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Excerpt from


"I came to your planet because  I was told humans make excellent mothers.”

“Oh.” She looked away. Regret floated like a sour miasma around her. “In that case, I’m sure you can find a woman willing to have your baby as soon as we get back to Earth. There were quite a few volunteers for the auction who I had to turn away.”

He frowned. He thought he’d been paying her a compliment, assuring her he trusted her to become a mother to his child. Why did she continue to deny her own desire? Was this trait unique to Georgie, or were all human females this difficult? He placed a gentle hand on her arm. “But I don’t want another female. I want you.”

She shoved away from the table and stood. “You aren’t listening to me. Unless you have a way to fix broken hardware, you need to find someone else to make alien babies with, okay?”

Again with the undecipherable human idioms. “I don’t understand.”

Her eyes glistened as she pointed to her stomach. “I’m barren. Infertile. Broken. Defective.” Her voice cracked. “Unable to have children. Understand?”

He didn’t need to use his empathic senses to feel her pain. He could see it in her eyes. “Ah.” He shifted his gaze to her middle. “Is it physical or genetic?”

“I don’t know!” She turned away. “The doctors ran every test they could and couldn’t fix me. Just take me back to Earth and swap me out. I’m sure an alien prince as hot as you are won’t have any trouble finding someone else.”

Pain and angst welled over him in waves, filling the room like the bitter scent of nilgawood resin. All he wanted was to soothe her. “Human physiology is new to the galactic consortium, but there are healers among the Qalqan who—”

She sliced a hand through the air. “I tried to have a baby for eight years, and I’m done with heartbreak. I can’t handle another failure. Besides, you don’t have time for tests and treatments. You need someone to pop out a kid quick.”

Then he understood—she wasn’t resisting him so much as she wanted to do the right thing. She was being honest. But her sincerity only made him want her more. “You let me worry about that.”

Hope flared in her eyes, but died almost as quick. “Worry all you want, but leave me out of it. I’ve moved on.”

He could tell she hadn’t moved on; she still yearned for exactly what he was offering, regardless of her refusal to see a healer. And he wanted her regardless of her capacity to bear children, even if only for a single interlude of passion. “Then let’s not talk about it anymore. I’d still like to give you pleasure if you’re willing. We won’t reach Earth again for several of your days, and I can think of no better way to spend that time.”

She squeezed her eyes closed, wiping angrily at a tear that escaped one corner.

It wasn’t a yes, but it wasn’t a no, either, and he could sense she was tempted. He stood to face her and gently tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, letting his fingertips trail lightly down the side of her neck to her shoulder. Her indecision felt like a sheet of brittle ice melting in the sun. He leaned closer, letting his breath heat the skin where his fingers had touched. “What do you have to lose?”

Biting her bottom lip, she shrugged. “I guess I’ve got nothing better to do.” She lifted red-rimmed eyes to meet his. “As long as you understand there’ll be no babies.”

He smiled and pulled her into his arms. “Think only of pleasure.”

He was going to make her forget all about pain and regret.

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