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Using Fejo: Epilogue

Fejo squeezed Vanessa’s hand, and his gaze caught on the blue markings curling over her fingers. The last three weeks had passed in a blur, but a highlight had been the surprise Vanessa had planned for him. Last week he’d burst through the door of their room, ready to bury his face between his beautiful mate’s thighs, but her coy, mischievous grin had made him pause in his tracks.

When she’d lifted her slightly swollen hands, his mind had blanked. Curling blue markings almost identical to his own, but thinner, ran over both her hands.

“I had Vrok tattoo them with a bottle of ink. Do you like them?” she’d asked, a slight vulnerability making her voice soft.

He’d raised his gaze to meet hers. Did he like them?

When his voice had remained buried under the immense pressure in his chest, she’d pursed her lips. “You’d better say you like them, ’cause tattoo technology doesn’t exist on this ship, and Vrok had to do this with a needle and it hurt like a motherfucker.”

The grin that had split his face had made his cheeks ache. He’d taken a step toward her and placed her hands in his, twining their fingers together and beaming at the matching marks. “I have pounds of jewelry hidden throughout the ship that I’d planned to give to you. But you’ve outdone me with an old bottle of dewasque ink.” He’d brushed a thumb over her cheek, and she’d leaned into his touch, forcing his chest to throb. “I now know what you meant when you said, It’s the thought that counts.”

Since then, Fejo had found it difficult not to run his finger along her markings every chance he could. Touching her helped to calm him when he remembered the feeling of almost losing her, which happened often.

But his beautiful mate was back in his arms now, and he’d never felt more grateful in his life. Once they’d stolen the Cae’s ship and sped away from Sielijia, Fejo had tapped into the Ylare using a special hack he’d planted long ago in case his precious ship was ever stolen.

Catching up had been simple after that. The Cae ship had the most advanced cloaking technology money could buy. His mood had darkened when he’d realized the tech had been installed to make trips to steal humans from Earth easier.

Luckily, when they’d found the Ylare, they’d also seen Klinara’s ship. They’d cut their way into her hull from below using a suctioning method he’d stolen from dreg pirates who’d robbed him in his early days.

As his crew had snuck through Klinara’s ship, cutting down guards when needed and incapacitating others when they could, his mind and soul had registered Vanessa nearby. He’d been ready to jump out of his skin, the joy at knowing she was alive and close more potent than any drug.

On their way to the Ylare, Uja had explained everything that had occurred after the Sieliji song played through his ship. His chest had burned and his throat had grown tight when he’d learned Vanessa had been unwilling to leave him behind, risking everything just to make sure he was safe.

At first, he’d been furious with Uja. His friend should’ve knocked her out, carried her to a pod, and sent her on her way. But then his lips had curled. His mate was stubborn. There was no arguing with her when she got something in her head. And in the end, her actions had saved them all.

Fejo finally recognized what it looked like to be loved without conditions. He’d already known he would’ve gladly laid down his life to keep Vanessa safe, and the knowledge that she would do the same was as humbling as it was beautiful.

He peered over at Vanessa, who was staring out through the window of the space-viewing room and gripping his hand. Her eyes were round, and she chewed on her bottom lip. Leaning close, he crooned, “You look nervous, lovely. Shall I give you an orgasm to calm you down?”

He knew the exact moment his words registered in her preoccupied mind because her eyes narrowed and then her mouth curled into a grin. She slid her gaze to him and playfully slapped his leg. “Give it a rest.”

He wouldn’t give it a rest, though. He didn’t like to see his mate nervous, and surprising her out of her anxious thoughts was something that worked to lighten her mood every time. These days, she’d usually grin and take him up on his offers, which pleased him to no end, but today was different. He hadn’t seen her this nervous since they’d arrived back on Clecania.

After clearing Klinara’s ship and the stolen Cae ship, they’d towed both down to the Clecanian port, where the Queen had waited to greet them. In her hubris, Klinara had kept records of who each human was being sent to, which meant Fejo had been not only able to deliver Klinara and her crew to the Queen but also the names of each buyer. The stoic Queen of Tremanta’s eyes had bugged in an odd display of emotion when Fejo handed over Klinara and the names of countless more illegal traffickers, a dozen human women.

The news of the discovery was kept quiet, and a week later, agents from the Galaxy Supervision Federation had appeared, kicking down doors and arresting the unwitting Insurgent members, some of whom were respected officials in their cities. Klinara had even tried to lessen her sentence, providing information on other high-ranking officials she knew of who belonged to PRIC.

It was devastating to learn that though the Insurgents had been silent, their numbers had reportedly only grown. Dissatisfied Clecanians had heard about the organization and sought them out, displeased with the handling of the humans on the planet so far.

