Title: The Empires of Luxor City
Author: Sasha Hope
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: February 3, 2020
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy, LGBT, futuristic, crime/thriller, family-drama, urban fantasy, alpha/omega, gangsters, criminal underworld, reunited, crossdressing, hurt/comfort
SynopsisIn the aftermath of his father’s funeral, Dom Wesa, the new Alpha of Luxor City’s Central Empire, stumbles upon an Omega in desperate need of help. The Omega, Lin Vasiliev, wakes to find he’s been taken into Dom’s home to be rehabilitated. Dom thinks the young addict may have information about the illicit drug trade going on in his Empire. He gets Lin sober to question him only to discover that Lin is new in town and ignorant of Luxor’s laws.
Dom and Lin are both suspicious of each other at first for their own reasons, but as that wariness wears away a deep attraction develops between them. Dom dotes on Lin, leaving the once stone-broke Omega bathed in finery he never could have imagined. They start planning for Lin’s upcoming heat, when they will be driven together by their kindling bond and strong compatibility as an Alpha and Omega pair. However, in the midst of their swelling romance, Luxor’s most notorious Alpha reappears sparking a gang war that threatens to turn the entire city into a battleground.
The Empires of Luxor City
Sasha Hope © 2020
All Rights Reserved
There had never been fewer tears shed at a funeral.
It was strange. Crowds had wailed at funerals for worse men, but not a single soul in Luxor City wept for Malik Wesa, a business magnate who’d left behind a wife and two sons. They just stood there, all of them staring straight ahead with cold black eyes as the funeral director rolled the old man’s coffin into the crematory. Visible through a tiny char-stained window, the man who’d once been their leader burned down to ash and bone until there was nothing left of him but dust.
Shaking the image from his mind, Dom Wesa walked out through a wrought-iron fence and left the inner-city funeral home. He buried his hands deep in the pockets of his overcoat and made his way back across the busy city streets toward his office on the east side of town.
A chill rolled off the water near the docks as the year moved into fall. Dom originally drove to the funeral home with the rest of the family, but he couldn’t bear to spend another second with them even if it meant enduring the icy wind.
When a family member dies, all too often they are given a whole new life story. This was a universal truth Dom struggled to wrap his head around. There weren’t any tears at his father’s funeral, but there were enough artificial words of kindness to make him grit his teeth and bite his tongue until his eyes watered.
They all loved to mention how hard things would be for Dom with his father gone; how much weight would now fall on his shoulders.
Dom wanted to laugh. He’d been running this town without his old man’s help for ages. The death of the man he had stopped calling father a long time ago wouldn’t change a thing in his day-to-day life; it just made his position more official. Dom was now the eldest Alpha of the Wesa family, one of the great crime families in Luxor City, the capital of New America.
Decades back, when the government’s power over New America first started to crumble, the gangs of Luxor City went to war, fighting for control over the expansive city’s lucrative ports. As Dom walked through the streets, he passed the remnants of that conflict in the form of bullet holes etched into brick walls that lined the sidewalks and boulevards. Luxor hadn’t always been a haven of prosperity. These wounds were stark reminders that they should not let war tear their city apart again. They’d been preserved during reconstruction.
After years of brutality and gangland warfare, the dust finally settled over the metropolitan battleground. Only three factions were left in a city divided by chaos. They brokered a peace treaty, a deal that divided Luxor into three Empires, each ruled firmly by the Alpha heads of the surviving crime families: Wesa in the Center, Faraji in the North, and Sun in the South.
Dom Wesa was the sole Alpha heir to the Central Empire, a great strip of land stretching from the high-rises along the city’s eastern ports all the way to the cliffs on the western coast. Their portion of city was the smallest, but the Center also included the West Island, the final stretch of green pasture and woodland in Luxor, a place where only the wealthiest families could afford acreage.
