For Earth geologist Mallory Blain, permission to explore Aurora's alien geology represents the opportunity of a lifetime. Tasmin, Mallory's college roommate, is now consort to Aurora's Star Prince, who grants Mallory the unheard of chance to explore Aurora's rocks and minerals. There's only one problem: Mallory's escort, the sexy duke DeBaron, a warrior priest and the prince's cousin. The man hates humans and resents her intrusion into his world's sacred mysteries. Worse yet, she'll be at his mercy in an alien wilderness for seven days.
Every rock on DeBaron's world is the womb of mother Aurora. Earth's analytical scientists have no concept of how mystical life is, or how to study his world with appropriate reverence. However, disobeying the Star Prince is not an option. DeBaron must keep the Earth woman from disrespecting his world while protecting her for an entire week in the wilderness.
When an alien rock-creature bites her hand, Mallory learns how real the mystical forces on Aurora are, and how much her body craves her protector. DeBaron knows there's only one way to save the foolish Earthling from the creature's bite -- sex, and lots of it. Together they will discover the secret of Aurora's mysteries may be a chemistry of their own.
~~~Blurb~~~"Tas!" Mallory hugged her friend tightly.
"How was your trip, Mal?" Tasmin's voice had acquired a trace of an Aurorian accent and the lilt made Mallory smile. She noticed her friend carried herself... regally. Tas certainly wore the mantel of consort well.
"A bit terrifying. I hate flying, so space travel wasn't any easier for me to stomach, but it was totally worth it. Wow, is this place beautiful or what? Pictures can't do it justice. I cried just smelling the flowers in front of the hotel. I felt like an idiot."
"Don't feel bad. The scents and colors here have a unique effect on humans. DeMarcus is always teasing me about it. What happened to your hand?"
Mallory looked down at her bandaged hand. "Nothing, just an accident when I went out exploring this afternoon." Shrugging, she changed the subject to a more enjoyable topic. "Where's your hunk? I can't believe you've slowed down long enough to let a man into your life. You never did tell me how you ended up consort of the Prince of The Stars." Tasmin blushed and looked away with an uncomfortable gesture. "Oh hon, you don't have to tell me."
"It's not that I don't want to tell you. Please don't tell anyone back home, but I... I was technically married to him for awhile."
"I saved his life, and the end result was that we were married. Sort of. We had to -- have sex to fulfill the requirements of his life debt to me. Then he saved my life and everything turned out okay. Thank God. I love him, but I'm the alien here. People have been wary of our relationship due to how strained relations between Aurora and Earth have been. I'm not ready to marry him, so to keep the more traditional Aurorians happy I accepted the title of consort."
"You've been his consort for a year now. Do you think you'll ever be ready to be his princess?"
"Essh, don't say princess, it makes me queasy. I like being me, and a title like that just freaks me out. It's so damn un-American."
"Isn't that the truth. But if anyone can be both, it's you. I know you can do anything you set your mind on doing."
Tas chuckled and put her arm around Mallory's shoulders. Tas had sent her a traditional Aurorian evening dress and Mallory was still feeling a bit naked. She was glad to see her friend appeared comfortable in the scant clothing. Mallory's larger body strained against the cloth and she knew her nipples were far too visible for comfort. She'd piled her long brown hair up in a creative style of curls and braids, as was popular on Aurora. Mallory glanced at her reflection in the hotel door. She wished non-transparent clothing was in fashion, too, but unfortunately it wasn't. She felt naked seeing how clearly visible her body was under the beautiful cloth.
The evening breeze ruffled the gauzy garment. It reminded her of a toga. The material wrapped around her body tightly and belted at the waist. The light purple was more of a blue than lavender. She'd never seen such an exotic color before. She'd considered wearing her own clothing, but she wasn't willing to offend her hosts.
"DeMarcus's mother is away, but she asked me to pass along her welcome to you. She's really sweet. I adore her. At first, I hated her for instigating the trial of flesh, but now I understand why she did it. There's so much political intrigue here. That's the worst part of being consort, making sure you don't offend anyone or give the royal family's enemies a reason to strike."
"As if I wasn't nervous enough... Are you sure this dinner is a good idea? You could just tell everyone I'm sick." Mallory hated how hopeful she sounded.
"It's a small gathering. Just me, DeMarcus, and the man you'll be working with in the field."
"What man?" Mallory stopped dead in her tracks.
"I know how much of a lone ranger you are, but this was a condition of allowing you to explore. Aurora is a very religious place and the rocks are as much a part of that as the sex. DeBaron is DeMarcus's cousin and the equivalent to a geologist on Earth, but also a priest of sorts. It's complicated."
"So I'll have your rock priest tagging along? I suppose this means I can't take samples."
"I'm not sure about the samples. We can ask tonight. I'm sorry, this is the best I can do." Tas sounded a bit hurt.
"Please don't think I'm ungrateful. I appreciate all you did to get me here. It's just going to be a bit weird."
"Welcome to my world. Once you understand everything, Aurora is great, but weird pretty much sums it up. They are very -- organic. Sex is life, literally. Makes sense. Life begins with sex. It's just the whole planet is considered the womb of their gods. These people have a lot to teach Earth about being "green." I'm impressed at the recycling they do here, but hurting the planet is a crime. Be careful of DeBaron. He's not impressed with his cousin for allowing you to come. Part of the reason they're so interested in Earth's resources is to protect their world. I think that's causing some suspicion at home. I assure you they aren't going to start a war, but I worry we'll start one out of pure paranoia."
"Believe me, the rhetoric is getting louder since you've been here. How are they handling you being with the prince over at the embassy?"
"I'm afraid I may have to make a choice soon, but not yet."
"I'll keep my fingers crossed that they don't force you to decide. If anyone can walk in both worlds gracefully, it's you, Tasmin."