"A WISH AWAY by Marly Chance" in the WICKED
WISHES anthology by Burke, Chance & Wylde

available at www.ellorascave.com

RATED E-erotic – intended for adults only: The following excerpt is
from a book rated E by Ellora's Cave and is intended for adults only.  
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Copyright July 2002 Marly Chance All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1

"So, I'm basically invisible, neutered, lacking all sexual vibes.  Polly,
it's infuriating."  Tiffany leaned back in her chair and shook her head.  
"I've been in the friend zone for so long that he's never gonna see me
any differently."

Polly looked at her friend and nodded sympathetically. "See, that's the
problem.  He thinks the two of you are best buddies."

Tiffany sighed.  "We are best buddies, dammit.  I've known him for six
years.  You know, that's a long time to suppress lust."

Polly laughed.  "Well, you weren't exactly suppressing all lust.  You've
dated.  You've been through relationships with Thomas the Total Twit
and Jake the Jerk.   And he's had his share of blonde bimbos, too."  
Polly made a face and stuffed a crispytate in her mouth, chewing

Tiffany grabbed another crispytate, but paused before it reached her
mouth.  "Yeah, but we're both single now.” she said indignantly. “Do
you think he just doesn't find me attractive?  I mean, I'm ordinary, I
know that.  I'm no blonde bimbo, but I'm not a troll.  I have my good

Polly studied her friend seriously for a moment.  "Well, I find you
attractive.  I'd have sex with you if I was into the whole girl/girl
thing."    Tiffany's short dark hair and her gamin face with those
sparkling blue eyes had snared men more often than the oblivious
Tiffany realized.  In spite of the joking tone of the conversation, Polly
wondered why Tiffany never seemed to understand that her quiet
loveliness had an appeal all its own to men.   She winked and nodded.  
"Yep, I'd do you if I was a guy for sure.   I think he's blind—must be
all that overexposure to a single hair color. He's gone blonde blind
and doesn't recognize attractiveness in brunettes, anymore.  You
think?  We could be onto a real scientific find here."

Tiffany laughed.  "Blonde blind?  Well, it's a thought.  Beats me just
being invisible.  Hell, I'm getting desperate.  Maybe I should just
strip.  You know, leave the room when he's over for supper tonight
and walk back in stark naked.  He is male.  Stark naked trumps hair
color any day of the week."

Polly took a sip from her drink.  "Hmmm…true.  He's gorgeous.  No
lack of testosterone there.  It might do the trick.  Just jump him."  She
thought about it for a minute.  "Yeah.  You know, this plan has merit.  
He's bound to see you differently if you flash him."

Tiffany shook her head and tried to stop laughing.  "Polly, I was
joking.  I can't flash him.  I can't walk out naked.    Rejection would
be bad enough.  Naked rejection would be too horrible to
contemplate.  I'd have to move.  Preferably off-planet.  And change
my name.  Then I'd spend years in mind-maintenance fixing my
damaged psyche."

Polly laughed.  "Hey, I never said it was without a certain risk factor.  
But I'm betting it would work. "

Tiffany sobered a little.  Sipping her drink, she tried to figure it all
out.  It was ridiculous really.  She had a good life.  She did a good job
as an accountant.  She paid her taxes and her bills on time.  She had
great friends.  She was happy.  But she wanted more.  She wanted
passion.  She wanted some excitement.  She wanted…Zak.

It was impossible to pinpoint the exact moment her attraction to him
had deepened.  The first day she met him she'd been attracted.  He
was gorgeous.  He was six foot three inches and had an incredible
body.  He had been moving into her apartment complex in the building
across from hers.  She had been walking  through the parking lot just
as he had been carrying boxes toward his place.  The large transpo
vehicle was parked out front and he had emerged from the back of it
with his arms loaded.

She had given him one brief glance of appreciation before turning to
go into her place.  Then she heard a loud crash.  Turning around, she
saw that he had dropped the top box.  She heard a muttered curse
that sounded foreign.  She walked over and asked, "Hi, I'm Tiffany
Simmons.  Can I help?"

He had put the remaining boxes down and was bent toward the
smaller box on the ground.  At the sound of her voice, he jerked
upward in surprise and spun around as if expecting a fight.  His hands
had been clenched.

She remembered clearly how her heart had pounded and her mouth
had gone dry.  Up close, he had taken her breath away.  His dark
brown hair was pulled back in a stubby ponytail at his neck.  He had
silver gray eyes that seemed to look all the way into her soul for a
minute.   His broad shoulders and big chest looked mouth-watering in
that dark blue shirt he had been wearing.  His pants were faded and
hugged the muscular contours of his body.  She had been mesmerized.

