In this scene from For Women Only, Khyff has received a notereader (a tablet-type device) filled with information about his mother, who died when he was three. More info is available to him, but at what price?
Khyff flung himself back in his chair. Every time he and his brother talked, they ended up arguing. He rubbed his eyes. The pleasant meal they’d started lay almost untouched and any appetite he’d had was gone.
It had taken seconds to read the all too short bio of their mother that his brother was perusing now.
Sileenya Antonello had run away from home on Trien at age ten and been arrested for theft at eleven. While still on probation, she’d disappeared at thirteen and been arrested at age fourteen for unlicensed prostitution. When her pregnancy test had come back positive, they’d placed her back on probation. She’d run away again and been fifteen when she’d given birth to Khyff.
Two years later she began living with an armada-enlisted man who transferred to Felidae, taking Sileenya and Khyff with him, but then he abandoned them. Her next boyfriend addicted her to drugs and prostituted her to newly recruited male Kin soldiers eager to spend their first pay to experience sex with a human female. When she became pregnant, he transferred off-planet, leaving them to fend for themselves.
An Elder of the Ruh clan found Sileenya huddled in an alley during a thunderstorm, holding the nearly lifeless Khyff in her arms. A scant month later, the Tzesar of the Kin ordered the halfbreed newborn destroyed, but the elder intervened and sold Senth to slavers to save his life.
Sileenya and Khyff had been cast into the streets.
Days later, she was dead by her own hand and Khyff was a slave. Senth ended up at an orphanage where he was later adopted by Luc Saint-Cyr.
Senth poked at the notereader’s buttons. “This thing is encrypted. What if the Empress knows who my father is? Don’t I have a right to know that? You have to talk to her. Find out what she wants. Maybe she’ll give you the key.”
“Destoiya’s not going to give me information without demanding a favor. I have nothing left to give that woman. She’s already taken way too much.”
“Khyff, that’s unfair. I need this. You can’t ice up and go all mental.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
His brother growled, a predatory cat sound that made the hair on Khyff’s neck stand up. He scrambled out of his chair and stepped back from the table.
“That”–Senth pointed a finger at him–“is what I mean. I do anything Kin-like and you freak. Get hold of yourself, Khyff. You’re falling apart. The brother I knew two years ago would’ve done whatever it took to find out who his father was. He would’ve helped me find mine.”
Khyff shoved his chair under the table and leaned over it. “Don’t lecture me about doing whatever it takes. If it wasn’t for me interceding with Destoiya, you’d be dead.”
“I’d be dead? I rescued you, in case you don’t remember.”
“NarrAy rescued me. You were unconscious. I carried you in my arms when we transported back aboard the ship. You had nothing to do with it.”
Senth stood. “If it hadn’t been for me, we wouldn’t have gotten in the palace and found you.”
“If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been a captive in the first place!” He stepped around the chair and set a hand on the corner of the table. “I got my freedom and the next day the Empress held me hostage to control you.”
About Kayelle Allen
Kayelle is a best-selling American author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.
Amazon Author page https://amazon.com/author/kayelleallen
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