Category Archives: Science Fiction Romance

Guest Post by Laurie A. Green: And Then There Were Four

 Again this year I’m delighted to have a story in the best-selling Science Fiction Romance anthology Pets in Space 5.  Here my fellow PiSA 5 author Laurie Green shows us the charming pet in her story. (I want one!)

The StarDog

This is the fourth story I’ve written for an annual Pets in Space® release with each of the previous ones including a StarDog as a pet and/or working partner. Not one to give up on a theme, for Pets in Space® 5 I decided to write another StarDog adventure, but go back in time and center the action around one of the very first bio-engineered dog-cat-weasel-mongoose DNA blends named CaSandra—or Cassie, for short.

Being creatures created in a lab, the StarDog names are all drawn from their particular production series. The three StarDogs in previous stories were a K-series (Katrina from StarDog), L-series (Luna from Courting Disaster), and M-series (Maura from SpyDog), so their stories take place in later timelines. CaSandra is, of course, from the C-series and so one of the earliest StarDogs. Her story is set five calendars (years) before any of the others. She’s literally a protype and still in the testing phase.

Like the StarDogs and SpyDogs who will come after her, Cassie is extremely perceptive and intelligent. She was created to serve as an intelligence asset and is highly inquisitive and attentive. Very few details escape her attention!

In my story Juggernaut, Dekessa “Dek” Garr is the acting commander of a security team and she meets CaSandra and her handler, Telon, for the first time in this scene: (Edited for length.)


He reached down beside his chair and lifted an object onto the table by a handle set into the top. The rectangular box appeared to be made of punched polymer with wire mesh on the side facing her.

“Say hello to the commander, CaSandra,” Telon said.

Two little golden paws pressed against the mesh from the inside. The creature attached to them gave a high-pitched bark, followed by quiet chattering.

Startled, Dek backed off a step. The animal’s soft amber eyes studied her from behind the mesh with its shiny nose molded tight to the thin bars.

“What in Empora’s Hades is this?” she demanded.

“There isn’t a name for what she is,” Telon answered quietly. “She’s a bio-construct, a first-generation prototype with canine, feline, weasel, and mongoose DNA.”

Dek raised her gaze to the stranger. “Bio-constructed for what purpose?”

His eyes went dark and deep, like the ocean just before a storm. “I’m not at liberty to discuss that, Acting Commander.”

This guy was going to be nothing but trouble. Good thing she’d been trained to handle trouble in all its masculine forms.

He reached for the wire mesh screen—

“What are you—”

—and flipped it open.

Dek backed off another step and gripped the stunpulse secreted in a pocket of her field uniform. The golden creature exited its crate, eyeing her cautiously, and sniffed the air. Its pointed ears twitched before it bolted up Telon’s sleeve and perched on his shoulder, chattering quietly in his ear.

The man nodded and met Dek’s eyes. “Cassie says she’s on your side. And she’d like you to release the weapon you have hidden in your uniform.”

The little beastie squeaked again.

“Please,” he added.

Dek dropped her chin, squinting. “Is this creature telepathic?”

“Not exactly,” he replied.

The bio-construct leaned toward Telon, nuzzling the side of his face…and purred. Huh. Just like the kitten she’d had as a kid. The man reached up to stroke the animal’s head. Cassie craned her neck and closed her eyes, emitting a happy gruff-gruff.

Dek’s heart warmed a degree or two.

Gigadam thing’s adorable.

She displayed her empty hand. “Tell her if she behaves, she has nothing to fear from me.”

Telon grinned. “You just told her yourself, Acting Commander. She understands you perfectly.”


JUGGERNAUT

The Inherited Stars Series

By Laurie A. Green

A security commander must decide if she can trust a mysterious stranger and his bioengineered StarDog when the secret underground site she protects is threatened.

I hope you’ll join Cassie and company for their high-stakes adventure in Pets in Space® 5.

Author Laurie A. Green Website

illustration by Adrian

The Blessing of the Animals

Today is the Feast Day of St. Francis.  Even in this COVID year, a lot of mainstream churches held the Blessing of the Animals – possibly by drive through! And why not?  Pets have comforted so many people during shutdowns and quarantines.  Even those without pets have been made happy by seeing pictures of pets on Facebook.

