Monday, November 23, 2020

And the winner is...

 Hey, Brenda! 

You're the winner of the advance copy of Captive! Send your snail mail address to, and I'll get that out to you ASAP! Congrats!

She stole his freedom… He captured her heart

Moriconthan “Moe” Tshevnoe finds an outlet for his anger when a brawl breaks out in a dusty barroom on Haedus Nine. He joins in the melee with enthusiasm, until he is taken prisoner by a beautiful Zetithian woman with electric blue eyes.

Forced into hiding by the cruel tyrant who covets her, Klara Tavock must do whatever she can to survive. Impressed by Moe’s pugilistic talent, she captures him, intending to sell him as a gladiator slave. But there’s something about this sexy Zetithian she simply can’t resist.

The attraction between them is powerful and undeniable, but when Moe and Klara join forces with the local rebels, they trigger a revolution that could destroy them all…

Or set them free.



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Apple Books 



Sunday, November 8, 2020

New Cat Star Legacy Release!

I know. It's been a long time since anyone has heard from me. But then, we've all been a bit withdrawn for several months. Covid has us locked in, locked down, and scared to go out, even with all the masks and hand sanitizers that are now so readily available, unlike a few months ago when there were none to be had. During that time, I submitted Cat Star Legacy 3: Captive to my Sourcebooks editor. Due to the lackluster sales of Maverick and Mystic, they opted to pass on it, which means you'll be getting your Cat Star fix much sooner (and cheaper!) than you would have if they had chosen to publish it. 

The release date will be December 28, 2020, which is my birthday, one that is something of a milestone in my life. The book is now available for preorder from Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, and B&N. The print version will not be available until the release date because Amazon doesn't offer preorders for print on demand books. I have, however, ordered a proof copy of the print book, which I am raffling off to one lucky reader! To enter, post a comment below telling how books have helped you during the pandemic. The winner will be chosen on November 23, 2020. Good luck!

She stole his freedom… He captured her heart.

Moriconthan “Moe” Tshevnoe finds an outlet for his anger when a brawl breaks out in a dusty barroom on Haedus Nine. He joins in the melee with enthusiasm, until he is taken prisoner by a beautiful Zetithian woman with electric blue eyes.

Forced into hiding by the cruel tyrant who covets her, Klara Tavock must do whatever she can to survive. Impressed by Moe’s pugilistic talent, she captures him, intending to sell him as a gladiator slave. But there’s something about this sexy Zetithian she simply can’t resist.
The attraction between them is powerful and undeniable, but when Moe and Klara join forces with the local rebels, they trigger a revolution that could destroy them all…

Or set them free.

