Dekar - Excerpt
Dekar narrowly dodged the blaster fire as he turned into an alley, praying it wouldn’t be a dead end. Literally. He’d spotted four, maybe five grud chasing him. The large reptilian-like beings lived in a subterranean tunnel system but hired themselves out to whatever planet or group needed their army, soldiers known for their persistence and thirst for blood. Again, literally.
With their glowing eyes and thick hides, grud soldiers stood out among the dozens of different species on Karthika. If the grud caught up with him, no one would intervene to help him. It was every being for himself on this lawless planet. While Dekar could fight as well as any Tekklan, he was no match for a contingent of grud armed to the hilt.
“Hey, you, get away from my goods,” a keenta yelled at Dekar when he stopped to debate the split at the end of the alley. He hadn’t noticed the table of drugs sitting in the shadows of the brothel to his right.
Dekar raced down the left-most alley, hoping it wasn’t one that circled back to the market he’d fled. It was the indifference of those who traded on Karthika that had made this planet appealing back when he’d escaped the grud on Trinoth. Even with his asahi scales constantly shifting from blue to silver and back, Dekar could blend in with the dozens of races on Karthika, a world with no peacekeepers. Or rules.
Karthika consisted of ports, markets, fighting pits, brothels, and bars. Legal and illegal goods and services were traded in abundance here, which had made it the perfect place for Dekar to hide. Until the grud showed up.
Drekking grud. They trained their entire lives to hunt and kill. Maybe if Dekar had considered that before giving Azokk the code to Grudan’s defense shield, he wouldn’t be running for his life now. Damn zyanthan got him into this mess and then disappeared, leaving him to face the grud alone.
The alley opened up into another market; not the one he’d fled. Dekar thanked whatever gods were still watching over him.
With so few credits left to his name, Dekar would have to hijack a ship. He’d never stolen anything in his life, but his father taught him that as long as he was alive, he could always apologize and compensate for another’s loss of property or time later. Couldn’t do anything if he was dead.
As Dekar wove through the market, he noticed a keenta following him. The large red male with horns that stood high above most of the other beings in the market was hard to miss.
Dekar briefly made eye contact. As the male lifted a brow, an eerie smile crept across his lips. That was Dekar’s cue to leave.
While watching the keenta over his shoulder, Dekar accidentally slammed into a zyanthan. The blue male locked a hand around his upper arm and swung it behind him as he shoved Dekar against a stone wall.
Drekk! The keenta had been intentionally distracting him, giving the zyanthan a chance to get his hands on Dekar.
“I’m not here to hurt you,” the zyanthan said in a stern, low voice. “My name is Zirkov, and a friend sent me to help you.”
“My friends don’t pin me against walls,” Dekar bit out as he fought against the male’s steely grip.
“It was necessary, so you wouldn’t run. I’m going to release you, but we need to talk. If you want to survive, Dekar.”
“You know my name,” he said, dread spreading through his chest. “How?”
As the zyanthan released him, Dekar spotted the keenta weaving through the crowd without really going anywhere. Guarding him and the zyanthan or maybe watching for the grud. This could be the break Dekar had been praying for, if he could trust these two. He’d never been one to expect help from anyone, especially after what had happened on Tekkla.
“What friend sent you?” Dekar asked, mainly because he didn’t have any friends left. Even his family had shunned him for what he’d done.
“We should go elsewhere to discuss. The market is too open. Too many eyes and ears.”
Go with him and the keenta to another location? Dekar had already been led into this current situation by one zyanthan. He wasn’t about to repeat that mistake.
“Give me your blaster first.”
“No,” Zirkov said. “A warrior doesn’t give up his weapons. To anyone.”
Dekar looked at the male’s arms. No tattoos. “You’re not a warrior.”
Zirkov scowled. “Live or not. Which is it?” A whistle grabbed the zyanthan’s attention. His head snapped in the direction of the keenta, who tipped his head to the market’s north entrance. “Grud heading our way.”
The hell with getting any assurances from the zyanthan; Dekar preferred going with him over a squad of grud. “I’ll follow you.”
“Smart male.” Like a visca through water, Zirkov darted through the market at an obscene pace. When Dekar realized the zyanthan was heading to the port, he slowed, debating his options.
“Keep moving,” the keenta said behind him. “Four grud on our asses.”
The two males ushered him aboard a small ship, G class, othanan design. Not the best, but not the worst. Not as good as a Tekklan-built craft, for sure.
As soon as all three boarded, Zirkov slammed his hand against the control plate, sealing the ship. “Konnitch, prepare for lift off while I talk to the Tekklan.”
When Dekar peered out the porthole, Zirkov pulled him away. “That can get you killed.”
The zyanthan was right. Dekar wasn’t exactly thinking clearly. Three months of running, very little sleep, and no one to trust wore a male down fast.
“What friend and how did you know who I am?” Dekar repeated his earlier question.
“There are no other tekklans around. They all prefer to remain on Tekkla. You stand out, which makes you easy to find.”
Dekar would prefer to be on Tekkla too, but he wasn’t given that choice. “What friend?” he repeated. It felt like Zirkov was avoiding answering such a simple question.
Hearing Azokk’s name made Dekar want to punch Zirkov, but the male would likely punch back, and keep punching. Warrior or not, he had size on Dekar. And horns. And a keentan partner down the corridor.
Dekar thrust his hands through his hair. Only his fear tempered his desire to look out of the ship to see if the grud were standing there. “Azokk’s no friend of mine. Never was.”
“Even so, I’m here to help you,” Zirkov said, calmly peering through the porthole.
“You zyanthans all stick together, don’t you? What does Azokk want with me now? My life is already a mess because of him.”
“You’re not the only one running from the Grud, Dekar. Azokk is as well. He killed their king.”
Dekar had heard that Grudan’s king had been assassinated, but he never imagined Azokk had been the assassin. “Drekk! The Grud are going to blame me for that too.”
“They can only kill you once,” Zirkov said in all seriousness.
“That’s not comforting,” Dekar snapped.
“We don’t believe the Grud have you linked to Azokk. They don’t know who destroyed the defense shield around their planet, only that you gave the attack team access.”
“I gave the code to Azokk, who apparently sold it to someone else.”
Zirkov hesitated. “More or less. The point is, the Grud plan to torture you for information and then kill you. That’s where Konnitch. . .” He motioned toward the cockpit where the keenta had headed. “. . . and I get involved. We’re marshals with GI7.”
“Never heard of it.”
“It stands for Galactic Intelligence sector Seven. We’re an elite group funded by several planets to hide beings who risk their lives to help bring down the Coalition. We want to ensure the Coalition doesn’t regain the foothold it had.
“Eventually, this war between the Grud and Coalition will end, and if they join forces again, then we all have a lot to fear. Not many people are willing to risk their lives to undermine them. Not unless they know they have someone to turn to for help. You will be an example to others, Dekar. An inspiration. If we can keep you alive.”
“You’re going to keep me safe by telling everyone about me?”
“Just your story. You’re a hero.”
“Tell that to my people. Maybe then they’ll let me return.”
Zirkov’s expression soured. “We tried. We’ve been working both ends of your situation while searching for you.”
“Trying to gain you access to your world and making arrangements elsewhere if that failed.”
Dekar wasn’t sure he believed what Zirkov was telling him. He’d never heard about any alliance to protect people who turned on the Coalition or their allies. “How did you even know I was in trouble?”
“Azokk told us what you did for him.”
Dekar’s hands glowed in response to all the anger that surfaced every time he thought about how Azokk had conned him. Zirkov noticed the silver light filling the cramped corridor, but said nothing.
“I’m in trouble because that drekker told the Grud about me.”
“He didn’t. But aside from their ships, there were only a few beings who had the code to lower Grudan’s defense shield. The Grud hunted them all down and figured out you were the leak. By giving Azokk the code, you enabled an elite force to enter Grudan and destroy their planetary defense shield. Which led to. . . other events.”
Dekar hadn’t put it together before. The assassination of Grudan’s king had been the reason the Grud attacked the Coalition homeworld and why the Coalition had retaliated, attacking and destroying much of Grudan’s military force. Without the shield protecting Grudan, the Coalition had done considerable damage to Grudan, specifically their military. Now the Grud and Coalition were so embroiled in their own war that the Coalition had withdrawn their forces from worlds they had conquered.
Dekar sank to the deck, his hands glowing brightly now, the silver light encompassing much of his body as the hopelessness overwhelmed him. “I’m dead. I can’t outrun the Grud forever. They’ll find me. It’s only a matter of time.”
“You’re not dead yet. Not if you listen to everything we tell you. We have a planet picked out for you, a job waiting for you, a home.”
“I have a home. Or I did.”
“Tekkla is lost to you, Dekar. You better get used to that. We’ve taken care of everything. We even have a new name and credentials waiting for you. Everything you need to live out your life.”
“Hiding from the enemy.”
“Think of it as a new start. You will be a new person with a new history, one wherein you never betrayed the Grud. If you accept.”
If. If he accepted giving up on going home. Then again, right now, he had no other options.
“I will try it your way,” he said begrudgingly. “Tell me what I need to do.”
“Lift off, Konnitch,” Zirkov called out to the cockpit as he offered Dekar a hand up.
“Where will I be living?”
“A backward planet that is not as advanced as the one you’re used to. The Coalition has withdrawn and the governments—”
“Governments? The world has more than one?”
“It has several. The planet’s governments are fractured, much like their culture, but the females there are interesting and compatible with Tekklans.”
“I’m not planning on finding a mate there.”
“That is your decision, but that will be your home now, Ginkal. And that’s your new name, so get used to it. Say it over and over until it’s second nature to you.”
A new identity. A new planet. Forever.
But he’d be alive.
“Ginkal,” Dekar repeated. “Not the worst name.”
“We intentionally chose a common tekklan name. We can’t do anything about your physical features. You’ll stand out as a tekklan anywhere you go, but at least we can give you a name that could be anybody. And a background on Tekkla to go with it. If anyone researches you, they’ll find an entire history which I’ll give you to memorize before we arrive at your destination. Oh, and your papers state you’re of the Okkel caste.”
He winced at that. Common name and now the Okkel caste. This couldn’t get any worse.
An explosion sounded outside the ship. Zirkov peered through the porthole. “Drekking Grud. Get moving, Konnitch!”
The ship rose smoothly in the hands of an experienced pilot. “As I was saying,” Zirkov continued, as if having grud firing at his ship was nothing. “The governments have invited aliens from other races to settle on their world if they have skills that will help them rebuild and fend off future attacks by the Coalition and other species. With your skills as a defense systems engineer, you will be of great use to them.”
A planet that had been conquered and controlled by the Coalition for decades. This protection program sounded good in theory, but he’d be living on a backward planet the Coalition had recently fled because of their war with the Grud. On the other hand, he’d be alive. These marshals had ferreted him away from the Grud and seemed to know what they were doing. Drekk. It wasn’t like he had a fallback plan.
“Where precisely?” he asked.
“A little planet called Earth.”
Drekk, he was wrong. This could get worse.
* * *
Richard, Sara’s real estate agent, stood by his car in the driveway tapping his right foot as she admired the brick house with the maple tree in the front yard. The two-story home wasn’t much to look at with its faded paint siding and ancient windows that would be drafty come winter, but it was hers. Hers and the bank’s. She still couldn’t believe she’d bought the house so cheap and in a nice neighborhood, too.
“The keys, front and back, Ms. Marconi,” he said, jingling them.
With the Coalition gone, life had changed for the better. In the U.S. and most counties, the rightful governments resumed control and restored their laws from before the Coalition conquered Earth. Nearly two decades under coalition rule had damaged more than infrastructure. A whole generation of women had not received an education. Most couldn’t read. That meant more than half the planet was illiterate and many women were stuck living with their nearest male relatives who had essentially owned them under coalition rule.
Sara was one of the lucky ones. No longer under her uncle’s authority, she was finally free to do whatever she wanted, including own her own house, go to college, start a business. Anything.
“You need to sign for the keys.” Richard didn’t trust her not to cause trouble. Of all the professionals, teachers were the most in-demand, second only to those in the science and manufacturing fields, but being a teacher didn’t necessarily gain her the respect she deserved.
Technologically, Earth lagged far behind the rest of the universe, making the planet vulnerable to another invasion. In her opinion, Earth’s biggest problem wasn’t its defenses, but the human race’s general lack of manners, decency, and outright desire to understand others.
Most humans didn’t want any aliens on Earth, even to help develop the planet’s defenses. They’d rather risk another invasion or war than have aliens working and living among them. After what the aliens had done to Sara and her family, she shared the sentiment. Coalition or not, aliens didn’t belong on Earth.
Sara signed the paper and handed Richard the pen. “I was just taking it all in.” She hated feeling like she had to explain herself.
“It’s all yours now.” Richard handed her the keys with a creepy grin. “No refunds. No matter what.”
It was an odd comment, like he expected the house to fall apart or something. She’d had an independent inspector check the place from top to bottom. Despite some plumbing issues and a leaky roof in front, the house was solid and merely needed a little love and attention.
She shrugged off Richard’s comment and headed up the stone walkway.
“Good luck, Ms. Marconi. You’re gonna need it!” Richard headed to his car, a beat-up old sedan. If the guy was wealthy enough to afford a car, he could get away with being a little odd.
The moving company hadn’t waited for Richard to show up with the key, so they had neatly stacked her belongings on the porch under the overhang. Her mattress was buried behind all the heavier furniture, so if she wanted to go to sleep on anything other than the hardwood floors tonight, she had to a lot of work ahead of her.
After wedging a piece of wood in the door to keep it open, Sara rolled up her sleeves and started dragging boxes in. If money weren’t so tight, she’d pay a neighbor to bring the furniture in for her.
Before she realized it, the sun was high in the sky, and she was beat. Her sofa, desk, dresser, bedframe, and mattress remained outside on the front porch. She needed a break.
Sara opened the refrigerator, thankful the house came with one as well as a stove and washing machine. No dryer, but the backyard was large enough for her to string a clothesline across. She grabbed the water pitcher she’d filled earlier. When she turned around to get a glass from the box of dishes she’d dragged in, a hulking man was standing there in her kitchen, blocking the doorway to the living room.
No, not a man.
An alien. A blue and silver-skinned being with ears that looked human for the most part, except they formed a pointed tip at the tops and reached an inch or two higher than a human’s. He probably could have grown his hair longer and hidden them, but instead he kept that thick dark hair short and neatly trimmed. Not that a person’s eye focused on his face for long.
His rather striking silver and blue skin reminded her of a Moroccan mosaic made of hundreds of teardrops. The striking pattern ran up his thick, muscular arms to his broad shoulders.
Aside from the minor physical differences, he appeared human. He didn’t brandish any swords, knives, or blasters, or wear strange alien garb that she’d seen on the coalition forces when they’d been in power. This six foot-four male wore a simple black polo with tight short sleeves that showed off the tattoos on the sides of his neck and arms.
No, not tattoos. Scales. The beautiful geometric pattern flashed with iridescence when the light struck it. Utterly captivating. Sara caught herself staring at him until she remembered she didn’t know this male.
“Get out,” she said, finally coming to her senses. As intriguing and beautiful as this alien was, she didn’t know him or why he was in her kitchen.
He raised a brow. If she weren’t so scared, she’d probably think that one small action, especially with the slight smile he offered, was cute, sexy even.
“But your door was open,” he said, in fluent English with an adorable accent.
She’d left the door open. So stupid of her. Moving to the suburbs of Ohio was supposed to be safer than where she grew up in Chicago. The gangs and Brotherhood stuck to the bigger cities. As did the aliens. Except one was right here, standing in her kitchen, blocking her exit.
All the pieces fell into place. The cheaper cost of the house. Richard’s odd comment. There were aliens in the neighborhood.
“That doesn’t mean you just walk in,” she said, hoping he’d leave once she told him off.
“That’s exactly what it means. On three planets that I know of. I’ve used my time away from home to study many worlds.”
“Well, an open door on this planet doesn’t mean you can just walk in. Not without at least knocking and announcing yourself.”
His silver eyes darkened as his smile faded. “My apologies then. I will leave.”
“Good,” she said, watching him turn and walk through the living room. As she followed behind him, she noticed her sofa, desk, mattress, bedframe, and dresser inside her house. Every item that she’d left on the porch had been neatly placed in her living room.
“Wait,” she called as he stepped onto the porch.
He stopped but didn’t turn around.
“Did you do this? Did you carry all of my furniture in?”
“You and who else? Is there someone else in my house?”
As he turned around to face her, the tops of his ears rotated. “I hear no one else in the home, but I can check if you’d like.”
She didn’t have a lot of experience with aliens, not good aliens and certainly not good experiences. He appeared sincere, but he couldn’t have carried all of that heavy furniture in without her hearing anything, could he? At the very least, she should have heard the sofa dragging across the floor. She leaned back to see the hardwood floors. No scratch marks. Or dolly nearby.
“Did you carry everything in by yourself?”
“The items were not heavy. And I felt I should assist you.”
“That was very nice of you,” she said, tempering her voice, not sure what to make of him.
He didn’t scare her as much now as when she’d first seen him standing in her kitchen. The only aliens she’d ever seen on Earth had been part of the Coalition. She knew there were aliens living here legally now, but she also knew that wherever there was an alien, there was trouble.
“It was a simple task.” He paused, hesitated, and then said, “I was responsible for your possessions being left outside.”
“You’re not responsible. The movers dumped everything on my porch because my real estate agent was late with the key. Well, I guess I was late.”
“You were not late. They were early. They said as much and planned to wait for you. I heard them.” He tapped his right ear. “I have very good hearing.”
“I bet,” she said, smiling. She couldn’t stay mad at him, not with that playful smile of his. “No harm done. My furniture’s inside now and it wasn’t raining so nothing got ruined. Thank you for your help.”
“I could take the remaining bedroom furniture upstairs, if you’d like.”
She glanced at the heavy dresser and nightstand. “I’ll manage,” she lied, and then realized he wasn’t leaving.
“Is there anything else? Oh, I can pay you.” She ran for her purse.
“You should know why the movers left,” he said, making no move to take the money she held out to him.
“I’m guessing they were impatient.”
He shook his head and his ears folded back. “I did not intend to cause trouble.”
The answer suddenly obvious, she said, “They left because you’re an alien.”
“Yes. I refused to leave. I mean, I crossed back to my side of the street, but they insisted I leave the area. I live over there.”
He pointed across the street to a beautiful two-story white house with a wrap-around porch and dark red trim on all the woodwork. Large yellow marigolds bordered the path to his home, which was surrounded by lush grass. The house appeared as any other in the neighborhood, inviting and well maintained. The only difference was that an alien lived there.
She found herself staring at his arms again, at how his scales changed from blue to silver and back in undulating waves. It was like watching the wind blow through a field of wildflowers. Quite mesmerizing.
For some unknown reason, she wanted to run her fingers along those scales, to see if they were soft, hard, or even malleable. If she pressed her finger against them, would she leave a temporary impression like on human skin?
“It is normal for my scales to change color,” he said.
Damn, she’d fallen silent for no reason. Worse? She couldn’t stop staring at him.
“I supposed you get asked that a lot.”
That playful smile of his expanded into a grin that made her heart race. This attraction or obsession with his scales was madness. She cleared her throat and focused on his face. A very handsome face indeed.
“Did you tell them that you live in the neighborhood?” she asked.
“Yes,” he replied in a rather clipped voice. “I did not kill them.”
She felt bad in that moment. That he should feel the need to say that. “Of course not. And I’m sure whatever bruises they got were well deserved.”
Dark black brows pursed, as if he had expected her to scold him.
“And I didn’t think you killed them,” she added. “I’m sorry they gave you such a hard time.”
His smile returned. “It is not for you to apologize. They are responsible for their actions. No one else.”
“Even so. It shouldn’t have happened. And I shouldn’t have yelled at you when you entered my house. I was startled.”
“Because I’m not human?”
Was that it, or was it because he was male? Or both? “Honestly, I think so. I don’t have a lot of good experiences with aliens.”
“Me neither,” he said with a grin that warmed her.
“You mean humans? I guess to you we are the aliens.”
“You and anyone other than Tekklans.”
“Tekklan. Never heard of them.”
“Tekkla doesn’t welcome many outsiders nor do our people travel much, though we do engage in some trade with other species. Raw materials that are in short supply on Tekkla as well as information.”
“What brings you to Earth, um. . . I’m sorry. I didn’t even ask your name. I’m Sara.” She held out her hand for him. “I just moved here from Chicago.”
He shook her hand. The handshake seemed a bit forced, as if the action was new to him, but his expression was warm and inviting. Relieved even.
She looked down at his larger hand, holding her so gently. The blue and silver scales extended to the back of his hand, but not his palms, face, or throat. She could swear the scales had covered higher on his arm earlier, reaching up to his elbow. She wondered how much of him was covered in those scales.
Heat warmed her cheeks. Thinking about this male and what he might look like under his clothing was out of line. He was an alien.
And yet he had chiseled muscles, a handsome face, a gentle touch, and kind eyes.
Alien, she reminded herself as she swallowed hard, the rest of her ignoring that little fact.
Why the f did she have to remind herself that he wasn’t human, especially with him standing right there with silver and blue scales covering the backs of his hands and moving up his arm to his shoulders?
“Your skin. . . Ah, the scales are spreading.”
As the blue and silver scales spread over what appeared to be human skin, he looked up at the midday sun. “My asahi scales emerge when I’m exposed to too much sunlight or high temperatures. They serve as shielding. It’s how we regulate our internal body temperature by reflecting the heat. It’s not something I can control, but if it troubles you, I can wear long-sleeved shirts as I do at work. My asahi scales scare some of my coworkers.”
“It doesn’t sound like something to be scared of. Like some type of sunscreen that kicks on like an air conditioner when it’s too hot.”
“Yes, a sunscreen. And a heat screen. Humans do not have this, though your sun is mild compared to Tekkla’s.”
“Depends where you live. Try the desert sometime and you may change your mind.”
“I’ve traveled to the Sahara Desert. A beautiful part of your world, and the temperature was quite comfortable there, but the sun and heat did not activate all of my asahi scales, not like mid-season on Tekkla.”
“It sounds like I’d melt on your world.”
Concern filled his face. “Humans do not melt, do they?”
“A figure of speech.”
His shoulders relaxed. “I am still learning human expressions.”
Her fingers itched to touch his scales. They looked as smooth as the rest of his skin. Why couldn’t she get her mind off the idea of running her hands all over him? He was as handsome as any man she’d ever met—more so—but he was an alien.
“Can I touch your scales?”
“No one has ever asked that.”
“Oh, sorry. That was rude.”
He held out his arm and with a wide and rather devilish grin said, “You may touch any part of me that you’d like, female.”
Damn, if his words and voice wrapped up with that killer smile of his didn’t weave their way through her body right to her core. She wasn’t even sure if he was flirting or if his words had been innocent, but now she had to touch him, to settle that growing need inside of her.
He held completely still as she reached out. When her fingers neared his forearm, she realized she was holding her breath. She glanced up to see if he’d noticed. Beautiful silver eyes gazed down on her.
“I won’t harm you, Sara,” he said in a deep, soothing voice that made her toes curl.
“What’s your name?” she asked as her fingertips glided over warm, smooth skin that felt as soft as a baby’s. Except for the hard muscles beneath. She left her fingers glide over the scales, in both directions. She couldn’t feel a texture difference around the edges of the scales. They blended perfectly.
“My name is De. . . My name is Ginkal, though my co-workers often call me Kal.”
“Kal. I like that. It’s very nice to meet you, Kal,” Sara said, wondering how he’d managed to get past her defenses so easily. Her fingers glided higher to his biceps. “Your skin and scales feel the same.”
“There are the same, simply in different stages of rest.”
“Thank you for allowing me to touch your scales, Kal.”
He held out his hands, palms up. “May I show you something, Sara?” He wanted her to place her hands in his, to let him hold her.
Touching meant nothing, she reminded herself, just before she recalled the fact that he was an alien. Aliens couldn’t be trusted. Not really. The banth, grud, and og’dals she’d seen here on Earth had done nothing but steal and destroy in the name of the Coalition.
But Ginkal lived here, in a house in the middle of suburbia, and he seemed really nice, decent. He’d helped with her furniture even if he thought he was the reason those stupid-ass movers dumped her belongings. That was on them for being so prejudiced.
Like she’d been.
Sara let out a breath. She’d been judging Ginkal unfairly. She looked down at his hands again. Open and welcoming.
He certainly had the size and power to drag her anywhere he wanted, if that were his intent. But it wasn’t. She could see it in his eyes. Beautiful silver eyes that held nothing but kindness.
“You want to take me somewhere?” she asked, more curious than worried.
“Place the tips of your fingers against mine, palms facing downward.”
Trust me. Those were the words he hadn’t spoken, but she’d felt the request as if he had. For some crazy reason she couldn’t explain, she trusted him. At least enough to do as he asked.
The moment her fingertips touched his, a warmth spread through her. More than the physical sensation of heat she’d felt when touching his scales.
The energy spreading through her gave her that same cozy feeling she got when snuggling up in a warm blanket on her sofa on a cold winter night. Standing there, lightly touching Ginkal’s hands, felt like all her troubles were falling away and everything was right with the world.
Then a glow caught her attention. Silver light surrounded his hands. His hands were glowing.
He eased his hands away.
“What was that?” she asked.
Ginkal’s eyes grew wide, and he stepped back from her. “How we greet a new friend on Tekkla. When two beings touch, their souls meet. A brief connection, long enough that friends recognize friends.”
Friends. The word felt right. She’d never felt so at ease with anyone so quickly. But the butterflies in her stomach hinted at another feeling. One she hadn’t had in a long time. She liked him.
Sara tucked her loose hair behind her ear to cover her nervousness. She hadn’t been with a guy in a long time. That had to be the only thing going on here. A need for sexual release. Her body had to be responding to pheromones or something like that.
Whatever it was, she had to rein it in. Ginkal was an alien. A sweet, very handsome alien, but still an alien. She’d made a new friend tonight. Nothing more. . .