Legacy excerpt #4
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 fourth 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.
I’d thought I had him on Terk’s ship. I nearly had him on Kvasr. I’d failed both times. Now we were on Chung-Ze, and this time I finally found success. Though I greatly disliked the tactics he forced me to use. After the chase and his infuriating escape on Kvasr, I knew drastic measures were required. Tranquilizing him hadn’t been my first choice but he wouldn’t come quietly or willingly.
“I am sorry to do this, Leopold,” I said in Veruvian as I leaned over his prone body.
His eyes flashed with aggression, and his scowl deepened the lines on his face. He still defied me. Even after all this, after his clear defeat, he rebelled.
“Get sucked in a black hole.” Then his eyelids fluttered as the tranq took full effect, and he collapsed on the ground, motionless except for his breathing. The bright light of fierce intelligence in his eyes, and the tension of his disciplined body convinced me he was my match in every way. It was up to me now to prove it.
I carefully lifted Leopold into my arms, wincing at the pain radiating through my groin. I hadn’t been able to control myself, and he’d taken advantage of my weakness, not even pulling his punch. I didn’t expect anything less from the ruthless Voidstriker. He’d killed a total of three of my guards during our chase, and while I regretted the loss, I had to admire his determination to act. He never hesitated to kill to survive. Except on my moon. When we first saw each other. That gave me some hope we could find common ground. He could have shot me and didn’t.
The tranq had knocked him out cold, and I took a moment to get a closer look at his face and his body. He was both smaller and larger than I thought he’d be. He was taller and broader than any of my human slaves yet still smaller than me. That shouldn’t surprise me but his ferocity gave the illusion that he was bigger and stronger. He was clad in black, making his skin stand out whiter. His limp state bothered me. He was a creature of action, not quiet or calm. His head hung backward over my arm, exposing his throat, and the vulnerability clutched my gut. If I was anyone else... he should be thankful I was the one to finally capture him.
Scars on his cheek stood out starkly and I growled. No one would ever harm him again.
“My lord?” Wekladai approached me cautiously. “We caught the blynn.”
“Good. Bring him to me.”
I shifted my arm slightly, and Leopold’s head flopped against my chest, his throat covered. That was better. I sniffed his hair and barely resisted licking his cheek. I wanted to know his taste. I was certain it was better than even his scent. He was mine now. After all this time he was finally mine. I held him tighter against me, his arms dangling past mine, strong hands and long fingers adept at battle. I could spend the rest of my life looking at him. I hoped I would get the opportunity.
He still smelled of the garbage and rancid river on Kvasr but disgust didn’t enter my mind. I focused on his aroma. Only him.
Wekladai and Aurnkai brought the blynn, JuJu, stumbling toward me.
“Remove the blindfold.”
JuJu blinked a few times before focusing on me and then on Leopold in my arms. He growled.
I growled back.
“He will never submit to you,” JuJu said, baring his teeth, his long ears pulled back. “He isn’t afraid of death, and he won’t hesitate to take his own life. You will never have power over him.”
His words brought back the terrifying image of Leopold holding the aeunn to his head, threatening to blow himself away. I held him even tighter, pressing him against my chest. He was warm and alive, and he would stay that way.
“Put him in a cell,” I said to Wekladai. They dragged JuJu away, and I took a deep breath, swallowing my growl of denial. I would make Leopold understand. I wanted his life, not his death. I wanted his mind, heart, and body, not his pain and misery.
I glanced down at him once more. His face was smooth and untroubled in sleep. I noticed some stiff hair across his chin and cheeks and wanted to rub my face against it. I wanted to rub my face against all of him. I purred softly before walking back to the shuttle that would take us to my ship.
Once we were alone in my suite, I gently lay Leopold on the bed. Only then did I allow myself to nuzzle his head, his face, feeling the stiff facial bristles scratch my skin. I clenched the blankets to keep my hands from wandering. After a moment of indulging myself, purring softly in relief and satisfaction, I found and confiscated all his weapons. He had many hidden, and I was impressed by his cleverness and the variety of his arsenal. There was even a hook behind his ear. I didn’t know what it was for but it would be wise not to leave him with anything that could harm me or himself. When he woke up, we would come to terms.
Our encounter replayed in my head once again, and I frowned, worried. He’d convinced himself that I was determined to torture and kill him. I would need to change his perception of me. I might have to once again use extreme measures to keep him with me. Not yet. Not until I determined there was no other choice. The Oath of Orlen wasn’t something to play around with, and it would put me at a disadvantage. But the idea of having Leopold bound to me was an exciting one. And perhaps it would also, finally, prove that I wasn’t his enemy.
I opened a wall compartment to reveal a droid. It didn’t resemble any known creature and was rather boxy and simple. I turned it on and ordered it to clean Leopold up. It would also take his measurements and produce new clothes while his current ones were washed. While I would greatly enjoy discovering his body myself, the thought of taking advantage of his vulnerable state disgusted me as much as the idea of taking advantage of my slaves. We’d already had an awful start in our relationship—I wouldn’t get anywhere by making it worse.
I left Leopold in the droid’s capable and emotionless hands and retired to my office. I closed myself off and after stowing his weapons safely out of his reach, I took a deep breath. I did it. Finally, I did it. He was mine, and he would grow to like it. If he knew what was good for him, he’d submit and follow along.
But JuJu’s words still disturbed me, and Leopold’s actions made me doubt my abilities to make him understand.
Sparking on an idea, I contacted Alex on the monitor I’d installed in the slaves’ quarters long ago. She answered after the second beep, her sweet, lively face popping on screen.
“My lord?” she said in Maggin, her growls as accurate as a non-mrrog’s could be.
“We have a new human guest on ship,” I said in Veruvian, quickly calculating how long the tranq would last. “I need you to bring food to him in my suite in about an hour. Talk to him. Assess his state of mind. Call me back with an update. Oh, and he injured his ankle. Bring the cream for that.”
“Consider it done,” she said in Veruvian, smiling. She never met my eyes, her entire posture deferential but since I never scented fear from her when I was in her presence, I knew her submission was out of respect and loyalty.
Pink entered her cheeks. “You’re welcome. May I ask his name?”
“Leopold.” I paused before adding, “He’s the one I’ve been searching for the last few cycles.”
Her eyes flashed up and met mine for a brief moment. “Voidstriker?”
I huffed a breath. “Yes.”
She looked as stunned as I’d felt when I first discovered his true identity. The revelation made me want him even more. Intelligent, ruthless, and patient. Yes, he would make quite the companion.
“Is he all right?” Alex asked. “Does he need Ferthan?”
I shook my head. “I had to tranq him. He’s only sleeping.”
I huffed a bitter laugh. “His reputation is certainly well-deserved.”
She bit her bottom lip, and I sensed she wanted to say something. I tilted my head and waited her out.
“May I ask a question?” she asked.
“He, um, doesn’t have the best opinion of you, does he?”
I snorted. “No.”
“I’ll set him straight. Don’t worry, my lord.”
The warmth of her loyalty eased the tension in my shoulders, and I purred in gratitude. “I would appreciate it if you could offer him a different perspective of who I am.”
She smiled widely, briefly meeting my gaze again. “It would be my honor to do so.”
“Thank you again, Alex.”
Her face turned pinker, and she looked down. “You’re welcome.”
I disconnected the call and sat back. Soon I would discover if I’d just made the best decision of my life or the worst.