Howdy everyone! I promised this week I’d fire an excerpt at you all. This excerpt is from Daryk Rogue, the second book in the Daryk World series at Ellora’s Cave. Enjoy!
Desperate to find out if her friends had lived, she stood on wobbly legs and noticed her boots and socks by the bed. Both were dry, so she put them on and moved slowly for the door. She opened it with difficulty and the hinges creaked. Stepping outside cautiously, she held on to the door as if it could keep her on her feet.
Several men moved about the deck. Suddenly a hairy man with enormous arms stalked toward Xandra. Impressions flew at her. Far over six feet, he had the bulk and brawn capable of hurting her easily. His nose looked half smashed, as if he’d grown a panatan root for a nose, all bumpy and bulbous. Lank, thin dark hair hung to his chest. A red bandana circled his neck. He wore a dirty white tunic and filthy black breaches. Watery green eyes held nothing but hostility.
She stepped back and bumped into the doorway.
“What are you doin’ out here, girly?” the man’s gravel-filled voice asked.
“I’m— Where am I?”
The big man stopped too close in front of her. “You’re on the Beast.”
His hand came up to touch her hair and she flinched. She threw her hand up in front of her, alarmed. “No.”
“No?” He laughed and touched her hair anyway, his eyes hot with an emotion she didn’t recognize. He smelled sweaty and her already unstable stomach lurched. “Girly, you don’t have the right to say no on this ship. You belong to us now.”
“I do not.” Anger twisted inside her, and she stiffened her spine. “I was on the Hydrasoseles. A passenger ship. She was destroyed by this huge wave—”
“We ’eard of the ship, little lady,” another man’s crackling voice said nearby. An older man with long gray hair and a wobbly gait strode up until he stood nearby. “Barely escaped that wave ourselves. A fierce storm, it was.” He winked. “But not as strong as the Beast.”
His hand made a waving motion that presented the craft. Enormous sails reached for the brilliant blue sky. The ship cruised through the water at a pace the Hydrasoseles couldn’t have managed, and the sheer size astonished her.
“Very nice, but I need to get back to Magonia,” she said.
Two other men watching the conversation dropped what they were doing and closed in, their eyes intent and curious, but not as overtly dangerous as the men in front of her. Still, she was encircled, and if she wanted to escape this crowd of stinky, awful men, she’d have to think of a defense soon. But where could she go to hide on a ship? What if Elian were nearby? Fear leaked through her bravado, but she shored up her bravery. She couldn’t crumble now. Perhaps a man would come along who would have some principles and decency. If she spotted a possibility, she’d peck him on the cheek, and that would keep these disgusting men away from her.
The gray-haired man’s small eyes scanned her with evil intent. “Magonia, eh? Now that’s a fine thing. You shouldn’t have told us that.”
She swallowed. “Why?”
“Why you’re our enemy, little lady.”
“Enemy—” She cut herself off as she realized what they meant. “Then you are a Dragonia ship?”
The bruiser glared at her and laughed. “We ain’t Dragonian. We don’t belong to no country. We’re on our own and better for it.”
“But that’s ridiculous. Every ship flies under the flag of Magonia or Dragonia.”
The men all laughed, and through their guffaws the bruiser leered. “Yeah, but we have our own country. The ocean is our home. Ain’t no need for dry land. A man is free here to do as he sees fit and not by another’s leave.”
“We don’t cotton to no man’s word except for the admiral’s,” another man said nearby.
He gestured to a flag that flew above the craft. It was solid black with no insignia.
Fear tingled along her spine and sent screams of alarm to every part of her body.
The old man laughed softly. “Maybe I should let this here rotter have a taste of you before I get my own.” He touched her hair and she flinched. “No harm in having a little play, is there? You Magonian women are as sweet as they come, I hear tell.”
Bruiser nodded emphatically. “I done had one not too long ago. She was from the Hydrasoseles too.”
Oh Magon. Had they hurt Ketera and Mia?
Panic stirred inside, but she refused to show it. Gulping down the tightness in her throat, she remembered what she’d learned from her friend Mia about defending herself. A swift kick to this hateful man’s bits and—
The old guy reached for her.
She took a step forward and brought her knee up with raw force. Her knee made contact with the old geezer’s manly parts and he screamed. He doubled up in pain and collapsed on the deck.
Sickness washed over her, a weakness that she’d never experienced before and that threatened to cut her legs out from under her. She tried to slip past the bruiser.
“Magonian bitch whore!” He grabbed her by the throat. His huge fist clenching around her throat with such force a fierce pain pierced her throat.
“Release her at once!” A deep and commanding voice, dark with anger, cut the air.
The bruiser didn’t, and she choked, grabbing the man’s forearm and digging in her nails. He didn’t budge. She kicked out, made contact with the man’s knees. He grunted but didn’t lose loosen his grip.
A dark shadow swiftly launched at the man. Through her fading vision she saw the shape bring a baton down on the man’s head. Bruiser released her and she gasped for much needed air as the big man yelled in pain and fell to the flooring. Coughing, she touched her throat gingerly.
Her vision cleared as the man who rescued her roared at the other men. “Farcam! Touch her again and I’ll cut off your cock and feed it to you.” He threw a deadly glanced at the old man. “Oscan, you’ve been warned before. Into the brig with you.” He gestured at the other men. “Get these bags of guts below and put them in chains.” Her rescuer said with deadly coldness to Farcam, “Admiral Aramus will have your hide for dinner.”
“Fuck you,” Farcam said, giving her rescuer a flash of a middle finger.
“Sorry, mate.” Her rescuer threw a disgusted look his way. “Not my type.”
The other men dragged Farcam and the old geezer away.
Her rescuer turned his gaze on her and his eyes stayed predatory, hungry almost as his gaze traveled her face and body with clear appreciation. “You, however, are.”
The man who’d saved her hooked his baton to his belt and walked toward her, his stride self-assured and as authoritative as his voice. His face was young, maybe thirty years, but there was a wealth of age imprinted in his eyes. Thick hair as inky as the night came to just above his shoulders. Danger and fierceness in his almost black eyes sent two spears of emotion through Xandra. Stark fear and unaccountable attraction. He stared at her as if he wanted to devour her. Or perhaps kill her.
She blinked, amazed at this new threat that stalked toward her. He was as big as the creature who had dared to touch her, but the difference between the men was marked. Her rescuer wore a sleeveless black tunic open down the front to reveal a muscular chest covered in a generous sprinkling of black hair. The tunic was cinched at the waist by a wide black belt. Black breeches curved over muscular thighs and calves. Black boots covered his feet and ended mid-calf. This new predator didn’t have a modicum of extra fat. He moved with grace, muscles rippling in his tanned arms.
Fear sizzled along her body. So this lug had saved her from the ugly man only to waylay her too?