For thirty years, Asberek has maintained peace with her mother planet, Earth. But when Earth Central tries to assassinate the colony’s leader, the ties that hold them together are threatened. Earth Central sends Fallon Denny, a smart and savvy diplomat, to negotiate with the colonial council.
The minute Matthew Lestrano meets the visiting Earthling, he’s torn between his loyalty to the colony and his lust for the beautiful, but dangerous, visitor. Once again, the drug that permeates Asberek’s atmosphere leads to strange connections, and Matthew finds that dominating Fallon Denny may lead to his downfall.
Treachery and betrayal create cracks in negotiations. When Fallon’s life is as risk, Matthew is the only one who can save her, and she finds there is more than politics at stake when she is commanded to yield.
“Something is wrong.”
The hairs on the back of Matthew Lestrano’s neck stood erect. He barely noticed Kinley Pasquel’s fingers clenched around his arm. He hated these parties. If people wanted to have two hours of foreplay, why did it have to include uncomfortable suits and ties?
All the colonists on Asberek had shown up. His mother, tall and remote, stood beside his father. Even from across the room they were a stunning couple. No one would know she was one of the universe’s most brilliant scientists from the long, black dress she wore. His father’s gaze swept the corners with practiced eyes. Did he feel the same thing Matthew did? That something seemed ... off.
The military detail ordered to protect Asberek’s leader Adonis Pasquel looked alert. The guards assigned to each of the Pasquel daughters were all in place. Yet something still didn’t seem right to Matthew.READ MORE
He stepped closer to his charge, Kinley Pasquel. He knew the other soldier boys envied his detail, but they would laugh if they had any idea how it was between them. She was like a sister to him.
And right now, she had a frown on her beautiful face. “What do you see?”
He knew she didn’t doubt him. No one did these days. He’d proven his instincts were correct too many times. “I’m not sure.”
His gaze rested on the other two Pasquel daughters and their escorts. Shasta had been saddled with Pomery Landover, a pompous military lifer that had been stationed with Asberek since the colony began. The older man was a match for any of Shasta’s headstrong bullshit.
Sierra was harder to see. Rather shy, Sierra didn’t seek attention the way her two sisters did. Her escort was a corporal, Ben Mason. There she was. But where was Ben?
A strange man had possession of Sierra’s arm. He was dressed in the appropriate military attire, but he didn’t look right somehow. Matthew pressed Kinley’s hand for a moment and then disengaged from her grip. “Stay here. Don’t talk to anyone.”
She saluted. “Yes, sir!”
He threaded his way through the crowd and noted the man led Sierra closer to her father. When Adonis Pasquel turned to greet his youngest daughter, Matthew broke into a run across the room.
The strange escort lifted his arm, a blaster appearing from nowhere. Sierra screamed. Matthew didn’t stop to think. He bolted in front of the colony’s leader.
The gunman shouted “Death to alien rebels!”, and the blaster exploded.
The shot slammed into Matthew’s shoulder. Jesus, it burned. The force of the shot sent him reeling backward into Pasquel. A sharp, spreading pain streaked down his left arm, leaving the limb useless. Barely conscious, he noted the gunman was restrained. Before he could warn them, the assassin began to foam at the mouth, blood spurting from his nose.
His mother’s voice rose above the cacophony of noise. “Back away from him. He’s infected.”
“The bastards,” he heard Pasquel say. “Matt, are you alright?”
“Of course he isn’t,” Sierra said firmly. “Get a medic.” The woman’s face swam in front of him. “Matthew? A medic is coming. Your mother is here.”
A needle pricked his arm. “Do you always have to be a hero?” His mother’s voice was calm and steady as always.
“Apparently,” he managed to say.
“Idiot,” his mother murmured. “You’re just like your father.”
His father appeared beside Matthew. “You like that about me. Matt? Hang on, son.”
Matthew reached out and gripped his father’s sleeve. “He’s Tribunal.”
He watched his father’s face stiffen. Hell, Matthew knew how he felt. His father was Paul Lestrano, an Earth-trained Tribunal soldier, retired, but that didn’t mean shit and they both knew it. Pasquel had been Tribunal, kicked out when he chose to lead Asberek instead of kowtowing to Earth Central.
His arm felt numb, and his vision grew fuzzy. Whatever his mother had injected into him made the pain and his wits disappear. He hung onto the one thought that wouldn’t stop rattling in his brain.
Earth Central had sent an assassin to kill Adonis Pasquel.COLLAPSE