Authors: Brenna Lyons
“Do you have any idea how much embarrassment you’ve caused the nest? Rowe the Elder and Tasker showed up at the doors, full of apologies for some slight they believe Rowe the Younger caused you. They wanted to apologize to you personally. We didn’t even know you were imprisoned until they told us. You get locked up in a common jail and don’t even bother to call your nest? How do you think that made us look to them?”
Arren forced the muscles in his shoulders and back to ease before he answered, well aware that his ridge plates were stirring to life behind his forehead. “I expected them to handle bailing me out themselves, since it was Rowe the Younger’s doing that caused me to act in the first place.”
“You want to excuse this?” He sounded as if the idea was incredulous.
“I own the fact that I punched Rowe. If he’d threatened and manhandled
mate, you might have killed him. I chose to hurt him instead.”
Daveed stared at him, seemingly shocked to silence.
“Mate, Daveed. The word is mate. And as soon as she’s willing, I will bind her as such.”
“So you can tell our
that he will not be seeing me today. Perhaps not for several days. Or a week. I cannot say how long with certainty, given the situation. I gave my mate my vow that I would return to her immediately upon my release. If you had given Joy such a vow, I am sure that you would tell Raashh where to stuff his orders as well.”
Daveed’s hesitation was palatable.
“The fact that you have to consider the answer is amusing, you know.” A smile pulled up at the corners of Arren’s mouth, and he didn’t fight it.
His older brother glared at him. “Going to see Joy would not preclude me seeing Raashh. I’m not the one who moved out of the nest.”
“I don’t regret that move. I doubt I ever will.”
“You have to come to the nest long enough to explain this to our
“I don’t. But you’re headed that way. Have a good time.” He started to round his brother. “Oh, and I am moving our accounts to another law firm. You should be aware of that fact. I will send word when I decide on a new firm, so you can let your personal couriers know.”
“You can’t,” Daveed protested.
“I can. You forget that the one thing Raashh values me for is my business sense. I am the final word in business decisions like this one.
“Spice chooses its partners and employees wisely. Dealing with a firm that openly displays such blatant bigotry is contrary to the honor and integrity of our structure. Not to mention that it lays us open for Rowe the Younger causing us problems down the line.”
His brother’s eyes narrowed. “Bigotry? They said you took exception to how Rowe was dealing with a female employee…that you were offended by the way he talked to her.”
“Then you were lied to. And perhaps they were, as well, though I doubt it. The employee in question was my mate, and Rowe left no question to his feelings about swamp skins, scalies, or anyone who dares to love one. I could go on, but I won’t. Spice will not deal with such a bigoted employee or business partner. And I will not deal with a man that physically assaults any woman, let alone my mate.”
Arren didn’t give Daveed time to collect his wits and protest Arren’s exit. He used his cell phone to summon the company limo and met the car at a jewelry store several blocks away.
Arren nodded to the doorman on the way into the building. If seeing him come through the front door instead of up his private elevator shocked the man, he hid it well.
The building manager’s office was on the main floor. Arren coded himself in with his administrative password, pulled off his glasses in the dim light, and went to the safe. Inside, he picked up his spare set of Identi-chips. The safe secured and the wall closed again, he headed to the far side of the office and keyed his elevator.
The ride up seemed to take longer than usual, and he convinced himself that it was anticipation of seeing her again working against him. Arren had never been an impatient man, but he was today. It was yet another new sensation in a world full of new sensations.
The doors opened, and he stepped into the apartment.
Sandy wasn’t in the living room, curled into the sofa or one of the chairs, reading a book from the library against the far wall. She wasn’t in the kitchen, eating some of the food he’d had stocked for her in the cabinets and the fridge. There was no sound of splashing water in the bath.
His cock went hard at the fact that she was probably in the bedroom. Restraining himself was going to be a chore, but what a delightful chore it would be.
As he’d expected, she was there, asleep in his bed, delightfully tousled. Her red-brown hair fell in loose curls to her shoulders. Arren watched her sleep, heartened by the sight of his intended mate in his bed.
It took a moment for him to identify her outfit. She was wearing the suit shirt he’d worn the day before. He wondered at that. It was an anomaly he would have to investigate.
He toed off his shoes and started to remove his suit jacket. Sandy woke with a start and peered up at him with unfocused eyes. In the next instant, she was hurtling into his arms, reaching up to lay kisses on his cheek and lips.
Between kisses, words gushed from her. “I’m so glad you’re home. Are you okay? I was so worried.”
He smiled at that.
Sandy took a moment to examine his face, and her brow furrowed. “What?”
Arren wrapped his arms around her and reveled in the moment. “Do you want the full list?”
“Uh…yes. I think so.”
He guided her toward the bed. “First of all, I am proud that you called this apartment home. It is an honor and a pleasure that you think so.”
And it means she is more likely to accept my proposal.
Her cheeks darkened in a blush.
“I love that you worry about me.” He lifted her to fit Sandy to his body, groaning as she wrapped her legs around his waist. “And I really like that you’re wearing my clothes.”
She looked down at the shirt, and her blush darkened.
you wearing my clothes?”
“You missed my scent?”
Sandy nodded, her expression starkly serious.
“What?” she asked again.
“I want to ask you something, and I want an honest answer, even if it is that you need time to decide or that you aren’t comfortable with it.”
She swallowed hard. “I think I can promise that.”
“I want you to carry my scent permanently.”
The furrow in her brow deepened, and a slight scowl pulled the edges of her lips down. “I don’t understand what that means,” she admitted.
“I want you to become my mate. When that happens, your scent will change slightly. A bit of my scent will mix with yours, so any other Xxanians will know you’re my mate and…steer clear of you or protect you, as the case may be.”
She stared at him long enough to make his nerves jump in nervous energy. At last, she spoke.
“You want to make me your mate?”
Sandy stared at him, waiting for his answer, terrified that she’d misheard him. He was asking to tie himself to her permanently, to commit to a lifetime of being hers and never looking at another woman? It was too good to be true.
“If you don’t want to—”
“I do.” Saying that was easier than she’d found saying anything in her life.
Her answer seemed to stun him.
“I mean… If that’s what you’re asking, I do want to.”
Arren nuzzled her lips, parting them and delving between, seducing her with his potent taste. He broke away and lowered her to the mattress. Then he sank to one knee before her.
At a loss, she started to stutter out a question.
He motioned for a moment of peace. Then he pulled what was surely a ring box out of his front pocket and offered it to her. “I’m asking. I’m offering to marry you, to make you my mate, to share my life with you.”
“Yes.” What other answer would she give?
He smiled. “You haven’t even seen the ring yet.”
Sandy took the box and opened it, her breathing hitching at the sight of the pear-shaped aquamarine with two diamonds bracketing it in. “Beautiful,” she gasped out.
“Like your eyes. Will you wear it?”
She hurried to pull the ring on, her hands shaking. Arren shucked his jacket and went to work on his shirt. Sandy looked up at him to find his eye slits narrowed. He flicked his tongue out, taking her scent in earnest.
“You haven’t eaten.” Arren didn’t question it.
His jump of subject confused her. “Does it matter?”
“Do you want to mate with me today? Or do you prefer to wait?”
Another jump of subject. “Today. Please…today.”
He scented her in earnest again. “Yes, you do. You would.” His answer was cryptic, at best.
“If you wish to mate with me today, I must make sure you are well fed before we begin.”
“You should?” That meant he wasn’t skipping subjects.
“Yes. I must. You won’t want to stop to eat often during the mating cycle. Neither will I.” His fingers trailed along her lower lip, arousing her. “I will need to make a phone call. Then we will eat. Then…” His eyes went hot in promise.
“Then?” She barely forced the word out.
“Delights the likes of which neither of us have experienced before.”
