CENTAURI TWILIGHT – excerpt & book give away

The star cruiser Dremel, orbited above the planet Delaz.  Anton hadn’t asked for the Dremel, it was the flagship of the Centauri fleet, but Darius had insisted.  “It’s our best ship.  If you should get into trouble, the ship and its personnel might get you out.”  Darius had clapped him on the shoulder.  “I’m not ready to lose you yet, brother.”
The trip from Centauri was short, only ten days, but the difference between his technologically advanced home planet, and this one might as well have been a thousand years.

Garrick Marcus, First Officer of the Dremel and Anton’s friend, read from the computer screen.  “Thoriz Slavarien, and his son Ranzon, rule Delaz with an iron fist.  All communication for the populace with the outside universe was cut off more than sixty years ago.  All shipments to or from the planet, go directly to the City of Palaqwa where communication is possible only with the Slavarien regime.”  He turned to Anton.  “The people of Delaz are in the dark about the rest of the universe.  They may not even know other people, other cultures, exist unless they live in the city and work directly with those that come to trade.”

Anton nodded.  “I’m not surprised.  The Slavariens must oppress the people in order to remain in power.”

Garrick, hands on the transporter controls, said, “Are you ready?  You’ll be transported to the outskirts of a town called Nagato.”

“I’m ready.  You have the com.”

“Affirmative, Captain.  And Anton…good luck.”

“Thanks, Garrick.  I think I may need it.”


The border town of Nagato was unlike anything he’d ever seen except on a viewdisc.  The buildings were all wood and in fair condition.  The street he was on bustled with activity. This was the heart of the commercial district, stores on both sides of the partially paved street.  The original paving had been done at the same time he was born thirty five years ago…maybe even before and hadn’t been repaved since.  Wooden posts in front of each building looked like they were some sort of parking meter.  Compared to the rest of the building, the posts were new and well kept.  They couldn’t actually be parking meters for air cars or cloud cars because there weren’t any of those vehicles to be found.

Transportation was by foot or on a beast called an allorat.  His computer had a picture of it but it lacked the nuances only the real thing can show.   Four legged with brown wooly coats, they had huge eyes, tiny ears and a beak instead of a snout.  The allorat’s  beak does not have teeth, much less the razor sharp ones that their cousin the snarlot has.  Their tails were short and whip like.  Ten feet tall at the shoulder, Anton would need a ladder to get on one, if he were to actually ride it.  He apparently wasn’t the only one.  The saddle on the one in front of him had a rope ladder hanging on the left side.  It looked like it rolled up after the rider was atop the beast.

But the worst thing about an allorat was they stank.  Not your average everyday sweaty animal stink, but a stench so foul, Anton had to hold his nose and close his eyes to walk past the thing.  There was no way in this world or any other that he was going to ride that animal.

It was too dangerous for a Centaurian like himself to travel openly in Delaz. Strangers stood out.  Even dressed as a local, his rich sapphire blue robes hiding his uniform and his weapons, his longish black hair tied back with a strip of leather, he was still an outsider.  There was something ingrained in the populace, an attitude of fear that made it difficult for outsiders.  Especially those unaccustomed to the kind of constant terror that these people endured day after day.  No one wanted to say anything for fear they might be killed.

Delaz was a poor planet that had once been a part of Centauri’s monarchy, but too long now had it been under the rule of Thoriz Slavarien and his family’s brutal control.  The only people who had air cars were the Slavariens.  Not even the other noble and wealthy families were allowed the technology.  If Anton used one he might as well paint a giant target on his back.

There were only two classes of people on Delaz.  The haves and the have nots.  The haves wore richly decorated robes over jumpsuits just as Anton did now over his uniform.  The color of the robe indicated the house of the owner.   The more elaborate the robe, the richer the person.  The more slaves owned, the richer the person.

Then there were the have nots.  The slaves.  Anton soon learned the purpose of the posts in front of the buildings.  Not for the allorats, there was no fear they would run away.  The posts were for the slaves.  The male slaves wore manacles at wrist and ankle.  Each of the posts had built-in chains that the slaves could be attached to.

In addition to the manacles, the male slaves wore a sleeveless shirt, a wide leather belt and pants.  No shoes, nothing else.  The females he saw wore even less.  Their clothing was two pieces.  A long vest, open on both sides and held together with a wide leather belt.  No under garments, no shoes.  They didn’t wear manacles, but a ring on the back of the belt fastened to the post chain.  Anton was appalled.  He’d never seen anything so barbaric in his life.

Zelton Slavarien had sold Jondalara into this life.  It was a good thing he was already dead or Anton would have another reason to kill the bastard.

According to the Dremel’s computer, he should be outside the main planetary capital of Palaqwa tomorrow.  The only semi-modern city on the planet, it was protected by a force shield.  The Slavariens were reviled because of their slave holding and knew it.  If not for the rich stores of various metals needed by the outside world they wouldn’t be dealt with at all.  As it was there was little choice, one had to have relations with the Slavarien family if one wanted the unique metals this planet had to offer.

Anton had to make his way on foot because of the shield and the fact that the only space port was Slavarien controlled.  Shuttling to the space port would have announced his arrival to the family he was here to destroy.  He would find Jondalara and take her from here but then, then he would return and destroy everything that the Slavarien family loved.  Just as they’d destroyed him.


Near Palaqwa, tall trees, surrounded by thick shrubbery, gave plenty of cover for a clandestine meeting of rebels and their explosives dealer…Anton.  The sale and exchange of the explosives was only a ruse to find Jondalara.  Not that he wouldn’t blow up the whole damn planet to find her.  He would.  And she’d be returned to Centauri no matter the obstacle.  He’d promised Audra.  Back to Centauri, back to her family.  Back so he didn’t have to fight the depression and hopelessness, the darkness he so wanted to go into, anymore.

Of course, after he found her, he’d need to get them both out.  The authorities would expect him to take her and try to leave by way of the spaceport.  Anton would instead head south at the first hint of trouble, the opposite direction of the Slavarien controlled spaceport, until they were out of the range of the force shield.  Then he’d have them transported aboard the Dremel for the ten day journey home.

He could transport through the shield but it was dangerous and to be attempted only in a dire emergency.  The shield, if strong enough, would scatter your particles and you’d end up as space drizzle.  He doubted the Palaqwa force shield was that strong.  It was old and, his starship computer told him, riddled with holes.  Still there was no reason to take the risk.

Reckless with his own life, taking missions that were considered suicidal, he nevertheless planned this one carefully so the mission would succeed.  He hadn’t been so careless before he was captured by Zelton Slavarien and tortured for weeks.  For him nearly dying made him daring some would say rash.  He pushed himself to defy death over and over, taking unnecessary chances in the process.

Anton was still a general in the Centaurian army.  His work life was fraught with danger.  He was cautious with others’ lives but not his own.  He knew how quickly everything could end.  He’d seen the look on countless spouses’ faces as he’d brought them the news of a loved one’s death.

He would never have a spouse left to suffer because of him.  He had no need to marry now.  Centauri had its Queen and King, Audra and Darius.  He wasn’t needed to fulfill a prophesy any longer.  A prophesy that peace would come to the planet upon the marriage of the House of Danexx with the House of Coridian.  Audra had fulfilled the prophesy by marrying Darius.  Peace did come because Slavarien was killed and his followers rounded up and prosecuted.  That was all Audra’s doing.  She was a brave woman and would be a great Queen.

And he didn’t want to marry, especially now.  All he wanted was to finish this one last mission.  That wasn’t too much to ask.  One day at a time until he finished.  Delivered her home.  Then he could retire to the darkness that called him.  He had a hard time admitting to himself what he’d endured, much less telling anyone else about it.  He knew he should.  Mind wizards would have a field day trying to ‘cure’ him of the aftermath of his torture.  He wasn’t up for it.  They could use someone else as a test subject.  For now he had a job to do.

According to his intel, this band of militants had knowledge they would trade for the explosives he was bringing.  Buying them in Palaqwa was too dangerous.  So they’d contacted one of his operatives.

He hoped the long lost princess, this Jondalara Danexx, was worth the price his crew had already paid.  Two of his mean lost their lives gathering the little information that he had.  He knew the cost of life.  His own survival had been purchased with the lives of his entire platoon when he’d gone after Slavarien two months ago.  The price for his life was too high.  He wouldn’t wish what he went through at Slavariens hands on anyone, but he’d give everything he had in exchange for those who gave their lives that day.

The only information that bastard Zelton gave before he died, was he’d last seen Jondalara on this planet two years ago.  The Slavarien home world.  Anton spent the first few days since he arrived letting it be known he was looking for someone and had items to trade for information.  He’d also shown Audra’s picture around, hoping someone would lead him to her identical twin sister.

He’d gotten lucky last night in a bar.

Someone knew someone, who knew someone.  It wasn’t much but he’d take it.  This meeting was the first bite he’d gotten and he had no intention of blowing it.  He would get the information he needed if he had to bloody a hundred men.  There was no way he was disappointing his new queen.

If Audra hadn’t found him, beaten to the edge of life in a cell in Slavarien’s fortress, he’d be dead.  Now he struggled every day not to give in to the despair that called to him.  Slavarien’s torture wouldn’t have stopped.  Didn’t stop.  Even now the torture continued in his mind.  Med-techs could heal only so much damage, all of it physical.  No one offered a cure for the mental and emotional trauma caused by long periods of torture.   Not even the mind wizards.  You could talk to them, take drugs, or have them remove the memories from your brain with a laser.