Sila Wesa, the family’s Omega matriarch, still maintained an estate there. She would probably return home once the ladder-climbing mourners all left her in peace. As an Omega, she was expected to stay home and mourn her Alpha’s death for at least a year. Dom hated thinking of her returning to that vast hollow estate, but she wouldn’t be alone. She had his younger brother, Atsadi, with her.
Maybe they could be happy there now, but Dom couldn’t stand the place.
He made his way to his portside office, the private sanctuary where he conducted the family business, far removed from his father’s offices across from the luxury hotels and nightclubs downtown. It was an old-fashioned Deco-style building, relatively small compared to Luxor’s expansive high-rises, but taller than the nearby brownstone residences lining the old dock’s edge.
Dom entered through the public hall and took the stairs to his office instead of his private elevator. He couldn’t stand still, not even for a minute, not until he got a drink in him.
His office took up most of the fifth floor. A large window lined the street-facing wall, giving him a view of his docks and businesses as well as the swaying blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean.
Ships pulled in and out, always coming and going. The ports were the center of all business in Luxor. They had been around since the city’s foundation and wrapped around the entire coastline, enclosing Luxor in a circle of docks extending out into the water like a sea urchin’s spikes. It was a well-known fact that he who controlled the ports, controlled the trade, and he who controlled the trade, controlled the city.
Dom was fond of the old portside architecture. He had always been keen on the brutalist, Deco styles of ancient cities. He even decorated his office to match with polished wood and geometric patterns of gold emblazoned on black surfaces.
Inside the familiar space he’d made his own, he poured himself a glass of whisky from a decanter on his side table. He took a good long swig before taking a seat in the plush leather chair behind his mahogany desk.
Sighing heavily, he closed his eyes until a quiet thud on his desk drew them open again.
A thin newssheet folded down the middle sat in the center of his desk. Images flashed across its holographic surface. Dom recognized himself, his brother, and his mother in more than one. Fucking paparazzi.
The Luxor City Times headline read: Death of Malik Wesa leaves Central Empire in hands of son, Dominik.
Dom stared at the paper with a deadpan expression. Unblinking, he took another sip of his drink.
“Somehow I figured you’d be back in the office today.”
Dom’s gaze shifted in the direction of the voice.
His right-hand woman, Isa Saqui, stood over his desk smirking down at him.
Isa had been Dom’s eyes and ears ever since terminal illness took his old man out of power and put Dom in charge. She was an Alpha, a member of the dominant sex, like everyone in his inner circle. Isa stood tall, a muscular and imposing woman with angular bone structure casting dramatic shadows over her olive skin. Her long hair was tied in an intricate brunette braid that fell over one shoulder.
Dom turned away from her and picked up the newssheet. Without giving it another glance, he tossed it back across the desk toward her.
“The headline is hilarious,” he muttered before taking another drink.
Isa chuckled as she snatched the thin device back up.
“Isn’t it?” she said as she examined the article. “I mean, it’s not even news. Your old man hadn’t been running shit for years.”
It was true. Even before his father’s illness, Dom had been in charge, but Malik’s stint in the hospital had truly put him in power. In under a year, he’d earned the city’s respect and made vast alterations throughout the Central Empire to counter his father’s ineffective rule. Dom had always been in control; nothing would change now Malik Wesa was gone.
“We shouldn’t speak ill of the dead,” Dom said, smiling around the rim of his glass.
“Then let’s talk business.” Isa grinned like a shark. “Because I haven’t got anything good to say about the old bastard. How was his funeral, by the way?”
Dom simply shrugged in response. “Let’s talk business.”
With another snort of a laugh, Isa pulled out her phone and started going over a list of the day’s imports. The ships had come in on time, and their guys on the docks were already warehousing their “product,” storing it until it could be shipped throughout Luxor.
“So, we finally received those luxury cars we’ve been waiting for, two weeks late, but that’s the Southern trade route for you. Same shipment had a few crates of unprocessed opium—”
Dom cut in with gritted teeth, “Make sure that goes straight to the labs. Apart from heat suppressants, I don’t want to see that shit on my streets.”
