The most likely conclusion to my current predicament is psychosis.
Much more likely than actual alien abduction.
Significantly more likely than impending forced nuptials with a giant primitive alien whose society never evolved a sense of humor.
But life in a horny space-barbarian’s cave isn’t all bad…
Did I mention that he vibrates?
He frowned deeper. “Husband need protect wife.”
I clenched my now working fist. Not that I itched to fight a magical warrior but I wasn’t helpless. Who escaped from Alien people smugglers? Who led a hundred woman to freedom? Who now risked her life on the planet of scorching heat, to make sure they stayed safe? “I’m perfectly capable.”
“Knowing wife is capable.” His brow rippled.
My gaze snapped up to his.
His fingers tightened just a little around mine. Not much, but enough. Enough for my muscles to seize, for my body to know—he could grind me to a pulp without even exerting an effort. He didn’t need to issue a single statement about his strength.
“This not mean capable, not capable. This not mean worthy, not worthy.” He opened his hand, and matched my palm against his. “This mean safe.”
Something popped in my chest like a jack-in-the-box.
My fingertips barely reached the start of his fingers. The difference as startling as a babies hand in a bears paw. How much smaller, more delicate than him I was.
The image made my whole body feel light.
He might not understand some things, but he’d just explained something else in a way that sent butterflies off in my belly.
“This mean different responsibility.” He placed his other hand on top of mine. “Tend. Protect. Cherish.”
Shivers rolled over me. Wow. Those words repeated again in my head. Tend. Protect. Cherish. Like vows. Yet, as much as he liked to call me wife, we’d made no promises.
Hell, I hadn’t agreed to anything, let alone marriage.
And yet this was as close as I’d ever come to believing that someone meant their promises.
I placed my other hand on top of his, and touched his over-sized knuckles.
He was bigger than big, and stronger than strong by human definition.
And yet so gentle with me.
“How make wife very angry?” He stared at me, close and intense and way up in my personal space.
“How?” Heat flushed in my cheeks. “You said something very offensive.”
I slid my hands free, not quite able to keep looking him in the face. “It’s rude to ask a human woman you are attempting to…” I coughed, searching for the word to describe our unusual relationship. “…court, if she wants anal—” I cleared my throat again. “—back passage sex.”
“Oh.” He remained studying me, gaze dropping down to my lap where I just knew he was thinking about whether or not my asshole were fuckable. “Human not make mate in back passage?”
“No.” Holy crap. Explaining anal to a horny alien. Thing that can never happen item number eight-hundred-and-sixty-nine. “I mean, it’s not for procreation but some people do it for fun.”
“If fun, why offense?”
Oh, boy. I rubbed my cheeks. “It’s just rude, Thor. Very rude.”
His frown wrinkled. “If not asking, how husband know human wife want make mating fun?”
“Because…” I exhaled. “Human marriage generally follows a period of courtship.” I squeezed the blanket around me at the reminder of what was actually going on here. In this situation which was very much not dating, honeymooning, or any other form of human romance. “Human men don’t just snatch woman and keep them captive in their cave, they court them. They earn their affection, they get to know their desires and preferences, and they attain their confidences so that those kinds of conversations can be comfortable and appropriate.”
He tilted back, but all his attention remained glued on me.
“You have not done any of those things.” I pointed my index finger at him. “You have not earned what is meant to be earned. You are trying to steal what is meant to be given.”
His eyes widened. Didn’t he like that? Good. I liked it even less.
“So when you ask me if I think you are without honor, yes, Thor, I think you are completely without honor.”
He flinched—actually flinched. The giant indestructible warrior that he was.
My chest heaved. “Where I am from, taking what is only mine to give, is the greatest dishonor.” I poked my finger right into his chest. “The biggest shame.”
I almost felt guilty for the look on his face, but then I was the one having to explain consent to my would be forced-husband.
“Punishable by law and a very serious crime.”
He remained frozen, staring at me for so long, I wasn’t sure if my little explanation was giving his primal mind an aneurysm.
Then he leaned in again. “Is crime, shame, and dishonor, because not complete human courtship ritual?”
I let out a long breath that made my body want to collapse in on itself. Something about the way he phrased that made it clear that he didn’t get it, get it. Not the important bits. Like the consent is critical part.
I rubbed my forehead, then froze. Maybe he didn’t need to actually understand.
Maybe he only kind-of needed to understand.
“Yes…” I breathed in again. “It is essential to humans that the very important courtship ritual take place before mating.”
He straightened, and looked at me a long while. “Must knowing this wife—is not Baratican practice to observe wife mating custom.”
Clearly… If the instantaneous mating attempts were anything to go by, the Baratican practice was to not wait long enough to find out.
“However, sometime when can not barter for wife, or war not desirable in taking wife, Baratican will preform custom requirements.” He slid off the bed. “Has been done before.”
“And you would do that?” I sat straighter. “You would observe the human courtship ritual?”
“Will consider.” He collected his loin cloth.
A thousand tiny muscles un-cleanched in my chest.
“Already taking the Kakaki juice to subdue mating rage-lust, for protect wife in sickness not fit for mating.”
No wonder he’d seemed so aggressive—rage-lust. Geez.
I tucked the blanket tighter under my arms. But, this was him with a libido suppressant? What the sweet-baby-Jesus was he going to be like when he stopped taking it?
My tongue scraped the roof of my mouth.
He stood, shoulders back, pecs out, abs firm as a freaking heavy-duty-washboard. Had he always been this Adonis with a side of Jason Momoa?
I shook my head to clear it.
“Explaining ritual.” He drew his hands behind his back, his stance so warrior it was all I could do not to snort. Where was his cape now? A cape would be perfect. But A red cape. And his helmet. His GIANT hammer.
“Umm.” I blew out. The ritual. God damn. If I’d paid more attention to medieval folklore I might’ve been able to ace this bluff. “The courtship ritual is about demonstrating affection.”
His loincloth twitched. His smirk twisted.
After spending years imagining fictional adventures, Amber finally found a way to turn daydreaming into a productive habit. She now spends her time in a coffee-fuelled adrenaline haze, writing romance with a thriller edge.
She lives with her husband and children in semi-rural Australia, where if she peers outside at the right moment she might just see a kangaroo bounce by.
Amber is an award winning writer, Amazon Bestselling Author, and member of Romance Writers of Australia, Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, and Writers Victoria.