Home > Choosing Theo (Clecanian #1)(7)

Choosing Theo (Clecanian #1)(7)
Author: Victoria Aveline

 “Wow.” She peered around nervously. “You guys really are advanced here.” She recalled a question she’d thought of earlier about the translator. “I couldn’t understand them. The lizard people,” she clarified.

 “The ones who took you?” Treanne, the blonde woman asked, concern showing on her face. “I don’t know who took you, but I do know your translator was only uploaded with the languages spoken on this planet. They probably didn’t upload their own in order to keep you from hearing any sensitive information.”

 The dark-eyed man who still had a scowl on his face interrupted. “Intergalactic law says that she’s to remain on Clecania for a period of one year. Our law says that an off-worlder needs to be put under protection and monitored by a resident for that year. If my understanding of the law is correct,” he said snidely, as if he already knew it was, “we know what to do with her. All we need to decide today is which resident she’ll be placed with.”

 Nope, she did not like that guy. Not at all. He was suggesting they throw her together with some stranger? “Why one year?” she interjected.

 “A year will provide whichever species encounters a Class 4 species enough time to teach them about the known universe,” the pretty woman with pale-green hair answered in a melodic voice.

 “Not everything, obviously.” The woman seated next to her chuckled. “Just enough so you can function outside of the only planet you’ve known. We’re required to help you learn how to build a new life outside of Earth.”

 “Before the law was enacted, displaced Class 4 individuals were left on their own with no idea how to survive,” Meya added sadly. “We saw many individuals taken advantage of because of this. It was barbaric.”

 Before Jade could once again voice her objection to not simply being returned to Earth, the green-haired woman spoke.

 “Who do you suggest watch over her, Xoris?” she asked the angry man who’d suggested she be looked after like some criminal.

 He frowned at her coldly. “One of us could take her, I suppose.”

 Putting his hand on his heart, the young man leaned toward Jade and said in a rumbling voice, “I would be honored to protect you.” He shot her a wolfish grin that almost made her forget the misery of her situation in order to giggle and blush.

 “You’re never home, Kadion,” Xoris growled. “How would you expect to protect her when you’re fighting off Tagion intruders in the north? I’ll take her.”

 “No!” Jade blurted out, drawing everyone’s attention. “I mean…” She searched for a compelling argument but found none. “I don’t want to go with some stranger and be ‘monitored’ like some criminal. I was brought here against my will by someone from here!”

 “Yes, and you escaped them,” Xoris said coolly. “That means they’ll want you back. You’re here now, which means we’re responsible for you.” Raising his eyebrows, he asked, “Would you rather be left on your own on this alien planet, of which you know nothing? The person who took you could walk up to you on the street, knock you out and drag you away, and you wouldn’t even know to scream until it was too late.”

 Losing her temper, she yelled, “I would rather you send me back home!”

 “Enough!” the woman at the end of the table said firmly. Everyone quieted. “Young lady,” she began, addressing Jade. “We unfortunately cannot return you to your home planet. It’s against not only our laws, but also the intergalactic laws that keep our worlds at peace. It was decided long ago that Class 4 planets should be allowed to evolve and explore the universe in their own time. We don’t reveal ourselves to them, and if for some reason an individual such as yourself is taken, you may not return. It would be illegal for us to set foot on your planet or even fly near your atmosphere.”

 “But—” Jade fell silent at the woman’s harsh expression. Better not piss off the queen bee.

 The woman continued, “You will stay here for one year, and you will live with another, but you’ll also have some say as to who that person is.” She shot a stern look at both Xoris and Kadion. “I’ll only require you to live alone with a Clecanian for three months. After that, you may choose where on Clecania you’d like to live. After the year is up, you may leave Clecania if you wish, but we won’t break the law by returning you to Earth.”

 Jade mouth fell open at the unfairness of all this.

 “Luckily for you, we have a coupling ceremony tomorrow. I believe Zikas is without a female to aid this cycle.” She lifted her eyebrows at the small man next to Jade.

 Zikas smiled widely. “You are correct, Madam.”

 “Then it’s settled.” She rose from her seat. “Zikas, you will stay with Jade and prepare her for tomorrow. The rest of you will come with me so we can devise a plan to catch the criminals who brought her here.”

 Before Jade could formulate an argument, they were gone. Turning to the man named Zikas, she said, “What just happened?”

 He smiled and said, “You will become a bride!”



Chapter 7

 “A what?” she screeched, making Zikas wince.

 “The Queen has made a very good compromise on your part. You’ll be allowed to choose your husband and you’ll become a bride.”

 “In what world is that a compromise?” Oh yeah, she thought. This world. “I don’t want to be a bride!” Jade began pacing. This couldn’t be happening. She was not going to become some alien’s housewife.

 “Our Queen is very wise,” Zikas said beseechingly while trailing her around the room. “She wouldn’t have decreed this unless she thought through all of the possibilities.”

 She had to get out of here. Had to get away.

 Her gaze fell on the door she’d come through. She remembered there was a long hall on the other side of that door. It had to lead to a set of elevators or stairs or something. She’d just have to run again.

 Jade turned and paced away, attempting to lead Zikas away from the door with her. He was shorter than her but much burlier. She still believed that even as an older man, he could physically stop her if he wanted to. She felt her whole body vibrate with apprehension.

 When she reached the far wall, she pivoted and sprinted. She was through the door before Zikas had comprehended that she was running.

 As she flew down the hallway, she heard him yell after her. She punched the air in success when she reached the end and found a stairway. Looking down over the railing of the large stairway, she guessed they must be thirty stories up at least.

 The stairway she ran down wasn’t like any she’d seen in a large building. It was a spiral staircase. One incredibly long, wide spiral staircase.

 After a while, Jade lost count of how many floors she’d passed. Circling lower and lower, she started to become dizzy. Jade paused for a moment, righting herself. She looked over the rail once more.

 Only a few floors to go. She started running again. Ahead of her, a door swung open and a burly uniformed man stepped out.

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