TITLE: In Enemy Hands
AUTHOR: M.A. Church
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Anne Cain
LENGTH: 73006 words / 214 Pages
RELEASE DATE: December 30, 2016
BLURB: Two very different civilizations—one bathed in bright sunlight and the other veiled in shadow.
Bad decisions, declining resources, and a king on the brink of madness force Prince Varo Kutchif, third son of the royal family and a starship captain, to attempt the impossible: barter for Black Phospolrock, an energy source the mysterious Helkan Kingdom has in abundance. Varo opens a line of communication with Adlar, an intriguing Helkan who seems to reciprocate Varo’s interest. He hopes so, because if negotiations collapse, Varo has orders to attack.
The Helkans preside over a planet shrouded in perpetual darkness. Several species have tried to exploit its natural resources through trade with them, but all have failed. Adlar Mondur is the older brother to the Helkan ruler. An assassin of the highest order, he’ll do anything to protect his king and his people—including tracking down the Yesri prince who crash-lands on their planet, leaving an ugly scar across its untouched beauty.
Thus begins a journey where two men from disparate civilizations grow from enemies to lovers.
Tension griped his shoulders as he hesitated. The safest thing to do was retreat and go in another direction. Otherwise things could get nasty. But what if the prey was Varo? He sincerely hoped that wasn’t his princeling bleeding out.
Adlar upped his pace, following the scent of blood, stunner at the ready. Once he found the source, he’d find the batar. The beast was over seven feet long and almost four feet high, with a three-foot-long tail. They weighed around six hundred pounds. The animal’s fur was either black as night or a deep, dark purple, and thick… and he really didn’t wish to battle it.
It was a majestic creature that didn’t deserve to die so he could get his hands on Varo. That wasn’t to say he wouldn’t give it a small zap with his stunner so it’d move along. He followed the batar’s call, the sense something was wrong hurrying him along.
The heavy, wild scent of the animal hit him first, followed by the metallic odor of blood. Adlar stopped and kneeled. An unusually huge dark purple batar paced under a thick-based tree with a full canopy. Even though the feline had claws, it hadn’t attempted to climb up. Smart animal.
The broad leaves had a jagged edge and the tree’s sap acted as a numbing agent. Adlar shook his head as he examined the scene in front of him. On a lower branch where the leaves parted, he spotted a boot. His people knew what the leaves were capable of, so that left one possibility.
The batar crouched under the tree, then roared, the call a deadly promise. Adlar tensed, his body readying itself for battle. Abruptly the batar snapped its head toward Adlar. A long scar meandered down its face. The feline’s large black eyes stared straight in his direction. Adlar stood. With sure steps he strode forward toward the tree the batar guarded. He stopped.
Still maintaining eye contact with the beast, he let loose a chuffing grunt that sounded as though it came from his gut. The primal sound filled the vicinity. The big feline cocked its head, still swishing its tail madly.
The batar stood to its full height and prowled toward Adlar, fangs bared. Adlar too bared his fangs. It stalked straight at him… then reared up on its hind legs, draping its body over Adlar’s, a giddy purr bellowing from the animal.
Laughing, Adlar holstered his stunner and hugged the massive animal. “Dar!”
M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!
When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.
She is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
You can also email the author at – firstname.lastname@example.org
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