He had stared at her intently for a moment, and then grinned.  He
said, "Thanks for the offer, Tiffany.  I'm your clumsy new neighbor,
Zak Lextin.  I think I can manage these boxes but I would love
something cold to drink.  My transfer unit isn't programmed yet."

Her heart had gone into overdrive instantly.  So, she brought him a
cold drink and it had been the beginning of a friendship that had
lasted six years.  In the beginning, she had hoped for more.  Looking
back on it, she could be honest with herself and admit that particular
point.  But at the time, she had pretended that friendship was all she

With an inward grimace she admitted with brutal honesty that she had
settled into the comfortable routine of friendship. This happened
primarily because he had never given any indication that he wanted
more.   Her subtle attempts to catch his attention had been met with
oblivious, friendly good humor.   Oh, they would joke about sex with
each other occasionally, but there was always an underlying
understanding that it was a joke.

Over the years, they had been good friends to each other.   He was a
very private man, but he was decent to the core.  When he spoke of
his past—which was rare—he seemed almost homesick.  She knew he
was from one of the distant planets but could never bring herself to
question him too closely about it.  It seemed like such a painful topic
to him and he appeared so uncomfortable whenever she headed in
that direction with a conversation that she always dropped the
subject.  So, she had respected his boundaries and found a friend
who brought laughter and a lot of joy to her life.

She sighed.  Just not sex.  And there was the problem.  About a
month ago the erotic dreams had started.  Well, erotic dreams didn't
quite cover it.  She'd been having full-blown sexual episodes at night.  
She would dream vivid and realistic images of him touching her with
his mouth and with his hands.  They were her own little personal porn
trips starring the two of them each night.  The mere thought of those
dreams made her feel excited and guilty.

Her mind might be saying "we're buddies and I don't need to mess
that up," but her body was saying, "I'll take multiple orgasms, Ms.
Thinks-Too-Much, and you can find another buddy."  The conflict was
making her crazy.  The image from her dream last night of him filling
her, sliding in and out in a slow sensual glide, flashed into her mind.  
She swallowed.  Night after night she would wake up wet and aching,
with her heart pounding and her entire body yearning for release.

It was bizarre, really.  She thought she'd put him in the neat category
of best buddy after six years with her libido in firm control, and now
sex had to rear its ugly head.  Why now?  It had gotten to the point
where she could barely look him in the eye.   She knew he sensed
something was happening with her, but she also knew he hadn't
completely figured it out yet.

Even if she managed to get his attention, what then?  She wasn't sure
how to make the transition from friend to lover smoothly.  What if
they went to bed and then broke up later?  She couldn't stand the
thought of losing him.  However, she didn't think these feelings were
going to disappear either.  If anything, they were growing stronger.

He seemed oblivious to her as a woman, but she certainly wasn't
doing a good job of hiding her growing feelings.  Things were going
to change—she knew it in her bones.  The big question was if they
were going to change for the better.  She winced.   Somehow it
wasn't looking good for the home team.

"Earth to Tiffany.  Hello.  Remember me?"  Polly's voice penetrated
Tiffany's thoughts and she gave a guilty start.

Polly gave her another sympathetic look when she saw Tiffany was
paying attention again.  "All kidding aside, you're going to have to
figure something out, Tiff.  It's making you miserable.  Zak may be
blind when it comes to your attraction, but he's not blind when it
comes to your well-being.  He'll notice you're unhappy and he'll
demand to know why.  Zak's very protective of you.  Geez, remember
how he got when Jake let you down?  I thought he was going to put
Jake in a med-unit for sure.  You were the only one who could calm
him. "

Tiffany smiled, although it was a little wan.  "Yeah, he was ready to
hunt him down and beat him senseless.   I started crying and Zak just
stood there looking at the door and then looking at me."  She
brightened a little.  "And then he just yanked me right into his arms."

Polly grinned.  "You should have seen his face, Tiff.  The man looked
three kinds of miserable.  He was patting your back and glancing
toward the door and then sighing.   It's actually funny now that
you're not a sobbing wreck."

"Gee thanks.  Not exactly my finest moment." Tiffany made a face and
was glad she could laugh about it now.  "Hey, I have a lousy record
with birthdays, but that one was the worst.  I was expecting a
surprise party and was worried that arriving home early would mess
up the surprise.  Instead, I walk in on Jake and Danita doing the wild
thing.  I was surprised all right.  Way surprised."  She grinned.  "Of
course, they looked outright astonished."

Polly smiled and shook her head.  "You're well rid of that jerk.  He
didn't deserve you.  And this birthday bad luck is pure nonsense."  
She checked her arm-pc and then widened her eyes dramatically.  Her
voice was gently mocking. "Why, Tiffany, I do believe you've made it
halfway through your birthday this year with no great disasters.  
Another twelve hours or so and you should be in the clear."

Tiffany grimaced.  "Oh, I really wish you hadn't said that."

Polly interjected, "A wish!  Wait, we forgot to have you make a wish."

Tiffany leaned forward. "Polly, I love ya, but you're killing me here.  
Let's not do the wish thing.  It's tempting fate.   I swear I really do
have weird birthday karma or something.  Making a wish would
boomerang on me for sure."

Polly merely chided, "Nonsense.  You have to make a birthday wish.  I
have forgone the traditional cake.  I have given in to your request for
no party and have instead paid for an ordinary lunch at our regular
place on our regular lunch hour.  And I had to argue with you to let
me do the paying.  The least you can do is make a wish."

Tiffany smiled ruefully.  "One wish?"

Polly nodded, looking somewhat put out.  "One tiny wish.  It should at
least seem a little like your birthday."

Reluctantly, Tiffany gave in.  "Alright one little wish.  Let's see…I

She heard her arm-pc alarm going off and realized it was time to head
back to work.  She looked at the diners all around her in the
restaurant.  Everyone was eating, paying no attention to the two of
them.  It was a perfectly ordinary, uneventful day.

It was ridiculous to be so superstitious.  Besides, birthdays ought to
be celebrated just a little.  She had let several years' worth of
coincidental bad birthdays throw her off.  It was a new year.  She was
thirty-three.   To hell with superstition and bad birthday karma.  She
closed her eyes and wished silently with all her might, "I wish Zak
would notice me, really notice me and I wish I had a little more
excitement in my life.  Wait.  Is that two wishes?"

As the last beep of her alarm died away she glanced toward the door.  
She felt her heart leap into her throat as Zak burst into the doorway
of the diner, looking grim.  His eyes searched the occupants of the
diner with one decisive sweep and then landed on her.  She was
shocked.  What was he doing here at this time of day?  And why did
he look so deadly serious?

He strode toward the table quickly and then stopped to look down at
her.  His tone was as grim as his expression and he sounded
impatient.  "Tiffany, I'll explain later, but we need to leave right now.  
My real name is Zak Ren'Marna and I'm from Kerla in the Zertica
Galaxy.  There's a killer after you.  It's my fault and I'm sorry.  I'll
protect you.  Come with me."

Polly choked on her drink, but Tiffany just asked, "What?"

Zak leaned down until he was inches from her face.  He said simply,
"Leave with me now.  Trust me.  I'm your promised and you're in
danger.  I'll explain later.  Right now, we need to go."

He placed a brief, hard kiss on her mouth, leaving Tiffany stunned.  
"Zak, are you okay?  I don't understand.   You're not making any
sense."  She stood up from her chair and felt his forehead.  "Are you
feverish?  You don't feel feverish."

Zak jerked at her touch and then grabbed her hand.   He began
tugging her toward the door.  Tiffany was moving reluctantly.  She
turned back toward Polly and said, "Polly, I'll call you.  I don't know
what's wrong with him, but…"

Polly wondered what had gotten into Zak.  She nodded at Tiffany and
sent Zak a puzzled look, wondering if he was actually playing a
practical joke or setting up a birthday surprise..  No matter how crazy
Zak sounded at the moment, he would never hurt Tiffany or let
anyone hurt her.  Regardless, she'd get to the bottom of this mystery
soon enough.  She waved to them and called out, "Don't forget the
flash plan.  And have some fun, for goodness sake.  Happy birthday!"

As Tiffany disappeared through the door, Polly muttered, "Zertica
Galaxy.  A killer.  And Zak's her promised?  That must have been one
hell of a wish."

She touched a series of buttons on her arm-pc and then grimaced as
her subordinate's voice spoke unintelligibly in her ear.  She sighed and
waited until the noise stopped.   Then she spoke patiently, "Jack, you
need to turn the volume down before I go deaf."

Jack's voice was lower now and he sounded sheepish. "Sorry, sir.  

She smiled.  "No prob.  Now listen up…please get me all the
information you can about a Zak Ren'Marna from Kerla in the Zertica
Galaxy.  And Jack…better make it fast…"

I hoped you enjoyed this brief excerpt of "A Wish Away" by Marly
Chance.  It is available in the WICKED WISHES anthology along with
wonderful stories by Stephanie Burke and Joanna Wylde.   Please go
www.marlychance.com/howtoorder.html for more information on
purchasing this book.  Thank you!:)  -- Marly

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