Black Planet: Tiger Eyes
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by Belinda McBride
Category: Erotica/Erotic Science Fiction/Science Fiction
Description: San Francisco: 2184 CE Sometimes, when you reach the end of the road, you find a twist you didn't expect. A hill rises, a trail breaks away and to your surprise, the end has become the beginning. Lieutenant Milo Greene's career is all that keeps him on his feet and functioning. He's lost everyone he ever loved, and now, only the job holds him together. When he looks to the future, he sees no reprieve. And then one day he looks up and sees his destiny standing in the doorway. Darah Lash is the most powerful Thalian present on Earth. Yet, to his people, he is a second-class citizen. He came to Earth with the small, desperate hope that he would find a woman who would accept him, mate him, and eventually bear his children. What he doesn't expect to find is love. Grace Chen is a wrecked shell of a woman. Once admired and feared, she is now on the brink of death, fighting for every day, every hour. In a vision, she is told to wait for the miracle, but it hasn't come yet. And if that miracle comes, will the cost be too high? Three paths end, one road begins. Destination: Black Planet.
eBook Publisher: Changeling Press LLC, 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: April 2009
39 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [145 KB]
Reading time: 82-115 min.
If she drank that last shot of whiskey, would she be able to make it home under her own power?
Grace Chen contemplated the golden fluid in the tiny glass. She didn't particularly want it, but she couldn't take it with her and was too short of funds to buy a bottle.
She was drinking on the house, a small token reward for clearing out some kids who'd decided to bust up the place. Not that busting it up would have made a difference. It was a challenge to find a single unbroken chair in this pathetic, moth-eaten dive. That's why she leaned against the cracked leather of the formerly elegant bar, her feet aching, every muscle in her body protesting.
One more shot and the pain would fade. One more shot and she'd be able to sleep through the night. The cramps would be muffled, and the roaring in her ears would fade, if only a bit.
One more shot and she'd be unable to fend for herself out on San Francisco's dark, treacherous streets.
If she drank it now, fast, she might be able to move quickly enough that the alcohol wouldn't hit her system until she was safely behind locked doors.
Gloved hands trembling, Grace checked the seedy bar, searching for enemies; even a friend could slow her enough to make a difference. She slipped her black leather jacket over the skin-tight bustier, and then stood upright, brushing off the chaps that covered her black jeans. Leather boots rose to her knees but were surprisingly light and supple. A wide, studded collar guarded her throat. Every inch of her body was protected, armed and cushioned.
And she looked hot, to boot. Stilettos would be better, a g-string under the chaps, but hell...
Ah well, vanity was a fleeting thing, best left in the past. Fetish just wasn't practical for battle.
Taking on that gang had been stupid, but hell and damnation, they were getting on her nerves! And she wasn't dead yet. Seeing them fall to the floor, and then scatter like kittens ... that had been like the good old days when crowds had parted at her presence. The reality of that life had been harsh, but damn, she missed it.
Seeing that all was clear, she lifted the fiery fluid to her lips and tossed it back, wincing at the sharp heat of the cheap alcohol. It hit her stomach in a blaze, joining the three other shots of the evening. She flicked a finger at the bartender. He nodded, waved back, and returned to his boxing match on the decrepit vid screen.
Grace hit the antique leather-covered swinging door and stepped out into the foggy night. Standing quietly, she checked both directions, listening for those who might be lingering in wait. Once she was comfortable, she walked quickly, long legs covering ground smoothly.
A quarter mile along she began to slow. At a half mile she propped her butt against a graffiti-covered wall, taking a rest.
Yesterday, she'd made it two blocks further in before needing to stop. She rested her head against the boarded-over window, feeling the lump of her ponytail against the hard surface. It was ironic that, even as her body was breaking down, her hair grew as thick and lush as it ever had. Her skin was sallow, her eyes sunken, but her hair was beautiful. It was probably karma.
As a girl, Grace had bragged to her cousins about her hair. She was secretly jealous of their twisted braids and poofy little pigtails. Their moms and grandmas had put in endless hours doing elaborate cornrows and plaits, while Grace's mom just scraped her hair back in a ponytail and sent her on her way.
Her hair had been long, sleek and straight, and the object of envy. She found a weakness and exploited it, not caring that she hurt the other girls' feelings.
Then one morning, she woke to find that her ponytail had been cut off. When the story came out, her mother had slapped her silly and taken the scissors to the rest of her hair, trimming it nearly to her scalp.
To her shame, her cousins all suffered the same fate.
She'd learned to stop taking herself so seriously back then. She'd also realized that she wasn't jealous of her cousins' hair, she was jealous of the attention they got from their mothers. Within weeks, she and Aiden had been bundled up with their belongings and sent to stay in Wharf, under the watchful eye of the Lee family. Her aunt, Windy Lee, had tousled her shorn locks and smiled, telling her how beautiful she was without all that hair hiding her face.
Grace smiled at the memory as she pushed herself off the wall to continue her journey. Another six blocks to her tiny apartment, a cubbyhole tucked above a store that sold Chinese movies and music.
She'd have to move soon and was reluctant to do so. The residents on her street had turned a blind eye to her dark skin, choosing to see only her Chinese features and her protective virtues. In just weeks they'd made a home for her here in Chinatown. Her neighbors had become family, and after being alone for so long, Grace craved connections with other people. She longed for casual gossip and a friendly touch on the arm. Laughter and belonging.
She'd found it here, among her father's people. She protected them, they protected her. Lately though, they were the ones doing the protecting.
When members of Grace's old fight gang came hunting, asking about the tall, black woman, the neighbors treated them with bland, polite respect. Only Chinese here, they told the hunters. No outsiders in the neighborhood.
When Shigeo Nakashima's Yakuza cruised through with casual arrogance, they were simply ignored as though they were ghosts. Gweilo.
Nakashima's boys and girls had started after Grace about nine months ago, after her brother Aiden had skipped town with Annie Tanaka. She hadn't seen her brother in years, and hadn't made the connection until she'd picked up an old paper at Golden Palace Dim Sum. She'd read that her brother's woman had beheaded the wife of San Francisco's most powerful Yakuza. The couple had disappeared shortly thereafter leaving Grace to bear the brunt of Nakashima's grief and fury.
Yeah, thanks for the warning, bro. Since Nakashima was unable to return the compliment directly to Aiden and Annie, he'd chosen to avenge himself on the next-of-kin.
That would be Grace Chen.
Nakashima and the Red Flags tag-teamed, sharing information, and pooling their sources, but they were always just a step behind Grace. She was rapidly running out of wiggle room here in the City. Grace had proven that she had more lives than an alley cat, dodging attempts on her life with skill, determination, and sheer dumb luck.
With her former gang and the Yakuza covertly watching the docks, the rattle-trap BART system, and greasing the palms of the fishermen, escape from the City had proven impossible. She'd been cut off from her bank accounts, and had rapidly run through the little stashes of money she'd secreted away.
She'd fled her nice, nearly luxurious digs in the Presidio and had been running ever since, squatting in tiny garage apartments in the South City, bunking down in noisy attic rooms in the Tenderloin. She'd stayed with a porn star at her posh Nob Hill address until Nakashima's people had tracked Grace and threatened the actress while she was filming. Glenda the Good Bitch might have poor taste in names, not to mention career choices, but she didn't deserve the attention of a psychotic crime lord.
And Grace wasn't the one to criticize anybody for career choices.