Again this year I’m delighted to be in the Pets in Space 5 Science Fiction Romance anthology.  A dozen stories NYT and USA Today bestselling authors have concocted wonderful stories about space and starships, romance and adventure, and helpful, companionable, mysterious or surprising pets. I know Pets in Space 5 will entertain our readers. And I hope it helps some of them through a bad night or bad day. That’s what a good story with heart can do.

My PISA 5 story is Pastfinders, and here’s an excerpt from it:


The scratching came again, the unmistakable sound of blunt claws on tent fabric. Haze eased away from Mercury. He got his feet under him in a tense crouch and touched the flap of the tent. His heart pounded as he anticipated what he’d see, or not.

The flap opened to reveal a creature looking up at him. It was compactly dog-sized but unlike anything Haze had ever seen. Except it had the eyes he’d dreamed about, large golden eyes with diamond-shaped pupils.

He stared at the creature in wary wonder. Its wide, feathered head had long flexible ears and a hooked beak. It had wide shoulders and a thick ruff of feathers lighter in color than the rust-brown fur on the rest of its body. It stood on front paws with blunt, tent-scratching claws. It had taloned back feet. And a long tail with a feathery tuft at the end.

The strange compassionate eyes didn’t leave Haze. The creature put a paw on his knee.

His wariness melted. The reflexes of a lifelong biologist remained. Breaking off eye contact—animals consider direct eye contact potential threat—Haze slowly extended his hand, palm up, below the creature’s shoulder—animals take a hand reaching for their head as a threat.

It sniffed his hand.

He slowly raised his hand to its ruff. The feathers felt much colder than the air. This was an unexpectedly detailed encounter to be just a dream. Haze was puzzled. “Where did you come from?”

It wagged its feather-tufted tail in such a doglike, Dusty-like movement that his heart warmed.

Behind him, Mercury rolled up with a puzzled little sound. She looked over his shoulder and gasped.

“Do you see it too?” Haze asked. “Or am I dreaming?”

“What is that?!”

“I dreamed about my old dog. I had a nightmare and it led me to safety.” He looked into those strange, compassionate eyes again and some of the tension that had his nerves stretched taut eased.

She put her hands on his shoulders. “That is not a dog!”

“The eyes were the same. My old dog was named Dusty because his fur always picked up the dust in the street.”

The long, flexible ears pointed toward him. The early sun picked out reddish notes in its fur and its feathers. He heard himself ask, “Can I call you Rusty?”

The creature cocked its head as though trying to understand him.


Get Pets in Space® 5!  A portion of the first few weeks’ profits go to Hero-Dogs.org, a non-profit charity that helps our service veterans and first responders. 

 

 

How Service Dogs Help – Guest Post by E.D. Walker

Pets in Space is Back

Once again this year I have the honor to be a part of the science fiction romance anthology Pets in Space.  Part of the first months sales, including preorders, will be donated to Hero Dogs, and in this guest post, fellow Pets in Space 4 author E.D. Walker talks about why that’s important. She also gives us a suspenseful excerpt from her story.


One of the reasons I’m so proud to participate in the Pets in Space anthologies every year is because of the charitable contribution to Hero Dogs that has been a part of the Pets anthology ever since the very first one. Hero Dogs provides service dogs at no cost to veterans of the U.S. military and first responders with disabilities.

My family has some connection to the military: my grandfather and father both served in the armed forces. My grandfather in WWII, and my father as a marine reservist, although he was never deployed. Growing up, I was instilled with a deep sense of pride for their service, and a healthy respect for the sacrifices our armed forces and their families make.

It’s not just a personal connection to the military that makes me appreciate working with this charity, however. I also have several (non-military) friends who have service dogs, and I have seen what a huge difference it has made in their lives to have that kind of assistance available to them. One family friend is dealing with a degenerative illness, and they had lost the ability to walk across the room without their walker. With the help of a service dog they were able to do this and do it much faster and more safely than they could with a walker. Another friend has an emotional support animal that’s made a world of difference in helping them leave their house and interact with other people without suffering from crippling anxiety.

Because of their service animals, my friends have been able to get out of the house more, take public transportation when they never could before, and other things that make what were immense challenges in their lives so much more manageable.

Because I know how amazing the skills of a service dog can be, I am immeasurably proud to contribute in even some small way to helping Hero Dogs continue with their mission to place service dogs with veterans.

E.D. Walker is the author of The Fairy Tales of Lyond Series that begins with Enchanting the King. E.D. lives in sunny Southern California with her family and one of the neediest housecats on the planet.  Website: http://edwalkerauthor.com/

Story snippet:

Her kidnapper, Tatinas’s nostrils flared. “Perhaps it is time I show your father how much worse I can make things for you.”

Fear spiked in Liana’s blood, her heart racing. Her caliba Pym shifted, apparently still asleep although she knew better. She fanned her fingers over Pym’s silky feathers and, immediately, calm filled her chest. “It doesn’t matter what you do to me. My father won’t relent.” She might be signing her own death warrant, but if Tatinas planned to torture her so her father would comply then wasn’t it better if she die now?

Tatinas chortled, the sound making her shiver. “Who knows what might change a man’s mind? If you push him hard enough.” He pivoted toward the door, ready to leave.

“Am I to have my walk today?” The stale air of her room had started an itch under her skin, a worm of anxiety that was beginning to wind through her blood.

He hesitated, his head half turned toward her, then he scoffed and tossed a careless hand. “Why not? There’s nowhere to escape anyway. Is there?” He turned and held her gaze until she was squirming under his cold, reptilian stare. “Is there, princess.”

“No.” She swallowed. “There isn’t.”

Grab your copy of Pets in Space® 4 today! For a limited time, Pets in Space® 4 brings together today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors to help Hero-Dogs.org, a non-profit charity that helps our service veterans and first responders. https://petsinspaceantho.com

Writing a Caticorn – Guest Post by Pauline Baird Jones

Once again this year I’m delighted to be a part of the science fiction romance anthology Pets in Space.  In this guest post, fellow Embrace the Passion:  Pets in Space 3  author Pauline Baird Jones talks about she invented her pet.

 

One of the hardest (for me) parts when starting a new Pets in Space story is picking a pet. You’d think I was picking a real pet, not a fictional one. For the past two anthologies, I’ve picked the pet and then they drove the story and revealed to me the human they owned and sometimes they told me bits of the story.

They were quite helpful, though there were times I wondered what the pet had been drinking. lol

So this year I decided to be more organized about this pet selection process. I made a list of animals that caught my eye (mostly on my Facebook feed scrolling by) and then I tried to winnow it down. Here’s my “short list” for Pets in Space 3:

Pandas

Harpy Eagle

Turtle

Hedgehog

Flying Squirrel

Blue-footed booby

Boa

Cat

Dog

White mice

Gerbil

Hamster

So which of these animals did I pick for Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3?

Well…kind of none of the above. Lol!

I created a caticorn—a combo cat with a small horse body and a single horn in its forehead.

So technically I picked a cat and then did some fictional genetic engineering. (Don’t feel bad for the pets not picked. Somehow most of them managed to force their way into the story in other ways.)

I did have good reasons for going with a caticorn.

I needed a pet that would help, but not be high maintenance for my heroine.

And I needed a pet with secrets. Let’s face it, cats always look like they are keeping secrets—when they aren’t giving you the Puss’n Boots “give me what I want” look.

And I needed a pet that could sneak on board the ship, because the caticorn did not get an invite for this trip.

I did mention some other animals managed to push their way onboard my space ship, didn’t I? Here’s a little snippet from Operation Ark:

***

The Emissary’s capabilities had tipped the scales on the mission from bat crap crazy to this might work. City had volunteered without hesitation. She’d worked with Kraye and Bull. Kraye was good in a fire fight, and Bull, well, he was a robot who had been designed as a super warrior—a super warrior with a flying squirrel for a pet, but still a robot with fighting creds.

She heard a plaintive half whinny, half meow.

“There you are.” She made the mistake of meeting his big, ‘I feel so neglected’ gaze. With a resigned sigh, she knelt down and ran a hand down his back. It arched like a cat’s and he purred when she scratched around his ears and horn. “You know you’re not supposed to be here.”

The purring increased, and she sighed again. A Marine was not supposed to be owned by a cat, even if it was a caticorn.

“Good thing I got your dietary needs programmed into the system.”

Tiger angled his head, his gaze meeting hers. The look was odd enough to make her wonder—but the Puss’n’Boots look came back. She felt its power, but let Tiger see her skepticism. At least she didn’t have to worry about his claws in her back. It didn’t seem like it should be possible for Tiger to increase the soulful, but he managed it. She chuckled, moving her fingers around so she could scratch his chin. “You win.” She said the words, not sure what he’d won, and she’d lost. It all felt a bit paranoid. Though a little paranoia never hurt anyone in a galaxy far, far away.

***

Rocky the flying squirrel is a pretty awesome buddy for Bull but you’ll need to order the book to find out which other animals found their way into my story “Operation Ark.”

And here’s the blurb for “Operation Ark”:

She’s a USMC Sergeant deployed to the Garradian Galaxy.

He was raised by the robots who freed him from slavery.

It’s a match made nowhere anyone can figure out.

They clashed as enemies but joined forces to defeat a common foe. Now they’re tasked with returning some freed prisoners to their home worlds. In the next galaxy. With an alien, a robot, and a caticorn. It was a bar joke without a punch line, though Carolina City has a feeling it is out there—like the truth.

Kraye isn’t eager to return to his galaxy where the dark secret of his past lays in wait, but he’s willing to risk it in hopes that Caro can teach him what the robots couldn’t: how to be human.

Together they must face a dangerous journey, a lethal enemy with a score to settle, their unexpected desire, and an uncertain future if they make it out alive.

Can Caro and Kraye navigate the minefields—both emotional and space based—to land a happy homecoming for the sentient animals in their care? Can the man raised by robots learn how to kiss the girl while the starchy Marine decides if she is willing to bend the rules for a happy ever after? Don’t miss Pauline Baird Jones’ newest Project Enterprise story!

Please join us for the next round of adventures with romance, danger and pets! All of it happening in space!

USA Today Bestselling author Pauline Baird Jones never liked reality, so she writes books. She likes to wander among the genres, rampaging like Godzilla, because she does love peril mixed in her romance.

 

 

 

The Blessing of the Animals

St Francis and animals

Yesterday my church, St. Stephen’s Episcopal in Houston, honored St. Francis of Assisi by blessing the animals.

Whether pets or predators, tame or wild, animals remind us – as St. Francis proclaimed but Western civilization too often denies – that we are not alone in creation. It isn’t us or them, isn’t us not them; it’s us and them in the fate of the Earth. 

So St. Stephen’s had much emphasis on ecology in the hymns and prayers, and many pets in attendance. Twenty or so dogs, two turtles, a lizard, and a cockatiel came to church. Our priest individually blessed each pet right in front of the altar. It was a surprisingly powerful ritual. People love their pets. And everyone needed hope and healing after the news that filled the national media last week.

Pets can be incredibly empathetic when humans are hurt, sick, or sad. One of the dogs was a trained therapy dog. Therapy animals mean so much to students in finals, the elderly in assisted living and nursing homes, and other places. My friend Lila’s PTSD therapy dog, Rinnie, makes all the difference in the world for Lila. 

Rinnie

Ritually and intentionally blessing our pets once a year in church reminds us of how we are blessed by them

As a writer of science fiction with real science in it, it’s a little out of character for me to have stories in the Pets in Space Science Fiction Romance anthology (2016 – 2018). But so far, just about every author’s Pets in Space tale has –  amid adventure and mayhem, with sex ranging from hinted to hot, and without using these exact words – shown pets being blessings to people. One reviewer was bitterly disappointed that there was no sex with pets (!) but that isn’t what we’re about. It’s pets rescuing, finding, helping, defending, matchmaking, and making a happy ending. 

That’s a good thing kind of story to write. I’m happy to have a story in Pets in Space:  Embrace the Passion!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

St. Francis sketch credit <a href=”https://clipartxtras.com/”>clipartxtras.com</a>

Meet H’tch and K’mi – Guest Post by Kyndra Hatch

Once again this year I am privileged to have a story in the science fiction romance anthology Pets in Space.  In this guest post, fellow PISA3 author Kyndra Hatch introduces us to her pets.

Meet H’tch and K’mi, the curious fun-loving pets from my Pets In Space 3 story, “After The Fall.” H’tch and K’mi are moghas, which form a one-time lifetime bond with a Korthan biped. H’tch already has a master companion, but K’mi is still waiting for one at the start of the story.

If it were possible to get a cross between a wolf and a fox of Earth, that’s what they generally look like, except that they have long antennae sticking up from the tips of their ears with feather-like tufts on the ends. It is thought that these antennae help facilitate their bonds with their alphas, pinpointing frequencies to help them communicate with their master companions through the mind.

Moghas have retractable fingers in their front paws that help them dig for ground-dwelling creatures to eat. They also use these fingers when climbing the numerous trees that cover their home world. There are some Korthan accountings of seeing moghas swinging from vines between the trees, but these claims cannot be substantiated.

The following snippet features K’mi. Lyra, the heroine of the story, has a thought about the mogha being a hellhound. Moghas got the nickname “Hellhounds of Korth” during the long war between the Korthans and humans of Earth.

***

Soft snoring sounded from the end of the raised ice platform. Curled like a housecat, whiskers and paws twitching, soft feather-like fur caressing her toes, the blue and white mogha was asleep at her feet.

Lyra could see where the fingers would extend from the paws and she remembered a drawing from a veteran of the war, an image of a ferocious hellhound standing over its victim, its fingers around his throat, blood dripping from its fangs. She never experienced the deadly impulses of a hellhound first hand, but it was hard to see this snoring, cuddly housecat harming even a fly.

She resisted the urge to curl her toes into its fur while simultaneously resisting the urge to rub its ears. Feeling a strange sort of kinship with this creature, she felt responsible for it, the need to help and protect it winding through her heart.

Had to be the bond. Why else would she want a sentient creature she just met to follow her everywhere she went?

***

Kyndra Hatch writes action-packed paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy romance stories when she’s not watching for falling stars and avoiding mischievous raccoons at her cabin in the woods.

http://kyndrahatch.blogspot.com/

 

Meet Fiend – Guest Post by Anna Hackett

Once again this year I have a story in the science fiction romance anthology Pets in Space.  In this guest post, fellow PISA3 author Anna Hackett talks about her pet whose name is Fiend.

 

I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3. I often have plenty of nasty beasties in my action-packed sci-fi romances, so it wasn’t too hard to find one who wouldn’t bite anyone’s head off (well, at least not the good guys!) My story, Desert Hunter, is set in my Galactic Gladiators series, on the distant desert world of Carthago. It also stars Fiend.

Fiend is an alien canine of dubious origins. He’s a big, scruffy ball of tangled fur and he’s rescued from sand pirates in the desert by our hero and heroine, Bren and Mersi. He has a barbed tail, a lolling tongue, and doesn’t like baths…and watch out when he gets riled, because he’s very protective of the people he claims as his.

Here’s where we first meet Fiend:

Bren was scowling down at…Mersi blinked at the tangled lump jogging at his feet.

The beige-colored animal looked like a big ball of matted fur.

“What is that?” she asked.

The thing lifted its head and looked at her. She couldn’t see any eyes through the snarled fur, but a large, pink tongue was lolling out. The beast also had a long tail, with wicked spikes on the end of it, that was currently wagging in a friendly sort of way.

“It appears to be some kind of canine,” Corsair said.

“I’ve never seen an animal like it before.” Bren frowned at the canine sniffing at his boots. “The pirates were trying to capture him.”

“Capture him?” Mersi crouched down and the animal moved toward her. “Not kill him?”

Bren took a step forward. “Careful.”

“It’s fine, Bren.”

“He stinks and he’s wild. He could be dangerous.”

That giant tongue licked at Mersi’s face. As the creature exuberantly shifted closer, he almost knocked her over. She laughed. “Yes, he looks very dangerous.”

Anna Hackett is a USA Today bestselling author who loves action romance. She loves stories that combine the thrill of falling in love with the excitement of action, danger and adventure. For more info on Anna and her action-packed romances, visit www.annahackettbooks.com

Digital Adventure

 

In the second Pets in Space anthology, we hit the USA Today bestseller list one day shortly after it was released.  As of this writing, it has 131 Amazon reviews and a 4 1/2-star rating. And now this honor comes along. Being on a best book list under the auspices of Library Journal is particularly nice.

What an adventure Pets in Space has been! And to a great degree it’s been a remarkably digital adventure.  For one thing, it’s an e-book original.  There is a paperback edition of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, but at 700 pages and almost $30, it’s a more special edition than what most readers would buy for their home libraries.  On the other hand, at $3.99 the e-book is nicely priced considering how big it is. Containing twelve  novelettes or novellas, with different sexual heat levels and wildly different pets, there’s something for almost everyone in this anthology.

With the other eleven authors, including the two who organized the anthology and the publicist working with us, we talked about the book and the publicity electronically – in a Facebook group.  Which worked great.  The writers (not to mention the publicist, who is Australia-based Narelle Todd of Get My Book Out There) are geographically scattered, But with the FB group we could interact in nearly real time or at anyone’s convenience – even on vacation or when dodging hurricanes.

Before and especially after the book was released October 10, we all revved up our Websites, Twitter, and everything else we had in the way of social media to promote the book.  In the end, that’s why we’ve gotten the accolades we have so far.  Yes, the stories are good and the concept is delightful, but in today’s publishing world, if you don’t manage to make your book known, the vast majority of your likely, appreciative, even adoring readers will never find out about it. I once heard a veteran micro-publisher advise authors, “Don’t forget there are still millions of people who don’t know about your book, so keep promoting it.”

So the digital adventure continues!

 

 

On Supporting Hero Dogs for Veterans

Michelle Howard is a fellow author in the USA Today bestselling anthology Embrace the Romance:  Pets in Space 2. Here she tells us something about why she’s happy to have a story in this anthology, with ten percent of the first month’s profit through November 11 going to Hero Dogs, which provides service dogs to military veterans.  Welcome, Michelle!

~~~~~~~

My dad joined the Marines during my toddler years so my memories of him at that time are of a shiny uniform and what I once referred to as his “hat.” I was soon corrected. A few years ago, my cousin followed in my dad’s footsteps and is currently serving as a Marine and I’m so proud of him. Writing a story that gives back to our service members is a huge honor and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. Hero-dogs.org pairs two things that I admire and respect: dogs and our military.

I’m also excited I got to combine those two things in my story for this anthology. My story’s hero served in the military and was discharged due to wounds he suffered during that time. He ends up reluctantly tasked with helping my version of a K9 known as Bogan. From there danger, love and a new partnership soon follow.

~~~~~~~

Twelve leading SFR authors with twelve original never released stories appear in Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, available at numerous e-book vendors here!

For descriptions of each story, a book trailer, and some cute Pets in Space merchandise (!) you can go to the anthology’s Website:

http://www.petsinspaceantho.com

Meet An Enchanted Morning Glory

Of all the brave, quirky, heroic and mischievous pets in the USA Today bestselling anthology Embrace the Romance:  Pets in Space 2, mine may have been the most unusual.  Jesse Greenfinger is a  plantimal – a genetically engineered combination of plant and animal genes both from Earth and an ill-fated colony world called Planet Green.  Jesse’s species is called hugworts.  With genetic good reason, hugworts look like nothing so much as enchanted morning glories. They are mobile, affectionate, as curious as cats,  clean, and space-hardy:  perfect pets for space places.  Indeed, Jesse is the mascot for the deep space station which is the setting of my story, Mascot.  At one point Jesse climbs a station ladder; this hugwort has  places to go and things to do (and a few secrets of its own.) This is the scene that our artist, Nyssa Juneau, illustrated for the anthology.

Here’s an excerpt from Mascot:

Jesse Greenfinger, who could tolerate a wider range of temperatures than any human being, but who had a catlike fondness for the warm proximity of its human, joined Daya in her favorite reading chair.  Jesse’s warm, furry root-mass snuggled in her lap.  It purred.

Two knocks, twice, came from her door. “Enter,” she said, and marked her place in her book, expecting Mattiz or possibly Annis Lee.

To her surprise, it was the auditor who entered.  He took one look at her and that mobile face of his showed incredulity, with good enough reason. Jesse’s leaves and tendrils spilled onto the floor all around her chair.  She probably looked like an enchanted woman out of a fairy tale, who had sat reading for a summer while vines grew up around her.  She explained, “It is no ordinary plant.  It’s a plantimal, genetically engineered from plant genes and cat genes.  It doesn’t need soil and it can move around.”

Jesse, wary around strangers, slipped off her lap, carefully bundling its root mass in vines and leaves, retreated to a corner, and froze. There’s nothing to see here but a harmless house plant.

Right.

Mascot and the other Embrace the Romance:  Pets in Space 2 stories are available from various e-book vendors here.  There’s even a print edition – a nicely designed trade paperback that weighs about four lbs (!) and had to be priced accordingly.  But this anthology is a steal in ebook form for $3.99!