GAVIN BALLER BOOK 1

"Sci-Fi comedy at it's best!"

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Greatest actor in Hollywood...Biggest disappointment in the universe!

 

Gavin Baller is about to learn that both those statements are 100% true. His Walk of Fame star can't save him now!

Aliens are chasing Gavin through Los Angeles and he might not survive long enough to sell the movie rights. Add some sewage to the mix and he's having a very bad day.

With his estranged best friend and a beautiful protector in tow, Gavin has to become the hero he's always pretended to be.

Can he escape and return to his celebrity lifestyle? More importantly, will he even want to?

What’s an egotistical actor to do?

If you enjoy Ernest Cline, Douglas Adams or Andy Weir, you'll LOVE Gavin Baller! Grab your copy of this unexpected and hilarious novel today! You won't be able to put it down!

PRAISE FOR GAVIN BALLER:

A self-absorbed actor in space? I don't usually go for sci-fi, but this one had me from the first page!’ - R.M.


Hilarious, thoughtful, and action-packed, Gavin Baller delivers. More please!’ - M.J.

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Gavin Baller Chapter 1

AMAZON REVIEWS

GAVIN BALLER: Chapter 1

FAKE PRESIDENTS AND REAL ALIENS

 

“Mr. President, I think it’s time you grabbed that rocket launcher and showed these alien bastards they invaded the wrong planet!”

Gavin Baller’s neck tightened like a steel cable, muscles straining against his purposely too-tight twill shirt. He contemplated Isabel’s words, knowing the appropriate response, but unable to reply. Lights beat down on him, accenting the white of the bald eagle on the United States circular seal at his feet. He leaned back and touched the wood of the Resolute Desk dramatically.

“I can’t.” Gavin shook his head, turning away from his co-star, and imploring the man sitting behind a large monitor to his right. “Bellamy, I’m sorry, but we need to change this line. I’m serious.”

Bellamy adjusted his Dodgers cap, massaging his neck. “Gavin, dude, just say the line.”

“It’s totally cliched dialogue.”

“It’s supposed to be totally cliched dialogue,” Bellamy countered. He took off his glasses and rubbed them against his shirt, replacing them over his dark Indian eyes. “We’ve been over this Gavin. You need to talk to Tracy if you want to make a change. I’m not pissing him off again. Remember, this is the Sharknado of alien dramas. Don’t over think it.”

Gavin walked toward the monitor, stepping past the camera from the carpeted Oval Office set to the concrete of the sound stage. A thick cologne fog hung around Bellamy like a physical barrier. Gavin leaned close to the man despite his body-spray-reek. “I’m just saying we can change the line and still have it get the cheese factor across without being derivative or pointlessly sexist.”

“Just say the line as-written, Baller.” The voice came from behind one of the Arri Alexa cameras. Gavin knew who it was before he saw the man.

“I was promised you wouldn’t be on-set,” Gavin said, turning toward Executive Producer Tracy Cummings as he walked over to Bellamy. The man thrust out his chest arrogantly, but his thinning hair and paunchy torso belied any physical authority he wanted to display. The Hawaiian-style shirt didn’t help either. Gavin stood a full head taller than Tracy and lorded over the shorter man with some enjoyment.

Tracy didn’t back off. “This is my production and I won’t have you throwing your weight around like you did on No Way but Down.”

Gavin pointed to Isabel, still standing in the fake Oval Office, but now engrossed on her phone. “If Izzy’s supposed to be the Vice President, she would never allow the leader of the free world to treat her like his own personal play-thing. It’s demeaning.”

“Have you ever known a V.P. that was a 29-year-old Victoria’s Secret model? This isn’t reality, Baller,” Tracy said, almost standing on his tip-toes to meet Gavin’s gaze. “You think a musclebound guy with hair to his shoulders like you would ever be President? You’re not Marlon Brando and this isn’t A Streetcar Named Desire. Do your job and go home.”

“This is the last time I do a cameo as a favor.” Gavin looked at Bellamy.

“We only have two more days of shooting, Gav,” Bellamy soothed, walking from behind the monitor and placing his hand on Gavin’s shoulder. The sting of powerful body spray assaulted his eyes. “Look, you want to be out of here by six for your birthday party, so I’ll tell you what: let’s run through it a few more times with the line from the script and then I’ll give you a few passes. Sound good?”

