There Be Mature Content Here
Please be advised that the following is intended for mature readers only.
Luna the Baby Bunny
As I’m scrubbing engine lubricant and gold dust from my hands, a dark shadow slides into the doorway, blocking my only exit from the underground chamber.
My gaze snaps to a towering bulk of massive matte armor, and for a split second, I consider splitting.
As in, tucking my tail and running away.
But then the armored alien shifts, pointing at me as he pivots to address someone out in the tunnel. “As I said, we’d find her hiding in here.”
My good friend Rez huffs as she squeezes past her colossal Akupara mate. “Kin, she’s not hiding.”
Nope. I’m totally hiding.
And Rez knows it, too. Even though I’m in my work chamber, which is located within the bowels of Two-Four-Kay’s crumbling gold mine, she gives me a knowing wink before rolling her eyes at Kin.
“See.” Rez flings her hand toward my rickety workbench. “She’s working.”
Again, nope. Not working at all.
I’m monkeying around.
It’s a production-slash-productive methodology from Ancient Earth. The premise: give a bunch of monkeys writing devices and no set time limit, then BAM! The primates hand you a box-office success.
Or something like that.
It’s a really old Ancient Earth practice, but totally valid and applicable to my once-modern-now-throwback-prehistoric life.
Basically, if I tinker around with the parts from the busted mining drill long enough, I might be able to fix it.
That’s my plan.
I’m gonna use this totally bonafide scientific method to save the mine.
“Yep.” I nod my head seriously at Kin while I twirl a wrench in my hand.
But before I can really pop the ‘p’ in my bullshitting ‘yep’, my ‘might-as-well-have-five-thumbs’ hand boggles the wrench.
At least, I think it’s a wrench.
“Shit!” My hands are snatching at air.
Yep. There goes the slippery sucker.
As the clattering of tool hitting the rock floor ricochets around us, Rez’s mate directs his expressionless faceplate toward me and grunts.
It’s a criticizing grunt, too.
Okay. Fine. Kin’s right. Who am I kidding? I’m not some genius monkey. I’m just some idiot human messing around with machine parts, hoping that what works for the monkey will work for me, too.
After my epic fail with the kids and the candy, I freaking need this mine thing to work out. And honestly, the busted drill isn’t the important part. Neither is my complete lack of monkey-savant-geniusness, but let’s leave character flaws outta this…
The important part is me getting back to kicking the shit outta those persistent, ‘it’s-not-a-real-problem-Luna’ problems. Like, trying to figure out why the settlers who work the gold mine are slowly weakening.
Sure, no one has any distinguishable symptoms. And true, no one’s collapsed yet. But, no one’s bounced back to being their regular old self again, either. They just continue working the mine, getting weaker and weaker as they labor.
“It’s just poor diet, Luna. Once harvest comes…”
“Just get us a new War-nary, Luna. Lil’ critter’ll sniff out bad air pockets…”
“Once you get the drill workin’, the gold’ll slide right outta…”
But, the settlers’ diet won’t get better.
And the War-naries—Warren’s version of a canary—are sharp little guys. Years ago, they’d flown away from this area in a bright yellow flock of ‘fuck you, assholes!’.
Yeah, even Jo was kinda sad to see them go. She’d liked their spunk.
And the drill, well. The drill’s my job to fix, and that sure as heck isn’t gonna happen any time soon, especially with Kin humping Rez on my workbench.
I point in horror as I back away. “What are you guys doing?”
Point? Crap. I should be covering my eyes, because—
“I’ve got no fucking clue what he’s doing, Luna,” Rez says on a sigh as she shakes her head. “He thought a demonstration would be helpful.”
Rez—who’s flat on her back and thankfully clothed—shrugs and tosses her hands up. Kinda like she’s saying: Whaddya gonna do about an armored alien who wants to dry hump you in public?
You know what, Rez, there’s a freaking lot you can do!
