I’ve talked some about Andrei and those who’ve followed the series so far know him from RELENTLESS and INSATIABLE already.
Piper is one of the few people in all the Known Universes who knows Andrei from the time before he entered Phantom Corps. She isn’t put off by his taciturn ways. He can’t gruff her away because she knows the boy inside the man. And that she never once even considers using that to harm him is why he loved her then, and loves her anew as a woman. Andrei was an angry boy and young man. Always in trouble. But with her? He was gentle. Protective. He kept her safe, showed he a side of himself few had seen. And then he was gone and for eleven standard years the only contact she has is when he sends credits to her and her brothers with an A scrawled at the bottom.
Piper and her brothers grew up in Asphodel. A harsh ‘Verse on the Edge of the territory between Federated Universes and the Imperium. She’s tough. And smart and ruthless when she needs to be. She’s had to carve out a life for herself and the people in her smugglers’ compound and she does it because if she doesn’t who will? And into her life walks Andrei and she’s not about to let him go a second time.
When I first started writing Mesmerized I had a basic sense of who she was, but it was once Andrei came onto the page with her that I began to understand her more. I loved writing them together. He’s fun to get all ruffled up and she likes that about him. He’s flustered by her which amuses her and in turn, he’s disarmed and charmed by it. By the way she simply ignores all his efforts to keep her out of the more dangerous aspects of what he does. In the end they’re a team in a way neither of them had imagined before he’d come back home, but Piper is committed to quite firmly.
Here’s a little snippet of an Andrei/Piper scene right after he’s saved them from an attack by Imperialist soldiers and he’s in their compound, taking a look around.
MESMERIZED by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2011, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Releasing April 5!
The way he was now might have been different than he’d been before, but there was something very comfortable about being with him. The way he moved was graceful and predatory. His focus as he cut and worked the threading on the new parts to slide together was impressive.
“So you taught yourself all this?”
He shrugged with one shoulder. “Either that or deal with broken crap and time in lockup for assaulting the owner for not taking care of business.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time you were in lockup for knocking heads.”
“No. But I don’t do that anymore.”
“All right. What do you do then?”
He looked up at her briefly. “Pretty much what I did before, only I don’t go to lockup for it. What do you do then?”
She snorted at his evasion, waving a hand around. “This is what I do. I run cargo. My crew isn’t so big as to attract unwanted attention but big enough that most of the time we’re left alone by the others. That took a while. I’ve got a great right hook, or so I’m told.”
“I remember that about you.”
That warmed her. Odd as it was.
They fell into long, quiet periods as she cleaned her weapons. She was conscious of him on a whole different level, in ways she hadn’t known to even be at seventeen. She knew it now. There hadn’t been a steady man in a long time, but there had been enough of them she recognized that purely female fascination with an attractive male. Even through the sharp scent of the lubricant and heated metal, she could pick him up. He smelled good. Like warm earth and a hint of something else. Something wholly male. There was darkness in his eyes. Enough a wise woman would understand and avoid. But she was never very wise.
His hands were nearly delicate as he worked. Hoping he didn’t notice how much she stared, she continued to watch him. His shoulders were nice and wide. He’d taken off his sweater so he was in a short-sleeved, snug-fitting shirt. A dusting of dark hair lay against the golden toned skin of his arms. There was nothing left of the boy he’d been, not physically. The years had done him good. Fleshed him out. Brought a gloss to his hair. Self-conscious, she patted a hand over the ropes of her braids, captured at the base of her neck.
“I like it that way.”
Surprised, she drew her fingers back, blinking. She couldn’t have stopped her pleased smile to save her life. She’d inherited her mother’s hair. They had the photographs to prove it. Jiao Roundtree had been a beautiful woman. Strong, but three children, several miscarriages, famine and violence had done her in.
Piper shook her head to free that memory and send it away.
It was silly to have long hair when her job had her traveling all over the place in storms and intense heat and cold. But she hadn’t allowed herself many luxuries, and her hair was one of those few. It made her feel like a woman. Even if her hands were workrough and her nails were a mess. “I should cut it,” she said, hoping he’d argue.
“That would be a shame. Though your face is certainly beautiful enough that short hair wouldn’t harm it.”
“Thank you. I hope you won’t cut yours either.”
“Not unless I absolutely have to.”
There was a story that went with the way he worded that, but he didn’t add anything. “You’re…taciturn, yes, that’s the word.”
His laugh did things to her. Low, dirty things, and she allowed herself to wallow in them a bit.
“Shooting your mouth off can get you in a lot of trouble.”
“Thank you.” She said it quickly and with finality.
“For what? Not shooting my mouth off ?” He looked up from his work, all the focus in those eyes on her.
She wondered what he’d be like in bed as a man. They’d been in a sweet, young, passionate love. A smile she couldn’t stop came to her mouth. There was not much evidence of the boy who’d been just as virginal as she had been. This Andrei would most assuredly know his way around a woman’s best parts.
“For the courier packets.”
He shook his head and went back to work. “Nothing to thank me for.”
“I beg to differ. Also, Andrei Solace, I have known you a very long time. Don’t you presume to know what I do and don’t need to!thank a body for.” She crossed her arms and gave him her best glare.
He chuckled rather than skittering off like so many did. He put time into her, attention. She narrowed her eyes, waiting.
“Okay then. You’re right, and you’re welcome.”