The Queen of Traitors, Teaser #2

This is a flyby post! The Queen of Traitors comes out January 15, but here's another teaser to hold you over until then!

The Queen of Traitors, Teaser #2
I pull the gun from the small of my back. The other I’d left behind in my delirium.
Heavy boots jog up the stairs. Despair sets in.
Sick, injured, but not free. Never free.
I back up as the king’s men pour out of the stairwell. There’s at least a dozen of them and they’re covered from head to toe in gear. Their guns are bared, but almost immediately their barrels swivel around the room, looking for threats other than the one in front of them.
One of men parts through the group and removes his helmet. I have to lock my knees to keep from falling.
The king.
My tormentor and my husband.
I don’t remember him, and yet a part of me aches with such ferocity that I know he’s imprinted in my bones. Or maybe it’s just the look in his eyes. It’s the first time I’ve seen compassion, and it railroads me.
There’s also a good dose of horror in those eyes of his. They track each of my features. He can see my sickness and my wounds.
With a shaky hand, I point the gun at that face. I don’t want to feel this way—like I belong to someone. I’d rather die free than live a prisoner shuffled between two enemies.
Behind him, his men turn their weapons on me. The king holds up a hand and signals to his men to hold their fire.
“Put the gun down, Serenity.”
I don’t. I don’t react at all. I’m incapable of reacting, frozen between my heart and my head.
He should die.
He must live.
He needs to pay.
I want him close.
“Put it down.” I think he has an idea where my mind is because he’s coaxing. “You’re not going to shoot me.”
I cock the gun.
His body tenses at the sound, but he’s still edging forward. “You can’t kill me. You know this. My men will take you out if you don’t put the gun down and come with me.”
“I can’t.” I don’t know anything else besides this—fighting lost causes. I was always meant to go down with the ship, not to survive it.
“You can. My queen, you already have once before.”
I have? I waver, searching for a memory that isn’t there.
My aim droops. A wave of dizziness passes over me and I stumble.
“Serenity?” Is it my imagination, or does the monster in front of me sound frightened?
I try to focus on the king, but my vision’s clouding again. I fight to stay in the moment, but my body is finally, finally giving out.


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