EXCLUSIVE #EXCERPT – Euphoria by Jayne Lockwood

Jayne Lockwood has a new queer sci fi book out. Please join me in welcoming Jayne to my blog. She’s graciously sharing an exclusive excerpt with us here today!

Euphoria by Jayne Lockwood

Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-64080-776-1
ASN: B07D3TYGBH
Price: $6.76
Length: Novel / 96,000 words
Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis at studioenp.com
Genres: sci fi, romance, fantasy, dystopia
Keywords/Categories: non-binary, tentacles, gay, MPREG, romance between alien and human, slow burn, world in peril, English setting

Warnings: some description of historical child abuse

QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


About the Story

Euphoria

It might take the arrival of an alien being to remind an isolated man what it means to be human.

With a stressful job, his boss breathing down his neck for profitable results, and an estranged wife and daughter, scientist Kurt Lomax doesn’t think life can get much harder. Until a nonbinary extraterrestrial with an otherworldly beauty, captivating elegance, and a wicked sense of humor inconveniently shows up at his apartment.

Vardam watched the destruction of their own world, and they don’t want to see the same thing happen on Earth. They are lonely, and feelings soon develop between them and the supposedly straight scientist—feelings Kurt reciprocates, much to his confusion.

The arrival of cheery interpreter Tom Soames—whose Goth appearance belies a gentle heart—is like a ray of sunshine in the somber lab. He acts as matchmaker for man and tentacled extraterrestrial, unwittingly instigating a national crisis when the news breaks out.

But will a misunderstanding ruin Kurt and Vardam’s chances for happiness together—along with the hope for peace between humanity and the Var?


Excerpt

Three hours later, they were still none the wiser.

“Any joy with communications?”

Nic shook her head. “None. They don’t seem to respond to any spoken language. I’ve tried binary code, sonar, whale music, radio waves. Not a flicker. I’m not sure how well they can see or hear. They won’t let me near enough to do any examinations. They just keep staring at me like I’m the one who isn’t getting it. It’s really frustrating.”

When Kurt looked again, Vardam was there. With a graceful tilt of the head, they watched him as he approached the glass.

“What about the forensics on that note?”

“Just got them,” Troy said, looking up from his computer. “The note was written with an old-style Bic ballpoint pen by a human female….”

“Human? Are you sure?”

“I can’t argue with the evidence. There was a trace of fingerprint on the paper but nothing I can analyze. The paper looks like any A4 copy from a twentiethcentury printer or photocopier. The only thing is, I think it might have been written by someone in distress. The handwriting is very jerky, like they weren’t sure what to write and then just dashed it down. But….” Troy shrugged his wide shoulders. “That last bit’s a hunch. Could be totally wrong. Still waiting on the DNA.”

“Thanks, Troy. Let me know as soon as you get it.”

He turned back to where Vardam was standing, staring at him with those unnerving gemstone eyes.

“Who are you?”

Vardam raised their hand, running the back of it down the glass close to Kurt’s face. He jerked away. It was too close for comfort, even with three inches of glass between them. Vardam backed away as well, as if alarmed by his sudden movement. For reasons he didn’t understand, he was irritated beyond measure by their wounded expression.

“Talk to me, damn it! What do you want with me?” He smacked his hand against the glass. The sharp slap shocked Vardam into stepping back. They bared gold teeth at him and made a gesture that looked almost obscene. Then they dropped into a crouch. Immediately, a smooth iridescent shell closed over their hunched body, covering it completely.

Kurt and Nic exchanged glances, then looked back at the pod. It was completely smooth, devoid of any seams or openings. Every few seconds it quivered. Kurt could almost feel the waves of disapproval emanating from the gleamingsurface.

“Well, that’s new,” Nic said. “Get some rest. I’ll babysit until ten. Troy will take the graveyard shift.”

Kurt tore his angry gaze away from the strange pod. The way it hunched reproachfully in the corner didn’t improve his mood one bit. He knew he was more than tired. He felt emotionally and physically drained and couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten a proper meal. Not that he was hungry. He just wanted sleep.

In his apartment, he lay naked in his wide bed. He was thinking about his continued feud with James Dyer. The issue dangled over his career like a sword of Damocles but all he could see was the beautiful creature. Those eyes, staring into his ragged soul. What did they want?

The telephone by his bed rang, waking him from an unnerving dream. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was 6:15. The last eight hours had passed frighteningly quickly.

“Hello?” His voice sounded faded.

“Sorry to wake you, Professor, but I’ve got the DNA results back. You need to see them.”

“I’ll be right down.”

He stumbled out of bed and into the shower. Twenty minutes later he was down in the lab, a fresh white coat over his shirt and tie.

In the isolation room, Vardam had emerged from their shell. The melon had been eaten, apart from the rinds, neatly scalloped with teeth marks.

“What’s happening?”

“It was just as I thought it would be. There’s human DNA on that note. Female. I took the liberty of cross-checking it against the National DNA Database and found a match. Whoever wrote this note is related to you. Not just distantly, but directly of your bloodline.”

Kurt looked closer at the screen. It was policy to hold the medical details of everyone at the Bunker, including himself. Even so, he wondered why he wasn’t more surprised.

It was impossible but saying so would have been redundant. The evidence was right there in front of him. He walked over to the glass and beckoned to Vardam. They gave him a withering look and turned away, presenting a bony back to the window.

“I think we’re going to have to use the softly-softly approach,” Troy said. “They’re not going to tell us anything until they’re ready. And I’ve got another hunch. I think they’re using BSL.”

“British Sign Language?” Kurt was skeptical.

“I know it sounds weird, but there’s a guy who works at Tesco in Wycombe. He uses it with some of the customers. It looks the same. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?” Troy prodded buttons on his iPad. The official website came up with a finger-spelling option. “Not all words have signs, obviously, so each letter has a sign, right?”

“I know the principles of sign language,” Kurt said irritably. The alien was an inconvenience, however beautiful they were.

“You write in your name, and the finger shapes come up.” Troy typed rapidly. Kurt’s surname appeared on the screen in sign.

Troy gently tapped on the glass. “Hello?”

Vardam turned around, saw it was Troy, and ambled over. Troy showed them the diagrams on the iPad screen. The alien nodded, repeated the signs, and pointed at Kurt. Then it signed, “I am….”

“I can’t tell what they’re saying,” Troy said. “They’re too fast. Hang on.” He typed again. “I’ve found a YouTube video for learning phrases. Ah! This one is easy.” He put the iPad down and signed, making a sad face, swirling his fist on his stomach, then raising both hands over his head, shaking it at the same time.

“What are you doing?”

“Telling him I don’t understand. It’s ‘way over my head.’ Get it?”

Vardam seemed to. They signed “okay,” then turned to Kurt and made another gesture, flattening one hand and punching up into it with the other.

“My instincts are telling me that isn’t good,” Troy said. “Looks like we need to find ourselves a sign language expert.”

“We can’t bring anyone else in at the moment. Certainly not in a professional capacity. The government will be all over us before we know it.” As Kurt said it, the seed of an idea was forming in his mind. “Where did you say that BSL user worked again?”

~

BANNER - Euphoria


☆ Exclusive Excerpt ☆

In this exclusive excerpt, it is Tom Soames’ first full day at Pharmacure’s hidden laboratories and he is about to meet his aloof boss, Professor Lomax. Previously though, he was settling into his swanky apartment and has already made a friend. However, he is about to discover that things aren’t quite as perfect as they might first appear.

The next morning, he woke wondering why he felt so nervous.

Then he remembered. It was the first day in his new job.

As he showered, he went over the night before. Rashad had fallen asleep on his shoulder halfway through the movie, which was kind of sweet. When Tom woke him at the end of the film, he had been embarrassed, muttering sheepishly about pulling a seventy-hour week before that weekend. At the door they had hugged, exchanged a quick peck on the lips, and that was it.

Which was great. It seemed right. There was an ease between them, not a huge flaring of lust, and Tom could live with that. He had too much else to take in before engaging in a complicated relationship with a man who was way above his pay grade.

