Read an Excerpt
Alien Attachments Book 1
By Sabine Priestley
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Sabine Priestley
All rights reserved.
A dark-skinned male and a tall blond female danced around each other, bamboo sticks at the ready, waiting for an opening. Sitting on the warm iron bleachers above, Ian Cavacent leaned forward in anticipation. The old warehouse on Cat Island doubled as many things. Tonight, it hosted the weekly mixed fight competition. The popular event drew crowds from as far away as Nassau. Humans jostled for a seat or stood in groups around the improvised, oversized boxing ring. The target of his interest was the blond woman. He'd come to watch her for the past few weeks. A friend of his human support agent, Jared, she fascinated him. He had a rule to avoid women on the island, but there was something about this one. She intrigued him. And not for the usual reasons, either. Yes, she was pretty, beautiful even, but there was more to it than that.
Jared slid into the seat next to him and handed him a beer. "Dani said you were stalking her."
"I don't stalk." Ian took the plastic cup. "Besides, I wasn't aware she knew I was here."
"Yeah, she told me that too."
Ian took a long pull on the beer. "There's just something odd about her. Maybe it's the way she moves. Her motions aren't practiced, she's constantly off balance, and yet she pulls in win after win. If I didn't know better, I'd say the fights were rigged."
The crowd quieted, and tension rose as the timer ticked down to zero.
Below, the two continued their dance, circling each other. The man lunged and Dani twirled with an awkward step, but still managed to dodge the swing of the bamboo. Sweat dripped into the cleavage of her sports bra and down the small of her back, leaving a dark stain in the fabric. She parried left and right. As usual, her maneuvers were halting and lacked grace.
Ian winced when Jared erupted in one of his booming sneezes. Dani shot an annoyed glance their way. Big mistake. In that fraction of a second, her opponent swung his bamboo. The jagged tip grazed the skin below her left eye before slamming into her wrist. The impact pushed her over the edge. She ducked, nearly fell over, spun around and in a surprisingly fluid movement, sent her opponent's stick flying. The crowd erupted with cheers and jeers for both sides. Money changed hands and the tension evaporated. The two opponents approached each other. Cradling her wrist, Dani declined a handshake. They shared some good-natured words before they left the floor.
Ian's powerful psi allowed him to see a purple mist radiating from her injuries. "That's going to hurt," Ian said.
"Dammit," Jared mumbled, grabbing one of his ever-present tissues. "Can you tell how bad it is?"
"Well"— Ian swallowed the dregs of his beer —"she may have won, but she's going to be out of commission for awhile. She's not going to be happy with you."
"Yep." Jared wiped his nose. "I best go down and apologize. Come with me? She knows you've been watching. Be kind of weird at this point not to say hello."
A wave of anticipation washed over him. Aside from his three support agents, he limited his involvement with humans to the occasional short-lived affair off the island. Yet his reaction to spending time with this woman surprised him.
"You know I prefer to keep my involvement with humans away from here." Still, he was tempted. On the verge of changing his mind, he sensed a pending communication. "Hold on, incoming message from Marco." Marco was the Earth Protector, or EP, currently on duty. He waited a beat for it to arrive.
We got company, boss. His com relayed the message.
"Apologies are going to have to wait. Someone's paying Earth a visit." Ian said.
Jared followed him out the back door.
* * *
Dani wiped the sweat from her brow and followed Dugo out of the fight area. Bazillionaire Ian Cavacent and her friend Jared were leaving out the back. Ian always kept to himself, and as far as she knew, never fraternized with the locals except Jared. His recent interest in her sparked an explosion of fantasies. Even better, he seemed the type who would be okay with a "nothing complicated" scenario. And he was hot. Seriously hot, hence the fantasies. She'd love to get him in front of her camera ... and a few other places. Those wavy blond locks and smoky green eyes. Yum. Why haven't you contacted me, Mr. Cavacent?
Dugo interrupted her musings. "Someone needs to tell Jared to take his allergy meds." He nodded toward her arm. "You okay?"
"I'll be fine." She gave him a good-natured nudge with her other elbow. "You almost got me there."
He took a hand towel off the supplies table and handed it to her. "You're bleeding."
The medic came over and applied antibiotic ointment and a butterfly bandage to her cheek. "You should have that looked at."
"I will," Dani said.
Dugo tossed the towel in the laundry bin. "Glad I missed your eye. Seriously, man. I didn't see you comin'."
"And that's the way it's done," Dani said with all the swagger she could muster. Which was a lot, even with the pain radiating from her wrist.
Dugo laughed. "So what do you say? Have a drink with me?"
"Hey," he said, shrugging. "I never see you with no one here. You fly around the world and take your pictures, but this is home. Why you not date anyone?"
"Who says I don't?" Dani could tell by his stance he wasn't buying it. Didn't matter, he didn't have to. It was her business. "Gotta go. Catch ya next time."CHAPTER 2
The following day, after a swim along the beach, Ian sat on a barstool across from Jared. Two additional members of his EP team sat on either side of him. They were like night and day. Armond Nolde, white-haired albino, and Marco Dar, dark and swarthy.
"That was no accident last night, boss," Marco said.
"I know." Ian motioned for Jared to pour them some drinks.
After leaving Dani's match, they'd ported off world to the base where their fighters were kept. Humans had no idea their little planet was the focus of increasingly frequent alien attention. It was the EP's job to keep it that way. Last night Torogs attempted to land. During their interception, a team hired by Councilman Gordat Prayda fired on Ian's ship. The Torogs fled, and Prayda's goons claimed mechanical failure of their equipment.
Mechanical failure, like hell. Politics on Sandaria had become increasingly perilous.
Jared poured beers for the three Sandarians and wiped down the already-clean counter.
"Aside from the obvious," the albino Armond said, reaching back to tighten his ubiquitous pony tail, "I find it disturbing Councilman Prayda appears to believe the accidental death of Lord Cavacent's heir and only child would go unpunished."
Armond had a point. "I talked with my father after the incursion last night. He agrees the increase in Torog activity is concerning, but thinks we should stay quiet about the attack on me. The fewer waves we make right now, the better. Let's just try and avoid any further contact with Councilman Prayda's pets."
Marco rapidly tapped his beer glass. "If you'd just let me blast that crag last night —"
"The emperor's guards would be all over us," Armond finished.
Ian sensed Marco's rising anger at Armond. The two rarely saw eye to eye. "At ease." Ian slid Marco's beer away from his tapping finger. He used his psi to calm the man. I've told you before to stop letting him get under your skin.
Marco's psi wasn't strong enough to broadcast his thoughts but the release of tension in his shoulders as he took a long pull on his beer was enough for Ian.
Jared, who'd been listening to the exchange, leaned against the bar. "Trouble in paradise?"
Ian ignored the reaction and addressed Jared. "Let's just say the empire is a little unstable right now." The concern on Jared's face was clear. "Don't worry too much. Earth shouldn't be involved. Aside from you and the Papallos, Earth can remain blissfully ignorant of the existence of aliens."
Closer to his father's age, Jared bore the appearance of a scruffy old sea captain. He'd worked with his father before Ian took over.
"Where's the new kid?" Jared asked, pouring some mixed nuts into a bowl.
Grinning, Marco grabbed a handful of nuts and shook his head.
"She's getting settled," Ian said. "Has some more unpacking to do. You'll meet her later."
"Marco here said she's height-challenged," Jared said.
Marco held his hand out below shoulder height. It wasn't much, given that he was sitting. "She's a little spitfire."
"Five-foot-four," Ian said.
"With her boots on," Armond added.
Jared raised a bushy eyebrow.
"Just wait till you catch her in action," Ian said. "Unbelievably fast and knows how to use her size to her advantage. Oh, and she's got blazing red hair."
"I have got to see this." Jared blew his nose and shook his head. "You three over six-foot, and Little Red Riding Hood."
Ian laughed. "An odd picture all right. It works, though. She nailed the trial and has total psi-control over her ship. Never once went to manual."
"So, what do you think the Torogs were coming for?" Jared asked.
"The usual," Ian said. "Hunting humans or going after carnium."
Jared stacked more glasses behind the bar. "That's the stuff you use to go all faster than light, right?"
Ian found Jared's vernacular to be a continuing source of entertainment. "Been taking notes?"
"I work for aliens. I'm always taking notes." Jared leaned back against the bar and crossed his arms. "Third time this week Torogs have hit our radar. What's going on?"
"I wish we knew," Ian said.
Jared remained silent for a moment. "You know, boss. I don't like the idea of Earth not having you guys around. Don't go gettin' yourself killed."
"I don't plan to. My father thinks the emperor doesn't have long. The problem is, no one knows who or what will take his place. Until we know that, we just have to ride it out." Ian's psi registered the approaching vehicle before he heard the crunch of tires on the crushed-shell gravel outside. Desire pulsed through him. "Well, well. Looks like we've got company. Sounds like Ms. Standich herself." Ian took a beat to enjoy the sensations she induced.
"She the one you're stalking?" Marco said.
Ian scowled at him. "I'm not stalking her."
"Whatever you say, boss." Marco pointed a finger at Jared. "He said it."
Jared plucked a nut out of the dish and flicked it at Marco.
The nut stopped in mid air, a few inches from Marco's face and spun around for a moment. Marco flicked his finger. The nut shot through the air and bounced off Jared's head, causing him to burst out laughing.
A moment later, the massive wood plank that made up the front entrance creaked open grudgingly. Sand scraped against the floor. The sliding doors at the back of the bar stood wide open, and the cross breeze pulled at Dani's blond hair as she struggled with the weight.
"When," she said, clutching a white hat and beach bag, "are you going to fix this thing?" She held her right wrist close to her chest. Slipping through the opening, she turned to use her rear to push the beast closed. She gave a mighty shove with her ass. The door gave more than expected and she let out a short squeak as she tried to regain her balance.
Graceful as always, Ian thought.
