Ajan is hired to hunt down the leader of the River Valley people on a faraway planet. He gets more than he bargained for when he captures Rain. The fiery-haired beauty tries to assassinate him in order to protect the people of the River Valley.
It makes for quite the adventure, with Ajan determined to use Rain to bring in his target, and Rain determined to thwart him at every turn…
He turned to set the remainder of his food down carefully in the boat, and he heard her go over the side with a splash.
Ajan let out a long stream of curse words in his native tongue, paddling after her.
Rain knew he wouldn’t catch her. There wasn’t a faster swimmer anywhere among the people of the river valley. She’d learned to swim before she learned to walk. She also knew they were coming up on more rapids that led off into a series of branching tributaries. She could lose him easily here. There was no way the boat could maneuver around the rocks near the bank.
She stayed near the shoreline and surface briefly, risking a glance back. Nothing. Maybe he got caught in the current – it had a strong pull to center. She didn’t dwell on it more than a moment before she dove again.
She could feel the gathering turbulence of the rapids approaching, and fought to keep herself near the shore. If she hit the rocks too far too center, this would be all for nothing. The river began winding through a series of rock clusters. Rain pulled herself to the flat side of one as she surfaced again for air. She saw the boat coming up behind her and smiled. He’d never be able to hold the boat through the rapids if he was trying to fish her out.
Rain dove again, the exhilaration of swimming free lending new strength to her strokes and kicks as she navigated the growing current. The river began to shallow and there was increase in the size and amount of the rocks. She had just found a passage between two large boulders near the shoreline when something jerked her leg hard, and she realized she was stuck. She turned immediately to get free, and found herself face-to-face with Ajan, who held her by the foot.
She struggled, kicking viciously at his face as she tried to twist out of his grip. He simply hauled himself along her body, climbing her leg hand-over-hand until he had an arm around her torso. Her lungs were bursting when he finally dragged her out of the current and up onto the shoreline.
She fought him the entire way, and as soon as he threw her onto the bank, she sprang to her feet and took off at a run. She only made it a few steps before he hit her from behind, slamming her facedown into the spongy ground and remaining on top of her, pinning her there.
“Let me up!” She spat out a mouthful of mud.
“You made me lose my boat,” he said, angrily. “It just hit the rapids.” His eyes narrowed as he watched it break apart against a boulder, its contents tossed into the churning water.
“Good!” She struggled again, managing to reach up behind her and get a handful of his hair. She yanked hard.
“Ow!’ He flipped her over, pinning her arms down next to her shoulders as he sat on her.
“The next time you pull my hair,” he promised through gritted teeth, “You’ll be under me and you’ll be enjoying it.”
The sparks continue to fly for these two, churning into lots and lots of STEAM, but not before they uncover a mystery that has much larger implications than one little planet.