Authors: S. E. Smith
“That is an excellent idea - someone who is gentle and can handle something delicate and fragile but still be strong enough to protect them. Thank you, Creon. I will make a list of men who might be perfect for them,” Mandra said with a grin, happy at the idea of helping out at least a couple of the males who live on their world.
Mandra felt like a small weight had been lifted off his shoulders as they met up with Jaguin and Kor. Transforming back to his dragon for the quick flight back to the palace, Mandra was determined to focus on finding out who was behind his brother’s capture. He would have a long talk with his dragon and his symbiot tonight. They needed to understand that finding a mate would have to wait until the safety of their people was guaranteed.
Ariel growled out in frustration. Every time she or Carmen tried to leave the room they were escorted to, a set of guards blocked the way. The number of guards had increased from two to three from the first time she tried to leave too the second time. Ariel guessed the guy who escorted them to the room wasn’t too happy with them. One of the guards mentioned that Tammit and the other man from medical had to be readmitted for additional healing. Jarak wasn’t lying when he said the room was small but Ariel would have gladly slept on the floor to know Trisha was alright. She was worried sick about her best friend.
Carmen was leaning up against the wall tossing an empty cup up into the air. “We need to get past the guards. I have to get back to Earth,” Carmen murmured under her breath.
Ariel stopped pacing the narrow area. Four steps to the left, six steps to the right and back again. She would run into the narrow bed or the table with two chairs otherwise. The room wasn’t much larger than an eight by eight cell. With the table, chairs, and bed in it there was barely a narrow path to the bathroom which wasn’t much larger than a closet. No wonder none of the Valdier warriors occupied the room, they were too big to fit in it!
“Why? What is so important you have to get back to? I thought you were between jobs right now,” Ariel asked suspiciously.
Carmen glanced at Ariel and flushed. “I just have something important to finish.”
Ariel’s eyes filled with worry. “You’re going after him, aren’t you?”
Carmen didn’t even pretend to not know what Ariel was asking. She wouldn’t lie to her big sister. They had promised to always tell each other the truth when they were little. Carmen knew she was hurting Ariel but some things couldn’t be avoided.
“Yes,” Carmen replied softly. “I have somebody I was supposed to meet in San Diego. He has information on where I can find Mendoza.”
“Oh Carmen, you know revenge will never bring Scott back,” Ariel said moving closer to where Carmen was standing with her head bowed. “He wouldn’t want you to give up your life by avenging his. He would want you to live.”
Carmen’s head swung up and her eyes glittered with unshed tears - tears that were trapped inside her. She never cried. Not when she was shot, not when she watched Scott die, not even when she buried him. She couldn’t. The pain went too deep for tears. It was the pain that told her she was still alive enough to avenge him. Only when the man who killed her husband was dead would she let the pain take her. For only death could give her the peace she so desperately desired.
“Stay out of this, Ariel. You don’t want to go there,” Carmen whispered with a deadly cold calm. “You don’t know what the pain is like, day in and day out. It is eating me alive until it hurts to breathe. I will finish this.”
“Even if it kills you?” Ariel asked quietly.
Carmen looked at her older sister sadly. “Even if it kills me,” she replied.
Ariel could see the pain in Carmen’s eyes. “Then, you will need someone to cover your back. I’ll be there when the time comes, no matter what.”
Carmen’s eyes hardened for a moment before they softened with love. “Thank you.”
Ariel smiled sadly and shook her head. “We promised each other when we were kids we would always be there for each other – no matter what. In life and in death, we are family and families always stick together.”
Carmen pushed up off the wall and wrapped her arms around Ariel. Ariel could feel her little sister’s body shake with emotion. As hard as Carmen put on an appearance of being a bad-ass, she was really the softer, more sensitive of the two in many ways. Ariel hugged Carmen back tightly before releasing her. She moved over to sit on the edge of the narrow bed.
“Okay, let’s make a plan. We need a distraction to take out the guards. Then, we find Trisha and head for the transporter room,” Ariel said firmly pushing all emotion to the back burner.
Carmen moved back to lean against the wall again. “What about Abby? Do we know if she is here and wants to go back?”
