I’m officially old, folks. The dental assistant had to take an impression of my teeth. Being a serious-minded bloke, I said “Judi, Judi, Judi,” doing my best Cary Grant impression. When I explained what the heck I was doing, the assistant said, “Who’s she?”
Suddenly I felt ten years older.
My advanced years won’t keep from posting another hook from Constellation XXI., my just-released sci-fi romance. This passage is largely world-building, though it also introduces the heroine’s fraught relationship with the antagonist, space marine Scheherazade Vallant.
Sienna Dukelsky is a tugship pilot whose job is to guide incoming spaceships to a safe harbor at the space station orbiting her home world. She has just spied her first incoming ship, so she follows standard procedure by contacting the marines at her home base.
On the radio, Sergeant Vallant let out another whistle, longer and higher. “The ship’s coming at top speed out of the Black, eh? I’ll hop on my broom and be there in forty minutes. My men will follow in a shuttle.”
Sienna fought down a fluttery feeling in her belly. What was so important—or frightening—that Vallant would hurry over from Rampart G station on a witch’s broom, rather than a shuttle?
A broom was a skinny, three-meter-long vehicle carrying one person strapped to its back, with just a suit between them and ultimate vacuum. Commandeering and warming up a shuttle might take a couple hours, while a broom required nothing more than shimmying into a tight-fitting bio suit and running a few system checks. On the other hand, a broom provided no shelter from cosmic radiation, which mattered this far from the protection of a planet’s magnetic field. Vallant clearly didn’t trust her to handle a ship arriving from beyond explored space.
“Eight years of study and internship,” Sienna muttered. “I don’t need mommy to hold my hand.”
“I heard that,” Vallant said. “And yes, you do.”
Sienna’s face flamed.
“If you want to survive on the fringes, Cherry, you have to follow every plarking procedure to the gee-damned letter. Procedures keep you alive. If you stumble and fall walking on a planet, you pick yourself up and keep going. You miss a step out here, you die.”
Sienna belatedly shut off the comm channel.
I have a question for you. A beta reader stumbled over the name Scheherazade. Do any of you find it a confusing name? (And as an aside, I’m sure glad Cary Grant didn’t say “Scheherazade, Scheherazade, Scheherazade.” What a mouthful that would be.)
Rediscovering Love at the Worst Possible Time
Although Sienna Dukelsky had been the most promising student pilot at Keening AstroSpace Academy, she inexplicably settles for a routine, unglamorous job guiding incoming spaceships to safe berths at Farflung Space Station. Rumors blamed her startling decision on heartbreak after Crispin Hunt, the love of her life, got expelled.
Approaching Farflung years several later, Crispin’s freighter is met by Sienna’s tugship. Love rekindles, though dampened by old betrayals. And when her ship loses power while aimed straight at the space station, Sienna must confront astonishing secrets about Crispin and his cargo—secrets that make hers the most important job in the galaxy.
Constellation XXI will be released February XIV. Until then, pre-order it from these fine sites: