Pirate's Gold - S.J. Sanders


Terri strode through the space station, trying not gawk. It was difficult not to. Everything was just so… shiny! After a lifetime of scraping by in shambles and filth, seeing so many new wares, flashy bright lights, and the scents of so many interesting things sparked an ember of avarice in her. She was greedy for it all! She wanted to taste, smell, touch, and experience everything.

She watched as credits were exchanged between flashing wrist comms and merchandise was bought. So that was what all Veral’s fuss was about…credits. Credits acquired things. She was practically giddy with excitement as she took it all in. Males and females of peculiar species and varied appearances enticed her with colorful baubles and food that teased her senses.

A male waved around some sort of meat on a stick as he called out to those passing by him. Terri’s stomach growled plaintively. It was torturous to stand among everything so tantalizing while Veral spoke to a male he apparently recognized. No doubt his contact for the furs he brought to trade. His head was lowered as he spoke in quiet tones, his dark form standing out against the brilliant colors of the hub. Terri didn’t want to interrupt him, but she was starving. She didn’t have any credits, and she felt a prick of guilt, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her. She was hungry, and the male had more than plenty. Surely, he wouldn’t miss one skewer. She would be quick—while the merchant in front of her was distracted.

She licked her lips, her muscles shifting as she prepared. She would be in and out before the male even knew what happened. She tensed and moved in for the kill.

Her foot slid forward on the floor when a hard hand closed around her shoulder. Her breath left her in a rush, emitting a slight squeak as Veral yanked her back against his abs, and she wheezed as her mate made a sound that was suspiciously close to a growl. Catching her breath, Terri leaned her head back against his hard body and met his piercing gaze, a slow, innocent smile spreading over her face.

“Done already?”

Veral rumbled, his vibrissae moving around his head with a bit more snap than its normally languid movements. His glowing eyes narrowed on her. “Did I not instruct you to not get into trouble?”

She gaped up at him. “I’m not in any kind of trouble. I was just here, observing all the interesting things in the—what did you call this place—a market?” She looked around once more, a heightened pleasure stirring in her breast as she took it all in.

Yes, she liked this place.

“If you steal, you will attract unpleasant attention,” her mate growled out. “We are only here to make our delivery, not to draw unwanted notice to ourselves.”

“I wasn’t going to steal. I would never take what someone else needs to survive. Can’t you see that the male has plenty to spare and is offering them indiscriminately to everyone who passes?”

“You know exactly how the credit system works,” he replied flatly. “We discussed it at length before our arrival on the space station.”

He had gone over it until her eyes threatened to cross from boredom. Scavenging was a lot less complicated. You found it before someone else did, and if they had surplus that they failed to protect, then it was fair game.

“I’m hungry,” she informed him irritably. She was always hungry as of late, her body demanding more and more nutrition.

“You are angry,” he observed, his head cocking with curiosity as his perceptive gaze scanned her.

“Angry-hungry,” she corrected.

In her mind, this was distinct. She wasn’t really angry, just feeling particularly unreasonable while her belly wasn’t satisfied. Though she was no stranger to going hungry, she found that she couldn’t abide by it now that she knew what a full stomach felt like. A new situation demanded its own word.

“I’m hangry,” she amended at last.

“Hangry…” Veral drawled, his brow plate lowering in consideration. “Is this something particular to your species? I have nothing on this in my databases.”

Terri shrugged. Whether it was or not didn’t particularly concern her. She just knew how she felt. She wanted to eat and felt more irritated every moment as her stomach gurgled and whined at her to be fed. If he wasn’t going to allow her to procure it for herself, why wouldn’t he just get her the damn food she needed? She glared at him impatiently.

A guttural sigh rattled out him,