Hunted

By: Evangeline Anderson


Chapter One





“You can’t be serious. It’s the bride and groom who are supposed to kiss—not the best man and maid of honor.” Sophia Waterhouse looked at her sister in horror but Olivia just smiled happily. Clearly she was too firmly cocooned in nearly-wedded bliss to worry about the severe emotional trauma she was about to inflict on her twin.

“Don’t be silly, Sophie,” she said, adjusting her veil for the fourteenth time and peering anxiously at her reflection in the full-length holo-viewer. It had been specially set up in the dressing tent for the bride and her attendants and it was getting a lot of use. “It’s not a big deal—Sylvan doesn’t bite.”

“Oh yes he does! He’s a Blood Kindred, or did you forget?” Sophie put a hand on her hip causing the long, form-fitting bridesmaid’s gown to make a soft swishing sound. She had to admit the deep emerald color looked great with her green eyes and the cut was very becoming to her hourglass figure. But no dress, no matter how gorgeous, was enough to distract her from the matter at hand. “I mean, he’s got fangs,” she pointed out, still glaring at her sister. “Honest to God fangs.”

“Yes, but they won’t get sharp enough to pierce flesh until he finds a woman he wants to mate.” Jillian Holms, an old high school friend who had also been “drafted” or called as a bride to the Kindred Mother ship, smiled smugly and adjusted her neckline. Her bridesmaid’s gown was a deep violet which went well with her tan skin. Green and purple were holy colors to the Kindred—the colors of the sacred grove where Olivia and Baird, the Kindred warrior who had called her, were about to say their vows.

Sophie shot the other woman a resentful look. Jillian had been no more than a passing acquaintance back when they all attended Hillsborough High. Now she was practically Olivia’s best friend—or at least that was how it felt to Sophie, who was used to being her sister’s closest confident. “How do you know so much about the Tranq Kindred?” she asked, trying to keep the irritation she felt out of her voice. “I thought you were called by two of the Twin Kindred?”

“I was—and you’ll never meet a sweeter pair of guys than my two hubbies.” Jillian giggled. “Everyone thinks they’re these ferocious warriors when actually they’re just big teddy bears. Well, except in bed. They can be plenty ferocious there.”

“How nice for you,” Sophie said dryly. “But I still don’t see how you can know about Blood Kindred when your husbands are Twins.”

“Oh, that.” Jillian made a shooing gesture. “You get to know things up here. I mean, the mating habits of the different Kindred are practically all we brides ever talk about—isn’t that right, Livvy?” She nudged Olivia and let out another high-pitched giggle.

Sophie frowned. There she goes again. Jillian’s “look at me, I’m such a perfect little Kindred wife” routine was getting pretty damned old. It was enough to make Sophie wish she’d never heard of the Kindred. Although if she hadn’t, she and the rest of the people on Earth would probably be dead or enslaved.

The Kindred were a race of alien warriors, humanoid in form but much more massive in scale than the average human male. They had come to the rescue at the eleventh hour, when Earth was attacked by a menacing force from space called the Scourge. The Kindred Mother ship still orbited the planet, keeping the attackers at bay, but there was a hitch. In exchange for their continued protection, the Kindred had demanded a genetic trade.

From previous trades the Kindred were divided into three separate races: the Beast Kindred who had animalistic lusts, the Twin Kindred who always shared a bride and could not be separated, and the Blood or Tranq Kindred who bit and drew blood when they had sex. Like freaking vampires. Sophie shuddered at the thought. She’d had a serious illness when she was a little girl that meant she was constantly at the doctor. As a result, she had always hated shots and needles and anything to do with blood—which was why Olivia was a nurse while she was an Elementary art teacher.

Because their race was ninety-five percent male the Kindred needed willing females to mate with. Accordingly, an Earth-wide draft was established. All women between the ages of nineteen and thirty-five were required to participate. Though it was rare to be called as a Kindred bride, it did happen on a regular basis.

It had happened to Olivia and Jillian both. While Olivia had fought it at first, she was blissfully happy now. Of course it was her wedding day—or bonding day as the Kindred called it. So Sophie supposed she could excuse her sister’s blissed-out state. Although she wished Olivia would have consulted with her before adding the Luck Kiss to her bonding ceremony.

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