The Pleasure Principle: Three Kinds of Wicked Series Book 8
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by Calista Fox
Description: The year is 3091 and blockade runner Gizelle Sobera is determined to recover the largest lost treasure in the history of three galaxies. Claiming the bounty lost on PX330 (aka the Pleasure Planet) would help to supplement the resources and provisions needed by the Protective Forces of the Milky Way Galaxy as its inhabitants fight the invading forces of Gyllian. But when Gizelle discovers the gold has already been found, she knows exactly who has swiped the treasure from under her nose--D.T. Vaughn, a pirate who's stolen a variety of booty from her? D.T. is secretly known as Dylan Tanner, a legendary former Major General of the Protective Forces. He retired at the height of the fighting, after sixteen grueling and painful years of combat. Escaping to the Pleasure Planet, D.T. has set up a new life for himself. He frequents the Pleasure Clubs, but with an ulterior motive in mind, for D.T. is a spy who gleans important intel from the Pleasure Providers as he supports "the Cause" from afar. Gizelle has recently discovered who D.T. is, though? And she's willing to use every power of persuasion she possesses to get him back into uniform. Succumbing to her would lead to D.T.'s return to a life he willingly left behind. Yet when Gizelle orchestrates the ultimate seduction, with a sexy stranger who looks remarkably similar to D.T., he knows he can't hide from his true destiny. But can the pleasure of the moment erase the pain of the past? To My Readers: I've always loved reluctant heroes--you know the kind that come across as only being in the fight for the girl, the money or the glory. But who, in the end, will put their own life on the line to save the day. (And get the girl!) My all-time favorite hero is Han Solo. So I suppose it was only a matter of time before I wrote a futuristic story starring a bad boy, reluctant hero. There's so much more to D.T. Vaughn than meets the eye? and Gizelle is the perfect woman to bring out all his hero-like qualities, while burning up the pages at the same time! Enjoy!
eBook Publisher: Red Sage Publishing/Red Sage Presents, 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [131 KB]
Reading time: 80-112 min.
Andromeda Galaxy, Planet PX330--aka the Pleasure Planet
"We've got fleas," said Gizelle Sobera's new companion, a devilishly handsome man named Trey whom she'd picked up at port that very morning.
He hadn't offered a last name. She hadn't bothered to ask for one. Galaxy roamers were skilled vagabonds who worked for their shuttle passage between planets. They were meant to be temporary commodities in one's life, not permanent fixtures.
She'd venture to say this one's talents ran the gamut from laborer to lover.
But she was only interested in Trey in the former sense. Or so she'd been reminding herself all morning.
Pulling in a long breath of thick, sticky-sweet air, she leaned back against a wide tree trunk and contemplated his warning. Having just scaled the craggy surface of the cliff on which they now stood, she was winded and her muscles burned from the physical exertion. But her mind was sharp and alert.
Trey shot her a level look, his strong jaw set. "I'm telling you, we're being followed."
"Impossible. I'm the only one in this millennium who's seen these coordinates." A quick blast into the mouth from her tiny inhaler gave her the boost of oxygen she needed. Instantly refreshed and thoroughly revived, she pushed away from the tree and added in a confident tone, "No one but yours truly can find this place."
She pocketed her inhaler and then held up her right index finger, the tip of which blinked yellow and green. Four days ago, when she'd started this journey, she'd implanted a directional microchip just beneath the surface of her skin. The centuries-old digital map for the lost gold had been a bitch to decipher--taking several years, in fact, once she'd discovered and downloaded it. But she'd eventually worked through the codes. And the plot points she'd recovered, which were translated step-by-step into her mini-earpiece, had led her to this deserted tropical island in a remote area of a planet she'd rather not be on.
But when trillions in gold bars--and many lives--were at stake, what choice did she have?
"Look." Trey crossed the ledge's rugged terrain and pointed a blunt-tipped finger at the ground before her. "There's your footprint." He frowned as he seemed to realize his last ones had been marred by the spotty patches of green grass that covered the soft soil. So he stamped his booted foot in the slightly muddy, reddish-brown clay, right next to her print. It rendered a full impression. "Here's mine."
Gizelle eyed him curiously as he strode forward several feet ahead. He pointed again, this time to a very clear print that was embedded in the damp ground. One that did not match theirs. "Unless one of us has sprouted a third leg--the walking kind," he quickly added with a naturally wicked glint in his obsidian-colored eyes, "then this print belongs to someone who's been here before us. Quite recently. Strategically skirting us. But still, very close by."
Gizelle scanned their immediate surroundings as she listened carefully to nature's elements. Adjacent to their cliff was a tall waterfall that spilled into an enormous pool a good sixty feet below. The crashing wall of water echoed in the canyon, mingling with the calls of the exotic wildlife, none of which Gizelle could identify. This wasn't her home turf. Being an Earthling here left her vulnerable.
