I lucked out the day my best friend and fellow author, Alisha Paige, e-mailed me the submissions call for 28 Days of Heart, a short story Valentine’s Day celebration from All Romance e-Books. I had a Sci-Fi Romance novella called Zero-G that’s very special to me, and I wanted to put in a special place. Helping the American Heart Association was a no-brainer for a Romance writer. And I loved the idea of joining such a wonderful project for Valentine’s Day, always my favorite holiday.. Everything about the project appealed to me.
Ever the good influence on me, Alisha encouraged me to enter, so I sent off my submission on my birthday, for the extra little kick of magic. I feel very blessed Zero-G to have been included in the campaign and to help such a worthy cause. I hope you enjoy my story.
Out of this world…
Maggie Gates was madly in love with shy Will Hudson in high school, but he never made his move.?
Two decades later, they’re trapped on a lunar space station for eleven days. A relationship between the two should be off limits, but that isn’t stopping Will from setting his sights on Maggie for conquest in the cosmos. ?
The shy boy she knew is gone, and this man possesses the will to storm her gates. Now he has the Moon and stars on his side.
Suddenly, the tether cable’s spring-catch snapped. Lightning raced up her spine as she belted out a terrified shriek. Disaster in slow-motion, Will free-floated past the decompression chamber door, past the module, tumbling toward the outer ring and space beyond it. She broke into a sweat despite the coldness of the station.
Before solid reason could kick in, she punched the boost on the G-field, causing a power surge and instantly magnetizing the ring, catching Will by the metal in his spacesuit, slamming him into the ring structure, and preventing his loss to the stars.
“Good job, Maggie!” George shouted, and the voices of others in Mission Control could be heard cheering.
She caught her breath, her teary eyes posted on the video monitor. Will’s arms and legs were wrapped around the big ring, clutched for dear life, and the chance of losing him was still very high.
“Cut the magnetic field’s strength so he can move. Get him in the module, Gates! And don’t let him break orders again. Conduct a citizen’s arrest, if you have to.”
Immediately she did as George instructed, weakening the ring’s magnetic hold on Will.
“What’s your gravity reading?” George inquired, his tone laced with relief. “Thirty.” Too low, she knew. She expected vertigo any moment.
“Okay, Maggie. You did good, but it just cost you your gravity sooner than you’d planned. Micro-gravity may set in suddenly instead of a slow bleed. You’ll probably be floating in an hour. I suggest you make the most of that last hour.”
Her mind raced. “What about Life Support, George? What did saving Will cost us in Life Support power?”
But George’s line went dead.
She was pretty sure the magnetism engaged to catch Will had probably cost them a day’s worth of energy, which meant they didn’t have the power to make it to the protection of the Moon. Now there was a great probability they wouldn’t make it to their rescue.
Unable to raise any communication at all, Maggie went back to the ready room and watched through the portal to see Will slowly scale the ring until he reached the decompression chamber. That wait cost them a half hour. Fighting a threatening tear, she tapped her foot the entire fifteen minutes it took to decompress until her ankle ached. Only minutes of gravity remained, perhaps only days of life stood before them.
Math never lied. Only people lied.
All Maggie thought of was the one thing she really wanted before she died, something within her reach this moment. She had less than a half hour to live a final fantasy, to show Will the truth of her feelings before gravity gave out. Timing had never been her gift. She recalled never recognizing the moments in high school when she should have told him how she felt, catching her fiancé at bedding her roommate, missing Will when she’d returned to town to find him gone.
But, in the last moments of her life, she knew what she had never done bothered her more than what she had been late for.
No one could be hurt because their transgression would never be discovered. Maggie dared herself beyond her boundaries, grateful the guilt would only be short-lived. Everything happened all too slowly. A little dizzy, Maggie steadied herself Still divided in her heart, she felt propelled beyond her will to stop it
Shouldn’t she tell Will what was really in her heart? Shouldn’t someone know when they were loved so thoroughly by another living soul?
The vacuum-sealed door of the decompression chamber eased open, allowing Will to enter the ready room.
Relieved for his immediate safety in the station, Maggie sprinted into the room and began unsnapping the clamps on his helmet. Time ticked down in her head. The smell of him, vanilla and heat, caused a flush to take laps through her body, stealing the chill from the air, and dissolving her last remnants of strength to fight off her desire for him. Everything seemed strangely askew.
Removing the helmet, Will praised her. “Damn quick thinking on magnetizing the ring, Mags.”
Tamping down all thought of his marital state with crushing difficulty, she unclamped the heavy gloves, freeing his hands and went to work on the suit, unsealing and unzipping it. She didn’t comment on her panicked reaction, only peeled the suit away from his clothes, releasing him.
“Maggie…” His deep voice rumbled through her. He stopped her anxious puttering with the suit, taking her by the shoulders. The heat rising from his gentle grip penetrated her shirtsleeves. “There’s something I have to tell you.”
He didn’t know she’d figured out they would die soon.
“Tell me later, Will. This is more important. If you learned we had only hours to live, would you make love to me?”
Will’s eyes doubled in size, and he appeared to lose his own urgent conversation. “It’s the only thing I’d want to do, Mags.”
“There’s something I have to tell you, too, Will.”
Instead of using weak words, she reached up and tugged him down to her, kissing him with all the passion she’d suppressed for what now seemed like eons, her momentum mashing them both against the steel wall. He stilled at first, probably flabbergasted at her amorous statement.
Then he kissed her back and swept her into his embrace. He pressed her against him, his hands sweeping along her back and following her figure. The stroke of his tongue in her mouth spread his heat through her, charging her body with an awakening tension. His possessive grip and indulgent groan shot thrills through her, encouraging her.