Authors: Dee S. Knight
Bride of the Pryde
DAT agent Susan McAllister escapes Earth with killers in hot pursuit. She normally runs toward danger, not away, and she likes controlling her own fate, not relying on three strange men and an irreverent cyberbot. Skilled and experienced, she doesn’t believe there's any way the three crewmen of the cargo ship Erik's Pryde can help her.
Captain John Erik thinks the sexy, headstrong passenger is nothing but trouble, but he also knows she needs help. And not being men to shrink from adventure, he's convinced that he and his crew are the ones to provide it. When they're infected by an illegal drug that releases inhibitions, the crew of the Pryde shows they are men who not only can fight but can satisfy a woman’s every fantasy.
It's no surprise when Susan discovers that being a member of the Pryde's crew has unexpected, lasting benefits.
Futuristic, Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Science Fiction
BRIDE OF THE PRYDE
Dee S. Knight
Siren Publishing, Inc.
ABOUT THE E-BOOK YOU HAVE PURCHASED:
Your non-refundable purchase of this e-book allows you to only ONE LEGAL copy for your own personal reading on your own personal computer or device.
You do not have resell or distribution rights without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner of this book.
This book cannot be copied in any format, sold, or otherwise transferred from your computer to another through upload to a file sharing peer to peer program, for free or for a fee, or as a prize in any contest. Such action is illegal and in violation of the U.S. Copyright Law. Distribution of this e-book, in whole or in part, online, offline, in print or in any way or any other method currently known or yet to be invented, is forbidden. If you do not want this book anymore, you must delete it from your computer.
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
If you find a Siren-BookStrand e-book being sold or shared illegally, please let us know at
A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage Amour
BRIDE OF THE PRYDE
Copyright © 2012 by Dee S. Knight
E-book ISBN: 1-61926-316-5
First E-book Publication: February 2012
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2012 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Siren Publishing, Inc.
Letter to Readers
If you have purchased this copy of
Bride of the
by Dee S. Knight from BookStrand.com or its official distributors, thank you. Also, thank you for not sharing your copy of this book.
Regarding E-book Piracy
This book is copyrighted intellectual property. No other individual or group has resale rights, auction rights, membership rights, sharing rights, or any kind of rights to sell or to give away a copy of this book.
The author and the publisher work very hard to bring our paying readers high-quality reading entertainment.
This is Dee S. Knight’s livelihood.
It’s fair and simple. Please respect Ms. Knight’s right to earn a living from her work.
Amanda Hilton, Publisher
Thanks so much to Jenny Penn and Amber Carlton for first sparking my interest in writing a
story. What great writers they are and good friends. And thanks to my very good friend Christelle Mirin for getting me going again! I love your books and cherish our friendship.
Always thanks and so much love to my real-life hero, friend, supporter, lover, husband. Jack, you’ve been my steady rock and love for many years, but I’m greedy. I’m looking forward to many, many more.
DEE S. KNIGHT
Copyright © 2012
The smell hit Susan McAllister first. The sharp scent of iron, immediately recognizable, stung her nostrils and made her gag. Then she noticed the door, normally locked at all times, hung open a crack.
She’d been ready to call out that she’d brought back French pastries from the restaurant where she enjoyed an early lunch but instead dropped the white bakery bag on the back steps. Removing her Renthaur X-89 laser pistol from her oversized shoulder bag, she inched forward and released the safety. She eased open the door and stepped inside and then pushed it nearly closed. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust from sunlight to the dim interior.
The office fronted as a real estate agency but actually served as Centre District’s Domestic Anti-Terrorism headquarters. Susan had arrived that morning from the global headquarters in Mt. Saussat. In fact, if not for the fact that she never ate while flying and wanted an early lunch upon arrival, she would have been here for whatever shit had gone down.
Hugging the wall, she edged toward the workroom where her close friend and office manager, Lisle Hamilton, had set up the hologram generator, coffeepot, and storage shelving that helped form their cover of handling real estate. Behind an encrypted-lock vault door and out of sight, secure phones and code-deciphering, sub-particle computers were used for the real business of the storefront.
The Centre City office took a lot of ribbing in the Agency because of their cover. The joke was, what’s more boring than a DAT agent on desk duty? A realtor. What’s deadly boring? A DAT gent on desk duty posing as a realtor.
The overwhelming scent of blood seemed to prove it.
