Author: Cait Greer
“What’s going on here?”
The entire training room springs to attention.
I spin and salute. “Just a friendly training session, sir.”
Lt. Col. Tor glares at me, which seems to be his default expression whenever I’m around. “Training session?”
“The other lieutenants and I were round-robin sparring. They each wanted to take me on, so we did. I guess the others just wanted to watch. Sir.”
“They wanted to watch you spar. Do you hear yourself, Lieutenant? Your arrogance astounds me.”
Really? My arrogance?
“I’m not sure what you mean, sir. I looked up from sparring Lt. Ravenmount, and everyone had gathered to watch. I never said they wanted to watch me.”
“Maybe we should give them something to watch, then.”
Excuse me? “Sir?”
“Lt. Tallen. Start us off. Firebrand?”
I swear, if he orders me to turn off my bionics, I’ll shove him out an airlock. “Yes sir.”
Tallen calls us to attention and bows us in. I settle into a comfortable fighting stance opposite him, and watch. The bastard is smirking. Which means he’s planning to humiliate me.
Oh, he is so going down.
Like usual, he’s almost too fast to catch his lead move. But even without my bionics cranked up past normal, I’m fast too. I slide past his kick with my knee up. He pushes my knee away and slams his elbow down at my face. I push it aside and toss a punch to his kidney. It lands, and he grunts, but he doesn’t slow down. I roll with him as he spins for a reverse kick, but he avoids my attack on his base leg, sliding out with his usual speed.
I don’t even see the fist that connects with my face.
Frag him. It comes in a flash that he’s going after my bionics. The Navy will kill him if he breaks them, but I’m pretty sure he knows that.
My foot connects with his side before his fist is fully extended.
I don’t need to see you to hit you, Tor.
He’s grinning when he steps back, like he can hear me. Fine by me. I feint low and hit high. My foot slides off his shoulder as he rolls, but I catch the next punch he throws. My block flows into a backfist. He pushes it away and strikes low to knock the wind out of me. I block and push in for a throw.
Bad move, Ryn, I think when my back, not his, hits the mat.
He goes for the pin, but I shift my weight and roll away. He doesn’t let up, though. We’re both down, and it gives him the weight advantage. He leverages me back down and I barely move in time to miss the fist he hammers down where my face was. I throw an elbow to his face while he’s forward, but he pushes it away.
But that’s fine, because I expected him to. I swing my leg up to wrap it around his torso, using it to push him away to the side. This time it’s my fist that connects with his jaw, the full weight of my body behind it.
He’s good. I have to give him that. I can tell it shocks him. But Tor doesn’t let that stop him. The hand I thought I had pinned shoots out and grabs my wrist, pulling me down far enough that he offsets my weight.
We grapple for a minute, rolling across the mats in a struggle for dominance.
Tor finally ends up on top, his face so close to mine I can feel the heat rolling off him, smell the sandalwood under his sweat.
And under my seething anger at being pinned by this self-righteous Wyvern, I’m surprised to find something else.
Frag me to the nine hells no.
Wait, he was saying something. And he’s looking at me like he’s expecting an answer. Frag, what did he say?
He cranks my wrist, and it’s all I can do not to arch my back in pain, and I refuse to let it bring me even that much closer to him. Bad enough that his whole body is covering me, and I can feel my pulse speeding up at the recognition of it.
I could crank up my bionics and throw him off. But he’d win that way, too. I can almost see his silver eyes daring me to. But he’s got me well and truly pinned, and I’m done for options.
Stars and suns, I hate him.
I tap out.
“Good choice, Firebrand,” he whispers before finally letting me up.
It takes a minute before I realize the whole training room is shouting and whistling. Tor cocks an eyebrow at me, and nine hells is that a hint of a smile on his face?
I’m distracted by the pounding slaps on my back and comments telling me what a fight that was. Whatever. I just want to get away from a certain lieutenant colonel.
Tallen catches my eye and smiles in a way that says way more than just good job. I roll my eyes and make my excuses. I need to leave. Now. He’s still next to me, and I can feel the heat coming off him, and I can’t get the dare in those damned silver eyes out of my head.
The air outside the training room hatch feels so much cooler, it’s a relief. I want to just lean on the hatchway and breathe it in.
I push into the walkway just as the hatch hisses behind me. I don’t care who it is, and I don’t want to know. I just walk as fast as I can back to my cabin.
I recognize this feeling. Panic. I just don’t know why I’m feeling it.
Get out of my head, Colonel Tor.
I make it to my bunk without careening into any of the on-duty crew traveling the halls. The lights come on as I step inside, and I thank whatever gods rule the black that I rated a private cabin as a full lieutenant. I need to be alone so I can figure out just what is going on inside my head. I just wish there was more room to pace. Three steps and I’m across my small room. Private bunk, yes. Big? No.
The hatch chimes.
Frag it. Who-
Silver eyes burning down at me, and his lips are on mine before I can get a sound out of my open mouth and gods of the black. My back hits the bulkhead and I barely notice the hiss of the hatch closing because his tongue is sliding along mine and his fingers are digging into my hips just like mine are digging into his arms.
I don’t even know what this is, and I don’t care, because nine hells, the way his teeth tug at my lip before his tongue assaults mine again has my brain shutting down. His hips press me harder to the bulkhead and frag it. Hate sex. Sure. I can do that.
I can totally do that.
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