Chapter 1
Moriconthan “Moe” Tshevnoe sat alone at a table in a dusty bar on Haedus Nine choking down beer that smelled more like vrelnot piss than lager. He truly hated Haedus Nine. The climate was hot, dry, and oppressive, and its natives were ugly, devious, and inherently dishonest, which made it as good a place as any to pick a fight.
   He’d been spoiling for a fight for months, an irritation of mood he couldn’t explain. But whatever it was, it made him want to beat the shit out of some deserving lowlife scumbag—or at least bite something. Hard. He was not a fighter by nature; nonetheless, his jaws clenched in anger for no other reason than the disgusting smell emanating from the occupants of the nearest table.
   This much anger wasn’t normal for him. He’d always been considered the most sensible of his littermates, the lone voice of reason on many of his brothers’ escapades. He was cautious and methodical—traits that made him an excellent navigator—but his gut instincts were usually spot-on. Not that anyone ever actually listened to him. Over the years, he’d become quite adept at choking back the words I told you so to anyone foolish enough not to follow his suggestions.
   Perhaps that was his problem. He’d just come from a run to Alpha Marcos where his current pilot, a Vessonian named Nevid Kairn, had ignored Moe’s reminder that the ship had a rather large communications dish on its forward hull. Having been scraped off by a low hangar bay door, that dish was now a crumpled mass of steel, useful only as scrap metal rather than a salvageable component.
Moe could easily fly the ship himself—having grown up on a starship, he’d been capable of manning every duty station by the age of seven—but being alone in space was, well, lonely. Unfortunately, Nevid wasn’t terribly good company. Maybe he was to blame for Moe’s current mood.
   No. I felt like this even before he signed on.
   The conversation at the next table had reached the ear-splitting level. A fistfight was imminent. Perhaps he could find an excuse to get into the fight. That’s what he needed. A good old-fashioned barroom brawl. It wouldn’t take much. One more tiny little annoyance and his anger would explode.
The lone Herpatronian in a group that boasted no less than three Haedusians, two Kitnocks, and a Vetla took a swing at one of the Haedusians and missed, inertia causing his ape-like body to spin out of his chair, the fist on the end of his long, simian arm connecting with Moe’s shoulder.
   Thank the gods.
   Moe pushed back his chair and tore into the Herp like a fiend: fangs bared and hands balled into fists. Rather than join in the fray, the Haedusians actually started cheering. As Moe pummeled the momentarily astonished Herp, his companions tossed handfuls of credits on the table and began taking bets.   
He couldn’t blame the others for leaving the Herp to face him alone. With tall, cylindrical heads and limbs like toothpicks, Kitnocks tended to avoid altercations with species more sturdily built than they were. Vetlas were humpbacked with short arms that gave them virtually no reach whatsoever. The Haedusians themselves reminded him of birds, even to the extent that the males’ clothing—if such tattered rags could be called that—was more colorful than the robes worn by the females. Overall, they were quite scrawny with long, spidery fingers, huge hooked noses, and beady little eyes. They seldom engaged in fisticuffs, evidently preferring to profit from the outcome rather than participate.
   Moe didn’t give a damn. After a brief protest that he had no bone to pick with Moe—a highly unusual statement for a Herp—the creature was finally fighting back. Moe took a punch to the jaw that should’ve at least broken a fang. He tasted blood and renewed his attack. He knew if he didn’t knock him out soon, the Herp would eventually overpower him. Getting in close was the best way to deal with a Herp, canceling their longer reach, but putting Moe’s sensitive Zetithian nose much too close to his opponent’s stinking brown pelt.
   Pouring months of pent-up rage into his fists, Moe didn’t bother pulling a knife or a pulse pistol. The Herp wasn’t unarmed, but that didn’t matter. Yet.
   “Take it out in the street!” the bartender roared as the Herp snatched a bottle from a nearby table and attempted to smash it over Moe’s head. With his catlike reflexes, Moe easily dodged the bottle, which went smashing into a row of bottles above the bar. Booze mixed with blue Morwellian cream oozed down the wall as two hulking Terrans shouldered through the gathering crowd.
  “He said, take it outside,” snarled a heavily muscled bald man whose body was covered with more leather and tattoos than actual fabric. That was another thing Moe didn’t like about Haedus: the excessive heat tended to reduce the amount of clothing worn by offworlders, some of which should never have been seen in such a disgusting state of undress. Herps were the worst. The long cloths they wore wrapped around their pelvic areas looked more like diapers than anything and didn’t cover nearly enough of them.
One of the Terrans grabbed the Herp from behind just as his diaper came undone, leaving an already hideous creature completely naked.
   “What has been seen cannot be unseen,” Moe muttered as a push from behind sent him sprawling, but only for a moment. With a quick roll, he jumped to his feet.
    As the bouncer wrestled the Herp toward the door, Moe ran after them, yelling, “I’m not done with him yet!”
   “Oh, yes, you are,” said a feminine voice from behind him.
   Spinning around, Moe came face-to-face with a tall woman in a black hooded robe. At least, he assumed it was a woman. A pair of electric-blue eyes stared at him from inside the hood. However, unlike the usual Davordian, which was what he took her to be, her pupils were glowing vertical slits like those of his own feline eyes.
   “Who the devil are you?” he snapped.
   “Why, the devil, of course.” The woman let out a hiss as the nozzle of a pulse pistol emerged from her robes. “Nighty-night.”
   Without another word, she fired.
   The last thing Moe saw was her fangs as she smiled.
* * *
Klara Tavock motioned for her henchmen to gather up her latest catch. “A fighter brave enough to go up against a Herpatronian—or stupid enough, take your pick—should bring a nice price on the open market, don’t you think?”
   She said this to no one in particular, nor did she expect an answer, mainly because her gang members had learned the wisdom of keeping their mouths shut long ago, especially when she was on the hunt.
Except this one particular gang member. The Norludian glanced up as he rolled their captive over onto his back. “You know, boss, he kinda looks like—”
   “Like what?”
   “Well…sort of like you.”
   Klara raised a brow, the only indication of anger she ever allowed herself to display. “A man looks like me?” She tipped her head to the side, trying to decide if Temfilk was serious or simply hoping to get a rise out of her, as he so often did. “How so?”
   “He might not have an orange streak in his hair.” He pulled a mass of black curls away from the unconscious man’s face. “But check out the slanted eyebrows and pointed ears. You could be the same species. Might even be related.”
   “Don’t be ridiculous. There are none like me anywhere in the quadrant, let alone on this”—she sneered as she squeezed a large measure of disdain into the word—“planet.” At least, none she’d ever seen. She waved a dismissive hand. “Just put him in the speeder. I’ll decide what to do with him later.” A brief sweep of the dusty barroom with her keen eyes showed several patrons making a big show of pretending they hadn’t seen a thing.
   Typical. Although she wouldn’t put it past any of them to figure out how to profit from the event.  
Still, she’d reacted quickly with this one. She normally took longer to study her quarry, weighing their possible worth against their likelihood of causing trouble. This one was trouble, all right. But something about him made her shoot first and ask questions later. His speed and agility were only part of it.
Perhaps Temfilk was right.
  However, this was not the time for contemplation. A low whistle brought her speeder to the door, along with Nexbit.
   “Might want to morph into something strong for this one,” she advised the Sympaticon. “He’s bigger than our usual catch.”
   Aside from the fact that Nexbit’s resting state was rather ugly, it had never struck Klara as being particularly strong. His thin body was covered with pale gray skin, and wispy hair sprouted from a pair of flat, round ears. Long yellow nails studded the tips of fingers like weak bamboo. Beady eyes, a bulbous nose, and a nearly nonexistent chin completed a face only a mother could love. Clad in a tunic made of coarse brown fabric that was belted at the waist, he reminded Klara of the trolls from the stories her mother had read to her as a child.
   “Sure thing, boss.” Nexbit opted for a Terran form this time, duplicating the bouncer right down to his tattoos. Only his head remained unchanged—which was fortunate because the bouncer was even uglier than the Sympaticon.
   “That’s a good look for you, Nex,” Temfilk remarked. “You should stick with it.”
   “Too much trouble.” Nexbit hefted the unconscious man onto his shoulder with ease. “And besides, Terrans stink.”
   Temfilk glanced at Klara. “Going to sell this one or recruit him? He’d be an asset to the team.”
   “Haven’t decided,” Klara replied. “No more questions. Let’s get out of here.”
* * *

