The Alliance Boxset Books 1-3 - S.E. Smith - ebook

Internationally acclaimed, USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author S.E. Smith presents the first three books of the Alliance series in a bundle! Book 1: Hunter’s Claim Four years ago, the Earth received its first visitors from space, causing mass fear. Alone with just her sisters in a world gone mad, Jesse has learned to use the darkness and the remains of the city to survive and keep what is left of her family alive. She has seen the savage side of human nature and finds they are not much different from the aliens who conquered the Earth. After first contact, the Trivators found it necessary to take control of the Earth to prevent the humans from destroying it in their fear. Hunter belongs to one of the elite clans of the Trivators who seek out those who resist being brought into the Alliance of Star Systems. His abilities to track, capture, and eliminate his enemies is renowned, but he finds the tables turned when he becomes the one captured by a group of ruthless humans. Hunter is shocked when a human female risks her life to help him escape, only to disappear into the ruins of the city. He now has a new mission: finding the female who saved his life. What he finds is a reward beyond comprehension to a Trivator warrior: a family. Can he convince Jesse that he can give her and her younger sisters a better life on his world? Or will fear keep her from accepting what he has to offer? Book 2: Razor’s Traitorous Heart Kali Parks is a shadow in the war between two factions that are fighting to gain control of Chicago. Born and raised on the streets, she stands as a silent sentinel at her brother's side as he battles to gain control. She will do whatever it takes to bring peace to those she has pledged her life to protect, including fighting against the creatures that came to their world almost six years before. Razor, a High Chancellor for the Alliance, has been sent to oversee the remaining Trivator troops on Earth and make sure the transition for the induction of Earth into the Alliance goes smoothly. He is the one the Alliance calls when they have a situation that needs to be resolved once and for all. His reputation for dealing with difficult rebels is renowned. When a shadow warrior saves his life and disappears, he discovers his world is no longer as cut and dry as he thought. Forced by duty to settle the conflict, Razor must make a painful decision between the Alliance he has dedicated his life to and his own traitorous heart. Book 3: Dagger’s Hope Dagger is a Trivator warrior known for his dark and dangerous edge, which makes him the perfect warrior for impossible missions. He fears nothing, until he meets a delicate human female who awakens his heart. It has been a couple of years since Jordan Sampson was taken away from the war-torn Earth, and she is slowly adjusting to her new life on a strange planet. Fear, confusion, and uncertainty of what the future holds threaten to drown her as she tries to fit in. There is only one hope that keeps her going. It is the handsome alien male that stirs something deep inside her and makes her feel whole. When Dagger is captured during a mission and sold to the illegal Fight Rings, it is only the memory of Jordan that keeps him going. Time blurs as he slowly sinks deeper and deeper into a world of violence and pain until he becomes more animal than Trivator. Jordan knows Dagger is out there, somewhere. When she discovers where he is being held, she refuses to let anything stop her from rescuing him. The fight to save Dagger takes Jordan on a journey that she hopes they both survive. The star system is a dangerous place for a young human female and a damaged Trivator warrior. Can Jordan reach Dagger in time, and if she does, can she heal his shattered soul?

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The Alliance Boxset Books 1-3

S.E. Smith



Hunter’s Claim


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

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Razor’s Traitorous Heart


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

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Dagger’s Hope


Chapter 1

2. Two and a half years before - Earth:

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Lily’s Cowboys

Love S.E. Smith?

Additional Books and Information

About the Author

Montana Publishing

Science Fiction Romance


Copyright © 2016 by S.E. Smith

First E-Book Published July 11 2016


Copyright © 2014 by S. E. Smith

First E-Book Published January 2014


Copyright © 2014 by S. E. Smith

First E-Book Published June 2014


Copyright © 2015 by S.E. Smith

First E-Book Published March 2015

Cover Designs 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 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, or organizations are strictly coincidental and not intended by the author.

Hunter’s Claim Summary: Jesse’s rescue of an alien warrior on Earth leads to a new life for her and her sisters.

Razor’s Traitorous Heart Summary: Razor has been sent to bring order to Earth – by any means necessary. When a shadow warrior saves his life and disappears, Razor finds himself torn between duty and something he is unfamiliar with, his heart.

Dagger’s Hope Summary: When they first met, Dagger saved Jordan’s life. Now it’s her turn to save him, no matter the risk.

The Alliance Boxset Books 1-3 ISBN 978-1-942562-96-2 (eBook)

Hunter’s Claim ISBN: 978-1-942562-48-1 (paperback)

Hunter’s Claim ISBN: 978-1-942562-12-2 (eBook)

Razor’s Traitorous Heart ISBN: 978-1-942562-49-8 (paperback)

Razor’s Traitorous Heart ISBN: 978-1-942562-13-9 (eBook)

Dagger’s Hope ISBN: 978-1-942562-50-4 (paperback)

Dagger’s Hope ISBN: 978-1-942562-14-6 (eBook)

Published in the United States by Montana Publishing.

{1. Science Fiction Romance. – Fiction. 2. Science Fiction – Fiction. 3. Urban Fantasy – Fiction. 4. Romance – Fiction.}


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 my sister and best friend Linda, who not only encouraged me to write but who also read the manuscript. Also to my other friends who believe in me: Julie, Jackie, Lisa, Sally, Elizabeth (Beth), Laurelle, and Narelle. The girls that keep me going!

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


USA Today Bestseller!

Jesse Sampson and her two younger sisters have lived a hard life on the streets of Seattle, Washington for the past several years. Four years before the Earth received its first visitors from space causing mass fear. Alone in a world gone mad with just her sisters, Jesse has learned to use the darkness and the remains of the city to survive and keep what was left of her family alive. She has seen the savage side of human nature and finds they are not much different from the aliens who conquered the Earth.

