Authors: Tessie Bradford
Megan’s Men Copyright © 2013 Tessie Bradford
About the Author
Also Available from Resplendence Publishing
By Tessie Bradford
Resplendence Publishing, LLC
Cover Art by Les Byerley
Published by Resplendence Publishing, LLC
2665 N Atlantic Avenue, #349
Daytona Beach, FL 32118
Electronic format ISBN: 978-1-60735-685-1
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Electronic Release: July 2013
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.
Kat, you always know exactly what to say and do to keep me motivated. Mr. Dark & Dangerous and his friends are permanent additions to my writing environment!
Megan sat at a tiny table in the corner of the crowded lounge and stared down at the cup of herbal tea. She wasn’t at all sure her stomach would accept the liquid or that her shaking hands could raise the steaming beverage safely to her lips. Erring on the side of caution, she tried to busy herself with checking her travel documents, again.
“Yup, nothing’s changed in the last five minutes,” she muttered, leafing through the packet of papers. Transport ticket, interplanetary visa, inoculation certificate and employment verification; everything required to start her new life. Everything except a form guaranteeing she was doing the right thing.
The last year had been horrific. After turning a blind eye to her now ex-husband’s philandering throughout the duration of their disastrous five-year marriage, he had left her, taking most of their assets with him. The position she’d held at EnviroTech for twelve years had been phased out with little warning. Being accepted for the position of Monetary Manager for a newly formed science facility on Somas Prime had seemed a dream come true three months ago, but now she was filled with doubts. What if she didn’t like the job? Over the last few weeks, the reality of the fact that she hadn’t asked many questions regarding the position after finding out what it paid was weighing heavily on her mind. Where would she go if things didn’t work out? Space travel wasn’t cheap, and Somas Prime wasn’t a frequent stop for intergalactic transport ships.
Attention, attention, passengers on flight 1789. Change of status alert. Report to deck A, terminal three, immediately.
The computer-generated voice rang out loud and clear above the noise of the crowd.
“This can’t be good.”
Megan jumped up and hoped her heart didn’t pound out of her chest as she frantically gathered her things. She currently sat in terminal eleven, deck R, about as far away from A3 as physically possible. Why? Because the nice lady at check-in had directed her here, and she’d relied on her expertise, what with this being her first trip off Earth. Despite a lack of experience, Megan had no illusions about the ability to get clear across the largest travel port on the planet ‘immediately’. She took off at a dead run.
Fifteen minutes, three trams and two cramping shins later, she stopped her forward momentum with the A3 customer service desk. “I’m…I’m…” She struggled to draw a breath. “Megan Lynch, here’s my ticket.”
“Thank you but there’s been a change to your travel plans.”
Megan opened her mouth, but before she had time to begin uttering her outrage, the desk clerk was speaking again. Apparently, this wasn’t his first day on the job.
“Somas Prime was the final destination for this passenger ship and the diplomatic team traveling there canceled. Obviously, it is financially unrealistic for the company to make that last leg of the journey for only one passenger. As a courtesy to you, a valued customer, your reservation has been transferred to a Dalosian cargo vessel, which will be leaving early tomorrow morning. Here is a voucher with a thousand credits, compliments of Trans Galaxy, for your inconvenience and the obvious shopping needs you now have due to Dalosian rules of dress.”
She stared dumbfounded at the little plastic card.
“Each terminal has a number of shops to choose from, which can provide the appropriate garments,” the clerk said quietly as he leaned toward her. “Cargo ships aren’t built for speed, or comfort for that matter. May I suggest you purchase any personal supplies you might require during the journey?”
His words, along with the pity she saw reflected in his eyes, sent panic racing through her system.
“It will probably be close to three weeks before you get to Somas Prime, and that’s only if they don’t make stops along the way.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” She gripped the countertop as her legs threatened to buckle. “This can’t be possible. There has to be other alternatives.”
“Of course there are, Ms. Lynch. I’m so sorry for not presenting them. Would you like to cancel and rebook?” His fingers moved at blinding speed across his keyboard. “The next passenger transport departs in two weeks on Monday, October twenty-first.”
