On her world, they call her star struck, but why do the stars beckon her so …
On a mining outpost in the Inner Worlds, a young woman dreams of the stars. When she falls in with a motley crew of bounty hunters seeking to avenge an injustice, Novi believes her dreams have come true. But her journey has just begun.
Led by the only man to bring the mightiest army in the sector to its knees, the crew is engaged in a wily cat and mouse game with the powerful Guild Coalition. With her new shipmates, Novi dodges space outlaws and greedy corporations, mingles with Synths and settlers, jumps the Star Portal Labyrinth and discovers a mysterious legacy bequeathed by the Gods. But each exhilarating adventure raises terrifying questions about her. Can Novi find the answers she seeks before time runs out for her?
Author’s Note: This fantasy adventure in the style of a swashbuckling space western is set on far away exotic worlds. Adventure, intrigue and action abound in this tale of a feisty young heroine embarking on the quest of a lifetime.
The murmur of voices heralded her approach. Forewarned, Novi was careful to crouch silently behind the hatch cover.
“We’ve searched Ventini’s cargo” the leader announced, down in the chamber. “Where’s the box?”
Novi’s heart gave a lurch. Could they be searching for Zufon Ventini’s intricately carved box, she wondered. The one with the energy waves that affected her so powerfully. Back in the duct, she was subject to its pernicious effects again. A night’s rest away from it had not dimmed the potency of whatever lay hidden in the strongbox.
In the Rec Chamber, Kidani looked confused by the leader’s question. But Novi sensed the pilot come to the same realization as her.
The leader addressed Kali, his demeanor subtly menacing. “No more games” he warned. “Where’s the strongbox?”
The pilot said nothing and Kidani rushed into speech. “We don’t know anything about a strongbox. Cap’n didn’t tell us about it.”
“I’m the chef and he’s the pilot” she reiterated, pointing at the RimWorlder. “We do our jobs, but we don’t know much about Cap’n’s affairs.”
“With you, I believe it” the leader agreed suavely. “But I know who your Captain is — the hero of the Five Year War. That tells me this RimWorlder here was one of his Renegades. He knows more than he’s telling us.”
The leader seems to know a lot about this Cruiser and the Captain. Who is he?
Kidani opened her mouth to respond but the leader ignored her to signal the man with the flasher. The henchman stepped forward to hold the weapon flush against Kali’s head.
Kidani made a small movement before checking herself.
Novi watched anxiously from behind the panel as the leader asked Kali. “One last time, RimWorlder. Where’s Ventini’s strongbox?”
Kali said nothing, the dark eyes glowering at the leader.
The slinger with the flasher raised it to hit the pilot but the leader stopped him with a raised hand, to direct him to Kidani instead.
Novi watched with her heart in her mouth as the man strode to the flame-haired girl to point his flasher at her, while the leader unstrapped his to hold it on Kali.
“The box or she dies” he said calmly to the RimWorlder.
In the eery blue glow of the emergency lights, Novi could see the terror on Kidani’s face, though the girl stayed still and mute.
“I don’t know where the box is, but occasionally, Cap’n hides certain valuables in the duct” Kali responded, subtly raising his voice. He hoped the stowaway would get the message. The duct was no longer safe for her to hide in.
“The maintenance duct?” the leader inquired.
The pilot nodded once, sharply.
Shyte. I must get out — they’ll be in the duct soon.
The leader reached for his Hailer. “Seto, check out the maintenance duct. There should be an access from the Bay.”
An alarmed Novi scrambled hastily, making for her old hiding place in the passage by the unoccupied chamber. Not a moment too soon, for she could hear voices cursing in the access passage from the Space Bay as the thugs poured into the duct.
About the Author
An avid reader all her life, only recently has Petra allowed her own imagination to run riot. She loves to travel and reads everything she can get her hands on. Her idea of a good read is one where the story and characters linger, long after the book has been set aside. She strives to write fantasy with vivid characters and elements of adventure, mystery and romance juxtaposed together, since those are the tales she has enjoyed the most over the years. To share the stories swirling in her imagination is a labor of love and a lifelong dream come true for Petra.
love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie
McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s
enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the
haunting portrait of a woman in mourning.
the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters
in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of
Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story,
Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key
to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.
past and present converge when hometown hero Will Durham returns and begins his
own healing process by helping the “city girl” restore the place that holds so
many memories. As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might
have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the
shadows for centuries is fulfilled.
love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in
fate, letting go of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.
powerful and poignant tale that vividly conveys the heartache of war, the
tragedy of loss, and the fulfillment of destiny…even when souls are separated
by centuries. Lacewood takes readers on a journey that connects the past with
the present—and the present with eternity.
in a circle, Katie studied the room again. Faded wallpaper curled and peeled
above the dusty wainscoting, but the walls themselves appeared sturdy. On the
far side of the entryway, and dominating the wall, stood a mammoth fireplace
with an ornately carved hearth. And above the mantle hung a captivating
painting of a woman in nineteenth-century dress.
sheriff turned to the dusty, sun-bleached portrait in the heavy carved guilt
frame. “One of the previous owners, they say.” He shrugged. “The family history
kind of got lost with the house. Everyone around here calls her the Widow of
stood spellbound. The woman was dressed completely in black, but the
magnificence of the gown gave the impression of sophistication and class. Her
chin was slightly elevated as if to project strength, yet there was more than a
hint of sorrow and pain in her eyes.
looks so sad.” Katie spoke without removing her gaze. “And so young. How could
she be a widow?”
sheriff had already started to walk away, but he turned back and glanced at the
painting. “Not sure, but they say she never remarried. She’s the one out in the
cemetery, too, I reckon.”
heart suddenly struggled to beat. The anguish in the woman’s eyes kept her
riveted. She could see the pain. Feel a heart ripped apart. Something was
missing that could never be replaced. Katie had felt such loss before. In a
way, that’s why she was here.
heard the sheriff calling from the next room, and turned to follow. With one
quick glance back, she noticed particles of dust now swirled and danced in a
shaft of light, almost like a living thing. Her breath caught in her throat as
the dust seemed to materialize into the form of a woman, her eyes dull with the
same tortured despair and disbelief as the one in the portrait.
jerked her head around for a closer look and blinked. The woman was gone.
James believes in honor, duty, and true love—and that’s what she writes about
in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to
is a three-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and
has won more than a dozen other literary awards, including a Readers’ Favorite
International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of
America. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of
libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.
from The Beach House is a satiric work of fiction that sharply captures the
“Man-Bites-Dog” world of contemporary South Florida. The Beach House, a
crumbling old motel, is home to a collection of eccentric residents. Amongst
their ranks; a tennis pro at the end of his game, a mortuary scientist whose
love life has flat-lined, a paparazzo photographer searching for scoops, a
bawdy duo fronting an improbable Ponzi enterprise, a beauty from “The Islands”
with a dark secret, a fried-out TV weather man who claims to channel God, a
middle school principal with a soft spot for Crack, a Rod Stewart cover artist
searching for redemption, and a waitress serving a side order of erotic
fiction. Each member of this cohort is in search of something – fast money, an
easy hustle, fleeting romance, enduring love, fame, power, dignity, happiness…
a place they can call home. As well as facing their own tender, tragic, and
often hilarious personal circumstances, this eclectic gang is compelled by
necessity to band together when a sinister developer threatens the very
existence of The Beach House.
from FloriDuh! 7
#1 Greyhound Departure15
#2 Angel of Death 35
#3 Atlantic Crossing53
#4 Dirty Laundry 67
#5 The Wolf’s Lair 90
#6 Mayor of The Beach House111
#7 The Barbados Triangle126
#8 The Intersections of Florida Life142
#9 Mental as Anything169
#10 Midwestern Sensibilities195
#11 Fifty Shades of Delray219
#12 Walking on Lake Okeechobee237
Men from the North 260
Articulation of Particulars 287
Beach House 312
#12 Walking on Lake Okeechobee
Showers stood outside the front door of Apartment #12, drinking his morning
coffee. He drank only one hundred percent Hawaiian from the Ka’u region of the
Big Island. He never added milk or sugar. Any “junk” put into what he said was
the finest coffee in the world was, in his opinion, sacrilege.
