This is not a game – A scene from the scrap pile

Before I decided to start at the beginning of Nate’s and Adelie’s relationship, before I took everything to the peaceful and sweet town of Meadow Junction, the main setting was a space station. The United Space Force was in constant conflict with their enemy, the Corporation. And Nate and Adelie weren’t fresh-faced, innocent cadets, but seasoned fighters with a generous amount of PTSD. I might have abandoned this story for now, but as you can see, some things carried over to Meadow Junction: Classic diners and assholes who don’t take women seriously. Read how Adelie puts Private Hensley in his place below.

***

Johnny’s diner was a favourite among the little USF squadron of Emerald One. It was a little malt shop in one of the side galleries of the Galactic Crossing, Emerald One’s recreational zone. Even though the sun would never shine in the space station, friendly red and white striped awning hung in front of the large windows, with a few tables below. Inside there were red leather benches behind silver aluminium tables on chessboard tiled floors. Behind a big red counter, Johnny himself welcomed visitors. He was an older gentleman with a white beard, friendly blue eyes and a respectable pot belly. His pancakes were the reason why the pilots flocked to the place every morning, at the end of the night shift. As Adelie had excused herself to the bathroom, Nate took to the counter, to order two of Johnny’s famous breakfasts. A group of recent arrivals stood there too, fresh-faced privates, who hadn’t encountered the cruel reality of outpost duty yet.
He didn’t pay attention to them, as hunger and worry were fighting for a premium spot in his stomach.
“Morning Johnny, two of your special breakfasts please. One with extra blueberry pancakes. You know her tastes.” He winked.
“Coming right up, Lieutenant. Coffee?”
“You are a mind reader.”
“You look like you need one.”
Stirring the sugar in his coffee, he let his mind wander to what would probably lie in their near future.
“Hey, aren’t you the guy with the girl commander?” A brash voice interrupted his thoughts. Looking up, he saw a young man, brimming with confidence, clearly looking for trouble.
“If you are speaking of Commander Klaiber, then yes.” Nate tried to keep his voice as flat as possible, but could see the bystanders already flock around them. Bored soldiers loved a good brawl.
“Dude, how humiliating it must be to take orders from a woman.”
“I can assure you that it isn’t different from taking orders from a male officer. Listen kid, I’m not in the mood. If you are wise, you leave me alone.”
But the young private wasn’t wise.
“I’ll bet she has slept her way up to get that rank, no girl can be that good to become commander.”
Some of the bystanders who knew Adelie and Nate, inhaled sharply. Someone muttered: “Boy, Hensley, you just signed your testament.”
Nate placed his coffee cup carefully on the counter, and turned around to face the young man. The look in his eyes made some of the bystanders take a step back.
“What did you just say?”
His voice was hard as steel, the muscles in his jaw taut.
Hensley stood his ground: “I’ll said she must be a slut, no girl can be that good to become commander.”
Before Nate could introduce his clenched fist to the jaw of the insolent private, a voice, clear as a church bell and sharp as a knife, cut through the breathless silence in the diner.
“You have interesting theories about me, Private.”
Nate stepped back to observe one of his favourite spectacles: Adelie reprimanding people underestimating her. She sailed through the crowd like a Dreadnought with all cannons out, people respectfully making way before her.
“I heard you are interested in knowing how it is to take orders from a woman. You are in for a first hand experience. Attention!”
Her voice cracked like a whip, and not only Hensley snapped automatically to attention, but all of his comrades too. Nate chuckled into his coffee.
“Your name?”
“Thomas Hensley, si– ma’am.”
“So, Hensley. You assume that I slept with my superior officers to get better evaluations?” She stared at him with amber eyes glowing mercilessly. Hensley swallowed, tiny pearls of sweat growing on his forehead.
“I’m listening, Hensley. Is that what you think?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“And why do you think that?”
“Because a woman can never be as good as a man in this job.”
“I see. Do you want to know what really got me this rank, Hensley? It was not my ability to navigate a spaceship. Or my endurance in physical tests. Can you guess what it was?”
Nate had found it always fascinating that a charming, warm hearted, generous woman like Adelie had a glare that unnerved even seasoned fighters who had experienced their fair share of hell. It was no wonder that Private Hensley was close to peeing his pants.
“N-n-n-o, I can’t, ma’am.”
She stepped back and walked slowly around him. “Thought so. Because you young ones have absolutely no idea what it means to be a soldier.” Turning back to face him, she sized him up, which made him visibly uncomfortable. He obviously had realised that he was about to experience the whole nine yards from somebody who went through hell and lived to tell the story.
“You think it’s just a game, and who ever reaches the high score first wins. This, Hensley, this here is not a game. Before you know it, you will be wading through ankle deep blood, seeing your friends die left, right and center. You will not sleep for days. A confrontation with the Corporation means that you have to forget that there are any rules, because the enemy gives a damn about rules. You’ll have to accept that you did things during fighting you will never be able to tell your mother, because she would turn away in horror. At night you’ll dream about the shrieks of your friends and see them die slowly in a blaze of gunfire. You will learn to shut up that voice in you, that persistently tells you that you are a murderer. I got that rank Hensley, because I’m good at killing. Killing other human beings so that they don’t kill my comrades or me. I don’t have to prove myself to a little shit like you. Now get out of here before I report you to your superior officer.”
“Yes ma’am.”
Nate watched with barely hidden amusement how Hensley and his friends scrambled out of the diner as fast as they could. Adelie climbed on one of the bar stools next to him, poured herself a cup of coffee and mumbled under her breath: “Stupid kids.”

An unexpected kiss – An Alpha & Omega out-take

If I’d collect all the first kisses I wrote between Nate and Adelie over the course of months and across different story ideas that ultimately ended up in the scrap pile, I probably had another book. Full of kisses, mmmmh! Anyway – this take on the first kiss was a little mean, because it happens in front of the other guests at a New Year’s Eve party. Eventually I decided to let them kiss alone, after their first date. Way more romantic, don’t you think?

***
Nate pondered who had invited Dave to join the little party. He was a nice guy, but without a clue when it was time to move on to the next topic. At least it wasn’t necessary to actually answer to his ongoing babbling, so he had time to admire Adelie in her simple moss-green tunic over her trade-mark cigarette pants. The fabric of the loose-cut tunic was clingy and hugged her breasts in a way that made it hard to look away. Leslie also looked very pretty in a shimmery black shift dress, and he had caught Jake staring at her as she passed him on her way to fetch something from Adelie’s kitchen. His attention shifted back to Adelie who was busy reading the instructions to the game. “Truth or Dare” stood in bright red letters on the box.
The game was indeed perfect party fun. In the course of half an hour, they’d learned that Jake got his first kiss on a playground, aged four, Leslie demonstrated veritable skill in eating an apple without her hands, and Dave had to start every sentence with “All hail Queen Nefertiti”.
#
Adelie had never played any party games and enjoyed the fun immensely. It was Nathan’s turn. Of course he chose dare. Jake picked the next card from the pile. “Share a kiss.” He read. “Of course you get to do the pleasant thing. Depending on who you get to kiss of course.”
“Dave!” That remark came from Leslie, and the group roared with laughter. Nate rolled his eyes. Jake set the wheel of fortune in motion – it slowed down and finally stopped. Jake smirked. “Oh boy, this is going to be good. The lucky ducky is: Adelie!”
“Oooooooh.” Excited cheers around the table. Nate took her hand and got up: “This is easier when standing.”
Her palms turned sweaty. Was she getting stage fright now?
“Looks like I’m in for a first hand experience and can see what the fuss is all about. I’ll report back.” Joking always calms nerves.
More laughter.
He leaned in. “Are you really okay with this?” he whispered.
“It’s called Truth or Dare, and I don’t back down from dares… not harmless ones at least,” she whispered back.
“Okay.”
“Stop chatting, start kissing!” That was Dave.
“You’re all bloodthirsty spectators, really.” Nate rolled his eyes again, and took her into his arms. He smelled good, he always smelled good. His body was warm against hers. He brushed away an errant strand of her hair and extended the movement into cupping her face, his thumb tenderly resting against her cheekbone. As he drew nearer, she closed her eyes, suddenly overwhelmed. Warm breath met her skin first, travelling along her nose, over her cheek until finally his lips touched hers softly. He could’ve just quickly pressed his lips to hers and been done with it. But Nate wouldn’t be Nate if he kissed hastily. His lips were supple and smooth against hers. Instinct took over, her hands moved over his hard chest, up and around his neck, into his hair, her mouth opened and she pulled him in. He tasted spicy and fruity from the punch. Not missing a beat, his arm around her tightened and he held her firmly. She needed every support she could get, because her knees buckled and she swayed against him. Someone cleared their throat. Awareness of her surroundings rushed in, and they both stiffened. Then he reluctantly broke contact.

Attraction – An Alpha & Omega out-take

The craft of writing demands a lot of re-writing, shuffling and cutting of words, scenes, sometimes whole chapters. What follows is a scene between Nate and Jake that didn’t make it into the final version. Some ideas re-appear in the locker room scene that got written and published instead. Originally, Alpha and Omega had a lot more plot-lines and a lot more characters. I’m looking forward to write more of Nate’s friendship with Jake in “Rocket Sisters”.

