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His Fake Alien Fiancée
By Patricia Eimer, Robin Haseltine
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Patricia Eimer
All rights reserved.
Wednesday 8:00 a.m. T–4 days until landfall
"Oh Goddess! Oh Goddess! Right there! Yes! Yes! Yes!" The bang of a human body hitting the shared wall between her apartment and the one next to it reverberated, and Perri grimaced. She hadn't made it out of the house before the morning edition of the Human-Alien Sex Interaction Channel started on the other side of her wall.
Great. She was already running late, and now she had to listen to her sister making alien porn?
And besides that? She couldn't find her car keys. Perri dropped to her knees and peered under the bed in the tiny apartment she was supposed to be sharing with her sister. Or would be, if her sister didn't spend every night next door having sex with their landlord. Their human landlord.
Corri claimed he was something the humans called a boyfriend. She was pretty sure her sister called the landlord that because his given name — Mattias — sounded like something out of one of those romance novels her sister liked to read with the pirates on the cover.
"Oh sweet Goddess!" her sister yelled through the wall, and Perri closed her eyes.
This was so not how she wanted to start her day. It never was. For the past ninety-three days she had not wanted to start her day this way. Today was day ninety-four of mornings she'd eventually need therapy for.
Somehow when she'd dreamed of a life on Earth – this wasn't what she'd planned.
She'd expected glamour and well-oiled male slaves in nothing but loincloths to feed her grapes and fan her with palm fronds. That was what her sister — Corri — had claimed they could expect on Earth. Then Corri had stolen one of their father's spaceships, run away from Capriodicia, and abandoned Perri with Krul, the angry warlord that her sister had left at the altar.
An angry warlord who had shoved her into his ship and taken off for Earth to retrieve Corri — dead set on a revenge that involved her and her sister suffering all the way back to his home planet before he gave them the final mercy of killing and then eating them. And he'd made certain Perri knew that by the time he'd gotten them back to his home planet of Aldusia, Corri and Perri would both consider death a mercy.
But even inside that ship with Krul and his elite soldiers, listening to them talk about all the things they were going to do to her, she'd known her sister would find a way to get them free and then they'd stay on Earth and it would be perfect. A warm sun. Ocean waves. Fresh air that didn't have to be filtered to remove poisonous substances.
Their tutor had told them that Earth circa 1863 was a paradise unrivaled anywhere else in the universe. In any universe.
Apparently, to quote her only human friend, Brandt, their Capridocian tutor Garibaldis had been talking out his ass. About basically everything.
Even if Corri had landed on Earth in 1863 — which she'd missed by about 150 years — she wouldn't have found a glorious age for women. The shoes and the corsets and the really big skirts? Those weren't signs that women had life so easy they could lounge about in unpractical outfits while men catered to their every whim. Nope. They were just bad fashion choices that made day-to-day life uncomfortable.
It wouldn't have been so bad that Garibaldis had gotten Earth history wrong — she'd been reading up on it since landing here and most of it was pretty unbelievable anyway — it was that their tutor had gotten everything else wrong as well. Humans didn't download their offspring from their phones and load them into 3-D printers. The Ents were not a race of tree people that had become endangered due to global warming. Fairy tales weren't true, and sometimes, instead of a happily ever after, princesses ended up serving coffee in a diner in southern New Mexico without finding a handsome prince to love them forever.
And she wasn't going to even start on the fact that Garibaldis had cut all the sex scenes out of the movies he'd referred to as "Earth documentaries." That would have been useful information. Unlike the three months they'd spent learning about how the Clapper had helped George Washington echolocate the British to win the American Revolution.
Although right now, she'd gratefully take any sort of gadget that would help her find her damn keys.
She lifted the blanket on the side of the bed. Could the keys have somehow migrated there during the night? Maybe they were trying to breed or something and preferred darkness? It would explain why Brandt's key ring had so many keys, and he'd told her that he didn't even know what some of them went to.
Thwap! She heard what she guessed was probably Mattias's back hitting the wall, and the framed poster of Paris she had above the bed shook. Goddess help them, her sister was going to have to learn to be more careful with her lover. Humans were an extremely fragile species.
Pulling her head out from under the bed, she glared at the glowing red numbers on her alarm clock. If she left right this minute and drove really fast, she'd be on time — barely — and her boss, Flo, Martian, cranky, unable to make drinkable coffee, wouldn't have a reason to be pissed.
She'd promised Flo yesterday that she'd be on time today. Flo needed to go to the Alien Resettlement Office at Area 51, and Perri had promised she'd be on time so that the other woman and her companion — Bub — could leave early.
