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Authors: Kate Lynd

Tags: #Post Apocalyptic Erotic Romance

Gladiator

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Back Cover

A Post Apocalyptic Erotic Romance Novel by Kate Lynd

 

Ten years ago Tristan Shane had failed to pick sides and he paid with the ultimate price—his family. Enslaved as a post-apocalyptic gladiator, he is now faced with a similar dilemma, serve the despot Queen and murder her innocent sister, or face certain death himself. What will he choose?

Tristan Shane was a moderate before the nuclear and economic crisis which plunged the world into darkness. While his sister Aidia ran off to fight the rebel’s war he desperately tried to hang onto normalcy, and lost his wife and children in the process. Spending the next ten years as the Crown’s favored and the mob’s favorite Gladiator, he never expects to meet the Queen’s sister, Alexandra, a Healer.

She claims to be the much whispered about Savior sent to heal the wounded Earth and oceans, the one who would bring about her cruel sister’s dethroning. But is she? Or is she just a fraud? But he quickly learns her erotic touch has the power to heal his heart and his to save her life. But as the passion heightens and the danger increases will they have forever or will he have to give up everything to save the planet?

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Gladiator

 

 

 

Kate Lynd

 

 

MuseItHOT, division of

MuseItUp Publishing

www.museituppublishing.com

ADULT CONTENT: Contains graphic sexual content.

 

 

 

 

PART ONE

 

Chapter One

 

Tristan Shane was covered in his opponent’s blood.

As he was led back to his cell, he knew that the adrenaline rush he got from a successful battle for the Crown’s entertainment would be capped with a visit from the Queen of the States.

Veronica was as devilish as she was beautiful. Since life as a favored Gladiator was something he’d become accustomed to, he was looking forward to another reward. Like clockwork, she arrived dressed in the finest of silks and jewelry, with drink and food in tow.

Life as a Gladiator wasn’t something he’d planned on. He doubted anyone in the prison, man or woman, had envisaged being violently separated from their families and imprisoned. Made to fight for the predilection of the mob that the United States had become in the wake of economic collapse and the inability to come together, he’d hardened his heart to the world around him. United we stand…divided, the States had fallen to the greedy and the wealthy few.

Tristan had been a blue-collar truck driver, struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over his wife’s and children’s heads.

Kentucky had been one of the first states to fall amidst the chaos. In their inability to cope with the aftermath, the military had come and seen a strong man and a weak woman. They had separated them. His children had been sent to labor camps. His wife had been raped and murdered in front of him. As a Gladiator, he only lived to fight. When Veronica came to him it was supposed to be an honor. The queen, however, was not a kind-hearted woman. She only lived to satiate her own wants and desires.

As the cell door opened she flicked her fingers to dismiss the guards, and pushed the plate of food toward him. “My darling Warrior, you must keep up your strength. You have a long night in front of you.”

Tristan wasn’t one for the queen’s games. He knew the other Gladiators she favored with her time were, though. Some of them accepted her lies. Like the one that if they just capitulated to her desires long enough, they would attain their freedom and that of their family. Tristan knew, however, that this empty promise was the biggest lie of all, and simply didn’t care enough to play that particular game.

“What is it you want, Veronica?”

She leaned in close and whispered seductively, “Why, you know I only want you, Tristan.”

He snatched her up by her throat and pinned her against the wall and kissed her passionately, brutally, and without clemency. When he pulled away she was smiling with a darkness that made him angry. She was a power-hungry mongrel who played on her husband’s weaknesses and jealousies. Tristan hated her. And he hated himself for fucking her. But this was his life. He let go of her and walked away.

“Is my poor Gladiator jealous? There’s really no need for that, is there? You know you’re my favorite.”

“What is it you
really
want, Veronica?”

She came up behind him and seductively began to ease off his armor. He was covered in sweat and blood and he felt her shiver against his body. And as always there was a twinge of nausea that would precede the raw animal aggression.

She turned him around. He looked at her. There was no doubt about it; she was beautiful. But she was poisonous—a rattlesnake with crystal green eyes and flaming red hair. Her father had promised peace and a return to normalcy and democracy in the wake of economic and nuclear disaster, and instead this was what had become of the world. And she was no doubt always enjoining her father to maintain her life in this fashion. He loathed her. He detested her. And every time he had sex with her his intense hatred for himself deepened a little bit more.

“My dear, sweet Gladiator, as much as I’d like to celebrate your victory with you tonight, my husband wishes me to share his bed. But fear not—I do have a consolation prize for you.”

His skin began to crawl. Veronica had a twisted way of looking at what constituted a consolation prize; it was usually just a groupie who wanted to watch what the queen did with the equivalent of rock stars of the former United States of America. And he usually did the dog and pony show. But sometimes Veronica required something to prove his loyalty to her. That would be more complicated.

“What is it this time?”

She smiled. His response had given her the mistaken impression that he cared.

“The rebels have been restless. And it seems there is a young woman we have in our prison whom they want terribly. Well, frankly, they are in two minds as to what to believe. It is rumored she is the mythical Healer. The one meant to find her soul mate, so together they will lead our Nation out of the so-called darkness into which it has plunged itself.”

