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Desire 3: Garden Of Desire

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Garden of DesireEllora’s Cave
Genre: Futuristic
Format: eBook

“Ms. Devlin has great talent for writing HOT HOT HOT sex scenes and the characters in this book are intriguing and well developed.”
4/5 Rating, Amber Taylor, JERR on GARDEN OF DESIRE

“…Ms. Devlin has penned an erotic adventure that will leave you smiling. This wonderful blend of humorous dialogue, vivid descriptions, and exceedingly hot sex make GARDEN OF DESIRE a must read.”
5 Flames, Kathi, Sizzling Romances on GARDEN OF DESIRE

Ex-pirate Cantor Marlowe is drowning in femininity. Perfumes assail him morning, noon, and night. And the voices! High and trilling when calling to attract his interest. Low and throaty when whispering dark and sexy promises in his ears. Loud and strident when bringing their never-ending complaints for him to resolve.

As the governor to a fledgling colony, Cantor and his fellow pirates have entered into a pact to set down roots, self-govern without Dominion interference, and raise families on an uninhabited planet at the edge of the known galaxy. Who would have thought the ex-cons they liberated to make their wives would have so much to complain about in paradise? ‘Tis no wonder Cantor itches to go a-pirating.

Martha knows how to pick a lock. What the little thief can’t figure out is how to steal Cantor’s heart. When Cantor’s head is turned by the arrival of an innocent harem girl, Martha fears she’s lost her chance at love until the girl turns to Martha for a little lesson in love.

Excerpt

Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.

Chapter One

The pirates descended on the hapless transport ship like sleek, deadly wasps.

Wearing flexible breathing apparatuses belted to their backs and jet chaps strapped to their thighs to propel them forward, they swarmed toward the docking portal. With any luck, they’d be inside in minutes and the treasure aboard the ship would be theirs for the taking!

The magnetic soles of Cantor Marlowe’s boots connected with the hull beside the portal. He pulled his electro-stun gun from its holster and his laser sword from its scabbard. “Are we in?” he asked, leaning close to the man hunched next to the portal.

“I’ve bypassed the ship’s security programming,” Ivan, the Raptor’s science officer, said. “Just give the signal.”

Cantor looked over his shoulder at the rest of the breaching team hovering nearby and signaled for them to converge. “Ivan, now!”

The outer door slid soundlessly open, and Cantor stepped inside followed by the first few members of his team. Ivan worked his techno-magic to close the outer portal door behind them. Hopefully, he’d also managed to shut off the sensors that would alert the transport ship’s crew they had been boarded.

Once the dial on the wrist of his space suit indicated the pressure within the portal had returned to a normal level, Cantor pressed the button next to the inner hatch. He didn’t have to tell the crew to ready themselves; this was a drill they’d repeated together many times over the past years.

He stepped quickly through the door into a darkened cargo hold. Immediately, the hairs on the back of his neck rose. Obeying his well-honed instinct for danger, he shouted, “Take cover!” to the crew and dove to the floor behind a pallet of goods. An explosion tore through the cartons stacked in front of him. A quick glance behind and he saw his men were trapped inside the portal, unable to enter the hold. “Ivan, Darak! Wait for my signal!”

He crawled around the pallet on his belly until he could see a burst of rapid laser fire aimed at the hatch. A second burst from the same spot made Cantor wonder whether they faced only one weapon. He looked to a tall line of storage bins. Noting there was space between the containers and the wall, he rose to his feet and crept to the end of the row. There, he found himself standing in a spot just behind the shooter.

“Dammit, Cantor!” Darak’s voice broke loudly in his helmet’s embedded receiver. “What’s taking you so long? Shall we abort?”

“Quiet!” Cantor whispered. “I almost have him.”

The figure squatting behind a forklift took aim once more at the open hatch. He was cast in shadows, his profile blurring in the darkness. When he squeezed off the next shots Cantor launched himself, taking the man and his weapon to the floor.

They rolled together once, then surprisingly, the man ceased to struggle beneath him. That was when Cantor realized something his body had noticed almost immediately-the person beneath him possessed distinctly feminine curves.

Cantor stretched himself over the woman, trapping her arms and legs with the weight of his own limbs. He hit the latch on the side of his helmet and raised the shield, baring his face to get a better look at what lay beneath him.

