First you have Brodie Mark. An orphan who was raised on the streets, later roamed the Blue District with packs of feral children. As he grows up, he rises through the ranks of the Nexian Resistance to become leader of the underground. In this short excerpt, you meet Brodie at twenty, already a force to be reckoned with.
“Come with me, Duchess.”
Ava snapped awake and stared into the lapis depths of Brodie Mark’s eyes.
“We’ll make history today.” He straddled her hips with his hands pressed into her bunk on each side of her head, leaning in with his lips inches from hers.
“I’m not dressed and if that was a pass, it was really bad.” The New Xieran summer had been hotter than usual and the scorching afternoon baked the air in her cabin, forcing her to strip to the thin T-shirt and her skivvies. Sometime during her nap, the sheet had worked down to her knees, exposing the naked flesh of her thighs and her belly, where her shirt had bunched up.
“Not a pass.” His smile started as a twitch in the corners of his mouth and quickly spread to his whole face. Jewels twinkled from around her hips and navel, reflecting in Brodie’s gaze. “And it’s more than obvious you’re not dressed, Duchess.”
“Brodie,” Ava gasped and grabbed the sheets. She yanked as hard as she could in an attempt to cover her body. Best friend or not, he didn’t need to see her nearly naked. “You’re not supposed to be here—when I’m alone.” She shoved his shoulder, pushing him back. “Uncle Theo will kill you if he finds you in here.”
Brodie shrugged, knowing there was little chance of that. Her uncle had left for a meeting and told Ava to stay put. She’d soon grown bored and dropped into sleep only to be woken by the twenty-year-old, heartthrob.
“I’m serious. You shouldn’t be in here.”
“I know,” he said. “But you’re always safe with me. And when you’re not with me….” He pulled a medallion on a long chain from his pocket and dangled it before her. It spun around, glinting in the light pouring through her cabin’s portal window. “I have a surprise.” He dropped it on her chest between her breasts and leaned back in, pressing closer, until Ava’s breath caught in her throat. “Today is special—monumental.”
“It is, is it?”
His tangled hair hung in a mass of dreadlocks around his face and dirt smudged his left jaw. It didn’t temper his devastating looks. Many an innocent girl lost her virginity to Brodie at the crook of a finger, and Ava was determined not to be one of them.
She tugged her gaze from his and stared at the open door to her quarters, anything to get her mind off him. “You need to get out of here before my uncle comes back.”
“I will if you come with me.”
Ava turned back to him. “My uncle will kick my ass if I leave the ship.”
“What is it the Terrans say? Damned if you do—damned if you don’t?” He cocked his head and gave her a wicked grin. The muscles in her thighs clenched and her heart began to race. Two years older, Brodie had been the leader of a pack of feral children. Now a man, he’d joined the resistance and had quickly climbed the ranks. Taller by a foot and twice as strong, he could easily force Ava to come along, but instead, he asked with excitement beaming from his eyes. “You know you want to.”
Ava snorted and fought the smile that tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Brodie Mark, you’re likely to get me into trouble.”
He sat back on his heels and laughed. “I am trouble.” Brodie was as tough as a seasoned soldier and twice as lethal. He’d been forced to fend for himself and had killed to survive since the age of five. Brodie had very few things he valued, and those few things governed his honor code. That code meant he’d never harm a Rebel, or those that served the cause. Most of all he’d never harm her. Going with him should be safe.
She’d first met him on the street as he’d followed a target when he was twelve. She’d tagged along, wanting to get a closer look at his blaster rifle. Brodie told her to go away, but Ava had been persistent, dogging his heels until he’d spun around and knocked her flat. “Not this time. It’s too dangerous for little girls. Someday when you’re older.”
“I’m not a little girl. I’m ten.”
His eyes swept over her as he stared down. “You look like a baby.”
“I’m a Frost, not a baby.”
Brodie’s eyes had popped wide. He gave her a curt nod. “Be safe, Duchess. Go home. You can come another time. I promise, I’ll come and get you when you’re ready.”
