Space Rep: Oh, this junk heap is definitely in need of Salvation!
Liza: Stop picking on my ship and transport the book.
Space Rep: Got it....oooooooooh!
Liza: Wow, that's a beautiful cover, with great detail. Well done, Sal! You don't mind if I call you Sal, do you?
Book: I've no idea why she's asking for permission, it's not as if she can hear my response. Sure, Crazy Lady who pretends to talk to books, call me whatever you want.
Space Rep: Sal, Liza can hear you, and trust me when I tell you that you do NOT want to piss her off. She has a fiery temper.
Book: Oh dear...I do apologize, Liza. I've never known a human who could hear any books other than those high-priced audios.
Liza: Well, I had intended to toss you out into the vacuum of space. but I can't find the air lock.
Book: Please don't. I'm really sorry for the misunderstanding. How can I make it up to you?
Liza: Tell me about yourself, and accept your name being shortened to Sal without complaint.
Space Rep: She can't spell words longer than 3 letters before her fingers tangle.
Sal: Well, I can't type at all, so I won't judge. And I would love to tell you about myself.
Liza: Excellent, let's hear it.
Sal: My story is about Samantha Simmons who knows she's out of time and needs to take drastic measures to escape her fate. Her bleak and solitary existence in an underground sewer is about to be compromised by a gang of thugs whose leader wants her for his own nefarious purposes. Driven past the point of desperation, Samantha does what any self-respecting woman would do: she poses as a young man to get a job aboard a cargo ship with an all-male crew.
Liza: How odd, that is exactly what I'd do in the same situation.
Space Rep: She's not kidding. She has a whole series about a heroine pretending to be a young man, only it's set back in the 19th century.
Liza: Let Sal continue.
Sal: But will--
Space Rep: STOP! Don't ask her a question. She hates questions she doesn't know the answer to.
Sal: Thanks for the heads up. Samantha's hope to find salvation in outer space remains uncertain.
Between learning how to perform her duties on the spaceship and avoiding assault or certain death at the hands of the unsavory characters she meets, Samantha spends her time guarding her secret identity and fighting her growing feelings for the handsome and scrupulously honorable Captain Morse.
All too soon, she has to make the ultimate choice: will she tell him her secret and face his wrath, or will she leave and protect her honor?
Oh, that was a question...am I in trouble?
Liza: No - introspective questions are fine. I'm constantly asking myself if should I throw Space Rep out or keep him, but I don't expect anyone to know the answer to the question.
Sal: *Wipes brow* Thank Goodness. Can I go home now?
Liza: I'd like to peek beneath your covers and read a bit.
Sal: You do know I'm a girl book, right?
Liza: I'm aware you are sci-fi-rom if that is your question.
Sal: Okay, then. I just didn't want to be tossed into the vacuum of space for being myself.
I knew immediately that he was the captain. He must have been well over six standard feet tall, but it wasn't so much his height as his stature. He exuded confidence and power, and the set of his broad shoulders and his wide stance as he surveyed the vast expanse of the cargo hold made him seem larger than life. His muscles bulged as he gestured or pointed, and the other huge men scurried around like ants, working quickly as he shouted orders.
He wore a cream-colored shirt and cotton pants which were tucked into knee length boots. There was a leather holster casually slung about his waist with a large gun on one side and an equally large knife on the other. Even from the back he looked dangerous, but maybe that was only because, due to my own short size, I was standing about eye level with the gun and knife.
Another tall man with blond hair and a confident stride walked over and handed him a scanner. "Sir, we've got a last-minute request from the Empress to transport medical supplies to her daughter on Galileo."
The captain frowned and looked down at the scanner. "Damn! We don't have room for all that cargo. But if we don't take it, we'll probably never be allowed to land here again."
He thought for a moment, then called out to a man directing a forklift, "Riggs, we need to unload those torches from Antares. Call Beck and see if he can use them."
"Yes, sir," The other man nodded and pulled out a communicator.
Handing back the scanner, the captain commented, "Nice catch, Jeremiah. Once those torches are unloaded we can load up the medical supplies. If Riggs can't get Beck to take them, just find someone to give them to so they're off the ship in thirty minutes. We'll have to take the loss."
"Consider it done, sir."
Riggs walked off, so I figured now was as good a chance as any to make my move. If I had been any less desperate, I might have reconsidered. I had the feeling that if he didn't like me, he would probably squash me with one heavily booted foot. But thinking about what awaited me outside the doors behind me strengthened my resolve, so I squared my shoulders again and walked forward until I was standing just behind him.
He must have had a sixth sense, because he turned around quickly and I came to an abrupt halt. I was struck by the handsomeness of his face. He had sharp, well-defined features and thick brown hair that was a bit too long. His piercing green eyes felt like two headlights, and I froze, feeling as if I were a Palonian deer. It didn't help that he looked twice as large up close as he had from afar, his muscular frame dwarfing my smaller one.
"Who are you?" The question thundered at me in the same tone he used when giving orders. I was still gaping at him and he started to look impatient. "Spit it out," he ordered.
"I-I'm the new recruit for translator, sir," I stuttered, trying to sound confident.
"You're the new recruit." He said flatly, raising one eyebrow.
He looked me up and down, his gaze as sharp as a hawk's. I tried not to fidget but I knew what he was seeing. My tiny figure made me look like a child next to the rest of the crew, even with the sweatshirt. I had closely cropped my brown hair and subtly added some shoulder padding, which with my layered T-shirts usually allowed me to pass as a boy if people didn't look too closely. But the captain's gaze was astute and I had a feeling not much would get past him.
After a quick once-over, he started barking out questions. "What is your name?"
"How old are you?"
"Seventeen, sir." Although I was really twenty-one, I knew that I would never pass for a man that age.
He bent down slightly and his eyes bore into me. "Seventeen? You look twelve. Do you even have whiskers yet?"
"Um, no, sir."
"Have you ever worked on a transport ship before?"
"Have you ever been off-planet before?"
"No, sir." I was getting a bad feeling about the way this interview was going. A couple more 'No sirs' and I'd be watching my only hope to get off this planet from the ground. I had no doubt that Raz and his thugs would be waiting happily for me.
"Have you ever worked as a translator before?"
"I can understand over fifty languages and speak twenty-eight, sir." My voice held a note of confidence I didn't feel, but I had to do something. My heart pounded hard in my chest, and as he considered my words I knew this was the deciding moment.
"Really." It was more of a statement than a question.
He bent down to my eye level and held my gaze with his, but I knew I spoke the truth and I didn't look away. Finally, he stood up and ran a hand through his shaggy hair.
"Look, Simmons. This is against my better judgment. This is not the alliance. We are a private cargo ship and some of the characters we deal with are...less than savory. However, I badly need a translator since Fitts was...retired...and our docking rights expire in..." He checked his watch. "…fifty-three standard minutes."
He pointed back to the cargo bay entrance and my heart sank. But then he barked, "Grab your things and report to Jeremiah over there. He'll see that someone gets you settled in."
"Yes, sir." I turned around to escape before he could change his mind. I also didn't want him to see my face, because I could not contain my happiness. My heart was jumping for joy, and I knew that once in the air, I would be safe.
Space Rep: That was bloody fabulous. Can I buy this?
Liza: I agree. If you can find the links, you may buy it.
Space Rep: Got it. May I read it first?
Sal: Since you are in an agreeing moment, may I go home now?
Liza: Tell me about your fabulous author who evidently thinks a bit like me.
Sal: Aeon Igni is a romance writer from Phoenix, Arizona. She spent her mid-20s to mid-30s living and working in Asia, Australia, and the Middle East; and all of that earthly travel inspired her mind to reach for the stars. She wrote many unpublished manuscripts while abroad, and is now looking forward to sharing them with readers.
Liza: That is so weird. I've also spent time in Asia and Australia, and wrote lots of books while there. However, the ones in Australia were handwritten and it turns out I can't read my writing, so those three novels are lost. But just like Aeon, I have a great deal of novels in back log because I had this sixth sense that publishing and promoting would reduce my time writing. So for many years, I wrote without a thought to publishing. I did work with published critters, and finally one of them dragged me into publishing.
When you get back to Aeon in 3 days'time, ask her if she has a missing twin, because we seem to have a connection, both of us write about young women who choose to be young men but fall in love with the guy in charge. In addition, we've both delayed publishing during our work years and traveled the globe, all the while writing. However, Aeon's fabulous book is out now, so you buy it at once. The first book of my historical Xavier & Vic mysteries is slotted for this August.
Sal: Hold on! What do you mean in 3 days time? I want to leave now.
Liza: Sorry, my transport service is only guaranteed to work once every 3 days. So if I send you back now, you could arrive missing half your words, pages and back cover.
Sal: Nevermind. I'll stay and we'll share stories instead.
Liza: That sounds delightful. Here, let me dust you...
Sal: Oh stop, that tickles....
Space Rep: Go grab your own copy of this fab book and let's leave these two alone.
Space Rep: Go grab your own copy of this fab book and let's leave these two alone.