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Here are a couple of sneak peeks!
Ambassador 1: Seeing RedI had never been on first-name terms with the president, but while I sat there trying hard not to succumb to jet-lag, he chatted about my father, whom I had just visited, and who had finally retired from Lunar Base to his native New Zealand. Sirkonen opened the drawer of his desk and took something out, which he flipped across the gleaming wooden surface. I could do nothing but catch it. A datastick. I turned it over. The black plastic cover reflected the sunlight.
“What’s on it?”
“You might find it useful. Think of it as some . . . personal advice, from me to you. We’ll talk about it later, when you return for your first briefing.” He shut the drawer with a thud as if closing the subject.
This was highly irregular. “Mr President, can I ask—”
He shook his head, and offered me a drink—Finnish vodka, best in the world, he said. While he poured, his hands trembled.
I should have insisted that he tell me what was wrong, but who was I? An unimportant, sending-out-our-feelers type of diplomat, expendable and twenty years his junior. Not the type of person to draw attention to his problems—with alcohol or otherwise.
We made a toast. The heavy scent of the vodka did nothing to improve my alertness.
“Mr Wilson, when you come back in six month’s time, you must present your report to the general assembly. We need to know in detail what sort of regimes we’re dealing with.”
I didn’t understand why he spoke in such empty generalities; I wondered when he was going to open that folder on his desk and sign the contract. Nicha, my Coldi assistant, was waiting in the foyer. We had a whole heap of work to catch up on. I was annoyed that Sirkonen had changed our meeting time at the last minute—the original meeting had been scheduled for tomorrow morning.
Sirkonen stopped speaking.
I stared at him, realising with embarrassment that I’d been off with the fairies. Was I meant to have said something? Was I breaking rule number one of the diplomatic circle: never show any sign of sleep deprivation?
An attack of dizziness overtook me. My vision wavered, as if the world were painted on a silk flag that flapped in the wind, and all the furniture was rimmed in a red aura. “Mr President, I’m—”
I just managed to put my vodka down. The glass hit the wood with a soft clunk, the only sound in the frozen silence.
There was a small sound from outside, a click.
As if stung, Sirkonen turned to the window; his eyes widened.
The president opened his mouth, but a sharp crack interrupted his words.
Releasing RageShe stepped into the firewall square. The door behind her closed and she authorized the interior door to open.
A buzz swept over her. No, not simply over her. Into her. She gasped, her inhalation of air drawing more of this unknown presence inside her.
It was too much, almost suffocating. Joan swayed, lightheaded. “Do not faint. Do not faint,” she repeated to herself, closing her eyes.
The rolling under her feet gradually stopped. She opened her eyes and wished she hadn’t. Crimson spray covered everywhere she looked. Gore was splattered into the farthest corners, hanging from the ceiling. Cleaner bots scrubbed the walls and floor.
This was why she felt dizzy, she reasoned. She smelled and sensed this butchery.
C899321, the being she had been told was responsible, stood in his uploading dock, a cable inserted into his nape, his towering form naked, covered with blood, his long black hair dripping with it.
He turned his head, locked his gaze with hers and she sucked in her breath. There were worlds of agony, of rage, in those bright blue eyes. This was no rational, logic-driven cyborg. This was a man, an animal, crazed by bloodlust and pain.
“They thought to pacify me with the use of a human female?” he thundered, his deep gravelly voice clawing across her skin, awakening parts in her she didn’t realize slept. “I’d kill you before I allowed you to touch me.”
This insult didn’t hurt her the way he’d intended. Joan knew she wasn’t the slim tiny female males desired. She was solidly built, good breeding stock, as her mother had once said.
She discarded his words and focused on the torment in his tones. He hurt. Horrifically. Her fingers twitched, the urge to reach out to him, to comfort him, tremendous. Judging by the flex of his powerful biceps and thigh muscles, by the anger radiating from him, he wouldn’t appreciate that response.
He also wouldn’t listen to any command she issued. A reprimand, verbal or physical, would add to his hostility. Some being had already tried to restrain him and failed. The reportedly unbreakable wrist and ankle cuffs attached to the frame of the uploading dock had been shattered, rendered useless.
Joan discarded four solar cycles’ worth of theory on how to handle malfunctioning cyborgs, realizing now that the academy experts knew nothing.
