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Dread Lord Delgen thinks I’m his space order bride, a rich Earthen socialite whose credits will save his people. Only I’m not—I’m the imposter sent to kill him.


Which should be easy, since he’s a scary bloodsucking warrior hiding the truth about my sister’s death. It’s not easy to keep my distance—the matebond has taken us both. My will is wavering, but if I tell him the truth, will he kill me or let me go?


Even worse, will he keep me and marry his true bride instead?


His Enemy Wife is a steamy sci fi romance, 2nd in the Khuldun Warriors series. Enemies to lovers, fated mates, protective, growly warriors, Big Secrets, all the good stuff.

CHAPTER ONE*

*currently undergoing edits 😉

 

LIVIA

I stare out the porthole of Helixs’ Legacy as I wait for the next hyperspace jump. The stars form a glittering celestial tapestry, which I find beautiful to behold. If only the grim task ahead of me didn’t suck, I could maybe enjoy the view.

 

Legacy will drop me off at a Star Port on the fringes of Khuldunian space, where I will meet my betrothed. 

 

A man I’ve never met, a member of a species so terrifying my handlers had given me hypo syringes of a drug I can inject myself with to send me to a floaty place. Because not going through with this marriage isn’t an option, no matter how my skin crawled at the thought of blood and fangs and ancient Viking warriors.

 

Even if death wasn’t boring a hole in the back of my neck if I double crossed these people, my sister is depending on me.

I’ve signed a Blood Contract, and that isn’t the only agreement I’ve made. Best not to think about the other, because when I do, panic sets in.

 

No way back, have to go forward.

 

I turn away from the porthole and lay on my back, smoothing my fine, silken gown. I’m dolled up for the rendezvous with my ‘betrothed,’ the man I am intending to kill Dread Lord Delgen. I’m a simple type of woman. I like clothes that are comfortable, practical, and, if I can have all that and look cute, great. If not, I’ll err on the opposite side of fashion. 

 

The voluminous gown feels strange against my skin. I’m not used to such fine fabrics. It has a deep, almost black, crimson hue, with a stitched silver border featuring rhinestones set to catch and reflect the light like stars. The plunging neckline will be of great interest to the male gaze, though frankly I could have done without the corset. When I lay on my back, it’s hard to breathe.

 

But I’m shocked out of a fugue between boredom and anxiety by the klaxon sounding sharply through the intercom system. I sit bolt upright, the lights flashing red, a class three emergency. Either a hull breach, or…

 

An attack. I look out the porthole, eyes frantically scanning the star scape. My heart skips a beat when I see it; a jet-black Khuldunian Titan-class Destroyer—I’d made it my business to memorize their ships. A ship with enough firepower to destroy a dozen Legacy’s without even exhausting half its ordinance. 

 

I know what will come next. The Legacy will be tractor-beamed into position and then the Khuldunians would swarm aboard. The security forces on the Legacy might as well be children, so little chance do they have against the might of Khuldunian warriors.

 

My best bet, maybe my only chance, will be to hide. No one but my groom has any incentive to keep me alive and unharmed.

Why they are coming after us? Unease stirs. They can’t have discovered me. My cover identity has been blown, and now the Khuldunians—maybe even Delgen himself?—have come to collect their due.

 

That’s my worst nightmare, of course, but it’s not likely to have happened, at least not so soon in the game. But raiders, sure. So I need to hide, because I can’t afford to be taken by the wrong warrior.

 

I head out into the corridor, gathering my gown up in my hands so I won’t trip over it. The high-heeled shoes favored by rich women on Earth are hard to balance in, but I still manage a swift walk down to the engineering section. Stupid dress, stupider shoes. This gig already sucks loads, and you’d think I’d be able to handle stilettos when I was a star on the intergalactic roller derby circuit.

 

The Khuldunians will use a life-sign scanner when they board. By wedging myself behind one of the power manifolds, I can hopefully throw off the sensors enough that they won’t be able to detect me. It’s a slim hope, but you know what they say about slim hopes being better than none.

 

Only when I fully commit to my cramped, hot, hidey hole do I realize how dangerous it is. If an errant shot from the enemy vessel hit the plasma relays, the power manifold will explode in spectacular fashion. I know this stuff because my anxiety and paranoia forced me to learn all about What Could Go Wrong after I agreed to this mission.

Lots of Shit Could Go Wrong.

