This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
Published by Fallen Press, Ltd.
Copyright © 2016
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.
Angel Warrior: The Complete Series
Alien Rogue Warrior: Serials 1-5
To Kiss A Warrior
To Touch A Warrior
To Protect A Warrior
To Trust A Warrior
To Love A Warrior
Alien Rogue Warrior: Serials 6-10
To Challenge A Warrior
To Obey A Warrior (Release date: 8/5/16)
To Forgive A Warrior (Release date: 8/12/16)
To Wound A Warrior (Release date: 8/19/16)
To Save A Warrior (Release date: 8/24/16)
Alien Invasion: The Complete Series
Alien Intercourse (Release date: 8/3/16)
Alien Insertion (Release date: 8/10/16)
Alien Infiltration (Release date: 8/17/16)
Alien Exile (Release date: 8/24/16)
I couldn’t do this without you…and I wouldn’t want to.
I wish for you every dream you can dream..and I believe with you all things are possible.
P.S. – You are already beautiful.
Last night I went to bed in a world of drudgery and boredom. I stared out the casted glass window of the castle over the countryside of Pluria, my country’s greatest ally.
My life stretched out before me—a never-changing, endless cycle of meetings, diplomacy, and parties with overdressed people who didn’t really care about anything.
I thought there could be nothing worse than waking up this morning to the same routine. The insanity of doing the same thing every day, but expecting a change.
As it turns out, I was wrong.
Screams and a great rumbling shake the castle walls, interrupting my slumber. It’s probably just a ground shake.
I feel as if my head just hit the pillow. Dazed and disheveled, last night’s headache still pounding in my brain, I force myself to cross the room to the armoire. Light from the two moons beams in through the window, illuminating my clothing options in shades of pink and gold.
I want to wear something simple, but I know better. Late at night, unknown situation outside. I heave a sigh and reach for the black undershirt. Black skirt, metal-reinforced leather corset, arm protectors, boots, belt, short swords.
It sounds complicated, but this armor is like a second skin. I’ve worn the same style since birth. It’s fitted, perfect. I’m able to get in and out of it in under a minute.
I run for the turret stairs, hoping the others will take the main steps. Unfortunately, we all had the same idea. We shuffle downward far too slowly, packed like sardines into the tiny spiral stairwell built for no more than two people walking abreast. One of my sheathes clinks against another and I look up to see the ambassador from Luthinia.
I’m not surprised it’s another government official. Most civilians don’t wear armor these days, especially if they can’t afford metal reinforcements. Leather does nothing against guns and bullets that are rapidly gaining popularity. Even though most civilians don’t have them, swords are still going out of fashion. But we don’t care about fashion, do we, girls? I caress the hilts of my two short swords. They’ve saved my life many times.
The screaming has stopped briefly, but the feeling of restrained hysteria is in the air. We don’t know yet whether to panic or not. And it’s late and we’re all climbing down ten flights of stairs.
I can see the exit two flights below when suddenly the sirens stop. Screams split the air, then cut off suddenly. People turn and start pushing us back up the steps. I feel my own sense of fear rise.
You’re a trained warrior, Ande. Assess. Gather equipment. Take action.
But to do that, I’m going to need a better view. I join the people beside me and try to push the people above me back up.
Regret floods me as I’m squashed between the two opposing forces—those coming down and those going up. I should have listened to my father and brought a contingent of guards with me on this trip. But I’d stupidly thought I was safe, telling myself, you’ve been to Pluria at least a hundred times before.
I finally succeed in getting to the third floor and throw open the door to exit the stairwell. I sprint toward the middle of the floor. I remember a balcony that overlooks the entrance, the front wall of the first few floors of the front of the castle made of glass. It will give me a good view of the entrance and the courtyard just outside.
The country is at peace, I think, trying not to panic. No enemies, uprisings, not even a strong political conflict in the ten years since the Great War.
Reaching it, I look down. My heart sinks into my stomach. The scene before my eyes is beyond belief. People dead in the courtyard, more running past, screaming, as huge…metal machines?…run behind them. The machines look almost like metal people, but their legs are weirdly shaped. They run awkwardly, hitting the people with some kind of blue light. Once struck by the beam, the people fall down, twitching and screaming.
This can’t be real. It can’t be.
My heartbeat starts to pound in my ears. I blink several times, but the image remains.
So it’s not just a hallucination. Better get a grip and start thinking before I end up dead, too.
What are these shiny metal creatures? Where did they come from?
I see a small craft land in the courtyard amidst the chaos.
Landing? Did they come from… the sky? Or even worse… space?
The thought makes me shudder. If these metal people are from space they are a lot more advanced than us. Did they only land here—or in my kingdom, too? If they did, how can we fight them?
I wonder if I should go back up to my room and hope they don’t search the entire castle. But then a swarm of the metal things shoots out the front glass doors and windows, and the windows fall to the ground in an enormous crash of tinkling, shimmering glass.
Oh, shit. Run? Or hide?
The metal things stream in through the open glass and I have only seconds to make a decision. My heart pounds in my head, my ears buzz, and my entire body shakes like a leaf in the wind. I’ve battled men, women, even wild animals, but nothing like the enemy I see before me.
Run. But back up to the room, or out the back doors into the gardens behind? Maybe I can go around the side and use the element of surprise.
The metal things marching up the stairs make my decision for me. I run on shaking legs to the opposite end of the castle than I came from and turn right, to the servants’ stairs at the back of the building. Thankfully, the stairs are empty. I guess most of the servants have already left.
I descend as fast as I can, almost tripping between flights in my haste.
In battle, seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
I never expected battle here, but thank the gods I made Father train me for it.
Just inside the door that leads to the gardens behind the castle, I stop, pausing to calm my frantic breaths. I can’t run out heaving if stealth is necessary.
Where can I go?
For the first time, I realize I don’t know much about Pluria’s capital city beyond the castle, the stables, the armory and a few close restaurants and shops. And that’s when it hits me! The armory. We need weapons.
Feeling calmer with a destination and plan of action in mind, I open the door slowly. It creaks and I wince. Nice. Why don’t you just announce it to them?
The coast is clear, so I exit and sprint down to the end. I turn to the right, running toward the front of the castle and the courtyard. I peek around the corner of the castle and see that the courtyard is still a frenzy of activity, with the metal things shooting at all who emerge. A few warriors are battling them – and losing.
I run behind the hedges around the courtyard, heading to the armory just past the gates. But just as I round the corner to the entrance, I see one of the metal things standing in front. I guess it must have heard me coming because it looks right at me.
Father always says the best defense is a good offense, so I spring at the metal thing in a high kick, aiming at the weapon, fingers poised to grip its shoulders. I kick the weapon as hard as I can, and to my amazement, it flies out of the thing’s grip and clatters to the dirt. Not so strong then.
I wrap my legs around it and try to rip off its head.
Its arms come up and grip my wrists.
I see a button on the right side of its neck and press it. The head begins to come off, and I rip it as hard as I can. It doesn’t detach how I expect and I quickly realize it’s some type of head covering. I throw it as far as possible before turning back to the being inside.
Not a metal thing, but an upright, walking… mountain cat. It’s fierce, with sharp fangs and a growling yowl that sends shivers down my spine. Its fetid breath washes over me.
I don’t have time to reach for my swords, so using two fingers, I jab it as hard as I can in the eyes. It screeches, a horrible sound, then begins to turn and spin. Now or never.
I jump off and start running down the dusty road, hoping I’ve bought myself a little time.
No such luck.
It gives another angry, yowling snarl and hisses at me. It’s after me in a flash, the suit barely slowing it. I sprint away without thinking, and quickly realize I have only a few more steps before I hit the main road.
If I’m going to die ten thousand miles from home, I’m at least going to take some of these metal cat-monsters with me.
I unsheathe my swords and prepare for the worst.
Fuck! An Ardak invasion. Can things get any worse?
I feel the familiar frisson of anger go down my spine. My string of curses continues as I load the last of my cargo into my shuttle. The screaming is bringing back memories I’ve been trying to forget. I can feel my hands starting to tremble with rage. I clench them into fists.
I should have known the damn hairballs would hit this planet next.
I came here myself because it was the next closest planet to the last one they hit. My time is rather limited.
Good thing I got here tonight. Tomorrow this whole damn planet will be contaminated.
Making my cargo that much more valuable.
I feel for these people. But I know the terror they feel tonight at an alien cat invasion is nothing compared to what they will feel tomorrow when the fucking cats release the toxin. They have no idea what’s about to hit them. But I do, and I’m getting the hell out of here before it does. There’s nothing I can do about it, anyway. Or I would have saved my own people.
The tiny space behind the general store is barely large enough for my shuttle, but I had to make do. The people on this world haven’t invented motorized automobiles yet. Which means they don’t have planes much less space flight, and my invisibility force field doesn’t work on the ground. I don’t want to frighten them too much with tech they haven’t seen before.
I look back toward the main street one last time. The Ardak landers have a luminescent glow, lighting up the area for miles. A young woman runs past the building, screaming, until one of the overgrown cats hits her from behind with an energy blast. Too late.
Just as I slam the cargo door shut, I hear a battle cry from the street out front. I haven’t been in battle on this world, but that cry is damn near universal. I turn to see a fierce warrioress sprint down the road in the opposite direction of the last, leaving a trail of dust behind her. She’s chased by a helmetless Ardak, her swords flashing. I jog to the front of the building, just to see what she’ll do.
She darts into and among the screaming horde of people, heading for the Ardak lander. A high, springing kick worthy of any of the high jumpers on my planet knocks the weapon from another feline soldier in front of her.
A few months ago, I would have joined her. She doesn’t yet realize it’s pointless.
Her valor is a fearsome thing to behold. Her own people offer no help, crying and screaming as they run heedlessly down the street in all directions.
She fights her way through the crowd with her two flashing swords, dodging past others who make her battle more difficult in their efforts to flee. She kicks the lander pilot, who tries to grasp her as she springs by him. But Ardaks are notoriously slow with their metal exoskeletons. Slow, but damn near impossible to injure through the suit unless you’re close enough to get the helmet off. Which is one of the main reasons the cowards use the toxin to kill their enemies.
But the warrioress fights with the fury of three Ou’lin zintars—feral, fierce, jumping, spinning, kicking, punching, even biting the ear of the Ardak that lost its helmet. Her double short swords flash quicker than the eye can follow.
Unconsciously, my hand goes to the hilt of my sword. Help the female. She’s reached the lander, but three Ardaks have surrounded her. She’s taken care of their weapons, but she can’t pierce their metal exoskeleton armor. It’s only a matter of time before they take her bare-handed.
Are you really this much of a bastard, Juordin? You will let this woman die right before your eyes? Where is your honor?
I growl and draw my sword, running forward and springing into the fray. I behead the first Ardak with no helmet, surprising him from behind. His feline yowl is cut off quickly, but not before it raises all the hair on my arms.
The warrioress glances at me and, for a moment, I catch a glimpse of wide, green eyes. Recognition punches me in the gut with the force of a Saturnian hurricane as I see her up close for the first time.
Blood rushes through my veins, and the mating marks on my chest start to burn. Disbelief wars with urgency. How is it possible that I found my mate on this barbarian planet? Protect her—get her out of here!
The need to protect her begins to drive me more than the need to kill the Ardaks. We continue fighting the three cats encased in metal exoskeletons, but I follow her movements more closely now. She’s agile, beautiful. Small, yet lithe and strong. Quick on her feet. Her midnight black hair hangs almost to her waist and swirls around her as she battles.
Against my will, I take a few moments to admire her. My mate is a little warrioress. She would make any Tuorian warrior a fine wife. I would be happy to take her back to my planet, to claim her as my own, to introduce her to my people.
Except I have to defeat these bastards first.
I had thought it impossible to hate them any more than I already do. I was wrong.
Unseeing, brutal fury courses through my veins.
I spring onto the second Ardak, pressing the release button on its helmet and beheading it in almost one motion. I jump off him and turn. She’s fighting the last one, but I see two more running down the street toward us.
Get her out of here.
I jump between her and the last Ardak, kicking it so hard it falls onto the ground. “Get to my lander in the alley,” I shout over my shoulder, gesturing at it with one arm. I jump onto the Ardak, straddling its chest, to release the helmet and behead it.
But just then a scream pierces the air, and I know instinctively it’s her.
I turn just in time to watch her fall. It happens as if in slow motion. Her eyes open wide, her arms flail to the sides, and the force of the energy beam lifts her off her feet. She seems to almost fly for a moment, arcing through the air gracefully backward until she hits the dirt road.
I leap up from the dead Ardak, reaching her in three steps. I sweep her up into my arms, grabbing her swords, cradling her as carefully as I’m able. I’ve been conditioned since birth to guard my mate’s life more carefully than I guard my own. I’m in the lander in seconds, the little woman across my lap, lifting off to the dismayed yowls of the other Ardaks.
I set my lander on course to dock with the ship, knowing the Ardak ships won’t be concerned with a tiny lander leaving the atmosphere. In fact, they prefer the people to flee. Fewer dead to burn in the cleanup.
The lander is usually much faster on liftoff, but it’s loaded down with cargo at the moment. As precious as it is, I wish I had an eject button to get rid of it. Hang on, little one, we’re almost there.
My hands shake with adrenaline, anger, and terror as I brush the hair back from her face with one hand. Please be all right. There are burn marks on her stomach from the energy blast. I clutch her to my chest. There’s nothing I can do for her here—the healing bunk is on my ship.
The lander docks automatically, and then I’m through the door, sprinting through the bay with my mate cradled to my chest. The healing bunk is already powered up as I’d intended to use it myself after I’d retrieved my cargo.
I lay her unconscious body on my healing bunk, straightening her limbs carefully and arranging her hair around her face. The back of my mind is screaming at me not to do this. There’s only one charge left, and if I use it on her, I’ll live a few months less. But she’s my mate. There’s no acceptable alternative.
As the glass slowly closes over her, sealing her in so the energy can course through her body, I’m struck anew by her beauty. Her lips are as ripe and red as Tuorian berries in season. Her skin is pale and smooth, her physique extremely strong for one her size. And though she is tiny compared to women on Tuorin, her curves are lush and I know they will fill my hands beautifully. When the time comes.
I press my forehead to the glass of the healing bunk, as if by will alone I can make her survive. I have faith in my healing bunk for most things. But that energy blast was strong.
I’ve been waiting thirty-six Tuorian years to find her. The one who will bring light to my world, my other half, my bride. My heart soars with elation.
But in the next moment I’m awash with fury, regret a bitter taste in my mouth. Of course I would find her now. And on a backwater planet that doesn’t even have planes yet. She’s going to get a surprise when she finds out aliens exist. A big one.
I want to smile, but I just can’t.
Sometimes life is so unfair.
Because as much as I want to enjoy getting to know my mate, to join with her forever, I can’t.
I have only six months left to be with her.
I wake in a strange glass container. But this glass is too smooth. Clear. Not the glass from Lla’ei. Immediately, my heart begins to pound. What if those cat creatures imprisoned me? My hands go to the glass, pounding as hard as I can, trying to break it.
I sense movement above my head, and the glass retracts.
Not waiting for it to retract all the way, I jump out of the case.
Wait! Wasn’t I hit with one of those blasts? I look down at myself. I seem okay.
I see two instruments in front of me and grab them from the table on my way to the floor, spinning to face my incarcerator.
It’s him. The warrior with the stunning purple eyes who helped me fight the cat creatures. He’s tall, obviously of another race. Perhaps one to the East. His long, brown hair with golden highlights falls in waves down his chest and back, and he moves toward me with the masculine grace and fluidity of a trained warrior.
He’s considerably less dressed than when I last saw him. His white shirt is undone and I can see strange markings on his chest. Brown leather pants disappear into high boots, their design intricate. He wears a long sword, the sheath also leather. Muscles flex in his jaw as his piercing purple eyes pin me with the strength of his gaze. He gestures at the instruments in my hands. “There is no need for those.”
Something about him draws me and I almost want to drop my guard. But, beautiful as he is, I still don’t know him. “Prove it.”
He leans against the wall, the corners of his lips quirking upward in a smile. “And just how am I supposed to do that?”
“Perhaps by taking me home?”
He inches closer to me, gesturing to the metal instruments. “Is this really how you want to thank me for saving your life?”
“Is that what I should be thanking you for?” I hold them higher to hold him off. “You’re kidnapping me. I don’t even know where I am.”
He gestures to the room. “Technically, the word is abduction.”
He looks like he’s laughing at me. “Never mind. Do you look like you’re a prisoner here?”
I give the room a cursory glance. “Perhaps not,” I concede. “But I can see that, despite the bunk and the medical instruments, you’re no doctor.”
A wide smile splits his mouth and he throws back his head and laughs. The deep sound seems to vibrate through me, bringing warmth back to my soul. Then his smile turns mysterious. “I could have left you to the Ardaks.”
“Ardaks—are those—the cat monsters?”
“Yes.” He nods in assent.
Whoever this man is, if he knows who they are, he probably knows information we could use to defeat them. I quickly rise and set down the instruments. “We need to return and tell my father. We have to save the people of Pluria.”
The warrior shakes his head, his gaze not quite meeting mine. “It isn’t just the people of Pluria who will die. By this time tomorrow, the entire planet will be dying.”
Shock, then fear radiates through my being. “The entire planet?” That means my kingdom, too! “We have to do something! We have to warn them!”
“There’s nothing you can do,” he grates out. “If you go back now, you will also be hit with the toxin. Then you will die, just as surely as they will.”
“Go back? Where are we?”
“On my spaceship.”
