I am a Faith Hunter fan. Love her books. Adore her characters. So I am honored to host a stop on her blog tour for Junkyard Bargain. Because I so enjoy her stories, I am going to give away one of her books in my next newsletter. Here’s a looksee at this audio offering:
Sometimes before you can face your enemies—you need to confront yourself.
Time is running out for Shining Smith and her crew to gather the weapons they need to rescue one of their own. But will they even make it to the ultimate battle? First, they’ll need to hit the road to Charleston—a hell ride full of bandits, sex slavers, corrupt lawmen, and criminal bike gangs looking to move in on Shining’s territory.
Shining’s human allies will do anything to protect her—because they must. But will victory be worth it if she must compel more and more people to do her bidding? And will her feline warriors, the junkyard cats, remain loyal and risk their lives? Or are they just in it for the kibble?
Junkyard owner, Shining Smith, and her pals have an enemy nanobot queen to defeat, which means a trip to the nearby big city for supplies and weapons, including a battle tank hidden in a nearby swamp. Cupcake and the sentient cats are along for an easy ride, until an enemy biker gang brings war to them.
Shining must use all the bargaining skills she learned running her pop’s junkyard to get them equipped, all the tech she acquires to keep them safe, and all the military equipment she is obtaining and securing to rescue people they find along the way. And she can’t do it without the people who are bound to her: Mateo, Jagger, and Jolene. Shining must face and accept what she is and determine how she will survive and protect the ones she loves from the danger coming their way. For Shining, that means making a JUNKYARD BARGAIN.
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I spent nearly half of Smith’s Junk and Scrap’s profits on drinking water, and adding Cupcake to my expenses had already ruined this quarter’s budget. Since the Russians exploded WIMP bombs over Germany that punched a short-term hole in the magnetosphere, tore away the ozone layer, and wrecked the atmosphere, rain was a rarity everywhere, especially in the West Virginia desert. I usually got a shower only when I went into Naoma for supplies.
Cupcake talked nonstop through the rest of my breakfast about the water collection device and the long list of plant varieties she was planning. Finally, Cupcake wound down and said brightly, “I’ll feed the cats and get Mateo to bring the skids with our trade goods up to the entrance so we can pack the truck. I’m excited about our trip. It’ll be fun!”
Fun. Not the word I’d choose for a dangerous mission to gather the weapon we needed to kill Warhammer. “Good,” I lied.
She swept her blonde hair to the side, like a teenager. “Can I help you pack?”
“I’m packed.” She looked skeptical, so I added, “I packed the dress you insisted on.” I kept several duffels ready to go. All I had to dump in were the IDs and the toiletries for each trip’s purpose.
“I’ll bring the truck up, then. I did a full eval on the electronics and a mech assessment yesterday. We’re ready to go.”
I stared at her. “You do evaluations and assessments?” That was new.
“Mateo loaned me one of his Berger chips. Once I plugged in the info, it was a piece of cake.” Briskly, she gathered up my dirty dishes and placed them in the sink where she wiped them with a rag and spritzed them with cleanser before leaving them to dry, the citrusy scent almost overriding the rotten-meat smell. She grabbed the tray and the tablecloth one-handed, carried kibble out the inner airlock, and rattled cat food into the metal pans before opening the outer airlock. I heard eager cat sounds as they came running. Cupcake closed the inner airlock and left me alone.
A little nauseated from the stench, I carried the bubble-wrapped finger to the med-bay, opened the hood, and set the unit to T.O.D and C.O.D—time of death and cause of death—and Identify. I could have used the portable viber, but I needed more info than it would provide.
I closed the clear plasticized med-bay hood, started the process, and waited. The finger was small and bloody and dead. I had no actual proof yet, but the finger delivery had to be related to Harlan and his death. I’d taken out most of Warhammer’s no-longer-human nest, but she and her primary mate had gotten away. I couldn’t let that stand. As soon as I had the weapons and the location, I was going to war. Part of that would be a complicated, dangerous, and beyond expensive fight-my-way-through-to-Charleston expedition.
If this finger belonged to the person I feared it did, I was going to have to adjust my plans, incorporate a rescue into the war, and move up my timetable, fast.
The med-bay dinged. On the screen, I read the name I had been fearing: Captain Evelyn Raymond, second-in-command of the USSS SunStar.
“Bloody damn,” I whispered. I fell onto the dinette seat and put my head on the old laminated tabletop. “Damndamndamn.” I sucked in air against my anger, wishing I hadn’t promised Pops I’d never say fuck. It would be so satisfying right now. “DamndamnBloody… Gaaah!” I raised my head and stared, unseeing, into my living space, breathing through the fury and frustration. As Mateo and I had long feared, Clarisse had captured Evelyn Raymond. We had to rescue her.
I rested my head on the cheap tabletop until my temper cooled, sat upright, blew out a breath, and centered myself. I envisioned Tuffs, the original queen and Guardian Cat of the Junkyard Cats. Within seconds, Tuffs and her court were at the inner airlock, chasing all the hungry cats away, claiming territory.
I let in the cats and they raced everywhere, exploring. Tuffs brought a different batch each time she came to visit, the Guardian Cat making sure all her pride members knew the layout of the office and where the food was kept. I also knew that if I somehow died, they would devour my body until there was nothing left but bones and teeth. They had feasted on human flesh. They liked it.
Tuffs jumped onto the table and sat. I retook my place across from her and lowered my head. She put her head against mine. We didn’t have to touch to communicate, but it helped. I sent a picture vision of our heads touching, followed by a picture vision of the world as viewed from the front gate, looking away from the junkyard. Then a picture vision of a big truck rolling down the road in a cloud of dust, me driving and Spy, a pride member, sitting on the dash. Last, I sent one of my head and Spy’s touching.
Tuffs reared back and said, Sisssss, hissing at me, showing her teeth, saying in her very pissed-off cat-speak, No!
I had been afraid of that. Spy would not be joining our mission.
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