Genre: New Adult Dystopian Romance
Cover Artist: Brannon Jones @ B-Dirty Graphics
Cover Artist: Brannon Jones @ B-Dirty Graphics
In the 23rd century, war has ravaged the planet.
A biological weapon has decimated the population, and those who remain have been driven to desperate measures to survive. Over the course of a century, evolution delivers an answer -- the Xeno gene, which provides its bearers with immunity to disease. All adolescent girls are tested for the X-gene, and carriers are obligated to bear children for the good of the human race.
The promise of salvation comes at a terrible price.
Stone Emmerson, heir to a position of supreme power, is surprised to learn his best friend Kella is an X-gene carrier. He's quick to claim her as his own, but as a mere servant, Kella can't help but doubt his motives. Before he can offer the protection of his name, she escapes his household. Mourning her loss, Stone becomes the black sheep among his peers by focusing on the welfare of his people.
While survival and freedom hang in the balance...
Starting over under an assumed name, Kella is a founding member of the X-Diplomats, a radical group dedicated to stopping enforced X-gene testing and promoting equal rights for commoners. Years pass before she crosses paths with Stone again. As the web of deceit that has come between them unravels, their love begins to grow. But can Stone turn a blind eye to Kella's violent revolution and see the justice of her cause? Or will their differences prove too great to overcome?
What price would you pay to break the chains of oppression?
Are you behind on reading the excerpts?
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Kella wound her way through the city, taking several tight alleys and cross streets, hoping to lose any tail she might’ve picked up. Earlier she’d thought someone followed her. Never catching sight of anyone, it’d boiled down to a gut feeling.
She hadn’t seen Stone since he’d left her office a couple of days ago, but him showing up out of nowhere gave her an uneasy feeling. The way she saw it, being worried he’d put a tail on her constituted as being aware of her surroundings. Biggest problem now was, she saw ghosts everywhere apparently, phantoms shadowing her, while she held her breath waiting for Stone to show back up.
Just because she hadn’t spotted anyone didn’t mean she wasn’t being followed. After an hour of meandering through the streets, she stopped at a produce stand. The prices were too high for the average person. Most commoners either grew their own produce, or ate the government issued granola bars that supplied the same necessary nutrition. The granola tasted bad, like real bad, but when left with the gnawing ache of hunger, a person ate what was available.
The lucrative business of archeology allowed her the opportunity to splurge on occasion. An apple would suffice for dinner just as well as a government ration, and would taste better too.
“How are you today, Mr. Scott?” She took a moment to select the one she wanted. Scott was a sweet elderly man who still maintained his own garden at eighty-five.
“Better than average. And you, Miss Mack?”
“Can’t complain.” She handed him the frams for the apple, adding in a hefty tip. “Tell Mrs. Franny I said hi.”
Standing on the corner, she perused the foot-travelers as she munched on her fruit. Right off, she spied no one out of the ordinary. Her specialty was in digs, though, not spying, but she didn’t want to go further without making sure no one followed.
“Nothing equals the taste of fresh fruit.” Stone’s voice coming from behind jarred her.
Damn, he was good. She’d thought someone followed, but she’d never suspected him. As she bit into the produce, she turned to face him, and craned her head back. Taller than she would’ve predicted for his youthful stature, but she was fun-sized so that accounted for part of his height.
Juice ran down her chin, and he looked away quickly, running his hand through his overlong hair in a move she dissected as disconcerted. To further increase his discomfort, she swiped the juice away with the back of her hand. The uncouth manners would turn any spooner off.
“Tongue-gasms for sure,” she agreed, ruminating over her surprise that he kept his hair long. For a man of his status, the locks sent a rebellious message. They also gave him a younger appearance than his twenty-three years, and she bet some of the other Regents refused to give him his due because of his age, womanizing, drinking, and fighting. But she could be wrong. Mostly she didn’t care. She really didn’t!
He groaned at her comment. “Honey, the only tongue-gasms I’m familiar with are the ones with my tongue buried in a woman’s pussy.”
Kella would’ve choked on her fruit had she suffered from a more delicate constitution. But why’d his comment make her hot between her thighs? The unwanted visual of his head nestled between her legs struck hard, and she imagined his chocolaty locks would tickle her skin. She shook her head in the hopes of clearing away the unwanted fantasy.
What was she doing? She didn’t engage in sex anymore because she loathed being used for someone else’s pleasure.
“Well…okay.” Lame reply, but he managed to tongue tie her over his remark.
Suddenly, he crowded her space and trailed his fingers across her cheekbone. Kella allowed the stroke until her brain kicked in and screamed he took liberties. She pulled away, but that didn’t deter him. Instead he gripped her nape and tugged her so close she could feel the heat coming off his body.
“There’s something about you. Something familiar and oddly appealing.”
Did he chase after everything with a vagina? “Not interested in dicks, remember?”
His gaze jerked to hers as if startled by her comeback. Stone chuckled, a male sound that resonated through her entire fucking body and fashioned funny, little swirls in her stomach. And had her clit weirdly pounding with her heartbeat.
