Author Mardi Maxwell


Directly ahead of her a wall curved to the left or the right. She went left as she’d been told and followed the dimly lit hall as it slanted up and around. At the top she stepped out into a large theater that had been separated into ten areas. Each section was designated by different colored chairs. Her section, the gold section, was in the center. Only seven rows held women while the other areas were nearly full. A stage blocked the screen where the latest blockbuster had been shown last week.

Glancing toward the back, where the room was in deep shadow, she decided to sneak up there and hide in a dark corner. She’d just taken a step in that direction when a stream of warm air flowed over the back of her neck. Shivering, she turned and came nose to bare chest with a man. Gasping, she stepped back and looked up.

On the defense, she examined him. An open vest crisscrossed his chest and was tucked into a wide leather belt. The deep V-neck left his chest bare, exposing the thick black lines of a tattoo that disappeared beneath the material. She studied the muscles beneath the markings for a moment, whispered a quiet, “Wow,” and looked up. The most stunning green eyes flecked with streaks of gold held her in place. He wasn’t human, but alien, and definitely a warrior.

Surprised, and a little nervous, she did what she always did and said the first thing that popped into her mind, “You shouldn’t sneak up on people. It startles them.”

He watched her mouth form the words. Those eyes on her lips sent heat rushing to where they rested.  She licked her lips, cooling them, and he tracked every stroke of her tongue. He looked back into her eyes when she stopped. Wondering what he’d do if she licked them again she followed through on the thought and his eyes dropped to her mouth again. Biting her lip, she released it and licked it again. This time when his eyes met hers they’d darkened and the green streaks were gone. A feeling of having displeased him swept through her as her long neglected voice of self-preservation advised her to run. As usual, she ignored it and said, “This meeting is for women only. You shouldn’t be here.”

The corners of his lips twitched before he asked, “Can you make me leave?”

She swept her eyes over him, taking in the size of him, then shrugged. “Probably not.”

He took a step closer to her and pointed to her section. “Sit there.”

A shiver of arousal slid through her, generated by the scent of his body and the sound of his voice. Perversely, she moved closer and drew in a deep breath. He smelled of rain-swept air, cool grass and something unknown to her. The combination was intoxicating. Leaning toward him, she sighed and let her eyes drift closed.

He grasped her waist and gave it a quick squeeze. “Behave.”

Jerking away, she reminded herself how close she was to freedom, and pointed to the darkness above them. “I want to sit up there.”

“No. There you will be alone and vulnerable to attack.”

She huffed out a laugh and looked around. “Who would attack me here?”

Instead of answering, he stroked her cheek with a long, callous-tipped finger. “Little Earthling, someday you will roar, but this is not that day.”

His breath was warm on the bare skin of her neck. She shivered then shivered again when he clasped her arm and gently led her toward the other women. At the seventh row, he stopped and turned her to face the other women. “Sit and listen. These qualities are important in a warrior’s mate.” As soon as he finished speaking, he swatted her butt once, hard.

“Ouch,” she squeaked and swiveled around to admonish him but he was gone, moving fast toward the bottom of the theater and disappearing through a door another warrior held open.

Several nearby women laughed and one asked her, “Did that hurt as much as it sounded like it did?”

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