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Freeing Luka: Chapter 23

Luka gazed down at his mate while she slept. The female who loved him. He still couldn’t believe his good fortune. Alice was more than he could’ve ever dreamed her to be. She cared about everyone and everything. When he was with her, he felt he could finally exhale. She allowed him to be himself. Hell, she allowed him to discover himself. He’d been fixated on work and achievement his whole life, but with her he’d rediscovered facets of his personality he’d forgotten he had.

He enjoyed being playful and teasing her. He liked that she argued with him and challenged his domineering instincts. She allowed the Traxian side of him that ached to keep her close and safe to surge to the foreground when they had sex. She’d fight tooth and nail for what she believed in, but once in the bedroom, she’d submit so sweetly. He’d never felt so free. She saw him for all that he was and loved him anyway.

The corner of his mouth lifted in a smile as he recalled her tearful declaration the day before. He’d never met a female who showed her emotions so readily.

Frowning, he thought once more about his people. He knew Tremantian females didn’t show their emotions—not because they didn’t have them, but because forming strong attachments to the males they married and the children they bore would only result in their own heartbreak. Humans may be the key to saving their species, but how long would it be before they could be transported here lawfully?

His heart ached for the males and females of his planet. How many would never experience the love he felt for Alice? How many would never rest easy, knowing the one they loved wouldn’t leave them as a result of their twisted honor?

It was only a matter of time before it was discovered that humans could be mated and could reproduce. Once that happened, their people would be divided. Some would call for humans to be transported by the droves whether they agreed or not. Others would oppose, seeing the unwilling transport of a Class 4 species immoral and unethical.

What side would he take? On the one hand, an influx of humans would take the pressure off Clecanian females. He knew his sister, for one, would return to her children in an instant.

Across Clecania, courting rituals, traditions, and laws were very different, but one thing was constant. Females were expected to be strong. They were taught to hold their heads high and expand the gene pool by reproducing with many.

There was no easy answer. For now, he’d continue his work. They couldn’t count on humans to fix everything. Although he bristled at the thought of leaving her and returning to work, he knew he must. There would be many dark days ahead, but the difficulties they’d been facing for decades hadn’t disappeared.

He gazed into the fire, feeling a weight settle over him. How could he keep her safe when their world was on the brink of an implosion?

Earlier, Alice had convinced him to layout a makeshift bed in front of the fire. He’d done as she directed without complaint. The power she held over him was comical. With a touch of her hand and a soft smile, he’d been tripping over himself to do her bidding. They’d spent hours sitting here while he taught her to read using the stories of the matings he’d collected over the years.

Her interest in the mated couples served as a great motivator. She became so invested in learning their stories that she’d picked up the language much more quickly than he’d anticipated.

He sat back, his mind drifting to yet another problem. How would he accomplish the seemingly impossible task of helping her friend without breaking any laws? He needed her to stowaway aboard a ship that made long journeys. One whose captain was honorable, but also didn’t mind breaking laws for the right price.

The image of a male slowly formed in his mind, and he grinned. I know just the person for the job.

Alice turned in her sleep, her blanket falling and exposing her side. He ran his knuckles along the gentle curve of her waist and hip. His cock stirred to think how she might repay him if he found a way to help her friend.


Alice woke with a shiver, though her skin was warm from the sizzling fire. Cracking her eyes open, she rolled onto her back and found Luka’s devastating face looming above her, his fingers ghosting over her exposed skin.

“What time is it?” She arched her back, stretching her hands above her.

When she tried to lower her arms again, Luka shot a hand out, holding them above her head. She relaxed, letting him run his knuckles lazily over her body.

He circled her navel then trailed his fingers up her ribs and around the underside of her breasts. “Night,” he answered, gaze fixed on her quickly hardening nipples.

“Are you talking to me or my breasts?” she joked, trying to shift her body away from his maddening caress.

He shot her a lopsided grin. “If I were talking to your breasts, I’d address them with more deference.”

A deep belly laugh rolled through her. “Is that right?”

Her laughter stalled when he leaned down and breathed hot air onto each nipple. “Indeed. While the female they’re attached to tests my patience daily, they’ve been nothing but welcoming.”

“You’re such a weirdo,” she teased.

His mouth was poised just over her nipple when a loud growl from her stomach broke the silence. He moved away groaning. “We’ll finish this later.”

Alice had to stop herself from rubbing her breasts after he finally released her wrists and stood. Luka’s mix of goofiness and sex appeal made him a force to be reckoned with.

Rolling onto her stomach, she watched him walk away. His firm ass flexed as he stepped over discarded books. Inserting her forefinger and thumb into her mouth, she whistled loudly.

He wheeled around, eyes wide and brows raised.

Resting her chin on her palm, she made her face serious. “I was addressing your ass, sir. Please, continue on your way.”

Slapping his own ass on the way and making her dissolve into laughter once again, he crossed to the kitchen.

Still chuckling, she found his discarded shirt and slipped it on. Her own blue dress lay torn and abandoned near the front door.

Surveying the room, she lifted her hands in exasperation. “How can you tell what time of day it is without any windows? It’s going to be hard for me to adjust to never looking outside if I live here.” She glanced at her hand clock. It took her a moment to decipher the symbols, but it was becoming easier each day. She tilted herself as a realization hit her. This was the first time she’d checked her clock in days. Knowing the time never seemed to matter when she was with Luka.

Alice felt warmth spread through her belly, and she grinned like a fool.

He cocked his head as she approached, his gaze sweeping the room. “There are windows.” Pointing an oddly shaped cooking utensil to the wall running the length of the room, he said, “That wall has windows. I just keep them covered.”

Her jaw slackened. “There have been windows here this whole time?” she blurted in exasperation.

Chuckling, he moved to a control panel hidden behind a large stack of books. Before her eyes, the entire wall began to lift and disappear into the ceiling through a gap large enough to accommodate the width of the panel, as well as the many pictures and papers attached to it.

“That wall has windows” was an understatement. The entire length of the room appeared to be nothing but curved glass. Alice’s eyes widened further and further as each inch of the illuminated city was revealed.

Mouth hanging open, she approached the expansive view. The sky was midnight-blue, and although light shone brightly from the city, more stars than she’d ever seen were visible. Dozens of buildings, in the form of swirling spires, rose high into the sky. They reminded her of the twisting manta trunks.

In all the cities she’d been to on Earth, lights dotted the skyscrapers, a result of some interior rooms being lit but not others. Looking out, she saw no spattering of illumination. Rather, the entirety of the silver spires glowed brightly, the same color as the moon.

Wait. Her eyes narrowed, and she studied the larger of the two moons. Is that a ring?

To her eyes, it appeared the pale, glowing moon had a shimmering band around the middle, too defined to be natural.

Alice was so entranced that she didn’t notice Luka approach until he wrapped his arms around her. Planting a kiss on top of her head, he murmured, “What do you think?”

“Is there something on that moon? And how do the buildings glow like that?” she asked in a hushed tone.

“Yes, there are solar panels on Gui, our closest moon. They capture and beam the energy to receivers in conversion facilities. Most of our buildings capture solar and lunar energy, as well. That’s what makes them glow. The energy is used to power the building.”

Alice’s eyes remained glued upward, taking in the odd sight of not one but two moons. “On Earth, there’s only one moon.”

Luka turned her in his arms. She saw worry flash in his eyes before it was quickly concealed. “Do you miss Earth?”

Alice pondered the question for a moment. “I miss the familiarity sometimes. Smelling my favorite food and feeling warm inside. Saying hello to my neighbor, Mr. Bower. Sitting on my small apartment balcony in the morning to drink my coffee.”

Luka’s features grew taut, and his head dipped.

“But…” she continued, lifting his chin. “I’m excited to start experiencing those things here. How many people can say they were able to discover a whole new world? I know what I like on Earth, and now I get to learn what I like here. There’s also one thing Clecania has that Earth never will.”

Luka grinned down at her, his chest puffing. “And what’s that?”

Rising up to give him a kiss, she waited until their mouths were only a breath away before whispering, “A second moon.”

A bark of laughter exploded from him and rang through the room. Using his shoulders, she jumped as high as she could and wrapped her legs around his waist. He caught her easily, then leaned her against the window.

Planting a soft kiss on his lips, she sighed. “Also, you.”

They gazed at each other for a moment, smiling like loons. A soft ping emanated from the kitchen, and Luka’s face fell. Lowering her to the ground, they both turned toward the sound of a second ping and froze.

The communicator Verakko had given her was ringing. Alice felt her stomach churn and the blood drain from her face.

It’s time.


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