Shades of Honor(112)

By: Sandy Williams


“Ysbar Station—”

“It won’t happen again.” He squeezed her hands. “And I’m sorry for what I did. It was unintentional. I wanted you safe, but I would never purposefully disable you like that. Forgive me.”

The smile she gave him was a small one, but it was authentic, and it tugged at his soul. “I was going to say Ysbar Station was an accident. You’re forgiven, Rip. My guard was down. We were in combat, and I was focused on the enemy, not on subverting your influence.”

“You shouldn’t need your guard up around me. That’s why I need to break the loyalty training.”

“The doctors say it keeps me sane.”

“You’re too strong to snap.” That had been his mistake before, listening to Tersa and believing that a threat to him might make Ash lose her sanity.

She shrugged. “If you can’t break it, we’ll be fine. You’ll never intentionally trigger the compulsion, and I’ll keep my guard up and make sure I don’t follow any of your commands.”

The mischievous light that entered her green eyes told him just exactly how much fun she’d have with that last part.

He leaned a little closer and lowered his voice. “I’m not sure that’s a wise plan.”

“It never has been.” The table separated them. They weren’t close enough to kiss, but they were close enough that he could smell the clean scent of her skin. He wanted to taste it, to taste her.

Nearby, a speaker dinged, and a spacer made an announcement that the last transport dirtside for the day would be leaving in an hour.

A little smile crawled across Ash’s lips.

“I know I need to be on that transport,” she said, “but I still have an hour, and you and I know my timing has never been that great.”

Pure invitation laced her tone.

“You’re timing is perfect.” His voice had turned gravelly. He moved around the table and pulled her to her feet. There, in the middle of the coffee nook with half a dozen spacers still around, he put his arms around Ash and kissed her.

Screw the scandal they would cause. Ash was everything he needed: infuriatingly reckless, beautifully unpredictable, and undeniably addicting. She was his anomaly, and he would love her until all the stars of the universe aligned.



THE END

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