“Take her. Now! She will be punished severely.” The commanding voice was husky, laced with the kind of sensuality that would leave any woman panting with desire—human or otherwise.
I wasn’t one of them.
“Yes, Captain.” The second voice was just as dark, a sneer remaining on his face as he looked me directly in the eyes.
The five creatures standing in front of a wayward group of humans were massive in size, their violet-hued muscular bodies and piercing tangerine eyes demanding surrender. They were spectacular in every manner, their bodies chiseled from fine marble, skin glistening in the late morning sun as if flecked with sprinkles of gold. Their leader was regal, standing at well over six and a half feet tall, his long dark hair accentuating his voluptuous lips. Even the deep baritone of his husky and sensuous voice could be considered paralyzing for several reasons.
They were from the Cenzan race, a species that had touted their friendship from the second they’d appeared, but I’d never been stupid enough to buy their crap.
They’d arrived on Earth almost two years before with little fanfare, crowding our airspace and attempting to become our friends. I’d seen their arrival, my face glued to the telescans like so many others in the surviving countries. There’d been so much trepidation then eagerness, like puppies longing for a new master. So many humans had bought their bullshit, falling for their handsome, rugged features and seductive manners.
The bastards who’d killed my father.
I took a decided step backward, defying the leader’s command, sneering at him in my usual defiant manner. “Stay away from me, you beasts. Fuck you!”
“You will not talk to the captain that way or you will be killed!” The Cenzan’s angry voice was more like a snarl.
Captain, huh? Who the hell cared?
“Be quiet, Lexi.”
“Don’t anger them.”
I rolled my eyes hearing the various whispers—human whispers.
The other members of my hidden city stood huddled in fear, their breathing scattered as they attempted not to draw any attention to themselves. I’d done that for all of us. They’d hunted us like wild animals, breaking through our defense systems easily.
The great captain took a giant stride forward, his penetrating eyes concentrating on only me. I refused to blink.
I’d learned to hate the alien creatures. In my mind they were ruthless barbarians who had no care or understanding of human life. We were nothing to them but flesh and bone, men forced to work like imprisoned dogs, providing them nourishment. Sadly, the fate of fertile female humans was much worse. What little news traveled the airwaves told of horrific deeds, women abducted against their will. I’d followed the news since their arrival, making note of everything I’d heard. So much was confirmed by my father, a true hater of their kind. Then he was gone, taken from my mother and me in a flash.
The Cenzans believed they could rule our kind, stripping away what was left of our humanity. That would never happen as long as I was alive.
I was a fighter, a highly acclaimed astrophysicist, as well as a daughter of two highly trained scientists. I was also considered important to the lives of those living in Virginia City. Perhaps I’d turned into a dreamer, longing for what I’d been taught as a child, a kinder, gentler Earth.
That was no more.
The Cenzans were preparing to take over.
An earlier war had destroyed much of our lands, killing millions of people. We’d fought for our basic survival, only to be conquered by the most savage creatures in the entire solar system. My skin crawled just thinking about them. And here they were, attempting to punish me for protecting my people.
The leader gazed up and down the length of my trembling body, the look raw and visceral.
I was shaken, much more so than I wanted to let on and lifted my weapon. “Stay away from all of us or I will kill you.”
The leader took two giant strides, slapping away the weapon with ease, his hand snapping around my arm as he scanned the crowd. “This is what happens to those who do not obey us.”
As I struggled to get out of his powerful hold, he unfastened his belt, yanking the leather strap from the loops. I was stunned, unable to get away, fear crowding out any concept of breathing. “Let me go!” I finally screeched, longing for anyone in the city to stop him.
But they didn’t.
There was no way of knowing just how many monsters there were surrounding us and what they intended on doing. The boom only minutes before had been earthshattering, followed by flashes of searing white light, eradicating much of our specialized scientific equipment. Chaos had ensued, members of the city racing for cover. I’d had seconds to grab my gun, racing toward the entrance, the first to encounter the Cenzans entering our secured space.
“Get off me, you bastards!”
Issuing a series of guttural and very dark sounds, the leader wasted no time in doling out punishment, ignoring my defiance.
