Rogue's Run [Galactic Gunslingers] (Siren Publishing PolyAmour)
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by Lara Santiago
Description: [PolyAmour: Erotic Sci-Fi PolyAmour Romance, M/F/M, Multiple Partners Sharing, Futuristic] Abigail Deveronne thought the worst thing that had ever happened to her was marrying Myron Smedly, until she woke up next to his dead body. Her odious childhood guardian promptly sends her across the galaxy to a second marriage by proxy. On the way to her next marriage, the space craft she's on breaks down on Planet Delocia and the vile pilot insists she must obtain a repair component at the local Supply Hut. Abigail gets more than she bargained for when she traded "companionship" for a needed part to continue her journey. Transport captain, Jesse Pelland, journeying to his primary ship after a clandestine business meeting, crash lands on planet Delocia and ends up bound in matrimony to a sheltered, young widow with numerous secrets. But it's her almost hidden rebellious streak he can't wait to explore. A passionate bond develops on the trip to Abigail's home for new proxy documentation. Jesse explores the possibility of a relationship. Until they land and she's accused of murdering her first husband. [Erotic Sci-Fi PolyAmour Romance. Warning: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./PolyAmour, 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: May 2010
24 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [225 KB]
Reading time: 139-195 min.
* * * *
Abigail Deveronne had been convinced that marriage to Myron Smedly was the worst thing that could possibly happen, until she woke up next to his dead body.
Five days into a very unsatisfactory marriage arrangement with a man old enough to be her grandfather, Abigail ran like an evil entity chased her from the deplorable marriage bed she'd endured. Her destination, the only other home she'd ever known and current residence of her beloved aunt Eugenia, was not far away. Unfortunately, it also housed her former guardian, Pitney, the man who'd chosen Myron as her husband.
The crackling sound of the light orange grass poked angrily through her thin house slippers as she dashed madly through the pre-dawn morning to escape. She ran from a situation she fearfully acknowledged she'd prayed for more than once in the past five days.
Not for Myron's death, but for freedom from him.
Passing the large amethyst crystal rock formation marking the entrance path to her destination, Abigail kicked in some reserve strength, racing to the front door of her sanctuary.
Aunt Eugenia would know what to do. The vision of being enfolded in her aunt's comforting lemon verbena scented embrace empowered her to beat fists on the door until a servant finally opened it, but barred her entry. She was left on the doorstep to wait until the "master" could be fetched even though she specifically asked for her aunt.
Waiting impatiently, shifting from one foot to the other, she happened to glance over her shoulder noticing two of Segoha's three moons in the starry dark sky. The twin quarter crescent moons, one stacked on top of the other, didn't shed nearly enough light to keep her fright at bay.
Pitney came to the door wearing his usual black garments in the form of a robe. He always wore black, the predominant color of conservative clothing in their religious sect, but his usual neat appearance was marred. Hair askew, he had tufts of the graying mass standing up all over his head. "What is wrong with you, Abigail? Why are you beating on my door at this unholy hour?"
Abigail tried to speak, but instead started crying. Pitney released a long angry sounding sigh. After a moment, she managed to whisper, "Myron is dead."
Pitney's eyed widened. "What?"
"He's dead," she said it again and stepped forward to enter the house, but Pitney hadn't shifted in the doorframe. He still blocked her entrance.
Instead of moving to invite her inside, he closed his eyes as his teeth ground together hard enough to make a squeaking noise. "Go back home this instant."
Abigail sniffed in surprise. "But couldn't I see Aunt Eugenia for just a minute? Please?"
"No. Go back to your home and wait for me." He slammed the door in her face.
Abigail stared at the door in shock for one endless minute before shuffling off the porch. She'd hoped to be escorted from the cold doorstep and into the receiving room for comfort. When her parents had been alive, they always entertained guests in the receiving room whether the guests were welcome or not.
There was no comfort forthcoming from Pitney. Abigail wasn't surprised as she and her former guardian admittedly had never gotten along. Her persistent rebellious streak was the cause of much discord, according to Pitney.
Abigail sniffled, wiped her eyes on her robe sleeve and made her way back to Myron's house. This time she strolled instead of running as darkness still pervaded the early morning.
Once she stood before Myron's ramshackle little house, she couldn't bring herself to enter. Instead, she waited for Pitney on the broken down porch.
