Can three hearts break harder than two?
While on a mission, the last thing the crew of the Sovereignty expects is to gain an addition crew-member, but when an unknown assailant attacks, Axel has no choice but to beam the stranger on board the spacecraft. Already in a sexual relationship with Snake, a rare species of alien, Axel certainly isn't looking for another person to complicate his already challenging existence.
The trouble is he cannot deny his growing attraction for the newcomer, who happens to be a striking and intelligent woman. Sela's so intelligent she's already worked out Snake is an alien and the two men are in a somewhat turbulent relationship. Still, Axel isn't the only one who likes Sela. Snake likes her too, and Sela doesn't appear to mind the idea Axel and Snake are lovers, especially after she sees them together ... But can they truly battle their differences and natural distrust, while fighting a corrupt government and dealing with a zealot of a leader?
One man, one woman, and one alien; two male and one female, all fighting corruption as well as their own desires. In a universe at war it’s natural to keep secrets but can too many confidences mean they’ll never find peace?
Snaithen glided down the corridor, slowing as he approached Axel's suite, stomach churning, heart skipping. Might do Axel good if he didn't always give in to him. Perhaps he should play hard to get. How difficult could it be?
Sure, tell that to the pounding in his ears, the tingling in his fingers, his bunched muscles. If he didn’t know better, he’d believe he was in the grip of heart failure.
That did it. If he passed Axel's room and reached the sanctity of his room, he would place a privacy seal on the door and avoid Axel this rest period. The man might spit fury in the morning, and Snaithen might pay a price another time, but this night, this once, Snaithen would show Axel he couldn't always have things his own way.
Soft light drew attention to the slight gap in the doorway, forcing Snaithen to creep, but he got no further than the open door, pressing against the wall, coming to a halt. He closed his eyes, though ... why? Hesitation didn't make him invisible and he couldn’t stand here forever. Sliding one foot forward, then another, he tensed, ready to rush by.
"Where do you think you’re going?"
Snaithen clamped down on the curse that bloomed in his mind. Their rule -- the rule -- he was always to check if Axel wanted him. Some nights, the other man sent him on his way, sometimes for days, but if Axel wanted him ... Snaithen always gave way.
No. Not tonight.
His feet refused to listen. Though he'd stepped back at the sound of Axel's voice, he couldn't move now, paralysed. Chest tight, jaw hurting, stomach knotting, mouth dry, and a pang in his heart ... what in the universe did he feel? Resentment, doubt, worry ... and desire. Damn if he couldn’t list each sentiment; too many of them. Axel always scrambled his emotions.
"Snaaakkke." Axel sang out the nickname, stepping into corridor and peering left and right.
"I wish you wouldn't call me that."
"Nonsense. You love it."
At Axel’s insistence, a shiver ran through Snaithen. Alas, Axel wasn't wrong; Snaithen loved the pet name in some perverse, twisted way. Possibly, if he wasn't mistaken, sometimes a little tenderness existed behind the title. Not much, but a little endearment ... but he gave, and he gave, and he received nothing close to love in return. He wouldn’t give tonight. "You shouldn’t call me that, though. You might let something slip in front of the others. You let slip in front of the new girl." The thought hardened Snaithen’s resolve.
When Axel said, "Come here," grinning as though Snaithen already stood in his room, he shook his head, weak in the legs, unable to speak, perversely warm and tingly as Axel's eyes widened. Dismay won as Axel stepped forward, making Snaithen dizzy. He was scared, yes, but also ... excited? How could he feel such opposing emotions? That was so unfair. And what did he think Axel would do to him? He might be rough, but some nights Snaithen loved that. Sometimes he loved it more than when Axel was gentle. Craved it, even.
He met Axel's stare.
Huge mistake. Those blue eyes coupled with the sandy blond hair always made Snaithen catch his breath. The man's colours reflected so much of Snaithen’s home planet with waves crashing against a sandy shore under a clear blue sky ... Being with Axel was as close as he'd come to feeling at home in years ... which didn't account for what the man's soft husky voice did to him. He stifled a whimper as Axel came up next to him, one arm braced against the wall, transferring heat and need.
Retreat? Impossible, though the corridor at his back lay open. The moment he moved, Axel would stop him, grab hold. And if he tried to run past ... No, he'd never make it. As though reading his mind, the man moved, crowding in, a hand either side of Snaithen's head against the wall. Trapping him.
"You found a backbone, Snaithen?" Axel stressed his proper name.
"I'm not as weak as you like to think." Tears prickled the backs of his eyes and nose, but Snaithen refused to let them fall. He was stronger than Axel believed. Had to be.
"I never called you weak. But you know what I can do to that backbone of yours. I might call you spineless, but that's not true, is it?" The insults emerged laced with promise, pinning Snaithen to the wall as surely as the line of body heat emanating from Axel. He shouldn’t have folded his arms across his chest in defiance because Axel's weight trapped them, Axel hugging him, hands slipping down around him to the natural curve of his spine.