Sabotaged Desires, Lost Colony, cover, Rebecca Airies

Sabotaged Desires

M/F/M menage, colony, space, Science Fiction

Suz Lore thought she had everything she wanted, a job as an engineer and a position on a colony ship headed to another planet. That was before her arranged ménage marriage with Robert Smith and David Bradford turned into a disaster. She’d thought they were building more than a sizzling sexual relationship, but all they do is argue now. She isn't surprised when they're sequestered in a room in order to reignite the passion between them and learn to trust again.

Robert believes she betrayed him while David is stuck in the middle of their conflict. Getting Robert to talk about what made him angry is difficult, but they discover there's far more behind their problems than a message with misleading information. A virus has overtaken the ship's computers, put them on a different heading and cut them off from all communication. They must work together to find a way to survive and rebuild their relationship.

 

Sabotaged Desires Excerpt

2134 CE

Susanne heard a droning noise. Although she couldn’t identify it, the sound pulled her from the hazy fog of deep sleep. Memory slowly surfaced.

The Relationship Room. Being placed in this secluded chamber was supposed to ensure they worked on the problems between them. One way in and one way out, which was locked, they would have to talk and get through their difficulties before they were released.

Early this morning, she’d woken in this room, on this bed, carefully positioned between Robert and David, her husbands. Before she was even fully awake, Robert had started in on the same tirade that had landed them here. She’d gotten a raging headache from the tension and raised voices from their first round.

Some medicine had been sent down the small supply lift. She’d taken it and slept. It had surprised her when Robert had stopped taunting and prodding about her supposed actions when he’d noticed her wincing in pain. It wasn’t his concern that shocked her. He’d always been attentive. She might not have seen it lately, but it was something she expected. No, it was the simple fact that he’d acted on it instead of pursuing the advantage. He hadn’t been that considerate since he’d received that message.

She’d married David and Robert in an arranged marriage right before they’d stepped onto the colony ship Herasti to begin duty. They were one of a large group of triads chosen to begin Earth’s first colony on a planet named Ahbell. For duties on the ship, she was trained as an engineer, but they’d also been trained for positions in the colony as well.

When they’d begun the journey, she’d been ecstatic to leave orbit without yet another problem caused by the One Planet fanatics. Those zealots interpretation of the One had nearly destroyed the ship before it was fully built.

Her mind cleared from the effects of her nap, as well as the minor dose of pain medication. She stretched and opened her eyes. The gray ceiling of the room wavered as her eyes focused. The bright lights embedded in the ceiling seemed to flare for a moment. It didn’t take long until her vision cleared. She stared at the square indention of the closed hatch, the only way they could leave this room.

“Why the fuck did they do this? If they’d talked to me, I’d have told them it wasn’t necessary.” A deep male voice rose with aggravation.

She recognized the tone and quick pace of Robert’s speech. Robert was the captain of the Herasti. His voice dripped with every bit of the arrogance and command needed for that position. Someone had stepped on Robert’s bad side and this time it wasn’t her. She knew, though, that they’d have to get to their issues.

Her attention tore from the spot when a frustrated sound reached her. She easily identified the sound of raised voices. Apparently, Robert was still being a dick. Well, that hadn’t changed. He’d been that way since they’d woken up from cryostasis in the Relationship Room. At first, they’d argued about how he thought she’d betrayed him. Well, them.

Robert had been happy for a little while with their marriage, but that had changed one morning when he’d gotten a message. When she’d walked into the room that night, he’d started throwing accusations. He’d implied she’d somehow influenced or had help with being chosen as their wife. As if she’d even known who they were before she met them at the end of the training.

Her first thought had been she didn’t have to explain anything to him. She knew it was reaction brought on by the rigid, controlled life she had with her uncle and aunt. Her history might make her career choice seem strange, but she had better opportunities for advancement in the military. She could follow orders if it was getting her one step closer to her goal.

He was angry at her for nothing. If only he’d stop and let her explain as well as get an explanation. She knew why he thought she’d have the connections or power, but she did have some questions. Her uncle was General Gregory Barton. She hadn’t read the message Robert was sent, but she’d bet that whoever wrote it hadn’t revealed her uncle’s identity, just his rank.

She and her husbands hadn’t known anything about each other when they’d met, except the basics of position on ship and name. They’d been busy with duty and hadn’t talked about their pasts much when they were alone. Before she’d had a chance to share anything with him, he’d received that letter. The contents sent him into an anger that still hadn’t died.

Why won’t he let me explain?

