Read an Excerpt
TRIO OF SEDUCTION
By CASSIE RYAN
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2009 Cassie Ryan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI'm smiling. That should scare the hell out of you.
Kiera Matthews took a deep breath and prayed for patience. She knew her temper was already on full simmer when she started thinking in sarcastic quotes.
"It's only because of your past assistance to our people that I don't report you to the council at once." Council Member Danen stood before her, all five feet nothing of impotent arrogance.
Simmer flashed to near boil, and Kiera resisted the urge to scream. But she couldn't quite stop her eyes from narrowing at the rail-thin man with the dour expression who stood before her. She supposed she should be thankful he had agreed to meet with her at all-even in the middle of a deserted parking lot at midnight.
The council was not only arrogant, but they also had a tendency toward drama.
"Bullshit, Danen." Kiera took a step forward, invading his personal space. "The only reason any of you put up with me is because I'm the only doctor willing to treat you-regardless of insurance or circumstances that would be best left undiscovered by the human community."
Danen's already knobby chin jutted out farther as he pursed his lips in obvious distaste. "Let's cut through all the preliminaries, Kiera. What exactly do you want?"
"I want thecouncil to listen to reason before it's too late." She fisted her hands at her sides to keep from giving in to the urge to shake the little man. "The civil war happened a quarter of a century ago, Danen. My mother would still be alive if not for the fallout from that." Kiera's temper fed fuel to her rant, and she couldn't seem to stop the flow of words that spilled from her lips. "The Cunts used to be a proud people with a rich heritage before they let Sela put her wishes above the wellbeing of the entire race. In fact, before she started spreading dissension, the Klatch and the Cunts lived in peace as one people-as it was meant to be. Long before the name of our race became synonymous with traitor in the human dialect."
She tucked a wisp of blond hair, which had come loose from her ponytail and fallen across her eyes, behind her ear. "Now you can't even say 'cunt' without it being construed as a serious insult. Don't you think it's time to reevaluate what's best for our species as a whole?"
Danen's gaunt features stiffened, and his already pale skin glistened in the light of the full moon. "You aren't yet twenty-four. Not even old enough for a coming-of-age-even if you were pure blood."
The snub about her split heritage hit hard, and she winced. No matter that she was now a grown woman, the taunts that rang in her ears as she grew up still haunted her.
Danen stared down his sticklike nose at her, while his bloodless lips thinned into nonexistence. "As it is, you are in no position at all to question the council. You've lived on the fringes of our law since you were a teenager-and only because you've been useful as a doctor. You're more human than Cunt. Your mother made that choice for you when she openly married that useless human."
Kiera's anger exploded, and a vivid picture of throttling the little man sprang into her mind. "My mother was a full-blooded Cunt, you little bastard-"
Shouts broke through the still air of the stifling Phoenix night, cutting off her words and rechanneling her anger into self-preservation.
Blue and pink bolts of electricity-the weapons of choice for the Cunts and Klatch, respectively-snaked through the moonlit sky, raising the small hairs on Kiera's arms.
The stench of sulfur hung heavy in the air, and she tasted the tang of ozone on the back of her tongue.
Skin tingled as adrenaline flooded her system, and she crouched into a fighting stance.
Her gaze scanned her surroundings in search of the enemy as training and instinct kicked in.
Thank God for a human marine colonel father who taught his baby girl to kick some ass when needed.
A pink sizzling bolt arced straight for her, and she rolled to the left. A tingling sensation crackled up her right side, nearly stealing her breath. A rush of pure power-no doubt fueled by adrenaline-surged through her as she completed the roll and landed lightly back on the balls of her feet.
"You did this!" Danen screamed behind her, too intent on his own self-righteous fury to duck.
She shifted her balance and, with one leg extended, swept the man's feet out from under him, catching his frail form in her outstretched arms before his head hit the blacktop. "Get down, you arrogant ass! I didn't bring anyone."
Danen shoved out of her embrace, thumping hard on his ass against the blacktop, and then crab walked away from her. "You're a traitor, Kiera Matthews!" He pushed up onto his knees and raised his hands, blue energy already sparking from his fingertips.
Without thinking, Kiera straightened, took two running steps and then snapped her right heel forward into a front kick.
The blow caught Danen square in the chest.
The gangly man flew backward to land hard on the rough blacktop. His body bounced once, his skinny limbs akimbo, before he came to rest and lay still.
"Danen!" came a voice from off to her left.
Kiera had no time to check on the old man or even to try to explain. The council guards had a reputation for killing and maiming now and sorting out the truth later.
A pink energy bolt zoomed toward her face before she could do more than close her eyes against the impact.
She held her breath, but other than a surge of power through her entire body, she felt nothing.
Angry shouts and cursing filled her ears, but no searing pain like she had expected.
What the fuck?
