Storms and Stars
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by Neena Jaydon
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: It's lonely at the top for Commander Villam Elding, who has always ranked loyalty to the empire and career ambition over romance. He finds it easier to love ideas than people; without military life, he's lost. Even so, it's his close relationship with Kardiell, a popular officer, that tears him from his life. Those with competing ambitions try to take Villam hostage to leverage Kardiell's soft spot for him. In the struggle, Villam crashes the small spacecraft he's riding. All hands perish except he and Luke, his kidnapper. Luke Sicinik travels the galaxy performing dirty missions for money to send home. Born on a desert colony abandoned by the empire, he has no love for imperial soldiers. He spent his childhood in a monastery which taught the evils of anything impractical or sentimental. Yet when he crawls from the destroyed spacecraft, his first instinct is compassionate: he drags Villam's unconscious body free of the wreckage. Stranded together on a wild planet, Villam and Luke know that survival means cooperation. A truce becomes trust, and trust turns to passion, as they struggle to find a new life together -- just the two of them against an entire world.
eBook Publisher: Torquere Press/Top Shelf, 2012 www.torquerepress.com
eBookwise Release Date: January 2012
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [320 KB]
Reading time: 200-280 min.
in stuttering moments of sleep, waking every time Luke so much as breathed too deeply. To his bemusement, the would-be kidnapper didn't seem to have any difficulty falling asleep.
But not deeply. Whenever Villam gave up on sleep in the creeping light of morning, Luke would immediately open his eyes and sit up. His unreadable eyes followed Villam's every move.
"I'm an officer of the Imperial Fleet," Villam said one morning, irritated. "I keep my word." One of Luke's well-shaped eyebrows trekked upward. It was soon pulled back down again, but Villam grimaced at what it had communicated. "Did you have something to say?" When he got no reply, Villam glared right into the other man's eyes. "Do you speak Empirish, or are you just particularly bloody-minded?"
After a pause longer than Villam thought himself currently capable of tolerating, Luke spoke.
"Both," he said. Laughing out loud, Villam startled a tiny songbird into flight. "South," Luke went on.
"I think we should go south." His fingers, an odd mix of deft grace and sturdy joints, pointed to the hill. "There are too many dangerous holes up there. Following the ridge," his third and fourth fingers traced the rocky part of the hill that jutted out near the top, "we can see the layout of the land. That green stuff past the lake looks wet. Following the ridge is better."
Villam examined the ridge, then turned to gaze down at the lake. He nodded.
"All right," he said. "Let's do it your way. Well thought."
What would have gotten him a salute or a straightened spine from a soldier got him nothing from Luke. Villam sighed to himself, prodding at his bristly chin. He despised the feeling of whiskers, and this was turning into a beard. He hadn't yet succumbed to the mad urge to try shaving with his sword. He glanced at the knife Luke was using to trim fern heads.
"Lend me your knife, would you?" he asked.
Luke didn't look up from his task. "No."
"I'm hardly going to attack you with it," Villam snapped. "I just want to shave."
"Fine." Villam sat down, his back to a tree, and crossed his arms over his chest. "You'll just have to shave me, then." He'd meant to irritate Luke into giving up the knife, but all he got in reaction was a shrug. For a moment he hesitated; then, not willing to back down, Villam lifted his chin. "Well?"
Without a change of expression, Luke set aside the ferns. He rinsed his hands and the blade from a canteen. Then he walked over to Villam and looked down at him, holding the knife in one hand, the canteen in the other. Villam's heart skipped a beat. He didn't allow himself to look away. Something in his stomach sank with Luke as he went to his knees.
Luke poured a small amount of water into his palm, then patted it onto Villam's face. He looked Villam in the eye as he raised the knife. Villam swallowed reflexively, his body tensing. As always, he felt as though Luke was taking his measure, but he didn't know against what standard. When that attention moved to Villam's cheek, it was only bringing his willpower to bear that stopped him from jumping at the first touch of the blade against his alert skin.
It was a sharp knife, gliding against his jaw. Luke's callused fingers were gentle as they pulled his skin tight. Villam gazed at the tendons in Luke's throat, the subtle swell of his jaw, and the potent shape of his Adam's apple. He licked his lips.
"Stay still," Luke murmured. He was intent on his work now, making his way to Villam's chin. A lock of his hair brushed the bridge of Villam's nose. It was so quiet now with the birds on the water settled down to rest. He could hear his own breathing, louder than Luke's, quicker than it should be. Luke's lips were resting thoughtfully closed. Their shape was gentle, just slightly lush, and shaded a paler relative of burgundy.
The only hint that Luke thought anything of what he was doing was a single sharp look as he put the edge of the knife to Villam's throat. Feeling his face harden, Villam met that challenging gaze, his fingers curling into the dirt. In that moment, he remembered in a visceral way that they were enemies, and that he was foolish to trust. Luke's palm slid down his neck, a warm contrast to the goosebump-raising chill of adrenaline. Then Luke bent his head to focus on his delicate work.
Villam's confused senses found the ticklish sensation almost unbearable. He closed his eyes and realized that he was holding his breath. He could feel Luke's body close to his own but only making contact through that one steadying hand, and his jaw clenched. As strange sparks bolted down his spine and his skin tightened, Villam had an urge to take hold of him with both hands and grip hard. His fingertips wanted to know what Luke's chin might feel like; his legs wanted to press into Luke's, to feel and to trap.
This is ridiculous. He's just --
Then Luke's touch was gone, taking the precisely uncomfortable knife with it. Villam opened his eyes, then gasped as chill water splashed against his bared face. Luke picked up his small canteen and stood up. Villam ran an exploratory hand over his face. His skin felt rubbed raw, but free of whiskers.
"Thank you," he said as steadily as he could. His heart hadn't quite understood that the process was complete.
"My knife is only for my use," Luke said. "I'll use it for you, but don't touch it."
"Fair enough," Villam replied faintly. Then he gave himself a mental shake. "Enough lounging about. Let's put your plan into action." He smiled at Luke's puzzled look. "Let's pack up and head south."