Abbie and the alien offi.., p.10
Abbie and the Alien Official (Intergalactic Brides 14), page 10
She sighed. “You might be right. I want to see her and I don’t. All these years I longed for someone to miss me, to prove they loved me, and I thought they’d failed me. If I’d gone looking for her sooner, things could have been different.”
He cupped her cheek. “If you’d sought her out sooner, you might have never applied for the bride program, and then we would have never met.”
“You’re right. Everything always happens for a reason. I know that, but… I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around this sudden flood of information. I’ll adjust.”
“I know you will, because you’re a fighter. You’re strong, Abbie. I’ve always known it, and deep down you know it too. What are those fairy tales where the knight rescues the princess? You’re the one swinging the sword and slaying monsters. I only want to give you the support you need along the way, and if the burden should get too heavy, I’ll be more than happy to help you carry the load.”
Her eyes softened and something in her expression shifted. Her lips parted, but whatever she was going to say, she decided against it. He kissed her once more, then shut off the water. The sooner they dressed and got the day started, the sooner he could determine what would be done with Abbie’s mother. If the reunion went well, he knew she’d have a hard time leaving the woman behind, and he was not home without his mate.
Abbie smoothed her winter dress and shifted from foot to foot. The facility where her mother was staying looked more like a prison. There were even bars on the windows, and a secured door with a video camera pointed at anyone wanting entry. An intercom was attached to the concrete wall and Larimar pressed the button.
“Name,” a voice asked.
“Larimar and my mate, Abbie. We’re here to see her mother, Winona Carson.”
After a moment, there was a click and a buzzing sound as the door was released. Larimar pulled it open and motioned for her to enter first. She looked around the lobby, trying to picture her mother living in such a place. The walls and floors were solid white and very sterile looking. No artwork adorned the walls. The reception desk straight ahead was a plain brown with no decoration.
A woman in scrubs stood behind the desk, a tablet in her hand.
“Is Winona expecting you?” the nurse asked.
“No, it’s a surprise visit from her daughter,” Larimar said. “I cleared it with a Mr. Williams. He knew we were stopping by.”
The nurse tapped on the screen of her tablet.
“Winona is in the day room right now.”
Abbie’s brow furrowed. “She has a schedule?”
The nurse gave her a humorless smile. “No, honey. She has a tracker. All of our patients have them so we can find them at any time, in the event they get lost or confused.”
They’d chipped her mother like a wayward pet? Abbie was disliking this place more and more. The nurse called a guard, who escorted them to the day room. Abbie scanned the space trying to find her mother, but no one looked familiar. A badly scarred woman with a misshapen jaw approached them, her dishwater blonde hair hanging limp and looking as if it hadn’t been cared for in a while. Abbie’s gaze scanned away from her, in hopes of finding her mother.
“Abbie?” the woman asked, her words slurring slightly.
“You’re my Abbie,” the woman said again, a smile sliding across her lips and making her jaw look even more deformed.
“Momma?” Abbie asked.
The woman nodded. Larimar placed a hand on Abbie’s lower back, reassuring her as she took a step closer to her mother. The Winona Carson in front of her looked nothing like the strung out junkie she’d known as a child. Her skin wasn’t as sallow and her eyes were brighter. The longer she looked at her, the more she recognized the woman, despite the jaw and rough-looking hair.
Her mother wrapped her arms around Abbie and hugged her. “My Abbie found me,” her mother said.
“Yes, Momma. I found you.”
Her mother drew away and looked up at Larimar, fear entering her eyes upon seeing the imposing councilman.
“It’s okay, Momma,” Abbie assured her. “He’s my husband. He would never do anything to hurt you.”
“Husbands are bad,” her mother said, inching further back.
“Mrs. Carson, my name is Larimar. I’m a Terran. Do you know what that is?” he asked in a soothing voice.
“Alien,” her mother answered.
“Yes, I’m an alien, and your daughter lives on another planet with me. Have you met others like me before?” Larimar asked.
