Blog Tour: Disastertastic by Alicia Nordwell

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Blurb:

Sawyer is too busy to worry about something as frivolous as Christmas. College is hard, but he’s focused on getting into law school. Kable is studying to make the family business, Del Buon Gusto, into a successful chain restaurant. When a party debacle at the restaurant gives Kable a chance to get close to Sawyer, he’s shocked to learn Sawyer’s a Christmas Grinch. He’s determined to change Sawyer’s mind, but their dates are one debacle after another. It might not be possible to make this into Sawyer’s first Merry Christmas after all.

Night in Alps - european skiing resort Canazei

Night in Alps – european skiing resort Canazei

Excerpt:

What a waste of time. He could’ve been home starting his paper or even watching a movie if he wanted to slack off.

Fed up avoiding questions of family traditions and travel plans, Sawyer strolled away from the crowd in the dining room and headed toward the tree. He nodded and smiled at a few people but didn’t stop. Everyone else was enjoying the appetizers that had just come out, but he’d already had dinner before he left home, since he’d expected to work. He could pass more time pretending to examine the ornaments or watching the snow drift down now that the storm finally hit. He’d just have to wait a little longer until he could politely make his escape.

“You don’t like eggnog?”

“What?” Sawyer blinked and shrugged the hand off his shoulder. He took a step to the side. He’d been focused on the snow, watching the puffy flakes float down to coat the sidewalks and road. The grassy verge along the road was already completely white. He hadn’t even heard Kable approaching, which was odd because he was normally impossible to miss. He was just as loud and energetic as his dad.

“Your cup is still full.” Kable gestured toward the red cup in Sawyer’s hand. “Usually when you don’t drink something that means you don’t like it.”

“It smells gross, and I definitely don’t think a dairy product should be this thick and still be drinkable.” Sawyer’s filter was gone, just like it usually was around Kable. He got so nervous, he always ended up saying whatever came to him. It wasn’t like he was trying to hide that he was gay—everyone already knew that—but he hoped his crush wasn’t as obvious. He’d had enough embarrassment for the evening.

Kable laughed. “Then why’d you take it?”

“It seemed like the thing to do.” Sawyer rotated the cup between his palms, disgusted by the way the glop reacted. Surely it couldn’t be safe to drink the stuff.

“So, is it just dairy-based holiday drinks you don’t like? Or is it something more? You haven’t had a single thing to eat, and you’re not exactly dressed for the party. There’s so much fun to be had from dressing up for Christmas parties.” Kable waved a hand in front his chest. “Like this.” He was wearing an awful sweater with reindeer prancing around a Christmas tree that had bedazzled ornaments decorating every puffy bough. Not even something that hideous could detract from his dark-haired, blue-eyed handsomeness… but really, Sawyer shouldn’t be noticing that at all.

Sawyer scoffed. “I’d rather be here in my underwear than wear something like that.”

“Or your uniform?” Kable gestured toward Sawyer’s black slacks and plain white shirt. “Is it just that you don’t have another outfit?”

“Of course I have other outfits! Why would you think that?” Sawyer snapped. His face was hot and prickly; no one else had mentioned his clothes, even if they noticed he was wearing his work uniform. It’s not like he was wearing something inappropriate, like shorts and a t-shirt.

Kable cocked his head to one side. “If you had something else, why didn’t you wear that?”

“You’re nosy, you know?” He was always asking questions and getting into everyone’s business. The others didn’t seem to mind. Kable was Mr. McArthur’s son, and he worked the occasional shift at the restaurant when they were short a waiter even though he was in school full-time to get a business degree. He was friendly, sometimes too friendly, and made Sawyer uncomfortable with his casual intimacy. Kable was always patting him on the back or arm when they spoke, and Sawyer liked it a little too much.

“Yep.” Kable grinned. “But wait, don’t tell me! You never come out for a drink with the rest of us, not even for coffee, and you’re always studying those books on your breaks. I’ve never heard you even talk about doing something like going to a party. You thought you were here to work tonight, didn’t you?”

Sawyer grit his teeth. “So what? Your dad just said he wanted us all here.”

“And you didn’t put two and two together?” Kable gestured toward the room.

“I did once I got here. He said he was throwing a party for friends and family. What else was I going to think?” Sawyer was getting tired of Kable’s questions. He lifted his before Kable could notice his scowl and figure out he was getting to him and made the stupid mistake of taking a drink.

“Oh, ew.” Sawyer desperately wanted to spit out the eggnog, but there was no polite way to do so. He forced the mouthful down, swallowing repeatedly in an attempt to get rid of the liquid still coating his tongue. It was as horrible as he thought it would be. He stared at the cup in disgust. “People actually drink this… on purpose?”

Author Bio:

The number one question folks ask Alicia when she shares she’s a MM romance author: “Why gay fiction? Why write men when you’re a woman?” and her answer is: “Why the hell not!” Alicia Nordwell is one of those not so rare creatures, a reader turned writer. Striving to find an interesting story one day, she decided to write what she wanted instead. Then the voices started… Yep, not only does she talk about herself in the third person for bios, she has voices in her head constantly clamoring to get out. Fortunately, with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided for her own sanity to keep writing.

Now you can find her stories both free and e-published. When she’s not on the computer typing away, she’s a wife and a mom of two in the dreary, yet ideal for her redhead complexion, Pacific Northwest. Except for when she disappears into one of the many worlds in her head, of course! She can also be found quite often at her blog, where she has a lot of free fiction for readers to enjoy or working hard, or maybe hardly working, as an admin on GayAuthors.org under her online nickname, Cia.

Social media:

Cia’s Stories: http://www.ciasstories.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicia.nordwell
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AliciaNordwell
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4479520.Alicia_Nordwell

Blog Tour: On Fire by Alicia Nordwell

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Blurb:

Nothing beats getting out of the concrete jungle and into the quiet of the forest. Website designer Scottie Ness is taking a well-deserved vacation from the grindstone, and he plans to spend it in the solitude of Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Mt. Adams. He’s prepared for everything—except the lightning storm that traps him in a wildfire.

The firefighter who rescues him sustains serious injuries and ends up in the hospital. Jax Quintero might be abrasive, but the guy saved his life, and Scottie wants to thank him. As they spend time together during Jax’s recovery and exploring the state’s landmarks when he’s released from the hospital, Scottie discovers there’s more to Jax than a smart-ass adrenaline junkie. Jax reassesses his opinion of Scottie as an arrogant city boy who has no business in the mountains. Though Jax’s wounds prevent them from taking things as far as they’d like for a while, they can’t deny the heat building between them—and this is one fire they don’t want to put out.

onfirefs_v1

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/on-fire-by-alicia-nordwell-7675-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fire-States-Love-Alicia-Nordwell-ebook/dp/B01M119A79/

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-onfire-2142835-149.html

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/on-fire-alicia-nordwell/1124772923?ean=2940157073725

Excerpt:

Chapter One

“WHAT EXOTIC tropical locale are you going to spend your vacation drunk in?” Carter leaned back in his chair so he could see into Scottie’s cubicle. He smirked. “Or are you hitting the casinos in Vegas to make your fortune and leave all of us to toil away in the trenches alone?”

“Neither. Hiking and camping in the Gifford Pinchot around Mt. Adams.” Scottie adjusted a line of code, and the website header widened. “I’m all set to go in the morning.”

“Seriously? You have a week off in August, and you’re going to waste it trudging through the dirt and pine trees when you could be lounging on the beach somewhere?” Carter shook his head. “Wouldn’t catch me doing that. Aren’t there bears and cougars up there?”

Scottie shrugged one shoulder. “I might see a bear, if I’m lucky. Cougars are actually pretty shy.”

“You want to see a bear?”

“It’d make a great picture.” The website he was working on needed to be visually appealing on both computers and mobile devices, and he was having a hard time focusing. “It’s Friday. Don’t you have some reason to duck out and start the weekend early?”

“Nope. Miranda, Tark, and I are all going out for happy hour at Corrigan’s, but not until six. Don’t try to change the subject. You know you can take pictures at the beach, right? White sand, crystal blue water, and palm trees swaying in front of the setting sun.”

“Dime a dozen. I like living in Washington because we have so many places where I can take beautiful nature photos. Coastline, rivers, lakes, mountains, even the desert, all within a few hours’ drive. Besides, I’m still paying off my student loans. I don’t have money for expensive vacations.”

“Two words. Credit cards.”

Of course. Carter wore name-brand shoes with his fancy suits and never brought a lunch, preferring to order takeout. He’d graduated a year before Scottie, so it wasn’t like he made that much more money. “One word. Stupid.”

Carter rolled his eyes. “Whatever, man. When I take my week off next month, I’m going to Hawaii. Hotel on the beach, coconut drinks, and chicks in bikinis. Any women you come across in the campground will probably be covered in pitch and pine needles.”

“I’m not going to stay in the campgrounds. I’m hiking and camping off the trails, and for the most part, I won’t see any people at all.”

A look of horror crossed Carter’s face. “Seriously?”

He nodded. “I used to go camping with my family all the time growing up. We’d hike, fish, roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire. It’s peaceful.”

“Whatever, man. When you get munched on by a bear, can I get your chair?”

It was Scottie’s turn to roll his eyes. “I’m not going to get eaten by a bear, and your chair is the same as mine. Why would you want it?”

“I spilled fish sauce on mine earlier this week, and now it smells funny.”

“Well you can’t have my chair, and I’ll notice if there’s a fish funk on mine when I get back, so don’t even try to switch them. Don’t you have a project to finish? I have to get this done before I leave.”

“Fine, fine.” Carter rolled back to his desk. “Have fun communing with wildlife.”

 

SCOTTIE ROLLED up his backpacking tent with an extra tarp and fastened it to the bottom of his pack. His sleeping bag, a change of clothes, survival kit, portable stove, water filter, and food fit inside. The rest of his camping gear was piled along the wall, taking up most of the living room floor in his postage stamp of an apartment. He plopped down on the couch with a beer and opened his laptop.

Using a red highlighter, he outlined the trails he planned to take and marked his base camp as well as his possible overnight camping sites before printing out two copies. Picking up a pen, Scottie scribbled his full name, the dates of his trip, and what kind of vehicle he was driving on the back of one map. He’d drop it off at the ranger station before he stopped in Trout Lake for some sandwiches. No idea what they did to make them taste so great, but they were way better than anything he could make. He’d have to stop by the ATM on the way out of Vancouver to pick up some cash.

Now that he had all the nitty-gritty survival stuff out of the way, he had to get his photography equipment in order. Scottie didn’t spend much money on himself, but he had a nice Canon camera, lenses, a flexible tripod for his hiking pack, and a bigger telescoping tripod in its own bag. Using a polishing cloth from his cleaning kit, Scottie went over every piece of glass in his camera bag, making sure all the lenses and filters were spotless. Photography might be just a hobby, but he took pride in getting that one shot that made all the hard work worth it.

He’d finished his beer by the time he had the last memory card and battery stowed, and he waffled on what he wanted to do. He’d been up since six, worked a full day, and finished getting all his camping gear ready to load in the morning, but he wasn’t tired enough to go to bed. The weather report he checked promised sunny days and clear nights—though it wouldn’t be nearly as warm around Mt. Adams as it would be in Portland.

 

Exclusive Excerpt:

“Be advised you’re looking for a male in his early twenties, brown hair, approximately five-ten. His name is Scottie Ness.”

“Thanks, Dispatch. We’re headed in to the coordinates you sent.”

“Copy that. Be safe, Twelve.”

Jax’s crew was small, but they’d been working together for the last two years and he’d partnered with Simon for even longer than that. He knew he could trust each and every one of them, and they knew what they were doing. “Ready?”

“Sure thing.” Simon took the lead, followed by Dave, Carlos, Franklin, with Jax in the rear. The acrid stench of burned wood was lighter here than the area they’d been working last, but it was still a strong stench and the gray clouds of smoke made the sky look angry and overcast. They stuck to the trail at first, calling out Scottie’s name. Scanning the huckleberry bushes and small pine trees on the gentler slopes, Jax didn’t see any sign of a hiker.

