Peace was for little girls
And Coalition starship admiral Brit Bandar was one tough woman. A mere intergalactic treaty could never get her to trust the Drakken Horde. There was too much bad blood between the Coalition and the Horde and, for intensely personal reasons, Brit wasn't sure that she was through spilling it! But now a peaceful accord had made Finn Rorkken, a notorious Drakken rogue, second in command on her starship, and--through some grand cosmic irony--front and center in her thoughts...and her heart.
Either title sat easily on Finn's battle-hardened shoulders. Though second in command to "Stone-Heart" Bandar? That one would take some getting used to. Peace required as much sacrifice as war so he'd comply even if his reaction to the gorgeous admiral fell decidedly outside protocol. But would he end up kissing or killing her if the galaxy's tentative truce turned into all-out war?
Brit woke slowly, luxuriating in silken sheets as she took a drowsy accounting of her circumstances: One, it was morning. Two, she was naked. And three, she was lying in a strange bed.
A real bed. Compared to the one in her quarters on board the CSS Vengeance, the bed was lavish, big enough for three or four. It appeared, however, that only one other person shared the mattress. What was his name again?
Brit rolled onto her side to view her bedmate. Did it matter what she called him? She'd tolerate his company for perhaps another night or so before he became another pleasant memory from shore leave like all the others before him.
She reached out and moved a curl from his forehead. No lines of worry marred that perfect, golden skin. He'd never needed to block out the screams of battle, nor grimaced at the horrors of war. No, this man existed in a sort of perpetual shore leave: all pleasure, no pain. He was almost pretty, she decided, but well-built--she would not have chosen him otherwise. His dark hair was tousled; his lips were full, stopping this short of feminine. She preferred a more manly mouth. Ah, but he'd used it well. There was time for him to use it again, too, before she deserted him for breakfast.
On her belly, she slid closer and licked his jaw. "Wake up..." Whatever your name is...
He stretched and smiled, then rolled her onto her back. Two long, thin slashes marred his shoulder. "I scratched you," she murmured as he nuzzled his way down her neck to her breasts. She hadn't remembered clawing him; she normally wasn't violent in bed. Well, not this violent. But it had been too long between shore leaves this time, and she'd been hungry.
Hungry to forget...hungry to remember.
With this stranger between her legs, she could cast her memories back and pretend he was Seff and she his young wife, innocent, full of hopes and dreams, all the things she wasn't now. They were only teenagers, married less than two years when Hordish marauders came. With this pretty stranger and all the others before him she could lose herself in the sex, almost believing in those moments of blinding, no-strings-attached passion that she was still human. That she could still feel.
"Come here." She took his head between her hands and kissed him roughly. He returned the kiss with equal intensity, crushing her to the pillow, but ear. Several tones told her that her voice required authentication before the identity of the person trying to reach her could be revealed. The procedure was typical for high-priority, classified calls. Except that Brit was light-years off the beaten track on a vacation planet. The connection could take a while.
In the corner of her eye, she caught the sparkle of her midnight-black, crisply pressed officer's uniform hanging in the closet next to an iridescent, gossamer-lace poolside cover-up. Who would dare to bother her on shore leave? This was supposed to be a few weeks' respite before she returned to the helm of the Vengeance to hunt down increasingly desperate Hordish pirates in the Borderlands. The war might be over, but there was cleanup to do.
The war...over. It had been several months, and Brit still couldn't wrap her mind around the concept. Yet long ago, before time began, the galaxy was whole. The worlds of the Drakken Horde were the original cradle of the goddesses. Then, under threat of religious extermination, the goddesses were forced to flee their home. They found refuge on the ice planet Sakka, where they formed a new government, the...