It's Legal on Other Planets! Ch. 01bybashfullyshameless©
Note: Fans of my previous work might do well to skip straight to the Author's Note on page four before reading. Otherwise, hope you enjoy!
Chapter One: It Really Wasn't My Idea
"So Alyssa told us to ask you what you did in the Navy without telling you that she told us to," the very pretty woman in front of me at the table grinned. "Said it was pretty macho but you wouldn't brag about it unless we prompted you, which I have to say is really kind of charming."
Naturally I blushed. My eyebrows went up as I looked over at my roommate and lifelong friend, who glared at Stacy with her jaw visibly clenched. Stacy just kept on grinning, glancing at Alyssa only for a moment before leaning forward on the table with interest. She batted her eyelashes at me from underneath her curly blonde hair. Another man would've had a hard time not staring down at the inviting cleavage presented by the plunging neckline of her dress. It wasn't entirely easy for me, either, but I was always more about faces. Hers was delicate, vibrant and gorgeous.
"Specifically, what she said was to not make it obvious that she told us to bring it up," elaborated Monica, who sat on my left directly across from Stacy. She was every bit as much of a knockout as Stacy, with short, boyishly-cut black hair and perfect mocha skin. Like Stacy, she was dressed to kill, clad in a flattering green dress that didn't reach all that far down past the hips. Like Stacy, she was hard not to stare at.
Alyssa had hinted at introducing me to a couple of her college friends awhile ago. I had seen pictures, but I didn't realize she was talking about these college friends. Moreover, the pictures hadn't done them justice. I knew her friends were pretty, but I didn't know they would be the sort that were so hot that men were often too intimidated to approach them. Hell, I would have been too intimidated, had Alyssa not invited them out to dinner with us.
Thank God I had shaved and thrown on a decent shirt. I had thought this was just casual.
Monica casually waved her spoon at Alyssa's glare. "And see, that glare she's giving right now? That means she's pissed at us for blowing it, but she knows it's funny so she's not really that mad. But you probably know that look, huh?"
"Oh, I know the look," I smiled. "I've gotten it a lot." I glanced over at my lifelong best friend, who in turn promptly kicked me in the shin under the table. I knew that was coming, too, but I took it in stride. I would have said she was even more beautiful when she was angry if I didn't still have the scar from the first time I told her that in high school. "That's her 'don't blow my scam' look. Mostly I got it whenever I talked to her parents."
"Yeah, we know about her family," Monica said with obvious disdain. "They all sound batshit crazy." She caught another glare from Alyssa. I wasn't even looking Alyssa's way at that point. I knew what it felt like to be next to the glare. Monica nudged my arm a bit, saying, "Anyway, the Navy thing."
I wasn't sure what to say right away. I paused, looking down at the remnants of the warm, deep-dish pan cookie between the four of us as all my nerves came back to me. Harassing Alyssa was second nature. Being the center of attention from stunningly hot women (Alyssa aside) wasn't. I don't think I was ever so nervous in all my life. It was all I could do not to let it show.
"I was a corpsman. That's the Navy's word for 'medic.' I ran around with a bunch of Marines, 'cause they don't have their own medics. Not a big deal, really," I shrugged.
Alyssa kicked me in the shins again. "Way to sell it, baby bro," she frowned. At twenty-five, she was all of four months older than I was, and we weren't at all related. But she had called me that from the beginning. It was a constant reminder of how I was categorized in her life. "He's got like a fat stack of medals in a drawer at home."
"Aw, half of those are for tying my shoes correctly," I countered, "and a lot of the rest are like group awards."
"Oh, now I know you must be a war hero if you're all shy about it," Monica grinned. I blushed again. She noted my color with a simple "Mm-hmf."
"Alyssa said you got hurt," Stacy said. "That's why you're out now, right?"
"Well..." I trailed off. "I got some shrapnel in the arm and leg from a bomb, but that's totally not why I got discharged. See, one night at a forward operating base, I'm hanging out with some of the guys and this one Marine manages to slice his hand open while he's opening a beer bottle -- don't ask, I still don't know. My gear is further away than one of the supply closets, so I drag him off to get him patched up. I just sit him down at a table in another room where there aren't half-drunk Marines being stupid so nobody would mess with him until I'm done fixing him up.
"Only when I hit the supply closet, I find the C.O. of the base standing there in the dark with one of the platoon leaders there, um, on his knees in front of him and the C.O.'s trying to pull up his pants."
"Both guys?" Monica blinked. I nodded. "Wow," she smirked.
Stacy giggled. "What did you do?"
I shrugged, unable to hold back my own grin. "Well that's really something I don't want to see, right? I mean I know instantly that there's just no way that turns out well for me, but it's too late now and I gotta admit, it's really funny. So I just say, 'I don't have to ask and you don't have to tell, sirs,' grab the peroxide and a bandage kit and head out to do my thing."
My company laughed appreciatively. I poked at the cookie with my spoon. "So then, three weeks later when I'm in the infirmary with my arm and leg cut up and they're deciding what to do with me and whether I can stay or if I have to go, the C.O. walks in, takes one look at my chart -- and I know damn well he doesn't know how to read it -- and he decides it's time for old Petty Officer McLoughlin and all his inconvenient knowledge to move on. Turns out he knew an awful lot of pretty influential people who got to decide stuff on my behalf."
"Do you regret it?" Stacy asked.
"What, not ratting them out?" I blinked. "Of course not. Whole problem is that they have to hide it in the first place. C.O. may have been a bit paranoid, but I can't say I blame him."
"No, I mean getting out of the Navy."
I shook my head. "Not really. On the one hand I felt bad about leaving the guys I was with because they were still going to be in a war zone without me, but past that I was about done with the military. I thought about trying to stay. I mean I'm really not crippled or anything. But while I was in the hospital, Alyssa sent me an email that just said, 'Come home!' in all caps, so that was that."
"Awww!" the two ladies responded. I blushed.
"Home didn't mean California?" Monica asked.
Again, I shook my head. "No, Alyssa's the only family I've really got. My family disowned me for being a fascist baby killer when I joined the Navy. Turns out I delivered two babies in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, so the joke's on them, I guess."
I put a spoonful of moist cookie in my mouth, expecting laughter. I got sympathetic stares instead. That made me self-conscious all over again. "Um," I mumbled, "I didn't mean to make that sound like a cry for help. Now I feel all emo."
Stacy smiled, reaching out to take my wrists and pull them down onto the table. She slid her hands up to my elbows as she looked them over. Her eyes looked up at mine. It was God. Damn. Sexy. "No scars here," she said very smoothly. "You don't seem emo to me."
"You've got scars, though, right?" Monica asked. She revved up the purr in her voice, too. "Do we get to see your scars?"
I blinked. I was, in fact, quite intimidated by these two women now. "I dunno," I said with all the courage I could muster, "is this a date? I usually save them for dates."
Monica's smile was sly. "Could be," she answered.
"We're pretty adaptable," Stacy agreed.
I swallowed. Alyssa gave my leg a nudge under the table. "He's coming home with me tonight, ladies," she said.
"Killjoy," Stacy said.
"Cockblocker," Monica concurred. I blinked. She winked at me. I chuckled as if she meant it as a joke, but I wasn't entirely sure.
"Bite me," Alyssa told them lightly. "And don't tease him. You've both got other plans for tonight."
The other ladies sighed. "We do," Stacy admitted, looking at Monica's nod of agreement. "We should get going, too. But it's very nice meeting you, Kyle."
"We'll see you again soon," Monica smiled.
Alyssa gave her the glare. I wasn't looking her way, but like I said, at this point I could feel it. The glare faded into an approving smile when both of the ladies rose and planted friendly kisses on my cheek before they sauntered out. I stared in longing awe as they left. Alyssa was very understanding about it, and didn't speak until they were gone. "Well?" she asked.
"I'd kill or die for either of them," I said flatly.
"You'd do that for big, sweaty Marines, too. And total strangers. I want to know what you think of them." Her grin was triumphant. "Don't hold back. Which one did you like best?"
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Alyssa was every bit as smoking hot as either of them. She had big, beautiful brown eyes, dark brown hair and a smile that literally improved my day every time I saw it. Debate all you want about whether a guy can be friends with a woman without wanting to sleep with her. I really don't care. She's a heart-stopper, and I love her, but she was my friend. I long ago stopped being jealous of other guys who went out with her. Now I sincerely wanted her to find good ones.
