All posts by K D Grace

Piloting Fury Part 3: KDG Scifi Romance

Good morning, my lovelies. Time for another cheeky Monday Read.  Time for another episode of  Piloting Fury.  As I said, Fury is a little different from what you’ve come to expect from KDG. I’m revisiting this serial novel for multiple reasons, but mostly because I love Fury, and I hope you do too.

Last  week Mac learned the terms of the bet are not at all what she expected. This week something sinister is underway, and it has to do with Mac’s disappearance.

Catch up here if you missed last week’s episode of Piloting Fury.


Piloting Fury

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAllister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.

Piloting Fury Part 3: Deal with the Devil

The outer docks were darker than the inside of a Faribaldian’s asshole. This was the oldest part of the station, and while the atmosphere in the outer ring was breathable, if you considered suffocating slowly in a stinking thick fog breathable, the New Hibernians didn’t waste energy on lighting the place unless they needed to use if for overcrowding. Why the hell there would be overcrowding on this backwater shithole, Rab sure as fuck couldn’t figure. He stayed as close to the utility lighting near the docking bay as possible, squinting hard at every moving shadow beyond. It was an unplanned stop for the Dubrovnik, and Rab had no goddamned idea why Captain Harker made it until he saw Gerando Fallon drinking and whoring at the Nine Tails. Then it all made sense. But it was Harker’s problem, wasn’t it? How the hell did he end up right in the butt fuck middle of it all?

It was the shit that happened in this part of the docks when there was no overcrowding that concerned Rab at the moment. If there was a murder on NH372 — and murder was a favorite pastime for these New Hibernian fuckers – this was the place it would happen. Chances were equally good the body would not be found until the next time NH372 had an overcrowding problem. As Rab waited, pacing in a tight circle, he was almost certain he could smell the stink of rotting corpse.

The thought that he might soon be joining the ranks of the rotting did little to calm his nerves. He knew the place’s reputation, and he didn’t like it. He especially didn’t like it that he was meeting Gerando fucking Fallon here. He wouldn’t even be here in the first place if he hadn’t been doing the job that ass wipe was supposed to be doing, and that because he happened to be in the wrong damn place at the wrong damn time. He happened to choose the goddamned Nine Tails for his first shore leave hooch stop instead of any of a dozen other disreputable dumps on NH372. He was barely in the door before Fallen was eyeballing him. Then, the little snot gob had the balls to grab him by the shoulder and ordered him — fucking ordered him! To keep an eye on Diana McAllister while the bastard went off to fuck some poor unsuspecting whore. Before Rab could mumble yeah or ne, Fallon had escorted a dark-haired chick, big blue eyes and nice tits out of the bar. She was smiling and flirting, doing her job. Rab couldn’t help notice that she looked a helluva lot like Diana McAllister. He felt for the chick. She would more than earn her money — if Fallon paid her at all. Whether or not she’d ever be able to work again once the little shit was done with her, well the odds were definitely not in her favor.

But when Fallon was your name, you could do what you bloody well pleased. Daddy would clean up all your messes and wipe your ass. That’s what made Rab so nervous. He’d been doing the lazy bastard’s job, and he’d kept an eye on Diana McAllister. Hell, he’d been doing that anyway, doing that ever since she set foot on the Dubrovnik. And frankly he felt for her when sonny boy showed up casting his filthy glances her way. He figured daddy was about to bring his prize indentured home, and this time, it didn’t matter that she really was the best damn pilot in the galaxy. Abriad Fallon wanted her back. Hell, Rab would have helped her escape himself if there’d been any possible way. But she was an indentured. To escape was a death sentence, and a long and painful one at that. Still, he couldn’t really imagine that being worse than being the plaything of a Fallon.



Strange her disappearance, though. The place was so crowded he could barely clap eyes on her from where he stood at the bar. She was in the middle of a poker game with some punter he didn’t recognize. No reason why he should. Hell he kept his head down and didn’t associate with anyone. He had too much to lose to get friendly-like with the wrong folks.

He’d just settled at the bar with a pint, figuring he’d be there for awhile. McAllister would ring every last credit out of the poor bastard she could, him hanging on all the while hoping his luck would change, or at least hoping in the end he’d get a sympathy fuck for his losses. Like that was ever gonna happen. He’d been wrong though. A bar maid had dropped a tray full of drinks right in front of him, glass and cheap boozing going everywhere, everyone dodging and cursing. By the time he looked back McAllister was gone. It was like she vanished into thin air once she left the Nine Tails. The scuttlebutt was that she’d lost. Fucking lost! And had left with the man she’d lost to. That was stranger still, Rab thought. He’d been working on the Dubrovnik with the woman since she’d become its pilot, and he had never seen her lose. No one who wanted to leave with their credits and their shirt in tact ever played poker with Diana McAllister. That’s why she was in her element in remote space stations where no one knew her reputation and everyone was lonely and in need of company that didn’t look like a the ass end of a New Vaticana baboon. But tonight she had lost, and she had lost soundly.

Well the way she looked in that dress and considering she was an indentured with no funds, he figured the lucky sonovabitch who’d beaten her was going to get well and truly laid. What else could she have to offer him and, frankly, Rab considered it quite a win. No one fucked Diana McAllister. In all the years he’d served next to her, he never once heard even the slightest rumor that anyone was getting any joy from Diana Mac. Oh plenty had flirted, plenty had tried, but she shut them down right fast. Kept herself to herself, kept her nose clean and did her job. Then whenever the Dubrovnik was in space dock, she put on that cock-straightening dress and invited the brave and the stupid to a little game of poker. While indentureds had no right to invest funds they earned, if the owners of their contract allowed them to moonlight, they could save toward their release. If she was like most of the poor bastards, he figured that’s what she was saving for. Just between him and the gatepost, he wasn’t sure she could pay off her contract to Abriad Fallon in three lifetimes. For some reason, she was worth a small fortune. But that wasn’t Rab’s problem. His problem was explaining to Abriad Fallon’s lazy ass fuck of a son why he had lost her, and doing it in such a way that he might just manage to stay alive.

Being that his situation couldn’t possibly suck worse than it did, he kept racking his brain trying to figure out just what the hell happened, trying to come up with some answer that would get his ass off with only a good hard beating. Oh he was sure that McAllister would be back onboard the Dubrovnik when the ship left orbit. She was an indentured. She didn’t dare not return. But what that did mean was that once the Dubrovnik jumped, daddy Fallon would have to wait a little longer to get his prize back to Terra Nova Prime. It also meant that the whole process of the transfer of her shackle would then have to be legal and aboveboard. Rab reckoned sending Junior to steal her away like a goddamn thief was an insult to Captain Harker. Clearly the captain was fond of Diana Mac, but hell, who wasn’t? Abriad Fallon would see it as a firm reminder that when push came to shove the woman belonged to him to do with whatever the fuck he chose. Sending his cruel fuck of a son made the message crystal clear. The kid was little more than a spoilt brat left to grow up with no discipline and no restraints. Daddy Fallon, on the other hand, was one scary sonovabitch. He was one of the most powerful men in the Authority, and his control of the largest conglomerate also made the motherfucker one of the richest. He didn’t get that way be playing nice. He didn’t get that way be even pretending to play nice.

He would not be best pleased with the jizz gob of his loins for costing him time. Rab knew only too well that shit always rolled down hill and fuck if he wasn’t smack dab at the bottom of that goddamned hill. So he’d managed to shove his way through the crowd and catch up with McAllister and the man who had won at poker in the alley behind the Nine Tails. It couldn’t have been simpler. McAllister wasn’t a troublemaker. She’d give the man what he’d won and be back onboard the Dubrovnik in time for departure. They went around a corner and that was it. Just like that, they fucking vanished. After he had looked for them over two hours with no joy, figuring either his number was up, or he’d have to run, he caught a break. Fallon came back from his whore drunk and puking in the alley, not in any condition to enjoy hurting Rab for his failure, and this dump of a place is where he’d ordered him to wait.


Piloting Fury Part 2: KDG Scifi Romance

Happy Bank Holiday Monday to my readers in the UK! I hope you’re getting some sunshine and can get out to enjoy the Spring blossoms.

As I mentioned last Monday, with the completion of Mr. Sands, I would not  leave you bereft of those cheeky little Monday reads. Piloting Fury is a little different from what you’ve come to expect from KDG. I’m revisiting this serial novel for multiple reasons, but mostly because I love Fury, and I hope you do too.

Last week Rick Manning offers Diana ‘Mac’ McAllister a bet she can’t possibly lose. This week she learns the terms of the bet are not at all what she expected. Enjoy!

Catch up here if you missed last week’s episode of Piloting Fury.


Piloting Fury

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAllister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.

Piloting Fury Part 2: I Got this, Mac

“What does this mean, her ass is yours?” The notary asked, with a strong New Hibernian accent. “You know I need specifics.”

“He wants me to fuck him, if I lose,” I clarified. Me arrogant? Huh! I could already picture myself easing the powerful bulk of the Fury out of dock and seeing what the ship could do in open space.

There were three other tables demanding the attention of the notary, and the fact that such a big wager had to be witnessed wasn’t making them or him very happy. “Well I can hardly write that down, can I?”

Manning rolled his eyes and grabbed the notary’s device using the touch pad to type in whatever was a good euphemism for the thing I was certain wasn’t going to happen. I was so sure of myself, so positive that the Fury was already mine that I didn’t bother to look at what he wrote. I just placed my thumb against the DNA reader on the keypad and the notary grunted his approval, nodding to the barmaid who brought over a sealed pack of cards. Manning settled her onto his lap – for luck, he said, as he shuffled the cards, considerably longer than necessary. But then I could be patient when I would be walking away with the price of my freedom plus change and a bright shiny starship of my very own. I certainly wasn’t worried about Manning. He was a respectable pilot – not as good as I am, but not bad either, and he was one cunning sonovabitch. He’d land on his feet no matter what happened.

When he dealt me three tens, I figured I was in like Flynn. The vacuous barmaid was too busy playing with Manning’s bronze curls to give anything away. And really, while she might meet him after hours and commiserate with a good fuck, she wasn’t at all interested in the outcome. Looking back, I should have thought that strange. I should have thought the whole situation strange, that a man was about to bet his fucking starship to a woman who had a reputation for never losing. Looking back, I should have thought of a lot of things, but all I could think about was that in one glorious night, I would gain my freedom and a starship with contracts pending.

I sure as hell wasn’t thinking about Rick Manning pulling a straight flush. But that’s exactly what the bastard did. Winner takes it all.

“You cheated,” I said. But no one heard me over the squealing of the barmaid who all but bounced up and down on his lap, before nearly sticking her tongue down his throat in a congratulatory kiss. It ended in a yelp as he shoved her off, stood and offered me his hand. “Diana McAllister, I believe your ass is mine.”

The notary shoved his pad in our faces and we both offered our thumbs, which made the bet final and binding as well as transferring the details to the station archives where it would be conveniently noted and disappeared before the Authority could get wind of it. Stations this remote were not fans of the Authority, and they all played by their own rules. I said nothing. I only offered my thumb. The new Hibernians didn’t take kindly to people reneging on a notarized bet. In fact it was punishable by death at the bar owner’s discretion, in which case the winnings from the bet became the property of the bar owner. So I followed Manning out of the bar, hand in hand still trying to figure out what the hell had happened.

Even then I was consoling myself with the fact that I was no worse off than I had been before. The thought of fucking Rick Manning wasn’t entirely loathsome to me, and after all the whiskey he’d put away, I figured he’d pass out long before we got down to doing the deed. If not, there were rumors that he was good in the sack. Probably rumors he’d started, I figured. I wouldn’t put it past the bastard.



He led me down a darkened passage to a rented room above the bar. I’d expected something a little more upscale, but I was still too stunned to make any snide comments. It didn’t matter if he’d cheated, it didn’t matter that I’d lost my freedom, and a starship even before I had them. It was a done deal, so if he wanted to fuck my brains out, it had all been notarized. It was the humiliation that bothered me as much as anything. At least at that point.

He entered the code. The door slid open, and he nodded me inside. My first surprise was when he turned on the lights before motioning me to the bed. Well, maybe he liked to see what he was doing in the sack. “Lie down,” he said quietly, making no attempt to feel me up or kiss me.

I did as he said. I stripped out of the bomber jacket, but if he wanted anything else off, he’d have to do it himself. To my surprise, he didn’t come immediately to join me, but rummaged through a compact duffle bag on the floor. When he did finally come to the bed, he set a small leather case on the nightstand and pulled off his belt. I braced myself. But instead of getting down to it, he looped the belt around my forearm just above my subdural shackle and cinched it up tight enough the outline of the chip shown below the surface of my skin. “This will only hurt for a few minutes, then it’ll all be over,” he said. Before I could even begin to struggle, he laid a heavy hand on my chest. “I’d recommend you lie still. I’ve never done this before.”

“What are you doing? What the fuck are you doing?” I fought back panic.

He offered me a beatific smile. “Don’t worry, Mac. I got this.” As he brought out the laser scalpel, I all but froze.

“Fucking hell, Manning, you know what happens when a shackle’s tampered with.”

“You belong to me now, Mac,” he said, making a tiny incision that stung like fire and then two more in quick succession until the shackle was laid bare.

“What the hell are you talking about?” I held dead still hissing the words between my teeth, expecting at any minute for my arm to break out in a rash of blisters. “I belong to Captain Harker and the Dubrovnik.” Or at least I had been assigned to him for that last few years. Who I really belonged to, I never admitted unless I had no choice. Though I suspected Manning knew. He didn’t miss much.

“Not anymore you don’t.” He pulled a pair of micro-view goggles from the leather case and shoved them onto his face. Then he grabbed a couple of very delicate-looking tools I recognized from when my shackle had been recalibrated my first day onboard the Dubrovnik.

“Manning, you’ll get me infected! You’ll get me sent off to a plague planet!”

“Don’t you worry about a thing, Mac. Just hold still for me, and everything’ll be fine.”

He didn’t have to tell me twice. I didn’t move. I didn’t breathe. I all but willed my heart not to beat until at last he heaved a sigh and gently laid the skin back over the shackle. Then he covered it with a layer of Dermanew. That done, he removed the belt and admired his handy work. Then his hands started shaking, and I was afraid for a second, one or maybe both of us might throw up.

I stared at my arm, waiting for the telltale rash to break out. When it didn’t I looked up at him. “What the hell did you do?”

“You didn’t read the notary contract, did you?”

“I wasn’t planning to lose,” I said between gritted teeth.

“What I did was reprogram your shackle to Fury, to me, more specifically. You’re now indentured to me for an indeterminate time. I reckon it’ll take you longer to pay it off on the Fury than it would have on the Dubrovnik, since smaller ships have smaller incomes, but I promise you’ll have a lot more fun. Besides, I’ve been wanting to hire on a first mate for awhile now, and I really wanted a good pilot.”

“But what about the Dubrovnik. I can’t just jump ship.”

“Of course you can. Now.” He nodded down to the shackle. “I wouldn’t advise trying to jump ship on Fury though. You can sleep here tonight, and tomorrow at 0800, report to Fury.” He stood, suddenly a little unsure on his feet, and stumbled toward the door. Then he turned back and offered me a smile that faltered just a little around the edges. His face had gone pale as though he’d just realized what he’d done. “The room is locked from the inside, just to keep the riff raff away, but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what will happen if you try to leave. As for the Dubrovnik, well we’ll be long gone before everyone even finishes boarding the Dubrovnik. Now get some sleep. We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow.”

Piloting Fury: A KDG Scifi Romance

With the completion of Mr. Sands, I promise not to leave you bereft of those cheeky little Monday reads. This time the serial I’m sharing with you is novel length, and a little different from what you’ve come to expect from KDG. I’m revisiting Piloting Fury for multiple reasons, but mostly because I love it, and I hope you do too.

Enjoy the first half of the first chapter, and if you’re very good (or if I’m very good ) I’ll have the rest of the chapter up next week. From there, we’ll see where Fury leads us.



Piloting Fury

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAlister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.


Chapter 1: The Bet

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” Rick Manning was more than a little bit drunk. He had to be to make that sort of bet with me. Everyone knows you don’t gamble with Diana Mac unless you want to lose. I never lost – ever! What gambling I managed in spaceports was my sole income, and I horded it all obsessively. Every credit of it went toward paying off the contract of my indenture. Nope! I never lost because I couldn’t afford to. And yet here I stood on the small but efficient deck of the Fury, reporting to Rick Scumbag Manning, and the prick was nowhere to be found. “Probably sleeping it off in some whore’s bed,” I growled under my breath.

“You cheated, you bastard,” I said out loud. Even if he heard me, what the hell was he gonna do, dock my wages, throw me in the brig? “I know you cheated, I just don’t know how you did it,” I said to the console which, in spite of my anger at Manning, already had me intrigued. I confess, vivid visions of strangling Rick Manning with a New Hibernian cryo-whip couldn’t hold my imagination quite like the console of a good ship – even one I was now indentured to for who the hell knew how many galactic years. I’m serious when I say I’m the best pilot in the galaxy. It’s not bragging if it’s true. I’ve never met the ship I couldn’t fly. Not that I got that many opportunities indentured to the Dubrovnik, but Captain Harker had raked in the credits more than once by betting on me in an impromptu race of some sort. Of course the ship was never my own, and that made the bet even more interesting. No one ever saw it coming.

In spite of my crap situation, I couldn’t help admiring the clean lines and the efficient arrangement of the Fury’s controls. While the ship might look like a rusty tub on the outside, Manning had known to put his money where it mattered. I was already jonesing to see what the ship could do, and the truth was that the Fury was one helluva ship despite the rusty tub appearance. I doubted if Manning even knew what the original make was. If the entire ship wasn’t glued together with spit and high tensile repair tape, I’d be surprised. But leave it to Manning to win, steal, smuggle and finagled some of the best, state of the art components in the galaxy. I only knew that because he and I got drunk together on Diga Prime waiting out a lava storm one night in a bar. The man was as proud of his ship as he was his cock and, while I’d made it a point not to check out the latter, I’d wanted to check out the Fury for a long time. Just not like this.

I flopped down in the pilot’s seat, which strangely enough felt as though it molded to fit my butt. I knew for a fact that Manning’s ass needed a little more space than mine, and so did his broad shoulders. I’d admired those shoulders and that ass in more than a few spaceports where we’d pitched up together. At this moment, though, I loathed the whole damn package with a loathing hotter than the fiery pits of Diga Vulcanus. I envisioned kicking that very fine ass out the airlock somewhere in the Outer Rim. But thanks to the mess the cheating rat bastard had gotten me into, I couldn’t even do that.

It had been such a sure thing. I was sitting pretty, wasn’t I? The newly healed incision on my forearm itched like crazy, and while it was already all but invisible, it guaranteed I was as bound to the Fury as if Manning had roped me and tied me to the pilot’s chair. I should have known. I should have suspected something, but I was too busy patting myself on the back for my good fortune, too greedy for more.

I should have suspected something when Manning lost a small fortune to me in game after game of Sandirian poker. At the time, the man wasn’t yet too drunk to make intelligent decisions, and I knew for a fact he wasn’t a gambling addict. I’d heard about addicts who had gambled away far larger fortunes than the one Manning had dropped, which was just enough to buy back my indenture with a nice little nest egg to tide me over until I could find other work. Nope, Manning was a lightweight when it came to gambling losses. A minor satrap was legendary for gambling away a whole planetoid out at the edge of the Orion Nebula. I just figured it was a cock thing with Manning. I recognized the signs. The dress I wore had worked its magic just like it always did with lonely, horny punters in spaceport hoping to get laid. Men or women – it didn’t really matter. If they gave me that look and offered to buy me a drink, I knew I had them. They all just assumed because I was sitting alone, shuffling a deck of cards, I was as lonely and as in need of entertainment as they were.

And then there was Rick Manning. He’d been doing his best for the past several galactic years to get me in bed. By now it had become a game between us. He flirted, and I let it roll right on over me. I liked the banter. I liked the fact that we had intelligent, often witty conversations, as well as a lot of laughs in between his flirtatious, but harmless, advances. It was what we did, the two of us. So why should I think anything was particularly different about last night? Yes, he showed up at my table before I could reel in some sucker willing to lose his shirt. And yes, when I tried to shoo him away, he offered to play a few hands with me as a warm-up – he said, and then he’d leave me to find another victim. It was a win-win. I could skin Manning of a few credits before he decided to give it up, and then get serious with someone who didn’t know me.

But he didn’t give it up. He just kept losing, and betting and losing again. Fuck me if the man didn’t lose everything he had, all of his life savings, right down to the last credit. I know this because the Notary kept asking if he was sure and reminding him that all notarized bets were legally binding. Still all he could do was chuckle.

“It’s your hair, Mac,” he said as he motioned over the notary yet again to transfer more credits to the indentured sub-account Captain Harker had set up for me. “When you wear that dress and let your hair down like that, of course a man’s gonna lose. And you, you little minx, that’s what you’re counting on, isn’t it?”

“I need the credits, Manning.” I leaned across the table and rubbed my fingers together under his nose in a gimme gesture. “Indentured here, remember? But if it’ll help,” I grabbed up the band that had secured the battered deck of cards and pulled my hair back in it. “The dress I can’t do anything about. The butler hasn’t brought my holiday wardrobe down from the Dubrovnik yet,” I joked.

“Helluva place to go on holiday,” he said, glancing around the Nine Tails. Then he leaned over the table and offered a smile that would have shamed the Suns of Valoxia. “Tell you what, one more hand and I’ll bet my jacket.” If you win, you can cover up a little bit and maybe give me an even chance. And if you lose,” he looked me up and down.

“I won’t,” I replied shoving the deck of cards across the table to him.

He took them and began to shuffle, his eyes locked on mine. “If you lose, then I get your clothes. All of them.”

“It’s just as well I’m gonna win then because you wouldn’t look good in this dress. Teal’s just not your color.”

He only chuckled as he dealt the cards.

In no time at all I was bundled up in a vintage flight jacket that Manning swore up and down was a real Terran relic he’d won in a poker game he’d apparently done much better in than he was doing in this one. He slugged back another New Hibernian whiskey and the barmaid, who bent so he got a good view down her bustier, brought him another one. I laid down enough credits to pay for my drinks and stood. “Gotta go, Manning. You’ve got nothing left I can win off of you, and I sure as hell don’t want the clothes off your back.”

“Not so fast, Mac.” His words weren’t exactly slurred, but getting pretty close. He blocked my exit with an extended leg, nodded back to my chair, and with a shrug of his shoulder sent the barmaid scurrying for another whiskey for me. “You can’t leave till I’ve had a chance to win back all my shit.”

“I can, and I will,” I said, stepping over his leg, but even half drunk, Manning was fast. He lifted his thigh, effectively high-centering me and ending me up in his lap. He curled thick fingers around a my makeshift pony tale and reeled me in. I remember thinking it strange that he smelled more like a man who’d been enjoying the great outdoors in the Parks of the Beledine than someone three sheets to the wind on cheap-assed whiskey. I even remember not minding his flirtations at the time, but then why would I when I was a free woman at last, one with a very nice jacket, even if it was considerably too big.

“I do have something I can bet.” His breath was warm against my ear, and I felt the buzz of my own generous alcohol consumption that made me think I just might take him up on what I figured he was about to offer me. It would be a nice addition to the drunken celebration of my freedom. After all, an indentured didn’t have a lot of free time for sex. When I did have the time, I was trying to win a few more credits toward my freedom.

“Oh that,” I nodded down to his lap and gave a little laugh. “I figure I can have that without wagering for it.”

The chuckle he returned sounded positively animal, and his lips quirked into a crooked smile. “While I can think of nothing I would enjoy more than a good shag in the sheets with you, Mac, that wouldn’t win me back my shit now would it?”

I was about to say that since he had nothing to offer I saw no point. I was about to walk out the door of the bar free and clear, go straight to Captain Harker, pay off the contract of my indenture and see what it felt like to sleep and wake up as a free woman. That’s what I should have done, in retrospect. But then Manning dropped the bomb.

“One more hand, Mac. Just one. Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.”

Fuck me! If he hadn’t been holding me, I would have fallen right onto the floor. Now I’m not a woman who’s often speechless, though as an indentured, I know when to keep my mouth shut. But this time, all I could do was make a couple of fish gasps. He gave me that look I was sure had gotten more than a few women into his bed. It had probably worked just as well getting him out of trouble with the authorities when his cargo was less than copasetic.

“What do you say, Mac? You up for it? I’m betting the Fury along with the next three contracts I have to fill.” He shrugged. “If I don’t have a ship, I can’t fill the contracts, right? Come on. Give me at least one more chance.”

“Your ship? You want to bet the Fury?” I stumbled off his lap all but falling on my ass before I made it back to my chair. He was already motioning the notary over.

In Pursuit of Mr. Sands Part 8: A KDG Consortium Story

Mondays are always happier when they start with a cheeky little read, and nobody is cheekier than Mr. Sands. Unless it’s Elise North.  Today is the final episode of this KDG Consortium story, in which we learn that there are those even cheekier than Mr. Sands and Elise North. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek into the lives of a few of the interesting people who work for Magda Gardener, AKA Medusa. There’ll always be more from Medusa and her crew and their stories. They have a lot to tell.

If you missed the last instalment of Mr. Sands, catch up with this link.



In Pursuit of Mr. Sands Part 8: You Got Lucky This Time

“You got lucky this time. Elise North could have ended up just like Danson.” Desiree Fielding came to stand next to Magda Gardener and nodded down to Detective Paul Danson’s comatose body in the hospital bed.

“Elise North knows what she’s doing.” Magda replied.

“Sands is an incubus. Elise North is only mortal. After these last few months, with what we’ve learned and what we face, mortals have no place in what’s happening now. There’ll be enough of them die without dragging them into your service.”

“You’re too young to know what it was like when all mortals were nothing more than just playthings for the gods or you would understand this is as much their battle as it is ours,” Magda said. “At this point any risk is worth taking, the way I see it. Anyway, you don’t give a shit about mortals. You’d have let Danson die.”

“I have nothing against mortals, but they’re just not equipped for the battle ahead of us, and Danson wouldn’t be in this situation if he hadn’t insisted on going in with us.” When the temperature in the room began to plummet as Magda let the woman know in no uncertain terms that her commentary was not welcome, Desiree raised her hands and stepped back. But the fire in her dark eye told Magda she wasn’t backing down. The steady beep beep beep of the life support monitors was plenty of confirmation for Magda that it was way past time for playing it safe. As far as Magda was concerned, her decision had been made. Elise North had proved herself over and over, and this time far more so than she realized. Though she didn’t tell Desiree that.

“Still,” Desiree flipped her black hair back over her shoulder, “Seems to me if you’re hunting an immortal, you’d be better off hiring an immortal to do the job.” She plopped herself down into the big wing backed chair across the room that nearly swallowed her delicate frame as she leaned back until her feet barely touched the floor. She wriggled about and settled as though she had every intention of lingering, which didn’t best please Magda, who hadn’t invited her in the first place. “Does she have any idea what she’s up against?”

“She’s finished the job with better results than even I could have hoped for, so yes. She handled it just fine, and I think it’s safe to say she knows what she’s up against.” No one knew what she’d be up against better than Elise North, Magda thought. Oh, she’d be more than ready when the time came to bring her in. However none of this was any of Desiree’s business just yet, but she’d always been meddlesome, hadn’t she? Glancing down at her watch, Magda made no effort to hide her impatience. “I know you’re a busy woman, Desiree. Don’t you have something to do?”

“I’m doing it. Don’t think I’m unaware that you lot’s battle won’t leave me and mine alone, even though we had nothing to do with any of you.” She heaved a sigh. “Some things never change, do they?”

“No. They don’t.”

Desiree stood and walked to credenza where several bottles of whisky and a couple of crystal glasses sat neatly arranged. She poured herself a hefty splash of expensive single malt, which irritated the hell out of Magda, since she knew the woman, being a vampire, could do little more than sniff it. “Oh, I’ve heard of this Elise North. I know her reputation. She’s been hired to investigate … friends of mine. I’ll admit she’s good, but your detective here was good too.”

