Angelina Astoferus is on the run from her uncle, who wants to marry her off as part of a business deal. Her only hope is to find a spaceship to escape on—and a man willing to take her virginity, since her being pure is part of the deal. A desperate escape attempt leads her to the loading docks of the planet Oasis, where she spies Amos. Captivated by him, when the opportunity to sneak on board his ship arises, she takes it.
When Amos Marks discovers a stowaway on his ship, he knows she is big trouble. He and his brothers don’t need two dangerous enemies—her powerful uncle and the jilted warrior from Gravas—but Amos can’t turn his back on her. He decides to help her with her outlandish plan, but neither of them expects that the physical connection between them will lead to so much more.
She took a deep breath, left the precarious safety of the metal bin, and walked as fast as she could manage, keeping her eyes downcast. This was the only way on or off the small supply planet of Oasis. She was just thankful they’d docked for supplies before their final leg of the journey to the dark, barren planet of Gravas where her future husband waited.
She shivered and ignored the sweat that seeped down her back and made her clothes cling to her body. She had a plan, or at least the beginnings of one.
It will work, she told herself. It had to.
People hurried past, most of them concerned only with their own business. But a few of them stared as she stumbled by. She prayed no one would stop her, or worse, alert one of the many security men and women who patrolled the station. Her heart beat so hard she was sure they could hear it even above the din.
She couldn’t go back. Wouldn’t go back.
She raised her head and glanced around the busy docking platform at the various ships, desperately searching for a way out of her predicament. Some of them were taking on cargo while others had just arrived. There was a commercial passenger shuttle, but most were private vessels.
Then she saw him.
He was a tall man with midnight black hair tied at his nape with a leather cord. Even in the middle of all the chaos, there was something about him that drew her. He was the calm in the midst of the storm. His shoulders were broad and stretched the seams of the flightsuit he wore. He raised his left hand and pointed to a large container. The robotic cargo droid zipped into place, picked up the shipment, and whizzed aboard the ship that was docked next to the man.
The man was missing the pinky finger on his left hand.
As though sensing her scrutiny, he swiveled in her direction. Angelina got a glimpse of his face as she ducked her head and stepped behind a wide metal pillar. He was handsome in a rugged way. But what surprised her most was the shock of white hair in the front, such a contrast to the rest of it.
She held her breath and counted to ten. When she finally dared to peek around the pillar, the man had turned back toward his ship and was directing the cargo droid as it zoomed up and down the loading ramp. The man consulted his manifest and spoke to the droid. She couldn’t make out what he said, but he frowned and stalked aboard the ship.
This was her chance.
The world was growing blurrier by the second. She was running out of time. Already her limbs were heavy, making her clumsy when she lurched away from the pillar. She prayed no one was watching as she made her way across the platform.
The hatch of the ship was open.
Angelina ignored the fatigue pulling at her and stumbled up the ramp. The burst of adrenaline that had taken her this far had run its course, and she knew she would soon collapse. She had to find somewhere safe to hide before that happened.
Sweat beaded on her forehead and seeped down onto her lashes, making her eyes sting. Almost there. The rest of the world faded, her entire being focused on the entrance only steps away. She pushed herself hard and scrambled into the loading bay airlock. The huge metal door to her right was open, revealing a large cargo bay.
She heard voices nearby, and her heart nearly stopped. She was so close to freedom. Failure was not an option. The cargo containers were piled high, and she slid behind one just as two men stepped into view. Hunkering down, she did her best to blend in with her surroundings, letting her cloak cover her entire body.
“We’re missing one container, but the cargo droid has gone to retrieve it.”
Angelina risked a peek around the edge of the container. Sure enough, that deep voice belonged to the man from the cargo dock.
“Get it loaded so we can get the fuck out of here.” The man who growled the order was huge and scary with his hair buzzed short and a patch covering his right eye.
Angelina shivered and tucked her head against her knees. She feared she’d have nightmares about this man. There was no softness in his face, no sign of compassion. He appeared ruthless, the kind of man who would turn her over to her uncle without a moment’s hesitation, especially if there was a reward involved.
“I’m on it.” She liked this man’s voice. It was deep and made her shiver in a good way.
As much as she wanted to see him again, she didn’t dare risk another glance. Instead, she pushed deeper into the shadows and prayed she would go unnoticed. It seemed like days instead of minutes before the cargo droid rumbled over the metal gangway and into the hold. It deposited the final container, turned and zipped right back out.
She held her breath as the ramp was raised and the hatch sealed. The men hadn’t come back this way, leaving her alone in the dark with the cargo. There was a security light at the far end of the room, but as much as she craved the light, she stayed where she was, for fear they might have activated some sort of security system.
The engines growled, and it wasn’t long before the ship eased away from the dock. Angelina prayed fervently for a clean escape. If she could get away from her uncle long enough to enact the second part of her plan, she’d be safe.
The ship dipped to the side, banking left and then dropping. This was it. She’d made it.
All the stress and worry of the past few hours fell away, leaving her exhausted. Now all she needed to do was find a man to take her virginity. As fatigue pulled her under, her last thought was of the man from the loading dock. Maybe he’d help her.