Okay, here comes the disclaimer: This excerpt is from an unedited work in progress. It might change (and probably will) before the final draft! It might even disappear from the final work altogether. I’m sharing it here in a spirit of fun, to give a glimpse into the world I’m writing. Enjoy!
As they made their way back to their shuttle, Paloma heard shouts, the sound of people running toward them. She spun, dropping to a crouch, both guns out and ready. Every hair on her neck prickled as she watched a child running as hard as he could in their direction. Seeing the thugs running behind him, it wasn’t hard to imagine what had inspired that look of terror on the kid’s face. So many little ones were left to fend for themselves while their parents worked, the temptation to take—food, money, clothing—was always there and no one to teach them it was wrong but the people they dared take it from.
Suddenly seething, she tossed one of her guns to the side, and shouted “Oy, ‘Queño!”
The kid heard her shout, saw her gesture, and his little legs started pumping harder. He launched himself into her open arms, legs wrapping around her as she leveled her gun at his pursuers. She felt Ruy at her back, his guns also drawn.
“He’s coming with me.” She warned the thugs.
They backed down, but one whined. “He took my lunch.”
“And I’ll take your dinner and every fucking dinner after if you don’t get the fuck back.” She hissed, pushing her gun hand forward while the stinking, shaking child pissed down the front of her clothes.
The thugs weren’t going to take that chance over one skipped meal. They disappeared back into the maze of tents.
Fucking damn it. Now what? There was a fucking kid and piss all over her and she’d just said he was coming with her. She turned to face Ruy and the doctor, who was holding out her other gun. Grunting, she holstered the one she still held and took it from him.
“I’m sorry doctor.”
“Never apologize for compassion.” The little man smiled sadly at her. “I think the Captain will understand why we’ll have a passenger, at least until we get back to Sagan.”
The kid was still shaking in her arms. Paloma tilted his little face up. Couldn’t have been more than six or seven years old, and he was nothing but bones. Wide blue eyes met hers, trembling. She shushed into his filthy hair.
“Do you want to ride in a boat?” She whispered. The little shit rewarded her with a solemn nod that made her heart ache. “What about your mama?”
“Ain’t got her no more.”
And so it looked like Paloma would have a crash course in parenthood.