First Chapter: Out of Bight, Out of Mind (DSMC 4)

me-td-dsmc-outofbight3This is the prologue and first chapter from Out of Bight, Out of Mind, the fourth book in my Deep Space Mission Corps series. (Yes, I have more planned for the series.) All of the first four books are MFMM.

The correct reading order for the series is as follows:

  1. Love at First Bight
  2. Bightmares
  3. Spider Bight
  4. Out of Bight, Out of Mind

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Blurb:

[Siren Ménage Everlasting: Erotic Futuristic Sci-Fi Ménage a Quatre Romance, M/M/M/F, HEA]

Emi Hypatia loves her job exploring the galaxy with her three husbands, Aaron Lucio, Caph Bates, and Ford Caliban. When a nonhuman crewman is temporarily assigned to the Tamora Bight for a mission, Emi hates and mistrusts him at first sight due to what her empath training tells her.

Aaron, Caph, and Ford know Emi can’t help what she feels about their temporary crewmate, Kayehalau. But they don’t know if it’s just the jump engines wigging her out, residual nerves from her fight on Kal’moran, or something else. They feel bad that Kayehalau’s presence on board makes her nervous, but orders are orders.

Emi knows Kayehalau is up to no good. She just has to prove it. It’s soon apparent he wants to use her for a nefarious purpose. She turns the tables, but only after she’s out of harm’s way does her larger problem become apparent. Can Aaron, Caph, and Ford rescue her when she’s left Out of Bight, Out of Mind?

A Siren Erotic Romance

Prologue

From the personnel files of Dr. Louis Graymard, Deep Space Mission Corps Chief Personnel Acquisitions Officer:

Mission Debriefing Summary #1

File #20-8720.2

Ship: DSMCV Tamora Bight

Base of Origin: New Phoenix, Arizona, Earth

Crew: Captain Aaron Lucio; First Officer Caphis Bates; Mate Ford Caliban; Medical Officer Dr. Emilia Hypatia

Following a stint of R&R on the Martian base, the crew was sent out on an exploratory mission. Unfortunately, a distress call and request for assistance from a Kal’moran ship diverted them. They towed the ship back to the Kal’moran space station. Through a series of events, the Moran leader asked them to the surface. Having been ordered to indulge diplomatic interaction, the crew went.

Apparently, the daughter of the Moran leader constructed a plot to frame Bates and Caliban in an attempt to take ownership of all three men from Dr. Hypatia. Fortunately, Dr. Hypatia perpetuated a ruse during the fight that allowed her to win and exposed the charade. All four crew members were released and allowed to return to their ship. The Kal’moran leader issued a recommendation that the crew be given commendations for their work, which under the circumstances we certainly will take under advisement.

Their next mission is to…

Chapter One

When sorrows come, they come not single spies,

But in battalions.

—William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Before her, the greenish-blue swirls of Daxious Theta 2 resembled a marble suspended in the middle of a sea of black velvet. Dr. Emilia Hypatia sat in the command chair and stared out at the planet. Having the bridge of the Tamora Bight all to herself during nighttime watch allowed Emi plenty of time for contemplation. The planet, the fourth from its sun, was only five percent larger than Earth, had an iron core, a healthy mix of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and other gasses for its atmosphere, and was only fifty percent saline ocean. Also, the largest life-forms on the planet were mammals equivalent to bears back on Earth. No intelligent life-forms.

In other words, it looked like a valid prospect for a settlement colony.

Emi knew somewhere on the backside of the planet orbited the Kendall Kant, another Deep Space Mission Corps exploration vessel that had arrived hours earlier to assist with the mission. On board, her best friend and roommate from college, Dr. Donna Stephens.

Emi wouldn’t mind the company. After their past couple of assignments, she looked forward to having backup close at hand in case something went wrong. It also didn’t hurt that she and Donna would be able to chat in real time instead of back-and-forths delayed by hours, or even days in some cases.

All three of Emi’s men were asleep in their shared quarters. Emi had volunteered to take the night watch once they’d stabilized their orbit around the uninhabited planet. Her scientific curiosity wouldn’t let her fall asleep. This wasn’t the first planet she’d been to outside of Earth, but it was her first true exploration mission. She enjoyed watching the automated scanner output screens and paused the results every so often when something caught her eye.

This was what she’d signed on for. What she’d trained for. It didn’t matter where in the universe the DSMC sent them, as long as they were together.

Her men, her family, were her home. The Tamora Bight was her home. Nowhere had truly felt like home since Bozeman, Montana, where she grew up with her parents. Before they were killed in an accident at their lunar research station.

