The first floor was one huge room. If it were in Manhattan, Tompa would have guessed it was a store—but in Manhattan, clues would linger to educate her guess. Shelves. Broken furniture. Ruined merchandise littering the floor. Here, the maw of time had swallowed any clues. Rough, bare walls enclosed a ceiling of some dark material and a floor covered with dirt and detritus. Anyone treading that floor, whether Shon, animal, or human, would leave tracks—unless, of course, they were very careful, as she intended to be.
A staircase led to the second floor. Its massive timbers looked strong enough to hold her, so she headed up for a better view. She tested each stair before putting her weight on it.
She won’t wait, Dante said from inside her head.
“Huh?” Halfway up the stairs, Tompa paused to study the first-floor room and the darker second floor. Everything was empty except for sinister shadows. “Who won’t wait?”
So, daughter dearest, said a sarcastic female voice, what exactly do you want from me?
‘Daughter dearest’ is irony, in case you didn’t catch it. I don’t know you and I don’t much care what happens to you.
Tompa took a step without sufficient caution.
Ancient wood crumbled underfoot. Tompa windmilled her arms, trying to keep her balance.
—I’m very much afraid—
Tompa failed. Tipped forward with her arms extended.
—that I won’t be able to help you at all.
Face down, Tompa fell and landed hard. When she could catch her breath, she wiggled her hands and feet experimentally. Everything seemed to work. Groaning, she rolled onto her back.
And then, with a crack of doom, the staircase collapsed on her, raining boards, dust, and splintery debris.
So, daughter dearest, what the blazes do you want from me? Something about mathematical constants, is it?
Reality quivered in front of Tompa’s eyes.
She blacked out.
About the Book
Author: Edward Hoornaert
Genre: Science Fiction
Tompa Lee—orphan, anti-social loner, and homeless street meat—has clawed her way up to the stars. There, on planet Zee Shode, she finds the galaxy’s greatest treasures: friendship and love.
Happily ever after? Not if the Galactic Trading Council has its way. The Council rules by divide and conquer, and Tompa commits the unforgivable crime of forging an alliance between humans, Shons, and Klicks.
The Council hires Lily Kilsing, earth’s most feared bounty hunter, to deal with her. Kilsing lures Tompa to a deserted alien city by kidnapping her fiancé and her best friend.
Aided only by the voices of dead people, can Tompa outsmart the huntress, or will she be forced to sacrifice her own life to save her loved ones—and the future of the Shon race?
Edward Hoornaert is not only a romance writer, he’s also a certifiable Harlequin Hero; he inspired N.Y. Times bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson to write her favorite Harlequin Desire, “Mr. Valentine”, which was dedicated to him. In the past, he wrote contemporary romances for Silhouette Books, but these days he writes science fiction adventures–usually with elements of romance.
Fresh out of university, he taught at a one room school accessible only by floatplane. Students came to school on a school boat. His next teaching job was a step up—a two-room, log-cabin school. In addition to novelist and teacher, he has been a technical writer, salesman, janitor, and symphonic oboist.
After having 30 different addresses in his first 28 years, his rolling stone slowed in the mountains of British Columbia and stopped in Tucson, Arizona. His high school sweetheart has been his wife for more years than he has fingers and toes to count. Ed and Judi have four children, a dog, and a cat which (unlike some famous authors’ cats) is of absolutely no help in writing.