The Covenant [The Starlight Chronicles 2]
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by Annabel Wolfe, Emma Wildes
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: [Siren Menage Amour 12: Menage a Trois, M/F/M] One compromised planet, a tainted rescue mission, and a beautiful female in peril...Lieutenant Aspen Thorne has no choice. She's in quarantine and the rules are clear. The males locked in with her need sexual relief and they have nowhere else to turn. On Rapt One, the situation is volatile and while she reconciles the new relationship with her colleagues, a diabolical covenant struggles to take over. Luckily, they have the famous engineer Larik Armada in their midst and he systematically uncovers a plot that chills them all. The other male in with her is a virile young pilot, Trey York, and with his military expertise and Armada's insight, maybe they can escape before the situation takes explosive to a whole new level. Or will The Covenant triumph?[Erotic Sci-fi Romance, Multiple Sex Partners, Menage a Trois M/F/M: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./Menage Amour, 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: October 2008
161 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [175 KB]
Reading time: 100-140 min.
"4 Stars: Futuristic romance...The Covenant is an unusual love story. When I first began reading The Covenant, I wasn't sure it was a love story. Annabel Wolfe successfully combined the steamy intimate scenes with a believable love story. The Covenant is an enjoyable read."--Debra Gaynor, Review Your Book
The request to switch to a military frequency was never a good sign. Larik Armada watched the screen to his left and saw the dots get larger and align themselves in an unmistakable formation.
The pilot glanced over, his mouth set in a grim line. "I think someone forgot to mention to me being escorted in by six fighters. They're directing us to a lock beam for docking. Last I knew my orders were to deliver a couple of engineers to help repair an energy station. What the hell is going on?"
"I don't know." Larik frowned and rubbed his jaw, apprehension crawling up his spine. Rapt One had a reputation as a peaceful colony as far as he'd been briefed, prosperous and powerful, and his assignment had sounded simple enough. "I suppose it could be standard but it does seem a bit excessive."
"Excessive?" Trey York handled the controls with effortless expertise, slowing the craft to comply with the signals flashing on the response screen. "See the glowing red? They've armed their weapons."
"It doesn't make any sense. They know who we are."
"Maybe the lieutenant knows something we don't."
"I think I'll go ask." Larik slid out of his seat and made his way toward the back of the small craft. He was puzzled by the show of aggression from a colony that had close ties to Minoa and requested him specifically to deal with a massive generator that according to the report provided power for millions of colonists. The governor had written the authorization himself. Apparently he feared the actual design was the trouble for the constant failures, and had asked the Council for an expert outside assessment.
The lieutenant sat in the galley at a small table, a cup at her elbow and her gaze fastened on a small reading device in her hand. She glanced up as he entered, her fine brows drawing together as she registered his expression. "Something wrong, Armada?"
As usual, even with apparently six hostile craft hovering with weapons pointed, he found it hard not to stare. She wore regulation dress uniform for their arrival, the fitted tunic and trousers showing off nice curves beneath the no nonsense style, and her glossy ebony hair pinned into a neat chignon. Eyes of deep violet framed with lush dark lashes stared at him in question from an oval face and her soft mouth--a delectable perfect pink color--parted under his intense regard.
He'd fantasized about her mouth lately, he had to admit. Actually, ever since he'd met the engineer the military assigned to assist him, he'd had an erection half the time, especially in the past two weeks since they'd left the main ship and been on the transport in such close quarters. It was damned uncomfortable and he would be glad when they didn't have to spend so much time together. She treated him with cool, professional indifference so it didn't seem like he ever would get to test out his fantasies firsthand and the frustration wasn't his idea of fun.
He jerked his attention back to the present. "Any idea why our welcome to Rapt One is a bit less than friendly? They're not letting us dock but taking us in themselves. To make sure we cooperate, they are making quite a statement."
Aspen Thorne looked puzzled and shook her head. "No briefing to any problem came through."
Even as she spoke the transport lurched and shuddered as the lock beam caught it. It was a little eerie to hear the pilot kill the thrusters so the small craft could be drawn in. The lieutenant swore and grabbed her cup as it slid to the edge of the table, narrowly missing getting the contents in her lap. "I guess you aren't kidding about the lock beam. I wonder what's up."
