Rule #42 – Don’t be a hero. Heroes do shit for free and get themselves killed. It’s a lose-lose proposition. From his leather Stetson to his long coat and choice of weapons, Shaw Sullivan is just a space cowboy who lives by his own code. A loner by choice, he accepted the contract to conduct a stellar census under duress…it was the only way to save his family’s ranch. Sullivan has four years to complete the mission, and he has zero intentions of letting anything get in his way least of all a desperate woman who wants to hire him to be a hero.
Once up the ladder, he closed the hatch to the hold behind him and sealed it. Tika waited for him by the cockpit access and he double-timed it, unlocking the seal and letting them both in as the engines came fully online.
“Buckle up,” he ordered her and took his food container. At his station, he tapped a button and opened a secure hatch. “Store the food for now. I doubt you want to try and eat during takeoff.”
She mirrored his action. One thing he did admire about Tika, she understood urgency. While their earlier conversation seemed to bother her, she didn’t bring it up. So he took a page from her and ignored it for the time being.
“Zed, controls to me.”
In most circumstances, he’d let Zed handle basic departure as he did most of the landings. The storm on the scanners bearing down on them was rife with red, which indicated heat and electricity. If it was a thunder snow system, they’d run the risk of lightning strikes on the hull. “Ionize the hull,” he instructed. “Keep your sensors on that system.”
Throughout the exchange, Tika remained white lipped and knuckled. She didn’t interrupt.
“It’s going to be fine,” he told her. “Don’t forget there’s a bag in the side pocket.”
“And don’t vomit on the console. I remember.”
On that note, he engaged the engines and completed lift off.
The launch proved far more violent than their descent. Lightning strikes spread out over the hull, riding the ions on the plating. By the time they achieved orbit, Tika slumped in her seat, her eyes closed tight while her lips moved.
It took him a minute to focus on the words she said, and when they did register it was hard not to be offended.
“Are you praying?”
“Don’t complain,” she chastised him. “We’re still alive, so it worked.”
National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.