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Resisting Maxu: Chapter 6

Saying the last two weeks had been a whirlwind was not a strong enough word in Meg’s opinion. Seven cities in fourteen days and she was exhausted.

The second city they’d stopped at had turned out to be the one other city she’d visited before, Sauven. Though slightly disappointing, it had been interesting to visit the massive palace treehouse and reconnect with a few friends from the city.

They’d then spent the next week touring fabric factories in Linadety, sweating their asses off in the desert city of Mithrandir, and admiring the gold-flecked rock of the Tygestian Mountains.

A highlight of the trip for Meg had been their stop in the farming city of Gulaid. Massive skyscrapers used to vertically grow enough food for the whole continent dominated the otherwise flat landscape. The Gulaidites were a friendly people, intent on feeding their visitors unbelievable foods every moment of the day. Meg guessed she’d gained about ten pounds during her two-day visit, and every single ounce had been worth it. She’d already decided a longer, more leisurely trip needed to be taken if only to visit a few more of the world-renowned restaurants in the city.

Currently, she was recovering with the rest of her traveling companions in a large, round hearth room on one of the icy islands of Kitibard. They’d been here for two days now and were set to leave the next morning.

Early in the trip, the group had been boisterous during their few hours of downtime each night, chatting incessantly about the city they were in. But as the days had gone on and the go, go, go of their schedules had started to wear on them, the mood at the end of the night had become more relaxed. Tonight, though, the energy of her friends slumped on hard cushions around the fire was withdrawn.

“Leaving in twenty minutes,” Nirato announced, earning him a chorus of groans.

“Can’t we skip the party just this once? We went yesterday, and I’m not recovered yet.” Camille moaned as she stretched to reach for a glass of water set just a little too far out of the way.

“No,” he said simply.

Meg released a sigh and let her head drop back against the hard upholstered wall.

Though the mountainous charcoal landscape of Kitibard was breathtaking in a rather ominous way, this city had been her least favorite by far.

Their arrival had somehow been leaked, and by the time they’d arrived on the island, three times as many people as they were used to had swarmed the interview space. It hadn’t helped that the people of Kitibard were as cold as the frozen ground either.

The Clecanians’ questions were normally intrusive and direct, but the Kitibardians took it a step further with their harsh tones and unsmiling faces. One woman with fine white hair covering her pale body had almost brought Sophia to tears, finding her answer to How many tysentrics into the surrounding universe have Earthlings traveled? to be lacking.

Malinu and Kel, the Tremantian representatives, had tried to intervene and help answer the scientific question, but the Kitibardian women, in particular, were less inclined to listen to the two men than they were to the collection of humans before them.

Sophia sat with her third cup of a warm drink made from pressed root vegetables that Tara had wisely spiked as soon as they’d returned to the small sanctuary of their housing. “I’m not sure I want to show my face tonight after that interview,” she sniffed. “They all looked at me like I was a complete moron.”

“You were perfect. Fuck them,” Camille assured, finally stretching far enough to nab the rim of her glass with a finger.

“Yeah,” Tara agreed. “What did they expect? You’re literally from a Class Four planet. By definition, we don’t know what a tryptoglyph is or what it measures. It was stupid of that woman to think we would.”

As if on cue, Meg felt Daunet shift next to her. She tried to hide her grin by pretending to scratch her cheek. Supposedly, Daunet was Meg’s guard, but after spending two weeks together with all the humans, Meg had noticed Daunet watching Tara far more often than she watched Meg.

“A tysentric,” Daunet corrected, gazing at Tara across the room.

Meg raised her arms in a stretch, subtly nudging Daunet with an elbow as she cushioned the back of her skull with her palms. “Smooth,” Meg said low enough that only her guard could hear. Daunet’s exhale of annoyance had Meg biting her lip to keep her grin from showing.

Daunet added in a rush, “Though you’re right. I barely know what the distance of a tysentric is. It was unfair to think any of you would.”

Tara gave her a grateful grin. “See?” she said to Sophia. “It was a terrible question.”

Meg shot Daunet, who’d begun fidgeting at Tara’s smile, a glance. Her tight jaw and unblinking stare straight ahead told her Daunet wanted to look anywhere but at her in that moment.

The interview portion of each city’s visit wasn’t Meg’s favorite thing either, but she’d gotten better at it and felt more confident in her answers. It was mainly due to the fact that most people asked the same questions. They all wanted to know about human relationships and how the humans believed Earth would react when they learned they weren’t alone in the universe.

And always, always, one specific question would be asked by an eager man in the crowd. “What do females who prefer males look for in a partner?”

This question had landed on Meg three times now, and she always had the same response. “I can’t answer for all women, but I can tell you what I look for. I want a man who treats me like a goddess.”

She always grinned when she said this, so the audience knew she wasn’t being completely serious. But a part of her was serious. She’d been ignored and made to feel less than for so long that the only way she could see herself settling down again would be with a man who treated her like the sun shone out of her ass.

“I think this is the first time I’m not looking forward to the party,” Meg chimed in, staring down at the furry white collar of the comfortable suit she’d been given to wear tonight. It wasn’t ugly by any stretch, but it didn’t feel like her. It was large and shapeless. On a six-foot-tall model who had the innate ability to make anything look good, it would be fabulous, but on her? She looked like a fluffball who’d just fallen out of a knotted bit of Yeti fur.

“Can you believe that guy who asked about how to find women who wanted the most children?” Lucy said with a raised brow. “I mean, I know there’s a population crisis here, but Jesus. It’s like he was looking for a broodmare, and he just would not let it go.”

Meg giggled along with the other people in the room. Uthen, Camille’s personal guard, slung an ankle over his knee and grinned. “Looking for females who want many children isn’t an uncommon kink,” he said without any show of discomfort.

Most of the Clecanians she’d met talked about things like sexual preferences and kinks as if they were talking about favorite soda brands. She wanted to be that comfortable talking about those topics, too, and was attempting to do it more often so it would feel easier, but her damned cheeks burned at Uthen’s words all the same.

Lucy pursed her lips and shook her head. “Well, he ain’t looking for me, then.”

“Or me,” Tara said, gathering her dirty blonde hair into a high, messy bun.

“I bet there are people here who have dispositions we’ve never even imagined back on Earth.” Rita, a dreamy older woman who never seemed to have a care in the world, added in her smooth voice. “With all the repression going on, sexual and emotional, I can only imagine what your heads have dreamed up. Marvelous,” she added with a grin. Rita was the only one among the group to have a permanent Clecanian partner back in Tremanta, and as her gaze grew far away, Meg was sure Rita was thinking of something very specific and very personal.

“I think you’re right, Rita, but I also think that it’s crazy how everyone is so open about sex, yet they act like kissing is the most perverted kink of all,” Sophia said, brushing her fingers through her thick bangs.

“Very true,” Tara nodded.

Meg cleared her throat. “But it would be interesting to kiss someone who’s never done it before, right? I mean, surely not all Clecanian’s think it’s gross. What do you think, Daunet?”

Daunet’s head turned to meet Meg’s innocent gaze. To anyone else, Daunet’s impassive stare would seem innocuous, but Meg was sure that if Daunet could have figured out a reasonable excuse for whacking her with a pillow, she would.

She grinned back at Meg. “I’m not sure. How did it go for you when you tried?”

Meg’s grin dissolved in an instant.

A chorus of “whats” echoed from around the room. Daunet tipped her head and furrowed her brows as if to say, Oops. Was that a secret?

Meg turned to the group and waved it off. “It was just a peck. I’m sure I could do better with a little more time and a little less cockblocking from my guard here.”

“What is cockblocking?” Heleax asked from behind them suddenly. He’d been absorbed in a conversation with Gamso, Atolicy, and Nirato, but all the male guards had paused and were staring.

“It means she was ready to take that guy home, but Daunet stepped in and prevented it from happening,” Sophia explained with a smirk and a slight slur.

“Nonsense!” Daunet’s voice was a few octaves too high. She cleared her throat. “She could have brought him back to her room. I only told her it was time to leave. As you all know, you’re welcome to invite anyone you’d like to join you here as long as you clear it with us, but you can’t go off to some unsecured location by yourself.”

Meg was about to argue, even though she knew she’d scurried away from Zeleph like a scared puppy, but Gamso cut in, “Well, in terms of kissing, I would like to point out that most Clecanians are very open to experimentation. It may not be everyone’s preference, but I wouldn’t be shy about requesting it.” The man paced around the perimeter of the room like a damn anxious dog. He did it wherever they went and at first, it had driven the humans crazy, but after a while, they’d gotten used to it.

“Is that an invitation, Gamso?” Lucy grinned and leaned forward, elbows resting on her knees, chin resting in her hands. When Gamso slowly turned to her, she shot him a wink. He faced forward again, pacing a little faster than he had before, a slight blush creeping into his cheeks.

Camille gently shoved Lucy’s shoulder. “Stop it. You know your flirting makes him uncomfortable.”

“I think he likes it,” Lucy said when Gamso’s gaze flitted back to her. “Besides, humans flirt. Meg flirts too,” she said defensively, gesturing to Meg.

It was true. She did flirt in each city, and for the most part, she enjoyed it. The problem was she hadn’t met anyone she was drawn to, or at least no one she liked enough to want to take back to her room, despite the almost constant ache she had between her legs. Night after night she’d make herself come, all while imagining rough hands squeezing and scraping their way over her skin.

You’d think for a girl who could barely keep her mind off sex, she’d be able to find even one guy that caused a pulse of heat between her legs, but no. No one in the room knew this—not even Daunet—but she’d tried to kiss another man back in Tygest.

She’d pulled him into a dark alcove, pressed her body to his muscular one, and kissed him. It’d gone better than it had with Zeleph. The man had at least understood what she’d been trying to do and attempted to kiss her back. He’d actually been pretty good at it after a few minutes of practice. But she’d barely felt a flicker. Weeks of flirting, yet despite all her efforts her vagina remained frustratingly unimpressed.

“I’m just doing what I was brought here to do. Teaching our culture. Lots of women flirt,” Lucy continued. She caught Heleax side-eyeing her from his chair perched by the window and wiggled her fingers at him.

Heleax didn’t turn away with a blush like Gamso. He slid his body on the chair until he was facing her fully. “You should know by now that in our culture, many will follow through when a female flirts.”

Lucy straightened a bit. His tone wasn’t playful, but it wasn’t angry either. “Promises, promises,” she muttered into her glass.


A few hours later, Meg was ready to go back to her room to hide. For the second night in a row, Kitibardians and eager citizens of neighboring cities alike had stuffed themselves into a grand hall located in one of the city’s many giant ancient ice tubes. As soon as the humans had arrived they were jostled into waiting groups, who growled questions at them.

Normally, Daunet hung back, keeping a watchful eye but giving Meg space to socialize. But not tonight. She’d been attached to Meg’s hip from the moment they’d walked in, and Meg was happy for it.

“What do you mean, none of your people have fur? What about the ones who live in cold climates? Are there only bald humans to choose from?” a man who hadn’t bothered to give his name asked. He was quite handsome, the short white fur covering his muscled body only enhanced his alien hotness. But his brash attitude completely obliterated Meg’s initial impulse to snuggle into his cozy chest.

“I told you,” she said with a slur and as much politeness as she could manage in her intoxicated state. “We have hair. It’s just not as thick as yours. Some people have thicker body hair, but not a ton more. It’s not like Clecania. We all look pretty much the same.”

“Where is your hair?” he grumbled. The woman next to him angled her head to peek down the front of Meg’s shirt as if expecting to find her chest hairy, and Meg took a clumsy step away.

“I’ve removed it,” she grated. Despite the intention of her scowl, both the man and woman seemed to perk up. Apparently being bitchy was the equivalent of blowing a kiss in this city.

In a different situation, on a different day, Meg might find these people interesting. She might even enjoy donning the bratty attitude that was the cultural standard, but she was tired. She peered around at the other humans she could spot in the crowd and recognized the tight-lipped expressions of fatigue and irritation on their faces too.

All except for Rita, that was. Meg swore nothing ever fazed that woman. Currently, she was deep in conversation with a furious-looking gray-pelted woman.

“Come back to our rooms and show us.” As though she’d already accepted their invitation, the Kitibardian woman grabbed Meg’s wrist and pulled her along. The man swiveled toward the exit without a word as well.

“No!” she screeched with irritation. Meg rolled her eyes when her two suitors only looked confused. “I’m not going with you.” She tugged her wrist out of the woman’s hold and stumbled back into someone.

“Hey,” Lucy squeaked. She turned toward Meg, then stared around the group, instantly aware of the tension. “You okay?”

Meg gave her a shrug.

“Why won’t you come with us?” the man asked. “You’ve been speaking with us all night. You’ve made your interest clear.”

Daunet’s posture was tight, poised to strike, but the two weren’t doing anything other than being pushy, which all the humans had known to expect.

Meg gaped at them. “No…I…I was being polite.”

The couple glanced at each other, then the man peered at Meg again. “But you are attracted to me. I’ve seen you admire my fur. I’ll bring you back on my own, then.” His hand extended toward her, and she jumped back again.

Heat rose to her cheeks, words failing her. She turned to Daunet, pleading without words for help. Daunet gave her a funny look, furrowing her brows as if she didn’t understand. Meg leveled the same look on Lucy, and in less than an instant, Lucy’s blue eyes hardened.

“Sorry. She’s not interested,” Lucy snapped, pulling her away from the group without another word.

Meg’s gut churned. Everything in her wanted to turn around and apologize. It was rude to just walk away from someone like that, but…but no, it wasn’t. She’d told them no, and they’d ignored her.

“Can you believe—”

A new man with blinding white fur stepped in front of them, blocking their path. “Hello. I saw you were interested in Nuphan, but he failed. I’ll please you tonight instead.” He turned to Lucy, his frown never altering, “Or you.”

Lucy and Meg exchanged bewildered looks.

Daunet appeared, pressing a hand to the man’s chest and forcing him back a step. Rather than speaking to him, though, she spoke to Lucy and Meg. “Remember, this is how courting works here. They say what they will do, they don’t ask. Be firm if you aren’t interested. Hit him.”

The alcohol in her system made a laugh bubble out of her. She eyed the man, who hadn’t even blinked at Daunet’s advice. He wasn’t much taller than a normal human, but he was broader, denser, and outfitted with claws that could turn a block of ice into a snow cone.

Lucy leaned close to Daunet. “You want me to hit—”


“I’m getting really tired of being interrupted.” Lucy hissed.

The man from before, Nuphan, was in front of them again. “If it’s a matter of attraction, I’m sure I could see past your baldness.”

The other man scowled. “I don’t mind your baldness, female.”

“I’m not interested!” Meg clutched her head as it began to spin. The crowd in the room was pressing in on her. The atmosphere was too heavy, and no matter which way they turned, the intense heat of a hundred muscular hairy people made the air thick and warm.

“I know,” Nuphan said, brightening. “We’ll fight, and you’ll be enticed again.” Without waiting for her response, he squared off with the other man.

Another Kitibardian spun from the table he was seated at. “If a selection brawl is occurring, I’d like to enter as well.”

“Stop! She doesn’t want anyone,” Lucy yelled.

“Why?” Nuphan said. Ridiculously enough, he looked sincerely confused.

“Because…because…” Lucy glanced around, brain whirring behind her pretty blue eyes.

Meg balled her fist. She supposed there were worse things than hitting someone and breaking her damn wrist to get out of this bizarre situation.

Lucy blurted, “Because she’s already been recognized.”

The scowls vanished from all three men’s faces, and silence settled for a moment.

“Isn’t that right, Meg,” Lucy urged with a bump of her hip.

“Yeah? Yeah!” She nodded finally. “He… My potential mate’s eyes changed right before we left Tremanta. We expect his marks to appear when I get back, but I’d already agreed to this trip, so…” Meg swayed a little on her feet as she scrambled to think up the lie. She described a broody, dark-haired man to the rapt group around her, embellishing little details about his imaginary appearance here and there.

A shout of pain echoed from across the room, and all eyes turned. Heleax appeared through the crowd, escorting Sophia, who cradled her fist against her chest.

“It’s time to go,” Daunet said from her left. Meg turned and withered at her guard’s icy stare.


“I can’t believe you said that,” Daunet fumed while stomping down the deserted hallway.

“It’s not like you were helping! I panicked. And, news flash, it worked. Did you see how quickly they left her alone after that? They even apologized,” Lucy argued.

“Daunet, she’s right,” Nirato agreed. “The Kitibardians are normally forward, but I’ve never seen them like that. They weren’t listening.”

“Why didn’t you hit them?” Daunet’s glare flashed to Meg.

Meg crossed her arms over her chest. “I’ve never hit anyone before, and did you see them? They were made of rock. Sophia freaking broke her hand trying to hit them.”

“Besides they were so desperate to see signs where there weren’t any, they would have probably seen her punch as a come-on,” Lucy added.

“No more from you today,” Daunet snapped.

They reached Meg’s room, and Nirato urged Lucy to keep walking forward, though her glower said she wasn’t happy about it.

Once they were out of earshot, Daunet slid her eyes closed and took a deep breath.

“Look, I’m sorry, but we were frustrated and tired, okay? We’ve been adapting to a new culture every two days with no breaks, and I think, apart from this, I’ve done a pretty good job. We finally ran out of steam tonight, and so we told them something we knew would get them to back off. You can’t hold it against us.”

The woman eyed her for a moment with a clenched jaw.

Meg could see her softening. “Would you really have liked to see me punch that guy? I’m guessing I would have succeeded in knocking myself over.”

“With how much you drank, I’m guessing it’s more likely you would’ve missed.” A tight smile threatened to break over Daunet’s lips, then she let out a long sigh. “Next time, just tell me you are overwhelmed. I could’ve stepped in for you if I thought you couldn’t do it on your own.”

Relief had her shoulders relaxing on an exhale. “I did tell you! I gave you the look.” Meg activated her room’s lock and shuffled inside.

“The look? What look?”

“You know. The girl-code look that says, Help. I’m really uncomfortable, and I need you to come rescue me.”

Daunet’s head jerked back slightly. “You never gave me a look like that.”

“Oh, yes, I did.” Meg laughed. “Remember?” She imitated the wild-eyed nonverbal message she’d sent to both Daunet and Lucy earlier.

“That?” Daunet all but shouted. “That doesn’t say anything.”

“It does to human women.” This was the first time Meg had ever had the opportunity to use the silent SOS call, yet Lucy had understood it no problem.

Daunet waved her off. “I’ll see you in the morning.” But Meg noticed she wasn’t walking toward her room.

“And where are we headed?”

Without turning, Daunet answered, “I’m going to make sure no other humans are opening their eyes slightly more widely than normal.”

“Uh-huh. Sure. Tell Tara I said hi.”


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