Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

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Release Day is Almost Here!

Tomorrow is the official release date for the special edition of e-book version of Vengeance from Ashes. (The print version is already available.) I’m extremely proud of this book, in both its versions. This new version contains new material that has never before been available, approximately 20k words of it.

Here’s a quick snippet from early into the book:

***

Without a word, he deactivated the security field and stepped inside. The first indication Shaw gave that she was even aware of his presence was a startled glance in his direction when he didn’t reactivate the field. Then the mask was back in place and she went back to her sit-ups.

He waited until she finished her set before speaking.

“All right, Ash, you’ve put up a good front, just as I taught you. But you can drop it now. Believe me when I say the guards are looking at a video loop of you exercising and me standing outside the cell watching.” He waited, wondering how much time would pass before she responded.

Ashlyn Shaw slowly stood and then dropped onto the edge of her bunk. Her eyes were wary, her mouth tight. Santiago felt his own mouth harden as he saw the scar marring her left cheek and another bisecting her right eyebrow. She looked pale, as if she had not been in the sun for a very long time. Worse, she was thin, too thin, even if she had managed to maintain muscle tone through her exercise regimen. It was no wonder Tremayne had called him.

“What do you want, Major?” Shaw’s voice seemed harsher than he remembered, almost as if she’d been screaming for a long while and had strained it.

“I just had an interesting call from Miranda Tremayne.” Before she could say anything, he shook his head. “No, she didn’t tell me what you talked about and I didn’t ask. But she did ask me to look into what has been happening on Tarsus for the last two years. Since I was already doing so, I told her I thought it was time she and I shared information. But now I want – no, I need – to ask you some questions.”

“Sorry, Major. I’ll tell you exactly what I told her. Until I know my people are safely away from Tarsus and have received full pardons, I’m not talking. If you can’t accept that, then you might as well just send me back so I can finish out my sentence.”

Santiago drew a breath, held it for a long moment and then blew it out. Her response didn’t surprise him but it did frustrate him. There were too many possible reasons for her reluctance to talk and none of them were good. So he had to find a way break her silence, at least enough to give him a clue about where to start looking for answers.

“Kid, I know something’s going on. Anyone taking a look at you would. But I need to know what it is so I can put an end to it.” He’d always been honest with her and he wasn’t going to stop now. “I need you to listen to me, Ash. I’ve known you for a long time. I helped train you, make you into the Marine you are–”

Her lips peeled back in an almost feral snarl and her eyes flashed dangerously. For one moment, she looked as if she might say something. Before she could, Santiago held up a hand to prevent her from interrupting. He understood at least a little of what she must feel. The court-martial had stripped her of her rank and had ended her career. He doubted she’d allowed herself to even consider the possibility she might one day be able to rejoin her beloved Corps.

“You are a Marine now and forever, kid. Don’t forget that. Don’t you ever forget that. It’s in your blood. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

“I’ve reviewed your reports from before your court-martial. I’ve seen your correspondence with Admiral Tremayne, Rear Admiral Sorkowski and Major O’Brien. I’ve also seen the original copy of your orders. I know you did your best to keep your people from being caught in the backlash caused by those orders. I have also discovered evidence proving Sorkowski had those orders altered after the fact. Further, I can prove O’Brien knew and didn’t say anything. I know they did it to cover their own sorry asses. I know and can prove they were responsible for the loss of most of your unit as well as the civilian deaths that were the result of your orders as well as enemy reprisals. I can also prove you not only warned Sorkowski and O’Brien about what could happen but that you also officially objected to your orders as being unlawful – not to mention stupid – and how you forwarded copies of your objections to Admiral Tremayne and others. Finally, I can show how those messages were delayed or miscoded so they wouldn’t be admissible at your trial. In other words, Captain, I can prove you were set up.”

Shaw’s head snapped up, anger flashing in her eyes. Santiago nodded slightly. He understood. She’d sworn over and over again that the copy of the orders that had been introduced at her court-martial hadn’t been the orders she’d received. Now there was proof of that and more.

“Then why in hell haven’t my people been brought back here and cleared?” Her hands gripped the edge of her bunk so tightly her knuckles shone white.

