Name: Rena RockfordTitle: STARBREAK
Trapped in a dead-end job with a husband married to his career, scientist and mother Chrissy King joins the interstellar peace keepers, The Knights of Mourning, to stop a murderer from rampaging on Earth; when the killer starts destroying stars and no one believes there’s a connection between Earth and the killer, Chrissy must stop the murderer before he adds the sun to his collection of celestial corpses.
As a card-carrying scientist, I knew a lot of things: gravity sucked, sound didn’t travel through a vacuum, and chocolate really could make me feel better. Scrounging in the bottom of my purse, I knocked one of my daughters’ toys onto the counter with my spare change. A rebellious quarter rolled across the counter, but I slapped it down. “Escape is useless.”
The barista raised a penciled eyebrow at me. “I thought you were changing your ways, Dr. King.”
“I’ll clean the car and start that diet next week. The girls kept me up last night, and if I don’t get a brownie soon, there will be consequences.” I narrowed my eyes like a woman on the edge.
“Easy there, Miss Scientist Lady. I’ve got your chocolate right here. And it’s faster to use your card, just saying.”
“Ha, my husband reads those statements. He wants me to eat bran flakes for breakfast.” I slipped the pink pony into my pocket to make more room on the counter for chocolate and tea.
She mock scowled. “Hey, I eat bran for breakfast.”
“And it shows in your fabulously skinny waist.” I pinched my stomach roll—and I had plenty to pinch. The dissertation and kids hadn’t been kind to my figure. “Now give me the chocolate, and no one gets hurts.”
She laughed and put my brownie in a bag before pushing the tea across the counter. “Don’t blow anything up today.”
“It’s not that kind of lab.”
The hot cup radiated that wonderful smell of fresh-brewed tea. I used the brownie bag as to shield against the hot cup as I reached the door. Cold air blasted my face, and I pulled my coat tight with one hand and pushed the door with my hip.
In Albuquerque, the March wind had more in common with a sandblaster than a hairdryer. Blossoms from a nearby plum tree sprayed the parking lot in pink snow only to be ripped up by the wind and ushered off to some gutter. Weeds pushed apart the pavement in a show of extreme optimism, but this was the desert. They’d be dead in days.
Above the wind, a whistle pierced the air, dropping in pitch. I paused, one foot on the asphalt and one on the sidewalk, searching for the source.
A fireball erupted out of the parked cars, and waves of heat boiled over me, singeing my eyebrows. The concussion of the explosion slammed into my chest and threw me backwards. My heel caught the edge of the sidewalk, and I went down. As I fell, shrapnel zinged through the air above me. Tea exploded out of the cup and into my face.The sidewalk rushed up and crashed into my shoulder. On pure instinct, I curled into a ball and threw my hands over my head. Debris rained down, bits of bolts and flaming gaskets. By the power of luck, all the dangerous shrapnel missed me, pelting into the side of the coffee shop and the ground around me.