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Mated to Mek (Paperback)

Mated to Mek (Paperback)

Galactic Pirate Brides, Book 5

She’s a telepathic lab experiment with a traumatic past. He's an alien doctor who believed he’d never find a mate. In each other, they find the impossible—love. But can their newfound passion survive the dark truths lurking in her past?

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Main Tropes

  • Heroine with Tragic Past
  • Doctor-Patient Romance
  • Secrets with High Stakes
  • Healed by Love
  • Found Family
  • Evil Parent

Synopsis

Locked within the cold grasp of her father's laboratory, Rashana's youth was marred by twisted experiments. A living test subject, her life became a symphony of pain, her telepathic powers both her gift and her curse. But when a sudden revolt upends the world she knows, a glimmer of hope emerges in the most unexpected of places: the eyes of an alien doctor.

Mek never expected to find another from his species. Stumbling upon Rashana, a rare hybrid blending human and Denaidan traits, was nothing short of a miracle. Yet as he aids her recovery, the pull between them goes beyond the physician's care; it's a connection that speaks to their very souls.

But as Rashana peels back the layers of her haunting past, she

stumbles upon a dark secret, one that could shatter her newfound hopes. With danger lurking at every turn, can their love survive the chilling revelations?

Intro Into Chapter One

Rashana lay on her narrow bed watching the stars through the small view screen embedded in the ship’s wall. The glowing crescent of a single, pock-marked planet hovered in the blackness, far away from the warmth of its sun. Was there life on that planet? She tried to recall the feeling of fresh air, flowing water, and dirt beneath her feet, but her memories were those of a small child, suspect and out of reach. She’d lived too many years imprisoned in this cell.

Her living space was a mere eighteen and a half paces from one end to the other. One wall was made of a thick translucent polymer, looking into the bio engineering lab with its blinking equipment attended by techs in blue coveralls. The other walls were a dull, gray metal which she imagined existed throughout the spaceship. She had a desk and a chair, a closet with a few basic shirts and pants, and a private bathroom. A single, scraggly potted plant rested on the edge of her desk—a gift from a tech who’d disappeared from the project the day after giving it.

Rashana suspected Father had gotten rid of the nice lady, just like he’d gotten rid of Rashana’s piles of stuffed animals, photos, and flouncy yellow and pink bedcovers when Rashana turned seventeen. Mother had given her the coverlet for her tenth birthday. But no matter how much Rashana had screamed and struggled to keep her things, Father wouldn’t budge. He insisted the items held too much emotional memory and were holding her back. And Rashana’s emotions were dangerous.

She’d torn a piece off the blanket by using her power to make one of the confiscating techs believe he was in cardiac arrest. The scrap was now hidden away in a corner of her closet. Six years had passed since then, and that small bit of pink fabric was her only remaining link to the good times, the joyful times, the days filled with love. But also a reminder of the way her mother’s elegant features had twisted in confusion as she died.

Rashana gripped the bed’s simple white coverlet against the feelings rising inside her. Father was always watching, and she didn’t want him to know she was having a moment. She fixed her gaze on a faraway cluster of stars that reminded her of two people holding hands. Mother and Father had never held hands, as far as she knew, but she liked to imagine they might’ve someday. That the three of them could’ve been a normal family.

A sound from the lab drew her attention, and she looked away from the view screen. Father approached, carrying a meal tray, his face unreadable as ever. She sucked in a breath. He usually had a tech deliver her food. He must’ve noticed my emotions. Releasing a calming breath, she sat up, readying answers for the inevitable barrage of questions.

Father placed the tray into the delivery dispenser, and the tray slid from his side to hers with a hum and a click of the slot’s protective hatches. The rich scent of cheesy noodles drifted into the room. Her mouth started to water immediately. Father never let her have the fattening food. Said it made both body and mind sluggish and weak.

She looked up to meet his piercing black eyes, wishing she could use her power to sense his intent. The thick polymer blocked her abilities. “What’s this for?” she asked.

