Abbie and the alien offi.., p.2
Abbie and the Alien Official (Intergalactic Brides 14), page 2
He winked at her. “I’m one of many. I’m sure there will be a crowd waiting to meet you when you arrive. Enjoy the flight, ladies.”
She giggled again, and Abbie fought the urge to roll her eyes. The captain paused in front of Abbie.
“I’m glad you’re joining us on this flight. Again, we’re really sorry about the miscommunication.”
“It worked out in the end,” she said.
He nodded and went into the cockpit. Or was it called something else on a shuttle? Abbie braced herself as the shuttle began to move, slowly at first, and then they were rocketing through Earth’s atmosphere. A mask dropped down in front of her and she pressed it over her nose, breathing deep. She cast one final glance out of the shuttle window and then her eyes began to close. There was a fleeting worry that she’d made a mistake in coming, but soon her thoughts turned to sweet dreams.
When she next opened her eyes, the other brides were also waking and they were landing on another world. A look out the window brought a smile to her lips. Three suns were rising in the sky, casting the world in pinks and oranges. It was a stunning sight. Sentir made an appearance and opened the shuttle door.
“We’re here, ladies. Be careful disembarking,” he said.
Abbie followed the others, hanging to the back as she looked at her surroundings. Crowds of men had gathered and it made her a little nervous. When she’d heard that brides were in high demand, she hadn’t realized how desperate they were for wives. Were the crowds going to follow her everywhere? No one had explained exactly how the bride program worked, only how to sign up for it. She’d hoped there would be someone on this end to guide her through the process.
A warm hand at her lower back made her jolt. She gave an apologetic glance at Sentir.
“I’m going to take the women to their apartments, but I think someone wishes to speak with you,” Sentir said.
“Who?” she asked, scanning the crowd.
A Terran who easily stood over six feet began making his way toward them. His long hair flowed down his back, and the black leather hugging his body showcased an impressive set of muscles. There was a flutter in her stomach and this time it wasn’t from nerves. He was handsome, by far the best-looking Terran she’d seen so far, and none of them were ugly.
The alien stopped in front of her. “Miss Abbie Carson?”
“I’m Councilman Larimar. I wanted to meet with you in person to apologize for what happened. Zlyer is looking into the matter. So far, it seems your letter was the only one that didn’t go out. Whoever is responsible will be punished.”
“Oh, I… I don’t think it’s necessary to punish anyone. I mean, I made it here, right?” she said.
He smiled at her kindly. “You’re not furious?”
“No. I’m just grateful I was able to come now.”
Sentir moved away. “I’ll have your belongings sent to your apartment. Councilman, will you escort her? I need to get the other ladies settled.”
“Of course,” Larimar said.
Abbie looked up at him, feeling dainty and delicate in his presence. “I’m staying in an apartment?”
“A small one, but yes. It’s our hope you won’t be there long. The sooner each bride finds a mate, the sooner we can bring more to our world. We try not to have more than six here at a time. In the early days, we brought more here, and even had some humans working here. But it didn’t work out as planned.”
He reached for her, placing his hand gently at her lower back and guiding her along. She fell into step beside him and tried not to gawk at everyone and everything along the way. There was a large pool area that looked promising, except she didn’t have a swimsuit. She’d always loved to swim but hadn’t had much opportunity for it.
When they approached a large building, easily fifteen stories high, she paused. “I’m staying there?”
“Yes. Is there a problem?”
“No, I just didn’t know what to expect. The building is quite large.”
“The top two floors are suites that are occupied by Terrans. Some of the apartments on the lower floors are also occupied by Terrans, but none will bother you. If anyone approaches you, it will be to ask you to join them for an outing or a meal. There’s no cheating on this world so if anyone asks you out, they’re single and looking for a mate.”
She bit her lip. “How exactly does everything work? The program wasn’t explained to me in detail, except for how to apply and the general idea of what happens afterward.”
“I can see we may have to make some more adjustments to the program. Not only was your letter lost, but no one explained anything to you. It was brave of you to come all this way without knowing what to expect.”
“The implant in your wrist will let you in and out of your apartment and the building. We encourage you to share meals with prospective mates, but should you dine alone, your implant will cover the cost of your meal. If there’s any shopping you’d like to do or need to do, please do not hesitate to use the implant to pay for them. Your mate would want you to be taken care of.”
“What happens if I don’t find one?” she asked softly. “What if no one wants me?”
He stopped and reached out to tip her chin up so that she looked him in the eye. “Someone is going to want you, Abbie. I have a feeling you won’t be single for long. Our males can be pushy when they find something they want, but don’t go into a mating half-heartedly. If you don’t think you can grow to love him, then tell him no and keep searching. We aren’t just interested in the happiness of our males, but in yours as well.”
“Are you one of the single males seeking a mate?” she asked, her cheeks burning.
“I think I’m a little too old for you, but yes, I’m seeking a mate. I have been since the bride program started.”
She pulled away from him and stared at the door in front of them. “Is this my apartment?”
She waved her wrist across the door lock and the door popped open. She stepped inside and saw her box and bag of clothes had already been delivered. Turning to face the councilman, she felt a twinge. He’d claimed to be too old for her, but she wanted to keep talking to him. Moving closer, she reached out and lightly placed her hand on his chest.
“Thank you for bringing me to my quarters.” She licked her lips. “And thank you for explaining things to me. Would it be too presumptuous of me to ask to maybe have dinner or breakfast with you sometime? You’re the only one I know here other than our captain.”
There was something shimmering in his eyes she couldn’t quite define, but gave a regal nod of his head. “Our world is a bit warmer than your Earth is right now. Why don’t you shower and change, do whatever women need to do before an outing, and I’ll return in an hour to pick you up for breakfast.”
She smiled up at him. “I’ll be ready.”
He backed away and waited for her to close the door. She leaned her forehead against it, willing her heart to slow its fast pace. If she’d known Terrans were that hot, she’d have applied to the program long ago. Now she just needed to convince him that she wasn’t too young for him. Because if he thought she was going to back away he was sadly mistaken. Abbie had never backed down from a challenge, and this was the greatest one of all.
Larimar sat in the park not far from The Tower, and Abbie. The moment he’d seen her, his heart had raced out of control. He’d never seen a more beautiful woman, but after reviewing her file, he knew she was too young for him. There were twelve years between them. He’d seen the look in her eye and knew his attraction wasn’t one-sided, but once she met some of the younger males she’d move on. But for once, he wished someone would look at him and only him like that.
Brides had come and gone over the years the program had been in place, but never once had he been tempted to claim one for himself. Until now. It had been insane to agree to breakfast with her, but he’d never wanted anything more. He’d
Councilor Borgoz eased onto the bench next to him. “It isn’t like you to sit in the park and glare at the grass.”
“I’m meeting Abbie Carson for breakfast. She seemed insistent.”
Borgoz smiled. “Perhaps you’ve finally found your mate.”
Larimar snorted. “She’s twelve years younger than me. The best thing I could do for her is let someone else claim her.”
Borgoz raised an eyebrow. “So, you’re saying I should have stood aside and let someone else claim Charlotte? Or have you forgotten there’s more than twenty years between us?”
Larimar felt his cheeks flush. “The age difference doesn’t pose a problem?”
Borgoz smiled. “Does my Charlotte seem to be lacking for anything, or my daughter? They make my life better, Larimar. It’s up to you if you wish to claim Abbie, but don’t step aside because you’re older than she is.”
“We haven’t even shared a meal together, or really sat down to talk. I met her for only a few minutes.”
“Sometimes you just know,” Borgoz said. “Most of our mated males knew within minutes of meeting their brides that they were meant to be together. If that’s how you feel, if you truly want her, then don’t back down. Go after what you want. But if you aren’t certain, if you have doubts, then maybe you need to think long and hard before you pursue her. I doubt she’ll be lacking for company.”
Larimar nodded. The Chief Councilor had given him much to think about. He’d spend the morning meal with Abbie and see how he felt at the end. Maybe after spending more time with her he’d know if he’d just been struck dumb by her beauty or if what he was feeling was real. Or at least the start of something real. He’d heard the human phrase love at first sight, but he wasn’t certain he believed in such a thing, despite what Borgoz said.
The minutes ticked by and when it was almost time to pick up Abbie, he left the park and made his way back to the Tower. His heart rate picked up the closer he got to Abbie and he couldn’t deny that he was anxious to see her again. There was a crowd of single males lingering outside of the building when he arrived and one of the brides was out front cooing at them. Something about the woman made him clench his teeth and he tried to hurry past her.
He felt a finger slide down his biceps as he walked by and he paused, turning to face her. “Did you just touch me?”
“Why don’t you take me out somewhere?” she said, eyes big and her lower lip protruding in what he assumed was supposed to be a sexy pout.
“Sorry, but I already have plans.”
She smiled and rubbed his bicep, making him pull away.
“Better than taking me out?” she asked.
Anger flashed in her eyes as he turned from her. Now that her hands had been on him, Larimar felt like he needed a shower. He went up to Abbie’s apartment, a scowl on his face as he knocked on her door. Her eyes went wide when she opened it and saw his fierce expression.
“I hope that isn’t because of me,” she said.
“No.” He tried to soften his expression. “Sorry, I had a bit of trouble downstairs.”
Her lips twitched. “Would it have anything to do with a persistent blonde?”
“She started by harassing anyone who had the misfortune of being on this floor and made her way down to the lobby. I think she likes preening in front of the crowd down there.”
“She doesn’t understand the word no.”
“Women like her generally don’t. You should have heard her flirting with the captain of the shuttle. Maybe she recognized you as someone important. I doubt she’ll settle for anyone considered common.”
Larimar shrugged. “Everyone on my world has a job that is important in its own way. She’ll soon learn that, or she’ll go home without a mate. I almost feel sorry for anyone who ends up with her. I don’t know how she slipped through the application process. We try not to bring women here who act like her.”
“Sounds like the application might need a bit of tweaking.”
“Perhaps. Are you ready to go eat?”
Abbie nodded. She stepped out into the hall, letting the apartment door close and lock behind her. Her hand crept around Larimar’s biceps as he led her down to the lobby. The blonde was still out front, playing to the crowd. When she saw Abbie clinging to his arm, her eyes narrowed and her lips thinned, but she quickly smiled and faced her audience once more. He didn’t know her name offhand, but he’d have to check the files and let the other council members know they might have a problem.
“Do you want to try Terran food or would you prefer the human café that opened a few years ago?” he asked.
“I think I’d like to try Terran food. If I’m going to live here, it makes sense that I get accustomed to everything. It’s not like I could eat all of my meals at the human café.”
He was pleased with her answer, but there were few options for the morning meal at Terran restaurants, as most spent the morning meal at home. If he’d been better prepared, he could have taken her to his home and asked his cook to prepare something. Each of the council members had someone to manage their household and a cook. It was one of the perks of his position, giving them more time to devote to their people.
He took her to a restaurant he’d heard was really good, but he hadn’t eaten there before. He seldom had meals out, unless someone delivered something to council when their meetings ran over. When they entered the establishment, Abbie looked at everything in wonder. Larimar selected a table near the window, holding her chair out for her.
A screen mounted on the wall showed the menu options, but they were all in his language, and since everything was made with Terran ingredients, he was at a loss as to how to help her order. A frown marred his face as he stared at the screen.
“Larimar, I trust you to select something for me. The only food on Earth I’ve tried and didn’t like was sushi, which is raw fish.” Abbie smiled at him. “Anything will be fine, I promise. I’m not a picky eater.”
He felt a little more confident as he studied the menu, then pressed the selections for their orders and held his wrist over the screen to pay.
“Did you just pay for the meal?” she asked as he pulled his arm back to his side.
“Yes. Is it not customary on Earth to pay for meals?”
“We pay after we eat.”
His brow furrowed. “But the restaurant has to prepare the food beforehand, so they use their ingredients whether you like the meal or not. Should you not pay first?”
“It does make sense to do that, I suppose, but I’ve eaten at quite a few places on Earth where my order had to be cancelled because after an hour I still hadn’t even gotten a drink. Service probably is better here.”
He nodded. “Our meal will be out as soon as it’s cooked, and I ordered juice for both of us to drink. I think you’ll like it. It’s sweet but not too sweet.”
“You introduced yourself as Councilman Larimar. I’m not certain I understand what a councilman does here on Terran.”
“First, if you’re going to be a mate, you might as well know we aren’t really called Terrans. This world, before the agreement with Earth, was called Zelthrane-3 and my people are called Zelthranites. It was believed negotiations with Earth would go easier if we changed our name. After studying Earth and its history, the council decided calling ourselves Terrans would make things go more smoothly with Earth. We were worried your people might be frightened of us.”
“Zelthranites?” she asked. “I think I can remember that. But now that things are established with Earth, why haven’t you gone back to being Zelthranites?”
“Our Chief Councilor has been discussing the issue with Earth’s leaders, and they will decide how best to handle the situation. If it’s believed your people will become frightened or a
“Sounds very confusing,” Abbie said. “But I can understand why you’d be cautious. Frightened humans can be deadly.”
Larimar nodded. “People tend to either react to fear by cowering or by attacking. We weren’t certain how humans would react.”
“Probably a mixture of both. But the ones who would want to attack are the ones you need to watch closely. I’ve found a lot of my people don’t play fair.”
“You asked what a councilman does here. I’m not certain what the position warrants on Earth, but here a council was formed to create laws for our people, to hand out justice, and to govern the people day to day. I suppose we’re a lot like your America’s president and congress combined.”
She shrugged and gave him a small smile. “I hate to admit it, but I’ve never been very smart when it comes to the government. I do my part every election year, but I sometimes feel like I’m just choosing the lesser of two evils. I don’t trust any of the politicians in my country, but then most of them are all a bunch of crooks and liars.”
His eyes narrowed a little. “You don’t trust politicians?”
“Not the ones where I come from. They accept bribes, get away with crimes, and lie just to get elected. They hardly ever deliver on what they’ve promised the people.”
“I understand. It isn’t the position you dislike, but the corrupt people who run for office.”
“Exactly.” She smiled. “But I can already tell you aren’t like them.”
“What makes you say that?”
“There’s kindness, compassion, and honesty in your eyes.”
“All that?” he asked with a smile.
Her cheeks flushed.
“What is it you did on your world?” he asked. The information had been in her application, but he wanted to keep her talking.
“Well, I did work in human resources for a small company, but they let me go a few weeks ago. Just after I applied to the program actually. So, when I came here this morning, I was jobless, and thanks to not having money for rent, I was homeless too. I brought very few possessions with me, and the few clothes I have are courtesy of your council. But then, you already knew that, didn’t you?”
by Jessica Coulter Smith / Romance / Young Adult / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes