Marked for Rage – Crashed and Claimed Book 1 by Susan Hayes

Marked For Rage
Crashed and Claimed Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Hayes

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It was supposed to be a delivery run…
How did it turn into a prison break?

All Mercy had to do was deliver her cargo and go. Now she’s got a bunch of irate aliens on her tail and a hot-as-Helios escaped prisoner in her cargo bay who insists she is his. She’s too old for this crap, and she keeps telling herself she’s too old for him, too. But his arguments and his… assets are very convincing.

If they’re going to survive this intergalactic crisis, she’s going to need a plan… and her hot, horned and handsome alien passenger is going to need some clothes.

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As this book opens Rage a fa’rel has once again tried to escape. He’s thrown into isolation beaten and in pain but won’t give the guards the satisfaction of seeing that. An Android named Bysshe was an ally of sorts and he was trusted by Rage and his brothers. When Bysshe shows up a bit later, he informs Rage he is scheduled for termination. It seems the verexi, the race that created the fa’rel are tired of his antics. However, Bysshe has a plan and tells Rage to be ready.

The verexi are not physically powerful, so they created the fa’rel in their labs to be their army. Unfortunately, the fa’rel aren’t very obliging when it comes to blindly taking orders. Rage has three brothers also imprisoned here, he goal has always been to escape and free them. Now it seems his time has run out.

Captain Mercy Johnson has a contract to deliver cargo to this moon, she couldn’t call it a planet, and considers it a visual of what hell would look like. When she lands, she’s met by Bysshe and oversees the delivery. He also informs her that her contract may soon be over although he doesn’t know how soon. He does make her another offer, one that would end her contract now, but the payment would make it very worth her while to take on this cargo.

When her cargo arrives, she understands why the payment was so generous. This is a prison break. She needs to get out of here and fast. Her ‘cargo’ is injured on his way to the ship and after a brief message telling him to hold on, Mercy takes off.

Once they are out of immediate danger, Mercy confronts the alien she willingly brought aboard her ship. That encounter doesn’t go quite how she expects and is quite a page melter as she discovers the true nature of her passenger.

This is a favorite scene.

He lifted his head to speak but stopped when a new sensation blazed into his awareness. The skin on his chest tingled and then burned. His lips curled back into a snarl, but before he could do anything else the pain faded away.

He looked down at his chest, expecting to see blood or a wound of some kind. All he saw were black marks across his fur that hadn’t been there until now.

“Scars?” Mercy asked, her voice almost as soft as her touch when she traced the lines. “Like claw marks?”

She was right. He leaned back, giving himself enough room to move. He raised a hand, extended his claws, and held them over the new markings. They were a perfect match.

Mercy placed one hand over his, splaying her fingers widely enough to match the strange new lines. She drew her fingers down the lines, starting at his shoulders and crossing over his chest in an X. “What did this? Why?”

“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “I stopped asking that question a long time ago. The verexi never gave us any answers.”

“Us?” The little female’s tone had lost its sultry softness. “More of you are back there?”

“My brothers.” Her lips thinned, and she gave him a tight nod. “That’s why you wanted to go back.”

“Yes. Can we go back now?”

She shook her head. “We got lucky last time. We were nearly out of range before they got their guns primed to fire. If we go back, they’ll blow us to the nine hells long before we can land. This is a freighter, not a warship.”

He scowled and uttered a low growl of frustration. “Where can I find warships?”

Mercy snorted. “A sane person wouldn’t ask that question. Most of us try to avoid them at all costs.”

He slammed his fist into the floor, denting it. “Then how do I free my clan?”

He didn’t recognize the look in her eyes at first. He’d never seen it on another being, except in the videos the verexi allowed them to view sometimes. It was pity.

That wasn’t acceptable.

“No.” He lifted her up and set her down beside him on the chill floor. “We have to free them. I am the eldest. I swore…”

She raised a hand and pressed a finger to his lips. “Shush. You won’t save anyone if you’re dead. I understand promises. Made a few myself. Kept them, too. Mostly. Take it from someone older and theoretically wiser than you. Some promises take longer to keep.” She quirked a dark brow. “And that is the last time I will ever admit to being older than you. Bring it up again and I’ll make you pay for it.”

“I don’t know how much time they have.” Frustration still had him in a stranglehold, but he recognized her attempt to calm him with jokes. Her age didn’t matter. She was his Mercy. That was the only truth he cared about. She had to help him free the others.

“Bysshe knew. He told me that my contract would end soon because that place, whatever it is, was shutting down.”

He chewed on each word before spitting it out. “It’s a verexi laboratory. They made us. Experimented on us. If they are shutting down that place, the others…” The dent in the floor deepened as he slammed his fist down several more times. They’d kill them. Or move them so he’d never find them again. He wouldn’t let that happen. He would not lose them. They were all he had.

Mercy caught his fist in her hands. “Beating up my deck isn’t going to change anything. We’ll figure this out. Whatever they’re planning can’t happen right away. There are no ships in the area. We have a little time.”

We. No one besides his brothers had ever used that word. “You will help?”

She shot him a frustrated look. “Of course I’ll help. Bysshe paid me very well to get you off that planet. More than he promised me, in fact. I assume that’s because the job isn’t done yet. He knew you’d need the money. That is one sneaky android.”

He reared back, stung. “You think of this as a job?” This time, he didn’t just hit the deck plate. He punched his claws through it.

Her brows scrunched together, creasing her dark skin around her stormy eyes. Then the storm cleared and she shook her head softly. “Honestly? I have no idea what this is. You… this… this is as weird for me as it is for you.

I don’t normally sleep with my passengers. Hell, I don’t normally have passengers, period. But… she raised her arms. Black marks, smaller versions of the ones on his chest had appeared on her forearms. They started at her palms and wrapped around to cross over the top of her wrists.

“Whatever the fuck is happening, it appears we’re in it together.”

“What is that? What does it mean?” he asked.

Mercy laughed. “Fuck if I know. Humans don’t spontaneously manifest random markings. So whatever this is, I’m blaming you for it.”
Susan Hayes. Marked For Rage (Kindle Locations 479-517).

It’s a good thing Mercy has knowledge of how things work with the Galatic Legion although humans aren’t part of it. Her strategy is genius.

Rage and Mercy sizzle off the pages and hopefully the odds will be in their favor as they work to free Rage’s family.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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Coming Soon!

Susan Hayes

Susan lives on Vancouver Island, off the Canadian west coast where the waters are patrolled by orcas, and the sighting of snowflakes leads to citywide panic. She’s jumped out of perfectly good airplanes on purpose and accidentally swum with sharks on the Great Barrier Reef.

If the world ends, she plans to survive as the spunky, comedic sidekick to the heroes of the new world, because she’s too short and out of shape to make it on her own for long.

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