Northern Waste Series
In the harsh Northern Waste where human life is worth little, ice trucker Raina Bowen has learned to keep her eyes open and her knife close at hand. She’s spent her life on the run, one step ahead of the megalomaniac who hunts her. All she wants is to stay out of trouble and haul her load of grain to Gladow Station—but trouble finds her in the form of a sexy stranger called Wizard. He has the trucking pass she needs, and she has to drag him out of a brawl with the very people she’s trying to hide from in order to get it. She may have rescued him, but Raina’s not foolish enough to see Wizard as anything close to helpless. He’s hard and honed and full of secrets—secrets that may destroy them both. As they race across the Waste, trying to outrun rival truckers, ice pirates, and the powerful man bent on their destruction, Raina’s forced to admit that trouble’s found her. And this time, there’s nowhere left to run.
The air was stale, rank with the stink of smoke, sweat, and old beer. Bob’s Truck Stop. Nice place for a meal.
Raina Bowen sat at a small table, back to the wall, posture deceptively relaxed. Inside, she was coiled tighter than the Merckle shocks that were installed in her rig, but it was better to appear unrufﬂed. Never let ’em see you sweat. That had been one of Sam’s many mottos.
She glanced around the crowded room, mentally cataloging the Siberian gun truckers at the counter, the cadaverous pimp in the corner and his ferret-faced companion, the harried waitress who deftly dodged the questing hand that reached out to snag her as she passed. In the center of the room was a small raised platform with a metal pole extending to the grime-darkened ceiling. A scantily clad girl, barely out of puberty, wiggled and twirled around the pole. Raina looked away. But for a single desperate act, one that had earned her freedom, she might have been that girl.
Idly spinning the same half-empty glass of warm beer that she’d been nursing for the past hour, she looked through the grimy windows at the front of the truck stop. Frozen, colorless, the bleak expanse stretched with endless monotony until the high-powered ﬂoodlights tapered off and the landscape was swallowed by the black night sky.
A balmy minus-thirty outside. And it would only get colder the farther north they went. Raina had a keen dislike of the cold, but if she were the ﬁrst to reach Gladow Station with her load of genetically engineered grain, there’d be a fat bonus of ﬁfty million interdollars. That’d be more than enough to warm her to the cockles of her frozen heart.
More than enough to buy Beth’s safety.
Keeping her gaze on the door, Raina willed it to open. She couldn’t wait much longer. Where the hell was Wizard? Sitting here—a woman alone in a place like this—drew too much attention. She wanted no one to remember her face. Anonymity was a precious commodity, one she realized had slipped through her ﬁngers as from the corner of her eye she watched one of the Siberians begin to weave drunkenly across the room.
“Well, hello, sweet thing.” He stopped directly in front of her, kicked the extra chair out from the table, and shifted it closer before dropping his bulk onto the torn Naugahyde. He was shrouded in layers of tattered cloth that were stained and frayed, the stink of him hitting her nostrils before he ﬁnished his greeting.
“Leave. Now.” Keeping her voice low and even, Raina snaked one hand along her waist toward the small of her back, resting her ﬁngers on the smooth handle of her knife.
The Siberian smiled at her, revealing the brown stubs of three rotting teeth. “You can’t chase me off so easy. I’ve been watching you.” He gestured at the front of his pants. “You need a man, sweet thing.”
Uh-huh. “And you think you’re a man?”
The trucker frowned at her question; then his thick brows shot up as he realized he’d been insulted. Undeterred, he leaned forward, catching her ponytail with one scarred and dirty hand. “I’ll show you how much man I am. Give us a kiss, sweet thing.”
His tongue was already out and reaching as he pulled her face closer to his.
“Last warning,” Raina said softly, wishing he would listen.
He gave a hard tug on her ponytail. Raina slid her knife from its sheath, bringing it up with a sharp twist, neatly slicing through the tip of the trucker’s tongue. Blood splattered in all directions, thick and hot. With an enraged howl he jerked back, letting loose his hold on her as he clapped both hands over his mouth. Dark blood dripped down his unshaven chin to pool on the tabletop.
