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Minor Cruelties [An AEssyrian World Adventure Book 4] [MultiFormat]
eBook by Michelle O'Neill & Lindsey Bayer

eBook Category: Science Fiction
eBook Description: After a volatile few years, the AEssyrian Empire has finally found some peace and security under the new Emperor Megolyth. General Gavin Theron couldn't be happier, not only does he have enough time to spend with his human lover Harlan, but he's also about to be a father--again. But things are not as tranquil as they seem, for lurking in the most unlikely place is a vicious, bloodthirsty killer and he can't wait to claim his first victim. Doctor Harlan Ambrose has reached several new highs in her life. Her career is going great and she's pregnant with her first child by her fiancÚ Gavin. But as she's learned from experience, nothing stays peaceful on AEssyria for long. Before she knows it, she's teamed up with the Grand Duke Molitov Von Goth to solve a few strange and puzzling murders. Only this killer is always one step ahead of them?and if they don't catch him soon, he's going to make Harlan his next victim.

eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, Published: Double Dragon Publishing, 2008
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2008


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Chapter 1

Sasha's red hair was splashed across the ivory pillow like dark blood. The room was silent, interrupted only by the occasional creak of the large mahogany bed and the feather-light sigh of the bed's only occupant.

Grand Duke Molitov Von Goth sat naked in a corner of the dusky bedroom watching his lover, Sasha, sleep. What a night they'd had together. Rarely had he experienced a lover with such hidden ferocity; such bottomless passion. Last night had been legendary, even by his standards.

The morning sunlight bled through the window behind his chair and fell upon the cruel red welts along Sasha's back. The sight of them immediately reminded him of the music of her screams and made his cock painfully hard.

Last night she'd pushed him further than any woman had ever dared. Her violent love making awoke feelings in him so aggressive and dark that any other woman would not have survived the encounter. He'd reveled in the twisted urge to seduce, damage and eventually kill her. As she lay before him, innocent in sleep, she had no idea how lucky she was to be alive.

How many times during her binding and punishment had he forced himself to hold back his primal instincts? There had been too many to count.

It was almost as if she'd wanted to push him beyond control, as if she'd wanted him to commit the final act of murder--the ultimate claiming. He'd never admit it to her but he'd been afraid of the deadly feelings she'd dredged up from the dark places in his soul.

Sasha shifted in the dark blue sheets and moaned but didn't awaken. Molitov scratched his belly and thought about his wife, Tannyth; a fine, proud woman. He'd loved her once, but he couldn't remember what that had felt like. After he'd fathered their nine children, she'd shut him out of their marriage bed and that had been that. Tannyth never let him touch her again. By her actions, she'd encouraged him to seek sexual attention anywhere but at home. She'd never said a word, but her consent was implied in the blind eye she turned to his countless affairs.

As he watched Sasha sleep, he knew he should break this affair off with her. He was beginning to feel trapped; controlled in the subtle ways that only a woman could manage. Besides, he would never be able to be the stable influence she desperately needed. This was a very destructive relationship for both of them and she well knew it.

A heavy knock sounded on the villa's front door, dragging Molitov from his thoughts. Sasha groaned and awoke from her sleep. He was glad he'd left word at his office of where he'd be. Most didn't yet know of his affair with Sasha and her villa would be the last place they'd look for him.

She sighed like a honeymoon bride and rolled onto her back. Her large breasts were already blotched with a few light purple bruises. "What's that noise?" she said in a groggy voice.

Molitov stood and pulled on a robe. "It's the front door, darling. Stay in bed, I'll get it."

She covered her eyes with her hand. "I wish this stupid planet would join the rest of the galaxy and get another form of communication other than messengers."

Molitov grinned and stalked into the living room. She was right; AEssyrians were notorious for their dislike of technology. They grudgingly tolerated only the most necessary technological improvements. But communication remained by messenger service and on-world transportation by hyperia; both were traditions he didn't want to change either.

The Grand Duke Molitov opened the door and stared down at a young man in a red messenger uniform. "Yes," he said. "What is it?"

The messenger bowed his head. "I beg your pardon for the interruption, lord, but I have urgent news. There's been a murder of a noblewoman."

"Who is she?"

The messenger looked uncomfortable. "Um ... no one is certain, lord."

"You mean, no one recognizes her?" Molitov asked.

"No lord, she's too..." the messenger paused and searched the ground. "Too damaged."

Molitov's mind raced. Who could dare do such a thing? "Has anyone moved the body?"

"No lord, she's just been found. The Master-at-Arms posted guards immediately."

"Has Dr. Ambrose been notified?" he said, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

"Yes, lord. She should already be en route."

Molitov nodded. "Wait for me outside while I get ready. Then you can escort me there." He closed the door and rushed back into the bedroom.

Sasha was sitting up in bed with the sheet wrapped around her breasts. "What's going on?"

"There's been a murder. I have to go," he said while dressing.

She flopped back onto the bed and sighed. She clearly wasn't happy. "Who is it this time? Another soldier get killed in a drunken card game?"

Molitov sat on the edge of the bed and pulled his long, black boots on. When he was finished, he leaned down and kissed her gently on the lips. "Not this time darling. This time the victim is a high-born woman."

Sasha sat up, wrapping the sheet around her. "Who is it? What happened?"

"I don't know yet, apparently there are some disfiguring injuries," he said, smoothing out his black uniform tunic.

"You mean she was mutilated?" she said, leaning forward.

He pulled on his leather gloves. "Is this exciting you?" he asked, grinning.

Sasha's face reddened. "No, of course not. I just haven't heard of anything like this happening before. These types of murders were pretty common when I lived on earth but here..."

"Well, they're not at all common here. I just hope I can figure out who she is before her family realizes she's missing," he said. "I'll come by the clinic to see you when I get a chance."

Sasha scowled. "Typical," she said as he opened the door to go. "I'm always the last in line."


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