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Authors: Viola Grace

Tags: #Romance, #Shapeshifter, #Paranormal, #science fiction Opera

Judged

BOOK: Judged
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A social Companion ends up married, widowed and hunted in the space of days. Hiding with a strange shapeshifter is just the perfect end to the week.

 

 

Alice has walked through halls of power at the sides of some of the most powerful men and women in the Nyal Imperium. Her position as a Companion puts her in places she never imagined, including a world that is being evacuated so it can give itself a facelift.

Her client wills her a house, fortune and title on his home world, which means that the moment he passes away, she is in deep.

Going to the Oefric for judgement, Alice finds her accounts frozen pending further investigation, and she has to run for her life as her husband’s family puts a hit out on her.

Kadenz wanted to retire, but when the judge sends Alice to him as housekeeper, he is fascinated by her grace, her poise and her ability to stab him in the ass with a fork.

 

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

 

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Judged

Copyright © 2014
Viola Grace

ISBN: 978-1-77111-872-9

Cover art by Martine Jardin

 

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

 

Published by eXtasy Books

Look for us online at:

www.eXtasybooks.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judged

A Terran Times Tale

 

 

By

 

 

Viola Grace

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Alice Pinkerton fidgeted in her client’s office. Her elaborate gown rustled as she moved.

“Have a seat, Alice. You are distracting me.”

Ambassador Horilian gave her a look that told her he was not going to ask again. His normally affable features were in stern lines.

Alice sat near the window and watched the evacuation as it ground to a conclusion. The ambassador had hired a Companion to keep him company during the final days of his time on Geewing. He had known all along that they would be the last two people on the planet and had wanted to make sure he had a Companion of his choosing.

“The ships are just about gone, Alice. We will be able to leave shortly.”

“Yes, Ambassador.” She toyed with the edge of her beaded bodice. The ambassador insisted that she always dress formally while she was with him.

He completed whatever he was working on and sent the coded information to the imperium archives. “There. We can go now. The final scans are done and the planet of Geewing is closed. It can renovate itself the moment we leave.”

Alice came around the table and helped him up without him asking.

The ambassador accepted her help silently, and they left the soundless city with slow, measured steps.

“I have extended your contract, Alice. You are coming home with me so that I can enjoy my last days.”

She smiled, “I am sure that you have many days to come.”

“I am guessing around thirty or less. I want to go home, relax and pass away on my own world. You are taking me home to die, pet.”

His smile was familiar, but he looked tired.

“I know you are quite old, but why are you so convinced that you are going to die?”

“I can feel it, pet. Four hundred years is plenty, and I have an extensive family and many memories that I want you to record in the next few weeks.”

“Is that why you extended my contract, so I could be a secretary?”

“No, I want you with me during my last days. It is on file. You have been the best Companion I have had in the last fifty years. These last six months have been a light moment in my life, and I want to go out with that light around me.”

Alice sighed. “I am honoured. Come along. Let’s get you into the shuttle and then to Dyango.”

“You are a blessing, Alice. A better pilot I could never have wished for.”

She snorted. “You picked me very carefully and don’t think I am not grateful. The other offer for me was…distasteful.”

“So you have said. I am glad that it was a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

She walked him to the ambassadorial shuttle and slipped inside to check the systems while he sealed the door behind him.

Ambassador Horilian was moving around in the back.

Alice ran the system checks and filed her flight plan with the orbital satellites. When the gel bed flicked into blue mode, she knew that Horilian had settled his brittle bones into his safe cocoon.

She opened the interior coms. “We are leaving. Buckle up.”

“I don’t have buckles in here, Alice. Take us home.”

Alice grinned and geared up the shuttle, gaining speed and lifting off with the lightest touch. It was her skill with flight that first got the ambassador’s attention. He had needed a private pilot. When her body had met his general species specifications, it was her skills and her interest in sociology and anthropology that cinched her contract. Being at his side would benefit her beyond the financial and that is what he had wished for her.

Dyango was a small distance away and an amalgamation of settled colonies. The ambassador had been elected by the colonies to represent them off world, and Geewing was his post until it closed.

The sensors in the surface showed that the planet was beginning its transformation. Geewing was shifting poles and creating more green spaces. It wanted to be home to people that thrived, not just a trading hub. Geewing, via a gathering of telepaths who could take the weight of its mind, communicated with those on the surface and asked them to leave. It explained its desires and shared the plan. With no other choice, the evacuation began and Alice got her contract.

Flying in a formal gown was a challenge that she had never counted on mastering, but it was demanded of her, so she did it. She pulled them out of the gravity of Geewing and set their course to Dyango.

It was a short hop from one world to the other via the jump site. Four hours of star flight and then the jump and another six hours would see them to Dyango. She had four hours to kill before she put on the halo that would link her to the ship and the ship to the far side of the jump.

She hummed softly to herself, knowing that the sound would reach Horilian in his gel and sooth him.

