Orbiting three hundred miles above an alien planet, Space Shuttle Endeavour desperately searches for signs of life following the mass abduction of all humanity. Its crew: an Air Force colonel, an astronaut, and two teenagers.
To Leona, the mind-numbing hours of radio silence mean everyone who loves her is dead. Onboard, the one boy she might confide in hates her guts. It’s all she can do to not give up.
But when an explosion knocks the shuttle out of orbit, forcing them to crash land on the dead planet, it seems all hope is lost.
But no one expects the bizarre reality awaiting them on the surface.
I can't wait to share this book in the series with you, and I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it! And now, without further ado, here is the first teaser for Black Sun:
Black Sun, Teaser #1
Sleeping in zero gravity proved to be impossible.
The moment I closed my eyes, my body seemed to rush up with a nauseating inertia, reminding me I was still in freefall, and my eyelids sprang open. Pitch black swirled around me. I couldn’t get comfortable, couldn’t relax my tensed muscles, and each time I brushed a wall of my coffin-like sleeping station, it felt like a ceiling and I would wriggle frantically to drift back down, needing something solid underneath me.
Giving up, I yanked my sleeping bag over my head and exhaled miserably into the humid fabric.
Around me, the shuttle hummed and clicked. Oxygen hissed from vents, cooling fans and hard drives spun on and off, instruments beeped up in the flight deck, each sound like a needle prick to my ears.
Beyond the walls of my sleeping compartment, space itself seemed to howl and moan. I huddled deeper in my cocoon, trying to shut it out.
Dark was out there, watching us.
A burst of static hissed from the radio, and I jolted back from the edge of sleep, hypersensitive to every tiny noise. But nothing else came in. Frustrated, I yanked myself around in space, trying and failing to get comfortable.
At one point, I could’ve sworn I heard a chewing sound…like rats, or cockroaches.
Did space shuttles have rats?
There aren’t rats in space, Leona.
Finally, I could bear it no longer, and I groped around for the panel and slid it open. Indicator lights blinked in the darkness, casting middeck in a ghostly glow. I pushed my way out and floated over the bloodstained autopsy table, letting out a shiver.
They’d put the lamprey back in the fridge, thank God.
An eerie blue light came from the open hatch. I drifted up through it, emerging on the flight deck. The sight made my breath catch.
Beyond the cockpit blazed a dazzling, soaring panorama of stars—the entire universe—pouring in through the windows in a silvery blue haze. The shuttle teetered on the edge of infinity. I could almost reach out and touch it.
I lowered myself into Connor’s seat and ran my fingers along the rows and rows of twinkling controls—
“Couldn’t sleep either?” said a low voice on my right.
I flinched and glanced sideways to see Emory slouching in the pilot’s seat. My heart sped up further.
He wore only pajama bottoms, no shirt, and the starlight glazed off a thin sheen of sweat on his abs. Even in zero gravity, he managed to lounge like a Calvin Klein model. I really didn’t need this right now.
I averted my eyes and smoothed my hair down the back of my neck, fighting a rising collar of heat. “Should I go?”
“I’m not going to hog the only good view on the Space Shuttle, Leona. You can be in the same room as me.” His silvery blue eyes gleamed in the darkness, assessing me for a nerve-racking moment before moving back to the sea of stars.
“Your eyes are the color of Agent Blue,” I said.
“Yeah, so what?”
“I don’t know, eyes are the windows into the soul, and your eyes are the color of souls…maybe because you have a pure soul.” What are you talking about, Leona? Just shut up.
He gave a weak smile, but said nothing.
The dark mass of Tartarus revolved slowly below the shuttle’s nose, continents crawling by in shadow. “God, I hope they’re doing okay down there,” I said.
“I think we’re missing something.”
“What do you mean?”
He chewed his lower lip. “This whole thing—Dark, this planet, the lampreys—it just feels like we’re missing something.”
“Like how to beat it?”
“No, like…like Dark’s messing with us. I don’t know, like it’s playing games, like it’s been playing games this whole time.”
I twisted in my seat, holding the harness tightly across my lap, fidgeting with it. My voice came out as a whisper. “What do you think it is?”
“We’re not going to be able to kill it with a nuclear bomb, or with anthrax, or with Ebola. I don’t even know why they’re trying.”
“You said they’re doing psychological warfare. You think that’ll work?”
“That’s the thing. Dark doesn’t strike me as a rational being that you can negotiate or manipulate or use scare tactics on, it strikes me as a psychotic being. I mean, look what it’s been doing to us. If it wanted our planet, it could vaporize us in the blink of an eye. It’s like it wants to make us suffer.”
“Because it’s evil,” I murmured, hugging my knees to my chest. My long hair floated up again, the strands silky in the starlight. I sighed and gathered it to my chest—not a rubber band or hair tie in sight onboard this entire shuttle—and only then sensed him watching me.
