LAYING GHOSTS has been Joyfully Reviewed

Laying Ghosts is a many-layered story. There’s a mystery to be solved, as well as a lot of family drama and relationship changes and growth for Joe and Kabe. Joe is a wonderful first-person narrator. He comes across as a bit of a redneck and sometimes a bit too stuck on the rules, but inside he’s much more. He’s a sharp investigator, a loyal lover, son, and brother, and much more emotional than his tough exterior would reveal.

via LAYING GHOSTS by James Buchanan | Joyfully Reviewed.

Deputy Joe’s Utah Dialect: hear it

One of the things I often read in reviews of The Deputy Joe series is that “nobody talks like that,” referring to Joe’s dialect in the story.

Well, meet Waldo Wilcox, rancher …he’s first at about the 2min marker. He’s from the Green River area which is about as isolated as where Joe lives although being more east and north. Panguitch is located more towards the southern end of the state and almost dead center east to west. You can see Green River on the map here and then look for Bryce Canyon down and left.

Should you be as big of a geek as I am, you can go to American English Dialects which is attempting to record, find news recordings on places like YouTube, and map the various dialect variation in the United States.

A New Review for the Good Thief

A nice review over at Mrs. Condit by Lucky that the reviewer gave me a heads up on. Retro Read Review: The Good Thief by James Buchanan

The story itself is pretty tight. Crossing the thin blue line gets Nate in trouble with his fellow officers, Caesar can’t help admit he’s got it bad for the cop, but where could they possibly end up together? When it comes down to it, which would Nate rather be a part of – some bad cops or with The Good Thief?

via Retro Read Review: The Good Thief by James Buchanan |.

Dueling Reviews for Laying Ghosts at Reviews by Jessewave

Two reviews at Jessewaves’ for Laying Ghosts…both 4.75

First from Wave:

Laying Ghosts revealed a lot about Kabe’s character and I really got to know him through the evolution of his relationship with Joe. Seeing him blossom into the man he was meant to be was wonderful as well as surprising as he showed the greatest character growth. His interactions with Joe’s family, especially his mother, were delightful as he held his own and gave back as good as he got. His new temporary job fighting fires allowed him one more outlet for his penchant for danger, excitement and thrills and he seemed to glow from within as his life came almost full circle to that of a man fulfilled

via Laying Ghosts (A Deputy Joe Novel) | Reviews by Jessewave.

and then from Feliz

To sum it up, I can only warmly recommend this newest addition to the Deputy Joe series, as well as the series as a whole. A winsome narrator, a wonderful romance (not to forget the seriously hot explicit scenes!), a vivid and scenic setting, realistic conflict, well-wrought secondary characters, and on top of all this, a suspenseful mystery in every book make this series a must-read.

via Laying Ghosts | Reviews by Jessewave.

Out Now! Laying Ghosts: A Deputy Joe Novel

Some families are haunted by tragedy. Some people are haunted by their pasts. Some men are haunted by who they are. Joe Peterson is haunted by all three. His parents' return from their mission, combined with a family reunion, forces Joe's kin to deal with his new life: out of the Mormon Church, out of the closet, and living with his lover Kabe. When a decades-old murder of a child lands on Joe's desk, digging into it dredges up long buried truths and festering secrets about folks Joe thought he knew -- including Kabe. Joe and Kabe must lay the ghosts of the past and bring closure to a family scarred by loss to move forward in their life together.Available now from MLRPress

Laying Ghosts
A Deputy Joe Novel
Author James Buchanan
ISBN# MLR-1-02013-0015 (ebook) $8.99
978-1-60820-7787 (print) $16.99
Release Date January 2013
Cover Artist Winterheart Designs
Length: (*) 123,000 words
Heat Rating: Graphic
Categories: Police Procedural
Contemporary
BDSM
Available At: MlrBooks (ebook)

Some families are haunted by tragedy. Some people are haunted by their pasts. Some men are haunted by who they are. Joe Peterson is haunted by all three. His parents’ return from their mission, combined with a family reunion, forces Joe’s kin to deal with his new life: out of the Mormon Church, out of the closet, and living with his lover Kabe. When a decades-old murder of a child lands on Joe’s desk, digging into it dredges up long buried truths and festering secrets about folks Joe thought he knew — including Kabe. Joe and Kabe must lay the ghosts of the past and bring closure to a family scarred by loss to move forward in their life together.

Chapter 1:

The insistent ring of my cell phone made me pull it off my hip and glance at the face. I knew that name, and, honest, seeing it…well it was like a sunrise after a rain. I hit accept as I got up from my desk and ducked back into the break room. “Joe’s Pizza.” Hadn’t clocked back in from lunch yet, so I could take a personal call, and not like I was all that busy right then anyhow.

Of course, I’da taken this call even if I’d been in the presence of Heavenly Father himself.

A lot of static cut across Kabe’s words. “Holy shit, dude, same suck-ass joke as always.” I didn’t care about the tease. I didn’t care that I could hardly hear him. That voice was the best darn thing to hit my ears in what felt like a million years. “You’re such a dork.” He might have razzed me, but I could suss out the slow, deep current of warmth under what he said.

I hadn’t seen Kabe in over a week. “Guilty as charged.”

I wondered if he could tell how big my grin was just by my tone. Lord I’d missed him, more than I really wanted to admit. I’d gotten used to the warmth and the smell of his body next to mine at night. I’d roll over and the absence of him would wake me up. Just coming home to an empty house, hearing my boots echo…I don’t know, it dropped my heart more than I ever thought possible.

“It’s been kinda, ah, quiet around without you.” Never, ever thought I’d have a life like this, with someone, and I liked it more than I believed possible.

“Hey, I haven’t even had time to jack-off,” he laughed, “so don’t tell me who’s missed who.”

Trust Kabe to take the conversation down to the lowest point in the stream. “So how much longer until the forestry service cuts you loose?” Mother bear, Ranger Nadia Slokum, prodded Kabe into applying for a fire crew back in February. My boy’d gone and landed himself a job – he finished up his EMT certification in early spring, got his fire-fighter’s ‘red card’ by completing a few weekend courses and passing the final exam: hauling fifty pounds of gear through three miles of wilderness in less than forty-five minutes. His probation officer, being on board with the whole idea, gave him a letter saying that he could travel outside the county, and the state, so long as he was working a fire and checked in by phone when he was able.

“Dork.” He repeated the barb, but added a laugh. “We’re in Milford.” Milford? That put him about an hour and a half away. “Stopped to gas up the truck and get something to drink.”

“You’re on your way home?” With his training, plus being an experienced rock junkie and back-country camper; yeah it qualified Kabe for a minimum wage job digging fire breaks, clearing dead wood, back-cutting brush and risking his life to fight wilderness blazes. Up until now he’d logged a lot of blisters, pulled muscles and about a dozen hornet stings. Then his crew got called out for the first real fire of the season up in Great Basin National Park. He got tapped and he went: brave, gung-ho and ready for action.

“Yep. They declared hundred percent containment at about two in the morning.” He sounded downright exhausted. “Started cutting crews loose just before dawn.”

“Well.” All of a sudden I got excited, and not just south of the boarder. “I’ll see you when I get off work then.” Boy, I sounded like a kid who found out they canceled school for the rest of the year.

“We got to put shit away in Cedar, but, yeah, our bed tonight.” Oh, Lord, that sounded like one sweet promise. “Got to run.” He huffed it out like he didn’t much want to get off the phone either. “See you.”

“Hold you to it, boy.” My way of saying, I’ve missed you more than I can really put into words. “Drive safe up the mountain.”

“You got it.” Kabe answered before clicking off. We never actually said good-bye. That’s what folks said when you didn’t expect to see the other again. As first responders, nobody ever wanted to jinx nothing.

The news, though, put a bit of bounce in my step as I headed back to my desk. Made everything just a little more bearable knowing Kabe’d be home before sundown. I sat down in front of the computer. A dozen old folders were stacked in front of me and I entered the data from the open one into the national data bases. Although I was back at work, Doc Snow had me on light duty. He didn’t want me chasing after deadbeats on foot or jumping off walls. I understood that he needed to make sure my knee was stable after my accident, but still, my Lord, this duty equaled boring. I did get that it had to be done. Clear old cases. Link some crimes to others out there.

Still, it made me feel like a secretary not an officer.

“Hey, Peterson.” The new Watch Commander came up behind me. “How are you doing on the cold cases?”

That was one of the main reasons I needed Kabe around to make things more bearable. I rolled my neck a couple of times before answering. “I’m almost caught up on what we have.” I’d like to say I rose above my situation, but I really couldn’t. Diamond had resigned, her kid needed twenty-four-seven home care after release from the hospital and she had to step up. I’d lost a year of pay and a rank over my relationship with Kabe. Before that, I’d been a sergeant, the Watch Commander, all of it got pulled from me when I’d consented to my boss’ discipline for messing with a guy on probation—legally in custody. But that meant they needed someone to fill my slot and I got Diamond’s job.