 

. . .lots.

 

Fortunately for me, there doesn’t seem to be an exchange of weapons fire. Legacy’s Captain does the smart thing and surrenders to the vastly superior craft without a fight, his voice coming over the ship intercom to inform crew and passengers. That doesn’t mean there’s no bloodshed. Warriors sweep down the corridors like the plague, moving in blur of preternatural speed.

 

Sucky damn vampires. Literally sucky, but also just sucky.

 

Many of the security personnel are cut down, whether they resist or not. I cower in my hidey hole, feeling sick to my stomach that I don’t lift a finger to help any of the crew, but I know my place. Outside the derby I’m a coward, thank you very much, the class of coward who knows which side of the bread is buttered. All I do is watch the ones who resist die, chewing on my thumbnail, and the ones who surrender join a growing herd of captives.

 

The Khuldunians herd their prisoners toward the main bridge of the Legacy

 

I cringe when a hulking Warbringer moves down the corridor, using a handheld bio scanner to sweep the hall. There is nothing I can do but ball myself up and try not to tremble. I am afraid to even breathe, that the sound of my heartbeat will alert the alien to my presence.

 

He passes me and I almost faint with relief. The Warbringer takes another few steps and then stops, squinting at the scanner in his hands.

 

Oh, no, I think, praying he doesn’t turn around. To my chagrin, he turns around. Like, of course he does. His eyes scan the area behind the bulkheads, seeming to flash like jewels in the semi-darkness of the emergency lighting. 

 

He stops right beside my hidey hole, lips peeling back in a snarl. I can see the powerful muscles around his mouth and jaw. This creature could rip my throat out without breaking a sweat. 

 

“We can do this the easy way.” His voice is grating as sandpaper. “Or the interesting way. I prefer interesting.”

 

Yeah, I don’t. I’m pretty sure his version of interesting is my version of blood and gore and death if I don’t surrender.

 

Sucks sucks sucks.

 

His hand darts into my dark hidey hole like a striking snake. I cry out in terror, and the combat program downloaded kicks in. I bring my elbow down on top of his wrist. I hardly hit him hard enough to do actual damage, but Khuldunians have a nerve cluster in that spot. 

 

He withdraws his hand, hissing in irritation. I leap out of the hidey hole and run.

 

I hear him cursing behind me as I run my legs off down the corridor, cursing the corset—and these heels—the whole way. It restricts my movements and breathing. I’m desperate, ready to try for an escape pod or something equally ridiculous. I skid around the corner, doing my jammer days proud—

 

And run face first into the hulking back of another warrior. I fall backward, sprawling onto my bottom, heels of my hands hitting hard on the steel deck plating.

 

I look up into the visage of a Warbringer, class X from what I saw. His braid is almost as long as I am tall and shades of gold. I can’t make out his features, as they remain hidden behind a helm formed to look like a savage beast I’ve never seen before.

“Who are you?” His voice comes hollow and metallic from inside the helm.

 

I shiver when I realize that this is not just any Khuldunian warrior. One of the cars courses I’d taken was in recognizing the insignia on their armor—which evidently they didn’t bother with on their planet—and this man had to be none other than a Dread Lord.

 

Which meant these weren’t simple raiders. 

 

Do I tell him who I’m Contracted to, or will that make my situation worse? I freeze with indecision. Really, thinking quickly outside the rink is overrated.

 

“She must be the spy, Khanam,” the Khuldunian I’d escaped says, sweeping into a deep bow. “I found her hiding.”

That releases the vise on my throat. “Execute?”

 

My voice goes up an octave. Nothing to lose now, if we’re talking execution.

 

“Slow your roll there. I think there’s been a huge misunderstanding here. I’m Livia Dumas. I’m Contracted to Dread Lord Delgen, and he’d be pissed about any mention of executing.”

 

I wave my hands around in emphasis, ignoring that fact that I’m still crumpled on my ass at the impassive Warbringer’s feet.

The Khuldunian looms over me for a long moment. As our eyes meet through the slit in his helm, a chill runs down my spine. If he decides I’m an imposter and a spy—ha!Which I totally am—he won’t hesitate to kill me. No chivalry in their culture, man. No such thing as the weaker sex.

 

I’m in danger.

 

He reaches up and grasps the base of his mask, ripping it away from his face and I gasp, recognizing his face.

 

“Wh—what?” I stammer.

