Excerpt Home is the Sailor

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She’d poured herself a Sorian brandy while Ra’ddy had been here, and it sat glowing blue green on the desk beside her as she read the trading manifest again, looking for the error that almost cost her a ridiculous amount of money. The hatch chirped insistently, but Ari only sipped the bright aquamarine brandy and said come in. She hadn’t locked it, nor did she look up from the pad.

“Jack, did you find that case of fabric yet? Constantin is driving me nuts on the Comm.”
“You should ask Jack.”

She raised her head sharply. “Caden.”

“Yes”, he said. She hated herself for it, but she drank him in for a bit just like the brandy. A smooth white shirt over his now trademark black soldier’s pants with pockets everywhere and shiny black boots. He left the light jacket off shipboard as if he didn’t feel the chill of space like the rest of the mere humans.

“Yes”, she said blankly.

He’d stopped just inside the hatch, and, suddenly, slapped a hand on the lockpad causing it to shut them both in with a hiss. Ari watched him warily as he took first one step and then another. “It’s a bit early in the run to be drinking, don’t you think?”
She looked at the clock. “It’s eight bells. I’m off watch. Have trouble sleeping.” She lifted the brandy to her mouth again and took a big gulp. “Did you need something?”

He made his way calmly around her desk, moved the pad from her hand to the shelf behind her and sat down on the sturdy white surface. “You don’t sleep well,” he said with a quiet hum in his voice. Ari felt a little dizzy now that he was so far into her space and looking at her like he might eat her. She wondered if she should run or stand her ground.

He reached for her hair and tugged at the pins holding it back. “Have you seen someone about this insomnia?”

His hand wound a little tighter pulling her, tugging at her. He moved her forward, propelled her up and out of the seat and into his arms. The breathy gasp of surprise she made floated on the air between them.

“Yes,” she whispered. Her hands clutched his shoulders and her voice sounded like someone else’s. Her body felt like someone else’s. She breathed in deeply when his other hand ran deftly up her spine, leaving a prickly trail through her clothes, to meet the other tangled in her hair.

“Brandy was the best they could come up with on short notice?”

She nodded as he hypnotically massaged his fingers over her neck and scalp. “Pills don’t work.”

“What does work?” He said it softly into the skin of her face and brushed his other hand over her ear to move her hair out of his way.

“Brandy”, she answered shaking a little, quivering low in her gut where her self-discipline was supposed to be. His tongue darted out to curl over her ear lobe. Then she felt his teeth, and need uncurled like a sleeping tiger inside her. Her hands crept on their own up to his neck, to clutch at his nape and wrap themselves in his wavy hair. Her face turned to his mouth seeking something, anything to stop the burning pain she’d lived with most of her life.

Holding her body, he turned on the desk and reached for the half empty glass of brandy. Lifting it to his lips, he drained it and put the glass back down. “I have a different treatment in mind.”

“What are you doing?” Ari asked.

“Getting over it”, he answered cryptically.

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