Twelve years on the prison planet Erebus makes a man long for death. The worst part for Tannin Everette is that he was framed for murder. He’s innocent. When the ship Imojenna lands for emergency repairs, Tannin risks everything to escape…only to find himself face to face with the captain’s undeniably gorgeous sister.
In the diffused glow of her cabin, her eyes looked almost black and her tousled hair a rich deep gold. She smelled like summer-storm-rain on a hot day back home on Barasa, bringing another sting of innocent days past. He could feel her lush curves yielding against him, though tension ran through every line of her body.
She knew he was onboard now. The only way he’d be getting off this hellhole of a planet was with her cooperation. If she would agree to hide him. His heart tripped over itself. It’d been a long time since he’d trusted anyone besides himself, and she almost literally held his life in her hands.
“I need your help.” His voice came out uneven and he swallowed against the tightness in the back of his throat.
She shook her head, pressing herself harder against the wall, her nails digging into the skin on his forearm.
“Please, just listen. I need to get off Erebus. I know you have no reason to trust me, especially now. It’s asking a lot, I know that, too.” Helpless emotion he’d long thought dead and buried tightened his chest. For once, he needed something in the universe to go his way, for this stranger to give him the chance the IPC justice system hadn’t. “I just need a little faith here. So I’m going to take my hand off your mouth, because I don’t want to hurt you, and I don’t want you to be afraid of me.”
With a short breath, knowing with almost total certainty that his one chance of freedom was about to be blown, he dropped his hands away from her and stepped back.
She didn’t shift, didn’t run, and didn’t scream for help, just stood there with fingers locked on her necklace, her chest rising and falling rapidly.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Tannin Everette.”
Fatigue started catching up with him as his body finally hit the adrenaline wall and splattered into a jelly-like mess. His limbs heavy, he walked to her unmade bed and dropped onto the edge. He scrubbed both hands over his face, swallowing again around the tautness in his throat and stared unseeing at the floor. Would he really allow himself to be killed rather than return to a life on Erebus? Panic blended with grief in a sickening whirlpool of misery. He wasn’t brave enough to die, rather than stay on Erebus. Survival instincts reared within him, despite the depravity he’d be facing out in the general population upon his return.
“You’re the guy who came in after that officer attacked me.”
Her bare feet appeared in his line of vision, toenails painted gold and a petite, graphite-colored ring on the little toe of her left foot. She crouched down and touched his chin, bringing his head up.
“What happened to you?”
No one had ever asked him what happened. As far as everyone had been concerned, the case had been cut and dry, no need to ask any questions when the apparent evidence was so overwhelming.
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