As the leather strap came down against my backside, I sucked in my breath, refusing to give the monster the satisfaction of hearing me cry. I was mortified, rage encompassing every inch of me. How in the hell had they broken through our cloaking device? Our heat sensors were blocked off, cooled to the point only a few instruments of any kind would be able to detect our presence.
He brought the strap down again. And again. The strikes were hard, the force jerking my body forward. The pain didn’t register at first but when it did, awakening every nerve ending, tears formed in my eyes. The moment was shocking, driving me to a heightened level of absolute shame. How could any creature do this for simply questioning what the hell they were doing?
I heard certain whimpers and moans from my people, encased with fear and even denial. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We were free, free from tyranny and war, free to live our lives the way we chose. That had been the promise.
Maybe the nightmare.
As the whipping continued, I kicked out, managing to catch the massive beast on his shin. He didn’t react other than to smack my bottom again, savagely. The whooshing sound would forever remain in my ears, the anguish now blinding. I was in a state of disbelief, all my anger rolling to the surface. I would kill this asshole with my bare hands.
Even more shocking, there was something else even more humiliating.
I was wet, my pussy clenching with every brutal strike. Panting, my nipples scraped against my tee shirt, allowing the most intense arousal I’d ever experienced. I was lightheaded, breathless, and forbidding my pussy muscles to clench.
But they failed me.
I could feel a climax trickling up from my toes.
What the hell was wrong with me?
The spanking was brutal, telling of the kind of beasts they truly were. My bottom was on fire, every hard crack sending shards of electricity dancing across my eyes. And I remained wet, pussy juice soaking my panties. I prayed to God no one was able to gather the feral scent, but I knew otherwise. I caught a glimpse of the leader’s groin, the thick bulge straining against his pants.
As quickly as the round of discipline had begun, the horrible experience ended, leaving me aching and sore, wet and hot. I could hear his heavy breathing as he pushed me back, his eyes never blinking.
I did everything I could to give him a nasty look even as my mother approached. I threw out my hand, stopping her for advancing. “Don’t. I will handle this!” I would manage this on my own, taking the helm. We locked eyes, the alien and I and I could tell he was more than satisfied from his actions.
He remained excited.
The others swung their weapons in a full circle, daring any of our few citizens capable of challenging them to do so.
“What is your name?” the leader demanded as he slid his belt back into place. His eyes seemed to penetrate to my very soul, perhaps searching for answers as to who we were and exactly what we were doing.
The bastards would never find out.
“What is yours?” I retorted, giving him a lurid smile.
Two of them said something in their language, no doubt scoffing at me. I could tell the creatures were unsure of what to do with a disobedient human.
“Careful, my daughter,” my mother said in the most gentle manner, her eyes never leaving the monsters. “They do not want to hurt us any more than necessary.”
I didn’t acknowledge her, even though she claimed to be an expert of their culture. Her words seemed blasphemous given what had just occurred. There was no anger in her voice, only curiosity. I’d heard far too many stories about them, her rendition more endearing than my father’s. I’d never understood her obvious attraction to them.
They were gorgeous, their rippling muscles and carved legs like Gods, chiseled statues meant to be worshiped. Swallowing the nasty bile that had formed in my throat, I tossed away any concept of their enticement, no doubt a ploy in order to get us to trust them.
Blinking, the leader huffed something in his native language, the alien flanking his side nodding in agreement. They were plotting what they were going to do to me.
The leaders of the United States continually issued propaganda, leading Americans to believe Cenzans were our friends. What bullshit. The people hiding in our self-contained compound had believed they were safe, protected by a cloaking device covering our entire city.
They’d been wrong, these monsters breaking through the barrier with a single blast, eradicating what little protection we had.
We would soon be annihilated and there was nothing that our soldiers or esteemed doctors and scientists could do about it. Because of what I’d done, we would be captured and imprisoned, the women of our compound taken away and every fertile female mated.
The alien twisted his neck as he raked his eyes down the length of me, his nostrils flaring from a combination of hunger as well as rage. It was obvious he was used to obedience.
Not from this girl. No fucking way. I sneered back, my hands clenched into fists.
