Welcome to the mercenary ship, The Blue Solace:
Leti Ando needs off planet and fast. He has a best friend and a new half-sister to rescue, and he needs to be sneaky about it. Unfortunately sneaky isn't really his thing. With the help of a friend, Leti and his menagerie, along with his two companions, stow away aboard a mystery ship. Little does he know that The Blue Solace belongs to the infamous mercenary, Captain Will Hackett, a man he'll come to love with everything inside him.
Will has been in a bitchy ass mood for the past six months. He's restless and grumpy, but doesn't know why. He knows he needs something and he can't find it, but his crew are out of patience and insist on some R &R back home at Charybdis Station.
Then Hack finds a stow away angel and everything changes. Leti is his mate and he'll do anything to keep him safe and happy, even smile.
The galaxy's not a safe place, though, and The Blue Solace has a job to do: pick up a renowned scientist and his mysterious artifact. Then get them safely back to Charybdis Station. Hack and Leti don't realize their romance story is about to get hijacked by Concord mercenaries. Their love is easy, it happens just like that. Staying alive and keeping the galaxy safe? That's a little harder.
Author's Note: 41,801 words. (Previously published as "Happens Just Like That"). This is a m/m love story with no angst and no cheating, just a HEA. There is lots of action, sex, mpreg, and a few potty mouths involved in the story. 18+ readers only, please. It is also the first of two books about this specific couple.
Leti curled farther into himself as he heard steps approaching the crate he had managed to force Biscuit, Gravy, Princess Buttercup, and himself into, along with most of his belongings. Monty perched on Leti’s head. It was a bit crowded, though he really hadn’t packed much.
Leti was short, but, as his father and mother both loved to point out, he had some extra padding. Gravy, his largest dog, also had some extra padding. The Old-Earth Newfoundland and vexal dog mix took up a lot of space behind him, but he made a nice, gentle prop.
Biscuit wiggled, protesting Leti’s movement. The small dog whined in Leti's arms and managed to lick his nose, doggy breath making the limited air that much more uncomfortable. He tried to adjust his leg to straighten out his throbbing ankle. His bags bumped Princess Buttercup’s carrier, and a puff of smoke followed his hiss. Definitely crowded.READ MORE
"Why can't we stay planet side just a little longer?" A female voice rose over the noise of the busy spaceport. It was far too close to his crate for comfort. "I'm sick of seeing the same twelve damn people every second of my life. I need to at least watch the dancers at New Hope Casino." Her steps came to a stop to Leti's right. "I hear they're bendy. I need bendy, Alois."
A deep male laugh sounded to his left. "You should have gone last night then." Leti could hear the smug satisfaction in the man's voice. "They were bendy. Very bendy."
The crate was lifted, and Leti hugged Biscuit closer, burrowing his face in the long, silky brown hair. If they were caught… He stroked Biscuit's back and leaned into Gravy’s side. He hoped Draif and the others were alright in their crates. They needed to leave the planet, but damn, this was scarier than he thought it would be.
"I hate you so much," the woman said. "Unlike some irresponsible jerk-offs, I had guard duty last night."
"Come on, Cordy, don't be mad. I did my best to have enough fun for the both of us." The man laughed again, and the crate shifted to the right, unbalanced. Gravy gave a soft woof, and Princess Buttercup hissed again. Leti cringed and silently thanked the spaceport for being so noisy.
"Hate, Alois. I hate you so much."
"Shit, this crate is so much heavier than the last ones."
Leti sniffed. His extra padding wasn't that bad.
"The bendy dancers must have sapped all your strength," the woman said. "Man up, tough guy."
"Cordelia. Alois. Hurry it up already." A new female voice came from a distance in front of the crate. "The captain wants to be off this overcrowded rock within the next hour."
"On our way, Lieutenant," Alois said joyfully.
Cordelia groaned, but they picked up speed, and soon, Leti's crate was lowering again.
"Was that the last one?" Alois asked.
"No, there are two more. Crazy Dottie added three extra crates last minute. Said they were a surprise for the captain. The other two still need to be loaded.” She huffed. “No one ever gives me surprises."
"Don't be so grumpy, Cordy. The captain will make sure you get a free night at our next stop," Alois said. "You know he always does."
The two voices faded along with their steps. Leti quickly cracked the top of the crate and peeked out. The cargo space was decently sized, but it sure didn’t look like a large Drellian cargo ship. What had Dottie done?
Leti wasn't sure exactly which ship they were now on, but there were literally over a hundred in the spaceport that were leaving Vextonar today and two were slavers.
Despite the Prime’s general lack of tolerance for pure alien species, slaver ships docked often, bringing in new species and removing the more undesirable Vextonians on the planet, most from the Lower caste. Leti knew that if he was caught or stayed on his home world, his sister and Draif would be on one of those slaver ships before the week was over—possibly himself as well. His father would be furious at Leti for purchasing his sister and running.
He peeked over the crate again and quickly took another look. The hull of this ship was not massive like the slavers. Relief flooded him. There was no telling what kind of ship this was, but it could definitely be worse.
Leti didn't see anyone in his section of the hull, but he knew that the two strangers would be back soon. Crates were stacked neatly in rows and strapped securely to the floors and walls, and his blended in perfectly. He jostled his ankle and yelped, dots peppering his vision. A few tears leaked from his closed eyes. Gravy slowly sat up and licked his cheek, giving a soft woof afterward.
“Thanks, Gravy. That feels much better,” Leti said, voice strained with pain.
He panicked and quickly closed the crate lid when he heard the two crewmembers talking in the distance. Leti chewed his busted lip, then winced.
He couldn’t resist. He cracked the lid a bit so he could see the two as they approached. He cuddled Biscuit close, and Gravy propped his head next to Leti’s, watching for the two strangers too. Monty scurried from Leti’s head to the big dog, and Gravy’s heavy panting echoed in the close space.
"Why does the captain only stay in port two days every single time? He might not have to stop as often if he docked the ship somewhere for a week to deal with supplies and clients," Cordelia said.
"You really need to ask?" Alois laughed again. Leti had to admit the man had a nice laugh.
The two strangers came into sight. Cordelia was a tiny blonde human dressed in black body armor. Her expression contrasted her size though. There was steel in her grey eyes and a firmness to her chin. He noticed her pointed ears, poking through her hair. Not quite human like he’d thought.
The other, Alois, was a handsome devil—a Dedril, actually. Leti smiled at his inner joke and then sighed softly. He had a pretty face, and the man was tall—a little over six feet—and well built without being too muscular. A line of dark red scales led out of the top of his black body armor and ran along each side of his classically handsome face. The scales contrasted beautifully with his light peach-toned skin. The Dedril's warm brown eyes danced with mischief as he helped his friend gently secure the last two crates.
One carried Draif, Leti’s sister, two cats, a collection of Druffle, and more baggage. The other carried Wobble, Pork Chop, Hector, and Miss Speckles. Luckily, both crates remained silent. Dottie had sedated Wobble and the others in his crate. She said she would make sure they were packed in comfortably with plenty of air. It didn’t ease his guilt. He should have found them new homes instead of bringing them, but he loved them too much to leave them behind.
Cordelia sighed, drawing Leti’s attention again.
"Yeah, yeah. Captain Hackett is a big, bad mercenary captain. The fiercest around. He flies across the galaxy, fighting the impossible and winning riches and glory for Charybdis Station. He doesn't need to rest, he is violence and death… blah, blah, blah." She sounded bored.
Leti started to shake, gripping Biscuit tighter to his narrow chest.
Alois threw back his head and cackled. "Oh gods, the captain hates those tabloid stories."
Cordelia frowned. "Well then, he doesn't need to prove them right. We need more time back home instead of all these dangerous missions and short stops. I want to have a real life. Maybe meet someone."
They strapped the last of the crates in and turned to leave. Alois slung his arm around his friend's shoulders.
"We'll get there one day, Cordy. Enjoy the fast life while you can."
Their steps again faded, and the cargo bay door sealed behind them, shutting out the noisy spaceport and sealing his fate. Leti was so screwed. This wasn't a slaver ship, but it did belong to one of the most terrifying mercenary captains in the galaxy. He didn't think the infamous Captain Hackett would take well to having several stowaway passengers.COLLAPSE