QSFer Elle E. Ire has a new FF sci-fi romance out: Reel to Reel Love.
Finding the right romantic partner is always a challenge—especially when your first spouse turns out to be a greedy, business-obsessed hardass who winds up on her CEO office floor with a bullet through her brain.
After the murder of her first wife, Elaine is ready for a vacation and a solid relationship with a woman who only has time for her. Thanks to some found alien technology, Elaine can get what she wants… sort of. Okay, so a computer-generated tangible holographic image of a twentieth-century film star is about as far from “solid” as it gets. But as her themed pleasure cruise on a passenger starliner progresses and an additional plot to murder Elaine reveals itself, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her fantasy companion.
Ricky might be the result of exceptional programming, but she proves to be more than the sum of her particles. She shows Elaine more affection, and eventually more protection, than any so-called “real” woman in her life ever has, leaving Elaine to wonder—are Ricky’s feelings for her truly artificial? Or is this REEL TO REAL LOVE?
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Death Becomes Her
“Cancer research, canine abuse prevention, cloning advancements.” Harriet (Harry) Kane stabbed at her desk touchscreen with one manicured forefinger, then reached up and unclipped her personal transmitter from her ear, effectively cutting herself off from the Leviathan corporation to deal with her wife, Elaine. “Cute,” she growled, laying emphasis on the c. “Think you could pick a charity beginning with a different letter of the alphabet? Y maybe? How about x? I hear x charities are woefully overlooked.” She waved her right hand over the glowing blue sanitizing unit beside her, erasing any trace of stray rads her equipment might have gotten on her skin.
Better tech meant greater exposure to the recently discovered particles and bigger risks of sterilization. Birth rates had steadily declined until the invention of the decontaminators—a Leviathan product. But everyone dealt with it. At least it wasn’t all tech, just the best and fastest processors, the high-speed communication devices. Humanity had three choices: use the decontaminators, wipe out the human race, or go back to the Stone Age. And only a few fanatics had taken such drastic measures.
Elaine stood, her arms folded over her chest, and faced Harry across the desk. “It’s a gimmick, honey. A promotional quirk. Last year we gave to Boys Town, the Beirut Meltdown Survivors, and research to prevent some of the more stubborn forms of blindness.”
“Clever, Lanie, clever.” Sarcasm dripped from every c.
“I hate it when you call me that.”
Harry continued as if Elaine hadn’t spoken. “Doesn’t matter what you’ve got on the donations list. We’re not giving anything this year. Profits are down.”
Elaine met her spouse’s glare head-on. “That’s not what you sent out in the stockholder newsletter.”
“Good spin can make loss look like profit.” Harry leaned back in her black leather swivel chair, a slap in the face to Elaine’s charity drives to prevent the slaughter of animals for the making of furniture and clothing. Seven species gone extinct in the past five years, and Harry was buying leather chairs.
Harry kept talking, oblivious as always. “I hire the best writers for our company literature. And by the time the lawyers work out a translation, we’ll have regained what we’ve lost.”
“That’s all a load of crap. This company makes millions.”
“Oooh, crap. Good c word.”
Elaine clamped her mouth shut on another retort. No use arguing when Harry had made up her mind. Elaine might hold controlling interest in Leviathan Industries, but her spouse would make living with her a total hell if Elaine clung to her charitable “whims.” Honestly, there were times when Elaine wished Harriet would just—
The bullet wrought destruction upon windowpane, human skull, and brain matter. The glass popped at the point of impact, its surface crackling outward in a snowflake pattern of fractures. The dull thud as the hollow point pierced the soft area at the back of Harriet’s head echoed through her office like a distant thunderclap. Blood splattered across her desk, her body falling forward into the gruesome mess. Elaine’s scream reverberated off the office walls and caused already loosened shards to drop from the window to the tiled floor.
The bullet embedded itself in the real wood paneling of the wall closest to the entry (another indulgence of Harriet’s, while the cities encroached farther upon the few remaining forests every year). It lodged a mere hairsbreadth from where Elaine stood. She stopped thinking about the forests and realized she’d been in shock to have focused on trees of all things.
The viscous fluid flowed across the surface of the onyx desk, disturbed by the occasional bit of gore and forming a ripple around each one like a stream over stones. It seeped into the Leviathan logo, a tentacled sea creature etched into the desk’s surface, filling the grooves.
Elaine dropped flat, bruising elbows and knees on the tile as another projectile whined overhead, passing right through the space where her face had been. Her breath came in rapid gasps. Her pulse thrummed like a hovercar engine. Security pounded on the thick metal door, making her jerk and yelp for the second time in the span of a minute.
“Ms. Kane! Ms. Kane, are you all right?” A pause. “Ms. Kane?” Shuffling and scraping outside the door.
Elaine made no move to respond. She raised her head, the desk acting as a protective barrier between herself and the broken window. Her gaze fixated on a thin stream of blood running from the corner of the polished onyx to hit the floor and stain the grout.
Was this what shock felt like—this detached one-way trip down a tunnel of blocked emotions and too-focused vision?
Elaine forced herself to place one knee in front of the other, crawling the distance to her spouse’s body in three strides and making certain she kept her head beneath the edge of the windowsill. Now she understood the actions of all those airheaded heroines in every murder-mystery vid she’d ever seen. Cliches didn’t create themselves.
At Harriet’s side, she hesitated, not out of squeamishness, though there was that too, but fear of rad transference. Some scientists suggested bodily fluids could transmit rads from one person to another, and Harriet loved her tech.
Elaine shook it off, furious with her irrational fear at a time like this. She reached up to press her fingertips against Harriet’s carotid artery, red blood flowing over red fingernails. Warm stickiness.
Elaine gagged, then vomited, adding her mess to Harry’s and further contaminating the room, if the scientists were to be believed. The robocleaners and san-bots would have an electronic fit cleaning this up.
And what a world she lived in where such concerns warred with the sudden murder of her spouse.
Elle E. Ire writes science fiction and paranormal romance featuring kickass women who fall in love with each other. Her novels include: VICIOUS CIRCLE, the STORM FRONTS trilogy, DEAD WOMAN’S POND, and REEL TO REAL LOVE, all from DSP Publications. Elle enjoys getting into her characters’ minds by taking shooting lessons, participating in interactive theatrical experiences, paying to be kidnapped “just for the feel of it,” and attempting numerous escape rooms. She and her spouse present at many state and national writing conferences. Her work is represented by Naomi Davis at the Bookends Literary Agency.