Warriors of St. Antoni is the first of my new Portal Worlds Serials. The book is still being written and edited, so what you read today is subject to change without notice in the published version.
On St. Antoni you got tough or you died. The only defense is a gun; your security is your ability to use it. This is the story of three sisters and the choices they make to survive on St. Antoni. Bethany marries a mercenary warrior to shield her family from a predatory neighbor. To protect her sister, Iris chooses between an arranged marriage with a beloved friend and an outlaw. Jeanne and the son of her greatest enemy defy both their families to find love.
Technology to find and open gateways to alternative worlds was found on earth in the late 21st century. Those expecting to get rich off the tremendous resources on these new worlds controlled Access to them. People talk though, and it wasn’t long before the new technology became common knowledge and unregulated Portals cropped up. Illegal settlers passed through Forbidden gates looking for new places to live and find adventure and liberty.
With only the technology they could carry or build from raw materials on St. Antoni they built a new way of life. To survive they must rely on themselves. The learned to master deadly plants and animals. On St. Antoni, Adventure was a one-way trip to a hardscrabble life and Freedom meant relying on yourself for food, a roof over your head and safety.
This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any persons living or dead is unintentional and accidental. © Gail Daley 2017 All Rights reserved. Any duplication of this work electronically or printed, except for brief publicity quotes, is forbidden without the express written permission of the author. Cover Art © by Gail Daley’s Fine Art 2017
Serial Chapters are posted on Fridays. Check in next Friday for the next chapter of Warriors of St. Antoni
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BETHANY’S wedding to Alexander McCaffey four days later was attended by the whole town. Bethany wore a wedding dress especially made for her by Giselle with help from Lisette and Margo. Jeanne and Iris both looked beautiful as bridesmaids.
Jeanne pinned on a bright smile whenever anyone looked at her. Today she could not help reflecting that a wedding of her own was extremely unlikely. Too many obstacles, too many people stood between her and Samuel Johnson.
The Johnsons did not attend the wedding. When the marriage announcement and the engagement of Carlos Madonna to Iris had appeared in the town paper, Ira Johnson had abruptly remembered business up the river that required the presence of his two remaining sons. They had left on the regular steamboat that evening.
The wedding ceremony had been performed just after the evening service. The family walked back to The Hotel afterwards and had a quiet celebratory supper. While Alec, Carlos and Michael had a drink in the bar, the other women escorted Bethany upstairs to help her out of her wedding dress.
When they had dressed her in a soft green nightgown and brushed out her hair, Margo produced a small bottle from her pocket and poured a minuscule amount of the liquid into the water glass.
Jeanne stared at the glass. “What on earth is that?”
“Brandy. To help her relax,” Margo explained. She thoughtfully regarded her foster daughter. “Did your grandmama explain what is going to happen?”
Bethany nodded mutely.
“It is better not to be afraid,” Margo explained to Jeanne. “A good man does not like his wife to be afraid of loving. There will only be pain the first time, Nina. After that if you are persistent, you can teach him to help you enjoy loving too.”
Giselle kissed Bethany on the brow, and whispered, “It will be fine, you’ll see.”
Margo drew the girls out of the room.
Bethany obediently sipped her brandy, and curled up in the chair to wait for her husband.
Apparently Alec and Margo were of the same mind, because he brought up a bottle of champagne with him. He set the bucket of ice on the table, looking at her glass with surprise.
Bethany saw him looking at it and said defensively, “Margo gave it to me. I guess she could tell I’m a little nervous.”
“Me too. I mean I’m a little nervous too,” Alec responded.
“You? What do you have to be nervous about?”
He succeeded in in removing the cork from the champagne bottle and poured two glasses. He handed one to her. “I’ve heard some real horror stories about wedding nights and I didn’t want this to be another one.”
Alec picked up Margo’s offering and sniffed. “Brandy?” he inquired.
Bethany sipped cautiously at the champagne. The bubbles tickled her nose. “Yes. I must say, your remedy tastes much better than Margo’s,” she admitted.
When he held out his hand she allowed him to pull her to her feet. To her surprise, he sat down in her chair and pulled her back down onto his lap.
“Relax,” he said, feeling the stiffness of her body against him. “Let’s just talk for a while.”
“What do you want to talk about?”
She tensed a little as she felt his hand begin to stroke her hair.
“Let’s talk about you. Did you spend much time out here growing up?”
“Not really, Gran came and got us when I was ten and took us back east. We came back to visit a few times, but mostly I lived with Gran. It was exciting traveling on the railroad.”
Under his gentle prompting, Bethany told Alec a great deal about her early life. Insensibly she relaxed. It was some time later that she realized her champagne glass was empty. By this time, she was beginning to feel a little light headed.