 

Dread Lord Delgen, my future hubby, reaches down and grabs my upper arm, pulling me to my feet. He flings me against the wall, his hand wrapping around my throat. I bite my lip as he roughly turns my face from side to side as if inspecting a piece of meat at the butcher’s block.

 

“Livia Dumas. I did not recognize you.”

 

Bad. That was bad. My handlers had done what they could with my face with the time they’d had allowed for me to heal, but. . .

“It’s me,” I say hastily. “I have all the paperwork and everything.” I smile weakly. “Hi. Nice to. . .uh. . .meet you? Future husband person?”

 

His eyes are gold and green pools, a swirling lagoon, the gold quickly overtaking the green. I could drown in them.

 

“Young, but seasoned. Strong, healthy…” he assesses my attributes clinically. “I think perhaps I might grow accustomed to the taste, but there’s only one way to be sure…”

 

I whimper and squirm in his grasp, but his grip around my neck only tightens. This was the part I was dreading. The part I was told I had to endure to cement the deal. I felt beads of moisture dot my forehead, my breath coming shallow.

 

I can do this. It sucked majorly, but I could do this. People were depending on me to not wuss out because of a little fang and blood.

 

“Be still. Put your hands at your sides.”

 

I hadn’t realized I’d grabbed his wrist with both of my hands. Not that I’m going to do much against his strength. I let go, lowering my hands to my sides, realizing I don’t stand a chance against the Dread Lord. All I can do is hope for mercy. A hope which will likely be crushed under his heel.

 

His nostrils flare, and his eyes snap open wide. Suddenly they flash with a gold light akin to that of a deep-sea predator. His fangs appear, extruding to business length.

 

“Livia Dumas. . .” he muses.

 

Oh, man, I’m done for. He’s discovered who I really am and now I am dead. I choke off a scream, figuring I’ve gotten what I deserve for becoming a hired assassin…

 

Suddenly he withdraws, his fangs retreating. His thumb brushes my lip with deceptive gentleness. There’s none in his cold golden eyes.

 

“You’re hurt.”

 

No shit. I taste the iron tang of my own blood.

 

“Take her to her quarters,” Delgen says, thrusting me off to his minions. I could faint with relief. Ot I could just faint. Both options sound great right now. Let him do what he wants with my neck when I’m unconscious. Really. I prefer unconscious.

At least my cover is intact. Maybe these guys aren’t as sophisticated as I’d thought? I’ve passed the first hurdle. . .he actually believes I’m Livia Dumas. A freaking socialite and stellar beauty, heiress to a fortune worth more than my life and the lives of like five generations of my descendants, if I have them.

 

I grin, giddy with relief. I love stupid guys. Stupid guys are the best.

 

They escort me off the ship and I forget to wonder why they made the grand entrance the way they did—something about looking for spies, right?—and hustle me to a medward. I skip along, just so freaking happy I got through my first meeting without having my throat ripped out by a hangry vampire viking warrior.

 

The medic treats my pathetic bruises, then nods to Delgen, who’d walked in. Delgen grabs me and pulls me along like I don’t have feet I can use to walk.

 

“Where are you taking me?” I dare to ask, my happy cloud evaporating.

 

“To my quarters. Once your identity is confirmed, I’ll welcome you as my Blood Consort. If it does not, then I will drain you of every last drop of your blood and throw your carcass out an airlock.”

 

I clear my throat. “May I ask why you doubt my identity?”

 

“Standard procedure,” he says curtly. “Unless you’re a spy, you have nothing to fear.”

 

“There’s that word again,” I squeak, then clear my throat. “Of course I’m not a spy! I’m your fiancee. I have all the documents to prove it. Which you will shortly see.”

 

“Then you have nothing to fear.” He stops, and turns to me. “But you are afraid. I wonder why?”

 

I let my mouth drop open. “Hello? Vampire Viking dude? Who wouldn’t be scarred?”

 

He tilts his head. “I thought you would be more. . .refined.”

 

Oh, sucks. I think fast. “I get that a lot.” I place a hand on my hip, lifting my chin with a sniff. “I’m a disappointment to my father. Which is why he sold me to the highest bidder.”

 

“I was not the highest bidder.”

 

I snort. “But you are the farthest away.”

 

“True.” With another piercing look, he turns and begins dragging me down the corridor once more.

 

At least he’s consistent.

KHULDUN WARRIORS