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by Kris Norris
Category: Erotica/Erotic Science Fiction/Science Fiction
Description: Two cultures--one dusty planet. Intergalactic relations have never been so hot. Starship Captain Samantha Grier has only two options--crash land her warship on an unknown planet inhabited by God knows what, or drift through space. She never counted on becoming part of a colony of barbarians, or becoming the center of attention for their illustrious leader?a man more than capable of claiming both her heart and her body. Too bad not everyone is thrilled by the new sleeping arrangements. Griffin can't believe his good fortune. Not only did the humans arrive just as their power grid was failing, but their Captain is a vision of beauty. With blue eyes and fair skin, he knows instantly that she's his intended mate. But claiming her is the easy part. When brutal attacks bring the two cultures to the brink of war, will he be able to keep the colony together, while maintaining his role as her mate? Or will the tension leave them worlds apart?
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC/Resplendence Publishing, LLC, 2010 2010
Filament eBookStore Release Date: August 2010
30 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [264 KB]
Reading time: 176-247 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
"That last hit compromised the plasma conduits. If we don't eject the core soon, the whole ship's going to blow." Caleb James bounced off a console as another explosion rocked the bridge. "Damn it. We just lost the starboard engine."
"How much time left?" asked Sam Grier, bracing against a chair as the ship rolled on its side.
"I can give you fifteen minutes, but only if I reroute the power to the containment shield. Even then, it's going to be dicey. The explosion from Gorgan's ship destroyed half of the navigational controls, and all of the escape pods are fused into the launch shafts." Caleb looked back over his shoulder. "Now would be a great time for one of those hare-brained schemes of yours, Samantha."
Sam winced. Caleb only called her Samantha when her impetuous nature had gotten them into trouble. The situation must be as grim as she feared. She struggled over to the sensor array, kicking debris out of her way. They'd lost over a hundred crewmen in the last two days, and it looked as if their luck was finally up.
"All interstellar communications are off line," snapped Caleb. "There's no way I can send out a distress call."
"No one's coming, Caleb. This was a covert mission, and the fleet won't risk prosecution to save our asses. That's why we got sent out here--we're dispensable. We'll be lucky if a bloody salvage ship ventures this way in the next few years. Our only hope is to find somewhere remotely habitable."
"Great. Just fucking great." He cursed when steam vented from a ceiling panel. "Thirteen minutes."
Sam sighed--Caleb wasn't helping. "We've lost the main sensor array. I can't scan the system for viable planets. I'll try to search for thermal levels."
"I knew nothing good was going to come from this assignment." Caleb fisted the panel. "Sometimes I really hate this job."
"Wait. I think I've got something." Sam rerouted the image to the main viewer. "Look. There's a planet in the Delta sector showing similar heat patterns to ours." She punched more keys. "DNA sensing predicts life forms with ninety-eight percent compatibility."
Caleb snorted and turned to face her. "Chimpanzees have the same percentage, but that doesn't mean I want to land on a planet ruled by them."
"Well, if we had a choice, we could afford to be picky. But since we don't..." She palmed her hands on her hips. It was a blatant female gesture, but she didn't care. She was the only senior officer still breathing, and somehow trying to be one of the guys didn't seem that important right now. Hell, if he didn't like it, he could kiss her ass.
She smiled at the thought. Like any one of the men on this ship would be caught dead kissing her ass. "Mark a course, full impulse power, while we still have it. We'll jettison the core just before we enter the atmosphere."
"You want me to glide this thing in with no engines and only a few stabilizers for control?" asked Caleb, staring at her as if she'd just sprouted another head. "This isn't a trainer, Sam. It's a bloody warship!"
"It's either that, or the core explodes on impact."
Caleb growled. "I was only joking about the hare-brained scheme."
"Trust me. This is pretty tame compared to my next suggestion."
Caleb waved a hand at her. "Don't even try." He nodded at the planet growing larger on the viewer. "I suggest you hold on tight to something. This isn't going to be pretty."
* * * *
Samantha groaned, regaining consciousness just as the panel beside her erupted into flames, spewing sparks across the room. She winced and tried to cover her head but couldn't move her left arm. She twisted, her breath hissing through clenched teeth as she stared at the large, metal cylinder punched through her shoulder, the battered end protruding several inches from her body.
"Sam? Damn it, where are you?"
"Caleb." Her voice cracked as her breath stalled. A new pain sizzled to life, constricting her lungs until she thought they'd burst through her chest. She'd cracked a rib. Several if the pain was any indication.
"God, damn." Caleb bent down over her, brushing her blood-spattered hair back from her face. "Can you move?" He flinched as more sparks filled the air. "We gotta leave before the whole ship blows."
Her voice keened into a cry as Caleb heaved her up, grinding her ribs together. Dark streaks swirled in the smoke, blurring her vision, as she stumbled across the floor, Caleb shouldering most of her weight.
"What about the others?" she coughed, trying to squint through the black plumes.
"We'll save as many as we can on the way out."
A cold fist settled in her heart as they battled their way through the ship. They helped those still breathing, forming a long, tattered line down the corridors. Sam did her best to carry her weight, but by the time they emerged through the cargo bay doors, she could barely feel her legs.
Caleb groaned, wiping the sweat from his brow. "Do they really need two suns? What the hell kind of life form lives in this heat?"
Sam looked up, but the unforgiving sky glared back in shades of red, beating down what hope she had of relief. Even the ground was blistered and cracked, billowing up clouds of dust as they staggered towards an outcrop of rock. Caleb had managed to keep the ship upright, but over half of it was buried beneath a desert of sand. The path of destruction trailed out behind them, disappearing over the edge of a ridge. It'd take weeks to salvage through the wreckage, but without some of their supplies, they'd have little chance of survival.
Sam stopped when they reached the rock, leaning against the stone in hopes of staying on her feet. Their trek through the bowels of the ship had shifted the rod, dripping blood down her chest. She nodded at Caleb when he shouldered up beside her.
"We need to find some shelter." She glanced at the remains of her crew scattered across the rock. "We'll never survive out here in this heat."
"You need to lay down. You're losing blood, and you look like hell."
She felt like hell. Black swirls rimmed her vision and it was getting harder to concentrate. "There're others worse off than me." She tried to smile, but only managed a low whimper. "Besides, there's not much you can do until we salvage some medical supplies."
Caleb's face paled and the lines around his mouth tightened. "It could be a while before we can get back inside the ship. Maybe..."
She waited, but he just stared off into the distance. For a moment, she wondered if her hearing was gone until she realized he was cursing under his breath. "What?"
He palmed the grip of his weapon as he motioned toward the horizon. "Looks like we've got company."
Sam turned and followed his stare. A large, dark blur shimmed across the sand, rippling the air as it moved. The troop was too far away to distinguish any details. But based on how they filled the landscape, it wasn't likely her crew would fare well in a battle, regardless of whether their weapons were more advanced or not.
"Fuck." She pushed herself up, biting back a groan as the knuckles of her broken bones rubbed together. "I was hoping we'd have a chance to regroup before the locals got curious. We must have crashed close to their settlement." She squinted to get a better view. "At least they look human. A bit on the big side, but human."
"Big? I doubt there's anyone among them under six feet." Caleb looked across his shoulder. "I'll rally the crew. We can--"
"Let's see what they want first," she interrupted, forcing her feet forward, kicking up dust as she staggered across the ground. "I'll meet and greet. You keep the men ... together."
"Samantha, you're in no condition to--"
"My decision. My risk." She gave Caleb the best smile she could muster. "Just be ready, either way."
Caleb scowled, but headed back to the men scattered along the rocks. Sam turned to the group stalking toward them and cursed. They weren't just big. They were massive. She could see enough of them now to distinguish both males and females in their ranks. But other than the obviously larger breasts on the females, it was hard to tell the two sexes apart. Both looked fierce and toned, their bulging muscles rippling beneath their tight clothing. She could tell by the way they moved, they were more than capable of handling themselves in battle, and the steel glint in their eyes left little hope of mercy.
One of the males signaled to the others, halting the group several yards away. He nodded to the female standing beside him and continued forward, his eyes locked on Sam. A shiver tingled down her spine, but it didn't feel like fear. There was something about the way he looked at her. It stole what little breath she had, and the world started to spin.
The massive man stopped a few feet away, his eyes roaming her body. She tried to dismiss it as an enemy measuring up his opponent, but that wasn't what she saw in his expression. He grunted something she couldn't make out and pointed at her shoulder.
She cursed as the world dipped again, threatening to drop her to the ground. She looked up when he repeated the words, taking a step closer. "I guess it's not my lucky day."
She chuckled when he tilted his head and stared at her as if he'd never seen a woman before. Of course, she was probably different than the females in his group, but he sure as hell looked all man. Hard chiseled features surrounded by long, flowing hair. His shoulders would've filled any doorway in the ship, and she could tell by the way they flexed when he shifted his weight they were for more than just show. His chest looked just as strong, the hard angles peeking out from beneath an open vest. She followed the line of ripples down to his waist, where his smooth skin disappeared beneath tight pants. And just lower...
Oh. My. God.
His pants bulged in all the right places and she couldn't help but admire the large one between his legs. He was definitely all man.
Sam sighed and forced her attention back to his face. He was still staring at her and the world rotated again when his gaze lingered on the vee of her thighs. Moisture she couldn't quite explain pooled between her legs, and she fought to suck a small gasp of blazing air into her lungs as she tried to remember what she'd started saying.
"I'm sorry," she said. "But I don't understand you. I don't suppose you speak English?"
The man gave her another long, slow gaze, this time focusing on the metal jutting out of shoulder. He took a deep breath, closing his eyes as if fascinated by her scent. The muscles in his jaw flexed and when he opened his eyes again, flicks of red danced amongst the grey, spiking the heat coursing through her. She clenched her jaw and forced herself not to flinch when he growled softly and stepped toward her, his tongue tracing a slow path across his lips. She tried to ignore the unexpected reaction of her body, praying the sudden beading of her nipples and the sharp clench in her pussy were all a result of the trauma she'd suffered. But as he stared into her eyes, she had the feeling she'd just walked willingly into the lion's den.
"I speak your language," he rasped, the low, gravelly tones flowing off his tongue like warm honey. "You're bleeding."
"It's not that bad," she lied. "But some of my crew didn't fare as well." She glanced up at the sky, but the red had washed into shades of grey. "And we won't last long in these conditions." She looked back at him. "Do you know a place we can go?"
He looked over her shoulder at the small gathering of men. "We have room in our colony for you and your crew, if that is your wish?"
"That's most generous of you. Thank you." She yelled back to Caleb, but when she turned to meet him, her legs buckled, knocking her to the ground. The spike jabbed through her back, and a warm wash of blood covered her skin.
"Samantha! Damn it, I told you not to move like that." Caleb was at her side, his hands pressed against her skin. "Slow breaths. Stay nice and still."
Another set of hands scooped her up followed by the hard press of muscles against her side.
"I'll take her. I can get her back to the colony faster than you. Get your people ready. We need to get everyone out of here before the sand beasts decide to brave this unholy heat on the chance you taste as good as you smell."
Caleb mumbled something, his voice fading into footsteps along the ridge. She managed to open her eyes long enough to catch a closer look at the man carrying her across the sand. His jaw was strong and smooth, and she had the sudden urge to taste it with her tongue. She took a quick breath, humming at the exotic nature of his scent. It was sweet and tangy, and filled her with a sudden feeling of euphoria. She smiled against his chest, loving how his muscles twitched at the gentle contact.
"I don't even know your name," she whispered.
He looked down at her as he picked up speed, dashing across the desert as if she were no heavier than a child. "My name is Griffin. And you are Samantha--an apparently stubborn female who doesn't seem to know when to back down. You should've been resting and allowed your friend to deal with me."
Sam tried to laugh, but only managed a soft moan. "My decision. My risk ... my crew." She shivered as a deep cold settled inside her, rivaled only by his sweet scent. "God you smell good," she rasped, pressing her head against his shoulder. "You make me feel..."
Her voice trailed off, but Griffin's husky growl told her he'd heard. She watched as he inhaled again and looked down at her, his expression more seductive than frightening.
"Thank you. You have a delicious scent about you as well. But that doesn't make you any less stubborn." He pulled her tighter against his chest, sharing his warmth. "Now save your strength. Because as soon as I think you're ready, I'll be tasting every inch of you, my dear, Samantha."