Read Desert World Rebirth Online
Authors: Lyn Gala
382 NE 191st Street #88329
Miami, FL 33179-3899, USA
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Desert World Rebirth
Copyright © 2012 by Lyn Gala
Cover Art by Justin James
Cover Design by Mara McKennen
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 382 NE 191st Street #88329, Miami, FL 33179-3899, USA
Printed in the United States of America
eBook edition available
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61372-349-4
This book is dedicated to everyone who has stood by me through difficult times—from the beta group who helped with both books to wonderfully supportive Facebook and LiveJournal communities, to my very supportive mother. E.L. Doctorow once said that writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia, so I definitely should thank all the people who put up with my brand of insanity and continue to love me despite it.
heard the door chime and nearly jumped out of his skin. Three months living in the relay station set deep in the Livre desert, and he still wasn’t used to some of the technology. Door chimes, for one. Another difference would be the sheer amount of space he lived in. In the church, he had privacy, time to search his own thoughts. However, there he was always aware of Div shuffling somewhere in the house or softly praying, his Latin drifting through the air. Livre houses were generally small, built to stand up against the desert wind. Here, silence reigned. The early settlers had built the station before the inner worlds had largely abandoned Livre to survive—or die—on its own.
Shan walked through the storage room to one of the five living spaces. Through the thick window, he could see a shadowed form moving in the bright Livre sunshine. Maybe he’d been living alone too long, because his mind went to Ista and to all the men and women who had tried to kill him… to the wealthy and beloved landowner Ben, who had shown his true colors when he raped Temar. Shan could forgive the murder attempt more easily than Ben’s willingness to rape. But considering that Ben and Ista and most of their co-conspirators were dead, fearing that they’d turn up here suggested that he
been alone a little too long.
Pushing aside irrational fears, Shan opened the door and smiled as he saw Temar standing in the light, his sand veil hanging around his neck.
“Temar!” Stepping forward, he caught Temar in a quick hug. “I thought you were off working your glass this week.” Temar often stopped by, running the long dunes to visit once or twice a week, but he’d already warned Shan that he wouldn’t be able to visit this week.
A flash of pain crossed Temar’s face, and he dropped his head down so that his shaggy blond hair hid his features.
“Temar?” Shan asked, his voice quieting.
Temar gave a shrug.
“Do you want to come in?” Shan took a step back to give Temar some room. He didn’t want to push him, not after what Ben had done. So if Shan’s cock sometimes ached with need, and if he sometimes lay in bed stroking himself while thinking of Temar, Shan wouldn’t physically crowd the man. He’d give Temar space to heal on his own.
With a small nod, Temar came into the station, passing through the room with the metal and plastic chairs and tables with the perfect lines and symmetrical bolts that Shan still found a little alien. When he and Temar had left the door open to pursue Ben, not even the wind and sand of the desert storm had left a mark on the sterile room. Shan was used to the curves of windwood, the uneven gaps formed by the twisted branches, and the way a truly great craftsman could make a piece curve with the human body. Every craftsman had his own style. Roget Ally from Landing created chairs and tables with small branches that intertwined so perfectly that the wood appeared to wrap around each other, as though in love. In comparison, these perfectly uniform chairs brought down by the drop ships that first brought settlers to Livre had no life.
Temar headed through the storage room, into the computer control room, and then through a door into the one living space Shan actually used. Heading for the couch, he dropped down and pulled his sand veil off, fingering the edges.
“What happened?” Shan asked, settling into a chair near enough that he could reach out to offer a comforting hand if needed.
For some time, Temar seemed to struggle with his emotions. Most times, Temar wasn’t an emotional man. The shyness clung to him, muffled his emotions, but right now, Shan could see the pain etched deep into his features. “Dee’eta hates me,” Temar finally confessed in a miserable voice.
Shan blew out a breath. He doubted that Dee’eta Sun’s feelings were as simple as hate. “Why do you say that?” Shan asked.
Leaning back, Temar stared up at the perfectly flat metal ceiling. “She can barely look at me. Three weeks into my apprenticeship, and my glass-master can’t even look me in the eye when showing me how to use the paddles to shape the piece. It’s the most uncomfortable place I’ve ever been.” Temar tilted his head and looked Shan right in the eye. “Ever,” he repeated. Given that Temar had once been trapped in Ben’s bed, a victim of both rape and a criminal justice system that had failed him, that was saying something.
Shan had been on the council that had sentenced Temar to a term of slavery after his vandalism had caused more damage than he could ever repay. Of course, he’d been following his sister’s attempts to play detective when it had happened. It hadn’t been fair, but Cyla had gone to an owner who trained her to work and Temar had gone to Ben, who had raped him and blackmailed him into not reporting it to the council. At least Shan could hold onto the fact that he had argued against slavery. Vehemently argued. Dee’eta didn’t have that luxury. She had to look at Temar and know that she’d played her part in sending him into that hell. “This can’t be easy for either of you,” Shan said, not entirely sure how to broach the subject of Dee’eta’s guilt when it had been Temar who had suffered the most.
“No, not really,” Temar said, his voice defeated. “I spent my entire childhood dreaming of an apprenticeship with her, and now that I have my dream, it’s not….” Temar sighed. “It’s not any good, Shan.”
“Is that why you left?”
“I screwed up. I cooled the punty too much, and when Dee’eta tried to transfer the glass, it slipped off and broke.”
“That happens with apprentices,” Shan reassured him. “When I apprenticed for Div, the very first sermon I gave I mixed up John and Paul and said something very stupid about the Book of Matthew. Luckily, I was so scared that I was preaching in a monotone that had put everyone to sleep by then.”
Temar looked at Shan seriously. “Did he yell at you?”
Shan smiled. “In a way, I suppose he did. With Div, yelling was done in this really soft, disappointed voice that made you want to crawl into a hole and pull the sand in over you.” He missed Div. Leaving the priesthood had been the right choice, no question. And when the councils had offered him a chance to finish his long-abandoned mechanics’ apprenticeship by studying the relay station systems and reading a hundred years’ worth of technical manuals, he’d jumped at the chance. However, he still missed Div. He missed talking to him over breakfast and that odd look Div gave him when Shan had done something desperately foolish. Shan imagined that was how a father should act—not that he had a lot of experience with good fathering.
“Dee’eta didn’t yell,” Temar said in a defeated tone. “She gave me one glance, and then she started lecturing on how to recycle scraps.”
Now Shan was confused. “So you didn’t leave over that, did you?”
“I did.” Temar practically leaped out of his seat and started pacing. Shan was more than confused now, but he held his tongue and waited for Temar to explain. Both Shan’s brother Naite and Temar had suffered terrible abuse, but unlike Naite, Temar did open up if you just gave him enough time and space to get the words together. However, this time it took longer than normal. He stalked the room, his fingers running over the smooth, rolled metal edges of the tables and shelves. He was a tactile man, and sometimes just fingering a well-made piece of glass would soothe him enough to start talking. Shan gave him that space.
Temar stopped at one of the few pieces of furniture Shan had insisted on bringing out—a windwood chest with intertwining branches that Roget Ally had made for Shan’s mother before she died. It was the only part of his father’s farm he’d saved when the man’s land and house were sold to pay his debts. Temar crouched down and let his long fingers dance over the intricate work and smooth joints. “How can she teach me if she’s so afraid of me that she can’t even tell me when I’m wrong?” he asked in a tired voice.
“She’s feeling guilty,” Shan said.
Temar turned and gave him an incredulous look. “Do you think I don’t know that?”
“I know you know it,” Shan said, “but maybe you—” Shan put his hand over his heart. “You and Naite know the pain of being hurt, but you need to know there’s a pain and guilt to being not hurt.” The moment he said that, he realized that it sounded incredibly rude. It sounded like he was dismissing Temar’s trauma, which wasn’t his intent.