Chapter Twelve


Rae looked up at the sky as they moved away from the restaurant. She suggested going to a club downtown, but Ferrix was deep in conversation with Kat, and Nin wanted to head back to the house. Xavi had grown quiet after her sister left. Ferrix, Xavi, and Kat were halfway up the sidewalk and disappeared around a bend.

The light from the moon illuminated the street and bathed the night in blue-white luminescence. Nin was beside her as they walked up the sidewalk and turned the corner. His presence beside her made Rae feel safe and protected, a pleasant feeling she had missed for years. Rae enjoyed the night with her friends, especially getting to know Nin, but Basil made everything awkward. They walked in silence as she thought about how embarrassing it’d been when he showed up.

Rae glanced at him sideways. “I’m sorry about how things went with my boss.”

“It isn’t your fault. I’ve never wanted to punch someone as badly as I did tonight.”

She laughed. “I get what you mean.”

Nin looked away. “He wants you. Do you have feelings for him?”

Rae shook her head. “Absolutely not. You think we’re from different worlds, but Basil is from another planet!”

“Which one?”

“No, not like that.” Rae was still laughing. “I mean that he’s a bro and not my type, and we don’t care about the same things.”

Nin’s arm brushed against hers as they walked, a soothing warmth against the contours of her skin, his fingers inches from her. “What do you care about?”

Rae smiled. “I’ve always taken what life handed me and expected to be happy with it, but sometimes it’s hard not to be jaded. I’ve accepted the things I can’t change and don’t ask for much. I’m not sure exactly what I want, but I want to be happy with my life. And I want to make a difference in the world.”

“You already do make a difference. I think you’re amazing. You put your heart and soul into your job and go above and beyond what most people would do to help those around you. You helped us, and you didn’t have to do that.”

Rae shook her head. “Well, I couldn’t let you wander around town looking like you did, but Kat helped more than me.”

Nin shook his head. “You gave us a safe place to stay, and not everyone would open their home to strangers from another world. You’ve done more than you realize.”

The skeletons of the past threatened to hold back her dream of a new life. Even if fear and regret unsettled her effort to give herself a future, she had to put the past where it belonged, shove it into a grave so deep it couldn’t climb back out and wrap its hands around her neck choking her.

She inhaled a deep breath. “Were you serious about what you said when you offered to help me start my own agency? Granted, it would help both of us if I came with you, but why would you offer to help me even if I didn’t?”

H nodded and leaned in closer, his voice a deep, velvety caress that sent a shiver down her spine. “Of course, I was serious or wouldn’t have offered.”

“How is that possible? How would you be able to help me if I stayed?”

Nin glanced to the side, his cheeks crimson. “I’m a prince on my planet, and we have resources. Our technology is advanced compared to yours, and it would be effortless to create an account with funds to access in your currency.”

“That sounds like an elaborate hoax. You could make money appear out of thin air, and you’re a prince!” Rae shook her head. “Is there anything else you’re not telling me? Why would you help me anyway?”

Nin took a deep breath and exhaled. “Your boss is vile, and he’ll never leave you alone. Nothing I can say will convince you this isn’t a trick, but I’m sincere.”

That much was true, but she didn’t understand why he would do that if there wasn’t something in it for him. “I’m not trying to be difficult, but I don’t understand why you’d want to help me unless I came with you.”

“Because you’re important to me. I want to spend more time with you. I want you to want me and come with me willingly. I want you to trust me, and I think that you could help me form an agency that could help Erion men find fertile mates. If you’re not ready, I will move on, but I want you to be happy. I want you to be safe, and that man’s intentions are unsavory.”

Rae couldn’t stop herself from smiling. That was so sweet and unmistakable that Nin cared about her. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to doubt you. Can I ask you something?”

Nin smiled. “You just did, so keep the questions coming.”

“You came here to find a mate to pair bond with for your planet’s survival. What about love? Does that matter to you?” Rae cringed, almost afraid of the answer.

His voice was soft. “You’re my mate, and I hope you’ll trust me enough to come home with me. And I hope one day, you’ll love me.”

Nin was everything she wanted in a man, but she was afraid of getting hurt again. She was compelled to be honest with him for whatever reason. Rae couldn’t stop fidgeting under the intensity of his gaze. “I’m attracted to you, but I don’t think I’m ready to go with you to Erion.”

“I understand. I would never hurt you, and there is no pressure.”

Rae smiled. “You read my mind.”

It didn’t seem like mating was a choice when Nin first showed up on her lawn, and she preferred how he treated her now.

Nin flushed. “I’m sorry, but I can’t turn it off.”

