USA Today Bestselling Author
It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime…
now she’s just trying to stay alive.
Rissa can’t believe her luck. She won an all-expenses paid trip on a luxury matchmaking cruise. She’s not looking for love, but a few weeks of five-star pampering while seeing the galaxy sounds perfect… until it all goes wrong.
Abandoning ship wasn’t on her itinerary, and neither is the growly but oh-so-sexy alien who is half convinced she’s the enemy, and utterly certain she’s his. She’s got a list of the reasons they’re wrong for each other, but when they’re together, everything just feels right.
Crash landing on a prison planet may not be the vacation she dreamed of, but it might turn out to be the best “worst” day of her life.
Rissa had been in the gym when the alarm bells started going off. She instinctively started for the engineering deck then stopped because she wasn’t crew on this ship she’s a passenger. A passenger on a matchmaking cruise, she hadn’t been one of the lucky ones to find a match.
As she deciphered the codes she knew they were in deep trouble and headed for the emergency pods. She ran into another passenger, Hope and hurried her along to the evac deck. She settled Hope into a pod before getting herself into one. As soon as she was clear of the ship, she took over flying the pod. She wasn’t just going to crash she was hoping to land it somewhat safely.
On the planet’s surface Strife and Mayhem heard the chirping of their early warning system. The screen showed multiple vessels with three heading close to areas Mayhem, Menace and Strife had claimed. Only vessels containing attack forces were allowed through by the verexi. They wanted them dead although this planet was originally thought to be a refuge for them all. They wouldn’t be caught by surprise though.
Strife and his brothers are fa’rel created by the verexi to be a fighting force, but they were unable to control them. Now they battled those sent to the surface and salvaged whatever they could from the ships to make life better and safer here. Strife makes only one quick stop for weapons before locating the ship.
This is a favorite scene.
Lightning arced across the sky as he reached his destination, illuminating a small, oval vessel in the middle of a clearing. It was an odd design with no obvious engine or armaments and so small it couldn’t have more than a single passenger. A scout, he decided. And not a very good one.
They’d set up camp only a few meters from their ship, and while the bright yellow structure matched the local flora with some success, it was all one shade. That didn’t help it blend in. It was also lit up from inside, the warm light making it glow like a beacon in the gloom. Strife revised his earlier assessment. No soldier would be this careless. It had to be a trap.
He circled the camp cautiously. No one was outside, but someone was definitely inside the shelter. They didn’t even try to avoid casting a shadow as they went about their business. Based on what he could smell, they were preparing a meal—one that carried the scent of chemicals and the loamy aroma of… vegetation? He shuddered in revulsion. Killing them would be an act of mercy.
A bolt of lightning shot down from the sky, the flash illuminating the entire clearing in brilliant detail. Two targets. One choice. Strife ignored the shelter and went for the ship. He’d disable it first and then deal with the scout.
He was almost to the ship when the first clap of real thunder pealed. Until then, it had been a distant grumbling, but not anymore. Strife grinned and resisted the urge to roar into the deafening noise. He felt exactly like the storm—primed and ready to explode.
Another noise caught his attention. Someone sobbed in fear. He hadn’t heard that sound since his earliest years of captivity. They’d all slept in the same room back then, and sometimes one of them would cry out in their dreams, waking the others.
It sounded like that… only different. The voice was softer but with a glittering edge of raw terror. It wasn’t a sound any soldier would make.
Strife turned back and approached the shelter. He drew his longest blade and held it high. Then he glanced up at the storm-black sky and lowered his arm. More lightning forked across the sky, leaping from cloud to cloud in brilliant arcs, closely followed by more thunder. The clouds opened and loosed a torrent of rain. It pounded the ground like a thousand small fists. He was drenched in seconds, the rainwater soaking his fur and running down the curve of his horns to drip onto his shoulders.
The noise came again and he moved toward it, suddenly consumed by a need to offer comfort to whoever made that sound. His fingers tightened on the grip of his blade, a silent reminder that he was here to mete out punishment to an invader. They’d come here to do harm to him and his clan. They didn’t deserve compassion.
The next thunderclap was met by a terrified scream—a female’s scream. He’d only heard such things on vids and recordings, but he was certain.
He dashed to the front of the shelter, half expecting to find the enemy waiting in ambush. The area was empty apart from a silver packet of uneaten food sitting outside the door. It was the same vile stuff he’d smelled earlier. It would seem even the enemy had some limits to what they’d consume. The partially open door made his next move clear.
He charged inside, adrenaline pouring through his veins with his entire focus on surviving the first moments of battle… only a fight didn’t materialize. He found no obvious enemy. The only person in the tent was huddled in a corner, her hands clasped over her ears and her head bowed.
“Surrender and your end will be swift,” he snarled before his senses could register the total lack of threat.
The female looked up then, her mouth open in a silent scream of shock. She scrambled backward, cramming herself as far into the corner as she could manage. In the buttery light of the glow-pod he could make out some of her features. Large gray eyes, golden-brown skin, and a heart-shaped face that would have been attractive if it weren’t for the deep lines of fear etched into it.
“What species are you?” he demanded. He knew the name and description of all the verexi’s allies. She didn’t match any of them. In fact, she almost looked…
“Human,” the female said. “So yeah, no one is going to care if you kill me.”
He lowered his blade and then shook his head to clear the water from his eyes. They’d sent a human female. It didn’t make sense. “Why is a human working for the verexi? They despise your kind almost as much as they do mine.”
The female wrinkled her nose. “I don’t work for them. Even I have some standards. I don’t even work on their ships if I can help it. They smell disgusting.”
“The verexi or their ships?” Strife struggled to follow the conversation. He’d come prepared for battle… and now he was a little lost.
“Both, I guess, though their ships are always drones or AI piloted, so I’ve never met an actual verexi. Their ships smell nasty, like rotting lemons. Or what I imagine that would smell like. I’ve never seen a real lemon.” She shrugged. “I don’t get out much. This cruise was my first time off Nanu station. A chance to see the galaxy, you know?” The female dashed a hand across her wet cheeks and made a rueful, bitter sound. “Now that I’m out here, I just want to go home.”
He sorted through her tearful babble and latched on to her last statement. This was something he could understand. “You can’t go home.”
“Of course I can. I just need to wait for someone to answer the distress beacon.” Her voice softened to a desperate whisper. “Can’t I?”
“This planet is a prison. Those who come here stay here. No one is coming to rescue you.”
The female dropped her head, her shoulders slumping in abject misery. “I’ve died. I must have. I died and this is one of the nine hells.”
Hayes, Susan. Marked For Strife: An Alien Fated Mates Romance (Crashed And Claimed Book 2) Kindle Locations (171-212). Black Scroll Publications Ltd.. Kindle Edition.
From the moment Strife sees Rissa he knows something is different. From the first touch, he thinks she’s doing something but then he realizes she isn’t. The things he’s feeling are almost overwhelming and Rissa is affected as well.
Things heat up between them very quickly, and mating marks appear although they don’t know what they are at that point. Bysshe would be the one with answers.
There are plenty of ups and downs in this one as Rissa resigns herself to staying on this planet and having Strife as her mate. Strife has anger issues to resolve as well.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Susan!
Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!
Susan lives on Vancouver Island, off the Canadian west coast where the waters are patrolled by orcas, and the sighting of snowflakes leads to citywide panic. She’s jumped out of perfectly good airplanes on purpose and accidentally swum with sharks on the Great Barrier Reef.
If the world ends, she plans to survive as the spunky, comedic sidekick to the heroes of the new world, because she’s too short and out of shape to make it on her own for long.