Jacie and The Alien Bodyguard
Intergalactic Brides, Book 6
Ebook ISBN: 07651-02467
[ Alien Romance, MF ]
A pregnancy that is more than what it seems, and a woman determined to find love on an alien world is more adventure than the taciturn warrior has bargained for. Barimere is all for Jacie finding a mate and getting herself out from under his nose. Except for some odd reason he’d like to tear apart any male who looks her way, and beat the living hell out of anyone who tries to hurt her.
Barimere looked over the women departing the shuttle, trying to determine which one was Jacie Montgomery. The council had given him strict orders to guard her while she visited their world in hopes of reuniting with her lover. His lips tensed into a grim line as he thought about how that reunion was going to go.
He was familiar with Myro — and the mate he’d claimed the previous month. Whatever had transpired between Jacie and Myro, it had obviously been one sided, as Myro had had no trouble moving on with his life after their encounter. Still, he could understand the council’s reason for bringing her here. A pregnant female wasn’t safe on her world without a protector, not when the baby she carried was half-Terran.
Movement near the steps of the shuttle drew his attention and he watched the petite blonde tug her shirt down over a slightly rounded stomach. He took a step in her direction and froze when something orange and furry popped out of one of the bags at her feet. It wound around her ankles before burrowing into the other bag. A head reappeared a moment later with something pink and lacy clutched in its mouth.
Are those… panties? The sex bots he’d used on the floating brothel hadn’t worn undergarments, but he recognized them from the sex videos he’d seen from Earth. He just hadn’t thought he’d see a pair in person unless he claimed a human mate.
“Sugarbutt! Stop that right now!” The small female made a grab for the furball, but it escaped capture and hurtled right toward Barimere. At the last minute, it skidded to a stop, twisting and leaping into the air. Barimere’s eyes widened as the scrap of lace sailed right toward him, landing smack across his face. There were some snickers around them, but he ignored them.
With this thumb and forefinger, he pinched the material and dragged it away. Oh gods… they were panties. His cheeks flushed as he contemplated the tiny garment in his hand and then the flustered looking female in front of him.
“Sugar… butt? You named that demonic ball of fluff Sugarbutt?” he asked incredulously.
“He’s really very sweet,” she said, giving him a slight smile before snatching her panties from his grasp. She shoved them into her pocket then picked up her beloved pet, which was suddenly quite docile.
Barimere wasn’t sure if he should be amused or horrified, by both the situation and the creature’s ridiculous name. He watched as the orange beast rumbled loudly and butted his head against his mistress’ chin. It seemed to be some sign of affection, if the kisses she rained on the feline’s head were any indication.
“Are you Jacie Montgomery?” he asked, almost praying it wasn’t her. The indignity of the situation was almost more than he could bear. Only a human pet would fling underwear at someone’s face.
“Yes. Were you sent by the council to meet me?”
He watched as she tucked her hair behind her ear, taking note of the teal streak in the nearly white strands. What an unusual female. Her eyes were blue and her gaze was a little unnerving as she waited for his response.
“Yes, the council sent me. I’m assigned to be your bodyguard while you’re on Terran and unmated.”
Her cheeks flushed. “You really think Myro will claim me as his mate? I know my visit is going to be something of a shock to him, and the baby will be even more of a surprise, but… I’ve hoped he’s missed me over the last several months.”
Barimere tried not to flinch. It was going to cause this small human female pain when she discovered Myro was mated already, and he didn’t want to see the hurt in her eyes when it happened. She seemed pleasant, despite her unfortunate choice of companions. He gave the furball a baleful glare and went to retrieve Jacie’s belongings.
“Follow me. The council has secured lodgings for you within the tower, in the center of the city, and I’ll stay in the suite next door.”
“As a bodyguard, shouldn’t you be in the same suite with me?”
He almost tripped over his own feet at the thought of sharing a space with her. “It wouldn’t be right since we’re not mated. When you pick a mate, he wouldn’t be happy to discover you living with an unmated male.”
“When I pick one? You make it sound like Myro isn’t going to want me.” The smile slipped from her face. “You know something, don’t you? Please, just tell me; whatever it is, I can handle it.”
“I think it would be best if we get you settled, and then we can have a discussion if you’d like.”
She nodded and slipped her small hand into the crook of his arm. It took him by surprise, but he found he liked her soft touch. Perhaps a little too much. Maybe he needed a mate more than he realized. He’d been content with the brothel and figured a mate was too much responsibility. He was only twenty-five and had plenty of time ahead of him to settle down, if a female would ever accept him. But there were definite benefits to having a mate instead of scratching an itch once a month. Perhaps he’d check out the next set of brides when they arrived.
At the tower, he ushered her into the elevator ahead of him, then took her up to the tenth floor. When he reached her door, he stopped and frowned.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Your door won’t open to you until you’ve been to the clinic and have received your implant.”
“Would they have put that in when they did the translator?” she asked.
“Did they implant anything into your wrist?”
She rubbed at a spot and nodded. “I didn’t understand at the time, but the doctor on Earth said it would be essential for maneuvering around Terran Prime. You mean it opens my suite door?”
“It also allows you to make purchases and order food,” he said. “Everything will be charged to an account that your future mate will take care of.”
She swiped her wrist over the locking mechanism and the door popped open. Barimere pushed the door wide and stepped inside, looking around before setting her bags down and motioning her inside. The door shut behind her with a click, and for some reason, Barimere felt like a noose had just tightened around his throat.
Ridiculous! She’s one tiny female who will not be my problem for long.
“Would you like to maybe take a shower or nap? After you’ve had time to adjust to your surroundings, I’ll take you for a meal and then we can discuss Myro and your situation. Once you know all the facts, I’ll leave it up to you how we proceed.”
“That sounds rather ominous.”
“There are things you need to know about your baby’s father, but I think you should rest first. Pregnant women need rest and food. Do you need anything for your pet?”
“There were some things left on the shuttle, but they assured me they would be delivered to my quarters. He has a litter pan, food bowls, and some other kitty essentials.”
She smiled. “He’s a cat, or feline. Sometimes they’re called kitties. Sugarbutt has been with me a long time and I couldn’t part with him. The council agreed he could travel with me. It would have broken my heart to abandon him at a shelter, and that’s what I would have had to do since there wasn’t time to find him a new family.”
“A place where people abandon animals they no longer want. If someone else doesn’t come along and adopt them, they’re put to sleep.”
He stared at her.
“They’re… killed.” Tears gathered in her eyes, but she blinked quickly to keep them from falling. “I couldn’t stand the thought of that happening to him. He’s been with me for six years and still has a long life ahead of him.”
Barimere nodded. “I understand. I’m glad you didn’t have to leave your pet behind. Perhaps he can give you comfort while you adjust to your new life. Welcome to Terran Prime, Jacie. I think you’ll enjoy living here.”
“There are half-Terran babies on Earth. Why do I need to live here if I don’t marry Myro?” she asked. “You make it sound like I’m never going back to Earth.”
“Your situation is different from theirs. The women with half-Terran babies on Earth are mated to Terran males, and those males are there to protect them. You would be on your own, and that could be dangerous for the child and you. The only way you’ll be allowed to return to Earth is if you take a mate who wishes to travel or move there.”
She sighed, a resigned expression on her face.
The feline let out a rumbling sound and rubbed against Barimere’s ankles. He stared at the beast and wondered why she liked the thing. He supposed it was affectionate, but he didn’t understand the compulsion to own something that was alive, other than possibly a plant. Plants didn’t fling undergarments at someone’s face.
“He won’t hurt you,” Jacie said, bending down to pick up the cat.
“I didn’t think he would.”
She petted the beast and then held him out to Barimere. With a grimace, he reached for the animal and cradled it against his chest like he’d seen her do earlier. The animal’s rumbling grew louder and his body vibrated.
“Is there something wrong with him? He’s making an unusual sound.”
Jacie smiled. “It means he’s happy and he likes you.”
Barimere wasn’t convinced, but he continued to pet the cat like Jacie had done. When the beast wriggled, Barimere put him back on the floor. A frown tipped the corners of his mouth down as he stared at the orange fur now clinging to his shirt. The one day he decided to dress nicely, instead of in his customary leather vest, and an orange furball messed it up. Good thing he had other shirts. One of the mates from Earth made them and sold them in a local shop. They’d become quite popular, and he had to admit they were comfortable.
“I’m sorry about the shedding. He’s nervous,” Jacie said. “It comes off when you wash it.”
Well, that was good news at least.
“I’ll contact the shuttle captain and make sure your cat’s belongings are brought to you. But you really should rest. I’ll return for you in one of your Earth hours to take you out for something to eat. There’s a place here that sells Earth food if you don’t think Terran food would be appetizing. The owner, a woman from Earth, makes sure there’s a — what does she call it? — special of the day, so there’s always something different to eat in addition to the regular menu.”
“I think the Earth fare would be best for today. My stomach has been in knots over seeing Myro again.”
“Yes, well… get some rest and I’ll return for you shortly.”
Barimere let himself out and went next door to his temporary quarters. He’d packed a bag, but the majority of his things were still in his home. The house he owned wasn’t large, but it was warm and inviting. The morning suns shone through the front windows, bathing everything in golden light. He enjoyed sitting in the chair by the window, something he’d picked up from another Earth store on the main thoroughfare, and having his breakfast. Of course, if he ever took a mate, he’d have to eat in the kitchen with her. Missing the suns rising was a small price to pay to have someone to love, even if he wasn’t convinced he was ready for such a commitment, or that any female would ever look at him and find him desirable.
Silence greeted him as there were no pets to meet him at the door. Pulling up the Vid-comm, he placed a call to Councilman Larimar, who had arranged for him to guard Jacie during her stay.
“I take it the human is settled in her suite?” Larimar asked as he came online.
“Yes, Councilman. I left her to rest and unpack, and then I’m taking her out for a meal. I really think it would be best if I tell her about Myro while we eat. Showing up on his doorstep is in poor taste, and I’m not sure I could handle seeing the heartbreak in her eyes when she realizes he’s claimed another female as his own. I think Jacie is attached to him.”
“Well, you know the woman better than I do. If you think it would be better for her peace of mind to be told, instead of shown, then that’s what you should do.”
“Thank you, Councilman. She seems like the type who will cry if faced with Myro, his new mate and his child. I get the feeling he never told her about his son, even though the boy is nearly nine now.”
Larimar smiled. “Would you have told her about your son, if the child in question had been conceived with a whore from a nearby brothel?”
Barimere cleared his throat, suddenly uncomfortable with that idea. “Probably not. But then, that isn’t something I’ll ever have to worry about, now is it?”
“I’m sorry, Barimere.” Larimar winced. “I had forgotten you are one of the few males we know who can’t reproduce. I remember when we approved your petition to adopt, should you ever find a mate.”
Barimere pointed to the scars running down the side of his face. “Not that it’s likely a female will ever want to look at this face for the rest of her life.”
“And did the human female react to them?”
Barimere frowned. No, Jacie hadn’t reacted to them. In fact, she acted as if she hadn’t seen them, which he knew couldn’t be true. She’d have to be blind to miss them, and her eyesight seemed to work quite well.
Larimar smiled. “That’s what I thought. If nothing else, maybe guarding Miss Montgomery will teach you that not all females judge a male based on his looks. You would do well to take a mate like that, a woman who can see you for the male you are inside, instead of getting caught up in your looks. Any male would be lucky to find such a female, but I’m afraid they’re rare.”
“I have plenty of time to claim a mate, but perhaps I’ll pay closer attention to the next set of potential brides to arrive. Coming home to silence is not as pleasant as I once thought it to be.”