“Demonstrations are exceedingly beneficial,” Kin stops thrusting and stares at Rez, “if done correctly.”
Rez rises up onto her elbows. “What the fuck does that mean?” She gestures to her legs which Kin’s holding in place around his hips. “It’s not like there’s anything for me to do here.”
Kin continues to stare at Rez, and I do not like it. Somehow, I’ve gotten caught up in a quickly intensifying moment. The way Kin’s staring—but totally not staring because of the faceplate—I can feel how he’s absolutely, obsessively focused on Rez.
When the alien final speaks, his voice is a low rumble, “It’s your hands.”
Rez frowns at him. “My hands?”
“They’re moving about.”
“And why shouldn’t they be?”
Kin adjusts his grip on my friend’s hips, freaking lifts her butt off the workbench, and then does another fake thrust.
But this one doesn’t look phony. In fact, it looks really intimate as Kin continues to hold Rez up, pressing them together at the hips, while Rez’s eyes round in shock.
Holy Heart-Pounding Hanky-Panky, this is…
I should not be watching…
Good god, they’re not done!
Kin’s slowly leaning over Rez, and the shock in her eyes is simmering into arousal.
With his faceplate a breath from brushing her nose, Kin rumbles, “For accuracy.”
My mouth drops open. If I had been holding some other tool that I couldn’t name, I would have dropped that as well.
So… Rez’s hands ‘shouldn’t’ be moving about, because ‘for accuracy’ they’d be—
And thank god, it’s her ‘Warning: Ass Kicking Idiots is Imminent’ groan. The exasperated sound busts the mood apart. Which is awesome. Because it had started turning from Hot as Hell into Creepy Peeping-ville.
“For the love of god, Kin!” Rez drops her head back. “Luna doesn’t need to see me tied up.”
Yeah. I really, really don’t need to see that.
Kin growls. “I need rope.”
Rez snaps her head back up and points a finger at him. “No. You don’t. Now get off me.”
Kin huffs as he straightens, his armored fingertips gently caressing Rez’s pant-covered legs. “Yes. In order to provide a thorough demonstration, I do.”
Finally, I find my voice. It’s my high-pitched squeaky voice, but it’ll do in a pinch. “Really, I don’t need a demonstration. Of that. At all. Ever.”
Kin turns to me. “Then how can you assist with fertilization, if you don’t have all the data?”
“Watching you hump me isn’t data, Kin.” Rez hops off the table and tugs her shirt down. “It’s porn.”
“I am familiar with human porn. Our approach is grounded in far more advanced science.”
“Listen, Luna—” Rez stops addressing me and turns to Kin. “Wait. You think human porn is scientific based?”
Kin’s faceplate is angled down toward Rez. “As mating tutorials, they focus too much on mechanics without narrative instruction on technique.”
“That’s…” Rez trails off, then shrugs. “Kinda accurate. So, Luna.”
Here we go. Countless conversations begin with that awkward So, Luna.
I brace. “Yeah, Rez?”
Rez looks at me, then drops her gaze.
I’m used to people doing this when they come around, hefting out their overly casual So, Luna at me. They feel guilty for asking for something, but it’s never stopped anyone from asking.
Not a single one.
Though, it’s kinda unsettling watching Rez hesitate. She never hesitates.
She flicks her gaze to me again. “So, Luna.”
Yep. So, me.
My typically badass friend inhales, then says in a rush on her exhale, “We need your help.”
Rez’s entire body, even her face, cringes.
Yep. Folks do that, too; physically recoiling, when asking for help.
And of course, Rez and Kin need help. They’ve been going at it like frisky rabbits for weeks now, but there’s still no baby bunny in the oven.
Okay, that’s a kinda gruesome metaphor, but it’s also kinda all my fault.
Because I’d told Rez that I’d healed her—returned her fertility—when I actually, um, kinda didn’t.
“Listen.” My voice is shaky as I bat my gaze between them. “I’m trying. I really am.”
Seriously, I am.
