Authors: Chandra Ryan
Universal Defiance, Book Five
Harlow is a Subservient, created to serve the military’s
needs. Even though her kind’s been freed and she’s managed to become a military
captain, she still struggles with relating to humans, many of whom hate or fear
her. So when a hot new navigator comes aboard her ship and she can’t stop
imagining him naked above her, she has no idea how to handle the pleasurable
Parker is a genetically engineered soldier, modified to be
the strongest, brightest and fastest. But not even he is strong enough to fight
the pull between him and his new captain.
As their attraction grows and the affair deepens, they have
to work together to stop a political coup. If they fail, Harlow will lose the
ship she loves. Parker doesn’t know if she’s capable of sharing his feelings,
but he’s willing to risk it all to protect her.
sci-fi erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave
Standing with the other new arrivals, Parker watched the two
people square off in front of him. They hadn’t even made it off the hangar deck
of the massive prison-transport ship and already there was a problem.
Thankfully, though, it was somebody else in trouble this time.
“I don’t think the new XO likes playing with my kind.” The
captain braced her hands on her hips, making the light wool of her skirt
wrinkle around her fists.
“I haven’t voiced any complaint, sir.”
Parker almost chuckled at the XO’s words. He remembered the
man from combat training. He was the type who could always find something to
complain about. And if whining to the superior officers didn’t get him what he
wanted he’d turn to bullying the lower-ranked soldiers. Parker, for one, was
glad this captain was calling him on his bullshit.
“No. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any.”
“And how would you know that, sir?” There was an evil glint
in the XO’s eyes. “I was given my assignment and I’m reporting. Unless you’re
“The only thing I’m reading is that chip on your shoulder.
And it’s so damn large I’m pretty sure everybody else can see it just as
clearly as I can.”
“I don’t have anything on my shoulders but my rank bars, sir.”
“That’s good to hear. So you’ll be able to follow my orders?
Without question?” Her back was straight and her chin held high.
“I’m a soldier. We’re trained to follow the orders of our
superiors, regardless of personal feelings, sir.”
“So you do have personal feelings toward me. Well. Color me
surprised. I’m flattered.” Her snort was sharp with disdain.
“Fine. You want me to be straight with you? My obedience you
get because of the uniform. But my respect and trust? No sir. I don’t trust
Parker took a step closer and stood ready to intervene on
the captain’s behalf. But the look of defiance she shot him was enough to make
him take the step back again. She was shorter than the XO and with her blonde
hair pulled back into a severe bun her delicately feminine features were
absurdly pronounced. But still she had an air of strength and authority to her
that was palpable. She was going to handle this and he wasn’t about to argue
“And I can’t have an XO who doesn’t trust me. Get the hell
off my ship.”
“You can’t do that. Do you know who I am? Who my father is?”
“Of course. You’re Colonel Speck’s kid. And I assure you, I
“He won’t stand for me being treated like this. You know,
they’re working on legislation that’d bar your kind from captaining a vessel.
Captains would have to have citizenship. You remove me from duty and you’re
arguing their case for them. Turning away a highly decorated XO because of a
personality conflict won’t look good for your decision-making skills.”
“Good luck to them. If a citizen wanted to captain the
I’d have been out of a job years ago.” She nodded to the heavily armed security
officer. “Please escort Lieutenant Commander Speck back to the surface.” Then,
turning her attention back to Speck, she said, “I’m looking forward to hearing
what becomes of your sorry ass. Disciplinary removal from an assignment is sure
to leave a mark. After all, a captain is still a captain regardless of her
citizenship status or her refusal to kiss Fleet’s ass.”
It seemed to be the first time he’d considered the
consequences of his words since he’d started antagonizing the captain. The
color drained from his face and he opened his mouth to say something but only
mumbled stutters escaped him as the security officer grabbed his arm and
started pulling him toward a shuttle.
The captain seemed not to notice, though, as she turned her
back to Speck and began evaluating the rest of them. “Any other new arrivals
have a problem with serving under a Sub? Or serving on this ship?” Her eyes
locked with his and Parker could see the golden flecks of anger shimmering in
their warm-brown depths. “Have a problem serving under a woman?”
“No sir.” He’d requested this assignment. He was exactly
where he wanted to be.
She looked over his uniform appraisingly, her attention
directed to the insignia on his collar. “You’re the new navigator.”
“I wasn’t expecting you so soon.”
She shook her head at his answer before glancing at the rest
of the group. A look of irritation swept over her face. “What are you all
standing around for? You’re dismissed.” No one moved at her words. “Go report
to your station officers.”
Not knowing exactly whom he was supposed to report to,
Parker turned slowly but was stopped by her voice. “Except you, Navigator. I
need to discuss something with you.”
He could hear the click of her heeled boots against the ship’s
metal floor as she came to stand next to him. “Yes sir.”
“Follow me, Lieutenant.”
As they made their way out of the hangar he quickly became
fascinated by the rhythmic sway of her hips. She was wearing a standard
military dress uniform but the black skirt looked far better on her than anyone
else he’d ever seen wearing it.
“What do you know about the Subs, Lieutenant?” She’d
softened her tone but her voice still crackled with authority.
“I know they were designed by a geneticist to replace
enhanced soldiers.” He was, after all, one of those enhanced soldiers she’d
been created to supplant. But he didn’t know much more than that. Well, he did
know one other thing. “And I know you’re the only one ever allowed to wear a
“We were created by a geneticist,” she corrected, “so we
could serve humanity. Hence the name Subservient.”
That was a tidbit of trivia he wouldn’t have felt
comfortable saying. Reminding one’s captain she’d been made to serve his kind
was as good as having a death wish in his book.
“And yes. I am the only one ever allowed into the military.”
She glanced at him over her shoulder as she smiled with apparent pride. “None
of the others wanted it as badly as I did.”
“You wanted to serve?”
She turned away and he found he missed seeing the play of
emotions on her face. “It’s what I was created to do. Someone’s not paying
attention.” The words were said in a singsong voice that took the sting out of
“Do you know what makes the Subs different from each other?”
He had to move to the right to avoid a group of crew members
who’d just come out of a connecting corridor. “No sir. I do not.” More so he
didn’t really care. The only things that mattered to him were the four golden
bars resting on her collar.
She stopped suddenly, turning to face him. “Each group was
created with a different ability. Subservients Type One are telepathic. I’m a
That explained Speck’s comment about her reading him and her
reaction to it. “Good to know, sir.” Even though he was uncomfortable knowing
that she could read his mind he still held her gaze and refused backing down an
inch. She was his captain. And he did trust her.
“I’ll ask you again. Do you have a problem serving under a
“That’s good. I’m not looking for a fucking knight in
shining armor. I can handle my own battles. Am I clear?”
“Good to hear, Lieutenant.”
As they started walking again he tried to focus on the ship
around him. It seemed safer to concentrate on the soft aroma of metal mixed
with oil and to notice the dings and the occasional rust spot than to think
about what she’d just told him. Or worse—the soft curve of her hip as it swept
into the arch of her tight ass and then dropped down to her smooth thighs. He
caught his gaze returning to her body but quickly jerked it back to the
corridor. He needed to stay focused on the
He’d been on several vessels in his military career but this
one was very different. The other ships had been crammed with store-bought
personality as though they were overcompensating for the fact they were metal
cans flying through vacuous space. The walls had been painted in warm hues, the
floors padded with lush carpeting and potted plants had been scattered
throughout the corridors. The
, however, didn’t seem interested
in selling the lie. Every inch of it screamed functionality, from the metal-paneled
walls to the grated steel floors of the corridors.
“Metal is easy to hose down.”
He didn’t know which was more unsettling—her answering his
thoughts or the actual reason. “Hose down, sir?”
“Yes. Hose down, Lieutenant. This is a real ship with a real
purpose. And sometimes blood is shed protecting it. Does that bother you?”
They turned down an adjacent corridor and walked past a group
of techs comparing notes from their handheld computers.
“No sir. I was told this was a dangerous assignment when I
“You requested to be on the
He could hear the surprise in her voice. “Yes sir.”
“Why the hell would you do something like that, Lieutenant?”
“After my time with the Coalition, there weren’t many
assignments open to me.” Prime Minister Lee had welcomed any soldier who fought
with the Coalition’s rebel army back after the peace accords had been signed.
But just because Lee felt charitable didn’t mean his officers did. The
Coalition’s uprising against the government had been over for more than a
decade but some still held a grudge. Sure, they would never put anything in
writing when it came time for reports but they were experts in letting a
soldier know he was unwelcome without actually saying a word. “When I saw the
on the list I knew this was it for me. I wanted to learn from the best and I
heard that was you, sir.”
“I don’t appreciate ass-kissers.”
“And since you can read minds, you know I’m not kissing ass,
She chuckled so softly he almost thought he’d imagined it. “I’m
having a hard time believing anyone called a Sub ‘the best’ at anything.
Especially when that Sub is me.”
“Some people don’t care about where we come from, sir. Only
about what we do once we arrive.”
She stopped in front of a hatch and slid an ID card over the
reader. He could tell by the four gold bars engraved in the door that they were
at her quarters. “And you’re one of those people, Lieutenant?”
“I am, sir.” It was one of the few things he could thank his
childhood for. Scraping himself off the bottom of the barrel made him pay more
attention to a person’s character and accomplishments than her social standing.
“In that case, welcome aboard.”
She stepped into the room, which left him two options—follow
or stand outside awkwardly. Deciding to follow, he was initially surprised.
Thick carpet cushioned his military-issue boots and the walls had been painted
a deep crimson. On one side of the room there was a neatly organized desk and
on the other was a sitting area made up of a couch, two chairs and a coffee
table. It was definitely a room not suitable for hosing down.
“Sit. I need to dig up the nav charts and some lieutenant-commander
Not believing what he’d just heard, he sank into the chair. “Lieutenant
“Yeah, lieutenant commander. If a ship doesn’t have an XO,
the navigator becomes the acting XO until a new one is assigned. And you can’t
be an XO with a rank lower than lieutenant commander.”
He was surprisingly disappointed by her words. It wasn’t the
promotion. No, he wanted to be XO. But he wanted the job and the rank because
he’d earned it. Because he’d worked his ass off for it. Not because he’d been
in the right place at the wrong time.
“It’s best not to question good fortune, Lieutenant. You may
not believe you earned the promotion, but I assure you, I’ll make you work your
ass off to keep it.”
She took off her jacket to reveal the simple white tank she wore
under it. Its tight fit hugged her breasts and skimmed over her flat abs
enticingly. Throwing the jacket onto the other chair, she walked over to the
desk and started rummaging through it.
“Here they are.” She stood triumphantly with a wicked smile
that made his pulse race. She had two handheld computers clutched tightly in
“The nav charts?”
“Yes.” She crossed the room to stand in front of him. “All
the maximum-security prisons’ locations are on these. Which makes this highly
classified information. And now that you’re here, they’re your problem.
Anything happens to the devices and it’s your ass. Am I clear?”
Taking the devices, he felt the weight of responsibility
settle on his shoulders. “Yes sir.”
“Good. One less thing for me to worry about.” She turned
away from him before walking over to one of the decanters on the desk. “And
when we’re alone you don’t have to call me sir. It gets annoying.”
“What should I call you then?”
He watched her pour an amber-colored liquid into two
“Harlow.” She handed him one of the drinks.
“You have a very interesting name.”
“Thanks. I picked it myself.”
“Harlow it is. I’m Parker. Max Parker.”
“I know.” She winked before bringing the drink to her lips
and throwing the glass back. She didn’t even flinch as the strong liquid
disappeared into her mouth. He watched her swallow before doing the same with
his glass. It was smooth but it still burned. “You were one of the best damn
super-soldiers the military had until you switched sides during the war.”
Surprisingly that hurt even more than the alcohol. But since
it was the truth he took a deep breath and let the anger melt away. “They gave
me a better deal.”
“I wasn’t judging you, Parker. They gave me a better one as
He couldn’t quite contain his startled breath.