Excerpt from Jude's Choice by Kaenar Langford, final edition may differ.

Chapter One

“So how long do you think this one will last?” Angelina asked Delia as they watched him rock back and forth, sweat coursing down his face. They could see how hard it was for him to hold on. The muscles in his shoulders were as taut as steel and his face was suffused from the exertion. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to hang on much longer but he refused to let go. All the others had gone off too soon and he needed to show he could go the distance. Now he was furiously pumping up and down, trying to stay on, trying to keep the upper hand, so to speak. He probably had no idea what kind of a ride he was going to get until it was too late. He looked down but couldn’t focus on the body below him, the images blurring as he heaved and bucked, trying desperately to stay on top.

“I still can’t believe people would want an audience for this kind of thing!” Angelina said. “You’d think that they wouldn’t want anyone to see them when they can’t hold on any longer.”

“It must be some kind of macho thing,” Delia mused. “You know what I mean, Lina. Even if they blow too soon at least everyone gets to see what a stud they are for wanting to do it in front of us all.”

“Too bad they don’t have this kind of thing back home,” Angelina continued, “but I guess if you hadn’t screwed up that last mission to Antelika we wouldn’t be taking this forced vacation to begin with.”

“I don’t know what you’re complaining about,” Delia shouted over the roar of the crowd as they cheered him on. “It’s better than the stopover you organized last year on that pirate planet. At least we don’t have to worry about getting seasick this time.”

“How was I to know that the top two fighter pilots in the Wardelian League would be brought low by a lousy case of mal de mer? You’d think that two women who can thread a Pyrian cruiser through the eye of a needle could spend a week on a fake pirate ship without getting sick.” Angelina shook her head, remembering the humiliation of a week at sea, on her back, without a man on top of her. What a waste of horizontal space not to mention a three day layover thrown away to boot! Groans from the crowd brought her back to the present just in time to see the latest entry thrown to the ground amid the hoots and hollers of the watchers. Turning to her captain she asked, a sparkle in her eye, “By the way, what did you think of that big, gorgeous guy who was up just before this one? I was disappointed that he didn’t last.”

Happy to forget their ill-fated pirate holiday Delia turned to her friend and said with a laugh, “I thought he would have been able to stay on longer. I would have liked to see him up close. When he peeled off his t-shirt and climbed on top I thought I was going to faint.”

The two women had been friends since the academy when they had to prove to the young hotshot males that they were just as good. Being the only females in a group of testosterone-laden men set them together right from the day they arrived on Tenta as newbies. They had toughed it out and proven they were just as smart, just as wily and just as good at flying as any of the men. In fact, they had proven to be better. Delia couldn’t wish for a better man at her back than this woman. As Angelina got up to get a better look as the latest guy got into position Delia had to laugh. For someone who hadn’t wanted to take this forced “holiday”, Angelina certainly was interested. Maybe she just needed to get laid. Hell! Who didn’t! Protecting the galaxy from evil didn’t leave the two of them much time for a sex life and a one night stand didn’t appeal to Delia.

As Angelina forced her way to the front of the crowd, she looked back and gave Delia a naughty wink. She knew that look. Her friend had zeroed in on a likely candidate to warm her bunk for the night. What could she say? Lina was old enough to make her own choices. As she watched her friend melt into the crowd, she felt a light touch on the back of her neck as if someone had gently stroked a feather across her skin. She shivered in response but when she put her hand up to brush it away there was nothing there. She swiveled in her chair to look behind her but everyone was intent on the action and not a soul was nearby. Turning back, Delia watched in fascination as another one couldn’t hold on any longer and fell in a heap, sweating and out of breath. The crowd moved forward, egging the next man on, encouraging him as he mounted.

Delia and Angelina had seen the ad in the local paper and had come to see what it was all about.

The whole idea of planets devoted to fantasy themes had seemed so ludicrous when the Wardelian League had suggested the idea to the Galactic Council but the concept had proven to be hugely popular with new theme planets being added as quickly as the League could get them up and running. The list of planets was varied, that’s for sure. As well as a pirate planet and the cowboy planet there were endless varieties of entertainment to be had. Some of the ideas that the Council had come up with had turned out to be hugely popular like the planet of unrequited love or damsels in distress. Delia thought it was bad enough living these things in your daily life without having them be a holiday destination.

She recalled some of the other planets listed on her compugram when she had to research a quick holiday for the two of them after that little incident on Antelika–a circus planet, a cop planet, a porn planet, a debutante planet, a famous cities of Old Earth planet. Some of them sounded intriguing but some of them just sounded silly. Delia had always thought that the Victorian planet sounded interesting. Any reading she’d done about that time on earth made it seem like an interesting era, sexual repression on the surface but hidden debauchery underneath. Something wanton and naughty in her wanted to be a love slave or perhaps hold a man as her love slave.

She could think of one man in particular that she’d love to have at her mercy. She’d only had a brief glimpse of him once on Tristar 234 when she and Angelina had stopped there to refuel but that glimpse had fueled erotic fantasies for weeks to come. They’d been in the middle of a rescue mission to some backwater planet and out of time as always, yet she could remember every detail of the encounter. He had been hauling his latest “catch” to his cruiser and the stupid son of a bitch thought he’d make a last ditch attempt to get away. The bounty hunter had hauled him up against his chest and whispered in his ear. The poor bastard had peed his pants and never made another sound. Delia had been standing with her mouth open, watching the interplay, when he whirled and looked right at her as if she’d just popped up on his radar screen. A wry smile lit up his face as he gave her body a slow perusal, his hand around the felon’s neck. As his eyes traveled down her, Delia swore she could feel his hands touching her, pebbling her nipples, stroking her belly, nudging her clit. She knew he hadn’t moved yet his touch was marking her, claiming her. Dragging his prisoner with him, he strode over to stand in front of her. Delia never backed down from a fight but the sheer animal power of this man made her feel tiny and edgy as he loomed over her. Leaning down, he put out his tongue and licked below her ear. Delia stood frozen as he marked her.

“I’ll find you,” he growled then turned and disappeared into the ragged crowd.

Copyright 2007 Kaenar Langford