall. This time, though, she felt all that leashed strength directed her way, focused on holding her in place. He’d caught her off guard and it made her apprehensive, but she didn’t sense anything malicious in his intentions. She sensed desperation.
“What is it you want from me, Mal?” He demanded it as his hands worked their way in teasing caresses down her arms.
“I didn’t ask you for anything,” she answered calmly.
“Yes, you did,” he parried, his breath coming in great gulps from his hours long workout.
She paused her reactive reply that she hadn’t asked him for a damn thing. That wasn’t strictly true, was it? She smiled sadly and lifted her thumb to press it to his very kissable bottom lip that always captured her attention when he stood this close. “I suppose I did.” She shook her head. “It doesn’t have to be more than it was,” she said. Mal managed to hang on to her dignity as she said the words. This was her attempt to give him the escape hatch. She assumed he would take it, and then she could go cry herself to sleep.
Instead, he simply captured her head in his hands, and whispered, “Too late. Too late for that.”