Storm’s seen Luke’s ship and met an amazing and unusual shipmate, Gabrielle. Luke assures her he can cut usual travel time in half. To prove it, he says he’ll fly her to the moon. Can he make good on his promise? Or is he like so many others, ready to let her down?
The same woman was sitting at the desk when they came back through. Her smile was frosty as they approached.
“That was fast, Luke. You usually take your time.”
“Just mind your own business,” Storm snapped. “What does he owe?”
“That’s unique,” the woman said, ignoring Storm. “She’s paying you? I thought it was the other way around.”
“Listen, honey,” Storm leaned over the desk. “I don’t have time for you to flirt with my man. Tell me what he owes and I’ll pay you. Otherwise, you’re going to experience one of my temper tantrums. They don’t call me Storm for nothing.”
Saying nothing, the woman called up the file, turning the screen so Storm could see the amount. It was considerable.
“Sweet deal you’ve got going, Luke. Since when do they pay you?”
“Since I’m the best thing in three sectors,” he answered with a wink.
Storm scanned her card, giving the woman her thumb print. “Come on, Lukas. Don’t keep me waiting.” She held out her hand.
He took it, nuzzling her neck seductively, taking full advantage of their little charade.
Storm was glad he was holding her so close. The touch of his lips on her neck made her feel like the gravity had gone out again. Stumbling, she leaned hard against him. He held her up, both hands around her waist.
“I’m not used to these shoes,” she mumbled. “And I drank too much.”
“Sure.” He smiled. “That would be it.”
They walked from the docking area heading to the corporate wing of the first ring of the station. It wasn’t a long walk if they went directly there. Unfortunately, the direct route took them through the worst part of Crystal Palace. In this wing, the dregs of society lurked ready to jump the unwary corporate who foolishly ventured in their territory.
Storm started to go around, but Luke tugged her hand.
“Don’t worry, baby. I’m with you. You’ll be safe enough.”
“I don’t usually go in there unless I’m armed. I sure as hell don’t wander down those corridors in an evening gown.”
“I’ll protect you,” he said, nibbling her neck.
“Yeah, well who’s going to protect me from you?”
She shrugged off his groping hands, hoping he wasn’t too sexed up to keep his promise of protecting her. The corridors were dank, dark and dusty. They were alone, for the moment, though Storm knew that wouldn’t last. Before they’d walked five minutes, she knew they were being followed.
Feeling Luke draw himself up and reach for his weapon, she knew he was aware of it too.
“Got an extra handgun?” She asked. “Knife, stunner, anything?”
He slipped her a compact pulse weapon. No one risked bullets on the space station, especially here where the walls were so thin. She checked it by feel, keeping her eyes on their surroundings. She hadn’t always been a corporate fixer, and knew her way around a handgun.
They walked a few more feet, suddenly finding themselves surrounded. How the men had moved in on them, Storm didn’t know and didn’t ask. These four men were no mere thugs, but well trained solos. Strange to find them in these surroundings.
The skin on Storm’s neck tingled. Someone was trying a telepathic scan. Her psy-block software automatically clicked on, driving him away. She knew he’d be back, ready for it. She wasn’t sure she could block a second attack.
“We don’t want no trouble, boys,” Luke said in a slow, Southern drawl.
Storm might have worried, but she saw his stance and balance subtly change.
“Just seeing the lady home for a little—you know….” He shrugged, grinning sheepishly.
“I don’t think so,” a thick necked thug to Storm’s right said with a nasty leer. “Someone’s gonna get something, but it sure ain’t gonna be you.”
Luke struck the man closest to him. He was tall, massive and singularly ugly. Storm kicked the weapon away from the man to her left, then turned to take on the one to her right. Wishing she had on different shoes, she concentrated on what she was doing.
Behind her, Luke took on two of the solos, leaving her two. The one she’d kicked scrambled for his weapon, but she shot him in the knee before he got that far. Kicking his gun far away, she faced the other. The thick necked one was rethinking his position.
“Some little bitty girl thinks she can take me?” He lunged at her before she got off another round.