The Assassin’s Curse
by Lindsay Buroker
Copyright 2012 Lindsay Buroker
The afternoon sun beat onto ducks floating in the lake shallows and turtles basking on logs. Amaranthe Lokdon would have turned herself over to bounty hunters for a chance to float or bask. Instead, out in the middle of an inlet, she struggled to keep her head from going under as waves sloshed into her mouth and eyes.
Using both hands, she held a ten-pound brick in front of her face while her burning thighs rotated beneath the surface, kicking furiously to keep her afloat. Barely. Despite the cold lake water, sweat dribbled down her face. Her leaden arms ached and threatened to let the brick dip below the surface.
A few feet to her side, Sicarius, notorious assassin and fellow outlaw, held a heavier brick higher out of the water. No hint of strain flushed his cheeks, and a calm, expressionless facade masked his thoughts. He didn’t disturb the water with his kicks, and neither his face nor his short blond hair were damp. The summer heat might be enough to wilt normal men’s ambitions toward physical activity, but apparently this miniscule workout wasn’t enough to make him sweat.
Though Amaranthe appreciated his fitness and dedication to his training, there were times when she wished he were less perfect. More... human.
Feeling all too human herself, she groaned and ducked her head beneath the water to cool her face. The brief reprieve felt good, but she was careful not to let the brick dip below the surface. If she failed to keep it up there for long enough, he would make her start over. For the third time.