Parker Williams

Why they’re my favorite: K.C. Wells

To close out 2018, I want to talk about—or maybe introduce you to—one of my favorite authors.

Her name is K.C. Wells, author of the Collars & Cuffs series, the Learning to Love series, the Material World series, the Personal series (which features Will Parkinson as a male escort!)

There are many reasons to love KC. She’s my sister from another mister, and she gives some of the best hugs. She’s always personable, open, and friendly. She writes some of the hottest sex scenes, and the most beautiful love stories.

I first met KC when I was introduced to Leo and Alex, the main characters from the first Collars & Cuffs book, An Unlocked Heart. I was mesmerized by the intricacies of not only the two men in the story, but also the supporting cast, especially Thomas Williams, who would go on to star in book two with his sub to be, Peter.

The book drew me in immediately, and I found the love that grew between the two men to be organic and natural, not forced in the least. And each man had something in his history that molded them into what they were going to become. Leo lost his sub and never recovered. Alex had a crappy home life, especially as he was the target of harassment from his brother, Rob (keep Rob in mind, okay?) K.C. showed the strength of not only Leo, but the budding realization for Alex that he wasn’t weak in the least.

From there I was hooked. I reached out to KC and found her to be a true joy. She was sweet and I found that I very much enjoyed talking with her. When she told me she was going to be working on a book for Thomas, and asked if I wanted to hear some of it, I said yes. (To be honest, I would have begged to hear it as it was being written.) When she told me what she’d done, I offered a few suggestions, and she liked them. Then she asked me if I’d be willing to help beta read the book. Of course, I said yes.

Once Thomas and Peter found their happy ever after, KC asked if I would ever consider writing something with her. I said no. When she asked why, I told her that my writing standards weren’t up to hers, and with her being in England and me in the US, I didn’t think we could make it work out. I got to the hotel one night (I was working third shift at the time), and as I was doing my tour of the buildings, her question came back to me, and I started having a think about a young American man and the English Dom who would come to keep him. When I talked with KC next, I floated the idea to her, and from there came our very first collaboration, Someone to Keep Me.

Working with KC was a learning experience. I tried to absorb everything she taught me, and put it to use in my own writing. Once again, she was kind and patient, and I was grateful to have her as a friend.

Fast forward many years and many books later and we get to my very favorite book by KC. BFF is an unrealistic plot: two straight men realize they’re in love with one another. Except it wasn’t unrealistic at all. In fact, the plot bunny was based on the real life story of Mike and Garrett (https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14997/im-an-otherwise-straight-man-who-fell-in-love-with-his-best-friend.html) which she fell in love with and wanted to tell the story. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read it. I even own the paperback, which I rarely do. But this story has everything that I love, especially an amazing happy ever after.

And that’s what K.C. is all about. Making people happy. It might take time, it will definitely take work, but they’re going to get there. They’re going to find love, friendship, family. No, not just that, they’re going to find life.

That’s where she excels, bringing men together, and finding a way to make their imperfect worlds perfect together.

And that is why K.C. Wells is one of my favorites.

Why they’re my favorite: Mary Calmes

Why they’re my favorite: Mary Calmes

We’re starting something new today. Every so often, I’m going to tell you about why an author is one of my favorites. This will take some time, seeing as how I have so many. But today we’re going to talk about the inimitable Mary Calmes, author of Again, Frog, the Warder series, the Marshals series, and so many more.

 

Why they’re my favorite…

 

Today’s author: Mary Calmes

I honestly cannot recall my first book by Mary. They all blend together in one amazingly complex world, where even things you don’t think are connected just might be.

I think, but don’t quote me, my first was Sam & Jory. I fell for Sam hard, because he’s exactly the kind of book hero I like. Big, bold, strong. And then I got to the end of the first book and then read the second. I’m going to admit something here. I kind of hated Sam for a while. But, because he got his head out of his butt and saw what was in front of him, became the man that his family needed, I grew to love him again.

