Hello! I’m still writing Mandy and Nilt’s romance and don’t feel comfy in creating a preorder just yet. I know. I’m disappointed, too, because I wanted my books finished yesterday. I mean, they’re in my head already. Why can’t I type faster?

For fun, I’ve included some of the first chapter for you to read. It’s not edited by anyone but me, so read at your own risk, lol! I might put in all of the first chapter, actually. It’s sort of long, but I like how Mandy and Nilt meet.

Chapter One


Less than a year ago, I was the best programmer in my company. I was at the top of my game, headed for the CIO spot or as close as management would let me get. Then aliens, mother fucking aliens, scooped thousands of us up, dropping us off on their shitty world.

We were fucking pets. Pets. As bad as I thought being treated like a second-class citizen was thanks to my gender, being livestock was so much worse. I pound my clothes against a rock like I’ve seen in movies. Not sure if the scrubbing in plain water is getting them clean, but the bastards didn’t drop off any soap or deodorant so I reek. At least my anger is useful.

I glance up at the sky for the millionth time since I was dumped here. I want to believe my so-called owners are coming back for me. I’ve been keeping positive thoughts, going over my affirmations and can-do power statements. I even carved out WWGD, or What Would a Guru Do in the soft wood of my new shelter.

But no. I don’t believe that shit anymore. I’m stuck here as much as I was stuck in my non-threatening and go-nowhere spot at work on Earth. I wring out my shirt. Even with the discrimination and fake acceptance from my male peers, I’d go back home in an instant if it meant I had modern conveniences again.

I straighten to stretch my back, wiping my forehead to keep sweat from stinging my eyes. So far, this place has been warm enough to be comfortable. I feel lucky that the only wild life is plants. Not that I enjoy being a forced vegan, but better the eater than the eaten.

I’m also happy mi padre was addicted to survival shows at home. Every family holiday, he and I watched naked people turned loose in various environments to sink or swim. Sometimes literally, mostly figuratively. I kept busy during the shows doing the craft du jour mom came up with for us. I hated it at the time but would do anything to go back to them.

Of course, now I’m grateful for even the half assed skills I picked up in those hours. I stop staring into the almost white blue sky and head back to my shelter. I’d created something with the thick, transparent green leaves nearby to keep the rain off. My crude setup isn’t perfect, but works pretty well. The planet has enough vegetation to be interesting and helpful. Even better, vines here are strong and happily not poisonous. Looking at you, poison ivy.

My current project is a bed to keep me off the floor. I haven’t found biting or stinging bugs here, yet, but I’m planning ahead in case I’m at the quiet time in some insect’s life cycle. Nothing in the soil shows beetle wings or stray grasshopper legs like at home. There’s been no scat around, telling me I really am alone here.

By the time my clothes are hung up to dry, clouds block the sun for the mid-afternoon rains. I’d slept in, not planning my day very well, so when the first few drops pelt me, I duck inside the small shelter I’d created.

I check my stack of food, happy it’s there. Calling my stockpile anything but a few orange banana-looking things is a bit of a stretch. Bonus is how the fruit almost doesn’t kill me. When I decided to skip a meal or two, my stomach decided to stop trying to leave my body. Since then, I’ve been trying small amounts to see how much my body will take before noping out of it. I could taste test more of the various plants around here, but one thing at a time.

The rain increases, steaming up the place. It’s so hot. I wipe the sweat from my face, thinking about stripping bare for a real bath. The nearby stream’s clear water tempts me to jump in and cool off, but no. It’s been two weeks alone here, but I still don’t feel safe being exposed. What if my former owners come back while I’m nude? What if some other type of alien drops by to see what my owners,  ____ and ____, were doing here? (Note from Mara: I haven’t picked the perfect dastardly names for Mandy’s abductors. Fwee and Tlpar would be fun, but no one loves them as much as I do.)

I lean back against the tree in the middle of my shelter. Hard pass on being without underwear and clothes for now. If no one shows up for a few more weeks, I’ll run around naked. Maybe.

Closing my eyes, I simply listen to the rain. I miss my sound machine. Hell, I miss my entire life. Being taken from Earth shook my world, or rather, universe. I knew who I was and what I wanted. I was going to the top, kicking through the glass ceilings along the way. Now alone on what I hope is a deserted planet? I’d kill for a decent hamburger and any kind of soda.