Moe awoke with an ache in every bone in his body, and not only where his Herpatronian opponent had hit him. When he realized he was bound and gagged, his anger flared again, even though that anger had probably been responsible for his current predicament. He didn’t know why he’d been captured, but there were only two options.
   Being sold into slavery was one. His father had been a slave for twenty years, and that history appeared to be repeating itself in his son. The fact that he’d been taken by a woman made the slavery issue even more appalling. Lynx, one of six Zetithian prisoners of war who had been sold as slaves in lieu of execution, had been a harem slave for ten years. Cooped up with fifty women at any given time, those women had simply worn him out—physically, mentally, and sexually. That Moe had been captured while in a fight with a Herp was another factor. There were still gladiator-type entertainments on a few backward planets—including Haedus Nine—and those were only the ones he’d heard about.
   The other possible option was being turned over to a Nedwut bounty hunter. The bounty on Zetithians hadn’t been paid in twenty years, but that didn’t mean everyone had heard the news that Trag Vladatonsk had killed Rutger Grekkor, thus ending the Terran man’s jealous vendetta against Zetithians. In his zeal for exterminating their species, he’d even destroyed their planet. And all because Grekkor’s wife had taken a Zetithian lover.
   Why does it always have to be about sex?
   Moe sometimes wished he’d favored his Terran mother instead of appearing to be a clone of his Zetithian father.
   Curse those dominant genes.
   Finally, his fury had a focus.
   That woman.
   So what if she had the most incredible eyes he’d ever seen. Clear, electric blue with a startling black rim around the iris. At least, that was what he remembered seeing—right before she shot him.
Whatever she was planning for him couldn’t be good. This wasn’t like any courtship ritual anyone had ever told him about, unless it was a shoot-first-and-have-sex-later approach, which meant he needed to get the heck out of Dodge.
   What his captor couldn’t have known was that Moe could escape from almost any form of restraint. Harry Houdini had nothing on him. He could dislocate various joints and then put them back in place with ease. Sure, he might be a little sore afterward, but thanks to his Zetithian blood, a good night’s restorative sleep fixed him right up. The only limiting factor was the width of the space between any bars on the doors and windows with respect to size of his head. However, given enough time and access to the locks, he didn’t have to resort to squeezing between bars. Considering the lack of creativity with which he’d been tied up, he doubted the locks were any better. Getting past a guard was a little tougher, but it could be done. Being conscious was the only requirement.
   I should’ve been a thief.
   Except he wasn’t a thief—wasn’t even the tiniest bit dishonest. His escape artist routine was more of a hobby than training for his life’s work. Some people played video games or engaged in sports. Others painted or played music. Moe played with locks and handcuffs.
   On the other hand, if he’d been imprisoned aboard a starship, there really wasn’t anywhere to go, unless he could find an escape pod. Even if he couldn’t get to a pod, he could tap into a ship’s navigational controls, alter the course to suit his needs, and lock the controls so no one could reset the course.
He set aside his anger for the few minutes it took to extricate himself from his bonds. Given how measly these were, he suspected the windowless cell in which he was being held was where the security lay.
There were two possibilities for escaping the cell. He could wait behind the door and attempt to overpower anyone who entered, or he could go to work on the lock. Fortunately, he didn’t need much in the way of tools to do the job, although a quick check of the pockets of his jacket and trousers was enough to inform him that he had undergone a thorough search prior to being deposited there. Even his belt and boots had been removed.
   Waiting behind the door, it is.
   A hidden camera would nullify that tactic, although being free to move still gave him an advantage. He took a few moments to study his surroundings, which didn’t take long because except for him, the room was empty. The only light came from a single overhead fixture. A camera could be hidden there, but as archaic as the fixture appeared to be, he doubted it was equipped with anything that sophisticated.
He checked the lock anyway. Since it was sonic operated, he could’ve altered his comlink signal to override it, but of course, that was gone too.
   Nothing to do but wait.
   Hungry, thirsty, and in dire need of a trip to the restroom, he could’ve called out to his captors that he needed to relieve himself, which would’ve been a good idea if he hadn’t been gagged as well as bound. Once he started talking, they would know he was loose.
   He settled down beside the door, noting that it was at least hinged. A door that opened inward was a mark in his favor. A sliding door or one that opened outward would severely diminish the element of surprise. Nor, he now realized, was he being held aboard a starship—unless the stardrive engines were currently shut down. Having lived on a ship for nearly his entire life, he was attuned to changes in the engine’s hum and the barely perceptible vibrations of space travel. These were, however, absent, suggesting that he probably hadn’t left Haedus Nine—might even still be in Srekatoa, the same crappy city in which he’d been captured.
   He should’ve known better than to let his temper get the better of him. Nothing good ever came from throwing a tantrum, no matter the age of the person involved. Anger made you do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do, like breaking things that were sometimes irreplaceable. Still, when the mood struck, ignoring it was just as unhealthy. 
   He was about to give up and go pee in the corner when the lock finally disengaged. Moe leaped to his feet in a silent move only a cat could have duplicated. He waited until the robed figure had cleared the doorway before kicking the door shut and pouncing on his prey.
   That his adversary was female didn’t give him any advantage whatsoever, especially given that she had a pistol in her hand. Moe had learned several forms of martial arts during his formative years. But so, apparently, had his captor. Every move he made was met with the appropriate countermove—almost as though they’d had the same teacher.
   The fight went on far longer than it should have, and Moe was forced to admit that she was an even match for him in technique, if not in speed. He knew he was holding back, although he wasn’t sure why. He should’ve simply beaten the crap out of this woman, recovered his belongings, and high-tailed it back to his ship before leaving Haedus Nine forever. What was stopping him?
   With no clear answer for that, he dropped to the floor. A quick spin on his belly brought his feet up against her legs, knocking them out from under her. The moment she fell, Moe pounced.
Her breath went out with a whoosh as he landed on top of her. Pinning her hands to the floor above her head, he wrestled the pistol from her grip. Despite knowing he should take advantage of this momentary lead and start running and not stop until he reached the spaceport, curiosity, which had been known to kill cats in the past, got the better of him.
   Straddling her hips, he sat up and jerked the hood from her head. For a long moment, all he could do was stare as his gaze darted from her pointed ears to her catlike eyes, long curly hair, and sharp fangs and back again until her snarl of frustration brought him back to his senses.
   “Mother of the gods,” he said with a hoarse whisper. “You really are Zetithian.”
   Moreover, she looked oddly familiar.
   “Half Zetithian,” she said with a contemptuous snort. “My mother was Davordian.”
   That explained the eyes, but not much else. “That orange streak in your hair… It reminds me of someone I know. His hair is exactly the same as yours—black with an orange streak near the temple. It’s even on the same side as his.”
   Her eyes narrowed with disdain. “You don’t say.”
   He nodded. “Yeah. I do say. His name is Trag Vladatonsk, and I’ve known him all my life.” Moe had never been quite sure how to refer to the men who’d once been his father’s comrades in arms before their unit had been captured and sold into slavery. Despite the lack of blood ties, Trag and the others were like uncles to him.
   “I’ve heard the name before,” she said. “Which isn’t too surprising. He is, after all, the one who sired me.”

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Out of Bounds Release Day!

The day is finally mother's 90th birthday, and the release day for Out of Bounds! I wasn't sure I had another book in me, but here it is. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. Enjoy!

He fell for another man.
Then he met the perfect woman…

Chapter 1
The Kickoff

I stole another peek at him, praying to God I could keep my ass in the chair instead of grabbing him and kissing him senseless.
Yep. He was still there and still as irresistible as ever. Those big, brown puppy-dog eyes and dark, tousled hair drove me absolutely wild—every single day. I was dying to tangle my fingers in that hair when I kissed him, gliding my tongue between his soft, sensuous lips. Lying with my head on his stomach while I devoured him would be sheer heaven. I wanted his cock hard and slick in my mouth. Wanted to feel his body tighten right before he came in my face. Then I wanted to get lost inside him and never find my way out.
I would be careful—never hurt him or be too rough. I would take time to explore his body, making love with him gently at first, and then harder and harder until he was groaning and screaming in ecstasy. I wanted him to be mine—all mine—forever. I wanted him bad.
Of course, if he’d had any idea what I was thinking he’d probably punch my lights out—and who could blame him? The best I could tell, he wasn’t into guys. He liked girls, and it was my tough luck that I happened to be a guy. I usually liked girls myself, but this guy, this delightful David, made me wish we were both gay. But we weren’t, and knowing we could never be more than friends was just about to kill me.
David. It wasn’t even a name I particularly cared for, being a bit overused. I wouldn’t name my son that, for example, preferring something a bit less traditional, although for some reason it suited him perfectly. His last name was Adams, which was also fairly common, but what’s in a name? David, by any other name, would have been every bit as sweet, every bit as enticing, and every bit as irresistible.
He was beautiful. Hell, he even smelled nice. Not like some guys I’d hung out with over the years. Made me wonder how they ever got laid. Women don’t like shit like that. They like their men fresh and clean, not stinky and scuzzy. At least, that was my take on the subject.
Women liked me okay. I’d dated quite a few in my time—maybe not as many as I had during my playing days when the media referred to me as Kyle “Golden Arm” Sorenson—but several. Sometimes a woman would hang around for a while, although most of them didn’t. Of course, I’d never loved any of them, which was probably why they never stayed very long. I’d been alone for a couple of years now, and lately I hadn’t even been looking—mainly because of the distraction sitting at the desk beside me.  
I tried to figure out exactly what it was about him that was so fascinating, but I had no idea, really. He was beautiful in the male sense of the word—not feminine at all—so that wasn’t it. I only knew that every time I’d try to tear my eyes away from him, almost before I realized it, they’d go creeping back in his direction. He was so cute, so hot, so adorable.
I’d never considered men to be adorable—or cute. Babies were adorable. Baby rabbits and puppies were cute, but not you-make-me-want-to-fuck-you cute.
The worst part was the office we shared was so damned small, I couldn’t help bumping into him once in a while. Well, okay, so maybe I was starting to look for ways to do it on purpose, because I sure as hell couldn’t tell him how much I craved his touch. I wanted him naked in my lap while I fondled his cock or leaning back against my chest with my arms around him, his dick in one hand and his balls in the other—in my hands, I mean. He could put his own anywhere he wanted.
Hearing David saying to me, “Man, you are so hot. I’d love to get my hands on you sometime,” would be a dream come true.
Dream on, Kyle. Not gonna happen. No way, no how.
Even that pearl of wisdom didn’t stop me from fantasizing. The trouble was with my penis in fucking mode all the time, I was having difficulty concentrating on anything else. After all, David and I did have work to do, but I couldn’t help wishing maybe someday we could take a break and go suck each other off in the men’s room. Or maybe the women’s room. That would freak them out, wouldn’t it? Then again, some of them might stay to watch us—might even help out a bit. Maybe that hot, leggy blonde who worked down the hall. We could both go down on him together. She could suck his balls while I sucked his cock.
No. That was no good, because I really didn’t want to share him with anyone. I wanted his hot little ass all to myself.
My attraction to him wasn’t only about sex. I really, truly liked him. He was kind, he was funny, and the way he cut through the bullshit was refreshing. He was lovable, warm, and—charming? Is that the right word? I think so—either that or engaging. I had no idea what other people thought of him, but I couldn’t understand why the whole damn world wasn’t as crazy about him as I was.
I toyed with the idea of putting in for a transfer so I wouldn’t have him in my face every day, having to look at him, smell him, hear his voice, listen to the rhythm of his breathing—even the tap of his fingers on the keyboard. Blocking him out was impossible. Besides, I didn’t want him to think I was ignoring him or didn’t like him. The fear of hurting his feelings had kept me quiet so far, and I certainly wasn’t going to mess it up by blabbing about it now. I tried to be a good friend, because I wanted him to think of me kindly, even if I couldn’t hope for more. I spent a good, solid hour at the gym every night trying to work him out of my mind—and I’d still go home to my empty house and jack off thinking about him.
I tried checking out the other men at the gym—believe me, I tried—but they didn’t do a damned thing for me. They never had, and God knows I’d seen plenty of naked jocks in locker rooms through the years. I mean, I normally liked women as much as the next guy, and I still did, so why David? What the hell was wrong with me? Was I gay, straight, bisexual, or confused?
The Friday before Labor Day was long and frustrating. My damned computer kept spitting things back at me, locking up, or shutting down altogether. I’d missed lunch, was starving to death, and the back of my neck felt like it was on fire. I had my fingers on the keyboard and had dropped my head down to stretch my neck in a desperate attempt to get some relief, when I felt his hands on me.  
“Hurts right here, doesn’t it?” he asked as his fingers ran intuitively over the center of my pain.
“Yeah,” I replied, which was about all I could say, because his touch was sending a wave of thrills throughout every fiber of my being. My brain turned to pulp and I couldn’t think of another thing to say. Nothing remarkable or witty, which wasn’t too surprising since I’d never been known for my clever tongue. My post-game interviews were notorious for being composed of one cliché after another.
He didn’t ask if I wanted it, didn’t ask my permission, but began a slow, deep massage of my neck and back, and before long, I was practically in tears with relief, along with a healthy dose of sexual arousal. And then David, my charming, adorable David, had the audacity to say, “You need to loosen up, Kyle. You’re way too tense.”
Understatement of the year.
“No shit. I work out all the time and it doesn’t do any good. What do you suggest? Herbal tea? Meditation?” I knew what I would have liked to suggest, although going down on him at that point was totally out of the question.
“Might help,” he conceded. “But I was thinking more along the lines of going home and having a beer or something.”
“Yeah, well, that couldn’t hurt either. I—what time is it?”
“Quarter ’til five.” His gurgle of laughter brought a warm flush to my face. “We’re almost out of here for the long weekend, buddy. Got any plans?”
“Nope.” This was nothing new. I never seemed to have “plans” anymore. “Just gonna go home and crash, I guess. Although I have plenty of work to do there.” I always had work to do at home. Sometimes I wondered if it wasn’t the only thing keeping me sane. There’s a lot to be said for hammering and drilling and sawing and painting and—
“Want some company?”
“Sure,” I replied before I had the chance to register what he’d meant.
“Got beer?”
“Some.” I shrugged. “Might not be what you’d like, though.” David still had his hands on my neck, and I was almost to the wet rag stage—except for my dick, which was as hard as ever and oozing all over my shorts. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair.
“I’m not particular,” he said. “Any beer will do.”
“We can always get more,” I said, although I knew that getting drunk with David around was a bad idea—a very bad idea. I might end up doing something really stupid, and the devastation I would feel when I saw the horrified look on his face if I’d ever come on to him wouldn’t be worth it. Then again, since it took several beers to get me even the slightest bit tipsy, I could probably risk drinking one or two.
“Think it’ll take that much?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
David shrugged. “To loosen you up.”
“Shit, I don’t know,” I mumbled. “Actually, you’re doing a pretty good job there, David. I don’t think I’ll need any beer if you’ll do more of that when we get to my place.”
“Sure, Kyle,” he replied. “Anything you like.”
I choked back a sob. He couldn’t possibly have known what I wanted—his nonchalant response proved that much—and I’d certainly be the last one to ever tell him. Women usually seem pleased if you act like you’re interested, but this was so different. Guys don’t ever want anyone thinking they’re gay, and they don’t want to attract the interest of anyone who is. I didn’t consider myself to be gay—at least, not in the strictest sense of the word. Like I said before, I didn’t prefer men in general; I only had the hots for David.
