To Save A Life, A’yen’s Legacy #3
Rachel Leigh Smith
The first three books are best read in order
A’yen’s loved ones are under attack. To save them, he’ll risk everything.
Half the Lokmane are free and the resettling of Lok’ma is in progress. A’yen is crowned king, but it isn’t stopping his enemies. Someone is after Ro, and the woman he’s falling in love with is caught in the middle.
When Fae is injured in a cave-in at a dig site, A’yen knows who’s to blame. Proving it is the hard part. Things get worse when he walks into a political trap, and Ro is framed for murder. Saving his reputation is easy compared to saving Ro. Ro’s demons come for him, taking him back to a life not worth living.
A’yen races to save Ro before he can act on his deepest desire: killing his tormentor. Happily ever after can’t happen if Ro is dead.
Earth Year: 5234
Ro stared at his king. Didn’t matter his mouth hung open. Didn’t matter A’yen stared right back. “You did what?”
“I invited the Marcasian emperor to send a representative.” A’yen crossed his arms while his gaze drilled holes into Ro’s brain.
“Are you insane?”
“Not last time I checked.”
Ro gave the man—his king, yes, but also the closest thing he had to a friend—his fiercest frown. “I beg to differ. Do you want them to see how easy it would be to conquer us again?”
A’yen leaned back in his chair, and propped his bare feet on the corner of his desk. He still wore a collar, because he insisted on being the last Lokmane to remove his. At the current rate of emancipation—stalled out—he’d go to his grave wearing it. “Pretty sure they already know. I’m operating under the assumption they have spies here.”
A valid point, but one Ro wasn’t ready to concede. Instead, he turned to Sa’nar Jenkins, the newly-elected prime minister. He’d be sworn in next week, minutes after A’yen’s coronation. “Please tell me you tried to talk him out of this. You’re from there. You know what they’re like.”
“I agree with him.”
“Then you’re both insane.” Ro stalked to the window, hands hidden in his pockets. A’yen knew how upset he was about this. Sometimes being a telepath and empath came in handy. Not today. A’yen was too calm. Too reasonable. Sa’nar as well. He faced them again. “Why? Why take such a huge risk? So much could go wrong.”
“We don’t know how many are enslaved within the empire. Marcase isn’t known for doing things because it’s the right thing to do. The only hope we have of getting through to them is to show them we’re real.” A’yen’s feet hit the floor and he leaned forward. “I’m sure as hell not sending someone there. You’re not the only one unnerved by this, Ro, but we’ve tried everything else. Their High Senator won’t talk to Dad. If you have a better idea, please, tell me.”
Forcing the tension from his shoulders, Ro sat. “If I was any good at politics, I wouldn’t be covered with blue.” He glanced at his markings. The pattern resembled braided vines of thorns in a dark blue the same shade as his eyes. Twelve years, and his hatred of them hadn’t dimmed. Neither had the judgment from others. They saw only the blue and what it meant: a marked sex slave, forbidden by law to say no to anyone. Even to other slaves.
They never saw Da’Ro, the person. The man who laughed with A’yen’s little boy. Or the man learning how to cook, who secretly devoured poetry and had fallen in love with Shakespeare’s sonnets. Thanks to Jasmyn.
Calm seeped through him at the thought of her. No one knew she was teaching him how to read Common, so he could appreciate the master wordsmith without translation barriers.
Jasmyn Jenkins, Sa’nar’s oldest daughter. She saw him. For some strange reason, she liked him too. The real him, who was little better than a whore and totally unworthy of someone pure like her. They’d met two years ago when A’yen visited the Hidden in the Morrow Nebula. From the moment Ro saw her, he’d wanted to stand on his own and be worthy of her.
“Does Jasmyn light up like that when she thinks about Ro?” A’yen had the good sense not to laugh out loud, but it danced in his tone.
Sa’nar’s chuckle made Ro’s ears burn. “A father doesn’t divulge his daughter’s secrets.”
“My love life, or lack thereof, is not the subject at hand, A’yen. Do you really want them to know we don’t have a military, or a fully functional economy?” Ro locked his gaze on A’yen until he squirmed.
“Like I said, I’m pretty sure they already know.”
“And on the off chance they don’t?”
“They do.” Sa’nar heaved a sigh. “There is very little in this galaxy they don’t know.”
“We’re making it easier for them why?”
A’yen shook his head and leaned back again then appeared to change his mind because he leaned forward, arms folded on his desk. Ro twisted his telepathic field to see the colors. Growing pain shimmered around A’yen in a halo of dark green, a perfect match to his markings. The curse of the markings—constant, never-ending, nerves-on-fire, slicing, stabbing pain. Down to the bone. “Doing it like this, we retain some control of what they see.”
“Not good enough.”
“It’s all I’ve got. Snubbing them won’t do us any good either.”
Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging…
She’s a member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America. She blogs sporadically at www.rachelleighsmith.com, hangs out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RachelLeighSmithAuthor, and can sometimes be found at http://twitter.com/rachelleighgeek. You can sign up for her newsletter here.
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