"We're not saints. We're warriors. Means I don't have to like you, to fight to the death for you. If you ever need extra firepower, remember I'm always one unanswered call away."

Born of Legend

In Stores: June 2016
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Jullien stared at Ushara in disbelief. “They want you to resign? Because of me?”

“No. They want me to resign because I’m about to bust their Canting and they know it. This is over their actions. Not yours.”

“Because of me,” he repeated insistently.

But she was being just as stubborn with her position as he was. “They broke the Code. They’re the ones who did wrong in this. Not you.”

“I have a hard time faulting them for what they did when they were only trying to protect you.”

“Be that as it may, I’m not that forgiving for what was done to you. I want blood over this, too.”

He snorted. “Oh don’t let this,” he gestured at his calm, relaxed pose, “fool you. I’m not a saint or a martyr. I’m not about to forgive them. I’m going to exact my revenge. On my own. But that’s between us. After all, I am a contentious bastard— the son of all bastards, for that matter, and an eton Anatole. We don’t let shit go. Ever. That ship was just the first round. But they’re your family. I don’t want them angry at you.”

Laughing, she pressed her hand to her forehead as she finally understood why he was protesting her interference. He wasn’t telling her to let it go because, like Chaz, he was trying to make peace. Rather, he wanted a piece of them himself. “That’s so . . . messed up. But sweet. In a psychologically damaged way.”

“You knew I was broken when you took me in. This is on you, mu tarra. I came into this marriage with a massive warning label. And a kill warrant. You knew, baby. You knew.”

“Yes. Yes, I did.” Sighing, she got up. “Let me go deal with this and I’ll—”

“Oh, I’m coming with you.”


“I’m fine, Shara. I had my nervous breakdown. Licked my wounds. Now I’m back. The one thing you can thank my psychotic grandmother and aunt for— I learned to snap back fast from the brink of insanity. I had to. I take the hard hit. Withdraw inward, catch my breath, get fucking pissed and come back fighting twice as hard, with renewed vigor and determination. That’s what I do. It’s why I’m still here and alive while the rest of my family is in their graves. Bitches rang my bell— their mistake. They let me up off the ground. Now, I’m answering the door. They want a piece of me? They’re going to earn it. I’m not about to send you in there to fight without me. You go. I go. I’m your husband. My place is standing at your back, supporting you, every step of the way, to Tophet and back. And defending you with my dying breath. You will never stand alone, so long as I’m here.”

He was so different from her first husband. So different from anyone she’d ever known. While she was used to strong males who would rise to fight and defend, they were much more overbearing with it. They were all too quick to shove her aside and take charge. Jullien knew when to lead and when to pull point. Unlike them, he wasn’t threatened by the latter. He would defer to her as leader and remain in the background so long as she was given the respect he felt they owed her, and only rise up to strike them down when they didn’t.

Honestly? She adored that about him. He was like having a tamed battle-lorina on hand. Only he was much more charming and sweet.

Although, not better behaved when confronted, and a lot less predictable.

Definitely a lot more terrifying.    

“All right,” she relented. “Arm up. This isn’t going to be pleasant.”

“Did you miss the hole you just dragged me out of?”

She flinched at the memory. “I’m going to kill them.”

“Oh baby, please . . .” He bit his lip seductively. “I want the full honor, and first shot.” With an eagerness that actually terrified her, he scooted off the bed and went to shower.

Ushara let out a bitter laugh. He was a fighter. The high priestess hadn’t been wrong about that. A true a son of Kadurr. She could definitely see the blood of the Samari in him. It made total sense. That unflagging spirit was what had saved her race and kept them going against overwhelming odds. In the face of it all, they had chosen to be dangerous.

Even so, this was going to get bad. Her father was very well respected and she was a young commander. Many here had never agreed with her appointment under Trajen’s leadership.

Many had never appreciated the way Trajen had taken over, especially since he’d come in from a competing Nation.

That included certain members of her own family, such as Kirill’s father who had never liked Trajen, or appreciated the fact that they were being led by a non Andarion. They thought Trajen a normal human, and in their eyes, that made him weak.

If they only knew . . .

By the time they were dressed and headed for the meeting, Ushara was sick to her stomach with worry and dread. If Jullien was nervous or apprehensive, he did a remarkable job of hiding it. He appeared completely calm and confident. Smooth even.

“How do you do that?”    

“Do what?” he asked.