Many of Mary’s characters have an intrinsic flaw, something that you’re going to see as a chink in their armor. I don’t look at it that way, though. I see it not as a defect, but as a personality trait. Sam’s was he was bigger than life, and I did something foolish. I had expectations of him. Where Mary Calmes is concerned, that’s never a wise idea, because she doesn’t just write outside the box, she obliterates it.

Whether it be shifters, vampires, federal marshals, warders, or broken down cowboys, her men are alive, breathing, and altogether human.

My favorite book by her is Again. It’s the story of Dante and Noah who, through machinations in the background, are separated for years. When they come together again, and Dante learns the truth, he pursues Noah, certain he’s the best thing for his former husband. He’s not perfect. He’s flawed. But he loves with his whole heart.

At the core, that’s what Mary’s books are about. Giving your heart to that person who will always keep it safe, never betray your trust in them, and will always—always—be there for you when you need them.

And that’s why Mary Calmes is one of my favorites.

Man, it’s been busy!

Okay, let me get you caught up on what’s going on for me.

#1: Lincoln’s Park, the first book in the ‘Links in the Chain’ series is coming out October 13th. Here’s the cover and an excerpt.

#2: I wrote a ghost story! Believe it or not, I’m trying something new. The Spirit Key is due out in January or February. I don’t have a cover yet, but here’s the blurb:

When he was eight years old, Scott Walsh died. Paramedics revived him, but he came back changed. Ghosts and spirits tormented Scott for over a decade until, thinking he was going mad, he did the only thing he could. He ran—leaving behind his best friend, Tim Jennessee.

Scott’s had five normal, ghost-free years in Chicago, when the spirit of Tim’s mother comes to him and begs him to go home because Tim’s in trouble and needs Scott.

He isn’t prepared for what he finds when he goes home—a taller and sexier Tim, but a Tim who hasn’t forgiven Scott for abandoning him… a Tim whose body is no longer his own. The ghost of a serial murderer has attached itself to Tim, and it’s whispering dark and evil things. It wants Tim to kill, and it’s becoming harder for Tim to resist. To free the man who has always meant so much to him, Scott must unravel the mystery of the destiny he shares with Tim.

#3: Yesterday I got a contract for Galen’s Redemption, book two in the ‘Links in the Chain’ series! This one doesn’t have a cover or blurb, but this is what I sent with the submission:

Galen Merriweather loved the power that came with being the son of the man who owns Primal Imports. Brokering deals was his life’s blood, and he always thought he was damn good at it. The day his father tried to pay his brother’s lover to leave him left him cold, and for the first time, Galen wondered at what he was doing. The biggest blow came when his father insisted Galen retrieve a check for a quarter million dollars that had been given to a charity.

Robert Kotke has been serving the homeless community since he was a child. He doesn’t understand how people can ignore their plight. When he’s given a check that would solve many of his problems, he knows someone will come for it, so he puts it away. When Galen shows up, Robert gives him back the money.

The two meet again in a bar, and Galen is terrified Robert is going to out him. But Robert does something even stranger. He invites Galen out for chili. Galen’s beliefs are thrown into turmoil, and he’s not sure which way is up. When the time comes for Galen to make a decision between Robert and the job he’s always dreamed of, which will Galen choose?

#4: I’m currently working on the third and final book of the Links in the Chain series. This one doesn’t have a title yet, but here’s a rough idea of what you can expect.

Tom Kotke met Brian Chen twenty-five years ago, and Brian stole his heart. The two married, and had plans for a long life together. That came to a crashing stop when Brian got the diagnosis of terminal cancer. Given less than a year to live, Brian surprised everyone by hanging on for five years. But no force of will can hold back the inevitable forever, and one night, in Tom’s arms, Brian passes away.

Unknown to Tom, Brian left instructions with the family that accepted him, telling them that Tom needed to get out there and fine love again. Though Tom protests, he’s dragged out of his shell and forced back into the world. One day, while sitting in Lincoln’s diner, he meets Aiden, a friend of Noel’s. Something about the young man calls to Tom in a way no one since Brian has.

