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Holidate with an Alien
BY RENA MARKS
“Single, slightly awkward, Earthian female seeking companionship and open-minded individual. Only compatible species may apply. Wealth is appreciated and may move you higher up the list, though not necessary. Looks are necessary, or at least serious muscle tone. Sincere applicants only.”
What happens when the daughter of the creator of IDA, the infamous intergalactic dating app, is so socially awkward she can’t get past the first date? What if her father gives her a deadline to bring home a suitable match… and it’s the holiday party date of the launch of his newest app version?
That’s a lot of pressure on one gal to measure up to, so I’m off to beg my gorgeous neighbor, Khane, for help in polishing my dating skills.
* * *
One Marjian prince determined to help his neighbor in the compatibility department. One Marjian prince determined to hide his feelings for said neighbor, despite the attempts of his very own bodyguard to push them together. One Marjian prince determined to thwart her matchmaking trials. Because when it comes down to it, he doesn’t want anyone else near her.
Revised dating profile by Prince Khane of Marjia: “Single Earthian female with the beauty of a Goddess seeking an undeserving insignificant male to worship her in the way she deserves to be worshipped. He must be royalty, with a lifelong bodyguard, offer her immeasurable wealth, shower her with love and affection, and be prepared to know that her needs must always come before his.”
Khane is part of the Holidate with an Alien collection, featuring sweet and steamy holiday tales, a collaboration of authors telling holiday stories with a science fiction romance twist. Each book is a standalone, containing its own Happily Ever After. They can be read in any order.
“I see,” Candace says slowly, and I notice her tears have dried. “So do you think that I need to keep dating?”
“Exactly,” Tonnie says. “And stop taking it to heart when you’re disappointed. Remember, the majority of males on this app are losers.”
“But what if it’s not them?” Candace says. “What if it’s me? This last one seemed perfectly normal until I ruined things.”
“It’s not you,” I growl. How can she even think that? She is wonderful, adorably witty, fun to be around, she smells of flowers.
“What was it that you’d said right before this last one shut down?” Tonnie asks.
“Paul the Prick,” I growl out.
Candace nods in agreement over the name that I amended.
“I think it was when I mentioned that I don’t put out on the first date,” she says defensively.
Tonnie bursts out laughing.
I glare at him, and he makes an effort to stifle it behind his hand.
“Nothing wrong with that,” I say, patting her on the shoulder. I can’t help but notice how slender it seems without the massive muscles of our species. I rather like how soft she is. “You keep stating what you want. I think subconsciously you were starting to realize that a lot of these males were after one thing.”
“Yeah,” she says. “You’re right. I should trust my instincts. You’re so smart.”
I preen a little.
“Here’s a new idea,” Tonnie says. “Why don’t you let Khane pick your next date?”
Something twists inside my gut. I find the idea abhorrent. I’m about to refuse when Candace looks up at me with bright eyes.
“Would you, Khane? Pretty please? I would love your help. You’re so together all the time. I can’t imagine you having dating issues.”
No, never. They line up to kiss my crown. And it’s not what I want.
But I’m lost in the depths of those pretty violet eyes. I can’t resist her request. And I scowl at Tonnie’s chuckle because the fool knows it.
“Of course, inca. You know I will.”
She hands me her com with the app still open and I can’t help but admire her profile pic. She’s a beautiful female, despite being so small; no wonder she gets so many losers. They’re determined to own this beauty.
I flip through the first request.
“Oh, I thought that one had promise…” her voice trails off as I flip through the second and third.
“Look, he owns his own home…”
I flip through that one.
“Okay, are you at least going to tell me what I’m missing here?”
I quickly flip through the next several.
“If a male needs to prove to you he owns a home, he’s dangling a carrot,” Tonnie says. “Chances are it’s not even his.”
“Same thing if they take a picture with a pet. A relative’s bianca. Or even their sister,” I mutter.
I flip through the loser who had pictured himself with his grandsire.
Then I look up, exasperated. “Are all of these idiots human?”
“I-uh, I have my app set for human only,” she stammers. “It was simpler since I don’t have to research each species before the date.” Her cheeks are pink as if she’s ashamed to admit she’s making it easier for herself.
But my heart races because obviously she’s not into it. If she was, she’d want to learn all about the person’s race, their culture, their interests. Even their language. Just as I paid an ungodly amount of money for downloads for one called French.
“Pfft. Just enter Terran and Marjian, then,” Tonnie says. “You know those two species well.”
She nods. “If there were any of your species in there, I certainly would,” she agrees.
She misses that we had the conversation that my kind would never go onto such a worthless app. Still, I understand that she thinks her father’s app has value.
As ugly as the males are with their round, balding heads, and lack of majestic horns.
“You seem to be enthralled with humans from Earth,” I growl accusingly.
She stammers. “Ah-I, well, it would be nice to live planet bound instead of on a space station.”
Tonnie’s grin grows wider. I detest living on a space station also, and he knows it. The only reason why we’re still here is because she needs us. Otherwise, I’d have returned home long ago.
“Your date from last night was a traveler,” I point out, fighting the snarl in my voice.
“I got a little desperate. Figured I made my bed, now I need to lay in it.”
Tonnie chuckles again. He is enamored with Candace and her quirky sayings. He thinks she will be perfect for me. I’m not sure why. She’s outrageous and realistic, not self-absorbed at all—completely opposite the princess I was engaged to last year before he and I decided to take time away from the planet to heal from the scandalous breakup. But Candace is unique, quoting her old-fashioned quips as if they make sense to everyone. I’ve teased her many times just to be introduced to a new one as if they’re common knowledge.
“Oh, wait,” she says as I flip through the two-hundredth loser. “That one speaks French.”
“French? That old language?” I ask, like I haven’t studied it myself. My eyes narrow as I flip back to the previous fool. I snort at the oiled bush he grows over his upper lip.
“Isn’t that one of the languages you studied on the last space station?” Tonnie asks. “For fun?” He turns to her. “Khane is a master at learning languages, you know.”
“It is,” I say quickly, trying to stop him from sharing more information. I’d learned the stupid Earthian language because she’d mentioned once before that if she ever visited Earth, she’d love to see France. And I wish Tonnie didn’t know. He finds it amusing to mention and hope she’ll ask questions like how long I’ve known it and how I could learn it in such a short amount of time. Which might lead to: How much did you pay to have it downloaded? All of that leads to the question of why.
A new idea pops into my head. If I have to watch her flirt with a loser, I may as well let her see every human male on this app is an idiot.
“It’s the language of love,” Candace says, and her eyes sparkle.
Love? An image of Candace entwined with this moron enters my imagination. I feel my horns grow hot and my stremma emerge.
“Oh, what’s happening?” she asks, her eyes wide on my bare chest.
“Nothing,” I growl, aware of the stripes of color changing my skin tone to red and white. I refuse to look at Tonnie. “Just hot in here.”
“Do you all change color?” Candace asks, looking at Tonnie.
He nods. “It is the same as when you blush.” He tweaks her nose. “A pretty pink.”
And it’s not exactly when we’re hot with temperature. It’s more like a tell-tale sign of a heated emotion, jealousy, anger—or arousal—and if he tells her, he’ll find my fist in his face, bodyguard or no.
“My colors are different than Khane’s,” Tonnie says. “Purple and white.”
“Red’s my favorite color,” Candace says and damn if pleasure doesn’t hit me, making the stremma disappear completely. Is she aware that my shades are her favorite? “I love the holidays on Earth. Our colors are red and green.”
“Together?” Tonnie sounds aghast.
She laughs instead of taking offense. “We use the brightest, most colorful shades that time of year.”
“Huh,” Tonnie says. “Sounds like All Halle Syence. We dress up one night in obnoxious shades for the biancas and pass out sweet meats. Parents hate it, meat should be savory, not sweet.”
“Oooh, I’d like that too,” Candace says. “We give out presents.”
“Anyway,” I interrupt. “I messaged this Brian Goodyear of Earth. He’s on Inap 8 for about three sun-cycles.”
Which is perfect because if he charms her, he’ll be heading to his own planet without the two getting to know each other. Long distance relationships never work out.
Instead of handing her com back, I lift her arm. Her skin is soft and smooth beneath my touch, and I flip it over to attach her bracelet. Gooseflesh breaks out along her arm, and I like that. I like that I affect her.
Welcome to my Worlds!
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