Octavia swore to herself that if she sneezed one more time that her brains would shoot right out of her ears thus ending her misery and summer cold.
People moved away from her as she hurried her tired and aching body down the street to the drug store. It was August in Baltimore City which meant it was hot and humid. The thermometer flashed 94 degrees Fahrenheit at her but even standing in a patch of sunshine she was chilled.
“Damn it!” She swore under her breath as she stood on the corner waiting for the light to change. This was looking less and less like a cold and more like the flu.
Only I would catch the flu two weeks before my first cruise!
The light changed and she merged with the crowd to cross the street. Her boss had taken one look at her as she came through the door and shooed her right back out the door admonishing her for showing up to work sick. She hadn’t realized she looked that bad and she understood.
She was a patient service coordinator in the outpatient cancer clinic. The last thing the patients needed was to be sneezed on by her but she had wanted to come to work today if for no other reason than to get a look at the new equipment that had just been gifted to the hospital by the aliens from a world called Elyria. Everyone called them the Elyrians.
A race of people who looked as human as anyone on Earth except for the yellow of their skin. And they didn’t just come in one shade of yellow. They were sunburst, golden, pastel, and mustard of the spicy and deli variety.
The Elyrians had come offering much and asking for a lot in return. They promised to give whether the people of Earth returned the favor or not. They were asking for wives.
As if on cue she looked up and an Elyrian man caught her eye. She waved him away as he approached but he kept coming anyway.
Fine. See how you like catching the flu! She thought more than a bit truculently.
He was as tall as any she had seen before. Surely over six feet tall. Truly she had yet to see an Elyrian man who was less than six feet tall. He was a golden yellow. The color of the sun as it sets before the oranges take over. She supposed he was handsome on his world because something about his face was attractive to her eyes. It was his skin color that was daunting to her. She tried to imagine him in chocolate and gave up. He looked chiseled from marble. He was shirtless and wore a sleeveless vest that hung open exposing his sculpted physique.
She did as any woman with eyes and a desire for men admire them. There didn’t seem to be an ounce of fat on any of them. Some were very muscular and still others just had nice muscle definition. The one approaching her now was somewhere in between.
She sighed without realizing it. Why couldn’t you have been brown skinned? She thought for the thousandth time.
His long legs were bringing him quickly to her but not quick enough. She ducked into the drug store and down an aisle quickly. She hid behind a rotating stack of reading glasses hoping he’d miss seeing her, give up and be on his way.
She waited growing colder as the air conditioning vent she stood under blew an arctic blast down on her. If I don’t get out of here soon I’ll have pneumonia and then I can kiss my cruise goodbye!
That got her feet moving cautiously as she peered around the display. There were two old women discussing the merits of different laxatives in the aisle directly ahead of her. She looked around warily and saw no sign of him.
She was still tense as she looked at the aisle headers to find the cold medicine. She found what she was looking for and made her purchases not a moment too soon for her. By the time she got out of the store her teeth were starting to chatter.
When she rounded the corner there he was leaning against the store wall smiling at her cockily. It was a dazzling smile and he was an awesome sight. She dropped her bags in spite of herself. Medicine and juice bottles went rolling. Before she could even begin to bend down he was racing after the bottles before they ended up in the street.
She stooped down to pick up her cold medicines and put them back in the bag at the protest of her muscles. As she stood he was hurrying back to her with two 64oz juice bottles before him and several overpriced cans of soup.
“You look like you could use some help. May I offer you a ride?”
She remembered how her boss pushed her back out the door and thought how awful she must look. Yet here he was offering her a ride home. He must really be desperate for a wife if he’s looking at me.
“No. Thank you, though. I think I can manage from here.” In actuality she was dreading the subway ride and then bus ride home. It was after rush hour so service would be slower. The little green hornet, her used car, was in the shop. Again.
“You look unwell. I only wish to see you home as soon as possible before you get sicker. I assure you that you can trust me. Please let me see you home.”
She looked around wavering. Since the aliens had arrived on Earth they had been nothing but helpful to any damsel in distress. They were polite, chivalrous, and gentlemanly. They were everything a woman could hope for in a man. But they were still yellow. Though some women didn’t mind it, Octavia did. Or at least her family did.
But she did feel awful and she knew it was only going to get worse the longer she was out of bed.
“I am sick. I think I’m coming down with the flu. I wouldn’t want you to catch it.”
He smiled taking her bags and signaling to someone up the street. “Let me worry about my health and yours.”
She wanted to argue. If he was a strange man from Earth she wouldn’t have trusted him at all but the Elyrians had been everywhere helping women. They had only been on Earth eight months but it was old news now. If a woman needed help they were just there. A tire fixed, a roof fixed, packages carried or a ride. They would always try to strike up a friendship. If the woman declined they simply gave a small bow with their heads and moved on.
They showed time and again, they were not to be feared.
A black Navigator pulled up to the curb before them. He opened the door for her. She hesitated a moment more as he smiled encouragingly at her. She noticed a few people had stopped to stare at them. Though it was old news how helpful the Elyrians were they were still news.
Not wanting to be a spectacle she got in accepting his assistance to do so. The Navigator suited him but at 5’6 and sick, she needed a little help.
Once he saw that she was seated comfortably he had the driver pop the hatch so that he could put her packages back there.
Then he got into the front passenger seat and they pulled away from the curb.
“Where to my lady?”
She blinked at the title and thought about correcting him but didn’t. It didn’t matter. Many an Elyrian male had approached and she had sent them all packing. She’d dispatch this one just as easily once she got home.
Her rich amber eyes met his safire blue ones in the rearview mirror. “4025 Haverly Way. You’ll need to turn around.”
His eyes crinkled at the edges in a smile she was sure was beautiful. “No need for directions. We have our own guidance system.” When he said guidance system the console between the driver and passenger seat lit up. He repeated her address and a map appeared on the screen.
“You see, dear lady?”
“Now sit back and relax. You will be home in your own bed soon.”
“There is no need. I would do as much for an Elyrian woman. How could I do less for you?”
She just sat smiling blandly. She didn’t know how he or any of the men from Elyria could do so much for women who were total strangers and want nothing in return. She didn’t know what to make of them or the way they treated women.
They went far beyond fairy tales. Even Prince Charming wanted a kiss. But a heartfelt thank you was all the majority of them ever got and they accepted it with a smile.
“My name is Kade Egon. You may call me Kade. This is my friend, Ranald.” The driver’s head bobbed.
“Hello, Ranald. Kade. I truly must be sick not to have bothered to get your names.”
“Or give your own.”
“Oh! I’m sorry. My name is Octavia. Octavia Bryant.”
“Very good to meet you, Octavia Bryant.”
She hated to do it but he was doing her a favor. He had already given her permission to use his first name. It would be rude not to return the favor. “Please call me Octavia.”
“Octavia.” He said it like he was tasting it. His eyes smiled at her in the rearview mirror again so she supposed he liked the way it tasted.
Don’t get too comfy with my name, Kade. You are only using it until I get home. Then we’ll part never to meet again.
She sat back hugging herself against the chills as the city streets sped by.
“You are cold?” Kade’s hand reached out to the console she supposed to turn off the cool air.
“I’ve got chills so don’t pay me any mind. I’ll be home soon enough. Please don’t inconvenience yourself any more than you already are.”
He turned off the air anyway. “It is no inconvenience.”
She smirked into the eyes still staring at her in the rearview. “Oh really? So you just drive around the city looking for women in need of help all day?”
“We are here searching for wives. Or haven’t you heard?”
“Oh, I’ve heard but I would have thought you would be looking for specimens that look a whole lot better than I do right now.”
“You are quite beautiful just as you are. Right now.”
She dropped her eyes and tucked her chin into her chest at the compliment.
“I have embarrassed you with the truth?”
She caught herself reaching for her hair and stopped. She knew she looked a sight.
He is crazy and starved for a woman’s affection. Period. Every and any woman probably looks good to him and his friends.
Those were her thoughts but they did nothing to still the butterflies in her stomach at the compliment. Men just didn’t say stuff like that much. At least not to her.
Not that she thought herself ugly. She was 5’6”, with shoulder length dark brown hair. Permed straight, yes, but home grown. No weaves for her or her sisters. She had her mother’s lush figure that she worked hard to keep it from turning to fat. She had both the color and complexion of smooth peanut butter.
She had been told many times in many ways that she had a great body and was attractive. She just wasn’t what the media would consider beautiful. So she knew when a man started to shower her with compliments he just wanted something.
This one did too but what he wanted was what she wanted. To settle down, get married and raise a family. She just preferred to do it with a brown skinned man on the planet Earth.
Her hope was that if enough women left with the Elyrians maybe she would have better odds of finding the dark or milk chocolate prince of her dreams. That was her hope most days anyway. But whenever one of the Elyrians turned on what every woman had come to realize was their natural charm she forgot that hope and wished she could go. She wished she could find out if they were just as charming on Elyria as they were on Earth.
She couldn’t go but there was no harm in wishing. Wishing for something had never caused her any harm. In the end she’d no more leave her family and friends behind to move to another planet and marry a man who was a total stranger than she would jump out of an airplane without a parachute. Or at all really. She wasn’t a thrill seeker or a risk taker.
“It is not something I hear every day.”
They rode in silence for a time. She relaxed against the soft seat cushions relieved. She thought he was going to turn up the charm but he didn’t. A part of her was disappointed. She liked the way the Elyrians talked to her. She was hoping some of it would rub off on some of the black men of Baltimore before they went back to the stars. Not the charm. Baltimore’s black men had plenty of charm. It was the good intentions behind the charm that a lot of them usually lacked.
Kade startled her from her thoughts with his deep voice. “So what do you do?” Besides take my breath away.
“Um, I’m a patient care coordinator.”
He arched a brow at her in the rearview and she chuckled as she answered his questioning brow. “I register patients for their hospital visits, set up appointments for all kinds of tests; get test results for the doctors, help patients navigate the hospital. Stuff like that.”
