2018 releases

Hell's Bell
Scent of the Jaguar
His Outback Nanny
The Queen's Game
366 Days of Flash Fiction
On the Horizon: Simple worlds of speculative adventure
Lusting the Enemy

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

DarkSider News for November!

Welcome!



NEW RELEASES


Twisted: Tango by Kim Cleary is part of the fairytale box set, Twisted Fairy Tales.
Nine paranormal romance tales take you to a magical world and leave you aching for more. 

Nine Melbourne authors bring you nine childhood fairytales, all with a sexy twist, a whole lot of love and angst thrown in. All stories are original and never before published, exclusive to this box-set. 

Queen of the Wolves: By Tamsin Baker. Based on Little Red Riding Hood. 

Twisted Tango: By Kim Cleary. Inspired by Rapunzel. 

Caught In: By Andra Ashe. Loosely based on The Little Mermaid and Selkie folklore 

Night of the Dragon: By Rita. H. Azar. Inspired by the tale of 'One thousand and one nights' 

Seductive Song: By Elvina Payet. Based on Siren Mythology and The Little Mermaid. 

Natural Awakening: By Sandra Carmel. Loosely based on Sleeping Beauty. 

Gold Touch: By Jess Devine. Based on the 'Midas Touch.' 

If the Shoe Fits: By Savannah Blaize. Inspired by Cinderella. 

Aladina: By Charmaine ross. Based on Alladin. 

All nine stories have sexy and romantic scenes that are recommended for adult audiences. 
Be swept away to worlds where the hero and heroine always find their happily ever after. 


Available from:




The Four Horsemen: Sinister and Tricked by LJ Swallow is part of The Halloween Episodes of The Four Horseman series and was released 27 October 2018.





Two Halloween episodes from the Four Horsemen series world bundled into one book.

SINISTER

The Four Horsemen and Vee prefer to keep away from the local village residents, but they’ve attracted unwanted attention from more the one

A group of teens from the village with a vendetta against Xander.
Amelie, the woman with an intense interest in the guys.
And Cinder, the strange black cat who has adopted Vee.

The Four Horsemen: Sinister is a special, standalone Halloween episode. This novella has a mystery to solve, a touch of horror, plus some time for fun and romance for Vee and her boys.

Also includes TRICKED (Halloween 2017 episode)


Available from:





Non spec-fic titles

Outback Hearts: Australian Romance is a box set which features  DarkSiders, Annie Seaton and S.E. Gilchrist.




Her Outback Playboy - Annie Seaton
Jenni McDougal’s family have worked hard to build their fishing and charter business in the remote coastal outback town of Second Chance Bay. Jake Jones, her childhood sweetheart, was once the poor boy from the wrong side of town. Jake knows that Jenni will always see him as a playboy, and can’t trust him, and his self confidence disappears when the town judges him on his past. Every time he tries to help her family business, she sees an ulterior motive. If Jenni can't trust him, what is there to keep Jake in Second Chance Bay? But can he leave the woman he loves a second time? 

The Cowboy's Gift - SE Gilchrist
Rosie Turner is done with denying her dreams and good-looking men who make her knees weak. To pay-off her two-timing ex-husband’s debts, she’ll sell Blackbird Tor, and set up a B&B to give her and her little boy financial independence.

Luke Williams is resolved to turn heavily mortgaged Flat Rock Station into a thriving property and bring a spark of life back into his dad’s tired eyes. But his options are limited. When Rosie and her son catapult into their lives, Luke’s father reveals the rumour of a rich opal seam located somewhere on Blackbird Tor. Problem is, Rosie and Luke aren’t the only ones desperate to find that seam.



Available from:






PRE-ORDER


Daniel de Lorne and TJ Nichols will be part of DreamSpinner Press's 2018 Advent Anthology Delivery Package.  




Celebrating the end-of-year holidays doesn't always mean sleighs, snow, and snuggling to ward off the cold. How about making merry when it's just as warm (or hot) outside as inside romantic hearts? Twinkle lights in palm trees, unity cups on the sideboard, bonfires in the backyard, eggnog by the pool, and no chimneys to be found... just the warmest wishes of the holidays bringing lovers together around the world.

