Meangerie DUPLICATE TITLE MENAGERIE
Click on image to enlarge.
by Lara Santiago
Category: Erotica/Menage Erotica
Description: [Menage Amour 9: Erotic Sci-fi Romance, Multiple Sex Partners, Sharing] What's a girl to do with five hot guys who need her for their sexual survival? Create a weekly schedule. Accidentally transported to an alien spaceship, Valerie Thornhill inadvertently volunteers to be a virtual sex slave for five men. A shortage of females and her blatant curiosity aboard the alien vessel conspire and set fate in motion. The fact that the five are sexy and attractive is helpful when she learns the term of service is three years. Forbidden to show favoritism within her unusual household for the duration of the long trip, Valerie still can't help falling in love with the most intriguing one of her male harem. The fact that she is apprehensive about his demeanor and overall size only heightens her desire for him. When the aliens discover Valerie's indiscretion, the ultimate price for her desire may jeopardize the return trip to Earth for all of them. [Erotic Multiple Partner Science Fiction Romance: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./PolyAmour, 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: August 2009
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [323 KB]
Reading time: 206-288 min.
Wisconsin RWA's 2009 Write Touch Readers' Award
"A+ Outstanding Read: Menagerie by Lara Santiago is unlike any book I have ever read. Erotic and original, this sci-fi story grabs you from the first page and keeps you thoroughly involved until the last word. Ms. Santiago has come up with an alien story unlike any other and her imaginative style, world building and strong heroines, who always have a touch of humor, never cease to entertain. Ms. Santiago weaves a story so steamy you'll need to sit on a block of ice to keep from overheating! Each of these men is more alpha and sexy than the next. The heroine is strong, funny and would make a great best friend. I really loved this book and it has earned a spot on my keeper shelf. Trust me you definitely need to pick up a copy of Menagerie. But remember I did warn you that it is so sizzling you'll feel like you're sitting in a sauna."--Lynda, Simply Romance Reviews
"5 FLAGS: WOW! Fantastic! Titillating, sexy, and OMG it's unfair that one woman can be catered to by so many men. Well, Lara, without being told, you've added another one to my keeper shelf. I could not put it down until I finished it. The lack of sleep was worth it! High marks, hon! Can't wait for the next one."--Melisa, Euro-Reviews
"5 CHERRIES: Oh My Goodness! I LOVED this book! I've come to expect quite a bit from Siren Publishing and their authors since we started reviewing their books. and I have to say that Lara Santiago doesn't disappoint. I was sucked in from the beginning and was loathe to put this book down, even to feed myself! I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end, and was intrigued by how Lara Santiago brought about the happy ending that made me smile, and will no doubt do the same for you. Menagerie is a gripping, unique offering of the Sci-fi/Fantasy variety that will leave you hoping for more from this amazing voice in erotic romance."--Viscaria, Whipped Cream
"4.5 STARS: You'll need a fan for this one! A new author for my keeper shelf! I'm not much of a fantasy/paranormal fan, but the premise and the book excerpt for this one intrigued me. I'm glad for that, as I've found a delightful author that can weave a very believable fantasy. I loved the dynamics of the five men and how Valerie shared different aspects of herself with each one, except for when it came to Dominick with whom she shared all of herself. There's a lovely twist to the ending, one that I was very pleased to read. Though there are explicit sex scenes and on a one-on-one basis multiple partners, this is very much a love story, one I couldn't put down. Ms. Santiago has a refreshing voice and I'm eager to read more from her, hopefully more of this intriguing world. This one's for the keeper shelf!"--Katherine T, eHarlequin Community
"4 STARS: Menagerie is a delightfully entertaining, emotional, and romantic tale about a sexual arrangement amongst an alien ship. Valerie is a na?ve, compassionate, charming, and comical character that I instantly fell in love with from the very beginning of the story. The confident and group leader Hauser, the polite and creative Johnny, the shy and straight laced Frasier, the aggressive yet smooth bad boy Mark, and the passionate and silent giant Dominick have wormed their way into Valerie's heart. The bond that has transpired between them is quite passionate, seductive and romantic, which includes oral stimulation. An erotic dream sequence might be uncomfortable for some readers yet this situation provides an emotional ambience within the main characters. I found the meticulous details and the realism that the author provided in the story very realistic, which definitely helps make every scene quite enjoyable. The various secondary characters are very entertaining and help strengthen Valerie and her mate's relationship. Ms. Santiago has created a fabulous and exciting adventure. Where can I sign up for this kind of sexy alien encounter?"--Tallyn Porter, Just Erotic Romance Reviews
"4 HEARTS: What would you do if you were sucked up into a vortex and found yourself on an alien ship and your purpose while there is to service five hunks? Valerie is a funny, kind-hearted woman. She's insecure about her looks, she's not skinny, and has very little experience with men. She's a wonderful character. I loved her. The love scenes are well written, sexy, and smokin' hot. Lucky Valerie. Each of the five heroes have individual personalities, looks, builds, and temperaments. They complement each other. They are compassionate, gorgeous, and help alleviate Valerie's insecurities which I found to be a nice touch. Great dialogue and some hilarious one-liners add to this entertaining story. But what delighted me the most was the rather sneaky twist towards the end that I was definitely not expecting. I recommend Menagerie as a fun, entertaining, and sexy book to read."--Abi, The Romance Studio
"4 STARS: I really did end up liking this a lot more than I expected. There was quite a bit more emotional depth here than I thought there'd be, along with quite a bit of humor and a fairly well drawn story arc. There are certain rules Valerie has to follow besides having relations with each guy twice a month. She has to cook them breakfast and isn't allowed to work, which annoys the crap out of her (me? I could probably deal with being loved by five men and just chillin' at home all day, but whatever). She meets a friend, Daisy, and the two of them stir up mischief together. They keep getting called before the "council", which are three aliens who monitor what goes on inside the starship. As time goes on, Valerie finds herself falling for one of her guys, which breaks the cardinal rule in Alien world-don't give one more attention than another. She can't seem to help herself, though. Then, as the guilt from keeping the secret starts to weigh on her, she begins having horribly frightening dreams that effect her relationship with all five of them. In the end it turned out be a fast paced tale and one I enjoyed. I'd recommend it."--Holly, The Book Binge
"4 ANGELS: The sex scenes are graphic and erotic and involve a ménage, though the relationship is technically polyandrous (one woman, several men). However, the most interesting aspect of this story isn't the sex per se, but what is going on in the characters' heads. If you like thoughtful science fiction stories with an interesting twist, this is the perfect novel for you."--Jean, Fallen Angel Reviews
"This book has multiple partners, some bondage, and explicit sex. It is very well written and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was rooting for Valerie all the way. Valerie's behavior on the alien ship reminds us of the little troublemaker we all have inside. By the end of this story I was wishing for that happy ending that I felt they deserved. This book was so descriptive, it felt like a movie playing in my head."--Breia Brickey, ParaNormal Romance
"Girls, get ready for Menagerie. Valerie proves that it is possible to have your cake and eat it too! The men are as different as night and day so, there is no chance of her becoming bored. I loved the concept of the alien abduction. Putting Valerie on an alien spacecraft removes her and the reader from what's deemed to be too taboo, which is a necessary move in order to fully enjoy the story and appreciate it for what it is. Once I got over my initial discomfort of her having sex with all five men (never more than one at the same time mind you), I loved Menagerie. The characters are well thought out and conveyed. The spaceship and its alien inhabitants are all so engrossing that I could visualize everything. Believe it or not, sex is not the highlight of Menagerie, it is more about Valerie seeing herself for the gem she is despite her perceived faults and her activities with men who are so different, but who all appreciate her for who she is. I really believe Menagerie will be enjoyed by readers who like a little sci-fi spice as well as others who like a genuine love story. The ending of Menagerie really caught me off guard because I didn't see it coming. But, I loved every minute of it and smiled long after I read the last page. "--Ariel Summer, Romance Reviews Today
Valerie Thornhill despised jogging. She loathed exercise in absolutely any form. Most of all, she hated the fact that she truly needed to do it.
The pain she experienced while working out started with the first jarring step. Today's effort was no different as she stepped on the gravel pathway entering the local park.
Shooting spasms of agony crawled from her running shoe-clad feet to her legs to her chest and married up with the other ache lodged around her heart.
The steady pain in Valerie's chest grew to epic proportions of constriction with each step she took along the park's trail in an effort to get in shape. It was as if some invisible force with a large hand had a firm grip on her heart and squeezed it mercilessly in its steely grasp.
The apprehension strangling her insides was easily explained, and not all of it had to do with exercise, but it hurt all the same. She ignored the discomfort and pressed on in a vain pursuit of health.
Anxiety. That's all it was. Her mother was coming for a visit next month and Valerie knew her destiny in those two weeks would be fraught with repeated lectures of disappointment because Valerie hadn't snagged a husband yet.
Her mother was ever hopeful, but unfortunately, Valerie hadn't found any man that made her heart race with a single glance. She'd spent her time with toad after blind-date toad and honestly, not one had seemed worth the effort of compromising the single attribute that Valerie insisted upon. She wanted attraction. Inescapable, heart-pounding, immediate attraction. She wanted her socks knocked off with a single glance. What was wrong with that?
Her mother insisted that she was too picky. Whatever. Perhaps her mother was right. It wasn't like Valerie's unyielding search for a perfect, compelling mate was keeping her warm at night.
Valerie knew that whatever perfect man she one day found to love wouldn't care how she looked nearly as much as her mother did. Instead of this vigorous activity, she'd rather be taking a nap. Her job as a corporate accountant was stressful enough throughout the work week. Valerie enjoyed her time off on the weekend. Sunday afternoon would definitely be better spent wrapped in a comforter watching fragments of television shows in between naps instead of this run.
Today's jog in the park was solely because of guilt and fate. Guilt because in two weeks her mother would remind her that she needed to lose twenty-five pounds to attract a suitable man, and fate because she was destined not to lose an ounce before her mother's arrival unless she got moving.
Picking up the pace, Valerie jogged along in her gray sweat suit, and considered the looming visit from her parents. Her dad wasn't any problem, but her mother. She closed her eyes momentarily. The crushing sensation in her chest increased to the point where it became almost unbearable. Happy thoughts. The very air around her thickened as she drew in a heaving breath. The tang of flavor she tasted suggested it was about to rain.
Lifting her head in hope, she searched the endlessly clear blue skies for a reprieve to this abhorrent exercise. A sudden rain shower would force her inside. Not a single cloud graced the skies to end her torture, but a tingle ran across her skin and another deep breath brought the same thick ozone flavor into her lungs.
Was something about to happen?
Something ... shocking?
Valerie brushed a strand of hair away from her face, tucking it behind one ear, and endeavored to calm her fanciful mind. The wind picked up and blew a piece of paper across her path, where it plastered flat against an outdoor wire trash can.
The paper had a picture of a buff, half-naked man on it with the partially hidden caption revealing only escort service and below that was part of a phone number. She imagined the covered part started with the numbers one dash nine hundred.
Hmm. Now there was an idea she could toy with for the rest of her reviled exercise period. She'd hire a delectable man as potential matrimonial arm candy for the duration of her mother's visit and then not only would she not need to diet or exercise, she could make a visit with her mother go by faster and much more pleasantly.
How much did two weeks worth of suitable marrying-man arm candy cost in today's market, she wondered, a smile creeping up.
Probably every dime she had in her savings, checking account and retirement IRAs. The right man would likely be worth every cent.
Valerie trudged along thinking that the fantasy was way too expensive for her meager budget, but still fun to contemplate.
One plodding, slow step at a time on the park's seemingly endless trail, she approached her least favorite section. There was a small hill just ahead. It was a steeper, more difficult climb for someone as out of shape as she was and besides, it ran parallel to the four-lane highway for about a hundred feet down an embankment. Traffic noise aside, she also hated the smell of diesel fumes that wafted across this part of the path.
Convinced that breathing it in would be harmful to her health, she always held her breath for as long as possible when she ran alongside the road.
At least until she felt faint, which was probably only seconds. As always, she ended up sucking in gobs of nasty road smell, without a doubt enough to put her on the ground from lack of oxygen.
Valerie's steps slowed as she hiked up the incline and when she got within steps of seeing the road, she heard what she thought sounded like ... gunfire. A car wouldn't backfire that fast and so many times, would it?
Like a looky-loo at an accident site, Valerie couldn't keep from turning towards the road to identify the sound. Expecting to see a drive-by shooting in progress, she was surprised to see two motorcycles approaching. One was black. One was silver.
The silver rider, driving one-handed and located approximately a car length behind the black rider, held what looked like a small black oversized pistol. She's never held a gun of any kind in her life, but it looked like a fancy weapon from one of the action movies she'd been forced to endure on those blind date-toad fests of her past..
Visible plumes of carbon monoxide floated up from the road as Valerie watched the silver rider raise his gun arm and spray the black motorcycle with gunfire from the weapon. The black rider bobbled his motorcycle onto the paved shoulder of road, lost his balance and slid sideways with a screech of metal on asphalt into the foliage covering the embankment parallel to where Valerie had slowed to watch.
The silver rider continued firing and the arc of his weapon headed in her direction. Valerie realized, with dreadful insight, that she was about to be mowed down as an innocent bystander in a drive-by shooting.
Valerie also realized that she still held her breath. The curtain of black crowded her vision from lack of oxygen. She went down hard on her knees before flattening out on the pea gravel face down. Dusty air was quickly sucked into her lungs. She didn't even have the strength to cough.
Her last rational thought before unconsciousness was that her mother was going to be totally pissed if Valerie kicked the bucket while flat on her face, in the dirt, wearing a drab gray jogging suit, and still unmarried.
* * * *
"How many humans were brought aboard during this passage by Earth?" Golden asked.
Blue checked a digital flat board even though he undoubtedly knew the answer from memory. "The total for the eighty-one-day period in orbit is nine-hundred and sixteen."
Golden sighed. "That's more than twice what we had during the last trip."
"Yes, sir. The humans have reproduced at a higher rate than predicted from our last notation. Plus, the target area is more concentrated with human activity."
"With the newly installed living chamber, there is at least enough room for all of them this time. Has the ratio of males to females altered?"
Again, Blue checked his statistics and responded without looking him directly in the eyes., "Yes. With the current displacement equation, men outnumber women by a five-to-one ratio."
Golden closed his eyes, "That's worse. How do you account for this anomaly?"
"The humans have advanced to a greater technological state than previously anticipated. Plus, their lives are inherently more complex than before as a result. It was to be expected."
"Undoubtedly. However, we'll have to adjust the orientation content to explain."
Blue looked horrified. "Do we have the time for that, sir?"
"Make time. Otherwise, it'll be a long three years of unparalleled chaos."
"It likely will be anyway," Blue murmured under his breath.
Golden agreed and mentally prepared for the pandemonium that was about to begin with the new crop of accidental human passengers.
* * * *
"...is why the men here need sex." An unrecognized voice echoed in Valerie's sluggish brain.
Join the club, she thought, rousing further. She opened her eyes and realized she was sitting in a very uncomfortable chair.
"Therefore, after the gauntlet arena selection, you will be required to have sex with each one of the men in your selected group at least once every two months so that they won't die a painful death," the blue alien standing before her said in a stern tone.
Valerie was no longer face down in the dirt. She was no longer outdoors. Lifting her head slowly, she quickly realized she was also no longer alone. Half slumped in a hard metal chair, she straightened and stretched the kinks out of her back. After several satisfying pops, she resisted the urge to yawn.
Where am I?
Looking first to her right, she noticed fifteen or so other shell-shocked-looking women in various stages of dress. To her left was much the same view. There was one poor soul wearing only a bra and panties. But another was in a full fledged business suit complete with patterned pantyhose and stilettos. The others in the room looked like they'd been pulled from backstage at a play between acts.
Valerie looked down at her boring gray sweats. At least she wasn't in her underwear like half the women in the room.
The blue alien looked like a body builder that had been dipped in cerulean paint. He cleared his throat and all the women in the room sent their gaze forward. No one in the room spoke.
The grimace forming on his face wasn't attractive and bordered on hostile. He stared as if he was waiting for something from them. Valerie had no idea what it could be and resisted the urge to yawn, certain it wasn't the response he searched for. She wished she hadn't missed the first part of what he'd said.
"Don't any of you have questions?" he asked. "I usually get a lot of questions."
Valerie raised her hand. The blue alien man's expression softened. He pointed at her and gestured that she stand.
She sighed deeply and stood. Over a sea of heads seated in the several rows of chairs in front of her, Valerie fixed her gaze on the strange blue man waiting with eyebrows lifted for her question.
"What was your name again?"
He stiffened. "You may call me, Blue. What is your question? Or was that it?"
Valerie paused at his name. His skin was blue and his name was Blue? Whatever.
"We haven't got all day," he remarked and glanced at his clipboard thing.
"You want me to do what with a group of strange men?"
He sent a piercing stare through her, crossed his substantial arms over his chest and the hostile expression returned. "Haven't you been listening?"
Blue, the alien with the Smurf-blue skin, looked like he'd fallen into a vat of sapphire dye and soaked for awhile. Maybe that's why he was so grumpy. His hair was dark brown along with his thick eyebrows and his eyes were also brown. He wore snug pants and no shirt.
"Well, sure, to part of it, but..." she trailed off and sat back down.
Was she dreaming? If so, wouldn't she be the one in her underwear being called to task in the classroom?
"Have any of you been listening?" he railed and sent another stern gaze drilling to several of the other women.
No one else said a word. Perhaps they were all as confused as she was.
Valerie decided that this was the single most vivid dream she'd ever had, and the strangest. She felt like she'd come into the middle of a movie. Only she didn't remember how she got here or where she'd been before being seated at the back of the class. Someone else must have put her here, because if she'd seated herself, she would have been in the front row. Definitely a dream.
She sent her gaze forward again. Blue's expression hadn't changed from annoyance. A couple of phrases brushed her memory. Gauntlet arena with groups of men and have sex with each of them. If she'd remembered correctly.
Yeah. Like that would really happen. She barely knew what to do with one man let alone a group of them. The rest of the women seated around her seemed even less enthusiastic.
"Don't any of you have anything to say?"
No one responded.
The few women standing along the edges of the room, possibly due to the inadequate seating, seemed equally shocked into speechlessness by Blue's words. Perhaps it was a group dream.
Blue sighed deeply, as if he were dealing with children who were too ignorant to comprehend his words. "Don't you understand? There are never enough women to go around when you are brought here, so the men have to share. They suffer if they have to go without sex for that long in this environment. Do you want them to suffer?" He looked around the room, making eye contact with several of the attendees. "Well, do you?"
Like sheep afraid to stand up for themselves, they all began to shake their heads. Valerie didn't respond. She didn't particularly care about the suffering of strange horny men. It was a stupid dream, and therefore no participation was required.
"Now, we haven't much time, as we are running behind schedule. I don't have time to repeat myself. Therefore, we'll take you through orientation quickly and then bring you right to the beginner's gauntlet arena. It's a little quieter than the advanced one. Hopefully you can learn what you need to know along the way."
A woman to Valerie's right, who'd obviously been in the middle of putting make-up on and dressed completely in beige, raised her hand. "How many men are in a group?"
Blue nodded and the frown disappeared as if he'd finally heard a worthy question. "It varies. Never more than seven and no less than four. The average is five."
Valerie looked down at her gray jogging suit, wishing she'd managed to conjure up a nicer outfit for this dream. If she were about to meet men, a sweat suit wasn't exactly the most flattering clothing she could have worn.
Blue was talking again, but Valerie missed it due to her perusal of the unusual fashion statements being made around her. What did her clothing say about her? Was she an exercise geek? She sincerely hoped not.
The nebulous feeling in her brain wouldn't allow her to remember specifics of her life. She guessed it wasn't really important in the dream world.
"...come along now to the next station and all the important facts will be explained in greater detail. You can make your decision then. Stay together. Don't wander off."
Blue headed towards the only door in the room and the other women followed, one after the other, until the room emptied.
Valerie ended up at the end of the line with one of the business-suited ladies directly ahead of her. She followed along down a narrow white hallway, looking all around for a clue as to where she might be. The walls seemed to be constructed of white panels with lights hidden inside. Didn't you usually dream about places that were familiar? Apparently not, because this place was totally alien.
Up ahead on the right, a panel had dislodged as if the wall had been hastily constructed. Through the gap, Valerie could see another hallway and she slowed to peek through. She lost sight of the business suit she was following to wrestle the panel open further.
After a little effort she was through the narrow space and into a much wider hallway. The color of the lights in this hall were varying hues of aqua. She liked this hallway much better. The color was more soothing.
Valerie chose to walk to the left because the hall was longer in that direction, and seemed to go farther. After walking for several minutes, she heard voices. She rounded a corner and plowed into someone.
A tall, male someone.
"I'm sorry. I didn't see you," said a totally luscious, deep male voice over her head. There was another man standing next to him, but Valerie couldn't tear herself away to get a look. The man she'd run into felt too good.
"I don't mind." Valerie grabbed his arms and laid her forehead on his chest. He smelled delicious. Taking a deep breath, she tilted her head up to check out his face. Wide shoulders led to a square jaw and he had a cleft in his chin, too. Focusing in on his vivid, saltwater-blue eyes last of all, she noted that he was completely gorgeous.
Valerie had read somewhere that dreams were thought to be the brain's way of cataloging information gathered during each day of the dreamer's life. She must have seen this hunk at the park or something and filed him away for later dreaming. He'd been worth the wait. Now in this dream, she could do anything that she wanted to with him.
Plus, she had the benefit of a better personality. In dreams she was always funnier, smarter and definitely prettier.
A bemused smile greeted her as she stared. He gripped her shoulders, squeezing gently. "Are you on your way to the gauntlet arena?"
Valerie scrunched her eyebrows. Hadn't that blue alien guy said something about an arena and a gauntlet?
"Is that where you're going?" she asked.
He nodded. "That's where I'm headed."
"Me too. Maybe we could walk together." She was prepared to say anything to keep this guy interested.
He exchanged amused glances with the man standing next to him and asked, "Are you spoken for yet?"
"I don't think so. How would I know for sure?"
"Have you selected any man from the gauntlet arena?"
"No." Valerie frowned. "What's that gauntlet arena thing again?" Better to get her answers from this hunk than a hostile blue alien.
He narrowed his eyes, then explained. "The gauntlet arena is a large room filled with men seeking a partner. When you enter and walk down the gauntlet aisle, the interested men will step forward and try to get your attention." He looked her up and down. "I expect you'll garner a lot of attention."
"Why?" His interested appraisal brought a grin to her lips. In her non-dream life she seldom rated a single look of interest from the men she came into contact with on a day-to-day basis. Attractive men like the man before her never saw her at all.
He smiled in return. "Well, first of all, you're a blonde. It's rare in this place, for some unexplained reason. And second of all," his eyes ran down her body with definite interest once again, "you aren't frighteningly skinny like the majority of the women here."
Valerie frowned and looked down at her crappy jogging suit. And while she'd always dreamed of being frighteningly skinny, she'd also always considered herself pleasingly plump. "Does that mean you think I'm fat?"
His eyes widened with panic. "No. Of course not. I meant absolutely no insult. It's just that the slightly curvier women are, well, more kindhearted in this place." He leaned in and whispered confidentially, "The bony, skinny ones are mean. It's not their fault. It has something to do with the alien vortex process when they're brought aboard."
Alien vortex process? Valerie drilled a look into his beautiful eyes, trying to understand. "How are the skinny chicks mean to you? What do they do?"
He shrugged. "It's their temperament, I guess. They go out of their way to aggravate all around them and especially men, but only after they've selected a group. By then it's too late. The new men here always go for the skinny, mean ones and subsequently they're stuck. Those women with a little meat on their bones are always selected first by the seasoned men here."
Valerie nodded, but didn't quite believe what he said. Her slightly hazy memory, which seemed to fade with each passing moment, recalled an incident very recently where a man she was with had suggested that she should go on a diet.
Even now the feeling of shame washed down her insides in a burning, hurtful rush. She shook her head to dissolve the remembered sting and lifted her eyes to his face. This was her dream, after all. She would control it and she most assuredly didn't want to think about diets.
This man's seductive gaze drilled through to her soul. His face reflected an expression suggesting that he liked what he saw in the deep, dark recesses of her mind.
"The men who have been here a while understand that principle, anyway, and I certainly do." His eyes traveled appreciatively down the rounded figure hidden by the boring jogging suit. "Yep, they're going to love you, all right."
Valerie nodded, released him and brushed her hands down her blah gray jogging shirt, which probably didn't enhance her round body in the least. "So after the interested men select me, then what?"
His gaze narrowed. "Then you select the one man you like best out of those who are interested and he takes you to meet his group."
"Oh yeah, the group. They mentioned the groups when I first got here. How many men are in your group?"
Valerie nodded and smiled. "I hear that's the average."
His eyebrows lifted. "Then if all of us agree you're the one for us, we seal the deal."
Sex? Did 'seal the deal' in this dream mean sex? Of course it did. It was her dream. It could mean whatever she wanted.
Valerie studied the man before her. He had a nice face. A patient face. He was tall and his wavy strawberry-blond hair and general body build reminded her of an Iowa farm boy. He perhaps also had a touch of Irish in his blood. Sexy, as far as she was concerned.
Valerie wanted to ensure she could find this man again. "What's your name?"
"You can call me Hauser."
"I'm Valerie." She reached out and touched his shoulder. She squeezed it. The muscle in his arm was solid, not like in her usual dreams, when you reached for something that you wanted and it vaporized.
He laughed nervously. "Are you sure you're okay, Valerie?"
"So can I just pick you? And you would be one of the men I spent time with here in this place?" She glanced around the sterile hallways where they stood as if someone might witness her molesting his shoulder with prurient intent.
His eyes widened and he looked over at his friend. The other man shook his head. Hauser chuckled and said, "I believe we have to make our selections in the gauntlet arena for it to count."
"Okay. Let's go there. I'd like to choose you. Is that okay?" Valerie ran her hand from his muscled chest to his fine flat abs. He made a sound somewhere between a grunt and a surprised growl. "Will you step up at the gauntlet arena so I can choose you?"
"Yes. I believe I will."
"Excellent." Valerie sighed. She knew she'd wake up before anything 'good' happened, but planned to enjoy this dream for as long as it lasted.
Hauser's smile dissolved and his expression hardened. "You understand what the five of us in our group want, right?"
She laughed. "Yes. You all want sex. I get it."
Hauser exchanged a knowing smile with his friend, who sent his gaze to the ceiling as if in disbelief. Perhaps he was looking for a partner too. The man who accompanied Hauser was attractive in a long-haired, rebel guy sort of way, but Valerie much preferred Hauser.
The three of them strolled down the blue-lit hallway. After two or three turns that completely made her lost, she noticed they now moved towards a group of people. There were several of the painted aliens dressed just like the first alien guy, only these two had green skin and blond hair.
Approaching slowly, Valerie saw that they stood outside a set of over-tall wooden double doors. A line of girls waited for entrance, and each time the door opened to admit one, a rousing cheer went up, cut off only by the door closing.
"So let me get this straight. I wait in line while you go inside. Then when it's my turn to go inside, I walk down the gauntlet, they cheer and then you'll come and get me."
"For the most part, yes, that's right. Keep walking as far as you can, I'll be towards the end of the gauntlet row. They'll be lining the ropes on either side. Sometimes it gets a little crowded by the time you get to the end, but I'll grab your wrist when you get close enough to me. If you still want to be with my group, just touch my skin anywhere. When the crowd clears, declare that you've chosen me."
She reached out and stroked her hand down his arm. "Should I yell out your name?"
Hauser shook his head. "Probably not. We shouldn't have met ahead of time. Some of the other men might complain that I took unfair advantage." He winked.
Mesmerized by his wink, Valerie finally answered, "Oh. Okay."
They were within shouting distance of the group waiting outside the tall doors, but no one had looked up to see them approaching yet. Hauser slowed his stride. "May I ask you a question?"
"If I select you as the mate for my group, how often will you allow sex for each of us?"
Valerie shrugged. "I don't know. What's the average for that sort of thing?" She expected to wake up before any actual sex took place, but she played along.
"The Others think that once every other month is enough."
"That's what we call the multicolored aliens here."
Nodding, she asked, "And sex every other month isn't enough?"
"I've been here for almost two months already. I'm starting to get shaky. I hear at three months I'll want to die."
Valerie sympathized. She didn't want him to suffer for a second. Glancing back at the hallway they'd just come from, she wondered if she could talk him into a quickie in some remote closet. Just looking at him made her want to climb up his body, licking all the way. Given all the rules they seemed to have, she imagined that wouldn't happen. They probably had rules against closets and any licking taking place inside them.
"Hmm. Well, how about twice a month for each guy. What's that, ten times for me each month? I could do that, easy." Besides, it was a dream. Not like she would ever get to have any real sex with this gorgeous guy anyway. She would be on the verge of ecstasy, about to experience multiple orgasmic delights, and then her alarm clock would shrilly ring before the first ripple of climax hit her unsatisfied body.
That was the way her dreams always worked, frustratingly enough.
His eyes widened. "That would be very generous of you."
Valerie shrugged. "If they all look like you, it will be my pleasure." She suspected that even if the others looked like Quasimodo, the elephant man, king of the lepers and Satan, Hauser would still be worth it all on his own. He was a walking advertisement for the kind of insatiable sex appeal she'd only dreamed about. The kind of immediate attraction she'd waited for in her awake life. Could she drag Hauser back through this fabulous dream to her awake life? Likely not.
Hauser winked at her and separated himself before anyone noticed they'd walked down the hall together. He entered a smaller door next to the double doors where all the women in line entered one at a time.
Stepping up to the last woman in the long line, Valerie studied the other females while she waited for her turn. They'd obviously changed clothes. Many were attired in fancy dresses, sported freshly coiffed hair and wore makeup. The majority of them were frighteningly skinny, as Hauser had mentioned.
Valerie looked down at her sweat outfit and suddenly felt sort of foolish. Her hair was pulled away from her face and secured with a gray scrunchy, which matched her equally boring gray cotton jogging suit.
Over her shoulder, she noticed a fresh batch of four women, also dressed up in very fancy clothing, approach to stand in line behind her. She probably should have gone with the initial group to change, but she guessed it didn't matter. Valerie had a guy lined up and Hauser hadn't cared about her clothes. Undoubtedly, sex was more important than fashion from a male perspective. Suddenly, a disturbing thought occurred to her and she hoped Hauser hadn't been teasing her. It wouldn't be the first time a man had stood her up.
The gauntlet arena door opened and another exuberant cheer sounded as the woman in line directly ahead of Valerie disappeared through the tall entryway. She took a long step forward and into the attention of the new alien guy. He glanced up and down her body a few times as if with curiosity. His gaze finally landed on her face with an expression that said although he found her attire completely inappropriate, he didn't want to argue over it or stop the speed of the line to question her.
She broke the ice by speaking before he changed his mind and expressed disapproval of her clothing. "Let me guess, your name is Aqua."
"Correct." One light-blond eyebrow on his aqua-painted face lifted. "Are you ready to make your selection in the gauntlet arena?"
Valerie answered with a hesitant, "Yes," even as unease slid through her veins. Hauser had seemed very interested. She closed her eyes and sent up a little prayer that he wasn't lying about wanting her.
"When I open the door, make your way down the roped off areas. Look for those men you find appealing. Touch the skin of the one you want with your open hand and further instructions will follow."
"Right." Valerie nodded and shrugged as though she'd done this a hundred times before.
Without a further word, Aqua opened the door and ushered her through. Valerie was unprepared for the sheer volume of men in attendance. There must have been hundreds of them and another rousing cheer went up when she crossed the threshold into the large darkened room. She took two steps inside, and the door closed solidly behind her.
Valerie brushed her hands down the sides of her clothes and took a step forward. Perhaps gray sweats were the new black. At least many of the men didn't think she looked stupid. Each man she passed had one of two distinct reactions. They either looked up and down her body and moved forward, trying to get her to come nearer. She guessed they weren't put off by her jogging suit, either. Several other men took one look at her, rolled their eyes and backed away from the roped off areas, allowing others to fill in the empty spots. Apparently, a lot of men fell into the first category of having distinct interest in her gray sweats.
Dismissing them quickly, Valerie searched the crowd for Hauser. She remembered that he'd said he'd be at the end of the row and headed quickly for what she thought was the end of this long line. Searching the hordes of men now closing in, she was panicked when she didn't see him right away. The uneasy feeling of his possible betrayal tugged at her.
The men she passed grabbed at her clothing, screaming at her to pick them. She kept her hands to her sides, but after a few steps the men were snatching at her arms, trying to entice her to touch them. She pulled her elbows in close to her torso and marched forward, looking right and left for the man she'd seen earlier. Didn't he say he would be at the end of the line of men? Where was the end of the line?
Looking down the gauntlet, she revised her opinion from hundreds of men to possibly thousands. She tried not to look into their desperate eyes, but a few launched themselves at her. The space in which she traveled narrowed and the men were able to take hold of her more easily. The hands of several unseen men reached out to caress, tap or smack her for her attention. She couldn't even see faces anymore, just hands attached to arms waving in a frenzy trying to gain her notice.
Panic engulfed her brain. Her heart pounded in her chest. She could barely move forward. Looking over her shoulder, Valerie saw that the path she'd just followed was no better. She was surrounded and she couldn't move. She crossed her arms and tucked her hands against her body, not wanting the flat of her hand to touch someone accidentally.
Male hands attached to unseen bodies were now gripping and yanking at her sweat pants as well as her sweatshirt. A bubble of fear lodged in her chest and a sob escaped her throat.
Where was Hauser?
Valerie stopped very briefly and the men closed in around her. She screamed, but they wouldn't stop. Suddenly, she was being pushed side to side by the massive bodies surrounding her. Valerie was afraid she was being smothered. She tilted her head back and screamed, "Hauser!" Her voice was lost in the din of shouts.
Valerie couldn't move forward any longer. With each and every step, she encountered a leg and no place to put her foot. She started to fall sideways and without meaning to her hand shot out to break her fall.
A firm hand snaked around her wrist the instant it left the safety of her body.
Oh God, someone had hold of her.
* * * *