Aiden Dawson struggles to be independent. With his screwed up legs, he’s always had to depend on things and people. When his parents kicked him out, Aiden’s sister steps up and raises him. And he loves her, really, but he wants a chance to experience life. He knows that no one is ever going to look twice at him, though. They’ll only see his wheelchair. But the day he meets Tom, that changes. Tom doesn’t even look twice at the chair.

A man who swore he’d never love again, and another who thought he’d never find love come together and bond. Is it possible to find love after loss?

Maybe.

#5: In November I’ll be once again working with K.C. Wells on book four of the Secrets series. This one doesn’t have a title yet, but the men meet in a bookstore! I’m looking forward to working on this one. Now, I don’t have a lot of details, but I can give you a totally unedited excerpt. Remember, this might change or may even end up on the cutting room floor, so don’t fall too much in love just yet.

Heath Snow walked to the large wooden door with the glass that held the etched glass logo of Wordsmith Books. He turned the sign to ‘Closed’, then slumped against the heavy wooden frame. If the receipts were right, and they always were, It had been a decent day. Nothing to write home about, of course, but still, he’d made enough money to pay the rent and do some grocery shopping this month. He chuckled to himself. He’d come a long way in the last sixteen months. From reading stories to owning a bookshop. He checked the time. Almost nine. There hadn’t been a customer in over an hour, but he’d decided to stay open, just in case someone decided they needed a last minute read.

He stepped behind the counter, picked up his copy of A Gentlemen’s Agreement, then walked up the stairs to his flat. It was nice not having to go far to get home after work. He chuckled to himself, a little giddy after too little sleep last night. And he’d need to get up early in the morning in order to restock the shelves, place an order, clean up the little messes in the common area. All that stuff he hated to do, but damn, did he love the way the store shone when he did it.

After putting a pie in the oven, he took a seat so he could continue where he’d left off. Master Byerly was just getting ready to put his submissive, the cute, pug-nosed Malcolm, through his paces. Heath’s chest heaved as he read about Byerly paddling his boy’s ass, turning it a brilliant shade of red, not unlike a glass of merlot. Deep, rich, and so ready to be sampled. God, Heath loved Byerly and Malcolm together. They tore up the scenery with every encounter. This was their third book, and Heath found himself ordering one to read after the shop closed, when he could sit up in his room and fantasize.

“You’ll take it, because I require it, boy. Do you understand?”

Malcolm drew in a breath. “Yes, my lord.”

Byerly greased his prod, then spread Malcolm’s cheeks. He groaned loudly as he entered his boy, the tightness gripping him like a velvet fist.

Heath reached down to adjust himself. It had been a long time since he’d gone home with anyone, and that didn’t even qualify as a one-night stand. More like a half an hour of some guy grunting while he took Heath, who grew bored after the first few minutes and began putting together his todo list for the morning. The man had no style or technique. It was obvious he only wanted somewhere warm to stick his cock, and since the bar had announced last call, and Heath had needed to get off, he’d accepted the invite from the portly gentleman with the three wisps of gray hair the hung over his forehead. Well, Heath hadn’t been needy again after that. Slipping into a book, pretending he was Malcolm, with Byerly mounting him from behind, taking what he wanted. Fuck yes. Better than most of the sex he’d had in his twenty-six years.

His erection was starting to ache, so Heath unbuttoned his trousers, and slid a hand down them. He gripped his shaft, which strained at the fabric. He glanced over at the timer on the oven. The pie still had thirty minutes to go, so he could definitely make good use of the time.

“Do I please you, my lord?”

Swat. An open hand came down on Malcolm’s arse, causing him to squawk.

“You know better than to talk,” Byerly grunted, thrusting into Malcolm in one swift stroke. “You speak when your Master wishes it, not before. Do you understand?”

