THE OFF WORLD COLLECTION (Short, Steamy Science Fiction Romances) (Off-World Series)

BOOK: THE OFF WORLD COLLECTION (Short, Steamy Science Fiction Romances) (Off-World Series)
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The Off World Collection

REBECCA YORK

OVERVIEW


Three sizzling, sexy science-fiction romance stories.


Three alpha males and the women who tame them.

oOo

Conquest
(Sexy Science-Fiction Romance Short Story)

A science-fiction romance short story inspired by Worf, the only Klingon member of Star Fleet.  Viewers of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION learned that a Klingon's sense of honor makes him a hero worthy of any woman's heart.  And he's one sexy lover, too!

oOo

Hero’s Welcome
(Sexy Science-Fiction Romance Short Story)

They were friends as children, she from the master race, he born to servants on her father's estate. But in the bloody rebellion that followed, his people were the victors. Now he's home, reaping the spoils of war. But both of them have been chewed up and spit out by what happened to them in the conflict. Can they heal each other's wounds and find the love both of them have always craved?

oOo

Nightfall
(Sexy Science-Fiction Romance Novella)

When all-male plague survivors landed on the planet Palomar, no one knew if humans could thrive in the hostile environment. Now it's twenty years later, and the planetary authority has finally authorized a shipment of brides. Homesteader Caleb Raider has won a wife in the lottery, but he hasn't seen a woman since childhood-except in a porn vid. His new wife, Beka Gunnarsen, knows he's a virgin. What's the best way to introduce him to the pleasures of married love, while hiding the secret she thinks will destroy their new relationship? And is she up to living on a nearly lawless planet where savage wildlife roams?

CONQUEST

PAR
T I

CLIMAX

Elena slipped the knife under the pillow, then moved quickly away from the bed, clutching the collar of her fur robe tightly around her neck. If she killed her new husband, would the Guardians condemn her for murder? Or would they simply give her to another one of the barbarians? Perhaps it would be wiser to use the knife on herself. Better a quick death than a life of suffering at the hands of a man.

No, not a man, she corrected herself, but a savage. A male animal who bore only a superficial resemblance to a human being.

She shivered, unable to control her reaction to the thought of being possessed by a Jalaran. Since the day a hundred years ago when the colony ship from earth had crashed on Jalar, with no hope of rescue, her people had battled for survival on the harsh planet. It was a world beyond human scope, a world of impossibly high mountains where the air was too thin for humans to breathe, “ironwood” trees so tall they seemed to touch the sky, and oceans full of creatures more fearsome than the nightmares of ancient earth mariners.

The greatest threat, though, had been the
Jalarans, the warlike race that dominated the primitive world. Vicious, merciless in battle, they had slaughtered the newcomers, forcing the humans to barricade themselves in stone fortresses on the northern-most continent, where winter was long and dark, and summer was nothing more than a brief respite.

Elena, like all of the colonists’ descendants, had been raised on stories of the atrocities committed by the natives. The morals of the stories were always the same: it was only due to their superior technology and intelligence that the humans had carved out a tiny foothold on
Jalar.

That foothold was precarious, though, and it seemed the cruel, unforgiving planet would win in the end. For, over the years, fewer and fewer children had been born to the colonists, and in the past twenty years, not a single woman had conceived. The doctors knew the cause of the problem---a type of radiation in the alien atmosphere had rendered the human males sterile---but all efforts to find a cure or means of prevention had failed. If their species was to avoid extinction, the doctors had told the Council of Guardians, they must forge a truce with the enemy; the most fertile human women had to be impregnated by
Jalaran males.

Elena counted it as her misfortune to have been named one of those women.

A noise in the hall outside her bedroom door made her body go rigid. Rohan. Her new husband.

He didn’t knock but simply opened the door and stepped into the room. She had met him that afternoon at the wedding ceremony, though neither she nor any other of the women had been given the opportunity to speak with the
Jalarans to whom they were being wed. He was still very much a stranger, and the sight of him was every bit as shocking as it had been earlier. He was a giant, perhaps six and a half feet tall, with massive shoulders, long muscular arms, and legs like tree trunks. His prominent brow and high forehead, corrugated as it was with bony ridges, seemed more suitable to an animal than a man. Above his forehead, a thick mane of wavy black hair hung to his shoulders, adding to his wild appearance.

