Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Reformation: Chapter Eleven

Notes: On we go, back to Pandora and Jonah and being in the thick of things. Poor guy, I'm just fucking with him over and over and over again. *sigh* I kind of love it. Enjoy!

Title: Reformation: Chapter Eleven


Chapter Eleven

The ship still moved.

Jonah wasn’t surprised. He’d only managed one tether, and the shuttle was perched on her back—it would be stranger if she didn’t move, the way the storm was raging out there. He’d been expecting a few shimmies, a little slip and slide here and there. What he hadn’t been expecting was the consistency of their movement, a constant grinding back and forth across the stony precipice, making the ship shudder and pitch against the harpoon. If he hadn’t landed a solid hit in the rock, they would have already been in the sea. As it was, Jonah didn’t feel too optimistic about their chances of staying where they were for long. They needed to move. They needed a rescue.

“Need a fuckin’ miracle,” he muttered to himself, one hand pressed to his forehead, the other laying gently on Lacey’s shoulder. She was easy, at least, none of her vitals giving him any cause for alarm. Not again, not yet. It wouldn’t last, though. Easy never lasted.

He went through his options yet again. They never changed, but at least it gave his mind something to do now that his hands were idle. “Stay here and wait for rescue.” Well, that wasn’t gonna be an option for much longer. Not that he knew that for sure, because he didn’t, but it was safer to hedge that bet than bluff with nothing in his hand. The longer they sat still, the likelier it was that they wouldn’t get out of this.

“Try to send out a better signal.” Yeah, they had the emergency beacon, but who knew who was listening for that? What if there was no one to listen? Jonah shook his head; he couldn’t operate under the assumption that Pandora City was lost. If that was true… Anyway, it didn’t matter, because he’d used up almost all of the spare power.

“Try and get to the underground.” He knew the location of the big shelters, like all residents of the Box did. He had no idea how to get to them from here, though. There were back doors, but those were hidden, and anyway, those shelters were a long ways off, if they were even still viable. Nope. Not happening.

“Try and find another shelter.” Except there was nothing out here. Nobody had ever homesteaded out this far—why would they, when most of the population was made up of naturals who needed the nearness of the infirmary to give them a regular boost, and when the landscape was so desolate and brutal? What was there out here to entice a person? According to Garrett, this area was one of his personal hells. And he would know; he’d spent over a day holed up in a concrete bunker when his shuttle had been washed away while he was trying to set up a climate modelling experime—

“Holy shit.” The bunkers. Jonah hadn’t thought about those in close to a decade. They were leftovers from the original colony mindset, one that had included pushing out of the canyon the Box was located in and making a go of it in other places. The bunkers had been installed along the edge of the cliff, about ten of them, waystations between what would have been villages before folks gave it up as a bad idea, because the weather was simply too violent.

The bunkers…as far as Jonah knew, those hadn’t been touched in a long time, but after Garrett had gotten back from his ill-fated little expedition, as miserable and bedraggled as a wet catterpet, he’d insisted on upgrading their capacities. “So that no one else who has to weather a storm out there does it knee-deep in freezing water without a fucking light to see by,” he’d said. There would be a generator. There would be basic facilities. There would inevitably be a Regen unit, because Garrett always, always planned for the worst outcomes, and the last time he’d been out there his natural pilot had almost succumbed to hypothermia. It had scared the shit out of him. Jonah hadn’t paid much attention to that story, more interested in the marriage proposal that had come right after the tale of woe. Now, though…

Jonah struggled to his feet, feeling unaccountably woozy before he remembered that he hadn’t eaten in God only knew how long. He dug a ration bar out of the locker by the defunct Regen unit and bit into it as he rummaged around for the map of the area. They were old-fashioned, these maps, pretty much useless when you were in a working shuttle, but that was another thing that had been included as a “just in case” measure, since the planet was so unpredictable. “C’mon,” he muttered, pawing through the flight log—printed out and stored by the shuttle itself, so it was nice and easy to maintain. The map had to be in here somewhere…

“Gotcha!” At the back, of course. Jonah spread it out on the ground and squinted at it in the dim light of the emergency beacon. There they were, the bunkers marked as little circles along the edge of the cliffs. Two of them had X’s through them, a sign that they were now defunct and hadn’t been maintained. Neither of those were the closest to him, though…were they?

Jonah wracked his aching brain, trying to come up with the answer. He knew where they’d crashed, he could see the display burned onto the backs of his eyelids. They were about twenty klicks out from the Box, north thirty-four degrees, west seventy-five or close enough, he could get into the fractions if he needed to but…Jonah followed the course in his mind and found their likely landing spot, then looked for the closest bunker.

There it was. Less than two kilometers away, if he was right. If he was right. If he could get there through this storm―or should he wait it out, then go? And should he go by himself first, to make sure he was right, or should he bring Lacey along right away? He’d have to carry her, rig up some sort of sled to drag her along. It wasn’t gonna be easy, and he was tired. Jonah didn’t know if he had the energy in him for more than one trip, much less dragging Lacey along behind him, but he didn’t know what other choice he had. The ship was still wriggling like a living thing, and if they went into the sea after all the goddamn work he’d done to keep them in one place, he’d never forgive himself. Or live, but that was another issue.

He’d need to bring food. Sanitizers. As much power as possible in the form of batteries. The beacon…no, not that. The bunker might have its own, and given that he didn’t know who was listening, well…it was just safer this way.

Not safe. What was safe anymore? But safer.

Jonah didn’t let himself think about it too much, just packed as quickly and methodically as he could, trying to remember all the things he’d been told were important back when he’d taken that outdoor survival class. It had been a requirement for every colonist of Pandora, but Jonah had never re-upped it after the first time. Call it the Drifter in him, but he was more comfortable inside—a home, a ship, a city—than he ever was outside. All that space, all that strange openness…frankly, it gave him chills. Garrett had never teased him about it, sweetheart that he was, and after the first few camping expeditions he and Robbie had organized, he’d taken Jonah’s reluctance to heart and not tried to talk them into any more. And Jonah had been glad. Glad.

Fuck. He was a goddamn selfish son of a bitch, was what he was. And now he was going to trek across rocky, unstable terrain in the middle of a downpour, trying to navigate under a pitch-black sky. Robbie could have done it blindfolded. Hell, Garrett could probably do it with both hands tied behind his back, for all that he was a city boy at heart.

“Next time I see you, we’re going camping,” he promised his absent husband. “Sleeping outside, starting fires with matches, all that crap. We can take the kids.” Cody and Ten, Darrel and Grennson…Jonah couldn’t let himself think about them, not right now. “Anything you want, darlin’.” Anything, as long as we’re together.

He glanced out the porthole at the back of the shuttle. The grinding wasn’t so bad now, and he could actually see through the rain. It was an ebb, he knew, not an end, but Jonah would take it.

He knelt down over Lacey. “Okay, honey. Sorry in advance about the cold, but if this goes right, I’ll have you warm again soon.” Warm, and better taken care of. He shifted her onto the stretcher he’d cobbled together, then bundled the both of them up in all the weatherproof equipment he had, then made sure the rest of the supplies were tied securely to the base.

“All right, then.” He slung the fabric supports over his shoulders, then knotted them around his waist. “Time to get out of here.” Opening the back door manually was a pain, but he managed it, and was greeted by a blast of icy rain right to the face.

Lightning flashed, illuminating the puddle in front of the shuttle, and the thin, jerking tether that looked frailer and frailer by the second.

“Great,” Jonah said with a sigh, then started their descent, the route fixed firmly in his mind.

He’d get them to the bunker if it was the last thing he did.

Monday, October 24, 2016

New Release: Changing Worlds

Omigosh, guys! Guys! Changing Worlds is out! A new edition with a new cover and a new lease on life, and I'm so freaking excited about it!

Their love will either inspire change in the world or tear it apart.

Former starship captain Jason Kim and his lover, Ferran, are starting a life together on Ferran’s native planet. The Perel matriarchs reluctantly allowed their marriage in the hopes of securing better diplomatic relations with humanity, even though the decision ignites anger from traditionalists. Ferran’s family accepts Jason and the love the two men have found, but other influential families are less accommodating and much less willing to welcome an outsider to their isolated, subterranean world. Some of their enemies are willing to go as far as eliminating Jason permanently. Tensions are quickly building toward a breaking point that might push Perelan into a bloody civil war.

If Jason and Ferran have any hope of surviving the coming conflict, they’ll have to rely on their devotion to each other more than ever before. But that won’t be easy when a figure from Jason’s past reappears to make them question everything.

If you've read it before, thank you, I love you. If you haven't read it before or want to grab it again, let me give you some links!

Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/changing-worlds

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Changing-Worlds-Cari-Z

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/changing-worlds

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-changingworlds

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Love Letters Snippet

Hi guys!

So, a while ago (last week, or so) I ran a preorder contest, and one of the winners requested that I give her a little follow up to Love Letters. I finally complied, and she said I could share it, so! Story snippet for you!


 A heavy, hardback copy of Codes, Ciphers and Secrets: The Spycraft of the American Revolution lay on the bedside table, almost but not quite knocked off of it during its author’s rather energetic celebration of the news that the book had hit number one on the New York Times bestseller’s list. The bed wasn’t shaking any more, and the lights were out, but the silence was still punctuated with soft conversation and the murmur of bodies shifting under blankets, moving against each other with gentle acceptance that they belonged close enough to touch.

“Seriously, congratulations,” Ryan said again, pressing his lips to the side of Ben’s neck. Ben tilted his chin up a bit, and his lover slotted his head into the proffered space with ease.

Ben wanted to shrug, but he couldn’t with Ryan lying on top of him. “I think it was more a matter of timing than anything else.” The History Channel had just run a miniseries on the same topic, and they’d invited Ben to be interviewed for it. He was, Ryan and Heather had assured him, ridiculously hot during his five minutes of fame. Mostly Ben had felt awkward, but—hey, whatever worked.

“That helped, sure, but the book is great. You make the subject fun.”

“Spies are always fun.”

“Not unless they look like Tom Cruise.” Ryan laughed suddenly. “You know Linda is trying to pitch your book as a potential movie, right? What if he got the lead role?”

“Linda is crazy.” Ben loved her, but she was crazy. “There’s no single main character in the book, if you don’t count George Washington. It’s a history, not a thriller—there’s no way to cast anyone because there’s no leading role for any one person to play.”

“I know, I know, but…”

Ryan’s voice was weirdly tentative, which Ben hated to hear. “But what?”

“But maybe…you should consider turning it into a novel. Or a part of it, at least. What about the Culper Ring? Or Lydia Darragh?”

“Lydia Darragh’s story isn’t well substantiated,” Ben said automatically, but his mind was already turning the idea over. The truth was, it was a thought Ben had had before, to take some of his extensive research and turn it into something more approachable, more focused on human relationships. He’d actually written a few chapters of a story about Avery Toth and Charles Lancaster, but the idea of writing a romance that was destined to end in tragedy had made him put it aside. It was just too sad. He might be able to handle things like that when they were from real life, but more and more Ben found that if he was reading for pleasure, he wanted a happy ending.

