When Mindy is awoken by aliens and brought to their world, it sure seems like a dream. But when she meets handsome, glistening Jukar, everything starts to feel real. Are they destined for each other? And if they are, can she handle it?
Mindy tried to make her voice sound like someone you shouldn’t mess with. But she’d just woken up and her heart was racing. Her bedroom was full of bright light, and she could hear the rumbles of something mechanical.
The light dimmed a little. It was still brighter than 3:00 a.m. should be, but not blinding anymore. Opening both eyes and scanning the room, she saw her iPad and some hair clips had fallen from her desk. But no one had entered her room.
Something hovered right outside her two windows. Her room was lit up with a warm yellow glow.
“Mindy Hulton! Please step to the window.”
The voice rang out from a loudspeaker of sorts. No way her roommates hadn’t heard that. They would come running at any minute.
“We don’t want to scare you. Please open the window so we may speak with you, Mindy Hulton.”
The voice was staticky. The intonation made it seem as if English was not their first language.
Mindy waited another minute. The only sound in her room was a light humming. She guessed there was some sort of helicopter or plane hovering outside her windows. She couldn’t see it with all the light shining in.
“We will come to you, Mindy. Please do not be afraid. We come in peace.”
Mindy’s ears perked up. “We come in peace” was something that only aliens said in movies. She knew she must be dreaming. She stared harder at the yellow light, trying to make out whatever was outside her two windows.
She felt so baffled that she almost forgot to be scared. She waited for them to break a window.
Then, a strange whooshing sound came from inside her room.
A ball of light appeared. It was small at first. The sound intensified as the oval light grew so large it touched the ceiling and the floor. The huge oval of light turned yellow for a few seconds. Then, a bronze leg with a unique sandal foot covering popped out of it.
Mindy grabbed her nearest stuffed animal, Goopy Giraffe, for support. She screamed into Goopy’s belly and watched as an at least seven-foot-tall, bronze-colored being emerged from what she now could guess was a portal.
A portal to where?
This large man was unlike anyone she had ever seen. For sure, she had to be dreaming. His skin was such a beautiful bronze that it glimmered. His eyes were a deep purple color that pierced Mindy’s soul. He seemed as fascinated with her as she was with him.
He had two small, curved horns on either side of his head. They were white with slightly beige tips. His thick, black hair fell just below his broad, bare shoulders.
The tank top-looking armor he wore showed off his incredible muscles. His face was so handsome that she had no idea what he’d just said. She was aware he’d been talking as she studied the chiseled line of his jaw.
“Hello? Mindy? Can you hear my voice?”
“Oh! Yes! Um, what are you doing in my room? It’s the middle of the night.”
Mindy was surprised she felt so calm. This guy was huge, and anyone would find him intimidating.
“I have been sent here, among other places, to collect all the Yuai mates that I can find with our newly approved technology. I am instructed to bring you with me to the planet Nulamore, where you will be matched with your Yuai mate. It is such an honor for me, really.” He raised his thick black eyebrows at her expectantly.
Mindy’s only reaction was to laugh and rub her eyes. She willed this dream to run its course. In the morning, she’d go back to her boring life of Taco Bell manager by day and karaoke singer by night.
“I am glad you are happy at the prospect. Shall we head out?”
Mindy figured she had nothing to lose by seeing where this dream would go. She accepted the outstretched hand of the alien. His palm was warm, and his grip on her hand felt good.
“Yeah, sure, why the hell not?”
Mindy had always had lucid dreams from a young age. This one felt especially real, but at least it wasn’t one of her stress dreams like getting behind at work or showing up to school naked.
“Wonderful! You will feel a slight tingling sensation over your entire body as you step into the light. Please do not worry. It’s just the transporter doing its job. Very safe.”
Before Mindy could think of a good response to the non-safe way he sounded, she was pulled into the portal. The tingling sensation she had been warned about started immediately. It felt like when a foot wakes up from being dead asleep. She felt slightly uncomfortable but not terrible.
She gripped the alien hand that pulled her into the weird light. His sandpapery, strong grip reassured her that she would come out the other side.
