Born of Defiance

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Since she was moving, she hadn’t thought anything about it, but now she wished she had.

Not like I’m nervous enough about being here. After her friends had left her with their dire predictions on how long she’d live before her patron killed her in bed with his enormity, or outside of it with his cruelty, she’d spent hours researching Talyn Batur.

There was a lot written about him. None of it particularly good or personal. And nothing about his military record. In fact, she couldn’t find any confirmation of his military service at all. Rather the articles she’d read only went into his bloodthirsty fighting skills in the Open Ring. She’d seen countless photos of him bloody and thrilled after a fight. It was like he had a sick sense of glee from the brutality of it all.

Which did nothing to allay her terror.

Every article and broadcast she’d come across confirmed the cold-blooded ferocity Fresca and Rynara had accused him of. He took pity on no one. He was savage and ruthless. Fierce and terrifying. Unstoppable. Invincible. When he entered the Ring, he dominated it.

And no opponent walked out on two legs.

While she couldn’t find anything that said he’d actually killed anyone during a fight, all experts agreed that the Iron Hammer was the most feared and ferocious Andarion to ever enter the Splatterdome.

And he was the first to truly own the brutal blood sport.

Since everything she’d found had only scared her more, and her agency refused to allow her to back out of the contract, she’d finally stopped reading before she panicked and did something stupid.

Like leave the planet forever.

Swallowing hard, she met the doorman’s glare.

“Can I help you?” Could there be any more disdain in his tone?

“I… um… I’m supposed to be moving in here today.”

The look he raked over her body called her a liar. “Are you with your parents?”

She wanted to jump into a hole and vanish forever.


Standing up on her tiptoes, she looked past the doorman’s shoulder to see Talyn, who must have been waiting for her in the lobby. Dressed in his major’s red and black formal attire, he was breathtaking. A strange warmth flooded her at the sight of him, even though she was more afraid of him than she was the rude doorman. “Hi.”

And that one word totally changed the doorman’s demeanor toward her. “Here, mu tara. Allow me to help you.”

“It’s all right, Starrin. I’ve got it.” Talyn took the box from her hands. He glanced out toward the street. “Where’s the rest of your things?”

Now it was her turn to blush. “This is everything I have.”

Instead of judging her, he smiled kindly. Something that was completely at odds with the horror stories Fresca and Rynara had filled her with.

“Then let me take your pack and I’ll show you upstairs.” He gently pulled her rucksack from her shoulders and led her past a long, shiny desk of tough-looking security guards. Each of them eyed her as if they were committing her features to memory.

A huge burly male approached them. “Is this our new tenant? Tara Orfanos?” he asked Talyn.

“It is.”

She felt a rush of delight at the respect in his tone. Something she definitely wasn’t used to or expecting. Most tended to treat her like the doorman had on her arrival. Because she was very small and woefully shy for an Andarion female, it invited others to push her around and treat her like a child.

“Excellent. I’ll make sure everyone is familiar with her.” He smiled. “Welcome to the building, Tara Orfanos. If you need anything at all, my name is Aaron. I live here on the ground floor and am head of security.” He inclined his head to Talyn. “I’ve already assured Major Batur that I will personally see to your safety, as he was quite adamant that no harm befall you, lest he make our future mobility quite impossible and painful. While I’m not as ferocious as the major, I am quite accomplished at my job, and will make sure no one bothers you.”

Felicia smiled at the male even though his words did nothing to lessen the fearful knot in her stomach. “Thank you, Aaron.”

He opened the elevator doors for them. “Good afternoon, mu tara. Welcome to your new home. I know you’ll be happy here, and if you’re not, let us know and we’ll make sure that you are.”

Felicia bit her lip at his kindness. “Thank you, again.”

Talyn pulled a shiny black card out of his pocket. “You’ll have to swipe the card to reach our floor.” He showed her how then handed it to her. “After the swipe, it requires a hand scan.” He pressed his hand to the panel. It lit up before the elevator moved.

“So you don’t press a button for the floor?”

“No. It knows where you live by the handprint. As soon as you’re squared away, I’ll call the manager and he’ll get you entered into the system. Whenever you have visitors, you’ll have to notify security. Then you can either meet them in the lobby, or security will escort them up. But only if you’re home. If you’re not, they’ll have to wait for you in the lobby. Like I said, the security here is very serious about the safety of their tenants.”