Reina was sitting at an evening lounge, at a bar that was relatively high-class and uncrowded. Most bars weren’t busy these days–there were just not enough people to fill them and yet they stayed in business because those people who did enjoy them, enjoyed them well.
She stared into the Sombrero Cosmo resting on the table in front of her, she ran the tip of a finger up the fragile stem of the glass as a tiny pool of condensation collected on her nail. She absently sucked it into her mouth.
There was something wrong with her cosmic drink, and for a moment she laughed internally. All drinks were made in tribute to the universe these days. But hers was strange, the liquid inside was made in a way to depict the Sombrero Galaxy, a manipulated alcoholic image with a billion sparkling stars orbiting the outer ring.
When Reina looked closer, she saw that the stars weren’t orbiting, they were swimming, wiggling ever so slightly, moving in an impossible way. She leaned closer to inspect it.
A movement caught her attention out of the corner of her eye, disrupting her reverie, as a large, wiry man hit the chair next to her.
With a brazenness she didn’t believe she possessed, she looked around the bar and rudely analyzed all of the empty seats this man could have taken before her eyes narrowed on him.
“A scotch on the rocks, please.”
Reina leaned away from the nonchalant power the man omitted.
He wasn’t human but he looked human. He was definitely not a Trentian–his coloring was normal. He wasn’t quite right, his voice too low and steely, his size too imposing, even the way his hair fell in short locks around his face was odd. She watched as the bartender slid him a chilled glass of amber liquid.
The man was sitting right next to her, invading her personal space, and she could barely breathe. He caught her eyes as he took a sip of his drink.
When she thought about it, there was so much space between her and everyone else, that even if this man had sat on the other side of the room, she would have felt invaded.
“Why are you sitting next to me?–”
The inhuman man sat his glass down and smirked.
“–I won’t be going home with you.”
He ignored her blunt rejection. “Is there something wrong with your drink?”
Reina looked back down at the wiggling cosmo again. The perverted stars now bled into the liquid everywhere, destroying the image of the galaxy as she watched. Destruction ensued.
“The stars aren’t real,” she whispered and jerked back as the strange man placed his hand over hers on the bar. He tightened his hold until she stopped struggling to reclaim it. The exchange didn’t take long as a warm current streaked up. The heat came from him and it soothed her in an unexpectedly welcome way; the pounding of her heart eased.
Reina relinquished her hand to him and watched as he moved her drink between the two of them.
He chuckled softly, “It’s because they’re not stars.”
She looked up at him then back down at their joined hands. The heat coming off of his skin was beginning to burn, but it was a cleansing burn.
“What are they then?”
“Your cells.” He lifted the glass to her lips and tipped it up; she swallowed the horrifying liquid, feeling streams of liquor slip down her chin and splash on her thighs. Reina fell back and gasped, only to be caught up in his arms. He was a heavy metal wall trapping her against his body.
A calm settled over her as the drink spread through her body, her bloodstream.
“Thank you,” she whispered before blacking out, feeling a safety with him that she had never felt with any other person. Even in a very unsafe situation.
I love this cover! And I’m glad I do because my friend and I spent more hours than I bothered to count working on it. Actually, now that I think about it, it might have undergone more drafts than the book itself. Thank you, Cameron, my photoshop certified guru! Keep an eye out for Reina and Atlas’s quest to go beyond the reaches of the network and discover why countless ships have disappeared. Coming soon!