Copyright© 2014 Jennifer Denys
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WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Romance on the Go TM Jennifer Denys Copyright © 2014
Taran lifted his head and tasted the air with his forked tongue.
Oh yes. I can taste humans. Excellent.
Glancing around him, Taran analyzed his opponents, all of them due to take part in a manhunt on his rocky, volcanic planet, called Cinattra. This manhunt was for human men and took place just once every three turns of his planet, or thereabouts. It depended on getting enough subjects. Unfortunately, the humans did not come willingly, and so were stolen away from their planet in secret. The human womanhunts were much more frequent, however, Taran preferred the male of a species, particularly human men.
He growled as he looked at the assembled crowd.
There were far more competitors than humans. The event was open to all aliens, not just native Cinattrans like him. Taran was angry at this policy as it meant he had missed out on the last hunt. All the human males had been caught before he found any, although he still fought over one. Young and unformed in body back then, he subsequently spent quite some time recuperating from his injuries afterwards.
In the intervening years he exercised hard to build up his strength. Still short for his species, a reptilian race, Taran was now incredibly strong, his skin tight over his rippling muscles. He was very pleased with his powerful body, and often attracted admiring looks from all sorts, even women.
But this time, he was determined to get himself a human, a male, of course. When he first saw this species as a child, he had been astonished by their soft, pink skin, so different from his own red skin with scales down his side. The humans had only hair to cover their delicate skin. No scales at all. And they were tail-less!
“Do you think to get yourself a human, Cinattran?”
Taran immediately knew the words whispered in his ear came from an Espoornian. He resisted the urge to cower before the very tall, very fair-haired person from the neighboring system. They had conquered his planet several centuries before his people rose up and declared independence. Since then, an uneasy truce had existed between their two races.
Stepping away so he didn’t have to tip his head back too far, he almost gasped out loud. This was an Espoornian he could happily fuck—slender and beautiful like many of his race, although this one was particularly exquisite, long faced with high cheekbones and mesmerizing amber eyes. If he was anything like his brethren, white feathers would trail down his spine to cover his butt. Not that Taran had seen the phenomena, just heard about it. He wished the Espoornian wasn’t so covered up so he could see. Sadly, his neighboring alien was wearing the usual yellow clothing preferred by his people—tunic, trousers, boots, and a coat that trailed to his calves.
Finding himself inexplicably drawn to this being, Taran studied the other alien and recollected him being at the captives’ compound. His name was Suva. A lovely name.
No! I want a human.
He tensed, recalling his original plan, determined to stick to it. “Don’t get in my way, Espoornian. I have no problems taking you down if you do. I don’t care if you die in the process.” Taran spat this out, pretending a bravado he didn’t have. He wouldn’t really kill him. Many people were injured in these hunts, however his species was about face, their threats often inconsequential. And they usually worked.
Not this time. The other being laughed loudly. “Ha ha. I know you, little Taran. You are still young. Sheathe your foolish claws.”
That angered Taran and he clenched his fists, his talons digging into his palms. “I have passed my adulthood.” This was a matter of pride. A Cinattran took part in a solemn ceremony when they passed from childhood. His voice sounded shrill and loud in the midday air, and several other hunters glanced over in their direction. They looked away when he growled at them, some chuckling benevolently, some annoyed.
Suva just smiled. “Well, we will see which of us gets a human.”
Taran snorted and turned away just as he heard a blast from the reyvik stone which signaled that the humans were about to be released. He grinned, pushing his argument aside, eager to begin.
The humans were given thirty tinag before the hunters were let go. Taran stormed about impatiently. It seemed such a long wait. He studiously avoided Suva, who rested against a large boulder, one ankle negligently crossed over the other.
So intent was he on the Espoornian that Taran nearly missed the second blast on the reyvik, indicating the hunters could now go. As he glanced over his shoulder to smirk at his nemesis, he could see Suva was no longer there, and his smile dropped.
May his manhood rot!
Taran told himself to forget Suva now and concentrate on the hunt or he’d miss out yet again. Holding back his urge to chase after the others, he tasted the air, picking out individual human tastes, discarding some, considering others.
Then he tasted one—ripe, rich, sweating. “Oh yes, that’s the one.”
East. His human had gone east, away from Taran’s compatriots. That was excellent. The bulk of the hunters would go with the main group of fleeing captives who were headed in the opposite direction. Less competition for him.
Finally setting off, Taran didn’t immediately go that way as he didn’t want anyone following him, so he went southeast instead, making for some caves. Stopping at the entrance, he looked around and smiled. No one was anywhere near. Not many people knew there was a tunnel from these caves which curved sharply around to come out some distance away—in the east.
Sprinting inside, his black eyes quickly adjusted to the dark. His people were used to living underground. It wasn’t long before he came out into bright sunshine exactly where he wanted. He stopped to allow his inner eyelid to drop down, protecting his eyes from the bright glare of the sun.
Taran stumbled as he whipped around suddenly, straining his neck in the process. The Espoornian was leaning against an Uloa tree, shaded by its wide leaves.
Where in all the holy hells did Suva come from?
“What are you doing here?” He growled, as was the custom of his people. It normally intimidated others. Clearly not Suva.
The Espoornian shrugged. “My instinct told me the human would come this way. You must have thought so, too.”
Frowning, Taran asked, “What human?”
He tried to pretend innocence, however Suva simply laughed. “Oh, come on. The human we are both interested in. I saw you at the cages, eyeing each and every one of the captives. I was aware the instant you saw him. The tall, dark-haired human, with eyes the color of the midday sky in high summer.”
It was Taran’s turn to shrug, trying not to show his feelings.
Damn! Trust that one to be after his human.
Tossing his long, thick, red hair tied in a single plait over his shoulder, he set off running, nimbly jumping from rock to rock, despite having no foot coverings. His people rarely wore anything much, usually just a skirt covering their lower half. His was black leather with brightly colored jewels embedded in the fabric, which cost him many credits. It stopped at his knees and various weapons and tools hung from the waistband. His chest was bare, except for a matching band around his neck. He wasn’t sure when he first started wearing that.
Gaining distance between them, Taran ignored the mocking laughter coming from behind him. Unfortunately, he hadn’t reckoned on the Espoornian’s long legs, and he soon heard Suva coming up behind him. Taran cursed. He knew he couldn’t outrun this alien, so he just pretended his nemesis wasn’t there. If it came to a fight between them over the human, Taran knew his was the greater strength.
The two men travelled in silence, keeping pace with each other, traversing a dry waterbed, steep cliff, and volcanic spring. Taran admired the easy elegance of the other’s movements, so different from his own heavy, but sure-footed gait.
Finally, Taran slowed down as he needed to get his bearings and check on the position of his quarry. Tasting the air once more, he was immediately aware that the human’s scent was growing stronger.
Good! He was on the right track.
His opponent also stopped. “He’s close.”
Taran snorted at the Espoornian’s rather obvious statement. “Indeed. And he’s hiding somewhere off the ground.”
Suva turned to Taran, clearly astonished. “How can you tell that?”
Puffing his chest out in pride, he said, “His taste is higher up. Can’t you tell?”
He wasn’t expecting Suva to reach over and cup his chin, rubbing his long thumb over Taran’s cheek as he smiled at him. “I’m impressed.”
It only lasted a moment and then Suva was gone, leaving Taran astonished and angry that he’d let his guard down. He scrubbed at his cheek, trying to wipe off the tingling sensation that lingered.
He was confused now, not sure who he wanted. Espoornian or Human?