Things in the kitchen are about to heat up.
When a reclusive billionaire hires Brigid as his personal chef, she has a feeling the job is too good to be true. The pay is jaw-dropping—as is the wannabe she’s replacing in the kitchen. Dane’s heart is in the right place, but seriously, baked beans over pasta? It’s like he learned to cook on another planet. He’s eager to learn her ways, and Brigid is more than happy to give him very personal lessons.
Dane has never felt like he belonged anywhere. Not among his fellow Sadirian soldiers in the fleet of the Coalition of Planets and not as the highest ranking med-tech assigned to assist the Department of Homeworld Security on Earth. All of that changes the moment he meets Brigid.
Resisting their mutual attraction is impossible—especially when soldiers from the Coalition arrive to arrest the Sadirians living on Earth and wipe the memories of all the Earthlings who’ve encountered them. But as Dane and Brigid fight to preserve their chance at a future together, they find that a new enemy has risen in the galaxy that threatens everything they know and love. As their worlds shift around them, can they hold on to the spark that connects their hearts?
Main Content: Approximately 44,205 words, 226 (5.5 x 8.5) pages
Now avalable on these retailers (and more):
(THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMEWORLD SECURITY, Book Ten)
Copyright © 2019 Cassandra Chandler
All rights reserved
“Do you want to watch a movie, maybe?” Brigid said. “I know I should be exhausted, but I’m too wired to sleep just yet.”
“A movie sounds great.”
The entertainment room was seldom used, close by, and had an overstuffed couch with plenty of room for them to…get comfortable.
Her smile grew. “I’ll make popcorn.”
She started going through the cabinets, looking for whatever popcorn was. He would offer to help, but didn’t have a clue what she was looking for.
After all the strange topics that had come up during and after dinner, he didn’t want to give her more things to wonder about. Their ignorance of everyday Earthling things had caused Brigid to lift an eyebrow more than once.
She was handling everything so well—unlike the previous chef, who had seen a box of floating peanuts one too many times and become convinced the place was haunted.
At least he’d been focused on ghosts and never once mentioned anything about aliens. Dane doubted the guy would cause any problems for them with the huge payment Brendan had given him when he left.
Dane still wished that the others had told him he wasn’t doing a good enough job when he’d stepped in to fill that void. Then again, if he had tried harder, Brendan wouldn’t have felt the need to hire Brigid.
Dane had met countless other sentients, including quite a few Earthlings. He’d never reacted to anyone like he did to Brigid.
“Aha.” She pulled out a small box, then opened it up. Inside, there were several folded bags wrapped in plastic.
She tore open the plastic and unfolded the bag, then set it inside the microwave. “Can you get us out a bowl?”
“Sure.” He reached over her to open the cabinet that held the dishes Brendan and Henry used to eat cereal.
“Not that kind of bowl.” She shook her head and laughed. “Bigger.”
How the heck was that tiny flat bag going to produce something that needed a bigger bowl?
He closed the door as she punched in numbers on the microwave. The process reminded him of how nutrient bricks were created and deployed back on the Arbiter.
A chill threaded down his spine at the thought of his ship—and the one just like it that was on the way.
The Reckoning could reach Earth in a matter of weeks. Even with the Vegans offering to use their advanced technology to assist in defending Earth, there was every chance of violence. Dane had high stakes on both sides.
Dane’s thoughts had been swirling around the Reckoning’s crew ever since Brigid made that comment about Vay being ‘a natural’. Specifically, he kept thinking about the second-in-command, Marq.
Dane’s not-genetically engineered brother.
The Coalition might get their ass kicked by the Vegans when they arrived at Earth, but Marq and Dane were still soldiers. If anyone found out that they knew about each other, they’d get mind-wipes and be reassigned far enough apart that they’d never have a chance to reconnect, just like what had been done to their parents. It was a miracle Dane and Marq had discovered each other in the first place—and the truth about themselves.
There was just too much to unpack when it came to Marq. How the hell could Dane keep his brother safe—and protect their secret—when the Reckoning arrived?
If he kept thinking about it, he’d lose even more sleep. At this rate, he’d be completely non-functional when it was time to head to the Florida base to take their stand.
Besides, he had much more pleasant things to occupy his attention—like Brigid.
Bigger bowls were in the cabinet in the kitchen island. He was just turning to fetch one when he heard the first burst of weapon fire.
“Get down,” he yelled.
She let out a yelp as he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her against his chest. Ducking low, he spun them away from the sound. It was coming from right where Brigid had been standing, and increasing in frequency.
He half-dragged her to the other side of the kitchen island, then pushed her to the ground, covering her with his body while he tried to make sense of where the attack was coming from.
“What are you doing?” Brigid yelled.
“Saving you from whatever that is,” he said.
“That’s the popcorn!”
“What?” He scanned the room, but didn’t see any movement.
“Dane, look at me.” Brigid put her hands on his cheeks and tugged till he complied. “That is the sound popcorn makes when you cook it. That’s why it’s called popcorn.”
The noise was dying down, with only intermittent bursts of sound. His heart was pounding and his mouth had gone dry.
“How the hell can food make so much noise?” he said.
“The water in the corn is heated to a temperature that causes steam to build up in it. The starches in the kernel expand as it pops, and then they set pretty much instantly, resulting in popcorn.”
“It’s just food,” she said. “You’re safe. I’m safe. Everyone’s safe.”
“Well then, I guess this is…”
Yet more completely unreasonable and suspicious behavior.
He kept that thought to himself, and instead said, “This is really overreacting.”
Brigid laughed. “Maybe a little bit.”