The woman’s eyes were wide and her breaths came shallow and fast. She was a comely lass with strong, even features and a mouth that framed each gusting breath in a delectable ‘O’.

“Sweetheart, I’m not going to hurt you,” he said, willing his voice to remain soft and soothing while blood surged south to his unruly cock. “We’re here to relieve you of some of your cargo, then we’ll leave peacefully.”

“You’ve caught yourself a woman?” Darak said, his voice crowing in his ear. “Bloody hell!”

The woman, unaware of the chatter coming from his headset, darted a glance at his lips, then her gaze locked with his. Her features lost their fearful edginess to be replaced with a soft, blushing awareness that transformed her wary, blue gaze to half-lidded desire.

“Well, what have we here? Aren’t you a pretty lass?” Despite his best intentions, his cock lengthened, nudging the top of her thigh.

Her eyes widened again and he cursed. His lusty perusal had terrified her-or so he thought until her thighs shifted underneath him and her sex settled directly under his.
The woman’s head thrashed, and she made a good show of struggling against the arm that anchored her two hands to the floor high above her head-but her hips circled, rubbing his hardening flesh. “Let me go!” she said, her voice sounding husky. “What are you going to do with me?”

“Oh brother!” Darak groaned in his ear. “Tell me, you have the situation well in hand and we can proceed.”

Cantor lifted his chest from hers and smoothed his free hand over the full globe of her breast. “I have this one well in hand.”

The minx beneath him grinned and he tweaked her nipple, surprising a gasp from her. He sealed his mouth over hers and she moaned and rubbed her breast against his palm.

The Captain might have his ballocks in a vise later for taking the time, but Cantor couldn’t resist a little bout of plundering to accompany the day’s pirating. He reached for the snap at the top of his suit.

The woman pushed him to his back and smoothed apart the edges of the fabric. A small, warm hand slid beneath his suit and skimmed down his abdomen toward his cock–

Cantor Marlowe awoke to the sensation of a silken hand gliding over his cock. Was he still dreaming? Please, let it be so. Burrowing into his pillow, he kept his eyes firmly closed and reached for the wispy vapor trail of his last pirating jaunt.

The sheets rustled and the mattress dipped beside his hips. Another small, soft hand encircled his shaft. Lifting one eyelid, he peeked down the bed and found the outline of a huddled figure beneath his covers that hadn’t been there the evening before.

Too late to protest, he sighed in resignation. Already, blood pooled in his loins and his balls tightened in their sac. The question now was which of the 378 women of his tiny colony had picked the lock on his door.

Who possessed the criminal talent? In his mind, he searched the list of unclaimed women.

Kirsten? Megan? Masha? Jennifer? Linda? Ulana?

A hot, wet mouth closed over his balls and his hips rose, defying his need to control at least his own body. As her tongue laved his balls, her lips tugged and caressed until his cock ached for attention.

Which of the women with a talent for locks had pursued him relentlessly over the past weeks?

Allie? Pingat? Briana? Jasmine?

Then the hands encircling his shaft began to pump up and down aided by the moisture of her tongue as it flickered above and below her sliding palms. His breath deepened and his pulse revved like a Synth-tech engine. Such a talented little mouth and hands. Better than most he’d experienced over the past months.

Valerie? Martha? Kamilia?

Soon she’d pop above the covers and straddle his hips, sure of her welcome after her labors. And led by his ballocks like all of the exhausted men of the colony, he would do nothing to discourage her.

Some days he wondered how his poor over-used cock hadn’t developed calluses.

The blanket shifted and a lock of strawberry blond hair appeared beneath the edge, catching the early morning sun filtering through his curtained windows. Martha!

He shivered. That one was forever following on his heels, much like a spaniel he’d owned as a child. He’d thrown sticks over fences, down ravines, into neighbor’s yards, attempting to elude the loyal dog, but she’d always tracked him to his hiding places-just like Martha.

The dog had slept, curled atop his feet at night, leashing him even in his dreams. Leashing him as tightly as Martha would-if he couldn’t escape her.

He dragged the cover from her head and her brown, puppy-dog eyes winked a moment before her mouth sank down the length of him. A mouth and tongue that swirled in dizzying circles over the head of his cock.

What was a man to do? Grasping her beneath her arms, he pulled her up his body and rolled, pinning her to the bed. “Imagine my surprise to find you here this morning, Martha.”