A huge part of the world celebrates end-of-the-year holidays that aren't anything like Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." In the southern hemisphere, it's not even winter!

Holiday reading fun! A story delivered automatically to your bookshelf each day in December. More than 400,000 words of romantic fiction in 31 stories that would sell individually for a total of $89.69. Buy the package early and save:

November - $49.99

*Sale of packages for daily delivery ends Nov. 25.

Beginning December 1, stories will be available individually as priced or as a bulk package for $89.69.


Pre-order from:


Daniel's contribution to the advent anthology is The Faller.



Being caught with another man sends Charlie Young fleeing his family to the forests of southwestern Australia to scrape together steamer-passage to the big smoke of London. But life as a timber faller isn’t easy and it’s made worse when the men he works with are brash, bigoted, and often brutal. All except Jack Tapper, who’s the kind of gentle giant that sets Charlie’s heart racing.

While the other men head into town for Christmas, it’s just Charlie and Jack and acres of forest. But trees tell no tales and a few days alone is the perfect opportunity to indulge a bourgeoning passion. When the men return and find things not as they once were, Charlie and Jack have to make the hard decisions about whether to stay where they are or run for their lives.



Binding Blood by Daniel de Lorne is Book 3 the Bonds of Blood series. It is expected for release by Escape Publishing on 20 December.




The groundbreaking romantic horror trilogy, Bonds of Blood, comes to a thrilling conclusion with a story of loss, grief, and redemption.
Monsters don’t get to be heroes…


Betrayed by his brother and imprisoned in his sister’s dungeon, Olivier d’Arjou isn’t about to let a few chains get in his way. A vampire for six hundred years and a plague on his family for longer, he has no reason to hold back from wiping out the last of his family members and anyone who gets in his way. But first, he’ll need to break free.


When Oberon North, witch and survivor of one of Olivier’s most heinous crimes, comes seeking vengeance, it should be child’s play to bend the witch to his will. But Oberon comes with more power and resilience than Olivier expects and forces him to confront truths he’d rather avoid.


But Olivier’s inner conflict must take a backseat when he learns of his sister Aurelia’s plan to save the world from the demon Xadrak. A battle generations in the making, to succeed requires the ultimate sacrifice from both Olivier and his brother Thierry – and the last chance Olivier has to reclaim his humanity and a future he never thought possible.



Pre-order from:




The Four Horsemen: Bright
 by LJ Swallow is a Christmas Episode of The Four Horseman series and was released 3 December 2018.



The Four Horsemen face Christmas, and the holiday season is a greater challenge than they expected. The parties are hell, the traditions confusing, and the angel they encounter isn’t the one Vee places on top of their Christmas tree.


Do you want to know what happens to the Four Horsemen and Vee after Reckoning? Their story continues in Bright, a Christmas themed book set in The Four Horsemen series world. Bright is the first in a new series of occasional episodes, which explore the fives' new future, new challenges, and their deeper connections as a group.

The events in Bright take place shortly after the end of Reckoning. The original series must be read first


Pre-order from:






Non spec-fic titles


Not So Happily Ever After by Christina Phillips (Book 3 of British Bad Boys series) is expected to be released by Entangled Publishing on 19 November 2018.





Two years ago, I accidentally, yeah maybe on purpose, crossed that line with my best friend and it ruined everything. I haven't seen him much since.

But now he’s standing at my door.

Same lumberjack build. Same dark hair that begs my fingers to run through it. And then he gives me that half smile, and I know I’m about to agree to do something I’m going to regret.

I’ve got to spend two months with him now… and that’s not the worst part.

Each book in the British Bad Boys series is STANDALONE:
* Cinderella and the Geek
* Once Upon A Player
* Not So Happily Ever After


Pre-order from:
Amazon US | Amazon Aus |  iBooks | Kobo | B&N |






COVER REVEAL


Dragon Wine (the complete series) by Donna Maree Hanson will be released on iBooks and Kobo.







Non spec-fic titles


What Were You Thinking Paige Taylor by Amanda Ashby is expected to be released by Entangled Publishing on 12 November.





