The second installment in my Jak and Torrin, happy holiday novelette. Things are starting to get interesting for Torrin, and you know how much she just loooves that!
I’ll be posting Chapter 3 on Friday, December 16th.
Torrin pored over the list of figures on her screen, trying to force herself to concentrate. The cryostasis hangover was no worse than normal, but reading dry reports wasn’t helping.
The ride home had been uneventful. What took two days had passed in what seemed like mere hours to her and Nat. There had been no other cargo, so the final duties of their trip had been easy enough. Torrin had still insisted on putting Nat through the post-trip checklist. There was no sense in letting her slack off at this point, and besides Torrin was trying to deal with the blinding headache and mild shakes of her reaction to cryosleep. Nat handled it marginally better than she did, and besides, if she had an assistant she was bloody well going to take advantage of that. Beyond that, she needed to know, for her own peace of mind if nothing else, that Nat was ready for the responsibility. To her credit, Nat had complied without fussing, and had taken off as soon as it was obvious everything was in order.
They’d cut the trip close. Landing Day was only a few days away. For a while, Torrin had worried that her contacts wouldn’t come through in time, and that she would need to come up with another present for Jak. It was Jak’s very first Landing Day and their first as a couple. Torrin wanted to be an occasion neither of them would forget.
“Don’t forget about dinner at Irenya’s,” Torrin had called at Nat’s rapidly departing back in the space port. It was a yearly ordeal she’d done her best to avoid. Things were better between her and her mother since she’d brought Jak home. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, but if it was, Torrin wanted as much distraction as possible.
She’d received a raised hand as her only acknowledgment. Torrin wasn’t about to face their mothers alone, and besides she had surprises for everyone. This was going to be the best Landing Day ever.
Nat’s route and aggressive flying style had shaved about half a day off the return trip. As soon as Torrin finished with this last bit of work at the office, she’d be able to surprise her sweetie. After a few days’ absence, there was always work that needed her attention, but she wanted to be focusing on something else right now.
Torrin stared at the columns of numbers on the report. This part had hard enough to concentrate on without the competing promise of being in Jak’s arms. The curl of arousal at her center was a powerful distraction. She rubbed her eyes in an attempt to force herself to focus, but the problem wasn’t in her eyes, it was between her legs.
A little bit to take the edge off, that was what the situation called for. She undid the top fasteners on her jumpsuit. The shipsuit didn’t allow for easy access. She keyed shut the lock on the door from her console. It wouldn’t be the first time one of her partners happened upon her in a state of undress in the office, but it would be the first time she’d be the office’s sole occupant.
Cool air caressed the center of her chest, tightening her nipples to nearly painful points against the stiff fabric of her suit. Torrin reached inside and pinched one nipple while freeing the remaining fasteners, the ones that covered her true destination.
“Oh, Jak,” Torrin whispered to the empty office. She kept her voice down. The walls back here weren’t nearly thick enough to cut down on noise between the partners’ offices. Nothing untoward ever happened in Mac’s office, but she’d had a front row seat for more than one of Audra’s assignations. One day Audra would slow down, but that day showed no sign of being imminent.
She pulled on her nipple, tugging hard. In her mind’s eye, Jak had her lips wrapped around the sensitive flesh and was biting down. Her eyes looked up into Torrin’s, carefully gauging how hard to bite. A flash of pleasure shivered through her belly into her groin.
“That’s it, baby,” Torrin breathed. “You know what I need.” She slid her hand down the front of her pants, letting her fingertips skate over flesh swollen and wet with need. From the copious amounts of wetness, it had been five months, not a mere five days since she’d last seen her lover.
“Show me what you got.” Jak’s voice rang out loud and clear.
Torrin had her legs open before she realized the directive hadn’t come from her dream lover.
“I think you’ll be pleased.” Audra’s voice filtered more softly through the wall. “She did her best for you.”
“I just hope her best was good enough,” Jak said. “I was clear in my instructions.”
What on Nadi is going on over there? Torrin got up and pressed her ear to the wall her office shared with Audra’s. Who the hell is doing their best for my woman? If Torrin found out who the mysterious woman was, she would break her thumbs, then she would stop being nice.
They must have moved away from the wall. Torrin couldn’t make out anything useful, only muffled murmurs. She debated fiercely with herself. She had to find out what was going on.
And yet… The conversation had been so vague as to be meaningless. If she burst in on them now, it would look as if she didn’t trust either woman. Neither Jak nor Audra would ever betray her, of that she was certain. So what was left? Curiosity, and the burning need to be certain she wasn’t about to be betrayed.
Stop that, she said sternly to herself. Someone who is about to leave you wouldn’t be planning their life with you. They wouldn’t be taking on even more responsibility. And you know how seriously Jak takes her obligations. It was true. The idea of a disloyal Jak was an oxymoron right up there with the League’s Office of Naval Intelligence. Though now that she thought about planning their life together, when Jak wanted to talk about their future, Torrin had been dodging the subject.
This wasn’t getting her anywhere. Torrin took a couple deep breaths to bring her blood pressure back down to something more reasonable. Her errant libido well and truly quelled, at least for the time being, she did up her jumpsuit.
The discussion between Audra and Jak continued a little longer.