For her to have picked up a "flea"--a term from the old days on Earth, yet one still frequently used in her line of work--meant she could very well find herself in grave danger. Especially given her occupation of intergalactic blockade runner turned treasure hunter.
Not helping matters was the peculiar sensual influence of PX330, located in the Galactic Core of the Andromeda Galaxy. This particular rock was best known as the Pleasure Planet.
For good reasons.
Reasons Gizelle vehemently, though sometimes unsuccessfully, defied.
The atmosphere of the Pleasure Planet tended to stimulate its inhabitants and visitors in erotic ways, which Gizelle focused all of her energy on repelling. Especially right now, when so much was at stake.
Still. There was no escaping the dewy feel of her skin as the humidity worked its magic on her. No eluding the sultry scent of citrus mixed with a fresh floral aroma which wafted on a warm breeze and inspired the desire to lounge on the silky sand of the beach below.
The shores on Earth had long since morphed from sand to rocky, sooty land from the natural evaporation of surface water as the age-old prediction of global warming came to fruition in the middle of the previous millennium, coupled with the eerily systemic eruption of underground volcanoes and earthquakes created by the sudden convergences of the eight tectonic plates. The aftermath of the earthquakes made neighbors of islands and continents that had once been thousands of miles away from each other. What was left of Hawaii had instantly become a suburb of Los Angeles, with no need for a bridge over the gaping hole between them given today's levitational transportation.
Survivors had been few because even the advanced science and technology of the modern world had not been able to counter the effects of Mother Nature. But the space communities had, of course, endured. And had rebuilt life on Earth, for the most part. The effort was ongoing, hindered by the intergalactic war that broke out decades ago. A war still being fought today, on the ground as much as in space.
Half a galaxy away from the warzone, the Pleasure Planet was like a time capsule displaying all things beautiful and natural and heavenly, a reminder of what Earth had once looked and smelled like before the ravaged lands stretched across the planet and the scent of death permeated the air. PX330 teased the senses of those who'd studied Earth's history with virtual vision and sensory programs.
Thinking of the war's destruction on her home planet made Gizelle all the more determined to locate the gold and get the hell off the Pleasure Planet. She had important work back home. Troops and families of the Protective Forces to help. Cities and lives to salvage.
As her eyes scanned the lush jungle in which she and Trey were currently ensconced, his observation that they were being tracked--and its dire implications--left her scowling.
"Well, hell." Her gaze returned to the third footprint. Gizelle wondered where this mysterious adversary was hiding. Why hadn't they heard him or seen him in the hour and a half they'd been on the tropical island?
And was he alone, or was he a scout for a larger hunting party?
Turning to Trey, she said, "We didn't settle on the cut you'd get for helping me recover the gold bars."
"I told you, I'm not interested in currency."
Gizelle propped a hand on her hip and attempted to stare down her sexy new companion. No easy feat. He had a steely gaze that matched his resolve. And he really was devastatingly handsome. Though, when she'd called out to him on the floating pier as he'd sauntered past her newly acquired sailing vessel, her interest in him hadn't been a typical woman's for such a gorgeous male specimen. Lord knew she didn't need a quick romp or an intergalactic romance on this trip.
Been there. Been fucked
Literally and figuratively, thanks to the rogue pirate, D.T. Vaughn.
What a disaster that tumultuous affair had turned out to be. D.T. was hotter than rocket boosters, with just as much thrust, but it was dangerous to think of him so she pushed him from her mind.
What she did need was someone to help her recover the largest lost treasure in Andromeda's history. Yet, this wretched planet was already wreaking havoc on her senses. Something about the thick, sultry air wove a spell on her, heightening her sexual awareness, teasing her erogenous zones, drawing out all her physical needs, and making her think too much about her much-neglected wants and desires.
Every one of which a man as strong and virile and masculine as her new friend, Trey, could fulfill.
But she wasn't on the Pleasure Planet for sex. She was here to recover a treasure that would yield a substantial bounty capable of supplementing the resources needed by the collective, galactic Protective Forces to continue fighting the war in the Milky Way Galaxy.
Gizelle shoved a hand through her long, light brown hair and lifted the thick mass off the back of her neck. The gentle breeze caressed her skin like a lover's fingers after a long night of slow and easy lovemaking. She ignored the titillating sensation that shimmied down her spine. Tried to keep her mind on business instead.
"I appreciate charitable gestures when it comes to helping the war effort," she said. "Just so you know, your life's in danger if someone other than the two of us is hunting for the gold and believes we're poaching on their territory. Those bars are valuable. Whoever's searching for them will do whatever it takes to get their hands on them. Still want to work on a voluntary basis?" She knew her look challenged him. "Because I'd pay well to keep you from turning tail and running."
Trey's soft lips tipped at the corners in a cocky grin. "I'm hardly the 'turn tail and run' type."
Her gaze slid to the laser gun strapped to his thick, powerful thigh. She was inclined to agree with him, actually. He didn't appear to be afraid of much, including pirates who would easily blast a hole through his head to protect a recovered fortune of this magnitude.