Criminy. What in hell happened?
Susan dropped to a crouch at the corner where the back hall entered the workroom. Pistol aimed up and grasped with two hands in classic shooter pose, she slowly leaned forward and peeked into the workroom.
Blood had begun to congeal where it covered the floor. Mark Nichols, who she’d just met that morning, lay on his back, his right hand inside his jacket pocket as though reaching for his weapon. Anne Barnewell lay face down. The size of the hole in the back of her head indicated a Succher 380, the weapon of choice for big-time drug dealers.
Also for cops’ personal weapons.
The thought ran quickly through her mind and left just as fast.
The workroom connected to the main office by a swinging door of louvered wood, reminiscent of mid-twentieth-century architecture. From under the door she saw the body of Kyle Angustino, the son of one of Lisle’s friends and an actual real estate intern who had nothing to do with the DAT. Six people worked in the office, including Kyle, five of whom were DAT agents. Susan had no hope any of them were alive unless, like her, they’d been out of the office when hell struck.
The place appeared to be empty, but Susan didn’t change her position. Instead, she examined everything in her line of sight and listened with an intensity that had her shoulders tight with tension. Peering along the wall to the left she scrunched her brows in worry. The vault door stood ajar.
The only person in the office who had the combination was Lisle. A woman’s foot extended out the door, her burgundy shoe half-off.
Her friend had bragged about the “killer burgundy pumps with little gold bows” when Susan had called to make arrangements to use one of the office cubicles for the week she would be in Centre City. They’d gone through Agency training together, and their paths crossed regularly. Later she would grieve for Lisle, but right now she needed to keep her wits about her and her emotions in check.
The bell over the front door tinkled, indicating someone entering from the street. A woman said, “Here’s a box for—Oh, dear God, what is this? What’s going on here?” There was no answer. Then, “No, please, no! Oh—”
Susan heard the unmistakable sound of the Succher firing and then a loud noise as something fell to the floor.
“What the hell?” A man pushed the vault door farther open. All that showed was a cuff-linked, white-shirted arm and a hand with long fingers. “What’s going on out there?”
“Nothing,” came a male voice from the front. “I didn’t have the keys to lock the door. I thought pulling the blinds would be enough to make people think we were closed. Forgot about delivery people.”
“Goddamn it. Go through Hamilton’s purse, for Christ’s sake, and find the keys.”
“Okay,” the guy in the front grumbled.
“Jesus, I have to do everything,” Vault Man said.
Susan pulled back. The lead guy knew Lisle’s name. Because he
her or because of information gleaned while there? And how did he know about the vault room? Had he come to the office because of it, or had he and his buddy happened into the office and thought the heavy door hid more than it did? She dismissed that idea right away because really, who in the world robbed a realtor’s office? So, assuming they already knew about the vault and Lisle, the conclusion was ominous—the murderers were associated with DAT.
Quiet footsteps alerted Susan to the emergence of the man from the vault. He carried her suitcase to the table, holding the hologram generator. Lisle had suggested she leave the suitcase in the vault and out of traffic areas when she arrived earlier. She hadn’t given a second thought to the security of her things when she dashed out to eat. Now, unceremoniously, Vault Man pulled out the contents and dumped them on the floor.
“Any hints on where McAllister is staying?” the second man asked.
They’re looking for
How could that be? Only a few people knew she was there.
“Nothing yet. Lisle wouldn’t say. Or maybe she didn’t know. I thought I might find a hint in here.”
Susan edged forward, trying to identify either man. She could see Vault Man from the back. He’d put on a dark suit jacket, wore black shoes and a fedora over short brown hair. He looked to be about five feet ten or eleven. The second man leaned just inside the doorway separating the two rooms, but Vault Man hid him from view. His shoes were shiny and his pants were light gray. That was all she could see—which was as good as nothing.
She pulled back from the wall’s edge. At most, the men stood ten feet away. If either of them looked her way at the wrong time or decided to check the back parking area, she’d be caught like a virgin between two punks on Pheron.
Pheron, the newest designer street drug—and the latest form of domestic terrorism just hitting Earth cities—had brought her to Centre City, where the crime rate soared right along with the supply of the drug that released a person’s deepest desires and washed away their inhibitions. The effects of the drug sickened her. So did her prospects, if the two murderers in the other room found her.
Rising to her feet, she continued straining to hear everything the men said. Vault Man asked if Succher Guy had checked the hotel where she usually stayed in Centre City. The answer was affirmative but that she hadn’t arrived yet. And she hadn’t because that morning Lisle had invited Susan to stay with her instead. The two had a lot to catch up on, and not all of it business. Lisle had finally met Mr. Right, and they were talking marriage. Susan simply hadn’t called to cancel her hotel reservation yet.
Vault Man ordered Succher Guy to stake out the hotel and to call when he had Susan in sight. Succher Guy grumbled a reply, sounding not too happy to be relegated to the hotel lobby. The bell chimed again with the opening and closing of the street door, and then silence descended on the office.
Susan slowly sidestepped along the wall toward the back door. So intense was her focus that she jumped when her suitcase flew through the air and crashed into the flavored-water dispenser before hitting the floor.
“Goddamn it, McAllister, where the fuck are you?” Vault Man grumbled.
From her right, the back door opened. “Hey, Susan,” Buddy Knowlton called out with a smile. He held out the white bag from the steps. “Did you drop something?”
Two things happened at once. Footsteps pounded from the workroom toward the short hallway where Susan froze momentarily in shock, and she then leapt toward Buddy. Knocking him back out the door, she yelled, “Get out, Buddy! Move, move, move!”
They tripped down the steps. Buddy, looking confused and shocked at first, gathered his wits and withdrew his weapon from his suit jacket. She ran, hell-bent, for the street, assuming he was hot on her heels. The back door to the office slammed open. A laser bullet whizzed past her ear, missing her by an ando-width.
Another laser shot just missed her head. A grunt came from behind. She slowed enough to turn. Continuing with back steps, she saw Buddy on the ground. Had he tripped? Was he hit? Hesitating could kill her, but could she leave a fellow DAT agent behind?
He waved his arms, signaling her to go on. “Go!” he yelled. She didn’t like it, but she spun toward the street and kept on, not looking, not thinking, running on instinct alone. Around the corner of the building, she sprinted for the intersection and the hotel across the street. Cabs lined up in front, particularly at lunchtime.
“She’s headed for The Centre!” Vault Man shouted. “Converge there.”
So someone besides Succher Guy had been at the office? Who did she need to watch for?
She reached the street. To her right, a suited man approached, arm down, holding a pistol-style weapon. “I’ve got her,” he yelled into his lapel, the standard place to clip a communicator.
Susan’s heart raced but she forced herself to be calm. Zigzagging through traffic on the busy, six-lane street, she ignored the blaring horns and shouted curses. When she reached the cab queue without being shot or struck down, she said a tiny prayer. She cut in front of one of them to the sidewalk. No need to check the progress of her followers. The continued blaring of horns told her all she needed to know.
Ducking and running, she shot out the front tire of each cab she passed. At the front of the line, the doorman opened the cab door for a couple. Susan unceremoniously pushed the woman aside.
“Hey,” the doorman said, “what’s wrong with you?”
“DAT business,” Susan said. “Call the cops and tell them to check Centre City Real Estate.” She jumped into the cab and pulled the door closed. “You’ll get away from here real fast if you want to stay alive,” she snapped to the driver.
“What are you talkin’ ab—” He stopped when she shoved her gun in his face. “Okay.” He faced forward and turned the wheel. The cab lurched from the curb and into traffic. “Where to?”
“The shuttle terminal. Hurry.” She looked back just in time to see a man leap onto the back of the cab.
“Jesus Christ!” the cabby screamed. “What’s goin’ on?”
“Just drive,” she snapped back.
“Cab 2011, leaving The Centre and going to the shuttle terminal,” he said into his COMM.
“No!” she shouted at the same time he continued with, “And then I’m taking the rest of the fuckin’ day off!”
Susan looked behind again. A man in a dark suit got up from the street, rubbing his knee. His lips moved, but she was far too distant to hear what he said. She could imagine, though. She should have warned the cabbie not to report where she was going. The DAT—and others—monitored the whole network.
He raised his arms to take aim just as the cabbie found a break in traffic and zoomed forward. The last she saw, the crowd gathering around the disabled cabs jostled the shooter before he could get off his shot. Scowling, he turned and started running back toward the office.
Susan didn’t recognize him, but she knew the type. He was a Gov-man, exactly the kind the government—
—sent out for black ops. And for some reason, he was after her.