A few things have happened in the past weeks.
To start with, for those who haven't heard, Noble Romance Publishing have closed their doors and returned all rights their authors... which makes me a published author no longer! I have been doing my best not to panic, while my agent and I work together in deciding some next steps. So, while none of my books are available at the moment, I'm hoping to change that in the coming months. Whether this means a new home for them, self-publishing, or entirely new book releases, I can't say at this stage.
In other news, I recently completed a novella titled Damage Control, which is the second to my science fiction novella Escape Velocity. I'm hoping to find a home for both of them in the very near future, and have made a tentative start on the third, Cover Fire. I have also started another romantic suspense, untitled at the moment. But it is also a second story, coming after Rick and Maddy's adventures.
So, while I write some more and my agent sends out some submissions, visit my excerpts page, and also enjoy this snippet of Damage Control:
Leigh made his way through the ER. A few of the beds were screened off with curtains, while others stood open. Some of the recruits regarded him with wide-eyes and others averted their gazes. They might not have met him, but of course, they knew who he was by reputation alone. Damn UEF and their poster-boys. Every unit had one and some had several.
Not too long out of pre-military training, after he'd earned his wings under another Force legend, First Captain Johan Bryant, he'd gone and earned himself a reputation as a soldier who'd put himself on the line for others, gotten away with some dumb-ass risks he wouldn't have ever taken now… Okay, so truthfully he would still take an idiotic risk if it meant saving the lives of his teammates and other soldiers.
But he hadn't seen his actions as anything more than doing his job, giving his all. Over the years, he'd lost a lot of good men. And every single one of them had burned a place into his soul. Hell, if it was humanly possible to do more, he would to save every single pilot under his command.
Through those actions, he'd attracted the attention of people higher up in the Force. Getting promoted quickly through the ranks had only fueled the fire. When he'd been contacted a few years back and told he would be used as an example of the Force's finest, it hadn't been a request. It had been a courtesy call before they started plastering his face all over the known worlds.
So yeah, the recruits knew who he was before they got here. And he'd come across more than a few with a serious cases of hero worship over the years. The idolizing made him feel like a fraud. Would they think him such a hero if he told them exactly how many pilots had died on his watch?
One night he'd gotten smashed off his face with Bren and spilled his guts to her about his true feelings. She'd told him not to take it to heart, that this was war and people died. And if he hadn't been there, then the number of good soldiers dead would probably have been more. Despite being drunk off his ass, the words had burned into his brain. Yet he couldn't find a way to believe them.
Sucked deep into the dark thoughts, he almost walked right past TC-seven-niner. The curtains were pulled closed and he hesitated as he reached up to grab the seam. Glancing around, there were no doctors close enough to ask about the occupant, so he shrugged and ducked around the curtain, flicking it closed behind himself.
He'd taken two steps toward the trolley when dark-chocolate eyes met his and he froze. Mia. For a moment she just stared at him, and his heart did that weird thumping thing again. But then she moved, pushing herself more upright against the pillows.
"Hi." One corner of her lips lifted into a friendly, but shy smile. "I was hoping I'd get to see you before… well, training hasn't officially started yet and—"
"Is there something you wanted?" He crossed his arms, a trickle of agitation running through him. Why? She was just another recruit. Yeah, he'd pulled her out of that damaged shuttle, but so what? He didn't get what it was about her that had sent his senses into hyper-drive.
She nodded and tucked a loose strand of golden hair behind her ear. "I wanted to thank you, for saving my friend, Penny. She wouldn't have lasted much longer in there and obviously I couldn't do anything more for her."
His feet took him three slow steps closer, until he came to the very edge of the bed to look down on her. "And what about yourself?"
She ducked her head, and the strand of hair she'd brushed away fell forward again. "Yes, I wanted to say thanks for that too. I only wish I could have done more to help, there were so many injured people. And I'm sorry I passed out—"
He laughed, and just like that, the unease he'd been feeling drained away. She looked up at him, an expression of antagonism tightening her lovely features.
"You're sorry for passing out, like that's something you could have controlled? Well, that's a new one." He moved to sit on the edge of her bed. "Look, I'm not one for giving out a lot of praise, but you did good back there, at expense to your own well-being. That's more than anyone can ask of you, and not something they teach you when you attend pre-mil training. You earned my respect, and that's not something easily done."
Hell, he hadn't meant to say so much. Maybe thinking about all those dead soldiers had put him in a maudlin mood. Yet even as he said the words, he realized they were more than true. He did respect her.
He probably shouldn't have been so forward with her. Except what did it matter? By laws of statistics, she'd more than likely been assigned a ground posting. After today, he wouldn't see her again. What did it matter if he let his guard down for one second, let someone know they'd done good for a change, instead of being the unfeeling, hard-ass CAFF?
She pressed her lips together, not seeming the least mollified by his speech. He studied her stubborn expression. Though he hated admitting it, even to himself, the girl was damned gorgeous. And probably a good fifteen years younger than you, pervert.
He cleared his throat as he forced the thoughts away. "I'll give you some advice."
One of her eyebrows lifted and he couldn't help but grin. He could all but hear her thinking oh yeah?
"Some days in the Force, you'll love your job, think you've landed exactly where you were meant to be. Other days, a lot of days, you're going to hate it. Those are the worst days, where people are lost and bad shit happens. But, if you hold on to whatever it was that made you put the life of your friend before your own, you'll go a long way. And sometimes you'll be able to look back and be satisfied that you did what you could."
Her head tilted, and her lips parted slightly on a soft breath. "Is that how you feel?"
He stared at her for a long moment, and something unfurled within him. Like he'd forged a connection with her he'd never had with anyone else. Sure, he'd been responsible for saving a lot of people, and most of them had thanked him. But he'd never met anyone he'd felt instantly comfortable with, got the strange sense he could tell her anything and she'd take it with calm acceptance and understanding. He didn't do feelings, they were too messy and complicated. Yet with her sitting there, looking like she actually cared, things seemed a whole lot simpler.
Just for a split second, he wished she wasn't going to disappear out of his life after this moment had finished. That he could get to know her better. And maybe that they didn't have an age gap between them that left him feeling like he'd be taking advantage of her.
He nodded. "That's how I feel. Of course, some days I feel like the damned reaper, sending good men to their deaths. Never can tell when a simple mission is going to turn to shit."
"The responsibility of that must really weigh on you."
He laughed, though the sound was grim. "You have no idea."
The alarm reminder in his watch went off, vibrating against his wrist. He tapped it off and then looked back up at Mia. If she took a ground posting, would she become a casualty one day soon? The thought made his insides clench. Or maybe he'd be the one heading into the black sooner rather than later.
The depressing thought was the only reason he let his guard down long enough to reach over and tuck that golden, silky strand of hair behind her ear. Her breath hitched, gaze darkening as they came in closer proximity.
He cupped her face, knowing he'd crossed a big fat line and not giving a damn about it right then. Since they'd never see each other again, he just wanted to steal one slice of the forbidden for himself, touch her even though he shouldn't. Find one second of peace from the dark rigors of his life.
"Leigh, only don't ever tell anyone I said so."
A small smile tugged at her lips. "Leigh, there's something you need to know—"
His watch vibrated again and he swore at the damned precise contraption. He didn't have any time left to linger here.
"Tell me next time we see each other." Which would likely be never.
She took a breath, no doubt to tell him whatever she had on her mind, but he leaned forward and kissed her cheek, letting his lips linger against the smooth give of her skin.
"Goodbye, Mia. Look after yourself."
He stood and left the room without looking back at her. If he did, if he saw anything in her dark gaze, he'd end up doing something totally idiotic, like following up on her posting and then not-so-accidentally arranging to see her. The last thing he needed in his life was a complication like Mia Wolfe.