Join Prism Book Alliance® as Kelly Jensen goes Outside the Margins today.
Chaos Station was released two years ago today! As with all anniversaries, I can’t quite believe it was only two years ago and yet it sometimes feels like yesterday. Time is weird, eh? What I will always remember clearly, however, is the joy of writing this book with Jenn and breathing life into characters I adored.
Felix began life as “Iain.” Iain was cheerier, but actually quite a bit darker than Felix. I roleplayed Iain for nearly three years opposite Aedan, a character created by Jenn Burke. The guys started as childhood friends. The best of friends, though they had their ups and downs: the difference in their station, meddling siblings, the pressures of their careers and that one girl they both thought they were in love with. (For the record, Iain had her first. Aedan stole her. Sort of.)
They were separated by war and reunited at a point when each through the other was dead. Writing their reunion was pretty emotional. Jenn and I had spent months writing their adolescence, building to a moment that was somewhat scripted. Roleplaying is a lot like planning a novel, though. You can plan an outcome, but you’ll only get there if your characters are on board. After some drama, the guys decided to head aboard for a year—ostensibly on a diplomatic mission for Aedan’s noble family. They basically drank and womanized their way across an entire continent and it wasn’t until they returned home, and Iain was seduced by another man, that Aedan decided he was in love with his best friend and wanted them to be more.
All up, we roleplayed nearly twenty years of these guys’ lives. From childhood to marriage and kids. It was an amazing journey and once we got to the point where we didn’t want to mess with their HEA, it was hard to let go. So we didn’t. We rerolled the characters, renaming them, building new but similar backstories and a world all their own. Two hundred and fifty years in the future, this time. Then we started again.
You can never tell the same story twice, so Felix and Zed’s journey deviated from the very first book, but the emotional connection Jenn and I had to these characters never wavered.
To celebrate the second anniversary of Chaos Station, the first book in the series, I have an excerpt and a giveaway to share with you. The excerpt is from the second chapter, soon after Zed has walked back into Felix’s life. Understandably, Felix is reeling. For more excerpts from the Chaos Station series, visit our website at: http://www.chaosstation.com/extras
The giveaway is called “Complete Your Set.” Have you started the series, but not finished it yet? Don’t own all the books? Don’t have any of them? Haven’t even heard of Chaos Station (eek!). Here’s your chance to read all the way through!
Title: Chaos Station
Author: Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: 03/02/2015
Cover Artist: Carina Press
“You’re not real. Felix Ingesson is dead.”
The war with the alien stin is over, but Felix Ingesson has given up on seeing his lover, Zander Anatolius, ever again. Zander’s military file is sealed tighter than an airlock. A former prisoner of war, Felix is attempting a much quieter life keeping his ship, the Chaos, aloft. He almost succeeds, until Zander walks on board and insists that Felix isn’t real.
A retired, broken super soldier, Zander is reeling from the aftereffects of his experimental training and wants nothing more than to disappear and wait for insanity to claim him. Then he sees footage of a friend and ally—a super soldier like him—murdering an entire security squad with her bare hands and a cold, dead look in her eyes. He never expected to find Felix, the man he’d thought dead for years, on the ship he hired to track her down.
Working with Felix to rescue his teammate is a dream come true…and a nightmare. Zander has no exit strategy that will leave Felix unscathed—or his own heart unbroken.
Ears roaring, Felix looked up from the man sprawled across the floor of the mess. Absurdly, he felt like saying “I’m not dead.” But Elias knew that. Elias had been one of the men to bring him back from near-death. Twice.
Felix shook his head slowly. By the second gentle swing, he acknowledged the fact his thoughts would not clear until after he talked to Zed. And that was Zed on the floor, one hand stretched out across the loosened refrigerator panel. Throat tightening, Felix studied him again, noting the smudges beneath closed eyes, the furrows marking his forehead—even in repose—the hollows of his cheeks, the cords in his neck. Zander had always been a large man and he still was, but drawn, like a shadow of his former self. A darker, angrier copy.
A warm hand cupped his shoulder. Felix glanced up at Elias and thought about folding himself against his friend’s chest. He’d never do it, never had. But he thought about it sometimes, when he needed someone, when he needed…
Cradling his wrist awkwardly with his gloved hand, Felix turned from Elias and Zed and slid into the booth that served as the mess dining table. He breathed out and stretched his wrist across the scratched surface to give himself something to look at, something other than the man on the floor.
Oh my God. Zander Anatolius.
“He thought I was dead.”
“Who is he?” Elias asked, sliding into the booth on the opposite side.
A creep across the back of his scalp warned Felix not to give out Zed’s full name. Holographic letters pulsed in his memory: Access Denied. Zed’s whereabouts had been shrouded in AEF secrecy until seven months ago, when he’d been all over the newscasts. The galaxy labeled him a hero, some said he’d ended the war. He had still been impossible to contact, and then he’d disappeared completely. Now he’d rolled up using an alias to broker passage on a run-down corvette with a third-class crew.
“What did he want?” Felix asked. “What’s the job?”
