Since Healer’s Garden just got it’s release date. I thought I’d share an excerpt with you from Chapter One …
Jahara Hriznek’s life was over. The evidence weighed heavy in her hands. In the time it had taken to do the retinal scan, her future had been stolen from her.
As she stood at the tall bank of windows, staring at the distant mountains, Jahara knew nothing could change this new course of her life. She felt the hollow reality as obviously as the barren expanse of desert stretching between her and the horizon. There was nothing to break up the monotony of the landscape. Nothing to take her mind off the inevitability of the days to come. Nothing to bring back the future she’d thought lay before her when she woke this morning.
No helo-vehicles were out this time of day. It was still much too hot for people to leave the climate-controlled confines of the buildings in the city on the other side of the mountains. It would be a few more hours still before the sun sat low enough to make the commute across the blistering sands a safe one. Then the nearly empty roadway, three stories below, would bustle with solar powered helo-vehicles and buses.
She wouldn’t be among the commuters winding their way from the Eastern Territory’s capital city of Lexington into her little village. Jahara had taken a much-needed day of rest from the healing facility.
The city’s new government expansion had brought with it careless male workers whose stupidity forced them to the hospital in droves for emergency services. Those healers not completely repulsed by the men’s presence were forced to work overtime to treat the injuries. Jahara had been fielding complaints and filling in for overworked healers for weeks.
For one day she’d wanted to think about nothing more taxing than what music selection she would pull from her computer files. She’d planned on using some of her monthly water allotment and soaking in a hot bath rather than her daily chemical wash. Jahara had even considered calling Merenith and convincing her to take the day off from the animal clinic and lounge around with her. She had no doubt her current lover and she could find ways to entertain each other.
But none of that had happened.
The messenger service had shown up at her door early this morning, delivering the wretched news. Had she known they were making their way to her, Jahara definitely would have worked at the hospital today and long hours into the night. Using her hands to heal males was preferable to holding this retched projection disk.
Now, as Jahara glared at the palm-sized disk, fear burned the back of her throat and trembled along her chin. Hot tears of anger welled in her eyes. She shouldn’t be so upset. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t known this was coming. Her twenty-eighth birthday was next month. It was law. Her birth-mother, the Dame of her family, had held off the inevitable as long as possible. Jahara’s position as medical director had, up until this day, kept her from fulfilling the horrid obligation. But no woman, no matter how prestigious her position, ever ran from it. The thought soured in her stomach.
She’d known what the packet contained the moment she’d opened the door to find the government currier standing in the hall. Jahara had wanted to flee, to shut the door and hide from the responsibility, but instead she calmly leaned forward and let the android do the eye scan that proved the disk had found its way into her hands. She stared down at the official government seal over her Dame’s image on the disk. Even offspring of the chief administrator of the Eastern Territory weren’t exempt from this law enacted by Congress nearly a century and a half earlier.
Throwing the disk at the wall, she let out a feral sound of frustration.
As if chastising her, the bells chimed at her door. The normally soft chirp sounded loud in the silent womb of her living abode where she’d closed herself away. Jahara didn’t want to answer it. Didn’t want to know there was more to fulfilling her obligation. When it rang again, the sound almost persistent, she reluctantly skirted around the couch and slammed her hand on the touchpad, retracting the pneumatic door.
“Having temper tantrums, I hear.” Merenith leaned in for a quick kiss. “I heard you all the way down the hall.” The short crop of blonde swished about her chin as her lover shook her head in disbelief. Her pouty lips were pulled tight between her teeth to mask-humor? Concern? Jahara couldn’t be sure.
“You have no idea what kind of a day I’ve had.” Jahara stepped back and invited the willowy beauty through the door. “The worst day of my life, as a matter of fact.” As she passed, Jahara marveled as always at the beauty of Merenith’s body. A descendent of the Olakuma clan, Merenith’s ancestors had long ago lost any semblance of body hair. It was unnecessary in their life in the desert heat. Merenith’s skin was all tawny satin, save for the velvety blonde eyebrows and thick lashes that once protected her people from the harsh sand thrown up in the hot winds.
The woman stared at her, arching one of those elegant brows, the skeptical expression marring the flawless contours of her face. “Worst? I think you’re exaggerating just a bit.” Merenith bent to brush the dust of the desert from her heavy work boots.
“You have no idea.”
Straightening, Merenith tenderly pressed her lips to Jahara’s and wrapped her in her arms. The comforting scent of jasmine, hay and the animals Merenith tended filled Jahara’s nose. She pulled Merenith in tighter, wishing they could stay this way forever and ignore the projection disk.
Merenith might be four years her junior, but Jahara wanted to believe that what they shared was the stuff made of fairytales. At her age, Jahara was desperate to find the woman who would complement her in every sense of the word-a woman who could be the sun to her moon, the color on her drab canvas, the shadow that moved in synchronized harmony with her-a woman who would satisfy every part of her. She had hoped Merenith would become that person. But their relationship was still so new. There was no doubt fulfilling her obligation would have some affect on her career, but that she could rectify. Jahara just wasn’t sure she would survive if it stole from her the one thing she wanted most-true love.