The Rising Tide by J. Scott Coatsworth

The Rising Tide

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out: “The Rising Tide.”

Earth is dead.

Five years later, the remnants of humanity travel through the stars inside Forever, a living, ever-evolving, self-contained generation ship. When Eddy Tremaine and Andy Hammond find a hidden world-within-a-world under the mountains, the discovery triggers a chain of events that could fundamentally alter or extinguish life as they know it, culminate in the takeover of the world mind, and end free will for humankind.

Control the AI, control the people.

Eddy, Andy, and a handful of other unlikely heroes—people of every race and identity, and some who aren’t even human—must find the courage and ingenuity to stand against the rising tide.

Otherwise they might be living through the end days of human history.

Series Blurb: Humankind is on its way to the stars, a journey that will change it forever. Each of the stories in Liminal Sky explores that future through the lens of a generation ship, where the line between science fiction and fantasy often blurs. At times both pessimistic and very hopeful, Liminal Sky thrusts you into a future few would ever have imagined.

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Scott is giving away two prizes with this tour – a $25 Amazon gift card, and a signed copy of “The Stark Divide,” book one in the series (US winner only for the paperback). For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

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The Rising Tide Meme

Eddy Tremayne rode his horse, Cassiopeia, along the edge of the pastures that were the last official human habitations before the Anatov Mountains. Several ranchers along the Verge—the zone between the ranches and the foothills—had reported losses of sheep and cattle in the last few weeks.

As the elected sheriff of First District, which ran from Micavery and the South Pole to the mountains, it was Eddy’s responsibility to find out what was going on.

He had his crossbow strapped to his back and his long knife in a leather sheath at his waist. He’d been carrying them for long enough now—three years?—that they had started to feel natural, but the first time he’d worn the crossbow, he’d felt like a poor man’s Robin Hood.

He doubted he’d need them out here, but sheriffs were supposed to be armed.

He’d checked with Lex in the world mind via the South Pole terminal, but she’d reported nothing amiss. In the last few years, she had begun to deploy biodrones to keep an eye on the far-flung parts of the world, but they provided less than optimal coverage. One flyover of this part of the Verge had shown a peaceful flock of thirty sheep. The next showed eight.

The rancher, a former neurosurgeon from New Zealand named Gia Rand, waited for him on the top of a grassy hill. The grass and trees shone with bioluminescent light, and the afternoon sky lit the surrounding countryside with a golden glow. The spindle—the aggregation of energy and glowing pollen that stretched from pole to pole—sparkled in the middle of the sky.

The rancher pulled on her gray braid, staring angrily at something in the valley below. “Took you long enough to get here.”

“Sorry. The train was out of service again.” Technology was slowly failing them, and they had yet to come up with good replacements.

She snorted. “One helluva spaceship we have here.”

He grinned. “Preaching to the choir.” Forever didn’t have the manufacturing base yet to support anything close to the technology its inhabitants had grown used to on Earth. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you asked him. With technology came new and better ways to kill. He’d seen it often enough in the NAU Marines. “What did you find?”

“Look.” Her voice was almost a growl.

Eddy looked down where she was pointing. “Oh shit.” Her missing sheep were no longer missing. They had been slaughtered.

He urged Cassiopeia down the hillside to the rocky clearing. A small stream trickled down out of the mountains there. He counted ten carcasses, as near as he could tell from the skulls left behind. Someone had sheared a couple of them and given up. It looked like they had skinned and cut the rest up for meat, the skin and bones and extra bits discarded.

Gia rode down the hillside behind him.

“Didn’t you report twelve sheep missing?”

She nodded. “Bastards took the two lambs. Probably for breeding.”

“That actually might help us.”

“How’s that?”

He dismounted to take a closer look at the crime scene. “They’ll have to pasture them somewhere. May make it easier to track them down.”

“Maybe so.” She dismounted and joined him. “This was brutal work. Look here.” She picked up a bone. “Whatever cut this was sharp but uneven. It left scratch marks across the bone.”

“So not a metal knife.”

“I don’t think so. Maybe a stone knife?”

He laughed harshly. “Are we back to caveman days, then?” It wasn’t an unreasonable question.