He arrived as dawn broke over the distant jagged mountains of her home planet Segoha.
Wearing his signature black robes with his hair combed hastily into place, Pitney stomped onto the porch. "What did you do to him, Abigail?" he shouted in a fury of accusation.
"Noth...nothing," she stuttered.
Pitney flung the front door open and strode into Myron's house as she followed with reluctance. She suppressed a shudder as she crossed over the threshold and into the formal living area. It was no surprise Pitney blamed her for this unfortunate event. She'd lived with his barely concealed tolerance of her existence since her parents died eight years before.
"I woke early to do my chores and he was not, not moving. I didn't know what to do so I ran to--"
"Yes, yes I know about that part. Running like a frightened child to my house. I simply don't know what you hoped to accomplish by dragging me into this. You should have thought things through, Abigail."
"But nothing. Hush and let me think. Why couldn't you have waited two more days?" Pitney asked the wall as he paced across the well-worn living room rug. Abigail didn't know if he spoke to her or not, so she remained silent. He acted as though he expected her to reside with a dead body for two days before reporting it. Not likely.
The fond memory of her loving parents was always tainted by their choice of her guardian. In the rigid canon of the Saints of Aria, women had a specific role to fulfill. According to Pitney, it was the way the holy writings intended men and women to live. Love played no part in marriage. To wed was solely for procreation and in order to accomplish this, love wasn't required.
Although, Abigail's mother had been at liberty to choose a husband she cared about, such was not her fate. Her mother and father shared a rare love match. However, Pitney had very harsh opinions regarding her parents' union.
Since she'd been old enough to understand what marriage was, Pitney preached endlessly his disapproval of love as a reason to wed so she rarely brought it up. He made it clear he would not allow Abigail the same freedom enjoyed by her mother.
Abigail glanced around the living room which had become her home a mere five days before. Myron's house was nowhere near as grand as the one she'd grown up in.
The depressing decor washed over her again in pathetic waves as it had the first time she'd seen it. The day she'd been married off to an old man. The day her dreams of love had died in her marriage bed.
She hadn't been allowed to make the house her own. If she'd had any say in the decor, she would have pitched everything inside out the front door.
Myron had grunted a few words of foolishness and folly over buying anything new when the threadbare rug and limp curtains remained, in his opinion, still serviceable. New furniture? A wasteful endeavor, best forget any notion of luxury. Abigail spent the first five days trying to come to grips with the new life thrust upon her.
Her new husband, Myron, was not a communicative man. For the most part, Abigail felt like a piece of the threadbare furniture waiting for him to gesture, or more likely grunt, his requirements. At least until dusk. Abigail dreaded bed time most of all.
Myron never spoke. Never kissed her. He merely reached for her in the darkness beneath the sheets, used her for a few minutes and rolled away snoring before a minute was gone. Every single time. Abigail shivered in memory of the past five days and nights.
"This is a disaster," Pitney muttered more to himself than to her, shaking Abigail from her miserable reverie. He paced for several more minutes before reaching into the deep recesses of his dark overcoat to procure a device. The square black box with buttons covering one side wasn't allowed as regular use by members of the Saints of Aria. Usually, a forum was called when an SOA member required communication with Outworlders. And even that was a rare occurrence for private citizens.
She knew about the device Pitney held from the lectures on evil in her discipline classes. He could contact other planets with it. She watched in abject fear as he proceeded to push several buttons hoping that if he got caught, she wouldn't be jailed for being in the same room.
Pitney spoke in low tones into the device, but Abigail heard several key words and phrases that did not bode well for her uncertain fate. She heard the words, "Raylia...proxy marriage document...dowry payment upon confirmation of signed papers..."
In the end, Pitney didn't even wait an hour before arranging her remarriage. Her next intended husband resided at the far edge of the Ksanthral system on a planet called Raylia where yet another Saints of Aria sect dwelled. Pitney spent mere minutes negotiating a quick contract, including a dowry for her next husband living across the far reaches of space.
Pitney turned to see her perched on the sofa as surprise registered across his stern features. He'd probably forgotten she wasn't a piece of furniture, too.
"Go to your room," he commanded.
Abigail surely blanched and shook her head. "But he's in there."
