USA Today Bestselling Author
They took her from me.
My mate is in danger. And I will do anything to save her. Even take part in the Trials of Kalumbu, the most dangerous games in the galaxy.
Can I trust him?
I’ve been abducted by aliens, tortured, imprisoned, and now dropped onto a planet filled with monsters. My day couldn’t get any worse. Until an alien with horns and a tail arrives as my knight in shining loincloth. Is this yet another trick or is he really here to save me?
As this book opens Silas is settling in to watch an IG hour of the Trials of Kalumbu. Each Artep crew member is requited to watch for an hour daily, looking for more Peritans (humans).
It seems several peritans were kidnapped around the same time and brought her to go through the trials unless they had other skills the Naga could use instead.
The trials are brutal and it’s been discovered that even the winners don’t survive.
Currently the only two survivors of the Trials are on board the Artep, Fay and her mate Vruhag were rescued not long ago and any new attempt would be more difficult now that they know someone’s out there to save them. The other human is Penny and her mate Qong, Penny worked on the spacestation and traded maintenance for passage for herself and Qong;
As Silas watches the contestants are presented 2 male aliens and a female peritan. Not just any peritan, she’s Silas’ mate. Now he has to save her. Only the captain of the Artep won’t risk the attempt. Silus won’t be deterred and steals a shuttle to help her before it’s too late.
Pria, has gone through much already starvation, sensory deprivation and torture all while naked in her cell. Now the bars have dropped away and she’s hurtling downward. She awakens to bird song and surveys the area around her until the birds take flight enmass. She doesn’t question why, knowing they were most likely fleeing for their lives and runs in the same direction they are flying.
After escaping one danger, she faces another, one of the contestants I assumed, she does get a couple of spears out that encounter. Continuing with the aid of the spears, she hears an engine, followed by a flash and a loud crash.
This is a favorite scene.
Everything had happened so fast. The alien emerging from the flames, the monster, the fight.
At some point during the battle, I’d realised that the alien had a tail. He wasn’t human after all. From afar, he looked human enough, but up close it was a very different story. What I’d thought was a helmet were actually horns; two huge, curled horns sprouting from the sides of his head. Back home, I would have assumed they were a prop, some weird goat costume, but here, I didn’t doubt for a second that they were real. He was an alien. An alien with horns. His ears weren’t human either, too pointy and big. His intense brown eyes were framed by bushy eyebrows, while a perfectly groomed goatee graced his angular chin. His chest was bare except for tufts of hair. Usually, I wasn’t a fan of chest hair, but in his case, it only made him even more masculine. He wasn’t quite as naked as me, even though the only garment he wore was a leather loincloth around his waist. It would have looked comical in any other circumstance, but not here in the jungle. The flames from the wreck illuminated the scene enough to see that his legs were covered in thick fur, the same maroon colour as his long hair. It looked so soft and fluffy that I was tempted to reach out and run my fingers through it, but I thought better of it. I couldn’t be sure yet if he was friend or foe.
My gaze moved further down and I couldn’t help but suck in a sharp breath when I saw that his legs ended in hooves rather than feet. That realisation made the pain in my own feet flare up again. I grit my teeth, trying to suppress the urge to wince.
I was still on the ground where the alien had pushed me. That had been a total dick move. I would have ducked. Not that I was used to battling deadly monsters, but I had a good survival instinct.
“I would have ducked,” I said aloud, realising the alien was staring at me just like I’d been checking him out. “I would have ducked.”
He held out a hand to help me up. “I apologise. I had to make sure.”
Ignoring his hand, I sat up a little straighter, but didn’t stand. My feet were on fire. I didn’t think I’d be able to walk any further tonight.
The alien turned in the direction the monster had disappeared, his ears twitching. He picked up my two spears and stuck them through holes in his belt. His own spear was still embedded in the monster.
“We are safe for now, but we shouldn’t linger. The quecklra might return with friends.”
“The kwe… what?”
“Quecklra,” he repeated more slowly. “One of the most dangerous predators here on Kalumbu. We’re lucky to have escaped with our lives.”
“Kalumbu? Is that what this place is called? Why are you here? Are you with-“
“No time,” he interrupted not unkindly. “We have to go now.”
“We? Why should I trust you?”
He turned back to me, his expression dark. “Because I’m the only hope you have of ever leaving this planet alive.”
Good enough for me. He didn’t feel like a threat. And even if he was, it wasn’t as if I could run away. I was a sitting duck, ready to be eaten by the next monster that passed this way. He was my best option.
