Sunday, May 17, 2009

Empire: Burning Desires by Cat Marsters

Empire: Burning Desires
by Cat Marsters

Cover art by Bryan Keller
ISBN: 978-1-60521-232-6
Genre(s): Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Theme(s): Shapeshifters, Elves, Dragons & Magical Creatures
Series: Empire
Length: Novel


No one hides from the Empire. They see everything, they know everything.
But what they don’t know is that a very rare female dragon is living in the slums of the floating city of Carnalis, keeping quiet, staying hidden.
They don’t know that under the deep, dark seas that cover most of the world, an entire civilization of Mer is thriving.
And they definitely don’t know that when the two meet, sparks will fly.
Libby is seeking revenge against the Empire for the death of her best friend. Swann is still healing from wounds the Empire inflicted on him seven years ago.
When fire meets water, burning desires will set the world alight.


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On the day she saw her best friend and former lover murdered, Libby Draycock surrendered her freedom for good.
A life lived in shadows, stealing trinkets and hoarding gold, had never afforded her much in the way of freedom anyway. She didn't expect she'd miss it. Even as she felt her skin ripple with the change, her clothes rip and fire burst from her mouth, she heard Billy's words in her ears.
"Don't change in public, Lib. For the love of God, don't ever do it. If word gets around that a girl can change into a dragon, they'll hunt you down and lock you up for the rest of your days."
Libby had laughed. "I'd like to see 'em try. I could incinerate 'em all."
"Not all of them, Lib. The Empire's got many arms, and they're longer than you could imagine. They'd find you. Swear to me you'll never risk it."
But now Billy was dead, blindfolded and cut to ribbons by laser fire, and all for the theft of a few pieces of gold. Imperial gold, stolen from the fat, bloated coffers of the Empire, like stealing raindrops from the ocean as far as Libby was concerned.
But Billy was still dead for it. His body lay slumped on the ground, charred and pale in the cold dark night. The bass beat from some nearby building thumped through the night, as fast and hard as her heart. Rain spattered on Libby's wings, and with every beat the pain grew until she couldn't bear it any more.
She rose into the air, moving as if she were in a dream, her body heavy with anger, and breathed a hot stream of fire onto Billy's murderers. They screamed and danced in the flames, like puppets or characters on an entertainment vid. But that wasn't enough. Burning the men who killed Billy was no different than burning their laser rifles. The fingers didn't take orders from the hands, did they?
She needed to cut off the head.
Screeching with hot, burning rage, Libby flew over the slums of Carnalis, the rats and sewers and thieves and whores, the glowing hoards and the unblinking eyes of the Empire. Music thumped, lights flashed, and below her people carried on their everyday lives as if Billy weren't dead -- but then how many of them had ever known he was alive?
Searchlights and head beams from incoming craft lit up her scales, reflected off her wings, and Libby heard a siren wail into existence below her.
But she didn't stop. She flew straight for the glass and neon structure of the Throne Room, the circular crown of the floating city of Carnalis, and crashed through the roof.
Fountains of glass erupted all around, and sirens screamed as her claws touched down on the floor.
The floor...
The floor of the Throne Room was made of gold and diamonds. Everyone had heard the grandiose rumors, but not many got to verify them. Libby would never have believed it to be true, but the Song of gold enveloped her, nourished her, fed her power and her rage until her wings filled the room and her tail lashed the walls with the power of a siege tank.
Libby roared, and the air shimmered with fire.
It took a second for her eyesight to adjust to the relative stillness inside the Throne Room, empty as it was of people. Well, nearly empty. On the smaller of the two thrones sprawled a woman, her legs wide apart, her skirts pulled up to allow the man kneeling between her thighs to lick and suck at her plump wet folds. The woman had her eyes closed, her head lolling back and a smile curving her mouth, but at Libby's intrusion she jolted, head coming up but eyes remaining closed.
The young man, who was naked but for a pair of high boots and a studded collar, leapt to his feet, spinning around in a fighting crouch. When he saw Libby, scales and wings and flanks heaving with anger, his eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.
The woman on the throne, who Libby recognized as the Empress, frowned, her eyes still closed, and sniffed delicately. "A dragon?" she said. Her teeth flashed in an amused smile. "How very dramatic."
The young man picked up a datapad, but the Empress shook her head and took it from him.
"No, my darling, don't call for help." Eyes still closed, her fingers flew across the datapad, probably telling the Imperial Guard to bring extra ammo. Libby tensed, readying herself for their arrival.
The Empress smiled at Libby and handed the datapad back. "I don't believe she means us harm." The cold, fierce wind whirling around the exposed chamber barely ruffled her hair.
"She?" said the man. Young and inhumanly beautiful, stupendously well-endowed, he was clearly a member of the Empress's beloved harem. That collar was probably bionically linked to him, dozens of probes burrowing into his skin, monitoring everything he did.
He didn't seem remotely embarrassed about standing there nearly naked and rampantly aroused. Even in the face of a huge, and clearly angry, dragon, his cock remained erect, although Libby thought she saw a ring around the base of it to keep him that way. Typical of the Empire that the wife of the Emperor was fucking her concubine in the Throne Room, totally oblivious to the seething masses in the city below.
"I can feel her anger," said the Empress. "Only a woman burns with anger like that. What is it, my dear?" She cocked her head. "A lust for blood. For pain. Someone has wronged you."

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