by Lindsay Buroker

Copyright 2011 by Lindsay Buroker

Smashwords Edition


In the predawn light, Amaranthe Lokdon charged up the worn travertine steps of the ancient stadium. Her thighs burned, her calves ached, and sweat streamed into her eyes.

“Idiotic,” she muttered to herself between strained breaths. “Deranged...masochistic.”

A dark, round shape blurred out of the shadows. Instinctively, she lifted her hands and caught the heavy, sand-filled ball to keep it from slamming into her chest. Barely. She wobbled, the weight threatening to knock her onto the stone benches, but she compensated and continued upward. With a last burst of energy, she hurled the ball back to the shadowy figure that had appeared at the top of the stairs.

Amaranthe kept her hands up, thinking he might throw it again, but he propped it against his hip and waited. Legs trembling, she reached the top step and forced herself to stand up straight instead of collapsing in a sweaty, exhausted heap.

“Dedicated,” Sicarius said.

“What?” she asked when she caught her breath. Stars still lurked in the deep blue sky, and she could not make out his face, but it would not have hinted at his thoughts anyway.

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