Rez’s expression changes from timid—which is just a hard no. Rez is never timid—to confused. “Wait, you’re already trying?”
“I am.” I nod my head, hoping I look earnest and eager. “I’m trying really hard. I just need more time to fix it.”
First, I’ve gotta figure out how to fix myself… so that I can heal her… and then heal everyone in Two-Four-Kay. Which will take some time to do, because I don’t think the evil scientists had ever meant for me to heal things. So, I’m gonna need the same ‘no set time limit’ that the monkeys got to figure this out.
Rez’s brow wrinkles even more. She darts a questioning look between me and Kin. “Fix? There’s nothing to fix about Pyx, Luna.”
My heart starts to pound as my stomach drops.
“What—” My voice cracks and dries up.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
I’ve been avoiding Pyx for days now. He’s just one more thing that I need ‘A Monkey Eternity’ to freaking fix. But I can’t tell Rez that.
Or Jo. (But honestly, Jo probably already knows.)
And I sure as hell can’t tell Pyx. Once he knows, he’ll completely destroy me.
“Luna? Baby Bunny?” Rez shifts her worried gaze, pinging from me to Kin. Kin to me.
Rez spends a scant second looking at me versus a long, lingering second on Kin. She’s even listing toward him, while his entire body is curling toward her…
Oh man. This is gonna get so unbearably bad, isn’t it?
I clear my throat, then push my words through the voice-clenching guilt. “What does Pyx need help with?”
I’m stalling. I already know the problem and the only two solutions.
Fix it or break it.
Well, it’s a no brainer. I’m gonna fix the crap outta what I’ve done to Pyx.
Pyxis The Restrained
With a satisfied nod, I plant my hands on my hips. “Outstanding.”
“They’ve stashed you by the shitters, Fanboy.” Jo, with her arms crossed and a frown on her face, cants her head toward tiny, rectangular stalls made of warped plastic.
I bat my attention between the ‘shitters’ and the structure provided to me by the human settlers. They called it a ‘shed’, but in truth, it’s a thatched hut.
But, whatever. It’s both my new home and new purpose all bundled into one. Emys, who’s my sibling cum Commander, and Jo, who’s my bestest friend and the newly minted mayor of Two-Four-Kay, had both tasked me with being the on-site Akupara in Two-Four-Kay. My job isn’t to parlay—that’s between Emys and Jo—but to be available should I be needed.
“Fucking seditious turds,” Jo mumbles as she stomps through the squishy ground outside of my new home. “I told them to pick someplace liveable.”
“This is totally liveable.” Truly, it provides everything I need.
Jo turns her frown toward me. “All I smell is shit.”
“Ah, but you can smell it.” Which means there’s breathable atmosphere all about.
My friend opens her mouth. Says nothing. Then snaps her lips closed and huffs.
It’s her ‘what-the-ever-living-fuck, Pyx’ huff.
At times like this, it falls to me to be the reassuring one in our relationship.
“Trust me.” I gesture grandly at my tiny hut. “It’s fabulous.”
“Because of all the breathable air and shit.”
“Tell me that was a sarcastically tagged on ‘and shit’.”
Jo stares at me.
I stare at her.
Well, I can’t tell her anything because I’d meant what I’d said. Despite the hut’s sagging, moldy straw—it’s still terrifically flammable.
Because of all the air and shit.
Jo’s left eye twitches, spasming twice.
“Right,” she stretches the word out. “You’re for real, ain’t cha?”
“I hope so.” Because that would be fantastic.
Again, Jo just stares at me, and I like that she gives me the same ‘you’re a fucking idiot’ exasperated look that she gives everyone else.
She points her finger at me, jabbing it with authority. “Knew you were gonna do this, Fanboy.”
Of course she did, because she’s absolutely amazing.
“I got a backup—” Jo cuts off, her attention turning to the path that leads to the settlement’s cluster of shabby modulars.
Luna the Baby Bunny’s walking down the path.
My spine snaps straight, and the back plates of my carapace sharply click into place.
Jo throws open her arms and scoffs. “What the hell, Baby Bunny?”
Luna—who’s fumbling to keep hold of several bulky bundles in her arms—stumbles to a stop. “What?”
“What?” Jo echoes back, then groans as she stomps over to Luna, muttering, “The damn plan is what, Luna.”
Jo takes Luna’s elbow, pivots her, and marches her back up the path.
My legs move, taking a lunging step forward.
I jerk myself to a stop. But the urge to go continues to surge through me.
Fascinating… but at the same time, not really.
Staggering back a step, my gaze lands on Jo. She’s never spurred such a strong, impulsive reaction from me. That’s why we’re the very bestest of friends.
Farther up the path, Jo’s speaking with Luna. My friend’s gesturing wildly, her flailing hands keeping time with her rapidly moving mouth. She’s whispering while softly thumping her foot; it’s something that Jo, Rez, and Luna do to communicate with one another. So, I’ve got no idea what Jo’s railing about.
But I can see the impact on Luna.
Her shoulders are slumped as she shifts on her feet. She keeps darting her gaze about, and her brow is furrowed. She looks like a hatchling being chided rather than a warrior being dressed-down.
But then something changes.
Luna’s contrite expression flips into sharp confrontation. She lifts her chin, meeting Jo’s eyes, as she launches to rapid-fire-words along with flailing arms—
And there goes all her bundles.
“Crap!” Luna hisses out.
Not that I heard her, but I know Luna. She’ll always utter ‘crap’ over ‘shit’. I kinda like that about her.
But what I kinda like even more is that I know this about her…
With a defeated sigh, Luna bends down to gather up her bundles. As she sinks down, something in me rises.
Fine. It’s my cock.
While she’s kneeling down, my cock’s standing up. And it’s—
Jo snaps her fingers—three sharp cracks that’re right in front of my faceplate.
Blocking my view.
A growl rumbles up from my fiery gut.
“Fanboy!” Jo snaps.
My growl cuts off as I drop my gaze to her.
She cants her head—as if trying to get a good look at me. “You with me?”
“You sure about that?”
“Ye—” Oh. My second reply, just like first, is coming out as a low growl.
I swallow thickly. “I’m sure.”
Jo runs her gaze over me—crown to heel—then arches one brow. “Are you? ‘Cause you’re staring at her ass.”
Jo punctuates her accusation by jerking her chin toward Luna.
Well, toward Luna’s luscious ass.
“I’m admiring her dress.” My cock throbs against my armor’s loincop. Liar.
“Uh-huh.” Jo nods slowly. “So you’re admiring the pull of her dress over her ass.”
My cock throbs again. Fuck yes, we are.
By Aku! My witless cock needs to shut the hell up. Jo already possesses this amazing ability to simply know things. We don’t have to go about admitting things aloud to her as well.
After all, Cock, we’ve got our pride to consider.
But then my pride pipes up. Nah. I’m good. Carry on.
“Fanboy,” Jo nudges me with her elbow as Luna comes toward us, “eyes up.”
Jo’s command—because it certainly wasn’t her pathetic attempt to move me with her bony, bent limb—shifts my attention to Luna’s face.
Luna immediately drops her gaze to her feet. “Heya, Pyx.”
My arms spring wide open.
Just to be clear, my arms sprung open all on their own. I did not tell them to do that. Luna and all the other humans have made it disappointingly clear that they don’t hug.
“Ummm…” Luna darts a startled look between me and Jo.
My heart kinda speeds up when she flicks her wide eyes to me.
Jo elbows me again. “Take her gifts, Pyx.”
Right. Gifts. Not bundles. This is good. I adore gifts.
Not as much as I adore hugs, but still. Now I’ve got something to talk about.
“Fabulous!” I reach for the bundles. “I adore you!”
Don’t panic. I can fix—
“Oof,” Luna huffs out sharply.
