Her Mate's Secret Baby

By: Grace Goodwin

“I do?” Yes, that pathetically hopeful voice was mine. My mother would scowl at the unnecessary display of emotion. But screw her, screw my billionaire banker father and their decision to have a child simply to conform to societal expectations. I’d been raised by nannies and housemothers in boarding school. I’d learned to keep a stiff upper lip from the age of three, and I wasn’t even British.

As of today, my mother’s opinion no longer mattered. I needed to remember that. I was getting off this stupid planet. I was going to have a real life, with a man, an alien, mate, whatever, that was ninety-nine percent matched to me. I didn’t care what he was called, as long as he cared. For once in my life, I wanted someone to put me first.

That one simple characteristic wasn’t my ex-fiancé’s or my parents’ nature. Hell, their consistent lack of interest in their only daughter probably meant that they wouldn’t even realize I was gone until Christmas, which was four months away.

“Yes, Natalie. You’ve been matched to Trion.” The warden’s eyes warmed slightly, and I relaxed back into the examination chair. I felt like I was at the dentist, but I wasn’t going to bring that up. And I wasn’t getting a filling, I was getting a man. A mate. A life.

“Okay.” I didn’t know anything about the planet, and I didn’t care. Anywhere had to be better than Earth, because when my parents and Curtis paid attention, they noticed everything and dictated what I did, what I wore, who I socialized with.

I’d pulled up my big girl panties and rebelled a few times, but that had never worked. It was a new boarding school or a first-class ticket home from wherever I’d run to. Just last year, I’d gone on an Alaskan cruise and was met in Juneau by a Montgomery lackey to retrieve me. It had been a fucking cruise, but that wasn’t allowed.

The only way to break free was to leave the planet, to go in a way that they couldn’t get me back. I glanced down at my left hand, at the oversized diamond engagement ring still on my finger. When I looked up, it was to see that Warden Egara had been watching me. “Can you take it off?”

With my wrists restrained, it wasn’t like I was going to do it. But I wasn’t going into space matched to an alien from Trion wearing Curtis’ ring. It was big and gorgeous and I didn’t want it. I wanted my matched spaceman. “Will you help? I can’t reach it.”

She nodded and walked to my side. She set the tablet next to my knee and carefully worked the ring from my finger. The moment it was off, I felt a bubbling, giddy sense of freedom. Was I really going to do this, leave everyone and everything?

Yes. Yes, I was. I wiggled my fingers and sighed. “Thank you.”

She held the ring and raised a brow. “What do you wish me to do with it?”

“I don’t care. Sell it. Keep the money. Give it away. Throw it in the trash. Whatever you want.”

“All right.” She slid the ring into her pocket and I worried she might actually throw it away.

“It’s worth well over thirty-thousand dollars. Don’t take a penny less.”

Nodding, she reached for the tablet again. She didn’t seem impressed by the ring and I liked her all the more for it. It seemed she wanted love over objects, just like me. The ring meant nothing because I meant nothing to Curtis. I settled back against the chair.

“For the record, Miss Montgomery, are you now, or have you ever been married?”

“No.” These were the same questions I’d been asked before, but I knew this was the last time. Now I had a mate. A match. A man who was supposed to be paired to my psychological profile perfectly. Knowing that my mate waited for me only made the questions seem much more real.

“Have you produced any biological offspring?”

“Hell, no.” And before today, I’d never wanted to. Curtis had never inspired me to want a child, and my own upbringing had left me cold. If I ever had a baby, I’d need to take mothering classes or something. I’d have to do all the things my mother never did, like learn all the little songs and games little ones played. The ABCs. I knew the ABCs.

Did they even have an alphabet on Trion? Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to find out. I bet it had its own special children’s song. I’d learn it right away, and sing it to my baby. Maybe even before it was born. They could hear in there, right? Maybe I’d sing both songs, English and Trion.

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