Pouring over the newly acquired map, Avery paused midway through the bite she was taking out of the strawberry, her brow furrowed. “Ian,” she called over the hum of the engines. “Ian, come here, look at this.”

Ian finished pouring his drink and came over to the table. “You found something?”

His nearness had always quickened her breathing, even when it was all about business. But she had long ago learned to enjoy the fire in her veins that he ignited, and no longer fought it. She paused a moment, and indicated the mountain ranges toward which they were heading. “I think we’re about to. Look,” she pointed to the official regional map.

“I don’t see anything.”

“Exactly,” she pointed to the same place on their new map. “But look there.”

“A settlement,” he ran his hand through his hair and adopted the same furrowed expression she had a moment earlier. “How old is this map?”

“Doesn’t matter. It’s not supposed to be there. Either it’s still there or it isn’t, but either way, no one is supposed to find it,” she grinned at him.

She was not expecting him to kiss her, and when his warm lips met hers she was very, very glad she had been nibbling on fruit and not pickles or… and then the desire consuming her brought rational thought to an end.

When they came up for air, his loose cravat had snagged on the top hook of her corset, and they laughed as they disentangled themselves, but there was no embarrassment. They both knew where this was going, and that was just fine with them.

He twined his hands around her back and they stood there, breathing each other in. The tension was at once comfortable and torturous. “Thank you for not giving up on me,” he murmured.

She wanted to say, Same here, but her lips apparently had better things to do…

The hum of the engines continued toward adventure, toward discovery, and carried them along, full of hope, and inexorably entwined with each other.

About the Author

“Karen Collins, and my steampunk name is Miss Scarlet Kerrigan Rose Abernathy, L-space Librarian and occasional airship pirate. I’m a working mother and my husband and I are enjoying discovering steampunk together. I what I love most about it is the endless possibilities – than any, ANY kind of character can exist, and any kind of story. Also that you don’t have to be a teenager to look good in steampunk style. It’s full of great things for any age and personality.”