Two years ago.
Violet was dying. She knew it. Her body was weak, her lungs on fire with each breath, and with every passing minute, she felt herself slipping further away.
There were moments of clarity during the worst of it. Glimpses into the real world that terrified her more than death itself. Her sisters, Lilly, Rose and Tulip, were fighting to stay alive. The attack on Earth had come quickly and unexpectedly, but with such brutality that it left billions of people dead.
As they moved slowly through the country, trying to find a safe place to hide, Violet grew weaker. But what scared her the most was not the monsters that had attacked Earth. It was that she might be the reason her family was killed.
Several times, Violet had tried to tell Lilly to just leave her behind. To take the others and to run as far from her as they could get, but Lilly wouldn’t listen. No matter what happened, how weak she became, or how close they had come to being caught by the alien creatures, her sisters never gave up on her.
But as the days passed, Violet knew there was nothing they could do. She would die, and no amount of medicine could stop that. The only thing that would save her, Violet had thought, would be a miracle from the heavens.
As she drifted in and out of consciousness, Violet remembered a small white farmhouse. They had stopped there to rest, and Violet had made her peace on the old, torn sofa. She had been laying on her side, her fever raging inside her body and her lungs slowly filling with blood. But her face had been in the late afternoon sunshine, the warmth of it somehow easing some of her pain. She vaguely remembered Rose and Lilly arguing about something, but she couldn’t understand them. After Lilly had left, Violet passed out again, only to be awoken by a frantic Lilly trying to shake her awake.
She wasn’t sure what was happening, but she tried as hard as she could to do as her sister had asked. But the coughing fit had come on so suddenly, that Violet couldn’t stop. Blood splattered out of her mouth as her lungs felt like they might rip apart.
She’d passed out again after that. The next time Violet woke, she was being carried in strong arms. There was no more sunshine on her face, only the dim lights reflecting off dark grey metal walls.
She’d tried to focus, to figure out where she was, but it was no use. She was far too weak to move her head, let alone take in her surroundings. Even the face of the person carrying her was fuzzy and swimming in her vision.
Groaning with pain, Violet shifted in the arms and rested her head against a solid, warm chest.
The deep, masculine voice rumbled in his chest as he said, “It’s alright, little fighter. You are safe now. I will take care of you.”
Violet closed her eyes, a small smile trying to escape.
It had finally happened. She had died, and this man was an angel, who came to take her away.
The next time she woke up, she was laying on a bed, the bright lights above blinding her as she tried to focus. It took her a second to realize that the pain in her lungs was gone. In fact, all her pain and illness seemed to have vanished.
From above her, surrounded by a bright white glow, the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen came into view. He had stunning golden yellow eyes, a straight jaw and... the weirdest ridges on his nose.
Shrugging it off, Violet stared at the man above her with wide eyes filled with awe.
An angel, she’d thought, a real angel here to take me to heaven.
“How do you feel?” He asked, his rich, deep voice sending a chill over Violet’s skin. In that moment, lying on the bed, looking up at eyes the color of melted gold, Violet knew that she was in love. Not just a teenage crush on a cute boy, or the way she loved her sisters. No, this was something altogether different. It was intense, deep and powerful. Wherever she was, and whoever this man was, she knew that no matter what happened next, she would always think of him as the man she would love forever. The one she would always wish she could have been with.
“Violet?” He asked, a frown creasing his brow, “Can you hear me?”
She swallowed, her mouth dry and her throat tight from emotion. “Who are you?”
He smiled, making her heart leap in her chest. He was stunning when he smiled.
“I am Captain Keel.”
“Keel,” She breathed, giving him a weak, shy smile, “You’re so beautiful.”
He grinned wider, his cheeks growing a rosy pink, before he cleared his throat and said, “How do you feel?”
She took a moment to take stock of her own body, then said, “Better… and really thirsty. Can I have some water?”
He reached to a small table at her side and brought a silver cup to her lips. He helped her drink then set it aside. “Better?”
She nodded. “Am I in Heaven? Coz if all the angels look like you, then this is going to be the best afterlife ever.”
He laughed again, the sound warming her inside.
“No, little fighter, you are not dead. You are on the Command vessel of the Torian King.”
Violet frowned, “The what now?”
“The command vessel. It is the Torian king’s command ship.”
Violet tilted her head to the side to study this man. He was different, there was no doubt about that. His nose, his eyes, his teeth, which she had caught glimpses of as he spoke. But he was an angel, right. They were different from humans… weren’t they?
“Torian? Is that what angels are called up here?”
Keel tried, but failed to hide his grin. “No. Our race of people are called Torian's. We come from a planet called Toria. We were sent to kill the Spinners and save your race.”
Violet stared at him, her mind blank.
“Um,” She finally said, looking around the dark room, “O...kay… Where are my sisters?”
“The two that came with you are asleep,” He shifted and pointed to two beds a few feet away. Rose lay on one, fast asleep. Tulip was curled on her side on the other one, a small tablet held tightly to her chest as she slept. Violet looked around, but didn’t see Lilly anywhere.
“Where is Lilly?”
“She is with the King, in his quarters.”
“Oh?” Her brows shot up, “And what, pray tell, is she and the king doing in his quarters?”
Keel smiled, “Well, if I were to guess,” he leaned in closer, his lips only inches away from hers and said, “Sleeping.”
“Oh,” She breathed, swallowing hard as she tried to get a deep enough breath, “because what else would a man and a woman do in a bedroom, right?”
He grinned, his eyes dancing with a light Violet loved to see. He backed away, gently pulling the covers up to her chin.
“You need to rest as well. In the morning, Oris, the medical commander will want to check you again. You were very close to death when you were brought to the ship, Violet. Your body needs to heal. I will see you soon.”
The last thing Violet wanted was to see this tall, sexy angel of a man walk away.
“Wait,” She said, grabbing his arm before he could leave. He turned to her, a worried look on his handsome face.
“Stay,” She whispered, “Please? I don’t want to be alone right now. At least until I fall asleep.”
His features relaxed and he moved to sit on a chair at her bedside.
Violet turned onto her side, and lay in the dark, staring into golden yellow eyes as they watched her back. It was the longest time before she finally drifted off, but the last thing she remembered was a quiet, low humming in a deep voice lulling her into slumber.
Keel was in serious trouble. He’d felt it the moment he’d seen the tiny, sick human female laying on the seat in the old dwelling.
Every Torian male knew the signs, and every male knew that once it came upon you, there was no running, no hiding, and certainly no denying it.
It was as much a part of their biology as their sense of smell, or heightened hearing. The only thing a male could do, was to follow his mating call and hope it didn’t lead him to pain and heartache.
But this female was human. A completely different race from him. How could he claim her… mate her, if he knew nothing about her.
The only thing Keel was certain of, was the way he felt for her. Sitting on the chair, watching her sleep had his mind and body calmer than it had been since he was a child. There was a peace to this female unlike anything he’d ever felt.
All his life, he’d been taught that once the mating call began inside a male, there was only one female for him. No other would ever compare to the first female his heart, mind, body and soul craved.
So, Keel sat in the chair all night, watching the tiny human female sleep peacefully. He would need to speak to his older brother, Tark, and see what he thought of all this.
Even though Keel was the youngest of the males he considered his best friends and brothers, he still felt like he was much older than the female. She looked almost of age, but she still had a child-like way about her.
He would find out how old she was in the morning. For now, he was perfectly happy to sit by her side, and watch her sleep.
Morning came all too quickly for Keel’s liking. Oris came into the medical suite to check on the females, asking them all kinds of questions. When he came over to Violet and began examining her, Keel stepped away.
But the look of panic on Violet’s face when she saw him leaving had him pausing by the door. He turned and gave her a reassuring smile as he leaned against the frame, his arms crossed over his chest and listened as Oris proceeded.
“How do you feel this morning, Violet?” The medical commander asked.
“Much better. Actually, I’m starving!”
Oris chuckled, “As soon as we are finished here, you and your sisters can have first meal. Now, I need some basic information about you, is that alright?”
Violet nodded, shifting to sit up. “Fire away.”
“Do you have any genetic medical conditions I should know about?”
Violet shook her head, “Not unless being awesome counts.”
Oris smiled, “Sadly, not on your medical record. Are you allergic to anything?”
“Any mechanical enhancements, replacement organs, or synthetic components?”
Violet’s mouth fell open. “Is that a real question?”
Violet shook her head, “No, doc, I’m not a cyborg… at least I wasn’t when I checked last.” She peered over Oris’s shoulder and met Keel’s eyes, “Did you download my brain into an artificial body while I was sleeping?”
Keel was shocked to see that she had actually asked him such an absurd question without a hint of a smile.
Oris chuckled into the data pad, his whole body shaking as he tried to keep it hidden.
“If I had done so…" Keel said with a smirk, "I would have made you taller.”
Her eyes, the color of blood, narrowed at him.
“Listen up, beanstalk, I like my height, okay. And besides, dynamite comes in small packages!”
“Alright, you two,” Oris interrupted. They both grinned at each other, his heart swelling to see that this female had a feisty side to her.
“Violet, in Earth years, how old are you?”
“I will be seventeen in a few weeks.”
Keel’s entire body went ice cold. She was just a child! Not only that, but she was decades away from maturity. Definitely far too young to mate with.
Pain burst in his chest, making his breaths seize in his lungs.
How could the God of Creation be so cruel as to put his mate in his path, ignite his mating call, then force him to wait years before he could claim her.
What had he done that was so horrible, that the God of Creation saw it fit to punish him like this.
Without hearing the rest of Oris’s questions, Keel pushed off the wall and left the medical room. He needed to think. To clear his head and to figure out what he was going to do. One thing he knew for sure, he would have to stay as far away from Violet as he possibly could.