A shooting star catches my eye, and I smile as I watch it zoom passed this oddly beautiful world. Deep rich hues of color are everywhere you look. From the people to the soil, this world is like a rainbow. I know I won't be able to sleep in the massive bed, so looking out the window until I grow drowsy will be fine. There is so much to look at.
I lean my forehead against the glass, and within seconds, a soft knock vibrates off my door. I freeze on instinct before slowly thawing. I am no longer trapped in my father's home. I am safe.
I whisper those three little words over and over as I climb to my feet and straighten out my nightgown. I take even measured steps to keep my heartbeat down before opening my door to find the tall chocolate-skinned human I met at breakfast.
"Hey Fiadh, right," she says, and I nod as my fingers tighten on the door.
"I wanted to stop by and see if you would like to get to know one another. Two of the other girls are hanging out tonight, and Xiu isn't interested in making friends," She says with an eyeroll that makes me grin a little.
I nod and open my door a little more so she can come in.
"Why do you have all the lights turned off? Were you trying to sleep? I'm sorry if you were, I could go," she says as she stops inside the door.
I shake my head and point to the window.
"I was window watching. My last room didn't have one," I whisper, and she looks at me curiously for a second before nodding.
"This place is beautiful, isn't it," she says as she walks back to my window seat.
I follow and grin as I nod.
"Very pretty," I whisper, and she gives ne a smile.
"You don't talk much, do you," she asks, and I freeze.
My eyes drop to the ground, and I shake my head. The horrific memories of my life begin to fill my mind, and I start to tremble.
Father forbid me from speaking in his presence years ago. I was told if he heard my voice, he would beat me until I couldn't walk. He chose that as my punishment after I tried to say something to him and coughed blood on his shirt. From that point on, I was as quiet as a mouse.
"Hey, I'm sorry," she says quickly before placing a hand on my shoulder.
I flinch a little, but soon, the gentle warmth of her palm makes me look up.
"You are safe. I would never let anyone hurt you," she says with a kind smile, and my eyes widen as this stranger pledges to protect me.
"You don't know me," I whisper, and her smile grows sad.
"I can recognize when a person needs a little protection. Trust me, Fiadh, when I am around, I have your back," She replies, and my mind explodes as a million thoughts rush through my brain.
"Thank you," I whisper after a few silent seconds, and she nods.
We both sit down on the window seal, and she smiles as she looks down at the strange world we are on.
"It's so colorful. It almost hurts your eyes, doesn't it," she asks, and I grin while nodding.
"I want a mate from a calm planet with basic colored vegetation," she says, and I giggle a little, which makes her eyes twinkle.
I point toward the sky as another shooting star zooms past, and she gasps a little before laughing.
"It's so beautiful out here. It really shows how small Earth is," she says lowly as she looks at the sky.
I nod and pull my knees to my chest. I have always felt small and secluded. I didn't need to come to space to feel that way. That has been every moment of my life.
"What kind of male do you hope for," She asks after a few silent moments and my eyebrows furrow as I force myself to think about the Harvest and what it means for me.
I look at her to find her watching me intently. I blush and look down at the blanket for a second to collect my thoughts. I have never thought about a man sexually looking at me. Or vice versa. Males have been the bane of my existence. They have hated me, and I have feared them.
"Someone nice...Someone who won't hit me or hurt me in any way. Someone who will protect me against the world. Or I guess worlds," I suddenly declare as my dream man begins to appear in my mind.
"I don't care about his looks...or his coloring. I just want someone loving and sweet," I finish before looking at Zuri, who has tears in her eyes.
She clears her through and looks away quickly.
"Well...umm. Yeah, that sounds good," she says, and I laugh lightly.
"Sorry," I whisper, and she shakes her head.
She looks at me cautiously, and I can practically see the questions forming in her mind.
Unlike earlier with Krystal, I feel comfortable. I'm not worried about Zuri's questions. She seems genuine and caring. I think I am ready to answer her questions. I think I want a friend. I want to tell my story. My mom's story.
"Who hurt you," she asks, and I stiffen a little even though I was prepared.
I lick my lips and give her a tiny smile before taking a deep breath.
"My father mostly, but my brothers would occasionally join him. My father hates women. He married my mother to have sons. He abused her regularly, but as far as I know, it wasn't terrible until...Well, He received two sons before my mother gave birth to me. My birth was her doom. She loved me...She protected me as best as she could. She freed me in the end, and I am sure it cost her...He wouldn't have let her live after finding me gone. He wanted her to see me die. He spoke about that constantly," I whisper as silent tears trail down my cheeks.
I look at Zuri, and she shakes her head as if to clear her mind.
"My God," Zuri whispers, and I can instantly tell my story has hit her hard.
She has tears on her face, and her hands are clenched in fists. She looks angry and sad about my answer. I am glad someone else knows about his evil. It feels comforting. I have an ally...a friend. I wish my mom had found a partner and or friend. Maybe she could have been saved like I was.
"I hate him," Zuri declares loudly after another second, and I laugh, which catches her off guard.
"I hate him too," I reply, and she smiles while wiping her face.
"Good. Well, you deserve the nicest guy at the tournament. I will help you find a prince. You deserve it," Zuri states in a matter fact tone that makes me giggle.
"Thank you," I reply, and she pats my knee.
"I wish I could travel back to Earth to teach your father a lesson. Maybe we can find you a guy that will do that for you," she says with a distant look in her eye that makes me laugh again.
"Maybe, but I hate violence. I would prefer to just act like he never existed. My whole past life never existed...That is what I want," I explain, and she nods.
"I understand. I won't bring it up again, then. It never happened...Thank you for trusting me and sharing such personal information. You didn't have to, but your secret is safe with me. I will be your memory keeper so you can walk away from it forever," she says, and I smile harder than I ever have.
"Thank you, Zuri," I whisper, and she smiles.
"You seem happier," Jali says softly as she hands me another small book. I smile, and nod. I don't just seem happy. For once in my life I am happy. I am safe. No one has hit me. I have friends. I am allowed to read and learn. Everything is perfect. "What else would you like to know about the Harvest. It's only four days away," Jali says, and I shrug as I open my book. I haven't asked about the Harvest very much because whatever happens I don't have a choice in the matter. I am apart of an alien competition, and when it ends, a male will ask me to be his. "You don't have a single question," she asks, almost desperately, and I look at her. "If you had a choice, what planet would you want to live on," I ask, and she smiles. She sits down at the small table and leans forward excitedly. "During our training they have us tour the planets and get familiar with each planet's customs. I really enjoyed it. My favorite places were Shikaz, Glortinon, and Vaal. The planet
My breaths are coming out in short pants, and my legs won't stop pacing. I haven't been this scared in two weeks. "Fiadh," Jali says softly, but I still flinch. I twist the beautiful white fabric of my skirt even harder in my hand as I force myself to meet her worried eyes. "Meeting the females will be stressful, but do not forget you have four other women who will be standing beside you...including Zuri. She will protect you," Jali says, and I nod as a sliver of calm slips down my spine. She is right. My friends will be with me. They will be nervous too. We will be a team...Like mom and I were. "I don't like thinking about how outnumbered we are," I whisper, and Jali nods as she approaches me with a bottle of liquid. "This is a nice fragrance spray," Jali says, and I nod as she mists the front of my dress. "Think of each group as its own. Technically you all are equal. It will be planet vs. Planet in that room. Not everyone against the females from Earth," Jali says,
"Attention, after meeting with your next group, you may retire for thirty minutes. For the last switch, please listen up," the male Kea says, and the chatter around our table halts. The rest of the room falls silent also and I lift my eyes from my lap. I have been avoiding eye contact for the last two rounds. I am emotionally exhausted. Every group since the Froles has been pleasant, but I have never been exposed to this many people. I feel like my energy has been zapped away from me. I want to make friends. I really do, but I don't know how to interact yet and my anxiety makes me tired. The male Kea lists the names and colors just like he has this entire time and I breathe out a rather loud sigh of relief. This is the last group. Then I get to escape to my room and scrub my face. I get to curl up on my soft bed and read a beautiful book. I grin as my mind conjures up the image of my escape, but I quickly regain control. I don't want my friends thinking I dislike spending time
"We have to go back," I softly whine, and Jali nods while giggling. "Yes. If you had paid attention, you would have known that," Jali says, and I gaze at my bed longingly. I was hoping I could shower and jump into bed after meeting with the females. I completely forgot we were expected to eat dinner with the males. "I'm exhausted," I mumble as she fusses with my hair. She nods and dabs at my cheeks with something I can't see. "That's normal," she replies, matter-of-fact-like, and I groan. I am quickly realizing I can't get out of this. I am going to be stuck eating dinner with a whole bunch of guys. Males make me uncomfortable on a good day; then factor in my exhaustion, and this is a recipe for disaster. "But I'm not hungry. We had a bunch of finger foods while meeting the other women," I grumble, and she laughs. "While I am enjoying you showing more emotion, I can't excuse you from this. This is day one of the tournament, Fiadh. Everything must go according t
"The rest of the evening is all about enjoying each other's company and getting to know one another on a more intimate level. Have fun," the male Kea says, and I watch as the males begin to approach the females rather eagerly. Xia and Zuri get asked to dance almost immediately and disappear into the thick crowd. Jia and Krystal get asked next, and I start to get nervous. I don't find the idea of attempting to dance appealing, but I don't want to be left standing here, either. As I begin to chew on my bottom lip, I see something rather large out of the corner of my eye. I turn to see what it is, and I find a massive orange man looking at me with brown eyes. The fact that he was able to approach me so stealthy is rather alarming, but I try to keep the fear from showing on my face. I told Jali I would try, and I intend to uphold that promise. "Evening Fiadh of Earth, would you care to join me for a dance," he says, and I give him a forced grin before nodding. He offers me his elbow,
FIADH POV A small smile tugs at my lips as I watch the crowd of new pairs gets set. Everyone appears to be having a good time. There is no tension and no yelling. Most of the women are smiling, and none of the males seem to be in bad moods. I could really get used to this. "Good Evening, Fiadh of Earth. I was wondering if you would care to dance with me," a gentle male voice asks, and I turn to see a male from Glortinon. His striking appearance freezes the yes in my throat, so I just nod before taking his warm hand. When he positions us amongst the other couples, he moves his hands to my waist, and I blush. He is the most beautiful man I have ever seen. I can't believe I didn't spot him during dinner earlier. With his luminous yellow skin and white hair, he definitely stands out. "Thank you for agreeing to dance with me. My name is Terrax. Captain Terrax, that is. I heard you decline the offer from that champion from Frole last round. It surprised me. I don't think a
TERRAX POV "You dance beautifully," I say, and the stunning orange Kea in my arms smiles. "Thank you, Captain. I have taken dance lessons in preparation for the Harvest," she says in a soft voice, and I nod. I expected as much. Every one of my partners has been graceful and poised, all except the human. Fiadh...she has a natural rhythm but was as untrained as they come. "So, Captain, what are you looking for in a mate," she asks, drawing my attention back to her red eyes. "Someone with a kind heart and happy personality. I like the outdoors, so I want someone who is willing to be out of the house most of the time," I say, and she stares at me with a forced smile on her face. She nods to show she heard me, but I can tell from the look in her eyes she doesn't think that sounds appealing."What made you choose me for the final dance," she asks, poking to see how serious I am about this choice. I look away from her, and my eyes somehow land directly on the angel in white. Sh
FIADH POVI lean against my door as my heart thumps wildly in my chest.I can't believe I just accepted a man wanting me. He is so beautiful, and he wants me. He is sweet, and I feel like he is someone I could actually fall in love with. At no time did he make me feel scared or insignificant."Wow," I breathe as I look at the hand he kissed.The memory of how soft his lips felt seems to be imprinted on my knuckle, and I can't help but yearn for more. Before I can question myself, I bring my hand toward my face. I kiss the exact spot he did, and giddiness instantly feels my stomach. I smile and cradle my hand to my chest as if it is a unique treasure. Tonight has been more special than I ever thought it could be. Something new has been unlocked within me, and I never want it imprisoned again.I walk to my bathroom and begin removing my beautiful white dress. I wash my face and brush out my hair with a smile the entire time. Terrax has given me something to be excited for, and I don't s