When her eyes returned to his, she caught the hint of determination in them, overshadowed by the unmistakable look of lust flashing in his obsidian irises. Gizelle had to add "Pleasure Planet Atmosphere" to her list of current occupational hazards, because her body responded to his dark, edgy looks. His tight-set jaw. His black-as-midnight eyes, which were fringed by long, sooty lashes. And all those rigid muscles and bronze skin....
Hands that were made to pleasure a woman....
By all that was holy, how could she not think about sex with this man? Damn this wretched planet!
She dropped the thick mass of hair she'd been holding off her hot neck and clenched her fists at her sides. Concentrate on the task at hand. Remain focused. Her mission meant everything to her. More than the sudden need to satiate some longstanding desires.
Having gone so long without so much as a quickie in the cargo hull with one of the galaxy roamers she transported for a nominal fee, she was probably experiencing some sort of bizarre transference of lust from D.T. to Trey.
And why are you even thinking about that selfish pirate? D.T. Vaughn was a temptation best avoided.
She frowned, wondering if he was the one following her and Trey. But as she continued to survey the immediate surroundings, there wasn't a rustle of leaves, a snap of twigs or anything else to signal that D.T. or anyone lingered in the shadows, waiting to follow them into the cave, hold them up and hover away the gold.
Her gaze returned to Trey, a man she'd known for mere hours, a significantly shorter time than she'd known the pirate D.T. Vaughn. Yet something told her she could trust him.
"I said I'd help you," he told her. "So let's find the booty." His tanned skin gleamed in the light of the four moons circling PX330. The golden glow outlined his strong, tight muscles. His thick black hair shone almost blue as the beams of light hit it at an angle. D.T. would look this magnificent in the perpetual twilight, too, and it bugged the shit out of her to be thinking of him like that.
Because D.T. was the enemy more often than not.
Stifling a sigh, Gizelle pressed on. Trey kept pace next to her despite the fact that his long legs carried him much faster than her somewhat shorter stride. Not that she wasn't stalking across the grassy plain at a good clip, heading toward a tall hillside that likely housed the entrance to the cave she sought.
As she stole another glance at the tall, hunky stranger by her side, a tingle of exhilaration and good old-fashioned lust inched up her spine. Trey was intriguing on so many levels. Gorgeous beyond words, with hands that kept drawing her attention, causing her to imagine what they'd feel like on her naked body, squeezing her breasts, stroking her clit.
And by the stars! If she could have D.T. and Trey together, for just one night....
Get a grip!
Clearly, she'd been on the Pleasure Planet too long. How could she be thinking about sex at a time like this? When so much was at stake?
Trey's garbled sound drew Gizelle's attention from her errant and oh-so-wicked thoughts to the hillside they'd reached. Or rather, the gaping hole that had once been part of the hillside.
Gizelle's temper exploded.
"That son of a bitch!" Her fists balled at her side again as anger tore through her, chasing out all of the desire that had been building within her.
Clumps of dirt and weeds framed the top of the wide hole, roots dangling, debris falling. And on the ground, in the soft mud from the recent rain, were more of the third-party footprints Trey had spotted earlier.
"Something tells me you know the culprit who swiped the gold from under your nose."
Trey's observation made her angrier. "I have a hunch. D.T. Vaughn, a man I never should have let anywhere near me, let alone trusted," she seethed between clenched teeth. Gizelle did not have to explore the cave to know the gold bars had already been removed by her new nemesis. Forcing her jaw to unlock, she said to Trey, "I just might have to kill him for this."
"Think you'll be able to find him?"
She glared at her companion. "Oh, believe me, I know exactly where to find him." She'd scour every Pleasure Club on the planet if she had to. She'd barge into every private room occupied by a Pleasure Provider and her client until she found D.T. No doubt that was where the rogue would spend some of her gold!
"Exactly how do you intend to recover the treasure from him?" Trey asked, one of his dark brows lifting as a curious twinkle lit his onyx eyes.
"He's so predictable," she fumed. "I know exactly what he wants."
Was she willing to give it to him in exchange for the gold? Damn it! D.T. had her over a barrel, yet again. But she had an unexpected ally on her side this time around.
She slid her sexy galaxy roamer a coy glance, knowing the smile on her face was a devious one. D.T. was selfish and self-serving. A pirate. A scoundrel. A man who didn't play by the rules. A man who made outrageous demands, expecting everyone he negotiated with to concede to his wishes.
Gizelle never had.
But this time....
Her scowl deepened. She'd have to play her cards right, make strategic moves, in order to win this hand. To get what she wanted from D.T. without falling into the obvious trap he'd set for her. With so much at stake, she'd pull out all the stops to get that gold back. And finally put the rogue D.T. Vaughn in his place.
Crooking a finger at Trey, she gestured for him to follow her back to the boat.
"Onto Plan B," she said, a wicked idea already forming in her head.
* * * *