"Thanks for your help last night, by the way." Dani glared at Jared.
Ian stifled a laugh.
Waves of purple radiated from her arm and the left side of her face. She wore large, dark sunglasses that hid the injury to her eye, but her wrist was visibly bruised and swollen.
Jared rushed around the bar and gave the door a shove. "What can I say? My allergies never stop. You gotta learn not to be distracted."
"Hold it in next time."
"Sure, kid." Jared kicked at the bottom of the door, which finally clicked shut.
Ian was surprised by the obvious closeness of the relationship, but then he never stuck around when locals came into the bar. Until now.
"So?" Dani said, placing her bag and hat on a bar stool not far from Ian and his EPs. "When are you going to fix that thing?"
"Fix it? Why? Keeps the tourists down to a minimum."
"You own a bar on the beach. Aren't you supposed to want tourists?"
Jared shrugged. "I'm good with the ones I get from the hotel" — he indicated a path leading up a slight hill — "and the few wanderers."
Dani gazed at the beach beyond the small patio and sighed. "You do have a slice of heaven here."
Jared poured some nuts into a bowl and slid them across to her. "I don't think you've formally met my friends here." He indicated the team. "This is Armond, Marco and 'course you know about Ian. Guys, this here is Dani."
They exchanged greetings and Dani focused on Ian. "Been enjoying my fights, Mr. Cavacent?" She smiled with her striking blue eyes.
Jared coughed loudly.
Ian was sure the word "stalker" was buried in the cough somewhere. He decided to ease up on his usual role of arrogant millionaire. He needed to find out why she captivated him so. "Call me Ian, and yes, I have been enjoying your fights. You have an unusual technique."
Dani scoffed. "Lack thereof, you mean." She removed her sunglasses and revealed a nasty gash below her left eye. Dark bruises surrounded the puffy wound.
"Ouch." Jared leaned in for a closer inspection. "At least you won."
Dani set the glasses down. "Yeah, well it's going to be awhile before I can compete again. I figure you owe me some drinks in the meantime."
"Suppose that's only fair."
Fascinating purple swirls worked their way up to her shoulder and out from her cheek. The color was deep and rich, meaning she was in a great deal of pain. That, or she had an unusually high tolerance for it.
Dani dug around her bag with her left hand and pulled out an insulated Tervis cup. "Rum and coke, please." She slid the cup over to Jared.
"Want some ice for that wrist? And maybe your face?" he asked.
Jared set her drink down while she gathered up her bag and put her sunglasses back on.
"Why thank you kindly, sir," she said with an exaggerated southern accent. "I always rely upon the kindness of strangers."
Jared bowed. "Anything for you, Miss Scarlett."
"Boys." She gave a nod and headed for the path leading to the hotel pool.
Ian waited until she was out of earshot. "She moves like a cat."
The men watched as she tripped and sloshed her drink onto the path.
"A clumsy cat," Marco said, finishing his beer. "That's it for me. I can't take this humidity. I'll check in with you later, boss." He stood. "Thanks, Jared."
"I too, have had enough of this damp climate of yours." Armond said, getting to his feet. "I'll report in this evening." He followed Marco out.
Jared sneezed. "That's why you selected this place, isn't it?" Ian didn't answer, just grinned. "How long have you known her?" He indicated the direction Dani had taken.
"Years," Jared said around his tissue. "Her aunt took her in when her parents died in a plane crash. She was only fifteen or sixteen at the time. I used to let her sweep up around the bar in exchange for sodas. Got the feeling she needed the company. Anyway, auntie spends most of her time in New York these days. Dani keeps the house going when she's not off freelancing for Vogue or some other slick rag."
"Photographer. She's good too, if you like that sort of thing." Jared wiped his nose again. "Personally, I prefer landscapes and animals to pretty humans." Jared popped a few peanuts into his mouth. "She's in pain."
"That woman, my friend, is in a world of hurt," Ian agreed.
"Think maybe you could help her out?"
Ian finished off his beer. "You know how I am about getting involved with locals."
"She's good people, boss. Besides you don't have to get involved." Jared made quotes with his fingers around the last words. "I've never seen her with anyone. Losing your folks at such a young age, I suppose it can mess you up. Just tell her you know some techniques to help with the pain."
Ian cast another look at the retreating woman. "Why are you so concerned? Is there something I should know about you two?"
Jared harrumphed and crossed his arms. "I'm old enough to be her dad."
"I'll admit, I have a soft spot for her, but it's more like a daughter. Like I said, she's good people."
Ian couldn't deny his attraction to her, and he was curious to see if he could figure out why he found her so appealing. Probably those blue eyes. I'll talk to her for a while. She'll have nothing to say, and I'll get her out of my system. "Fine. But just enough to ease her pain. I can't do more, obviously."
"Obviously. Thanks, boss. Hey, when you get back, I'll buy you a beer."
"That's real generous, considering I own the place."
Jared chuckled and ate another handful of peanuts.
Excerpted from Alien Attachments Book 1 by Sabine Priestley. Copyright © 2014 Sabine Priestley. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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