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Tabitha can have all she wants if she fights through Astrid’s simulated worlds. Can she successfully hunt her down?
Astrid Carlisle enjoys her job at Satera Industries, the massive interplanetary organization whose enigmatic leader is concerned with profits first and legalities second. Stationed at company headquarters, she can stay out of harm’s way while making good use of her programming skills and keen eye for talent acquisition. Unfortunately, both the busy nature of her work and her office’s remote location leave her feeling dissatisfied with her personal life.
Fresh out of the Central United Space Marines, Tabitha Knox is ready for change, hoping the next stage in her career can take place in the private sector. Employment with Satera Industries would offer her the exciting, fast-paced work she craves, with generous financial compensation to match. All she has to do is get through the rigorous screening process and prove her worth.
The two women meet during the early stages of Tabitha’s application, and their mutual attraction is instant. However, Astrid has been hurt in the past and is cautious about moving too quickly, leading her to devise a plan. She suggests the pair enter the simulations used to test applicants and fight their way through the various environments. If Tabitha can successfully track her down in each phase, she’ll win the ultimate prize: a lucrative job, plus Astrid’s trust and submission. Everything she wants is within reach, but will she be able to achieve her dreams while hunting Astrid?
A new idea began to take shape in Astrid’s mind. “If you’re so confident—which I do like about you, don’t get me wrong—do you want to make it interesting?”
Tabitha leaned forward, bracing her hands on the inside of her legs. “I live for interesting.”
“Then I think you’ll like my suggestion of what we should do the next time we get together.”
Swiveling on the grass, Astrid turned to face her. “I’ll check our master calendar, and, on a quiet day, how about you and I go back to headquarters and run through a couple of missions in the simulator? A little friendly competition, if you will.”
“Huh.” Tabitha tapped her fingers together in front of her. “I thought you just helped design the simulations. I didn’t know you actually went in and played around in them.”
“Somebody’s got to test everything out.”
“Right. But I didn’t think you were—” She shook her head. “Never mind. You’re right. Your plan does sound interesting. But if you’ve worked with the simulations so many times before, won’t it give you an unfair advantage?”
“I won’t have any of my monitoring tools inside, and I’ll make sure we have all the same equipment. No cheating, I promise.” Lifting her chin, Astrid pretended to look her up and down, her lashes fluttering. “But if you don’t think you can beat me….”
Tabitha let out a loud laugh, a genuine smile lighting up her face. “Very cute attempt at baiting me, though I would have agreed to it, anyway.” Her hair tumbled over her shoulders as she leaned forward again. “So, what’s the prize if I win?”
Astrid straightened and held her arms out. “Me.”
She arched an eyebrow. “Oh? Please elaborate.”
The familiar heat rose in her cheeks, and she hoped the effects of her throbbing heartbeat weren’t noticeable. “I’ll make a better effort to not overthink things and go with what feels right. Whatever you want to do afterward, I’ll be a willing participant.”
The hunger in Tabitha’s stare did little to slow her pulse, and she struggled not to squirm. “All right. I accept all your terms and conditions.” Pursing her lips, she gave Astrid a sly wink. “Game on.”
About the author:
Thea Landen lives in New York with her husband and children. Though she’s dabbled in all romantic subgenres, she has a special love for sci-fi, fantasy, and adventure…anything that pushes the imagination beyond its usual limits. When she’s not writing, she’s either knitting or crocheting, playing video games, or pretending to enjoy cardio and squats.
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