***
The sports bar was loud and dark, the beer cool and tangy. A phalanx of broad backs lined the bar, staring at the screens above them. Nate was for once happy about the lack of women around him. Jake shoved him with his shoulder.
“I really don’t get you, man. Why don’t you give up? If she’d been interested in ending up in bed with you, she’d have invited you in.”
“I don’t know. I really just like spending time with her.”
“Spending time with a woman. Outside the bedroom? I thought you don’t do relationships.”
Nate huffed at his friend’s teasing smile. “I don’t. Costs too much effort with too much risk of getting hurt.”
Jake scratched his unshaven chin, then took a sip from his beer. “You see her every week in the library. You tell me this is not a relationship.”
“It’s not. I don’t know what it is. She’s like you, just in pretty.”
Jake laughed. “Thanks man. I’m aware I’m not a hot piece of man candy like you.”
“It’s nice. It’s nice to talk to her. She has a great sense of humour. She’s witty. She doesn’t accept my bullshit.”
“Your bullshit?” Jake ordered another beer.
“You know, the usual waffle, which works well with the nurses, but doesn’t seem to impress her at all. She always raises her eyebrow, smiles in a way that makes it really hard to not kiss her, and looks like she wants to say ‘You’re kidding, right?'”
Jake snorted. “So she’s a challenge. You can’t accept that there’s a woman immune to your charm.”
Nate took a big gulp of his beer and a moment to sort his thoughts. “She’s not a challenge. I… I like her. I’d almost forgotten how nice it is to just spend time with a woman, to get to know her. Having an actual conversation about anything.”
Jake chuckled into his beer. “Careful man, she’s taming you.”
“Never!”
“She already managed to get you into a tie and shiny shoes.”
Nate laughed. “Well, she was wearing a really beautiful dress, and the concert was nice too, totally worth wearing a suit.”
His friend shook his head slowly. “You know, she’s not going out with anybody else, so it can’t be something that has to do with you. Maybe it’s a Baroness’s Code of Conduct that doesn’t allow her to sleep with hot male fellow students. Maybe it’s just because she’s a baroness, and we’re not barons… who knows?”
They turned to the match flickering in front of them, but Nate couldn’t concentrate. Jake was onto something, although he didn’t think it had anything to do with her being a baroness.

Rugby Championships, Part 6 (Alpha & Omega, Episode 60)

Reunited again!