Before Malcolm could reply, another hard swat found its target.

“Yes, my Lord.”

Byerly shoved his turgid length into Malcolm over and over, each time causing his stableboy to grunt or moan. Whether it was with pain or pleasure didn’t matter. All that Byerly cared for is his own needs. If—when—Malcolm satisfied those, then Byerly would see to his boy’s.

Fuck, Heath loved this book. Hes tightened the grip around his shaft. He moved his hand up and down, slowly stroking himself as he imagined his lord, Byerly, using Heath for his pleasure.

“Yes, my Lord,” Heath gasped. He stood on the edge of the precipice, waiting for Byerley to tell him he could step off, and plunge into ecstasy. So close. So fucking—

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

“Shit. What the hell?” Heath scowled as he looked at the time. Almost nine-thirty. Who would be knocking at his door at this hour?”

He shoved his straining shaft back into his pants, straightened his glasses, pulled the pie from the oven and put it on the counter, and then grabbed his book before he tromped downstairs, ready to give whoever it was a piece of his mind.

The knocking continued, annoying Heath even more. He could see the silhouette of a man standing huddled in the doorway. Heath put his book down at the register, then went and yanked the door open. As soon as he did, the man turned in his direction, and all words fled Heath. Standing there was an insanely sexy man, with a sheepish grin. If Heath would have described Byerly, it would be the man before him. Dark hair, not quite as long as he thought Byerly would have, and intense blue eyes. Though he couldn’t be certain with the jacket the man wore, he imagined he had a good build. Not too muscled, but not overly soft either.

Heath swallowed hard. “Can I…help you…uh…sir?”

So there you have it! What’s shaping up here for the future. Thank you for stopping by to read all about it.

Serving him by L.M. Somerton

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Serving Him – The Retreat #1

Author: L M Somerton

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Cover Artist: Cherith Vaughan

Genre/s: MM BDSM

Length: 57,670 words/151 pages

It is a standalone story 

Add on Goodreads 

Buy Links

Pride Publishing

Global Amazon link

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Blurb

An escape from the real world can only ever be temporary.

Rowan Stanton knows he is submissive. He loves to look after people but the country hotel he works at can’t quite fulfill his need to serve. When he succeeds at getting a new role as houseboy at The Retreat, an exclusive BDSM hideaway in the New Forest, he believes it’s his dream job. Inexperienced in many ways, he soon realizes he’s not as prepared as he thought for the demands placed upon him.

Lorcan Wilder is young, rich and successful. He’s also haunted by nightmares and has sacrificed a decade to his business. Selling it gives him the freedom to explore his Dominant side and four weeks at The Retreat are the start of a new life. He doesn’t expect the young submissive employed to serve him will have such a profound effect on him. Exploring and pushing Rowan’s boundaries is exactly what Lorcan needs to separate himself from his past.

Lorcan makes full use of The Retreat’s facilities, from the genuine dungeon to the secret toys concealed in every room. He rediscovers his energy for life and gradually re-engages with the world. However, his efforts to compartmentalize the past ultimately fail and he comes to realize what he’s always known—that true submissives have an inner strength he can only envy.

By the end of his stay, Lorcan can’t let Rowan go, though he thinks he must. What will convince him that he’s allowed a happy ever after, and will he find the courage to accept it?

Day of Wrath by Anna Butler

DAY OF WRATH

The award-winning Taking Shield series comes to its shattering conclusion in Day of Wrath.

About The Book

In less than a week, Bennet will finally return to the Shield Regiment, leaving behind the Gyrfalcon, his father, his friends… and Flynn. Promotion to Shield Major and being given command of a battle group despite the political fallout from Makepeace the year before is everything he thought he wanted. Everything he’s worked towards for the last three years. Except for leaving Flynn. He really doesn’t want to leave Flynn.

There’s time for one last flight together. A routine mission. Nothing too taxing, just savouring every moment with the best wingman, the best friend, he’s ever had. That’s the plan.

