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by Brenda Williamson
Category: Erotica/Erotic Science Fiction/Romance
Description: When Britt Colquinn's husband is killed during an ordinary intergalactic cargo run while on the spacecraft, The Chelonian, she has more than one reason to take on the new job as a servitor on the vessel. Times what they are, money is lean, so besides a roof over her head, she needs to find out whether the ship's commander is at fault for making her a widow. Only her first meeting with handsome, Ashton "Ly" Lygart raises a different set of questions--how skilful is he in bed, and are his lips as kissable as they look? Ly hasn't seen such beauty for a long time, and when he, along with his second in command, Major Crane embark on a torrid sexual threesome with Britt, it's with the intent of pleasure. He never thought he'd experience jealousy, and finds himself at odds with his feelings over whether or not he can trust that Britt's not working for his enemy against him. As a smuggler, he should practice caution. As a man, desire takes control. Will Ly risk his ownership of The Chelonian for love, or will Britt destroy his life? TO MY READER: In the future, sex continues to be a source of enjoyment for people. For Britt, sex with two men doubles her pleasure, but there's a little something extra between her and Ly that has the making of a relationship that goes beyond fun. Only her deceptive reason for being onboard Ly's spacecraft may prove to be too much for him to forgive.
eBook Publisher: Red Sage Publishing/Red Sage Presents, 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
9 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [170 KB]
Reading time: 104-145 min.
Naked Sin: Chapter One
Britt didn't know what to say. How to react to the news about her own husband, just delivered by his employer at her front door? At the hospital where she worked, death was a daily, common occurrence. It never made her feel quite this uncomfortable, not only because Simon was actually dead, but also because she had planned to divorce him. Now she felt as if her plan had jinxed his life.
She hadn't seen him in more than six months. His job onboard a small cargo spaceship didn't allow communications the way a planetary occupation did. And he had said he would only do the job for one year. Sadly, this was his fourth trip in two years, and it had ruined their marriage. They had only a month between outings to reacquaint themselves with each other. With his first couple of Earth leaves, things had gone relatively smoothly. Friends visited, and she and Simon frequently ended those nights with one man staying to join them in bed. But during his last two breaks, Simon acted more distant than usual. Stress of separation had desensitized her by then, and she hadn't questioned the lack of sexual contact.
"Simon's dead? You're sure?" She motioned her husband's employer, Endel Dumont, into her home. "How? When? Where?"
She thought about crying but didn't want to in front of Dumont. He owned their house and employed her husband, but was a virtual stranger. And tears were private, personal.
"A tragic accident, this morning, on Mars," he answered.
"What kind of accident?" She dropped to the seat of a cheap, blue plastic chair, hoping the cool surface against the back of her bare thighs would keep her from falling apart.
"I wasn't given details." He sat on the wooden footstool in front of her, his gaze dropping to her legs, which were exposed from mid-thigh down.
She shivered at the chill it gave her and wished she had on pants instead of a short skirt. The shock of her husband's death kept her from voicing her outrage over Dumont's lecherous glance. He'd made advances on her before. Twice when she had gone with Simon to pick up his wages, Dumont had slid in a hint or two about getting together with them. While it was common practice for a married couple to engage in a threesome, Endel Dumont disgusted her. Handsome but slick-talking, he never let her and Simon forget he was in control of their lives. His crass behavior now, after giving her the horrible news of her husband's death, reinforced her aversion.
Dumont grasped her hands with long, thin fingers and rubbed her knuckles with his thumbs. "Is there anyone I can call for you?" he asked with apparent sympathy, but his slow, swirling caress felt like a dirty seduction.
Repulsion sent a shiver up her spine.
He had given her nightmares in the past, especially after Simon had also hinted that Dumont might make a good sex partner in one of their threesomes. She felt then that Simon secretly hoped it might get him a better job, something local. She never gave him an answer, and the subject never came up again.
She shook her head. "There's no one." Her voice rattled as she choked up at the thought. Neither she nor Simon had family.
"There, there now. You can cry in front of me." He patted her hand.
