I’ve decided to change up these weekly snippets and go through my backlist, sharing the first meeting between the two main characters in each book. I’m going roughly in the order of first publication. It’s always fun for me to revisit the books and I hope it will be for you too! Or if you’ve never happened to read a certain book, maybe I can entice you into giving it a try.
HOSTAGE TO THE STARS is the standalone sequel to MISSION TO MAHJUNDAR, which I highlighted last week. My readers really loved the character of Johnny Danver in the first book (so did I!) and wanted him to have his own book. It took me a few years to come up with just the right plot.
I was intrigued by the fact that Special Forces teams don’t routinely get sent in to rescue hostages held in other countries and in fact the unfortunate people may wait years to be saved. I visualized Johnny going on one such mission and what might happen…
The interior of the dimly lit building was mostly taken up with a large holding cell, currently caging only one occupant. Staring at him wide eyed, a gaunt woman in ragged clothing was rising from the floor, bracing herself on the wall. Chains at her ankles clinked as she moved.
He held one finger to his lips and moved to the door of the cell, blasting it open with a single low intensity pulse from his blaster.
Hands to her mouth, eyes wide, she gave him a jerky nod.
“I’m here to get you out, Ms. Bridges, Sectors Special Forces. “
He thought she might collapse but instead she straightened her spine with an effort. A small moan escaped her lips but as he came closer she watched him without making another sound.
He put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. “I’ll have to get these shackles off.”
She slid down the wall and sat. The chains were cheap metal, easy for him to burn the hinges with a flicker from the blaster, enough to break without burning her.
Moistening her cracked lips with her tongue, she stared at him, tears in her eyes, but said nothing until he removed the chains with care, angry all over again when he saw the raw marks the shackles left on her ankles. He set the chains aside. Taking him by surprise, she hugged him, shivering violently.
He held her close, hoping to offer a bit of comfort. Lips again near her ear, he whispered, “We’re going out the back, into the hills. Can you walk?”
Swallowing hard, closing her eyes, Sara whispered, “Yes.”
He had to unhook her fingers from his shirt, which he did carefully, helping her to her feet and leading her from the squalid cell. “The pirates are all inside the other building, getting drunk or high,” he said as he paused at the door, Sara crowding close.
He slid the portal open an inch and reconnoitered. “Damn.”
“What’s wrong?” Her voice was a husky whisper.
“Two guys, over by the trucks. Hopefully they’ll go inside before too long.”
Sara crossed her arms over her chest and rubbed her slender biceps as if she was cold, although the heat was growing intense in the jail as the sun rose higher. “Promise you’ll kill me if we get caught.” Her tone was intense.
“It ain’t going to come to that. We’re getting out of here today.”
“I want to believe you but I can’t take any more,” she said, tears slipping down her cheeks. “You have no idea.”
He reached over to pat her shoulder. “I’ll get you to safety, my word on it. I’m thinking it might be time for a distraction for our hosts though.”
“What do you mean?”
He doffed his thin backpack and knelt, pulling out two sweet miniature thermal explosive devices he’d picked up while selecting gear at the space station. “Thinking I’ll put a couple of these on one of their parked shuttles, blow it to the seven hells and while the locals are running around like suskadi with their heads chopped off, we’ll be heading for the hills.”
“Won’t they chase us?”
“Probably, but not right away. I’ll blow this building too. Umarri’s men will be confused and not only from the drugged tea.” He grinned.
The two men, arguing half-heartedly, as if they’d had the conversation before, were headed inside.
As soon as the coast was clear, Johnny said, “I’ll come back for you. Sit tight right here until I do, promise?”
She gave him a thumbs up. Apparently reading doubt in his face about her probable compliance with his order, she said, “They only feed me once a day so I know for sure no one will come. I’ll wait. You’re the best thing I’ve seen in months, soldier. I’m not going anywhere without you. And your weapons.”
He rescued her from space pirates … but can he keep them both safe from the far greater evil stalking a deserted planet?
Space travel without Kidnap & Ransom insurance? Not a good idea. University instructor and researcher Sara Bridges can’t afford it, so when pirates board her cruise liner, she’s taken captive along with the mistress of a wealthy man, and brought to a deserted planet. When a military extraction team sent to rescue the mistress refuses to take Sara too, she’s left to the mercies of a retired Special Forces soldier, along as consultant.
Reluctantly reactivated and coerced into signing up for the rescue operation to the planet Farduccir where he once was deployed, Sgt. Johnny Danver just wants to get the job done. But when the team leader leaves one captured woman behind, he breaks away to rescue her himself.
As Johnny and Sara traverse the barren landscape, heading for an abandoned base where they hope to call Sectors Command for help, they find villages destroyed by battle and stripped of all inhabitants. A lone survivor tells a horrific tale of the Sectors’ alien enemy, the Mawreg, returning after being pushed out …
Searching for evidence to give the military, Johnny is captured. He regains consciousness in a Mawreg cage–with Sara next to him. Death is preferable to what the aliens will do to them… And even if they do escape their captors, can they alert the military in time to prevent another invasion of the Sectors?
Standalone sequel to Mission To Mahjundar (mild spoilers for Mahjundar in this story.)