Quantum Red Rock Alien Mail Order Brides 1
Ex-soldier turned space pirate Tey Raider is visiting Earth to steal a fortune and use one of the Red Rock vortexes to escape into the deep black. When he bumps into Sophia West, he has no idea the human woman will throw a wrench into the hyperdrive of his master plan, and spin him, his storm cruiser, and his heart out of control.
Sophia doesn’t believe in aliens until a Sedona-based dating agency mixer puts her in direct contact with out-of-this-world clientele. She’s undercover trying to locate her brother—abducted and tortured by the big-brained bully, Nimbus. She strikes a hard bargain with Tey Raider to help her find and free her brother. Never mind that the haunted ex-soldier makes her want to reach out and make an alien connection.
The mission leads to a close encounter, and when the red dust settles, neither will be the same.
- Quantum is book one in the Red Rock Alien Mail Order Brides series
- Release Date: September 30, 2016 (available for Pre-Order)
- Quantum is part of the multi-author Intergalactic Dating Agency series.
Excerpt from Quantum
Plasma fire burned past Tey Raider.
Not even close.
At pelting speed, he broke from tall, fragrant grasses, knotted bushes, and twisted trees to find himself stopping short at a dusty red cliff over narrow, tumbling waters. Beyond the creek sat the quaint Earth village of Sedona where humans, the natives of this planet, lived alongside the off-worlders hidden among them.
The sentinels pursuing him shouted, "Stay where you are!"
It took only a moment for his language implant to parse the words' meaning. His grasp of the English language was now almost fluent. But just because he understood didn't mean he was going to follow the order. He was done with orders.
A sudden, searing sensation, hitting just below his shoulder blade, burned briefly before going numb, then crackled outward from the impact along his nerves. Were they trying to incapacitate or kill him, he wondered. Plasma fire wouldn't do either, not to him. But then, these sentinels had probably never seen a real firefight. Never been in a war. Obviously couldn't tell a muscle-pumped pretender from a pod-engineered soldier, even with the clearly visible Pact number etched in black on the back of his neck.
But, all right. He may as well let them capture him, or else meta-trackers who would figure out what they were chasing would be summoned, and they'd be able to take him down. At least with these idiots, he could choose where and how he'd submit. Not just yet, though. Something to do first.
Beyond the creek was an easy climb to the village's main street, which was nestled among the area's majestic Red Rock Mountains and natural towers. The humans had a pretty planet: green, blooming, complex life-supporting growth, earth the color of the deepest glows of firelight, all under an ultra-blue sky. But most importantly, it was wealthy. The wormholes, what wellness-seeking humans called vortexes, would've made a dead asteroid the jewel of any galaxy, and Earth had even more to offer. Powerful parties were interested…as were enterprising ex-soldiers like him.
He glanced over his shoulder—sentinels moving pitifully slow—and jumped from the rock to the creek bed in one effortless bend of the knees. He was just pulling up on the opposite bank when the plasma hit him again, this time in his lower back, the telltale crackle shooting down the nerves in his legs. It tickled a little.
To make the boys on his tail feel better, he added a dramatic lurch to his stride as he climbed to the alley above and then dropped the affectation as he stepped up onto the sidewalk that curved around to Route 89A.
As a fringe world, Earth had yet to be formally invited into the Consortium of Light, so its inhabitants, for the most part, were still oblivious to the fact that there was life elsewhere in the universe. But humans weren't stupid; plenty of Sedona's residents had a wary, knowing look in their eyes about the alien interlopers among them. However, the human tourists who came to crawl all over the rocks or take Jeep tours into the wilderness as some bizarre form of entertainment seemed to have no idea whatsoever.
Raider joined the flow of pedestrians on the street. Sentinels couldn't shoot at him here. All the happy people would scream and run. Some would capture images of the scene on their devices and disseminate them across the globe. And then the world's authorities would descend upon these red rocks and attempt to gain control of the area. There would be bloodshed because off-worlders wouldn't allow their access to the wormholes to be compromised. Ultimately, the Consortium would involve their most benevolent selves. And all because a sentinel discharged his plasma weapon in public? Not a chance.
Besides, this would only take a moment. And then he would kneel while trying not to roll his eyes at the absurdity of who was catching him. All part of his plan: steal the Quantum Stone—it was in his pocket at that very moment—and then use it to get away. He wished he could do both at once, but it was logistically impossible. His TT-Interceptor vessel was concealed in the wild about twenty klicks from here. And besides, for the sake of continued secrecy, the wormholes could only be used under cover of night.
Raider scanned the walkway as he wove in and out of the pedestrians. Shops lined each side of the street, most specializing in Earth foods, including one place that had something called fudge, a delicacy that was, bar none, his favorite. He had a pound of it on his Interceptor. Planned to acquire fifty more before he took to the deep black. But Sedona's main street peddled other wares, too—crystals, apparel, and various useless objects that still confused him, even after explanation. Why, for example, would anyone want a common stinging insect called a scorpion suspended in plastic? Alive, it would at least have some use—a pet perhaps? But why would anyone want it dead, much less pay for it?
Raider turned toward the voice. Just off the sidewalk, he found Vel Hacker standing at a tall table, a beverage of golden, frothy fluid before him. Beer, they called it.
Hacker had fought in the same unit as Raider and had a way with undermining complex systems. He'd keep the Quantum Stone safe, all right, but he'd want in on the spoils. Possibly a ride off-world.
Raider frowned as he considered his old comrade. Hacker's pants were cut above the knee, hairy calves protruding down to his boots.
"What's wrong with your clothes?"
"Living local, Raider," Hacker said. "You should try it."
The soldier looked like an overgrown infant, and Raider was about to tell him so when a waitress approached, cloth tied around her waist, sharpness to her gaze. She was human, and she seemed to know that they weren't like her, but she went along with the ruse. It helped that most off-worlders were anthropomorphic and looked human enough. Or could look human, if needed.
She put on a smile. "You want something?"
"No, thank you," Raider said.
Was it fear that compelled her cooperation, or was she getting a little extra on the side to keep relations friendly? Sedona was going to be the center of the galaxy once news of the wormholes spread.
Raider assessed Hacker again. Blending was one thing; looking unnecessarily conspicuous was another. He wasn't giving the stone to a clown who cut off his pants above the knee. They'd been soldiers once.
Hacker looked past him and gave an upward nod, covering the motion by lifting his beer. "Friends of yours?"
The sentinels, catching up. Not much time left.
"Best friends," Raider said and meant it as they had given him the opportunity to steal the stone in the first place. He was off again, searching the stream of people for a better prospect.
A trio of girls passed him—too young. A family unit with children in tow—no kids would be involved. An old man with a bag of—even paces away, Raider could scent its sweet and dark bouquet—fudge. The groups streamed past as he pressed forward. He had to make a decision, and now.
She would do. She stood just outside a human souvenir shop that doubled as a mate-finding service for off-worlders. Mates were hard to come by elsewhere since the Consortium regulated pairings. Not so on the fringe.
The young woman was definitely prime with her dark hair, warm skin, and curvy figure. She stood blocking foot traffic as she spoke to another woman with an off-worlder twist to her hair, who had just handed his target a card with the Cyclone insignia. This was too perfect, but then, Earth was nothing if not generous. The extravagant beauty of the woman probably hadn't even been genetically programmed.
And she was looking for a mate? Some space baron was going to get very lucky.
The human woman examined the card. "What kind of a party?"
Melodic voice, clear and strong. Made his blood hot. Something sparked inside him.
Raider had heard about the parties the leader of the Cyclone vessel threw for potential investors who were interested in a variety of business ventures. Humans were a big draw. No wonder, if she was an example.
Anyway, it was convenient that he would know where she'd be that night. He'd be there, too—albeit in a holding cell.
Since she was standing in the middle of the sidewalk—the tide of people breaking into two streams around her—he opted to bump directly into her.
"Sorry," she said, looking startled.
In a smooth motion, he dropped the Quantum Stone into her bag. He simultaneously took a deep breath—wouldn't mistake her scent—and then kept walking.
He could also smell the sentinels before they caught up; they pushed the woman's sweet scent right out of his head. This part would be tedious, but well worth it when he was clear of this world with the means to start a life—finally!—elsewhere.
A blaster barrel touched his spine as they directed him out of the flow of humanity and into a dark doorway. Another flash of heat and crackle sent a needling buzz to his brain. Fools. A hit at close range would've destroyed almost anyone else's mind, leaving lifelong confusion and pain behind. The Consortium had a termination policy in effect for engineered soldiers who fought against them for the Pact, but at least they executed them cleanly.
But out here on the edge of the deep black, there was no authority. The lawless state was both a risk and a tremendous opportunity. It meant that by wit, muscle, and ruthlessness, a future could be won. By anyone. By him.