Since then, emotionally, she’d been adrift and wrapped in her studies.

Now, she had a family.

Home.

And after their tenure in the DSMC ended and the Bight wasn’t their home any longer, that would be okay, too. Together, they were home, regardless of where they lived.

She drifted into thoughts about Bozeman, about tending the small garden they’d had at their house. Looking back on her childhood always made her smile. And made her miss her parents that much more.

The com link let out a whistle, startling her from her reverie. She hit the button. “DSMC Vessel Tamora Bight. Dr. Hypatia speaking.”

A woman’s voice sounded over the link. “Tamora Bight, this is DSMC Vessel Kendall Kant. Hey, girl. Whassup?”

Emi giggled. “Chicken butt.”

From somewhere on the other side of the planet, Donna also giggled. “I’ve missed that.”

“Now all we need is Sophie and none of the guys stand a chance,” Emi said. Sophie being Dr. Sophie Vanderlin, now assigned to the Braynow Gaston. Sophie and her three men had been sent to Earth for training since Sophie joined them after Emi solved the crisis at the Aroykin colony. In the short time they’d known her, Emi and Donna had become fast friends with the woman. “You have night watch?” Emi asked.

“Yeah,” Donna said. “I had to order my hubbies to get their cute asses in bed. They don’t mind sharing a bunk if I’m there, but they still get a little weirded out sometimes if they have to all sleep together and I’m not there.” Emi had signed up for the DSMC before Donna. She had also met—and rejected—the crew of the K-2 due to their boorishly militaristic attitude.

Emi thought the condition’s medical term was acute stick-up-the-ass-itis, but she might have been mistaken. Fortunately, Donna had a more compatible attitude, allowing her to whip her former ISNC military men into a friendlier lot. It didn’t hurt that Dr. Graymard of the DSMC had sat the men down and had a heart-to-heart talk with Rob about them being assholes, and showed them videos of their sim sessions.

Donna had also demanded they build a group cabin for them to all share, much like Emi and her men had. It made sense for Emi’s guys, because they had been lovers with each other for years before Emi joined them.

The crew of the K-2…not so much. It had been a pretty big adjustment for Donna’s hunky hetero men.

Not for a lack of trying on Donna’s part. Even her considerable powers of persuasion apparently had their limits. At least they’d entered into a group marriage with her.

“They’ll get over it,” Emi assured her with a grin she was glad Donna couldn’t see. “It’s only been a few months. Go easy on them.”

“Yeah, I know.” Emi heard Donna let out a wistful sigh. “So, what’ve we got down there?”

“I’m doing the prelim scans now. So far, the data I’m seeing backs up what’s in the records from the primary expedition party that orbited the planet.”

“This is so cool,” Donna said. “We are in fricking space!”

Emi smiled at her friend’s excited tone. “The ships weren’t a clue? And you’ve been in space for a while now.”

“Yeah, but Aroykin and Mars don’t count. This is exciting! This is the last fricking frontier. This is what people hundreds of years ago felt like settling the Old West back on Earth. When do we get to go down there?”

A cold chill swept through Emi. She rubbed her arms to smooth the gooseflesh rippling up them. “Not yet.” She couldn’t help but think of the terrifying spiderlike tals’tophk creatures she’d seen up close and personal, which inhabited the areas outside Kal’moran’s protective city walls.

Deadly poisonous. Even though it was five weeks earlier, she could still hear the creature’s dying screams in her memories.

“We have to take precautions,” Emi continued as she shoved that horrifying memory away. “Believe me, I’ve seen bad critters firsthand. We won’t know more about the fauna until the drones and robotic landers do close-up scans. We also have to test the flora. Make sure it’s not poisonous.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Despite Donna’s brains and beauty, patience didn’t even make the top ten list of her strong points.

“You’re not bored, are you?” Emi asked.

“No, not bored. I just want something to do besides stare at a computer screen from several miles above the planet’s surface.”

“Don’t worry. We have four weeks here. Once we finish our scans and topography studies tomorrow, we’ll start sending down the drones.”

Donna’s voice softened, her tone growing serious. “So…how bad was it on Kal’moran? We really haven’t had a chance to talk about it. Are you okay? Do you want to talk about it?”

Heat filled Emi’s face. Her stomach churned before tightening, threatening to send the remains of her dinner back up via express elevator.

She picked up Bucky, the rubber spider, from where it sat on the command console. She rarely let Bucky out of her sight. The good luck charm had allowed Emi to save her men from the treacherous Kal’moran who’d tried to take them from her.

To save her family.

“I’m okay,” Emi softly said. “Maybe later. Face-to-face. Not like this.”

“Fair enough, girlfriend. Fair enough.”

* * * *

They spent most of their night watch talking. Ford showed up first the next morning to relieve Emi. Of course he brought her a cup of coffee.

She cupped her palms around the warm mug and blew across its steaming surface. With enough creamer to turn it the color of caramel, and sugar, he’d fixed it exactly the way she liked it. “Thank you.”

He leaned against the command chair with one arm, his other hand holding his own mug. A delicious smile curved his lips. “No problem, babe. You really think I’m going to show up here with no coffee? That’d be like taking my life into my hands, wouldn’t it?”

Emi smiled at him over the top of her mug. “I love you so much.”

“Ah, you just love me for my caffeine.”

“And your cock.”

“Well that’s good to know.” He grinned, his blue eyes playfully lit with good humor. “I thought it was my witty conversation.”

“You are a chatterbox, but I love that about you, too.” Slightly slimmer in build than Aaron, his lean, catlike body always turned her on.

“Also good to know.” He tipped his head toward the screens, where the sensor scan readouts still scrolled. “Anything interesting?”

“It’s all interesting to me.”

He arched an eyebrow at her. “You know what I meant, babe.”

“Nothing unexpected or extraordinary, if that’s what you meant.”

“That’s what I meant.” When she slid out of the command chair he took her place. “Nothing to catch me with my drawers around my ankles?”

“You mean besides Caph?”

“Ah, good one, babe. Nothing I need to worry about, then?”

“Nope. Donna and I had a good chat last night. She had their night watch.”

“Never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad Rob and his crew are here with us.”

Emi reached over, grabbed Bucky off the console, and pocketed the rubber spider. “You and me both, Ford.” She gave him a kiss and wandered down to the galley. There she found Aaron toasting himself a bagel.

“Good morning, Em.” He leaned in and kissed her. He hadn’t shaved yet. The stubble on his cheek brushed against hers. “Boring night?”

“Got lots of data pouring in.”

“So that’s a yes?”

She shrugged. “It’s not boring to me. Am I the only one on this boat who enjoys looking at scientific data?”

“Maybe. My job is to get the data and keep my ship and crew safe.”

She bumped him with her hip. “And here I thought you were a renaissance man. How many times have you read Othello and Hamlet?”

“I am. If we discover an opera or Shakespearean theatre company down there, they’ll have my full and undivided attention. Until then, it’s just a job for me. I’ll leave the science stuff to you and Ford. I have a ship to take care of.”

She was toasting a bagel of her own when Caph swooped into the galley, grabbed her, and kissed the side of her neck. “Hiya, babe.” She felt his semi-stiff cock rubbing against her through his uniform trousers.

“What’s wrong, big guy? Didn’t Aar and Ford take care of you last night?”

He grinned. “They did, but I missed you.” He went after her neck again, making her squeal with giggles as he dry-humped her hip. Caph was her big, playful goofball. His shaggy blond hair and green eyes were the decorative bows on his total package, which included a large body, broad shoulders tapering off to a narrow waist, and a positively bitable, tight ass. Aaron referred to Caph and Ford as the twins because of their habit of speaking at the same time, not because they were related or even looked remotely alike.

Aaron smirked from where he leaned against the counter and ate his own bagel. “You know how he gets, Em.” She felt his amusement, echoed by the light in his sweet brown eyes.

Right now, what she felt from Caph was horniness and a desire to talk her back into their bunk.

She patted his hands. “Maybe tonight, sweetie. I need to do some work in the hydro lab before I get some shut-eye of my own.”

He nearly pouted. All he needed was a boo-boo lip to complete the look. “Aww. All right.”

She gave him a final kiss before disengaging herself from his arms. If he got her into bed now, he’d fuck her to sleep, and she’d never get everything done on her to-do list. “Not that I’m not willing, but you know the drill. I have to get my chores done. So do you.”

“Yes, he does,” Aaron concurred. “And he’s got tests to run on the drones today down in cargo.”

Caph poured himself a cup of coffee. “I know, I know,” he grumbled. “You can’t blame a man for trying.” He tugged at his trousers, which now sported a full bulge.

“No, you can’t,” Emi agreed with a smile. “And we know you’re always willing to try.” After smearing cream cheese on her own bagel and wrapping it in a paper towel, she refilled her coffee and picked up her mug and the bagel. “That’s why the rest of us have to be on our toes, or you’ll always have us on our backs.”

