I don’t think I’ve ever put up a sample of Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures before, but I came across it on Amazon and thought why not. I like Essa: she’s a little bit bad ass compared to Rae. This story an SF romance and Escape Publishing have labelled it New Adult. It doesn’t matter about labels as the story is meant to be fun but also has a serious side. If you liked Rayessa and the Space Pirates then I’ll think you’ll like this. And didn’t Escape do an amazing cover.
My sister, Rae, bowed low to Kazusensei, the school’s karate instructor. “Do better,” he said. “Try harder. Stop wasting my time, Rae,” he growled out.
Rae stood there, face impassive, only the flicker of an eyelid giving any indication that he was getting to her.
My fingernails bit into my palms. I wanted storm over there and slap him across the face for talking to her like that. She was a Gayens. But it wasn’t my fight. I had to stay out of it. Rae and I had boundaries. I might have been the one to erect them but they weren’t so easy to take down. Rae nodded and Kazusensei stepped back, his hands on hips. “Again, hajime.”
Rae performed her kata with the sensei looking on. If only he’d lose the sneer and the attitude, I’d be calmer. Most of the time he showed no emotion to the private school girls he tutored, but my sister brought out the best in him. I couldn’t figure out whether it was her spirit that annoyed him or that there was another me ready to give him grief. Rae took what he gave out without complaint. Something I never did.
I shook my head as I watched on. I may not have an abundance of sisterly love, but I give credit where it is due. Rae rocked at karate and that annoyed the sensei. Perhaps money and talent weren’t combinations he was happy with.
Ending with a bow, Rae stood waiting. “No, pathetic.” The sensei’s hand chopped through the air. “Again.”
I ground my teeth as I watched. He would never have dared to speak to me like that. I would have had his arse kicked from here to the city limits and used all Mother’s connections to make sure he never worked again. But he was speaking to Rae and that was not my business. We did have an agreement, after all.
From scratch, Rae re-started her kata, her concentration almost tangible and she kicked, punched and blocked according to the well-rehearsed form. Her movements looked precise and snappy. My gaze flicked to Kaz. Yes, I got away with calling him that. Rae was good. He had no right being hard on her, getting on her case. He gave a slight nod and Rae went to the sidelines to pull on her gloves.
Rae let the world heap crap on her and asked for more. I checked my handheld for messages. A thumping sound drew my attention and there was Rae kicking the living daylights out of the kicking shield Kaz held. He gritted his teeth as he braced himself and I smiled. She was going for it. Thump, thump, whump. Go, Rae. Kick a little higher. Wipe that smug expression of his face.
My breath caught as I waited for that wrong move, only to let it out again when Rae moved on to punches. She’d missed her chance. I would not have missed that opportunity. I pictured, Kaz with a fat lip and blood in his teeth and nodded. Yeah! We had a history, he and I. He’d never put his hand there again.
At the end of her lesson, Rae staggered to the bench, wiping sweat from the back of her neck and tossing the towel onto her carry all. Kaz walked out of the gym, slamming the door behind him.
Rae stripped her gi pants off and adjusted the gravity straps on her legs. She had serious bone weakness from years in space and no therapy. Muscle and calcium loss. It was lucky that she’d had some therapy as a child and had lasted her a number of years in captivity. Mother said it could have been worse. Rae connected the electrode to the metal strip that was attached to her tibia. It forced the bone to strengthen. I shuddered. It was so ugly. How could she bear it?
On Earth with its full strength gravity load, Rae needed assistance to walk. She hated it. That’s why she took this class, to beat it. She’d come a long way too. Her academic grades were average but improving. I was loath to tutor her. Mother had her swatting within a week of being back in the bosom of her family, arranged an array of special tutors. Alwin Anton helped her too. Boy genius was pretty easy on the eye, even if he was a smart arse.
Coming up beside her, I asked. “Why do you let him treat you like that? It’s demeaning to the Gayens’ name.” Rae glanced at me and sniffed.
“It’s not personal. I want him to push me. I’m so behind on everything else. At least I can beat this physical disability.”
My nail polish glimmered and I examined it for chips, spreading my hands to catch a shaft of light. “So you received treatment. You’ll beat it eventually.”
Rae drew on a wrap, slipped on some flip flops and picked up her carryall and stalked away.
“And I still need to work on my fitness. My body is the only thing I can control.” We’d had this discussion before. I liked needling her, liked seeing her crack.
“Mother is happy with your grades.”
Rae grunted as she pushed through to the cleaning block. I followed, sensing victory.
Mini cubicles contained nozzles attached to the walls that flash cleaned skin. A minute later Rae was punching her legs into a ‘onsey’. They were so past tense, but she loved them and called them ship suits. I shook my head.
“My grades are mediocre. Nowhere near as good as yours. I can do better.”
With a flip of my hand, I quipped. “Maybe.”
Technically, we should have near the same grades, as we were genetically identical. It went back to nature versus nurture argument. I thought the case was closed. I’d been nurtured. She’d been neglected.
A light glinted in her eye. “What do you want anyway?”
“Ohh grouchy. Missing the boyfriend are we?”
Rae rolled up her eyes and let out a grunt of disgust as she snatched up her carry all and pushed past. After stumbling back, I kicked out my hip so I had somewhere to place my hand for my pose.
“We were going out, remember? I was going to show you how to kick the trust account dependency.”
Rae paused before the door, her head tilting to the side. “Now I remember. I didn’t think you’d come all this way just for fun. I’ll meet you out front in ten. I’ve got to stow my gear.”
“And check if Alwin Anton has sent you a transmission.” I smiled smugly.
Rae shook her head. “Whatever.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
“Why are we breaking into this building?” Rae hissed in my ear. She’d been jittery since she’d pieced together that her lesson did not involve law abiding activity.
“Shut up, there are sound sensors.” I slid the conductor strip into the circuit, allowing monitoring to think it was receiving feed. The steady blue pulse let me know it worked. My hand held synced with the security system and I calibrated my patented break in app. My eyebrow lifted. The building had counter measures so I unleashed a designer micro virus, which flooded the system with echoes and ghosts so it didn’t know where to focus. Sufficiently diverted, my app completed its sequence, overrode the security system and the door slid open.
Rae gasped behind me. “We’ll get busted.”
“No we won’t. I’m good.”
Rae tugged my hair and I turned to glare at her. “What?”
“Essa, you’re a criminal.” Her face was flat against mine. I inhaled her breath and shoved her back gently.
“I’m not a criminal. I’m a consultant.” Lifting my hand held, I concentrated on the information scrolling along the screen, keeping Rae in my line of sight.
Rae’s hand squeezed into fists. “If you get me into trouble I’m so going to thump you.”
I rolled my eyes. “I can’t guarantee you won’t get into trouble. Grow up.”
Rae stood up. “Sorry, I’m out a here. See you back at the dorm.”
I sighed. What a waste of time educating her. Concentrating on my job I grinned as the door slid open.
Rae was waiting for me when I got back.
“How do you know how to thwart security?” Rae launched at me as soon as I came in.
I put my stuff away. “I’m smart,” I said, feeling smug.
Rae plonked down on her bed and pressed the release on her boots. She looked up from rubbing her feet. “I think I understand that bit. I was thinking of why.”
“I get paid.”
“You never!” Rae’s dark eyes goggled.
“Not for a syndicate or any criminal element. By a security firm. They design and install security systems, and they pay me to crack them so they can refine their product.”
Rae sat there half-dressed. “And what’s that, like pocket money?”
“No. Not pocket money. Big money. I don’t need Mother’s handouts, but I take them and spend them so she doesn’t get suspicious. You could do the same.”
“The same what?”
“Earn your own money.”
Rae’s sleep wrap engaged and she snuggled into her bed. “I don’t need much money. I have stacks in my account.”
“Yes, Opi has been putting money in my account since I went missing. The same amount she said she spent on you or gave you as an allowance.”
I whistled, impressed.
I went to the san to wash off the dust and get ready for bed.
Rae snored softly while I filed my report on the security system, including recommendations to improve it. I checked my bank account, the bank account that mother didn’t know about, and grinned as the zeros grew. I like my life.
A message came in from Mother. I pursed my lips when I looked at it. The message was the same as her last and that was plain odd. I put in a call and waited as the relays engaged, mother was off planet. After ten minutes, I received a no response message. Something about it bugged me. I sent a message to Alwin Anton, who was with her. He didn’t respond either, but then he often ignored my calls—something about not upsetting his girlfriend. I wrinkled my nose as I took in my sister sprawled on the bed and then shook my head in wonder.
I reread the message from my mother and tried to put it down to a glitch in her system that sent the message twice. I’d have to check with Rae in the morning to see if she had heard anything or had any new messages. Because I worried, I slept badly, dreaming all sorts of scary things, like kidnapping and ransom demands. That was always a spectre for the family. Being rich and powerful made you a target. Except for Rae, we’d been lucky so far. And Rae’s disappearance had been an inside job.
Rae was dressed when I woke, groggy from lack of sleep. After a yawn and blinking away sleep I noticed her. “You look nice. Date?” Rae had make up on. Mine most likely. Her hair was shiny and straight, reaching past her shoulders and she’d chosen a cream ‘onesy’ with a leather tunic, which ended just under her butt and accentuated her waist. I shook my head. I might have to rethink my views on the ‘onesy’ as Rae looked grown up and attractive. We were seventeen now, nearly adults. I reminded myself that we were identical so if Rae looked that good then so would I.
“Yes, Al is due back today and we’re meeting up at the Centra Hotel.” She posed sideways in the mirror, checking if her hair was straight. To check her lip gloss, she leaned in close with a pout.
“Gris is meeting me downstairs to fly me over.”
I don’t know what she saw in Gris. Big men made me uncomfortable. But they shared some unshakable bond and he volunteered to be her security. “Is mother back too?”
Rae opened her pouch and dropped in her hand held, credit card, ID, more lip gloss and sealed it. It flattened for easy insertion into her ‘onesy’s hidden pocket, high on her chest. “I’m not sure. Opi was meant to be, but I haven’t spoken to Al for three of four days as he is in transit and that plays havoc with comms. He mentioned Opi had another meeting planned. Something unscheduled.”
I leaned back on my bed and stared at the ceiling. I could see the translucent images I’d stuck up there, in spite of the school rules. You could only see them from this position. “I see. You know she’s rooting out the pirates in the company? Dad left a network of corruption behind him. Mother is determined to get rid of them.”
Rae shuddered visibly. Traumatised by his attempt to murder her, she hadn’t quite come to terms with it. Frankly, I’d always distrusted him. Our connection was never real. There was always something insincere about him. It was weird to feel that way, because he’s my father too. In the end, I was right. Rotten to the core! He’d said that about me on numerous occasions so I took great satisfaction knowing it was proved about him.
Rae smoothed the fabric of her ‘onesy’, pressing the auto clean when she saw a piece of lint.
She made eye contact. “Al said as much. I don’t understand what he does, but he can follow their transaction trail in cyber space or something like that.”
Rae slid on her boots and activated the seal and colour change. Her boots now matched her ‘onesy’ and clung to her calves like second skin. Slick. I was impressed that Rae had finally developed a sense of style, even without my advice and despite my teasing.
There was no point into entering into the Alwin Anton adoration society so I didn’t respond to Rae’s blatant invitation to talk about her boyfriend and kept to the topic. “Did he tell you their coordinates in that last communication?”
Rae activated the bed refresh sequence and picked up her Edupad and slid it into her study nook. Her bed was sanitised and made up with Rae’s favourite bed cover, the one with some old actress on it—Del Divlan or something. Did Rae actually realise that the actress was as old as their parents and not in mode? I let the thought go. Rae didn’t want to hear it. The actress was like her sookie blanket or something and Rae wasn’t letting go anytime soon.
“Not directly, but they were on the message receipt. Do you want me to look it up now?” She withdrew the Edupad, eyebrow quirked.
“No, no. Have fun.
As well as ebook, all my Escape Publishing titles are available in large print format for libraries
Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures is available from Escape Publishing, who have links to most eretailers here
Mills and Boon also have it listed. Here
Also, I have a separate blog for Rayessa and the Space Pirates with some fun stuff on there here
Advice from Rayessa today is: don’t eat too many beans and then get into an airlock with a friend!