Book 3 in the Deviations series. Don't miss Covenant, Appetite and Bloodlines.
Unrest simmers in the region. Repeated acts of sabotage threaten Promontory's Destiny supply, while Crossroads teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.
Bent on destroying Destiny Farm, TripStone arrives in Promontory as an advance scout for Gria's forces. But the more she learns about that city and its history, the more she doubts her mission. And the more she learns about BrushBurn, the more her feelings for him tear her apart.
Unaware of the mission, Ghost fears TripStone dead as he struggles to protect his new family. The very people hiding them are under pressure to unlock Destiny's secrets, giving Masari control of the drug...
TripStone awoke from forgotten dreams, her nose twitching from the smell of smoky tea steeping in a pot. She listened to a crackling flame beneath a modest awning. The sky beyond, a uniform gray, made it impossible to tell what time it was.
At first she didn't remember where she was, either, but then her eyes adjusted to the light. BrushBurn sat breakfasting by the fire with his back to her, already dressed in traveling clothes, observing the rain. He had unfolded her coat and set it by the heat to dry.
"You seem to have slept well," he said, without turning around. He lifted the pot from its tripod and poured her tea into a tin mug, turning back from the gloom. "It's warmer out here."
TripStone bent to her pack to retrieve her own meat and slipped a small piece, hard and dry, into her mouth. The morsels in BrushBurn's hands were soft and succulent, and they were the last things she wanted to touch.
Her muscles ached. She stood and stretched, grimacing. Her own clothes were still on her, muddy and rumpled but left intact overnight. Her feet sweated inside her boots. Blinking and unsure, she cast her glance about the tent.
BrushBurn said, plainly, "Behind the curtain."
She looked at a man preoccupied with his tea. Perhaps he always kept the chamber pot discrete, given the bartering that occurred here. The small, earth-toned sheet blocking it from view was a distressingly thoughtful gesture.
When she had finished, she retrieved more Yata from her pack and stepped to the fire. The strong tea drove the cold from her fingertips. She drank deeply, both hands curled around the cup. "The roads will be bad."
"At least two days to Rudder, even with both of us pulling. We'll have to camp." Rust-colored pelt peeked out from beneath his sleeves as he drained his mug. "Leaving for Promontory before the rains would have made more sense, but your numbers would have looked even worse."
"False hopes accomplish nothing. I believe in being accurate."
Bitterness rose. "More profitable that way."
BrushBurn nodded. "Always." He licked the last trace of Yata from his lips and stood. "When you're ready, I could use your help with loading the cart."
TripStone looked away as he shrugged on his coat and pulled up the hood, but she could still picture his outline beneath the fabric. Alone in the tent she found only clothes and furniture, camping necessities and structural reinforcements. His papers must be safeguarded in the cart, along with the relics her people had been forced to relinquish. She heard chains being unlocked outside, a hinge creaking.