“Right. Lesbian. Not buying it, sweetheart.”
She elbowed her way out of his grasp and put more than an arm’s length between them. “Don’t care what you buy, Regent. I’m particularly not interested in you.”
Deadpan, he stared her in the eyes and said, “I’m sure.”
His obnoxious arrogance should’ve been a turn off. It was with other assholes. She stared at him and resumed chewing on her apple. He returned her stare without blinking. With a mental sigh, she admitted if she were in his shoes she’d probably be just as arrogant.
“You want something in particular or are you torturing me with conversation for the hell of it?”
A slow, sexy grin curled his lips. “I told you I’m looking for Mark Evans.”
“You know where to find him.”
He frowned, focused on the pedestrians milling about the square, and shook his head. “Not willing to go that route yet.”
“For a man that spends an awful lot of time headlining the scandal sheets, you are strangely trying to keep a low profile.” That couldn’t bode well for her.
“Mack!” At least four different voices yelled out her name.
Kella grinned at the kids who approached from across the street. “Rog, you been watching out for Dezzy?”
Dezzy sucked on his thumb and clutched at Rog’s hand. Just mentioning his name had Dezzy grinning around his digit.
“You got something for us?” Pickle asked, a ginger headed girl who’d been found in a pickle barrel at the ripe age of seven months.
“Who’s the snot?” Rog glared at Stone, and Stone’s eyebrows flew up toward his hairline. The boy was big for his twelve years. He’d been on the streets since he was eight, and he was one of the toughest, but sweetest, kids she knew.
“Mind your manners, Rog.”
At her warning, he tugged his hand free of Dezzy’s and crossed his arms over his chest, not giving up the glare. It was sweet he defended her, but giving Stone shit would land him in a barrel full of trouble.
She tossed her apple core into the trash bin. “Apologize or walk away.”
Mutiny flashed in his brown-eyed gaze when he shifted his glance to her for a millisecond.
Dezzy leaned against Rog’s large frame, sucking loudly on his thumb. The excitement of the other four kids dropped at their standoff.
Kella wouldn’t back down. “All you need to know is he’s an acquaintance. Now apologize.”
“Sorry,” the boy mumbled. It wasn’t the most gracious apology, but she hoped it would suffice. Spooners were to blame for his hardship, and he wasn’t likely to ever forgive them.
“You’re pretty.” Maddy tugged on Stone’s pants. Her mother was a worker at the bordello, so five-year-old Maddy spent a lot of time alone, but that was life in dreg society. The normally blonde-haired, little girl didn’t look like she’d had a bath in a week, and her matted hair hadn’t seen a brush either.
“So are you,” Stone said. Despite the little girl’s shabby appearance, he stunned Kella when he swung Maddy up into his arms. Maddy grinned at them like she was the queen of the square.
Deciding it was best to ignore the softening in her heart toward Stone, she dug in her bag and pulled out a handful of chocolates. “You know the drill. Chocolate for a correct answer.”
Schoolwork was important, but these kids didn’t attend school. An education was for spooners only. Dregs worked all their life. Child-labor laws of the twenty-first century were nothing but a history lesson.
The two oldest kids worked to help with the cost of living. Kella gave them lessons to learn and quizzed them when she saw them again. Often they ferreted her out just because they wanted the treats. It’d become a game, but they were learning, and that’s what mattered to her.
“What’s the name of the 2020 president that was impeached?” She held up a chocolate between her thumb and forefinger and waved it back and forth.
“Charles Monroe,” Stella squealed in a high-pitched voice.
“Close. Try again, Stella.”
“Umm…” she poked her tongue out of her mouth and closed her eyes as she thought. Everyone stared at her. She could see the answer in Rog’s eyes, but he wouldn’t speak up until Stella had a chance. It was the way the boy operated. “Charlie Monroe?”
“Correct.” Kella handed over the chocolate, and the candy was unwrapped and stuffed in her mouth a few seconds later.
They went on asking questions until each child, except Maddy, had a piece of candy. Four of them took off, and only Stella remained waiting on Maddy cuddled in Stone’s arm. Stella must be on babysitting duty today. As a group they’d worked out their own sitting assignments. The older kids always watched out for the younger kids. Kella liked that they stuck together that way.
“He’s pretty, Mack.” Maddy patted Stone’s chest. “Smells good too.”
Kella met Stone’s gaze. Amusement crinkled the corners of his eyes. “Yes, he knows he’s pretty,” she said. “For the final piece of chocolate, what’s the name of my new favorite song?”
They all knew that. And since Maddy couldn’t read yet, she wouldn’t leave her out by not giving her a treat.
Maddy grinned. “Sweet Home Alabama.”
“All of you are so bright.” She passed the treat to the little girl, and Stone settled her on her feet. “Be safe.”
Silence lingered between her and Stone. She could feel the intensity of his stare while she watched the girls walk away. Kella regretted the world wasn’t their oyster, but until society changed, fair chances weren’t a part of dreg-life.
“That was enlightening,” he said.
revealed March 16, 2016