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The stars gave her a mate…
and a rhino.
Tilly doesn’t believe in aliens. At least, she didn’t, until she gets abducted along with half the animals of her zoo. When you and your rhino are stuck in a cage on a spaceship, it’s hard not to believe. One of them, an elf-eared female, seems ready to help her find a way back to Earth, but is that really what Tilly wants?
Bavalla’s messed up big time. She wasn’t supposed to abduct a sentient being, but now that she’s face to face with a female who’s not only intelligent but also very attractive, she has to figure out what to do. Telling the Captain would result in severe punishment, but how do you hide a human who’s very intent on saving not just herself, but all her animals as well?
A fast-paced f/f romance with a strong human woman and a swoon-worthy alien female willing to give up everything for her mate.
Everything was going according to plan, or so Bavalla thought. The animals on the list were now all in the cargo hold of their ship. Then she notices an extra something in one of the containers. A sentient being, if the captain found out it would mean her death.
Tilly wakes in a strange place with Brie, her favorite Rhino in the zoo where she worked. She’s about to learn some very interesting things about where she and many of the animal she cares for are.
This is a favorite scene.
The two creatures on the other side of the glass were clearly studying me too, but it was easier to pretend that I was the examiner. “There seem to be slight openings in the neck of the right one. I count… three on either side. They look like nostrils. I wonder if they also breathe oxygen or if the air in this cell is specially made for Brie and me,” I wondered out loud.
I pressed my hands against the wall. One of the two beings, the one that looked female, did the same. Her hands had six fingers, slender and delicate, but our palms were almost the same size. She cocked her head, her large eyes examining me closely. Maybe she wasn’t female.
Maybe I was simply applying my human concepts to an alien species. For all I knew, these beings reproduced in an entirely different way, having no need for genders. I pushed that thought away. I shouldn’t be focusing on things like that. Far more important was how to get out of here, back to Earth. Maybe we were still there, cloaked so that my fellow humans couldn’t see it. But the slight vibration in the walls and floor told a different story. We were flying. We might be far away from home by now. I didn’t know how long I’d slept for.
Brie snorted and got to her feet. She stared at the beings with all the curiosity a rhino could muster. Which wasn’t a lot. Brie was lovely, but not the brightest rhino out there. I put a hand on her thick skin, stroking her.
“Easy, girl. Don’t worry, I’ll get you home.”
My voice shook slightly, but I hoped she wouldn’t pick up on that.
“Eeeeezzzzyyyyyyy.” The female alien parroted my words, although it barely resembled the original sound. “Guuuuuuuuurrrrrl.”
I swallowed a laugh. I wouldn’t give in to hysteria. Not yet.
The alien said something else in her own clicking language, then looked at me questioningly. Did she want me to repeat that?
I tried to replicate her clicks, but without success. It sounded like I had a cough.
The slits in her neck flared and her full lips turned upwards. Was it too much to hope that a smile was the same for her species? I knew that in apes, what looked like a smile was actually a threatening gesture. I very much hoped it wasn’t the same for her.
The other alien, who I thought was male, didn’t smile or change his blank expression. He simply stared at Brie, who returned his intense gaze with all the nonchalance of a two-tonne rhino. Brie knew she was the strongest animal in the room. I was glad to have her on my side, even with the danger of being squashed by accident.
The two aliens started talking again. I hoped they weren’t discussing how to get rid of me. Or how best to cook me. Their conversation turned into something of an argument, with both of them gesticulating widely. Secretly, I rooted for the female. Us women had to stick together, right?
After what seemed like a small eternity, the female pulled out a shimmering device the size of her hand. The way she held it reminded me of a phone, but there was no display that I could see. Again, I chided myself for assuming my understanding of the universe would be the same here. Of course, they didn’t use the same technology as us. It would have been strange if she’d been handling a smartphone. Whatever it was, a hiss sounded when she rubbed the glittering device and lines appeared on the wall. I stepped back, bumping against Brie. She huffed but didn’t move. The lines turned into a rectangle, just big enough for me and the aliens, but way too small for Brie.
The wall inside the lines disappeared, yes, it disappeared. What had looked like solid matter turned into thin air. Wow. That was technology way beyond my understanding. I would have called it magic if I hadn’t known otherwise.
The male kept clicking at the female, seemingly unhappy with her decision to let me out. Before he could decide otherwise, I stepped through the doorway, half expecting to bump into an invisible wall. But no, it really was nothing but air. So weird.
The female smiled at me again and reached out, her fingertips brushing against my throat. She gently stroked my neck in the places where she had slits, gills maybe. Her touch was ever so soft. Tingles spread from where her fingers met my skin and a pleasant shudder ran down my back. What on Earth was happening?
She said something to me and pulled back.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Don’t you have some kind of translation device? They always have those in films. And books. Not that I’ve read any alien romance novels, not at all.”
I stopped babbling and shot a look at the male behind her. He was staring at me with a frown. The tips of his long ears were bent to the sides, which they hadn’t done earlier. Some kind of gesture that I couldn’t interpret. I hoped it wasn’t a sign of aggression.
The female muttered something that seemed to be directed at the male, then turned and beckoned me to follow her. Hesitantly, I walked behind her through a narrow corridor. On both sides, large containers were piled on top of each other. Muffled sounds told me I’d find several of my zoo animals inside. There was no mistaking Terry the tiger’s agitated roar. He was a sweetheart when you scratched him behind the ears, but he could be fearsome if he was afraid or angry.
“What are you doing with my animals?” I asked, not expecting an answer. “Why did you abduct them? Why did you abduct me? What are you planning to do with us?”
She didn’t turn and kept walking. The male was following at a distance behind me, not giving me a choice but to stay with the alien. We passed at least twenty containers before reaching a door. It slid open as soon as the female approached, giving way to a brightly lit room full of screens. No, they weren’t screens as such. The images and data were shown on the walls themselves, either projected onto them or as if they were the screens. Two comfy looking chairs sat in the centre of the room. Weird, they looked so ordinary. Four legs, a backrest. Even though it was made from a strange material that looked like purple wood, it wouldn’t have stood out in a fancy designer furniture store on Earth.
The female sat on the left one and gestured to the other chair. Carefully, I sat down, hoping this wasn’t meant to electrocute me or something. That would be a nasty way to go.
The purple wood was much softer than expected and slightly rubbery. The cushions were warm and moulded to fit my bum. How surprisingly comfortable. Not bad. Not bad at all.
The alien used her glittery device again, and a loud noise sounded above me. I looked up just in time to see a chandelier-crown-helmet contraption descend from the ceiling. It lowered itself on my head and tightened against my temples.
This better not kill me.
Skye MacKinnon; Arizona Tape. The Alien’s Zookeeper: Aliens and Animals 1 (Kindle Locations 163-216). Peryton Press.
Aside from trying to avoid the captain, Valla also needs a plan to keep Tilly and her animals safe. Tilly doesn’t want to leave the animals anywhere so it’s not going to be easy.
A fun romp in space, with some angst, laughter, a romance and some very interesting characters.
5 Contented Purrs for Arizona and Skye!
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A creator at heart, Ari has always been in love with the idea of turning nothing into something. She wants to conquer the book world with stories that focus on inclusivity and diversity, writing what she likes to read. Whether it’s adventure or romance, dragons and vampires, or princesses and students, there’s something for everyone.
Born in China, raised in Belgium, and currently living in the United Kingdom with her girlfriend, Ari is a citizen of the world and loves discovering new cultures. Luckily, her crazy imagination lets her discover places she’s never been to, meet people that don’t exist, and talk to readers from all over the world.
Skye MacKinnon is a USA Today & International Bestselling Author whose books are filled with strong heroines who don’t have to choose.
She embraces her Scottishness with fantastical Scottish settings and a dash of mythology, no matter if she’s writing about Celtic gods, cat shifters, or the streets of Edinburgh.
When she’s not typing away at her favourite cafe, Skye loves dried mango, as much exotic tea as she can squeeze into her cupboards, and being covered in pet hair by her two bunnies, Emma and Darwin.