The prompt was: You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s Day—the one whom you often call “The One That Got Away.” What happens?
Orion knew immediately that her Farseeker character, Gayan Villson, had to be involved in this story, since he’s one of her favorite creations and he already had several past lovers. What’s one more? But who did he meet up with? Where did they know each other from?
And in marched Kieran Thorgood, complete with a new ship, Sun’s Glow, and several new characters (SEE next week’s story, The Cookie Conspiracy)! Given Gayan’s military background, it was a safe bet they’d been in the war together and had history. And the plot was off and running.
When we edited this, we knew we had to amp up the sexual tension between the two men, and move a lot of the expository information into our main character’s thoughts. We also added a couple of hundred words to the story, making it much stronger.
Photo by Jriphoto
“Excuse me,” Gayan mumbled, as he shouldered through the cluster of people just inside the doorway of the crowded saloon.
“Is that all I get?” A deep baritone called from behind him. “After all these years?”
Twisting around, he faced the tall man, who stood with his hands on his hips and a faint smile playing on his full lips.
Gods, he still looks so damn hot, Gayan thought, mentally fanning himself. Kieran Thorgood, once Lieutenant Thorgood and Gayan’s second in command, strategist extraordinaire, and his former lover.
I can’t believe he’s standing right there.
In the flesh.
On Eros Day, no less.
The most romantic holiday of the year.
He closed his eyes and sent up a brief prayer.
I’m not sure what I did or which Diety I pissed off, but I’m eternally sorry. I’ll do anything you want, just save me. Please!
Gayan felt his face warm, all the way down to the collar of his blue linen shirt. His body tightened in that old familiar way Kieran caused just by walking into the room. For them, Kieran bending over Gayan’s shoulder to add notes to the day’s report was the same as foreplay. Some nights the energy they raised in love-making was more than enough to carry them through the next day’s work. Merely locking eyes with Kieran on a busy command deck would send jolts through Gayan’s body like an electrical arc seeking a ground.
What if he’s married now? Has a family and kids somewhere? We couldn’t pick up where we left off, could we? He might not even be interested in me after all these years.
And of course he shows up on Eros Day. That pesky Pagan godling has a lot to answer for! I don’t exactly have a long string of ex-lovers lying around to stumble upon, but He chose to send me this one.
Thawing from his frozen position, Gayan clasped Kieran’s outstretched hand. Though what he really wanted to do was take the man into his arms and have his way with him. But it wasn’t appropriate with someone you hadn’t seen for years. Someone who’d been separated from you abruptly and then dropped by the Space Alliance onto a different planet during demob after the war.
“Kier! Wow! It’s been forever!”
“That it has.” The man laughed, perhaps a little too loudly. “Probably forgot all about me too, judging by the way you rammed into me and kept going.”
“Sorry, mind on my stores. The engineer gave me a long list of stuff to find or he’d have my hide.”
“No reason you can’t take a few minutes to catch up with an old…acquaintance, is there?” he said, giving Gayan his patented lazy smile
“Acquaintance, huh?” Gayan said, raising an eyebrow and smirking at Kier’s choice of words.
Gayan racked his brain for a reason not to join the man. But standing in Kier’s prescence, he couldn’t think at all, the engineer’s list be damned.
Stepping outside, they headed a few doors down to a cafe with outside tables where they could take advantage of the mild spring day here at Bob’s Landing.
This is the perfect place for lovers to share a cuppa and nosh, Gayan thought as they placed their orders. But is that what Kier’s looking for? Is it too much? Will it make him uncomfortable if all he’s looking for is to rekindle a friendship? Why did this have to happen on Eros day when everyone around is being amorous?
“So,” Kier opened the conversation as they sat down with their orders. “You got yourself another ship. Are you the captain?”
Gayan shook his head. “Just a crew member. Small crew, medium-sized hauler. Kinda odd looking, but Tempest’s Kin’s a good ship.” He sighed. “She suits me.”
“Tempest’s Kin?” Kier scratched his beard. “Heard that name before somewhere…That engineer? Named Veryen Nova? I heard….”
Startled that anyone had heard of their odd ship, let alone knew its engineer, Gayan asked, “What did you hear? I’ve only been with them for a short while. They seem like good folks, though. Helped me out when I was in a jam.” Kier doesn’t need to know about the ghost ship I was found on or my amnesia. The whole incident is just too painful to talk about. I’d rather talk about us.
“…remember.” Gayan realized Kier was still talking and pulled his attention back to the conversation. “We had a cook looking for a berth who was bad-mouthing the ship and Nova. Name of….”
“Sam Wise, I bet,” Gayan interrupted, making a face. “I heard the ship left him dirt side. For drunkenness. Bright said his food was barely edible. And that was on the rare occasions when he managed to actually get food to the table.”
Kier snapped his fingers and pointed at Gayan. “Yeah, that’s the guy. Well, glad we didn’t hire him on, then. Had a lot of tales to tell about the high-handed engineer and inexperienced captain.”
Gayan shook his head ruefully. “That captain died. Space pirates. Nova’s taken over and he’s not so bad.” He gave Kier a wry smile. “Just dedicated to his engines and projects, s’all.”
He paused, taking a steadying breath before asking, “And you? What’re you up to?” From under his brows, Gayan watched as Kier pursed his lips, frowned, then answered.
“Um, oh, you know. I’m on Sun’s Glow. It’s a family ship. I’m teaching a pack of kids who don’t know a verb from their elbows.” He chuckled fondly. “They’re okay, though. Four of ‘em, from seven to fifteen. All from the Reynolds family. We pick up work wherever we can. Mostly hauling stuff to settlers here on Carmen. I swear, our pilot can land on anything that’s not moving. We…get around. You know, into a lot of backwater ports and mining asteroids.”
Backwater ports? Reynolds? Why does that sounds familiar? Ah, That’s it. Blacky Ringmaster, from Roustabout, mentioned him. He said they’re great at smuggling supplies into tight places. And they’re a Rebel ship, just like us.
“So…” Gayan drawled. “You’re still a rebel, then.”
Kieran tensed, shoulders stiffening, long elegant fingers tightening about his mug. “How did…” Then he blinked, as the words registered. “Wait. Your ship, too?”
“I’m not sure there is such a thing as an ex-rebel.” Gayan snickered, rubbing the back of his neck. “We run into them everywhere we go. Well, except on the three Inner Planets, but we try not to go there if we can help it. Too much chance of drawing unwanted attention.”
Gayan watched Kier’s shoulders relax.
Kier reached for another biscuit from the plate between them. “Yeah. We’re trying to stay away from the SA’s attention, too.” He was silent awhile, staring in apparent fascination at the black liquid in his mug. Finally, he raised his sea green eyes to Gayan’s.
“So, are you alone?” Kier raised his hands abruptly, trying to wave away his words and flinging crumbs everywhere in the process. “I mean, do you…have a companion?”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard Kier sound so tentative. Hope welled up in Gayan’s heart. Perhaps there’s a chance for us after all.
“No, there’s no one, no…companion.”
Stars, I sound so lonely. He looked over current his life. Veryen’s pining over Bright. Cassie seemed capable of finding a companion whenever she wants. Xander’s too young for all that, at least for the moment. Quant…is a monk, isn’t he? He shook his head. Hunh, maybe I am that lonely.
Smoldering green eyes deepened to emerald, holding Gayan’s light blue-turned-grey eyes. “Know what today is, Gayan?”
He swallowed before answering. “Eros Day, isn’t it?”
“Don’t you think we should celebrate? You know, the way we used to?” A smile twitched at the corner of Kier’s lips.
Such luscious, red lips. Gayan remembered them tasting of berries with a hint of whiskey. He licked his lips before replying.
“Might not be a bad idea. There’s some neutral territory around here. We could probably find one with a bed, perhaps.” Kier’s emerald eyes crinkled and the smile Gayan remembered broke through.
“I think I know a place…to celebrate. As fully as possible. Shall we…?” Kier rose and extended his hand.
Gayan nearly knocked over his chair getting to his feet. “Uh, I think that would be an excellent idea. Just let me take these dishes….”
An amused voice at Gayan’s elbow, said, “I’ll take care of them. You boys run along and have some fun.”
The pair thanked the smirking young bus boy and hurried off.
“Why the hell did it take you all day to get the stores that I ordered?” Veryen Nova demanded much later that evening when Gayan returned to the ship.
Grinning from ear to ear, Gayan simply whistled a tune and headed for his bunk.
“Looks like somebody had a good Eros Day,” Cassie said, glancing sideways at Bright.
Gayan paused at the hatchway. “Indeed I did. I wouldn’t want to offend the gods by not worshiping on the holiday.” He quirked up the corner of his mouth. “And I did a lot of worshiping.”