Jumping Thoughts was released a few days earlier. This was my first exploration and test case into e-publishing.
Worked on a new paranormal novella.
March - April
Editing titles and learning more about e-formatting and publishing.
Horse Charmer is published as an ebook.
Worked on an untitled cyberpunk novella project.
Completed my first successful Fast Draft in 14 Days and wrote Unicorn Keep.
Worked on an untitled paranormal novella.
Editing and figuring out how to release a print book.
Horse Charmer is released as a print book.
The Beast's Redemption my first Angie Derek title is released.
October - November
Lots of editing and preparation for December releases and submissions.
Spectors is released as an ebook.
Whitelighter is released as an ebook.
Monday, December 26, 2011
WHITELIGHTER by Angie Derek. A steamy paranormal romance novella. Content warning: Violent battle scene below.
Lily Conner raced up the stairs. Her breath came in ragged gasps. The only thing keeping her moving was the vampires in hot pursuit behind them. The hotel lobby crawled with vampires blocking their escape. Unfortunately, two vamps had spotted them darting back up the fire stairs.
Her own personal vamp ran behind, keeping her going at a non-human speed and carrying her four-year-old sister. If she were holding Sophie, they wouldn’t be moving at this hard pace.
“Faster!” Brenda pushed steadily against her back.
She didn’t waste breath telling Brenda she couldn’t go any faster. It didn’t matter that they were being pursued. Her body could run only so fast. The sound of the other two vamps climbing a couple of stories below echoed up the stairs. Fighting against her growing fatigue, she somehow pulled the energy out to run up to the final floor of the high-rise hotel. She shoved against the fire door and stumbled into the large and extensive gym stretched out across the entire length of the hotel.
Staggering a few feet in, she collapsed against the soft gymnastic mats laid out in a large square in this corner of the room. On her knees, she sucked in air and pressed on her throbbing chest. The pain threatened to swamp her, but she pushed it down as oxygen struggled through her lungs. She glanced around the room to assess escape and weapon possibilities as Brenda had drilled her. Her backpack carried two stakes and a change of clothing. Her sister wore an identical if smaller backpack. But the problem with stakes was having to get up close and personal for them to be effective.
The main entrance across the room worried her the most. The double elevators could fit more than twenty vamps if they were on their way up. During the two years she had been on the run from the vampires she had learned that fighting a pack was practically impossible. You had to run and run fast.
Brenda set Sophie down next to Lily, her lightning fast gaze taking in the room as she prepared for the two vampires. The vamp dropped a much larger duffle bag which held the rest of their possessions and her own personal backpack next to Lily.
Lily had to get her energy back if she was going to have any chance of defending herself and Sophie from the two vamps about to come through the door let alone the master vampire controlling the vamp mob pursuing them. The pack wouldn’t have been in the lobby so openly unless they had a reason, and a reason could only be supplied by a master.
Brenda darted to the section of the gym devoted to weight lifting before pacing back to drop a metal bar from a barbell next to Lily. She hefted the bar and grimaced at the weight as her arm protested. Pivoting, she faced the fire escape door as Brenda took up her battle stance. The sound of the vamps climbing the final flight filtered through the heavy door. Two stakes appeared in Brenda’s palms and she went completely still, a predator awaiting its prey.
Lily couldn’t manage complete stillness as her arms trembled. She hadn’t yet regained her strength, but she gripped the bar with both hands and hefted it up as best she could.
The door crashed open and two gangly vampires filled the doorway. Their gazes went immediately to where Lily kneeled. A bad move on their part, because they didn’t notice Brenda until she’d already flung the stakes right into their chests. The vamps clawed at the weapons for half a second before falling. Brenda dragged them both into the gym and stuck her head into the stair well. She listened for a moment before slamming the door shut to turn back to the bodies. She knelt over them to make sure they were truly dead. Giving each stake a final nudge, she stood back up.
Lily lowered the bar, the threat over for the moment and focused her attention on Sophie. Her little sister looked more tired than scared, trusting Brenda and Lily to keep her safe. Sophie took everything in stride, but when all you knew was running for your life how else would you take life-threatening situations? She had been only two when their parents were murdered by the vampires and Lily wasn’t sure she had more than vague memories of normal life. Lily wasn’t so lucky. Her memories were crystal clear since she had just turned seventeen when they had barely escaped that night.
Cupping Sophie’s ponytail, she let the silky strands run through her fingers. “How you doin’, Soph?” Her sister leaned into her without saying anything. Lily focused on Brenda prowling about the room. “How many do you think will come?” She looked toward the elevator bank and wrapped her fingers more securely around the metal bar.
Brenda considered her question, but didn’t stop her movements. “Depends on if they find our scent on the stairs and whether the master goes to our room alone. He might not want to risk controlling the others in your presence, but once he realizes our room’s vacant he might send them out to search for you. I don’t think this pair told anyone they spotted us. They were hoping to have you to themselves.”
“So we don’t know what we’ll be facing.” She frowned in worry. The vamps had chased them into a corner. “We should have tried to make a run for it through the lobby.”
“That’s what they were waiting for. We wouldn’t have made it near the door.”
“If a pack of them comes up here we won’t be any better off.”
“We have a chance it could just be the master.”
Lily raised an eyebrow in doubt. Fighting a master didn’t seem like better odds to her. She tried to see the super large room through the vampire’s eyes. Make a strategy to defend herself and Sophie. Every moment was one moment closer to them being found. She needed to be focused for the fight to come. A large bang echoed up the stairs and Brenda snatched Sophie out of her arms. Lily stood and hefted the metal bar up as she followed Brenda to the farthest wall away from the main entrance and back staircase. She took Sophie as Brenda pivoted to face the threat. Sophie wrapped her arms and legs solidly around Lily.
A single vampire emerged from the doorway. Evil radiated from him and his soulless eyes.
The master vampire.
Looking past the two dead vampires and Brenda’s impressive battle stance, he focused on Lily. Death gleamed in his smile.
Her heart stuttered and she forced her eyes away from his face. She set Sophie down and kneeled beside her, keeping her mouth close to her sister’s ear. “You need to run, sweetie. Can you run for me?”
