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Deleted Scenes from Solar Flare: Brandy's POV

Brandy glanced in her rear view screen and grimaced. Grudgingly she pulled over and watched the early morning commuters go by at a law abiding plod. No doubt they were prompted by the shiny black police cruiser parked just behind her.

She pushed a wisp of straight red hair away from her face and tried to assume a pleasant expression. If she were polite, the cop might let her off easy. Unfortunately, her visor mirror showed a smile that looked more determined than winsome.

She rolled down her window as the man neared and inhaled sharply. Great. It would be her nemesis, narcotics officer Azor Bn’Ji. How likely was that? To her knowledge, he rode a desk more than a cruiser.

She forgot about being polite. “Why does it always have to be you?”

He raised a brow and reached for his ticket book. “In a hurry, are we?” His voice was raspy, like sand over rock. He was dressed in his usual dark green uniform, which was a shade darker than the jade hair tied at his nape. A Kiuyian, his face was austere, almost severely handsome, as if all unnecessary flesh had been trimmed away, and his expression was set in its usual taciturn lines.

Someone—maybe an angry motorist, she thought darkly—had swiped a knife over his face, leaving a scar across his brow and just below his eye. He was missing the tip of one ear, and a crystal stud winked from it, as if drawing attention to the mutilation.

He didn’t lean down, so she was forced to look way up if she wanted to see his face. It was just one of the things she hated about him.

He smiled without humor. Oh, how she loathed that expression. It was bad enough that he was her brother in law’s friend and she had to tolerate him at all manner of family gatherings; now she had to look over her shoulder in traffic, too. “You could be nice and make this a warning.”

“You could be law-abiding and drive the speed limit, too.” His fingers danced over the keypad.

She could feel her lip draw up and couldn’t stop it. He always set her teeth on edge.

“I’ll need to see your license and registration,” he said politely.

“You were at The Spark the day I brought it home! You and Blue looked under the hood.” Being men, her brother in law and Azor couldn’t resist inspecting the innards. At the time, he’d seemed impressed. He’d even complimented her on the distinctive orange-copper finish she’d chosen.

“Don’t be difficult, ma’am.” There was the faintest hint of humor in his black-green eyes.

She practically threw the papers at him.

He caught them and took his time looking them over. “Your notebook says you’re overdue for a fluid change.”

“Lovely. Just write the ticket and go, will you?”

He handed back the papers and printed out her ticket. “Here you are. Try to behave yourself in the future.”

She called him a bad name under her breath.

“What was that?”

She gave him a wide smile. “I was just commenting on the firmness of your posterior, officer.”

He gave her a knowing look and surprised her by commenting, “Finally, you noticed.” He tipped his head in farewell and headed back to his cruiser.

She stared at her control yolk in confusion. Azor didn’t flirt, did he? She’d have sworn he wasn’t even aware of women, other than as objects to ticket. Shaking her head, she pulled back out on the road. She had better things to do than wonder what went on in that man’s head.

Deleted Scenes from No Words Alone: Shiza's POV

Scene 1

Shiza had been glad when the counsels with the humans had ended. It was dull stuff, waiting for nothing to happen, and he was not interested in diplomatic matters. It had been almost a relief to investigate the distress call—at least it was something interesting to do

They’d emerged from hyperspace very near the origin of the distress signal and cautiously made their way closer, only to find the sad remains of an exploration vehicle. An empty husk of a ship was all that was left, along with signs of Khun’tat. Sourness ate at his belly—he pitied the ones who’d been taken, knew what they would go through. He would have liked to have prevented it.

He’d remained in a somber mood for hours afterward, thinking of Ryven and his family. Shiza’s parents were long since dead of old age—he’d been raised by distant relations with little interest in an orphaned boy of nine. It was his fortune that the relatives lived next door to Ryven’s family. The boys had bonded and spent much of their time together, squabbling like brothers. Lord Atarus had taken an interest in him, and the boys had shared schooling. Later they'd gone into the same branch of the military, where he, Ryven and Toosun had engaged in friendly competition. He'd come home with them on holidays, shared their meals, teased their sisters.

