Read Alien Refuge Online

Authors: Tracy St. John

Tags: #dominationsubmission, #erotica aliens, #clans of kalquor, #kalquor, #erotica bdsm, #tracy st john, #futuristic erotica, #science fiction erotica, #erotica, #menage

Alien Refuge (6 page)

BOOK: Alien Refuge
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Thomas knew to take advantage when she wavered. He pulled free of her, yelling, “Run!” He took off, his legs stretching in an all-out sprint. Copin laughed, pulled his robes up to his knees, and ran after the child. Iris watched nervously as the pair wove in and out of pillars.

Rivek’s hand brushed the middle of her back. “Matara, I promise you your son will be fine. We will let no harm come to him. Please follow me.”

He began walking again and Iris followed. Thomas was now out of sight, but she could hear the clear peals of his laughter and shouts. Copin laughed too, as if he was having the time of his life rather than babysitting an energetic six-year-old.

Tangerine light danced farther along their route. Iris recognized the flickering as that of fire. In the middle of a wide-open space, she and Rivek came upon a firepit in which a large bonfire crackled. Its heat was a furnace blast. As she and Rivek drew near to it, Iris saw another priest was in the space. His robes were the same as Rivek’s, his hair as long. He wasn’t nearly as handsome, Iris noted, though his features were finer. His face was long, and he radiated perfect calm as he approached the fire. He held a large painting in his hands, a landscape of majestic mountains over a calm, peach-colored lake. The piece was of such surpassing beauty, rendered with such skill, that Iris forgot to breathe.

The priest saw her and Rivek’s approach. He smiled and bowed to her the instant before he tossed the stunning art into the reaching flames.

Iris halted on the spot, gasping at the horrific destruction. The priest paid her no mind, only watching as the painting blackened and was consumed by the fire.

Rivek also stopped and looked at her. He waited, clearly inviting her to speak.

Iris choked, “Why – why is he doing that? It was so beautiful.” She felt the warning prickle in her eyes. She was on the verge of crying over the piece’s destruction.

Rivek brushed her back again, as if to comfort her. “Yes, it was. Master Nis is a talented artist, isn’t he? There are many reasons why he destroys his work over and over. Come. I’ll tell you about it as we walk.”

Iris stumbled after Rivek, still in disbelief as Master Nis continued to stand before the fire, gazing into its brightness where the painting had been. The seemingly wanton obliteration of such art made her want to demand an explanation from him, even though it had been his work to ruin.

She turned her back on the scene, wondering at her profound reaction. But it had been such a beautiful painting, and she knew art. Iris had attended many a gallery show, had wandered the museums filled with the works of the masters. Earth’s religious authority had demolished enough works deemed ‘profane’ or ‘sinful’ for her to mourn the loss of any such creative endeavor. It hurt her heart to know so much more irreplaceable beauty had been lost due to Armageddon. To see someone destroy work equal to that left her senses reeling.

Rivek’s silken voice soothed over the ragged edges of Iris’ despair. “You see, Nis is teaching himself about humility, what constitutes true importance, and the inevitability of all things ending as we know them. On one level, he reaches for perfection. He forever strives to create something without flaw.”

“But nothing is perfect,” Iris said, though Master Nis’ landscape had certainly approached that realization.

“Precisely. So he feeds his imperfect work to the flames and starts again.”

Iris’ brows drew together. “But if he can’t achieve perfection, what’s the point?”

“Just because a thing is impossible does not mean we should not attempt it. Besides, it is the journey that is important, not reaching the destination.”

Well, that at least was something Iris could agree with. “Earthers have a saying along those lines. What other lessons is he learning?”

“That though he has worked long and hard on his creations, in the end they are only things. They may enhance life, but they are not life itself. They are ultimately not important.”

Iris thought such skill should be considered important, but she didn’t want to argue with her host. “I remind myself of that all the time when my son breaks things. I get a lot of practice with that concept.”

Rivek laughed, and Iris’ heart leapt at the wonderful sound. The worst of her shock was passing, and she didn’t question why the Kalquorian’s amusement made her feel so much better.

The Imdiko continued his explanation. “Finally, Nis is demonstrating that everything eventually passes away, good and bad. Nothing is eternal, no matter how we may fight to keep things safe. It is the lesson that one should not cling when separation is inevitable.”

Iris thought about that. Rivek’s lessons did make sense, to a degree. She nodded her understanding. “It’s still awful to see him destroy something so stunning. I sure couldn’t do it.”

Rivek chuckled. They had reached an arched doorway leading to a smaller room. He motioned that she should precede him inside. “Please come in and sit.”

Iris stepped into the room, feeling how the floor had give beneath her scuffed boots. The surface was made of something she knew of as cushion base, a flooring designed to offer stability while absorbing falls. Thomas’ nursery on Earth had possessed such flooring.

The room was a sizeable space, though there was little in it. In fact, half of it was empty. The other half had a low desk with only a computer and a book – an actual oval-shaped book with pages – on its surface. Near it, a cluster of huge seating cushions sat in a circle. There were enough of the billowing pillow-like pads to seat at least half a dozen big Kalquorians. Everything was white, though it seemed a more diffused white than the main part of the temple. It was such a soft paleness that it almost seemed to contain Iris in a dreamlike haze.

All but two of the walls were blank. One wall was in the unfurnished portion of the room. Hanging from it were what appeared to be an assortment of poles of differing lengths and thicknesses. Some appeared to be made of wood; others, metal.

The wall nearest the desk had a small, simple food heating element and cooling chamber. Rivek went to this wall and tapped the surfaces, opening cabinets with cups, saucers, and packaged foods and drink mixes.

