Doing Thyme by Kate Hill
(Erotic Science Fiction)
From Ellora's Cave
In a high-security prison on future Earth, Thyme has fallen for convict Ross. After release, he plans to extend his punishment by signing on as manager of a lab on an uninhabited planet. Thyme believes Ross deserves a second chance. The only way to convince this wounded alien crossbreed that he’s meant to be loved is to follow him to the planet.
Ross knows the potential for violence still lurks within him. Over the past four years his prison counselor has provided comfort and stability he’s never experienced before. When she becomes his unexpected guest, that love turns to lust. He and Thyme surrender to the all-consuming passion between them but disaster threatens to steal their happiness and their lives.
Ross Lovell stepped into the therapy room and took the seat across from the black glass wall separating him from his counselor.
On the other side of the glass, Thyme Westcott's pulse quickened and her grip tightened involuntarily on the arms of her chair. No matter how she'd tried to curb her desire for Ross, she'd failed miserably. She'd kept the semblance of professionalism and had even convinced herself he meant no more to her than any of the other prisoners assigned to her for therapy. Now she had no choice but to admit her feelings, if only to herself. Ross would be released soon.
Released. She nearly laughed aloud. The life he had chosen for himself was worse than the sentence he'd served. For the past several months she'd tried talking him out of it, but he held firm.
Last year he'd been accepted into a special rehabilitation program offered only to prisoners who passed rigorous intellectual and psychological tests. Placing the wrong personality type in the job he had trained for would end in disaster. Thyme studied him carefully, knowing this would probably be the last chance she'd have. Tall with a lean, athletic build, he had short, dark brown hair and enormous blue eyes that at first glance seemed icy, but actually displayed a variety of emotions. They blazed when his temper rose or glistened when something amused him. The lines around his eyes didn't detract from him, but made him seem more real, as did the long, jagged scar running just below his left eye to his jawline.
Thyme had never gone for pretty boys, so Ross' rugged, square-jawed looks appealed to her. His hands rested on his long, hard-looking thighs that strained against the heavy black fabric of his prison trousers. Those hands were beautifully-formed, the fingers rounded and the nails short and clean. It was difficult to believe those hands were capable of committing the crimes that had sent him to prison.
After counseling him for the past four years, Thyme knew the brutal life he'd led and understood the circumstances that had brought him here. Her job was to help him come to terms with what he'd done and why he'd done it. She needed to ensure that once he was released, he'd not be a danger to society, yet she couldn't help feeling society had damaged him long before he broke the law.
She remembered the first time she'd seen Ross. Angry, closed to everyone and everything, he'd spent more time in solitary during his first year than anyone in the past. He'd been completely uncooperative with the first two counselors assigned to him, but the moment Thyme met him, she swore to be the one to get through.
She'd seen many prisoners during her time as a counselor and had learned to be a good judge of who had potential and who was a lost cause. Something in Ross' eyes told her the man was more than he seemed. Yes he'd committed crimes but his weren't the eyes of a criminal. A crazy contradiction coming from someone like her, educated and generally sensible.
When she'd met him, she wasn't a naïve girl just out of psych school, but a woman who had been in the business long enough to develop a thick skin and enough cynicism to taint even her personal life. She knew how dangerous a man like Ross could be. How deadly.
In spite of his initial rebellion, he had slowly opened up to her. She'd weaned him off the meds he'd been pumped with to keep him mellow and replaced them with milder drugs proven to keep his particular disorder under control. Eventually, as his mind cleared, he learned to trust her and started to understand who and what he was.
She'd talked him into enrolling in the prison study program. Ross proved to be a fast learner and highly intelligent, two benefits of the experiment that had also cursed him with an unnaturally high aggression level that had sent him down the path of destruction.
Now that he was under control, he had so much potential. It saddened her to think a man like this had wasted half his life. Now he'd be wasting more, at least as far as she was concerned. He'd done his time and had the chance for a new life. Apparently she'd failed in another important part of her job. She hadn't convinced him to forgive himself or at least accept that he had also been a victim, driven to commit his crimes by a force he couldn't control.
She sighed. There was little more she could do to change his mind and it was time for their last session to begin.
"Good afternoon, Ross," she said, knowing he wouldn't hear the true sound of her voice. The filters in the therapy room altered it so the patient couldn't even tell if his counselor was male or female. The black glass prevented him from seeing her. At Bane Isle Maximum Security Prison all therapy sessions were conducted in this manner.
Bane only accepted inmates who were part of ACT--Alien Conversion Testing. It was one of the only prisons in the world equipped to retain and rehabilitate the victims of ACT. The Earth Psych Counsel in charge of ACT deemed it necessary to hide counselors' identities for their own protection. There was the chance an escaped or released prisoner might seek retribution of the system through them.
"Hi, Counselor. I guess this is it. Our last one-on-one," Ross said. His voice was unfiltered and the sound of it, neither too deep nor too high but with an underlying roughness, aroused her more than she wanted to admit.
It was the voice she imagined whispering in her ear late at night when she dipped her hand between her legs and into her hot, wet pussy. She fantasized about his fingers, damp with her juices, slowly rubbing her clit until the sensitive flesh tingled and throbbed with need. His was the voice she wanted to pant her name in ecstasy while he filled her over and over with his cock.
Thyme moistened her lips that had suddenly gone dry. She shifted in her chair, crossing her legs in an attempt to appease the sexual ache summoned by her lustful thoughts over the man she wanted more than any other but could never have--at least not if she wanted to keep her job.
"Yes, Ross, this is it," she said. "You've come a long way and should be proud of yourself."
"I owe you, Counselor."
For four years he'd called her Counselor. It was against the rules for him to know her name. She hated the rules. Rules had caused him so much grief to begin with. They had forced those involved in ACT to keep important information from participants and had spawned a generation of potential monsters.
Rules prevented her from marching into the therapy room, flinging her arms around his neck, kissing his chiseled lips and letting him know she'd fallen in love with him.
"You don't owe me," she replied. "I've only guided you but you've done the hard work yourself. You've let me inside and allowed me to help you and you're the one who put in all those hours of study. Not everyone has the ability to run an entire observation lab on his own. It's one of the most difficult study programs offered here."
"By the end of the week I'll be putting it to good use."
"On Observation Lab Jefferson Ten." She leaned forward in her chair, as if he could see the concern on her face. "Ross, are you sure you won't reconsider? Choose another post. One with--"
"No," he said curtly. "I've made up my mind. Jefferson Ten is where I belong." That particular observation lab, located on an uninhabited planet at the farthest corner of a galaxy called the Amethyst Arc, was completely secluded. Owned by a private company unwilling to pay for more than one caretaker at a time, Jefferson Ten had been on a job list circulated among prisons offering the observation lab study program. Newly released prisoners worked for less pay, since many companies refused to hire them. Thyme thought managers of such companies little better than criminals themselves, seeking cheap labor from desperate people.
"Listen to me," she continued. "You'll be completely alone for three years."
"Why do you want to do that to yourself?"
His jaw tightened visibly and he shifted in his seat. "You know why."
"You're a different person than when you first came here."
"I've changed enough to realize my limitations. Jefferson Ten is where I belong, Counselor, and it's where I want to be. It will give me lots of time to think."
"Or to hide."
A glimmer of irritation shone in his eyes but he kept it under control. That was probably the most important achievement from their sessions, his ability to regulate his temper. "I'm not hiding. I'm doing what I need to. You're the one who said a man should know his limitations and his abilities. I work best alone."