had no idea what the expression on his face might be, but he did
his best to keep it neutral.
whole day seemed designed to test him in every way a male could
was the agonizing decision he couldn't possibly ask any officer
or crew to go down to the surface of Epsilon, his anguish over the
matter both private and difficult. It wasn't easy to condemn the
people on the surface of the planet to certain death, yet when he
weighed the odds, it had seemed clear it wasn't right to order a
hopeless attempt at rescue either. Then the news came Peyton Valmont
had taken matters into her own hands, left the ship unauthorized,
and while he stood in paralyzed indecision over what to do about
it, apparently pulled off the rescue of the millennium.
compound the unpalatable situation, now he had to punish her. Yes,
he'd let her off easy, but never did he expect she would offer him
she know he'd secretly lusted after her since the moment she set
foot on his ship? The lieutenant stood there, her rich dark brown
hair highlighted by the subdued overhead illumination designed to
make sure there was no glare on the dozens of monitors, her vivid
hazel eyes reflecting her trepidation, but also her undeniable courage.
She was more than classically pretty, her features delicate and
feminine, long lashes framing those incredible eyes, a soft pink
mouth right now compressed into a tight line of apprehension.
was common opinion she was gorgeous and though he never commented
one way or the other when the men talked about Lieutenant Valmont,
he definitely agreed.
he wanted her before, he wanted her even more now. Fuck, how was
he supposed to manage this, especially when she'd suggested he be
took in a breath, hoping he still looked unfazed. "What about
me in what way, Lieutenant?"
I have to do this, can I service you? Commanders don't have to share
either, do they? Wouldn't you count as two?"
Naiad is just a step down in rank, second in command. We share quarters,
responsibilities, and just about everything else."
you, should you choose this. He didn't have to explain it.
a moment she said nothing. Then with obvious effort, she nodded.
Just once. "Okay, I can live with that. You and Commander Naiad."
There was just a slight falter in her voice. "The other officers
are my colleagues."
he wasn't a colleague. Of course he wasn't. It was his duty to distant
himself from the staff. To be above it as he dispensed orders and
kept strict discipline. "I don't…" he started to
say, and stopped, not sure how he wanted to finish.
the hell was he going to tell her? He didn't like the idea? Yes,
he did. He'd like nothing better than carry her off to his quarters
right this minute. His sex drive was as healthy and strong as any
other S-species male. With her—the slender yet suggestive
lines of her figure under the required uniform always intriguing—it
was very tempting.
waited, her back perfectly straight, those entrancing gold-green
eyes wide. When he didn't speak she explained haltingly, "I
don't know if you understand how hard it is as a female to get treated
like an equal. Right now even the officers who outrank me regard
me as one of them. I'm going to lose that if I have to submit to
any of them. What you are talking about isn't like having a sexual
affair, Commander, which is also against regulation for the same
is a punishment," he told her, an edge to his voice.
realize that. I accept it," she countered, "but can you
see my position? This way at least I wouldn't lose their respect."
could see her in a lot of different positions—that was part
of the problem. Kel looked around at the sterile surroundings of
the bridge. He was the commander, she was just a rogue female pilot,
and why he should feel so guilty about this was a mystery
had walked in tense and defiant. She'd stood there and took his
diatribe on her disobedience, and then she'd waited for his edict.
Not that she had much choice, but still once he heard her reason
for why she had commandeered the craft and risked her life, he understood.
changed nothing. He really didn't want to reprimand her in the first
place, so making it as easy on her as possible appealed to him,
but it had to be done.
appealed to him. That was the problem. Since the first moment she
stepped foot on the ship, he'd wanted to fuck her.
he could have her. Whenever he wanted. In any way he wanted.
if his unruly cock didn't start to swell at the thought.
it posed problems if he agreed to this. Kel stared at her. "I
don't want the crew to think I'm meting out discipline for my own
word pleasure made her color deepen, pink giving a nice color to
her cheeks. "Excuse me for saying so, sir, but I think the
crew would object more if you were too harsh. Feel free to make
sure they all know this was my choice. I'll do the same."
was probably true. She was a damned hero now. Soldiers always admired
the kind of courage she'd shown, and even more so the reckless act
showcased her remarkable ability to handle a transport craft under
any conditions. This solution would take her out of duty for the
shortest time possible and he wouldn't have to dock her pay either.
won't have the opportunity to tell them," he pointed out. "If
you choose this route, Valmont, you'll be confined to the command
sure this is how you wish to resolve this?"
well." He waved a hand past the door scanner and opened the
portal, gesturing at the two soldiers who stood at attention there.
He said curtly, "Escort the lieutenant to Level C. See that
the guards were too well-trained to show any kind of reaction, but
Kel felt their shock just the same. Level C was where the females
were kept and instructed on their sexual duties before each voyage,
so he imagined it would be common knowledge fast enough just how
he'd handled her insubordination. She left with dignity, walking
between the two much taller soldiers in brisk departure. Kel wandered
over and examined the flight log, but he didn't really see the notes
he'd made. He needed to sit down and compose a report to be sent
to Minoa on the incident. Epsilon was clearly a lost cause but at
least there had been no further loss of life thanks to one daring,
did that go?"
turned around and saw his second in command, Jake Naiad, enter the
captain's bridge, open curiosity in his expression. Naiad murmured,
"It couldn't have been much fun. I saw them take her out and
she looked more resigned than anything."
went," Kel responded, rubbing his jaw. "And no, that part
of this job isn't my favorite. I've had to discharge some good soldiers
already in my career. It didn't appeal to me to do it again."
was also tall—most S-species males were—blond, built
with whipcord leanness, his angular features refined and his eyes
a clear aquamarine. He was a good officer and one of the few males
Kel considered a true friend. They worked well together, and when
they were on Minoa between assignments, played pretty well together
too. The mutual competitive spirit meant they were good opponents
in sports and other leisurely pursuits, one of which was bedding
that what you decided to do?" Naiad asked, sitting down in
his chair by the rows of panels. "You discharged her? I have
to tell you; that's going to be an unpopular decision, Kel."
I running a popularity contest?" Kel retorted, lifting a brow.
"She broke about fifteen regulations."
but who's counting," Naiad remarked, rubbing his chin. "Two
of them big ones. Still, the governor's son was rescued, along with
one other civilian and over twenty soldiers. How the hell she did
it, I don't know. Her navigator said he couldn't help her worth
shit and the thrusters quit twice. He also said she was like a machine.
Cool as could be and determined as hell."
civilian was her sister."
other man stared at him and then gave a low whistle. "Okay,
that makes a difference. At least now I understand the determination.
Fuck, you still discharged her?"
leveled an ironic look at him. "I never said I discharged her.
I said I would have been justified in front of any tribunal for
doing just that. Instead I dropped the unauthorized appropriation
charge and just addressed the direct disobeying of orders. I offered
her the choice of any of the statute nineteen sentences."
thought for a moment, and then nodded. "That's more than fair.
I hate to see her lose rank or be sidelined because she's damned
good, but it's a slap on the wrist compared to what could have been.
No wonder she wasn't more upset."
well, she didn't want to lose rank or be sidelined either."
a moment Naiad looked puzzled but then he blinked. "Valmont
chose sexual servitude? That surprises me. She doesn't seem like
the submissive type." He grinned then. "Hey, I'm more
than happy to volunteer to be her—"
been assigned," Kel interrupted. "It's always awkward
when a female officer is punished that way. I let her decide."
let out an exaggerated sigh. "Too bad. Some of her fellow officers,
I take it. She's a delicious little piece, in my opinion. Who?"
Us, I guess, would be more accurate."
brows shot up. "Nice work there." Naiad grinned. "I've
had worse news. This day has gone from being a near disaster to
shaping up pretty good."
didn't coerce her in any way. It was her suggestion." Kel was
irritated with himself for sounding defensive but was pretty sure
there was a hint of it in his voice anyway. "She doesn't want
this to affect her status with the other officers she interacts
with on a daily basis."
female, the lieutenant." Naiad's blue-green eyes reflected
amusement. "I can't say I'm disappointed. Neither are you.
Even before all this, I've caught you looking at her a time or two
in a very un-commander-to-pilot way."
that true? It probably was, though Kel thought he'd kept his interest
hidden. Naiad had an annoying way of being perceptive at the wrong
times. "She's noticeable," he admitted.
fuckable," Naiad agreed with a low laugh. "I wonder if
she realizes how hungry for her you are."
find out soon enough," Kel said in a clipped voice and went
to start his reports.
HERE TO BUY