By Brenna Lyons
It's mating season. Zondra Daahn has hit her quickening with both feet and no warning. She's on the prowl for a male to sate her, and Evan Duncan is just the overbearing, alpha male she needs.
There are just a few little problems...
CLOSE ENOUGH TO HUMAN
Miri Johns is a negotiator for the Xxan. When it all blows up, she finds herself captured by humans, an illegal crossbred experiment used as a weapon against them. The best she can hope for is that they'll kill her without torturing her too badly first.
Aleeks Daahn is a natural-born crossbreed, raised on Earth. With Miri at the height of fertility, Aleeks may not be able to control the Xxan need to Dominate and claim his young prisoner. Nor does he want to control it. Are two crossbred Xxanians close enough to human to survive in the human world?
200 pages -- 67,100 words
5x8 -- 208 pages
Zondra Daahn sashayed toward the base club, dressed for man-hunting. The quickening was her only reason for being here; it was rising in her, driving her mad. She needed a cock to ease the passage.
She winced. What a lousy pun that was.
I don’t have to do this. That thought stopped Zondra dead in her tracks halfway to the door. She hesitated, considering it.
Raashh’s nest wasn’t far from the base. Zhaahvan’s wasn’t much farther. Though she didn’t dare show up at the door to one of the nests in her state unannounced, one call to Aleeks and preparations could be made to have an unmated young Dominant prepared to serve her needs.
And all the others dismissed. If she showed up in a nest with more than one unmated Dominant in residence, every unmated male would fight for her, possibly even the Subdominants. They’d likely kill for her.
That truth sent a shudder of revulsion down her body. Terror made her take a step back. What if there are Dominants inside the club? If there were, she could start a massacre.
Common sense intruded. The Xxan were unlikely to go to human clubs. The smells and sounds were intolerable. The human food was inedible, and some drunken humans enjoyed picking fights they couldn’t possibly win. After nearly half a century on Earth and working as allies, many humans still saw all Xxan as alike—invaders, foes.
I don’t want a Dominant for my first. She would likely mate with a Xxan-human crossbreed like herself. She was unlikely to take long-term human lovers, no matter how appealing she found them. Prejudices ran hot in too many humans for that. This is probably the only chance I’ll have to fuck a human. Zondra didn’t intend to waste it.
If there was any place she was likely to find an alpha type, the human equivalent of a Xxanian Dominant, this would be it. Human military men were often alphas, and they certainly weren’t adverse to the idea of screwing something appealing with few questions asked. Her Zhigaaah would make her very appealing, perhaps appealing enough for a single human man to last as long as she’d need a male tonight. If she found a human alpha that appealed to her, she was going to indulge her many fantasies about humans while she sated the quickening.
Her stomach cramped and complained, and her body heated another degree. If I don’t find a suitable alpha quickly, I will have to call Aleeks and have him prepare a nest for my arrival.
With that a given, she sauntered into the club.
She hadn’t even crossed the distance to the bar when the first male approached her. “Interested, doll?”
Zondra stopped and turned her head to size up the male who’d addressed her. She inhaled deeply through her mouth, evaluating his scent. Her determination was sealed that quickly. Subdominant. Wannabe. Unsuitable. “For the right man,” she returned coolly, making it clear he wasn’t that man.
Unfazed, the Subdominant moved toward her. “Oh, I am the right man,” he drawled.
“Impossible. Now if you’ll excuse me—”
Her attempt to round him was cut short when the Subdominant grasped her arm and dragged Zondra to his chest, burying his face in her hair.
“Little tease,” he accused.
Zondra jerked away from his body, then pulled her fist back to strike, but another man’s hand encircled her wrist.
“Now don’t do that,” the new arrival chided her gently. “That would be destruction of government property.”
She turned her head, meeting the newcomer’s ice blue eyes. Zondra licked her upper lip, tongue-scenting him. Dominant. She moved closer to him, making her choice clear.
The Dominant smiled widely. “Let me.” He punched the Subdominant hard, sending the lesser man sprawling.
Both hands released her. Before Zondra could press herself to the Dominant, he stepped between her and the sap levering himself off the floor. The Dominant was protective of her; he was turning out to be just what she needed so far.
The Subdominant staggered to his feet, glaring at them both. Before Zondra or her protector could react, shore patrol ambled over, two rather unhappy-looking sorts.
The one with the chief’s rating patch looked from one combatant to the other, then shook his head in seeming exasperation. “I might have known. Duncan and Reynolds. Do I have to have another discussion with your captain?”
The Dominant made an irreverent show of his hands being tied, and Zondra swallowed a laugh.
The chief bit back a smile of his own. “This just might be why you’ve gone to chief’s board four times and been turned down, Duncan.”
“Yeah. Life sucks.” But his tone didn’t make it sound like it did. The Dominant’s amusement was impossible to miss.
The Subdominant — Reynolds — wiped a stream of blood off his chin. “There’s nothing amusing about the charges I intend to file. Assault mean anything to you?”
Duncan laughed harshly. “Sexual assault, simple assault, and sexual harassment mean anything to you? You never manhandle a lady that way. As I heard it, she said you weren’t her type. Was rather blunt about it, too. Even a blockhead like you couldn’t have misunderstood it.”
“Little cock-tease,” Reynolds grumbled.
Duncan tensed, and the chief stepped between them. Zondra didn’t doubt he did so at the risk of his own skin.
“That true?” the chief asked Zondra.
“Which part?” she quipped. “The part about Reynolds grabbing me and insisting my search was over? Yes. The rest? I’m no one’s cock-tease. I’ve been in this bar for all of five minutes. I’ve had no time to tease him up.”
“Want to press charges?”
She considered that. As much as she’d like to see Reynolds pay for presuming to touch her, pressing charges would have three very negative results.
She’d have to show her military ID, which would land her in the cell next to Reynolds. Although she hadn’t ordered a drink and had no intentions of doing so, she was still a minor by human laws, her Xxanian genetics disregarded.
And shore patrol will disregard them.
Once the officers knew her age, they would contact her seir, which would lead to the final unfortunate result to this fiasco: her seir, gran-seir, and brother would lock her up until she was an elder.
Even if she managed to escape all those outcomes, she’d spend the next two hours giving a report while the quickening drove her mad.
Zondra feigned indifference. “If he leaves and forgets the charges he was planning to file against Duncan, I’ll drop mine.” She smiled sweetly. “And that saves you a lot of paperwork, Chief.”
All four men gaped at her, Duncan giving his adversary his back to accomplish the move.
“Your call, Reynolds,” the chief intoned. “Night in the cell and being called to the carpet, or walking away now with nothing but a loose tooth or two as punishment.”
The Subdominant scowled at her, then stalked away. Zondra watched Reynolds leave. If there was one thing a Xxanian child learned, it was to never give an enemy your back.
“Guess that’s that,” the chief decided. “Have a nice night, miss. Duncan...” He sighed. “Stay out of trouble.”
Duncan didn’t answer that, smart-assed or otherwise. She could see him glaring at her in her peripheral vision, his arms crossed over his broad chest.
When the shore patrol was gone, he unclenched his jaw long enough to speak. “You shouldn’t have done that.”
“You’d rather —”
“I’d rather see Reynolds in the brig than see him get off scot-free to do this to someone else.”
“Even if you were in the cell next to him?”
“I wouldn’t be there for as long as he would.”
Even a marginal win was a win to a Dominant with a cause. Zondra turned to him. “Maybe I had other plans.”
“For instance?” he challenged.
She chanced stroking a hand along the line of his shoulder, well aware that he might rebuff her. “Reynolds isn’t my type, but you are. There are much better things we could be doing than spending a few hours at the shore patrol office, answering questions and staring at iron bars.”
A glimmer of interest lit his eyes. “And what might we be doing?”
Zondra leaned toward him, whispering her answer. “Climbing into your lap and fucking your brains out isn’t out of the question.”
He lowered his arms and encircled her body with them. His face dipped to her throat, and she smiled. Right now he was getting a lungful of Zhigaaah. If the Zhigaaal worked on humans, it stood to reason that the Zhigaaah did as well.
“I like to be in charge,” he warned her. “You climb nowhere unless I want you there.”
“I’m counting on it.” She was. A woman in the throes of quickening needed a man to fuck her, not one that pussyfooted around the subject.
He turned Zondra and walked her two steps farther into the room, pressing her back to the bar, one large hand cupping her ass under that cover. “I’m hungry tonight.”
“So am I.” Ravenous.
He nipped at her throat, and Zondra hissed in pleasure. He was taking the Zhigaaah in. Once it hit his bloodstream, he was hers for the duration.
“Now,” he breathed. “Come with me.”
Duncan turned so abruptly, it made Zondra’s head spin. He took her hand, leading her toward the exit, his shoulders and arms tensed for a fight and his eyes scanning for any threat.
She smiled at that, his movements clear to her, even if they weren’t to him. Duncan was challenging the other males to try for her. He was prepared to fight someone for her, as Xxanian Dominants often fought for a quickening female. If Reynolds — or any other male — approached her now, Duncan’s response would be swift and painful.
He has fought someone for me... and won the right to sate my quickening. That fact sent a shudder of pleasure down her spine.
The quickening advanced, sending flaming shards through her abdomen. Zondra forced slow, deep breaths. She just had to make it a little longer, and Duncan would ease the fire in her blood.
He led her to a truck situated in the far reaches of the darkened lot, coded the door open, and helped Zondra up. Then he slid behind the wheel and closed them in.
Her glasses transitioned to clear plastic, and a shaft of fear settled in her gut. With them clear, he could see her eyes and call a halt, making her start from scratch again.
Or call Aleeks.
It’s too dark for him to see. And the dark glasses hadn’t caught his attention so far.
Her gut searing, the need for sex reached a fever pitch that stole her ability to reason or stall. Wherever he planned to take her, it was too far. Zondra nestled to his side, stroking her hand up and down his cock through his jeans.
Duncan paused, the key halfway into the ignition. “We’re in a parking lot,” he reminded her.
“I don’t care. Do you?” Some back corner of her mind insisted she would care when this was all over and the quickening wasn’t driving her. The rush of pheromones crushed that line of thinking along with all the others.
“What’s your name, darlin’?” he drawled.
“Zondra.” Her voice sounded strange in her own ears.
“Zondra...” He drew in a ragged breath, dipping his face toward her throat, his eyes slipping halfway shut and his cock going rock hard beneath her fingers. “If you don’t take your hands away, the first time is going to be a rough fuck.” His eyes narrowed and his jaw tightened, indicating a challenge he wanted her to take him up on.
Her heart raced. “Mmmm. Sounds good,” she taunted him. Surely a taunt would push him to something extreme. He’s already talking about more than once.
Duncan dragged her into his lap, capturing her mouth in a kiss that proved “toe-curling” wasn’t a euphemism.
I need more. With that thought in mind, Zondra played her fingers inside the waistband of his jeans.