“Ship's docking is complete. Welcome to Settler's Mine. A list of rules and regulations is available. Please read them carefully. Ignorance doesn't excuse you from being shot.”
Colton snorted at the recorded message as he docked into port. 'Course with Zelda, anything was possible. How many people had she shot? Probably a few. And those she didn't shoot, her big mate, Bren, could rip apart.
The computer voice message reminded him of where he was headed. And what he was there to do.
Do you really want to do this?
No. He didn't want to face what he'd done in the past.
Not now. Not ever.
But it was time. Past time. He'd been headed here a few weeks ago but had gotten delayed.
He finished the docking procedures. Secured his ship. Turned to face the man who had delayed him, who lay relaxing on a bunk behind him. Larkin had been snoring up until docking had commenced. He now looked delicious, reclining back against the mattress. Looked so at ease with the world. He didn't have an uptight bone in his body. Just a permanent hard-on. “Coming?”
“If only.” Larkin sat up, shifted to his feet, and stretched his long body out, muscle by muscle.
Colton's cock hardened at his lover's movements. He wanted to feel those roped muscles around him. Wanted to feel that mouth sucking him off until the little death took him. Maybe they had time for a quickie.
Larkin grinned. He'd shown before he knew how his body affected Colton, and exploited Colton's reactions to the fullest. “I know what's on your mind. Naughty.”
“You started it.”
Larkin approached him and pulled Colton against his body. Rubbed his cock against him. A hard erection tantalized Colton with the promise of what could happen. What would be tantalizing. “Did too. You always do.”
Colton shrugged, not arguing, rubbing back against the cock against him. Larkin was usually the instigator. But that didn't mean that Colton couldn't enjoy what Larkin brought to him. A sensor sounded from the controls, indicating they could disembark. Colton kept quiet, but the rubbing stopped anyway.
Larkin pulled back, suddenly serious. Studied Colton's face. Not his usual jovial attitude. His ever blue eyes gazed down into Colton's own. “Are you nervous?”
To anyone else, Colton would have denied the emotion. But this was Larkin, who seemed to know him better than he'd ever been known. “Yes. A little.”
“Where is she?” Larkin's face grew even more subdued. Grim. As if he should be singing a dirge. A look that Colton wasn't used to seeing on his lover. He wanted the smile back on Larkin's face.
Larkin asked like Colton should know specifically where the woman was, even though it had been years since he'd seen her. “She's on the Mine.” Colton exhaled deeply. Turned his head as if to look past the door that separated him from her. His skin prickled. He hadn't seen her in so fucking long. “Somewhere.” Truth was, if she had her way, dirges for him would be playing. Not that he blamed her.
“Should we find her first? Or get checked in?”
Colton's erection deflated. Larkin might not give this a rest until they'd settled the whole affair. He'd been like a Wolfton with a bone since he'd found out. Colton grabbed a bag. “Get checked in. The Mine requires that. Then we scope her out. See what's shaking. And...” Then what?
He wasn't sure what came next. It wasn't going to be a pretty reunion. No nice little words. Loving glances. More like metal things thrown his way. At his head. His hand tightened. He'd give her some leeway. But she'd have to come around to his way of thinking. Or else he'd play dirty. Nothing Larkin needed to know. Or maybe he did. Since Colton would be coming clean soon and all. Bore thinking about. But somehow it seemed wiser to tell Michipi first. After all, technically, she'd been his mate longer.
Larkin reached out to grasp his chin, bringing Colton's attention back to him. “Whatever happens, we will get through this together. Reclaim our mate together.”
A mate who Larkin had never met. If only it would be that easy. But that was unlikely. Maybe he should try to tell Larkin that? Larkin didn't seem to understand the situation he was being brought into. “I don't think it's...”
Larkin reached out and put a finger against Colton's lips. “I know it's not going to be easy. I'm not naive. But we will do it. We have to.”
Ah, the hope and wonder in the young. It did make them naive. The optimism brimming from Larkin might have been catching had Colton been a younger man. Colton smiled, a little bitterly. He'd never been that young. Or that hopeful. Life was what it was. A bitch. Hadn't that been why he'd left her? Or what he'd told himself to justify the mistake? “You're so fucking young.” He knew the reaction he'd get.
Larkin smacked him across the chest. Then continued as if Colton hadn't said that. “Sooooo...” Larkin rubbed a finger across Colton's lips. It tickled, making Colton shake his head, removing the touch. Yet his skin burned where Larkin had stroked with electric snaps of fire. “What's she like?”
“An angel.” The words tumbled from Colton's mouth before he thought about them. “A pure angel.” The description felt right. His chest tightened. He hadn't seen her in so long. She might have changed. But the memories he had of her were good ones. Some of his best up, until he'd met Larkin.
“What's that?” Larkin looked confused. His nose crinkled up in that adorable little-boy look that he attained sometimes. “An angel?”
Youth might have hope, but it didn't have everything. “They were from a planet called Earth. They were...beings of light.”
“Like a catavar
?” Catavars were beings that inhabited caves on a distant planet. They glowed with bioluminescence.
