Halle Ish, one of Velli’s elite police Arrows, is shot down during a Precinct One riot. Wounded and unable to fly, she tries to hide and avoid capture, knowing that if she is found by the razor gangs or Clipper Sect they will sever her wings. She needs to get out of Precinct One.
Avin Lent was once a promising medical student, but he started sniffing Mumble to beat the stress and is now the doctor to one of the biggest gangs in Precinct One—while not part of the Clipper Sect, they are just as dangerous. He knows he is only as useful as his next surgery and they would have no qualms about killing him. Only Jarro is keeping him safe.
Jarro Coblic is deep under cover and has been for a year. Immersed in the gang, he suspects his hands will never be clean again. When he finds the wounded Arrow, he knows he can’t turn her over even though everyone is looking for her. With his lover’s help, they hide her and heal her wing. All the while, falling for her. He prays Avin will not crumble and reveal their secret as Jarro tries to figure out a way to get them all out of Precinct One before the Sect and the gangs bring the full wrath of Velli on Precinct One. Tearing the place down can’t come soon enough, but there will be blood before the slate can be washed clean.
|Publisher:||NineStar Press, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)|
Read an Excerpt
THERE WAS BLOOD everywhere. Avin needed to clean the room and his instruments before the next person arrived. Real surgeons didn't work like this. His hands shook as he scrubbed and sterilized. He was tempted to skip that step and let his patients die of infection. But if something happened, he'd start losing toes ... another toe. Not his fingers though because he needed them. As long as he was useful, the Tower gang would let him live.
If this was living, this was his punishment.
He mopped the floor. No one else arrived. Perhaps the cops had moved on to a different gang territory. Ever since the Clippers and the Bridge-side gang had attacked the central courthouse in Velli, the cops had been putting the pressure on the gangs of Industrial 13. Which, in turn, put pressure on him. Spending a night sewing up arrow wounds wasn't his idea of fun, yet it was better than the other job they'd once had him doing — cutting women's wings so they couldn't fly anymore. The mop slid out of his hand. His fingers struggled to grab the handle to pick it up.
He was just tired.
He'd skimped on the anesthetic for his patients and there were a couple of vials left over. He licked his lower lip, already imagining the slightly sweet tingle as he inhaled what was known as Mumble on the streets.
If the Tower boss knew he stashed it, Avin would be in trouble. But after tonight, he deserved a sniff.
Satisfied the room was clean, even though the scent of blood lingered beneath the cleaning product, Avin opened the fridge. Behind some bags of blood were two small green vials. He'd leave one for later.
He knocked over a bag of blood as he reached in. His hand shook more than usual. How long had it been since he'd last inhaled? A few days at most. The boss was careful to give him just enough to keep him hooked, but not enough to make him useless.
The vial was cold against his palm.
He shouldn't, but he wouldn't sleep tonight without it. He wanted to forget he was even here. If he could go back three years ... He cracked the top and got his first scent of Mumble. While he couldn't go back, he could at least numb himself to the reality.
He brought the vial to his nose, the cold plastic against his top lip. Jarro would be annoyed. He wouldn't say anything, but there'd be that look of disappointment in his gray eyes and the clenching of his jaw. It was enough to make Avin hesitate, but only for a moment. Then he inhaled, and the first whiff of Mumble trickled up his nose and into his lungs.
A groan escaped.
He was no better than an addict. While he didn't pay with money, he still paid in loyalty and blood. He closed his eyes and inhaled the rest of the vial.
With his eyes still closed he took a couple of deep breaths. The drug spread through his lungs, and he felt the exact moment it hit his bloodstream. A cold buzz that took the edge off reality. In a few minutes, he'd have the typical Mumble of a user and the inability to do much more than stumble along with the support of a wall.
He knew the signs and the side effects, and how to use it medically and recreationally. Four years of med school had taught him that. It had also given him the habit. Mumble had helped him sleep after long shifts at the hospital and long days studying.
Avin dropped the vial in the trash with the rest of the waste. Bloodied bandages, arrow tips and shafts, needles and empty tubes of surgical glue. Just another day in Industrial 13. He turned off the lights, his mouth starting to feel pleasantly numb and his muscles loose, and made his way slowly, leaning on the wall, up the stairs to his room.
If Jarro found the extra Mumble in their apartment, he'd go spare.
He'd be asleep before Jarro got home. No doubt Jarro had been busy killing cops. There was too much blood on both their hands. The city-state of Velli would be a better place if Avin let the gang members die on the table.
Maybe if enough died he'd be able to leave. Start again. Get clean. His lips couldn't turn up in a smile, and the laugh that bubbled up sounded more like choking.
His legs gave way and he sat heavily.
This batch was strong; the real stuff, not the cheap shit the gang sold to users. Avin rested his head against the wall; the cracked surface was cool against his temple.
Eyes closed, he let go of reality, happy to float in the numb space caused by Mumble where thoughts drifted past but didn't catch and hold and they had no effect. All the violence and death and blood — he could remember it and see it, but from here it didn't matter. Nothing did.
Footsteps made Avin open his eyes. The heavy tread of a man in boots. It took a couple of heartbeats for him to be able to focus on the black-clad man now standing a few steps below on the staircase and peering at him.
"You've been sniffing again." Jarro frowned. A line of blood marked his cheek, and his dark hair was pulled back into a knot.
Avin tried to speak but his tongue was thick, and his lips didn't obey. How long had Avin been sitting here? A breath, maybe two? From the stiffness of his back as Jarro hauled him up, Avin had been sitting for far longer than a few breaths even if he couldn't reconcile the loss of time
He tripped up the stairs, but Jarro kept him upright so he didn't land on his face or break anything. Mumble also caused stumble. It was funny, but he couldn't laugh or share.
Jarro tugged at Avin's clothes. "You smell like a chop shop."
That's what happens when you spend the best part of the night up to your elbows in blood and guts. Avin tried to help, but he was still too uncoordinated, and his hands got in the way.
"I know why you do it, but if you don't stop, you will die here." There was an edge in Jarro's voice. What had he seen tonight?
Avin glanced up. Jarro made it sound as though there was another choice. There were no options once in the Industrial 13 precinct. No one got out unless as a corpse or sold. No one wanted to live here.
He didn't want to live here, but drug debts weren't easy to clear, apparently. And if he took off, they'd hunt him or his family down, and he had no desire to see his womb brother or his sisters and parents hurt because he screwed up. He'd done enough damage to his family.
Jarro grabbed Avin's shirt and gave him a shake. "Are you listening to me? I don't want to die here."
Was he talking about leaving? Actually leaving.
Sounds bubbled past his lips but didn't make words.
Jarro gave a cold laugh. "Can't argue back when you've been sniffing." He stripped off Avin's shirt and undid his pants, Jarro's touch lingered for a moment. The heat was almost enough to cut through the fog.
What had started as simple protection — pick the roughest, meanest bastard — had become something more. Yeah, Jarro could be cold and he kept more secrets than Avin had seen bodies, but he'd never once hurt him.
It was more than luck. Avin lifted his hand and touched Jarro's cheek. The gesture was clumsy and not the soft touch that he'd intended.
Jarro took his hand and shook his head. "Not tonight. Not while you're dreaming on that shit." But he leaned in and pressed his lips to Avin's cheek.
At that moment, he wished he hadn't caved in to the hollow need of Mumble. What he wanted was Jarro, but he was already pulling away and drawing off his clothes.
"Get a shower, and then we can get to some sleep." Jarro dropped his shirt on the floor. "I'll make sure you don't slip and crack your head open."
Then Jarro guided him to what they called a bathroom. More of a wet room with hot, running water. There was no bath, and the mirror was rusted and cracked. Like everything else here, it was what it was, and no one expected more.
He glanced at Jarro. Except Jarro.
Jarro had crossed city-state borders after pissing off another gang. He'd ended up working for the Tower gang by luck and chance. Ended up in his bed after too much to drink.
But talking of fleeing, again?
That was dangerous.
Jarro needed to watch his mouth.CHAPTER 2
HALLE LANDED ON the roof as silently as she could and pressed herself against the tiles. Her wing burned. The more she flew, the worse the damage became. If she went much further, she'd cripple herself.
Her stomach tightened at the idea of never being able to fly again and having to walk everywhere.
However, she was still in Bridge-side territory. In her mind, despite the black night with only a sliver of moon showing, she saw the map of Industrial 13 with gang territories clearly marked.
This was the second raid the cops had made in ten days.
They'd killed a few gang members, arrested a few others, and freed some clipped women. But whatever they did was a drop of rain in a monsoon.
The sooner the redevelopment of the area started, the better. She flexed her wings, knowing that if she didn't keep moving, she was comprehensively fucked. She had to cross into the next territory. Another block until she reached the old tower and a bit to be safe. And she needed to do it before daylight.
She lay on the roof for a little longer, her heart beating hard.
If she closed her eyes, she wouldn't keep moving, and she had to move, or risk being found. Then she'd end up clipped and sold — dead if she was lucky. When the arrow had torn through her wing, she'd tumbled out of the sky. There'd been so much going on and so many arrows in the air. She'd caught another in her arm on her way down, then hit a roof.
When she'd come 'round, the raid was over.
No doubt her team thought she was dead after taking a dive like that.
And if she didn't move, she would be.
Halle gritted her teeth and pushed herself up. Everything hurt, and she was sure one of the fine bones in her good wing was cracked. Even gliding was painful.
She was pretty sure the Huntress had looked the other way tonight.
There was no extra weight she could ditch. Her boots were gone; the rest of her clothing was regulation Arrow-black. She was covered in camouflage paint, and if anyone found her like this, they'd know she was one of the elite cops taking part in the raid. At her next stop, she had to clean herself up to be less of a cop. And she needed somewhere safe to hole up for the day.
The emergency plan had been to get into Tower territory. She had to stick to the plan.
"Move it," she said through gritted teeth.
She drew in another breath, scanned the narrow laneway between the buildings, and after seeing it was clear of shooters, launched into the sky.
The pain was enough to create new stars. Skin in her wing tore.
She wasn't going to make it.
There was no way she was staying here. Better to die trying to get out.
Below her, the old building spread out. Old city planning, with small laneways and many aerial bridges. These days the buildings were well- spaced with swathes of green parks and trees with aerial gondolas gliding above.
She crossed the boundary marking the edge of the gang territory and landed on a building — more of a skeleton as the roof had caved in long ago and all that remained was the wooden frame. It was enough. She crept along the roof, her balance less than perfect because of her damaged wing, wishing she had her crossbow in hand. All she had left was the knife strapped to her thigh.
Her muscles ached, and her head pounded. The back of her head was sticky and swollen, but she had no idea how long she'd been unconscious for. The Huntress had watched over her. She could've easily been found.
Instead, she was alive to make her escape.
She crept over an aerial bridge that had seen better days, but she had no fear of heights or falling. She never had. No woman ever did because they could fly. Men often feared heights. If they fell, they hit the ground hard. She smiled. She'd love to shove every last Clipper off a very tall building and watch them turn to ground jam.
As she moved, she searched for a building she could hide in.
To her right were the lights of Velli. But the safety they bought might as well have been as far away as the moon. Behind her were the river and the Bridge-side territory. Over the river were smaller settlements and farms.
To her left, beyond Industrial 13 was the city-state border. Kahlf had as many problems with Clippers as Velli did.
A piece of wood gave way beneath her foot. She froze, one foot in midair, as the wood fell and hit the ground. The night remained silent. Apparently, people in Industrial 13 did close their eyes to sleep. She didn't know how they lived like this. Didn't they fear getting their throat slit or getting trafficked?
It wasn't just the gangs, sniffers, and Clippers who lived there. This was Velli's dark side: the poor with nowhere else to go who were, unfortunately, the gangs' first victims every time.
She jumped over the gap. A little further on she saw a hole in the roof. Carefully, she peered in. Most of the floorboards were gone. Just the beams remained. But the walls were made of stone, and there was a deep window recess. She dropped onto one of the beams.
Most people — meaning men and gang members — wouldn't come up here. Most of Industrial 13 lived at ground level. Men couldn't fly, and neither could clipped women, and that was the way Clippers liked it. Everyone dragged down to the same level.
Something moved in the dark corner and scuttled away. Great. The carnivorous fugrie obviously had the same thought as her. Still, they preferred carrion and she was alive, and sharing with the small furry beastie was better than the alternative.
Halle sat on the window ledge. The glass was gone, but a shutter hung from its hinges. She reached out and snagged it with her fingertips, then jammed it closed. It wasn't much protection, but it was better than nothing and at least half the window was concealed from any casual glance — assuming anyone bothered to glance up.
Carefully, she pulled off her long-sleeved, black shirt. The wound on her arm was still weeping. In one of her pockets, she had some more wound sealer. Good in an emergency, but not a permanent solution. She wiggled her fingers and tried to determine how much damage had been done — and how much worse it would get every day she left it untreated.
At least the sealer would reduce the risk of infection. She tore open the packet and poured the powder onto the wound. Ripping the arrow out had made it worse, but she hadn't been able to snap the shaft with one hand.
With her knife, she cut her shirt into a makeshift bandage and covered up her arm. Then she turned her attention to her wing. Cautiously, she opened it up. What had been a clean-through shot had widened to become a tear in the membrane that almost ran from bone to edge. That was no simple fix. And if it wasn't mended soon, the membrane would start to shrink. If it shriveled up, there'd be no mending it. She bit her lip to keep from sobbing.
No fear. Be angry.
The fuckers had tried to cripple her, ground her, and she wasn't going to let them win.
Halle sprinkled some of the sealer on the tear to stop the bleeding. She needed glue. If she had glue, she'd risk doing the repair herself to fly out of here.
Without her long sleeves, the night air was chilly and moist on her skin. She still had to remove as much paint as she could. If it did rain, she'd be able to have an impromptu shower. There was nothing she could do about her black cams though. With a sinking heart, she realized unless she got a wash and new clothes she'd still be dressed like a cop that got shot out of the sky.
She needed food and water.
There was no way she was moving to do that tonight. With her last bit of wound sealer, she tended to her head. The lump was feeling bigger, and it was just as tender.
Halle tried not to think about it, but with her injuries the odds of getting out unnoticed were small. Even smaller were her odds of flying again if she didn't get medical attention in the next day.
She leaned against the stone window and tried to get comfortable. Through the gap in the shutter, Velli was just visible.
Her upper-level apartment was there, waiting for her return. Was her girlfriend worried, or would that not happen until tomorrow when Halle failed to call her? Halle closed her eyes. She needed to rest and tackle the other problems later. If she had to crawl along every roof between here and the safe part of the city, then so be it.
With every beat of her heart, her wing, arm, and head throbbed. Bruises would be coloring up her skin. She'd be a real mess come daylight. She'd have to stay here until dark again. A day without treatment. Her arm would be fine. Wing and head ... not so much.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Severed"
Copyright © 2019 Shona Husk.
Excerpted by permission of NineStar Press, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wounded and able to fly, Halle Ish is an elite police arrow in enemy territory, knowing that if she is found by the gangs her wings will be severed. Avin Lenit was once a promising med student, but now he’s the doctor to one of the biggest gangs in Precinct One. He’s been deep under cover for over year, Jarro Cobli has to find a way to get them all out of Precinct One before the Sect and the gangs bring the full wrath of the Veilli on Precinct One. The characters are strong, compelling and easily pull readers into their story as they try to survive in some grueling circumstances. The relationship between Avin and Jarro is well established, sweet and super-hot, but the relationship between the two men and Halle ups the chemistry level to explosive but the romance is slow growing due to trust issues and secrets which keeps the outcome of the ménage romance in suspense until the very end. The plot is fast paced and while thrilling and full of excitement, it also is full of violence and drug use which makes the story a bit on the dark side adds a bit of dangerous appeal to readers. The author adds these dark elements to the story in a way that gets the point across without going into graphic details that could potentially be off-putting. Although, the story could have been a bit more informative in regards to the culture, the world is fascinating with some unique elements that have a kind of cross between a post-apocalyptic world and futuristic world and readers can’t help but become completely caught up its thrilling debut story.
Severed by Shona Husk is a great story to read. This is book number one in this great start to a brand new series and I recommend this to everyone that loves a really great story. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.