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ANNOUNCEMENT: Uncommon Ground, by Kelly Jensen

Uncommon Ground

QSFer Kelly Jensen has a new MM sci fi book out:

Dillon Lee’s grandfather was a conspiracy theorist. Every summer he’d take Dillon on a tour of New York City while entertaining him with tales of aliens. Fifteen years later, after a phone call from a lawyer, Dillon is carrying his grandfather’s ashes from landmark to landmark, paying a sort of tribute, and trying to figure out what to do with his unexpected legacy. When someone tries to steal the ashes, a guy Dillon has barely met leaps to the rescue, saving the urn and the day.

Steilang Skovgaard is a reclusive billionaire—and not human. He’s been living in Manhattan for over twenty years, working on a long-term plan to establish a safe haven for his people. For seven years, his reports have gone unanswered, however, and he is the only surviving member of his interstellar team. The connection he forms with Dillon soon after meeting him is something he’s missed, something he craves.

But after someone keeps trying to steal the ashes, it looks as though Dillon’s grandfather was involved in more than theories—and might not have been exactly who everyone thought he was. Steilang doesn’t know how close he can get to the truth without revealing himself, and Dillon is running out of people to trust. Can these two work out what’s going on before the thieves set their sights higher?

Book One of Aliens in New York; Part of the “Memories With the Breakfast Club” Kindle World

Amazon


Excerpt

THE INTERIOR OF the Empire State Building was almost the same as Dillon remembered it—gilded marble walls, high ceilings, and the hush of reverent voices, broken more than occasionally by happy calamity. Clutching a backpack, Dillon stepped around one knot of family and through the middle of another. It was either that or duck under one of the barriers designed to keep tourists away from the walls. He could see the attraction. The marble looked really warm. He wanted to touch it. He remembered having the same urge twenty years ago when his grandfather had brought him here for his first visit.

Murmuring soft apologies, Dillon wended his way around and through a few more clusters of people until he found a sign directing him to the observation deck. Exhilaration fluttered in his stomach as he anticipated the view, the wind, and the experience of being high above the city. He hugged the backpack tighter.

“Soon, Grandpa. Nearly there.”

All fluttering ceased when he rounded the corner and found himself in a cattle maze of humanity, all winding their way toward a row of white uniforms and metal detectors. A sign affixed to the barrier up ahead read: Two Hour Wait from This Point.

Two hours?

“Hey, buddy, you getting in line or what?”

“Uh, yeah,” Dillon answered without looking over his shoulder. He took his place at the end of the line and prepared for a long wait.

The line did move. Slowly. Dillon used the time to people watch. The guy behind him pretty much typified the casual visitor to New York City. Ball cap, sunglasses, bright red T-shirt bearing the logo of the Kansas City Chiefs, multipocketed shorts, sneakers worn with dress socks (shudder), and a brood of tired and sticky-looking children. His wife stood on the other side of the kids, penning them in. She was wearing a sparkly pink “I Love New York” T-shirt, and studying Dillon with a narrow-eyed gaze.

He guessed she wasn’t comparing the color of his hair to the bedazzled heart on the front of her shirt.

One of the kids whined, drawing her attention, and Dillon moved on. Dude over there was wearing a parka. In July. Weirdo. That little old lady looked like she was about to faint, and that girl in the hoodie was watching him with a curious intensity.

Looking away, Dillon stepped past the Ninety Minutes from This Point sign.

Had he had to wait this long when he was a kid? He couldn’t recall. All he could remember was the joy of being in the city, and of being with a virtual stranger—the first time, and every time. He hadn’t known his grandfather that well, and that was always part of the attraction. His grandfather didn’t know him, either.

Sometimes it was nice to be unknown. Meant no one else knew the stuff you hadn’t quite figured out yet.

Okay, that guy over there, with the slim jeans and body-hugging tank? Dillon wouldn’t mind getting to know him. Ninety minutes would be more than enough time to see if his ass really was as firm as the jeans suggested. Ample opportunity to count abdominal muscles and follow a certain trail of hair downward. Unless he shaved. Dillon angled his head for a better view of the guy’s chest and received a prod from behind.

“Line’s moving, buddy.”

Thirty-four minutes later, standing shoulder to shoulder with people who obviously didn’t want to be pressed up against a skinny guy with purple hair had started to wear him down.

“Less than an hour now, Grandpa. Nearly there.”

“Daddy, that man is talking to his backpack,” said one of the kids behind him.

“He’s strange looking,” said her brother. Dillon ignored them. He was well used to the comments, curious glances, the sniffs, sneers, and smirks. Whatever. Everyone else in the line was bored enough to take a look, though, and soon his skin crawled beneath the unwanted attention.


Author Bio

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. A lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

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