Nate stood in the middle of the field, trying to extinguish the shadow of frustration that tainted his greatest triumph. He looked at the cheering masses, the gold confetti raining from above, his teammates celebrating with the cup. It was all so perfect, but he wished he could share this moment with Adelie. She wouldn’t even be able to watch it live, nor would she be able to see everything on TV. He wanted to kick something, but Jake’s heavy hand slapped his shoulder first.
“Don’t be sad. Look who’s here.”
“Huh?” He turned and couldn’t believe his eyes. Through a veil of gold confetti rain, a group of young women and men in Westerhaven Academy blue picked their way across the field. It couldn’t be, but one slender figure looked very familiar, and then she saw him and walked up to him. His face contorted into a smile while his chest wrangled with a sob of relief. Adelie! Adelie was here! And then she was in his arms, enveloped in the biggest bear hug he was able to deliver short of breaking her back. She held on to him just as tightly, hands grabbed fistfuls of jersey on his back. He buried his face in her hair, refreshing his memory with its scent. Adelie.
“Oh, how I missed this.” Her glorious voice.
He allowed for the tiniest amount of breathing space between them, still trying to understand how it came that she was in his arms. “How… why… what are you all doing here?”
She chuckled, her eyes full of mischievous sparkle. “The Academy Rugby Association decided it would be nice for the players to have their partners there after the final. So we got shipped here three days ago. They boarded us in an excellent hotel, gave us the full sightseeing tour, and we had our own box near the twenty yards line for the match.”
“You saw the game.” He still couldn’t believe he wasn’t dreaming.
She wound her hands around his neck, tilted her head backwards and smiled. “Yes, I saw the game. Everything. I’m so proud of you.”
“You saw my try!” Finally, his brain caught up with what she was saying. “So I did hear you yell! I didn’t imagine things!”
“Yeah, you probably did. I nearly killed my throat again that moment.”
He lifted her up and spun around with her. She squealed, and it was the happiest sound he’d ever heard. His Adelie, his little Spitfire. He put her down again and they hugged in a drunken state of dizzy happiness. Their eyes and foreheads met and the surrounding world went mute. Her soft palm cupped his cheek, her thumb brushed carefully over his bruised skin. “You look awful.”
“I know. Doesn’t hurt, though.”
“Wait ’til the adrenaline drops.”
“I don’t care. I have you. I finally have you back.”
“Hey champ, you left me… not the other way ’round.”
“Sorry, won’t happen again. No, sir.”
“Shut up and kiss me.”
He obliged because that was an order he could not resist, nor did he want to. Their nose tips rubbed against each other, her breath was warm on his skin, and no gold confetti could sparkle as beautiful as her eyes. A mutual sigh. Her hands moved into his hair, his tightened around her shoulders. The sensation of something getting loose that had been stuck before. Sound returned, and suddenly the colours were more vibrant than before.
#
Adelie marvelled at the view of the city spread out before her like a toy land. Shanghai Five was bathed in the pink glow of dawn, pouring in through the crystal clear hull of the dome that protected the city’s inhabitants from the planet’s harmful atmosphere outside. The morning’s first monorails zipped along their rails through the maze of high rises. Space was scarce, so Shanghai Five was a multi-storey town, with gardens and parks and bridges connecting the buildings on every level. Rumours had it that some people had not been to the ground in decades. Soft snoring made her abandon the view and turn around. They had just returned from a night of celebrating, and Nate laid on the bed sleeping. The state he was in though caused her to smile. He had managed to get off his shoes, jacket and dress pants, but then exhaustion must have overwhelmed him, and he had fallen asleep, legs still on the floor. Gently shaking her head, she stepped closer, the moss-green fabric of her evening gown rustling from the movement. Lovingly she lifted his legs up, pulled off his socks and draped the blanket over him. She had to find a way to get his shirt off later. For now, she needed to get out of the dress and into her own PJs too, maybe she could catch a wink of sleep before they had to leave in the afternoon to return to Westerhaven.
She stood in front of the large mirror over the desk next to the bed and pulled out the pins that held her hair up. One after the other, chestnut curls fell on her shoulders. Morning light streamed into the room, and she made a mental note to close the drapes before she’d crawl into bed.
“You look like a goddess. A goddess of the morning.” Nate’s voice was slurred from too much champagne, exhaustion and sleep, but it also had this rich, dark timbre that never failed to give her goosebumps. She turned around. He’d braced himself on his elbow, looking at her almost mesmerised.
“Hey.”
“Sorry for falling asleep.”
“Don’t be, my mighty warrior.” This made him laugh, and he sat up to rub his hands over his face.
“Don’t feel so mighty right now, to be honest.”
“Darling, you had a very long and very exciting night. It’s allowed to feel like minced meat. A lot happened.” Adelie had finished hunting the hundreds of pins in her hair. She took a comb and put a least a little order into her hair, then she zipped open the dress to take it off. Nate sucked in his breath sharply.
“So that’s what you’re hiding under such a formal affair? Good golly, if I’d known this, I’d dragged you up here right after desserts.”
This made her laugh, and she climbed onto the enormous white bed, silk stockings and lace panties and all. He grinned, suddenly looking not so tired anymore. “Let me help you with this,” she said, tugging at his crumpled white dress shirt.
“Thanks. The shoulder is not happy,” he groaned. She gave him a peck on the cheek, then pushed the shirt over his shoulders and helped him free his arms. “You’re the best.”
“Do you need anything else?”
He shook his head. “No, besides you I don’t need anything.”
His arm wound around her waist, then he pulled her close enough to lean his forehead against hers. Nose tips brushed against cheeks, lips almost touched. The heat of his body radiated out to her, and she found his familiar scent on his skin, peppered with traces of champagne. He breathed tender kisses between her eyebrows, on the corner of her eye, her temple, near her ear. Her guts unclenched like a fist she’d balled without noticing as she answered him in the same vein, brushing her lips over all the battle wounds he’d suffered. The stitches over his left eyebrow, the cut on his cheek, the shadow of a fading black eye. Eventually, he softly cupped her chin, and they made eye contact. Sun-faded indigo once again seemed to fill out her vision.
“You know, after you’ve been underwater and come up, when you take your first gulp of fresh air?” His voice was only a quiet whisper.
“Yeah?” Hers too.
“This is how I feel right now. I feel like I’d held my breath for four weeks and only now I can breathe again. I missed you so much, in so many unexpected ways…”
Water welled up in her eyes, and she took his beloved face into her hands. “I love you.”
His knuckle caught an errant tear. “I love you too, babe. So much.”
“So we’re dancing on the rings of Saturn, laughing at gravity?” Her lips brushed along his, a sweet half-kiss, as his arms slid around her and she found herself down in the pillows with him. He chuckled while he contemplated her face with a loving expression.
“Yes, I’m laughing at gravity. You’re not afraid when you found your home in the arms of a great woman.”
“I’m your home.” She had no word to describe how happy this made her, but her broad smile probably told him anyway. He bowed his head and nuzzled the crook of her neck. She wrapped her arms around his massive torso and pulled him on top of her.
“Yes, you are.”
As she lost herself in his kiss, she realised that he was hers too.

Rugby Championships, Part 5 (Alpha & Omega, Episode 59)

More letter writing.

Dearest Adelie,
coming into my room after dinner to a new message from you is certainly my highlight of the day. And I hope that you like waking up to one from me every morning. My shoulder still hurts from the crash with Lexington, but the doc is confident that I’ll be able to play in the final. Holy crap, I still can’t believe we made it all the way to the end. We’re all equal parts excited and terrified. What an honour, what a chance – but Whitestone won’t be easy. Heck, neither of our opponents was easy, but I’m not sure our usual tactic will work against them. Oh, how I wish you’d be here, with your tactical finesse. I often find myself thinking: “Now, what would Adelie say, with her razor-sharp mind?” You’d probably say, don’t use the same tactic anyway, because this makes us predictable, and you’re so right. I miss you, babe. You and your feminine ways. You know how male pilots are, but I don’t think you can imagine what happens when you put a bunch of them into close quarters for a few weeks. The testosterone’s dripping off the walls. I can assure you when we’ll see each other again, you won’t get out of bed for a week. Like a mad man, I crave the sweet touch of your lips, the silky friction of your velvety skin against mine. I need to hear you sigh when I kiss the pulse point on your neck, and your moans when I go lower. Your hands restlessly ransacking my hair when you kiss me. I want to make you quiver and squirm and go taut with anticipation. I long to be buried deep inside you, when your body arches and muscles ripple all around me, because nothing, nothing feels as good to me as you do. Sorry to go all troglodyte at you, but when the day is done, and all polite conversation is over, I’m just a man, and I need my woman. Badly.
Yours always,
Nate
#
Nate,
please never apologise for having needs – even if this need includes my body. I do have an inner troglodette who wants and misses you too. If you want to make me all hot and bothered, keep writing me letters like this. There’s a void inside me that demands to be filled with you. I want to be wrapped all around you, feel you, cradle you within me. I want to surrender to your kisses, I want to be swept away in a flood of exquisite emotions that only you seem to be able to coax from me. Your lips. On mine. On my skin. Always knowing where I like them, where I need them most. You always seem to know what I need – how do you do that? I don’t want to sound shallow, and there are many ways in which your absence reminds me of how wonderful you are, as a man, as my partner, as a cook, but right now, I miss your qualities as my lover most.
Looking forward to a week in bed with you,
Adelie

Rugby Championships, Part 4 (Alpha & Omega, Episode 58)

Writing letters to each other.

Dear Nate,
I’m glad to hear that you arrived safely and that you’re happy with the hotel. Nothing’s worse than bad lodgings. The guide has done me good service all the time the tour stayed in Shanghai Five. I don’t know if it’s still there, but if you get a chance, try Fong’s at the corner of Emerson and Gibraltar Avenue – they have the best Dim Sum. Everything’s the same here in good old Westerhaven. Only you are missing. It was weird to go to bed last night without you and very lonely without you cooking breakfast this morning. My attempts to reproduce your fluffy pancakes failed miserably, but I followed your recipe to a t. Clearly, there’s a trick you haven’t shown me yet.
Take care,
your Adelie
#
My dear Adelie,
I’m exhausted beyond words. But we made it to the semi-final! Did you watch the game? It was a battle! The masseur here is lacking your talents, though, and I’m very much in need of your capable hands. No, not just your hands. All of you. I thought I’d miss our intimacy the most, and goodness, how do I miss it, but to my surprise the little things sting more. Jake and I found Fong’s but his palate isn’t as refined as yours, and he was more interested in the cute waitress anyway. Dining there with you would’ve been a lot more pleasant. You would have made remarks about the quality of the food and not some poor girl’s ample chest. But you’re not here. There’s no one to welcome me with sympathy and a warm hug when I come back to the hotel after a gruelling training session. I miss your hand slipping into mine when I walk down a street and your excitement when something catches your eye. Your giggles when I say something funny. Your little tactical lectures over dinner. Did I ever tell you that I’ve gotten heaps and bounds better in air combat since I met you? Your words don’t fall on barren lands, I’m listening and take them to heart! Although I know I’ll never gonna be a tactical mastermind like you. But to be honest, right now I just want to feel your arms around me, your soothing voice in my ear, and fall asleep. My body is still screaming bloody murder at me, and the game was yesterday! I hope I’ll be able to stand upright after the semi-final, no matter the outcome.
I miss you,
Nate
#
My poor baby,
I hope you’re feeling better when you’re reading this. I’m so, so proud of you all! Yes, I watched the game – Bob and Eddy asked me to come over, and we yelled a lot at the screen. I was peering through my fingers when I wasn’t yelling, though. Nearly died because it was so close! It was painful to see your face so bloody and bruised and not being able to comfort you afterwards. Being stuck here in Westerhaven without the excitements of a new city, I feel there’s a Nate-shaped hole in my life right now. I’ve gotten so quickly used to be able to tell you the happenings of the day. Having you sit across the table, grinning, gesticulating, telling me about your day. It’s so darn quiet all the time. I even miss your obnoxious way of falling out of bed in the morning and doing a hundred push-ups right away! But hey, I haven’t burned down the kitchen yet in my attempts to get the pancakes right, that does count as success, doesn’t it? The days are okay, I can find enough to distract myself from your absence, but the nights give me trouble. First the quiet apartment, then I have a hard time falling asleep without your warm body next to mine. I’m lying awake and wonder if my bed has always been this big and empty. I wake up in the small hours of the morning because there’s no one snoring softly into my ear. They always say absence makes the heart grow fonder… I know what they mean now.
Lots of kisses on every bruise,
Adelie

Rugby Championships, Part 3 (Alpha & Omega Episode 57)

Saying goodbye is hard.

Nate watched her standing beside the huge bus that was about to ferry them to Lewiston Space Travel Terminal. Adelie shivered in the cold morning air. She looked a little lost and miserable. There were other player’s partners too, and none of them seemed particularly happy. He stepped next to her and touched her arm. “Hey. Take this.” He wrapped her in his team hoodie.
“You’ll get cold!” She protested, but snuggled into the warmth of the jacket nevertheless.
“I have a spare.”
“Thank you.”
“It will keep you warm as long as I’m away.”
The coach interrupted them by clapping his hands and yelling: “Okay boys, 5 more minutes, then it’s time to get this show on the road.”
Adelie’s eyes got wide, and she swallowed. “I hate saying goodbye.”
He pulled her into a fierce embrace, pressed his lips to hers and relished in the way she melted against him.
“Good luck.” She whispered, smoothing his hair. “Win the trophy.” Another long kiss. He was sure it wouldn’t tide him over to the end of the adventure.
“Yes, ma’am. I’ll write every day. Maybe I can find an interstellar phone box and call when we’ve arrived.”
“I’d appreciate the effort, but don’t. It’s hellishly expensive. 5 credits the minute. Let’s write instead. Works better with different timezones too.” She lovingly adjusted the collar of his shirt. “Now go forth and bring pride to Westerhaven. I’ll be a good girlfriend and wait for your return.” She attempted a brave smile.
“Time to go! Havisham, hurry up!”
One last, quick, insufficient kiss, then he was dragged into the bus. Outside he could see the girls huddle, waving as the bus pulled away. They were on the road.
He sat down next to Jake, who eyed him suspiciously. “Man, what’s up with you? We’re going to Lewiston Space Terminal! We’re going to Shanghai Five! And you look like you’re getting a root canal.”
“Adventures are only half as fun when your partner in crime is missing.”
***
My dear Adelie,
we made it safe and sound to Shanghai Five, after twenty-four hours of tedious travel. Shanghai Five is as breathtaking as you described it. The domes are amazing! We are in the centre one, close to the stadium and the famous night district. I think you’d like the hotel and I much rather share my room with you than with Jake. Our room is on the 25th floor, and we have a breathtaking view over the hanging gardens and the stadium. You can imagine how surprised I was when I found your sweet gift – I don’t know when and how you managed to smuggle the little bear and the restaurant guide into my bag. Jake is game to go sightseeing with me so this will come in handy. You are so sweet, and I miss you very much. I’m exhausted and will now go to bed and dream of you.
Yours,
Nate.

Rugby Championships, Part 2 (Alpha & Omega, Episode 56)

Our heroes discuss what happens when jokes become reality.