Fear passed through Sophie’s blue eyes for the first time. “You can’t leave me.”
“I’ll be right behind you.”
Brenda pulled out a cursed silver dagger with one hand and a wooden spike with her other, distracting the master away from the sisters as he focused on her movements.
Lily set Sophie apart from her and pointed to the stairs by the elevator. “I need you to go and hide. Remember the hiding games Brenda practiced with you. We’re gonna play now.”
Sophie made it to the entrance of the workout area before she turned and cast a fearful look toward the master as he moved in on Brenda.
Lily jerked her attention away from Sophie. Brenda and the master leapt at each other. The master far outmatched Brenda who had always amazed Lily with her swiftness and fighting ability. She stepped forward to back up Brenda, but hesitated not wanting to risk hitting Brenda with the pipe. She glanced back at Sophie, frozen beside a treadmill, her eyes wide in her petite face.
Sophie started to cry and shook her head in denial. Fear for her sister made Lily move closer to the snarling vampires. If Sophie wasn’t going to get herself to safety it would be up to her to keep her sister from a horrible death.
Brenda suddenly froze and fell. Disbelief and terror lanced through Lily. Brenda’s dagger and stake were buried deep in her own chest. The master had used her own weapons against her. Sophie’s scream filled the gym.
He smiled over Brenda’s dead body and beckoned to Lily.
Everything Brenda had taught her flew right out of her head. Pure terror filled her as if she was drowning.
He stepped over Brenda’s lifeless form, his gaze sliding past Lily to where Sophie continued to make small keening sounds. “She’s a tasty morsel, but you’re delectable. I'll save her for dessert.”
The terror fled as the power within rose up at his words. She would protect her little sister. Her fingers trembled as she filled with white light, the same light that made her a target to every master vampire and dark creature in the first place. Her hand heated and flashed to burning as she flung it toward Brenda. The dagger, buried deep in Brenda’s chest, released and rose up to fly into the master vampire’s back. The stake followed shortly behind it.
His smile froze as his body registered the impact and he reached back in vain to pull the weapons out. He pitched forward with a body shaking rattle.
Not believing what she’d done, she stood frozen for a full minute. Staring at her hand, the burning sensation faded away and she clenched it around the metal bar, hefting it up with both hands. She had to check on Brenda. Perhaps she wasn’t dead, as she appeared to be. Lily stepped carefully around the master vampire.
Sophie broke her petrified stance and ran to her, making a wide berth around the dead vampire. Sophie grabbed on to her arm, but she couldn’t focus on her distraught sister just yet. The power she couldn’t control surged within her. She knelt beside Brenda and instinctively ran her hands over the wounds. Her fingers tingled and burned. White light shot out of her palms and into Brenda’s body. She placed her hand over the worst wound on Brenda’s heart, blood seeped up through her fingers.
A breath shuddered out of her protector’s body. She jerked awake, her eyes snapped open and focused on Lily. “Where is he?”
“Dead,” she whispered another type of exhaustion besides fatigue filling her. She reached out to Sophie, drawing her closer.
Brenda grimaced in pain as she rose up on her elbows to verify the threat was indeed taken out. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of the fallen vampire. “He’s not the only vampire in the building.” She flinched as she pushed herself up into a sitting position and examined her wounds. “What did you do?” She didn’t sound too thrilled with Lily bringing her back from the dead.
“I don’t know.” Lily shook her head. “Now probably isn’t the time to discuss it.” Standing up, she helped Brenda to her feet. “Can you run? I have a feeling we’re going to do a lot of running.”
“I’m gonna have to.” Brenda held her hand out for Lily’s bar. She shot a regretful look at the cursed dagger buried deep in the master vampire.
Lily understood her regret, but they couldn’t risk removing the dagger in case it was what was keeping the vampire down and not the stake. She scooped the now silent Sophie up and kissed her tear streaked cheek. “We’re getting out of here.”
Brenda snagged the dropped duffle bag and her backpack before moving slowly toward the stairs they had come up and stuck her head in the stairwell, listening. With over thirty floors in the building there were plenty of places for the vamps to be waiting for them. She motioned for Lily to follow her and they went quickly down five flights before finding a floor that didn’t stink of vampire. Brenda walked with obvious difficulty. Lily tried not to mull over the possibility of being attacked without Brenda able to defend them. Her power had fizzled down again after healing Brenda and she wasn’t confident in her ability to call it up on command.
They walked swiftly down the twenty-fifth floor hallway to the elevator banks.
She melted back against the wall, Sophie secure in her arms. Brenda punched the down arrow and they waited for what seemed like an eternity before the arrow’s light turned off and the doors swooshed silently open. Brenda had the bar ready for a pack of vampires, but the elevator was blessedly vacant.
“Let’s go,” Brenda said. Lily hurried to catch up with her, raising an eyebrow when Brenda hit the button for the second floor. “We don’t need to announce our arrival. Especially…” She placed a hand over her chest and pushed as if to get rid of an ache.
“How hurt are you?” Lily whispered trying not to alarm Sophie.
“Enough that I think we should avoid a confrontation if at all possible.”
Worry crawled up her belly at the vamp’s admission to not having the strength to fight. “How do you suggest we get out of the building? It can’t be long until one of them finds him.”
“Housekeeping and room service are on the second floor. There’s a service elevator that goes from there down to the main floor and garage.”
“So, we head for the garage?”
Brenda didn’t bother to nod as the elevator hopped and the doors opened. Their luck seemed to hold. There weren’t any vamps in the hallway. Brenda stayed behind Lily out of cosmetic necessity. Thick wet blood coated the front of her chest. Too much to explain away if anyone happened to notice. Lily hid the streaks of blood she’d smeared across her own shirt with Sophie.
None of the kitchen staff paid any attention to them as they made their way through the kitchen to the service elevator. It amazed her how people could have supernatural beings all around them and no idea they could be five minutes away from their own death. She hit the elevator down key and listened as the elevator cranked up. The hotel obviously wasn’t worried about keeping this one as silently running as the guest elevators.
She waited until the doors closed before she brought up her next worry. “What if they have someone waiting? He has sentries stationed at the other exits. He would have them in the parking garage.”
Brenda nodded. “We have to exit at some point.”
“The garage won’t have many people.”
“How? They can attack us without fear of anyone else stepping in.”
“That’s why they have so many in the public areas. They figure we’ll try to stay with the crowds. Safety in numbers. They aren’t expecting us to go where they would be more comfortable. What they’re forgetting is I know they won’t be able to restrain themselves once they get close to you. Public or private won’t matter, they’ll attack.”
“You make it sound like I’m a giant neon light.”
“Might as well be. You could never blend into the crowd with a vampire watching.”
“We’ve never really tried.”
“And we aren’t going to try now.” Brenda dropped the duffle below the elevator bank buttons. “Step back.”
She nodded, shifting to the corner of the elevator with Sophie secure in her arms. The elevator door laboriously opened and Brenda stood ready for any vampires. She was out the door before it finished opening and made impact with someone. Several thuds and grunts echoed in the garage. The silence that followed was just as loud as the fight.
Brenda stuck her head back into the elevator and snagged the duffle. “Let’s go!”
Lily shifted Sophie slightly and followed Brenda out. A lone vampire lay on the floor next to a car.
“This way, there’s a fire exit I doubt’s guarded. They weren’t expecting us.”
“The other ran up the stairs, no doubt to get reinforcements.” Brenda hit the fire door.
They ran up a single flight of stairs to the back of the building into a dark alley squished between two huge buildings. Hardly any of the city’s lights filtered down.
“Head over there.” Brenda pointed deeper into the alley where it wrapped around the other building. “Stay off the main street.”
“Where are you going?”
“They’re gonna be right behind us. I have a stronger smell right now because of this.” She gestured to her injury.
“Your blood’s on me. Sophie too.”
“It’s dried. Don’t worry they’ll follow me.” She motioned down the alley again. “Go, I’ll meet you at the safety point in the morning.”
Lily bit her lip in automatic doubt, but nodded and turned to jog down the alley away from all the vampires including her guardian.
Friday, December 23, 2011
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Whitelighter by Angie Derek - a paranormal romance novella
Lily Conner is a witch with an unusual side affect to her powers – she glows like a neon white light to all supernatural creatures. A vampire who kills her will absorb her light gaining the ability to use magic. Two years ago her family was killed when a pack of vampires followed her home. She barely escaped with her toddler sister in tow. Now she lives on the run with her four-year-old sister and a vampire bodyguard.
Reyes Vega lost his whitelighter sister to vampires several years ago. When he meets Lily and her sister he knows he can’t let another whitelighter fall victim to the vampires and sets out to protect her from the same fate as his sister.
Content Warning: Detailed sexually explicit love scenes. Some violent battle scenes.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Border Planet Region – Planet Talin
Death shadowed him. He wouldn’t get off this planet alive. Luke Ryan knew the truth with every instinct he possessed. Mentally ticking off everything he would have to do, he walked as swiftly as he dared. They were behind and possibly around him, the one reason he didn’t allow himself to run and reveal he knew they were coming to take him. What they didn’t know was what he held in his possession. The one item that would allow his people a chance at taking the aliens down. If they knew he had it, he wouldn’t have made it to the docking yard.
Now, he just had to get to his ship and send the information he’d obtained to O’Neal. That was the mental checklist he was going through. There were ways to intercept a coded message before it reached its recipient. He had to make sure the message wasn’t intercepted or all hope would be lost. They were too cunning and strong.
Once he’d insured the information’s safety, he’d attempt to get his ship off this rock, but he wasn’t fooling himself on his chances. He grimaced as he judged how much farther he’d have to pretend he wasn’t being chased. Of course, he’d landed the Marauder on the opposite end of the docking zone when he arrived on Talin something he preferred as the docking authority tended to turn a blind eye on that zone.
Cursing under his breath, Luke forced himself to keep the same even stride as he passed numerous ships and their busy crews. He ignored the few people who sidled up to him to try to make a deal. As he drew near the Marauder, he unconsciously glanced over his shoulder before catching himself and focusing back on his destination. His fingers twitched in the remembered sequence to unlock the hatch. If he could get in and lock it down, he might buy himself some time.
There was no chance he’d escape this hellish planet. Not with what he was carrying on him, but he could get the information out. Warn the one person he cared about in the galaxy. He wound around several stacks of packing crates before he could finally see the hatch. His shoulders itched with the urge to look behind him.
He smacked the hatch and the coded panel slid back with a beep. His fingers punched in the code in less than three seconds and the hatch clicked and soundlessly slid open. He finally allowed himself to run and jumped aboard. He spun and keyed the door shut, entering in a complicated series to lock the entire ship down. If only he’d finished the upgrades so he could run the Marauder as a one-man ship, but he’d never considered the possibility he’d have no crew to run her or a crew he couldn’t trust.
“Computer, who’s on the ship?” Luke pushed a button on a display as he asked the question.
“Captain Luke Ryan detected.” The computer hummed for half a second. “No other life forms detected onboard.”
Satisfied he didn’t have to watch his back, he ran down to his own quarters where the only secure computer was housed. He shut the door and entered in another complicated sequence to lock the door down. He didn’t know who in his crew had been killed and who had been compromised so he had to change each lock sequence.
He moved away from the door to his small desk in the cluttered quarters. When you’d lived the last thirty years in a ship your space tended to fill up with the small items too painful or valuable to part with. The monitor lit up as it sensed him and he leaned over the desk to call up the communication array. It blinked and he pulled a small data disc out of his pocket and inserted it into the slot.
“O’Neal,” Luke said as the array recorded and transmitted on multiple secured frequencies. “I’ve been compromised. My crew’s disappeared.” Saying the words made his gut clench and he paced away from his desk to get the rage under control. Leaning back over the computer, he continued. “I found something. Could be what we’ve been looking for.” He was positive it was exactly what they had been looking for. “The data’s attached to this message. I won’t be making it off planet.” He took a deep breath. “I know there won’t be a SAR.
“We’ve got to know more about them if we’re going to save ourselves. You’ll need to find someone better than me to finish the mission.” He looked to one of the shelves with a digital frame of his one and only living breathing relative. He hadn’t spoken to his daughter in over a year. He hadn’t been able to bridge the gap between them. The one thing he regretted. “Look close to home. My home.”
His perimeter alarms blared. Someone was trying to force themselves on his ship. He snarled as he shut his computer down. He wouldn’t let them take him alive. He knew too much about O’Neal’s operation to allow them to use him, but he wasn’t willing to take his own life. He would make them take him out and hopefully take a few of the bastards with him. He pulled several weapons out from under his bed and ran out of his quarters to the bridge.
He had to at least try to get the Marauder up and flying. The sounds of metal sparking greeted him and he cursed. They were cutting his hatch to pieces with a torch. He’d almost made it to the bridge when he heard the unmistakable sound of metal ripping and a huge crash. They’d gained entry.
There was a second of silence as he spun to face the new threat. He hesitated and lost his chance to get to the bridge as a shadow moved in the opening. It would take a full minute to warm up the Marauder’s engines. He opened one of his crew’s quarters and placed himself in the doorway on one knee raising the rifle to his shoulder and waiting for the first one to come through the door.
Somewhere in the Border Planet Region – 36 hours later
Kristy Ryan hated to cry. It wasn’t just the outward sign of weakness that bothered her, but the crying hangover always put her in a foul mood. She’d woken with tear tracks running down her cheeks and had tried to hide them. But Andrew Bennet was just a little too observant. He had that “you’re going to tell me what’s going on” look on his face.
She grimaced at her own face in the small head as she pulled her brown hair back into a tight pony tail. She’d washed away all signs of the crying jag. Why the heck had she been crying in her sleep again?
She puttered around the small space trying to see if she could out wait Andrew. After a
couple more minutes, she cracked the door and groaned. He was sitting on her bed waiting for her. The look still in place on his too handsome face. If he wasn’t so cute, she would have booted him off her ship a long time ago.
“Talk,” he demanded.
“We’re on schedule to make the delivery.” She pulled her jumpsuit out of its cubby and stepped into it with quick efficiency. The sooner she got dressed, the sooner she could escape the interrogation.
“You were crying.”
“I don’t cry.”
“What’s bothering you?” he asked, abandoning the old crying argument.
“Nothing,” she said which was half true since she didn’t know what was bothering her.
“Kristy.” He sighed as he stood up and walked her into a corner. “We can go back and forth like this ‘til I wear you down or we can cut to the chase and you can tell me why you’ve been crying in your sleep again. Dreams?”
She didn’t talk about the dreams from her childhood. “No.”
He tilted her chin up, forcing her to meet his eyes. “You need to let it out.”
“I don’t have to let anything out.” She jerked away and ducked around him.
“You know,” he drawled and her shoulder’s hunched in response to his sardonic tone. “One day you’ll get your wish and I’ll get sick and tired of all your crap.”
“My crap.” She spun around. “Don’t put your issues on me. I’m fine. You’re the one who always wants to talk.”
“Pardon me for wanting more than a quick screw here and there.”
She slammed out the door and headed for the common room. She had no intention of being drawn into the old relationship argument. Though her ship was equipped with state of the art long range engines the Unicorn really didn’t have a lot of space to escape from people who were annoying you. When she saw the single feline of her crew, Wilhelmina, in the common room she nearly turned around and headed back to her room.
“Something wrong?” Wilhelmina purred, her Aryehen accent deepening with concern.
Kristy gave up on the thought of turning around and perched on one of the stools. She might as well get it over with. Wilhelmina always treated her as if she was one of her cubs and not her captain. Probably came from knowing Kristy since she was a child.
Kristy forced a smile. “A small disagreement.” This was what she hated about the confinement of space. There was way too much time to talk.
“The two of you have been having a lot of disagreements lately,” Wilhelmina purred, her emerald green eyes narrowing.
Long practice taught her she couldn’t outright lie to Wilhelmina. She didn’t know if the lie detection was something all Aryeh could do since Wilhelmina was the only one she knew. In fact, normally she enjoyed having the Aryeh’s skills when they were focused on her opponents. She was less thrilled when they were one hundred percent focused on her. “Your point?”
“You would think you two would have gotten to the bottom of what’s wrong by now.”
“You’d think so,” Andrew drawled from the hallway.
Kristy spun to glare at him, his comment still stinging. He smiled cockily. She refrained from launching herself up and physically attacking him. It was what he expected and probably what he wanted so she turned her back on him and fumed.
“It isn’t good for morale when you two are fighting,” Wilhelmina scolded.
Her fuming took a back seat to amusement at the image of her crew worrying about her and Andrew. “I doubt a bunch of pirates really give a damn.”
“I want you two to make up.” Wilhelmina frowned at her as if Kristy could miss the disapproval radiating off the cat in waves. She really hated it when her cubs didn’t do as she saw fit.
Andrew snorted in laughter, but quickly swallowed it when Wilhelmina turned her frown on him. Kristy didn’t bother protesting Wilhelmina’s demand. She would keep hounding them until she got what she wanted.
Andrew controlled his laughter and turned to Kristy with mock seriousness. “Sorry, Captain.”
She raised an eyebrow. “You should be.”
Wilhelmina clucked in displeasure. “Kristy, I’m not letting either of you out of here until you apologize.”
“Fine.” She turned to him with an overly sweet smile. “I apologize.”
“That’s better,” Wilhelmina purred. “Don’t you both feel better now?”
Kristy was given a reprieve when the comm beeped. Glenn Cadoc’s voice came over the speakers. “Kristy to the bridge.”
She jumped up and headed out the opposite door more eagerly than she would have normally to see what Glenn wanted. Anything to escape the touchy-feely session Wilhelmina was gearing up for.
Andrew watched Kristy practically run down the short hallway before she turned out of sight. Wilhelmina’s gaze on him was like having laser sights on his back. He turned and flashed her a grin hoping to divert whatever was on her mind.
“Why did you pick a fight?” she asked.
Looks like she wasn’t diverted, he dropped his grin. “Who says I did?” He shrugged in irritation when she continued to keep him under her laser stare. “Something’s bothering her and she won’t talk about it.”
“You could always try asking her what’s wrong.”
He almost rolled his eyes. How many times had he had similar conversations like this with Wilhelmina? “Kristy doesn’t do direct.”
“You know that about her.”
He sighed, but held back the tiredness he felt at constantly banging against her walls. “Maybe I’m sick of playing the game.”
She stood up and walked to where he stood. “You knew what she was like when you followed her off her father’s ship.”
He straightened from his slouched position, not appreciating the guilt trip. “Sure, but I didn’t think she’d be this careful forever. How long will it take for me to prove myself to her?”
“You worked for her father. She built those walls so she could survive. Survival is the strongest force out here and that very act defined her”
He dropped her piercing gaze and scuffed his foot. “So Luke wasn’t the most loving father, but he wasn’t a monster either. She got away didn’t she.” He looked back up at her and motioned around them. “She’s got her own ship and proved she didn’t need him to survive. I’ve waited for nearly seven years. Maybe I’m tired of waiting for something that’s never going to happen.”
“She loves you,” she protested. “You know that.”
Kristy leaned over Glenn’s shoulder to look at the monitor he was tapping. He hadn’t vacated the pilot’s seat when she joined him so she perched on the descrambler box behind him. There wasn’t a lot of maneuvering room in the bridge. It had been designed for function not comfort.
”What’ve we got?” Kristy asked.
“MSA on our tail,” he said, his words terse, his hatred for anything related to the Military Space Alliance clear in his tone. “They shifted course to intercept us as soon as they dropped out of hyperspace.”
“Have they contacted us?” She tapped the screen herself to enlarge the image of the large silver fighter class ship.
“Nope, but they will. They’ve pinged us to confirm identity.”
“Patrol ship?” She frowned over the unfamiliar looking ship.
“Too large to be patrol; I could ping it.”
“Then they’d know we see them. Warship?”
“Too small to be a warship,” he countered.
The arrival of an unknown MSA ship was going to put a serious crimp in her schedule. Her cargo wasn’t exactly legal and she couldn’t afford to have them search her cargo bay. “You’re sure they’re tracking us?”
Glenn shrugged. “It makes me antsy that they changed course as soon as they got close enough to ping us.”
“Command ship?” She frowned over the monitor and wondered briefly if it had been built the same time her Unicorn had been. She hit the magnification again. The lines were similar though the Unicorn looked like a shuttle next to this mammoth.
“Possibly. I’ve never seen anything like it and don’t really recommend sitting around to confirm what it is.”
She weighed her options. She leaned on the same side as Glenn. Avoiding the MSA at all costs was a huge part of her job. Especially in the Border Planet Region. This wasn’t the MSA’s normal territory which meant they had a purpose to be out here. On the other hand, she didn’t like not knowing why an MSA ship would be interested in them. The Unicorn looked innocent enough on paper and from afar. They shouldn’t have attracted their attention enough for them to alter their course.
Andrew appeared just outside the bridge doorway. She frowned at his reflection in the front view window more in thought than in anger. If things got sticky she wanted Andrew at the helm. Glenn was a satisfactory pilot, but he didn’t have Andrew’s instincts.
“Glenn, Andrew’s taking over,” she said.
Glenn glanced at her in protest, but swallowed it and climbed out of the pilot’s seat to squeeze into the communications seat behind the co-pilot’s seat as Kristy perched on the descrambler box to give Andrew room to take over his domain.
She rested her chin on his shoulder. Their argument momentarily forgotten while she focused on the problem at hand. “We’ve got an MSA ship up ahead that needs to be avoided. What would you suggest?”
His face lit up and his lips curved into a grin. “I’ll get us out of here.” His fingers flew over the console as the Unicorn’s hum increased and she started to curve away from the MSA ship. “They’ve shifted their course to match ours. I can lose ‘em.”
She frowned at the monitor as the MSA ship’s course altered again to match Andrew’s course correction. “Still following.”
“Time for a hyper.” He pulled several huge levers, causing the Unicorn to shake slightly. The engines changed pitch as they switched from regular fire in preparation for the hyper.
She slid into the co-pilot’s seat and hit the warning to let Wilhelmina and Felicity Imrich, her engineer, know a hyperspace jump was eminent.
The communication panel beeped an incoming message and Glenn pulled it up. “MSA ship calling. Demanding we cease and desist.”
She shook her head at Andrew’s raised eyebrow. “What do they want?”
“An audience with Captain Ryan,” Glenn said.
“They asked for me by name?” she asked in surprise. The ping shouldn’t have pulled up her identity which meant they knew the ping was tagged with an alias she’d programmed just a month ago.
“We could still go,” Andrew offered eagerly.
“We don’t need our description broadcasted to every MSA ship in the system.” She shook her head and sighed. “Let’s find out what they want.”
Glenn hit a switch and the monitor in front of the co-pilot’s seat flickered to life revealing the sleek military bridge with its efficient crew working in the background. The captain of the ship took up the bulk of the image, his expression and posture screamed career military.
“How can I help you, Captain?” she said in her overly polite and slightly sarcastic tone which she reserved for those in authority.
“Captain Ryan.” He inclined his head in acknowledgement. “Captain James O’Neal. I’ve a matter to discuss with you if you’d come aboard the Atlantis.”
“Sorry, Captain O’Neal.” She showed her teeth in what wasn’t quite a smile. “But I’ve a schedule to keep and can’t afford the delay.”
“This is more than a request,” he said with his own smile.
“I’m not military. You can’t detain me without cause.”
“I can provide cause, Captain Ryan, but I’d prefer not to.” O’Neal paused letting the threat hang between them. “How soon can you come aboard?”
She shot a glance at Glenn. Having made it to lieutenant before he was dishonorably discharged ten years ago he was Kristy’s encyclopedia on what to expect and how to deal with the MSA. He shrugged. No help there.
“I’d be happy to come right now.” She scissored her fingers signaling Glenn to cut the call.
He hit a key and the screen went dark.
“Coordinates still set,” Andrew said in a soft voice.
Kristy hesitated. She was tempted to run. Andrew would be able to drop them into hyperspace without any shots fired. The problem wasn’t in escaping. It was why the MSA was interested in her. It could be something minor they’d drop as soon as the Unicorn disappeared, but it could be something else.
“It’s too risky to run now. I need to know why they put this much effort into finding me.” She spun to glare at Glenn. “A little input would have been appreciated.”
“This is completely outside my understanding of the regs,” he answered, leaning back in his chair. “Something’s up.”
“We should go,” Andrew said. “They could arrest you as soon as you board the ship and then what are we supposed to do.”
“You leave, of course,” she said with a smirk. “Have a happy life without me.” Kristy dropped her smirk at his glare. “Look on the bright side, it could be nothing.”
“They wouldn’t be asking you to board the Atlantis if it was nothing,” Andrew said through clenched teeth. “It isn’t safe for you to go alone. I’ll go with you.”
She shook her head. Her stomach clenched at the thought of Andrew being arrested. “I need you at the helm.” She cut him off when he opened his mouth to protest. “If something happens, it’s your responsibility to make sure the Unicorn doesn’t fall under enemy hands.”
He cocked his head, obviously unhappy with her decision. “Take Glenn with you.”
Glenn grinned and she rolled her eyes.
“He’d be more hindrance than help.” She slid out of the co-pilots seat and trailed her fingers over Andrew’s shoulder. His eyes were narrowed as she stepped away from him. Public displays of affection wasn’t really her thing. “Make sure the cargo won’t be found.”
“Aye, aye, Captain,” Andrew said with a mock salute as she exited the bridge.
She barely refrained from sticking her tongue out at his tone. Walking down the brightly lit white hallways, she headed for the freight bay which housed her small shuttle, the Gryphon. Thankfully she hadn’t passed Felicity or Wilhelmina on the short walk. She was alone in the hangar as she preferred. The only problem was the silence made it easier for her to worry.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Space pirate Captain Kristy Ryan grew up the only daughter of a notorious privateer in the Border Planet Region. She learned her trade the hard way – there were no free rides on her father’s ship. Now, she has her own ship, the Unicorn, and successfully works in the shadows, the fringes of legitimate trade. Her life is just how she wants it even on those days when her pilot and lover, Andrew Bennet, drives her crazy. But an unexpected visit from the Military Space Alliance changes everything. Her father disappeared while working a dangerous mission for the MSA. Now, she’s being blackmailed into finishing his mission.
Available as an ebook from Smashwords and Amazon. Coming to Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Sony soon.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Looking for a little input. I'm tackling the back cover blurb for my new space opera Spectors. Which one do you like better?
Space pirate Kristy Ryan is having a bad day.
First, her pilot and lover, Andrew Bennet, picks a fight with her.
Second, the Military Space Alliance comes across her ship when she’s running a not-so-legal job.
Third, she finds out her father, a notorious space pirate himself, disappeared while working for the MSA.
Fourth, and the final straw, the MSA is blackmailing her to continue the dangerous mission her father started.
What else could go wrong?
Space pirate Captain Kristy Ryan grew up the only daughter of a notorious privateer in the Border Planet Region. Having learned her trade the hard way, she prefers life in the shadows on her ship, the Unicorn. Even when her pilot and lover, Andrew Bennet, drives her crazy.
But an unexpected visit from the Military Space Alliance changes everything. Her father disappeared while working a dangerous mission for the MSA. Now, she’s being blackmailed into finishing his mission.
Space pirate Captain Kristy Ryan grew up the only daughter of a notorious privateer in the Border Planet Region. She learned her trade the hard way – there were no free rides on her father’s ship. Now, she has her own ship, the Unicorn, and successfully works in the shadows, the fringes of legitimate trade. Her life is just how she wants it even on those days when her pilot and lover, Andrew Bennet, drives her crazy.
But an unexpected visit from the Military Space Alliance changes everything. Her father disappeared while working a dangerous mission for the MSA. Now, she’s being blackmailed into finishing his mission.
Friday, December 9, 2011
My gorgeous cover for Whitelighter. My new steamy paranormal romance novella about a young witch whose special powers make her a target to any vampire who catches sight of her.
Design credit goes to my wonderful cover designer Tamra Westberry.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
The gorgeous cover for Spectors an adult space opera novel about a space pirate who almost loses everything she cares about when she’s blackmailed into running a dangerous mission for the military.
Cover design credit goes to my wonderful cover designer Tamra Westberry.
Cover design credit goes to my wonderful cover designer Tamra Westberry.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Her hand shading her eyes, Princess Cassia watched the bird glide over the outer walls of Castle Karah. A small shiver went down her spine when she saw it was a Royalty, a special messenger eagle used only to convey urgent messages. He swooped over her and across the stable yard to land on his perch.
The Royalty squawked and ruffled his feathers. He snapped and bit the young page who tried to take the message from him. Cassia shook her head at the boy as he backed away from the Royalty clutching his hand. The eagle would only release the letter to someone of high rank. She wondered briefly what the eagle could be carrying, but got distracted when her horse jumped underneath her. She focused on the young stallion as he bobbed his head.
“Good boy,” Cassia said in a soft voice, soothing him until he settled down.
Her brothers raced their horses around her, spinning and weaving the buckets and poles positioned throughout the corral. She’d set up the obstacle course for them early that morning. They’d all just been released from their lessons a short time ago and had raced down to the stable yard. Her brothers tackled the course with gusto. Of course, they would be doing better if they actually did the pattern she’d set up.
She sighed in exasperation. At sixteen, she was the eldest child and heir to the throne of Karah, a job she was not looking forward to. If she’d had a choice in the matter she would spend the rest of her life in the stable with the horses. It was the one place she felt at ease. Even the grouchy stable master admitted she had an uncanny gift with the horses.
Tully, her youngest brother at eight years old, raced under her stallion’s nose.
“Tully, heels!” Cassia yelled out automatically.
She was supposed to be helping them with their equitation today. She turned to look at Faolan and nearly rolled her eyes. At ten years old, he still hadn’t outgrown his clumsy and awkward phase.
“Faolan, your elbows, tuck them in!”
Gordain was the second eldest at twelve years old. The oldest boy took his job as leader seriously. He constantly tried to prove himself and often pushed his horse farther than he could control.
“Gordain, he’s a horse, not a goat,” Cassia said. “Don’t punish him for something he can’t do.”
Her stallion shifted to look toward the outside gate and she followed his gaze. She smiled in delight as she heard it; the unmistakable sound of hoof beats racing toward Castle Karah.
Two guards ran to the gate and barely pulled it open in time. A large herd of horses, around forty, raced in. A single horse and rider followed the herd, the Horse Wrangler Luki, one of the few people she considered a real friend.
Luki pulled his horse up as the guards shut the gate behind him. Tanned and with sun-bleached blonde hair, he sat on his tall Palomino stallion naturally. Luki spotted her and waved. Cassia slid off her horse.
A stable hand climbed into the large corral and she handed the reins to him with a quick thanks. Luki rode his horse up to the corral and Cassia stood on the bottom rail of the fence next to him.
“Princess Cassia,” Luki said with a salute.
“Luki.” Cassia bowed her head in the customary greeting, but also to hide the blush creeping up her cheeks. His horse snorted at her. “Dall.” Dall sneezed on her in response. She laughed and looked back up to Luki, her momentary shyness forgotten. “Large bunch.”
The milling horses neighed and trotted about the yard. Several stable hands were trying to keep the herd contained on this side of the yard, but weren’t having a lot of luck.
“Took a while to gather them.” Luki fidgeted with his reins. She watched his fingers, surprised by the restless gesture. “I found a special one for you.”
She smiled and fought the urge to lunge forward and hug him. There were too many people around to witness it. Luki smoothed Dall’s mane as he leaned down closer to her face. She glanced over the herd.
“A present?” Cassia tried to sound nonchalant, at both the prospect of the gift and him being so close to her.
“She’s for you.” He shrugged while somehow maintaining his position.
“Where is she?”
He pointed at a petite dark bay mare in the center of the milling herd. She was delicate in build and fluid in movement as she pivoted to look at them as if she knew they were talking about her.
“She’s beautiful,” Cassia said in awe.
She looked the mare over closely and the mare stared right back at her.
“I found her—”
The door from Castle Karah leading into the yard banged open interrupting what Luki was about to say. An escort of Royal Guards stepped out into the yard. Cassia’s mother, Queen Sarahann, followed directly behind them. Tall and elegant, she embodied everyone’s vision of what a queen should be. Her dark brown hair was swept up into intricate braids complimenting the pattern on her gown.
The Royal Guards led Sarahann across the yard to the platform where the Royalty perched. Sarahann waved Cassia to her not even having to look to know where her daughter would be. Cassia sighed in response and climbed over the fence. Luki saluted her with a laugh and a wink. He spun Dall and headed to the main barn to meet up with the stable master.
“Gordain,” Cassia called in her sternest voice. “You’re in charge until I return. No fooling around.”
“Do you think the message is from father?” Gordain walked his chestnut gelding up to the fence. His dark brown eyes watched their mother as his eyebrows came together into his worried mask.
“We’ll find out soon.”
She walked through the milling horses to the platform, touching the wild horses instinctively along the way. They parted and made a pathway unafraid of her presence. Royal Guard Captain Maconhay turned with a brief smile and offered his hand. Cassia took it and he easily pulled her up onto the platform.
Once Cassia had joined her, Sarahann took the note from the Royalty. The Royalty snapped at her, but didn’t bite as she untied the scroll and unrolled it impatiently. Her face drained of color as she read. Stumbling, she leaned heavily against the perch and startled the Royalty into flight.
Royal Guard Arlen moved in to support her. “Your Highness?”
Sarahann shook her head, pulling free from his grasp.
Cassia tried to read the message that had upset her mother. Sarahann never showed her emotions in public. “What’s happened?”
“Dear Queen Sarahann of Karah,” she said, reading the paper. “I unfortunately have the task of informing you of distressing events that have just occurred. Your husband, King Robet of Karah, was killed late last night. I am currently inquiring into the circumstances of his death. My deepest regret and sympathies go to you. Signed, King Erich of Vespera.”
The sounds of the yard faded into the background, until all Cassia could hear was her mother’s voice. She stepped back into Maconahay, shaking her head in denial. He took her arm and pulled her up against him.
“Princess?” Maconahay inquired in a concerned voice.
“No!” Cassia yelled. “That’s false. What he says is a lie.”
Sarahann opened her arms to embrace her. “Cassia.”
She twisted out of Maconahay’s grip and leapt off the platform into the milling horses. The horses parted and made a path for her escape. Maconahay tried to follow, but the horses closed in, preventing him from reaching her. Cassia dashed through the herd toward the stable.
“Cassia!” Luki ran along the edge of the herd heading for her.
She darted aside to avoid him. The horses, she needed to be alone with the horses. She couldn’t handle seeing anyone right now. She sobbed and her vision blurred as she headed for the barn. Luki grabbed her arm and spun her around to face him.
“Cassia! What’s wrong?”
She struggled against his grip, kicking his legs before the fight went out of her and she crumpled into him with a huge sob. The herd of horses closed around them into a protective cocoon.
Cassia jerked out of sleep. Rising up on her knees to escape the nightmare, she glanced around her room wildly as her breathing slowed and she dropped her head into her hands. She was safe and in her own bed. The nightmare tickled the back of her mind and she shoved it aside not wanting to see the few scattered images that stayed with her.
A soft snore interrupted her and she looked up at her handmaid Yaffa sleeping in a chair. Where was her other handmaiden? She would have expected Ula, the older and senior handmaiden, to be watching over her. Ula rarely let Yaffa do anything beyond assisting her. But Ula was no where in her large bedchamber. It jarred her to see her room looking the way it should look. With the world ending, her room shouldn’t remain the same.
Careful not to make any noise, she slid out of bed and pulled on her robe over her sleeping gown and slipped her feet into her boots. She tiptoed across the wooden floor and around the sitting chairs to get to the door. Glancing back, she made sure Yaffa hadn’t woken up before tiptoeing past her dressing room which doubled as a small bedchamber for her two handmaidens. Ula had to be in there.
She eased her door open. The horses beckoned to her. She glanced about her and ran down the empty hallway to a back staircase. Stopping at the large wood door at the bottom of the stairs, she cautiously opened it to peek out the crack into the stable yard. She sighed in relief when she saw it was still early and there wasn’t much activity. Just a few stable lads going about their chores. Careful to keep to the shadows, she worked her way to the main barn at the other end of the yard.