“He didn’t know what he was up against.”

“You tried to warn him, but he wouldn’t listen. And this one, she’s so young, and you’re throwing her in at the deep end.”

“Elise North has lived a good bit of her life in the deep end.” Magda took the glass from Desiree’s hand and downed it in one gulp, which was as pity with good single malt.  Then she slapped the glass down with perhaps a bit more enthusiasm than was absolutely necessary.  “Sands was a waltz in the park. Sands was easy money for her, no history of violence, has a spotless record with the law and always leaves the situation better than he found it. Hell, I’d let him have at me in a New York minute.”

Desire snickered. “You, he wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. Me, though. He might be okay with me for a little change.”

Magda couldn’t keep the twitch of a smile from her face. Then she waved a dismissive hand. “There was never a time when Ms. North was in danger. I made sure of that, and I learned way more about him and incubi in general from Elise North than I ever thought. Some rather interesting, useful things, actually.”

Desiree shook her head, poured a fresh glass of whisky, and gave it a long appreciative sniff. “She’s cocky and overconfident from what I hear. That may serve her well for now, but you and I both know that Sands was nothing more than a test.”

“She might have been overconfident at one time, but like most of us, she’s learned her lesson the hard way. Now she’s just good at her job.” Magda moved to smooth the blanket over the slow rise and fall of Detective Danson’s chest again.

“I don’t see how this Sands can somehow help Danson. You’d be better off saving your money and bringing in Talia to get inside his head. If you want my opinion.”

“I don’t,” Magda replied, without taking her eyes off the detective. Once again, she looked down at her watch, then nodded to the door. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m expecting a call from Ms. North in a few minutes.”

Desiree raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow, sniffed her whisky one more time, then sat it down on the credenza and turned to go. At the door she stopped and turned back. “I had my people in London on stand-by in case things went pear-shaped with your little private investigator.” Then she left.

“Cheeky cow.” Magda mumbled. She smiled as she lingered over the whisky the woman had left. As if she hadn’t known Desiree has been meddling. The vampire might be a meddlesome bitch at times, but Magda had known her long enough to know when she was predictable, and for some reason, Desiree had a soft spot for the young detective, which would be a good thing in the days ahead. Still, she was always happy to let Desiree and her people help out, equally happy to let the woman think she didn’t know anything about it. That was one less thing for her to worry about. And there was no shortage of things to worry about. But thankfully, Elise North wasn’t one of them. When the time came, she’d pull her into the consortium. Eventually she might send someone else to tail Sands when he surfaced again, but not Elise North. She was far too valuable.


In Pursuit of Mr. Sands Part 7: A KDG Consortium Story

Mondays are always happier when they start with a cheeky little read, and nobody is cheekier than Mr. Sands. Unless it’s Elise North.  Today is the seventh instalment of In Pursuit of Mr. Sands.  As I said,  I’ve been in pursuit of Mr. Sands for quite some time now, and somehow he always manages to elude me. And surprise me. Just recently he made another titillating appearance, only to lead me on a merry chase. I lost him in North Africa somewhere and ended up recovering in Delphi, where I met up with some unexpected acquaintances. (More on that to come. )Never mind. There are worse places to end up, and I’m sure Mr. Sands will raise his oh so fascinating head again when I least expect him.

But for now, Elise finds Mr. Sands hanging out in Soho, not doing what she expected him to do.

If you missed the last instalment of Mr. Sandscatch up with this link.


In Pursuit of Mr. Sands Part 7: The Note

It was the sun streaming through the bedroom window that woke me up the next morning, or rather it was early afternoon. I opened my eyes and looked around me, stretching and yawning. For the first time in a long time I actually felt rested. There had been no dreams, no night terrors, there had been no waking in the night wondering where the hell I was. I knew exactly where I was, and I knew that I had not dreamed what had happened last night – none of it.

I woke clear-headed, as I had trained myself to do years ago when I realized that my gift could either be used to my benefit, or it could get me killed. There had been plenty of times when it could have easily gone either way. But the worst, by far, had been when Dru had been possessed by the demon. I barely survived the experience, and Dru did not. Since then, I had lived a cautious half-life, not really sure if I even wanted to live, but very certain I did not want to die at the hands of a demon or anything else that went bump in the night. And I certainly had no desire to end it myself. So I had carried on. Losing myself in my work seemed to be the only thing that kept me from my own dark thoughts. And then Mr. Sands had come along, Mr. Sands, who was no longer in my bed.

