Trade Secrets

The Department of Homeworld Security, Book 15

These aliens are hiding a lot more than their existence.

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“…a nice bit of action and intrigue, some spicy romance, and fun characters.” — 5-star Goodreads review for Trade Secrets in the Pets in Space® 6 anthology


She wanted to learn about aliens—and ended up uncovering their secrets!

Gwen Williams wants nothing more than to explore the vast possibilities of outer space, but Earth’s technology isn’t going to get her there. Her solution? Make contact with aliens. The only problem is, her plan works a little too well—landing her on the radar of a group of aliens with plans of their own that involve her homeworld.

Xan was just trying to help his Vegan friends avoid getting into trouble for messing with human things they should have left alone. He didn’t expect to run up against Gwen, a brilliant, beautiful Earthling who stirs a depth of emotion in him that he didn’t know he possessed—and who also has evidence of his friends’ transgression. Adding in the fact that the super-smart “space cat” who’s adopted him has plans to bring Gwen into their little family and this Coalition pilot has some tricky space to navigate.

As if that wasn’t complicated enough, the trio discovers a plot on Xan’s ship that could compromise the security of all of their people—and the newly forged bonds between the sentients working toward peace in the galaxy. Will they be able to work together to secure a more peaceful future, or will their secrets drive them apart?

Author’s note: This novella was originally published in the Pets in Space® 6 anthology.

Main Content: Approximately 27,597 words


Teaser/Excerpt:

“I’m telling you, I saw an actual alien. He fixed the explorer and got it moving again. The way they were interacting, it was almost as if he’d taught the robot to understand him.”

Izzie’s eyebrow remained arched.

“I saw a lizard-person on Mars,” Gwen said. “For real!”

After a few moments, Izzie said, “Okay. As your best friend, I am obligated to believe you. But no one else will unless you have proof.”

Gwen smiled triumphantly. “You really think I wouldn’t record what I saw?”

Izzie smiled. “Then what are we waiting for? Show it to me.”

Gwen jumped up from her chair. At that exact moment, something crashed upstairs.

“What was that?” Izzie also rose from her seat.

Gwen shook her head and held her finger over her lips. She grabbed a rolling pin off the kitchen counter and whispered, “Stay here.”

“Like hell I will,” Izzie whispered back. She ran over and grabbed something of her own off the counter, then followed Gwen as she entered the hallway. They crept up the stairs.

Gwen cringed as Izzie stepped on the creaky spot, then turned around and made a shushing sound. Izzie mouthed, “Sorry.”

At the top of the stairs, Gwen could hear something moving around in her room. She had left the light on and the door was open.

Her heart hammered in her chest. She raised her rolling pin, slowly making her way down the hall. Izzie crouched behind her as they walked, brandishing her own weapon. A spatula.

Gwen paused and gestured to it, then mouthed, “Really?”

Izzie shook her head and shrugged. Then her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. Gwen slowly turned to see what was behind them, swallowing hard.

A kitten.

It was a kitten.

Specifically, a small marmalade tabby, sitting at the end of the hall in the light cast from her room. Its tail flicked behind it and it cocked its head and let out a little meow.

“What the…” Gwen murmured.

“Did you leave the window open?” Izzie whispered.

“Of course not,” Gwen hissed. “It’s still winter. Why would I leave the window open?”

“Then how did it get in?”

“Bandit!” a low masculine voice whispered from inside her room. “Get back here.”

A man appeared behind the cat. He was wearing jeans and a dark blue button-down shirt that was open enough to show off his delectable collarbones. His hair was dark and curly, and he had a generous coat of stubble on his strong jaw.

He looked really tan for being in Iowa in the middle of winter. And he wasn’t wearing a coat or hat or anything.

He did have on a very fancy watch with a black band and a plain silver face. Gwen had a good view of it since his sleeves were rolled up past his elbows, revealing corded forearms.

He bent and picked up the kitten, cradling it to his chest and planting a kiss between its furry ears. He smiled down at the little guy, and Gwen felt it like a nuke had gone off deep in her belly. Goosebumps spread down her arms as he flashed straight, white teeth and dimples.

God, she loved dimples on a man.

This was a guy who had snuck into her house in the middle of the night. What was wrong with her?

He whispered something in the kitten’s ear then looked up as he turned back to her room. He froze, mid-turn, as his hazel-brown eyes locked on her.

She lowered the rolling pin.

“What are you doing?” Izzie whispered. “We should… We should charge him or something.”

The guy was tall. Really tall. And with those broad shoulders and his athletic build, Gwen imagined them running up and just bouncing off of him.

Plus, he was holding a kitten.

“We can’t attack a man who’s holding a kitten,” Gwen said. “It’s not right.”

“Um… I can hear you,” he said. “And I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t attack me.”