Excerpt from Changed: Mated to the Alien Alpha by Robin Moray
Fuck, he’s beautiful. Seven feet tall and definitely humanoid, long muscular limbs ending in long-fingered hands. He’s a deep, beautiful indigo, with dark markings over him like diamonds. His ears are elongated, and look tipped with something like fur, and he has thick black hair spilling from the crown of his head, down the back of his neck, and over his shoulders like a cloak.
And he’s watching me, eyes flickering from me to the lifesigns detector screeching on the bank of the pool.
I move toward it slowly, not wanting to spook him. “It’s okay,” I say. “I’m just gonna turn this off.” I set it to ignore him, like it ignores me, while keeping an eye out for other things just in case.
He hasn’t moved, he’s just standing there on his rock, watching me.
I glance up. The drone is facing me. That’s no good. I reach blindly for the remote and get it to switch targets to him. It locks on at once, and there. I’m getting footage of my cryptid. Fuck yes, Mike is going to lose his fucking mind.
Who am I kidding? I’m losing my fucking mind.
He’s still just watching me, head tilted as if he doesn’t know what he’s seeing. I wonder how I look to him. Small and pale, and woefully lacking in hair. I probably look like a naked sphynx cat, pink and wrinkly and gross.
Well, he’s definitely not gross. Even if he didn’t look so human he’d be beautiful. I mean, I am a xenobiologist after all. I’m not grossed out by weird carapaces or spines or too many legs. Creatures all over the galaxy are beautiful, in their way. But this guy? He’s objectively the hottest thing I’ve ever seen. Period.
And he can’t seem to stop staring at me.
Okay. This is a first contact situation. I’m supposed to know how to handle these, though I’ve never had to do it on my own. Basically, you do the whole ‘we come in peace’ thing and try to establish a rapport, but don’t let them take advantage of you. That means walking the fine line between being friendly and being dominant. Looking at him though, I have no idea how to be dominant with a creature like this.
Fuck, he’s just hot, okay? And I don’t really know what to do with that.
“Hey, buddy,” I say, which is definitely not in the ‘establishing first contact’ handbook, but I’m flustered. Hotness like this doesn’t just walk up to my bathing pool every day. “Hi there.” I smile, but without teeth, and make eye contact. I’m ready to drop the eye contact if he gets aggressive, but for now I try it out, just to see what happens.
He doesn’t attack me. That’s good. He’s holding what looks like a spear in one hand, but he’s not ready to throw it yet, just seems to be holding it, the way you hold a datapad when you’re not using it, just for comfort.
“Hi,” I say again. ‘Hi’ is not standard Conlat, but it’s a good start, I hear. It’s easy, and it comes naturally to a lot of people. I worked once with a Spanglish speaker who used ‘Hola’ to great effect, so you know, you work with what feels good to you.
He just looks at me.
Hmm. I try lifting a hand to shoulder height, palm out to show I’m not holding anything, and I wave at him. He watches me again, and for a while I think I’m not getting anything back but then, hesitantly, he lifts his unoccupied hand, and waves back.
Holy fucking shit.
“Yeah, that’s right. Hi.” And I wave again. He waves back, opening his mouth. What comes out is a jumble of syllables, and I reach very slowly to Tina to switch her on. She can record this and start working out patterns. She’s networked to the drone, so she can start with whatever that was he just said and work from there.
In the meantime, I have to do things the old fashioned way.
“Cameron,” I say, touching my chest with both hands. Then I gesture up to him. It doesn’t always work. On Yuanfang III it nearly got someone eaten, because it looked too close to the ritual sign for ‘I offer myself up graciously for consumption’. I’m betting that’s not going to happen again.
Instead, what happens is that he puts down his spear. That’s good. Then he shrugs off a bandolier he had slung across his chest. It’s hung with what looks like a bundle wrapped in some kind of leather, and he sets that down too.
And then he reaches for the fastenings of the kilt he has slung about his waist and—oh my God…
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