“Are you mad?” she asked, sounding breathless, her eyes giving him that soulful look that could make a man kick his own ass.

“I locked the door,” he said, his tone dry.

Her pale pink lips curved into a mischievous smile. “Locks are a specialty of mine. I thought it was a test.”

“A test?”

“Mmmm-hmm. To see which of the women is the cleverest.”

“Well, you are clever. But I put the lock on the door to assure my privacy.”

Disappointment furrowed her brows. “Oh. Sorry.” She held her breath.

Inwardly, he groaned. “You’re forgiven-this time.”

Her eyes pooled with tears and her cheeks grew a lovely pink. “Does that mean you don’t want-”

His insides knotted. Women’s tears had a way of undermining his resolve. “Course not.” He added a small tight smile to ease her embarrassment. “You have to finish what you started, love.”

With an eagerness that crowded his heart, Martha wriggled to free her legs and bring them up along side his hips. His wayward cock appreciated the effort and nudged her slick folds.

Martha’s shiny, moist lips opened on a winsome sigh, and she lifted her head to kiss him. At the same time, she tilted her pelvis to take him inside.

Cantor groaned, this time loudly, and drove deep. Despite the constant assaults on his manhood, he still appreciated the warm, wet glove of a woman’s body.

He relaxed, enjoying Martha’s soft sighs, the cushion of her lush breasts, and the gentle gliding rhythm they quickly found. She smiled up at him and he kissed her forehead-an affectionate peck, only. No sense giving the girl false hopes.

Martha’s eyes narrowed and her sweet cunt rippled and clutched at his cock. He panicked and pulled out again, but then blamed the treacherous flesh between his legs when he had to thrust back inside.

Her head rose and she latched onto his lips, eating his mouth, smoothing her full, sweet lips over his, suctioning to keep him glued to her.

Cantor gasped into her, and she finally let him come up for air. Her smile was wide and her gaze glittered with challenge. Suddenly uneasy, he thrust harder, faster-racing her to the finish.

Although braced above her body on his arms, she wrapped herself like a python around his body, her pretty, rosy-brown nipples tangling in his chest hair, her arms clutching his neck, her legs wrapped so tightly, he had nowhere to go but deeper inside her.

Worse, she never shut her eyes. Those large, shimmering pools reflected his destiny in their depths. The harness of his responsibilities cinched tighter. Sweat broke on his forehead. He shut his own eyes to close the woman out of his thoughts, concentrating instead, on her rising moans and the tightening grip of her fingers on his shoulders. Let her be some faceless, nameless creature of delight rather than a flesh and blood woman with emotions and needs he felt inadequate to meet. Gauging every thrust and twist and dip of his hips, he worked to bring her quickly to fulfillment.

“Cantor! Cantor!” she soon chanted, invading his head again, when he wished awareness of only the pulsing bands of muscles that clasped his cock, rippling along the sides of his shaft. Suddenly, she gasped and then mewled, her body melting to the mattress as her orgasm shuddered through her body.

Then he was free! His body jerked and spasmed with his release, while his mind soared. If only for a few moments, he was master at the helm, once again chasing after the stars.

A giggle from the woman beneath him brought him back to himself, and he realized he’d collapsed on top of her. Her hands stroked his back. It was a pleasant, comforting sensation-soothing, binding.

He reared away and their bodies parted. Rolling to his back, he stared at the rough plank ceiling of his cottage. Martha nestled her body close to his, resting her head upon his shoulder.

Feeling much more relaxed, Cantor pondered his present predicament. Martha was a sweet thing, but cloying and overeager. Every time he turned around-there she was. If he had to choose a mate, he’d prefer someone less needy, less clinging. Thus far, he hadn’t found that woman.

When he’d first taken on the job as the governor of their small colony, he’d seen only endless possibilities for the community’s growth and had reveled in the mating, sure he’d find a lass or two to serve as helpmates. When had the joy gone out of his job?

He reached around and slapped her ass. “Wench! Be off with you now. I’ve work to organize.”

Martha walked her fingers up his chest. “We could play hooky today. You’ve labored so hard, no one would blame you.”

Closing his hand over hers to prevent any further exploration, he infused his words with regret, “A transporter’s arriving from Arturia. I’ll have my hands full directing the last of the women to their new quarters and seeing to the disposition of the stores.”