Feeling overly warm, Iris took off her coat and hat. The thin elastic band keeping her hair in a ponytail broke, tumbling golden hair down past her shoulders. Scowling, she raked her fingers through it, wishing for a brush. She smoothed down the thick flannel men’s shirt she wore over her work-hardened frame and inspected her jeans for stains. She hadn’t received any spills from Thomas’ clumsy hands yet today, so she was mostly presentable. That was a blessing, since she hadn’t really planned on a visit. She’d only wanted to drop off the pie.

Oh, who was she kidding? She’d wanted to thank Jol, that was true, but she’d also hoped to find some way to see him again. Kalquorian or not, there was something about the man that had drawn her. What that was, Iris wasn’t sure, and she’d done her best to talk herself out of approaching him. Yet the compulsion had been overwhelming.

“Please sit in the conversation circle,” Rivek invited, not turning to look at her. He was busy fussing with the heater.

Here was another surprise for Iris, the second in as many days. Jol’s Imdiko was every bit as spellbinding as the Nobek. What was this bizarre fascination that kept coming over her around Kalquorians, the very people she’d kept her distance from?

Iris stepped into the circle of seating cushions and chose the billowiest one she could find. She sank into its softness, barely restraining a sigh. It was big enough that she could have curled up on it and slept. She was reminded of how tired she was. Thomas had woken three hours before dawn, rousing her after only four hours of slumber. Years of dealing with his insomnia had assured Iris he would not get back to sleep for the rest of the night, so she’d taken advantage of the extra time to bake pies. That was when the crazy idea of thanking Jol with one had taken hold.

Rivek turned around with two cups in his hands. He blinked at her for an instant, as if surprised by something. Then a pleased smile spread across his face, and he came to the circle.

“You have beautiful hair,” he said. “I’ve never seen hair precisely that color, like morning sunshine on a clear day.”

Iris blinked and felt her face warm at the compliment. “Thank you,” she mumbled. She thought about commenting on his own amazing tresses, but worried it might sound insincere. Besides, she couldn’t echo such poetic praise.

Rivek handed one of the cups to Iris, and the sweet scent of hot chocolate wafted to her nostrils. She cupped her hands around the warmth of the cup and inhaled gratefully as Rivek sat across from her. Chocolate was a real treat, one almost unheard of on Haven.

Iris blew and took a sip. Heaven. It was hard to remember her manners, that she was interrupting the priest at his work ... whatever that entailed. Still, she didn’t want Rivek thinking he could convert her to whatever the Kalquorian religion was.

She told him, “I really didn’t mean to take up your time. It’s just I don’t have clearance to visit your clanmate at his work or your home, so I couldn’t deliver the pie directly to him.”

Rivek sipped his own steaming cup with quiet pleasure. “Actually, he plans to go to your home this morning after a meeting he’s having.”

Iris sat up straight. “He does?”

“He said your heating system is close to failure and needs immediate repair.”

Iris swallowed. “It has been making funny sounds lately, but I don’t have anything left to trade for someone to check into it. It’s really getting ready to fail?”

“Jol was certain of it.”

Jol was going to her home. And here she was, delivering a pie. She started to rise. “I should get back if he’s coming—”

Rivek waved her back down. “Don’t worry. Let me see if he’ll pick up his com.”

The com came out of the robe’s folds again, and the Imdiko pressed a button twice. A moment later, the thundery voice from yesterday transmitted. “
Retig
, Rivek.”

Rivek smiled at the com. “Hello, Jol. Matara Iris is here with me at the temple, expressing her appreciation for your help yesterday. Have you visited her home yet as you planned?”

“I was just on my way. She’s with you?”

Iris knew the disappointment she heard in his voice was wishful thinking. True, she was enjoying being around Rivek, who was every bit as interesting as Jol. However, the priest was much more accessible than Haven’s head of security. She probably wouldn’t get another chance to see Jol anytime soon. She wished she could convince Rivek to let her leave.

Jol’s voice sounded as if it was right in the room with her. “If the Matara will allow me to use emergency access to her home, I will replace the blower element, which is what I think is failing.”

Rivek raised an eyebrow at her. “Matara Iris?”

It was on the tip of Iris’ tongue to refuse Jol’s offer, as thrilling as it was to be the recipient of his kindness. The man was simply too generous with his time and efforts. Yet she had Thomas to consider. Losing the house’s heat in the depths of Haven’s winter wasn’t an option.

She swallowed her pride with effort. “Yes. I give permission. Thank you, Nobek Jol. Again.” Her cheeks burned with embarrassment. It was awful to have to take charity all the time.

Jol’s tone was warm, not in the least put out. “It is my honor to assist you, Matara Iris. I hope to have your unit fully operational again by the time you get home.”

Rivek said, “I will see you later, Jol.” He shut the com down and turned that easy smile back on Iris.

She was overcome. Her voice weak, she said, “So I should make him another pie?”

Rivek laughed heartily at that, and after a moment Iris joined him. She shook her head at the situation she found herself in. “I really wanted to express my sincere appreciation for him saving Thomas. A pie for a life. Pretty silly, but I had to do something. Thomas is my world, my everything—”

Just that fast, the hilarity was gone. Her eyes filled, and Iris bowed her head so the Kalquorian wouldn’t see her cry. She sat there clutching her hot chocolate, blinking out tears, fighting for control. Rivek said nothing. He sat quietly, waiting for her to calm.

At last she did, and she raised her gaze to his peaceful face. Rivek had finished his drink, and he placed his hands over hers, raising her cup to her lips. As Iris drank the delicious hot chocolate, he said, “Thomas is a fortunate child. And you, a fortunate woman to have him.”

Iris swallowed. “No one sees that. They just see his explosions of temper, his poor impulse control, the way he doesn’t speak well. They don’t see him. They don’t know how lucky I am.”

BOOK: Alien Refuge
12.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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