Raina sent a quick look at the rest of the Siberians. Their attention was ﬁrmly ﬁxed on the girl who was shimmying up and down the pole. Returning her gaze to the moaning trucker, she picked up the stained scrap of cloth that passed for a serviette and slowly wiped her blade clean. She knew that once serviettes had been made of paper, but that was a long time ago, when there had still been enough trees to provide pulp.
“Name’s Raina Bowen. Not sweet thing.” She sighed. So much for anonymity. “And the last thing I need is a man.”
Well, that wasn’t exactly true. She needed one man in particular, Wizard and his precious trucking license, but he was nowhere to be seen.
The trucker’s eyes widened as he registered her name, and a ﬂicker of recognition ﬂared in their dull depths. Nice to have a reputation, even if she didn’t quite deserve it. This lovely little encounter would just add to the mystique. Unfortunately, it would also add to the risk of being found. Damn.
He reached for her again, his hands rough, his expression stormy. He was mad, challenged, belittled, and he wanted revenge. What was it with Siberian gun truckers?
Twirling her hair around one ﬁnger, Raina shifted her expression, lowering her lashes over her blue eyes in a come-hither invitation, curving her lips in a winsome smile. The trucker blinked, clearly confused by her abrupt change in manner. He leaned in—Lord, some people never learned—and Raina deftly clipped him hard under the chin with the hilt of her knife.
He slumped across the Formica table, unconscious, mouth hanging open, leaving her with a blood-splattered tabletop, a ruined beer, and an end to her patience.
His companions were looking this way now. Raina lowered her head as though enthralled by her table-mate, using her body to shield his inert form from view. Her ruse worked, and the men nudged one another and laughed before turning back to the stripper.
Well, that had bought her about three minutes.
A sudden blast of light sliced through the frost-dusted window, spreading a glowing circle across the ﬂoor. Hope ﬂared as Raina wondered if Wizard had ﬁnally arrived, but no, there was too much light for just one vehicle.
Trucks. Lots of ’em. They parked in a circle, the beams of their headlights illuminating a circumscribed area.
Like an arena.
She’d seen this setup before. The new arrivals were expecting entertainment, the kind that involved ﬁsts, and they were using their rigs to create the venue. She stared through the glass, the muscles of her shoulders and neck knotting with tension. Illegal gladiator games. There was going to be a bloodbath.
Hell. Wizard or not, she’d outstayed her time here. Tossing a handful of interdollars on the table, Raina shrugged into her parka and headed outside, sticking well back in the shadows as she watched the scene unfold. The trucks were huge, as tall as two-story houses, painted slate gray, and on the front in bold silver letters, the name janson.
Men were emerging from the cabs. Big, burly guys, dressed in hides and skins, bristling with weapons. Janson company men. How nice. The Janson owned the ICW—Intercontinental Worldwide—the longest highway ever built. Or at least, they acted like they did.
She could feel the tension in the air. Taste it. Someone had pissed these guys off big-time.
At the far end of the lot was a lone truck. Black. Clean. Nameless. Nice transport, she noticed. A non-company driver, just like her. Poor bastard. He was obviously tonight’s planned entertainment.
“Hey, Big Luc,” one of the Jansons yelled, moving into place in the circle that had formed. “That’s the worthless parasite who jumped line. We gotta teach him some manners.”
Jumped line? What moron would jump line on Jan-son trucks? They went ﬁrst. It was an unwritten law. Anyone who ﬂouted it was either insane or bent on a quick death. Raina watched as money exchanged hands. Odds were obviously in favor of Big Luc.
“His pressure looks low, don’t it? Can’t have an unsafe rig on the highway,” a second man called, then laughed at his own lame joke. “Wizard’s got some balls coming here tonight. He shoulda kept driving. Maybe we’d have let him live another day.”
Wizard. Oh, no. Of all the morons in the frozen north, she had to hook up with the one who had picked a ﬁght with a good portion of the Janson army. She narrowed her eyes at the huge black rig, the one at the far end of the lot. Wizard’s rig. Damn, damn, damn.