His mouth curved upward into a tight smile. “Can’t a father show affection for his daughter?”

Affection. When was the last time she’d felt that from him? Or from anyone, for that matter? People only entered her cell wearing full ionic shield gear, and nobody touched her. Ever. Not even Father, except with his inoculation gun or to take a tissue sample.

In a rare gesture of emotion, Father patted the glass with his palm. She was too startled to respond, and by the time she reached up to tap back, he was already pivoting toward the lab’s exit.

“Wait!” She pressed both hands against the window.

He paused next to a tech at one of the incubators and turned back, arms loose at his sides. But his lips pursed as if in annoyance. “Enjoy your meal, daughter. I’ll check back later.” Then he bent and murmured something to the tech before continuing out the door.

Rashana’s heart sank with disappointment, followed by the flush of resentment she always felt after her failed attempts to interact.

The tech began cleaning his station, his actions rushed, and she wondered what new project her father was sending the guy on now. Not that the tech would tell her. Although there was almost always someone in the lab, personnel seldom spoke to her, at least not in idle conversation. Father discouraged them from interacting with patients.

She sat down at her desk to eat. Father’d also provided a glass of sweet oonon soda—a treat he reserved for when one of his experiments went particularly well. He must’ve had success in one of the other labs. She took a big swallow and smiled as the bubbles sparkled over her tongue, then dug into the rich, buttery meal. This was the closest thing to pleasure she’d experienced in a very long time.

Belly full, she rose and placed her empty tray back into the dispenser. “Tell Father I said thank you,” she called to the tech. “And congratulations on his project.”

The guy didn’t respond, avoiding her gaze. Jerk. Most of the techs would at least make eye contact or nod.

She turned her back on him and stared at the view screen. Usually after her meal, she read a book or paced the room listening to music. But her body felt strangely heavy and weak, and her eyelids drooped with sleepiness. Too much fatty food? Perhaps Father was right about the need to avoid it. She sat on the edge of her bed. The room seemed to spin around her, forcing her to flop backward onto the mattress.

Realization swept through her mind, adding to the dizzying sensation. This wasn’t normal lethargy. The food hadn’t been a show of affection. It had been drugged. He tricked me. But why?

She blinked stupidly up at the gray ceiling, each moment of darkness lasting longer and longer. A whoosh reached her ears, the rare sound of her chamber door opening, but she couldn’t turn her head. Couldn’t open her eyes as booted feet clumped into the room. Helpless, she felt the clothing stripped from her body. But still no skin-on-skin contact. Only gloved hands lifting her, carrying her.

Father’s voice flowed in and out of her awareness. “… too dangerous… variables… self-destruct…”

Nausea rolled through her as she tried to reach out with her powers, to find a mind that would give her some insight about what was happening. Ionic shielding blocked everything, and all she picked up was the reek of fear. Of urgency. Her arms and legs felt as boneless as noodles when the hands released her, but she managed a momentary flutter of her eyelids. She seemed to be inside a narrow metal box. A coffin?

Please don’t let it be a coffin. Terror entered her heart for the first time since her mother’s death. She knew her father had contemplated putting her out of her misery. Had worried she might be too much liability to his precious project. She’d sensed it in his thoughts several times before he perfected the ionic shielding that sealed her cell.

The half-light behind her closed eyelids winked out as the lid closed above her, and the air turned stale with her own exhalations. Unable to move, she screamed silently inside her mind. No! Please! I’ll be good!

A chill touched her skin. Sank into her bones. She realized she must be in a cryopod, not a coffin. She’d seen the techs put plenty of specimens “on ice” for future study.

Of course Father would want her body preserved; he often referred to her as his greatest creation. Now the meal made more sense. He had more daughters like her. He was celebrating her replacement. Providing her a last meal before she joined his other failed experiments.

As her body grew numb with cold, her thoughts burned. If she ever escaped this pod, she was going to make him pay.

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