“And what do you want me to do?”

“Oh, Tristan, why are you being so defensive? I just want you to find out whether she really is the Healer, and report to me if she is.”

“And then, what?”

“And then you let me handle it,” Veronica said, sliding back into the evil skin that was her natural state. “The rebels have no idea what it takes to run a country.”

The image of his wife being raped and murdered flooded him and it was all he could do not to throttle the queen right then and there.

“So can I count on you to do this for me or do I need to find someone else who can?”

He was no one’s hero. But she had said
young woman
. And he couldn’t just allow his wife’s fate to be visited upon some other unsuspecting girl. “I’ll do what I can.”

Veronica ran her index finger down his cheek and whispered, “Good boy, Tristan,” she purred. “Guard! She’ll be delivered before the night is over. I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to you, but I expect that you’ll have had enough time to gain her trust by then.”

Tristan’s stomach churned. The Healer? In the beginning there had been whispers of it. But he had never believed in such a thing. It had been years since the crown had feared anything. And now this. He said nothing as the queen was escorted away. He was left to think about the young woman he might be forced to turn over in the end.

* * * *

Veronica had been gone long enough for him to satiate his hunger and to prepare for his shower when the woman was brought to him. There was a sack over her head, and she was limp in the two guards’ arms as they dragged her down the corridor and finally dumped her into his cell.

As she crumpled to the ground one of the guards gave him a strange look, as if he couldn’t believe what was to come next. The other guard handed him a knife and said, “If she’s the Healer, slit her throat. The queen wants nothing left to chance.”

Tristan tucked the knife into his boot. The guards walked away, one of them looking over his shoulder in that strange, sad way. A moan and then a sob emanated from the hooded woman and he slowly knelt to the ground, and gently pulled the bag from her head.

She’d been badly beaten. No doubt the royal court had ordered her interrogated. She looked young. She must have been in her mid to late twenties. She began to cough and gag and gasp.

He thought of his Hope and how she’d been mistreated; it still hurt him. The realization Veronica had asked him to gain this girl’s trust only to be her executioner if she were the mythical Healer was ghastly to him.

The girl’s eyes opened. Staring straight into them he could see a roiling mix of fear, anger, and disorientation. She opened her mouth to scream and instinctively he clamped his hand down over it. If he had let her scream it would have drawn the attention of the guards. They might have assumed he had discovered what they wanted him to, and that he had just murdered her. Unwanted interest while he decided just what it was that he wanted to do was something neither he nor the girl needed.

Her hands wrapped around his wrist and she struggled for her release. Somehow, he had to convince her he wasn’t going to harm her. He had to get a better idea of who she was—beyond someone who posed a real or imagined risk to the queen and her despot father.

“I’m not going to hurt you. But you have to stop fighting me. Otherwise the guards will come again. I know this goes against everything in you right now, but you’re going to have to trust me.”

She closed her eyes and went very, very still. She nodded, almost imperceptibly, and he gently lifted his hand from her mouth. She was pale and as fragile-looking as the china on which Veronica always served his victory meals. He felt a bitter ache as he recalled holding his wife one last time before the military had dragged him from her side. It had been devastating.

The young woman trembled as she struggled to roll over and crawl away into the corner of his cell. She chanted in an archaic tongue in between heart-wrenching sobs. Her grief reached out and into his chest.

From the darkened shadows of the cell, as far away from the door as possible, she looked at him. Tristan felt an empathy with this girl as if they’d known one another all their lives. She curled up in a ball and looked up over her knees at him with such sorrow it made him ache in his chest. She fascinated him. For the last ten years he’d had no loyalties. Not to the Crown—not even to himself. He’d lived his life recklessly and as Gladiator he lived the favored life of a rock star. And as King of the Rock Stars he’d been privy to the queen’s more devious plots.

Looking at this scared young woman with the long dark hair and amber eyes he could not tell whether she was the Healer or not. But he knew she was scared, hurt and angry. And beautiful. Not in the in-your-face way Veronica was. But pretty in the other-worldly way a lot of girls were; girls with a defiant spirit in the face of no hope at all. His wife Hope had been that way, too.

Tristan poured a goblet of wine and tore a chunk off the loaf he’d been wolfing down, and crept toward her. “Here,” he said, kneeling down next to her and holding them out. “Take these. You look hungry and thirsty.”

She eyes him suspiciously but reached for the wine and bread. If he had wanted to be cruel, he would have asked for her name before he allowed her to take them. But he didn’t want to be hard on this girl. She was thoroughly different from the groupies who were paraded in and out of his cell on a daily basis. He was the answer to all their base and dark desires. In this girl’s case he might be destined to be her mortal enemy.

As she scarfed the bread and guzzled the wine, Tristan asked, “What’s your name?”

She gave him a puzzled look but said nothing. Her eyes darted around the cell as she seemed to be trying to orientate herself to her surroundings. “My sister is a big fan. She comes to you often, doesn’t she?”

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