The Cambria Code Trilogy by S.M. Schmitz
Includes Peyton's Myth, Peyton's Promise, and Peyton's Light
Discovering we're not alone in the universe can be a blessing and a curse.
When a mysterious spaceship appears above Cambria, Zoe remains skeptical that it’s anything but an elaborate hoax. By the time the first spaceship is joined by two others, Zoe finally admits that Earth has been invaded, even though it’s a pretty lame invasion: The aliens look remarkably human and keep to themselves. From what reporters are able to learn about them, they seem incredibly arrogant and boring anyway.
When Zoe meets Peyton, the Security Chief for Earth's newest residents, her opinion of them finally begins to shift, although she is reluctant to become involved with someone who isn’t even human. But she soon discovers that these aliens are far more dangerous than they’ve led everyone to believe, and the secrets they are hiding may signal the destruction of her entire planet.
Excerpts from Peyton’s Myth, book one of The Cambria Code trilogy, that show Zoe’s progression from meeting Peyton to traveling across the universe with him to falling in love.
On meeting Peyton for the first time:
Zoe dug her phone out of her pocket to check her email while she waited. Apparently, the typing that had preoccupied Mia had been an email taunting her and telling her she’d been wrong about the plane being a spacecraft, she’d been wrong about these people being human, and she was wrong about them being an Invading Alien Asshole Army. Zoe hardly looked up from her phone when she heard her name called. She plucked the hot coffee cup up from the counter, mumbled a quick thanks, and kept typing one-handed as she left the Starbucks to go back to work.
She was so busy typing her well-thought out argument with her coworker, that she wasn’t paying attention and didn’t even see the man she walked right into. Her phone slipped from her hand and she reflexively squeezed the coffee cup so she wouldn’t drop it, which caused the hot coffee to erupt like a volcano all over her hand and arm.
Zoe yelped and dropped the cup anyway.
“Are you all right?” the man asked.
He grabbed her hand to examine it, but Zoe pulled it away from him.
“No, I’m not all right!” she cried. She was about to yell at him for grabbing her, but the unusual accent caught her attention and as she looked up from her pink, burning hand, she recognized this man, this beautiful face. She’d seen him once before.
“You’re one of them,” she whispered. Zoe held her hand to her chest and the man kept his eyes on her injury.
“You should see a doctor.”
Zoe shook her head slowly. “It’s not serious.”
He lifted his eyes to meet hers and she noticed they were almost blue, but not quite. There was something unusual about their color, too. Much like the way they spoke, there was something slightly off about them but she couldn’t tell what.
On agreeing to return to his home planet with him:
“Then you’re out of options. You have to go home, Peyton.”
Peyton closed his eyes and ran his fingers through his thick auburn hair. “Ok. But only on one condition.”
Zoe pulled the blankets higher around her waist and asked, “What’s that?”
“You come with me.”
“Peyton,” Zoe gasped.
He opened his eyes, so full of a sadness and pain and permanent loss. “I can’t go back there alone.”
“And I can’t be her. I can’t be your sister.”
“I don’t want you to be. I don’t expect you to be. I’m not trying to be coercive, but I can’t even propose this to Jeffrey if I know I’m stepping foot on that planet again without everything I’d loved most.”
Zoe’s heart beat so fast and so hard, she felt deafened by the sound of it. And that irrational part of her brain spoke too quickly, too irrationally and irresponsibly and recklessly.
“Ok, Peyton. I’ll go.”
On her depression after leaving Earth and falling in love with a man who often acts like he can’t accept her love:
Peyton’s strong arms reached over to her and wrapped around her, lifting her from her seat and pulling her to his lap where he kept his arms around her firmly and protectively. When he kissed her, Zoe felt the cold and fear and pain chased away by a warmth that rushed throughout her body. His hand slipped beneath her shirt and grazed the skin on her back and she pulled at the hemline of the shirt on his uniform, gently tracing her fingers along the hard muscles on his abdomen.
When he broke their kiss, gasping and trying to catch his breath, Zoe knew he would pull away from her again, that he would tell her, once more, how he couldn’t walk this path with her. She could already feel the black edges of that dark pool creeping back toward her. But Peyton didn’t tell her he needed to leave now or that he loved her but could never offer her more than his friendship. He placed his hands on the sides of her face and looked into her eyes and told her, “I love you so much.”
“Then stay with me,” Zoe whispered. “Tonight. Every night. Stay with me.”
Peyton kissed her again and lifted her onto the table and she pulled his shirt off, running her hands softly down his chest to the edge of his pants and he moaned quietly as his lips left gentle kisses down her neck and across her shoulder blade. Part of her wanted to beg him to rip her clothes off while part of her wanted him to just keep touching her and kissing her, sending out those ripples of light that banished the darkness. She thought maybe if he kissed her and touched her enough, he could banish that darkness forever.
S.M. Schmitz is a USA Today Bestselling Author and has an M.A. in modern European history. She is a former world history instructor who now writes novels filled with mythology and fantasy and, sometimes, aliens.
Her novels are infused with the same humorous sarcasm that she employed frequently in the classroom, and as a native of Louisiana, she sets many of her scenes here. Like Dietrich in Resurrected, she is convinced Louisiana has been cursed with mosquitoes much like Biblical Egypt with its locusts.
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