[BookStrand Futuristic Sci-Fi Romance, HEA]
Kel Ryder finds herself adrift in space with nineteen survivors after a plague wipes out the rest of the Dread Moon’s crew. Unfortunately, nobody knows how to operate the ship although everyone is desperate to return home.
Suddenly forced to take charge, Kel notes two lights on the monitors, and events unravel quickly. She hooks in a battered pirate ship and throws the bandits in the brig until she works out how dangerous they are, but it’s not long before the second light on the monitor announces itself as hostile aliens.
Now desperate to avoid the impending doom they represent, Kel's forced to ask for the pirates' help, but Captain Dreyton of Korey doesn’t have much time to make up a plan and is furious and contemptuous of her for neglecting to warn him sooner. However, he’s the least of her worries, and it’s not long before she mysteriously forgets him as hostile aliens dock and rampage through her ship.
Note: This book contains adult language used as profanity.
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
The well-lit corridor funneled into a dim foyer where dangerous goods could be viewed through the front glass of the containment room. Items with suspected undesirable microbes attached had lain in there before, and there was rumor that a mysterious alien creature had once been held there as well. But this had to be the first time humanoid aliens would be contained inside like captive enemies. The Dread Moon had no accommodations nor recommendations for prisoners outside of its own misbehaving crew members caught in drunken revelry or unseemly behavior from time to time.
Kel noticed the dragon picture embellished on the side of the alien craft had mysteriously vanished. She stood slightly ahead of Dem in the shadows as the vessel’s door shifted slowly. No lights shone from within the craft. Perhaps they’d lost lighting during the battle that’d wrecked their vessel.
She observed the shadows of five figures move down the ramp—no, six. Using her knowledge of the cargo bay she estimated they were well over six feet tall and easily outmatched herself and her crew in power and strength. She blew out a long, slow breath and crossed her fingers behind her back. The containment room had soft lighting within, and water vessels rested on tables alongside polished red apples. As she glanced at the shiny orbs she wondered if their alien culture had fairy tales with fatal fruit in them, and if they would indeed take a bite of the offerings.
The six shadows collected at the bottom of their ship’s ramp and stood there for long moments, appearing blurry in the gloom. Kel gave them no signs—she merely stood in place and waited as patiently as a spider inviting a fly to its web. Were they assessing their own plans to overtake her ship or did they think she’d welcome them as honored guests and let them have the run of the place? If they were indeed part Xephon then surely they’d picked up on her invitation to come toward the light.
Maybe the leader realized how limited his choices were. Go back and hang out in their useless ship or try to meet with the hosts of this large vessel they now stood in. Hells, she could have gassed them by now if she’d wanted to. Why were they so hesitant?
Seconds ticked—fragments of time where choices were weighed. Kel could hear the soft sounds of Dem’s reathing behind her. What was it like to be those aliens? What would she do now if she were them?
They moved forward suddenly in a V shape, like ducks flying away to warmer climes. Only they had no guarantee they were headed somewhere better. Kel felt a stab of pity for them and quelled it quickly. She watched with barely contained anxiety as they moved into the containment room and the steel door slid softly behind them—a permanent separation from their ship. The leader ignored this as if he’d known such an event would happen as soon as they crossed the threshold. He came to stand a few feet from the glass wall behind which she stood, with his arms crossed over his chest, as he regarded her with a steady gaze. What did he see? She must appear small and pale to him—a creature he could easily overpower and physically manipulate. As she stared at him she wondered how the real Dread Moon’s Captain, Lily Vance, would have handled this situation.
One could learn a lot from outward appearances. Her own gaze didn’t waver as she gave the alien a full assessment. He had a broad, muscular frame clothed in black or near-black natural fibers with leather and metal embellishments depicting odd shapes and patterns.
His boots had spikes on them and were sturdy and heavy. They looked like they could do a lot of damage to an opponent in a scuffle. Her eyes tracked up and regarded his human-like hands encased in fingerless leather-like gloves. The nails were long and curved and bluish and brought to mind images of predatory talons. His right hand appeared to have two artificial digits. A shiver leaped up her spine as she dragged her eyes away from the cyborg fingers. She didn’t want to know how he’d come by those.
She studied his head but avoided his eyes. He had a half-healed burn mark along his cheek. Her eyes skittered over the wound and examined the rest of his face. His skin appeared olive with a hint of gray to it. As a medic she realized such pallor might be more to do with his state of health than his genetics. Most likely these castaways were dehydrated and starving for both food and decent atmosphere. That they’d lasted so long in their damaged ship was probably a testament to their physical strength. Her own people would’ve perished days ago in the same situation.
His hair looked dark and unkempt like a Xephon’s and was tucked behind fine, elongated ears again much like a Xephon’s. She steeled herself to meet his eyes.
He regarded her with such intensity she almost took a step backward. She could’ve drowned in those eyes. They were starkly reminiscent of black whirlpools that threatened to suck her down past their thin silver borders. There could be no denying he appeared an exotic and intriguing example of a male, and something deep inside her pulsed with a throb of excitement and an undeniable acknowledgment of the danger he represented—not just to her crew and her ship but to her own fragile grip on her composure. But she was no fool who could be easily mesmerized by his penetrating gaze so enticingly accompanied with his raw male magnetism. Kel Ryder remained a survivor to the core of her bones—had refused to give up when the rest of the crew died and had refused to give up as a child when her drug-addicted mother had dragged her and her sister Kash from one hell spot to another.
The alien leader broke eye contact and scanned every inch of the glass wall with focused consideration. When his inspection ended his gaze fell back to her. His lips quirked slightly, and she caught a glimpse of his menacing fangs. He appeared to have a moment of hesitation before he raked his half-gloved hand through his tangled dark hair and then turned his back on her—a pointed dismissal. He knew she’d trapped him, and there was nothing he could do about it.