“Not her, then, but someone like her. Or you could make up a new character altogether, a spy and patriot working for Washington against the British and having all sorts of daring adventures and narrow escapes.” Ryan picked up speed as he got into the idea. “There are so many ways you could go with this, and think of the supporting cast! And the tricks and methods you’d get to put in there, and it could all be so historically accurate that even the loudest critics couldn’t deny it. It would be so much fun.”

“It probably would be.”

“You should think about it. Just…something to consider.”

“Or,” Ben offered, “maybe we should think about it together and then collaborate on the writing.” Ryan was on the sixteenth volume of Janie and the Phantom now, and while he still enjoyed the story, Ben knew that the sameness of Ryan’s work was starting to get to him. “You have more experience as a storyteller, after all.”

Ryan sat up and looked at Ben, his dark blue eyes wide. “Are you serious? You’d actually want to work together with me on something?”

“Of course.” In fact, the more he thought about it… “We can talk it out when we’re in Hawaii.”

“We’re going to Hawaii?”

“Linda promised you, remember? If this book made the list, she’d send us on vacation there. Now you get to collect, and we get to go somewhere warm in the middle of winter.” And maybe Ben could finally ask the question he’d been meaning to ask for the past year, too. He thought of the little box in the back of his desk drawer and was grateful it was dark, because he knew he was blushing.

“Wow.” Ryan’s grin was brilliant. “Great news, a new project, and the promise of a vacation, all in one day? This is gonna be hard to top for, like, the rest of my life.” He leaned down and kissed Ben, and his mind went from rings in boxes to the man in his arms with barely a skip.

The book fell to the floor a few minutes later. Neither man noticed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Reformation: Chapter Ten

 Notes: Ah, rush rush rush! But here is a new, and hopefully different, perspective for Reformation for you today. It's about time we got back to the boys, isn't it? I mean, the other boys.

Title: Reformation: Chapter Ten


Chapter Ten

Darrel felt like the klaxon that had sounded over the Academy campus half an hour ago was still ringing in his ears. Emergency declaration. Emergency declaration. Proceed to your towers for orders. Proceed to your towers for orders. It had been broadcast over their implants too, and the flashing red and yellow indicator in the corner of his vision would stay there until Darrel reported to his superior officer for duty. The thing was, he didn’t even know who his superior officer was supposed to be yet.

“This is a non-standard emergency mobilization,” Sergeant Bowers had explained to him and the rest of the cadets in Apollo Tower. “There are confirmed reports of a piracy attack on a planet in the Fringe, and the admiralty has decided to take this opportunity to improve the wartime capabilities of our student body.”

“But most of us haven’t even done a mock deployment before, sir,” Darrel had spoken up before he could talk himself out of it. He didn’t have to be Grennson to feel the apprehension rolling off his fellow cadets. This wasn’t just non-standard, it was unprecedented. Grennson couldn’t stop shifting on his feet, quills vibrating with little shudders that only Darrel was really close enough to see. “Is there something wrong with the fleet that’s already deployed out there?”

“Our navy has downsized dramatically in recent years, cadet, but regardless, this is an executive order. Kit up, and follow the directive sent through Hermes to get your personal mission plan.”

Well, that was a fucking non-answer if Darrel had ever heard one. He’d wanted to press the point, but Grennson’s discomfort and the sergeant’s obvious dismissal decided against it for him. Instead he took Grennson’s hand and radiated as much calm and comfort as he could when he wasn’t really feeling it himself, and led his friend back to their quad. Their currently empty quad.

“Where are Cody and Ten?” he muttered, looking around. He waited for his personal directive to start scrolling across his mental screen, but nothing came, just the indicator to wait, wait, wait.

“They’re not here.”

“I know they’re not, it’s annoying.” And a little disturbing. Darrel would never admit it out loud, but he always felt a little better when the four of them were together. More like they could handle anything that was thrown their way, instead of worrying about unsolvable science or a personal interaction that he wasn’t prepared to deal with.

“No, I mean they’re not here at all.”

Darrel turned and faced Grennson. “What, on campus?”

“No,” Grennson said breathlessly, like he couldn’t quite believe it. “On the planet.”

“What?” How could that be? Had they deployed early? Why hadn’t they send either of them a message to let them know? “Are you sure?”

“Yes.” Grennson’s eyes were huge, and bright with an emotion Darrel didn’t want to see in his best friend. It looked suspiciously like fear. “I can’t feel them anymore. I could, for a while, but now they’re moving away and I can’t feel them!”

“Okay, c’mere.” He led Grennson over to the couch and pushed him to sit back on it, but Grennson wouldn’t let go of his hand.

“Stay with me,” he insisted, and Darrel couldn’t say no.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he promised, all while sending out a ping for Cody and Ten. His implant echoed dully: no response evident. He checked his messages again, but there was still nothing. What the hell were the two of them doing, leaving the planet but not leaving a note?

An incoming call light flashed on the holo screen in the center of the living room. Darrel activated it instantly. “Hello?”

“Darrel?” The face that materialized in the vid was…Garrett Helms? Darrel felt himself relax a little. “Are you okay?”

“Grennson and I are fine. Do you know about the deployment?”

“I’ve heard about it, but I don’t have all the details yet. Is Cody there?”

Darrel’s tension ramped up so tight that he heard Grennson squeak in reaction next to him. “No,” he said slowly. “He and Ten are…I thought maybe they were with you? I haven’t seen either of them all morning.”

“No.” Garrett’s voice had lost all inflection. “They’re not with me. Do you have any idea where they could be?”

“Off planet,” Grennson whispered. Garrett’s eyes focused on him like a laser. “I felt them leave perhaps a quarter of an hour ago. I don’t know who they’re with, if not with you.”

“Ah.” That was it, just ah. “Give me a moment.” His face vanished from the screen, and Darrel and Grennson exchanged a blank look.

“What the hell?”

“If Garrett doesn’t know where they are, then they’ve—they’ve probably run away.”

“Why would they run away?” Darrel demanded. “Neither of them is afraid of something like a deployment. At the worst it would be an inconvenience for Ten, but Cody wouldn’t just…abandon his responsibilities like this.” He wouldn’t abandon us.

“I don’t think it’s about avoiding conflict,” Grennson said slowly, like he was still working it out in his head. “I think it might be about—approaching it from a different direction. Do you know where the pirates are attacking?”

“They haven’t announced it yet.” Darrel felt his heart stutter a little in his chest. “Do you think…”

“I think we’re going to Pandora.”

“Then why wouldn’t they want to go?” Darrel exploded. “You wouldn’t be able to keep Cody away from Pandora if it’s under attack, not with his dad there right now. It doesn’t make any sense!”

“I know.” Grennson’s voice was quiet. “Which makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What would pull them away from the opportunity to travel to Pandora and be part of its protection, without giving them black marks on their Academy records? What would make them leave without telling us? Why would they have to be so secret? Why wouldn’t they even contact Garrett?” He gestured toward the frozen holoscreen. “Cody has never been careless of his fathers’ feelings. Garrett is greatly distraught.”

“How can you even tell that?”

“It’s very clear to an empath.”

The holoscreen flared to life again before Darrel could reply. “Stay in your quad for the time being,” Garrett said without ceremony. “You’re going to be personally escorted to your individual deployments.”

“How do you know that?” Garrett wasn’t a part of the Academy’s administration, he shouldn’t be able to know these things. He just shook his head.

“Will we be together?” Grennson asked.

That got the first fresh hint of emotion from Garrett since they told him Cody and Ten weren’t around. He smiled, and now Darrel could see what Grennson must have been sensing all along: it was the most fragile, careful smile he had ever seen. “Yes, you’ll be together. I promise.”

Grennson exhaled heavily. “Thank you, Garrett.”

“It’s the least I can do. Take care of each other, all right?”

“What about Cody and Ten?” Darrel pressed.

Garrett shook his head. “Try not to worry about them. They’re all right.” For now, the subtext screamed. Garrett ended the connection before Darrel could ask any more questions.

He looked at Grennson, who seemed calmer now. “I still don’t understand.”

“It’s okay.” Grennson reached out and patted his head, the same way Darrel would stroke Grennson’s quills when he needed to be soothed. “I don’t think anyone does.”

Five minutes later, a knock sounded at their door. Darrel dashed over to answer it, Grennson at his heels. He opened the door—

And immediately brought his hand up into a salute. “General, sir!” Holy shit, what was General Caractacus doing outside their quad? What was he doing in active uniform at all? Darrel didn’t know him well, but the man was Cody’s grandfather, and a war hero. He’d retired years ago, though.

“Gentlemen.” The general looked between Darrel and Grennson, who had crept up beside him. “At ease. You two are under my personal command until further notice.” Sure enough, Darrel’s notification icon had stopped blinking. “I was here anyway, and I thought I would escort you to my ship.”

“We…um…we should be escorting you, not the other way around,” Darrel insisted. “You’re the general.”

“Call it whatever you like, but we’re on a schedule. Are your kits ready to go?”

“Yes,” Grennson said. They’d made sure they had their emergency kits prepped after getting off the holo with Garrett.

“Grab them and fall in. I’ll explain more once we’re on board the Masterful.”

Grennson looked around curiously. “Where is the rest of your entourage, sir?”

“They’d better be busting their asses getting our ship ready,” the general replied with a hint of humor. Darrel hoisted up their duffel bags and returned to the door. The air still smelled a little acrid with the scent of Ten’s last failed experiment. Darrel had never thought he’d miss something like that, but the prospect of leaving it behind had him nervous all of a sudden. What were they walking into? What had happened to their friends?

Grennson placed a steadying hand on Darrel’s elbow. “We’re ready, sir.”

And they were still together. Darrel’s unease steadied a bit. They were together, and wherever they were, so were Cody and Ten. He was grateful for that.

He just hoped things stayed this way.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Friendly Fire is out!

My latest release from Riptide, Friendly Fire, is available for download now! *cheers until hoarse*

This is an M/M contemporary suspense with a romance woven through it. It's got themes of redemption, family, and badassery. I'm so f*cking happy it's out in the world now. I hope you love it!

Elliot McKenzie is the king of reinvention. Five years after losing his job and his lover and almost going to prison, his self-help program, Charmed Life, is more successful than he’d ever dreamed. He thinks he’s put his sordid past firmly behind him, until he starts receiving cryptic threats . . . and realizes it might not be as over as he’d hoped. 
Security expert Lennox West has been lost since a deadly skirmish in Afghanistan led to his forced retirement from the Army. His PTSD makes helping his ex raise their daughter a challenge. When his ex’s sister asks him to set her boss up with a security system, Lennox isn’t expecting anyone like Elliot McKenzie—a man who captures his attention and makes him feel relaxed for the first time since leaving the service.
But Elliot is dangerously stubborn. Even as the threats against him escalate, he refuses to involve the police, and Lennox fears that stubbornness could kill him. A battle of wills ensues that brings them closer to each other than either man expected. But if the threats turn real, they might not live long enough to get their future together. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Reformation: Chapter Nine

Notes: Ten's perspective this time--I got it done, yay! 