Pitney huffed. "Then go to the spare room. Just leave my presence." He turned away and pushed more buttons on the illegal black device.
Ten minutes later Abigail sat in the cheerless extra room as instructed and thought further about the unfairness of her life. The rebellious streak she harbored flared hotter and brighter the longer she sat immobile in this stifling little space. She stood suddenly unable to remain seated a second longer and took a step closer to the door. Without a plan fully thought through, she decided to leave even if only for a few minutes.
"Disobedient" was the only recognizable word circling in her brain.
Slipping out of the spare room against strict confinement orders was likely a punishable offence, but she didn't care.
Abigail made her way quietly to the formal dining area where the opened wedding gifts sat. Tradition, in their sect, dictated the abundant gifts would remain displayed until the first week of marriage had passed. Giddy elation at her current defiance gave her strength to move forward.
The well-known tradition was one she'd been informed of repeatedly by the sour female relatives of her intended, Myron. These were same sanctimonious biddies who'd readied her for her wedding night. Only they hadn't mentioned in any detail what she could expect on her honeymoon. They only said it was her duty to submit and that she should endure whatever came to pass in silence and dignity.
Dignity played no part of her wedding night and the only silence was hers. Thank the saints above, she bore that night all in complete darkness. It was easier to tolerate that which she could not see.
Her eyes were wide open now. Because the marriage to Myron hadn't lasted a full week, Pitney had the power to renegotiate another husband for her. She also suspected it was a way the stingy could recoup their wedding gifts if the marriage didn't last.
Tradition or not, Abigail decided she had earned one or two of the bounteous gifts for being introduced into the marriage bed by a loudly-grunting, smelly old man.
Standing at the edge of the dining area, Abigail listened for her guardian's voice. Watching the doorway, she pocketed a few valuable trinkets, hiding them in the deep folds of her gown as self justified repayment for the wedding night she'd endured and the following nights as well. The memory made her shiver in revulsion even now.
As a school girl she'd wondered about what went on between a man and a woman behind closed doors. At the age of sixteen, she'd gotten a forbidden glance first-hand of the sex act between the attractive stable hand and the woman who cooked her guardian's meals.
When Abigail grew older, she'd fantasized about that memory repeatedly. She hadn't thought she needed any explanation for her wedding night. However, after her experience with Myron, sex wasn't something she ever wanted to participate in again. Neither was another husband so soon after the first. Even as Pitney now contracted transportation for her new marriage. Myron's body hadn't even cooled. But as a woman in this world, her choices were limited to none. Her rebellious streak at an end, she decided not to anger her guardian further and crept back to the empty extra room.
Pitney strode into the spare room only seconds before she returned from the dining room.
"I've arranged for you to leave within the hour. You will go to Raylia and meet my representative, Mr. Jorge Smith. Then you'll present yourself before the Common Guild and a new husband will be selected for you. Try not to kill the next one off so quickly."
"Why do I have to leave the planet?"
He glowered at her, but she didn't look away. The rebellious streak reared and Abigail kept her gaze locked on his.
"Do you want to go to jail?" Pitney leaned forward. He towered over her as if to dissuade her from further argument.
Rebellion, still coursing hot and wild through her veins, kept her from being even the least bit daunted. "No. Why would I have to?"
Pitney's face froze into a mask of displeasure. He didn't speak for so long, she thought he might not answer. "Don't you think there will be questions as to why your husband died so suddenly?"
What? "I didn't do anything to him."
Pitney shrugged and a smug smile stretched across his thin lips. "So you say. But will you be believed?"
Abigail hadn't even considered she'd be blamed for his death. She'd heard lots of stories growing up about what sinful women did to their pious husbands and the punishments they suffered.
Ultimately, Pitney was correct. In a test of wills, she'd be blamed for any wrongdoing regarding Myron's death. But a worst thought occurred to her. "What about Aunt Eugenia?"
Pitney's smirk dissolved into puzzlement. "What about her?"
"Do I have time to say goodbye?" Abigail hated to beg him, but desperately needed to hug her aunt one last time before leaving the only world she'd ever known. "Please?"
Beastulio. The vile curse word flashed in her mind unbidden.
Abigail's lips tightened and her face screwed up as insolent thoughts of disobedience washed over her. Unfortunately, Pitney witnessed her defiant expression before she could hide it.