The Trivators have taken control of the Earth to prevent the humans from destroying it in their fear. A world of warriors, they are sent out by the Alliance of Star Systems to seek out new worlds. Their mission is first contact. They are to establish communication with the leaders of the new worlds they find and bring them into the Alliance. Any resistance is to be quickly subdued to prevent unnecessary death of the inhabitants of the new worlds they find. Their payment comes from the success of their mission.

Hunter is what he is called. A hunter, one of the elite clans of the Trivators who seek out those who resist. His abilities to track, capture and eliminate those who try to harm any warrior is renowned. He finds the tables turned when he becomes the one captured by a group of ruthless humans.

Hunter is shocked when a strange human female risks her life to help him escape only to disappear into the ruins of the city. He now has a new mission, finding the female who saved his life. He is determined to find her before she is damaged by others of her kind.

What he finds is a reward beyond comprehension to a Trivator warrior, a family. Can he convince Jesse that he can give her and her younger sisters a better life on his world? Or will fear keep her from accepting what he has to offer?

Chapter One

Jesse moved quietly through the deserted streets. The black backpack on her back contained the prize from her outing this night. She had been able to steal enough to keep her and two younger sisters fed for several days as long as they kept the portions small. She needed to get back to the collapsed rubble that hid the underground parking garage which was their temporary home.

She had found that shelter almost two months ago by accident when she had needed a place to hide from the group of men roaming the street. She had crawled under a fallen slab of concrete for protection only to find it was slanted at an angle. Unable to stop her descent, she had slid to the bottom where she discovered herself in the remains of a parking garage. After exploring the area, she thought it would be the perfect place for her and her two younger sisters to hide from the roaming gangs who looked for unsuspecting victims to rob or rape.

She and her sisters’ lives had changed a lot over the last four years since the death of their father. Hell, Earth had changed a lot over the past four years. Gone was living in a nice house in the suburbs. Gone was making sure her sisters did their homework and got to school on time. She had taken over the job of being ‘mom’ to her two younger sisters when their mother died shortly after Taylor’s third birthday. Everything she knew was gone since that November day four years ago when the skies had filled with spaceships from another world.

The President had issued a state of emergency, but it hadn’t done any good. People had poured out of their homes in fear. The war, if you could call it that, lasted only a few days.

The aliens had weapons that neutralized the nuclear weapons some countries tried to use. Communications systems around the world had been taken over as well. Messages for calm had been transmitted over and over, but it was useless. Even messages from world leaders that the aliens were not there to harm the population did nothing to calm the riots.

Zealots and anti-government groups rose up and overpowered the local law enforcement. Jesse, Jordan, and Taylor’s dad had been one of the Seattle police officers killed on the first day of rioting. Soon, bombs exploded and neighborhoods were overrun.

Jesse was just arriving home from picking her sisters up at school when the news broke of the alien ‘invasion’ as it was being called. They had watched the news in terror. Their father had called to tell them to barricade the house and to gather as many supplies as they could in case they had to leave in a hurry.

They were supposed to go to the cabin up near Wenatchee if it got too bad. That was the last time any of them heard from him. By that night, roaming groups had overturned cars and set fire to homes and businesses throughout the area. Jesse, Jordan, and Taylor had gathered as much as they could and hidden in the old cellar behind the woodpile when rocks and bricks had been thrown through the windows of their home. They had barely made it to safety, climbing from the second story balcony into the tree that was next to it, as their house was overrun. They had been running and hiding ever since.

Jesse stopped to adjust the black scarf she had tied around her nose and mouth. She didn’t want there to be any sign of her, including the slight fog of her breath in the freezing air. There was too much riding on her not getting caught, namely Jordan and Taylor, her seventeen and fifteen-year-old sisters. At twenty-two, she was their mom, dad, and protector.

Tonight, she had been fortunate to come across a small convoy of Trivators. They had set up a ration station almost ten blocks away. She had grabbed a box that had been dropped as they unloaded supplies into one of the distribution centers they had set up for the humans like her who refused to trust them. She had found other packages before and while the food was bland, it was edible. She had disappeared into the dark alley before anyone saw her.

Hiding behind an overturned trash bin, she had emptied the small box into her backpack and disappeared. She had been terrified at first she was about to be caught. She had never been so happy about the stench of decaying garbage as she had a short while ago.

She knew the Trivators had an excellent sense of smell. Well, some of them did. She had watched from a distance as a small group of the massive males discovered several human men hiding in ambush a little over a year ago. One of the Trivators had held up his hand and sniffed the air like the dog they used to own.

Shortly after, the men were taken out with a clean shot to the chest. She hadn’t stayed after that. She just knew she needed to avoid all contact with both species of male, Trivator and human, if she and her sisters were to remain safe.

Jesse froze when she heard the sound of trucks moving slowly down the street with no headlights on. A worried frown pulled at her brow as she glanced frantically around for a place to hide. The only ones out this late at night were those who were like her, searching the shadows for food or those who she didn’t want to find her.

Other humans and the Trivators, the alien species that had come to Earth four years before supposedly in the name of peace,were to be avoided at all cost, she thought bitterly as she thought about her younger sister, Jordan.

The Trivators may have wanted peace with the humans of Earth, but what they had found was war and hatred. They would have their work cut out for them if they thought the humans would welcome them with open arms, she thought as she squeezed between two pieces of ripped corrugated steel panels. She hissed when a jagged piece cut her forearm, leaving a long but shallow line. She scooted between several large sections where the ceiling had collapsed and slid the backpack off her shoulder.

