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Every Second You're Alive

M/M, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Romance
[64 Pages / 20,000 Words]


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Major Franklin Cade has spent years fighting the undead scourge that drove humanity from Earth. Now victory is in sight, but it's come at immeasurable cost. He has sacrificed everything in the line of duty—even his own heart.

For six months Lieutenant Daniel Mendoza has been missing in action. Only stubbornness and a refusal to tarnish Mendoza's memory have kept Franklin alive since losing the man he wouldn't admit he loved.

When a perilous rescue needs volunteers, he returns to the canyon where Mendoza fell. He is not prepared for the hope that ignites as he follows a fading distress signal across infested terrain. In the shadow of a deadly countdown every second is precious, but Franklin refuses to lose Mendoza again.


Excerpt

Yun's incredulous stare lasts a very long time before she draws an exasperated breath and takes a seat on the foot of his bed. "You really must think I'm stupid. You're lucky to be alive right now, considering the shit you've pulled these past few months. How's this new suicide mission any different?"

Franklin doesn't know how to explain that she's got this wrong. He's not trying to die—he doesn't want to die—he would never undermine Mendoza's sacrifice or his memory that way. But if he doesn't use the life he's got left to do as much good as he can...

Then what's the point?

This isn't a death wish. It's penance. But somehow he suspects Yun won't like that answer any better.

"Since when do you talk to me this way?" he mutters.

Yun gives him a sad, almost pitying look that seems to say, You know since when. Franklin's chest tightens as he looks away, because he does know. Six months ago she would never have stormed into his quarters unannounced, or saddled him with such brutal honesty. Six months ago there would've been someone else beating down his door.

But Mendoza is not here to argue the point, and Yun is not half as convincing in his stead.

"He wouldn't have wanted this for you," she says softly.

The measured blank of his face goes rigid as anger flares. Yun doesn't get to put words in Mendoza's mouth just because he's dead. Franklin's anger is not lessened by the fact that Yun is right: Mendoza didn't buy them a shot out of that canyon only for Franklin to march right back into Hell six months later.

"It's not a suicide mission," he argues as calmly as he can. "Even if I go in alone, command has triangulated the signal to within seven kilometers. It's just a matter of getting close enough to pin down the source. Whether anyone's alive or not, I'll go in equipped to call for a pinpoint evacuation."

"That's assuming you aren't swarmed by hostiles the second you set foot down there. Do you have any idea how densely packed they are by now? Command has been dumping them over the edge for months in anticipation of this damn air strike. What if you can't call for evac in time? What if you can't find a secure position? They won't postpone the strike for you."

"I am aware of all these risks."

"Damn it, sir, it's not supposed to go like this!" Scalding frustration simmers beneath the words. "You're supposed to retire with honors and come to the homestead Sal and Ferris have already started preparing. This is your chance to start an actual life, and you're going to throw it away?"

"That is quite enough, Lieutenant. You're dismissed."

Yun visibly reins herself in, but she doesn't depart. She just stares at him for a very long time—long enough Franklin nearly repeats the order—before she speaks in a more cautious voice.

"I know you miss him, sir."

Franklin stands straighter. "Lieutenant Yun—"

"I know you cared for him deeply. You would've protected him if you could."

"I said you are dismissed," Franklin growls more desperately.

But Yun forges ahead as though she didn't hear. "He's gone, sir. What's the harm in admitting—"

Franklin jerks away from his work—his hands have been still for several minutes already—and turns his back. The stilted movement puts him directly facing the metal desk and window that occupy the narrow end of his quarters, and he takes the handful of steps necessary to reach the desk. Presses his palms hard to the cool surface and tries not to picture Yun's pitying face.

The image of Mendoza his mind supplies instead is a cruel taunt. The bright, familiar grin. The flash of teeth warning that Mendoza's next words would skirt perilously close to insubordination. The glitter of unspoken humor in impossibly expressive eyes.

And then, even worse, Mendoza falling. Again. It's a memory Franklin has replayed so many times, there are days it's all he can see when he closes his eyes.


Paperback / AMZ / Apple / BN / Kobo / SW / All

Book cover white script on purple background: Every Second You're Alive
Cover design by Yolande Kleinn
ISBN 978-1-946316-17-2
 
 
 
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