In pursuit of a serial killer, Confederation Ranger Lana Eloy is forced to land on the barbaric, male dominated world, of Ata Prime and endure the escort of Captain of the royal guard, Corin Thantos.
Lana tries hard to ignore the fact that what started out as a casual sexual encounter around the campfire had turned into something far more powerful. But with the killer still on the loose, would Corin prove to be a distraction that cost her her life?
Word Count: 23,289
Genre: Sci-Fi/ Futuristic Erotic Romance
Rating: Spicy/Erotica---detailed sex scenes including campfire sex and soapy sex
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, March 2014
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
Lana was ready to set out after Sadin as soon as she woke—in spirit. Physically, she realized as soon as she made her first trip across sickbay that she wasn’t in any condition to leave immediately. After a brief internal debate, she headed for her cabin, made use of the facilities to freshen up, and then collapsed on her bunk.
When the faintness had passed, she rolled onto her side and called up a display of the area and the files on Sadin. She was deeply immersed in sifting through the puzzle of where Sadin might have gone when Corin came looking for her some time later. Several minutes passed before she realized he hadn’t moved from the doorway.
As it slowly filtered through her mind, she pulled her attention from the files and glanced at him curiously. His expression was taut, his gaze fixed on the curling thatch of hair between her crossed thighs. As if he sensed her watching him, he dragged his gaze up her body. Their eyes locked for several moments before it dawned on Lana that Corin wasn’t accustomed to nudity.
Without a word, she rose from the bunk and moved to her locker. Removing a long, loose robe, she slipped into it and dropped onto her bunk once more. “I was trying to figure out where to look for Sadin.”
Corin frowned and moved closer, studying the display. After a moment, he moved to the end of the bunk so that he could see it correctly. Lana moved over and patted the bed. “It’ll be easier to see if you sit here beside me.”
He glanced down at her hand. Finally, almost reluctantly, he leaned his trident against the bulk head and settled on the bed beside her. Lana glanced at the wicked looking trident that was never far from his hands and shrugged mentally. It wasn’t a bad idea to be prepared. She doubted Sadin would attempt anything on their ground, but there was no sense in taking unnecessary risks. It was only through sheer luck that she’d managed to escape him with her life. She’d have felt better if she could’ve convinced herself it was her skill that had saved her, but she knew better.
She’d allowed herself to be distracted and it had almost cost her her life.
“He will have left Ata Prime,” Corin said after a moment, his voice sounding deep and husky.
Lana shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. I imagine he headed for his ship when he managed to elude us, but the first thing I did when I arrived was find his ship and disable it. Unless another ship has arrived since I did and he was able to either stowaway or steal it, he’s still here. And, if he’s still here, I’m thinking he’s tired of having me on his tail. He’s going to be trying to figure out a way to set a trap to get me out of his way permanently.”
Corin was silent for so long that she glanced at him questioningly. “The rangers would send another.”
“Yes, but by the time they did, his trail would be cold. It could take a long time for another ranger to present any sort of problem for him.”
Corin moved to the end of her bed and began discarding his armor. She watched him curiously for several moments and finally dismissed it. He didn’t need it at the moment and she doubted it was very comfortable.
“I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I feel that Sadin is still in the area, that he hasn’t gone far. I’m as sure as I’ve ever been about anything that he only went far enough to gain the time he needed to set a trap … which means we can only spring his trap, not set one of our own up.
“I think we’re going to have to split up.”
Corin turned to look at her in surprise. After a moment, he dropped the last of his armor on the floor and sprawled out on her bed on his side, propping his head in his hand. “You said it would be safer if we stayed together.”
“Safer, yes, but we won’t get the chance to spring his trap and come out of this alive if we do. It’s me he wants. You’re not a ranger and he knows all he has to do is leave Ata Prime and you won’t be a problem for him. With me, it’s different.”
“Will he not be suspicious?”
“Probably, but if we don’t give him a choice I think he’ll go for it anyway. Not that I intend to really split up. I only want to make it appear that we have. Your ability to communicate with the forest could be helpful. Is it strong enough that you could track me at a distance of say a quarter of a mile?”
Naturally enough, Corin wasn’t familiar with the measurement. After a short discussion, they settled on a distance they were both comfortable with. They worked out several simple signals and counter signals that they could use to identify themselves to one another, verbal and hand signals in case they were unable to use one or the other for any reason. “It’s important that we agree that we’ll use the signal and counter signal immediately. That way, if Sadin tries to mimic either one of us, he won’t be able to get close enough to attack before we realize it’s him.
“I’ll take the trail and check each cabin I come to. That way I’ll always be in plain sight. The only thing that worries me is that he managed to morph and elude you before in the forest.”
“It will not happen again.”
“We could be betting our lives on it,” Lana cautioned him.
Corin shook his head. “His scent does not change, whatever form he takes. The forest knows him now as the strange one.”
She studied him a moment and finally nodded. “Good then. We’re set. We’ll rendezvous at the nearest cabin at dusk each evening if we’ve had no luck with Sadin. I don’t mind camping on the ground if I have to, but I’d rather have shelter if it’s available. Agreed?”
“Agreed.” He tugged on her arm until she yielded and lay back against the bed, staring up at him. “And when we have captured this killer, you will return to your own people.”
It wasn’t a question. She couldn’t tell how he felt about it, however, whether he would be sorry to see her go, or relieved that he wouldn’t have to deal with a female so unlike those he was accustomed to. She didn’t want to examine her own feelings about it, but an unaccustomed sense of loss swept through her. She draped an arm across her eyes, clearing her throat of a sudden huskiness. “Yes. I’ll head back to HQ with him to turn him over for trial.”
“He has killed here on Ata Prime. Rex Pimetrius will want him tried here.”
Lana shrugged but dropped her arm to the bed, fixing him with a determined look. “I expect a lot of planets will be fighting over who gets to execute him. That’s not my problem. My job is to take him in. I hope you and I will not find ourselves on opposing sides once we’ve caught him … because I’ve been after him a lot longer, and I’m not about to let him slip through my fingers now.”
He smiled faintly. “You are so quick to challenge.”
She couldn’t tell whether it was a rebuke or not, but she suspected it was. “I’ve never seen that ignoring an issue helped me in any way.”
“I have no concern that you will not see that justice is done for all. I will find a way to satisfy Rex Pimetrius that will be satisfactory to you, as well.”
Relief surged through her. She knew Corin was a man of his word. She would do what she had to do, but she far preferred to think that she could part with him on good terms. “Good.”
She started to rise, but Corin met her half way, covering her mouth in a heated kiss that made desire curl in her belly. She felt more than well enough to indulge, but guilt pricked her, too. She had wasted enough time as it was, even though it wasn’t something she could’ve helped. She knew they should be on their way.
“We have things to do,” she murmured when he broke the kiss and began to chart a path down her throat.
“Yes, we do.”
Amusement touched her. “I meant work.”
She felt his lips curl against her skin. “This is work—very hard work. It requires concentration, stamina, self control—skills I am striving to master.”
Lana chuckled, dropping back on the bed and smiling up at him. “You’ve mastered them. Believe me.”
He shook his head. “I require much more training and practice—till morning, at least.”
Lana’s brows rose with interest. “It’s night?”
Desire and suppressed laughter gleamed in his eyes. “The sun has set.”
“That will require stamina,” she murmured. “All night?”
“Until one emerges victorious,” he promised, pushing her robe up her thighs and sampling the flesh he exposed with little nibbling bites and the stroke of his tongue.
Lana gasped as he reached her thighs and pushed them apart, nibbling along the keenly sensitive flesh of the inside of one thigh. “Sounds like a challenge,” she whispered huskily as he reached the apex of her thighs and his hot breath trickled through the thatch of curls that covered her mound.