(SPACE PIRATES 2)
Fallon has spent the last ten years working as a smuggler on Captain Hawk’s crew. The last person he expects to run into at a bar in the middle of Jarvis Prime is the one woman who got away, the only woman he ever loved and abandoned…Dora of Petron.
When Dora bet her crewmen that she could rope the horned man on the barstool, she had no idea he’d turn out to be the merchant boy she once loved. It’s been ten years since Fallon swore he’d come back for her. Ten years of heartache that Dora thought was behind her—until Fallon kidnaps her and bares his soul after one night of shattering bliss. Now he’s telling her that this time she has to walk away.
Well Dora’s got news for Fallon, she’s no longer the lovesick teen he abandoned all those years ago. She’s a grown woman who knows that sometimes you have to cross a universe to get a second chance at love.
Sometimes you just need to get drunk and fuck an android.
Fallon planned to do both as soon as the ship docked. For now, he stood on the observation deck of the Nix, staring at the misshapen blue bubble floating in the middle of the Jarvis Prime galaxy.
From this distance, the lights inside the bubble looked like all the other stars around it, but this was no star. Even from here, he could tell it was the Terraless Firma Weigh Station. The floating bastion of neon debauchery that perched on the remains of an exploded planet was as close to a home away from the ship as he got these days.
He stroked his horns and a tingle rushed through his body. Fallon couldn’t wait to hit the bars and Moxy’s Companion House. Her artificial humanoids could pass for the real thing, especially for a man suffering a dry spell. And if Fallon went any longer without female companionship, his genitals would turn to dust.
Fallon headed to the main deck and took his position at the controls. Captain Hawk sat in the center of the room. The flight crew fanned out around him in front of the various control panels, each focusing on the job that needed to be done.
As they neared the station, its jagged metal buildings and tiny, light-filled tentacles attached to fueling pods came into view. Neon signs pointed out gaming facilities, overnight accommodations, and an intergalactic shuttle stop—with daily service. All the things a legitimate space traveler might need. But it was the dark side of the station that Fallon was interested in. The side with only a few signs and very little light. His body tightened in anticipation.
“Pull her in slowly,” Hawk ordered.
“Aye, Captain.” Fallon guided the ship toward the closest tentacle, until the Nix floated parallel to an empty refueling pod. The ship jerked against the gravitational tug, letting Fallon know it was safe to power down. “Last one to the bay buys the first round.”
Feet pounded the floor as twenty-eight of the thirty member crew wound their way down the smooth metal corridors, through the ever-tightening concentric circles that led to the cargo bay. Some cheated by taking the secret passages that were littered throughout the ship. Others headed to the transport cylinders.
Once in the cargo bay, crewmembers piled into what looked like cells. As soon as the last man stepped inside, the doors closed and part of the interlocking ship broke away from the main vessel and became a shuttle.
Three hours later, Fallon found himself seated at a bar, sipping on a drink and listening to the latest mix of space noise thumping in the background. The quips, pops, and quarks were followed by a soft bang.
He cocked his head. Impressive, he thought. Someone had managed to make a decent recording of a sun exploding. He tapped along, trying to lose himself in the music, grateful to be listening to something other than the constant yowling from the two cats in heat he’d been subjected to onboard ship.
Dressed in black leather pants and a tight flight shirt, Captain Hawk sat in the corner of the watering hole with Opal draped across his lap. She gently stroked Hawk’s long dark braids with her claws and nuzzled his light blue neck. The Phantom Warrior female shifter, who only a few months ago had been living on Planet Zaron, now held the position of Hawk’s mate. Fallon was still Hawk’s First on the ship, but he was under no illusion who really occupied the spot under the captain.
He stared at Opal. In the low lighting, the lithe female with short, dark hair looked fragile, but in this case appearances were deceptive. She was a skilled warrior, who at one time had been tasked with protecting Hades, the Phantom King. You didn’t get a job like that unless you were lethal.
Opal’s purr rose above the music to match Hawk’s. The sound made Fallon’s horns bristle. Things onboard the Nix hadn’t been the same since the captain found his mate. It had become downright…boring. Worse yet, they’d gone legit. No more slaving and no more smuggling.
Fallon didn’t miss slaving, since it was often more trouble than it was worth, but he did miss the thrill that came from smuggling.
He didn’t begrudge Hawk his happiness, but it sure put a dent in their business. They hadn’t picked up a single cargo since Opal came aboard. Fallon seemed to be the only one worried about the change in their leader. The rest of the crew remained unfazed or perhaps they’d simply accepted the change and mentally moved on.
Without the constant excitement, it became harder and harder to ignore the dissatisfaction growing inside him and the real reasons behind it. His gaze slid back to the blue liquor in his glass. Fallon picked up his drink and swirled the fluid around.
Behind him, Reaper and Mars played a game of toss the whirl. A loud curse disrupted the steady sound of the whirl’s suckered feet hitting the target wall. Fallon turned in time to see a tiny gray creature take off across the floor and scamper under a table. Mars was right on the whirl’s thorny tail, but didn’t reach the low-slung table in time. He cursed again, showing off his skill for languages, and garnered the attention of the restkeep running the place.
