This week I’m teasing my Project Enterprise: The Shorts (not high school girls in shorts, short stories, people):
About: Men in Jeans
A romantic suspense mystery
Richard Daniels thinks life can’t any stranger working at Area 51until he gets assigned to find out where a Houston area SF writer gets the ideas for her books. Should be an easy assignment—if it weren’t for the dead guy in her back yard and the non-business related ideas she’s giving him. (Originally appeared in the Death in Texas anthology)
“Why are you really here?”
He studied her for what seemed like a long time. “You appear to have—come into possession of classified material.”
“What? What classified material?”
“I can’t tell you that. It’s classified.”
“You can’t tell me what classified material you think I already have?”
“And where is the evidence of this classified…” She stopped. “My books? You think my books contain classified material?”
“Have you been in contact with anyone in the government, ma’am?”
“Only the IRS. They’re fans of my money since my books started selling well. I don’t know if they read them.”
He actually smiled. A nice smile. Might have curled the toes in her shoes if he weren’t freaking crazy.
“It’s in your best interests to cooperate with us, ma’am.”
“Kind of hard to cooperate when I don’t know what your problem is.” She huffed out a frustrated sigh, fought her way to calm. “I write science fiction. I make it up. How could making up stuff be classified?”
“That’s a good question. But…”
“The answer is classified?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He was quiet for a minute. “What about experts who help you with technical stuff?”
“Experts? You mean experts in scientific advances that haven’t been discovered yet? Or are fictional? Those kind of experts?”
He didn’t blink. “Yes, ma’am.”
Jilly leaned forward, hissing through clenched teeth. “Aren’t any. Don’t exist. I make it all up.” She leaned back, taking a couple of deep breaths. “Have you read my books?”
“I read one of them, the first one.” He smiled again. “It was good.”
“But somehow classified.”
Do you feel teased yet? How about a little from the other short story in the collection:
A romantic steampunk adventure
The man formerly known as Tobias Smith hadn’t planned to ride along with Dr. Everly and his Medicine Show. Grifters gave him a pain their elixirs couldn’t heal. But he was headed to Marfa, too. And Everly’s son turned out to be a really a fine looking damsel—one in distress when the ghost lights of Marfa bump them into an alternate reality complete with an automaton gang and airships. Could he be the good guy? Be the hero, save the day and get the girl? (Originally appeared in Dreamspell Steampunk Vol 1)
Ani called him stranger inside her head, because he sure wasn’t a “Joe.” To his face she didn’t call him anything cause she couldn’t call him what he wasn’t. Hadn’t said much of anything to him, not since he’d ridden over the rise three days ago and Pa invited him to ride along with them. He was headed to Marfa, too, though that was all he’d shared about himself of a personal nature. He didn’t talk much, which suited Pa, since he talked enough for all of them and a few more besides.
Wary for reasons she hadn’t figured out yet, she’d watched him through her lashes, mostly at night around the campfire, though her gaze might accidentally stray his direction now and again in daylight. She took care not to meet that hard-as-a-drill gaze, since she was supposed to be a boy and she didn’t feel like one when she looked at him. And if he looked too close, he’d know she wasn’t that young. Good thing she took after her blessed Ma, who had looked young until the day she went to her reward.
Ani’d exchanged skirts for pants when they took to the road selling the elixir from the rear of the wagon. Like her Pa, their wagon walked a fine line between serious and spectacle, as did his English accent. He claimed to be gentry, a younger son who’d eloped with the under housemaid and been shipped off to the colonies to remove the stain of his disgrace from the family name. Sometimes she believed it was true. She could talk gentry like him when the situation called for it, which it didn’t that much. Mostly she looked peaked and moaned so her Pa could heal her. Her gaze skittered the stranger’s way again. Not sure she could do either in front of him.
A lot of men had passed by—or even stopped to buy—since that day they took to the road, but none as interesting as the stranger.