Stargazers 2: Willful [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Anne Kane
eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Fantasy/Paranormal Erotica
eBook Description: Born both a Stargazer and Daughter-Heir to the throne of New Zanadles, Jazlyn is used to a life of pampered luxury. But when the planet runs into financial trouble, her father agrees to bind her to a five-year term of service aboard a vessel with two very virile interplanetary merchants. Her leisurely life is replaced by a whirlwind of Intergalactic Council intrigues and the lusty attentions of her new employers, but when space pirates attack, a routine delivery turns into a deadly struggle for control of the ship.
eBook Publisher: Changeling Press LLC, Published: 2009, 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2009
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32 Reader Ratings:
"You did what?" Jazlyn stared at her father.
He had the grace to look slightly sheepish. "The Finance Minister said it was the only way to keep the Intergalactic Council from foreclosing and taking over New Zanadles." His gaze silently implored her to understand. "It's only a five solar year contract, and you'll get to travel. You've always wanted to travel."
Jazlyn snorted. "As one of the nobility, not the main power source. Do you have any idea how humiliating this will be? I'll be taking orders from peasants!"
Her father's mouth thinned into a harsh line that always preceded one of his moral tirades. "They are not peasants! I had the palace guard investigate them thoroughly before I even considered the proposal. Mr. Rance and Mr. Nuevo are both law-abiding citizens, well-respected in the merchants' guild. They've promised to treat you fairly, and the amount they've agreed upon for your services will be enough to pay off New Zanadles' loan to the Council." He reached out to place a hand on her shoulder. "Being one of the nobility comes with responsibilities. You should be proud that you're able to save our planet from being subjugated by the Intergalactic Council."
"I know. We really do need the money." She sighed and ran her fingers through her long sandy hair. "I just never pictured myself as a working girl." She lifted her chin. "So how long do I have to prepare for this great adventure?"
Her father dropped his gaze to study the intricate pattern of the tiles on the floor, refusing to look at her. "They're waiting in the green room. I thought it best if you met them just before you board their vessel. Their launch window is at the start of the next solar period and they have a shipment of perishables that needs to be delivered to the Globar system as soon as possible."
"Now?" She stared at him in dismay. "I can't possibly pack and say my goodbyes in less than a full moon cycle."
Her father looked up, and she could see the steely determination in his eyes. She knew that look. He'd given his word and nothing she could say or do would change it.
"Fine! I'll go supervise the packing." She flounced toward the doorway, only to stop when he called after her.
"That won't be necessary. I've instructed Mika to have your clothing and personal items delivered to the space station."
Jazlyn pivoted to face him, hands on her hips. "What about Mika? I do get to take my personal maid with me, don't I?" Mika, a distant cousin, had grown up with her and was more of a confidante than a servant. Leaving her home world would be hard enough without losing Mika's support.
He nodded. "It took a bit of negotiating, but they've agreed to let Mika accompany you, provided she doesn't interfere with the ship's routine."
"So I guess I should go and greet my new..." Jazlyn's voice trailed off. She had no idea what to call them. Employers?
Her father gave her an exasperated look. "They are people, Jazlyn. They need your help to deliver their goods, and we need their help to avoid financial ruin." He reached out to pull her into his embrace. "I know you'll make the people of New Zanadles proud that you are the Daughter-Heir."
Bryce paced impatiently across the lush carpet. The waiting grated on his nerves. They'd paid for the services of a Stargazer, and he was eager to get on with their voyage. Drought had swept through the Globar system this past season, and the settlers were desperate for the foodstuffs packed in the hold of his spaceship. The Intergalactic Council would be quite happy to let the settlers starve unless they agreed to be ruled by the Council. He wasn't about to let that happen.
He'd tried to hire a guild-sanctioned Stargazer, but none of the available witches were willing to take the contract. Approaching New Zanadles and offering to take an untried Stargazer had been a last resort. He hoped her father's confidence in the witch's abilities proved warranted. He'd paid a good sum for her services, and with the cargo bay full, they couldn't afford any lost time.
He pivoted as a quiet swishing signaled the door opening. A young woman swept into the room, her chin held high. Neon blue streaks shone brightly in the sandy brown hair that fell in a silken curtain to her waist. A tight bodysuit showed off her figure in a mouthwatering display of lush curves. Dozens of gaily-colored bangles decorated her arms and ankles, jingling cheerfully with every stride of those long, shapely legs. Her green eyes glowed with a haughty temper. She ran her gaze over him dismissively before she turned her attention to his partner, Tyler.
"On behalf of my family and my subjects, I welcome you to New Zanadles." She bowed formally. "I'm Jazlyn, Daughter-Heir to the throne. My father informs me that he has contracted me to serve on your vessel and I understand you are in a hurry to proceed."
Tyler came to his feet in a smooth move and took the proffered hand, bowing low. Bryce found himself annoyed at his partner's lithe grace. "Yes, we have a deadline to meet and we've wasted much precious time looking for a Stargazer willing to accompany us." Tyler's gaze flickered to Bryce, a wry smile curving his mouth. "Allow me to make introductions. My name is Tyler Rance, and this is my partner and best friend, Bryce Nuevo."
The corner of the witch's mouth curved upward gently. "I see." She looked from one to the other. "You look well with each other. Have you been together long?"
Bryce blinked, not sure what she meant until Tyler guffawed loudly, a wide grin on his face. "We're not a couple."
Jazlyn gasped, lifting a hand to cover her mouth. "Oh, I'm sorry. When you said partner, I assumed..." Her voice trailed off, heat staining her cheeks bright red. "I didn't mean to insult you."
Bryce grinned at her sympathetically. "Not to worry. If I were inclined that way, Tyler would be my first choice." He stepped forward to offer his own hand, bowing low when she accepted and placed her soft fingers within his hand. "We're honored that you've agreed to serve aboard our ship." The feel of her smooth skin, warm and silky in his grasp, left him wondering what the rest of her would feel like. He gave his head a mental shake. She'd agreed to serve as a valued member of the crew, not a body slave. He obviously needed to take a quick side trip to one of the local pleasure houses before they shipped out. He hadn't been this affected by a woman since his initiation on Qualar.
"How much time do I have before we depart?" Her voice had a musical lilt to it that reminded him of the birds singing in the palace gardens.
He lifted his head, and found himself staring into the depths of those witch-green eyes. "The next clear launch window is just before the second moon rises. We'd like to utilize that. Your father indicated you'd be able to accommodate." He glanced over at Tyler. "Have her personal effects been delivered to the shuttle?"
Tyler tapped a finger against his earlobe, activating the implanted com unit. "Just getting there now." He frowned. "Were we expecting a passenger? There's a female demanding boarding privileges, and she's giving old Harold a hard time."
"Mika!" Jazlyn swiveled to look at Tyler. "Father said you'd agreed to let my companion accompany me."
Tyler nodded slightly. He pointed at the table and a holo-image shimmered into view. He lifted his eyebrows in disbelief. "Is that your companion?"
Bryce looked at the tiny image of a female, her outlandish outfit showing off more of her than it hid as she stomped her foot and gestured rudely at their supplies clerk.
"Yes." A grin curved the corner of Jazlyn's mouth, and Bryce stared, fascinated by her plump pink lips. "You might want to do your man a favor, and tell him to let her in. She doesn't know the meaning of the word 'no'."
"Not a problem." Tyler watched the tiny figure for a few seconds before he glanced over to Jazlyn. "You said her name was Mika?"
Jazlyn nodded. "She's a distant cousin and my dearest friend. Please treat her with respect."
"I'll go down and personally welcome her onboard." Tyler grinned, and Bryce could see the interest in his old friend's gaze as he practically drooled over the display. He had no doubt Tyler would be very welcoming. They hadn't had time to visit their usual haunts and blow off a little steam when they'd gotten into port. The settlers' position was too precarious for them to waste precious time at the pleasure houses.
"Get the companion and the clothes stowed away. I'll answer any questions Jazlyn has and be along as soon as I can. Oh, and tell the crew to prep for launch."
Tyler snapped to attention and gave him a mock salute. "Yes, sir!" He headed to the exit with long strides of his lanky legs, and then paused. "Oh, and nice to have you aboard, Jazlyn. I can see this is going to be a very interesting voyage."
"Thank you." Jazlyn turned to Bryce. "Perhaps you can fill me in on where we're heading." She led him to the seating area under the great tapestry. She sank into the cushions of the overstuffed sofa, leaving him to choose from several large chairs. "My father didn't tell me why you contracted me instead of one of the Council Stargazers. I've never performed on any vessel but my father's."
She stared at him with those gorgeous green eyes, and he felt the blood pool low in his groin. This would definitely be an interesting voyage.