Tracy snorted roughly, pointing from the two men to himself. “You can do what you want, but I have final say at the end of the day.”

Bellamy’s teeth shined behind a counterfeit smile, eyes darting between the two powerful men. Gavin nodded, massaging his scalp through his long dark hair. He understood the director’s predicament, stuck between an A-lister and the most destructive executive producer in Hollywood.

“Fine,” Gavin said. “Let’s get this done.”

“Excellent! Back to one!” Bellamy shouted.

“Let’s earn some green, people!” Tracy shouted. “I need another plane.”

Gavin’s fist balled involuntarily. He could see the Variety headline: “Baller Punches Executive Producer.” He let out a frustrated breath and stepped back over to the desk and his beautiful co-star.

Cameras cued up, Bellamy yelled to start, and Isabell dutifully delivered her irony-soaked lines. “Mr. President, I think it’s time you grabbed that rocket launcher and showed these alien bastards they invaded the wrong planet!”

“Let’s kick some Martian ass!” Gavin said, eyes burning with the fury of a man about to slaughter an alien race. He picked up a shotgun from the desk and cocked it, grabbing Isabell to his chest and kissing her passionately on the lips.

“Oh, Mr. President,” she demurred.

“I chose you as my Vice-President for a reason.” Gavin cringed. He knew people would laugh in theaters, but felt the entire thing reeked of lowest-common denominator, sexist tripe. He wanted to throw the shot gun to Isabel after her line and say, “Let’s get presidential.” Still cheesy dialogue that would make people laugh but eliminated the overtly demeaning interplay.

They ran through the scene a handful more times as Tracy watched from over Bellamy’s shoulder until finally Gavin got his chance to change things around. Bellamy let him shift the scene how he wanted, but Gavin knew Tracy would never allow the footage to see the light of day.

“That’s it for the afternoon everybody,” Bellamy barked. “Keep the lights in-place for now since I want to shoot that pick-up first thing tomorrow before Hugh wraps up.”

“I want to see the dailies ASAP,” Tracy said, turning toward the exit on the far side of the sound stage. He called over his shoulder, “Give me your notes on the best takes and I’ll choose which we use along with the editing team.” He skipped happily out the door, stopping to compliment Isabel on the tightness of her dress.

“Prick,” Gavin said, loud enough for Bellamy to hear. The director smiled and nodded. Gavin pulled his phone out of his pocket, so he could concentrate on something other than his disdain for Tracy Cummings.

Two missed calls flashed on the screen; one from his father and the other from an unknown number. Only one had left a message. He cued up the voicemail app, turning back toward Bellamy. “You coming to the party tonight?”

The director pointed at a gaffer moving a light stand. “I said leave the lights! Put it back! Go coil some cable or something.” The gaffer shrugged and put the stand down. Bellamy turned to Gavin. “No, sorry. I promised my daughter I’d see her tonight. I haven’t been home much since we started filming. Your birthday’s a godsend.”

“Not a problem. We’ll miss you,” Gavin said, holding the phone to his ear.

The message started. “Gavin, this is Seth Kemp. Don’t ask me how I got your personal number. I’ve been trying to get through your publicist for weeks.”

Seth Kemp. High School memories flooded Gavin’s mind; he and Seth getting caught sneaking into a Counting Crows concert; crashing on Seth’s couch after Gavin’s mom died; rebuilding that stupid VW Bug. A smile brightened his face, until he remembered he hadn’t bothered to contact his friend in at least a decade.

“Anyway,” Seth continued, “my mom passed away a few weeks ago and she left you a bunch of stuff. I don’t know if you want any of it, but you know how she loved you and I at least wanted to give you the offer. Let me know if you can. I’ll be here at the house in Chino for the next few days before heading back to Phoenix, so you can come by if you have the chance, otherwise I’ll just get rid of most of it. Let me know. And if I’m remembering right, I’m pretty sure it’s your birthday today, so have a great day. Bye.”

 Gavin lowered the phone.

Pat had died. He stood shocked for a moment, processing the news. Pat and Seth had been his anchor. He loved that woman; she’d helped him through some dark times as a teenager. A dull ache festered in his gut. He hadn’t seen her in over a decade either. And Seth had even remembered his birthday. When was Seth’s? February, maybe? Suddenly Gavin felt like a complete asshole.

“Big G!”

