He was so screwed.
Saarday Vann stood in the departures lounge of Star Base Sixteen and watched the exhaust lights of his transport home dwindle to nothing in the distance. Fuck, he was going to catch so much flack from his brother for this. The last of his energy draining as though someone had pulled the plug, he leaned his forehead against the toughened transparent thermoplastic in front of him and sighed heavily.
Pushing off, he caught sight of his reflection in the glass and grimaced. “Ugh...”
He’d been so intent on making his shuttle that he hadn’t even showered, so after a week in the field—a week in some of the dirtiest, lowdown combat he’d ever encountered in all his years as a soldier—he was bruised, battered and stank to high heaven.
A shower was definitely in order. Like yesterday.
Turning, he swung his pack around and slung it over his shoulder to amble through the crowds milling around the departure lounge. SB16 was one of the major hubs in this sector of space, which meant the throng of people around him was made up of fleet personnel, base staff and the general public, all intent on getting where they were going. Which also meant most of them were getting underfoot, only a few glancing up at his tall, broad-shouldered form and grim expression before scuttling out of the way.
“Idjits,” he grumbled under his breath.
Half the people moving along the promenade zipped to and fro like insects on sugar highs. The other half seemed to be wading through old engine grease off a derelict transport shuttle. They strolled along aimlessly, window shopping or – even worse - stopping right in front of him to prattle on about anything. Gossipping asshats, the lot of them.
For a few, long minutes he tried to wade through the morass as politely as he could. He was a big man, and he was more than aware he could be intimidating, so he did his best to avoid that. But after the third person stomped all over his feet and the umpteenth elbow in his ribs, he gave up.
“Station security,” he called out in a voice designed to carry. “Coming through. Move it along people, lets clear a path.” Before I shoot some of you in the ass to speed things up .
Up ahead, he could see the banks of express lifts. He set out walking in that direction. Dressed in desert combats with a heavy bulldog of a gun hanging at his hip, he looked every inch of what he was. A soldier. Yet he wasn’t just any run of the mill soldier. He was a warrior.
A Sargosian warrior.
He was almost to the lifts when he ended up getting something more jolting than a sharp elbow to the ribs. He caught a glimpse of blonde hair out of the corner of his eye a moment before a woman crashed into him. The heat across his chest was instant but the wrong kind as scalding hot liquid splashed all over him. The strong, rich scent was instantly recognizable. Coffee. Even as he started cursing, the woman was apologizing.
“Oh no! I’m so sorry.”
She fluttered around him in that way some women had, her small hands brushing at his chest, which did nothing but press the sodden fabric against his bare skin. He winced as the wet cloth scalded him.
“Don’t worry about it. No, don’t,” he ordered, grabbing hold of her hands on the next brush and holding them out to the side. His skin stung, the fabric clinging uncomfortably, but he ignored it in favor of sweeping a concerned glance over her. “Did you get any on you?”
Her clothes looked okay. No marks stained the white blousy top thing she had on, and her pants looked liked they’d escaped the coffee cascade. There was a small splash on the scuffed leather of her boots, but nothing anywhere near her skin. Day breathed a sigh of relief and loosened his grip on her wrists a little. Then he looked into her face and stopped, dead.
She was gorgeous.
Tumbling blonde curls surrounded a face filled with delicate features. Wide-set blue-green eyes tilted up at the corners exotically, reminding him of a
Michelle Fox, Kristen Strassel
Anne Fraser / Lynne Marshall
Bathroom Readers' Hysterical Society