Today I’m excited to share Pauline B. Jones’ science fiction/action adventure romance The Key.
When Sara Donovan joins Project Enterprise she finds out that what doesn’t kill her makes her stronger…An Air Force pilot – the best of the best to be assigned to this mission – Sara isn’t afraid to travel far beyond the Milky Way on an assignment that takes her into a galaxy torn apart by a long and bitter warfare between the Dusan and the Gadi.After she’s shot down and manages to land safely on an inhospitable planet, Sara encounters Kiernan Fyn – a seriously hot alien with a few secrets of his own – he’s a member of a resistance group called the Ojemba, lead by the mysterious and ruthless Kalian. Together they must avoid capture, but can they avoid their growing attraction to each other?A mysterious, hidden city on the planet brings Sara closer to the answers she seeks – about her baffling abilities and her mother’s past. She has no idea she’s being pulled into the same danger her mother fled – the key to a secret left behind by a lost civilization, the Garradians.
The Dusan and the Gadi want the key. So do the Ojemba. They think Sara has it. They are willing to do anything to get it.
Sara will have to do anything to stop them…
A vague throbbing in her right temple towed Sara back to a consciousness she didn’t want to face, though she was a bit fuzzy on why…
She opened her eyes to zero dark thirty—a darkness somewhat lightened by an eerie orange glow.
Okay, starting to remember.
She not only wasn’t in Kansas anymore, she wasn’t in the cockpit of her bird. The rough hewn rock over head seemed to indicate she was in some kind of a cave, but how did she get from Dauntless to cave?
…the dog fight.
…the double hit to her six.
…heading for the closest planet like a fast falling star.
…doing bat turns to slow her descent.
…seeing the long stretch of flat, white beach between tangled mass of jungle and sparkling ocean.
…endless feet-wet finally giving way to feet dry.
The narrow beach had skimmed past way too fast as she struggled to manage her uncontrolled descent. She remembered pulling her nose up long enough to clear a rugged tumble of rock spilling from high bluff into ocean, but on the other side ground was ground and no landing is a good one that ends against a tree.
Yeah, she remembered the tree.
But she didn’t remember a cave.
Her head didn’t seem to like all the remembering. She touched the complaining spot, finding something that felt like a bandage at the apex of the pain.
Okay, didn’t remember that either.
She tried moving various body parts. Everything was a bit banged up, but still worked, which was good. And she knew it would get better. It always did. Her zoombag had been loosened and her gloves were gone. Add that to the list of things she couldn’t remember, with an asterisk for slightly creepy. As the rest of her senses began to come back on line she inhaled a warm, metallic scent that seemed to be emanating from a circle of rocks, the source of the orange glow. It was mixed with a warm, earthy smell and some scents she couldn’t begin to identify. There was a bit of a nip in the air, the edge taken off by the…fire? Was it a fire? It didn’t flicker like a fire.
It was deeply quiet in the cave, quiet enough to hear her own breathing. And someone else’s. An icy trickle made its way down her back. Who, or what, was sharing this cave with her? Sara sat up, stifling a groan when various bruises and bangs registered formal protests to her brain housing group. She’d planned to stand up next, but something stirred across from her. Who—or what—ever it was rose, throwing an ill-formed and very large shadow against the wall and roof of the cave. Maybe it was the bad light, but the outline was very Sasquatch-ish—shaggy and kind of ominous. The icy trickle turned to a rushing stream. It moved toward her, passing into the half light cast by the sort of fire. Not Sasquatch, though he could have been a second cousin. He had a head full of dreads, he bristled with armament, and he bulged with muscles wrapped in what appeared to be tight fitting leather. It was hard to find features—his face was darkened by dirt or camo, or both—but his eyes were deeply, sharply green.
And he was really, really tall. Sara had to tip her head way back to look up at him. He didn’t speak, which upped the eerie factor a few more degrees. She somehow managed to get her legs under her and stand. She was a tall girl—Tall Girl was actually her call sign—but the top of her head didn’t reach his chin. He’d have to be around seven feet to top her by that much. He looked like a ragged cave man, but there was a sharp intelligence in his eyes. And he’d managed to get her clear of her bird. Not exactly cro-mag man skills.
She wanted to say something, but all she could think of was, crap.
Not particularly useful.
After a moment, she realized he was holding something out to her. A wooden-ish…thing. She took it, since he seemed to expect it.
“Thanks.” Her voice sounded a bit loud, and a bit too bright, breaking the deep silence.
He blinked, just the once, the green of his eyes disappearing, then slowly reappearing. It was very Cheshire Cat—one channeling Tim Burton.
Not a good combo.
Sara looked down at the bowl. The assortment of dingy pieces in the curved center could have been fruit—fruit having a really bad day. She picked out a piece. It felt slimy and a bit gritty, but she’d eaten worse than that in survival training.
She sniffed it. The pungent aroma made her eyes water. She slid it between reluctant lips and chewed. Okay, this was worse than anything she’d eaten anywhere. Her eyes watered some more. When she swallowed, nasty lingered like thick oil in her mouth. She looked up, blinking and wincing, and said, her voice a thin croak, “It’s… good.”
Not her most convincing performance.