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New Release: Dare – C.J. Dragon

QSFer C.J. Dragon has a new MM sci-fi/dystopian book out, Mindset Duet book 1: Dare.

Dare Munro possesses empathic abilities, a mutation that emerged in humans during the past climate crisis. Some people interpret these mutations as Mother Nature’s way of seeking revenge or finding solace for what has been lost.

When his ‘gift’ became evident, his parents abandoned him, but now he’s a counselor of high repute with a Mindset Three rating.

Only Dare knows that he is not what he appears to be.

Dare’s true abilities came to light when he assisted a client dealing with the loss of his family. It was only a matter of time before the Service came for him to lock him away and use his talents for their own gain.

Determined to escape Earth, he secures passage on the colony ship, Gambit. On the ship, he’ll find Jason Stravetta, the ship owner’s son, who is famous for his strong aversion to Mindsets.

Despite the other man’s dislike, Dare is drawn to Stravetta, hoping for a friend rather than an enemy.

Will Stravetta force him to reveal his truth?

Will that truth cost Dare his freedom and his life?

Get It At Amazon | Publisher | Universal Buy Link


Dare came out of sleep abruptly, the dream he was having dissipated without memory. He blinked deep blue eyes to clear them, then sat up. Unruly dark hair fell into his face, causing him to frown before pushing it away. Staring around his ten-by-ten room, he took a breath, waiting for the dampers to completely wear off. He hated taking those every night, but there was no choice. Otherwise, his shields would drop while in sleep, allowing him to hear and feel everything around him. Even if he’d wanted to chance it, today was his last day here. Being rested and alert was a necessity.

Swinging his legs out of his covers, the young man stood up. Everything in this room would stay except for his personal belongings. He gave himself a faint smile. Not that there was very much, but he still needed to pack it for transit. Once on his feet, he stretched, warming his muscles for movement in the mild heat of his room.

Going to a panel to the right of his bed, he touched it to open the bath. The panel slid back, exposing a four-by-four inset that included a toilet, tiny sink, and a wet room shower. Dare used the toilet, drank some lukewarm water, and took a quick shower as the water automatically shut off after five minutes. Glimpsing himself in the mirror, he saw a solemn young man, slender, finely muscled, though not tall, then gave himself a mocking smile. He dressed in loose, breathable pants and a long shirt. Padding across the room barefoot, he pulled out the regulation luggage he’d been given and packed.

Consulting the list that he was given by the liaison for the ship, Gambit, he packed only those items listed, putting the dampers in a safe pocket. Dare wasn’t sure if his services would be needed during the voyage out. The Gambit’s liaison had been vague about that, not that Dare cared one way or the other. The most important thing was that he had found a ship to take him off planet before he was discovered and could never leave.

He grimaced as he added the last item of clothing to his luggage, inwardly cursing himself. He’d been too open, too helpful. He was a Mindset, an empath capable of feeling the emotions of others. Dare had trained as a counselor, preferring to work in public health. He was rated as a Mindset Three, able to transmit emotions but not alter another’s feelings. He shook his head. He had extended his abilities to help a man who had lost his family to the latest environmental plague, and in doing so, others had seen he was more. They’d kept quiet so far, but he couldn’t count on their silence. Everyone had secrets, some worse than his, and he could only hope they didn’t want those exposed any more than he did. He grimaced. Not that he’d do that to another person, but those ‘others’ didn’t know that.

Years of hiding his abilities, fooling the tests, likely lost in a few moments of comfort. Dare was a Mindset One, capable of receiving and transmitting feelings and thought, a rare combination of empath and telepath. A One never left Earth, and in fact, were rarely seen. They were used in government facilities, by the military, or used in experiments. But not irrevocably harmed, as they were far too valuable for that. He was lucky the Gambit would take him. They weren’t a government sponsored ship, and in fact, might be taking this voyage to get away from problems of their own. Dare didn’t care and didn’t want to know. As long as he was put down on a planet with the other colonists, whatever the Gambit did was fine with him.

Anything was better than being punished with life on this planet because of who he was and what he could do. He didn’t care if he died in cryo or was killed on the new planet. Anything was better than being held in confinement and endlessly used.

Packing done, he put his case by the door. There was just enough food stored to have a breakfast comprising high calorie yogurt, a precious piece of fruit, and tea. He ate sitting on the futon, hearing the heat pump wheezing to keep up in the rising outside heat. Thoughts drifting, he remembered seeing his parents for the last time.

They were both considered nice and well-liked by their neighbors. Dare was an only child, a state he’d mourned while growing up. Neither parent was overtly loving, but he was never abused. His needs were met, unquestioningly, until his gift manifested as he reached puberty. The distance between parent and child became wider as each ability opened until Dare realized they were actually afraid of him. He knew then they could never show him the love he wanted, no matter how much they took care of him. Wise beyond his twelve years, he’d fooled the tests and downplayed his abilities until now. Shaking the memory away, he finished his meager breakfast. He hadn’t said goodbye since neither parent seemed interested in what he did, plus he didn’t want anyone to know he was leaving until it was too late.

Putting the waste from his meal into the recycler, he glanced at the clock. It was time to go. It might take him over two hours to reach the airfield for the shuttle taking him up to the Gambit. Pulling on his sturdiest shoes, he mused about his upcoming flight. He was thankful that, despite the climate misery, the search for viable planets had continued, along with improved propulsion methods. There was a small colony on the moon, and another, more successful one, on Mars. Both were too close for him, but a one light-year trip to New Eire should take him far beyond the reach of anyone wishing him harm. He sighed, then stood, picking up his luggage. He took one last look at the nondescript room he’d lived in for over a year, then nodded.

He was used to being alone, but constantly wished for more, craving a connection he would never allow.

Author Bio

C.J. has always been an avid reader of anything in print, enjoying all genres but drawn to science fiction and romance.

Happily introduced to the wonderful world of M/M romance, and immediately loving it. C.J. began writing M/M romances, incorporating them in her science fiction stories, and has never looked back.

She lives in North Carolina and is happily married to her wife and soulmate, who is a writer as well. C.J. is co-parent to Frankie, also known as the Prince of Darkness, who keeps a benevolent paw over all that occurs in the home.

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