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Across the warehouse, Venatora’s head popped into view. Several of her guardswomen hissed for her to get back under cover. She ignored them.
“You didn’t answer my question,” she said. “Are you the poor soldier who somehow managed to scrape together a hundred grand for a wager?”
“Guilty as charged, my lady,” Sten replied.
“Do you suppose you’re up for another bet?” Venatora asked.
“Depends on the stakes,” Sten said.
“How about your life?” Venatora said.
“Are you offering odds?” Sten asked.
“I might,” Venatora said. “How are your powers of persuasion, Lieutenant?”
“Let’s find out,” Sten said.
And with that, he rose from cover. An AM2 round buzzed past his ear. Sten didn’t flinch.
“Get down,” Mk’wolf,” hissed. “She’ll kill you.”
Instead, Sten stepped from behind the barrier. “Here I am Venatora,” he said. “Come out the rest of the way and we’ll talk.”
He scanned the far corner of the warehouse. Venatora had vanished. He saw a flash of metal. Then a spark. Another AM2 round buzzed by. Then he heard a loud smack. Flesh upon flesh.
A moment later, Venatora moved into view.
Just the sight of her struck him like a hard, breath-robbing blow. Like her guardswomen, Venatora’s attire was minimal. A small, black halter top. Black modesty patch where her thighs joined. Black metal bands circling her wrists and biceps. Her figure was lush, ebony skin glowing in the harsh overhead lights.
There was something so primal about her it was all he could do to keep from rushing over to embrace her.
Almost as if hypnotized, he took a step forward. Then another.
“Sten!” Kilgour barked.
With great difficulty, he stopped.
Venatora watched Sten’s struggle, mildly surprised at her own reaction. She wasn’t displeased that he could resist her. In fact, she felt the thrill of challenge.
She increased her powers. Pheromones flowing from the special glands that were both her gift and her curse. Behind her she heard low moans of lust from her women, who were similarly affected.
Sten took another step forward. Then another. She was almost disappointed at this small victory. Even so, she increased her powers.
Then – to her delight - he stopped. She could tell that it was with great difficulty. But just the same he had the will to defy her siren musk.
She called out: “What do you want, Lieutenant?”
His reply was husky. Voice cracking. “You know.”
She chuckled. “What are you offering?”
Sten shook his head. Helpless to answer. She thrilled when she saw him lift a foot, as if to take another step. To her dismay, he moved back. Just one step.
But that small bit of defiance shook her.
She started to get angry.
“I could kill you,” she said.
“I know,” Sten said.
She increased her powers. Saw him quiver. Knew she almost had him. Then, to her amazement, he took one more step back.
“Wait!” she cried. Her voice a little shaky.
Sten came to halt.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“You know,” he said again.
Sten laughed. It wasn’t a forced laugh. But lusty. From the belly.
“For what I have in mind,” he said, “life would be the minimum requirement.”
Now it was Venatora’s turn to laugh. “You’re expecting a great deal,” she said. “What would I have to gain?”
“Oh, I think you know,” Sten said.
This time the sound of his voice thrilled her. She felt heat in her loins. She steeled herself. How was it that this… this… human… could affect her so?
She grew angry. “You killed my sisters,” she said. “I could never forgive that.”
“They attacked us,” Sten said.
“They were just going to detain you,” Venatora said. “They had strict orders not to harm you.”
“How was I to know?” Sten said. “You should have come yourself.”
Venatora snorted derision. “I suppose you’d let me take you captive.”
Sten shrugged. “We could have discussed it,” he said.
“It’s too late now,” Venatora said. “Three of my people – my sisters - are dead.”
Sten raised a hand, displaying two fingers. “Two,” he said. “Not three.” He paused, then added. “Would it help if I said I regretted those two?”
Venatora didn’t reply.
Sten turned his head. She heard him say, “Bring her out.”
With a start, she saw the lieutenant's heavy worlder friend lead one of her women out. Her heart jumped.
It was Marta, by God!
The sergeant handed Marta over to Sten. She almost fell, but Sten steadied her, bearing her weight.
“She’s hurt,” Sten said. “We gave her medical attention, but she needs more.”
“Bring her to me,” Venatora said.
“Can we meet in the middle?” Sten asked. “If only to please my own people?”
Venatora hesitated, then nodded. “Very well,” she said. “We’ll declare a truce.”
“Truce it is, then,” Sten said. And started moving slowly forward, helping Marta along.
