Under the Milky Way – part 10

Overcome by her excitement, Storm grabbed his neck, kissing him enthusiastically on the mouth. Instead of pushing her away, he pulled her close, enjoying the kiss to the fullest. Shocked by her own behavior, she would have pulled away, but found she didn’t want to. There was something magnetic about Lukas Houston and his cobbled together alien ship.

A delicate clearing of a female throat made them part. The bridge was empty except for them and Gabrielle. It was she who had cleared her throat.

“Lukas, we’ve arrived as you desired.” She smiled shyly, lowering herself once more into the console.

Storm, followed closely by Luke, went to the portal. As he had specified, they were on the dark side of the moon. Limned by the sun’s light, a golden glow surrounded its cold, pocked surface.

“Now you see,” he kissed her neck. “Why you’re going to give this job to me?”

“Mm,” she replied, relishing the touch of his lips on her skin. With a shiver, she brought herself back to the present. “Don’t, Luke,” she cautioned.

“Don’t what?” He nibbled her neck, lips traveling to her earlobe.

“Don’t do this. Don’t seduce me for the job.”

“I already have the job,” he mumbled, his tongue tracing the curve of her neck. “You gave it to me the minute we hit the maze run, you just didn’t realize it.”

“Then why this?” She stepped away from him, gesturing angrily. “Why all the kissing and nibbling? The seduction is wasted if you’re already working for me.”

“Is it?” He stepped toward her, looming over her. “Hasn’t a guy ever made love to you simply because you were beautiful?”

“No.” She stepped away. “A man always wants something. It’s never just ‘because’.”

“Storm, you’ve got a lot to learn about me,” he said with a sigh. “Gabrielle.”

“Yes, Luke?”

“Take us home.”

“As you command.”

The ride home was amazing as the trip over. Five minutes, or five hours later, Storm stepped off his ship, the electronic contract ratified and thumb printed by them both. Luke stayed behind on the ship and Storm went back to her room alone.

Sophie met her in the hall, smiling happily. “Hey, cuz! How was the ride?”

“It was good,” she mumbled. “He’s got the job.”

“Then why so down? I thought you’d be happy. It’s your first major deal since you got your promotion.”

“I know,” Storm sighed. “It’s just—I screwed up, Sophie. I let him get to me.”

“It’s okay, kid. Come have a drink. We’ll drown our sorrows.”

“Mr. Wonderful wasn’t so wonderful?”

“He let slip that he’s married with two kids back on Earth. After that, the magic was gone.”

“We’re a hell of a pair, huh?”

They headed to Sophie’s bar. It wasn’t open for business yet, but the two young women got out a bottle of peach and jalapeño moonshine, sipping cautiously. The liquid heat warmed their throats, exploding in a fireball of flavor when it hit their stomachs.

“Good stuff,” Storm gasped, eyes watering.

“Smooth,” Sophie agreed, tears running down her cheeks.

The door behind them slid open. Luke stood silhouetted in the doorway.

“Can I come in?”

Sophie nodded, beckoning him in. “I need to hit the head.”

Storm put the glass against her forehead, wiping a tear that wasn’t just from the alcohol. Luke picked up the bottle, asking silently if he could have some. Storm nodded, looking away, blinking hard against the tears.

“I’m sorry you misinterpreted my actions,” he said softly. “I thought maybe you and I could share something special. I guess I was wrong.”

“I guess so,” she mumbled, turning away.

Luke touched her cheek with his thumb, sliding his copy of the contract in front of her.

“Here.” He put her hand on it. “Take it back. Give the job to someone else.”

“What? Are you out of your mind? This contract could make you a millionaire.”

“Yes, it could. But it’s not worth it if you won’t talk to me again.”

“You’d give all that money up for me?”

“If it will convince you that I didn’t try to seduce you just for the job.”

“You did try to seduce me!”

“But not,” he emphasized with a tap on the bar. “For the job.”

Laughing, Storm shoved him, nearly knocking him off the stool. Righting himself, he took a sip of the moonshine. Gasping, his eyes began to water. Storm thumped him on the back, laughing at his discomfort.

“Thanks,” he wheezed. “Nice. Sympathy.”

“It’s an acquired taste. You’ll live.” She shoved his contract back at him. “Keep that,” she laid her hand on his shoulder. “You’re the best man for the job.”

“And for you?”

“I don’t know yet. I’ll have to take you for a trial run to be sure.”

“I won’t disappoint you, Storm. I promise.”

When his lips touched hers, she knew beyond a doubt that he was telling her the truth—again.

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