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Copyright ©2018 Jessica Coulter Smith
A perky blonde behind the reception counter smiled brightly at her. “May I help you with something?”
Penny, her tag read. “Penny, I need to speak to someone about someone who recently entered the bride program.”
The receptionist’s eyes went wide. “Oh, we can’t discuss our candidates. Not unless they left permission during the application process. You could check with records and see if your name is on the approved list.”
Jennifer ground her teeth. “And where is Records?”
Penny pulled out a map and highlighted the way, then handed it over. Following the neon line, Jennifer made her way through the station, trying not to scowl at every alien she passed. It wasn’t their fault her daughter had run off to get married to some stranger on another world. When she reached Records, the alien behind the counter smiled at her.
“My name is Zwyk,” he said. “Is there something I can help you with?”
“I think my daughter joined your bride program and I’m trying to find out if she’s already been sent to your world.”
His eyebrows rose. “I see. And your daughter’s name?”
He tapped away at his computer, a frown marring his face before he looked up at her again. “Mrs. Montgomery, I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you where your daughter is right now.”
“It’s Miss,” she bit out. “So, either you really don’t know, or she did join your program and said you couldn’t tell me where she was.”
He looked pained, which was all the answer she needed. It felt like steam was going to billow out of her ears at any moment. They’d allowed her baby to sign up, and now they wouldn’t even tell her if she’d made it to their planet safely. Assholes. No, that wasn’t completely fair. It wasn’t entirely their fault. Lila was just as much to blame for this mess, if not more so.
“Who is in charge?” Jennifer asked.
“Tyril. He’s…” Zwyk looked over her shoulder and pointed. “Over there.”
She turned and looked, seeing two aliens having a discussion in the middle of the station. One was taller and broader than the other, his hair was long and thick; a rather sexy eye patch covered one eye. The smaller one was dressed nicer and looked more… tame. She glanced from one to the other again, and hoped it was the tamer looking one that was Tyril. The taller one looked like he could break her in half without breaking a sweat.
Jennifer approached them and the taller one stopped mid-sentence to look her way. Though he only had one eye, his gaze was appreciative as he took her in from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. A sexy smirk graced his lips when he met her gaze. Oh lordy. Now that was a man who was sexy as fuck and knew it. She forced herself to look away and focus on the smaller of the two.
“Are you Tyril?” she asked.
He nodded and gave her a pleasant smile. “If you want to apply for the bride program, the application center is at the front of the station.”
“I’m actually here about someone who already signed up.”
“I’m afraid we can’t divulge information about our potential brides without their permission. You’ll have to speak with Zwyk and see if you’re on the approved list.”
Jennifer folded her arms under her breasts, pushing them up, and stared at Tyril. His gaze momentarily dropped to her chest before he looked up again. Good. She had his attention, or at least part of her did.
“My daughter received something in the mail from this station, and she’s been missing for over a week. Your precious Records person won’t tell me a damn thing and I demand to know if my daughter is safe. Do I need to go to the police to file a missing persons report, or is she not on Earth anymore?”
Tyril’s eyes widened a little. “Your daughter? We would never allow someone underage to…”
She held up a hand. “Lila is eighteen and grown enough I suppose, but sometimes she still acts like a child. Much like now. She disappeared only saying she was going to a friend’s house, packed enough clothes for a week, then made sure her friends wouldn’t tell me where she was, and she wouldn’t answer her phone. I found the opened envelope under her mattress and the letter inside was missing. I guess if she’s off-world that would explain why she’s not answering her phone.”
Tyril looked sympathetic. “I want to help you, but I can’t. We have rules in place for a reason. If she did sign up for the program and didn’t put you on the approved list of contacts, then there’s nothing I can do.”
Tears of frustration welled in her eyes and her hands clenched into fists. “So I’m just supposed to wonder for the rest of my life what happened to my only child?”
The taller of the two moved closer. “You have a daughter old enough for the bride program?”
“Yes.” Jennifer bit her lip. “I know she’s technically an adult, but she’s my baby. She’s all I have. Isn’t there something you can do?”
“The only way any human is going to our world is as a potential bride, or part of an already mated pair,” Tyril said, his gaze sliding over her. “And as you’re old enough to already have an adult child, I doubt either is a possibility for you.”
Jennifer’s cheeks flushed with anger, and without thought, she hauled back her hand, made a fist, and punched him right across his jaw. Tyril stumbled back a step, his eyes wide and incredulous, as his hand cupped the injured area.
“You hit me!” he said in outrage.
“And I’m going to kick you in the balls next if you don’t help me,” Jennifer said. “And I’m not old, dammit. I’m only thirty-eight.”
Tyril cupped said balls and took another step back.
The one-eyed alien smiled broadly. “I like her.”
“Call security,” Tyril said. “Someone needs to escort her from the premises.”
“I’m not leaving until you tell me where my daughter is,” she shouted at him.
“You’re a menace,” Tyril said.
Jennifer growled and advanced on him, whacking his biceps with her open palm before cracking her other hand against his cheek. They were not going to keep her child from her.
The sexy alien behind her gave a full-belly laugh and wrapped an arm around her waist, hauling her back against his rather impressive chest. His body shook with merriment as Tyril glared at them, looking more than a little irate at her attack. She supposed she should be thankful he hadn’t tried to hit her back. While he might not be as built as the alien holding her, he wasn’t exactly weak looking either. One punch probably would have knocked her out.
“I believe you’ve met your match, Tyril. Why not tell her what she wants to know? She’s fierce and doesn’t seem to be taking no for an answer,” the sexy alien said.
“Stay out of this, Siril. We have rules. Policies. I can’t go breaking them just because she wants to know where her daughter is. If she’s not on the approved list, I can’t even confirm whether her daughter was here or not.”
Some of her anger deflated and she felt utterly helpless. “You can’t even tell me if she was accepted into the program? I just want to know that she’s safe. Do you have children? Wouldn’t you want to know if they were okay?”
“I do not,” Tyril said, but some of the anger seemed to drain from him. “I’m truly sorry, but I can’t help you.”
“I’ll help you,” the alien behind her said.