New Heaven Corp Short Story

Please do not distribute or post elsewhere. You may share the link. Copyright CC Bridges 2021

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A Little Less Conversation
CC Bridges

Kayla disconnected herself from the net and blinked slowly to let her body grow accustomed to seeing with her own eyes instead of the lobes of her brain wired into the chip implanted just below her left ear. It was always a bit disorienting, no matter how many times she did this.

And to be honest, she didn’t like hooking up to the ‘net. Kayla liked having her physical hands on things, usually in the guts of some machine. But they’d asked her to teach this lecture at the University, and Kayla couldn’t say no to the opportunity.

It had been nice to be recognized for her accomplishments, and the part of her that had been a kid on the streets of Old Trent could marvel at suddenly being called “professor” and looked to for her expertise. At one point in her life she’d never thought she’d leave the 4 square miles of her father’s junk yard.

A rattle at the window caught her attention. She stiffened, at first wondering if she was hearing things, because that sounded like…

Wings.

Kayla got to her feet, a lecture on her lips. Gabe knew better than to go out flying alone at his age.

But when she threw open the tall floor to ceiling window – the kind that was common in all residences in floating cities – she didn’t see Gabe. There were two young men standing on her platform. One staggered to his feet, remarkable only for the shock of blond hair that curled into a haze around his head, like a glowing halo.

The other, oh the other, was an angel. He stood tall, with long lean limbs, straight dark hair around a face that was all angles, with silvery-blue wings extending from each shoulder.

It took her a moment to realize what was wrong. This angel didn’t have a halo, the device that connected all angels on the same network, that gave them access to a single hive mind.

An uneasy feeling grew in the pit of her stomach. “Who are you?” she demanded, dispensing with any niceties for the moment. It had been a long time since she had to worry about fearing for her life. Kayla didn’t like the sensation or it’s creeping familiarity.

The stranger didn’t seem to pick up on her wariness at all. He broke into a wide grin, one that seemed oddly familiar. “Are you Kayla Werth? You look just like your image. I’m Nicky Caldwell-Abraham. I know that’s a mouthful, but my dads tried combining their names, but both Caldham and Abrawell sounded silly. So here we are.” He paused to take a breath. “You can call me Nicky.”

Kayla stared at him for a moment, before her eyes widened. She knew where she’d seen that grin before. “You’re Hank’s son?”

“He’s one of my dad’s, yes.” Nicky nodded. “The other is Ian.”

Now that he mentioned it, she could see Ian in his dark eyes and heavy brown. “How?”

Nicky raised his hands and wiggled his fingers. “Science!” He giggled a bit at his own joke. “Genetics engineering and a portable mechanical uterus, but who wants to get technical?”

The angel behind him cleared his throat. Nicky turned to face him. “Oh, right. This is Tal.”

“He’s an angel,” Kayla swallowed hard. “Are you here to arrest me?” She carefully did not mention Gabe and her dad just downstairs in the level below.

Nicky looked so shocked it was almost laughable. “What? Oh, no, he’s not that kind of angel, and even if he were, Heaven doesn’t have any jurisdiction here in New Canada. Besides, you didn’t do anything wrong, my dads gave you those ID chips, which actually, is what made it super easy to find you.”

He was giving her whiplash. Kayla rubbed her forehead, which was starting to pound in time with her pulse. “You’re not making much sense.”

“I get that a lot.”

“If I may?” Tal cut into the conversation. He had a deep rumbling voice, a sort of sexy growl if you were into that sort of thing. And from the look Nicky threw him, he was definitely into that sort of thing. “Much has changed in the city you once knew. I understand it will take much time to understand, but Nicky and I have come to ask for your help.”

“My help?”

“You are the author of “Advanced AI Dynamics in Mechanical Constructs,” correct?” Tal asked.

“You’ve read my work?” Kayla had been publishing in machinist journals for a decade. Her research involved new ways for AI to interact with mechanical constructs. Her entire academic career had been a result of her successfully transferring her dog, Trixie’s consciousness, into a mechanical body. Said dog was currently downstairs with Dad, or else she’d never let these strangers get anywhere near Kayla.

“It’s incredible.” Tal nodded.

“Ok, enough flirting, big guy.” Nicky squeezed Tal’s shoulder. “Dad recognized your name, and said he knew you, so I figured we’d come out for a visit.”

Kayla’s lips twitched. “Most people would send a message on the ‘net.”

“And that’s the problem.” Nicky made finger guns at her. “There’s something wrong with the ‘net.”

Tal outlined the problem, which apparently had its origins 25 years ago when Gabe tore a hole in the original Angel Network by his defecting. They’d thought it hadn’t touched Heaven’s network, which was separate. “But things have been happening. Ghost angels appearing in cyberspace.”

Kayla tapped her lips, subtly engaging her net connection. She did a quick search, pulling data on the two young men in front of her with lightning speed. She wasn’t surprised to find a note from a familiar account that simply said “Help my kid. I know he’s a bit rough around the edges, but he’s got a good heart. Really bad taste in men, but what can you do? – Hank.”

“I can’t help you,” she said, holding up her hand when Nicky opened his mouth to speak. If she let him start talking, she’d never get a word in. “You need to speak to my father. He’s the expert on the net, not me.”

Nicky nodded very seriously. “Where can we find him?”

“Downstairs, follow me.”

Kayla took them both to the lift, not the staircase down the hall from her office. If this angel was anything like Gabe had been when they first met him, stairs would be a foreign concept. Her home was shaped like a cylinder, with the kitchen and living areas downstairs, and her private bedroom and office upstairs. All external windows were also doors, because that’s how it worked in a floating city.

Dad and Gabe lived in the next cylinder over, but they visited frequently. They were having lunch together today, but Kayla had to give her lecture first, so Dad and Gabe offered to wait. Trixie had been happy enough to sit at Dad’s feet, as if she were still flesh and blood and needed to cuddle for warmth.

“Dad! Gabe!” She called as the lift doors opened. Kayla didn’t want them to be taken by surprise. “We have guests.”

Dad, sitting in the large armchair that was more his than Kayla’s, startled awake. He must have been dozing. Now in his late sixties, he started to feel his age, more than he should in a city where people frequently lived to be 100. But Dad always said he’d lived a harder life than any of them, and he embraced his greying hair and sore body.

At his movement, Trixie got to her feet and started to bark. Kayla crouched down and called her over. She’d have to properly introduce her guests if she wanted her little guardian here to stop with the alarm. “Trixie. Pause.”

The body she’d constructed for the dog looked similar to her old one, but Kayla never managed to find faux fur that soft. You couldn’t tell from afar, but once Trixie got close her glowing eyes gave the game away.

“Hey, girl.” Nicky bent down and held out his hand.

Before Kayla could give a command, Trixie licked his skin. She moved to sit and held out a paw, which Nicky shook happily.

“Well, Trixie always has been a good judge of character.” Dad got to his feet. “Who do we have here?”

The angel had retracted his wings when he followed Kayla and Nicky into the lift. Yet, to Kayla, there was still something unnatural about him. “Where’s Gabe?”

“Here.” Gabe emerged from the kitchen, wiping his hands on a towel. He enjoyed cooking, now that they were someplace that offered food beyond nutricubes. “We have guests? I need to put some more food on.”

The years had been kinder to Gabe, but they were starting to show. He was almost three hundred years old. But the only outward sign was the way his hair had gone silvery white. He came over to Dad’s side and their fingers tangled together.

Yeah, after nearly three decades together, they were still in love.

“Gabe?” Tale repeated, then his violet eyes went wide. “You are Gabriel 1089!”

Before any of them could respond to that, he was across the room, kneeling before Gabe, his head bowed. “I am honored to meet you.”

Gabe blinked. He looked over at Kayla. “Um. Thanks? I guess. But you really have to explain what’s going on.”

“Believe me, I wish I could,” Kayla said drily. “These two are from Heaven…”

“Old Trent,” Nicky put in. “I’ve only visited Heaven.”

“And if you couldn’t tell, that’s Hank’s son.” Kayla sighed. “I’m not sure what the kneeling is about.”

“You are the angel exile who changed everything for us all,” Tal spoke in an awed whisper.

“You know what,” Dad sighed. “I think we should have this conversation over lunch. Come on.”

He was right. Over the dinner table it was much easier for Nicky to tell his story, in between bites of Gabe’s delicious food. It had been a long time since Kayla had thought of Hank and Ian, and she was glad they were both well and happy – and apparently fathers. She’d have to send Hank a message back.

Tal took over the narrative when it came to the problems in the network. It seemed unbelievable – how the original angels glitched, broke free from their hive mind, and started their own new society. Nevermind the nonsense about the God AI.

