Category Archives: The Vault

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.”

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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.

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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.

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