All this mercenary wants is to kill and loot his way to fame and fortune, but his plans change when a human accidentally steals his heart.

Makl is looking to become the greatest mercenary the universe has known. In true family tradition, he leaves a trail of mayhem and bodies wherever he goes, steals the most priceless of items, ravishes females left and right. But that all ends the day he comes across the biggest prize of all – a human barbarian.

Fooled into thinking her a priceless virgin and captivated by her pale skinned, two-breasted frame, he abducts her, or at least means to. His plan goes somewhat awry. The not-so-innocent human becomes his partner in crime instead of his prisoner, and together they form an unstoppable duo. Tales of their misdeeds and budding passion become a universal sensation, but there’s no room in a mercenary’s life for a mate. Or is there?

For the first time in his life, the Mercenary’s Guide to Prosperity doesn’t have an answer to Makl’s questions, and there’s no visible threat for him to kill. What’s a poor, purple mercenary to do? Admit he’s in love – or ditch the delectable human?

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Publisher: Eve Langlais
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Excerpt:

THE HOLOGRAPHIC MONOCLE over his eye zoomed in on his target. Lying flat on his stomach atop a gently sloped, slightly gritty, surfaced roof, Makl kept his movements to a minimum. Given the various notices prohibiting anyone but those with valid work permits access to his location, he did his best to remain out of sight, not an easy task for a warrior who preferred the limelight. For several galactic units now he’d ignored the rumble in his stomach, the itch in his side, and the one frukxing rock digging into his thigh. He tuned out all the discomforts and distractions a boring stakeout tempted a male with. Nevertheless, a need for surreptitiousness or not, he knew better than to ignore his Aunt Muna’s transmission, the insistent buzzing persistent in his ear.

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“Auntie, to what do I owe the pleasure?” he purred, even as he meticulously noted the placement and rotation of cameras outside the establishment he cased. Also documented in his notes was how many guards patrolled and at what intervals.

“I trust you’re being a good soldier and bringing the family honor?” Aunt Muna didn’t waste time on trivialities such as “Hello,” and, “How are you?”

“Following in the footsteps of the great ones,” he answered as he jotted his findings into his holographic notebook. It and the tool over his eye were some of the best technology he’d ever come across – and stolen.

“In other words, you’re fornicating, thieving, and murdering.”

He couldn’t help but smile at her blunt summary. “As often as I can.”

“Excellent. Keep up the good work. Your mother would have been so proud. If you could, though, in between causing havoc and mayhem, I need you to perform an errand for me.”

“I’m kind of busy at the moment.” Busy planning out his next move and investigating his target, a heist destined to put him at the top of a few wanted lists. He couldn’t wait to see the headshots he’d had professionally taken – by none other than the renowned photographer, Notromus – plastered on wanted posters. After weeks of work with the famed artist, they’d finally come up with a portfolio to be proud of. It took time and skill to achieve just the right look of menace mixed with insouciance. Nothing like projecting the right image when carving his name in to history.

“You’re too busy?” Uh oh. Makl recognized his aunt’s tone. It didn’t bode well. “I’m sorry, did you hear me say you had a choice, or would you prefer I tell Tren you were too occupied to help out family?” Said so sweetly. Too softly.

Big uh oh. Makl swallowed hard. “Maybe I spoke too hastily. Did I hear you say this involves Tren?” Family or not, no one wanted to rile that particular male. Makl’s older cousin tended to kill first and not care after. Tren – a legend in their family – said questions were for the uncertain. Mercenary rule number thirteen.

Aunt Muna cleared her throat. “Tren is caught up in some important affairs currently or he’d take care of this himself. I think it’s a great honor he’s willing to trust you with this task.”

The high and mighty, infamous former mercenary, now turned cutthroat politician, needed his help? Makl’s chest expanded several units. “Of course I’m available to aid him. Family comes first.”

“Excellent answer.”

“So what am I required for?” Assassination? Kidnapping? Hostage situation? Ooh, hopefully an extremely difficult acquisition of a top-secret scientific breakthrough. Makl loved a challenge, and the gadgets such endeavors brought.

“It’s a highly sensitive mission of utmost importance.”

Makl paused in his note-taking, intrigued.

“Possibly dangerous.”

Sounded promising.

“It’s not something we can ask of anyone else.”

Better and better. Makl almost held his breath as he waited for her to get to the point.

“We need you to fetch a nanny.”

Removing his earpiece, Makl blew on it, rubbed it on his shirt, wiggled a finger in his ear, then returned the hearing unit to his ear. “Excuse me, Auntie? I think I must have misunderstood. Could you repeat the mission?”

“You need to fetch us a nanny.”

He took a moment to process her words, looking for a hidden meaning. He came up with nothing. “Nanny, as in someone who cares for an infant?”

“Of course. Do you know of any other type?” His aunt’s exasperation came through loud and clear.

Well, excuse him, but the mission still made no sense. “Why would you need me to hire a nanny? I have no bastards.” At least none that he was aware of.

“Not for you, idiot. For Tren.”

“He was careless enough to leave bastards behind? I’ll bet his mate isn’t happy about that.” He’d met Megan, the shrill human who was insane enough to marry his cousin, and had to admit he didn’t see the attraction to the pale-skinned barbarian. Not that he’d mention that to his cousin’s face, not if he wanted to live.

“We don’t need a nanny for anyone’s bastards. The position is for his heir who has the mightiest lungs and temper I’ve ever seen. He’ll be the greatest warrior ever when he grows up.” Aunt Muna practically gushed and Makl bit back a growl.

I will be the greatest warrior, once I get my name and face out there. His determination to succeed might have made him a little more brash than usual with his aunt, that and the several star systems separating them. “You want me to drop everything to fetch a nanny for Tren’s whelp? Are you still in possession of your faculties, Auntie? Do I need to speak to my uncle about putting you on some medication?” He regretted his blithe answer as soon as it left his lips.

“Do you need me to show you how not to talk back to your elders?” she replied sweetly. “Again.”

No. Not again. Once was enough, thank you. He never did manage to rid himself of the scars from the last time she taught him some manners. Aunt Muna took her role as female guardian after his mother died very seriously. When she spoke, everyone ran. It kept them in shape.

He gave in, just not gracefully. “So what am I looking for? Something with lots of arms, no sense of smell, and more patience than is normal?”

“We tried that. We got an eight-armed Gunilian hummer. She went hoarse. The five-armed and deaf Answuya ran off in tears. We need something more drastic than that, which is why we require your services. You have to fetch us a human nanny.”

A human? As in forbidden by some powerful entities, living on the other side of the frukxing universe, barbarian status human? By the stars, how fascinating. And dangerous. “Humans are off limits. You know it’s punishable by death to get caught pirating them.”

“Are you afraid of a measly sentence like that? You know Tren had over six thousand crimes stacked against him by the time he retired. It took forever to clear the paperwork on them once he ascended to his position on the galactic council.”

Way to throw Tren’s daunting success in his face. Makl still worked on his first thousand. Make that first five hundred. Apparently, some of his kills weren’t flamboyant enough to merit attention. “You want a human, I’ll get you a human. What’s the payment?”

“My thanks.”

She expected him to work for free? He gnashed his sharpened teeth. “A generous gift. And from Tren?”

Aunt Muna snorted.

Yeah, Tren would never frukxing thank him, not with words or credits. It just wasn’t his way, but he might hold off killing him if Makl accidentally got on his bad side – which he tended to inadvertently do quite often. Looks like I’m going to fetch a barbarian. As if Makl possessed a choice. Free job or not, he’d do what his aunt asked because he liked – and feared – her.

He sighed. “How soon do you need it?”

“You mean her? Yesterday.”

“Anything else I need to know? Qualities I should look for?”

“How the frukx should I know? Just find us a human female to care for the child. Megan’s doing her best, but she’s only one person and this child is demon possessed, bless his mighty heart.”

Makl made one last ditch effort to avoid the task. “You do realize I’m nowhere near that galaxy.”

“Then you better get moving. This errand is of utmost importance.” Aunt Muna shouted the last bit over the strident screams of a baby. Ripping the earpiece from his head, Makl winced as the howl bounced around inside his skull. Good lungs indeed.

Pocketing his earpiece, he turned his attention back to the building he’d studied over the course of the last few days. He was finished here now. No point in observing it any further, not when he’d have to return at a later time to finish the job. And all because of a stupid errand – a free, no glory, no credits errand – he couldn’t refuse.

Pocketing his tools, he climbed down from the building he’d scaled, people not daring to say a word despite him obviously being up to no good. Cowards. What did a miscreant have to do in order to get noticed? With a snarl on his lips, he made his way to street level and grumbled under his breath as he stalked through the marketplace.

Sent on an errand indeed. Did his Aunt Muna not realize he had more important things to do than to fetch a nanny for his stupid cousin? He was meant to do great things. Dastardly deeds, not act the part of errand boy. What was so hard about placing an ad and conducting interviews until someone could be found to care for the spawn created by his egotistical cousin Tren and his barbarian female? Next thing he knew, they’d ask him to buy toys, or mind the child. How degrading.

Tren should find his own human. He’d already accidentally abducted one, his mate, Megan. How hard could it be for him to mistakenly kidnap a second?

Although, the idea of flouting the laws and brazenly going to the barbarian planet to steal a female did sound like fun. Earth was considered off limits, not that everyone obeyed that particular edict. Disregarding the strictly enforced law might get him some recognition if word got around.

While his reputation as a fighter was building, Makl still had a ways to go before he came out from under the shadow of his numerous cousins. The frukxing jerks. The problem with being born in an illustrious family known for its misdeeds universe-wide was standing out. Everything he did had already been done before, and in many cases more flamboyantly – as family and officials liked to remind him.

But not for long. Soon I’ll do something so crazy, so clever, they won’t have a choice but to see what a mighty mercenary I am. Even if he had to go on a murderous rampage to achieve it.

The bazaar was in full swing as he blended back into the crowd. Clad in a shadowy grey cape that swirled around his frame, the tip of it reaching the tops of his boots, he glared at those in his path. Most moved out of his way. Those that didn’t? He wisely left the bigger, meaner looking ones alone. Tough and seeking to make a name for himself didn’t mean Makl engaged in stupid battles –unless someone offered him the right price. Mercenary rule number one: don’t fight unless you’re getting paid. If it didn’t give you credits, then why waste the effort and chance of an injury? Of course, exceptions to the rule existed. Rule number eight stated no tolerance for insults or slurs. While number fifteen, which he personally felt should have been a sub-clause to number eight, advocated revenge at all cost.

Some might mock the rules of mercenary living, but Makl studied them religiously, memorizing his handbook – A Mercenary’s Guide to Prosperity.Creased and worn, the mercenary rule book was a present from his father who’d seen how Makl idolized Tren. What male didn’t? As a child and a teen, he’d hear about the exploits of his great cousin. The big and mean male brought massive amounts of honor and riches to their house, but what Makl truly coveted was the shining adulation in everyone’s eyes whenever his deeds were recounted.

Makl wanted that glory, to bring that smile of pride to his family’s face. It was why he worked so hard to achieve evil success and why he lived by the mercenary rules. With the mantras he lived by guiding his steps and his fortune, he gained notoriety. He also still lived to fight another day and his credit account grew. Now if only he could achieve a big score. Something to really make him the number-one-wanted-male in the universe.

He’d hoped to accomplish that here. And he still would, just not today, apparently. Stupid frukxing family.

Grumbling some more, Makl headed toward his favorite brothel, determined to relieve his cock before undertaking the stupidly long voyage to the planet Earth. Rule number five – keep your cock exercised lest lust cloud your judgment. Makl took this dictum very seriously, most males he knew did. Prone to long space voyages, often alone or with a handful of other males, all good mercenaries spent a good chunk of time and their fortune when docked emptying their cocks. Each time Makl came, he could swear he felt himself getting more clear-headed and smarter, so was it any wonder he never neglected this part of his training?

Intent on attaining that state of clarity, he did his best to ignore the booths of wares. Not an easy task. Tasseled and painted with bright colors, displaying riches and rarities from around the universe, everything served to distract – and tempted his twitching fingers. Spices, their aromas lifting the mood in some cases, dulling the spirit in others. Gems and jewelry, some with boulder-sized stones to please even the most avarice minded of mistresses, gleamed. Stalls with displays of fabric so bright it hurt the eyes, in more colors than the universe intended, were hard to view without the protection of glasses. But it was the noise that was the worst. Everything seemed to pile together to create an unpleasant rumble of sound. Even some of the delicate finery added to the cacophony. How, you ask? In the Obsidian galaxy, legal or not, you could find actual living, breathing skeins of silk. You heard that right. Living fabric existed, very rare, forbidden, and expensive, but ridiculously comfortable, or so he’d heard. At least the tissue stopped screaming once the seamstresses finished their stitching and cutting the illegal stuff into a garment. Although, Makl had heard the occasional whimper when he removed a more delicate piece with his teeth.

But he digressed. Not a good idea amidst the madness of the market where the hundreds of voices begged listening, movement bore watching, and danger possibly sneaked up on him. He hoped. In a place like this, there were always predators looking to make victims of the newcomers. The weak.

Makl didn’t fall into that category. Strong as any alien present – for his weight class – he didn’t doubt his ability to prevail. Although, keeping his hunger in check? His belly rumbled at the smells… Mmm, the temptation to gorge himself almost slowed his steps. Food abounded all around, freshly made and enhanced to tempt every palette. Some were upfront kiosks, hawking their steaming or smoking dishes. In some cases, the decadent aromas sifted out from restaurants in the tightly packed buildings where one took the chance of becoming part of the menu. No one ever starved in the marketplace where every hunger could be fed, legal or not.

In the center of all the aisles of chaos, winding streets intentionally built to funnel traffic, an open area existed, but was crowded at the moment. An auction was obviously in progress, which meant no getting across quickly to the other side. Stupid design. Either he waited it out, or he had to back track and take a more circuitous path, which would totally cut into his fornicating time.

Not for the first time, Makl wished he’d not gotten booted from the Hairy Dual Cleft on this side of the plaza. Alas, combining his business – the messy kill of a space captain whose wife caught him cheating – and his pleasure – a lovely gal he should have probably paid in retrospect – meant he now had to travel a little farther to ease his sexual needs.

An unmarried male had two choices in the cities he visited: take his chances with a female fighter, or find a whore. Females of the races most compatible to his kind were for some reason always scarcer than the males. Odd, but true, unless you counted the Zonian planet where a violent female class held sway. But no sane male ever went there expecting to leave alive.

Too many beings with cocks meant laws existed to protect the females, from strangers at least. Single women were not to be bothered under penalty of death. Fathers took their role as chaperone seriously, but the mothers were fanatic. Virginity went for a high price, and seeing as how there were always males seeking mates to birth their own sons, a family could make a pretty penny with the right marriage or sale.

Only a stupid warrior messed with a prized virgin. Makl didn’t need to rub his posterior to remember the errors of his way. So whores it was, seeing as how the female fighters he’d encountered could often pass for men – shudder. And since the Hairy Dual Cleft fiasco, Makl even remembered to pay his sexual partners and tip them – with credits instead of just orgasms.

As he stood on the edge of the crowd, debating whether to wait or skirt the disturbance, he finally took note of the sight on stage.

“I’ll be frukxed,” he muttered.

It seemed the minor goddess of Karma – from the lost galaxy no one could remember – was smiling his way because standing on the raised dais, dressed in a floor-length cloak, head bowed, hands clasped, was a human, or so the announcer claimed as he extolled her many virtues. What a long list of attributes – trained dancer, accomplished chef, a player of nine instruments – the demure human came with a certificate vouching for her maidenhead, which would make her fetch a hefty price.

Not that Makl planned to pay for her.

As the Galactic Avenger, he would take her from right under her new owner’s nose. And maybe laugh while he did it. He didn’t think Tren or Jaro ever did that. Tren usually glowered. Jaro gave people a toothy grin. Makl would chuckle menacingly. Or should he just smile coldly? He really needed to decide on his look so people would have something to talk about when they recounted his daring deeds. But he got ahead of himself. First, he needed to acquire a certain human.

Settling on an expression of bored disinterest, he skulked on the edge of the crowd, noting who seemed most intent on bidding, sizing up the competition. It vaguely occurred to him that his Aunt Muna probably wouldn’t approve of him hiring a virgin trained in the finest of the erotic arts, but then again, she didn’t give him exactly much of a list. Besides, surely a female trained to deal with difficult men should have no problem handling a baby.

And it would save him the cost of a trip to the outer reaches…

If the whole virgin thing was a problem, Makl knew of a way to get rid of it. And save hard earned credits in the process.

Could his luck get any better?

It could. Makl’s exhale of breath halted as the female on stage lifted her head, the delicate draping of cloth over her hair framing a perfectly oval face. Sporting two eyes, one nose and a set of lips like him but in a pinkish hue, she was enchanting. Pure. Perfect. Her skin…ooh her skin gleamed a pale, icy white. It contrasted nicely with her dark, delicately arched brows and her full, kissable lips. How easy to imagine her flesh as a light foil for his dark purple tone. The thought was enough to make his cock stir.

Yet, her delicate beauty wasn’t the only thing that drew him. Eyes of velvety chocolate – a decadent sweet treat he’d stumbled across a time or two– big and startled, stared at him, and he ogled her right back. Maybe this whole nanny thing wouldn’t end up such a chore after all. By abducting the human on stage, he would shave days off his schedule. He could even take his time, to save fuel of course, and add several galactic revolutions to his trip back to Aunt Muna’s. Plenty of time to deflower the virgin and ruin her for all other males. Megan would probably thank him.

I’ll be a frukxing hero. In more ways than one.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:on USA Today:

Eve Langlais' Alien Abduction series has become my guilty pleasure. Purple has always been my favorite color, and Eve writes hot alien heroes and feisty heroines like no other.

on Night Owl Reviews:

A top pick. " I enjoyed this as much as the previous books, laughed out loud on more than one occasion, and just generally enjoyed the snarkiness as well as the steam. A good read."