At long long last, Slipspace: Harbinger is now available exclusively at Amazon.com This has been a labor of love, blood, sweat, and tears and I am very excited to finally bring this title to you! So to help celebrate, I will be dropping a series of three linked excerpts. You’ll find the first one right here and now. But the other’s you’ll have to find in the coming days when they go up. I’ll tell you where to find them… after the break.
September 30, 2832
With each step, Nira Fen squeezed the powdery white sand between her toes. The tide rushed up against the shore line, splashing at her feet and soaking the fringe of her sarong. The wind picked up and she brushed her golden-brown hair out of her eyes and behind her ear. Her fingers slid past the flower in her hair and down the length of her hair to just below her shoulder blades. ‘Long walks on the beach’ seemed cliché but the opportunity to spend a few nights at Lumo’s Zarthine shores was far too tempting to pass up, even if she would be spending it alone.
Another cool breeze blew inland, sending a chill across her bare arms.
She continued walking, knowing she could not blame Cody. Business was business. She wouldn’t hold it against him if the Alliance had him out on a recruiting job despite the approved leave time. She sighed and looked out to the horizon over the sea. This far from any major city or settlement, there were no lights to dilute the beautiful starscape in the night sky. She craned her head upward, taking in a deeper view of the universe above her.
She watched as a stray meteor streaked across her field of view and followed it as it fell and burned out. Her eyes rose once more, moving from star to star. Cody was out there on one of those planets, orbiting one of those stars. Maybe, even now, he was looking up at his night sky toward the Lumir system, toward her as she looked upwards toward him in return. Perhaps their star-crossed gazes transcended time and space, meeting each other and warming the cold void.
With a smile, she continued her way down the beach. Her villa was just ahead, and the thought of getting some real sleep was very enticing. She closed the door behind her and entered a locking code. The door clicked. Nira stepped into the bedroom, pulling the sarong off her waist as she walked and let it drop to the floor. The swimsuit halter top came off with ease and she slipped the bottom off her hips and let it slide down her legs to rest. She left the flower in her hair. As she climbed into bed, the cool sheets slid smoothly across her bare skin. She pulled the blanket over her chest, turned out the lights, rolled onto her side and with thoughts of her husband, fell asleep.
The soft touch of the flower’s petals brushed past her cheeks and instinctively, Nira brushed it away as she slowly rose back into consciousness. Her eyes opened and focused on the bouquet of roses sitting on the dresser.
Cody sat at the foot of the bed watching her, a smile dashing across his face. He leaned forward and drew her to him as they kissed. “Good morning, sleeping beauty,” he said, after their lips parted.
“Hey,” she cooed. “I thought you were on business.”
She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and neck, keeping him at arm’s length so she could see him. He rubbed her arm and slid her hand off his shoulder, bringing it up to his lips to kiss once again as he looked her in her magenta eyes.
“Wild horses couldn’t keep me away.”
“How did you get in? Did I forget to secure the door?”
“One, zero, zero, one, two, eight, two, seven. The code was pretty easy to guess.” he said, quoting the date of their wedding. “Give me a little more credit than that. Happy Anniversary.”
“To you, too,” she said, pulling him down on top of her.
Instead of kissing her again, Cody slipped from her grasp and rose to his feet. Nira sat up in her bed, allowing the rose petals and bed sheets to fall off her body. He produced a large box he had been hiding and handed it to her.
“What’s this?” She asked.
“Just a little something for you.”
She cocked her head and opened the gift, shielding her eyes as the light in the room reflected off the bolts of ruby, emerald, and sapphire fabric in the box. She knew instantly.
“Halite Silk?” she gasped. “Cody…these are three bolts of Halite Silk. How did you get your hands on so much?”
Cody smiled. “I have my ways. I take it you like it?”
That’s an understatement. Thank you! I don’t know what I’ll do with it.”
“Whatever you’d like. I’m sure you’ve got a couple of projects.”
Nira closed the box and set it down beside her bed. “Care to join me?” she asked, sliding under the blankets.
Cody said nothing, but instead removed his shirt. “There’s more.”
She turned her back to him and nestled up against him as he extended his arm around her. “Oh?”
“There’s a new assignment. A ship.”
She turned towards him. “What ship?” she asked, not sure if she wanted the answer or not. But she already knew what he’d say. The sudden nature of the trip, the long hours he’d spent in and out of his office on various tasks, the pulling of nearly every officer record he had access to; all that fell into immediate context.
“It’s the new battleship. The Mjöllnir. It’s scheduled to launch in a couple of days and I’ve been given command. The trips I’ve been taking have been to find and line up division commanders.”
Nira smiled and rolled back into his arms. “Congratulations.”
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
He offered her a soft smile. “Nothing at all. I want to ask if you would like to run the medical team as Chief of Staff.”
