The closer my book Ethereal Lives gets to publication the more excited I become. While I’m sat, bouncing in my seat, waiting impatiently to share the cover with you, I thought I might share something else instead. A sneaky peek at my first chapter.
This will give you a general idea of what the book is like. I will soon be looking for people willing to give advanced reviews. If your read it and are interested in reading the rest feel free to leave a comment and I’ll happily provide you will a free copy in exchange for a review when the time comes.
So here it is my blurb and first chapter. Please bear in mind this is not the final edited version so if you spot a typo or think something doesn’t make sense feel free to let me know so I can correct it.
Hearing of Earth’s pending destruction, Ax and his men decide to grab a human and sell it to the highest bidder. But he doesn’t realise what he is getting when they pick Ariane. Believing humans to be simple, docile creatures, he gets a big shock when he finally meets one.
Ariane grew up tough. She knows how to defend herself, and has no plans to go to the auction block quietly. She intends to stop at every planet, see everything, and push every button she can along the way and she’s dragging Ax along for the ride.
When Ax gets taken prisoner Ariane must decide what she wants more. Her freedom or the man loves.
Ariane Wilson raised a hand to her heavy head, trying to shake the fog that clouded it. She had been reading a book on the beach in Barbados. Had she fallen asleep in the sun?
“Look, I know we were short on time but Ax isn’t going to like this.”
The voice broke through her hazy mind causing her to groan when a dull ache prodded her temples. “Go away, I’m on holiday.”
When she opened her eyes, she winced at the bright light and threw an arm over her face to shield it. She wasn’t on the beach now; she was sure of that.
“Well, it’s awake so I guess we’ll find out what Ax thinks soon enough.”
Ariane attempted to open her eyes again. The light didn’t seem quite as bright this time. A large lamp hung above her, reflecting off of white walls. Was she in a hospital? There was no clinical smell that you would normally associate with such a place but it certainly appeared sterile.
“Do you understand me?” someone asked.
“Err, yeah.” She glanced around the room in confusion, though there wasn’t much to see, just a door and tiled white walls and two men stood a few feet away. “Where am I?”
“On our ship,” a tall man replied, staring at her quizzically.
Ship? She didn’t remember a ship. Yes, she’d been at the beach. However, she had no recollection of a ship being in the sea. The fog began to lift from her brain. “Okay, why am I on a ship?”
“You are our prisoner,” a shorter man said.
Ariane blinked a few times as she regarded them. They didn’t look like kidnappers. Yes, she’d heard about people being kidnapped when on holiday, and sold as slaves but she felt pretty sure they didn’t get put in rooms this clean. If that had been the case she imagined she’d be in some grotty room, probably tied up and the captors would be dirty and unshaven. These men were clean and well dressed in jeans and tourist shirts with parrots on them. They both and round stomachs though one was about a foot taller than the other. They appeared more like a friendly uncle than a sleazy person trafficker. Still, looks could be deceiving.
With caution, she sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Both men jumped back slightly as if wary of her.
She frowned at them. That was a strange reaction for a kidnapper. It calmed her nerves and helped her voice stay steady. “Right, as fun as this has been I think it’s time to end it, so if you could just drop me at the next port I’d really appreciate it”
The tall man took a step towards her. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”
She leant back, relieved when he didn’t come any closer. “Of course.”
“Good, as I said, you’re our prisoner.”
Ariane stared at them for a moment, fidgeting under the man’s stare.
“Okay, is this a joke?” Her eyes darted towards the door, wondering if one of her work colleagues was waiting to run in laughing. “I know. It’s reality TV, isn’t it? I bet I signed up by mistake, by clicking on one of those stupid pop ups on the PC.”
