Leopold (Saga of the Bold People #1) by M.D. Grimm
How does a human survive in an alien dominated InterGalactic Community? By becoming an assassin, of course.
At least, that’s what Leopold thought when he became an assassin for the elite. Pretending to be an alien known as Voidstriker, Leopold feeds his appetite for vengeance, killing aliens as well as taking their money. It’s a win-win to his mind. That is, until a bounty is placed upon his head.
With his true identity now revealed to the IG Community, Leopold knows it’s only a matter of time before the powerful family members of his victims come for blood. Far worse is the fact that the one who put the bounty on his head, is the one he most fears.
A routine job three cycles ago brought him face-to-face with Mastrodai, a prince of the powerful Mrrog Nation. Not only did Leopold—accidentally—destroy part of Mastrodai’s moon, but one glimpse of the mighty alien had him feeling desire for the first time in his life. He ran, and like predator after prey, Mastrodai never stopped hunting him.
Leopold is convinced that Mastrodai wants bloody revenge. But when he finally confronts the mrrog, he is stunned to realize Mastrodai wants something very different. Something surprisingly intimate—the one thing that scares Leopold more than torture.
WARNING: 1) This is NOT a fluffy romance and 2) There is torture/rape OFF PAGE (NOT between the main couple, Mastrodai and Leopold–their sexy times are always consensual), and dealing with the aftermath of assault.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult Audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Believe it or not, this story started with one scene—one little scene, then grew into a monster. Just goes to show you, you can never expect where or when or how inspiration will hit you over the head and drag you along whether you’re willing or not. Oh, what was that? What scene, you ask? It’s the one where Leopold has a showdown with Mastrodai about the bounty, and threatens to kill himself if Mastrodai doesn’t cancel it. That scene started the dominoes falling.
I never meant for this to be a series… and now I have six books planned. Typical me, actually. I guess I just “see” things in series and/or trilogies. One book simply isn’t enough to present the story in full.
This was truly a labor of love, along with blood, sweat, and tears. I hope you join me for his journey. It’s going to be a hell of a ride!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I started Leopold over seven years ago. Probably closer to eight now. I was in college and still honing my craft as a writer. I hadn’t published anything yet, and just wrote for fun when I found the time. Then, I swear, Leopold beamed his thoughts into my head one day, and I just had to write his story. I’ll be honest, though, the first draft? Sucked. Bad. So I put it away. Then took it out, then put it away again. And on and on it went. I honestly lost count how many revisions and rewrites this bad boy has gone through. And would you believe that I’ve actually cut down from where I started? This story was over 200k words (!) before some merciless slashing and burning on my part. It is far cleaner and more streamlined than it’s ever been, and I am super proud and exhausted by the work.
After a while of talking about other things, I developed an itch between my shoulder blades. As if I was being watched. I narrowed my eyes and lifted my hand to my mouth.
I lowered my voice. “Look behind me. Is anyone staring at me?”
Chancy kept his glance casual and even I would have been fooled if I didn’t know he was scanning. He looked back at me, and I could see the affirmative in the downturn of his mouth.
“One klockin, with two krushan, and two derks sitting with him,” he said, low enough I barely heard him.
“Time to leave,” I murmured. I said farewell to Chancy a little louder and grabbed my things. I glanced at the back door and then gave him a hard stare to let him know that helping me would not be welcomed. He frowned, his posture tense with stubbornness. His loyalty was the main reason I needed him to stay out of this. Whatever and whoever was watching me didn’t need to gain another target. I’d already lost one friend, I wasn’t losing another.
I adjusted my oxygen mask and goggles before walking out of the bar, my face exposed, my helmet hanging from my fingers.
I heard them follow me as I headed for my cruz. I set the helmet on the seat before turning and eyeing them calmly. Despite knowing Jed and several of the customers inside, none of them would help me. I was a judilen and they were sescurei. We weren’t allies.
The klockin was male, and the krushans were one of each, while the derks were both female. The derks were dark purple, including their multi-faceted eyes, with heavy frills around their ears. The gelatinous ropes hanging from their heads showed they fed well recently. They were probably infertile females, since fertile ones rarely left their home world, preferring to be pampered. I suspected the krushans were either siblings or sterile, since no fertile male would let his fertile mate be in such danger.
The klockin stepped in front of the others as they surrounded me, his exterior skeleton a darker blue than the little girl in the alley. He had four yellow eyes, one with a scar running straight through it, causing it to be the milky white of blindness. A large mouth dominated the lower half of his face, and webbed ears stuck out on either side of his head. Spikes ran the length of his back, and his feet were thick and clawed. Females dominated the species, and males were said to hump anything that moved.
“Come now, leska,” the klockin said in Veruvian, “give me your weapon. You could hurt yourself with it. Dumb pets shouldn’t play with dangerous weapons.”
I bristled and glared. “Back off, klockin.” I kept my voice steady as I glanced quickly at the other aliens. “I have no qualms in killing all of you.”
They laughed boisterously, clicking and chittering, with buzzing coloring over all of it, as if I said something clever. I only told them a fact.
The klockin curled his mouth and held out his hand. “Give me your weapon like a good pet. I wouldn’t want to damage the merchandise.”
My stomach roiled. “Eat space waste.”
“He’s got fire in him,” the krushan male said, still chittering. “Maybe that’s why the bounty’s so large.”
Bounty? Oh, void!
Bounty hunters were the last thing I needed.
Before I could even start to contemplate how that happened, the klockin lunged. I twirled gracefully on my feet, and he fell past me. I kicked him hard in the ass, and he fell to the ground. Then all chaos broke loose as the four aliens came at me at once. They pulled out stunners, which would hurt like a kick in the balls, but leave me relatively unharmed.
Who had posted the bounty and what had it said?
My stomach tightened as the most obvious candidate flittered through my mind.
Please, universe. Please not him!
I ducked aside as one of the derks shot a stream at me, and came up on the male krushan. I jammed the aeunn in his gut and grabbed his head to smash it against my knee. He fell backward as I moved on to the next krushan. She aimed her stunner at me, and I kicked it out of her hand before she could take a shot. I was quicker than any of them. It was one of my greatest skills.
Zed had kept a promise he’d made cycles ago. After the incident with Mastrodai, he’d finally introduced me to the mysterious myxn, and they taught me. Elementals were in everything, they were the very fabric that held the universe together. If one could harness them, they would be unstoppable. I was nowhere near the myxn’s expertise, but I could hold my own. Speed was my main focus, though I could only use the power for a short duration before it drained me.
I never finished my training and now was not the time to berate myself for that failing.
Unleashing the power contained inside me, I let it surge into my limbs and sharpen my senses. I aimed my aeunn at the krushan’s face, and shot her. I ended up jerking my hand to the right and shot off part of her face, but left her very much alive. She screamed in agony and fell to her knees. I kicked her in the face before she could get carried away with her chittering screams.
A stream smacked against my bicep, and I hissed, swinging around. My left arm was dead and tingling madly. Shit. My power faltered, and I took a deep breath, struggling to focus. I managed to dodge as the two derks shot simultaneously. I grimaced when I saw another derk come jogging up. Great, another to join the party. The light purple of his skin indicated he was male, and his backward knees made his bipedal movement a little shaky.
The klockin shot a stream and it hit my back. Thankfully, I wore my armored breastplate, which also covered my back, and I only felt the heat and shimmer. I spun around and kicked the stunner out of his hand before planting the other boot in his face, knocking him unconscious.
I heard screams and turned around to see the male derk fighting with the females. My eyes widened when he shoved them away and stood right in front of me. Shielding me.
What the fuck?
One of the females yelled something in her native tongue before pulling an aeunn. The idiot derk spun around and tackled me the same moment she shot. I felt the impact of the projectile as he grunted and shoved him off me. What the fuck was he doing? Why was he protecting me?
The two remaining derks fired at me again with their stunners. I jumped into the air and flipped over their heads to land behind them. Before they could recover, I shot both in the back of one of their shoulders with my good arm. They fell forward and slammed to the ground, wailing and carrying on. Unable to stand the noise, I slammed the aeunn against their heads, knocking them both out cold.
I breathed heavily as my heart pounded. It took a lot to exert myself that way with the power. Too much exertion and I could damage myself beyond repair. I had to know my limits. I let the power slowly drain, and it became once more contained within me. My limbs were watery, and my arm no longer tingled but ached. It would pass before too long. I’d been hit with a stunner before, without my breastplate, right in the chest. It wasn’t something I wanted to repeat. Ever.
I took careful, slow breaths, steadying myself. I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye and raised my aeunn, swinging around. The klockin that started all this stared at his fallen comrades with a stunned expression. Then he looked up at me, and I saw the fear in his eyes.
“Maybe next time you’ll think twice before you collect on a bounty.” I said. He hunched at the venom he heard in my voice. “Not that they’ll be a next time. Not for you.”
“Wait! Just wait―”
The klockin jerked backward as the projectiles shattered his face, and he slammed into the ground. My gut twisted tighter and I ignored it. Survival belonged to those who weren’t afraid to kill, who weren’t afraid to be ruthless. I planned on surviving—for all the good it did me. I holstered my aeunn before glancing down at the wounded, unconscious aliens.
Then I looked at the strange derk that had tried to defend me. His shoulder bled, and I shuffled over, staring at his prone body.
Then I heard sirens. I froze for an instant before turning around and cursing in all the languages I knew.
InterGalactic Enforcement Officials. Someone in the bar had called them. Fuck, fuck. Fuck!
I’d just killed a sescure. A major crime for someone like me.
I started toward my cruz before stopping and turning again. I looked at the derk. He’d tried to help me with no gain to himself. Could I just leave him? He was bleeding heavily.
And so what? He was just another alien.
I grabbed my helmet. Stopped. Zed’s face flashed through my mind. Memory surged, and I saw myself, bleeding and broken, and Zed saving me. Caring for my wounds, helping me out of no obligation but kindness. He saved my life in more ways than one. I looked back at the derk as the sirens grew closer.
I saw Zed’s body, broken and bloody on the cold ground.
Gritting my teeth, I shoved on my helmet and shook out my left arm, flexing my fingers. I grabbed the derk under his knobby arms and dragged him to my cruz. I flopped him over the back and strapped him in before grabbing a clean cloth and shoving it into the jagged wound.
I sped away from the crime scene, my mind too chaotic to dissect what the fuck just happened.
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