Re-Released! Science Fiction Romance JANUS IS A TWO-FACED MOON (PG excerpt


JANUS IS A TWO-FACED MOON

Author: Susanne Marie Knight

Genre: Science Fiction Romance


Price: $3.99

Buy Link:
Available electronically at:

Blurb:
BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. In the year 2458, injured ballerina Blade Sinclair agrees to participate in the Galactic Olympic Games. Unfortunately, she’s on the wrong team; an alien team. If Blade doesn’t win a gold medal, her family will die. If Blade does win, the Sarthox will destroy Earth. What’s a girl to do??

LOVE HURTS. Security chief Christopher Bainbridge has had his share of traitorous females. At the Lunar Olympic Games, he finds himself mixed up with another one. But Blade doesn’t seem like a typical traitor, and against his own inclinations, he falls in love with her. How can he help her escape from the Sarthox and save the solar system at the same time?

Scene Set-Up:
Blade has just received *very* alarming news from attractive but disapproving security chief Christopher Bainbridge. Discussing him with her roommate, Heidi, Blade will soon learn about Heidi’s connection to Christopher.

Excerpt:
Despite the lower gravity, Blade dragged her feet to the Olympic Village apartment. The time was almost eight at night, and she’d been going strong since six in the morning.

She opened the door, stepped inside, and waited. Absolute silence greeted her; her roommate Heidi must’ve still been out. Good. Blade didn’t need any distractions as she mulled over the events of the day.

Not the least of which was the encounter with Christopher Bainbridge.

Sitting on a heavy duty plastic chair, she removed her tattered ballet slippers and winced at the new blisters and welts appearing on her toes. Air ballet routines were not completely performed up in the air, and dancing on pointe on the ground was always hard on the feet.

She took out her handy survival kit and wrapped every toe, especially the pinkie, with medical tape.

“Whoa! What in the cosmos did you do to your feet, featherweight?”

Blade sighed. Heidi stood in the doorway. By her messy hairdo and droopy eyelids, it was obvious that she had been sleeping in her bedroom.

“An occupational hazard.” Blade finished her feet pampering with a brisk massage using a scented lotion. “It looks worse than it is. You get used to it.”

“I wouldn’t be able to run if my feet looked like yours.” Heidi yawned. “I had a great practice today. How was yours?”

“It was okay.” Blade made an automatic reply.

Unfortunately her coach, Plevake, was absent for practice, and a new partner always took some getting used to. But the son, Jevake... well, he was different in an indefinable way. While his dancing technique contained no flaws, it contained no passion either.

She shivered as she recalled his cold touch. Instinctively, her skin crawled, for if what Christopher Bainbridge said was true, then Jevake and his father were inhuman--alien.

But how could that be? If the Sarthox were aliens, then that meant Blade was competing in the Olympics against Humanity.

She closed her eyes tightly for a second. Please, no. That can’t be so...

While she wasn’t overly patriotic, she was Human, after all. Here was a line she didn’t want to cross.

Heidi left her seat to stare straight into Blade’s face. “What’s wrong? You seem preoccupied.”

“It’s nothing.” Blade removed her leg-warmers, then headed into the bathroom to peel off her leotard. “I just met a really disagreeable person today.”

Heidi pulled a chair over and sat outside the bathroom while Blade showered. “Oooh, dirt! Dish it up. Tell me all. I bet your disagreeable person is a man. Is he hunky? Does he make your hormones roar?”

Blade lathered up, then rinsed off. Water was a precious commodity on the Moon. Only the wealthy had unlimited access.

“Well, I don’t know about that,” she lied over the rush of water. “But, yep, he was one hundred percent man.” She’d give Bainbridge that compliment anyway. “He had the nerve to question me about my... Olympic associates. And he disapproved of me. He even said he hoped I didn’t win.”

“What a scurvy knave!” Heidi stood and flexed her muscles. “I’ll punch the dirtbag out. Who does he think he is? Only security personnel have the authority to ask questions about Olympic stuff.”

Ouch. Blade slipped into a terrycloth robe and towel-dried her long hair. “To tell you the truth, the guy did mention he was security.”

Heidi harrumphed. “That doesn’t give him the right to put you down, or disapprove of you, even if he carries a badge. Maybe it’s counterfeit, anyway. My brother’s GCC security, too. I’ll ask him to check--”

“No, no. It’s okay. I’ll just--” A doorbell sounded. “I’ll get the door.”

Glad to leave that discussion behind, Blade rushed out through the living room into the entryway. The whole situation was disturbing--Jevake, aliens, Sarthox... Christopher Bainbridge.

She opened the door. “Hel... lo.”

Holy cow, it was him, Bainbridge. All six foot two of him. Even in the dim corridor light, the sight of his broad shoulders, muscular chest, and slim hips caused her to unthinkingly lick her lips.

Stop it!

She’d seen plenty of well-physiqued men before; her ballet company had been full of them. But this man, he made her insides quiver.

“Miss Sinclair, may I come in?” He stood with his arms folded against that powerful chest.

“Why?” She hadn’t meant to be rude. Her question just popped out.

But then after all, she’d had a very trying day. The expression “dead tired” must’ve been created just for her.

A vein pulsed on his right temple. “I have a few more questions to ask you.”

She tightly bunched the edges of her robe together at her neck, then stepped aside to let him in. Never normally prudish, she felt an unaccustomed shyness creep over her. Being clad only in a robe with her hair still dripping water did nothing to bolster her confidence.

“Is this about Plevake Va-Thor?”

He turned his high watt gaze on her and didn’t answer her question. “Were you at--”

“Who was at the door?” Heidi barged into the room like a bulldozer. “I hope it wasn’t that dirtbag.”

Blade flushed. Somehow this bad situation got worse.

Heidi stormed over to them, then her mouth nearly dropped to the floor. “Chris!” she squeaked as she threw herself at the man. “It’s so good to see you.”

Bainbridge looked uncomfortable as he gently but firmly detached Heidi from his person. He darted his gaze to Blade, then looked back at Heidi.

“Heidi.” He cleared his throat. “Is this where you’re staying?”

“Sure thing. Y’know I left a message for you that my housing assignment was color-coded red.” She slapped Bainbridge on the back with the blow that would’ve crumpled Blade. He didn’t flinch, however. “This is great! Perfect! Chris can help you with that swine you were telling me about.”

Oh. Blade must’ve blazed redder than a case of tomatoes. The worse situation just got even worse.

“Um, Heidi, I didn’t say that.”

Heidi shook her head, making her short hair dance. “No, no. You don’t have to worry. Chris’ll take care of everything. He’s my brother.”

Her brother? Of all the people in the entire galaxy.... Yep, everything was going to hell in a handbasket now.

Not looking at him, Blade muttered, “Great.” Was there a convenient hole she could crawl in?

“C’mon, let’s sit.” Heidi went over to the VR window and selected an image. The picture of soil and farm buildings immediately appeared--a view from her home planet.

“Chris, this is my roommate, Blade. She told me about this guy--”

“Miss Sinclair and I have already met.” He sat on the couch and folded his arms across his chest again. “And I can imagine what she said.”

Puzzlement furrowed Heidi’s brow so Blade explained. “It was your brother who questioned me.” She hesitated a second, then turned to Bainbridge. “Listen, I didn’t say you were a swine.”

He shrugged. “I’ve been called worse.”

She fingered a wet strand of hair. “I’ll get dressed while you two catch up.”

Hurrying into the bedroom, she flung the door shut, then fell back against it. Her emotional side scolded: Well, you really stepped in it, didn’t you Blade?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hope you enjoy!

Susanne Marie Knight

Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist

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Love Medieval Romance and Dragons? See 'The Virgin, the Knight and the Dragon'

The Virgin, the Knight, and the Dragon (MF)
Medieval Creatures 2
Heat Rating: SENSUAL
Word Count: 24,824
Fantasy,  Historical,  Romantic Suspense

PRE-ORDER HERE!

AVAILABLE: Wednesday, March 8th

[Bookstrand Romance: Historical, Fantasy, Romantic Suspense, HEA]

This story is a sequel to my Medieval Creatures 1 book, The Virgin, the Knight and the Unicorn.

BUY BOTH BOOKS HERE

Blurb

Can Princess Adela, heiress to a deadly destiny, be saved by the love of a knight errant?

The youngest of nine sons, Jesse is used to neglect and hand-me-downs. Becoming a knight through his own efforts, he encounters a beautiful, virtually naked stranger in the countryside above the farmlands of his old home. Who is she and how can he help her?

Flaxen-haired Adela D’Varm is compelled by the magic of a faery geas to remain in the high grasslands until she is rescued by a knight—a worthy knight who must contend with a dragon. But this dragon is no ravening beast, as knights soon discover if they offer Adela any insult.

Amiable and truly chivalrous, Jesse is different. Through their encounters—amusing, tender, exciting—he and Adela fall in love. But, even as they marry, Jesse and Adela encounter a deadly conspiracy and a final test for Adela.

It seems that Jesse has deserted her—or has he?

 Excerpt:


Ahead he could hear a deep rumbling, like a cat purring—a cat the size of a hut. There was a smell of blood in the air and a savour of roasted meat.
Dragons, like wolves, prefer to feast on horses, not men.
From where had that thought sprung? Jesse felt for an instant as if he was bathed in heat—real, forge-hot heat. Older memories and stories trickled up and down his back in a messy puddle of sweat.
A dragon. Walter the shepherd whispered there was once a dragon up on these high grasslands. A creature of faery. Maybe it has returned.
The sweat turned clammy on his back. Trying not to stiffen up, Jesse choked down a cough. Above him, how high and how far off he did not want to know, he listened to the sounds of gnawing.
Turn back or go on? Either action held both appeal and risk. To retreat might mean survival or a blast of fire at his back. To go on—if he bested a dragon, he would be as famous as Beowulf.
No doubt Beowulf was an elder son . With my luck, I could win and gain nothing but a few coins for my trouble. Any treasure would be claimed by my older brothers.
Jesse stopped crawling. Roast horse swirled in his nostrils and, despite his wavering dread, his mouth watered. Wanting to travel light and make haste, he had not eaten well for days. Succulent, hot meat tempted him to raise his head.
A dragon rose on its haunches to tear and swallow a morsel of some animal that once may have been horse. Again Jesse’s hunger flared.
His older brothers would never have attempted what he planned, but that was a virtue. Why not? he decided, as the dragon took another bite. A dainty bite, he noted, for a beast as long as a cavalcade.
It did not kill the knight. The thought was almost a prayer. Inspired—or mad, or truly desperate—Jesse threw down his weapons and rose out of the grass, his hands filled with herbs. He averted his eyes, hardly daring to look.
“Good day.” He was glad he had planted his feet wide apart and pitched his greeting above the steady breeze of the dragon’s breathing. “May I join you?
“I have brought herbs.” He raised his cupped fingers, allowing some greenery to slip from his hands so the dragon would know he was unarmed. “Good eating herbs, wild parsley, wild mint, wild sorrel, also called vinegar leaves. I think you will find they enhance the taste of your meat.”
He stepped forward, placed the herbs on a boulder, and stepped back. “The marigold is simply for the colour,” he added, his throat growing dry again as he sensed the dragon leaning closer.
It must work, a wild, mad babbling voice wailed in his head. Dragons are said to be silver-tongued and to understand speech. And I like animals. Jesse had worked with hawks, horses, oxen, sheep, chickens, and goats and found each creature appealing, in its own way. Dragons were creatures of faery, and perhaps more. If there is a dragon, there must be a maiden close, a living maid. The old stories always have both.
Those jaws of hell gaped nearer, each tooth sharper than any sword. Through his half-closed eyes, it seemed to Jesse for an instant that the beast was smiling, which was surely impossible. Determined to look his probable death in the face, Jesse stretched on tiptoe,  raised his head and stared.
Now he could study it more closely. The dragon  was a shining gold blending to silver, lean and long as a vast snake or a whip, but with powerful legs and a deep chest. Jesse could not see any wings, but he did note, with a certain detached surprise, as of someone who could perish at any second, that the beast was ornamented with flashes of silver and gold scales about its neck, like a necklace. It had a narrow, almost elegant snout, prick ears topped by small, shiny spines, and deep large eyes the colour of an emerald. Strangely beautiful eyes that were considering him in a thoughtful, almost tender way .
“Thank you.” The voice sounding in his head was not his, though how had the dragon spoken?
Jesse decided not to trouble over that and made a bow. He sensed the dragon deftly plucking at the herbs, heard the faint scratch of very sharp claws on the boulder, then flinched as a round cut of steaming horse steak was placed on top of the boulder, laid neatly beside the rest of the herbs.
No one would believe I shared my dinner with a dragon. Jesse ate in a daze. The meat was cooked to a turn, and tender.
“Thank you for the flowers.” Again the voice that was not his sounded in his head.
Jesse harnessed his manners and his wits and swallowed the final piece of meat before he answered. “It is my pleasure.”
A wave of heat surged over his neck, followed by a percussive clap of huge, scaly wings. The force half stunned Jesse, and when he stirred again the dragon was gone.

“Good day.” A small slim young woman stood over him. She gave the same greeting that he had given the dragon, and her dainty bare feet rested in the hollow made by the dragon’s claws. “Are you hurt?”
Jesse shook his head. The woman seemed to be wearing nothing but a cloak. She had a flower in her electrum-pale hair, a marigold.
The same as the spray I gifted the dragon. She has the same colour scales—sorry, hair—as the beast, and the same deep green eyes. What is going on?






Lindsay Townsend 

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Re-Released! Science Fiction Romance GRAVE FUTURE (PG excerpt)


GRAVE FUTURE

Author: Susanne Marie Knight

Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense

Price: $3.99

Buy Link:
Available electionically at:

Blurb:
DRAGGED INTO DANGER. When Jocelyn Hunter is stranded in an isolated cabin with an antagonistic stranger, she has no idea of the danger that awaits her. Will she be able to discover Dan’s dark secret and can she convince him to set aside his obsession and listen to his heart?

OBSESSED WITH REVENGE. Federal agent Dan Ferguson is haunted by his desire to bring a killer to justice. When innocent Jocelyn unexpectedly comes into his life, his first thought is to get her away from the danger lurking in the shadows. Can he overcome his reluctance to accept her help and finally admit his growing love for her?

Scene Set-Up:
Stranded in Dan's house, Jocelyn is an unwelcome visitor. During the night she is awakened by a strange light and follows it down the stairs.

Excerpt:
Exhaling a raspy breath, she cautiously went down the stairs. She didn't want to awaken Dan. How could she explain what she was doing? How could she say she was following a ghostly whim?

She shook her head. No, she didn't think she could tell him that. Dan had his feet firmly planted on terra firma. No ghosts, no vampires, no Hollywood hype stuff, that's what he'd said. Well, she didn't know about vampires, but dear God in heaven, whether he wanted to admit it or not, Angel Rock Ridge housed ghosts.

At least one anyway. One with a strange sense of humor. Mr. Rochester's impersonation of Shakespeare's Hamlet! She shook her head again.