“Hell, I’m really growing up,” he said into the mirror as he fastened his black shirt. He chose the black skinny jeans to go with it.

At precisely 8:30, Sally knocked on his door. She smiled when he thanked her for the groceries. “It’s a pleasure, Tom. I hope you don’t mind Rashad visiting last night.”

“We had a great time. I don’t think I’ll ever stop appreciating everything you’ve done. This is all new for me. Do I look okay?”

Another reassuring smile. “You look fine. Once you’re in a lab coat, no one will see what you’re wearing. Let’s go.” She headed for the door and he followed her. “Remember your lanyard, Tom.”

“Yes!” He ran back and grabbed it. As they walked back out of the building, he put his apartment key on the strap as well and hung it round his neck.

He followed Sally to an unassuming building, mostly smothered in a thick coat of ivy. As they stood outside an old green door, the paint chipped and peeling, he took in the cobweb-covered windows on either side.

“Is this it?”

Sally laughed. “It’s cunningly hidden for a reason.” She pressed the card on her lanyard to a reader hidden in the ivy and the door clicked open. “Come on. Don’t be nervous.”

“Should I be?”

“Not at all, unless you’re up to no good.” She began to walk briskly down a long, dimly lit flight of stairs. It seemed to go on and on, deep into the bowels of the earth. Their footsteps echoed around the steep walls. When they reached the last stair, a brighter light flicked on, illuminating a long, bare corridor. They passed doors with signs on them: Operations Room 1, Radar Detection, and most worryingly, Nuclear Launch Room.

“All these are now empty and unused,” Sally said, as if reading his mind. “They’ve been empty a long time. See?” She held her security pass to a keypad and opened the door with the Nuclear Launch Room sign. It was a dark room, smelling old and stale, and full of ancient computers and monitors.

“Where are the offices and labs? Where’s Professor Lomax?”

“On U4. That’s where the real work is done.” She looked at his anxious face. “Tom, it’s fine. You’ll be okay.”

“Yeah, I know that. It’s just… weird.”

“It is, but you’ll get used to it. And don’t worry about the guards.

You get used to them as well. I was scared of the guns at first, but not anymore.”

They came to a lift flanked by two blank-faced guards carrying automatic rifles. They did not acknowledge Tom or Sally as she pressed the down button.

“Are these guys really needed?”

“Philip Worley is very serious about security. That’s what he’s paid for. And Professor Lomax is a natural target from animal rights activists because of the experiments he’s conducted in the past.”

Tom could not blame them. He hated the thought of animals being hurt in the name of science, but he knew better than to say so. Even so, he hadn’t signed up to see rabbits with wires attached to their brains.

“There are no animals here now,” Sally said, almost as if she could read his mind again. “We’re using human subjects to test out the latest MRSA vaccine. That’s all I’m allowed to tell you for now. One thing you need to know about the professor. He is extremely strict about cleanliness. He doesn’t shake hands with anyone, so don’t try.”

“Uh, thanks for the tip.”

The lift doors slid open to reveal a tall, slim man in a smart three-piece suit. His dark hair had not one strand out of place. Dark brown eyes appraised Tom from head to foot and back up again. A look of disdain passed over the man’s angular features.

“Who is this?”

“Tom Soames, your new lab porter,” Sally said.

Lomax did not look like Tom’s idea of a mad scientist. He reminded him more of his head teacher at secondary school, whom he’d had a serious crush on for over four years. He resisted the urge to put his hands behind his back.

“I’ll take him down. Thank you, Sally.”

“Yes, sir. Good luck, Tom.” She turned smartly away and was gone before Tom could thank her.

Tom stepped into the lift before the doors could shut again. His stomach lurched as the lift descended. There seemed to be a lot of floors. Professor Lomax had not said a word to him. His posture was very stiff, his back pressed against the side of the elevator as if he wanted as much distance as possible between them.

“Is your apartment to your liking?” Lomax barked, making Tom jump.

“It’s fantastic. I wasn’t expecting—”

The lift door slid open with a soft ping. Professor Lomax was through the door before it had fully opened, as if he could not wait to get away. Tom had to run to keep up with his long stride.