My gaze snapped to his—and stayed there. As we stared at each other, a nervous pressure fluttered under my sternum. Were we finally going to talk about it? Why are we staring at each other?
“You’re beautiful,” he said, like it wasn’t a compliment, but a depressing fact he wished weren’t true.
My pulse thudded painfully, leaving a whisper of heartache. “You’re cruel,” I said quietly.
“I’m sorry you made that mistake, Leona,” he said. “I really am.”
That mistake…killing his sister.
I nodded and lowered my eyes, and got halfway through a swallow before my throat failed me. As the awkward silence stretched out, my fingers worked themselves into a knot.
In my periphery, he glanced around the cockpit. “You know, sex in zero gravity would be awesome.”
And of course, my mind went there—his arm rigid across my stomach, holding me in place, his lips burning the back of my neck, my fingernails digging into his thighs as I arched back into him. A hot blush worked its way up my face. “Uh…yeah…that.”
“Sex in space…” He gave a low whistle.
We could try it, offered my stupid brain. I refused to look at him, knowing my flaming cheeks would betray me. “I’m sure it would be fun, Emory.”
We lapsed into silence again, but now I couldn’t focus on the view with him right next to me. I hugged my knees tighter and hid myself behind a curtain of hair. The distorted smear of Erebus rose over Tartarus—caused by gravitational lensing, Sarah had told me—a kink in the sky just like the kink in my heart.
Neither of us spoke for a long time, until I idiotically blurted out, “What was it like dating me?”
He said nothing.
I squeezed my eyes shut, mortified. “Oh God, never mind, don’t answer that—“
“You really want to know?”
“It’s not fair,” I said. “You get to have that memory…of us dating…but I don’t. All I have is that one measly sushi night, but you remember everything. I want to know what it was like.”
“It’s torture,” he said.
“Okay, I wasn’t that bad,” I bit out.
“No, it’s torture having the memories. Remembering.”
I glanced at him, tucked my hair behind my ear. “Why?”
“Why are you asking me this?”
“You didn’t do anything bad to me, okay? I know you hate me, but it’s different for me. I’m still, like, into you.” The words barely came out, and I fidgeted some more, hardly capable of feeling shame anymore. “I want to know what it was like…because I didn’t get to have it.”
He dragged his hand down his face, and when he opened his eyes, they glistened. “It was like a dream,” he muttered. “You were like a dream. I remember thinking she can’t even be real, this can’t even be real, because it just doesn’t happen like that, where it’s perfect and you just know…you just know.”
“Know what?” I whispered.
He fixed his gaze on the stars outside. “That you’ve found the one.”
Listening to him, my heart felt sick. I choked on my next words. “And the only reason…that we can’t still…”
“No, Leona. We can’t.”
That tiny spark of hope died.
“Well, I still love you,” I murmured.
“I know. You’ve told me a billion times. Stop doing that to yourself, it hurts to watch.”
“But you’re not mad at me anymore?” I said. “You don’t sound mad at me.”
“I can’t…be mad at you,” he said through gritted teeth. “I understand the difference between an accident and murder, I don’t blame you for what happened. She committed suicide, you were scared, I get that…but it can’t ever go back to how it was before…and yes, of course I miss you sometimes—I’m human—but I fucking miss my baby sister more.” He swiveled away from me and angrily wiped his eyes.
An ache unfurled in my chest, seeing him break down like that. I let go of the harness and floated across the center console to hold on to him. My arms went around his shoulders and my head draped against his chest, my legs curled up in his lap—just a hug…I could hug him right?—but even as I tried to comfort him, I knew I was doing just the opposite.
His body tensed underneath me. But he didn’t push me off.
It was just a hug.
“Am I allowed to do this?” I peered up at him.
He nodded stiffly, his face stoic.
I stayed perfectly still, my nerves buzzing on a knife’s edge, all too aware of how close this was to crossing the line.
The heat of his torso seeped into mine, and when I opened my lungs, it was him I breathed…and his smell roused in me all sorts of cravings, not all of them mine, but some left over from the time my soul had been inside my doppelgänger, surfacing like an insatiable nostalgia.
“Am I allowed to do…this?” I took one hand from around his neck and placed it on his chest, drawing my fingers down his pecs. No, Leona…you’re not.
His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down in a swallow.
Despite the weightlessness, my body could have been made of lead…because this was so, so wrong.
“You can tell me to stop,” I breathed against him.
He squeezed his eyes shut, shook his head, his expression pained. “I’m trying to forget what you are…and I can’t.”
He shuffled out from underneath me, leaving cold all down my side and a lump in my throat, and veered toward the hatch. “Go to bed, Leona.”
Down in middeck, I heard him kick the bulkhead and curse at himself before he clambered back into his sleep station and yanked the panel shut.
I stayed in that chair a long time after that, huddled in a fetal position, too heartbroken to move.
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