“Beasts,” he repeated, half under his breath as he stopped two of his soldiers from progressing. The sound was like smooth velvet sliding across my naked and fully erect nipples then brushing between my legs, teasing my swollen clit. My body betrayed me, creating tingles dancing along my arms. This wasn’t going to happen. They were our enemy in every manner. He took several steps backward, snarling under his breath.
“You’re nothing but monsters!” I snapped, keeping my tone steady.
“Lexi. Don’t!” My mother’s hand gripped my arm, trying to keep me in line.
“This is none of your concern,” another Cenzan stated. “Please return to your quarters. There is only issue with this human female at this time.”
His words brought horrified gasps from the city dwellers, even as they stepped back, ready to flee.
“What’s going to happen to them?” I demanded.
The Cenzan’s eyes never left mine as he approached, only three long strides bringing him to within inches of me. “I am Captain Khrelan Jajenar of the Federation of Cenzans. You are coming with me, Lexi Carmine, where you will face punishment for the crimes committed against our people. You have no choice. If you come without incident, I assure you that your discipline will be less severe in nature. As far as your people, we did not come here to harm them. They are free to continue their lives.”
The fucker knew my full name. Instantly, red flags raised. There was more going on than attacking their sentry soldiers. “But you destroyed our cloaking device,” I managed before anyone else in the group challenged them.
Captain Jajenar inhaled as he lowered his head, a slight growl pushing past his lips. “Your people will be under our protection and unharmed as long as you obey my every command, no matter what is demanded of you.”
He inched so close that I could almost taste his luscious lips, the color like the ripest grapes. I licked my lips, inhaling his scent and almost instantly I was intoxicated. My legs quivered, and I fought to drag myself out of the allure.
“I can’t do that,” I whispered hoarsely.
“You can and you will.”
Now, the bastard was striking a deal? I stared into his eyes, able to sense exactly what he was thinking. For a few precious seconds, I was drawn into his world, seeing everything through as if I was experiencing it. The connection was strong, vibrant, and terrifying.
My dreams over the last few months had been vivid, allowing me to see into the future. I’d always had such a gift, or what I would call a curse. At least my premonitions had allowed me to help protect my new family. But in heart, I’d known that was to be short-lived.
I’d been right.
They’d found our beautiful location, a place I called home and there was nothing we could do to stop them from destroying everything we’d worked so hard to achieve. Everything my father warned had been true.
I would be taken, forced to mate and never to return home again.
What they didn’t know is that I would die by my own hand before allowing that to happen.
Three hours before…
I held out my arm as I slowed my horse, now walking the mare into the dense forest. I had my hand firmly planted around the thick leather reins, my heart racing. I’d easily been able to track the Cenzan soldiers’ advance, and even though they were a solid ten miles from our city, they were certainly headed in our direction. I held my breath, waiting to advance until the others were directly behind me. The three men were experts in weaponry, considered the finest marksmen of our group. We would have one shot at derailing the Cenzans’ threat.
The Cenzan soldiers were cunning, able to hide in plain sight, but I’d found them, easily detecting the heat sensors from their approaching ship. They were either hunting for us in particular or had stumbled on our facility. Either way, they weren’t going to survive if I had anything to do with their fate. Sadly, we were forbidden to kill them for fear of starting a war.
As if I gave a shit.
I studied the perimeter, making certain I kept my eyes on everything that I could see. As the men fell in behind me, I grabbed my binoculars, searching the surrounding mass of trees. I caught just a glimpse, but it was enough. A single crack of timber gave them away. There were only two, not surprising. They truly had no idea that our extensive compound existed.
If they did, they would have brought more soldiers with them. I had to make a calculated decision on what to do. I was more of a leader than the majority in our facility, although diplomacy wasn’t in my nature.
I’d vowed to protect our city at all costs, including relinquishing my own life if necessary. I motioned to the others to move in the formation we’d discussed, surrounding the soldiers easily. While the leader of our camp wouldn’t approve of either capturing or killing them, I would do what was necessary. If they headed off in the opposite direction, the freaks could live. If not? They would die. Well versed in the Cenzan military activities, I knew they were resting, garnering their strength for the remainder of their hike through the forest. This was as close as they’d been in the almost two years since joining the group in the protected city. My mission was clear.
No one could find us, either human or alien. Our work was far too important. Easing off the horse, I patted her hindquarters, whispering in her ear. The beauty would stay put. Crouching down, I took cautious steps, moving deeper into the brush, sliding the weapon into my hands. Capturing a Cenzan was unheard of. Killing them almost impossible.
But I was a crack shot, trained in all methods of weaponry by my father.
I moved around several large trees, realizing they were momentarily stopped near a fresh water stream. Creatures of habit, their bodies required as much hydration as those of humans. They were far too predictable. Smiling, I continued on my path until I heard a noise, a few words spoken in their language. They were only one hundred yards in front of me. Slinking to the ground, I crawled forward until I was able to catch a glimpse of them. They obviously had no idea they were surrounded.
Closing one eye and aiming my weapon, I readied myself for whatever actions might transpire. They were hunkered over what appeared to be a handheld information unit, no doubt checking details on their prey. If only I could see what they were looking at. After a few seconds, my curiosity got the better of me and I made a single mistake, my knee crushing down on a dry twig. The cracking sound was nothing more than a blip, but the Cenzans’ keen hearing picked up on the sound instantly.
Both aliens rose to their feet, taking a soldier’s stance, locked and loaded. Fuck. There was no way I could back out of the area without being seen. The taller of the aliens scanned the area, his luminescent eyes settling in my direction. He couldn’t see me. I was camouflaged by the foliage.
Then he smiled.
For a few seconds our eyes locked, tingling sensations rocketing through every cell in my body. This alien being had somehow connected with me, his mind-reading abilities latching onto my thoughts with ease. I felt a strange tug, the warmth cascading through every vein sizzling within seconds. I was drawn to him, but not because of any level of attraction. I simply wanted a clean shot.
There was nothing left to do but take immediate offense. I jerked to my feet, racing through the trees, ready to shoot.
Then all hell broke loose, the sounds of gunfire and laser bolts peppering the humid air. A deep rumble occurred in my stomach, air pushing up until a roar pulsed from my mouth a split second before I managed to get a shot off.
The Cenzan was hit. There was no doubt, but it wasn’t a killing blow by any means, as if there was a way to kill them. Many people had tried and failed. I felt the creature’s anger, boiling from deep within, his eyes finding me once again. When the other alien lifted his weapon, I threw myself onto the ground and rolled, coming up seconds later and locking eyes once again with the first creature. The bastard was laughing at me, but he gave a single nod before both disappeared, vanishing into thin air. I could swear he was offering a sign of respect. Well, fuck you, buddy boy. Take that, alien dirt bag.
“Goddamn it!” I jumped over several fallen limbs, running forward until I was standing in the exact same spot.
“What the hell happened?”
I shot Martino a harsh look as I tried to calm my breathing, turning in a full circle. “What does it look like? They got away.”
“That means they know our position,” Martino snapped, raking his hand through his hair.
“Not exactly,” I countered, even though my nerves remained on edge. They would come back with vengeance in mind.
“Damn it, Lexi. You were careless. I told you to be careful!”
“Shut up, Martino. Just shut up.” As the other two men cleared the trees, I was forced to face the fact I just might have sealed our fate. Guilt almost smothered me as we headed back to the city.
“Lock down the gates!” Marino instructed, yelling to the guards who stood watch on three towers.
I cringed hearing the slight buzzing noise as the cloaking mechanism was set into motion. The ingenious system kept us invisible, including from invading alien eyes. I rode past him and into the corral, jumping off and immediately handing the reins to a stable hand. I knew what was coming next. I strode away, heading for home and my telescope. While the Cenzans certainly had their own cloaking abilities, I’d figured out methods around it, enabling me to catch a glimpse of their ships. Several were merely orbiting the outskirts of Earth, as they’d done for months. Anything different would mean their plans had escalated.
Marino didn’t waste any time before yanking me by the arm, his grip firm. “What in the hell is going on with you?”
“Get off me!” I jerked but was unable to get out of his hold.
“You’re becoming an issue.”
“Fuck you! Without me, you would never have known Cenzan soldiers were in close proximity.” Our voices were loud enough to draw a crowd, some eager to see a fight occur. There was little in the way of entertainment in our compound.
“I should have you arrested,” Marino continued. “You just signed our death warrant.”
“Enough!” The man’s booming rose over our voices, his boots thudding on the ground as he stormed closer. Colin Frame was the founder and caretaker of our little city, his genius providing the cloaking abilities, along with electricity as well as continued technology. We all owed him our lives.
Marino let me go, albeit reluctantly, his eyes flashing the kind of anger that wouldn’t be abated in the near future.
“Care to explain what is going on?” Colin asked, darting a glance back and forth.
“Let’s just say she managed to shoot a Cenzan,” Marino said, laughing bitterly. “But he and his companion escaped. They will be back.”
I heard the few gasps coming from the crowd; full contact had never happened before.
“Is this true?” Colin lowered his voice, finally looking me directly in the eyes.
“Yes, sir. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a killing blow. If only I could find a way to kill the bastards.” My answer was frank, full of defiance.
“Well, thank God for that or the entire Cenzan army would stop at nothing to find us.” Colin shook his head. “Have I taught you nothing? The Cenzans are only one of our enemies, but they are true warriors and my educated guess is that the alien you injured will hunt you down. They believe in stern punishment for any infractions. They are brutal killing machines, vying to take over the Earth. They will stop at nothing to get what they want. There are very few compounds of this nature where true freedom lives. You’ve endangered that for all of us.”
I shuddered, although I kept my emotions to myself even as guilt riddled me. I’d cut off a Cenzan soldier’s hand before he punished me. I knew their tactics, had heard enough stories to bolster my hatred of them.
They actually spanked women. I vomited a little in my mouth just thinking about it. Who the hell did they think they were? “And I have no issue blowing their heads off,” I retorted.
“Don’t fill her head full of nonsense, Colin. The Cenzans are peaceful people unless provoked.” My mother shook her head, exhaling as she approached. “And all that’s going to do, Lexi, is get our entire city flagged as being difficult. They will take everything from us, but only in retaliation if you continue your actions. You don’t want to vex them.”
Maybe I had no problem vexing them. My mother stood with her arms folded, a single eyebrow raised. We disagreed on the reason for the Cenzans’ arrival. She believed they’d come in peace and that we could learn much from each other. Her toleration of their kind was very much like the woman I’d grown up with, but I couldn’t stomach her good will. Not after what had happened to my father while he was leading us to Virginia City.
The trip had been fraught with danger, but the single shot had come from a Cenzan weapon, killing him instantly. My heart ached every day and I’d never forget the look in his eyes when I found him on the ground.
Colin gave her an offhanded smile. “Leigh, you and I both know we’re under this cloak for a reason.”
My mother wrinkled her nose, inching closer. “We are under this cloak because you don’t want our government officials to find out about our existence because of the work we’re performing. I know when you started this facility, Colin. You can’t lie to me.”
Colin broke out in a full grin. “I can never put one over on you, sweet lady; however, that doesn’t change the fact that we are safe here from the Cenzans’ tyranny at the moment. None of us are believers in what they’ve fed the government. Those pansy asses will end up getting themselves killed or imprisoned. At least as long as we don’t actively pick a fight then I think we’re safe here for many years to come.”
Until they take over the world. I couldn’t help but think of the obvious.
“I’m sorry, okay? I wasn’t trying to pick a fight.” I muttered the words before walking directly in the middle of the crowd. If Marino wanted to continue taunting me, he would need to do so from the comfort of my home. Besides, I wanted to check the telescope. Given the cloak hid our thermal footprint, the Cenzans would have no way of knowing that I wasn’t simply a rogue human, scouring the forests for food and a place to call home.
I slammed the door behind me, moving quickly to my telescope, the only prized possession that I considered all mine. The lens was one of the most powerful in all of the United States, allowing me to see things that others never had the opportunity of witnessing. As I focused the lens, pointing it toward the sky, my entire body was shaking. I shifted it from right to left, holding my breath. Every ship I’d seen before was accounted for and hadn’t moved, far enough away they were of no immediate concern. After taking a sweep closer to our location, I was beginning to think I was overwrought for no reason. There was nothing but stars and the moon and…
Until I found their ship.
“Oh. My. God.”
And I knew that everything was about to change.