Jessica Coulter Smith

Bringing you Happily-Ever-Afters and Knights on White Horses

 

Pregnant and alone, Lydia is doing the best she can. With a little nudge from her new friend, Carrie, she goes to the Interstellar Love Agency to see if maybe there's an alien out there who could be the perfect match for her, She may not be lucky in love when it comes to human men, but maybe all she's needed is a little intergalactic love. 

Gryf has wanted a mate since meeting his brother's new wife and son. The agency has yet to pair him with anyone, but it doesn't stop him from making frequent visits to see if he can push things along. When he sees Lydia, standing uncertainly in the doorway, he knows that she's the one.

As Lydia fights to find her footing in a new life, Gryf does his best to support her in whatever way she'll allow. Things heat up quickly between them and before long, Lydia finds herself falling in love with the big, blue alien. But should she really be dating her boss? 

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EXCERPT

Lydia swiped her bangs out of her eyes as she punched the customer’s order into the register. Blenders were buzzing on the counter behind her and the three industrial sized coffee makers were perking next to them. The burst of steam coming from the machine in the corner made her eye twitch. Two weeks. Two long weeks of being a barista at Espress Yourself and she was ready to throw in the towel, except she desperately needed a paycheck.

There had been just enough money in her account to pay for a studio apartment and furniture. She’d had a little extra cash for groceries and gas. As much as she hated her job, she needed the nine dollars an hour that it paid. It wasn’t that Espress Yourself was a bad place to work, but she sucked at being a barista. When she brewed the coffee, something always went wrong and it came out more like sludge or would be too light and have grounds floating in it. And no matter how many times she made a mocha latte with caramel drizzle, she always put in not enough mocha and too much caramel.

“That will be seven dollars and forty-two cents,” she told the customer with a forced smile.

“How about I give you ten and you keep the change.”

Her eyebrows rose. “Thank you. My team will appreciate the tip.”

He leaned his elbows on the counter. “Why don’t you give me your number and let me take you out to dinner?”

And there it was. It wasn’t the first time she’d been hit on since taking this job and she doubted it would be the last. If it weren’t for the fact her rapidly growing breasts kept pushing the limits of her work shirts, maybe she could go a day without some asshole thinking she needed a date.

“Thank you, but we aren’t allowed to date the customers.” She smiled to soften the blow.

He reached out and stroked the hand she’d braced on the counter. “No one would have to know but us.”

“Exactly. I would know that I was breaking company policy. You don’t want me to get fired do you?” And it was time for the grand finale. She took a step back, away from the register, and ran a hand over her rounding stomach. “I need a paycheck to take care of my baby.”

His eyes bugged out and he backed up. “Yeah, uh…you’re right. You definitely shouldn’t break the rules.”

He snatched his receipt from Lydia’s hand and beat a hasty retreat to the end of the counter to wait for his drink. With a sigh of resignation, she stepped back up to the register and smiled at the next customer. Being female, she couldn’t help but admire his partially exposed chest and strong forearms. she really had a thing for arms.

He cleared his throat and Lydia blushed, realizing she’d been caught staring.

“What can I get for you?” she asked.

He smiled an easy smile and her gaze caressed his green skin. He was definitely a Kilion, and if she wasn’t mistaken, there was a Liptu behind him. Aliens had been part of her reality for a while now, but she still had to adjust to seeing them doing something as ordinary as ordering coffee.

“I’ll take a large coffee. Black.”

Lydia nodded and rang it up, gave him the total, and hoped he wouldn’t tell her boss she’d been checking him out. She accepted his credit card, swiped it, then handed it back along with his receipt.

“I’ll get your coffee for you,” she said, turning her back toward him and heading over to the coffee machine. She paused after she picked up a large cup and looked over her shoulder. “Dark roast or medium?”

“Dark.”

Lydia filled the cup, popped a plastic lid on it, and carried it back over to the sexy alien. Truth be told, she had yet to see an alien who wasn’t sexy. They looked like rainbow colored GQ models, in her opinion. She’d be willing to bet there were ripped abs under that shirt. God, she hoped she wasn’t drooling.

She handed him the cup and smiled at the alien behind him, startling momentarily at the woman and child with him. She’d heard the aliens were here seeking mates, and had even looked up the Interstellar Love Agency that specialized in matching human females with alien males—out of curiosity, of course—but she’d never seen any of the local aliens out with their families.

The little boy was adorable and she addressed him first. “And what can I get for you?”

His cheeks flushed and he glued himself to his mother’s leg. Too precious!

The woman smiled at her. “Our son will have a hot chocolate and a blueberry muffin, and I’d like a small skinny, decaf, caramel Frappuccino.”

The alien with her pulled out his wallet. “I’ll just take a black coffee. Medium roast.”

“Size?” Lydia asked.

“Large. I’m going to need all the caffeine I can get to keep up with these two.”

Lydia smiled and finished ringing up the order, gave him his total, then swiped his card. She filled out the cups, asking for names, and then got the alien his coffee. And so it went, one order after another for the rest of the morning. By the time eleven rolled around, her feet were aching and her back felt like it might snap in half at any moment. She clocked out and got her lunch out of the staff refrigerator in the break room.

She nearly groaned in relief as she sank into the hard, plastic chair. Anything was better than standing. Even though she was starving, she ate her lunch slowly. She’d learned the hard way that scarfing down her food resulted in heartburn and sometimes an upset stomach. This pregnancy did not agree with her! Lydia felt a little flutter in her stomach and she smoothed a hand over her baby bump. Twenty weeks until she’d get to hold her baby. Twenty weeks of backaches, foot aches, swollen ankles, and weird cravings—ketchup on mashed potatoes? Or even better…ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, slaw, and BBQ baked beans on hot dogs—and so much more. At least the nausea had lessened. Certain smells still got to her, but she was no longer throwing up all day every day.

A magazine on the table caught her attention and she pulled it closer. No, not a magazine…was this a catalog for the dating agency? A stunning orange alien graced the cover and she flipped it open. Aliens of all colors and descriptions were shown inside, along with what they were seeking in a mate. A few even said they were open to marrying someone who already had children, which made Lydia pause.

Her baby moved again and she rubbed her belly. When she’d discovered she was pregnant, and had tracked it back to the night of the frat party, her friend, Lauren, had talked her into attending, she determined that she was finished with men. But what if alien men were different from human men? What if they weren’t pretentious assholes who only thought of themselves? Her gaze scanned the booklet again. If she went to the dating agency and was paired with one of these men, would they really accept her in her pregnant state? Was it possible she could still give her child a father, and give herself someone who might actually care about her, someone who wanted to walk beside her instead of dragging her along behind on a leash?

Carrie plopped down into the chair across from her. “I see you found my book. You look…intrigued.”

“Just thinking.”

Carrie smirked. “You’re doing more than that. You’re going to go talk to them, aren’t you?”

Lydia shrugged. “It wouldn’t hurt just to see what they have to say. I’m done with human men, but maybe aliens are different. When I found out about my baby, I gave up on ever finding happiness with a man. But what if I can?”

“I know the perfect one for you.” Carrie smiled even wider and flipped through the book until she landed on a full-page layout of what had to be the most gorgeous man Lydia had ever seen. “He’s Liptu and he’s open to a relationship with a single mom. That would be you.”

Lydia traced the curve of his jaw on the glossy page. “He’s…breathtaking. I have a hard time picturing a man like that having difficulties finding a date.”

“He doesn’t, but he’s done with casual dating and wants the happy relationship his brother found.” Carrie snorted. “Trust me, he was something of a man-whore until that revelation.”

Lydia reverently touched the ad again. “If you know him so well, why don’t you go out with him?”

“Because I’m not his type.” Carrie grinned bigger. “But you totally are.”

“I don’t think I’d have any say in who they paired me with if I applied at the dating agency. It’s not like I can carry this magazine in there and say ‘I want him.’”

“Why not?”

“I’m not window shopping for a puppy, Carrie. Besides, just because he’s gorgeous doesn’t mean we’ll get along. He looks so well put together and I’m…not. Not to mention he looks rich, and rich men stay away from poor women like me. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had to sign some sort of agreement before I could even go on a date with him, something that says I won’t try to take his money.”

Carrie rolled her eyes. “He’s really down to Earth. He’s not an asshole, and even though he has money and doesn’t mind throwing it around, he’s still just a guy, Lydia. Like all men, he responds to a warm smile from a woman. The fact you’re genuinely nice would be more important to him than your wallet.”

Lydia chewed on her bottom lip.

“Come on,” Carrie wheedled. “You know you want to go check it out. And even if you don’t take the magazine with you, even if you aren’t paired with Gryf, it doesn’t mean you won’t find some great guy who will appreciate you and love the baby like his own.”

“I haven’t dated since I found out about the baby. I don’t know if I can trust a guy right now.”

No one knew the story behind her pregnancy, and she had no doubt that once a potential boyfriend heard the tale, he’d run the other way. It was one thing to accept another man’s child, but…Lydia sighed. Her secret wasn’t exactly small. She wanted to trust someone, to fall in love, but what if she couldn’t?