Elias leaned across the table and gently wrapped his fingers around Felix’s wrist, just above the ring of scars that spoke of a much older injury. “Who is he, Felix?”
“An old friend.” His oldest. “We…” Felix shook his head again. It was just too unreal. “We went to school together.”
Elias’s dark brows rose. “Really?” He then frowned at the man on the floor. “And he thought you were dead? Galaxy ain’t that big.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m wondering what kind of friend gives up on a man who was captured by the enemy, tortured, imprisoned—”
Felix pulled his wrist from beneath Elias’s hand. “Eli, don’t.” He didn’t want to go there. All that mattered was that he had lived and recovered. Mostly.
“You exist, is all I’m sayin’. Something’s off. He offers us twice what we made on our last trace as a down payment, invites himself aboard, calls you a dead man and tries to break your wrist?” Elias wrinkled his nose and scoffed, the silent “What the fuck, man” echoing across the mess.
Felix shoved his right hand into his tangle of blond curls. He peered past his wrist at Elias. “Twice our last trace as a down payment?” That would be about two hundred thousand credits, which meant, yep, the man on the floor was definitely Zander Anatolius, son of the man who owned the space station where they were currently docked…and about two dozen others. Humanity’s expansion into the galaxy owed a lot to Anatolius Industries, the pioneers of the sorts of space stations that were more miniature planets than just workspaces. Each Anatolius station might have its own culture and general purpose, but the philosophy behind them all was the same: they were home.
Damn it, he hadn’t thought about stations like that in ages. Probably since back at the Academy, with Zed waxing poetic about his family’s legacy—always focusing on the philosophy and never on the piles and piles of credits stashed in the family’s bank accounts.
Felix didn’t want to think about the money Zed had offered Elias, which they sorely needed. He didn’t want to think about Zed, either, but knew that he would. Even if Zed woke up, walked out the door and disappeared into the press of Dardanos Station, Felix would think about him. Not for four years, as he had after they graduated from Shepard Academy. Or for more than eight after their five-day reunion, which had ended with an exchange of stupid, naïve promises. Nope, this time—if the pattern held—it would be sixteen goddamned years until fate tossed a coin and Zander crossed his path again.
“You don’t look so good, Fix.”
Felix met Elias’s concerned gaze. “I don’t feel so good. I…” How could he possibly explain what the man on the floor meant to him? That he’d already loved and lost him twice, and had never expected to see him again. That he almost didn’t want to see him again because of what it would mean. They weren’t meant to be. Pain tugging at his heart, Felix dipped his forehead toward the table. The mild chill of the surface seeped into his skin, sending a shiver down his spine. “What’s the job?” he mumbled.
“Wants us to track an AEF bounty.”
Felix jerked his head back up. “He…what?”
Elias pushed his wallet across the table. He unfolded the flexible square of murky white and tapped the bottom half. A holographic image appeared over the top half, a captured frame from a newscast. “This AEF bounty.”
The cool spot on his forehead pulsed. “Shit.”
“You know her.”
Felix let his head drop down again, his forehead smacking into the table. “’Nother old friend.”
He hadn’t seen Emma Katze since graduation from the Academy. Twelve years, or close to it. Felix had never expected to see her again, either. She’d been disappeared along with Zed about the same time Felix had packed himself into a shipping container in a bid to escape a stin POW colony. It made sense she would step back into his life on the same day Zed did.
“Does she think you’re dead?”
“Prolly.” His mouth didn’t want to work properly.
“Why is there a large man laid out across the floor?”
Felix squeezed his eyes shut and willed his ears to close against the sound of Nessa’s voice.
“He’s all right, Ness,” Elias said.
“He’s out cold!”
“You left him on the floor?”
“In case you hadn’t noticed, he’s kinda big.”
“Is this our client?”
“Is that…” Nessa’s voice dropped down toward the floor. “Elias, why is there a bruise on his jaw? Did Fixer hit him?”
Hoarse laughter jolted out of Felix’s throat. Squinting into the tabletop, he concentrated on pointing the index finger of his gloved hand at Elias. “Eli did it.”
“He got all crazy on us, nearly broke Fixer’s wrist.”
Felix peered over the edge of the table. Nessa knelt over Zed with an expression of cool focus. She glanced up. “Are we keeping him?”
More mad laughter tickled his throat.
Elias nudged his folded arm. “What do you say, Fix? Should we dump him on the dock and fly off with the loot or drag his sorry ass to the med bay?”
A part of him wanted to go with Plan A because Plan B might invite him to crawl into the med bay to curl up next to the man he’d loved like no other. His throat and chest constricted. Years of effort to rebuild his life, brick by solid brick, felt poised to crumble.
But a promise was a promise and he’d given his most heartfelt to Zander Anatolius. They would always be best friends, even if one was supposed to be dead and the other had been buried so deeply beneath the weight of AEF secrecy, he might as well be dead.
Then there was Emma Katze.
God help me.
“Put in him the med bay.”
About Kelly Jensen
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. A lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes 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.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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