She sighed loudly and sat at the edge of the bed, her back to him. “One of these days, Cantor Marlowe, I’m going to prove to you I’m what you’ve been looking for.”

Despite his troubled thoughts, Cantor couldn’t help admiring her firm, straight back and the feminine flare of her hips. Martha was a lovely lass. But too persistent. “Be sure to lock the door as you leave.” He needed a few minutes of blessed solitude.

Martha glanced over her shoulder and wrinkled her nose, then pulled her shift over her head. “Would you like me to come back later to wash the bedding?”

“That won’t be necessary.”

Her gaze dropped to the floor. “I don’t understand you. You want to keep this cabin and your bed all to yourself, when every other man on this planet is greedy for as many women as he can keep.”

He didn’t respond to her observations. They were too accurate. Her insight made him uneasy and restless. Why wasn’t he content? He had his choice of women-Martha being among the most beautiful-but all he felt was smothered by her desires and attentions.

Subdued, and with a shadow of sadness in her eyes, Martha walked to the door and turned the bolt. She opened the door a crack, and then turned back one last time. “If you lock the door tonight, I’ll consider it an invitation.” With a lift of her chin and a feminine flutter of her fingertips, she slipped out.

Alone at last, Cantor drew in a deep breath and sighed, flinging his arms wide over the bed. Solitude in paradise was a rarity, but even alone, the women left their mark. Martha’s sweet, floral scent filled his nose, overlaying Ulana’s cinnamon aroma and Pingat’s wildly erotic musk.

Cantor was drowning in femininity.

Perfumes assailed him morning, noon, and night.

And the voices! High and trilling when calling to attract his interest. Low and throaty when whispering dark and sexy promises in his ears. Loud and strident when bringing their never-ending complaints for him to resolve.

Who would have thought women would have so much to complain about in paradise? And his fellow ex-shipmates weren’t any help in the matter, either. They encouraged the women to take their problems to him, all the while laughing up their sleeves at his growing frustration.

‘Twas no wonder he itched to go a-pirating and was the main reason he’d built his cabin apart from the others. Yet even now he heard the echo of the women’s voices. They haunted him.

No, the voices were coming up the path to his cabin! Cantor jackknifed to a sitting position and scrambled off the bed, searching the floor for his clothing. If they found him as he was, he’d have a devil of a time avoiding a second round of morning sex.

Oh, the sacrifices he made to ensure the contentment of the inhabitants of the little colony.

* * * * *

Cantor slipped down the forest trail, having eluded the women at his door by sneaking out his private entrance. He’d built the bolthole beneath his woodbin himself to ensure it remained a secret.

Escaping the women’s clutches wasn’t quite the same as leaving a Dominion cruiser in his space dust, but it was enough of a victory to lighten his steps. He cut through the forest, pushing aside fronds from lacy ferns and kicking at the vines tangling with his feet.

Forging a new path through the forest’s thick undergrowth where no human foot had trod before, he followed a low ridge he suspected ran parallel to the trail leading back to the settlement, enjoying the quiet woodland and the ripe scent of vegetation made damp by the morning dew.

Alone, with only the sound of his footsteps crunching on a carpet of dead leaves and twigs to keep him company, he reached a promontory of bare rock overlooking the valley the colonists had claimed for their own. He paused at the edge to look through a thin mist at the place he was reluctant to call home. This place was placid, bucolic-not the prow of a cruiser slicing through clouds as it sailed toward the stars. Cantor wasn’t ready to drop his anchor at this shore-regardless of the beauty of the place before him.

A river ran through the center of the settlement. On the far bank were the rough-hewn longhouses and a few individual cabins that housed the inhabitants. Beyond the settlement stretched an open field ending in a bluff that looked over a sea of azure blue.

On the side of the river nearest him lay green, grass-covered meadows and brown patches of newly turned soil. Directly beneath him, massive Moldan yaks grazed alongside Earthen sheep and goats. The herds were small, but already several animals were heavy with the promise of the next season’s bounty.

“Hallo!” A voice drifted up and Akron, pirate-cum-shepherd, waved his staff. With his long bushy, red hair brushing the tops of his massive shoulders he looked like the ancient Highlanders of his heritage.

Cantor broke into a grin and waved back, then climbed down the rocky hillside to the meadow below.

“Good morrow, Governor!” Akron called out as he approached. “Did you lose yer way along the path?”

