Kiss Across the Universe, which is book 11 of the vampire time travel romance series, Kiss Across Time, will be released on my bookstore, and all retailers on September 7. That’s only two weeks from now.
At the same time, the entire series has received a spring clean. All the covers have been updated and look spectacular! You can see them all arrayed here.
As we’re only two weeks away from the release, it’s time for an excerpt.
Alannah hadn’t realized how noisy a Hollywood party could get, not until now, when she needed peace and quiet.
“What did you say?” Alannah repeated into her phone, bringing her other hand up to cover her other ear. She moved around to the other side of the pool cabana, and tucked herself up against the siding to eliminate some of the volume, but it didn’t seem to do any good. The splash of people doing cannonballs into the pool, most of them either fully clothed or completely naked, along with their raucous laughter and shouting, was drowning out her mother’s voice.
“Say that again, Mom.” Alannah spoke forcefully into the phone. If Alannah couldn’t hear her mother, it was a good bet that her mother couldn’t hear Alannah over the noise, either.
Taylor spoke just as loudly. “I said, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving next Sunday. Turkey and all the fixings. You should come. We haven’t seen you for weeks and weeks.”
A shriek accompanied her mother’s pronouncement, making Alannah start. Then a loud splash, followed by clapping and laughter. Someone had just gone swimming who hadn’t wanted to.
“Thanksgiving, Mom?” Alannah repeated, bewildered. “It’s barely October!”
“That’s when Canadians have Thanksgiving,” Taylor replied smoothly. “The second Monday in October. But most people have their dinners on the Sunday.”
Alannah shook her head. “I’ll be there for our Thanksgiving.” It was way too early in the year to be thinking about shopping and Christmas gifts, which was what Thanksgiving always triggered for her.
For a moment, her mother didn’t respond.
“Mom?” Alannah nudged, wondering if she’d missed her mother’s response, as the noise from around the corner of the cabana seemed to be getting louder.
“We won’t be doing Thanksgiving in November,” Taylor said.
Alannah wasn’t certain, but she thought there was a note of apology in her mother’s voice.
“Not doing Thanksgiving? Mom…!”
“We don’t live in the United States,” Taylor said. “We live in Canada. And Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October.”
“But you’re American!”
“I was,” Taylor agreed. “And we kept our identities when we moved here, but that’s not always going to be the case, Alannah. Soon or later, we’ll have to move onto the next life, and that will mean becoming whatever nationality and race the new identities give us. And if that new identity dictates Thanksgiving in April, then that’s when we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving.”
Alannah squeezed the phone, her heart thudding. Words eluded her.
Not that she was surprised. This facet of her parents’ existence had been discussed many times, behind carefully closed doors. She had been aware of the differences between her family and normal people all her life.
But this was the first time those differences had impacted her in a way that marked an ugly fact: Sooner or later, her parents would move onto a life that didn’t include her.
It was already happening. Thanksgiving in October instead of November wasn’t earth shattering, but it was different. It was an unsettling change. It upset traditions and customs she hadn’t realized she liked as much as she did, until now.
“So, you’ll come next Sunday, Alannah?” her mother added, her voice light, as if Alannah’s agreement was already in the bag.
Which it was. How could she say no? If she couldn’t have the Thanksgiving she wanted, she’d take the one offered. Besides, there were always orphans and loners in Hollywood, who either got together for their own Thanksgiving in November, or were invited to others’. She might yet have her Turkey Thursday. Only it wouldn’t be the same….
Alannah choked off that unpleasant thought. “I’ll be there,” she told her mother woodenly.
“What was that? The noise…!”
“I’ll come for Thanksgiving on Sunday,” Alannah said, raising her voice.
“Good. Great. Bring a pie, ‘lannah. Love you!”
“Bye,” Alannah got out. Then her mother was gone. She put her phone back in the pocket of the light jacket she was wearing. It was October, after all. In Canada, they probably had snow already, while it was sixty degrees here. But after years of living in L.A., Alannah found even sixty degrees cold. No wonder the swimmers in the pool kept moving about. They were staying warm.
She moved out around the cabana and the noise leapt in volume. Most of the lounges were occupied, many of them with two people. A dozen or more people were moving about the edge of the big lagoon-like pool clutching blankets around their shoulders.
Whose idea had it been to jump into the water in the first place and had started the lemming-like migration into the water? Whoever it was, they must surely have been drunk or high. Or both.
Alannah skirted around the loungers, her heart still working way too hard. A tight mass was sitting in her chest.
Then she remembered that she had abruptly left an unofficial meeting happening in the upstairs relaxation area of the big house. She didn’t know whose house this was. She had just been told to turn up to this address by her boss, Dale Alyard. Dale ran Luxe Productions and might even have an interest in the company. Alannah didn’t know because he wasn’t the sort of boss to share anything significant. But he didn’t mind her carting his dirty laundry to the cleaners.
Alannah realized she had come to a halt where the path moved up a set of brick steps to a patio beside the wide wall of glass doors into the house. The doors all stood open, light blazed from the rooms beyond. The inside of the house was as busy as the area around the pool and she would have to squeeze through and around groups to get to the stairs up to the area where her meeting was taking place.
She made herself trudge up the steps. Whatever was eating the back of her brain about Thanksgiving she would have to deal with later. She pulled the sleeves of her jacket down, and brushed at the back of it in case it had picked up any dirt from the wall of the cabana.
She moved into the house and wondered if even more people had squeezed in here since she had moved outside to take her call. The noise of dozens—perhaps hundreds—of conversations was almost deafening. She winced at the sound and began working her way through the room to the foyer beyond, where the stairs were located. The room was a large one with a vaulted ceiling and faux medieval beams “supporting” it. Ceiling fans, incongruous against the olde worlde décor, were trying to move the air around but there were too many people and too much smoke—no one was giving up their prime networking opportunities to poison the air outside.
Alannah’s eyes began to water. She hadn’t noticed the smoke levels before moving outside and breathing fresh air. More than a little of the smoke was from marijuana, too. Staying sober in here would be impossible. She would have to escape as soon as she could. Not that she minded being either drunk or stoned, but tonight she was working.
Finally, she made it to the front foyer, a cavernous rounded area where the stairs swept grandly in a sinuous curve up to the second and then the third floor.
Dale Alyard stood next to the newel post of the stairs. He gripped his big whisky glass, which rested on the flat top of the post, seeping condensation onto the curled banister end.
“Dale!” Alannah said, surprised. “Did the meeting end?”
He glared at her. His eyes were red-rimmed and the whites were pink, showing he was even more sensitive to the smoke levels than she. “He left,” he said flatly.
“Who? Adán?” Her surprised gave way to shock. “He left? What happened? I was only gone a few minutes!”
Dale’s scowl deepened. “And what the fuck were you thinking, leaving like that?” he demanded. “You left, then Caballero left. Thirty seconds, and he was gone like a breeze. I didn’t even talk to him about the film.” He sucked back a good inch of the two inches of dark whisky in the glass and hissed in reaction to the liquor. “Do you know how long I’ve been trying to talk to him?”
Weeks. Alannah didn’t voice the thought aloud, because Dale would get pissed. More pissed. She had thought all along that Dale’s plan to sign Adán Caballero to star in his little suspense movie was way too ambitious. Caballero was an action star and at the very top of the A-List, now he had two Oscars on his mantle shelf.
“You fucking abandoned me, right when it was critical,” Dale added, his voice rising.
“Adán Caballero left because of me? Because I left?” Alannah was beyond shocked, now. She was just an assistant. Stars didn’t talk to assistants. They barely nodded at them.
“He said it was the smoke, that he was training for the next Smoky Silva movie and didn’t want toxins in his lungs,” Dale shot back.
That actually sounded pretty reasonable to Alannah. But she kept her face immobile, for Dale wasn’t in a reasonable mood.
“But he really left because you signaled that you couldn’t give a fuck about him by walking out as soon as he got there,” Dale snarled.
“I took a call!” Alannah protested. “You both heard my phone ringing.”
Dale’s expression grew thunderous. “What fucking call could be more important than Adán Caballero standing right in front of you?”
It was my mother calling. Alannah held her teeth together, though. Telling him she valued her family over talking to someone like Adán Caballero would be the equivalent of putting a flame to tinder.
“Yeah, thought so,” Dale said, even though she hadn’t spoken. “You know what? You’re fired.”
Alannah’s jaw dropped. “What? For taking a phone call? You’re kidding me.”
“You’re fucking fired!” Dale shouted, his face turning red. “Get out of my fucking face, you moronic bitch!”
Alannah couldn’t help but look around to see who had heard Dale shouting, her cheeks burning. No one was standing about the foyer, but several people were passing through for there was a visitor bathroom tucked under the stairs. Even more people stood right next to the elegant arches leading into the big vaulted room.
Lots of heads had turned at the shouting, but no one looked particularly shocked and they all turned back to their own conversations.
Alannah’s middle was shaking. Soon it would reach out to her extremities. She felt cold, except for her face. Shock, her mind clinically catalogued.
Dale was busy ignoring her and draining the rest of his whisky. The creases around his mouth were white, while the rest of his face was flushed a deep, angry red.
She couldn’t argue him out of firing her. Not now. She couldn’t predict what his reaction would be. Not when he was this upset. He could possibly become violent. And again, her glance took in the whitish-grey flesh around his mouth.
So Alannah turned and headed back to the vaulted room. She would find a dark corner outside where no one could observe her, then jump back to her apartment in Brentwood. Screw behaving like a proper human, tonight. She wanted to be out of this noise, and somewhere where she could think.
Her trembling increased as she pushed and side stepped through the big room, making her want to hurry.