Her late father, however, had taught her how to deal with wild beasts.
“I would never touch you without your permission.” She lowered her gaze, showing submission, recognizing C899321 as the dominant male he was. He’d seek to harm any aggressor, to protect himself and his territory. If she wasn’t female, she suspected she’d already be dead.
“I also would never hurt you.” Joan stuffed a couple of cleaning cloths into her pockets and dropped to her knees, into a puddle of red. The moisture soaked through her flight suit. “I’m here to serve you, to clean you.”
Captured by the Cyborg
By Cara Bristol
“If I stay here, he’ll attack. My presence endangers you and your employees.”
He regarded her with an assessing gaze. “You and he share one thing in common. You’re a computer sensate, too, aren’t you?”
Her jaw dropped.
“That’s how you fixed Baby,” he said.
She swallowed. “Yes. My gift is…um…quite advanced. It was the only reason I could stay a step ahead of him, but with his moderate ability and political connections, he’s been able to find me.”
Dale slapped his knees. “Here’s what’s going to happen. First, to put your mind at rest, let me assure you that Alonio is no threat to me. I’m a cyborg. Keeping people safe is what I do. He might succeed in drawing a little blood, but I’ll wipe up the mess with his ass. Second, while I doubt he can gain access to Deceptio, as a precaution, I’ll amp up security.”
“About that…” She had to tell him how she’d changed the entry protocol. He wouldn’t like that she’d gone behind his back. “I need to tell you…”
He held up his hand. “Let me finish. Third, you are not going anywhere. You’re staying right here where I can protect you.”
The autocratic edict set her teeth on edge. “You can’t keep me here!” She hadn’t fought so hard for her freedom and safety only to be dictated to by another man, however well intentioned. She was nobody’s captive!
“Yes, I can.”
Let him try! “As you’ve realized,” she said, “I’m a master sensate. A computer system doesn’t exist that I can’t infiltrate. I can hijack one of your spaceships and be gone before you realize there was a breach. Your entry and exit protocols, for instance—”
He leaned in until his breath caressed her ear, and he whispered, “Did your orientation tour happen to include a visit to the brig?”
He was threatening to lock her up? She jerked away and rounded on him. “What are you saying?”
“Moonbeam’s isolation can cause people to go a little crazy. We haven’t had anyone snap yet, but the possibility exists. You could be the first ward of the Deceptio jail.”
“I can access computer-controlled doors, too!” She crossed her arms.
He laughed. “You and half the employees on Deceptio—which is why they’re not computer controlled.” From his pocket he pulled out a metal ring and dangled some odd-shaped jagged objects. “Good old-fashioned locks and keys. The best antiques money can buy.”
She leaped off the bench. “You’d imprison me?”
The Source of Magic: A Fantasy Romance by Cate Rowan (Excerpt)
For a moment there was quiet, and peace. Jilian couldn’t hear or move, but she could see Alvarr’s eyes, gray and deep. Then, with a tremendous roar and a jolt through every nerve, the world reappeared.
Cries of struggle buffeted her ears. She twisted toward them and Alvarr set her down, but kept her corralled in his arms, her back to his chest.
They stood in a round room of mortared stone and blazing torches, and they weren’t alone. Two men and a woman in sapphire-blue cloaks battled soldiers in black tunics slashed with red belts. Three soldiers attacked each person in blue. The blues fought awkwardly, as if unused to combat.
Jilian jerked back, knocking her spine against Alvarr’s solid form. Where am I?
The heat of his broad chest seeped through her nightgown. He leaned down to be heard above the clamor, his lips brushing her ear. “Please, send me your kyrra!”
Kyrra? Her brain scrambled for a meaning.
His left hand gripped her ribcage and he reached for her right hand.
“What are you DOING?” No, this is only a bad dream. And I’ll end it. Just as she was preparing to ram her elbow into Alvarr’s ribs and wake up in her study, a soldier hurtled toward them swinging a wooden quarterstaff.
She recoiled, slamming against Alvarr.
“Takerran!” Alvarr shouted. Green fire streaked from his raised palm to his opponent’s chest. The soldier sank in a heap and his staff clattered to the ground.
The world thinned and condensed into the soldier’s murderous sneer, frozen at the moment of the fire’s impact. The glare in his eyes iced her gut.
A dream! Wake up!
