To escape a painful past, Madison (the heroine) pretends to be a man and gets a job chaperoning mail order brides. She’s been stranded on an alien planet. In this scene, she’s having a conversation with Enoki (the alien hero). He believes she’s a man. We’re in Madison’s POV, and the first line is Enoki’s:
“This time, I felt certain I would get a female. To have someone to share my life, share my kels, have kits with, is worth more to me than anything. I’d trade my position or anything and everything I have for a mate.” He squeezed his hand into a fist. “I thought I had one this time. I was certain. I even added a room onto my hut in preparation.” He lifted his shoulders and let them fall in a dispirited shrug. “I didn’t draw a chit.”
He exhaled. “The disappointment has been…difficult.” His cocked his head as if listening to something, and then his eyes widened. “The whispers have stopped,” he murmured.
“Nothing.” He shook his head. “Your friend at the ceremony—you and she seemed to be close.”
I nodded and gnawed on a macha biscuit. “Garnet. She’s my best friend. We were classmates. I’ll miss her when I return to Terra.”
“How old are you, Madison?”
“Older than I would have guessed.”
“Old? I’m not old!” I scowled. “What about you?”
His mouth twisted ruefully. “I’m thirty-seven solar rotations—and I didn’t mean to imply you’re old. Just the opposite. Given your level of responsibility with the exchange program, I would have placed your age at twenty-four or twenty-five rotations, although you appear about eighteen or nineteen.”
So I seemed immature, a wet-behind-the-ears kid.
I’d show him what a kid I was. I grabbed my tankard, and, like an adult, took a long pull of alien brewski.
“You and Garnet never considered mating?”
I spit ale all over the kel covers. “No, she’s my friend,” I choked. “We’re close—like sisters—I mean brother and sister. I don’t think of her in a romantic way.” Garnet and I got along so great we used to joke that if we had been gay or bi, we would have married each other. However, both of us were exclusively into dudes.
“Why not? She was quite comely, as I recall. She had curves in all the right places. A friendship can be the start of a successful mating.”
So he considered Garnet attractive, huh? He’d noticed her curves, had he? What was I, chopped kel liver? The food and ale curdled in my stomach. I’d accepted I wasn’t voluptuous like Garnet, and the slight curves I did have I’d hidden because I was pretending to be a man, and Garnet had never so much as glanced in Enoki’s direction, so my jealousy came flying out of left field. “For one thing—she has a mate now, if you remember. Kall-Kull-something.”
“Kellian.” He nodded. “He’s a member of my tribe.”
So Garnet would be in Enoki’s tribe where he could admire her attractiveness and curves. I gulped more noxious ale. I belched and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand like a guy. “You said men and women on your planet didn’t become friends.” I recalled the conversation we’d had in the lodge.
“I’d said friendship was rare because the need to save our species makes mating a priority. Friendship between mated pairs occurs afterward, but for those few who are fortunate to become friends first, the bond is doubly strengthened.”
He took a swig of ale. “I would like to have a friend.” He sounded almost wistful.
“You don’t have friends?”
“Ardu, healer for my tribe, is the closet to a friend, but I must maintain a distance because I am the tribe leader, and I can’t allow friendship to influence my judgment—nor allow a perception of favoritism to develop.
“I’ll be your friend,” I said quickly. “I still have to go home, but for as long as I’m here—”
“I would like that,” he said.
Way to go. I was with a hot, handsome alien rescuer lookin’ for love who would have welcomed any woman, and if my stupid disguise wasn’t enough, I’d voluntarily assigned myself to the friend zone. Maybe I should apply to the exchange program or another service matching Earth girls with aliens because obviously I needed help finding romance. Whose stupid idea was it to pretend to be a man anyway?
Oh, yeah. Mine.
Alien Mischief story description
My name is Madison Altman. Don’t think because I’ve disguised myself as a man and have accepted a job that takes me away from Earth that I’m running away from love. That’s not true. I met the love of my life–but he was killed on our wedding day.
Chaperoning crazy women traveling to Dakon to become the mail order brides of aliens is just a way to pay the bills.
Unfortunately, on this latest assignment, the ship returned to Earth without me! Luckily, Enoki came to my rescue. He might be hot, and sexy as hell with his gravelly voice and throbbing horns, but he believes I’m a man, and we’re friends, not lovers. That’s how I want it. That’s how it has to be. As soon Enoki can get me a flight to Earth, I’m leaving this frozen planet for good.
I’m Enoki, leader of Dakon. For the longest time, whispers in the wind told me my Fated mate was coming. Whispers turned to shouts when the recent shipment of females arrived, but none of them were mine. I must accept the Fates were wrong. I’ll never get a mate.
My purpose now is to help the stranded Earth man return to his home planet. Even though Madison is a Terran, we’ve developed a strong bond. I know I’ll miss him, but because we’re friends, I intend to do everything I can to help him leave.
Why do the whispers tell me not to let him go?