Title: Reformation: Chapter Nine


Chapter Nine

Tiennan St. Clair had never been much of a “people” person. It was a stupid phrase, in hir opinion. Everybody had to deal with other people, it didn’t matter whether you liked to or not. People were always around, you were a person yourself—the whole thing was redundant.

When ze was young, being a “scientific” person had held far more allure. Who cared if anyone liked the fact that you could blow the room off a greenhouse without damaging a single plant? The point was, the experiment was a success! Scientific progress could be measured and accounted for, added and calculated and, yes, while there were messy parts of it (Cody would say it was all messy, but Cody didn’t have the same kind of vision Ten did) overall, it’s adherence to logic and process was incredibly gratifying. People didn’t have the same sorts of processes. Talk about messy.

Being one of those chatty social butterflies did have it’s perks, though. People listened to you better if they liked you, even if what you had to say was complete shit. Morons were more inclined to give you grants and lab space if they thought you weren’t “disruptive.” Symone, Ten’s legal guardian, had talked to hir over and over again about the necessity of finding a way to get along with people, at least while ze was still at the Academy.

“Their rules might not make sense, but you have to follow them if you want to get far enough ahead to where it won’t matter.”

“But I’m never going to join the military,” Ten had insisted. “The Academy just has the best program for undergraduate sciences! Why should I go along with their stupid—”

“Because I said so.” That was how a lot of conversations with Symone ended. It was way too easy to exasperate her.

Ten hadn’t found anyone ze’d really bothered listening to on the subject of obedience until it came to Garrett. Ze had instantly been drawn to Cody, and his father Jonah was still the source of a slightly-ridiculous crush, but Garret…Ten felt like ze could really talk to Garrett. Not because they were both scientists, although Garrett was a pretty good one, but because Garrett had taken an early disinclination toward humanity—which Ten could totally understand, all things considered—and turned it into an ability to manipulate people at the highest levels of government. He’d explained it like a science, and Ten had found that fascinating.

“You have to be able to provide something other people want,” Garrett had said one night when they were all together, even Grennson and Darrel, having dinner in some posh restaurant downtown. Jonah had distracted everyone else with something, so it had just been Ten and Garrett at the table. “Whether it’s a product or a perspective. People are mostly selfish creatures, and they’re always on the lookout for self-improvement. If you can offer them something that appeals to them, they’ll work to accommodate you. Of course, they might also try to steal from you or murder you, but,” he’d shrugged his elegant shoulders, “that’s pretty much par for the course. Utility is the key to others keeping you around. And eventually, you get to the point where you don’t need their approval anymore, because your position is too strong to oppose.”

“That makes so much sense,” Ten had marveled.

Garrett had laughed. “Jonah doesn’t like it when I put things in such ‘mercenary’ terms, but that’s because he’s a nice person.”

“Just like Cody.”

“Yes. Like Cody.” Garrett had looked out at his family, his eyes glittering, mouth twisted in a little half smile. “I’m not. And it’s better that way. Nice people need support from those of us who are willing to be hardasses to get what we want.” He’d smiled at Ten. “I’m glad Cody has you.”

“Me too.”

And now more than ever, Ten was glad ze’d taken precautions to ensure that Cody couldn’t do anything dumb, like run off without hir. Cody might have Jack on his side, for whatever that was worth, but Ten knew how to keep people from taking advantage of him.

And that was going to start right now.

“The bike has to come,” Ten said briskly, interrupting Jack’s refusal as they stood outside his beat-up shuttle. Jack had been glad to see Cody—ecstatic, even. Ten didn’t know the whole story, but from what he’d been able to piece together, Jack had given up all his rights to his natural son, only to decide he wanted to have a place in his life later on. Cody, being the sweet-natured person he was, was all for that. Jonah was less enthusiastic, and Garrett would probably happily have Jack murdered on the sly if he thought he could get away with it. Ten had decided to go with Garrett’s viewpoint: reluctant engagement, but absolutely no trust.

Jack didn’t trust hir either, so it all worked out.

“There ain’t room for it.”

“In what, the shuttle or your ship?”

“Either. There’s barely room for you, so if you wanna come along, I suggest you—”

“We’re not stupid, you know.”

Jack blinked. “What?”

“We’re not stupid. You’re trying to manipulate Cody into doing things your way because you feel like you’re doing us a favor, but we’re not idiots. This model of shuttle can lift off with up to ten-point-two tons of cargo, and from the looks of your suspension you’re carrying no more than five. The bike weighs less than one eighth of one ton, and all three of us put together aren’t going to change things much. It’s also carrying all of our supplies, which you’re going to be partaking in, so file it under necessary baggage and let’s go already.”

Jack looked at Cody, open-mouthed. Cody shrugged. “Ten’s right. We’re not trying to inconvenience you, but we need it. Unless you want the Lady to kick us off as soon as you bring us up.”

“The Lady” was Cody’s grandmother, the matriarch of the Helms clan. Cody couldn’t remember much about her, but seeing as she hadn’t tried to contact her son or grandson since they’d left the clan, obviously there was no love lost there.

Jack rubbed a hand over his face. “Cody, she ain’t gonna be happy no matter what you bring up. The more you’ve got, the harder it’s gonna be to justify finding room for you.”

“Your ship is bigger than most space stations,” Ten said. “I daresay you’ve got room for two not-so-large people and one bike.” Honestly, was the logic of it so hard to follow?

“Jack.” Cody reached out and put his hand on the man’s shoulder. “We’re not going to make trouble for you, we just want to get to Pandora.”

“Right.” Jack looked at Cody like a person might look at his last meal before an execution—wanting him, but knowing that trouble was going to follow after. It was…kind of disturbing, in Ten’s opinion. Ze slid a little closer, close enough to touch if ze needed to. “All right, then. We have to get outta here before they shut down the ports.” He waved both of them toward the shuttle. “I’ll get her prepped, load your bike into the back.”