“If it gets away, you’re paying for it.” The restkeep’s hard gaze glided to the far side of the room where a Gormo sat munching on something with eight legs. “If he eats my whirl, it’s going to cost you double.”
Fallon chuckled. He didn’t think Mars would let the whirl get away. The man was used to wrangling small creatures. He’d had a familiar named Echo for as long as Fallon could recall. As the thought passed through his mind, Echo’s tiny wedge-shaped head popped up from one of Mars’s many coat pockets.
The mischievous creature had a mixture of yellow feathers and fur, along with startling, beady red eyes that glowed depending on its mood. The color of it clashed wildly with Mars’s onyx skin, but neither seemed to mind.
Mars reached down without looking and gently pushed Echo’s head back into his pocket. It let out a loud displeased squeak, then quieted down. “Don’t get any ideas,” Mars muttered.
With the excitement over, Fallon went back to his drink. He’d no sooner taken a sip, when a loud whoop came from the entrance of the cantina. For a moment, he thought it might be in reaction to the whirl’s unexpected presence, but the sound was quickly followed by a hearty laugh that had Fallon’s shoulders stiffening.
Memories of another time, another place flooded him. Memories he’d tried very hard to forget. The laugh came again—this time louder. His heart stuttered in his chest. How many years had it been? Eight? Ten?
Fallon took a deep breath and swiveled on his stool. His gaze locked on the dark-haired woman, surrounded by four burly space officers. It wasn’t possible… Yet, there was something familiar about the woman other than her laugh. She had the same pointed chin and full lips that he remembered. Fallon had spent enough time kissing them to know. His gaze swept her from head to foot and his breath caught.
There was more of her now than there had been when he’d known her. And that more had Fallon’s mouth watering.
Wide hips and large breasts replaced the boney body he recalled. The body he knew so well, but hadn’t had a chance to fully explore. She’d always had a narrow waist, but her thighs were fuller. Perfect for gripping a man.
When they were teens, they used to joke about being able to look eye to eye, but these days the top of her head barely came to his shoulders.
Dora of Petron…
Was it really her? What were the chances that his rebellious little dreamer would show up here of all places? Ten years faded in a blink. Fallon forgot all about being a genetically enhanced smuggler, forgot about being the son of a wealthy merchant.
In his mind, he was the boy who’d dreamed about designing holographic gardens. The boy that he’d been on that dirt-well planet of Petron, staring at the girl whose braids he used to tug. The girl who he swore he’d come back for. The only girl that he’d ever loved. The girl he’d abandoned.
The thick plaits of hair that dropped to her waist were long gone. Fallon could still feel the soft texture sliding through his fingertips. The dark strands had always glowed under sunlight, giving Dora an ethereal appearance. As if the Goddess herself had kissed her head.
Fallon missed the braids, missed the girl.
This woman wore her hair loose, just a little past shoulder length. Better to tangle his fists in, when he took her. And there was no doubt that Fallon wanted her, even if she wasn’t Dora of Petron. She looked enough like her to let him pretend for a few hours.
Sharp gray eyes surveyed the room with one glance before swinging back to him. There was no recognition on her face. Why would there be after all these years?
Bitterness welled in his mouth and his head dropped. He closed his eyes and rubbed the back of his neck. He was wrong. It wasn’t her. Dora would know him. To believe otherwise would mean that he’d meant nothing to her and that was something Fallon couldn’t face. It wasn’t his Dora. Just someone who looked a little like her.
He took a deep breath, then grabbed his drink and downed half of it. The liquid burned his throat. Fallon welcomed the pain.
The woman’s eyes narrowed as her gaze locked on the horns that curved around his head—horns that had been barely coming in when he’d known the girl. She elbowed the man next to her. He leaned in close. Too close. And whispered in her ear.
The familiarity of the move brought on a maelstrom of unexpected fury. Just who was he? And how well did they know each other? Fallon was shocked by the swell of emotion. He would have thought that after ten years he would’ve moved beyond such things. Yet, he had the overwhelming need to gore a stranger with his horns.
The man said something else and the woman giggled. That laugh wrapped around Fallon and refused to let him go. Only one person he knew laughed like that…Dora. What he failed to recall was that the only time she did so was when she was up to no good.
“Twenty credits says I can rope that one.” She nodded in Fallon’s direction.
Fallon glanced behind him to see who she referred to, but there was no one there. Surely she didn’t mean him. Not his shy and unassuming Dora. Fallon turned back in time to see a rope coming for his head, a rope that looked familiar. He was so shocked that he didn’t even react.
The rope settled around his horns. The woman yanked hard, pulling him off his stool. Fallon fell to his knees. She was on him in a blink, looping the rope around his horns, then snatching up his feet. Within seconds, she had him trussed…and more turned on than he’d been in years.