Title: To See the Sun
Author: Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: August 13th 2018
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Western
Page Count: Print – 243 pages. Ebook – 295 pages.
Survival is hard enough in the outer colonies—what chance does love have?
Life can be harsh and lonely in the outer colonies, but miner-turned-farmer Abraham Bauer is living his dream, cultivating crops that will one day turn the unforgiving world of Alkirak into paradise. He wants more, though. A companion—someone quiet like him. Someone to share his days, his bed, and his heart.
Gael Sonnen has never seen the sky, let alone the sun. He’s spent his whole life locked in the undercity beneath Zhemosen, running from one desperate situation to another. For a chance to get out, he’ll do just about anything—even travel to the far end of the galaxy as a mail-order husband. But no plan of Gael’s has ever gone smoothly, and his new start on Alkirak is no exception. Things go wrong from the moment he steps off the shuttle.
Although Gael arrives with unexpected complications, Abraham is prepared to make their relationship work—until Gael’s past catches up with them, threatening Abraham’s livelihood, the freedom Gael gave everything for, and the love neither man ever hoped to find.
Bram pushed up from the table. “I’m going to make tea. Want some?”
“I can make it.”
“Sit. I didn’t ship you all the way out here to wait on me.”
“What did you ship me out here for?”
Bram didn’t answer, and the question burned the back of his neck as he performed the mundane task of making the tea. He selected an herbal blend, his favorite, and spooned desiccated leaves, fruit peel, and flower heads into the diffusing chamber at the center of a battered metal pot. He could program the beverage machine, but he preferred to make tea the old-fashioned way. Leaves and hot water. Sometimes the process of a thing was as important as the result.
He reached toward the shelf of mugs and stopped as a hand touched his shoulder. Warm breath ghosted across the cooling skin at the back of his neck, reigniting his blush. Bram let his fingers catch on the edge of the shelf and rest there, and tipped his head forward. Gael moved closer, the heat of his body evident now as he leaned in.
Lips met the back of his neck in a soft kiss. A small quake shifted the muscles beneath Bram’s skin, his body making ready to turn. He held still a moment longer before following another long-held urge, turning slowly—so slowly—until they were face to face. Well, until his mouth was level with Gael’s forehead. Bram pressed a kiss there, one as gentle as the touch of lips to the back of his neck.
“I didn’t bring you out here for this, either,” he murmured.
“Yes, you did.”
Bram took hold of Gael’s slim shoulders. “Not just this.” And not like this.
In answer, Gael lifted his face, offering up his mouth. Bram’s resolve lasted about a second longer than he thought it might before he bent to taste those lips. They’d been interrupted twice now. No longer.
Gael’s lips were so soft, melting beneath his, opening—though Bram didn’t take the invitation right away. He kissed both lips, together and separately. He tasted them, the scent of Gael mingling with the bitter tang of the outside air. Gael made a small sound: a whimper or a moan. Bram deepened the kiss, still resisting the temptation of Gael’s tongue. He didn’t want to fall all in, lose himself.
Then he was there, falling, his lips and hands operating independently of thought. He craved the warmth of Gael’s skin and wanted to compare it to the feel of his tongue. See if he moved the same way—gently, teasingly. Gael seemed as wrapped up in the kiss as Bram. He shifted, constantly, swaying into Bram, hooking his hands into the back pockets of Bram’s work pants.
Blood shot south to pulse in his cock, leaving Bram in that almost-forgotten state of arousal—somewhere between thought and thoughtlessness. He teetered there, reveling in the anticipation, and let his imagination roam. Oh, to touch Gael’s skin, to taste him. To hear the sounds he’d make when aroused, when brought to climax, when drifting in the aftermath. Would he be loud? Would he be shy and sweet?
A soft click sounded behind him. The tea. Blinking as though roused from a dream, Bram pulled back. Gael leaned in immediately, following him. He kissed Bram’s neck and ground his hips forward. Bram tugged Gael’s hands from his pockets, regret making his movements clumsy.
Gael tipped his head back. “What are you doing?”
“The tea is ready.”
One long, slow blink. “What?”
“The tea.” Bram was still holding Gael’s hands, and stupidly, he didn’t want to let go. But he did so he could turn and collect the mugs. Pick up the pot.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“Then why did we stop?”
Bram had to consider his answer because he didn’t really know, not in a way he could express in words. It would have been so easy to keep going. To have had something fast and dirty in the kitchen, or to have picked Gael up and carried him to the bedroom.
Gael followed him into the HV room and sat beside him on the couch. Waited quietly while Bram poured the tea and handed over one of the mugs. Picking up the other mug, Bram thought a little more. Wrapped his fingers around the warm composite of ceramic and plastic and searched for just the right words.
“We’ve got time.” Bram raised the mug to his lips, but decided the tea was still too hot to take a sip. “Doesn’t all have to happen in one night.”
MEET GAEL AND BRAM
For me, every book starts with my characters and the journey they’re going to take. To See the Sun started a little differently. First, I had a trope I wanted to explore—mail-order husband—and then I had a world to build, one that where I could tell my story without having to resort to trickery. A world where one lonely man could choose another to love without fear. Then I thought about my characters.
It’s a different approach for me and as a result, Gael and Bram are probably shaped more by their environment than who I needed them to be. Their respective journeys are important, though, and after I chose them for this story, I immediately reverted to my usual process of figuring out who they are, what they want, and how they plan to get it.
For Gael, what he wants is to get out of Zhemosen, the City Without End. He’s been indebted to the Trass family for ten years and has begun to realize—or perhaps appreciate is a better term—that no matter what tasks he performs for them, he’ll never be free. In fact, as he continues to prove how unsuitable he is to the Trass brand of business, he’s sliding deeper into debt.
To put Gael in this situation, I needed him to willingly let the net close—and with good reason. So I gave Gael a brother, one who relied on him and needed him more than Gael needed to be free. Sadly, Gael’s brother dies before the beginning of the book, but his legacy continues. When Gael meets a young girl named Aavi, it’s inevitable that he will take her in. His need to serve others, to protect them, is the cornerstone of his personality. It’s the motivation behind nearly everything he does in To See the Sun.
In opposition to Gael’s enormous mental fortitude, I decided to make him a slight figure. His slimness is a reflection of the deprivation of his youth, but I also wanted him to be delicate. I wanted Bram to regard him as precious—to be overtaken by the need to wrap Gael up in his arms and keep him safe.
So who is Bram, besides the man Gael will run to? Bram is… He’s a farmer and a poet, and what he wants, more than anything else, is someone to love and raise a family with. It sort of breaks my heart to write those words, because it makes Bram sound as if he’s a terribly lonely man. He is and he isn’t.
Bram is an incredibly practical dude and I loved writing that aspect of him. He has proverbial patience and he’s good through to his core. He is almost perfectly suited to the harsh environment of Alkirak—possessed of an enviable ability to see beauty in the most desolate places.
There is a reason Bram is alone, however, outside the fact a planet full of fractious miners isn’t necessarily a great place to meet The One. Bram is shy. He’s also very good at avoiding intimacy, having few close friends. And he’s adorably naïve, which is how one of my favorite scenes in the book came about: the moment when Bram stumbles up against the difference of choosing a companion online, and the reality of Gael, a man he doesn’t really know.
In contrast to Gael, I made Bram a large man. He’s not huge, he’s just big. He spent thirty years carving rock out of asteroids, after all. He’s muscled and gruff and very plain spoken. But take a peek beneath his crusty exterior and you’ll find the sweetest man alive. I like to pose challenges for my characters, but for this story, I really needed Gael to end up in arms that not only could envelop him in the very best sort of hug, but with a man inclined to offer such hugs in the first place.
A lot of what I’ve written about To See the Sun makes reference to how romantic it is, and I’ll mention it again here. I didn’t expect this book to be so sweet. Gael is on the run from a crime lord and most of the action takes place on a barely habitable planet. But it’s because of these things that Gael and Bram became who they are—two people who need each other more than they, or I could have guessed. It’s a love story like no other.
If you’d like to see more visual inspiration for Gael, Bram, and the planet of Alkirak visit my Pinterest board for To See the Sun.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
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