“Actually, one beer is plenty for me,” David said. “More than that and I get—well, I’ll tell you about that some other time.”
I couldn’t imagine anything worse than what I was thinking of doing to him, although everyone has their limits. I began to rethink the idea of letting him come over. I should have come up with some excuse, should have lied…
“Aren’t you going to ask me to explain that?” He gave my shoulders a squeeze. “Aren’t you the least bit curious?”
I dropped my head again. Of course I was curious. I wanted to know everything about him, right down to how often he trimmed his fingernails. I wanted to know every detail—from the momentous to the mundane—especially the things no one else would ever know. His deepest secrets, his hopes and dreams, his failings and his strengths. I wanted to know all of those things, but in all honesty, I hardly knew anything about him—including how to reply to what he’d just asked me without saying the wrong thing.
“I figure you’ll tell me when you want to,” I said with what I hoped was an indifferent shrug. “I can’t force you to talk.”
“True.” His fingers trailed over my back, up my neck, and then into my hair, almost as though he’d forgotten what he was doing. “So, what do you say? We spend the weekend crashing at your place?”
The entire Labor Day weekend? How could I possibly get through three days with David in my house?
The answer was quite simple, because if I drank even one beer, he’d probably be gone within moments, owing to the fact that I didn’t think I’d be able to keep my hands off him. Simply being alone with him in my house would probably be enough; I wouldn’t have to take that first sip to be all over him. David had his hands on me already and all I could think of was how much I wanted to turn around, wrap one arm around his hips and unzip his fly with the other hand. Then I’d play with his dick, licking and sucking it until he shot his load. The mere thought sent an involuntary shudder of desire through me.
His hands froze on my back. “Don’t like that idea?”
“N–no, yes,” I stammered. “That’s not what I meant. I think it sounds great. I haven’t done that sort of thing since college.”
“Me, either.” The wistful note in his voice was impossible to miss. “I used to love hanging around the dorm with the guys on weekends, doing whatever we felt like. I miss that.”
I’d have been willing to bet he’d never done any of the things that I was thinking about doing with him while he lived in the dorm. No, the guys he’d hung out with had probably gone out chasing girls all weekend. That’s what I’d done—when I wasn’t studying, or working out, or going to football practice, that is. We all wanted to get laid back then, but we liked being together too. Goofing off and doing stupid stuff.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Those were the days.” Viewed from the perspective of the ripe old age of thirty-six, my college days were on the verge of becoming a distant memory.
“So, can I take that as a yes?”
“Sure,” I replied. “Like I said, it sounds great.”
“Okay, then,” he said with the most exuberance yet. “I’ll run by my place, pick up a few things, and be right over.”
I wrote down my address and told him how to find it. Then I went home and spent the next hour or so trying to convince myself that I wasn’t about to make the biggest mistake of my life.
When I opened the door for him, I couldn’t help staring. He had on an ancient sweatshirt with Whatsamata U and a picture of Bullwinkle the Moose on the front of it. Somewhere along the line he’d cut out the neck and the waistband and chopped the sleeves off just below the elbow. My eyes swept downward, taking in the chinos and flip-flops that completed his ensemble. Carrying some spare clothes stuffed into a grocery bag, a sack full of snacks, and a six-pack of Michelob Lager, he was simply irresistible.
He flashed a warm, ingenuous smile at me, let out an enthusiastic, “Hey, Kyle!” and I fell in love with him all over again. Fighting an overwhelming urge to take him in my arms and kiss him until he melted, I stood back from the door while he breezed on past me, chatting the whole way.
He walked straight into my kitchen as though he’d known exactly where it was. “I didn’t know what you’d like, so I got whatever looked good to me. We can always go shopping for more. Oh, yeah, and this beer is cold.” He plunked it down on the counter. “No time like the present.”
I watched, spellbound, as David pulled out a bottle, twisted off the cap and chugged it down faster than many a college frat boy. Of course, that was essentially what he was—or had been—and not so long ago either, since I guessed him at somewhere in his late twenties. The smile I received after that was even bigger than the first one. Honest to Pete, it was all I could do to keep breathing.
“Haven’t done that for a while.” He chuckled. “And you can’t make me leave now, ’cause I’d be too drunk to drive.”
Clearing my throat, I asked in a voice that sounded a lot like it had when I was going through puberty, “Why would I make you leave?” Now that he was there, I toyed with the idea of locking the door and swallowing the damned key so he couldn’t get away.
He gave me a mischievous smile. “Well, I did warn you about what I’d do after one beer.”
“No, you didn’t,” I said. “You told me you’d tell me later.”
“Oh, yes, I guess I did.”
After a long, silent moment, I finally asked, “Well, are you?”
“Going to tell me?”
“In a minute,” he replied. “It hasn’t had time to hit me yet.”
I let out a long groan. “Oh, please don’t tell me you’re a mean drunk. I can’t stand that shit.”
He pitched the bottle into the trash can. “Me, either. Nasty drunks are the pits. And, no, I don’t get mean.”
I stood there staring at him, waiting for him to go on, or get drunk enough to tell me, or something. When he didn’t, I shrugged and picked up the shopping bag and opened it. Chips, hot dogs and buns, summer sausage, pretzels and—my personal favorite—Cheez-Its. The BIG ones, and a can of sharp cheddar Easy Cheese to go with them. I came within a heartbeat of asking him to marry me right then and there. He’d even gotten the right kind of beer.
“Everything okay?” He peered into the bag. “Like I said, I wasn’t sure what you might like.”
He was so close, the scent of him filled my head, sending it spinning off to God knew where. Somehow, I managed to speak. “No, you did great. All the right stuff.”
His shoulders dropped in apparent relief as he pulled another beer from the carton, twisted off the cap, and handed it to me. “You need to get started. I don’t like to drink alone.” He cleared his throat and continued in a much deeper tone, “Never drink alone, Kyle. Someone always finds out and it ruins your reputation.” Obviously noting my blank expression, he said, “Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind—with a few modifications. Haven’t you ever seen that movie?”
“No,” I replied. “I guess I should, though.”
“It has everything in it you need to know—or quote. The only movie that’s got more quotable lines is The Godfather, except I don’t like that one. Too violent. Of course, my personal favorite for quotes is The Frisco Kid. Not as universally recognized, but loads of fun.” His voice changed again, switching to something sort of Yiddish. “So, wha’do ya say we go out an’ have a little fun?” In his normal voice, he added, “Not a direct quote, of course, but close.”
I was still staring at him, completely and utterly fascinated as he moved briskly about my kitchen, making himself right at home as he stowed all the things he’d brought either in the fridge or the cabinets.
“Hey, aren’t you going to drink that?” He gestured toward my bottle of Michelob. “Come on now, Kyle. Drink it all down. You’ve got some catching up to do. We’re gonna have fun, remember?”
I felt like I’d been dropped into an episode of The Twilight Zone. Even though I’d worked side by side with him for a good while now, this was an aspect of his personality I’d never known existed, and I liked it—a lot. If he’d been actively trying to make me fall for him, he couldn’t have adopted a better strategy.
Then a terrifying thought struck me. He wouldn’t get nasty the more he drank; he would simply become more and more adorable. Would I be able to stand it? I was about to blurt out something—I have no idea what—when he started giggling.
“Oh, here it comes,” he announced. “The hot flash.”
And with that, as I stood there watching him with my eyes practically popping out of their sockets, he pulled off his sweatshirt, laid it across the back of a kitchen chair, kicked off his flip-flops, and had his pants around his feet in less time than it takes to tell it. For a moment, I was convinced that my daydreams had taken on a life of their own.
“Hope you don’t mind,” he said, “but after one beer, I get hot and have to take off all my clothes.” I couldn’t imagine what else he might need to add to that, but, unbelievably, he went on. “After two beers, I’ll be sucking your cock, and after three”—he stopped there and gave me a huge grin—“I’ll be down on my hands and knees begging you to fuck me in the ass.”
I blinked and glanced down at the bottle in my hand. I couldn’t possibly have taken more than a couple of swallows so there was no way I was intoxicated enough to hallucinate. I had to be insane. I stole another peek at him, and David, my adorable David, was standing before me with the most stunning hard-on this world has ever seen, and he’d just said… “What?”
He tossed me another grin before repeating his words slowly and distinctly, “One beer: naked. Two beers: sucking your cock. Three beers: begging you to fuck my ass.” He paused a second or two before adding with a sweeping gesture that encompassed his entire, gorgeous self, “You get all this, and HIV negative. Guaranteed.”
Without hesitation, I held out my beer. “Drink up.”

