From high society banquets in the ice covered skyscrapers of New Arizona, to
the most far-flung outposts at the edge of human-occupied space, everyone has
heard of Ymir. The Alliance's reach is wide, and its soldiers are well trained,
but there are always despots powerful enough to assert themselves, and Ymir has
been one of the most notable failures of human history: a whole planet given
over to a man known only as the Warlord.
Cade Williams was once a Dragon—the most elite fighting unit in known space.
Precise, brutal, and unstoppable, they were a last resort in the lawless wastes
of space colonization. But there was a price: in one horrific mission, Cade’s
unit took down not only a slave trader, but an entire intergalactic carrier.
Cade left and never looked back. Haunted by his past, he’s vowed never again to
kill, never again to fight, and, filling jobs from dock worker to bartender,
he’s managed to keep that vow. But Cade’s life is about to be turned upside
down. Because when at last he runs out of options, his old friend Talon Rift
appears out of nowhere. Talon, the man who ordered him to take down the
carrier. Talon, who wants him to get back in the game. And when Cade won’t,
Talon has a job opportunity he seems to know Cade can’t afford to pass up.
Protect a woman. An innocent. Remarkably little chance of anything going wrong.
And a man needs to eat.
And the trophy wife…
There are two problems: first, that Cade hates Aryn the moment he lays eyes on
her; second, that he wants her like he’s never wanted anyone before in his
life. Or make that three problems: Aryn’s fiancé is a weapons trafficker with a
well-deserved reputation for being ruthless, and Aryn is about to get caught up
in one of his schemes - one that will bring her back to the place she only just
escaped...the mines of Ymir.
The words came through the haze of
smoke and drunkenness like a hallucination. Cade knew that voice. He was never,
ever going to be able to forget that voice, and it had to be a hallucination
because there was no way in hell the owner of that voice had chased him across
three systems only to walk into a dive bar on the lower streets of New Arizona.
So he went back to his drink.
He picked up the glass and stared
at it. It was a scotch he’d been nursing for about three hours now, and not
just because “scotch” seemed to be a loose term for colored grain alcohol. When
he finished his drink, he had nowhere to go. And in the ever-drifting snow of
New Arizona—he’d never figured out if the name was born of ignorance or
irony—he needed to stay indoors as long as possible. The cold was fierce, and
whatever acid was in the water on this planet, it would burn his skin raw in
less than a night.
And if he didn’t get ten thousand
credits to Osiris within a week, he was a dead man. But one thing at a time.
Cade shook his head and let the moment slide away from him, a tiny drift into
memory and nothing more.
“Williams,” the voice said again.
That was definitely not a
hallucination. Cade’s eyes traveled along the arm that had come down on one
side of him. Callused fingertips, last joint of the right index finger missing,
the hint of a tattoo poking out from under a blue cuff. The arm underneath the
suit jacket was well muscled, leading to broad shoulders and a clean-shaven
jaw, and with a sinking feeling of dread, Cade looked up at one of his worst
“Actually, it’s Major now.” Talon’s
face was expressionless, as it almost always was. He watched as Cade’s eyes
traveled over the understated suit, across the planes of the handsome face. At
last, sensing the question Cade would never ask, he flipped over the hand on
his resting arm. There, glimmering in the faint light, were blood-red
A Dragon always wore red.
Talon absorbed Cade’s bitter smile
“You look surprisingly well.” Cade
looked down into his scotch and considered drinking the rest in one gulp. The
pours in this bar were generous, and with the alcohol being of dubious
provenance, a gulp might well kill him. Right now, that wasn’t seeming so bad.
It was all coming back to him—without warning, as it always did. He’d known the
moment he heard the voice that this was going to be a bad night, even worse
than he’d thought—and he’d already thought it would be pretty bad. There was
screaming at the corner of his mind, the flashing of the lights in the bar
taking on a reddish hue, the emergency exit sign too clear a reminder.
He closed his eyes, clenching his
jaw until he thought his teeth would give way. He had to keep breathing, or the
memories would take him, and the world would devolve into the chaotic mess he
so feared, every face reminding him of the pods, the children pounding on the
He was going to be sick. His
“Should I go?”
“No.” Cade’s answer surprised even
him. He opened his eyes and looked down into his drink again. He could force
the world back into its neat shapes if he tried hard enough. In the vacuum of
space, in the long silences of a courier’s job, he’d learned to face his fear
and press it away.
He could face this, too.
“Okay.” Talon sat, pulled
reflexively at both cuffs, and looked over at the bartender. “What won’t kill
“Don’t try the scotch.”
About the Author:
Raised on the Dragon Riders of Pern, Star
Wars, Star Trek, and a whole bunch of historical romances, Michaela grew up
adoring the adventure of Science Fiction and the passion of a good love story.
Filled with double crossing, grand romantic gestures, sarcasm, and plenty of
heat, Michaela's books are just the sort of thing she wants to read herself!
to find her: