The marketplace situated in the center of Crux’s capital was quiet at that time of the morning. It was something Lyra still couldn’t get used to, considering that during the peak hours, just as the Cygnus sun shimmered in the shifting, swirling sky, the marketplace was crowded, bustling, a loud place full of animated aliens and creatures, colors and sounds.
The only aliens in the marketplace that early were the Aludra who sold their goods, ranging from the fresh meat and crops to fabrics, to oils and spices, to home-wares.
As Lyra roamed down the center aisle, with stalls on both sides, the quiet rustling as the vendors set up for a busy day reaching her ears, she smiled to herself. It was one of her favorite times of day, the calm before the storm. The air was cold and she pulled the furs that she had clumsily made for herself tighter around her body. The cold season was coming. That was what Corona a.k.a her closest neighbor had told her.
It had been over two months since she’s first stepped foot on Crux since she had run away from her past. Lyra felt warmth across her chest, battling away the frigid cold that wound through her furred cloak. The same warmth she felt whenever she thought about her peanut. She caressed her bump, lovingly. The Lynx vendor she frequented came into view, located towards the very end of the middle aisle of the marketplace. A hulking Serpens appeared. He was situated behind his stall, bending over to heft pounds of the fresh fruit into the clear containers to keep them fresh.
When she had first meet Draco, she’d frozen up. The Serpens, aliens who resemble lizards with their yellow eyes and long tails, were the race that had originally captured her from the earth and kept her caged in the Pit. Lyra still didn’t know how long she’d been kept prisoner, but she’d been trained to fear the Serpens. So when she’d first seen Draco, she hadn’t reacted well. That had been over a month ago, however, and every time she was in the Capital, she made a point to do her business dealings with him, alone. Corona wouldn’t always be at her side and Lyra knew she had to get over her fears if she wanted to survive.
“Waletwa," She greeted in Cygnus, approaching the obsidian-colored counter-top of the stall.
Lyra didn’t know much Cygnus, but she’d picked up enough phrases over the past month to navigate her way around the markets and at her stall.
Draco straightened, eyeing her without saying a word. She’d discovered that most aliens on Crux were naturally suspicions beings. Corona had told her Crux was a colony for those that had nowhere else to go. That is operated under a ‘don’t ask, won’t tell’ type of policy. The beings there minded their own business and Lyra had learned not to take the frostiness she’d encountered to heart. None had been outright meant to her and she knew it would take time to develop a relationship with the aliens she came into contact with.
Lyra couldn’t lie...it was intimidating. But this life, the life she’d started to build with her unborn child, was the life she wanted, the one she’d chosen over returning to Earth. And she was determined as hell to not only make her business success but to integrate herself into life a Crux.
It was part of the reason why She bought a small dwelling in the capitol. Commuting from her home in the southern region of Crux to the capitol every day was not only expensive but tiring. So, she spent a few hours in the Capitol, when the stall open, and the rest of the week at her true home, in her peaceful, private sanctuary, where it was just herself, and the forest and valley.
“Waletwa,” Draco rasps, hunching back over to retrieve a container from the floor of his stall. He brought it around the front and set it down at her feet. Lyra had to crane her neck up to see him clearly since he was almost as tall as the other aliens.
"Vifez Levi," She asked. How much? in Cygnus, even though Lyra was sure her accent butchered the phrase. She couldn’t roll her tongue the way most beings could.
"Vigen" He replied, jerking his head, which roughly translated to ‘the same’. The same amount she’d been paying him whenever she required fresh alien fruits.
Cara nodded her head and fetched the coins from the pouch she had clenched in her fist. Even though she’d insisted that Corona didn’t come with her on her morning rounds anymore, it was hard sometimes to shake her nerves. It would be easy for an alien to take advantage of her, which was Corona’s main fear. They’d had a nasty fight about it earlier in the mouth, but Lyra had eventually persuaded her that she needed to learn her way to Crux if it was going to be her home. Her friend was concerned about her and she understands it pretty well. Since her fate worse than death. One that she doesn’t want to repeat.
Draco pocketed the coins that Lyra handed him and then his eyes flickered up the to road, towards her small trolley. “May I?”
He grunted in English, which surprised Lyra so much that she could blink up at him. She gave a hesitated nodded and watched him putting the heavy container into her small trolley. She bites her tongue. It was cold and her fingers were warmly tucked into her furs. Draco never had offered to help her before and she wondered if this was progress, if she’d finally cracked his hard shell, just a bit.
“Okay,” She murmured. “Thank you”
Cygnus didn’t have a phrase that translated to ‘Thank you’, but she said it often enough in English, even though whomever she was speaking to looked at her oddly when she did. She thanked all the vendors she worked with, all customers that brought from her, although, admittedly, it wasn’t many. He didn’t say anything when she said ‘thank you’ again. He simply jerked his head in a nod and passed her by. Over her shoulder, Lyra watched him walk away and she sighed. Her gaze returned to her trolley. It wasn’t much but was one of the useful things she possessed.
Lyra began her daily morning tasks, which included selling an alien vegetable and Perseus which similar to honey. Although, it was produced by the friendly purple bees that live on her small farm. The purple bees seem to attracted to the Auriga plants that she had planted. Flowers that hardly grow on Crux. That was progress to Lyra. She’d take it. It would take time for Cygnusians to accept her, to accept her business. But repeat customers were...excellent.
Cold wind stung Lyra’s face as she walked from the Capitol to her home. When she’s been working back Earth, after every shift, no matter how late, she’d always walk back home just like, not only to help air out the smells of cooked meat and frying oils from her hair but to cool her down. She wondering how cold this Crux cold season was. Lyra pulled her trolley harder even though her back was killing her. She needs a transport craft before her stomach growing bigger, but it’s too expensive to buy one. So, walking back home wasn’t an option. And when she saw her dwelling after a few more minutes, she smiled, anxiously.
Lyra walked by her small farm and stop in front of her cottage. She was so tired. Tired to the point of feeling cranky. Everything hurt. Her head hurt. Her arms hurt. Her legs hurt. Her back hurt. Even her ass. There was a dull pain in the bones of her butt-cheeks. Like if she’d taken a hard fall and landed on her bottom. She pulled in a deep, steadying breath, She was alive. And that was what mattered. Lyra felt a soft kick in her belly and she smiled tiredly, the now-familiar mix of shock, wonder, and nerves filling her chest. She rubbed her palm over, the small mound of her stomach. This was another thing that had changed. She was now pregnant with a half-alien baby. A sense of love unfurled. Oh, she still felt the trickle of panic, but this baby was hers, no matter what happens in the future.
Lyra let out a signed and fell to the couch as soon as she walks into her small living room. She exhaled wearily, almost fall asleep when a noise came from across the room. Lyra grimaced. Was everything on this planet refused to leave her alone? It was on the tip of her tongue to say it out loud. Then, she remembered the similar practices on Earth to kept her mouth shut.
“There’s food,” he said. “Come and eat”
Lyra tried to ignore him. But it’s hard to think when she smelled something wonderful and realized the scent was coming from a hamper that sat nearby. She grumbling and move to knelt to open the hamper, and shook out the leaf cloth onto the moss. There was an entire roasted Vyre bird, freshly baked loaves of bread, and some of the strange but delicious vegetative that she had planted.
Lyra noticed that he was staring at her belly. But, she keeps ignoring him and pushed her dark hair back from her face. Suddenly, memories crashed over her, and even as her pulse sped up, she let them come in. She stopped, breathing deeply. Broken images of the aliens attack the Pit. The fear, the pain, the fighting, having no idea if she’ll survive. Lyra blew out a shaky breath. She’d been through so much over the last few months, culminating in being dragged across the galaxy by Serpens slavers and sold to a wild desert arena. She’d been forced to fight for the sick pleasure of bloodthirsty spectators...until she’d been rescued.
Her throat tightened, one of her hands curling into a fist, and she struggled not to fight against the memories. She knew blocking them or ignoring them would only make things worse. She had to comfort what happened and find a way to move on. Lyra itched for her notebook and pen. Hell, it had started long before that...as a young girl pouring out her broken heart in her diary.
She pulled in a deep, steadying breath. She was alive. That was what mattered. She lifted her gaze and saw him staring at her, even though she tried harder to ignore his presence. It was hard since he came back into her life like a fucking nightmare.
Ixion Dionysus. The great General of Ark-ab Prior.
He leaned against the wall with folded arms. Lyra gulped. He was a beast, his face broad, his chin square. His hair was orange and black. Not dyed orange and black-dye tended to make hair matte and stark. This looked entirely natural. She knew she should be afraid. A guy with tiger-striped hair staring at her as he did should terrify her, but he didn’t. Well over six feet tall, with wide shoulders and one arm made entirely of strong silvery-gray metal. It wasn’t bulky, but sleek and fascinating. Especially to Lyra.
When he was on his planet, he went bare-chested with only a simple leather harness. Outside, he tended to cover up more. Not that she thought he was hiding his enhancements, it was more to keep a lower profile until he was ready to show exactly what he was.
Her gaze shifted to his face. She saw his eyes flash, a neon-blue glow through the shadow. Ixion Dionysus was a barbarian. “Why are you still here? Aren’t you should be-”
He kept staring at her, his face not showing a flicker of emotion. Her hand dropped to her belly again. He was also the father of her child. It was mindbogglingly strange that she went from a practical, Army-trained scientist to the victim of alien slavers, and then in the blink of an eye, she was now pregnant with alien’s baby and living on a strange planet, alone.
He strode toward her, “You shouldn’t wander alone. It’s dangerous for someone as vulnerable as you- ” His eyes narrowed, “A fragile human female”
Lyra cleared her throat. She ignored the insults and glared at him, “Unlike you, I have to feed myself. I don’t have the liberty to sit still and look pretty all the time”
And there was something else that she wasn’t going to admit to Ixion. Pregnancy was playing havoc with her hormones. She didn’t dare to stay with him, alone. She shifted, her thighs rubbing together, and her gaze dropped to his unaltered hand. It was big, wide, and long-fingered. Fully capable of holding sword...or stroking a woman.
Dammit, Lyra. Cool it. She switched to look at his hand and its golden skin. She knew it would feel the warmth against her...
Okay, the pregnancy hormones were seriously a pain in her ass, and a few other places.
She was well aware that Ixion didn’t remember that night in the desert. He didn’t remember their connection in the darkness, didn’t remember touching her. Her stomach littered with something she was loath to call disappointment. He’d been captured in the desert and his beast was unstable. The side effect was a blur of memory afterward.
But she remembered. Every hot moment of it. Desire flooded through her, stronger than anything she’d ever felt before. Damn pregnancy.
The unfortunate fact was that since she’d come to his place, he’d been cool toward her. There was no sign of interest in his eyes, no indication he felt anything for her. Her belly clenched. He’d accused her of being a lure- an enemy to his kind. She’d overheard it the night before she runs away. A faint narrowing of his eyes, “You don’t have to do all of this” He nodded to himself, ” It’s too dangerous to live here alone. Never mind, you’ll come with me to the Ark-ab Prior”
He nodded again, “Tomorrow” He stepped closer, “The king had sent a spaceship to us. He wouldn’t mind if you come along”
Lyra looked up sharply and stood. “Hell no! I’m not going anywhere with you”
He snarled as he battles the beast that lurked inside him for control. His human side knew she was off-limits. Lyra gasped when he growled dangerously. Her entire body reacted to the sight of the tall, attractive male, and the sensation of danger radiating off him. This isn’t fair at all. She swallowed, her breathing increased and fear jolted through her when the shock wore off. His long silky hair cascaded down over his shoulders and chest, as free and unrestrained as he appeared to be at that moment. The blue clothing he wore hugged his broad shoulders, impressive muscular arms, and outlined his trim waist.
An air of danger emanated from him when his dark gaze seemed to fasten on her, swept down her entire body slowly, and a soft growl rumbled deep within his throat. His jaw clenched, the muscled tensing, apparent even in the dim light. He took a step forward, more of a predatory motion than the way a man would move, advancing on her slowly. Her gaze lowered to his muscular thighs, outlined in his tight black pants, all the way down to his black shoes. He radiated strength and sex appeal and she swallowed hard. Her heart speeds up, her breathing increased, and her body became aware of him as a purely male being. Holy cow!
He didn’t speak, instead regarded her silently now, his gaze trained on her face, and as she studied him, she swore she saw a hungry look on his handsome features. His tongue darted out to wet his lower lips, the pink tip a taunt of something forbidden but tempting, and his dark eyes narrowed as if he could read her mind. She wanted to kiss him, longed to know how it would feel to have him touch her again. Of course, that wouldn’t happen. He hated her. “Please don’t do this to me”
She whispered but then spoke louder. “You hate human- hate me for being one. You wouldn’t want to have an enemy living in the same place as yours. I don’t belong with you..just like you don’t want me to”
A low snarl passed his parted lips as he took another step in her direction. The urge to flee increased for Lyra but she held still, having read reports that his kind was really fast. Their altered DNA, depending on what animal it had been combined with, accounted for that. Ixion had been mixed with canine and could certainly run her down if she fled. She wasn’t sure if she should scream, attempt to talk her way out of the frightening situation, or just hope he meant no harm. He moved closer.
“Yes, I despite human” His voice came out harsh, cold and scary.
She had to clear her throat, which wanted to closed with fear. “You should go”
Lyra realized her future seemed questionable at that moment. Ixion hated her and he spoke in a way she knew could turn deadly. She couldn’t find the right words, didn’t know how to defuse the situation. He took another step toward her. Oh God, please have mercy, she thought frantically. He would reach her with just a few steps. “I’m not a lure. Nor an enemy”
She blurted. “I was also a victim to the Serpens”
Hot tears of anxious threatened to spill but she rapidly blinked them back. “I-” she swallowed.
“A victim” His dark gaze narrowed and a dangerous sound emanated from deep within the back of his throat. “You’re torturing me, female”
Pain lanced through her chest at his harsh words followed quickly by all-consuming anger. Torturing him?
"The hell I’m torturing you! I did nothing to you” She frantically shook her head, her gazes locked with his. “I swear it was you who hurt me more”
Ixion closed the distance between them. Lyra felt the blood drain from her face as she watched raw emotions play over his features. The good intentions that held her in place scattered when she saw his feral look, heard his pained, harsh snarl. She spun and sprinted away in panic.
However, Ixion grabbed her before she reaches the door. His large body pinned hers against the door and rolled her onto her back. Lyra attempted to shove him off but he didn’t budge. Her palms futilely pushed against his steely chest. She moaned when his thigh pressed between her. Stupid hormone! It’s not the time to-
His hands gentled when they gripped her arms, jerked them quickly above her head, and he enclosed her wrists within one of his hands. He clenched his teeth, still showing fang-like canine teeth, and growled deep inside his chest. He vibrated against her body with the very terrifying sound that arousing her further.
“Please don’t hurt me,” She panted.
“I should kill you female” He whispered Lyra stiffened with shock and dread but then she took a quick breath. It wasn’t easy but she fought down the panic that tried to overtake her. “But, I can’t. He won’t let me”
His palm slid higher until he cupped one of her breasts with a hot, large hand. Alarm shot through her when he gently squeezed. “Soft”
Lyra gasped as his warm breath fanned across her collarbone a second before his hot, wet mouth touches her skin. His teeth scraped the sensitive skin as he flicked a raspy-textured tongue over her neck. Lyra jerked under him and tightly squeezed her eyes closed. Pleasure shot from her nipple straight into her belly that quivered. She bit her lip to silence a moan, shocked that she’d react that strongly to him, again. He sucked harder, sending jolts through her entire body. He didn’t hurt her but she knew he could have. Liquid heat dampened her thighs, proof of how turned on she’d become.
His mouth pulled back with a quick lick. Lyra swallowed hard as she stared into a pair of intense eyes. A soft growl came from the back of his throat. “You couldn’t run away anymore, Lyra”
He spoke in a raspy, sexy voice. “He wouldn’t let it happen. This is what you’d to me. I can’t stop him”
She stared into his eyes as his words sank in. Mortification from her overpowering response to his seduction left speechless. He growled softly, “My beast won’t let you go, ever. This is what you get for waking the monster”
She moans against his lips when that little spark of connection raced through her, as it always did. What she felt for the alien male before she was...unparalleled. She’d never felt anything like it before and she knew she never would again. Only him. Only Ixion. Dammit!
Before she can answer Ixion lean down and kiss her. Lyra freezes instantly and closed her eyes. She lets her tongue explore her lips leisurely. His strong, powerful hands roam her body. Lyra catches in the air in a reflex and watched him watched her, intensely. “You’re mine, Lyra. I’ll kill anyone that tries to take you away from me”
He growls. His teal eyes have a look in them...that makes her cheeks flushed and her body grows hot. “Mine!”
Oh, God! What have I done...
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