“And these ghost angels,” Dad said. “They are trapped in the network without bodies?”

Tal opened his mouth, and then closed it. He tilted his head to one side, reminding Kayla a lot of Gabe in the early days. “We don’t know if they are actual consciousnesses or simply, a remnant of one.”

Dad looked over at Kayla. “I have my theories. But if I’m right, I’m going to need your help.”

“Of course, Dad. I can teach my class from anywhere.”

Gabe put his hand over Dad’s on the table and squeezed it gently. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

Dad took a deep breath, before taking the time to meet the eyes of everyone at the table. “Yes. It’s time we go home.”

End of the year roundup

So 2020. That was a year.

Despite everything *gestures with both hands* I accomplished a few things.


I wrote two erotic short stories, one of which will be published next year in the Cleis Press Anthology “Coming Soon.” It’s a fun story, and I can’t wait to share it with you all. I will let you all know about that second story as soon I hear.

I published Stealing Jennifer! If you like fun threesome romps and heist stories, check this out!

I am halfway through writing the sequel, tentatively called “Stealing Matthew.”

I wrote a contemporary m/m romance novel that I am currently revising. I hope to share this with you all as soon as I can!

I have so many ideas that I hope I can work on in the new year and share with you all!

Tuesday – Character I love

Things I Love Tuesdays is a weekly feature on my blog where I talk about things I love. Books, movies, it’s all good. Keeping things light and fun.

This Tuesday I thought I’d talk about one of my favorite characters in my books: Hank Abraham. Hank made his debut as a side character in Angel 1089. He was meant to represent everything about downside that Gabriel would hate. He was a hedonist, a masochist, and he had a secret past. But Hank grew beyond that symbolism.

Hank was one of those characters that sprang to mind fully formed. I wouldn’t say so much that I created him as that he just started talking one day and wouldn’t shut up. That doesn’t always happen to me. This was one of the rare cases where it did. And of course, he needed his own book, hence Exodus.

In Exodus we learn about Hank’s past, how he was once one of the pampered elite living in the floating city of Heaven. He starts out incredibly immature and privileged but we grow with him as the book concludes. Despite his immaturity, Hank has always had a good heart, and when he sees the injustices of his city, he ultimately can’t live with them.

Hank is also one of the two characters (His partner and Dom Ian is the other) who appears in all three Heaven Corp books. He steals the show in Angel 1089 (more than I meant him too), and gets to implant some good advice in Raphael’s ear in Angels Rising. I guess I couldn’t let him go completely, so we get that glimpse of how he and Ian are doing.



Cover wise – I think the first edition of Exodus had the best cover of Hank. It’s quite intense, but I really think it does him justice. So when I was re-releasing the book, I thought it was a good opportunity for Ian to shine instead. Which cover do you like better?

Have you ever had a character show up your head and demand his time in the sun? Tell me about it in the comments!

Christmas in July!

I usually really enjoy Christmas in July. They decorate the boardwalk. Some poor dude dressed as Santa Claus is on the beach having kids sit on his lap. They pump Chrismtas music through the loudspeakers. It’s all very jolly and fun. And usually 90 degrees.

But no boardwalk for us this year. However, if you are itching for some sweet, fun Christmas stories to escape into, I have a bunch!


A Christmas Yarn

Librarian Gavin MacCauley isn’t expecting any surprises this holiday season. It’s the usual rush of helping patrons, and knitting items to donate to the local hospital. But his world is turned upside down by the cutie who walks into knitting club looking to learn how to crochet a scarf.

Jonathan Mercier has just moved to town and is desperate to find a new craft for his traditional, handmade gift for the aunt who adopted him. When his elderly neighbor strong-arms him into attending the library’s knitting and crochet club, he falls hard for the kind (and hot!) librarian running the class.

But with Christmas coming, and time running out to finish the gift, will these two find the time for each other?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | All Vendors

The Puzzle Box

Elementary school art teacher Cole Peters is expecting a lonely Christmas this year while his longtime boyfriend, James Carducci, is on deployment with the Army. However, a box from James contains puzzles that lead Cole on a scavenger hunt through the greatest moments of their relationship. Together with his best friend Liz, Cole works his way through each clue.

