Mirror Image [MultiFormat]
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by Mima, Bonnie Dee
Category: Erotica/Erotic Science Fiction/Romance
Description: When Agent Mara Brannigan struts into a low-rent bar on a mission to seduce and apprehend a pair of fugitives from the government, she doesn't count on being the one caught in the snare of seduction. Captain Frederick Ravenscraft has been duplicated during a rare space storm. Now the two versions of the sexy space trader disagree over which of them is the original and which of them is in charge. Two unique, heated kisses and one bar brawl later, Mara wakes up. On their ship, in their care. Still, she's used to ever-changing field conditions, so why not make use of them? Two sexy interludes and one deadly alien attack later, she's shocked to discover these men are more than just her marks. Mara needs to do some fast talking to meet the needs of her heart and her job. Her Captains are a matched set of hardheads. Will she get through to them, or will she be forced to make a choice between love and duty?
eBook Publisher: Atlantic Bridge/Liquid Silver Books, 2010
Mundania eBookstore Release Date: June 2010
14 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [MultiFormat - What's this?]: eReader (PDB) [124 KB], ePub (EPUB) [148 KB], Rocket/REB1100 (RB) [79 KB], Portable Document Format (PDF) [405 KB], Palm Doc (PDB) [88 KB], Microsoft Reader (LIT) [150 KB], Franklin eBookMan (FUB) [146 KB], hiebook (KML) [240 KB], Sony Reader (LRF) [171 KB], iSilo (PDB) [73 KB], Mobipocket (PRC) [91 KB], Kindle Compatible (MOBI) [158 KB], OEBFF Format (IMP) [123 KB]
Reading time: 75-106 min.
Microsoft Reader (LIT) Format: Printing DISABLED, Read-Aloud ENABLED
Portable Document Format (PDF) Format: Printing DISABLED, Read-Aloud ENABLED
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
Double your pleasure.
Her gaze magnetically sealed to the matched pair across the bar. Most everyone in the place kept stealing glances at them, so it wasn't like she'd reveal they were her targets. The tall, auburn-haired, leather-jacketed, testosterone-laden specimens of manhood were speaking intensely and occasionally jabbing a finger into each other's heavy shoulders.
Crossing her long, bare legs, she swung them idly from the tall barstool. It was nearly impossible not to gawk, to study them and search for some tiny differences between the arguing men. Hard to tell in the dim light, but it appeared as if Captain A had a scar marking the side of his face while Captain B's hair was definitely longer, falling past the upturned collar of his jacket. What must it be like? Two of her would be weird.
Double your fun.
The words of the nonsensical nursery rhyme passed down from the Old Days revolved incessantly in Mara's mind. She drew a deep breath and shifted on the faux-wood bar stool, trying to relieve the tension building between her legs. Her pussy felt as soft and pliable as plastique and just as likely to explode given the right igniter.
Focus. She was here on the small moon of Bonmim to apprehend her quarry, not get turned on by them. She didn't want to be here, all dressed up for sex she wouldn't get. Alone as usual. She loved her job, and was proud of it, but lately the pace had been getting to her. She needed a vacation. She wanted someone to talk to, and someone to have sex with, and the isolation hollowing her ribs was pathetic. Seducing these hardheads into leaving the bar with her was part of the plan, but she mustn't be taken in by her own performance. They were double cute, double interesting, and she was double lonely.
No, the seduction was for show. The men were likely to fight if cornered so she couldn't apprehend them in a room full of people. But it shouldn't be too difficult to get one or preferably both of them to follow her outside where she could politely read them their rights then escort them to Rasedule where the Capitol Science Headquarters of Theory and Energy was located.
Not difficult at all, especially as both men simultaneously noticed her and stared with smoldering, dark eyes that peeled off her I-wanna-have-fun clothes from across the room. Mara longed to slip off the confining little black dress that lifted her sensitive breasts and rubbed too roughly against her feverish skin. Damn, it was like she'd been caught in a radiation shower, as if her very bones were melting. If the men's mere scrutiny could do that, think of what their roaming hands or mouths could do.
