Alien Contact for an Enhanced Nutcracker, a holiday novella, is the sixth installment in my Alien Contact for Idiots series, though it can stand alone. The book opens five years from next November on a dark, rainy side street in Tacoma, Washington. Holly Jansen is trudges miserably with her cat, Thug, and when she gets to her car, it doesn’t start. Last week’s snippet ended with “Her phone buzzed.”
Deirdre, explaining it had all been a mistake? Mrs. Peterson, calling to say the school had found the money to bring her back as a substitute music teacher after all? The director of the Chicago Symphony, begging her to take over the orchestra?
Holly fumbled the phone out of her purse. She read the caller’s name, rubbed her eyes, and looked again. It still said the same thing.
His Majesty King Eaglesbrood of Kwadra.
“A prank call?” Her voice started weak but rose to a scream. “Now?”
Usually she ignored telemarketers and pranksters, but here was a target for her wrath. She answered the call and spoke full blast: “What the fuck do you want, asshole?”
Silence. It lasted long enough to realize this was the second time in her adult life she’d used the F-word. It left a sour aftertaste, as though she’d forgotten to brush her teeth the morning after the night before.
Which reminded her. Her toothbrush was locked in the apartment.
“Is this Miss Jansen? Holly Jansen, the conductor?” The man’s baritone had a light, untraceable accent that was noticeable more in the rhythm of his speech than his pronunciation.
“Uh.” Squeezing her eyes so tightly shut they hurt, she lowered her forehead until it touched the frigid steering wheel. “Yes,” she whispered. “Who is this?” Please don’t let it be who the phone says it is. I’ll do anything within—or even close to—the bounds of my personal morality.
“My name is Tro Eaglesbrood –”
Holly groaned. She’d used the F-word to the alien king from an alternate Earth? One of the most powerful men in the world? She pounded her forehead against the steering wheel.
“– and my aides were given your name by the Kamloops festival where you conducted a Nutcracker performance for several years. Also, Professor Peterson recommends you highly.”
The names sank through the ice that coated Holly’s consciousness. The Nutcracker? Doris Peterson, her former conducting professor? This man had researched her thoroughly.
Holly raised her head. “Yes?” Her voice sounded almost sane.
“They all recommend you as a talented but underappreciated musician who might be available on short notice to conduct a performance of The Nutcracker ballet here on Kwadra Island. I want to surprise my wife with a gift reminiscent of her homeland,” the Kwadran queen was from Seattle, “on Christmas Eve. I was hoping—”
“I’ll do it.” Belatedly, Holly added, “Your Majesty.”
Do you have any idea where my ‘spirit’s home’ is? You can find out in Andrea Huelsenbeck’s interview with me .
Alien Contact for an Enhanced Nutcracker
The Nutcracker ballet . . . performed for and by aliens?
Holly Jansen, a young orchestra conductor down on her luck, is secretly hired by an alien king to conduct The Nutcracker on Kwadra Island as a Christmas present for his American wife. This big break seems like a Christmas miracle. But after she meets the lead dancer, she wonders if it’s a curse, instead . . .
. . . because the queen has secretly ordered Rafe Sekwa, dancer extraordinaire, to produce a potlatch ceremony honoring her husband’s ancestors — on the same day, time, and stage as The Nutcracker. The stubborn genius is determined to do so no matter what. Soon Holly finds her ambition melting in the face of her growing admiration — and love.