When Willow Ashton’s alien stepfather signs a contract with the emperor of the planet Kazoolan for her hand in marriage, he shocks her to the core.
Willow, locked in her room, plots her escape. She comes up with a plan to get out of the house and as far away from New York as possible. But fate has a different route for her to follow.
Willow took a few bites of her breakfast, drank her orange juice, wiped her mouth, then stood. “I have to run, or I’ll be late for work.” She pushed her chair back under the table and was about to leave the dining room when her stepfather, K’Salo’dar, stopped her.
“Willow, sit down. I have something to tell you,” he bellowed.
“I just said I’ll be late for work. Tell me tonight.” Willow stubbornly continued away from the table.
“I told you to sit,” K’Salo’dar thundered.
Willow threw a glance at her mother, hoping she’d step in, but not this time. More than often—too frequently lately—her mother chose the easy way. Ignore everything.
Willow shrugged, pulled her chair out, and plopped down on the edge of it. “Quickly then.”
“As always, you are incredibly rude. It’s about time you learned obedience and manners. Fee, you have failed miserably in raising this child of yours,” K’Salo’dar told her mother.
“Sorry, dear. She’s inherited her father’s stubborn streak. Willow, five minutes. Hear him out,” she said.
Willow sighed and sipped from her almost cold coffee. “What’s so important?”
“First, there is no need for you to rush away from the table because I have called your place of employment. You are no longer needed at the boutique,” K’Salo’dar stated.
Willow almost dropped her coffee. K’Salo’dar might as well have taken off his belt and whipped her. For moments she was lost for words while her already simmering blood turned into a full turbulent boil. She slammed her coffee cup down on the table, spilling half the content, and jumped up, sending the chair flying. “What gives you the right to—”
“Willow, mind yourself,” her mother interrupted, throwing her a warning look.
K’Salo’dar rose and shoved his chair back. “Right! Girl, I am your father. I have every right to—”
“Listen, George…” Willow thought she’d surely explode. “You’re not my father. You never have been and never will be.”
“Children, leave the table and go to the family room,” her mother told Willow’s three half-brothers and two half-sisters, then gave her an angry glare. “Willow, stop your insolence! This minute! You’re setting a bad example for your brothers and sisters. Apologize to your father this instance!”
Before she really lost her temper, she ignored her mother, who, like always, chose to be on his side. Willow was about to follow the kids out of the dining room, but her stepfather’s next words halted her in her tracks.
“Stay here, young lady! I have given your hand in marriage to Emperor Gra’dorn. The nuptials will take place in two weeks.”
Willow felt the blood drain from her face as she turned to face her stepfather. “What the fuck? You’re on Earth, George! Not on your backward planet. I’m an adult and an American citizen. I’ll choose my own fucking husband, thanks very much, if and when I’m ready to get married. Which is probably never!”
K’Salo’dar’s face turned a darker mottled shade, a sign of his mounting fury. Willow gazed at her mother’s pudgy alien husband and the dark blue ridges on his forehead, which always turned a much darker blue when he was angry. The little protrusions on top of his head that served as ears twitched frantically. It was almost comical, and she would have laughed if the situation had not been so bizarre. Bizarre? Infuriating was a more appropriate word.
“First of all, you live in the home of the Kazoolan ambassador, which is attached to our consulate. Both stand on Kazoolan territory! That means you will abide by Kazoolan law. The contract has been signed. Now go to your room to think about the honor of the fact that the emperor has chosen you for his bride. You are not to leave the house.”
Willow balled her hands into fists. All she wanted to do now was to strike out, to punch that smug blue face. Turning abruptly, she almost ran out of the dining room and up the stairs. Trying to leave the house would be no use. K’Salo’dar had more than likely already ordered the two soldiers standing guard outside the front door not to let her leave.
She flopped down on her bed and stared at the ceiling. There was no way in hell she’d allow herself to be bullied into a marriage to the alien emperor of Kazoolan, her stepfather’s home world. What was the man thinking? And why was her mother allowing it? Bride? Really? Bride number what? The man already had a harem of how many wives?
Just a week ago, she’d felt so honored when her stepfather had asked her to accompany him and her mother to the gala held in honor of the visiting emperor. It had been a huge event, televised and broadcasted all over the USA. Many high officials from all over the world had attended the affair, even the king and queen of England.
It had been so much fun shopping with her mother for a gown and accessories. She looked at the gown, still hanging on its hanger on her closet door. It was absolutely gorgeous. She’d never owned such an expensive piece of clothing in her life. Emerald green, embroidered with sparkling crystals around the neckline and hem, the dress had brought out the green in her eyes. On the day of the event, she and her mother had had facials, professional makeup, manicures and pedicures, and their hair done. She’d felt like a movie star that evening. Now Willow understood why her cheapo stepfather had splurged for a change. He’d had an ulterior motive. How her mother could have gone along with the plan was beyond her comprehension. Then again, her mother did everything her husband ordered. She was totally subservient to him.