Nate’s kiss poured a golden glow into every crack and fissure of Adelie’s anxious heart until she could breathe again. He held her together with his strong arms until she wasn’t falling apart anymore and the painful idea of a life without him retreated.
“Thank you,” she mumbled into the folds of his shirt, bringing out his great chuckle. She looked up, diving into the blue of his eyes with abandon because they were her own personal sky. She expected them to be full of mirth, ready to tease her with her silliness, but instead she found him just as undone as she was. He wasn’t just holding her, he was as much holding on to her as she was to him.
“Thank you for taking your job as my guardian angel so seriously.” His chest expanded with a deep sigh, and he lovingly brushed away her hair while his gaze swept her face. “Guess, it’s not just a silly joke anymore.”
She chuckled. “Was it ever just a joke?”
Their eyes met, and he cleared his throat. “I think it started as one. But it became real quickly. As…” He stopped and looked at the ceiling. “As our feelings for each other? From friendship to attraction to… to something bigger. But we don’t trust this feeling yet.”
“No, we don’t.” She took his hand and laced her fingers through his. His thumb brushed along her index finger. “Right now, I’m feeling as if we’re both standing on a very large pogo ball, like on the rings of Saturn. And we’re holding on to each other so neither falls off, and we don’t – but it’s not a stable act yet.”
He grinned. “That’s the most accurate description of my emotional state I’ve ever heard.” Excitedly, he turned and propped himself up on his elbow, not letting go of her hand. “But I’m convinced that one day we reach the stability we both desire. We will dance on the rings of Saturn and laugh at gravity. We will, babe, we will.”
Those blue eyes, sparkling with utmost sincerity and enthusiasm. His smile, bright and happy and contagious. She wrapped her arms around his neck and shoulders and pulled him down. Yes, he was worth learning how to defy the laws of physics.
He was also worth sacrificing her vocal chords, as she discovered the next day. Neither Adelie nor Leslie had any voice left after the eighty minutes were over, and Westerhaven celebrated a victory by a mere point difference. She met her knight at the sideline, dirty and bloody and bruised, but wearing the biggest smile.
“We won, babe! We won!” He lifted her up and spun her around until she squealed.
“You made it to the playoffs!”
He put her down, very abruptly. “What’cha done to your voice?”
“I cheered you to victory.” She sounded like the rusty water pump in the farmhouse garden. Nate’s mouth twitched, but he succeeded in keeping a straight face. Until she spoke again. “I’m so proud of you!”
He chortled. “Gosh, that sounds painful. And thanks for your commitment, I’m sure it made a difference.” He wrapped her into one of his bear hugs. “Thanks, babe, I know it wasn’t easy for you,” he whispered into her ear. She framed his face with her hands.
“Tiger, you deserve to go to the playoffs so, so much. All of you. You worked so hard to bring Westerhaven back after twenty years of absence. Yes, it’s hard for me to see you go, but damn, I was once a competitive athlete, and I want you to win that trophy.” Her voice was reduced to a rough whisper, but he understood her nonetheless in the celebrating crowds and clutched her tightly. He looked around and then back to her.
“You know… I better get you home and make you a hot milk with honey, to appease your vocal cords. I don’t want you to ruin your lovely voice.”
“But don’t you want to celebrate with your teammates?” Adelie pulled a face as her hoarse pipes eliminated all emphasis. Nate still had trouble not to burst into laughter when she spoke, as his twinkling eyes betrayed. He shook his head.
“I’m dead on my feet, it was a hard match. We’ll leave for Shanghai Five in three days, and I rather spend as much time with you as possible until then. I’ll see the boys long enough during our trip.” He put his arm around her waist and steered them towards the exit. “Let’s go home, babe. Shower, hot milk, cuddle time. I need that right now.”
She snuggled close, absolutely d’accord with his priorities. Three days wasn’t a lot of time left with him.

So, what’s up?

Greetings, fellow Dumplings in the Soup called Life, how is it in your corner of the world? We’re currently victims to another heat wave with temps around 35°C (this is 95°F for you on the other side of the big pond), and this makes things quite sticky and sweaty. Anyhoo, it’s called summer for a reason.

So, what have I lined up now that Alpha & Omega is only five episodes short of being complete? Unfortunately, writing takes time, and I’m nowhere near a 56.000 words strong book. Life, work, etc… you get the picture. But there will be a Book Number 2, and currently, I plan to begin publishing its first chapter in October. Nothing is set in stone because I haven’t written anything yet. It’s going to be called “Rocket Sisters”, and it will be a collection of shorter stories, focusing on Adelie and her friends. More strong ladies, woop woop! But no worries; Nate, Jake and Gerald will still be there, too. And, that’s the biggest change probably, I will be writing in German. I’m switching languages for various reasons, but mainly because writing in a second language is like writing with the handbrakes on. There are enough mediocre English writers already, and that’s what I always feel when I write in English: Mediocre.

I’ve also been quietly working on lining up two social media accounts that accompany this blog. There is the Facebook page which will keep you in the loop about new episodes and also posts pictures of shiny vintage cars and other pictures that I find fitting for my made-up world of Meadow Junction or are in other ways awesome Science-fiction. And then there’s a (new) Instagram account himmelskratzer.writes, which will not post inspiring quotes as so many other authors do, but will show behind the scenes and my own creations for the Cadets’ Universe, as well as notifications when new episodes are available. So if you don’t follow the Cadets there already, you’re welcome to do so.

