February might be the month for romance, but here it's also the month for miserably cold and snowy weather. Winter is a considerable obstacle for Villam and Luke, the couple from my debut novel Storms and Stars. When you're surrounded by inhospitable fields of snow, the only thing to do is huddle close for warmth!
In the hopes of bringing just a hint of warmth to your winter day, I come bearing a snippet from the book. Enjoy!
First, the blurb:
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 tyv 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.
Now for the snippet!
"I don't want to leave," Luke said. Villam felt that simple statement like a blow.
"Why is that?" he asked and got an irritated glance in his direction.
"Figure that out for yourself," he said.
Villam laughed. He crouched beside Luke and put a hand lightly on his back, but was held away.
"Do something useful with your time, or we won't live long enough for the Pacus to get us."
Villam leaned on Luke's hand to get closer.
"Kiss me, and I'll get right to work," he said, lowering his voice.
"No," Luke snapped.
"Just one kiss."
"No, because then I won't be able to st --" Luke abruptly closed his mouth as his cheeks turned dark pink.
Villam lost his breath for a moment. He caught Luke's jaw between his fingertips and pushed forward.
"Don't stop," he whispered, his mouth very close to Luke's. "We don't know how much time we have left. I don't want to waste a single moment."
"I want to have time left," Luke replied, his breath tickling Villam's chin. "I'm not ready to give up yet, Villam. Understand that." His eyes were emerald-dark and serious.
Profoundly moved, Villam spent a moment that he couldn't consider wasted gazing into them.
"Fair enough," he said. Then he exhaled through his nose, his mouth curving. "Were you just more eloquent than I was?" Luke came close to cracking a smile himself, and Villam let himself be pushed away.
He's here and safe with me. As long as that's true, I've nothing to fear.