(The link is here to find this week’s excerpts from novels or WIP written by other Science Fiction Romance Brigade group members. A fun way to sample new books!)
From my SFR Galaxy Award winning novel, loosely inspired by the Sepoy incident in 1857 but set on another planet in the far future….
In the last few weeks I gave you the opening of the book and then as Andi has returned from the wedding of the Planetary High Lord’s daughter to her host’s summer home, she found a squad of Sectors Special Forces soldiers waiting. The officer in charge, Tom Deverane, claimed they’d come to rescue her and needed to leave at once. Unconvinced, she argued. And as it turned out, they couldn’t leave right away. So of course the conflict breaks out at the worst possible moment…
I’m skipping quite a bit of the action because SPOILERS. This incident takes place as the party continues to make their way through enemy territory.
“We should go help them.” The urgent thought impelled Andi to her feet, and she took a step or two in the direction the scouts had just come from.
Tom moved fast, grabbing her elbow hard and glaring down at her. “I thought I told you—more than once—my primary orders don’t allow me the discretion to go around the countryside rescuing everyone in distress.” He spaced out each word for emphasis. “I have to get back to the capital. We’ve got vital information that could stop the entire planet from descending into war. I can’t conduct firefights and rescue individuals. You were an exception because someone somewhere pulled a lot of rank and got special orders issued. Okay?”
Biting her lip, Andi flushed and jerked her elbow away from him. I wish he wouldn’t keep rubbing it in my face that I got special treatment. I didn’t ask for him to come rescue me.
Apparently satisfied she wasn’t going to argue, Tom’s next remark was addressed to the waiting sergeant. “How many hostiles?”
“Fifteen. Armed with standard planetary-issue weapons, from what we could see.” Rogers nodded his agreement with Wilson’s rapid assessment. “No heavy stuff. No Sectors contraband. We could take them, sir.”
Brow furrowing, Tom glared at Wilson. “We have to stay on mission here. You’re starting to sound like her.” He jerked his thumb at Andi. “I need a reason to break our rules of engagement.”
Wilson looked at Rogers, getting no help from him beyond a sheepish shrug. Turning back to the captain, the sergeant continued to plead his case. “They’re roughing up a bunch of priests, sir. Defenseless noncombatants. Don’t seem right to walk away, orders or no orders. I…can’t explain it any better.”
Tom pulled out his blaster and checked the charge. “All right, I’ll commit to going and assessing the potential for intervention.” He fixed Andi with a stern gaze. “I am not promising to intervene. So don’t push it, Miss Markriss.”
Afraid to say anything and risk changing his mind, she simply nodded. From what she’d seen of Tom so far, he’d intervene all right. Soft heart inside a very tough exterior.
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.