Into the portal she went. And she wasn’t there long. It felt like they walked out immediately.
On the other side, Mindy was overwhelmed. Clearly, they were on a spaceship now, but everything looked so strange. Plus, now five beings were crowding around her and her alien dream guide.
“She has agreed to come back with us!”
A cheer broke out from all the aliens. They could have been cousins, the way they were all the same size and color. The only differences she could see were the varying shades of their purple eyes and the way their horns looked. Some were smaller, some bigger, and one didn’t have any horns at all. She wondered if they hadn’t grown yet or if they’d been knocked off somehow.
She might as well get comfortable. Mindy walked around touching the nubby surfaces of the spaceship, some of which must have been some sort of controls. The ship had a number of different colored lights on panels, which seemed like displays. She marveled at how elaborate her dreams were becoming. She would have to write a book about this one.
Mindy jumped when one of the aliens stuck out their tongue and licked their cheek. The tongue was the longest she’d ever seen. It was split all the way down the middle like a snake’s.
She made a note to put that in her book. Clearly, these weren’t humans.
Mindy found that her mouth was dangling open in shock. She tore her stare from the alien’s tongue that was still out and lazily wandering around their face. She worked out which alien had spoken and addressed him.
“Just Mindy is fine.”
“Mindy, we must all be put into the Kip machines before we can start our journey back home. Judging by the Earth technology I have seen so far, you have not reached this level of machinery yet. You may, therefore, find this slightly stressful.”
“I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
Mindy knew if this was real life, she would not be fine, but this was just too ridiculous to be anything but a dream. And she had a sense of adventure in her dreams.
“If you would follow me.”
The alien with lighter purple eyes and no horns held out his hand, and Mindy grabbed it. His hand felt much softer than the other’s as he pulled her toward a wall that opened sideways once they were within three feet of it.
The adjourning room was empty except for eight bathtub-looking contraptions arranged in two lines of four on the floor, each filled with a light-blue gel-like substance. Wires crawled down the lighted walls into the gel.
Mindy watched as a few of the aliens sunk into the goop, face and all. They hooked up their arms to cords in the gel.
“These Kip machines are helpful to avoid the radiation effects of traveling such long distances in such a short period.”
“Like warp speed?”
“I do not know this ‘warp speed,’ but it is a speed much faster than any possible by man.”
“Very Star Trek of you guys.”
“Hmmm…While I do not know of this Star Trek, if it is making this easier for you to understand, then yes.”
Mindy giggled, stepping over to the closest goo-filled tub and touching it with her right hand. It was a nice warm temperature, and Mindy wasn’t sure if she preferred it that way or cold. Neither sounded particularly appealing.
She climbed in with her clothes still on. She felt almost like she’d settled into a thick warm mud puddle as the gel squished between her toes.
Her head stayed above as the alien hooked her up to the thick, black wires with large suction cups. He put them on the back of her hands, all the way up her exposed arms.
“All set, Mindy. You should start feeling sleepy very…”
Mindy didn’t hear the rest of the alien’s words as her brain fogged over. Hazy pleasure shot through her body as her head fell back into the goo. The last thing she felt was the goo climbing into her ears as she fell fast asleep.
“Mindy? Can you hear me?”
Mindy felt groggy. Her eyelids were too heavy to open. Her ears registered someone calling her name, but not much else.
“Humans take much longer to wake from Kip Sleep. Give her a moment, Yuharr.”
“She looks like she might be dead.”
“That’s how all humans look when they sleep.”
“I dunno. Some toss and turn. My cousin said…”
Mindy groaned. The room went quiet.
Opening her eyes, she could only make out four large blobs. As she blinked away the goo, she recognized the same four shining bronze males that stood crowding her.
Looking down, she realized she was on some sort of medical bed. The room itself looked like a medical bay from Star Trek. She’d had such a cool dream about that last night.
“Wait…am I still dreaming?”
Mindy’s heart raced as she took in everything around her. The sexy aliens in front of her smelled like cedar and vanilla, but not quite like that. It was intoxicating.
Mindy couldn’t believe how long this dream was lasting. She was pretty impressed with her brain, especially as this dream was much more real than any she’d ever had.
“We are just approaching the Docks of Gulta.”
The voice over the loudspeaker was a crackly reminder of the voice she’d heard in her bedroom. She wondered for just a second if all this might possibly be real.
But she’d never be able to handle it if it was real. Plus, there was no such thing as aliens. Mindy felt confident it was a dream.
“I thought the planet was called Nulyma or something like that.”
“Nulamore. It is the planet’s name. There are many docking stations located throughout our small planet. The main one is the Docks of Gulta.”
“So, what’s so great about this dock in particular?”
Mindy felt silly asking random questions, but she wanted as much information as possible for when she woke up and started her book.
“Well, the Docks of Gulta are special because they are where the Yuai mate matcher is located. You will be matched most likely within the hour. I know we are all waiting in anticipation to see which Yuai mate is matched with the first human.”
She understood he was serious, although it sounded like a joke. “What does this Yuai mate machine look like?”
“You will see it soon, Mindy.”
“Okay, cool. So I just follow you, then?”
Mindy proceeded to follow the four large aliens as they walked through a corridor. Someone had put a ramp staircase up next to the ship, and she held onto the handrail with both hands as she descended.
With every step Mindy took, her brain woke up more and more. As she took in the bustling, futuristic city in front of her, she realized this was definitely not a dream.
From the docking station, she could see orderly lanes of flying cars and purple trees that vaguely resembled fir trees. Among the slightly more recognizable smells of baking bread and some sort of fuel burning, she noticed a coppery, watery smell. There must be an ocean nearby as well, or maybe a water treatment plant. Also, the sky here was green.
“Oh, fuck me.”
“Pardon?” The alien with no horns had a look of excited confusion on his face.
“This isn’t a dream, is it?”
“A dream? If you mean a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep, then no. If you mean a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal, then I would say yes, to some extent.”
“I meant the former.”
Mindy’s tone was light. Her mind was in a new type of daze as she struggled to adjust. Somewhere, she could hear voices speaking an unfamiliar language. The ship they’d just come off of beeped, and then the interior lights turned off.
Forcing herself to recall what little information she had so far, Mindy knew she was stuck here on Nulamore. They had come to the Docks of Gulta for the Yuai mate matcher. And she was definitely the person who’d said yes when these strangers had asked if she wanted to go to their planet.
Her heart raced at how stupid she felt. She was lucky she hadn’t been murdered, or eaten, or enslaved, or worse. Well, so far. And they had asked nicely. Plus, every other time something weird had happened in a dream, she really had been dreaming.
“This way, Mindy.”
Mindy contemplated what to do as she followed. She could just ask them to bring her home. They seemed like good people, but maybe that was just because she had gone along with things so well.
For now, she decided to go along with everything. She would just pay attention to everything she could for possible future escape attempts. She was surprised at how brave she felt.
A long walkway took them to a four-story building. There must be a carnival or something nearby, because she could hear upbeat music and smell spice and sweet pastries. People strolled past them in the other direction, eating brown pastries that smelled amazing. Or were they fried dough?
The building they took her to was shaped almost like a black, tiered cake. Each level up was smaller than the one below it.
The front double doors whooshed open. The temperature inside was cooler, and the air smelled a little like fresh laundry.
Mindy was led into what was likely the main lobby of the building, judging by the looks of what had to be the furniture. Mindy guessed they were couches, though the seat parts were five circles stuck together side by side. The seatbacks were tall and curved backward dramatically. The furniture looked soft and comfortable with its pearl-colored, velvety-looking fabric.
Mindy felt her body start to relax. Maybe the clean laundry smell here had something to do with how she was starting to feel. She made up her mind to go sit on the soft couches.
The wall on the left side of the room opened up, and another bronze god marched out. “Hello, Mindy Hulton! I see you have arrived safe and sound.” He wore a tight-fitting lab coat made of gleaming white material with beige pockets.
“Yes, thank you.”
Mindy wasn’t sure what else to say. This alien was having the same effect on her that all the others did. Her heart started to race, and her groin started to tingle.
“The machine is ready. We are so excited to see the outcome of the machine on a human.”
The way he looked at Mindy made her think that she now knew how a lab rat felt.
“Is it safe?”
“Oh, yes, perfectly. The first prototype was a disaster, but this one is so much more promising.”
His words did nothing to reassure Mindy. She frantically looked around the room for something big enough to hide behind. The idea of being someone’s guinea pig was too much.
“Please, do not be afraid. Nothing will happen. We would not have flown you so far and used so much time and energy to risk killing you.”
Mindy was once again surrounded by hot alien men. The fresh laundry smell of the room and the cedar-vanilla smell of the aliens intoxicated her. Her legs started to move without her brain telling them to, and she followed the one beckoning her.
She floated into a small, round room with high ceilings. In the middle of the room stood a shiny, egg-shaped machine, maybe fifteen feet tall.
The scientist alien pressed an invisible button, and the front of the machine opened. Inside, it had two large screens, one on the wall directly in the back and one that stood out from the wall about a foot lower and to the right.
“If you could just step right on in here, we can finally make history. It’s no secret that everyone on the planet is excited to see who the first Yuai mate with a human will be.”
Mindy’s heart raced as she looked around the smiling, handsome faces. She didn’t know if it was the lack of sleep or the strange but delightful smells here, or the fact that she was really curious, but she stepped inside.
The door closed behind her. The screen in front of her lit up, instructing her to put her right-hand palm down on the other, lower screen.
“Well, here goes nothing.”
Mindy felt tingles go through her hand. She was transfixed by the intricate patterns dancing across the screen in front of her. The light patterns were beautiful and satisfying.
At some point, they opened the door again. She had no idea how much time had passed.
The screen shut off, and she blinked hard. She felt as if she’d just had the best sleep of her life, and her hand still felt tingly as she stepped out of the machine.
“The result will be broadcast for all to see. It should take only minutes now as the machine matches her Yuai mate DNA-specific pheromones with our birth records. Her mate will be undisputable.”
The scientist alien talked to a small floating orb that was most likely recording and transmitting to a world of bronze, muscled people. She ran her fingers through her bedhead hair, glancing down in horror at her pineapple pajama bottoms and her double-layered, hot-pink tank top.
She felt more and more as if she were tumbling down a hill, almost like the way she’d felt as a kid when her sled picked up speed. She hadn’t intended to go into the machine. All of this was supposed to have been a dream.
She wouldn’t have said yes to the sexy aliens if she’d known they were real. Now that she was rolling down this hill, she felt like she was picking up speed with every turn, unable to stop or even slow down.
The machine spoke. “It has been decided. The Yuai mate in question is Kayon Pertron.”
The aliens in the room gasped.
“And there you have it. Have a wonderful day!”
The scientist was obviously shaken. He ended the stream abruptly and looked at Mindy in fascination. He seemed to actually see her now, more so than he had originally.
“Are you kidding me?” The alien with no horns was loud and annoyed.
“The one male on the entire planet who was adamant about not wanting to be mated. The only one who tried to convince the council of four that they should throw out this whole project. He gets the first human Yuai mate?”
Mindy wasn’t sure who this person was, but she knew there was no way she was going to stay long enough for him to change his views. She had no intention of being his Yuai mate, or whatever.
“I actually need to get going anyway. I have an early shift tomorrow morning, and all this…excitement…has gone to my head. I thought for sure this was all a dream when I first followed you out of my room, so you can bet how surprised I am to figure this all out now. Maybe you could just give me a lift back home?”
They all looked at her like she had just said the dumbest thing ever. Which, in hindsight, she kind of had.
“I mean, this Crayon guy doesn’t sound like he’s the kind of person who wants to settle down. I might as well just head on back to Earth.”
“You should be my mate instead.”
“You cannot take someone’s Yuai mate. You know the laws.”
“But what if the intended doesn’t even want them?”
