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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!

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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.


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NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE is available at:

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SFR Showcase February 2017

It’s 2017 and the Science Fiction Romance Brigade Showcase is back! This month I have an excerpt from NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE, which is now available on Pre-Order for a limited time price of $0.99 cents. Links will be at the bottom, and be sure to check out all the other great posts this month from the SFR community.

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

Dottie had done time in the crash simulators during her training. The procedure had been drilled into her skull through various scenarios, including one in which the ship lost power while landing on a planet. Strap in, launch the emergency distress beacon, deploy the buoyancy stabilizers, aim for water. There was nothing in her training, though, for how to deal with being pulled down to a planet by an alien probe. Not that she could deploy the beacon or the stabilizers if she wanted to. The ship’s systems were locked and unresponsive. Gritting her teeth, she held on and hoped the damn alien probe knew how to land her space barge of a ship without killing her.

Or destroying the cargo from her first ever space mission. Damn. She was not looking forward to explaining how her cargo had ended up on an alien beach in an area of space she wasn’t supposed to be in.

As the ship neared the beach, the probe slowed down and the console beeped. “The probe has deployed the ship’s landing gear,” the Computer informed. “Preparing to vent manifold.”

“Delay that,” Dottie commanded. “Do not vent. As soon as the probe releases us, I want you to recharge the impulse engines for planetary launch and get us back into orbit, pronto.”

“Unable to comply. The probe has locked engine control.”

“Then unlock it!” The ship listed left then right as the landing gear balanced the ship at the edge of the jungle where thinly trunked, broad-leafed trees met white sand.

“Unable to comply. Control access has been encrypted.”

“Dammit. Well, do you have any good news?” Dottie asked sourly while scowling at the viewscreen’s display of what she might consider a nice vacation spot if she hadn’t been forced there by an alien probe.

The computer twittered a beep, as if laughing at her. “Landing complete. You may now safely disembark.”

“Thank you,” Dottie replied flatly. Feeling stubborn, and a little helpless, she crossed her arms indignantly and remained harnessed in the flight chair. Outside, the probe’s tractor beam disengaged and the cylinder hovered for a moment before taking off and disappearing out of view. “What? Not going to stay and see the fish you reeled in? Figures.”

Expecting some sort of alien welcoming, or unwelcoming, party to show up, Dottie waited safe and secure inside the ship. And waited. And waited… “What the hell?”

She sat there for twenty minutes, but the viewscreen continued to show her nothing but the split line of jungle meeting seashore. Unstrapping the harness, she stood up and paced the cabin, pausing with each pass by the hatch and debating with herself about the reasons to, or not to, open it. The computer had already confirmed the air was breathable and the environment pleasant. There were the unknown ‘large lifeforms’ somewhere out there, but sitting in the control-locked ship was getting her nowhere.

“Well, if they’re not going to come say hello…” Dottie stopped at the hatch, steeled her resolve and opened it. The compression seal hissed and the hydraulics groaned as the hatch split in two, the top half lifting up to the sky and the bottom half forming a ramp to the ground. Unexpected birdsong filled the cabin, along with the sounds of crashing waves against the shore and a breeze rustling the large elephant-ear shaped leaves canopying over her ship. At her feet, the white sand shimmered with a strange, flickering yellow luminescence, and above her head the smoky lavender clouds passed by against a peach sky.

“Computer,” she murmured, her eyes wide. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

“That would be an accurate assumption. This ship disembarked the Topeka Boeing facility on stardate-”

“Stop ruining the moment,” Dottie muttered.

 


Grab Your Copy!

NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE is available at a special, limited time pre-order price of $0.99 cents.

Amazon  |  Nook  |  Kobo  |  iBooks

(If you requested a free copy during the Christmas Showcase Giveaway, it will be mailed to you in March.)


Continue with the Showcase!

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