Authors: Erin Tate
Tags: #scifi romance
Cara Marte caught Rhal fa Adar—Ujal assassin—in a lie and the love she holds for him slowly dies. When she realizes their relationship is truly done, she goes to the Intergalactic Mating Agency to find a mate. Except, even as she leaves Rhal behind, he screws with her future. Because Cara is unmatchable and it’s his fault.
RHAL is a five-part serial (like a TV show) with a new installment out every Friday. The entire storyline will be available for FREE with Kindle Unlimited, or you can wait to download the full story as a bundle for $2.99.
Rhal fa Adar was a liar, an asshole, and the sexiest man—Ujal—Cara had ever seen. Too bad the sexy couldn’t make up for the lying asshole tendencies. In that way, Ujal males were no different than humans. Oh, Rhal had gone on and on about integrity and honor and strength and everything that made high guards—warriors closest to the prince—so damn special.
She wondered where lying fit in with the integrity. Did they live side by side in his head or did they tag team? Did they alternate days? Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were designated integrity days? Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday he got to be a liar? They alternated Sundays?
The more she thought about it, the angrier she got. And the angrier she got, the more her eyes burned with tears. And the more her eyes burned with tears, the angrier she got until she was blindly running down the halls of UST—Ujal Station Tau. They were empty at this time, the employees either gathered around televisions to watch the press conference with Prince Tave and Principessa Rina or were catching it at home.
A press conference she’d attended for a few minutes. She’d snuck in behind a camera crew, pretending to be part of the group.
“I have a question?” She waited for Rina’s nod. “What about children? Are previously human Ujal mates capable of carrying hatchlings?”
Cara would have asked Rina privately, would have waited until her best friend had time for a cup of coffee or something, but then things had been so whip-fast for Rina and Tave. From meet to mate in what seemed like a tornado. And then Rina had been hauled to Tau for a week before she reappeared for the press conference to discuss human-Ujal matings. Changes. The Population Ministry. The Intergalactic Mating Agency. All of it.
And by the time that’d happened, Cara had been overcome with the need to
. Because Rhal’s last words to her ripped at her mind every hour of the day. He’d gone to Tau with Rina and Tave, but he had to talk to her first. He had to tell her…
“I can never mate you. I want hatchlings, Cara, and those you cannot give me.”
Then he’d walked.
Ran, more like it. Cara chuckled, and that was followed by a sob, the sound ripped from her throat. She swallowed the next and pressed her lips together to suppress the third. She wouldn’t break down in the middle of UST. She wouldn’t. She was a professional, and she’d act like one. All she had to do was keep it together until she got to the beach house she rented from Rina. Fifteen minutes tops. Grab her purse. Hop on a hovobus, walk a few blocks, and done.
Cara strode down the hallway, making her last turn before she stood in front of her office door. She pressed her thumb to the identipad and waited for the red light to turn green. Then the locks retracted, granting her access. She didn’t bother turning on the lights, merely moved around the small space from memory. She wasn’t one of the lucky ones with a window to the outside, so there was no ambient light to make her way clear, but she didn’t need it. She skirted one of the two chairs in front of her desk and then strode to the larger piece of furniture. She bent and yanked on her drawer, tugging it open and—
And a large, cool hand encircled her wrist. The skin was damp, and the lingering scent of the sea tickled her nose. She couldn’t see who’d grabbed her, but she didn’t need to.
,” she spat his name. “What are you doing in here?”
She wouldn’t ask how he got in. Or how he managed to get from one end of UST to the other before her. He’d done the impossible more than once, teasing her with his tricks until he reminded her there were dozens of ocean-based access points within the station and as one of the prince’s high guards, he knew—and had access to—them all.
“Cara…” The way he said her name—a deep, husky whisper—had her trembling, and that infuriated her even more.
She yanked her arm from his grip and jerked away from him. “What. Are. You. Doing. Here?”
“What do you want, Rhal?”
Because it isn’t me.
He sighed, and she imagined him running his fingers through his midnight hair, his black eyes holding so much fury. His scales wouldn’t flutter though. It was proof of a true warrior when he could control his scales though strong emotion surged through his veins. “How did you get into the press conference, Cara?”
“Miss Marte,” she corrected. She wasn’t Cara to him. Not any longer. When she followed him into darkened corners, when she listened to his whispered words and touched his warm, bare skin, she was Cara.
He growled, the tone dropping so low it was almost imperceptible. “Miss Marte, how did you get in and why were you attending the press conference?”
She gritted her teeth. “How’d I get in? That’s your question? Seriously?” She snorted. “No apology. No backtracking. No begging for a chance to explain.” She shook her head. “I shoulda figured, huh?” Tears stung her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. “Fine,” she snapped. “I followed the guys with INBC. Your security guys check badges and bodies at the door and give a general direction with very few attendants between the entry and the pressroom. It was easy to slip into their group. A sweet smile and a pretty face, right?”
It was one of the things they’d discussed in the few months they’d been spending time together. He’d constantly bitched about the teens being distracted by women.
His lips formed a grim line across his face. “Why were you there?”
“Because I’d heard rumors like everyone else in the world. The prince took a mate. It just so happens Rina is my best friend, and she’s been hidden away by the Ujal for the last week. I wanted to see her and learn the truth myself. And then I heard about the changes to her body and…”
I wanted to know if I’d be changed if we mated
. She took a cleansing breath before she continued. Maybe she was overreacting. Maybe he
known about a human-turned-Ujal’s ability to carry hatchlings. Maybe he wasn’t a liar, and she was freaking out for no reason. She released her purse and retraced her steps, going back toward the door. She tapped the wall, and the lights in the room slowly rose, gradually taking them from darkness to light.
It’d only been a week since she’d last seen Rhal, but his appearance stole her breath. From his black hair to his colorless eyes, and then the muscles that covered him. Most Ujal males were strong, their bodies firm and honed by swimming through the sea, but Rhal was something else entirely. His body looked as if carved from granite, the lines sharp and deep. He didn’t look strong; he
strong. He didn’t bend to the whim of the elements; they bent for
It was heady to be the center of his world, to live and revel in his attention. It was beautiful and glorious and lonely when he released you.
Cara cleared her throat. “I wondered if, because of her mating with Tave, she’d be able to carry his hatchlings. I could have waited, but I wanted to know, and she’d answered the other questions about the changes, so I asked.” She took a steadying breath. “And now I know. The question is how long did you? Was it a line? ‘Baby, I’d mate you, but I want a family, so see ya ‘round’?”
“It was not as you describe.”
Such a guy answer. Cara shook her head. “Then what was it like? Tell me. Because you broke my heart, Rhal. You told me I wasn’t enough because I couldn’t give you children, and now I find out I could if we mated. You’re part of Tave’s inner circle. You mean to tell me that when you said goodbye, you didn’t know I could give you hatchlings?”
His face was a mask of harsh lines and deadly concentration. It was a look that sent everyone scurrying. One that had the guards ducking around corners and made some of the youngest cry. His fury was nearly a physical thing, an invisible beast that whipped at anyone who got too close.
She should be afraid. She should fear for her life.
“Cara…” He growled and fisted his hair, tugging lightly, before releasing the dark strands. “It is not as simple as that.”
She fought for air, battling to calm herself while Rhal ripped out her heart. “Then explain it to me.” She padded forward, intent on invading his space, and didn’t stop until they were nearly chest-to-chest. “In very small, single syllable words. How was it? You claim to love me, want me in your life, but you won’t mate me because I can’t give you a family. Now I know that’s a lie, but was it a lie by ignorance or intent, Rhal?”
“Cara,” he murmured and a flash of light flickered across his eyes, the blackness lit with flares of gold like the sun.
As much as she hated him, she cared for him, and she couldn’t keep her hands to herself. She cupped his cheek gently, marveling at the clash of his deeply tanned skin with her paleness. “Ignorance or intent? I can forgive ignorance and we can move forward. We can figure this out.”
Rhal was warm beneath her palm despite the cool ocean water that still clung to his skin. She stroked him gently with her thumb and enjoyed the feel of him. It’d been a week since she’d seen him, and she missed him every day. Every single one. She would usually watch him run his current group of males in training past the house she rented from Rina, hiding her smile when one young male or another succumbed to his scales. Running on the wet, sandy beach was a trail of both endurance and strength. The salt water would call to his scales while he pushed each of them to keep a rapid pace. Their goal was to keep up and keep to their skin.
The male that’d taken his place was way too easy on this group of hopefuls, but watching them each morning as the sun rose made her feel closer to him. Even if she hadn’t thought they had a chance, she’d wanted him.
More gold with a sparkling hint of red streaked through his eyes. “Ignorance or intent?” She could forgive one, but not the other—never the other, and he knew exactly why. “It’s a simple question, Rhal.”
* * *
“It’s a simple question, Rhal.”
Cara did not know what she asked. She could not, for if she did, she would not put voice to the question. No, she would not have said the words aloud as her golden hair tumbled around her shoulders, her eyes sparkled with fury, and her body tensed with anger.
Rage suited her. It made her so much more beautiful to him and called to his soul, made him want to answer her anger with a different kind of passion. His cock hardened and throbbed with need for Cara, to feel her hands on him, her mouth on him, his dick inside—
His skin stretched tautly, his reaction to her like a caress to his scales, and they threatened to come to the surface, to show her how she affected him.
A simple question? Never.
“Cara…” She always told him the way he said her name touched something inside her. That it resonated in her chest.
He did not tell her he felt the same—could not tell her. Could not give her hope. And yet he had. Through touches, kisses, and words. He did not push her away as he had so many others. No, he pulled her close, let her creep into his heart, and let her see more than any other.
It was a mistake. Yet he did not know if he could have denied her. Not then. He would have to now. No, in truth, his words would send her reeling and running from him as fast as her human legs could carry her.
His heart would break with every step.
“Tell me,” she whispered, her eyes glistening. She knew his answer. She must know.
The darkness in him stirred, reminding him why he’d allowed her close. It wanted her, craved her, wanted to possess her.
Ignorance or intent?
“Intent.” His voice was strong and sure, no hint of the pain that churned inside him. It was different from the aches from his past. This speared him with a deadly efficiency. It went straight to the crumbled remnants of his heart and dug deeply. It lodged in his chest and wrapped itself around him in a strangling blanket.
The liquid in her eyes grew in size until it slipped past her lashes and trailed down her cheek. First one and then another and then another. But her touch remained, her hand gentle against his cheek. Even as he broke her heart, her caring for him remained. It was there in the depth of her gaze, the ever-changing colors of her eyes.
He hurt her and yet her love had not died. Yet.