Preview Iron

Chapter 6

They brought him into her working room chained and unshaven, his linen shirt torn at the chest and sleeves. Still the Taavi assassin stubbornly refused to look like a captive. Underneath the mess of his dark curls his eyes were still mocking her, and his grin was still the grin of a cocky boy playing a game he can’t imagine he’ll lose.

Watch out, Taavi, Tamar thought. I’ve seen that grin before, and the man wearing it ended purple and choking on an unwelcoming granite floor.

Gocha kicked the prisoner in the back of his knees, forcing him to kneel before her. Even dropping onto the hardwood floor, the man wouldn’t stop grinning that suggestive, leering grin at her. He didn’t bow his head either.

‘Your Majesty—’ Gocha started.

‘Thank you, Gocha,’ she interrupted without taking her eyes off the scruffy, taunting face before her. A face that made her hands itch with the desire to slap the arrogance out of him – and yet she couldn’t help but remember the steel command of his hands, the confidence with which he’d held her last night… Something stirred in her, and she feared it wasn’t hate alone. ‘You can release his hands.’

The guard blinked. ‘But—’

‘Release his hands, Gocha.’

He stood frozen for a moment too long, as did her men at the door. An unusual thing, for her commands to be ignored. She wondered, with detached amusement, if she was going madder than she even knew, if she was forcing these poor men to pick between her fury and that of her surviving next of kin. Then again, what did it matter?

‘I’m not going to ask you a third time.’

Gocha knew the threat. Pressing his lips he bent over, fumbling with the key of the heavy iron handcuffs. ‘Your Majesty, if he hurts you…’

‘He won’t,’ she said. ‘He knows I’d take him with me to hell.’

The assassin’s face split open in a derisive grin, but he still didn’t speak a word, and didn’t move his arms when his cuffs came off. Gocha stood up again, the chains in his hands, his mouth a tight line.


‘Enough,’ Tamar said coldly. ‘Get out. Now.’

He visibly suppressed a curse, but turned around on his heels and marched out, followed by the two other men. Only when the door slammed shut did the assassin move, pulling his hands from his back and rubbing his wrists to get the blood flowing again. The sharp edges of the iron had left deep lines in the skin of his forearms.

‘They listen well to you,’ he said. It sounded amused rather than complimentary. ‘Do you publicly hang them if they protest?’

Tamar pinched her lips. ‘If I need to.’

He laughed. ‘Doesn’t bode well for me. Or will you give me a chance to beg for mercy?’

She studied him for a moment. Even in the dirt of a prison cell, kneeling on her floor, he didn’t give the impression he would ever lower himself to beg for anything. Then again, he also looked like a man who would do anything to survive.

‘Would you grab a chance?’

‘Of course I would. There’s a reason I didn’t make it to knighthood. Not enough honour in my body to die for someone else’s principles.’ He finally stopped rubbing his wrists and pulled his torn shirt straight. ‘Do I need to stay here on my knees, Your Majesty? The floor isn’t that comfortable, I must say.’

‘Getting a knife into your chest isn’t that comfortable either.’

‘No. Then again…’ He got to his feet, with exaggerated groaning. ‘You didn’t allow me to slit your throat either. So I don’t see why I would allow you to force my knees to shit.’ He grinned, then added carelessly, ‘Your Majesty.’

Tamar made the mistake of hesitating again. Gods be damned, of course he wouldn’t beg. He might speak the words, swear the oaths, deliver a picture-perfect show of a man pleading for his life – but he would do it all with that same twinkle of mockery in his eyes, and he would never grant her the obedience she had so painstakingly installed into her court. Infuriating beyond belief – and yet she needed his cooperation, even if compliance was too much to ask. Someone had given him that key to her room, someone in Redwood had been happy to see her dead, and if she didn’t find out…

‘What is your name?’ she said.

‘Runo.’ He turned away from her, ambling through her room as if he were some high-born visitor admiring the books and accessories on her shelves. ‘Nice library you have here. Don’t think I’ve ever seen this many dictionaries in one place.’

‘Who hired you?’

‘Is that an original Bachana sword?’ He reached out a murky hand. ‘Could also kill you with this one, if you prefer. I would personally consider it quite an honour to breathe my last breath with an actual Bachana through my heart.’

‘Keep your hands off my belongings. I asked you who…’

‘Who hired me,’ he finished, glancing over his shoulder. ‘I heard you, Your Majesty. I’m just not answering you. You’re not answering me either, after all.’

Tamar gave him a hard stare. He grinned a cheerful grin back and added, ‘An answer for an answer. I’m not making any ridiculous demands, am I?’


Iron is the first book in the Queen & Assassin trilogy, a steamy fantasy romance taking place in the world of the Five Kingdoms. Get it HERE!

Scroll to top