With his shady past, Jace didn't think any company would hire him as engineer on a research ship headed to Earth. His shipmates are willing to give him a chance to prove he's reformed -- except for the security officer, Tiana. From the moment they meet, she makes it plain she doesn't approve of him being aboard. It's hard enough when a crewmate loathes you, but it's even worse when she's the sexiest woman you've ever met.
Tiana hates everything Jace stood for in the past and she's not willing to believe he's turned his life around. As much as she wants him off the ship, she wants him in her bed. She can't trust him, but can she resist him?
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Heat of the Moment (Combustion 3)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2014 Kate Hill
As an Earth enthusiast, Jace had many favorites from the planet. For instance his favorite saying was "you can't please everyone".
That's especially true when you're an ex-con aboard a ship full of former military personnel and one in particular can't stand the sight of you. It's worse when she happens to be the hottest babe you've ever laid eyes on.
That was Jace's situation when he was hired as engineer aboard an exploration vessel headed for Earth. From the first, Tiana had made her disgust about his past known.
Wyatt met with the crew a week before the mission. Jace had already been provided with specs of the ship. He'd worked aboard similar craft and was quite familiar with that type of engine. While he loved the technical and travel aspects of his job, he was also very interested in the other members of the crew.
The first meeting took place in the boardroom at SkiesCo headquarters.
Wyatt, tall with reddish hair and a trimmed beard, was amicable and possessed an air of authority characteristic of most good leaders. Jace had no trouble taking orders from a younger guy like Wyatt. With his military career, the dude had done and seen just about everything, yet that didn't curb his enthusiasm for exploration.
Erica, the pilot, was young too -- not even thirty years old and damn cute, but again her reputation preceded her. The doctor, Carlos, appeared to be a laidback guy, with a charming smile and sparkling blue eyes.
Everyone seemed friendly, except for the security officer, Tiana. Her dark eyes fixed on Jace the moment she entered the room and kept shifting to him throughout the meeting. If looks could kill, Jace's heart would have stopped on the spot. It was bad enough to have a crewmate apparently hate you on sight, but it was even worse if she was incredibly gorgeous. Tiana was quite tall -- probably had couple of inches on Jace, since he was right around average height for a guy. Her black hair was arranged in a severe braid. There was no missing her sleek muscles and the gorgeous curve of her breasts and ass in her snug black jumpsuit.
At this meeting, they learned their mission wasn't merely to complete research, but to locate Benton Skies' son, Brock. He hadn't returned as scheduled from a previous mission to Earth.
Once the facts had been explained, Wyatt asked, "Does anyone have any questions?"
"Just one," Tiana said. "Since no one else is going to mention it, I will. What is he doing here?" She jerked her thumb in Jace's direction.
Jace should have known that he wouldn't fit in with all these upstanding citizens aboard.
"He's the engineer," Wyatt replied.
Tiana's gaze locked with the captain's. "I believe you know what I mean, but if you want me to spell it out, here goes. He's a criminal and you're putting him in charge of the function of our vessel. I don't understand."
"Jace is arguably the most skilled engineer in the galaxy," Wyatt replied.
"He was also an intergalactic drug smuggler who worked for the crime lord who planned to destroy our world."
"I blew the whistle on him," Jace said. Though he leaned back in his chair, outwardly relaxed, his gut clenched. This is what he'd been expecting. Getting hired, being accepted, it was too much to ask for.
"To save your own ass," Tiana said.
"Three years of hard labor wasn't exactly a cakewalk, honey."
"It was better than you deserved, sugar," she said with a curl of her lip.
The rest of the crew glanced from Tiana to Jace and back again, observing their trade of words like a tennis match.
"That's enough," Wyatt said. "I hope you don't plan to act like this aboard ship, because I won't tolerate it."
"I was only asking a question. I am the security officer, so the safety of the ship and crew is my main concern."
"And you consider me a threat?" Jace demanded. "I've been walking the straight and narrow since I was released five years ago."
"Well, good for you." Tiana shot him a look cold enough to make him shudder, if he was so inclined.
"You're the security chief, but I'm the captain. Everyone will respect everyone else while aboard my vessel. If you can't abide by that, then resign now so I can find a replacement."
No one spoke a word and Wyatt dismissed the crew.
On the way out of the building, Jace took a detour to the restroom. He didn't need to piss, but he did require a moment to collect himself.
The last time he'd been this nervous was just before he had squealed to the authorities about Zero Moon's smuggling ring and his intention to destroy their home planet, Pixie. Because of his part in saving the world, Jace was given a reduced sentence for his crimes -- three years of hard labor.
Sometimes he still shuddered to think about the experience.
After the life he'd led, he doubted anyone would give him a chance to prove himself, but for some reason Wyatt was willing to. Jace swore that the captain would never regret his decision.
At the sink, he splashed his face with cold water and dried it with a paper towel. He stood there for a moment, staring at his reflection.
The door opened and he was shocked when Tiana stepped inside.
"Can't you read?" he said. "This is the men's room."
"I heard." She strode toward him, took his face in her hands and covered his lips in a passionate kiss.