Bennet should know better than to trust to routine because what waits for them out there will change their lives forever.

Title: Day of Wrath

Author: Anna Butler

Series: Taking Shield

Necessary to read previous 4 books? Yes

Wordcount: c106,300

Category: Sci Fi, Gay mainstream.

eBook Publication Date: 28 June 2018

Paperback: Available now from Amazon or direct from Anna’s website

Publisher: Glass Hat Press © 2018

Editor: Val Selby-Wolfe at Scarlet Tie

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

Goodreads Link

More information and background on the Shield Universe here

Buy Links

Day of Wrath is available at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and iBooks.

Link to a digital bookstore near you

Giveaway

Rafflecoptor giveaway to win one of three prizes:

– 25$ (or equivalent) Amazon gift card

– signed copy of Gyrfalcon, the first Taking Shield book

– your pick of an eBook from Anna’s back catalogue

Rafflecoptor code
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Excerpt

(choose one of the following three excerpts)

Excerpt One

A laser bolt sizzled past him. Shit! They were after him. The scanner was still suffering from Maess jamming, but Flynn could make out four Maess fighters behind him. Another laser bolt flashed past, his scanners showing it blood scarlet against the blackness of space.

Flynn’s scanner picked up Bennet rolling his Hornet to one side. A laser bolt missed him by only a few feet. Close. Too close. There had been all too many of them in the last hour. They’d done nothing but dogfight Maess fighters since they found Jilly and Bennet took back command for their share of the battle.

“Wingover loop,” Bennet ordered. “Best chance we’ve got.”

Good call. They had to get the bastards off their afterburners.

Flynn flung his Hornet up into a vertical curving quarter loop, still at top sub-light speed. He flat-turned at the top and dived down into another quarter loop to flatten out. They were facing the Maess full on, now. The abrupt change caught the Maess by surprise. The four Maess fighters scattered as Bennet and Flynn zoomed at them.

Flynn pressed his thumb onto the firing button and kept it there. Clipped one of the Maess and sent it spinning off to one side, but Bennet got another one head on as they flew through, the lucky bastard.

“Wingover to give chase,” Bennet said.

Flynn repeated the wingover, flat turning to change direction through 180 degrees again, only a few hundred yards from Bennet’s left wing. They were bloody smooth, moving as if they were connected by wires, coming up on the Maess from behind. Best pilots in Fleet, they were. Had to be. Along with Cruz who, as Flynn had expected, was out there with her pilots on Bennet’s starboard flank. He hadn’t had time to do more than greet her on their arrival and try to keep as much of an eye on her as he could spare from watching Bennet’s back.

Flynn centred a Maess fighter on the targeting screen and fired. Hit it. Damaged it enough to bleed its shields, not enough to kill it. Another second to be sure of his aim, and then again, the weapons array had the target centred. Another shot, and Flynn was suddenly flying through a miniature asteroid belt of Maess fighter parts, all bouncing off his shields and making the Hornet rattle.

Best bloody noise in the world, that.

(c 400 words)

Excerpt Two

The sharp ringing of the bell on the bar cut through all the conversations and laughter. The bartender could yell too. “Quiet! Lieutenant Flynn has an announcement to make!”

Bennet turned his head and jack-knifed to sit upright. Oh, the bastard wasn’t—

“All right, boys and girls!” Flynn was almost bouncing on his toes, grinning. He always did like being the focus of everyone in sight. “We’re here tonight because of mindless military tradition—in our case, getting traditionally mindless on good liquor as we welcome our newest ensigns—but I don’t think they’d mind if I crash their party for a few minutes. Everyone got a drink?”

A host of glasses were waved at him. Bennet tried to choke down a sigh. The bastard was, damn him.

“Excellent! I like to see our old customs embraced with such fervour. We have another custom, if you remember. If someone gets promoted they buy drinks for the entire OC, am I right?”

Flynn was completely at his ease, the damned treacherous sod.