After her carefully ordered world imploded, Paige Taylor cracks up. On her tenth self-help book, it seemed like a good idea at the time to reinvent herself––move from Manhattan to the tiny beachside town of St. Clair––and take over the local bookstore. 

But instead of discovering her spiritual Nirvana, she’s neck-deep in a floundering business, the locals treat her like a plague victim, and her mom’s suddenly decided to visit––with no end in sight––and keeps coming home with one surprise after the next. 

Added to that pot of crazy, the one guy who sets her pulse racing has sworn off women forever. He’s got a Samsonite filled with baggage, but damn he looks good hauling it down the street. And giving her those sexy half-smiles. And tempting her to take him for a test ride.

Soon Paige discovers that reinventing herself takes more than just a change of address and a pithy quote on Instagram. She needs to face the truth about her life, and that’s something she can’t do alone.




Mission: Her Security by Anna Hackett is Book 3 of the Team 52 series expected to be released on 13 November.




Hero: Former Navy SEAL and mountain man, Smith Creed
Heroine: Team 52 Las Vegas logistics manager Kinsey Beck
Artifact: Classified




BLURB


Unforsaken by Cassie Laelyn is Book 1 of The Fallen Guardians series.


One choice: Save his soul... or her life?

​Hidden deep in the Snowy Mountains, lives a brotherhood of immortal Guardians, banished from the Heavens.

After centuries of exile, Head Guardian Raven can taste Hell. One wrong move could destroy his soul. When Fate assigns him a female mortal to protect, his forbidden desire becomes a distraction he can't afford. Giving in to temptation risks plummeting into the fiery pits of Hell, dragging her along with him.

Tayla Eason is on the run, escaping a horrific attack on her life. When she lands in the arms of the sexy, alluring man who saved her, the shadows of her past swiftly close in. But when Fate throws a twist, Tayla's forced to choose between saving Raven's soul or fleeing before the creatures strike again.

In an ultimate test of love, the two must battle against the almighty Fate. But will it be enough to save them both?




EVENT



Bernadette Rowley will be at SupaNova Brisbane on the 9-11 November. 







BOOK TRAILER


Daniel de Lorne has a book trailer for his Bonds of Blood series.






Congratulations to all our DarkSiders!

Thanks for sharing in our news. Until next time....

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Darklight On ... Anna Hackett

Today's Darklight On is ... Anna Hackett

Welcome, Anna




How do you write so fast? 

I get asked this question quite a bit. I’m a prolific writer, and since I’ve been writing full-time, I’ve published a lot of books. It’s my job and I love it. 

But…I wasn’t born a fast writer. I had to work up to it and fine tune my process. I also don’t think of myself as a fast writer, but rather, a productive writer. If you think I sit at my laptop all day, you’d be wrong. A little bit every day really does add up. 

So, if you’ve been wanting to write a little faster, or get a bit more writing done each day, or just finish the darn book, here are a few of my tips for writing faster, better, smarter, and more productively. 

#1 Write what you love 

If you think you’ll get yourself to sit down every day and write lots of words while working on something that you don’t love, you’ll probably be making a hard path for yourself. You might be able to write a book or two, but the dreaded burn out will no doubt rear its head. Every book I write is packed full of the things I love: high-octane action, adventure, sexy romance, strong heroes, smart heroines, and often a whole lot of science fiction, sometimes a dash of ancient history and some treasure hunting. Don’t get me wrong, some days the words don’t flow and the writing feels tough, but there is never any doubt that I’m writing exactly what I love and that my story excites me. 

#2 Plotting 

Okay, so all authors know the old plotter versus pantser argument. Mention plotting, and some authors break out in a cold sweat. Mention sitting down at a blank page without a plan, and other authors will start to itch. I’m firmly in the middle – I do plot, but not exhaustively, and I give myself permission to go off map if that’s where my story takes me. For me, having at least a rough mud map of my story and the major turning points is vital to helping me write faster and be more productive. 

Another part to plotting is what I call scene notes. There is the big picture outline, but there are also the notes for each individual scene I am just about to write. These could be a few bullet points or for me, usually handwritten in my notebook, stream of consciousness-type notes (mine are generally a mess – sometimes sentences, or words, or notes about the action, maybe a bit of dialogue). All you need is a rough idea of what the high notes of your scene will be. 

