During Earth’s Second Ice Age, Yardley Van Dyke promised her dying mother she'd care for their family by growing food in their greenhouse. Her family dynamics change when her dad’s fiancé pushes him to sell it. Hoping to prove her intergalactic garden works in space, Yardley joins a shuttle going to the planet Venus. She knows the show-off captain, Marchand LaFond, her brother’s best friend. He’s a thief.
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Chapter One excerpt:
From the living room Dad’s voice charged its way to the front porch swing. He and his fiancé were at it again. Just terrific.
Hunkered under a fur-lined quilt, Yardley Van Dyke’s head pounded, worsened by the frigid air. As if trapped in a vise, pain squeezed hard from both temples. On the swing she faced forward with her back against the house. Against them. Between them. With their fight on its fourth day, they battled over her late mother’s greenhouse.
Yardley tended it all day, every day.
His fiancé, Pinky Hazelton, wanted to sell it and move into the Biosphere with its profits. Powerless with her at the top of the pecking order, her mouth strained. Around Pinky, she forced it into a straight line.
Why did Dad ignore her promise to her dying mother? For three years, she’d grown food for the family. Mom’s hodge-podgy structure protected plants against the freeze of Earth’s second ice age. Yardley met the challenge of gardening in the frigid hinterlands, but without a surplus to sell, she had the low pro of a subsistence gardener. She reined in ideas to maximize sunlight although her latest effort worked.
Discarded Mylar balloons reflected light. With fifty mounted, she pinched fewer dead leaves. Under the quilt she balanced a basket of peas on her lap, proof of success from her dirt-candy world. Yardley took a pod, tore down the string, and dumped peas into the basket.
Inside the cabin Pinky screamed, “Time is running out.” Timeliness, a variation of her hammering technique, arose with every current event.
“I’ll think on it.” Dad’s voice razzed like a trombone.
“Better be quick.” As Pinky squawked about the essence of time, the trombone cranked louder and louder. Their bombardment sent Yardley a wakeup call.
Her hands shook, and she stopped shelling for one reason. She predicted their routine. Dad blew a gasket before giving in. After that, Pinky won.
He yelled, “Stop needling me, Pinky.”
Hearing a smash, Yardley jerked upright. A crashed dish against the wall? She had no idea what would come next. A flipping of a table?
His fiancé screamed, “Yeah? Put this in your data bucket. An ice cap moves south.”
She imagined Dad’s face turning beet red as he fumed just short of a gasket-blow.
Rubbing one side of her head, she faced the frigid combination of family tension and the twenty-second century ice age. Their now quiet cabin in Newport Beach, California sat in an Arctic spruce forest with northern Siberian climate suffering an annual drop of five degrees.
“Cold, colder, and about to be coldest.” Pinky filled the vacuum with truth, but was timing immediate?
“You know, Pinky. While I tested you out, you took over.” Dad’s off-topic roar revealed bitterness, but he’d come around to her side.
“Good thing I did. Want to sit on a polar ice cap? It kills everything that’s not dead.”
Sick of listening to them, Yardley’s gaze shifted to the porch steps. With the inclement weather, they’d turn slick. She’d slip and spill her peas if she stepped down them to walk the path to the greenhouse. Not quite done shelling, a syrupy voice came through the rough-hewn triple-plank wall.
“I don’t want you dead, sweetheart.” Pinky’s wear-down entered its completion stage.
An icy gust blew strands of hair across Yardley’s face. She groaned and let it be. If she moved her hands, she’d spill the pods. Her thoughts shot from the greenhouse issue to a parallel problem. Without the greenhouse, she’d be a non-contributing eighteen-year-old still living at home. Pulling the quilt over her head, she preferred the ice-age temperature to hanging out with them.
Using a chipmunk voice on herself cheered her up. Yardley, there’s no work for you. Run along, won’t you?
Inside the cabin Pinky fueled her hissy fit with a nightmare. “Oh, Robert,” she said, “I had a bad dream.” Pinky’s premonitions often came in this form. “If we stay here, we’ll die of full-body frostbite.”
The chipmunk squeaked in her mind. Bit of a cold snap.
“No one wants that.” Dad’s tone warmed up.
Yardley’s throat tightened. She swallowed a lump of raw emotion but refused to cry or give into defeat. She listened to Dad’s steady voice as he brought up hidden expenses at the Biosphere. “Selling the greenhouse might get us in, Hon. But can we afford it long term?”
Right on, Dad. Don’t give up.
“Sweetheart, we need a contract.” Within the cabin, the drama queen spoke matter-of-factly. “I know people at BotGen Incorporated.”
Yardley cringed, wishing she had the means to incorporate the pink-yappy hour. Since when had Pinky become a member of Botany General’s inner circle? A few minutes passed, and they stopped talking. Was smooch-kissy-face going on? Great.
Somewhere inside, her twin brother wandered about. At times like this, Skeeter bugged the crap out of her. Nothing about Pinky bothered him including her obsession to watch century-old movies. A few nights ago he’d shared his crush on a girl who lived at the Biosphere. Yardley had nowhere to go.
During the feature, BRING IT ON, Pinky turned into a cheerleader with rah-rahs for Sharlene Mantis. Snobnoxious Sharlene wore brand new argyle sweaters and talked about how much they cost. Ugh. Yardley pressed a palm against her stomach. The idea of fitting in with the Biosphere’s upper crust made her want to hurl. Didn’t Skeet know? Without money and status, their family was low on both counts. She didn’t share Pinky’s worship of BioGen’s tippy top, particularly Sharlene’s grandmother, Gwendolyn Mantis. After a run-in with the octogenarian CEO, her late mother had stood up for herself, a singular rarity.
From far away, her dog barked, alerting her of someone’s approach. She decoded all of Honeydog’s vocalizations, and this one didn’t imply danger. Guessing a hunter and not a charging moose, she didn’t unsheathe her paring knife. Willing herself to calm down, she centered her thoughts on the prize she’d won for her gardening talent.
If her mom were alive, she’d bring out the china plates and the linen tablecloth for a dinner in her honor. Her inner chipmunk started up. You rock, Yardley. Your awesome prototype will make you famous.
When? She gazed at the trees, and brittle branches danced in the squall. Balancing on the swaying porch swing, she folded and refolded her certificate. She wanted to crawl into its pleats and cuddle up against words such as congratulations, bestow upon, and honor. Wiping an angry tear from her cheek, she held the precious paper against her swelling heart. The sensation made a gradual change into rigid pride.
Would her BotGen certificate, proof of her accomplishment and hers to keep, lead to concrete recognition? Job independence had to come next, the only way to be these days. The check’s intended purpose of college tuition had to be bypassed. Dad needed the ten thousand for expenses. Not enough to move into the Biosphere, the greenhouse sat on Pinky’s auction block.
Kathleen Rowland writes multicultural, heart-stopping romantic suspense. With an M.S. in Computer Science, she outlines characters and flow-charts plots before weaving fast-paced action. A regular presenter of on-line point of view classes for Romance Writers of American chapters, Kathleen also teaches writing at her local library in Southern California. Her publishing credits include adult romantic suspense with Amira Press, Whiskey Creek Press, and Eternal Press. When her grandchildren asked to read her stories, she switched to writing a new series for teens.
Her YA/NA INTERVENUS series captures the essence of two futuristic locals, ice age Earth and newly habitable planet Venus. Up against powerful Botany General Incorporated, rugged protector Marchand LaFond and intergalactic gardener Yardley Van Dyke use all the skills at their disposal to survive. As they figure out who they are, they search for answers, sometimes clash, fall into danger— and into love.
Coming from a long line of storytellers, writing fiction comes naturally to Kathleen Rowland. Always looking for adventure, she cherishes time with her husband, Gerry, whether it’s sailing, world travel, or walking the dogs. Having raised three sons and two daughters, they are empty nesters whose family is a huge source of pride and enjoyment.
Keep track of Kathleen at the following sites:
Thanks Kathleen, I love having your book on my site,