Two royal brothers battle alongside each other to once again conquer another planet. It is small. The sustainable life forms that have lived here for millennia can sustain no more. One of the brothers, the youngest of thirty-seven remaining children and their rulers’ favorite, holds his staff high above his head and thrusts one end of the sharpest blade into an innocent life form’s midsection. The now deceased disintegrates into bright red ashes which disperses amongst the sudden gust of wind.
One of the creatures, a Vivadian, is overwhelmed with grief as he witnesses his own being viciously murdered and captured. Unable to contain itself, it sounds an alarm, screeching from the top of its lungs to alert the others to rally against Dorian and the other invaders of their planet. The colorful beings raise their heads, their ears stand erect as they hear the call, and all flock to the vicinity of the leader. They leap rebelliously, mounting Dorian with the hopes of killing him and forcing the rest of his invaders to surrender.
Dorian’s older brother, Tarvos, watches with satisfaction as they cloak him, weighing him down, attempting to bring the great prince to his knees. Instead of aiding his own blood, he stands back, awaiting and anticipating the demise of the young, arrogant prince. He knew this would happen someday, and an infinite amount of pleasure makes him smile inside. To even see Dorian on bended knee would be a treat. Oh, how he will tell the others. Come on. Kill the bastard. He thinks to himself.
The Vivadians pile on top of each other to weigh him down, cooling their bodies to a dangerously low temperature to kill the great beast. Dorian never calls out for help but can feel the rapid drop in his body temperature. Instead, he flexes his shoulders, allowing his black as soot wings to make themselves visible. The sheer force, kills the creatures that thought they could destroy the great prince.
He straightens himself up and stands erect. His hard muscular chest, fully visible, soaks wet in coloration from the Vivadians.
Those that witness the ferocious beast in action, finally surrender. They will be rounded up as slaves, agreeing to work, live, and die for their new masters, and protect them with their lives. Much as the requirement of pets.
Dorian’s massive wings recede back into the confines of his shoulder blades as he saunters towards Tarvos calmly, speaking in their natural tongue. “Feel free to make yourself useful at any time, brother.” He shakes off the remaining colorful sludge before other slaves bring him clean clothes, placing another black vest and shield over his chest.
Tarvos flicks the few specks of sludge that sprayed him with discontent, then forces a smile. “I knew you did not need me, young brother,” he answers respectably, displeased with his brother’s survival. But he’d be a fool to expect anything less of the prince.
As the two brothers look around at the piles of multi-colored ashes and all is silent, Dorian signals for his entire army to finish, so they can leave this planet.
“You have done it again, young brother!” Tarvos ruffles Dorian’s jet-black hair.
Both brothers are undeniably handsome, having tall, muscular statures, chiseled chins that are too perfect to believe, and piercing solid gray eyes that almost seem to radiate with enticement.
“Get off, Tarvos,” Dorian chuckles, shoving him back playfully.
Tarvos looks around derisively. “What shall become of this planet, eh? Another place of retreat for our family when they wish to get away?” He scans the area, noticing all the dust that blows. Everything on the planet is full of vibrant colors— the creatures, the plant life, even the air that blows has a mixture of crimson and lavender tint.
Tarvos wipes his blade clean of the slimy, lavender blood that remains. “Poor bastards.”
With one slight squeeze, the blade retracts back into its natural state. It is no more than half the size of a nightstick. “And another planet falls to the great Dorian A’Kraine!”
Tarvos thrusts his now harmless staff into the air to faithfully celebrate his brother’s victory. The mass legion that aided in the victory and was willing to give their lives for their imperial young master’s cause, stops to thrust their staffs in the air as well, hollering out a triumphant roar. They celebrate, mainly because to have their name whispered as being among the brave mass of heroes who fought alongside the great Dorian A’Kraine will get much attention from the females. If they die, their memory will live on as having made the greatest sacrifice of them all.
“What a dump.” Tarvos calls attention to the vivid planet, stepping on some poor soul’s ashes.
Dorian scans his surroundings, looking at the planet unfulfilled, realizing the victory was too easy. The life forms were too peaceful. There was no true challenge, and so, no worthy opponent.
Both brothers walk to their transport, feeling quite disappointed. Dorian runs the tips of his fingers along the metal, and with his touch, the air drifter transforms into a shimmering black shuttle, stretching out to appease the brothers’ lavish tastes. They enter and take a seat.
The enslaved driver wears a metallic, yet flashy, collar around his neck and pushes a button to seal the door closed. The straps automatically wrap themselves securely around the royal passengers as the drifter holds precious cargo. Lights dim and music soft enough to tame the most savage of beasts is played. The cinnamon toned seats automatically warm to acclimate their natural temperature.
Dorian leans back in a relaxed state, ready for the long trek home. He recalls the planets they have conquered before, and how, after seeing they were no match, let his legion of fierce warriors take them over with ease. He waves his hand in the air in a circular motion, revealing a transparent screen. Sliding his finger, right to left, he flips through images of other planets or destinations on the device, hoping to find his next quest in a formidable time. The great galaxy is full of planets. Some as little as the smallest of islands, and some as large as the brothers’ homeland. As they cruise the galaxy returning home Dorian continues, searching to reveal what his next challenge will be.
Tarvos huffs and shakes his head in disdain. He sits back, interlacing his fingers together behind his head and closes his eyes, having no care in the matter. He tags along with his younger brother so that he, too, can have his name whispered on the ladies’ lips. When it comes to the females, he has quite the sexual appetite. Tarvos begins to fantasize about the great night he will have with all his female consorts. A sensual smile crawls on his lips. Already he threatens to kill any Aubadian who breaks him from his thoughts, as he gets into his own little world to think about how many Eclayvens he will allow to his room, and further into his bed.
Dorian flips past an image of a great green and blue planet with faint white surroundings, but quickly flips back, returning to the image. He narrows his eyes, staring intensely to study the data on the screen that is outlined in red next to the planet’s picture. He zooms in closer and closer, until he has reached the images from the planet’s satellites.
When he started this trivial pursuit to conquer smaller planets, he was told that this great planet was never to be touched. That it was one of the most diverse and grandest planets of them all. To even attempt to conquer this world would mean an end to their own existence. However, it is this planet. This is the planet that he has set his eyes upon. This is the planet that will make or break their very existence. Therefore, as he looks upon the planet, he sees the very object that will destroy him if he does not take that chance. It will be his sole life’s work. His greatest challenge. If he is killed by the life forms that exist there, then it will be a death worth having. Aaah. This planet will be the one. It is the one. The planet that he will seek to conquer next. A planet called … Earth.
Chapter one: amyna Carter
The sun is blazing hot, beaming down on the faithful spectators below. Most of them hold on to their umbrellas, blocking the sun’s sweltering rays. Some fan themselves with the very cap that was meant to help protect them from the heat. Others take a cool, wet rag to wipe the sweat from their faces. Anything to keep cool.
One man opens his small, blue cooler and reaches in, pulling out an ice-cold Coke. He pops the top, enjoying the faint spritz of fizz that sprays in his face and then brings it to his lips, taking deep gulps as if the phosphoric acid doesn’t sting his throat. He lets out a loud, callous burp and remembers he’s in public.
“Manners,” his wife says, entirely embarrassed. She digs in her bag and aims the spray, adding another coat of sunscreen just in case.
He looks over at her and winks, leaning back in the stadium stands and takes another swallow of his soda. He yanks his cap off and places the cold can to his bald head. The only hair that remains is from his barely trimmed black goatee, compliments of a last minute run-through in the car with a battery-operated trimmer. Multiple tattoos cover his neck and arms, leading down to more hidden underneath his shirt. One tattoo that stands out is a skull that smiles devilishly at its onlookers.
“Come on, Amyna! Go, Gray Eyes!” one spectator calls out, cupping his hands around his mouth and shouting from the top of his lungs. He leans over the rails, making sure he is heard.
The man snatches his wife’s binoculars and quickly adjusts the lens to see who cheers his daughter on so vividly. With eyes set on his desired target, he growls under his breath, annoyed that the boy still wishes to defy his demands and refuses to stay away from his teenage daughter.
The tall young man wears his shoulder-length auburn hair pulled back in a ponytail. Not too manly in the father’s eyes, but the kid seemed to really pull it off with the ladies.
“I thought we told them to stop seeing each other,” the man fusses to his wife, handing her back the binoculars.
She sets down the can of Coppertone and takes them in her hand, attempting to continue to watch her daughter finish her race. Instead of focusing her view on Amyna, she watches Ethan cheer her on. He’s so proud of her. “Shane, they’re in love. Let ‘em be.”
“Let ‘em be!” Shane grumbles. “Did you forget how old she is and how old he is? Hell, he’s already graduated high school and going to college!”
“I know, I know,” his wife says casually. “But if you keep pressing it, it’s only going to push them closer together and you two farther apart.”
“I don’t give a shit if she never speaks to me the rest of her life! She’s too young to be dating an eighteen-year-old!”
“I’m going to go have a talk with mister college bound.” He gets up, finishing his Coke.
His wife reaches for him. “Shane, we’re in public. Don’t go starting anything.”
“I’m not. I’m just gonna go talk to him.” He walks off before she can talk any more sense into him.
“Be nice!” she manages to get in before he leaves out of hearing range.
Shane tromps down the steps of the bleachers, trying to make sure not to slip. He notices Ethan starting to leave and picks up the pace to catch up to him.
Ethan goes down to the runners as Amyna has finished her race. A sudden jolt to his arm makes him swing around, startled and ready to attack. He remains in defense mode. His fists are balled and ready. His muscles are tensed, shocked to see who it is.
He forces a smile as if he’s happy to see him. “Uh, Mr. Carter—” he starts nervously.
“I thought I told you to stay away from my little girl!” Shane keeps his voice in a deep, low grumble, but still manages to attract the attention of a few young passersby.
Ethan nervously scratches the back of his neck, his ponytail keeps his dark auburn hair up off his neck. “You did and I, um, did and then, um, she had a meet today and I just wanted to, um, you know, cheer her on.” His eyes shoot up to see if his semi-lie worked. Seeing as how it doesn’t look like Amyna’s father is falling for it, he tries again. “You said we couldn’t date. You didn’t say we couldn’t be friends.”
Shane balls up his fist, ready to kill the kid.
“Ethan.” Amyna walks towards them, breaking up their moment. “Dad, what are you doing here?” She holds onto Ethan’s arm and leans her head on his shoulder, not trying to hide that they’re still seeing each other.
“Your mom and I wanted to come see your last meet of the season,” Shane answers.
She attempts to change the subject. “How’s Robbie?”
“The same. They had to give him something to sleep. Said he’d be out like a light for a while, so we left and came here.”
“Mom’s up in the stands?” Amyna perks up, still a little exhausted from her race.
Her father leads the way and Amyna follows, walking up the stands. She’s stopped by another guy with a huge smile that says he’s too happy to see her.
Even though it’s too hot to be touched, he reaches out, pulling her to him for a heated embrace. “Congratulations.” He purposely holds her too long, sneering at Ethan behind Amyna’s back.
Ethan steps toward them to break up their lengthy reunion. But, finally, she pulls away.
“Sorry, Caiden. I’m a bit sweaty and stinky,” Amyna jokes, adjusting her sweatband.
“Girl, it’s all right. What are you, like the next Lo Lo Jones?” he teases. He turns around to Amyna’s father with all sincerity. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Mr. Carter. Where are my manners?” Caiden takes his cap off and puts on the biggest display of flattery possible. He reaches out and shakes Shane’s hand, introducing himself. “I’m Caiden Mitchell. I go to school with Amyna. We have classes together.”
“Oh, so y’all are in the same grade?” Shane continues to glare at Ethan with disapproval.
Caiden straightens himself up and looks Shane square in the eye to give the appearance of being genuinely nervous around Amyna’s father. “Yes, sir. We’ll both be juniors next year.” He rakes his fingers through his short, blond hair and wipes the sweat off on the leg of his jeans.
“Look, Amyna. This young man here is your age. And he knows how to wear his hair like a boy.” Shane walks off and Amyna follows to get onto him.
“Really, Dad?” she says, assuming Ethan is right behind her.
As Ethan tries to follow her, Caiden steps in his way, purposely blocking him.
“How old are you, now? Like thirty? Come on, Ethan. We both know her dad hates you. You might want to stay away from daddy’s little girl. I, however, already have plans of how I'm going to get with her on a more ... personal level. Because I’m pretty sure you haven’t gotten that far yet.”
Ethan tightens his fist, ready to punch him now.
Caiden steps closer, getting in his face. He speaks low so that the conversation is meant for their ears only. “Go ahead. Take a shot. It’ll only prove what her father already knows. That you’re not good enough for her.” Caiden turns around and looks up at Amyna in the stands, talking to her mother. “Damn, that girl looks good. I wonder what she looks like with her clothes off.”
Ethan snatches him by the collar of his shirt but hesitates, trying not to fall for Caiden’s trap. If he hits him, he could be arrested for starting a fight and be banned from the school premises. This is exactly what the Caiden wants. He takes a deep breath and releases him, then roughly pushes past him, bumping into his shoulder.
Caiden chuckles at Ethan and rubs his shoulder before he leaves the stands.
Amyna gives her mother a hug, noticing how different her mother looks outside the hospital.
“Why didn’t you go home and get some rest?”
Her mom gathers the small cooler. “Because we haven’t made it to a meet all season. And since we have to hear from everyone in town how good of a runner our daughter is, we thought we’d see for ourselves.” She adjusts the gardening hat as it threatens to fly away with the warm gusts of wind that blows their way. The air is humid and hot, almost suffocating, bringing no relief of coolness with it.
Amyna stares at her mom and the hat. She has heavy white layers of sunscreen on her face and nose. Thick black sunglasses cover the dark circles she’s certain is around her mother’s weary eyes.
“Did they say when Robbie would wake up?”
Her mother doesn’t answer.
“Mrs. Carter.” Ethan shakes her hand respectably.
“Hello, Ethan. How are you?”
“Good, and you?”
“Fine, thank you.”
Amyna looks away and down at the bleachers. She knows when her mother doesn’t answer, it’s not good. They must have put him in another coma to help ease the pain. She hated when they did that. There was never a guarantee he would wake up.
“Ethan and I are going to go out for some ice cream and to see Robbie, if that’s okay?” Truly, Amyna hadn’t even run this by Ethan, but she knows he’ll agree to whatever she wants so they can have some time together.
“Sure, that’s fine,” Melyssa answers. “Right, Shane? It’s fine that they go out?” Melyssa is more insisting it than asking.
Shane folds his arms and stands disapprovingly of the whole idea. “What time are y’all coming back?”
Amyna is surprised. She just knew he was going to deny her request or set a curfew of seven. Maybe even six, when it came to Ethan. Here he is, asking her what time. Major break-though.
Amyna and Ethan exchange looks, neither wanting to mess this up.
“Well, visiting hours end at eight. So, eight-thirty?” Amyna raises an eyebrow, begging for his approval and still expecting him to refuse them this opportunity in the first place.
Shane pauses for a while, staring sternly at Amyna, then over at Ethan. He looks back into his daughter’s piercing gray eyes and gives in.
“Eight-thirty and not a minute later.”
“Thanks, Dad!” Amyna grabs Ethan’s hand and tugs, dragging him down the bleachers, before her father can change his mind.
Immediately, he regrets letting them go. Melyssa nods in agreement that he did the right thing. She hands him the cooler and collects other belongings to head to the car.
“I’m going to be late coming home tomorrow,” Shane tells his wife as they ride in the car.
Without suspecting anything, she answers, “Okay.”
When he works late, it always means overtime and more money to help with Robbie’s hospital bills, which were beyond surmountable. His son had been denied certain procedures and tests because they couldn’t afford them. Procedures that may have saved his life. Instead, they were allowed to try a new procedure and medicine for free in hopes that it would help Robbie get better. He seemed, however, to be getting worse.
They reach their home and head inside as Shane goes into the garage to go over any last minute plans to save his son.
Chapter Two: Amyna Carter
Amyna and Ethan sit in the hospital room with Robbie, eating ice cream. She now wishes she had taken a shower at Ethan’s house like he offered. She sits in a chair next to Robbie’s bed as Ethan sits in a chair from across the room.
He watches as she stares at her brother, hoping, wishing, and praying that he would get better.
She gets up, turning on the television for Ethan while she spends some time with her little brother.
“Hey, kiddo. I brought you some ice cream. Your favorite. Buttered Pecan.” She stares at him as his chest slowly rises up and down with short, distant breathes. The monitors beep and make their sounds, reminding Amyna he’s not waking up anytime soon. Amyna releases a deep, frustrated breath, and Ethan instinctively pulls up his chair to sit on the other side.
“Don’t worry, babe. He’s gonna get better. He’s just going through a tough spell right now.”
“I just wish they wouldn’t put him in a coma. Every time they do it, they tell us he may not wake up. Why do they do it if they know he might not wake up?”
“It’s just to make him more comfortable.” Ethan continues to try and ease her mind.
“I need you to take my mind off of this like you always do,” Amyna tells him.
They smile at each other, neither of them paying attention to the television.
Amyna jumps at the shrill ringing next to Robbie’s bed. She answers it. “Hello?”
“Just making sure you are where you said you would be,” her dad says on the other line.
“You know, you could’ve called my cell.”
“Then I wouldn’t know if you were where you said you would be.”
“Eight thirty,” he reminds her.
She hangs up the phone.
Ethan puts a spoonful of vanilla ice cream in his mouth. “That was your dad, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah. Checking up on us.”
Ethan lets out a deep breath and shakes his head. “He really hates me. Scratch that. I don’t know what he hates about me more. My age or my ponytail.”
Amyna smiles. “Well, Ethan, those are the two things that I love most about you. That, and that you’re a really great kisser.”
Ethan smiles, and nervously scratches his head. “What’s with you and Caiden?” He had been avoiding the topic like the plague, but really wants to know if anything has been going on between the two while he’s off at college.
“Nothing. Okay, he can get a little flirty. Maybe too flirty. But he’s so not my type.”
“Good. Please keep it that way. Try to stay away from him.”
Amyna tries to conceal the grin, loving that Ethan seems interested in what she does when he’s not around. “Why? Are you jealous?”
“Hell, yeah. That, and he’s not all sweet and innocent as he pretends to be,” Ethan confesses through gritted teeth.
“Oh, he’s harmless.” Amyna chuckles at the thought of Ethan being jealous.
A dark-skinned nurse comes in. “Sorry, but visiting hours are over.”
Amyna checks the clock on the wall in the room. Seven o’clock. “I thought visiting hours were over at eight.”
“Sorry, honey. But when they’re comatose, it’s an hour early.”
“What does it matter? He’s asleep anyway,” Ethan retorts.
“Do I need to call security?” The nurse stands in the doorway with her arms folded.
Amyna grabs her bag and hoists it on her shoulder. She rubs a little of Robbie’s dark hair away from his forehead and gives him a kiss. “Goodbye, kiddo. I’ll be back tomorrow. I promise,” she tells him.
Amyna looks at the nurse with disdain as Ethan takes her hand and leads her out the room to leave.
They walk to the parking lot, still holding hands. When they make it to his truck, Ethan gets the door for her, closing it as she takes a seat.
Ethan walks over to his side and gets in. “You want to go get some more ice cream?” He straps on his seatbelt and starts the engine. “We can eat it at my house.”
“By the time we get it and make it to your place, it’ll be time for me to go home. No thanks. It’ll just remind me of the time we already don’t have together.”
“Well, I’m all yours, babe. Just tell me what you want to do, where you want to go.”
“We can go to the lake,” Amyna offers, perking up.
She likes it when they get the chance to go to the lake. They would walk to the pier, let their feet hang off the edge, and Amyna would just lay her head on Ethan’s broad shoulders. On the coldest of nights, they would bring a blanket and wrap up together. They would stay there for hours, listening to the frogs and other night sounds come to life. Either way, it’s a rare moment when they can be together in peaceful bliss.
Ethan puts the truck in drive, pulling out of the parking space and heads to the park. 7:10. He reaches for her hand and holds it tenderly, trying to give her some reassurance. He can tell she’s still worried about her brother. The park is near Amyna’s house, so they can have about thirty minutes or so of time together. Ethan pulls into the park. Police lights flash and more undercover cars arrive in a huff. Several men kneel on their knees, their hands handcuffed behind their back. Several others wait to be restrained with their hands behind their heads.
Amyna watches the scene unfold. “Drug bust?”
“Looks like it.”
Amyna hates where she lives now. They used to stay near Ethan’s house on the nice side of town. But because of Robbie’s expensive hospital bills and treatments, they were forced to move to another side of town in a house that was more … affordable.
7:20. “Just take me home,” Amyna surrenders.
Ethan puts the truck in reverse and heads towards Amyna’s house. He parks on the street, right in front of her house. The scene is totally opposite from Ethan’s neighborhood. Old cars and pickup trucks litter the side of the road; some have been sitting there for months needing to be towed away. Garbage cans overflow with trash. Cats and other strays have already sifted through the garbage to find their fill. They both unhook their seatbelts and Ethan locks the doors.
“Just in case,” he tells her. The cops are no strangers to this neighborhood.
Amyna sighs. “It’s a good thing you fell in love with me before I moved to this dump.”
“A home’s a home.”
Ethan really isn’t sure what to say. He can definitely understand where she’s coming from. Amyna and her family used to stay in a nice two-story brick house. Their yard stayed beautiful with flowers and a fresh cut lawn, compliments of Shane and Melyssa. He remembers how he loved going to their house and helping Shane with the yard work. Any work, as he grew to become very fond of Amyna. He remembers the first time he saw her gorgeous gray eyes. He had never seen anything like it. Even though they consider her eyes gray, they are more like a silver, sparkling hue. Much like a husky or wolf. Very animalistic. She said the doctor told them it was natural. Rare, but natural. Whatever that meant. He pulls himself from his thoughts and turns to her.
“Promise me you’ll stay away from Caiden. He’s a total douche bag.”
Amyna chuckles. “Jealous much?”
“Yeah. Like a lot.”
“I promise, you have nothing to worry about. Besides, I’m already seeing this other guy.”
“Really?” Ethan fails to catch her sarcasm.
“Yeah. He’s got shoulder-length, gorgeous hair, sexy brown eyes, and an even sexier deep voice. And his smile!” Amyna sarcastically puts her hand over her mouth. “Oh my gosh! Ethan, if you saw his smile, you would—”
Ethan chuckles and reaches over pulling her to him, placing his lips to hers. He revels in the taste of her tongue as it seems like forever sense they’ve shared a kiss like this. She returns his kiss, then pulls away, staring him in the eyes, giving him a devilish grin. “Race you to the back seat!”
Amyna quickly crawls to the back with Ethan struggling to follow her. His pitiful display of getting his long legs entangled in the seats makes Amyna laugh. He loves putting a smile on her face. He pulls her to him once more, returning his lips to hers, cupping her face in his hands. They kiss each other passionately. Out of all the girlfriends he’s had, Amyna is the only one he has feared losing. She’s the complete package for him and knows he could see himself marrying her someday. She has the best sense of humor, is athletic, and too easy to please. Not like many of the girls he’s dated in the past.
Their arguments don’t lead into him getting things thrown at his head, tires slashed, or cell phone hacked. Instead, they only lead into them laughing and joking about the whole situation. He can’t mess this up.
Things begin to get really heated as he finds his hands fumbling underneath her shirt, wanting so badly to unclip her bra. Instead, he just runs his hands across her breast and appreciates that she’s fully endowed at her age.
He kisses her neck, enjoying the salty taste on his tongue. Both of them have been sweating from today’s track meet. He can’t help himself and tries not to take it too far, as Amyna attempts to take off his gray polo shirt. He lets her, and his white undershirt remains. By now, both bodies are receptive as young pheromones fill the inside of the truck, the suffocating heat adding to their intense sexual tension. He wants her so badly. She wants him. However, this isn’t the time or place. He starts to stop her, but it’s a failed attempt, and the feeling is just too good as she mounts him, fully clothed, and sits down on his lap. This drives him crazy.