Bounty hunting is usually so easy. Flash a little cleavage, mix a roofie cocktail, and Juliet has her man right where she wants him: out cold, ready to be swapped for cash. Her passions are freedom, trashy clothes, and pie — not necessarily in that order.
Hunky alien ship captain Ragnar doesn’t deserve torture at the hands of the psychotic king who hired Juliet; he liberated one of William the Nefarious’ illegal concubines. Juliet can’t ignore such a noble act. She doesn’t trust men, but this one, with the kindest smile she’s ever seen, picks away at her resolve to stay aloof and clothed. He’s just so…nice! Crazy she can deal with; sincerity is terrifying.
Before she gives in to her irrational urge to get a timeshare with him (and his cute tail), they’re caught by the bad guys. Ragnar disappears and abandons her to her disgusting captors — so much for togetherness. Perhaps he’s not such a saint. Even worse, Nefarious William (who prefers “Bob”) has nominated her for Concubine of the Evening. This dubious honor does not thrill her, and only a few hours remain before the king’s mind-altering drugs obliterate her free will.
Sexual slavery might not be fatal, but Juliet would rather die. Of course, the third option (run away to a beach and hump Ragnar silly) is the best, if they can live that long.
The setup: This is mid-chapter one. It’s the year 2458. Juliet, a human bounty hunter, has located her mark, Ragnar. In order to better haul him in for bounty, she’s taken him back to her ship. He think it’s a hookup. He’s only semi-wrong…
“Are you supposed to have that tail, or were you cursed by a disenchanted ex?” Juliet splashed red wine into her best crystal wine glasses. She might have trampy taste in clothes, but she had Tiffany taste in everything else. Well, if Tiffany decorated bordellos. Awash in crimson stripe wallpaper; cherry furniture; and many, many books; her den, deep inside her ship the Valkyrie, resembled a late nineteenth century Earth whorehouse. Just the way she liked it.
Ragnar perched on her velvet loveseat, looking rather silly–all arms, legs, and leather. And tail. She couldn’t quite wrap her brain around that tail, but there were several other things she’d like to wrap herself around. In the flickering candlelight, he bulged in every good way a man could.
He’d peeled his leather jacket off to reveal a fitted tan shirt curving over a mamma-mia set of pecs. And the pants! If they clung any tighter to his backside they’d be made of paint. If she stared too long all her blood pooled south and she became quite dizzy. Pull yourself together! So he’s stupidly, asininely, deeply, wrongly hot. She would boink him into next week, then give him to King Whatshisface as planned.
“I’m supposed to have it.” He flashed that come-hither smile. She hithered herself over to sit beside him, wine in hand. It was the polite thing to do.
“Have what?” Lost in lustful thought, she had completely forgotten the thread of the conversation.
“Oh, yeah.” She took a calming sip of vino and pulled down on the too-high hem of her miniskirt. It didn’t budge. “What race are you anyway?”
“Alutian. From Alutia, a small planet in the Xanadu galaxy. We’re similar to humans and humanoids, but we have–”
Juliet’s mouth fell open as she examined him up and down. “And what?”
He fluttered the long eyelashes that men always seemed to have and picked up his wine. “I don’t know if I should tell you. You don’t seem to like my tail.”
She toyed with the rim of her glass. “Are you being coy? I have to ask because you’re not very good at it.”
Sighing theatrically, he shook his head. “All you humans are alike. Snobs.”
“I don’t think snobs show cleavage like this.”
“I don’t think you’re ready to know.”
Juliet grabbed the front of his shirt and shook him. “What is it? Gills? A hollow leg? A third nipple?”
“May I have more wine?” He waved the glass in front of her nose. Maybe he did know how to flirt. Juliet peered into his seemingly sincere eyes. They were really blue. And really mesmerizing. Who was this guy? She didn’t get flustered over just any space himbo.
Grabbing the glass from his hand, she stomped to the bar, biting down an absurd laugh all the way. She clicked her manicure on the polished mahogany as she poured the burgundy. No, no, no, no. She should not be talking to him so much. Horror of horrors: she liked him. Her tummy flip-flopped as she glanced at him, standing with his back to her, bending over her bookshelf. She liked him a lot. Pathetic that the best first date she’d had in ages involved a guy she would soon tie up and trade for reward money. Mmmmmm…tie up.
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