He’d ranted and yelled at her, but hadn’t given her any opportunity to rebut the accusations. Sometimes, he’d stalked out of the room in the middle of a tirade. Other times, she left, because she knew she’d take a swing at him if she didn’t.

That’s how it had been lately between them. He wouldn’t calm enough to let her explain and certainly wouldn’t ask a question. She wondered if David was awake or if Robert simply took the opportunity to rant at those who observed them.

“Why do you think, Robert?” David asked.

Well, that answered that question. She felt bad for David. David was one of the medical officers. While he might be accustomed to stressful situations, he probably hadn’t expected this. He’d been caught in the middle of the tension and drama between her and Robert. Not that she’d expected Robert to remain stubborn this long. She’d thought he’d cool down and let her talk to him after a day. Robert hadn’t bent, showing every bit of the tenacity which had helped earn him a captaincy and command of this colony ship.

The Herasti was heading to Ahbell, a very distant, unpopulated planet. The journey would take nearly two years because their ship, with its ion drive, wasn’t capable of faster-than-light travel. With the distance, size of the ship and the number of people on board, there was no way they could carry enough food or supplies to get them all there alive if they were conscious. Most of the colonists had been placed in cryostasis and stayed that way. Only sixty people crewed the ship, but not at the same time. At any time, only twelve people were awake. They took two month rotations so that the monotony and stress didn’t cause mistakes.

They’d been on their journey for at least fourteen months, although, to be truthful, she hadn’t been keeping track. For most of that time, Robert had been wonderful and they’d been growing closer. She’d thought their relationship was more than the hot sexual attraction that had flared between them the first time they’d touched. Maybe it hadn’t been more than that for him.

Robert hadn’t answered David’s question. She’d hoped to hear his response. Perhaps David could get something out of him when he simply stonewalled her. The desire to ask a few questions of her own warred with the knowledge that he might talk a little more if he thought she was asleep.

A grimace twisted her lips. He already thought she was a liar and worse. Better not to give him anything he could use as proof that she was. Time to try again. They’d have to succeed in working through this if they ever wanted to get out of this room.

The Relationship Room served as a place to isolate a married group if they had obvious trouble in their relationship. Food would be sent down through the provisions lift as well as clothes or anything else they needed. They would be monitored during their time here by their crewmates, except for the intimate moments, to ensure that they rebuilt their relationship. The problems between David, Robert and her definitely qualified them for a stay in the room even if Robert seemed to have a different opinion.

“Get your ass to the hatch and let us out now,” Robert yelled.

Ever the demanding captain. Robert expected people to follow his orders immediately. He’d behaved like an ass lately. That arrogance set her nerves on edge. His tendency to bark out commands even when on personal time made her want to rebel or strike out at him.

The argument hadn’t stayed within the confines of their quarters. She didn’t know how he was surprised that they’d been placed here. At the moment, his yelling was getting on her nerves.

“They won’t let us out. Not until they’re convinced our problems are solved.” She eased to the edge of the big bed. At least, she wasn’t nauseous from coming out of stasis or had a headache any longer.

David strode to the side of the bed, sat beside her and put an arm around her shoulders. “Are you all right?”

His dark blond hair stuck up in spikes, looking delightfully mussed. She only wished she’d been the one to run her fingers through it. Concern turned the corners of his full lips down. His muscled chest was bare, offering yet another lure for exploration, and he wore only loose, light blue pants which most men chose to wear into the stasis pods.

“The pain has faded. I sort of expected this after our last rotation, although waking up from stasis in this room scared me, and for a little while, I didn’t realize what had happened.”

She relaxed against the strength of his arm for a moment. Normally, they were left in the open cryopods until they were able to walk. She’d almost panicked when she woke here. Her heart had felt as if it were going to burst through her chest.

The feel of his muscled body against hers soothed a little of the tension and worry. Between David and her, they would find a way to get through to Robert. Even though they couldn’t get out, she didn’t fool herself that this would be easy.

“So did I. I think he’s the only one who thought things could go on as they were.” David smiled and used his free hand to brush the blond hair away from her face.

“They should stay out of our business.” Robert glared at her.

His dark brown eyes moved from her to David. He didn’t look mussed or even sleepy as David did, but then again, his close-cropped black hair always seemed to be in perfect order. The dark brown skin of his chest gleamed. Her eyes hungrily trailed over the expanse and down to the white shorts at his waist. Even though anger pulsed through her at his stubbornness, she hungered for his touch. Her body remembered the pleasure he’d given her.

