Thursday, April 25, 2019

Guest Author Day with Nancy Lee Badger

Please give a warm welcome to author Nancy Lee Badger as we chat about her latest book, Heaven Sent Highlander. 


If you could be any paranormal creature what would you be?
Nancy- I would be a dragon! A dragon-shifter, actually. Everyone dreams of flying, so this would be perfect and no one would mess with me and my family!. I have written an entire series with dragon-shifters called Clan of Dragons.

What genres do you write in?
Nancy- Whatever moves me. I have published time travel, contemporary, suspense, and paranormal. I have started a historical romance set around the England/Scotland border.

Is there anything you will never write about?
Nancy- I have a gay son so I do not feel comfortable writing characters that are gay. My books are rather sensual with one man-one woman enjoying a new romance, and I stay away from erotica/graphic sex. 

If you write a series do you reread your previous books before you begin the new one?
Nancy- Always! Rereading them also gives me encouragement since I think they are quite well-written (pats my own back). I also keep everything straight by using what authors call a Series Bible. I must keep track of all the characters and their personal attributes like hair or eye color.

When writing, how do you keep track of timelines, ideas, inspiration and such? By notes on the computer, a notebook perhaps?
Nancy- I keep everything, including ideas for new books, on my laptop and am constantly backing-up all my work on a flashdrive. It only takes losing a day’s work to make sure you remember to back it up! I will print out pages when down to a final edit. I can work on them in the doctor’s office or a hotel. Actually seeing the words on a page is a way to catch mistakes.

How often does your muse distract you from day to day minutiae?
Nancy- My muse is an eleven-year old orange tiger cat we named Blaze. When he is content with what I am working on, he spreads out around me or on top of my papers. When upset, he gets awfully vocal.

What do readers have to look forward to in the future from you?
Nancy- I mentioned I am working on a historical romance series, but the next book that Soul Mate will publish is the third in my warrior in Bronze series titled Heaven-sent Flame. It has the same plot concept, but I mix things up quite a bit!

Do you prefer to extensively plot your stories, or do you write them as they come to you?
Nancy- Writing an outline works for me. My publisher expects one. It is nothing fancy, but a place to jot single sentences of how the book starts, how my characters meet, what perils pop up, and how the end will satisfy all my readers.

How do you like to relax after a day writing?
Nancy- That is easy to answer…I read! I sometimes read late into the night, but only as an award for the day’s accomplishments. Even if I only cleaned up my home office, I get to read.



Paranormal Romance

Release Date: April 24, 2019
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Book #2 in the Warriors in Bronze series


Tag Line
A Scottish Highlander falls in battle only to awaken beside bronze statues at a present-day museum. Befriended by a beautiful Fae creature and her allies, he must defeat a demon or die.

Book Blurb
At an American museum, surrounded by Auguste Rodin’s bronze statues, a Scottish Fae beauty is at a crossroads. Now that Gwendolyn’s friends are engaged, and the demon they fought vanquished, should she return home? After committing a terrible act, she could not explain to her cousin why she had appeared on his doorstep. 

Alexander awoke in darkness inside a bronze statue, remembering how the green of Scotland’s Culloden field had turned red with blood that day in 1746. Had he died before awakening nude and sightless in front of strangers in present-day Raleigh, North Carolina? The mystery of how was overshadowed by why. Told that another warrior awoke when a demon threatened to take over the world, had a second demon escaped Hell? When the demon appears and demands Gwen join him, Alex must use all his new skills, weapons, and Heaven-sent powers to keep her and the world safe

Excerpt from Heaven-sent Highlander

“Lass,” he said, chuckling, “why else would a man wish a woman to stay? There be a verra soft bed and darkness to conquer.”
“Now you sound more like the man I ran away from, not too long ago. He wanted me to lie with him, as well. I choose who. I choose when. Do you understand?” As her voice rose, she stepped away.
He grew closer, and she could smell the forest on his skin. She gave him a gentle shove, pushing him inside the room. His hand whipped out for balance and smacked against her breasts.
“Heaven above! Take care, warrior, or you will sleep the sleep of the dead!”
“My pardon. I seem to keep missing the mark. I meant to drag ye close, and kiss ye, but I am a fumbling idjit.” His shoulders slumped again, and he shuffled farther into the room.
“Wait. I did not mean to sound like such a shrew.”
He turned, but did not quite meet her gaze. “Ye are no’ a wee mouse-like beastie.”
“A figure of speech. Sorry.”
“May I share a kiss?”
Could a simple kiss goodnight hurt? She had felt pain from many aspects of lovemaking, but . . .
“I would never do anything to harm ye, lass.”
Before she could answer, Alex slid a muscular arm around her waist, and drew her into his chest, then into the room. Both hands slid up her sides, as if he was following a roadmap like the ones she and Sam had learned to read. When one hand cupped the back of her head, he drew her to his mouth, and settled his lips against hers. His touch was gentle and his lips were soft and warm. A click meant the door had closed.


Find all Buy Links Here:   https://nancyleebadger.blogspot.com/p/books.html


More About the Author
Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island, where school field trips to lofty museums were the norm. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education and met and married her college sweetheart. They raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire, where Nancy volunteered as an EMT and firefighter while working full-time. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling show became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 9-1-1 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved with her husband to North Carolina, where she writes full-time.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She loves to travel and attend Scottish Highland Games and is never far from her laptop. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places.
                       

Connect with Nancy Lee Badger

Website     Twitter    Facebook

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Book Spotlight & Giveaway~ Kate Hill's Fangs & Fists 3: Victor



Fangs and Fists 3: Victor
By Kate Hill

♥♥ GiveAway ♥♥ 
Kate is giving away a $10 Amazon GC during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember there is a chance to enter everyday so be sure to follow the Blog Tour. You may find the tour schedule and locations here https://bit.ly/2G1mPye

About Fangs and Fists 3: Victor:  Werewolf gladiator Victor vows to escape captivity by demons or die trying--which nearly happens when his latest opponent takes him by surprise. Jolanda is a member of a secret pack of wolf witches who want to free their kin from the dreaded demon tower. Strengthened by the power of her pack, she defeats Victor in the arena and demands that he be given to her as a mate. Alone, they surrender to their overwhelming lust for each other, but Jolanda needs him for more than sex. She's been sent to rescue the captive wolves and Victor is the Alpha she needs to help her. Together he and Jolanda plan a mass escape from the tower, hoping to strike a blow the demon masters will never forget. 



  Genres: Dark Fantasy, Futuristic, Paranormal, Romance

Buy Links: 
*♥*♥*♥*
15% off any order when you shop Kate Hill *♥*♥*♥*
Code: Fangs-and-Fists

Will work on the entire cart, as long as there's one Kate Hill book in the cart. 
Only at Changeling Press

~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥~ 

Excerpt:
Two demon guards clad in black body armor entered the barracks. Their red eyes glowed behind dark face shields. They approached Victor and one guard said, “Get up and come with us.” All the guards sounded and looked alike. They were even the same height and body structure. Victor knew better than to refuse. There would be no point in fighting, even if he was so inclined. He guessed he would be going to one of two possible places. It would either be the punishment chamber because he’d killed Slate too quickly or -- and this was more likely -- to the demon masters who had bargained with him to kill for their entertainment. The guards brought Victor out of the barracks and down a steel corridor to an elevator at the end. They boarded it. Except for the soft whir of the elevator descending, there was silence. It stopped with an almost imperceptible lurch. The door opened and Victor, accompanied by the guards, stepped into a spacious room with an enormous glass ball in the center of it. Several couches surrounded it. While the upholstery resembled leather, Victor’s sense of smell told him the couches were covered with material that hadn’t come from any four-legged animal. He’d been in this room before. Here, the demons had bargained with him for the lives of his fellow gladiators, their mates, and their cubs. Here, he’d traded his integrity and his soul for their lives. The guards disappeared into dark corners of the room. Since he had no intention of sitting on the foul furniture, Victor stood near the glass ball and waited. The ball glowed faintly at first. Then it brightened. From within, two demon masters -- one male and one female -- stared at him. He knew they weren’t actually there. The ball was similar to television. He could see and hear them, but they were far away. The male had ink-black, elbow-length hair. Tall and slim, he was dressed from head to foot in red. The female had short white hair. Her skin was nearly as pale as her form-fitting white dress. Both demons stared at him with black eyes. “Your game has improved, Victor,” said the male, “but I’m afraid you still haven’t mastered the art of performing. Your kills aren’t entertaining enough, but for now that’s beside the point. We haven’t called you here to critique your style, but for another reason.” “We have something special planned for you,” the female continued. “There’s a new contender in the tower -- one who has seen you fight and wishes to face you in the arena.”

