For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn’t simply something she was trained for. It’s the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she’s about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless.
For Zander D’joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way.
Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there’s more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?
Tethered by Pippa Jay
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Tyree slid from the bed and Misted out to pass through the bedroom wall and into the living quarters. Zander had fallen asleep in a chair. For once, the scarred side faced her. The delicate ragged tendrils fanned across his cheek and temple like the feathery fronds of a netusi palm leaf. She wanted to touch them, to trace the patterns they made. To her, they were beautiful, just as he was. The mark of his suffering and courage.
The strange and sudden urge disturbed her, quickened her pulse. What was it about this man? He had charm, certainly. Handsome, considerate, quietly determined. Or was it simply that being confined with him meant she had come to know him in a way totally unlike her previous encounters with humans. Was that the difference? Would she see humans in a different light after this occasion? Visaya, Pevanne, even the avian medic Callista, had become familiar associations. Perhaps even friends?
Still incorporeal, still drawn to him, she hovered closer. No, this seemed something else. Being in his presence warmed her more than the body-molding memorphorm mattress. More like rejoining her kin in Refuge. Although not the same, she hungered for that sense of kinship, of reunion that she’d believed could be found only in her traditional home.
She drifted in front of him, merging into his aura. Warmth and golden light wrapped loving coils around her, and she bit back a moan of pleasure. She wanted more. Not the full auric release of death, but at least the illusion of unity with him. Her lips brushed his, a feather touch. A shimmer of yearning passed into her from Zander, and she took more solid form to press her mouth against his and feel him mirror her move even though he was still on the edge of sleep. Heat flooded her veins as their kiss deepened and his desire blended into hers.
A familiar tightening clenched in her groin, but this was beyond the basic need for sex, or for auric energy. She wanted this man. While she might not be prepared to admit it aloud, she had come to admire him, human though he was. A strange feeling for a Su. She had never had a choice in her targets. Among the Inc-Su, when the compulsion for Communion forced her to seek one out, it would often be the first she met equally desperate to share. To make her own choice now only deepened the terrible desire she felt for him. It burned her. A pain both consuming and sweet.
Zander lifted a hand, threaded it through her hair, and pulled her in. “Mirsee,” he whispered with longing, and she jerked back as if he’d punched her in the face.
His eyes flickered open, and then widened in surprise. “Tyree?”
She opened her mouth, about to protest, but he blinked and saw her clearly. Pain splintered into her, pouring from him in an icy cascade of shock. “Tyree!”
Agony smacked her in the chest. His passion had been for his lost love, not for her.
She Misted out and ran away.
After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include a YA science fiction novel—Gethyon—published through BURST (Champagne Books), three self-published short stories (Terms & Conditions Apply, The Bones of the Sea, and Reboot), and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).