In the year 2078, Cross Step, Kansas, is now home to strange portals called Voids. Norms (normal people), Voiders (those who came through the Voids) and Conduits (humans affected by the Voids) all live together, segregated from the rest of the world. Vicki is a Conduit, a human with the psychic ability to tap into the energy around her. A mistake at a bar puts her under the scrutiny of one very hungry Ravager pack, werewolf-like Voiders who like what they see. Eric isn't just any Ravager, he's Prime, the king of his clan. He takes what he wants, when he wants it-and he wants Vicki. It'll take more than her sneaking, conniving and seductive ways to dissuade his interest. Because in Vicki, Eric and his packmates have something much more precious than a rare queen…they have a woman to love forever. Reader Advisory: This book features totally hot scenes of foursomes and fivesomes, during which Vicki experiences oodles of orgasms courtesy of her red-hot Ravager lovers.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing Inc.
November 13, 2009
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from Namesake by Marie Harte
Victoria Fox deflected the blow aimed at her throat and returned a punch to her attacker's solar plexus. The other woman sucked wind and went down on one knee. Not even pretending to play nice, Vicki kicked her in the face with a low-heeled boot and followed up with another kick to her gut.
The pounding techno beat in Rock Hall, Cross Step's most popular nightclub, echoed Vicki's racing pulse. Several people around her broke into applause, conceding her win, and exchanged money. An atmosphere of lawlessness pervaded the place, as evidenced by the other fights encouraged throughout the bar and the free-flowing booze and drugs. The place smelled like stale alcohol, sweat and nerves. She wanted to get the job done and leave. Period.
"Hurry the hell up, Vic." A towering male loomed over her and snarled, "He's in the back. We don't have all night."
Vicki glared at her cousin. "I'm not exactly partying here, Sean. This bitch attacked me."
"Whatever. Come on. It's only a matter of time before the cops show. We need their hassle even less than the new government wackos tagging Voiders."
"Who cares about government wackos?" Vicki knelt and ran her hands over the groaning woman on the floor. She found a dagger hidden beneath the woman's jacket and hid it between the cushions of a nearby booth. "We're not Voiders."
Sean snorted. "Like anyone's going to take the time to check after one look at you."
Vicki joined Sean as they threaded their way through the crowd who'd stopped to watch Vicki and one of Tommy Chen's girls duke it out. "Oh? And you're not my mirror image, but uglier?"
He flipped her off and shoved aside the congratulatory idiots angling for an introduction.
Admittedly, Sean had a point. Over the years since the Voids arrived, eye color in the Morely family had changed from anything resembling that of a Norm--a "normal" human. Starting with her great-grandmother, for whom she'd been named, each generation of Morelys looked more and more alien. Like Sean, Vicki possessed amber eyes so light they looked almost yellow. In the darkness, the damn things glowed. Not normal, not at all.
Then again, what the hell is normal in this freakish city? The nightclub had as many Voiders in it as Norms, much like the city. Cross Step, Kansas, now consisted of Voiders, Norms, and Conduits--people like her and Sean.
Conduits were humans affected by the Voids. Vicki often wondered if there wasn't more to her family's odd history than those gaping black portals, which had appeared out of nowhere over a hundred years ago. Two stories high and half as wide, the black portals were ringed with an eerie blue light. As far back as Great-Granny Victoria, the Morelys had possessed strange psychic abilities and a connection to the universal doorways, which didn't make much sense, since no one--not even the Voiders--could step too near the Voids without getting violently shocked.
"He's back there." Sean pointed toward a locked door guarded by a gorilla of a man. Teddy, his nametag said. "Do your stuff."
Vicki huffed with irritation and moved in for the kill. She stopped a few feet from the bouncer guarding Tommy Chen's inner sanctum. He lost his look of boredom and focused on her with blatant interest.
"Teddy? Not Bear, Bruiser or Handsome?" Vicki asked with a flirtatious smile as they approached. She shrugged, which lifted her shirt and exposed more of her navel than her low-riding jeans and belly-shirt allowed. Predictably, Teddy zeroed in on her belly button before shifting his gaze to her breasts showcased by the red, too-small top Sean had encouraged her to wear.
Told you, her cousin's look seemed to say.
"You're in." Teddy nodded at her. "You're not," he said to Sean.
"No problem. Just walking my cousin to the door. You take care of her for me, okay?" Sean held out a hand.
Though suspicious, Teddy took it. Sucker.
