Strong lights were Mikayla’s first indication they were no longer at the rest stop. The brightness was overwhelming, and she immediately squinted until she became accustomed to it. Slowly, she opened her eyes and glanced at her surroundings. The sudden change in location shocked her. So much so, she stopped struggling.
“Where are we?” she asked. And how the hell did we get here?
“Your new home.”
Her captor loosened his hold around her waist and dropped her on the floor. She winced as her butt hit with a loud thump. His laughter boomed through the room, and she glared back up at him. Other than his heavy Romanian-sounding accent, he spoke English well. How was that possible? But then she remembered the speech given by that man on television. He had also spoken English.
As she scrambled back to her feet, she studied the room. Brushed steel walls, with gray carpeting, and those damn bright lights—but absolutely no windows. It was fairly good size, only completely empty.
Was it possible she’d been drugged and just now woke up? She didn’t think so, for she didn’t feel like she had been asleep, but how did they get here so fast? And how was she going to get back to her car? Her heart pounded furiously in her chest, and she struggled to stay calm. She had to think and find a way out of this.
“What is this place?” she asked.
“This is what we call an arrival room. They didn’t want us just popping up wherever, so there are several of these rooms throughout the ship for people to transport into.”
Mikayla stared at him, convinced he’d lost his mind. Surely he didn’t just say “ship.” And what did he mean by transport? He had to be lying. She narrowed her eyes at him. “Why am I here?”
“You’re a gift for a friend,” he replied with a smirk. “I have to make a call to alert your new owner that we are coming, so be quiet until I am finished.”
“My new owner? What are you, nuts? You don’t own people.”
“We now own you.” He pulled something out of his belt and, after punching a button, put it to his ear.
We’ll see about that
. She examined the room again, this time searching for a way out.
She began to inch her way toward a pair of doors on the other side of the room. Glancing back at the man who’d abducted her, she saw he was quietly talking on what looked like a very small cell phone.
She didn’t believe for a minute they were actually on a ship. They had to be somewhere close to the rest stop. If she could just find a way out of whatever this thing was, she could get back there. Once she did, she and Krista could continue to her mother’s. Taking one more look back at her kidnapper to make sure he was still on the phone, she made a run for the doors.
They silently slid open on their own, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God for small favors.
Ignoring her captor’s shout to stop, she picked a direction and ran, praying she’d made the right choice.
The halls were just like the room, all metal and lights that seemed to go on forever. Occasionally, there were doors like the one she just came out of, but they led into other rooms, not exits. Every time a door opened onto an office, she wanted to scream in frustration. There had to be a door that lead to the outside.
She glanced over her shoulder and saw the soldier getting closer. Taking a deep breath, she picked up her pace. Her long legs made her a fast runner, so staying ahead of him was easy. Of course, the fact that she had gotten a pretty good head start helped as well.
Coming up on the end of the hall, she made a quick decision to go right, only to run smack into what felt like a brick wall. Stunned, she would have fallen flat on her butt again, if the wall hadn’t reached out and grabbed hold of her arm to steady her.
She gulped, trying to recapture the wind that had just been knocked from her chest, and snagged hold of the first thing she could to keep her balance. It was hard and unyielding, and she quickly realized it was an arm. A huge arm. Her fingers didn’t come anywhere near encircling it all the way.
Her appraisal took in the massive biceps and the wide chest attached to it. He had on the same jacket as the other soldier. The material felt thick and woven, like wool beneath her fingers, but what had her heart pounding was the concrete beneath it. The man was built like a rock. She pushed against him, but the behemoth wouldn’t budge.
“Damn it, let go of me.” She shoved one last time, emphasizing her words, but to no avail. He refused to loosen his grip.
With a huff of exasperation, she looked up and found herself staring into the face of one of the most gorgeous men she had ever seen.
She froze, unable to take her eyes off him. Extremely thick, long white hair framed a face she could only describe as chiseled perfection. Black lashes framed beautiful eyes the color of storm clouds that at first held a look of confusion and then twinkled with amusement.
He had a masculine face, with strong cheekbones and a cleft right in the middle of his chin. His lips were full and turned up at one corner in a slight smile.
Mikayla was tall for a woman, but she felt like a child standing next to him. The top of her head came just to his shoulder, which made him at least six feet five inches.
His gaze raked over her in a way that sent chills down her spine. Well, it’s official: even aliens are pigs.
He tugged on her elbow, pulling her closer. She stiffened as the heat from his body seeped into hers. She inhaled his slight musky scent and fought the urge to breathe deeper. Never in her life had someone rendered her speechless with just a look.
He grinned, and she swallowed down a sudden surge of panic. Raising her chin a notch, she sent him a challenging glare. She had no idea what he intended, but whatever it was, she wouldn’t take it lying down. A sudden image of her beneath him flashed through her mind, and she inwardly groaned. Okay, bad analogy.
“Lord Marcone,” Mikayla’s abductor said.