Mindy threw up her hand to silence everyone. She hadn’t seen who said what, but she wasn’t about to jump into someone else’s arms just because Mr. Crayon said he didn’t want her. She was feeling more desperate by the minute to get home.
“I just want to go home. I’m sorry. I had not thought this was real or that I would be mated with anyone. Now that I see this is all real, I feel terrible that I let everything get this far. I need someone to take me back.”
The scientist put his hands in the pockets of his lab coat. “While it is ultimately your choice to return, it will take us two days to cool and recharge the ship for travel, not to mention refilling the supplies. You must at least meet your intended before anyone says or does anything rash. We owe it to the love and hope of Yuai mates everywhere.”
“You just want to know if your machine worked.” The hornless alien poked out his lower lip.
“Well, yes, that too.”
“I know Kayon had to have heard the announcement. I would give anything to have seen his face when he heard it.”
“He probably peed himself.”
“He probably growled his angry growl and ran to tell Gunty all about it.”
“He probably ran away to his vacation home on Hertxes.”
Someone knocked on one of the walls. The aliens looked at each other for a second.
The scientist finally spoke. “Come in.”
The wall opened.
Mindy had thought the men she’d met so far were handsome. This new guy storming into the room put them all to shame.
He was probably six foot nine, and his skin was the same signature bronze color. His eyes were the darkest shade of purple she had ever seen, and he wore his thick, black hair in a buzz cut. At his hairline, he had two large horns. The horns were easily a foot long, and they curved back near the skull and then curved slightly forward at the tips. His jaw was tight with anger.
Her chest flooded with heat and desire for him.
“You did all this on purpose, didn’t you? Just can’t handle when someone tries to differ in opinion. I swear, if…”
Kayon looked at Mindy and stopped speaking. The anger fell off his face, and he gaped at her in awe.
The energy of his stare shot electricity inside her belly. Her core felt wet with want.
Mindy had never felt an attraction like this, and it was almost too much to handle. She wanted more than anything to jump into the muscular arms of this big-chested man with glistening skin. She gripped the seams on the side of her pajama pants and bit her bottom lip to help keep control of herself.
“Kayon, meet Mindy Hulton. Mindy Hulton, Kayon Pertron, top guard of the council of four. This is your Yuai mate.”
As if in a trance, Kayon slid toward Mindy. His eyes drank her in from head to toe as he went. He reached out to her face as he got close. With his thumb, he nudged her lip out from between her teeth.
This thumb rubbed the slightly chewed-on lip while his fingers cupped her face.
Mindy felt her skin flush as her core throbbed with need. She looked from his eyes up to his horns, then to his mouth.
“What did I tell you? It’s a success!”
The scientist’s words broke whatever spell both Kayon and Mindy were under.
Kayon dropped his hands from her face and stepped back.
The feel of his touch lingered on Mindy’s skin.
“I was only studying this strange being’s face,” he said. “I’ve never seen a human up close before. Now that I have, I can tell you with confidence that I feel nothing.”
Mindy’s heart felt a sharp pang. She didn’t know whether he was lying to save face. She could have sworn he felt something for her. Granted, she wasn’t an expert yet on their body language, but he’d been staring at her like he was going to eat her. And he’d cupped her face as if she already belonged to him.
She watched with rising panic as Kayon walked out of the room. Her body felt called to follow him. She’d make him see that he was feeling the same, almost obsessive attraction for her as she was for him.
But she stayed put since she didn’t know where he was going. She wasn’t about to get lost in an alien city.
“Way to go, Percheen.”
“What did I do?”
Mindy felt confused. The heartbreak flowing through her body was hers, but how had it gotten there? How could she feel such things for someone she didn’t even know? Already, she hardly remembered his face.
Then, his face flashed through her mind. She realized she had memorized it.
She pressed her knees together tight and tried to forget his face. The feeling her body got from Kayon’s presence was taking far too long to cool.
Mindy knew she needed to get home. She vowed to ignore the new, addicting feelings her supposed “Yuai mate” gave her. He wasn’t interested, anyway.
“So, about that ride home?”