Legacy excerpt #1
In anticipation of the release in October 2020, I wanted to offer a little bit-sized taste of what's to come. "Legacy" is book #2 in Saga of the Bold People, a follow up to my bestselling "Leopold." Mastrodai, Leopold's alien mate, is given his own point of view in this book. I decided the prologue would reveal certain scenes from "Leopold" but from Mastrodai's viewpoint. There are five significant scenes I touched on in the prologue and five months to go before release. So here's the first little taste.
What does a former assassin do when he’s not out there… well… assassinating? Saving his species from extinction, of course.
At least, that’s what Leopold wants to do with every molecule in his body. But the task won’t be fast or easy, and he can’t do it alone. Enter Mastrodai—a mrrog prince who has absolutely no desire to rule, much to his father’s exasperation. He craves the ability to prove his worth as a mate and to somehow atone for his actions that led to Leopold’s torture at the hands of an enemy. Making humans official would be a good start.
But politics rule no matter what the species, and Mastrodai has to maneuver carefully and risk what he has built to give his mate what he deserves. And when he realizes both he and Leopold have deeper feelings for Alex, one of Mastrodai’s human slave women, he knows his future is out among the stars with his humans, not planet-bound with his kin.
Unfortunately, before they can set their plan into motion, Leopold receives a vision that sends him reeling and questioning everything he knows about himself. A vision he must investigate, back to where he began—Lex, the backwater planet where he spent his early years, and where he swore never to return.
The explosion thundered against my eardrums, and I spun around, cutting off my conversation with a large group of crop tenders. All of us flinched as the boom thrummed through the air, and every mouth gaped, even mine, when the enormous fireball shot into the sky. Flaming debris rained down on the dry stalks, reaping chaos in seconds.
“Save what you can!” I said in Veruvian, the official intergalactic language. I ordered my bodyguards to split up and keep their eyes peeled. Then I sped toward the origin of the explosion, quickly outpacing Wekladai, my chief bodyguard. I lowered to all fours and raced into the danger zone, dodging and weaving around scalded metal and open flame. A growl sat contained in my chest, vibrating against my lungs. I bared my teeth, blood and death on my mind. Who would dare?
Who would dare?
Smoky hot air burned my nostrils and irritated my throat. I narrowed my eyes in deference to the discomfort, shrugging it off. I’d felt worse. The mrrog academy and my rite of passage had beaten weakness out of me. Not to mention my father’s lessons. I reached the epicenter to find that nothing but rubble and blackened ground remained of the supply building in that quadrant of the moon. I recognized a couple of corpses in the mess as I picked my way through.
My growl finally loosened, and I resisted panting to save my throat and nose. I would personally slice apart the culprit. It could only be sabotage. A competitor, perhaps, angered that I’d received the contract from the InterGalactic Council instead of them.
I straightened and stared in disbelief. Was my security so lax as to allow an enemy to saunter right in? I walked over to the top of a shallow rise to stare out at the acres of crops set in quadrant EC-1. The fire was out of control all around me, the smoke and heat flaming my rage deeper.
Wind rose up and blew away much of the smoke. Movement caught my eye, and I looked down the incline. I froze, staring at the creature standing not far away, next to an old, unused shack. A strange land cruiser sat right next to him. It was a male; of that I was certain. And... could he be... a human?
Yes, he was a human. And a thief. Familiar rejlfei hung from his shoulders and arms, the straps straining against the weight. Did he merely come to steal from me?
Hair as black as the void covered most of his pale face, and brilliant blue eyes reflected the distant sun’s light, reminding me of stars. He was tall for a human, with broad shoulders, and a lean body clothed in a black bodysuit. His face was sharply angled yet everything was well-placed, coming together in harmonious union. His expression was stony, and his posture spoke of confidence and strength. The aeunn in his hand never wavered as he kept it aimed at me.
