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Take Your Best Shot
by Starlight

M/M, Sci-Fi, Erotic Romance
[23 Pages / 7400 Words]

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"Take Your Best Shot by Starlight" is part of the 2015 Dreamspinner Press Daily Dose collection, "Never Too Late".

Halden Blake was a good soldier and a good man. He never intended to be a hero, and he definitely never intended the events that landed him in intergalactic politics. Now, three presidential terms later, Halden must decide if running for office again is worth five more years of putting his own life on hold.

Isaac Knox has been President Blake's public liaison from the start, an ally and friend through difficult times. Halden has always carefully resisted thoughts of more, and Isaac has never given any hint of returning his guarded attraction. But when Halden finds himself struggling with questions about his own future, Isaac makes a surprising offer that could change everything.


"Are you all right, Hal?" Isaac's voice was quiet caution, and Halden finally turned to meet his eyes. Isaac rarely called him anything besides Mr. President, though fifteen years had more than earned him a right to the more intimate nickname.

"I've been better," Halden admitted. There was no point obfuscating. While Isaac was far too polite to press once refused, lying was usually a pointless exercise. Isaac knew him too well. "I guess I didn't expect this to be such a difficult decision. It's been fifteen years. How is it anyone still wants me around?"

"Have you met some of your fellow politicians?" Isaac retorted in a deceptively light tone. "Some of them have natural lifespans near two centuries. Fifteen years is nothing from where they're sitting."

"And the rest?" Halden countered dully.

Isaac shrugged again. "They know you're good at your job. And you're popular across the solar systems. It's good to keep a popular president in office."

Halden snorted, self-conscious at the praise. "Earth doesn't particularly care if I'm good at my job."

"No," Isaac agreed. "Earth knows damn well you're a fluke. Once you step down, it'll be decades before another human gets anywhere near the presidency. Centuries maybe. We're not exactly the prom queen of Alliance species."

"And that's a good enough reason to hold onto the office for another term?"

"Hell no." Isaac regarded him steadily. "You can't tell me you'd be doing it for them. You never wanted to be a politician in the first place."

The truth of Isaac's words landed hard, loosening something in Halden's chest. Even now he wasn't a politician. Not really. He held the position by an unlikely accident of history, and he had no intention of pursuing politics when his tenure was through. He wasn't a patriot either, only a soldier who had too much awareness of the responsibility that came of success. It was impossible to ignore the weight of Earth pressuring him toward a fourth term. It was there, a heavy constant at the back of his mind, distorting his efforts to make a balanced decision.

"That what this is?" Isaac asked in a softer voice. "You don't want it anymore?"

"I don't know what I want," Halden admitted. He tilted his head back to look past the topmost of the hanging plants, out at the distracting blues and purples of the nebula. It was a beautiful sight, space at its most peaceful. Contrarily, it made him think of the Carpathia and the war, the duty that had always driven him. It was with more candor than he intended that he added, "I've spent my whole damn life in service to someone. Earth, the war effort, now the Alliance... It never seems like there's time for more."

The truth was, Halden wasn't even sure what more he wanted. He'd never considered the question of a family, at least not beyond the idle idea that it might be nice to have one. He had enlisted too young, an angry teenager bent on putting a claustrophobic colony behind him, and the military life didn't leave much opportunity for romance. The few men Halden had been involved with—the even fewer women—were never the kinds of connections to survive over time and distance.

When he'd accepted the early retirement pressed on him so that he could run for office, there had been at least a small part of him hoping for better. Except it turned out a president of the Intergalactic Alliance of Worlds had even less time for romance than an officer in the Terrestrial Armada. He'd had to put aside such thoughts and focus on his job.

Fifteen years was a long time to put one's personal life on hold. Halden had no intention of speaking the words aloud, but the honest truth was simple enough: he was lonely. And though rationally he knew he had plenty of time ahead of him, a niggling voice in the back of his skull couldn't help wondering if he'd missed his chance.

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Take Your Best Shot by Starlight Cover
Dreamspinner Press
(Cover design by Catt Ford)
ISBN 978-1-63476-417-9
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