She's been chosen to fight the elusive enemy among us....
Phoenix Germaine has been trying to earn back her mother's trust after going into rehab and kicking Onadyn -- the drug of choice for New Chicago teens. But when a party in the woods turns into an all-out battle with the most ferocious aliens Phoenix has never seen, she's brought home in what appears to be an Onadyn-induced state. Hello, reform school.
Except, what her mother doesn't know is that Phoenix has just been recruited to join the elite Alien Investigation and Removal agency, where she'll learn to fight dirty, track hard, and destroy the enemy. Her professional training will be rigorous and dangerous, and the fact that one of her instructors is Ryan Stone -- the drop-dead gorgeous, nineteen-year-old agent she met in the woods that night -- doesn't make things any easier. Especially when dating him is totally against the rules....
Wildly imaginative, action-packed, and thrilling, Red Handed launches Gena Showalter's stunning new alien huntress series.
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June 18, 2007
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Excerpt from Red Handed by Gena Showalter
Sometime in the near future...
I'd always loved the night, where anything could happen and everything usually did. The forbidden...the unexpected...the bad. Nothing seemed real in the ethereal light of the moon. Sins were easily forgiven. Why not play? everyone thought -- I had once thought. Why not enjoy?
At the moment, loud, gyrating music pounded through the darkness, vibrating with so much force the ground shook and the trees swayed. In the center of a forest clearing, my friends danced around a blazing fire, and in the flickering gold and shadows their hands were everywhere. Their mouths were kissing hungrily, their bodies moved to the rhythm of the rock, fast and erratic. Sexual.
Those who weren't dancing were lounging against the circling trees, drinking beer, laughing, and smoking Onadyn, or "Snow Angels," as we called the cigs -- the drug of choice for humans nowadays. It was a deoxygenating drug meant only for the aliens who had invaded our planet so many years ago. A deoxygenating drug that made humans, who needed oxygen to survive, feel as if they were soaring through the heavens, untouchable and invincible (if it didn't kill them).
"I should know," I muttered under my breath.
I'd flown for years before being forced into rehab. (Twice) I'd been too wasted to recall the first, but I remembered the second very well, the memory of it burned into my brain.
My mom had picked me up after school one day. Uncaring of her reaction, I'd smoked a Snow Angel just before she arrived. Not enough to pass out, but just enough to fragment my thoughts and emotions, making me loopy, disoriented, and a total pain in the ass.
Nothing could touch me when I was like that. Not anger, not fear, not sadness.
She'd known what I'd done the instant she spotted me -- the glassy eyes and blue lips always gave users away -- yelling in front of the other kids waiting for their parents, "Damn you, Phoenix! Is this how you put your life back together?"
Some of the kids around me snickered; some stared at me with disgust. Still uncaring, I didn't sit up, just continued to lounge on the steps. The sun was shining, bright and warm. Maybe I'd spend the rest of the day here.
"I asked you a question, young lady."
"And I didn't give you an answer," I'd replied with a laugh. "Now hush."
"Hush? Hush! You're ruining your life, you're ruining my life, and you don't even care!" She abandoned the car and stomped to me, scowling down at me. "I'm supposed to go to work, but I can't leave you alone like this. No telling what you'll do."
I laughed again. "You're a waitress. It's not like you make a difference in the world. And you know what else? Whatever I do is my business, not yours."
Hurt washed over her face, but she squared her chin. "Whether I make a difference or not, my job is what pays for your food and your shelter and your clothes." She grabbed my shoulders and shook me. "Your actions become my business when you steal my hard-earned money to buy the very drugs that are killing you. Your actions become my business when you run away to God knows where and I don't see you for days."
"Just, I don't know, shut up and go away or something. You're ruining my buzz." Dizzy, I tried to push her hands away but didn't have the strength. That, too, made me laugh.
She didn't reply for several strangled seconds, just stared at me as if I were a bottle of poison and she'd just digested the entire contents. Other parents had arrived, I realized, and watched us unabashedly.
My mom realized it, too, and wheeled around to face them. "What are you staring at?" she snapped. "Get your kids and go home."
"Your daughter is seriously disturbed," someone muttered.
"She's a menace," someone else, a man, said. "And if she ever comes near my child, I'll call the cops and have her locked away."
"Don't worry, Daddy," one of the more popular girls at the school said in a snotty voice. I couldn't recall her name, but I knew she was a straight-A student, an all-around goody-goody, and someone I despised because she always seemed so put together, as if the world were her own personal treasure chest. "I'd rather kill myself than go near her."
I pushed to my feet, wobbling as another wave of dizziness struck. I meant to approach her, realized I'd fall, so remained in place, saying instead, "You can fuck the hell off." With that, I gave her and her dad a double-birded salute. "Feel free to kill yourself like you promised. Or maybe call me and I'll come over and do it for you."
There was a gasp. An enraged snarl.
My mom dragged me into the car after that. I hadn't cared at the time, but she'd cried the entire way home and shipped me to rehab that very evening.
Once I'd sobered up, the memory had embarrassed and shamed me. Still did. I'd made my own mother feel worthless, and I'd laughed about it.