Lt. Jared Lowell, formerly of Orem PD, took a cut in pay, and gained a lot better hours, to take my job. “Okay, what year are you back to?” While it was my own damn fault that gave him the opportunity, it didn’t mean I had to like the man for it.

Even if I felt sore, I wouldn’t change the turn my life took when I met Kabe.

And while Lt. Lowell didn’t hit the top of my list of favorite people, I knew better than to piss in my own back yard. I made an effort to play nice. “Once I get these in,” I thought a moment, “we’ll have everything from about eighty-two on in all the national databases.” Not like we had thousands of cold cases. Most of what I’d been reviewing were old burglaries, assaults and property crimes where the statute of limitations had run out long ago. We had a few murders, where the officers knew who did it, but just couldn’t prove it. Then there were the nameless ones: the Johns and Janes buried by the county under the last name Doe who died alone in the forest or along the highway. Someone out there loved them, though, and deserved to know what happed to their kin. “Already cleared half a dozen or so cases with dental/tattoo hits and the like.” Most, so far had been through the missing persons clearing houses. I suspected that the likely matches I’d gotten back would resolve a lot more in time. Then there were the few felons serving time that popped on DNA hits.

Mostly, though, this duty gave me a lot of time with my own thoughts. I’d be playing hunt-n-peck on the keyboard and my mind would drift off to imagining what Kabe was up to. Cooked up a lot of ways to have fun with him, you know, like we tended. This past week rubbed really raw, me missing him more than usual. I couldn’t wait to see him, wrap him up in bed and forget the rest of the world existed. Well, except for tomorrow, ‘cause my folks were coming home after two years in Russia serving the Church and I had to go get them from the airport.

But before and after…yeah, a lot of nekkid consumed my dreams.

Lowell’s voice called me back to the here and now. “Only to eighty-two?” He settled his weight on the edge of the desk I’d been assigned to. Thick arms folded across a barrel chest, he stared down at me from beneath bushy white brows. Even his red-tinged, but grayed out, mustache seemed to twitch with irritation.

I’d pulled every old file outta the storage cabinets in our current building. “Well, that’s all I’ve found files for.” Honestly, there were a lot more boxes in evidence storage than I had files to match…most of them pressed up against the very back walls in dingy brown boxes. And look, I knew I needed to get to those, but the farther back you went, the cases meandered from slightly frostbitten cold-case to down right freezer burned. Twenty-five years ago meant locked in permafrost.

“The department goes back longer than that.” Lowell reminded me.

“Yeah.” I almost managed to not sound snotty with my response.

“There’s got to be older files.”

I knew he was right, but I protested all the same. “That’s more than thirty years ago.” I wanted to be out on patrol, making a difference, doing what I did best. This duty made me feel like some clerk. I hadn’t spent my life training for data entry.

“And if we can clear them though the Fed’s combined indexing systems,” he let a heavy pause settle down between us before he finished his thought, “it’s out of the unsolved and into the solved files.”

“Well, I’m having trouble with some of the older stuff because we have the old style info on it and not the new format. And a lot of it is backlogged at the OME’s office.” The Office of the Medical Examiner for the state, well new cases took six to nine months to process. Ice cold cases, yeah, they got shelved towards when there was a bit of time when nothing much else was happening. Like maybe when Hell froze over. “It’ll be a while before anyone can enter final details on those.”

“Okay, but the department has existed more than thirty years.” He repeated it with a little more aggravation than the first time he said it.

I tried not to let my own issues mess with trying to live with my new boss. “Yeah, and?” Cain’t say I was too successful.

Again, Lowell insisted. “Where are those records?”

“They ain’t here.” I huffed and pushed back from the computer. “I ain’t found them yet.”

“Well.” He stood, tapped the desk and leaned over me. “Find them.”

I couldn’t quite let it be. “Why? Thirty plus years…everybody’s dead or long gone.” I wasn’t like this normally. But this was not doing. This was just waiting.  Cooling my heels while someone else to decided if I could go back to working at what I loved. It drove me nuts.

“Because your purpose right now,” he glared, “deputy on disability, Joe Peterson, is to enter all of our cold case files into the databases.” He rapped a meaty set of knuckles near my keyboard. “I will drag this department, kicking and screaming, if I have to, into the twenty-first century. Where do you think old files might be?”