He was of no use to her now. Still, she couldn’t help but try to ﬁgure a way that she could salvage the trucking pass he was supposed to give her.
“Luc. Luc. Luc.” The crowd was calling their champion.
In response to the cry, a huge man swaggered into the circle of light, raising his arms as he slowly spun around and around, egging his admirers on. Beneath the ﬂat wool cap that clung to his skull, bushy brows drew down over a nose ﬂattened and skewed to one side, and just below it bristled a thick thatch of mud-colored whiskers. An animal pelt hung over his massive shoulders. The head was still intact, the jagged teeth catching the light.
Raina glanced back at the black rig at the far end of the lot. She’d never met Wizard, had contacted him on Sam’s instructions—which in and of itself was a questionable recommendation—but she couldn’t imagine he’d be any match for Luc. She had a hard time imagining anyone as a match for Luc.
The door of the cab opened, and a man swung down. He was tall, dressed in a black parka, the hood pulled up, obscuring his features. She felt a moment’s pity, and then squelched the unwelcome emotion. Not her ﬁght. Not her business. Sam’s words of loving fatherly advice rang in her head as clear as if he were standing beside her. If there’s no proﬁt in it for you, stupid girl, then walk away. Just walk away. What do you care for some sucker’s lousy luck?
Not only was there no proﬁt in it for her, but the jackass had cost her. Wizard was supposed to show up an hour ago with a temporary Janson trucking license that would allow her to jump the queue all nice and legal, behind the Janson but ahead of the other in-dies. Instead, he was an hour late, and he’d dragged a frigging army with him. Too bad the army wasn’t on his side.
Wizard strode forward. He made it halfway across the parking lot, halfway to the door of the truck stop before Luc’s ﬁst connected with his face. Raina winced. She had a brief impression of long dark hair as the hood fell back and Wizard’s head snapped sideways. He went down, rolling head over heels across the inﬂexible sheet of solid ice.
In three strides Luc was on him, the steel-reinforced toe of his company-issue boots ﬁnding a nice home right between Wizard’s ribs. Wizard didn’t move, didn’t moan, and for a second Raina wondered if that ﬁrst punch had knocked him out cold. With a laugh, Luc kicked him again, and then nudged him with his boot, once, twice. He backed off, waving at the group that surrounded him, shaking hands as he slowly made his way toward the door of the diner, acting as though he’d just rid the world of public enemy number one.
The remaining Jansons closed in, a pack of avid rats, eyes glittering with malevolent intent. There was no doubt in Raina’s mind that they were going to beat Wizard within an inch of his life, a warning to anyone who tried to cross them.
Raina glanced at her snowscooter. She’d been smart enough to park her rig in a safe place and use the scooter to get her to the truck stop. No sense inviting trouble. Now she wondered if she could maneuver into the circle of men surrounding Wizard’s prone form, nab him, and get them both out of there before someone got killed. She hesitated, the thought going against her every instinct of self-preservation. Why she was even considering this she couldn’t say. Hadn’t Sam Bowen beaten all compassion out of her? Stupid girl. Empathy will only get you killed.
Squelching the voice in her head, she focused on the guy sprawled across the frozen ground. He had the damned trucking license, and she needed it. All she had to do was ﬁgure a way to get it.
She cringed as Wizard pushed himself to his feet. Shaking his head as if to clear it, he wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. God, he didn’t even have the sense to stay down.
“Hey, Luc,” he called softly, the sound of his voice drawing Raina up short. Low, rich, a sensual baritone that sent a shiver up her spine. “While you’re in there, you want to fetch me a beer?”
Raina closed her eyes and sighed. Dim. Thick. Brainless. He was a dead man. And all for the sake of what? His machismo? She shifted, trying to get a look at his face, but he’d pulled his hood up again.
Big Luc turned slowly to face him. “You got a death wish, boy?”
“Name’s Wizard, and the only thing I’m wishing for is a long, cold beer.” Oh, that slow, lazy drawl. It should be illegal for a guy that dumb to have a voice that smooth.
