Uncrossed (Harem Station #6) - J.A. Huss
CHAPTER ONE - CRUX
Every single part of her feels familiar, that’s what I notice first. The way my hand cups her breast. The way her back fits against my chest. The smell of her hair, and the heat of her body, and the rhythm of her breathing.
All of it is familiar, but at the same time… weird.
I know she is Corla. I know I am Crux. I know we’re in bed, and it’s morning, and I recognize the sounds filtering through the door of our bedroom. Traffic outside. A car engine. Distant voices of neighbors and small children.
Then the banging of a cupboard.
Corla stirs, letting out a long, sleepy sigh. “They’re up. Why for the love of God do they insist on getting up so damn early?”
I think about that for a moment, wondering who the hell she’s talking about. At least, I’m pretty sure I think about that for a moment. But at the same time I’m thinking about that, I mumble, “I’ll get them,” in a gruff, equally sleepy voice.
After that nothing makes sense.
Because that’s not me talking.
Well, it’s sort of me. It’s my voice. I feel the muscles moving in my throat. All that is me. But… I’m suddenly across the room looking down on a bed of rumpled white covers and two people beneath them. Corla’s hair—not silver, but a very pale blonde—covers her face and spills onto her pillow.
I—well, obviously this man is not me, let’s just call him the one in the bed—he rolls over, throwing his portion of covers off. He swings his legs over the side of the mattress and plants his feet on the dark wood floor. He leans forward, rubbing his hands down his scruffy face, as he deals with the idea of waking.
He is me. He has my hair, he has my body, he has my face, he has my woman.
But he’s not me because I am me. So maybe I’m him? Because that makes a lot of sense.
He finally stands. A muffled crash echoes from somewhere deeper within these quarters. And then a squeal.
“Oh. My fucking. God.” Corla’s hand comes up to her face and she pushes her hair aside. One eye open, she stares at the other me. “I’m going to kill them.”
“You’re not gonna kill them.” Other Me chuckles. He reaches for some thin, sleep pants on the floor by his feet and pulls them up his legs. “They’re freaking adorable for many… minutes of… most days.”
She laughs and closes her one eye, smiling as she settles her head into the pillow. “They’re heathens.”
“They suck the life out of me.”
He leans down, one knee on the mattress, and kisses her on the head. “And then they fill you back up. Just… sleep. It’s their birthday and they’re excited. That’s all. They’re ready to get this party started. I’ll make breakfast and bring it to you in bed. How’s that sound?”
Now Corla opens both eyes and beams a loving smile up at Other Me. “I don’t know what I ever did to deserve you.”
I don’t quite get it either.
I mean—did this guy here put his life—and the lives of all his friends—on the line to shoot her ass through a spin node?
No. No he didn’t.
That would be me.
But do I get a Corla?
Other Me shrugs with his hands and chuckles again. “Right place, right time, babe. That’s all it was.”
Well that’s… amazing.
Then next thing I know I’m standing in a kitchen. Not the kind of kitchen I have in my quarters. Or any kind of kitchen I’ve ever seen before, actually. There’s a lot of… things. Big, metal, humming machine-type things.
I recognize a refrigerator. It’s overly large, not like the ones we have on Harem. And the sink is obvious. But the autocook isn’t an autocook. It’s like the cooktop Serpint has in his quarters, but much bigger and more primitive. It uses fire.
But the really weird thing about this kitchen isn’t the machines. It’s me. Other Me. And how he seems to know exactly what to do with the not-autocook. Also the two children running circles around a central island counter. A pair of squealing fair-haired toddlers, one chasing the other. Then they reverse direction and the chased becomes the chaser.
Other Me is cooking food over the flames. Then the little girl—the chased, at the moment—falls face-first on the hard, stone floor.
Everything stops. Other Me rushes over to her as she starts to cry. He picks her up, hugging her to his chest, one