Seasoned Unifleet officer Jayce Hightower takes care of his troops. That includes supporting green soldier Balt Donovan through his first exposure to combat. What Jayce had not expected was that the striking young man would soon come to dominate his dreams, stirring unfamiliar and disturbing desires.
When he learns Balt is similarly attracted to him, the situation starts to careen out of control putting both their careers in jeopardy. Jayce almost welcomes the hazardous assignment that sends him alone to a distant, dangerous world.
But when his mission is betrayed, it’s Balt who comes to his rescue. Will Jayce finally be able to accept the love Balt offers him?
he next afternoon found Jayce once again stretched on his bunk. This time he had music playing loud enough to keep him awake. He wasn’t going to risk another dream. Drifting with the eerie sounds of his ancestor’s cedar flute, he was neither fully awake nor really asleep. The rap on his door jolted him back into the present.
Jayce swung his bare feet off the bunk before padding across the floor to fling the door open. He was ready to growl at the unexpected caller. None of his friends were on base right now, so there was no one who should be looking for him. He didn’t feel the least bit sociable.
The sound died in his throat. Had his wishful hunger materialized the object of his desire? Could it really be Balt Donovan who stood there, armed with a hesitant smile? Balt wore the silver slashes of Captain JG now on the collar of his tunic. A new maturity strengthened his face. He had two campaign ribbons -- Kalibassi and another that looked like Gomorrow. Jayce registered all those details in a shocked instant.
“Can I come in? When I heard you were here, I knew I had to come see you. I need to thank you for helping me through my first taste of combat. It was easier the next time. You were right, I was still scared.”
Jayce could not speak. Instead he simply stepped back, leaving space for the other man to enter the room. Balt was no longer a green cadet, almost an apprentice soldier. He was an officer now, a man in every sense of the word, his beauty tempered with subtle traces of pain, regret, and pride. He held out a hand. Jayce took it, letting the clasp bridge the space he could not span with words. A trickle of warmth slid along the inside of his arm and down his body.
“You’ve done well,” he croaked after a long moment. “I can see it by your new insignia, and something in your face as well.”
“You’re still a captain. I’m surprised. I’d have thought you’d be a major by now. Weren’t you on Hades II?”
“Promotions get slower the higher you go,” Jayce admitted. “It’s the new young troops who fall, leaving gaps in the ranks. Those who survive earn their chevrons, then maybe appointment to the officer corps. You should know that by now.”
Balt nodded. He looked around the stark room, as if taking in the minimal furniture and Spartan atmosphere. “I heard you’re shipping out soon, maybe tomorrow. That’s why I came today, to be sure I didn’t miss you. Most of the troops with orders are over at the club, drowning their worries in nightberry wine or some other booze. I looked, but didn’t see you there. When I asked, someone said you might be in your room.”
“I don’t drink,” Jayce said. “I don’t handle alcohol well. It usually disagrees with me to the point I get sick before I get a good buzz. I wasn’t in the mood to socialize anyway.”
Balt drew in a long breath. A fleeting concern danced through his eyes. “Would you rather I left?”
Yes. No. Oh hell!