Jax called a halt when the forest thickened about halfway to the camp coordinates. “If he was coming back and went off trail for some reason, he’d be easy to miss from here on out. Let’s fan out. Dave, keep to the trail, we’ll do a line on either side. Make sure you stay in shouting distance.” The wind felt like it was shifting, but it was hard to tell in the trees as they swayed this way and that.

The going was harder after that. They were still gaining elevation but ravines slowed them down—full of bushes and small trees that caught at their feet. Jax struggled up a hill, glad of his thick gloves protecting his palms as he used bear grass to help pull himself up the slope. “Scottie!” The closer they got to the camp, the angrier he got. They were headed right into one side of the fire, and the back burn was coming for them even faster.

Where the hell was the idiot they were risking their lives for?

“Scottie,” Jax bellowed. He listened, but all he heard was his own crew moving through the woods, calling out Scottie’s name.

“Scottie Ness,” Dave shouted.

“Like there’s another Scottie out here?” Jax muttered. He checked his GPS. They were nearly on top of the campsite on the map. Maybe they’d be able to see it from the top of the ravine. He dropped his handheld and kept moving.

The top of the steep slope did level off. The trees petered out into a meadow full of grass. Dave was on the path, so Jax stepped out of the tree line and waited for the others to catch up. They all grouped together near the path. Simon bent over, his hands on his knees, puffing for air. “Damn hill at the end was nearly vertical, I swear.”

“Anyone see any sign of this guy? Footprints? Garbage?”

They all shook their heads. Jax took a drink, draining most of the water he had with him. “All right, everyone hydrate really fast. Then we fan out in a search line. His camp had to be here in this meadow.”

Stretching out into a staggered line again, they began to walk through the grass. Jax used his ax to sweep the grass for any indication the idiot had gone his direction.

“Over here!” Carlos called.

Jax hightailed it over to the far end of their search line. He caught sight of the tarp on the ground, and then he saw a leg sticking out. Carlos and Simon were carefully lifting a thick branch laying across the tarp.

Dave grabbed a corner of the small tarp and pulled it off. The wind whipped it up, and he let the tarp go. It blew against a tree across the clearing. “Shit, it’s really coming from the east now. We’ve got a problem, Jax.”

“I know. Keep an eye on the skyline for flames. Scottie?”

No reply.

 

Author Bio:

The number one question folks ask Alicia when she shares she’s a MM romance author: “Why gay fiction? Why write men when you’re a woman?” and her answer is: “Why the hell not!” Alicia Nordwell is one of those not so rare creatures, a reader turned writer. Striving to find an interesting story one day, she decided to write what she wanted instead. Then the voices started… Yep, not only does she talk about herself in the third person for bios, she has voices in her head constantly clamoring to get out. Fortunately, with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided for her own sanity to keep writing.

Now you can find her stories both free and e-published. When she’s not on the computer typing away, she’s a wife and a mom of two in the dreary, yet ideal for her redhead complexion, Pacific Northwest. Except for when she disappears into one of the many worlds in her head, of course! She can also be found quite often at her blog, where she has a lot of free fiction for readers to enjoy or working hard, or maybe hardly working, as an admin on GayAuthors.org under her online nickname, Cia.

Social media:

Cia’s Stories: http://www.ciasstories.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicia.nordwell

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AliciaNordwell

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4479520.Alicia_Nordwell

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Cover Reveal: On Fire by Alicia Nordwell

Today I’m happy to host Alicia Nordwell, a friend and fellow author, for her cover reveal for On Fire, a Dreamspinner Press States of Love novella.


I want to share a big thank you to my host for featuring the cover reveal today for my latest Dreamspinner Press release, On Fire, made by Garrett Leigh. Without further ado…

onfire_final

A fun tidbit: I actually took the picture of the mountain (it was not on fire at the time, lol)

A picture is definitely worth a thousand words when it comes to a cover, and these guys are hot, but I bet you’d like to know more about their story, so here goes!