Venatora moved forward to meet him.
As she came closer the atmosphere around her seemed to crackle with the sheer life force that was Venatora.
Sten’s scalp prickled and the hair on the back of his neck rose. He felt feverish, his mouth became dry, his throat thick. He felt drawn to her like a powerful magnet.
The closer she came, the stronger the pull. And he had a sense that the attraction was as great for her. That she was being drawn to him by a mysterious force.
But then, when she was few meters away, she suddenly stopped. Sten almost groaned aloud. He could see that she was shaken as well.
Perspiration trickled down one perfect cheek.
They stood there in silence for a long time.
Finally, Venatora spoke, voice thick. “Who are you?”
“I told you. Sten. Lieutenant Sten.”
“No. Really. Who are you?”
Sten shrugged. He had no other answer.
“One of my fathers said something like this might happen one day,” Venatora said.
“What might happen?”
Venatora motioned, delicate hand indicating the two of them.
Sten wondered what she meant by “one of my fathers.” How many fathers could she have? But he said nothing.
“He said if it did, I should kill you without delay,” Venatora added.
“I’m glad you didn’t take his advice,” Sten said.
Venatora shrugged. “There’s still time,” she said.
Another long silence. Sten could almost see the wheels turning in Venatora’s head.
With great force of will she made her decision.
“I’m here for Marta, she said.”
Sten sighed. “So you are,” he said.
He moved away from Marta, who wavered, then took a step forward. Sten gently pushed at the small of her back. She took another, then another, and then collapsed at Venatora’s feet.
“Here, let me help,” Sten said.
But Venatora raised a hand, stopping him. She signaled and two women ran forward, collected Marta, and carried her away.
Sten and Venatora were alone again. They looked each over. Hungrily.
And then Sten saw resolve firm in Venatora’s eyes.
“Goodbye, Lieutenant Sten,” she said and started away.
“What about next time?” Sten called after her. “What will you do then?”
Venatora paused, looking back at him over shoulder. Sten thought he had never seen a woman so woman so beautiful – so desirable.
“Kill you,” she said.
NEXT: THE PIRATE QUEEN
THE TIMURA TRILOGY: When The Gods Slept, Wolves Of The Gods and The Gods Awaken. This best selling fantasy series now available as trade paperbacks, e-books (in all varieties) and as audiobooks. Visit The Timura Trilogy page for links to all the editions.
Tales Sometimes Tall, but always true, of Allan Cole's years in Hollywood with his late partner, Chris Bunch. How a naked lady almost became our first agent. How we survived La-La Land with only the loss of half our brain cells. How Bunch & Cole became the ultimate Fix-It Boys. How an alleged Mafia Don was very, very good to us. The guy who cornered the market on movie rocks. Andy Warhol's Fire Extinguisher. The Real Stars Of Hollywood. Why they don't make million dollar movies. See The Seven Pi$$ing Dwarfs. Learn: how to kill a "difficult" actor… And much, much more.
Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:
A NATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF: In Book Three Of The Shannon Trilogy, young Patrick Shannon is the heir-apparent to the Shannon fortune, but murder and betrayal at a family gathering send him fleeing into the American frontier, with only the last words of a wise old woman to arm him against what would come. And when the outbreak of the Civil War comes he finds himself fighting on the opposite side of those he loves the most. In The Wars Of The Shannons we see the conflict, both on the battlefield and the homefront, through the eyes of Patrick and the members of his extended Irish-American family as they struggle to survive the conflict that ripped the new nation apart, and yet, offered a dim beacon of hope.
LUCKY IN CYPRUS:
A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, And Earthquake,
Some Terrorists And The CIA
LUCKY IN CYPRUS is a coming-of-age story set in the Middle East during the height of the Cold War. An American teenager – son of a CIA operative – is inspired by grand events and a Greek Cypriot teacher.
He witnesses earthquakes and riots and terrorist attacks, but in the end it is his teacher’s gentle lessons that keep him whole.
Here's where to get the paperback & Kindle editions worldwide:
Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
- "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
- "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus.
- "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke, Bookloons.com
NEW: THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF
THE HATE PARALLAX
THE HATE PARALLAX: What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)
THE SPYMASTER'S DAUGHTER:
A novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan
After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm ravaged night.
BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization.
TALES OF THE BLUE MEANIE
NOW AN AUDIOBOOK!
Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is "The Blue Meanie," a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself.