GFWW Member Chrissy Szarek, w/a C.A. Szarek picks up the baton for the next installment of The Ultima Storm. We hope you enjoy!
Zoe stared at me and I shifted under the weight of her gaze, though I had no idea what the hell her mother was talking about.
“Boss?” Joe’s deep voice jolted and I glanced at him before my eyes grazed my watch. 20:40. We’d been standing here five minutes?
“Let’s go,” I barked.
Sera jumped and wrapped her arm in Caleb’s. The younger man pulled her closer to his side and rested an arm around her shoulders.
I swallowed back a scowl. It doesn’t matter. She loves Caleb, not you, idiot. She was clear about that, if nothing else. I should have been grateful we’d be able to save her life—and the life of her unborn child—instead of wallowing in my own damn unwanted feelings. I was the one who’d done Caleb wrong. And he hadn’t a clue. I might not like the kid all the time, but he didn’t deserve it.
“What happened between us was a mistake, Drake. I’m sorry.” Her voice haunted my thoughts. I wanted to close my eyes against the memories of tears in big violet eyes. Her regret.
Mistake. The word throbbed in my ears.
Pain I didn’t have the luxury to think about. My head hurt because my ears had been bleeding anyway.
I could only hope her kid came out with blonde hair and fair complexion—like both Sera and Caleb. Of course, I’d let her explain the dark hair if the baby looked like me. I was a mistake, so I didn’t have a say, right?
“You know how to drive this thing?” I asked Zoe as we all climbed inside the sweeper her mother had opened. It floated—actually floated—inside the tube line.
Looking around, I sucked in a breath. This was it. Our last shot. My ribs ached. I wouldn’t be able to move later if I sat still for too long, but we had a long ride ahead. I needed to get comfortable. We could all benefit from some rest.
The inside of the sweeper was utilitarian at best, but we were still better off here than battling over rough ground on the rover, had it not been destroyed. And this thing should be faster, too.
Rows of bright lights came to life the further we went inside, the sensors anticipating us even without the touch of a button. Cushioned bench seats lined either side of the rounded walls, and the control panel dominated the far right end. It had a cockpit of sorts, with two seats and a dashboard full of toggles and lights not so different than the one at the launch center.
“She won’t have to,” Sera cut in, taking my attention. “From what I read about sweepers, we just program the coordinates and it’ll take us on its own.”
I wanted to scowl at the impressed look on Joe’s face when he caught my gaze. But I couldn’t. Sera was lovely, beautiful and smart. But she wasn’t mine.
“Then get it done,” I bit out.
Caleb quirked an eyebrow, his blue eyes scorching me. He muttered something I didn’t catch, but knowing his mouth, it would have pissed me off anyway.
Zoe remained stoic as she took a seat, her mile-long legs beckoning my sight. Even in jeans, I could sense her muscular calves and thighs. How she had the body of an athlete growing up in a group of hoarders puzzled me, but I had to tear my gaze away and chide myself to focus.
She was every bit as gorgeous, but dark to Sera’s light. Brown eyes, olive skin and that long ebony hair a guy could wrap himself in.
The world is literally crumbling, and here you are thinking about women. Geesh. Do you even deserve a spot on the transport?
I shifted on my feet and glanced at my watch. 20:25.
“We need to go,” I said.
“Working on it, boss,” Joe said as he strode to the cockpit and slid in the captain’s seat.
Caleb dropped his pack and slid onto the bench on the opposite end of Zoe. Sera quickly went to him, burrowing into his side. They whispered to each other. I winced when he rested his hand on her distended stomach, inadvertently meeting Zoe’s dark eyes when I couldn’t stand to see Sera’s head on his shoulder anymore.
Zoe said nothing, but her appraising gaze made me squirm. I didn’t even know the girl, but she could see right through me, as much as her mother had. For some reason I felt guilty.
“Joe, you need some help?” I called to the other man. Anything to get away from those eyes.
My long time teammate threw a smile over his shoulder, his gray eyes bright. Like a kid in a candy store, they used to say.
“Boss, I haven’t seen anything like this in years, c’mere.”
It dawned on me that before joining up, Joe had been some sort of engineer or programmer nerd.
“Well, you know where we’re going?” I asked, forcing my voice steady as I took a closer look at the panel over his shoulder.
The co-captain’s chair looked inviting, but I couldn’t sit down.
“Yup. I memorized the right line on the map.” Joe nodded. “Straight shot to freedom.”
“Then get us the hell out of here.”
About C.A. Szarek