By: Evangeline Anderson

Chapter One

Lauren Jakes was bored.

Although how it was possible to be bored when she was a hundred light years from Earth on a strange planet in a far off galaxy where no other human had ever set foot was beyond her. By all rights she ought to be soaking in the exotic sights and immersing herself in the fascinating alien culture. It was certainly better than the tiny metal cell she’d been kept in on the Scourge Fathership.

The Scourge were a menacing alien race which had come to Earth searching for the one female they believed could mate with their evil overlord, the AllFather. She and she alone would be able to revitalize their race by bearing daughters. Lauren was that female and she had been taken and held within their immense ship for weeks.

While she was there, however, she’d made a connection with Xairn. The huge alien with the burning red-on-black eyes was the AllFather’s son, but he had severed his ties with both his father and his race in order to free Lauren and take her home. Of course, first they had to travel through a wormhole to another galaxy in order to get their DNA modified which, according to Xairn, was the only way they could go back to Earth safely. Lauren wasn’t thrilled with that but if he said it was necessary, she believed him. So she’d been prepared for danger and adventure and excitement…but not for boredom.

Because in order to soak up exotic sights and immerse herself in the alien culture, she would have to leave the small silver Kindred spaceship where Xairn had left her. And the enormous Scourge warrior had made it very, very clear before he left that she wasn’t to do that. Sighing, Lauren remembered their conversation…

“Under no circumstances should you step foot outside the ship,” he told her sternly as he was about to leave himself.

“Why?” Lauren looked out the viewscreen apprehensively. Xairn had landed them in a dark alleyway in a city he’d said was called O’ah but she could catch glimpses of the street beyond which seemed to be the site of a busy marketplace. “Are the native people dangerous or hostile?” she asked.

“Anyplace is dangerous if you don’t know the language and customs,” he replied obliquely. “I’ll be back in one of your Earth standard days. Until then, stay in the ship and speak to no one.”

“All right,” Lauren agreed. After everything they’d been through together on the Fathership and the Scourge home world, she trusted Xairn implicitly to keep her safe. Still… “I know you’re going to find the uh, DNA, guy,” she said, looking up at him. “But I still don’t understand why I just can’t come with you. Wouldn’t that make it easier—save you a trip? After all, you got me some decent clothes.”

She nodded down at the voluminous robe that reminded her of the muumuus her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Goldman, liked to wear back on Earth. It wasn’t very pretty, and the silver-blue material it was made of was extremely scratchy, but it covered her from neck to ankles which was all Xairn seemed to care about. After the cloak he’d loaned her had been ruined, Lauren hadn’t had a thing to wear but the thin towels she’d found in the small ship’s bathroom—a fact that had seemed to bother the large warrior greatly. So much so that the first thing he did when they landed in O’ah was to go out and buy her the silver-blue muumuu dress.

“It wouldn’t be safe for you to come. The splicing quarter is too rough for a female like you,” Xairn growled.

“What do you mean ‘a female like me?’” Lauren put a hand on her hip and frowned at him. “Do I need to remind you that I helped when we were fighting your father’s guards? I may not be as strong as you but I’m not stupid, Xairn. If you give me a weapon I can take care of myself. I won’t slow you down.”

“I didn’t mean that you were stupid or weak.” He sighed and ran a hand over the thick, glossy black hair he kept in a club at the nape of his neck. Lauren had been dying to see his hair let down from the moment she’d met him. With his stern, proud features he would have looked almost Native American if not for the strange coloring of his skin and eyes.

“What did you mean then?” Lauren demanded.

“Your kind has never been seen here. You’ll be considered very…exotic.” His red-on-black eyes flickered over the faint outline of her body under the voluminous muumuu, making her feel warm all over. “Many males will want you.”

Lauren was getting exasperated. “Xairn, are you trying to say I’m too pretty to go with you?”

“That word does not describe you accurately.” He looked away from her, frowning. “It doesn’t do you justice.”

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