Double your pleasure.
She turned her attention back to her drink, sucking deeply on the straw impaling the icy blue confection. The slush cooled her throat but the alcohol warmed her blood even more. Mara waited, gazing around the bar at other people, making eye contact with other men. A young blond was notable for the return heat he sent her. Here she was, just an ordinary woman on the make. She ignored the empty cavern of her echoing heart. Here she was, just an ordinary agent who hadn't even seen her friends face-to-face in over a year.
A moment later, two blue Molten Icecaps were plunked down on the bar in front of her. She could tell by the dense cobalt at the base these were fully loaded. Drinking on a job was against her rules. It was common sense.
"Courtesy of the gentlemen over there," the bartender said. He paused before turning away. "I'd watch out for those two, miss. Lot of trouble."
"Really?" She looked at her quarry again, nodding her acknowledgement of the drinks, meeting the two pairs of sizzling eyes. "Happens to be I'm looking for trouble. You can let them know that for me if you'd like."
The Moltens were her favorite. How lucky for her. She pulled one closer and took a deep drag of the spicy slush.
The bartender shrugged. "All right, lady, but don't say I didn't warn you."
After he walked away, the blond man she'd smiled at came up beside her. "Hello. I see I moved too slowly and somebody's already bought you drinks. How about I break tradition and buy you a bag of pretzels instead?"
The man flashed a charming grin. If she hadn't been on a mission, Mara might have taken him up on the offer and taken him home later that evening. He was the kind of young, obedient and energetic partner she liked. But of course she was on a mission, same as she had been for the last ten years.
He angled his shoulders, blocking her view. Then again, the captains eclipsed every other man in the room. If she really was on the make, maybe she'd take a gamble on a less dependable date. Maybe she'd truly hit on her targets, if she was feeling really frisky. Which she was. The blond was in the way. She needed the stools beside her left empty.
"You're very sweet. Thanks, but sorry, I'm expecting someone." She smiled her firm, polite smile then let him know with her eyes that she meant it.
With a nod, the guy retreated back to his buddies at a nearby table.
Mara took another long pull on her straw, draining her glass, and an ice headache threatened. What the hell was taking them so long to move in? Restlessly, she stretched her neck and checked out the decor. This bar was the latest in historical reproductions. The synth walls were uneven brown slabs, supposedly like massive plants that had been cut and nailed together. Old names written in glowing tube lighting were scattered behind the bar. Her favorite was one the same color as her Molten drink. It read "Miller Time." Whatever that was. Maybe it was the frustrating amount of time between the Copied Captains giving her yummy drinks and getting their big firm bodies over here. She stole a look at the men.
The scarred guy was looking back at her, fucking her with his gaze, while his longer-haired twin berated him with an angry scowl furrowing his brows. Mara could guess what they were fighting about now. She angled her crossed legs higher, revealing more toned thigh, and draped her arm along the back of the tall chair, exposing her generous breasts. She stared at the bottles lining the wall behind the counter, licked her lips with lazy confidence, and waited some more. Unfortunately, the wait began to feel less predatory agent-in-waiting, and more flat-out sexual anticipation. The Molten Blue sizzled down her throat.
She felt them before she saw them, two hot bodies bracketing her on either side. Standing as tall as she did, she appreciated large men. The scarred captain slid onto the stool on her left.
His shaggy-haired mate asked permission. "Is this seat taken?"
She inclined her head. "Please, sit."
The very vibration of the air changed with their commanding presences surrounding her. Her nipples tingled and her sex clenched in response to their proximity. Mara sat up straighter on her stool, squeezing her thighs tight.
Double your fun.
All right. A closer visual scan confirmed these were her subjects. In their traditional flight jackets with tough gray canvas pants below, they certainly would be the subject of some memories when she was alone, again, in her own bunk. Time to get them outside.
She took a sip of one of the drinks waiting in front of her before turning to the longer-haired man, the one who'd bothered to ask before sitting down. "You probably get tired of hearing this, but you and your twin are extremely identical."
"Yeah, you're right. We do get tired of hearing that," the scarred one answered bluntly.
Mara could see him from the corner of her eye, leaning forward over his crossed arms on top of the bar, jockeying for her attention. He didn't like being ignored.
His reflection shrugged. "Inevitable. People are curious."
She glanced at the other. "Well, I don't want to be like everybody else so I'll drop the subject." But she truly was dying to know. Maybe it was her disappointment that made her poke at them. "You've probably spent your whole lives fending off questions about what it's like to be twins. I can imagine it would get annoying."
"You have no idea," Scar said.
"Thanks for the drinks, by the way." She took a deep, delicious pull. The chill against her tongue made her aware of their heat.
"Our pleasure." The shaggy handsome one dipped his head.
"Do you actually like those things?" The equally handsome one on her left gestured to her glass.
Eyeing the tall glasses, Mara was dismayed at the mostly empty state of all three. Unfortunately, she liked them too much. Luckily, she was only ten minutes from tagging and bagging the sexy duplicates.
She ignored his question and indicated the half-filled glass of amber-colored liquid in his hand. "What are you drinking?"
Without waiting for a reply, she lifted her finger to get the barkeep's attention. "Another round for my friends here."
"What's your name?" Scar asked.
"Mara Smith," she lied. Wouldn't do to have him somehow search up Agent Brannigan before he was in custody. "And who might you two gentlemen be?"
"Frederick," they answered in stereo.
The longer-haired one grimaced. "Red," he snapped. "Guess I'm stuck with the cute nickname. But then you have to go by Derrick."
"Damn it, Red--"
"No. We've been through this. Both of us use the nicks. It's my name, too."
Shaggy Red clenched his jaw, and the two shared such a heated look she wondered if she shouldn't get out of their way. It was hard to play with her straw and not stare in fascination at what they revealed through their bickering. How did they expect her to buy the "twins" line when they practically admitted to being the same person right in front of her? And why did two guys who were the same person come across as so very, fascinatingly different?
Taking a swig and pretending to commune with the taste, she turned to study Red. Mara examined the sexy waves of his thick dark brown hair. She liked the way it gleamed with rich russet highlights even in the bar's subdued lighting.
"Not really red, though, more of a deep auburn." She turned the subject to a less personal note, impatient with the game of social chitchat before she could seem ready for sex. After all, despite her ulterior motive, she was ready for them from her first view of wide shoulders above tight asses. "What do you do for a living?"
"Interplanetary traders," Derrick replied. "You need transport--We carry."
"We're only docked here for the night. We'll be leaving by dawn." Red leaned on one elbow and regarded her with solemn dark eyes. "It's hard to make new friends when we spend so little time in any one place."
It sounded like a wanderer's pickup line, but Mara believed he was sincere. There was a wistful tone in his voice and his eyes didn't lie in their regret. That he happened to stab right into her cavernous discontent was eerie.
"A person can live somewhere all their life and find it just as difficult to make a connection." She wasn't sure if she was playing him or telling the truth--a hazard of her occupation when lies were best mixed with reality. The second real Molten Icecap was making it hard to tell the difference, but it felt like the truth.
Red's eyes drew her in, wrapping her in understanding that made her dizzy.
Laughing at herself, Mara turned to Derrick, who watched her with a more predatory gaze. The dizziness morphed into trembling thighs. His eyes were just as honest. They said, "Sex. Now."
Double your pleasure.
"What about you?" she asked. "Ever get tired of traveling?"
He shrugged. "Sometimes, but I couldn't imagine doing anything else besides captaining my ship."
"Our ship," Red interrupted.
Wow, they couldn't contain their hostility for a moment. "Moving around works for me. Couldn't settle into one little corner of the universe." She licked her lips when Red's gaze swung to her and softened. The lines at the corner of his dark eyes were really nice. "If you get tired of floating the black, you could always go back to your relatives, start something new." Even though the thought of doing so herself left her with hives. Move in with Mom, Aunty, and Gram with their mechanic business? She shivered. They'd kill each other within an orbit.
Red answered her question. "My mom died a while ago and my dad was never really part of the picture. Can't say I'm close to any relatives."
"Except your brother," Mara suggested.
She nodded, amused and fighting not to show it. She wanted to settle in and enjoy these two all night. They were awesome eye candy and intriguing people. The urge set off alarm bells in her, and she wondered how she could maneuver her quarry out the door. Move along, horny agent lonely lips. She didn't need any more convincing that Derrick and Red were the Captains Frederick Ravenscraft she sought. But right now her brain was a little iced over from too much blue slushy. What she'd needed tonight was not a mission, but some much deserved R and R. How long had it been since she'd simply relaxed and enjoyed herself?
Double your fun with double good, double fresh, double strong cum.
"What about you?" Red asked.
"Excuse me?" Her mind boomeranged back from the ridiculous place it had gone.
"What do you do for a living? You sure as hell don't look like you come from around here."
"A local told me where to go for fun on this moon. I travel, too. My job takes me all over. I guess you could say I'm a troubleshooter for my company." No need to mention that her company was the Unified Galactic Agency, or that her troubleshooting was not exactly of a corporate nature. In fact, it was often her literal job.
"So you're only stopping here for a night, too?" Derrick's question was innocent enough, but his tone was saturated with sex and his intent couldn't have been clearer.
Red shot him a glare before returning his attention to Mara. "Ignore my, uh, brother. Subtlety isn't his strong suit."
"Not mine either," she said. "When ships pass in the night, there's not always time for more than a callout from either deck." She looked directly into his eyes with amorous invitation then swung her gaze to Derrick. "Sometimes you have to throw a line fast if you're going to do it at all." She was a good agent. But this time, it wasn't her skill with lies that made the words sound so good.
She abruptly wished the banter was real. That she wasn't going to go out in the lot with both Captain Fredericks and cart them off to the waiting science facility. It wasn't just that she was tired, and they were hot. They seemed like interesting guys she might like to get to know, even after the sheets had cooled. There was a connection here, and it really sucked she couldn't explore it with her tongue.
Derrick bent toward her, his mouth only inches from hers. She could smell the whiskey on his breath, malted and mellow compared to the sizzling drinks she'd been downing. "I'd be happy to toss you a line right now, sweetheart, if you're ready to catch it."
He leaned closer, bridging the distance between them and his hot mouth settled over hers. Mara automatically closed her eyes and yielded to the pressure of his kiss. This was what she'd been longing for since before she'd walked into the bar tonight. If she were honest, this touch had ignited the first time she'd opened their file and seen the sexy pair she was supposed to apprehend. This was the rest and recreation she'd been denied by her superiors for too long as they'd sent her crisscrossing the galaxy on one assignment after another.
She tilted her head, parted her lips and slipped her tongue out to meet Derrick's. His warm hand cupped her jaw and his long fingers curved around the back of her neck. For a moment, Mara was lost in the kiss. The bar, the counterpart and the assignment were all forgotten as her mouth melted and burned.
"Hey." An annoyed growl interrupted her blissful floating.
Derrick's thumb rubbed her throat in a firm, nearly possessive sweep before he let her go. She opened her eyes, only to find that his were closed. She turned to face the other Ravenscraft.
"You have other options, lovely Mara of the lovely black dress." Red swooped in to take up where his partner had left off, kissing her out of her senses. It wasn't far to go. Between the drinks and her banked libido, Mara wanted to be driven. She would resume her professional demeanor when they were outside, but for now, she'd indulge in some harmless kissing.
