Story Excerpt
Pax's Blues

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Pax stared out of the porthole as the Lady Blue began its descent. His fingers curled around the rim of the window, watching Paktil come into view. Pax hated this part of living on a ship. He’d give anything to stay onboard, but he knew that being part of the crew, his duties didn’t always allow him this.

Hell, Pax would scrub the ship from tip to retractable ramp if he could stay onboard. He really didn’t trust people, but Pax was more comfortable with the men on this ship. He, at least knew them—somewhat.

“We’ll be landing in a few minutes. Aren’t you excited?” Gigi yapped eagerly around Pax. “Paktil has way more than End of the Line. I have a project I want to start and you’re just the man to help me.” Gigi sang the last part.

Pax shook his head. He wasn’t thrilled about this, more like dreading it. Gigi seemed excited, and Pax wanted to be, he just couldn’t find it in him.  The bouncing human grabbed Pax’s hand and dragged him down to the retractable ramp.

When the door lowered, Pax’s nerves wound up tight. He’d already been left behind once and didn’t want a repeat performance. Not that the crew had done it on purpose, but still. It didn't feel good to be left behind, even by accident. In fact, it downright sucked. And they were on the planet he’d accidently gotten left behind on? Was he nuts?

“Do we have to be out here long? We’re gonna get the stuff we need and come right back, right?” Pax asked as his eyes darted around at all the people walking around the largest market place Pax had every laid eyes on.

"Oh sure," Gigi giggled. "We just have to get what's on my list and we can come right back."

Pax's eyes rounded as Gigi unrolled a piece of paper the length of his arm. They might as well rent rooms. That list was going to take forever to fill. "What's this project?" Pax asked. Maybe they could skip the market.

"Hydroponics lab," Gigi said proudly. Then he frowned, his lower lip curling up in disgust. "I hate that damn replicator."

"Hydroponics lab?" Pax blinked. "Do you even know anything about growing plants?"

Gigi snorted. "No."

Pax shook his head. He would never understand Gigi. The man was as nice as he could but he had a screw lose somewhere. Maybe Livewire could tighten it up… or replace it.

“It’s a small list. We can handle it.” Gigi pointed to items on his large list. “But we will need to get the starter kit as well.”

Pax groaned, getting everything they would need to start from scratch was going to take hours. He’d had built a hydroponics before, not on the scale Gigi was talking about, but Pax knew this wasn’t going to be a quick trip.

They rented a shuttle cart, filling it as they walked through the market. Pax had never seen so many expensive things in one place at the same before.

“Can we afford all of this?” he asked worriedly. Pax had lived on the streets before joining the crew of the Lady Blue. He wasn’t used to purchasing things he needed, let alone what he wanted. This was an odd feeling for him and he worried that they would run out of credits before they were even halfway through their list.

Gigi hummed along as they gathered the soil and seeds they would need. Pax knew they also needed the special bulbs to grow the vegetables and fruit. Starting from scratch took a lot more than just grabbing the stuff from the marketplace.

“Sure, Crank and Colt are out doing a job now. We’ll replenish the credits with no problem. Besides, we still have a good amount of credits from the blast job on Beta Five.”

Pax’s belly fluttered at Colt’s name. The hawk shifter always made him nervous. Pax could read mists—aura’s if you will—around people, telling him if they were good or bad. Colt didn’t have a mist. That worried Pax.

“How’s the shopping going?” Remy, the commander of the Blue Lady asked as he neared them.

Pax liked Remy. He had an honorable blue mist. Pax knew he could trust Remy.

“Peachy keen,” Gigi said as he leaned into his mate.

Pax glanced away. He’d never had anyone want to be near him before—until Colt. And the shifter always made him nervous.

“All done, commander.”

Pax gulped when he heard Colt’s deep and gravelly voice. His skin began to tingle knowing the man was near. There was something compelling about Colt but hell if Pax knew what it was. Pax stole a glance in Colt’s direction, immediately wishing he hadn’t. The shifters’ sapphire-blue eyes locked onto Pax’s, and then he gave Pax a friendly smile.

Pax blushed and lowered his eyes, unused to anyone paying him close attention. His fingers itched to run through Colt’s gorgeous blond hair. Someone shoot me now and put me out of my libido-driven misery.

“Hey.” Colt smiled down at Pax, making panic rob him of a reply.

Pax just nodded and hoped that Colt would accept that as a reply. He felt flustered, anxious, but strangely, not in a bad way. He didn't feel unsafe. Pax knew part of that came from being surrounded by huge men. Remy and Colt wouldn't let anything happen to him—well, at least Pax knew Remy wouldn't. The jury was still out on Colt.