“I just found the information last night, Ash, and I have to make sure I can prove its validity.” God, didn’t she know how badly he wanted to do exactly what she asked? He wanted to clear all of them. Their convictions were a black eye to the Corps and to the military as a whole. He’d like nothing better than to be able to correct the miscarriage of justice. “That’s why I need you to talk to me.”

He hoped thought she might actually relax enough to answer his questions. Instead, she shook her head, her expression closing again.

“Damn it, Ash, I’ve been looking into what happened since before your court-martial. But Sorkowski isn’t stupid. He covered their tracks well. It’s taken time to break through and find evidence corroborating your claims.” Frustrated, he waited, watching for any sign she believed him. What was it going to take to get through to her?

“Major, whether you want to admit it or not, you already have what you need. If you need more, check my personal files. If the admiral – sorry, senator – doesn’t have them, my parents will. But that’s all I will say, at least until my people are freed.”

“I’m doing my best, but it would be a hell of a lot easier if you’d help me.” He took a step forward, stopping when she shook her head. “Ash, please.”

For a moment it looked like she might change her mind. Then she pushed off her bunk and moved as far away from him as she could. When she turned and looked at him, the anger reflected on her expression rocked him.

“You want to know what’s happening at Tarsus, Major?” Her words were clipped, her voice harsh. “Take a look at the prison records. Compare the stats for the current leadership there to earlier administrations. How many people are sentenced there and how many actually manage to survive their sentences? Of those who do, how many are still sane?

“If that’s not enough to answer your questions, then look at me. Take a good look, damn it!” She waved a hand at her scarred face. Before he could say anything, she grabbed the left sleeve of her jumpsuit and pulled. The sound of the shoulder seam ripping filled the cell. She dragged the material off her arm and tossed it onto the floor.

“Look at this, Major. Look at what they did and know it is only a small example of what they’ve done to all of us.”

Santiago’s stomach churned and bile rose in his throat. The skin of her bicep had been torn away from the underlying muscle and it looked as if it had been left to heal without proper medical treatment. Rough, discolored scar tissue hid the definition of the underlying muscle. Worse, he knew what had been on her arm where now there was only ugly scarring. His own right hand reached up to touch his left arm and the Devil Dog tattoo he proudly bore. Every member of the Devil Dogs, past and present, had one. Shaw had as well – at least until someone had so cruelly removed it.

“Do you want to see more?” she demanded, tears pooling in her eyes. All he could do was shake his head. “Now think about this. Every day I’m here is another day those bastards are figuring out new ways to torment my people. I was warned before I left Tarsus not to say anything. If you’ve lied to me, if there is someone listening in on what I’ve said, my people are dead. If that happens, I promise you’ll die a very slow and painful death.”

***

The original version of the book will be removed from sale on Amazon later today. For those of you who have already purchased it, don’t worry. It will remain in your library. I did check with Amazon about that and they assured me that would be the case.

And now, it’s time to get to work. Until later!

It’s here!

Those of you who follow my weekly posts on Mad Genius Club know I tried something new with the print edition of Vengeance from Ashes (special edition with exclusive material). Instead of going with Createspace or one of the other POD platforms available for indie authors, I tried out the new KDP Print option. I did so with a great deal of trepidation. I don’t like change and I really don’t like not having the option of getting a hard copy proof before turning a print edition loose in the wild. Still, I’d heard both good and bad and, well, it wasn’t going to cost me anything to give it a try.

I’ll admit, two things really helped make my mind up. The first was the ease of setting up everything. Basically, all I had to do was have the pdf version of the interior and cover files ready to go. All the information I input for the e-book edition was automatically imported for the print version. No having to go back and forth between pages to make sure everything matched. So that was the first thing going in its favor.

The second and most important factor is price. Doing the print version through the KDP dashboard allowed me to set the price for the book lower than I would have been able to if I went through Createspace or some of the other POD platforms. That means I can price my book more competitively with print books from traditional publishers. That is important.

As for timing, the files were accepted and approved by KDP for the print version in about the same amount of time as I’ve had to wait before with Createspace. However, the time between order and delivery were much quicker. Because I ordered directly from the Amazon product page, and because I have a Prime membership, I received the book 2 days after I ordered it and did not have to pay shipping. That is much quicker than I’d had to wait for a proof to be delivered from Createspace.