So when she asked me which one I liked "best," the honest answer would have been her, but I knew better than to say that.
"Good God, do I have to choose?" I chuckled.
Alyssa's smile only intensified. "Not really."
My chuckle turned into a genuine laugh. "What, you think either of them would want to go out with me? Seriously? I can't keep up with that. Both of them would break me."
"So you're saying you wouldn't date either of them?"
"No, I'm saying that I expect I'd go down in flames trying," I told her. "Seriously, they're really nice, but I really don't think I've got a chance there. They're both way out of my league. I don't want to doubt your resources, but you really don't think you could get either one of them to actually go out with me on a real date, do you?"
"Why not? You're a good guy. You're cute. You're funny. You just totally aced that interview. And you've got a great reference," she added pointedly.
"What, that? That was an interview?" I smirked.
"What else did you think it was?"
"Alyssa, I'm a twenty-four year-old guy with no job. I'm a month out of Afghanistan. I'm sure they think I'm going to collapse under PTSD any minute."
She shrugged. "You'll start college next semester. You're not going to wind up on the street. I won't let you," she winked. "Anyway. They like you. I can tell." Her grin faded a bit, but didn't disappear as she picked up her drink. "So you really don't have a preference?"
"Not really. They're both amazing. Wish I had a real chance with either one of them."
She sipped her drink. "Good."
* * *
The first thing I did when I got home that night was to sit right down in front of my computer and get right back onto the job search. There's nothing like meeting a couple of phenomenally attractive women and having to admit that you have no job to motivate you -- which isn't to say that I hadn't put in a couple hours on the search before dinner (and every night for days on end before that), but still.
Unfortunately, my best job skills just weren't in demand. Seattle had plenty of paramedics and EMTs. Nobody within a reasonable commute range was hiring. And I have to say, when you've got such a specific set of training and experience, it can be really hard to look good to employers who want something completely different.
Which isn't to say I was interested in giving up, but I was already at a point where I was looking well below my own standards. I just wanted a job. Any job. Know what the difference was between me and the guy flippin' burgers at McDonald's? That dude had a job.
I was interrupted by a knock on my door. "Kyle?" Alyssa sang out, jarring me out of my frustration. "Can you come to the door?"
I smirked. She probably figured I might want some "private time" after dinner. Alyssa had been getting ready for a weekend road-trip, but that was ordinary. It was the main reason we had to call it a night so early after dinner with Stacy and Monica. I was already half-undressed, so I paused to throw on a t-shirt.
When I opened the door, I found Alyssa wrapped in her terrycloth bathrobe but still all made up to go out. She seemed a bit on edge, and a little urgent. "I didn't wake you, did I?" she asked.
"No, Alyssa, what's up? Something wrong?"
"No, no," she said, shaking her head and taking my hand in hers. "There's just...someone downstairs I'd like you to meet."
I hadn't heard anyone come in. Her hand trembled a bit, and she bit her lip now and again. She was very nervous. "Okay, sure," I shrugged, and squeezed her hand a little bit. Holding hands was a bit new. "It's cool." She smiled, nodded, and tugged my hand to lead me downstairs. "Have you been seeing someone special?" I asked with a wry smirk.
"Uh," she blinked, "you could maybe say that." She took a deep, steadying breath as we rounded the corner to the living room...
...and came face to face with a seven-foot-tall, muscular green guy with small nubby horns on his forehead, yellow eyes and an odd assortment of what looked like armor over his clothes.
I blinked. This was no costume. You could just tell.
"Kyle," Alyssa said, her voice quivering just a bit, "this is Lord Kruune. Of the Konlogath Empire, which is...um...a ways away from Earth. We've known each other for a long time."
I blinked again.
Lord Kruune bowed deeply. "Hello, Kyle," he said with a full baritone voice. "I have awaited this meeting for several of your years."
I looked at Alyssa, who alternately blushed, glanced around, and tried not to breathe heavily. She seemed nervous and excited.
Alyssa was my closest, dearest friend. There were times in my life when I felt like she was my only friend, and the further away the Navy took me, the tighter she held on. I kept no secrets from her. I honestly thought she kept none from me. We had lived together for a month now, and yet...there was an alien standing in the living room. No shit, really. A fucking alien.
"I apologize for this uninvited entry into your home," Lord Kruune continued, still bowing. "I submit that I followed Alyssa's suggestion, and while I have learned to trust her judgment in many things, honor demands that I offer sincere apologies."
"Uh...it's...her...house," I managed through my awe. "I just moved in."
"Ah - that's what Lord Kruune is here to talk to you - we're here to talk to you about," she said. "Um. Tell him he may rise," she hissed into my ear.
"You may rise?" I repeated.
He did, and looked on with those narrow, gleaming yellow eyes. You could hardly make out irises or pupils. They were there, but it was mostly all just yellow.
"See, you, uh...well, I've known Lord Kruune and many of his people since about when I started college," she said, "and I've wanted to tell you from the beginning, but you were in the Navy and your life was crazy enough, so I figured you didn't need anything this...weird."
I swallowed. "You don't say."
"And there was some stuff you really weren't ready to hear yet and I didn't want to have to lie to you," she added.
"My people abhor lies," Lord Kruune stated firmly. "To lie to one as honored as you or Alyssa would be a grave crime."
"That's...good to hear?" I managed. Apparently, everything I was saying came out as a question. Then I blinked away a bit of my shock. "So, what, you just didn't tell me at all? You had to wait 'til I moved in?"
Alyssa tugged at her hair. "I had to wait until you were twenty-four," she said guiltily.
"This was out of respect for my own culture's standards of adulthood," Lord Kruune elaborated for her. "The differences are slight, but worthy of address. Among my people, females mature within roughly three-quarters of the years that males require. Now that you are returned to your home, an adult and especially a warrior, the Konlogath see you as the Lord of House McLoughlin."
"Uh. Okay." I looked at Alyssa. "So what's that mean?"
"It means you're in charge of your own House now," she said. "Your own family. The Konlogath are a little like...you remember back when we had that term paper on ancient Rome in Mr. Rizzi's class? And how there was the father figure who was in control of the home?"
"Yeah." That class would've seemed like ancient history, except it was where we first met. I never forgot it.
"The Konlogath are a lot like that, but they're actually a really peaceful culture. They've always been very good to me. Women in their society can break off if they want to...it's a bit of give and take, there's good and bad in doing that and it's all complicated. Point being that a woman chooses to be traditional or not, but it's not an equality thing.
"In a traditional family, the Lord of the House has that kind of complete authority within the House like fathers had in Rome. An unmarried female like me would be under that authority. Up until now, I've been basically emancipated until I could find a House that would adopt me...and I didn't want to be part of a Konlogath family house."
"Alyssa is of such renown that her choice of any one Konlogath house over another would surely have caused great political strife among rival Houses," Kruune said gravely. "The great Houses have all vied for her adoption, which would be a magnificent political coup. Resentment and bitterness among those she turned down might well follow. Adoption into a House of her own people, though, would be accepted by all."
My jaw dropped. Again. I looked at Alyssa in awe. "You've been leading a double life between going to school and running around in outer space?"
She just shrugged, allowing herself a half-amused, half-embarrassed smile. "I guess I'm just awesome," she said.
"So you want me to have a House? So you can be part of it?" I blinked. She nodded emphatically. "So that makes us a House of two. Is that a good thing for you?"
"It lays to rest certain cultural and political concerns with regards to Alyssa's celebrity and personal connections in our society," Kruune nodded. "She needs not be of a prominent House, merely an honorable one. Her own prestige will grant your House great standing. Again, however, you are a warrior, and as Alyssa has told me, you have also been a healer and a midwife. These are all matters of great honor in our culture. Such personal achievements lend great credibility."
"Anyway, I'd need to join a House," Alyssa said. "Meaning yours. And since you're the Lord of the House," she went on, increasingly more delicate with her words, "I'm technically -- traditionally -- going to need your permission for certain...things."
They paused, probably to let that sink in for a moment, though Alyssa was clearly waiting to tell me more. It was a little like the time in high school when she had to tell me she had spilled paint thinner all over my freshly-painted motorcycle. Only worse.
"You don't need my permission for anything," I frowned. This seemed a bit crazy.
"I do," Alyssa pushed. Her teeth gritted as she spoke. She gave me the glare, but this time it didn't cover any laughter on her part.
"Okay, fine," I said. "So, what, you're here to ask me if you can go out on a date with Lord Kruune here?"