Sylvestine Amera is the manager of the Mars Best-Tycho Basin Hotel. When her first alien visitors arrive on planet, Syl is faced with solving numerous challenges. Not the least of having Dedare Sath rubbing her cheeks in a gesture she is curious to understand. Irion customs are different than what she is used to, but when Dedare who owns a hotel on Irion asks her to leave Mars and manage his flagship hotel, she is more than ready to leave her home planet behind.
Once on the alien planet Syl is subjected to new customs, more alien encounters, adventures, not to mention romance. The only problem is now she has three aliens interested in her. But before Syl is able to choose a mate, a former girlfriend of Dedare's and several other nemeses attempt to take her out of the equation—permanently. She can't help but wonder if her out of the world experience is worth dying for.
|Publisher:||The Wild Rose Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.69(d)|
Read an Excerpt
For some reason, my com always rings when I try to relax. After spending ten hours running the Mars Best-Tycho Basin hotel today, unwinding had been my first priority tonight.
"Syl, you need to get back," squeaked James, one of my front desk staff. His face appeared on the small screen of my com, a sheen of sweat on his dark face.
"Why?" James tended to be an alarmist, and his slumped posture confirmed his distress.
"Something ... There's a situation I can't handle." He took a big gulp of air. "We've got aliens!"
The recent discovery of more than one alien species, and the lack of information regarding them, meant the Mars Best hotel chain's human resources had yet to develop appropriate customer service training modules for its employees.
"An excellent reason to call, James. Where are you?" I actually knew where he was from his surrounding background, but talking would ease his anxiety.
A small smile graced his face. His shoulders relaxed a trifle. My encouragement had hit its mark.
"I'm in your office. I asked Sue to take check-in information from the two new guests."
I reminded myself to ask Sue later if she'd discovered any glitches in our registration software. "Are you sure they're aliens?"
"Oh, yes." Although his face flushed, his voice carried no doubt. "From what I've seen on the news, they're Irions."
"By the way, how did you communicate with them?"
"Who? Yes, yes. Sorry. I don't know how I understood them, and I never thought about them understanding me." His gaze darted about.
Not a bright question, I admonished myself. "What do our visitors require?" I asked, to get both of us back on track.
"A two bedroom suite and Earth furnishings are fine." A normal request helped James relax a bit more, and relief flooded my mind. Hotel management had yet to provide alien furniture, and I hadn't even thought to ask. Some hotel manager I was. I knew aliens would eventually want to stay in our hotel, and I'd done nothing to anticipate providing for their comfort. Even though the few alien species discovered so far breathed oxygen, and the gravity on Mars would suit Irions, although a trifle heavy, I'd been neglectful in my managerial preparations.
I thought for a moment. "Here's what you need to do. Suggest to the Irions they relax in the lounge. Tell them their suite is being cleaned and will be ready momentarily. Get housekeeping up to the Houston Suite to do a fast and perfect cleaning. Actually, ask Sue to settle our guests in the lounge and arrange for free refreshments." Sue's poise would handle the situation, and gain me a bit of time.
Bouncy had become James' middle name today.
"James," I said, in a voice loud enough to get his attention, "do you require instruction regarding your next actions?" "No, no. I'll get right on it. I'm so glad I called. I didn't know what to do. My mind emptied of any ideas on how to handle this situation." On the com, James took a deep breath and briefly closed his eyes.
The Irions had discovered our solar system last year, but so far the Martian public had only received vague images from our news networks.
I knew my good friend Hart Adair, a scientist, had struggled to find out everything he could about the Irions, but the information he'd been able to access had been minimal.
On our last get-together, he'd offered a few tidbits. The gravity on the Irion's home planet was a bit lighter than Mars, but the oxygen in their atmosphere compared to Earth — thank goodness. Hart had found out Irion was going through a bit of a dry cycle, but they still had adequate water for plant and population sustenance. And, apparently, the governments of Mars and Irion were in contact.