Rae sighed. “It’s okay.”

Nin searched her eyes. “I want us to have a chance to get to know each other and see what happens. I want to be with you, but it’s up to you. You can trust me, and I’ll always be honest with you.”

Could Nin see her ex’s lies with his telepathy? Was that why he was being so open? Of course, her ex hid the affair and his drug addiction, but Rae missed so many red flags. He was a black hole sucking everything into him, and her soul tore into subatomic components and squeezed until she no longer existed. He had never known or loved her, only the reflection of himself he projected onto her. She stood on her own, facing the world, but Rae wasn’t sure about going to Erion. Her attraction and feelings for Nin were still undeniable.

Her voice cracked. “I wish I had the perfect words to tell you, but the truth is that I’m broken.”

Nin stopped walking and turned to face her. He cupped her face, and she leaned into his touch. “I don’t believe that for a second. You are fearless and strong, and I saw that tonight with how you handled yourself during the conflict with that selfish idiot.”

Rae laughed. “Basil can be awful, but I’m used to dealing with him. When I say that I’m broken, I mean when it comes to romantic relationships.”

Nin shoved his hands in his pockets, his eyes focused on the sidewalk ahead of them. “Relationships are built on two things, or at least by my definition: respect and trust. Both elements have to be there. And it has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don’t have trust, the relationship will crumble.”

Her lips parted, but then she closed them. “I’m scared of committing to anyone again, but I’m here with you now, and I haven’t run away. I hope that means something.”

Nin held her hand as they continued walking. “I’m not going to pretend to understand what you’ve been through, but your heart is generous and kind. I admire that about you.”

“Thank you.” Aliens were so candid that it was hard to get used to, but it was nice not needing to guess what a guy was thinking for once. “I’d like that too.”

His hand was warm and fit perfectly around hers even though it was so much bigger. “I had fun tonight, and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. Thank you for taking us out to dinner.”

Rae smiled. “You’re welcome. I’m glad I had a chance to meet you.”

“I’m glad I had a chance to meet you too.”

It was hard to tell what would happen next, but she wouldn’t freak out. Rae was going to trust him and see where things went. Even if her ex’s voice were a constant whine in her head, she wouldn’t let her past determine her future. Not anymore.

Rae gazed up at the stars. “Tell me more about your planet.”

Nin’s eyes crinkled when he smiled. “My planet is a place of sprawling green forests, rushing blue rivers, and majestic mountains. Some cities tower into the sky. My world is much like yours, and the terrain varies by region.”

“And what are the people like?”

He squeezed her hand. “The people of my planet are highly intelligent. We struggle with our fertility issues, but we’re strong people. We have always survived, and we will prevail.”

Rae was sure that she saw a flash of sadness in his eyes. “I’m sure you will be able to help your people.”

Nin sighed. “I have a tremendous responsibility and a burden I was unprepared for, but I’m honor-bound to help my people. I wish Ferrix would rule once our father is gone, but that will fall to me.”

Rae realized that he wasn’t kidding. “I’m sure you’ll be a great ruler someday.”

Nin smiled. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“I meant it as one.” Rae squeezed his hand in return.

Nin was the first person she’d met who had their entire royal life planned out for them. It made her nervous but secure in a way that she hadn’t in years.

Rae winced. She remembered an argument with her ex-husband. He walked into their bedroom, questioning if this was all there was in life. He meant the daily grind, going to work, coming home to her, and gestured at her as if she was the most disgusting thing he had ever seen. Rae had been sick a lot when they were together. It was amazing what stress could do to your body and how it could break you down. After his brother died, he turned to drugs, and their marriage was big on drama. Then came the chronic cheating. He moved his mistress, who had a felony record, into their marital home only two weeks after Rae left. Rae was lucky to be free because addiction had nothing to do with abuse. His need for control was ugly and separate, even though the booze and drugs fueled it. She swallowed the lump in her throat.

Nin stopped walking again. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into his arms. “I hope that you find happiness. You’re an incredible woman, and I hope you know that.”

Rae closed her eyes as she absorbed the warmth of his body against hers. If he used some alien mind control on her, she didn’t care. Her heart had gotten lost in the moment. Rae tilted her head back to meet his gaze.

“Is this a good idea?”

Nin searched her eyes. “I want to kiss you.”

Rae wanted to kiss him, needed to feel wanted and desired again. “Then kiss me.”

He leaned over and pressed his lips to hers—electricity shot through her. Nin deepened the kiss, sliding his tongue into her mouth. Rae’s entire body hummed with desire for this man. She wasn’t sure about being with an alien prince, but Rae wanted him tonight.

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