When Abby Harris takes her faithful German shepherd out for a hike in Oregon’s beautiful mountains, getting abducted by aliens isn’t even a blip on her radar. Her trusty can of bear spray and the pocket knife isn’t much help against the seven-foot monsters who swoop in out of nowhere to transport her to a ship in space.
Nicolai Nekbet is Crown Prince for the House of Nekbet on the planet Raiden. Unable to bear healthy children with females of their own species, Raiden warriors must hunt for a bride outside their own world. Nicolai has his heart set on a human even though their planet is protected by an ancient species called Laizahlian. When he sees the tall blonde-haired beauty out in the mountains with only a dog by her side, he knows he must have her.
With Abby safely on his ship, Nicolai injects her with his shaprata, his essence. His shaprata will change her on a cellular level, making them compatible for procreation, but he must still work hard to win her heart. If she rejects their union, it could easily mean his death.
“I thought that this book was a very unique science fiction novel and stood out in the genre. The aliens that Holm’s creates are detailed, with their own histories, politics, technologies, and traditions … Holm’s did an excellent job of giving her characters depth, and they grow throughout the story….” — Emerson Rose Craig— Amazon Review
“This is one very, unique story with new cultures, new creatures, invented histories and technologies, beautiful creative character/setting names, eroticism, romance, danger, and love! The author wholeheartedly embraces this unreal world of aliens. The alien cultures are delivered in such a way that even very strange details don’t seem too over the top. Nikolai and the Raiden’s have a thought process that is so human-like that it makes their way of life seem believable, strangely enough. By the end of the book I was totally grasping the concepts of the shaprata and the abaci! So clever and original! The names for the different planets and types of beings was fascinating as well. She does such a good job of painting the picture for the reader on how these unique characters look and act, as well as their worlds….” — Molly S.— Amazon Review
Abby Harris stopped at the top of the last ridge to check a reading on her GPS unit. She kept it looped around her neck, always careful about her position when hiking these mountains alone, aware how easy it was to get turned around. Every year she heard about people who grew careless and got lost, some of them not making it out alive.
She marked a new waypoint and then changed direction, thinking she might head back to her car from a different angle.
She had driven up the day before to meet her family for a week of camping at Crescent Lake, Oregon, on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains. It was the week before Labor Day, and the start of her second year at the University of Oregon. Her parents and younger sister were hot on fishing for the abundant kokanee in the lake, though Abby preferred to hike, especially in the fall. This was when the Matsutake mushrooms popped, her favorite. They were a large cream-colored mushroom with a unique scent that reminded her of Red Hots candy.
Abby had stayed in bed while the rest of her family took the boat out at the crack of dawn for a morning of fishing on the lake. As soon as the sun peeked up over the mountains, she packed a lunch and several bottles of water in her backpack, planning to spend the day hiking with her German shepherd, Quin.
With walking stick in hand, Quin by her side, and the trusty GPS unit looped around her neck, Abby planned to spend most of the day in her version of paradise. She parked her car at the head of Fawn Lake Trail, hoping not to run into too many people out hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Crescent Lake Junction was one of their stopping points for supplies before they continued up into Washington. She always carried bear spray and a hunting knife for protection just in case of trouble, but most people took one look at Quin, a solid black German shepherd, and made a wide berth around them.
About an hour in, Abby looked up after setting another waypoint, the mountains breathtaking at this elevation. No wonder people spent months hiking the PCT trail during the summer. The Ponderosa pines grew up among the regular evergreens, the rough, reddish bark of their trunks beautiful, reminding her of a giant jigsaw puzzle. She never grew tired of looking at them, majestic trees that filled her heart with warmth. A half hour earlier, Abby had moved away from the more popular trail, deciding to go cross country in search of newly popped Matsutake. She only needed a pound or so, enough to feed her family for dinner.
Her eye was drawn to the base of another Ponderosa pine, a hint of white pushing out of the ground. Abby smiled, digging into her pack for a knife and paint brush—a knife to cut off the stem, and the brush to whisk the dirt away. Oddly enough, for the past half hour or so, Quin kept pushing up against her legs, refusing to chase chipmunks like he normally would.
“What’s wrong with you today?” she asked, bending over to scratch the trembling shepherd behind the ear. Abby glanced up, seeing no sign of thunderheads, her dog not fond of loud noises. “You smell a bear or something?” He only whined, licking her fingers. She double-checked her can of bear spray, making sure it could be easily jerked free of the sheath on her belt. Over the years, she’d run into a couple of black bears while out hiking, but they always ran, more afraid of her than she was of them.
She frowned, taking a moment to study the heavily forested land around them, unable to see far through the thick brush. Giving the dog one last pet, she started to make her way toward the mushroom peeking through the dry dirt and pine needles. A flash of movement drew her eye a little higher on the trunk of the Ponderosa though she didn’t see a chipmunk or pine squirrel. She blinked a few times when a large blurry spot around the center caught and held her attention. Abby studied it, more curious than afraid as the fuzzy area slowly moved to the left. It stopped in front of a large Manzanita bush, its thin red branches winding through the smooth green leaves. Her eyes widened as the faint reddish blur slowly turned green, an enormous shape beginning to take form.
“What the hell?” she muttered, narrowing her eyes. Quin whined, shaking harder than ever against her leg. This was no bear or cougar. As the shape slowly took form, Abby realized it was a person. She began to back up, growing even more alarmed when the kneeling person stood upright. “Oh, my God.” The guy was freaking tall, seven feet or more, and huge, though she still couldn’t see any real features, his face and body blurry, like a part of the landscape.
“I don’t understand,” Abby whispered, tightening her grip on the little paring knife. Was someone playing games? She pointed her knife at him. “Who are you?”
Never mind, she thought, turning to run.
Abby screamed when a powerful arm closed around her middle, pulling her back against a hard chest, her feet lifted from the ground.
Two of them! she thought, trying to kick the knees of the one holding her. She gasped at the slight prick against her neck, her body growing instantly limp. The last thing she remembered before closing her eyes was a strange face coming into focus above her, nothing human, unless he was wearing an elaborate mask. He smiled at her, saying something she couldn’t understand, then her world went black. Abby welcomed the darkness, the man’s face terrifying, but especially his teeth, all of them sharp, reminding her of a shark.