Magic, New Mexico: Seducing Sela (Kindle Worlds Novella) (Zolon Warriors Book 2), p.1
Table of Contents
Text copyright ©2017 by the Author.
This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by S.E. Smith. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Magic, New Mexico remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of S.E. Smith, or their affiliates or licensors.
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by Tianna Xander
Special thanks to S.E. Smith for welcoming my Zolonian family into her Magic, New Mexico world. Also, a huge thank you to Narelle Todd for getting our books out there at each new release.
Thank you to Melody Simmons, who really knows how to make a cover POP, and to Janet, editor extraordinaire, who never ceases to amaze me with how fast she can turn a book around. As always, thanks to my family, whose support I appreciate more than they know.
Last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to my readers. Without your reviews, emails, and chatting me up on Facebook, I would never know what you want next. Keep those messages coming.
“Breakfast is ready!” Sela called to her grandfather as she set the food on the table. As the aroma of fried bacon filled the kitchen, she smiled, knowing her grandfather would love the scent.
Thankfully, the last propane tank had enough fuel to fix one more meal before it sputtered out. Although, they’d have to suck it up and eat their eggs soft boiled. After breakfast, she’d load the tanks in the back of the truck and take them to town.
She set a cup of black coffee in front of her grandfather’s plate and then set another doctored with cream and sugar next to hers. She loved coffee. She loved the smell and the taste, as long as she could add cream and sugar. In her opinion, drinking it black was just plain nasty.
“Are you coming to eat, or should I feed it to the pigs?” She glanced up at the sound of his slippers shuffling against the floor. His wrinkled face broke into a grin when he spotted the bacon on the table.
“I knew I smelled bacon.” He inhaled deeply, a big smile splitting his creased face. “You’re spoiling me, girlie.” Pulling out his chair, he sat and surveyed the feast before him. “Doc Schrader is going to have a fit when I tell him you fixed me bacon, eggs, and pancakes again. Whoooee.” Smacking his lips, he rubbed his hands together.
“Don’t get too excited.” Sela shook her head. “I was boiling the eggs when I noticed the gas tanks were almost empty. I figured you’d rather me squander what was left on the bacon before it went sour.
“You figured right.” He picked up a chewy slice and popped it in his mouth. “Mmm... Nothing like the taste of good, hickory-smoked bacon.” He smacked his lips again before digging into the rest of his breakfast. “You sure are a mighty fine cook.” He took a sip of his coffee and closed his eyes. “And you don’t make me drink that decaffeinated stuff, neither.”
“Half and half, Gramps. It’s half and half.” She chuckled at his scowl. “I told you we’d compromise. We both get half and half, and you watch your sugar and salt intake.”
“Can’t be watching no sugar intake while I’m eating pancakes.” He grinned. “But you won’t hear me complain. No siree.”
Sela smiled at the blatant lie. She’d heard him complain plenty of times. However, she’d never once heard him complain about bacon and eggs for breakfast, especially if it came with a side of pancakes.
“Yes, you can. I’ve mixed the pancake syrup with that sugar-free stuff you hate so much. Half and half. I figured it’s only fair, if you have to eat it, so do I.”
“I know I told you that stuff gives me the backdoor trots.” He stared suspiciously at the syrup through narrowed eyes.
“Then, it’s a good thing you’re not staying in the cabin and don’t have to run out the back door to get to the toilet anymore.” She raised a brow. “And don’t go trying to sneak the good stuff, either. There is no good stuff. It’s all mixed together, so watch how much of it you eat if you don’t want it affecting your bowels.”
“You’ve got a lot of sass for a little girl, missy.”
“And you’ve got a lot of nerve complaining about sugar-free syrup for a man whose doctor told him to lay off the sugar and salt.” She eyed his plate. “You know, I could just scrape that in the trough and give you that high fiber cereal you love so much.”
“You wouldn’t dare!” He wrapped his arm around his plate as though to protect it.
“I would, and you know it.” Sela buttered her pancakes before adding a small amount of the syrup mixture to the top of her small stack. She hated having to use the mixture almost as much as her grandfather did.
The last thing she needed was a case of what her grandfather loved calling the backdoor trots when she needed to drive into town and get their tanks filled. If everything went the way it did the last time, she’d be lucky to get the propane. She couldn’t risk having to use someone’s bathroom. They’d likely all be out of order for her.
If she didn’t know better, she would have thought it had something to do with the color of her skin. However, the people of Whitson had treated her father the same way, and he’d been Caucasian.
Like Gramps always said, most times the color of your skin has nothing to do with it, sweetheart. Most people are good, kind, honest folks. And, well, to be blunt, assholes are assholes.
So far, she reckoned he’d been spot on with that assessment. Though most people in town were civil, they did give her a hard time sometimes, especially when she needed something farm related, like propane or equipment repair.
Sela glanced out the window at the tired pickup her father had left her with the house and the bank account. He’d left her everything he owned. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to eke out a living if she worked hard. Like her father and his father before him, she had never been afraid of a little hard work.
Her only concern was the possibility of having to drive all the way to Hot Springs. The people in Whitson, Arkansas supported their benefactor, Cal Johnson.
Cal wanted them off the property her father had left her, and like him, Sela was determined to stay.
“Do you think you’ll be okay if I go to town? There’s macaroni salad and bologna in the fridge for lunch.”
“I’ll be fine.” Gramps waved his hand. “I’m worried about you driving around that town with all those yahoos trying to get into your pants.”
“No one’s trying to get into my pants, Grandpa.” She rested her hands on her hips and shook her head.
“They all want to get into your pants. They’re men. Most men don’t have a lick of honor. Especially those who associate with that ass, Johnson.”
“I hope you’re wrong, Gramps.” Sela finished her breakfast, rinsed her dishes in the sink, and set them in the dishwash
“You sound more like my mother than my granddaughter.” He smiled and held out his arms. “Now give an old man a hug before you go.”
Never one to turn down a hug, Sela hurried over and threw her arms around his neck. “I love you, Gramps.” She kissed him on the cheek and straightened. “I’ll be back before you know it.”
God, she hated leaving him alone. It was too easy to lose someone. Her grandfather was the only family she had left, and she knew how precious and fragile human life could be. Almost everyone she had ever loved had died and left her alone, except for one eccentric old man who was just as sad and lonely as she had become.
They needed propane, and it certainly wasn’t just going to show up on the doorstep. Cal Johnson brought the end of the farm’s propane delivery when she’d still been a teenager, and her grandfather had been hale and hearty. These days, the fuel was difficult to get, and Gramps was pale and nearly as weak as she had been when her father had passed when she was seven.
Sela quickly checked the straps holding the tanks in place in the bed then climbed into the huge, crew cab, 4x4 long box pickup, and headed into town. She’d get her tanks refilled one way or another. She had no choice.
Ceno mashed on the accelerator, weaving in and out of the thick traffic like the racecar drivers on the sports channel he watched the night before. He grinned as he maneuvered the vehicle in and out of the lanes, passing everything on the road from tractor trailers to motorcycles.
The expression on the face of the youth riding the crotch rocket motorcycle had made him laugh. The kid hadn’t expected a car to pass him. Especially a car like the one he drove. There was no way for the young man to have known he and his brother Reno had outfitted the vehicle with an ion propulsion unit.
Their power sources weren’t available to the general public. Hell, they weren’t available to anyone outside of Magic, New Mexico, where he and his brothers had set up shop after their spacecraft crashed just outside the small town’s city limits.
Had the people of Magic not rushed to their rescue and pulled them out of the flaming crash, Ceno and three of his brothers would have perished. They owed the residents of Magic their very lives.
Zipping past another SUV, he noticed an exit, slowed down, and popped into the right lane. Taking the exit, he let up off the accelerator and brought the car down to a crawl. Braking at the stop sign, he turned into the nearest service station. He needed gas to run the air conditioner, and he was thirsty. An ice-cold bottle of water and a hot dog sounded good.
“I don’t care what Johnson told you. I need my tanks filled. I have them in the back of my truck. Just fill the damned things.”
Ceno glanced up from the cooler, where he’d been about to grab a bottle of water, to see a gorgeous woman standing at the counter. A bright yellow shirt contrasted beautifully with the dark color of her smooth, mocha skin. Thick black hair fell down her back in soft waves, falling just shy of hips wide enough to make his mouth water. She was tall, too—at least five foot ten by his new country’s measurements.
She turned a bit, and Ceno managed a good look at her profile. Full breasts jutted from her chest, and her slightly rounded belly melded into wide hips he could imagine holding onto while he drove into her soft flesh. Her bottom lip stuck out in an annoyed pout as she glared at the man behind the counter.
“Uh, uh. Sela. You know I can’t do that. Cal Johnson would have my ass if he found out I was helping you and your grandpa.” The clerk behind the counter leaned down and gave her a leer. “I might think about it if you were to give me a ride in the back of your truck if you know what I mean.” He waggled his brows.
Ceno didn’t know what he’d expected, but he surely hadn’t expected the woman to scream with frustration and punch the man in the mouth.
“Seeing as your mama can’t see clear to washing that mouth out with soap, maybe I should put it out of commission.” She growled at the guy, spun on her heels and ran smack dab into Ceno.
“Excuse me, ma’am.” Ceno drawled in the southwestern accent he’d practiced before leaving Magic. “Can I be of some assistance?” Gods, he hoped so. She was beautiful and smelled like dessert and heaven all rolled into one.
“Not unless you can get my propane tanks filled,” she said as she stepped back and looked up at him. “I’m sorry for being snarky. It’s not your fault his boss is an ass.” She gestured to the guy behind the counter. “I hope I didn’t hurt you when I ran into you.”
Ceno met her tear-filled gaze and felt his heart melt. Something strange seemed to stretch within him, and he frowned. Had he just felt his beast stir? He stared at the beautiful woman and knew if anyone could awaken his other half, it would be the gorgeous woman standing before him.
“I might be able to get your tanks filled.” He glanced at the clerk who had just finished with another customer. “How much to fill her tanks?”
“I already told her, Cal Johnson will have my ass in a sling if I fill her tanks. He don’t want no one around here helping out this here woman.” The clerk, whose nametag identified the man as JC waved his arm with a scowl. “Now get up on outta here, the both of ya, before I call the cops.”
“You,” Ceno growled as he leaned forward and grasped JC by the front of his grease-stained t-shirt, “will fill her tanks, or I’ll tear you limb from limb. Now, how much will it cost?”
“W-what size are your tanks, Sela?” JC gave her a sideways glance.
“That’s Miss Williams to you, JC,” Sela answered, her chin high. “And I have three one hundred-pound tanks in the back of my truck.”
“Three?” JC’s eyes widened, and he whined. “Three will give you enough gas to last almost another year with that wood stove you have.”
“It sure will.” She smiled. “I don’t know why Johnson wants us off our land so badly, but you can tell the jerk that I’ll drive clear into Hot Springs for gas next time if I have to. He’s not stopping me and my grandpa from staying on our land.”
JC shook his head. “If you only knew, lady.”
“Knew what?” She narrowed her eyes and glared at the man. “What don’t we know?”
“Tell her,” Ceno twisted the front of the shirt, tightening the opening around JC’s throat. “Tell her what she doesn’t know about her land.”
“Well...” Sweat ran down JC’s face, and the acrid smell of ammonia reached Ceno’s nose, making him grimace. “The surveys say there’s the possibility of a rich gold deposit somewhere on their land, and Cal wants it.”
“Tell Cal, it’s too damned bad,” Ceno growled as he flicked a gaze toward Sela, who stood wide-eyed and speechless just to his right. “Tell your boss that Miss Williams and her grandfather have protection, and anyone who wants to try to drive them from their land will have to deal with me.”
Gently, he lowered the other man to the floor when he wanted nothing more than to tear him limb from limb for treating a female with such disrespect.
“You don’t know Johnson.” The other man trembled as Ceno held him in place. “He’ll kill you all before he’ll give up the possibility of a rich gold strike.
“He’s welcome to try.” Ceno bared his teeth. “In fact, I hope he does try. If he does, he’ll soon find out I won’t die easily.”
In fact, he and his brothers would be nearly impossible to exterminate by Earth methods. The four of them weren’t human. Any attempt on their lives would only piss them off and bring the wrath of their Earth-bound family down on anyone stupid enough to try it.
Being an alien had its advantages. For one thing, anyone attempting to murder them would assume they were human, and in doing so, would make a lethal mistake. Their organs weren’t the same as humans, and they had redundancies to keep them alive while major organs repaired thems
“What are you doing?” Sela hissed next to him. “Don’t challenge the man; he’s liable to take you up on the offer.”
“As I said, he’s welcome to try.” Every protective instinct he hadn’t realized he possessed had risen up. His other half struggled to free itself as the need to protect Sela blossomed within him.
“You don’t understand.” She stared up at him, her beautiful green-brown eyes shining with unshed tears. “I-I think he had my father and my mom’s parents killed. Had I not been staying with my other grandfather in Texas for the summer, he probably would have had me killed as well. I don’t know if I could stand someone else dying for the ranch.” She bit her lip. “Maybe it’s time I sell out and cut my losses.”
Ceno turned his attention back to JC. He bared his teeth in a silent snarl. “Go change your pants. You’ve urinated on yourself.”
JC didn’t need to be told twice. He scrambled away, putting as much distance between them as he could.
“You people are crazy. Do ya hear me? Crazy!” He ducked into the back room to call Cal Johnson and his hired thugs, no doubt.
“Come on,” Ceno said as he reached across the counter and set the propane to pump. That was one good thing about running Magic’s largest service station with his brothers. He knew how to fill propane tanks in his sleep.
They’d deal with paying that asshole JC after they filled her tanks.
“Pull your truck around to the propane station, and I’ll fill you up myself.”
“You know how to do that,” she asked as she backed out the door.
“Sure do. My brothers and I run a gas station together. Filling a propane tank is almost a daily occurrence in Magic when tourists are camping nearby.”
Magic’s population relied on alternate fuel sources. Solar, wind, wood, ion propulsion, or just plain magic. They tried to live as close to nature as they could, leaving as little of a carbon footprint as possible.
It was a great idea. It promoted better air quality in town. While other communities of similar size had a degree of pollution, Magic had almost none.