It's a very personal debt he isn't at all keen on paying.
The captain turned to him, her eyes doing a slow sweep of his body, taking his measure.
“How much?” she asked again.
Sair knew if he wanted to set foot on her ship, he had to show his hand. He reached for the front of his pants and tugged his coin pouch up past the waistband. He didn’t miss her cocked eyebrow before he took it in hand, offering it to her.
She shook her head. “Spill it.”
He poured the pouch’s contents into the cup of his good hand and held it out. It amounted to less than a hundred replas—what he’d stolen from the Ithian guard less what he’d paid the tender.
She perused the pile of gleaming gold markers and scattering of small gems then met his eyes. “It’s not enough.”
“I’ll pay the rest when you get me to my destination.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
He dumped the handful back into the pouch as she turned away. “Then what will it take, Captain?”
She turned back. Her eyes settled on his face before she spoke.
It's just business.
Sure, that's what he keeps telling himself, but the message his body is sending is something else entirely. Despite his traitorous biology, he refuses to let his guard down around the cold, commanding captain.
The captain walked a pace ahead, unconcerned about her exposed back, the picture of confidence. He admired the way her flightsuit snugged her tall, feminine figure. Her heeled boots added even more length to long, agile legs. His eyes moved up the back of her thighs to her hips. Interest spiked, and heat coursed through his body.
Sair glanced away, quelling the thought.
He can't get emotionally involved. He knows that. His life may depend on keeping a clear head.
Especially since Drea Mennelsohn might just be his only ticket to survival.
She's the daughter of famous--and now dead--ship designer, Zaviar Mennelsohn. Her late father's gift to her was her ship, Specter, a unique prototype--the only ship of her kind in existence. Specter can do some pretty amazing things, all thanks to her genius designer and incredibly adept captain. That matters, because the Ithians that Sair is running from are sophisticated cannibals bent on tracking him down, and Drea and Specter may be all that stand between his freedom and ending up on as the main course at an Ithian feast.
As Sair begins to recognize a different side of Drea, he develops feelings for her that only deepen with time. She has no qualms about selflessly putting everything on the line to shield him from the galactic superpower that's snapping at his heels.
Through their connection, he begins to sense her determination to keep him out of Ithian hands goes far beyond mere principle.
But does he dare interpret her actions as true affection?
Drea spoke again, her voice soft. “I meant that with a great deal of affection, Sair. I don’t want you injured.” She stepped forward and brushed his cheek with her hand.
“Sair.” His name came as a whisper on her lips. “Don’t get off on Helim. It’s not safe.”
Now truly disarmed, he looked into Drea’s eyes. Without conscious effort, his body swayed closer. He pressed his lips softly to hers.
When Sair learns he might not be what Drea is protecting from the Ithians at all, but a secret cargo she's carrying onboard Specter, he's got a new reason to worry. With his headprice soaring, his life is now completely in the hands of a suspected smuggler.
How long will it be before his worth to Drea is less than his escalating bounty? Or is it possible she's grown to care for him far more than any headprice the Ithians could offer?
And if so, what could that cost her?
I hope you enjoyed reading this glimpse of Captain Drea Mennelsohn through Sair's POV. There's a lot more to this ace pilot than meets the eye, as Sair will discover in the course of his quest.
If you enjoyed reading the excerpts, leave a comment telling us which of the three covers you think best captures the Sair-Drea dynamics and why, and we'll enter you in a drawing for a chance to win a gifted Kindle copy of Inherit the Stars Parts I, II and III as they're released. We'll choose a winner next weekend.
Have a great week!