© 2017 by Eve Silver. 

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Northern Waste Series

Frozen  *New Release*

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Raina Bowen was bored, annoyed, and itching for a fight even before the Siberian gun truckers arrived.

She hunched in the shadows outside the ramshackle mess that was Abbott’s Inn and Pub, keeping an eye on the rig because this was the sort of place that a girl could head inside for ten minutes and come back out to find her transport disappeared into thin air.

Part of her wanted to take the risk, to walk into the store attached to said Inn and Pub and throw out a few questions of her own. Or maybe just hit the guy behind the counter. That could work.

Or it could kill any chance of getting answers.

She and Wizard were here for one reason only: get information about Wizard’s formerly missing and presumed dead, now possibly alive sister, Tatiana.

After a brief discussion, they’d decided he should be the one to head inside and question Boyd Abbott, the store’s proprietor. Boyd dealt in everything from foodstuffs to stolen scooters to weapons to unwilling human flesh peddled to the highest bidder. Welcome to the frigging frozen Waste, where temperatures were cold enough to freeze the dick off an ice statue and human decency was pretty much missing in action.

The last time Raina had chatted with Boyd, things had gone south fast. It had been a while ago, when she’d been one hundred percent on her own, a time before a ball of cytoplast blew Wizard’s rig to bits, before he tagged along in the passenger seat of hers, before he invaded her life and her heart.

Yeah, the last she and Boyd had talked, she’d ended up punching him in the face. He might not remember her; he’d been drunk, and she suspected he got punched in the face a lot.

But just in case, leaving her outside to watch the rig and sending Wizard inside to chat Boyd up seemed like a better plan.

Except…Wizard and chatting didn’t really belong in the same sentence.

She sighed and stamped her feet, more for something to do than for any hope of getting warm.

And that was where the gun truckers came in. She watched them race across the bleak expanse of flat, frozen land, watched them pull into the rutted slab of ice that served as a parking lot, complete with a single sickly lumi-light dangling from a crooked pole.

She sized up the snowscooters first—three sleek, shiny Morgats. Graphite storage for the hydrogen. Not a scratch on them. Pretty. Too fine for three gun truckers.

They noticed her right off as they climbed off their scooters. And she noticed them. They were big, brawny, loud, shrouded in layers and layers of dark cloth, tattered and frayed. They joked and shoved each other as they sauntered toward her, breath puffing white. Ten feet away, the stink slammed her hard enough to make her eyes water. Or maybe they were watering because of the temperature, a balmy minus forty degrees, and dropping.

No—she took a breath through her nose and almost gagged—no, it was definitely the smell. What was it with gun truckers and soap avoidance?

“What have we here?” one of them asked as they split in opposite directions, flanking her.

“Keep walking, boys,” Raina said, giving them a chance, her voice low and even.

They didn’t heed her polite request. They shouldered each other and made lewd gestures to accompany their graphic descriptions of the things they planned to do to her.

Her left hand dropped to the butt of the sweet little Setti9 holstered on her thigh, while her right hand went to the small of her back to grasp the hilt of her knife.

“I don’t want any trouble,” she said, but in truth, a tiny part of her did. A tiny part of her wanted to feel the adrenaline rush of the fight.

She didn’t want to kill them. She never wanted to kill.

She didn’t even want to hurt them. Not badly.

“No trouble.” The two guys on her right edged closer. The taller guy on her left kept talking. “We’re friendly. You be friendly. Everything will be fine.”

He caught the end of her ponytail where it spilled out the side of her hood and gave it a tug.

“Let’s say I’m not looking to make any friends,” Raina said, jerking her head to pull her hair free of his grasp. She stepped back against the side of her rig so they wouldn’t be able to get behind her.

The talker’s expression grew hard. “Then we’ll just convince you.”

Raina shook her head and made a final attempt. “Last warning. Leave. Now.”

The talker laughed, a hard, ugly sound. “Who’s going to make me?”

“Clearly not this helpless, lone girl,” Raina muttered, dipping her chin and casting him a sidelong glance through her lashes.

One of the guys on the right broke ranks and lunged. She had her knife clear of its sheath and buried in his shoulder to the hilt before any of the others could react. She kept her grip on the knife as he jerked away, tripped on his own feet, and fell, the blade pulling free. With a howl, he pressed his fist to the bleeding wound.

“She stabbed me. You stabbed me! What did you do that for, bitch?” he yelled as she shot the remaining guy on the right in the knee.

She spun, kicked back, and caught the one on the left—the talker—in the throat with the full force of her booted foot. He stumbled back with a wheezing gasp. Guess he wouldn’t be doing any more talking.

Both guys on the right were on the ground. Guy on the left wasn’t. With a snarl, he came at her, snapping a kick that appeared to be aimed at her head, only to change direction at the last second and slam her wrist instead. Her fingers went numb and the Setti fell to the ground. She was rusty; she hadn’t been in the solo fight mindset in a while.

The talker had his knife out now, a wicked titanium blade with a wrapped handle. Nice. She went in close, catching the side of his jaw with her elbow, cracking the opposite side with the hilt of her knife on the return arc, leaving him looking a bit dazed. Then she danced back, outside his reach, as he grabbed for her and missed.

The guy she’d shot in the knee was using her rig to try and drag himself back to his feet. The third guy, the one she’d stabbed in the shoulder, where was he—

He threw both arms around her lower legs from behind and pulled, catching her by surprise. She went down like a sack of grain, the air leaving her lungs in a rush, pain exploding from her ass all the way up her spine.

His eyes flicked to a point over her shoulder, his distraction enough that her right hook caught his cheekbone.

“Not good,” Wizard said from somewhere behind her.

She didn’t dare take her eyes from her adversary, so she couldn’t glare at Wizard the way she would have liked.

The guy on the ground with her went for her knife. She blocked and slammed the heel of her palm up. He jerked away fast enough that she missed his nose, slow enough that she caught his lower lip.

In her peripheral vision she caught a glimpse of Wizard standing with his head tilted, assessing things. Then he stepped forward.

“Don’t you dare,” she said. If he jumped into her fight, she was going to deck him right along with the gun truckers, none of whom paid any attention to Wizard. As long as he didn’t try to keep them from what they wanted—her—they’d ignore him.

The guy on the ground grappled for her knife one-handed, the wound in his shoulder hampering his efforts. She shifted the blade to an overhand grip and brought it down, stabbing him for the second time. This time she got him in the thigh. He yowled and punched her in the head, a glancing blow, because she managed to move just in time. Unfortunately, he moved too, and her knife went with him, out of her reach.

Glancing blow or not, her head reeled. She fought for equilibrium.

“Pulling it out might not be the best plan,” she said in a rush as he reached for the hilt where it stood straight up from his thigh. “If I hit the femoral artery, you’ll bleed out in seconds. Keep it in to block the flow.”

His eyes widened. And he left the knife where it was.

The talker must have fought off his vertigo, because as she started to rise, he was on her like white on snow. She scuttled sideways as he launched himself at her, partially pinning her beneath him, their proximity preventing her from doing much more than wriggle. But it also kept him from stabbing her. She’d count that as a good thing.

Arching up in a neck bridge, Raina pushed her weight onto her head, digging the toes of her boots into the ground. His chest was against hers, his breath puffing in her face. Bending her knees, she opened a small space between their bodies and wedged her right hand between his chest and hers. He shifted, expecting her next move, expecting her to scissor her legs, roll, and escape his pin.

She’d been counting on that.

But she had no intention of escaping or doing what he expected. Instead, she slid her hand down, grabbed his nuts, and twisted.

With a yelp, he rolled away. 

Raina pushed to her feet and spun, panting, stance low.

Her opponent came to his feet a good two seconds later, lips pressed tight, nostrils flaring. One hand cupped his man parts. The other still held his knife.

He lunged and thrust. She blocked his knife hand, then the blow with his free fist. He blocked the punch she threw and twisted so her kick grazed off his hip. She backed away again, judging his speed, his focus, his reach. The guy with the knife wounds was out of the game, both hands busy as he applied pressure to stem the flow of blood. The guy she’d shot in the knee was struggling to his feet. The talker shifted side to side in front of her while his friend limped out of her line of sight.

“The soldier who is attacked from behind…” Wizard said.

“Is the one who dies,” Raina finished for him. Wizard had been an assassin for the NGO—the New Government Order. He still quoted from their training manual every once in a while, a fact she usually found both endearing and eye-roll inducing. Right now, it was purely the latter.

From behind her came the step-shush, step-shush of the guy with the bad knee as he worked his way into position.

Time to end this.

“Hey,” she said, spreading her hands wide as if in surrender. “Let’s discuss this…”

The talker hesitated, and she flexed at the knee, then straightened her leg in a rapid side kick, her boot slamming against his temple. She didn’t wait to watch him drop. She went down, rolled, grabbed her Setti from the ground and came up firing, hitting the second guy in the shoulder. He staggered back, caught himself, and came at her with a significant limp and a bellow of pain and rage.

Wizard stuck his foot out.

The bellow ended in a thud and a yelp.

Chapter One
Book 2  |  SciFi Romance
 Northern Waste Series

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

Raina and Wizard are back, racing across the Northern Waste to outrun ice pirates as they follow a distress call to an isolated community that just might hold the answers to the mystery of Wizard's missing-and-presumed-dead, now-possibly-alive sister, Tatiana. But instead of answers, all they find are buried secrets and a truckload of trouble.

 

For those of you who've been missing the Northern Waste, FROZEN is a brand new novella that takes place between the events of DRIVEN and HIDDEN. It can be read as a stand-alone.

 

Warning: FROZEN includes non-stop action, Reavers, snowscooters, plasguns, frigid temperatures, rebels, a heroine who's a blond tsunami with a backbone of pure steel, and a smart, hot hero who has a little difficulty with emotion.