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Davlova: a poverty-ridden city-state ruled by a tyrannical upper class. Resources are scarce and technology is illegal. But in the slums, revolution is brewing.
Misha is a common pickpocket until his boss gives him a new job. Disguised as a whore, Misha is sent to work for one of the most powerful men in the city. But his real task is far more dangerous: get close to Miguel Donato, and find something – anything – that will help topple Davlova’s corrupt government
Misha is plunged into the decadent world of the upper class, where slaves are common and even the most perverse pleasure can be found. Although he’s sure Davlova’s elite is involved in something horrific, proof is hard to come by, and Misha begins to fall in love with the man he’s supposed to betray. Then Misha meets Ayo – a sex slave forced by the neural implant in his brain to take pleasure from pain – and everything changes. As the lower class pushes toward a bloody revolution, Misha will find himself caught between his surprising feelings for Donato, his obligations to his clan, and his determination to save Ayo.
Warning: This book contains graphic descriptions of violent sexual acts of questionable consent that may be disturbing to some readers.
I didn’t go through the front door of headquarters. Frey would have beaten me up one side and down the other if I’d been so stupid. I went past the building, feeling as always that the gargoyles on top were waiting to pounce on me if I looked up. I slid under the fence of a run-down hostel, then through a gate and behind a thorny rose bush that never bloomed. I lifted a drain grate that didn’t actuallycover a drain. I had the kid go first, then followed behind, sliding down a narrow tunnel into a cellar. From there, I walked through an unlit, dirt-floored corridor, and finally I knocked our code onto a plain wood door—one, three, one—asking admittance.
Our den was all but deserted this time of day. The kid guarding the door was the only person I saw. I left the new boy with him and made my way alone through the cramped quarters of our den to the tiny room at the end of the hall. I climbed a short ladder to a trapdoor in the ceiling. I knocked the code again. Got a heavy thump in return, which meant the coast wasn’t clear. I waited, shifting in my boots. Now that I was off the street, down in the safety of my home, I suddenly had to pee. Not only that, but the smell of my mark’s previous whore, still all over my face, seemed stronger than ever. I resisted the urge to knock again. I knew better.
Eventually the trap door opened, and a hand I recognized as Frey’s—all those heavy silver rings on the long, graceful fingers—descended through the opening to help me up. I emerged into a dark storage space, staring into Frey’s humorless eyes. We were somewhere behind and to the right of the stage. Muffled music drifted through the walls.
“Took you long enough,” I said to Frey.
“Fuck you,” he replied. He even though I knew well enough there was no cock between his legs, just like I knew he wore a cloth wrapped around his chest to hide the breasts with which birth had cursed him. Frey had been born Freyja, but I’d seen what happened to flats fool enough to remind Frey of that fact.
“Why are you guarding the door?” Usually somebody lower in our strange little hierarchy did that.
“Everybody else is working the festival.” Frey flicked his hand across his forehead. It was a gesture left over from his days as a woman, when he’d pushed his long hair from his face. Now it was shorn within an inch of his skull, eventhough that meant revealing the strange bald spots behind his right ear that hinted at a neural implant.
I’d never had the balls to ask about that.
“I got word Anzhéla wanted me.”
Frey hooked a ringed thumb over his shoulder. “She’swaiting for you in her office.”
I stopped in the bathroom on my way, partly to emptymy bladder, partly to clean up a bit. Kids new to the clan might show up in front of Anzhéla smelling like a street whore, but the woman had saved my life more times than I could count. I opted to show her a bit more respect than that. I scrubbed my face and hands and used a bit of water to tame my unruly hair where it had escaped from its queue. Finally, I made my way to the room on the second floor that had once served as a projection room, before the ban. Now, it was Anzhéla’s office.
No need for secret knocks and subterfuge here. Nobody who wasn’t trustworthy would have made it this far. I knocked only to let her know I’d arrived, but walked in before she could call out a greeting.
“I hear you need me.”
One might expect the head of one of Davlova’s biggest crime syndicates to be big and tough. One would have been wrong. Anzhéla looked like some kind of nymph, a few years past the bloom of her youth. She had thick dark hair, just starting to go grey at the temples, and tiny hands. Huge beaded hoops hung from her ears. She smiled when she saw me and leaned back in her chair to prop her booted feet up on her desk. “Got a job for you.”
“I was already doing a job.”
She wrinkled her freckled nose at me to let me know what she thought of that. Never mind that it was all for her. She had plenty of kids to work the streets. Apparently, this was bigger. “Talia needs a whore.”
“I thought Talia had whores.”
“She needs you.”
“I’m not a whore.”
“You are now.”
A.M. Sexton (who also writes gay romance as Marie Sexton) is a typical soccer mom. She has a fondness for wine and cheese, an addiction to coffee, and occasionally bleeds orange and blue. She lives in Colorado with her husband, their daughter, her dog, and one very stupid cat.