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By Kelly Jensen
Lonely Shore is the second book in the Chaos Station series. It’s the part of Felix and Zander’s story where they’re supposed to deal with past issues and start thinking about a future together, all while dodging the machinations of a criminal cartel and dealing with the repercussions of a galactic war. Due to his involvement in that war, Zander might not have a future… and Felix would rather avoid thinking about the past.
This book will always be special. While writing Felix’s half of the story, I had to explore grief, and how a man who may very well be broken beyond repair might deal with the possible death of his lover. In shaping Felix’s journey, I drew inspiration from the title, which is taken from perhaps one of the best known verses of Byron’s epic poem, “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.”
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.
The poem is about a world weary young man looking for the meaning existence or, more simply, distraction from his own life. In Lonely Shore, Felix is quite literally left on a lonely shore. The war took nearly everything, and he may have lost the one thing he has left. He’s on the same journey as Childe Harold, but on a much deeper level, and it is only in looking out, at the world around him, that Felix finds a reason to continue.
All they can do is live day to day…
Felix Ingesson has returned to his duties as the Chaos‘s engineer with Zander Anatolius, his ex-boyfriend-turned-broken-super-soldier, at his side. Hope means something again. But there’s nothing Felix can do to battle the alien poison flowing through Zander’s veins, or his imminent mental decline. With each passing day, the side effects of Zander’s experimental training are becoming more difficult to ignore.
When the ruthless Agrius Cartel seeks their revenge—including an ambush and an attempt to kidnap the Chaos’s crew—Zander is pushed over the edge. He can no longer hide his symptoms, nor does he want to. But hurting Felix when he’s not in control of himself is Zander’s worst nightmare—when it nearly happens, he agrees to seek help. Even if that means trusting the unknown.
As Zander places his life in alien hands, Felix appoints himself his lover’s keeper. And though he tries to be strong, he can’t ignore the fact that he might lose Zander…forever this time.
Lonely Shore Excerpt
Moisture beaded the bottom of the clear substance that formed the bubble of their accommodations. Outside, mist writhed in murky tendrils, obscuring the view of the beach. How long had he been staring outside without realizing he could see nothing? Nothing but the vague reflection of his own face and now, the shadow of the man standing behind him.
A hand wrapped around his shoulder, warm but tentative. Felix tried not to flinch. He was so tight, every muscle held rigid, that it would probably hurt. Tear something. The ever-familiar scent of Zed wafted forward and Felix squashed the instinct to turn and bury his face in his chest, lose himself in a circle of strong arms. Zed needed him to be the sturdy one, the capable one, though surely the weight of a feather could break him—a gentle tap at the back of his spine would burst the balloon of grief he’d been carrying within since the night Zed had Zoned in his sleep.
His neck no longer hurt. The angry red marks had been evidence more of Zed’s struggle not to kill him, Nessa had said. Rather than crush Felix’s neck, he’d twisted his palm over skin, leaving more of a rash than a bruise. Even deep in the Zone and apparently deluded, Zed had not wanted to hurt him, not truly. The fear of that night lingered, however. So often over the past week, Felix had found himself jerking away from unexpected touches. That the pain of his reaction did not always reflect in Zed’s eyes only made it all worse.
Ignoring Zed now would hurt both of them, stupidly. He had to turn and face his lover and his nemesis.
As he turned, Zed’s hand slipped from his shoulder to hang in space as if he didn’t know what to do with it. Felix traced his fingers over the veins across Zed’s wrist, then tangled their fingers together, forming a small contact. He would wait for his skin to stop twitching before moving closer. He’d wait to see if Zed remained present.
“How was your nap?” The shot of whatever Rhyniche had administered had, indeed, made Zed sleepy. Rest was a good thing, though. They’d figured that out on the way to Ashie Prime. Nearly a week without any excuse to Zone—Agrius had yet to figure out how to ambush them in j-space—had given all of them a chance to relax.
“Good.” Zed squeezed his hand and let go—not to move away, but so he could move closer. Why was it so hard not to flinch? “How long was I out?”
Felix couldn’t answer the question without checking the time on his bracelet. “Three hours.” He’d been standing in front of the window for three hours? No wonder his legs felt like rusted iron bars.
Zed’s rough palm cupped his cheek. “Tell me you didn’t stand by the window for three hours.”
“I didn’t stand by the window for three hours.”
Get Lonely Shore
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.