Fleeing from a troubled past that left him feeling tarnished and used, Sean finds work as a medic aboard the deep sea mining ship Ariel, on a distant planet.
Under the leader ship of the infuriating, yet charismatic, Captain Joel Riley, Sean settles into his simple, but dangerous, new life. It’s a life he soon comes to love; albeit one in which he conceals his sexuality and avoids intimacy.
But Sean’s new world is turned on its head when an old face threatens to expose him for the man he used to be.
With Joel’s help, will Sean learn to come to terms with his past and become a man he can be proud of?
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Joel Riley was a difficult captain to work under, and for his first season in the Deep, Sean was pretty sure he despised the man. But another season in he’d grown accustomed to the captain’s volatile temper and inability to compromise. Joel had been a miner all his life, born on Titan to a family of miners. He had the sea in his veins and Ariel was his heart. There was a confidence to Joel that drew the crew to him and an arrogance that kept him slightly out of reach. Rugged, strong, and built for hard labor, he was the exact opposite of Sean—and yet of all the crew, Sean felt closest to Joel. Sean understood the captain’s approach, his passions, and he trusted the older man with his life.
“Captain, is everything all right?” Sean said from the entrance.
Joel jumped, knocking his knees on the control board. “Jesus, boy! What you doing creeping around in the middle of the night?”
“I wasn’t creeping,” Sean said.
“Skulking around, spying on people, and you reckon that’s not creeping,” Joel grumbled.
Sean thought better of continuing into an argument. If Joel’s mood was testy they were going to go around in circles annoying each other.
“I was about to turn in,” Sean said, deciding it was best to be passive.
“You looking for permission?” Joel’s tone was still curt, but it wasn’t really directed at Sean. Something else was bothering him.
“No, I just thought I’d come in and say good night.”
Joel sighed, apparently appeased by the lack of confrontation. He gave Sean a weak, tired smile. “Better get some rest, Doc. Couple of hours and Harvey will need you to stitch something, no doubt.”
Wasn’t that the truth. Harvey, their engineer, was pretty good when it came to mineral mining and keeping the ship moving, but he could injure himself getting into his dive suit.
“What about you, Sir?”
“I’m not planning on cutting anything,” Joel said, his smile strengthening.
“I meant are you turning in?”
Joel hesitated. Usually the captain was impossible to read, but every so often Sean got hints of the man behind the muscle. There was a softness to him, hidden behind the square jaw and piercing eyes. Sean had always been drawn to his vulnerable side. It crept in from time to time, reminding Sean that the captain, despite liking to pretend he was a demigod, was just a man. A good man.
“Not yet.” A shadow seemed to be hanging over him.
“Would you mind some company?” Sean offered, sensing the captain had something he needed to get off his chest.
“Suit yourself.” It was as close to an invitation as Joel ever gave anyone.
A.L. BATES has a keen interest in Sci-fi and adventure novels and enjoys writing stories with strong characters in imaginative backgrounds. Although an avid writer, Deep is the first published novella by A.L. Bates.
A.L. Bates can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoralbates