Colonist's Wife
Author:Kylie Scott

Fuck. The room seemed as dark and cold and silent as space. It took him a moment to place the presence of another body on the far side of the bed.


The woman thankfully remained asleep. She lay curled up on her side, facing away from him. Any farther over and she might fall off the mattress. Her coat had definitely been removed. The sheet had been pulled up to her waist and a tank-top covered the rest. He watched the slow rise and fall of her shoulder. Her white skin was so vivid in the darkness that he couldn’t help but latch on to it. Because giving in to his fears and turning on the light was going too far. He’d lived through a war. No way would he be defeated by bad dreams. For fuck’s sake—next he’d be trying to hide under the bed.


Her porcelain-perfect shoulder was the most he’d seen of her. Mesmerized, he watched, matching his breathing to hers. Hers was calm and even. Steady. He found it surprisingly helpful. In and out. Slow and slower.


Eventually, everything slowed. He kicked back the sheet and swung his legs over the side of the bed. The floor felt blessedly cool beneath his feet. It was tempting to get down and press his cheek to it, but he didn’t. The heat gradually dropped out of him and sank into the floor.


The air cooled off through the night—typical mining corp saving money where it could. She’d get cold, exposed like that. Last thing he needed was her waking up, bitching about the lack of heat. Adam tugged up the blanket and carefully covered her, just in case. There, all better.


She didn’t stir. She was probably exhausted.


He waited until he was certain his legs would hold him, then he let his feet carry him toward the nearest bottle of liquor.






Chapter Two



Day Two



Louise snaked a hand out from beneath the blanket to test the temperature on the other side of the bed. Cold. She was alone. Her body sagged into the mattress. After snaring her elbow to break her fall, he hadn’t tried to touch her again. Thank the gods. Everything ached, the muscles in her neck and back rigid from the shift in gravity. At least her stomach had settled.


She rolled onto her back and stretched, staring at the ceiling. Let her mind wake at its own pace. There was none of the din of traffic from back home. It seemed almost preternaturally quiet. Goose flesh covered her arms from the chill in the air.


Back on Earth, the district attorney had moved her through a series of squalid holes in the last year and a half, always with security hovering. Guards had become the one constant in her life. Alone time had involved shutting herself in closet-sized bathrooms, surrounding herself with peeling paint and mold. For her sanity’s sake, she’d learned to live in her head and to imagine herself far, far away. This domicile looked nice, comfortable if a little bland with its china-white walls and pale synth-wood surfaces. Larger than the studio apartment she had shared with Con for all those years.


Tempting to hide out all day, but the DA had been specific in his instructions. Act normal. Show an interest. Mingle and blend. Blending sucked.


She got up and drank a cup of coffee. Put on the ugly and oversized clothes the DA had gotten her and headed out. The clothes and a new com unit were the only things she owned. Nothing remained of her past.


The colony had been built eighteen years ago in a pre-existing cave system due to hostile weather conditions up top. There were sections of gray and brown wall polished to a perfect sheen, but others were rough, natural. Population just over a thousand, eighty percent company staff and the rest civilians. Males outnumbered females eight to one, hence the marriage contracts. Women spent years on waiting lists so they could travel through space and live on a moon with a man they’d never met. But the district attorney had dealt with everything, shoved her on the ship and told her to keep her head down.


Louise wandered through myriad corridors. There were many, many men. Each and every one nodded to her, though not all smiled. She heard much “ma’aming” going on. Not a word she was used to. Very old-style manners seemed the go. Men even stepped out of her way, as if such a thing were a matter of course, due to her because of her minority sex.


And lots of eyes lingered on her long after they shouldn’t have. What if they recognized her? What if they’d found her? Louise’s stomach cramped and dread crept down her spine.


No. Not possible.


She dared a look back and found a man staring at her ass. When he realized, she watched his puffy cheeks turn pink. He muttered a “ma’am” and turned and fled. Git. She jammed her clammy hands into the pockets of her cargo pants. Her crappy clothes couldn’t have provided much of a view. She was safe. Just not from being ogled, apparently.