Here is a preview of the first chapter of the book. I hope you enjoy!
“Most would be jealous of what you have, Brazen. Appreciate your life here,” Mother said.
Brazen’s eyes couldn’t roll back far enough. The patio overlooked the natural untouched beauty of Auxa. It was her very own playground. Growing up on the small planet, she spent most of her time wandering the forests and traipsing through the crystal-clear brooks and small waterfalls. Indeed, it was a beautiful place, but lately even Auxa seems too small for her and her parents.
Victor bought Auxa years ago as a planetary investment in the Irzal System. The place closely resembled Earth, or so she thought. Brazen held no memories of Earth, since her family had left when she was only a toddler.
A small shuttle landed and the caterers from the Phelps Space Station brought goodies for the next important business meeting. Victor and Ruby Ardarman knew how to throw elaborate parties. Parties that Brazen was strictly forbidden to attend. Even during the start of preparations, she would stay in her quarters as she was told not to come out until the next day. The parties mostly consisted of aliens and humans partying until the wee hours of the next day. By the time Irzal rose, the guests had already scattered to their own corners of the system. Whatever.
Brazen perched on the patio and faced the landing field, barely able to see the shuttles and other spacecraft come in for landings. The small guest house filled again with those who were not allowed in the main house. Whenever Brazen asked about it, her parents told her that it had to do with business and it would be best to stay away.
Humph. Life stood still on the planet, the bubbling brooks flowing forever away from the compound. She’d threatened in her mind to follow the streams, but they quickly disappeared over the horizon and filled the small sea, watering the strange creatures swimming within.
Brazen had grown bolder as she grew older. She listened to her parents discuss the next party. They referred to it as a silent auction.
“Auction what?” Brazen asked as she walked into the room.
“You need to get back to your quarters,” Father barked in her direction.
Brazen knew she was no longer a child as she stepped toward her father, daring him to try to force her to leave the room. “Not until you tell me what’s for auction. Maybe I want a chance to bid?”
Mother laughed. “Sweetheart, these are auctions for servants, for those who wish to go into work they otherwise wouldn’t know about except for our explicit invitation.”
“Ruby, you talk too much,” Father told my mother crossly.
“Victor, explain it to Brazen so that she’ll go back to her quarters and not be so curious,” Mother replied flatly.
“You mean slaves?” Brazen asked, her eyes wid.
“I mean, it’s an auction for a servant’s job. The females want to get a better job. We provide a secure future for them. No one forces them to do anything, so they aren’t slaves. Servitude is an honorable position for them.”
“Yes, darling. Now scoot, you’ll be in the way in here,” Mother said as she side-eyed Father.
Brazen was always told to scoot. She was never allowed to leave and never allowed to do anything except come to her parents when summoned. The young woman craved adventure and companionship. Curiosity never stopped her from seeking to know more, nor did the stern warning received from her parents to stay away from the guest house and the landing pad. Squaring her shoulders, Brazen ignored their order to return to her quarters as she stepped from the picturesque veranda and slipped unseen through the path down to the landing pad and just behind the guest house. Small ships landed and dropped off party-goers. They were full of aliens and humans alike, with one thing on their minds; procuring a slave.
Hushed conversations filtered from the back windows where there were apparently females. They didn’t sound too thrilled to be on Auxa. One might think that if they were looking for a job in servitude they would at least have light-hearted tones to their voices.
Brazen cracked the door open and stepped into the old kitchen. One girl’s eyes widened as she looked at her as if she were looking at a ghost. Her head shook as she backed away. Brazen followed her through the hallway and up the stairs. She’d made up her mind. If these human women could volunteer for a life off on some other planet or spaceship, she could do so as well.
Eight girls huddled inside a room while looking at Brazen warily. She smiled as she entered the room. Old beds lined the walls where white paint was peeling. The bed linens were lacking and threadbare. In fact, the small guest house appeared to have practically no decor, very much unlike the main house. How could her parents be so flippant about the accommodations for these young women?
“Did they recently take you and bring you here?” The girl’s brown eyes were nearly hidden by her sprigs of curls.
“No. I live in the main house. I’m Brazen Ardarman. I wanted to meet you all and find out how you came about seeking these positions,” Brazen replied.
“Seeking? Are you out of your mind? No one here seeks this life.” The girl stood up tall, her long, sleek ebony hair hanging over her shoulders. Her brow was knit in disgust.
“What? I thought you were brought here to find employment as a servant?”
“Is she serious?” The girl with a red pixie haircut, freckles, and the greenest eyes possible asked.
Others shook their heads while frowning.
“I don’t understand. My mother told me that you come here to voluntarily seek servitude within the wealthier systems. It’s supposed to be an honor.”
“That’s a complete lie on your mother’s part. I rather doubt she believes any of that. Victor Ardarman is one of the leaders of the slave trade in the Irzal System. He has many slave traders working for him. They grabbed us while making a sweep through the system. Not one of us volunteered for this. We’ve been captured,” the bronze girl answered with a whimper.
Brazen’s hand flew to her mouth as she shook her head and backed away to the door. The words pelted her like hot coals, burning through everything she believed about her parents and their business dealings. “No. You…this isn’t true. My parents wouldn’t do such things.”
“Wouldn’t they? Why are we here? You think we’re coming along for the fun of it? Think again. Is your father Victor Ardarman?”
Brazen’s face lost color as she nodded. Her ears hissed and rang while she sank to the wall behind her, coming down on her knees.
“Ridiculous! She’s gone white and passed out,” the girl with the long sleek hair said as she rushed forward.
A cry escaped Brazen as they helped her to a chair. “I’m…” Brazen shook her head.
“Obviously, she has no clue what has been going on here,” the redhead said.
Brazen’s eyes flitted from one lady to another, each one scowling at her. Only the one with the long hair looked concerned for her. “I didn’t know,” she said in a small voice.
“Okay, so the lady of the house is here, why?” Brown eyes bore into her.
“I’m sorry. I had no idea. They have kept me locked away in my quarters anytime there are ships here. I’m not allowed to attend their parties,” Brazen explained.
“You’re not allowed to the silent auctions, you mean?” Green eyes flash at me as the pixie-haired girl shakes her head.
“Please, I didn’t know. I’ll go and speak with them about what I have found out. I’m sure that now that I know my parents will do the right thing and set you free.”
“I doubt it, but I sincerely hope so. I’m Joss,” the bronze lady said.
“Gert,” the redhead chimed in.
The kind lady with long hair stepped toward Brazen. “I’m Ava and this is…”
Suddenly an explosion on the first floor rocked the house, causing everyone to tumble to the floor from the vibration. Fire licked through the stairs, and only the windows provided a way out. Brazen launched to the old attic door just above the hall.
“Up here, we can crawl out the attic window and scale down the back. There’s an old trellis there.” Brazen led the way through the attic as hot flames from the fire lapped at the stairs, catching the old wooden floors on fire.
When Brazen’s foot hit the trellis, it crumbled from the house and she barely scrambled to the roof before it hit the ground. The eight ladies followed her. A small spaceship hovered above the landing pad, the pilot looking as surprised as her as their eyes locked. She waved frantically at him in hopes that he would rescue them before they had to jump from the burning building to the ground below.
“Help! Help!” The women screamed as the small ship hovered nearby.
“Please,” Brazen screamed.
Moving to just above the roof, the hatch door on the ship opened. It was barely close enough for the ladies to jump inside. Red-skinned aliens spoke frantically with each other.
“You, settle against the wall,” the one flying the vessel shouted.
The women huddled against the wall as the ship lifted upward, away from the burning house. The ship then quickly streaked through Auxa’s atmosphere and toward the mothership. Brazen’s heart pounded wildly as she didn’t protest leaving Auxa and her parents behind.
I hope you enjoyed this preview chapter!
Kreg is Available for Pre-Order on Amazon!