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Kenzie had to be going out of her fucking mind. She kept her hand steady and tried to ignore the smell of sex that lay heavy in the room. She had to ignore the way her muscles ached and the memory of Mad’s body on her.
She didn’t fuck for information. Her body was a tool, but she used violence most often. Once or twice, she might have let a prospective lead think she’d invite him to her bed. But she’d never done more than flirt.
Until Mad said two sentences to her and dragged her home to fuck her against the wall.
It had to be something about this planet. Or maybe it was some Kru’dari trick. None of the information she’d read about his species or his planet suggested wild sex pheromones, but free guidebooks were notoriously stingy with information. But if there were crazy Kru’dari sex pheromones, then why hadn’t she been panting after anyone else?
The only person she had eyes for was Mad.
But she was supposed to be looking for Carise.
Her hand didn’t waver, even as all the thoughts washed over her. Mad looked at her steadily, his naked body barely covered by the sheet. If he moved, she’d have to kill him. He was bigger than her and a skilled fighter. It was obvious in the way he held himself.
He wasn’t like the man she’d defeated the day before. Mad wouldn’t play games. He’d fight to win.
And he had to see the threat in her eyes. Another man would have moved by now, would have tried to get away.
She saw a trickle of blood under her blade and had to force herself to keep her hand where it was. Why did she care if he bled? He was a source. Last night meant nothing.
It couldn’t mean anything.
She pushed away the emotions that tried to crush her. She’d had plenty of experience at that over the last few years. If she let herself focus on the pain of losing Carise, she’d go crazy. Instead, all she could focus on was the mission.
Mad wasn’t just some random exile. He’d spoken to the guards with familiarity. He’d mentioned Jadirel’s desires like he had inside information. And his quarters were nicer than the squalor she’d seen on display while walking through Jadirel’s exile kingdom the day before.
This man had some kind of status. She could use him. And if he didn’t know where her sister was, he could find out information. Layala had been her only contact on Guerran. If Kenzie played her cards right, Mad might help her, too.
What was his price? Her body? She’d given that freely. Or perhaps fear for his life would be enough to make him talk.
She pulled the knife back enough to give him room to speak, but pressed her other knife against his side before he could take advantage of the movement. If he fought back, she could disembowel him before he overpowered her. Maybe he’d kill her before he died, but he’d pay for it with his life.
“I should have known you’d be deadly,” he said, eyes dancing and lips quirked up like he couldn’t quite suppress a grin. “You could be a star in the pit.”
“I’d rather swim in shit.” She couldn’t keep the venom out of her voice. She fought because she had to, not for some spectacle. Yes, she’d climb into that pit night after night if it meant she could find Carise. But she’d never do it out of some misguided search for fame and fortune.
“What do you want?” Mad asked. His eyes flicked to her knife, and she felt his muscles tense. She let the tip of the knife on his side bite into flesh.
There was no time to waste. He could have friends coming, he could be expected somewhere. He could scream. She needed to speak.
“My sister Carise was brought to Guerran sometime in the last two months. She may have been purchased as a slave for Jadirel three weeks ago. I went to his palace to find out, and he made me fight in the pit. He said he hadn’t purchased Carise, but I have no reason to believe him. I want you to tell me everything you know about his slaves and his palace.” Perched as she was, she couldn’t forget the strength of his body, but she was trying to ignore it.
Why was it so difficult?
“Why do you think I know anything?” Mad asked, far more calm than the situation warranted.
He was stalling. He had to be. But she didn’t stab him again. There was only so much she could do before she’d have to resort to torture. She’d never tortured a man before.
She didn’t need any more firsts today.
“You said you didn’t want me in Jadirel’s bed.” The way he’d said it had set her body alight, and she was trying not to picture it. Trying and failing.
“And?” For a man with a knife at his throat, he seemed too comfortable.
Should she be insulted?
“It means you knew he wanted me there. I saw you sitting beside him in the pit. You know the man. And you don’t like him. Helping me will piss him off. It may be petty revenge, but at least it’s something.” She couldn’t offer him many credits, so she didn’t try.
“Seeing as you have the knives, I’ll talk. He has two favorite,” he scowled at the word, “humans. He keeps them on chains in his throne room. There are probably others. He used to have different favorites, but I assume they’re dead now. Perhaps he sold them. I haven’t seen any new humans in the last two months.” He paused for a moment, seeming to think over what he was about to say before continuing. “I know one of the guards at the slave market. I might be able to sneak in and check the books. If your sister was sold there, there’s a transaction record. We may not have laws here, but the slavers are always sure to get paid.”
“You’ll help me?” She didn’t mean to sound so disbelieving. Then again, she wasn’t the type who’d help a person holding her at knifepoint.
“Slavers are a blight. As for you…” He grinned, and though it had to be a trick of the light, his eyes seemed to glow. “Yes, I’ll help you.”
He moved faster than she could counter, arching his hips up, bucking her off balance, and going for her knives. He hit a pressure point on her wrist and she lost her grip on the knife on his throat, making it clatter to the floor. She didn’t give up the second knife so easily, but he pulled her arm away and flipped her over until he was flat on top of her, his breath hot on her neck.
And his cock hard against her back.
“Do you want me to back away?” he asked, the question somehow both a threat and a promise.
His lips caressed the back of her neck, and she shivered. He’d put some erotic spell on her and she was powerless. He’d let her hold those knives to him; to him it was foreplay.
And Kenzie’s own body was tight with want.
Her mouth opened, ready to beg him for more, when someone banged on his door.
Mad jerked back.
“Open up!” a sort of familiar male voice demanded.
Mad cursed. “It’s Tyze. One of Jadirel’s men. Hide if you don’t want to be captured.” Then he raised his voice towards the door. “Give me a minute, I’m coming.”
Kenzie scrambled off the bed and reached for her fallen knife.
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