Read Steel Dominance Online

Authors: Cari Silverwood

Tags: #Fantasy, #Erotic Romance, #bdsm, #Steampunk

Steel Dominance

BOOK: Steel Dominance
6.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

The Steamwork Chronicles 3:

STEEL DOMINANCE

 

 

Cari Silverwood

 

 

 

www.loose-id.com

The Steamwork Chronicles 3: Steel Dominance

Copyright © January 2013 by Cari Silverwood

All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

 

eISBN 9781623001018

Editor: Crystal Esau

Cover Artist: April Martinez

 

Published in the United States of America

Loose Id LLC

PO Box 809

San Francisco CA 94104-0809

www.loose-id.com

 

This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Warning

This e-book contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers. Loose Id LLC’s e-books are for sale to adults ONLY, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

* * * *

DISCLAIMER: Please do not try any new sexual practice, especially those that might be found in our BDSM/fetish titles without the guidance of an experienced practitioner. Neither Loose Id LLC nor its authors will be responsible for any loss, harm, injury or death resulting from use of the information contained in any of its titles.

Dedication

Once again I owe a great debt of gratitude to many people. Firstly, a thank-you to my wonderful beta readers, MJ, Bianca Sarble, and Sorcha Black.

Leia Shaw stuck by me as my crit partner for six or seven months while I assembled the big jigsaw that is
Steel Dominance.

Both Nerine Dorman and Candace Blevins gave me impromptu and very helpful beta reads of the completed book.

And Cherise Sinclair came through like a cleansing storm after I thought I had everything perfect and shone her light in the dark, messy corners.

Though my fingers tremble whenever I send a book to her, I am in awe of her writing skills.

Thank you to everyone who helped.

Chapter One

Salonika, a coastal city in the Hellene Nation.

To Dankyo, from six hundred feet up, the fleet of spotlighted ironclads in Salonika’s harbor seemed as imposing as rubber ducks in a bathtub. He turned from his sightseeing and wrapped his fingers about the thick gold rope that ran up to the balloon, bracing himself against the push of the wind. The partygoers on this opulent gondolier airship were getting into the mood of these early New Year celebrations. Eleven o’clock by his pocket watch. The overhead blue and yellow voltaic lights swayed and sent shadows tilting.

The ambassador from Byzantium had brought his own entertainment. Two slave girls rose gracefully from their kneeling position at the clap of his hands. Both were veiled beneath their eyes by fine silver mesh. The other guests, in their suits and flamboyant gowns, moved to the edges of the gondolier.

One of the side effects of being an expert advisor for the Hellene government was receiving invitations to soirees like this. So long as he didn’t have to talk, this was pleasant.

Dankyo settled his back against the padded timber. The farthest slave with the short brunette hair reminded him of Kirsten. He snagged a glass of wine off the tray of a passing waiter. Sadness wasn’t him. Neither of them had suited the other. After a few weeks of Kirsten’s craziness, he’d wanted to throw someone off a cliff. The woman had been all into appearances and boasting to her friends as if he was some sort of prize. And too clingy. If there was a woman out there for him, leastways he now knew it wasn’t the fun, dizzy type.

He hoped that one day Kirsten would find a man who could match her, but it wasn’t going to be him. Being with her had been like being drowned in a vat of syrup.

What’s left? The serious, well-grounded sort? Someone who won’t scare too easily? Someone I can tease off their pedestal? Or drag off
. There was no one, never had been. Yet for a heart-stopping moment, in his mind’s eye, he saw a woman’s lust-darkened eyes looking up at him.
God. Yes.

It took a few seconds for the thud of his pulse to settle.

Sipping the tangy Riesling, he watched the second slave undulate to the wavering music of the sitar. A black braid of hair hung to her waist, swaying and whipping in circles to the music. Even her full breasts moved. The mesh and fine silk of her costume revealed enough of her figure to make him sharpen his gaze. Someone else’s, a slave, but desirable. Her long neck begged a man to set his teeth there.

Ever since Claire had showed him the possibilities, this new appreciation of women distracted him far too much. Thanks to her, he knew some women craved submission as much as he craved the reverse. So now he could watch her together with his commander, Theodore Kevonis, and envy their love for each other even more than he would have if ignorant. Though some days he still wanted to take Claire out and have her shot by firing squad. Pestiferous woman. They got on well in general, though. After all, she could strip a rifle and put it back together before most of his men could blink.

Not that he wanted a woman like that in his bed.

Dankyo swallowed more wine while admiring the dancing slaves. Damn life for setting him these challenges. Having an itch he couldn’t figure out how to scratch was irritating. People were best savored at a distance—some of them from an extremely long distance.

Light boomed, sprinkled, and blazed across the night sky.

The sitar faltered, and cheers and shouts broke forth from the guests as they turned to see what happened far below. Something burned bright as day and whistled skyward in rainbow colors.

Fireworks. Dankyo’s well-trained brain didn’t fail him. Early fireworks set off down among the ironclad battleships. A distraction. Why?

A tiny squeak made him look at the ambassador, who was staggering backward, hand at his chest. A small knife had sprouted there. Blood spread across his white shirt.

Assassination. No one near the man. The direction of the blade and a glimpse of the raven-haired slave told him where to run. He flung aside the glass and took off from his toes, his good leather shoes bending as he reached for the woman’s arm.

Their eyes met above the veil. With a miniscule shake of her head, and amusement in her eyes, she spun on her heel and sprinted for the far edge of the gondolier.

Did she mock him? His fingers closed on air, and he tore after her, barely two steps behind. Disbelieving, he saw her dive for the edge, flip into a somersault, and vanish. His shoes skidded. He grabbed at a rope to stop himself.

Something dropped with a crack and creak from the belly of the gondolier airship—a black thing, spinning. Then, in the flickering light of explosions and with moonlight painting splashes of silver, he saw wings snap out from the falling object—it slipped sideways, then soared into the night, smooth as an owl on a predatory errand.

“What in all the heavens,” he whispered. Admiration stung his voice. My God, the woman had stored a collapsible craft on the underside and used it to escape.

Dankyo contemplated the dark sky and wondered where the pretty killer was headed. Even if he wasn’t on duty, he’d let his guard down while he pondered about women and sex. This death seemed partly his fault. But enough wallowing in self-doubt. He never dwelled on the past unless he could learn from it.

Something told him morning would not spell the end of this matter. He was due to return to duties as head of security at House Kevonis, but this would put the cat among the pigeons.

The young Byzantine ruler, the Emperor-Bey Constantin, would be outraged at the assassination of his ambassador. From what Dankyo had heard, the ambassador had been here in Salonika to beg for aid. The politics of Byzantium were already as twisted as a bowl of spaghetti. Whoever this enemy was of the emperor-bey’s, they had employed a most efficient assassin.

* * * *

Byzantium. Capital of the long-besieged Byzantine Empire.

“Is it done?” the emperor-bey asked, barely glancing at his assassin, Xiang. He strolled the hill-top gardens that evening with a heavy coat of wolf fur about his shoulders. The high and open audience chamber of colonnades and white domed roof had always been a favorite of his.

The cries of gulls making a last run along the Bosporus river were almost lost in the whine of the winds. He drew the top of the coat closer. If he’d not had this need for secrecy, one of his women might have warmed him.

Xiang, all fine in her black armor and gray leggings, stepped closer. “Yes, Your Serenity. It is done. He died well enough to attract attention.”

“Good!” The emperor-bey slapped his palm on the stone balustrade, leaning a forearm on it as he surveyed what lay below. “I have already requested aid from the Brito-Gallics and the Hellene Nation to stop the evil Ottoman attacks. Of course that woman, Sofia White, also has to be quietly requested. You did well there, finding her. If her ideas are right, I can spit in the faces of the Heraklos. Trample on their graves even.” He smiled, staring across the rooftops of the city at the river six hundred feet below.

“Yes. Her theory of the Clockwork Warrior is intriguing.”

“Xiang, I can tell when you are scheming. You don’t move. You don’t smile. You’re like a hell-damned statue.”

He eyed his best guard, his assassin extraordinaire who also happened to have a damn fine brain and body. Not that he’d ever want her in his bed. Slaves were far safer than this snakelike woman who could slice a man to shreds in seconds and then drink tea without putting a digit wrong.

“Ah.” But now Xiang did move. One eyelid flickered. “I found a man I want.”

“Oh? To bed?” Well, Xiang had a heart after all, or at least the right parts between her legs. “Who? Why?”

“His name is Dankyo. I want him here so I can decide whether to kill him or not. May I?”

“Of course. You may. So long as it does not interfere with this new exploration of the Clockwork Warrior puzzle.”

“Thank you, Your Serenity.” Xiang bowed her head.

He inclined his head, smiling.

To be the one who orchestrated the solution of the ancient puzzle would truly place him among the greatest of rulers. And if that solution led to him acquiring a blueprint for an army of clockwork warriors, all the better. Soon the Ottomans and the Heraklos would tremble at his approach.

Chapter Two

Dankyo swiped his hand down his face. Three months since the assassin escaped, a whole file cabinet of political maneuverings later, and here he was…no murderer caught, but the president of the Hellene Nation had requested Dankyo’s help with the Byzantine situation. He adjusted his seat on the suitcase. The incoherent bustle of Salonika’s airfield threatened to explode his brain if he had to stay sitting here any longer.

The airships either left early or late and the bearers and luggage handlers and ticket office were swamped by buzzing swarms of tourists and other civilians with such urgent needs to travel that they had to shout everything. Screaming children and piddling dogs had taken over the one cafe that was open at six a.m. And he was stuck waiting for another civilian. A woman. Here he was, heading into a war zone, albeit the boring stagnant one at Byzantium, and he had a woman assigned to him.
Damnation.

BOOK: Steel Dominance
6.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Thy Neighbor's Wife by Gay Talese
Songs of Christmas by Thomas Kinkade
The Kingdom of Gods by N. K. Jemisin
Protector (Copper Mesa Eagles Book 3) by Roxie Noir, Amelie Hunt
Good Medicine by Bobby Hutchinson
Devall's Angel by Allison Lane
Shadow Silence by Yasmine Galenorn
Proxy: An Avalon Novella by Mindee Arnett
False Premises by Leslie Caine