Reaching the entryway, she walked into the living room. A cold wind rushed up her bare arms and legs, causing a shiver. She ignored the discomfort. The familiar spectral light pulsed from the hearth in the fireplace. Maybe the ghost wanted to show her the hidden device to the secret passageway. Maybe she'd learn the mystery of this strange, forbidding house.

Intent on the blaze from behind the chain mail covering, she tiptoed closer.

"Going somewhere, princess?"

She almost screamed. Spinning around, she pressed her hand against her chest to prevent her heart from escaping. Clad only in his faded blue jeans, Dan stood next to her. His muscled chest was thick with curly, dark hairs that swirled down past the snap of his jeans.

Flushing, she hastily looked up at his face. "You scared me!"

His hardened gaze roamed the length of her body, lingering on her breasts and exposed thighs. She wanted to tug at the bottom of her chemise, but twenty-four inches worth of material would only stretch so far.

"What are you doing down here?" He grabbed her upper arm and tightened his grip.

"I..." She turned toward the fireplace, but the light had gone out. Evidently, the ghost had left her to deal with Dan by herself. "I thought maybe I could find the switch for the secret passage."

Her excuse sounded inane, even to her ears.

"And then what did you intend to do?" As he narrowed his gaze, his body tensed. He didn't trust her. She knew it as if he'd spoken out loud and his suspicion hurt.

She pulled away from him. "You needn't have worried. I would've told you. I wouldn't have gone in by myself."

That was certainly true. She wouldn't have entered a dank, shadowy tunnel no matter how friendly the ghost.

He grabbed her again, this time holding both shoulders. "This isn't some Nancy Drew mystery, Jocelyn. This is dangerous business. Dammit, people have gotten killed."

He bit back his words as if he regretted saying them. Staring into her eyes, he searched her--long and hard.

Her skin tingled under the firm pressure of his hands. She felt drawn to him--more than she had with any man before. Her breath came in shallow gulps.

She licked her lips. Who cared about danger? Who cared about unexplained mysteries? Right now, all she could think about was Dan's rich, full lips and the promise of rapture in his eyes.

Groaning, he lowered his lips onto hers, parting them with his tongue, and kissed her thoroughly, deeply, savagely. His taste drove her wild.

She clung to him as if she were drowning, delighting in the fevered marauding of his hands, in the rough bristles of his mustache. His kisses were uncontrolled and fierce, brimmed with pent-up longing and unbridled passion. His need for her was so great, it fanned her own growing desire. She'd never given herself so completely, so absolutely.

When his hands slipped under the delicate material of her chemise and caressed her back, her knees turned to rubber. Catching her before she fell, he pressed his palms up along her ribcage and found the softness of her breasts.

She gasped.

As he trailed his thumb over her hard, erect nipples, he murmured, "Jocelyn, you're so beautiful."

God help her, but she wanted him. She wanted him more than anything. And he wanted her.

With a flick of his wrist, he removed the cumbersome chemise. His gray eyes darkened at the sight of her nearly naked form. At first gently cradling her, he then slid his hands down into her panties, cupping her buttocks. He roughly pulled her to him.

She rubbed against his bare chest and hardened masculinity. She felt hot--so hot--as if her very soul were scorched. More...more...she needed more of this man--all of him.

Flattening against him, she dug her fingers into his shoulders. "Dan, oh Dan, let's--"

She made the mistake of opening her eyes. They weren't alone. On the low ledge of the fireplace, Velma stood, her pale green-eyed gaze fixed on Dan's back.

How in the world did she get in? Through the fireplace?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hope you enjoy!

Susanne Marie Knight
Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist

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Bourbon & Blues by KC Kendricks

Bourbon and Blues
The Men of Marionville series

Griffith Ernde missed his father’s funeral because he was drunk. When he made it to the cemetery, the gates closed with him on the inside. Griff ends up in a cell at the local precinct house charged with trespassing, and with no way to salvage the day. No doubt about, it’s a personal low in his life. Then his luck changed when Kory Watts joined him in the cell.

