Authors: Kimber Vale
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509 Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © Published 2013, Kimber Vale. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
Lust flares hot and bright when Stella Aims’ world collides with the gorgeous and mysterious Noth Zobor. The tall dark stranger doesn’t speak a word of English, but Stella is happy to teach him everything she knows, including a crash course in the universal language of love. Their passion burns down to sweet and smoldering before Stella’s reality is completely spun around.
People aren’t always what they seem—but what if they aren’t even human?
Concerned that Noth’s been lying to her, Stella searches for him and walks into a trap straight out of a nightmare. When she wakes, she finds the real deception was far worse than she ever suspected, and her lover is not at all what he seems. Forgiving him might be the easiest thing Stella has to do, because getting out alive and saving her fellow humans from captivity and experimentation will be the toughest challenge of her life.
Can lovers from two different planets overcome forces that push them galaxies apart? When the fate of two species hangs in the balance, love may be the only thing strong enough to save them all and give hope for a new future.
To my own Mr. Big.
Thank you, Steph, for being the best cheerleader I could ever hope for. Thanks to Dana, Madison, and Noah for your beta reads. And finally, thank you, Jean. You are the editing queen.
4478 Grelf—Two Earth Years Before Present Time
The scream that splintered through his head was a cry of pain and frustration. Thick with despair, it pulled Noth Zobor out of bed from a sound sleep and had him frantically pulling on clothes. The voice could belong to only one of two Artanians. The mental connection Noth shared with his sister and their mother did not extend to anyone outside their family.
The cry came from Ekka. His sister needed him.
He stubbed his
as he dashed to the teleportation device in the inky darkness. He never slowed, despite the pain. Later he would discover a darkly bruised area, but tonight the agony he sensed pouring from his sister blocked out all else.
A small percentage of Artanians shared thought transference with close relatives. It was not entirely uncommon. Approximately one in ten possessed similar special skills. Tonight, as never before, Noth was extremely thankful for their bond.
Noth materialized in Ekka’s apartment with her howl still ringing in his head. The place was nearly as dark as his home, save for the crack of light under the washroom door. Flinging it open wide, he was jolted by the sight before him. The water in the large bathing tub was tinged scarlet by the rivulets of life fluid that pulsed from his sister’s jagged wounds. Her eyelids fluttered at the sound of his intrusion but did not open.
He bound the self-inflicted cuts and then tenderly lifted her from the water.
“Why, Ekka?” he asked, as he bundled her shivering body in a large cloth. “Why do you want to end your life?” The notion was incomprehensible to him.
“Drang left me.”
Noth had not realized Ekka’s sworn life partner was missing until she spoke the Artanian’s name. But why would he leave? They had been happy and well matched, or so Noth had thought.
“He was propositioned with a more suitable fertility match. I can never give him offspring. I am worthless as a breeding partner.”
“You are not worthless! The fault is not yours, Ekka. No females are carrying successful pregnancies any longer. Drang will not attain his goals elsewhere. He has lost a beautiful, compassionate, and intelligent partner because of his stupidity.”
He walked swiftly to the teleporter as he spoke.
Keep talking. Do not allow her to close her eyes.
“Have you heard the Embassy is hiring a team of experts to solve our reproductive crisis, Ekka?”
She glanced up with glazed eyes, but a spark of hope lit in them. It burned through the pain he read in her visage.
“What do they plan?” Ekka’s voice was frighteningly weak.
“They are scanning the intergalactic samples we harvested after the
The brutal massacre of almost half the population had occurred when Noth was an infant. Though the war was many
ago, it taught the Artanians a valuable lesson: know your enemies. The invading party was eventually defeated, but they left a lasting mark. Immediately afterward, the astrophysicists, scientists, and astronomers of Artanos had pinpointed the location of all life forms in neighboring galaxies. They collected samples of the varying genetic material. Four-dimensional travel via a magnetic vortex allowed the Artanians to stretch their sensors throughout space, to thoroughly identify their neighbors and categorize all potential threats.
If an alien invasion ever occurred again they were prepared.
Ekka gazed up at him with dark eyes dulled with pain. “How will such research help us?”
“There is a small planet in the
galaxy. Its sentient race calls itself ‘human.’ They are a near genetic match to us.”
Ekka’s eyes were closed, but she murmured, “How can that be?”
“A group from Artanos may have colonized the planet long ago. The blood-code makeup is strikingly similar to ours, but no historical evidence exists of Artanian migration. If we share a common origin, we took different evolutionary paths in the subsequent generations. There may be hope for us if these Earth females can serve as surrogates, Ekka.”
Noth stepped into the wide, clear tube with his burden. Ekka felt frail, lighter than a child. She did not respond again. He held her pressed against his strong chest as he programmed the code for the emergency medical facility, and then placed his hand on the sensor.
“Hold on, Ekka. I promise I will make it all better.”
Somehow, he would.
* * * *
4481 Grelf, Present Time, Artanos
“When is the Embassy going to make their final decision?”
