Micki Sloane needs a hero and she needs him now. She’s a romance writer with a deadline and writer’s block and no inspiration in sight. Desperation drives her on a tour of Seattle bars, which leaves her no closer to her goal. What to do? Wish on a star.
Keelan Os’tana has been seeking his bondmate, the one woman who is on his wavelength – literally. He receives Micki’s mental call and answers by beaming her up and into adventure beyond her wildest imaginings. Her options? Form the permanent telepathic bond with Keelan or go home and take up writing for the tabloids. “I Was An Alien’s Love Slave” is a sure seller, but Keelan makes it awfully tempting to live the fantasy instead.
Charlene says: I saw this lurid headline on a tabloid one day waiting in line at the grocery store. I howled. I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. All I had to do was think of this headline and I cracked up. So of course I had to write a story to go with the headline. My alien-abduction encounter of the erotic romance kind must’ve made all the editors laugh, too, because it was one of the 24 stories chosen for the Ellora’s Cavemen anthologies.
Now click below for the excerpt and the contest details!
One more book, one lousy book, that was all she had to come up with to fulfill her contract. Unfortunately, it couldn’t be a book about killing her landlord for not fixing the broken light in the foyer of her building, forcing her to go up the stairs to her apartment in the dark.
No, it had to be a book about true love, blazing passion, happily ever after. And she’d been staring at the blank screen of her laptop day after day, week after week, as the months to complete the manuscript and fulfill her obligation crept past until desperation drove her out into the streets looking for some star of inspiration to hitch her imagination onto and ride to The End.
She was nearly out of time. If she couldn’t do it, she really would be in trouble. She would get a reputation for not being dependable and she wasn’t good enough to be labeled difficult to work with. She was replaceable. Especially if she missed her deadline.
Maybe a hypnotist could cure her writer’s block.
Maybe, as her friend Angie was always advising her, she should just get laid.
“Get your oil changed, girlfriend,” Angie would say. “Go do some hands-on research.”
There were always lots of jokes about the kinds of books she wrote and the research involved in them. The joke, however, was on her, because the only experience she’d had lately was in her vivid imagination. Not so much due to lack of interest in the idea as a lack of real-life heroes to do hands-on research with.
And now the lack of real-life heroes had led to her wellspring of fictional heroes drying up like the Sahara.
“Stop it, Michelle, you’re getting depressed and that will not help,” she muttered to herself. She huddled into her black wool jacket and shoved her hands deep into the side pockets. “You can do this. You can write twenty pages a day from now until the end of the month and make that deadline. You just have to focus.”
Focus. On believing in the impossible, a heroic man, true love and happy endings. Think happy thoughts and her fingers could fly.
She needed fairy dust to fly, didn’t she?
Or maybe she only needed to make a wish.
She turned to look at the neon sign that hung above her, a tilted cocktail glass with a multiple-pointed star on the rim and the words Starlite Lounge spelled out below.
Why not? Nothing else was working.
If it didn’t help, she would get hypnotized. Or laid. Or both. Anything to keep her word, make her deadline, earn her next advance and avoid going back to being a secretary. She’d been a lousy secretary.
“Star light, star bright,” Micki chanted, “First star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight.” She closed her eyes and wished, fiercely, passionately, with all the feeling she could summon.
I need my hero. I need to believe in true love and happy endings. Please.
Micki opened her eyes again. The neon sign was flickering and it was starting to rain again. There was no sign of her cab.
So much for wishes. So much for heroic bartenders.
She started walking.
On the bright side, by the time she got to her apartment she would probably be late enough to avoid her neighbor. Larry was kind of jumpy and had a tendency to think Visitors were waiting outside in the dark hall when she went past, mistaking her for something paler, thinner and with bigger eyes. If she was late enough, he’d be asleep and wouldn’t hear her go by his door on the way to hers.
If she wanted to put her own problems into perspective, she only had to think of Larry. She just needed to meet a deadline. He probably needed lithium.
Keeping it in perspective was the key. No need to dramatize her situation. Nobody was going to die if she never wrote another book, including herself. She also didn’t have to take it as a given that her problem was unsolvable just because time was getting short and she was feeling the pressure.
