Friday, March 18, 2016

Protected, Warriors of the Light 3


Protected, Warriors of the Light 3

Written by April Zyon

Published by Evernight Publishing

Cover and artwork by Jay Aheer with Simply Defined Art

Purchase Links
Amazon     |     All Romance eBooks     |     Bookstrand     |     Evernight Publishing

About the book
~Editor's Pick~

For the first time in her life, Vivian Duffy is pushing herself to the limits of her abilities. With people dying in her city she seems to be the only one willing to dig for the answers when the evidence isn’t making any sense. But when her sister fits the profile of the killer’s victims, Viv knows she may need to make some hard choices.

Jason has walked the Earth for more years than he cares to remember. Always with the singular goal of ensuring the safety of all the humans around him. Meeting the woman who was meant to be his was never even a consideration for him, not until Vivian crosses paths with him at the scene of a murder.

The danger is growing around them, and with the fate of his woman on the line this Argonaut will do whatever is needed to keep her protected.

This is a previously published work. It has been revised and edited for Evernight Publishing

Excerpt - G Rated -

Dropping his carry-on at his feet, Jason stretched his arms over his head. The flight into Seattle had been damn long. They’d had to make an impromptu landing when one of the passengers had gotten out of hand. Then there was a wait while the local police had pried him and his pissed off wife from the plane.

There’d been further delay when a storm had blown in, leaving them sitting on a runway for another three hours. Finally, they’d made it into the air during a break in the squall and were back on their way.

It had been a very long day in the air and on the ground. He was where he needed to be, though. Now all he had to do was find James so they could get their behinds moving. Which, knowing the cowboy as he did, the other man would likely be in the nearest bar. Grabbing his bag, he scoped out the area and spotted the one that would call to the Wild West gunman.

Too easy. Rolling his eyes, Jason slung the duffel over his shoulder and made his way to the tavern. Inside, he spotted James easily. The man was holding court with a gaggle of women, who were all drooling over his authentic accent. Why Mercury had thought putting the two of them together on a mission was a good idea, he’d never figure out.

Reaching the table, he dropped his luggage again. “James.”

“Jason!” James popped to his feet and came around to hug Jason, pounding his back. “Good of you to join us. Ladies, this is Jason. Jase, these are the ladies. They’ve been keeping me company while I waited for your flight. I heard ya’ll had a bit of trouble, got stuck through a bit of a storm. Bad luck, that.”

“Yeah, to say the least.” Jason gave a slight bow to the women. “Which means we really should get going, James. We have a job to do, and I’m sure you’ve had more than your fair share of drinking already today.”

“Right, true enough,” James said with a nod. “Sorry, ladies, but the man has a point. So, if ya’ll want to give me your numbers, I’ll call each and every one of ya’ll as soon as I can.” He leaned over and grinned at a blonde. “Especially you, sugar.” He handed off his phone and collected from all six.

When he had gotten his cell back, plus a few kisses, they paid his tab and went to collect the rental car. Passing James the folder from Mercury, Jason settled behind the wheel and got them moving.

“Shit, this here’s rather thin,” James said.

“I know. There’s not a lot to go on. A few really old cases that may or may not be related, and then the two newest ones. I don’t have a clue if this is anything more than a wild goose chase.”

“Damn,” James breathed. “Well, I guess all we can really do is check them out and see if it was human killings, or if it was more. Really wish these assholes would leave us calling cards. Be so much easier in the long run.”

“Yeah, just what we need. The evil ones leaving calling cards at their murders. Then we’d have the feds on each of the cases, looking for a serial killer that apparently hops from one end of the country to the other and back again. Somehow, I don’t see that as something that would work out well for us.”

“No, I guess not,” James muttered. “So, which one do we want to look at first?”

“Given where we are, we’ll look at the scene that was out north of Jefferson Park Golf Club. 
It’s the closest,” Jason answered. “After that, we’ll head to the one that happened in the Lower Queen Anne district. I doubt there will be much left after all this time, but you never know.” They could get lucky, though he didn’t hold out much hope for that. It hadn’t done him a lot of good over the years.

Twenty minutes later, they were studying the scene a block north and slightly east of the golf club. As he’d surmised, there wasn’t a lot left beyond some scraggly pieces of police tape and stains on the concrete.

But Jason wasn’t really interested in the scene itself. It was what was around that counted. 
Moving to where the body had been found, he turned his back. He wanted to know what the victim, a young woman by the name of Katy, had seen in her last moments.

