When two strangers are trapped in a blizzard, heat rises.
Haunted by what he lost in Afghanistan, Captain Jack Turner is at a crossroads. While the last place he wants to go is the Arctic, at least the routine mission gets him out from behind his new desk. But he starts off on the wrong foot with the Canadian Ranger guiding him across the forbidding and dangerous land, and Jack would rather be anywhere than sharing a tent with Sergeant Kin Carsen.
The Arctic is in Kin’s blood, and he can’t seem to leave the tundra behind. He wishes he could live openly as a gay man, but the North isn’t as accepting as the rest of Canada. Although he’s lonely, he loves his responsibility as a Ranger, patrolling the vast land he knows so well. But he’s on unfamiliar ground with Jack, and when they’re stranded alone by a blizzard, unexpected desire begins to burn. Soon they’re in a struggle to survive, and all these strangers have is each other.
Note: This gay romance features emotional repression, hurt/comfort, adventure on the tundra, and love where you least expect it.
Can an army captain who can’t forget Afghanistan make new memories with a ranger in the Arctic? In this character interview, meet Jack Turner, a Canadian army captain at a crossroads.
Please tell us about you: job, hobbies, special talents, and anything else you would want to share.
I’m a captain in the Canadian Armed Forces. I almost came home from Afghanistan in a body bag, and now I’ve got a desk job in Ottawa, which is the capital city of Canada. Hobbies? Um, let’s see. Does watching TV or playing stupid games on my iPad count? Oh, I have a dog. His name’s Neville and he’s a pug. I tell people I named him after Neville Chamberlain, but secretly it was Neville Longbottom.
I don’t have any special talents I can think of. I guess it was a special talent that I didn’t get blown up in the Middle East when I probably should have. Wait, can you change that answer? I don’t want my parents to see it. They’ll just get upset and bug me about going to therapy.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa. It was mostly cornfields even when I was in my twenties, but now they’re paving over it all for subdivisions and box stores.
Tell us about the first time you met Kin. Was it love at first sight?
No. I thought he was good looking, but he’s a subordinate, and it was inappropriate to even consider it. Besides, I didn’t make a great first impression on him. He thought I was a bit of a jackass. Wait—he’s calling from the other room. Kin wants to clarify that he thought I was a complete jackass. Not just a bit.
What drew you to each other?
Well, there’s something about being trapped in a tent in the high Arctic that can bring two people together. Sometimes you need to share body heat! But really it was Kin’s quiet confidence. His steadiness. We’d both suffered the loss of people we cared about, and I could talk to him in a way I hadn’t been able to talk to anyone since I came back from the war.
What is your favorite part of him?
This is a PG-13 interview, right? Kidding, kidding. *whispers* It’s his soul. I’m not one of those hippy-dippy spiritual people who usually believes in that crap, but Kin has a beautiful soul. I can look into his eyes and see it shining out.
Do you love a challenge? If so, how do you handle it?
*calls loudly* Kin, would you say I love a challenge? *pauses* He’s laughing his ass off now. That’s a yes. Let me tell you, the high Arctic is nothing if not a challenging place. I guess I handle a test the only way you can: by diving in headfirst.
Favorite childhood memory?
Probably going canoeing with my folks and my sister in Algonquin Park. We went for two weeks, camping and canoeing deep into the forest. We’d have to portage between lakes. Portaging means you carry the boat over your head. I think it might be a Canadian word. Our ancestors did a lot of canoeing.
Favorite vacation spot?
Considering it’s -50 F outside right now (and that is not a typo—you read that correctly), I’m going to say anywhere around the equator.
Favorite eye color?
Care to share future plans?
The Canadian Armed Forces has plans in the Arctic. That’s all I can say for now.
Jesus Christ it was cold.
With fingers stiff in his gloves, Jack flicked on his little flashlight under his sleeping bag. It was only zero-four-hundred, but it had been dark for so many hours it felt as though the night would never end. It must have clouded over, since there was no light from the moon making its way through the tent walls. He shuddered to think of what it was like in the winter when the sun barely rose at all.
Carefully, he pointed the flashlight around the tent, aiming it high to avoid waking Kin, who slept peacefully a few feet away. The red of Kin’s toque peeked out from his sleeping bag, and Jack could see his closed eyes and his nose. He was breathing deeply and evenly.
The odds of turning on the stove without waking him were nil, so Jack stayed put, shivering in his sleeping bag. Kin didn’t seem bothered by the cold at all, but Jack’s teeth chattered. He wanted to wrap himself in one of the pelts beneath them, but the idea of moving out of his bag was not appealing.
He should have turned off the flashlight since he was wasting the battery, but he found himself watching Kin sleep. He’d shared tents with dozens of men over the years, but none had intrigued him like Kin Carsen did. Not even Grant. He winced at the familiar sting of guilt twisting in his gut.
His scars flared to life, and he scrabbled at the back of his neck and shoulder, dropping the flashlight with a thud, the beam of light spinning around the tent. It was as if his flesh was burning again, and it prickled unbearably. He yanked off his gloves to scratch properly, squirming in the tight sleeping bag.
“Jack?” Kin murmured.
“I’m fine,” he gritted out. “Go back to sleep.”
Kin’s tone was sharp, all drowsiness vanished. “What is it?”
The light shone in his face, and Jack squeezed his eyes shut and burrowed into his bag. “I said it’s nothing. Leave me the hell alone.” He dug his blunt nails into his skin even though he knew it would pass faster if he left the scars untouched. The doctors said the itching was all in his head, but it was hard to believe when he trembled with hot prickles. At least he didn’t feel as cold.
“I’m only trying to help.”
“Then don’t. I don’t need your help.”
“Well, excuse the fuck out of me. Sir.”
The flashlight snapped off, and when Jack opened his eyes the tent was black again. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. He breathed heavily through his nose, forcing himself to stop scratching. “I’m sorry. It’s not you, okay? It’s a hundred percent me. I’m a bag of shit lately.”
There was silence for a long moment. Then, “Is that the official diagnosis?”
Jack barked out a laugh, some of the tension leeching from his body. He felt around for his gloves but couldn’t find them, so he curled his hands against his chest in the sleeping bag. “It should be. Sorry for being a drama queen. You’re more patient than I would be stuck with an FNG.”
“You’ll have to enlighten me.”
“Fucking new guy.”
Kin laughed softly, and Jack wished he could see the little dimples that creased his cheeks. He tried to think of something else he could say to make him laugh. “I wouldn’t blame you if your GAFF was pretty low right now.”
“Okay, I’ll bite.”
“Give a fuck factor.”
Kin laughed again, and despite the cold Jack felt a bloom of warmth in his chest.
“Do you have an army to English dictionary? My students would love these.”
“No, but someone should write one.”
“Maybe that should be your next assignment.”
Jack breathed easily again. There was something nice about talking in the dark in their sleeping bags. Reminded him of when he was a kid sleeping over at Jimmy Leclerc’s house, talking until all hours of the night on the old shag carpet in the basement. And just like he had with Jimmy, Jack inched closer to Kin, shifting himself as quietly as possible.
He didn’t know why he had that urge, since he was a grown man now and he didn’t have the excuse of being afraid of the dark, or the rumbles and clangs from the Leclerc’s furnace. Outside the tent there was only the steady whisper of wind. But he still felt drawn to Kin, and the low sound of his exhalations.
“What’s it like during the midnight sun? When there’s daylight twenty four hours?”
“It’s…lively. The restaurant at the hotel is open day and night since there’s always someone awake. I try to keep normal hours, but it’s hard. There’s a lot more noise, and people out and about. We pretty much hibernate in the winter and make up for it in the summer.”
“Must be strange. I guess you get used to it.”
“Yeah. It’s just the way it is. Everyone has blackout curtains. But there’s always a party going on somewhere. Once—”
Jack waited a few heartbeats. “Once what?”
“My brother snuck off and went fishing with his buddies in the middle of the night. They ‘borrowed’ a boat, and of course they got caught since there they were in the middle of the bay, clear as day. Even in the winter, there’s always someone watching. Hard to keep secrets in Arctic Bay.”
“Have you tried?”
Kin was silent for a moment. “Everyone has something to hide.”
It was all Jack could do not to ask. But he had his own secrets, and it was best to keep it all locked away, no matter how safe it felt cocooned in the dark with Kin. Anything Jack said tonight could haunt him in the dawn.
“That’s why I like coming out here. There’s only the land, and it keeps all its secrets.”
“How about the polar bears?”
Kin chuckled. “They’re the worst gossips. Never tell a polar bear something you don’t want the whole world to know.”
“I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m shooting the breeze with one.” Jack flexed his fingers, rubbing his bare hands together. “Christ it’s cold. I dropped my gloves.”
As material rustled, Jack expected the flashlight to come on. But his heart skipped a beat as Kin spoke.
“Give me your hands.” Kin’s voice was closer.
Jack’s mouth went dry, and he heard his heartbeat thumping in his ears the way he could when he wore earplugs on planes. He shimmied his arms out of the sleeping bag and fumbled for Kin. When their fingers brushed together, he had to bite back a gasp at the flare of desire in his belly.
Smoothly, Kin took Jack’s hands between his and rubbed. He’d taken off his gloves, and he massaged Jack’s fingers. God, it felt good. Kin’s hands were slightly callused—more so than Jack would expect from a teacher. Granted he was also a Ranger, but a Saturday soldier didn’t usually get his hands that dirty.
“Why didn’t you say anything? Frostbite can happen really easily out here. You have to be careful. Your fingers are way too cold.”
Jack opened his mouth to give some kind of excuse, but any words were lost in a strangled gurgle when his index finger was enveloped by wet heat. Kin sucked, and his tongue swirled around, rough and slick at the same time. Jack was glad he wasn’t standing, since so much blood rushed to his cock that he likely would have gotten lightheaded.
Copyright © Keira Andrews
About Keira Andrews
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal, and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”
Where you can find Keira:
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/keiraandrews
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