Piloting Fury: Part 17 Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday everyone! Time for more Fury. Let’s all escape to deep space for a little relief from the stress of our own space. I don’t know about you lovelies, but a good rollicking read is the best sanity saver.  As I mentioned last week, I’m self-medicating with NaNoWriMo. for a writer writing a new novel is as much of a sanity saving escape as a good read. I do confess, however, to suffering from sleep deprivation while my characters keep me up late and get me up early for lots of caffeine and an extra hour or two of writing. In the worlds I create, I am god. 🙂 The new Medusa Consortium novel is coming along nicely, and it’s great to be back with Magda and the gang.

I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 17th week. If you are, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Today Mac and Manning arrive on Plague One and meet someone from Mac’s nightmare past. Happy reading, and stay safe out there!

 

 

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAlister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.

 

Piloting Fury 17: Plague One Surprise

For the briefest of moments, I simply didn’t exist, and then I blinked back into my own skin freezing my ass off in the middle of a blizzard. Manning still held onto me, which was just as well because I wasn’t entirely sure without him as anchor I wouldn’t just blow away in the storm. He guided me right into a solid wall of ice. I caught my breath with a gasp of surprise as he pulled me through the illusion and into an airlock, which was opened from the inside by a one-armed man in clothing replicated to resemble the Old Terran mid-20thcentury. His t-shirt was covered in splashes of color along with the words ‘Make Love Not War’ superimposed over the peace symbol so popular in that time. One sleeve was empty, neatly folded over and pinned the to shoulder of the shirt. A gnarled twist of puckered scars climbed out of the neck of the t-shirt and up around the side of his face to disappear in the shoulder-length scraggle of graying brown hair. I recognized the results of late stage SNT, but the loss of an arm and the scarring belonged to a man who seemed absolutely healthy otherwise. I could only assume that he was another survivor who had been treated with the vaccine.

“Richard, good to see you again.” With a very pronounced limp, the man shambled forward and gave Manning a one-armed hug, which Manning returned with gusto.

“Vic. Been awhile.” He pulled away and turned to me. “This is Diana –”

“Diana McAllister.” The man turned fever-bright brown eyes on me and offered a beatific smile. He extended his hand. “Aden McAllister’s little girl,” he said. “You have your father’s eyes.”

My knees would have given beneath me if it hadn’t been for Manning’s arm slipping supportively around my waist. “You knew my father.”

“I knew him, and I knew the Merlin.” He gave my hand a hard squeeze and held my gaze. “I bonded them.”

“Jesus!” I pulled away so quickly that I nearly knocked Manning off balance. “Vic? You’re Victor Keen? You did that to him. It was your fault.”

Keen looked from Manning to me and back again, and stepped away, color climbing his scarred throat. “You haven’t told her?”

“We weren’t planning on making this stop, Vic, and I wasn’t exactly expecting you to be the greeting party.

“What the hell are you doing here?” I stepped forward ready to punch the bastard, crippled or not, but Manning pulled me back. “Haven’t you done enough damage?”

“Professor Keen is here because he’s an indentured, just like everyone else.”

“Not like everyone else,” the man said, his face darkening and his shoulders drooping noticeably. “Tell her the truth, Richard. Not like everyone else at all.”

“You tell her the truth, Vic. It’s your truth to tell, but,” Manning gave a glance around, “this is not the discussion to have in the airlock. Please, Mac,” he turned to me. “I promise you’ll get the whole story but not out here.” He grabbed me by the shoulder and gave Keen an apologetic looked. I wanted to kick him in the balls for it, but he might have suspected as much. He reeled me in close enough that I could do no damage and spoke next to my ear. “You’re about to do something you’ll seriously regret. Wait for the facts. That’s all I’m asking.”

I squared my shoulder and gave a jerk of my head that would have to do for
agreement. I wanted to hear the bastard’s story. Oh yes, I wanted to hear every bloody detail, and then I wanted to rip his other fucking arm off and let him bleed out. I knew what he had done. I knew every goddamn detail – way more than most, because the Merlin was the only SNT whose humanoid compliment fathered a child, who just happened to be onboard when the world fell apart.

The SNT15s were designed to fly deep space missions with a compliment of only one humanoid. There were just fifteen of them ever made. They were powerful, outrageously fast and versatile ships that would give any pilot wet dreams. In spite of having only a crew of one, they were stripped down and streamlined to have lots of cargo space to carry heavy equipment for colonization, supplies, even humanoids if necessary. In fact everything to begin a new colony, along with the colonists themselves could comfortably be transported on one properly outfitted SNT. They were all equipped with cloaking technology and a full array of weapons – weapons to be used only for defensive purposes, weapons that were controlled by the ship, not the pilot, effectively doing away with human error.

The thing about the SNTs was that they were more than just metal alloys and computer components.They were organic at their core, and they were sentient. They were programmed to see long-range outcomes that would eventually lead to peace rather than escalation. Because the SNT project was overseen by the few remaining Free Universities and funded privately with no aid or ties to the conglomerates, the general population of the Consortium of Planets saw the SNTs as the dawn of a new age. The ships, with their bonded humanoid compliment, had the power to end conflicts, negotiate treaties beneficial to all parties and use their resources for further exploration and colonization to everyone’s benefit. They offered a galaxy reeling beneath the weight of petty wars, conglomerate greed and indentured servitude a new beginning. That was the dream, but all too quickly it became the Consortium’s worst nightmare, one that the shackle in my left arm assured I could never walk away from.

These past two days had forced everything I’d spent years trying to suppress back to
the surface, and now here I stood on Plague One, the hellhole of the galaxy with the man responsible for the whole SNT debacle.

Manning and Keen spoke quietly among themselves, and I ignored them, lost in my own thoughts. I remembered only too well how the age of the SNTs ended. Victor Keen and his team had biologically bonded fifteen humanoids — all of whom had volunteered for the irreversible procedure that integrated their brains and central nervous systems into the sentient ships. The procedure effectively and permanently tetheredthe ship to its humanoid component.

My father was not only one of the volunteers, my father was the SNT fleet commander, and no one was more proud that I was. I understood the opportunity. I understood that he, and me by association, were on the cutting edge of science and the evolution of a better society, a society that eventually would have no need for indentureds. Hell, as a child, I used to fantasize about growing up to be bonded to a ship of my own in a future generation of SNTs.

In that brave new beginning, Keen’s science didn’t take into account the psychological factors of that integration. If a mentally unstable humanoid can be dangerous, imagine how much more so a heavily armed star ship with a mind of its own? My father had died as a result, and I would have died too, should have died, except for a quirk of fate that left me both orphaned and indentured to a monster.

The first ship to go rogue was the Peregrine. It suffocated its human cargo of refugees from the conflicts on the New American outposts, blew its pilot out the airlock and destroyed four colonies and a space station on the Inner Rim before it was disintegrated by the Dubrovnik’s protective mol-canons. The modified canons were a gamble that an SNT would not anticipate an attack from a freighter.

My father died when the Merlin was blown to bits by the Alvarez, an Authority warship that should have been easy for the Merlin to defeat. But my father and the Merlin chose not to fight back. I was the only survivor. That was when Keen’s flawed science first came to light. Somehow, and no one ever figured out just how, the SNTs were extremely susceptible to the virus engineered for the shackles of indentureds. Somehow they had become infected. The virus destroyed the part of the ships biotechnical brain programmed to protect humanoid life. The end result was mass destruction on a scale no one could have imagined.

It was all because of the virus. That was what the Authority scientists had told everyone after the destruction of the Peregrine. Several of the ships were decommissioned without incident, several more were destroyed in boarder skirmishes on the edge of the Rim. After two more incidents and countless deaths, the rest of the SNTs were destroyed or decommissioned and taken secretly to remote space docks where they’d been either impounded or taken apart. That was not an easy task. The biological brains at the heart of the ships had a very powerful survival instinct. No one actually knew how many had been destroyed or rendered harmless. What I knew was that visions of those ships and the horrors they caused still haunted my nightmares.

I had been so pulled into the memories of a past that I was unaware of our surroundings until I realized I was sweating inside the parka and that the world had suddenly gotten brighter as we stepped through the airlock into what felt like bright sunlight.

“Welcome to Pandora Base,” Keen said, and in spite of his distress at what had just passed between us, he couldn’t hide his pride in the place that, while not exactly a paradise, wasn’t far from it. I could do nothing but stand and gape. “Plague One doesn’t exist anymore. Hasn’t for a long time now,” Keen hurried on to say, probably figuring to take advantage of my good graces.

“What about the SNT victims?” I asked.

“The ones on Pandora Base have all been cured,” and then his face darkened. “The ones who survived the horrible early years, that is. A new generation has been born here, a generation that would have been born into indentured servitude had the Authority gotten wind of what was going on here. So we prefer it if people still believe we’re Dante’s vision of Hell.”

“And this is your penance?” I asked.

He flinched, then squared his shoulders. “In part, I suppose.”

“If all the indentureds on Plague One have been cured, then why did we just deliver serum?” I questioned.

“You brought with you a dozen SNT survivors, also,” Keen said. “We’re a refuge, the safe place to which ships like the Svalbard can bring survivors, the place they can get treatment, so we keep a supply on hand. As for the whiskey,” he offered a tentative smile, “well while we’re very self-sufficient, we’ve not managed to increase the size of the biosphere to include luxury items like grains for fermentation. At least not yet. Follow me.” He nodded down what looked like the main street of a town straight from Old Terran middle America of the 1960s. “I know you’re on a tight schedule, but you’ve got time for meal before you head for Outer Kingston.” He turned to me. “And your explanation, Diana. The truth.”

 

 

Piloting Fury: Part 16 Brand New KDG Read

After a two-week hiatus, I’m back! It’s Friday and that means time for more Fury. As if Covid wasn’t enough of a reason to seek distraction, we can add a harrowing election week, with more nail biting to come. Bring on a little escapism, I say! And I’m happy to provide. As is my usual November habit, I’m self-medicating with NaNoWriMo, always a wonderful distraction for a writer. I’m working on a new Medusa Consortium novel while editing another. Yes, writers are, indeed, self-entertaining.

I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 16th week. If you are, please share the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. In this episode, Manning tries to convince Mac that visiting a plague planet is a good idea. Happy reading, and stay safe out there!

 

 

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAlister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.

 

Piloting Fury 16: Some Persuasion Necessary

The Svalbard departed at 0:600 with coordinates laid in for the Isle of Dogs through the McAllister Wormhole. The Fury set course for Plague One, with me dreading it as though I were going to my own execution. It was the first and the most desolate of the plague planets, one that was all but forgotten now. It had been ignored long enough that there were no more consciences in need of salving and no more drains from the Authority’s coffers for the conservatives to rant about. As far as anyone knew, there was no funding to cut. It was barely habitable when the Authority had first begun to use it. The transport of infected to Plague One had stopped years ago due to overcrowding of the parts that werehabitable. There had been an outcry from the collective guilty consciences of the general population when a film had been smuggled out revealing just how bad conditions were on Plague One. The place chosen to be the new plague planet was practically a paradise by comparison, but too small and too remote to be of any real value in the interstellar real estate grab.

A plan had been made for the mass relocation of the indentureds on Plague One, but of course it didn’t pass the vote of the Central Aggregate. The costs were prohibitive, and besides these people were criminals anyway in the eyes of the law. Money was never allocated. The heated debate became lukewarm, the film became yesterday’s news, and everyone turned a blind eye.

By the time I was born, automated freighters sent supplies periodically, and no one, not even infected indentureds went there. They were all sent to Plague Two and Plague Three and all three had minimal contact with the rest of the Authority. There had been efforts to make Plague Two and Three self-sufficient, but most people knew that just meant no one wanted to bother any longer. In fact, rumour even had it, by the time I was born, that there was no one left alive on Plague One. And yet that was our destination. Even the Fury felt sad beneath my fingertips as I laid in the coordinates. “I’m sorry,” I whispered, stroking the console gently.

I looked up to find Manning watching me. “If I wasn’t already well and truly convinced you were a pilot, I am now,” he said with a quirk of a smile.

“Most pilots their ship far better company than its crew,” I replied, grabbing up my device to check out the quickest routes away from Plague One once we were finished there.

He only nodded and scratched at the stubble on his chin. “Can’t argue much with that. Fury’s always been good company. Have you eaten?”

“I’m not hungry.” I spoke between barely parted lips and pretended to be focused on my device.

“I don’t care. You’re weakened from the experiences of the last day, and I know your stomach is empty.” I blushed at the reminder that the man had seen me hurling my guts. He continued. “Mac, you know the virus isn’t contagious, but there are plenty of other reasons I need you strong.”

“I can’t.” I stood hoping to escape to the map room before he could badger me further. But he grabbed my arm.

“That’s an order, not a request.”

“I can’t,” I repeated, more urgently. “Not after the dream. I can never keep anything down after that, and not after this.” I nodded to the console where I’d just input the route to Plague One.”

When I tried to pull away, he held me. “You have to eat. I need you strong. Now come on.” He all but dragged me to the galley, where he nodded me to the table and programmed the replicator. “You like chocolate don’t you, Mac?”

I made a non-committal grunt, just as the smell of coffee hit the back of my sinuses and the abused muscles deep in my belly tensed for it. But to my surprise, it actually smelled good, and I drew in a deep breath. He sat the cup in front of me. “The warmth is always comforting. Just hold it and smell it for a few seconds. It always helps me.” I did as he ordered.

“What, is this part of your hangover cure?”

He didn’t respond, but I noticed the tightness in his shoulders, the way he flinched at my words. “The dream. You have it often?” He asked as he settled in next to me with a bowl of chocolate pudding.

“Not any more, I don’t. Not since I was transferred to the Dubrovnik. I suppose considering everything that’s happened and with the Svalbard and all it brought back … things.”

“You wanna talk about it?”

“They couldn’t eat.” I hadn’t intended to say anything but the words were out before I could stop them, and the lump in my throat brought with it the threat of tears. “Some of the people with advanced SNT couldn’t eat. I saw them on Plague 3. Fallon made sure I did.”

“I’m sorry, Mac.” Manning held me in a sympathetic gaze.

“I couldn’t eat either.” I looked down into the warm black coffee. “After he took me back home. I … for over a week I couldn’t … I couldn’t eat. I tried. Really I did. And then, Fallon had me taken to the infirmary and they force fed me. They did that every time it happened, the dream, I mean.” The room swam before my eyes and I cursed myself. I didn’t want Manning of all people seeing me like this.

“Fuck,” he whispered in a harsh breath. He shoved back the chair with such force that he nearly upset it, and he began pacing the room. I clutched the cup tighter and watched him, feeling small and miserable.

Then he plopped down beside me again. “Mac, I’m not Fallon. You need to know that right up front.” He ran a trembling hand through his hair and looked around the galley as though he were expecting to find answers maybe over by the replicator. “What happened with the Svalbard, that was unexpected. I never intended to expose you to that. I never intended to make this difficult for you. But things happen, Mac. Shitty things. If anybody knows that you do. He took the cup from me and sat it on the table sloshing it across the pristine surface. “Listen to me,” he cupped my face in his hands. “I’m not Fallon, and you’re not staying behind on a Plague Planet. I’m responsible for your care and well-being, and I take that seriously, Mac, do you hear me. I take that seriously.” He pushed the hair away from my face. “We all get lost in the past sometimes, and it’s never a good place to be, and things like this, like with the Svaldbard, well they just serve to remind us that it is the past. We’re here, now, and moving forward. Stay in the present, Mac. Stay with me and Fury, and you’ll be okay. You’ll be just fine.” He released me and dipped up a huge spoonful of pudding, half of which ended up on the table before he made it to my mouth. I opened for it. I ate it, and it was good.

“It’ll be okay.” He said after I’d eaten a few more bites. “I promise it’ll be okay, Mac. Just stay right here with me and Fury and it’ll be okay.”

It took less than three chronographic hours to get to Plague One. We had seen that all our passengers were fed and cared for, and indeed, all of the SNT victims were massively improved. I pulled out of hyperspace with my stomach in a double knot. Not wanting to be alone with my thoughts, I was busy making small-talk to Fury when Manning joined me on the deck swathed in a heavy parka. He held out its twin for me.

“You’ll need this until we get to Pandora Base. It’s colder than a witch’s tit out there. But at least you won’t need life support. The atmosphere is massively improved.”

The air on Plague One had been unbreatheable back in the early days because of the burning of the dead. He added quickly, “there are very few dead these days, Mac.”

“Rick, we’re all ready,” came Stanislovski’s voice over the com.

Still holding my gaze, he answered. “How many mol-trans outs?”

“Just one. Pandora Base has upgraded since you were last here. The mol-tran can take passengers and the cargo, no worries.”

“Plague One has mol-tran tech?” I managed after a few fish gasps.

“Have had for a long time now. Technically they don’t belong to the Authority because the Authority believes there’s no one left alive here. You’d be amazed what a blessing that’s been.”

“That means we don’t have to go down. That means we can just leave once everyone’s been mol-tranned out.” I nodded down to the computer. “There’s a major planet-wide storm about to hit, and Fury doesn’t want to be in the upper atmosphere when it does.”

“Don’t worry. We won’t get caught.” He held the parka out for me to slide into. “But there are things I have to take care of, Mac, and things that you’ll need to see. Things that might ease your discomfort considerably.”

“All clear,” came the reply on the com. Then there was a squawk and a wheeze and all was silent.

I back stepped. “I don’t need to see anything, honest I don’t. I’m okay with just waiting here with Fury, you know, getting better acquainted.”

In one quick movement, Manning swathed me in the parka until I had no choice but
to shove my arm through the holes as he zipped me in and pulled up the hood. With my heart racing faster that Fury’s hyper jump engines, I stood facing him, not able to meet his gaze.

“Mac,” he lifted my chin on the crook of his finger. “You need to go down.” He brushed my lower lip with the tip of his thumb and I was suddenly dangerously close to tears. “It’ll be okay. I promise.” Holding my hand tightly, he opened the com. “Pandora base, two to mol-tran.” Then he pulled me into a tight embrace. “It’ll be fine,” he whispered again before the deck of the Fury vanished.

 

 

OUT NOW IN AUDIO—Moonstone by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) and Narrated by Frankie Holland (@voiceoffholland) #eroticromance #reverseharem #rh #whychoose #rhromance #audio #audiobooks #audible

Blurb:

Christmas gifts aren’t the only surprises Ginny is going to get this year.

Moonstone Guinevere ‘Ginny’ Miles is in Silver Springs visiting her parents for the holidays. They moved to the town five years ago, and adore their new life here. Used to the hustle and bustle of London, England, Ginny isn’t convinced at first—what’s so great about a small town in Upstate New York, anyway? Despite her own opinions, it’s clear to Ginny the move has done her parents the world of good—they look years younger. There’s clearly something magical about this town.

Following some exploration of her own, Ginny discovers Silver Springs has its charms—Jewels Cafe is amazing, for starters, as is its pumpkin spice latte. Ginny’s drunk a lot of lattes in her thirty-three years, but nothing quite like this.

Her taste buds are still tingling from the tasty treat when she comes across a broken-down truck on the way back to her parents’ place. And when she spots the three gorgeous guys with the vehicle, it’s not just her taste buds that are tingling.

Is Ginny’s vacation in Silver Springs about to get a whole lot more interesting?

Moonstone is a standalone contemporary reverse harem romance. It is part of the Jewels Cafe series.

Listen here:

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Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2HA8TAm

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Authors Direct: https://shop.authors-direct.com/products/moonstone-a-contemporary-reverse-harem-romance

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/audiobook/id1528498339

Barnes & Noble: https://www.nookaudiobooks.com/audiobook/1019852/Moonstone

Chirp: https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/moonstone-by-lucy-felthouse

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Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/Lucy_Felthouse_Moonstone?id=AQAAAEAcwgSCCM

HiBooks: https://www.hibooks.com/discover/audiobook/moonstone-1

Hoopla: https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/13581172

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/audiobook/473165358/Moonstone-A-Contemporary-Reverse-Harem-Romance

 

*The audiobook is also available via many library systems, so if you listen through your library, please do contact them and find out if Moonstone can be added to their catalogue!

*****

Excerpt:

Moonstone Guinevere Miles—known as Ginny to people who didn’t want to incur her fierce and everlasting wrath—heaved her suitcase off the luggage reclaim belt with an “Oof!” and placed it on the floor, a sigh of relief escaping her. At least the thing had wheels—she didn’t really have the energy for carrying a heavy suitcase all the way through Customs and out to Arrivals. The long, tiring flight had seen to that.

No matter how much she tried, no matter how exhausted she was, she simply could not fall asleep on a plane. Ever. Eye mask, ear plugs, meditation, bloody whale music—nothing helped. She’d long since resigned herself to staying awake while snores from other passengers emanated around the cabin. At least it had only been about seven and a half hours since taking off from Heathrow—she couldn’t imagine what state she’d be in if she ever flew any longer than that—to Australia, New Zealand or somewhere.

Doubtful that would ever happen, though. It had taken long enough for her to get her backside out to the east coast of America, where her parents had been running a retreat since retiring five years ago. But then, things were different now, weren’t they? Which was why she was even here in the first place—it wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Thinking of her parents brought an inevitable smile to her face, and inserted a little more spring in her step. Despite the energy and mood suck that had been the flight, she was excited to be here. She was eager to see her parents, and to find out exactly what they’d built up over the last five years. She’d seen photos and videos, but it wasn’t the same as actually being there.

When they’d first announced they were using their retirement nest egg to open a retreat in Upstate New York, she’d been floored. Who the hell retires, only to take on a massive project like that? Surely the whole point of retiring is to wind down, enjoy some free time, relax? But no, her mum and dad—who, to be fair, had never been what one would call conventional—had set their hearts on it. They’d had a huge purge of their belongings, sold their cars and house, and jetted off across the pond, leaving Ginny shocked and not a little bereft. She’d been used to having them close by and had quickly realized just how much she’d taken that for granted.

At the same time, her career as a chef had taken off and she’d become so busy that her parents’ sudden distance hadn’t made the blindest bit of difference. She barely saw the inside of her own flat, never mind her friends and family. This was the first Christmas she’d had off work since then, too, and she was looking forward to spending it with her parents more than she could put into words. They’d been big on the festive period ever since she was a baby, and as such, Ginny’s brain was stuffed full of warm, fuzzy memories of Christmases past. They’d been useful to get her through the last five crappy ones, too, where a microwaved ready meal was the best she could hope for, if she hadn’t managed to wangle a free meal from the place she’d been working at at the time.

Her smile widened, and she walked faster still—God, just how big is this bloody airport?—desperate to see her mum and dad and start the Christmas holiday with a bang. Anticipation rushed through her. They’d have turkey and roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, mounds of vegetables, desserts laden with enough calories to last them until Valentine’s Day, Christmas carols, amazing decorations, a beautiful tree, fairy lights…

And Santa Claus. Two of them, in fact, jumping up and down enthusiastically and waving wildly at her, with not a rotund belly in sight.

Ginny was so excited, she couldn’t even be bothered with the embarrassment she might have felt at being greeted in a public place by her parents dressed up in Santa outfits. Plus, nobody knew her here anyway, so who cared?

She scurried around the barrier, almost flipping her case in her haste to turn a corner, then covered the remaining distance between them in seconds flat and released the handle of her suitcase. A series of squeals and exclamations went up—from all three of them—and then everything went dark as Ginny was enveloped in a warm, fluffy embrace, her face crushed up against what she suspected was the white fur trim on her mother’s jacket, and kisses rained down on her. It was all she could do to suck in oxygen as she was squeezed and squeezed them right back. She was assailed by the scents of clean clothes, shampoo, perfume, and cologne—all perfectly lovely smells by themselves, but somewhat overwhelming all at once. Unintelligible murmurings reached her ears, but she didn’t bother to reply since she had no idea what was being said. And she didn’t need words, anyway. All she needed at that moment in time was to soak up the enormous outpouring of love she was experiencing.

She was so bloody happy, she thought she might pop.

*****

Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight, and The Heiress’s Harem and The Dreadnoughts series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Join her Facebook group for exclusive cover reveals, sneak peeks and more! Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Piloting Fury Part 15: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday and that means time for more Fury. A cheerful hello, while I eat my morning porridge. I hope you’re all settling into Autumn with lovely walks in the glorious changing colours and much good reading. Isn’t that just the best part of this changeable season?

I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 15th week. If you are, please share the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. In this episode, Captain Harker recalls how Diana McAllister ended up the pilot of the Dubrovnik.

 

 

 

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAlister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.

 

Harker Remembers

He disposed of the trifle and moved to look out the portal into the blackness of space. He’d always found comfort in it. It had always felt like home to him. That humanoids had extended their consciousness out into the far reaches of its inhospitable darkness had always given him hope, made him feel proud. At least until recently. Be safe little girl, he spoke the words in his head, the only place it was safe to speak them. Diana Mac had always seemed like a little girl to him from the instant he first saw her, a young woman in a scrawny, undernourished body, frail enough that he feared a breeze might blow her away. And in spite of her condition, it had been her raw, uncompromising strength of will, courage to endure, that had astounded him. Her dark hair had been shorn so close to her head that, in her malnourished state, she could have passed for a boy. And even after she had put some meat on her bones and her hair had grown thick and glossy, those large blue eyes, her father’s eyes, dominated the landscape of a beautiful face that belied the horrors, the ugliness she had endured. Little girl … even after she had grown strong and healthy in her new life, the name had stuck.

Only he called her little girl. Nicknames were a captain’s privilege. The rest of the crew called her Pilot because they didn’t know what else to call the indentured woman who could pilot anything, find any route, guide them through meteor storms and asteroid fields like they were floating on a sea of glass. They didn’t know what else to call a woman whose father had been either a notorious villain or a tragic hero, and none knew for sure which. They didn’t know what else to call someone with no formal training, with such vibrant talent, who bore the shackle and the scars of the mistreatment of her owner, their employer.

It seemed like an eternity ago now that he had taken the gamble that her piloting skills were what he’d hoped they would be. While Fallon was inspecting the Dubrovnik, Harker had made his wager. He bet that Diana McAllister could find a new route, a faster route from Terra Nova Prime to the Asteroid Provinces of the mining colonies in the time it took Fallon to inspect the rest of the conglomerate freighters and enjoy the party in the captain’s dining room. Though he had stacked the decks slightly in her favor. He had known that her father was searching for just such a route, a route that would revolutionize trade, and in their last communication, he said he thought he’d found it. He was counting on the fact that he had told his daughter. He left her in the chart rooms with free access to the replicator, figuring she could use all the nourishment she could get. If she succeeded, she was to stay onboard the Dubrovnik as its pilot, and she was to systematically revamp the Bright Star trade routes through the Authority systems and beyond into the free trade zones.

He could have cried for joy when she did it, when he won — if not her freedom, at least access to a better life for her. He had plans of giving her the pilot’s quarters, paying her for her efforts, making her as comfortable as he possibly could, in some way compensating for what had been stolen from her. But alas, even onboard the Dubrovnik, she came with strict orders from Fallon concerning treatment and accommodation, and Harker was left with limited abilities to make her life better.

McAllister had made the Dubrovnik the most profitable ship in the Bright Star conglomerate’s fleet, in any fleet. Then she had literally revamped all the Bright Star trade route to faster, more efficient ones, making Fallon and Bright Star still more money. Whatever had caused profitability to become second priority to bringing Diana McAllister back to Terra Nova Prime, Harker didn’t know. He only knew that she wasn’t there yet, and that was cause for hope.

 

Piloting Fury Part 14: Brand New KDG Read

It’s a very wet and windy Friday at Grace Manor, and means time for more Fury. A cheerful hello, with a warm cuppa. I hope all is well with you Lovelies and that much good reading is happing. I plan to enjoy the rainy weather by curling up with a good read for a couple of hours this afternoon.

Whether it’s raining or not where you are, I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 14th week. If you are, please share the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. This week Mac’s old captain on the Dubrovnik pays for turning a blind eye to her escape.

 

 

 

Piloting Fury

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAlister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.

 

Replacements: Part 14

Fallon’s face on the com pinning Harker under his icy blue scrutiny did little to aid digestion. The man always commed at mealtime, or worse. No longer having an appetite, Harker pushed the Britannia trifle to one side, squared his shoulders and forced a polite smile.

Fallon nodded to the dessert. “One of my favorites, Britannia trifle. Though it’s been my experience replicators never quite get it right.”

As if Harker would know. He’d never had it any other way, and frankly, it was like most specialty dishes from Old Terra. Who the hell knew what they were supposed to taste like? Anything beyond the basic nutritional needs for survival had been guesswork ever since the Great Exodus. Most of the history of that time had been lost. Little real knowledge existed about anything, let alone what the food tasted like.

“How can I help you?” Harker asked, forcing down the irritation he could do nothing about.

“Let’s not pretend here, Evander. I’m aware that you’ve known almost from the beginning that Leo Rab was my eyes onboard the Dubrovnik. You’re not a stupid man. If you were, you wouldn’t be commanding my flagship.”

The muscles of Harker’s neck felt like someone had just tightened them into a vice. He shifted in his chair and tried to relax. “Is Rab okay?”

“Oh he’s fine, just fine, but I don’t need him onboard the Dubrovnik now that Diana McAllister’s no longer there, do I?”

Harker desperately wanted to ask if McAllister had been found, but to do so would betray what he hoped for her, what the woman truly deserved. So he sat in silence watching Fallon pace. The unrelieved black of his military-cut suit accented his powerful, but slender build. The shape, the style, even the color of it, a constant reminders of the lethal man who wore it. Harker had noticed through the years of having way more contact with the man than he’d have liked, that he was never still. He always had to be in motion. If for whatever reason, he were forced to stand still or sit down, he twitched, he fidgeted, he drummed fingers on desk tops, bounced a knee up and down, tapped a foot on the floor. Harker had had the opportunity to notice way more about Abriad Fallon than he wanted to. But then he had never forgotten that it was always just a single misspoken word, a single false step that separated Fallon’s friends from Fallon’s unlucky indentureds.

And that kept him careful, or at least it had until Diana McAllister came into his life. Bargaining to get her onboard the Dubrovnik as his pilot had been his first reckless act, and Fallon had been onto him almost immediately. Had the man not seen the benefits of such a good pilot on his flagship, had he chosen to keep her close instead, Harker could just as easily have ended up wearing a shackle instead of captaining a conglomerate flagship.

His second reckless act was to turn a blind eye when he first realized that Richard Manning’s interests in McAllister ran deeper than just physical attraction. It had happened while the Dubrovnik, and every other ship with business there, waited out a planet wide lava storm safe in high orbit above Diga Prime. The crew who’d been stranded on shore leave remained in the protected underground warrens that made Diga Prime habitable. He had overheard a throwaway conversation between Manning and the doctor of the Matterhorn about the illegal manipulation of shackles. Until then Harker had thought such a skill was only offered by quacks in back alleys, a scam that gave runaways false hope and, in the end, did nothing but speed along that dreaded one-way trip to a plague planet. He’d thought such a thing was nothing more than a desperate act. And yet he’d understood it. When Diana McAllister came onboard the Dubrovnik, he saw that desperation in her eyes, and he knew the reason for it. But after that conversation he now suspected he was meant to overhear, he began to think that if anyone could help the young woman, Manning could.

His third, and most reckless act of all was to make sure he’d piggybacked Fallon’s message ordering the Dubrovnik to make the unscheduled stop at NH372 to the Fury. Oh the message had been no secret. Fallon owned the Dubrovnik, and if he wanted it to make an unscheduled stop, then he had nothing to hide. Besides the channels were always open among commercial cargo ships where everything was technically above board. Harker had simply tweaked the settings just enough that if Manning were listening, and if Manning’s interests in Diana McAllister were anywhere nearly as keen as he suspected, he’d pick up on it. There was little else he could do.

To believe that there might be a way out for his pilot that would keep Harker above Fallon’s suspicions was a fool’s dream. He had always known that in his heart of hearts, and in that moment when he had known that Fallon was sending his eldest son to retrieve Diana McAllister and return her to Terra Nova Prime, it no longer mattered. He found that he couldn’t sit back and do nothing. And now he would pay for it. He only offered a benign smile and forced himself to continue with his trifle when Fallon had nodded to it graciously.

“Please, eat. It was not my intention to interrupt your meal.” Of course it was. Harker forced the spoonsful of trifle down the tightening constriction of his throat. Catching people at the most inconvenient moment, making sure they were slightly off balance, was one of the more civilized ways Fallon reminded everyone just how much their fate was in his hands.

“I suspect that you had something to do with my dear Diana’s escape, Evander.”

In spite of his efforts, Harker let the spoon clank noisily against the dish and wiped his mouth on the napkin, knowing he could eat no more. Fallon continued. “Oh I’ve suspected that you and half your crew have had a soft spot for her since I let her come onboard. That’s why I had Rab placed with you. I even suspected that if you didn’t help her try to escape, you might turn a blind eye if someone else did.” As he paced, his fingers twitched and his fists clenched and unclenched as though he anticipated tightening them around someone’s throat. “I suppose I can’t hold you at fault for that. The girl is rather endearing, and who knew she was such a good pilot?” His chuckle was more like a warning growl. “Well obviously you did, didn’t you? Captain’s instincts, I suppose. Besides, if memory serves, you did know her father. Like father like daughter, hmmm? That was your gamble, wasn’t it?” He waved a negating hand. “Never mind. It was a good use of my resources, as you told me back then. However,” he looked down at his perfectly manicured nails as though he were inspecting them for flaws, “I’ve invested a considerable amount into Diana McAllister’s maintenance and upkeep.” He leaned forward toward the monitor until Harker could make out the large pores around the sides of his nose. “Your next stop is Cairovia, isn’t it?’

He knew that it was. Harker always sent him the route plans along with cargo manifests and cargo destinations, but he answered as though it were business as usual as though he were not waiting for the axe to drop. “That’s right. Triaxium offload.”

“Good. I think it’s time for some new blood aboard the Dubrovnik. Performance is down and a bit of a change might be exactly what she needs.”

Performance was better than ever, and Fallon knew it well. Harker held his breath as the man grabbed up his device and tapped the keypad. “Oh don’t worry, no one will lose their position and no one will even be demoted. I just think a little shake-up is in order. I’ve chosen, randomly of course.” He motioned down to his device. “Fifteen members of your crew, including Rab, will be transferred to three other ships now docking at Cairovia. And you’ll receive fifteen new crew members of my choosing, those who have a little more loyalty to the conglomerate and the Authority.”

“To keep an eye on me,” Harker said, mentally kicking himself for not holding his tongue.

“Of course not, Evander. We’re old friends here, after all. I just think the Dubrovnik could use some new blood.” He glanced down at his device. “Oh, and one of those who’ll be coming over to your team is Kristov Lebedny. He’ll be joining you as second in command. Take him under your wing and show him the ropes, as a personal favor to me, Evander, and I’m sure the two of you will get on just fine.”

Harker sat stiff backed, unmoving. He had made his choices, and now he would face the consequences. He waited for it.

“I’ve a pretty good idea where Diana McAllister is at the moment, and I expect her to be onboard an Authority ship bound for Terra Nova Prime within the next few galactic days. Once she’s safe back in my care,” he offered a smile that would warm the cockles if Harker didn’t know the darkness it hid, “then the way I see it, no harm done. The new crew will perform their duties to the highest standard, as I’ve always counted on from the crew of the flagship. Then once you’ve trained up Lebedny, well I think it’s time you might want to consider your retirement, old friend. Certainly you’ve earned it.” He glanced down at his watch, clearly a Terran antique. “Goodness me, I’m late for drinks with the prime minister. Don’t worry, Evander, I’ll have our Diana back in my protection in no time.” The screen went dark.

For a long time Harker sat unmoving, watching his trifle melt into unappealing sludge. He knew that the world of conglomerates and politics was as much bluff as anything. He had to hope, he couldn’t bear not to hope that Diana was in good hands and that Richard Manning was half as much of a slippery rogue as was his reputation. That was all he had left to him now, that belief that perhaps Fallon was not as confident in Diana McAllister’s swift return as he pretended to be. Why else would he place his own people onboard the Dubrovnik after the fact? Why else would he leave the open threat hanging over Harker’s head?

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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