“So you are a natural born caretaker and nurturer.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far. I’m part of a baby boom. I came out of college at the same time as a lot of other people. My major was business law with a minor in communications. I took the first job I could get.”
“Still, you are good at your job?”
She had to admit she liked the job and the people even though a career in hospital administration hadn’t been what she had planned she could definitely see herself doing it now.
“So says my boss.”
“Do you like what you do?”
Her smile said it all for him but he still liked hearing the soft way she said, “Yes.”
Something warm stole into his heart. He wanted very much to hear the exact same “Yes” from her when he asked her to be his wife.
The question on many Elyrian men’s minds was how to get one of the darker beauties of her land to even consider life away from Earth. They were just as hungry for love and family as the Elyrian men. They had wined, dined, and showered them with gifts and compliments to those who would allow an Elyrian male to court them. There had been many marriages but few from the country called the United States of America. There were a pitiful few even open to talking to an Elyrian man seriously. Even fewer still who had agreed to marry an Elyrian man.
How do I get into your heart, Octavia?
Ranald’s rich baritone interrupted. “Which building my lady.”
“Whoa. What?” It was the first time Ranald had spoken. His voice was so deep it startled her.
The vehicle paused in front of a group of apartment buildings. She looked out the front window realizing she was home. “Oh. The one up ahead on the right. See the one with the green awning?”
Ranald’s head bobbed as the car moved forward toward the building she had indicated. Ranald parked the huge SUV in front of her building. There were plenty of parking spaces available on a weekday morning.
Kade hopped out of the car. “Open the hatch, Ranald.”
“I will get the bags. You help the young lady.”
She was too brown to blush but she felt her face warm nonetheless. Young lady. He called me a young lady. Not a chick, hoochie, bitch, hoe, female or any other derogatory term that she loathed and despised.
Kade opened her door and steadied her to the ground. He was so warm against the chill in her body that she leaned into him without meaning to. Kade didn’t mind at all and smiled down at the top of her head.
At the door she punched in her security code and Kade ushered her inside. In the little vestibule she turned and reached for her bags.
Both men shook their heads. “Oh you have been so kind but I live on the third floor. I can manage from here on my own.”
She thought Kade was bowing as he bent over but instead he whisked her off her feet and proceeded to carry her up to her apartment despite her protests to the contrary.
“Dear lady, you are wasting your energy arguing. I have you and I will not drop you. I also will not put you down until we stand at your door.”
Octavia hushed and prayed that any of her neighbors who happened to be home didn’t come out of their apartments and see her now. They were large apportioned brownstones so there were two flights of stairs for each floor. Kade carried her quickly up the stairs like he carried nothing in his arms. When he put her down in front of the door she indicated with a nod of her head as her own he wasn’t even winded.
She however was winded. So that’s what it is like to be swept off your feet.
She didn’t even think to try to take the bags again. She just opened the door and stood back as Ranald carried them in.
“Just put them on the sofa. Really, thank you both for your kindness.”
“It was no trouble, dear lady. When will there be someone to tend to you?”
“Um, there won’t be.”
The smile on his face could be called nothing other than jubilant.
“Then I happily offer to do so.”
“Um yeah. I mean no! I’m fine now that I’m home. Really.”
Neither man looked convinced nor like they were leaving.
“Really, fellas, I’m just fine on my own.” She started ushering them toward the door. Ranald went. Kade did not budge.
She sighed exasperated. “Now look! You can’t just hang out here until I get well. Can you?”
He leaned back against the wall and folded his arms. It was a stance that suited him well. “It seems that is what I shall have to do.”
Exasperation gave way to peeve. “Ok. That is going above and beyond what you would do for an Elyrian woman!”
“Not for my wife.”
“Well, I’m not your wife so you can leave.”
He stood his ground.
“Do I have to call the police?”
He cocked his head curiously. “And tell them what?”
Damn! Did he just get better looking? She tried to sound angry but she didn’t convince herself. “That you are trespassing!”
“I am not trespassing. I am trying to help you.”
“I didn’t ask for all this and I don’t want any more of your help. So go away!”
Instead he reached out and felt her forehead. She dodged his hand but not before he felt the heat radiating from it. He thought she was warm in his arms and thought it was the sun but here in her cooled apartment she was still warm.
“Ranald, you may go on. I’ll contact Command when I am done here.”
“Um, excuse me! You are done here now!” She spun on her heels headed for the telephone to dial 911. That was her intention but the room continued to spin once she stopped. Her stomach protested violently and she ran past the phone to the bathroom with her hands covering her mouth.
She was just in time and not a moment too soon before her breakfast made a return appearance.
Kade nodded to Ranald as he shut and locked her front door.
If you liked chapter one and want to read more you can purchase the complete book on Amazon. Just click the link: Elyrian Brides: Octavia
If you liked chapter one and want to read more you can purchase the complete book on Amazon. Just click the link: Elyrian Brides: Octavia