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Gambit by Kim Knox
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Captain Chae Beyon is a hustler, a mercenary pilot, a wounded woman who prefers her men to be easily thrown aside.

Daned Traern is a first-caste Ladaian bound by tradition and DNA to protect his race. He's willing to align himself with the hot space captain if she'll transport him home in time to ensure the right candidate is crownedand thus prevent a bloody war.

Disguised as Chae's sex toy, Daned is erotically bound to her through living gold, alien tech designed to increase pleasure. When he frees himself, their passion only increases...but succumbing to temptation will bind them togetherpermanently.

But there's more at stake than their needs. As Chae is dragged into a world of insane princes and sentient stones, hired killers hound them across the quadrant.

And then, as only her lousy luck would have it, Chae must choose between the good of the galaxy and her own heart...

63,000 words
Carina Press; July 2013
ISBN 9781426897061
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: Gambit
Author: Kim Knox

The truth-crawler burrowed into her neck. Chae cursed, gritting her teeth against the bite and slice of its pincers. Clicks and whirrs filled the silent room as the crawler's synthetic leg joints worked its bulbous body under her skin. Chae stared up at the strip of light above her, focusing, denying the raw surge of pain. The things she did for money.

Her fingers curled into fists and she felt the two suits watching her endure the pain. She didn't turn her head to them, but let the light burn against her eyes. The deal they offered was too good to resist.

A friend had shoved her into this. Promised high stakes and the rumor of one wealthy and gullible mark slumming it in the northern cities. What he hadn't warned her about was being grabbed from the room, bundled into a transport and sight-wiped with fuck-knows-what.

The taste of sump oil still burned foul against her tongue. She'd come around with two suits introducing themselves as she lay force-strapped to a freezing metal table. So much for an aging and hideously rich lecher and his flesh-pet. Chae twisted and the straps dug hard into her flesh. Hell, she'd been strapped down before…but that had been a lot more fun.

The truth-crawler sealed itself under her skin. Chae crushed her eyes tight against the stab of its sting into tense muscle. The first rush of salt stung the tip of her tongue. She hated the nasty, synthetic truth-crawlers. The stream of venom from the innocuous little bug, one that looked so harmless when it sat on a client's palm, flowed too fast over her thoughts. She grimaced, loathing the lack of control that would grip her in a few short seconds.

She'd done this too often. Hell, she had enough of the creatures floating through her system to grow her own sting. She obviously didn't have a trustworthy face. She snorted. What runner did?

Chae turned her head and glared at the two men. Pain lanced and the crawler jabbed its sting deeper. A string of foulness escaped her. "You getting off on this?"

The first suit, Govan, stepped out of the shadows. He was the older of the two with a craggy, lived-in face. He'd lost the silks and garish body-ware. Yes, the stark black of a plain suit fitted his dour face. He frowned at her and the lines deepened. "This is necessary, Captain Beyon. More is at stake than your tolerance to pain. We have to make certain—"

"—that I can be trusted." Chae ached to press her hand to her mouth, to let her nails dig into her jaw and stop the flow of truth. Already the insane urge to spill her life story to these two strangers held her…because it was what they wanted. And she reallywanted to give them what they wanted. Especially the man who had acted as Govan's flesh-pet. Yes, he would prove a perfect distraction to her overactive urge to talk.

"Get me a shot of liquid sex and half an hour—no, an hour—with Daned there." Chae jerked her head to the other man still standing in the heavy shadows obscuring most of the secure room. She winced against the bite of the crawler, but carried on because they needed to know that she wanted him. They really did. "Are you typical Ladaian? Because, truthfully—" she couldn't help the grunt that broke from her, "—I've been stupid to avoid you. How much would it cost me for you to strip? Buck naked—"

"Captain Beyon!"

Govan's shocked shout only made her laugh. "Oh come on, old man. Don't tell me you didn't stare long and hardat him. Stripped, he was luscious—"

"You couldn't afford me." Daned's soft, deep voice pricked at her skin, and her nipples peaked. He stepped from the shadows. Tall, lean and holding a carved beauty that made her ache to lick him from head to toe, he watched her with unreadable eyes.