About Flint: Dragon Lords Book 9 (Intergalactic Dating Agency)
Dragon lord Flint's hunger for excitement leads him to Intergalactic Dating Agency: Adventures who promise to find him a mate who matches his own fiery desires.
Human Liza has no idea aliens exist – or that she's been talking to an alien dating agency for months, pouring her hear out about her abusive home life. When she finally begs for help, Flint's right there… but she has no idea why. And when he teleports her away from home she's sure she's being abducted.
In her desperate bid to escape, Liza sends them hurtling down to a dangerous watery planet full of monsters eager to eat her… or worse. Liza refuses to rely on any man, even if her accidental kidnapper is a better option than a wild water dragon. But as she and Flint are thrown closer together, sparks and flames fly amidst the chaos. Soon Liza's questioning whether she wants to go home again.
Maybe abduction isn't such a bad thing, after all.
Erica's side of the bedroom looked like a bomb had gone off. Even a month after her sister's escape, the place was a mess. And Liza was starting to admit to herself that Erica wasn't coming back. She had her boyfriend Troy now. She was safe.
Downstairs, the door slammed, and Liza flinched. Her dad was home. But maybe he wouldn't realize that she was . She kept folding the clothes that Erica had left behind, moving around on light feet. The floorboards had an annoying habit of creaking, betraying them to her father's anger at night when she was supposed to be asleep. But it was three PM. Not even the most irrational man could think she’d gone to bed.
There was something hard in the pocket of an old pair of Erica's jeans. Liza reached in, and her fingers brushed against cool metal. She pulled it out, and her heart twisted. The cheap silver bracelet didn't look like much. The clasp was tarnished, and one of the charms had already fallen off.
Liza had scrimped and saved to afford the thing for Erica's sixteenth birthday. Her sister loved shiny things. She'd found a piece of obsidian rock somewhere and kept it on her nightstand like a talisman since they were children.
The rock was gone. The bracelet was here. Erica didn't care enough to take it when she moved out.
Liza's fist curled around the cheap metal, threatening to bend the edges of the charm, and she squeezed her eyes shut before they could do something stupid like start to tear up. It was a cheap bracelet. So what if Erica had forgotten about it?
All of Liza's life, she'd been determined to keep her little sister safe. And now she was. For some value of safe. Troy wasn't the kind of guy Liza would have wished for her sister. He worked at the factory with their dad. He liked going to the bar. And she had seen a sly grin on his face more than once before he and Erica started dating.
But she hadn't tried to stop Erica from leaving. Not when it meant escaping this house.
“Liza! Get your ass down here now!” The thunderous roar of her father's voice made her freeze in place. Liza set the bracelet down on the side table and took three seconds and two deep breaths before hurrying down the stairs.
Dad didn't sound drunk, and she wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing. He'd been drinking more lately. Coming in at all hours, driving down the roads and putting everyone's life in danger. But when he was at the bar, he wasn't home and that made him someone else's problem.
Her father stood in the kitchen, a dangerous look on his face. “How dare you leave this mess in here! I keep a roof over your head. I expect a little respect.” He jammed his finger at the countertop, and Liza's heart sank.
She hadn't noticed the ring on the counter from her coffee mug earlier. She was usually better than that, but she'd been distracted by something stupid. Some stupid dream that wasn't going to get her anything.
“And what about this mess the sink?” He nodded toward the basin.
There were two dishes. Both of them from her father's breakfast. Why was she so damn stupid? She knew he got like this. It didn't take anything to set him off, and it was easy as hell to load the dishwasher.
Liza lowered her gaze and felt her shoulders slump. “I'm sorry, sir. I'll do it right now.” Her father stalked away, making an angry sound in the back of his throat. He didn't touch her. He didn't hit. He wasn't that mean. But sometimes he got too close. Sometimes he held on to her arm a little too long, his grip a little too tight. Rarely did he leave bruises. She knew he could.
She had to get out of here.
It only took two minutes to tidy up the kitchen, and as she went to throw away a used paper towel, her eyes snagged on something in the wastebasket.
The job fair.
