Fade to Black
But, as I said, The System is definitely a dark romance. It’s not your typical, lighthearted story of two people stuck in a minor predicament finding a way past their personal obstacles to live happily ever after. It’s the story of a gunslinger—who finds his job very fulfilling—and of a prostitute—who wants out of the business—ending up in close quarters by chance, finding a volatile beginning to their romance, and only ever managing to live happily for now.
Heather currently resides in Delaware with her loving husband and beloved cat. She began writing romance and erotica in 2008 and hasn't been able to keep her mind out of the gutter since.
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The System by Heather Lin
Capri is an alluring young prostitute with a painful past; Brody is a ruthless mercenary for a crew of thieves from the spaceship Gypsy Lass. When he enters her brothel, the attraction between them is instant, electric, and too much for him to handle. After a robbery gone wrong, the crew takes Capri hostage, forcing her and Brody to remain in close quarters until they see fit to drop her on another planet.
But Capri's plight and the intense feelings between her and Brody turn out to be the least of their problems. Together—whether they like it or not—they uncover a secret no one in the whole System could have expected.
Year 564 after the Migration
Brody walked along a quiet street on the outskirts of New York on Earth one. A car zoomed by every few minutes. The newest ones were held aloft over the street by opposing magnetic charges; others were navigating themselves as the drivers fixed their hair or ate their lunch; and the cheapest ones necessitated the driver to attempt to handle the controls while fixing their hair or eating their lunch. He glanced over to admire a new Ford Mustang before opening the door to a small, neatly-kept building.
On the outside, it looked like a nice, upscale bar, but the inside would have shocked any upper-class drink connoisseur. There was loud yelling and catcalling, beer splashed out of mugs, and scantily-clad girls sat around, waiting for their turn to dance on poles. Brody grinned and rubbed a hand over the stubble of his chin. This was his kind of place.
"Good evening, sir." At the intrusion of the male voice, Brody tore his eyes away from the dancing girls. "Will you be needing service tonight?"
"Yeah, how much?" Brody replied to the short, well-dressed man.
"Depends on who you like. Sit down and have a drink." He smiled accommodatingly. "There isn't any hurry to decide."
Brody gave a short nod before heading to the bar. He watched the girls for a while, took in the scenery. There were older girls who were too faded for his liking and younger girls who were too fake. He was well into his second beer before he saw one that really made him want to open his wallet.
She was coming out of one of the side rooms, tugging a heavy-set, bald-headed man by his hand. They were laughing and chatting, and by the flush of their cheeks, they had just finished something hot and heavy. The girl was a young one, barely old enough to be called a woman, with a slim figure and long chestnut curls that were scattered with braids and beads. She must have felt Brody looking at her and met his gaze for a brief moment. Brody gave her a grin and signaled to the brothel's manager. He came over to the bar with the scheduling window already up on the screen in his hand.
"Have you come to a decision?"
"Yeah. That pretty brunette there." He waved a hand in the girl's direction.
"Capri. She's a very good choice. But I'm sorry to say that was her last customer. Our girls only take five per day. They need their rest. Would you like to choose another one or make an appointment for tomorrow?"
"I think I can handle another one, Guy," said an alluring female voice.
Capri had escorted her last customer to the exit before approaching the bar. The barkeep handed her a glass of water, and she kept her eyes locked on Brody as she took a sip, examining him, sizing him up. He was keenly aware of his unshaven face, ratty jeans, and the gun strapped securely to his hip. But he was unapologetic. He might not be one of her upper-class clients, but he had the money for her. For now, she was his, whether she liked him or not. And by the way she'd jumped to get his pay, he doubted she was fazed by his rough exterior.
"I like the looks of this one," was all she said to Guy by way of explanation before beckoning to Brody and heading back to her room.
"That'll be five hundred," the man told him.
Brody took out his wallet and opened it. A pocket on one side held blank cash cards and the other side held a small scanning device with a numbered keypad. He entered his password and the amount of money and swiped a card. Then he handed it to Guy and followed Capri into seclusion.
She was sitting on the edge of a double bed, her long, smooth legs crossed, waiting for him. Dark curls fell elegantly over the satin fabric of her red dressing gown, and her hazel eyes gleamed green in the overhead lighting. She was the image of perfection, and Brody could feel desire pulsing within him. He sat next to her and fingered the smooth fabric of her outfit.
"Red's my favorite color," he said.
"I'm glad you like it."
Capri smiled and reached up to touch his face. He sucked in a breath at the tender gesture.
"It's been a while for you, hasn't it?" she asked softly.
"Don't get the company of women much in my career."
"What career is that?"
"There ain't one in particular," he replied, trying to focus on what he was saying as her fingers traced the muscles of his chest and abdomen. "The crew I run with just does… sorta odd jobs."
"Sounds exciting," Capri murmured, raising her eyes to meet his. "So how about you tell me your name before we get started?"
"Shots," he answered.
"Is that your real name?"
"That's what the boys call me."
"Well, as you can see, I'm not one of the boys." She gestured to her modest, but all-too-appealing curves.
"Brody," he answered after a moment.
"Brody," she repeated softly, grasping the bottom of his shirt and sliding it up over his head.
As Heather stated above she is curious to hear how readers might respond to a romance novel that’s just a bit more grim than most.
Leave a comment with your thoughts and you'll be entered to win a $5 Starbucks gift card as well as a one of a kind bracelet engraved with a quote from The System.
The gift card winner will be announced on August 31st here, and the winner of the bracelet will be announced on Heather's blog on September 1st.