“Remain perfectly calm and composed when you’re walking into the den of your enemies. Vas asked me that when you went to temple with us and he’s right. Nothing seems to rattle you. Is it an innate aristocratic trait or something else? How do you manage such raw confidence and regal grace at all times?”

“Simple. You and Vas walk in with the fear that you’re going to say or do something wrong and they won’t like you anymore. Or that you’ll screw up and lose their respect. I know going in they hate my guts. There’s absolutely nothing I could say or do, including set fire to a baby or kick a puppy, to make them hate me any worse. So I have no ground to lose where they’re concerned. It’s actually quite liberating to know there’s no way to make them like me. An act of the gods themselves could not swing them to my favor. So I have no pressure or fear of any kind. There is nothing I can do to fuck up. Anything I say or do will be socially unacceptable, talked about in the worst way imaginable, and misinterpreted by all. Might as well have fun with it and embrace the whole King of All Bastards they’re going to accuse me of, anyway.”

She laughed and shook her head. “That is sad and yet terribly true, isn’t it?”

He shrugged nonchalantly. “It’s a blessing, really.”

Before they entered her office, she took a moment to straighten his coat. It was adorable to her how he always managed to have it slightly askew. He’d gone back to wearing his red glasses instead of the contacts, and in spite of his harsh, brave words, she saw the pain that haunted his eyes. While he didn’t comment on what had been done to him, she knew it hadn’t just left new physical scars on his body. He had fresh ones on his soul, as well.

For that, she could murder her family. She saw the traces of it whenever he touched his bald head and winced in shame. The way he hunched his shoulders, then caught himself and straightened his spine as if determined to not show it to anyone.

Even himself.

He had an inner quiet strength and dignity that awed her.

With his full swagger in place, he opened the door and held it for her so that she could lead the way into her office.

And when they saw that he was with her, it set every pair of eyes on them, and a number of whispers began. Ushara didn’t say a word to them as she swept into the room and headed for Zellen’s desk.

“So much for my day off, eh?”

Zellen nodded. “Conference room?”

“Why not? Seems like a good place for a kangaroo court, doesn’t it?”

Her father rose to his feet as she headed for the hallway that led to it. “Do you think it’s a good idea to bring him here?”

“Better than provoking him to violence.” She leaned forward as if imparting a secret. “Let me tell you the one thing I’ve learned about dealing with my husband. Think of him like the giant lorina in the wild, sleeping happily in his cave. He might stick his head up to watch you walk by, but so long as you don’t get his full attention, he won’t attack. Whatever you do, for the sake of the gods, don’t throw a rock at him. Because once you do come under his full attention, he’s going straight for your jugular. Just ask Kirill.”

That got her uncle on his feet.

Which caused Jullien to turn and face him.

Kirill’s father, Klavdii took one step forward until he took in the exact size of Jullien’s height and width, and saw the color of his eyes.

Then he retreated.

Ushara swept her gaze over the males gathered in the waiting area. “Shall we move this to the conference room, eh?”

“Who’s overseeing it?” her father asked.

“I am.” Trajen, who appeared from the shadows, swept past him.

Her father actually jumped in startled alarm.

Trajen paused at the conference room door to look back at them. “Unless one of you wants to challenge me for my position?”

One by one, they looked away.

Trajen passed an arch stare to Jullien.

“Tempting, but I’m too tired to bother with it.”

With a snort, Trajen gave him a playful, brotherly slap. “Ironic. You’re the only one who’d stand a chance of taking the seat from me and you’re probably the last one who’d ever make the try for it.”

“‘Cause I’m not a fucking idiot. . . . I’m only partially brain-damaged.”

Laughing, Trajen led the way into the conference room to take the seat at the head of the table. His smile died instantly as the rest filed in and took chairs.

Ushara sat to his right while Jullien stood behind her. She glanced up at him. “Aren’t you sitting?”

He shook his head and stood with his legs braced. Arms crossed.

That certainly wasn’t intimidating or scary at all. She passed an amused glance to Trajen who was smirking at Jullien’s stance.

Trajen cleared his throat. “I’m thinking before we start. . . . Should we disarm your bodyguard, VA Altaan?”

“I already took the blasters from him. Thought it would be a bad idea to have them on his body for this.”

“Good call. Knives?”

She glanced around again. “Just one. It’s his security blankie. I hate to take it from him. He gets a little edgy without it.”

“Well, we don’t want that. Any other weaponry I should know about?”

“Just hands and fangs, but we can’t really detach those.”

