Sunday, September 17, 2006

Guest Blogger! Susan Grant

We're honored to have award winning alien romance author Susan Grant as our guest.

copyright Susan Grant 2006
MARCH 2007
ISBN 0373771924; HQN books

This uncorrected excerpt may contain errors and other text not found in the final printed novel and is not for sale. Please don’t share the text with anyone without first receiving permission from the author to do so.



Reuters – one hour ago

WASHINGTON, DC (Reuters) – After spending much of the night in emergency meetings, a visibly emotional President Laurel Ramos announced that the alien invasion force threatening Earth has been turned away. “Today we have two new heroes—California State Senator Jana Jasper and her extraordinary extraterrestrial friend, Cavin of Far Star. It is not an exaggeration to say that they saved the world. I hereby rescind the state of emergency and declare this day a national holiday. Senator Jasper, Major Far Star, today we celebrate your courage and vision as one world newly united by a common cause. A very grateful world, indeed.”

Over the weekend, Jasper, 32, and Far Star, 34(est.) were taken by officials to an undisclosed location in the western United States where the pair were successful in deterring the invasion. Because of possible monitoring of Earth communications by the aliens, full details on the operation will not be revealed. At the news, celebrations broke out all over the world.

The tale of terror and daring had a romantic beginning. Jasper, the youngest child of US congressman John Jasper and former Soviet Ballet dancer Larisa Porizkova met Far Star in the late 1980s when both were children. Far Star’s father, a scientist, traveled to Earth to determine its suitability for alien habitation, a fact not known by Far Star at the time. Sources close to the couple say that after landing in the invisible spacecraft on the Jasper family ranch, young Far Star sneaked away to explore on his own and encountered the girl. “It was love at first sight,” enthuses Evie Holloway, 35, Jasper’s sister.

Despite the brevity of their initial meeting and the passage of over two decades, the pair never forgot each other. According the sources close to the couple, Far Star abandoned his post as a high-ranking military Coalition officer to warn Jasper that plans were underway for an invasion of Earth. Despite several attempts on his life by an interstellar assassin, now presumed dead, and the almost-fatal destruction of the computers implanted in his body caused by the attacks, Far Star has apparently triumphed, Jasper at his side.

“I wouldn’t get your hopes too high,” the popular senator warned officials after leaving the remote location where she and Far Star are said to have battled the alien fleet. “It was a delay tactic, not a permanent fix. It buys us time to prepare and that’s all.”

“These Coalition dudes are coming back, no doubt about that,” advised Jared Jasper, 36, the senator’s brother. “And whether we like it or not, all of us will be on the frontlines when they do.” The Sacramento real-estate developer and National Guard fighter pilot assisted in fighting off the alien invasion, although details on his role in the operation were not available due to security concerns.

A press conference is scheduled for later today at Mercy Hospital in Sacramento, where legendary Jasper patriarch and former California governor Jake Jasper was rushed early this morning after suffering a massive stroke.

Chapter One

A planet far, far away

The newly installed Minister of Coalition Intelligence listened in astonishment as an unexpected visitor vented his spleen.

“Far Star must be terminated!”

The minister couldn’t quite get over the coldness in his superior’s eyes. You look as if you could do the job with your own two hands. He made a fist in his lap behind his desk where no one could spy the symptom of his nervousness—or his grogginess. He’d been summoned straight out of bed and a deep sleep, made necessary after a hastily arranged meeting regarding a shocking encounter with a small, isolated world known only as Earth had kept him up far too late. “Far Star? As in Prime-major Far Star?”

“Yes, that one!”

The minister couldn’t remember the officer causing any trouble. In fact, quite the opposite. Far Star seemed an affable sort, young and handsome. Intelligent with a bright future. But his superior had been in the government since before he was born. Who was the minister to question that experience?

You ought to be standing, he realized suddenly, and started to get up. He’d been the Minister of Coalition Intelligence for all of a week, not long enough to get over being a little star-struck dealing so personally with palace leaders—Supreme Commander Neppal, Supreme-second Fair Cirrus, Prime Minister Rissallen, and the eunuch Tibor Frix, captain of the Palace Guard—although he’d not yet met the queen, thank the gods.

At the thought of Queen Keira, the minister winced. Other men might like gorgeous, spoiled, willful, wildly unpredictable powerful women. He did not.

“Be seated,” his superior commanded. Please. I’m here off the record.”

Indeed. There was nothing lawful about an in-house assassination.

“The order was put in three Septumdays ago! Receipt was confirmed by one of your REEFs—the very best, I was promised. Yet, we’ve heard nothing, and now Far Star is missing. I had the late minister insert a code in the kill order giving the REEF a time limit to track down and kill Far Star. One week! It is past that. What happened?”

Barbaric, the minister thought. He knew it was possible to rig an assassin for self-destruct but never heard of it being done. But with a crime this heinous, one wouldn’t want tracks leading back to the source, would they? Better to kill the killer and eliminate any messy evidence. “I’ll see if I can contact the REEF.” He swiveled his chair to access his computer. His communication would be delivered directly to a computer implanted in the individual assassin’s brain, giving a level of security unmatched by any other means. After several tries under intense scrutiny, there was no answer. As a last-ditch effort, the minister pinged the REEF’s ship. Nothing.

“I am unable to contact him. Because of the time limit, since the REEF hasn’t reported back within the prescribed limit, I’m afraid he’s likely suffered a total breakdown of his internal computer systems.”

“Gods be damned. He’s dead?”

“Or a vegetable.”

“Hire me another one!” His superior slammed a hand down on the desk, scattering the most recent panicked communiqué from the fleet commander fleeing Planet Earth’s unexpected wrath. That is the true threat here, this new and powerful world, not Far Star. Yes, the minister needed to devote his attention to galactic matters, but at home trouble was brewing, kill orders were flying, and despite being the supposed overseer of intelligence, he knew nothing. There was something innately humbling about being kept in the dark. But he summoned patience. “I’ll find you a new REEF, though you’d better give him a longer rope, because we don’t know where Far Star is.” Probably lying dead somewhere with the broken REEF nearby. “Meanwhile, as a safeguard, I’ll leave the viewer on the original REEF’s ship set to automatic two-way. The moment he powers up his ship, his image will be displayed onscreen in my office. Then we’ll have our answer.”

“No. Set it to appear on my personal screen, and only my screen.”

“As you wish.”

His visitor’s comm device chimed. It was unfurled and laid on the desk so that the minister, too, could see who’d called. The individual wore a hooded cloak covering his or her face. “I understand there is a problem.” It was a man—a young man by the sound of it. The voice was regally modulated with an accent that sounded familiar, but not familiar enough that the minister could place it. “Is it true? Far Star lives?”

“Far Star is missing,” the minister said. Again, he thought: I should be concentrating on the humiliating rout at Earth, not this.

“You sound distressed, minister.”

“Besides the fact that you have chosen not to identify yourself, I can’t understand this sudden interest in Far Star. He’s missing. Gone. Vanished without a trace. Isn’t that satisfactory?”

“Alive, he remains a major security risk,” his superior explained. “It is why we must locate him. He disappeared before the news was formally announced, but Prime-major Far Star has been chosen to be consort to the queen. This marriage must not take place.”

“Far Star? Royal consort? Good gods. The poor bastard. Years ago, I heard a rumor that the queen killed a man who tried to take her by force by hacking off his male parts with a plasma sword.”

“Almost killed.”

“So, it is true, then.”

“After she sliced off his bullocks, she decided that killing him would be an act of mercy. He lives on at the palace as a eunuch—and as a reminder for those suitors who would attempt to take liberties with the queen.”

The minister winced. Perhaps Far Star’s termination would not be so terrible, after all. It was like euthanizing a sick dog to save it from further misery, no? “I would think, however, a military man like Far Star would make an ideal consort. With martial arts and weapons training, at least he’d stand a chance at defending himself against her.”

“A military man would make an excellent consort indeed. The right military man.” The man onscreen threw back his hood. “Me.”

Good gods. “You’’re...” If Queen Keira were to marry this...this boy, this creature, how would the Coalition survive? These conspirators don’t mean for the Coalition to survive. “I will not be part of this!”

“You’ve already done your part, minister. Thanks to your help, the queen and I will enjoy a long and productive marriage.”

Something hard pressed coldly against the back of the minister’s skull. While he’d been focused on the comm, his superior had rounded the desk. Reflected in a crystal souvenir of the minister’s last assignment on New Darva was the reflection of a gun being held to his head.

Of course, you fool. You know too much to be left alive. Briefly, he wondered what had happened to his predecessor. The woman’s death had been ruled a tragic accident, but now he wondered. Perhaps, after issuing the original kill order, she, too, knew too much. Or perhaps the previous minister had been more courageous and refused to do as these men asked.

Does it matter what path you chose? The final result will be the same.

The minister stared at his desktop and waited for the burst of light that would end his life. It was a plasma gun: a merciful choice in weapons. The end would be quick and clean, and everything the demise of the Coalition wouldn’t be if the circumstances of the queen’s upcoming nuptials were any hint.

But if she knew of the conspiracy, perhaps the result would be different, no? It was worth a try. With his heart thundering in his ears, the minister brushed a fingertip over the data input port on his command center, secretly linking the automatic two-way visual to the queen’s private chambers. If the REEF ever checked in, he’d check in with the queen. With any hope, and it was a tiny one indeed, she’d learn the assassin’s purpose—and the treachery behind it.

And if not, despite the confidence of her hopeful groom, Queen Keira would not go down with a fight. The image of the petulant goddess’s likely reaction to his marriage proposal was so satisfying in the minister’s mind that when the fatal shot was fired in the beautifully appointed office, he died with a smile on his face.


  1. Thanks for the excerpt. I'm very eager to read this book. Loved YOUR PLANET OR MINE. Until March is too long to wait!

  2. Wow, Susan,

    That is powerful!

    Best wishes,

    Rowena Cherry

  3. thank you so much! I'm really looking forward to this on coming out.

    I love your blog. thanks for letting me be part of it!

  4. Looking forward to this story. I really enjoyed Your Planet or Mine?

  5. Anonymous1:44 AM EDT

    Keep them coming, I just love your story lines