Aine MacTavish wasn’t surprised to find herself at a bar in the wee hours of the morning, paying her father’s tab, and escorting him back home. Again. She had to admit, though, she really wasn’t expecting the spaceship they ran into on the way or the lizard-looking aliens who tossed her into a small cell and informed her that she would soon be auctioned to the highest bidder as a pleasure-giver. She was even more shocked to see all the other stolen females from around the galaxy who were facing the same fate as her.
After two years of captivity, Grizolde Theodosius Ja”Lento, warrior and cousin to the kind of Tarilax, had lost all hope of regaining his freedom or his lost honor. There was no way he could return to his homeland now, a broken and disgraced slave. That is, until the Lizentine tyrant, Beahl, abducts a beautiful Earther female with hair the color of red Packari sands and soft, warm eyes that remind him of the stormy azure seas of home. Mine.
For her, he would break the chains of captivity and restore his honor. For his mate, he would risk everything to make himself worthy.
“When in Rome, the tough get going,” Bruce drawls reverting to his thick Scottish brogue.
After living here in the States for more than twenty years, he only does it when he’s drunk or nervous.
“Do as the Romans,” I correct him as per our usual repartee.
Sighing, I hand the bartender my credit card and give her an exasperated look before returning my attention to Bruce. “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”
“Aye, lass. That’s what I said,” he argues, then slams a shot of Glendronach and bangs the empty glass on the bar.
“He’s cute,” the bartender says to me, smiling and eyeing Bruce like a slice of chocolate cake before she takes off to the other end of the bar with my card.
If she only knew. First of all, that’s my father she’s ogling so blatantly. Secondly, that’s just ew. Lastly, he was only cute the first dozen or so times. This is the third time this week alone that I’ve had to fetch him home from a bar and pay off his tab. We are way beyond cute now.
“She thinks I’m braw,” he says, waggling his brows and somehow managing to slur a whisper. “She’s quite the bonny thing, too. Maybe you should go home and leave your old man here for a wee bit longer? Run along, and I’ll see you back at the hoose in the mornin’?”
“In your dreams, Romeo. You’re coming home with me.”
“Here you go, hon.” The young bartender hands me my card, and I stand up, stowing it away in my back pocket. “Your friend here is a trip. I hope you guys come back,” she says, winking at my father.
“I’m sure he will. In fact, I doubt I’ll be able to stop him.” Irritation drips from my tone, my look sharp onto him. “But, for now, I’m taking my friend home so he can sleep it off. C’mon, Bruce. Let’s go.”
Upon a sharp tug on his arm, he stands up reluctantly.
“Careful there, lass. All you have to do is ask. You catch more flies with worms, you know.”
“Honey,” I correct him again without even thinking about it, catching him under the arm as he stumbles between the barstools.
I blow out an aggravated breath as the bartender chuckles behind us. Any other day, I might have found humor in this, but not today. I’m tired. Bone weary, as some say.
“I wasn’t calling you honey. It’s ‘you catch more flies with honey.’ You’re mixing it up with ‘the early bird gets the worm.’ Now, can you walk out of here by yourself? Or do we need to carry you?”
I sincerely hope he can walk since one, the bar is nearly empty and I don’t see anyone who might be able to help, and two, I don’t have a vehicle to carry him to.
He gives me an incredulous look and puffs out his chest. “Of course I can walk. I was walking long before you were even a glimmer in your blessed mother’s eye, as you weel-ken.”
“Yes, yes. I know. I’m sorry.”
What I really know is that he goes through several different stages emotionally when he’s shit-faced, sometimes getting a bit surly when his drinking is interrupted. The last thing I want is to spend the night dealing with my obstinate father when I have to get up early in the morning and go to work. He, on the other hand, can lie-in and sleep it off since he’s still unemployed after the last electric company where he worked went belly-up some months ago. Best to just go along with everything he says and keep him appeased so he’ll skip straight to the melancholy part of our evening.
“See you later.” The bartender waves at us with her little white towel, and I nod my thanks while tossing a little wave behind us.
“Speaking of your blessed mother—” he says as we make our way to the exit.
Those words always make me cringe. If he gets started talking about my mum, there’s a good chance we’ll be up all night until he cries himself to sleep in the wee hours of the morning.
“Pop,” I interrupt, trying to sidetrack him. “We’re going to have to walk back to the house. I couldn’t get the truck to start.”
“That twally-washer piece of shite,” he mumbles. “Hey. How about I go back over there, and have that nice bartender lass call us a cab?”
I open the door and give him a skeptical look, unsure whether he’s actually wanting a cab, another drink, or the bartender's phone number. Whatever. It doesn’t matter, because it’s not going to happen, especially the cab. I’m tapped out after paying his tab, and we’ve barely got enough cash left for groceries to hold us over until my next payday. Cabs are definitely a luxury we can’t afford right now.
“How about we just walk instead? It’s a nice night, and we can talk.”
“Talk? Since when do you ever want to talk?”
He steps outside, and I follow him, the door swishing shut behind us.
He’s got a point. I’ve never been much of a talker. Took after my mum in that respect.
“Just humor me. I’ve been stuck in a tiny cubicle inside a noisy office all day, and a little bit of fresh air will do me good. Let’s cut through there. It’s faster.”