Welcome to my first contribution to the Discovery book tour. For those who happened upon here by Google, I am promoting my Catholic science fiction novel, which published Sept 18 from Full Quiver Press. In it, three religious sisters from an order that specializes in outer space search-and-rescue assist a team of scientists on a mission to the Kuiper Belt. There, they encounter a crashed alien ship and explore its technology, including a device that that gives you a glimpse into your own soul.
I originally planned on blogging about why I write Catholic SF, but I already do that on a couple of stops on this book tour. So instead, I’m treating you to a cut scene. Discovery started as a story about Sister Rita re-examining her calling as a result of falling in love, but over the eight years I rewrote and revised, it became much more complex. Still, the romance/not romance is a key subplot. Enjoy. Then go learn more about the book here.
“Where’s Ann?” Tommie asked.
Rita glanced up from the book she was reading–an actual paper book–and answered. “She went to visit OvLandra, something about adjusting one of her braces.”
“And she went alone?”
Rita shrugged. “I wasn’t invited. I understand zerog’s are very particular about who they invite to their quarters.”
Rita slapped her book onto the couch and sat up. “All right. Out with it!”
“With what?” Tommie stood poised in the middle of the room. She glanced at the door, and her fists clenched.
“Tommie, ever since we got this mission, you’ve been worrying over Ann like a hen over its chick! Now either tell me what’s going on or stop it because you’re driving me nuts!” When Tommie hesitated, she pressed. “We’re sisters. And we’re a team. Are we really going to have secrets?”
Tommie looked at her a moment, deciding–or maybe expecting her to back down. When she met her steady gaze for steady gaze, Tommie at last huffed.
“Fine.” She sat in the overstuffed chair, back straight, arms and legs crossed. “You first.”
“I–what?” Rita gave a start of surprise, and felt a small surge of guilt.
If Tommie noticed, she gave no indication. Of course, she hardly needed to. “I wasn’t always a nun, Rita. One minute, you and James Smith work just fine together, chatting away like old friends. The next, you can’t meet each others’ eyes. What is he to you?”
With a long sigh, Rita hunched over and let her face drop into her hands. She ran her fingers through her hair. “I thought we were talking about Ann.”
“What is he to you?” Tommie repeated.
“Nothing! No, I mean… Nothing like what you’re thinking. We taught together at TTUI. We were friends. Good friends–nothing more.”
Tommie nodded, her demeanor softening just a bit. “Because you fled to our Order?”
Rita could feel the tremor in her hands. She clasped them together in her lap. “I had to. He was a priest. He’d hinted that we could have something…different. I thought, if I left…”
“And now he’s here, freed of his vows.”
“I’m still tied to mine.” Rita rubbed her ring finger, the one where every Rescue Sister received a wedding band tattoo when they took final vows. Her bare ring finger. She met Tommie’s eyes and knew what her fellow nun was thinking.
“I’m not cheating on my vows,” she told her.
Tommie leaned forward and covered her hands with her own. “You’re not that type. I know that. But are you going to be okay on this mission?”
Rita felt her eyes and nose sting and shut her eyes against unwanted tears. “Do I have a choice? We’re stuck together for the next eight months. I’ll be fine.”
Rita took a deep, shuddering breath and sat back. “So now you know–can we talk about Ann?”