“Your spaceship?” This day has gone from unbelievable to impossible. For the first time, I look around me. The walls are made of some kind of smooth, white surface I’ve never seen before. The cabinets are a shiny metal. Lights blink off and on in regular patterns on several square, black surfaces.
Definitely not from Lla’ei. That makes him…an alien.
I raise the instruments, ready to kill him this time. “Did you come with the cats?”
“No,” he mutters. “That was just damn bad timing.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “I don’t believe you.”
“Believe what you want. But I didn’t bring them. I guarantee that I hate them more than you do. A lot more.”
I search his face, but his gaze is direct. There’s no hint of subterfuge. I relax just a bit. “I demand you take me back to Lla’ei, to my people. You can run away as fast as you want to after that.”
He opens his mouth, then closes it abruptly. His hands curl into fists. “That isn’t going to happen.”
“I demand it,” I say, lifting my chin.
He shrugs. “Demand all you like. It still isn’t going to happen.”
Is he really going to do nothing while my people die? An image of my home, reduced to a smoldering mass of nothing, flashes in my mind. My parents, my younger brother. Will they be fleeing the cat people just as I was?
“I’ll find a way to help them, with or without you.”
To my frustration, he shrugs again. “I seriously doubt that.”
Anger boils through me. I feel my skin heat and my heart pounds in my ears.
Without thinking, I raise the metal instruments and run at him. He doesn’t go for his sword, but meets me bare-handed. At first I’m trying to cut him, but the truth is, my heart isn’t in it. My movements are too slow and controlled. If I kill him, I may never get back. We wrestle and he knocks the metal weapons from my hands.
Holding my wrists above my head, he throws one of his strong legs over mine. The adrenaline coursing through me, the vulnerability of being overpowered, and the closeness of his face and his body to my own is disconcerting. I find myself out of breath, and it isn’t from the tussle. I’ve rarely been so close to another, except in battle.
And they usually died before they could kiss me.
Before they could kiss me? What are you thinking, Ande’ie? There’s an invasion going on and enormous metal cat monsters are trying to take over your planet! Get your mind on your duty to your people!
I struggle against him, trying to fight off my attraction. “If you have a spaceship, where are you from?” I demand angrily. For all I know, he brought those cat things with him.
“Tuorin,” he answers calmly.
“So you’re an alien.” I spat the words in a most undignified manner. Father trained you better than this. If he is an alien, maybe his people can help you.
That’s when I realize that in contrast to my rage, he’s calm, patient. As if he has all the time in the world. I can see empathy in his eyes, and it angers me again.
“Are all the people from your planet cowards?”
He doesn’t react, which only angers me further.
“Surely if you have your own spaceship, you have the technology to help us.” My last words come out a little desperate.
His gaze meets mine. “I know the pain you’re experiencing, but getting us both killed won’t save your people.”
Even though that might be true, he should know that I’m not going to simply sit around and watch my family and friends die.
No matter what I have to do—or who I have to go through—to get home to my people.
Having my mate partially beneath me, her lithe body squirming against mine, is almost too much to bear. I focus on my breath, relying on my training to overcome my need.
The sound of her begging to go back to her people tears at my heart.
You can’t take her back to her planet. She will only suffer, just as you did. Nightmares that will never go away. The running. The screaming. The swirling red cloud that engulfs everything in a haze.
I want to talk to her, but she’s not thinking rationally. Just as you didn’t. No one can think rationally when their people are being exterminated.
And despite my efforts, I can feel the mating marks on my chest, and even the ones on my stomach, are starting to throb.
Even worse, the tattoo on my shoulder that monitors the progression of the toxin is starting to stab at me in warning. It was already twinging before I went planetside on Lla’ei. I’ve gone too long without the healing bunk already…and used the last of its charge to save my mate.
I’ll have to wait until I get back to the space station for another charge.
“Please, stop fighting me.” My voice sounds harsher than I intend it to, the stress on my body too much.
Of course, she headbutts me, making me see stars for a moment.
“Take me home!” she demands, the fire in her eyes burning through me.
I grit my teeth. “Such a fighter. A little warrioress.”
“I’m not a little warrioress! I’m a warrior!”
She’s even going to fight me on her title.
Kiss her. Give her something else to think about.
“Taking you back would be a death sentence.” I force her hands to the floor again.
Finally, she stops struggling, giving me a second to relax. “Why?”
“Because in the next few hours, the Ardaks are going to release a toxin in the city centers. Eventually, it will permeate the atmosphere. Once hit with the toxin, it only takes about a year for all the people to die.”
“We have to stop it!”
“There’s nothing you can do! Believe me!”
She stops abruptly. “Why not? How do you know?”
“How do you think?” Slowly, I release her wrists, knowing our fight is over. At least for now. To my surprise, she brings her hands down, resting them lightly on her stomach.
Some of the anger goes out of her eyes. “It happened to your planet.” I swallow and nod. Even now I can’t speak about it. Grief for my people overrides even the pain of the toxin for a moment. What she doesn’t know about the toxin—what I’m not telling her—is that it’s not a quick death. It’s slow, painful, debilitating. Until one day, the body simply refuses to work.
And there’s only one way to slow it. Endorphins. Our doctors found quickly that the devastating effects of the toxin could be staved off for about a year if we dosed on endorphins regularly. Either through getting a dose from our healing bunks, or by mating.
I look down at her enticing green eyes. Mating sounds pretty damn good right now. I shift as my cock hardens, then gasp as a sharp stab of pain slices through my leg. You need to heal. The toxin is spreading.
“What’s wrong with you?”
I look at her for long moments. Is my pain really so obvious? “I’m injured,” I finally admit.
Her gaze runs over my body, pressed against her side, my leg still thrown over hers. She seems to study me, until finally reaching out to touch the mating marks on my stomach.
I clench my muscles. Having her touch the marks is almost too much.
She draws back. “Where are you hurt?”
Touch me again. Put those little hands on my body.
I growl. If she touches my mating marks again, I won’t be able to hold back.
“It doesn’t matter. I need to get back to the station so I can use it on myself.”
“The space station where the rest of my people are.”
Her eyes widen. “You’re kidding right?”
I frown. “About what?”
She bits her lip. “About there being a station…in space. That’s real?”
I hold back my laugh, remembering too late how lacking in technology her people are. All of this must feel like a bad dream more than reality to her. “Yes, it is a place where my people go to meet and trade.”
Her fingers curl into the fabric of my shirt. “That’s impossible. We’d know if there was a space station.”
Now, I do laugh. “How? You’d spot it through your telescopes?” I’m grinning, despite the pain that lingers in my chest. “And it is actually quite a distance from here.”
She’s gone a little pale. “How far?”
“About two of your light-years.” I don’t want to further frighten her, but I can’t help it. “We’re about to go through a wormhole.”
I see it hit her all at once. I’m not just taking her off her planet; I’m taking her far from all she’s known. Far from the people she still thinks she can save. Her brows lower, and her hands curl into fists. “What is a light year?”
Oh. Right. “It’s how far light can travel in one year.”
“How far light can travel? Two light-years?” she shrieks. Suddenly, she’s bucking and kicking, trying to throw my legs off her.
She’s fighting a lot harder than she was before.
“Stop,” I growl.
Then, I slid on top of her, pinning her beneath me. She thrashes, every part of her body pressed against mine. I grasp her hands, once more restraining them above her head.
I know she’s angry. I should feel bad for her. I should be thinking of anything except the breasts that are bouncing with her every movement. But every part of me is aware of her. As she thrashes, her womanhood brushes over and over against my erection, and my head spins with need.
Mate with her. You need it.
No! I can’t take her like this. The tattoo on my shoulder throbs with need, the mating marks burn, my cock throbs. I’m not sure I could be gentle, woo her, and take her as a warrior should the first time with his mate. In fact, I know I couldn’t. The moment I release my mental hold on my body, it will take her hard and fast. Already it makes demands, calling to me.
I shake my head, trying to clear the traitorous thoughts from my mind, though my body shakes with need.
She isn’t calming.
I can’t stop her.
For long moments, my need to protect her battles with my need to take her.
But I’m past the point of no return.
With a groan, I sink down over her and cover her mouth with mine.
Why are you kissing your kidnapper, Ande’ie?
The voice in the back of my mind doesn’t sound happy. Not happy at all.
But then, even that thought flees my mind, and I’m left with no thoughts at all. I can feel my body responding to him. My lips part, inviting him in.
His tongue sweeps inside, forceful, demanding. His scent is rich, manly. He kisses like he fights, his tongue thrusts and parries with mine as his hands slip down the inside of my arms, teasing the sensitive skin.
I feel paralyzed with pleasure as he parts my legs even farther, making room for himself between them. He grinds against me in an erotic action that has me arcing off the floor into him, crying out against his mouth.
Why is this so hot?
I have every reason not to trust him, but that doesn’t matter when he grinds against me again.