She snatched the flyer out of the trash and wiped off some of the coffee grounds that were starting to stay in it. Luckily, none of those landed on the floor, where there would be hell to pay.
Harper Forest Valley Job Fair. Saturday, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Entry-level positions available. Walk in and get hired.
She wasn't stupid. The kind of jobs they were offering there weren't going to pay much. But she didn't need much. Rent in the Valley wasn't too bad. She just needed out of this house.
And she wasn't going to depend on some guy like Troy—or her father—to give her a new home.
She'd grabbed the flyer on a whim while she was out picking up groceries last week. Her dad didn't want her working. Why let his daughter work when he could have a maid at home?
But Erica was gone.
Liza could finally get out. All she had to do was go on Saturday. All she had to find was a place that would be happy to hire a twenty-four-year-old with no work history and nothing more than a high school education. Easy.
It would be okay. She could make it work.
Her father stepped back into the room and she didn't hide the flyer fast enough.
“You're going to start paying rent next month,” he snarled at her, finger pointed like a weapon. “You don't pay a cent, you don't clean up, and I've been feeding you for free for too long. You have to start carrying your own weight. One thousand bucks on the first of the month. You pay me or you get the hell out.” He didn't give her time to respond.
A thousand bucks? Liza didn't have two quarters to rub together, let alone hundred-dollar bills. The first of the month was less than a week away.
Tears threatened again, and she crumpled up the job fair flyer. She tossed it in the trash and went back up to her room, imagining all the ways her dad could rot in hell.
Her phone sat on the bedside table, the notification light blinking invitingly. She picked it up, hoping it was some funny video or cute puppy but was even happier to see that it was a message from IDA.
She wasn't exactly sure what IDA was. Some sort of service for people like her, with shitty dads and no way out. She'd been chatting back and forth with the bot, or possibly the volunteer, or whoever was on the other side of the line, ever since two days after Erica left.
Right then, with her father's demand ringing in her ears and the certainty that she was never going to actually get out of this place, she poured her heart out into her message.
“I wish I could be anywhere but here right now. I wish somebody would take me away.”
She wasn't going to let any dude from this town rescue her, but some distant part of her brain, something that still nurtured fantasies that she was far too old to dream about, wished there was a hero out there somewhere, some fantastical guy who could ride in on a white horse and take her off to his castle.
She huffed out a hollow laugh and tossed the phone aside. Erica's room was still a mess. The cheap bracelet glinted in the room's light, a reminder of things that could be left behind.
Saturday, Liza would find a job. She'd find a place to sleep that wasn't her father's house. Because she wasn't giving that man one damn cent. But for just another few minutes, she let herself dream.
The controls rattled under Flint's hands, and he cursed whoever had designed this ship. What was wrong with a simple joystick? He had buttons and scroll wheels and more than one shaft he wasn't sure what to do with.
Should he have stayed for the training that was offered when he purchased his new baby? Maybe.
But Flint wanted open space. He needed the feel of freedom that came when there was no one within one hundred light years. Or at least when it felt that way.
He was regretting that freedom now as his ship rocked and dodged through one of the thickest asteroid fields he had ever encountered. Had someone blown up a planet? Where had all the debris come from?
His ship's defensive field was doing its job—more or less, but it made for a rocky ride. Then the proximity alert blared over the speakers, the whole display in front of him going red in warning. Flint cursed and pressed what he thought was the emergency evasive maneuvers button. It was big and red and he couldn't miss it.
Reality warped around him, and the view screen resolved into a planet's surface, a giant bubbling volcano in front of him. Not the invasive maneuvers button. Shit!
Who would put the teleport button right there?
Flint slammed on it again, and reality warped once more, landing him safely at the edge of the asteroid field as if he'd never been in danger.
He slumped back in his chair, letting out a relieved sort of laugh and petted the edge of the dashboard, careful not to hit any of the buttons or other controls.
He'd review the control footage later, but right now that felt like a close call, closer than it had in quite some time.
Knox would kill him when he learned about this. If Knox bothered to call anymore. Flint was being uncharitable towards his brother. Towards Asher too.
Both of his fellow triplets had recently found their mates. They were happier than he'd ever seen them. Well, Asher being happy at all was a new circumstance altogether. His brother had needed to loosen up for more than a decade. That mate of his head finally got him to see that.
Knox though… He and Flint had been close. Knox was the one Flint told about his close calls. He endured his brother's warning glares and laughed off his brushes with death. Would Knox even answer if he gave him a call right now?
Flint wouldn't do it anyway. He always saved his reports of near-death experiences and derring-do for when he flew home. He didn't need to worry anyone unnecessarily. And he wasn't going to pull anyone away from their mate.
Flint set a course he knew would be safe, not that he was heading anywhere specific. He had friends in half a dozen systems he could call on. He could head home, shift into his dragon form, and fly through the mountains for a month to get his head on right.
Or he could just sit here alone and wallow in his loneliness.
Flint groaned. Maybe there was something to that thing his brothers had done.
The Intergalactic Dating Agency.
The Royal Matchmaker.
He would never have considered it before. He was happy in his adventurous single life. Women on every planet. Adventures wherever he chose to find them. New spaceships with shoddy controls. He could have everything.
But maybe it was time for something else. He wasn't ready to settle down and hang up all of his adventuring gear just yet. But the Intergalactic Dating Agency had a solution for that. IDA Adventures. It was for people who didn't just want their match delivered to them. For people who wanted a bit of intrigue. A bit of an escapade.
For people exactly like Flint. He logged into his account and saw he had a message waiting. Not just a message. A mission. The agency had matched him with a woman on Earth, a human, desperate to get out of her situation. She was begging for rescue, wanted someone to sweep her away.
He could do that. He didn't know if she was his mate or someone he might have a bit of fun with for a while before they parted ways, hopefully as friends. He didn't like to leave anguished lovers behind. Not that he could remember anyone caring enough about him to be particularly anguished when he moved on to the next planet.
He changed his course with the setting for Earth. It was an out-of-the-way planet, one rarely visited by aliens, though it could be prime pickings for slavers looking to fill up their holds. Earth didn't have planetary defenses. It didn't know it needed them. It also didn't know that it was in the shadow of the Imperium. One day that empire would sweep in and claim it for its own. It could be a century away. Perhaps two. Nothing to worry about today.
Flint would have to go in stealthily. He used his brand-new teleporting feature to cross the galaxy in a matter of hours rather than months. But once he was in the correct system, he had to wait for nightfall. His ship had stealth mode, but it wasn't invisible. And while Earth wasn't aware of aliens, they did have defensive systems for threats from their own planet.
He wasn't about to let himself get shot down so far from home. He would never hear the end of it.
If he survived.
As the hour struck, he broke through the atmosphere and flew to the right coordinates. He wasn't sure how he was supposed to do this. Break into her dwelling and steal her from her bed? Did she know that he was coming today? Was she already waiting for him with a backpack? Would someone try and stop them?
Anticipation swelled in his veins as he scanned the environment with his ship's delicate controls. They were in a mountainous, heavily forested region with narrow roads and dwellings that were miles apart. What if he grabbed the wrong woman?
He huffed out a laugh. Wouldn't that be something? Come all this way and accidentally rescue the wrong woman. Someone would know about aliens then. But he had an image of her from the IDA, and his ship's scanners were sensitive.
As he hovered just above the tree line with his stealth mode activated, his ship pinged a warning of movement behind his match's house. A dark-haired woman carrying a bulging white bag slipped out the back door and walked to the outbuilding that had three large green bins in front of it. She placed the bulging bag in one of the bins and turned to return to the house. But before she made it halfway, she paused and looked up.
Right at his ship.
There was no sign of recognition. She couldn't know he was there. Still, Flint felt as if she was staring right at him. His hand hovered above his teleportation beam, and he hesitated for one moment. Should he go down there and ask her? Should he tell her what he was about to do?
He had read the message she sent to the IDA. He knew she wanted this. Needed this. And even through the ship's camera, he could see the desperation in her eyes. He couldn't do anything but help. He got a lock on her in the teleportation beam and activated it.
Your rescue is here, Liza.
Now to go meet his match.