His eyes were deep-set and dark, and his fierce gaze pinned her where she stood.

Resisting the urge to fold her arms across her chest, she raised her blond head, her blue eyes flashing defiance as she returned his stare.

He set a heavy leather satchel on the floor. His clothes, she guessed. He had a weapon hanging from his shoulder by a strap---a long, curved blade mounted on two shorter prongs that connected it to a horizontal handle, both long pieces honed to lethal points at the ends. He removed the weapon, along with the knife tucked into the scabbard tied at his waist, and set them beside the satchel. He broke the silence with a comment that made her flush.

“They told me you are not a virgin. Is that true?”

She nodded tightly.

“Then take off your furs so I can see you.” He spoke her language, but with a strong accent, the words sounding like a deep growl.

“It’s too cold,” she said. She had made sure it would be. “We have to conserve our fuel.”

It wasn’t exactly a lie. In the season of long nights, when the blood-red sun brought only a few hours of daylight, solar energy was nonexistent. So the large public rooms and corridors of their stone fortresses were as cold, according to legend, as the winter evenings on earth. Each of the small bedchambers had a fireplace, though, and in recent years, radiant heaters had been added.

At the moment, a small fire of solid fossil fuel burned in the grate as if it were the only source of warmth. After staring at the low flames, Rohan strode across the room, pulled aside a tapestry and found the heater control. Almost at once, the temperature rose several degrees.

He turned back to face her and loosened the fastenings down the front of his gray fur jacket. The jacket was of takkar pelts, she noted, the large and vicious shaggy predators that lived in the eastern mountains. Only the bravest warriors dared to hunt the beasts, and only a warrior who had killed one could wear its pelt. He shrugged off his trophy and tossed it onto the end of the bed, revealing an intricately embroidered shirt that stretched tightly across his massive chest. Her surprised gaze darted over the garment; she would have considered it much too fine for his primitive race.

Elena caught the scent of his body, recognizing it as the unfamiliar aroma that had teased her at the brief wedding ceremony. Rich and spicy, strangely appealing, it might have drawn her toward him if fear hadn’t kept her rooted to the spot.

Casually, he untied a drawstring at his waist and shed his leather pants, tossing them after the jacket. Seeing the form-fitting leggings he wore, which revealed every muscle of his taut body, she gave a small, inaudible whimper. It was impossible not to notice the large bulge at the front of the leggings. Just as impossible to suppress the shiver that raced up her spine. She was trapped in a bedchamber with this creature---this warrior---and he was between her and the knife.

His gaze challenged her. “You have fear of me. Why?”

“I’m not afraid of you,” she retorted, although it wasn’t true, of course. She
was
afraid of him---and of any man who would touch her.

It hadn’t always been so. Before she and Brice were married, she had enjoyed it when he touched her, though they had not made love. Then the doctors had put him on an experimental hormone treatment, hoping it would make him fertile. It hadn’t revived his dead sperm, but it had made him rough and rampant in bed. Her wedding night with Brice had been a nightmare, and the nightmare had continued, with agonizing frequency, until he was killed in a skirmish with the
Jalarans. She had faced his death with a mixture of sadness and guilty relief.

It was memories of the things Brice had done to her as much as it was fear of this huge and powerful alien that made her shudder when Rohan took a step toward her. Yet she stood her ground as he approached, and she met his gaze when he stopped in front of her.

He took her chin in his hand---not roughly, as she had expected---and lifted her face toward his so that she was forced to look into the depths of his dark eyes.

“Never lie to me,” he said. “And I will never lie to you.”

“I---” Her mouth was so dry she could barely speak.

“Did you make it cold in here so you could keep on your furs?”

Hesitating briefly, she nodded.

His hand moved from her chin and found the fastening to her robe, his large fingers seeming to sear the flesh of her throat as he worked the clasp. She dropped her gaze from his as the heavy garment fell away, pooling on the rug about her ankles, leaving her standing before him in a thin white gown cut high under her breasts. She knew it hid very little. She had wanted to wear something less revealing, but the gown had been chosen for her.

He sucked in a sharp breath. “You are too small to bear me sons.”

“That’s not true!” she retorted. “I---I’ve had every medical test the doctors could give me, and I’m one of the top candidates for pregnancy. That’s why they married me to Brice. And to you.”

He chuckled, a deep, startlingly splendid sound that filled the small room. “I’m sorry if I offended you. Are you saying you want to have my sons?”

She felt color flood her face. “I must do my duty.”

“Hmm. We will see if we can keep the getting of children from being too unpleasant.”

He was teasing her. She saw it in his eyes. Heard it in the rumble of his voice.

Elena frowned, puzzled. She hadn’t expected a sense of humor. She had expected him to throw her onto the bed and take her the way Brice had, over and over, until she hurt too much to move.

She didn’t know what he saw on her face as the painful memory assaulted her, but she caught a flicker of some unreadable emotion crossing his craggy features. He turned away from her and opened the control panel again, dimming the lights so that the soft pink glow emanating from the
Iannar stone walls was visible.

She watched as he put another measure of fuel on the fire and stirred the embers with the poker. Then he pulled several cushions off the chairs and arranged them at the end of the rug in front of the fire.

“Come sit with me here,” he said.

Glad he wasn’t dragging her into bed, she obeyed, kneeling on the rug, her face toward the flames. Still, her whole body was tense as he came down beside her. Instead of touching her, he settled himself comfortably, his back propped against the pillows and the wooden chest at the foot of the bed. Stretching out his long legs, he crossed them at the ankles.

“You’re not what I expected,” she said in a barely audible voice.

“What did you expect?”

She spoke hesitantly. “I’ve heard about the way your warriors fight. You kill as many of us as you can. And you fight to the death.”

“Honor demands it. Your people came here to steal our world from us.”

She shook her head. “That’s not true. We came by accident. Our ship was badly off course. We crashed, and then we had no way to send a message home. Do you think we would pick a place like this on purpose?”

“You do not like
Jalar?” he asked.

She raised her chin. “Humankind can adapt to anything.”

“Your people are proud. It gives you strength.”

She stared at him, surprised he understood so well.

Then his eyes narrowed. “But you have no right to steal our planet from us.”

She opened her mouth to protest, then closed it again. He was right. If the military force from the ship could have wiped out the
Jalarans, they would have.

“And now your race needs us,” he growled. “It is fortunate that you did not slay all of our warriors. We will give your women children, and you will teach us your technology. That is the agreement. You have things we need. Like the warmth in this room. Also, your medicines, your machines. They told me that you are a . . . botanist? Someone who adapts your plants to our environment.”

“Yes.”

“You are studying food productions. And new medicines.”

She nodded. Her work was exciting to her. It had become her life, the focus of her energy, throughout her dreadful marriage.

“Still, though I am here, and though we spoke words at a mating ceremony, you have not yet shared your knowledge with us.”

“I want to,” she answered in a small voice. “The Guardians must approve it.”

“Will they allow me to learn to be an engineer? I want to build dams that will harness the power of our rivers.”

“Yes,” she whispered. They had instructed her to tell him what he wanted to hear, but really, she wasn’t sure how much they would let him learn. The Guardians, perhaps of necessity, perhaps out of desperation in their battle to survive, had become secretive and, she suspected, devious. In the first months on Jalar, when it looked as if the natives might wipe them out, the colonists had given up their freedom to the military leaders who made decisions for the good of the colony. Those leaders had become the Council of Guardians, and the Guardians still controlled the colonists’ lives. She truly didn’t know how far the present regime intended to go in honoring their agreement with the Jalarans.

BOOK: THE OFF WORLD COLLECTION (Short, Steamy Science Fiction Romances) (Off-World Series)
12.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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