I’m thrilled to announce today that my new sci-fi novella “An Endless Sea of Stars” is now available! Check out the cover, blurb and excerpt down below!
LuLu (Paperback and epub): http://tinyurl.com/qe5oeal
Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/ow92qj2
Also available at the iBookstore
The year is 2121. While Earth has conquered exploration of the Milky Way, we have yet to develop an interstellar engine to take us beyond our own galaxy. Thus the Intergalactic Exploration Alliance and the Gemini Project were formed.
Lieutenant Tobias Dekker is fresh out of the IEA academy and determined to be assigned to the Gemini engineering team. Putting career above all else. He knows from experience that relationships have no place in the Alliance. Commander Caden Flynn is equally determined to see the Gemini prototype take flight to uncharted space. The engine is his late father’s design and he wants nothing more than to be the test pilot that breaks the next light speed barrier.
Two men dreaming of a sea of stars find that it’s instead an ocean here on Earth that brings them together. Can Cade convince Toby to open up his heart and take a chance on love and explore the universe with him, side by side?
Toby rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. “Anyone ever tell you you’re a smartass?”
At that Cade finally let loose with his suppressed laughter. “I had you going there, though, didn’t I?” he smirked.
Toby waved his hand in dismissal. “Yeah, yeah. I’ll have you know that’s never happened to me before. I would’ve gotten us outta there. I just needed another minute…or two,” he finished with an embarrassed grin.
“You know, I really should report this to Hank,” Cade quipped as he finished removing his wetsuit. “But!” he held up his hand before Toby could say anything. “We can forget about the entire thing if…” he trailed off for a second and rummaged in his duffle bag, pulling out a bottle of Kentucky bourbon and showing it to Toby. “…you have a drink with me.” He shrugged one of his shoulders. “Since I couldn’t get you to a bar with me I thought I’d bring the bar to you.”
Toby paused. Alone, in the dark, sharing a few drinks. This wasn’t a good idea. He should politely decline and say they needed to start heading back. But his mouth was apparently not listening to his brain, because before he could stop himself…
A very pleased smile crossed Cade’s face and he reached over and squeezed Toby’s bare shoulder before turning back to the duffel bag and producing two plastic cups. A few minutes later they had donned their t-shirts and shorts and were relaxing on the bow, sitting close enough that their shoulders were almost touching. The clouds had dissipated, revealing millions of stars twinkling in the clear sky and a full moon reflecting on the water.
Cade took a swallow of bourbon and turned his head toward Toby. “I can’t get over what an amazing feeling it was, being down in those caves tonight.”
Toby took a drink as well. “Been through those caves ‘bout a hundred times. But like I said earlier, there’s something different every time. It never gets boring.”
Cade looked up toward the sky. “It’s like being out in the stars. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.”
Toby couldn’t help his wistful, and envious, sigh. “Closest I’m probably ever gonna get to the stars is in one of the flight simulators.”
“From what I hear you’ve made some fabulous improvements to those simulators,” Cade said. “I wish I’d had you building and programming them when I was in flight school.”
Toby turned to look at him. “How did you know I was on the simulator team?”
Cade shrugged, took another drink. “After we met I took the liberty of looking into your Academy history.” He grinned. “I was curious as to who was going to be teaching me.” Cade shifted so that he was turned more fully toward Toby. “And I was damn impressed at what I read. You need to stop selling yourself short when it comes to your dream of working on the Gemini project. You’re in the top two percent of your class, Toby. Alliance Command is not going to overlook that when they hand out assignments next month.”
Toby shook his head. “Don’t you think they’d want someone older, more experienced, working on something as monumentally important as Earth’s first hyperdrive engine?”
“Just because you haven’t been in space doesn’t mean you’re not qualified to work on a starship engine. It’s about technical expertise, not flight time.”
Toby now turned to face Cade, a tinge of excitement in his voice. “Tell me about that. What’s it like up there? I’ve gotta admit that as much as I want to experience it for myself, it makes me kinda nervous, too.”
“It’s a lot like scuba diving, actually,” Cade began, then tipped his head up toward the sky, his voice gone quiet. “Surrounded by an endless sea of stars instead of water. It’s beautiful. And so serene. But there’s so much more out there to explore than in just our galaxy.”
Toby couldn’t help but smile at the passion and wonder in Cade’s voice. “You said we’re close to breaking barrier three?”
Cade nodded and finished off his drink, poured himself another and topped off Toby’s. “The engine tests we’ve been running are really promising. Captain Hoffman’s team is burning the midnight oil.”
“From what you told me last month it sounds like you are, too.”
Cade blew out a breath. “You know how badly you want in the Gemini program? That’s how badly I want to pilot that next barrier flight. It’s going to come down to myself, Logan Ramsey, Kenji Tran or Padma Singh. And they’re all damn good test pilots.”
“Well let me give you some sage advice that a friend of mine gave me,” Toby said with a grin. “Don’t sell yourself short.”
Cade gave him a look. “Now who’s the smartass?”
Toby just laughed and knocked his cup against Cade’s. He settled back to look up at the stars, and Cade did the same. They let the quiet of the open ocean surround them for several minutes, nothing but the sound of gentle waves against the hull.
“Does this place have a name?” Cade asked quietly.
“Not that I know of,” Toby answered.
“Then I think we should call it Dekker’s Cove.” He once again turned his head to look at Toby. “Thanks again for taking me out here. This is your spot and you didn’t have to share it with me.”
Toby turned his head to look back at Cade, his voice sincere. “I wanted to. I knew you’d appreciate how special it was.”
Cade pinned him with a gaze full of hope and desire. “There are a lot of things I’m finding are special down here.”
Toby’s breath caught in his throat. It would be so damn easy to give in to Cade’s flirtations. To say the hell with it and just reach over and touch him. Because Toby knew that’s all it would take. One touch. But then what? A summer fling, like they were teenagers away at camp? Toby just wasn’t wired like that, for one-time hook ups. Especially with someone like Cade. He knew he’d want more and he knew it’d never work. He just needed to keep reminding himself that it was Cade’s friendship that was most important, what he really wanted, was the only thing that would work between them. But it was getting harder and harder to do with each passing day he spent with Cade. His heart was warring with his head. And he honestly didn’t know which was going to win.
The moment stretched on between them, Toby knowing Cade was waiting for something from Toby, but he didn’t trust himself to speak.
Cade glanced away, then back. “Toby, I…”
And Toby’s stomach somersaulted, certain of what Cade was going to say next. He wasn’t ready for this…
“…I have to leave tomorrow.”
Toby blinked and released a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding. “Wh-what?” he stuttered, completely caught off guard by Cade’s words, so far from what he had been expecting.
Cade sighed. “I’m needed back at Alliance HQ. I found out this morning but was putting off telling you.”
“That – that’s okay. I understand,” Toby replied, trying to hide his disappointment.
“I even brought a holo vid of a rugby match I was hoping to show you tomorrow,” Cade grinned and Toby chuckled. “Next month, okay?”
Toby nodded. “Next month.”
Next month. One last chance for Toby to sort out his feelings for Cade. And be able to live with that decision with no regrets. He had a sneaking suspicion that was going to be easier said than done.
TO BE CONTINUED IN THE STORY!