Category Archives: News




Grabbing the Bull by the Horns with a Change in Plans

Howdy, folks!

I’ve been writing books 5 & 6 in The Stables series at the same time in order to ensure the storyline has continuity. Originally, I’d planned to make Crows Don’t Sing (Crow & Rabbit’s story) book 5, but as I developed By The Horns (Bull & West’s story), I realized the events make more sense as a bridge between Pierce The Heart and Crows Don’t Sing. So, I’m swapping the order. By The Horns will revisit many key events that have happened in the series so far, shedding a new light on things from Cole & Bruce’s perspectives.

It will also include rope. Lots and lots of rope.

I am nearing the end of writing By The Horns and hope to have a cover reveal and release date for y’all soon. For now, I have an excerpt!

Cole

“What the hell am I even doing here?”

The words slip past my chapped lips on puffs of white during one of Dallas’s bitter December evenings. Two weeks before Christmas, the answer is a simple one. Desperation.

The fact that I drove almost an hour to get here without tucking tail and making a U-turn means I’ve hit the plateau of my tolerance levels. I’ve been stationed in Johnson County for almost a month, doing my time among the more rural counties, or what some of us Texas Rangers have come to call ‘Siberia’. We all get stationed to these far-flung posts at some point in our career, using our borderless law enforcement capabilities to ensure drugs stay out of the corn fields and assholes don’t use dirt roads for human trafficking.

Some see it as a vacation, a chance to relax a bit from the bigger city crime problems that can get a Ranger in over his head and dead with his boots and badge on. Some use it as an opportunity to lay down roots, maybe start a family. Most end up in Siberia a few times temporarily before being stationed permanently as they edge closer to retirement. I’m not exactly young and spry anymore, but I’m not ready to retire either. Hell, I’m only… Okay, so I hit thirty-four a few months ago, and my joints ache in the cold from dragging in one too many bull-headed bounties in San Antonio, but I damn sure ain’t ready to hang up my hat yet. And I damn sure ain’t ready to start no family.

I mean… I guess I could be…

Another hot puffing sigh passes by my lips as they crack and I reach for my ChapStick. Sure, I can get married now, but that don’t mean it’s safe to be gay in Texas. And yet, here I am in Oak Lawn, standing outside the Giddy-Up club on a Saturday night after reading all the five-star reviews online.

Desperate.

Dammit. Should’ve bit the bullet and tried that phone ap. But, I’ve never been one for random one-time hook-ups, no matter how thirsty I am. Call me a snob, but a blowjob in a parking lot ain’t my idea of a good time. I’ve never done well at clubs, either, and the Giddy-Up is a shining beacon of ‘gay Texas’ as ever I’ve seen. It’s too bright. Too loud. And everyone looks like they’re having a blast.

They’re all smiling under cowboy hats, some with full western get-ups and some with not much else on. Lord have mercy, and I ain’t even through the doors yet. Somewhere in the parking lot, a horn blares and crass laughter harasses. I lean back against my closed truck door, thumbs in my jean pockets, Stetson tilted back and feeling naked without the gun and badge I’ve stowed in the key-locked glovebox. The club’s doors open and close, a good country song asking to be danced to, and my heel taps out a beat.

“Going to stand outside in the cold all night, sugar?” a man’s sultry voice teases as he passes by with a group of friends. He turns to keep looking at me as he walks backwards. “I promise, it’s nice and warm inside.” His eyebrows wiggle at me, temptingly.

His friends laugh at the innuendo and reach for him as he reaches for me. I don’t much like being touched, a habit of being Ranger trained, so I shy away. But, damn, I don’t want to be rude either, so I smile at the frown that’s formed on his pretty face. He’s way too young for me, as are most of the people I’ve seen walk into the club so far.

Damn. What the hell am I doing here…

“Sorry, waiting for someone,” I lie, with a mind to hop back into my truck as soon as they disappear through the door.

“Aw,” he pouts. “Well, don’t wait too long for him. You’ll freeze. And if you change your mind and want to warm up a bit…” He winks then follows his friends inside.

Two girls walk by, hand in hand and loving laughter between them. I reach for the truck door handle. A deeper laugh rebounds from a few spots over. It’s a low, jolly rumble in just the right baritone chord to make my spine shiver. The man is older, I think. Mellowed by age. I catch a word or two of conversation. His voice is as deep as his laugh, and it carries the weight of authority and confidence. Guess not everyone who comes here is in their twenties.

Curious, I step up on the rail to glance over my truck. His back is to me, but he’s tall and built like a damn mountain. And bald… and, familiar…?

He turns. His smile flashes. My boot slips off the rail and I damn near land on my ass as the world spins. “Shit!”

My hand clamps over my mouth. Oh, shit. Shit, shit! No fucking way.

The conversation stops. Bootsteps clack against the asphalt. A shadow looms between me and a post lamp. Gravel grinds as the man stops walking and turns to where I’m ducked down between vehicles.

Shit. Knew I should’a stayed home.

“Cole?”

The sound of my name on his voice has my nerves tingling, like they have been for the past few weeks every time I have to discuss a case file with this man; Bruce Montgomery, the honorable no-nonsense judge from Johnson County.

“You okay, son?” Bruce asks, taking a step forward.

Son? I’m not some twink. I’m a God damn Texas Ranger, who’s cowering in the parking lot of a gay bar. Well, fuck.

Remembering I have a badge in the glovebox, I stand up straight and try to act like it ain’t no big deal. “Evening, Your Honor.”

“Just Bruce is fine,” he says in a way I can’t take as optional.

“Alright, Bruce,” but that don’t feel right, neither.

He looks at me for a moment as I fail to meet his steel blue stare. “On the job?” he asks.

It gives me an out – a way to laugh off this night, get back in my truck and pretend it never happened. My eyes betray me and flick up to meet his gaze. God help me, I can’t lie to a judge. “No, sir.”

His jaw tics as I fail to call him Bruce like he’d asked, so I keep on talking, hoping whoever it was he’d been talking to will come save me. “You?”

“Yes,” he answers seriously, drawing my eyes back up to his. “I’m here to judge the Tequila Two-Step.”

“The what?” The back of my neck flushes as his serious expression breaks into a softer grin.

“Each contestant takes two shots of tequila before each line dance. Last cowboy standing, wins. It’s fun. You should enter.”

“Nah, I don’t drink.” A cough sputters out after that admission. “Or dance,” I mutter more quietly, once again finding my boots easier to look at than Bruce’s face.

“So, you don’t drink, and you don’t dance…”

“What the hell am I doing here, right?” And I wish someone would tell me.




Corwint Central Agent Files Book 5 is here!

The Corwint Central Agent Files  are back with Book 5: PROMISE THE STARS. As part of the Science Fiction Brigade May Showcase, I have an exclusive excerpt! You can get PROMISE THE STARS for $1 (see links below).

New to the series? You can get books 1 & 2 free. Click here to learn more.


About The Book:

To you, my dearest child, I promise the stars…

Nikki’s been to the deepest pit of darkness in the universe and lived to tell about it, barely. But, to move forward with her life, she must first go back to Thetos – where a buried secret and her father’s promise await her return. Despite her independent, defensive nature, she lets Brom into her world and under her skin bit by bit. With her Trexen biology clawing its way into fruition, including unwanted side effects like mind-reading and a deadly temper, she struggles to see herself as worthy of her father’s intellectual legacy. The more she reveals to Brom, the faster she expects him to leave. She quickly learns Orellians don’t give up so easily, and Brom’s as stubborn as they come.

But someone’s been waiting for Nikki’s return and the secret she guards. Its discovery could mean a chance at peace, or lead to all out war. In the wrong hands, even the best intentions can lead to catastrophe, and a promise can decay into regret.

Available for $1 on:
Amazon  |  Nook  |  Kobo  |  Apple iBooks


Exclusive Excerpt:

  “Charity,” Jarren’s muffled voice came through the door as a haunting call invading Nikki’s ears. “Open the door for me so that we can all leave this place together.”

“Eat shit and die, you psychotic ja’niija!” Nikki backed away from the door, looking around in startled confusion. She was back in that place – that shithole room in the basement of the T’jaros Black Wings’ stronghold. How had she been captured again? Why was she back here?

“Charity? You’re trying my patience.”

And why is that bastard not dead?

Muffled crying filled in the foggy shadows behind her. The girls. Lolly, Star and Yiazra. Gods, she remembered…this place and this time she wanted only to forget.

She turned to the girls behind her with a hushed command. “Hurry up and get under my bed, and don’t make a sound.”

“Charity! Don’t make me do this the hard way!” Jarren’s ranting continued.

Nikki glared at door with a defiant laugh. “Oh, but Jarren, sweetie, we all know you haven’t been able to do it the hard way in years. And my name’s Nikki, you soft-cocked prick!”

It’s Nikki, not Charity. Never again. Never-

The door exploded inward, the room filling with smoke. The concussive blast knocked her into the far wall, her ears left ringing and mind dazed. Through the smoke, Jarren stepped into the room, his eyes a wild and furious steel blue. With a snarl, he grabbed her by the neck and lifted her up, her feet no longer touching the ground. This was it – she’d finally pushed him too far, and he was going to kill her for it. In all honesty, she welcomed the end to this madness.

“You’ve really outdone yourself this time, my dear,” Jarren snarled. “I was going to give you back to Jehdra when this was over, but now…” Jarren tightened his grip. “Where is Yiazra?”

In her acceptance of the end, she found strength. “Fuck… you…”

“She’s under the bed, Master.” Tavia, Jarren’s psychotic pet Trexen, stepped into the room. “Come out, Ruisk, or Charity loses her head.”

“You… mind-fucked… whore!” Nikki spat out between gasping breaths as Star and Lolly appeared from under the bed, followed by Yiazra. Nikki growled in warning at Tavia. If she’d come just a bit closer, perhaps she could kill Tavia before Jarren killed them all. It would be one last thing to help Nikki die in peace.

“What is this?” Tavia’s face leaned into the camera dangling from the hacked communication panel – a device from Brom in an attempt to set them all free. “Quite the resourceful little half-breed. Master, it looks like she’s broadcasting this.”

“What?!” Jarren dropped Nikki to the floor and pulled out a gun.

“Jarren, no!” Yiazra tried to reason with him, but he pushed her aside while glaring at Nikki.

“After all that I’ve done for you,” he muttered, the gun aimed between Nikki’s glaring black eyes. “Where was my fault?”

Where was my fault?

Tell me, Nikki? Where did it all go so wrong?

Jarren’s blue eyes filled with a confused sadness, his ghost begging her to answer. But, she didn’t know. Where had it all gone so wrong? How could things ever be right again?

When she could offer only silence, his sadness morphed into rage. “You should have died with me,” he rasped from the shadows before pulling the trigger.

In the darkness, Nikki woke up screaming. Her black eyes wide, the darkness slowly dissipated into discernable objects as her light-sensitive vision adjusted. Heart pounding, she took in a long breath to calm her nerves. From down the hall, a thump sounded followed by heavy footfalls.

Dammit. She’d woken up Brom. Gripping the comforter, she begged her hands to stop shaking.

Brom rushed into the room and flicked on a light. Nikki winced as the new light source momentarily blinded her over-sensitive retinas. With a few blinks, they readjusted, only to be met with Brom’s hazel eyes looking over her with concern as he knelt by the couch.

“You okay?” he asked, reaching towards her but stopping inches away from her bare arm.

“I’m fine.” She forced her mouth into the same false smile she’d been trained to give customers. “Sorry about that.”

“Bad dream?”

“Yeah.” She replied dryly then gawked at his current attire – a pair of snuggly fitting black boxer briefs and nothing else. The lamplight hugged every single arching curve and deep crevice of his muscular shoulders, solid chest and hard abs. The fine, tiny scales that made up his burnt orange skin caught the light, reflecting and shimmering with each breath he took. The scent was there too – that familiar but strange Orellian spice, strong and permeating.

His hand breached the distance, his warm palm caressing her arm and making her shiver. “Nikki?”

After staring longer than she should have, she lowered her eyes back to the blanket and picked idly at its fibers. “I’m fine. Sorry for passing out on your couch.”

“Don’t sweat it. That last round was a snooze-fest. Why don’t we get you into bed, though?”

“Mine or yours, big-boy?” Her attempt at brothel house levity caused his brow the crinkle. “Sorry. Kidding.”

“I know.” He lifted her off the couch, comforter and all, and carried her into the guest room.

 


The showcase continues!
Be sure to check out the other amazing posts on the SFRB May Showcase by clicking HERE




SFR Snippets – Not In Kansas Anymore

The Sci-Fi Romance Group presents Snippet Shares!

The Sci-fi Romance Facebook Group (click here) has tons of great sci-fi books, snippets, ARC requests, giveaways and more. Today, we are sharing short snippets from our sci-fi romance books and WIPs.


Snippet

Croen frowned for a moment, moving from kneeling to sitting beside Dottie on the bunk. “Will not more of your people look for you and pick up my signal?”

“Not for a while. I sort of went off course. They’ll wait until I don’t show up at my destination on time, which would be eight days from now, then the standard one-day grace period, then they will send out a search vessel along my charted path, which will probably take two weeks for them to determine I deviated quite a bit from the plan… Boy, I really got myself into a pickle.”

“Pickle?”

“Uhm, another expletive. Kind of. I mean that I got myself into a jam.”

“Jam.” Croen shook his head at her, amused. “Humans have strange words.”

“And Artecht sounds like I have allergies,” Dottie shot back with a grin.

(See bottom of post for extended excerpt)

Not_In_Kan_Mock4


About the Book:

Seeking an escape from her life back in Kansas, Dottie signs up on a whim to become a Federation space captain! – of a tiny, solo-crew cargo hauler. Alone in space and wishing for adventure, Dottie goes off course to an uncharted star system to answer a distress call. Sure, the call is in an alien language she’s never heard, and yes, she’s probably going to get fired on her first Federation mission, but… to adventure!

After being forced down to the planet by an alien probe in orbit, Dottie meets Croen, a handsome grey-skinned man with vivid purple eyes and an energy rifle pointed right at her. Learning they are in a shared predicament, they set off together in search of the probes’ origins, what happened to the aliens whose ancient ruins litter the jungle, and how to get back home.

Along the way, they’ll face challenges, meet unexpected friends and learn home is where your heart is.


Grab Your Copy!

NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE is available at:

Amazon  |  Print  |  Goodreads


Extended Excerpt

Dottie awoke feeling as if she’d stuck her finger in an electrical outlet. A strange current tickled up her nerves, the bubbly fizz gurgling through her groggy brain and tilting her disoriented perspective sideways. Her eyes felt gritty, but she slowly forced them open to find herself laying down on the extended sleeping bunk in the dimly lit cabin of her ship. Quiet chirps drew her attention to the cockpit where Croen sat hunched over the console, tapping in commands and his attention focused on the console’s screen. The main viewscreen gave a view of outside, showing darkness and stars, and the ship’s hatch had been closed.

“What…” She coughed, her throat dry.

Tamma ul!” Croen exclaimed with a heavy exhale and a relieved look on his face as he left the pilot’s chair to kneel by the bed. “Calm, Dottie. Calm. Stay lay. Not rise.”

Dottie relented in her attempts to sit up and blinked several times at him, wondering if whatever happened had crossed her brain circuits somewhere. “You’re speaking English?”

“Try,” he smiled. “Computer make reference…taobe… Uhm, li- library? Connect to biochip. Not all way done.”

Dottie tried to put all he said together but became more confused. “Biochip?”

“Ah, yes.” Croen tapped his elongated index finger to his temple. “Small computer in brain. How much Pala work. Connect to our devices. Translate other language. Share information.”

“That’s incredible,” Dottie whispered, openly gawking at him. “Other languages? So you, the Pala, have made contact with other species?”

“Yes. Many.”

“Where? Who?” Dottie began sitting up and the room spun.

“Slow, Dottie. Hurt.” He steadied her as she groaned.

She certainly did hurt, but she fought against the pain and sat up on the bed. She’d never been one to take things lying down. Stubborn, her sister had always said. Determined, Dottie had always argued back. “What happened?”

He kept his hand on her shoulder, as if she might fall back over any minute. “Storm. Lightning strike beach. Remember?”

“Storm, right.” Dottie rubbed her eyes. “Came out of nowhere. Never seen a storm like that.”

“Ion storm from west. Comes every sundown.”

“Ion storm? Then, the ionosphere isn’t stable?”

“No. Getting worse. More violent each night since I brought here by probe.”

Inhaling deep to clear her head, she meet his eyes. “How long have you been here?”

Concern wrinkled his expression. “Three ytat. Equal sixteen your days.”

“Two weeks?” Dottie’s hopes of rescue began to fade. “But, your signal? Surely your people have heard it by now?”

“I have been…in- in-vest-igate?”

“Investigating,” she offered.

“Investigating. I put together your scan of planet with mine. I believe signal from ship to space is bent.”

“Bent?” Dottie scrunched her eyes closed for a moment, trying to put his broken English into context. “Do you mean refracted? Scattered? Uhm, sent in the wrong direction?”

“Yes. Sent in wrong direction. I sent signal to Targo’ot, closest station of Artecht Empire.”

“Ar-techt,” Dottie tried, but she felt like she sneezed through the last syllable. “Empire?”

“Yes, I-” He paused in his explanation, mouth slightly open in forming the next word. His eyes shifted to a darker hue as they darted over her expression and his head tilted left. “That word, empire, gives you concern? Why? Have I said wrong word in offense to you?”

Nervously, she swallowed and shied away from his inquisitive gaze. “In my people’s history, the term empire has always meant a great force coming to conquer others less powerful than themselves. Are your people conquerors, Croen?”

“Con-k…” he struggled to pronounce the word.

“Conquerors,” she stated more boldly, once again meeting his gaze head on. “Do you invade other planets, to rule them or take from them by force?”

His eyes went wide and shifted to bright violet. “Never. No. Perhaps wrong word. Artecht is meaning of look forward. Many planets, many species in Artecht, all one goal. Explore, share, look forward together for better now of all. Is much like your Federation from what I read in your computer files.”

Dottie let out a held breath and relaxed. “Well, then I would recommend calling yourselves the Artecht Federation or Alliance when I introduce you to my superiors. If we ever get off this planet… You were saying about your distress signal?”

His eyes faded back to their normal lavender as he explained. “I sent signal to Targo’ot. Signal should be received two ytat ago. Was not. It went other direction, to uncharted space. Your space. Signal bent by ionosphere, I believe.”

“Which is why I picked it up instead of your people? That’s…” Dottie’s stomach dropped. “That’s very bad. Computer, did you send the distress signal to our probe and direct it to the nearest Federation com-station as requested.”

“Affirmative.”

Dottie narrowed her eyes at the lifeless voice. “And did the probe acknowledge the command and leave orbit as directed?”

The computer took longer than it should to answer and came back with a beep that made it sound as if it were confused by its own findings. “Unknown.”

Sharing a look with Croen, Dottie restated the question in a different way. “Computer, is the probe still in orbit around Ozorius?”

“Unknown. A buildup of unstable ionic particles in the planet’s atmosphere is causing interference with the ship’s scanners.”

“Thanks a lot, Computer.” Dottie groaned, her chin hitting her chest as her hair flopped around her face. Her fine mess had just gotten all the more complicated. “Fuck.”

“Fuck?” Croen repeated.

Dottie’s cheeks heated as she regained control of her temper. “It’s an expletive. A word used to express frustration.”

“Ah. Then I believe it is correct for this situation. Fuck.”

Dottie giggled slightly then sighed. “Well, Croen, it appears you and I are both stuck here now, and no one will be notified about it.”

He frowned for a moment, moving from kneeling to sitting beside her on the bunk. “Will not more of your people look for you and pick up my signal?”

“Not for a while. I sort of went off course. They’ll wait until I don’t show up at my destination on time, which would be eight days from now, then the standard one-day grace period, then they will send out a search vessel along my charted path, which will probably take two weeks for them to determine I deviated quite a bit from the plan… Boy, I really got myself into a pickle.”

“Pickle?”

“Uhm, another expletive. Kind of. I mean that I got myself into a jam.”

“Jam.” Croen shook his head at her, amused. “Humans have strange words.”

“And Artecht sounds like I have allergies,” Dottie shot back with a grin. “I’m impressed, though. Your English keeps improving.”

“Yes. As we communicate, the chip will learn and alter my synaptic pathways accordingly.”

“That’s some impressive tech. Also, from the star charts you shared earlier, it seems your people have more advanced propulsion systems than us. I’d love to take a look at your engines. Wait- with your advanced propulsion systems, why has it taken so long for your people to find you? Surely they’ve organized a search party along your intended heading?”

Croen frowned, standing up and moving away from the bunk. Hands clasped behind his back, he stared out at the starry night beyond the viewscreen. “I too deviated from my designated flight path. I too am in a pickle jam.”

The serious tone he used only made it harder for Dottie not to laugh at least a little. When he turned back to her, his frown softening, she swallowed her laughter and tried to remain more professional regarding the situation they were in. “What were you doing all the way out here alone? Are you a cargo hauler like me?”

“No. I came in search of something.”

His cryptic answer made her brow winkle. “Oh. Did you find it?”

He sighed, staring back at the viewscreen as the darkness beyond began to lighten with the rising sun. “No, not yet.”

“What were you looking for?”

Her question earned an unexpected, deflated single-note laugh. His head shook slowly before lowering in defeat. “I am no longer certain.”

She opened her mouth to ask more questions, but closed it and sat in silence. Croen sounded so lost; a mirror of how she felt. Alone. Adrift. And a tad bit afraid.

Summoning her gumption, Dottie stood from the bunk and stepped next to him, her hands clasped behind her back to match his stance. “Well, at least we can be in a pickle together. And, who knows? Maybe the two of us can come up with a plan to get home, and along the way, we might even find whatever it is you’re looking for.”

His eyes lifted to look at her for a long moment, his strange irises swirling through several different hues of purple before settling on lilac. “You seem quite optimistic. Are all humans so determined to solve problems?”

“We do like a challenge.” She grinned. “And we tend to be at our best when the odds are stacked against us.”

The corner of his mouth twitched into a smirk. “Then, although I am sorry for the trouble it has caused you, I am glad you are here. Where do you propose we start?”

Dottie’s mind began filling with ideas they could try, starting with the investigation of Croen’s ship. Her stomach, however, had other ideas and gave a tiny grumble. “How about we start with breakfast?”

“Breakfast?” Croen looked puzzled.

“First meal of the day on Earth,” Dottie informed. “And by some accounts, the most important when you’re about to face a challenge.”


Grab Your Copy!

Amazon  |  Nook  |  Kobo  |  iBooks  |  PRINT 


Like the Cover? Cast your vote!

My cover is up for Cover of the Month at ALL AUTHOR. Click Here to check out all the great covers and cast your vote!





Promise The Stars Cover Reveal

This is no April fools’ joke! After many years, the Corwint series is finally making its return with Book 5: PROMISE THE STARS. As part of the Science Fiction Brigade April Showcase, I have an exclusive excerpt and cover reveal! It’s also now available for Pre-Order for $1, with a release date of May 2nd. (See below for links)

New to the series? You can get books 1 & 2 free. Click here to learn more.


COVER REVEAL:


About The Book:

To you, my dearest child, I promise the stars…

Nikki’s been to the deepest pit of darkness in the universe and lived to tell about it, barely. But, to move forward with her life, she must first go back to Thetos – where a buried secret and her father’s promise await her return. Despite her independent, defensive nature, she lets Brom into her world and under her skin bit by bit. With her Trexen biology clawing its way into fruition, including unwanted side effects like mind-reading and a deadly temper, she struggles to see herself as worthy of her father’s intellectual legacy. The more she reveals to Brom, the faster she expects him to leave. She quickly learns Orellians don’t give up so easily, and Brom’s as stubborn as they come.

But someone’s been waiting for Nikki’s return and the secret she guards. Its discovery could mean a chance at peace, or lead to all out war. In the wrong hands, even the best intentions can lead to catastrophe, and a promise can decay into regret.

Pre-order links:
Amazon  |  Nook  |  Kobo  |  Apple iBooks


Exclusive Excerpt:

One thing Nikki learned early on: if you act like you know what you’re doing, people tend to believe you do. Most people are gullible. Oblivious. Easy marks for even a novice pickpocket, and Nikki was no novice.

People barely gave her a first glance, much less a second one, as she walked down a crowded sidewalk in Easton’s busy Warren Street business district. It didn’t matter she only had on two of Brom’s t-shirts, a black one and a turquoise one, worn layered, styled and kept together by a belt and a few cleverly hidden clips she’d found in his kitchen. Her own heels and a large pair of sunglasses she’d snagged from Brom’s dresser completed the look. For all these people knew, it was the next fashion trend and not a bunch of stolen property pieced together in fifteen minutes.

Borrowed, Nikki corrected herself as her heels click-clacked over the pavement towards a packed bus terminal. Sure, she’d taken them without permission, but she had every intention of giving them back. Not in person, because that would be awkward, but she’d ship them to his apartment once she got off-world and somewhere less congested.

And less secure. It would be risky obtaining what she needed to get off this rock. Corwint’s networks were fortified strongholds comprised of firewalls, traps, false doors and checkpoints. Not that she couldn’t break through, but it was a damn pain in the ass. And, she was rusty.

Shouldering her short stature through the line at the bus terminal, she entered the bus and began pushing towards the back. Like always, Easton’s mass transit system functioned through organized chaos. No one noticed as she entered the bus, mixed in with a few kids belonging to a frazzled father who looked like he was three steps away from stepping off the ledge at the top of Transway Tower. No one said a thing as she easily dodged the One Pass payment console or methodically pushed her way down the center aisle. Not a single eye blinked her way as she swiped a man’s One Pass right from his jacket pocket before stepping off the back of the bus along with all the others exiting at the exchange terminal.

Too easy, she sighed, her nerves buzzing as her heels click-clacked away from the terminal. The guy had his One Pass right in his pocket, its corner sticking out and practically screaming ‘take me’. Thank the stars for idiots who continued using a physical card instead of a digital one, she smirked, and stars help her if ocular scanning ever caught on. Cards were easy to take; digital versions could be hacked. Even the best thief would have problems swiping an eyeball.

That thought had a small snorted laugh tickling her throat as her nerves continued to tingle. It felt good – being back on the take. Okay, sure, she felt guilty about the hassles that guy probably had in his future once he realized his One Pass was gone – you basically couldn’t function on Corwint, or within most of Alliance space, without one. Identification, travel, banking, network access, you name it; everything required your One Pass. And when you didn’t have one, well, you had to borrow someone else’s.

Stepping onto a side-street, Nikki made her way past cafes, convenience stores and bars serving the business district’s lunch hour crowd. Laughter mingled in with tired faces and trade-talk debating the next quarter’s most lucrative gambles. She did her best to blend in with her t-shirt dress, ignoring everyone while noticing everything. Instead of acting like she wore two t-shirts amongst expensive business suits and overpriced lunch martinis, her chin lifted in feigned confidence, even as the too-large necks of the t-shirts slipped sideways to bare her shoulder to the world.

