Mated (Mating Ritual Book 1)

By: Ria Candro

Chapter One




The front panel of the ship’s control room slid open, exposing a view of space

through the clear, impenetrable shield.

“We are approaching Earth now,” said Leikos, Andros’ second-in-command.

Silence filled the control room as Andros and his men stared at the round globe.

Bright blue oceans eclipsed the images of land with a certain beauty that made him

think of home.

“It looks somewhat like Spygia,” said Zafron, the third and final member of

Andros’ pod.

Andros grunted in assent. The planet did resemble their own, although their oceans

were more of an orange hue. But still, it wasn’t the planet itself that had drawn them to this part of the galaxy, so far from their very own. No, they had been drawn to what

was on this planet. Or rather, to who.

Our mate resides somewhere on Earth.

His Spygian homing instinct had led him here, to this alien planet, so that he could

discover the one woman who was meant to be theirs. Now he had but to find her and

get her back to this ship. Not an easy task. But compared to what they had gone

through to get here, compared to the many weeks of travel, it was no great hardship.

Now that they had found the planet, they must search for their woman.

And pray she would consent.

* * * * *

Natalie stormed from the lush lobby of her office building out onto the cool street,

her fists clenched so tightly that her nails bit into her skin. She’d been passed over for promotion. Again.

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Mated

Even though she’d worked at Brooks and Waters for the past six years, she was still

a lowly junior secretary. Despite having the intelligence, she didn’t have a college

degree. And at an uppity firm like Brooks and Waters, that meant she was on the slow

train to nowhere.

It was so frustrating.

For the millionth time, Natalie wished she was brave enough to quit, to do

something else with her life. But it seemed she’d taken after her parents in that regard.

They had never done anything risky.

And where had they ended up?

Dead before the age of fifty, that was where. Killed in a car crash by a drunk driver.

She’d only been seventeen at the time, and had quickly discovered that her parents

had no life insurance, no real savings to speak of. That was probably the only risky

thing they’d ever done—assume that they’d be alive to pay her way through college

with the money they earned from their high-paying jobs. But since things hadn’t

worked out that way, she’d had to give up her dreams of college and get the first decent job she could find right out of high school.

Enter Brooks and Waters, the law firm where she’d spent the last six years of her

life slaving away. She’d worked her way up from copy girl to junior secretary, and had actually entertained hopes of going further. But after six years, she now realized that was no longer likely.

“That’s it. I’m smarter than half the secretaries in that place. Tomorrow I’m going to waltz in there and demand the promotion I deserve.”

But could she really do it? Could she really speak up after all these years?

It was so much easier said than done.

After walking the several blocks from her office to her run-down apartment

building, Natalie made her way upstairs to her tiny, one-bedroom apartment. It wasn’t much, but it was all she had. Since she’d put in yet another late night at the firm—again 7

Ria Candro

for no recognition, not even a thank you very much—it was way past dinnertime. Her

grumbling stomach kept reminding her of that. She headed into the kitchen and opened

the refrigerator, taking inventory. Not much in there. “Guess it’s Chinese food again.”

With a sigh, she turned around to look for her cell phone. And froze.

Standing in the entranceway into the kitchen, right in front of her, were two tall,

barely clothed men. What the fuck?

This wasn’t the safest neighborhood, but she had never expected the possibility of a

home invasion. Oh my god, what am I going to do?

“What the hell is going on? How did you get in here?” she yelled, hoping that

maybe one of her neighbors was home and would hear her.

The two men looked at her with perplexed expressions, turning their heads to

exchange a quick glance before turning back to her. “Using the transporter,” said one of them, raising his hands and stepping back slightly in a gesture of conciliation. “We

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