USA Today Bestselling Author
She survived impact…
But her dreams burned up on re-entry.
Spending her inheritance on a luxury cruise is the most reckless thing Hope has ever done, and she’s loving every second of it… right up to the explosion.
Now she’s stuck on a strange planet filled with countless dangers and just one chance to survive. The problem? He’s huge, scarred, and the scariest thing on this planet. He’s also the sexiest male she’s ever seen. His protection comes at a price, though. Her.
The life she envisioned is gone forever, but she might be on the brink of finding something better… if she can let go of what she wants to embrace what she needs.
When they heard the warning signal of a vessel coming toward their planet, Mayhem, Strife and Menace were working to fix a hole in Mayhem’s roof. They stopped and prepared to fight whatever mercenaries the verexi had sent this time. Prisoners on this planet, they have had to fight for their lives many times as the verexi try to eliminate them. They’ve salvaged what they could from those they have defeated and were doing their best to build lives here. Perhaps this time there would be much more to salvage.
Hope had been getting a massage when the emergency alarms went off. The AI didn’t give her clothing back and she was stuck with just the robe and slippers. Fortunately, she ran into Rissa who got her settled into one of the escape pods.
Her landing was not smooth it was a crash and she almost choked on the suspension gel that filled the pod, she did lose consciousness though and when she woke the gel had flowed out the open pod door. The pod was floating on an inflated ring on a massive river. She wasn’t sure she had the swimming skills to make it to shore.
She balanced herself on the edge of the ring to wash off the gel and was startled by something brushing against her leg. This of course caused her to plunge into the water. Because of that she wasn’t with the pod when Menace finds it and sinks it after destroying the beacons.
He finds his quarry on a rock in the river, from what he could see unarmed and possibly asleep. He manages to get her off the rock and to the shore safely but there is still the issue of the robe she insists on wearing.
This is a favorite scene.
“My eyes are going to stay on you until I’m certain you’re not going to attack me the first time I look away. As for your first question, my gear is stashed nearby so it didn’t get wet. Unlike you, my time in the water was planned.”
“You are clearly having a better day than I am,” she grumbled. “I bet you didn’t even have to deal with your luxury cruise ship getting attacked and crashing today. Now, will you please turn around and give me a moment of privacy to get dressed?”
“Your obsession with covering up makes no sense, but if it gets you out of the water, I will turn my back. If you try anything…” He trailed off, leaving the threat unspoken.
“I’ll talk the whole time, so you know where I am.”
“Good. Tell me about the ship that brought you here.”
She counted to three before looking up. Menace had turned away, so she stood up, tugged open the loose knot she’d tied in the belt, and did her best to wring out the robe before putting it back on.
While she dressed, she told him about the Bountiful Harvest. How it was a civilian cruise ship full of females like her, not an enemy vessel. It didn’t even have weapons as far as she knew.
She didn’t dare try to undo the tow rope, so she did her best to ignore it. Once she was covered, she said, “Thank you. Now I’m ready. And you can stop threatening me. I have no intentions of doing anything stupid. If I run away, my survival time could be measured in hours. If I attack you, that time shortens to minutes or possibly seconds.”
“If what you said is true, I suspect it would be seconds,” he said. “Why were you on this cruise? What was the point?”
Oh boy. This was the bit she hadn’t wanted to admit. Could this day get any more humiliating? “It was a mating cruise. Human women pay to be pampered, travel to a few planets, and get introduced to eligible males from compatible species. Hell, we even saw a few noncompatible ones. I’m not sure what they were after, but none of them were interested in me, so I didn’t ask.”
“Why would you pay to find a mate? Did yours die?”
“Die? No. I’ve never been married or mated. I haven’t even dated much. I wanted to see the worlds and maybe fall in love with someone.” She dropped her head, embarrassed. “That didn’t happen. No one was interested in me. One of them told me I should be ashamed of myself for even trying.”
“No one?” His tone was one of utter disbelief. “Were these males defective?”
“No.” She pointed to the spots on her face. “They think I am.”
“Then they are stupid,” Menace declared and then glanced over his shoulder. He gave a light tug on the rope she still had tied around her waist. “This way. If we hurry, we can be under shelter before the worst of the storm reaches us.”
The worst of the storm? That did not sound promising. “I’ll do my best to keep up.”
He didn’t say anything else until they were both on dry land. He led her through a field of the flame-colored grass and into the trees while she did her best to look at anything besides him and his really great ass.
The grass was soft and easy to walk on, enabling her to keep up with him without too much trouble. Once they were under the vibrant orange canopy of the forest, he stopped and then turned to face her.
Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t stop herself from indulging in a brief moment of appreciation for the vision of male perfection in front of her. And yes, he was big all over, from the thick trunks of his thighs to the broad planes of his chest, and everything in between.
“Um, aren’t you going to get dressed?”
“In a moment. First, I need to do something about you.” He drew a knife from where it had been lashed to his biceps and eyed her thoughtfully.
Hope backed up until the rope tightened and she couldn’t move any farther away. The blade in his hand held all her attention, looking well-used and dangerously sharp.
“Don’t hurt me.” The words were out of her mouth before she knew it.
He scowled at her. “Are you going to hurt me?”
“No. Of course not. Not that I think I could if I wanted to, but like I already said, I have no intention of trying.”
“I have no interest in harming you unless you give me a reason.” He softened his voice and lowered the hand holding the knife.
“Then why are you holding that?” She pointed to the blade.
“To fix that thing you insist on wearing. It will slow you down as much in this forest as it did in the water.”
“Fix it how?” she asked suspiciously.
“It needs to be trimmed.” He twisted his hand around the braided leather rope, shortening it slightly and bringing him a step closer to her.
“You’re going to use that? Um, don’t you have something smaller and less lethal looking?”
He actually smiled. The expression softened his features and made the skin around his eyes crinkle. “This is the smallest blade I have. Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing.”
“You go around cutting the clothes off a lot of females?”
“No. You’ll be the first.”
“The first? You’re not filling me with confidence here.” Hope sighed and lowered her gaze. “But you’re going to do it anyway. Aren’t you?”
“I’ve never seen a female in the flesh before, so no. I have not done this before. Hold still.”
He was beside her in a second, and the next thing she knew he had hold of her left sleeve. He cut through the seam at her shoulder, the tip of the knife so close to her skin it made her shiver in fear mixed with something else. Something she didn’t expect. Anticipation?
This was insane. He’d never even seen a woman before, so whatever was going on, it wasn’t attraction. Not for him. Desperation, maybe. More likely curiosity. They weren’t even the same species, and none of this was part of any plan she’d made for her future.
It only took a minute for him to cut away both sleeves and drop them on the ground by her feet. Then he kneeled in front of her and raised the knife again.
“Whoa! What are you doing now?” she asked.
“Cutting this shorter so you can walk.”
“Oh. Right.” She crossed her now-bare arms over her chest and tried to relax. Not the easiest thing to do when a huge, naked, and insanely attractive alien was kneeling at her feet. “Don’t make it too short.”
The second the words left her lips, she wanted to take them back and replace them with something less inane and ridiculous. Of all the things she had to worry about right now, showing too much skin wasn’t even on her list.
His only response was a low grunt. He made a cut just above her knee, pulling the fabric away from her leg as he worked.
She did as he asked and turned in place, hyperaware of every movement as the knife trimmed away more and more of her only piece of clothing. The knife never touched her skin, and he never laid a hand on her except to move the fabric.
When he finished, he gathered up the trimmings and handed them to her.
That’s when it happened. Her hand brushed his in what should have been a brief and inconsequential contact… Only it wasn’t.
She swayed forward, leaning toward him as he rose from the ground. Her admiration of his appearance changed to something else—desire. She wanted to touch him again. To stroke his fur-covered body and feel for herself whether his muscles were as hard as they looked. She craved contact and so much more. She wanted him. Without a thought or even a scrap of sense, she dropped the bundle of fabric and splayed her hands across his hard chest.
Whatever madness had taken over, it must have infected Menace, too. Instead of pushing her away, he made a low, rumbling noise deep in his chest. He gripped the belt of her robe and used it to pull her in closer as he bent down to nuzzle the side of her neck.
His fangs grazed her skin and she trembled in anticipation, her pussy suddenly wet with desire. Her clit throbbed and her breath caught in her throat. Not long ago, she’d thought he was a monster determined to eat her. Now she wanted to devour him. What in the nine hells was happening right now?
Hayes, Susan. Marked For Menace: An Alien Fated Mates Romance (Crashed And Claimed Book 4) Kindle Locations (478-542). Black Scroll Publications Ltd.. Kindle Edition.
Things heat up very quickly and they barely make it to the supply cave before the storm hits. They do begin to get to know each other beyond the attraction as well.
There’s a lot of dangerous things on this planet, and they need to survive them and get the rest of the supplies from the pod Menace sunk.
I love the way this story progresses, while it’s kindle melting sizzling it’s also heartwarming and hopeful.
I can’t wait for 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.