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How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days [Secure eReader]
eBook by Susan Grant

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: His internal computers are offline, his former employers want him dead and the Men in Black are after him. Without his cyberpowers, Reef is as weak as a lowly Earthling. He's tried to kill every human he's met--so why on Earth would they help him? Evie Holloway needs a bodyguard! Her fledgling chocolate business is mistaken as a money-laundering scheme for the mob and the bullets have started flying. But does the suburban soccer mom really want to shelter the alien hit man who almost offed her future brother-in-law? She is desperate, and Reef is incredibly sexy. "Ten days," she tells him--but it turns out that ten days just might be long enough to spark a love that's truly out of this world.

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/HQN, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2007


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CHAPTER ONE

Planet Sandreem Twenty-five years ago

SILENT AND DETERMINED adversaries, the boy and his father were locked in battle. Their foreheads nearly touched as they sat hunched over a Sech board, scrutinizing several dozen game pieces carved to resemble soldiers. The bustle and laughter of the rest of the family filled the cottage, while filets of fresh-caught river eel sizzled on the grill. A few raindrops splashed against the windows of the cottage, the last of an early evening squall.

Eriff tried to predict the result of his father's confident moves across the game board. Some endings had him invading his father's Holy Keep, but others had Eriff's goddess falling to his father's onslaught. Which would be the best move? The right move.

His father's quiet voice broke his concentration. "Life or death…so it always is for you, boy."

Eriff glanced up into amused blue eyes that looked just like his, according to his mother. "As vivid as the noon sky on High-Sun Day," she'd say. "With hair as black as soot and eyes like those, my fair Eriff, you'll snare your lady's heart with a glance, just as your father won mine."

His father's chair creaked as he leaned back. He pretended to work stiffness out of his limbs. "I fear I'll grow old waiting for you to make a decision."

His father's teasing left him puzzled. Time sped by when he was stalking his prey—outside in the woods hunting, or here in a game of Sech. "Have I taken too long?"

"Let me say this. It seems the gods gifted you with infinite patience. With life so slow on this backwater planet, it'll serve you well, I think." Under his breath, he added, "Move your archer…there."

"But that will open my quadrex to your warriors!"

"Take a chance." His father's eyes sparkled.

"But, Papa, my archer, it's not logical."

"Not everything in life can be logically thought out, Eriff. Often, taking a risk brings the sweetest reward of all."

Often, but not always. And that was the part Eriff didn't like about his father's advice. As soon as a player's goddess piece was taken, the game was over. But in Sech, even the lowliest soldier could topple an empire. Eriff moved his scout, planning to inch it forward and breach his father's Holy Keep.

His father gave a shrug and captured one of Eriff's commanders, dropping the piece into a worn leather pouch. Eriff lowered his head.

Chuckling, his father reached across the table to ruffle his hair. "So serious…an old soul your grandmother says. I wish for you the chance to leave this world and find your fortune, but alas, the chances of that are next to none."

Eriff perked up. "You had that chance, Papa." Maybe this time his father would tell him of the years he'd spent fighting the Drakken Horde. There were stories, oh so many stories; Eriff could see them in his eyes. But no matter how much he pleaded, the man never shared them. All Eriff knew was that his father joined the Coalition Army as a teenager and went off to see the galaxy.

At least he came back. A great-uncle on his mother's side didn't. Mangus Slipstream left to become a scientist long before Eriff was born and no one ever heard from him again.

Well, Eriff was staying put. Even if he wanted to leave, how would he? It was rare for ships to pass this way. Commerce required wormholes for the ships to speed through vast distances that would normally take months and likely years. There were no wormholes near Sandreem.

It was quiet here, and that's the way Eriff liked it. No one wasted much thought about the rest of the galaxy or the war. Why should they when nothing happened on Sandreem to remind them of it?

Eriff might have doubted there was a "somewhere else" if he hadn't seen the evidence with his own eyes: a deep-space cargo transport. But he'd been little more than a babe and remembered nothing of the crew except for the stink of their craft.

His father did, however, bring home one treasure from the far-off lands: the Sech board. It was a revered family possession. As soon as Eriff could hold a game piece in his hand, his father taught him how to play.

Boom-boom. Sudden thunder echoed down from the mountains. The table vibrated, rattling the game pieces out of position. Eriff gasped in dismay, trying to put the pieces back in order. His father's hand covered his much smaller one, stopping him. "The game's over."

Thunder rumbled on and on. Eriff joined his sisters at the windows. "I never heard a storm like this before," Kayree said.

"Me, either!" Karah sang out.

Eriff threw open the window and peeked outside. Clouds raced across a clearing sky. Thunder boomed again, roaring. Screeching.

The small house shook on its very foundation. It sounded as if the sky was tearing open. Eriff's heart bounced with the thrill of it. Then a shadow passed over the house.

"Look!" he shouted, coming up on his toes as an enormous, gleaming starship descended toward the horizon. Ribbons of white clouds trailed behind it. It was going to land! "Father! Is it Coalition?"

"Yes."

Eriff wasn't sure what they'd have done if the answer had been otherwise. If the Drakken had come, it would be to slaughter them all. They had no mercy, no religion. While the Coalition worshipped the Goddess and all Her descendents, the Drakken were nonbelievers. His mother told him it was why they'd split from the Coalition long ago. His father said the Horde had spent nearly every year since trying to invade the Holy Keep on Sakka and take the Goddess in a real-life game of Sech.

Copyright © 2007 by Susan Grant.


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