My orders are simple.
Bring the human female to my King.
A routine job for me – Or so I thought.
I am Talon Delkhari.
I was the mightiest warlord of my people, until I dared to contradict my king. Instead of granting me an honorable death in the fight against our enemies, he made me his chamberlain, instead. It is my job to ensure the safety of his women.
His newest conquest is from Earth. He won her in a poker game, and I am supposed to deliver her to his bed safely. An easy assignment for someone like me. That’s what I thought, anyway. Until this human woman awakens the predator lurking under my skin, and it claimed her for itself.
She is different from all of the other women I know.
She can see the animal in me.
She looks at me without fear.
Her scent follows me into my dreams, and even though I know that she can never belong to me, I can’t take my eyes off her.
But my loyalty to my people and my sense of duty are stronger than the beast that yearns for her under my skin…
* * *The Human is Book 3 of the Betania Breed Series. * * *
Can be read as standalone. Warning: Intended for mature audiences
“The storyline is awesome and exciting. The characters are wonderful and unique.” -Amazon Reviewer
“I liked how much detail the author put into the book. The story is fast paced and filled with plenty of action and romance. I especially liked the characters.” -Amazon Reviewer
“Thoroughly enjoyed it.” -Amazon Reviewer
“Unexpected twists and turns had me reading this book in one sitting.” -Amazon Reviewer
“LOVE THIS SERIES….” -Amazon Reviewer
“Wow, this is the 3rd story in this series and I truly enjoyed it along with the other two! This story is about Cat who happens to be one of the babies born in a previous book. Cat has been separated by her twin and down on her luck hiding a very special gift she has and decides to volunteer herself to be a bride…” -Amazon Reviewer
“Sexy Sci-Fi Romance with a sprinkle of revenge” -Amazon Reviewer
“This novel has everything. An interesting plot filled with intrigue set in a future earth filled with colorful characters…” -Amazon Reviewer
“Couldn’t put it down!!!” -Amazon Reviewer
“This is an incredible Alien Romance.” -Amazon Reviewer
“You will love this super exciting, funny, suspenseful, thrilling, and scorching hot Alien Romance. It is a Five Star plus book.” -Amazon Reviewer
“Lots of sci-fi happenings, creepy alien enemies, space pirates, fights, and plot twists make this book a must read for fans of Alpha Alien adult romances!” -Amazon Reviewer
“I am a huge fan of Ms Foster and have been avidly following the Betania Breed series. The Human is spectacular.” -Amazon Reviewer
“An evil spoiled king, a beautiful human and a strong alpha male protector, add in lots of action, danger and passion and mix well and you’ve got this awesome story. I loved this book and can’t wait for the next book.” -Amazon Reviewer
“The adventure continues with some awesome twists I was not expecting. I think that is what I love so much about this series…expect the unexpected!!” -Amazon Reviewer
“OOOH!! really good story. I know that you will like it.” -Amazon Reviewer
“Third in Betania Breed series which keeps getting better…” -Amazon Reviewer
Talon Delkhari looked at the papers one last time and tried to discern what kind of woman he would be picking up from Earth in a few minutes. The Poker Games Limited, PGL for short, promised grandiose suspense until the last minute, and denied its participants any pictures of the female species that were being raffled off. The paying clientele – so, the masters of creation – received nothing other than a certificate of health, a declaration of age and an exact determination of race. And that, Talon thought, as he adjusted his uniform absentmindedly, was precisely the draw, the appeal of this bold undertaking. It was not for a battle-hardened warrior like him. If he ever found a companion, the things he wished for more than anything, were reliability and healthy offspring. He silently cursed his king who had entrusted him with picking up his new bride and delivering her safely to Kanthari 7. Not only was it below a man of his caliber to have to take care of a woman who had been the prize in a round of interstellar poker, but it also cost him valuable time that he would rather have spent doing something more worthwhile. Like, for instance, hunting the space-pirates who were getting more and more cocky, to the point that they wouldn’t even stop for a Kantharian ship anymore.
