Miners of Djaromir Toren - Leora Gonzales

Chapter One

“Don’t forget this.” Melanie held out pamphlet on Djaromir given to each bride in their volunteer packet. “Have you read up on Gunninng?”

“A little,” Jessie answered as she tucked the last of her belongings into the large duffle she’d brought with her into space. She’d crammed it so full it almost wouldn’t zip, but with an umph and Melanie’s help, she managed.

“Jesus, what’s in here?” Her friend toed the bag as if Jessie were hiding a body inside or something. “This can’t all be clothes.”

“Just a little this and that,” she replied. She didn’t want to explain the dozens of her favorite romance paperbacks weighing her down. She’d categorized them as essential. Considering the fact that her e-reader’s battery bit the dust before they’d left the solar system, she was glad that she had. She’d be nutty by now without the ability to escape into her favorite books. Her love for reading gave her not only a mental health break, but it also filled her with hope that someday she’d live her happily ever after she’d just read about. Unfortunately, the plethora of books piled into her bag left her with very little space for other things.

Looking back at the handful of tops she’d brought with her, Jessie couldn’t help but wonder if she’d made a strategic mistake by using much of her meager luggage allotment for her paperbacks. At the time, it seemed like a no-brainer, but she was seriously questioning it now. Her goal when packing had been clothes that were practical and comfortable—not tempting or sexy, like some of the others in the group she’d arrived with. The fact that she was rotating the same seven outfits over and over again wasn’t helping either. Even she was getting tired of the wearing the same blue sweater every week, and it was her absolute favorite piece of clothing. The cut and soft fabric flattered her curvy figure perfectly—or at least that’s what she’d been told by the saleslady. Considering the sweater hadn’t tempted a Djaromir into mating with her, she wondered if the gal had lied to her and it made her look hideous.

This fucking sucks, she thought. She knew it was silly to think it was her clothes that were the cause of it all, but she was running out of things to place blame. On a planet full of sex-starved males, Jessie couldn’t find one attracted to her.

Each time one of her few friends mated with “the man of their dreams,” her insecurities multiplied. Was she too fat? Too loud? Was her laugh obnoxious? Did she need to be more outgoing?

The constant peppering of doubt creeping in and out of her mind left her exhausted. She’d begun transforming into someone she didn’t want to be.

“I’m going to miss you,” Melanie said as she came forward to offer a hug.

“I’m gonna miss you too.”

Melanie was one of the friendlier women she’d met during her time on Djaromir. They became quick friends once they realized, without mates, there were few other volunteers left to befriend. Jessie was certain Mel would be tagging along on the trip to the next tunnel city to meet the next round of eligible aliens, but plans changed the week before. Melanie found her mate when the last batch of miners returned from their latest mission.

Lucky bitch.

“Well…hopefully, I won’t be too far away.” Jessie looked around one last time and let out a sigh. The room she’d been assigned in Fyeir was one of the prettiest she’d ever seen, much less had the chance to sleep in. She’d come to look forward to seeing the jewels imbedded above her every morning when she opened her eyes. “I’m going to miss the sparkle. I still can’t believe the look of this place sometimes. It’s like a dream.”

“I’d miss it too,” her friend said as she ran a hand over the raw gemstones littered amongst the carved rock wall. “Basil said this city is the only one with the stones scattered everywhere. Did the pamphlet say what Gunninng is supposed to be like?”

“Not really.” Jessie shook her head. “There was a little bit about some of the older tunnels and that they’re decorated, but that’s about it.”

“Like cave paintings?”

“I don’t know. I’d ask Rue if she knew any more about where we’re headed, but she’s been really busy with her warlord. They pop out of their quarters, grab food from the dining hall, and dash back to their room before I can stop her to chat.