“Got it.” They separated, and as soon as Jack was inside the shuttle, Ten sighed.

“How disturbing do you find him? Because you must find him disturbing.”

“He just doesn’t quite know how to deal with me,” Cody said as he rolled the bike around to the open hatch.

“That much is clear. Just…stay close to me up there, okay?”

Cody grinned, but it looked a little forced. “You think I want to be alone with anyone else up there? None of them have any reason to like me, I know that.”

“And hitching a ride with these people is really the best thing you can do right now? I’m not judging,” Ten added as Cody turned a glare on him. “I just want to know.”

“It’s better than I could do in some safe house on the edge of the universe,” Cody said flatly. “Garrett wants me out of the way, and I wouldn’t be useful to anyone like that.”

Except Garrett, Ten thought, but ze didn’t voice it. “You ready to shut down your implant?” Ten asked. It wasn’t like they’d be able to use them on a Drifter ship, without the embedded capabilities of most of modern society.

“Yeah. My messages are kind of piling up.”

Probably. Ten already had several each from Grennson and Darrel. Cody had to have more. Ze pulled hir one of hir latest inventions, a tiny remote that could selectively disable nonessential parts of implants. “Come here.” Ze stroked the curly hair at the back of Cody’s hair up out of the way—not essential, but ze took ay chance ze had to run hir hands through Cody’s hair—and turned ninety-nine percent of it off.

Except for the part that would let them communicate at a distance. It wasn’t easy to do, but Ten was pretty sure ze was going to want the option of using it, just in case.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Quick Note on Story Timing

Hi darlins,

Sooo, I was in a car accident Friday. Not a bad one, but my airbags went off, and I'm feeling the fun aftereffects of whiplash. This has pushed back my writing schedule some, but I'm hoping to still get a chapter of Reformation out Tuesday. If I owe you a flash fic, it'll be a little late, but not by much!

Anyway, I'm feeling very lucky and pretty healthy overall. I'm also borrowing a car now that's both bigger and newer than anything I've ever driven before, so I'm inclined to be incredibly careful. All good things.

Happy Sunday :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Preorder Contest!--we have winners!

Update: I got my last two preorder proofs in, so yaaay! Thanks for playing, thanks for ordering, and look for more flash fics in the near future.


Hi darlins!

So I'm finally posting about a non-story topic! Well, no, that's a lie. It's a story topic, just not Reformation. Possibly sci fi, though. What the hell, am I on something? Be clear!

Okay. I have two new releases coming out this month. One is Friendly Fire, my m/m contemporary with Ripide, which--contemporary, I know, rare as hen's teeth!

The other is the re-release of my most epic sci fi novel to date (because Reformation isn't finished yet, ha), Changing Worlds, put out by Dreamspinner. It has a new cover and everything!

I'm super excited about both of these stories, and I wanted to have a contest for them. Being me, this is a contest that means I get to do extra work, which is great! Here's the deal: if you're one of the first two people to send me proof of preorder for either of these titles (I did this before with just Changing Worlds and didn't max out) then I will write you a custom flash fic, either concerning any character from any previous story of mine, or going off of your prompt entirely. Prompts are dangerous things with me, people, you never know what I'll do. 

So email me, DM me on Twitter, hit me up on FB, message me here: I don't care. Just let me appreciate you for buying my work! Your support means a lot to me.

As for the person who did respond earlier, she wanted an epilogue of sorts for Reclamation, a near-future dystopian story I did for the MM Romance Goodreads group a few years ago. And I did. And it's posted below. Enjoy!


Reclamation (original link here: http://www.mmromancegroup.com/reclamation-by-cari-z/)
(One Year Later)

“I could make you tres leches cake.”

“Rosa—” Matt tried, but she rolled right over his protest.

“Flan! I could make a flan, it would take me no time at all!”

“The tortillas are fine, Rosa.”

She put her hands on her hips. “Tortillas are not for special occasions! This is special, isn’t it?”

“It is special.” It was the anniversary of their first real date, their post “Matt-as-Cali-the-stripper-and-Grayson-in-a-mental-health-clinic” date. Technically, they’d started things off at Arroyo’s, and Matt had picked up two orders of pollo poblano special to commemorate the fact. The tortillas, though, were Rosa’s. Matt had followed Grayson home that day to get a book from him, stayed to snack on Rosa’s tortillas, and ended up spending the night. Admittedly, he’d slept on the couch, but that couch had been better than a home for him for a while.

It had been a very weird date, in retrospect, but it had also been the start of a real, honest relationship between Matt and Grayson. And now it had been a year, and Matt was living here again with the man he loved, and he wanted to make sure Grayson knew exactly how loved he was. The combination of working as a paramedic and taking nursing classes was running Grayson into the ground, but as he was very happy to point out, “It beats Reclamation by a long shot.”

“You have a low bar for satisfaction,” Matt had informed him when he first said it.

“I must have, if I’m dating you,” Grayson teased.

“Trust me, I know.”

Grayson’s sly expression had melted away into concern. “Matt, I was just kidding. You get that, right? I love you.”

Yeah, Matt got it. Matt also got that there was always, at least in his mind, going to be a subtle disparity between himself and Grayson. It had nothing to do with how well Grayson loved him, and everything to do with his own sense of self-worth, which was less shitty these days but still not pristine.