For buy links and other info, visit my website.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

It's nearly February...

Holy cow... I finally discovered how to get Blogger to let me comment on my own blog. Had to Google it to find out how. So if you're having the same problem, this is how to fix it. See that little shield up there next to the padlock on the https thing? You have to click on it and then grant permissions for a site so you can comment. I've had to undo it and redo it more than once. Maybe it's a Firefox thing, or maybe it's my Bitdefender security, but it's kind of annoying. This is probably old news to a lot of people, but I wasn't blogging much when this update happened, which is partly why I never really started posting again.

I just sent out a newsletter announcing the pre-orders for Out of Bounds. Got a few clicks, one pre-order and several unsubscribes. Those unsubscribes are the main reason I don't send newsletters very often. I know most of the unsubscribes come from people who signed up in order to qualify during a giveaway and really don't have any interest in what's happening with me or any books I might have written, but it's still depressing to think that the only response my newsletters get is to say that they're unwanted. The last newsletter I sent was for Maverick's release, which was in September of 2018--I didn't bother to send out a newsletter for Mystic's release--so no one can say I've been spamming them. Although the test emails I sent to myself wound up in my spam folder, which possibly means I've been spamming myself.

Maybe this writer thing is getting too be too much for an old woman. I'm 64 now, the thought of which makes the Beatles' "When I'm 64" start playing in my head. I don't mind that so much, because I've always liked that song, but it makes me think about the differences between what I enjoy now and what I've enjoyed in the past. Right now, I just want to make things, and it doesn't seem to matter whether they're things to eat, read, or use. I've been making soap for a while, but lately I've been making various skincare concoctions, most of which I wouldn't need if I wasn't 64. My skin has lost much of its elasticity, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm losing hair faster than I can regrow it. As a result, I've been spending more time scrolling through Pinterest looking for recipes and diy stuff than I do writing romance novels.

All of this adds up to a case of the wintertime blues, which is why I believe Valentine's Day was deemed necessary. By the time March rolls around, you know spring is getting close, but in February, the only sign of spring will be that my one remaining horse, Jadzia, (Kes died in December *sniff*) will start shedding. In fact, here in the final days of January, she's already started, just as I have started making Valentine's soap.

I guess there's hope for us yet.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Where have I been????

Oh, my...
It's been a long, damn time since I posted a blog here. So long, in fact, that I doubt if anyone will even see this. 

2019 wasn't the best year of my life. Last Christmas, I started having stomach trouble and was diagnosed with gastritis. I had an EGD for that, and then a CT scan and all sorts of other tests after blood showed up in my urine, for which no cause was ever found. To treat the gastritis, I was told not to eat spicy food, chocolate, caffeine, or acidic foods, which, as you know, are many of the things that make life worth living. I was also instructed to take sucralafate 1 hour before meals, which is kinda tricky, especially on those days when I had no idea exactly when my next meal would be. I got a little better, but the problem never really went away. Most days I felt tired and nauseated, and the very last thing I felt like doing was sitting down at my computer to write. I read a lot, but tended to fall asleep in my recliner on most afternoons.

At the RWA conference in NYC this past July, I received some motivation and encouragement from my writer pals to work on an old manuscript since I couldn't seem to finish a new one. I pulled out the file for Out of Bounds, an MMF romance I'd written several years ago. At the time, it was a departure for me to write a menage, but it was also written in first person from the point of view of an ex pro quarterback. I had a lot of fun writing it, but because Sourcebooks wasn't quite ready to publish an MMF romance, it's been languishing in my files ever since. When I started working on it, I discovered that even if I couldn't write anything new, I could at least edit what I'd already written. I gave it a good polish and sent it through a round of edits from my team of excellent critique partners.

