A man waiting to act... It's 2408. In Vonner's office at Bounty Hunters, Inc. John Doe is assigned his latest contract. She's hotter-than-hot Gaia Marlowe, wanted for the death of her husband, the heir to a political dynasty.
A woman on the run... Gaia once supported herself in the exotic sex clubs of Aboo Nine. Her path out only led her to the darker pleasures of the upper class. When her husband is murdered, she flees from her aristocratic life and becomes an underground Mistress.
Secrets they can't unlock alone! John could be governing a planet instead of battling bad guys across the known universe. Should he return to his home world or is it better off without war? Gaia has ties to his people, but John needs to bring her in so he can pay his debts. The problem is, Gaia knows the truth about the man called John Doe and she isn't going down without a fight.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Recreating John Doe by Anh Leod
"What's your name?" The acid female voice came from the doorway and slithered up his spine, making his neck muscles tense.
So much for that nap. "I've been bad."
He flinched as the sound of a crop rent the air. "That's not what I asked."
His throat was suddenly dry, making it hard to force the word out. "Sorry. John."
"I haven't met a John before. It's not a common name."
"You from around here, John?"
"No. I'm from Earth."
"I see." A wicked edge entered her voice. He was certain she was familiar to him. But from where?
"I asked for a paddling," he said, hoping she wasn't going to use that crop on him.
"You're making demands on me?"
"Yes, ummm, Ma'am."
"You've been bad," she continued harshly. "You said you needed to purify your thoughts."
"Yes, I did say that."
"Where have you heard that phrase before?"
Had he given himself away by using the phrase? Shit, he was supposed to be from Earth.
She was behind him now. He shivered as he felt the edge of her crop trail gently down his back. "I've never heard it except from an Aboolan native. We do a lot of purification here at Draco's."
"Worked here long?" he asked, changing the subject.
He heard a crack on the wood, next to his right ear. His body tried to jerk away but was held fast.
"I ask the questions. What's a bounty hunter doing here?"
Shit. "I'm looking for information. I was told to use the phrase."
His head was pounding now as dehydration and exhaustion took its toll. "A source."
She pulled his head up by grasping through the hood to the roots of his hair, dug a long-nailed finger underneath. "You're crying."
He gritted his teeth. No, he wasn't. "You've got me by the short ones. One set of them at least."
She dropped his head back to the synthwood. He felt his cheek clunk against the hard surface and wondered if he'd bruise. "Do you like pain, John? You must get hurt a lot in your business."
"I can take it."
"Yes, I can see you're strong," she murmured. "How did you get those muscles?"
He shook his head. "I'm not here to be interrogated. Name, rank and serial number. That's all you need."
"That's an old phrase."
He smiled against the synthwood. "I said I was from Earth."
"I don't believe you but it doesn't matter to me, does it."
"It matters to me," he muttered.
"I'll give you the paddling you so richly deserve, John, under one condition."
With a sinking feeling, he knew what that promise was going to be. He was striking out again when he needed to get Gaia's location.
"Now, John," the dominatrix said silkily into his ear. "Don't tell me you'd refuse your mistress a promise."
"You aren't my mistress," he said. "I told you, I'm not into that shit. I just wanted to purify myself."
"Schoolmistress, then," she murmured.
John remembered a scene from his childhood. He was bent over someone's lap. They wore green trousers in some scratchy fabric. He felt it, a paddle on his behind. You must be purified, he heard. Who was saying it? One of his teachers.
"Yes, schoolmistress," he said. "Tell me more."
"You must be purified," said the voice in his ear.
"Yes, Mistress," he said. He heard a further echo in his head and said, "Thank you, Mistress."
"Now, you're going to make me that promise, John."
He shook his head. This was so strange. Normally he blocked his childhood, his memories but here they came flooding back.
"That's not a promise." She spoke louder.
"Mistress?" He felt an overwhelming sorrow, knowing he must leave but not wanting to. The contract was the important thing.
"You're going to leave Nine, this planet, this system and never came back." The slight shake in her voice began to pull him from his mental space but he fought it hard. So close.
"You must promise."
His eyes hurt. Once, he had fought to stay here, staring at the pools of blood surrounding his brother and mother. Now he fought to stay away, to keep the eyes of the junta, the Amalgamation away from those who silently fought to overthrow them.
"You have to leave," she intoned. "Forever."
Light flashed behind John's eyes. He gasped. "No. I control my own destiny."
"Then you won't receive your punishment," said a voice, now soft, concerned.
"To hell with your punishment." He heard scraping sounds as he moved his arms and felt the bonds holding him release. Buried under an emotional avalanche, he didn't think to hold himself up and collapsed against the birching pony. He bounced his head hard as he fell sideways, then felt the cold floor underneath him. His head hit last, hard again and everything went black.
When he returned to consciousness, the first thing he felt was hair brushing his cheek, irritating the sore skin there. He reached up, pushing it out of his face, then passed out again.