The sound of the truck’s engine echoed loudly as they drew to a stop outside the building. Jesse leaned her head back and groaned when the large loading door was unlocked and pushed open. She slid further into the shadows, drawing her knees up to her chest to make herself as small as possible. A moment later, a moving van backed through the doors followed by a pickup truck. The area grew dark again when they pulled the door closed and she heard the sound of the chains being run through the bars again. This time from the inside of the doors.

“Make sure those damn doors are secured well,” a raspy voice muttered. “Those fucking aliens are all over the place. I hate this shit. We should have been out of here yesterday.”

“It took longer than we expected to capture one of the bastards alive,” a woman’s voice said coldly.

“Why do you need one alive? Aren’t you just going to kill him anyway?” Another voice asked, puzzled.

“I told you, I need to study one of them closely to see just how powerful they are,” the woman bit out. “If we are going to take control of this area and eventually the western half of the United States we need to know how to kill the bastards. If we can kill them, we can rule the world ourselves,” she laughed.

“They are mean bastards. Did you see how protective he was of you?” The first man chuckled. “If you hadn’t acted all girly on his ass we never would have caught him.”

“Yeah,” another man said as he walked over. “But that isn’t going to save his ass. Mitch is dead. That son-of-a-bitch ripped his stomach wide open when he thought he was trying to rape you. I want his balls hanging from the back of my truck.”

“Shit! That is the fourth man we’ve lost in the past month,” the first man said. “It’s getting harder to find anyone anymore. Since those bastards started providing food, shelter, and medication to the people in this area, more and more people are turning to them.”

“It won’t matter if I can find a way to kill them all,” the woman said. “Keep him inside the van for now. We can’t take a chance of any of his friends hearing or smelling him. We can move out tomorrow morning after curfew is lifted. I want to begin dissecting that bastard by tomorrow night at the lab we’ve set up.”

Jesse wrapped her arms around her knees and buried her face in them. Dread washed through her as she waited for the small group to walk away. Their laughter was filled with cold hatred. These were the types of people who gave humans a bad name. If she was an alien, she would have washed her hands of humanity within hours after meeting them.

She sat back and rested her head against the metal that made up the wall of the old warehouse. She would need to make sure they were gone before she could safely move. She closed her eyes and felt fatigue pull at her, encouraging her to give into the darkness. She brushed the cut on her arm, letting the salt from her fingers get into the wound so it would throb. She needed the pain to help keep her awake.

Her thoughts drifted to her two sisters. She was worried about Jordan. Three nights before, she and Jordan had gone out together. Jordan had startled two men in one of the back alleys they were cutting through on their way back to the parking garage. She had gone ahead of Jesse in her excitement to share what they had found with Jordan.

Jesse had stopped briefly to rearrange their stash for the night when she felt it shift. Seconds later, Jordan’s screams had chilled Jesse to the bone. She had to force herself not to rush to her sister’s aid which had been her first instinct. She would not do either of them or Taylor any good if she was captured. Instead, she had pulled the large hunting knife that had belonged to her father out of her boot and quietly snuck up behind the men who were attacking Jordan.

Jesse fought back the nausea as she thought of what she’d had to do to save her sister from being raped and murdered. She had killed the man who was on top of Jordan. Her father had always told them that a wounded man was like a wounded bear or mountain lion, extremely dangerous and unpredictable.

The other man had run as soon as he saw his bigger friend was dead. Jesse had pushed the man off her younger sister and gathered her in her arms. She wish she could have spent more time comforting her, but it was too dangerous. They had left without the food they had stolen. It had been three days since any of them had eaten and now Jordan was sick. She had to make it back with the food she had taken tonight or none of them would make it much longer.

She pulled the scarf up over her nose and mouth to help keep in the warmth as she waited. The coldness of the floor and the metal were sending shivers through her body. In some ways it was a blessing as she knew she wouldn’t fall asleep if she was cold and uncomfortable.

No, now it is just a waiting game until I can escape from the mad humans, she thought as she listened to the woman and three men talk about how they were going to slice up the alien they had captured.

Chapter Two

Hunter strained against the chains holding him to the metal bed. His head fell back against the hard surface in frustration. They had bound him with multiple chains from his shoulders down to his feet. He jerked his head sideways trying to dislodge the rag they had put in his mouth, but it was useless with the tape covering it.

He clenched his fists in rage as he thought of the deceit of the humans. Even their females were not to be trusted. He had heard talk among the other warriors of how primitive and hostile this world was. He cursed at his own instincts to protect the female of any species.

He had been returning from bringing in several humans who had set off bombs close to where they were establishing a support center for the humans living in this area. This was to be his last tour before being deployed back home. Now, he would never see the beautiful valleys, mountains, and oceans of his world again.

The only regret he had was that he had not killed the traitorous woman who had tricked him. It burned against his pride that he had been tricked even if it turned out to be a good thing. These were the humans they had been searching for before he had encountered the ones setting bombs. They had heard of a group of humans who were trying to capture a Trivator warrior and take him to a lab. He had just not expected a female to be involved.

He knew how devious human women could be. He had seen some of the things they were capable of many times over the past three years he had been on this planet. He had reacted on instinct when he saw the males attacking her. Her terrified cries had pulled at the protectiveness of his species.

He lay still as the door to the transport he was in opened and the large human male who had hit him in the back of the head walked forward with a grin. A low rumble of warning exploded from his chest as he stared back into the cold blue eyes of the human. His own dark yellow eyes burned with hatred and a promise of death the first opportunity he got.

“You can growl all you like,” the man said with a nasty grin as he leaned over Hunter. “I’m going to be using your balls if you have any as a decoration on the back of my truck by tomorrow night. Let’s see how much growling you do when Betty cuts off your little jewels for me.”

