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Poison Dance

(2013)
(A book in the Midnight Thief series)
A Novella by

 
James is skilled, efficient, and deadly, a hired blade navigating the shifting alliances of a deteriorating Assassin's Guild. Then he meets Thalia, an alluring but troubled dancing girl who offers him a way out - if he'll help her kill a powerful nobleman. With the Guild falling apart, it just might be worth the risk. But when you live, breathe, and love in a world that's forever flirting with death, the slightest misstep can be poison.

Poison Dance is a short story of approximately 14,000 words long (54 printed pages).

EXCERPT:
He handed her a stiletto the length of her hand and molded her fingers around the handle. Her hands were slender and her nails were delicately rounded, though her palms were calloused. The two of them stood in the cramped space between his bed and the window, holding the blade between them.

"You can wear this dagger under your sleeves. Then, when you get your chance . . ." James guided the knife toward his own throat. "Go for the neck - the blood vessels and the windpipe. You'll have to be close for that. Quick."

He lowered the stiletto until its tip grazed his neck just above his collarbone. Her eyes widened, and she looked to his face.

He smiled and tightened his hands around her wrist. "Never let your guard down. Never trust anyone, and never leave yourself vulnerable."

"What if I'd surprised you just now? I could have been sent by someone to kill you."

"You wouldn't have."

She arched her eyebrow. "I wouldn't have killed you?"

"You wouldn't have surprised me." He continued. "You have to be aware. If someone is this close to you, holding a weapon, you need to be on your guard. I'm watching your eyes, your shoulders. I'm aware of how you're standing, where your balance is. If you tighten your muscles to strike, I'll feel it in your arm. You should be doing the same with me."

Her eyes were cautious as she took in what he said. And he watched her look down, taking in his arms, the angle of his chest. Her gaze went inward and her lips fell slightly open as she tried to get a feel for his balance. Standing as close as they were, he could smell a light perfume on her skin.

Thalia seemed to remember herself. She disengaged her wrist and backed away.

"What makes a lass like you into a killer?" he asked.

She shot him an annoyed look, and the tension left the room. "I didn't hire you to delve into my past."

"Are you sure you want to do this? It changes you, you know, your first kill."

A smile touched her lips, a hint of a challenge. "You're quite determined to have me think this over. Do you regret your first kill?"

It was an interesting question, and he gave it some thought. "No," he finally said. "I regret not having done it sooner."

"Who was it?" She tilted her head in anticipation of a tale. "Some Red Shield?"

"My father." He smiled when her eyes widened. "I'll make you a deal. You can keep your secrets, and I'll keep mine."

"Fair enough."

What inspired you to write Poison Dance?
James started as a side character in my YA medieval fantasy Midnight Thief, and he fascinated me. He was head of the assassins guild, but much more than a thug. He had ideals, and I wanted to know how he got them. As I explored his past, I fell in love with Thalia as well, with her sad, tragic air and will of steel. Eventually, what started out as a character sketch evolved into a short story of their romance.

 
Used availability for Livia Blackburne's Poison Dance


See all available used copies of this book at Abebooks UK or Abebooks US
 

Paperback Editions

September 2013 : USA Paperback
Title: Poison Dance (Midnight Thief)
Author(s): Livia Blackburne
ISBN: 1-940584-00-0 / 978-1-940584-00-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: Lion's Quill Press
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Kindle Editions

January 2014 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition
Title: Poison Dance: A Short Story (Midnight Thief Book 0)
Author(s): Livia Blackburne
Publisher: Lion's Quill Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   



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