Now, this is where the math gets a bit convoluted. Using Createspace, I could order proofs or author copies at a discounted amount. If I remember correctly, the last time I ordered author copies for a book with approximately the same page count as the special edition of Vengeance, it cost $4.99 (give or take a few cents). Then shipping was added on top of that. All totaled, it cost , for a single volume, approximately $9.00 (It was a few cents under that but I don’t remember how much). Because I was ordering author copies at the discounted rate, those copies did not count toward my author ranking, sales ranking nor did I receive any royalties for the sales.

I ordered the book for $10.99. Because I’m a Prime member, I didn’t have any shipping costs added on. I also earned $1.74 in royalties for the purchase. That means my total out-of-pocket for the single copy I ordered was $9.25. That is within the margin I was willing to pay when considering what I had been paying Createspace, especially when the sales actually count for ranking purposes. So far, so good.

A friend of mine who is a very successful indie writer let me know that he has been contacted by Amazon and he does have the option of order proof copies of his print books. My guess is that this is an update to the program they are slowly rolling out. To order a proof, your book must still be in “draft” status and you will pay the printing cost for your book ($4.86 in the case of Vengeance) plus shipping. All Amazon shipping options are available EXCEPT Prime shipping. So, the speed with which you want the proof will impact your overall cost. You can also order up to five copies of your book per proof order.

When that option is available for me, I’ll report on what the final pricing breakdown is.

So, as the title of this post says, I received my copy of Vengeance yesterday. Other than being a bit miffed because the book had not been packed properly — the box we too big and one corner was crimped as a result of it moving around while in transit — it looks good. Here’s a picture.

VfA special edition

For the print edition, click here.

To pre-order the e-book edition (release date next Tuesday), click here.

A Snippet, a Reminder and More

We’ll start with the reminder first. Vengeance from Ashes (special edition with exclusive content) is currently available for pre-order. Release date is Oct. 17th. This new edition expands on the original edition without changing the overall story arc. Work is progressing on the special edition of Duty from Ashes, as well as Honor from Ashes. They will be released in December and January.

Now for the “more”. Actually, it is a request. Indie authors get most of our PR by word-of-mouth. The best comes from reviews. So, if you’ve read my books — or books by any indie author — please consider leaving a review. It doesn’t have to be long or in-depth. Just a paragraph or two is enough. And they do help. Not only do potential readers look to see if a book has been reviewed and what other readers think, Amazon looks at how many reviews a book has when it comes to their own advertising metrics.

Finally, for the snippet. This is the second snippet from Light Magic. This novel is set in the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe and many of the characters already introduced are returning, as well as a few new characters showing up. This is the unedited version. That means things can and probably will change between now and publication. You can find the first snippet here.

***

I rode past the green and white sign proclaiming “Welcome to Beautiful Mossy Creek” and almost instantly wondered if I’d somehow managed to step back in time. Downtown could have been lifted straight out of the 1950’s – heck, even earlier for all I knew. Small shops with colorful awnings and sandwich board signs on the sidewalks lined Main Street. More than a few of the shop windows contained signs supporting the high school football team in its quest to become the regional champion. Parked along the street and in the surface lot across the street from the courthouse were everything from battered farm trucks to, I kid you not, a Lamborghini.

Next to the courthouse stood Peggy’s Café. I slowed, looking for a parking spot. I’d been on the road since well before dawn. My stomach growled, reminding me I hadn’t eaten. If that wasn’t reason enough to try the café, the fact I needed more coffee was. Besides, if the café was like those in other small towns I’d visited over the years, someone would know where I could find this Serena Duchamp. Who knows, they might even tell me something about the woman and why my mother thought it so important I make the trip to see her.

Or, more likely from the stares I’d gotten since pulling into town, they’d clam up and not say a word. Maybe riding in on my Harley SuperLow and dressed in black leathers hadn’t been the smartest thing I to do. Not that I cared. I was here only because my mother told me to come. It was, in a way, an attempt to fulfill her dying wish. I didn’t have to understand it or like it. I’d do it and, hopefully, be able to leave without delay.

I found a spot not far from the café and backed in. As I did, I glanced around. Early as it was, people hurried up and down the sidewalk, some to work and others in the direction of the café. Some even glanced my way and nodded in greeting. Others actually wished me a good morning. That was certainly more than I’d ever gotten in Maxon’s Mill, not that it meant anything.

Or did it?

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Vengeance from Ashes update and more

As I announced last night, the digital edition of Vengeance from Ashes (special edition with exclusive content) is now available for pre-order. Release date is a week from today. The print version is in the pipeline and I will have a hard copy in my hands Thursday to give it a final look. Fingers crossed everything went all right with the setup. The print version order page is being promulgated. It still needs the product information and to be linked to the e-book page. That will probably take a couple of days.

I’ve detailed my mental gymnastics in deciding to release this version over at Mad Genius Club this morning. Check it out.

So that brings me to the release dates for the expanded editions for the rest of the series. Duty from Ashes, currently available only on Amazon, will see the expanded edition released on Amazon on 12/19. The expanded version of Honor from Ashes will be released on Amazon on Jan. 16, 2018. The original versions of those books will be released on the other major platforms approximately 1 week after the expanded versions go on sale.

That leaves Victory from Ashes (working title) to be published. I am currently looking at bringing it out March 13, 2018. The prequel novella/novel (Duty Bound) will, hopefully, come out before then but I am not going to hold up the special editions or Victory for it since it is still gelling in my mind.

In the meantime, I’m going to start doing some promos for my other work, including posting snippets here. But that will be for later. Right now, I have much to do and still haven’t had enough coffee.

Coffee…..

Yummmmm…..

Later!

 

Vengeance from Ashes (expanded edition) available for pre-order

The title pretty much says it all. Vengeance from Ashes (expanded edition) is now available for pre-order. The print version will be available very shortly. The official release date for the e-book is October 17th.

This version of the book contains approximately 20k words of additional content. It is, in many ways, the “director’s cut” of the book. I will be removing the original version of the book from Amazon over the next few days. For those of you who have already purchased it, don’t worry. It will still be in your library. I made sure to verify that with Amazon. The original version will be released on the other major platforms sometime later this month.

Here’s the blurb:

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

This special edition contains exclusive material (approximately 20,000 words) not available in other editions of the novel.

 

 

I really should know better

I did it. I knew when I wrote Friday’s post, I was tempting my luck. I should know better than to throw down the metaphorical challenge gauntlet where my muse is concerned. But I did it and now Myrtle the Evil Muse is going to make me pay for it.

Long story short, when I started considering releasing the expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes and the other books in the Honor and Duty series, I didn’t know what to do about the short stories that act as prequels to the series. Friday, after blogging, I started thinking about whether or not I should release them into the wild. That started me thinking about whether or not a prequel novel should be written. There have been requests for one, specifically one that deals with the events that led to Ashlyn being court-martialed.

That’s where Myrtle the Evil Muse stepped in. The individual short stories will be taken off of the KU program and released into the wild. But, they will also become the basis for a prequel novel. I’m still working on the actual plot and mechanics of how to do it. I do have the title — Honor Bound. Of course, that might change as things progress, but that’s what I’m working with right now.

So, that gets added to the list of books to be written.

As for the rest of it, I’m working on updating all my e-books (mainly formatting updates as well as updating key words) as I update print files and get them ready for release. Some covers will be changing as well. Then I need to talk with someone about doing audio books for at least the science fiction novels.

In other words, I’m practicing what I preach and looking at my writing as a business. More on that as it progresses. For now, I have a couple of contract obligations to deal with this morning and then it’s back to writing.

In the meantime, we are counting down to the release of the expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes. Eight days to go!

Wow! What just happened?

This week has been odd, to say the least. Real life impacted writer life and writer life impacted social life. Quit laughing. I do have a social life — sort of. Add in a migraine, deadlines that have been blown in the real life sector and, well, you get an idea of what the week has been like.

So imagine my surprise when I sat down this morning and realized how much I’ve gotten accomplished on top of all that. I’ve managed to blog, not only here but at Mad Genius Club and Victory Girls, even if not with the regularity I’d like. But blogs happened. Considering the distractions of the week, that’s an accomplishment.

But what has really surprised me is how much work I’ve managed to put in. It’s been done in fits and starts and at times when I don’t usually write. But it has happened and with better results than I anticipated. I finalized the files for the release of the special, expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes. I have to check the cover file one more time before setting it up for a print release. Assuming everything goes according to plan, the e-book version will be released on the 17th of this month and the print book shortly thereafter (if not on the same day).