His cock, Larik thought in cynical amusement, but some of it wasn't just the gorgeous lieutenant but also the journey from Minoa. Abstinence had some drawbacks and he was more than ready to land on Rapt One and find a willing female. All planets with military based colonies had a ready supply and he needed one.
"I suppose we'll find out soon enough," he commented as she rose. "I think we'd better go prepare to dock. We're supposed to meet with the governor as soon as we disembark."
She nodded and followed him back toward the passenger seats, strapping in next to him. Moments later they were stationary, and before long the silent swoosh of the doors lifting signaled their arrival.
"Armada, Lieutenant Thorne, do you see what I do?" York stood at the door nearest the cockpit of the craft, his tall, lean body unnaturally rigid. He glanced back as they moved forward and his mouth quirked in a mirthless grin. "Our welcome seems less than enthusiastic."
Larik peered past him and also stiffened. Three figures stood waiting, their attire obviously full anti-contamination gear, from the huge helmets and breathing apparatus to the all-body suits. That was bizarre enough, but the loaded weapons pointed their way with unmistakable menace made him wonder just what hell might be going on.
One of them signaled for them to exit the transport. The dark-haired young pilot muttered, "I don't know about you two, but all that gear makes me wonder if it's a great idea to step outside. What do they not want to be exposed to that is fine for us?"
"I have no idea but they're the ones with the weapons and from what I've seen so far, they seem to mean business." Larik stepped past him and went down the ramp, slightly lifting his hands in a universal signal of surrender. Lieutenant Thorne went next, and Trey York followed along. Their three escorts led them through the first lift gate and down a long hallway through a door. Each were handed a bundle and pointed in the direction of a series of what looked like small cubicles.
"They want us to change our clothes?" Aspen Thorne didn't look too enthusiastic about the lightweight garments, a simple pullover shirt and loose fitting pants. "I'm beginning to really want an explanation over all of this."
"I'm going to guess by the stance of our not so friendly and not at all talkative guards here, they aren't going to give it." Larik eyed one of the figures, the man's face obscured by not just the helmet but the breathing mask over his mouth and nose. "I can't really see we have a choice."
Inside the cubicle instructions printed on a small plaque on the wall stood out. Complying, Larik removed every item of clothing and then slipped on the simple shirt and pants, leaving everything, including his boots, in the bin provided.
Lieutenant Thorne emerged last, the tight set of her mouth showing her displeasure and he could see why at once. The shirt provided left very little to the imagination, the thin material molding to her full breasts and even giving a pretty good idea of the dusky color of her nipples.
As he suspected, the lady had very nice tits.
Under his breath, York said, "I always wanted a better look at her set, but this isn't quite how I imagined it. The guys with the face masks kind of take away from the moment."
Larik stifled a laugh.
One of the guards lifted his weapon, pointing it at her head. Both Larik and York stepped forward at once in involuntary protective protest and the other two escorts intercepted them. Shoved back, there was little they could do.
Lieutenant Thorne went a little pale but lifted her chin and stared at the threatening soldier. "What?"
"I think he wants you to take down your hair." Larik realized the unspoken request with a rush of relief. "Give him the clip. I don't think we're supposed to have anything we arrived with on us."
"Oh." She quickly slipped it free and handed it over. Shining dark hair tumbled over her shoulders and down her back and she looked very different at once, not the neat military engineer with a business-like manner and cool, aloof poise, but like a woman with tumbled tresses and that to die for body.
Only he really wasn't interested in dying, Larik decided, eyeing the arsenal around him.
Not in the least.
* * * *
A small suite of utilitarian rooms with a main area, several places to sit, and a functional galley awaited them. At the back, sleeping quarters with narrow bunks lined up the walls, enough to sleep six individuals, plus an extra larger bed in the corner. There was also a cleansing room, modern and sterile. The impersonal feel of it wasn't exactly heartening and Aspen Thorne wondered how long they would have to wait around before someone bothered to explain their less than auspicious introduction to Rapt One.
Larik Armada dropped into a chair, his long legs carelessly extended, a frown on his face. Like all S-species males, he was very tall and gifted with an almost extraordinary handsomeness, his features symmetrical and masculine, his thick blond hair rumpled where he'd run his hand through it.. Vivid sapphire blue eyes reflected his emotions with startling clarity, including his sometimes less than reverent sense of humor. As a civilian he tended to take the military rules more as casual guidelines and his lax attitude toward protocol could be a bit of a problem now and then.