“Scream for me, little warrioress,” he growls. “I want to hear my name on your lips.”
Shock washes over me like the cold waters of the Lla’ei river. I don’t even know his name.
“Stop.” I push against his chest.
He tries to kiss me again, his open mouth reaching for mine.
I push harder. “Stop.”
He growls and his purple eyes meet mine. “I’m afraid it’s too late for that,” he says with chagrin.
“Why?” But even as I ask the question, I’m afraid I already know. A burning has begun in my blood, my skin has become more sensitive.
He brings a hand down to run it up my stomach, between my breasts, to splay it over my collarbone. Shivers of pleasure rock through me, quivering my breasts erotically. He slips a finger under the leather of my corset and brushes over the tender nipples. “Do you feel that?”
I try to answer, but a long moan comes out instead. I try to collect my thoughts. “It’s unbearable. What have you done to me?”
“Only what you’ve done to me.” He takes my mouth in another kiss.
Why is it affecting me like this? I can feel the pulsing in my nipples now, wetness growing between my legs. I scissor them, trying to stop the powerful sensations. I can feel my muscles contracting, begging for him to enter.
He doesn’t answer, but leans down and kisses my neck. His tongue drives me crazy, shivers run up and down my spine, and my body begins to shake. His fingers come up to entwine with mine by my face.
What is this? I ask myself, even as my head spins. I’ve been aroused before, but it was nothing like this. Is it an alien thing?
I groan. Do I care?
He rises onto his elbows, kissing me tenderly. But the burning in my blood has me wrapping my legs around him, trying to pull him closer.
He rolls over so that I’m on top, straddling his waist. My skirt rides up and my hands go to the laces in the front of my leather corset, opening it as quickly as I can. His hands run up my thighs and around to cup the curves of my ass possessively. The minute the corset is undone, his hands leave my ass to smooth up over my stomach, under the cotton of my undershirt, to cup my breasts skin to skin. I arch my back, sinking further into the sensation.
He sits up and pulls my undershirt off over my head, sliding an arm around my back to bring my nipple to his waiting mouth. My hands thread through my hair at the incredible pleasure of his lips on my breasts.
He slides me off his lap and stands, sweeping me up into his arms. My lips go to his neck. I can’t even speak, my body is on fire.
He exits the room, and we enter another room across the hall. A large, rather luxurious bed awaits. He tosses me on it gently and tears his shirt off over his head, revealing bronzed skin and hardened muscle. The body of a warrior. There are black, swirling marks across his chest and stomach. They look raw and powerful. But I don’t have time to worry about them. I rise on my knees and reach for the fastenings of his pants. I want to see more.
He helps me remove his pants and his fingers go to my skirt, sliding it and my panties off in one motion. My hands are itching to explore his pulsing length, but I need him inside me more.
It’s me who’s on him this time, pushing him back onto the bed, sliding over him and covering him with my body. I position myself over him, and his groan is almost a cry as I slide down onto his hardened length.
His hands roam over every inch of my back and my curves as I move on him, seeking relief for the fire in my veins. I move faster and faster, his hands urging me along as he covers one of my nipples with his mouth. He nips, sucks, and runs his tongue over the skin and peaks of my breasts. I can’t stand it.
He rolls so that he’s on top once more. He moves lower kissing my neck and then my chest. For one second, I think I know where he’s going and an image of his hot mouth between my legs has me arching. But then, he surprises me. Sliding his arms beneath my legs, he rises to kiss my mouth once more. With my legs over the crooks of his elbows, I’m spread wide, trembling and waiting. I raise my pelvis and he enters me more deeply than I’d been taken before. It’s exactly what I need. He starts a smooth rocking motion, the angle allowing him to slide against my G-spot and my pulsing nub with every motion.
I wrap my arms around him and sink my fingers into the skin of his shoulders, holding on for dear life as pleasure begins to explode inside my brain. I burst into shudders as I reach the peak, crying out into his neck, expecting him to slow.
But he doesn’t, instead shifting slightly so he hits me at another angle, giving me a momentary break until the fire starts building again. He growls when I explode the second time, convulsing around him, a wail leaving my lips.
He pauses for a second, kissing me again. “This time is for me,” he says when he’s finished, and his devilish body starts to move again. But even though he said this time was for him, he readjusts, I realize I’m going to come again.
We explode together and I see stars behind my eyes. Our bodies are glistening, our breaths mingling as we cuddle together on the bed.
I lick my lips, barely able to move. “I never knew it could be like this.”
“It usually isn’t.”
“Why is it so different with you?”
“Because I’m a Tuorian. And because…you’re my mate.”
Opening my eyes, it takes me a minute to remember where I am. What I’ve done. Sitting up, I draw my knees to my chest. The man I’d slept with is nowhere to be found. No, I correct myself, not a man. An alien. Whom I’ve slept with.
And what had he called me? His mate? Is that the alien equivalent of a girlfriend? Does he honestly think one sexual encounter makes me his? That’s not how it works on my planet, big guy.
Good grief. Now that my mind is back, I realize I don’t even know who this man is. What he does. Or do aliens even do anything other than fly around and kidnap women?
But the worst part of all is that I can already feel myself burning for him again.
I rise from the bed, searching for the various pieces of my armor that have been scattered across the floor. The undershirt and corset are missing, and my face flames when I realize they are still in the other room.
If it had been up to you, you would have done it on the floor in there. At least one of us kept our sanity. The thought brings a wave of embarrassment with it. He had more sense than I did.
I dress as much as I can, then leave his quarters to cross the hall into the other room. I find my clothing and don it without delay.
Now, to find that alien. I walk down the hall to the end, and the doors open automatically. I see him sitting at some type of wall filled with clear glass and black squares. Lights blink and flash on the squares, but as I step forward, it’s what lies above them that makes my knees feel weak.
We really are in space.
Enormous, swirling clouds of colored dust and light fill the view out the windows before me. There must be hundreds, no, thousands of stars. The vastness is beyond my imagination. I suddenly realize how small my planet is.
And it’s the only thing I’ve ever known.
As he turns to me, I realize how ignorant I must seem to him.
“I knew it wouldn’t be long before you joined me.” His eyes meet mine and the weakness in my knees intensifies. I put my hand against the wall to steady myself. I’m not used to physical desire, not like this. I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep my mind on the task at hand.
He gestures out the viewscreen. “There’s the wormhole.”
My eyes follow his gesture and I peer out the viewscreen. Not too far away is an enormous, swirling blackness that seems to suck the light from the universe inside.
For some reason, I have the feeling that if I go in there, I’ll never be back. I hurry across the room and put my hand on his shoulder. “Please.” I don’t even care if I’m begging. “Please let me go back and help my people. It’s my duty to care for them.”
“Why would it possibly be your responsibility to help a whole planet of people?” he asks harshly, his eyes searching mine. “I know you must have some friends and family, but that isn’t enough to risk your life uselessly. You can’t save them.”
I don’t know if admitting this is a good idea, but that wormhole is getting closer every second. “Because I’m the princess of Leitar. It isn’t the whole planet, but it’s the largest kingdom. And I love it with all my heart. My people depend on me.”
He stares for a moment. “You can’t be serious.”
I hold his gaze. “I am.”
He looks away and mutters under his breath. “Of course you are. The irony of it isn’t lost on me.”
I don’t understand him, but I don’t care. I need to get back home. “Please,” I beg him again. “You were on my planet for cargo. Our kingdom is the richest on Lla’ei. We can pay you in gold. Silver. Jewels.”
His face darkens for a moment. “You really think that’s what I want?”
I shrug. “It might not be all you want, but it’s probably all we have to offer.”
“So…” He leans back in his chair. “Your plan is to go back there, get exposed to the toxin yourself, and be there to hold your people’s hands while they die. Is that it?”
“If that’s all I can do, then yes. But regardless, it should be my choice. Not yours.”
He’s quiet for long seconds. I don’t interrupt him because I can tell he’s really thinking about it.
He rubs his forehead with his hand. “If there is one thing I understand, it’s duty. Even if there is no logic to it. Even if I don’t want this for you. So be it.”
To my relief, he starts pressing buttons on the console that slows the ship and turns us around.
“How long will it take to get back?”
“As long as it took us to get here. About thirty-six Lla’eian hours.”
“We’ve been gone that long?” It’s hard for me to believe. Will there be anything left?
He nods slowly. “But if I’m going to take you back, you have to know what you’re going to find. I’ll tell you what I know on the way.”
It’s the hardest decision of my life to turn the Helios around and not enter the wormhole. Leaving the chance to see my people again, leaving my chance to charge the healing bunk.
But she’s right, I can’t make this decision for her. She will hate me for it. And you made the same decision as she did, not so long ago.
