Becca, Reporting For Duty Excerpt:
Becca sat in the cozy snuggle chair in the gorgeous lounge assigned to the ship's Chief Engineer. She bit her lip, chewed her tongue, ground her teeth, and stretched her neck, but did not cry. She'd been on the Fire Lily barely two hours, but in that time she'd seen the elegant hallways, the pristine engine chamber, and a great deal of specs. It had all become clear.
The Captain had called in some sort of favor for her. He'd arranged this placement for her as a sort of gift, but it was nonetheless real. He'd whisked her here on a whim, thinking to please her, thinking she'd settle in with a skip and a sigh. Yes, Becca was clear on how deep the shit she now sat in was.
Really good sex had landed her in some sort of systems nightmare. A twenty-two-year-old almost-trained Junior Engineer had been handed the job of a twenty year veteran. She didn't entirely know how to solve any of the Fire Lily's priority issues, one of which involved life support.
Standing, Becca paced across the piled softness of the brown rug. In just a short while she'd be called to dinner with the Ambassador this ship served. She had friends, she had teachers, she had a good head on her shoulders. With some bluffing, some networking, and a ton of hard work, she could do this.
She looked blindly around the room's delicate gold-patterned walls. She wanted this ship. Becca Sharpin, Senior Chief of the Fire Lily, Politico Class Beta. It was perfect, more of a dream than she'd ever acknowledged. She wrapped her ponytail around its base to create a plain updo. Heart pounding, palms sweating, she once again put on her good green dress. How surreal that the last two times she'd worn it she'd ended up having sex.
She had to refer to her plax-page twice before she found the Ambassador's private suite. The door chimed and then opened. She gasped. Before her stood the most beautiful man she'd ever seen. In the short one page summary of Ambassador Etienne D'Noir, no mention had been made that he was a tweety. Or as they were more formally called, a winged-human.
Becca opened her mouth and squeaked.
He smiled and inclined his head. "Greetings, Ms. Sharpin. I'm delighted to meet our new Senior Chief Engineer." With a sweep of a heavily muscled arm, he gestured her in. "I am Ambassador D'Noir, but I prefer Etienne." His deeply muscled, bare torso rippled like the sea.
Becca stepped inside and jumped when the door closed behind her. The room was a blur of tasteful creams and greens. The only notable thing was the height of the ceiling which was considerably taller than most ship designs allowed.
"Please come in." He moved toward the center of the room, which had the newest style of waist-high lounge chairs around a tall table. His wings trailed behind him in sweeping glory. He pulled one of the raised chairs free and held out his hand. "How delightful that your coloring tonight matches the room. How deep did your research go, Ms. Sharpin?"
Becca stared at his hand for a full three seconds before she realized he was offering assistance. She put her fingers against his and almost moaned at the light shocks zinging up her arm. Keeping her gaze off his bared torso and perfect face, she focused on breathing. Once she perched in place and he sat next to her, not across from her, in a soft rustle of feathers, he asked, "Is your suite adequate? Please, you must tell me if there is anything you require."
Becca licked her lips. Mistake. She could almost feel her lips swell with the desire to taste him. What was it about her lately that made her think of every man as a potential partner? His face was chiseled, and the huge muscles that filled his smooth chest flexed. He had acres of golden-tan skin much darker than Becca's own cream, and hair that was more white-blonde than hers. His eyes were slanted, large and a soft purple. His wings were two delicate arches of cascading sandy feathers. Tweeties couldn't fly, a human's mass being too great for the wing structure, but their wings did regulate their body heat. She wanted to touch them so badly her fingers twitched.
He folded his perfectly toned arms on the table and considered her in an open, patient way. About two minutes later, her blush well lit, she realized she hadn't yet said one word.
"I have a confession to make, Ms. Sharpin."
Her lashes actually fluttered. His voice was low, with an accent that settled right into her hips.
"I'm staring because I'm fascinated. You see, I am aware of what a reference from Captain Fesner entails, and I'm also aware of how a recommendation from Senior Chief Walters is earned. However, you are so clearly intelligent, yet naïve. You're nothing like the hard, manipulative, arrogant woman I've seen emerge from that pair before."
If her blush of attraction had heated her before, she now must be white as a ghost, because the rush of blood draining from her head made her dizzy. Her fingers stiffened with cold. She opened her mouth, then shut it, stricken.
"So I'm wondering if perhaps you've had a chance to look over Fire Lily's technical needs, and what you thought of them?"
She blinked. Just like that, he declared he knew she was a fraud, and in the next breath, continued like he believed her capable. She swallowed, and unfortunately, it was audible. Showtime. Right here and now, she could speak informatively about the tasks before her, and bluff until she found a way to finish the projects. Or she could look this beautiful tweety in his lilac eyes and tell him he needed a real Senior Chief. With a little time and luck, she thought she could do it, and then she'd have the position of her dreams. But did she really want to gamble with the fourteen lives on this ship? Truth, or Dare?
"I'm not ready." Her voice came out low and rough, but instead of seeming craven, she sounded a bit sexy. She smiled, sort of, in a lop-sided, sad way. "I'm close, but I need more training, especially regarding propulsion and life support, which are your two biggest issues."
Etienne's brows rose. "Ah." He sat back in the chair, rubbing one finger along his lower lip thoughtfully. "And yet you came here, to my ship."
She pressed her lips together tightly. "The transfer was all rather surprising. I think Jake thought he was doing me a very large favor. I apologize." She had learned under Leo, but what she'd really excelled at was getting screwed.
Etienne leaned forward and pulled up a large goblet of red wine from the chiller at the table's center. "Am I correct in my understanding of how women earn large favors from Jake?" Etienne's wings flared wide, then forward.
Becca gasped to watch strange muscles dance and bunch on his chest. The feathers brushed over her back and enclosed them in a private space.
"And Leo? After a mere two weeks on the Cider Pot, Leo was willing to sign your certification. That's an extraordinary measure of… respect, Becca."
She couldn't deny the relationships he so clearly knew about. "If I could just have a career in sex, life would be easier." Her uncomfortable laugh fell awkward in the elegant room, like a jammed planetswing bouncing a ship across the atmosphere.
His finger traced around and around the lip of the wine glass. Easing the tip down into the wine, he lifted it, lapped a red drop off his finger, and then went back to circling the rim. "I think you are extremely unusual. And I am beginning to think you have incredible potential."
His voice, with its soft, exotic inflections, traveled right to her core. Her heart danced with the combination of it, his gaze, his wings, and his hypnotic toying with the wine.
"Let me ask you something, Becca. Answer immediately and with honesty." His finger dipped into the wine again. "What do you crave at this moment?"
"To touch your wings," she breathed instantly.
"That's what I thought." His finger left the wine and darted forward, resting with a hot pulse in the center of her lower lip. "Open."
She did, and he slid his whole finger deep along her tongue.
She did, lightly, lashes fluttering at the taste, the shock. He tugged and with one last ripple of her tongue, she set him free.
He went back to circling his wine glass. "Yes." He stared at her, again with fascination. "You're a good fuck, aren't you, Becca? You like sex. You like power, and sometimes you like sharing. Sensation makes you feel alive, and the adrenaline of taking a lover, maybe even taking a lover you barely know, really lights you up. You're quick on your feet, curious and confident."
He swirled the wine and took a large mouthful. Lips parted, he savored it, rolling the liquid in his open mouth, tongue flicking sensuously. Watching her, he swallowed. "Am I right?"
She had no idea what was going on here, but it was making her wet. She reached out and took the goblet from his languid grip. "Yes." She took a big swallow of his wine. It wasn't any type she'd tried before, spicy and smooth, lighting her up faster and harder than Leo's whiskey ever did. She gasped, breathed through the burn and grinned. "Wow. Everything about you is good."
Surprising her, he grinned back. "I think you're in the wrong line of work."
"Oh?" She leaned forward until her breasts rested on the table, toying with the base of her stolen glass. "I enjoy the intricacies of systems work. I want to be in charge, but I don't want the bureaucracy of captainship or security, and I definitely want to travel. I think I'll do ok."
