Welcome to the Science Fiction Romance Brigade Showcase for November, 2014! The Showcase is a chance for SFR Brigade members to share their own Sci-fi Romance books, WIPs and new releases. For more posts, visit the SFR Brigade Blog.
Since it’s the holiday season, I’m featuring my science fiction romance holiday story, Noelle In His Heart.
A Christmas romance with a Sci-Fi twist!
Noelle has made the same wish for the past six years to the angel on top of Father Nathan’s Christmas Tree. All she wants for Christmas is someone with warm arms to hold her and who can understand that she has commitments – commitments which include the twenty-six children at the foster center she volunteers for.
Stranded on Earth six years ago, Steve and his crewmates have done a pretty good job of secretly finding a place in human society, but it doesn’t erase the loneliness that hits hardest around the holidays. He longs for companionship and someone who will understand that his alien heart can love just as deeply
The story is available for 1$ either as a stand-alone: click here
Or, you can get it for 1$ along with 10 other great sci-fi reads in the Nebula Nights collection.
Excerpt: In which Steve brings Noelle a really big tree… *giggle*
Noelle pushed through the doors of the Walgreens, six bags in each arm. It had been the third store she had hit, and it had been a lucky jackpot. This close to Christmas, most stores’ shelves were barren of anything remotely red and green. Walgreens, however, had been restocking the school supply shelves and had all the craft paper, pipe cleaners and pompoms a teacher could hope for.
She’d gone over her budget again this year, but it was worth it. Not like she needed champagne money for New Years. Like last year, it was becoming obvious she was going to be counting down the clock with the kids at the Center instead of with someone special.
Selfish, Noelle. She stopped her rushed steps and frowned at herself. Those kids were special. Cracking poppers and drinking fizzy ginger ale out of plastic cups with them was more fun than having dinner at some fancy restaurant. It was also lonely going back home that night to an empty apartment, just like it was every other night.
Continuing her brisk pace down the street, she knew she should slow down. It wouldn’t do anyone any good if she passed out in the middle of the sidewalk. She wanted to get back, though, thinking foolishly that if she just got back in time, he’d still be there. Chances were high, though, that he’d had all the five minutes of the screaming kids he could take and had left right after she had.
It was mean to think that way, but her past experiences were her only reference. She thought she was pretty, at least, and didn’t seem to have problems getting dates. The Center, however, was a big piece of her life, and it seemed her ex-boyfriends didn’t like the competition. This time it was flipped, where Steve had been dumped headfirst into her world before even getting a date out of her. Curiosity on if he could swim or not had her feet moving even faster.
What if he’s the one? she thought, then shook her head at her own stupid idea. She’d made the same wish every year to Father Nathan’s angel that sat on top of the tree in the lobby. Please let me meet someone who understands.
After six years of making the same wish, perhaps it was time for a new one. Christmas Eve was in three days, and with it would come the unavoidable thirtieth birthday. It was often considered the birthday that marked the moment when the dating pool began leaking. Not that her pool had been very deep to begin with. She was an art teacher with no social life and twenty-seven kids.
Twenty-six, she corrected herself, but it didn’t feel right. Kyle may have been out of the system and nearly nineteen, but he would always be one of the kids to her. A good kid who’d gotten a rough break in life but was making the best he could of it. All these kids deserved so much more than the craft paper, glue and pompoms she had in her arms. At the very least, they deserved a real Christmas… tree?
A shock wave planted Noelle’s feet in the doorway to the gymnasium and her arms fell to her sides, the plastic bags falling to her feet. Where once there was a bland white wall and a few paper garlands, there now stood a fourteen foot, real honest-to-God pine tree. On top of that tree was the biggest shining star she had ever seen and next to the tree, on a ladder, was Steve stringing lights.
“Miss Noelle!” Joey ran up, pointing excitedly at the tree. “They brought us a real Christmas tree!”
“And decorations,” Father Nathan grinned, stepping up behind her before giving her a gentle push through the doorway. “Joey, please pick up the craft items that Miss Noelle so graciously bought for us and take them to the tables.”
