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Authors: Robin L. Rotham

Amorous Overnight

BOOK: Amorous Overnight
6.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


To all my fans who waited so patiently, all those who waited not so patiently, and all who just couldn’t wait… Yay, it’s finally here! Thank you for bugging me—the next one won’t take so long, I promise.

To all my crit partners and beta readers who had eyes on this book—RG, Anne, Kate, Dana, Dawn, Sasha, Kat, and Lina… Thank you for helping me iron out the kinks! (The bad ones, anyway.) Remind me when I see you that I owe you a drink. Or ten.

And to Sheryl… I can’t thank you enough for helping me figure out what drives my characters. You make me a better writer.

Chapter One

“If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it.

Go out and get busy.”~Dale Carnegie


That was the fucking
time she listened to Dale Carnegie.

Shelley blew out quick, hard breaths as another contraction built.
Ride the dragon, ride the dragon, ride the dragon,
she chanted in her head. In premature labor aboard an alien spaceship and scared out of her wits, she was more alone than she’d ever been in her life. All she wanted was to be back home, for none of this to ever have happened.

“Shelley, you’ve got to calm down and listen to me.” Monica Teague sat beside her on the bunk, dressed in a sleek, pearl-gray bodysuit, her blonde-striped brown hair back in a ponytail. Behind her loomed a seven-foot alien with an instrument tray, just waiting for the okay to cut Shelley open.

“No. I can do this. I can.” She let her head fall back against the raised head of the infirmary bunk, holding her rock-hard belly with both hands as she gasped for air. “Just give me a chance.”

“You need a C-section.”

“No! You can’t let him!”

“Sweetie, you know a vaginal birth isn’t possible when both babies are lying transverse.”

“They’ll turn.”

“When, on the first day of kindergarten? You’ve been trying to go into labor for days and they haven’t budged.”

“Just wait a little longer. They’ll turn, I know…
they will, oh God
,” she finished with clenched teeth, squeezing her eyes shut as pain tore up every nerve ending between her navel and her knees.

Ride the dragon, Shelley, ride the goddamn dragon…

“You know that’s not going to happen.”

“Then stop my labor!” she screamed as the pain reached its agonizing peak. Jesus Christ, was this what all her patients went through when they labored? No wonder they were so freaking terrified. It felt like someone had clamped her upper thighs in vises and was trying to rip her in two like a wishbone.

Screw the dragon—she needed drugs, and lots of them, stat!

“We’ve tried, you know we have.”

“Then send me home! I want to go home,” she sobbed. “Please. I want my mother. I want an epidural.”

“Then God dammit, Shelley, let Tysan help you!”

Startled by her roar, Shelley hiccupped and stared at her as the contraction eased. “You’d make a really shitty L&D nurse.”

“Well duh! Why do you think I became a doctor?” Smiling wryly, Monica brushed Shelley’s bangs off her sticky forehead. “You realize you’re going to be completely embarrassed about this later, right?”

“I know. I’m sorry. I just thought Mark would—” She took a shuddering breath as her throat tightened again.

“Forget about that bastard,” Monica said fiercely. “He never deserved you, or those babies.”

“I know.” That didn’t make the knowledge that he’d killed himself in the process of trying to blow up the ship any easier to bear. It didn’t make her any less alone.

“Shelley, let Tysan do this. He’s performed dozens of C-sections on Terran women.”

Shelley eyed him darkly. “Gee, that just makes me feel so much better, knowing how many gigantic hybrid babies he’s cut out of the women they abducted.”

Dr. Tysan looked offended, a very human reaction that actually did make her feel a little better.

“How many times do I have to tell you those women came with them voluntarily?” Monica scolded.

“Yeah, that’s their story anyway.”

“Hey, they wouldn’t have had to ask me twice.”

Yet another contraction wound up, deep in her belly, and Shelley whimpered. “Oh God, please.”

“Come on, Shel—by tonight, you’ll barely remember where the incision was.”

That got her attention.

“Really?” she asked between panting breaths. Her contractions were coming one on top of another now and she didn’t know how many more she could take.

“They have a surgical instrument that accelerates the healing of tissue. Remember when I stabbed Shauss in the gut?” At Shelley’s quick nod, Monica continued, “A couple of hours later, I could barely see where the blade went in.”

Shelley ground her head back into the pillow, fighting a scream. God, this tearing pain was unbearable. “You’ll stay with me?”

“Every step of the way. And Tiber will assist,” Monica added in a persuasive tone. “You like Tiber, right?”

Shelley nodded again. The ship’s psychiatrist, she could definitely handle—he was probably the least threatening Garathani she’d ever met, besides Ensign Hastion.

“You’ll be in good hands, I promise. We won’t let anything happen to you or the babies.”

The contraction finally let up and Shelley took a deep breath. “Okay, let’s do it.”

“Atta girl!” Monica waved over the two nurses hovering near the cabinets. “Now let’s get you prepped.”

“Just a moment, please.” Tysan stepped up beside Monica, holding a thick bent tube. It was similar to the one Dr. Tiber had infused her with last week to help develop the babies’ lungs—only larger and scarier. “Shelley, I want you to spread your knees a bit and lean forward into Dr. Teague, then hold still.”

Shaking like a leaf in spite of the ship’s sultry atmosphere, Shelley obeyed, pressing her forehead against Monica’s breast. Which was kind of weird. Just a few weeks ago, before her alien transition, Monica hadn’t even had breasts to speak of, and now they were literally “in your face” with their big, round firmness.