#3 Writing Time 

Work out when your best writing time is. I’ve always been a night owl and was sure I wrote better at night, but then I experimented. Turns out, my most productive writing time is first thing in the morning. I sometimes (with a lot of grumbling) get up early to write, but mostly I write in the mornings after my kids are at school. Most days, I’m finished by lunch time. We get bombarded with a lot of stuff, jobs, and decisions during the day, so I find being creative at night difficult. BUT you need to experiment for yourself and find your most productive times. 

It is also important to be consistent. Some people write every day. Others write on the weekends. Whatever fits your schedule, find your writing time, block it out, and protect it. At that time, always sit down and write. 

#4 Build the Habit 

This one leads on from #3. It is so helpful to build a habit around your writing so when you sit down, your brain slides into writing mode as easily as possible. If you can write at the same time every day, that clearly helps build the habit. But if that isn’t always possible, there are other things and rituals you can do. For me, I usually drop my boys at school and head to the coffee shop. I always sit at the same table, facing the same direction and get the same pot of Earl Grey tea. I open my notebook or laptop and get to work. Some authors like to listen to music, some like to set a timer, some light a candle. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make it your habit. You then need to do it for a week or two to let the habit set. Once it does, it can make your writing so much easier and more productive. 

#5 The One Thing and eating the frog 

Apparently, Mark Twain once said “If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning.” Whatever the hardest or most important thing is to get done each day, get it done first. And there is a great book I love called The One Thing (by Keller and Papasan) -- what's the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? 

For me, it is always my writing. I get it done as soon as I can, and if it is done everything else (emails, cover art, editing, responding to reader messages) falls into place. Later in the day when my brain is fried, I can respond to emails or proof listen to audio samples, or ponder the cover for my next book. Get your One Thing done first, eat that frog, then you can worry about all the other writing-related things you need to do.

~~~ 

Anna is a USA Today bestselling author who's passionate about action romance. She loves stories that combine the thrill of falling in love with the excitement of action, danger and adventure. She writes about people overcoming unbeatable odds and achieving seemingly impossible goals. She likes to believe it’s possible for all of us to do the same. Anna’s bestselling series include Galactic Gladiators, Team 52, Treasure Hunter Security, and Hell Squad. 

For more info on Anna and her action romances, visit her website: www.annahackettbooks.com

Anna’s latest release is the high-octane romantic suspense, Mission: Her Rescue, the second book in the series Team 52.

Thank you, Anna

~~~

Mission: Her Rescue 

When archeologist January’s plane is shot down over the Guatemalan jungle, she knows she’s being hunted for the invaluable Mayan artifacts she’s carrying. Only one man and his team can save her…the covert, black ops Team 52, and the distrusting former CIA operative who drives her crazy…

Dr. January James has a motto: live life to the fullest. A terrible incident in her past, where she lost both her mother and her innocence, taught her that. Now she spends her days on archeological digs doing the work she loves. When her team uncovers a pair of dangerous artifacts in an overgrown temple, she knows they need to be secured and safeguarded. But someone else knows about the artifacts…and will kill to get them.

Working for the CIA, Seth Lynch learned the hard way that people lie and will always stab you in the back. He has the scars to prove it. He lives for his work with Team 52—ensuring pieces of powerful ancient technology don’t fall into the wrong hands. When he learns that the feisty, independent archeologist who works his last nerve has died in a plane crash, he makes it his mission to discover who the hell is responsible.

Deep in the jungle, Seth rescues a very-much alive January and it is up to him to keep both her and the artifacts safe. Hunted from every side, their attraction is explosive and fiery, but with January’s life on the line, Seth must fight his own demons in order to rescue the woman he can no longer resist.

Buy Links:  Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon AU / Amazon Other

Connect with the Author: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Action Romance

Grab the first in my series free: Hell Squad: Marcus





Tuesday, 23 October 2018

DarkSiders Around the Web for October - Part 3

Join us as we whizz around the web...



On Sale


Forbidden (Book 1 of The Druid Chronicles) by Christina Phillips is FREE for a limited time only.










