2016 Darrell Award – Best SciFi Fantasy Novella
2015 LR Cafe – Best SciFi Romance Nominee
Brielle has waited faithfully for her fiance to return from Terran Prime, only to discover she’s been engaged to a lying, cheating bastard who tosses her out on her rear the moment he’s back on Earth.
Not one to go down without a fight, Brielle will do anything to ensure her survival — even sign up for a bride exchange on another world.
Syl has lived his life in his lab, always preoccupied with his experiments. But the moment he sees Brielle, he realizes that perhaps his life has been missing something after all.
Wanting and having are two different things. What would an exotic looking female like Brielle want with an alien geek like him?
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2015 Jessica Coulter Smith
The coffee scorched Brielle’s throat as she gulped the hot brew. Her hand clutched the cup tightly as she watched the men and women exit the space shuttle. She rubbed the back of her neck and then clutched her purse strap as she waited. It had been nearly a year since she’d seen her fiance, and over six months since she’d had contact with him. As a medical doctor, he’d volunteered to travel to the space station on Terran to serve on their medical staff for one year. Why he was coming home two months early, she didn’t know, but she wouldn’t question it. She’d been lonely without Aaron by her side.
A familiar head of sandy hair appeared. She bit her lip, adjusted her clothes and then blew out a breath as she watched him, her heart thrumming against her breast. As he drew nearer, she saw there was a woman clutching his arm. A tall, busty blonde who was grinning from ear to ear. Had they met on the shuttle? Her brow furrowed as her heart slowed its pace. She frowned and looked around, but there was no one else waiting in this section except her.
Aaron looked up and spotted her. The smile on his face froze for a moment, and she thought she saw a hint of panic in his eyes. He came closer, stopping a few feet away, the blonde still clutching his arm. Brielle looked at the blonde, then her fiance, wondering who the woman was.
Aaron cleared his throat. “Brie. Good to see you again.”
“We agreed I would meet your shuttle when you returned. I was a little surprised when I received the call from the station that you were coming home sooner than expected.”
“I didn’t think you’d be here.” He rubbed the back of his neck and shifted from foot to foot. “This is rather awkward.”
“Why is it awkward? I know we haven’t seen each other in nearly a year, but–“
“It isn’t that,” he interrupted. “Brielle, this is Melissa.”
Brielle mustered a smile for the blonde. “How do you do? Did the two of you meet on the shuttle?”
“Um, no.” Aaron fidgeted. “I’ve been seeing Melissa for the last four months. Brielle, I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to spit it out. Melissa and I are engaged.”
Brie’s gaze bounced from her fiance to the blonde and back again. “I don’t understand. You’re engaged to me. We’ve been engaged nearly two years.”
“I didn’t plan for this to happen; it just did. I met Melissa during a routine exam and things just clicked between us. Hurting you is the last thing I’d ever want to do, but I can’t deny what my heart wants. And it wants Melissa. I tried to contact you, to let you know, but communications have been down since February.”
“We live together!”
He fidgeted again. “About that… I need you to move out. Melissa’s lease is up on her place next week and she needs a place to stay. Since we’re getting married, it only makes sense for her to move in with me. It was my place first, after all. Until you have your things packed, I’ll stay at her place.”
Brie clenched her hands at her sides, her nails biting into her palms. Heat worked its way up her body and she felt color bloom in her cheeks. She bared her teeth at her now ex-fiance, and before she thought better of it, took a swing at the puppy-dog expression staring at her. Her fist connected with his left eye, the edge of his cheekbone bruising her knuckles.
“Ow! Ow! Ow!” Brielle shook her hand, but felt deep satisfaction at the color now budding around the bastard’s eye.
Two security guards hurried her way, their hands on their weapons, as if they were going to draw on her at any moment. It figured. She was the one getting her heart ripped out, but they would surely take Aaron’s side. Assholes always stuck together.
“Is there a problem?” the first security guard asked.
“This crazy bitch just hit me.” Aaron gave her a furious one-eyed glare. “I want her arrested.”
Brie folded her arms over her chest. “If I’m in jail, I can’t pack my things. If I can’t pack my things, you can’t move your slut into the apartment.”
“There’s such a thing as Goodwill.”
She gasped. “You wouldn’t dare donate my belongings!”
