I’m a proud member of the SFR Brigade so I thought this week I’d take part in the weekly excerpts blog hop. (The link is here to find other excerpts from novels or WIP written by group members.) The rule is 200 words or less, so here goes with the first 200 words of my Best Selling SFR novel ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE. (The story blurb is below the excerpt.) The heroine, Andi Markriss, is taking part in a ceremony:
This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever done as assistant planetary agent for Loxton Galactic Trading—standing in as a bridesmaid in a borrowed puce dress because some other girl failed to show up. Andi Markriss sighed, feeling the garment binding too tight across her chest. I didn’t mind representing the company as a guest, but this is way outside the line of duty.
Early afternoon on Zulaire was too warm for an outdoor ceremony, but the Planetary High Lord’s spoiled daughter Lysanda didn’t care to be ready any earlier in the day. Her guests’ comfort wasn’t a consideration.
An inch at a time, Andi shifted from her assigned spot into the shade cast by the towering stone pillars. How did I get talked into this? Oh, yes, Lysanda wept, and her mother made vague threats about her husband reviewing our shipping contracts. As the musicians played, Andi turned, watching Lysanda pace toward the dais in time to the music, smiling for her groom-to-be.
The local priest took a deep breath and launched into a lengthy blessing, invoking the deity and relating the history of the planet’s three Clans—Obati, Shenti and Naranti. Andi chanted along with him under her breath. Overlords, Second Class and Neutrals, as her boss had told her when she’d arrived on Zulaire six years ago. Easy to keep them straight that way, he’d said, but don’t ever slip and use the nicknames out loud.
Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.
Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.
That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.
Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.
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