She thought again about crying but didn't, not because she wanted to avoid it. There were no tears. She had loved Simon once. It should have been enough to make her cry now. Maybe she was still numb because of their estrangement.
Dumont's strokes moved to her knee. Before she could clench her legs together, his fingers slithered toward the inside of her upper leg. Shocked, she stared at him.
When she had first seen Endel Dumont, she'd considered him exceptionally handsome and extremely desirable. She'd even fantasized about him watching her have sex with her husband. That's how Simon preferred to start off their threesomes--showing the third participant how to give her pleasure.
Then she met Dumont face to face. She talked to him and discovered his outward appearance hid something unattractive. At the time, she wasn't able to lay a finger on exactly what was wrong with him. Now she pinpointed it to a sleaziness in his soul.
His mouth twitched into a satisfied smile.
She shot up from her chair, realizing her immobile silence was making him think she wanted his attention. "Can I get you a drink, Mr. Dumont?" She tugged down her skirt.
"No, nothing for me," he answered. "And please, call me Endel."
Britt shuffled sideways, putting space between them. Her feelings about him weren't about to change, nor was she going to encourage his advances by calling him by his first name. The nightmare she'd had flashed in her head.
"You have beautiful skin," Dumont said between licks to her leg.
Britt squirmed on top of the desk in his office. Simon came first, she tried to remember, and closed her legs. Her husband was in charge of her initial arousal, except Dumont had sent him away.
"We should wait," she moaned, unable to resist the stimulating feel of Dumont's tongue teasing her flesh.
"We don't need to wait, my dear. Your husband works for me now." Dumont's hands pushed up her skirt. "He'll appreciate what you do to help him climb the ladder of success within my company."
She spread her legs, willing to do anything to help Simon make a better life for them. Besides, her husband enjoyed watching her have sex with other men as much as she enjoyed the pleasures they gave her. She wished Simon would join them soon. Then she'd feel less uncomfortable being alone with his boss.
"I'm going to really enjoy this." Dumont's hot breath hit her thighs. "Don't you worry a bit about being lonely while Simon is away, my dear. I'll come keep you entertained often."
"What?" Britt blinked several times, clearing her thoughts, hearing Dumont's voice clearer the dream.
"I was saying, maybe I can come around and keep you from being alone."
"That's very kind, but not necessary." She moved quickly away from him and headed for the small drink bar that separated the living room from the kitchen. She lifted her gaze from the cabinet with the cups.
Mr. Dumont's stare hadn't wavered. He made her uncomfortable with the lick of his lips and the sex-hungry look in his eyes.
"Without Simon, I can't afford this place. His job for your company covered over half its costs," she said, letting him know up front she'd be moving.
He rubbed his hand over his mouth and his expression went pensive. "Maybe I can cover them."
And what would he want in return? She ignored his suggestion. She'd never consider any arrangement with him, knowing repayment would be in exchange for sexual favors. Not because she couldn't perform, either. She had a past steeped in meaningless liaisons. She just didn't want to give Endel Dumont the satisfaction of owning a piece of her soul.
"While it's a nice gesture, I must decline your offer," she answered politely. "This place is too big for me alone and I need something smaller. Right now, I have Simon's funeral to think of."
"Don't worry, my dear. Simon's contract called for immediate disposal should death occur in flight. His body was jettisoned into space two days ago."
The coldness of his statement shocked her.
"There's no body for me to bury?" She felt a burning sensation in the center of her chest.
"It's better this way."
She disagreed. Funerals were for the grieving to give their last goodbyes. How did she do that now? Removing a tin cup from the shelf in the cabinet, she slid it under the automatic liquor spout. The sensor released a stream of cheap gin, but the cup only half filled, signaling the device was empty.
"As for your accommodations," Dumont said, "I can make arrangements for you to stay here if you want."
From the corner of her eye, she saw him grasp the crotch of his pants, adjusting himself as many men did without thought. His actions supported her suspicions about him. He wanted sex with her and would go to any lengths to get it, including paying for it.
"I could help with the utilities too," he suggested.
The harder he tried to ingratiate himself with her, the more determined she became to refuse any help. Her numbness over Simon's death was turning to resentment. He had left her vulnerable to the likes of Endel Dumont.
"I'm not attached to this place," she said adamantly. "I'll find something fitting to my income or get a higher paying job. Are you sure I can't get you anything?" she asked again, ready to give up her drink rather than let the current conversation continue.
"No, nothing." He shifted on the sofa.
She took a sip from the cheap but durable cup. The tin gave the liquor a metallic taste. She didn't like it and set the cup on the counter. It had been ages since she'd seen any glassware. Glass was too fragile for the cost. Not even middle-class families used it.
"Have you thought of going into another line of work?" Dumont asked.
"I'm not qualified for anything meaningful." She leaned on the bar and recalled her first job working in the profession that was once considered a naked sin.
Decades had passed, the times had changed and prostitution was a legitimate profession. The pay was okay, and the hours were flexible. If it had not been for her boss taking advantage of his right to free sex far too often, she might have continued servicing men. Her jump to community service had given her more control over her life. Nursing didn't pay well either, yet it had a special place in her heart. Maybe if there were more medically trained people in the world, she wouldn't have been orphaned early in life.
"Every job is meaningful to someone," Dumont pointed out.
"I suppose you're right." She thought of when she'd met Simon four years ago.
Struggling through the tedious medical training classes by day, she had taken a job working at night as a receptionist for a slave rental company. Her job freed her to study between the menial tasks of writing electronic contracts, answering communication lines and greeting clients. If she had been one of the rental slaves, she would have gotten a higher salary, but not had the time to cram for her nursing exams.
In contrast, Simon had worked as a slave. He had told her of women slaves who were pampered all day and performed sexual duties when their masters came home from work. However, he also told her the horror stories where there was no sex, no relaxation and no fun, just hard labor.
They both left that company after two years of marriage when she'd earned her medical training certificate. That was when Simon got the job on the space cargo ship.
"You're sure you don't know what happened to Simon?" She shook off her wandering thoughts about jobs and money and refocused on her husband's demise.
Dumont looked away. "No idea at all."
She sensed a lie. Her brain buzzed with a hundred different accidents where she'd attended victims here on Earth. What hazards would there be on a spaceship?
"I can offer you a job on the Chelonian."
Dumont's proposition only half surprised her. "Your cargo ship? The one Simon died on?" She ignored Dumont's probable sexual intention.
He frowned. "Maybe it's a bad idea."
The suggestion did seem perverse. She shouldn't have considered it for a second but had to look at all options with a clear head. And getting away from Earth was appealing, especially if it helped her avoid Dumont. He probably still felt that he could drop in on her anytime, no matter where she moved.
"What's the job?" Curiosity got the better of her more than her need for a new occupation.
"As you said, you're not qualified for much. Most jobs on the Chelonian require engineering skills. However, there's not much to know about a servitude position. Maybe you could also learn what happened to Simon."
She suspected Dumont's motives. His aggressive personality was intimidating. Her mind reeled from the shock of losing her husband. Troubled and distant as her relationship with him had become, nothing about his sudden death felt right. So much to think about, so little time to plan a future before her money ran out. How could she look at anything with a clear perspective? Her loss of an emotional connection to Simon put her at risk of making a bad decision. What if she agreed to Dumont's offer? Would she end up in his bed?
"Do you travel onboard the Chelonian often?" She decided not to accept if it put her in danger of having an affair with him.
"Me? Never," he said as if the idea were ludicrous. "The Chelonian is under the operation of Commander Aiden Lygart. He and I don't get along. But he does bring a considerable profit to the company, so I keep him around."
She thought about the opportunity. "And my wages?"
"Servitude work is as specialized as any other crewmember's job, maybe even more laborious. Your pay would be substantially higher than Simon's." Dumont's claim sounded right. She knew a lot of servitors on Earth, and money wasn't one of their complaints about the profession.
"If the spaceship is under the control of this Commander Lygart, how will you explain my presence to him? Doesn't he hire his own crew?"
"Generally, he does the final selection from the applicants my company receives, like picking Simon. Servitors are far harder to find. I know for a fact he needs one more, so when I mention you as an applicant, I'm sure he'll jump at the chance to have you on board immediately."
"Because I'm Simon's widow?" She stared at him in surprise. "If he is hiding anything about my husband's death, he won't want me anywhere near his crew."
"We'll keep your identity a secret. It's not like you practiced that antiquated tradition of taking your husband's surname."
"But my marriage is on record."
"Believe me, Lygart isn't one for going through all that trivial data. Even if he skims the documents, it's likely he'll bypass the genealogy section."
"And if he doesn't, and questions me about whom I married?"
"Don't get on the ship." He squeezed her hands. "I promise, Lygart's only concerns will be whether you have the necessary health checks and all your vaccines."
She would pass all that with flying colors. As a nurse, she'd had every shot and booster.
"I've suspected Lygart of smuggling contraband to Mars for years now," he said. "Cargo Inspectors have searched his craft to no avail. While you perform your duties and search for the reason your husband died, I'm hoping you can also find out where the commander hides his illegal goods."
"You want me to spy for you? That sounds dangerous."
"Not if you're discreet."
"But if they're smugglers and they find out, I could be killed." An awful thought hit her. "Are you sure Simon had an accident? Maybe he did something they didn't like, and they killed him."
Dumont nodded slightly.
Damn, he suspected foul play.
"Of course, this is probably not a good idea," he said. "I shouldn't have suggested the job. We'll find something more suitable."
We'll do nothing of the sort, she thought. She didn't want to put herself at risk, but she also had a dire urge to get as far from Dumont as possible. If she kept her identity a secret and didn't look into anything other than how Simon was killed, what harm could there be in her taking the job?
"Okay," she said, her courage bolstered by internal outrage.
Mr. Dumont looked surprised. "Really, just like that?"
If there was one thing she did well, it was clean up after people. The hospital had trained her well. Onboard the spacecraft where her husband died, she would have access to private areas. She had only to learn what had happened to him and find justice if it turned out he'd been murdered.
"I'd live onboard, have food to eat and get paid, right?" she asked, hiding her intentions behind her obvious survival needs.
"Yes, of course," he said.
"Then it works for me." She set aside her doubts. Mr. Dumont's smarmy conniving notwithstanding, she had to find out how Simon died.
The smuggling information hadn't surprised her. Simon had hinted that the cargo they carried wasn't always government approved. She'd grown up knowing that for every law against a product, there were people who would not stop making or using it.
Dumont gave her a flat smile. "Excellent. I'll set up your employment on their next trip. Shouldn't be any longer than about six months."
"That long?" In half that time, she would have gone through her savings. She was torn. Finding out how Simon died was important, but so was her future. "I was hoping for sooner."
"They launch this afternoon at four. While Mars is a short trip, they make a round of five planets before returning to Earth. Can you be ready in a couple of hours?"
"Yes," she answered, not giving much thought to her apartment or belongings. A clean break from her life with Simon would sooner end her grief.
They hadn't made the place their home together. His few brief stays had been stopovers and nothing more. This wasn't like their first apartment, where his job had let him come home every day.
She took another look around. The mishmash of objects she had scrounged up from thrift outlets and discards at the recycling center held other people's memories. She hadn't grown attached to material things.
Dumont's lips curled as if her response had pleased him. As if what she did mattered. She didn't have time to think about what amused him. She had to focus on the next step forward. If he wanted to have her as his employee, then fine, so long as she didn't have to spend time in his company.
Dumont took out his handheld communicator and fingered the keypad. "I'm instant messaging the location to your communicator. Once you're in the hangar, you should have no problem finding the ship. The docking bays are pretty much a straight lineup of spacecrafts with their names and serial numbers painted on the side. You already know you're looking for the Chelonian."
A few seconds later, she heard the beep of her communicator. She looked back at it on the counter. "How did you know my messaging address?" She reached past her cup and lifted the small black device.
"Simon gave it to me for an emergency contact if anything should happen to him," he answered.
"Yet you came by here personally to tell me of his death." She stared at the information on the screen and thought about when she'd purchased the communicator. "Simon didn't have the call numbers to this." She held up the device. "I bought it a few months ago."
"It's my service. Very aggressive. I must have your old information, and my service updated it."
"That doesn't sound safe. What about people who change numbers to stop unwanted messaging?"
Dumont shrugged. It surprised her. She had begun to think he had an answer for everything.
"Technology." He smiled. "It's a dangerous mystery."
She nodded, agreeing with his statement. Too many advances had made life difficult, not better. Just the day before, she had stood over a man lying in the hospital, hooked up to everything imaginable to keep him alive, even though his illness robbed him of any quality of life. He should have died years before. In the meantime, maybe Simon could have been saved. Yet, that was where technology failed. Spaceships were known to have inadequate medical equipment. And Simon had died from an accident, something often too quick to change the outcome of, or so Dumont claimed, even though he hinted it might have been premeditated murder.
"It was very considerate of you to go out of your way and tell me," she said.
In some ways, she wished Dumont had sent her a message. Then she'd not have to put on a front of polite bravery.
"It's the least I could do." He slipped his communicator back into his pocket and took her hands between his.
His fingers rubbed over her wrists as he stepped in closer to her, sweaty from the summer heat. Her apartment's climate control hadn't worked efficiently since she moved in. She wondered what her landlord would think if she brought it up. Although it really didn't matter since she was leaving.
"Everything will be fine, Britt." He placed his arms around her shoulders, giving her a too enthusiastic hug.
"Yes, I know it will." She tried shifting free of his hold, but his lingering embrace made her uncomfortable. A dream of him naked on top of her came back.
His strength had pinned her down on the floor of his office, a tiny room off to the side of the space port's docking bays, confining and utterly without atmosphere for sex.
Each time she stretched her fingers, she felt the grime of dust and machine oil coating the concrete. She wished for Simon to take her away, but Dumont had sent him on an errand. Why had she let her slight attraction to Dumont put her in this position-- panting beneath him?
The onslaught of her intense orgasm gave her one answer--pleasure.
Had she really accepted Dumont, even in her dreams? A chill pushed through her. His enigmatic flair might arouse her in fantasies, but real life set her straight. Dumont is an insensitive jerk where Simon had once been worthy of her love.
Dumont patted her back in a comforting gesture, an obvious response to the sudden quake of her body. He squeezed her tight again, forcing her to notice his hands roaming lower on her body. She wiggled out of his embrace before he could take her immobile stance as an invitation to caress her bottom.
"Thank you," she said firmly. She wanted the job he offered. The longer she spent with him, the more determined she became to find out who was responsible for Simon's death.
"I'll leave you to get ready." He walked toward the door. "Take the bare minimum of personal effects. Everything you need will be supplied on the Chelonian."
"And my other stuff." She looked at the crooked table with her cup. They didn't mean much, but they summed up her life. In time, she might miss something.
"No problem. I'll see that your other belongings are taken to one of my storage facilities."
She blinked rapidly, dispelling an unwelcome image of him fingering her undergarments and sniffing her panties. It seemed the kind of thing he might do, especially because Simon had done it. He had explained it as a guy thing.
Dumont left, and Britt started packing. She tossed the basics of clothing into a duffle bag. From the bathroom, she grabbed a comb and toothbrush. She left behind the makeup she had never used much, not caring how she looked as a cleaning lady. Sad, shocked, and disoriented, she quickly finished gathering items, not sure if she had all she wanted. Dumont said everything she needed would be provided on the ship, she reminded herself.
She sat on the end of the bed, exhausted by rushing around. The digital picture frame hanging on the wall flashed from one photograph of her and Simon after another--their wedding, their honeymoon, their first apartment. In the beginning, they'd had a good life when they'd had the opportunity to spend time together. She'd been happy with him, hadn't she? How sad that they had fallen out of love. Why hadn't she noticed or questioned it until now, when he was gone from her life? Forever.
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