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Arch Allies

Starhawke Rogue Book One

When life hands you a starship, take it!

Experience has taught smuggler Natasha Orlov one thing —the universe will kick you when you’re down. Why does nothing ever come easy? Not friends, not jobs, and certainly not money. So when she stumbles onto a starship buried in a sea of sand, she’s not about to let it slip through her fingers. This is her shot at climbing out of the black hole of her past.

Too bad her past is a moving target.

A ghostly mercenary with muscles and brains stakes a claim, blowing her plan to smithereens and forcing her into a battle of wits and wills that tests her courage. And her patience.

Then the Feds start sniffing around.

The clock is ticking, but abandoning ship isn’t an option. Which means trusting the one person guaranteed to stab her in the back. Why does the universe have such a wicked sense of humor?

A hand clamped over Nat's nose and mouth, cutting off her air, while her captor’s other arm pinned her shooting hand to her side. 
She struggled, the light from her comband splashing over Marlin, who was caged in by a figure dressed all in black with arms the size of tree trunks. 
Nat tossed her head, fighting for air, but the hand over her face clamped down harder, the arm around her torso compressing her ribcage. Changing tactics, she slammed her head back, making contact. 
A decidedly female grunt was followed by intense pressure that twisted Nat’s head toward her shoulder.
“Want me to snap your neck?” the woman’s voice hissed in her ear. 
Nat stilled. Judging by the strength in the woman’s grip, she could do it. 
A third figure materialized out of the shadows, definitely male and almost as large as the man holding Marlin. He faced Nat, remaining just outside the half-circle of light from her comband, the ambient glow illuminating his body partway up his chest. 
That was plenty. Muscles rippled under the form-fitting fabric covering his arms and legs, highlighting the armor over his torso and the rifle in his hand. 
“You’re trespassing on my property.” 
His low growl poked slivers of ice under her skin, promising violence in every syllable. His next words confirmed it. 
“You deserve death. But since I’m not in the habit of killing young boys, I’m going to give you and your father a chance to leave before I slit your throats.” 
Her mind whirled. This man thought she was a boy? And that Marlin was her father? What a joke. 
But he’d also just laid claim to her ship. And apparently was prepared to kill her for it. 
“Why don’t you let me have fun with him first?” The grip on Nat’s mouth eased as the woman stroked a thumb along her cheek. “He’s young. I could break him in.” 
Her skin crawled at the woman’s seductive purr. 
“Shut it, Shash. We’re not here for your entertainment.” The man took a step closer, the light revealing a thick neck and skin almost as dark as the fabric covering his torso. “What’s it going to be, boy?” 
She forced air into her constricted lungs. She needed to be sensible. Smart. It was only a ship, right? If she died tonight defending it, what would that prove? That she was an idiot? 
But her more primitive side refused to listen to logic, sweeping away her fear and replacing it with white-hot anger. It wasn’t just a ship. It was her future. And what was left of her past. She’d suffered under the thumb of a brute just like this one, enduring untold horrors so she could make it back here. If she gave up now, slinking off into the night, all that agony had been for nothing. 
A year of pent-up rage and pain crested, devouring everything in its path. Shifting her weight, she shoved back against the woman holding her. “I’m not a boy, you pea-brained gorilla!” she yelled as she kicked out, her foot connecting solidly with the man’s chest.

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