Her mother slowly shook her head, but some of the fear had eased from her eyes.
“I’m very pleased to meet you, Mrs. Carson.”
“Momma, Larimar is your son-in-law. I promise you’re perfectly safe with him. They keep bad people out of this place, right? But they let him come in to visit with you.”
Her mother moved a little closer again. Hesitantly, she reached toward Larimar and ran her finger down the top of his hand. Larimar turned his hand over and gently grasped her mother’s. He went down on one knee in front of her, making himself smaller, and it seemed to ease her mother’s fear even more.
Abbie had thought her old feelings of hate and resentment would consume her when she met her mother, but she wanted to cry. The pitiful woman in front of her was nothing like the spiteful creature she’d grown up with. There was almost a childlike innocence about her. Despite the cruelty Abbie had suffered at her parents’ hands, she felt sorry for her mother and wished there was something she could do. No one deserved to live in a place like this.
“Mrs. Carson, would you like to go sit somewhere and visit with Abbie for a little while? Maybe we can find an empty table,” Larimar suggested as he scanned the room.
Abbie’s mom pulled away from Larimar and shuffled toward a table in the corner of the room, sitting down in one of the empty chairs. Abbie and Larimar followed, sitting across from her. Her mother smiled at her again, happiness shining in her eyes. It seemed as if the report was correct and her mother had been searching for her, or at the very least had inquired about her. In her mother’s present state, Abbie doubted she had the mental capability of actively searching for someone.
“Momma, I heard you have a job.”
Her mother frowned a little. “I did.”
“What happened?” Abbie asked.
“They don’t like it when I work.”
Abbie leaned a little closer. “Who doesn’t like it when you work?”
Her mother waved a hand. “This place. If I work, I can afford to leave.”
“Momma, they want to take care of you here,” Abbie said, hoping she was right. By the looks of the place, it felt more like a prison. “Aren’t you safe here?”
Her mother looked frightened of something and Abbie looked around the room. A guard stood in the doorway. Larimar noticed the direction of her gaze and focused on her mother again.
“Mrs. Carson, do they hurt you here? Is there someone who causes you harm?” he asked.
“I’m not allowed to talk about it,” her mother said and Abbie’s stomach pitched.
“Would you like us to move you to another place?” Larimar asked. “I have the funds to place you in a private facility where you won’t be harmed.”
Her mother’s eyes glassed over with tears. “I thought you were here to take me home.”
“You want to come home with us?” Abbie asked. “We don’t live on Earth anymore, Momma. Home is really far away.”
A tear slipped down her mother’s cheek.
“Mrs. Carson,” Larimar said softly. “We’re going to take you back to the hotel with us tonight. You’ll have your own bedroom. If you want to go to my world with us, you will have to be examined by a doctor first.”
“I can go home with you?” her mother asked pitifully.
“Yes, Mrs. Carson,” Larimar said. “You may come home with us.”
He leaned closer to Abbie and whispered in her ea
Abbie kissed him softly. “Thank you.”
He nodded and rose, leaving them alone. Abbie stood and held her hand out to her mother. “Can you show me where you live here? I want to see your room.”
Her mother smiled and took her hand. A guard stopped them on their way out of the room.
“She can’t leave,” he said.
“She wants to show me her room,” Abbie said.
He hesitated a moment then nodded for them to go.
Abbie’s mother led her to the elevator and pressed the button for the third floor. When the doors opened, the antiseptic smell assaulted Abbie’s nose. It smelled more like a hospital than a place where her mother should be living. She followed her mother down the hall and stopped at one of the metal doors. There were rectangular windows in all of the doors and she didn’t like the fact you could see into her mother’s room. Did she not have any privacy?
They entered the room and Abbie looked around the small space. There was a metal frame twin bed bolted to the floor and a small four-drawer chest. Two pairs of shoes were neatly placed beside it. Another door led to a bathroom that was so small Abbie didn’t know how her mother managed to shower and change in the space.
“Do you have a bag for your things?” Abbie asked.
Her mother nodded and opened the bottom drawer, pulling out two canvas totes. They quickly filled them with her mother’s meager possessions and then walked down to the lobby. Larimar waited for them by the reception desk, a fierce expression on his face.
“Is something wrong?” Abbie asked.
“They weren’t going to release her until I threatened to report them. We’re getting her out of here now,” Larimar said.
Larimar took the tote bags from them and they stepped out and went to the limo waiting at the curb. Abbie’s mother clutched her hand tight, looking worried and a little scared. Once they were safely in the limo and it didn’t seem like anyone would come after them, her mother relaxed a little.
“You’re safe now, Momma,” Abbie said.
“Go home?” her mother asked.
“We’re going to the hotel, but we’ll go home tomorrow. Right, Larimar?” Abbie asked.
“Let’s go to the Terran Station first and get your mother checked out. She needs to be cleared to ride on the shuttle tomorrow. If there’s something medically wrong that will prevent her from taking the trip, we’ll have to make arrangements for her here,” Larimar said.
“Or we could stay until she’s well enough to travel,” Abbie said. “Are we really going to place her in another institution?”
“It wouldn’t be anything like that last place, I can assure you of that,” Larimar said.
Her mother looked at them tearfully. “Home,” she repeated.
“Doctor first,” Abbie said.
Her mother violently shook her head and crammed herself into the corner of the limo. Abbie frowned and wondered just what the hell that horrible place had done to her mother. She looked at Larimar, not knowing what to do. If her mother didn’t see a doctor, she couldn’t go on the shuttle.
Larimar leaned forward and slowly reached for her mother, taking Winona’s hand. “Mrs. Carson, we will be by your side the entire time. No one is going to hurt you ever again. Abbie can hold your hand while the doctor examines you. He’ll be an alien like me, and I can promise he would never do you harm.”
Her mother seemed to relax a little. “Alien?”
“Okay,” her mother agreed.
Larimar released her hand and leaned back again. When the limo stopped at the Terran Station, they got out and Abbie took her mother’s hand again. Larimar led the way to the clinic and she was thankful to see it was empty. The last thing she wanted was a lengthy wait. It would have only given her mother time to worry again.
Prylo came from the back and smiled at them. “I see you’re here with a guest.”
“This is Abbie’s mother, Winona Carson,” Larimar said. “We’d like for her to be examined. My mate would like her mother to come home with us.”
Prylo studied her mother a moment then held out his hand. “Mrs. Carson, if you’ll come with me, we’ll get started. My name is Prylo and I’m one of the doctors here at the Terran Station.”
Abbie’s mother clutched her hand tighter and Abbie began walking, pulling her mother along. “We’ll all go.”
Prylo nodded and led the way. In the exam room, he pulled out the same instruments that had been used when Abbie was examined prior to her trip to Zelthrane-3. The exam didn’t take long and they waited patiently as Prylo looked over everything. When he was finished, he tipped his head toward the hallway.
“Momma, I need to step out for just a minute, but I’ll be right back,” Abbie said.
She followed Larimar and Prylo out of the room.
“What do you know of your mother’s condition?” Prylo asked.
“I know she suffered injuries from an attack by my father,” Abbie said.
“There’s the obvious damage to her jaw, but I don’t believe it can be repaired even with our technology. Perhaps if she’d been brought to us before the hospital tried to put her back together… and then there’s the brain trauma,” Prylo said.
“I was aware of both of those things,” Abbie said. “Can she make a trip to Zelthrane-3?”
“What?” Abbie asked.
“Your mother’s liver and kidneys aren’t functioning one hundred percent. A transplant is out of the question because I don’t believe it would work, should she survive the surgery. At best, I think your mother has another two or three years to live. I would suggest finding her a place here where she can receive the care she needs,” Prylo said.
