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Protector:A Scifi Alien Romance

By:Anna Hackett

Chapter One

She desperately wanted to be anywhere else but here.

Madeline Cochran turned slowly, studying all the party guests around her. They were laughing, sipping drinks, and having a good time. And they were all aliens.

She picked at the plate of food in her hand. She was still adjusting to the different foods and strange flavors on the world of Carthago. Nothing looked even remotely familiar. Her stomach lurched, and she set the plate down.

As she moved, her dress swished around her. Madeline had rarely worn long dresses—she preferred her suits—so the sensation of the soft fabric on her legs, and the air gently brushing the shoulders the dress left bare, heightened the feeling of not belonging.

Here she was, at a post-gladiatorial fight party on a planet thousands of light-years away from home, struggling to accept the fact that she had no way back to Earth.

A passing server held out a tray and she grabbed a tall glass. Her fingers tightened on the drink, which was filled with some blue liquid that tasted a lot like wine. All around her, the room was filled with people who towered over her. Alien gladiators, of all things. Everywhere she turned, she saw muscled, bare chests, leather, and metal. And scattered among the giant men were scantily-dressed women, laughing loudly.

A giant alien with thick, brown skin walked past Madeline. Instantly, memories hammered into her. Her pulse tripped, her heart beating hard in her chest. That alien’s color, its skin, reminded her of the Thraxians who’d abducted her from her space station that had been orbiting Jupiter.

She’d been a prisoner, drugged for most of her captivity, and torn from her home. From her son.

Madeline quickly gulped some of her drink. It burned all the way down, and settled uncomfortably in her stomach. She’d been rescued by some other human women from her station who’d survived the attack, and by the big, tough gladiators from the House of Galen.

She turned again, her gaze raking the room and all the different kinds of aliens in it. The sound seemed to get louder, the lights brighter. Suddenly, her chest went tight. She couldn’t breathe. She needed to get out of here.

Stumbling through the crowd, she set her glass down blindly and made her way toward the glass door leading to the balcony. Her breathing turned raspy. She shoved her way out into the warm night.

She hurried into the shadows and leaned against the railing. As her hands curled on the stone, she tried to slow her panicked breathing.

She was Madeline Cochran. She did not panic.

Down below her lay the now-empty arena, wreathed in darkness. Earlier today, she’d watched the gladiators fighting each other on the sand. It had been a mind-blowing display of power, skill, and brutality. She still wasn’t sure how she felt about it.

Her gaze moved upward to the large moon that hung in the sky. Another reminder that she was on an alien planet, far from Earth. She pressed a hand to her churning stomach. Nothing reminded her of home.

Sadness clogged her throat as she thought of Jack. Her son was sixteen years old and on the verge of becoming a man. Her stomach started to churn harder.

Madeline had come from nothing, grown up dirt poor with an alcoholic mother, and she’d been going nowhere, fast. Then, at eighteen, she’d fallen pregnant.

At first, Madeline had thought her life was over, until that baby had been placed in her arms. Jack had been all chubby rolls, with an angry, red face. He’d changed everything. She’d gone from a directionless teenager to a focused woman.

She imagined his face, the strong lines of it hinting at the man he’d become. Tears pricked her eyes, but she fought them back. She’d broken down and sobbed once after her rescue from the Thraxians, but never again. Tears never solved anything, and she hated the show of weakness.

But the thought of never seeing her son again…

No. Madeline straightened her shoulders. One way or another, she’d hear Jack’s voice again.

“Hiding?”

The liquid-smooth voice held the hint of a smile. Madeline recognized it instantly. She stiffened, and slowly turned her head.

Lore Uma-Xilene stood just inches away. Like all gladiators, he was tall and strong. A little leaner than the others from the House of Galen, with long, tawny hair that brushed his shoulders, and a distracting bare chest. She tried to calm her nerves, but something about this alien gladiator made her nervous. Madeline didn’t do nervous.

Okay, maybe she was just embarrassed that he’d seen her at her worst: drugged out of her mind and weak. He’d been the one to carry her out of the underground fight rings where the Thraxians and their allies, the Srinar, had kept her. She’d clung to him like some crushed damsel.

She’d watched him battle this evening. He was a flashy fighter, who loved to wow the crowd with illusions and tricks. The spectators loved him for it, and women threw themselves at him.

Looking up, her gaze snagged on his long-boned face and silver eyes that gleamed in the darkness.

“Don’t you have women to charm?” She’d seen him surrounded by a gaggle of women—arena flutterers the others called them—at the party.

He gave her a slow smile, his teeth white in the darkness. “Yes, I do.” His gaze was heavy on her.

Silence hung between them, and Madeline hunched her shoulders. “It’s wasted on me.”

He rested his elbows on the railing, looking down toward the tiers of empty seats in the arena. “Beautiful woman. Beautiful night. That’s not wasted to me.”

As he leaned farther forward, she watched the flex of muscles in his strong arms. She couldn’t deny that the man had a gorgeous body and was very easy to look at.

Madeline forced herself to glance away. “Look, I’m not the weak, malleable woman you rescued. I’m sorry if you’re confused, because I clung to you—”

“Because you needed to be held and comforted after a bad situation.”

She huffed out a breath and

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