Or not so harmless. Her body overreacted to the sensuous caress of Red's mouth. If her skin had felt mildly feverish before, it now seemed like a forest fire was blazing across her flesh. She curled her hand over his broad shoulder and held on as he plundered her mouth with his. The lips felt similar. He even tasted similar, but he wasn't kissing the same. Where the other had been a confident taking, this kiss had desperation underneath, a need she recognized.
Her pussy clenched and released in rhythmic spasms and her nipples pressed hard and sharp against her dress as if they'd cut through the material to get out. She moaned quietly and opened her mouth wider, accepting Red's plunging tongue, eager to ease him.
"Enough. This is bullshit." Derrick's voice interrupted her this time, breaking her from her trance of lust. Mara pulled away from the clone's arms around her back and blinked as she sat up straight.
"What's it going to be?" Derrick demanded. "Me?"
"Or me?" Red offered, smirking with confidence that she'd choose him.
Mara looked back and forth between them, taking in every detail of the identical faces: the long, aquiline noses, the unruly locks curling over their foreheads, the high cheekbones, firm chins and full mouths that kissed so well. Their eyes were dark and narrow, heavily lashed, with life lines fanning from their corners. She briefly scanned their broad shoulders and lanky bodies, each a perfect mirror image of the other except for Derrick's blue undershirt and Red's black. She imagined their large hands touching and stroking her all over.
"Both." She was as breathless as if she'd run the light-years from Bonmim to Rasedule and back again. "I choose both. But we should go someplace a little more private." If only. Her pussy squeezed with outrage over her lie.
Both men were off their stools in a shot.
"Where did you have in mind?"
"Our ship is parked outside."
"Or maybe you were thinking of your hotel room?"
"Whichever you prefer."
Given their clear hostility to each other, she'd half expected more contention over the idea of sharing her, but in less than two minutes, the two men were escorting her to the door.
The bar was built in a cul-de-sac, intended to appear like a primitive rural outpost. In front was an open "field" in which both land and air vehicles were haphazardly parked. The ground was dyed green, and had a comfortable sponge-synth that gave beneath weight, supposedly like dirt. All around the little field, decorative metal grass clusters hid powerslides, and tall blue-shining metal buildings loomed.
Bonmim was a successful moon, with a warren of streets on multiple levels. This level was not one of the more prosperous, although the cute repro was obviously trying. Mara had been hard-pressed to track the Ravenscrafts here. Only when she happened to scan an update from Bonmim's beat police on a Watch and Warn about combative identical twins asked to leave another tavern had she found the right area. She'd cruised the local bars questioning people, and eventually found the right bar. Unfortunately for them, tall, muscular twins were unique.
Now here she was, seconds away from fulfilling her duty. She had to handle this carefully. The men weren't criminals, just non-responders to a required scientific summons. She would formally inform the duo of her intent to escort them to UGA headquarters, and only if they refused would she introduce force if necessary. In the meantime that meant no threat by firearm or taser, no slapping on of cuffs. But these guys weren't going to want to come with her. She had no doubt of that. The explaining part would have to come after the apprehension--which she wasn't supposed to call an arrest. Her double pleasure Captains hadn't actually done anything wrong, after all.
The atmo was warm, the air misted with blooming floral scent. Although the bar had played current, hip music on the interior, on the exterior they continued the charade with a recording of peeping and hissing that supposedly was a recording of birds and insects. Her spiked shoes combined with the synth-sponge flooring to put a deep, slow sway in her stride. Two large, hot men walked on either side of her and her heart pounded from desire as much as from anxiety at their impending arrest. Couldn't she take a minute...ok, just another few minutes to indulge in what any red-blooded woman wanted on a sultry summer evening such as this? If she kissed them, let them kiss her for a while, then presented her case, maybe she would be more likely to get the men to listen.
The pair was the product of a rare space anomaly, a glitch in the space-time continuum and had miraculously survived... duplicated. They required further study. Surely she could get Derrick and Red to understand what they owed to science. Perhaps there were applications to derive from their experience that might benefit the human race. And it wasn't even like the study would impact them in any significant way, despite their belligerent responses to the several summonses they'd been issued. Their adamant evasion to come in was quaint, and sexy in a rebellious, independent way, but also hopeless.
She came even with her rented ship and stopped walking. The men stopped too. Derrick's eyes were on her chest, and when she met Red's eyes, she had to hesitate. Her gut twisted to think of erasing his current warm appreciation with hurt and betrayal. It was ridiculous. She was ridiculous, worrying about the feelings of a scientific anomaly.
"Listen. I don't think I know you well enough to simply go off with you to your ship," she said. "What if we take a moment here and--"
"Hey, Ravenscraft!" A small man flanked by some hulking guys emerged from the shadow of a parked jet. The group formed a loose semi-circle around Mara and her quarry, blocking them from moving forward. She gritted her teeth. Was the entire universe conspiring against a girl getting a measly kiss?
The man in the dapper, old-fashioned suit jacket approached the captains. "I'm not happy with the state of the cargo you delivered. I'm going to need some recompense for the damages."
"Sorry," Red said. "You'll have to take that up with your seller."
Derrick glared at the disgruntled man. "We off-loaded the shipment in the same condition as it was loaded into our hold. We're not responsible for any errors in content or quality. Like he said, take it up with your supplier."
"He's not here. You are." The man didn't move but his flunkies shifted menacingly forward. "So how about I collect from you and you see if you can get Flunderson to reimburse you later?"
"Not going to happen." Derrick moved closer to Red, the pair of them squaring up to fight. They automatically stepped in front of Mara, shielding her from potential danger.
If you only knew, she thought. But this was their situation, not hers. She'd keep her weapon holstered and let them deal with this state of affairs in their own way. As long as it looked like the hulking five wouldn't damage her merchandise. She faded back a step and felt the cold metal of her starcoaster behind her.
"What are you going to do to stop me?" the man demanded. "Go to the law? I don't think so. I hear tell you been the subject of some invitations you been dodging."
"Don't need the law. We'll handle this ourselves."
Mara wasn't sure which Ravenscraft was speaking since their backs were to her and the timbre of their deep voices was the same. With two against five, the words sounded like a boast, but she guessed they could handle themselves in a fight even when outmatched.
"No need for violence. Just pay me and you and your lady friend can be on your way." The dapper man's voice was as slick as oil.
"No way," one of the Fredericks said.
Mara's gaze flicked from one of the bodyguards to another. Her fingers itched to draw her weapon, but no one else was going for firepower, which would trigger the Watch. Evidently they were going to handle this in the classic way, hand to hand, because one bull-shouldered monster lumbered toward Red and clocked him across the jaw, snapping his head to the side.
All of the flunkies surged forward then and the two captains stood back to back, taking them on. Derrick ducked a blow and drove his shoulder into his opponent's gut, knocking him backward. Red swept out a booted foot and took his attacker's legs out from under him. Spinning around, he punched another bodyguard in the nose. Blood gushed from the man's shattered face.
Impressive. They didn't seem to need help. Mara stood beside the tiny blue ship with her hands loose and ready by her sides--just in case. The "just in case" came at her fast. One of the four bodyguards ran past Derrick when he stepped aside. Momentum carried him right at Mara. He barreled toward her. Falling away, she grabbed the back of his jacket to help him past her. His head sent a sonorous BONG across the field as it bounced off the coaster. He staggered, stunned. She brought up her knee into his crotch. As he bent over, she chopped her joined fists down on the back of his neck, sending him to the ground. He writhed at her feet, groaning, and she kicked him in the throat to ensure he'd stay down.
"Mara!" Red had noticed her danger and looked toward her, but his lack of focus was a mistake. The moustached, burly guy landed a flurry of blows that drove Red to his knees.
Meanwhile, Derrick was beating on the tow-headed man in the too-small jacket. But even with one of the goons still gasping for breath on the ground with the imprint of her shoe in his neck, the odds of this combat were a bit lopsided--four against two.
