This is an excerpt from the beginning of my new novella, The Dogs of Cyberwar, which is being released on November 30th. The excerpt is rated PG for language:
Connor felt the bile rise in his throat and swallowed hard.
“Well, so much for getting into the gang,” Varela said calmly as he turned off the plasma sword and slipped it back into its scabbard, then allowed his trench coat to hide it once more.
“Jesus Christ!” Connor gasped, unable to think of anything else. He was completely covered in human blood. There was a corpse at his feet, and the murderer was standing just a few feet away.
“You’re supposed to say ‘thank you’,” Varela stated as he came around to Connor’s side of the desk and bent over Big Nose’s body.
Connor wasn’t really in the mood to chat with Varela, but he didn’t want to provoke him either. “Uh… thank you.”
For some reason, Varela was wrestling with Big Nose’s boots, trying to get them off. Connor thought maybe the man wanted to keep them for himself, but when he did succeed in yanking them off, Varela simply tossed them aside. Then he pulled the pants off. “These managed not to get too much blood on them,” he said, as he stood up again. “They were around his ankles, when he went down. His underwear was, too, but I don’t think he changed them very often.”
Connor screwed up his nose at that. “What do you need his pants for?”
“To wipe you off. Turn around.”
He obeyed, and Varela rubbed the torn jeans along his back and ass, trying to clean the blood off. Connor might have objected to the man rubbing his hindquarters, but he was so businesslike about it that it didn’t really feel like he was making a pass. The jeans were filthy and not very absorbent, so Connor was still streaked with drying blood when Varela finished.
“You’ll probably want to shower off somewhere.”
That meant a trip to the gym or a hotel, which always made Connor nervous, since those places tracked identification. His digital ID was fake, but it could still leave a trail. The fact that he still had wet blood on his skin also meant he had to stand around naked for a while longer in front of this guy if he didn’t want it soaking into his clothes.
“My name is Luis,” Varela said, tossing the pants away and extending his hand. Up close, Luis Varela was a strikingly handsome Latino, with smooth coppery skin and jet-black hair cut short but still long enough to show some curl. His heavily lidded eyes had irises so dark they appeared black.
Connor looked at the hand in surprise for a moment before taking it and replying, “Connor.”
“I have a proposition for you, Connor,” Luis said conversationally, as if he weren’t speaking to a naked man covered in the blood of the corpse at their feet.
Connor wondered if this man was entirely sane. It wasn’t fair to fault him for being an expert fighter. That was a skill anyone living on the streets of Seattle would envy. Obviously, this guy had done a lot of killing, judging from the almost-offhand manner in which he’d done it and the calm way he behaved afterward. But despite the fact that he’d saved Connor from being raped, Connor had to wonder just how trigger happy he really was.
When Luis saw Connor eyeing him warily, he amended, “A business proposition, that is. It seems to me you’re pretty vulnerable when you’re jacked in.”
“I guess so.”
It was actually one of the biggest problems with being a netrunner if he didn’t have a corporate safe house to operate from. Since he was generally trying to steal or destroy data from rival corporations, their security forces were constantly trying to track his location and stop him from operating—permanently. Connor was a freelancer, meaning that he hopped from location to location, doing odd jobs for different companies while trying to stay one step ahead of security.
“So how would you like a bodyguard?”
To buy the novella, go here!