Now added to my to-do list would be finding out what other alien species might be popping in for a visit.
Although humans had only had a permanent presence on Mars for seventy-five years, we'd adjusted to the lower gravity and made a comfortable life. And we'd become independent from Earth. Although we could manufacture all necessities, we still imported goods to maintain a balance of trade with the home planet and, of course, the necessary tourist industry.
Grabbing a fresh blouse, pants, and jacket from my closet, I dressed, retied my hair, and took the elevator upstairs. The manager of a Mars Best hotel always lived onsite, and it hadn't taken me long to understand why. Being available twenty-four / seven, or the Martian equivalent, meant quick access. My recent promotion to manager had doubled my need for being nearby.
After entering the lobby, I found James at the spotted gray, marbled front desk. A few human guests lingered in the spacious brown and golden hued lobby. A quiet time of day.
"Is the Houston suite ready?" I asked, after he'd ended his call.
"Yes, that was housekeeping." James' hands flapped toward the com.
"Well done." Not a bad worker, but inexperienced. I decided to ramp up his training, particularly in difficult situations.
I turned and strode into the Lovell Lounge. The lounge's recent renovations had created a sparkly blue ambiance reminiscent of standing on an observation deck staring out into the depths of space. Most of the time, the colors and the impression of openness soothed, but now the appearance of aliens had tightened my stomach.
The predominantly humanoid Irions wore two piece costumes. The top garment included short sleeves or, more accurately, short flared fabric covering their glistening blue-tinged skin to the elbows, with the rest of the top clinging to their well-toned upper bodies. The looser bottom piece simulated baggy pants, and stopped a couple of inches above their bare three-toed feet.
The colors of their wardrobe complemented their skin, and the copper-colored pendants draped around their stubby necks. Their faces were of normal proportions, and their skin set off their brown eyes. Was brown the only color for Irion eyes?
Their six-fingered hands intrigued me. Did they have more dexterity than human hands? And their three-toed feet exuded stability. Would any of our floorings bother unadorned feet?
The older human male, who accompanied the Irions, sported cropped silver hair and a formal human suit. He stood after I reached their table. Glancing at my name tag, he said, "Ms. Amera, I'm Charles Clarke from the diplomatic corps. My assignment is to assist the Irions during their stay on Mars. May I introduce businessman Dedare Sath and his assistant Coline Tare?" He gestured to each as he made introductions. While he spoke, the aliens stood and their pendants flashed in various colors and patterns.
"Gentlemen, this is Ms. Sylvestine Amera, the manager of the Mars Best-Tycho Basin hotel."
I bowed. Should I greet them as I would normally receive a guest? I glanced at the ambassador for enlightenment.
Interpreting my questioning look, the diplomat said, "You may shake hands. Dedare and Coline understand the concept."
Touching their skin, I received the impression of fine sandpaper — dry but not unpleasant. Curious, but not sure who to ask, I said, "What type of greeting do Irions employ?"
"Touch heads," responded Dedare. Barely two seconds passed before he asked, "May I?"
I took a deep breath. Then I nodded an uncomfortable acceptance and tried to relax my shoulders. I hoped bashing heads together wouldn't hurt too much, I thought, as I bent my body slightly.
"Ms. Amera's head motion means agreement," clarified Charles Clarke. I noticed he sported a slight smile.
After Dedare's six-fingered hand touched my head, I straightened. As I took a step closer to Dedare, I perceived a faint aroma. The scent reminded me of a spice or two — perhaps pepper and allspice. Only a little taller than my own five-foot-eight inches, my hand encountered no difficulty in touching his warm and smooth hairless head. A pleasant experience, after all, especially since I thought Dedare meant we would touch our foreheads together.
Coline made no such greeting motion, so I decided the time had arrived to do my job. "Gentlemen, your suite is now ready. I'm sorry for the delay — the previous occupants checked out a bit late. Please follow me." A fabrication, but no harm done.
