A little background:
They are leaving the space station where Cameron and Qusay met. Qusay is leading Cameron through the station trying to avoid bounty hunters. Cameron has a ship waiting to take Qusay away to someplace safe.
Memory Kick by C.M. Torrens
Gay SF Romance
Published by Dreamspinner Press
Qusay shoved the thought away and headed through the greenhouse—which was more of a three-story, five-acre park. Coming out on the top floor, he took a moment to enjoy the view. He was going to miss this park. It was one of the few good things he liked about this station. The air even smelt nicer here. Green and damp and full of life.
Tall trees reached for the ceiling and greenery tiered each level. Brightly colored flowers and lush, tropical plants added splashes of color to an otherwise bland backdrop of cold metal-gray walls. A digital sky overhead was in an eclectic style, with odd colors and ever-changing clouds as the hexagon sun traveled through the ceiling screen. The nights were even more spectacular. The stars had color at night. Jay told him it was just that the programming was off that made things look oddly shaped and colored, but he liked the alieness of the sky. It felt more real than an actual one would have.
Cameron touched his arm. “We should keep going.”
He fought the countless aches and pains that still battered his body and headed down the three stories of steps. His ribs burned by the time they made it to the mulch path at the bottom, and he took another moment just to recover a bit.
“Are you okay?” Cameron asked. Qusay gritted his teeth. Did he even care? Guilt was making him do this, nothing more. He’d take guilt, though. Guilt to get away from this mess and disappear again. God, he wished he could remember. The void where his memories should be nagged at him. There were too many questions he had no answers to.
“Give me a second, okay?”
“Your ribs are pretty bruised. Do you need to sit a minute?”
He rolled his eyes. “First you say hurry, then you say sit. What do you want me to do? I can’t do both.”
Cameron stared at him with that stupid patient look Qusay had become familiar with. Well, not stupid. There was nothing stupid looking about Cameron. God damn it, even confusion looked good on that man.
“Qusay!” A voice called.
He felt Cameron stiffen behind him but put on his best smile and turned to face Jay. “Hi, Jay, baby,” Qusay said, as the tall blond man appeared from farther down the greenhouse path.
“God, you are a popular man these days,” Jay said, flashing him a smile. “Station Security wants to talk to you about what happened at Otis’s and a couple of guys from off station asked about you, too. What’d you do? You didn’t—” Jay stopped short and eyed Cameron. “Well, hello again.”
Qusay twitched. Again ?
He really didn’t want to know how Jay and Cameron knew each other, and put himself between the pair. “I really have to go, hon. I have a client right now.”
“Mmm, yes, we’ve met.” Jay looked Cameron over and moved toward him. “If you get a hankering for blonds, look me up, cutie.”
Qusay fought the twinge of jealousy that flashed through him. He had no claim on Cameron. Whether Cameron took Jay to his bed was none of his business. But no matter how logical that all sounded, the sting in his chest didn’t ease.
He glanced at Cameron, trying to gage his reaction. There was no lust or any of the other things he was used to seeing in men who paid for time, but the man was so hard to read, sometimes, it was difficult to say.
Qusay rubbed at the ache in his chest and Jay leaned in close to him. “Remember what I said, sweetie.”
Qusay shot Jay a dark look, but couldn’t help but remember his friend’s advice. Shaking his head, he glared at Jay as he wandered away. Cameron was still here, wasn’t he? Still trying to help him. And damn it, the man didn’t seem to want him, much to his frustration.
“A… friend?” Cameron said.
Qusay looked him over a long moment. “Jay is well… Jay. You really don’t listen to me, do you? I told you before, nothing is free here. Not friendship, not information, not sex. Nothing.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Come on. Jay will give me up to the highest bidder within the hour. 18 Dock is just one level down now.”
“You need better friends.”
“He’s just trying to live, just like the rest of us.” Qusay looked him over before leading the way through the park. “Who’s to say you’re any better than him?”
“That’s not fair.”
Cameron looked so damn sincere it made his brain hurt. He bit back the frustration welling up inside him. He wanted so much to believe Cameron was someone different.
Qusay led the way out of the park and through the back corridors toward the docks. He didn’t know what to think anymore. If it wasn’t sex, it had to be money. Since he didn’t have any, the bounty only made sense. And what if Cameron was lying to him? What if he really was going to give him away to CompCore?
No. He didn’t believe that. He couldn’t believe that.
Cameron grabbed him. Strong arms spun him around and had him pinned against the wall. Cameron’s hot mouth crushed against his, bruising Qusay’s lip. Qusay felt himself crumble against those lips. His heart raced. The heat, the hunger, the passion—he gave everything back in turn, letting himself get lost in that kiss. The scent of leather and spice wrapped around him, and he let himself sink deeper.
Then it was gone.
Qusay stared at Cameron for a moment and that infuriating blank look stared back at him.
“Hunters,” Cameron whispered.
Qusay’s heart fell with a crash as he stared up at Cameron. It took all he had not to shove Cameron away. All that hope dashed in a single word. “Don’t you ever kiss me like that again. You haven’t paid for that pleasure.”
Cameron stepped back. He looked like he was about to say something but Qusay didn’t care. Shoving Cameron aside, he fought to stay calm. The man drove him insane. He didn’t know if he was coming or going half the time. One minute there was a gentle touch on his thigh, the next he was jumping away as if he were contaminated. Qusay couldn’t deal with the mixed signals.
The corridors between them and the docks were filled with security, and Qusay’s heart raced a little faster. Cameron urged him beside the massive window that looked down on the blue planet below. A sudden thought occurred to him. He was leaving, really leaving the station. Cameron was really taking him away.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the snippet. I really loved writing these two. Qusay was as much a pleasure to write as he was painful. But this book as a whole just grabbed me and took over. I’m a pantser type of writer but this one had me hanging on for dear life and I can honestly say, I had no idea how it was going to end until I got there.
A true pleasure writing it, I hope you enjoy reading it.