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Two (Heads) Are Better Than One P1

Two (Heads) Are Better Than One Part 1

I grab the brush and start to give Titan a rubdown. With only one person to take care of all the horses in the stable out back of my property, there’s only one me for a job that should be the duty of at least three, maybe four people.

As it is, I have to rotate which horses I deal with daily, and already I’m behind by at least three days.

Fuck you, Carlo. Fuck you to the deepest pit of hell, all seven circles swirling in around you to take your soul to the blackest depths.

I truly hate my ex-fiancé, I do. Heartless, spineless ass that he was, he dumped me as soon as the test results from the fertility doctor came back.

Sorry, Miss Stamper, but your eggs continue to be too immature to be fertilized successfully. It’s why your cycle has been so unsteady since the onset of puberty. There’s nothing we can do but try the clomid again, but I think—

Yeah, only a few days later Carlo was gone, probably already shacking up with another nameless floozy like he had been before we met.

I love you, Rosalie, I do. But I want kids, and if you can’t have them, I want to be able to find someone who can give them to me.

Fortunately, this horse ranch is mine, a legacy passed down to me from my late father. Carlo had helped before he’d up and dumped me, so I had the place all to myself now.

Whoopee.

I hope that shot to the mouth I gave him left a scar the size of the diamond of my old engagement ring. I made sure I gave it back to him after I made him eat my fist.

Then I burned whatever he’d left at the house in a steel barrel in the middle of the horse run. He deserved it.

Titan whickers and I smile back at him. I like to think it’s his way of communicating, telling me he appreciates what I do for him and his little harem in the back. One of the mares is about to foal in a few weeks, and she’s been testy as of late. I don’t blame her. The male horse gets to rut, and the female gets to push out a gangly-legged, adorably awkward foal after 60 weeks of waddling around the extra horse run. It’s smoother, and I like to think that the ground might be a bit softer for their hooves. If I had to stand up to sleep, I wouldn’t want to be doing it on ground as hard as cement.

A noise behind me has me on alert, and my eyes flicker to the shotgun my father left in his gun case in the house. Since I live alone now, I figure it is wise to have it on me always, especially when it was late at night like it is now. Since it’s only me taking care of the ranch now, it would be stupid of me to think that people would leave a single female alone. Usually it is when you are least safe.

I run for the gun as I see a flicker of blond hair crossing into the stable doors. Grabbing it, I put it up to my shoulder as I cock it, the movements almost intrinsic now instead of practiced over many years. It reminds me of when my father first taught me to use a gun.

In protection, Rosie. Always only for protection.

A man, both good-looking and somehow foreign, is standing there in the doorway, his hands folded in front of him like he’s waiting for me to speak. When I don’t and simply lift the gun higher so I could see through the scope, he puts his hands up in both a halting and defensive gesture.

A hint of a smile plays on his wide, sensuous mouth.

“Good evening, Miss. I didn’t mean to startle you,” he says. I’ve heard that one before. I mean, not really, but it sounds good in the movies I’ve seen. The one’s right before the chick gets kidnapped or knocked over the head, or maybe a chloroform-drenched rag is clamped over her mouth.

“Who are you? What do you want? If it’s money, I don’t have any. The only thing I have are these horses.” I jerk my head toward Titan. He whinnies softly back at me like he’s saying, you’re on your own sister.

“I don’t want money,” he tells me amiably. “I want to talk. My brethren and I have come from quite a distance to see you. I was told that you need help on this…ranch. Is that so?”

I nod my head, a halting, jerky movement. “I do, but usually people looking for work don’t come after dark. They’re liable to get their nuts shot off if they move too suddenly.” I breathe in once. “And it’s usually nice to call ahead.”

I didn’t trust this man at all.

“I understand your reticence.” This guy talks like someone from another time, the words tripping off lightly, but still sounding stilted, as if it has been a while since he’s spoken with another human being. “I just wanted to—”

He moves this time, and I go to pull the trigger when the gun is suddenly gone, pulled right out of my hands by some unseen force as I trip forward, nearly face planting into the clay that was carefully swept to cover the gravel underneath. I catch myself before falling, and look up to see that this man—this strange, unwelcome man, is holding the gun lengthwise before stretching his hands to either side, his left on the barrel, his right at the butt.

I watch and listen as he bends the entire thing on a metallic screech without even breaking a sweat. My mouth drops open, and I wince when I see him throw the now u-shaped piece of metal off to the side in an easy toss.

“How—”

“In a moment, my dear, in a moment.”

He comes forward, his arm outstretched as if to shake my hand. I’m completely unarmed, the man just turned a gun into a pretzel, and he’s smiling like we’re meeting for a casual business lunch.

Something tells me he’s not here to kill me, so I shake his hand and let my arm fall limply to my side.

“I’d like to start again, my dear, by saying good evening and introducing myself,” he says. “My name is Dryx, and I come with three of my…companions.”

“What are you?” I whisper. No human being could bend metal like that, no matter how ripped they were. He turned my father’s favorite gun into an oversized horseshoe.

His smile falters and he jerks his head slightly.

“Aspar. Malek. Xaro.”

Three men filter into the room, moving as smooth as grease sluicing over metal. Their booted feet barely make a peep against the ground, and I have to wonder if I stepped into the stable, or into a completely other world.

“These are my companions, Aspar, the one with the brown hair and dark eyes, Malek, the gentleman with black hair and green eyes, and Xaro, the redheaded man with the hazel eyes.” He looks at me like he’s gauging whether or not I got it all as I look into his light blue, piercing eyes. They’re like ice. “What we are is visitors to your world, a planet that still holds a fruitful plenty. Our own has been desecrated by wars amongst our kind and it has led us to seek out our futures in other galaxies.”

He smiles, his pillowy lips splitting to show white, even teeth. They’re a dentist’s wet dream.

“We’ve studied your planet, and you, for some time now and like what we see. You are quite alone, ever since that man left in a hurry. Carlos, was it?”

“Carlo,” I correct bitterly, wondering how long the man—or should I say men, if that’s what they could be considered—have been watching me.

“Yes, well you are good to be rid of him.” He nods. “Aspar is as silent as the breeze when he wants to be, and even before he left you, this Carlo was seeing other women. Many of them, actually. Aspar has the photographs to prove it if you wish to peruse them.”

I scowl, though I was probably stupid to have believed Carlo when he’d said I was the only one he wanted to be with in the first place. When we tried starting to have kids and he asked me to marry him, I thought I’d tamed the player in him.

Stupid, Rosalie. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I shake my head. “No. I’m done with Carlo. I hope he contracts a debilitating new form of STD that will shrink his dick until it grows into a vagina.” I mean it, every blessed syllable.

Dryx chuckles and I can’t help but think he is a pleasant sort for one who’d had a gun pointed at him a couple of minutes ago. I smile in return, knowing that at least I amuse my uninvited guests—the first I’ve had in many weeks.

“We were hoping to speak to you tonight, at any rate. Would it be possible we could go into the house and have a nice sit-down, as you call it? We have much to discuss, and perhaps an offer for you in exchange for letting us help you around the ranch. It looks to be too much for anyone to attend to on their own, though you do an admirable job.”

The other three haven’t said a word, though the one with the red hair gives a ready smile, mischief sparkling in his eyes as he gazes around the inside of my stables.

“My apologies for taking up most of the chatter,” Dryx tells me as we start to walk toward the house. “As the highest ranking and oldest amongst us, it is my duty to introduce the four of us. It’s just the ways of our people.”

I wonder if they read minds, as I had been just thinking about why the other three were so silent.

“Though Aspar is the next oldest, he is the quietest. Both Xaro and Malek can be quite entertaining and witty and I guess that comes with their age.”

“That’s true enough,” Malek says as he takes a glance at the slower-moving Xaro from the corner of his eyes. “That is, when we want to be.”

I don’t know why, but I shiver, a delicious ripple zips down my spine at the husky timbre of his voice. Like liquid sex dipped in a layer of fudge, I feel the ambience of his words underscoring a deeper, hidden meaning behind them. What illicit secrets they hold will have to wait, because once again, Dryx is speaking.

“The wars that tore our world apart not only ravaged the once fruitful land, but also the people on it,” he says. “Our race is dying out, and many of our kind are fleeing the planet to look for and populate other worlds.”

“We found the earth quite pretty from above,” Malek says. “All green and blue, two of our favorite colors.”

“Much of the sea of our own home is yellow and toxic. No palatable water for miles, and some people who live in the barrens die before making it to a freshwater source.”

“Fresh? Ha!” Xaro exclaims. “It’s piss-water if you ask me. Tastes vile and does absolutely disgusting things if not treated properly. And after it has been treated, there’s simply no nutritional value in it at all. The treatments burn and destroy anything of worth. It’s merely that or dehydrate.”

It sounds horrible, and I can’t say I blame them for leaving their home of…wherever.

“How old are you all, if you don’t mind me asking?” I don’t know if it is in poor taste where they were from, but to hear them laugh, I suppose it is not.

“Like I said, my dear, I am the oldest.” I open the door to my lodge and stand at the door as they file in one by one. Xaro cuts a wink to me, and I get a better look at each of them.

Dryx is even more handsome in the low light filtering in through the kitchen. He has a full head of silvery-blond hair swept back from his forehead, and his eyes are even lighter than I first thought.

Aspar is just as dark and foreboding as he looked outside, his mouth set in a grim, straight line. If I cracked a joke, I doubt it would even elicit a titter in reply. His irises are so black they almost blend with his pupils, and his stare gives me deliciously tingling tremors.

Malek also has dark hair, almost black, but his demeanor seems lighter, almost airy. His eyes are the sparkling green color of freshly mown grass, and his lips are tilted upward in an almost-smile. I wonder if he’s a generally happy person—or, uhm alien?

I shake my head again and take in Xaro. He seems almost playful, and he bounces on his toes as he inspects every inch of my dusty old cabin. I’ve been using most of my time to train and take care of the horses, so household duties haven’t been exactly high on my to-do list.

“Pardon the mess,” I say softly. “I haven’t gotten around to cleaning. Honestly, I just clean as I see it. It’s just I—”

“Yes, you’ve been quite busy, too busy for one person alone to take care of all this land.” He steps forward and holds out both his hands, gesturing for me to place my own in his. “I’m just over 2,000 years old in human years, Aspar is over 1,000. 1,003, was it at the last annum?”

“1,004,” Aspar corrects before going silent again.

“Malek is 753, and Xaro is still in his infancy at 648. It’s why he’s a little more high-spirited than the rest of us.”

Taking a deep breath to think that over, I pause. “And what is it that you want from me? You said you had a possible offer, so what is it?”

He grips my hands tighter before pulling them into his chest, and my whole body goes with it until I’m surrounded by the scent of cedar. It seems to seep from his skin.

“As I told you before, the wars that have laid waste to our lands not only killed and made barren some of the ground, but it has laid barren our women as well.”

“What he means to say,” Aspar says. “Is that not only do we seek sustenance and a place to stay outside of our homeland, but we wish to create families. Only one in ten women are slightly less barren than the rest, and men sometimes have to share the few that are still fertile to propagate our species.”

God, that is both shocking and devastating. A whole world of mostly barren women? I knew firsthand what it felt like to be unable to have children, and I felt for the men, I really did. And, of course, for their women.

“But…but what does that have to do with me?”

Dryx smiles, a full-on grin as I catch a glimpse of Xaro winking at me again.

“We have searched many worlds for a female we find both beautiful and humble. We would like to offer you help on your farm if you would consider conceiving our children.”

Again, my mouth drops open on a whoosh of air that nearly renders me dizzy.

“A-all of you?”

Never mind the fact that I can’t have children at all, but to have them with four men? Ludicrous.

They all nod, and I stifle a laugh—or at least try to.

But soon, my belly is aching at the lunacy of the situation.

If they had done their research on me, they would have known I was as barren as the land they claim to come from.

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