Tave Part 1

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Find the Author

Copyright

TAVE is a three-part serial (like a TV show). The entire storyline will be available for FREE with Kindle Unlimited, or you can purchase the full story as a bundle for $2.99.

Part One
Chapter One

In hindsight, Rina realized she
probably
should have paid more attention to the letters from the Population Ministry. In her defense, the agency sent flyers to all unmated females under the age of forty regularly. Not to mention, she always got a crapton of junk mail. Crap. Ton.

So, when more and more showed up, she… recycled more and more. She was environmentally conscious that way. Plus, recycling was the law. But she would have done it anyway.

Except the letters… kept coming, she kept recycling, and her happy-ish little life continued as always.

Until
The Knock
.

Rina lived in one of the few true homes remaining along the coast of Tampa. Her parents never sold their small plot of land by the sea as so many others had. When they’d wanted to relocate to one of those high rises, they signed it over to her. She was bracketed by pristine, high-tech sky-high condominiums, with amazing security and… her house actually had a door. A wooden one. There were no bells or cameras to check for visitors. Nope, Rina was a windows and knocking kind of gal.

She ran her fingers through her hair, allowing the water—real water, not that sonic shower stuff—to rinse away the enviro-friendly shampoo she loved. She had exactly twenty minutes to finish her shower, toss on some clothes and makeup, and then dash out the door for work. At some point, she’d snag some sea toast—toasted seaweed, yum—to keep her going until lunch.

Same schedule, different day.

A rapid tap of knuckles on wood reached her and she froze, fingers buried in her soapy hair. Did she really hear—the sound came again, this time louder and firmer. Dammit. Didn’t they know she had to get to work? Her morning routine was planned down to the second so she could sleep in as long as possible every day.

She tilted her head back and ruffled her hair beneath the spray, hurrying to rinse her strands and answer the door. Of course, the thumping came again, echoing through her small home. Insistent assholes. She’d almost thought it was her mother being so impatient, but the interfering woman had her own key. Rina didn’t have the heart to upset her and change the locks, no matter how tempted she was.

More knocking and—did the wood creak? Were they breaking down her door? No. No way.

Growling, she ran her fingers through her hair once more and then cut the water. These intruders wouldn’t leave and she still hadn’t finished bathing, which meant she was gonna be late. That realization annoyed her even more than her visitors. And heaven help them if they were door-to-door salesmen.

Rina snagged her bathrobe and slipped on the terry cloth covering as she stomped to the front door. More knocking, more creaking, and she didn’t bother checking the peephole to see if she recognized her guests before she wrenched the door open. At the same time, a nice droplet of still-soapy water made its way into her eye.

Lovely.

Rina didn’t wait for them to identify themselves. “Who are you and what do you want?” Using her one good eye to peruse her visitors, she realized she should have identified them first, snarled second. Ujal guards stood on her doorstep. Not just Ujal guards. Oh no, she had to be bitchy to Ujal
high guards
. They protected the alien race’s Earth-based, high-ranking citizens. Or rather, they were living in Earth’s oceans. “I mean,” she cleared her throat. “GentleUjal, how can I help you?”

And please don’t imprison me for being a tad bitchy.

She wouldn’t admit that she was feeling more than a
tad
.

The Ujal had settled on Earth decades ago, appearing just when humanity needed them most. Their oceans were failing, water polluted, and animal life destroyed due to their own actions. The Ujal would care for the oceans… for a price. A price which ended up being new environmental laws—Rina was all for those—and their people building settlements within the oceans’ depths. They had scales and fins—tails—when they were encased in saltwater. Rina thought of them—secretly because it was a bit offensive—as mermaids, er, mermen.

The larger of the two, a male with bright red hair, searing red eyes, and a scar that bisected his face, gave her a narrow eyed look. “You are not prepared.”

Rina glanced down at herself, noting the fluffy robe and bare feet peeking out from beneath the hem. At the movement, her still somewhat soapy hair dangled within her line of sight. She raised her head, met his gaze once again, and she couldn’t stifle the annoyance that jumped back into her tone. “Well, someone knocked on my door and didn’t let me finish my shower.
And
that someone—” she flicked her attention to the doorframe and back to him. “—cracked said door.”

His glare deepened, anger flushing his face, bringing out the shadow of scales that lurked beneath his skin. “You—”

The other male jumped into their conversation and shot his partner a
shut-the-fuck-up
look. “We were sent to provide escort, Miss Zeret, to Ujal Station Tau.”

“Escort?” She raised her eyebrows. Well, one eyebrow since her eye still stung like a sonofabitch and refused to cooperate. “I’m perfectly capable of making it to UST on my own. I’ve done it every morning for the past four years.” Ever since she got the job in the Ujal public relations department. She crossed her arms over her chest. Something was off in merman-land. “What’s this about?”

Then a high-pitched whir of a hovercraft cut into their conversation, drawing her attention from the guards and to the space in front of her house. Rina groaned. Both males tensed, stepped closer to her, and presented their backs to her. Their positions were of protection, as if they were about to face some enemy who was intent on doing her harm.

They weren’t all that wrong since she knew exactly who owned the vehicle. That supersonic squealing machine belonged to none other than… Rina’s mom.

And, really, her mother
was
Rina’s greatest enemy and ally in one… unless Rina thought her mom was wrong. Then it was
on
and heaven help her if she didn’t apologize. Fast.

She was sure she hadn’t done anything apology-worthy lately. But just in case…

Rina squinted then leaned left, right, and finally leaned a little left of right and pushed to her tiptoes so she could see past the wall-o-merman-meat blocking her vision. “I’m sorry, Mom!”

The males stiffened and the rapid click and clack of her mom’s heels on the concrete paused. “Do you know why you’re apologizing?”

