Authors: Michelle M. Pillow
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Paranormal, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Demons & Devils, #Science Fiction
“I’m sorry you lost them. It must not be easy to have memories of them to haunt you,” she said.
“It must not be easy to have no memory of your mother at all,” he answered.
She nodded. She slid her hand to his neck and tangled her fingers in the hair at his nape. Alek moved his hands to rest on her hips. She drew slowly closer to him, caught in the contemplative mood that settled between them.
“I am sorry I accused you of scheming to force me to stay. I have been so worried about my sister. I don’t want to forget to thank you for all you have done for me. You saved me from repossession, kept me safe on your planet, fed me, sheltered me and now you are helping me to get home. None of these were your burden to take on. Without your interference, I would have been resold on another planet and it might not have turned out so well for me. I owe you a lot, Alek. More than can be repaid. But I at least want you to let me pay your family back for the cost of the trip. Without knowing the state of the fueling dock, I can’t say when I will be able to come up with enough space credits, but doing so will be my priority.”
“Whether you are here or in space, you are my wife, Kendall.” He didn’t like the thought of not having her, but having anyone else was an impossibility for him. “Distance will not change that. You will have a home here. What is mine is yours. So you owe me nothing.”
Her sadness washed over him, but beneath the grief was a longing he well understood. It was the same emotion pumping through his veins, the desire, the yearning, the almost desperate need to change reality into something better.
“That is very sweet,” she said, “but I’ve heard you speak of your longer life spans. I do not want you living alone. I’ll give you whatever you need from me for a divorce.”
The words clearly didn’t bring her pleasure, yet the mere thought of them hurt him all the same.
“There are ways to break a marriage for you, but not for me,” he said. “What is done will remain done.”
“I can’t believe that your family would want you to be alone because we were not able to be together.” She again touched his face. He liked the gentleness in her, the soft feminine glide of her fingers. He was used to the firm skin of a ceffyl or the hard, brief touch of his brothers. To feel a woman’s softness was intoxicating. He would miss it terribly if he lost her.
“It is not family, but the will of the gods.”
“I can’t believe that the gods would want you to be alone.” She shook her head. “Haven’t the gods ever made mistakes?”
“When we married, I put my future happiness in your hands.” He took her hands in his and studied the dark bruise where the doctor had struck her. It went a long way to proving she wasn’t a spy. She didn’t want to be tracked from space. Not that Alek needed proof to know she wasn’t a spy. “I did so willingly and freely. I gave you that part of myself. Who am I to take it back now? That part of my life is yours. There will never be anyone else for me as long as I live—not in my bed or in my heart.” He wasn’t sure why he told her. His brain whispered to keep quiet, to not put that kind of guilt on her when she could not help her situation. Yet somehow Mirek’s advice found its way to his tongue. It wasn’t the outpouring of emotion Mirek would have suggested, but for him the explanation he gave was a big step. “I know I can appear to be…”
“Stubborn? Hard-headed?” she supplied with a small laugh and even smaller smile.
She was teasing him, but still he answered, “Yes, both of those things.”
“You are also honorable and a good person.” Kendall again reached for his head and pulled her fingers lightly in his hair as if she studied the locks.
“I will do everything I can to protect and help you. Whether it is today or in a hundred years, I am your husband. I have given you my life, Kendall.”
A tear slid from her eye and she blinked heavily. Kendall pulled away from him and he reluctantly let her go. She turned her back on him.
Alek stood, unsure what to do. “I did not mean to upset you.”
“I am so sorry. Had I known what you were giving up to help me, I wouldn’t have let you do it.” When she turned back to look at him, her eyes were torn between sadness and anger. “I can’t believe how many lives my father’s gambling has ruined. Not just directly, but the rippling aftereffects of his actions.”
“Your leaving does not have to be forever. When the time comes, you may return.” Alek would not wish harm on her father, but death was an eventual reality for them all. “Until such a time, I will be with you. I don’t know how it will work over the length of a galaxy, but if you try you may be able to feel me and I you. Plus, we could set up communications. I could travel to visit you and you me. There are ways.”