“Arrest her!” Aaron demanded. “I want the bitch locked up.”
The second security guard pulled out a set of cuffs and Brie turned her glare his way.
“Of course you’re going to take his side! Never mind that he’s been engaged to me while shacking up with this bimbo for the past four months! Men! You’re all alike.”
“Not all of us,” a deep voice rumbled behind her.
Brie spun to face the interloper, a sharp retort on her tongue. As her gaze fastened on the light lilac skin stretched across a broad chest, the words died on her lips.
She looked up, captured by dark purple eyes. She’d of course heard of Terrans before, but she’d never actually met one. They tended to shy away from cameras so this was her first chance to see one.
“Captain, this doesn’t concern you,” one of the security guards said. “The woman is human and so is the man she attacked. Your laws don’t apply here.”
“From what I heard, the man deserved what he got. If he were still on Terran, his punishment would be far worse. We value women on my world. To throw one away is a severe crime.”
She heard Aaron gulp behind her.
“But we aren’t on Terran,” Aaron said. “We’re back on Earth, so the rules of your planet don’t apply.”
“That isn’t technically true,” the Terran said, pointing to a sign over their heads. “You haven’t crossed the threshold yet. When you broke up with your fiancee, you were very much still under Terran rule.”
Brie didn’t know why the alien was helping her, but if he wanted to punish Aaron, she wasn’t going to argue with him. Hell, she’d applaud his efforts and help him snap the cuffs into place. Arrogant bastard deserved whatever hand fate was about to deal him. She turned to face Aaron, wanting to see the fear in his eyes.
Her ex-fiance was pale, deathly pale. The spineless coward’s lips trembled when faced with the massive alien at her back. She felt the captain’s heat envelop her as he leaned forward, his lips brushing her ear.
“What do you think his punishment should be? Locked in the dungeons for the next ten years? Forced to work the mining camps?”
“Is there a punishment where his balls are removed?” she asked, staring Aaron down. He reached for his crotch, and if possible, he paled even further. The man was shaking and she loved every minute of it.
The alien brandished a blade, the silver edge gleaming in the sunlight. “He hasn’t broken a law that would yield that punishment, but I will be happy to take on the task. Any man who cheats on his woman shouldn’t be able to procreate.”
The guards began to swear. “Captain, you don’t want to do this. Even your people would frown on such drastic measures. Incarcerate him if you must, but leave him intact.”
He lowered the weapon. “Unfortunately, they’re right. As much as I would love to do this for you, it’s against our laws.”
“Just let the spineless wimp go.” She turned to face the alien once more, looking up to meet his amethyst gaze. “He obviously never loved me, and honestly, I’m not as hurt as I should be. It’s painful to know he’s chosen someone else over me, and my pride has suffered, but my heart isn’t breaking like it should. What does that say about me?”
The alien smiled at her, a dimple flashing in his left cheek. “It means your heart was not engaged because he wasn’t your… what’s that Earth term? Soul mate?”
When she thought of Aaron’s thin frame and pasty skin, compared to the hunky alien in front of her, she couldn’t remember what she ever saw in the guy. Sure, Aaron was usually soft-spoken and cultured, but he was a sissy. Brielle was tired of sissies. She wanted a real man, a man who could make her feel cared for and safe. She wanted strong arms to wrap around her at night, not spindly arms that couldn’t lift a window without assistance.
“No,” she agreed. “We weren’t soul mates.”
“On my planet, you would be a prize for any warrior. Why have you not taken part in the bride exchange? Your family would be paid handsomely if you should decide to take part. I can promise that you would have your choice of warriors.”
“Terran warriors,” she clarified.
He nodded. “And if you’re into sharing, there are those on my planet who would be happy to oblige you, as long as you were accepting two or more males into your bed.”
Brielle’s breath caught in her throat. She could barely imagine holding on to one of these large males, much less two. She’d heard they were rather well-endowed and worried they would split her in two. She opened her mouth to respond, but snapped it shut. A bride exchange? As of this moment, she had no home. Her family wasn’t about to take her in; they lived in a small cabin in the Kentucky hollows. Growing up, she’d shared a room with her three sisters, two of whom were still living at home.
The alien’s smile broadened. “You’re thinking about it, aren’t you?”