Kiera snapped her eyes open in time to see two burly blond guards lunge for her.
She feinted left.
Both guards changed the direction of their attack to follow.
She brought her elbow around, and aided by the first guard's forward motion, smashed him in the nose.
Hot blood spurted, coating her forearm as she allowed the momentum to bring her full circle.
The injured guard howled in pain and cradled his mangled nose.
With her right foot still planted firmly, she struck out with her left, hitting the second guard just above the kneecap.
A sickening crunch filled the air as his knee dislocated. His ashen features contorted with pain before he crumpled.
She spun around, alert for more attackers, and found only one.
A Klatch-the sworn enemy of her mother's people. Or at least they had been for the past twenty-four years.
Her fleeting thought of attack was interrupted by his easy, arrogant stance-not to mention he was the most beautiful man she had ever seen.
Lucky for him, unlike most of the Cunts, she attacked only those who threatened her. So she stayed alert and studied the dark stranger.
Mercy, not lust. Yeah, that's it.
She had seen several half-breed Klatch in her clinic over the years, but had never met a full blood that she knew of-or at least one with this much presence. Power radiated off this man in nearly visible waves, and she had the sudden urge to trace the muscles she saw through his tight black T-shirt.
She knew she should be terrified. After all, this man was an enemy to Cunts everywhere, and yet, all she felt was ... safe.
Kiera shoved the disturbing thought aside to study later.
The stranger stood a good six inches taller than her own five-feet-six, with a stocky compact build that reminded her of a boxer. Even when he remained still, he exuded a contained physical energy she somehow knew would be formidable when unleashed.
Thick dark hair fell to his shoulders and shadowed the right side of his face. The left side, which was illuminated by moonlight, was chiseled, rugged and handsome.
His sensual mouth curved into an amused grin, which matched the laughter shining in his dark eyes.
Great. Caught staring like an open-mouthed idiot!
Her mouth went dry and her heart pounded so loud she was surprised he couldn't hear it. She closed her mouth and moved her balance to the balls of her feet for lack of anything better to do.
"Nice moves." He held his arms wide as if to show he was no threat. But the sudden wave of heat zinging through her body said differently. "I saw that energy beam hit you in the face." His voice was rich and dark like decadent chocolate, and she could tell he would have a beautiful tenor singing voice. Hell, just his speaking voice was enough to melt her into a puddle. Kiera wasn't sure she could handle his singing without experiencing spontaneous combustion-or orgasm.
The thought sent a wave of shivers through her body.
"I have never seen a human survive that," he continued, thankfully unaware of her thoughts. "Are you all right?"
The word "human" hung in the air between them like an accusation, and the familiar shame of being a half-breed burned inside her chest.
Shame morphed into anger in an instant, and she wrapped it around her like a shield. "No thanks to you, I'm all right." She stalked forward until she stood just outside his reach. "I spent months getting them to agree to meet, and now the Cunt Council thinks I set them up!"
His dark brow furrowed. "For what-" His gaze snapped to somewhere over her shoulder.
"Look out!" He lunged forward, knocking her over just as a searing wave of heat sizzled past.
Kiera landed on her back, hard. All the air whooshed out of her lungs in a painful rush.
The hot blacktop dug into her skin through her cotton T-shirt, but she barely noticed.
Instead, it was the hard muscles of the very warm male pressing down on her that filled her senses. She raised her gaze and gasped as she nearly drowned in the deep purple-almost black-eyes staring down at her.
A surreal sense of déjà vu and destiny flowed over her, and she frowned against the intense sensation.
His gaze burned into hers for another moment, and then he blinked, breaking the strange spell that held her. He took a deep breath, which only served to press their chests more tightly together, and said, "Hold off, Gavin! I'm fine."
His loud words made her jump, and she nearly laughed as she realized the reason for his deep breath had nothing to do with tormenting her with his hard body.
When he had lifted his head to shout, both halves of his face were bathed in moonlight, giving her an up close view of the angry red scar that ran from his temple to the right side of his mouth. It gave him a rakish, dangerous air, and her fingers itched to trace the puckered red line and sample its texture.
He dropped his chin, and his warm breath feathered against her face. "Are you all right?"
She jumped again as the new male voice startled her out of her reverie. Shit! I'm under a Klatch prince?
Panic and mortification flowed over her, quickly followed by a large dose of protective anger. Since when did she let her guard down in such an unknown situation?
Kiera braced her legs, and in a quick maneuver her father taught her, she reversed their positions.
He struggled against her move, and when she put all her weight on her right knee to catch her balance, instead of blacktop, her knee met flesh. Hard.
"Urgh!" The prince curled up, his body instinctively protecting itself as he clutched his crotch.
Heat seared her cheeks as she realized she'd landed all her weight on his groin.
Damn it. He shouldn't have moved!
Kiera pushed to her feet and fled into the night.