 It had been a year, and Matt still wasn’t quite convinced that he was worth the trouble. A year’s worth of dates, of romantic gestures, of Grayson making a point of ensuring he was off work and didn’t have classes for a couple hours in the evenings, so they could at least have dinner together once Matt was done with his shift. A year of Grayson wanting him around not just for what he could do for him, but because he loved him and wanted to spend time with him. Even if all they did was read James Bond novels aloud to each other while one of them cooked, or watched ancient Disney films together, or did the environmentally responsible thing by sharing showers. Long showers, but still! Responsible!

Tonight was Matt’s turn for a romantic gesture, a little sign that he hadn’t forgotten how far they’d come from their genuinely ludicrous beginnings. Hence, the recreation of their first date. And their first date hadn’t included Rosa’s homemade desserts, so…


“Rosa, we’re fine, I promise!” Matt glanced at the computer in his forearm. “Look, he’ll be home any second.”

“Fine!” She threw up her hands. “Fine, I’m going! But don’t blame me when he wonders why there isn’t something dulce waiting for him.”

Matt couldn’t help it. “I’ll just tell him I’m sweet enough to be his dessert,” he said with a smirk.

Rosa shook her head despairingly. “We have thin walls here, you know. Tima can hear you sometimes. You make my daughter blush terribly.”

“I’ll buy her some earplugs,” Matt promised as he ushered Rosa out the door. He raced to the bedroom and pulled out the thin, tattered jeans that he hadn’t worn since his nights at Johnny Rock’s strip club. He tugged them on, left his shirt on the floor and topped it all off with a pair of cheap plastic sunglasses. There. Costume complete. Mouth guaranteed to drop.

Hey, his time as Matt the stripper hadn’t been all bad memories for them.

Matt was debating between pushing the glasses up or leaving them down when he heard Grayson open the door. “Matt? You here—hey, whoa. What’s this?”

“What’s it look like?” he called back.

“It looks like Arroyo’s finest. And Rosa’s tortillas, and a—a book?”

Matt came to the hall door just in time to watch Grayson turn the book over in his hands. “A biography of James Bond. You found a biography of a fictional person?”

“He’s a really popular fictional person,” Matt said. “And you have all the novels already, so…” 
Grayson glanced over at him, then did a double take. “Hi.”

“Hi. Wow. Okay, what am I missing, Mr. Detective?”

“Can’t I just want to do something nice for you?” Matt asked, pushing off the wall and sauntering over to Grayson. It had been a while since he’d put that roll in his hips, and the effect it had on his boyfriend’s attention span was lovely. Grayson put the book back down, narrowly missing his dinner plate, and hooked a finger in the top of the jeans, tugging Matt in close.

“You do nice things for me all the time,” he said, sliding his hands down Matt’s bare back and cupping his ass possessively. Matt wrapped his arms around Grayson’s neck and resisted the urge to kiss him. If they started that, dinner would be congealed by the time they got back to it. Grayson obviously wasn’t taking that hint though, pressing a kiss to the soft spot beneath Matt’s ear and trailing his lips down his throat. “Why go all out tonight, though?”

“It’s—hnng.” Damn it, the food was going to get cold. “It’s becau—fuck, do that again.” Screw that, dinner was going to end up on the floor in another minute or two, because Matt was going to shove Grayson down on the table and ride him like—

Rap rap rap.

Grayson groaned and lifted his head from Matt’s collarbone. “That’s Rosa’s knock.”

“Don’t answer.”

Rap rap rap.

“She’s not going to give up.”

Matt sighed. “I know.”

They drew apart reluctantly, and Grayson took a few deep breaths before heading over to the door and opening it. “Hey, Rosa—”

“Here.” She thrust a delicious-smelling plate at him. “Churros. The best I could do on short notice. Enjoy your anniversary, and next time,” she glared around him at Matt, “you let me make you something better!”

Grayson looked bewildered. “You didn’t have to make us anything at all.”

“Food is love,” she said simply. “Love is for family. And Matt is a darling man, but he can’t cook to save his soul.” She patted Grayson on the cheek, then turned and walked back to her apartment. Grayson shut the door slowly.


“First date,” Matt said sheepishly. “After the whole…thing.”

“Oh. Oh.” Grayson smiled and looked at the table. “I get it now. I can’t believe you remembered all this.”

“Eh, I try.” I remember everything we do together. “I guess we should eat, then?” The churros were fresh, after all.

“Yeah. We can finish our celebration later.”

Reformation: Chapter Eight

Notes: Sooo, my extensive experiment with multiple 3rd person POV continues! This story is going o be a who's who of the people who've showed up in my stories before. I had no idea I'd need this chapter until I suddenly needed it. So! Have some Jezria Dowd! And stay tuned today, I've got a contest announcement and a flash fic for you later.

Title: Reformation: Chapter Eight


Chapter Eight

The attack on Pandora was not, unfortunately, the first time Jezria Dowd had come under fire.

No, that honor belonged to her youth on Olympus, when her school transport had been attacked by anarchists on a field trip. No one had died, and honestly Jezria had scarcely believed they were under fire until she’d exited the transport shuttle and seen the pockmarks where the projectiles had hit.

The second time had been far more serious; on her second appointment as a diplomatic aide, she’d been part of the Federation’s first—and last—convoy to Pexc’l’R. The planet was inhabited by a sentient, independent and incredibly unfriendly species. Rather than leave them alone, the president at the time had prepared a series of ultimatums in the form of increasingly angry diplomatic meetings, finally followed by an invasion force. The beings of Pexc’l’R had responded by luring them into a meeting held in their capitol city under the pretext of treating with them, and then blowing up the entire city. Jezria was one of eighty-seven people to survive out of an original convoy of nearly five hundred. It had been an educational experience, to say the least.

The Pexc’l’R were wiped out twenty-three years ago, by President Alexander, under the pretense of interstellar security. No one had fought him on it too hard. At least, no one who wanted their career to survive.

