Abbie and the alien offi.., p.8
Abbie and the Alien Official (Intergalactic Brides 14), page 8
“I won’t presume to share the shower with you,” Larimar said. “I’ll let you go first.”
It looked like it pained him to say the words, and she wondered if maybe he did care for her, at least a little. Abbie didn’t want things to change between them. Even if she wasn’t ready to believe he truly wanted her as his mate, she enjoyed their time together, liked living in his home. And she enjoyed their intimate moments. But would it be enough long-term? She wanted love. She needed love. Abbie couldn’t remember a time anyone had ever loved her, and it was the one thing she longed for the most.
Regardless of what happened with Larimar, she vowed to be the best mother to her baby, to never let her son or daughter go a day without knowing they were loved and cherished. That they were wanted. The baby might have been a surprise, and might have been created a little sooner than she’d anticipated, but it didn’t change how she felt about the little being growing inside of her.
“We can share the shower,” she said, coming to a decision.
As much as she wanted love, she had to put her child first. It was obvious that Larimar wanted to be a dad, all the males on his world did, and it would be selfish to keep his baby from him. Whether love ever grew between them or not, she owed it to her child to give things between her and Larimar a chance.
He looked relieved as he stood and followed her into the bathroom. It wasn’t as luxurious as the one in his home, but it was nicer than anything she’d seen on Earth before. She’d lived most of her life in the poor part of town and crawled very far up the ladder to get away from that place before she’d been evicted. The way Larimar spent money was foreign to her, having to watch every penny out of every check to make sure she had food to eat and a place to sleep. He seemed to purchase whatever he wanted whenever he wanted, and never seemed to worry about the consequences. She’d imagine a nice hotel suite like this one was costing quite a bit. She didn’t know if Larimar was paying or the council.
The water warmed quickly and they stripped out of their clothes. The hotel had provided shower gel and shampoo. She missed her floral body wash and wished she’d thought to bring it with her. Abbie started to reach for the shower gel when Larimar got to it first. He poured a generous amount onto his palm, then lathered his hands before reaching for her. Her heart skipped a beat as his hands smoothed the gel down her neck, across her shoulders, and down her arms. He worked the soap into her skin, massaging her achy muscles as he explored every inch of her body.
Abbie brought her hands up to rest on his chest, feeling the muscles flex under her fingertips. Her eyes misted as she realized he wasn’t trying to turn her on, just take care of her. When he was finished, he washed her hair then helped her rinse. Pulling her closer, he pressed his lips to hers in the gentlest of kisses.
“Go get ready and I’ll finish up in here,” he said, giving her a nudge toward the shower door.
Abbie reluctantly got out, dried off, and went into the bedroom to pick out her clothes for the night. She picked up the purple sweater again, loving the color and the feel of it. Pairing it with some black jeans, she quickly dressed then dug through the bag of shoes and selected a pair of black ballet flats to go with it. Larimar hadn’t allowed her to pack anything, telling her everything would be provided for them when they arrived, and he hadn’t been wrong. There was a hairbrush, two toothbrushes, toothpaste, and both a bottle of perfume and a bottle of cologne on the bathroom counter.
Abbie used the hairdryer attached to the wall to dry her hair, then brushed the tangles from it. She wished she had a little make-up, especially as pale as she looked. Even though she’d come to terms with the fact she was pregnant, and was even starting to look forward to having a baby, the color hadn’t returned to her cheeks yet. The water in the shower shut off and Larimar stepped out. She handed him a towel, feeling a little envious of the water droplets clinging to his broad chest, then went into the living room to wait for him.
When he stepped out of the bathroom, her jaw dropped a little. The jeans molded to his thighs and the sweater stretched across his chest and shoulders. Abbie stood and moved closer, her fingers itching to touch him. Hell, she might be conflicted over whether or not they could have a happily-ever-after, but there was no denying she still wanted him. The man was too sexy for his own good, or hers.
He looked down at himself. “Do human clothes look all right on me?”
“You look very nice.” More than nice.
“The hotel has a restaurant downstairs, or we could go somewhere else if you have a favorite place to eat.”
“I never really got to eat out much,” Abbie said. “Anywhere is fine with me.”
“You mentioned a need for a camera of some sort. Is there a place open this late that would sell one?” he asked.
“Yes. I can give you directions to the store. They’re open twenty-four hours.”
He nodded. “Then we’ll go there after we’ve eaten.”
Larimar placed a hand at her waist and guided her to the door. As they made their way down to the restaurant, he stayed close to her, even if his touches were innocent enough. She hadn’t noticed it before, but he seemed to always be touching her. Even if it was just holding her hand.
The restaurant wasn’t very busy and looked like it might be closing at any moment. When the hostess saw Larimar, she smiled broadly and wiggled her shoulders in a way that made her breasts bounce. Abbie narrowed her eyes at the blonde and wondered how much trouble she’d get into if she ripped out some of her hair. Larimar didn’t seem to notice the attention the blonde was giving him and it helped soothe Abbie’s ruffled feathers. When the woman placed her hand on Larimar’s arm, batting her lashes at him, Abbie reached over to remove the woman’s arm and made sure to squeeze as hard as she could.
