Release Blitz: Engaged to an Alien Pop Star by Kendra L. Saunders (EXCERPTS + MORE)
Engaged to an Alien Pop Star
by Kendra L. Saunders
(Alien Pop Star, #2)
Published by: Crimson Tree Publishing
Publication date: November 28th 2016
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance, Science Fiction
Daisy Kirkwood and her best friend Kammie have adjusted to life on an alien planet pretty well, all things considered. And thanks to Daisy’s alien pop star boyfriend, Griffin Valentino, she has plenty of sexy new experiences to keep her busy. But it’s not possible to take a massive music nerd away from her home planet and not expect her to pine for a concert or a record store at least in once in a while.
Heading back to Earth with Griffin and his best friend Dev for a brief but much-needed visit, the girls want nothing more than to catch up on the underground music scene of New York City. Unfortunately, thanks to Griffin’s less-than-stellar space traveling skills, they accidentally pick up a hitchhiker. Or three hundred. Their many-legged stowaway beasties take up residence in the darkest, creepiest corners of Manhattan, leaving the gang no choice but to experience a very different underground than they bargained for.
Giant alien bugs aside, Griffin has some epic plans of his own for their trip, plans that involve a concert, an album… and the most outrageous marriage proposal that Earth has ever seen.
My boyfriend is levitating four inches above our bed, with a cloud of gold sparks floating around his head like a crown. This makes for a pretty normal morning, even with the soft snuffling and clicking noises he makes as he sleeps. And the crown is appropriate, since my boyfriend is an alien prince.
The alien prince in question, Griffin, floats back down to our bed with a yawn, stretching as he hits the blankets. He squirms around until he can slip under the blankets and wriggle closer to me. Despite sleeping uncovered, he's toasty and warm, a sign of restorative sleep in his people. I return his embrace a bit too eagerly, my hands slipping under his nightshirt and causing him to gasp out loud. "Gods! Daisy your hands are cold."
"They're not cold. They're room temperature. But you feel nice and warm, so hold still."
Griffin wiggles a bit more in feigned protest, but we soon settle into a comfortable position, arms and legs entwined.
"Are you excited to go back home?" Griffin asks, his voice husky with sleep as he leans up to nip at my earlobe with sharp teeth. His glowing blue eyes peer at me from under heavy lids and dark lashes, lashes that are unfairly longer than my own.
"If you keep biting my ear or looking at me like that, I'm not going to be able to go back to sleep. And yes. I'm very excited to go back to Earth."
"Well then, don't go back to sleep," Griffin says, running a hand over his recently shorn dark hair. It's always amazing to me how he can go from sleepy animal cute to dangerously sexy alien rock star in the span of seconds, depending on what he's doing or saying. That kind of magical ability can get and Earth girl in trouble. "I have much better ideas for what we can do this morning, Wanda..."
Wanda is his pet name for me, a word in his language that means, " Love without end." Griffin knows very well what he does to me when he calls me that.
"Do these plans involve you miraculously making chocolate appear? I miss chocolate," I say in a teasing tone. "When we go back to Earth, I'm going to stock up on junk food. There's only so much healthy gray goop a girl can eat before she starts to feel like a very deprived post-divorced Gwyneth Paltrow."
"Chocolate? Don't be daft, Daisy, I was referring to sex."
Space travel has long been theorized. We've imagined cheerfully zipping about in spaceships, jumping from point A to B by way of mysterious wormholes. We've also imagined going into a deep sleep for thousands of years, while our family and friends back home get old, blow themselves up, and allow Earth to be reclaimed by vines and wild animals.
But Kalesstrians walk through space from location to location.
It's a very complicated process that Dev has tried to explain to me several times. I’ve only absorbed it in the barest bones of theory, despite his valiant attempts. We walk through a dimension door and are shot to a pre-set coordinate on the other side. The travel has to be conducted with the help of communicators, and it is crucial that the coordinates are right. That last bit is especially important, because ending up in space, an active volcano, or a politician’s bedroom is not something anyone wants.
This is precisely why Griffin traveling us back makes me so nervous.
“Where did you set us to land?” I ask as we all head outside together to the predetermined launch spot. I glance skyward several times, a habit I’ve formed while living on Kalesstria. The weather here is unpredictable and extremely dangerous at times, so one can never be too careful. “Please tell me nowhere too populated.”
“Well, we’re not going to Chinatown again, that’s for certain,” Griffin says with a traumatized expression. “Last time I went there, a man tried to keep me in his shop and sell me for ten American dollars.”
I eyeball his floral pants. “Were you wearing that? Because if so, he marked you up way too much.”
Griffin shoots me a nasty look and ruffles his hair. “I was not. I was wearing a black jacket with feathers, and some very fitted Diesel jeans, thank you very much. I looked bloody enchanting.”
“What were you doing in Chinatown, anyway?” Kammie asks, setting her bags down.
“Daisy needed hairspray.” Now Griffin looks a bit guilty, toeing at the dusty ground with one red cowboy boot. “And I wanted to get a fortune cookie.”
Now that I think about it, I’d told Griffin one night about how delicious Chinese food is, and how a fortune cookie comes with every meal. He’d had a lot of questions about it.
Kammie motions at him. “Well, did you get a fortune cookie?”
“What did it say?”
Griffin’s face blossoms red with a blush. “I don’t remember. Anyway, I need to finish setting our coordinates.” He fishes his communicator out of his pocket and nervously taps away at it.
Kalesstrian ‘communicators’ do a little bit of everything; they capture holopics and holovids, and operate as super-crazy advanced cell phones. They’re also necessary for long-distance travel. If Apple ever catches wind of them, they’ll definitely break Steve Jobs’ cryo-corpse out of its hiding place and bring him back to life just to patent the iCommunicator. I still barely understand how to turn one on, never mind use it for travel.
“C’mon, Griff,” Kammie insists. “You’re not the type who would forget your first fortune cookie. Besides, I want to know. I’m good at interpreting things like this.”
Of course she would say that. Kammie is a bit of a conspiracy-theory connoisseur, and she dabbles in all sorts of weird beliefs about angels, Bigfoot, aliens, and cryptic messages in newspaper clippings. If there’s some kind of superstition, legend, or conspiracy involved in anything, Kammie probably owns four books on the subject.
Griffin raises his eyes from his communicator, pursing his lips. He hesitates a little longer, and then finally huffs. “It said, Don’t forget to close the door behind you. There now, see? It’s nothing cool at all. I don’t believe in fortune cookies.”
Kammie shrugs. “Still, I’d be careful to make sure you always close doors behind you.”
Valley of Love is an adventurous adult toy store in Greenwich Village, known as much for their insanely creative window displays as for their wide selection of unusual bondage wares. I’ve been there a few times at the insistence of Kammie, but I’ve always been too chicken to even think about buying anything. I’ve wanted to, but…
“Look at this,” Griffin says.
He’s already removing stuff from the bag, intent on his work and dropping his purchases by the handful onto our bed. He pauses, studying something that looks like a bottle of purple jelly, and then continues on. “There’s a vibrating ring in here, but the sodding thing’s too big for any of my fingers.”
Oh my God.
“I found this it at the counter. It says for her. So I got it for you.” He holds up a bottle of pink lube, his mouth tipped into a mega-smirk. I know, without a doubt, that he has no idea what that or anything else in that bag is. I don’t even know what a few of the things are. He picks up a bottle that says Attraction Spray and squirts it all over his body, then sniffs at the air with a pleased look. “Well, do you like everything? The shopkeeper said all of it is very good for couples.”
Moving closer and surveying the items spread across the bed, I can’t help grinning. “Oh, there’s no doubt that a lot of this is great for couples, Griffin. Couples made up of two men.”
