Zane (Alien Adoption Agency #4) - Tasha Black



Sarah Flynn prided herself on not being easily rattled.

But after a couple of hours aboard a flimsy excuse for a ship, with constant turbulence thrashing her around the cabin and making her bad leg ache, she was starting to question every decision that had brought her here.

Justice, Sarah, she reminded herself firmly. Justice delayed is justice denied.

She glanced across the aisle at her fellow adoptive mothers. Each of them was wearing a low-cut purple gown identical to the one Sarah wore. In her opinion, they looked like a trio of floozies headed for certain disaster.

In reality, they were heading to Lachesis, the second moon of the gas-mining planet Hesiod-8, to meet the babies they would adopt and raise.

The women had been recruited by the Alien Adoption Agency back on their respective Terran planets. The intake process was tricky, and very few women made it through. Unlike most selection processes on the Terras, Sarah had been shocked to realize that the Alien Adoption Agency didn’t appear to make its choices based on connections or bribes.

She wasn’t really sure how they made their decisions. There had been tests - written, medical and psychological. She hadn’t expected to pass, after all, she wasn’t exactly doing this because she was longing for a child.

But when she got her letter and arrived at intake along with Liberty and Abigail, there had been no explanation offered for why any of them had been chosen to serve as mothers on Lachesis.

Liberty obviously came from money, but had fallen on low times. Her shoes and clothing were worn when she arrived at intake, but her hair was the striking, iridescent blue-black possible only with expensive in-womb modifications. Whoever her family was, they had raised the elegant Liberty gently. Then perhaps, they had unceremoniously ejected her, leaving her with no option but to flee the planet.

Sarah didn’t really know, and she had never asked, since it was none of her business. She had a begrudging respect for Liberty that slowly turned into friendship during their time together.

Abigail, on the other hand, was an open book. They all knew everything about her six brothers and sisters back home, her old teaching job, her infertility, and the two dozen possible names she had picked out in advance for the baby who would make her a mama. It did no good to remind Abigail that the baby would be Imberian, not Terran, and might not have the same needs and wants as her six younger siblings, whom she had blissfully cared for throughout her childhood. Abigail radiated delight about the whole adoption process.

And much as Sarah hoped the girl wouldn’t be disappointed, she couldn’t help but feel that Abigail’s happiness had smoothed the process for all of them. You couldn’t be in her presence without feeling just a little bit light-hearted.

The ship dropped so suddenly that her stomach flipped, and then it caught itself on the air again with a jolt that made her bad leg throb.

Sarah winced and clutched her cane.

She had taken a bullet in that leg during the bank robbery where she lost her father. The surgeons had to take a chunk of muscle from her leg because of the poor quality of the projectile. Now she had a slight limp, and an ache that came and went.

Sarah and her father had run an accounting business and it was tax season on Terra-7 at the time of the robbery. They had been bringing the week’s receipts to the bank after a very long day, when an idiot that called himself Jericho Caldwell came marching in, waving an old-fashioned gun around and demanding money.

Banks were insured. All he’d had to do was go up to the counter with a note to be given huge sacks of credits and sent peacefully on his way.

But Caldwell was the kind of man who liked a little drama. So of course things escalated. By the time he made his escape, several people were injured, and Sarah’s father was bleeding out on the marble floor.

The city cops hadn’t even made a real effort to catch him. They told Sarah there were “bigger fish to fry” and the bank’s insurance company would sort it out.

Sure enough, they had paid out a tidy sum. But Reginald Bowen Flynn could not be replaced with a stack of credits. He deserved justice. And if no one would give it to her, then Sarah was determined to hunt down the criminal herself.

She’d begun by hiring a private investigator who had tracked