DAMAGED – Planet Alpha is now available! Would you like to see how the story begins? Scroll down for the first chapter…
Erotic Romance, Menage (MMF), Sci-Fi, Suspense, Futuristic
Word Count: 34,400
Heat Level 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing
Click here to read an excerpt.
Cori knows her Xyran captivity has damaged her ability to trust, but when she meets Reiyn, desire flares despite her fear. He’s clearly hiding something, but when a distress call sends them into space together, passion takes over.
Cori enflames Reiyn like no other female ever has. She threatens his control over his hidden Xyran heritage, but he can’t fight his instincts. When his true nature is exposed during the daring rescue of a dying Xyran captain, will Cori forgive him, or will he continue his life’s work alone?
Captain Kyuk welcomes death when his ship is destroyed. He doesn’t expect to survive, but when Cori and Reiyn find him, instinct pushes him to live. He’s spent years smuggling slaves to freedom—can he now give up his own liberty to bond with Cori and Reiyn? Or is he too damaged to build that kind of emotional connection?
Be Warned: menage sex (MMF), rimming, anal sex, m/m interaction
Chapter One of DAMAGED (Planet Alpha)
Cori angrily kicked at the debris on the floor of the abandoned apartment, ignoring the dust she stirred into the air. She didn’t know why she’d thought she’d be able to find anything here, but when she discovered she’d be meeting her contact so close to her childhood home, she simply couldn’t stay away. She wasn’t sure what she’d expected. It had been years since she’d lived here with her family, and scavengers had long since picked over the place. Even the walls were damaged.
And you’re supposed to be meeting your contact in ten minutes, she told herself, but she didn’t move. She couldn’t go until she checked one last hiding spot.
Five minutes later she sat on the floor of her old bedroom, teeth clenched as she fought back tears. The old floorboards hadn’t been easy to pry up, but she’d managed. On her lap sat a small plastic box, dirty and dented. Reverently, she opened the top and stared at the faded photograph she’d stuffed inside a lifetime ago. How it had survived the flooding, she had no idea. Happy faces smiled up at her from the midst of destruction: her mother, her brother, and her father. Her mom held her as a baby on her hip, grinning at the camera. Cori couldn’t have been more than three years old when the photo was taken. She didn’t remember smiling for the camera or the stuffed bear she clutched in her tiny hand.
“Shit,” she muttered, stuffing the photo into her messenger bag. The next thing in the box was her mother’s diamond engagement ring. She frowned down at it, then shoved it into a pocket. Diamonds were rare on Earth, and she could buy a lot of needed items with that one gem. The rest of the stuff in the box wasn’t valuable at all. A feather she’d found one day at the beach. A rock her brother had kicked at her one time. They’d been playing on the front sidewalk before their mother caught them and shooed them into the back of the building. A dented penny. She closed the box and shoved it back into the floor. She didn’t need those things to remember her family. Her memories already haunted her enough.
Getting up, she stretched out the kinks in her spine and headed away from the bedroom to the front living area. The wall in the dining room had a big hole in it, and she shook her head as she stepped out through it into the sunlight. The apartment building used to hold four units, and water and looters had trashed all of them. There would be nothing useful left inside, and she was out of time for exploring.
“Get to the meet point, Cori-girl,” she told herself, heading east down the cracked sidewalk. Her footsteps made no sound and left no trace. She’d perfected the art of silence a long time ago.
Reiyn slipped the brown contact lenses into his eyes and grimaced as the plastic pricked his eyelids. He hated wearing them, but he had no choice, not if he wanted to look human. His Xyran eyes were black and impossible to hide. His skin he could change to look flesh-normal, but his irises? Not a chance. He sighed and checked his reflection in the chipped mirror: dark hair, mild brown eyes, normal-toned complexion. He’d pierced his tongue twice so that the slit would look more like a human-chosen body mod and less like an alien’s anatomical difference. The silver balls on each fork didn’t interfere with his ability to scent the air, and the humans he met never suspected that he was hiding anything.
He slid his small nano-blade into its sheath at his waist and pulled his leather vest down over the handle. He didn’t want to spook his contact. He checked his small pack: food, water, and a few gems for trading. His communicator was taped to his skin. He had no intention of risking the most valuable thing he owned by keeping it out where anyone could see it or steal it. The tape chafed a bit at the gems embedded in his skin, but not enough to bother him. It was the safest place to hide the device.
He checked the dilapidated room for anything he might have forgotten, then left the abandoned motel without another glance.
Cori waited impatiently, checking the sun for the third time. It hadn’t moved much, but the longer she stood out in the open, the more dangerous this meet-up became. Scavengers were common, as were slavers. She could take care of herself, but the best way to do that was to avoid attention.
To her left, the giant shell of an old super shopping center loomed like a metal beast with gutted innards. To her right, the parking lot stretched away, hot and weedy. Derelict cars slumped in various positions on the cracked asphalt. The heat made her wish she were anywhere but here. A trickle of sweat dripped down her temple, and she absently wiped it away as she checked her surroundings one last time.
“If he doesn’t show in three minutes, I’m outta here,” she murmured, slowly turning to take in everything. Again. When she ended up where she’d begun, she froze. A man stood ten feet in front of her, empty hands out in the universal sign for “no weapons”.
“Shit,” she said, heart pounding. “Where did you come from?”
He shrugged and walked closer. Cori gripped the handle of her knife, then slowly eased away when he stopped a few feet in front of her, expression neutral. He did not drop his hands. He made no threatening motions.
“I walked in from beneath the freeway,” he replied after a moment, head tilted to indicate the abandoned road just beyond the parking lot.
Cori pursed her lips as she fought to get herself under control. The man was huge. And gorgeous. And you do not need to be checking him out, you idiot, she told herself, scanning him carefully for hidden weapons. You’re not here to hook up with him. You’re here for intel. Her eyes lingered on his full lips, then dropped to his chest. The vest didn’t really cover much, but it certainly highlighted his epic musculature beautifully. Everything about him screamed strongand yum, and her long-suppressed libido had abruptly woken up and taken notice, to her frustration.
“I have information,” he said, brown eyes still neutral. “If you are Corazon, that is. If not, well…” he trailed off.
“Are you Reiyn?”
Cori raised an eyebrow, even as she took note of the silver rings in his ears. They went all the way up. She wondered if he had silver anywhere else. She was a sucker for body mods. “I’m Corazon. What’ve you got for me?” She thought she saw silver flash in his mouth when he spoke and squinted at him, trying to figure out what it was. A tooth? Pierced tongue? He didn’t seem to have any tattoos that she could see.
He moved closer. When she didn’t protest, he slid a hand into his vest pocket and extracted a slip of paper.
“Paper? Are you kidding me?” she scoffed aloud, but inside, relief threaded down her spine. If he’d pulled out anything else, she’d have known he was an imposter. And also you could have just died, if he’d had a weapon in there. He would’ve taken you out, easily. Pay attention. She willed her heart to settle down.
He lifted a shoulder. “I was told you knew the code. If you are not who you say you are, then this is useless.” He flicked the paper with his thumb. “No harm, no foul.”
Cori stared at the muscles in his arms flexing as he moved his fingers, and then she forced a smile. “Truth.” She snatched it out of his hand and checked the symbols. Yup, this is what we needed. The last of Jaxt’s surviving tribe has finally been relocated. Yay. She crumpled it up and shoved it into her pants pocket. “Thank you.”
He inclined his head.
Cori frowned. There was something familiar about him. Something about the way he held himself. When an electronic beep interrupted her silent examination of his stance, she caught her breath and stepped back. She knew what that sound was, and no one on Earth should have one of the devices that made it. Well, no one except Jaxt and Zoen and Sky. And me, Cori thought, hand going to her knife. Her Xyran communicator remained nestled deep inside the inner pocket of her leather jacket. A trickle of sweat ran down between her breasts as she warily watched the man in front of her.
Reiyn’s nostrils flared, as if he noticed her apprehension, and then he put a hand up in entreaty. “Do not be afraid.”
You should get the hell out of here, right now, Cori, she thought, worried by his easy reading of her emotions. She should run away, fast, but for some reason, her feet didn’t move.
He slowly slid his hand into his vest, opening it enough for her to see the tape he’d used on his skin just peeking out from the high waist of his leather pants. He peeled a corner of it away, then retrieved a communicator much like hers and silenced its alarm. When he glanced down at it, his face turned to stone. If she’d thought he looked mostly expressionless before, he looked even more so now. For a split second, she thought something red flickered along his skin, but then he turned slightly, reading the information on the device.
“What is that?” she asked, playing dumb.
He glanced at her, then slid it into the pocket of his leather pants. “A communicator.”