Many folk assumed that Companions were whores—and many were—other Companions were chosen for their particular skill set. Alice was a skilled Companion.

When Alice left Earth for the first and last time, she had immediately gravitated to the courier field. She was assessed, and it was determined that she would be more of an asset in the Companion arena. It was not something that she had imagined before leaving her home, but two years of university and no true calling let her take their suggestion, and she made a demand of her own. Flight lessons.

Alice was one of the few Companions that could fly nineteen types of standard transport and every type of ground vehicle, as well as dance in all manners known to the Nyal Imperium.

Her study of social behaviours had become a survival technique that gave her honour and skill at her profession. When she had been assessed, it had been determined that her hand-to-hand combat skill would make her a good choice for the Nyal Imperium where plots and scheming were still in their prime and, in some cases, actively encouraged. She had fit right in and none of her clients had ever come to harm in her company.

Alice continued humming as she rose from her seat and went to her closet. Landing on Dyango would require a different formal outfit. The planet was a bit more rough and ready. She needed to dress the part.

 

Ten hours later, she settled the ship on the private pad outside Horilian’s home.

“We have landed outside your home, Ambassador.”

He chuckled and the light flickered, indicating the opening of the tube. “Ambassador no more. Now I am merely Hecor Horilian. Call me Hecor, Alice.”

She waited until she heard his footfalls on the deck plates before she got up from the pilot’s station. He always felt vulnerable at having to hide in the soft embrace of the sealed gel beds, so she left him alone until he was up and moving around.

Alice picked up their luggage and set it next to the exterior hatch. She would come back to the shuttle and bring it in in the night. The ambassador hated folks to see her carrying his things, but he didn’t trust anyone else with them.

She opened the hatch, and he offered his arm. She let her hand rest lightly on his forearm and stepped out into the crowd that had gathered to welcome him home.

The bird people of the Kalian colony were happy to greet him and welcome him for his last days.

 

“This is ridiculous.” Alice paced back and forth next to Hecor’s bed.

“It is done.”

She blinked away tears. “I don’t want it to be done.”

He patted the side of his bed. “Come and sit. You make me nervous when you clomp around.”

Alice settled on his bed, and he reached out to take her hand. She held his delicate digits gingerly. He looked nearly human but incredibly long and lean. He weighed less than a quarter of her own form but was a foot taller. His cheeks had hollowed since they arrived and his hair whitened. He was beginning to look every day of his four hundred years.

“I have wed you, Alice. In Dyango records, you and I are soul mates, bonded mates. I have made no mention of consummation, nor shall you. You will inherit a good stipend and this house. I hope that you will stay on Dyango. It is a good world and you need a home, Alice.”

He released her hand and stroked her cheek lightly.

His grandson Corion chose that moment to arrive.

Hecor looked to Corion. “You have taken your time.”

Alice blinked at the harsh tone.

“I was told that you had wed your Companion, and I wanted to see for myself.” Corion looked at Alice with distaste.

Hecor stroked her cheek again. “You are seeing it. Alice has been much more than my Companion, and if I could do one thing, it would be to make an honest woman out of her.”

She smiled and blinked away tears. “I am always honest, Hecor.”

“I know, but you need the protection that my name will give you, and so I have given it. It was the least I could do for your faultless assistance.”

Corion spluttered. “You made her a duchess because she worked as your assistant?”

Alice frowned at Hecor, “Duchess?”

He shrugged weakly. “It went with the house. Besides, Alice Pinkerton Horilian, Duchess of Kalian, has a nice sound to it. You know how I love sounds.”

She teared up again and took the hint, humming softly to him in a Nyal lullaby.

He nodded off, and Corion looked like he wanted to continue the fight.

Alice rose to her feet, tucked Hecor’s hand under the covers and she left the room.

Corion followed her, seething.

The moment they were out in the hall with the door closed behind them, he grabbed her arm. “What do you think you are doing?”

“I am tending to my friend as he dies.”

“You manipulated him into marrying you.”

She scowled. “I did not. He told me about it today. When did he do it by the way?”

Corion blinked, “Last week. I just got the news today.”

“Well then, he will be gone soon and you can press to have the agreement dissolved. I will return to the stars and you can squat here like a toad.”

She jerked her arm free of his grip and returned to Hecor’s side. She would remain on Dyango as long as he needed her. There was no home for her here.

 

Chapter Two

 

 

The city of Yazku was bright, open, and an Oefric colony. It was the most neutral of sites for the court case and therefore the place that Alice had to come.

Corion and the nineteen other heirs were fighting for the duchess title. What had started as a small issue where Alice was willing to give up the title had turned into a fight where she had to wait until the heirs had fought for it amongst themselves before she would be allowed to rescind her claim.

Alice wore what amounted to a designer bodysuit. She was abiding by the Kalian regulations for mourning, so her hair was pinned up in a bun and everything but her face was covered when she went out.

Her makeup was mourning makeup, so dark lips and gold and white around her eyes.

BOOK: Judged
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