It wasn’t a horrible area, not by a long shot. A little wear and tear, but nothing that jumped out and screamed “worst neighborhood on the planet.” There was some graffiti, but again, nothing that stated they were in gang territory, or a place most folks wouldn’t enter in the middle of the afternoon, let alone after dark.

For all intents and purposes, it was an average area, in an average American city, with nothing to make it stand out. Except for one thing. “We need to get Helen to pull the video feed from the night of the murder.”

“Wouldn’t the police have done that already?” James asked him.

“Possibly, likely even,” Jason said. “They’re not us, though, and they may not see what we will. Most humans don’t want to acknowledge the strange and unusual. Their minds automatically cover it up, and they play it off as a trick of the light, a shadow, or something else that allows them to sleep at night.”

“Good point.” His partner nodded. “Well, we might as well head to the next scene. Maybe there will be video around there, too.”

Jason was hoping so on the drive into Lower Queen Anne. They needed a break on the case, if there really was one. Reaching the corner of West Republican Street and Second Avenue, they found a parking spot. Jason climbed out of the SUV and looked around. Apparently, luck was on their side this time. “We have cameras,” he announced.

James nodded. “So I see. I’ll call Helen and get her to do her thing. Be nice to know if we’re just dealing with a regular old killer or a monster. Not that a regular killer is all that great, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.”

While James made the call back to the Mountain, Jason headed for the alley between buildings, where the murder had occurred. Ten feet in, he stopped. The police tape that remained was in slightly better condition than at the last spot. Turning, he gazed up at the buildings on each side.

A lot of windows, but given what was in each building and the time of night the young man, Vern, had been killed, there wouldn’t have been witnesses. Unfortunately, he didn’t think the video would be all that helpful, either, given where the cameras were located.

Walking back out to the street, he headed for the truck and James. The cowboy was off the phone and lounging back against the bumper, checking out women as they went past.

“Tell me you’re not checking out women on the street?”

“All right, I’ll tell you I’m not checking out women on the street,” James answered. “Even though they are damn fine.” He nodded to another one, receiving a smile in return.

“Anyone ever mention you are—what is that quaint saying? Ah yes … you are a dog,” Jason said.

“Woof.” James grinned at him. “We done here?”

“Yes, there’s nothing to see. We’ll need to hope we get some video. Did you contact Helen?”

“She’ll be pulling it as soon as she can. She said she had to find it first but will call as soon as she has something for us.”

“Good,” Jason said. “We might as well go to our hotel. I doubt we’ll get anything from her today, and I’m starving. They didn’t even have those little pouches of peanuts on the flight.”

“That’s because everyone’s all paranoid by the rise in allergies. They ditched the peanuts off flights, banned peanut butter from schools, and are coddling everyone. Too many people have turned into pansies. It’s deplorable,” James muttered with a sneer.

Jason wasn’t about to argue with him. Climbing into the truck, he put it in gear and got them moving toward their hotel. Food, a shower, and then sleep. In that order.


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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Petr's Mate by April Zyon


Petr's Mate

Space Wars, book 4

by April Zyon

Publishing by Evernight Publishing

Cover by Jay Aheer with Simply Defined Art

Release Date 3/3/2016

About the Book

She had no idea how much her life was about to change…

Recruited by NASA to be part of a special team tasked with finding a new world in space, Doctor Samantha Kennedy reluctantly embarks on a six-year voyage. But when a meteor shower forces the crew to take shelter, something goes horribly wrong. Thrown through time and space, she wakes up surrounded by chaos. Her spacecraft is destroyed. Everything she loves is gone. A tall, alien stranger is her only comfort in this bizarre new world.

Fleet Admiral Petr van Jahnsen has seen many things in his career. The strange spacecraft was new even for him, though. But it’s the woman inside that truly fascinates him. Against all odds, everything about the mysterious stranger calls out to him in a way nothing ever has. Now all he has to do is convince her that she’s his mate.
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The clearing of a throat pulled Petr’s attention away from the reply he was working on in return for the latest vid his sister, Adira, had sent. Ensuring his personal data pad was locked, Petr lifted his chin to pin a look on the young officer hovering at the end of the table.
He had figured the dining hall at that hour in the midst of a shift was the best place for privacy. It had worked until now. The young sub-lieutenant looked nervous. “Lieutenant?”

“Apologies, Fleet Admiral van Jahnsen,” he said. A tremor ran through him even though he snapped a salute.

“On board a cruiser or in informal settings it is Admiral, Lieutenant.”

“Of course, sir. Apologies, sir.” The young man was getting more nervous by the minute.

Petr did not like the effect his rank had on the young, impressionable officers. Petr wasn’t one to use his position often, only when someone overstepped the boundaries of their society in ways that truly pissed him off.

To that end, he waited patiently while the young man gathered up his courage. “First Admiral Chevon requests your presence on the bridge, sir. We received a transmission of unknown origin. It was weak and distorted. Moments later an unidentified craft crossed our outer border.”

Frowning at that, Petr pushed to his feet. He waved the young lieutenant out ahead of him, tucking his data pad carefully away in a pocket. “Do we have any other information on the craft or potential occupants?”

“Not at this time, sir. The admiral has ordered us to investigate but we are not yet in range for a full scan of the craft. It passed the sensors lining the border, which gave us what little we now have.”

He rode the lift with the young man, his mind spinning in concern and curiosity. Striding onto the command deck of the cruiser, he nodded to the commanding officer. “Time to intercept?” he asked.

Chevon, apparently having instructed the lieutenant to pass along all pertinent details, didn’t appear surprised by Petr’s pointed question. “Within the hour, sir. We should have it on radar shortly prior. From what we could discern from the data coming in from the sensors on the border it has a small radar profile. Likely why it slipped through.”

The man moved to a console and nodded to the woman working at it. “Bring it up.”

The screen above her head, eye level for Petr, lit up with data and some grainy images. 
Chevon put a finger to the small object tumbling lazily through space. “The sensors read it as debris. There was a blip of something that potentially could be a life sign, but it was too quick and faint for the sensors to accurately interpret, would be my guess. Per standard protocol, a notification was sent to the closest available vessel, us.”

Petr nodded slowly, narrowing his eyes on the images. “Play it again,” he requested absently. The images were reset, and he again watched the little oddly shaped item tumble on a wobbly axis while it passed through the sensor ring. Twice more he asked it to be replayed before having the crew member send it to his work data pad.

He wanted to see if he could clean up the images a little more. He could have asked the crew to do so, but he had the time. Beyond that, Chevon had many crew members on board who were fresh out of officers’ school. This flight was a training mission of sorts. “Alert me when we are within radar range. I will be in my quarters.”

“As you wish, Admiral.” Chevon saluted briskly before moving on to pass instructions to the crew.

Pausing briefly to watch the interaction, he felt a hint of a smile tug at his lips. Chevon might be gruff, but he was an exceptional and patient instructor. One of the best still on active duty. It was why so many that came through officers’ school fought to gain a position on his cruiser for the mandatory two years of in-field training. Those that came from Chevon’s cruiser were better officers for it. The man put his crew through every conceivable scenario. 
And Chevon had many experiences with which to draw from to make sure they were ready for whatever their next posting might be.

The crew listened when Chevon spoke, not merely out of respect for his rank but also for the knowledge they knew he had to share with them. Petr stood for another moment, watching the interaction between the crew and their leader since it was part of the reason he was onboard the cruiser. He was there to evaluate how the new officers were integrating into their roles before he’d return to his own vessel, which he’d left in the skillful hands of his second.

Satisfied that everything was well in hand, Petr left Chevon to the situation that presented itself, and what he could teach his young crew. His mind turned instantly to the sensor video once he cleared the bridge.

In his quarters, Petr settled in at the workstation and slotted the data pad into the port of the station. Once it queued up, he pulled the file off and got to work on getting some clarity. He could have waited for them to arrive, and intercept, but Petr was not feeling all that patient.

Odd for him. He had patience out every orifice even on the worst days. Unless it involved his sister or something that piqued his interest. Like this mysterious and unusual craft. While the programs began their work to remove some of the noise of space that often distorted the sensor feeds, Petr collected a snack and beverage. His original plan was to go to the dining hall and eat there, but he’d been drawn into the video his sister had compiled and lost himself in it. Seeing his niece and nephew, who had grown so much since his last visit, was well worth skipping a meal.

He could not believe how big they both were getting. Once he returned to his own vessel, he would have to see about arranging another trip to visit with them all. Even that rogue Fintan, who had actually dared to entice Adira into falling in love with him. While it was now mostly the principle of being the older brother that kept him harassing the other man, Petr did actually respect him. And Fintan treated Adira like the jewel she was. Good thing, too, or Petr would have personally shoved him out an airlock when they had first met in person.

Easing back into the chair before the workstation, Petr watched the program work at scrubbing out all the unnecessary background noise that translated into white spots or garbage on an image. He set it to working on the one image where the craft was at the closest point to the camera sensor array. It was still quite small, but if he could get rid of the excess items clogging up the picture he could blow it up more. Of course, it was all only a theory. He didn’t know if it would work.

He stared at the monitor while eating his snack. The soft beep from the workstation pulled him out of the trance-like state he had fallen into. Shaking his head, Petr set aside his cup. The program was now analyzing the image, filling in what it could, and slowly it was clearing up. The final image was crisp in comparison to where it had been.

Petr clicked on it to enlarge it. What he found had confusion sliding through him. A few more clicks, and he got it as large as it would go while remaining clear enough to see it. The writing on the outside hull was unusual. There was also an image in primary colors marking the exterior. Neither were familiar to him, nor was the shape of the craft. And it was definitely a spacecraft of some nature. Approximately twice as large as one of the Imarian crawlers, it had a unusual shape to it. Narrowing his eyes, he leaned in, knowing it wouldn’t help him to see it more clearly and yet unable to stop himself.

His communication device chimed softly. Leaning back in his chair, he pressed the side to activate it with his touch. “Yes?”

“Admiral, the craft is now in radar range,” Chevon told him.

“On my way.” After locking down the workstation, Petr quickly returned to the bridge. 
Stepping onto it, he nodded to the officers who saluted, making his way to Chevon’s side. “What do we know?”

“Not much more than we did, sir. We will be in range soon to bring it on board. Now that we have a bearing, we’ve increased our speed slightly to scoop it up.”

“I’m reading two life signs, sir.”

Petr turned his attention to the young female officer. “Anything more?”

“Their life-support system appears to be failing. Based on the computer models, they have perhaps a day’s worth available. The last hours would be thin, though.”

“That makes boarding easier,” Chevon muttered. “I’ll have the boarding party readied. Once it’s in the cargo hold, they can sweep through.”

Petr made the decision immediately. “I will go with them.” Chevon’s sharp look said he wanted to argue but was hesitating. “I’ll remain behind the first men in, but I’m intrigued by this craft.” He was also highly trained in close-quarters combat, more so than even the highest ranking of the security personnel that Chevon would be sending in. Petr knew what it was like to have to fight for his life every moment of every day.

The commanding officer gave a slow nod. “As you wish, sir.”

One of the other officers called out the time to intercept. Giving Chevon a nod, Petr headed through the cruiser for the large cargo hold that would be the unusual craft’s home for the time being.

It seemed to take much too long for them to pull the ship into the hold. The first four from security began their sweep. From his vantage point at the area they had managed to open on the craft, Petr watched the men pause to look around now and again before moving on.

The interior of the ship was oddly cluttered. Very inefficient, to his thinking. The stench of death permeated the air. Never a good sign. Two more from security went in to do the follow-up sweep behind the other team, which is when Petr stepped into the craft. He had to keep his head bent slightly while moving. At the joints between sections, he practically had to fold himself in half to get through.

A very inefficient design, indeed. Shaking his head, he froze at the sound of blaster fire. What shook him to his core was the feminine scream. It cut straight to the protective core of his being and had him racing through the craft in the direction it continued to come from.

Two of the first security team were down, dead. One of the ones Petr had followed in was holding a blaster pointed at the head of a hysterical female. Pushing the weapon down, Petr ordered him to move into a position to watch the one direction and had the other man look at the direction they had come from.

He then crouched down before the woman. She still cried, the tears pouring freely over her cheeks, but her screams had calmed to whimpers of an emotional agony that had her arms locked around her chest while she rocked back and forth. “We are not here to harm you,” he said in his most gentle voice.

She flinched, and the whimpering grew louder. The rocking movement had ceased, but now she shivered as if freezing.

Going with instinct, Petr undid his uniform jacket and shrugged it off. In slow, smooth movements he wrapped it around her shoulders, keeping a watchful eye on her should she feel the need to strike out at the unknown. Then he held out a hand to her, palm up, and waited.

This is book 4 of my Space Wars Series.