~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥~

Other Books in the Series: 

Bolt (Fangs and Fists 1) 
Fangs and Fists 1: Bolt 

Buy Links:
Grit (Fangs and Fists 2) 
Fangs and Fists 2: Grit 

Buy Links:
~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥~ 

About the Author: The child of a painter and a psychic dreamer, Kate Hill feels spirituality and storytelling go hand-in-hand. She loves the scent of gardenia, the sound of wind chimes and the taste of honey. By listening to what isn’t said, she creates works based on unspoken desires. Kate prefers blurred gender lines and many varieties of romance. In a world where passion must at times be restrained, she believes erotica is a pleasure to be shared. With her stories she would like to make her fantasies yours and hopes you enjoy the ride. She also writes under the name Saloni Quinby. Please visit her online at:
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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Book Spotlight & Giveaway~ Vivi's Leading Man


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Emily will be awarding two prizes each containing ebooks Mist and Smoke, the first two books in the Smoky Blues series, to randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
EXES AND OHS

The marriage was one of convenience. She had status and he had money. But... there was something there, and both of them felt it. After three years of him working long hours and her spending too much time at the Durango Street Theatre, Miguel Abonce and Vivienne Heiser called it quits. One year later, they are forced to work together to save or sell the theater. In the process they discover things they never knew about each other and they learn there's more between them than burning up the sheets. They might really love each other after all.

Read an Excerpt

For a moment, he looked like she’d shot him through the heart with a sawed-off shotgun. Then he straightened. “You don’t love me, either, Vivi. Marriage is like any other business arrangement. It’s all about assets, querida. Who is bringing what to the table.”

“You know what? I just lost the thing in this life that I love with all my heart and you’re standing here giving me a Wharton Business School lecture. I don’t want a business deal. I want a husband I love who loves me back. I deserve that much out of life and I’m going to get it.” She pulled the ring off her finger and pushed it into his hand.

He turned away and walked to his car. Her hands trembled as she beeped open her car. She heard him pull out of the parking lot as she slid into her seat. As she started the engine and got the air conditioner going, fat, sloppy tears ran down her cheeks.

About the Author:

The author of over thirty romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons, she and her husband split their time between central Texas, eastern Tennessee, and Georgia visiting their kids and grandchildren. For relaxation Emily plays the piano, organ, dulcimer, and ukulele for two different performing groups, and even sings a little. She says, “I love to write romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman—if she’ll just let it.”

website: http://www.emilymims.com
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/emily.mims.756
twitter: http://twitter.com/emilymimsauthor
instagram: http://www.instagram.com/mims_emily
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Emily-Mims/e/B00FQQ247K/ref=sr_tc_2_0

Buy link: http://boroughspublishinggroup.com/books/vivis-leading-man

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Guest Author Day with Kelli A. Wilkins


What Readers Want to Know…
A Chat with Author Kelli A. Wilkins


Today, romance author Kelli A. Wilkins is answering a few fun questions about herself, her books, and writing in general. Readers want to know…

How would you describe yourself using only five words?
Busy romance and horror author.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Of course! I lounge around on the couch in front of the TV when I should be writing, or cleaning, or doing something else. I usually devote my Friday nights to being lazy.

How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
I block out a chunk of time and review my outline. Then I envision the scene I want to write and just do it. My first draft is nowhere near perfect—at that stage, all I want to do is write the scene so it’s out of my head and on the paper. When I go back and revise, I add dialogue tags, sensory details, and fix up the word choices to make the scene come alive.
 
If someone hasn’t read any of your work, what book(s) would you recommend that they start with and why?
That depends on what genre they like to read. My romances include almost all genres, and the heat levels vary from mildly sensual to scorching-hot.

Historical romance lovers would enjoy Dangerous Indenture. It’s a full-length novel set in Pennsylvania Colony and blends a sensual romance with mystery and suspense. Or, if they like something with more adventure, they could read Loving a Wild Stranger. Redemption from a Dark Past is perfect for Gothic romance lovers.

Readers of historical/fantasy romance would like either the Royal Desires series (A Most Unusual Princess, A Most Intriguing Temptation, and A Most Unfortunate Prince) or the Naughty Nobles trilogy (Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights).

Contemporary romance readers can fall in love with Vinnie, the hero from A Deceptive Match, or Curtis, the sexy country singer from Trust with Hearts. Paranormal lovers would like Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover or Beauty & the Bigfoot.

And readers of gay romance have a choice between A Secret Match, Four Days with Jack, or Killer in Wolf’s Clothing. I like to say I have romances for everyone!


Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s your take on this?
That’s a fantasy. People want to believe that writers sit around contemplating what to write all day, crank out a perfect book in a week, then sit back and collect outrageously huge checks. That’s fiction! Many non-writers don’t understand that creating a book out of thin air is a time-consuming (and sometimes frustrating) process that takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

I’ve had people ask me how come I don’t have a million dollars or why haven’t my books been on the New York Times Best-seller List yet. The reality is that some authors can and do quit their day jobs to write, while others put in 40 hours a week doing something else and then carve out time from the rest of the day to write. It’s not always glamorous, but creating characters and writing about them is fun, and that’s why I do it.

Do you ever feel forced to write?
Yes. Sometimes when I haven’t been writing for a while and I’m slacking off, a little voice pops into my head and says, “You’d better sit down and start writing something, now!” This usually happens after I’ve taken a week or so off after a new release to recharge.


Have you ever written about your own bad habits/personality flaws? 
I haven’t yet – at least not consciously! But Elara in A Most Unusual Princess can be pushy, stubborn, opinionated, and doesn’t always listen. (Some people might see a bit of me in her…) I do give my characters some of my better traits: a wacky sense of humor (Beauty & the Bigfoot), inner strength and determination (Dangerous Indenture) and belief in a good cause (Trust with Hearts). I like to include character traits or incorporate aspects of real people into my stories, so I always tell friends and family (and others), “be nice to me, or I might put you in a story.”



If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for lunch, who would it be and what would you eat?
I’d have lunch with Stephen King (his schedule permitting, of course). Most people probably don’t know that in addition to my romances, I also write horror fiction. I read Stephen King’s short stories at a very young age, and his writing style and distinct voice have always stuck with me. I think his book On Writing is a must-read for anyone who writes or wants to write. And lunch? We’d go someplace low-key and casual (like a retro diner that has its fair share of unique characters) and be so busy talking about all sorts of stuff (writing, the horror genre, Dwight Yoakam, and Lucas Davenport!) that we’d forget to eat!


Tell us about your latest release(s).
In March, I released Dangerous Indenture. This full-length novel is set in Pennsylvania Colony and blends a sensual romance with mystery and suspense. Earlier this year I published the second half of my flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes. These two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence. Readers can learn more about them on my website.

What’s next on the horizon for you?
Currently, I’m re-editing my historical romances previously published with Medallion Press. After that, I have ideas for a few other romances (a paranormal, and a gay contemporary). Of course, in between all this, I’m also working on a few new horror stories.

Where can readers get in touch with you or find you on the web?
I just launched a brand new website - www.KelliWilkins.com - same url, totally new look! It’s the best place to read about all of my books and find me on social media. There’s also a contact form where readers can get in touch with me and ask me questions or leave feedback. I invite everyone to stop by for a visit. I enjoy learning which books, characters, and scenes readers love best.  

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts today.

Happy Reading!

Kelli A. Wilkins



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, 5 non-fiction books, and 2 online writing courses. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories.
Her historical romance, Dangerous Indenture, was released in March 2019. This full-length novel is set in Pennsylvania Colony and blends a sensual romance with mystery and suspense.

She published the second half of her flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes, in early 2019. These two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence.

Kelli released her latest Teachable mini-course, Fiction Basics: Finding Ideas in February 2019. She authored Fiction Writing for Beginners through Teachable in 2018. These courses are perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/ for more details.
If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her latest novella, Nightmare in the North.
Not just an author, Kelli is also an amateur photographer. Visit her pages on Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/kelli+wilkins and iStock https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/kelliwilkins to view her photos.
Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.
Visit her NEW website www.KelliWilkins.com and blog http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/ to learn more about all of her writings.


Book Spotlight & Giveaway~ Destructive Forces


Title: Destructive Forces
Series: The Galactic Captains, Book Four
Author: Harry F. Rey
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: April 22, 2019
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: No Romance
Length: 70400
Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, sci-fi, futuristic, war, space, war of worlds, gay, lesbian, military, royalty

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

In the far reaches of the Kyleri Empire, young Captain Mahnoor travels around the system to escape the cultural pressures to marry. But his infatuation with a handsome imperial pilot leads him into a galactic war. On Jiwani, Viscamon is attempting to consolidate his power, by blaming the Ingvar for the royal massacre and calling armies from across the Empire to track down the missing prince, and achieve his dream of destroying the Galactic Balance. However, Antari knows the truth about Osvai and must find the courage to stand up to the prince’s enemies, and his own, no matter the risk. Meanwhile on Aldegar, Daeron is being held prisoner by the few remaining Ingvar forces and must find a way to break free to rescue his mother and the crew of the Daring Huntress once again, as well as the missing Prince Osvai, before the Kyleri come to take back what’s theirs. Sallah, no longer the last Tevian, returns to Aldegar with no choice but to enlist the help of the man she hates and the woman she once loved to see her son again. As the Galactic Balance tips ever more towards chaos, time is running out to save Ales from the destructive forces he has unleashed.

