Read GalacticInferno Online

Authors: Mel Teshco

GalacticInferno (2 page)

Bonnie strained against the leash as Ally maneuvered away
from the front door, edging toward a dusty round table and four chairs even as
the dog stalked forward, teeth bared and hunger all but emanating from him.

What breed was it? Staffordshire bull terrier? Pit bull? She
couldn’t be certain. But by the look of its thick skull and strong jaw it was a
fighting machine—starved or not.


Moving around the table, she realized just how much trouble
she really was in. Her stomach lurched, fear ratcheting up to a whole new
level. Beside the bedroom door lay a half-gnawed human skull.

The dog abruptly charged. And Ally watched as if in slow
motion, frozen inside and unable to move.

Bonnie leaped forward, jerking the leash from her hand and
meeting the other dog halfway. The dogs crashed to the floor with canine teeth
sinking deep.
Bonnie, no!
The rich scent of blood tainted the air when
she forced her limbs to move. Taking hold of the nearest chair and stumbling forward,
she brought it down with all her strength on to the attacking dog’s back.

The chair fell apart in her hands. The dog didn’t flinch.

Bonnie snapped, twisting and squirming to shake the other
dog free. It wasn’t going anywhere.

No time to retrieve the knife in her back pack.

“Get off her!” The cracking, high pitch of her voice sounded
like a stranger’s. Half-sobbing, she retrieved a broken chair leg as her new
weapon of choice and had raised it high—when the bedroom window shattered.

She jerked around. The piece of chair fell from her grasp.

The alien picked himself up from the floor littered with
glass and the block-out blinds he’d taken down with him. Sunlight poured into
the room, almost dazzling after the darkness.

In just a few long strides he moved to the fighting dogs.
His big hands took hold of the brindle’s snout, top and bottom.

She looked away. The dog yelped. Bones snapped. The sounds
of fighting ceased.

She turned back as the alien placed the dead dog on the
floor and closed its eyes with an outspread hand. In his native, alien tongue
he spoke lyrical words to the dead animal. A eulogy?

Bonnie trotted over to her, whimpering. Ally ran a hand over
the dog’s blood-matted coat, checking for injuries and beyond relieved to find
none. “You’ll be okay,” she whispered, voice breaking.

She glanced up at the alien. Despite the hatred for his kind
coursing through her blood, for the moment at least, running from this
man—alien—who’d saved Bonnie had become the last thing on her mind.

He straightened, his long body unfolding with the grace of
an athlete. She bit her lower lip. Up close he was even more beautiful, and
much taller than she’d first thought. At five-eight she was no short piece of
ass, but she would easily tuck right under his arm.

Don’t be a fool. He killed your people. He’ll kill you

Yet even as hatred for the alien warred with her body’s
perverse attraction to him, another malicious voice reminded her of her
plainness. Illogical at this point of time, nevertheless it was an insecurity
she had come to acknowledge was deeply ingrained. She raked a shaky hand over
her short, practical hair, feeling sweaty, dirty and unkempt.

His eyes narrowed. “I’m sorry. I had no choice but to
destroy the dog.”

He spoke English?

He was sorry?

She jerked out a nod. “I know.” She wasn’t sure if the virus
changed the composition of the blood or something, but once a dog tasted human
flesh—it was like a human on crack. They became ravenous for more.

She sucked in a steadying breath, using all her willpower to
become neutral, assess the situation and gather her thoughts. “Who are you?
What do you want from me?”

Talking to someone other than Bonnie took on a surreal
quality, as if she was speaking through layers and layers of consciousness and
hearing the words from a great distance.

His eyes flashed, the possessive need in his stare sapping
her willpower, her hatred, and making her burn all over. He lifted an
outstretched hand. “My name is Renate Mearwon. And I want you.”

Chapter Two


Ally shook her head at his words, snapping out of her moment
of insanity. “You sick, murdering bastard!”

Something shifted behind his eyes. Hurt? Guilt? Shame?

Impossible. He and his alien friends had done nothing to
stop the virus sweeping the earth like a giant, biological tsunami.

“I’m not yours,” she croaked, backing away a step. “And
whatever voodoo mind control you’re trying to pull on me—stop it now.”

Renate cocked a dark brow, the gesture all too human. “Not
even a ‘thank you’ for saving your life?”

Her breath hissed at his audacity. Yes, he’d saved her. But
his kind had taken away everyone she’d ever known, everyone she could have
known. “You don’t deny using some form of mind control?”


She closed her eyes for a second, feeling weak. And all too
vulnerable. It made too much sense. She’d felt the pull toward him, experienced
the emotional transition from horrible dread and fear to unspeakable
attraction, a transition that was far and beyond anything normal or rational.

“Just a small influence,” Renate added, voice almost gentle.
“I felt your fear. You didn’t need to be further traumatized at the very sight
of me.”

“How is it you know English?”

“We had much time to study Earth’s languages on the journey

She sank to the floor, knees no longer able to support her.
Shrugging off her backpack, she slung an arm around Bonnie. “It’s like
something out of a horror movie,” she whispered starkly.

Thunder rumbled outside, a sudden wind whooshing through the
broken window.

Renate looked up, nostrils flaring as though he was scenting
the weather. “The storm is close.” His stare rested briefly on the dog he’d
killed before swinging back to her. “We can’t stay here.”

We? If the alien thought for one minute she was going to
meekly follow him, obey his every command, he was sadly mistaken. The
loneliness eating at her from the inside out was far preferable to being some
alien’s puppet.

Wasn’t it?

A louder rumble caused Bonnie to whine. Ally stroked the
dog’s soft ears, sharing her pain. God, how nice would it be—really—just to
talk to someone else. “She hates storms. Hates thunder.” Her eyes narrowed.
“But we’re not going anywhere with you. Not going anywhere near your UFO.”

He frowned, as though taken aback by her objections. Did his
mind control not work so well on her, then?

“The mother ship will stay above the storm for the night. I
was simply going to suggest finding shelter in another earth building.”

Ally rested her chin on Bonnie’s soft head. The half-eaten
human skull and the other dog’s prone body wasn’t something she wanted to be
sharing a room with for the night—she’d seen more than enough death already.
But she had a feeling this alien perceived other ravenous dogs would be
attracted to the scent of a fresh kill.

She let out a shaky sigh, hardly able to believe she was
agreeing to his suggestion. “Okay. But after the storm, we part ways.”

He nodded. “If that is your wish.”

She frowned.
He thinks I’ll change my mind.

Pushing onto her feet, she discovered her still shaky legs
were reluctant to support her. She needn’t have worried. In two strides Renate
was before her. He swung her backpack on to a broad shoulder then scooped her
effortlessly into his arms.

“Bonnie?” she croaked.

Dear lord. Was her dog all that concerned her now?

No. Survival mode had kicked in. She needed the distraction
of Bonnie to keep from admitting how good it felt to be in the alien’s arms,
how protected and secure. It was undoubtedly another illusion, further mind
control to bend her to his will.

She despised aliens, with good reason.
So why am I not
putting up a struggle?
Seemed she was defenseless, after all.

He placed the end of the leash into one of her hands and
Bonnie shadowed them as he strode to the door with Ally silent in his arms. He
threw open the deadbolts and kicked open the door before he briefly scanned the

Seconds later he strode down the entryway steps, through the
gate and across the street. Wind gusted and eddied around them, the dark clouds
moving overhead and all but blocking out the mid-afternoon sunlight.

The storm was going to be a doozy. For some reason the
thought didn’t frighten her. Oh, hell. She was all but surrendering to Renate’s
heat and the safety of his big, strong arms. And he smelled divine, clean and
fresh like a tropical breeze mingling with the salty overtones of the ocean.

He picked up pace as he headed toward the corner hardware
store. Once there, he placed her carefully on the pavement where it was clear
of glass and debris. He shrugged off the backpack and placed it beside her.

