Project Mars Book 2
by Jacey Holbrand & Elizabeth Monvey
Genre: M/M SciFi Romance
In the future, be careful who you trust…
Ben Stockton lives on a dying Earth. A poisoned atmosphere and fertility issues are only two of the reasons people flock to the Project Mars Lottery, hoping to win a chance to go to the Red Planet. When Ben’s husband, Dain, is targeted as a potential DNA donor, the once exciting prospect of starting over turns into a nightmare.
Forced to work for the governmental scientific agency, Sector, Dain is sent to Mars on a secret mission, while Ben has to remain behind. Separated from each other, they try to cling to the memories of their love as well as the hope that one day they’ll be reunited.
But Sector has different plans for the couple. Unbeknownst to Ben, Sector has used him as a test subject in a desperate bid to cure the sterility problems facing the human race. Impregnated and left alone, Ben stumbles upon the underground resistance. It will take all his strength to find the love of his life before Dain is lost to him forever.
Hours had passed since he’d signed that fucking contract, and doubts swirled around in his brain, assaulting him with questions if there weren’t something else he could’ve, should’ve, done. The logical side assured him there’d been no other choice. Sector held all the medical technology to save Ben’s life, so he supposed it didn’t much matter now. All he could do was go forward with Ben’s treatments until the PWP had been eradicated from his lungs, and then once he was cured, figure out how the hell to get from under Sector’s thumb.
Time trickled by slowly, and it was hard to keep his impatience in check. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the door slid open, and Ben stepped inside. Dain jumped to his feet and pulled him close for a tight hug.
“What happened?” Ben asked, the question slightly muffled since his face was pressed into Dain’s shoulder. “I was told I have PWP and then was taken in for treatment. They zapped the chip in my wrist. Did you do something?”
“Not here,” Dain muttered. He pulled back and stared at Ben. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m feeling fine,” Ben replied, frowning. “But you’re freaking me the hell out.”
Dain took hold of his hand, linking their fingers. “Come on. We have a lot to talk about.”
It didn’t take them long to leave Sector, although Dain felt them being watched as they donned their breathers before making their way out of the glass building, quickly getting on a train that would take them back to their home. Through the entire trip, he refused to let go of Ben’s hand, knowing their world was about to change.
When they got home, he was relieved that Nate and Ranger weren’t around. He and Ben had things to talk over and decide before family came into the picture. Once inside, Dain grabbed two beers and handed one to Ben.
“So why would Sector give me such an expensive treatment?” Ben asked, taking the beer and sitting down on the couch. “They don’t help people like me, so I’m thinking you must have passed their tests.”
“I didn’t take their tests,” Dain replied grimly. “I didn’t have to. Like I thought, they engineered finding the right DNA, and I happened to be the unlucky schmuck Cara Mia found.”
“What … do you have to jack into a cup or something?”
“That’s exactly what I asked.” Dain shook his head. “But no. It’s a little more complicated than that.”
“You don’t have to screw women or anything, do you? Because hell no!”
“No, nothing like that,” he said, sitting next to him. “Ben, listen, Doctor Trask said they would cure you of PWP if I agreed to go to Mars. So, I had to sign the contract. I had to make sure you were going to be okay.”
“Wait, wait. What does that mean? What contract?”
Dain took a deep breath. “There’s a lot of unrest on Mars. More than even I thought. There’s a resistance that’s taken hold there, and Trask wants me to find the leader and kill him.”
“No, you can’t! That’s … that’s murder.”
“And what am I supposed to do? Let you die? Don’t ask me to do that. I will do the shittiest, most godawful thing in the world to make sure you are okay.”
“What if I don’t want you to do that for me? Your soul is not worth mine.”
Dain ran a finger down Ben’s cheek. “The deal’s already done.”
“Damn you,” Ben muttered softly. “The fucking nanotech is inside me. I was told they would die off once their job was finished. For Sector to invest that much in a nobody, they must really trust you.”
“I’m not sure if that’s the case or the fact I left Sector with secrets they don’t want anyone to know.”
“If you go to Mars, will I go with you?”
“I don’t think that’s in their plans,” Dain replied. “I get you healthy, and they get me.”
“No,” Ben said firmly. “I won’t let them have you. So, let’s figure out what we’re going to do.”
“The only thing you have to do is get completely well. That’s paramount.”
“That might take a couple of weeks,” Ben reminded him. “I’m supposed to go back to get my clean bill of health.”
“Good,” Dain said. “Which is why we keep up the pretense of me going to Mars for a great job or something, and you stay here.”
Ben grabbed his hand. “I’m not leaving you.”
“Of course not,” Dain assured, squeezing back. “We have to play this smart. The most important thing is your health, so as soon as the nanotech do their job, I’ll figure out some way to get back to Earth. I don’t care about going back on my agreement with them once you’re cured.”
“I don’t trust Sector.”
“I don’t either,” Dain said. “That’s why, while you’re here waiting for a clean bill of health, you can fly under the radar and find others who don’t trust Sector. There’s a resistance on Mars and a resistance on Earth. The more we know, the more we can protect ourselves.”
Project Mars Book 1
In the future, be careful who you trust.
Nathaniel Stockton and Grover Silas Ranger are faced with the ultimate test to their relationship when the Project Mars Lottery comes to town. Nate wins a chance to have his dreams come true: to live and work on the red planet with his love. Yet his husband, Ranger, doesn't see the point of going from one bad place to another. But an evil organization called Sector has a completely different idea for the couple.