Her face is pressed to my armor’s plastron.
So, apparently—as I was massively flubbing my greeting while gently unburdening Luna of her bundles—I’d accidentally snatched her up and mistakenly smashed her to my chest.
In a kinda, sorta, hug-like embrace.
Know what? This is still fixable. Totally.
Yeah. I got nothing.
When my voice trails off, no one fills the silence.
Now I’m trapped in another hyperaware moment. My brain’s replaying that nice, long look I’d gotten of Luna as she’d hesitantly approached, clutching her bundles as if they were a shield.
Honestly? Now that I’ve gotten an eye-full—er, a chance to admire her dress, the garment’s doing a fantastic job of hugging Luna’s marvelous hips. Plus, it’s clinging ah-fucking-mazingly to her full breasts. It reminds me of the plumped-up casings of ripe fruit.
My mouth waters, but that’s not my only physical response.
Fuck, yeah, it—
Shut it, Cock!
Yes, you’re a massively engorged moron. Good for you. Enjoy your fucking-armored-confinement, you shithead.
Besides, I’ve got other issues.
Like, there’s this thrumming rushing through my body. My heart’s thumping wildly in my chest, and I’ve got Luna in my arms even though all humans have said ‘no hugging, ever’—
“Totally didn’t mean to do this!” I blurt out.
Of course we did. My cock gives my loincop a good thwap as my arms lock, firming their hold on Luna without increasing pressure.
All three of my appendages are fucking morons.
Truly, were they not listening when Kin had been rambling on about Rez?
A few night ago, my newly-mated sibling had insisted that, when he’d first encountered Rez, a change had happened. Something inside of him had shifted gears. So, when he’d pursued Rez in courtship, abandoning the Akupara precepts to move slow and steady, he hadn’t felt perverse or wrong. Rather, he’d felt revitalized.
How could I’ve taken him seriously?
Kinixys had been The Last—the most esteemed Akupara of all Akupara—for nearly a decade. Although his title has recently been awarded to Emys, our people still regard him as one of the slowest and steadiest of us all.
I know my sibling well. He’s truly deserving of his acclaim.
As he’d spoken of his mate, he’d gotten wistful—well, as wistful as Kin could wist. “Constantly following her wherever she goes? It an endless race.”
Glancing down at his hands, he’d frowned. As if his own words had astounded him.
“She’s always in the lead,” he’d rumbled, his voice low and coarse, “but I’m never losing.”
A heaviness had struck me. It should have knocked me on my ass. But, thank Aku, I had already been sitting on the grass, shoulder-to-shoulder with my sibling, leaning against our Bale’s grounded ship. The sounds of the sea crashing against the rocks had been muffling the soft clanks of our bare carapace scutes against the ship’s outerhull.
“Sounds exhausting,” I’d grated out, being as unlike myself as Kin had been unlike himself. To cover my slip, I’d beamed at him like an imbecile, “But, thrilling, too. Outstanding!”
I’d lied like an imbecile as well.
“True, she’s gotta sleep sometime.” Kin’d lifted his head and stared off for a second, as if he could see Rez, then chuffed in dry amusement. “It’s always a tie in bed.”
Standing up, he’d grumbled something about rope as he whapped me on the back—fucking hard, too—before striding away with a grin on his face.
My sibling, Sub-Commander Kinixys Strazar Dobar Umara, The Last of the Bale Emeritus, had been grinning like a mate-sick fool.
So, of course, I’d chosen to dismiss him. To dismiss all of it.
I fucking had to.
Because if my sibling, despite his public conduct that blatantly reveals how his mating has utterly unmade him—unleashing his impulses and open-throttling his speed—is still held in high regard by our our people…
Well, what did that mean for someone who has never received a crumb of respect for his earnest attempts at discipline, let alone a scrap of acknowledgement for his loyal dutifulness?
How would such a person rank amongst the Akupara?
“Pyx,” Luna mumbles as she struggles against my plastron.
And I want to tear my armor from my chest so that I can feel—
Yeah. This is bad.
Really, really bad.
Luna the Baby Bunny
Did you know that the Akupara’s armor ripples? Like, it flows over the body like a second skin. Bunch of teeny, tiny scales that are surprisingly soft to the touch…
I did not know that, and now I do.
Oh, boy. Do I really do.
Here I am, my face pressed against Pyx’s chest. While my brain’s shrieking ‘letgoletgo!’, my hands are humming, ‘Oh, yeah. Sure. What Brain said. Totally.’
My cheeks are getting in on the action too, rubbing themselves against this ah-mazing armor as my hands get the lay of the land.
By land, I mean they’re roaming over Pyxis’s torso.
He has a fabulous torso, by the way. It’s muscled perfection from the solid slabs of his abs to his tightly corded obliques…
And there’s this delicious scent coming from him. Like, musk and maple swirled into one. If it was a hard candy, I’d pop it in my mouth and suck—
“I do suck.” Pyx pulls back. “I don’t give good hugs. Sorry, Luna.”
What? No! Come back!
My hands are grasping at air as Pyx takes a quick step back. Wow, that step had been pretty darn close to his true speed. Which is way too fast for an Akupara to be moving when not inside the privacy of their ship—er, Bale.
He’s riled up, and it’s my fault. “Pyx, it’s all—”
“All fucked up,” he finishes for me as he drops to his knees.
Huh? I wasn’t gonna say that.
“Your gifts, Luna,” he groans mournfully. “I dropped them.”
Here I’d thought he was talking about his hugs being ‘all fucked up’. Which is so not true. His hug had been, well, kinda awesome.
“And right into all the shit, too.” He’s gazing up at me. His faceplate’s blank, as always, but his shoulders are slumped.
“They’re just tarps.” I reach out to pat his shoulder, but then pull back. “They’ll be fine.”
Yeah, I gotta remember. No touchy-touchy. Sure, I was just all up in his personal space—roleplaying the ravished heroine from Hugged by the Alien Warrior—but it was an accident. Plus, he’s wearing his armor. So, you know. No harm, no foul.
But me reaching out to him? It’d felt too natural of a response. Too familiar, like I get to touch him all the time. Little passing caresses and affectionate squeezes and—
No. Just, no.
Once upon a time I’d touched Pyx, skin-to-skin. It did not end well. Thus, me getting handsy with him will happily never happen again.
“You brought tarps?” Jo’s next to me, bumping me with her freaking razorblade shoulders to get my attention. “Not curtains and frilly house shit?”
“Curtains would be nice.” Pyx nods as he glances about. “I’ve already got plenty of shit.”
Jo huffs a dry chuckle. “Yeah, you do.”
This, right here, is why I’m needed. For the little things that always get overlooked.
I sigh. “The tarps are for the floor. Because of all the crap around.”
Yeah. You heard me. I said ‘crap’ while talking to two badasses who say badass words like ‘shit’. But just keep in mind, both of those badass-shit-talkers never thought to line the dirt floor in the old maintenance shed.
So, me thinking about ‘tarps and crap’ makes me the badass.
Plus, a badass who just found a way outta this whole awkward encounter.
“Here,” I hold my hands out for the soiled tarps, “let me just go rinse them off. It shouldn’t take…”
Forever? Yeah, forever sounds good.
Jo hip checks me with her machete hipbones. “Listen, I gotta go, Baby Bunny.”
She so does not gotta go. Besides, I said that I had to go first!
I narrow my eyes at her.
She narrows her eyes right back at me. “Someone’s mother wants to talk about increasing patrols because an unknown person’s been harassing the kids.”
And no, he isn’t protecting me by not naming me. He’s firing a warning shot, because he could’ve named me.
I glance at Jo. She’s giving me a flat ‘I ain’t impressed’ stare and says nothing. I get it. Why bother saying anything? Because I know that Jo knows that Howie knows it was me. And now I know that Howie knows that—
Ugh. Never mind. That’s too much work.
Bottomline: Everybody freaking knows.
I must have rolled my eyes or something, because Jo arches a brow at me. It’s her hawk-eye ‘I see you, Luna’ brow arch.
Yeah, yeah. I gotta stop it with the candy.
I’ll try cake next.
Jo, as if I’d said that out loud, groans and says, “Plus, I gotta meet up with that Brack-Ass guy again.”
Ah, Bracys, otherwise know as Brack-Ass the Jackass, an Akupara from Pyx’s Bale. He’s a member of The High Umara’s, Pyx’s mother’s, Council. The poor guy’s been making multiple trips to Two-Four-Kay ‘to parlay’, but actually, he comes to propose mate-hood? Mate-ship?
Here’s the human translation: He wants to ship with Jo.
Pyx cocks his head. “You mean Bracys?”
He pronounces it Brack-eez.
Jo huffs. “That’s what I said. Brack-Ass.”
Jo’s pronunciation is the better fit. Bracys is a pain in the ass. He thinks ‘hell, no’ means ‘see you next week’.
Pyx cocks his head again, tilting it toward his other shoulder. “What is it with you and asses?”
“What’s it with you and asses?” Jo fires back.
They stare at one another.
Pyx looks down and kicks at an imaginary rock. “Not all asses.”
“Zero other asses.” Jo jabs her finger at him. “You’re a one ass guy, you hear me, Fanboy?”
Actually, Pyx is not a one ass guy. He’s a fine ass guy.
How do I know? Because I’m staring at his ass right now. It’s magnificent, that’s how I know.
But what I don’t know—well, what I can’t explain—is that, with as close as Jo and Pyx are, why those two aren’t…more close.
Jo snaps her sharp glare to me. “Did you just growl at me, Baby Bunny?”
I scoff and wave her off.
But my high pitched cackle isn’t really selling my ‘it’s-totally-not-fake’ dismissiveness.
Stupid nervous cackle.
Jo pins me with another ‘I see you’ glare. “Right.”
No. Wrong. You’re so wrong Jo, you should see how wrong you are, because… I suck at comebacks.
“Fanboy. Baby Bunny.” Jo points her finger at Pyx then at me. “I expect this to be fixed real quick. You two got me—What?”
Jo’s arching a brow at Pyx as he’s leaning toward her.
He raises a finger. “I’ve got quest—”
“You don’t.” She slaps at his hand. “Put that down.”
Pyx gazes down at his wilting finger. “But, I do.”
“You got excuses. Don’t wanna hear ’em.” Jo again points between Pyx and me. “All this. Fix it. Real quick.”
She pivots and marches away. But she’s kinda hunched over, like she’s trying to sneak—
Pyx zips up next to me. “Do you know what she wants us to do?”
I turn to look at the nearly seven-foot-tall armored alien who’s bouncing on his toes. “I think so.”
“You do?” He snaps his attention to the path—where Jo is long gone—to me. I like that he keeps returning his gaze to me. “So, you know what she’s talking about?”
Yep. Sure do. She wants Pyx to move in with me.
Not gonna happen.
Rez had tried to convince me to do it the other day when she and Kin had desecrated my workbench. Jo’d just tried again, yanking me back up the path and outta earshot, so that she could whisper and thump all the reasons to shack up with Pyx in his shitshed.
The reason? That someone has to look after him.
For Pyx, coming to Two-Four-Kay would be his first time out on his own, away from his Bale. Jo and Rez want to house him in our modular—the one Rez, Jo, and I’d shared for nearly ten years.
Well, we used to share it. Rez is now shacking up with Kin, mostly at the Umara Bale, with short stays at her boltholes in Briarwood. Jo is pretty much in The Tower—the slightly taller modular that serves as the municipal center for the settlement—having taken possession of the former mayor’s personal apartments.
So, I get it. There’s plenty of room.
“Yeah,” I tell Pyx. “I know what she wants.”
But that doesn’t mean she’s gonna get it.
Pyx, with his fists on his hips, nods once. “Perfect.”
Then he turns and faces me.
It’s kinda intimidating and intense and…flattering?
I lean back. “What?”
“Tell me what to do.”
Me? Tell a massive armored alien what to do?
“Um,” I’m stalling, casting my gaze around and looking. “I was gonna help you set up your flooring, but—”
Jo had scurried away, all hunched over, because she had been sneaking away with my tarps. Which leaves me here, twisting about like an idiot.
“Luna?” Pyx is leaning over me, his bulky body’s kinda bowed as he’s trying to catch my eye.
Wow. He looks…
I clear my throat, “Pyx?”
He slides closer to me. “What would you have me do?”
Okay, that’s eerie. I can hear those exact words echoing in my mind, but it’s not Pyx saying them. It kinda sounds like Kin…
Wait. That’s right. Kin had been holding me—I was in and out of it after they’d rescued me from the Kletka—when he’d spoken those words to Rez.
What would you have me do?
Hell, Kin’s voice had been thick with banked desire. I’d felt his body quaking as he waited for Rez’s reply. The strength that Kin was holding in check had been…intense. In that moment, his restraint had been—
My attention refocuses on Pyxis the Restrained.
This warrior hovering over me had just spoken the exact same words, in the exact same way.
Pyx’s voice had been dripping with want.
Heat blossoms in my belly as my shebits—my tits and clit—start tingling.
What would I have you do, Pyxis the Restrained? I’d have you…
…strip yourself bare of very last piece armor…
…roll around with me in the luscious greens that cover the forest floor…
…rub grass-stains on my hands and knees with back-bowing, jaw-dropping thrusts…
Pyx’s voice rumbles through me. “I wanna do what you wanna do.”
“You do?” Are… are my breasts heaving? “I mean, which is do? What? Exactly?”
Please, please, please say: Go into Briarwood. Roll around naked. Rub grass-stains onto my butt—
Okay. My first iteration of that list was way better. I shoulda written it down.
Pyx shrugs, but his shoulders are tight. “Whatever you wanna do.”
That’s… That’s close enough to: go, roll, rub? Right?
Sure is. My shebits tingle in anticipation.
Only, my ‘Pyx’s To Do Me’ list can’t happen, because what we want—
Whoa. All three of my shebits interject. Not ‘we’.
Fine. What I really want is to fix what I’ve done to Pyx. And even though I’m not yet sure how to fix it, I’ve got a pretty solid feeling that having sex with him will only make it worse.
Like, way worse.
Which means, right now, I gotta get outta here. Make an excuse or something. Something believable.
Looking up into his blank faceplate, I sigh and hope I sound sincerely disappointed. “I can’t really do anything right now. See, I gotta go do this boring thing—”
“Fantastic!” Pyx straightens. “I’ll come, too.”
“But,” I stammer for, like, a half-second, “it’s boring.”
“Yep. Can’t wait to try it.”
Okay. New strategy. Pyx’s the kinda guy who constantly needs to do something. So, I need to do nothing. He’ll get bored and leave. And the best place where I do absolutely nothing is the gold mine.
I run my gaze over him. God, his chest is just so barreled when he’s perked up and super excited about stuff.
Biting back my guilt, I dangle my bait. “What do you know about Earth monkeys?”
“Monkeys!” Pyx gasps. He’s so damn thrilled, like someone just offered him candy or a hug. He spreads out his hands, and there’s an eagerness about him. “Absolutely nothing.”
I’m a horrible person. I really am. But, still…
His answer is absolutely perfect.
This chapter is complete! I’ve enabled commenting and have added my own thoughts as well.
As always, thank you so much for reading!
From Slow & Steady: The Velveteen Tortoise
Copyright © 2020, 2021 by Bex McLynn
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