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Cave Alien (Ancient Earth Aliens #1)
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I was supposed to die. But he made me his.
CAVE ALIEN is a standalone romance in USAT Bestselling Author Loki Renard’s new Ancient Earth Aliens series, a spin-off from her Amazon Bestselling Possessive Aliens series
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It is all coming to an end.
Hyrrm has been roaring for days, demanding he be fed. The great rocky peaks which lay so quiet for years have become active with his cries for fresh blood. Ash fills the air and embers fall into the river, turning the clear waters red and casting moon and sun in the same sanguine hue. The sky turned white and then black and then red on the day he awakened, and nothing has been the same since.
The sacrifice will be made soon.
I sit inside a bathing tent made of animal skins pitched at the verge of the river’s flow, not a stitch of clothing protecting me from the ashen flow. My hair is being washed with herbal infused oils. I feel light, repetitive tugging as the woman attending me pulls the sides into braids. It is important that I am presented as beautifully as possible. Hyrrm will accept only the finest sacrifices. A pure woman, fully grown and yet unsullied by the touch of man. Me.
I was born to be the mountain’s bride. Other girls laughed and giggled about the day they would be given to Trelok, our chief. I knew Trelok would never touch me. I would never feel the touch of any man until Hyrrm’s hot embrace covered me over and carried me down.
“Tomorrow, you serve your purpose, condemned one,” Mira murmurs to me. “Are you frightened?”
I shake my head just a little, not enough to tug the braids she is fixing. She has been working on them for hours, taking the free flowing strands of my red hair and turning them into tight braids which will please my mate.
“You have nothing to fear,” she says. “You will fly into the arms of your lover, and you will know greater joy than any woman in this tribe.”
I hear a slight quaver in her voice. She is trying to contain her emotions. I feel the tremors in her fingers as she drops a braid, then picks it up again and tries to fasten it with a piece of wound twine. Mira is a good woman, the closest thing I have to a mother, though I was not born from her womb. I was not born from any womb. I was cut from the stomach of a condemned woman, and for that sin, I became condemned myself.
“Do not worry for me, Mira. It won’t hurt.”
She lets out a soft little sob.
“It is not too late to run, Tres. You could go around the mountain, find the mushroom people on the other side. They would take you, and Trelok would not dare come for you. Many of our women who do not wish to be his bride run that way.”
And many of them are caught and killed for the sin. Trelok slays them himself, publicly and painfully. Their screams ring in our ears many moons after their passing. The last one who ran was not even a woman yet. He killed her anyway.
I shake my head again. “I don’t dare defy Hyrrm. His anger could destroy us all if he is denied me. When he has me, he will be calm again, and I will be his bride forevermore.”
“You are so brave,” she says. “You always have been.”
The ground rumbles beneath us, a light tremor, reminding me that Hyrrm can hear me. Over the years I have gazed at the rising rock peaks and wondered if it is possible for a woman to truly be promised to the land, but we come from the land, are made from it, and always return to it. The living, breathing, venting beast that lives in the mountain is as much like me as I am like the woman who sits behind me, doing my hair and trying not to shed tears.
Time slips by, my last moments passing with a strange ordinariness.
I can smell the pot outside brewing the potion I will drink before the sacrifice is made. It purifies and sedates, so that any last moment attempts at escape or panic will be impossible.
“I’m jealous of you, in a way,” Mira says, the soft swell of her belly bumping against me. She is pregnant, as all brides of Trelok are. “You will feel nothing after tomorrow. But the others of us will have to keep enduring that man.”
Mira is one of the oldest women in the tribe. Her last born did not survive the first night. This one may not either. Trelok will stop lying with her if she does not produce for him, and if he stops lying with her, she will be sent to the very edges of the village where she will starve.
Another roar and rumble makes the red river water slosh higher against my skin.
“This world cries for our blood,” Mira says ominously. “Have you eaten? You must be well fed to be able to satisfy the mountain’s hunger.”