was well versed in sacrilege; after all, he was a collared Man of God who often
told his flock that he personally channeled Jesus. From his elevated second-floor
corner position, Randy had a good view of the hive of activity around The Beach
House. Palm trees were bending in the force of strong, warm winds that were
blowing from the direction of the Everglades. A team of surveyors was measuring
up the property parcel with an array of fancy gadgets. A slow-moving and
confused-looking man from FPL was tagging and flagging the route of the gas
lines between the building and the street. A crew from Surf Way Developments
could be seen busily cleaning vulgar graffiti that had appeared on the
billboard advertising its new planned development – a large penis and balls in
flamingo-pink spray paint wasn’t exactly exuding the dream of luxury that would
soon be on offer in this locale. The swimming pool had already been drained and
cordoned off to save the Homeowners’ Association spending money on cleaning
services for the remainder of the building’s existence. All these events and
commotions only added to the general glumness and end-of-days feel circulating
around The Beach House.
the tenants had been served a thirty-days notice to vacate. Pete and Angel,
with their inside knowledge as owners, said it was almost certain that nothing
could be done to halt the sale, as it had been a binding majority of title
holders who had pushed through the deal. Paperwork had been processed, permits
pulled, and the City and State had all signed off on the condominium
termination and the replacement project. The city of Delray had been
overzealous in accommodating this development – no doubt seeing all the extra
dollars that increased assessment on the new building would bring to their
coffers. The State was also unexpectedly helpful. They hadn’t relished the
impending takeover of this dysfunctional Homeowners’ Association, as it would
have been real work for some happily underworked Tallahassee civil servants.
The owners were simply ecstatic to be rid of their real-estate headaches and
were united in satisfaction that the beasts that were Bessie and Gabriel, if
not slain, would soon become someone else’s problem.
people who lived at The Beach House and called that place home were, of course,
the real victims of this tragedy of events. Pete and Angel, not that they
wanted to leave The Beach House, would be paid out for their property and could
easily start afresh someplace else with the proceeds. Bessie and Gabriel would
be made homeless, but the consensus was that “you reap what you sow,” and this
entire mess was down to their crazy out-of-control antics. The remaining tenants
were in another situation altogether. With their bad credit, cheap rent deals,
police rap sheets, lack of references and short-term horizons, they would
struggle to find local digs where certain questions by landlords weren’t asked.
Tonight there was a residents’ meeting with the aim of attempting to halt the
redevelopment; but at best this was seen as a feel-good Hail Mary with little
chance of success and more likely just an excuse to have a party.
me Jesus,” were the strong and unchristian words that came from Reverend Randy
Showers’ mouth as he witnessed a fleet of police cars pulling up all around The
Beach House. They’ve finally nailed me, he thought. Randy, from his high-ground
vantage point, counted at least six vehicles, half marked, and the rest black
SUVs with blue lights bolted onto the roof. He slugged back the remainder of
his coffee knowing that, if he were lucky, he would be getting truck stop Joe
once they had hauled him to jail. Randy knew there was always a chance that
this day would come. Not only was there a likelihood that his past would catch
up with him, but there was also a looming menace that his present would bite
him firmly in the ass. At the very least, he was reassured that he was wearing
a pair of clean underpants and his hair looked good. A man with a C-list
celebrity resume and a local standing in the church community needed to look
cool and classy in the obligatory police mug shot.
a young, fresh-faced graduate with a liberal arts degree from a South Carolina
university, Randy, like many in his position, had no idea what job he was
equipped to do. After deep conversations with the careers department he could
only come up with a slush pile of jobs he had no interest in. Needing to pay
his way through life, he used his fallback good looks and his given name, and
signed himself up with a stripper agency.
was while working a bachelorette party, undressing as a character cop, that a
fortunate encounter would take place. On occasion, upon demand, he would give a
little “extra service” for a tip. It just so happened that the guest at this
party who had paid to play with his baton and cuffs was a high-flying female
television executive with local Charleston network WCIV. Upon getting up-close
and personal with his good looks and learning that Randy Showers was his real
name, the woman told him, “Do I have a job for you!” Randy was hired as an
on-camera weatherman for the local evening news. It didn’t matter that he had
no meteorological education or television experience. This job was all about
looking good in front of a camera and reading a teleprompter. However, the name
Randy Showers was the real clincher for this job, as it was the perfect catchy
byline for a primetime local television weatherman.
twenty-five years Randy was Mr. Weather in the Greater Charleston area. He
loved getting out of the studio for big events, such as standing on a beach and
being blown around in a hurricane, filing his report from a kayak floating on a
submerged street during a flood, or going on air shirtless during a heat wave.
For a man with zero formal training in this profession he was the consummate
local weatherman’s weatherman and won numerous regional awards. However, a local
weatherman is also expected to be a trusted pillar of the community, and this
part of the gig Randy only half-embraced. He was good at turning on Christmas
tree lights, opening new school libraries and being a member of that
bright-teethed WCIV team that delivered “dependable news”, but he had one major
off-screen flaw – he was a crazed womanizer with a chronic sex addiction. Randy
was amazed at just how much of a pull being a local television weatherman was
to the ladies. Interns, fellow anchors, women he encountered on promotional
appearances and generally anything in a skirt he chased. For twenty-five years
his employers somehow managed to pay no attention to the ethics clause in his
contract, and like a modern-day Don Juan, Randy thought nothing could ever put
a stop to his bed-hopping ways.
Randy kept his looks as youthful as possible with tax-deductable investments in
hair plugs, dental veneers and Botox, these weren’t enough to defy a changing
environment. It was a slightly sleazy and embarrassing affair that had been
brought to the attention of a new generation of station executives that would
lead to his downfall.
a Friday-night live weather report broadcast from a local High School football
game, Randy managed to lure and subsequently corrupt two teenage cheerleaders.
In his defense, they may have been sixteen but he swore they had the bodies of
eighteen year olds and were experienced in the ways of pleasing a man like a
woman of thirty. It was not the first time that Randy had descended on the
slippery slope of jailbait, but it wasn’t so easy in the modern era to get away
with it when the girls posted incriminating evidence on Facebook. Possibly it
was all used as an excuse by management to bring in a cheaper, younger guy. Perhaps
it really was a different era where feminist ethics were not only preached but
also practiced. The parents came to a deal with the station. Randy was released
from his contract, the cheerleaders were given hush money and the hope was that
the authorities and the women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred would stay well
away. However, there was a statue of limitations that had not expired, and in
the eyes of the law it was rape, and a payoff would not save him if the girls
ever chose to press charges.
many shamed criminals who had escaped hard time, Randy headed to Florida for a
fresh start. He knew he would never be hired as a weatherman again, as he was
too old and too many questions about his past would be asked. The only other
career that he had not tried that fitted in with his catchy name was that of a
porn star. Randy was realistic though, and his stamina and girth were just not
up to par. Not wanting to put to waste the investments he had made in that
artificial television smile and lush carpet of unnatural hair, he did the only
thing he thought he was suited for… he started a church ministry.
Showers, a name he could legally use after the religious crash-course
certification he found on the back pages of the National Enquirer, had a good
ring to it. He chose a poor African-American area of inland Palm Beach County
to start his church, as the black community was religious and would be
enthralled by a minor white celebrity priest. However, more importantly,
ebony-skinned women were not his thing, so he wouldn’t have to worry about
letting his dick interfere with God’s work.
premises he sublet an underused synagogue. Most of the Jews in that area had
moved to better parts of the county and this temple currently sat empty. He had
been running his Rainbow Church for just over two years and he would modestly
say in public that it had been a great success. In private, though, he would
admit that it was all a bit of a racket. Reverend Showers was little more than
a smarmy middle-aged snake-oil salesman who, if he weren’t selling God to the
gullible, would be selling those same people timeshares on the beach.
had one unfulfilled ambition – he wanted to make it big on a national level.
Back in his heyday he had applied for network weather jobs but was never
successful. He blamed these fruitless attempts on not having a diverse look,
never thinking it could have anything to do with a lack of scientific training.
So Randy viewed his new ministry as a way of finally becoming a household
celebrity. All he needed to take himself into the top division of
men-of-the-cloth was to perform a miracle. The one he had in mind was walking
on water, and not just any body of water but Florida’s own Lake Okeechobee.
Randy was certain that if he could make it appear that he was gliding over
Florida’s largest lake, the national attention would elevate him to the type of
riches that even network weatherman could only dream of. Randy was now devoting
all his time and money into making this illusion happen. He had reached out to
David Copperfield for help and was studying expensive manuals by magicians, as
he knew there had to be a way to make this miraculous feat occur.
was Randy’s consuming devotion to performing this miracle that could have been
another reason for his impending arrest, as he was guilty of theft and
embezzlement from his church. The donations that his devoted parishioners put
in his tray were diverted straight into his pocket. Admittedly, some of it was
used to keep the lights on at the church, but the majority was for his living
expenses and funding the continued exploration of performing his illusion.
the police descended on The Beach House, Randy’s main thought was what lawyer
he would use. The charge of statutory rape would be easy to defend, as he could
find one of those mud-slinging vultures who would paint a picture of those two
fresh-faced cheerleaders as the dirtiest harlots in the whole of Charleston.