“Um…” She winced. “No?”

She was sure she heard her mom mumble, “Thank God” before picking up her pace once again. The two Ujal guards eased closer to one another, cutting off what little vision Rina had. Dammit.

“Hey!” She tapped the nicer guard on the shoulder. “Are you gonna tell me what this is about?” No response.
Tap, tap, tap.
“Seriously, what’s going on?”

“Don’t antagonize the dangerous men, sweetheart.”

Sometimes her mother had a good point.

A deep pulsing sound vibrated the air, sinking into the earth and shaking everything around them. For an Ujal, that barely audible noise was equivalent to what the military called a “warning shot.” Ujals didn’t need weapons, they had their voices and specific tones could do deadly damage to humans.

Her mom’s feet skittered over the sidewalk. “Well,
I never
.”

Rina’s tap on the man’s shoulder became a smack. “Hey! She didn’t do anything wrong. What is this? Ujal brutality.”

Neither responded, but remained in place. This time she pushed, anxious to get to her mother. Of course, shoving at the space between them drew the red-haired guy’s attention and now that deep tone was directed at her. She could practically see the ripples of air, the tremulous disturbance his warning caused as it traveled from his slightly parted lips to collide with her chest. She stumbled back a step, damp feet sliding on the polished wood floor.

The slightly nicer guy grunted, and then made his own round of sounds toward the evil red guy… and right on the heels of
that
noise came her mother’s bellow of rage.

Her mother—barely five feet of emotional, menopausal hatefire—raced over the ground, a screech on her lips. Ujals were scary, but they had nothing on her mom.

“Did you just
attack my child?

The two men, both easily outweighing Kelara Zeret by more than a hundred pounds, winced. Then they backed away from the woman and into Rina’s house. A quick glance at their booted feet revealed they were covered in dirt and sand. It was common since the UST was actually on the edge of the ocean for easy access for the Ujal, but that didn’t mean she wanted the sea tracked through her home.

“Hey,” she snapped and held her ground, pushing on the two Ujals. At this point, she’d end up in jail for assaulting them with her pokes and prods, so it couldn’t get much worse. “You are not spreading that mess all over—”

They froze in place, and her mom kept coming. “You dared do that mouth thing to my
daughter
? The proposed mate to—”

Proposed mate? There was no mating going on in Rina’s life. Proposed or otherwise. She hadn’t found
the one
just yet and the only other way to find a mate was to be tested and…

No. Just… no. Her mother wouldn’t have gone to the Population Ministry and had her tested so they could find her a mate. Right?

The guards were no longer her real problem.

Rina quit trying to keep them out, and instead, grasped their shirts, tugging them toward her and then pushing them apart, so they were forced to give her room. The move was fast and if they hadn’t been distracted by her mother, they probably wouldn’t have let her nudge them an inch. But they were, so they did. That gave her a clear shot to her mom.

“Proposed
what
?” A clump of sudsy hair fell forward—threatening to throw soap into her one good eye—and she yanked it aside. “What did you say?”

Kelara slid to a stop. “Oh, hello, sweetheart.” Her mom’s gaze traveled over her from head to toe. “You’re not ready yet?”

“What…” She paused and took a deep breath, fighting for calm. A movement behind her reminded her of the guards and she stepped aside so she could keep all three bodies within sight. She pointed at Mr. Nice Merman then Mr. Red Merman. “You two. You’re here to escort me to UST?” Mr. Nice opened his mouth to reply, but she snapped her fingers. “Nod or shake your head.”

He nodded.

Then she focused on her mother. “So that leaves me with why
you’re
here and why you think I have a proposed mate.” Kelara remained silent and Rina narrowed her good eye. “
Mom
…”

Another one of those affronted sniffs. “Well, I
told
you I wanted grandbabies.”

“That does not explain—”

Kelara groaned. “You’re making this difficult. I went through all the trouble to borrow your hair and submit it, pretending, er, never mind. The point is… they found you a mate!”

Her mother, still stuck back in the turn of the millennia, held up her hand for a high five. Rina never understood the fascination or purpose of the move, but she did know that “leaving her hanging” was an insult. So that’s exactly what she did. Let her mom hang for all she cared.

“Mom, tell me you’re joking.”

“Didn’t you get the letters from the Intergalactic Mating Agency?” She fluttered her lashes, looking like pure innocence and light. Rina knew better. In truth, standing before her was the most conniving, opportunistic person in her world. Her mom should have become a politician. She had the heart for it.

Then the words filtered through her drenched, soap-covered brain. Her mom didn’t just go to the Population Ministry. She’d also ticked the box allowing the ministry and the Intergalactic Mating Agency to work together to find her a mate. Hence the Ujals.

And letters?

Rina shot a quick glance at the pile of recycling, at the colored envelopes decorating the top of the mound. “But—”

“We must depart now, Miss Zeret.” She turned to face Mr. Nice only to have Mr. Red sweep her into his arms and stride through the front door.

Out.
They went
out
through the front door. Not
in
.
Out
.

As in, Rina became a terry cloth human burrito, wrapped and ready to be delivered to her supposed mate.

She hoped he liked his mate with a side of shampoo.

 

Chapter Two

Tave fa V’yl, Crown Prince of Ujal, High Warrior of the Ruling Caste, and ruler of all Earth settlements, could not understand how he lost control. He hadn’t begun the rising with a lack of strength or fatigue and yet, his life was no longer his own.

All due to a single female.

She wasn’t overly tall, even considered short to some. Her hair was trimmed in a style deemed “sexy” by other humans, though it was woefully short in his opinion. Her skin was clear and free of age despite her years. But what she lacked in stature was compensated by a haughty attitude and the ability to wield her voice like the deadliest of weapons.

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