His eyes narrowed. "If you do not get yourself to Raylia post haste, I'll see to it that your precious Aunt Eugenia is placed in the most despicable elder house I can find. I'll be checking to ensure you arrive at Raylia in one month's time, or else you'll be responsible for her fate."
Abigail swallowed her anger in the face of her sweet simple Aunt being sent away from the only home she'd ever known and locked into a desolate place unfit even for rabid animals.
Modern technology did not interfere much with the ideology of the Saints of Aria. In the distant past their religion hadn't accepted machinery which could be operated without manual labor. Over the centuries little by little, some machinery became incorporated as the men required the ability to produce more than the strength of a single back alone could accomplish.
This philosophy translated to elder house facilities as well. The threadbare home she'd shared with Myron would be considered a palace compared to the finest elder house on Segoha.
"Please let her stay in your home. I'll go willingly to where you direct."
Pitney's self satisfied smirk did little to assure her, but she wasn't about to let Aunt Eugenia suffer if she could stop it.
A gleam in her eye, Abigail did send up one final prayer of spiteful attitude for Pitney. She fervently prayed he would one day be forced to spend his final days living in the very elder house he'd threatened her aunt with.
Pitney deserved it, her aunt did not.
* * * *
A furious woman was best avoided at all costs. Jesse Pelland recently learned this practical advice first hand from his ex-wife. Unfortunately, the angry female stranger currently in his path couldn't be dodged. She owed him money and Jesse needed the funds with a desperation he didn't want to amplify with hard feelings.
Eyes flashing her palpable wrath, Greta raged, "You reneged on our deal!"
"Did not." From across the small clearing on the furthest and most desolate moon circling planet Raylia, Jesse studied his patron and hoped to resolve this brewing conflict without bloodshed. Especially without any violence to his person.
Tired from his recent journey performing a task he hadn't enjoyed, Jesse dearly wanted to get back to his ship, Dragonfly. Beyond the fact that this remote part of the universe wasn't the safest place to be, Jesse was weary all the way to his bones and ready to get back home.
The short range shuttle craft he'd come to this rendezvous with was currently hidden a few kilometers away. But it wouldn't endure an intense scrutiny. Jesse didn't want to get stuck on this barren rock if anyone with theft on their mind discovered his hiding place.
Greta screeched and put Jesse's attention back where it belonged. Her fists clenched at her sides, she ground her teeth making a squeaky noise loud enough to be heard across the clearing. "But you didn't kill him."
Jesse shrugged. "Didn't need to."
Greta's hand came up and pointed a stiff glove-covered forefinger at his face. "I wanted him stopped."
"And he is."
Her face upturned to the sky briefly before dropping to level another fury-filled stare his way. "I wanted him dead. He deserved it. You know what he did." Spittle had collected at the corner of her thin-lipped mouth and distracted him for a moment in disgust.
Shaking off his unease, Jesse got serious. "Deserved or not, you didn't specify dead. You said stopped. And he is. I want the agreed upon bounty. Now."
"You're a coward," she spat out the accusation and took an angry step closer.
"No." Jesse pulled his Infiltrator revolver out slowly and pointed the large bore barrel at the ground. "I simply didn't add another perished soul or a murder to my already dark conscience. The job is done. Your target is finished in all matters that are important. Now pay up!"
The unhappy client glanced at the gun in his hand and deflated a little. Even though he currently had it set for "stun," Greta obviously understood the power of the weapon resting alongside his leg.
The other two settings were "maim" and "kill" and she couldn't tell where the firing mechanism was positioned. To rile him into pointing his gun at her was a foolish endeavor. She pushed out a deep breath either to calm down, or possibly in resignation, Jesse didn't know or care. He simply wanted to get paid.
Moments later she extracted a bundle from the pocket of her oversized skirts and threw the tan drawstring pouch overhand directly at his face. Jesse caught it easily in the palm not occupied cradling his weapon. He holstered the gun and pulled the drawstring cords open to study the gems inside. Poking his finger down into the bag to ascertain they were real, he grunted in satisfaction.
Perfect. He had his payment. Time to go.
Jesse lifted his head to say a sarcastic thank you very much, but the plain-faced woman in the endless layers of black Pilgrim skirts was already gone.
While Jesse had approached this meeting with all the enthusiasm of a criminal racing to his own execution, the way back to his space craft, Chaser, was a gleeful gambol. Like almost every habitable planet in this galaxy, there was little water and lots of space dust. He was thirsty, but didn't want to even take the short time to stop and take a swig from his canteen. Already late in returning from this compulsory mission, he longed have his life back.
Lola waited for her blood-money payment and she was not by nature a patient woman. It would be a miracle if she hadn't already ruined his meager financial gains or his business credit by now. He pressed on knowing he'd done the best he could given very limited choices. And he still had a long way back home.
While he'd made the journey to Raylia in good time, he didn't expect his return would be as fast. He'd pushed the limits of the small craft but hoped the Chaser would hang together long enough to return.
Once back on familiar ground and secured inside the small cabin of his short range shuttle craft, Jesse eased the priceless gun back into its precious case and swore, for a second time this century, he wouldn't ever retrieve it. At least not without due consideration.
He buckled himself into the pilot's seat of his shuttle and readied for take off to meet the Dragonfly waiting what seemed like half a parsec away. They weren't truly that far but the journey back would take a few days and given the limitations of his shuttle, it would seem much longer.
Stroking the console as it powered up and hoping the aging shuttle would make it safely back to the base ship, Jesse allowed his thoughts to slide into his past.
Fifteen years ago he'd worn the custom-made and government issued Infiltrator revolver weapon proudly. He protected his small fraction of celestial space as one of the universes most respected law enforcement division, the Galactic Gunmen. Promising to bring civil order to a universe gone wild, he worked hard to rid the lawless planets in the Ksanthral system of bad men. He'd worn his Galactic Gunmen badge with pride. During that time long ago, he'd been blatantly naive to presume that "might makes right." And ultimately foolish.
He learned the eventual truth, of absolute power corrupting absolutely, the hard way.
While he hadn't participated in the events that brought that doomed-from-the-start organization to its knees, he certainly lived with the consequences every day of his life thereafter.
Eleven years ago, after the GG Infiltrator revolvers had been banned from use or existence, Jesse decided quietly to keep his in a safe place for the uncertain future. By refusing to hand the weapon over, and insisting that he'd destroyed it to keep it out of the wrong hands, his punishment for protocol violation had been severe. It had taken him another eight years to scrape any kind of decent life together after forfeiting his pension for failure to surrender his "lost" weapon.
Those were the rules. He made his choice long ago. Now and again a stream of news would report the recovery of a previously unreturned Infiltrator revolver. They always made the mainstream news. The most powerful smart weapon ever conceived, the GG Infiltrator could scan a human mark as far away has half a click and regardless of where the muzzle was aimed, once fired, it would hit the specified target. Every. Single. Time.
Dangerous in the hands of the wrong kind of man. Tremendously dangerous in the hands of one thousand men not vetted for zealous psychotic enthusiasm.
The galactic unified government had procured and produced one thousand of the next generation weapons to bring a warring galaxy back from lawless chaos. Until several powerful members of the Galactic Gunmen carrying them had gotten out of control with the power hungry need to rule. The manufacturing plant had been destroyed by extremists the day after shipping the one thousandth revolver. They didn't seem so extreme when the truth about several criminals carrying the Infiltrators came to light.
The galaxy force condemned all of the Galactic Gunmen to unemployment. Something great became a threat of the worst kind and what they came to fear. In the end, the GG Infiltrator revolvers were summarily outlawed and the Galactic Gunmen were disbanded.
The last count of sophisticated Infiltrator weapons Jesse had heard bandied about was thirty five. Counting Jesse's weapon put the tally at thirty six. However, he suspected several more "lost" weapons hid in secret places out there somewhere waiting for discovery.
Jesse hoped no one ever found out about the sin of his youth, the prideful crime of keeping the most dangerous weapon ever made. He couldn't be the only one who'd done so. He spent a brief moment in reverie over his proudest achievement in being accepted as a Galactic Gunman and on its heels came his darkest moment when the whole fucking mess fell apart.
While he understood that might didn't make right, Jesse also knew that a fire should be fought with fire.
Thirty six reported missing or lost Infiltrator weapons were far too many still loose not to have a backup plan. Or, he thought with cynical amusement, the minimum ability to fight equally with the inferno of power the outlawed guns possessed.
He rechecked his instrumentation again, sent up a fervent wish into the universe that he'd make it back to the Dragonfly without incident and blasted off of Raylia's most distant moon.
An hour into his long flight, he realized that the universe wasn't currently answering any wishes and this was about to be a longer and more peril-filled journey than he'd planned.
* * * *
Planet Delocia Space Port, one month after departing Segoha
"The thing is, Miss Deveronne, I've got as much money as I need. What I don't have is access to regular feminine companionship, you understand."
Abigail took a deep breath to keep the distain from her tone as she spoke to the distorted screen of the vid-phone. "Mr. Horace, if you'll forgive my candor, I'm not looking to be anyone's companion--feminine or otherwise--and besides, as I explained, I don't have any money in my possession."
"If you think I'm giving up the accelerator module for Dooley's ship for free, you're crazy."
She sucked in a quick breath. "Of course not, but please allow me to continue my journey and I'll see that funds are sent directly once I arrive at Raylia."
"No. I get paid up front or no part."
"Please, Mr. Horace. I need to be on time to my destination." Aunt Eugenia's safety depends on my timely arrival to Raylia. The one month arrival limit in place to ensure her complete cooperation never left her mind for long. Landing on Delocia had not been planned and Abigail feared she was already dreadfully late for her meeting on Raylia. She sniffed to deter the sudden urge to sneeze and adjusted herself in the dirty seat doing her level best not to touch anything in the dusty, deplorable office.
Being sent across the galaxy to an unknown stranger to acquire a second husband after already being married to a man old enough to be her grandfather was also the second worst thing that had ever happened in her short life. Although, this current conversation was running a close third on her top five list of bad situations. Even as desperate as she was to continue her journey to Raylia, she didn't wish to give up her body to do so.
"One hour of your feminine companionship while you do everything I want you to...or no deal."
Abigail didn't know what disconcerted her more, the sexual demands he made or the fact that his vid-phone was broken and she couldn't see what the depraved reprobate looked like. She pictured a greasy old man in dirty ragged clothes rubbing his crotch every five seconds to assure himself his package was still intact.
"Then no deal." Abigail pushed the disconnect button to end the call. Resting her chin on her palm, she pondered what in the world she was going to do now. Being a feminine companion, even for an hour, wasn't an option. She shuddered at the thought of sex with yet another grizzled old man.
* * * *
Jesse Pelland cursed a blue streak as the Chaser's engine belched smoke and coughed fuel into the atmosphere of the unidentified planet he flew over. He'd babied the fuel regulator on the trip back to his space cruiser hoping to make it there for repairs. Being at the mercy of whatever godforsaken Allied Supply Hut squatting on the nearest backwater planet he was about to crash land on didn't thrill him. The fact that he would be even later to his next rendezvous hammered his brain with deplorable possibilities.
"Delocia Space Port. Downtown Delocia Common." He read aloud from a star chart listing viable planets in the Ksanthral System. Sounded ancient. They'd probably charge him triple if they knew how much money he carried. Shit, they'd probably charge him triple no matter what they thought his financial status was.
To even his odds, he'd have to hide absolutely everything in the secret compartments of the hold and change into his most raggedy clothes before heading to the nearest available Allied Supply Hut. And that included hiding his prized Infiltrator revolver as well. He surely didn't want to take the chance of it being seen or losing it to a gutless wanna-be gunslinger on a dusty nowhere planet.
Jesse hit the ship to ship communicator button and called his engineer on the Dragonfly. "Tiger? Come in, Tiger. This is Pelland."
"Tiger, here. What's up, Captain?"
"The Chaser's engine is crapping out as we speak. I'm leaking fuel and probably leaving a trail of parts in my wake. I'm gonna have to land on Delocia for repairs."
"Roger that." Tiger didn't hide the amusement in his tone.
Pressing his fingertips near an eyelid to stem a sudden tick which fluttered beneath the thin skin, Jesse asked, "You got something to say?"
"Don't let 'em charge you too much now." Tiger laughed out loud into the speaker and added, "Put your old shabby clothes on or you'll pay out your ass for parts."
"Yeah. Yeah. I know how it works. I'll call you when I'm on my way again."
"Roger that...and, Captain? You got a...well, I guess it's sort of like a message. It's right here...um...waitin' for ya."
"Fine. I'll deal with it when I get back. Pelland out."
Tiger sounded like he wanted to say more about whatever the message was, but Jesse didn't want another problem weighing on his mind. He had plenty on his plate at the moment. Not the least of which included an ugly landing with an engine about to crap out miles above a planet he didn't want to land on.
Once he got back to his cruiser he could arrange payment on the debt he owed, get back that important document he treasured representing his freedom and still have a nice stash of cash. But first he had to get there.
The shuttle belched again and leaned sideways. Jesse tried to straighten the craft for landing, favoring the aft side as he put the ailing ship down for a hard landing on the barren wasteland of Delocia.
* * * *
Abigail contemplated her rock or hard place options sitting before the blank vid-phone several minutes later. She was interrupted from her melancholy thoughts by Dooley, the captain of the derelict spaceship her guardian had hired to escort her to the planet Raylia and her next husband.
Dooley appeared at the door to the communications room where she sat pondering her miserable life. He'd been contracted by Pitney after her first husband died. She wondered how her guardian had known about the horrid transportation services Dooley provided.
He sauntered into the room giving her body an intense scrutiny as he always did. Dooley was yet another depraved reprobate on her journey to Hades.
Eyes riveted to her bust line, he scratched his crotch and asked, "Did Horace have the accelerator module I need for my ship?"
Abigail turned her gaze away. "Yes. He has it."
"Great. When are you gonna go get it?"
"I'm not. He's demanding sexual favors in return for the part. I refused. We'll have to think of something else."
Dooley barked out what she assumed was a laugh. "Nope. That won't work."
Abigail closed her eyes and counted silently to three. She opened them and fixed a glare on Dooley. "Why not? Surely there are other supply stores available?"
He shook his head fiercely. "Horace is the only game in town, sweetheart. He always gets what he asks for. An authorized Allied Supply Hut is the only supply business that's allowed this far out in the solar system."
Abigail thinned her lips into a frown. "Well, he's not getting what he 'asked' for from me."
Dooley crossed his arms over his well sized mid section. "Guess we'll be staying here on Delocia for a spell then."
She straightened her spine. "You contracted with my guardian to take me to Raylia to be presented before the Common Guild. My future husband waits for me there. I can't be late or else...well, never mind. I must get there promptly."
Dooley zeroed his focus on her breasts again and muttered, "Don't see the hurry in getting you there."
"Nothin'," he mumbled. Dropping his arms, Dooley scratched his crotch absently. "Besides, it don't matter what was contracted. I told your guardian, Pitney, I'd do my best, but I can't get you to Raylia without the accelerator module."
"Why is it my responsibility to get the part?" Abigail huffed. "It's your ship that's broken!"
Dooley sighed as if she were an incompetent child and explained, "Horace is the only one with the supply parts. And he don't want anything I've got to trade. That's why I had you call on the vid-phone." He winked before dropping his gaze to her breasts for a third time. She noticed with disgust that the speed of his crotch scratching increased. "I knew he'd trade with you."
Abigail crossed her arms in embarrassed anger to keep from launching at him with fingers stretched ready to throttle him. He'd only take it as a proposition anyway. "It's still not my responsibility."
"Listen, lady, I'm fine to stay right here on Delocia. You're the one all fired up to get to Raylia. You want off this fuckin' rock...then you'll halfta trade with Horace. Like I said before, he don't want what I'm offerin'." Dooley kept scratching his crotch during his impassioned speech. Abigail was disturbed to notice a growing bulge there.
She looked away quickly as if the sight might blind her. "It was made clear to me that I must arrive within a month to Raylia to meet my obligation. I won't disrespect the Common Guild and my next husband by being late to this appointment." And I must save my Aunt Eugenia from the elder house
"Then I guess you'd better pretty yourself up and go get that part." Dooley licked his lips as his gaze traveled up and down her body. He backed out of the communications room. The tent at the front of his trousers left little to the imagination of what he expected to happen between her and Horace.
Abigail wished for the courage and the knowledge to shoot the crystalline handled revolver hidden in the folds of her long gown. A wedding gift she'd relished having appropriated before the funeral and well before Myron's greedy family took everything else.
Perhaps if she pointed it at Horace's forehead he wouldn't notice that she didn't know how to pull the trigger.