The church embezzlement charges would be a little trickier to evade. Randy
hadn’t hidden the money trail very well, often paying for hair-restoration
treatment directly from the ministry’s checking account. Then there were the
escort girls who were on the church books. That would also be a problem. At the
start of his “Finding the Lord” phase, Randy had worked out that the best way
of staying out of trouble was to relieve any extra holy spirit via paid ladies.
the light of day, Randy’s activities looked uglier than a bag of hairless cats
and he might just have to plead guilty and strike a deal. Whatever happened, it
would be hard to escape from this monster of a self-created mess. What then for
him? A man who had fallen from grace for two heinous successive “lapses of
judgment” would be somewhat challenged to find a new place in the world. It
would certainly be hard to live off his connection with Jesus again, although
he would have name recognition and good looks for a man of his age so he could
always try his hand at politics. That seemed to be an eternally forgiving line
of work. Randy was amazed just how much clarity he was having in what was
likely to be his final thirty seconds of freedom.
Aylott was previously a Hollywood paparazzo photographer and staffer at an
American supermarket tabloid. This is the author’s first work of fiction,
although he was often creative in his career of entertainment newsgathering and
hated letting the truth interfere with a good story. A prior resident of Delray
Beach, Florida he is currently embedded in St. Louis, Missouri researching his
follow up novel: Tales of Whiskey Tango from Misery Towers.
While searching for clues to her past, shy single mum, Bree Mills discovers a subculture of aliens with supernatural abilities living on Earth.
And she’s one of them.
Finding herself hurled into a world of possibilities, it’s made more alluring by Quinn Taylor, the violet-eyed Evoxian from her childhood dreams.
324-year-old Quinn knows his destiny is entwined with Bree’s, but before he can confess his love, he must wait for her to sense the Akui, a mysterious force tied with ancient Evoxian law.
At a Cotswolds country manor, passions awaken and ignite a love more magical than the once-Utopian planet, Evox. Then Fate delivers a cruel and heart-breaking blow when Bree is kidnapped by a malicious alien who wants her and her power.
Will Quinn still love her when she’s faced with protecting her half-human daughter… whatever the cost?
“I know it must seem impossible to believe, but please give me a chance to explain.” Quinn’s amethyst gaze never left hers. “Haven’t you always felt different to everyone else? Did you ever wonder why your eyes are an unusual colour?”
Bree blinked like a stupid airhead.
“I know you sensed the connection to your talisman; surely you can’t deny that?”
Something tugged inside. Despite her fear, her confusion, and the craziness of what he’d told her, she controlled the impulse to run.
She could answer yes to every question, hell yes, but it didn’t mean she came from another planet…did it?
Her head spun. Erratic thoughts swirled like dust motes caught in a breeze. She was a single mum, slightly odd maybe, but living an ordinary, uneventful life, or at least trying to. How could this be happening? Beads of sweat dampened her brow, her neck. Could it be true?
“Let me show you something, then you can decide. Would you give me your talisman, please?”
With no idea why, Bree took off the pendant and handed it to him, flicking her tongue across lips that were drier than the Sahara.
He tilted his head in the direction of the small table. “Sit down and I’ll prove it to you.”
With her legs buckling at the knees, she had no choice but to do as he asked.
Quinn closed the curtains, blocking the bright shaft of sunlight, then sat in the seat opposite. His intoxicating scent, sandalwood, soap and the faintest whiff of zesty orange shampoo filled her senses, made her insides fizz with anticipation. “Hold both hands out, please, palms upwards on the table.”
Bree wiped her clammy palms on her jeans. Yep, I’m the crazy one here.
“Okay, try to relax.”
Un-bloody-believable. How the hell was she supposed to relax? Not to mention the touch of his hot, dry hand was playing havoc with her pulse rate.
About the Author
Abbey MacMunn writes paranormal and fantasy romance. She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband and their four children.
When she’s not writing, she likes to watch films and TV shows – anything from rom-coms to superheroes to science fiction movies.
She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.