QSFer JJ Lore has a new sci fi book out:
Playboy Tellan knows other races consider his people spoiled and arrogant, but he’s determined to put aside fine sheets and elegant meals in order to search for a mythical Domidian elixir for his ailing sister. He’s also smart enough to realize he’ll need help staying alive in the unsettled wastes of the Empty Quadrant. Enter Jorant, an intimidating Atavaq who’s been genetically modified to be the perfect soldier. On the run from his past, Jorant accepts the task of protecting Tellan as they venture to a planet populated by tentacled monsters and space pirates. As they search for the potion, Jorant realizes his Domidian client isn’t as helpless as he’d assumed, and Tellan is intrigued every time the taciturn bodyguard speaks. Will their unexpected attraction to each other survive the dangers threatening to destroy them?
Damnation, where was the hacking ship? Tellan trotted along the terminal deck, dodging the few carts operating at this time of night as he searched for the Kelso Red. He’d gone to the bar the shopkeeper had recommended. He hadn’t made a move to hire any guards since most of the beings around him were a scary lot he didn’t care to sit near, let alone camp with on an isolated planet. He’d downed a quick drink and tried to tune his ears to any word on current conditions in the Empty Quadrant. Instead of overhearing a valuable tidbit that might help in his quest, he’d merely developed slight indigestion and his mouth was left distressingly dry. So, cutting his losses, he’d left and made his way to the dock, his bag of effects bumping along his back with every step. He hoped the supplies he’d purchased were waiting as promised because there was no way he would manage to survive on what he could carry.
With relief he spotted the ship, its outline familiar from his study of the images on the ticketing marker. It was much smaller than he’d imagined. A little knot of worry burrowed in his belly, and he cast about, looking for the supplies he’d paid for. What would he do if they weren’t here? The shop was certainly closed, and he had to leave when this ship did. There wasn’t another taking the route he needed for another three days, and any delay was unacceptable. What had been an adventuresome lark in theory was instead a solitary, forbidding expedition better concluded quickly. He couldn’t wait to return to Domid and all the comforts which awaited him there: his family, his lovely apartment, the buzzing clubs and bars he habituated.
Tellan circled the landing gear, careful not to trip on the haphazardly piled pieces of equipment and tangled lines of hydraulic tubing littering the area. Hopefully the interior of the Kelso wasn’t as disintegrated as its berth seemed to be. Darkness lurked beneath the ship’s belly, and he made his way cautiously, eyeing each stack of gear he passed. Would there be an identifying mark or…the idle thought fled as he caught a swift movement from the corner of his eye and turned to identify the source. Big crates obscured his view and he edged around the corner of a stack, craning his head to capture the widest view. There, a darker shadow flitted beyond a smallish tower of something blocky encased in bright orange translucent sealant spray. He shuffled closer, his new brandish bar raised in his hand in case he needed to use it.
“What are you doing?” A deep voice rumbled from behind and Tellan jumped in his boots. With a suppressed curse and his heart thudding in his throat, he whirled to find the large man from the outfitter shop standing close, his pale forehead wrinkled as he stared with those light eyes. He’d been wrong to think them blue; they were an arresting shade of cool turquoise, something he hadn’t been able to observe in those fleeting moments before.
“I’m looking…I’m seeing…” Drat, his childish stammer had returned at a terribly awkward moment. Singing the common words in his head to clear his tongue, he tried again. “I’m looking for my goods. Did you bring them?”
“No.” The big man clamped his full lips together and looked over Tellan’s shoulder as if bored. He was still encased in black and grey, even more layers this time, which made him appear too large to fit in standard accommodations. Could he even wedge those thick legs and that span of shoulders into a jump seat, let alone work the safety straps over his bulk?
“It’s right there.” The other man’s gesture startled Tellan and he jumped again, free of the irrelevant speculation about how much the big fellow weighed or the actual diameter of one of his thighs. He pointed at the orange bundle and Tellan spun around, nodding rapidly as if he could see through the wrappings to verify the contents.
“I see…of course…very good. Thank you.” The empty phrases clattered out of his dry mouth. Something about this fellow set him off. He hadn’t been this on edge around a man since he was a youth at his first social mixer. To be fair, this Jorant was intimidating, and there was no one around to help if in fact he should need it. Not that he would; he sensed no threat.
“Are you Atavaq?” The query rolled off his uncooperative tongue easily. The big man blinked and his mouth hung open for a moment before he replied.
“Yes. That’s true.”
Tellan tried to smile. “I’ve never met one before. Will we be enemies?”
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J. J. Lore has been interested in the dashing men who roam outer space since she was transfixed by Han Solo piloting the Millennium Falcon a long time ago in a theatre far, far away. Sadly, there is no way for her to join in the fun of intergalactic adventures unless she writes them, so that’s what she does whenever she isn’t taking care of the business of life. If you can’t find her typing madly on her sluggish keyboard, she’s probably poking around in a thrift store searching for the perfect pair of worn jeans or a vintage kachina bolo tie. These days she puts her anthropology degree to work when she whips up dishes from many different cultures, most of which benefit from a liberal dose of sriracha or a smear of green curry paste. Her favorite reading topics are costume history, epidemiology, and permaculture, all of which she’d like to work into a story if she’s suddenly overcome with a brilliant idea someday.