Bold Traveler pirate and shy Gaian widow – love has a way of warping the rules!
Gaian widow Ana Ranalla took the job of nanny to her friends’ children to explore the Outer Colonies and to escape having to go to any more unsuccessful marriage meets. Looking for adventure rather than love she hadn’t planned on meeting her best friend’s brother, Jack An Flena in a dusk-filled forest clearing. He enchants her with his singing but even worse his unexpected kiss leaves her senses reeling and makes her wonder if Jack could possibly be her match.
An ex-member of Earthforce’s most infamous fighting unit, the Dark Angels, Jack An Flena has sought redemption by rescuing slaves from his former shipmates. He can’t believe he could make a woman like Ana fall in love with him or keep her love should the truth about his past misdeeds ever come out. Even so neither of them can resist acting when their attraction erupts into passion.
Both Jack and Ana worry that their love has no future but when slavers steal women from the village they combine her piloting skills and his weapons training to mount a rescue effort. In a ship that is seriously out-gunned by their enemies Jack and Ana have to survive their games with the slavers before determining if their past-haunted love affair has any chance of survival as well.
“So you are a Traveler?” In spite of the caravan and his way of speaking she hadn’t been sure up to now.
“Oh, yes. That ... and other things.” His face lost its humor for a moment. But then he returned his attention to her and smiled. “So what song would my beautiful nymph like to hear?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know any of your songs or even the language you sing them in, but they are lovely. Do you know any more like the last one?”
“Ah. A love ballad for the lady, of course.”
With practiced hands he stroked the strings, releasing one soft chord after another, humming a tune as if to remind him self of how it went. Then he began to sing, but the words were in Standard rather than whatever language he was singing earlier so she understood the meaning. It was a song of love that a man had for a woman, unrequited and lost.
He did it beautifully and Ana found herself sighing as he finished. Why was it that a bad boy singing a heart-rending love song was so effective? His performance was worthy of holovid status.
After he was done he sat and gave her the kind of dark brooding look that had her wanting to caress that unruly hair off his forehead and remove his frown with a couple of well-placed kisses. For a long time they seemed to watch each other over the lamp’s soft glow.
The effect was spoiled by him leaning over to pick up his bottle of grog, overbalancing and falling off the stool. Ana jumped to her feet but he didn’t seem to be hurt. Instead he sat in the dirt and blinked up at her.
His lips turned up into a rueful smile. “Well now. And that’s a fine way to make an impression on a lady, by falling off one’s seat.” He carefully laid his instrument to one side before trying to stand up, failing and sliding back onto the ground.
Shaking her head, Ana went to him and reached down to help him up but as soon as she took hold of his arm, he pulled her down to land on the ground next to him.
Startled but unhurt Ana glared at him. “What do you think you are doing?” she asked.
A smirk danced across his handsome features. “Leveling the playing field. If I can’t be on my feet, why should you be on yours?” He threw one arm around her and pulled her closer.
She tried to push on his arm but it was like trying to budge a freighter ship with bare hands. “Let me up. I don’t like to sit in the dirt.”
“Don’t you? I can fix that.” He pulled her to sit in his lap. “That’s better, right? Off the ground and all.” His arm cinched tight around her. “And aren’t you a nice little armload.” He nuzzled her neck. “You smell nice, too.”
Swatting at his arm Ana tried to free herself. “Let me go.”
“Not yet. There is a matter of payment.” Ana stilled.
“Payment? For what?”
“For my performance.” He nuzzled her again. “Don’t you think I deserve some sort of payment for that song?”
Ana’s heart thundered so loud she bet he could hear it. “What do you want?”
One hand slid behind her head and she felt his breath hot on her face. In spite of the alcohol on his breath there was something still enticing about his smell and she found herself leaning towards him. His blue eyes met hers, his look intent and amused and something that was neither.
“A kiss,” he said, his voice a harsh whisper. “A kiss to pay the piper. Doesn’t it make sense to kiss the piper?”
Night Owl Romance: Four Stars - This is a fun, fast paced story with the ending that makes you want to read more... In the meantime, readers can sit back and read Ana and Jack’s story and dream about life in the stars. - Terri
Bitten By Books: Three Tombstones - Finally a science fiction romance with women capable of taking care of themselves; White Knights need not apply. - Polly