Smart, sexy, and kick-ass brave, Kat has the fighting skills of a warrior and a determination few men can match. She’s caught in a post-apocalyptic world where only the rich live well and Kat is determined to be one of them. To make her dream come true and reunite with her daughter up North, the fearless treasure hunter has to get her hands on a lot of money, and that’s going to take every bit of talent she’s got.
With her devoted partner Damian by her side, Kat sets out to make one last big score in a city rumored to be the nesting place of vicious mutated people. The stakes are high and they get even higher when she discovers her rival, Hades, is after the same thing. Big, mean, and sexy as hell, he’s just the sort of man Kat loves to take to tangle with and will if he can help her in her quest.
WARNING: contains scorching hot love scenes
LOWER BC PLAINS, THE YEAR 2275
Dust devils whirled viciously around the broken remains of civilization. Buildings that once stood proud and strong were now only jagged cement shards protruding from infertile dirt and rock. The sun was a big glaring ball of light in the sky. Where it had once produced growth and warmth, it now scorched what was left of the Earth with its brutal rays.
Kat looked up into the blistering sun and wondered for the second time today what in the hell she was doing out on the Outer Rim. The fierce, arid wind whipped at her cloak and tried to tear it from her body. Sand peppered her face like a tiny barrage of bullets. Pulling her hood forward, she adjusted her tinted goggles over her eyes and continued to search the rubble for her treasure. No small feat, considering her right eye was covered by a black leather eye-patch.
She kicked at the dirt and crumbled concrete with her steel-toed jackboots. Nothing. They’d been searching for nearly two hours now. She glanced over at her partner.
“Damian! See anything?”
Damian stood from where he squatted, raising his head toward Kat, his blue eyes glinting in the sun. He held up his hand, something encased in his glove.
“Just this cute little dolly.” He waved it at her, grinning mischievously.
The doll, headless and encrusted in filth, rattled in his hand.
“Quit fucking around. And put on your goggles.” Kat shook her head. The kid knew better. An hour under the unprotected sun produced cataracts. Cataracts usually led to blindness. She’d seen it happen more and more. Her sister had succumbed to blindness before she had died from the flu. Damian was lucky he had his hood pulled over his head.
“Yes, momsie.” Damian reached around to his pack and unzipped a compartment. He came away with his tinted goggles.
Kat watched him put them on.
“Better?” He flashed a grin.
She shook her head but smiled. He always managed to make her smile. That was one of the reasons she had bartered for his life two years ago.
He had been an employee of a local junk dealer named Jones. Whipping boy, more like. He did errands for Jones, cleaned up the shop and, once-in-a-while, loaned out to friends. Loaned, as in pimped out for sexual favors. Men or women, it didn’t matter to Jones. He was an equal opportunist. If the price was high enough, Damian could be bought.
When Kat first saw Damian, he was hanging from the ceiling by his hands, his wrists shackled in metal claps. Naked, except for a thin strip of cloth hanging over his crotch, Kat couldn’t help but notice his long, lean body. Muscles rippled as he twisted side to side, struggling against his restraint. When he managed to turn all the way around, Kat could see the long red welts on his back. She looked down at his dangling feet and saw the instrument of choice lying on the dirt floor: a horsewhip.
Two days later, she returned with more electronics and bartered for Damian’s release. Jones didn’t even question her. It was just another transaction to him. They had made a deal, sealed it with a handshake, and she had left the store with Damian in tow.
“I think Russell gave us a bum lead.” Damian’s voice broke into her thoughts.
She looked over at him as he kicked an old metal can her way. It landed at the toe of her boot.
Eyeing the dirt and debris on the ground, Kat went over what she knew about the area. It had once been home to a school of some sort. The exact nature of it eluded her, but she knew that young children had attended. She also knew that children of old were taught by electronic means. They had access to all sorts of gadgets. It wasn’t clear even if they had a teacher. Maybe they had all been plugged into some electronic thingy by wires coming out of their heads.
School. Kat had no concept of what that would have been like. The word and idea were as foreign to her as clean air and fresh water. The little bit of reading and writing she had learned was from her mother before she had died. Everything else she needed to know, she learned by doing it out on the streets. Not a pleasant education for a young svelte girl with midnight black hair and big green eyes.
Russell, another junk dealer, had told her that she could find those old learning devices out here. At least a couple of steps above the shit ladder than what Jones had been, Kat didn’t mind doing business with him. So far, he had been honest with her in their dealings. He never tried to skimp on her payment. In fact, he had been feeding her tips as to where certain treasures were located. A win-win situation for them both, she got her money and he got his prize. As far as Kat knew, she was the only hunter that he tolerated.
Something glinted in the sun just under a rock-pile a few feet away. Moving to it, she bent down and pushed over one of the stones to brush away the earth. A small circle of metal, the size of a coin, lay imbedded in the dirt.
“Bring me the pack.”
Damian rushed over to where she knelt, placing the bag down at her side. She opened it up and took out a large, long-handled tool, somewhat like a paintbrush. With care, she swept at the area around the shiny metal. More metal appeared under the dirt. She took out a small chisel and hammer and chipped around the earth that imprisoned the artifact. She did it gently and expertly, careful not to damage her treasure.
“Is that it?” Damian’s velvety voice broke into her concentration.
“Shut up, will you?” But Kat wasn’t asking.
She dug around the metal and under it and then set aside the tools and lifted the treasure out of the ground. A flat silver disc with tiny buttons on one side lay encrusted in the earth. She rubbed at the metal, clearing away the stubborn clinging sand. The word play was etched under one button. Kat grinned.
“Is it the music maker?”
“Money maker you mean.”
Laughing, Damian wrapped his arms around Kat. He picked her up and swung her around.
“I can just taste the thick juicy steak I’m going to have. I can almost see the blood on my plate.”
“Put me down, or you’ll see the blood on your face.”
About the Author:
Vivi Anna is an award winning, Canadian multi-published author in paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and scifi with close to 19 books and novellas for Harlequin and others.
Vivi is the current president of CARWA and also a co-founder of the popular #TVwriterchat on twitter. She’s also an aspiring screen/TV writer. You can find her at http://www.vivianna.net, or procrastinating on twitter at https://twitter.com/authorViviAnna