“No, that’s fine.” Tears fogged her vision. “Where do I have to go now?”
“Deck H, terminal twenty-one, but you have plenty of time, departure is scheduled for two-thirty.” He handed her a new ticket.
“Thanks for your help,” she mumbled as she grabbed the handle of her case and stumbled away from the counter.
Inconvenience? Ticket guy had no clue as to the enormity of his understatement. The few possessions she’d managed to retain during her long, drawn-out, messy breakup had been shipped yesterday, and she had handed the keys to her home to the nice young couple who had bought it before she’d left for the travel port.
Megan wandered into the crowded terminal. She stopped in the middle of the walkway and turned from left to right, overwhelmed by the stores that stretched as far as the eye could see. One thousand credits might afford her a few articles of clothing and some toiletries at a thrift shop, but glancing in the closest display windows, bargains weren’t going to be easy to find. What in the world had he meant by appropriate clothing? Rules of dress? She was physically numb, but her mind raced a mile a minute. A three-week voyage instead of a two-day passenger flight? Dalosian? Why was that species name sending a fissure of unease through her system?
“Move it lady.”
“Out of the way, I’ve got a transport to catch.”
Megan barely heard the muttered complaints or felt herself being bumped and jostled by the teeming mass of travelers. She stood, rooted to the floor, tears again welling in her eyes as her pulse pounded in her ears. This was all too much. She began to tremble as the magnitude of her situation slammed into her with the force of a super nova. She couldn’t go home, she didn’t have one anymore. She was woefully ignorant of the ways of the countless other cultures in the universe due to spending her entire life in an insulated, protected and comfortable, little quadrant on Earth’s northern hemisphere. What had ever possessed her to attempt such a crazy venture? Dizziness threatened to overwhelm her.
“Miss, you risk being trampled to death. Please allow me to escort you.”
Her case was pulled from her hand, and a muscular arm wrapped around her waist. There was no
in the way he pulled her tightly against his hip.
“Please, no, I’m fine, sorry, I’ll get out of the way.” She reached to reclaim her carry-on while attempting to wriggle free of his grasp. She had no luck in doing either.
A hover shuttle zoomed past her left side, so close that its wind caused her floor-length skirt to swirl wildly around her knees. Megan cried out and latched on to the stranger with a vise-like grip. With one arm, he lifted her so her feet were no longer touching the floor and maneuvered them expertly through the melee to a lounge area across the passageway. He set her down gently next to a small table with two chairs and took a step back, giving Megan an opportunity to get a good look at him.
The first thing that registered was how far she had to tilt her head up. His jet-black hair was pulled back from his face, and a braided ponytail hung over one shoulder, ending at mid-chest. His face was narrow and made ruggedly masculine by a strong jaw line, slightly crooked nose and a faint scar running from the middle of his forehead to his temple on the right side. The irises of his almond-shaped eyes were a deep emerald green with flecks of gold, and his skin was the shade of rich caramel. Megan hoped she didn’t appear too surprised as she took note of his pointed ears and the small gold hoops that adorned them from tips to lobes. When his full lips parted in a mischievous grin, butterflies danced in her tummy. He was one exotic, gorgeous man.
“I really appreciate your help,” she said, smiling shyly.
“The pleasure was all mine,” he replied, bowing. “I am Garfor, of the house of H’oug, guardian of the traditions and honored protector of my people.”
His accent was thick and lyrical. For the first time in her sheltered life, she was grateful for the translating chip that was implanted at birth in all peoples of the Federation planets.
“Megan. Megan Lynch,” she said. “It’s very nice to meet you, sir.”
She didn’t have any idea as to his race or planet of origin, but she had no doubt from the formality of his introduction that he was an important dude, wherever he came from. Megan found it most interesting that the words had been spoken without the hint of arrogance. Garfor was a man who was more than comfortable with his position. A shiver of awareness skittered up her spine as Megan sensed his strength and power.
“May I call you Megan?” he asked as he pulled out a chair for her.
“Of course,” she replied, sitting down.
Garfor pulled the other chair close and sat. “You could have been trampled to death back there.” He motioned over a server. “Do you have chorba?” he asked.
“Of course, sir. Would you like it warmed?”
Megan gaped as the woman bowed and did a variation of a curtsy.
Who is this guy?
She scanned his cloak, shocked now to discover intricate patterns stitched in gold along the shoulders and multiple gold and silver hued medals adorning the lapels.
“That would be delightful.” Garfor flashed the waitress a devastatingly handsome smile before returning his full attention back to her.
He took both of her hands in his. Megan was surprised when a tingling sensation raced up her arms. She looked at their entwined fingers then up at his face. Garfor stared at her with the strangest expression. He brushed his thumbs gently across the inside of her wrists. The caress tightened her nipples and sent heat straight to her pussy. His pupils darkened as he gazed at her with concern.
“Tell me what has you so upset, Megan, and perhaps I can help you.”
His tone was different from it had been a moment before, lower, seductive, coaxing. Her common sense told her to keep the details to a minimum, but she chose not to listen. She
to confide in this perfect stranger. At lightning speed, breathing only when absolutely necessary, she told Garfor about her divorce, job situation and travel problems. When she finally stopped talking, she was exhausted and horribly embarrassed.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry.” Megan stared at her hands, which were still held gently but firmly in his. He hadn’t said a word during her diatribe. “Bet ya won’t stop to help someone again anytime soon,” she said with a nervous chuckle.
“On the contrary, I was just thanking the Gods for seeing to it I was in the right place at the right time.” He took a sip of his beverage. Megan hadn’t even noticed that the server had brought the cups to their table. “We obviously have much to take care of, so first things first. Please give me your travel documents and I’ll see to the cancellation of your Dalosian flight while you stay here and relax. I assume you already received the appropriate refund credits owed for the down grade?”
“Whoa, what refund credits? Nobody told me the new flight was cheaper. I don’t even know exactly what the original flight cost. My employer paid for my transport as part of the job offer.” Megan’s head began to throb again. She disengaged her hands from his and rubbed her forehead. “I guess I figured it was an even exchange, or something. Shouldn’t Trans Galaxy have told me if they owed credits?”
Garfor stared at her with such pity, Megan’s hackles immediately rose. “Okay, you’re right I should have asked, bad me. I’ll go take care of it right now.” She practically bounced out of her chair.
“I’m surprised you accepted passage on a Dalosian vessel. Aren’t you the least bit concerned?” He casually crossed one leg over the other and perused the fingernails of his right hand.
“No, I’m not,” she fibbed. “I have every confidence that Trans Galaxy, the largest transport company on the planet, knows what they’re doing when they change reservations for their clients.”
“This is your first interplanetary journey, isn’t it, Megan?”
“There’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?” She placed her closed fists on her hips and fixed him with her most serious face. “Despite what you’ve witnessed so far, let me assure you, I’m more than capable of taking care of myself.”
“Then I’ll stop worrying. You obviously are well acquainted with the standard disclaimer on every voucher, which holds the transport provider harmless in the event a traveler voluntarily agrees to accept transport on a non-Federation sanctioned vessel.”
Megan’s mouth went dry.
“What with the recent breakdown of diplomatic relations with Dalosia, you are indeed very brave, or very cunning.” He stroked his chin while sweeping her from head to toe with his piercing gaze. “Your stunning beauty would most definitely fetch the highest price on the marriage block, hopefully binding you to a Master who would care for you accordingly. It could be a better life than what is in store for you on Somas Prime, if you don’t mind giving up your freedom. And your employer would have no legal way to pursue you to collect whatever they’ve paid so far for your relocation.”
Megan swallowed convulsively while willing herself not to cry or worse, pass out. Why, she wasn’t exactly sure, but she had no doubt whatsoever that Garfor was telling the truth. Fuck, could things get any worse? Was it possible for her to feel any more ignorant?