Gear Heart by Hollis Shiloh

Living with a gear heart made from magic and machinery, Auden knows his lifespan will be shortened. Now a second-class citizen, he’s part of the household of Dr. Gregory—the man who stitched him back to life years ago during the war. And now Dr. Gregory is being threatened.

A friendly (sometimes too friendly) police officer named Owen is assigned to help protect the aging doctor. Auden could resent the policeman who’s come to help with security. Instead, he finds himself drawn to the attractive, flirtatious Owen, who somehow doesn’t let Auden’s cold nature scare him away. And that holds a different kind of danger for Auden’s heart.


Length: 23,600 words 

Steampunk elements 

Steamy: yes 




“Oh? Is that your goal in life, less effort?”


He gave me a small, squinting smile, head tilted a little as we fell into step and headed back to the house. “Now, sweetheart, if that’s what I wanted, would I still be going after you?” He clapped a hand quickly on my back, grinned, and then ran ahead.


I stared after him, shook my head. My cheeks felt a little warm. But if he hadn’t run, if he’d stayed a moment longer, I’d have told him he could have me. Instead, he ran like a little child.


I picked up my heels and ran after him. When we got to the door I hip-checked him hard, shoving him out of my way, and we thumped and bumped through the doorway, trying to squeeze through at the same time. He giggled—or possibly snickered—rubbing against me flagrantly, for longer than he had to.


“Stop it,” I hissed. He reached down ostensibly to help push us apart…by first grabbing hold of my hips quite firmly. “Stop.” I rolled my eyes, trying not to laugh. 


Ha laughed again and clapped a hand in the middle of my back and pushed me ahead of him, but not roughly, more friendly and considerate. “We’ll have whatever delicious thing you’re cooking, ma’am,” said Owen, changing gears quickly as he tilted his head respectfully at Lucy. 


She smiled and shook her head. “You boys never grow up, do you?”


“No ma’am, our appetite just gets bigger.”


“Speak for yourself,” I grumbled, and moved out of the kitchen, my heart pounding a little too hard from the run. I went to check on Gregory, and then to rest a bit. My chest really was hurting more than I liked.


Owen found me in my room, resting on the bed. “I stationed the new guys in the front and at the back garden, till you tell me otherwise. I told them not to let anyone by without permission. Except Felix, of course. Hey, what’s up?” He wiped his damp hands on his trousers, and his cheeks were still bulging as he chewed. “You’re taking a nap?”


I shook my head, not wanting to tell him. Then I figured I’d better. If he couldn’t get used to me having a metal heart, he wouldn’t really want to sleep with me. Best to know now.


“It gets tired.” I tapped my chest with my palm. “Have to rest it sometimes.”


“What?” He looked completely alarmed, and moved in and sat on the edge of the bed. “Your…your heart? It’s…not healthy?” He looked really scared for me.


I shook my head. “No. That’s what Gregory replaced on me. It’s metal and magic. What, does that shock you?” I raised an eyebrow, almost laughing at his expression.


He’d been reaching for my chest, almost slyly, as if he couldn’t resist. When he heard my words, he froze. And now again he moved. This time with firm deliberation, reaching out, putting a hand over my heart and beginning to gently rub. 


“Thought they were supposed to be stronger than regular body parts?” His voice was a soft, almost hoarse whisper, slightly quavery. His hand felt absurdly good, massaging my flesh over the heart. 


I wanted him, the ache of noticing him these last few days now becoming acute. But I answered as calmly as I could. My voice also sounded softer, different. “They are, but only at first. They wear down. Mine is wearing out.”


He looked alarmed. “Couldn’t Gregory fix it for you?”


“Sure he could, if he was well enough.” I looked at him. And he looked at me.


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About my stories: 


I love the idea of steampunk: a world that has elements of magic and machinery, a world with fog in the streets and clever gadgets made of gears, a world with possibilities and mysteries.  I wrote several stories set in a steampunk-like world.  They ended up being more about the romance than the world.  In the stories I have so far, the main fantastical element is that soldiers were revived during a war, their lives saved from wounds that would kill, and kept alive by machinery and magic in place of vital organs, such as the heart.  Now after the war, they’re reviled, unwanted citizens without the rights or opportunities of ordinary citizens.  


So far in this world, I’ve written several stories, all gay romances with a touch of mystery.  I guess the themes could be said to be about accepting and loving yourself no matter what the world says about you or what physical challenges you face.  I have some health issues myself, so I guess this theme is important to me.  At any rate, I seem to keep writing it!  🙂





I’d like to give away a story each to three people who comment.  I’ll choose the winners through a random number generator, and send you any one of my stories you’d like, in whatever format you prefer.  Thank you for your time and hope you have a great day!  🙂


steampunk-gay romance stories:


all my stories: