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Marked Mercenaries

Starhawke Rogue Book Two

Caught between a rock and a starship...

Losing a bet cost mercenary Elhadj Isin control of his warship. Big mistake. He seriously underestimated his opponent. Now Natasha Orlov is calling the shots and he’s stuck transporting a mysterious cargo to an unknown destination. But when a suspicious engine explosion leaves the ship adrift in an uninhabited star system, losing the bet becomes the least of his problems.

Natasha turned her head to meet Isin’s gaze. The message in that look was loud and clear. Don’t mess this up. 
He inclined his head slightly before refocusing his attention on the woman. “I’m Elhadj Isin. Natasha’s… associate.” 
The woman glanced between them. Again, he had the sensation of being visually dissected. “Abbey Green.” 
And I’m the head of the Galactic Fleet. He’d been in this situation enough times to have anticipated she’d give him an alias. He also picked up on a slight accent, one she was trying very hard to conceal. Paired with her coloring, he’d guess she had roots in southeastern Asia. 
“She’s looking to hire a couple ships.” Natasha’s mouth tilted up like the cat who’d eaten the canary. “For a cargo run.” 
Several earthy swear words swirled behind Isin’s tongue, but he kept them contained by taking a drink from the mug Doohan had delivered. He hadn’t lost this fight yet. “What’s the destination?” If it was nearby, the job might not meet the agreed upon minimum. 
Natasha glanced back at Green, whose gaze settled on Isin. 
Her eyes narrowed. Ignoring the question, she posed one of her own. “What’s your role in this operation?” 
A negotiation. He could play this game with his eyes closed. “I’m captain of Vengeance. A mercenary warship.” 
“They provide muscle when needed.” Natasha shot him another warning look. “I’m captain of Phoenix. The passenger freighter I mentioned.” 
Green glanced between them, assessing. “I see.” 
“We can split up the cargo between the two ships if necessary, depending on what you need transported.” 
Green pinned Isin with a hard stare. “How many on your crew?” 
“All mercenaries?” 
“Except for my medic.” 
“And is your crew loyal? Trustworthy?” 
Isin met her stare for stare. “As long as they get paid.” 
Green’s lips pursed, her gaze shifting to Natasha. “And what about your crew?” 
“Definitely trustworthy. We’re not mercenaries. We’re freight runners.” 
The silent condemnation in her tone loosened Isin’s tongue. “And smugglers and thieves.” 
Natasha kicked his leg with the heel of her boot. “Only if the job requires it.”

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