‘Damn, I’d like to have a piece of that.

Nikki nearly stumbled on the pavement as the lecherous thought struck her mind like a bad chord. The words crawled up her spine, their repugnant nature strong enough to feel as the man responsible for them stepped into her path. It was the first unwanted thought her mind had let in all morning since starting her little adventure, but it acted like a wedge. Now the door was open, and more thoughts began flooding in. Her eyes winced as the familiar headache set in.

“You okay?” Mr. Lecherous smiled down at her, his manicured hands reaching out.

‘One more drink. One more. One more does not make me an alcoholic.’ The new thought assaulted her from one of the cafe tables set under a large umbrella where a man sat nursing a tumbler glass.

‘Shit, I’m gonna be late again!’ A young man, probably an intern, ran by with tie askew and a half-eaten sandwich stuffed into his mouth.

‘Gods save me; Meira’s got a nice rack.’ Nikki had no idea where that guy was, but it was quickly followed by a woman’s ire.

‘If Kent doesn’t stop staring at my tits, I’m going to report him to HR. Sleazebag.’

The thoughts continued filtering in, growing from a quiet rumble to a loud cacophony within seconds. It was too crowded here; too many people running on too much caffeine and not enough sleep. They were all thinking about stupid, random shit, pumped up on emotions heightened by stressful work environments.

“Lady?” Mr. Lecherous touched her bare shoulder. “Why don’t you let me buy you a drink?”

A growl settled in her throat, her claws digging into the meat of her palms. He shouldn’t be touching me. He has no right to touch me. I should take his hand and break every finger for- The Trexen within her wanted to see blood.

“Lady?” ‘Damn, she must be doped up on Sil. I could take care of her…’

‘Is the conference tomorrow? I don’t think I turned in the numbers to Greg…’

‘This can’t be right… It was a sound investment! I’ll kill Jayna for giving me that bogus tip.’

‘Meira. Meira. Fuck, I’d like to get my cock between those tits and-’

“Shut up!” Nikki’s plea came out as a shouted hiss with bared fangs, the world around her tilting.

“Whoa!” Mr. Lecherous stepped back, hands raised. “Maybe I should call Central Security? Get you a ride to the hospital or…?”

“No, I…” Nikki swallowed hard, her eyes stamping shut. But, the noise wouldn’t stop. If anything, her outburst had drawn more attention, and the crowd’s thoughts focused in on her like rabid, barking dogs.

Is she alright?’

‘Is that man assaulting her?’

‘I should call security.’

She needed to get away from them, but her feet refused to move as the dizziness increased. Each breath grew tighter, harder to take. Stars have mercy, she was drowning in the middle of Warren Street.

 


The showcase continues!
Be sure to check out the other amazing posts on the SFRB April Showcase by clicking HERE




SFR Showcase March 2017

I’m so excited! After a long break, my new sci-fi romance book, NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE, releases this month! Below, you can read about how the heroine and hero meet for the first time in an excerpt exclusively available via the Science Fiction Romance Brigade showcase!

About the Book:

Not_In_Kan_Mock4

Seeking an escape from her life back in Kansas, Dottie signs up on a whim to become a Federation space captain! – of a tiny, solo-crew cargo hauler. Alone in space and wishing for adventure, Dottie goes off course to an uncharted star system to answer a distress call. Sure, the call is in an alien language she’s never heard, and yes, she’s probably going to get fired on her first Federation mission, but… to adventure!

After being forced down to the planet by an alien probe in orbit, Dottie meets Croen, a handsome grey-skinned man with vivid purple eyes and an energy rifle pointed right at her. Learning they are in a shared predicament, they set off together in search of the probes’ origins, what happened to the aliens whose ancient ruins litter the jungle, and how to get back home.

Along the way, they’ll face challenges, meet unexpected friends and learn home is where your heart is.


Excerpt

Perhaps she had been premature in dismissing the idea of building a vacation home on Ozorius. It had a balmy temperature, fragrant air, cute wildlife, and a strange sense of familiarity. It wasn’t Earth, obviously, but almost a sideways, parallel version of Earth? She rolled her eyes at her own description, feeling far from a trained expedition scientist. The sense of familiarity lingered, however, the more plant leaves she picked and the more lifeforms she noticed.

There were crabs, but they were spikey and bright orange instead of brown or red. There were lemurs, but of a type extinct on Earth. There were recognizable ferns and milkweeds, but different enough to make her question the scanner. It felt as if she were walking in a dream of what Earth could be if it were only slightly altered in the finest of details. Familiar enough to be comforting, different enough to be magical.