As Fejo had been promised, the Queen had had no choice but to wipe his slate clean, allowing him his freedom and his ship. The Ylare was finally his, and he now knew he had more honorable males under his care than he’d realized. As soon as the minor damage to the ship had been repaired, he and the crew he’d chosen to keep had boarded for a very important run.

It’d taken less time than before to reach Vanessa’s home planet. There were no stops needed, and they’d only had to slow to evade the Alliance checkpoints, which they’d barely managed to do. Thanks to his eager crew working double duty, avoiding detection had been ultimately doable, though it had kept them on the edge of their seats for days. In one short week, the crew were gazing at the beautiful green-and-blue planet that held the key to their salvation.

Where the males looked at Earth greedily, Vanessa only looked on with fear.

“She’ll forgive you.” Fejo forced Vanessa’s gaze to meet his with a firm hand on her jaw. “Wherever she is.” He held her gaze and let his words settle. Her small, dark brows furrowed, and he ran the pad of his thumb over her forehead to smooth it.

With a small smile and a nod, she buried her head into the crook of his neck, cuddling close, and whispered, “I hope so.”


Vanessa wrung her hands together and paced in the dim room connecting to the med bay. Her gaze landed on a figure fast asleep in a heavily cushioned cot. Julie. Though frail and clinging to life with the same stubbornness that existed in Vanessa, Julie was still alive.

So many things should’ve gone wrong on their trip down to Earth. They could’ve been caught by the police, either Earth police or otherwise. But they hadn’t been.

Vanessa had been sure they find Julie’s house empty and would be forced to search all over Denver to figure out what had happened to her and where Mia had been placed. But when they’d landed their cloaked jumper on the lawn of Julie’s home on a chilly winter night, they’d found both Julie and Mia fast asleep inside.

Neither of them had so much as stirred, as Fejo had ensured they’d remained unconscious with a shot of sleep spray and gently loaded them onto the jumper they’d bought to make the trip down to Earth a little easier.

As incredible as it seemed, it’d all been too easy. Vanessa had set foot on Earth, found and gathered her family, mailed the letters from all the humans back home, and re-boarded the Ylare all in less than an hour. She hadn’t even needed to sneak off to get stamps at the grocery store. Being the careful, organized person she was, Julie had had ample envelopes and stamps tucked away in her small desk.

Everything had gone so perfectly.

So why couldn’t Vanessa get rid of the sick churning in her stomach?

She took a few more steps toward Julie and wrapped her arms around her own waist. The light from above illuminated her sister, and Vanessa had to press a hand over her mouth.

Seeming to hang off her bones, her skin was pale, her cheeks gaunt. She’d lost so much weight in such a short time. Julie looked like a ghost, nowhere near the strong force of nature Vanessa remembered.

“Are you ready?” Fejo whispered from behind her, making her jump.

Her gaze flashed to him for a moment before zooming back to Julie. Molu was behind him, waiting for her to give the go-ahead. “As ready as I’ll ever be,” she whispered back.

Molu moved to Julie’s bedside and injected her with something to counteract the effects of the sleep spray. She was about to talk to her sister for the first time since their fight, and suddenly she had no memory of what she was supposed to say.

Molu turned to her and smiled, his grin a little dimmer and less pointy than usual. “It’ll take a few minutes, but she should wake up soon. Given the condition she’s in, I don’t think we should wait too long before putting her into cryo-sleep.”

Vanessa nodded and wiped her sweaty palms on her pants. The smell of crisp, salty water enveloped her a moment before Fejo’s arms encircled her shoulders. “Do you want me to stay?”

She peered toward the small, lumpy couch in the room where Mia was fast asleep under a pile of blankets. “No, I think it’s better if it’s just the three of us. She’s going to be confused when she wakes up.”

He pressed a soft kiss to her hair and gave her a squeeze before leaving.

She took a few more steps forward, but Julie remained still. A few minutes before she wakes up. Vanessa had so little time to organize her racing thoughts.

Emotion lodged in her throat like a tennis ball, and she glanced away at the wall. Her eyes caught on colored pictures she’d found on the refrigerator and taped to the bare metal wall to help Julie feel more at home. All drawn by Mia. Me and MommyOur house. Another that looked like a cross between an overweight unicorn and a cow.

There was even one that said Auntie Nessa. Vanessa licked her lips and bit the inside of her cheek to keep the whimper that built in her throat down. All the guilt and shame she’d been carrying around rattled throughout her body with a renewed violence now that she was finally faced with the two people she’d let down.

What would Julie say? Would she forgive her? Would she demand to go back to Earth? How could Vanessa let her go back, knowing there was something out there that could heal her?

“Nessa?” A weak voice floated to her, and she spun. Julie’s eyelids were half open, her head propped to the side. She stared with a vacant smile, as though seeing a ghost and fully accepting her mind was playing tricks on her.

Vanessa grabbed a chair from against the wall and set it by Julie’s bedside.

A tear leaked from the corner of Julie’s eye and trailed over her cheek. “Vanessa, is that you? Where have you been?” She heaved in a deep breath. Her eyes fluttered as if she were about to fall asleep again. “Oh. I’m dreaming again,” she murmured to herself.

Vanessa reached out and gripped Julie’s hand. “No, Jules, you’re not dreaming. I’m here. I came back.”

Julie’s eyes flashed open, and she struggled to rise, her brows—what was left of them—furrowing. “Is that really you? Where have you been? I’ve been so worried.” Her gaze shifted and swiveled around the room. Julie’s chin dropped, and she tried to sit up straighter. “Where are we? Where’s Mia?”

Vanessa patted her hand, her own tears streaming down her cheeks. “It’s okay. It’s okay. She’s right here. She’s safe. I promise.” Vanessa shifted, giving Julie a clear view of Mia asleep on the couch behind her, and Julie calmed a fraction. Her focus returned to Vanessa, and she held her stare, her eyes scanning Vanessa’s face like she couldn’t believe she was seeing her.

“Julie, I…” Her throat clogged, and she shut her mouth, waiting for the lump to stop swelling before speaking again. “Julie, I’m so sorry,” Vanessa choked out, her voice thick. “About that night, I…I didn’t mean anything I said. Of course I’ll watch after Mia. Of course.” She squeezed Julie’s hand lightly.

A slow smile spread over Julie’s face and her other hand came to rest on Vanessa’s. “I know. I know you will. I always knew you would. I’m sorry for springing it on you like that. I realize it was a shock. When you disappeared, I knew something had to be wrong. I was sure you’d come over the next day and apologize. What happened? I looked everywhere. The police said you were just…gone.”

Guilt had her breaths coming in short gasps, but Julie’s easy forgiveness was forcing her tears to come faster. “I’ll explain everything, I promise. But right now, I need you to trust me, and I need you to keep an open mind.” She turned her gaze serious, staring at Julie hard.

Julie’s browse knit. “Something’s different about you, Nessa. Tell me what happened,” she urged again.

“I… After our fight…” Vanessa pursed her lips. How the hell was she supposed to tell her sister she’d been abducted by aliens and they were both currently on an alien ship? “I was abducted by aliens.” Vanessa pushed the words out through a wince.

Julie laughed. “Shut up. Really, what happened?”

Vanessa remained silent.

Slowly, Julie’s face fell. Her brows knit. “Stop it,” she chided at Vanessa’s serious expression.

“It’s true,” Vanessa urged. “And Julie…” she breathed. “They have the ability to heal you.”

Julie’s eyes turned glassy and flashed toward Mia again. She jerked her hand away. “That’s a shitty thing to say, Vanessa.”

She tried to speak through tears as her sister struggled to sit up. “It’s true, Jules. It’s true. I can prove it.” She inhaled a deep breath and produced a knife from her pocket.

“Nessa, stop it!” Julie’s hands flashed out and she tried to wrestle the knife away, but she was too weak.

Vanessa held the knife to her palm, cutting into the soft flesh. She bit back a whimper at the stomach-turning sensation of sharp metal slicing into her palm. Julie gasped, her eyes flashing between Vanessa and Mia, clearly struggling with whether she needed to protect her child from her own sister.

Vanessa replaced the knife in her pocket and took out the small portable healer.

“What the fuck, Vanessa?” Julie whispered, her gaze flashing back toward Mia again.

“Just look, okay? I knew you wouldn’t believe me no matter what I said, so I had to prove it. I can heal you, and we can all be together,” she quickly rushed out.

Julie’s eyes were widening by the second and her gaze flashed around as if she were starting to realize more and more how off the room looked. What kind of hospital had black metal walls and light that emanated from the ceiling itself rather than a light fixture?

Vanessa held the healer to her hand, lifting her palm so Julie could see, and turned it on. Julie’s gaze locked onto the wound, her jaw going slack when black bubbling liquid coated her bloody cut. She tossed the healer away and peeled the black substance away until all that was left was a small red scar and some blood.

Julie stared at the scar, mouthing something Vanessa couldn’t hear.

“You see?” she said, holding her hand out. “I’m not lying, and I’m not crazy. I was taken right after we got into our fight. I would’ve never left you like that. But I wonder if it isn’t a miracle that I was taken. On this planet, they have a way to heal you.”

Julie’s watery gaze finally lifted. Her face was even paler, and her chest was rising and falling in shallow pats.

“But you’d have to leave Earth and go with me. It’s your choice, Jules. I’ll respect whatever you pick and I’ll take Mia with me if that’s what you want, but I can’t go back to Earth.”

Julie’s gaze shot between the thin red scar and Vanessa’s eyes. She continued to do that for many drawn-out moments before finally sinking back against her pillows. Once more, her gaze traveled to Mia, who’d twisted herself into a ball of fluffy purple comforter. Julie’s wide-eyed expression softened as she looked at her daughter. Tears rolled down her cheeks, and she swallowed. “It’s true? I could stay with her?”

Vanessa let out a relieved breath and gripped Julie’s hand again. Her shoulders relaxed when Julie didn’t pull her hand away. “Yes. I promise. The doctor said we’ll have to put you into something like an induced coma until we get somewhere where they have everything they need to heal you, but I promise, I won’t let anything happen to you or Mia.”

She spent the next few hours explaining everything that had happened to her since being taken from Earth while Julie sat with her still-unconscious daughter curled on her lap, stroking her hair. Julie took most of what Vanessa said well but clutched Mia to her chest when she learned they were currently on a spaceship floating above Earth.

Convincing Julie to come with her was blessedly easy. Julie was an amazing mother, and if there was even the slightest chance she could be alive and well for her daughter, she’d take it.

After Vanessa knocked her out with sleeping spray again—something they both agreed would be better, considering Molu with his sharp teeth and orange skin might be too much of a shock—Vanessa watched as Julie was put into a cryo-sleep chamber.

Fejo came in and helped carry Mia’s things to their room while Vanessa carried Mia. She smiled at him when she walked inside and saw he’d set up a bed for her underneath the sleeping loft where his couch had been.

She tucked Mia in, trying to figure out how she was going to explain all of this to a seven-year-old. Fejo eyed the little girl warily as if he’d never seen one before and thought she might wake up shrieking. Then, as he set down Mia’s backpack, he stared, his mouth curling in amusement.

Vanessa glanced at the sparkly bag and chuckled. Bright purple with a lime-green alien in a sparkly UFO on the front. “Yeah. I forgot to mention Mia’s been obsessed with aliens since she was five.”

Fejo’s grin widened.


“Who’s Mia torturing today?” Vanessa said as she towel-dried her wet hair.

Fejo grinned wickedly. “Vrok. She begged him to let her color again.”

Vanessa giggled. Over the last week Mia had had no problem whatsoever adjusting to life on a spaceship. In the mornings, she would visit her mom, still sleeping peacefully in her pod, and chat about all the cool aliens she’d talked to that day.

Being the clever little girl she was, Mia had also realized fairly early on that the enormous, scary aliens were putty in her hands. She especially loved days when Vanessa allowed Vrok to watch her. The last time Vrok had babysat for a few hours, Vanessa had found them both in the hallway, Vrok seated on the ground with bent knees and wide, worried eyes. Mia had stood on the tip of his knee, holding on to to one horn for balance, while she’d used paint to “color in” all the drawings he’d spent hours creating. Vrok had kept his hands spread underneath her as if she were a glass figurine on the edge of the table.

Vanessa had apologized to Vrok profusely, and the next time Mia had seen him and begged to go paint with him again, Vanessa had told her no. Vrok, the gargantuan black-and-red horned alien who liked to be on his own to draw, had quickly muttered that he didn’t mind and seemed to darken a shade as he’d pulled Mia along with him toward a new carving he’d drawn for her.

But the person Mia loved more than anyone else was undoubtedly Fejo. She loved to place dress-up with his fancy coats, and he’d even managed to get her into the pool without the six or seven hundred floaties she normally required. The fact that he could breathe underwater seemed to lessen her fear of swimming.

Vanessa and Fejo had finally gotten some time alone today, though, and had visited a different room in the pool area. She let out a contented sigh as she watched Fejo dry himself off and run his gaze over her naked body. His eyes shot up to hers, and he grinned, not at all embarrassed about being caught.

In a few days, they’d be close enough to Clecania to smuggle Julie to the surface and heal her.

Vanessa stepped closer and slipped her arms around Fejo’s neck, sighing at the feel of his warm chest pressing into hers. “We did it,” she breathed.

His grin softened, and he swept her hair over her shoulder before pressing a soft kiss to her lips. “We did.”

Her chest expanded, love filling her with a sense of completeness. “Thank you,” she said, filling her voice with all the gratitude she could muster.

He pulled one of her hands to his mouth and pressed a soft kiss to her palm. “Vanessa…” he started.

She smiled and interrupted him. “I know, I know. I’m your mate and I don’t have to thank you, right?”

He pulled a face of mock surprise. “Actually, I was going to say you’re welcome. Clearly, you couldn’t have done it without my expertise. I’m expecting to be thanked thoroughly for the rest of our lives. Both verbally and nonverbally.”

Vanessa pursed her lips to keep her laugh inside. “You are so cocky,” she whispered. She let out a deep sigh, beaming at him. “And I love you so damn much.”

He sucked in a deep breath as though basking in her words for a moment, and his purr rumbled in his chest. “I know.”


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