A Warrior’s Heart - S.E. Smith - ebook
Opis

Only the most ruthless Marastin Dow are allowed to live, and Evetta and Hanine have murdered enough of their own to stay alive, but they desperately want a different life. When they meet two human brothers fighting for their lives, the sisters are in agreement: this alliance could be their only chance. Internationally acclaimed S.E. Smith presents a new action-packed story full of romance and adventure. Brimming with her signature humor, vivid landscapes, and beloved characters, this book is sure to be another fan favorite! Main Content: 92 (5x8) pages, 25,865 words

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A Warrior’s Heart

Marastin Dow Warriors

S.E. Smith

Contents

Acknowledgments

Copyright

Synopsis

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Epilogue

Sample of Command Decision

Sample of Lily’s Cowboys

Sample of Choosing Riley

Sample of Ha’ven’s Song

Additional Books and Information

About the Author

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my husband Steve for believing in me and being proud enough of me to give me the courage to follow my dream. I would also like to give a special thank-you to Sally, Debbie, Julie, Jolanda, Jackie, and Narelle, who listen to me, read my stories, and encourage me to be me.

And a special thanks to Paul Heitsch, David Brenin, Samantha Cook, Suzanne Elise Freeman, and PJ Ochlan—the awesome voices behind my audiobooks!

—S. E. Smith

Science Fiction Romance

A WARRIOR’S HEART: MARASTIN DOW WARRIORS BOOK 1.1

Copyright © 2014 by S. E. Smith

First E-Book Published February 2014

Cover Design by Melody Simmons

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission from the author.

All characters, places, and events in this book are fictitious or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations are strictly coincidental.

Summary: Two human brothers, kidnapped and sold by an alien trader, discover love in the most unusual place when they meet two sisters fighting to stay alive among their own kind.

ISBN: (Paperback) 978-1-942562-89-4

ISBN: (eBook) 978-1-942562-33-7

Published in the United States by Montana Publishing.

{1. Science Fiction Romance. – Fiction. 2. Science Fiction – Fiction. 3. Paranormal – Fiction. 4. Romance – Fiction. 5. Alien Romance – Fiction.}

www.montanapublishinghouse.com

Synopsis

Only the most ruthless Marastin Dow are allowed to live, and Evetta and Hanine have murdered enough of their own to stay alive, but they desperately want a different life. When they meet two human brothers fighting for their lives, the sisters are in agreement: this alliance could be their only chance.

Ben and Aaron Cooper’s lives have never been easy. Deserted by their mother and raised by a drunken father, each day on their Kansas farm was its own kind of test. Life dealt them a horrendous twist, however, when they were kidnapped by an alien trader and sold. The next fifteen years proved to be the most challenging of their lives. They did what they had to in order to survive, but now that their freighter is being attacked by a particularly blood-thirsty species, it seems like their time might truly be coming to an end.

There is only one thing these warrior women can do to save them… run!

Chapter One

“What do you think will happen now?” Aaron Cooper asked as he leaned his head back against the cold metal wall of their prison cell. “Do you think this might be the end? Do you think they’ll kill us?”

“I don’t know,” Ben replied grimly, looking over his shoulder at his younger brother. “I’ve heard some nasty things about this species.”

“Hell, heard! You saw what they did to the rest of the crew on the freighter,” Aaron said tiredly. “Maybe it is just as well. I’ve given up hope of ever making it back to Earth.”

Ben didn’t say anything. What could he say? He had lost hope of ever seeing Earth again years ago. He might only be sixteen months older than Aaron, but he was always more pessimistic about life than his brother.

Life had never been easy for them. Their mother deserted them and their father shortly after Aaron was born. If that wasn’t bad enough, their father began drinking so much that by the time they were old enough to open a box of cereal they were pretty much on their own. Then the unbelievable happened. They were kidnapped by an alien slave trader from the Kansas farm where they lived.

It has been almost ten years since that day. He was fourteen and Aaron twelve at the time. They were repairing barbed wire fencing along one of the less used fields when they were taken. Their dad was supposed to do the work, but he was too drunk to get his ass out of bed. Ben drove the old pickup truck and he, along with Aaron, did the work instead of their father. It was the only way to keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, though they spent more time hungry than fed.

If they thought life was hard before, it became brutal for the first five years after they were taken. It wasn’t until the captain of the last freighter won them in a game of chance that things changed slightly for the better. Life still hadn’t been easy, but at least they were able to scrape a little bit of a normal life together.

Ben convinced every one of their previous owners that he and Aaron must stay together or they would die. It was the only thing he could think of to keep them together. Since their species hadn’t been seen before, it had worked.

They had spent the last five years working on the freighter; cooking, cleaning and doing repairs. The captain even let them have a few credits from the sale of the illegal merchandise that he carried. They saved every credit in the hopes of buying their freedom or escaping, whichever came first.

That dream came to an end when the freighter was attacked. All of the crew members were killed except for him and Aaron. He didn’t know why. Maybe it was because the Marastin Dow, a Spartan type species, according to what they learned over the years, had never seen a human before. Or, it could be because the purple bastards wanted to have fun as they killed them. He didn’t know, and truthfully, he was at the point he didn’t give a damn anymore.

Aaron stood up when the door leading down to the prison cells, opened. A large Marastin Dow male walked up to their cell door. He looked Ben up and down before turning his gaze to Aaron.

“Do you understand me?” The male asked gruffly.

“Yes,” Ben replied.

“You will not fight. You will do what you are told. Do you understand?” The male stated.

“Yes,” Ben replied again.

“What are you going to do to us?” Aaron asked.

The male looked at Aaron. “You will work. You will keep your head down. And you will live if you are careful. Do not trust anyone unless I say you can. Most of the crew would sooner slit your throat for the fun of watching you die than help you. If you do as I tell you, you might live long enough to get off this ship alive,” the man explained in an emotionless voice.

“Why?” Ben asked, puzzled. “Why don’t you just kill us like you did the rest of the crew?”

The man shrugged and briefly looked away. “I saw that you were different,” he said quietly. “I saw the way you protected the younger one. You did not try to push him in front of you so you could escape. I want to learn more about you and your species. In exchange for information, I will do what I can to protect you both.”

“Why?” Ben asked again, pressing the male standing in front of him. “Why do you want to know more about us?”

The man stared taciturnly back at Ben. “I am a scientist. I study other species. I believe there are other ways to… live. I want to know… learn about them. Others of my kind want it as well. You will give me the information I need.”

“For how long?” Aaron interrupted. “How long will you protect us?”

The man finally sighed. “For as long as I can or until someone on this warship decides to kill me,” he stated in resignation. “I am the Chief Science Officer. If someone else desires my position, my life expectancy significantly drops.”

“Then I guess we better make sure that you have someone watching your back as well,” Ben said quietly. “My name is Ben Cooper, by the way. This is my brother, Aaron.”

The male looked at the hand Ben was holding out through the metal bars. He looked back at Ben’s face for several long seconds before he hesitantly held out his own hand. He started when Ben shook it and released it.

“That is called a handshake,” Ben explained. “You said you wanted to learn more about our species. Here’s your first lesson. Humans shake hands as a way of greeting each other.”

The man looked at his hand, turning it over to stare at his palm before his dark eyes rose to study Ben and Aaron. “My name is Behr De’Mar, Chief Science Officer of the warship Disappearance. It is best until you learn your way around that you stay on the levels I tell you. Those levels have crew that I trust and that is not an easy thing to find among the Marastin Dow.”

Four years later:

Aboard the Marastin Warship Disappearance

Evetta Marquette, Engineer Technician First Class, scowled at the large male who was crowding her in the deserted corridor. She seldom ventured far from her assigned post in engineering when she was working; today had been an exception. In fact, during the past year she and her sister had been aboard the Disappearance, neither of them went beyond their assigned duty stations or the three upper decks that housed their sleeping quarters, dining and training rooms.

She wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for a faulty sensor that she was ordered to replace. The technician who normally handled such things had been hurt during a fight the night before and was currently in medical receiving treatment. That, unfortunately, left her to repair it since she was the one on duty. Evetta realized the moment she removed the outer protective casing that the sensor had been tampered with. Her suspicion was confirmed when she turned and found a huge male standing behind her.

A sickening feeling washed through her at the malicious grin on his face. Instinctively, she knew there was only one way this situation was going to end – with one of them dead. Raising her chin, she stared back at the male with a hard, cold glare.

“Leave,” she ordered, staring down at the lower class maintenance worker with a steely gaze.

“I’ve been watching you,” the large male grinned. “I want you.”

“That is too bad. I have work to do. I also out rank you. I order you to move away,” Evetta hissed in a cold voice. “I will not tell you again.”

“Not until I get what I want. Do you think your rank will stop me? I could kill you and take your position,” he taunted, rubbing the front of his pants. “I hope you like it rough, female. I am looking for some satisfaction,” the man continued as he stepped closer. “You and the other one that you room with have heated my blood. I have been waiting you for some time. You are not like the other females on board the ship. I like that. When I am done with you, I’ll see if the other one can also help cool my blood, at least for a little while.”

“I will kill you first,” Evetta snarled, stepping back a step until her back was almost touching the wall. “You will not touch either of us.”

The man just chuckled as he swung his fist toward her jaw. Evetta was prepared. She and her sister trained every available moment for just such a situation. They often tried to sneak up on each other and take the other unaware. It was necessary to be prepared for deceit and violence if they were to survive their mandatory required service in the Marastin Dow military.

Evetta jerked back at the same time as she kicked her booted foot into the male’s groin. She didn’t wait to see his reaction. Pulling out the small metal weight she carried in her pocket, she swung it at the back of his head over and over again when he bent forward.

She didn’t stop even when he fell to his knees and then collapsed on the floor. He would kill her if she didn’t kill him first. With one last blow, she jerked backwards away from the blood pooling on the floor around the dead man. Nausea threatened to choke her, but she swallowed it down. With shaking hands, she cleaned the small metal pipe and as much as she could of the blood on her skin and clothing before she slid the pipe back into her pocket.

She glanced up and around. She did not need to worry about anyone seeing her unless they walked up on her. The Marastin Dow were a bloodthirsty species who killed each other with ease and could care less.

She knew there were those trying to change the Marastin Dow’s way of life. Unfortunately, those still ruling their world believed in the old ways; survival of the fittest. She could only hope there would be changes before too long. She had heard rumors of the rebellion against their leaders. Hopefully this rebellion will stop those who believe in and encourage the bloodbath.

Still, they were just rumors. She and Hanine hated living in fear. They hated the constant threat of violence. They witnessed the brutal murder of their parents, years ago, when their father was chosen to participate in the games as they were called.

Her mother fought to protect her father only to be slain for resisting. Their parents believed in a better way of life. They were merchants who dealt in herbs from different worlds and met many other species in their travels.

They lived in a small village that was already starting to see that violence was not a normal way of life. It wasn’t until a new governor for that region killed the existing one that things began to change for the worse. Their parents were vocal about living in peace and that was the beginning of the end for them.

Once she and Hanine reached the age of enrollment at sixteen years, they were forced into a twenty year enlistment with the military by a new law their governor enacted. This was their sixth year of service and their second assignment. She wasn’t sure how much longer they would last before they were either raped or murdered. They barely survived their last assignment and this one was proving to be even more challenging. Hanine had already been attacked twice. This attack was the fourth in less than two years for her.

Drawing in a deep breath, Evetta turned to head back toward the lift. She stopped when she heard the echo of voices coming toward her. Glancing around, she turned in the opposite direction. She had never been to the lower decks. It looked like she was about to have that chance now.

An hour later, Evetta leaned back against the side of the bulkhead and sighed. She had been weaving in and out of the corridors, avoiding the other crew members. She pushed off the wall and frowned when she heard the unusual sound of music echoing through the empty corridor. The haunting chords wrapped around her, as if invisible ropes were pulling her toward the melody. She moved slowly, hesitantly toward the sound.

Pausing outside the opening to a small room, she tilted her head in wonder. A strange alien male sat in a chair up against the wall. His feet were propped up on another chair and he was blowing into a small metal device that made beautiful music.

