Liberation’s Passion – Chapter 1

coverPreorder Liberation’s Passion now: Liberation’s Passion at Amazon. Read FREE in Kindle Unlimited. Purchase or borrow by January 27 and receive a limited edition with a heartwarming bonus epilogue.

CHAPTER ONE

“Come to me, my love.”

Valorious stared into the holographic recorder. Her sultry tone was flat as a board.

“Sweep me away with your passionate kiss.”

Her hunky costar cupped her face. His lips nibbled hers and his tongue plunged into her mouth, wet and hot. He tasted minty-fresh.

She kept her eyes open and focused on the recorder. Her reflection stared back from the flat glass. Her gorgeous face was empty. Perfect.

Emotionless acting was her signature style. Her “blank slate” allowed the audience to put their own feelings onto her. It was like she wasn’t even here. Valorious was a pro.

Besides, only one man had ever made her lose control from a kiss.

Thinking of him made her frozen heart thump. She flinched.

“Cut!” the director screamed.

Her costar stepped back.

She sucked in a breath as the director of Her Torrid Love Lies, the highest-rated daytime soap opera on the planet, stalked to them.

Damn her momentary distraction. Was she going to have to redo the scene? And today was the last day of filming, too.

“That… was…” The director cupped her cold cheeks and his expression lifted into a radiant smile. “Magnificent!”

Whew.

The studio erupted in cheers. Confetti fluttered down on them. The director grabbed her hands and waltzed her around the set.

“Another award-winning performance,” he crowed, as they danced past the over-filled trophy cabinets. “This season, we’ll hit a new record for ratings! Let’s enchant the press.”

They exited into the front of the studio, where a season-finale conference had been set up. Reporters shouted questions.

“Valorious, Valorious! How do you feel now you’ve wrapped your one-hundredth season?”

She had been filming for seventeen hours. Her head hurt. All she wanted to do was go home.

“I feel fabulous,” she said. Still expressionless, and monotone.

“Valorious, how do you feel about the scriptwriters who plan for you to murder your husband in the next season? Are they targeting you because of your continuing decades of success?”

“My real life husband will be happy to say goodbye to his handsome rival.”

Everyone laughed.

“I might come back,” her costar said, cheeks flushed and eyes snapping. “I can always be resurrected.”

“Valorious!” one reporter shouted from the back, over the rest. “Your ex-lover, Domingo, dumped your cousin and is back on the market. How does that make you feel?”

It felt like blue fire burning in her gut. An ember long ago encased in ice.

Ever since she heard the news two weeks ago, the ember had begun to kindle heat, distracting her during filming, and shaking her to the core.

She drew a long, controlled breath. On the screen above, a shadow crossed her perfect face. “Um….”

Her mother’s voice spoke in her ear via an invisible earpiece. “You are very happy for him and wish him nothing but the best.”

Valorious located her mother on the edge of the crowd. Sisstine Antiata Chen. Her hair twisted up into a business coif with every strand neatly in place. A slate green business suit fit her well, and the wide collar accented her slender neck. Half a millennium separated their ages, but thanks to modern aging technology, they could be sisters.

“I am very happy and wish him nothing but the best,” Valorious repeated blandly.

The reporter paused as though waiting for her to break down and scream her real feelings.

But, long ago, she had learned how to operate the muscles of her face separate from any feelings. She bestowed a graceful smile on the reporter.

The reporter dug harder for dirt. “He just became the richest man in the solar system. Any plans to snatch him back?”

“That will never happen,” Valorious snapped.

“I would love to speak more about this when I have more details to share,” her mother’s voice was saying.

Shit. She’d spoken off the cuff and missed her cue.

Her mother paled with fury.

“I’ll share more details later,” Valorious said smoothly.

The press conference continued. Her mother’s icy wrath blew like the air off a frozen wasteland at the side of the press area. After the conference finally ended, Valorious excused herself from the rest of the cast and reached her mother. “I’m very sorry—”

“Go to the jet, Valorious.”

She obeyed, climbing to the massive studio rooftop. In their private hover jet, they flew across the starry cityscape of the small planet. Valorious sat in the luxurious back. Her mother stared out the window, every muscle tensed.

“Please don’t be mad,” Valorious said. Her throat, too dry, cracked. “I’ll make it up to you.”

Her mother relented and handed her a bottle of refined water. “You should be over him.”

They both knew she meant Domingo.

Thinking of the hard, passionate, dark-eyed man made Valorious sweat.

Valorious drank. It chilled her all the way to the center of her body, soothing her. She held the empty bottle in her cold hands. “I am.”

“Good. You will have no objections to accepting the next contract.” Her mother pulled a screen out of her business jacket.

Valorious couldn’t stop her sigh.

The end of the season was always a time of uncertainty. Her old obligation was over, at least for a few weeks.

In theory, she could escape. Slip away to a little cabin, tuck her feet under a fuzzy blanket, savor a good book and endless cups of tea… and not think about the man whose existence worried her like an itch she couldn’t scratch.

Her mother noted her sigh. “Something wrong?”

“Can we skip the public appearances? Just this once? It is my hundred-year anniversary on the show.”

Her mother lowered the screen. “I thought you liked showing off your husband’s luxury goods. You get to go out to the best restaurants and be seen with the right people. Their sales make your life possible.”

“I know, but I’m just… I’m a little tired.”

Her mother lifted the screen again. “Fine. Because you asked me, Valorious, and because I live to make you happy, you will be pleased to know there are no planned public appearances during this break.”

Thank goodness.

“I’ve already agreed to review a personal contract.” Her mother began to read aloud the summary of Valorious’s next contract.

Ugh.

Valorious studied her perfectly blank face in the reflection of the glass bottle. Phrases about “requested presence” and “compensation” and “full body privileges” floated in the private jet on her mother’s calm drone.

Personal contracts weren’t bad. Mostly. She lived in someone else’s house, obeyed their every whim, and got plenty of free time to herself. Maybe she could slip in a book and a pot of tea.

“In summary,” her mother finished, as the jet landed imperceptibly in their reserved spot, “for the next few months, you will live with, sleep with, and cater to every whim of Domingo Chen.”


Preorder Liberation’s Passion now: Liberation’s Passion at Amazon. Read FREE in Kindle Unlimited. Purchase or borrow by January 27 and receive a limited edition with a heartwarming bonus epilogue.

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