Griffin squints at me. “How do you mean—two men? These are beads, Daisy.”
“Did the shopkeeper tell you what those were for? Or what any of this is for?”
At this, Griffin’s white face flushes red, the blush creeping clear to his ears. He drops the spray bottle onto the bed. “Well, of course not. I didn’t need him to tell me!”
He really has no idea. And Griffin being Griffin, he didn’t want to ask anyone, because that would mean admitting something was unfamiliar to him. “Griff, I think the shopkeeper assumed that since you were in the store with Dev, you two were a couple. He thought you were buying these things for yourselves.”
“Me and Dev,” Griffin splutters. “Me and Dev, a couple? Rubbish!”
“Well, do you know what any of this is?”
Griffin scowls at me. “Course I do!”
That’s it—I can’t contain the laughter anymore. I walk to him, gently taking hold of his hands and hoping his feelings won’t get hurt by my amusement. “I’m a little confused why you went into Valley of Love in the first place if you… well, if these things are unfamiliar to you.”
Suddenly, a bad thought hits me. My laughter dies in my throat, only to be replaced by a subtle sick feeling.
Griffin’s attracted to who he’s attracted to, regardless of gender, station, or home planet. This has, until now, made me feel rather proud that he chose me out of everyone across the universe. But has something changed? Is he getting bored of me already? Have I just been a glorious novelty for him, another alien girl he’s now figured out and wants to move on from? Has he decided he needs toys to keep our relationship interesting?
Griffin pulls his hands away from me, blushing even redder. “The shop window had a sparkling yellow elephant in it,” he says at last, idly reaching for the bottle of Attraction Spray and looking particularly miserable. “I went inside to have a better look, and then realized it’s a shop with gifts for your lover. I wanted to surprise you.”
Relief floods through me, and I step closer to take his face in my hands. “That was really sweet of you, Griff, wanting to surprise me.”
He lets out a little puff of air, shoulders falling. “But you said it’s all wrong!”
I lean forward and press a kiss to his lips. “Not wrong—some of it just might not be useful for the two of us.” I glance at the bag. “However, I can definitely show you how to use some of it…”
Griffin returns to his guitar when he’s finished eating, playing it while humming to himself. I can almost feel him drifting away from me, returning to whatever world he goes to when he’s making music. At some point, I realize with a start that I can hear other instruments than just his guitar.
“Are you doing that?” I demand, and Griffin lifts his head to look at me, an insolent expression on his face.
“You can see me playing, Wanda.”
“Not the guitar. I heard bass and drums, and I’m pretty sure I heard a violin too. We’re alone in this room, so where was that coming from?”
“Me, of course. It’s coming from me. Do you want to hear it again? It’s good, isn’t it?”
“You’re using your finger-snappy power for that?” I know fully well that Griffin’s abilities are referred to as “sensitivities” on Kalesstria, but I just enjoy winding him up about it. Especially when he’s using his powers on Earth, where he certainly doesn’t have an infinite supply of energy.
We look at each other for a few seconds, Griffin holding his fingers poised over the guitar, and me with my arms crossed.
“Why do you ask, Daisy? Is there something else you think I should use my powers for?” Griffin asks in what he must think is an innocent tone. I know what he’s doing. I absolutely know exactly what he’s doing, and I’m determined not to play along with him. Well, not too much anyway. After all, if anyone in the world can resist a man, it’s me, the girl who went five years without a boyfriend.
“Yeah, actually, there is something else. Can you make Sonic Youth get back together? Can you make my favorite band Fourth Squid Movement appear? What about make a conditioner that actually works on curly hair? I have a list of things you could use your powers for.”
He raises a dark eyebrow, his lips turning up in a smirk. He deliberately plucks the strings on the guitar a few times, and then lays the instrument across his lap. “Really? That’s all you want from me?”
I must resist. I must. I’ll say something snarky and cool. Yes. I will. I really will.
“Well,” I say, starting off strong. Yes, good, keep it up. Don’t pay any attention to the way his gaze is darkening with lust. Don’t even look at his beautiful fingers stroking the guitar strings just soft enough to coax a quiet melody from them. Don’t think about the way the air’s crackling around him, palpable with wicked thoughts. “Well…” I say again.
“Yes, you’ve said that twice now, Wanda. Do you want me to put a record on, maybe? That always seems to excite you…”
That’s it. All attempts at resistance become damnably futile, and I launch myself at him.
Griffin slides onto the bed beside me, nuzzling my neck. “Can I play one of the songs for you?” Griffin asks.
“One of your new songs? You have it with you right now?”
Griffin lowers his head to kiss my shoulder, and then leaps off the bed with one graceful movement. He searches the pockets of his discarded trousers for a moment before locating his communicator. After he climbs back onto the bed, he sits cross-legged beside me, scrolling on the device. All at once, he stops and looks at me. “You’ll tell me if it’s rubbish, won’t you?” he asks in a very serious, quiet voice.
“I won’t say anything, probably, because I’m a very nice person, but I’ll grimace in a dramatic fashion if it’s awful. How about that?” It was a joke, but Griffin’s slight wince tells me he missed the humor. “Griff, I’m sure it’s good. I liked what I heard you recording today. Go on and play it.”
After a bit more fiddling with his communicator, a very synthy intro snakes into the air between us, chased by Griffin’s somewhat-untrained vocals. The song is catchy, almost entirely electronic, and it’s over very quickly. It sounds similar to the songs I heard him recording at Kammie’s studio earlier today—polished pop.
“I like it,” I say, making sure to look at him when I do, so he knows I’m being honest. “It’s fun, and it’s definitely something I can imagine hearing on the radio.”
A relieved sigh escapes his lips, and Griffin pushes a button on his communicator. “One more,” he says. He plays a slightly less upbeat song this time.
Maybe it’s because he hasn’t gone so crazy on the sound effects, or maybe it’s just the lyrics, but I find myself listening closer to this one. It’s a love song, but it’s far less racy in undertone than the first he played me. It feels earnest, emotional… almost melancholy. It feels like the Griffin I know in secret, the one who wakes in the middle of the night and cuddles closer to me. The one who traveled across the universe to get my teddy bear, so I’d feel more at home on Kalesstria. The Griffin who couldn’t quite hide his tears from me when I showed him The Land Before Time and Littlefoot mistakes his shadow for his mother.
I can feel Griffin’s heavy gaze on me as we listen together, and I realize all at once that he wrote this song about me. When I swing my gaze up to meet his, Griffin stares into my eyes in such an intense manner that I can’t say anything at all. Instead, I focus my energy on sending him my appreciation through our mental connection, and I move closer to him on the bed.
Griffin drops his communicator to the bed so he can slip his arms around me. “I wrote it for you,” he whispers.
“What is your album called?” I ask.
“That’s easy. It’s called Griffin Valentino, of course! Every famous pop star names their first album after themselves.”
“I don’t know about every famous pop star, but okay. It’ll be easy to remember, at least.” I stare at Kammie’s laptop screen. “We need some kind of album art.”
“Ah. We’ll need to hire a world famous artist, of course. Maybe someone who worked with David Bowie!”
“Considering we’re planning to head back to Kalesstria in two days, I don’t think finding and hiring a famous artist is in the cards.”
“Cards? What cards?” Griffin asks in a supremely suspicious tone.
I wave off his question with an exasperated groan. “We’ll just use a picture of you. I guess this is as good a chance as any to test my professional photo-editing skills.” Griffin leans over to watch me work, so close to the screen that I almost regret making him stick around.
First, I search for a usable picture of Griffin on my phone, a process that involves scrolling through countless weird selfies I didn’t even know he took. Teaching Griffin how to take a selfie has been an experience, let me tell you, one that continues to surprise and delight. Mostly surprise.
