Chapter Two excerpt from Space Cowboys & Indians landing July 15

Not too terribly long ago I gave you a sneak peek at Chapter One of Space Cowboys & Indians, where you met our hero, Cole Hudson. Not one to sit by unnoticed , our heroine Tessa Hernandez has demanded equal opportunity. Tessa is a brilliant engineer and pilot with a fiery personality, and she’s none too happy to find out who their newest crewmate may be.

Meet Tessa.

Chapter Two

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Roswell, New Mexico – the near future

Tessa Hernandez swirled her straw around the gin and tonic sitting on the bar top in front of her at O’Malley’s. Another Friday night in the Roswell bar—was this six or seven weeks since Janson had dragged her out of her self-imposed exile of humiliation with an offer she couldn’t refuse?

Ever since she’d been dismissed from the NASA training program, she’d been in a downward spiral. Anger issues, they’d said. Hadn’t passed the final psych eval. Even after completing the twenty-month program—she’d totally financed—they’d passed her over for promotion to astronaut. Let them try growing up with six older Hispanic brothers in a Catholic home in South Texas.

They hadn’t even seen anger issues yet.

She wasn’t sure what burned her ass the most, that she had been days away from fulfilling her dream when they’d booted her, or that they’d let her spend out before it happened.

Total toss-up.

But, now? Janson offered her a second chance. Her own personal patron saint of lost causes, it seemed.

She tipped back the tumbler and let the clear, tart drink slide down her throat.

“Want another?” Noah Wright slid up to the barstool beside her carrying a head-sized plate of greasy home-cut fries covered in cheese. His dirty blond hair feathered out beneath the ball cap, and his blue eyes sparkled with mischief.

“Sure. You buying?”

“Absolutely. Barkeep, send the lady another.” Noah gave her a crooked smile and shoved the plate of fries closer to her. “I’ll share.”

“No, thanks. You’re going to regret those tomorrow.”

“Probably. They’ll evacuate us, anyway, before we go. Might as well make ’em work for their money.”

“You’re disgusting.” Tessa smiled at him.

“I try. Besides, no way is my potentially last meal on Earth going to be space MREs.” He shoved a fistful of fries into his mouth. “Aaahve oooo sheen tha nooo ghay?”

“I had brothers—who were animals—and still, I have no idea what you just said. Swallow a few fries first, then talk.” Tessa slid her new drink closer to her and began again with the stir-and-ignore vibe she’d mastered.

Noah swallowed audibly. “I said. Have you seen the new guy?”

“No. You?”

“Heard Janson flew to Alaska and dragged him off a gold mine claim.”

“Alaska?”

“Yep. Also, heard he was in ‘The Program.’ A reject. Just like us.”

“You had better be freaking kidding me.” She laid her head down on top of her tumbler, disgusted by what she knew was coming next.

“What’s that reaction all about?” he asked, wiping cheese off his cheek.

“You got a name for this reject?” she asked, hoping against hope.

“Hudson, I think. Like the river. Can’t remember his first name.”

“Cole,” Tessa mumbled. Just as she’d feared.

“Was he in your class?”

“Briefly.”

“Reeeeally? You gonna make me drag it out of you? Spill it. If we’re going to space with this guy, I’d like to know whose hands I’m putting my life into.”

“Oh, you’re safe enough. Not dangerous. Pendejo.” Tessa sighed. “Besides, you’re on the wrong team for him to cause you any trouble.”

“Cole is gay? You’re mad because he’s gay?”

“Good God, no. He’s…”

“I’m confused. Granted, it’s a state I’m familiar with. Still. What’s your grind with this guy? Do you know why he got booted?”

Bar noise picked up behind them as the band came onto the stage. “Money problems from what I heard. But if not for that, he’d still be sleeping his way through the female recruits.”

“Ah, I see then.”

Tessa whipped around on her bar stool. “What’s that mean?”

“You had a thing for him. Am I right?”

“Not. Even. Close.”

“Okay, I give up. Clearly I have no idea what your damage is with this guy.” Noah used his last three fries to sweep the remaining cheese from his plate and then pointed them at Tessa. “Whatever it is? Let it go. This is our big shot. Those losers still in ‘The Program’…” Noah made air quotes with his fries and fingers. “They have to follow the rules. Us? We’re making the rules.”

Tessa watched as Noah licked cheese from each finger. “I think rules are the least of our worries.”

Space Cowboys & Indians lands July 15.

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How can the chance of a lifetime go so horribly wrong?

Mining Engineer Cole Hudson signed up for NASA astronaut training, but after washing out short of getting his gold wings, he retreats to Alaska where he stakes out a gold claim. When billionaire entrepreneur Duncan Janson offers him an opportunity to join a mining team on an asteroid, Cole jumps at the chance.

But nothing is as it seems. Former NASA reject and rival classmate, Tessa Hernandez, is also a member of the team, and from the beginning of the mission test flight, things go horribly wrong. They soon discover they’re not the only ones on the asteroid. As they try to escape, they are pulled through a wormhole and back to the early 1800s New Mexico desert where aliens and Apaches may be the least of their problems.

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