Ella spends her days studying rocks. It's not glamorous work, and her funding is next to nothing, but she hopes to prove life exists beyond Earth. What she doesn't count on is being used as a breeding vessel to save an alien race. She's kidnapped and taken far from Earth for only one purpose. She tries to revolt but it's hard when her captor does such wicked things to her body.
Dhiro travels to Earth to find a fertile mate. The future of his planet is at stake, so failing is not an option. He's never met a human in the flesh, but his studies conclude they're a primitive and violent race. He's pleasantly surprised when he finds a female soon after landing. She's lush, in touch with her emotions, and will make the perfect mate for him.
There are others on Dhiro's plant with fertility issues. Can he keep Ella safe when they try to take her for themselves? And will their union even save his world at all?
He’d made it.
The blue planet filled Dhiro’s viewscreen as he prepared his ship to enter the atmosphere. He’d been dealing with numerous technical problems the past few hours, so it was a relief to finally reach his destination. It had been an excruciatingly long, mind-numbing trip through space. But it would all be worth it once he found a breeding vessel to carry on his lineage. An heir was all that mattered.
His two brothers said he’d never make it—it was too far, too dangerous, and the Earthlings may not even be compatible with their DNA. But Dhiro had done his research, and the Earth females were the perfect match. Although primitive in comparison, they were physically compatible, and he should be able to walk among them without detection.
With the repairs he had to complete on his ship before returning home to Trenu Zel, he hoped finding a suitable female would be quick and painless.
As he navigated the rough entry, his mother appeared on his monitor. She always chose the worst moments to make her appearance. “Yes, Mother?”
“Have you arrived safely?”
“Ask me again in five minutes. I’m attempting to land right now.”
“Please be careful,” she said. “I want you to return home safely, with or without a mate.”
He held his breath for a moment, then responded, “I’ll check in with updates. Take care of my brothers.” Dhiro turned off the monitor.
He’d come to Earth out of duty, a responsibility to keep their lineage alive. In all his planning, he’d failed to think of his Earthling conquest as a future mate, but he supposed that was exactly what she would be. He’d never allowed his mind to wander into territories of love and bonding. If she were a Trenuian female, their match would be blessed by their people. Dhiro was entering uncharted territory and would be the first to claim an Earthling. Some of the males on his taskforce laughed at the thought of him mating with a primitive species. He’d been the butt of jokes for months.
However, they wouldn’t mock him once he returned with the only fertile female on his planet. At least that was his plan.
Within seconds, the ship made contact with the ground, skidding and jumping as it created a great plume of dust. His body jostled in his seat, and anything not bolted down was tossed around the ship’s interior. When he finally came to a complete stop, he didn’t dare move. As the minutes passed, he finally took a breath and unfastened his protective belts.
He turned on the viewscreen. His ship had indeed landed on the Earth’s surface, but it was barren, no sign of humans or their civilizations. Just dirt, dirt the color of rust for miles.
No matter. He’d come here for a purpose and had no plans in calling it quits.
Dhiro tested the outside air before opening the outer hatch. He stood on the top step, taking a cautious first breath of Earth’s air. It wasn’t as fragrant as the air back home, but it was breathable.
The temperature was much warmer here, the intensity of the sun something he wasn’t accustomed to. His steps echoed on the metal stairs as he descended. There was nothing here, and since his ship would be out of commission until he dealt with repairs, moving to a more populated area wasn’t an option.
He put his hand over his eyes to scan the distant mountains. The sky was a unique shade of blue. The planet had its charm, but he was still glad this voyage was temporary.
Dhiro unfastened one of the outside panels to begin working on the ship’s exterior circuits. He’d start his search for a mate tomorrow after he rested for the night. One by one, he tested for faults in the equipment. It was a mindless task, the hours slipping by without notice. The sky began to darken as he completed his first of many tasks.
A distant scream immediately captured his full attention. He set down his tools and took several steps into the open to get a better view of the land.