Standing before me was no cowed human afraid of his own shadow. No. He was a predator, one made of grace and purpose and a formidable persistence. Why he was on my moon I couldn’t say, but he wasn’t leaving it. He wasn’t getting away.
I crouched slowly, not wanting to startle him. One good leap and I would be on him. Even as the human must have guessed my intent, because his eyes abruptly shot wide, the wind blew again, hurling his scent into my face. I took a deep breath. His aroma was dense and organic with metallic and synthetic undertones along with a masculine musk that caused me to salivate. It made me think of thunderous nights when electricity charged the air, where passion danced between lovers, a wild and furious battle of wills and the need to dominate. It was violent and edgy, tense and defiant. Alive. Real.
My vengeful rage morphed into a sharp, all-consuming need, and it nearly knocked me on my ass. The wind brought his scent to me once more, and one word repeated again and again in my mind.
My body responded in a way it hadn’t in years. Not since Nandeely. Every lover after her had been an itch to scratch. But this human? I had to possess him. I had to claim him now, before he got away. Before another dared touch him. Images of what I’d do once he was under my control caused my cock to slip out of its sheath. I growled at myself. It had been a long while since such control was beyond me. And I needed it now more than ever.
“Mastrodai! What did you find?”
I startled at Wekladai’s voice as he joined me on the hill. Only then did I realize that the human was on his land cruiser and speeding away, clearly determined to escape.
“Come!” I charged after the human with Wekladai on my heels. My hesitation and the human’s distracting scent had cost me. I snarled and leapt, landing right where the human had once stood. I raced after him but it was no use. I wouldn’t catch him. Despite my speed, his cruiser was just too damn fast. He tore up more crops on his reckless ride, and I took another deep breath, focusing on his vibrant aroma instead of the smoke and burnt metal. Unfortunately, he was soon out of sight but I couldn’t stop running.
“Contact Jauntai!” I snarled at Wekladai. He stopped and I continued on. I followed the human’s trail, easily distinguishing his fragrance amid the acrid burning of the crops. It was a warmth in my blood, a song in my head. I couldn’t analyze the effect he had on me, not yet. I was hunting, and I needed to focus.
The fire swept across the land far too rapidly for me to compete with. The trail was gone in an instant, his scent taken away, only smoke and heat in its place. I stood and growled, frustrated and angry at myself. Surprise had slowed my reactions and now my prey was gone. Prey that should not have found his way on my moon in the first place.
Unacceptable. All of it.
The obvious failure on all fronts burned my pride, and I dragged a hand over my hair. I turned around and huffed a deep breath at the wreckage. Duty first. Always duty first.
I will find you, human.
I hurried back, wary of becoming trapped by the flames. I resigned myself to an unpleasant call to my emperor. I met Wekladai on the way back, and from the look on his face, I rightly surmised the human had slipped through Jauntai’s fingers.
“Why did you hesitate?” Wekladai asked.
I growled. He wasn’t impressed. He was much older than me, about the age of my father, and had known me all my life. He used to be a compatriot with my father before I asked him to head my bodyguard team. He was the only one I allowed to be familiar with me. But right then I wanted to claw his face.
I turned away. “I must find him. Now. Immediately. Send probes. Look at the satellites, and see if they caught anything. I want that blasted human!”
He blinked and tilted his head, ears straight and pointed forward. “Why do I sense more than anger in your urgency? Why do I smell your arousal?”
I spun around and gripped his throat, baring my teeth. He gripped my arm and bared his own, daring me to start something. Our claws slid out, and I was seconds away from brawling.
“Do not question me, Wekladai,” I said. “Not now. Not in this. Find. Him.”
Wekladai growled and covered his teeth. I let go and stalked back to the spot I’d first seen him. It didn’t take me long to find an aeunn that was clearly not one of mine. I carefully picked it up, trying not to handle it too much. I sniffed it. Oh, yes, that was him.
Why hadn’t he shot me? He wouldn’t have missed.
“Jauntai is looking over the recordings now.”
I nodded. Without a word, I walked away, holding the aeunn delicately.
The proceeding week of clean-up didn’t allow for much sleep or distractions. Although I never forgot the human, I forced myself to concentrate. I wouldn’t be forgiven for anymore failures. When I was no longer needed onsite, I closed myself off in my office on my ship and gazed out of a large window. The endless black reminded me of the human’s hair, and the stars were his eyes. I shook my head and grumbled at myself. I was grudgingly impressed and proud of his escape. Prey was only worth pursuing when they made it difficult for the hunter. I had a feeling this human with the starry blue eyes was going to make it very difficult for me.
My reaction to his scent disturbed me. I’d never had such a visceral response even to Nandeely, the mrrog female I once thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. I’d had great affection for her and thought she was my kren. Life-mate—the most precious being in a mrrog’s life. It was a joyous occasion when such a mating occurred. It was seen as something cosmic, everlasting, solid.
Then she’d died.
I’d died that day as well. I’d still existed, breathing and eating, but I was nothing. I had nothing and wanted nothing. Then one day I woke up and decided I would live for her and make her dream of a galaxy-wide business a reality. That was many cycles ago and now this.
I stood and stepped closer to the window. I laid my palms against the frame and leaned against it, bowing my head.
Scent was my species greatest ability. Not only had it contributed to our survival in mrrogs’ distant past, it contributed to our enjoyment of life. It helped us find mates. Despite arranged matings, no union ever happened if scent wasn’t consulted. If the pair to be mated didn’t have favorable scents, the union wouldn’t go through no matter how much the parents wanted it to happen. It was understood that only a happily—or at least contently—mated couple would produce sturdy children able to carry on the species.
Considering all that... how could a human’s scent affect me so? I never thought less of humans or any judileni. I pitied them. My fascination with humans had started when my mother told me stories about her rite of passage, and her time spent with the humans in one of their small colonies on a backwater planet. I collected their stories and music in disk form, and when I bought human slaves, I requested they translate the stories so I could better understand their strange species. They had long suffered under the unofficial status, but while other such species became extinct, humans held on. They didn’t exactly flourish but they clung to life with a tenacity that intrigued me. I treated my slaves as well as I could without raising suspicion but I never took advantage of my power over them. The very idea was distasteful.
And yet I wanted to dominate that blue-eyed human. I wanted to overwhelm him with pleasure and have him scream my name. I wanted to claim him and show him off as mine.
I lifted my head and stared out the window, realizing with a fissure of shock that I wanted to—needed to—protect him. It was different and far more intense than what I felt for my slaves.
I swallowed hard and purred to calm myself.
Could it be that my kren was—void—a human? A human male?
I should be horrified and repulsed by the very idea. Instead I was surprised and intrigued. Why would my kren be a human male? His aeunn lay on my console. Why hadn’t he shot me? Was it possible he’d felt the same attraction I had? It would be cruel if he hadn’t found me as alluring as I found him. I purred louder for my own comfort. I would claim him. He was mine.
I doubted it would take me long to find him. Despite the satellite only capturing just a corner of an unknown ship, I had every confidence in my resources and the skills of my employees. Kren or not, he was mine. I would obtain him, and he would submit as my other slaves had. Once he was under my control, this aggravation would end.
My office comm signaled. I answered.
“My lord,” Jauntai, my pilot, said in Maggin. “The reports just came in regarding the three spinecurs found dead after the explosion.”
“Anything of note?”
“Aidaj wasn’t killed by the fire.”
“He was shot in the head while on his knees. It looks like an assassination. Maybe the explosion was to cover it up?”
I frowned and sat back, calculating what I’d observed about the human and what Jauntai just told me.
“Forward the report to my unit.”
“Yes, my lord.”
I disconnected and scanned the report when it flashed on screen. Interesting. Very interesting.
“Who are you?” I whispered. “I will find you. Count on it.”