Then, on a follow up visit a couple of months ago, my doctor decided that since I was still having periodic episodes of stomach trouble, I likely had gastroparesis from being diabetic for roughly ten years, rather than gastritis. Basically, the vagus nerve, which does a lot of other important stuff, is responsible for telling the stomach when to empty, and with gastroparesis, it occasionally forgets to do its job, and anything I've eaten just sits there, causing an assortment of symptoms. He told me to wean off the sucralafate and eat small frequent meals. It's taken a while, but the stomach thing finally settled down to the point that I didn't feel queasy anymore, although I was still tired all the time and more than a little depressed.

After a bit of research, I discovered that the metformin I've been taking for years to control my diabetes was probably the cause of my mental fog. Without a small dose of caffeine in the morning, I didn't feel like doing anything, and even though metformin is reputed to increase life expectancy, the thought of living another twenty years in a fog wasn't terribly appealing. Then about a week ago, I decided my stomach could probably handle a fourth of a caffeine pill, and, surprise, surprise, my brain started working again. I finished the formatting and uploading and tweaking of Out of Bounds today, and hit the publish button on all the usual sites.

Out of Bounds will be released on February 4, 2020, which would have been my mother's 90th birthday had she not died from lung cancer at the age of 47. I doubt that the subject matter would've been a favorite with her, but it seemed fitting, somehow. It's already available for preorder from Amazon. B&N says it's ready, but as I write this, the link they sent me doesn't work. Maybe by tomorrow.

Anyway, here's a little bit about the book...

"Captivating! Prepare to read in one sitting." --TC Winters

He fell for another man.
Then he met the perfect woman...

After a career-ending injury, ex-quarterback Kyle Sorenson finds himself crammed into a tiny office with the adorable David Adams. Falling for another man is a first for Kyle, and he is determined to hide his feelings until David makes a play for him.

With David as his partner, Kyle is happier than he's ever been-until Linda Nelson comes on the scene. Once again, Kyle resolves to deny the attraction, but David insists that the three of them can have it all.

Happiness is almost within reach when unforeseen events threaten to destroy everything. Now the men must prove to Linda that taking on two husbands won't be the biggest mistake of her life.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Mystic Launch!

Mystic may be the second book in the Cat Star Legacy series (the twelfth in the Cat Star Chronicles world), but it marks the first to have a guy on the cover who actually looks like an alien! Granted, he doesn't have the long spiral curls of the typical Zetithian, but check out the cat-like eyes and pointed ears!

Not only that, it's also the first of my books to get a reasonably good review from Publishers Weekly. (Read the full review here).

I've been having some health issues lately, so perhaps I haven't been as enthusiastic about this release as I have been with other books, but the release of a new book is still a big deal, and spotting your book in Barnes & Noble or Walmart is pretty damn cool. I recall getting a bit weak in the knees when I first found Slave (Cat Star Chronicles #1) in my local B&N. That doesn't happen anymore, and although Mystic could end up being my last published book (I'm working on a third in the series, but it's nowhere near ready to send to an editor), I believe it's one of my best.

Anthropologist Sulaksha Enduran is still reeling from the death of her lover, who died as they studied the primitive inhabitants of a newly discovered planet. Sula is determined to find answers on her own—until an impossibly sexy Zetithian saves her life and joins her quest.

Despite the prescient abilities and power over the wind that enable Zetithian mystic Aidan Banadänsk to rescue the human woman from certain death, he couldn’t predict Sula’s unique effect on him. It shrouds her future in mystery…and fills him with unparalleled desire.

But Sula’s investigation has put her in the crosshairs of a deadly conspiracy. With an entire planet’s population at stake, Sula and Aidan must risk it all to save the planet, the galaxy…and each other…

