Actually, what started me thinking about this story was Valentine’s Day, as in “wouldn’t it be nice to have a special story to release for the holiday?”
A little background – I post a photo of a different pair of earrings from my massive fashion jewelry collection every day on my Facebook page and my Instagram and in mid-January I was going through the drawers to see if I had enough heart-shaped ones to go with that theme for the entire month of February. Which put me in a Valentine’s mood – romantic. I’ve always felt that Aydarr and Jill, the couple from my first, award winning Badari Warriors (Sectors New Allies Series) novel, got a bit shortchanged in the romance department. They were apart for a chunk of the book and although they are each other’s fated mate and love each other deeply, they never really got much chance to enjoy their romance. There was too much other stuff happening with escaping the alien scientists’ lab, rescuing all the prisoners and starting a war for survival. They have their HEA by the book’s end and are a deeply devoted couple but never got to have hearts and flowers and a courtship. One night in a cell…
As I sorted through heart shaped earrings, I thought, what if they went on a belated honeymoon? My late husband and I took our honeymoon on our one year anniversary, so that was part of the inspiration. We went camping in the Sequoias and it was wonderful.
I loved the challenges of figuring out what they could do to “get away from it all”, what would make sense in this environment, how would a Badari Alpha feel and what would he say to the human woman he loves? And vice versa?
I didn’t want the story to be all steamy sexy times. There always has to be some adventure in any story I write. Jill is a tough, take charge ex-soldier and so I felt she needed a time to shine and show that side of herself. I won’t give too much of a spoiler here but I also have had a lifelong fascination with quicksand. When I was a kid, people were always falling into quicksand in movies and TV and as some famous person has said (paraphrasing here), as an adult I’m really surprised how little quicksand I’ve actually encountered. I thought the darn stuff was everywhere! But of course, since the novella is science fiction, this is no ordinary quicksand…
The other thing I was fascinated by and believed Jill and Aydarr would be intrigued by was the question of what if they’d met in some other place and time. Would they still have become mates? What would that all important first encounter look like? The challenge was, as Jill says at one point, “…you were here and I was there [in the Sectors].” How could they ever have met in any way other than the way they did in book one, as prisoners in the terrifying lab?
I love a good challenge and when I came up with the answer how to satisfy this whimsy for myself and them, I was excited to write the resulting scenes. I didn’t get the book done in time for a Valentine’s day release but close!
And Fiona Jayde did her magic with the cover art!
The blurb: Thrown together as helpless prisoners in the punishing conditions of a Khagrish lab, Jill and Aydarr fell in love. Claiming each other as mates despite only having one night alone in a cell, they formed a deep, loving mate bond. Now, a planetary year later, after escaping the lab and leading the ongoing rebellion against the enemy together, Aydarr longs for more. He wants a chance to show Jill how much she means to him.
He decides to risk everything to take his mate away from it all for a few days. But will the Khagrish, the threats lurking in the planet’s unexplored wilderness and the Badari goddess allow them to complete A Honeymoon for the Alpha?
The excerpt as the story begins:
When Aydarr walked into the cave he shared with his mate Jill, there was no sign of her, which was hardly surprising given the late hour of the night and the fact she’d spent the day training cadets and cubs in field exercises on the new obstacle course deep in the forest. He assumed she’d gone to bed quite a while ago and he couldn’t blame her. There was also no sign of her ancient alien Artificial Intelligence MARL.
MARL had his own small room in the Alpha’s cave suite, which represented a compromise since Aydarr hadn’t wanted him in their private space at all and MARL insisted on remaining at Jill’s side at all times. Fortunately Jill saw things the way her mate did, believing humans needed privacy. Grudgingly MARL had agreed to spend his nights and other downtime in the special room constructed for him. The pack depended on him to keep their sanctuary valley safe from Khagrish incursion, to obtain and analyze enemy data and to provide power for operations so there was a thin line to be walked here. Aydarr was glad it was his even tempered mate who had to handle the delicate relationship rather than himself.
He paused at their dining table, eyeing the barely touched remains of what had obviously been quite a feast, prepared and sent over to their quarters by Sandara, the valley’s human chef. Dipping a finger in a rich sauce, now cold and rather unappealing, Aydarr took a taste. Many of his favorite dishes were arranged on the table. With a sinking feeling, he remembered Jill had made him promise to get home in time for dinner when she’d left their admin offices.
Of course he’d promised and of course he’d then gotten drawn into a deep discussion with Daegan, another Alpha and the promise was forgotten. He had to grin, surveying the table. Instead of putting the food away for later, Jill had left it out to confront him. An unmistakable message from his unsubtle mate. She must have been genuinely angry to waste so much food. He’d broken too many of these promises lately, after taking Daegan and his huge pack into the valley and numerous other challenges.
Better get this over with. Squaring his shoulders, he marched into the bedroom.
Jill was asleep, her black hair tousled on the pillow. Curled up on her side, she seemed to be having a deep dream.
Undressing quietly, he slipped into the bed behind her, spooning her small frame with his much larger Badari body and holding her close to his heart.
Jill yawned and snuggled into him. “Meetings finally over? Is it dawn yet?”
“I’m sorry I missed dinner after all,” he said. “Were you angry?”
There was a spurt of quickly suppressed laughter. “What do you think?” Opening her eyes, she rolled onto her back so she could see him. “Yes. And no. As best as MARL and I could figure out, today was our anniversary, so I was going to surprise you with your favorite meal. I’d been planning it for a week. “
“Anniversary?” He’d heard the term used among humans and with a sinking sensation in his gut he guessed he’d missed an important occasion.
“A human thing,” she said. “It’s been one planetary year since you and I met. We think. Close enough to the exact date anyway.”
VS Note: This post first appeared on Pauline B. Jones’s website.