When the men didn’t respond and just continued to stare, she decided she might as well take a good look at the room. After all, didn’t you have to complete tasks in these shows? Escape from a beach or eat bugs in a jungle. Maybe she had to get off their ship. Sliding off the bed she placed a hand on the wall for support. Whatever had knocked her out earlier made her unsteady on her feet. The room spun, she swayed and her vision blurred. Taking a few deep breaths, she regained her footing and her eyes came back into focus.
“You stabbed me in the neck.” She touched the spot she remembered stinging, that now felt tender.
“We did not!” the tall one responded instantly.
“You did, I remember. I was on the beach and you pulled me to my feet and stabbed me in the neck.”
“Since your neck is not cut open and bleeding I think we can safely assume you remember incorrectly.”
Ariane narrowed her eyes. “You stabbed a needle in my neck,” she clarified.
“Oh yes, we did that,” the short one replied, smiling as if it was of no significance.
Ariane looked around the room warily Okay, she was pretty sure they didn’t drug you on reality TV. She took a couple of steps to check her balance. When she didn’t fall face first onto the floor and the men didn’t stop her, she decided it was safe to move around. “Where are we?”
“On. Our. Ship,” the tall man repeated slowly as if speaking to a child.
Ariane sent him a glare. “Yes, I got that bit the first time. I meant, where is the ship?”
“All around you?” the small one asked.
She blinked a few times before continuing to creep towards the door. Either this was a really poor joke or Dumb and Dumber here were literally the stupidest people on the planet. “Where is the ship currently situated?”
“Well, we can’t give you the correct coordinates from here,” Tall Man said. “I’d guess about 700 miles from Earth.”
Ariane stopped abruptly and stared at him for a moment before laughing. “Oh that’s a good one, so this is a space ship, is it?”
She watched their faces for any sign of humour but none appeared. “Great. I’ve been kidnapped by a mental asylum.”
Continuing, walking around the wall her fingers skimmed over what felt like a raised panel and she stopped to take a closer look at it. When she gave it a push the panel shot out to reveal clean bedding.
“Nifty.” Leaving the panel showing, she continued walking.
She got about three feet from the door when a voice spoke into the room. “Is it awake yet?”
Ariane jumped at the noise, looking around for speakers, a moment later the small man revealed a panel next to the door and answered.
“Yes, a few moments ago, we’re bringing it up now.” He touched a button and the door slid open to reveal a corridor.
The tall man moved closer, herding her towards the entrance.
“Where are we going?” she asked, feeling uneasy about all this.
“The captain wants to meet you.”
“The captain of the space ship?”
Ariane glanced between the two men who were now freaking her out.
What were her options? Stay here indefinitely or go with them? With any luck, this actually was a reality show, and she could be about to win a quarter of a million pounds. All right, maybe that prize fund did sound a bit extreme but hey, might as well hope for the best.
“Okay,” she said, standing straighter and running a hand through her hair. “What the hell, this is a space ship and I’m your prisoner so, take me to your leader.” She accompanied the last bit of her sentence with the Vulcan, live long and prosper hand signal.
“Do you understand it?” the tall man asked the short man, as they both stared at her, puzzled.
The short man shook his head before exiting the room. “Maybe Ax will. Come on.”
Tall Man stood behind her and gave her a quick nudge in the back. She jolted forward in surprise then found herself being escorted down the long corridor.
Unlike the room, the walls of the corridor were silver. The only seam ran along the centre of the ceiling, like the entire wall was one long sheet of metal. The ceiling was an arch, where the walls curved inwards to meet in the middle.
“What’s that?” she asked pausing abruptly outside of an open door.
“Recreation room,” Tall Man replied before nudging her forward.
A few paces further she stopped again. “What’s this?” She pushed a panel on the wall before they could stop her and gave a little squeal of delight when the lights turned blue.
“Don’t do that,” Small Man snapped pushing her aside and pressing buttons on the panel to change the lights back. Seeing both men distracted Ariane pressed yet another panel and jumped back with a gasp when a stern voice said, “yes?”
Tall Man shoved her out of the way and spoke to the panel. “Sorry Sir, a little mix-up, will be with you in a moment. Now stop touching,” he said with a glare before grabbing her arm and dragging her down the corridor.
They stopped outside another door and Small Man revealed a brightly lit keypad. He pressed some buttons to slide a door open and then pushed her into a room.
With a yelp, Ariane stumbled forward only just stopping herself from falling face first onto the floor. She seemed to be in some kind of control room. Along one wall was a huge metal control centre, covered in flashing lights and buttons. A few people were seated around the room and in the centre stood a tall and handsome man. His hair was short and dark, his eyes were a smoky grey, and his strong jaw was set in a firm line. Arms that bulged with muscles crossed over his well-defined chest. He was dressed in some kind of black leather trousers with a leather jacket on top, but no shirt.
“Hello gorgeous,” Ariane mumbled taking in Mr Tall, dark and Handsome. Her eyes travelled up his body until they met his smoky gaze. Unfortunately, she didn’t see any matching appreciation there. Instead, he looked rather annoyed and unimpressed.
His eyes travelled from the top of her head to the tip of her toes before moving to her abductors. Despite his obvious disdain, she felt herself shiver as his gaze passed over her breasts.
“What is this?” he asked her abductors in the same stern voice she had heard over the intercom. So this was the captain.
Dumb and Dumber shuffled their feet as they avoided meeting his eyes. “An Earthling,” Tall Man said in a surprisingly confident voice.
The captain’s gaze travelled back to Ariane. “This is not what I asked for.”
“Well it’s the best we could do,” Small Man replied with a shrug.
“Did I not show you pictures of what I wanted?” He went to the control panel and pressed a few buttons, a picture of a like a lingerie model appeared on a screen, on the wall. “In what way does that,” he pointed at her, “resemble that?” He directed their attention to the screen.
Both men stared at their feet, apparently lost for words. Ariane looked at the picture on the screen. The woman seemed to be a size six, a far cry for her size fourteen. Where the model had long blonde locks, Ariane wore her mahogany hair cut off at the shoulders. Her body currently, wearing a one piece swimsuit and a sarong would look ridiculous in the lacy underwear on the screen.
“You know most normal women don’t look like her?” she piped up, wrapping her arms around her midriff self-consciously. All three sets of eyes to turned to her. The captain took a final glance at the screen then walked forward.
Where the other two men had seemed puny and non-threatening, this man was the total opposite. He screamed strength and power. She took an involuntary step back as he drew near.
“Why did you bring this?” he asked the other men while he circled her.
Tall man ran his hand through his hair before speaking. “It’s harder to get a female Earthling than you would think. It’s the only one we could find who was alone in such a short amount of time.”
The captain stopped in front of her once again looking her over from top to bottom, before turning away. “It will have to do, there are no more left. We’ll set a course for Xanlas to refuel before making our way to the Sixth Galaxy.”
Dumb and Dumber rushed to take seats at the control centre as the captain pressed buttons, removing the model from the screen.
“Wait… wait… wait,” Ariane said, waving her arms to remind them she was still in the room. “What’s all this Xanlas business? Who the hell are you? Where am I? No more what left? And will you please stop referring to me as it?” She took a big gulp of air when she finished speaking as her eyes darted around the room in panic.
Everyone fell silent and all heads turned to her. The captain walked closer with steel in his eyes. He circled her once more before answering. “Did I say you could speak, Earthling?”
Ariane stared at the man who was obviously trying to intimidate her. A little voice in her head screamed at her to run. To find the first exit she could and get off this crazy train before it derailed. She stamped on it, crushing it under her foot.
She’d spent all her youth in foster care with people who liked to intimidate and bully her so she would toe the line. As soon as she became independent she’d promised herself no one would walk all over her again and no one had since.
She crossed her arms over her chest and stood straightener, giving an impression of confidence she was far from feeling. “You didn’t say I couldn’t speak.”
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