Gavin jumped, startled by his publicist’s shout from across the sound stage. Tyler bounded over to Gavin like a rabbit through a field of flowers despite his six-foot seven-inch, 300-pound frame. A purple tie flopped over his shoulder as he jumped around a production assistant pushing a jib-arm across the set. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“Tyler, did you get any calls from a Seth Kemp in the last week or so?”

“Possibly?” His answer came out more like a question than a statement. “You’ve gotten a lot of messages because of the birthday thing. I can check and see. Melanie has been screening most of the calls for me. Is it important?”

“No, I’ll take care of it.” Gavin put his phone away without returning his father’s call.

“Anyway, security’s going to escort you to your car,” Tyler said, leading Gavin toward a pair of burly guards, hairy arms folded sternly in front of them. “There was some weird cosplayer walking around the studio looking for you. Big guy, really thick accent, had on this stupid red and white leotard or something with like fake armor on the shoulders. It was a quality costume, I’ll give him that. He was spouting about you not being safe from trespassers or something. Like I said, it was weird. We had to throw him out. Wanted to be safe.”

 “As long as security doesn’t need to join me while I shower, it’s fine,” Gavin dismissed. “You coming to the party at Cascade’s?”

“Can’t make it bro.” Tyler’s phone pumped out a country music beat mixed with Taylor Swift. “Got a thing. Sorry, I need to take this. We’ll talk tomorrow about the script you wrote. See you then.”

Tyler turned and shouted Spanish into his phone, leaving Gavin with his two new friends. Nodding to his babysitters, Gavin made his way to the cast dressing rooms for a quick shower. Once dried and properly scented with a bare minimum of Royal Mayfair cologne, Gavin buttoned his light gray silk shirt, smoothed his wool slacks, and followed his escorts to the parking garage where his black Lykan sportscar awaited like a patient mistress. He waved a friendly good-bye to the security guards and drove off, heading west on Melrose.

The evening light shone through the windshield, horns honking as Gavin blew by slower vehicles on the boulevard. After six blocks, the familiar Padaria Brazil sign approached on his left. He spun an illegal U-turn and pulled up to the curb, pedestrians pointing and whispering as he stepped out of the conspicuous automobile. Gavin waved to a young boy with crooked front teeth, no older than twelve, sitting next to the store’s entrance.

“Leonardo,” he said, throwing his keys to the youth. “You’re in charge of the car till I get back, tudo bem?”

“Tudo bem, Senior Baller,” the boy grinned, glancing sideways at two older teenagers ogling the sportscar.

Gavin opened the shop door, the smell of fresh bread, newsprint, and barbecue beef churrasco tickling his nostrils. He could stay here forever among the trinkets and chocolate bars of his motherland. Brazil had never been his home for more than a few months at a time while visiting his grandparents in São Paulo, but he felt its pull nonetheless.

“Baller!” the plump young woman behind the counter greeted. She pushed aside her nursing school applications and focused on her customer, tugging her L.A. Galaxy soccer jersey tighter over her hips. Dimples formed on her round cheeks and she quickly ran fingers through her thick brunette hair as if primping for a suiter. “Papai told me you need to try the new armadillo coxinhas. He’ll make you some right now; the delicacy of Rio Grande do Sul.”

“Obrigado, Juliana, but I don’t have time,” Gavin said. “Just a bottle of your most expensive pinga, por favor. You gotten accepted to the nursing program yet?”

“No, I still have to fill out a ton of other forms. I’m close though. Thanks for the recommendation you wrote.” Juliana reached behind the counter for the sugarcane liquor and placed the bottle on the cheap laminate, then lit up like she’d just remembered it was Christmas morning. “I almost forgot! You won the jelly bean jar contest again,” she said, pointing to a large clear container filled with colorful candies. “You guessed within 2 beans! 6,583. That’s better than last time.”

“You’re so full of crap,” Gavin said, tossing cash onto the counter. “You just say I won so you can hang my photo on the wall and tell everyone I’m your boyfriend.” He pointed to a framed picture of Gavin holding a jar of beans, Juliana and her father Papai smiling beside him.

“You are my boyfriend,” Juliana grinned.

“And I would be lucky to have you,” Gavin winked, million-dollar smile shining flirtatiously at the pudgy young woman. “And may I say you fill that jersey beautifully.”

She blushed, swatting his arm. “I’m telling the truth though. You have a gift with numbers. And you won the hundred dollars too.”

Gavin chuckled, grabbing the bottle of pinga. “Give the winnings to Leonardo for being my personal valet.” He blew a playful kiss and exited the store, trading the smells of sweet confections and beef for stale pot and exhaust. “Juliana has your payment inside,” Gavin said, catching his keys as Leonardo tossed them back. He pointed the young boy toward the door. “And make sure she pays you the full $100.”

Leonardo darted inside, uneven grin splitting his face.

Gavin drove off, turning toward the Hollywood Hills and a party he didn’t want to attend with people he didn’t know. DJ Cascade always threw bashes for his friends, Gavin included, but tonight the thought of getting drunk with a bunch of bikini-clad name-droppers didn’t appeal to him.

Beachwood Canyon weaved past giant homes and gated estates. Gavin took the curves a bit slower than normal, thinking about where he’d grown up in Chino, the houses older, smaller and infinitely less opulent, but somehow more alive. He thought of his dad and Seth Kemp. He should call both of them, he thought, but the effort seemed too insurmountable a pursuit.

Arriving at the party’s address, Gavin drove down the half-mile long driveway until a concierge waved him through the massive iron gates. A tuxedo-decked valet took his keys and pointed him toward the palatial mansion beyond the twisting black walnut trees. Gavin walked past pillars and ornate Greek statues, water bubbling from a nearby fountain while a faint bass beat thumped from somewhere inside the house. The stone foyer lead to a double doored entrance, where colored spotlights danced on a five-foot tall ‘34’ made from flowers. Despite his desire to go home, he appreciated they got his age right. At Tom Cruise’s 55th birthday DJ Cascade had drunkenly said the actor was 65; a slight that haunted the musician to this day.

Music and food mingled with gyrating bodies and exhausting laughter. People shouted Gavin’s name, wishing him happy birthday, but their semi-familiar faces registered little more than fleeting memories of introductions at premieres past. Even DJ Cascade, controlling the music from his platform in the ballroom-sized entertainment area with his flowing dreadlocks and Rastafarian hat, could be considered little more than a superficial friend at best. No one in the house truly cared about Gavin. Their interests focused more on what they could get from him than developing anything more than skin-deep rapport. For years he had embraced it, but recently the shallowness of it all began to weigh on him.

Is there more than this? he thought to himself. More than being an actor and pretending to be important? The idea had occurred to him many times over his adult life, but somehow now it felt more pressing. Am I supposed to be more?

“Gavin, my man!” DJ Cascade’s voice bellowed through the four-foot tall speakers. Spotlights reflected off a pair of gold-sparkled Gucci sunglasses that made the man look like a dancer at an Elton John concert. “Let’s all sing to this magnificent bitch!” Cascade pumped out a remix version of ‘Happy Birthday’ while jumping around on his elevated perch, long dreadlocks flailing about like octopus’ limbs.

The crowd erupted in song. Gavin waved and smiled, normally much more at ease as the center of attention. Tomorrow would be easier, he told himself. Just get the birthday over with.

A grand cheer echoed through the house as the song ended. “Speech!” Cascade shouted, tossing the microphone to Gavin. “Speech!” the crowd parroted.

Gavin smiled despite his reticence. He enjoyed being the star after all and had prided himself on his ability to command a room. The microphone touched his upper lip like a familiar lover.

“Well thank you, all of you, for being here,” he began, voice exploding from the speakers. “All of you know after my acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, I’m not great off-the-cuff, so…” Everyone laughed. Gavin had them in the palm of his hand already. “Even so, it’s an honor to have so many people by your side to celebrate like this. Most folks will never have a party anywhere near this big, and I honestly don’t want to take that for granted. My father once told me not to let celebrity go to my head and to realize I’m not as special as people will claim. He was right…but let’s be honest: I’m pretty awesome too!”

More laughter and applause. Gavin couldn’t help getting caught up in the moment. Maybe the party wouldn’t be so bad; maybe painful birthday memories would take a back seat for once.

“Anyway, thanks again, enjoy the open bar that Cass is paying for…” Another round of cheers. “…And if you need a designated driver, I’m sure there’s one around here somewhere!” Gavin smiled, tossing the microphone up over his shoulder toward the DJ. The crowd roared their approval, rushing in to be closer to their Hollywood idol while a recent pop single bounced through the hall.

“Give him some room, people!” Cascade stepped down from the turntable and embraced his friend.

“Thanks for all this, Cass,” Gavin said.

“I’m glad your shoot wrapped up in time.” Cascade’s arm draped casually over Gavin’s shoulder, sauntering them both toward the bar. “We got tons of people here who want to meet you, if you know what I mean. Take your pick, go upstairs, you know you have the run of the place.”

“I really appreciate this,” Gavin said, removing Cascade’s arm. “I’m just going to wander a bit and see what fits my fancy.”

Cascade pointed his index fingers like dueling pistols. “You do you, man. Oh, and you might want to be careful. We had to throw out this lady who was looking for you earlier.”

“What are you talking about?” Gavin moved closer, making sure he heard correctly over the music.

“Yeah, some foreign chick. She was dressed up in a weird red and white get-up. Black lady, but with her hair like died kind of brown and gray.”

Gavin stepped back, remembering what Tyler had said at the studio about a guy in red and white. “It was a woman? Was she with another guy?” he asked.

“Naw, she was by herself, probably 50 or 60-years-old, by the look of her.”

“Well that’s good,” Gavin said, confused, but comforted it wasn’t the same person from the film lot. Probably a coincidence. He had never had problems with stalkers and didn’t want to start now. If it had been the same guy, he’d probably worry. “What did she want?”

Cascade’s shoulders touched his ears. “I don’t know man, she just walked into the house a little bit before you arrived, like, oblivious that she was trespassing. Said she needed to talk to you and that you were in danger, or something. Had a weird accent and looked like a comic con reject.”

“Well, thanks for getting rid of her. That’s why I refuse to do any of those Marvel movies. You know they wanted me to play Superman?”

“Superman is Warner Bros,” Cascade corrected, grabbing a cocktail from the bartender.

Gavin snorted. “Whatever. I’ll be around.” Cascade waved him off, drinking deeply of his Negroni.

Gavin wandered the edges of the room, the elation from his speech slowly waning as strangers rushed up to take selfies and pitch script ideas. Roasted pork wafted heavenly on the air, but even the promise of succulent ribs didn’t entice Gavin to stay. A beautiful woman with red hair and a tight, reveling dress caught his eye from across the room. She stood out, even among the bevy of beauties navigating the house. Her eyes darted down and then back up, followed by a shy curl of the lips. Gavin had seen that same sultry, flirty face on a thousand different women at a thousand other parties. Getting a beautiful status-seeker in bed had never been a problem. He could probably take this gorgeous redhead home if he wanted, have a pleasurable night, no strings attached, never see her again.

Like so many others.

That thought made him feel lonelier than when he entered the party. He’d never had to chase a woman in his life and couldn’t imagine what that would even be like.

Absently he twisted a gold ring on his left pinky, his brain seeking to occupy itself. The movement had become a habit anytime Gavin felt uncomfortable. He glanced down at the piece of jewelry, a series of small diamonds sparkling against the light. The ring had been an enthusiastic purchase after securing his first starring role; not extravagant or overly expensive, but something to remind him of the moment’s joy. Gavin craved that innocent excitement again, but life had little to offer anymore.

Music blared in his ears and he longed for escape; escape from the women; escape from the party; escape from his birthday.

He snuck into the backyard where a group of actors from a CW superhero show dove into the pool fully dressed, followed by raucous cackling. Gavin slipped through the side gate and back out to the valet, handing the man a $100 bill to be quick. Two minutes later Gavin sped out of the driveway and headed north toward Mulholland and his quiet post-modern villa. Cascade would assume he was upstairs with some tart; no one else would notice he left.

Relief flooded over him. Gavin rolled down the windows to breath in mountain air mingling with the smog from a million Los Angeles automobiles. The lights of the 101 Freeway flickered in his periphery, disappearing behind residences before coming back into view. The smell of fresh blossoms blew into the car, reminding him he was almost home.

“Siri: play Counting Crows, Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby.”

The beat drummed through the sound system. Gavin smiled at the familiar tune and the melancholy lyrics about California fame. Gavin sang along loudly, grateful for the anonymity of the darkness; no one would know an A-list celebrity drove through a quiet neighborhood singing his favorite song at the top of his lungs. The words echoed along Mulholland, competing with the deep rev of twin-turbo engines and 780 horses.

The song wrapped up as Gavin’s driveway appeared around the corner. Dark windows greeted his arrival at the angular, Richard Neutra-designed residence. Gavin pressed the button on his gate remote, opening the barrier with the grinding of electronic gears; the only sound of welcome he would hear. He turned off the car, grabbed his bottle of pinga from the passenger seat and headed inside.

Motion sensors activated the LED lights that ran along the floor-line, adding a pale glow to his living room. He could turn on extra lamps for full illumination, but enjoyed the cold blue tint accenting his mood. Custom furniture from La Bella Cosa, paintings by Jeff Koons, sculptures by Vasco Prado; nothing in the room brought him joy in that moment. He approached the centerpiece shelving, tossing his wallet and keys on the middle shelf. A family photo drew him in, the Cristo Redentor statue in Rio towering over a 15-year-old, olive-skinned Gavin and his parents during one of their trips to Brazil. Christ’s outstretched arms framed the smiling triad, reminding Gavin he needed to call his dad.

He pulled out his phone, catching the reflection of something gold against the glass. The eyes of his Best Actor Oscar looked down on him from the higher shelf, cold and unfeeling. He’d won the treasured bauble three years earlier for his drug-infused boxing drama No Way but Down. Gavin ran his finger along the polished gold statue, remembering how heavy it felt when Jennifer Lawrence handed it to him at the Academy Awards. He’d been overwhelmed.

The room’s limited LED lighting made the little man look almost sinisterly shadowed, particularly next to the brightly colored children’s book displayed next to it. Gavin’s eyes followed the circular reds, oranges and blues up a pedestal with a bright yellow young man drawn beneath the words Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, signed by Dr Seuss himself; Gavin’s most prized possession. The first edition copy had been a sixteenth birthday present from Seth’s mother, Pat.

He suddenly didn’t want to look at it; didn’t want to be in the house at all. He made his way toward the sliding glass door, returning his cell to his pocket while his fingers clasped tight to the pinga bottle in his right hand. Pool lights flicked on as he stepped outside, feet tapping the concrete on his way toward the valley overlook. He stopped at the glass rail marking the edge of his property and leaned into the drop-off, chlorinated air tickling his throat. Mount Lee sat shadowed against the starless sky, only visible because of the iconic Hollywood sign lit up for the world to see.

The liquor bottle cork resisted his tug, then finally relenting with a pop. He examined the label with its double snakes crisscrossing on a red banner.

“Here’s to you mom,” he said, pausing before taking his first gulp. “…and to you, Mrs. Kemp.” He drank deeply, allowing the hard inebriant to burn a track toward his belly. After two more gulps he wiped his mouth and looked out at the Hollywood sign once more. His brain buzzed with the influx of alcohol, body warming, a slight quiver tingling his fingertips. The vibration intensified, until Gavin noticed the rail oscillating beneath his palm.

It wasn’t the booze.

He turned, seeing the surface of the pool rippling to a deep bass sound that grew until Gavin felt the noise in his bones. He stepped back, searching for the origin of the sound, when a flash blinded him like a floodlight at a film premiere.

Shielding his eyes, Gavin focused past the spotlight bathing him in its luminosity. A strange shape stood out against the dark sky, bulging like an asymmetrical tumor. Some sort of silver aircraft he guessed; as big as a military transport carrier or even two busses stacked next to each other, but lopsided and rutted like a shiny rock. Drafts of air billowed from some unseen vent, blowing his hair like a run in the park. It wasn’t a helicopter, Gavin was sure, but what was it? His eyes continued to adjust, feeding him more detail. The metallic surface of the craft glistened, reflecting the light in rounded orbs and along shadowed crevices. Otherworldly engines fed a throbbing tone, permeating every cell in Gavin’s body. Nothing in his mind could reconcile what passed through his corneas.

The sound abated, transforming from a roar, to a low hum, to nothing. Perfect silence reigned except for the distant rush of the 101. The craft didn’t move, didn’t land, just hovered motionless four feet above the water. He looked under the vessel to verify no landing gear had extended. Only empty air met his gaze. The spotlight followed him as he took two steps to the right, then again as he returned to his original position. A bead of sweat dripped from his nose like a criminal in a police interrogation. What was he seeing? How powerful was that pinga?

Gavin came to a conclusion that seemed both crazy and drunk-possible: a spaceship had parked on top of his pool. He shook his head.

“What the hell?”

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