Kory Watts has a knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Stood up on a blind date at a local club, Kory gets swept up in a drug raid and lands in a cell with an inebriated stranger. When his drug test comes back clean, the duty sergeant offers Kory a deal: if he takes Griff home, they both can go with no charges. It’s not a deal Kory will refuse.

When Kory and Griff meet again, they agree to have a drink - of ice water. Neither man judges the other and it’s quickly apparent they share an attraction. As their budding relationship heats up, Kory wonders if he’s ready to get serious with a guy he just met no matter how well suited to each other they are. When Griff is suddenly charged with the murder of his father, Kory is ready to move heaven and earth to help prove him innocent, but it might not be enough to save what’s between them.

INTRO

Friday morning finally arrived. I sent a text to Griff, just to check in, and he sent back everything was set. At five minutes to twelve, I got a one-word text from him.

Nooner?

I didn’t even think about it before I sent my reply.

Hell, yeah.

I hit the off switch on my laptop and yelled for Leon. He appeared in the doorway.

“What’s up, other than your voice?”

I rolled my eyes at him. “I hate to ask you again, but can you close up this afternoon?”

“Sure. Smoke loves to sneak in here and sleep in your chair.”

“Of course he does. Thanks, man. I owe you.”

He grinned. “I’ll cash in my marker the day before the Smithfield Agility Trials.”

“Done! See ya Monday.” I didn’t wait for him to reply. I was out the door and into my car, headed to Griff’s place. Ten minutes later I parked my car beside his.

I was already hard and aching for him. He opened the door before I could knock. I stepped inside and he grabbed me around the waist and backed me against the refrigerator. I cupped the back of his head and pulled him in for a rough kiss. Things got a bit fuzzy as we kissed, nibbled, and yanked at clothing. He tucked his fingers under my belt and pulled me to his bedroom. We landed on the bed.

I rolled him beneath me. “Hey, Griff. Hello. Good to see you. Thanks for asking me over.”

He wrapped his legs around my hips and squeezed. “Screw the pleasantries.”


EXCERPT

And what was up with that little smile on his face? I tossed a throw pillow at him.

He threw it back. “Why don’t you come over here and sit beside me?”

“I’m good right here, thanks.”

He sighed. “I’m lonely.”

“Well, we can’t have that, can we? I mean, what if you start to whine?” I moved a few inches closer to him.

He patted his lap. “You could sit here.”

Actually, I rather liked that idea. I could play easy to get. “You could back the train up.”

“Kory, you’re killing me here.”

“Okay. We can’t have that.” I slid over to sit beside him, keeping a few inches between us. I knew where this was headed.

Griff stretched out his arm along the back of the couch, not touching me. “Better, don’t you think?”

I bumped against him. “Much.”

He moved to put his arm around me. We stared at each other. I wondered if my gaze held the same speculation I saw in his. Did he see that I wouldn’t tell him no? Was he equally nervous about making the move? One of us had to do it. I leaned in and kissed him.

His lips opened and moved over mine. Every nerve in my body lit up like a light. I couldn’t breathe as arousal shrieked through me. My balls tingled. My cock swelled full and hard in just a few pounding heartbeats.

Griff jerked away to stare at me with eyes gone wide and black. He licked his lips, twice. “This might be a colossal mistake, but I have a television in the bedroom. You’re panting.”

“So what? You’re drooling.”

He swiped his fingertips across his mouth and then scowled at me.

I grinned and held my hand out to him. “Lead the way.”

He switched off the TV and took my hand. I grabbed my glass of cola knowing I’d need a drink later. He nodded and picked up his before leading me back a short hallway to his darkened bedroom. Very little light came in around the blackout blind and the heavy drape.

Griff ran his hand along my arm. He must have noticed what I was looking at. “There’s a streetlight right outside that ruins my sleep, but we can let in some sunlight if you want.”

“I want to see you.”

He nodded and pushed the drape to the side. “Enough?”

“Yep.” I reached out and pulled his shirt free of his jeans.

“Wait,” he murmured as he tucked the silver cross beneath his turtleneck. A moment later I had the garment over his head and tossed on the dresser.


BOURBON AND BLUES
Available now at

Amazon
www.amazon.com/Bourbon-Blues-Men-Marionville-Book-ebook/dp/B06W9GXLVB/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1486901147&sr=8-2&keywords=kc+Kendricks

iTunes
itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1203118825

Barnes and Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bourbon-and-blues-kc-kendricks/1125699864?ean=2940154209172

Kobo
www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/bourbon-and-blues

KC Kendricks
http://www.twitter.com/kckendricks
www.pinterest.com/kckendricks
www.facebook.com/kckendricks

mailing list: betweenthekeys-subscribe@yahoo.com

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Re-Released! Science Fiction Romance JANUS IS A TWO-HEADED GOD (PG excerpt)




JANUS IS A TWO-HEADED GOD

Author: Susanne Marie Knight

Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Price: $3.99

Buy Link:
Available electionically at:

Blurb:
Year: 2452. Seeking a cure for her ill brother, Sophia (Sam) McLaren must leave Earth to journey into the unknown. She finds galactic intrigue... plus a love transcending the vast expanse of space. But can she persuade JorVaal 5 that love can be forever?

JorVaal 5 Lanquist has a galactic catastrophe on his hands¾plus a headstrong female from the despised planet Earth. Will he be able to set aside age-old prejudices and admit he’s actually feeling an ancient emotion called love?

Scene Set-Up:
Newly arrived on the strange world of Xaspaar, Sophia hurries to meet her friend Fredd for lunch. The planet’s leader, JorVaal 5, who dislikes Earthers, isn’t aware of Sophia’s origin, and believes she agreed to meet him for a sexual encounter.

Excerpt:
Sam hurried down the shiny grey corridor as fast as she could. She tried not to stand out in the crowd, which was pretty hard to do with a Yankees’ cap sitting squarely on her head. While all the people passing her did have a spring to their step, evidently running was something that just wasn’t done. But she had to hurry; she was that late. It was really impolite to keep Fredd waiting.

She concentrated on keeping one foot in front of the other and refused to be distracted by the strange sights around her. Deep breaths fueled her motion. After leaving the Health Bureau, she’d gotten lost, of course. No surprise there. All these tunnels looked the same. All dim, sleek, and impersonal. And no windows. In fact, ever since arriving, she hadn’t had a glimpse of the outside.

Creepy.

She scratched her upper arm and kept her vision focused straight ahead. How could these people stand being sequestered away like this? Like worms. Even the Health Bureau where Mart was having tests done was windowless--no rooms with a view, no peepholes, nothing. She’d never experienced claustrophobia but if she didn’t get a chance to see at least some sky, she’d go nuts. This was like being buried alive.

Her heart thudded to keep up with her activity. Wiping away perspiration from her upper lip, she adjusted her cap once again. Central Control was supposed to be up ahead. Only a few more steps.

Without warning, a man stepped right in front of her. “Citizen... dear one, no need to continue your travels. Here I am.”

Unfortunately, her own personal brakes weren’t as effective as her reliable bicycle brakes back home. She bumped into whoever was foolish enough to block her way.

But circumstances demanded that she  apologize. “Excuse me--”

Oh, good heavens! It was him; it was JorVaal 5 Lanquist. Of all people to literally run into!

As she caught her breath, she had a chance to look him over. His athletic physique was again enhanced in the form-fitted GCC uniform. When he folded his arms across his massive chest, each movement rippled the velvet-like material of his shirt. Powerful thigh muscles bulged from the close-weave fabric of his pants.

Heavens, the man was impressive, all right. And just as handsome as she remembered.