I take one last look at the wormhole. Honestly, it might be for the best. When the Ardaks invaded, my rage at our helplessness had been…extreme. I watched the first wave of victims die, mostly the elderly and children, while our doctors worked tirelessly, trying to find a cure. I led our warriors in battle, holding off the Ardaks and rescuing as many as we could. We brought them to the space station before we realized the Ardaks had sent only a small invasion party to distribute the toxin. They were just going to wait until we died out on our own before coming to cleanse and inhabit the planet. But I enjoyed killing every last one of them.
The moment the fight was over and our fates were clear, my father came to me in my chambers on the station, taking a seat on the bunk beside me.
“Juordin, I have a job for you.”
I looked over at him. “More killing? Please tell me you’ve found a way to exterminate those damn cats as they’ve exterminated us.”
He examined his hands sadly. “No, son. And I think you’ve had enough of killing.”
I opened my mouth to argue, but he silenced me with a glance.
“I have a different job for you. One where you can do good rather than sit around here with the rest of us.” Waiting to die. He didn’t say it, but I finished the sentence bitterly for him in my mind.
I wanted to refuse. Wanted to crawl beneath the bunk and howl until my last moment approached. Or go out and kill more cats. But I looked into my father’s eyes, and knew I couldn’t. I saw his fear. Not fear of death, or fear for his people. Fear for me. His only son.
I couldn’t let him down.
I stood and rolled my shoulders back, and he stood with me.
Father to son.
King to prince.
“How can I be of service, Father?” I would do my duty till the end. I would make him proud.
I remember the hint of moisture in his eyes. There was so much we didn’t say that day. But we didn’t have to say it. And he’d been right. Gathering supplies for our survivors had given me purpose, allowed me to be of some small service to my people in the time I have left.
“Thank you,” my mate says, bringing me back to the present.
The princess comes and sits in the seat beside me.
“What’s your name?” she asks.
I almost laugh. We’ve been through an Ardak invasion, just had the best sex I’ve ever experienced, and we don’t know each other’s names. “Juordin.”
“Juordin,” she repeats.
Her accent is funny, but I like it.
“I’m Ande’ie. But you can call me Ande.” She observes the bridge. “This…space…ship is huge for one person.” She tests the word.
I nod. “It was built for four. But there just aren’t that many of my people left.”
I swallow my rage. She has to know what we’re going back to. “The Ardaks are insidious. Horrifying. It would be better if they wanted slaves. Or women. Or children. Anything except an empty planet.” I look into her eyes and I see unshed tears. They won’t remain that way for long. “My planet wasn’t given an opportunity to fight back. They released the toxin, and a year from now, all ten billion of us will be gone. Although the weakest—elderly, children, and those who have less stamina—have already died from the initial infection, and many of the others in the battles that followed.”
She gasped when I said the number, and now her hands cover her mouth, tears slipping down her cheeks.
“Your people don’t have space flight yet, princess. My people have spaceships, and healing bunks. We’ve cured cancer, aging, and almost all other diseases. We tried everything. Please believe me when I say there’s no way you can conquer this toxin.”
She raises her chin. “Then I will go back and take this toxin with them.”
I evade her gaze. “Unfortunately, that opportunity has passed. You’ve been gone long enough that the toxin will be inert. So you will live while the rest perish.”
She screams then. It’s loud, and shrill, and heartbreaking.
I wasn’t expecting it, but I should have been.
Her hands claw at her hair in grief.
It takes all of my strength not to reach for her. Not to try to cuddle her as if she’s a child.
The Ardaks aren’t going to go away.
She’s a warrior. A princess.
As I am a prince.
It is for us to bear these things, to stand upright when the rest of the world would bend.
I reach for her hand, and she takes it, gripping it tightly.
We sit there in silence, holding hands and staring out the viewscreen. It will be a long thirty-six hours until we get back to Lla’ei.
I hardly believe what Juordin has told me. Everyone on my planet is going to die.
I can see his grief, and his anger.
But though he might believe I’m simply going back to comfort them while they die, in my heart, I know there is more I can do.
I’m going to help my people. And then we’re going to help his people.
And I have only thirty-six hours to come up with a plan.
To be continued…
Please consider leaving a review on any reader site or blog you frequent. A preview of Part 2, Alien Intercourse follows the About the Author page, along with a preview of To Touch A Warrior.
Immortal Angel has lived a hundred lifetimes all in one. She’s a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife, and a best friend. She’s traveled the real world, enjoying what our three-dimensional reality has to offer. She’s hiked the stairs inside the Eiffel Tower. She’s watched a Shakespearean play in a grassy clearing outside of Cambridge, and she’s ridden a ferry to Ireland. In Australia, she cuddled koalas, in China, she cuddled pandas, and in the Middle East, she cuddled camels. And every time she opened a book, she entered a world beyond this one, one where the only limits are the imagination.
So many lifetimes of adventures have inspired her to reach beyond this planet to the stars above and to worlds rooted in fantasy. Her romances in space are meant to take her readers on their own adventures, imagining new and exciting place. With hot men. And maybe a few sexy aliens too.
You can follow Immortal Angel on Facebook, Twitter @ImmortalAngel22, and her blog .
I stare out the viewscreen at the endless sea of stars. The console is dark since the ship is on autopilot, and the night is as black as the hair of the warrior princess sleeping next to me. The tattoo on my shoulder, which warns me of my toxin levels, pokes at me.
I try not to think of the fact that we’re traveling away from a charge for my healing bunk rather than toward it. Or that the warrior princess next to me could help me better than even the healing bunk could.
Just wake her with a kiss…
I push the thought away with a sigh. She’s sleeping from pure exhaustion.
Not too much later, a motion out of the corner of my eye tells me Ande’ie has awakened. To my surprise, I realize how much I’ve missed her company since she’s been asleep. The ship was originally built for four, so two couples could easily enjoy interstellar travel. And although I’ve gotten used to flying it alone, it’s felt lonely and empty in a way it never has before. I find myself actually wanting to use the refreshment room, or the gaming area, rather than sitting on the bridge, thinking about how much I hate the Ardaks.
She is your mate. These feelings are natural.
I turn to watch her as her green eyes slowly open, fascinated by her every move. This woman. This beautiful creature. She is my everything.
She stretches, brushing her waist-length midnight hair back over her shoulders, her green gaze alighting on me. “How long was I asleep?”
I glance down at the console. “About five Lla’eian hours.”
Her eyes widen. “Five hours? When were you going to wake me?”
I wasn’t. I see those dark circles under your eyes, fierce little princess. That isn’t nearly enough sleep for how tired you are. “You need to be rested for what you’ll encounter when we reach your planet.”
She waves my comment away impatiently and jumps out of the copilot’s seat. “No, what I need to do is start planning.”
I smile. Most people feel groggy when they first awake. My warrioress wakes ready for battle. “Do you want something to eat before launching back into all of this?”
She shakes her head. “No time.”
“There’s always time.”
She starts to pace. “What I need is more information on the toxin and the cats.”
I sigh as the tattoo pokes at me again. Remember you felt this way not too long ago. She’ll need time to accept the truth.
“Tell me about the toxin.”
It’s a request, but beneath it I sense a core of steel. She isn’t going to let this go.
I stand and look down into the eyes of my mate, and my heart squeezes with anguish. I remember when I was just like her. Filled with hope. Praying that against all odds we’d be able to conquer the toxin and the Ardaks.
I can’t bear to tell her about the smell. The skies turning red as blood. The crying and the screaming as the youngest and eldest of us dropped in their tracks. The countless hours our scientists worked to no avail. So what can I tell her?
“Our scientists have concluded it is from a plant—many presume it’s on the Ardak homeworld. Did you notice their eyes glow red? We think that, although it’s a toxin to us, they are addicted to it.”
“And none of your medicines helped?”
I clench my fists so I don’t hit something. The pain is too fresh. What didn’t we try? My father met with our top doctors, scientists, and researchers morning, noon, and night. “Please forgive me. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know everything. All I know is that for some reason, this plant toxin is different than anything we’d encountered before.”
“If it’s a plant toxin, what about a plant medicine?”
Plant medicine? I try to hide my surprise. Only a truly backward planet would still depend on plants for cures. A picture forms in my mind of the people smearing mud on their wounds to heal themselves.
I try not to laugh. “We haven’t needed herbal medicines in centuries. I doubt they could provide a cure that our medicine couldn’t.”
“Why not? Perhaps a plant toxin needs a plant cure.”
Once again, she amazes me. “An interesting notion. I didn’t think you would know about plants or toxins.”
She freezes, a slight blush gracing her pale cheeks. “Being a princess doesn’t just mean wearing pretty dresses and dancing at balls, at least on my planet. It means that when my people suffer, I suffer. Many times in my life I’ve tended to the sick and wounded. Throughout our many wars and when plagues have swept our lands.”
Again, I’m surprised by the differences in our people. How long had it been since we’d had a war or a plague before the invasion? These people were truly still a youthful, inexperienced civilization. “So you are both a warrior and a healer.” Even with the differences in technology, she would make a fine princess even to my own people.