Ariel shook her head. “I don’t know. I got the feeling from the way she talked she was happy with this Zoran guy. We can’t make a decision for her. We haven’t heard anything about Cara either so I am assuming she was able to get away. You know how hard it is to catch her. We need to focus on the three of us,” Ariel said just as the door made a sound indicating someone was about to enter. Ariel jumped up when she saw Trisha.
“Thank God! I tried to get past the guards this morning to go find you but they wouldn’t let me leave,” Ariel said in relief.
Carmen looked determinedly at Trisha who was grinning at them both. “I don’t know about you two but I am ready to blow this joint. I have business in San Diego that can’t wait,” Carmen said to Trisha.
Trisha nodded eagerly. “I just had a run in with one of the males on board. I don’t think he is too happy with me right now.”
“Want me to have a talk with him? I’m sure we can help remodel another section of the ship if you want,” Ariel said with a mischievous smile, happy to have her adopted sister back with them.
Trisha laughed, shaking her head. “No, I just want to get home. Daddy is probably tearing apart Shelby, California right about now,” she sobered as she continued. “I don’t want him to worry any more than he already has. It liked to have killed him when I had my accident. I can’t imagine what this must be doing to him.”
“I love your dad, too. We’ll get back to him,” Carmen said giving Trisha a quick hug in support. “Let’s go find that transporter room you told me about, Ariel, and get back home.”
“Okay,” Ariel said before she turned to Trisha. “We’ll need you to distract our guards. They haven’t let us out of here at all.”
Trisha nodded. “Okay. There are three of them. Carmen, leave one for us, okay?”
“You always did like to hog in on my fun,” Carmen said despondently.
Ariel watched as Trisha moved to the door only to find herself blocked by the huge gold creature that had followed her into the room. Trisha tried several times to get around the creature but it kept cutting her off. Ariel fought back a giggle as the creature acted almost like a momma dog trying to round up her wayward pup.
“Come on, Bio. I need to get out of here,” Trisha said impatiently pushing on the gold creature ineffectively.
“Maybe you should go to the bathroom before we go,” Ariel suggested. “You know how weak you are sometimes. I would hate for you to fall down and hurt yourself.”
Trisha looked at Ariel puzzled before her face lit up with understanding. “Oh, you’re right. I would hate to get hurt again.”
Carmen rolled her eyes. “Well, you better hurry or we are never going to get out of here,” she said in exasperation.
Within moments, the huge gold creature was trapped inside the bathroom. Ariel winced when she heard the snarls as the creature clawed at the door. Maybe it was more like a lioness with her cub. It was sure hissing and calling like one.
“Let’s move! I don’t think that door will hold it for long,” Trisha said urgently.
Trisha struck out the moment the door opened. Within seconds, Ariel and Carmen had disabled the other two guards. They were moving down the corridor when a loud sound shattered the quietness. Ariel shivered at the sound. There was definitely nothing remotely human in the roar that broke the silence. Ariel looked at Trisha who had turned decidedly paler.
“Let’s go,” Trisha said hoarsely. “He’s going to come for me.”
Ariel nodded. “Come on.”
Ariel followed Trisha as she hurried down the corridors. She worried about her friend. She could see she was favoring one of her legs. Ariel knew Trisha would never admit to being in pain but she also knew just how fragile her friend truly was. She had nursed her after her accident. Trisha had almost been killed in a helicopter crash that ended her career in the astronaut training program. On top of that, Trisha found out her dip-shit of a husband had been cheating on her and expected her to accept it. Trisha spent over a year in a wheelchair before she learned to walk again. It had been a long, hard road and Ariel was determined to protect her friend from anymore heartache. She deserved so much more than what she had been given so far.
Before long, Trisha skidded to a stop outside a set of doors. Ariel drew in a deep breath. Unlike Carmen who seemed to enjoy tense, dangerous situations Ariel was the opposite. She was the stay-at-home take care of the animals’ type of girl who preferred to avoid confrontations. That didn’t mean she ran from difficult situations, she just preferred a less stressful existence. Unfortunately, with a younger sister who seemed to live for adventure it didn’t leave her a lot of time for that stress-free existence.
