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:
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.
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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