Love’s Entanglement Preview
I was hiding. I did that a lot. But I was in my favorite place to hide, to think, just have a minute to myself, away from the pressures of watchful eyes, way too much to study, and the constant threat of another attack. Granted, it had been months since the Zakasacs had tried to infiltrate the camp, but everyone was always on high alert knowing they wouldn’t just let go of losing Gilroy and not try again.
It really made everyone cranky and on edge. I didn’t do well with that and now that Verge had passed his tests to be a full warrior, I was the oldest post-trans in my class… Not that it meant much because I was as clueless as the rest of them. No one seemed to be able to get back on point and focus us.
So when they got scattered, or the newer ones to have transitioned started pestering Matteo with questions he couldn’t answer—hadn’t been able to answer for months—I snuck off and went to my favorite place.
“Roger, tower, I’m at echo location,” I muttered into the headset, jerking at the controls. Then just to put the final nail in my dork coffin, I pushed air through my lips to make chopper sounds. “I’ve got the cargo and I’m coming back. No sign of hostiles but I’ve got the guns loaded and we’re ready.”
“Helps if you get in the air to be much use,” a deep voice chuckled in the headset. I froze and slowly turned to look over my shoulder, meeting the bright hazel eyes I avoided like the plague. “So you’re the one who keeps messing with my seat.”
“I put it back,” I practically squeaked. He raised an eyebrow at me and I winced. “I thought I did.” He took off the headphones, and I did the same, realizing he put them on just to talk to me. “Sorry.”
“So what am I going to do with you, huh? A real live stowaway on my whirlybird.” He eyed me over and then a wide smile formed on his lips. “Oh, you’re swabbing the deck, matey.”
“There’s no deck on a chopper, sir,” I hedged, sliding out of his seat.
“Doesn’t mean it can’t be washed.” Philo threw back his head and laughed as he climbed out. I followed after him, hoping he really was kidding. I might have transitioned but it wasn’t like I had fully filled in yet. My lean six-two frame was nothing compared to his six-seven one. I mean, he had to have over a hundred pounds of muscle on me.
I didn’t think I could reach everything.
“There’s a stepladder by the buckets,” he called over as if knowing what I was thinking while staring at his whirlybird.
“Not sure the punishment fits the crime,” I grumbled, heading to the supply cabinet in the front of the garage. “I just sat in the damn thing. There’s no rule against that.” I grabbed what I needed and closed the door, swallowing my tongue when those hazel eyes were right there again.
“Do you not talk enough to know who can hear your muttering or did you want to end up cleaning my room too?” Philo challenged.
“I never say anything I wouldn’t say to someone’s face,” I answered, still, ducking my head in embarrassment. “I’m not a gossip. No one said we couldn’t sit in the chopper, and once we became post-trans, we got more liberties and freedom.”
“Nice way to frame it, but I’m pretty sure you still can’t sit at Rune’s terminal at the command center and have playtime there either. It’s not about you being in the chopper. You need to learn you’re messing with people’s work space and not screw with things you could fuck up. You could forget to flip a switch I never touch and could miss before taking off and we crash. You could break a dial or a hundred other things.”
“Yes, sir,” I whispered, hurrying off with the bucket before he said something else. Philo had this great knack of making me feel about two inches tall. Playtime? I hadn’t been taking tea in the chopper with my stuffed animals. Granted, I was playing, but people play video games and it didn’t sound so demeaning.
And I hadn’t screwed with his precious controls.
“Where does Matteo think you are, Norris?” Philo asked after I pulled the hose over.
“I don’t know. He was too busy answering all the panicked questions of the other post-trans and being distracted by the attack and what it means like always,” I bitched and then shut my mouth. I slowly turned around to take in Philo’s shocked expression. “I didn’t mean that the way it came out.”
“Oh, I think you did.” He studied me closely and then nodded. “Wash my baby good while I go talk to your instructor. I’ll see you at my room when you’re done so you can clean that too.”
“You’re going to tell him what I said, aren’t you?” I whispered, shaking so bad I dropped the sponge. “They’ll kick me out of the program.”
“It doesn’t seem as if this program is a very good fit for you though, Norris.” Philo turned and headed off and my heart crushed into dozens of pieces. I didn’t want to get kicked out.
Truth be told I wanted the program it was before the attack. Everything got so screwed up since then. Either way, getting kicked out of a program meant I couldn’t ever be a warrior and I’d wanted to be a warrior since I knew what one was and seen my dad’s sword for the first time. I hadn’t understood I’d been born to be one, and still I had wanted it.