When Alec pressed the first light kiss on her lips, she found it easy to kiss him back. Under her fingers, she could feel the trip hammer pulse of his heart. Tentatively, she slid her arm around his neck. Alec made a soft masculine groan of satisfaction against her lips and his tongue thrust into her mouth, deepening the kiss. He cupped her breast in his hand. Bethany gasped with surprise and pleasure when his hand grazed her upstanding nipple.
He lifted his head so he could watch her face while he caressed her. “Unbutton my shirt,” he said hoarsely. “I want you to touch me the way I’m touching you.”
Obediently, she undid the buttons and slid her hand inside to touch his chest. When she found the hard masculine nipples, and brushed them lightly with her fingers, he moaned, and caught her hand, bringing it to his mouth.
“Sorry, Darling,” despite his best effort, his voice was shaken. “Bad idea. I’ll never last if I let you touch me. I want to make it good for you this time.”
Bethany regarded him under lids made lazy by a combination of desire and champagne. “I feel good now.”
Alec stood up with her in his arms and walked to the bed. “You’re going to feel even better,” he promised, letting her legs slide down him. He caught the hem of the gauzy green nightgown and pulled it up as she sat down on the bed. The gown had been made for a wedding night and slipped easily over Bethany’s head, leaving her body bare.
He stood holding the gown, mesmerized by his first sight of his prize. Her skin was creamy white, the full breasts ending in upstanding pink peaks, sweeping down to a narrow waist. Her legs were long and white, crowned by a fiery thatch at the apex of her thighs. Alec closed his eyes and swallowed. He imagined those long thighs wrapped around his hips and had to resist the urge to throw himself on her and bury himself in her body.
She was a virgin, he reminded himself. He mustn’t frighten her. She was willing now, but if he scared her she might not be, and he realized suddenly that he wanted her to be willing. He wanted that sweet response she had showed him earlier.
He opened his eyes and smiled at her. “Get up in the bed,” he said, softly. “I’ll join you as soon as I get undressed.”
Obediently, she lay back against the pillows and eagerly watched him remove his clothes. The champagne had removed her inhibitions; she felt no embarrassment about being naked before him. She was conscious only of the ache between her legs and the way her breast still tingled where he had touched it. When he was naked, she could see the heavy muscles in his chest and shoulders, his small round buttocks, and powerfully muscled thighs and calves. She couldn’t help a gasp of surprise however when he turned around and her eyes fixed on his engorged shaft. A sharp answering thrust of pleasure lanced in her groin.
Misunderstanding her gasp of surprise for fear, Alec quickly gathered her into his arms, hiding his shaft from her sight. He smothered her mouth in an endless, aching kiss, his hand sliding down to cup her buttocks and press her against himself. She clung to him, thrusting her tongue into his mouth, delighting in the feel of his smooth skin under her hands.
His mouth left hers and began a trail of fire down her throat to her breast. When he took her engorged nipple in his mouth, Bethany moaned and bucked against him, and her legs parted involuntarily.
“Easy, Darling,” he whispered, his voice shaking. “We’ve got all the time in the world.”
His hand slid into the red curls, seeking and finding her small bud of pleasure. “O God, you’re already wet for me,” he moaned.
His fingers thrust inside her and she lifted herself against his hand. “That’s right, come for me baby,” he encouraged her, thrusting in and out against her nether tongue with his fingers.
When he bent and took her nipple in his mouth again, Bethany went over the edge, moaning in pleasure as she climaxed. It was too much. When he felt her fluttering against his fingers, he hurriedly pulled his hand out of her. Rolling between her legs, he thrust hard into her still quivering channel. Dimly, he was aware of her pleasure turning into a gasp of pain, but he was too far gone, thrusting in and out of her with frantic need. “I’m sorry,” he gasped. “I can’t wait. O God, I’m going to come now.”
Bethany had been jerked back to reality when the sharp pain of Alec’s penetration hit her, but his frantic movements lubricated her channel, and she began to feel a thrumming echo of her earlier pleasure. There was not enough time for the feeling to come to fruition; Alec was stiffening and moaning as his seed pumped into her.
Afterwards, he lay like an exhausted log on her, his face buried in her neck, as his breathing finally slowed. When his weight began to feel uncomfortable, she pushed tentatively at his shoulder. Obediently, he rolled off her, but pulled her with him so she was lying half on him, one of her legs across his hips. There was a dull ache between her thighs, and she could feel wetness beginning to leak back out, but a vast feeling of contentment washed over her as she remembered the pleasure that had preceded the pain. I think I’m going to like being married, she thought drowsily.
He turned his head to look at her. “Are you alright?” he asked.
“Mmhum,” she answered sleepily content.
“I’m sorry it hurt. I wish there was some other way,” he said tentatively, giving her the opportunity to rail at him if she wanted to. He vaguely remembered the girls at Madame Tousands saying that new brides were always angry after their first experience with sex. He was answered by a soft snore. After a moment, he reached down and pulled the covers up over them