She nodded. “Yes. Now.”
Sandy’s head came up at the knock at the door. Arren waved her back to her meal and rose, striding to the door dressed only in his trousers. The urge to yell at the caterer for taking so long was strong, and he swallowed it down, wondering at his continuing lack of patience.
The Xxanian didn’t presume to enter. He offered the receipt for Arren to sign, his head down so he wouldn’t accidentally look at the prospective mate he knew was somewhere within the apartment.
Arren signed it, barely noting the amount he was paying for this indulgence. It wasn’t that he had to worry about the expense, but usually he would hold himself accountable for what he was spending. Today, no expense was too much.
The blessing of many daughters was passed in a whisper, and Arren thanked the other Subdominant for his kindness. In the next moment, the rolling carts were inside the apartment, and the other Xxanian male took his leave with a final instruction that Arren should call to have the carts taken away when he was done mating.
He closed the door behind the delivery man and pushed the carts into the bedroom. After a quick look inside to familiarize himself with the contents, he went back to Sandy.
She looked past him. “Is everything all right?”
“Perfect.” He hoped it was.
She licked her lips, spreading her legs slightly. Her scent was enticing, making him crazy for what was to come. His appetite fled, and he pushed his plate away.
“Arren?” Her voice was low and breathy.
“Eat,” he ordered. This was the last chance she’d have until the first frenzy peaked and passed.
Her hand pressed to her shaved mound through his shirt, indicating her need. “But you’re not—”
“Oh, I am.” He slid to the floor and flipped the edge of the shirt up to bare her body to his ravenous mouth. She moved to the edge of the chair with a gasp, inviting him.
There was no question that Sandy wouldn’t eat more, whether or not he continued. With his blood boiling to make her his mate, he couldn’t wait longer to taste the musk coating her seam and thighs.
It was strong in her passion and in her body’s timing. If the
was kind, she would be receptive to him within hours.
He’d only worn condoms this long, because the scientists at SLAL hadn’t been able to determine yet if human women needed mating to ripen them to carry for a Xxanian male. They had proven that a single infusion of a Dominant’s
was capable of irrevocably binding a human woman to him.
He suckled at her body, groaning at her hand closing in the back of his hair, urging him on. Her cries echoed off the walls, and her renewed cream filled his mouth and stoked the fire for more.
They hadn’t tested single infusions of
with Subdominants, and to his knowledge, pregnancy block and condoms had resulted in no unplanned crossbred births. Half a century after the first incursion of Xxanian warriors onto Earth, there was still so much they didn’t know.
It might take three days to bind her, the same amount of time it would take to bind a Xxanian female to him.
Or it might not. The first touch of my
might bind Sandy to me.
The uncertainty was enough to raise his secondary a minute amount. The strain was too much, and he started working his trousers open.
“Arren, please. I want to mate now.”
She didn’t have to ask twice. He guided her chair away from the table, stood, and scooped her into his arms. He crossed the apartment to the bed in a whirlwind of motion and lowered her to the mattress.
Arren stood over her, unfastening his trousers to bare his cocks. Sandy lay on the bed, her legs spread, circling her hand over her clit. She licked her lips at the sight of his primary, and he shivered in delight. Perhaps it was instinct that led her to precisely what he needed her to do.
Her eyes widened at the sight of his secondary. Arren stroked it, bringing it up further for her. When it was a third of the length of his primary, he stopped and finished removing his trousers. Naked, he stepped toward the bed.
She reached up, touching his secondary, moaning as it wrapped around the curve of her finger and skittered up and down her knuckle. Sandy pushed to her knees on the mattress and licked the secondary’s soft head. He released a spurt of
onto her tongue at that move.
It has started. Or is done.
The need to see her bound to him was maddening.
Arren didn’t have to tell her what to do. Sandy sucked the secondary, stroking the primary while she did. It grew in her mouth, exploring his mate, staking claim to her.