Carlo Russo is having the worst day. Not only has he lost his job, caught his boyfriend cheating, and had one too many shots with his best friend Grace, now he’s seeing aliens too. Big, black, tail-equipped aliens. After a futile struggle, he and Grace find themselves on a spaceship leaving Earth.
Zenon Scoreceds Qhainqons doesn’t know what it is about the earthling male. Their mission is to bring back ten females in hopes of them being able to provide their planet with children, but he wants the male. What he’s going to do with the male, he doesn’t know, but he’s claiming him as his payment for going on the mission.
Carlo doesn’t approve of kidnapping, but the aliens aren’t too bad, and once the language chip is installed, he finds it entertaining to talk to them. Zen in particular. They’re standoffish and never show any emotion, but Carlo has no problem cuddling up next to Zen at night.
All Zenon wants is to spend time with Carlo, but it’s his job to get them all home in one piece. Will he be able to keep Carlo safe from all the dangers lurking along the trip? He has to because Carlo is his, and he’s not letting him go.
Zenon watched one creature stand. It was male. He’d seen pictures of them so they’d know what not to take, but this man ... He had fair skin, no visible claws or fangs. Zenon suspected he could’ve watched him for years and not grow bored. His eyes changed shape, his facial expression -- he’d never seen anyone show so much emotion. He didn’t know if anyone on Negudade could harbor as much emotion.
Their information claimed earthlings didn’t have fangs or claws, and the man didn’t show any, but Zenon had his doubts. A species wouldn’t survive if they couldn’t defend themselves, and there were animals on Negudade that looked harmless until threatened -- then teeth, claws, spikes, or poison appeared.
He hoped they weren’t poisonous.
“Be careful of them.” He nodded at Brox to attack from the right as he edged to the left.
Brox spoke in a low voice. “I’ll take the female, you disarm the male.”
He appeared disarmed already, but Zenon nodded. He expected the male would run off to save himself, a Negudade would unless they were on a contract to protect the person they were with. He took a quick step forward, so he could catch the man when he tried to escape.
The female screamed, and the man, instead of running off, hit Brox in the jaw when he tried to grab her. Zenon stared. What was he doing?
Anek took a step forward, but Ghurva didn’t as much as twitch.
Zenon studied Brox, but he looked unaffected by the blow.
“Why isn’t he running?” Brox touched his jaw. “He’s not strong.”
The man glanced at them, looked over his shoulder at the female, and said something. Zenon had a language chip embedded, everyone on the ship did, but he couldn't make sense of what the male said. Perhaps he was breaking their contract. It was the smartest thing he could do.
Water spilled from the female’s eyes. “Is the female ill?” He didn’t look away from the earthlings. When no reply came, he glanced at Ghurva. “Ghurva?”
“I don’t know.”
“The male doesn’t appear alarmed by the symptoms.” Anek took another step forward. “It’s most likely not contagious, or he’d moved away.”
A strange tightness wrapped around Zenon’s ribcage. Could the male be infected by whatever the female had?
Then the man nodded, and as he took a step forward, the female jumped down on the other side of the strange wide outdoor chair. She ran.
“Shall I go get her?”
Zenon nodded at Brox. “Anek, follow in case there are more earthlings around.” He took a step forward, and when the man tried to hit him, he caught his arm and secured him -- though careful not to touch any of the pale skin in case it was covered in poison -- and slung him over his shoulder. He’d expected him to weigh more. He was short but didn’t look unhealthily thin, so he should’ve weighed more.
“Where are you taking him?” Ghurva gave him a curious look -- no one he’d ever met could give curious looks except Ghurva. Another sign he wasn’t like most Negudade.
“I’m bringing him.”
Zenon bared his teeth. “Are you questioning me?”
“Captain.” Ghurva nodded, Zenon assumed to let him know Ghurva was aware of his status, but he kept on talking so it didn’t make a difference. “Our orders are ten females. No males.”
“I’m taking him for me. We have space and supplies for one more. I will have none of the females.”
Ghurva shook his head. Watching him made Zenon dizzy. Why couldn’t he be like normal people and tell him what he meant instead of using gestures?
“No, but --”
“Enough.” Zenon strode toward the ship while the female’s scream came closer and closer.