“Well, Wiiiiz-aaard . . .” Luc guffawed, slapping one ﬂeshy palm on his thigh. “You ready to die?”
Run. Run. Run. You might have a chance. Raina willed him to move, because she knew Big Luc would kill him and leave his frozen carcass in the snow. The wild dogs would pick him clean, and no one would care. She’d make herself not care.
Luc lunged at him. Raina expected Wizard to step back, to dodge, to move. Instead, he shot out one ﬁst with lightning speed, dropping Luc in his tracks.
She blinked, certain her brain was processing something other than what her eyes had seen.
For a moment she waited, convinced that Luc would get up, would charge like an enraged bull and cut Wizard down. Without a backward look, Wizard turned and strode in the direction of the diner, as if he hadn’t just accomplished the impossible. As if he hadn’t just invited his own assassination.
And, oh, the way he moved… conﬁdent, ﬂuid, a man comfortable in his own skin. Raina watched him for a long moment, and then looked away, wondering what the hell was wrong with her. Why should she care about the easy way some useless gun trucker moved his hips?
Whoooo. Get it together, Bowen.
No one spoke. No one moved. It felt like no one dared breathe, and then two guys stepped forward, hauled Big Luc up by his armpits, and dragged him away.
Stupid man. Stupid, stupid man. Wizard had just made a mighty powerful enemy in the Janson Trucking Company. Actually, they’d been his enemy from the second he’d jumped line, but they might have let him live . . . suffer, but live. Maybe. Now she didn’t think so. They were likely to gut him and feed his intestines down his own throat.
Her breath hissed from between her teeth. She needed the Gladow winnings. For herself. For Beth.
Frig. She needed that temporary license, which meant she was just as stupid as Wizard was, because she was about to step into his ﬁght.
Hugging the shadows, she sprinted to the edge of the wall, climbed onto her snowscooter, and gunned the engine. She spun the scooter in an arc. Heart racing, she stopped sharply near the door of the truck stop, just behind the dumb jackass who had so thoroughly messed up her plans.
“Get on,” Raina shouted. Several of the Janson men were closing in, and she was glad that the hood of her anorak hid her features from view. She could only pray that they wouldn’t recognize her.
Yeah, right. “If you have one iota of sense, get on.”
Wizard whipped around to face her. For a frozen moment he stood silhouetted against the light streaming from the window behind him. She thought he would prove that he lacked even that one iota of sense she’d mentioned, for he just stood there, his head tilted as he watched the line of Janson truckers who were slowly stalking him, closing in behind her. She could sense them, see the hazy reﬂection of their faces in the windows of the truck stop at Wizard’s back.
Then with a shrug, he swung one long leg over the seat of the snowscooter, his arms coming around her waist as he climbed on.
Dragging in a deep breath, Raina gunned the engine and took off into the star-tossed night. Heart racing, she set the speed as fast as she dared, knowing the dangers of hitting a deep rut at high speed. Knowing, too, that there was a strong likelihood they’d be followed. Even over the noise of the engine she could hear the roar of a mob denied.
Heat exploded in a shimmering wave, and for an instant night turned to day as someone ﬁred a round of plas-shot.
Wizard’s reaction had to be instinctive. He pushed up tight against her back, protecting her with his body. With a hiss, she jerked her elbow sharply into his gut, sending the message that she didn’t need him to act like human armor. Moron.
She could feel him behind her, pressed up against her back, his muscled thighs melded to hers, his arms forming a solid vise around her waist. He was bigger than she had expected. When he’d stepped down from his truck, all she’d registered was the size of Big Luc, the danger posed by the Janson drivers.
She’d thought Wizard some harmless prey.
Now, with the feel of his long, hard body pushed up against her, she wondered how she could have been so wrong.
She shifted forward a couple of inches, putting as much space between them as she could. Her thoughts turned back to the men they’d left behind. She knew for certain that the Janson hadn’t expected anyone to play savior to their chosen quarry. And since she’d been fool enough to take on the role… well, she could only hope that she’d not been recognized. Making an enemy of Janson Trucking was a fool’s work. And that fool was on the back of her snowscooter.
