Releasing in one week! October 5, 2018
An excerpt from Darak: Dakonian Alien Mail Order Brides #1 (Intergalactic Dating Agency)
The hand-addressed, gold-embossed, perfumed envelope I’d brought in with the junk mail sat on my kitchen counter and tugged at my attention, despite my best efforts to ignore it. Anything that fancy and expensive couldn’t be good news. I sighed, licked black-cherry frosting off my fingers, and tore open the envelope.
Dr. Blake and Mrs. Caroline Gates Sutterman request the honor of your presence at the marriage ceremony of Miss Antoinette Leigh Gates Sutterman to Phillip Edward Markham IV…
Told ya. Bad news. My baby sister was getting married. It wasn’t enough she’d fast-tracked her way to partner of her law firm at the young age of twenty-five, she was sealing the deal by marrying the firm’s founding member, Phillip Edward Markham IV. The possibility she might have slept her way to the top didn’t detract from her accomplishment. In our family, how you achieved success didn’t matter, as long as you did.
Two years ago, my brother had finished his plastic surgery residency and joined Dad’s practice, last year my sister had made partner, and me? I was officially…a failure. I had no titles before my name, no letters after my name, and no prospects of marrying up.
I tossed the envelope aside, and a whole bunch of other stuff fell onto the floor: an RSVP card for the wedding, a separate invitation for the rehearsal dinner, an RSVP card for that, and tissue paper.
I tasted the frosting again, letting the flavors settle on my tongue. Perfect. My client would be pleased. I wiped the residual stickiness from my fingers with the tissue paper before jotting down the recipe measurements in my tablet, just as the picto-phone app began to play Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”
With a grimace, I propped the computer on a bowl and pressed accept.
“Hello, Mother,” I said when her image appeared on the screen.
She would have grimaced, if her Botoxed forehead would have allowed it, but she had to settle for transmitting disapproval through a glint in her hazel eyes. Checking an ingrained reaction to make myself more presentable by straightening my posture and ponytail, I slouched against the counter and waited for her to speak.
“Am I interrupting anything important?” Her tone indicated she was sure she wasn’t.
“I was testing frosting recipes.” I brushed powdered sugar from my shirt. Dammit! Old habits died hard. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?”
“I wanted to let you know you’ll be receiving an invitation—”
“I got it. Toni’s getting married. Congratulations.” No doubt Mother considered the engagement her accomplishment. Back when my sister was seeking a law clerk position prior to passing the bar, my mother had arranged for her to meet Phillip through a sorority sister who served on the same charity board as she. Of course, Toni hadn’t let an opportunity slide by.
“It’s customary to RSVP.”
“I only received the invitation this afternoon!” Opened it like sixty seconds ago.
“I just wanted to ensure you’ll be there.”
“I won’t miss Toni’s wedding.”
“You weren’t at her party at the country club when she made partner.”
Yeah, I’d skipped that. I hadn’t attended a family gathering yet where by the end of the evening my failings as a daughter and human being weren’t dissected and analyzed. I wasn’t a “professional,” I hadn’t married well—or at all—and I had no college degree, not one from a real school anyway. My associate’s in culinary arts from the community college counted for squat.
“I had to work,” I fibbed.
“You couldn’t take time off to celebrate your sister’s success?”
“Did she leave work to attend the grand opening of Your Just Desserts?”
“Your little hobby is hardly the same thing.” Mother’s surgically plumped lips formed a dismissive, but attractive, moue. She was one of Dad’s best patients. His surgical expertise had rolled back time, and people often commented to my mother that she and her daughters could be sisters. If they were really sucking up, they’d joke, “You must be the youngest.”
“It’s not a hobby, Mother. My pastry shop is a business.” You’d think I’d be used to being dissed by now, but it still hurt, so I tended to skip family get-togethers. Once an underachiever, always an underachiever—in their eyes. I’d never been forgiven for my average grades, for backpacking through Europe after high school and coming home with the announcement I’d decided to skip the university, for my inability to hook a monied and/or well-connected husband.
I wasn’t alone in the latter. On Earth, women outnumbered men, so eligible bachelors were few and far between. Men didn’t have to commit to get a woman—so they didn’t. My own brother continued to “play the field,” and my sister was marrying a man thirty years her senior.
Mother sniffed. “Let’s not fight. I called to make sure your schedule is free. You’re not in the wedding, but Antoinette would like all her family to attend the rehearsal dinner. It’s being catered by Chef Francois Bonnet at our Santa Barbara estate. Figure on staying for the entire weekend.”
I hadn’t looked that far ahead, but if I had, I would have planned to ditch the pre-wedding dinner and opt for a drive-by for the main event. I had nothing against my sister. With a five-year age gap, we hadn’t been close as children and never got closer as adults, but she was okay. It wasn’t her fault who her parents were.
“I’ll be there.” I could survive one weekend.
“Excellent. This could be beneficial to you. Quite a few members from the law firm are on the guest list. I’ll arrange for you to be seated next to a good prospect.”
“That won’t be necessary.”
“You’re thirty years old, Alexandra—”
“Twenty-nine, Mother.” My birthday was four months away. Until the calendar struck September 5, I was still twenty-nine.
“And it’s time to get serious. I hope you had the foresight to freeze some of your eggs.”
“Oh, for the love of buttercream icing! Stop. Right there. Stop.”
