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Hitting the Target (Brides of the Kindred #22.10)
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A girl sent to kill the one she is dreaming of
Ormyu Five is the world divided in two
To the South lies Bountiful, a country of free thinkers bustling with trade and blessed with balmy weather. But those from the Northern Block never get to experience its temperate climate for the two halves of Ormyu Five are divided by an impenetrable wall of blue energy called the Great Barrier.
Mia lives in the North and can’t remember a time when she wasn’t looking over her shoulder. Everyone spies on everyone else and reports to The Eye. It is a land of paranoia—a place of constant fear. Even Mia herself has been forced into the ranks of informants—she works as a nurse but also as a covert agent, reporting weekly to her Commandant in The EYE’s headquarters for new assignments. Imagine her surprise and dismay when she recognizes her new target—a huge male with a mane of golden brown hair and pale piercing eyes—as the one she has been dreaming of for months.
Treygar is a rare Lei’on Kindred which means he keeps a hungry beast locked within himself. He came to Ormyu Five with his people, looking for a new genetic trade on the strangely divided planet. What he doesn’t expect is to start dream sharing with one of the inhabitants of the backwards world but that is exactly what happens. He wants to go and find the mysterious, curvy little female but before he can, he runs into her at the transport station.
Mia is scared to death of the huge Kindred warrior. She’s been dreaming of him for months but she assumed It was just that—a dream. Even worse, he is the target she had been sent to the South to track…and possibly to kill. Can she keep herself from falling for Trey and complete her mission? Or is the big Kindred aiming for her heart, Hitting the Target?
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The recording device in the toe of Mia’s right shoe was malfunctioning again. When she checked its output on the tiny handheld device she had been issued by the Commandant, she saw only wavy, blurred lines and heard only static. Damn.
A worried frown creased her forehead as she toed off the clunky, uncomfortable shoes and slipped into a pair of soft-toed clogs instead. Of course it was nice to have an excuse to wear her more comfortable shoes to the Care Center. As a healer’s aide, she worked long shifts and was on her feet for ten to twelve hours at a time.
But the comfort she gained was more than offset by the distress and anxiety she felt when she thought how she would be unable to offer the Commandant the full range of surveillance she was responsible for.
Well, she still had the tiny camera shaped like a Mercy Star that she wore on the lapel of her pale blue uniform, Mia comforted herself. And the images it took were really much more valuable because the angle was so much better for faces than the recording device in the toe of her shoe. The Commandant would understand. She would just explain during their next scheduled meeting that she needed a new device—or more likely a new pair of shoes with a device implanted in them. He would issue them and that would be that.
“Mia, child—are you in there? Could you make me a cup of nettle steep?” a whispery voice called.
“Of course, Neemah.” Quickly, Mia slipped the handheld output checker into an antique sweetener bowl and, standing on tiptoes, pushed it to the back of the top shelf where her grandmother would never find it. If Neemah ever found out she was working for The EYE, especially after what had happened to Mia’s parents…
But the thought didn’t bear thinking about. Instead, Mia turned to the ancient stove. Switching it from electric to fuel, she threw a chunk of fire rock, which stained her fingertips dirty orange, into the grate and pressed the ignite button. The stove had been modified to burn fuel because the electric current wasn’t exactly stable. At least twice a day—sometimes more often—there were energy flickers and rolling outages which lasted sometimes just a few seconds, but often up to several hours.
Mia had heard it whispered that the Republic caused the power outages on purpose to keep people in line or to catch dissenters trying to sneak across the Great Barrier. But the SSCC—the State Sponsored Communications Channel—blamed Bountiful, the country to the south of the People’s Republic. According to the SSCC, the Republic was full of spies and saboteurs from the decadent South—one could never be too careful because they were everywhere.
Mia had never been to Bountiful herself—and had never wanted to go. Not that she could have gotten to the sprawling country which took up the southern half of the single continent on her little world, even if she wanted to. Making any attempt to leave the People’s Republic and cross the Great Barrier to get south was a crime punishable by death and Mia had no intention of dying anytime soon.
The stove top was red-hot now so she half-filled a chipped ceramic steep-pot from the faucet, which was little more than a pipe sticking out of the wall over the sink, and sat it on the glowing coil. Her grandmother’s spice rack was hanging on one wall, hiding a spot where the grayish-yellow paint was peeling. It was arranged, as always, exactly to Neemah’s specifications with the sweet spices on the top shelf and the savory ones at the bottom. Their kitchen might not be much to look at, with its peeling walls, exposed fixtures and half-broken appliances but Mia’s grandmother insisted on keeping it neat as a pin.
Mia took the jar of ground sweet nettles from the top of the spice rack and carefully measured out exactly one spoonful of the fine pale purple powder into a pretty old cup. It had tall, fluted sides and a picture of a lady with a pink head scarf drinking steep under a blue and white uanna tree on one side.
The cup had been part of her Neemah’s inheritance, and it had been made before the Great Revolution—Mia was fairly certain of that. When the People’s Republic came into power in the North and granted equality to all and erected the Great Barrier to keep the undesirables out, they had stopped the production of such frivolous items. Nowadays everything had to have a practical purpose—and everything was utilitarian and plain.
Mia had always liked the cup because Neemah said her eyes were the exact same color as the pale blue flowers on the uanna tree. People said they were striking, her eyes—they set off the creamy brown of her skin dramatically. They made her face almost pretty enough to balance out the fact that she was too plump to be what the Republic considered an “ideal female.”