She left both men laughing.

Down at the entrance to the decontamination chamber that led to the hydro lab, she took a deep breath before stepping in. No matter how many times she rationalized to herself that there was nothing to fear, she couldn’t forget how she nearly lost her life there.

When the decontamination cycle ended and the door opened to the hydro lab, she let out the breath she’d been holding and stepped inside.

This was her sanctuary. The refit team had done a brilliant job of repairing the damage done by Eckhart’s attack. They’d even made some changes for her at her request. It was, literally, a whole new hydro lab. She had vines trellising up wires crisscrossing the lab. In a few weeks, the entire ceiling would be concealed from view. Two large vid screens, one on each side, could display whatever Emi wanted, whether a window scene, a duplicate of the bridge view, or even vids from their exhaustive library.

Today, she chose to set them up as window sims. She looked through one and saw Bozeman, Montana, in the spring, as she remembered it from her childhood. If she closed her eyes she could almost smell the pines. The other showed a similar view, just from a different angle.

She set her coffee and bagel on the small desk in the back. She leaned against it while she finished her bagel and studied her hydro lab. Not just pretty, but functional. It provided them fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as helped augment the air scrubbers. All the air in the ship passed through the hydro lab.

Down here, she also had a brief respite from her men. Not that she didn’t want to be around them, because she did. With her empath skills, however, it sometimes grated on her nerves if she didn’t get the occasional break. Fortunately their emotions tended to run to the loving, and horny, end of the spectrum, making it easy to spend lots of time in close quarters with them.

Emi busied herself with her hydro tables. She pruned, harvested, started seeds and transplanted seedlings, and tidied the place up. After two hours, she caught herself yawning.

The basket she kept down there for fruit and veggies nearly overflowed. Bananas, peppers, tomatoes, and beans had ripened. After toting it back to the galley, she headed to their quarters to grab a shower and go to bed to grab a few hours of sleep before dinner.

When she emerged from the head, Caph lay stretched out in the middle of their shared bunk, a playful grin on his face.

Fortunately, he was clothed.

“Hi, babe.”

Emi had pulled on one of the men’s shirts after getting out of the shower. It hung to her knees, giving her a little protection against her horny hubby.

“Hi, Caph.” She crawled under the sheet. “Still too tired, babe. Sorry.”

“Aww, I just wanted to spend a few minutes with you.”

“Uh-huh. Suuure.”

He stretched out next to her, on top of the covers. “No, seriously.” He kissed her on the forehead. Then he laced his fingers through hers. “Scout’s honor.”

She nuzzled close and closed her eyes. “Good, because I’m wiped out.”

When she opened her eyes what felt like mere minutes later, Aaron lay stretched out where Caph had been. She yawned. “When’d you get here?”

“A little bit ago.”

“Is it dinnertime yet?”

“Nope. A few hours. You don’t need to get up yet.”

She snuggled closer to him and closed her eyes agin. “Good, because I don’t feel like it.” Before she knew it, dreams filled her head again. Bad dreams. Specifically about the fight on Kal’moran, where she had to play dirty to beat Rawin in the arena.

Only this time, in Emi’s dream Rawin wrapped her arms around Emi and started squeezing. Emi struggled, trying to get away—

“Hey, Emi. Wake up. You’re having a nightmare.”

Her eyes popped open at the sound of Ford’s voice. He was sitting up, holding her with his arms wrapped tightly around her. As she struggled to get her pulse under control, she broke down crying against his chest.

“Shh, it’s okay.” He gently gathered her against him as she cried. “You need to get it out of your system. You’ve been holding on to it for too damn long. I wondered how long it would take you to finally get around to it.”

“Please don’t tell Aaron and Caph. I don’t want to worry them.”

“Um, that’s a hell-no-can’t-do, babe. Remember the reaming you gave me for keeping mum about Aaron’s nightmares?”

“That’s different.”

“How?”

She thought about it. “Because I said so.”

He kissed the tip of her nose. “Sorry, babe. Cap trumps doctor. And we all trump that as husbands.” He held her close. “You don’t get a pass on this one. You need to talk it out. Get it out of your system.” He let her have a moment. “How many of these have you had?”

“Too many.”

“That’s what I thought.” He made her meet his gaze. It felt like his blue eyes peered down to the bottom of her soul. “We’re going to have a family meeting. And you will tell them.”

She knew arguing with him would prove futile. Besides, she knew he was right.

She nodded.

“That’s my good girl.”

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