“Already done.” Isa hardly even glanced up from her phone. “The independent Omegas of Luxor are already thanking you. You truly are a hero, Dom, providing them with suppressants and saving them from their dreaded heats. Less mating means more working. Off your backs and on your feet. That can be your campaign slogan.”
Dom eyed Isa, trying to gauge her level of sarcasm before gesturing for her to carry on with a short huff of amusement.
“Firearms from the mainland,” Isa said before listing off the models and manufacturers. “About half of this shipment is being sold to the Sun family in the south. They’ve got an underground trade problem on their hands.”
In the south of Luxor City, the Sun family controlled the majority of the city’s ports, but only imported from the Second Continent, across the western seas. This made them an excellent trading partner for Dom whose eastern ports shipped to and from New America. Whenever the Southern Empire wanted products from the New American mainland, Dom was their man, and when he needed Second Continent shipments, he knew just who to ask.
“All right.” Dom stood from his chair, rubbing his hands together. “The agent from the Sun family will want to see the guns before we truck them over. I’ll call—” Dom stopped abruptly when a terse shout erupted from the streets below, loud enough to resonate through the glass window and into his fifth-floor office.
“What the hell was that?” Isa asked with a furrowed brow.
Dom walked over to glare out of the window. They were right above the lobby, so a glance down offered a clear view of the ground below.
Across the street, a young man stumbled along the sidewalk. Even from the distance, Dom could tell there was something off about him. He swayed with each step, unable to keep to a straight line and using one hand to balance himself against the wall of the opposite building to keep from falling over.
He disappeared into an alleyway, followed closely by another man. This much larger man was the one shouting furiously as he marched into the narrow passage after the boy.
Dom turned from the window and grabbed his coat. Without a backward glance, he stormed out of his office.
“Dom? Hey! What the hell was that?” Isa repeated as he passed. She tried calling after him again, but he was already out of the door.
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FEEDBACK FROM EDITORS
Getting this novel published opened up a whole new world for me with the editing process. I’ve edited my work before (mostly just making sure there are no spelling/grammar issues when posting fanfiction). I’ve had beta readers and friends read over works in the past, but the editing process with a publisher is a different ball game. I really enjoyed it, even though my editor, the wonderful Elizabeth C., told me that it’s a lot of author’s least favourite part. I liked going over the places I could make my work better and I learned a lot! One of the biggest things I learned was ‘filter words’. Now, I come from a long background of writing for fun, so I didn’t know what these were until recently. Basically filter words are any verbs that distance the reader from the story. For example:
“He watched them leave the room.”
“They left the room.”
The idea of filter words is that one of these creates more distance between the reader and what’s happening. The verb ‘watched’ doesn’t need to be there and it doesn’t add anything except to make you picture the one watching before picturing the main action, ‘leaving the room’.
Here’s a list, though there are other words as well!
● to watch
● to see
● to look
● to hear
● to think
● to decide
● to know
● to notice
● to realize
Another two words that I was generally to avoid or replace were the words ‘suddenly’ and ‘slowly’. With ‘suddenly’ the idea is that it actually tends to make whatever action feel less sudden when it appears. And as for ‘slowly’, well, it’s just overused so vocab and sentence variation is key!
I found going through my manuscript in search of these words extremely helpful during the editing process! I removed, replaced or left them as is. I don’t think the point should be to get rid of every instance of ‘slowly’ or destroy all filter words, but I was definitely able to read over and improve the flow in my writing during line edits by going over these words.
Meet the AuthorSasha Hope is a lover of story, art and design based in Canada. As a writer and an artist, she enjoys having the opportunity to create new characters and build new worlds for readers to explore. Having studied linguistics and a myriad of languages from a young age, she is passionate about including characters of different backgrounds in her work. Whether the setting is fantasy or reality, she believes that a diverse cast with diverse languages and cultures is a wonderful thing.
Crafting stories that embrace MM romance and erotica is her modus operandi. When she is not creating new worlds she is travelling this one looking for inspiration or enjoying her career in the videogame industry.
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