The man jerked back a step when Hunter strained again. He gave another laugh when he saw there was no way Hunter was going to be able to break the chains. With a salute, he turned and jumped out of the back of the van leaving Hunter alone in the dark again.

Hunter lay back, trying to think of a way, any way, he could possibly escape. The first thing he would do once he was free was hunt down the man who was in here; the second would be the woman. He would show them what happens to anyone who attacks and threatens a Trivator warrior.

Jesse rolled stiffly to her knees before using the side wall to help her stand. She had been frozen in one spot for almost three hours before the lights in the other room had finally gone out. She bit back a groan as her stiff muscles protested. She wasn’t sure if the three men and one woman were ever going to settle down. The one huge guy had come out every thirty minutes to climb into the back of the van before leaving again.

She bent to pick up her backpack before releasing a sigh of resignation. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t just leave the alien to die. She had listened to the others talk about what they were going to do to him. She would just as soon shove her dad’s hunting knife into his heart if he had one than leave him to those crazy lunatics.

Straightening up once again, she drew in a deep breath behind the black scarf covering most of her face. She would release him. Well, she would release most of him if she could and leave him the means to finish the task while she ran like hell. She ran her hand over the universal key set her dad had shown her how to use. It would be a huge loss, but she wouldn’t have much choice.

Jesse set the black backpack just inside the opening that she had squeezed through before. She might have to run like hell, but she couldn’t leave the food behind this time. Her sisters desperately needed it.

Pulling her father’s hunting knife out, she glanced around the fallen debris before quietly stepping out. She let her eyes sweep the area before she swiftly jogged over to the side of the moving van. Pressing her back up against the cold metal, she waited for several long seconds, listening. Sweat beaded on her brow even though the air was frigid. She could even feel the dampness as it slid down between her shoulder blades, a testament to her fear.

She refused to give in to the terror threatening to choke her though. She couldn’t just leave him to die, even if he was an alien. No one deserved to die the way the men and woman were planning. If she couldn’t release him, the least she could do was end his life in a more humane way.

Jesse moved slowly, pausing to listen in case anyone came out to check on the van again. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she reached over and carefully slid back the bar locking the back of the van. Her hands shook as she pulled the door open just far enough for her to slip through the opening.

The silence and darkness inside the moving van caused her to start panting. She had never seen one of the aliens up close before. She had always done everything in her power to stay as far away from them as possible so she had no idea of what she was about to see.

She fumbled in the front pocket of her black cargo pants for the small penlight that she always carried. She turned it on and moved it along the floor until she saw the leg of a metal bench. Taking a timid step forward, she ran the light up along the bench until she encountered the huge boots of the alien.

She stepped forward on silent feet until she was even with his feet. She frowned when she saw the thick chains holding him to the metal bench. She moved up his body, staring at the chains that were threaded through every few inches up his body. She flashed the light down to the corners and saw that there was a master lock on each corner. She turned to look at the top of the metal bed to see if there were additional locks there as well.

She froze when her eyes locked on a pair of glowing yellow ones that were watching her with silent rage. Her hand began to shake so badly that she had to use both hands to hold the beam steady.

“I…,” she began in a muffled whisper. She licked her dry lips behind the scarf before impatiently pulling it down below her chin when she felt like she was about to suffocate. “I… oh hell.”

Jesse stared at the beautiful features of the man lying on the table. Even with the gag in his mouth, she could tell he was handsome in an exotic kind of way. He had long, thick black hair that was pulled back. His eyes were the shape of a lion or tiger’s. They were a deep yellow, almost gold color and glowed in the reflection of the flashlight. He had high cheekbones and small ridges along his nose, which was flatter than a human’s. Her eyes moved down over his shoulders and chest. He had very little hair on him, considering he looked like he was part feline. One thing stood out above all others, though. He was huge! He had to be close to seven feet tall and she had never seen any man outside of the movies that muscular.

Her eyes jerked back to his when she felt more than heard the slight rumble of a growl coming from him. That was when she realized that she had dropped her left hand down to rest on his stomach. Blushing, she pulled her hand away quickly and took a step closer to his head. She needed to make him realize she was there to help him.

“Please, be quiet,” she whispered next to his ear. “They will kill me or worse if they catch me and I can’t be… I have to leave. I’m going to remove the gag from your mouth. Nod twice if you understand what I am saying.”

She pulled back just far enough to see if he understood her. Satisfied that he did when he nodded twice, she carefully picked one corner of the tape loose. With a look of apology, she ripped it off his mouth. The moment the tape was gone, he turned his head and spit the rag out of his mouth.

Jesse almost ran when he turned his hostile gaze back on her and bared his teeth. Her eyes widened and she bit her lip in indecision. A sense of panic began to sweep through her at the crazy decision she had made. If the humans outside the van didn’t find and kill her, the alien inside it looked like he would do it without any hesitation.

“Please, listen to me,” she begged desperately, glancing at the door before looking at him again. “They want to kill you in a very horrid and painful way. I… I can’t let them do that, but I can’t let you kill me either. Please, please understand me. I can undo the locks holding you down. I’ll undo all of them but one.”

Her hand trembled as she reached out to touch his face. She needed him to believe her. She needed to know that he wouldn’t snap her neck or, her eyes moved to his sharp teeth, tear her throat out as she leaned close to him. She gently touched his jaw so he could see she meant him no harm.

“I’ll show you how to use the keys I have to undo the lock. When you are free, you will need to go to the left. There is a door on the far side of the building that will lead you outside. Ten blocks to the west are some of your people. They will help you,” she whispered looking into his eyes intently as she gently rubbed his jaw with her thumb. “Do you understand what I’ve told you?”


