Monday, February 20, 2012

Fickle February

What is it about February that's so blah. It's like the Thursday of months - not bad enough to be a Monday, but lacking the excitement of a Wednesday or Friday. Depending on where you live, February can be a dreary time as well.

Cold? Check. Snow? *looks out window* Check. Grey sky? Oh yeah.

The only great thing about February is that it's short. Oh well, and that Valentine's Day thing. But many people are mixed on how awesome VDay really is. (I personally think it rocks, but that's because my husband is amazing and it's also my sister's birthday).

All this said, I find February becomes my month to write and scratch things off my To Do list. In other words, I Get Shit Done. This year is no exception. So far I've sold one manuscript (more to come on that next month), should hear on a second, and have finished writing a third. I've also taught an online course, which was a blast. With nothing else to distract me, I'm finally hitting my stride.

But as March rolls around and the world looks to spring, will that momentum keep going? Only time will tell. :)

Christine's latest release is Spectral Bond, book five in her Eternal Bond series from Ellora's Cave.

Jumping inside the tube, Moira huffed out a breath, turned around and froze. No, that was impossible.

A man stood in the middle of the passageway, his back to her. He was dressed in one of those old 2245 memorial uniforms she’d seen pictures of lining the conference rooms back at Eurus. It looked to be the Briel version, though the man appeared to be human. The black fabric of the fitted back was highlighted by silver edging around the collar and waist. He was far enough away to almost blend into the darkness of the passage.


Of course the intruder showed up now. “Hey!” There was no response from the man. “Idiot, there’s a solar burst coming. You’re going to get stuck! It won’t be safe down here.” Dressed like that and being in this part of the outpost meant he was most likely a scavenger from off planet. He’d probably landed at Eurus and ventured out to what he guessed to be easy pickings.


Moira slammed her hand against the side of the tube door, trying to hold it open long enough to give him a chance to run. “Move! The radiation will kill you if you’re trapped in the corridors. The shielding has been compromised in this sector!”

The man cocked his head to the side, continuing to stare at something further down the passage. Moira thought there was something vaguely familiar about him, the shape of his shoulders and the tilt of his head, but at this distance it was difficult to know for sure. She was about to call out to him again, when the words died in her mouth.

He’d vanished.

Not stepped to the side or hidden behind a wall. He wasn’t transported by a beam somehow or fell through a hole. One second he was there, Moira blinked and then he was gone.


“What the hell?” she muttered as the tube doors slid shut despite her grip. “No!”

Moira pounded on the door to the tube before slamming her palm against the emergency release button. Nothing stopped the ascent of the platform, taking her to safety and leaving that poor bastard to his doom.

Chaos had exploded in the control center as everyone checked the outpost’s defenses, frantically getting ready for the inevitable blast of radiation. She caught sight of the frazzled McKillan racing around. How a man as short as he was could move as quickly as he did, Moira hadn’t a clue. Careful not to get in his way, she tapped the top of his head with her finger.

“You’re a bastard.”

He snorted. “That’s not news. What did I do now?”

“You said there were no other bio signatures in the basement. We must have another gap that the scavengers found. There was a man down there with me and now he’s going to get himself fried because I couldn’t get him out in time.”

“Move your bony ass.” He pushed his way past her. “There wasn’t another bio signature down there. You’re seeing things.”

“I’m not blind, McKillan. I know what I saw. Big guy standing in front of me.”

“The scanners only registered one life sign. Yours. Everyone else has been accounted for. And I had Security Chief Taber come out and do the security upgrades after the last time we had a break-in. No one is getting past that. You’re seeing things.”

“But—” She snapped her mouth shut. It was only going to make her look more of a troublemaker than people already thought she was if she argued the point. And as much of an ass as McKillan was, he’d never once shown he was incompetent.

Which meant it was possible she was losing her mind.


Moira spun around on instinct and snapped to attention. “Yes, Commander Taggert?” The Briel was the only one who’d been assigned to the outpost. The colony administration had needed a secondary location to conduct experiments on the silicate from the mines. The initial results had been deadly to the Briel. Only Taggert remained while the rest of the Briel scientists and security had been evacuated back to Eurus. He didn’t seem to mind that his lifespan would be considerably shortened.

Taggert crowded her, his normally impassive face now lined with tension. “We can’t contact Ryans. There could be a problem with his com unit, given all the other issues he’s had with equipment recently. Go check the archives to make sure he’s aware of the solar burst.”

Moira couldn’t look away from his sea-green gaze. Instead, she nodded. “Yes sir.”

“Burst has erupted!” McKillan pushed past Moira again. “Impact with the outpost in standard thirty standard minutes. We’re heading for lockdown. Eurus has been informed and is stepping up their precautions. This will be a hard one.”

Rahn, move it, now.” Taggert barked at her before turning back to the station monitors. “Check on Ryans and then get to your quarters.”

Thankful for the excuse to get out of Command, Moira left quickly and jogged down toward the station archives room and the man she hoped was inside. Men and women raced down the corridors, blasters and emergency packs equipped. No one could anticipate what would happen when a flare slammed into the outpost. They had to be ready for anything, while they prayed for the best. The closest help Eurus could offer would be at least ten hours away. If they were compromised, they were in trouble.

Despite the congestion en route, she reached Archives in record time. Moira bit her bottom lip and fixed her gaze on the floor as she approached her destination. There was no reason to be nervous or coy. She was here under orders, checking to make sure a member of the crew was indeed safe. Peeling her gloves off, she wiped them down her pants before she reached up to fix her hair. He always seemed to like touching her hair.

Connor Ryans was older than she by a considerable number of years. His quiet intelligence intimidated the hell out of her anytime they were in conversation, which was becoming more often the longer she was here. Slowly, she’d grown to admire his wit, and realized that he appreciated her sarcasm. Their friendship had blossomed over the few months she’d been here.