“Is there a problem?” She didn’t know what made her ask that. It was none of her business. And the less she knew, the better. Everyone who worked to free slaves along the interstellar smugglers’ route followed that rule. Everyone.No exceptions.
He stared at her for a long moment. “Yes.”
Cori took a deep breath, cursing herself even as she opened her mouth. “What is it?”
“Do you have access to a ship?”
She blinked. He wasn’t serious, was he?
“I received a distress signal. One of our pilots has been stranded,” Reiyn said.
Well, shit, Cori thought. Pilots who were willing to smuggle humans away from the Xyrans were rare. She couldn’t afford to not help. “Shit,” she said, then scrubbed at her face. “Dammit.”
“I take it that means yes, you can help.” He stepped closer, looming over her. “If you can get me a ship, I will pay you handsomely.”
That just pissed her off. “I don’t want your money,” she said tersely. “Shit.”
“You already said that,” he almost growled. “I fail to see how swearing will help.”
She glared at him. “You’re not taking my ship without me in it.”
His face went even tighter, but Cori had grown up rough. She could take anything a human male might do to her. She didn’t back down, not even when he moved close enough for her to feel his body heat against her skin. The nape of her neck prickled when she caught his scent: vanilla with a hint of some wild spice. Shit, he’s gorgeous.
“Time is of the essence. I will give you five one carat diamonds for your ship.”
Cori’s eyes widened as she tipped her head up to meet his gaze. “Five? Are you crazy?”
His eyes went flat at her tone, and she suddenly realized he was wearing contact lenses. She wondered where he’d got his hands on them, but then again, if he had enough gems to fling five diamonds her way, he must be loaded. That many diamonds would buy her three ships and enough fuel cells to last a year. He must be desperate to offer that much. She licked her lips as she stared at his collarbone. Her fingers itched to touch him. She wanted to run her palms down his chest. Instead, she crossed her arms and tried to look like she wasn’t thinking about stripping off his clothes and climbing him like a tree.
Abruptly, he stepped back. “Six. That is my final offer.”
Slowly, she shook her head. “I meant what I said before. I’m coming with you.”
He scowled. “Impossible.”
She pivoted and began walking away. He’d follow. He had to. She knew she was the only person with a ship within a thousand miles. He knew it, too. The eastern part of what had been the United States was a deserted wasteland. No one lived here. Well, almost no one, she mused, smiling to herself when she heard him come after her. I live here.
She halted, twisting her head around to look at him. “Something you wanted?”
He’d crossed his arms over his chest. “Where is your ship?”
Cori laughed. “You can’t possibly think I’m going to tell you?” She shook her head, still smiling.
He clenched his teeth so hard she could see a muscle in his jaw jump. “Fine. You may come.”
She raised her eyebrows. “So gracious.” She didn’t care if he looked like sex on a stick. She wasn’t in the mood for dramatics. “It’s my ship, not yours. So long as you understand that.”
He inclined his head.
He doesn’t say much, does he? Fine with me. She nodded back, as if what she’d just agreed to wasn’t insane. “Okay. It’s a few hours’ hike from here.” She began walking west. She had just enough daylight to get to the cave and grab the fuel cell that powered her little ship. “Stay close. There are more predators left in the mountains than you think.”
“I can handle myself.”
“Of course you can,” she muttered under her breath, scrambling over the embankment that led into the scrub at the edge of the derelict highway. Louder, she asked, “Where did the distress call come from?”
He kept up with her effortlessly. “Quadrant Four.”
Her heart skipped a beat, and Cori struggled to keep her face expressionless. That was where Sky had rescued her all those years ago. After the floods, after her parents had died in the refugee camp, she’d been sold to the Xyransand shipped off as a sex slave. She’d been too young for pregnancy at first, but when she became a teen, a Xyran had bought her for use as a breeder. Luckily, Sky had been captured and brought onto the same ship before Cori ended up pregnant and miserable. She’d been thirteen. Sky had saved her life and brought her back to Earth. She’d given Cori a reason for living: helping to free captives.
“That’s a busy route,” she simply said, glancing at Reiyn. She didn’t want him knowing her life story.
His long legs made the climb to the trail look easy. “So it is.”
She pursed her lips. “The Xyrans like sailing through there with their contraband humans.” She spat to the side as she found the trailhead. Dust kept getting lodged in her throat.
She snorted. “Try not to sprain something with your witty conversation.”
He ignored her.
Cori sighed. It was going to be a long afternoon. And an even longer flight.