I want to welcome all the readers who found their way here from the Summer Reading Trail. I’m so happy you’ve found me along the Flirtatious Footpath. The story I’m sharing with you is specifically a free read written for the Summer Reading Trail. The rest of the story will be posted in July.

If you enjoy it and would like to read something longer, please click on the cover of any my books on the right side of the blog and it will take you directly to a publisher’s website where you can learn more about them.

And without further adieu, please enjoy part 1 of BRIDGE TO LOVE:

In the distance the festival continued, but Vral barely heard the raucous laughter and tribal drums over the soft moans of the woman in his arms. Mahgda would be upset he’d been gone so long. It wasn’t polite for the bridegroom to miss his own promise celebration and no doubt his betrothed would be looking for him.

Didn’t matter. This whole wedding was a farce. He didn’t love the Nargien female anymore than she loved him. Though Mahgda was certainly going to reap benefits beyond her wildest dreams, Vral would save the realm, but lose his self-respect in the bargain—hardly seemed a fair exchange for the first born son of the Demekleis king.

But duty often involved personal sacrifice and Vral seemed to be paying the ultimate price.

As he hurried to his sleeping chambers, the female snuggled deeper in his arms, her porcelain face nestled in the curve of his shoulder. Human. Though it hardly seemed possible, her long limbs and slight build confirmed his suspicion.

A scholar of ancient civilization and artifacts, Vral had chosen the tiny planet in the Milky Way Galaxy for his Prothemesis. Few academics chose to receive the highest honor, but the hours poring over the ancient texts had not only kept him out of the local gangs, but had piqued his interest in Earthlings. In the end, there was very little he didn’t know about the humanoid planet—or its inhabitants. And this woman, warm and soft in his arms was definitely one of them.

But Earth was a thousand light years and countless galaxies from the planet of Cabonon. The starbridge between their worlds had been destroyed during the last great cycle. Both Earth and Cabonon still bore the scars of the apocalypse. The former had lost Atlantis, a great catastrophe for sure, but humans had prevailed and their race had continued, albeit without the peace the Atlanteans would have guaranteed. But Cabonon—his home planet–had been completely decimated.

A dark evil had descended the day the starbridge collapsed, sending Cabonon into a blackness so complete, even the light from distant stars couldn’t penetrate its atmosphere. Vral hadn’t known anything different from the heavy weight of despair all Demekleis people slogged around. Tempers were quick, insults quicker and peace between tribes something only the elders remembered.

Hence the reason for his loveless betrothal to the Nargien warrior.

On a sigh, Vral pushed aside the oversized strands of the baen tree covering his sleeping chamber, whispering commands as he passed through the sitting room. Luminescent organisms woke from their slumber, a soft, amber hue lighting the dark recesses of his simple abode. It was one of many symbiotic relationships the Demekleis people had developed with the fauna of their planet.


Normally, the sound of his brother’s voice wouldn’t send icy rivers of guilt through his veins. But as Vral hastily laid her on the bed and covered the woman with a blanket of soft ferns, he implored the Gods not to let her choose this moment to wake.

“Vral, where the hell are—” Wesphel stepped into the bedchamber. “Ah, here you are.” Three years younger, his brother had not come into his male maturity. The boy was still a head shorter and his cyan skin hadn’t developed the cobalt hue of Vral’s. “Where have you been? That Nargien wench sent me to find—”

“Well you’ve found me.” Vral stepped between his brother and the bed, shielding his curious gaze. “I just wanted to…” Vral searched for some believable excuse for coming back to his chambers. “Grab my daknier.” He swiped the small knife from his dressing stand, bent and slid it into a weapon’s band beneath the leg of his trousers and slapped his beefy fist on his brother’s shoulder. “Shall we go?”

A low moan keened from beneath the covering.

Wesphel broke from his grasp and shot around him before Vral could stop the foolish boy. “I’m not sure if Father would be proud you’ve bedded one last female or displeased that you’ve broken your promise of fidelity.”

He pulled back the coverlet before Vral could stop him. The human female bolted to a sitting position, her blood curdling scream echoing off the walls. The noise startled the luminescent organisms who shut down, leaving them in total darkness.

* * * * *

Annemarie’s throat burned from screaming. But she forced herself to stop and swallow her fear. It wouldn’t do for the daughter of a naval officer to lose her head in battle. She wasn’t sure where she was, but it sure as hell wasn’t Pennsylvania. She’d had only a brief glimpse of the blue alien trying to probe her before everything had gone black.

Instinctively she jumped away from the creature, grabbing the taser from the large side pocket of her cargo pants as she went. With her back to the wall, she waited for her eyes to adjust, wondering just where she’d landed and how the hell she’d gotten there. It seemed a long way off from the crystal cave she’d been excavating.

“Hush, dear friends, safety is yours.” A decidedly male voice spoke quietly in the dark, the baritone timbre stirring something deep inside Annemarie. Not fear exactly, but a definite awareness. She hadn’t expected the creature could have such a soothing tone. It seemed so incongruous to the harsh angles of his face. “If it pleases you, we could use some light.”

She patted her pockets. Save for a wad of notes, two stubby pencils and an old stick of gum, Annemarie had nothing. “I…I’m sorry I don’t seem to have my flashlight. Matches either.” She wasn’t sure why she dared respond. The blue creature that had been in her face wasn’t any friend of hers. But when the ceiling began to glow, she suspected he hadn’t been talking to her. Mesmerized, she watched the rock above her grow brighter. The light rolled and pulsed as if the ceiling itself were alive.

“There, now if we can all remain calm.” The voice floated from a second creature, bigger, bluer and uglier, who seemed to materialize out of the shadows. There was no way in hell the small taser in her hand was any match for the monstrosity moving toward her. The scream ripping from her lungs, was all very girly, but it seemed a natural reaction to being cornered.

They were plunged into darkness once again and Annemarie dropped into a fighting stance. Even though the Tai Kwon Do lessons she’d been taking at the YMCA for the last year weren’t going to get her very far, at least they weren’t going to stick probes in her orifices without a fight.

“Seriously human we’re not going to get anywhere if you keep scaring the Photinus.”

“—I have no idea what a photo-whatever is, but I need you to stay back!”

“—Human? Did you say human, Vral? For the love of all the Gods where did you find a human?”

Her words rolled over a higher pitched voice, probably the smaller of the two. But their distress came through in the volume of their voices, the sound bouncing off the walls as if amplified by the tight quarters.

“Stop now both of you.” The honey-rich command of the bigger male brooked no argument. “The creatures living in my ceiling are Photinus. And they would happily share their light and heat if the two of you would stop scaring the living shit out of them.”

A low hum filled the air, a sweet melody of notes that wrapped around Annemarie, slowing her breathing and steadying the rhythm of her heart. Once again light filtered into the room.



“Enough,” the big male said. “Seriously, if we are plunged into darkness again, because you two fools can’t keep your voices down, I will walk from here and leave you both to fend for yourselves and find your own way out.” His gaze pinned first one than the other, both of them shaking their heads and holding their hands up in surrender. Annemarie had no desire to be lost in a dark cave with an alien species of unknown origin.

“Fine.” He shot an imposing look at the male behind him. “Wesphel, stand there and shut up.” When he turned back to Annemarie, his expression softened. “I have no intention of hurting you human.” His voice was warm and lilting, inviting her to relax. “From your reaction I suspect you’ve unknowingly opened the starbridge between our worlds and I intend to find out how and why.”

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