In my copious off-time. O.O
It’s …well, a slightly erotic SF. She’s an assassin.
If I finish it, it will probably be a J.C. book.
“I hated to admit it to myself, but there are only two people who would have done this. Only two who would benefit. My son and his wife.”
Arching my brows, I edged in closer, searching for weapons. So far, I’d yet to see a single one.
“I cannot tell if the look on your face is curiosity or merely an attempt to distract me.” He sighed and then reached out, pushed a plate toward me. “If you are any good at your job, you’ll recognize this.”
My eyes moved to the plate, a thin disk of what looked like hammered gold.
The sight of the three small berries there made my belly clench, even if I was there to kill him.
Death’s seal, the most poisonous plant in three systems. Deadly, and outlawed on almost every planet in those three systems. Just the tongue of it on the tongue was enough to kill a child. Half of a berry could kill a woman my size. Three berries could kill three men.
“I’m going to make this easy,” he said quietly. “My son seeks to kill me, thinking he’ll inherit.”
Cree reached for a berry.
“Wait,” I said, the word ripping out of me despite my intention not to speak. “Why? If you wish to fight him, then why do this?”
“I don’t wish to fight him.” He smiled, rolling the berry between his fingers. “I wish to deny him what he tries to take by betrayal.” Then he shrugged. “And I refuse to let him use another in his endless vendetta against me. Do you know…it’s our belief that for every life you take, you must save two more if you want to leave this existence with your soul intact?”
I inclined my head. “I have no soul left. You do this for nothing if you try to spare me.”
“If you had no soul, it wouldn’t concern you to see this berry in my hand.”
He smiled at me as he tossed it up in the air.
I don’t know why I did it.
It should mean nothing to me.
I could easily claim his death as my own. Poison wasn’t unknown to me. I suspected I even knew who had provided him with those three priceless, deadly berries.
But my hand moved, almost as though it had a mind of its own and the sliver-thin dart stole the berry from the air and I quickly used two more darts to destroy the other two berries. He could still lick the plate, I supposed, but somehow I didn’t see this regal, elegant man choosing that route.
“Why?” he asked, his voice puzzled.
Staring at the plate, at the thin stalks of the darts, I shook my head. “I don’t know,” I murmured. Then I looked at him. “Do you count now? As one half of a life?”
He cocked his head. “Well. I suppose I would, even though you came to kill me. Do you plan to walk away now?”
Walk away. I’d never walked away from a job in my life. I had failed before. Twice. And I’d suffer more pain than I cared to recall. The breaking of my bones was a sound that had haunted my sleep for years.
But to walk away? Never. Doing so meant my life. It wasn’t much of a life, but it was the only one I had and as though the son of a bitch who held my leash already knew of my failure, I started to sweat. It didn’t work like that. I had time, weeks even.
But if I didn’t kill Cree, my handler could choose to end me.
It was as simple as that.
Staring into Cree’s wise old eyes, I made a decision.
I turned my back.
“How peculiar,” he murmured.
I didn’t stop.