She owed Flo a lot; she and Corri both did. She'd given Corri a job when she'd first landed on Earth. Helped her and the human whose identity she'd stolen — Daria Porters — construct a cover story to explain why there were suddenly two identical waitresses in a tiny ranch town.
And ever since Perri had crash-landed here as an alien hostage? Flo had been one of her main support systems. She'd introduced her to Earth food — which was basically disgusting — and Earth television, and she'd even encouraged her to go out and make friends. She'd pushed Perri to make the effort to become friends with Brandt Turner, one of the few humans on Earth who knew not only that aliens existed but that she was one of them.
Most of all, Flo had been the person who had promised that things were going to be okay in those weak moments when Perri wasn't sure why she was here and was too ashamed to tell Corri that she felt lost. Sure, Flo would tell her, life on Earth wasn't exactly the fairy tale Corri had been feeding her since they were both small, but sometimes princesses were just fine waiting tables in Martian diners and staying the hell away from anyone who claimed to be a prince.
But if she was going to get there on time, and before her sister and Mattias —
"Oh! Oh! Yes!" Corri's voice rose to an almost ultrasonic yip, and the glass in their windows started to shake, and she grimaced. Too late.
The worst part? Mattias couldn't even hear her super-annoying orgasm screeches because they were out of human hearing range.
She hurried out of the room, clutching her hands to her ears to block out the noise. Once she reached the living room she dropped down on their faded blue couch. Something poked into her tail bone. Reaching behind her, she fished out a pair of car keys. How had they ended up down the back of the cushions?
She remembered very clearly what had happened the night before. She'd gotten off work at three thirty and instead of coming home to sit by herself — since Corri was working the dinner rush — she'd wandered down Main Street to see Brandt at his bar, because she didn't want to be alone. He was her only human friend who knew who and what she really was and wasn't constantly engaged in constant sexual intercourse with her sister. She'd hung out with him, drinking Diet Coke and playing pool until the bar closed at 3 a.m.
Just like she had almost every night for the last two months of her glamour-filled life here on Earth.
Or not, as the human kids liked to say.
Then again, it wasn't like it was Earth's fault that her life here revolved around serving food while wearing an ugly uniform and hanging out with Brandt at a bar watching humans drink strange liquids that made them dumb and giggly before they eventually forced their stomachs to engage the backflow valve.
Earth was great. Atomic Springs, New Mexico, was great. The people were friendly and welcoming. She had a job she actually enjoyed, even if it was sort of mindless. But there were only six people in the town who knew she was Princess Perripraxis Tremont Malatesta, daughter of the emperor of the Capridocian Empire, intergalactic heiress, and not Perri Porters — a person who hadn't even existed until six months ago. A constructed human. Black hair she'd purposely styled in a short bob to differentiate herself from Corri. Lavender eyes like her sister. A slightly smaller frame. A single freckle on the tip of her nose just because she liked the idea of freckles, but not how they looked on her human form.
The perfectly constructed human baby sister who showed up in town to get away from the same crazy family that her older sisters — Corri and the now-long-gone human Daria Porters — had run away from. And it wasn't really a stretch.
When Corri had crash-landed her space-ship into Daria Porters's car, the other woman had been fleeing her own brand of family craziness in the form of status-obsessed parents and a womanizing, abusive fiancé. Instead of being angry at Corri for temporarily borrowing her identity to hide from Krul, Daria had stuck around for a few weeks to help Corri get adjusted to life on Earth.
Sure, the other woman hadn't been running from a father who had contracted his daughters into an arranged marriage with an intergalactic warlord who liked to eat his enemies, but they weren't competing over whose parents sucked more. Although Perri was willing to bet she could put their father up against any other parent in the universe, and it was pretty good money everyone else would suddenly feel warm and fuzzy about their own families.
Once Perri arrived, Daria had agreed to take a job with the government teaching Earth history and acting as an Earth liaison for aliens resettling in New York City. Apparently, she was spending a lot of time in some place called Broadway and had taken up with a double-jointed Venuvian circus performer. She seemed happy enough.
That was when they'd started the story that Corri needed a roommate and Atomic Springs was nice and her poor baby sister Perri just didn't know what she wanted to do with her life. So she had "moved" to Atomic Springs while she reevaluated her nonexistent human life.
She gave the pendant that hid her image manipulator inside it a reassuring squeeze. A pretty necklace, identical to her sister's; they'd told the town they were gifts from their great-grandmother on their sweet sixteenth. A family tradition of sorts. Great-Grandma and her purple necklaces. Which was sort of true. If by great-grandmother you meant their father's head of security, and by necklace you meant a hidden cloaking device to conceal their scales and take on another form to disguise themselves in a crowd and better hide from potential assassins. Or blend in with humans on Earth — whichever was necessary really.
She froze. She and Corri didn't have cell phones. Who would they call, after all? They weren't exactly going out of their way here in Atomic Springs to make friends who would want to just call and chat. And everyone else they knew was off planet.
It was the communicator her sister had brought to Earth when she'd first escaped Capridocia.
Perri carefully picked the communicator up, her fingers trembling, and hit the transmit button. "Hello?" she whispered, hoping it was just a crossed connection somewhere in the galaxy. A Martian trying to order a pizza who had punched in the wrong planetary code perhaps?
The screen fizzled for a second, and a large head faded in, sharpening as the snow receded from the screen. "Father?"
Oh, this was not good. Very very not good. There was a reason she and Corri had left Capriodicia and weren't communicating with their home planet. And she was currently staring that reason directly in his fat, stupid, let's arrange for you to marry an intergalactic warlord and improve my standing in the galaxy face.
Her father cleared his throat and narrowed his piggy eyes at her.
"I meant to say, Your Majesty?" Perri said quickly, her voice squeaking. Why was it her father always managed to make her feel like she was a brand-new hatchling, caught out roaming the halls after her bedtime?
"Perripraxis. Where is your sister?"
"She's, um ..." Perri stared at the screen. She could not tell her father that Corri was in the process of having sexual intercourse with a human being. He would lose his mind and probably send an invasion force to retrieve them. "Busy?"
Her father narrowed his red eyes at her. "Busy with what?"
"Working on her interspecies relations studies," Perri muttered. "And I was just getting ready to go to work. We're both exceedingly busy and —"
"I'm coming to retrieve you." Her father interrupted, his face stern and unmoving. Like she was actually looking at a picture of him with a voice piped in, instead of actually speaking to a living being.
"What?" She gaped.
"It's been six months. You and your sister have had your holiday, and now it's time for you to return to Capridocia. Besides, it's winter on Earth right now and it would be irresponsible to leave you in a frozen wasteland when you can be here on Capridocia under a climate-control dome instead."
"But we don't want to come home. And where we're at doesn't actually have seasons."
"Nonsense, Earth's winters are notoriously harsh. Ten-foot drifts of frozen water. Food shortages. I've been told that occasionally their dead rise during this time to feast on the flesh of the frozen and conquer large swaths of land."
"Um ..." Perri trailed off, unsure of how exactly to explain. "Not here. Winters here are really quite nice. I don't even have to wear a jacket to walk to work."
"But the dead —"
"Turns out HBO isn't actually a channel that plays nothing but historical documentaries. Garibaldis got that one wrong."
"But he's our adviser on Earth relations," her father argued, pursing his fleshy lips into a wrinkled O shape. "Are you suggesting he doesn't know what he's talking about?"
Yes, she wanted to tell him. Yes, that was exactly what she was saying. Garibaldis had been wrong about everything related to Earthen customs. Every single thing.
But if she told her father that, he might just have Garibaldis taken into space and pushed out of an airlock for his deceit, and he hadn't been that bad of a tutor. He'd been fun. He'd let them watch animated movies about Earth princesses who always got to have their happy ever after with a handsome prince. He'd told them that not only was it common to find love on Earth, for princesses it was the law that people had to help them until they found their one true love. Not to mention all the rare Earth delicacies he had shipped to them from Martian traders — like popcorn and M&M's.
He'd just also been wrong about basically every single thing he'd taught them.
"No," she said, trying to sound honest and trustworthy. "It's just ... HBO decided to change its programming and didn't tell people beforehand. Apparently so they could steal more of the market share during the current media wars."
"Ah yes, Garibaldis has told me about the bloody Earthen media wars taking place between CNN and Fox News. I assume you're staying out of that fray, aren't you? I've heard some place known as Washington, DC, has become a killing field recently."
"Uh ... sure." She agreed slowly. "It's almost three thousand miles away, so no worries. We're well out of it, Father."
He narrowed his eyes at her.
"Your Majesty," she added quickly.
"That's good but also irrelevant to the reason that I called."
"Why did you call?"
"After Krul's unfortunate disappearance —"
"You mean when Corri shot him and turned him over to the Earth authorities so they could probe and then dissect him?"
Excerpted from His Fake Alien Fiancée by Patricia Eimer, Robin Haseltine. Copyright © 2017 Patricia Eimer. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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