UNEDITED (This is book 4 in the Reclaiming Honor series [A Kurtherian Gambit series]. Check out books 1-3 on Amazon, all in Kindle Unlimited)
Valerie loved having Sandra to herself again, for the first time in what felt like years. They had found a spot at the outskirts of the main part of the city, on a rooftop where Valerie often found herself lately, attracted by the enticing aroma of the thyme and mint planted there, especially when it wafted along on a cool spring breeze just like today.
“We really have no other options?” Sandra said,
“Not without putting more people at risk.” Valerie took a small leaf of mint, crushed it in her fingers, and then breathed in the scent with a refreshing sigh after. “I have no tolerance for more innocent death.”
“Not that you ever did.”
Valerie considered her, head tilted, and said, “Honestly? Toward the end of that Strake business, or even in the Bazaar, I was starting to wonder about it all. Like who had I become? Was this really me?”
“Seriously?” Sandra laughed, leaning over the railing to look out at the debris and ruins in the distance. “I’ve always loved you, always will. But the Valerie you are now? This woman you’ve become? That’s the real you. That’s the Justice Enforcer who will bring the evil of this land to its knees.”
“You think?” Valerie joined her to lean against the railing. She was vaguely aware that the metal was cold, but it didn’t bother her.
Sandra simply nodded.
“You sure you won’t reconsider staying behind?” Valerie asked.
“Do you really want me to?”
“Come on. You know the answer to that as well as I do. No, I love the idea of you coming, but the chance of you being hurt? Or worse? It eats me up at night.” She felt the breeze in her hair and closed her eyes, letting the smells of the city flow by, images of people eating in fancy restaurants, others hiding in shadows with drugged out looks in their eyes. “The city needs a lot of work still.”
“Which is why you need Jackson here.” Sandra laughed. “If you think about it, I should be the fourth amigo, right?”
Valerie turned to her and frowned. “I’m not following.”
“You know, the three amigos? The CEOs, and since I’ve started my own business, you could say I’m one of them.”
“You definitely could not. Sandra, I’m pretty sure there are many CEOs in this city still, it just so happens that they called those three the CEOs because they were in charge of practically everything in this city.”
“Okay, good. But it’s a bit… deterring to hear everyone using the term CEO so negatively. I mean, when you see the joy on someone’s face when they take a sip of my newest shipment of wine, it’s priceless.”
“Considering the fact that you’re coming with me, I guess that means you just put a price on it.”
“That’s true. Priceless except when put up against seeing you’re safe.” Sandra suddenly lit up. “Oh, speaking of the journey, Cammie wanted to take you out for some new outfits before you go. She said you should have traveling clothes, something less conspicuous than tight-ass leather.”
Valerie let the purple jacket flow in the wind, so that her tight, leather outfit was visible. “But it looks good, doesn’t it? I mean, I’m hot in this thing, and I don’t mean in the sweaty way.”
“Hot and maybe a bit conceited,” Sandra said with a laugh. “But… maybe you should wear a bra under it? You can kinda see your ni—”
“Hey, there’s a chill up here,” Valerie said, pulling her coat back around her and tying the sash to keep it closed. “Why aren’t you coming?”
“I’d go with you, it’s just that I have to gather some of the Weres and pick up a new shipment from the docks. Gotta make sure it’s right this time, because I’m not paying some captain for goods lost in transit. Not again.”
“Yeah.” A look of annoyance crossed Sandra’s face. “I’ve been talking with Cammie about it, and she’s thinking her and Royland can have a little conversation with Clive while I’m gone, you know? Maybe see what he knows about these pirates, then set up a proper defense.”
“Right.” Valerie nodded, but her mind was on the journey ahead, staring out at the Fallen Lands and wondering what else lay out there.
“Are you even listening to me?” Sandra asked.
“I’m sorry it’s just… I get that the café means the world to you, but it’s a little hard for me to spend too much brain power on it when we have people like the CEOs out there and this Black Plague group to deal with.”
“Well thank God we’re about to take care of them, so we can come back here and finally just settle down and relax.”
Valerie stared off, wondering if she could ever really relax, and Sandra shook her head at the look with a “tsk” sound.
“You won’t ever be able to just settle down and relax, will you?” Sandra asked.
“In this world?”
She shook her head, then licked her lips as she tried to imagine such a life. Sitting on a couch with Jackson beside her, their small child on her knee, laughing. It sounded great and all, but… maybe not great for her.
“I have this power.” Valerie felt herself blush. “I know it sounds stupid, but to have this kind of power and sit back while anyone in the world is suffering just seems so… wrong.”
“And if that means we part our ways someday?”
Valerie spun, eyes wide.
“You do realize that has to happen eventually, right?” Sandra looked concerned. “Holy crap, you don’t realize that. I mean, Val, that life isn’t for me. I’m going to want to settle down someday, have kids, all that stuff.”
At first Valerie was just speechless, then she breathed, trying to keep the anger out of her voice. Anger that her best friend from all these years could even consider abandoning her.
“Then why not start now?” she said. “Why come with me at all?”
Sandra stared off into the distance and shrugged. “One last mission, right? See it through to the end. But then we’ll have secured New York, at least from the external threat. We’ll still have a lot of work to do here.”
“Keeping the law is Donnoly’s job now.”
“I mean making the city civilized. You can’t have a proper city without good wine and cheese.”
Valerie laughed at that.
“There’s that smile I love,” Sandra said, reaching out to place a hand on Valerie’s cheek.
Her touch sent a shiver up Valerie’s spine, and she reached up and held the hand there, appreciating the warmth to her touch. For a moment they were back at that moment, staring out over the fallen Eiffel Tower, when they had kissed.
Part of Valerie wanted that moment back more than anything, but that was the small, incy-wincy part that said a normal life could actually be a reality. That said Sandra had a point, and that living a life, with a family and all that normal stuff, could be in her stars.
She let the hand drop, with a wistful smile. No, she knew those days were gone, replaced by her role as Justice Enforcer, bringer of judgment, and the one responsible for reclaiming honor to vampires and the UnknownWorld.
“One last mission, then,” Valerie said. “Together, anyway.”
Sandra leaned in and kissed Valerie on the cheek, then smiled with a fire in her eyes. “Let’s make it count. I want the world quivering in their boots when they think about messing with us.”
Valerie laughed. “Damn straight.”
They headed out to meet Cammie, and said their goodbyes, and soon Valerie and Cammie were walking along Capital Square, selecting outfits and having a great time. The key was to wear something that wouldn’t make her stand out if she needed to stop by other cities along the way, and that hid who she really was when it came time to leave.
FROM JUSTIN >>> I have a confession! I skipped a chapter 🙂 Why? Because there’s something new happening in this book, and I REALLY wan to keep it a surprise. So yeah, when you get the book and read chapter 3, it’ll be new to you. What you see here is the first half of chapter 4. Hope you enjoy!
Some readers have commented that they really believe Valerie and Sandra should be together – maybe this snippet was interesting for you? Maybe seeing what this book does and where it sets up book 5 will be more interesting? You probably won’t have the slightest clue what I’m hinting at (it’s not what you’re thinking probably), but I think all of this relates to that, even if it isn’t EXACTLY what you wanted there. With so many readers, I think it’s clear everyone wants something else.
I wanted to look at some reviews today, because I haven’t done that much here, but apparently Michael does that with his snippets. Here’s a very relevant one:
I do like these books. But, don’t any of these people go to sleep for awhile,? They walk miles and aren’t tired. Jump from one fight, run all over, get into another fight and never need to rest. Sometimes ,they make me tired. — Read here
Relevant, because you might have guessed my trio is going on a road trip. To address the point – yes, when these people get to rest, they rest hard. Valerie pushed herself SUPER hard in the first two books, and never got a rest. Maybe the first three (though we see her sleeping more in three). Here two months have passed. It’s been hectic, but not so crazy as before, and yes, they will sleep when on the road.
How about this one:
I’ve really enjoyed the Reclaiming Honor series so far. Though this one was way to sappy for my personal tastes. Fortunately the characters are enjoyable enough for me to slog through the sap. Good characters, moves the series along nicely and doesn’t leave us with a cliff hanger 🙂 — Read here
Guess what? I write action, and I write sappy. Just my thing 🙂 But thanks for the review! This reviewer still likes them in spite of my sappiness, so yay!
Okay, those were both for book 3. Here’s a new one for book 1, which excites me because this guy his awesome. He found me through my military fantasy, FALLS OF REDEMPTION, and has been slowly working through all my books since. Gotta love that!
There was a good balance of plot and character development with just the right about of action. Sloan and Anderle harmed a lot of bad guys in the making of this story, and I never felt it dragged on or got slow. However, it seemed balanced with both character development and world building. By the end of the story, they leave you with four to five characters that you really want to read more about. Also, in addition to tidbits of TKG lore that were planted throughout the book, the authors also set the groundwork for this new setting. — Read more
There was more to that one, a lot more – so you might want to read it. He does a great job of finding cool quotes in books her reviews.
That’s all for today! I’m giving the book to Michael tomorrow to finalize and publish, so stay tuned!!!