Trajen stroked his chin speculatively for a second. “Yeah, guess not. Very well, then. Let’s keep in mind that we should all be on our best behavior, shall we?”

Ushara had no idea why Trajen was trying to provoke her family, but she didn’t say anything as her cousins, uncle, father and brothers crowded in. Davel was one of the last to show. With a grimace, he elbowed his way past them to shove his way to stand next to Jullien.

“Morning. Sorry I was late.” He kissed her cheek to let everyone in the room know whose side he was decidedly on. Then he moved to stand next to Jullien. He attempted the same stance, but for some reason it wasn’t as badass when Davel did it. It was, however, adorable.

Trajen sat back in his chair. “All right. First bitch up.”

Kirill rose. “He blew up my ship. The whole damn thing. There’s nothing left!”

“I know,” Trajen drawled. “Was there. Saw it. Laughed my ass off.”

“And you let him?”

Let is a strong word. Not sure I could have stopped him, given his state of mind at the time. At least not without losing a vital piece of my anatomy. Decided it wasn’t worth it. Especially not for your sorry ass.”

“I can corroborate that as I stood back myself and watched it go up.” Davel laughed. “It was quite . . . impressive.”

“And I expect restitution!”

Ushara arched a brow at Kirill’s indignant tone. “I suggest you take it from the money you made selling my husband into slavery. Or perhaps from the creds someone on your crew made from his gear that was taken and never returned to him, and I know the full value of it firsthand. I have the billing tithe on it. Would you like me to forward that to you?”

Kirill glared at her. “I didn’t make any creds on him, for your information. I had to pay them to take him.”

Too late, he realized what he’d said.

Ushara couldn’t breathe as those words slapped her hard. Jullien didn’t move.

Her gaze went to her father, then her uncle in turn. “Were the two of you in on this conspiracy?”

“Your father wanted him out of your life. We took care of it.”

She cocked a brow at that.

Her father blustered. “You’ve not been the same since he came here. You’re distracted and your loyalties fractured.”

“My loyalties are exactly where they should be. Where they’ve always been. With my high admiral, this Nation and with my family. I’ve not broken an oath or wavered on any duty.”

“You have risked us all by bringing a hunted darkheart into this Nation knowing we hate him. That he’s not welcome here. That he’ll never be welcomed here.”

“Man, that’s harsh.” Davel winced. Then he spoke to Jullien in a low tone. “I, for one, welcome you, drey. Love you, too, in a purely platonic, brotherly way.”

“‘Preciate it.”

“No problem. Just don’t set my ship on fire, especially if I’m in it.”

Jullien snorted.

Their father glared at Davel.

Trajen let out an irritable sigh. “Look, you’re all wasting my time. I’m not picking another VA. Ushara has done nothing to shake my confidence. I’m only holding this little soiree to placate you. End of the day, get over it.”

Klavdii shot to his feet. “This is an outrage!”

Ushara shook her head. “No. The outrage is yet to come. Check your standing. Every member of the Night Rain has lost rank, effective immediately. Those with Canting have lost it as, well. And that includes you, Klavdii, and my father.”        


She looked at her father without flinching. “Anyone who had a hand in what happened to my husband is busted. We do not betray Tavali. Even a cock. For any reason. I placed my husband in your hands. When you betrayed him, you betrayed me and this Nation. You all violated your most sacred oaths. In the eyes of Tavali, you have committed treason and I will not allow that to happen.”

Her father glared at Trajen. “You’re allowing this to stand?”

“Her husband. Her call. Unless by some miracle, you can find someone to speak up on your behalf?”

“I will.”

They turned in shock as Jullien spoke.

Ushara gaped at him. “Excuse me?”

“Just thinking that, sadly, these bastards have all spawned. While I couldn’t give a shit about any of them, some of the spawn who aren’t in this room are rather cute. The younger ones are still innocent. It’s really not fair to punish them because these assholes couldn’t wear a condom or behave like sentient beings with a conscience. I don’t want to see their young on the street or starving.”

Davel was seized with a sudden coughing fit that he finally gave up on and allowed to turn into hysterical laughter.

Ushara managed to hold her composure, but it wasn’t easy, especially with her brother and his hyena fit. “Fine. You’re all on probation for a year. Any infraction and your Canting is gone, forever. You so much as frown in my husband’s direction and I’ll bust you to his personal slag. Furthermore, ten percent of your take for the next year will go to pay for Jullien’s lost wages and tithe.”

When they started to protest, she held her hand up. “Keep bitching and it’ll be twenty percent. And Kirill, you’re down two ranks, Captain Altaan.”

“That’s bullshit!”

“No, it’s not. You’re lucky, you’re still even a bait at this point, given how mad I am at you. So don’t even whine about it. Now you’re all dismissed. Get out before I let my husband have at you!”

They left slowly, and very grudgingly.

Davel sighed. “It’s going to be fun at our house during family holidays for the next few years.”

“Ah, you love it.” Ushara smirked.

Davel snickered. “Yeah, you’re right. I do.”

Her father glared at them as the room emptied.

She waited for him to speak. That expression on his face always meant a caustic lecture was brewing. Honestly, she wasn’t in the mood for it. She was too old for his speeches, especially when she wasn’t the one who’d done something so morally reprehensible.  

But before he could start on her, the door opened.

Ushara frowned as her grandparents came in with the high priestess. She had no idea what this was about, but it terrified her, especially given the glower on her grandfather’s face as he neared them.

“Vidarii,” Trajen greeted. “What can we do for you?”

“I wanted to verify my granddaughter’s news that she gave me before she left.” He approached Jullien with Unira Samari flanking him.

Jullien immediately stiffened and went into that warrior’s stance that never boded well for the ones facing him.

“Easy, m’tana,” the high priestess said, touching him lightly on the arm. “It’s all good.”

He cast an uncertain glance to Ushara.


Without responding to her, he gently pulled the glasses off Jullien’s eyes to look at them. He sucked his breath in sharply at their color. “Dear gods . . . it is true. You weren’t lying.”

“Paka?” Her father rose to his feet. “What’s going on?”

Tears welled in her grandfather’s eyes. Reverently, he and her grandmother went down on their knees in front of Jullien and bowed reverently.


Unira laughed at Jullien, then gave him the envelope in her hand. “And this was the gift I wanted you to have that I mentioned yesterday.”

Frowning, he opened it and gasped as he realized it was the title for her ship. “I don’t understand.”

“I’m old and I don’t need to be running blockades anymore. The gods were trying to tell me something when they grounded me. And I’ve been thinking a lot since I saw you working on my old girl . . . I want you to have her.”

“But I’m not Tavali.”

“Not yet. You will be and you’ll need a ship. She needs to go to someone who understands her and who will love her as I have. You not only love her, but you can repair her and keep her flying in a way no one else can. I can think of no better captain for her than you.”

“High Mother—”

“Matarra,” she said with a twinkle in her eye, cutting him off.

Jullien smiled. “I—”

“Don’t say you can’t accept her. She was meant for you. I know it with every part of my heart. The gods wanted you to have her and so do I.”

Jullien took her hand. “I will accept her only on one condition.”

“That is?”

“You remain as part of her crew.”

Unira tsked at him. “You’ll have to convert. I won’t fly with a heathen captain and risk the wrath of the gods.”

Jullien laughed. “It’s a deal. Besides, I was going to convert anyway.”                

Rising on her tiptoes, she kissed each of his cheeks. “I’ve always wanted a child of my own. The gods could not have given me a better or a more honorable or handsome son than you.”

Jullien swallowed hard as those words sobered him. He wasn’t sure how to take them. No one had ever wanted him before.

Ushara placed her hand on his shoulder. “You’ve stunned him speechless, High Mother. That’s quite a feat.”

Davel draped his arm around Jullien’s neck and kissed him on the cheek. “Aw! I think this means you’re all mine now, drey. I get to torture you on my crew.”

“Beautiful,” Jullien said in the driest of tones. “Eighteen months?”


Jullien sighed wearily. But there was a gleam in his eye that said he didn’t really mind it.


Davel clapped him on the back. “Welcome to the Altaan clan, drey. I’ll start getting it changed on your papers.”

Jullien ruffled his hair. “While I appreciate the thought, I think I’ll continue using Ixur.”


He jerked his chin toward their father’s disgruntled expression. “So as not to irritate your paka any worse and to keep your uncle from entirely losing his shit. I think it best to maintain some semblance of family harmony for the time being. Plus it keeps a layer of protection between me and Ushara and Vasili. I don’t want any of my enemies to use them to come after me.”

Unira placed a motherly hand on his shoulder. “You are a good male, and a devoted husband. I would suggest at least switching to Samari to protect yourself from those who are looking for your current alias. We can easily fabricate all new paperwork for you, to protect you as well as them.”

Jullien swallowed hard as his throat tightened in gratitude. “I’m honored, Ger Tarra.” No one had ever sought to protect him from his enemies before. Honestly, it kind of scared him to have someone consider his well-being now. “Thank you. I swear I will do nothing to bring shame to your lineage.”

“I have full faith in you, m’tana. From the moment I first saw you, I knew you were an Andarion of high integrity and utmost nobility.”

“I wouldn’t go quite that far. But I strive to do right . . . sometimes.”

She smiled. “The Kadurr occasionally were forced to commit a few sins in order to set things right. Yet the gods forgave them. It's the intentions behind the actions that the gods take into account more than the actions themselves.”

“I’m not sure that puts me on any better ground, as my intentions are not often any better than my actions.”

“At least you’re honest.” Laughing, the priestess shook her head. “And with that, I have much to do. I shall take my leave now.”

Her grandmother took her hand and his. “Once your Dagger converts, we will expect a real wedding from the two of you. Not the hackneyed civil travesty you did without your family present. I shall get with your mother and sisters, and start the planning. We want the full obnoxious fare.”

Ushara laughed. “My poor love has no idea what he’s in for.”

Davel tsked at him. “Brother, take my word. Run.”

Her father nodded. “You’re going to wish I’d shot you in the head.”

Jullien turned toward Trajen. “Joke?”

“You wish.” Trajen let out an evil laugh. “So glad I’m celibate. It saves me so much drama.” He headed for the door, then stopped to look back at them. “For the record, had I replaced Ushara as my VA today . . . my second choice would have been Dagger. I’d have expedited his Canting based on his exceptional military and political knowledge, diplomacy skills when he chooses to use them, and proven battle skills. So you wouldn’t gained any ground. Just FYI to chew on. Once he has citizenship, he will be moved to Canting and through the ranks as quickly as I can make it happen. There is no one else I’d put at Ushara’s back or mine.” He cut a stern glower to Davel. “Let it be known when you take him to crew that I consider him my family. Anyone else harms him, they deal with me personally. To me, he’s my little brother. And I will fuck up any Tavali who touches him.” With that, Trajen left them.

Zellen let out a slow breath. “I shall let everyone know. And get started on the new paperwork.”

Davel tapped fists with Jullien. “Estra, mi drey.”

Jullien inclined his head to him. “Estra.”

Petran pulled Ushara into his arms and held her before he kissed the top of her head. “Now I know how your mother’s paka felt when she dragged me home to meet him.”


“It’s true. He threw me out. Took your mother a solid month of convincing her yaya that I was worthy of courting her. I still had to undergo a full purification with her father and brothers before he’d let me near her. Hate that bastard to this day.”

Jullien arched his brow. “Purification?”

“Survival training,” Petran explained. “And just so you know, they weren’t supposed to sell you off. They did that without my knowledge or consent. They were only supposed to return you to where they found you and leave you there. That was what we’d agreed to.”

She frowned. “Then why were you fighting with Davel?”

Her father scratched sheepishly at his ear. “I didn’t believe him when he told me what they’d done. I accused him of lying about it.”


“I know. But it’s hard to hear something like that and believe it. I didn’t want to hurt someone I loved over . . .” A red stain spread over his face.

Jullien’s expression turned to stone. “Someone like me?”

“I won’t ever do it again, boy. I promise you.” Her father held his hand out to Jullien.

Nodding, Jullien took it.

He pulled him in and hugged him. “From this day forward, I consider you mine, and I will defend you as such.”

“Thank you, Gur Tana.”

Clearing his throat, he pulled back to look at the two of them. “And I’ll be expecting that grandson from the two of you. Along with some granddaughters.”

Ushara laughed. “We will get started on that right away.”

“Good! I’m not getting any younger. Days like today are aging me quick.”

Her link began buzzing with Vasili’s tone. She answered it, then went pale. “Honey? What is it?” She paused. “Vas? Breathe, baby.”

Jullien scowled at her worried tone.

“Are you still at school?” Her voice trembled. “All right. Stay right there. I’m on my way. Don’t move.” She hung up.

Jullien rubbed her back. “What is it?”

“I’m not sure. He was too upset to speak clearly. I couldn’t really understand what he was saying. But I’ve got to get to him.” She headed for the door.

All three of them went with her to Vas’s school, which ended up being a good thing since Vasili wasn’t in his classroom. Rather, he was hiding in boy’s bathroom, refusing to come out.

