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Her voice is known throughout the galaxy; her face is completely unknown.
Fleeing her monstrous husband back on puritanical Earth and the police assassins he’s hired, singer Mella Archer becomes stranded on the frontier planet of Nexus. Desperate to survive, she picks the wrong target–Dain, the head of planetary security.
Dain is amused by the attempted theft, and when Mella is sentenced to serve time indentured as a bedroom slave, he buys her contract. As he introduces the repressed Earther to the pleasures of sex with a dominating warrior, he slowly comes to realize that the little thief has stolen his heart.
When the monster arrives on Nexus and has lunch with Dain, Mella is panic-stricken. Her owner must be part of the conspiracy to kill her, and it will only be a matter of time before the monster discovers that she’s still alive. She attempts to escape. She fails. Embittered by her lies and mistrust, Dain returns her to Indenture Hall to be sold again.
Now the monster has found her. And she has nowhere left to run…
PRAISE FOR THIS SERIES
"This is one that will be read again and again and I hope there is more about Nexus in the future." ~ Golden Blush award ~ Amazon Nymph from Literary Nymphs Reviews
"I absolutely love the contemporary works of Cherise Sinclair. This is a sub-genre that I don’t usually prefer, but for this auto-buy author, I’d give it a shot. The Starlite Rite surpassed each and every hope I ever had about this story.
The suspense was enough to keep me turning page after page, going to sleep long after I should have and rushing to finish the story as soon as I had a break the following morning. In short, I loved this story…Recommended Read" ~ Fallen Angel Reviews
"I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to longtime fans of Ms. Sinclair or new readers alike. The sex is steamy, the chemistry between the hero and heroine is perfect, and I loved the new world Ms. Sinclair has created. If you’re looking for something that contains BDSM in a futuristic setting, with twists and turns and pulse-pounding suspense, I’m certain this is one book that will keep you reading well past bedtime." ~ Whipped Cream Reviews
"If you haven’t read a Cherise Sinclair book, you should certainly pick one up. Apparently, no matter the genre, you just can’t go wrong.
I think the reason I love Ms. Sinclair’s books so much is she places the reader smack in the middle of the emotions that her characters are going through. The reader just lives it, feels it, and sees it. That is a truly talented writer. Recommended Read" ~ Two Lips Reviews
Damn him. The fat, overly jeweled Nexan she’d chosen as her target had picked up two companions in the fancy men’s club. If he’d left by himself, she’d have managed him easily enough, considering how drunk he was. But two more?
Grinding her teeth in frustration, Armelina Archer settled lower in the small space between the two solacars and watched the fat man stagger out of reach, taking with him the jewelry that would have bought her next few meals and provided some money toward a ticket off-planet.
That just isn’t fair. She huffed a bitter laugh. Nothing had been fair recently, not since she’d landed on this horrible planet.
Why had she ever come here? But she couldn’t have known what would happen. Couldn’t have known that her husband — someone she’d thought she loved — could be so evil. A monster.
She closed her eyes, hearing again the ear-cracking booms as the ship exploded in the dock, taking with it the bodies of the crew she’d come to love. The monster had paid to have her murdered, and they had died instead.
She swallowed hard. Cap and Johnnie and Pard — my fault that they died. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, “so, so sorry.”
Tears slid down her cheeks. Night after night, old Cap had sat with her in the tiny lounge, a comforting companion as the stars streamed by. Now he was gone… No, don’t start again. She scrubbed her face with dirty hands and grimaced as grit abraded her chapped skin. She hadn’t had a shower since the night of the explosion over three weeks ago.
Stranded on a strange planet. No friends. No money. Of anywhere in the galaxy to end up flat broke, the frontier planet Nexus was the worst.
As the evening air chilled, Mella waited. Another customer left the club, but an attendant drove his horse and carriage up to the door. A horse.How could a space-faring people still use such antiquated transportation? Why didn’t they stick to solacars?
The club door opened again. Music spilled out, her own voice singing a love song filled with joy. Oh Prophet. Mella wrapped her arms around herself and breathed hard against the wrenching pain. Her voice. Her song — written before her parents and sister were taken from her in a fiery hovercar accident. She hadn’t written or sung a note since. All her joy and creativity had dried up like an unwatered, unloved plant. Mama, Daddy, Kalie… Why did you leave me? I miss you all so much.
She shoved away the growing ache and concentrated on the goal. The air slowly chilled, and the low chirps of sleepy avians stilled. She’d grown stiff by the time another man finally emerged from the club. Leaning on a cane, he limped down the steps and — oh yes! — actually continued across the manicured purple grass that served as a walkway. Maybe…maybe…
Mella edged out from her hiding spot as he headed toward the car lot. Empty street, disabled guy. She squinted. With only one moon in the sky, she couldn’t determine his age. His long black cape disguised his build, but he was tall — very tall — with broad shoulders. Still…crippled. She could just knock him down, grab his totepurse, and run really, really fast.
Pretty despicable. To steal and maybe even hurt someone. But did she have a choice? Damn this planet that had no charities or help for the penniless. They put the indigent up for auction to the highest bidder and would do the same to her if she got caught. She’d end up working her indenture off in the mines, pulling weeds on a farm…or servicing men in a brothel. A brothel. This terrifyingly immoral world allowed sex not just for reproduction, but for…for recreation. She could be forced to couple with strangers.
Her fingers trembled. She needed money to eat. And to return to Earth before Nathan discovered she was still alive.
Pulling out her tiny knife, she kicked off her shoes. Her bare feet soundless, she ran after the man. As he leaned on the cane, she came up behind him and slammed into him with her shoulder.
He went down like a toppled tree, landing with a low oomph.
She ripped his coat open, grabbed the totepurse, and slashed the strings. Success! One step back and suddenly a hard hand closed around her ankle. She tried to yank away, but his grip only tightened.
“Let me go!” She kicked at him with her free foot.
She had time to think mistake! before he yanked the leg supporting her weight right out from under her. Her shoulder and side slammed into the ground, and for a second, she couldn’t get a breath. Run. Gasping, she elbowed herself upward, and he came down on top of her, pressing her flat on her back with his heavy, muscular body. Her fingers curled into claws, and she tried to scratch him.
A viselike grip caught her wrists, and he pinned her hands over her head.
Face-to-face. Oh Prophet, he isn’t old at all. In the glimmer of the parking-lot lights, she saw dark eyes in a lean, hard face. He was probably around forty Earth years. A man in his prime. A major mistake.
“Stop struggling, or I will hurt you,” he said. “Badly.” His voice was deep. Authoritative.
She couldn’t quit. But he didn’t even seem to notice her furious thrashing as he secured the grip on her wrists with one hand and his iron-hard legs pinned hers.
With his free hand, he grasped her chin, turning her head from side to side, despite her attempts to jerk away. “Quite the dirty little thief, aren’t you,” he mused as if he were lounging idly at home rather than lying on a frantically struggling person. “I don’t usually see female thieves.”
She pulled at her arms. Trying to throw him off, she jerked her hips up…and froze as the hard ridge of an erection pressed against her mound.
Her breath stopped. Nexans had no rules about sex. He could… Terror clamped bands around her chest, and she yanked at her trapped wrists. “Don’t touch me.”
“Ah, an Earther. Interesting.” His hand left her face to stroke her breast, his touch disconcertingly gentle. Warm even through her clothing. “You’re a lush little thing. Not at all like our Nexan females.”
No one had ever touched her like that. Not even Nathan when they coupled. Her heart hammered as she realized he could easily take her right here. He was strong — too strong for her weakened state. “Let me go,” she said, realizing her words had sounded like a plea.
“Ah, laria, I cannot. The law is clear on this.” With a flash of white teeth, he sat back and flipped her over. Pinning her in place with a knee in the small of her back, he lashed her hands together, using, of all things, the cord she’d cut from his totepurse. “You’ll be in front of a judge before the sun rises.”
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