“What are you doing?” she asked, blanking out the play of
muscles across his shoulders and back as he tried the steel door’s handle. It
didn’t budge.

He frowned a little. “I want to get you inside before the
storm hits.”

She struggled to her feet. The ground lurched around her.
She dropped back on her ass, breath hissing, then swiped a hand over her
fever-hot brow, though her teeth chattered as though it was freezing cold.

Renate dropped on his haunches before her, his hands curling
over her shoulders. “Stay put. Try to relax. I think you’re experiencing some
level of shock. We’ll hole up in this building before nightfall. There should
be some provisions. Food, water. And hopefully some blankets to keep you warm.”
One of his hands moved to cup under her chin, drawing her gaze back to his. “Okay?”

The wind dropped as thunder rumbled overhead. Spits of rain
hit her face, hinting at an imminent downpour. Bonnie licked one of Ally’s arms
and whined.

She managed a nod, reminding herself she’d seek shelter with
this alien just until the storm passed. No longer.

Renate’s clasp tightened fractionally as he smiled. Moments
later he retrieved her backpack and, holding it like a shield to the remnants
of the storefront window, he propelled it forward.

Glass splintered and shattered to the ground, loud in the
thick silence broken only by the increased rumblings overhead. She closed her
eyes, breathing deep of the scent of rain in the air—just as the dark skies
unleashed its fury.

She gasped at the icy sting of rain that poured thick and
fast. But she didn’t move. Her eyes widened as Renate appeared through the wet
curtain like a muscled gladiator materializing into an ancient Roman arena.

He lifted her into his arms and strode back to the store,
stepping over the window casing and careful to avoid the rain-slicked glass
either side. Bonnie leaped after them, whimpering.

Despite the warmth of Renate’s hard body, Ally shivered.
After the heat of the day, the chill of the deluge seeped bone deep. And
yet…somehow she felt better than she had in a long time… Safer.

Hail began to pepper the store’s tin roof like discordant,
noisy drumming as Renate paused in the deepening shadows and placed her onto
her feet. Dropping the backpack on the floor, he curled an arm around her waist
to support her. His breath was warm on her ear when he leaned close so she
could hear him above the din. “You’ll be safe here while I see if I can find
anything useful in this mess.”

She turned her head in response, ignoring the fluttering of
her heart at being so close. “There’s a…a waterproof flashlight in my

He rummaged in her backpack as she sagged on her backside to
the floor. It would be late afternoon at best and yet the dark clouds outside
made it look like night. Teeth chattering, she cuddled into Bonnie, trying
desperately to keep warm even as she took comfort from her canine friend.

Renate flicked on the flashlight, the powerful beam cutting
through the gloom. He crouched beside her, keeping the light away from her
eyes. Studying her for a moment, his eyes unreadable, his free hand lifted, his
fingertips moving gently across her brow and down one side of her face. He bent
low. “Let’s get you warm, hmm?”

He straightened, all fluid muscle and grace. His voice had
been calm, but she’d sensed the urgency beneath. She frowned. Why did he care?
Was this his way of gaining her trust, building her confidence?

Before he—his kind—ripped her whole world apart again.

The flashlight’s illumination moved away, arcing up and down
as Renate methodically scanned each ransacked shelf for something of use.

She took a deep, shuddering breath. With Renate no longer
close, her true emotions clamored once more to take hold, to pierce her heart
with their savagery. She exhaled, close to tears. Lord help her, right then she
wanted Renate to stop those emotions, to manipulate her mind until something
close to peace transcended.

But then a memory closed in, crystalline sharp.

* * * * *

Sydney was clear and sunny, the windows of the tall
buildings gleaming. Ally’s high heels clacked on the sidewalk, a happy beat.
She smiled, absorbing the pulse of the city, the frenetic pace. She might have
been born and raised on a dairy farm in the country, but she was a city girl
now through and through.

Nine weeks ago she’d been promoted to advertising director,
a coveted position that suited her to a T. She excelled at her work, at being a
team leader. And though she kept long hours, Luke Sinclair, her attorney
fiancé, kept similar work hours.

She’d been blessed in every way. A great job, an adoring,
handsome fiancé and two stepchildren who’d come to accept her as part of their

Her gait faltered, a shiver sliding up and down her spine
like a premonition of doom. Her smile dissolved. And a short distance away, she
saw Luke move on to his feet from the metal scrolled café seat where he’d been
waiting for her to share lunch. He waved, catching her attention, his groomed
blond hair oddly rumpled.

She forced a smile and waved back, pushing aside the ugly
presentiment as she picked up pace then moved gratefully into the arms of her
charcoal-suited husband.

“Hey, beautiful,” he murmured. “Is everything all right?”

Ally nodded, this once not feeling any delight at his pet
name that made her feel special and so much prettier than any mirror revealed.
“Fine, I think.” He pulled back and at his questioning look she said
thoughtfully, “Perhaps a case of pre-wedding nerves.”

He cupped her face. “Sweetheart, the wedding is tomorrow. I
hear it’s only natural for a bride to get a few jitters beforehand.”

She smiled. “Yes. You’re right. I’m being silly.”

His hazel eyes narrowed a little. “Just don’t tell me you’re
planning on leaving me at the altar.”

“Luke! No!”

His face relaxed back into a smile and he pushed a lock of
her loose hair behind an ear. “I know you won’t. Of course you won’t. We belong

* * * * *

The warm hand on her shoulder brought her back to the
present with a start.

Renate peered down at her, flashlight on the floor beside
him, his brow furrowed. “Are you okay?”

The drumming hail outside had softened into heavy rain, his
words now much more audible. She sat up, away from Bonnie’s relative warmth,
the dog curled up asleep on the cardboard. And all the while she tried not to
be affected by the alien’s concern, by his sculpted body so close.

Warmth unfurled within even as she rubbed at her chilled
arms, and she had to wonder if he attributed her peaked nipples to the cold.

Bloody hell. What was wrong with her? Even with her less
than adequate memories, she knew she must have loved Luke. She wouldn’t have
married the man if she hadn’t.

And yet here I am responding to another man as if
he’s—what? The last man on the planet? No! Not a man. Alien. Don’t ever forget

“I’m fine.” She jerked away, hating him, but hating herself
more when she immediately yearned for his touch. “Just fine.”

“You remembered something, didn’t you?” he asked gently.

She turned back, the movement stiff and slow, reluctant. She
looked up. “I did. But I think it was from some time ago. It’s only been
recently that I’ve started to recall things. I think the shock of what…what
happened,” she shivered, as much from recalling parts of the horrific time as
any chill in the air, “caused some sort of memory loss.”

“The virus wipes the past of any who survive it,” he
explained. “Though it seems, at least with humans, all memories eventually

How did he know? Were other humans alive?

She put a stopper on the hope fairly bursting for release.
And somehow her query came out steady, normal. “I’m not the only survivor?”

His eyes regarded her with an intensity that would have made
most women squirm. She lifted her chin. Perhaps she wasn’t most women?
Something flared in his eyes before his lashes swept half-mast, hiding the
emotion. “No. My kings have an earth woman. All her memories have returned.”

Her mouth dropped open. There were other survivors, just
like her!

“But I saw women dying all around me,” she whispered. Those
were the memories she wished really had stayed forgotten.

His lashes flicked apart and his brilliant gaze caught hers.
All her horror drained away.

Thank you.

She could get used to this cocooning of her mind.

Perhaps that was his plan?

“Very few earth women survived,” he conceded gruffly. “But
some did.”

She shook her head, clearing away the thoughts tumbling one
on top of the other until they threatened to choke her. “I didn’t know.” Then
what he’d said fully registered. “You said—kings? This earth woman is…is she
with more than one alien?”

“Yes.” His expression was as fathomless as the ocean.
“Although we are a possessive race, we have been left with no choice but to
share.” He shrugged. “I believe the women won’t have reason to complain.”

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