Authors: Erin Tate
Tags: #scifi romance
A human woman, a tail-sporting alien, and a deadly hurricane… of course they’re going to hook up! Or rather, they
hook up. But that was then. This is now.
As a marine biologist, Maris Xayer is used to observing all types of marine life, but she never imagined she’d come face to tail with an Ujal. In the middle of a hurricane, Maris and Vados came together—ahem—and then he disappeared. She figured it was a one-storm stand with an Ujal and moved on.
Except Vados hadn’t really gone anywhere and now the sexy as sin, red-skinned Ujal is back. For her.
Vados was not a weakling to pine after a female. He was Vados fa Kotan, High Guard of Tave fa V’yl, Crown Prince of Ujal. His loyalty and dedication belonged to one person and one person only—his ruler, his friend.
And yet he found himself constantly looking east, toward Florida’s coast, toward… Maris. As he stared through the alien waters, he remembered the taste of her skin, the feel of her hair on his scales, and the way her pupils grew as arousal took hold. The way she screamed his name when—
“Vados,” Tave snapped at him, and Vados immediately swung his attention back to the prince. The male’s scales were bright blue, his dark blue hair floating in the Gulf’s cool waters.
His agreement was immediate. “Yes, sire.”
Tave sighed. “Do you know what you have just agreed to?”
“Of course, sire.” He glanced at his friend and fellow guard Niax. The male would fill him in later.
“So you have no objections to providing protection to a human doctor?”
Vados pressed his lips together and kept his face stoic, swallowing the groan that formed in his chest. It wasn’t the fact that he would have to provide protection. It was his calling after all. But, guarding a
meant hours upon hours with two feet on land. He was at home in the seas, his bright red scales on display, and his tail flicking him from place to place. Walking was so
“Of course not, sire.” His response was once again whip-fast.
A smile lurked on his prince’s lips, which told Vados the male knew he spoke an untruth. “Excellent. Transportation is already waiting at UST for you both. You’re dismissed.”
UST—Ujal Station Tau—was the land-bound complement to their underwater city, Tau. When they’d come to the planet decades ago, the Ujal established cities within the oceans all around the world. Vados had visited them all with the prince, but he had to admit that Tau was his favorite.
Because of my nearness to Maris.
However, he would not be a soft male and say the words aloud.
Vados frowned. “Now, sire? It is nearing midnight.”
“Now. There is no security in place at this moment, it had been refused until now, but recent events have altered certain decisions.” Tave’s tone was grim, his expression one of murderous rage.
“What has happened? What have the humans done?” It was always the humans committing atrocities. Against each other, against Ujal. Races… species, never mattered. If pain could be caused, a human was the catalyst. Ujals were peaceful, though more than capable of defending themselves.
“Attacks. They began as minor annoyances, but they are escalating. Recently a home was burned to the ground.” Tave growled. “For interacting with one of us. For soiling a human body with one of ours.”
Now Vados growled. He detested the purists—those who were determined to keep human blood from mingling with Ujal. They did not yet know that an Ujal finding a mate among the humans was highly improbable. Though, when he’d been with Maris for those few hours… he’d begun to think it was possible.
Then the hurricane broke, giving her a chance to flee from him and… she had. Gone in the night. One passionate evening in her SUV as they waited out the massive storm, and when he’d gone to the sea to check the storm’s status, he’d returned to find her missing.
She’d disappeared, taking a piece of his soul with her. The memory caused the ache in his heart to push forward once again.
“…will be quartered within the subject’s home. She—”
Vados yanked himself from his musings. “She?”
Vados glared as Tave sighed and Niax chuckled.
. A female was seen with one of us, and once word spread, as well as a few blurred long-range images, the activists attacked. She was due to begin work for UST shortly and the events accelerated the timeline. We do not have permanent quarters on site, but we have acquired several levels within a nearby condominium high-rise. Your immediate orders are for her protection until the press relents and moves on to another target.”
Vados’ feelings mirrored his prince’s. The media were vultures and he would gladly rid Earth of them all. Unfortunately, his numerous requests were denied. He would submit another after this assignment. A
was being threatened. If he did not think past situations warranted deadly intervention, this one certainly did.
“Understood, sire.” Vados straightened his spine and pressed a hand over his chest as he flicked his tail downward. He was ramrod straight with no fluttering of fins as he saluted his Earth-based ruler. He knew Niax was positioned in the same way. “It will be as you say.”
They both relaxed, and with a quick flick of their tails, they headed toward the throne room’s exit. Vados nodded to a few other guards under his command. He hated to leave them but was proud his ruler deemed him worthy to guard a female who proved to be a friend to Ujals. Even if such protection included being on
He mentally shuddered and a chill traveled down his spine.
The last time he’d been on land, as humans said,
. He needed to banish Maris—and the feelings she created inside him—to the seas. She’d
Niax darted through the opening, and Vados paused within the archway. “Sire?”
Tave turned toward him, blue eyebrow arched.
“The female’s name?”
Tave shook his head. “Dr. Maris Xayer.”
* * *
Maris thought she knew fear. It’d been her companion for the last week, carried around on her shoulder like an old friend. From the moment the pictures appeared in the local paper then tabloids, her world had been upended. She would have thought the news would focus on hurricane cleanup. No, it’d been on her. Her and… Vados. Though, she’d refused to release his name. The purists prodded and threatened her, the UST made firm inquiries, which had her wondering just how far they’d go for the truth, and then her home. The hurricane hadn’t done it in, but
The scent of smoke often assaulted her, memories of waking to a wall of gray and black, and of heat licking at the walls. She’d gotten out alive and mostly unscathed, only a few red areas and a couple of scratches from the window she’d broken in her attempt to get free. She’d managed to make it to the neighbors—and safety—before the attackers realized she’d lived.
Even now, the memories made her shiver.
Now she shivered for another reason. Mainly, the guards currently following her toward her temporary accommodations. The Ujal prince, furious she’d been injured due to involvement with them, had been quick to secure her a place to stay. Somewhere
, he’d assured her.
The building was secured against nonresidents. In addition, the elevator was reprogrammed to stop a floor below the Ujal levels. This way, visitors could be checked over thoroughly before being granted access to higher floors. It was as safe as they could make it at this juncture. There were guards aplenty for the high-rise.
Including the two following her to her new home.
Human guards who scared the ever-living hell out of her. She was unable to pinpoint the reason. Not a single word or look hinted at disgust or hatred for her. And yet… she shuddered with revulsion. There was
“Are you all right, Miss Xayer?” the larger of the two males said.
Maris’ response was automatic, a correction she’d been handing out ever since her graduation years ago. “Doctor. And I’m fine. Long day.”
She ignored his snort and instead focused on digging her keys out of her purse. The derision was normal. If she wasn’t a
doctor, she wasn’t a doctor. At least in the general public’s eyes. Whatever. She was tired, hungry, and annoyed by the situation she found herself in.
And missing Vados. Can’t forget that one.
She pushed the thought from her mind. There was no point in thinking about him. She’d waited on the damned road for over an hour, keeping her eyes on the sea as she counted the minutes until he returned. Except he hadn’t. He’d said five minutes. A quick check. And then nothing.
Not worth crying over. He’s not. I have bigger issues than a broken heart
. And it was broken. Somehow, they’d connected in a way she’d never imagined. A few hours in each other’s company, a few passionate touches and kisses, and now her body craved him like no other. Hell, if she even
about another male, she became nauseated. She wasn’t going to even think about what happened when she touched a man without gloves. The first time she’d shaken a male’s hand… had been vomitously explosive.
And no one could figure out why. She decided once this circus died down, she’d focus on determining what happened to her. Her symptoms weren’t life threatening or worsening, so they could wait.
Maris reached for her door—fingers clutching the key—and one of the guards stepped forward and tugged the key from her grip in a single smooth move. “Let me get that for you.”
Her stomach lurched with his closeness and she stepped back to put space between them. “Thank you.”
The appreciative words tumbled out of her mouth even though she was more annoyed than thankful. But…
. She’d been taught
The smile she got from him was slick and slimy, sending another rolling wave of nausea through her.
“My pleasure.” With those two words, he opened the door and slunk into her space while the other guard gestured toward the door. “After you,
It was in his eyes. Something dirty and evil and broken and—Maris shook her head. “No, if you two would leave, I’ll get to bed. I’m perfectly fine entering my home alone.”
“I insist.” He took a step toward her and she shuffled back.
This time he darted forward, moving as quickly as the other, and snatched her wrist in a tight grip. She jerked against him, but his large hand was unmoving and firm. “You’re going inside. With us.”
Bile rose in her throat, burning her from inside out as her body rejected his touch, the feel of his skin on hers. Her stomach tightened, convulsing, but he didn’t seem to notice. No, she recognized the look in his eyes—the other male stepped into the doorway—the look in both their eyes. Sexual intent. Anger. Disgust.
Nothing mattered. Nothing kept them from wanting her.
“No.” She tugged again as she shook her head. “No. Whatever you want, whatever you’re trying to do…
The smiles she got were evil, wicked, and filled with painful promises. “We’ll see what you say when I’m inside you. You gave it up to a scaly piece of shit. You’ll—”
An eardrum-bursting boom filled the area. The sound vibrated its way down the hallway and bounced off the walls as it approached, causing her captor to release her. She recognized the tone, the modulation, and immediately clapped her hands over her ears. It wouldn’t halt the bone-jarring pain that struck her, but it’d minimize the ache as much as possible.