Thursday, January 27, 2011

Solar Flare: Emerald Earth by Elizabeth Jewell

Solar Flare: Emerald Earth
by Elizabeth Jewell
Cover art: Angela Knight
ISBN: 978-1-60521-564-8
Genre(s): Paranormal, Sci-Fi
Theme(s): Vampires, Gay and Lesbian
Series: Solar Flare
Length: Novella
Twenty-five years after its disappearance, the long-haul freighter Lightning Girl returns to Earth with only two passengers left alive. Ash and Trev were lovers when catastrophe befell the freighter, but after twenty-five years of solitude and starvation, things may never be the same between them again.

Solar Flare: Emerald Earth

Elizabeth Jewell

All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2011 Elizabeth Jewell

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

Cal Harper was five years old when the long haul freighter Lightning Girl disappeared. He remembered seeing the news story on Widenet one evening while he was eating chicken bites and macaroni and thinking it was the saddest thing he'd ever heard. All those people lost, so far from home, and probably nobody would ever know what had happened to them.

But life went on. He never completely forgot about the lost ship, but other things occupied his attention. School, music, girls. He earned a degree in journalism, fell in love with a woman, did a stint on a long haul freighter himself, partly to write about it, partly to stay with the woman.

Then he lost her, and space lost its appeal for him. He observed the news and wrote about it. He mourned. Sometimes, still, he thought about Lightning Girl. Sometimes, he still wondered what had happened to her.

* * *

The news came through on the press boards. Cal was at his desk watching Widenet to see how the competition was handling a recent story about a political scandal in Italy. He glanced to his left to look at the monitor where the press alerts were scrolling across the screen and saw the words out of the corner of his eye, but what he was reading didn't quite register until he turned back to his own monitor. Then, as it clicked, he turned back to the press alerts.

A vehicle drifting past the orbit of Pluto has been identified as the long missing Lightning Girl. No information yet on whether anyone remains alive aboard the freighter.

He felt his breath rise hard and high in his chest, his heart beating faster as he remembered that day when he'd seen the story about Lightning Girl's disappearance. Twenty-five years. What were the chances anyone would still be alive? Although there had been a vampire on board, he remembered.

Italy, he decided, could wait. This was his new story.

* * *

Trev was worried about Ash. He'd been worried for so long it had become a constant background hum, a slow buzz of anxiety that colored every moment. Even when he slept now, as deeply as the daysleep took him, he felt the tension, and it leached its way into his dreams.

Twenty-five years. Ash had been a vampire for twenty-five years, and at no point during that time had he been able to function with full nutrition, full rest, or any of the things he needed to understand and control the vampire nature Trev had conferred on him.

Sometimes, looking at Ash's haunted eyes, the way he flinched now whenever he left the compact solitude of his tiny sleeping berth, Trev wondered if he should have just let Ash die.

But then he would have been alone the last quarter century, facing the same kind of deprivation and flying in silent solitude into the dark.

He'd done it before. No vampire lived as long as Trev had without experiencing at least one long bout of solitude and starvation. It was one of the many dangers inherent in immortality. Once he'd spent six months buried when the building he'd been in had collapsed in an earthquake.

But Trev had been two centuries old when that had happened. He'd been familiar with his systems, with his body, with his hunger. Ash had none of that. Ash had plunged directly from human to vampire. Silent, isolated, starving vampire.

When they'd made the decision -- under duress, soaked with the fear of imminent death -- they'd had no idea they'd be alone this long. Trev had suspected it, or at least had known somewhere in the back of his mind it was a possibility, but the need to stay alive, to keep Ash alive, had overridden caution about what might happen.

Vampire as he was, Trev was still in many ways human.

So was Ash. In many more ways. And that was what made it all so hard.

Trev had been in the engineering section when they first entered a space where the stars seemed familiar. He'd stared at the readouts for a time, looking at the numbers, at the graphical representations of the space they'd entered. The twinge of recognition at the back of his skull made him squint more closely, and finally made him get up, leave engineering, and go to the bridge.

They'd had the baffles closed over the main viewscreen for a long time. Years, maybe. Trev wasn't sure. An irate screeling noise rose from them when Trev activated the switch to open them.

They opened, though, slowly and ponderously and with great protest. Trev settled down into the captain's chair and stared out at the vast black.

A vast black spread with stars he knew.

Something tight and hot inside him loosened. For a long, suspended moment he thought he might weep. Then he blinked, and smiled, and went to tell Ash.

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