TJ Nichols is now on Instgram.







Blog Posts




















C.M. also has has the first 100 words from:











JL Peridot shares a Fresh Find.


















Keri Arthur features 2019 release Demon's Dance in her Six Sentence Sunday.

















M.L. Tompsett was interviewed over at BookBabyz



















Nicole Hurley-Moore talks This and That.























Lana Pecherczyk has done some artwork for fellow DarkSider, Anna Hackett for her Team 52 series. 












Thanks for joining us. 
Until next time, happy reading!




Tuesday, 16 October 2018

DarkSiders Around the Web for October: Part 2



Welcome!


On Sale


Under the Hood (Book 2 of Under the Law series) by Juanita Kees is on sale for a limited time only.









Giveaway

Lilliana Rose is part of October BookBub Gift Card Extravaganza Giveaway. You need to be a member of BookBub to enter.







Kindle Unlimited

Mary Brock Jones has The Hathe series in its last days on Kindle Unlimited. For your chance to read on this service, read by the 19th October (US time) before it becomes available again on other platforms.


  






Blog Posts



Eleni Konstantine  posts her reading for September.












C.M. Simpson has a September 2018 Overviewtalks October Goals, shares some poetry, talks about writing short stories.


C.M. also has has the first 100 words from:
- Harper and the Unicorn
- The Songster and the Pirates








C.M. has been busy with her fellow authors  The Expanding Universe, Volume 4 anthology.

Here's sneak peaks from Yudhanjaya Wijeratne & R.R. Virdi, Kevin McLaughlin, C.M. Simpson,









Mary Brock Jones has a review of Aftermath (Book 3 of the Hathe series) on Whiskey with My Book.


Mary also tells of how she finds books to read.












Anna Hackett has fellow Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology author, Pauline Baird Jones on her blog.












JL Peridot was interviewed over on Romancing the Book including about her latest release, The Only Question that Matters.

JL also has an update on her WIP, Dragon's Den.










Keri Arthur features Cursed in her Six Sentence Sunday and Six Sentence Sunday Time.














Donna Maree Hanson has a self-publishing update.














Lilliana Rose invites you to get hooked on steampunk with an excerpt from her book, Change of Heart.










Juanita Kees talks about her covers for her series, Under the Law.


  






M. J. Scott talks about herself and her latest release, Wicked Games.












Website Updates


Pages updated on the website: Amanda Ashby and Rebekah Turner.




Thursday, 11 October 2018

Magic Thursday--Marie Dry Shares an Excerpt from Her Latest Release



On a future earth, Aurora has been desperately searching for her long-lost sister, when she is sacrificed to Balthazar, leader of the fearsome Cyborgs who invaded earth. Now she is stuck on an alien spaceship with a crazy Cyborg who thinks she can give him a soul and who has a weird fixation with the way she moves. Aurora is desperate to return to earth to search for her sister while the President of United Earth insists that only she can save Earth from enslavement by the cyborgs. After spending time with the cyborgs, aurora realizes that the machine she thought would be easy to betray, the machine she has to betray, if she ever wants to rescue her sister from enslavement, has turned into a man she could come to love.






CHAPTER 1


Washington, DC, Summer, 2116:


The President of United Earth had an “I’ve got bad news but let’s smile and pretend it won’t destroy your whole life” look on his face. “Ms. Skuy, come in. We don’t have much time before I have to sacrifice you to the aliens.”
Aurora stumbled through the door of the Oval Office. She’d like to believe his words had been a joke, but she knew better. Tension hung thick in the air. “Excuse me?”
The president’s tired face softened. “My apologies. That was in bad taste.”
He clasped her arm and steadied her, giving her elaborate, medieval style dress a quick once over and lingering on the elegant signature glass hairpins keeping her long, upswept hair in place. In the outer corners of his eyes, crinkles appeared, as if he wanted to smile. As if he was pleased. The dresses were her armor and the hairpins potential weapons. But why was the president pleased about her wearing them? “You wore your hairpins,” he said.
“As fascinating as I find the fact that the President of United Earth apparently plans to sacrifice me to the aliens with my hairpins in place, I’d like to know why your soldiers invaded my office and brought me here at gunpoint.” That was an exaggeration, but not by much.
He led her to a royal-blue-velvet-covered visitor’s chair. “I need your help. The survival of the human race is at stake.”
The president had been the most powerful man on Earth, until the alien spaceships arrived a year ago. Now the commander of the menacing alien fleet orbiting Earth filled that position, even if he wasn’t quite on Earth. And probably not even a man.
“When your soldiers came to my office and insisted I accompany them here, I assumed there was a crisis at one of my foundation’s soup kitchens. Human sacrifice did not occur to me.” She really hoped he’d been joking, but the ruthless purpose in his eyes and the ominous feel in the air told a different story.
He fixed her with those fierce, battle-worn eyes. “It’s ironic, isn’t it? We finally get it right. No more pollution, population numbers are manageable, and healthcare has never been this good.” He rubbed his brow, a weary irritated gesture. “Goddamn aliens.”
She nodded. “It does seem ironic. Instead of 2115 going down in history as the year we conquered famine, it’s known as the year the aliens came.”
He had to know of the harsh realities the media glossed over. The previous president had all but destroyed the freedom of the press. Men and women had been forced into sterilization clinics during the last two presidencies. Her sister was living proof that slavery was still thriving. Ever since his election, she’d wondered what this man was capable of. “What do the aliens have to do with me? Why did you mention sacrifice?”
The angry buzz of the protestors outside filtered through the walls. They’d congregated outside United Earth buildings all around the world, waving placards demanding the aliens leave, with unimaginative slogans like, Earth is for Humans and Aliens Go Back Where You Came From.
Instead of answering her question, he held out a hairpin. “I need to give you this. As I said, we don’t have much time.”
She studied the glass pin--similar in design to the ones she had in her hair--designed to look like old fashioned hat pins, adding an air of whimsy to her elaborate hairdo. “What am I supposed to do with this?”
“It’s safe to use in your hair, but if you twist the top like this, it turns into an injection. It contains picos.” He demonstrated and, after sealing it again, handed it to Aurora. Picos was micro technology, still experimental in their application. “Never let it out of your sight.” His smile was little more than an awkward upward turn at the corners of his mouth. “Or, in this case, hair.”
“What am I supposed to do with it?”
He gave her that tight-lipped soldier’s smile. “You have to find an opportunity to inject it into their leader. The picos are programmed to turn him pliable to the first person he sees after he is injected.”
“Why would you think I’d ever meet the--” She closed her eyes. “The sacrifice,” she murmured.
“The sacrifice,” he agreed.
The president clutched the nape of his neck. In that moment, he didn’t look like the President of United Earth. Instead, he looked weary and at the end of his rope. “This morning, I received a--” He hesitated and then shrugged. “--a call from the leader of the aliens.”
Aurora straightened. “You saw one of them?” She forgot to be regal and graceful, to keep her mask in place. No one knew what the aliens wanted, what they looked like. Several experts had speculated that they could be artificial intelligence, so-called tin men. The name had caught on, and now everyone called the elusive aliens tinners.
“No, the call was voice only. He spoke in English. Accented, but good English.”
The aliens had announced their arrival by bombing the International Space Station and the satellites orbiting Earth. Next, they’d bombed Washington, DC, from space. Aurora would never forget the day that happened. She’d been in her office, watching the destruction on television, the horror of it hard to accept even now. Ever since, humanity had braced for more bombings that never happened. And then the aliens called the president?
“He?”
“Yes, the alien who called me was definitely a ‘he.’”