Cantor leveled a narrow-eyed gaze at his grinning friend. “I decided to do a little exploring.”

Amusement glittered in the big man’s eyes. “You must have just missed the women. They were headed yer way with new curtains for yer cabin. If you hurry, you might catch them.”

“Leave off!” Cantor said, giving the burly man a shove. “I’ve been given three sets of curtains since I finished the cabin. How many do they think I need?”

“Ah, but these are far superior. Kirsten made them,” Akron replied, his tongue firmly in his cheek.

Kirsten! Bloody hell! Cantor groaned, recalling the tall, amply built woman. “The curtains are probably made of leather she chewed herself to soften.”

Akron’s dark eyebrows drew into a frown. “Yer a lucky man to have a braw, hardy girl like that one.”

“She’s not mine,” he said quickly, feeling the need to nip that misconception in the bud. “If you’re interested, you’re welcome to her.”

Akron eyed him with disgust. “No woman will give me a second look with yer handsome puss around.” He pulled the waistband of his trousers and leered, “Now, if they could see me without me breeches, it’d be a different story. I didn’t earn the nickname ‘Bull’ for the size of me shoulders, alone.”

“I’m surprised you’ve kept your pride hidden in your pants all this time.”

“Ach! Leave off, yourself,” Akron said, flushing.

Cantor rubbed his chin for a moment. “But there’s your solution. You’ll have to let the woman see you starkers.”

“How the hell am I supposed to do that?” Akron asked, aghast. “I’m not like the rest of those randy boys. I wouldn’t want to show the whole planet me arse!”

“Certainly not all the planet. Let’s see.” Cantor gave his friend a speculative glance. “You’re a man of the land now. And a hunter.”

“Only of small game. I’ve set a trap or two.” Akron looked a bit worried.

“Well, you’ve got to become a predator. Stalk the woman night and day-but don’t let her see you. Or she’ll think you’re pervert.”

“Not me!” Akron bristled. “Why I don’t even polish me own rocket.”

“No?”

“Never mind that,” the blushing man said quickly. “Go on.”

“Get to know her habits. If she goes to the showers at a certain time, you be there first. If she washes her clothes in the river, you be there-”

“Takin’ a bloody bath!” Akron’s ruddy face beamed. “Aye, lad. I think you have it.”

Cantor stepped back and let out a breath. Would that all the problems presented him today would be as easily solved. He just hoped the woman didn’t appear on his doorstep complaining of a stalker in their midst! In the meantime. “Do you think I’ve time to make it down the trail before they’re done?” Cantor asked, looking up the path leading to his cabin.

“If you hurry. Perhaps, I can distract them. Do you think it would look odd if I were to take off me clothes to get a bit of a suntan?”

Cantor blinked then bit the inside of his mouth to keep from laughing. “I think they might be worried for the sheep, if you did.”

“Oh!” Akron’s eyes widened. “Oh!”

“Yes, well I’d better be off. Good luck to you.” He meant it. With Kirsten occupied, he’d have one less woman to avoid. He turned to walk down the hill.

“Wait, Cantor!”

Cantor glanced back, and then halted at Akron’s serious expression. “What is it?”

“I meant to tell you something before you sidetracked me.”

“I sidetracked you? You’re the one waving your ballocks at the sheep!”

Akron flushed, and then his face grew solemn. “I hate to lay another problem at yer feet, but I don’t know what to make of this.”

“Out with it.”

“Two of my sheep have gone missing in as many weeks.”

“Perhaps they wandered off,” Cantor said with a shrug.

“Sheep wander together, and I’ve checked all the gullies to see if any were injured or trapped. They’ve simply vanished.” Worry etched his face. Akron was devoted to his herd.

Cantor gave the problem a moment’s consideration before replying. “We’ve seen no sign of any wild animals large enough to take a sheep. So who the hell would steal communal mutton?”

“It’s a puzzle.”

Looking out over the green pasture brightened by the rising sun, it was hard to imagine anything disturbing this bucolic scene. “Have you found any signs of an animal being butchered?”

“Not a one. Like I said, they’re just gone. And it had to have happened at night. I keep a close watch on the buggers when I’m out here.”

“Well, you keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps, we should set a watch on the herd at night.”

“Aye, sir! Excellent idea.”

“I’ll speak to Mario about it this morning. In the meantime, keep your trousers on around the herd!”