Please enjoy this sneak peek into Star Runners: Dark Space.
"Where have you been?"
Josh shrugged as he trudged through the doorway of Kadyn's apartment. "I'm sorry. I lost track of time."
"It's okay,” she said as he strolled into the kitchen. "I thought you wanted to go to the movies this afternoon."
He tossed his keys on the counter and glanced at the clock on the microwave. "Guess I'm a little late for that. We could still go tonight."
"That's fine," she said, tilting her head to the side. "Are you all right?"
"Sure," he said, leaning back on the counter and drinking a bottled water. "Why?"
She bit her lip. "I thought you said you were meeting Austin for breakfast."
He winced. "Oh, right."
Kadyn eyed him. "I called to check on Ryker this morning and imagine my surprise when Austin answered their phone."
And there it is, he thought. So much for his secrecy.
"I don't mean to hide things from you," he said, taking a deep breath. "I really don't."
"Is there someone else?"
"What?" He shook his head. "Never. Why would you say that?"
She looked at the ceiling. "You're always distracted—you've been like that since you returned. But you've never done this to me."
"Done what? Been late?"
"Lied to me," she said, locking her eyes on him. "We've been recovering together since you first approached me at the clinic. I always felt like we were a team until now. Something's changed."
"Listen," he said, reaching for her hands, "I made a promise to—"
"Don't." She pulled her hand away. "I don't want to hear any more about promises and keeping your word. What about your promise to me?"
“You said you'd always be here." She pointed out the window toward the overcast sky. "But now you want to go back up there? How do I know you'll ever return?"
"It's just to take a ship back."
She shook her head. "It's not just about returning a ship. I've seen you staring at the stars. I've seen the longing in your eyes when you look at the images of those space planes on the game. You wantto be back up there. I'm not enough for you here."
"Don't say that."
"This life's not enough for you," she said as if he hadn't spoken. "Don't try to tell me that's not true."
He sighed and moved toward the window. They stood in silence, neither looking at the other.
"You're right about one thing," he breathed, "I don't feel right.”
“Talk to someone.”
“I’ve been to the counselors. I've tried their exercises, taken their sleep aides. Still, I have nightmares."
"But I have them, too," she said, placing her hand on his back. "You know that. I haven't had an uninterrupted night's sleep since Austin woke me up and took me to the mountains.”
He turned to face her, framing his hands around her face. "If I don't do this, I'll never be any good for you. Please understand."
She closed her eyes. "It's not about honor. It's because you can't let it go. I feel it all the time, too."
He pushed a strand of hair away from her eyes. "What do you mean?"
She looked at him with bloodshot eyes. "You can't unsee what you've seen just like I can't go back to a time when men in invisible suits weren't shooting at me. I wish I could, but I can't. I want to go back to a time when my biggest worries were binge-watching TV or reading celebrity gossip, but I can't. Those days are gone." Squeezing his hands, she pulled them away from her face. "And I don't think they'll ever come back."
Sliding her feet across the carpet leading to her bedroom, she kicked off her shoes and stood in the doorway without turning around.
"We thought we could come back here and this life would be enough for us," she murmured, "but it isn't. You can't let it go, and I can't get over it. All I want is to forget the things I know. All you want is to go back and face them. Do what you have to do, Josh, but leave me out of it."
He wanted to say more, but he couldn't find the words.
She took a step into her room, shutting the door behind her.
Star Runners: Dark Space is now available for pre-order and will release on August 3!