“That was uncalled for,” the blonde said.
“You were flirting with me,” Larimar said, “even though I showed no interest in you. It’s obvious I’m here with Abbie. Your behavior was rude and reeks of desperation.”
The blonde’s cheeks flushed and she hurried away. A man dressed in a sharp suit noticed the commotion and came over.
“Is there a problem, sir?” the man asked Larimar.
“The woman offended my female by flirting with me. Then she touched me.”
The man’s back straightened. “I assure you we don’t tolerate that kind of behavior from our staff. My apologies. Your meals tonight will be complimentary and I hope you’ll dine with us again during your stay. My name is Peterson and I’m the manager. Please don’t hesitate to ask for anything.”
“Thank you,” Larimar said.
He pulled out Abbie’s chair before taking his own seat. Menus were already on the table, along with silverware rolled in cloth napkins. Abbie warmed a little at Larimar’s defense of her, and she was glad he hadn’t been interested in the other woman. The words on her menu blurred as she realized she’d come to a decision, one she might regret in later years, but the surge of jealousy she’d just felt proved one thing for certain. She already had feelings for the sexy alien. Never before had she been jealous when a woman came onto her man, but she’d have gladly beaten the blonde bloody tonight.
She set her menu down.
“Already know what you want?” Larimar asked.
“Yes. No. I mean I don’t know what I want to eat, but I need to tell you something.”
Larimar pointed to her menu. “Food first. You need to eat, Abbie. Find something you really want on there and after we order you can tell me whatever you want.”
She nodded and picked up the menu again. There weren’t prices, which told her the place was probably expensive, even if they had comped their meal. She decided to try something she’d never had before and when the waiter arrived, she ordered the seafood platter with lobster, shrimp scampi, and calamari, with a loaded baked potato on the side.
When the waiter hurried off with their order, promising to return momentarily with their drinks, Larimar smiled at her.
“Were you serious about claiming me as your mate?” she asked.
“Of course. It’s what I want more than anything, Abbie.”
“I don’t know that I’ll ever believe you meant to claim me before finding out I’m pregnant, but I do know I want my baby to have a loving home with two parents. You’re an honorable man, Larimar, and I think you’ll make a good father. It would be wrong of me to walk away and deny my baby the home he or she could have had if we’re together.”
He frowned. “Wait. You don’t believe that I want you, regardless of whether or not you’re pregnant, but you’ll accept because of the baby?”
“I… I care about you, Larimar, and maybe that’s enough for now. It’s not what I dreamed of when I imagined getting married, but plenty of relationships are built on less. And I think it’s undeniable that we have chemistry.”
“So, you want to be my mate because we’re having a child together and the sex is good between us? And you care about me?” he asked, not looking thrilled with the idea.
Had she read him wrong? She’d thought he would be happy she was accepting his offer, but he looked like he’d bitten into something sour. Abbie dropped her gaze to the table and wondered if the situation could be salvaged. She hadn’t meant to offend him, even though it appeared she’d done just that.
“I thought you’d be happy,” she said softly. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“Happy? You thought I would be happy that you’re settling for a relationship with me? I want what my friends have, Abbie. I want a relationship built on more than fondness and sex.”
Could he want the same things as her? Was it possible she’d read him completely wrong and misunderstood? He’d said he didn’t want her just because of the baby, but she hadn’t believed him. But what if he really did want her because he cared for her? And now she’d gone and screwed it all up.
Larimar stood, tossing his napkin on the table. “I think I need some air.”
She wanted to cry as she watched him walk away, torn between going after him, or giving him the time he seemed to need to cool off. She’d offended him, even though it hadn’t been her intention. Their food arrived and she stared at the empty place across from her. When it became apparent Larimar wasn’t returning, she picked at her food, not really tasting it. She requested that both their meals be boxed and sent up to their room, and then she left the restaurant.
Abbie didn’t know where Larimar had gone or when he’d return. She set off down the sidewalk on foot, the winter air biting into her skin. She shivered against the cold and wandered aimlessly around the city. By the time the pain in her feet registered, she had no idea where she was. She looked around, trying to find something familiar, and with a jolt, she realized she was in her old neighborhood.
The homes and apartments looked shabbier than she remembered. Some of the stores had been boarded up. She hadn’t been to her childhood home since she left at the age of seventeen. Curious, she wandered further down the street and stopped in front of her old home. The shutters hung crooked and some windows were broken. Tattered curtains hung in the windows and the front door stood ajar, lightly blowing back and forth in the breeze.
Abbie found herself walking up the broken path and stopping on the sagging porch. The boards creaked and groaned under her weight as she pushed the door open wide. The same furniture she’d sat on as a kid and teen still stood in the living room, now stained and covered in cobwebs and grime. She didn’t know what had happened to her parents or to their home. She stepped across the threshold. The scent of mildew and mold hit her, and she covered her nose.
The house felt eerie, as if ghosts haunted the halls. She didn’t dare go upstairs, not certain they would hold her weight, but she moved room by room through the downstairs, assaulted by memories best left forgotten.
“You shouldn’t be in here,” a male voice said behind her.
She gasped and spun, nearly losing her balance.
“Jesus. Abbie?” he asked.
He stepped into a shaft of moonlight, and even though he was much older now, she knew him instantly.
“What are you doing here? You don’t belong here anymore.”
“I -- I don’t know. I was walking and then I found myself here. What happened?”
“You really don’t know?” he asked.
She shook her head.
“You should leave the ghosts of the past where they belong. This place… walk away, Abbie. Leave and don’t look back this time.”
“You still live here?”
“My parents left the house to me. I’ve lived across the street my entire life, and this is where I’ll die, if I don’t rot in prison first.”
“You had plans to get out,” Abbie said.
“Sometimes you can’t escape the hand life deals you. I’m no better than my old man. I boost cars, Abbie. It pays the bills, and for other things.”
“Drugs?” she asked. “You swore you’d never touch that crap.”
He shrugged. “Things change. Get out of here, Abbie. I mean it. Don’t come back again. You’re lucky I’m the one who found you.”
She nodded and left her childhood home for the last time, not stopping until she was in a better part of town. Her heart raced and she couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to her parents. They’d been horrible to her, but still… they’d given birth to her and raised her as best they could. Neither had graduated high school and both were heavy into drugs and alcohol. Maybe if her mom hadn’t gotten pregnant in high school, things might have been different, but she’d never know.
By the time she realized she was more than lost, she was shaking so hard her teeth had nearly rattled out of her head. She hadn’t paid attention to the name of the hotel and had no idea how to get back to it. She fought not to give up and have a good cry, but her hope was dwindling. If she caught a cab to the Terran Station, would someone there pay for it? She didn’t have any money, but she didn’t want to walk another five or six miles to the station.
Up ahead she saw a tall Terran step out of a club, a woman on either side of him. A crowd gathered around him as he moved down the sidewalk and she rushed to catch up. She recognized him from an interview he’d done a few months ago.
“Brexton,” she called out, trying to be heard over the crowd.
He paused and looked around. She waved at him and moved a little closer. He whispered something to each of the women at his side and met her halfway.
“Do you want an autograph?” he asked.
“I need your help.”
“Help?” he asked, an eyebrow raised.
“I’m here with Councilman Larimar and we’re staying at a hotel, but I don’t remember the name and I don’t know how to get there.” She shivered again, clenching her teeth so they wouldn’t clack together.
“You’re freezing,” he murmured. “There’s a limo down the street. I was going to use it to take my party elsewhere, but I think you need it more than me. Come on.”
She followed him back to his adoring fans and then down the sidewalk where a large white limo waited. Brexton said something to the driver then opened the rear door for her.
“He’ll take you to the hotel. Next time you go for a walk, you should dress warmer.”
“Thank you,” she said through chattering teeth.
He shut the door and tapped on the roof. The limo pulled away from the curb and before long she was at the hotel. Shivering and shaking, she made her way to the front desk, not even remembering what room they were staying in. Since she had so little information, and she wasn’t listed as a guest, they refused to help her into the councilman’s suite.
Fighting tears and still frozen through, she curled on a sofa in the corner of the lobby and tried to get warm. Pressing her head to her bent knees, she wondered how things could have gone so wrong so fast, and hoped that Larimar would find her soon.
Larimar had walked for a bit to clear his head and then returned to the restaurant, to find that Abbie had left. She’d requested their food be sent to their suite, but hadn’t given the waiter the room number, so they’d kept it warm downstairs. He carried the containers up to the suite and pushed the door open, expecting to find Abbie. The suite was dark when he entered and he placed the containers on the counter.
“Abbie?” he called out.
He checked the bedrooms and bathrooms, he didn’t see her anywhere. Larimar even stepped out onto the balcony, even though she’d have to be crazy to be out there in this weather. He frowned, wondering where she would have gone. Not knowing what else to do, he checked with the doorman downstairs to see if he remembered Abbie leaving, but the man couldn’t recall.
He scoured the hotel and even called the Terran Station, wondering if perhaps she’d gone looking for him. When he exhausted his resources, he went back up to the room to wait. As the hours passed, his worry for her grew. He’d been harsh with her, but she wouldn’t have run away, would she? Had he hurt her feelings enough she would leave him? There was much he still didn’t understand about human females, particularly his Abbie.
The food lay forgotten as he paced the confines of the suite. The longer she was gone, the more he worried. When he couldn’t take another moment of it, he went back downstairs, determined to find her even if he had to drive the streets all night. A commotion in the corner of the lobby drew his attention and his heart nearly stalled in his chest when he saw Abbie sprawled on a sofa.
“Abbie!” He rushed forward and the crowd of hotel employees parted.
“She claimed to be here with a Terran,” one of the front desk employees said. “A councilman.”
by Jessica Coulter Smith / Romance / Young Adult / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes