Celeste and the Alien Bartender
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genres: Sci-fi Romance
Themes: Alien Encounter
Series: Intergalactic Brides (#8)
Length: 100 pages
Cover Artist: Karen Fox
A desperate mother. A determined alien. And a romance neither expected.
Zanar has made himself a home on Earth, where he owns Stardust Bar, popular with both aliens and humans. There’s only one thing missing from Zanar’s life. Despite his best efforts to impress the human females he meets, he’s still without a mate. At the age of twenty-six, it isn’t imperative for him to pair off and start a family just yet, but he’s lonely and ready to settle down. The last thing he expects is for Celeste to come into his life and turn it upside down.
After having been abducted by an alien race five years ago, Celeste is back on Earth. She’s spent those years as a slave on the planet Vaaden, where she had a precious daughter with her owner, Pynder. But when Pynder dies suddenly, his parents swoop in and snatch Sophie from Celeste’s arms before banishing her from their world. Celeste will do anything to get her daughter back, but falling in love with a bartender — or anyone else — was never part of the plan.
PRE-ORDER LINKS (for January 27th release)
“I didn’t know how fancy the hotel restaurant was,” Celeste said, smoothing a hand over her dress from earlier that morning. “Is this okay, or should I change?”
“You’re perfect,” he said softly, and she could tell he meant it.
Her cheeks warmed, and she took his outstretched hand, letting him lead her to the restaurant. Her mother trailed behind them, giving them some time alone. Celeste tightened her grip on Zanar’s hand as they entered the restaurant, which to her looked pretty swanky. The tables were draped with white tablecloths, and a single rose was in a vase in the middle of every table. The strains of a quartet could be heard even from the entryway.
“Zanar, I really think I should change.”
“Relax, Celeste. I think you look beautiful, and I’m sure every man in the room will agree with me. Stop worrying about what other people think.” He stared down at her. “Do you feel pretty in your dress?”
She hesitated only a moment before she nodded.
“Then that’s all that matters.” He smiled. “Never let someone else’s opinion dictate how you feel about yourself or others. Always be true to yourself and everything else will fall into place.”
“You truly believe that?” she asked.
“I do. But if makes you feel better, I would never lie to you. When I tell you that you’re beautiful, I mean it.”
She warmed at his praise and couldn’t stop the smile that spread across her lips. She glanced at her mother and saw that Zanar was quickly winning both of their hearts. He really was almost too perfect. There had to be a flaw somewhere, but she hadn’t found it just yet.
They were seated and given menus. A waiter appeared almost instantly to take their drink order and then vanished as silently as he’d arrived. Celeste was a little overwhelmed with the menu choices, and worried when she didn’t see prices listed. It might have been a long time since she’d been on Earth, but even she knew that meant the place was expensive. She didn’t know how much a bartender made, but this seemed like an unneeded extravagance.
“Zanar, maybe we should go somewhere else.”
His eyebrows rose. “You don’t see anything you like?”
“It’s not that.” She worried her lower lip with her teeth.
“I think what my daughter is trying to say is that this place is too expensive,” her mother said. “After being off world for so long, she’d be just as content with fast food as she would shrimp and lobster.”
“I see.” He smiled a little. “If you’re worried I can’t afford this place, don’t be. I may not be as rich as some of my friends, but I’m not hurting for money. The Stardust does good business and I own my house, so I don’t have to pay rent or a mortgage every month. I also own the bar, so aside from the usual monthly expenses it doesn’t cost much to keep the place going.”
Her mother nudged her. “In other words, he’s a good provider should you decide to give him a chance.”
Zanar cleared his throat, and his cheeks flushed a darker purple. She found it charming that her mother could unnerve him. Even when she’d lived on Earth, it hadn’t been often that she’d seen a man blush. She’d figured someone in his line of work had seen and heard everything and wouldn’t be flustered by much. Somehow, it made him a little more human to her, even though she knew there wasn’t a drop of human blood in him.
“What brought you to Earth?” Celeste asked.
“My brother is a rather revered warrior on my world, and so is my father. I do well enough in combat, but my talents lie elsewhere. I can take a failing business and make it thrive in a short amount of time, but there’s not much use for that skill on my world. When I saw that some of my people were settling on Earth, I decided to give it a try. I figured it couldn’t be any worse than being at home.”