Kidnapped, experimented on, impregnated, and sent to Mars, Nate realizes too late he trusted the wrong people.
Ranger fights to find a way to Nate. Will he make it to his love before their dreams and lives are irrevocably broken by distance, a pregnancy, and the corrupt agency?
“Huh. There’s nothing in here describing in detail what the studies involve.”
“So? Whatever they do, don’t you think it’ll be worth it? We either make money to go to Mars, or we go to Mars on their dime.” Whatever they do? A chill ran through Nate. Maybe this is too good to be true. “I don’t know. I was hoping for a bit more info before I made a decision. They’ve included a lot of legal stuff… An NDA, a waiver, an NCC but no particulars. What if they give us a drug that causes irreparable harm to us? Who knows what kind of side effects we’ll experience?”
“Is there a number in there? Or a link to an FAQ to find some answers to your questions?”
“No. There isn’t. I’m telling ya,” he waved the page, “this all seems—”
Before he could say, “fishy,” an intense rapping sounded on their front door.
Nate shrugged when Ranger glanced at him with questions in his gaze. Ranger went to find out who was there.
“Nathaniel Stockton?” a big, beefy male dressed in a black t-shirt and black pants inquired when Ranger greeted him. Two more huge men, dressed the same, flanked the first.
“No. That’s me,” Nate said coming up behind his husband.
Across the hall, a door opened. One of the brutes shifted to check it out, and Nate caught a glimpse of one of his neighbors. A scrawny man, who was a sliver in the doorway and couldn’t block the sight of the cubicles filling the living area. From what Nate and his roommates knew of their neighbors, at least ten people lived in the apartment across the way, dividing up the space with the compartments and sharing the kitchen and bathroom as common areas. Cubicle living was a step up from the cage housing Nate had heard of, but it was still sad the only way to afford a roof over a person’s head was to shove together in already cramped quarters.
The neighbor gasped at the sight of the burly guys and slammed his door.
“Good,” the one asking for Nate said. “Come with us.”
Ranger put his arm out and blocked the doorway. “He’s not going anywhere. Not without explanation and not without me.”
“Move to the side, sir. We have orders to bring Mister Stockton with us.” The huge bodyguard-type man stepped forward.
“Orders?” The chill Nate had felt earlier returned. “By who?”
“By Sector.” Doctor Horrigan came into view. His uber-white, toothy grin appeared sinister. “Doctor Trask had us on standby. You’ve received the package of information about the study?”
“If you could call it that,” Nate supplied. “More forms and legalities than anything about the study.” Something’s not right. Nate’s unease grew. His skin reacted as if thousands of tiny, nipping bugs crawled all over him. Then what the doctor had said clicked. “Trask said you guys weren’t affiliated with Sector.”
“I believe Doctor Trask mentioned we are not associated with the lottery.” Doctor Horrigan winked and shifted his mouth to a half smile. “As for the forms, they explained the compensation, though, correct?”
“Nate, who’s this guy?” Ranger looked over his shoulder at him.
“Doctor Horrigan. The dude who delivered the bad news to me at the lottery exams.”
“And the man who will make your dreams come true,” the doctor added, sounding like one of the shiftless salesmen down on the street corners selling their fake cure-alls. “Now, if you’ll come with us, we can start you two on your new lives.”
Ranger dropped his arm, moved, and filled the doorway with his body. “We haven’t made a decision yet about joining the study. We haven’t signed anything. You can’t take us anywhere.”
The burly men closed in on the doctor as if they expected a fight to break out in any moment.
The doctor held up a hand. His grin disappeared. “Sure. Okay,” he said in a snarky tone. “But, really, what is there to think about? All that money?” His voice sounded edgy, almost on the verge of frantic anger. “It’s more than the two of you will ever make. It’s a no-brainer. That’s why we arrive at potentials’ homes right after they receive the download. This way there’s no delay in doing what needs to be done and starting on the new path.” He narrowed his gaze at Nate. “I thought you wanted to go to Mars.” Lord, help me, of course I do.
Jacey Holbrand believes life and love comes in all forms and should be celebrated. She’s committed to her muse and writing so she can share her stories with readers. Hot days. Sexy nights. Come play in her world. Jacey loves to hear from readers!
Jacey Holbrand and Elizabeth Monvey are happy to present the second book – Future, Betrayed – in the Project Mars series they’ve developed. They’ve been having fun creating a futuristic world in which humans are living and loving on Earth and on Mars while fighting to survive the outrageous ministrations of rogue scientists in an agency called Sector. They have four books so far in the works in the series. Book one – Future, Broken – is available through eTailers. Books three and four, as of this writing, are works in progress. But for now, here’s a brief word from author Elizabeth Monvey.
A few months ago, Jacey and I got together to do a brainstorming writing session at a local coffee house. I love these sessions because Jacey has a wonderful imagination and she really inspires my own. We had previously talked about writing a book together and this was when we started throwing ideas back and forth. I’m not sure who mentioned colonizing Mars, but I remember thinking that it was a brilliant idea.
A few years ago was the film The Martian and I really enjoyed it. Television shows like Ancient Aliens and Expedition Unknown had featured what humans are doing now to colonize the Red Planet. When it was time to write Betrayed, I wanted to take the world deeper into the resistance, so I actually kept Total Recall (the Schwarzenegger one) in my head. The Easter Egg is to see if readers can figure out where I put an homage to the film.
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