Today I’m sitting down with author Lyndi Alexander and the hero and heroine of her book A Small Degree of Hope. Take it away, Lyndi!
Thanks. So tell me about yourselves, you two. Kylie Sanderson, I understand that you met Griff on the job.
Kylie: That’s true. I was investigating a string of murders, unexplained mutations of women. Someone was trying to change them into reptiles, right down to their cellular structure. I work with a police unit called SIRT, somewhat like your Earth television series The X-Files. We only get the weird stuff no one else can figure out. Griff stalked me—
Griff: I did not! I had to contact you to help your investigation. After all, my alien race conducted the experiments that killed your women. I had to do something to stop it.
Kylie: You followed me to a cop bar. Then you tracked me home.
Griff: What can I say? You’re hard to approach. And you’re stubborn. You wouldn’t listen when I tried to explain it all to you. Then you thought I was the one killing them.
Which was not the case, right, Griff?
Griff: Of course not. As one who is capable of producing the virus that changes other beings into reptiles, I was very much aware of the ethical consequences. Our planet’s sun may have rendered our females sterile, but that does not give us the right to take other planets’ females to use as our own.
Good. Kylie, what did you think of Griff when you first met him?
Kylie: I thought he was an idiot. Literally. As in not mentally functional. (when Griff looks surprised) Well, you didn’t speak my language well. Took everything literally. You practically confessed to the murders without meaning to.
Same question for you, Griff.
Griff: When I watched her in that gathering place of her comrades, she seemed to glow with strength and sense of purpose. She has such narrow shoulders to carry such great responsibility. I could see she was admired by her peers. Now I know why.
Kylie, you sacrificed a lot to get to the bottom of what was going on. Did you feel like it was worth it?
Kylie: It was a hard road. Some of the events were totally unanticipated, and really threw me off the rails. I mean, I’m doing my best to find the abducted women, and one thing leads to another, and then I’m persona non grata at SIRT, and my family? Please. My father never accepts anything less than perfection. I was damaged goods, as far as he was concerned. My mother is his little yes-woman, so I was off her radar, too. (She looks at Griff) He’s the only one who stood by me through everything, sometimes even when he thought I was wrong.
Griff: I could never do less, peke. Your spirit has been big enough for both of us.
That’s a word I don’t know, what you called her.
Griff: “Peke” means “dear one” in my language.
Well, I can certainly see that you’re happy together now, no matter what you have been through. Thanks for visiting with Susana and her readers today.
Even the smallest degree of hope can spark love.
Against her wealthy father’s demands, and the usual blockades of a male dominated profession, Kylie Sanderson proves worthy of her position as lead investigator of planet Andan’s Scientific and Investigative Research Taskforce. Someone is killing Andan’s women in an attempt to mutate them into reptiles. Kylie makes it her mission to discover who’s behind the murders and prevent more grotesque deaths.
Shapeshifting lizard Griff comes to Andan to stop his brethren from mutating other planets’ women into mindless breeding stock. Overcoming Kylie’s suspicious and defensive nature proves difficult, but he must in order to help the SIRT team thwart his planet’s scientists.
When Kylie is abducted and becomes the first human to survive the transformation, it’s up to Griff to rescue her so SIRT can restore her human form. On the run and desperate to unravel the mysteries of Kylie’s past to solve the crimes of their present, can she and Griff forge a future for themselves?
This scene takes place after Kylie is rescued, when her SIRT team boss Jaco Rand stops by the hospital to debrief her.
Kylie woke again, sluggish and sleepy. The sun shone brightly in the window. It could have been the next morning, but her inner time sense told her it was longer. Her hand lay on the blanket. The skin’s green tone had faded, only a few individual scale-shaped sections remaining. She lifted her arm, examining it from all sides. It was her arm again. The nightmare was over.
“Sanderson. So nice of you to rejoin the world.”
Jaco’s wry sarcasm. Not how she preferred to start her day. But he was a friend, at least.
She pushed herself upright, the movement setting her head reeling. A hand went automatically to smooth her hair, and she pulled it back, shocked to find she was bald as a newborn baby. She yanked her blanket up to cover her body.
“Jaco, I’ll be back to work just as soon as I–”
“Really. No rush,” he said. He left his post by the window and came to the end of her bed, his face impassive.
Why was he annoyed? Did he hold a grudge about her taking off with Griff in the warehouse? “Okay. Thanks,” she said. He didn’t smile. Her answer didn’t seem to satisfy him. “I really will be back when the doctor lets me out.”
He grunted then shifted his weight to the other leg. “We’re managing fine, Sanderson. You aren’t irreplaceable.”
The cold edge to his voice stung her. She’d expected at least some sort of camaraderie, comfort, even. Some measure of understanding of what she’d been through. Maybe she wouldn’t get a hero’s commendation, despite being instrumental in saving the last woman captured by the aliens. She could live with that. It sucked big time, though. If Jaco’s ego took the credit, maybe she could live with that, too. But something more was wrong here she didn’t understand.
“What are you saying, Jaco? I shouldn’t come back?”
He picked up a newspaper from the chair then tossed it at her. It looked like a tabloid, one of the publications featuring sensational stories about alien invasions and political scandals. She frowned. “What’s this for?”
He retreated to the end of the bed. “Check out the front page, baby.”
Something in his voice set her fingers trembling as she reached for it. Turning it over to the front page, she was hit with a wave of revulsion. Across the center of the page, in black, block letters, it read: Lizard Love! SIRT Cop Subverted! The subhead read: Eyewitness tells horrifying story!
Her eyes scanned the article, set in larger print than the others on the page. The tabloid had scored an interview with the nurse Evaina. The jump on the inside page showed several photos of a large green reptile with Griff, outside the warehouse. She guessed what–who–that reptile might be immediately. She couldn’t believe they were really her. Not yet.
The story recounted the events in greatly exaggerated detail, at least she prayed they were exaggerated, concluding with a blow-by-blow description of what Griff had described as “mating.”
Stunned, she tore her eyes from the page and looked up at Jaco’s cold face.
“Really, Sanderson? What are you calling that? Undercover work?”
He couldn’t have hurt her more if he’d punched her with a closed fist.
Lyndi Alexander is a fan of science fiction, and a fan of love, so this story is a natural marriage of the two. She believes that no one should settle for the ordinary or the expected when there are so many other choices out there.
Each of her books features adventure, compelling stories and fantastic settings from outer space to the deep forests of the Montana mountains to the unseen horrors that lurk in small-town America.
She dreamed for many years of being a spaceship captain—or maybe a famous chef—but chose instead fictional excursions into fascinating places with companions from her imagination.
She has been a published writer for over thirty years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at a newspaper in Homestead, Florida. This is her fourteenth published novel.
Lyndi is married to an absent-minded computer geek. Together, they have a dozen computers, seven children and a full house in northwestern Pennsylvania.