Writers got blocked. There were ways to get unblocked. Ways that didn’t involve fifteen years of psychoanalysis while she dredged out every early childhood memory in search of the cause of her current problem. She didn’t have fifteen years. No editor on the planet would extend her deadline that far.
An extension of a few weeks was possible, though.
Micki expelled a breath. “Tomorrow,” she decided. “If I don’t have a solid beginning tomorrow, I’ll admit I need an extension and ask for more time.”
As soon as the decision was made, she felt calmer. More in control. She had a plan. Try again tomorrow, ask for more time if things didn’t go well, make an appointment to see a hypnotist.
Getting laid was a much more attractive cure for writer’s block, but a good hypnotist was probably easier to find than a good man. For all her advice on Micki’s sex life, Angela didn’t have any prospective heroes lurking around her, either.
Although heroes didn’t lurk. Did they?
Occupied with her musings, Micki punched in the code that unlocked the door to her building, switched on the maglight attached to her key chain and went up the stairs to the second floor she shared with Lithium Larry. At the top she attempted to tiptoe to her apartment.
To no avail. His door swung open as she went past and he shined a bright flashlight into her eyes.
“Ow! Cut it out!”
“Sorry.” Larry swung the flashlight beam up to the ceiling so that light bounced off the surface and illuminated the hall without blinding either of them. The increased visibility meant she could see a weird-looking helmet on his head. It vaguely resembled Snoopy’s flying hat when he pretended to fight the Red Baron.
She shouldn’t ask. But she couldn’t help herself. “What is that thing on your head?”
“It’s my Velostat helmet. It blocks alien mind control,” Larry said. “The Visitors have been really active lately, so I made myself one. I made one for you too. If you keep it on at night, it will protect you from their mental commands.”
“Thanks,” Micki said. “But it looks kind of uncomfortable to sleep in.”
“You should take it.” Larry’s earnest face wrinkled up in concern. “You know what time it is?”
“No. I don’t wear watches.”
“See, I noticed that about you and that’s why I made you a helmet too. People who fritz out electronics are at high risk for alien abduction. Those people are usually psychic, and open to alien telepathic contact.”
“It’s not a big deal,” Micki muttered. She hated any mention of her weird inability to wear a watch. Every time she tried, it ran fast, then ran slow, and then stopped running altogether. So she’d given up on watches, big deal. And she wasn’t psychic. She just had good instincts. “Lots of people can’t wear a watch. It’s not that unusual.”
“Lots of people get abducted.” Larry nodded vigorously at her. “You ought to be careful.”
“I will,” Micki assured him. Anything to end this conversation and get inside her own sane, quiet apartment without an alien-thought-control-prevention helmet. “Bye.”
She slid past Larry and his helmet and unlocked her door. “Thanks for the light,” she called back to him. “I really hate having to grope for the lock in the dark.” Her tiny maglight made a really inadequate substitute for the hall fixture the damn landlord ought to fix before somebody got hurt.
“No problem.” Larry pointed the flashlight suspiciously around the hall, up, down, checking for signs of Visitors, apparently.
While he was occupied, Micki sidled inside her door and closed it behind her. She leaned back against it and let out a long breath.
Helmets. Geez. She didn’t know if she should be amused, alarmed or touched that Larry had gone to the trouble to make one for her. She didn’t need a helmet to block alien transmissions. She could use one that channeled Nora Roberts though. Did anybody make helmets like that?
Copyright 2007 Charlene Teglia
Ellora’s Cavemen Publishing all rights reserved
Sept. 21 TODAY in paperback and ebook!
Charlene’s next releases include Miss Lonely Hearts(November), and Satisfaction Guaranteed (March ‘08–she’ll be by again!). Her debut print release, Wild Wild West, was released last month, and you can get an exclusive extract here.
And she’s giving away a signed copy of Ellora’s Cavemen: Seasons of Seduction III! So comment, and tell us, is she crazy, just a little odd, or your run-of-the-mill slightly insane author?