“What about that picture?” Griffin asks, prodding at my phone screen with one finger. “I like that one.” It’s a selfie of Griffin wearing what looks to be messily applied red eye shadow, his face tipped far too close to the camera and his lips pursed.
“Is that my eye shadow?” I ask, staring at the picture. “I don’t… when did you take this? I’ve never seen this picture before.” With a sigh, I keep scrolling until I find a handsome photo of Griffin that I took a few weeks ago. “This one. We’ll use this one.”
A few minutes of tinkering later, I slap his name across the gently edited picture. Griffin insists that the font must be in a tacky 80’s-esque flamingo-pink color. He also insists on drop shadow. Of course. When I finish, I turn the laptop in his direction and expectantly wait for his reaction.
“That looks… incredible,” he breathes, his eyes wide. “Daisy. It’s beautiful.”
It looks like a poster for a drag show in Brooklyn, but honestly? I’m quite proud of it, all things considered.
I look up, searching for the origin of the voice that called my name. Finally, I spot Griffin on one of the balconies, peering down at me with a mischievous smile tugging at his lips. His eyes are glowing in the dim light, even though he’s wearing his contacts, and one of his slender hands hangs down over the railing as he leans forward to take a better look at me.
“What are you doing up there?” I ask, tilting my head up a little further.
“Just wanted to see it from a different perspective.” Griffin moves along the balcony, slowly, like he’s hunting something. “I wanted to see what everyone will tonight.”
I laugh. “Well, you can’t really do that, can you, Kanye? You can’t watch your own concert.”
“Kanye?” Griffin repeats, his prowling, lusty look replaced by one of confusion. “Who’s Kanye?”
Griffin stops, staring at me again, and I think for a second that he might teleport down here. I shake my head, wagging a finger at him.
“Stairs, sir,” I say in a firm voice. Teleporting in front of his stage crew would only end in disaster. I know this, but I’m still not sure how well Griffin does.
With something that sounds distinctly like a cackle, Griffin turns and disappears from sight. He must have taken the steps two or three or ten at a time, because he reappears in a flash.
“The stage looks nice,” I say. I’m about to comment further, but Griffin slinks up to me in such a manner that I feel temporarily mesmerized. His face is nearly beaming with a smug smile, and the air crackles around him as he stops in front of me. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him like this, thanks to all the unique challenges of living in the royal home on an alien planet. It’s every bit as thrilling now as it has ever been.
“It’ll be the best show ever seen on this planet, I’m sure of it,” Griffin says quietly, leaning in to give me a chaste kiss. He pulls back. “Do you like the dress?”
“Oh, yeah, I love it.” I give it a little twirl. “You look very nice too.” I reach out and brush my fingers against the slim-fit black suit jacket he’s wearing. It’s almost understated, other than the silver spikes and chains on the shoulders. And it actually looks like it belongs in the same universe as his black skinny jeans and asymmetrically hemmed slate-gray shirt. And his boots are black. Black!
“Griff, your boots… You don’t want to trip on stage.” I point at his boots, and Griffin holds smoldering eye contact while crouching down very slowly in front of me. He licks his bottom lip as he twists his pale fingers around the laces, still looking up. I’ve never in my life seen someone tie a shoe in such an unnecessarily erotic manner.
Kendra L. Saunders is a time-and-space traveling fashionista author who writes books about magical, dark-haired men, interviews famous people, and suggests way too many bands to you via whatever social media platform she can get her hands on. She writes with good humor because humor is the best weapon for a girl who can't learn karate (or ballroom dancing).
She is the author of DATING AN ALIEN POP STAR, the magic realism novel INANIMATE OBJECTS, dark comedy DEATH AND MR. RIGHT, the upcoming romance THE UNLOVE SPELL, and has conducted interviews with NYT Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout, goth rocker Aurelio Voltaire, and Project Runway winners Dmitry Sholokhov and Michelle Lesniak Franklin among many, many others.
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