He should have just kept his mouth shut. Then he wouldn’t be in this situation, having to pick up a woman from Earth. Instead, he could be running drills with his men, fighting, or trying a new strategy in the fight against the buccaneers. When his king had asked him to analyze his – the king’s – tactics from the last campaign, Talon had not minced his words. Ferthoris III had the epithet “The Wise” in his title, but he hadn’t lived up to the supplemental name he had chosen for himself. He had made mistakes like an absolute beginner, and it had cost him the lives of hundreds of his battle-hardened warriors. All this just to satisfy the vanity of one man, who hadn’t the first clue about the high art of waging war.
When the waves had calmed a little after the disaster, the king had approached him, his most experienced fighter, and, in a strange moment of self-awareness, had asked him for suggestions for improvement. Talon should have known that his ruler would not tolerate even the slightest criticism of himself and his glory, no matter how justified it was.
Talon was lucky the king hadn’t beheaded him. He was sure that this had been his first impulse. Instead, Ferthoris had chosen a subtler form of punishment. He, the king’s underling, once a battle-tested warrior with the rank of general, had been named the king’s official bride collector. The Earthly woman was now the third female creature he was picking up from a strange planet in as many years. A beheading might have been a better choice, after all, Talon thought. The insatiable ruler of Kanthari 7 had made him his harem guard, and the proud soldier liked this about as much as he would have liked losing his manhood directly. Maybe it was time for a fight for supremacy. If he didn’t have such a strong sense of duty, and an aversion for the diplomatic responsibilities that came with being a king, he would have challenged Ferthoris twice already. Once for each bride he had delivered to the king’s bed.
Now, the third woman was waiting for his arrival. He clenched his teeth and let out a dull growl. One look at the chronometer told him that she would be approaching the predetermined spot any second now, assuming, of course, that she was punctual. Talon got up and checked to make sure his laser pistol was loaded. The battery was fully charged, and the beam intensity was set to medium. This would put any victim out of commission for a long time, rather than kill him or her. In his world, humans were considered unpredictable and emotional, surely a reason why Ferthoris had taken part in this absurd poker game to begin with. His women were all very tame creatures, subservient and always ready to feed his ego. The only one who had ever dared offer any resistance had had one tentacle removed for every defiant word. Talon shivered, partly because of his king’s senseless cruelty, and partly because of his preference for exotic female creatures. Women were to Ferthoris as scars were to Talon: trophies and accolades. With one difference. The king romped about in silk sheets while Talon made a name for himself on the battlefield. He shook his head. Tentacles! Really. Could it get any more absurd? The Kantharians were children of the sun and the desert, and as such, they never showed any desire to get involved with slimy fish women, at least not usually.
He looked at the chronometer again. Just then, his intercommunicative DIP that connected him with the entire crew buzzed. His First Officer’s face appeared on the armband Talon wore on his wrist.
“Sir, it is time,” the distorted voice crackled from the tiny loudspeaker. “The glider ship is ready for departure.” Talon looked in the mirror one last time. As a representative of the king, he needed to look flawless. His uniform fit him perfectly, and his face showed nothing of the reluctance he felt. It wouldn’t make sense, and would be extremely unwise, to anger the woman whose future influence with the king he had no way of being able to gauge yet.
* * *
Catherine Burke marched, her head held high, towards the abandoned building at the edge of the city. This was the meeting place they had given her. The company that organized the absurd poker games made a huge deal over secrecy, something she had already confirmed with her signature on the participant’s certificate.
Cat had found out about the woman poker, as her colleague had called it, and then only because Martin was a total gossip. After swearing her to complete secrecy, he had told her about his cousin who had participated, and in doing so, had saved her family from a yearlong jail sentence. The organizers paid generously for healthy, young women, and lured them with the promise of a safe existence at the side of a husband. Although Cat had asked herself what kind of men these guys were, wanting to win a wife in a game of chance, anything was better than continuing to live on Earth. Every day brought memories with it that took her further and further into the abyss of self-hate, and every night brought nightmares of the dead coming out for revenge. She just couldn’t keep going like this. Instead of throwing herself into the stinking and polluted river, this escape had presented itself to Cat. The PGL had been suspicious, initially, when she had mentioned her talent, and had insisted on numerous tests. When the doctor examined her thoroughly, she had seen his eyes light up. At that point, she had known that the usual wait time until the final consent was just pro forma.
Should she ever decide to return to Earth, she had a lot of money waiting for her in an account. In the meantime, it would grow rapidly. As an orphan without any living siblings, she had nobody she could spend the money on. Ninety-nine percent of the charity organizations on Earth were disguised arms of the government. They used any money entrusted to them to finance new weapons technology, unspeakable experiments on humans and animals, or on expensive whores for politicians of both genders. She could have burned all of her money and still inflicted less damage than if she had donated it.
For a second, she thought she could make out some movement in the heavy snow squalls, but when she stopped so she could take a closer look, there was nothing to see. This was the building, where she was supposed to meet her future husband. It was cloaked in silent darkness. She was already so close to it that she could see the damage left behind from the last war. The weathered writing above the entrance, flanked on either side by pompous pillars, told her that this building had once been the main library of the capital. Now, it was lonely and abandoned. In the chaotic years since the collapse, nobody had bothered to loot the library. Resources like water and food had been more important than books that told of adventures from long ago. Cat sighed silently and looked around, cursing the ridiculous secrecy clause. She was freezing. She was too excited to be tired, and the long walk here, from the city, had exhausted her. If the money hadn’t already arrived at a secure off-shore account, she might have thought that Martin had played a well-meant, but over-the-top, joke on her.
The sensitive skin on the back of her neck prickled. She felt like someone was watching her. It took all of her willpower not to turn around and run away as fast as her legs would carry her. Without drawing attention to herself, she tried to see something in the intact windowpane in front of her. The gray-yellow flakes prevented her from seeing anything that was more than ten feet away, but Cat thought she heard a low growl, like from a large animal. Her heart was beating so hard she thought it might burst. The only weapon she had brought with her was hidden in her knee-high boots, and if she leaned forward to get it or went to her knees, she would be vulnerable. She took a deep breath and turned around. If she was going to die, she would do so standing up.
Whatever it was, it was coming towards her in the heavy falling snow. The sound of boots crunching on the fresh snow droned in her ears. A huge shadow was slowly moving towards her. There was a yellow shimmer where she assumed the eyes would be. Using the height of the eyes to judge how big the rest of the body was, then this creature, which was coming closer to her with every step, was at least two heads taller than she was. Her knees shook, and she breathed in gasps. She heard the growl again, much closer this time, and a soft – sniffing?
Cat prepared herself to die. She let out a scream and her knees buckled. So much for dying with her dignity intact, she thought, and braced herself for pain.
A face started to materialize out of the snow. Cat held her breath. When she could finally see his face, she exhaled sharply with a hiss. He was a man, with an alien exterior, but of a humanoid shape. Even though her senses, or what was left of them, told her that she was not out of the woods yet, she still felt immense relief flood her body. She could deal with a creature that could think and feel, even if … she pushed the thought to the side. This must be the man who had won her in the gamble. He was her ticket to freedom. She tried to remember the password the poker company had given her. “Dandelion?” she asked the man who was now standing less than a foot in front of her. The word came out in a mere whisper, so she cleared her throat and repeated “dandelion,” this time loudly and clearly.
“Gold rain,” he answered without hesitation. His voice was pleasantly deep and exuded poise. She was grateful for this. Now that she could see him more clearly, she realized that she had secretly expected a repulsive, disfigured or somehow otherwise disgusting figure. The universe was populated by a multitude of creatures, and many of them were not visually appealing to the human eye. This man here, however, was attractive, at least outwardly. It was strange, but the scar that ran across his face made his chiseled features even more attractive.
Cat suppressed the urge to use her gift. Never again, she had promised herself. Not after everything that had happened after the last time.
When the man raised an eyebrow quizzically and pointed in the direction from which he had come, she realized that she had been staring at him for far too long.
He seemed to be a man of few words. That was fine with her. The less they spoke to each other, the less she would be tied to him.
She stomped after him in the increasingly heavy snow. She was thankful for the protection his broad back afforded her and took the opportunity to study him more closely. The way the man moved, told her more about his character than hours of small talk could. Even though he carried an enormous muscle mass with him, he moved with grace and as elegantly as a predator. A dangerous predator, mind you, because there was nothing hesitant about the way he moved. Every now and then, he turned his head a few inches to check the area. Cat noticed that he did not rely only on his eyes. He flared his nostrils and took in the air. If her eyes were not fooling her, his pointed ears could even move in different directions.