“I wouldn’t call myself a healer,” she said, her voice taking on a soft note. “I just know that for every plant toxin, there is a plant cure. Healer Surtoga always said so.”
I tilt my head skeptically. “Perhaps. But my people have already tried every possible avenue. If there were a plant cure available, we would have found it.”
“You haven’t tried my planet.”
A spark of unexpected hope flares in my chest, but instantly I stamp it down. It’s possible, but very, very unlikely.
I motion to the door exiting the bridge. “That’s true. As I said, I’m not a scientist—or a doctor. Let me take you to a different room where you will have access to all of our records. You can look through all of our video files.”
“Video files?” she asks as she follows me out the door and down the hall.
Right. “Do you have television on your planet?”
She looks at me blankly.
“It’s a video that flies through the air from a transmitting antenna, to be caught by the receiving antenna, and projected onto a screen.”
“Oh! Invisiview! Yes, we have it.”
I’m relieved she has some concept of this technology. Although based on my experience on her planet, Invisiview is probably very different from our video system.
Her green eyes show a spark of interest, and despite the direness of the situation, I’m glad I can share it with her.
As I suspected, our technology is worlds apart. I laugh as she asks about “reels” of video and enjoy the look of shock and wonder as I show her the screen I use for research. Thirty minutes later, she’s a pro. So smart. So quick and curious.
She pulls up a video of the sky back at Tuorin. Red rolls across it as the poison is released into the atmosphere. My entire chest tightens, and I realize I’m shaking as I try to catch my breath. I’d thought the horrifying images in my mind were bad, but actually seeing a video of it again triggers emotions I’ve been trying to suppress. I need to get out of here.
I brush my fingers down her back, trying to sound calm. “Feel free to watch anything you like. I’m going back to the bridge.”
She glances up at me, and her eyes widen. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t even think—”
“It’s fine.” How can she read me so easily?
“I know this is hard, but I’m going to find a way to save my people, and yours.”
Taking a step away from her, I hide my doubt. “Let me know if you need anything.”
As much as I hate the fact that she knows why I’m leaving, I’m still going to go.
Besides the horror I feel at the images, the tattoo on my shoulder is starting to poke at me insistently. I’m leaving so I can keep my hands off her.
I watch the vids mostly in disbelief. Juordin’s planet is so far ahead of mine, the technology so advanced, that it’s difficult to focus only on the information about the toxins. Even the words they use to describe things are difficult to understand. I grab paper and a writing instrument after only a few minutes, and kept stopping the video to take notes.
I’m beginning to understand why Juordin believes there’s no cure. The scientists on his planet really have tried everything they can think of, and most of them are still working on it. The video in front of me is the last one, and a scientist speaks to a person with a microphone. The camera angle is very close, and I can see that the air has a reddish tint.
“Is there anything we can do?” The questioner’s voice has a helpless note to it.
The scientist rubs his chin. “The only thing we’ve found to slow the progression of the toxin is endorphins.”
“Endorphins—you mean like…”
“The ones produced when exercising, when laughing, and even from the healing bunk.” He clears his throat. “But despite all the drugs and tools we’ve created, the best method of producing them for this purpose is by having sex.”
The questioner almost drops the microphone in surprise. “You mean…”
“Everyone should have as much sex as possible. Yes.” The scientist looks directly at the camera. “We will be distributing the supply of endorphins we have for healing bunks, but it would obviously be helpful if all citizens would try their best to create their own endorphins. The supply will go first to the unmated citizens, and citizens too young for mates.”
The video ends, and I start another one. This one discusses the time frame of the toxin. My heart sinks as I hear their conclusion. At best, even with the endorphin treatments, they have one year to live.
One year before an entire race of people dies.
I feel sick. Climbing to my feet, I turn and head back to the command room.
“Juordin.” His purple gaze turns to mine.
I blink back tears. “If we don’t do something, all of our people will be dead soon, and it will just be you and me.”
He turns to look out the viewscreen, avoiding my gaze. “Listen…”
“How did it happen for you? Were you in space, too, when the virus hit?”
“No,” he says, softly. “I was on Tuorin.”
My mind turns slowly. “How is that possible?”
He doesn’t answer me.
Every hair on my body stands on end as a chill runs through my blood. “Look at me.”
He doesn’t, hiding his face behind his long waves of brown and gold hair.
“Look at me, dammit.”
Finally he does, and I hate the pain in his eyes. I hate what it means.
I can’t seem to catch my breath. “Are you…dying?”
“Yes,” he whispers, the word barely perceivable over the noise of the engine.
Deadly silence fills the room. I have no words to fill the empty space. The ache in my heart.
After a few minutes, he speaks again, his voice low. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”
“Sorry?” The word seems meaningless in this situation.
He nods. “I know this is a lot.”
“No.” I raise my head. “We’ll put you in the healing…thing, and you’ll be fine.”
He gives me a slight smile, one that seems sad. “Even then, you know my time is limited. And I need to recharge it again before I can use it.”
“So recharge it,” I order him, crossing my shaking arms over my chest.
He takes a deep breath. “The only way to charge it is to go back to Tuorin.”
Again, I have that odd feeling, as if everything is hitting me at once, but my mind just can’t process what I’m hearing. “So why did you turn around instead of going there first?”
His gaze flies to the viewscreen again, avoiding mine.
I cross the bridge to where he sits in the captain’s chair. Emotions flood my senses. I want to scream at him. I want to hit him. I want to hold him.
But in the end I just stand there, paralyzed.
Waiting for an answer.
“Because you asked me to.” The words are quiet.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I demand.
“Would it have changed your mind?” he counters.
I throw my hands up in the air. “Damn right it would have.”
He starts. “Really?”
“Of course. You didn’t give me any options. If I’d known we could recharge your healing bunk and then go back to Lla’ei, I would have done it.”
He looks out the window again. “Then I apologize. Since the toxin hit…I haven’t been myself. We were about to go through the wormhole. You were demanding to go back. I had taken you without permission…so I made the best decision I could at the time.”
He looks tired. Beaten.
I instantly feel ashamed for yelling at him. His entire planet is dying. He’s sick himself. And he gave up the chance to charge his healing bunk for you. Who knows how sane you would be in his place?
Another thought hits me. “But…isn’t there another way to help heal you…to prolong the effects of the poison?”
His heated gaze runs over my body, and I feel my insides tighten. “Yes. A far better one than the healing bunk.”
I push aside my sadness and my shock as a quiver races through my body. I remember what the vid said. Endorphins. “Then, let me help you.”
He doesn’t move, doesn’t speak.
I can’t resist the urge to hold him anymore. He can push me away if he really wants to. I step forward and sit on his lap, wrapping my arms around him.
It takes a second, but then I feel his arms come around me in return. His embrace is strong, sure. It’s hard to believe he’s dying.
You can’t change that, but there is something you can do to prolong it.
I lean in and brush his lips with mine.
The private spacecraft touched down in the ship yard with a familiar groan. Hannah swung her booted feet off the oversized chair in front of her, and pressed her palms against the window. A few people outside had turned to stare.
Her dad just had to travel in style! Yeah, the small craft moved faster and smoother than most, but just the sight of it would tell everyone that someone uncommonly wealthy and powerful travelled inside.
Which was exactly the opposite of what she wanted.
At least mother hadn’t come. The woman had been a sobbing mess. The academy was already like a ghost, its memories haunting her mother with every step. Seeing her daughter there… Hannah couldn’t even imagine how badly that would’ve ended.
But how to deal with her father?
She leaned back in her chair and regarded him. Here goes nothing!
“It might be better if you waited in the ship,” she suggested in her least argumentative voice.
Her father lowered his computer interface, one brow raised in annoyance. “Do you think I travelled with you all the way here simply to-- how did you put it? Wait in the ship?”
Disappointment flared. A true parent would’ve understood that an adult child deserved independence. Even on one of the most important days of her life, it was ‘the commander’ escorting her to the academy, not her father. She should’ve known the moment he’d donned his deep blue uniform, perfectly starched and pressed as always.
You did know, her brain insisted, but the ache in her heart said she’d hoped she was wrong.
“Please?” she forced a smile.
He raised his interface once more, so only his neatly trimmed, steel-gray hair peeked over the top of it. “I pulled more strings than you can possibly imagine to allow you to attend The Starflight Academy under your mother’s maiden name. Even though I consider it an insult to my family. I will not act as your chauffeur, too.”
Hannah took a deep breath, fighting the urge to explode. “There isn’t much point in all of that if we enter the school together- now, is there?” she challenged.
He glared over the top of his computer. “If I had it my way, you’d either be attending the academy with guards at your side, around the clock, or I’d simply assign you a position on my ship. And before you interrupt me, yes, I do admire your desire to follow in my footsteps. After all your training already, I think it requires a certain kind of person to be willing to attend this challenging of a program, simply because your drive to never settle for less.” He paused. “That’s a Stowe family trait I might add.”