Monica kissed the top of her head. “Everything will be okay, Shelley.”

When she felt something smooth and cool press against the top of her spine, she braced herself for a puncture that never came. The hard tension low in her abdomen seemed to just melt away on its own.

“All right,” Tysan said, pulling away. “You should feel no more contractions.”

She straightened and looked up at him. “Really? That’s it?”

“For the moment. We’ll administer a neuromuscular block to immobilize you for the procedure after you’ve been prepared for surgery.”

Annoyed by his satisfied smile, she demanded, “Why didn’t you give me that earlier?”

His brow went up. “Because if I had, you wouldn’t have agreed to the surgery in a timely manner. Why is there a dragon on your right buttock?”

Shelley wasn’t about to let him distract her but Monica gasped. “You have a tat on your ass? Why did not I know this?”

“It’s on my hip, not my ass.”

Monica went up on one knee and leaned around to peer at her back. “Aw, a little pink dragon. How cute! When did you get that?”

“When I was eighteen,” Shelley said. “It used to be red. I need to get it reinked.”

“Does it mean something?”

Feeling self-conscious, she leaned back against the bunk. “There’s a Chinese proverb that says ‘If you ignore the dragon, it will eat you. If you try to confront the dragon, it will overpower you. If you ride the dragon, you will take advantage of its might and power.’”

“So the dragon is…”

Shelley shrugged. “Whatever your personal dragons are. Anger. Depression. Self-doubt.” Fear.

“Wow, that’s…unexpectedly deep,” Monica said.

“Excuse me, Dr. Teague,” Tysan interrupted, “but we must prepare Shelley for the surgery.”

Monica hopped up. “Awesome. I’ve been dying to see how you remove hair.”

“No depilating is required,” he informed her, clearly fighting a smile. “I’ll merely erect a microbial stasis field over the incision site.”

She scowled at him. “I’m getting rid of this bush, Tysan. One way or another.”

Shelley barely held back a snicker. Monica certainly wasn’t shy about venting either her displeasure with her new pubic hair or her annoyance that she wasn’t allowed to remove it.

“You’ll have to take that up with the commander.” Turning to Shelley, he asked, “Are you ready?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Excellent.” He nodded at the nurses. “You may commence preparation for surgery.”



Shelley Bonham was in labor.

On my ship!

Cecine stalked through the reception area outside his office and tossed his ceremonial robe over his aide’s vacant chair as he passed. Peserin’s hell, if the tiny Terran gave birth before they could return her to Earth, he, as the ranking unmated male aboard, would be awarded paternity of her offspring—

And the dubious privilege of mating with her, should he choose to accept it.

Surely the Powers couldn’t be that cruel. To either of them.

The door opened ahead of him and Cecine went directly to his desk. Dropping into his chair, he grasped the padded arms and spun to face the flare window behind him as he opened a cerecom link.
“Cecine to Dr. Tysan.”

“Tysan here, sir.”

“What is the status of Nurse Bonham’s labor? Is she in any condition to be flared to the surface?”

“I would advise strongly against it, Minister. She’s terrified of flaring and has already suffered too many shocks since yesterday. I’m anticipating a surgical delivery as it is. And frankly, sir, with the babes being so premature, I would feel more confident of their wellbeing in our care.”

Cecine grimaced. Apparently the Powers
be that cruel.

“How long before she delivers?”
he asked.

“An hour or less.”


“Will you be declaring claims, sir?”

He hesitated.
“Stand by, Tysan.”

“Aye, sir.”

Knowing what he had to say but loath to say it, he stared out at the planet’s surface. From their position above the Central US, most of the planet in his line of sight shone brightly at this time of day, with only a narrow crescent of shadow encroaching from the east. Like all planets, Earth looked deceptively placid from a geosynchronous orbit—as if it weren’t swarmed with arrogant, nearsighted Terrans jockeying to see who could wreck it first with their poisonous emissions and weapons of mass destruction.

With a single command from Cecine, Garathan’s mighty fleet could have them all at his mercy. And yet here he was, at the mercy of one tiny Terran female.

He gave a gusty sigh. Today the cloud cover was extensive. If he blurred his focus enough, he could almost imagine it was Garathan below them. Would that it were Garathan—then the outcome of Shelley Bonham’s labor would be easier to accept. He would have no alternative but to take her to mate. But awareness that her home planet was just seconds away by flare transport taunted him. He was entirely too tempted to exercise his right as minister of the Garathani high council and flare her to a Terran medical facility over Tysan’s objections.

Not that he was opposed to having a mate or infants in his home. Quite the contrary, in fact—if she were nearly any other female aboard, he’d be keen for her to deliver before she could escape. Babes meant renewal, a much-needed return of life, and Terran women were irresistibly different from Garathani females.

Or at least different from the females of the past, who’d wielded their authority over males, unhampered by such inconvenient qualities as integrity and mercy. He had no firsthand experience of how much they’d changed in the last ten years and didn’t intend to acquire any. Their rehabilitation was better left to younger males, those who hadn’t accumulated a half-century’s worth of seething fury before females were toppled from power.

Terran women, on the other hand, were soft and generous, spirited and yet so very vulnerable… He’d take a dozen of them if he were allowed, even if he had to pay for his pleasure, as he did now. His first experience of one, more than thirty years in the past, had been eye-opening—that chance encounter with Monica’s mother had revealed to him with breathtaking simplicity what relations between a male and female could be. What they should be.

BOOK: Amorous Overnight
6.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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