Jesse gave him a shaky smile before she moved to one of the locks near his head. Setting the penlight down, she pulled the universal key set out of her pocket and went to work. It took her several minutes to undo the lock. Once it was unlocked, she pulled it free of the loop as quietly as she could and set it down on the floor of the van before moving to the next one. Within minutes, she had his arms free.

“Wait,” she whispered when she saw him start to pull the chains from his upper body. “We need to be as quiet as possible until I can get at least one of your feet undone. Can you lift the chain off quietly while I work on the other lock?”

“Yes,” he hissed.

Jesse nodded in relief. She was beginning to feel a glimmer of hope that maybe she would be able to pull this off and both of them could escape and go their own ways. She was more familiar with the locks now and it only took her a few seconds to undo the third lock holding him captive. She was about to explain how to use the keys when the sound of footsteps outside the van drew their attention.

Jesse looked fearfully at the huge male sitting up on the table now. Her eyes flew to the last lock. She had to undo it or he would be an easy target for them. She scooted between the wall of the van and the table and frantically worked at it. They would know something was wrong when they saw the doors unlocked. Her hands shook so badly she almost dropped the key several times.

I should have left him, she thought as the lock finally sprang open. I’ve killed my sisters and myself to rescue those responsible for us being in this position.

Jesse fell back and slid between the bench and the wall of the van as the huge male jerked the last of the chains off of him and wound them around his thick palms. She bit her lip as she watched him lean forward for a moment, as if waiting to attack. That was exactly what he did when they heard the muttered curse outside the door. All she saw was a blur of shadowy movement before the doors to the back of the van exploded outward.

Jesse didn’t wait to see what happened next. She had done what she could to save the huge alien. Now it was up to him to run back to his people. She had her own family to protect. Jumping from the back of the van, she rolled under it before sliding out the opposite side near where she had been hiding. She grabbed the black backpack and squeezed through the ripped sheet metal, ignoring the pain as it cut a deep slice across her stomach.

She ran as fast as she could away from the loud roars and the bloodcurdling screams that filled the night air behind her. She had finally come face to face with one of the aliens and it had left her shaken and confused. In the back of her mind, she hoped he survived and was able to get back to his people. Maybe he could convince the others of his kind that the Earth was better left to its own self-destruction.

Chapter Three

Hunter listened carefully, waiting to see when the human would return. He had worked a small blade out of the hemline of his vest. He was trying to break the metal band around his wrist when he heard the hushed sound of the latch on the door. Relaxing, he hid the blade in the palm of his hand.

It had been several hours since the last man had come out to check on him. He had hoped they felt confident enough in their chains and locks to wait a while, but it would seem they were rightfully paranoid. He would have to work fast once the male left again if he was to save himself.

He frowned when the door barely opened before it closed again. He sniffed the air to see which of the humans had come in this time. He barely controlled his reaction when a delicate, sweet scent washed over him.

He fought the urge to growl in frustration at not being able to taste the air with his tongue. He wanted to know if the air held the same sweet taste as the smell. He did not recognize this scent or understand why he felt such a need to know more about the human who carried it.

A moment later, a small beam of light illuminated the darkness. He could not see the figure of the human because of the way he was strapped down, but he knew from the scent and breathing patterns that it was a female. It didn’t take long before the figure moved far enough to the front of the van for him to see.

Vivid dark brown eyes stared back at him in fear. He couldn’t see much of the female’s face because of the dark cloth that she had over most of her face, but he swore he had never seen so much emotion in one set of eyes before. He wasn’t sure what this human wanted. She had not been with the others. He would have smelled her sweet scent if she had.

A dark thought crossed his mind that she might belong to one of the males. He had not gotten close to the one that had driven the transport that he was in. He had only heard the male’s voice. A low rumble of rage swept through him that any female, much less the one staring back at him, would belong to such a male.

He listened as she spoke in a voice that was barely audible. She paused before ripping the cloth down from her nose and mouth. Her words were soft and it took a moment for the translator embedded in his ears to understand what she was saying.

His whole body tensed when she unwittingly rested her left hand on his stomach. The vibration of the purr that escaped him at her touch shocked him. The purr turned to a growl of anger when she jerked her hand off of him.

His eyes narrowed when she leaned over him to whisper in his ear. Her voice was very soft and held the faint tremor of fear. Her warm breath fanned over his cheek as she explained that she was in danger from the other humans as much as he was if she was caught.

His fists clenched as a fresh wave of rage washed through him at the thought of this female putting her life in danger for him. He forced himself to listen carefully as she explained what she was going to do and asked if he understood what she was saying. He nodded twice to show her he did.

Her fingers were icy cold and shaking as she carefully picked one side of the tape free. He never looked away from her, unsure of what she intended to do next. He hated being defenseless. He was at her mercy and that did not sit well with him as either a male or a Trivator warrior.

Her face creased into a look of apology before she ripped the tape from his mouth. He ignored the burning sting as the tape pulled his skin. Turning his head, he spit the rag out of his mouth with a low snarl of hatred. Turning his head, he glared at the small female and flashed his teeth in warning should she try to harm him.

“Please, listen to me,” the female begged nervously as she glanced at the door before looking at him again. “They want to kill you in a very horrid and painful way. I… I can’t let them do that, but I can’t let you kill me either. Please, please understand me. I can undo the locks holding you down. I’ll undo all of them but one.”

Hunter stiffened as she stepped closer and reached out to touch him. She barely touched his jaw, but it was as if she had suddenly held him in a paralyzing hold. The sensation of her thumb rubbing tenderly against his skin was igniting a fire in his loins that he hadn’t experienced in years.

“Do you understand what I’ve told you?” she asked as she continued to stroke him.

It took a moment for him to focus on what she had said. She would release him. Well, give him the ability to release himself and she was telling him where other warriors could be found. That meant that she had been close to them. He didn’t like the idea of her being around the other warriors. Many of them had not had female company since they came to this world. That made them dangerous, even with the relief rooms set up for them.

“Yes,” he responded harshly when he realized she continued to wait for his answer.

He held himself still as she moved closer to his head and set the small light down near the lock holding the chains around his upper body. After several long minutes, a soft sigh escaped her. A smile of amusement tugged at his lips as she slowly set the lock down. He could have escaped once he had one of his arms free. He felt confident he would have been able to escape if given enough time. He carefully slipped the blade in his palm back into the sheath hidden in his vest.

He paused lifting the chains when the female called out a warning. His eyes followed her as she moved to the third lock. He sat up, carefully holding the chains so that they wouldn’t make any noise.

She opened her mouth to say something to him before turning in horror at the sound of footsteps approaching. Hunter had heard the other human the moment they had begun walking. He planned to rip the last lock off, but the female had already moved to it and was working furiously at undoing it. He flicked his tongue out, finally giving in to the need to taste the air around her. An assortment of flavors hit him hard in the gut. He could taste her terror. She had not been lying when she said the other humans would kill her. The fear was thick in the air around her. He could also scent the faint aroma of blood.

He would have to check the female for injury after he took care of the other humans. As much as it galled him, he owed this female a life debt. Well, life debt might be stretching it as he was confident he could have escaped, but the fact that she was risking her life thinking he was going to be brutally killed was close enough for him. It was obvious she did not have a protector. He would assume that responsibility until a human male could be assigned to her.

He rose up as soon as he was free from the bench and wound the chains around his fists. Holding still, he waited until he heard the male’s voice just outside the door before he made his move. He hit the doors with enough force to rip them from the hinges. The metal door struck the thin male who had been driving, instantly killing him.

He didn’t pause as he jumped from the back of the transport. Using his senses, he rushed across the large empty area between the transport and the room where the other males and the female were. It was time to show them what happens when they have angered a Trivator warrior.

Hunter threw out the chains in his left hand as one of the human males came rushing out of the door of the small room. He snarled in satisfaction when he heard the sound of bone breaking under the blow. The human’s loud scream of agony echoed throughout the building.

He jerked hard on the chain before he turned and rolled to the left as the huge male who had threatened to hang his balls on the back of his truck lifted one of the Earth weapons he carried. The sound of skin and bone ripping made a sickly noise as the chain he had wrapped around the thin human’s arm tore it off as he pulled it away. A single shot silenced the male’s incoherent screams.

“Kill him!” The female yelled out in terror. “Kill him, Kyle.”

“You should have fucking let me earlier,” Kyle snapped back as he moved backwards toward the office. “I can’t see a fucking thing.”

“Don’t let him near me,” the woman whimpered. “Don’t let him near me.”

“Shut the fuck up, Betty,” Kyle bit out. “Get back in the office. If he tries to come through the door, we’ll shoot his ass.”

Hunter chuckled darkly when he heard the door slam behind the human called Kyle. It would appear the female did not care about the male. She had locked him outside with the beast.

“I will slice your balls off,” Hunter whispered menacingly. “But I will not hang them on the back of my transport. I will feed them to you.”

“Stay… stay the fuck back,” Kyle snarled, raising the weapon in his hand and firing into the darkness where Hunter had been. “You just stay the fuck back.”

Hunter was already on the other side of the male. He had scaled the tall beam up to the one that ran over the male’s head. He dropped down lightly on the male’s right side. He grabbed the male’s arm as he swung around and broke it before wrapping his other hand around the male’s neck.

“Now human,” Hunter whispered, flashing his teeth at the male. “Threaten me, now.”

Kyle’s choked cries ended as his body suddenly jerked. His eyes widened for a moment before they glazed over in death. Hunter cursed as he felt a burning in his side. He dropped the body of the male and twisted to the right. Three holes in the door let small beams of light through.

“How bad are you hurt?” Another dark voice asked calmly from next to him.

Hunter bared his teeth at Saber. He had known the minute re-enforcements had shown up. It was one of the traits that made the Trivators such great warriors. They were drawn to each other in time of need, and could react as one when in battle.

“What took you so long?” Hunter snarled out. “They had me strapped to a damn metal bed with chains,” he nodded to the dead human on the floor. “He was threatening to cut my balls off and use them for decorations.”

“We lost you a couple hours ago, but knew we weren’t far. I thought the plan was for us to follow you to where the humans had their lab?” Saber said.

“The plan changed,” Hunter growled. “There was another human here. We can still get the information we need from the female inside.”

“Dagger is good at that,” Saber commented.

“What am I good at?” Dagger said, materializing out of the darkness. “I was about to go after the other human when I heard the shots. You hit?”

“A scratch,” Hunter said with a shrug. “Was the other a female?”

“It smelled like it,” Dagger said with a sharp-tooth grin. “She smelled sweet, even her blood. Did you try to gut her or something? You don’t normally miss if you are close enough to touch skin.”

Hunter frowned at Dagger. “She only had a small amount on her from a wound before she saved me,” he responded.

Saber held up his hand. “What the fuck do you mean ‘before she saved you’? Who saved you?” he asked.

“A human female. She heard what the others planned to do to me,” Hunter said with a frown. “She said she couldn’t let them do that.”

“Maybe it was a trap like the other female. You know that these females cannot be trusted,” Dagger speculated. “She could have been testing you.”