“You’re not getting younger, and someday you might want to have children and make me a grandmother.”
I did want children, and I hated to admit it, but the odds weren’t looking too good, considering the dearth of eligible bachelors in general and my nonexistent dating life in particular. However, if I had children, it would be to suit myself, not my mother. “I’m sure Toni will take care of it before too long. She’s been first in everything else.” My mother would deny it with her dying breath, but my sister was her favorite child.
“Well, she’s only twenty-five, and she’s focused on her career right now. Plus, Phillip does have three children from previous relationships.”
Ohh… “And he doesn’t want any more?”
“I didn’t say that! Gossip is so unbecoming, Alexandra. All I’m saying is you need to think about your future.”
Business was booming at Your Just Desserts, my shop had gotten a chamber of commerce award for Best New Business and received high ratings in customer reviews on the ’Net, I had a great group of friends, and I owned my own home. I was doing pretty darn well, if I did say so myself. Why couldn’t she give me credit for what I had accomplished?
My temper rose. Never a good thing. “Maybe I have thought about my future. Maybe I applied to the Terra Dakon Goodwill Exchange Program.”
“That’s not funny.”
“Who says I’m joking?”
Desperate for men, many women signed up to become the mail-order brides of an alien race on planet Dakon. The planet was rich in illuvian ore, which could power just about anything, so Earth’s government had worked out a deal to trade females for rocks.
My mother clutched her throat, her lined neck the only feature that betrayed her age. “Please, tell me you didn’t.” Her fingers tangled in the multi-strand pearl necklace she wore to cover the wrinkles. She looked so horrified and concerned, I didn’t have the nerve to continue.
“No, I didn’t,” I admitted.
“Don’t scare me like that,” she said. “Despite our differences, you’re my daughter, I love you, and I couldn’t stand the idea of you leaving Earth and flying halfway across the galaxy. I might never see you again.”
Leaving Earth didn’t appeal to me, either, truthfully. I had a great life here, even if the social part sucked like an overly tart torte.
“It’s bad enough the aliens have come here,” she said.
“At the Habitat for Unwed Mothers fashion show, I heard Kennedy Truman’s daughter is dating one.”
Gossip is so unbecoming. I wanted to toss her own words back at her, but then she might clam up, and this news was too juicy to let pass. “Here? On Earth? A real alien? How did that happen?”
“She met him through the Intergalactic Dating Agency, which matches Earth girls with extraterrestrials.”
“You’re kidding.” While my mother didn’t think much of Your Just Desserts, it consumed my life. I’d been so busy baking and managing the business, I hadn’t been paying attention to much else. My preoccupation might have contributed to my lack of a dating life, I conceded wryly. “How long has this been going on?”
“A while. I’m so grateful Antoinette is marrying a successful human man. You’re not married, but at least you’re not with a huge purple alien.”
Apparently, my mother wasn’t as desperate for grandchildren as I’d assumed. “Speaking of marriages, I assume Toni will be contacting me about the wedding cake.”
“What do you mean?”
“Doesn’t she want me to do the cake for her?”
My mother tittered. “Oh no, dear. Your little homemade cakes are good, but for the wedding, we’ll need one that’s professionally done. Anyway, I’m pleased you’ll be there. I have to run, now. I have a Friends of the Homeless tea. I’ll be in touch.”
The screen blanked out.
Your little homemade cakes are good, but for the wedding, we’ll need one that’s professionally done. I doubted she even realized she’d insulted me. I might have forgiven the slight if her opinion had been based on true and honest experience, but to my knowledge, my mother had never tried my cakes. Our history colored her assessment of everything I did.
I handled the wedding invitation. Miss Alexandra Katherine Gates Sutterman and guest. My siblings and I carried my mother’s maiden name as well as our father’s surname because while he had been quite successful, my socialite mother was a Gates of the Sinclair Gates, old money dating back to the California Gold Rush. Her name could open doors—or shut them, depending on her whim.
Miss Alexandra Katherine Gates Sutterman and guest. I could bring a plus-one.
Intergalactic Dating Agency, huh?
Revenge is best served sweet with a hot, horned alien
Free-spirited pastry chef Lexi Sutterman has discovered that true love is pie in the sky. The only thing more difficult than finding an Earth man willing to commit is pleasing her wealthy, hypercritical family who view her as a failure. So she’s given up on both, focusing her energy on her new bakery. Now that her uber successful little sister manages to nab a well-heeled fiancé, Lexi fights back by joining the Intergalactic Dating Agency. She plans to bring a huge, purple, tentacled alien as her plus-one to the wedding.
Darak of planet Dakon isn’t purple or tentacled—he’s just seven feet of horned alien hotness. To get a woman on his world, a guy has to literally win the lottery. Tired of waiting for the Fates to send him a female, he joins the dating service to meet a nice Earth girl to call his own. He recognizes Lexi as his true mate, but realizes convincing her they’re meant to be together forever and not just a weekend will be no cake walk.
But when a sweet-tart pastry chef and a horned alien hottie fall in love, everyone might get their just desserts…
Available everywhere: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, GooglePlay.
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Dakonian Alien Mail Order Brides is a new science fiction romance series and a spin-off from the Alien Mate series. In the Alien Mate books, Earth women travel to planet Dakon to become the mail order brides of aliens. In this new series, the Dakonians come to Earth through the Intergalactic Dating Agency to find their human mates.
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