Starla Huchton released her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread, as a full cast podcast production beginning in August 2009. Her first foray went on to become a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards.
Since her debut, Starla’s voice has appeared in other podcasts including The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, The Drabblecast, and Erotica a la Carte. She is also a voice talent for Darkfire Productions, and narrates several of their projects, including The Emperor’s Edge series, This Path We Share, and others. Her writing has appeared in the Erotica a la Carte podcast, a short story for The Gearheart, and an episode of the Tales from the Archives podcast (the companion to Tee Morris and Philippa Balantine’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series), which garnered her a second finalist badge from the 2012 Parsec Awards.
Her second novel, a Steampunk adventure entitled Master of Myth, was the first place winner in the Fantasy/Science Fiction category of The Sandy Writing Contest held annually by the Crested Butte Writers Conference. Maven is her third completed novel and the first in a planned series of four, being released under the name S. A. Huchton.
After completing her degree in Graphic Arts at Monterey Peninsula College, Starla opened up shop as a freelance graphic designer focusing on creating beautiful book covers for independent authors and publishers. She currently lives in Virginia where she trains her three Minions and military husband.
Author website: http://www.starlahuchton.com
It hadn’t been a lie. That last glass of champagne was probably a mistake. Lydia stared out at the shifting colors of sunset. Even if this little scheme didn’t work at all, maybe it would clear her head some. She rested her hands on the stone railing of the balcony, watching the waves break over the sand.
“Gorgeous.” Daniel’s voice made her tighten her grip on the rail.
Lydia didn’t look at him. “You don’t see many sunsets under water,” she said. “I’d almost forgotten how lovely they were.”
He walked over and leaned next to her. “I wasn’t talking about the sunset.”
She hoped the changing light hid the pink in her cheeks. “Hmm. Your hypothesis lacks evidence to back it up, since clearly I wasn’t attractive enough for anyone to actually invite to this thing.”
Daniel winced. “Uh, yeah. About that…”
That was not the response she’d expected. “What, Daniel?” She looked at him accusingly.
He straightened and took a step back. “I may or may not have threatened to sever certain personal entertainment feeds for anyone that asked you.”
Lydia stared at him, stupefied. “You… you threatened to disconnect their porn?”
“Well, if you want to be crass about–”
“Why would you do that to me, Daniel?” she yelled at him, shoving him, hard. All the rage she had been bottling up the last two weeks exploded out of her. “All my life, all of it, I have been too smart, too young, too intimidating, too… something, to be dated by anyone. The few times I was asked out somewhere, it ended with some guy asking me for a term paper or test questions so he could get a better grade or evaluation or something. And now, when I’m finally someplace welcoming, at an age where I’m not just a kid anymore, you decided issuing a threat to anyone who might even think of dating me is a good idea? What the hell, Daniel? Why? Why would you do that to me?” Lydia’s eyes stung, but she would not cry. She. Would. Not.
Daniel’s face was a mixture of fear and guilt. “You didn’t hear them talking. I figured, anyone that would value porn over the chance at an evening with you, well, no one like that deserves you. I… I couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else with you, Lydia.”
She closed her eyes and turned away. “Then why not ask me yourself?”
There was a pause before he spoke. Whatever he had to say, it had better be good. “For one, I didn’t want to cancel if my father decided I needed other arrangements. I thought if I waited until Friday morning and he hadn’t pulled me by then I’d be safe. And for two…” His voice faded and she glanced at him.
“Well?” she prompted.
He swallowed, then exhaled in frustration. “Honestly, you scare the crap out of me, Lydia. I’ve never… I mean, you’re the first and last thing I think about every damn day. I’m physically ill when I think I might not ever be the kind of person you deserve to be with. You make me want to be better at everything I do. I’m terrified whenever I screw up because I think I might never get the chance to kiss you even once, and if that were true I… I don’t know if I could deal with that.”
Of all the things he could have said to her, she couldn’t imagine any of them being more perfect. Maybe it was all the champagne, but her anger evaporated.
He touched her bare shoulder. “Lydia, I’m sorry. I–”
She didn’t let him finish. The word “sorry” had barely left his lips before hers were on them. It had taken every ounce of courage she had, but she had done it.
Daniel didn’t respond for a moment. She thought maybe she had made a mistake, but his hand on her neck, and the other sliding around her waist eased her fear. His lips were warm, parting against hers. She thought she might actually melt at the sweet sensation. Her fingers dug into the fabric of his jacket, pulling him closer. Daniel’s tongue tickled her own, encouraging her. The embrace grew heated very quickly and she didn’t think she could stand much more.
Out of breath, she broke away. Unsure if her legs would hold her, she set a hand on the railing for support. She couldn’t meet his eyes, anxious about what she might see there. He set his own hand over hers, entwining their fingers.
“Seems I was wrong,” he whispered in her ear.
“Wrong?” Surprised, she looked up at him.
His empty hand touched her chin. “Well, now that I’ve kissed you, I’m not sure I can stop.”
Lydia smiled. “And who’s stopping you?”
He kissed her again, gentler this time, his mouth brushing her skin as lightly as the breeze coming off the ocean. At this, she came undone and lost any feeling in her feet. She laughed as he caught her. It was positively mortifying, but she couldn’t care less. If it landed her in his arms, she would consider never walking again.