Annoyance curled through her. Now that she’d saved him, just where was she supposed to take him? She stared out into the night, endless star-stippled sky above a frozen waste. His rig was parked back at the truck stop, and until the Janson left, she’d be wiser not to return there. Her rig was parked to the east, on a little-known access road that actually led to nowhere— a throwback to the days before the Fossil Fuel Edict of 2089. With a shake of her head she turned east, mentally chastising herself for getting involved in something that was none of her affair. But, hell, she needed that license, because she was going to win that race to Gladow Station.
The bite of the wind had grown bitter with the advancing night, and Raina tugged her hood closer around her face as she drove. Some thirty minutes passed before the outline of her truck loomed ahead, a bulky, dark silhouette against the midnight sky, chrome trim highlighted by the beam of the snow-scooter’s headlight.
“Home, sweet home,” she muttered as she killed the engine and climbed off the seat, pulling the hood of her parka back. The frigid air slapped her skin as she stalked forward, and she was glad for the discomfort. Maybe it would smack some sense into her. Lord knew she’d left hers in the lot outside the truck stop when she’d offered a ride to Wizard.
Expecting him to be right behind her, she keyed in the code, opened the door of the cab, and climbed inside. She spoke over her shoulder as she ﬂicked on the light. “You can lie low here for the night, get your truck tomorrow. Big Luc and his friends will either be gone by morning, or too drunk to notice when you come back for your rig. Either way, you aren’t going anywhere tonight. Too dangerous.”
When there was no reply, Raina turned and found to her exasperation that Wizard was leaning against the snowscooter, arms crossed, legs outstretched, face obscured by the hood of his anorak. He was no more than a dark shadow on an equally dark night. His posture was comfortable, relaxed, as though the glacial chill were no more than a temperate breeze.
“Are you planning to sleep out there?” she called.
“Preferably not.” He rose and crossed the space that separated them. The light from the cab leaked across the snow, then across him as he stepped into the circle of its scattered rays. “But it is impolite to enter another’s domicile without an invitation.”
“You want an invitation to my domicile?” She snorted. “Won’t you join me for tea?” Moron.
Raina had a ﬂeeting impression of dark hair spilling from beneath his hood before he ducked his head and climbed up the side of the cab. She stepped back to let him in, unfastened the catch-seam of her own parka, and hung it on the hook behind the driver’s seat.
She led the way into the small living quarters that backed off the driver’s cabin. She felt awkward having him here. Gesturing to the plasma screen set into one wall of her rig, she spoke over her shoulder, babbling as she tried to cover her discomfort. “I can track six satellites, and over four thousand channels. Used to be seven satellites, but I think an orbit decayed.”
Her companion made no reply. It appeared that he wasn’t interested in small talk. Fine by her. She wasn’t particularly adept at it herself.
Snatching a pile of microdisks off the plastitech chair, she clutched them against her chest as she looked around for somewhere to put them. The chair was the only place to sit other than the bed, and she wasn’t about to offer himthat. Hazarding a glance over her shoulder, Raina checked just to make certain he was still there, and her breath skidded to a stunned stop.
He was right behind her, his tall frame a hand span away. Up close, with his hood thrown back, the catch-seam of his parka undone, Wizard didn’t look helpless at all. A day’s growth of beard shaded the chiseled plane of his jaw, and his full lips were drawn into a hard line. He looked dangerous, self-assured, frightening. Not a man who’d needed saving.
Hugging the microdisks like a shield, Raina tipped her head back and met his eyes. Slate gray. Cold. She swallowed. What the hell had she been thinking to bring him here? He wasn’t some lost puppy who needed a warm place to sleep.
She blew out a slow breath.
As if sensing her discomfort, Wizard took a step back. Turning, he looked around the interior of her tiny quarters. Barely the size of a large closet, it was actually luxurious for a trucker.
He crossed to the plasma screen, ran one ﬁnger lightly across the buttons. Watching him touch her things with those strong, blunt ﬁngers made her feel uneasy.
Annoyed at herself for bringing him here, irritated that he unnerved her, she had an urge to make him as uncomfortable as he made her. “You were late,” she said ﬂatly.
“Afﬁrmative.” He picked up a microdisk, put it down again.
She’d already surmised that he didn’t have much in the way of gray matter, so she spoke deliberately and clearly. “I was counting on you to arrive as agreed with the special license.”
Turning his head, he glanced over his shoulder, his silky black hair falling forward to caress the hard line of his jaw. There were marcasite beads woven through a long braid behind his right ear, and they caught the light, glittering as he moved.
“I agreed to meet Bowen with the license. No one mentioned a girl.”
A girl. She gritted her teeth. Yanking open a cupboard door, she shoved the microdisks inside. “I’m Bowen. Raina Bowen.”
“Yes.” He stared at her a moment too long, then slowly paced to the opposite side of the small space.
Yes? What was that supposed to mean?
“I was supposed to meet Sam Bowen.” He tapped the wall, opened and closed a cupboard. “A well-appointed rig. Hydrogen power? Fuel cell?”
Raina nodded, then realized he wasn’t looking at her.
“Yeah. With solar panels on the roof of the cab along with a hydroponics grow-tube.” She paused. “Whoever you were expecting to meet, you were still late.”
Well, that about summed it up. She bit her tongue against the urge to demand an explanation, deciding that the why of it didn’t really matter.
Pushing open the door to the minuscule bathroom, he poked his head inside, and then turned to face her. “Efﬁcient and well designed. Full bathroom. Shower stall. Mind if I use it when we are done?”
“Done?” With what?
He shrugged. “I can use the shower before, if you prefer, though I used the one in my rig just this afternoon.”
Wizard pulled off his parka, folded it with meticulous care, and placed it neatly on the plastitech chair. He wore a black thermal top that clung to every muscled ridge of his torso. Raina swallowed, looking despite herself. Hell, she could appreciate art as well as the next woman.
He was even taller, broader, more leanly muscled than she’d thought. The realization clanged a warning bell. Slipping her knife from the sheath hanging across the small of her back, she shifted into a defensive stance. Wizard hooked his ﬁngers into the hem of his shirt and began to peel it off, baring a nice strip of golden skin and ridged abdomen.
Oh, man. Somehow this guy had leaped to a conclusion that was just plain wrong.
“Uh, Wizard. Nice show, but I’m not looking for a stripper.”Or a quick lay, but she couldn’t manage those words out loud.
His hands stilled midmovement, and he raised a questioning brow. Gray eyes glittered beneath dark lashes, scanning her with unhurried interest. She saw him take note of the knife, his gaze sliding over it, unconcerned. “My mistake,” he conceded gracefully. “So what are we doing here, Raina Bowen?”
“What are we doing here? You thought I wanted… with you…a worthless gun trucker…?” She tamped down the insidious voice that whispered across her thoughts, telling her that he was one gorgeous specimen of worthless gun trucker, and maybe that was worth something. “Well, I’m not sure about you, Wiii-zaaard,” she said softly, drawing out his name in a fair imitation of Big Luc, “but I’m saving your butt.”
“My butt?” He blinked, tilting his head a bit to one side. “Saving it for what? Breakfast?”
She couldn’t help it. She laughed. His head jerked up, his gaze locked on hers, a ﬂicker of surprise betrayed and then masked.
Hell. He really was dumb as a post. And he clearly had no intention of pushing the issue of coital association between them.
Deciding that while he might not be harmless, he wasn’t about to attack, Raina resheathed her knife and reached for the spare pillow.
Wizard lay on his back on the ﬂoor. He could hear the deep, even rhythm of Raina Bowen’s breathing, knew she’d fallen asleep almost as soon as her head had touched the pillow. For a minute there, he’d thought she was going to tell him to go outside and sleep in the snow. Nice of her to offer her hard, cold ﬂoor for his comfort.