He might look ninety-five percent human, but his behavior proved that there was literally more to him. Cat became aware of how little she knew about him, and just how dangerous this business was that she had jumped into, when she was panic-stricken. Even though the interstellar poker company promised boldly that all women would get a “husband according to the ritual of the race in question,” who was actually going to check on this? Her companion could drag her off to the furthest corners of the universe, and sacrifice her there, on the altar of a pagan god, and nobody would ever know.
She sighed again – this time a little louder.
The pointed ears twitched. “We are almost there,” he said. Cat needed a moment to realize that this was his answer to her sigh. “That’s … good.” she replied. What else could she possibly say? I have changed my mind was out of question, as was, tell me, what exactly do you have planned for me?
She didn’t see the space glider until he stepped to the side, moving his broad back from her field of vision. The ship was bigger than she had expected, and looked both maneuverable and dangerous. There was a blue shimmer surrounding the ship, emphasizing its sleek shape. Looking at it as closely as Cat was, one could just make out small hatches that looked like they had retractable weapons behind them. The entrance opened up about two feet from the ground. Without any further ado, the man lifted her up into his arms and jumped from a standing position into the interior of the space ship. Against her will, Cat was impressed with how little effort it took him to hold her against his chest. It also made her shiver with fear. She would need to have more than fast legs to put her escape plan into action.
Carefully, as if she could break at the slightest wrong move, he set her down on the ground. Cat almost regretted, just almost, that she couldn’t feel the warmth of his body anymore, even though the inside temperature on the ship was fairly high. The air was actually so warm that she took off her jacket and pulled her sweater over her head. Her eyes fell on the portrait of a man whose highly decorated chest swelled proudly towards the observer. He seemed dandy and feminine, somehow, maybe because of his pouty mouth that was smiling arrogantly.
In the meantime, her companion had raised his left hand to his mouth and was speaking into his armband. So, they had the most modern communication methods here, too. She saw another obstacle to her path to freedom. He growled something in a language she couldn’t understand. It sounded like the grumbling of a predator. She tried to take her mind off the fear that was spreading through her body by asking him his name. “I don’t even know your name,” she said, but couldn’t prevent a fearful tone from creeping into her voice. “I am Catherine Burke. Cat. You can call me Cat,” she babbled nervously.
He looked down at her from his impressive height. His eyes seemed even stranger in the bright light than they had earlier in the dark of the cold night. Their color made his unnerving stare even stronger. They were a mix of something that changed from amber to the purest gold. Cat noticed her heart starting to race. Her instinct was screaming something to her, something about escaping, but it wasn’t just a deep-seated primal fear of a carnivorous predator that made sweat appear on her forehead. If she didn’t get out of here soon, she would lose herself in those eyes.
He cleared his throat. “Please forgive my manners,” he said and bowed slightly, so that he was almost at her eye level. “The weather on your planet is so inhospitable that I didn’t want to delay our departure.” Gold sparks flew in his eyes and then disappeared again. “My name is Talon Delkhari. I am one of the warriors of his Majesty Ferthoris III, who is also called the Wise One.” The last few words came out in a squeaky tone, and she wondered if he had caught a cold during his short stay on Earth. But before she could ask him about it, he pointed to a sprawling sofa against the wall. Overall, the entire interior of the ship was extremely luxurious. A few comfortable-looking chairs were arranged around a small bar, and two people could have easily slept on the sofa without bothering each other. Cat sat down on the sofa and nearly drowned in the overly soft upholstery.
“We will arrive at the mother ship in about an hour,” Talon explained. “Please make yourself comfortable until then. You are allowed to go anywhere except for the cockpit, and if you are hungry or thirsty,” he raised his eyebrows quizzically, “you are free to help yourself here.” He leaned down and opened a small cupboard under the bar. The pouches probably contained dried food, but as long as she couldn’t read the foreign, swirling symbols, she would rather go without.
“Thank you,” she said politely. “Will you keep me company during this time? I would love to learn more about you and my new home.” She tried in vain to interpret his facial expression, and threw her head back. This would never work, not from this low-seated position. It would be better for her to make things clear, so she stood up. Now she wouldn’t have to look up at him all the time. It wasn’t easy to fight her way out of the sofa, and after some awkward flailing, Talon lost his patience, and pulled her up. His skin was warm and dry and felt so silky that she brushed her thumb over the back of his hand before she could stop herself.
He jerked back as if her touch had scalded him. His pupils widened, until his glowing gold eyes were reduced to a thin ring. A dull growl came from his throat. Cat’s heart gave a big lurch and she drew back. “I am sorry,” she stammered and cursed her involuntary action silently. “I didn’t mean to get that close to you. I thought …” She lost her voice.
“It’s okay,” Talon snarled. His nostrils flared, and Cat saw a bead of sweat run down his temple. He stepped back slowly, as if doing so took all of the self-control he could muster.
“I will leave you alone now. I am expected in the cockpit. We will discuss everything else,” he was looking at a spot that was behind her head somewhere, “when we are on board the Stella Solaris.” He turned to leave, but before he walked through the door that probably led to the pilot’s cockpit, he looked at her one more time with that look that made her afraid and something else she couldn’t put her finger on. “If you want to start preparing for your duties, you will find a handbook on the table next to the sofa. It contains everything you need to know about your new home and husband.” With that, he departed without saying good-bye, leaving Cat behind. She needed a moment to understand what he had said. Finally, when she saw the title of the fairly comprehensive binder, it dawned on her that she had made a mistake. “The King of Kanthari 7 and his Brides” was written on it in bold letters. Below the title, she saw the same man she had noticed in the portrait earlier, but with one significant difference: he was sitting on an elaborately carved throne, and at his feet, female creatures of every type and color you could imagine cowered, and also a few you would rather not imagine.
Talon was not her future husband. Fate had secured a place for her in Ferthoris III’s harem.
* * *
Talon left the operation of the space glider to his officer. The cheeky whippersnapper had taken one look at Talon’s dark demeanor, and all of his questions about the new woman had gotten stuck in his throat. Talon barked his commands and they took off in the direction of the Stella Solaris. The maneuverable little ship passed through the Earthly barriers without anyone stopping them. The officers in charge, he thought cynically, were probably sitting around, drinking their disgusting beer, and bragging about their affairs with women. Humans! Once again, he marveled that this species had not gone extinct yet. Not only had they destroyed their own planet’s biosphere, but they were also doing everything possible to exterminate each other. He had absolutely nothing against a reasonable and small conquering expedition, or even a war, if it was about defending your home, but no Kantharian (not even their crazy king) would ever attack their own race. He shook his head. The humans had tried to subdue other races in an insane undertaking, and to conquer other planets. Then, they had almost completely annihilated each other. They had even undertaken crazy experiments on their own race. How ruthless must a scientist be, to stoop to that kind of research? Over the years, this experimentation created humans that had special abilities. Some could see the future, while others could move things using only the power of thought. He wondered what the king’s new toy was capable of. This was probably the reason, he thought resigned, why Ferthoris III had paid such a hefty sum for the little woman to begin with. He already had more than enough legitimate sons, and his illegitimate ones were so numerous that he recruited his bodyguards from their ranks. The kick he would get from having a new wife would last one, maybe two weeks, and then he would get bored with his new toy. This one, however …
Talon leaned back and closed his eyes, thankful for the moment of peace before he had to take up his duties as commander of his ship again. This woman with the cat name had gotten under his skin. If he was honest with himself, not just under his skin, but also in his loins. She was tall for a human woman, and seemed to be strong enough to be able to fight with a lion. But under all of that strength, which she wore for show, there was a vulnerability that touched him against his will. He clenched his fists, without knowing it, as he thought of Cat in the king’s bed, moving underneath him and uttering small sounds of lust.
If he didn’t watch himself, he really would be beheaded, namely for committing high treason, and not for just having a big mouth.
Really, who was he trying to fool, anyway?
It was too late for caution already. The predator inside him had only needed to look at Cat once – at her breasts that were clearly defined, even under her thick parka, at her round hips, and her light, curly hair under her hood – and had sharpened its claws in desire. More than that, really. His animal had roared. It hadn’t been a battle cry. It had been the cry of a predator that was ready to mate, a predator who was claiming a female as his. When she had touched him, running her thumb over the back of his hand, he had been close to losing all self-control.
End of the Reading Sample.
Also available as audiobook on Audible
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