“You all know that we’re kicking the captain off the ship at the end of the month and sending him back to Shield. But what you don’t know is that Fleet’s put such a polish on the man, such a lustre, that when Shield gets him back they’re punting him up a rank. I reckon that’s worth at least two drinks each. What do you say?”

Bennet put his head in his hands. Someone’s hand connected painfully with the area between his shoulder blades as surprised silence fractured into cheers, yells and foot stamping. Pilots jumped up and down, waving their glasses at him. Another thump to the back and Carson was pulling him to his feet and into the most astonishing hug, yelling in his ear.

Bennet had to laugh. It was that or commit murder.

Flynn let it go on for a moment or two, before getting the bartender to ding that bloody bell again.

Bennet was half-enveloped in hugs, half-deafened by shouted good wishes. Yelling her delight, Cruz flung her arms around his neck, and the smacking kiss to the cheek had his ears ringing. His face felt as if it were on fire.

“Flynn, I am going to hurt you for this.” He smiled in a way that he hoped suggested pleasant anticipation. It was hard to stop grinning and laughing, but he tried. “I’m going to dangle you out of an airlock by your favourite appendage.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Flynn waved a dismissive hand to a chorus of laughter and catcalls. “You always promise me that and so far, you’ve never delivered. There’s only so long a man can hang around waiting. Point is, while we’re sad to see you go, Bennet, we’re delighted that you’re getting promoted. We’ll miss you, and Shield are damn lucky to get you back. Right, people?”

More cheers and yells that died only at the insistent ringing of the bell. Flynn raised his glass. “Charge your glasses, and let’s hear it for the captain—no! For the Shield Major elect. Shield Major Bennet!”

The roar should have split open bulkheads. Bennet yelped and fell back in a scrum of a couple of dozen pilots and more were heading his way. The breath was knocked out of him with a whoosh that could probably be heard parsecs away.

Gods. He’d kill Flynn when he got hold of him. Kill him.

At least, that’s what he promised himself until Flynn fought his way through the scrum to deliver his own bone-crushing hug, and Bennet saw Flynn’s eyes were bleak and that his mouth was drawing down, just as his own wanted to do, and he said nothing. There really wasn’t anything he could say.

(c620 words)

Excerpt three

The storeroom was empty and Flynn had long ago learned how to over-ride the door mechanism and lock it from the inside. He did so now, not wanting to be interrupted.

And, of course, now that Bennet was back and he had the privacy he wanted, Flynn’s rehearsed speeches vanished from his mind and tongue. Which was annoying. “I don’t suppose you can tell me what you were doing back home?”

“What do you think?”

Flynn managed a creditable laugh. “That I’m playing for time.” He gestured to the back wall, where piles of new uniforms made a comfortable seat. They sat side by side, leaning back against the wall. “I took a leaf out of your book and I’ve been practising what I want to say. Trouble is, I’ve forgotten my lines.”

“Keep it simple then.” Bennet’s grin was lopsided. “I’m running on fumes right now, anyway. I can’t handle complex.”

Flynn nodded. “Well, ‘simple’ is that no matter what I might have said when I was mad with you—and the gods help me, I was so mad with you I couldn’t see straight—you are the most important person in my life. I kinda think you always will be. But we are where we are. You’re going, I’m staying here. You’re Shield, I’m Fleet.” He forced another laugh, but it didn’t sound quite as credible. “Doomed. We were doomed from the start.”

Bennet’s laugh wasn’t any better than Flynn’s. He slipped his hand into Flynn’s. “We were.”

“Star-crossed, I said when you left to go back to Albion.”

“Yeah, and that sucks. Because, you too. No one more important.”

“It sucks balls the size of planets. Galaxies.” Flynn tightened his grip on the warm hand in his. “We only have a few weeks, and I know better than to think things can be different just because of that. We’re still star-crossed. Except, maybe, at the end…?”

He hated that he sounded so unsure, but then Bennet’s mouth curved up a fraction.

“Maybe.”

