Blaine D. Arden has a new MM sci fi book out:
“It’s not all about serving coffee and typing reports.”
Working for a secret organisation specialising in alien cover-ups, Connor Smith is no stranger to the abnormal or dangerous. His love life on the other hand… not so exciting. Until he reluctantly agrees to a blind date and meets the perfect bloke, Jason.
Things are finally falling into place for Connor, so of course that’s when he attracts an alien stalker.
Noah Jones, ex-alien, has been stranded on Earth and forced to live as a human since 1648. Alone and detached from the world around him, Noah has spent centuries observing and recording humankind. In all that time, he’s only experienced a connection with a human once… until he finds Connor.
Even knowing Connor is in a relationship, Noah can’t ignore their potential bond, or stay away.
While dealing with missing alien artefacts, a dangerous and shadowy group of collectors, and the ever-present Noah, Connor finds his orderly life crumbling around him. At least he still has the perfect boyfriend…
When Noah goes missing, Connor is forced to face the feelings growing between them and the mounting evidence that Jason isn’t who he says he is…
Blaine is giving away two sets of "A Triad in Three Acts" & "Oren's Right" with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4731/?
The Dross Woods, four-bloody-something in the morning, hunting for six-armed, two-legged white creatures.
Agent Connor Smith, personal assistant of Chief Security Lieutenant Natalie Tallis of Primrose UK, yawned. The lingering mist clung to his ankles as he tightened the straps of his field gear. He took his tranq out of its holster and flicked his torch on. The dense, tall trees hampered visibility, and the smattering of shrubs didn’t help, either. The path, at least, was wide enough for two.
“How many were there again?”Agent Simpson, team Alpha’s leader, asked. His dark, bald head gleamed in the early dawn as he moved to stand next to Connor.
“Ten, I think.”Or eleven. Connor hadn’t been awake enough to pick up everything during the interview with the Cleaton brothers, two aging sheep farmers, who had called it in. Why have a sheep farm so close to this vast and dense piece of forest? It was asking for trouble.
“They kept them in the stables, right? So, what happened?”
“Broke out,”Connor said as he trailed into the woods after Simpson. Though Connor outranked the stocky but agile team leader, Simpson had at least a decade of field experience on him. Simpson’s torch lit up the uneven, knobby-rooted ground, and Connor used his to search the shrubbery next to the path. He wished he’d brought an extra coffee, because he was not awake enough for this.
Hopefully, the pale colour of the creatures made them easier to spot.
“So, broke out?”
“Have you seen the thing they called stables? It’s nothing more than a rickety old shed. Even one-armed creatures would have had no problem breaking out, let alone these... Noren, I think the brothers called them.”
“All I understood was that we’re here to catch us some aliens.”Simpson veered left, following the whimsical bend in the path, and looked back. “It was a late night.”
“Right, you were chasing another missing artefact. Lieutenant Tallis filled me in. File’s probably making its way to my desk as we speak.”Connor squinted, aiming his torch at the shrubbery to his left. A mix of red, yellow, and purple flowers brought some colour to the otherwise dreary looking forest. “It’s the eighth time this has happened. It’s becoming a problem.”
“Don’t I know it. So, did they say how big these fellas are?”
“Chest height or about. Why? Spot something?”Connor pointed his torch along Simpson’s.
The shrubs shuddered and shook until Simpson stepped forward. A twig snapped, followed by meowing. A cat. Just a cat.
Connor shrugged at Simpson and they moved forward again.
Somewhere a shout rang out: a high-pitched screech that caused goose bumps.
“One down!”someone called through the commlink—team Bravo’s Forente or Briers, Connor guessed. “There are at least two others here.”
“That way,”Simpson said, pointing to their right, onto a narrow path overgrown with creepers.
Connor nodded, but Simpson had already turned away.
Step by step, they followed the narrow path, the darkness only broken by the light of their torches. They were hampered by the creepers as they moved along—listening, stopping, and listening again—as well as having to push low branches out of their way every other step.
One by one, more teams called in their catches.
“They seem to like sheep,”Forente commented after his first catch. “I heard one bleat, and the next thing we know, one of those Noren is coming right at us.”
“Good to know,”Simpson said. “Keep up the good work.”
“How many is that now?”Connor eyed the shrubbery in front of him, squinting as he pointed the torch at it. Eerie how dark a forest could be at daybreak. He preferred the smell of fresh moss to the damp, woodsy smell that now hung around him.
“Seven. I think.”
So, three to go, and he and Simpson had yet to run into any.
Something rustled behind them, and Connor turned, aiming his tranq. He hoped it wasn’t another cat. More rustling, but no movement in the shrubs. The foliage was denser here—they must have reached the middle of the woods by now.
Satisfied a Noren wasn't stalking them, Connor went to catch up with Simpson. when a sudden crunching of leaves to his right stopped him again. Something whitish moved behind a tree, too large to be a rabbit. He wished he’d paid more attention when Tallis had told them what to look for. Not that she’d been any more awake than he was. Simpson wasn’t the only one who’d been working late. The—
Another crunch, nowhere near, though. If there were two Noren around, he'd need Simpson. He tapped the commlink. “Simpson?”
“That was me. The path circles back onto itself.”
That was a relief. “There’s one behind a tree in front of me.”
“Right. Want me to move around it?”
“Good idea.”Then he remembered the comment about the sheep. “Wait. You don’t have to. Draw it out, bleat if you have to. All I need is a clear shot. I can’t take a shot as long as it’s hiding behind that tree,”Connor said, keeping an eye on the tree the Noren hid behind. He hoped it was just the one, even though they didn’t seem violent towards humans.
Simpson’s imitation of a sheep sounded nothing like the real thing, yet the Noren thought it genuine enough, since it came out from behind the tree, straight into the dense shrubbery next to it.
“Bugger.”Connor tracked the movement, but the shrubbery blocked his view. “I don’t have a shot. It fled right into the bushes.”
Simpson didn’t reply. Instead, he made his way around Connor, judging from the flashes of torchlight jumping around, and repeated his sheep imitation.
The leaves shuddered, and Connor narrowed his eyes, hoping to get a clear shot.
Simpson bleated again, and this time the Noren came running out of the shrubbery. Connor aimed and pulled the trigger. The Noren went down hard. Hit in one. He knelt next to the creature, taking the cuffs out.
“Nice shot, Smith,”Simpson said when he reached them.
“Thanks.”Connor cuffed all three sets of arms. It seemed like overkill, but he knew better than to take any risks. He was about to activate his earpiece to ask how many were still on the loose when a shrill whistle sounded, calling them back.
“Well,”Simpson said as he helped Connor pick the Noren up, “I guess that’s that.”
“All in a day’s work, Simpson, all in a day’s work.”At least, for a personal assistant at Primrose.
Excerpt from Chapter 4
Someone keeps calling Connor…
After a morning filled with nothing but processing crates for the Archive Department, Connor cursed slow days. Normally, they’d be a blessing, especially after a busy week, but for some reason, he was wired for action. At least lunch with Isa had been fun, as always.
He sighed and looked at the stack of crates still standing next to his desk. He really wanted to work on his report of the incident at Clyde’s. He had been working on it all Sunday. But first, he needed to get through this lot.
He grabbed the next crate. Maroon sphere, the label read. Connor snorted. He doubted it came close to its actual name, but Primrose had never been very original in naming things. There were no warnings on the label, so he picked it up and twirled the small sphere around in his hands. It was warm to the touch, but didn’t react to warm or cold, according to the report from Research.
The ringing of his mobile startled him. No one ever called his personal phone during working hours. He fished it out of his backpack and looked at the caller ID, which was decidedly blank. Probably someone who’d mistyped the number. He put the mobile in his backpack and turned his attention back to the sphere.
Which was glowing.
He frowned and browsed the report, but there was nothing in there about glowing. Connor was not surprised to find it hadn’t been tested with sound waves.
He put the sphere back into the crate and closed it. Then he rang Research. Lieutenant Holloway’s direct line.
“Hello, Lieutenant. Connor Smith here.”
“What are you sending back this time, Connor?”
“I prefer a quick pick up, actually.” Connor rattled off the registration code for the maroon sphere. “It glowed when my mobile rang. Report doesn’t mention glowing, or testing with sound waves.”
Holloway must have put his hand over the phone, but Connor still heard him curse. “Apologies, Connor. It never should have been sent up. A new researcher with sensitive ears and an inability to remember her right from her left. I’ll send someone up right away.”
Connor winced at Holloway’s tone, even if it wasn’t directed at him. “I’ll be waiting.”
He put the phone down with a shake of his head. That researcher was not going to like their assignments for the next week. Holloway was a strict boss, and merciless when you made a mistake. In fact, when Connor had first met Holloway, he’d mistaken him for a Security Lieutenant because of his imposing, broad build and bellowing voice. Still, that tough exterior hid a keen intelligence, and belied the graceful deftness with which he handled even the tiniest implements. Connor had learned a lot from him, when he’d still worked at Research.
He didn’t have to wait long for a shame-faced researcher to turn up with an even bigger crate.
“I’m so sorry, sir,” she mumbled as she put the crate containing the maroon sphere into the larger one and sealed it. Her face turned an even brighter shade of red when she faced him again. “It won’t happen again.”
She, at least, wouldn’t make that same mistake again. Connor handed her the accompanying forms when Tallis’ voice came through the intercom. “Connor?”
“Excuse me,” he told the researcher. He pressed the button on the intercom. “Yes, Lieutenant?”
“I’m expecting our police liaison in ten minutes. I’ll need a copy of the Noren report, the modified version.”
Connor grinned. Modified meant more nonsense about rabid dogs or monkeys to keep the local police happy. This was the fun part of working for a government-sanctioned secret organisation: making stuff up.
“Oh, and Connor?”
“I could kill for a coffee.”
“One black, no sugar coming up.”
“You’re a lifesaver, Connor.”
He turned to check on the researcher, but his office was empty. No manners. He shook his head and rose to get Tallis her coffee.
His mobile rang again. He grabbed it out of his backpack and frowned. Again, no caller ID. He hadn’t given his number to someone recently, had he? Whoever it was would have to wait. He put his mobile away and left his office to get coffee.
Tallis was on the phone when he entered her office a few minutes later, a pissed off expression on her face, and her voice sharp. “What do you mean, you didn’t realise? ... I don’t care if nothing was found, it should have been reported.”
Connor set the coffee cup on her desk and turned to leave, but she motioned him to stay.
“It’s not your decision, Agent Hughes. This is not acceptable. I want that report on my desk within the hour.” Tallis slammed her phone on her desk and sank back into her chair. “Can you believe that?”
“I’m sorry, Lieutenant, I only caught half that conversation.”
“It seems the A‑Watch had been steadily detecting traces of an unknown alloy at Presly Green for three weeks straight before team Delta was sent to check it out.” Tallis sighed. “Team Echo was sent out after the first alarm, but since they only found miniscule traces on a cultivator working the terrain, all consequent alarms were ignored. Not even a false alarm report was filed.”
“What about that oily substance on the field team Delta found? And those metallic slivers we found? I’m assuming they’re connected?”
“Apparently, A‑Watch picked up a second, larger trace of the residue some time yesterday.”
Connor shook his head. “That’s odd.”
“I hope the report will clear it up. Please bring it in as soon as it arrives?”
“I will. Anything else, Lieutenant?”
Tallis shook her head and sighed. “No, not right now. Thank you.”
With a nod, Connor turned and left her office.
As he waited for the report to be brought in, he processed three more artefacts for Archive. During that time his mobile rang twice more, and it was starting to drive him bonkers.
The report finally arrived—ten minutes late—but Tallis merely shook her head in exasperation when he brought it in.
With all the crates sorted, he opened his bottom drawer to fish his incident report out when his mobile rang for the fifth time. Beyond annoyed now, Connor picked up. “Yes?” He doubted he could sound less irritated if he tried.
At least the caller knew his name. “Who’s this?”
“Jason. Jason Powell. We met at Clyde’s the other night. Isa gave me your number.”
Oh. Hell. The blind date. He cringed. He really needed to talk to Isa about giving his number to strangers. He took a deep breath. “Yeah. I remember. Hello, Jason.”
“You want to go for a drink after work?”
Was this guy for real? He still wanted to see Connor after Saturday’s disaster? “I...” Hold on. Was he nuts? Who was he to decline a drink from a hot guy? Blond, curly, tight jeans, gorgeous. “Sure. Why not?” He could certainly use the distraction, not to mention make up for that lousy first impression.
“Good. Good. What time are you off?”
“Half six-ish.” On a good day, at least.
“Meet up at Clyde’s around seven, then?”
“I could make that,” Connor said, crossing his fingers for nothing to ruin it. The day may have been slow, but that was never a guarantee.
“Good. See you there then.”
Blaine D. Arden is a purple-haired, forty-something author of queer romance mixed with fantasy, magic, and suspense who sings her way through life in platform boots. She is an EPIC Award winning author, and her scifi romance “Aliens, Smith and Jones” received an Honourable Mention in the Best Gay Sci-Fi/Fantasy category of the Rainbow Awards 2012.
Born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, Blaine spent many hours of her sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with her Barbies. After seeing the film “An Early Frost” as a teen in the mid-eighties, an idealistic Blaine wanted to do away with the negativity surrounding homosexuality and strove to show the world how beautiful love between men could be. Our difference is our strength, is Blaine’s motto, and her stories are often set in worlds where gender fluidity and sexual diversity are accepted as is.
Author Website: https://blainedarden.com
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/BlaineDArden
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/BlaineDArdenAuthor
Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BlaineDArden
Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5043444.Blaine_D_Arden
Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/blaine-d-arden/