Chapter 1

    In a vision, Aidan had watched her fall, disappearing through a fissure in the rock as the ground gave way beneath her, her screams reverberating through his mind like the tumbling roar of an avalanche.
    Although most people would’ve dismissed it as a dream, he knew the terrifying vision for what it was: a portent of a future event, which was not uncommon among his kind. Therefore, she hadn’t fallen—yet. The trouble was he didn’t know whether he was supposed to prevent the accident or rescue her after she fell.
    He’d spent the last week flying over the cliffs, his keen eyes searching the jumbled boulders for any sign that she’d ever been there. Thus far, he’d found nothing. No trace of any life aside from the cliff-dwelling condors and the assorted rodents that were widespread in the remote mountains of Rhylos.
    But the vision… He’d seen it four times now. This was the right place. He was certain of it. More certain, perhaps, than he’d ever been of anything.
    He skimmed over the plateau before swooping down over the edge of the cliffs—jagged rock fit only as a nesting place for the huge condors, which had been named for an extinct Terran species. Some said they looked similar, and, having seen pictures, he agreed. However, these birds were even larger than the original condors had been, and they defended their nests with a ferocity few avian species could match.
    His vision had been maddeningly vague. He should’ve at least known why she was there. Was she studying the condors? Or was she simply trying to find their nests in order to steal the eggs? He couldn’t think of any other reasons why anyone would venture so far from civilization to this, one of the few uninhabited regions of the planet. Neither of those reasons seemed important enough to warrant a vision. Visions came when they wished; he had no control over their timing or their topics. The only thing he could control was the wind, enabling him to don a pair of wings and create updrafts strong enough to carry him aloft.
    Only Valkyrie, the Avian clone, knew of his flights. Val would’ve hidden his own talent if he’d been able to remove his wings, but his were as much a part of him as his other limbs. No genetic manipulations could undo what had already been done to him.
    As Aidan flew back up the cliff face, a flash of light on the plateau caught his eye—the effect of sunlight on metal. Something was moving down there. Something he’d only seen because of his vantage point high in the sky.
    And there she is…
    How he’d missed her before he couldn’t imagine, especially on the open mountainside, unless it wasn’t quite as open as it appeared. As she climbed up the edge of the plateau as though ascending a staircase, the air crackled around him like a thousand tiny lightning bolts. The moment had come.
    He flew lower, hovering effortlessly, letting the wind do the work while he studied her approach. A backpack and other accoutrements were strapped to her upper body. Everything she wore—from her wide-brimmed hat, leather jacket, and khaki trousers, down to a pair of dusty boots suitable for climbing—was the same color as the rocks, causing her to blend in with her surroundings in a manner that seemed strangely covert.
    A visual sweep of the plain revealed no speeder or other conveyance nearby. Had she hiked into the wilderness?
    When she looked up, his eyes met hers—huge, expressive, and brown—with an impact that nearly caused him to fall out of the sky.
    In the split second before he shouted a warning, she slipped from view, leaving nothing behind beyond a puff of dust that feathered away to nothingness even as he plummeted toward her, his heart pounding like a drum. He chastised himself as he flew; he’d assumed he was there to save her when, in all probability, he’d actually been the cause of her misstep.
    A condor’s harsh cry made him alter his route from the plateau where she’d disappeared down to the opening in the cliff face and the cavern into which she had undoubtedly fallen. He soared through the opening just as he’d seen the condors do. Unfortunately, he’d only come prepared to rescue her, carrying a knife, a length of rope, a sling made of leather straps and carabiners, and a comlink. He hadn’t counted on having to get past an angry condor with murderous talons and a razor-sharp beak.
    Correction. Make that two condors and a nest full of eggs. At least he assumed there were eggs in the nest. He couldn’t see for sure, although given the female’s protective stance, he deemed it a safe bet. “Son of a bitch.”
    Fortunately, the female seemed disinclined to move from her position on the nest. The male, however, was already advancing on the woman’s crumpled body. Against the far wall of the cave below the crack in the plateau, she lay unmoving amid the rubble that had fallen with her. A soft moan told him she still lived.
    No doubt the condor, which was easily twice her size, intended to change that.
    Focusing his attention on the huge bird, he created a gust of wind with a sweep of his arm, sending the condor fluttering to the side of the cave where his nest and mate were situated between two upright slabs of rock.
    Undaunted and angrier than ever, the condor hissed and began stalking toward him. Aidan really didn’t like the idea of killing or even injuring the bird, but he might not have a choice. Taking advantage of the bird’s position, which was now between him and the mouth of the cave, he created another gust that sent the bird flapping out into the open air.
    One glance was enough to inform him that this woman was quite small. Val could’ve carried her easily. Never having flown with more than his own weight, Aidan wasn’t sure he was up to the task. His own physical strength wasn’t the only factor. The wings and their harness were sturdy but not unbreakable. Not for the first time, he wished his wings were a part of him the way Val’s were, although when it came to sitting and sleeping, wings large enough to enable a man to fly tended to get in the way.
    Upon reaching her side, he recoiled immediately when he spotted what he took to be a snake but was actually a leather bullwhip.
    He almost laughed aloud. “Who do you think you are? Indiana Jones?”
    Upon closer inspection, her outfit was exactly the same as that worn by the fictional archaeologist. For trekking through the mountains, such garb was quite practical, although the resemblance to “Indy” ended there. She was small and undeniably female, with shiny black hair that had been braided back from her face and pinned into a twisted knot at her nape. His gaze swept over her exotically beautiful face, taking in the rich brown of her skin, the fullness of her lips, and the lovely arch of her brows.
    “No,” she murmured. “I am Sula.” Her eyelids fluttered, and she let out a gasp. “Are you an angel, come to take me to Raj?”
    Given his feathered wings and long, golden curls, her assumption was reasonable enough, although not many people believed in angels anymore.
    “Hadn’t planned on it,” he replied. “Who’s Raj?”
An angel wouldn’t have asked who Raj was. An angel would’ve known.
    Then again, he hadn’t said whether he was an angel. He’d only claimed he wasn’t planning to take her to Raj.
    Pain soon expunged any doubts from Sula’s mind. Had she been on her way to the afterlife prior to being reincarnated into another form, she doubted the body of her current life would’ve troubled her quite so much. Therefore, he was no angel—certainly not like any angel she’d ever heard about.
    Nor was he like any living being she’d ever seen. A man with pointed ears, feline eyes, and enormous wings? Unless the wings weren’t real. They’d certainly looked real when he’d been sailing through the sky above her. Plenty of black and gray white-tipped feathers, arranged row upon row like those of a bird. Or was she confusing him with the birds in the cave? In the short time before she’d passed out, she’d seen drawings of them on the cave wall, being hunted by primitive humanoids. She’d finally found the evidence she’d been searching for.
    The question was, could she ever find it again?
    The warm sunshine beating down on her face was proof enough that she was no longer in the cave. She wasn’t lying in a pile of stones, either. The ground beneath her was relatively soft, and a gentle breeze carried the fragrance of fresh, green grass to her nose—a smell quite unlike the dank odor peculiar to caves, particularly those inhabited by birds.
    Her leg still pained her, although she could tell that it was at least lying straight. The initial shock of the break that had brought on her fainting spell had passed. She was thirsty, almost to the point that her tongue seemed cemented to the roof of her mouth. An attempt to moisten her lips failed.
    Within moments, a hand slipped behind her head, and a cup was held to her lips. As the cool water soothed her parched mouth, she recalled doing the same for Raj in the last hours of his life.
    Dear, sweet Raj. So intelligent, such a promising student, and the one man she would never forget. The love of her life—or rather, the lost love of her life—and she’d had to watch him die.
    She’d been helpless to prevent his death or even ease his suffering. The aftereffects of the disease were nearly as bad. Within hours, even his body was gone; nothing remained of him aside from the clothes he’d been wearing and a pile of dust that was soon scattered by the wind.
    Surrounded by an eerie silence, she’d returned to their ship. Purely out of habit, she’d gone through the decontamination process. The scanner proclaimed her to be free of disease, although she hadn’t been sure she could trust even that. She and Raj had gone through a similar process prior to their departure, and yet Raj had been among the first to fall ill. They’d had minimal contact with the natives, observing rather than interacting with them directly. Granted, they’d barely begun their study before Raj began to feel sick, but on the whole, the natives had seemed industrious and intelligent and appeared to live together in relative harmony. Rather strange in appearance, perhaps, but that was to be expected.
    Not nearly as strange as her rescuer. Despite being somewhat afraid to take another look, she opened her eyes a teensy bit.
    The wings were gone.
    So they weren’t real after all.
    The long golden curls remained, as did the peculiar eyes. Rather than the usual dark, round pupils, his were vertical slits that emitted a soft, golden glow. His ears came to a point like those of a storybook elf, and a pair of straight brows slanted up toward his temples.
    “Glad you’re awake,” he said. Then he smiled, revealing his sharp fangs.
    A scream had nearly left her throat when she remembered something from her studies that caused her to gasp instead—a textbook description of a nearly extinct species of feline humanoids.
    “You’re Zetithian.”   

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