“Thank your woman for me,” Jak finally said. “I think this is exactly what I need.”
“She’ll be pleased to hear that. What are you up to now?”
Exactly what she needs? Torrin wracked her brain for what that could mean. A sex toy, maybe? She already had a large collection, and surely Jak knew she could talk to her if she needed something else. Jak was rather hesitant when it came to discussing sex-related topics, though. She sometimes verged on prudish. Best to handle this carefully is that was the case.
“I’m going to head out on a quick hunt. It’ll give me something to do until Torrin gets home.”
“Should I send her after you if she gets in early?”
Audra knew very well Torrin was already back. She’d stopped by her partner’s office to say hello when she’d gotten in. She was up to something, as usual.
“That would be great.” The excitement in Jak’s voice was impossible to misunderstand.
Torrin couldn’t help the smile that stretched across her cheeks in response to the one she heard in Jak’s voice.
She could have stopped Jak when she left Audra’s office, but Torrin wasn’t about to admit to eavesdropping on their conversation. There was no reason to give Jak the wildly inaccurate impression that Torrin didn’t trust her.
So she waited. And waited. Jak might have left Audra’s office, but Torrin could hear her as she stopped and chatted with various women in the office. For all that Jak thought of herself as socially awkward and a loner, she’d made many friends since moving permanently to Nadierzda. Torrin wondered if Jak knew how charming she was. Probably not. If she did, she wouldn’t be so effortlessly endearing.
It had been a few minutes since Torrin had been able to make out Jak’s voice over the low hum of the office’s environmental systems. To be on the safe side, she stuck her head out the door and looked around. If Jak was still in the building, she was somewhere among the cubicles of Troika Corp.’s outer office.
Torrin knocked lightly on Audra’s door.
“Come on in,” Audra said cheerily.
“What are you and Jak up to?” Torrin came right out and asked the question on the forefront of her mind. There was no point in beating around the bush with Audra.
“I don’t know what you mean.” Audra blinked innocently up at Torrin. She leaned back in her desk chair. “Just like I don’t know what you were up to on Chaurus Station the past few days.”
“Ugh, Chaurus.” Torrin pressed her lips together at the reminder.
“What’s wrong?” Audra sat straight up, the teasing twinkle gone from her eyes. She looked ready to take on the galaxy on Torrin’s behalf.
“They had my info on file.”
“Oh no! Any warrant info?”
“None, thankfully.” Torrin dropped onto the couch that took up one side of the office. “Looks like I’m well and truly grounded. If a place like Chaurus has my specs, then there likely isn’t anywhere else that doesn’t.”
“I’m sorry, Torrin. I really am.”
“It’s not like I wasn’t expecting it.” Torrin ran her hand through her hair, a habit she’d picked up from Jak. It worked better when she wasn’t wearing a ponytail. “Damn Mori. I didn’t think she’d move this quickly.”
“I don’t doubt that we scooped some inner world merchant clan who had their eyes on Haefen. It probably kicked up the chain when Jak’s home world was taken off the table.”
“Maybe.” It didn’t change much, whatever the reason.
“So now what?”
“I find other ways to keep myself occupied, I guess. It’s not all bad. Jak and I have all the time in the world now. We can settle in and play house.” Parts of that didn’t sound completely dull. Playing house had some intriguing connotations. They hadn’t talked much about their future since getting back from Haefen six months previous. The time had been mostly spent getting Jak into a regular groove, and helping Nat readjust. That and Torrin had changed the subject whenever Jak brought it up.
“I meant about the smuggling side of our business.”
Audra’s dry clarification pulled Torrin out of daydreams of Jak with a baby at her breast. She stopped herself from looking down to see if she had one there too.
“Oh.” Torrin blushed. Audra cocked her head and stared at her, both eyebrows raised. Her face got even hotter. There was no reason for her to be embarrassed, not that Audra knew. If Audra could read Torrin’s mind, she would be rolling on the floor. “Nat will take that on.” She waved a hand vaguely in Audra’s direction.
“I know you were thinking about her in that capacity. Is she up to it?”
“I think so. It’ll be good for her. I’m planning on telling her over the holiday.”
“So long as you think she can handle it.”
“She’s tougher now than she ever was.” Torrin smiled sadly. “No one should ever have to deal with what she did, but I think she’s over the worst of it.”
“If you say so.”
“So what were you and Jak up to?” Audra hadn’t been the one to change the subject, Torrin had done that, but that didn’t mean she would let it go.
Audra simply smiled.
“Never mind, I’ll find out myself.”
“Do you need me to tell you where Jak went.”
“I think I can find her myself. I do have ways of tracking down information, you know. I am a trained professional.” One who’d heard as much as she needed to through the walls of their offices.
“All right then.” Audra’s eyes were so crinkled from amusement at the corners that they’d almost disappeared.
“Have a good Landing Day if I don’t see you before then.”
“And a safe Landing to you too, Torrin.” Audra threw her arms around Torrin’s ribcage and squeezed mightily.
Torrin’s return hug was no less heartfelt, though not as bone-breaking.
She returned to her office and powered down the console without taking another look at the columns of numbers that still awaited her on the screen. They could wait. She had more important things to attend to.