The barn was quiet and empty of people as she hurried down the long aisle of stalls. The presence of the horses worked its way through her like a soothing balm. The stallion she’d been riding earlier nickered as soon as he spotted her. Cassia patted his head and reached to unlatch his stall. She stopped. Someone was watching her. She turned to the stall across from him.
The petite mare Luki had given her looked back at her. Even in the dim light, the mare was achingly beautiful compared to the bulky mountain horses around her. Cassia slowly approached her and opened the stall door. The mare pawed and huffed at her, but stepped back as Cassia entered. She shut the door behind her and sat in the corner of the stall. The mare eyed her a moment before walking over and blowing hot air across her face. Cassia smiled slightly as she reached up to pet the mare’s soft nose.
“He picked a beauty,” she whispered. “But he usually does. Father,” her breath hitched, “always said Luki had a good eye when it came to horses.”
Resting her forehead on her knees, she cried quietly. The mare stood silently over her washing Cassia with her calm presence. A connection pulsed between her and the mare, and if she wasn’t so focused on her grief, she would have explored it.
A soft crunch outside the stall was the first warning she had that she was no longer alone. The mare lifted her head in challenge to the intruder. Cassia pushed back and winced at the rustle of hay. The footsteps stopped, the unmistakable sound of a short sword sliding from a leather sheath echoed in the quiet.
“Whoever’s in the stall better step out,” Luki demanded.
She wiped the tears from her face and slowly stood up. The mare nuzzled her and she gave her a final pat before stepping out of the stall.
“Cassia.” He dropped the sword down to his thigh and turned red. “I mean, Princess Cassia, I apologize. If I’d known it was you, I wouldn’t have…I’m sorry about your father.”
She’d been sobbing against his shoulder not too long ago. A blush crept up her cheeks at the memory. In fact, that was the last thing she remembered. She had no idea how she’d gotten from the stable yard to her room. Had he carried her?
“Thank you for your sympathy.” Even to her own ears she sounded wooden and insincere. “I should get back.”
He nodded uncomfortably and saluted. “I won’t detain you, Your Highness.”
She hesitated a moment before walking past him. He touched her shoulder as she passed and she turned in question. Maybe he’d find a way to ease this sudden awkwardness.
“If you need anything from me, Princess.”
Tears were coming back and she was not going to bawl in front of him again. She squeezed his hand in thanks and left the stable. As soon as she stepped through the door into the castle, chaos greeted her. Dozens of servants ran about the halls in urgency. Cassia was taken aback, her tears forgotten, she grabbed at the nearest young maid running past her.
“What’s the matter?” Cassia asked.
“The Princess is missing,” the maid said, her eyes growing big as she realized whom she was talking to. “Princess? We’ve been lookin’ for you.” She looked down at her feet. “Sorry, I was told you’d disappeared and we’re to find you at once.”
“Where’s my mother?”
“She’s searchin’ for you, Your Highness.”
“Let it be known I’ve been found and have returned to my quarters.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” the maid said with a curtsy and hurried off.
Cassia went back to her room. Yaffa and Ula jumped up at her entrance.
“Princess,” Ula scolded. “You didn’t go out in that!”
“I did indeed.” Strangely, the usual scolding was a comfort.
“What would your parents say?” Ula asked, tsking, appearing not to notice she’d included both parents in the statement.
Cassia turned away from them to gaze out her window. Ula hadn’t meant anything by what she’d said, but it still hurt. How long had it been since they’d received the message from King Erich?
“Ula?” Cassia asked.
“How long was I asleep?” She watched several stable hands lead the horses away from the barn to the grass pens. One of the horses was the mare Luki had given her. The mare paused, jerking the stable hand to a stop, and looked up at her window.
“A long time,” Ula answered quietly. “You woke in the night very upset. I gave you a tonic to help you sleep. You were up much sooner than I expected.”
Ula patted her on her back before sweeping Cassia’s robe off of her shoulders. Yaffa came out of the dressing room with a gown. Both maids stopped their preparations as the door burst open.
Sarahann stepped into the room and waved her hand to dismiss Yaffa and Ula. They curtsied and darted into the dressing room. Cassia stared at her mother in amazement. She’d never seen her look anything but perfect. Now, however, her braids hung limply to the side and her dress, which was wrinkled, appeared to be the same one she’d had on yesterday.
“I can’t believe you’d be so selfish and thoughtless as to run off and disappear without a single word to anyone.” Sarahann glared at her daughter.
She pulled herself together. “I needed some time to myself.”
“We all need time alone.” Sarahann sat on the high-backed chair at the writing desk. “That’s not an excuse. You are the Princess of Karah. You must think of those around you.”
“Those around me?” Cassia had absolutely no idea what her mother was talking about which actually wasn’t an unusual thing.
“You may have lost your father, but the people have lost their king. A king is more important than a father. With Robet’s death, Karah will fall into disorder.”
“They still have their queen.”
“I’m their queen by marriage, not blood.”
“But—” she began to protest.
“You know how things are, and if you don’t, your education has been lacking. The people need a leader. You’ll be it. You’ll calm them down.”
“I’m not ready to rule Karah,” Cassia protested. It hadn’t occurred to her to think past her father’s death to what this would mean for her.
“Don’t worry yourself,” Sarahann said with a bitter laugh. “It’ll be in name only. The advisors and I will do the dirty work.” Sarahann sighed and stood up. “I don’t have time to discuss this with you.” She walked to the door. “I must insist that you not go anywhere without telling your handmaidens. Get dressed. The village leaders are waiting in the hall to express their sympathies.”
“What about the boys?” The guilt hit her. How had her brothers taken the news? She should have gone to them as soon as she’d woken up.
“Their nursemaid is looking after them,” Sarahann said.
She started to ask if she should go see them, but stopped herself at the set look on her mother’s face. Sarahann slammed the door behind her. Ula and Yaffa burst out of the dressing room with expectant expressions on their faces. She turned away from them trying to compose herself. The tears threatened to erupt again.
Want to know what happens next? :-)