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Finding Out About Found Girl

Can their love save an alien sanctuary from destruction?

cover art

It’s Monday! I’m trying to be excited it’s Monday. Not sure the exclamation point helped. But it is fun to share an excerpt from Found Girl: Project Enterprise 6. I’ll be interviewing myself about the story behind this story on Friday (and I hope you’ll check back for that! <—Still trying to get all excited about Monday). 

But for today, let’s take a look at the blurb and the excerpt. 🙂

She’s an alien farm girl. He’s a hotshot soldier. Can their love save an alien sanctuary from destruction? 

Arian Teraz refuses to waste her life on a loveless arranged marriage and a rocky plot of farmland. So when a mysterious ship lands in front of her and invites her to take a chance on something else, she doesn’t hesitate. Fleeing her planet, hostile forces open fire on her ship, and she has no choice but to send the ship through a wormhole. Clinging to life, she rockets out the other side… and plummets into the strong arms of a handsome soldier.

After months of staring into empty space, Captain Jackson “Coop” Cooper is itching for some action. He gets it when a wormhole delivers an alien ship into their path. He volunteers to make first contact, rescuing the ship with its injured alien beauty and her unusual shipmate. Before they can get acquainted, new threats send them on a wild ride through the cosmos and into a mysterious sanctuary with no means of escape. With little time to sort out enemies and allies, Arian and Coop must work together to uncover the secret behind her hidden destiny if they stand any chance of surviving their future. 

Found Girl is the sixth standalone book in the spectacular Project Enterprise sci-fi romance series. If you like cosmic battles, human-alien love stories, and imaginative future worlds, then you’ll love Pauline Baird Jones’ high-adrenaline adventure. 

Buy Found Girl to beam into a sexy interstellar romance today!

And now for the excerpt: 

Pappy strode toward the small office, scattering the hazmat team, and Derwent’s first contact team, with a look. Derwent stayed beside Arian, so Coop took her other side, steering her in the Old Man’s wake. She looked around her with what Coop assumed was her version of curiosity. Gal had a butt load of self-control. Derwent could take lessons from her. He couldn’t keep the shock and awe off his face. He wasn’t the only one giving their second, in-system alien a stare, though. Everyone left in the bay noted, with varying degrees of interest and maybe a bit of disappointment, how human she looked. The dragon had definitely changed the expectations. As her gaze passed over them, they either looked away or gave her a respectful salute in greeting. She gave them a somber nod in return. 

As they passed his Dauntless, she stopped to study it with a bit more curiosity showing in her eyes.  

“That’s my bird,” he said. 

“Bird?” Her head tipped to one side and she blinked slowly.

“My ship. A Dauntless. What I was flying when I towed your ship here.” 

She glanced at him. “I am grateful for your assistance.” 

“You are welcome, ma’am.” He touched the brim of his cap. “Glad to help out a fellow space traveler.” He grinned. 

Her lips twitched once, then she turned, reached up and touched the side of his bird, her fingers spreading on the surface. “It is smooth.” She glanced at him. “And well made. A fine ship.” Now her fingers traced the words he’d painted on the side. “What is this pattern?”

Coop touched the words, careful not to touch her in the process. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” She looked at him then, an open question in her eyes. He hesitated, wondering if she could understand. “We all pick a thing, in case we have to fight, so we’re fighting for something, something personal, I mean. We all fight for country, and all that, but we need, well, some of us fight for family, a girl, home.” His family was gone. Didn’t have a girl. When he wasn’t on his sloop, home was here on the Boyington. So he fought for the truth. “Every time I climb aboard, I remember why I fly. What’s personal for me.”

“The truth shall make you free,” she murmured. “Which symbol means truth?”

He showed her, then added, “This one spells free.” 

She traced both words with her finger, before looking at him. “I have not found the truth to make me free. The truth was…dangerous where I came from.”

He rubbed his chin. “It can be where I come from. Not everyone wants to hear it. Doesn’t change what I do. Or why I fight.” 

Her gaze studied his and his senses sparked off the light flickering in the blue-green depths of her eyes. Heat flicked lightly along his nerve endings as awareness arced between them. His nostrils picked her scent out of the metallic bay smells, exotic, ordinary, compelling. His attention shifted to her parted lips. The edges started to tip up—

“What’s the holdup, Captain?” the Colonel’s voice broke the moment apart. 

With a rueful grin, he gestured for her to continue toward Pappy, but he was aware of something that felt kind of like regret that he’d missed her smile. If she’d been gonna smile. She glanced back at him and he knew she had been gonna smile, and for whatever reason, she was sorry, too. 

Derwent stepped between them, cutting off his view, directing her into the small room Coop had set up for their meeting. Coop held back. He needed to get a grip. Pappy wouldn’t thank him for risking his detachment over a girl, no matter where she hailed from. Or maybe that was particularly where she hailed from. Which they still didn’t know, he reminded himself. 

“Is there a problem, Captain?” Pappy’s dry tone cut into his thoughts. 

