Authors: Kristine Smith
“You taking some leave?” Jani tried to remember the last time Lucien had more than a day's leave when she lived in Chicago, and found she couldn't. “For how long?”
“As long as I want.” Lucien's voice went as dead as it had in the clinic garden. “It's been a busy few months. After Zhenya won the election, deals were made. Ani resigns her ministry in payback for trying to have you killed, shuts up and smiles and takes the ornamental position doled out by her nephew. Along the way, certain embarrassing issues
get shoved under the rug.” He waved. “Like me.” He looked around the garage, brow furrowed, as though he couldn't wrap his mind around his predicament. “I was strongly advised to resign my commission. They didn't have to ask me twice.” A shrug. “I'm out.”
“You'll go back to Chicago?”
“I was also advised to avoid Chicago for the foreseeable future.” Lucien laughed. “You always warned me that something like this would happen.” He settled his gaze on her, and his smile faded. “Would you mind a little company?”
Jani pressed her hand to her stomach. Felt the thread of a scar just below her ribs, where CÃ¨el had driven his knife. “It's not a glittery place. Not like Karistos. It sure as hell isn't Chicago.”
“You'll be there.” Lucien took a step toward her. Another. “Things never remain boring for long when you're around.” The smile returned. “Which is why you need me. To get between you and all those people who would prefer that you didn't shake things up quite so much.” He jerked his chin toward his vehicle. “And my skimmer goes, and I can cook, and I have many other uses, not all of which you're familiar with.”
“Be still my heart.” Jani looked at his skimmer and shook her head. “It's too nice. It'll attract attention.”
Lucien walked up to her, took hold of her duffel and slipped it off her shoulder. “It's fast. In case you've forgotten, there have been moments in our past when fast came in handy.” He carried the bag to his skimmer and tossed it into the boot, then followed with his. “Let's go. We can make it there in time for dinner.” He slammed the lid closed, walked around to the passenger side, popped the gullwing and waited.
Jani watched him, as expectant as a groom at the altar.
Even though he had his uses. Even though she could look at him forever.
He didn't even love her. He admitted it.
And I don't love him.
But she and John had loved one another.
And look how that worked out.
She stared at Lucien until she caught the flicker in his eyes, the realization that she just might say no. Then she took one step. Another. Walked to the passenger side, let him help her in, sat quietly as he closed the door and circled around to the driver's side.
“It's green there,” Jani said as Lucien pulled down his gullwing and pressed the skimmer charge-through. “Green and mountainous and cool.”
“That'll be good, for a change.” Lucien steered around the garage and across the Main House yard, down the cliff road to the beach. Then the vehicle shuddered and they were out over the water, whitecaps lapping and seabirds swooping low.
Jani looked at the beach in her rearview and saw figures walking along the water's edge. Meva. Dathim. A few other Thalassans. She lowered her window, stuck her hand out and waved. Meva watched for a moment. Realized who it was and waved back, punching Dathim in the arm until he and the rest of the group started waving as well.
Jani kept waving as they grew smaller and smaller. Until they were bright specks in the distance. Until they were gone.
The list of people who have helped me over the course of this book, and this series, began long and over the years has grown ever longer. In particular, many thanks are due Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, who started as a teacher and became a friend. Elizabeth Moon, who took me under her wing at my very first science fiction conventionâIntersection â95 Glasgow (yes, I knowâfirst con was a Worldconâwhat was I thinking?)âand made me feel welcome. Joshua Bilmes, who believed in the series and sold it. First readers Dave Godwin and Dave Klecha, for their input and expertise. Berry Kercheval, Melanie Miller Fletcher, Julia Blackshear Kosatka, Tom Hise, and Doranna Durgin, and the rest of my online gang, for support online and in emails, for listening to my wails. Julie Czerneda, for reading the
draft and for that one phone call that helped so much. Diana Gill, my editor since the beginning, for her patience, and because she always asked the deceptively simple question that turned the tale on its ear and helped make it better.
And finally, to Mom and Dad, who I know are watching.
is the author of
Code of Conduct, Rules of Conflict, Law of Survival
. She works as a process development scientist for a large pharmaceutical manufacturer and lives in northern Illinois.
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“A fine new voice in the field of science fiction.”
Nebula Award-winning author Catherine Asaro
“Perilously fascinatingâ¦impressive and entertaining.”
“A taut, suspenseful, believable exploration of what happens when alien and human passions collide, seen through the lens of one of science fiction's most remarkable protagonists.”
Julie Czerneda, author of
Hidden in Sight
“Smith balancesâ¦taut mystery with vivid characters and a complex, ever-evolving plotâ¦. Sure to appeal to readers who appreciate well-drawn characters and sophisticated milieus.”
“Remarkableâ¦extraordinarily solidâ¦complex and deftly shadedâ¦with vivid, memorable charactersâa universe of power politics, commercial and political espionage, and personal and interpersonal relationships.”
“Deep intrigue, richly diverse characters, and a plot entangled enough to delightâKristine Smith supercedes herself with each new book.”
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
. Copyright Â© 2007 by Kristine Smith. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.
EPub Â© Edition NOVEMBER 2008 ISBN: 9780061979408
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