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Heart Thief Excerpt
Druida City, Celta, 405 Years after Colonization, Autumn
Ruis Elder stared out windows that faced the street, checking as he did several times a day that no strangers loitered nearby. No assassins hired by his Uncle Bucus or guardsmen controlled by that powerful noble.
Ruis' birthright had been denied himhis rank as the Heir and then the Lord of a GreatHouse, and the estate itselfsomething he strove to forget. To remember made him feel worthless. All he chose to recall was that he had to continually be on guard.
He went to his bedroom, reached through the open window, and pulled his red shirt from the wooden drying bar that extended into the courtyard from the rusty brick wall.
The chill autumn air made him catch his breath. The deep blue of the sky with the distant small white sun dazzled his eyes. He savored the sweet-sharp tang of turning fall leaves. Goose-bumps shivered over his bare chest. It felt good and the silkeen shirt sliding over his skin felt better.
But he'd moved into this apartment in the heat of late summer, and it was time to leave. He frowned. The intervals between his moves were getting shorter and shorter.
Stamping into new black boots, Ruis let his gaze linger on the earthmotor, brought with the colonists to Celta. The engine would take more time, money and knowledge to fix than he'd expected. He stopped himself from picking up tools to tinker with it once more. When he worked on ancient machines he lost himself in the moment, able to forget his wretched past and ignore his precarious future. His fascination with artifacts that no one else cared about was his salvation.
He tore his gaze from the engine. Two earthsun gems shone in the sunlight on the table. Ruis grimaced. Stealing was a fact of his life since his defect in Flairpsi powerprecluded any normal work on Celta. When he was able to find a job, it was as a common laborer. And laboring didn't pay enough to rescue the past.
He took the jewels, placed them in a wall crack and brushed flaking grit from the surrounding bricks to cover the gems. One Earthsun was for emergencies, for bribes and survival if his murderous Uncle Bucus found him. The second was to acquire parts for Earth mechanicals, which Ruis collected from the corners of abandoned warehouses. Ruis thought he, alone in every other way, was the only one on Celta who was interested in saving and restoring the old machines.
The door burst open.