“I would like very much to remain in contact, but I worry that might almost be worse.” Kendall sighed and closed her eyes. “I’ve gathered enough to know you’ll probably outlive me by several hundred years. I’m human, Alek. In a hundred years I’ll be long dead—unless you were to put me back into stasis to preserve me, but that is no life.”
“Our fates are intertwined. Here, on this planet, with the aid of our blue sun you would live longer. That is true now, and when you come back.” Alek didn’t move, unsure what he could say or do to erase her pain. The elders believed that by claiming her as his wife and thus giving her his life, he’d shortened his years to extend hers. Without the aid of radiation from the blue sun, her life would play out like normal, maybe extended by a few more years. In the past, scientists had tried to identify the exact combination of elements to reproduce the life-giving effects of their world, but they had been unsuccessful.
Like the rest of the Draig, he was a warrior, a fighter, used to the action of doing what needed to be done. But in this situation there was no giant fanged yorkin to hunt, no Var army to battle. There was only reality and the flawed nature of imperfect men.
His wife was so lovely, so delicate. Alek wanted to protect her, to wipe the sadness from her eyes. Desire rose up inside him. Her lips parted and she inhaled, as if she sensed the moment his passion for her heated.
She again came back into his arms. He wrapped his hands around her waist to hold her there. She glided her finger down his nose. “I like when your eyes change like that. It’s like your soul is spinning around in them.”
When he would answer her lips stopped him. Her kiss was sweet and soft, even as her tongue swept along his mouth. The feel of her captivated all his senses until nothing mattered but that most perfect moment. He pulled her body closer, sliding forward on the seat and parting his legs so she could stand between them. When they couldn’t get close enough, he stood. The angle of the kiss changed.
Alek lifted her off the ground and walked toward the stairs that would take them to his bed. Pleasure pumped through his veins. She moaned against his mouth, holding on to his neck as he carried her easily to the top level of his home. He let her inside him, not caring if she felt his emotions. Nothing else mattered, only Kendall. Through the haze of their passion everything around them faded into nothingness.
When he reached the top, he set her down on the bed and instantly crawled over her. He molded his body to hers, careful to keep his weight from crushing her yet close enough he could feel every curve of her soft flesh. Sex with his wife had always been passionate, but this time felt different. It wasn’t just the desperation of the morning to come, but a closeness that had not been there before. They’d shared themselves in words and now they were enhancing those words with their bodies.
She moved her hands over him, tugging at his clothes. He maneuvered to allow her to pull his tunic over his head. Within seconds, they were stripped of their clothing. Hands glided over flesh. Mouths teased and kissed. Tongues poked and licked.
Wanting to explore her more fully, Alek rolled onto his back, taking her with him. She straddled his waist and continued kissing him. He touched everywhere he could reach, leaving no measure of skin neglected. Kendall slid her hand down his chest and along his side before reaching between their bodies to stroke his arousal. He tensed beneath her and let loose a small groan of approval.
He slid his tongue into her mouth, deepening the kiss, moving from sweet to passionate. When he could wait no longer, he flipped her onto her back and pushed at her inner thighs. She spread her legs willingly, and he didn’t hesitate as he entered her. If he could have consumed her and kept her with him forever, he would have. Instead, he settled for the press of her naked body, the moist heat of her sex, the soft catches of breath in her throat.
Her nipples brushed over his chest as he moved inside her, their tight peaks drawing trails over his skin. Every detail of her impassioned expression was open to him in the dim bedroom light. He kept the pace slow, not wanting to rush their climax. Each passing second only added to the desperation. He didn’t want it to be over, didn’t want to leave the moment.
Nature would not be denied and the primal search for release was finally met when she tensed and trembled beneath him. It was too much to resist. Alek found his release deep inside her.
Her legs fell limply along his and she gave a small, sated laugh. Looking up at him through lidded eyes, she whispered, “Hayo.”
She gave another small laugh. “It means ‘hey, you’ or ‘hello, you’.”
“Oh.” He returned her smile before kissing her softly. “Greetings, you.”
“Greeyo,” she answered, then laughed harder. “Never mind, that doesn’t sound right, does it?”
How could he resist her relaxed humor? Chuckling, he pulled out of her body and settled on the bed next to her. It was too early for sleep but he had no intention of leaving her side. “Perhaps something that came from the backside of a yorkin.”
“Did you see the giant fanged beast depicted on the tapestry downstairs?” he asked. She nodded. “That is a yorkin.”
“Yes, it roams the mountains.”
Kendall shivered. “But
are in the mountains. When I asked about the yellow plants you said there was nothing up here that… You mean that thing is…?”
Alek hugged her closer, stopping her from sitting up. “Don’t worry. Yorkins do not attack here. You must travel farther north to the cave systems.”
She settled in his arms. Her legs stirred, adjusting gently until finding the perfect position against him. Alek flexed his arm, holding her close. When he closed his eyes, he focused on the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest. He heard her heart beat. Before meeting her, he’d never realized just how lonely his life had been.
“I love you, Kendall. I don’t want you to leave me,” he whispered, knowing she’d fallen asleep. She made a light humming noise in the back of her throat but didn’t answer.
Despite Mirek’s insistence that the ship was older and not used often, the medium-sized craft looked to be a fine machine. The metal body was sturdy, not pretty as far as ships go, but solid. Thick strips of flashing lights lined the body, blinking slowly as the wings were extended forward fully and then retracted back into the ship’s body in pre-flight tests.
Kendall glanced at Alek, who watched the final preparations. She wasn’t sure if his rapt attention was from fear for their safety or because he did not come to this area of his castle home often and thus the performance was a novelty.
After making love to her again when they woke up, Alek left only to return with clothes and food. They’d dressed and eaten in relative silence. She wasn’t sure what to say to him that hadn’t already been said. Alek had then led her toward the mountain’s base through a series of tunnels and up long stairways. Even with his longer stride and naturally faster pace, it took about fifteen minutes to reach the landing platform where the ship was being prepped.
The dress she wore was simple compared to some she’d seen worn by Draig women at the bridal ceremony, but the fabric was soft and it fit her rather well. The earthen tone was muted and deep, like the red soil near the Draig palace. The sleeves were short, exposing the length of her arms and the skirt fell to her feet. Alek dressed like the others working in the loading dock—loose-fitted pants and a tunic shirt. The lighter colored material made his skin appear darker.
“As soon as the reserve fuel tanks are filled, you can board,” Mirek said behind them. They turned to look at the man. “The skies are clear, so takeoff shouldn’t be too unsettling.” With a small smile, he said to Kendall, “Alek doesn’t like takeoffs and landings.”
Alek grumbled. “I do fine.”
“Fine?” Mirek shook his head in denial. “The first time the ship’s safety protocols had to lock you in your seat.”
Alek grimaced and lightly rubbed his ass. “I think I still have the markings from where it suctioned me down.”
“No, I didn’t see anything,” Kendall answered before catching herself. Her mouth dropped open slightly in embarrassment at the unintended admission. Both Mirek and Alek laughed. She felt the heat flaming her cheeks. Luckily, a loud series of metallic clanks drowned out any opportunity to respond and gave her time to regain her composure.
When they could again speak, Alek said, “I was a child when that happened. I still maintain if we were meant to fly our dragons would have wings.”
“Don’t let him fool you, little sister.” Mirek placed his hand on Kendall’s shoulder. “There is a reason I don’t take this one up into orbit with me very often.”
Kendall glanced at her husband in question. He said nothing.
Mirek leaned in to her and loudly whispered, “Just don’t sit too close to him.”
“All right, enough,” Alek said, pushing Mirek’s arm to get him to step back. His rueful smile took the sting out of his tone.
“Until we meet again, little sister, many blessings.” Mirek bowed. Then, with a meaningful glance at his brother, he backed away toward the entryway. “And the best of luck.”
Alek waved his hand in dismissal, turning away from Mirek.
“You two seem very close,” Kendall commented.