Ryan de Klatch, the Tenth Prince of Klatch, rolled onto his side as he concentrated on sucking air into his lungs to cool the throbbing pain in his balls. The smell of burnt oil, tar and exhaust filled his senses, and he coughed-then winced as the spasms reached his aching groin.
Footsteps pounded closer until Gavin, the captain of the Klatch royal guard, filled his vision. "Prince Ryan, are you hurt?"
Ryan swallowed hard. "Only my pride." And possibly my ability to add to the Klatch bloodline.
Gavin's serious expression never changed. "My apologies for being late, my lord. There were a dozen more Cunts around the side of the building we had to neutralize. The other guards are keeping the perimeter clear."
"Good thing you have confidence in my ability to defend myself." Ryan rolled onto his back and sat up. Nausea roiled inside his stomach, and he widened his thighs to give his tender balls some room to recover.
"If I thought you couldn't, I would've brought more men and not let you out of our sight. I figured you could hold your own against one old man, a few guards and a tiny wisp of a woman-until you tackled her, that is." The guard stood and held out a hand to help Ryan up. "My lord," Gavin added as an obvious sarcastic afterthought.
Ryan shook his head and laughed. He accepted the hand and stood, adjusting his jeans so they wouldn't pinch his injured manhood. "Bastard," he said with affection. Gavin had taught Ryan much of what he knew about fighting and spell casting-at least those portions that weren't considered acceptable for a royal prince to learn. The rest he had learned from a royal tutor. Over the years, Ryan had forged a close bond with the guard, which he still appreciated today.
There had been many times over the course of his life that those "not acceptable for a prince" skills had kept him alive or unharmed.
Except for that once.
He traced his fingers over the bottom edge of his scar where it met the side of his mouth as he shoved the painful memories away.
He glanced back at Gavin and smiled, bringing himself back to the present. "If you were so sure I could handle it, why did you aim an energy beam at her?"
Gavin's lavender eyes narrowed. "None of my guards sent that beam. Are you sure it was a Klatch beam?"
"Very sure. It was pink and came from your direction." Unease tightened Ryan's stomach. Perhaps there were even more Klatch traitors they hadn't discovered when the Seer was found. If so, he had to settle things with the Healer quickly. The sooner the Triangle was instituted, the better.
"I'll get to the bottom of it, my prince; you have my word."
Of that, Ryan had no doubt. Gavin was an excellent captain of the guard and had held that position for the past forty years-although thanks to the regenerative powers of their home planet of Tador, the man still looked to be a very fit midthirties.
Ryan nodded in response and then grinned as he thought about the little blond ball of fire who had nearly emasculated him. "If that 'wisp' of a woman is the Healer, I'm in for a long, bumpy ride." In his mind's eye, he replayed the scene, enjoying both the passion in her eyes when she'd defended herself from the guards and the sensual wonder in those same blue orbs when he lay on top of her with their gazes locked.
Gavin grunted. "I think perhaps before we return to Tador, we should stop by the store and buy you an athletic supporter with a sturdy cup."
"I don't intend to give her another chance to rack me, but thanks." Ryan brushed blacktop debris off his shirt and jeans.
"You did notice she's part Cunt?" The guard's voice was sharp as his gaze swept the parking lot, never landing on Ryan. "Or did that escape your notice while you were pressing against her softer parts?"
Surprise had Ryan turning to look at the guard. He had assumed she was human, and since she used no magic to defend herself, he hadn't bothered to expand his senses to check.
The guard chuckled. "I didn't think you'd noticed. You always have been a sucker for a pair of nice eyes and a shapely ... form ... my lord."
Gavin had fought in Tador's planetary civil war against the Cunts and still held some resentment-like most Klatch. After all, hundreds of Klatch died, unaware, the day Sela and the Cunt Council decided to try to overthrow the throne.
Ryan bit back a sigh. He and his generation had fought and even killed a few Cunt warriors over the years, as well. However, those were all in self-defense, as far as he knew. He wasn't naive enough to think most Klatch would be content to wait until their lives were threatened to kill their old enemies.
As it was, he had a few Cunt resentments of his own. His fingers traced the roughened scar that ran from his temple to the right side of his mouth. Painful memories threatened to flood back, and he shoved them aside again. Lately, those memories had ridden much closer to the surface than was comfortable.
Grappling with the little Cunt spitfire definitely hadn't helped.
If the Seer was right, and this blond beauty was the Healer for the Triangle, then he had much bigger problems than dealing with the past. The entire planet was in for an uphill battle. "Did you also notice she didn't attack me and that the other Cunts didn't seem too friendly toward her?" He thought back over their brief conversation. "She said the Cunt Council now thought she was a traitor."
Excerpted from TRIO OF SEDUCTION by CASSIE RYAN Copyright © 2009 by Cassie Ryan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.