“This is it,” Trisha gasped trying to hide her pain.
“Let me go first. I know you can handle it but I saw how much it hurt you when you kicked that guard,” Carmen said softly.
Trisha nodded thankfully. Trisha took a step back and motioned for Carmen to go ahead of her. Ariel took up the rear laying a supportive hand on Trisha’s arm. Both Ariel and Carmen knew how much Trisha loved her dad. They loved him too.
He was just the coolest man she had ever met besides her own,
Ariel thought sadly missing her dad sharply at that moment.
“Thank you,” Trisha said looking at Ariel. “Let’s do this. I want to go home.”
Carmen squared her shoulders and rolled her head from side to side before she moved toward the door. Several of the men glanced up when the door opened, popping to attention when they saw the three women silhouetted in the doorway. One of the men started forward and Carmen struck out quickly before he realized what was going on. Ariel stepped forward when he started to struggle, holding a dismantled chair leg up under his chin forcing him to raise it to an uncomfortable level. Trisha held a large knife out in front of her to keep the other men who started forward back.
“Just stay where you are,” Trisha said quietly before she addressed the man standing in front of the transporter control panel. “I want you to beam us back down to our planet. Do you understand? I’m not asking, I’m telling you.”
Ariel kept an eye on the five men in the transporter room. The man Carmen was holding a knife on stood perfectly still. Only his eyes moved. Ariel pressed the chair leg in warning for him to remain that way. She glanced at Trisha to see how she was doing. Ariel noticed she looked much paler than even a few moments ago and a light sheen of sweat was coating her forehead. She listened as Trisha told another man to move toward the back.
Trisha called out in a strained voice. “Ariel, make sure no one can get into the room.”
Ariel nodded and gave a warning glance to the man she was holding the chair leg to before taking a small step away from him. She never turned her back but moved in slow, cautious steps backwards. Glancing behind her briefly, she gripped the chair leg tightly and swung with all her might, driving it into the panel. Sparks flew as the damaged panel hissed.
“Done,” Ariel said with a grin knowing it was going to be difficult for anyone to break into the room. She glanced at Carmen and did a double-take when she saw a look on her little sister’s face that almost resembled a genuine smile. It was the closest to one Ariel had seen in three years.
If I knew getting kidnapped by aliens would have helped lighten Carmen’s mood I would have put in a request three years ago,
Ariel thought in amusement.
“You know, I haven’t had this much fun in years. We should get together more often. I know this great little bar down in Mexico…” Carmen was saying before a loud thump sounded on the outer door to the transporter room. “Uh-oh, I think we have company.”
Kelan Reykill, commander of the
, was beyond furious. His warship was under attack and he couldn’t seem to do a damn thing about it! That wasn’t entirely true. He could kill his older brother for discovering the females who were systematically destroying it but then their mother would be upset with him.
His brother, Trelon, had just finished up repairs to the transporter room which he destroyed when his dragon went berserk over the tiny human female they were still trying unsuccessfully to catch. That peculiar female was reprogramming his ship faster than he or his head of security could block her. On top of that, his dragon was going nuts because it wanted the human female called Trisha. He hadn’t seen his symbiot in days until just a few minutes ago because it was attached to her side. Then, he had to deal with the other two females who were responsible for several of his crewmen being readmitted to medical.
He shook his head. When Jarak told him three of his men had been beaten up by three human females – tiny females on top of that! – he couldn’t believe it until he visited them. Tammit had two black eyes from having his nose broken in addition to other bruises which he grinned and proudly showed off to Kelan. Mako wasn’t in much better shape and was just as proud of all his bumps and bruises. Both men insisted their symbiots not heal them just yet. They wanted the other members of the crew to see them. By now, the exploits of the females had swept through the ship and all the men wanted a chance to approach the females in anticipation of claiming them. It wouldn’t be so bad but Kelan was in just as bad a shape wanting to get to the curly haired female called Trisha before any of the other men had a chance. His only consolation was his symbiot was preventing any other males from getting near her.