If you pay regular attention to my postings, you know I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for female assassin characters (two words: Black Widow). And if you’ve been following Boosting the Signal, you also know that QUILTBAG books are highly relevant to my interests as well. What happens when you put these two things together? You get today’s featured book: Elle E. Ire’s SF romance Vicious Circle. The author has an excerpt from the work for your consideration today, introducing the assassin Cor–whose goal is to decide between fleeing her Guild, and seeking a life with the woman she’s coming to love. But things are complicated, for Kila’s hired Cor to kill her abusive brother, and surely she won’t want a relationship with the woman who carried out that death for her. Or will she? Check it out!
I spent a restless night on the too-firm couch with a couple of neon pink throw pillows under my head. In the darkness, the house creaked and groaned with each gust of wind off the bay, and I wondered how many generations of her family had lived here. Kila left the window open, and the smell of salt air carried on the breeze. Desert-raised as I was, the ocean attracted me as any novelty would, and I strained my ears to hear each lapping wave against the village docks.
The moonlight shining through the shutters lit the entire suite in shades of bluish white. Kila’s shadowy form tossed and turned on her wide mattress, and I resisted the urge to go to her and offer comfort from her nightmares. After all, there was a good chance my upcoming mission here caused them. She might reject or resent my concern. At last, she settled and snored lightly in a most endearing manner.
I strangled in my own needs, inner voices of reason and desire arguing amongst themselves until I wanted to shout them down regardless of waking the household. What in all religions’ hells was I thinking, anyway? Suppose Kila did want me, with all my violent traits and psychological failings. Suppose I slipped into bed beside her right now. What then? I came to do a job. Though I didn’t intend to be seen or get caught, once that job ended, I couldn’t exactly take off with the girl in tow. She didn’t deserve a life of running with me, hiding from the Guild’s punishments.
And I certainly couldn’t stay on Lissex.
For years, I belonged to the Guild. They provided a sense of family and stability. I needed that, wanted that, and hadn’t had it since I’d left. Kila’s parents might accept me if I proved myself to them. It was just another type of trial, not so much unlike those the Guild subjected me to. Less painful, less physical, but no less challenging.
I stood and paced in the darkness, bare feet sinking into plush carpeting. I’d lost my mind. I couldn’t stay here. Kila wouldn’t want me after I killed her brother, no matter how much relief that act gave her. I’d still be a painful memory. And what if the Guild found me here? They’d out me as an assassin, make it obvious I was the one who killed her brother. They’d ignore Kila. They didn’t harm innocents. But she’d watch them hunt and capture me, perhaps kill me before they could haul me back to the underground fortress to execute me there. I didn’t want her to see that.
Throwing myself on the couch again, I buried my face in the pink pillows and covered my head with my arms.