BOOK: Tethered by Pippa Jay



She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man’s grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war?

For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn’t simply something she was trained for. It’s the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she’s about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless.

For Zander D’joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way.

Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there’s more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?

After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, Broad Universe, and EPIC, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), the EPIC eBook awards, and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

You can stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.



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She shed the copper dress Visaya had persuaded her into, but guilt poked at her as she stepped out of it. With a little more care than she would have shown her clothing back in Refuge, she gathered up the garment and draped it over the back of a plush, plum-colored sofa that curved around one corner of the room. The white silken shift she wore underneath clung around her torso and hips, but left her limbs free. Swaying to the music, she pulled the pins and clasps that bound her hair, releasing it one braid at a time. With each loosened and the soothing rhythms, her tension eased. She could do this. It wouldn't be so hard.

The last braid fell and she massaged her scalp, breathing out a thankful sigh. The music wrapped around her like cammer, a mild tranquilizing drug favored by some rhythmic trancers. She'd taken it a time or three while waiting on a target, though their use was forbidden in Refuge.

Warmth flowed through her body, and all her concerns seemed to wash away. This would be easy. She twirled beneath the bubbles of light, submerging into the pulsing beat of the song. It filled her thoughts, blanked all her worries. The music possessed her, moved her body without her conscious control. Her arms lifted of their own volition. Colored light glided over her vision, and the room seemed to vanish. She giggled as she floated.

But I haven't Misted out, she thought suddenly, with a faint twinge of alarm at the strange euphoria that filled her. She couldn't feel her body, only a heated glow and the racing pulse of her heart in time with the music.

She tried to draw breath, panic coming in a cold sweat and a convulsive jerk of her body. The floor smacked into her side and pain crashed into her skull. She lay on the carpet, her limbs twitching spasmodically and her throat closed tight. The rhythm of the music spiked into her mind, agony piercing her body.


But how? She fought to pull in air but nothing responded. She tried to move her arm and it jerked, not fully under her control. Her vision shifted in a sickening lurch that tossed and turned the features of the room in a miasmic swirl. Light and music continued to play over her skin, hypnotic in their intensity.


The paralysis deepened, and yet her body juddered as she went into a spasm.

The ring.

She needed to squeeze the ring.

Her hand twitched; the circle of silver a gleam of hope. She tried to crush it between her fingers, but they'd gone numb, all sensation a vague and distant thing.

Suffocating, heart pounding, she couldn't even manage a whimper as darkness swamped her mind and blackened her vision.


Trepidation strummed along her nerves in a way she hadn't felt since her first assignment. Sweat dampened her palms, and she tried to wipe them on the formal robe without being seen. The material, in folds of copper satin, refused to accept the moisture and she clenched her hands into fists. How much longer? She didn't want to wait in this anteroom, in an ornate, full-length dress, and her hair gathered into braids on her head and drawn so tight she felt as if her face had been pulled back several inches into her scalp. Why did they have to go through with this poxy charade? Why couldn't she and D'joren just go for a capprey together and say hello. It shouldn't take a whole frigging performance for a single greeting.

Stop fidgeting! she told herself.

This was more than nerves. Perhaps it was the shielding the council had provided her to protect her from the influx of auras. In Refuge, the Inc-Su lived in harmony with each other—well, relatively speaking—and shielding wasn't necessary. Out in the field, they could control it for a time, long enough for the job, but it was draining. Having to maintain that shield for the foreseeable future would've seriously impaired her ability to function, but the nanotech device seemed to play on her nerves.

Like a subliminal buzz at the edge of her mental hearing.

Her fingers drifted to her right collarbone and brushed the slight ridge beneath her skin where the control had been grafted into the bone. As a general rule, Inc-Su shunned any kind of cybernetic enhancements, already being genetically specialized. Most traveling outside Refuge wore a shielding device for convenience, but in her role as Mirsee the device needed to be hidden. Submitting to the insertion of such tech into her own body had been like ingesting a disgusting parasite. Raw.

"My lady?" The majordomo called to her from an open door behind her. In her agitation, she hadn't even heard him coming. Damn it, what good would she be as protection if she couldn't keep herself under control? D'joren had her behaving like an untutored newbie.

Her anxiety focused into a fine beam of resentment for her co-delegate. This was all his fault!

She drew herself up, sucked in a long breath, and willed the turmoil in her gut still as she trailed Pevanne into the main room. Calm seeped through her as she let the breath back out in a slow sigh. D'joren was only human, and she was fully-trained Su. She outranked him, and she could kick his co-delegate behind with both hands tied.

A hunched figure, dressed in brown, sat with his broad back toward her, and irritation threatened her newly-reclaimed composure. Damn it, didn't he know any basic personal safety measures at all? If she'd come as his assassin instead of his co-delegate, he'd have been a dead man already. A thought warmed her. She might be here as his protection, but she could damn well beat some sense into him in the guise of training. The prospect forced a small smile onto her face as she imagined him on his back and at her mercy.

She stalked across the floor, but with her stealth shoes on only the rustling of her robes announced her presence. If D'joren heard her, he made no move or acknowledgement.

She swept around the table, barely allowing the majordomo to voice the invitation to sit before she plumped herself into the chair that faced D'joren. He had his head bowed over a data sheet and his face half-hidden by a fringe of fine, brown hair streaked with gold. His right hand rested against his cheek.

"Master D'joren," she said briskly. "I am Tyree of the Su."

His head rose and his eyes met hers. She gasped, and her gaze snatched to the side of his face that he'd kept covered until now. Scars twined across his cheek and threaded into his hair. They had pulled up the corner of his eye—which was clearly cybernetic, judging by the fine silver threads through the white.

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