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Protector:A Scifi Alien Romance

By:Anna Hackett

looked at him again. “I’m not your type, Lore, and you’re certainly not mine.”

Lore arched a brow. “You looked like you needed a friend. That’s why I followed you out here.”

He reached out, and Madeline forced herself to stay still. His fingers brushed the shell of her ear, and with a flourish, he held out his hand. He was holding a beautiful, white flower that he’d conjured out of thin air.

The blossom was stunning, giving off a fragrant perfume. She itched to touch it.

Instead, she clenched her fingers in the folds of her dress. “I don’t have friends. I have work.” Or at least, she used to have work. That was all gone now. Her gut cramped. God, she hoped those who hadn’t made it off the space station hadn’t suffered.

She’d been the station commander, and in charge of their well-being. And she’d failed them.

Her thoughts snapped back to her son. Please be okay, Jack.

A sharp pain stabbed through her stomach, and she gasped, pressing her hand to the railing to steady herself.

Lore frowned, his silver gaze like a laser on her face. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I’m not your concern. Or your friend.”

She put on her best bitch voice. She’d honed it to perfection during her career in a male-dominated company.

Lore shook his head. “Such sadness in your eyes, Madeline. I know the situation isn’t what you wanted, but real strength is how you cope with the things you didn’t want or plan for.”

His words made the hot press of tears sting her eyes again. No, strength was standing on your own two feet and not breaking. She’d never let herself lean on somebody else.

When you depended on another person, they always let you down.

No, she wouldn’t let herself weaken, even for this tempting man.


So prickly. Lore had been raised by women, among women. He’d been brought up to love them, respect them, and protect them. It didn’t matter their shapes or sizes—or temperament—he found them all fascinating.

He smiled a little to himself. As one of the few males born into a matriarchal family, he’d been spoiled and indulged. He remembered when he’d wanted a pet dragmata lizard. He’d pleaded with his mother over and over until she’d finally relented. He’d petted that thorny-skinned, bad-tempered creature until his fingers bled and his arms were covered in bites.

Until it had loved him back.

He’d always loved a challenge. Now, he looked into sad blue eyes. Those eyes tempted him, too. He knew what it was like to be ripped from your life and lose those you loved. He knew what it was to lose everything.

He wanted to tell Madeline that the hole in her heart would never go away, but that time would fill around it with other things…if she let it.

But he knew she wasn’t ready yet. She’d only been here two weeks, and before that had suffered for months at the hands of the Thraxians.

Lore had watched her inside at the party. She hadn’t eaten much, and was edgy and tense. He knew that wouldn’t help with her recovery.

“Any word on Blaine?” she asked. “Or the underground fight rings?”

He saw her desperate need to change the subject, although he wished she’d picked a better one. The thoughts of the underground fight rings run by the Srinar left a bad taste in his mouth. He had tried his best to forget everything about that rotten place, where he and the other gladiators of the House of Galen had rescued Madeline.

Unfortunately, on the same mission, they’d spotted another human from Earth, Blaine Strong, but hadn’t been able to rescue him. He was still down there, somewhere, fighting for his life in the vicious fight rings. If he was still alive, that was…

Up here, the gladiatorial fights in the arena were a wild, brutal show for the masses. People came from all over the occupied systems, and paid a lot of money to watch the gladiators fight. Many stayed on to spend more on all the delights offered in the hedonistic District—casinos, brothels, restaurants, and shows.

The gladiators were a strange mix. Some were sold into slavery to the Kor Magna Arena and fought to earn their freedom; some came willingly to hone their fighting skills. Most left as fast as starships could carry them, but some, like him, earned their freedom and made a home here, instead.

However, the arena battles were never fights to the death. Gladiators were big investments for the Houses who fed them, trained them, and healed them. It was a different story in the hidden, underground world in the bowels under the arena. There, in the illegal fight rings, stolen fighters were forced to fight to the death.

“Galen says all known entrances to the fight rings have been closed down. They’ve been blocked off, or filled up. No invites are being issued to spectators, either.”

He saw a muscle tick in the side of Madeline’s face.

Lore continued. “Our contact, Zhim—”

She straightened. “The information merchant.”

“Yes. Anything worth knowing on Carthago, Zhim knows. And he’ll sell it, for a price.”

“You think that the Srinar have closed the fight rings?”

Lore considered lying, and making it easier for her. But something told him that a woman like Madeline Cochran wouldn’t appreciate lies, no matter how pretty they were.

“No. They’ve just gone deeper. The Srinar have gotten more careful and better at hiding. The underground fight rings are too profitable for them to shut down.”

She let out a breath. “So, Blaine is still fighting for his life.”

Lore felt a stab of pity for the man. Fighting to the death just to survive. What would that do to a man’s soul?

“I have to find him.” Fire ignited in Madeline’s eyes, mixed with a healthy dose of stubbornness.

Lore liked seeing it. He’d take anger over the sadness that had been drowning in her eyes before.

He turned his head a little and looked back through the doorway into the party. His fellow gladiators were having a great time. He saw tattoo-covered Raiden with his trademark red cloak, and by his side anot