“Ah.” I backed down a little, sorta. “Okay, up until, maybe twelve years ago, the sheriff had the old offices and county jail had cells in the new county courthouse.” I probably sounded as bored as I was. “That was built in the early eighties. Maybe at the old cells in the courthouse. I think some stuff was moved into storage there along with a lot of the old county records.”

“You got a phone, deputy, get on it.” He ordered as he started to walk away.

There’s protesting and then there’s banging your head against brick walls. This argument, for me, headed towards the latter. “Yessir.” I muttered, not quite giving up my attitude even if I abandoned the fight. Took me five or six different times striking out with folks who had no more clue than I did before I really thought about it. Picked up the phone one last time and dialed the maintenance office over at the county building. If anyone would know what lurked in the musty, dusty corners of the courthouse, it’d be the janitors.

Had a nice long talk with the head maintenance guy. Took a bit of cajoling to convince him why my boss’ do now should become his problem. I finally got him to ask around his crew while I waited on hold. When he came back on the line, I got a definite maybe on whether they knew where those files were. It equaled better than a sharp stick in the eye.

By then it was time for me to clock out. I’d never been much of a clock watcher before I got injured. But, honest, this current assignment couldn’t hardly get more boring. A few cases I reviewed caught my attention, got me lost in the reading of them, trying to think ‘em through. Besides being few and far between, they tended to be solved when I entered the right data in the right place. That gave me a momentary thrill. A few others, well, I could see likely as clear as the officers handling them had as to who done it…those though, they just needed the technology to catch up to the evidence. Waiting a few more months for the old blood and other fluids to run through the DNA wringer weren’t going to make ‘em any colder.

The rest of the lot seemed only slightly more interesting than watching grass grow.

I shut down the computer, stacked the files on the edge of my desk, before I headed over to where Lt. Lowell sat filling out some sorta paperwork. I knew he saw me. I’d come up on him just so he could see me. He didn’t, however, seem to be in any rush to acknowledge that I existed, much less waited on him. Shuffled my feet a bit, picked at a bit of lint that somehow attached itself to my sleeve and basically fussed, without really fussing, while he seemed bent on ignoring me. I’da never done that to one of my men…make ‘em wait without even the courtesy of asking for a moment. And I know that what I worked on didn’t rate too much on the scale of urgency, still a little courtesy never hurt.

Probably pay back for my bit of lip earlier.

Finally, he scribbled his name on the bottom of the paper and grunted out a, “Yes,” as he stacked it with the other sheets in his out box.

Took a couple deep, but not obvious, breaths before I figured I could say anything without coming off all bitter and put out. “Talked to some folks at the courthouse, they think they might have some old boxes and such belonging to us.” The lieutenant nodded like he listened, so I figured I’d just rush it on out. “They ain’t sure, but someone seemed to recall coming across them.”

“Okay.” That came with him starting to write on the next form. “Head over there and see what you can find.”

I didn’t even rate a look. I guess neither of us was too keen on the other. Still, he outranked me and I had to explain myself. “The head maintenance guy’s going to meet me day after tomorrow.” When I saw his lip tighten up, I cut Lowell off. “He’s got guys out sick. It’s his schedule not mine. I’m going to come in part of my day off to go take care of this.” Figured reminding him that I usually wasn’t a thorn in folks’ sides might not hurt right then. Wouldn’t quite make up for some of my attitude from earlier.

“You’re off tomorrow and the next day?”

“Yessir.” Reminded him about that too. “It’s the end of my work week. My folks are coming home from overseas. I got to go pick ‘em up in Salt Lake.” Just for good measure, I threw in an excuse. “Since I’m not on patrol it’s not like I’m leaving y’all hanging.”

“Don’t have to explain.” He grunted. “You’re finished with your shift. I don’t expect you to live here.” What little of his attention I’d had up ‘till then pretty much evaporated. Felt it like a slow fizzle of heat being wicked off my chest. Guess that meant I was dismissed, so I didn’t even bother to say good-bye as I headed out.

Beyond Duty

Has been released as a stand alone eBook!

and it has a new cover.

James introduces us to Alad and Hirah, both out searching for something when they meet, are they the end of searching for each other?