Nira tried to turn again, but Cody held her in place. “I don’t know what to say, Cody…”
“Say you’ll do it. I want a doctor aboard ship that I can trust.”
“Why me? I mean, I’m your wife. Is the Alliance going to permit me to serve with you?”
Cody sighed. He must have known this question was coming, as he did not waste any time in answering.
“After the war, Central had to make some concessions and allow officer families stay together in order to prevent a surge of retirements. People wanted to take the uniform off and enjoy life. These days, as long as they’re not working in the same divisions, any officer can request a posting with his or her spouse or family member. Hell, they even let me assign Cassie as first officer.”
“I thought the first officer reported directly to the commanding officer. How does that fit into the family policy?”
“I asked Marr the same question when he gave me his recommendations. Apparently, he thinks that our strained relationship is enough to overcome any conflict of interest we’d have towards each other as siblings. And he wants her out of Central Command.”
“That’s hardly a ringing endorsement,” Nira replied. “You brought her on why?”
“She needs a fresh start. The least I can do is give it to her.” He kissed her neck. “But back to you…”
“I come back to the same question. I’d report to you, and how would that not violate standing policy?” she asked as she stretched her back and shifted to a better position.
“The Alliance Civilian government always used civilian medical staff. They feel it keeps the military out of medical decisions and reduces the risk of compromising medical ethics. As a civilian, you fall outside of my chain of command and would not report to me. I still maintain final authority on matters of ship’s business, as would you on matters of medical protocol, but beyond that, consider yourself an independent contractor. It’s simple, really.”
Nira sighed. “It’s never simple…” She paused as Cody began nibbling at her ear. “It’s never that simple, and you know it.”
“We can make it work. You’d be on board even if you didn’t take the job. But if you didn’t, you’d just be the Captain’s wife: a civilian with limited access to the ship. If you took the post you’d have something to do beyond just hosting dinner with the officers.” He nibbled a little more before he continued. “Your medical license is up to date. You’re qualified for xeno-medical practice and your genetic memory gives you a wealth of historical knowledge on which to draw.”
“All Lura have genetic memories, Cody.”
“That’s not the point,” he whispered as he held her close, his tongue flicking her earlobe. “I don’t want just any doctor- Lura, Human, Inkar or otherwise. I want you. You’re up to date, qualified, vetted, and cleared. And you’re at the top of every list I’ve seen.”
“How many of those lists did you write yourself?”
Cody gave no answer, his kisses making their way down her neck and chest. The warmth inside her grew despite her best efforts to stay focused on the conversation. There would be plenty of time for play later. But Cody pressed on.
“Say you’ll do it,” he said, placing each word between kisses.
Things were never as simple as they sounded, and this proposition was a big risk and gamble, but it was one she would take. She felt her pulse quicken as Cody turned his attention to her breasts. Her hand snaked up his back and closed around a tuft of hair which she used as leverage to lift his head so his eyes would meet hers.
“This, dear husband, will not stand. Toying with me while asking me to make this decision is manipulation, to say the least,” she said, her voice darker and seductive.
“I know,” he teased as she released him. He looked up to her. “But you wouldn’t let me do this to you if you hadn’t already made up your mind, would you?” To his credit, he stopped and let her think.
She should put on some clothes and sit down with him to discuss this. The idea left a knot in her stomach. She belonged in a hospital with solid ground beneath her, not up there on a drab warship. But if she stayed on Lumo, she would be away from him and their plans for family and future would be put on hold. That would not work for her. She had to go with him. They both knew that. But she could do no one any good sitting in her quarters all day. There was only one place where she could do what she did best and Cody was offering her the opportunity.
“Sign me up, my Captain.”
He kissed her again. “Glad to hear it. You’ll have to select staff and make sure that the medical inventory is up to par. Mjöllnir’s a big ship so I can’t imagine that…”
Nira cut him off, rolling to her right. He fell off her and rolled onto his back as she found her new position on top of him. “I don’t care. All that can wait until tomorrow. But for now,” she tapped a playful rhythm on his chest. “For right now, let’s leave the ship and the Alliance outside. It’s just the two of us on our anniversary. We should make the most of it.”
Cody looked up at his wife, his head resting on the pillow. He reached over to her side, grabbed a handful of rose petals and scattered them over her shoulders and back. Without another word, she lowered herself down to kiss him.
I hope you enjoyed that! There’s much more of the relationship between Cody and Nira Amado in Slipspace Harbinger, now available for sale for your Kindle at $4.99 or in print at $12.99, both from Amazon.com
If you’re looking for the next excerpt, then I highly suggest you keep an eye on the Fans of P.C. Haring Facebook Page. That page is live, but part two is coming soon!