Abbie’s eyes misted with tears. “If she has such little time left, I want her to go with us. We’ll do whatever it takes to make her comfortable.”
“You’ll need a trained nurse to live with you until she passes. It would be best if they could live with you, but if one of the mates already on our world was a nurse here on Earth, just having someone around during the day might be enough,” Prylo said.
“What about one of our doctors in training?” Larimar asked.
“Or you could request Zaylon. He was punished after his treatment of Xonos’ mate, but I believe he’s learned his lesson. He is not actively practicing right now, but he has the skills necessary. Your home is large and you could place Winona and Zaylon in another wing. He’ll need to be close to her in case she wakes in the middle of the night.” Prylo shrugged. “It’s up to you, but I would worry a human female nurse might try to lure you from your mate if she wasn’t already mated.”
“Can you send Winona’s files to Zaylon and the council?” Larimar asked. “We’ll be arriving on tomorrow’s shuttle and I’d like everything to be in place when we arrive.”
“If this Zaylon was mean to someone’s mate, what makes you think he would treat my mother differently?” Abbie asked.
“He thought he was looking out for Xonos by trying to chase Victoria away. He has since understood that he was wrong and has been allowed to treat human females again,” Prylo said. “He is unmated so he doesn’t have to be home every night. Although, I would imagine he would like some days off occasionally.”
“I know Zaylon,” Larimar said. “If he will accept the job, I believe he will treat your mother fairly. I also like the idea of having a trained physician in the house in case anything happens to you or the baby.”
“Fine.” Abbie said. “I’ll go tell Momma that she can go home with us tomorrow.”
She re-entered the exam room and found her mother crying.
“Home?” her mother asked again.
“Yes, Momma. We’re going to the hotel tonight, but tomorrow we’ll go home. To your new home. Do you understand it’s not the one you shared with Daddy?
Her mother nodded and slipped off the exam table, reaching for her hand again. Abbie led her out of the room and they left the Terran Station to return to the hotel. After Abbie had her mother settled for the night, she curled against Larimar’s side on the couch and stared at the TV. Today hadn’t gone as she’d planned, but at least she had her mother back in her life. For however long the woman would live.
It had been a week since they’d returned to his world and Larimar thought things were going well. Zaylon had agreed to be Winona’s caretaker and the doctor had moved in almost immediately. Larimar had made it clear that as long as Zaylon was looking after Winona, he couldn’t seek a mate, and the doctor seemed fine with that. They’d taken over the wing opposite Larimar’s. It gave everyone some privacy and yet kept Winona close enough for Abbie to spend as much time with her as she pleased.
Abbie’s hands crept around his waist as he stood at the balcony railing off their bedroom. A breeze blew, teasing his nose with the scents from the garden below. The three suns rose slowly over the hills in the distance and Larimar felt at peace. He had a family now, something he’d always wanted. A mate with a baby on the way, and with Abbie had come her mother. Even though Winona wasn’t like most mothers, it was nice having her around.
“You’re up early,” Abbie said, kissing his back.
“I’m sorry if I woke you.”
She pressed her cheek against him. “I only woke because the bed felt empty. I’ve gotten used to you sleeping by my side.”
He smiled a little. “More like you’ve gotten used to sleeping sprawled across me.”
He felt her lips curve against his back. “That too.”
“How do you feel this morning?” he asked. “Any morning sickness?”
“No. Bancheck told you I may never experience any. Each pregnancy is different. Maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones.”
Larimar turned and wrapped his arms around his mate. Her belly was still flat, but he placed a hand there, knowing his child was inside. His heart skipped a beat every time he thought about the incredible gift Abbie was giving him. Not just a baby, but herself as well. The emotion he felt when he thought about getting to wake up next to her every morning made his throat tight. As the years had passed and brides had come and gone, he’d worried that he would never have a mate. And then the incredible woman in his arms had arrived, and everything had changed.
by Jessica Coulter Smith / Romance / Young Adult / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes