I was hoping by late yesterday, I’d have a link to Changeling on Amazon, but no such luck. The book has been “in review” for damn near two days now, and I have no idea why.
It’s not the end of the world – people can still buy it via Smashwords (and yes, they even have a version for Kindle) but it just seems so…naked having only 2/3 of my trilogy up on Amazon. It irritates me.
So I’m going to get over my irritation by offering you another excerpt from the book. Enjoy!
Indar folded his arms, studying her. “Not your thing? What is your thing?”
“You mean for a workout?”
He kept his face neutral, but his eyes were saying a lot more. It irked her, too.
“I do a mix of Jiu Jitsu and kickboxing,” she said. “And I’m pretty damn good, too.”
“I can put a mat down, if you’d like to spar.”
“I seriously doubt you have any background in either of those,” she commented.
“No, I don’t. But I’ve studied hundreds of types of personal defense and combat tactics over the years. I think I can keep up.” He gave her a purely taunting smile.
“What the hell,” Lizzie said, pushing back from the table. “You’re on. You don’t happen to have any more pants like that, do you? Something I can move around in easier?”
“There should be several pairs in the wall cabinet in the crew quarters. You may have to roll them up – Rax is a bit taller than you are.”
“My assistant. He’s on a personal holiday right now. We’ll meet up with him again later.” Indar reached into a drawer under the counter, rummaging through.
“Here,” he said, tossing a length of elasticized string to her. “You can use that to tie back your hair. I’ll meet you in the cargo bay.” He grabbed a meal bar and looked at her over his shoulder.
“Don’t think of backing out,” he said. “I’ll go easy on you.” He gave her another goading smile and walked through the door. Lizzie got to her feet, staring at his back with narrowed eyes.
He was going to go easy on her, was he? Too bad she wasn’t going to return the favor. Maybe he’d think twice the next time he wanted to snatch somebody away from their planet.
She followed him out, stopping by the crew quarters to change, sliding into a clinging shirt and stretchy pants that were definitely too long.
When she got out to the cargo bay she saw that he’d put down a mat roughly the size of a small boxing ring. She stuck her foot up on a nearby crate, reaching down to roll her pant legs up to her shins.
“These cannot possibly fit your crewmate,” she said. “They’re tight on me. Is he a skinny guy?”
“Rax is thin,” Indar said, swinging his arms to warm himself up. “But they’re made to stretch. They can easily fit someone three times your size.” He gave her a head-to-toe look of appraisal. “They wouldn’t look as good, of course.”
Lizzie rolled her eyes, and then moved into a deep lunge, stretching her legs out.
“I thought you were a scientist,” she said. “How is it you know about combat?”
“I began my studies in anthropology and sociology before moving into genetic logistics,” Indar said. “And war is, unfortunately, a commonplace event anywhere humanity flourishes. Now, are you done stalling? Not that I couldn’t watch you stretch for a while longer…”
She frowned at him. “I’m not stalling. Let’s go.”
Lizzie stepped onto the mat and before Indar could get into a stance, she attacked. She landed a solid kick to his midsection, knocking him backwards and sending him reeling. She followed through on his momentum with a well-placed foot behind his, grappling his shoulders and twisting to send him down.
Indar sprang back, doing an odd sort of hop over her leg and adding a sweeping leg of his own to send her off-balance. She recovered quickly, whirling around to strike him with an elbow, distracting him as she wound up for another kick. He evaded it at the last second, and she whirled full-circle, giving him her back.
He sprang into action, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pinning her arms down, but she got a leg back between his and with added leverage from a fast turn of her torso, he lost his footing, going down to one knee. He rolled instantly back to his feet.
“Well done,” he praised. “You really are quite good at this.”
“Yeah,” she panted, “I am. I even managed to beat my instructor once.”
“Only once?” Indar taunted, circling her.
“He’d never been beaten before outside of competition,” she said. “Don’t let the nerdy job fool you. I can put a hurt on you if I want to.”
“You’re welcome to try,” he said, smiling. And a heartbeat later he was at her again, sending a series of blows from his arms and legs connecting with her in rapid succession – not hard enough to truly hurt, but putting her on the defensive as she parried and avoided. She needed to get him down to the mat where she’d have better leverage.
She spun under his arm, grabbing his shoulders and falling back to bring him down, but before she could twist and get the advantage by pinning him, he slid out from under her, wrapping his legs around hers and flipping her. They lay side by side, grappling as they each tried to get a good hold and fighting for the upper hand.
“You can’t beat me,” he panted. “Though I must say you gave a better accounting of yourself than I expected.”
“That’s what my teacher said,” she replied, giving him a goading smile as she pushed against his shoulders.
“And how did you manage to beat him?” Indar asked, pushing his shoulder down and into her, trying to use the added force to move her – unsuccessfully.
Lizzie leaned in, planting her lips against his.
The impact was instantaneous.
Indar’s arms slid around her, pulling her against him and Lizzie found herself kissing him hard, her fingers sliding up and curling into his hair. The feeling of his body against hers was indescribable – it was like fire was rushing through her, and the burning heat of his mouth as it played across hers made her feel like she could devour him.
She pulled back with a gasp. Her eyes met his, and it threw her for a moment that he looked just a startled as she was. She took advantage of it, too. A split-second later, he was on his back, pinned down with one of his arms stretched across his body at an awkward angle, and Lizzie was straddling him, acutely conscious of the feel of him beneath her.
“Well?” she said, holding his eyes.
He relaxed in a gesture of surrender, but his eyes didn’t leave hers. Lizzie rolled off him, getting slowly to her feet.
“Good match,” she said, still panting. She put her hands at the small of her back, pushing in and stretching. Indar rolled to his feet in a smooth movement, his eyes following the line of her back as it arched.
“You really used that tactic on your teacher?” he asked.
She grinned. “Yeah.”
“And how did he respond?”
“Like you did. Only he responded after dinner that night.”
Indar froze. “I didn’t think to ask –”
“Do you have a mate? Did I take you from someone?”
Lizzie looked away. “I only dated him a few times. We didn’t really have any chemistry.”
Her head snapped back to look at him.
“What do you mean?”
“Are you mated or not?” he asked, exasperated.
“Not.” She gave him a look. “And that’s not an invitation.”
“I already had my invitation,” he said, stepping closer. “And you know it.”
“I’m going to bed.”
“Alone!” she shouted as she opened the door. A moment later, it slammed behind her and Indar stood there, grinning and rubbing his lower lip thoughtfully.