The special, expanded edition of Duty from Ashes, the second book in the series, started taking shape this week as well. Some notes have been made and a few corrections to the original file have been entered. Now comes the hard work, work that I usually do during the evening when the family is watching TV.

But there’s more. I finished the rough draft for Light Magic, another novel set in the Eerie Side of the Creek universe. I love this novel, even if it did fight me tooth and nail in the beginning. I’m going to put it aside for a couple of weeks as I work on another project. Then I’ll come back and finish it up. If all goes according to plan, it will be out end of November.

As for the rest of it, I finally figured out the full plot arc for the final book (?) in the Sword of the Gods series. In some ways, it will be much darker than the previous two books (Sword of Arelion and Dagger of Elanna) but it needs to be. Not dark in the GRRM way of things where everyone, or almost everyone, dies, but dark in that folks will die or worse. And, to be honest, it is the “worse” aspect that excites and scares me as a writer.

I’ve also had a scene stuck in my head from the Nocturnal Lives series that is so far out there, I know it is just Myrtle the Evil Muse playing with me. What else could explain a scene where Mac is waiting even more nervously than anyone else for Pat to give birth? She’s not worried that anything will happen to her friend or the baby. No, she’s worried because she doesn’t know whether the proper gift for a new shifter baby should be diapers or kitty litter. Yes, I told you, my muse is evil and she loves to torment me with these things. Whether a story comes out of it or not, I don’t know. And, to be honest, I’m not sure I want to know. Shudder.

Finally, and in some ways most important, I have the plot for the next Honor & Duty book as well as at least one short story in that universe. I’ll be making notes on them over the next few days. Writing should start on them next month some time. There will also be a Christmas story in the Eerie Side of the Creek universe, released in December. So busy times ahead.

Assuming Myrtle doesn’t decide to hijack me yet again — glares inward at the cackling muse. For now, it’s back to work. I have a contract job to take care of and them some real life obligations to deal with before I can sit down to write today. But first, more coffee!

Later!

 

 

Migraines are hell

I didn’t blog yesterday because I was battling a migraine. This morning, when I woke, I felt the stirrings of it still but it was so much better, I’d hoped it meant that it was disappearing. Nope. Not the case thanks to my neighbor. At 0630, the sound of  a large vehicle coming up the street and parking out front greeted me as I rolled out of bed. Worried it might be a firetruck or ambulance, I hit the ground running and made it to the window. Nope, not an emergency vehicle. Instead, it was one of at least three large trucks, all idling and spewing diesel fumes into the air. All for next door.

One truck parked in front of the house next door. Another parked in front of my house, blocking a good portion of my driveway. But that meant it also blocked the neighbor across the street, making it neigh to impossible for him to back out without risking either hitting the trucks or being hit by anyone coming down the street because line of sight was not vastly compromised.

And, with it still dark outside, the rumbling of the idling engines and the stink of diesel continued.

Now, my neighbor has been trying to put in a pool for months. For freaking months. Suddenly, today, with high moisture count in the air and the earth soaked after last night’s rain, they are pouring concrete.

More than an hour after they arrived.

And he, supposedly, didn’t know. Might be true. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But, damn it, why not? What sort of business doesn’t keep its customer apprised of what’s going on?

Any way, there will be no real blog today. The migraine is now back full force. I’m thinking evil thoughts about the trucks and trying to keep my mother from going back out to give the neighbor another piece of her mind. Not a good day.

So here’s the moral of the story. If you are having work done on your house and you have neighbors, keep on top of what’s going on. If you are going to have something large done that will block traffic, cause noise, be a nuisance, stay on top of it and let your neighbors know so they can make arrangements if necessary. In other words, be a neighbor.

Now I’m off to find more meds and go back to bed.

I fucking hate migraines.

A Wonderful Nocturnal Rebellion Review

(Like so many of you, I’m still processing what happened in Las Vegas last night. Once I have, and once I know more facts, I’ll probably blog about it. In the meantime, I have to share this wonderful review of Nocturnal Rebellion. The reviewer is Pat Patterson and you can find his blog here.)

Nocturnal Rebellion, by Amanda S Green

For those of you who come here in order to read my latest philosophical or theological struggles,  I warn in advance: this is a book review about a police detective who is also a reserve Marine officer who can shape-shift into a jaguar. Don’t anticipate passion and depth, beyond that found in story dealing with the line-of-duty loss of fellow police officers.