He didn't know when Namae had stopped seeming like a pest and had become alluring. Unfortunately, she'd fallen in love with that worthless dreg she'd married, and he had no opportunity to pursue his interest. He could've told her the man was worthless; her brothers had told her. Even her father had expressed his displeasure. She was spoiled then, the youngest of the family, and wouldn't listen.

She'd paid for her lack of wisdom, but he wouldn't have wished it on her. He'd wanted to kill the fool himself when he found out. He'd hated the way she acted afterwards, as if she were to blame. She'd been so frightened of men, though, it seemed wiser to keep his distance. At times he regretted that decision, and lately....

Ryven’s message had interrupted his thoughts.

He'd sent a ship wide alert for all warriors to don battle armor, and to prepare the fighters for action immediately following the jump. He'd been glad he had when they emerged from hyperspace and saw the carnage before them. His gut had wrenched when he'd seen the prison transport docked with Ryven’s ship. It’d been a blessing to see another Scorpio battleship arrive on the scene so quickly. It had allowed him to lead a rescue party to Ryven’s ship. Their fighters had first destroyed the prison transport, and then docked with the ship.

It’d been bloody fighting. The Khun’tat were vicious fighters, even though they wanted their prey alive. They were every bit as fast as the Scorpio and stronger, which made them harder to kill. As they fought deeper into the ship they’d let both the stunned Scorpio bodies and the dead Khun'tat lie where they’ve fallen. As long as there was no prison transport they would be safe until he could come back for them. They needed to reach those who had not fallen, because sometimes people were killed by accident when they resisted.

He didn’t want to risk those he loved falling in the battle.

He’d been dripping with sweat by the time they fought their way to the sealed the bridge. He corrected for the adrenaline shaking his hands and had carefully picked off the Khun’tat attacking the door. He’d never been happier to deliver a message than when he told Ryven that the ship was safe.

He’d never been happier to see a woman than he had been to see Namae.

Scene 2

They wasted precious time. The shuttle carrying Xera wasn’t missed for hours. It might even have gone unnoticed save for the murder of Xera’s bodyguards. Perhaps Tovark had gone mad enough to overlook this, or maybe he gambled that he could cause Ryven additional pain by witnessing the death of his wife.

Whatever the reason, Ryven knew what had happened within minutes. He and Toosun had ordered their ships to prepare for pursuit immediately. Shiza wanted to go, too, but Ryven had another task for him.

He placed a hand on Shiza’s shoulder. “Tovark must answer for this. We can’t let him touch our family again. Will you find him? This is a matter that should be handled by family.”

Painful love welled up in Shiza. Ryven had been his brother in all but name until today. That moment changed everything, for Ryven’s words made them brothers in truth. “I will find him, and I will kill him.”

Scene 3

No one had noticed Namae in all the confusion. Since he knew she had been present in her father’s house, along with Ryven and himself, Shiza took a moment to seek her out and comfort her. He knew she would take this latest blow hard.

Namae looked up at him as he entered her father’s study, eyes savage. She was checking one of her father’s laser guns for charge. There was little doubt she was prepared to use it.

“Namae, you can’t go.”

She made an inarticulate sound of rage. “You won’t stop me. This is what I should have done before.”

He was at her side before she could threaten him. Efficiently, he removed the gun. “I’ve been asked to take care of this.”

“Then let me go,” she demanded, her eyes pained. “Let me have my revenge, too.” Recklessly, she added, “I’ll follow you.”

She wasn’t leaving him a choice. Growling under his breath, he took a cable lock from his tool belt. With deft efficiency, he looped one end around her wrist and the other around the trunk of an ornamental tree. She wasn’t going anywhere.

Namae tugged at the cable and glared at him. Tears of rage stood in her eyes. “If you really loved me you'd let me do this!”

He looked at her as if she were crazy. “If I loved you, I would do exactly this.” He gave her a quick, hard kiss, and then he was gone.

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