He nodded, leaning forward as well, his wings nearly surrounding the table. If she tipped her head, her cheek would brush up against the silky feathers so close. "Have you ever considered being a concubine?"
Her eyes narrowed, but she held her tongue, breathing hard. "Have you?" she quipped in return.
"I am one." His eyes had deepened to amethyst in the privacy he cast around them. And his gaze was entirely serious.
"You're an ambassador." Becca studied his face. Ambassadors were respected, honored mediators. They often put their life on the line to settle disputes of all types, including political, financial, familial, and racial.
"I trained for three years as a concubine first. All ambassadors have. Well, all the successful ones at least." He winked. "Why would you want to get greasy and struggle with constantly changing technology, when you could live in luxury and have sexual pleasure along with the mental challenge that negotiations provide?"
Becca sat back, deliberately trying to distance herself from the cozy island he'd created. "A concubine." She had only a dim recollection of one of her boyfriends sending her a plax-page article on them. It had been a vid of their "sexual secrets and fashion raptures." They'd all looked very inter-worldly and blasé. Her main impression was that they were high-end whores. York had not legalized them.
He sat back, too, unsettling her by withdrawing his wings. With a flick, they settled behind him. "I shall continue to interview for a Senior Chief, but I'm quite taken with you. I see great promise and I need an apprentice."
She took up his fancy wine and took three unsophisticated but much-needed deep swigs. Gasping, she slammed the glass down. "And would being your apprentice require us to have sex?"
He inclined his head. "But of course. However, I should caution you that unlike with Jake, sex with me comes with no promise of future favors. You either earn your approval into the guild or you are freed to attempt another line of work."
Copying him, she circled her fingertip around the rim of the glass. The slick coolness settled her. "You're saying that being a concubine could open success for me faster than finishing my systems certification."
He called up another glass of wine. "I am. Being a concubine is a fascinating occupation in and of itself, but if you truly are as intelligent and dynamic as I think you are, you'll use it as a springboard to one of several other careers."
She reached into the wine glass and dipped her middle finger. The wine was thicker than expected. She lifted a drop on her finger and reached out, not for his face, but for his magnificent chest. Rubbing his nipple, she stared as his unusual pecs twitched. "How many apprentices have you had?"
"How many of those have you failed?"
"Smart lady." He gently took her wrist, lifted her hand up to his mouth, and nibbled on her throbbing fingertip. "Two." His eyes dared her.
Breasts pulsing, thighs itching, fingers still dying to stroke his wings, Becca struggled to control her breathing. "I want you."
"Ah, but Becca, the reason I'm taking you on is because I see the potential for you to want, and appreciate, every person who comes before you. And that is the mark of a truly great concubine." He took her fingers and folded them flat with one hand, while holding her wrist.
Pressing a kiss to the center of her palm, he scored his teeth along the rise of muscle at the base of her thumb. "A truly powerful concubine controls planets instead of mere ships." He sucked her thumb into his scalding mouth. The wet heat and slick flesh shocked her, like she'd penetrated something secret.
Her head wobbled on her neck.
"Will you come with me, Becca? My next assignment takes me to Xclesio-o."
She gasped. She'd always wanted to go to the matriarchal, sexually charged planet.
He sucked her pinkie, and her spine slumped. "Try me. If you dare." His words were light, coy, but she knew this offer was momentous.
Sliding off the perch of her tall stool, she swung his seat out so that he faced her. She stepped up between his legs and stroked her hands up his thighs in their thin, silky pants. He bowed down to meet her upturned face.
He kissed her lightly, and she shivered in the breeze of his stirring wings. "Yes, Becca Sharpin?"
"I'll be your apprentice."
A reader review from willowlox:
"Becca was a fun read. It's just like the old choose your own adventure books, only sexy! I
could wind my way thru the scifi picking the plot twists I wanted for Becca."
"It was a quick, fun read full of danger and adventure, and I could never quite guess what
was going to happen next. There was one scene in particular I encountered that I found
especially hot because I was so totally not expecting it."