The rains continue their pitter-patter on the huge leaves overhead, making me sleepy. I nod off, trying to get comfortable. A bed is my next project, for sure. I close my eyes, mapping out how to fit branches together and wrap vines around the frame, then move on to maybe constructing a low chair, possibly a table of sorts.

I’d resisted doing anything beyond temporary shelter, hoping my alien owners would come back for me. Maybe they will. Even if they do return sooner than later, I’m not sure I want to live sleeping on the ground until then. Not for the first time do I curse them to hell for taking away the nanotechnology they’d injected me with after my “adoption.” I hated and feared the tech at first but could use the database hook-up now to improve my life around here. Plus, I could send for help off this planet.

I watch a small stream of water drip from the makeshift roof. I wasn’t happy with them on Kosta at all. The aliens in charge of me are, or were, so weird looking. Heads split in two was startling enough to us “round-skulls” at first. The Kostan’s bright red hair with super pale skin made my Scottish cousins look swarthy in comparison.

No matter how much I hated being a nanny to the alien’s bratty kids, I’d return to their civilization in a second. At least breaking up fighting children was more entertaining than this. I didn’t have to guess if what I ate would kill me.

The rain eases to a mist for the hazy and humid part of the day. There’s gotta be a way for me to make paper and ink, too, because I’m missing my to do lists so much. At least with nanos, I could create lists in my head and actually remember them.

All right, enough whining to myself over this. I get up and leave the small shelter. It’s still drizzly, but the air smells fresh. I almost don’t hate it here when the sky is clear. The rains over for the day, I walk along the stream, now full of silty water. I haven’t spotted any fish but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any on the planet.

The stream isn’t flooding unless I count some shallow pools along the bank. I shy away from the rocks since a thin layer of green covers some of them. I make my way around some of the larger boulders, worrying about how they might have tumbled here. Glaciers? Massive floods? I have no idea, but they’re odd out here in the middle of a relatively flat plain.

Something to worry about later. I probably need to move my shelter further from the stream in case the place floods for real. How far is far enough, though? I have no idea. Walking into a small meadow, I think this place seems nice. The woods surround the clearing where flowers bloom. I’d like to see if they smell like the ones at home, but first need to check out that mountain rapids sound coming from the stream farther down. I don’t remember hearing so much water before now.

I go back to the stream and close enough to see from between the trees. I still can’t tell exactly where the rapids might be. Curious, I keep going, hoping for something pretty like a waterfall. I’d want to move here since it’d be the best white noise machine ever. Thick grasses grow between the stream’s bank and me, so I grab onto them to steady myself in the mushy ground.

Instantly, my hands sting. Not bad, but enough to make me let go and scratch my palms. Red lines striate across my hands like deep paper cuts. The pain and itch are intense already. I go to the water’s edge, careful not to slip, and lean over to wash off my hands, hoping this works.

I can’t quite reach and stretch a little more. Just as I touch the water, my weight shifts and I slide into the ice-cold stream. The rushing water feels more like a raging river as I grab for various vegetation. Now I really hope there’s no waterfall on the planet.

Grab, miss, swim, grab, miss, swim and after several tries, I’m frozen and terrified. No one can hear me, but I scream, “Help!” a few times when my head is above the water. The screaming feels productive even if I’ll probably die here.

The babbling brook noise is now a roar and I’m almost happy it’s rapids. The currents sweep me through a rocky passageway before a dip takes me under. The current rolls me head over heels, smacking my head against a rock. I gasp, which is the wrong thing to do underwater and begin coughing the instant my face reaches air.

I blink a few times and find a low-hanging branch. Dipping even more toward the water, now calm, thankfully, I make a grab for it.  My feet touch the ground here, helping as I grip the branch. Still coughing, I pull myself through the water, flinging my body onto a rock. The moldy moss stuff smells bad, but I don’t care. I’m safe for the moment. I begin shivering from the cold.

Every quake from me hurts my head. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were bleeding. Getting to my hands and knees, I mutter, “I’ve had enough fun for one day.”

“Let me help,” a deep masculine voice says.

I look up into a man’s face. He’s an alien but not one I’ve seen before. He’s holding out a hand for me to take. I reach forward, then spot his scales and get a good look at his reptilian appearance. I scream, scramble backward and fall back into the water.

The icy river envelops my body, carrying me downstream. I can’t fight the pain in my head or the need to sleep and close my eyes.

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