Which was exactly why she was included on this mission. Armada's brilliant intellect had no equal and there was nothing he couldn't do with the energy station all on his own. Aspen was along for the ride ostensibly to assist him, but mostly to make sure he followed procedure as much as possible.
If they ever got to the damn project. The ice cold reception wasn't exactly encouraging.
Trey York, the young pilot who'd been assigned to bring them over, paced restlessly over to the door, checked the scanning system for the second time, and shook his head. "We're fucking locked in." He registered his speech and glanced over. "Excuse me, Lieutenant."
"No problem." She agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment, if not the choice of words. "I've heard it before. The question is why are we locked in?"
"They're worried we're carrying something, at a guess." Armada looked thoughtful, his lean body clad in the same generic tan pants and shirt, the nondescript color and fit doing nothing to lessen his almost overwhelming masculinity.
Actually, between the two of them, she felt overwhelmed in general. York was also a gorgeous S-species male, dark-haired and clean featured, with a whipcord athletic body and a vitality that was almost visible. She was twenty-five and she guessed the pilot might be her age or maybe a year or two younger and knew Armada wasn't yet thirty.
The space felt way too small to share with two males who exuded hormones and virility like most S-species. As a half-breed, she was stuck in a way between the Superhumans--or S-species--who dominated the known universe, and the humans from which they evolved, now considered inferior. Long ago genetic alterations--to make it easier for human beings to acclimate to different environments as Earth became too crowded and colonies were needed--resulted in a change that backfired for humans. Their counterparts grew more powerful, both physically and intellectually, and as a result, earth now existed under the thumb of the S-species in every way. Aspen's mother was a human female, and her father an S-species high-ranking soldier. Often, the breeding intermixed to make sure genetic mutations did not begin to occur and she was the result of one of those precautions.
York argued, "I've been through decontamination before after landing on more planets than I can remember. This is different."
"I agree." Aspen thought about sitting in the chair next to Armada, decided it was too close to both of them, and chose to lean against the wall. "Whatever has happened, they are keeping it low profile."
As if in answer, one of several screens on the wall flickered to life. "Very astute, Lieutenant Thorne. Low profile is correct. May I welcome all of you to Rapt One."
The image of the colony governor appeared. Though she'd seen his picture before, Aspen recognized the difference. Normally he was presented as an affable, good-looking administrator, a former admiral now in control of a prosperous colony, precise, agreeable, and competent. With dismay she registered the obvious signs of strain in the lines around his mouth and the weariness in his expression.
As liaison it was her job to respond, so she said neutrally, "Good afternoon, Governor. Forgive our speculation, but I doubt you can blame us."
It looked like he was seated in some sort of conference room and someone spoke off camera. He nodded and glanced at a small screen to his left and then back up. "I'm sorry for the inconvenience but please understand it is necessary. A recent biological attack on the colony could have killed thousands, maybe even everyone. We're doing our best at damage control at this point, and that means prevention."
Well, that explained the confiscation of their clothing and personal items at least. She frowned. "Has Minoa responded?"
"I've spoken to Governor Kartel, naturally. All the colonies are going on full military alert. He is as harried and concerned as I am, maybe more, since he sits on the Universal Council. He sends his greetings, Armada."
Aspen hadn't realized Larik was such close friends with one of the most powerful men in interstellar politics. She interjected, "Have there been other incidents?"
"It was the consensus after the first near disaster we would keep our precautions quiet for as long as possible. We'd like to be able to discern who is behind the terrorism so we can retaliate and eliminate the threat. Obviously word will spread soon enough of the required quarantine when entering the colony, but until then, we hope to not only prevent another attack, but if other infected arrivals are detected, maybe we can pinpoint the source."
"I can assure you we are not contaminated."
"No, you can't, Lieutenant. The previous individuals had no idea. As much as we need help with the defunct power station from Mr. Armada and yourself, you will have to wait out the quarantine like everyone else. We can go on with rationing power as before, but I cannot ration life."
The finality in his tone made her straighten a little, but it was Trey York who asked in a terse voice, "How long?"