“Not exactly.” Colton rubbed his lips, still tingling from the other man's touch. Made it hard to think about explaining something that Larkin didn't know. “They were supposed to be ethereal. Cherubic. Innocents. Pink cheeks. Harps. Wings. They helped a God do his business.” Probably not the greatest explanation, but one that would make sense to the other man's frame of reference.
“Ah. She has wings?” Larkin arched a brow. “I never expected to be with a creature with wings. That could get interesting.”
Colton eyed him. No one had said they would be with her at all. She was as likely to fuck them up as to fuck them. “No. Nor does she own a harp. Or have a halo. But she was beautiful. Golden--well, not that color exactly. More purple. But what I remember of her is reminiscent of an angel. Her hair is purple.” Her skin had light lavender undertones too.
How much was memory and how much was supplied by his dreams? He didn't know. Hell, he'd thought about her every day since he'd left her. Larkin might have brought her draw on him to the forefront during the weeks they'd known each other, but the truth was, she had never been too far out of his mind.
Would she be able to say the same?
“She's going to be mad. Say things. Throw things.” Colton had no idea what she did now for a living. But if there were sharp knives and pots involved like there had been back then, he'd probably be wearing them. “You can't protect me. She deserves her...anger. For a while, at least.” She deserved so much more than him. So much more than anger. Somehow he'd find a way to give that to her. Hell, he was giving her Larkin in a way. And Larkin was much better than Colton had ever been for a relationship.
Larkin pursed his lips together. “I can't promise I won't defend you. If it gets bad. Too bad.” Larkin couldn't promise a lot of things. His hair trigger temper might make this situation dangerous. Even more so than the journey they'd taken to get there.
“Keep yourself in check.” An easy thing for Colton to say. Not as easy for Larkin to do. He tended to act first and think later. A fact that bore attention.
Larkin moved back in Colton's space. “I'd rather check you. Maybe...we get checked in and”--he pushed himself against Colton again. Ready. Hard. Wanting. As usual--“we could check each other out. Before...we find her.”
It was the first time Colton had seen Larkin willing to let this conversation go for fucking. Colton was more than ready.
His stomach bottomed out. He could lose himself in Larkin's body for a while. But knowing he was this close to her, would he be able to focus completely on Larkin? Could he find the solace he sought in a man's body when a woman had come to the front of his mind? He didn't know. Was he willing to try? His cock pulsed. His libido was willing to give this a try, even if his mind had doubts.
Larkin leaned in to nuzzle him. “Check each other with our cocks.” As if the previous comment weren't clear enough for Colton.
His cock wanted to grind back against his lover. To press against the man and lean him back in the shuttle. Take him then and there. Press inside him. Colton pushed him back, and his mouth swooped in for a kiss. A taste. He'd content himself with a taste. That was all.
Only it didn't work out that way. Because once their bodies roamed together in a delicate dance of spacing, electric heat fused inside of him.
His tongue battled with Larkin's. Growing faster and deeper with each assault. He tangled his hands in Larkin's long hair. Kept his head down so he could plunder the man's mouth. Tried to drown himself in Larkin's essence. The good essence that had been so lacking in Colton's life since before Larkin. Since before...her.
He couldn't get enough of the kiss. Of Larkin's taste. His breath rushed from his chest like a freight train as he panted.
Larkin's hands pressed on his torso. Pressed against the scar that remained. The scar that reminded him of his prior life.
Colton released Larkin from the kiss.
Larkin looked dazed. A little tremulous. That Colton could make the big, happy-go-lucky man react that way was a wonder. “Oh.”
Not the most intelligible comment.
He reached down to undo Larkin's leather pants.
Larkin's head went back with a groan. “Colton.” He panted. “Shouldn't we be checking in? Not that I'm complaining, mind you. But I've heard stories...”
“No one can get in.” Colton finished undoing the zipper and slipped his hand inside Larkin's pants. His breathing sped up, and his heartbeat tripled. Commando. Larkin had often gone out that way in the past, tempting Colton to no end. Should have known he'd do it today. Bastard. What a lucky bastard Colton was. To be tempted by him.
Colton's hand slipped up and down the smooth, hardened rod. Several times. Cupping him, but not entirely. Too big for that.
Larkin moved his legs apart, letting the hand come fully into his pants. Shifted his weight. His face looked like a study in pain. His eyes rolled back as Colton found a sensitive spot, the tip of his cock. Larkin said something in a language that Colton didn't understand. Then he continued. “Let me suck you.”
Like he had to ask.
Colton stepped away, removing his hand from Larkin's cock. “You may.” He reached down to undo his own pants, but Larkin's hands beat him to the top. They undid the snap and slipped down the zipper.
Larkin's face darkened with desire as Colton slipped the pants down to his ankles. He started to take off the boots but stopped as Larkin looked up at him.
Larkin licked his lips.
He didn't come anywhere near Colton. Didn't touch him. Didn't come within a foot of him. But Colton felt the zing of that lick all the way down to his cock. His cock jerked, which made Larkin grin. The man didn't even have to touch him and he was lost.