She couldn't stand watching Red get hammered anymore. Mara darted forward to help him out from under the two slabs of flesh that were pounding him. She whipped off the thin, gold belt that accented her waist and wrapped it around Moustache's neck. She had to ride the mountainous man, knees digging into his waist, in order to reach his throat and pull the belt tight.
Her chokehold made him abandon pummeling Red to struggle with the garrote cutting into his windpipe. He flailed out with one arm in an attempt to get Mara off his back, but his grip gouging into her thigh couldn't loosen her hold. The man staggered and stumbled backward. Mara knew what he was doing an instant before it happened. He slammed her into the nearest vehicle, smashing her body against the metal side of a skyrover. BONG! Now it was her turn to be the bell.
Her ribs compressed and she gasped for breath. He pressed her harder, squeezing her with his greater weight. She wouldn't let go of the gold cord that was cutting into his throat. Almost... Moustache wheezed and gurgled. With his last bit of strength, he slammed Mara into the vehicle again.
Her neck snapped back and her head hit a sharp corner of the cruiser. Lights strobed in her vision as a bolt of pain shot through her. Then everything went dark.
Mara drifted into consciousness through a gray fog. Her head ached and her ribs were sore. Hell, she hated old fashioned fighting. Give a girl a distance weapon any day. She opened her eyes to stare at the two blobs suspended above her. It took a few seconds to focus enough to recognize features and identify them as faces. Derrick and Red Ravenscraft were gazing down at her. And they were arguing again.
"I think we should take her to a doctor," Red said.
"Are you crazy? We can't go back to Bonmim. She'll be okay until we make our next stop. The med unit said only a mild concussion and bruises."
"She wouldn't have been injured if it weren't for us. We need to make sure she's all right."
"And we will. Just as soon as we land on Delteila."
"What happened?" Mara weakly demanded, although the answer seemed quite clear. One glance told her they were on board a ship and from the thrum of the engine they were in motion. This would be their trader, a nightcrater suited for solo flights.
"Sorry, we're not kidnapping you, but we had to get away from Lattimer and his men. They probably won't follow us out of Quadrant Eleven airspace, but we need to keep moving and can't take you back." Derrick touched the side of her face, a soft stroke of his fingers that almost made her forget her throbbing head.
"Why don't you go to the authorities if he's trying to make you pay something you don't owe?" She tried to sit and her head spun.
Red rubbed a welt on his cheek. "The goods weren't exactly something we could move through customs. A little illegal, but nothing like drugs or arms. We don't do that."
Derrick added, "Red, you got a damn big mouth. There was no reason to tell her that. You'll make us out to be contraband runners and we aren't... Usually. It's just that lately there's an annoying warrant on us for questioning, and it's been making it tough to get legit jobs."
He helped her sit, supporting her shoulders, while Red offered her a bottle of power water. Mara guzzled the enzyme-infused fluid and started to feel better almost immediately.
"Guys," she moaned. Oh man, when the other agents heard she'd been whisked away by her marks, she'd never live it down. "I have an agenda. I can't simply go pleasure riding with you two till we reach the nearest planet." Oh, how she regretted her choice of words the second they were out of her mouth.
Derrick smirked, the double meaning not lost on him.
Red chose to ignore her unfortunate phrasing. "We're sorry. It can't be helped, but we'll pay to send you back to Bonmim as soon as we dock. It's only a day jump."
But meanwhile I'm on your turf. She could just imagine trying to explain herself and apprehending them here on their own ship.
Let me reintroduce myself. I'm Special Agent Mara Brannigan and I've tracked you down to bring you to the Unified Galactic Agency so they can study your anomaly. Be good citizens, Captains Ravenscraft. Want to come along without a fight?
Her stomach curdled. No. She didn't want to humiliate them like that. Red's confession aside, they weren't criminals, and the UGA was asking for an intrusive study that must seem suspicious to them.
Oh yes, her mission had just become surprisingly more complicated--she glanced from one man's handsome face to the other--and more intriguing.