Larimar nodded. “I’m familiar with that empty feeling when you come home and there’s no one to greet you, no one to enjoy a meal with, and no one to hold as you sleep. Once my schedule clears, I plan to seek a mate as well. Now that Borgoz is settled, I’d imagine all of the council will begin looking. It didn’t seem right for us to settle down before he did.”
Barimere hesitated to voice his concerns. “I realize we’re most fortunate to have found Earth, and to have reached an agreement with their government, but what of other females that may be compatible with Zelthranites? What if we’re limiting our options, and our chance to find love?”
“You know that the nearby planets are facing a similar situation as us — they have too many males, and no females are being born to those fortunate enough to have a mate. We’ve searched the galaxy, and it’s possible that Vaaden females would be viable, but their males aren’t exactly offering up the women to us. Besides, I’ve heard they can be frosty.”
Barimere frowned. “Their temperature is lower than ours?”
“No.” Larimar chuckled. “The humans are rubbing off on me with their sayings. No, I mean that their demeanor is frosty and cold. They pair with their females for breeding purposes, but even they have been using humans. They don’t have an agreement in place, but we’ve discovered that, for at least the past ten years, Vaaden males have been capturing Earth women and forcing them to be sex slaves. Who knows for certain how long it’s been going on?”
Barimere couldn’t stop the growl that vibrated his throat. “We should raid their planet and free those women!”
“It’s a possibility the council has discussed, but we don’t have all of the facts yet. If the women are happy, it would be best to leave them where they are. If we charge in and demand they hand over the Earth women, we will make a powerful enemy.”
“Can we at least stop them from taking more females from Earth? It doesn’t seem right that we’re asking them to hand their women over to us for mates when we aren’t willing to protect the families left behind. Sisters, mothers, daughters… any of them could be kidnapped by the Vaadens, or worse. If the Vaadens are capturing the women, who’s to say others aren’t as well?”
Larimar nodded. “It’s something we’ve thought about, but we don’t have the numbers to protect our world and theirs. There’s been some discussion of asking for help, forming an alliance of sorts, but that would mean sharing the potential brides with another race. Borgoz’s nephew mentioned opening up the bride exchange to other races, and we’ve welcomed some on a case by case basis, but I don’t think we’re ready for something like that full-scale.”
“It’s an intriguing idea. You know I’m willing to fight if I’m needed.”
“Your allegiance to Zelthrane-3 is noted, Barimere, but you’re retired for a reason. You suffered enough at the hands of our enemies and we couldn’t possibly ask you to give any more than you have already.”
Barimere wasn’t sure how to feel about that. He was a seasoned warrior, and his sole purpose in life was to defend his world from attack. Since his capture during the last war, he’d been relegated to the sidelines, assisting with training and tactics, but disallowed from fighting. It stung his pride, but he knew his people were trying to honor his sacrifice.
“Is that really why you haven’t taken a mate?” Larimar asked. “Are you afraid of how she’ll react when she sees your body? Because if she can get past the scars on your face, I doubt seriously that the rest will bother her.”
Barimere didn’t want to admit that the scarring on his body played a large part in his reluctance to find a mate. What if he courted a female, began to feel something for her, and then discovered she couldn’t stand the sight of his body? He might be a hardened warrior, but it didn’t mean his heart couldn’t be damaged.
“Just think about it,” Larimar said. “I have to go. Council will be in session shortly. Watch over Jacie and do what you think is best. We want her to remain calm and to get the rest and care she needs.”
The councilman signed off and Barimere collapsed into a chair. He had a feeling this assignment wasn’t going to be as easy as he’d first thought. Get the rest and care she needs? And just who did the councilman think would be doing those things for Jacie? It seemed he was to be more caretaker than bodyguard, and Barimere wasn’t sure he liked that idea at all. It would mean getting close to her, closer than he had planned. Trouble was brewing, and he couldn’t think of a way to avoid it.