I’m still undecided what I’ll post after Alpha & Omega has run its course, to tide everybody over until I can post new original stories. I do have oodles of one shots and vignettes in my notebooks, mainly fluffy scenes between Nate and Adelie; maybe I’m going to post some of this. Time – the archenemy of the creative person with a full-time job. *huffs*

Rugby Championships, Part 1 (Alpha & Omega, Episode 55)

Adelie and Nate face the first rough point in their relationship.

“If Haystack isn’t careful, the Princess is going to roast his tail feathers.” Jake stared through his binoculars to get a better view of the happenings in the sky. Nate shoved his hands deeper into the pockets of his parka to keep them from freezing.
“He’ll be lucky if she doesn’t do worse to him…”
“Come on, come on… boom! There, Haystack’s toast.”
“Told ya so.”
The sky was a muddy grey, and the ground did its best to blend with it under a blotchy blanket of snow. The only upside of the terribly cold weather was that the Stingray cockpits didn’t reach oven temperatures as fast as they usually did. Nate couldn’t help but sigh proudly as Adelie touched down perfectly. Jake nudged him. “Stop being so star-struck.”
“You’re just jelly that you don’t have such a kick-ass girlfriend.” He sauntered over to where Adelie had brought her Stingray to a stop. The bubble canopy swung open, and she pulled off her helmet. Wisps of hair stuck to her sweaty forehead and her cheeks glowed pink.
“Nate!” He lived for the way she beamed at him whenever she saw him. “What are you doing here?”
“I have radar exercises soon. Hunting tiny things hidden in the woods. How boring. Awesome dogfight, by the way.”
With a laugh, his beautiful girlfriend exited her plane and climbed down the ladder. “Thank you. Haystack isn’t as difficult to beat as you are.”
He longed to sweep her into his arms and kiss her in the shelter of the plane, but they had a “No kisses on base” agreement, and he knew Adelie wouldn’t sway one iota from her professionalism as long as both of them were wearing flight suits.
“But he’s one of the few true opponents you still have left since Payne refuses to pitch us against each other again.”
“Silly man fears for his equipment…” She shook her head.
“I don’t care as long as this fear means he pairs us up all the time.”
Her hand slipped into his as they walked back. Jake welcomed them with a grin. “What a start to the weekend… nice show of force up there, Adelie. Very impressive.”
“Thank you, Jake.”
“Are you coming to the rugby game tomorrow? I’ll bet Nate has enlisted you for support. If we win, we’re going to the playoffs in Shanghai Five!”
“Yes, and how exciting would that be! Of course, I’ll be there tomorrow.” There was a strange pitch in her voice, and it strummed the string of worry in his stomach. Nate followed her to her locker.
“You’ve got a problem with the playoffs, babe.” He leant against the adjacent locker, watching her stowing her stuff.
“I don’t.”
“Yes, you do. Your voice goes all flat, and your excitement sounds forced.”
She sighed and placed her helmet more carefully than necessary on the top shelf of her locker. She slowly closed the door and locked it, then turned and leant against its metal surface. As her eyes met his, they were large and full of reluctance. He stepped closer, wishing he could wrap her in his arms. No chance. Adelie smoothed the parka over his shoulders.
“I don’t really want to talk about it here and now.”
“Will you tell me tonight?”
“Sure.”
She let him wait until after dinner when they were comfortable snuggled up on her bed. With her securely in his arms, he decided to press the matter again.
“So, about the playoffs thing… what’s your trouble?”
Adelie sighed. “It’s foolish. I’m worried… worried that something’s going to happen to you.” Exasperated she tugged at his shirt. “As I said, it’s stupid.”
He gently massaged her neck. “There’s nothing stupid about caring for someone and being worried.” Her eyes glistened. He knew the look on her face, he had seen it before, on Bunker Hill. She was struggling with her emotions and losing. A tear escaped and coursed over her cheek as she looked at him with her damn big brown eyes that had the power to do him in. He needed an out, and unlike the last time she unravelled in his arms, he had one. Tenderly he touched his lips to hers. A sigh. For a while he just held her, kissing her softly now and then. Her hand had slipped under his shirt, stroking his waist.
Eventually, she broke the silence. “When you collapsed on the field, I’ve been so scared like never before in my life. It’s very hard to watch you play since then. Every tackle feels like I’m tackled too. The thought that something could happen to you… that I could lose you…” She shook her head, unable to speak anymore. But he needed no words to understand. Pulling her tightly against him, he kissed her again, trying to tell her without words how important she was to him.