Ria Torr has a few hours to kill on space station Pyxis. The handsome Aktarian offering to buy her a drink makes those hours memorable and she nearly misses her departure schedule, a costly mistake for the Sarkian captain of the commercial freighter Telem.
Civil war is brewing in the Vidarian System and Royal Prince Gyrr Thrane's mission is peace. A rebel leader has requested a meeting on outer-station Zeon, but an official recognition of the rebels is impossible. Traveling incognito as a sex consort, Gyrr is unable to resist the Sarkian beauty. Once his mission is concluded, the Prince is determined to win Ria's heart and change their passionate quickie into a long-term relationship, but a Vek attack changes the lovers' parting.
Ria saves Gyrr's life and provides his transportation to space station Zeon. By the time the Telem docks, the sex consort has proved he is well suited for his choice of career.
The rebel leader's information is as unbelievable as sex with Ria. The Telem is transporting illegal weapons destined for Vidar and Ria's complicity is evident.
Betrayed by her crew and accused by the man she loves, Ria must prove her innocence despite the secret past that condemns her.
Buy it today ~ Read an excerpt from Deep Heat
Excerpt for Deep Heat
"We dock on Pyxis in one hour, my Lord."
Gyrr Thrane, Prince of Glacid, Lord Commander of the Outer Regiment, stamped his seal on the last of several official documents. Phase one of his mission, a covert journey to meet with Uyin, a Cheddian rebel leader, would begin the moment he disembarked. Pyxis, one of twelve distant, but busy skyports surrounding the Aktarian system, provided the perfect opportunity for a royal to assume a new identity. From Pyxis, he'd journey on to Zeon, a trading skyport at the edge of the Vidarian system. On Zeon, Portmaster Sy, a trusted ally, would provide security.
The prince rose, the weight of his mission heavy on his broad shoulders. Civil war could throw the Vidarian system into chaos. As Lord Commander his mandate was to maintain peace in the Outer Regions, to protect Aktares and its sister planets, Sark and Glacid. "I must prepare."
Husi, his aide-de-camp, plucked the documents from the prince's desk and secured them in a portable vault. A military attaché would transport them to Aktares. "I'm amazed your father supports this mission."
"Uyin demands the direct ear of my father. If nothing else, we'll finally learn the urgent need for this mission."
"I will pray for your safety. If your true identity were discovered and you were taken as hostage—you must be careful."
Despite Gyrr having attained the age of thirty-five, Husi worried over him as if he were still a boy driving his first rover. "I promise to be careful."
Gyrr inserted special blue contact lenses to disguise his silver-colored eyes while Husi retrieved a packed traveling valise. Gyrr began stripping off his clothes. All royal adornments and any item that identified him as such were discarded.
Removing the signet ring his parents had presented to him at eighteen, Gyrr reluctantly placed it in Husi's palm. Three ancient crystals decorated the ring, each representing the three planets of the Aktarian Federation. The treasured ring was a duplicate of the tiny ring placed on his elder brother's finger on the day of his birth. Gyrr had pledged his life to the Federation.
"If anything should happen to me, the ring is yours."
Husi closed his hand around the ring, holding it tight. "I should be going with you."
"Our friends and our enemies know wherever I am, you are close. I'm depending on you to convince them all I'm taking a meditation furlough. Assure everyone, I will attend the state dinner with the Vidarian Tetrarch as scheduled."
"No one will realize you are gone."
A relative of Gyrr's mother, Husi served as advisor, tutor and mentor from the day of Gyrr's fifth birthday. His Glacidian aide understood the dangers of traveling in the Zeon sector. The outer regions were plagued with enemies.
"So what cover have you and my mother invented? A merchant? A wealthy tourist?"
The plain white shirt, dark trousers and matching jacket Husi withdrew from the closet dismissed both.
"A communications expert? A trading specialist?"
While Gyrr dressed in the simple, but comfortable garments, Husi secured the signet ring in a vault and withdrew an assortment of documents.
"Queen Tayra and your father selected your cover." Husi held out a wallet. "Your Ident card, employment contract, and bank credits. Your name is Conr, Aden Conr."
"Common enough. My profession?"
Husi deposited the traveling valise next to the door. "Perhaps, you should familiarize yourself with the documents."
Gyrr flipped through the cards. The embedded photo on his identity card looked nothing like any of his official photos. Husi had dyed Gyrr's platinum-colored hair to the dark gold hue common to Aktarian males. The blue contact lenses he wore were designed to match his eye scan to the identity card bearing his cover name. Of all his siblings, he'd inherited more of his mother's features and could easily pass as a Glacidian warrior. For this mission, he needed to assume Aktarian styles and mannerisms. Aktarians and Sarks were far more common on Zeon than Glacidians. He needed to blend.
"A contract? I don't understand." Gyrr swallowed hard. "I'm indentured?"
"You're indentured to Sy, head of security and customs of the Zeon skyport. She has access to any and all ships and is authorized to land on any planet, moon, and skyport in the Aktarian and Vidarian Systems. Sy will pass any necessary messages to your father. If anything goes amiss during your travels, you'll be protected. Sy will pay well for the return of her property."
"General Sy, the Siluko?"
"Who better than your father's ally?"
"You should have informed me days ago. I could have used the time to reacquaint myself with the trading laws and regulations."
Husi smiled. "You are well versed in the skills required of you."
"Skills?" Gyrr read his profession. "A sex consort! Great Gods, the General is twice my age. My mother would never agree to this. Sy was my father's lover."
"Before your parent's marriage. That is why the cover is perfect. The General may be twice your age, but she contracts annually for sexual consorts. The timing is perfect. Last year's lover is on his way home as we speak."
"I'll never be convincing. When I'm with her, I'll think of my parents."
"I don't believe the General will expect you to fulfill your consort duties. Her proclivity for young, healthy Aktarian males provides a safe method for you to complete your assigned mission. That these young men tend to resemble your father will aid in your cover."
Duty first. Husi's reminder was reminiscent of his training as a youth. At sixteen, girls and sex had provided enough distraction to cause his parents considerable concern.
"At the General's side, you'll have total privacy and complete security for your meeting with the Cheddian. Your father doesn't want you walking into a trap. Certain factions could misconstrue your meeting as official support for the Chedds."
"And when the meeting is over?"
"Sy will express her dissatisfaction with you as a lover and contract with another consort."
"Dissatisfaction! I've never disappointed a woman."
"Remember, you're not Gyrr Thrane. You're Aden. Start thinking like the hired help. "
Gyrr shoved the documents into the inside pocket of his jacket. "I fuck for a living."