There was nothing to see. Nothingness in every direction.
Again, the scream echoed along the mountains ridge and valleys. He decided to investigate. After strapping on his weaponry and protective vest, he began his trek along the vast, red land. The sun had slipped below the horizon, but his vision was equally effective in the darkness.
He’d traveled far, and the lingering heat was becoming an increasing annoyance. The cries grew louder as he walked, so he had to be very close. Animals growled nearby, and he wasn’t sure what creatures he may find in this region. From his research, nothing on Earth could be a threat to him, so he plodded onward.
As he turned the corner of a low mountain, there was a small chasm with scant greenery. Plumes of smoke from a recently doused fire drifted up into the sky. And five feral beasts were closing in on a lone human. A female.
He watched. Stunned to see one in the flesh.
Then he snapped out of his trance and moved to act. The moment she noticed him, she called out.
“Help me. Please help!”
The need in her voice drove his protective instincts into overdrive. He wasn’t sure if it was due to his three decades on the taskforce or a primal connection to this human.
As he approached, the animals turned their attention to him, creating a circle of attack, one he knew well, but from much more threatening beasts on Trenu Zel.
The first one lunged, but he caught it by the throat in midair. He examined the beast as it struggled and yelped. He’d never seen one of these creatures, and his curiosity for the new world piqued. When the female whimpered, he snapped the animal’s neck and waited for the next to attack.
One by one, he killed the hairy beasts with his bare hands. They weren’t worth the effort of unsheathing one of his weapons. He dusted off his hands as he neared the female crouching low behind her smoldering fire pit. She still carried a large stick in her hands. Trembling hands.
“I won’t harm you,” he said.
She nodded repeatedly, looking at her own hands as she dropped the makeshift weapon. “T-Thank you. I thought I was a goner.”
He reached out a hand to her, and after a pause, she took it. Dhiro pulled her up to her feet but was surprised she barely reached his chest in height. Women on his planet were comparable to males in height, but he found her tiny size endearing.
“What were those beasts?”
“Beasts? You mean the wolves?”
“Yes, the wolves.”
She ran a hand through her blonde hair. It flowed down her back even though disheveled. He’d never seen the color before. Everything about her appealed to him.
“I’ve come out here so many times, and I’ve never had a problem with them before. If I’d known a wolf attack was a possibility, I never would have ventured this far alone. Well, not this late.”
“You’re afraid of the wolves?”
“Of course, wouldn’t anyone be? Well, not you, I guess. How did you do that, anyway? You didn’t even use a gun. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“I’m a superior adversary,” he said matter-of-factly. “They’re not smart hunters. The others would have been wise to escape after I killed the first one.”
She stared at him. “When I was ten, I was attacked by one of them.” She pulled up the edge of her shirt, showing him a deep scar on her side. “I’ve been terrified ever since.”
Dhiro didn’t like that she’d been marked by one of those filthy beasts. If she’d been on Trenu Zel, their technology would have ensured she had no lasting scars. But she’d been born on a primitive planet at no fault of her own.
“I can protect you from the wolves,” he said.
“Yes, I know you can. What’s your name, anyway?”
“Dhiro, that’s different. My name’s Ella. Ella Sinclaire, aspiring noteworthy geologist.” Then she held out her hand. He wasn’t versed in Earth customs and wasn’t sure how to respond. The first thing that came to mind was to hold out his hand in the same manner.
She laughed, a sweet, musical sound. “Okay then.” Ella grabbed his hand in hers, yanking it up and down. “Nice to meet you, Dhiro.”
She’d completely slaughtered the pronunciation of his given name. But all he could focus on was the intimate contact she’d forced on him. The feel of her skin against his.
He expected this mission to be easy, like choosing a pet. No emotion. No attraction. Ella was human, after all, an inferior species. This entire trip was a necessity, not a pleasure.
In the matter of minutes, everything changed.
Dhiro had found his mate.