But definitely not safe.

She took a good step back from him. “I, um, I do beg your pardon.” Her upper lip, previously wiped, now beaded up again with perspiration.

“No need, dear one.” He smiled and took her elbow. “I do not hold your tardiness against you. Come, we still have eighty-five point four minutes to the interval.”

His firm touch sent tingling sensations throughout her entire body. Pleasurable and alarming. But she could be firm as well. With her other hand, she disengaged her arm.

“I’m late, that’s true. But my appointment is with Fredd Desilva, not you. If you will excuse me.”

Ignoring the passersby’s curious appraisals and JorVaal’s surprised expression, she turned away intending to continue walking.

But he had other ideas. He gripped her upper arm, effectively stopping her movements and her blood supply.

“You are Fredd’s friend?”

She tilted her head at JorVaal. “Yes. Is that so odd?”

Lines of concentration marred his high forehead. “You cannot mean you prefer to be with him over me.”

His words were a statement, not a question. Of course it would have been terribly rude to laugh at his conceit, but his affronted expression sorely taxed her.

She sucked in her cheeks instead. “He’s my friend, and actually, to be perfectly frank, you and I haven’t even been introduced.”

He must have been aware that standing still in the middle of the corridor was attracting attention, although maybe he was used to people staring at him. Releasing her, he gestured for her to follow him.

As the direction was the same as Central Control, she complied.

“Explain to me why being acquainted has anything to do with satisfying biological appetites,” he demanded.

She glanced away to hide her smirk. Biological appetites! Another way to phrase making love.

Her mirth now under control, she looked him in the eye. “For one thing, knowing the person you’re eating with increases the chance to have a more stimulating conversation.”

He mulled over her words. “Yes, that is true. So you go to dine with Fredd. That is good, however, I was referring to coitus.”

She felt herself flush; she couldn’t help it. Who was used to plain speaking about such a private topic? Certainly not her. And certainly not with an extremely attractive man no matter what his opinion of himself was.

She twisted her top button open. “Um, I would have to say the same thing, then. The better you know a person, the better the, um, relationship.”

Goodness, did these people talk about everything so openly?

Thankfully, she spotted the doors for Central Control. Now she could escape! “Well, I have to go. Bye.”

JorVaal blocked her way again. With his size, he was good at that.

Resigned, she sighed. “Now what?”

His pale blue eyes seemed to pierce a hole in her. “As I am in need of release, I shall accommodate you in this formal fashion.” He inclined his head. “I am JorVaal 5 Lanquist.”

His silent “as if you didn’t know” hung heavily in the air. “And now,” he continued, “tell Fredd you will dine with him after we are finished.”

The nerve of the man! The laughter that she had been able to suppress before, now came tumbling out. JorVaal’s steely glare quickly silenced her.

With her lips quivering, she managed to say, “But you don’t know who I am, do you?”

Of course he didn’t. She’d heard of JorVaal’s distaste for “Earthers.” She’d bet a cool million once he found out who she was, he’d treat her like she had the plague.

“Inform me, then. This game grows tedious.”

“You’re so right. It does,” she agreed. “I am Sam McLaren. Pleased to meet you.”

She held out her hand for him to shake.

After a second, he gripped it with his. “McLaren?” His deep voice held a note of uncertainty.

Heaven help her but she couldn’t resist. “Yes, perhaps you’ve heard of me? Sophia Audrey McLaren. My brother Mart and I just arrived from Earth.” She gave him a wide grin. “Nice little planet you have here, JorVaal.”

His sallow complexion turned ghastly white and his jaw noticeably dropped.

As she neared the glass doors, they swished open. “Well, it’s been fun talking with you. See you around.”

It was only when the doors closed, that she allowed herself to laugh again. If she lived to be two hundred, she’d never forget the look of pure outrage on the man’s face!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hope you enjoy!

Susanne Marie Knight

Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist

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