Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.
Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has previously fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, and is confronting her again in the cavernous staff dining hall.
Mabb has been tormenting a series of unfortunate individuals among the hundreds of people crowding the hall. Shayla rescued one of them from humiliation but in turn is expected to provide entertainment. She performed a knife dance, and the previous snippet ended: As the music climaxed, on the final beat, the knife and the sword flew from Shayla's hands and buried themselves an inch from Mabb's outstretched fingertips.
Mabb flinched but, to her credit, didn't snatch her hands away.
Shayla stood, head bowed once more, breathing hard. The healing wound in her shoulder screamed at her in protest. She swayed, fighting to bring the room back into focus.
A handclap echoed through her mind. Another. And another, slow and rhythmic.
She squeezed her eyes shut. She was being mocked. Her throat tightened.
Uh-oh! Has Shayla miscalculated? Find out next week.
Reminder: Ghosts of Innocence is still on special offer, down from $3.99 to just $0.99 in all major e-book formats.
Master assassin Shayla Carver has killed many times. That's what assassins do, nothing to lose sleep over, but this mission is different.
She's never killed a whole planet before.
In a time when Earth is little more than a legend, life is dangerous for wayward colonies. Everyone fears the Emperor’s power to order a Cleansing, the burning of all traces of civilization from the face of a planet. Shayla's own home world was Cleansed, and now, years later, she's ready to exact payment in kind.
But her meticulous planning didn't prepare her for living undercover amongst some of the two billion people she's about to slaughter. Ordinary people. Not the strutting Imperials readily dismissed as legitimate targets or collateral damage. Then there's the Emperor himself. An ordinary man with troubles and dreams of his own.
Did this man really order the slaughter of innocents?
Now she's starting to lose sleep.