Vicki watched with appreciation as Sean put Teddy down in one punch. "Not bad."
"Better than you with Trampzilla back there." Laughter crinkled Sean's eyes. "No doubt word's reached Tommy that you trounced one of his chicks. Three to one says he picks you to fight next."
"No way. We couldn't be that lucky."
They'd been after Tommy Chen for months. The sly Voider always managed to elude them. His illegal fights were the talk of the town and the place to be if a Voider wanted to network. Rumor had it more criminal associations started in places like these than in the alleyways and deserted warehouses around town. The local police force--the Salinas--were running ragged. Seemed as if every night a new group of organized thugs sprang up out of nowhere.
Sean dragged Teddy to the electronic lock, and Vicki tugged Teddy's thumb to the print pad. When the metal door snicked, Sean shoved Teddy aside. He pushed the door open and they calmly walked through just before Sean shut the door behind them. Walking past the inner guards on either side of the door, he preceded Vicki into a room full of brawling Voiders and criminal-class Norms.
"I used to have a life outside of otherworld freaks. Tell me again why we agreed to do this," she murmured into Sean's ear when he bent down to hear her over the shouts and ongoing betting. She spied four fighting platforms, three of which were currently occupied.
"Because it's our job? Because S&V Retrievals is the best? Because we just cleared a ton of money to take a certain you-know-what from you-know-who?"
"Could you be more cryptic?"
"I could, but we need to focus here. Now quit the attitude. Even if we weren't working on a Friday night you still wouldn't be doing anything. So don't be pissy with me because you can't get a date."
She glared. "Look, Romeo. Just because I don't get it on with everything in pants doesn't mean--"
"Your last date was more than six months ago. Talk about a dry spell. Hel-lo, Sahara." Sean chuckled until she slugged him in the arm. "Ow. All right, I'll lay off. Keep to the plan. I'll distract his people while you move in. Do what you have to, grab the ring, and we're out of here. Just make sure he forgets who took it."
"Sure thing. Easy." Vicki huffed. "How the hell am I going to rip that rock off his finger if his tongue's down my throat?"
"I didn't tell you to sex him up. Just distract him. Bad enough you're wearing that getup."
"You told me to wear something, and I quote, 'provocative'. Hell, I didn't think you knew any words longer than two syllables."
He tugged her along after him. "Funny. Look, just work your mojo, knock him out and grab the ring. Give me the signal when you're done. This place makes me edgy." Sean stopped as if on alert.
She mentally reached out and felt him using his own "mojo". "There he is."
One man sat in a plush chair on a raised dais with his back to the rest of the room. Surrounded by shifty-looking individuals, he fit right in wearing a ripped, sleeveless t-shirt and grunge jeans. But the clothes couldn't camouflage his power. A tall, muscular Asian in his mid- to late thirties, Tommy Chen practically owned the underground sector of Cross Step. Shaggy black hair, an arresting face somewhat obscured by a pair of dark sunglasses and intricate tattoos covering both his forearms lent Chen a dangerous first impression.
According to one of their contacts, the tattoos could take on a life of their own. A definite oddity even in the world of Voiders.
As she stared at him across the loud, crowded room, Vicki had the sense he stared right back at her, but she couldn't be sure. Unlike her namesake, Vicki couldn't tell the future or read minds. Her talent, like Sean's, was much more visceral in nature.
A large, bruised hand settled on her shoulder. "Okay, Vicki. You're next."
Who is this schmuck, and how does he know my name?
"Dammit," Sean swore. It took three guys bigger than the giant next to her to pull her cousin away.
"I'll be fine," she yelled over her shoulder as she was led to Tommy Chen.
Their target. Finally.
Except Chen didn't let her get close enough to touch him. The guard pulled her to within a few feet of him before Chen held up a hand. On his pinkie finger sat the thin black band she'd been hired to retrieve.
"Lovely form, Victoria. And such pretty eyes." He pushed back his shades. Tommy Chen had eyes as black as night and sexy as sin. Up close, he had more charisma and animal magnetism than she would have guessed from the many surveillance photos she'd seen of him. "Winner takes all, baby," he murmured.
Her pulse raced and her nipples tightened.
"What?" Down, girl. Focus on his ring.
Before she could ask him about that alluring scent he wore, the guard dragged her toward the empty stage and tossed her up onto it. She landed on her feet and waited, her fists clenched. The noise in the crowd subsided, and Vicki looked around her at Cross Step's ugly underbelly. What the hell have I gotten myself into?
Chen stood, silencing the room. "Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we have a real treat. Vicki Fox has decided to challenge my best girl, Mei Lin, to a match."
The crowd went wild. But where was Mei--
Mei Lin dropped out of nowhere to land a few inches to Vicki's right. Dodging the blow aimed at her face, Vicki fought back, wondering how the hell this grab-and-go assignment had turned into a no-holds-barred grudge match.
Thankfully, as fast as Mei Lin was, she couldn't meet Vicki's speed or agility. Instinctively drawing on Mei Lin's life-force, Vicki grew more powerful. A fighting spirit, her father liked to call her. A Conduit who absorbed energy through touch and heightened adrenaline--active combat. A freak of nature, like Sean.
Mei Lin kicked her in the stomach hard enough to crack a rib.
"That's it." Vicki knew her eyes glowed. Fierce passions tended to brighten her vision. With startling clarity, she saw every move Mei Lin intended to make before she made it. Irritated to be in the limelight, that her cousin had put her up to this, and that they still hadn't nabbed Chen's ring, Vicki took her hostility out on her adversary.
Minutes later, she stepped over Mei Lin's bruised but still-breathing body and jumped to the floor. No one stopped her.
"Congratulations, baby. You're my new best girl," Chen said with a chuckle.
Noise erupted in a cacophony of sound.
Chen reached for her even as she reached for him, which startled her.
Snagging her in an unforgiving embrace, Chen took her breath away in a punishing kiss. This man, responsible for half the crime in the city including murder, drug running and thievery, had his lips--and hands--all over her. Damnation, but the bulge prodding her belly felt huge.
Ignoring the disconcerting need to explore said bulge, Vicki twisted the energy snaking between them and caught Chen's forearms.
The flesh beneath her palms shifted with a life of its own, freaking her the hell out.
"Wh-what are you doing?" Chen asked, caught in the mire of power between them.
"I want your ring. Give it to me, baby, and I'm yours," she whispered and nibbled on his earlobe. "All fucking night long." She channeled a blast of his own sexual energy back at him, throwing him off balance.
He groaned and stumbled back, still clutching her, much to the amusement of his friends. To all outward appearances, Vicki and Chen were getting it on. As if she'd make it with an ?ber-criminal in front of this sleazy audience.
Chen pulled off his ring and shoved it into her front pocket, digging his fingers down toward her crotch. Annoyed because she liked the feel of him there, she mentally smacked herself upside the head. I am so getting laid when we finish this job.
Ripping herself from Chen, Vicki tried to catch her breath. Chen looked like a well-fed cat. His lids were shuttered as he stared at her, his shirt half open, revealing a smooth, muscular chest. The tattoos on his forearms writhed and hissed as he reached for her again.
Hissed? Time to go.
Chen shook his head and flexed his fingers, a puzzled look on his face. His eyes widened in understanding just as a commotion from the other side of the room drew his attention.
"Salinas!" someone yelled. Cops.
Sean suddenly appeared at her elbow and yanked her from Chen, but not before pounding a fist into Chen's belly.
Wishing she had done the same, Vicki ran with Sean and the other panicked occupants toward the far exit into the night.
"Were you going to fuck him or what?" Sean huffed with disgust.
"I got the ring. Gimme a break." I made out with Tommy Chen. Oh my God. I must be out of my freakin' mind.
More Salinas rounded the corner, what looked like a battalion of them.
"Shit. We need to split up. Keep the ring and go three streets over. I'll meet you at MacT's." Sean jerked them to a stop.
The jerk tore back down the street and slammed into three Salinas, taking them down. He waited to draw more of the cops' attention before running off in the opposite direction. Using the distraction, Vicki made several unplanned twists and turns to shake the Salinas still on her trail. Damn if she didn't also recognize a few of Chen's men getting closer.
Darting down a narrow side street, Vicki frantically looked for MacT's. Sean would have to suggest the one place she'd never been. Not that she came into this area much anyway, but in her zest to create a life for herself, she'd begun frequenting the clubs downtown. Twenty-seven, by anyone's standards, was too young to vow eternal celibacy. Vicki couldn't remember the last time she'd had sex with anyone other than her well-used vibrator. No wonder she'd wanted to hump Chen. He was a definite hottie, if one could overlook his psychotic, criminal tendencies.
Swearing under her breath at her stupidity, Vicki spotted what looked like a neon M when she heard footsteps growing closer.