But his cruel gaze was too real—as were the frantic shouts, the acrid burn of torch-lit air, and the strong hand on her hip.
A familiar ring of light encircled their feet, and from it Alvarr yanked up a crackling wall of jade fire. It surrounded them and he twisted to his right, hauling her with him. “Rokad, look out!” he yelled to one of the cloaked men.
Jilian shoved against Alvarr’s grip, unable to budge even one powerful finger. She saw the dark-haired Rokad vault to the side, panic flooding his face. A glinting spear whistled through the air but caught only the edge of his cloak. He spun and lobbed a green fireball at his attacker, who crumpled to the ground. But he didn’t escape the second soldier, or the rope in the enemy’s hands that cut off his breath.
“Rokad!” Alvarr started toward him, dragging Jilian with him once more. The wall of fire flickered erratically.
“No, the FireRing—keep her safe!” Rokad gasped, clawing at the rope around his throat.
Jilian flinched as the butt of a sword crashed into Rokad’s temple.
Alvarr grabbed her hands. “The kyrra—hurry, send me your power!”
WHAT power? A scream pounded on her tongue, but the consequences it might bring clamped her teeth.
Within moments, the soldiers knocked out the three figures in cloaks and the sapphire mantles pooled on the stone floor. A brawny man with a red circular badge stepped forward, pulling a clear cylinder from a pouch at his waist.
A scarlet glow flared within the cylinder and the officer aimed it at Rokad. Rokad’s body paled. Even the sapphire of his cloak faded to a dull slate gray. Alvarr’s furious breath rushed across Jilian’s cheek.
Through the wall of fire, she stared in horror at Rokad’s ashen face.
About The Source of Magic: A Fantasy Romance
“A magical ride. Unforgettable characters and twists and turns. Forget about sleeping, because I wasn’t able to put this novel down until the end, and you won’t be able to either.”
—The Romance Reviews
The most powerful magic is love.
Jilian Stewart is no stranger to abandonment and guards her fragile heart diligently . . . but she can’t escape her own dreams. A mysterious man invades them nightly, a man who may be connected to her mother’s mysterious and sudden paralysis. Nothing prepares her for the man being real—and whisking her to his otherworldly home of Teganne.
Prince Alvarr has fought a years-long battle to protect his people from the necromancer Bhruic, and his magic is nearly depleted. He needs a Source, a woman possessed of potent mystical energy, to magnify his power. Though previously unaware of her gifts, Jilian will aid Alvarr if he helps her first, by finding the rare herb that will cure her mother.
Each needs the other, but neither Jilian nor Alvarr trust easily, despite their ever-growing attraction. Their journey is fraught with danger and beset by secrets, deceit and betrayal. But the explosive truth of Jilian’s heritage may be the biggest secret of all . . .
~ * ~
The Source of Magic is a stand-alone novel within the Alaia Chronicles fantasy romance series. This otherworld love story has captivated readers and critics alike, reaching Amazon’s overall Top 100 and winning sixteen awards, including The Romance Reviews’ Top Pick. If you enjoy strong heroines and to-die-for heroes in fascinating worlds, grab The Source of Magic to experience the enchantment for yourself.
· “I love The Source of Magic. I love everything about it—the feisty heroine, Jillian, the to-die-for hero, Prince Alvarr, the otherworldly setting.” —LovesRomance
· “Beautifully-written words paint an incredibly vivid picture of this new world and its inhabitants. A must-read.” —The Romance Reviews
· “Utterly delicious fantasy . . . better than chocolate!” —Kendra Leigh Castle, RITA-nominated author
· “Rowan brings the exotic, the magic and the passion. A story that will melt your heart. If you love magic and romance, you will love Rowan’s books.” —The Pen and Muse Book Reviews
Buy The Source of Magic today to escape into spellbinding adventure and sizzling magical romance!
Available in print, ebook, and audiobook
Buy now: http://CateRowan.com/Source
About Cate Rowan
Cate has washed laundry in a crocodile-infested African lake, parasailed over a Mexican beach, swum with dolphins in the Florida Keys and had Costa Rican monkeys poop in her hair, but her favorite adventures are in story worlds. Her lush fantasy romances about magical deeds, danger, and true love in realms near and far have won more than thirty awards.
FACEBOOK PROFILE: http://www.facebook.com/CateRowan
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