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.
But then she gets a phone call from the king of Kwadra Island — a duplicate of Vancouver Island moved to our earth from the future of an alternate earth. He offers her the job of conducting a performance of The Nutcracker ballet as a surprise Christmas present for his American-born wife. Holly says yes, of course.
King Tro laughed. It sounded like the laugh of a human from this Earth, a nice man who just happened to be an alien king. She’d seen him on TV and the web, of course. Everyone on Earth knew the scientist/king who’d used weird technology from the future to move his people’s island home from a dying alternate Earth to the Pacific Ocean off the Washington coast.
“Miss Jansen, I’m getting the impression you’re in rather dire straits. Correct?”
Thug howled his ferocious yet pitiful agreement. He slunk onto the passenger seat, curled up, and glared at her before licking himself.
“It’s not my fault. My contract with the Kamloops Symphony wasn’t renewed — I suspect they wanted a male conductor — and I had a hard time finding anything so I had to take a job in the public schools teaching band and then they ran out of money and my roommate made off with the rent money and my car won’t start and . . . and . . .”
And shut your mouth, woman. Don’t dump your problems on a prospective employer. Especially not a king.
She sniffed loudly then pinched her offending nose shut. “That sniff was because I’m cold, not because I’m crying. I don’t cry. Or swear, either. Not usually, I mean, and I never say fuck. Oh, jeez, I did it again. I mean, I never say the F-word. Really, never. Well, hardly ever.”
Another warm laugh. She liked this guy.
“Miss Jansen, tomorrow I shall send you half your retainer to cover the trip to Kwadra, with the other half after the concert. Is thirty thousand dollars sufficient?”
Holly didn’t answer. Couldn’t. Her mouth wouldn’t close, let alone form words.
“Miss Jansen? Miss Jansen?”
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.