Anton didn’t like any of those choices.  Especially the laser.  No one was going to laser his brain.  He would keep going one day at a time, working, keeping busy.  Not thinking, dwelling on what he’d lost.

If he kept his brain occupied, the hopelessness and the guilt, for the deaths of his platoon, the twenty men Zelton Slavarien slaughtered to get to him, wouldn’t devour him this day.  The two undercover operatives that got him the information to find Jondalara.  They all died because of him.  He didn’t pull the trigger, but he might as well have.
He’d expected to be the King of Centauri; he’d planned his life around that fact.  The ancient codex promised it.  Then Audra and Jondalara disappeared.   He was tend and was the only one left.  According to the ancient codex he would become king and choose his queen as there was no more of the Danexx line alive.  Then Audra was found and brought back.  So he was back to being betrothed to Audra.

Audra was brave and smart and perfect…for Darius.  Anton admired her and was attracted to her, would have married her as it was prophesized, if she hadn’t been Darius’ lifemate.

The ancient codex had always been interpreted that the eldest of the lines would marry.  Audra decided it only said the two families would join.  Nothing about the eldest.  Leave it to Audra to change the interpretation.  He smiled.  She would be a good queen.  A queen independent of the machinations of the Senate.  Senators couldn’t be trusted.

They were politicians and politicians were only out for themselves.  Lord Tybold, High Chancellor of the Senate, was an example of this.  Anton suspected that he was the traitor who’d sold him and his platoon to Slavarien.  When Anton found the proof, Tybold would die, but only after he experienced the same kind of pain that Anton had.

Since his life path had been so drastically altered, he needed a reason to go on.   Taking on this mission got him away from the happy couple, away from the memories and the guilt.

Anton arrived at the rendezvous hours before the meeting time.  He wanted to get the lay of the land and put the meeting place under surveillance, as well as search for any traps or ambushes awaiting him.

The clearing was small, grassy and surrounded by large rocks, perfect for weary travelers to use as seats.  There was a fire pit in the middle of the circle of rocks, which looked like it had seen much use.

From his cover in the shrubbery, he watched a small contingent of twenty men position themselves loosely around the perimeter of the small clearing.  He couldn’t call them soldiers.  They were not well armed and, being a lifetime soldier himself, he could see they were not well trained.  Anton could take them all out with one ion grenade.

Still he approached cautiously.  He came up behind one, put his hand over the man’s mouth, his knife to his throat and pressed, just hard enough to get a drop of blood and the man’s undivided attention.

“Which of you is Karavar?” Though Anton knew immediately who was in charge.  All the men were dressed in drab colored, long sleeve shirts with brown pants.  Some had on vests over the shirt.  All carried a knife.  The tall man across the clearing had both a blaster and a knife.  No one else carried a blaster.  He was the man in charge.
“You hold the knife to his neck,” responded the tall, well-armed man.

Anton released the man he held, pushed him away, then turned to the tall man and narrowed his eyes.  “Karavar.   I am, Coridian, Anton Coridian.”

Karavar laughed, a rumble from deep in his chest.  “So there is no fooling you, eh, my friend?  Come let us break bread, drink some wine and talk about our problems, eh?”

“Delighted.  I’m here to sell you the explosives you’ve contracted for.  But I will trade them for information instead.”

“I have no information to give.”

“I haven’t told you what information I need.”

Karavar scratched his chin.  “Very well, what are you looking for?”

“I’m looking for this girl.”  Anton showed him the picture of Audra, taken in her wedding dress.

“So you look for your runaway bride?  Why would I have knowledge of where she is?”

“She’s not my bride.”

“You are hunting her for a bounty, then?” he asked, a glint in his eye.

Karavar attacked without warning.  He pulled his knife and slashed at Anton, nicking his arm in the process.  Anton fell to the ground and swept Karavar’s legs out from under him.

Karavar hit the ground hard on his back. “Ugh.”

“Where is she?  Where is Jondalara Danexx?”  Anton pinned him in a flash but Karavar wasn’t giving up without a fight.  The man was big.  As big as Anton.  Anton’s training in hand to hand combat allowed him to rule the day.  He raised his hand to deliver the final blow, when he felt the cold metal of a blaster barrel at the back of his head.

“Enough, Mr. Coridian,” said a husky, feminine voice.  “Get off Karavar slowly.  Don’t make any sudden moves or they will be your last.”

Anton rolled off Karavar’s unconscious form and kept his hands high as he came to his feet.  He turned around and his jaw dropped.

Standing before him was Audra.  A tough, hardened, buff version of Audra.  Yet her short cropped hair emphasized the most amazing violet eyes he’d ever seen.  Her skin was tanned yet her lips looked soft and full, perfect for kissing.  She was a vision, a balm to his soul.

All the signs were there.  The racing pulse, sweaty palms, and sudden fever.  Most telling was the overwhelming need to make love to this woman and this woman alone, preferably now.  He wanted, desired, desperately needed her under him, over him, around him.  He’d never felt this kind of lust for a woman before.

His own lifemate.

He never thought to actually find her, his lifemate.  And for her to be Audra’s sister was something he never imagined.  But he had all the symptoms.

She wore men’s clothes.  Mostly, the same as the men in her merry band.  Tight trousers and a long sleeved shirt.  She also wore a short jacket.  Brown and green, they rendered her virtually invisible in the foliage and trees.  A sword hung from her belt on the left, a blaster holster on the right.  Though there was nothing overtly feminine about her clothing, there was no mistaking she was a woman.  The trousers emphasized the curve of her hip.  The jacket couldn’t hide her lush breasts.  Her hair was short but Anton didn’t think it was in an effort to look like a man.  It was short for another reason that he had yet to discover.

“Why are you looking for me, General Coridian?   I hear you are offering explosives in exchange for information about me.”

“So I am.”

“I scanned you.” She touched the scanner on her belt.  “You have no explosives.  You’re a liar like all Centaurians.”

“May I lower my hands?” he asked, already doing it.

She nodded her consent but kept the blaster aimed at his head and, in these close quarters, he didn’t think she’d miss.

“You are also Centaurian.  Does that make you a liar as well?” he asked.

“I am not Centaurian.  My parents abandoned me on Procon.  Left me with an uncle who had the bad luck to be murdered.  Left me to be sold into a fate worse than death.”

“Jondalara, your parents never abandoned you.  Never.”

“Again, you lie, Coridian.”  She sat on a nearby stone but left him standing.

“I don’t.”  He, too, sat on the nearest stone to him, keeping her at eye level, just as he would a dangerous animal.  She might not be one, but she was dangerous, to both his sanity and his body.  In all ways, his life was in her hands.

“They sent you and Dayanara away to save you.  To keep you safe from Zelton Slavarien.  When they heard about your uncle dying, they came for you immediately, but you were already gone and no one knew where you were or even if you were still alive.  Your parents searched for you until the day they died.  We didn’t know Slavarien sold you to the Delazin until two weeks ago.”

“Slavariens.”  She spit.  “I’ll kill them all.  I’ll kill that bastard first, if I ever see him again.”

“You won’t.  He’s dead.”

She nodded and spit again.  “Good.  Who’s Queen if my mother is dead?”

“Audra…Dayanara…your twin sister.”

“What is it with you?”  She jumped up and pointed the blaster at him.  “Can’t you say one complete sentence that’s not a lie?  Dayanara died as a baby.  Even I know that.  Uncle Abit told me.”

“Put the blaster away.  Please, before you hurt one of us.”  He raised his hands palms up.  Anything to calm her.  “We all believed her to be dead.  But it wasn’t true.  She is alive and well.  Your aunt, Margareta, spirited her to Earth, a galaxy away.  Things aren’t always what they seem.  It’s also a common belief that you died when you disappeared as a baby.  Both of you disappeared on the same day and were never found again.  Everyone thought you both dead.”

“Well, I’m not dead.  Though I wanted to die many, many times.”  Jondalara shuddered and pain flashed in her eyes as she holstered her blaster.  Anton turned away.  He didn’t want to see the demons haunting her.  He saw enough of his own when he looked in the mirror.

“Nothing that you or any of us believed was true.  All of it was lies and machinations by Zelton Slavarien.”

She raised her chin a notch.  “Lara.  My name is Lara.  Jondalara died a lifetime ago.”





11 thoughts on “CENTAURI TWILIGHT – excerpt & book give away

  1. Cynthia is a new author for me and would love to win and read this book. Loved the excerpt and would love to finish reading this book. Thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win.
    Cynthia, do you have any favorite authors? Books?

    • I have so many favorite authors and books, it’s ridiculous. I bet I probably have a thousand books, mostly in boxes in the basement. Some of my favorite authors are Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsey, Linda Lael Miller, Amanda Quick, Robin D. Owens, Viola Estrella, Julia Quinn. I could go on and on. How about you? What are your favorite authors?

  2. This definitely sounds like a great series. I will have to go back and read this first, I love stories of forbidden love. The second book sounds just as good. The reviews that I have read on both books are fantastic. Put the sample of the Centauri Dawn on my Kindle, just so I wouldn’t forget.


    • Thanks to everyone for leaving a comment. Our winner of the contest is Chris. I’ll be contacting you private to arrange for delivery of your book.


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