Lomax led him down another long corridor, only this one was covered in plush gray carpet, and windows into brightly lit laboratories on one side. People in white coats sat at counters, peering into microscopes or poring through heavy books. A meeting was going on in another, a cluster of white-clad, serious people. It felt alien and the whole place smelled like a hospital. On the other side were doors at regular intervals, each one with a name and number on a slot-in card.

As he glanced in one of the small windows, a face appeared, making him jump back in alarm. The man looked wild, his teeth bared.

“Help me,” he hissed. “Get me out of here! They’re killing me!”

“Professor Lomax!” Tom called to him.

The professor came back to look at the man, assessing the situation. He knocked on the window of the laboratory, causing the people within to look up. One came running over to the door.

“Number 17 is showing psychosis.”

“He’s been doing that for three hours. No sign of improvement.”

“Give him 10 mils of E1. Watch him closely for side effects. And send Nic and Troy to my office.”

“Yes, sir.”

The door closed. Professor Lomax continued down the corridor with Tom practically running behind him.

“Wait….” The sight had disturbed him. What the hell was this place?

Lomax guided him through the door, up a short flight of stairs into a large office, surrounded on two sides with glass. The laboratory they had just passed could be seen below. A further door led to another glass-panelled room, but all the blinds were drawn.

Sit down.” Lomax motioned towards a corner sofa. “Would you care for a cup of jasmine tea?”

“Um… sure.” Tom perched on the edge of the seat.

Lomax poured from a bone china teapot into two dainty cups with Japanese figures on them and handed one to Tom. The cup did not have a handle, and it looked too delicate to touch. The liquid inside was pale yellow and smelled of flowers. Out of politeness, Tom took a sip.

“Delicious,” he lied.

A knock announced the arrival of Troy and a small, plain woman wearing ugly black-rimmed spectacles.

“Tom, this is Dr. Nic Fassett and Dr. Troy Mjebe. I believe you’ve already made Troy’s acquaintance.”

“We sure have. Welcome, Tom.” Troy beamed and stuck out his hand. Tom shook it, feeling relieved at the sight of a friendly face.

“Thanks. Um… what was wrong with that man? Why is he here?”

Lomax set down his teacup. “We conduct clinical trials, Tom. At the moment, we are trialling a new drug which we hope will eradicate the withdrawal symptoms of heroin users. Human subjects are invaluable to our research. But you must understand, they are volunteers. They know the risks and are willing to take them.”

“You mean, they’re druggies, right? You pick them up off the street, promise them somewhere warm to sleep, and then do experiments on them?”

“I wouldn’t put it quite like that.”

“Is that why you didn’t want to tell me anything?” Tom felt panic rising in his gut.

“Let me make one thing perfectly clear.” Lomax’s voice was low and menacing. “The opportunity for you to make moral judgments on the work we do here has passed. Please feel free to leave if you have a problem with that.”

Tom knew he had no choice. If he walked out, he could kiss goodbye the fancy apartment and overinflated salary and say hello to a cardboard box in the underpass, if he was lucky.

Troy stepped in and put a gentle hand on Tom’s arm. “What Professor Lomax means is ‘Welcome to the Bunker.’”

~


Purchase

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Meet the Author

Jayne Lockwood

Jayne Lockwood has always wanted to learn to fly. Spending free time honing her Peter Pan skills on an aerial hoop, she also creates flights of fancy in her books, mingling sex and romance with angst and a healthy dash of dark humor.

Since she was a small child, Jayne has always sympathized with the villain. It all began with Alice Cooper, even though she was banned from listening to his music by her mother. From wanting to sail away with Captain Hook or redeeming the Child Catcher, the antihero has been an enduring fascination ever since.

After a two-year sojourn in New Jersey and two decades of child-rearing, Jayne is an outwardly respectable member of an English village community. She also is one of the founder members of WROTE podcast, which is dedicated to showcasing LGBTQA authors and their work, and now writes book reviews as well as diverse fiction.

She is also in a sub/dom relationship with a cat called Keith.

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