Jezria was no longer an interstellar politician. She had hung up her senatorial status long ago, and hadn’t regretted that transition for the past decade. She currently served as Pandora City’s de-facto mayor, but before now it had been a largely ceremonial position, with little required other than organizing shipments of goods, transports of people and welcoming the new arrivals. It wasn’t until death began to rain down on The Box that Jezria had realized she was one of the few people in the entire colony with any form of combat experience. Now here she was, playing at being a commander when all they could do without spaceside support was endure. For how long, she didn’t know. “Shield status.”

“Seventy-four percent, Ma’am.”

“It’s draining faster,” her aide, Steven Miyakawa, noted. “There’s been an increase in the rate of energy loss of two-point-seven percent over the past four hours.”

“And how are we addressing that?”

“Doctor Sims is increasing power to the fusion reactor. It’ll dim the lights, but she says it should reinforce the electromagnetic field.” For now, went the unstated ending to that sentence, clear as a bell nonetheless.

“We can live without lights,” Jezria said calmly. “What’s the status on the evacuations?”

“Fifteen percent of the population is currently evacuated, Ma’am.”

“Unacceptable.” Jezria turned her gimlet eyes on the unfortunate bearer of bad news. “We should be up to at least thirty percent by now.”

The young woman bit her lip. “Two of the four exits through the Wall have suffered severe damage, Ma’am. We’re working to clear them, but in the meantime that leaves only two exits deemed safe enough to move people through.”

“What about the safe houses themselves? Are they intact? What’s their status?”

“Secure and so far undiscovered, Ma’am.” The safe houses were actually caverns carved out of the cliffs that surrounded The Box and extending out toward the ocean. They were equipped with rudimentary generators and amenities, and were large enough to hold up to ninety percent of the current population of Pandora for a short period of time. Once they’d been big enough for everyone, with room to spare, but their growth had outpaced their security measures. Jezria shook her head. Foolish. Foolish, but it was too late to do anything about it now. Now they had to focus on surviving long enough for the cavalry to get here.


“Push the evacuees, Miriam, we need them to move faster.”

“Doctor Reynard is overseeing the transport of the mobile hospital unit, so once that’s done she’ll be—”

“Belay that. Move the people first, the machines later.” The room quieted as people glanced at Jezria, shock and anger on their faces.

Steven was the one to bring it up, of course. “Forty-two percent of the population requires at least bi-weekly medical treatments from the hospital. We need to move the machines to help keep people alive.”

“It won’t do us any good to be surrounded by machines if we haven’t saved the people who are meant to be using them. And I can’t guarantee that a rescue effort will be mounted in time to spare us the effort.”

“Of—of course it will be!” Glory be, she’d actually struck her imperturbable aide dumb. “The Federation must have put together a fleet response to this by now. At top speeds, they should be here in thirteen standard days. It’s fast, but surely they won’t waste time arguing about procedure when we’re under attack.”

Jezria shook her head. “This is no ordinary attack. Plasma cannons? A literal rain of fire? No. This is meant to be a punishment, to make an example for others in the Fringe to fear. Our colony is a thorn in the sides of many of those in power. I can easily imagine them taking advantage of our current state of affairs.”

“But Garrett Helms is on Olympus!” Miriam protested. “He’s one of us, his son is a natural. Surely he’ll make them send ships to help.”

“Garrett is only one man, and one man with many weaknesses. I have no doubt that he’s doing as much as he can to help us, but.” Jezria turned compassionate eyes on the hopeful young woman. “I don’t think we can count on any assistance reaching us in time to prevent Pandora City from falling. Medical supplies are certainly a necessity, but they come second to moving inhabitants out of the direct line of fire and into a place where their life signs will be undetectable to the enemy. Understood?”

Miriam nodded, subdued. “Yes, Ma’am.”

“Good. Get the generators working, and have one of the engineers do a power assessment. If it looks like we’ve got a surplus to work with, then they can begin moving the smallest and most portable emergency medical supplies in there. I want all signals on low for now, though. Having a secret underground base does us no good if we don’t keep it secret. Now.” She turned to another tech. “What are the numbers on killed or missing colonists?”

“Twenty-eight on the Eye assumed KIA,” the young person—Zane? Zare? Jezria was too tired to remember—said grimly. “Three shuttles in orbit there, all non-responsive. Crews of nine total, also assumed KIA. One shuttle in transit down, non-responsive, crew of four missing but presumed dead. One shuttle outside The Box doing a training run, two crew, verified ion impact. I think we’re getting a ping from that one, but it’s just the emergency transponder. There’s no proof that anyone on the shuttle is alive.”

“A training run?”

“Pilot training. It’s—oh.”

Steven took a look at the data, then sighed heavily. “It was Jonah Helms. He logged a session with Lacey Chambers in, an easy run. They never even went out of visual range of land.”

“But there’s a ping?” Jezria pushed. “You’re sure?”

“We can’t prove he was shot down, but the shuttle has definitely run into trouble out there. There’s a ping, though.”

“Hmm. Keep an eye on that.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

Jezria folded her hands and tried to look inscrutable, but her mind was racing. This…Jonah…it changed things. Garrett Helms, née Caractacus, was certifiably incapable of leaving things alone where his husband was concerned. If there were a way for him to be alerted to Jonah’s status, then he was. It was now possible—just slightly more possible, but Jezria would take any edge she could get—that Garrett had had a fire lit under him with the clear and present peril to his husband. How that would change things, Jezria couldn’t say, but the deep grief it felt like she’d been carrying inside of her ever since the attack began seemed to ease a little bit. Garrett was a wild card.

Wild cards could change everything.