“I don’t think I can walk,” I admitted with a nod towards my feet. I didn’t want to have a closer look at my shredded legs. Once I saw the damage, I may no longer be able to hold back the tears.
I watched him as his gaze wandered to my feet. His eyes went wide, but my attention was captured by his ears. They curled up, the ends drooping like wilting flowers. I felt strangely sad at the sight.
He said something in another language, harsh words that were clearly curses. “I will make them pay,” he muttered in English, “I swear it to you. They will suffer as they made you suffer.”
He knelt by my side, his furry knees touching my bare thighs. A jolt of warmth shot through me where we touched. How strange. But certainly not the strangest thing happening to me today, so I ignored it.
“I will carry you,” he said. It wasn’t a question. He wasn’t asking for permission.
I should have protested. Shouldn’t let this stranger take control. Instead, I asked, “Where to?”
He tapped the leather brace around his right wrist. A topographic map appeared in the air above it. “The shuttle’s AI calculated the safest shelter options just before we crashed and sent the data to my commband. The closest one is only six farstrides from here.”
Commband? Farstrides? AI? I had so many questions, but before I could ask even a single one, he slipped one arm underneath my knees and another under my arms and lifted me. I was squeezed against his chest – his bare chest – while he carried me easily, without a single groan or huff of exhaustion. I tried not to lean my head against his bare skin, but I couldn’t help but breathe in his earthy scent. Roasted chestnuts with a hint of thyme. His skin was warm, hotter than it should have been despite the temperate night air. He would be great to keep close if the temperatures fell overnight.
No. I erased that thought from my mind.
All I wanted was to get home alive, in one piece, without more mental scars than I already had.
We continued in silence, both of us listening for threats. The alien seemed to have better night vision than me; he didn’t stumble even once. The further we got away from the crash site, the less I could see as the glow of the flames was blocked out by giant trees, until I couldn’t even make out the alien’s face above me.
The alien. We’d never introduced ourselves to each other. Fighting a nightmarish monster had taken priority.
“I’m Pria,” I whispered.
“Pree-ah,” he echoed without changing his fast gait. “Beautiful.”
I waited for him to tell me his name, but he stayed quiet.
“And you are…?” I tried eventually.
More silence. I took the hint and kept my mouth shut.
My legs were burning with pain, made worse every time they bumped against a branch, bush or root. Silus clearly tried to find an easy passage through the forest, but the undergrowth was too thick. Several times, he had to turn back and try a different route.
Exhaustion was getting the better of me. I let my head rest against the alien’s chest and closed my eyes. The deep drum beat of his heart was a soothing lullaby. Sleep embraced me, carrying me away from the pain-
I groaned softly, frustrated that I didn’t get to have a nap. Then I realised I’d been about to fall asleep in the arms of a stranger, and not only that, an alien with horns, hooves and a tail. I couldn’t let my guard down. He may seem like a good guy, but it was very possible that he was in league with my captors. What were the chances of a knight in shining fur just happened to crash his spaceship when I needed him? I had to keep my wits about me and be wary of the alien. This could all be part of some twisted experiment. Find out how long the human takes to trust the good cop after being released by the bad cops. Something like that.
Silus gently lowered me to the ground, setting me down on something soft and warm. I couldn’t see a thing.
“Where are we?” I asked, keeping my voice low just in case.
“A tree cave. Is there something wrong with your eyes?” He sounded concerned.
“No, but it’s pitch black out there. Humans can’t see in the dark.”
“Oh. They never said.”
“They?” I asked sharply. I’d been right! He hadn’t just crashed here by accident. It had been part of the plan. I scuffled away from him, ignoring the pain shooting through my feet and legs, but I bumped against something hard almost immediately. Wood. Part of a tree?
“It’s a long story. You’re not the first Peritan I’ve met. Now stop moving, you’ll injure yourself further. Let me look at your wounds.”
Skye MacKinnon. My Big Furry Alien Satyr – Skye MacKinnon (Kindle Locations 404-470). Kindle Edition.
The surprise attack, a somewhat safe place to rest, treating of wounds and some getting to know you talk before sleep.
Of course, there’s still the problem of getting off the planet. That is solved in a most unexpected way.
I love this series and the way the characters grow to love and respect each other. There’s plenty of hold your breath action, emotion, and yes plenty of sizzle.
I can’t wait for the next book!
5 Contented Purrs for Skye!
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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.