I wanted to share with you the first chapter of the sequel to HEALING TOUCH, titled FOREVER HOME. This book is Ledger Atwater's story in the Destination Lost series. It's been a few months since he was separated from Noah and Charlie, the other survivors. Here's where we catch up with him...
Ledger Atwater grunted as he gripped the sides of the square, metal table. “That’s the last one,” he said, though he knew no one understood him. It was obvious anyway, since each little bundle had been tethered together and that one had nothing but string on the end of it.
His first stint as a drug mule in outer space was over.
His ass throbbing, he rested his elbows on the table and his head in his hands, staying bent over the table. No one seemed to give a damn about him now. He still had his eyes closed, but he could tell they were behind him inspecting their product. He was assuming it was drugs. Since they were aliens it could, technically, be any damn thing, but drugs made the most sense to him. Humans did it on Earth, so why not aliens on alien planets?
The talking got louder, became yelling. Hell. What now? Ledger didn’t move until somebody groped his butt.
“Hey!” He straightened up fast and went to turn, but his pants were still around his ankles. All he really did was flip himself onto his ass on the dirt floor. “Ow. Fucking ow.”
Holding onto the table, he got back on his feet and pulled up his pants. He was woozy. Had to still be under the influence of whatever that little bastard had given him to knock him out so he could shove all those drug bundles up his innocent ass.
Ledger snorted. Well, his ass wasn’t that innocent, but he sure wouldn’t be letting anyone back there for a long damn time now that he’d shit out twenty-five spicy rocks the size of ripe cherries. His hole had a goddamned heartbeat.
It took him some time to steady himself, plant his feet, and then draw his cheap, almost paper-like pants up to his waist. While he did that, he kept an eye on the aliens having the argument. Over what, he didn’t know, but it seemed like maybe it involved him.
There was the spindly, green son of a bitch who smelled like dirty socks in one corner. Stinky kept pointing at Ledger every time he said something. In the other corner was the brackish-colored little bastard who’d turned Ledger into a drug mule. Pukey had the worst halitosis Ledger had ever gaged over and kept slashing at the air in Ledger’s general direction every time Stinky pointed.
Oh, goddamn. They were fighting over who got to keep him.
And then the weapons came out.
“Now listen, guys,” Ledger said with his hands up. “I’m sure we can come to some kind of agreement.” But, of course, no one listened to him.
Suddenly, there was a sonic boom of a sound, and Ledger went flying. He might’ve ridden the upside-down table for a second there as he sailed across the room. The ground met him fast and hard and there was a definite ringing in his ears. He stayed still, waiting for the pain, but there wasn’t much. Some aches, a banged knee, and his butt’s heartbeat, but otherwise, he felt mostly okay. Lifting his arm, he swept his long, black hair up and back, out of his face, so he could peer around the eerily quiet room.
Oh, not really quiet since he could see people swarming in through the door in tactical formation and each one of them had their mouths open like they were shouting orders. He just couldn’t hear them over the ringing. Not that he needed to hear them. He got the message easily enough. Fingers laced on top of his head, Ledger stayed on his knees in the dirt and waited.
He’d thought of this new batch as people instead of aliens because they looked like a bunch of Humans dyed blue. But they had to be aliens. He might not have a clue what planet he was on this time, but he was certain he hadn’t managed to find himself in some Human colony on the other side of the universe. He hadn’t been conscious when he’d arrived, so he hadn’t seen anything outside yet, but so far he’d been pretty unique everywhere else. He shared characteristics here and there, but nobody was altogether Human. Except him.
Eventually, a couple of these new guys—officers?—came over and got Ledger on his feet. He didn’t struggle, didn’t try to talk, just walked between them out of the room and into blinding sunlight.
That ticked him off. Finally outside somewhere on a goddamned alien planet and he has to walk around with his hands shielding his watery and squinting eyes, unable to see a single thing. Well, not much anyway. Though the road was dirt like inside that room had been, the buildings on either side of him were gray metal like the table. Modern stabbing into the primitive. But there was a lot of fucking glass and he kept getting shot in the brain with a bolt of sunshine.
Could light sensitivity be another side-effect of the anesthesia?
The walk was short, though, and his escorts stuffed him into a vehicle with tinted windows. He sat down on a comfortable bench seat and wiped at his eyes until he could look around again.
Okay, now he could look outside because the windows were tinted. A group of officers were out there surrounding Pukey, Stinky, and some of the others. With a gesture from one of the officers, the res— Oh my fuck. Ledger stared, horrified and stunned, as everyone who’d been in that room with him were gunned down.
Stinky’s head just up and exploded, purple blood and brain like a fog in the air. He fell to his knees, and then toppled over, more fluids gushing from his neck. Pukey tried to run, but he didn’t take more than a step before— Shit-fuck, those were some high caliber rounds because chunks of Pukey were ripping off and flying every which way. The rest of the aliens--
Ledger closed his eyes, turned his head. Bile rose up in his throat and he had to swallow convulsively to keep it down.
The vehicle started moving forward. The officers with him talked amongst themselves. One must’ve said a joke because the others laughed. Ledger didn’t move or speak and tried really hard not to think. Which didn’t work. All he had were questions—who were these guys? What they hell did they want with him? Did they think he still had the drugs?—and he definitely wasn’t asking any of that out loud. Not now.
Ledger watched out the window for anything that would help him understand what might be next or whether he should try to jump out. He wanted to run, but he was still rational enough to know he wouldn’t get far if they aimed one of their weapons at him. And he didn’t have a clue what to do if he could get away. Couldn’t speak the language, didn’t know the customs. What if these guys were the police? Doomed. So he quashed that urge to flee and stared out his window.
Every time they stopped, the aliens on the streets hid their faces, turned away, or walked fast in the other direction. Was that good or bad? Because maybe it meant he was in a bad part of town where every lowlife lived, or maybe he’d been rescued by the local mob.
Ledger tried to control his breathing.
Those aliens on the streets, though… A hell of a lot of them looked really Human. Lots of long, black hair, brown eyes, and skin tones that ranged from pale to deep tan. Features where he expected them, the usual number of arms, legs, hands, and feet… And the clothing was loose and flowing neutral shades with pops of color, metallic jewelry, sandals.
They couldn’t be Human. Could they?
Ledger gasped as the vehicle went over a bump and jostled everyone inside it. The guy beside him grunted and looked at him as they knocked together. His startlingly blue eyes blinked…sideways. Ledger looked away.
Moments later, they dipped down into a series of underground tunnels that seemed to lead to the basement level of the buildings above them. Lit by billions of colored lights that didn’t quite beat back the darkness, the place was like an underground Vegas with its multitude of strange-looking signs. The aliens down here were bustling from place to place and a lot less concerned with the vehicle passing them or the occupants either. Maybe they were tourists?
Maybe they were criminals.
Where the hell were these guys taking me?
He nearly smacked his face against the window when they suddenly stopped. They were in front of a place with windows ringed in yellow lights and a couple of aliens swayed back and forth behind the glass. A couple of the officers-slash-mob enforcers stopped to admire the view, while the other three encouraged Ledger out of the vehicle.
He stepped out on shaky legs and had to stop himself from swaying by hanging onto the door for a second. One of the guys took hold of his upper arm and walked him over to an unmarked door in a business front that was completely blacked out. Ledger wiped a sweaty hand across his sweatier brow.
Inside was an office. A stupid, simple office like the damn things were universal throughout the whole goddamned galaxy. Chairs, desks, horrible overhead lighting, and the drone of unintelligible voices. It was so freakishly normal, it made his heart race.
Well, until he noticed the staff were still alien as hell. Who knew that could make things better?
The guy gripping his arm stopped them in front of a chair and pushed Ledger down onto it. He sat, every muscle tense. Was it a good thing to be here instead of isolated? That alley hadn’t been a hub of activity, but it hadn’t been the middle of nowhere either. Somebody could still decide to put one of those bullets through his skull.
Somebody cupped the back of his head. He jerked, but they got a fistful off his hair. Now instinct told him to run for the fucking hills, but…then what? So he made himself sit there and let the hand relax again. He couldn’t see who it was—kept his gaze front and center—but all they did was hold onto his head. And warm him up? It felt…kind of good, actually.
He gasped and flinched when they let him go and walked around where he could see them.
A dolphin. The thought popped into his head immediately upon seeing the alien who’d touched him. Sleek, mottled gray, rubbery-looking skin, large eyes that were mostly black, not much of a nose… Alien land-dolphin.
They skirted around him and over to… Well, this alien looked decidedly female with gauzy, pastel clothing, an up-do of yellow cotton candy, and a mincing step on spindly legs. Sort of humanoid, but there was something off about that category. Ledger frowned, not able to pinpoint it. Maybe he just didn’t like the look of her smile.
The dolphin touched the back of the strange one’s head.
He’d had enough. “Alright, what’s going on?”
Ledger stared. This alien on another planet spoke English. How was that even possible? He didn’t fully grasp what about it pissed him off, but he was definitely angry. The fuck is going on?
He stood up. “How do you speak English?”
One delicate, almost white hand tipped toward the dolphin. “She learned it from you and passed it to me.” Her pronunciation was perfect.
Ledger stayed zeroed in on the dolphin. “How did you learn it from me?”
She kept her head down and shoulders hunched, not saying a word. Looked like she’d happily disappear if she could. He realized she only had one and a half arms, the stump dark gray and visible below the sleeve of her plain brown, sack-like dress. She was up on her bare toes, he feet long, like flippers.
“Focus,” the other one said.
Ledger glared at her as one of the officer-types brought over another chair. “I am, thanks,” Ledger said. “I want to know how she did that. Was it when she touched me?” Because aliens were one thing, but magical aliens?
The almost-human’s face puckered and she waved her hand. Apparently, that kind of dismissive gesture was universal to people everywhere because Ledger easily recognized it as a brush-off.
“Don’t give me that shit. I—”
Her expression hardened and she snapped, “Do you wish to discuss your situation or not?”
Ledger took a calming breath. Sure, he could let it slide and focus on the fact he had someone who understood him. Someone who could explain who everybody was and let him in on what was going on with them. There would be plenty of time to talk through details like magical abilities after he figured things out. Maybe he could get the dolphin-girl away from the bitch, see if she could download other languages into him. It’s a plan.
“Fine,” he said, “let’s talk.” He sat down again to hear her out.
Excerpt from FOREVER HOME: DESTINATION LOST BOOK 2
Copyright (c) 2017 Missy Welsh. All rights reserved.
Missy Welsh writes gay, bi, and trans erotic m/m romance short stories, novellas, and novels.