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- Second-chance Mate
- Playboy in Disguise
- Divorced Heroine
- Forced Proximity
- Protective Hero
- Finding True Worth
I refuse to be strapped to a single man ever again, especially the annoyingly attractive alien who thinks a one-night-stand means forever...
Emerging from the ashes of a suffocating marriage, I set off on a luxury space cruise, envisioning a universe of new beginnings. Surrounded by tempting extraterrestrial men, it's a blue-skinned charmer named Kiozhi who leaves me spellbound. But I've learned my lesson—no more shackles, no matter how enchanting the chains might be.
Haunted by the agony of lost love, I've donned the guise of the galaxy's playboy. But Suzanne's arrival unravels me. She's a beacon, my unexpected second-chance mate. My attempts to captivate her, though, are riddled with cultural missteps, from misunderstood gestures to befuddling human nuances, and she rejects me at every turn.
Then an ill-fated shuttle trip strands us on a perilous planet, forcing us to rely on each other to survive. Amidst the threats, can our budding love heal old wounds and light the way to a future neither of us thought possible?
Dive into a galaxy-spanning tale of humor, heart, and sizzling chemistry. These unforgettable characters will linger in your heart.
Intro Into Chapter One
Intro Into Chapter One
"You look like you could use a swig or ten of something strong," I say to Tazhio as we step onto the crowded observation deck.
This is the first night of the Intergalactic Dating Agency’s inaugural cruise with human passengers, and the effervescent sensation of hundreds of emotions prickle against my empathic senses. The nebula shining through the dome overhead bathes everyone in an aurora of pastel colors, and a small band plays an upbeat Fogarian waltz while people on the dance floor spin and sway.
Tazhio has the worried look of an old man who's lost his way. He snags two glasses of Lensoran bubbly from a passing tray. "Got it covered."
He didn’t want to be here tonight, but he’s a good friend and agreed to be my wingman, a human term for one male who supports another during courting. Like me, he’s Kirenai, but he’s in his Hypawan form, which looks mostly human except for overly large eyes and very thick hair. As part of the crew, he wears a white uniform that stands out amidst the mostly black clothing worn by everyone else.
I smile, take a glass for myself, then turn my attention back to the humans. My human-style finery—a “tux”, the tailor called it—fits my current human form perfectly; broad shoulders, tall straight spine, muscular legs ending on flat feet. The Intergalactic Dating Agency assured us this template is the most pleasing to human females. It took many cycles after Nanaia’s passing, but I’ve re-trained my matrix to assume the shapes of other species, and can modify my features to please whichever woman I might find pleasure with this evening.
Many of the females stand in small clusters surrounded by male suitors from every race across the galaxy. The females have so many lovely shades of skin; deep brown, golden, and some who are as pale as starlight. The women all wear different fashions, from gauzy to svelte, though most seem to favor the color black, and the smells of so many perfumes are almost overwhelming.
A light-skinned female strides past me in a knee-length black dress with a cutout back panel that exposes the ridge of her spine. A unique hair clip with a spray of gems that look like stars holds her dark brown hair away from her face. I gaze after her appreciatively until a Kirenai following close on her heels with an enormous case in his arms glares at me, his aura radiating menace.
I understand immediately. It was that way with Nanaia when we met, an all-consuming desire that couldn’t be ignored. The devastating accident that took her from me sent me into a depression that ruled my life for many cycles.
I jerk my attention away from that particular female—I won’t interfere with someone finding a mate. I'm not here to replace Nanaia—that would be impossible. Kirenai mate for life, and finding my true mate had been a one-in-a-million chance, anyway. But my body still has needs, and I can afford to treat any female who wishes to be with me like a princess.
My attention stops on a pretty brunette talking to several other women. Her hair is piled on top of her head, cascading down in a mass of curls. Her lips have been painted with a glistening red substance that reminds me of fruit. A slit in her long black dress exposes a length of golden thigh I’d love to explore further.
I step forward, running my gaze up and down her curves. "Hello, ma’am."
The woman turns to me with an assessing glance, eyes narrowed. “Ma’am? Do I look like a ma’am?”
The IDA told us we should use the term in polite human conversation. Apparently, they were wrong. “My apologies. I was informed the title was honorific. What shall I call you?”
"I'm Amanda, and this is Genevieve and Flora." She gestures toward a tall blonde and a petite brunette. They nod in greeting.
"I'm Kiozhi.” I take her hand, turning her palm up to brush a kiss across her skin. My Iki’i senses the giddy thrill racing through her at my touch, yet she firmly pulls her hand free of my grip. I don’t allow this to stop me—this is most likely why the literature about humans suggests bringing a wingman while courting. “This is my friend, Tazhio. As you can see, he's Kirenai too."
Tazhio is looking out at the crowd, not paying attention to the women at all. I elbow him and he jerks his gaze back to Amanda. "Oh, yes, greetings."
The women all giggle and nod appreciatively at him. I frown. The guidebook said nothing about the wingman competing for female attention. Perhaps I shouldn't have brought him after all.
"So," the other brunette drawls, “what are you two looking for in a woman?”
I seize the opportunity to remove Tazhio from consideration. "Tazhio's not allowed to date the passengers. But I would be happy to explore a night of pleasure with you."
She places a finger against her chin thoughtfully and looks me up and down again. "Oh, I bet you would," she says, her voice heavy with sarcasm. "But we're here looking for relationships, not one-night stands."
I blink, not fully understanding her terminology. She seems to interpret my confusion as confirmation of her judgement and turns away. Kuzara. Finding companionship among these humans isn't going to be as quick and easy as I imagined.
I turn to complain to Tazhio but find he’s abandoned me, disappeared somewhere into the crowd. I sigh. So much for my wingman.
On the dance floor, several beautiful women are moving to the music, laughing, flirting with their partners. I move forward to watch. Each female is divine in her own way, though I can’t help comparing each one to my Nanaia and have to determinedly redirect my thoughts. I divert myself by imagining what it might be like to entwine myself with one of these females, to feel her body pressed against mine, our tongues dancing together in passion. Though my mate is gone, my sex drive is not, and providing pleasure gives me joy and helps keep my lingering depression at bay.
A laugh catches my attention. It reminds me of a clear waterfall chiming against the crystal cliffs on my home planet of Alkavar III. Who is that? A longing rises through me. I want to be the one making her laugh.
Intrigued, I follow the sound and discover a female with ivory skin and the most delightful shade of hair I've ever encountered—a light red-gold that reminds me of a sunset. She's twirling across the dance floor in the arms of a Kirenai my Iki’i doesn’t recognize. Her short black dress is covered in small scales that catch the light with pearly iridescence. The glimmer accentuates her curves in a way that makes my heart pound faster.
She spins past me, brilliant green eyes connecting with mine for an instant. My mating shaft stirs, a long-forgotten ache flaring low in my belly. I stumble back in confusion. I haven't felt this sensation since Nanaia died.
The female tosses her hair and looks away, an amused grin on her face as the other male guides her across the dance floor. Normally, I'd approach her without hesitation, but I need to understand what's happening first. This sensation can’t be normal.
I push through the crowd to keep up with her, trying to remain a mere a shadow in the distance. My breathing quickens as I watch her hips sway. I feel like a youth again, eager and impulsive. She's mine, I know it. I must win her away from this other male.