“No,” Hunter replied with confidence. “She was terrified. She said the other humans would kill her if she was caught. She told me where the Support Center was being set up so I could find help. I could hear the truth in her voice and scent her fear. She was not lying.”

“Then why did she smell so strongly of blood if you did not try to kill her?” Dagger asked impatiently.

Hunter’s eyes narrowed. “She was not wounded badly when she was with me,” he bit out. “We will find her once we have taken the other female in.”

Saber nodded. “Let’s get this over with,” he said with a grin. “I’m hungry.”

Hunter watched as Saber swung his foot out and kicked the door. He barely missed getting his head blown off when the female in the room screamed in terror. Dagger snarled at Saber who had dropped and rolled to the side.

“You are going to get your head blown off one of these days,” Hunter commented as Saber stood up and brushed the arm of his sleeve.

“Not with their reaction time,” Saber grinned. “Now, are you going in or is Dagger?”

“Why don’t you?” Dagger asked in exasperation.

“Hey, I did my part,” Saber said. “I opened the door for you two.”

“Shit,” Dagger growled. “I’ll do it.”

The sound of a single gunshot sounded in the room before Dagger had a chance to move. All three men roared in frustration and rage as they smelled the overwhelming stench of blood and brain matter mixed with gunpowder.

“Well, there goes that lead,” Dagger said in disgust.

Chapter Four

Jesse stumbled as she reached the entrance to the ruins of the parking garage. It had taken every ounce of her strength to make it the last few blocks. The only thing that kept her going was knowing that her sisters were depending on her.

She leaned down and let gravity take her to the bottom. She tried to push herself up when she hit the floor but found she didn’t have the strength to stand. Bitter tears of defeat burned her eyes as she struggled unsuccessfully to push herself up.

“Here, let me help,” Taylor said softly.

Jesse smiled weakly at her fifteen-year-old sister. She hissed as the cut on her stomach pulled as she finally stood. She would have fallen again if Taylor hadn’t wrapped her arm around her waist.

“Jordan?” Jesse asked wearily. “How is she?”

“The same,” Taylor replied glumly. “Her fever hasn’t gotten any worse, but the coughing has. I’m worried about her, Jesse. Since the other night... since the other night, she seems to have given up,” she added.

“Well, I have food so maybe that will help,” Jesse whispered. “We all need to eat good tonight.”

“Food,” Taylor’s eyes widened in excitement. “How much?”

“Enough for several days,” Jesse assured her. “Tonight, we all eat.”

“Oh Jesse, you are the best big sister ever!” Taylor laughed. “This will cheer Jordan up. It has to!”

“I hope so, squirt,” Jesse said affectionately. “I really, really hope so. Why don’t you warm it up while I take care of the cut I got. I don’t want to take a chance of it getting infected.”

“Are you sure? I can help you first,” Taylor said, biting her lip.

Jesse could tell her little sister was torn between wanting to help her and the idea of having some warm food in her belly. She knew that both of her sisters needed to eat. She could feel her second wind coming back to her. It would help them all if Taylor got the food ready.

“I can take care of the cut. It isn’t more than a scratch,” Jesse lied. “I would love it if there was some hot food in my belly after I’m cleaned up a bit.”

“Okay,” Taylor grinned. “I’ll have it ready in no time.”

“Taylor,” Jesse called out quietly as her sister headed for their makeshift living area.

“Yeah?” Taylor asked, turning to look at Jesse.

“Have I told you lately how much I love you?” Jesse asked.

Taylor grinned. “I love you too, Jesse,” she said before turning and walking quickly away.

Jesse watched until Taylor was out of sight before she raised a shaking hand to her head. She was freezing, yet her forehead was burning up. She had caught whatever Jordan had. On top of that, she could feel the blood sticking to the front of her black shirt.

She stumbled over to the corner and gripped her stomach over the deep cut. Dry heaves shook her as her stomach rebelled. After several minutes, she forced her body to straighten. She was shaking so badly her legs wouldn’t hold her up any longer and she slid down the wall to the cold, hard floor. She was so tired, so very, very tired. She would close her eyes for just a few minutes. That was all she needed. Just a few minutes of rest to gather her strength, and she would get up and take care of the cut on her arm and stomach.

Just a few minutes, she thought as darkness closed in on her.

“This way,” Hunter called out, sniffing the air.

“This human is pretty smart,” Saber commented as he pushed aside the door he had broken off. “I feel like we are running an obstacle course.”

“I found more blood,” Dagger called out. “She went this way.”

Hunter looked at the bloody handprint on the wall. They had spent the last two hours following the female’s scent. It was taking longer than normal to track her because she had woven in and out of the abandoned buildings and back tracked through alleys forcing them to retrace their steps over and over again.

He reached out and touched the small handprint outlined in blood. It was tiny compared to his hand. He looked around the rubble of the collapsed building. It was only the fact that she had left a trail of blood that they had been successful in tracking her. He was sure of that.

“Her tracks have disappeared again,” Saber bit out in frustration. “She must have doubled back again.”

“No,” Hunter murmured, looking at the pile of rubble. “She is here.”

“Yeah, but where is here?” Dagger asked, running his hand through his long white hair. “There is a mountain of rubble that she could be hiding in.”

Hunter moved forward, looking intently at the ground. The slight indent of the heel of a boot showed in the soft dirt. He knelt down and looked around. His eyes widened on the narrow opening in between the huge slabs of concrete. Standing, he walked forward, keeping his eyes on the ground.

He paused when he saw another slight mark. It would have gone unnoticed to most, especially at night. He ducked under the huge slab and peered down the dark opening. Sniffing the air, the smell of blood was thicker in the confined area. She had gone down into the fallen building.

Anger burned in him that the female would place herself in so much danger. If the ground were to shift at all, tons of concrete would collapse even further into the unstable pile. He stepped onto the slanted sheet of concrete and slid down it.

A moment later, Dagger and Saber were standing next to him. Both men looked around the area. Hunter could understand their surprise and appreciation for the human’s resourcefulness. He had not expected to find himself in a cavern below ground.

He held up his hand when he heard the soft murmur of voices. He shook his head when Dagger and Saber looked at him. He held up two fingers then a third. They nodded. There were at least two others down here in addition to the female they had been tracking.

They spread out. Hunter took the front while Dagger and Saber each took a side. They would come up on all sides of the group. Moving silently, they stepped closer to the area where a small fire burned.

Jordan held the cloth over her mouth to muffle her cough before she lay back on the blankets. Her eyes were glazed with fatigue, pain, and fever. There wasn’t a part of her body that didn’t hurt.

“Where is Jesse?” Jordan asked as Taylor brought her over some of the soup she had warmed up. “It shouldn’t take her this long.”

“She said she had a cut she needed to clean,” Taylor said, helping Jordan to sit up so she could eat. “She’ll be back any minute. You need to eat. This will help you get stronger.”

Jordan sighed tiredly. “I don’t think I’ll ever be strong again,” she said in resignation.

“Don’t!” Taylor said, holding the cup up to Jordan’s lips. “We promised each other we would never give up. It is okay to feel down. You deserve it after… well, you deserve it, but don’t ever give up, Jordan. We need you. I need you,” she said fiercely.

Jordan took a sip of the hot soup and moaned in pleasure as the warmth filled her stomach for the first time in days. She greedily sipped some more. With a shaky smile, she reached to take the cup from Taylor.

“I can do this,” Jordan whispered. “You need to eat too.”

Taylor reluctantly handed Jordan the battered cup of soup. She brushed Jordan’s tangled brown hair back from her face. A dark bruise covered the right side from her cheekbone to her chin where one of the men had hit her.

“I love you, Jordan,” Taylor said. “I’ll be glad when you are feeling better.”

“Me too, Taylor,” Jordan whispered tearfully. “I hate being like this.”

“One day we’ll have a house of our own. Maybe we can talk Jesse into stealing a car and we can go up to Wenatchee,” Taylor suggested. “We could live in the cabin.”

“If it is still…,” Jordan’s voice faded and her hand started trembling uncontrollably as her eyes widened.

“What’s wrong?” Taylor asked, turning around.

A low cry echoed throughout the parking garage as three huge forms stepped out of the darkness. Taylor stepped back with another cry, trying to shield Jordan, who sat frozen on the pallet. Both girls stared in horror as the aliens they had avoided successfully for the past four years stepped into the light of their makeshift campfire.

Chapter Five

Jesse faded in and out of consciousness. She felt her body being gently turned until she was lying flat on her back. She immediately tried to turn back so she could curl up into a ball, but something prevented her from rolling onto her side.

She pushed weakly at the arms picking her up. She didn’t want to be moved until she felt the heat radiating from the source trying to hold her. She immediately turned into it and burrowed as close as she could get. She didn’t care where the heat was coming from as long as it warmed her. She was freezing.

A low cry echoed in the air, dragging her back to consciousness. It took a moment for her to realize it had come from Taylor. Her little sister sounded frightened.

“Taylor? Baby, it’s okay,” Jesse forced out in a slurred whisper. “I’ll protect you.”

“You have to help her,” Taylor’s voice was saying before it faded.

Who has to help who? Jesse wondered vaguely. Jordan. Jordan was sick. Was she doing worse?

“Jordan!” Jesse cried out sharply. “Jordan!”

“Shush, she will be well soon,” a deep voice responded.

“I have… protect…,” Jesse choked out before the world started to fade again. “Please… don’t.”

“Don’t what, little female?” the deep voice asked.

Jesse forced her fevered eyes open. “Please… don’t hurt them. They… they are all I have… left,” she begged, staring into the dark yellow eyes.

“I will protect them with my life,” the dark voice promised.

Jesse didn’t respond. She stared intently into the familiar, but not so familiar yellow eyes for several long seconds before she closed her eyes in exhaustion. She had no other choice but to believe the strange alien male would keep his promise. She was too weak to do otherwise. She turned her face into the warmth of his body.

She had nothing left inside of her to give. She had used up all her strength to get back to her sisters. She didn’t trust anyone but her sisters anymore. She hoped she wasn’t making a fatal mistake in believing that the alien male holding her would keep his word.

Hunter sat next to the bed in his quarters in the housing that had been set up for the warriors. He had been given special permission to bring the three females with him. The two younger females were staying in the living quarters next to his. This one, this one he had claimed as his Amate. It was the only thing he could think of doing so he could receive permission to keep the females with him.

He lifted the pale, limp wrist lying on his bed in his hand. It was so delicate he was afraid he might unwittingly crush the bones by mistake. He stared down at the intricate tattoos that had been etched into the female’s skin. An identical one circled his own. The words and their meaning held him mesmerized.

When he had claimed her as his Amate, he had given his word as a warrior that he would accept responsibility for her and her sisters. He had promised to protect, care for, and accept them as his own. He now had a family. This was a gift unlike any other to a Trivator warrior.

He gently traced his mark. He had hoped to join with a female when he returned to his world. Now, that would never happen. He had owed this female a life debt. He had no doubt that the other humans would have killed him if his team would have been late in finding him or he couldn’t escape. He had also given his word that he would protect the females with his life and he meant it.

This female and the other one had been very ill. Dagger had lifted the other female despite her protests that she didn’t need help. Saber had to restrain the youngest female when she moved to protect the injured one.