His praise, even wrapped in anger, stunned her. Perhaps he was starting to think of how much he was going to miss her when she was gone. Regardless about how much he mumbled about his ‘rebellious’ child.
“BUT,” he added, squashing her hopes with one word. “I also think your ego is outweighing your intelligence. Being my child is dangerous. The fact that you want to pretend otherwise doesn’t make the truth of your situation any different. By going here, you are putting yourself and me at risk.”
It took her a second to answer. And when she did, her words came out dangerously calm. “One day I’m going to be the captain of a class ten ship, and there is nothing in the world anyone can do to stop me.”
Her father didn’t respond. His gaze was already back on his screen.
Frustrated, she tapped her fingers on her leg, feeling precious seconds ticking away. She needed to change his mind before it was too late. She was twenty-one god-damn years old, she didn’t need her daddy to drop her off, and she certainly didn’t need the Fleet Admiral ruining any chance she had at a normal academy experience.
“We both know why I don’t want to be connected to you here.” The idea of living in her father’s shadow forever made her feel as if the walls were closing in around her. “But you’ve got to admit, the less people who know I’m your daughter, the safer I’ll be.”
There was a moment of silence. “This topic is closed.” Then, after a moment, he added. “We both know how gravely you want to be free of me, but remember, your people still need you. Whenever I call, your service to us will come above all else.”
Like he would ever let her forget.
She touched the small scar just below her hairline. “I remember.”
Looking back out her window, she stared at the crowded dock. Spaceships of all shapes and sizes had come from many worlds to drop the next class of students at the prestigious academy. She wanted to be anonymous among them. To create a new life, a new reputation for herself based upon her own merit.
At the same time, it wasn’t smart to push her father. She’d learned a long time ago that if she did, he would simply say no, and there wasn’t enough begging, pleading, or threatening in the world that would change his mind. But that left her few options in a situation like this.
A lot of people said his decisiveness was one of the many reasons he made such a great commander of the Earth fleet. But it made a lousy quality in a father. He simply didn’t bend. Ever.
“I hope William is here.” Her best friend was the one person who understood her complicated relationship with her father, and she’d missed him fiercely over the past few weeks.
“I wouldn’t count on it.”
She stiffened at her father’s response, not realizing she’d spoken her thoughts aloud.
“It’d take a miracle for him to reach Turonga. Without a private ship, he’d need a great deal of money and a whole lot of luck to find someone able to fly him this far,” he stated, not looking up from whatever he was reading on his computer. “The Academy strives to accept its recruits from families of good-standing. A gardener’s son is hardly—“
“You mean families with money.” Heat rushed over her as anger built.
“Contrary to what you think of me, it isn’t his lack of money that concerns me as much as his race. Chamyions are gutless weasels. His father was a gardener. His father before him was a gardener, and if I was going to make a bet, I’d say this boy will be a gardener, as well. Working on a ship requires a certain… strength of spirit and will that his genetics simply don’t lend themselves to.”
She clenched the plush handles on her seat and leaned forward. “You don’t know him at all. He’ll be here.” She paused only a second, not long enough to stop her words before they came. “Although we could’ve guaranteed it if we’d only allowed him to use our ship.”
He lowered his computer and met her unwavering gaze. “If he can’t make it here on his own, he’ll never pass the test to get in. It would’ve been a waste of all our time.”
She stood. “You just wait—“
“Sit down,” he commanded, his tone no longer that of a father, but a captain. “This isn’t the time for female hysterics.”
Every muscle begged her to do exactly the opposite. Her heart urged her to shatter his computer console against the window. But her mind knew how all of this would end, which was quite badly. He’d probably march her right up to the front door and announce her identity to the entire academy.
With effort, she forced herself to sit.
Her heart pounded. William had to be here! And he had to pass the test! That would show her father he was wrong.
The door to their ship opened and father set his computer down. Rising to his feet, he smoothed the deep blue fabric of his uniform and strode out the door and down the carpeted steps. “Dean Sufters, Professor Walters, how good of you both to meet me here.”
The dean’s voice was grave as she answered back. “Of course. The new recruits will be amazed to see Fleet Admiral Stowe here to greet them.”
Their voices grew quieter. Glancing back through the window, she saw them walking across the spaceship dock. The dean raised her bony arms in one direction, and then the other, pointing out things around the docking yard.
Now is my chance.
Grabbing her duffel bag, she sprang out of her seat and down the steps. Instantly, the commotion of the dock sent her pulse jumping in excitement. Engines roared as spaceships both landed and took off. Airspace Marshal’s in flashing yellow clothes directed traffic. Chattering students walked the path leading into The Academy, causing their own sort of chaos.
It hit her, she’d never felt more at home anywhere in her life.
Darting toward the wide pedestrian path, she effortlessly avoided baggage cars; all while kept her eyes on the skies. Just in case. She didn’t want to be the woman nearly squashed by a spaceship. Not on her first day.
An Airspace Marshal glared at her, blocking her way. “Where’s your escort? Do you have any idea how dangerous it is to be running through the dock unaccompanied—“
“Apologies!” she shouted, ignoring his warning.
She didn’t slow until she stepped onto the glowing blue surface of the path. Glancing back at her father, his attention was completely consumed by whatever conversation he was having. Good. But it wasn’t until she was out of his sight that she finally took a deep breath and eased into a walk.
Her father would be angry when he discovered she’d left, but he wouldn’t do anything about it. Because if he did, everyone would know that the great Fleet Admiral Stowe might be able to effortlessly control the skies, but not his daughter. Never her.
She was free for the first time in her life! Or at least as free as she could ever be. Her father would have eyes everywhere, watching her. But this was not like being back at their mansion, or on board her father’s ship the Allure. She’d finally get to interact with people whose jobs and lives didn’t depend on her father.
And there would be lots of other people around her age. What would that even be like?
Stopping, she looked up at the towering school building. Made from a pristine white stone, it was both beautiful and extremely strong. It had endured five attacks over its three hundred years, and although she knew a few sections had been rebuilt, the rest showed no signs of any of it. At twelve stories tall, with glittering windows, it was everything she’d always dreamed of. And more.
This is what she’d been working her entire life for. In one year from today, she’d be graduating from the best flight academy in the universe. After that, she wouldn’t be given a Level Ten ship right off the bat, but eventually, she’d be the third woman in history to every command such a large vessel.
She smiled. That was the plan. All she had to do was stay focused.
A ship flew overhead, but the sound it made was a soft hum, unlike anything she’d heard before. It landed lightly, like a bird settling upon a branch, rather than a giant mechanism touching down. Her jaw dropped. It was a living ship.
Bright green and the size of a small building, twisting vines made up its hull. There were windows and weapons woven into the outside, a seamless combination of technology and nature. Tiny white flowers sprung in intricate patterns, giving it a beauty that lacked in the ships around it.
She took a step towards it. Only Keltairs could fly a living ship. They were given to a child when they reached puberty and grew with the child, if given enough care. She’d studied them extensively, since peace with the Keltairs never seemed to last for long. And her father had taught her- it was important to always know one’s enemy.
But what was a Keltair doing at the academy?
She turned instantly at the familiar voice, all thoughts of the unique ship gone with her excitement. “William!”
He grinned and started to jog towards her down the path. His thin body moved almost awkwardly as he ran. He slowed a bit, raising one hand to push back his dark glasses as they slid down his nose. His pale green skin looked paler beneath the harsh sunlight of Turonga. For an instant, she wondered why he wasn’t wearing his floppy hat over his bald head to help protect his sensitive skin. But as he drew closer, his widening smile pushed away her concerns.
“You’re here! I’ve been waiting for you to arrive.”
She embraced him. “I’m so glad you made it.”
Tears choked her throat as they clung to each other for a long moment, before she pulled back.
His face was flushed. “I told you nothing would stop me.”
“And, you’re officially in?”
He pulled a neatly folded paper from the pocket of his frayed shirt and opened it gently. “I just got the notice.”
She hugged him again, crushing the paper between them. People said the gardener’s son was over-reaching when he became her unofficial training partner in preparation for the academy. But she’d known better.
In her life, she’d come across many different people, and she knew he had it in him to be a great engineer on a spaceship. So, she’d made him her partner whenever she trained at the mansion, teaching him all she learned from her ‘official’ tutors aboard the Allure.
Even knowing that he’d never be recruited for the academy, he’d focused on learning everything he needed to know to become a spaceship engineer. He’d have to join the one percent of people who arrived the week before sign-up to be tested. If he passed, he’d be given a full scholarship to attend. She’d spent the past three weeks wondering if he’d not only made it safely to Turonga, but also if he’d passed the test. The fact that he’d done both was almost miraculous.
“I’m so proud of you.” She squeezed his arms, then released him, shifting her bag. “Do you know what group you’ll be in?”
He avoided her gaze. “The Hawks.”
It took her a second to recover from her surprise. “That’s… that’s amazing!”
The hawks were the most elite group of trainees. She’d been placed in it with ease, but from a young age she’d spent day in and day out on a Level 10 spaceship learning the ropes of her future career firsthand. The Hawks were groomed for such success from the time they were born. The fact that William had gotten into it… well, it was yet another miracle.
“Yeah,” he said. “It was a surprise to me, too.”
“Wow,” she pushed a strand of her long, black hair out of her face. “Has a walk-on ever entered the Hawks before?”
He shrugged. “Not sure.”
“Well, we’ll have to celebrate for sure.” She tried to hide her shock with pleasure. “And now we’ll have at least our core classes together.”
He nodded, staring down at his feet.
A sound from behind made her turn around. The live ship had opened. The most incredible man she’d ever seen stepped out. His shirt was unbuttoned, showing off his impossibly muscular chest. Even his stomach was covered in hard, tanned muscles.
Something within her clenched. She didn’t know what a human was doing coming out of a Keltair ship, and she didn’t care.
He was big, bigger than any man she’d seen before. His dark hair, left a little shaggy, and his scruff of beard gave him the undeniable look of a man who knew what he wanted and simply took it. She bit her lip. Alpha males were a particular weakness of hers, and this man set off every alarm she had while he simultaneously drew her toward him. Like gravity.
His gaze snapped up to meet hers. The world melted away. Need flashed in his dark eyes. His jaw tensed. She could sense his physical response to her. It was an electric current running between them. He strode towards her purposely.
“Hello?” William stepped in front of her, trying to get her attention.
She almost pushed him out of the way. “Move.”
Anger flashed across his face. “Too busy checking out the eye candy to notice that Fleet Admiral Stowe is heading straight for you?”
It was like a face full of cold water. She looked behind her, and sure enough, her father was heading in her direction. No one else would’ve noticed the flicker of annoyance in his eyes, but she knew, and she had no intention of dealing with it.
They hurried towards the academy building. She allowed herself one last chance to look back at Mr. Muscles. His eyes were locked on her as he stared around a Keltair who’d blocked his path.
Good. That was dangerous. She’d promised herself no more than a one night stand or two to get herself through the academy. And that man didn’t fit the bill. He was the sort of guy she’d want to spend weeks on, exploring every inch of him. She’d want to know what turned him on. She’d want to bend him to her will and leave him begging for satisfaction.
She felt herself growing wet.
Shit. She was glad she’d brought her trusty vibrator, Turbo. Otherwise, this year was going to be the most frustrating one of her life. But she could manage, with Turbo’s help, just as long as she stayed as far away as possible from Mr. Muscles.
But for some reason, she was sure the real thing looked a hell of a lot better than something she’d have to leave charging by her bed each night.
Liam wanted his father, Gurgo, to get the hell out of the way. The woman he’d just seen wanted to be fucked as badly as he wanted to fuck her. He could sense her needs from across the ship yard, and damn if he didn’t want to satisfy them.
“Are you listening to me?” the large Keltair invaded his space, puffing his chest out in a show of dominance.
Liam knew better than to back down. He let his gaze run from the two white horns sharpened to deadly points on his head, down to his deep brown face. The silver eyes that stared back at him grew paler in anger.
“I heard you the first time.”
His father grasped his shoulders, squeezing them so hard Liam had to fight to ignore the growing pain. “This human academy is a dangerous place to be. Do you understand me? You have grown into a man, but you are not yet ready to Bond with a female. This place cares nothing for your unique needs as a Keltair. They will throw you in with their wanton females and rely on your own control.”
Staring into his father’s eyes, he didn’t blink. “I have lain with too many females to count. I don’t fear them the way you do.”
His father spat on the ground. “Laying with them is different than being surrounded by them. Understand me well, son of my blood. If you form too close a relationship with any of them, I will have you removed to a Keltair training center. I will not risk you Bonding with a human who will toss you aside and leave you forever weakened, unable to Bond with another. Do you understand?”
He shoved his father’s hands away. “I do not need to be told the obvious or threatened like a youngling.”
They exchanged glares for one long instance before his father growled, “enough! I must pay my respects.” His voice grew harsher. “Not for the last time I’m sure.”
He turned away, heading for the academy.
Liam watched him go. Had there ever been a better father? Not many males would push aside their pride to help their son. Or fight so hard to allow me to train with the humans. Regardless of how his father despised the idea.
Liam took a deep breath, pushing his thoughts aside, and looked back for the female. She was gone.
He closed his eyes and pictured her. Big breasts, a narrow waist, long legs. Her body pleased him in every way. Then, his thoughts strayed to her face. Had he ever seen eyes that color of green before? Never. They drew him in. He wanted to see how they widened with awe as he entered her. He’d grasp her fine mane of black hair and take her deeply.
A ship lifted off noisily beside him, and he clenched his fists. What a time to be growing hard with need. The woman wasn’t even present to please him!
Turning back to his live ship, he reached in and took his bag. Unconsciously, he ran his knuckles along the hard shell of its body. Rest. Grow. I shall be back.
The ship gave a soft hum of acknowledgment.
An Airspace Marshal waved his hands in front of Liam’s face, gesturing for him to move to the path. Liam wrapped one large hand around the side of his throat and drew him so close their breath mixed. The man gave a tiny squawk and shrunk back.
These are humans, not Keltairs. He chided himself.
Against his instincts, he loosed his grip on the man and let him wiggle free. “Continue as you were,” he said, then tried to give a reassuring smile.
The man shot away .
They already think that having a half-Keltair at the academy will be a problem. I need to show them that we’re not all war and death. That peace between our nations is plausible. I need to remember the time before my father took me, the days with mother.
He decided right then and there that he would do better. It would be difficult, but he’d relearn what it was to interact the human way.
When he entered the academy, he was surprised by how large and grand it was. A Keltair would’ve called such a place a useless waste. When they trained, they selected the most dangerous terrains and pitted the males against each other. Mercy was for the weak, and only the strong survived. This place was…dainty. Pretty even.
He hoped he’d made the right choice in coming here. He gritted his teeth. It had to be. If he ever wanted to serve on a ship other than a Keltair war machine, he’d need to graduate from here. And even then, the prejudice against his Keltair half would limit his options.
Unless he proved himself a thousand times over.
He joined a line of students, waiting for their assignments.
A pretty red-head turned around. Her eyes widened, and she spun back around. Not so subtly, she elbowed a petite blonde beside her. The other woman turned, and after the initial shock, let her mouth curve into a smile.
“Hello, I’m Summer.”
He sensed her need, but he felt no stirrings of passion. Which was strange. She was pretty enough, wasn’t she? “Hello.”
“You didn’t tell me your name,” she said, blinking her big lashes slowly.
“L…i…a…m,” she stretched out his name into four syllables, licking her lips. “I like it.”
An officer in black shouted for the next person in line, and the two women flushed with embarrassment.
“Maybe I’ll see you around,” Summer whispered, winked and left.
He watched the two get their assignments with little interest. These women stirred nothing inside of him. Unlike the dark-haired beauty. His muscles tightened. It was the strange woman’s fault. Once he buried himself inside of her, he could move on to the next woman. Like he always did.
“Next!” the officer shouted.
He approached the man and noticed how his annoyed expression faltered. The officer took his papers and typed into his computer. Liam knew the moment he realized that he was part Keltair, the officers lips curled.
“Your assignment is The Hawks. Top floor.” His disgust was poorly concealed. “They’re the best, and usually include our most talented recruits.”
Liam leaned in as he took his papers. “Thank you.”
The man cringed.
As he walked away, Liam felt a spark of pride. Not only hadn’t he grabbed the man’s head and smashed it against the desk, he’d been polite. After eleven years of being under his father’s care, he would slowly remember the ten year old boy who used to cook beside his mother in the kitchen. Who smiled and meant it. He would let the human side of him finally come free, now that he knew that part of him wouldn’t get him killed.
His time with The Academy would be wonderful. He’d find himself again. He’d interact with humans once more. Maybe even make some friends.
And he’d track down the beautiful dark-haired woman and satisfy himself until the tension building inside of him fled.
Last night I thought there could be nothing worse than waking up to the same dull routine. The insanity of doing the same thing every day, but expecting a change. As it turns out, I was wrong. When great flying machines descend from the sky, my world is thrown into chaos. Who are these terrible metal monsters? Until today, I never imagined aliens existed. But when they begin throwing red poison into the sky—it's obvious we need to find a plan. Fast. How can I fight these creatures from space? What I need is a warrior, and the tall, purple-eyed swordsman who saves me seems to fit the bill. He takes me up in his metal space ship and shows me things I’ve never seen before. And his kisses make me want him more each time our lips meet. But when the hard-headed warrior tells me he’ll stop at nothing to protect me, he quickly finds I feel the same about my people. Who will win this battle of wills? And will it be in time to save us all?