Authors: Erin Tate
TAVE is a three-part serial (like a TV show). The entire storyline will be available for FREE with Kindle Unlimited, or you can purchase the full story as a bundle for $2.99.
Rina didn’t know what dragged her from slumber. She knew it sure as hell wasn’t Tave’s hands on her, sinking into her over and over again until she…
How did she know this? Because when they’d finished their swim yesterday, he’d fallen back on his honor and decided no further hanky-panky would happen. They would get to know one another so that she no longer had suspicious thoughts about him. She tried to tell him it was difficult to dispel with years of conditioning in a day.
He said she was worth the wait.
A low scratch and scrape reached her, something colliding with the house’s exterior wall, and she sighed. If some crab managed to make it this far from the sea, she’d have to go toss it back in. The last thing she wanted was the little guy to fry on the pavement. With a groan, she rolled from the bed, untangling herself from the twisted blankets, and finally pushed to her feet. Still bleary-eyed, she shuffled to the bedroom window to see if she could spy the asshole.
She was sure she’d been lost in a lovely, sexytimes dream with Tave and his tongue and…
“Hmm…” She hummed and rubbed one eye as she reached for the curtain with her free hand. She tugged it aside and squinted when the sunrise filled her eyes.
Wait, her window didn’t catch the morning light.
The flare came again and she blinked away the brightness to see…
What the fuck!
A sleazy guy was on the other side of the window, massive camera in hand and the flash was going a mile a minute, blinding her with each flare. Others crowded behind him, more of those lights flickering and lighting up her room. A booming roar, one that vibrated the entire space, hit her a split second before she was shoved aside. The curtains snapped closed with a rush of fabric as she tried to blink away the floating spots in her vision.
” Warm hands tugged her close and Tave hugged her to his chest. “I’m so sorry.”
He crooned, the small vibrations stroking her nerves and some of her tension bled away. “That was human paparazzi. Vados
see a human male yesterday though we did not realize he had taken pictures of us during our swim in the seas.”
Rina groaned. “No.”
“Yes. Several images of our passion were published this morning, and one of my nakedness appeared on some of the more unsavory sites.”
Another groan and she buried her face against his chest. “Oh, God.”
Tave stiffened. “Are you upset that our loving was exposed? That you are now seen as
a scale lover
?” The last few words were said with a sneer and Rina tore herself from his embrace.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
He pressed his lips together and glared. “It is what is being said.”
“So you believe stupid papers instead of me?” She pointed toward the water. “Do you think I could make love to you like that and be upset when others know of our relationship? I don’t care that you’re Ujal, Tave. I care that everyone has seen what belongs to me and has pictures of what was supposed to be a private moment between us!”
Admittedly, if she had really wanted privacy to get down and dirty, they shouldn’t have gotten frisky in the ocean, but it still felt like an invasion.
Tave breathed deeply and released the air slowly, repeating the process until his anger was bled away. “You are correct. I am sorry, my
. I am just as furious as you.” He tugged her close once again, arms like steel bands around her. “You are
and no other should witness the way you respond to me.” He rasped the words and then his lips were on hers, tongue delving into her mouth in a kiss of possession, not passion. He was claiming her with his mouth and the hardness against her hip told her he’d like to claim her in other ways as well. “Mine.”
She returned his passion, stroke for stroke, tasting and savoring his salty, musky flavors. Just like the previous day, her need for him rose hot and fast, her body preparing for him between one heartbeat and the next. Her blood heated with his nearness. Her nipples hardened, and her pussy grew heavy and ached for his touch, for his length.
Of course, that growing ball of craving had to be popped before they could go past kissing. Someone nearby coughed, the sound deliberate.
Tave lifted his head with a low growl, turned his attention toward her bedroom door, and she followed the path of his gaze. He snapped out a single word. “What?”
—stood framed in the doorway, her face impassive, though a hint of happiness filled her eyes. “We’re ready when you are.”
With that, his
disappeared down the hallway and Rina refocused her attention on her mate. Because he was her mate. She’d experienced their connection, embraced it, and couldn’t wait to bind themselves to each other.
“Come. We are gathered in the living area. We have decisions to make.” He stepped away from her, heading toward the room’s exit, only to pause just before they entered the hallway. “Everything is at your desire. I do not want you to feel pressured no matter what others say, Rina.
is your choice and
you decide will change my feelings for you or alter my desire to claim you as mine. You must understand this.”
Rina nodded—what else could she do—and he must have taken that as permission to continue. They strode toward the living room and she realized several people were in her home. How long had they been inside while she slept blissfully ignorant in her room?
Her mom was resting on the love seat, Tave’s
at her side. The head of PR was in another chair, and Vados and Niax stood guard near the front door. A glance toward the back of the house revealed two other guards stationed there.
“Rina.” Her mom rose from the couch and then rushed forward to give her a hug. “How are you?”
She frowned. “Uh, fine? Or I’ll be fine once I know how bad it is and what we’re gonna do to limit the damage.”
Her mate’s objection was immediate. “There is no damage because our mating is nothing to regret or be afraid of.”
“My son…” His mother sighed.
“No. I refuse to placate or play to the media. If they do not like my choice of mate, the Ujal shall leave Earth and let them destroy themselves as was their objective so many decades ago.” His tone was unyielding—firm—and she had to admit that it was pretty damned hot.
His plan had a lot of flaws, but his passion was sexy as hell.
“Tave,” she whispered his name, drawing his attention. “Relax. Let’s sit down and discuss this.”
She knew he didn’t want to. It was in his eyes, the lines of his body, but he finally nodded. “Fine.” He tugged her toward the couch, but instead of allowing her to sit beside him, he pulled her onto his lap. “I will discuss this, but it shall be with you in my arms. It will keep me from hunting down the males who caused these problems.”
Rina listened patiently, as her boss laid out the issues, handing over copies of the images and the accompanying articles that seemed to inflame the protest groups.
Once she’d heard it all, she spoke. “So, it boils down to these pictures hitting the press and celeb sites, which has the anti-Ujal groups up in arms. How are we doing with the equality sectors?”
Rina raised her eyebrows. All business. “And our statement?”
When Rina received a copy of the statement, she scanned it quickly. It was clouded and colored with thoughts of her relationship with Tave. “I want to personalize it a little more, add some emotive sentences that will bring us closer to a ‘couple in love and couldn’t help it’ type of scenario.”
She ignored his stiffening and wondered if she’d made assumptions she shouldn’t have. Of course she did. It wasn’t like they were
after a day. Or were they? Because Ujal mates had that instantaneous and unbreakable connection that could never be denied.
They’d discuss it later.
“Okay.” She stroked his arm as it lay in her lap. “Ideally, we distribute that press release, and then we go to ground for a while. Let it pass and maybe discuss a public joining ceremony of some type. Do a few interviews to make us more likable and ‘normal’ like everyone else.” There were nods all around, and even Tave grudgingly agreed. “The question is: where can we go that the vultures outside won’t get to us? Ideas?”
Everyone looked elsewhere, eyes trained on the floor or ceiling, refusing to meet her gaze. Obviously, this was something they’d discussed without her and no one wanted to broach the subject.
Rina turned her head. “Tave?” Even
looked elsewhere. “
He sighed. “The one and only place humans cannot go without permission and special equipment—”
“Tau.” She finished for him. Not the UST, but the underwater city of Tau. And it
require permission to enter. The Ujal protected their water borders religiously and any hint of breach had immediate and deadly consequences. They also required Ujal designed equipment to visit, but even that only allowed a mere thirty minutes within the city limits before it failed. “And how do you expect me to live down there? Humans aren’t built to—”
aren’t.” Tave agreed, but something in his tone made her focus intently on him.
“But Ujal mates have been known to acquire some traits which allow them to live within the waters. Not a tail,” he was quick to rush out, “but it is our deepest belief that they acquire the ability to breathe the waters and survive against the sea’s pressure.”
Rina tried to process all that. She really did. Except… “How deep is your belief? On a scale of one to ten, how likely am I to die from taking a deep dive?”
“I would never,
, risk losing you. You are my one,
“Okay.” She licked her lips and knew she needed to trust him. Trust in his connection to her. “How do we do this, then?”
He grimaced. “We mate fully. We exchange biological material and any changes will be fast. It may hurt,” he warned, “but it should take no more than thirty minutes for the changes to solidify.”
“And by mate, you mean…”
Sex. Of course.
“But if you are not comfortable, we will come up with another solution. I do not wish to rush you. I don’t want you to look upon this time with anger or regret in your heart. It would destroy me if you were…”
Apologies continued to drip from his mouth, and she gently pressed her fingertips to his lips. “It’s fine. I want to mate you, Tave. I want to be yours and I want you to be mine. I hate that we’re being forced to do this by the behavior of others, but I could never regret mating you.”
“But we just met, and human females—” he said, as her fingertips remained in place.
“This human female is drawn to you like no other. I admit that I’ll still have some human hang-ups about men, but I don’t doubt the rightness of this, Tave. At all.” She lifted her hand and brushed a kiss across his mouth. “Please believe me.”
“I do.” He could do nothing but believe his mate. Her feelings were seen in her eyes and her tone was steady. She wanted him, and no one could doubt his desire for her. Keeping his gaze locked with hers, he spoke to the room at large. “Leave.”
He didn’t have to be patient or nice. Over thirty Earth years, and he was finally going to claim a female as his. He didn’t need an audience. The clamoring crowd outside the walls was enough.
“Tave.” Rina laughed and shook her head.
He was struck anew by her beauty. “Fine,” he grumbled. “
“But… I… It’s not…” Kelara argued quietly with someone—his own
?—but eventually all voices faded and he sensed they were alone.
“Rina?” Their gazes had never strayed, but now he was more intent on her.
“Yes,” she whispered.
He clutched her agreement to his chest and allowed it to sink into him. She wanted to be his and he wanted her like no other. They would join. Now.
Tave easily rose from the seat, Rina in his embrace as he retraced their earlier path to her bedroom. The curtains were closed and the clamber of voices no longer penetrated the glass. Good, his men had dispensed with the human paparazzi.
With infinite care, as if she were the most delicate treasure, he lowered her to the bed. When he’d left her the previous evening, he’d clung to his honor by a thread. The desire to throw her to the surface and overwhelm her with pleasure had been great.
Once again, he grasped that control and fought for breath. She was beautiful when rumpled from sleep, her hair mussed and eyes slumberous. Her pajamas didn’t leave much to his imagination and he knew what lurked beneath the thin fabric. Her rosy nipples were visible through the cloth and his mouth watered. She had tasted his skin and he wished to return the favor.