The four of us accessed one of the hotel's elevators and, at the entrance to their suite, I stopped and motioned the Irions inside.
"Ambassador, why are the Irions here?" I whispered. I wanted to gain control of the situation, and I needed information to formulate my decisions.
"I'm a lowly diplomat, just call me Charles."
His politician's smile didn't surprise me.
"After months of negotiations, including investigations by our scientists regarding contamination and other issues, Mars has received a party of four Irions. The two diplomatic staff are staying in our official accommodations, but Dedare Sath wanted a tourist facility. Dedare's quite innovative and curious. Of course, since this world is new to him, he's looking for opportunities as a businessman. Hopefully, their visit will prove beneficial for Martians and Irions alike."
I started to mentally fuss, but gave myself a lecture: Do your best and life will proceed as it should.
Easy for my conscience to say.
"Why did I not receive a heads-up?" I asked. A suite ready for the Irions, knowledge of their requirements ... I needed to be prepared and in control.
"I did leave a message for the general manager, ah, Simon Worth, some days ago, but he never returned my call."
Charles' answer surprised me. My boss, Simon, loved to micromanage. And receiving advance notice would have given me time for the appropriate preparations.
"Don't worry, Ms. Amera. The Mars Best chain's excellent reputation put your hotel first on the list of accommodations given to the Irions."
Nice to know, but my mind still swirled with questions. The important one being, "How do we understand each other? Did the Irions learn English?" "Those flashing chains around their necks are translators," said the ambassador, "but don't ask me how they work."
A topic to discuss with Hart, I decided. I motioned inside, and we entered the suite to find the Irions conferring.
"Manager Amera, accommodation is lovely," said Dedare Sath, turning to face us. "I understand why the Mars Best chain was suggested. Questions?"
"Of course, but call me Syl — my nickname." He had questions? Is that what he meant?
I interpreted his expression as confusion, so I explained, "A nickname is a shortened name — friendlier."
"Like the concept. Please call me Dedare."
Not much shorter, but I didn't have the heart to tell him so.
While Dedare and I walked through the suite, I answered his queries. How different were Irion accommodations? I vowed to ask for details at a suitable time.
"Manager Amera — Syl." Dedare paused for a moment. "I chose the Mars Best-Tycho Basin hotel because of your slogan Mars Best supplies your needs, or your stay is free. Innovative."
An interesting comment from an alien, I thought. How did Irions handle customer service? "I'll certainly endeavor to live up to the Mars Best motto. But you do understand this excludes any illegal activities and anything impossible — like time travel?" After glancing at Coline, Dedare said, "Yes."
"Any requirements?" I hoped not. My to-do list now included a rapid study of Irions.
"Zyre," said Dedare.
I glanced at Charles and then at the Irions. "What's Zyre?" "Let me find out," replied the ambassador. "Apparently, the translator has a missing word."
Charles tapped into his com while the three of us waited in silence — I had no idea how to make idle conversation with an Irion, but I'd be learning fast.
"Got it," said the diplomat. "Zyre means a pool of water." He smiled, pleased with his success.
Although I found his answer less than useful, I summoned up a smidgen of tact. "What kind of pool of water? Big? Small? What's it used for?" Images flashed through my mind — buckets of water, Olympic-sized swimming pools, rivers ...
"Meditation." Dedare interrupted my thoughts. "Large enough for sitting. Shallow."
Interesting. "How soon do you need Zyre? Will a day or so be appropriate?"
"Yes," said Dedare.
Although I had no idea how to accomplish this task, I'd received a day's respite. "Any other requirements?" Why did my job require asking these loaded questions?
"No. Accommodations are excellent. I would like to talk about Mars, but tomorrow. Coline and I need rest."
Dedare smiled. Or did his expression mean something entirely different?
After taking our leave of the Irions, Charles and I stopped at the front desk.
"Any recommendations?" I asked.
"Mars needs tourism, and having aliens on our planet will increase the excitement. Don't worry, Dedare is comfortable with you already. So relax and enjoy their stay."
How naïve. How was I supposed to enjoy their visit with the pressure of the world, the universe, upon me?
"Here's my contact information," said Charles, handing me a card. "The Irions are now in your hands. If you have any questions, or problems, give me a call."
After Charles left, I checked with my staff. Satisfied the hotel ran smoothly, I returned to my suite. Of course, everyone had sworn to call me the moment the Irions made any kind of appearance.
Before I'd finished a glass of wine and started my computer research, Simon called.
"Why haven't you updated me on our alien guests?" he sputtered.
The question from the general manager of the Mars Best hotel chain angered me. "Why didn't you tell me the Irions would be arriving?" I asked. "I had to improvise on the spot!"
Not that tactful — considering my probationary status. Then a thought popped into my mind — who told him the Irions were here?
Simon Worth blew out a breath. "My assistant forgot to give me Ambassador Charles' message. I had no idea they'd be staying at my hotel."
A big dollop of relief settled on my psyche, but I stared at him, on my com, anyway. I hoped my displeasure showed. His short stature, gray crew cut, and unpleasant nature were not enhanced by his perpetual frown. I really didn't like him, but I needed to suck it up and pretend otherwise.
"However, you should've called me after you settled them in their room. They're happy, right?" Simon ran his right hand through his hair, what there was left anyway.
"Yes, they're very happy — they complimented our facility. I'll be working closely with the Irions."
"Good. Keep me updated. Your future with Mars Best is riding on the Irions' well-being."
"Of course," I replied. What a jerk! If he wanted to micro-manage, I'd let him, but I wouldn't spill the news about my first challenge — a pool of water. If I did, he'd only interfere.
After a couple of glasses of wine, and unsatisfactory Irion research, I attempted to sleep.
Since I predicted a challenging day, I arrived to work early the next morning. "Any inquiries from our special guests?" I asked James, who sat behind the front desk.
"Not a peep. I would've called you right away." In a good mood, a smile threatened to emerge on his face.
"By the way, why are you here? Aren't you currently scheduled for afternoons?" Scheduling took up a goodly amount of my time.
"I changed shifts with Ariana. I want to be available when the Irions might appear."
James had become a convert. Would his interest become fanaticism? "Okay, but be classy. We need our new friends to encounter us at our best," I emphasized, although I had to smile at his enthusiasm.
"The Irions are so fascinating," James responded. "Did you know —"
I interrupted his bouncing. "We'll talk about your research later. Don't overdo your shifts. I need you alert and able to analyze any situation that might occur. I know you can do this."
James preened, sat up straighter, and tried to repress a grin.
Such a young one, I thought. However my office beckoned so I started walking. On my way, one of the elevator doors opened, and out stepped Dedare and Coline. With a gait resembling humans, they caught up to me.
"Syl, talk." Dedare approached and put his hand on my head. I reciprocated. Today I noticed the skin on his bald head seemed toned and not wrinkled. And the flecks of gold and silver in his brown eyes intrigued me. Certainly more than I'd noticed in my dazed first encounter yesterday.
"Locations chosen," said Dedare, after we'd completed our greeting.
What did he mean? "What kind of locations? Where do you want to go?"
"Visual understanding." Dedare clasped his hands, and then glanced at Coline.
Excerpted from "Alien Innkeeper"
Copyright © 2017 Roxanne Barbour.
Excerpted by permission of The Wild Rose Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was an OK read. It could have been great as I was drawn in and very interested in the characters. However a large portion of the book is spent on conversations that are are not relevant to understanding the characters, or driving the plot. Conversations about packing, then arranging to have more conversations about packing, the same conversations multiple times with the same people over the same subject There is also a ton of hotel management stuff which should have been interesting considering it's a new species and planet but it was made boring and bland, this left me frustrated and annoyed. If you can get past the mundane, this story has a good shell, and the author made me interested in the characters and the possibilities of what was to come.