Staring into the darkness that engulfed the small room, he analyzed the events that had resulted in his current circumstance. At the truck stop, when he’d turned to ﬁnd a gorgeous girl on a snowscooter, blond hair spilling out her hood and over her shoulder, eyes ﬂashing blue ﬁre, he’d assumed she’d wanted what most women wanted from him: an endless, perfect night. If he hadn’t mistaken her intentions, hadn’t assumed that she wanted sexual congress, he would never have jumped on the back of her snowscooter. And if she hadn’t distracted him, he would have ﬁnished with the Janson and he’d be sleeping in his own warm bed right now.
To ﬁnd out that he’d mistaken Raina Bowen for a girl on the prowl…
Mistakes were outside the realm of acceptable conduct. That he’d made one tonight, over something so basic, was intolerable and not in the scope of his normal behavior patterns. Worse, he’d made a joke. Or at least, he’d tried.
People rarely found his attempts at humor funny. But Raina Bowen had been amused. All the years he had worked to understand humor, failing at every attempt, andthis woman had laughed at his wit.
Until he’d been almost eleven years old, he hadn’t even realized that there was such a thing as comedy, and it had taken another decade before he’d begun to understand that he was supposed to laugh, or at least smile, when someone cracked a joke. Guess that made him a late bloomer.
He’d been practicing, though. He tried it now, under the cover of darkness, forcing the corners of his mouth to lift in an awkward parody of a smile. Oh, it might not look awkward to an observer, but it felt inexplicably strange to him.
He heard Raina shift in her sleep. There was a rack of weapons right above her bed. Two knives. A Bolinger plasma gun, modiﬁed, from what he could see. Nice. She’d made a point of placing a third knife beside her hand as she climbed into bed, made a point of making sure he noticed.
The lady wasn’t one to take chances. He didn’t need a dictionary to tell him that she didn’t know the deﬁnition of trust. Of course, there was no reason for her to trust him. An image of Sam Bowen ﬂashed through his mind. Wizard analyzed the probabilities and determined the most likely scenario of exactly how she’d grown up. Bullied. Pushed toward the paranoid. Indoctrinated with the belief that betrayal waited at every turn. Sam Bowen must have taught his daughter the truth as he knew it.
Trust? No reason at all that she would trust him. Smart girl. But it would have made his job a little easier.
He knew her by reputation. Raina Bowen. In recent years Sam hadn’t mentioned his daughter, never talked about her, but there were plenty of other people who did. The stories made her sound like a crazed Amazon. Hard to believe. He glanced at the bed where she slept. Pitch-black, but he could still see her. Hear her. Smell her subtle fragrance. He couldn’t turn off his senses if he wanted to; they were genetic gifts that had been granted him before he was born. And right now he was glad for those gifts, because for some insane reason he liked lying in the darkness of Raina’s truck, listening to her breathe.
Frowning, he shifted on the hard ﬂoor, his agile mind sifting through bits of information that had ﬁltered to him over the past few months. While this turn of events explained much, they also complicated his plan, though not signiﬁcantly. The stories were true. Sam Bowen was dead.
And as he recalled, the rumors said it was his daughter who had killed him.
Book 1 | Dystopian
Northern Waste Series
…kind of Mad Max meets Red Dawn…
…packs a wallop…The action never stops…the characters are compelling and unforgettable…one of the most entertaining books I’ve read all year.
—All About Romance
Anyone looking for something different, will find [Silver]’s steamy, sinewy universe great fun…
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
One of the best books I’ve read in ages.
—New York Times Bestselling Author Marjorie M. Liu
Eve [Silver] expertly fuses nonstop action and adventure; a cutting-edge, exceptionally inventive setting; and a terrific, take-charge, no-nonsense heroine in DRIVEN, a fresh, fabulously fun futuristic romance.
—John Charles, The Chicago Tribune
Best Genre Fiction in 2007 by Library Journal
Romantic Times BOOKreviews Reviewers Choice award winner
2008 All About Romance Annual Reader Poll Award
Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal