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When She Purrs – A Risdaverse Tale
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Life on a farm planet at the edge of the universe can be dangerous for a human woman alone.
That’s why I need a husband. ANY husband.
Unfortunately, all the men I approach keep running off. So I hire a bounty hunter to kidnap me someone capable and strong, someone who will scare off the creeps that are trying to move in on my territory.
It’ll be a marriage of convenience only.
I should have been a little more specific about who I wanted, though…because the intimidating and fierce praxiian male that the bounty hunter brings to me? The one with feline features, big arms and an even bigger…uh, farm?
He’s the problem I was hoping a new husband would scare off. What am I supposed to do now?
(Don’t ask him, because all of his suggestions are completely and utterly filthy and have nothing to do with a marriage of convenience.)
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Risda III has absolutely got to get a second restaurant, I decide as I take a seat at one of two tiny tables in the cantina. Oh sure, there’s a bar, but you can only stand at the bar if you’re buying a drink, and everything they serve here is far too strong for my human candy-ass. I learned that the hard way the first night I arrived.
Water it is.
I set my datapad down on the table and look around, just in case I’ve missed my contact. So far, the cantina’s empty, but it’s also early in the morning. There’s an alien man at the bar, but the small area reserved for the dining area is empty except for me. The big szzt working in the kitchen comes and thumps a plate of fried rekesh leaves onto my table and refills my water glass, spilling a small puddle onto the table itself.
“Thank you,” I say meekly, taking a plas-film napkin and soaking up the spill when the surly alien stomps away. Service with a smile, I think to myself. Always service with a smile for humans. We’re about as popular here as an outbreak of bedbugs. I nibble on one of the fried leaves and swipe on my e-reader, reading over my most recent chapter. Human language book files are scarce and traded amongst a few of us human “colonists,” and I ran out of books to read a few weeks after landing on Risda. After hearing some of my fellow colonists complain, I decided to take matters into my own hands and started writing stories for the other girls. I post them to a private forum, chapter by chapter, and others read along and comment. It’s a lot of fun and makes me feel connected to my fellow colonists even when we’re a jillion miles apart, thanks to the spread of farms. It helps keep me occupied, too, on the long, quiet nights when there’s nothing to watch but alien broadcasts talking about things I don’t understand. It helps me feel connected to my past. To my people.
And because I’m a particularly neurotic sort, I’m re-reading today’s chapter for the seventh time before I post it later. Just in case there’s typos. I eat fried leaves as I proofread while I wait for my contact to arrive.
“You the one they call…Cheem?”
I glance up. I’ve been so engrossed in my love story of a plucky lady-in-waiting and a kilted highlander that I wasn’t paying attention to the door. I flush with embarrassment because I’ve apparently been SO engrossed that I’ve also eaten all my leaves, my water glass is empty, and the person standing across from my table has probably been there for at least a minute or two. Awkward. “Hi, I’m…what did you call me?”
The hooded figure glances down at the datapad held in a three-fingered blue hand. “Cheem?”
I guess they’re addressing me. “Kim?”
“It says here it’s Cheem. In human language, this letter is pronounced with a chuh, yes?” I can’t see into the hood, but I can practically feel the person glaring at me.
“Actually, no. A K is pronounced…well, just like that.”
I wince. “Just Kim.”
The figure huffs and drops into the seat across from me, datapad thunking onto the table. “Your human language is ridiculous.”
“Mostly just English,” I say brightly. “Are you Bethiah?”
The hood goes back, revealing an alien woman. Oh. From the tone of the voice, I’d thought perhaps I was dealing with a young man, but no, it’s a woman. She’s about my age, maybe older. Her face is angular, cheekbones pronounced, and she reminds me of one of the Tolkien elves…if they were bright blue and seven feet tall. Her black hair is pulled back in tight braids and she has shiny, capped horns and tattoos covering just about every inch of exposed skin from the jaw down. Under her cloak, I catch a hint of armor and what look to be several weapons strapped to her body. This woman means business.
“I am absolutely Bethiah,” the alien woman drawls as she slides a leg over the chair and sits on it. “Pronounced exactly how it’s spelled.”
I lick my lips, wondering if this is the time to point out that I can’t read her language and have no clue how it’s spelled. Her name’s been given to me by a friend, who pronounced it Beth-eye-uh. I thought it was pretty. “I see. And are you a…” I glance around at the empty cantina. “Person who takes on dubious jobs?”
“Kef, they said you humans were adorably idiotic, but I didn’t believe it until I saw it for myself.” She shakes her head, crossing her arms over her chest. “I’m a bounty hunter, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Yes. Fabulous.” I slide my datapad to “off” so she can’t see the particularly lurid scene I’m reading over and place the device in my lap. “I’m in need of your services.”