“Our business is everyone’s concern. We’re on a colony ship. There are only married groups here. There aren’t extra women or men and our group will be the only people on the planet until more colonists are sent, which could be years. The crap you’ve been doing can’t continue.” David straightened a little and his eyes locked on Robert.

“What’s between us hasn’t caused anyone other than us problems.” Robert took a slow breath as if he was trying to control his temper. His eyes narrowed as his eyes traveled from her to David and back.

“Maybe you should go over to him.” She glanced at David as she took a deep breath. By the One, she didn’t want to put him in the middle any more than he already was.

The problems between her and Robert were causing a strain on David. The two men had formed a very strong friendship almost immediately. She enjoyed David holding her, but she knew their relationship with each other was as important their relationship with her.

David’s hand brushed over the back of her blue sleep shirt. The warmth of his palm and arm eased a little of the remaining tension from her. Even though she wondered if it was wise, she leaned into him.

She’d last felt his arms wrap around her and pull her tight against him only a few days before they’d been placed in stasis. It had been a little longer since Robert had touched her. It seemed as if more time had gone by than that, but maybe the arguments and the cold shoulder explained it. Her relationship with Robert had disintegrated and tensions built as the days passed. She didn’t want to cause trouble between them.

“He can stay mad over there or join us here. I should have done more, but I didn’t think he’d be this much of a bastard. I also didn’t think that it would go on as long as it has.” David’s voice hardened and he tugged her a little closer.

He couldn’t have done anything to change things. All of the problems stemmed from Robert’s continued antagonism. Before they’d gone into stasis, he’d acted angrier than he had after he’d received the message. He still wouldn’t let her explain and seemed determined to ignore her most of the time. When he didn’t do that, he would accuse her.

Suz never got a chance to defend herself. He was stubborn and immovable and had been since that message had popped into his communications. That had happened a few days before they went into stasis last time.

Now, this room would be their home. The hatch in the ceiling above them offered the only exit. There wasn’t much to the room. Gray walls surrounded them with only one door on the right wall.

Three gray chairs sat around a small table so they could eat. No tech to distract themselves. From the ship tour, she knew there’d be a small bathroom connected to the room for their needs, but in the space provided to them they couldn’t hide from their issues.

They had to work through their problems to be freed. Even Captain Robert couldn’t order his way out of the room. The room had been designed so that the married group had to focus on each other. Because the relationship was paramount and important to the survival of the colony, it wouldn’t be allowed to wither and die.

“How did they find out about our relationship problems? Did you tell them?” Robert narrowed his eyes on her.

She sighed and closed her eyes, Of course, he blamed her. She resisted the urge to say “yes,” even though it was a lie.

“No, she didn’t. I did. Not that it was necessary. The crew on our rotation had already noticed your angry behavior toward her.” David shot a scowl over at Robert. “Even if I said nothing, we would be in this room now.”

“Son of a bitch,” Robert swore and his fingers ran over his head. “You should have talked to me, David.”

David shook his head. “Would you have listened to me? Did you give her a chance to speak? She hasn’t had an opportunity to tell you anything. You either yell at her, order her out of your sight, piling on a few parting insults or storm out of the room.”

“What she did is already a fact. There is no defense.” Robert stalked over and dropped into one of the chairs on the other side of the room.

“You don’t know anything about what she did or didn’t do. What you know is what one of your friends sent you. It was one fact and a whole bunch of supposition. Nothing more.” David stood and walked over to Robert.

She didn’t move, although she’d love to stalk over there and smack Robert. The frustration of being alternatively ignored and then shouted at had built up until she didn’t even know what to say to him.

“You read my message?” Robert frowned. “He wouldn’t lie to me.”

“I’m not saying that he lied. I’m saying that the message had only one totally true thing in what he sent you. That one truth isn’t bad in and of itself. The rest he guessed at, or even worse, forwarded gossip to you.” David took Robert’s hand and pulled. “It’s time for you to listen or maybe even ask some questions without yelling at her. She’s not your enemy.”

Robert tensed. She could see his muscles tighten in resistance of the tug and half-expected them to get into an argument about who was in charge. He did not like taking direction from anyone. The two men glared at each other for a long moment. Robert and David had gone head to head before about this, but David wouldn’t back down. When they were on duty, Robert was in charge. Within their relationship, David wanted a partnership.

Robert came to his feet. “How do you know she deserves a chance? If she did do it, then she deserves my anger and yours.”

“Robert, you’re missing the point. We’re on a ship bound for a planet where we’re supposed to create a colony. There are no other women to choose from. She’s it. We have to make it work and you’re creating an even worse situation. Now give her a little of the respect that you promised when you married her.” David yanked Robert’s arm and practically dragged him across the room.