He stared, and his eyes, a light crystalline blue, glittered. "Did you just say eight weeks, sir?"
"We're being very careful." The governor's voice held an implacable edge. "The quarters you now occupy will hold you until the end of specified allotment. You'll find sufficient food and anything else you might require for your stay. At any time, you can communicate with us, but I'm afraid should any of you fall ill, no medical assistance will be given. The first physical contact you'll have will be the day you are released."
Sixty days? Aspen felt dismay roll over her like a wave and she saw the two men in the room exchange a swift glance, as if an unspoken communication passed between them. Armada spoke up. "May I request, sir, that Lieutenant Thorne be moved to separate quarters." He added in a bland tone, "We were out for months prior to our arrival."
In other words, for an S-species male, with their high sex drive, that was a long time. She'd noticed in the two weeks on the transport their restlessness and careful avoidance of contact with her if possible. They were already on the edge. If things had gone as expected, she had no doubt both of them would have sought female company for the night.
The governor shook his head. "The other quarters are all occupied and all have males. Besides, if we were going to introduce a new individual, their quarantine would have to begin again. I'm sure you understand this is difficult for everyone. We are in an official state of emergency on Rapt One and technically, you three are prisoners of war until it is proven you are safe. I am sure Lieutenant Thorne remembers her military training when it comes to certain situations. The 051 regulations were put in place for a purpose, and I'm afraid this is just one of those instances."
Aspen stared at the screen. "Sir, I--"
He cut her off ruthlessly. "I look forward to welcoming you to Rapt One in person in two months."
The screen abruptly went blank. The resulting silence seemed heavy and Aspen could feel from the heat in her face and neck she was flushed. No one spoke for a moment until Armada elevated a dark blond brow in a graceful arch. "Okay, I'll ask. Since I'm non-military, I'm not familiar with regulation zero-whatever. Mind filling me in?"
Already York looked at her differently. She could almost feel the change in assessment from respectful subordinate to predatory male. He said with deceptive casualness, "Regulation 051 states that in case of prolonged close contact between female personnel with males who have no other alternative for sexual release, it is part of their duties to assist in the welfare of their counterparts by providing them access to sexual intercourse. Believe me, during initial training, every new male soldier memorizes that one."
"Yeah, I would guess he would." Armada's sapphire eyes darkened a little.
"I'm going to venture a guess that's what the extra bed in the bunkroom is for. The sleepers aren't big enough for more than one individual." York sounded nonchalant but there was nothing casual about the way he looked at her.
He was right, she realized. Most big ships had a similar set up. Practicality dictated to have a separate comfortable place provided for sexual purposes since the sleeping berths were narrow by necessity to save space.
It was time for her to say something and take charge of the situation, she just had no idea what it should be. Aspen cleared her throat. "The regulation is more for combat instances than something like this."
"It seems to me the governor just told us we were prisoners of war." York gave her a cheeky grin. It lit his already disturbingly handsome face and she felt her flush deepen.
"Watch it, Pilot." Her voice should have sounded crisp and heavy with authority. Instead it came off with a small wobble.
He didn't look impressed with the warning, propping himself with one broad shoulder against the opposite wall, that teasing smile lingering. "I've been watching, ma'am, since the moment I met you. I like what I see, too, if I have permission to say so. How about you, Armada?"
"Oh yeah." The agreement was said in a low sexy drawl. "But I have a feeling the lieutenant already knows that."
She'd known they were both aware of her as a female, but they had been deferent and polite since they'd left the ship together for Rapt One. As a military pilot, York wasn't exactly under her command and carried no rank but was instead classed by experience and ability, for pilots were a separate division entirely. The same thing could be said for Armada, since he was civilian.
The 051 regulation also clearly stated no female was ever required to sleep with a male if she outranked him. Unfortunately for her, the rule did not apply here. Besides, essentially the governor had given them permission to expect her cooperation.
Four months of abstinence is a stretch for any S-species male. It seemed she had two on her hands and there was never a time in her career, even through the rigorous training required to get to where she was and rise in rank, she had felt so intimidated.
Would it be best to confess the truth? It put her at a disadvantage, but she was there anyway.
With as much dignity as possible, she said, "I'm a virgin."
* * * *