She remembered the day he’d arrived on Eurus. She’d been sixteen and had been trying to persuade Security Chief Taber to let her join the Eurus security team, despite her young age. He’d been in the process of explaining with barely contained annoyance that she was far too young to be putting herself in the line of danger. Connor had jumped down from a ship recently out of cryo travel from Earth, looking disheveled and grinning like he’d been given a million credits. In that moment, Moira was certain she’d fallen in love.

Not that she would ever tell Connor.

Despite the difference in ages, Connor would let Moira into the archives where he’d taken a posting and make her feel at home. He never intentionally made her feel stupid when she’d ask questions that were clearly basic for even someone new to science. Connor would often get a soft smile on his face whenever he realized she had stopped following his train of thought and back up to begin again. She fell a bit more in love every time he did.

Moira enjoyed watching him, despite those feelings of inadequacy. Connor was tall, broad, built more like a soldier than a researcher. His brown hair was longer than regulation, but not by much, and his hazel eyes never seemed to miss a thing. When he moved around the archives, he did so with a grace that seemed out of place with his large body. Moira was endlessly fascinated with how he could pick up the tiniest of objects with his large hands. Not that he was as large as some of the Briel, but plenty for her liking.

He was gentle and handsome. The kind of man who normally didn’t pay the least bit of attention to someone like her.

On their first few meetings, she thought he simply tolerated her as one of the annoying station brats. But the more she prodded him into conversation, the more she came to think he was simply shy. How such a giant of a man could ever be shy was a constant source of amusement to her.

As she’d grown older, Connor became the center of her personal fantasies. Moira would picture herself down in the archives where he’d be working. She’d be stripped down to her undergarments and shivering in the cool air. Her curiosity would be piqued by some object and she wouldn’t be aware of his presence at first. Her dream self would gasp as he pressed her against the wall, heat from his body firing her blood. She would arch back against him, and with a smooth flip, he’d spin her around only to smother her with a kiss.

She would feel his cock against her groin, the steady press of heated flesh against cool fabric. Moira would slide her fingers over her clit and into her wet cunt as she imagined trying to wrap her hand around his thick shaft. She’d scream out her release, his name heavy on her lips and her body shaking from his phantom touch.

Gods knew if the reality would live up to her fantasy, but someday she hoped to find out.

The alarm screamed at her to abandon her daydreams and get back to the crisis at hand. “Warning, solar burst impact in twenty minutes,” the too-calm, melodic voice of the computer system trickled over the coms.

Moira pressed the door chime before stepping into the archives. The rooms, normally cooler than the rest of the base, felt hotter today than out in the hall or even down in the service corridors. Shit, she’d forgotten to report the heat spike to Crenshaw. Connor had mentioned it had to be kept cool in order to prevent some of the artifacts they’d found from decaying.

“Professor Ryans?” When she was certain no one else was around, she cleared her throat and tried again. “Connor? Are you here?”

Silence. She moved further into the room, shivering as a weird vibration traveled through her body from the floor. The odor of sweat and something very male rode high on the air, barely masking a hint of something rotting. Moira hadn’t noticed anything like it before. Something was wrong.

“Connor? There’s a solar blast coming. I need to make sure you’re ready.”

She spun around at the sound of shuffling. It wasn’t until Connor stepped out from behind the computer stacks that everything seemed to snap back into place. Even the scent vanished and her body relaxed. Smiling, she moved closer. “There you are. You weren’t responding to coms and Taggert was worried. He nearly took my head off when I didn’t move fast enough to find you.”

Connor stared at her, but otherwise didn’t respond. Moira shivered as the ventilation system finally kicked in, sending a blast of cool air rolling through the room. Connor jerked and cocked his head to the side, frowning.

“Moira?” His voice sounded rough, like he’d been yelling or drinking some of that bootlegged hooch someone had brought over from the mines a few weeks earlier. “What are you doing here?”

Despite her longing for the man, Moira had hesitated pursuing anything with him. Not that there was a hard-and-fast rule about security officers having relationships with nonmilitary personnel, but she found that the more she got to know and like him, the more she realized a bed-hopping relationship wasn’t what she wanted. If she were to go down that road, it would be for nothing less than a relationship. Moira was patient if nothing else.

“We’ve got a solar burst heading for the station, “she repeated, not sure what was wrong with him, but not willing to risk his safety. “You weren’t responding to coms. Is there a problem that I can help you with?”

“I’m fine. I was studying an artifact and must not have heard the com call.” He reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose and gave his head a shake. Looking up at her, he smiled softly, though it didn’t quite meet his eyes. “Sorry to have worried you.”

Without thinking, Moira stepped close and pressed her hand to his cheek. “Are you feeling okay? You look like hell.”

He jerked, as if surprised by her touch, but didn’t pull away. Something in his face changed and he seemed to retreat from her, deep into himself.

“I’m fine, Lieutenant. I’ve just had a few too many late nights recently.”

Connor hadn’t used her rank when speaking to her alone in ages. She tried to keep the hurt out of her voice, hoping he would let her help with whatever it was bothering him. “I noticed it was hotter in here than usual. Same as down in the sub levels. I can let Crenshaw know about it if you’d like.”

Connor continued to stare, a slight tremble running through his body as his muscles tensed beneath her touch. “I will let him know myself.”

Moira stepped back from his sharp tone. “Of course. Sir.” What the hell was wrong with him?


Tina Donahue said...

LOL - the Thursdays of months - love it! You nailed it!

Awesome excerpt, hon - here's to you selling a zillion copies! :)

Liz said...

wow....GREAT excerpt. thanks for sharing it.