Do you enjoy reading or writing in the romance genre of New Adult? Creating angst in the heroine/hero relationship is paramount. New adults, basically college aged protags, are figuring out why they’re attracted to a certain person. Are they getting enough emotion back from that person? In Betrayal at Crater’s Edge Yardley feels neglected. Marchand wants to protect her. Here’s an excerpt:
Six months before, Ice Age Earth
The evening before take-off concealed secrets, one good and another bad.
A blaring horn pierced the frigid night, warning the guards to open the chain-link gate. The hydraulic brakes of flatbed trucks hissed as they snaked through the entrance with shuttles destined for the habitable planet, Venus.
Marchand LaFond slipped off a supply truck carrying egg incubators and small greenhouse units. The chaos was ideal with twenty-some shuttles being readied for take-off. He made his way into a warehouse where he’d meet Yardley Van Dyke. Under-age for the journey, they were about to enter the space race in place of their parents. Without family responsibilities, the young and the restless couldn’t resist the opportunity.
Marchand shrank into the shadows. He couldn’t find her and began to search the ramshackle warehouse. The smell of rotten wood clung to the air. He heard a scream. Hers? Beneath him, the floor groaned. Within seconds he found a stairway. The moan came louder, and racing toward it, he spotted Yardley, slumped against a large drum container.
He whispered, “You fell through the rotten floor!”
“That’s right, smarty.” Limping, she grabbed his hand as he pulled her up. “Do you hear that?” She jerked her head to listen. Footfalls pounded loud and louder.
His entire body stilled. A forklift loomed toward them with headlights sweeping. Workers marched behind. Moving ahead of the forklift traipsed a couple of guys with red hair clipped knife-straight.
“Your cousins!” Yardley hissed. “What’s wrong with them?”
Balto and Renny reminded him of leprechauns on steroids. He’d never seen them with such dimwitted expressions.
Marchand pulled her with him against the wall. From deep in the shadows he surveyed the loading of drums onto the forklift. Twice he checked his weapon, a slingshot. As he peered at the mindless crew, he relaxed and didn’t expect to use it.
“Your two cousins and there’s Joey. Guess what? They’re on Savage’s team.”
Another emotion— anger— prickled his skin. His entire body went on alert. They’d never willingly be on his team.
“Brain implants,” she said. “That’s how Vito Savage gets his workers,” she said. “Sharlene told me.”
“She’s in a heap of trouble.” The word was out. “Sharlene spies on her grandmother.” Marchand had heard other rumblings. Sharlene’s grandmother, the CEO of BioMinds, wanted to send her snoopy granddaughter to Venus.
The scent of gasoline from the forklift burned his nose. “They’re heading out.”
“Lucky for us.” Yardley was antsy, nervous.
He put his arm around her and helped her hobble at a sloth’s pace.
Outside in the icy air, Vito Savage was ordering his crew to load the drums onto an elevator. Marchand counted ten containers going up to the corporate shuttle.
“Ew, Vito Savage,” Yardley said.
“That dude smells of rat,” Marchand said. “I’d like to know what’s inside those drums.” With his arm around her, they made their way toward their shuttle.
“The crew wasn’t shooting the breeze.” She kept her voice low. “The way they lined up those drums, they have a fetish for neatness.”
He said, “It’s not in their nature. My cousins are pigs.”
“They’re still in a trance.”
“Damn,” he said. “You’ve got some insight on you, don’t you girl.”
“Impressive, I know. Looks like the last drum is loaded.”
Marchand’s emotions ran wild. The company shuttle transported weaponry, and whatever the drums contained was part of it. He had his man. “Vito Savage. He’ll be an evil force on Venus.”
Looking Cool, Unruffled
Inside her greenhouse on Venus, Yardley Van Dyke kept checking out the glass. Marchand’s rover was still there. Soon he’d leave on a spying expedition. Without her! His three-wheeled vehicle powered by wind proved reliable. His reliability as her boyfriend sucked.
The audacity of Marchand LaFond, not inviting her along! That hurt. Together, they’d pieced together evidence. Savage planned to annihilate anyone in his way, and Marchand planned to locate the containers and hide them. Both he and she wanted to protect the existing population, those who landed two hundred years before.
Too dangerous? Bull crap! Rest assured, the space race was even more dangerous.
Her anguish over the drums of nerve agent matched his. Contamination of water and soil would end every gardening goal she had, not to mention lives on Venus. Vito Savage had spun the nuclear war on Mars. His greed was about to do the same on Venus.
Back on Ice Age Earth where Marchand had sailed a blade-runner over the frozen tundra, she’d tagged along on his Robin-hooding jobs. Granted, she was a terrible crew. Barely knew wind direction. Close your eyes, and you’ll feel it? Never happened, but she had something to offer— food.
The one thing an artsy person like her could do was garden. Food came in handy no matter where you lived. Lately whenever she crossed paths with him, it went down like this. She’d give him a casserole. He’d thank her, and then she’d ask him, “What’s on your mind?” The containers of nerve agent were on his mind. Period, end. No more conversation.
Her friend, Sharlene, corrected her many times. Get a grip. Save a little face.
Yardley never learned how to keep it together. A second passed, and she stood up, gazed closer. He’d added wider tires. Why get so crazy-mad when feeling left out? She inched back. Would he send a text to tell her he’d gone? Keeping tabs on him derailed her, made her sweat like the creepy person she was.
She heard wind whistle with a pinging sound caused by loose halyard fittings banging the mast. The rover was, after all, a modified sailboat. He was setting to raise the sails. Her stomach roiled. She really should shove, push, and scratch him while he was within reach. Either that or step out and wish him good luck.
Marchand was a good guy, but his silent side intimidated her. She wasn’t about to let him know cold fear shot through her limbs. She was unable to say, “Pay a little attention to me.” He functioned in a world of his own.
The dusk season arrived yesterday on Venus, the world which spun once a year on her axis. With half of the year daylight, and now in the second half, nighttime, it took a bit of genius to simulate Earth conditions with a twenty-four hour day.
As newbies on the planet with the human need to create night during constant daylight, they’d blocked light within habitats. Now it was dusk, and they simulated daylight by powering up the wind turbines. Outside the greenhouse, grow lights lit the area she inspected. Around him! There he was under the clock. At ten o’clock in the morning, covered in hard, sculpted muscle, he wore confidence like the guy about to save the world.
Not wanting to look pathetic, she moved below window level and used two shaking fingers to prune dead leaves from melon vines. If he doled out a goodbye, she wanted to look not only pretty but productive. Wasn’t focusing on herself the best revenge? As she placed ripe melons into a bin, she weakened and glanced out. Still there.
His interest in her swung like a pendulum. Up. Now down. He’d moved from their dormitory-habitat, but didn’t say he’d lost love. He just didn’t say.
Her friend, Sharlene, told her how the wind was blowing. As if Yardley didn’t know they’d blown apart! As if she didn’t know he’d moved into the beached shuttle.
Be strong! No more checking, ogling. Be the girl who fiddles with plants. Enjoy your knack. Look anywhere but out the window. At her potting table she pushed seeds into a growth medium. Be grateful, proud. Not everyone has green thumb. Her skill came easily, and she shared her bumper crops. Why wasn’t this working?
The screen door squeaked. Do I look? She took a deep breath and expelled it slowly, wishing her heart wasn’t thumping like she’d run to the canal and back.
The door slammed. “Yardley.” Marchand smiled when he found her inside.
As she turned to face him, she choked with a sudden flood of feeling, all the building emotions over their changed dynamics. She blinked a few times, looking at him, so handsome she wanted to take her weed whacker to him, but the voice in her head told her to be cool. “I saw your duffel bag and carbon monoxide detector beside your rover.” She made weak eye contact.
“Time to go.” Over the course of a long silence, he flashed one of his characteristic expressions— reserved, guarded. “I can’t miss my window.”
“I have a stake in this.” Together they’d witnessed the most powerful company on Ice Age Earth load nerve agent onto their shuttle.
“Spying is risky.”
Because of her, he was privy to Botany General’s plan for the populated crater next to theirs.
He sighed. “I owe you.”
“So bring me along.” Underneath her vengeful hurt, she tried to sound sweet. Wasn’t revenge the dish best served cold? She wanted to serve it scalding hot from the oven of outrage. “Damn!” She slammed her fist on her potting table. “I’m the reason you know.”
He rolled his green eyes. “You’re a garden variety vigilante.” The warm, deep sound of his voice sent traitorous sensations of want right through her.
“Just go.” She hated her squeaky voice.
“You’re done?” When on-mission, like now, he was short on time and entirely clueless.
“I think I’ve covered everything.” Too bad she hadn’t maintained an air of sexy mystery about herself. “Take care.”
“Don’t be mad.” He paused. “Vito Savage is a dirty genocidal maniac. No one’s safe over there. Give him time. We won’t be either.”
Her breath caught in her throat. She’d pictured their niche, the place she’d come to love, contaminated. “I agree.”
He leaned down and kissed her forehead. “I’m on a treadmill. Need to find those drums.” He started walking away, but stopped and looked back when she yelled, “Wait for me.”