Susanne almost smiled, but the anger toward Robert burned away the urge. One message and he’d decided she’d betrayed them. If he’d asked anything or let her talk, he’d know she hadn’t done anything wrong. A few of the nasty remarks he’d made had been enough to give her the gist of what had been in it as well as what had been implied. It irritated her that all of this could have been avoided with one simple question: Who is your uncle? After hearing the answer, he’d know the truth. Her uncle’s reputation was that widely known.

“Someone who’d use the power of a relative to gain position and status really doesn’t deserve the chance to explain.” Robert walked with David, but he clearly wasn’t happy.

“Sit and try to listen without being judgmental.” David gave Robert a nudge toward the bed.

David was so good at handling Robert, while she felt a little lost in that aspect. Then again, David didn’t seem to have a problem dealing with anyone. Maybe it was something to do with his training as a physician or perhaps that was just his personality.

“Since you read the letter, why aren’t you angry?” Robert sat on the bed, but he chose a spot as far from her as he could and still be on the bed.

“Because I thought before I reacted to that inflammatory message. On top of that, this isn’t new to me. My brothers somehow managed to develop completely opposite personalities and fought almost every time they saw each other.” David walked over to stand near Susanne. “I also realized that that message could have just as easily been about me.”

“What do you mean it could have been about you?” Suz frowned. Did he mean that he also had someone influential in his family, or was there something else in the message that could apply to him?

“I mean that my family might not be powerful, but my father has a couple of powerful friends. If your friend had sent that message about me, would you react as strongly as you have to her? Or is it simply because you were fucking her, maybe beginning to have feelings for her?” David raised an eyebrow as he looked over at Robert.

“It wasn’t about you, so I don’t know. As for my reaction, there’s nothing to think about. Everything in that note was clear.” Robert shook his head.

“The one fact in the message may have been true, but that doesn’t mean that it was all true. You never asked me a single question. Even when we’re in this room and won’t get out without some type of resolution, you sit there in judgment with only one side of the story.” She rolled to the side of the bed and stood.

Anger pounded through her. Her heartbeat raced and she knew that her face was probably red. She tried to calm down. David put a hand on her arm. His fingers squeezed. When she looked over at him, she saw him smile. She appreciated the support.

“You expect me to believe that you’re innocent?” He raised a brow and the sneer on his lips clearly conveyed doubt and distaste.

As she stared at Robert, her own anger surged forward. Why the hell had he jumped to this conclusion? And why was it so black and white? She was either guilty or innocent. There had to be more than anger behind this.

Her control snapped. This tantrum had gone on long enough. While she understood his initial reaction, she shouldn’t let him continue, even if she had to tie him down and gag him. Something had happened in his past, but she wouldn’t let that deter her. Emotion pushed energy through her clearing away the remaining sleepiness. She rounded the bed and stood in front of him.

“I know I’m not the type of woman you would choose and you’re the last man I’d pick. That’s fine. But if you want answers, if you plan to get out of this damn box anytime soon, you’ll have to ask me the questions. After everything you’ve done, I won’t volunteer any information.”

Both Robert and David looked at her as if they were stunned for a moment. Alright, maybe they had a reason for that. She might not have responded much to any of his baiting earlier, but his continued stubbornness, even when they were in a situation where they had to find a way to fix their problems, infuriated her.

David grinned. “He does take an adjustment to your thinking, doesn’t he? Such a sweet personality, too.”

“What? You’re not going to tell her to sit down and listen?” Robert scowled.

“I’m surprised she hasn’t snapped at you before.” David rounded the bed and stopped next to her. “I don’t think he’s ready to ask any questions, yet. Not the polite way.”

“We may be in the room for a long while.” She shook her head and sighed.

The thought of staying in here depressed her a little. It wasn’t the drab color or the utilitarian and minimal furnishings. The color on the walls carried throughout the entire ship. It was the thought of being trapped down here for days on end trying to get through to him that frustrated her. Even though she knew this was a necessary step, she dreaded the fights and accusations.

Robert needed to think about how he acted and what he had come to believe. Without some type of intervention, she doubted he’d ever take the time to wonder and ask about any of it. If he did, he’d demand an answer rather than pose a few polite questions.

“Well, Suz, perhaps we should give him a little inducement to start thinking and coming up with the right questions.” David curled his arm around her. “Maybe give him a little incentive to remember how good things were between us before he went crazy.”