My current excerpt is from Ability, book 9 of the To Be Sinclair series, which is now available for pre-order and will be live on July 20th:
The first female navigator in the Demesnes' Service, Princess Brielle Sinclair proves she can handle it all -- her duties, the hazing, her surly bunkmate. She's totally ace, but her cyborg implants also give her the ability to 'see' stelluric waves, the building blocks of wormholes and stargates.
A technological disaster shortens Brielle's liberty on the planet Venturi, and leads to the retrieval of her sophomore chemistry lab partner, Lord Zak Ellison, a deep undercover agent dealing with the disaster while enslaved by a mysterious being. When her ship then gets embroiled in a puzzling energetic influence from Venturi, the Emperor needs her to handle the situation.
How can Brielle extricate Zak from this horrible assignment, as well as help him with his troubled past? And what will it take to deal with the stelluric problem they've nicknamed the 'hellbeast'?
Nodding sagely, Ortiz directed one nod out toward the mat. “Want to spar?”
“I only spar with Sentinels.” At his notable surprise, she shrugged. “I was responsible for the medical discharge of two cadets in boot camp. I’m not about to pit myself against men who have something to prove by beating me, or who might hesitate because I’m a woman. Because I truly don’t fight to work out; I fight to kill.”
Ortiz swallowed. “Mind if I spread the word?”
“Not in the least.” She stretched her legs again. “I better do my sit-ups to balance out all the emphasis on my traps and lats.”
“Yeah, I can see why you leave it for last. Why do you do them upside-down, though?”
“Because I think legs should be as useful as arms, especially if the ship were to ever lose gravity.”
Grinning at his further surprise, she went to hang the weight bar on the highest notches she could reach, wrapped her knees over it, and began her sit-up routine. Left, center, right, center, she never counted these, instead letting her mind roam freely until she could do them no longer.
Hanging there afterward, heaving great breaths, she stared upside-down at the men, a few of whom were staring right back. She wished she could spar with them, but these weren’t the sharpest, smartest, or fastest men in the Service; Sentinel recruited those men. She simply couldn’t justify risking her life, or anyone else’s life, just to ‘work out’.
With one more sit-up, she grabbed the bar, dropped to the floor, and practiced some crescent kicks to loosen her legs before heading back to her bunkroom. Ortiz must not have spread the word fast enough, because four men jumped her as soon as she left the gym, each grabbing one limb.
Fighting as dirty as she could, she bucked, bit, screamed with rage, and broke one man’s neck when she kicked her foot out of his grip and squarely into his head, feeling the crack through her cleats. As he fell, sheer adrenaline and a twisting trick helped her pull another man over her body, breaking his forearm against her hip in an ugly compound fracture that spurted a generous amount of blood all over her, causing him to howl.
“Hey, hey!” one fellow shouted, letting go of her other arm. Landing on her hands, Brielle twisted her other leg out of the last guy’s grip, gained her feet, and backed up against the wall of the corridor. “We were just gonna treat you to a bit of hazing.”
“Yeah, well, guess what? You just cost your buddy his life.” Brielle spat toward his face, with the bloody spittle falling just short of his feet. “And that’s what I think of hazing.”
She ran up the corridor as fast as her exhaustion would allow her. Looking back just once, she saw the men huddled in grief over their companions, as men from the gym and nearby Sick Bay, Dental, and Psych departments came out to investigate the extremely brief incident.
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