A’yen’s Legacy, Book Two
by Rachel Leigh Smith
Freedom has a cost. Can A’yen pay it without losing his soul?
Liberation of the enslaved Lokmane begins with the king. A’yen and Fae agree to visit the Hidden, a group of escaped Lokmane, to protect his identity while the Shadows make their move with emancipation acts. But he’s not prepared for the prejudice rampant in the Hidden, or their lack of patience for him. And his new linked bodyguard is unstable to the point A’yen fears for the young man’s sanity.
Upon returning to Titan, A’yen is kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. This time he’ll be himself even if it kills him. His resolve to unite his people grows as he wonders if he’ll live long enough to do it.
With A’yen kidnapped, Fae returns to the Lokmane homeworld seeking the final pieces of what happened two thousand years ago when they were conquered and enslaved. Getting as far away from her father as possible is the only way to keep her from disappearing too.
Separated by light years, A’yen and Fae have to stand alone and fight for their right to live in freedom. No matter the cost.
Fae turned by degrees to face him. She tried to glare at him, but eyes reflecting unshed tears said she’d never been more thankful to see him. More fingers of warmth moved through his body. He went to her, folded her in his arms, stared at Benai Hart. She pressed into the safety of his embrace, her trembling forcing the pain to the back of his mind.
“Do you not know who I am?”
“I do. I bow to no one.”
Hart came forward two steps. Fae let go, turned to face her father, and held her hand up. “Don’t you dare. One thing you do understand is property rights and I forbid you to touch what belongs to me.”
A’yen grit his teeth to keep his mouth shut. Being referred to as property didn’t sit well. Brought his hackles up, in fact. She was right, though. Hart understood him only as property. Never as a person. One touch from Hart and he’d be a heap on the floor, totally helpless.
“What belongs to you?” Hart laughed, a bitter sound devoid of mirth. “We both know he cost more than your yearly salary.”
“I didn’t use one cent from you. It all came out of my inheritance from Mom. Tomorrow will be thirty days since we were in the registry office signing the binding papers. Not even you can undo it.” Her voice picked up strength as she talked and the trembling dissipated.
Hart’s right arm went up, the back of his hand poised to strike. A’yen reached out, grabbed his wrist, and squeezed the pressure points. “Don’t you dare.”
He didn’t have the strength to keep the pressure even and Hart jerked his hand free. “If you ever touch me again I’ll make you wish you were dead.”
“I am not afraid of you.”
Hart stood toe-to-toe with Fae, looking past her as if she didn’t exist. “You should be.”
A’yen shook his head. “You’re the one who should be afraid. Now, if you insist on staying, you will be civil to your daughter, or you’re the one whose mind will get messed with.”
It was Hart’s turn to shake his head as he stepped back, eyes hardening. “I underestimated you.”
“Most humans do.”
“Do not underestimate me.” Hart pointed in A’yen’s face.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” The warmth receded for a moment. He gripped Fae’s waist, leaning his chest against her back to keep from collapsing. The warmth returned and he straightened again.
Hart’s eyes widened for a moment then a mask of neutrality slid across his face. “I’ll give you some time to think about what I said, Farran.” He brushed past them. The door banged shut behind him.
A’yen let go of Fae and sank to the floor, managing to catch himself on the edge of the couch and rest his head on the cushions. Fae knelt, threaded her fingers through his, stroked the side of his face with her other hand. “How did you make it in here?”
“I have no idea.”
The door opened and shut again. A’yen lifted his head to find Pete in the doorway. “How the hell did you get all the way in here?”
He let his head fall. The warmth slipped out of him and the fire roared through exhausted muscles. A groan slid out. Fae’s lips brushed his temple. “Yet to be determined.”
The couch moved as Pete sat on it. “Na’var called as I was getting ready to leave and said to hightail it back because Hart was here. Was that him leaving?”
“Yeah. Things were calm for a couple hours, and he asked all the dutiful questions of someone feigning interest. Then he started getting mad because A’yen was here and…” She sucked in a shuddering breath.
A’yen ignored the pain as best he could, and pulled her into his arms again. “I don’t think he was feigning interest. He really wants to know how much we found.”
Pete nodded. “You didn’t say anything to tip your hand, did you?”
“I don’t think so. He’s not stupid though. Eventually they will figure it out.”
Fae shuddered in his arms and he pillowed his cheek on the top of her head. “If he does, he’ll kill you.”
Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging…
She’s a member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America. She blogs sporadically at www.rachelleighsmith.com, hangs out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RachelLeighSmithAuthor, and can sometimes be found at http://twitter.com/rachelleighgeek. You can sign up for her newsletter here.