“Magical?” Dottie stopped in her tracks near a pink tuft of seaside grass. “Computer, delete that last line from the log. I’ll think of something more scientific later.”

“Deleted,” came the response from the com-watch.

She’d been recording her investigations, talking to herself in the hopes of feeling less alone. And, hopefully save her job. Okay, so she mostly hoped to save her job. Being alone had never been a problem for her. In fact, she used to relish any sliver of peace she could achieve away from her sister, Tess. Dottie had spent countless hours in her treehouse back on the farm; a quiet refuge where she could dream about the stars and all the things she might discover one day.

And here she was, on an alien world no human had ever set foot on before. Smiling, she allowed herself a moment to be in awe of it all. The crisp scent of sea salt traveled on the next breeze. She closed her eyes, breathed it in and listened to the crashing waves. The place was beautiful, and future unemployment seemed such a trivial price to pay for the experience.

A rustle in the trees from behind made her grin. The lemurs had yet to abandon her, although they had become a bit quiet. Too quiet. Silent, actually. The hair rose along the back of her neck.

An alarm call went out, and the rest joined in. Her eyes snapped open as she whirled around towards the tree line, expecting to see some giant, toothy dinosaur on the beach looking for a human-sized snack. Instead, she was greeted by a pair of bright, lavender eyes and the barrel of a phaser rifle.

A gasping yelp stuck in her throat as her hands shot up, dropping the scanner to the sand. For a split-second, she debated reaching for her own phaser, but the scowl on the alien’s face made it clear he wouldn’t hesitate to fire. She had no interest in seeing if he had his rifle set to stun or disintegrate.

Trotockt, runa. Reut?” he asked in a voice she recognized immediately.

“Oh, it’s you!” Her hands lowered slightly then shot back up as he tilted his head in confusion and nudged the rifle at her, an obvious indication to not move. “Sorry,” she stammered. “But, you sent a distress call, and so, well, here I am! And… you have no idea what I’m saying, do you?”

His eyebrows, a shade of silver that shimmered almost violet, raised and his head tilted the other way. “Tragacht, runa? Yudktra no’n ado?”

The wind caught his gray hair, and it too shimmered through various shades of violet and lavender. His skin was gray too, his body, lean and tall. Taller than her by a foot, at least. Beyond the height and the coloring, he looked oddly human. Once again, Dottie found herself wondering if this was all some crazy, space-dementia induced dream.

Tragacht, runa?” he insisted with another poke of his rifle.

“I don’t understand,” she sighed, trying to think of anything in her training that could help. She pointed up at the sky and made a downward motion with her hand. “My space ship was taken hostage by a probe. Your probe, maybe? You know, uhm, a probe?” Wow, she sucked at this…

“Pr…ohba?” he repeated back.

“Probe, right! Uhm…” Her eyes darted over the beach and spotted a stick. With careful, slow movements, she inched over to the stick. As she bent down to pick it up, he stopped her. She stepped back and pointed at it. “Please?”

His lavender eyes moved between her and the thin stick. He picked it up, never lowering his rifle, and examined it. It was clearly not a weapon matched to his rifle, so he handed it over.

She forced a nervous smile. “Thank you.”

He held the rifle steady in both hands, waiting. “Prohba?”

She bit her bottom lip to keep from snickering at his pronunciation then crouched down near the sand. She drew a circle, Ozorius, then a rectangular box for her ship. She pointed at herself then the box a few times, then made a motion with her hand to indicate the box coming to the planet. If he understood, she couldn’t tell, but both his eyebrows were raised again and he watched her movements intently.

“I came here because of your message,” she said, mostly to herself. Then she drew the cylindrical alien probe. The sand made the probe luminesce in gold outlines, and it almost looked pretty despite the trouble it had caused.

Brintza!” he exclaimed when she completed the probe. He pointed at it with the rifle then at her. “Brintza tragacht, runa? Kelna!”

Wonderful, now he thought she had sent the probe. Judging by how angry he’d become, he hadn’t sent the probe, either. He appeared to be another victim, caught in the same booby trap.

“No, no,” she shook her head, hoping it didn’t mean ‘yes’ in his culture. She pointed at the probe then to her box and tried to make motions that told how the probe dragged her ship-box down to the circle in the sand. All she could do, besides continue with her crappy charades, was hope the alien had half a brain in his skull.


Grab Your Copy!

NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE is available at:

Amazon  |  Print  |  Goodreads


Continue with the Showcase!

Click here to read more from the awesome authors of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade