Eva glanced around at the three other women, virtual strangers, who sat at the table with her. Ever since she’d received word she’d won this all-inclusive vacation at the Bonavista Resort, she’d been looking forward to getting away—from her hectic job as office manager at Keye Electronics, from the frigid January weather in Toronto, and definitely from her aggravating ex-husband.
Her fists clenched under the table as she remembered how he’d done everything he could to delay the sale of their house just to hold up the funds she needed for a down payment on a great new condominium on the west side. With the deadline on the offer looming and no sign of the money becoming available, she’d been stressing out. Finally, she’d decided to hell with it, and she’d let the condo go. It was all about control with Roger, so she simply decided not to play along.
Crystal, across the table, said something Eva couldn’t hear. Jenna, the woman to her left laughed, and Kate, next to her, giggled. Eva smiled, feeling the tension of the past few months slipping away.
She glanced around the large ballroom where the welcoming party to the luxury resort was in full swing. This next week, she intended to relax on the beach, swim and make some new friends. But no men. That jerk of an ex-husband had shown her what men were really all about, and she had decided she could do without a man in her life. Period.
Now, if only she could convince her libido of that.
Allowing her gaze to wander over the women in glittering evening gowns and men in well-tailored tuxes swirling around the dance floor, she felt her insides quiver when she imagined being held in the arms of one of the many gorgeous men here, yet her stomach knotted at the thought of letting any man touch her. Damn, how had she let her ex-husband screw her up so thoroughly?
Eva noticed the hostess leading another woman, holding one of the sweet red cocktails in her hand, to their table. In a black linen power suit, her golden-blonde hair tugged back tight from her face, she seemed more appropriately attired for a business meeting than a party. The woman glanced around uncertainly, tugging at the hem of her trim jacket. Ordinarily, Eva would have held back from this high-powered, business-woman type, since she’d found most to be cold and full of themselves, but this woman seemed lost and a little vulnerable.
“This is where you’ll be sitting this evening,” Eva heard the hostess say over the music and laughter as they approached the table. “Please help yourself to drinks and appetizers. Someone will come and get you for the orientation in about twenty minutes.”
The newcomer nodded her thanks and sank into the empty chair. Eva smiled at her.
“Hi. My name’s Eva.”
Eva offered her hand and the other woman shook it.
“Hi. I’m Aria.”
Aria’s grip was firm and her fingers frigid. Poor thing must realize how out of place she was in her current attire.
Eva’s fingers glided along the simple string of pearls she wore at her neck. She was glad she’d chosen to wear her favorite dress, a black wrap-around that made her feel feminine and sophisticated.
“This is Jenna, Kate and Crystal.” Eva introduced the women clockwise around the table.
They all smiled and nodded. Each wore an evening gown.
“I feel a little out of place.” Aria fiddled with the clip holding her hair in a twist at the back of her head. “I should have worn something else.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Eva said. “You look great.”
“This is so exciting!” Kate, the young woman across the table from Aria, pushed her long, auburn hair behind her ear, her green eyes glittering with enthusiasm. “I wonder what they have planned for us.”
Aria sipped the drink she still held in her hand.
“I don’t know, but I hope there are men involved.” Crystal, the tall blonde on Aria’s right, settled a lascivious gaze on the hard, muscular butts of three guys, gorgeous and in their early twenties, as they passed by. Eva couldn’t help admiring the hard, masculine flesh too, which sent her pulse thrumming.
“There certainly are a lot of good-looking men here,” said Kate.
“And women.” Jenna, a woman with a sweet smile and short feathery black hair, sat on Eva’s left, watching a pair of blonde women in low-cut gowns pass by. Their generous, round breasts practically bounced out of their dresses.
“Don’t worry about those two, honey. They’ve got lots out here…” Crystal indicated her chest, then waved her hand by her head. “But not much up here. Not like you.” She laid her hand on Jenna’s. “You’ve got brains and looks. In fact, you’re way better looking than most of the women here.”
Eva smiled at Jenna and nodded in agreement. Jenna had been the first at the table and Eva the second. They had shared an interesting conversation about books and it turned out Jenna taught English at a college. Jenna, with her wide eyes, high cheekbones and flawless complexion, was stunning. In fact, the other three were all gorgeous too. Crystal sizzled with glamorous sexuality. Kate was rosy-cheeked and innocent. Aria, with her natural golden-blonde hair, slender nose and heart-shaped lips, was a classic beauty.
Jenna smiled at Crystal but tucked her hand under the table as soon as Crystal drew hers away.
Crystal locked gazes with a man two tables over and sent him a seductive smile. “With all these sexy hunks to choose from, I plan to get laid every night by a different man.” She winked. “Or two.”
Eva cringed at the thought. After her selfish ex, she couldn’t even handle the thought of one man, let alone two.
A waitress stopped beside the table. “More drinks, ladies?”
Eva nodded. The waitress took away the empty glasses and set down five new ones. Eva picked one up and sipped.
“And here comes contestant number one,” Crystal purred.
The man Crystal had been making eyes at approached the table. He leaned over Crystal and murmured something in her ear. She chuckled, a deep throaty sound, and her lips curled in a wicked smile. He took her hand and led her to the dance floor where he drew her into a close embrace. Her red strapless dress, with a light sprinkling of sequins, glittered in the low light. They quickly disappeared among the crowd of dancers.
Eva admired Crystal. She knew what she wanted, and she went after it. If only everyone was as well-adjusted as her.
Kate giggled. “Do you think she really means it? I mean, that she’d go to bed with two guys?”
“I’m sure it was just talk.” Eva’s gaze followed the couple across the dance floor as they came into view, wove past several couples, then disappeared into the crowd again.
“I don’t know. I think she’s up for anything,” Jenna piped in. “And more power to her.”
Jenna was probably right. Crystal was confident and didn’t seem to care what others thought of her. A formidable combination.
Ever since Crystal had joined them at the table, the men had all been eying her. Eva could understand why they found Crystal fascinating. She exuded potent sexuality.
After Eva’s divorce and her total disenchantment with men, she had actually considered going the other way. Another woman would likely be very giving sexually—the total opposite of Roger—and that’s what Eva needed now. If any woman could ever convince Eva to switch, it would be someone like Crystal, but Eva knew it wouldn’t work. The simple fact was that Eva was attracted to men. She just didn’t trust them.
Damn this thrumming sexual need which had been vibrating through her for weeks. She toyed with the stem of her glass. The hunger coursing through her heated her blood even now. She found her gaze wandering to the tall, muscular physiques of the men around her. So hot. So handsome.
A man at the next table leaned close to his companion’s ear and murmured something. The woman laughed. Eva could imagine him sitting next to her, his strong arm brushing against hers, his breath whispering into her ear. Desire, like a flash fire, burst through her, searing her nerve endings.
Oh God, but she needed a man.
She fought back the urge. No, she didn’t. She could take care of herself. Her thoughts turned to the big blue vibrator sitting in the drawer of the bedside table in her room. As soon as this party was over, she had a date with “big blue”.
The song changed and a moment later, Crystal returned to the table. She wrapped her hands around her glass and stared into it.
“He was nice but not exactly what I’m looking for.”
“And what are you looking for?” Kate asked.
“I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll know it when I find it.” Crystal stabbed the cherry in her glass with the sharp end of the swizzle stick and brought it to her lips. She gently tugged it off with her teeth, then drew it into her mouth, closing her lips around it.
Jenna watched with fascination, then nervously glanced down at her hands when she realized Eva had noticed. Did Jenna admire Crystal’s easy sensuality? Or, like Eva had, was Jenna considering the possibilities?
“You know, I won this vacation in a contest.” Jenna twirled the tip of her finger around the rim of her glass
“Really? I did too,” Eva responded.
Kate’s eyes widened. “Me too.”
Crystal pointed a long, well-manicured red fingernail at Aria. “And you?”
“Same here.” Crystal sipped her drink.
“Omigod.” Kate giggled. “What a coincidence.”
“Not a coincidence, sweetie. They probably want to get a photo of all of us. You know, for marketing, yada yada yada.” Crystal rested her chin on her hands. “And we’ll probably have to sit through some long, boring pitch to buy a timeshare.”
“I don’t think so,” Aria chimed in. “We’re not exactly the demographic they’re looking for and—”
“Ladies, my name is Baryn. It’s time for the orientation.”
A stunningly handsome man smiled at them with dazzling white teeth and striking blue eyes. He was tall and broad-shouldered, his arms bulging with muscles under his tailored suit jacket. Eva’s insides quivered. Did the parade of temptations never end?
“Would you all come with me, please?” He drew Kate’s chair back and offered his hand.
Kate sent him a glowing smile as she took it and stood up. “Lead on.”
Crystal leaned toward Aria and murmured, “I would absolutely come with him. Anywhere. Anytime.”
Aria giggled. Eva just clenched her teeth and tried not to stare at his rock-hard butt as he walked away from the table. She and the others stood and Baryn led them across the ballroom, his hand resting on the small of Kate’s back.
When they stepped into the atrium, another man joined them. He was every bit at muscular and handsome as Baryn.
“This is my associate, Terrien,” Baryn said.
Terrien’s suit stretched across his broad shoulders and narrowed to his waist. His dark brown hair was combed back off his face in thick waves, shimmering with bronze highlights in the soft light.
Crystal gazed at him with blatant interest, her eyes glittering.
“Good evening, ladies,” Terrien said with a beaming smile that would melt any woman into a puddle, but seemed to be directed mostly at Crystal. “This way.” He gestured toward a corridor on the left.
“Aren’t the elevators the other way?” Jenna asked.
“The normal ones, yes,” Terrien answered, “but we’re taking the VIP elevator.”
“Mmm, VIP. That’s my kind of action,” Crystal purred to Aria and Jenna.
Kate walked beside Baryn, Eva walked a couple feet behind them, and Jenna, Crystal and Aria followed. Terrien fell in behind as Baryn led them down a narrow corridor, then opened a door labeled “Authorized Personnel Only”. At the end of another narrow corridor, they came to an elevator. Terrien pushed a key into a lock on the control panel and the doors opened. They crowded into the small space and the doors closed.
“This doesn’t look very VIP to me,” Crystal grumbled.
The elevator seemed to speed up. It jostled a little from side to side. Aria swayed sideways and grabbed onto Crystal’s arm. Crystal placed her hand over Aria’s.
“You okay, honey? You look a little green.”
In fact, her face had gone completely pale.
Eva clasped Aria’s other hand. “You don’t look well.”
“I’m sure she’ll be fine in a minute,” Baryn said.
The doors opened, and Kate, Baryn and Jenna stepped out. Aria took a step or two, then her knees started to buckle. Eva grabbed one of Aria’s arms and Crystal the other. They steadied her as they helped her from the elevator.
They entered a moderate-size room with upholstered armchairs facing one wall. The décor had changed dramatically from the coral and green they’d seen everywhere else in the hotel. Also missing were the warm wooden details. This room was cool blue with very minimalist, clean lines.
Eva led Aria to a chair.
“I don’t know what came over me.” Aria’s cheeks flushed red.
“The transporter has that effect on some people.”
“The what?” Aria’s eyes widened and Eva turned toward the unfamiliar female voice.
A striking woman with a cool expression and an authoritative air stood beside Baryn, who was taking off his suit jacket. The woman handed him a dark green jacket just like the one she wore. It looked like a military uniform of some sort. Terrien had already donned a similar jacket.
“The transporter,” she repeated.
The woman’s long, straight hair was pulled back tight from her face and fastened into a ponytail on top of her head. It was so light it was almost white, but it shimmered with soft lavender highlights when she moved.
She pushed a button on a small console on the wall beside her, triggering a loud humming. The wall started to slide upward, revealing windows beyond. Aria gasped, echoed by several of the others, as a stunning vista of stars was revealed.
“It transported you to our starship.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Crystal walked to the glass and peered outside.
“I don’t know, Crystal.” Kate’s voice sounded on the edge of panic. “Look!” She pointed upward.
Eva followed her gaze. The wall panels continued to retreat over the ceiling, revealing a beautiful but quite disturbing view of Earth.
“Oh, my God.” Eva sank into a chair, a queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. “We’ve just been abducted by aliens.”