Hiding Space

Linda Andrews

Hiding Space

Science Fiction



Description

What the book is about

Commander Brongill of Da’Hap heads the expedition to Earth in hopes of finding the survivors of an ancient crash and the key to Terrill’s survival. But Brongill knows first-hand how his race treats its saviors and decides to spare the human hybrids a torturous death by making certain they never reach Terrill. His mind is firmly set on revenge until he meets her…

Alderina Wedgen wants nothing more than to raise her three children in peace. What she gets is kidnapped by aliens, seduced by a secretive commander and nearly blown-up. Facing a common enemy, she has no choice but to form an alliance with a man who once considered killing her--a man who is relentless in pursuing what he wants.

But while the universe is vast, Ally and Brongill soon find that there is no hiding space and to survive the trip they’ll have to risk more than their hearts and lives.




Excerpt

A look inside the book

She was in space.

"Damn." Her reflection glared back at her. "Yeah, and what are you going to do, steal a spaceship and make a break for it?"

"Leaving us so soon, Alderina of Rutgers?" His voice was deep and rich, his inflection precise.

Control. Without even seeing his face, she knew this man was about control, specifically manipulating her. She placed her hand to her chest, felt her heartbeat race under her sternum. Instinct screamed in her blood. She couldn't flee and twelve hospital stays, courtesy of the Candalarios, had taught her the foolishness of fighting a superior force.

Slowly, she turned.

Her gaze raked the intruder leaning against the wall across the room. Wavy black hair framed wide cheekbones, a crooked nose, square jaw and full lips. Three evenly spaced gold cuffs wrapped around his left ear. A scar cut across his forehead, jumped over his right eye and ended on his right cheekbone. A black jumpsuit played over the muscles cording his wiry frame. The man before her looked like a Hollywood pirate dressed in a skintight Buck Rogers uniform.

"You... You're human." Her voice sounded fairly calm despite the maelstrom of emotions roiling through her. Her pulse fluttered. It had to be from fear. What else could it be? She could understand John Doe appearing human; after all they'd met on Earth. But why wear a costume of human skin aboard your own ship? Where were the scales? The large black eyes? Dammit, couldn't they at least have antennae?

He shrugged one broad shoulder. "Bilaterally symmetrical species propelled by bipedal locomotion are common in our galaxy."

"So everyone in the Milky Way looks human?"

His green eyes narrowed. "Perhaps humans look like Terrillians or Flaegans or-."

She held up her hand, stopping him from distracting her. "I don't believe you."

"Correct. The Flaegans possess two sets of optic orbs and their dermis is blue, suited for the Ultraviolet radiation of Flaegia."

She didn't care about Flaegia. She wanted to know why he appeared human.

"Is this some sort of trick? I mean this room looks like a cheap motel and you don't have antennae."

"My apologies." The spaceman bowed his head slightly. Amusement lifted the left corner of his mouth but didn't reach his eyes. "Our home worlds are very alike. It is not uncommon, even upon your world, for distinct species to develop identical adaptations. Our appearance is the equivalent because we faced analogous threats as our species evolved."

Her mind tripped over the large words, struggled to reform them into something that made sense. "You're telling me that the similarities are only skin deep?"

He shrugged, pushed off the wall and sauntered into the room. "I am glad that you are merely planning to escape."

Although his gait was loose hipped, it had a predatory edge. Ally backed up until the bench cut across the back of her knees. "Wh-What else should I be thinking?"

"Many of your kind believe we are motivated by world conquest or bizarre experimentation. Some even think we are famished for their flesh." He chuckled then cleared his throat.

Embarrassment singed Ally's cheeks. She reached out steadying herself with a grip on the back of the bench. "There seems to be a predisposition toward Science Fiction movies among your passengers."

"Indeed." A smile full of elusive meaning curled his lips.

Ally dried her sweaty palms on her jeans and held out her hand. "I'm Alder--" She cleared the hated name from her throat. "Ally Rutgers-Wedgen, but you already knew that, didn't you?"

Maybe it was the effects of the molecular transportation but she didn't feel threatened. He stared at her hand. Then again, George's parents had seemed like sane rational people when they'd introduced themselves after the funeral.




"I'm so glad you agreed to meet with us, dear." Maria Candalario dabbed the black lace handkerchief to her eyes. A sob escaped her crimson lips and shook her plump frame. "We know so little about Jorge Junior's life after he left home."

"He compared us to monsters." George Candalario grumbled around his thick cigar. His stubby fingers strangled the sifter of brandy in his right hand.

"We had lost touch with him. I'm certain he would have wanted us to get to know his children." Maria's gaze flicked to Nichole, Collin and Marie swimming in the pool outside. A maid in a starched gray uniform carried lemonade and sopapillas to one of ten tables arranged on the flagstone terrace. "Things are so much clearer when you become a parent yourself."

"One's perspective changes." George puffed. "You'll soon realize how expensive cultivating the right ties can be. Fortunately, we can help you with that." He beamed at her like an evil Santa Claus. "Our way of giving back to my boy, your Jorge." He bit the end off his cigar and spat it into the fireplace.




Ally had actually believed them, believed they were an answer to that stack of bills her husband had left behind upon his death. Besides, Maria had echoed the epiphany Ally had about her own mother after giving birth to Nichole.

"Ally of Rutgers?" The spaceman's soft baritone scattered her thoughts.

"Sorry." She folded her arms safely across her chest and forced a smiled. She was glad he hadn't touched her. Heck his skin might be slimy, or full of toxins. "I was thousands of miles away." Literally.

"Literally," he echoed.

She started. They couldn't read minds, could they? Panic rose in her throat, threatening to overwhelm her. How much did they know about her?

Why was she here? How could she get home?

His expression remained bland. "I am certain you must have questions."

She nodded, but before she uttered a word, he raised his hand.

"Fear not. You will be orientated soon. Others will address your many queries."

All her questions? She doubted it, but she wouldn't contradict him. Why should she tip her hand when it was apparent he kept his own cards hidden? Did they have shuttles or puddle jumpers or small flying saucers? Could they fit her and her children inside? Could she pilot it and more importantly, could she land it? "When is orientation?"

"Fifteen of your Earth minutes."

Earth minutes. Funny, she never considered time confined to her small rapidly disappearing planet. She checked her wrist. The second hand had stopped a tick beyond the twelve thirty, exactly when they had been abducted. Ally shivered. What else had the molecularized transporter misassembled? "How will I know when it's time?"

"The bell will sound."

She looked at her sleeping children. What would they say when they awoke to find themselves in space? "It had better be a loud bell to wake up Collin."

"I believe it is not the volume but the frequency that is most effective."

"Oh." What else could she say? He continued to stare at her. She refused to fidget despite having everything to hide. If they could read her mind then it didn't matter, but if they couldn't then she might use the situation to her advantage, pretend to go along with them until she could escape. "I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch your name."

He raised an eyebrow. "Brongill of Da'Hap."

"Mr. Da'Hap, do you travel with your own children?"

"Everyone aboard is regarded as family." A shadow flickered deep in his green eyes.

Ally shivered at the flash of hatred. What would he do to the object of his animosity? She prayed she'd never find out.

"And are all the cabins like this?" Turning, she opened her arms to indicate the whole room.

"John Doe elected this design as it favored your residence on Earth."

Good heavens. It did look like the apartment they'd just left.

"Unbelievable." Too bad John Doe hadn't seen the house in Denver. She faced Brongill. "You mean this was designed just for us?"

"The beds are standard but the rest." He shrugged.

"I can't believe you went to all the trouble." Why would they? Ally couldn't think of a single explanation.

"Nanites are efficient replicants." He consulted a watch-like device strapped to his wrist. A holographic key pad projected from the face. He tapped two symbols. "Perhaps you would prefer this design."

Change rippled through the room. Marble tile replaced the linoleum floor. Ivory colored drawer faces and doors supplanted the metal against the far wall. The bench changed into a settee and two Victorian chairs. The Formica tabletop became polished rosewood.

"Nice watch." Not to mention mind boggling. Her doubts fled. This was definitely alien technology.

"The Clarn is more than a keeper of time."

Obviously, but it still looked like a watch. Ally ran her hand along the smooth upholstery of one of the chairs. "What do you want with us?"

She turned back to face him.

Brongill of Da'Hap was gone.

"Great." The minute she gathered her courage to ask the important question, he disappeared.




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