The Champion of Barésh
Star World Frontier #1
By: Susan Grant
Releasing May 26, 2016
She was playing with fire…
Jemm Aves battles to keep her dreams alive on a dead-end world. Working for the mines by day, she’s a successful bajha player at night, disguised as a male to be allowed to compete in the colony’s dangerous underworld where club owners will go to extremes to retain the best players. Every win puts her one small step closer to her goal: saving enough to escape Barésh with her family. When a nobleman from one of the galaxy’s elite families recruits her to be a star player for his team, it’s because he doesn’t know her secret. Her ruse proves to be her most perilous game yet when it puts both their lives—and her heart—at risk.
Prince Charming he was not…
Prince Klark is eager to reverse his reputation as the black sheep of the Vedla clan, a family as famous for its wealth and power as it is for being a bastion of male-dominated tradition. If his bajha team can win the galactic title it would go a long way toward restoring the family honor that his misdeeds tarnished. He travels to Barésh to track down an amateur who’s risen to the top of the seedy world of street bajha, offering the commoner a chance of a lifetime: a way off that reeking space rock for good. But his new player comes with a scandalous secret that turns his plans and his beliefs upside down. He sets out to win a very different prize—his champion’s reluctant heart.
“Don’t say nothing,” Nico warned. “Nothing at all.”
Jemm’s pulse boomed like the detonations of ore-charges. She let her hair spill forward to camouflage her face from the off-worlders. The crunch of several pairs of boots on grit came from only about twenty steps away. “Nico, glad to find you still here.” Even without a view of the voice’s owner, she knew that lovely brogue belonged to the Vash. “I’m looking for Sea Kestrel.”
Her timepiece slid around her wrist she dragged her palms down Nico’s sweater and pretended to nuzzle the side of his neck. “Cut me loose before they get too close,” she whispered. “Make it believable, or we’re done for.”
He nodded. “Run along now, darlin’! I’ve got business to attend to.” He moved her backward and gave her a pat on the bottom for good measure.
She used a flirtatious hair toss to keep her face hidden before she turned her back to the off-worlders and sashayed off, hoping they would act like men and fix their attention on her swaying rear-end instead of the fact they had not gotten a good look at her. She felt their gazes following her all the way to where she disappeared around the corner a half block away. She stopped there, her blood roaring in her ears. Craggin’ crat.
“Who was that?” she heard Skeet ask in an admiring tone.
“My girlfriend, Jemm. She’s a good lass, she is.”
Jemm? Was he crazy? “It takes some truth to make a lie believable,” went the saying. Her brother had taken that advice to heart.
“Kes has already gone home, fellas.” Nico herded Sir Vedla and the two pro players back to Narrow Margin’s back entrance. A group of drunken miners stumbled past behind Jemm, their loud conversation making it impossible to hear what was being said as the Vash stopped to hand something to Nico. Then goodbyes were said.
But before Sir Vedla made it back inside the club a sex server stopped him. Her hands were all over him as she tried to separate him from his companions. Despite the weak light, the contrast between this aristocrat from the stars and the thin, dirty, scantily dressed young woman curling around him like oily hallucivape smoke was obvious.
Breathless, Nico careened around the corner. “Crag me. That was close,” he said.
“Too close.” Jemm peeked around the corner again. Despite how far the sex worker was beneath Sir Vedla’s lofty station, he refused her advances without visible disgust or disrespect. It took two tries before he was able to disentangle himself from her and disappear with his players inside, leaving the girl to gaze after him in awe.
Then it hit Jemm that she was standing there doing exactly the same thing.
Susan Grant is a New York Times bestselling author who enjoys being able to indulge her love of travel and adventure by piloting jumbo jets around the globe. Her careers as a commercial pilot and air force pilot have provided endless inspiration for her books. Susan is the author of The Star King, launch book of her popular Star series about a spacefaring Earth family, as well as the RITA-winning novel Contact. Her new series debuts in 2016 with The Champion of Barésh. Susan and her family live in the scenic foothills of northern California.