It had been the first time he’d called her that, his pet name.
It had taken her years to realize it wasn’t a nickname, but a title, one she’d hold if her mother hadn’t murdered her husband and run off with her father.
“Well, are you coming?” Ava pulled out of her memories and stared Brodie in the eyes. She bit her lip, debating whether it would be worth the trouble she’d get into. Seeming to sense her indecision, he gave her his best pouty face. Ava’s heart skipped, and she fought the giggle. Puppy dog eyes looked ridiculous on the dangerous Rebel. She should tell him.
“Well, Duchess?” Charm, charisma, and heat rolled off him.
He knew she couldn’t say no.
Brodie disappears for several years after an attack in the Blue District and Ava fears her friend is dead. While smuggling a shipment of fissile materials for the Resistance, Ava slams head on into Commander Seth Reynolds of the Fleet Regulators. In this encounter, Ava knows he isn't good for her and hanging around with him could be dangerous to all the resistance has accomplished, but like that forbidden chocolate bar, she can't resist taking a bite out of him. But Seth just might be more than she can handle.
The way she’d fingered his uniform ignited every cell in his body. She touched it as if she stroked skin, and somehow he’d gotten harder. He held her gaze as he reached around her and snagged his com off a shelf. “I’m never off duty,” he said.She raised a brow. “Pity. I’d like to know you when you aren’t all business.”
He dropped his gaze to her mouth. Her lips were luscious, her teeth perfectly kept. This woman wasn’t meant to be a smuggler. She was born to warm a man’s bed and heart.
“Is there something you want, Captain Reynolds?”
Yeah, and she was a micro-moment from finding out. “No.” He grabbed her hand and pressed his com into it. “Contact a shuttle. I’ll escort you to your room. It’s not safe for a woman to travel New Xiera Port at night on this side of the city.”
“The Blue district?” She gave a soft laugh. “I’m half Nexian. If you didn’t notice, it’s a Nexian neighborhood. Now you, on the other hand….” She tossed his com on the bed and slid a hand up his chest. “A big strapping Regulator like yourself might get some second looks, especially dressed like that. Who goes to the beach dressed to work?”
He pushed her hand away. “I’ll escort you.”
The corner of her mouth curled and an impish dimple appeared. “What’s wrong with hanging out here?”
Seth frowned. “This is my room.”
“I see that,” she said, though she hadn’t taken her gaze off him.
“I don’t understand.” She couldn’t be insinuating….
She rose up on her toes and slid her hands into his hair. She pulled his face down to hers. “Then let me explain it.” As her mouth made contact with his, jolts of energy shot through his body. Seth didn’t resist. Should’ve. The woman was bad news. If he had any common sense left, he’d throw her against the wall and cuff her, not kiss her. But he couldn’t. He’d fallen victim to Frost’s charms, and he could do nothing but give in and let it happen.
He ran his hands down her back, stroking bare flesh under his fingertips. They traveled over her hips and around to her ass. Ava Frost had a figure. She had flesh and softness to her frame, wasn’t boney and hard like many of the women around this sector. He loved her curves and filled his hands with them in the manner he’d dreamed about for most of the day.
Ava pulled her mouth away and looked him in the eyes. Spontaneous combustion. Nothing could cool the inferno raging inside him…well, almost nothing. Not a good idea. If he buried his cock inside her, the League would bury him. Seth knew better, but his body wasn’t listening. He’d seen that look before and knew what it meant. “This can’t go any further,” he said.
She smiled and shoved him onto the bed, following him down. As he landed on the mattress, she straddled his legs and reached for his buckle. “Let’s get you into something a little more comfortable.” He snagged her wrists, not sure he could let this continue and keep his pride intact. This wouldn’t buy her way out of trouble, or get her off for any crimes she might have committed.
Ah so two men, one dead the other very much alive and a bit resistant. But what happens if one of them isn't dead and he comes back to claim the woman he'd been secretly protecting?
Hence the love triangle and the reason you see them both on the cover. Who will win her heart. Who will lose?