Blurb:

Nothing beats getting out of the concrete jungle and into the quiet of the forest. Website designer Scottie Ness is taking a well-deserved vacation from the grindstone, and he plans to spend it in the solitude of Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Mt. Adams. He’s prepared for everything—except the lightning storm that traps him in a wildfire.

The firefighter who rescues him sustains serious injuries and ends up in the hospital. Jax Quintero might be abrasive, but the guy saved his life, and Scottie wants to thank him. As they spend time together during Jax’s recovery and exploring the state’s landmarks when he’s released from the hospital, Scottie discovers there’s more to Jax than a smart-ass adrenaline junkie. Jax reassesses his opinion of Scottie as an arrogant city boy who has no business in the mountains. Though Jax’s wounds prevent them from taking things as far as they’d like for a while, they can’t deny the heat building between them—and this is one fire they don’t want to put out.

Where can you pick up your copy?

On Fire is available for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press now!

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/on-fire-by-alicia-nordwell-7675-b

Contest!!

Because I love my fellow readaholics, I’m giving away a $5 gift card to Dreamspinner Press to celebrate finally being able to share On Fire’s awesome cover and my photo inspiration for Jax and Scottie.

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About the Author:

The number one question folks ask Alicia when she shares she’s a MM romance author: “Why gay fiction? Why write men when you’re a woman?” and her answer is: “Why the hell not!” Alicia Nordwell is one of those not so rare creatures, a reader turned writer. Striving to find an interesting story one day, she decided to write what she wanted instead. Then the voices started… Yep, not only does she talk about herself in the third person for bios, she has voices in her head constantly clamoring to get out.

Fortunately, with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided for her own sanity to keep writing. Now you can find her stories both free and e-published. When she’s not on the computer typing away, she’s a wife and a mom of two in the dreary, yet ideal for her redhead complexion, Pacific Northwest. Except for when she disappears into one of the many worlds in her head, of course!

She can also be found quite often at her blog, where she has a lot of free fiction for readers to enjoy or working hard, or maybe hardly working, as an admin on GayAuthors.org under her online nickname, Cia.

Blog: http://ciasstories.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicia.nordwell

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AliciaNordwell

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4479520.Alicia_Nordwell

Blog Tour: Cosmic Inception by Alicia Nordwell

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So many tour stops, so many planets, so much fun! As today is the end of the Release Tour for Cosmic Inception, I wanted to share a bit about where it all began: Caeorleia. There’s nothing like seeing the story come alive in your head, but I always like to see what authors of my favorite stories have in mind when it comes to settings or characters. I’ve shared two other planets with you during this tour, so I couldn’t leave Caeorleia out. In the past I’ve included images to represented different elements from Caeorleia, but these really bring to life what I see when I write about the planet. Enjoy!

Agravali flowers Pre-explosion

                     Agravali flowers Pre-explosion

Caeorleia Jungle

Caeorleian Jungle

Caeorleia from Space

Caeorleia from Space – Protected by the bio net

Their journey will span the universe and back, but there’s no guarantee they’ll make it together.

Though Nick and Fieo are drawn to each other, their relationship has never been easy. Their differences go beyond their races, but they’ve managed to work together to prevent the spread of corruption, growing closer along the way. Nick still battles the effects of years of loneliness, fear, and pain but surprises everyone when he refuses to stay behind when Fieo is sent on a vital mission to find the Collectors. Fieo objects, but there’s no stopping Nick when he sets his mind to something. Over the course of their mission, it becomes clear Nick is more than anyone ever imagined, but the mystery of his past threatens to derail his future.

The search for the truth will take Fieo and Nick far from Caeorleia, to worlds both familiar and completely alien, and put stress on their already tenuous relationship. It’s a journey that will either tear them apart or finally bring them together.

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Cover Artist: Christine Griffin
Length: 288 Pages, 110.5k

Buy Links:



Where to Find More from Alicia Nordwell

Alicia Nordwell is one of those not so rare creatures, a reader turned writer. Striving to find something interesting to read one day, she decided to write what she wanted instead. Then the voices started … Yep, not only does she talk about herself in the third person for bios, she has voices in her head constantly clamoring to get out.

Fortunately for readers, with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided for her own sanity to keep writing. Now you can find her stories both free and e-published! She can be found quite often at her blog, where she has a lot of free fiction for readers to enjoy or working hard, or maybe hardly working, as an admin on GayAuthors.org under her online nickname, Cia.

Oh yeah, she’s a wife, mom of two, and lives in the dreary, yet ideal for her redhead complexion, Pacific Northwest. Except for when she disappears into one of the many worlds in her head, of course!

Social Media:

7-28: Cia’s Stories: Winners Revealed!

Cover Reveal: Cosmic Inception

 

COVER REVEAL
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Christine Griffin

Pre-order Release Date: 6/17/2016

Official Release Date: 7/18/2016

Genre: MM Science Fiction
Length: 288 Pages/110k
Rating: Adult/Mature
Buy Links:
Blurb:

Their journey will span the universe and back, but there’s no guarantee they’ll make it together.

Though Nick and Fieo are drawn to each other, their relationship has never been easy. Their differences go beyond their races, but they’ve managed to work together to prevent the spread of corruption, growing closer along the way. Nick still battles the effects of years of oneliness, fear, and pain but surprises everyone when he refuses to stay behind when Fieo is sent on a vital mission to find the Collectors. Fieo objects, but there’s no stopping Nick when he sets his mind to something. Over the course of their mission, it becomes clear Nick is more than anyone ever imagined, but the mystery of his past threatens to derail his future.

The search for the truth will take Fieo and Nick far from Caeorleia, to worlds both familiar and completely alien, and put stress on their already tenuous relationship. It’s a journey that will either tear them apart or finally bring them together.

Excerpt:
Chapter One
“Look at you.” The humid warmth of the garden enveloped and welcomed me. I stroked one finger across the fluffy yellow pod of a waist-high flower. The small strands curled in and then opened back into a wider puff, sending out a glowing powder that drifted high into the night sky. I chuckled. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the small flower was ticklish. I rubbed the pollen off against my shorts, glad I hadn’t tried to smell it. “You haven’t told me about these yet, Jirulm.”
The elderly Caeorleian was mumbling as he plucked clusters of hard orange buds off spindly stalks. I’d picked up the habit of talking to the plants from him, and it wasn’t hard to see why. They were so alive.
I had flowers, and fruit, and vegetables. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get to live on a planet with wild flora. My schooling and job training had focused on creating new strains of food crops that were grown in chemical vats in the midst of a planet covered in metal and concrete.
Not exactly natural. Or very appetizing, if you knew where they got the basic building blocks for the food. No one had ever questioned it—I hadn’t either, until I’d taken the job with the Federal Food Service Corp after I couldn’t find a job anywhere else. Horrified when I learned the truth, I’d spent a few days unable to choke more than few mouthfuls down at a time, and they rarely stayed down. My mistake had been telling a coworker my plans to reveal everything to the public.
Of course when you’re a prisoner and starving, you tend to ignore the fact your food was grown from cells harvested from composted humans, and you ate it anyway. Beggars couldn’t be choosers.
And I’d begged. A lot. At least five years spent on a spaceship as the experiement of scientists had sucked all hope from me. But then the military scientists’ plans had gone wrong. Ryker and Seral had been sent to the planet in a bid for more information. The doctors assumed the Caeorleians would blame Ryker, one of the hated nelho scum they named the human soldiers waging war on their planet. Instead, something completely unexpected happened. Seral joined in besedad with Ryker, bonding them together.
In a daring attack against the human military, using the nanos they filled Ryker with to spy on the Caeorleians, Seral had brought down the scientists’ enormous ship and spread the reengieeered nanos like a plague to the rest of the fleet. Along they way, they also rescued Dade and me, the only other two survivors of the scientists’ experiments.
And once again, I was wide awake in the middle of the night. The memory of the moments right before rescue came, when I was forced to watch as the human scientists cut the alien woman open, and listen as the sadistic doctors planned to cut my belly open to compare organs, disturbed my sleep almost nightly and left me sweating and shuddering in my bed.
I didn’t mind being awake in the early morning hours all that much. Some of the flowers in my garden only bloomed at night. Besides, I didn’t have much to do, so I could nap during the heat of the day. With a planet this tropical, it made sense for Caeorleians to be seminocturnal. Night was the only time I could count on finding Jirulm, the gardener who taught me about the plants in my garden. Ovrumi suggested I would enjoy gardening when he caught me wandering in the corridors, flinching away from the others passing by.
“It’ll be time to prune those soon, Nicklaus,” Jirulm said. The hum of his voice was low, nearly indistinguishable from the light wind rustling through the plants.
“But they’re just barely blooming.” Sure, flowers indoors brightened up the rather plain walls of the Residence, but all the ones in my suite were potted. I didn’t like to snuff out their already brief lives.
“Good thing, too.” He examined the flowers, pulling at one of the fluffy heads. “When agvarali have absorbed enough energy to glow, the heads detach during the final bloom and migrate along the breeze.”
“Oh, I bet that’s beautiful.” I could just imagine the small glowing fluff balls floating along a soft night wind, though I wasn’t sure if I’d get to see it. Fieo, the stubborn ass, refused to believe I’d be going to find the Collectors with his team, so I had no idea when the departure was planned. I’d assumed sooner rather than later, but maybe I’d still get to see the final bloom—some of the heads were already glowing a faint yellow.
Jirulm snorted. “Beautiful… and dangerous.”
I cocked my head sideways. “What do you mean?” Sometimes getting information out of the old alien was like pulling teeth. But when he did speak, he knew basically everything there was to know about plants on Caeorleia.
“They gather energy, like sampanga trees, but so much in such a small sphere means when they touch something—or something touches them, like a careless finger—they explode.”
I snatched my hand back. “Explode?”
His lips twitched at the corners. It was probably the closest I’d come to seeing a smile on his face. “Oh, not enough to kill you, but you could easily lose a finger in the energy jolt that spreads the seeds. Luckily, these blooms are harmless.”
“That doesn’t sound harmless! Why plant these in a garden if they’re so dangerous?” I couldn’t believe they were actually cultivating the damn things.
“They attract insects to pollinate the other plants.” Jirulm tapped one long stem, and one of the creepy flying bugs crawled out of a waving puffball and flew to another vine a few beds over. “See.”
That was one aspect of gardening I could do without. I did not like bugs. I had nightmares of them crawling inside my ears and laying eggs that would hatch into little buggy babies just dying to burrow into my brain. I backed away from the agvarali. “Well, feel free to prune these while I’m gone.”
Thoughts of going into space again on the mission kept crowding into my mind, disturbing the peace I usually found in my garden. I tried pushing them away and succeeded for a while as Jirulm rambled on. After checking the natural spring fountain in the center of the garden that fed the irrigation lines, he left me alone. There was a small carpet of grass around it, the blades a dull gray in the silver light of the moons. Nighttime lent a certain somber feel to the garden, muting the usually vibrant displays; I sighed as I settled on the grass to stare up at the stars twinkling.

There was a lot of beauty in the darkness.

About the Author

Alicia Nordwell is one of those not so rare creatures, a reader turned writer. Striving to find something interesting to read one day, she decided to write what she wanted instead. Then the voices started … Yep, not only does she talk about herself in the third person for bios, she has voices in her head constantly clamoring to get out.

Fortunately for readers, with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided for her own sanity to keep writing. Now you can find her stories both free and e-published!She can be found quite often at her blog, where she has a lot of free fiction for readers to enjoy or working hard, or maybe hardly working, as an admin on GayAuthors.org under her online nickname, Cia.

Oh yeah, she’s a wife, mom of two, and lives in the dreary, yet ideal for her redhead complexion, Pacific Northwest. Except for when she disappears into one of the many worlds in her head, of course!

Find her at:

Cia’s Stories: http://www.ciasstories.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicia.nordwell
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AliciaNordwell
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4479520.Alicia_Nordwell