This book was released on August 15, 2017, and with great anticipation, I obtained my copy through the Kindle Unlimited program on August 17. I hear you mutter, ‘but this is OCTOBER 2! What happened?’

Well what happened was a trip to the hospital for a small bowel obstruction, which resolved well. That was followed by multiple trips to the dentist, for major dental surgery, and a few major family health issues, and, well, just LOTS of things. My output of reviews and blog posts suffered. It’s aggravating.

As for the book: There are two different groupings of shape-shifters. One group inherits, and can pass on, the ability to transform; the other has to get bitten, first. The first group, the Pures, tend to be more powerful and they are in a role somewhat resembling that of aristocracy. The second group, the lycans, tend to be less controlled and are generally more likely to prey upon humans.

There is a question debated among Pures: when shall we reveal ourselves to the world at large, if ever?  And there is also a faction that wants to reveal themselves so that they may finally exert control over the mundanes, or exterminate them.

While appearing to work within the system of government of the Pures, the Conclave, there is a rogue element that seeks covert control, and it really seems to amount for a desire for personal power more than a desire to influence policy. At least, their actions seem to be of the ‘burn it all down’ nature.

Now, it’s one thing to write about secret operatives exposing plans to bring down civilization by introducing an Ebola variant into spray containers at trade shows across the USA. As it happens, I’ve read and enjoyed those stories as well; at least, I’ve enjoyed the stories where the good guys win and the bad guys lose.

It’s another thing entirely to present the tragedy in such a way that we can feel and empathize with the loss experienced by the hero. And that’s what sets apart this book; Mac, and others, had a deep relationship of trust and loyalty to the group of officers who were killed in an ambush, and yet, they MUST shut up, suit up, and show up if there is to be any justice done.

It’s really very well executed.

It does not bring the dead back to life. That loss must somehow be endured, which is precisely the treatment that makes the fantastic tale of shape-shifters something that we can relate to. Without kryptonite, we cannot care for Superman, because he is untouchable. It’s the weakness of the heroes, not their strengths, that makes them real and allows us to care for them.

And Amanda S Green does it AT LEAST as well as anyone in the field.

Get the book; you won’t regret it!

Vengeance from Ashes (expanded edition) – Snippet 2

(This is the second excerpt from the expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes, release date scheduled for October 17th. The below excerpt is from the beta readers’ version and the published version may contain minor changes.)

***

Major Rico Santiago stared at the image on his screen. He couldn’t believe it. There was no way she could be on-planet, much less be just three floors below his office. But, as the ancient adage went, a picture was worth a thousand words. In this case, it was worth a hell of a lot much more and it raised just as many questions.

He leaned back and shook his head. Even after watching the scene in the cell for approximately five minutes, his mind refused to accept what his eyes saw. The prisoner, dressed in the standard issue black jumpsuit that the JAG euphemistically called “persons of interest”, was moving through an increasingly more difficult set of push-ups. First had been five standard push-ups. Then five knuckle push-ups followed by five fingertip push-ups. He’d continued to watch, even after catching the line of her jaw and the tilt of her head. That had been enough to confirm her identity. Even so, he still wondered if it wasn’t all a dream. No other explanation made sense.

His fingers moved over the virtual keyboard as he typed in a series of commands. He paged through the readouts, moving them into order, his eyes quickly scanning the results. Then he leaned back and blew out a breath. There was no doubt about it. Not only was she on-planet but someone had managed to get her there and into the security complex without him getting wind of it.

And that most definitely was not good.

As one of FleetCom’s top intelligence officers, it was his job to know everything before it happened. The fact this had almost slipped by him spoke volumes about who had issued the orders to bring her back to New Kilrain. He had no doubt those orders had come from well above his pay grade. No one else had the pull to not only send a ship for the woman but to get her released to local confinement. Who and why he didn’t know – but he would.

Frowning, he drummed his fingers against the synth-wood of his desktop. Could it be there were others besides himself looking into the circumstances surrounding Ashlyn Shaw’s court-martial and conviction? If so, what was their motivation and why had they brought her back? More important in some ways, who were they and why had they acted on their own instead of through his office?

He hated not having the answers. Any intelligence officer would. Unanswered questions could easily mean death, if not for the “spook” then for others, usually innocents.

Damn it, what the hell was going on?

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