Excerpt

Destructive Forces Harry F. Rey © 2019 All Rights Reserved Chapter One “Don’t let him get away!” Sallah screamed at the top of her lungs through the chaos of the fiery corridor. Two Ingvar soldiers had her by either arm. They’d dragged her out of the Trades Council plenum-turned-battle zone against her will. Her life was of paramount value to the Ingvar star-state, but she couldn’t care less about that now. Not while this Turo was getting away. His words, spoken only minutes ago, haunted her mind. I have your son, he’d said, with a swirling sneer. Then everything exploded. Sallah had lost sight of General Morvas and Councilor Nexia in the shooting. Ingvar soldiers had also jumped on them, but the smoke and noise of weapons fire made trying to get back to the ship impossible. Yet it was the last thing Sallah wanted to do—the insurrection in the heart of the Trades Council be damned. “Get off me.” She struggled against their armor-plated bodies, but they did not relent. Sallah’s feet kept slipping against the smooth marble floor; she couldn’t find a grip. Yelling and the ricochet of weapons banged around the air from every direction, stinging smoke encroaching on their position. Sallah yanked her head around to a din of shots being fired, and the two soldiers pulled her back from the brink of the great hallway where volleys of laser shot fired backward and forward into unknown, unseen sets of troops. “Get back.” One of the soldiers said and knocked her head back against the wall, trying to avoid edging around the corner into the wide trench of ongoing warfare the great hallway had become. Sallah remembered the way. They had to get across to the other side, through the firing range. A far-off explosion shook the walls of the building, seeming to strike at the core of the planet itself. The firing ceased, but silence did not return. Instead, the screeching sounds of warplanes entering the Targulian atmosphere filled the once-gilded walkway. Down beyond their position, toward the end of the great hallway, Sallah saw figures moving through the smoke. The shapes could be Turo, or even Ales. The only thing clear was her need to get to them. Her Ingvar captors looked distracted, scanning the now eerily silent hallway through black visor helmets. One had his hand pointed backward in a halfhearted attempt to keep her still. She edged away from the wall, then glanced into the great hallway. It had the air of some ancient temple; high ceilings reaching up to a glass-domed roof to the hazy orange Targulian air. The heart of the Outer Verge, now consumed in inter-factional war, the Union against the Trades Council, while a foreign power circled the planet like some great mountain vulture. And here she was, the former last Tevian alive. She couldn’t let her life end this way. Not while her son might be right around the corner—hurt, or in danger. Sallah gritted her teeth and launched herself against one of the soldiers. With a swift kick, she booted him in the side, and he tumbled away from her into the space of no man’s land, his footing lost to the smooth-edged floor. “What are you doing?” the other one cried out through his visor. But it was too late. A volley of weapons fire began again from both sides, riddling the Ingvar soldier’s body from the left and right. Puffs of vaporized blood and brain floated into the air as his lifeless body collapsed in a haze of reddish death. The living soldier floated in front of her, as if suspended in time, now unsure if she was friend or foe. She wanted to leap toward him, grab the sidearm from his belt, flip, and blast him in the back. The sinews of her body, the echoes of Sallah’s yearning for her son she’d thought lost along with the rest of her home-world, ached for the ability to push him aside and sprint to her destiny. Yet something exploded against her back. It felt as if the walls themselves had collapsed onto her as the polished marble rushed up to meet her face. But she stopped. There was no impact. Something, no, someone grabbed her, saved her from being smashed to the ground. “I have her,” a metallic voice said through the helmet. Sallah caught the edge of her reflection in the onyx visor. The whites of her eyes enraged and bloodshot against skin the color of a dark and stormy night. “Let’s go,” said another. The sound of many more boots smacking against the ground joined with the fire of weapons. Someone held her back, as a stream of Ingvar soldiers rushed from behind, firing their weapons to either side of the great hallway, building a wall of cover fire to cross to the other side. A black-gloved arm pulled her back by the chest, and she struggled to no avail. “This way, general,” a voice said behind her. “Increase fire, don’t hold back,” it yelled to the soldiers holding the line the breadth of the hallway to the narrower corridor across the other side. General Morvas staggered past, helped by two soldiers. His soft, gray hair and distinguished features were dripping in blood from an open wound across his skull, his robes torn and wrapped around an arm as a makeshift bandage. The volley of fire from the soldiers turned into a crescendo of noise and smoke. Most likely no one was firing back from either side, but they kept the rate up as the half-crouched general crossed the hallway like a child being rescued from a fire. Councilor Nexia came along next, her frail elderly body slung over the back of a soldier as if she were won as a prize of war. “Sallah,” the Trades Council leader cried out. “Come with us, now. The Union are starting a war.” Sallah pushed against her captor’s arm with all her power. “No! I must find Turo. I must—” “We have him. He’s on the ship.” Nexia said. The soldier carrying her didn’t stop running. “Get her back to the fleet,” Nexia yelled over the rage of battle toward Sallah’s captor. She was a prize they couldn’t lose. Powerful armored hands grabbed her from behind, squeezing her sides so hard she felt the pain through the adrenaline rush. There was no way to break free. Turo, Ales—she had to find them. Sallah struggled against her captor, legs flying back in a wild storm of trying to find any weak point in the armor and land a kick to skin. “Let me go.” He’d had enough. He didn’t think twice. Like Nexia in front of her, the soldier hoisted her body across his shoulder and ran after the others, darting through the protective enclosure. It was terrifying. The world had turned upside down. All she could see was the smoke from the far end of the great hallway rising up to the glass convex ceiling, here and there blocking out the hazy orange above. Yet through the glass, she saw the flashes of war and the trails of missiles and strike ships painting their destructive pattern. The Ingvar invasion had begun. The bouncing became rhythmic, and she lost all sense of thinking beyond the next few minutes. Get to the ship, get to Turo. She’d beat that man to a pulp to find out where her son was. She’d swear to the Ingvar to never conduct another experiment again if they did not help her track down Ales. She’d gouge the secrets of galinium and STAR drives from her brain and cast them into the black void of nothingness unless the entirety of the fleet of the Ingvar Empire cast every ion toward finding her son. She’d rip apart the Outer Verge to find… “Hurl her inside. That’s it.” Sallah was flung upward, then caught by firm hands and dragged into the confines of a compact shuttle. Nexia and Morvas were stretched out alongside her, being tended to by soldiers with their visors up. The women and men in Ingvar uniform and their faces consumed in the rapid swirl of action. They had no time to think, only do. “That’s all; time to go,” a voice said. She turned her head to the left through a sharp edge of pain to the two pilots in the narrow cockpit. One was gesturing to get the soldiers out of the shuttle. “Wait,” Sallah screamed. “I need my son. I need Turo.” She pulled herself to her feet, ready to boot everyone else out of the shuttle and fly around the city-world herself to find him. “No time,” the pilot yelled back, looking ready to meet her fists. “I’m taking you back to the fleet now. Strap in.” Out of options, Sallah briefly contemplated jumping on one of the soldiers currently assisting the bruised-looking Nexia and Morvas into their shuttle seats against the narrow walls. Something caught her eye at the back of the shuttle, a soldier she now realized had been standing over someone. He moved out of the way, ready to exit the ship, and then she saw him, strapped in against his will and hands frozen in electromagnetic cuffs. “You piece of flank,” Sallah yelled at Turo in the crowded confines of the ship. The rest of the soldiers ducked outside to the increasingly loud sounds of weapons fire. “Strap in!” The pilot yelled from behind her as the shuttle door snapped closed. “I’ll fucking kill you right now unless you tell me where my son is.” Turo’s green eyes looked up at her, his face smoky and bloodied from the fight, but his eyes alive, and a thin, narrow smile across his lips. The look of a man who, even in defeat, would prefer to watch everything he’d worked for go up in noxious flames than surrender. She launched her fist straight down into his stomach, the straps holding him back keeping him from bending over in reaction to the blow as the ship rumbled into action. He spat out a gob of phlegm and blood onto the polished floor and returned only a smile. She cocked another fist. “Sallah, stop,” Morvas called from behind, as the ship jerked up from the ground. She grabbed a metal bar above her head as the shuttle rumbled into the hazy sky. The sight through the windows dissolved her anger into terrified wonder. Targuline had descended into full-on war. Fighters dipped and dived behind the great trunks of Shards; missiles from space streaked across the orange sky as billows of black smoke infected the world. Sallah turned her attention back to Turo. She held on above as the shuttle bounced around the atmosphere, worried it would drop from the sky at any moment—or perhaps be torn in two from heavy weapons fire. Neither was acceptable. She slammed her free hand into Turo’s throat, squeezing the sinews hard. “Where is my son?” Spluttered nothings fell from his mouth. Clearly, he hadn’t expected to be choked. As he raised a cuffed arm, where his wrist-tech sat, she released him from her deathly grip. “I have him,” he coughed. “Tracked, here.” Sallah twisted the arm with the wrist-tech, causing him to writhe in pain. Arms were not designed to twist in such a way, but she took comfort in his obvious agony. “Find him.” Her eyes flashed with the power of a supernova. One primed for explosion “Locate Ales,” he said into the device. The screen built a rudimentary map of the area with a clear green dot showing him less than fifty kilometers away. “Look, he’s still close by.” Sallah tried to make sense