Excerpt from ‘Starshine’

From chapter six:

It wasn’t that she was scared, but having James stay the night again felt better than being alone. Finding out about the beams was disturbing beyond what she had imagined. How could anyone use ESSI technology against humans? Questioning authority wasn’t something she was used to, even though her mother had coached her to do just that. Sneaking around with illegal technology and prying at the institute’s computer systems was the furthest from her comfort zone that she’d ever been. If they were going to investigate ESSI, being together felt better, felt right – and less vulnerable.

They stayed up late drinking in the gazebo in the backyard, listening to music and talking about anything other than what they were getting into. James shared that he was impressed with her surfing and her love of riding motorcycles. They commiserated about being children of high-ranking officers, although James’ childhood was a lot more challenging than Sonya’s had been. Out of the blue he asked about Markis.

“So what is it about the Paris guy that’s got you so hooked? I mean, how do you form a crush on someone you’ve never met?”

She laughed, more to offset her discomfort. “I’m not hooked.”

“Puhleez… okay, what drew you in, then?”

She sipped her wine, reflecting. “Why do you want to know?”

“Just curious.”

His interest was interesting. “It’s hard to explain. Sort of weird.”

“Try me.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

“What’s it going to hurt?”

She thought, apparently not you. “Fine. It’s his eyes. Flat out dreamy. Like they’re beaming dreams.”

“Beaming dreams?” He swirled the beer in his mug.

She laughed. “I said it’s hard to explain.”

For a moment she saw his own beam and wished she hadn’t told him. She would have sworn his eyes said, How can I compete with that?