It wasn’t much of a promise, but he’d take what he could get. Flynn leaned his head back against the metal wall. An instant later and Bennet copied him, rolling his head to one side until he was almost touching Flynn’s. A better outlook than Flynn could have hoped for, even a couple of weeks earlier.

Flynn let the deep, mostly subliminal hum of the Gyrfalcon’s engines soothe him. “I don’t suppose we could stay in here and never come out?”

“They’ll come looking for us.”

“Yeah.” Flynn had to concede that. “So, did you get the Hyperion back?”

“No.” Bennet pulled a face at him. “They bumped me up to major. I’ve got a Shield battle-group to look after. Three Shield ships to command.”

“A promotion? Seriously?”

“Yeah. Not formally until I step off this ship, but yeah. Shield Major.”

“We don’t have majors in Fleet,” Flynn said.

“Well, I’m not Fleet. And the Shield Regiment doesn’t have that ‘regiment’ tacked onto the name just because someone thought the two words sounded well together. Shield started out in Infantry centuries ago, and Infantry does have majors.”

Flynn made a tchtching noise. “Some people have no shame, confessing to low origins like that. But seriously, that is brilliant news!”

“It would be brilliant if I didn’t have work going on with the Strategy Unit again. You know, I’m seriously thinking that I’ll give it a year, then I’ll get out.”

Flynn blinked. “That’s a bit drastic.”

“It’s a family tradition that we all serve, Flynn. But some days I reckon I’ve done enough. More than enough.”

Flynn couldn’t hold back the derisive snort. “Only if you have that sense of duty surgically removed.”

Bennet stared at him, mouth turned down at the corners, his lips pressed tight together. After a moment he blew out a noisy sigh and lifted one shoulder in a slight shrug. “I know. It’s a fantasy that I have choices.”

“You said it yourself to the kids, Bennet. Stand and fight.” Flynn found his grip on Bennet’s hand had slackened. He glanced down at them, his brown hand curved around Bennet’s long white fingers. He used his thumb to make little smoothing motions over the back of Bennet’s hand, relishing the almost imperceptible shiver Bennet gave. “If you did leave the military, what would you do? The history thing back at the museum?”

“Maybe. But what I’d like to do some front-line archaeology. Trace our route back to Earth and do some star-mapping and exploration, run a few digs when we find something worth investigating. Never stay anywhere long, just keep moving. I’d like that.”

Flynn saw that for the first time in a long while Bennet’s expression was relaxed, open; that the fine, tight lines of tension around his mouth and eyes had eased. “A ship of your own? You’ll need a crew.”

“Do you want to sign up?”

“Well, there won’t be any fraternisation rules, will there?”

Bright eyes glanced at him sidelong. “No. There won’t.”

“Pay?”

“A pittance. You do it for academic glory.”

“I prefer cash.” Flynn smiled at Bennet’s amused snort. He was silent for a few minutes. Beside him Bennet relaxed. “Well, I like the idea of wandering around and exploring stuff and having adventures. That sounds exciting. The digging part of it sounds more like hard work than I’m strictly comfortable with.”

“It never killed anyone yet.”

“I’m gonna have to see the medical studies before I take your word for it. It’s beside the point, anyway. I have delicate hands and shouldn’t ruin them with a shovel. But all in all, it sounds like a reasonable job.” Flynn smiled at Bennet’s profile. “I’m on—if I can sign up as First Mate.”

Bennet tilted his head until it was resting against Flynn’s. “The job’s yours. Until I get a better applicant, of course.”

“In your dreams.” Flynn let it all smooth away, slip into a comfortable silence. He had less than four weeks of this before Bennet was gone again, and he wasn’t going to waste any of it. Not one second.

He brought his other hand across to enclose Bennet’s in both of his, and let his eyes close.

(c1000 words)

About Anna

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She lives with her husband in a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside. She’s supported there by the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo, who is assisted by the lovely Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several sizes larger than she is but no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

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