Authors: Larissa Ladd
Alien Romance Short Story Serial
Copyright © 2015 Larissa Ladd
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior written permission.
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
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ABOUT UNWORLDLY ENCOUNTER
Andrea’s having a bad night. Ladies Night is a bust. A fox in the middle of the road does the Bambi-in-the-headlights thing and now her car is off the road, wedged between trees. Her rescue comes in the form of a tall, handsome man who makes her knees melt. If it weren’t for his purple skin she’d have swooned! Her hero saves her car but his price is spending the night at her house until he can contact his friends in the morning. Against her better judgment, she takes him home. When the door closes behind them, she realizes her purple protector has other things on his mind.
ANDREA FELT THE FATIGUE IN the back of her eyes as she turned onto the back road, which led to her one-bedroom house; the beginnings of a headache were forming at her temples. She couldn’t help thinking that going to the bar had been a mistake. She liked the idea of ladies’ night at The Ibiza, but the pickings had been slim. Normally, ladies’ night events were a treasure-trove of men looking for tipsy women, but the few guys who had been there all seemed to be the ruggedly-cut, juiced up, fake-tan, gym-going type. She had a private bet with herself that not a single one of them could find North America on a map.
It didn’t help that she was not the kind of woman any of the men at the bar would have thought was worth impressing. The one guy who had made a token pass at her had muttered something which sounded an awful lot like “whale” under his breath when she had declined his offer to buy her a drink, pointing out she could get one for herself for much cheaper. Andrea loved her body, but she was realistic enough—after years of taunts—to know what her mother had always called her “Juno-esque” physique was not appealing to guys who wanted a girl they could pick up and carry away with them if need be.
Andrea tilted her head back, stretching the muscles in the back of her neck in what she knew was a futile attempt to stall the headache. She had stayed until last call, when even the most dedicated partiers in her group of friends were starting to droop. Three hours of drinking liquor was an excellent recipe for a hangover.
The back road she decided on was poorly lit, and even more poorly maintained. Andrea pressed her lips together and frowned, peering into the path cut by her headlights. The last thing she needed was to run over a nail or a jagged hole in the asphalt and flatten one of her tires.
Somehow I don’t think this is the part of town I’d want to call Roadside Assistance to,
she thought to herself, glancing to the sides into the pitch darkness that enveloped the road.
I wouldn’t even be able to give them good directions. “Where are you ma’am?” “Somewhere on the side of County Line Road north of Avendale and south of Creek Street.”
She chuckled wryly to herself, imagining the explanation. It would be funny if it happened to someone other than her and at any other time of day than two in the morning.
Far from drunk, not even tipsy but deeply tired, she let her mind wander through the pretend conversation, working it up in her mind to an Abbott and Costello-style routine. While the road was in poor repair, it was at least a straight shot up to the right turn she had to take to get onto her street.
There was a flash of something in her peripheral vision, just inside the cone of visibility created by her headlights. Andrea started, turning her attention back onto the road, and caught sight of it: a huge fox, in the middle of its attempt to dart across the road from one part of the scrubby wilderness that surrounded the street to the other. It stopped, turning to look at the oncoming light, and froze in place.
Andrea’s heart began pounding. Automatically, instinctively, her foot shifted from the gas pedal to the brake; but in an instant she could tell she was not going to have enough space to stop without hitting the animal.
Andrea spun the wheel, intent on swerving around the fox, but she lost control altogether. In the corner of her eye, at the last moment, she saw the fox dart into the darkness, safe from the tons of metal and fiberglass bearing down on it. The next instant, she was tumbling down the slight embankment propelling her towards the dark trees.
She heard a crunch and the inertia of the car propelled her forward towards the steering wheel for a split second before the seat belt yanked her backwards. The impact wasn’t enough for the airbag to deploy, sparing Andrea at least some small amount of humiliation, but she heard the engine choke, sputter, and finally die.
“Shit,” she said quietly, bringing her palm down hard against the steering wheel. “Shit, shit, shit.”
Andrea closed her eyes, the last dregs of her panic working through her. She muttered a few more curses and took a deep breath. The lights were still on—so the battery hadn’t been affected by the crash but when she turned the key it wouldn’t turn over.
Great. Great. I have alcohol on my breath still and no one will ever believe that I’m not drunk.
Andrea’s eyes stung and she tilted her head back against the headrest of her seat, groaning.
She took another deep breath. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as she thought or maybe she wasn’t entirely stranded. She turned on the overhead light. Rummaging around on the passenger-side floor board, Andrea found the big heavy flashlight her father had given her years ago. It wasn’t just an effective light source but also a handy weapon in case anyone was lurking on the side of whatever road she might end up stranded on.
Andrea turned the flashlight on and opened the driver’s side door, climbing out and nearly twisting her ankle the moment she stood firmly on the slanted ground. Cursing again she slipped her high heels off and picked a careful path along the gravel and grass.
I am never ever going to ladies’ night again. Ever. Free liquor is not worth this much trouble—it just isn’t.
Stepping around to the front of the car she saw that while the vehicle was wedged against the tree it had collided with the damage was minimal—she’d have to replace the front bumper but body-wise there wasn’t much of a problem.
Andrea started when she heard something moving—the sound of a stick or a branch cracking and the noise of leaves shifting and moving.
It’s probably another damned fox,
she thought bitterly.
Now that the coast is clear they can have a mass fox migration across County Line onto greener freaking pastures in the other part of the woods.
She groped carefully along the hot hood of the car until her questing fingers found the release catch. Lifting the hood up Andrea shone the flashlight into the depths of the car’s front end, looking for any obvious sign of what was wrong.
Another sound—the clattering slither of gravel—made Andrea’s slowing pulse begin to race again. If there were foxes there might be other nocturnal creatures in the woods. Raccoons—which would probably leave her alone—were one thing. A wolf? That she was not sure she could handle even with the impressively heavy flashlight. Or, and the thought made Andrea shiver, it could be a person. A homeless man or woman living out of a tarp or a tent in the woods along the road. Or someone escaped from the closest county lock-up. She might be the good fortune of someone who was just itching to commit a murder.
“Hello?” Andrea called out, turning her attention and the flashlight’s beam away from the front of her car and out towards where the sounds were coming from.
Andrea’s tired eyes picked out the distinctive shape of something—someone tall—clinging to the darkness of the tree line. She realized that it was moving towards her.
“Hello? If you—if you’re someone who lives in the woods—I’m sorry if I’ve disturbed you…” Andrea swallowed against the tight, dry feeling in her throat. “I just want to get out of here.”
She pointed the light towards the approaching figure. As it came nearer she could see that it was definitely a person of some kind, and her first impression was that it was a guy. Taller than her, broad across the shoulders with the unmistakable look of heavy muscles everywhere. The man was wearing something that looked a lot like a mechanic’s jumpsuit and Andrea felt relief. If he was a mechanic, or at least someone who knew something about electronics and machinery, he might be able to help her.
The man came closer and Andrea, backing up until her knees pressed against the tree and the front of her car, noticed that his skin had a strange purple cast to it. His hair was dark—it seemed to shine and glint in the brightness of her flashlight beam. She couldn’t make out the color of the eyes, but the fact that his skin looked purple was enough to make Andrea want to run.
“Hello?” she called out again. “I—could you at least answer me please?” Her fear transformed into irritated anger at the oddly silent stranger and his bizarre skin.
“Hello. You are having trouble?” The man’s voice was low and gravelly, strange to Andrea’s ears with an accent that she couldn’t place.
“I—yes, I was trying to avoid hitting a fox that froze in the middle of the road and—this is really silly—I ended up swerving and lost control of the car. I swear I’m not drunk.” Andrea’s cheeks burned and she looked down at her bare feet in the grass and gravel.
God, that’s the first thing a drunk person would say.
“Your…car is—broken?” The man was no more than a few feet away from her, not quite stopped, watching her.
Andrea glanced at the open compartment and back at the man. Her heart was pounding in her chest. He was obviously foreign. Andrea had no idea where he might have come from, but wherever it was he must be the only person of his nationality in the US. She had never seen any guy so terrifically built with such strange skin.
“You need assistance?” The man began rubbing his hands together.