“Vas?” Jullien called as he went inside with Petran and Davel to find him. “Are you in here?”

Sobbing, Vas ran from the last stall and threw himself into Jullien’s arms.

Jullien held him while he met Petran and Davel’s shocked stares. “What’s wrong, mi tana? Did someone hurt you?”

Vasili pulled out a small box and handed it to Jullien. He spoke in broken words through his sobs. “Was . . . in . . . my . . . b-b-b-backpack.”

Scowling, Jullien opened the box, then cursed out loud as he saw a bloody, severed finger wearing the signet ring he’d traded to buy parts for Oxana’s ship. He slammed the lid over it and handed it off to Davel before he pulled Vasili against him again and held him tight. “Did you see who put it in there?”

He shook his head and cried even harder.

Davel’s curse matched Jullien’s as he saw it and passed it to his father.

“Where’s the backpack?” Jullien asked.


Jullien kept his arms wrapped tightly around Vasili as he walked him out of the bathroom and to Ushara. He looked around, trying to find someone who didn’t belong here. So help him gods, when he laid hands to the one responsible, he was going to rip their throat out with his bare hands.

No one would upset Vas like this and live. No one threatened his family. Ever.

Petran and Davel came out behind him. “Who do you think did this?” Davel asked Jullien.

“Nyran,” Jullien growled. “Has to be. No one else is this sick.” Not even his grandmother would have done that to Vasili. She’d have sent a head to Jullien with a threatening note. As a rule, she didn’t terrorize children unless she knew them personally. To her, there was no fun in scaring a stranger unless she was there to witness it.

“What happened?” Ushara asked.

Davel actually started to give the box to Ushara.            

Tempted to punch him, Jullien snatched it from his hand. “You don’t give that to your sister!” He slid it into his pocket before he explained it to her. “It’s the signet ring I traded for your sister’s ship.”

“That’s not all that’s in there,” Davel said under his breath.

“It’s all she needs to know.” Jullien glared at him. “Don’t make me beat you with a chair. Since I can’t lay hands on the one who did this, I will make you a worthy substitute for my wrath.”

“Brother, you got some serious anger management problems.”

“Yes, I do.” Jullien ground his teeth. He wanted blood for this. Anyone who would traumatize a child so needlessly . . . “We need to search his backpack.”

He and Davel went to get it while Ushara and her father took Vasili toward the office to check him out for the rest of the day.

As they headed for the classroom, Davel sighed. “You need to relax. They can’t hurt him on this base.”

“Excuse me if I disagree. They got close enough to plant a disembodied finger on him. They can get close enough to hurt him.”

“Someone had to have seen them.”

“Then point them out so I can end their life.”

As they entered the room, the teacher started to protest.

“It’s all right,” Davel said, placating him. “This is Vasili’s father. His mother is with him in the office and we’re checking him out.”

The teacher raked a curious stare over Jullien’s body. “Are you Tavali?”

Davel answered for him. “He’s TNT. Is there a problem?”


Davel nodded. “Samari.”

Jullien arched a brow as Davel continued to answer for him.

The teacher appeared impressed. “Does he ever speak?”

Jullien smirked. “Those who don’t know me think I’m quiet. Those who do, wish I was.”

“Beg pardon?”    

He slung Vasili’s backpack over his shoulder and cracked a shit-eating grin at the teacher. “I typically practice excessive sarcasm since random throat punches tend to get me arrested in most systems.”

“And that’s why we don’t let him talk much. Have a nice day.” Davel pulled him out of the room. “Gah . . . I can’t believe Shara let’s you out in public without supervision.”

“What? Nobody bled, died or was bashed in the head during that meeting. My people skills are vastly improving, especially given the mood I’m in.”

“Now there’s a terrifying thought. Explains so much about Andarion politics.”

“Yes, exactly. That’s why the Anatole standard of diplomacy has always been— sure we’ll negotiate if any survivors happen to remain.” Jullien started searching through the backpack as they headed for the office.         

He paused outside the door as he found the note that had been shoved inside with the box. Opening it, he read the words and his fury mounted with every one.

Just when you think you’re safe . . .

Sooner or later, we all pay the Korilon’s fee. Your bill is coming, Julie. Look out for it.  

His vision turned dark. Bitch, please. You’re the one who better watch the shadows at your back. I’m coming for you, Nyran. And you’re about to bleed. Hard.

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