“So, you left your family behind?” her mother asked.
“I still speak with my parents on the Vid-comm rather frequently. What do you humans say? I was the black sheep of the family. While I miss my family, I know that my time is better spent here. At least on Earth, I have a chance at finding a mate.”
“I’ve read articles about the Terrans,” her mother said. “There’s a shortage of females on your world, right?”
He nodded. “My generation has been all male. We don’t understand exactly what happened, but it’s been necessary to find females outside of our race to ensure our survival. Humans are the most compatible.” He smiled. “And the most beautiful.”
“How exactly did the Terran stations come about?” Celeste asked. “So much has happened since I’ve been gone. When I was captured, I didn’t even know aliens existed, and now you’re walking among us, running businesses, getting married. It’s almost too much to take in.”
“My planet made an agreement with Earth’s government. In exchange for our protection should Earth be attacked, we were allowed to open a bride exchange in different locations around your world. Women would take a series of tests, were paid a fee, and then were shipped to my world where they would find a match.”
“And the stations were where those tests are administered?”
“Yes, and they were also where the shuttles would land and take off. Things evolved quickly, and our stations grew, with more and more of our males coming here. Now it’s common to find my kind on your world, and it keeps the monsters at bay. A few friendly alien races have reached out to us and Earth to share in the bride exchange and negotiations are still ongoing. Some races have already been accepted, and you may see them from time to time at the different stations, but they don’t roam the cities as much.”
It seemed so surreal to Celeste. When the Vaadens had taken her and she’d woken as a captive on another world, it had been a complete nightmare. It was hard to imagine living side by side with other alien races, and living in harmony. She supposed it only made sense that not all aliens were alike, just like all humans weren’t. Thinking that Terrans and whatever other races were out there were the same as Vaadens wasn’t fair. Zanar was proving that some aliens could be trusted.
“So, you only have one brother?” her mother asked.
“Yes, and we’re very different. Ryx is a few years older than I am, and he’s very serious about his position on my world. He claimed one of the first humans to be part of the bride program, and they seem happy enough. Unfortunately, they haven’t had children as of yet, which I think frustrates him.” Zanar shrugged. “I think my parents are now relying on me to make them grandparents. It’s the one thing my mother wants most.”
“Are you actively seeking a mate?” her mother asked.
“Not exactly. I’ve been on dates since coming here, but I just never clicked with anyone. We’d share a meal and then go our separate ways.”
Her mother smirked. “Handsome guy like you, I’m sure there was a bit more to it than that.”
He flushed again. “Yes, well… it’s been quite a while since I’ve been with a woman. I decided I was finished with casual sex and would wait for my mate, however long it took to find her.”
“And are you getting any closer to finding her?” her mother asked.
His gaze zeroed in on Celeste. “I think I may be.”
1. Snakes on a Plane by Cobra Starship
2. I’m Gonna Be by The Proclaimers
3. Blank Space by Taylor Swift
4. Marines’ Hymn by Madison Rising
5. Give Me Novacaine by Green Day
6. Picture to Burn by Taylor Swift
7. Cool Kids by Echosmith
8. Applause by Lady GaGa
9. Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
10. Timber by Pitbull & Kesha
11. Lips are Movin’ by Meghan Trainor
12. The Monster by Eminem
13. Whistle by Flo Rida
14. Wild Thing by Tone Loc
15. Love the Way You Lie by Eminem
16. Scream & Shout by Will.I.Am
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith has been in love with the written word since she was a child writing her first stories in crayon. Today she’s a multi-published author of over seventy-five novellas and novels. Romance is an integral part of her world and spills over from her professional life into her personal one. When she went on that first date with her husband, she never expected to hear the words “Marry me!” pop out of his mouth – and judging by the shocked look on his face, he hadn’t meant to say them either. But, being the hopeless romantic that she is, Jessica said yes and they’ve been married since 2000.
Jessica firmly believes that love will find you at the right time, even if Mr. Right is literally out of this world. She’s often gazed at the stars and wondered what, or who, else might be out there. Who’s to say that hunky model on the hottest romance bestseller isn’t really from some far off galaxy? Maybe that blue Martian you saw at Halloween wasn’t really in costume. After all, there’s an awful lot of space out there for us to be the only ones living in it.