of the map, but the shaking shuttle and the moving blocks of images on the wrist-tech made it almost impossible to follow. She kept her eye solely on the distance counter, which steadily ticked upward as the shuttle flew up into the atmosphere toward the void of space. “He’s on a ship, look.” Turo twisted his wrist-tech farther around, with an edge of humanity in his voice, which took her by surprise. The view of the outside moved around Morvas and Nexia from the hazy, orange battle-scarred sky to the cool blackness of space. Shards poked through the stratosphere, but the normally bustling routes in and out of the planet and its space stations were frozen by the invasion. She stared past Nexia at the Ingvar fleet assembled in battle formation. She’d flown with them from Aldegar in the odd position she held as both a prisoner and most-valued individual, across their emerging empire. She knew this was every ship the Ingvar had. Battle Cruisers and troop transports, command vessels and fighter carriers; an entire fleet constructed from the scraps of the Crejan occupation force the young star-state liberated themselves from. They had gambled their empire on this force, throwing everything they had against the Outer Verge, the only power in the galaxy weaker than themselves, in order to seize the STAR drive and power into the unknown universe beyond. Now, with their fifty-ship fleet amassed around the Targulian atmosphere and the Verge descending into civil war, they needed to get their hands on the raw galinium mined in the far edge of the Outer Verge. Sallah reminded herself she didn’t care for whom she provided the prototypes of the STAR drives or which empire seized on her research. The Union, the Seven Suns, the Ingvar—she cared not for any of them. She had cared only for herself and the chance it may give her to rebuild the world she had lost. Sallah’s hands clasped her stomach as if it was about to explode. “What’s that?” Nexia called out behind her, pointing to the window and the Ingvar fleet beyond. A single ship with a strange greenish glow around it was racing up from the orange haze toward the mass of ships. Sallah had only ever considered that glow in the theory of her work. It can’t be. “It’s Ales,” Turo said, shifting his wrist-tech toward her line of sight stuck on the window, staring at the fleet the shuttle jiggered toward. Her throat flicked closed, a lifetime’s worth of tears held back by nothing but a single hope that soon she may be reunited with the son she’d thought lost. “Tell them to bring him in,” she screamed at the pilot. He looked back with a gasp of worry. Morvas quickly nodded his approval. “Fleet command, there’s an unidentified small vessel headed right to you from the planet. It’s friendly. Repeat, friendly. High-value cargo,” the pilot said into the comms. Sallah left Turo in his strapped-down position and pressed her face against the clear window. His ship was getting closer to the fleet, like a single drop edging ever closer to a waiting beast. But the greenish glow around him grew ever bolder. She pressed her hand against the glass as Morvas, and then Nexia, unclipped from their seats and joined her. “What is it?” Morvas demanded. “Is that a weapon? Is this an attack?” She couldn’t even whisper a No. Sallah felt as if her mind had been severed from her body. It may as well float in the empty void of nothing. Her mind, her soul, unable to comprehend the things she was seeing. Who had built such a thing? Everything had been theoretical, only experiments. How could her research, her life’s work, sever her son from her once again? The glow became stronger and ever brighter as the STAR drive ignited its galinium core. The space around his ship warped and swirled in a cloud of green as the horizon point broke free from the ship’s engine, the greenish bubble growing wide enough to encompass the entire Ingvar fleet. “No. It’s too much. It’s too powerful.” The beat of her heart burst into her skull as the horizon point from Ales’ ship reached its zenith. “What?” Morvas demanded. “What is? Tell me now.” The flash forced Nexia and Morvas to turn away. But Sallah did not. Her eyes burned and ached for the briefest moment, but then the darkness returned. The black, blank darkness of space above the hazy orange orb. Now empty except for a long, glowing white streak of nothing where Ales and the entire Ingvar fleet had just been. Whoever had created that STAR drive had grossly miscalculated the proportions of weaponized galinium required. “Sallah, he’s gone,” Turo said in quiet shock, a note of fear in his voice Sallah would never have thought a man such as he would have. “Where’s my fleet?” Morvas shrieked. “For infinity’s sake, where is my fleet?” Sallah said nothing. Her eyes focused on her own reflection as she watched a single tear drip down her cheek. It was too painful to look at the empty space where her son and all the ships of the Ingvar empire had been, now lost in some unknown galaxy.

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Meet the Author

Harry F. Rey is an author and lover of gay themed stories with a powerful punch with influences ranging from Alan Hollinghurst to Isaac Asimov to George R.R. Martin. He loves all things sci-fi and supernatural, and always with a gay twist. Harry is originally from the UK but lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his husband.

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