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Treachery.  Terrorism.  Chocolate.

Captain Ian Halloran, a small-time interstellar chocolate smuggler, insulted research librarian Aoife Cavenaugh’s intelligence as well as her virtue when he tried to fondle her at his own wedding, to her beloved cousin. But that was years ago. Now her cousin’s ghost haunts Aoife, trying to terrify her into finishing the research that Aoife started and Ian stole after she knocked him out and tried to strangle him at the reception.

A chance to give humanity the edge over their alien overlords, the secretive Danavas. A chance to step out of her adventureless life as a dull librarian. A chance to put her cousin’s ghost to rest. A chance to finish strangling that low-life, back-stabbing thief of a cousin-in-law once and for all.

Aoife locked the door to the cottage that served as her office. The fairshopper library trees whispered around her, muttering in unintelligible codes. A leaf dropped in front of her face, hissing data. She ignored it and followed the laboriously winding stone path to the garden exit.

Everything on Tullynally was like that. Too cute. Why nobody could build a library that looked like a damn library, she’d never know. Books that looked like books could exchange information just as easily as books that looked like trees.

Aoife spotted a familiar horse-drawn cab with two brass-handled doors and a rail around the roof for luggage. The cab driver, Angus, pulled to a halt, tipped his threadbare top hat at her, and started to jump down.

Aoife jerked opened the cab door, vaulted in, and latched it behind her. She shouted up, “Don’t bother with the niceties, Angus. Just take me home.”

“Bad day?”

“No. Terrible day.”

“What happened then? Did ye not get funding for yer project?”

Aoife opened the door on Angus’s side and stood on tiptoe to peek up at him. “Angus, ye wouldn’t believe it. They wanted me to turn over all my research without a breath of promise that I’d be the one to finish the project. They never intended to give me funding. I’m too valuable to lose from the library, they said.” She sat down, pulled a handkerchief out of her sleeve, and dabbed at her face. She would not start bawling in a cab like a broken-hearted trollop weeping over her lost lover.