“No, sir.” He hastily entered the room, stepping carefully past Derwent and then Arian to reach the only empty seat in the corner. 

Pappy’s gaze was not stern, but curious. He lifted a brow in a silent question. Coop shrugged, shook his head slightly, and then, after everyone was seated, sank down, too. Arian glanced at him, then looked away. Her hands settled in her lap, one resting lightly on the other. She gave the appearance of calm, but this close to her—she was far from at ease. It was weird because he’d never been accused of being sensitive to lady body language. Almost felt like he’d connected with her. It was a new enough experience for Coop that he would have rubbed the back of his neck—and dipped his head in some cold water—if he could have. He looked around for a distraction, which was provided by Pappy, another one of the old man’s super powers, Coop decided a bit wryly, as all Coop’s systems jolted back to normal in the face of his Colonel’s chill stare. 

Pappy had taken the seat behind the desk. He leaned back now, his hands clasped on his chest, his gaze sweeping the tray of coffee, juice, and sandwiches that Coop had arranged to be delivered. Coop saw Arian’s gaze stray to the tray and leaned forward to offer her the plate of sandwiches. When she hesitated, he told her, “I asked the doc and he said it was okay if you had a little something to eat, but to call him if you feel queasy.” 

One hand reached out, shaking slightly before she secured a triangle off the top. How long had it been since she’d had food, he wondered? With careful control, she took a small bite, her white teeth sinking into, and then through the white bread. 

“Thank you. It is very pleasing.” 

Now her look seemed almost shy. He offered her a choice of beverage and she appeared interested in the juice, so he poured her some. 

She sipped it, then inched past sipping. “That is excellent, as well,” she murmured, lowering the glass only when it was empty. “Thank you. I feel much refreshed.”

Color crept into her cheeks. The edges of her mouth tipped up, in a movement that was carefully contained. What would it be like if she lost control? Was it wrong to hope he’d be there? He caught Pappy looking at him again and thrust the plate his direction. Both Pappy and Derwent shook their heads decisively. 

“That cake was very filling,” Derwent admitted. “But good,” he added hastily. 

“I ate three the first time. It was most painful,” Arian offered, her head turning toward the doc with a tone that was almost friendly. 

Coop found it…annoyed him. “You had cake without me?” That got her attention off Derwent. He grinned, so she would know he was joking, relaxing into his seat.

Pappy cleared his throat ominously and Coop straightened hastily. Derwent looked like he wanted to speak but was silenced with a look. The old man studied Arian for long enough to make even a senior officer shift in his seat, but she didn’t. Her chin lifted a bit, but that was all.

“Don’t take this wrong, young lady, but you’re something of a problem for me.” Derwent choked but Pappy ignored him. “You see, we tried this first contact stuff before—with mixed results. We don’t know you, you don’t know us. So trust is—a work in progress.” 

He paused. Arian appeared to assess his words before offering a slight nod. “I understand.”

“Do you? You pretty much popped up out of nowhere in front of us and your—” he stopped then, for the first time looking uncertain.

“My Companion was concerned for my safety.” 

“Right.” He paused, but she didn’t enlarge on this comment. 

She was parsimonious with words. The truth can be dangerous. Well, there wasn’t much more dangerous than first contact, particularly one against many. She didn’t know them. And they didn’t know her, he reminded himself. It didn’t help as much as it should have. 

“Your telepathic companion,” he added. 

“His physiology is not designed for human speech,” she said. “It is the only way he can communicate with us.” 

“Well, on our planet, animals don’t talk to us telepathically or otherwise.” 

She regarded him intently but didn’t comment on this. It was kind of like being in a room with an expert witness. Or a lawyer, he decided. Could tell it didn’t sit well with Pappy. He wanted her to chat, to relax and reveal enough to get a read on her. 

“It can be disconcerting,” she agreed. 

“We’re new to this neighborhood, so we don’t know who all the players are. While we’re happy to provide assistance to someone in trouble, until we know more, we don’t take sides or—” 

He stopped and waited, his gaze fixed on her.

This silence was longer than the last. Pappy didn’t look upset, so Coop tried not to worry. 

“…trust without further data,” she finished for him finally. 

“That’s right. Why should we trust you?” he asked bluntly, making Derwent wince.

“You shouldn’t,” she said, almost sounding wistful. “You don’t know me.” 

Pappy looked disconcerted. “Are you a danger to my people or my ship?”

Her brows arched a bit. “I don’t think so.”

“Why don’t you know?” he barked back. 

“I don’t know enough about your ship to know what is dangerous to it.” 

Coop had to hide a twitch of his lips with his hand. 

“And I’ve obviously banged up my ship.” She said this so seriously, a tiny frown between her brows as if she were seriously considering the question. She gave a small sigh. “I probably wouldn’t trust me.” 

* * *

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Trust me when I say that Coop and Arian take a lot of hits and face a lot of challenges on the road to their happy ending. And check back OR sign up for my newsletter OR follow me on BookBub to find out when Project Enterprise 7 will be releasing. 🙂

Perilously yours,

Pauline

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