“Yes, Father,” Joey began grabbing the bags, Sarah joining him to help. “Thanks, Miss Noelle!”
“Thanks, Miss Noelle!” Sarah echoed before rushing off at Joey’s heels.
Noelle tried to form some sort of coherent sentence, but nothing came out. Glancing back at the tree, she spotted Steve staring straight at her. He hung the line of lights from a branch and stepped down the ladder, motioning to his right. One of the plaid-wearing men from the store that morning appeared and took Steve’s place on the ladder as he walked over to Noelle.
“Hope you don’t mind,” Steve pointed over his shoulder at the tree. “We had a bunch of decorations left over this year, and our last job was Mr. Jackson’s this morning. I know it’s not as personal as handmade stuff, but I thought a tree might be nice. You know, for the dinner.”
“How did you… A tree… A really big tree…” Noelle’s brain was stuck between the very large tree and Steve’s strangely handsome eyes.
“We have connections at several farms around Portland,” Steve shrugged off her astonishment, feeling a little embarrassed. “This one was supposed to be set up today at a hotel, but they cancelled when they realized it would be too wide for their lobby. The farm sent them a different kind, and they let us have this one at half price. It came all wrapped up and skinny, so they just delivered it through the service entrance.”
When she still seemed speechless, he continued. “After New Year’s, we’ll come back and take it out. Kyle’s already volunteered to be in charge of watering it.”
Noelle sniffled, fighting back the lump in her throat. Catching sight of the children lining up for Kyle and Amber to pass out ornaments for the children to hang, the waterworks turned on full. She cried into her candy cane scarf with no hope of stopping the tears.
“Oh, dear child,” Father Nathan rubbed her back with a gentle smile.
“Uhm, sorry,” Steve shuffled his feet nervously at Noelle’s unexpected reaction. He knew Earthers cried for all sorts of reasons, but he wasn’t quite sure what to make of Noelle’s sobbing. The poor woman was trembling and he just wanted to hug her until she stopped.
“Thank you!” Noelle finally pushed words out of her mouth then flung her arms around the man.
Steve stumbled back one step as Noelle’s arms wrapped tightly around his waist. Heat blossomed through his body and set every nerve alight. Without thinking too hard about the consequences, he hugged her back. She nuzzled a tear-stained cheek against his chest and he hugged her more tightly.
Her sobs quickly quieted with his comforting hug. He was so warm and felt so good in her arms. Pressing her head to his chest, she listened to his heartbeat – the heartbeat of a wonderful, caring and giving man. A heartbeat that was strong and soothing. A heartbeat that had the oddest rhythm.
And isn’t where it should be, she realized. Her face was pressed into his right side, not his left, and it was clearly a loud thumping emanating closer to his right shoulder than the left center of his chest. The rhythm was also… backwards? She was no doctor, but that wasn’t right.
Stepping away, she dried her face with her scarf, deciding it was none of her business if he had a pacemaker or something else that might explain what she was hearing. She also figured it could be her hysteria making her hear things. “Thank you,” she repeated, not sure of what else to say. Words couldn’t express the joy she felt.
“Way to go, ace,” Garry passed by with a box and a chuckle. “Making her cry is no way to get a date.”
Steve coughed, throwing a glare at the back of Garry’s head, thinking that was two paybacks he now owed the Vragan. Noelle was now redder than her scarf, and Steve didn’t want her to have the wrong idea. Okay, sure, he was finally willing to admit that he wanted a date, but not like this. “That’s not why I did this.”
“Of course not, son,” Father Nathan patted Steve’s arm as he walked past. “And that glorious tree isn’t going to decorate itself, is it?”
“No,” Noelle squeaked out, avoiding Steve’s gaze and following Father Nathan to the tree.
I don’t think Noelle is quite sure what to make of Steve’s tree… or the fact that his heart is in the wrong place…. or is it?
Continue reading with a copy from Amazon for $1 or, you can pick up the entire Nebula Nights collection here.
Also, be sure to check out the rest of this month’s SFR Brigade Showcase posts!