**Also Available in "Guardians of a Giant's Treasure" anthology**
Tucker has spent his entire life as an interstellar trash man. But ever since his mother died, he’s been alone, and certainly lonely. So when he discovers the derelict ship he scooped up has an occupant—a beautiful young man named Ronan—Tucker is thrilled. Ronan is royalty and running from his tyrannical mother, determined to keep a powerful object out of her hands. But when he strikes a deal with the adorable Tucker, he wonders if it’s time to stop running.
Publisher: Independently Published
Jogging down the short corridor, bypassing the engine, heating and cooling systems, and other mechanisms that kept her spaceworthy, he finally came to the heavy door that opened up to her bowels. He gripped the round locking handle and turned it with a grunt. The door creaked as he shoved it open and stepped inside. Years of trash filled it to bursting. He should clean it out at regular cycles but sometimes he found barely anything to clean up, then other times it was full during just one rotation. Seeing all the tubes, poles, melted pieces of iron and steel, busted electronics, and a hodgepodge of other trash, he scolded himself for letting the mess accumulate. There could easily be treasures buried under the piles of scrap, and he certainly had a job ahead of him when he finally did dive in.
“Stupid,” he said to himself. He could just see his mother shaking her head at him. He sighed. “I know, Ma. I know.”READ MORE
He had to climb over a couple mounds of debris before arriving at the small ship he’d captured. It looked even worse up close. Grunting, Tucker walked to the back of the ship and easily found the emergency control panel next to the locked ramp. After fiddling with a few tools inside his belt pouch he chose two and ripped off the panel before hacking the system. His mother had been able to hack anything, and eagerly passed on her skills to her son. Tucker owed everything he was to her.
She’d died several cycles ago, and he still missed her fiercely.
Shaking off those thoughts, Tucker overrode the system, and the ramp lowered. After returning his tools to the pouch, he climbed up and began looking around for anything living. It would be really stupid if Destiny was just playing a joke on him. She did that sometimes.
The ship was slightly bigger than a shuttle yet meant for interstellar space. Upon closer inspection he now determined it was an older model—in fact, it was an outdated, recalled model from several cycles back. Why the hell would anyone trust their life to such a death trap? It was obvious something had happened inside the ship, causing it to die. Dented and melted metal met his gaze as he swept it over the main cabin. Had a struggle taken place? His imagination whirling, Tucker wondered at the lack of blood or bodies. How many had been on this ship, and who was here now?
“Hello?” He waited. No answer. Frowning harder, Tucker began to search, moving furniture and looking through the few holes inside the walls. It wasn’t long before he found something… odd. Crouching, Tucker cautiously picked up a pale, glowing ball. The light pulsed faintly and was definitely coming from inside the object. He could feel the warmth even through his thick glove. Weird. This was definitely not trash.
Tucker heard a noise to his left and shot to his feet. He stuffed the glowing ball into his trouser pocket before slowly moving down a short hallway. Then he heard a moan. A human moan. Forgetting caution, Tucker surged down the hallway and stumbled into a dark room. Tucker flicked on the light attached to his belt and it partially illuminated the area. It became obvious that this room had borne the brunt of the disabling impact. Did something hit the ship? That would explain a lot. But what hit it? Turning in circles, Tucker quickly spotted an obviously human shape trapped under a heavy desk. The human seemed to be just regaining consciousness and his arms—Tucker assumed he—were weakly pushing against the desk.
“Easy there,” Tucker said as he went to the man’s side. “I got it. I’ll lift and you scooch out, okay?”
“Yeah,” the man said in a voice filled with pain. That voice also confirmed it was, indeed, a man.
Tucker took a deep breath and, with muscles formed from lifting heavy objects all his life, he easily heaved the desk off the stranger. The man took a deep breath and managed to scoot back on his butt. Tucker dropped the desk to the floor after he had cleared it. The stranger wore a spacesuit and helmet, obscuring his face and form.
The man was silent for a moment before nodding. “Ronan.”
**Also available in "Guardians of a Giant's Treasure" anthology.**