“And you think the picos could give us an advantage?” She was all for any advantage they could get, but she didn’t want to be the one wielding the secret weapon.
“Yes. Those picos are the reason I had you brought here. We’ve been working on a plan, in the event that we encountered them.”
“What did he want, Mr. President?”
He walked over to the window and then turned to face her with a jerky, almost uncoordinated, move. “He offered a ceasefire in exchange for certain...promises.”
“What promises?” Whatever they promised wasn’t worth more than her sister’s life.
“He made it clear that if we don’t give them what they want, they’d bomb us again. And this time, they won’t stop after destroying a few empty buildings. His smile was bitter. “He used very precise words. ‘Deliver or face another barrage of bombs.’”
Now they were getting to it, the reason he had her collected and brought here. “Deliver what?” she asked, but she knew. Oh yes, she knew. This wasn’t her first stint into being the sacrificial lamb. This time, she’d fight. She had too much to lose.
“He wants you,” he said. “And I had the impression that the alien leader wanted you for himself. That it was personal.”
The world tilted around her. Even expecting his answer, her body still readied for fight or flight. “Why? Why me?” Sure the foundation was influential, but why would the aliens be interested in someone doing charity work? “How do they even know me out of the billions of people on Earth?”
“I can only guess.”
“You’re going to hand me over?” She had worth, she should be protected. She was a tax payer, after all.
He spoke between clenched teeth, his jaw bulging like that of a bull dog. “If they’d landed their spaceships, if we could fight them, I’d dare them to come for you and give them a war that would make their great grandchildren say my name with loathing.” He paced--long angry strides, up and down in front of her. “My hands are tied. They shoot down our missiles and planes before they even leave the atmosphere. I can’t get to them to fight them.” He sat behind the desk, shoulders tensed, his hands fisted against his forehead. “Even if I could, those idiots in the cabinet would oppose me.”
Her mind kept screaming at her to get away from there. To run to safety. Her legs wouldn’t run. “I’m--” She swallowed, tried again. “I’m your only hope to get to them?”
Her hands started a fine tremble that spread to the rest of her body. She hid them in the folds of her dress. She wanted to sound as if she’d be glad to sacrifice herself for the human race, but she didn’t pull it off. Acid crept up her throat. Why did this keep happening to her?
He stopped pacing and turned to look her straight in the eye. “I hate to ask this of you.” Those soldier’s eyes pierced hers. “I don’t even want to speculate on what they want, but this is an opportunity we cannot ignore. We’d have someone on the inside.”
“But you’re not asking, are you, Mr. President?” Just as the man who had handed her over before had not asked.
Aurora heard her own voice through a peculiar swishing noise in her ears, the bitterness penetrating like a whistle through fog. She didn’t want to be Earth’s only hope. If she was the only one who could save them from the tinners, Earth was in big trouble. Her sister could attest to that. Aurora wanted to run and keep running. But this horrendous feeling of inevitability chained her to her chair.
He became military straight, lifted his chin. “I cannot afford to give you a choice.”
Aurora started to lift her hand to push it through her hair, remembered she carried a deadly weapon there, and lowered it. “Let’s face it, you’d be a much better hostage. I’m only grand master of an organization that builds schools and helps street children.”
She wasn’t done, either. So many children out there still needed help while she searched for Ter. She didn’t have time for the president to sacrifice her.
He punched his fist into his palm, and she jumped in the chair. “Dammit, I don’t want to do this. For whatever reason, they fixated on you. And this is a chance for us to get someone on the inside.”
“What exactly do you expect me to do once I’m up there? They’ll probably throw me into a cell and dissect me.” She’d be helpless, unable to defend herself. It was ironic really. She’d spent her whole life trying to ensure that she’d never be vulnerable and helpless again. But all her martial arts and weapons training wouldn’t help her on a spaceship surrounded by aliens. “And, anyway, pico technology has never worked the way its creators hoped.”
In every test, the scientists had lost control over the substance injected into lab animals.
“We have to try it,” he said.
She couldn’t suppress a visible shudder. “He could go crazy on me. Or worse, I could be gang raped. Or dissected.”
He tensed. “Rape is a very real concern. But I don’t think they plan to dissect you. He asked me what you eat, the precise portions necessary to ensure your health. And I mean precise. The temperature that would be ‘optimal’ for your ‘survival.’ His words.”
“So how is this supposed to work?” She had visions of chains clanging around her wrists and ankles while the president handed her over. Social media being what it was, it would go viral as well.
The president paced. “It doesn’t sit well with me, sending a civilian into the enemy’s hands--a female civilian.” She could see him vibrate with the need to go to war. When she opened her mouth to repeat her question, he held up a hand. “To answer your question, he said he’d come get you here.”
Her stomach turned, and she couldn’t stop her hands from crushing the heavy silk material of her dress. It took all her self-control not to run for the door before the tinner came to take her to her doom.
He stopped in front of her. “I hate to say it--”
“I’m ’Earth’s only hope,” she finished for him, the clich├ęd words tasting ominous on her lips. “I want something in return.”
“I know of your search for your sister. I will use every resource at my disposal to find her.”
She fixed him with the gaze she used when she forced the board of the foundation to approve funds for her pet projects. “Know this, Mr. President, as long as I am assured you are saving my sister, I am Earth’s only hope. Cross me on this, and I’ll be Earth’s biggest nightmare.”
Ever since she walked into this office, she’d seen regret, caution, and other emotions in the president’s eyes. Now he lifted a hand and patted her shoulder in an awkward, almost boyish, gesture. He walked up and down in front of her, and she resisted the urge to push him into a chair where he couldn’t make her dizzy with his pacing. “We don’t have much time left,” he said. “You have to pretend to return his interest if it’s sexual. Make it subtle, so he doesn’t realize you’re playing him. Do whatever you have to do to gain his trust.”
“And if he’s a machine, how do I gain the trust of something that has the same emotional capacity than my laptop?”
The president lifted his stubborn chin at her. “If he’s any type of AI, you appeal to his logic.”
“When do I inject him with the picos?”
“First, I need you to get me some information. Where do they come from? How many of them are there? Are there more on their way? What kind and how many weapons do they have?”
Did he really think they’d let her walk around the spaceship asking questions? She clutched her arms around her middle. Oh God, she was going to be taken to the aliens on their spaceship. Dread paralyzed her and stole her senses. She tried to speak, to swallow, but her mouth was too dry. “Do you think they’d let me close enough to one of them to inject?”
“He will if you seduce him.”
“And, of course, I would be the person for the job.” She didn’t care that her voice dripped bitterness. “How do I report my findings to you? I doubt he’d just let me come home to talk to you every now and then.” It was more likely that she’d be dead the moment she passed on any information she managed to get her hands on. She suppressed a shudder.
“I told him I would only hand you over if I can talk to you every week.”
“And he agreed to that?”
“Yes.”
Aurora could see the same suspicion, that she felt at the tinner’s agreement, on the president’s face.
“During a visit last month to the hearing-impaired school in upstate New York, you used sign language.”
“You want to communicate with sign language during those once a week calls?” It sounded like a plan that could get her killed or tortured. “The aliens are clever enough to build spaceships and travel to Earth from who knows how many miles away. Sign language won’t fool them.” She shook her head. “They won’t fall for it.”
“We do not have a choice. My first lesson starts tomorrow. Be very careful, just chat normally a few times before you start reporting. Let them relax their vigilance, start to trust you.” The president smiled, a grim satisfied smile, his campaign smile. “We may yet prevail.”
If he thought that smile reassured her, he was very much mistaken. She’d dealt with politicians in her duties as grand master of the Phoenix Foundation. No, he didn’t fool her at all. At this stage, he’d sacrifice his own mother if it meant finding a weapon against the tinners.
“How soon do I need to go?”
“He’s coming for you in the next few minutes.”
Aurora stood and started for the door, her legs trying to take her to safety. Again, that roaring in her ears deafened her. She clenched her trembling hands into tight fists and forced back the urge to flee. She turned around on trembling legs and faced the pity in the president’s eyes. Coming from the man willing to sacrifice her, she didn’t appreciate it. At all. “I have to let my assistant know.”
“Already done.”
She couldn’t do this.
Aurora took several deep breaths and returned to her chair, trying not to look as if her shaking knees would give way under her at any moment.
She had to do this.


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Ever since she can remember Marie Dry wanted to travel. She had had the privilege of living in Zambia, Morocco, and Spain and sees herself as a bit of a gypsy. Every few years she gets restless and has to be some place new.

She read romances since she was nine and was fairly young when she decided she would write the perfect story that had all the elements she looked for in a romance. In 1997 she decided to go all out with her writing and to get published. Being published by Black Opal Books is a dream come true for her. 

There are several wonderful moments in her life that she would never trade for anything. One of them is meeting President Nelson Mandela and the second being published.