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Copyright ©2013 Marteeka Karland
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The dimly lit bar was really nothing more than a gathering station for Lunar Colony's work force. They didn't serve alcohol and didn't even have an actual bar but rather tables scattered around, mainly for relaxing and enjoying the company of one's fellow workers outside a work environment. The food there tasted like shit. But one could live on it.
Bacia sat in the corner of the bar, watching everyone mingling with a critical eye. The same as she'd done every day of the three standard weeks she'd been moonside. Something on this colony wasn't right. Beyond any doubt, Bacia was convinced the mercenaries trying to sabotage and take over both Lunar Colony 1 and Mars Colony 1 were among the workers employed to construct them. The problem was finding the razor-toothed shru in the cossa leaves. They blended, hid, never revealing themselves until they struck.
Bacia wanted nothing more than to kill every last one of them before they did the same to the entire Lunar Colony.
The stark gray of the lunar landscape dominated the view port to her right, light spilling in during the lunar day. Careful to stay in the shadows, Bacia did her best to become a golamdun, the natural enemy of the shru. The golamdun watched, calculated, even let the shru take small nibbles of them, pretending defenselessness. Then, when the shru went in for the kill, the golamdun spit its poisonous venom, coating the vicious creature with a skin-eating acid that killed it. Slowly. Painfully.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the bar was so easily avoided. The man currently approaching her had been eyeing her almost from the first day she'd set foot on the station. Bacia didn't think he suspected she was actually the one in charge of security, but he definitely knew something was off about her. Pity, too, because he was a nicely formed male specimen. She'd hate to have to kill him.
He stood head and shoulders above everyone around her. Leather-encased thighs bunched powerfully with each stride toward her; burly forearms peeked from under the white tunic he wore. His upper arms were covered, the muscle they sported strained the material. His chest rippled underneath the stretched fabric, as did his stomach. Dark blond stubble graced a handsome face, and a dusting of golden hair covered all that golden skin. Had she been a woman interested in carnal delights, she'd have approached him days ago. As it was, she merely raked her gaze over him, hardly noticing the raw, masculine power and beauty headed her way. Hardly noticed at all.
"What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" His smile seemed to come easily enough, genuine even with the old pick-up line. Even limited as her knowledge of Earth culture was, Bacia had heard that one before.
"Ignoring men who can't come up with better lines than that one." She didn't smile, but her rebuff didn't seem to fluster the man in the least. Sitting smoothly, he took a pull from the water bottle he carried before setting it on the table next to her own.
"You come here every day, yet give everyone the cold shoulder. I, for one, am not buying it. You're after something." He leaned his forearms on the table, looking at her with the most intense expression she'd ever seen on anyone except maybe her father. "Perhaps I can help you with whatever it is you seek?"
Narrowing her eyes at him, Bacia studied him carefully. Was her cover blown? Did he suspect? "I'm here to work and make a living for myself. Nothing else. I come here because, at the moment, there is nowhere else to go."
"Your mouth says one thing, but your body quite another, pretty lady." The wicked wink he gave her did something funny to her insides and for a moment, Bacia wondered if he'd released some inhaled poison. But he had no mask or nose filter of any kind that she could see. "You like what you see when you look at me."
This was absurd. She shifted in her seat, careful not to give anything away. Her pulse rate had suddenly elevated, and she felt as if she couldn't breathe. "I'm sure you're imagining things. Had you not invited yourself to my table, I wouldn't have noticed you at all," she lied seamlessly.
No. It wasn't a lie! She had barely noticed him. Wouldn't have if he hadn't been the biggest man on the station. It was merely a tactical consequence, her noticing him. Had he been a normal-sized human, she would never have become aware of him.
A lascivious grin spread across his sensual lips. Bacia found herself fascinated by them all of a sudden. She couldn't seem to lift her gaze to meet his eyes, which she knew would get her into even more trouble. "Oh, I don't think so." He leaned closer to her. "I think right now you're wondering what my mouth would feel like over yours."
When her gaze finally snapped up she found his piercing blue eyes fairly twinkling with merriment. "I could tell by the way you licked your lips while staring at mine."
Horrified, Bacia sat up straight, back stiffening. "I did no such thing!" Even as she spoke, the cool air from the recycled air vent made her bottom lip tingle with the chill breeze. Unable to believe what she'd done, she lifted her hand to her mouth, the pads of her fingers brushing her lips tremulously.
The man chuckled lightly. "You're not used to flirting much, are you?"
"I never flirt," she replied absently, still unable to believe the turn of events. The damned man had her turned upside down after only a few short minutes in his company. This wasn't good. She had work to do. Always work...
"Look." She cleared her throat, trying to keep her voice from squeaking, though she could tell it hadn't worked. "I have no interest in flirting or anything else." She rose to leave, but he reached out to brush his fingers over her hand where she pushed up from the table.
"I'm sorry." He chuckled lightly, clearly unrepentant. "I just wondered who you were. Where you worked. I haven't seen you around the colony except when I'm here. Can I at least get your name?" His words seemed genuine, but then, that wicked gleam in his eyes and that sinfully wicked humor seemed to defy her good judgment. Bacia was a warrior. There weren't many men in her world who would risk her wrath to actually flirt with or tease her. She was deadly on the battlefield, but this wasn't in her realm of expertise.
Bacia tried to snap herself out of the spell he'd effortlessly woven around her with his sinful good looks and charming smile. He was seeking, wanting information. Was he on to her? Was he one of the mercs she was charged with hunting?
"Funny," she replied, trying to be as casual as he'd been. "I was going to say the same thing about you. Except this is the first time I've seen you at all." She had to struggle to add the lie this time. Tentatively, she stuck out her hand in the typical Earth greeting. He took it immediately. "I'm Bacia." Whether she wanted to admit it or not, she'd noticed him. Every single day since she'd been on Lunar Colony.
"Ah. Well, then, I guess I'll have to do my best to be more noticeable, yes? Jaxon, at your service, sweet." When he lingered holding her hand, Bacia tugged away from him. He sat back, his long legs stretched out in front of him, arms behind his head, looking as relaxed as anyone could be.
Bacia stiffened as she turned to walk away, managing to look over her shoulder only once as she did so.