Noth glanced up at his mother. He had a reading device on his lap, but the characters on the screen were a blur. Her voice startled him out of his reverie.
“The message said by
.” He glanced at the timekeeper on the wall. It appeared to be frozen so it would never reach the midday hour.
His mother smiled knowingly at him. “Ekka is certain your project will save our race. She has immense faith in you, Noth, as do I.”
“Provided I am chosen.” His voice was gruff, the strain of the long wait chipping away at his patience.
It was a highly prestigious and difficult position. The government wanted a medical doctor who specialized in fertility. A candidate proficient in languages was needed to rapidly learn the Earthlings’ speech.
you will be selected. There is no one more qualified, Noth.”
The signal transmitter strapped to Noth’s wrist buzzed as if on cue. His mother looked down at it and then locked her black eyes with his. A hesitant smile pulled at her lips.
“The Embassy?” Her voice was a hushed whisper.
Noth double-checked the number displayed on the coin-sized screen. It was the call he had dreamed of for so many
phases. He’d watched Artanos’ largest moon grow full time and again, but now the waiting had finally ended.
“It is. I must go.” Noth stood, his face a placid mask despite the turmoil that racked his gut. Fear, excitement, relief, and most of all, hope took equal turns spinning his emotions into a confused knot. He leaned down to kiss his mother’s smooth bald head as his own chaotic hair spilled across his brow.
Would he ever get used to the strange human hair? It needed cutting. Again. Terribly annoying, but the grueling transplants and human hormone therapy he’d received might have been the key to this call now. If so, it was worth it. He’d spend the next sixty
cutting the stuff if it meant he could work on this project. The strands certainly gave him an edge over the other applicants.
His mother spoke in his head as he strode out the door to the teleporter.
“All you have worked for, my son—all the sacrifice and suffering will be justified if you can make them do this terrible thing compassionately.”
Her words were thick with emotion, though they were telepathically communicated.
When the governing body of Artanos, the Embassy, had announced the available position of head medical director for their repopulation plan, Noth’s interest was piqued. He’d researched every nuance of the endeavor the council had mapped out. He did not disagree with the necessity for drastic measures, as there had not been a full-term pregnancy on Artanos in nearly ten
. Without a solution, the entire species was destined to become extinct.
However, he desperately wanted to ensure the human females were treated gently during the procedures. Noth became more determined to become medical director when the Embassy announced Commander Syrwv Krael would head the capture and containment operation. The Artanian military leader was well known for her ruthless nature.
He gazed at his mop of hair in the reflection that grimaced back at him from the smooth glass of the teleporter.
Scrion, I look odd.
The teleportation sensor screen swirled with an iridescent blue-silver liquid. Noth placed a palm on the machine as the glowing particles flowed toward his touch and outlined the shape of his hand. He closed his eyes, concentrating on his destination, and cringed as his teeth chattered with the familiar vibration. A
later his body disintegrated into a mass of particles.
Present Day, Earth
“I know. English is a ridiculous language.”
Stella Aims bent over the desk of one of her students. Actually, she wasn’t the instructor in this English conversation class, just an assistant to her peers. Stella was a full-time student at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, but her Spanish proficiency had earned her a minimum wage work-study position in the class. The year spent as an exchange student in Spain during high school had done more than make her a year older than most of her senior class. It also made her fluent in the language.
The majority of students in the night class were adults from Mexico and commuters to the college. There were a few whose native tongue was Chinese or Russian, and the professor was better able to assist those people. But about 75 percent were Spanish-speaking, which made Stella the perfect woman for the assistant teacher job.
Stella lived in the dorms a quarter mile across the scenic campus. Sure, she only made a paltry forty bucks a week on this gig, but it was an easy commute, and it paid for Chinese take-out or a full gas tank.
The real clincher, though, was how great it would look on her resume. A Spanish teacher with experience teaching native Spanish-speakers English? Priceless. At least, she hoped so when she graduated next semester. Time would tell.
“You teach special?” Luis made good eye contact with her cleavage as he spoke. Stella straightened up and pretended she had no idea what he was talking about. That wasn’t difficult since she was rather confused by the question.
Special ed? Have a special way of teaching?
“You teach special class for me? My home?”
Just what she had been afraid of when she’d caught him peeking down the front of her shirt.
Buddy, not if you were the last man on Earth. I’d rather watch the human race die out.
Luis was fortyish, had about half the teeth he’d been given by God, and smelled like reefer and gorgonzola most of the time. He was trying to make himself marketable for employment in America, which was commendable, but if he’d asked, she would have recommended losing the vices and developing better hygiene to start.
“I’m afraid that sort of thing isn’t allowed.” She spoke sympathetically, a tight smile winding up her mouth. When he appeared to be playing dumb to her plain English she added, “
,” with a firm head shake. She turned to search for another raised hand and made a mental note to wear a turtleneck to her next class.
Why did she attract the wrong sort of men all the time?