She was silent for a moment, staring at the mountains. “Do you think they live up there?”

“Who?” He followed her gaze. Their highest peaks were wreathed in wisps of cloud.

“The Ghosts.”

The Ghosts had been a persistent myth on Forever since their abrupt departure from Earth. Some of the refugees had vanished right after the Collapse, and every now and then something would end up missing. Clothes off a line, food stocks, and the like.

People talked. The rumors had taken on a life of their own, and now whenever something went missing, people whispered, “It’s the Ghosts.”

Eddy didn’t believe in ghosts. He personally knew at least one refugee who had disappeared, his shipmate Davian. He guessed there must be others, though the record keeping from that time had been slipshod at best. He shrugged and looked at the sky. “Who knows?” It was likely to rain in the next day or so. Whoever had done this had left a trail, trampled into the grass. If he didn’t follow it now, it might be gone by the time he got back here with more resources.

Gia knelt by one of the ewes, staring at the remnants of the slaughter. “Could you get me some more breeding stock? This… incident put a big dent in my herd.”

“I’ll see what I can do.” He took one last look around the site. It had to have taken an hour or two to commit this crime, and yet the thieves had apparently done it in broad daylight. Why weren’t they afraid of being caught? “I’m going to follow the trail, see where it leads.”

Gia nodded. “Thanks. We’re taking the rest of the herd back to the barn until you get this all figured out.”

“Sounds prudent. I’ll let you know.”

Slipping on his hat, he climbed back up on Cassie and followed the trail across the stream toward the Anatov Mountains.

Author Bio

Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction reflecitng their own reality.


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Author Friends: Carolyn Reilly

Are you a panster or a plotter?

Definitely plotter. I plot in excruciating detail. To me, it’s the best part of the writing process. Once I start writing, it gets complicated since English is only my second language. Thankfully, I have a fantastic team of editors, betas, and proofreaders.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

I don’t believe in writer’s block, but I do believe in procrastination. Sadly 😉


What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over. 

Oh, I wish I had the time to reread some of my all-time favorites. But with my day job, writing my own novels, and all the books on my TBR, that’s just not possible.


Describe your perfect writing space: 

Easy. Next to my horses’ pasture. Nothing soothes, relaxes, and grounds me like the sight and sound of grazing horses.


Do you write your title first or story first?

For the Deadly DNA Series it was stories first, for my upcoming Everdark Crossroads Series it was titles first.


And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

Why in the ever-loving hell had he agreed to visit this hilltop castle? Climbing 120+ flights of rough-terrain stairs in the pouring rain, acting as if they were petty human tourists. Three flaps of his wings would have taken them both there.

But she’d opted against it, not because the voice of reason told her. Or because she was afraid they might be discovered. No. Her point: What’s the fun in it. Really? Fun? To this day, he thought he knew her. But apparently, he hadn’t been aware of her masochistic tendencies. Wait. That wicked smile she tossed him made him think twice. Make that sadistic tendencies.


Carolyn Reilly has been working for the German Federal Foreign Office (aka Department of State) for more than 20 years. A good part of that time she was assigned to German Embassies in civil war Lagos/ Nigeria and Khartoum/ Sudan, with the German Consulate General in New York and with German Embassies in Central Asian countries Kirgizstan and Kazakhstan. She still works part-time for the Foreign Office, but has meanwhile exchanged those restless and not exactly hazard-free postings abroad with a quieter life in the Bavarian countryside.


When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her Icelandic horses. She advocates animal welfare and a percentage of the proceeds of her books goes to Farmed Animal Sanctuary Hof Butenland in Northern Germany.


Author Friends: Ella Williams

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I do a basic plot outline. But I write where my heart feels, so if I feel like writing the last chapter when I am only five chapters into my book, I will do that.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

Writers block is just another form of stunted motivation. As a creative, it is easy to get sidetracked and let self-doubt get the better of you. I don’t stress when I am not motivated, I just jot down any ideas I do have and work on marketing or self promotion. There’s always something to do!
But if I take to long to get back to the keyboard, I try to remember how much I actually love writing.

What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over.

I stopped re-reading books when the Indie book community became so huge. I was too busy gobbling up all the new reads! So it’s not a book I will go to on a bad day, its a particular Author. And there are many that I favor, it’s dependent on what type of read I want; paranormal, contemporary, young adult, new adult, hot alpha… oh the list goes on. And of course I do have a long TBR.

Describe your perfect writing space:

Quiet early mornings at my dining room table when the juices are freshly flowing or One AM’s in bed when I get my second wind. But I also enjoy a picnic blanket in the park, some snacks and a handy laptop.

Do you write your title first or story first?

I’m either or. I could hear a word, think it would make a great title and then build a story around it. Or I could develop a story then chop and change till the right title comes to mind.

And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone

The cat sat in his bowl, patiently waiting for his human to pay him some attention. He licked his paw in anticipation of the meal ahead. The wait seemed endless in the chilly winter air. He let off a loud “Meow,” in pleading for his much-anticipated tuna.

After what seemed like five cat years his Human left her seat and joined Kitty in the kitchen. Human offered sweet-sounding platitudes that Kitty was sure was meant to soothe him after his lengthy wait for his meal. He hissed in response, angry at being ignored for so long. He stubbornly remained in the food bowl while Human attempted to lift him out. After allowing Human to hum compliments, of “How pretty you are Kitty,” followed by the human begging of kitty-strokes and chin tickles, Kitty decided a sufficient period of time had lapsed. Kitty finally relented and slowly and languorously stepped out of the bowl.

Kitty watched with a satisfied smirk as Human had to clean out the food bowl that was now filled with Kitty’s long black fur. Then came out the can of tuna. Kitty couldn’t help but purr at the smell invading his receptive nostrils, causing the most pleasurable anticipation. Now, this? This was the reason why Kitty tolerated Human. Every King needed his serf!

About the Author:

Ella Williams is a self published author of raw, sassy and slightly savage romance. Ella has years of experience slogging away in various education fields, but her ever thriving passion for reading led Ella on the path to becoming a writer.

Better late than never, Ella mostly known as E, Weezy or Mo-m, has a love of art and colour and anything idiosyncratic.

Ella lives in Cape Town South Africa with her high school sweetheart and husband , three of their five children, their googly-eyed puppy, two grumpy cats and of course their pet killer lobster. Their full house is never lacking in quirky inspirations and even weirder friendships. A mother and small business owner by day Ella cannot resist the call of the written word and is either reading or weaving a story by night.

She is always and forever a doodler, a dreamer and now a writer.

Nothing is more annoying than a hot guy who knows it.
He was off limits. Forbidden. My life was too afflicted. His life was too tied up in complications.
But then my world fell apart. Alone and adrift, I never guessed that one of my misadventures would turn into a night of discovery.
The instant pull left us breathless.
I wasn’t sure that I could handle the scrutiny, or the judgement in his eyes, if he knew how messed up my life was. Or whether, he could unravel his own messes.
Except, I was hooked on the promise of forever.







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Author Friends: Jody Kaye

Are you a panster or a plotter?
I was a pantster. My last 2 (and next) releases all center around one specific event, so I’ve had to become plotter to make sure that a large group of characters are doing the right things at the right time.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?
Nope. Sometimes I need to monotony of chores to think through things. If that doesn’t work I attack from a different angle; interviewing characters to see what they think would happen, writing a scene from when a character was growing up that affected them, pretending to be a fly on the wall while characters are discussing one another’s flaws, etc… Many times the content winds up being reusable, not only in the current story, but spurring ideas for others or blog posts and bonus scenes.
What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over.
It’s Lover Enshrined by the Warden. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but my copy is fraught with errors and it reminds me that even the greats are human.

Describe your perfect writing space:
Lots of sunshine! My office windows look out on greenspace and I love taking my iPad & keyboard out to the back porch and listening to the birds while writing.
Do you write your title first or story first?
Story. The titles generally wind up being whatever I’ve saved the draft document as. That’s why (so far) they’re all a single word or name.
And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

Bringing the tabby back to my apartment was close to the stupidest decision that I’ve made. The cat had snuggled into me in the alley, seeking affection. The camaraderie pulled at my lonely heartstrings, already taught and ready to break. Happily making itself at home, the ungrateful feline darted into a cave-like space of my bookcase, taking its claws to my dog-eared copy of Harry Potter. It shredded the dust jacket and stretched, knocking everything else down. When I tried to rearrange my mementos, the ungrateful houseguest sat itself on the open pages of my favorite book…and they started glowing.

Jody’s husband asked what she’d been doing all day. After five years she finally confessed, “When no one is around, I write.”

Okay, It was more like trying to get out of saying a thing. Jody’s a writer. You want it pretty. Let’s compromise.

“Just finish one,” he said, challenging her to complete a story and share it. Little did he know that those words of encouragement meant they’d return from a family vacation with a wild and defiant set of quintuplets stumbling their way into adulthood. Wasn’t raising their three sons enough?

A native of nowhere, Jody settled in New England for 17 years before agreeing to uproot her brood of boys and move to North Carolina. She spends most of her time reading, writing, and hoping that her ravenous children haven’t managed to eat all the ingredients before she cooks dinner.


Author Friends: MV Ellis

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I’m what I’d describe as a recovering panster. Catching London was produced totally by the seat of my pants – sometimes there were no pants at all, if I’m totally honest! Since then, in the interests of bringing more beautiful words to more readers, more often, I’m on the way to pantsing recovery. For my second book, I plotted, but I can’t truthfully say I stuck to the plot all the time, as this definitely wasn’t the case. Maybe I’ll be more diligent with number three…who knows?

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

I’ve never personally suffered from Writer’s Block, thankfully, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it exists. I believe it’s very real for those who suffer from it – though hopefully I’ll never join their ranks. However, on occasion, I’ll find myself a little ‘stuck.’ This might mean I’ve written myself into a corner (that’s where those plans come in handy, if you have them!), or I’ve just run out of energy and/or inspiration for that day, or writing session. For these moments, I’ve found it best to give myself a break in some shape or form. This might be simply moving on to a different scene, chapter, or even project, and returning later with ‘fresh’ eyes. Other times it’s best to change things up completely, and do something entirely different. I might chose another creative pursuit to keep the juices flowing – maybe I’ll watch TV, listen to music, or even read a book. Other times it’s best to switch off completely – hang out with my family, go to the beach, meet a friend for coffee, or even take a nap (this last one almost never happens!). One of the most interesting, but also frustrating things about being a writer is that no two days are ever the same, so the options for how things might pan out are endless…

What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over.

Unusually, I’m not really one for re-reading books, or re-watching movies. If I read something, it tends to be something I’ve never encountered before.

Describe your perfect writing space:

I currently write at the end of our 3m long kitchen table. This is not a description of my perfect writing space. I have a home office which can currently best be described as a junk room (and that’s being polite). I have minimalist leanings, so I would love a large airy white space with minimal but pretty furniture, and maybe a few stunning black and white photos for inspiration, but not much else. That, or a beach in the Maldives. One can dream…

Do you write your title first or story first?

I write the story first generally, and then the title tends to fall from the narrative, but there are no hard and fast rules.

And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

Text (excerpt from Catching London): My hair is piled up in a messy bun. Okay, so there’s a fair bit of side boob action happening, but my For Love and Lemons triangle bra is taking care of it pretty well.
Flash Fiction
That doesn’t stop him from looking at me like he’s a starving wolf, and I’m a lamb to the slaughter. It’s a pretty accurate description of what’s going on between us right now. We’re a foregone conclusion. I don’t know when we switched from being an ‘if’ to a ‘when,’ but somewhere along the way it happened, and now we’re on like Donkey Kong. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon…
He stalks closer, sweeping another admiring glance over me. His desire blazes in his eyes like the fire of a thousand suns, and is as palpable as if it were a third person in the room between us. Every instinct is telling me to run, to get the hell out of there as fast as my legs will carry me. Despite knowing we have instincts for a very good reason, my brain has decided to pick today to override those instincts and follow my heart, rather than my gut. Actually, I’m not following anything. I’m not moving at all, in fact. I’m rooted to the spot, as solidly as an ancient oak in an undiscovered forest.
Lamb to the slaughter.
Be still my bleating heart.


MV ELLIS knows what it’s like to fall head over heels in love with a badass musician. She followed her heart halfway around the world to be with one. She moved from London to Sydney after a steamy holiday romance with a sexy bass player in sultry Brazil.

Twelve years, two children and a dog later, and she’s still smitten. All this with a guy she sat next to on a bus for 36 hours! She has toured internationally as a ‘WAG’, and her experiences inspire her writing.

Ellis’ love of romance began when she was 11 years old, after a summer spent secretly reading her auntie’s books. She’s been a sucker for an alpha hero and strong heroine ever since.

An avid reader, Ellis always knew that she’d write a book of her own one day. She was right about that. Following a career spanning advertising, marketing, and social media, she finally wrote Catching London in 2017.






Author Friends: Eva King

Are you a panster or a plotter?
I’m a pantser through and through. I cannot, for the life of me, plan a book in advance. Believe me, I’ve tried. But it was absolute shite.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?
Yes, I do. I’ve suffered from it. You just stare at an empty, blank page for hours.
The only way I’ve managed to get over it was by stopping writing all together and read as much as I can. Then I try again after a couple of days.
What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over. 
Argh! Do I have to say? Right, okay… Twilight. I think I’ve read it about ten times. It isn’t a classic, but I see Stephenie Meyer as an inspiration. If she could do it, so could I.
Describe your perfect writing space: 
My perfect writing space would be an empty house for a whole day with no Wifi. Just me and my laptop. However, the chances of that happening are very slim, so I just use my mobile phone on the train as I make my way to work.
Do you write your title first or story first?
None of the above. I write the characters first. Everything else comes after.
And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:


I needed this land, like I needed air. 
Filling my lungs with the fresh air, I imagined my children, running wild, climbing trees. Growing older and having their own kids.
The circle of life would happen right here, underneath my feet. 
I circled around and faced the realtor, “I want to buy this land. Can I sign the papers now?”
She beamed, “yes, of course.”
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Recovering from a broken relationship, Emma Mitchell moves in with her best friend. Her life is quiet and uneventful, just how she likes it. Little does she know that the events of the following months will change her life forever.

Famous Hollywood actor James McNair is a renowned womaniser with a penchant for partying and hitting the tabloids for all the wrong reasons. When a night of partying a little too hard means he finally has to take stock and reevaluate his lifestyle, a week away from the flashing lights of Hollywood is just what he needs. What better place to hide than in his childhood home in Edinburgh, Scotland?

When the old friends are reunited, feelings resurface and sparks fly. But James must keep the pretence of his new persona until the premier of his biggest film in his career. He just has no idea if he’ll be able to keep his feelings for Emma under wraps until then.

Sometimes it takes more than damage control to find a happily ever after.

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Author Friends: Brenda Murphy

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I’m a reformed pantser, I struggled with structure and flow, and then I took two screenwriting classes and it helped. Now I write one line scene descriptions on 3×5 index cards, sort them into my story and write from that, and it has made me a much faster writer, and I end up with a stronger first draft to work with.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

No. I don’t have time for writers block. If I come to a tricky part that I’m struggling with I go back to my notes and outline, read over them and then do something completely unrelated to writing, like gardening or photography, or art journaling and then come back to the work and start again.

 What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over.

My comfort reads right now for fiction are Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, and for non-fiction Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert when I need to reset.

Describe your perfect writing space: 

A flat surface to work on with a never-ending pot of tea, and a salty oat biscuit or two.

Do you write your title first or story first?

Story first always, and then title.

 And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

 What money? I read the text again my hands sweaty as I pressed send. I tapped out a rhythm on my steering wheel as I waited for her reply.

The money I had in the emergency stash.

Why are you looking for it? I stalled.  I had planned on paying it back after my last gig. But that hadn’t turned out so well. Now the emergency fund was short $600.00 and I was screwed. Even if she said yes to marrying me she would be pissed I spent the money on a ring. I pulled in to the driveway and killed the headlights. I could see her through the window, pacing with her phone in her hand. I tucked the small velvety box into the pocket of my leather jacket, and blew out a breath before I opened the car door.

She opened the door to the house before I got there a frown on her face. “Were you texting and driving?”

“No baby I was around the corner. I pulled over.”

She stepped back and we entered the house. She grabbed me by my jacket and pushed me up against the wall. Her lips were soft on mine, she slid her hands up under my jacket, brushing over my breasts before she pulled me closer to rub my back.

I relaxed into her touch as she kissed her way along my neck. “Hey baby I got something to ask you.”

She pulled back and looked into my eyes “About what?” Her eyes were wary. “The money?”

“In a way.” I kneeled on one knee and pulled the small box from my pocket and opened it. “Would you marry me?” My throat went dry as I said it.

She eyed the ring. “Is that our emergency fund?”

I flushed, heat rising in my face. I looked down and away from her eyes. “Yeah. I’m sorry I as going to put it back but the gig fell thorough.” Shame filled me, how could I ever expect her to marry a loser like me?

She gripped my chin and forced my head back. She kissed me hard, her teeth kicking my lip before she pulled back and met my gaze. “Asking me to marry you was an emergency? Are you pregnant?” The playful look in her eyes broke the tension of the moment. She smoothed her hand over my hair.

“Only if there is a star in the east.” We both laughed and she tugged me to me feet.

“Yes. But don’t think you’re off the hook for repaying the emergency fund.”

Links and Bio

Brenda Murphy writes short stories and novels. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. Her nonfiction and short fiction have been published in various collections. Her most recent novel, One, published by NineStar Press in November 6, 2017. When she is not swilling gallons of hot tea and writing, she wrangles two dogs, twins, and an unrepentant parrot. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog, Writing While Distracted.

Facebook:  Writing While Distracted

Teaser from One:

MAC STRETCHED HER legs out and shifted in her seat. Her hips were tight from the flight even with the extra leg room in first class. Fearful of dreaming again, she had managed to stay awake. She glanced over at Lana. She was asleep with her long legs tucked up in her seat. The dark blue thin airline blanket draped her full curves. Mac listened to her soft and easy breathing. Her hair spilled across her face. The sandy brown strands mixed with occasional streaks of gray hid her eyes from Mac’s gaze. She wanted to reach out and tuck Lana’s hair behind her ear so she could study the delicate curve of her face.

Mac looked away. If she wakes up and I’m staring at her she’ll think I’m a creeper. She tucked her hands under her thighs. Unable to resist, she glanced at Lana again. For fuck’s sake, she’s a woman like any other woman. Except she isn’t. Forget it. So not like any woman I’ve ever wanted to date. So together. And she won’t fall for any of my bullshit. She’s a grown-ass woman, not those easily impressed twentysomethings I been banging. She’s probably not into women. And if she was, why would it be me?

Mac turned to the window. She leaned closer to look down and watched as they flew over the Alps. Midnight blue lakes in dark green valleys peeked out between snow- tipped mountains. Dad would have loved this. Except he would have hit that asshole and we wouldn’t have been on the plane. She pushed away the melancholy nipping at her. Get a grip Mac. Why am I all up in my feelings? Tired. Fucking tired.

“Magnificent, isn’t it?” Lana’s husky morning voice at her shoulder made Mac jump and she banged her head on the window frame.

“Ow. Fuck.” And she laughed punchy from the lack of sleep and bone-deep weariness of travel.

Lana laughed with her. The clear heartfelt notes of her laughter filled an empty place in Mac she didn’t even know existed.

“Sorry to laugh.” Lana covered her mouth with her hand and fake frowned in a pitiful attempt to look serious before laughing so hard she snorted.

“Nah it’s okay. It was funny.” Mac rubbed her head and laughed with her. Both of them ignored the hard, ugly look from the rude woman Lana had traded seats with. Serve her right if I kissed Lana right now to fuck with her. No. That’s not why I want to kiss her. She’s beautiful and smart and funny. So much. And so not into me like that.

They passed the rest of the trip in easy talk and laughter, sharing the kind of intimate details that are so easy to share when you don’t ever expect to see a person again. The flight attendant made the landing announcements as they approached Malpensa and Mac wished the flight was longer.