I threw back the duvet to find that I was still fully dressed. But we’d not needed to lose our clothes last night, had we? My heart raced as I recalled our encounter, as I recalled Dru’s visit, Dru saying that Mr. Sands had actually sent him. I was out of bed and racing to the lounge, where everything was pretty much exactly as I had left it before I let Mr. Sands in, empty pizza box, multiple coffee cups and a half-eaten bagel. That is everything, but the fact that I knew I was alone.  I wasn’t just alone in the flat, I no longer had a neighbor I was tailing. Mr. Sands was gone. I could feel it, as I always felt the absence of magic that was somehow like ambient noise in my life. I had learned to ignore the tiny little bit that barely buzzed in all humans, but someone like Mr. Sands, well his magic felt a bit like the neighbor who always had his music up just a little too loud. Only in Sand’s case, it was nice music, music I wanted to hum along to, and this morning it was gone.

I stood for a long time staring out the window across to his flat where I could see the cleaners at work. I won’t deny that I was disappointed to find him gone, to have lost the man I was supposed to be tailing, but then again, he had been my job, and I had crossed the line last night in a way I never did, never had before. I knew myself well enough to know that if he’d stayed, it wouldn’t have gotten any easier to keep my distance. Still going over in my head all that had happened last night and wondering how to best edit it in my report to Magda Gardener, I made myself a cup of coffee and turn to find a note on the kitchen table.

Dearest Ms. North,

While it saddens me deeply and makes me feel rather cowardly to bolt in the middle of the night after our delicious, and meaningful encounter, I fear that to remain would do neither of us any good. I believe we have both lived our lives with a great deal of control, and that control has kept us both safe. Last night we both lost that control, and while I do not, nor could I ever, regret our time together, I am not so naïve as to believe either of us would benefit from pursuing it further.

I have hidden nothing from you, dear woman, and I am well aware that your job is to find out all you can about me. I have certainly revealed far more of myself than I have to any other equal in my long existence. In fact, I have delighted in revealing myself to you, and I will take a great deal of pleasure in fantasizing about you sharing what you’ve learned from our encounter. I wish you well, Ms. North, dear Elise, and I would ask that you make no attempt to follow me. While you, if anyone, might be able to trail me, I do not think it would be advisable for either of our good. Let me just say, that I have made the Redeye flight from New York to London many times, but never has that journey ended with such delights as this one has. Thank you, dear Elise. May you find what you have lost.

With deepest respect,

Daniel Sands

I toasted a bagel and sat at the kitchen table while I read over Mr. Sands’ note again and thought about what to tell Magda Gardener. I had a feeling the woman would be delighted with what had happened last night. I would have felt offended at her tossing me into this little experiment without my know it if I hadn’t enjoyed it so much, if I hadn’t been well rewarded for the experience. And yet, it was personal. While I suspected she knew about what had happened with Dru and the demon, which in itself made me nervous that she knew so much about me, I still didn’t want to have a girlie chat about last night’s encounter with a woman who I’d never met and wasn’t really sure I wanted to. Without giving myself time to think, I picked up the phone and pulled up Magda Gardener’s number. She answered on the first ring.

“I lost him,” I said without even a greeting.

“I wondered how long it would take.” She spoke as though it didn’t surprise her in the least. “What happened?”

When I didn’t immediately reply, she waited a moment longer, almost long enough for me to think the connection had been broken before she replied. “Ah. You had sex.”

“No! No, we didn’t. Not exactly.”

“Semantics.” She sounded neither surprised of angry. “Tell me, Elise, did you not suspect it might happen?”

“I’ll give you a full analysis in my report.” I managed.

“I’m asking you now, did you suspect it? Hope for it?”

And then I twigged. “It doesn’t matter if I did. You did, didn’t you?”

“When you’ve been around as long as I have, gaming situations out is as automatic as breathing. I couldn’t imagine either of you not being far too curious to at least see what would happen.” Then she added quickly. “Oh don’t worry about your job. I’d already told you that a part of your job was to see what happened when an incubus was confronted with someone he could not affect, when you could encounter someone as powerful as an incubus without ending up his lunch.”

“I’m not a specimen to be observed, Ms. Gardener,” I bristled.

“No, you’re not, but you are the only person in the world I know of who can observe from the outside and walk away unscathed.”

I laughed. “I don’t walk away unscathed, Ms. Gardener, not even close.”

There was another long pause. “No, you don’t do you?” There was another pause. “The flat is yours until the end of the week. Finish up your report, tie up any loose ends you need to. Don’t leave out anything no matter how uncomfortable.”

I forced a laugh. “What, you want a blow by blow?”

“I do, Ms. North. That’s what I’m paying you for, and no, I don’t get off on your sex life, but right now, you can’t easily imagine how important those details might be down the road.”

Down the road. I didn’t quite know why those word sent a chill down my spine, but I shuddered.

Thank you, Elise, for another job well done. Oh, and do take some time to enjoy London. It would be a pity to missed out on such a lovely city.” She disconnected, leaving me sitting there staring at the phone.