Her eyes roamed hungrily over his bent head. He didn’t know she was there, or at least she didn’t think he did since he didn’t change his position. She stepped gingerly into the room, wanting to see more of his face. His hair was a dark brown and was long and shaggy. The ends were ragged, as if he cut it himself. His skin was a natural tan color, and darker brown hair covered his forearms. He was tall. As tall as the males of her species and he was just as muscular if the fit of his shirt was any indication.

She froze when he glanced up at her. He never paused in the song he was playing. His dark brown eyes gazed back at her with intensity as he continued playing the unusual melody. She started to take a step back but forced herself to remain where she was standing.

Her eyes scanned the rugged face of the unusual male. He had high cheekbones and a long, narrow nose that was slightly crooked in the center. Dark stubble covered his cheeks, jaw and around his mouth. His long fingers moved with a grace that held her mesmerized as she watched him slide them back and forth across the silver metal, making her wonder what it would feel like to have them slide across her skin.

Her lips parted as the last notes faded away, leaving them in silence. Her eyes jerked back up to his when he slowly lowered the instrument in his hands and stood up. She was unable to prevent the defensive step she took backwards as he rose to his full height. He stood at least a head taller than she did.

“Who… what are you?” Evetta asked in a voice she didn’t recognize as her own. Since when was she ever this breathless around a male before? She frowned. “Where did you come from?”

Chapter Two

Ben knew she was there the moment the female entered the small room that he used when he wanted to be alone. The room had a small port window, two chairs and nothing else. Hell, not much else could fit into the narrow space unless he took out the chairs.

He was used to the occasional visitor when he was playing his harmonica. It was the one thing besides Aaron that he had left to remind him of Earth. It had been the last gift their mom gave him before she patted him on the head and gave Aaron a kiss, and then she walked out of the door never to return.

He was playing Red River Valley. It was the first song he learned to play. There was something about the haunting melody that pulled at him on days when he was feeling melancholy. Over the years, he taught himself other songs that he vaguely remembered from Earth or made up new ones. It was one of the things that helped keep him sane.

He continued to finish out the chorus, drawing out the last few notes before turning his attention to his unexpected visitor. Behr was very careful about who came to the lower sections of the ship. He and the rest of the crew on the lower levels were very suspicious of any crew member who came down without being screened first. Since Ben had never seen this female before, he suspected she found her way down without their knowledge. Behr was very meticulous about introducing him and Aaron to anyone new – or warning them who they should avoid.

His gaze swept over the woman. He was surprised by his reaction to her. He had met a few other women on board over the last couple of years, but he had never had an instant attraction to any of them the way he did with this woman. Curious, he ran his gaze over her again as he tried to understand what was different about her.

“Can I help you?” Ben asked, rising to his feet and looking down at the slender woman.

“I... who are you? What are you?” she asked again in a confused, hesitant voice.

His lips curved up in an unexpected hint of a smile. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt like smiling. The woman looked like she wasn’t used to seeing a smile of humor either if the way she took a hesitant step back and stared at him with a wary expression was any indication.

He quietly studied her as she studied him. She was very attractive for being an alien. He never thought he would be drawn to someone with purple skin, but there was something about the female that made him want to reach out and touch her.

She had the most amazing eyes that he had ever seen. They were dark, almost black and were shimmering with a shy curiosity. She had long, black hair that looked thick and glossy and it hung down her back in a long braid. He couldn’t help but wonder what it would look like hanging loose. For a brief moment, the image of her lying on his bed, her hair spread out across his pillow, flashed through his mind and he could feel his body’s reaction to it. That image and his response made him even more curious about her.

When she bit her bottom lip, he fought the urge to soothe it with a kiss. He could feel his cock harden even more at the idea. A dark frown of confusion crossed his face as he tried to understand why he was reacting the way he was. Sure, it had been years since he enjoyed the body of a woman, but he was used to dealing with his desires either on his own or through hard work to take his mind off his sexual needs.

“Well,” the woman suddenly demanded, flushing when she realized he recognized that she was staring at him in curiosity. “Are you going to answer me?”

Ben chuckled at her irritated tone. “Actually, I was thinking how much I’d like to kiss you,” he admitted in a slightly teasing tone. “My name is Ben Cooper, by the way. I’m a human. And you are?”

She looked startled before a reluctant smile tugged at her mouth. “I’m Evetta Marquette, Engineer Technician First Class.”

“Would you like to have a seat?” Ben asked, stepping aside so she could sit in one of the two chairs. “I’m afraid I don’t have any refreshments to offer.”

“You…,” Evetta glanced nervously at the chair before she looked back up at Ben. “You say you were thinking of kissing me, but you aren’t trying to force yourself on me. Why?”

Ben grimaced, but didn’t look away. “I don’t believe in forcing my attentions on a woman. A woman has the right to make the choice. I prefer her willing and wanting. I find it much more rewarding if she is enjoying herself.”

Evetta took a cautious step closer to him. “I want you to kiss me,” she said suddenly. “But nothing more,” she added hastily.

Ben’s eyes widened in surprise before they darkened with desire. His gaze swept down to her lips. While her top lip was thin, her bottom one looked full and lush. He fought back a groan when her tongue darted out to moisten it. He shook his head and clenched his fists.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea, Evetta,” Ben replied softly, turning away to look out the small port window at the darkness of space.

“Why? You don’t want to kiss me now? You do not find me… attractive?” she asked in a puzzled voice. “Is it because I am different from your kind?”

Ben stiffened and looked down. How did he explain that he was afraid to touch her? What if he couldn’t stop at just a kiss? It had been over four years since he was last with a woman. Then, it was with a whore that the captain brought back for him and Aaron before they left the last Spaceport. Evetta was no whore to enjoy, that was obvious. Neither was she an emotionless sex droid that each crew member used for the long trips between dockings. Something told him that he wouldn’t be able to just cast her aside once the edge was taken care of.

Ben cleared his throat before he turned back around. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been with a woman,” he explained gruffly. “You are a very attractive woman, Evetta. I think it would be best if I keep my distance.”

He watched her eyes widen in surprise before she frowned in concentration. He could tell she was arguing with herself. Her lips moved ever so slightly and she impatiently tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. His eyes narrowed as he caught a glimpse of dried blood on her hand.

He reached out and grabbed her hand, ignoring the way she stiffened defensively. He held her slender hand in his, turning it until her knuckles were facing upward so he could see them better. They looked slightly bruised but he didn’t see any cuts.

“You’re bleeding,” he murmured. “What happened?”

Evetta tried to jerk her hand back, but he refused to let her go. Now that he was touching her, he never wanted to let her go. The feel of her skin was surprisingly soft. He gently ran his thumb over her bruised knuckles.

“It is not my blood,” she finally admitted in a soft voice.

Ben glanced up at her sharply. “Whose is it?” he asked.

Evetta glanced nervously down at the hand he was holding. She wasn’t sure if she should tell him about what happened. What if he told her commanding officers? They more than likely wouldn’t care, but they may demand something for their silence – like the use of her body in exchange.

She had heard about it and had also seen it happen too many times over the last six years. A female that was in her department on her last assignment was attacked by one of the engineers. That female had killed him in self-defense, just like she had. Only that fight was witnessed by one of the upper level commanding officers. He demanded the female pay restitution for the loss of the male or face death. Three months later, the female returned a hollow shell of who she once was. The officers had used her. She was transferred to another warship not long after that when she killed the commanding officer.

“I killed a male,” she whispered. “Three levels up. He disabled a sensor and I was sent to repair it. He came up behind me and attacked me. I knew if I did not kill him, he would kill me after he….” Her voice faded at the memory and what it could mean to her life if she wasn’t careful.

Ben felt the tremble in Evetta’s hand when she admitted to him that she had just killed a man. He knew enough of the laws of the Marastin Dow that any repercussions would have nothing to do with justice. That was one of the things Behr and the others were working on – they wanted to create a constitution to protect the people from the injustices of those in power.

He shared with Behr a little of what he remembered about the United States and several other countries. He wasn’t the best of students when he had lived on Earth, but he loved history and he remembered a book report he wrote comparing several different countries’ political structures. Behr, along with several officers and enlisted personnel, was working on developing a similar Constitution for their people.