The final puzzle could lead Cole to a gift beyond his wildest expectations

Amazon | Other Retailers

Lost and Found

Two lonely men, a lost teddy bear, and a sprinkle of holiday magic!

On a snowy night before Christmas Eve, Tyler Martin finds himself stuck in a Chicago airport, unable to get home to his family on the East Coast. After missing last year due to his jerk of an ex-boyfriend, the idea of not making it this time hurts. When he finds a lost teddy bear in the waiting area, his night changes for the better.

Aaron Klein is a bored airport worker, taking the Christmas shift because he’s Jewish. He doesn’t expect to hit it off with the hot guy who brings a lost teddy bear to his desk, but it might end up being everything he didn’t know he was looking for.

Originally published as Teddy Bear Christmas.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | All Vendors

A Christmas Yarn – plus giveaway

A Christmas Yarn is now available for pre-order! And to celebrate, I’m having a little giveaway. Check out the Rafflecopter widget at the end of the post.

Blurb: Librarian Gavin MacCauley isn’t expecting any surprises this holiday season. It’s the usual rush of helping patrons, and knitting items to donate to the local hospital. But his world is turned upside down by the cutie who walks into knitting club looking to learn how to crochet a scarf.

Jonathan Mercier has just moved to town and is desperate to find a new craft for his traditional, handmade gift for the aunt who adopted him. When his elderly neighbor strong-arms him into attending the library’s knitting and crochet club, he falls hard for the kind (and hot!) librarian running the class.

But with Christmas coming, and time running out to finish the gift, will these two find the time for each other?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | All Vendors

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order for The Superhero Division

Check out the new cover for “The Superhero Division.” You can pre-order now or if you have Kindle Unlimited, read for free on October 16th!

Blurb:
When your evil twin is the competition…

Socket, a techno-telepath, is too busy to think about his crush on his best friend, Valor. Murderous robots are invading from another dimension, and he needs to use all his skills to put together a team of superheroes to counter the threat. This doesn’t mean he stops thinking about what might have been, especially when his double shows up.

Valor loves being a superhero – he loves the media attention, the way the public adores him. But the fight gets serious when the robot attacks start increasing. Luckily, they have help, another version of Socket from an alternate dimension. To his surprise, he finds himself attracted to this twin of his best friend.

The alternate Socket has his own agenda, one that doesn’t involve matchmaking or falling in love. And if he gets his way, everything Socket and Valor worked for will be destroyed.

Content Warning: A character has sexual assault as part of their background. They are also at one pointed triggers into having a flashback.
(originally published by Musa Press)

Pre-order now!

Cover Reveal and Pre-order for Wolf Knight

Check out the new cover for my novella “Wolf Knight.” You can pre-order now, but the book will be released on September 18th!

Blurb: Renee Wyvern fought her way to join the ranks of the Wolf, the only order of all female knights in Hedlund. She’s determined to demonstrate her skills at the annual tourney and win honor for herself and her order. First, however, she needs to escort Hedlund’s princess back home. She’s not prepared for the attraction that strikes her.

Princess Adelaide is tired of hiding. She’s been forced into the convent for the past five years, and now she must let herself be sold off in marriage to ensure the continued peace. But her heart is captured by the dashing knight who guards her unexpectedly perilous journey. Maybe it’s time for her to start acting like a princess and take what she wants.

They are kept apart by honor and duty. Can love somehow win the day?

(originally published in the To The Victor anthology by Less Than Three Press)

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBooks | All Vendors

Cover Reveal and Pre-order: A Corgi Named Kilowatt

I’m so happy to show you the new cover for “A Corgi Named Kilowatt.” This cover was challenging for me to put together. I had to work with three separate images and make them look like they belonged together. And choosing the right corgi was tough!

This story was originally released in Less Than Three Press’s Silver & Gold Anthology. It is now available on its own for the first time!

Blurb: Evan Andrews is a graduate student content with spending his days in a library reading poetry. His existence is rocked when hot, sexy, and much too old for him Marc Romano stumbles into his life. The guy has everything, plus he loves dogs. Evan is immediately smitten.

Marc didn’t expect to be older than the professors when he decided to go back to college. He immediately puts his foot in his mouth around Evan, and if weren’t for his dog Kilo playing matchmaker, that would have been the end of that.

Sparks fly between Evan and Marc, but will those sparks ignite, or will their difference in age extinguish the flame?

The novella will be released next week, but you can pre-order it now if you wish!
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