The Autonomous is supposed to be just that, autonomous. The crew sleeps during the centuries-long flight to a new world, and then they wake up and begin the colonization process.
At least, that's how it's supposed to work. When crew member Lena wakes up unexpectedly, she finds the ship nearly in ruins, and almost the entire crew dead; all but Avery, another crew member who joined up to escape a double murder charge back on Earth. As the two of them grapple with being farther away from other humans than any others in the history of the species, they must figure out how to survive, how to continue on, and whether to give in to the temptations that such proximity brings... EXCERPT: “What are you doing?” she whispered. When he had the zipper down to her navel, he slid his hands inside of her suit and brushed them gently up her sides, around her back and down the curve her spine. Her flesh trembled everywhere he touched. “Body heat,” he answered her in a whisper, his lips close to her ear. “We can warm each other up.” “Avery, I mean, Lieutenant, I don’t know if—” his hands cupped her ass as she leaned into him and it broke her train of thought for the space of a few quick heartbeats “—I mean, I’ve never been with a guy. Naked with a guy, I mean,” she hastened to add, as if that explained it better, feeling heat now for sure but in her face where she was sure she was blushing fiercely. He didn’t stop, didn’t pull away, didn’t mock her. “I think we can do away with the Lieutenant rank now, don’t you? We’re just a man and a woman on a ship at the ends of the galaxy. Just the two of us. Just us.” His voice got lower and softer as his hands continued to warm her bare skin with gentle pressure and pleasant touch. She closed her eyes and gave herself over to it, over to him. Her breathing sped up as she forgot everything about their situation except this room, this moment, this experience. If they were going to die, she couldn’t think of any nicer way to go. On an impulse she fumbled the zipper down on his suit as well, her hands hesitantly touching his chest and the sparse covering of curly hairs there, then down those rippling abdominal muscles she had admired earlier. He murmured something low in his throat and his hands quickened in their movements on her. And then his fingers brushed across the bottoms of her breasts and the breath caught in her throat. When she dared to look up at him finally his face was centimeters from hers. So close, and the look in his eyes so plain in its intent. She knew what he wanted without him having to say it. And she knew she wanted it, too. “Avery…” She tried to put her feelings into words, and failed. “Shh,” he whispered to her, just as his lips met hers. The kiss was a slow burn that ignited flames deep inside of her. That fire centered itself between her legs and it was a slick heat that was damn near uncomfortable with its intensity. His lips moved across hers and their breath mingled in little plumes and his tongue licked at hers. It was the most sensuous kiss she had ever experienced. Avery slid her suit down her arms, the stiff material making crinkling noises that disturbed the oppressive silence. Sitting naked now from the waist up, she felt the cold in the air around her bite deeply into her skin. He knew how cold she was. "Under the blankets," he said against her mouth. “We’ll warm each other up under the blankets.” The bed they were on had been set up before the ship ever left dock. The whole ship had been meant to be ready-to-use. There were sheets and a blanket and she gratefully peeled them back to slide her body underneath. Avery stood next to the bed, giving her time to settle herself, and made sure she was watching him before he peeled off his own envirosuit. He let the simple piece of clothing fall to the floor. WARNING: This 6000+ word sci-fi erotic story contains graphic sex between space colonists, one a virgin, the other a suspected murderer, in a the wreckage o