The Thief of Mardu
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by Marie Harte
Category: Erotica/Erotic Science Fiction/Romance
Description: Book two in the Life in the Vrail Series She stole more than he could afford to lose. Catam of Mardu has a problem. He's bored. Life as a bounty hunter has begun to pale, so a favour for his brother is just what he needs. Deputised a peacemaker to capture a thief and murderer on the run, Catam is stunned to find a beautiful woman is the culprit. Isa confesses to thievery but says she's no killer. Aiding the woman to prove her innocence goes against his orders, but Catam can't help himself. Isa intrigues him on a level bordering on dangerous. And for a Mardu warrior like Catam, a Xema, there's nothing worse than a loss of control. Determined to master his feelings, he finds himself falling for Isa despite his reservations. But can he accept her thieving ways, or is their love doomed to fail before it has a chance to begin?
eBook Publisher: Total-e-bound, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: March 2010
45 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [195 KB]
Reading time: 114-160 min.
Catam of Mardu rolled his eyes and wondered for the fifth time that morning if a person could actually die of boredom.
"I'm not goin' to Jintak and you can't make me!" Rantak Borsham's breath lingered in the air like a cloud of poison, the noxious fumes fouler than the offal lying in the alleyway beside the bar.
"I can't, hmm?" Catam's unconcerned reply further enraged the wanted murderer, causing Rantak to froth at the mouth, literally.
"You shouldn't aggravate him, Catam." Nu Fas shook his head.
Rantak, now armed with a knife, shouted obscenities, drawing attention to himself and the three men intent on capturing him.
"You really shouldn't have," Set, Nu's brother agreed. "You know Captain Mara specifically ordered us to pick up Borsham quietly."
Several barbarians painted for war and wearing wicked swords joined the quarrel, raising questions Catam and the Fas brothers didn't want to answer, not with so many hostile gazes now centred on them.
In Kweg's Bar, authority and law were in the minority. Unfortunately, to collect the hefty bounty on Rantak's murderous hide, Catam and his crewmates had no choice but to enter the eastern province's most dangerous drinking establishment.
"I asked you a question, drun." One man sneered and waved his sword in Catam's face.
A tingle of anticipation feathered Catam's belly, and he smiled eagerly, relieved to finally feel something. His grin widened when he noted the confusion darkening his adversary's face.
"Nu, Set, grab Rantak while I take care of this idiot and his friends." He nodded to the four barbarians standing to Rantak's left, frowning ferociously. From the distinct set of their bushy brows and light coloured hair, he guessed them to be some type of relation to Rantak. Perfect.
Nu shook his head, and Set sighed, but since Mara had ordered them to behave, they did so. Nu grabbed Rantak and disarmed him with ease, then nodded to his brother and disappeared with Rantak in tow, courtesy of Captain Mara's new teleporter.
Set leaned against the bar and crossed his massive arms over his chest. "I'll wait here until you're through."
Catam's opponents eyed Set with caution. No one openly challenged a citizen of Ragga--a planet that bore men with inhuman strength--with hopes of winning. When his opponents realised Set had no intention of interfering, they grunted with satisfaction.
"When we're done I might just take that pretty face and mess it up nice and proper," one of the men growled at Catam and crudely grabbed his crotch. His friends laughed and shouted obscenities while they spread around Catam in a circle.
The rest of the bar had quieted when they understood a brutal battle was about to take place. Money had furtively changed hands before Set declined to fight. Once he leaned back against the bar, a shout sounded and the crowd erupted into a betting frenzy.
Set grinned. "I'll take five to one on the drun in the middle."
Catam frowned at the large man. He eagerly anticipated the coming fight, but being called a shit for the second time, and by his crewmate no less, irritated him to no end.
Taking advantage of his distraction, one of the barbarians rushed Catam with his sword drawn. Unarmed except for the dagger tucked into his boot, Catam dropped low and whipped out his leg, tripping his rushing attacker easily. The man hit the ground with a solid thump, and Catam finished him with a measured strike intended to produce nausea and dizziness.
Sure enough, his attacker vomited and held his head in his hands, groaning.
Seeing their comrade downed so quickly, two more of the barbarians attacked, the leader waiting behind.
Catam ducked and rolled to avoid a near decapitation. He wanted to laugh out loud at the thrill coursing through him. The battle made his blood hum. He felt alive and tapped into his extrasensory awareness that hovered just beyond his conscious thought.
The opponent nearest him narrowed his gaze and stepped forward. Catam feinted left. He pulled back as one of the men lunged with his weapon, then pivoted and used the man's momentum to crash the rushing barbarians into one another.
The thrown barbarian unfortunately had his sword at the ready when Catam threw him into his comrade, and he skewered the man through the stomach.
Cheers went through the crowd. Catam glanced behind him to see Set's amused expression flatten, indicating another assault, this one too close to avoid.
Catam leapt to the side, narrowly missing a fatal blow while suffering a minor wound. Blood trickled from the shallow cut in his shoulder, the pain stinging him to life once more.
With a grin at his crewmate, who rolled his eyes and huffed at the ceiling, Catam sank to the floor and rolled left, knocking the surviving barbarian to the ground. Unlike his skewered friend, this man recovered enough to regain his feet, but Catam had tired of the play.
He dodged the next blow and went in hard. A punch to the gut and a chop to the man's throat had the third barbarian incapacitated.
Then the leader advanced, a raging menace of fury as he commanded not one but two Cortami class swords with blurring velocity. Catam briefly noted Set's alarm and shook his head to stop the Ragga's intrusion.
Whirling left and right, with inherent speed and using Xema distortion techniques, Catam confused his enemy to the point of dizziness. The man swayed on his feet, trying to keep up with the hazy image of Catam surrounding him.
Catam knocked his adversary unconscious with a sharp blow to the man's temple. Still pulsing off an adrenaline high, it took Catam a moment to remember the crowd watching him.
He blinked at the sudden silence and joined Set at the bar. "What?"
Set shook his head, looking disgusted. "Show off. Come on, we have work to do."
In a flash, Catam faced an angry Captain Mara aboard the ship, the teleporter an unwelcome reminder that he did indeed have a job to do, and that like it or not, the boredom would find him once more.
* * * *
Isa Araye frowned as she stared at the back of the closet door and listened to the muffled groans outside. She knew she shouldn't, but she couldn't help herself, and she peered through the small crack where she'd opened the door.
She'd grown up on a world that considered sexual pleasure a way of life. Viewing sex was a natural and practical way to stimulate one's drive, at least according to her mother.
Isa squinted to see a woman's figure through the dim light of the room. The woman cried out with excitement as her nude torso rode up and down, her breasts quivering as she engulfed the large white phallus straining between her thighs. The man beneath her groaned and thrust up each time she sank down, the slap of sticky flesh and mingled fluids a messy reminder that such pleasure was best left to others.
With a soft sigh, Isa prayed the two would finish copulating so she wasn't put further behind schedule. Already she'd missed her first window of opportunity when the statesman took his midnight snack.
She heard a hoarse shout and a whisper to "be quiet, Daarna." At the rate these two were going, she'd be a year older before she finished the job.
Another muffled groan and the two stilled, finally. The woman slumped over the man, and the lovers panted in tandem, defining the moment. Definitely not my day. Isa regarded the amorous pair on the bed with envy. As if I need another reminder of how unlikely I am to ever find amazing sex.
Shaking her head, she stealthily slid out of the closet, staying to the shadows. Reaching the door, she crawled out of the room on her hands and knees, entering the dark passage that would lead her to treasure.
Mother would have an absolute fit to see her daughter sneaking in hallways. Better that Isa take after that sexual creature on the bed, straddling a needy cock like a good pleasurer, instead of stalking like a thief in the night. All the Araye women, save Isa, worked in the sex trade, a highly respected occupation on Aran, Mardu's third moon.
But I had to be different. Isa stopped outside the door she'd been told would be unlocked. She slowly jostled the handle and let out a breath of relief. It turned without incident, and she entered the darkened room quietly, closing the door behind her.
Using an agility she owed to her father, she moved on winged feet, practically floating over the floor her steps were so light. She reached the point her contact said would be the safe and switched on a pocket laser to see.
Isa stared in confusion. Instead of the painting that should have hidden the wall safe, she saw the painting raised, the safe door open and the safe...empty. She shook her head, puzzled, and took a step back and to the side, to reassess the situation from another perspective. END EXCERPT