She turned her head to see the out-of-breath soldier behind her. He straightened from a perfunctory bow, obviously in deference to the man holding her. Propping his hands on his hips, he shot her a look of disdain. His glare darted to the man he’d called Lord Marcone, and turned to a look of uncertainty.
“Did you lose something, Lafon?” the man holding her asked with obvious amusement.
Mikayla’s breath caught in her throat at the sound of his deep, husky voice. Of course a man of his size would have a voice like that.
“Yes, my lord. I’m sorry. I only turned my back for a second. I’ll know better next time.” Lafon glared at her, and in a fit of rebellion, she glared back.
The man holding her immediately switched to a different language, and she frowned. Why? Were they saying something they didn’t want her to hear? The more she listened, the angrier she became.
Stomping a foot, she once again tried to pull her arm from his grasp, without success. She scowled up at the man who held her prisoner. “If you’re going to talk about me, the least you can do is speak in English. I know you can.”
“All right,” the tall man with the white hair replied.
Mikayla blinked, surprised he had actually obeyed her request. “How is it that you speak English so well?”
“Your English is our Rhinarian.”
“What?” She frowned. “You can’t be serious.”
“Why? Because that would mean somewhere in the distant past, your people were once my people?”
Mikayla shook her head. “If that’s the case, then why are you invading?”
The gorgeous man grinned, and her heart stopped. “Maybe we’re taking back what was originally ours.”
“Yeah, and maybe you’re nuts too,” she sneered.
“There’s always that possibility.” He and the man called Lafon shared a chuckle.
Great, she thought, an alien with a sense of humor
“Where did you think you were going?” he asked.
“Home, maybe,” she bit out sarcastically.
“This ship is your home now.”
She couldn’t believe the gall of these people. What did they want with her, and what did they expect her to do for this man they planned to give her to?
“Who the hell do you people think you are? You can’t just pick me up and give me as a gift. I demand that you take me back home.” She emphasized her statement by trying to wrench her arm free, but Lord Marcone wasn’t letting go.
“I really don’t think you are in a very good position to demand anything, little one.”
His lips twitched, and she had to stomp down the urge to slap him. Glaring at him, she growled, “You can’t keep me here against my will. There is
a way out of here, and I will find it.”
The man raised an eyebrow and pulled her into one of the rooms off the hall. It appeared to be an office with a desk and some chairs, but what caught Mikayla’s attention was the window that ran along the wall.
Bitter bile rose from her stomach, and she swallowed twice to keep from getting sick. She probably would have fallen into a heap on the floor if her captor hadn’t still been holding on to her arm.
Staring out the window, she couldn’t believe she was actually seeing Earth several miles below them. Somehow, they had gotten to the ship that was orbiting the planet. Good Lord. When he said ship, I had no idea he meant that ship.
“As you can see, the only way off this ship is for you to jump. I would think you would find our hospitality a much more pleasant alternative.”
She turned to face him and scrunched her nose in distaste. “I think I’d prefer to jump.”
“That is a pity.” He ran the tip of his finger down her cheek. “I was looking forward to seeing that pretty face again.”
Her skin tingled and burned beneath his light touch. She jerked away and stared at him warily. Never in her life would she have thought a touch could burn. It had to be the alien in him. Somehow, he’d done it on purpose to upset her.
Giving her a knowing smile, he let go of her arm and turned to leave. “Try not to lose her this time, Lafon.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Lafon reached to grab her arm again, but she sidestepped him. “Don’t touch me.”
Pulling a small handgun out of his belt, he pointed it at her. Her eyes widened, and she took a step back, her heart pounding a thunderous rhythm. Was he going to shoot her?
“I’ve had enough of your stupid little games. The captain may find you amusing, but I do not. You will either move now, or you get carried there. Makes no difference to me.”
“Fine,” she growled as she moved to go with him down the hall.
Mikayla remained silent and concentrated on looking around. She had to figure a way off this thing. One way or another. At the end of the hall, they stepped into what looked like an elevator. The doors closed behind them with a loud swoosh, and she jumped.
“Recreation deck,” Lafon said, and the elevator began to move. Not just up and down, but side to side as well.
Once they came to a stop and the doors slid open, they stepped off into what looked like another world. In shock, she stood in the middle of the long hallway and looked around her.
She guessed the width to be about twenty yards. It had light brown carpet and was decorated with trees, plants, and benches scattered all along both sides. It reminded her of a small garden path. Glancing around, she noticed the glass roof two stories above them and the stars beyond. Under any other circumstances, she would have found it quite beautiful.
“What all is on this deck?” she asked. She needed to find out as much about the ship as possible to aid in her escape.
Lafon looked at her and then shrugged. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to tell you. Down to the right are three eating lounges, the training facility, and the briefing auditorium. On this end is the bar. This is where you will be stationed.”
“Yes. You’re a gift to the man who runs the bar, Agnus. He could use someone of your…looks to work in the bar.”
Mikayla sneered at the way his gaze roamed over her body, his eyes sparking with lust. A shiver of disgust and fear snaked down her spine. Hopefully, bartending is all I’ll be doing here, she thought. Heading to the left, they entered a massive pair of double doors.
“Agnus, we’re here,” Lafon yelled.
“Be right there.” She heard someone say from another room. While waiting, she took a moment to look around.
This bar was the largest she had ever seen. And she’d certainly seen her fair share. Greg’s favorite pastime had been barhopping, and he always dragged her along for the ride.
On the main floor was a huge square island made of dark wood, smack in the middle of the room. It had stools all around it, and there were at least sixty tables scattered around the floor.
Behind the island was a wide staircase that led to the second level. It circled the room on all four sides with a beautifully decorated railing that reminded her of something one would see in a Spanish-style home. It had tables as well, but it also had couches and chairs spread about in small conversation areas. But what caught her attention was the window. It was amazing. It ran the whole length of the wall in front of them and went from floor to ceiling. From this window was also a perfect view of Earth.
“What have you got for me, Lafon?” Agnus asked.
Mikayla turned to see who had spoken, and her eyes widened slightly in surprise. He was not what she had expected. Before her stood a man, not much taller than her and at least sixty, maybe seventy, years old. He was thin with short gray hair and light blue eyes. He might not look too bad, Mikayla thought, if he wouldn’t frown like that.
“This is the woman I told you about.”
Agnus looked her over. “What’s your name, girl?”
“Mikayla.” She looked Agnus over exactly as he had her, refusing to let him intimidate her.
A small smile tugged at Agnus’s lips. “Well, Mikayla, welcome to the prime minister’s Destroyer, Shlictah
. Have you ever worked a bar before?”
“Actually, I have.”
“Good, then you’ll catch on quickly.”
She folded her arms in front of her. “What exactly am I supposed to catch on to?” She would refuse to do anything except serve drinks, even if it meant they would kill her. Being the sexual plaything for a bunch of aliens was definitely out of the question.
Agnus studied her for a moment before answering. “Celine will go over all of that with you in the morning. Right now, I’ve just closed, and I would like to get some sleep. Lafon, take her up to her room and lock her in. I’ll let her out when I get up.” He then looked back at Mikayla. “Try to get some sleep as well. Tomorrow will be a busy day.”
Grabbing her elbow, Lafon escorted her up the stairs to the second floor. At the top, they took a right and headed for a door at the far end of the room. The door opened on to a long hallway that had three sets of doors down each side. Shoving her inside the first room on the left, he closed the door.
She turned and hit the door with her fist as the lock beeped, indicating it had been set. Well, she thought, so much for trying to get away while everyone was asleep. With a sigh, she leaned against the door and looked around the small room.
The walls were the same gray metal as the rest of the ship. She also realized there was no smell here. She hadn’t noticed it earlier, for she had been too busy trying to get away. But now the lack of odor was obvious—especially here in the bar. Most Earth bars held a smell of liquor and smoke. Apparently, the ship had a very good filtering system. Either that or aliens didn’t do things the same way as they did on Earth. Maybe they didn’t drink or smoke at all. But then if they didn’t, why did they need a bar?
Mikayla sighed, wondering if maybe she wasn’t losing her mind, and returned her attention to her surroundings, desperate to try and keep her calm so she could find a way home.
Off to her right was a bathroom, although, except for the huge tub, it didn’t look like any bathroom she had ever seen. In the middle of the room sat a full-size bed, and on the long wall to the left stood a small dresser with three drawers. Above the bed where the headboard should have been was a small window the same width as the mattress. Mikayla climbed onto the bed and looked out at Earth.
This all seemed so unreal to her. Never in her life did she imagine she would be in a ship orbiting the planet. Closing her eyes with a sigh, she put her forehead to the glass. Her hands shook slightly as she brushed her hair away from her face. A lump formed in her throat, and she swallowed hard to get rid of it.
She couldn’t let herself fall apart. She had to stay calm and think. If she gave into her fear, she would lose the only control she had. She couldn’t let them see how upset she was, or how scared. One thing she learned from her years with an abusive boyfriend—never let him see your fear.
She thought about her mother and wondered if she was okay. Did Krista make it there all right and let her mother know what happened to her? They were both probably worried to death. She would have to keep her eyes open and pay attention. Surely, a way home would soon present itself.
Lowering herself to the mattress, she covered up with several of the blankets folded at the foot of the bed. It must be fifty degrees in here, she thought. Sleep didn’t come right away. Her mind kept racing, thinking about the bar, her mother, and surprisingly the man she had run into earlier. He was gorgeous, and she would bet everything she owned that he knew it.
She closed her eyes and tried to think of something else. This ship was so big, she would probably never see him again, which considering the way she’d felt when he looked at her with those gray eyes of his was probably a good thing.
Trista Ann Michaels