Futuristic/Sci-fi Romance, 317 pages
Cover art by Rhobin Courtright
Blurb: Not letting Nickal claim his prerogative in the heat of an interrogation, Ithan spoke. "I claimed you to wife, Xandra, on the flight back to Abode."
Her reaction wasn't what either man expected.
She laughed, weak, spindly, but a laugh. "Bad luck just won't end, but this time, I'm sure yours is worse than mine, husband."
Within ten minutes they returned with the man and the parachute. The creases in their suits scattered trapped sand and pebbles as they moved into the heli. The pilot they brought with them wore a silver flight suit and a high altitude space helmet. The dark-lens view shield obscured the face. An oxygen tank hung from the chest straps of the flight suit, its tube running to the helmet.
"Strap in," came an order from their pilot. "It's going to be a bumpy takeoff." Everyone complied, leaving the body tethered to the heli's deck anchors. In a minute they were in the air.
"We are closer to Abode," Ithan shouted his order to his pilot as this area of the craft was far noisier. "Cancel the flight to Van Garth Habitat and head back to the Enforcer landing deck on Abode." He kept his attention on the pilot tied to the floor.
Noting the pilot's chest rose and fell in shallow breaths, he loosened his restraints despite a warning from Randall. Several hands reached out to restrain him as turbulence bounced the craft. Shrugging them off, he let his past medical training come to the fore. He heard numerous other restraint locks release. Ithan grasped the helmet's attachments, unlocked them, and began to slowly remove the helmet. "Get an oxygen mask ready, Randall," he looked at his men, "find out our estimated time to landing and warn the port." Carefully removing attachments and hoses from the helmet, he finally pulled it off.
"My God!" Randall said as he returned. "He's a girl."
Copper colored, short-cropped hair fell back from the face, and while clearly identifiable as female, whether attractive or ugly could not be determined due to facial bruising.
"Give me that." Ithan took the equipment Randall carried. As he lifted her head, the pilot's eyelids slowly opened and something tightened in Ithan's chest. She gazed at him through bloodshot eyes with startling dark, smoky-sapphire irises before passing out. Her bluish lips and too pale skin warned him of her danger. The bruise on the left cheek was dark purple, with a split lower lip, so older than any injury from the flight. He recognized a face punch when he saw one. Finished fixing the oxygen mask and a medical sensor in place, he shouted his order over the engine noise, "Emaciated… and hypoxic. Tell the pilot this is now an emergency flight, tell landing to have medical available for my wife."
Other voices fell silent around him broken a breath later by his bodyguard. Randall swore. "Are you crazy?" he asked, his voice an emphatic shout.
"Probably, but all of you are witnesses to my claiming this woman to wife."
"You don't even know if she is fertile," Randall protested.
As he took moves to secure his new wife's life, Ithan answered. "I'll take the chance. Most off-world women are. Help me get this flight suit off her."
As they revealed the life support garment underneath, two neck chains fell loose, one in an undecipherable language, the other a Colonial Pact ID.
"You stupid bastard," Randall said, looking at him. "Hastiness never earned good."