A hand caught at her elbow, anchoring her.
“Hey, ‘lannah, honey, you look sick. Bad joint?”
Alannah looked over her shoulder at the gorgeous blonde. Danya…Prince? Prinsen. Danya was some sort of assistant in a different production company, which made them colleagues of a sort, Alannah supposed. She often saw Danya at events and gatherings. Danya was always networking and making useful connections.
“You’re working?” Alannah asked Danya. Her voice came out strained and wobbly.
“Sorta. You know how it is.” Danya shrugged and smiled at the handsome man who she had clearly been talking to before hooking Alannah’s elbow as she went by. The man gave both of them a perfunctory smile of his own.
Danya looked back at Alannah. “You okay?”
Alannah could feel the trembling trying to take over her body. “I just got fired,” she confessed, her voice even more strained.
“Oh. ‘kay. Gotcha,” Danya said. “Well, have a good night!” She turned back to the actor.
Alannah stared at Danya for a moment, astonishment tangling with upset.
Then she got it. People got fired all the time in Hollywood. They were rejected, fell out of favor, were no longer the golden adored. They were the nominated, not the winners. They were the scapegoats, not the achievers. What was one more firing, among all that rejection?
Alannah turned and headed for the big wall of glass doors, her head down, thinking hard.
Yeah, so people got fired all the time, only this time it was she who had been fired, and for no reason except that she valued her family. Which was grossly unfair. Normal people valued their family, didn’t they?
When possibly the most luminous A-lister in Hollywood deigned to speak to you? Is that really the time to cut out and take a call from your mom? The voice in her head was cool, assessing.
Maybe she really didn’t have what it took to succeed in Hollywood. It was a cut-throat town. She’d known that going in. But she hadn’t really understood just how fickle Tinsel Town was. How much maneuvering and manipulation it took to get a deal done.
The Dale Alyards of the world would have ignored all calls, especially those from their family.
So what did that make Alannah? Stupid? Or too normal?
Alannah moved around the brickwork to the west side of the house. There was nothing to see on that side of the house but the dark silhouettes of Beverley Hills and the night sky beyond. No one would be on that side of the house. If they wanted a view, they would be on the deck attached to the east side of the house, which overlooked the bright lights of L.A.
When had she started to question whether she fit in here? True, she’d lost her job. But this was her fifth job since she’d moved to L.A. With her building connections she could find another job tomorrow. A few calls, a bit of waiting, and something would emerge. She could casually drop the fact that she had been chatting with Adán Caballero last night, and the calls would be returned, she knew it.
Only…did she want to?
Alannah looked around for observers, for anyone who might see what she did next.
There was no one in sight, but she caught a whiff of hashish. Someone was having their own private party nearby. They were carefully tucked out of sight.
Alannah took a last look around, gathered herself up and jumped. When her small living room coalesced around her, her relief was vast, for there was no need to pretend to be a normal human anymore tonight.
A new, dark and ruthless enemy emerges to vex the time travelers…
Alannah’s family has always lurched from crisis to crisis, every time their secret life as time travelers and vampires clashes with the normal, human world. But Alannah has managed to stay unnoticed, living her uneventful and very human life to the hilt. Trouble doesn’t visit her for she has no extraordinary time traveling talents the way her siblings do. She is utterly average.
Kit McDonald thinks otherwise. He has been drawn to Alannah from the moment he met her, but the woman seems to barely recognize him. Given her unusual and highly interesting family, he can understand that. He’s just a park warden, with a checkered history and a remote and disinterested family of his own.
But when Alannah is confronted by a deadly, ruthless new enemy, it is Kit who steps in to help. As neither a time traveler, nor a vampire, his help is unique and oddly effective and the two find themselves on the run in the Canadian wilderness, with only each other for company….
This book is part of the paranormal time travel Kiss Across Time series:
1.0: Kiss Across Time
2.0: Kiss Across Swords
2.5: Time Kissed Moments*
3.0: Kiss Across Chains
3.5: Kiss Across Time Box One
4.0: Kiss Across Deserts
5.0: Kiss Across Kingdoms
5.1: Time And Tyra Again*
6.0: Kiss Across Seas
6.5: Kiss Across Time Box Two
7.0: Kiss Across Worlds
7.1: Time And Remembrance*
8.0: Kiss Across Tomorrow
8.1: More Time Kissed Moments*
9.0: Kiss Across Blades
10.0: Kiss Across Chaos
11.0: Kiss Across the Universe
11.1: Even More Time Kissed Moments*
12.0: Kiss Across Forever
[*Time Kissed Moments are short stories, novellas and collections featuring the characters and situations featured in the Kiss Across Time series.]
The series has ongoing storylines and characters. Reading the books in order is recommended.
The book will be released on Stories Rule Press (my bookstore) and all retailers in two weeks’ time on September 7.
You can pre-order it right now.
The link to SRP will also give you links to the other retail stores.