Beyond Duty
Author James Buchanan
ISBN# 978-1-60820-7398 (ebook) $5.99
Length: (*) 49,000 words
Heat Rating: Moderate
Categories: Sci-fi
fantasy

Nealgalt, Xuyi Sector

Quad Cycle 4, Pay Cycle 6, Patrol 4, Day 36

18:65hours army-standard

Gray mist undulated around him and Alad hunkered into his greatcoat, cursing the government, the military, the enemy, religion and pretty much anyone else he could blame for stranding him on this rock in the skanky armpit of the far side of the universe. He’d beg for sun, but none existed here, at least not in this season. Perpetual overcast served up with sides of absolute darkness and intermittent twilight haunted his days. He’d be so stoked when he found a ride off this shit-pit.

Alad stepped from slick twisted root to twisted root, a winding, treacherous and living shortcut from one ramshackle walkway to another. Things slithered through the oily water below. Tumbledown bars, whorehouses and low rent lodgings twisted off in dizzying directions, their location due more to where infrequent patches of solid land could be found than actual planning. All of it castoff MDU and MTO prefabs destined for the scrap heap, salvaged and pressed into service to make up the eyesore known as Desperation Alley-the no-man’s land between base and the up-rank civilian settlements. Missing panels patched by biopolymer sheets added off-color dissonance to the grays and muted blue buildings. Shadows flitted behind window openings covered with NatuResin tarps. Here and there, outmoded and damaged shipping containers served as pod barracks: racks of one-bod and two-bod bunks bracketed floor to ceiling for those too drunk or burning to stumble back to base.

Above him, a canopy of steel blue foliage almost three stadion deep hid the makers of all the various scurrying sounds. Large trunks, bleached white by the salts sucked up through the water, supported networks of vines and explosions of flora in colors the human eye couldn’t even register. The whole planet washed out into a charcoal rendering of actual living things. Rotting organic material tainted the air with an ever present miasma of decay. Yesterday was spent searching for companies that would have him and his men. The standard hours akin to daylight today dwindled away in the same futile quest and Alad figured tomorrow would dawn on him humping his ass to various commands. Not even a hint of a future appointment graced his horizon. If he didn’t land something soon, well he’d have no choice but to tell his men to split up, try to find a rack on their own with some squad down a couple of grunts. Trying to place an entire patrol… hard didn’t begin to encompass the problem. Xosh, at this point if some other sergeant expressed interest in his boys, Alad would have gladly let them go on without him.

He’d traded half a month’s pay off the bar-code scan in his forearm for a third of a month’s pay in local trade chits on the black-market. Alad needed them to buy off information brokers in the cumshaw data pool. Really, if he hadn’t needed any lead possible, there was no way he’d step into Desperation Alley right now. All the good tips though, they came out of the scuttlebutt haze floating through taprooms, dice dens and sex parlors.

Alad stepped onto the plank walkway that comprised the misnamed Mandera Blossom Highway and huffed. Various beings, each more disreputable than the next, passed him. Alad debated whether to start the search first or fortify himself with the local version of rot-gut to file the edge off the eventual disappointment. Shoving his hands into the pocket of his greatcoat, he stepped into the flow of traffic and let it sweep him towards the quasi-legal establishments.

Heading toward him and away from Desperation Alley, Alad caught sight of another human. Not that humans were uncommon in this area-pisk, they made up sixty percent of the military troops in the region-but by now most were stationed on bar stools or slop shop benches and planning the night’s entertainment.

This guy seemed different. Tall, whip crack lean, his shoulders rolled in a resigned, but still defiant, manner. Black hair shorn in military fashion, longish on top, but buzzed so short it barely rated as fuzz in a halo from above his ears to his neck line, marked him as infantry-what they called the collar cut so that neck armor wouldn’t rub. It set off features so sharp a man could cut himself on his chin. His eyes damn near glowed blue-white like eons old ice flows. All the more striking when contrasted with the cinnamon tones of his skin. A cold and reserved air blew off the man… must have been what kept his pupils from melting.

Alad hadn’t seen anything that enticing in six patrols.

Waffling, unsure, he paused. He couldn’t let his troops down, but xosh, it’d been almost a cycle since Alad allowed himself any real R&R. A little booze-up followed by a little naked bust-up, Alad got hard just working the possibility. The man approached, completely absorbed in whatever drove him from the Alley. Three steps. Two steps. If Alad didn’t act soon opportunity would pass him up. As the man started to walk by, Alad decided; he jerked to the side and bumped the man’s shoulder. The man stumbled on the slick planks, running up onto the roots of one of the many Handoatoa trees.

“Sorry,” Alad mumbled, even though he wasn’t a bit remorseful, and offered a hand.

The indignation boiling through those ice blue eyes radiated such frost it burned. After glaring for a moment, the man took the proffered grip and allowed Alad to help him back onto the walkway. Everything from about mid-thigh down dripped water. Shudo! Alad had forgotten that Handoatoa tended to act like sponges and purged sucked up swamp at the slightest bruise.

“You need to watch where you walk,” the man spat, “subin!

No telling who this man was. His bearing, even under insufferable circumstances of being knocked into morass of vomited up swamp water, spoke to rank. Nobody however, except the greenest of the green, wore their confetti into Desperation Alley. Too much of a chance someone would roll you for the decorations. Unwritten protocol dictated that no one asked who was who, either. The most anyone traded over was a first name.

“Yeah, I’m clumsy.” He grimaced in mock apology. “Alad,” offering up his name as greeting equaled the first tentative step. “Let me buy you a drink to apologize for the damp boots,” made up the second.

A hard once over ran up and down Alad’s body, those ice colored eyes somehow burning into his gut. “A drink?” This time the words sounded more incredulous than antagonistic. The guy’s nostrils flared as if taking in Alad’s scent. As the air moved, a slight fluttering of the skin on the right side of the man’s nose caught his attention. Xosh, a notch had been cut out of the nasal fold. Alad shivered despite the greatcoat.

Still, the black haired soldier-Alad knew he was a soldier-reeked sex… or maybe fight-lust. Both equaled about the same to Alad. “Yeah, a drink.” Pretending indifference, Alad turned his eyes away. He drew in a deep breath, touched his index finger to his left cheek and slowly brushed it toward his ear. “To apologize for being… clumsy.” The thumb up the bridge of your nose meant you were indiscriminate about your choice of partners. Pinky on your right eye and you wanted the opposite sex. Alad had indicated he wouldn’t be opposed to a hookup with this man, in a way that let everyone pretend nobody suggested anything about sex. Nobody cared about your choice in partners. Saving face in the event of a refusal though, everybody cared about that.

Slowly he eased his gaze back toward the man with the thick black hair. The guy huffed. Alad waited for a signal. Yeah, the guy was leaving Desperation Alley, but hope sprung eternal. Alad also realized he shouldn’t be putting his dick ahead of his boys. Pisk, though, he’d been stumping for days to get placements. Blowing off some juice would help his concentration.

As Black Hair raised his left hand, Alad stepped back and sucked in his breath. The correct hand, but xosh, the man’s pinky and ring finger both were severed at the first joint. Not that Alad hadn’t seen a freighter load of combat wounds. These seemed different somehow; clean cuts, but like they hadn’t healed right. And something that could take off the first joint of the pinky would have clipped the other finger off at the knuckle, so it wasn’t a frag grenade, spinner round or other mechanical mayhem.

Black Hair’s eyes went wide and Alad blinked. He didn’t even have time to register why when a large form slammed into him from the side. His boot skidded on the wet walk despite its grip treads. Alad stumbled. Twisting, he lurched away from the massive ungulate before it ran him over completely. Alad jumped again to avoid a tail swipe, and bumped into another being.

He looked up. Just blast him back to last pay cycle and let him start over. Hazy blue mottled skin, receding thick lipped jaw and nasal folds that covered half the face in snot: Nofre. A yanked, insulted Nofre at that. Of course Nofre were insulted that other beings existed-running into one boded well for a fight.

The Nofre’s two tongues wandered out from between his lips and explored each nostril. He reached out with a thick fingered paw and thumped Alad in the center of his chest. “You pushed me.” The thing’s accent fell so thick Alad could hardly understand it.

Alad stepped back, hands held forward in pacifying manner. “A thousand apologies.” Not that he thought that he owed the Nofre one apology much less a thousand. But reasoning with them was like wanking off to Hesloid porn, never did you a bit of good. “Didn’t mean to.” Nofre were easy to anger, always up for a brawl and harder to put down than an armored transport.

One of the Nofre’s companions, with a deep blue stripe tattooed across his epicanthic ridges and, if anything, bigger than the first, shuffled around towards Alad’s flank. “You did it on purpose.” Another, with a ragged scar cutting across an already flayed face moved off to the right. Xosh, damn creatures were trying to circle and pin him.

“Accident,” Alad gave up a few steps to keep the big oafs from getting behind him, “I swear.” With fists the size of his face, Alad wouldn’t last long in a pummeling by them.