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.
TWO AGAINST THE STARS is the third in my alien empath series and I tried to really change things up from the earlier stories. (All the books can be read as standalones.) Carialle manages to escape her interstellar mob ‘handler’ and hides in the slums of an alien planet. But then she’s presented with a hard choice about whether to use her empathic powers to help a Special Forces soldier in big trouble…
The excerpt: Carialle is a janitor in a shady medical clinic when a new patient is brought in, heavily sedated and restrained…she uses her powers to see if he’s truly in a persistent vegetative state as she’s been told, or if the medications are keeping him under.
Time to clean and get out. Carialle stepped away from the bed to get her supplies, and rubbed her aching lower back, trying to work out the kinks. It had been a long time since she first labored as a maid at the temple, and she wasn’t getting any younger. Smiling to herself, because she was far from being an old woman, she turned, tools in hand, and froze.
Marcus Valerian was awake and staring at her. His eyes were blue, the same blue as the flames burning inside his soul. He licked his chapped lips and strained one wrist against the padded restraints, as if reaching for her. “Where?” he whispered. “What…planet?”
“Home.” He let his head fall onto the skinny pillow and closed his eyes again.
Nerves making her dizzy, she gave the room a cursory cleaning and escaped. She debated mentioning to Matikian how the soldier had awakened for a brief moment but held her tongue. Reluctance to betray the fact made silence the wiser course to follow, especially as no one ever seemed to care about the details of the patients’ health on this wing. No one expected her to report on a patient’s physical condition.
VS: And a little more, from the first time they actually converse. This is a few nights later and she’s used her powers to awaken him briefly from the drug-induced coma:
She held a finger to her lips and scurried to check the door. Satisfied the orderly in charge was ignoring the world around him as usual, she hurried to the bedside and slid her fingers over Marcus’s hand. Leaning close, she whispered, “I’m going to help you but we have to be careful, understand?”
His pupils were huge, dilated from the drugs. He tried to speak but no sound came out. Hastily she laid her hand across his chapped lips. “I’ll ensure you get less of the medicine but you have to convince them you’re still sedated. Can you put on an act?”
Marcus studied her face for a moment. “Yes.” Getting the single syllable out seemed to require almost more energy than he possessed.
“Good. And then we’ll see what we can do about getting you out of here.”
“Today,” he whispered against her hand. “Now.”
“Not yet—you aren’t ready. There’s time. Trust me.”
She removed her fingers and he spoke so faintly she had to shake her head and lean closer. His breath puffed against her ear as he repeated himself. “Angel.”
Laughing, she shook her head. “Far from it, but I can’t stand aside and let them do this to you. I’m going to send you under again but you’ll remember our agreement.” She released her hold on his consciousness and his eyelids drifted downward, despite his obvious struggle to stay awake.
To her astonishment, he shook his head, squared his shoulders and reopened his eyes. “Name?”
Although he clearly was desperate to say more, his head lolled to the side and he snored as the drug took him.
Two Against the Stars
Empathic priestess Carialle has escaped the evil Amarotu Combine, but she’s hardly out of danger. Not when she risks everything to rescue a drugged man from a crooked veterans’ clinic. By lulling the clinic staff to sleep, she reveals her powers. And once again, criminals are after her and her rescuer.
Marcus Valerian, a wounded Special Forces veteran, never expected to have his life threatened by the clinic that’s supposed to help ex-soldiers like him. But when he wakes from a drugged state to find a lovely woman urging him to run–he does. In his family’s remote fishing cabin, he suffers the agony of withdrawal, soothed only by her powers.
In their idyllic hideaway, the two also discover a nova-hot attraction flaring. But can they stay alive long enough for it to become more? Not if the Combine has anything to say–they are not giving up until Marcus is dead and Carialle is their weapon