Jennifer and the Alien Badass (Intergalactic Brides #15)
By Jessica Coulter Smith
Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Karen Fox
Jennifer Montgomery has never needed anyone in her life except her daughter. A single mom of a now eighteen year old, her entire life has revolved around Lila. But when Lila goes missing, Jennifer is devastated and determines to do whatever it takes to find her. She just never expected her search to lead her to the Terran Station and their bride program. Or to learn that her daughter isn’t who Jennifer thought she was.
Siril, Captain of the Herack, is revered on his world for his tireless pursuit of the space pirates infesting the galaxy. The best of the best, as they say. If killing people were an art, he’d be da Vinci. But all the blood is starting to wear on him. There are only so many heads you can lop off before it grows old. At fifty, he’s ready for a break, but when he agreed to a vacation on Earth, he never expected to meet his perfect match, someone he’d decided didn’t exist. Who would ever want a battered and broken old warrior like him? But Jennifer is fierce, sexy as hell, and he wants to make her his.
As the two come together, and sparks become a blazing inferno, Jennifer realizes that maybe it’s okay to live her life and do something completely selfish — like fall in love.
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“Should we set a course for home?” Haptir asked.
“Yes. Once you’ve finished disposing of the pirates. I don’t want their remains anywhere near Zelthrane-3.” Siril left them to their work and went to his quarters. The door had barely closed before he started removing his boots and pants. He turned on the cleansing unit and stepped under the spray. Scrubbing his body and hair twice, he leaned his head against the wall and wondered what life would be like without constant bloodshed. Not that a good battle wasn’t fun — preferably on someone else’s ship so they had to deal with the cleanup.
Such things didn’t used to bother him, but the older he got, the less he liked the messy side of his work. Why couldn’t they die neatly? Was it really necessary for a decapitation to douse everything in blood? But what else was he to do? If he wasn’t beheading people, was he supposed to sit at home and die of boredom? He’d been asked to train their warriors full time, and it was an honorable position, but Siril wasn’t certain he was ready to hang up his blades just yet. There were many good fights left in him.
He shut off the unit and dried himself. He looked at his bed longingly, but there would be plenty of time to sleep once they reached home. They’d been after the pirates for days and he’d slept little. In his youth, he could have stayed awake for days on end without feeling the least bit tired. But now, as the oldest active warrior for their world, he was feeling every one of his fifty years. Donning clean clothes, he checked his boots before putting them back on, and went to the galley. He grabbed a Melranian star fruit and leaned against the counter. His crew could handle the cleanup and navigation necessary to get them back home. There was little for him to do.
The council had often offered Siril time off over the last few years, encouraging him to take a trip to Earth and get off world without having to engage in battle. He’d always waved them off and gone right back to work, but maybe it was time to take a break. Even a week off might be nice. While Zelthrane-3 was more advanced than the humans’ Earth in many ways, the blue planet had a lot of marvels that interested him. Like music and movies. And while he’d heard there would be a place to dance opening soon in Terran Prime, it might be entertaining to see all of those things on Earth and explore the human world a bit. Providing he didn’t scare the puny humans.
When the bride program had first opened, they’d welcomed all humans to their world, including males who took temporary jobs on their planet to make the human females feel more at ease. But over time, only brides were allowed on Zelthrane-3, and the screening process had gotten stricter. The first few months of the program, there had been too many fights, as well as human females falling for the human males. Things were streamlined now, and from what he could tell the program was a huge success. He’d often thought of checking out the brides to find a mate of his own, but they all seemed so young. He wondered if the council only approved the young ones to guarantee children for the mated pairs. He didn’t know much about humans and wondered if the older females either couldn’t have children or if it would be too hard on their bodies. More than likely, he would spend his years alone.
“Captain,” Velic said over the system. “We’re about to enter warp drive and will be home shortly. It might get a little bumpy.”
Siril braced his feet and continued to eat his fruit as the ship vibrated around him. He wondered what sort of female would ever settle for someone like him. He’d been handsome once, but wars had ravaged his face and body. There were females out there who thrilled over being with a warrior such as he, but they were few and far between. And once the thrill was over, they left and he was alone once more. No one wanted to wake up next to him every day for the rest of their lives.
If he ever did claim a mate, he had a wonderful home for her. The council had provided him one of the best houses on his world. It was large, easily big enough for many children, and had a lush garden out back. He seldom saw it, spending most of his time on this ship trying to keep the galaxy safe. If he did take a mate, he supposed he’d have to spend more time at home. Was he ready to give up this way of life if it meant having a warm female to bed every night?
He wanted to say yes, but he wondered if he’d miss wreaking havoc and striking fear into the hearts of those around him. Just his name was enough to send most running in fear. He’d earned his reputation and was proud of it. Human females seemed fragile, though, and he doubted they would thrill over his many kills. He wanted a female every bit as fierce as he was, but he had yet to meet one. Someone who could take care of themselves if he had to leave on a mission. Worrying about a helpless, fragile mate would only get him killed. No, he needed a warrior. But in all his travels, he’d never met a female warrior. There were stories of some on far off worlds, but it was doubtful he’d ever meet one.
Who was he kidding? No one would ever want a mate like him. He was too damaged for someone to ever love him. But if he did have a mate, if a female ever took a chance on him, he’d shower her with love and affection and make sure she never wanted to leave.
When he was home, he watched the mated couples. Their females smiled at them with such affection, and grew round with their children. Not that he had the slightest idea of what to do with a child. He’d never held one for fear he might hurt them. They seemed so small and breakable. Part of him wanted children to experience the pleasure of having a family, but the thought of bringing a tiny baby into the world was frightening. And at his age, by the time he had grandchildren he might be too old to enjoy them. Gods! Grandchildren?
He shook his head at his folly. He wasn’t getting a mate and wasn’t having children, so it was a moot point. He’d do better to hone his battle strategies and mold the young warriors who needed a guiding hand. Leave populating the planet to the younger males. The greatest gift he could give his people was keeping them safe, either by his own hand or those he trained. With some luck, he’d die in battle and never have to live a lonely life once the council retired him.
The ship shuddered under his feet and groaned, telling him they’d touched down. Siril tossed the core of the star fruit and made his way through the ship to the docking port. His crew was already exiting as he made his way down to the ground below. There was no one to greet them, but there never was. All of his crew were single, and while some of them still had parents, they were very much on their own.
The suns shone brightly overhead, their warmth caressing his face. It was good to be home, another crisis averted. His people were safe and were none the wiser to the threat that had been hanging over their heads. If the pirates had managed to land, many lives would have been lost. He walked the streets, smiling at the children playing he passed along the way. This was why he spent so much time in space. So families could stay together, could live in peace, and those precious children would have a chance to grow up and maybe become warriors themselves one day.
The clinic loomed ahead and he hoped no one was waiting. He didn’t mind the wait, but the fewer people he had contact with the better, until he knew he hadn’t been contaminated. He stepped into the cool interior and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the waiting room was empty. Easing down onto a chair, he extended his bad leg to give his knee a break. Sometimes the metal of his prosthetic made the joints in his knee ache. Getting old was a bitch.
He looked around the interior of the clinic, noting the changes since he’d last been in. Some blocks were stacked in a corner for the children who had to visit. A few books with human females on the cover graced a few tables. What were those called? Magazines? He picked one up, curious as to the contents. As part of his extensive training, he’d learned to speak and read all of the languages of Earth and all of the surrounding planets in his galaxy. The magazine in his hand was in Earth English and had articles on losing weight, the best summer diets, and “the top ten reasons he doesn’t love you”.
Siril smiled and shook his head, amused by the things human females found entertaining. He’d much rather read a book on the latest weaponry. He flipped through a few more of the books, wondering why all of the females in them were so skinny. The females in the bride program came in all shapes and sizes. Why didn’t their magazines have fuller-figured women in them as well?
He tossed the book aside and stood, moving across to the door that led to the offices and exam rooms. He cracked it open and peered down the long hall. Light shone under one of the office doors and Siril decided to make his presence known. His boots were loud against the polished floor and must have alerted the doctor someone was in the building.
The office door opened and Vyrex stepped out.
“Siril, it’s good to see you. Another successful mission?” Vyrex asked.
“The mission went well, but my ship was covered in the blood of pirates. Some got on me as well. I wanted to make sure I hadn’t contracted anything.”
Vyrex motioned for him to follow and led Siril to an exam room. He scanned Siril head to toe, ran some blood tests, and gave him a few injections. As the doctor studied the results of the tests, Siril waited to find out if it was bad news or if he’d managed to come out unscathed once more. He figured that eventually his luck would run out. Yes, he’d lost some body parts along the way in his missions, but otherwise he was still very healthy.
“Everything looks fine,” Vyrex said. “The injections I gave you will help boost your immune system and should fight off any viruses if any present over the next few days. I wouldn’t worry unless you start feeling ill, then come back and see me. We’ll run more tests then.”
“I think I may go off world for a bit.”
“Earth?” Vyrex asked.
Siril nodded. “The council has offered to send me many times for a vacation. I think it’s time I took them up on their offer.”