We had a problem. Or, I did. As I watched the Gwinarian walk up the docking ramp, I knew without a doubt that this stretch of Kithra time would be hell. Something was already brewing between Kol and me, but one look at this guy had my mouth watering.
I glanced at Kol to see if he'd noticed. He wasn't taking his eyes off the Gwinarian either.
Not that I blamed Kol. The humanoid alien was taller than us, lean like me and he moved with the grace of a dancer. His hair--that Gwinarian rust red that humans paid a fortune to copy--hung loose and long. His grin was friendly, his amber gaze direct. He strolled up the ramp with a bag slung over one shoulder, somehow managing to bring brightness to the air despite the gun metal gray surroundings of the noisy supply station. A hovercraft zoomed past, an old model that spit out oily fumes. I waved a hand at the smoke so it didn't mar my sight of the alien. I'd only met one Gwinarian in the past and she'd been like this. Bright. Chipper. Gorgeous.
She'd gotten on my every damn nerve while we'd been at the academy together.
This male picked at altogether different nerves. I didn't squirm, but I did hold my breath, then let it out when he met my gaze. My first impression, after getting past the pretty, was he possessed a very, very strong will. I'd never seen amber eyes before and I knew I was staring like an idiot, but that direct gaze showed me in no uncertain terms that he considered no one above him in rank. And he didn't run his eyes down my body, though the roguish grin I'd noticed first made me think he'd be one of those types.
And oh man, I wouldn't mind getting wild with this guy.
His friendliness took a backseat as his gaze went to Kol, his expression turning serious. "Kol." He nodded at the other man.
Kol hadn't moved, hadn't spoken. He drew in a ragged breath, so I whipped my head around to find him leaning against the wall, his normally dark skin kind of pasty-looking.
"Egan," he whispered.
I waited, but neither man spoke more than that, just stood and stared at each other. All thoughts of partying fled my mind as worry rushed in. I didn't know Egan, but I did know Kol and whoever this man was, he wasn't someone Kol wanted to see. "You two apparently know each other and it looks like we got a problem."
Egan didn't look at me, gaze still locked on Kol. "There won't be a problem, right Kol?"
Without warning, Kol flew off the wall to crash into Egan. The taller man's head slammed onto the edge of the open hatch. He didn't seem inclined to fight back and instead something gut wrenching passed through his eyes as he grabbed Kol's arms to keep from falling.
Kol looked like he was struggling to find words and I couldn't breathe, could only stand there, frozen, and watch as years-old, heavy emotions ripped through both men.
"You're alive." Kol bit the words through clenched teeth. He wrapped one hand around the Gwinarian's throat and I knew the alien could easily fight Kol off. Why didn't he? That curiosity kept me standing with my back to the cold metal wall. Waiting. I was used to being captain, to settling disputes, giving orders. There would be no captains on this trip. We all held the same rank in the Company. Of course, if they started duking it out, I'd dive in and help.
"If you'd pull your hand off my throat and give me a few minutes to explain?" Egan lifted one hand and slid it onto Kol's neck. It was an obvious caress. Kol's black hair had come loose and it fell around the Gwinarian's hand even as Kol closed his eyes.
Holy shit. Had they been lovers?