Unexpected Mates (Sons of Heaven) (25 page)

BOOK: Unexpected Mates (Sons of Heaven)
8.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Blending in wasn’t enough. Rietin wanted more. Though human women were willing to share a bed with him on a regular basis, nothing more could come from it. It would be dishonorable to marry one and not tell her what he was, to let her hope for young that could never be between them.

Rietin swallowed down the familiar dull ache and maneuvered into the bunker tunnel. The van had been outfitted with sensors that would release the sections of shield for him, as long as only he and members of the royal family were inside the vehicle. If there were any others aboard, it would be handled manually by the command center, and a full scan of the vehicle would be carried out between the first two shields. Since he was alone in the van, there were no delays in him passing through.

Alone.
Why did it seem everything was a reminder that he was and ever would be alone?

The parking space closest to the doors was designated as his, thanks to Amy’s request for Rietin to act as her personal bodyguard on her outings. Rietin parked and left the vehicle behind, glancing at the white limo in the opposite spot. If Amy’s outing involved shopping or visiting her family, they would take the van. If it was a formal affair or dinner out with Sakkra, they would travel in the limo. They were the only two land-based vehicles Amy used.

More than one warrior sneered at Rietin’s clothing, and he studiously ignored them. Blending in meant he could usually choose human clothing he found comfortable. In Rietin’s case, that meant jeans, t-shirts, a jean or faux-leather jacket, and cowboy or hiking boots.

The others either wore
cuzta
or stripper wear. While the former was comfortable, the latter couldn’t be mistaken for it. A smile pulled up at the corners of his mouth at the undeniable truth. It was jealousy that made them sneer.

He stopped at Sakkra’s office door and knocked.

“In!” The reply was curt and without humor.

Rietin winced. There was nothing worse than a prince having a bad day. He entered quietly and waited for acknowledgement.

It didn’t come immediately, putting his nerves on edge. If Rietin was a general, he might be so impertinent as to remind Sakkra he’d been summoned, but he wasn’t.

At last, the prince looked up...and scowled.

Rietin’s heart skittered, and his mouth went dry. The copper tang of fear tainted his tongue, and he retraced the last week of his life. The last month.
Sakkan, what have I done wrong? What will the punishment be?

“There you are, Rietin.”

“Yes, Sakkra. As ordered.” He always followed orders.
Then how did I run afoul of the prince?

Sakkra sat back in his chair and raised an eyebrow. “You act as guard to my mate often.”

“I do.” Since he’d saved Amy’s life, she trusted him. “If I have offended her somehow —”

“No. No offense.”

Rietin breathed a sigh of relief. Since offending Sakku Amy could mean his head, it was good news that he hadn’t.

Sakkra continued. “Did you enjoy her family’s holiday celebration?”

“I suppose I liked it well enough.” Her family had provided meat-free dishes for the Sakk in attendance, and it was a joyous night full of color and scent and sound.

Have I offended her family?
That was unlikely. The event had been more than two months earlier.

“And after Amy and I retired to our room?” he pressed.

Visions of Jolene were potent, bringing his cock to life. Anger that the prince was interrogating him about his sexual exploits followed close on its heels.

“I see.” The prince’s comment sounded like a condemnation.

Rietin bit back four unkind remarks and two attempts to explain himself. There was nothing to explain. He hadn’t been on duty, and there were no rules against bedding willing human women. Jolene hadn’t been wearing an engagement or wedding ring, all of Sakku Amy’s cousins had reportedly failed testing as matches, and she’d been more than willing.

“Did you
enjoy
Jo?” Sakkra challenged him.

“Has the lady made some complaint?” he countered.

“Not...precisely.”

Rietin opened his mouth to offer the opinion that nothing else entitled the prince to this highly-inappropriate discussion.

“She
has
brought something to my attention that demands...handling.”

“And that would be?”
I have broken no laws.

Sakkra hesitated. “You may want to sit for this.”

Something in his tone unnerved Rietin. Or perhaps it was something in the prince’s expression. “Sakkra?”

“By Sakkan, sit!”

His mind spinning at the change of mood, Rietin did so.

Sakkra took his time. “The lady...Jo is bearing.”

Another reminder of what I will never have.
“You know very well that—”

“I know she is Amy’s mother’s brother’s child, which makes her close family to my own mate. I know that, while all Amy’s other cousins tested negative as a match, Jo never tested. She believed her sister’s and cousin’s failures meant she would also fail. I know you are more human than most Sakk males.” He put up a hand to still Rietin’s protest. “Most of all, I know the
bio bed
has cross-matched the babe she carries to your genetic code.”

His heart pounded hard against Rietin’s ribs, and his breathing went harsh.

“Jo carries your daughter, Rietin, and there is a fair chance the young one is at least a short flight, based on her genetics.”

He could hardly take it in. A female was bearing for him, and the child was of strong stock.

“She came here looking for you,” Sakkra continued.

“Why?” The question was out before Rietin could censor himself.

“That is something only Jo knows for certain. I suggest you ask her.”

Sakkra rose from behind his desk and ordered Rietin to follow him. In a daze, he did so, leaving Sakkra’s office and making his way to the main medical bay in the prince’s wake.

The hostility of the other males drew his attention, and Rietin came to a startling realization.
They are jealous, but not of my clothing.

 

****

 

The door to the clinic opened, and Sakkra stepped through. Jo opened her mouth to ask him about his search for Josh, but only a squeak emerged.

Josh loomed in the doorway, only inches shorter than Sakkra stood, his deep golden hair pulled into a ponytail behind his head. His fists were stuffed in his pockets, and his gaze didn’t quite meet hers. If she had to name his expression, she would choose either shell-shocked or discomfited.

Jo eased her mouth shut, at a loss to tell him what she’d come here to say. If he’d seemed happy to see her at all, it would be easier.

“You came to see me?” Josh asked softly.

“I shouldn’t have,” she blurted out.
This was a mistake.

His head snapped up, and he stared at her, his face going an unhealthy color. “What do you mean?”

Jo slid off the
bio bed
and pulled her tennis shoes back on. “This was a mistake. I shouldn’t have come here.”

“But—but you’re carrying my child.”

His confusion made it through her panic, and she stared at him, her sweatshirt in hand. He knew. That’s what she came here to do...to tell him.

Her heart said that wasn’t what she’d come here for.

What? You expected him to be overjoyed that a one-night stand got you pregnant? You expected that he’d say he missed you? That some romantic fantasy would unfold, where he whisked you off your feet?

None of that was forthcoming. Jo pulled her sweatshirt on, fighting with the stubborn zipper, trying to avoid crying in front of him.

“Jo? The
bio bed
says the baby is mine.” He paused. “Ours, I mean.” That sounded like a concession.

Her hair still trapped inside the sweatshirt, she looked at Amy, pleading for answers.

Amy offered a weak smile. “Sakkra had them check.”

“And you didn’t tell me. My own cousin didn’t trust me.” Today was turning out to be one heck of a disappointment.

“I did. We both did, but...” She glanced at Sakkra. “You don’t tell a Sakk male he’s about to be a father without being certain.”

Jo grasped at the edge of the
bio bed
, her senses reeling. Her eyes slipped shut, and strong arms encircled her. She didn’t question that it was Josh lifting her onto the bed and tucking the silky blanket around her.

A cup of cold water touched her lips, and she swallowed a sip.

“Healer?” Josh asked, his voice rough.

An extended period of discussion in Sakk followed. Jo opened her eyes, focusing on Josh. She hadn’t been imagining it. He was speaking Sakk.

“Josh?”
He really is Sakk? That isn’t possible.

His jaw tightened a notch, and he stopped speaking. “My name is Rietin.”

Words failed her. His name wasn’t Josh? He lied to her? She supposed he wasn’t the first man who had, and he wouldn’t be the last.

He sighed and met her gaze directly. “Working among humans, I needed to disappear in a crowd. I adopted a name humans would accept. My
name
is Rietin.”

“You’re... No, you can’t be. You don’t have...” Jo looked at his shoulders, though she knew he didn’t have wings.

“Neither does Sakku Amy. Neither does Representative Janice. With the breeding measures, not all Sakk have wings.”

“But the Sakk men do,” she insisted.

“Most of the ones who win the right to come to Earth to seek mates do,” he corrected her. “I never thought it was possible.” He shook his head, his expression unreadable.

“Thought what was possible?”

“That I would be blessed with a mate and a child.”

Her heart skipped a beat. “M-mate?”

“Of course. We must.”

“Mate?”

“Rietin,” Amy called out, clearly warning him off.

He ignored her. “You carry my child, Jolene. Our daughter. We must mate.”

That was it, the blunt instrument that tore her heart out. Though it pained her to say it, there was only one answer she could give to that. “No.”

 

****

 

Ice raced through Rietin’s gut. “What?” She was refusing him? She couldn’t!
Can she?

The solid fact that accepting the
bio chains
was always the female’s choice hit him hard. She could choose to refuse him, child or no child.

“Jo, you don’t understand,” Amy pleaded.

“I understand just fine,” she countered. “It’s J—Rietin who doesn’t. I am not a Sakk woman.”

“Obviously, you are,” he pointed out, employing the last of his strained patience.

“No. It’s my choice. Just as it is for any woman who comes here to be tested.”

“It’s a little late for that,” he offered bitterly.
How did I offend Sakkan so grievously? How could he bait me with what I want and steal it away?

“You Sakk men.” It sounded like a curse when she said it. “One woman is just like another to you. As long as you have one, you’re happy.”

Rietin was too shocked at the accusation to protest it.

“Jo,” Sakkra offered in a soothing tone.

She continued on, venting at Rietin as if the prince hadn’t spoken. “I am not an accessory you get to pick up in town and claim as yours just because you got me pregnant.”

“I never said—”

“Didn’t you?”

“It may have
sounded
that way, but...” She confused him. Rietin had never been so tongue-tied. “Don’t you want to be my mate?”

She didn’t reply. The confusion and hurt in her expression gave him hope she didn’t know what she wanted. Perhaps she was speaking in anger.

I suppose I am as well.

Sakkra interrupted them before she formed a definitive answer. “I believe the healers have more tests they wanted to run. Perhaps we should let Jo eat and rest before we continue this discussion.”

“Is there a problem?” Rietin asked. “With the baby?” Terror as he’d never known it assaulted him. What if he couldn’t give Jo viable young?

She tilted her head toward the healers, her expression frustratingly vague.

“She seems healthy enough,” Gabin replied.

“She?” Jo’s answer was little more than a breath of air. “So it is definitely a girl?”

Sakkra nodded. “Absolutely.”

“Will she have wings?”

What difference does that make to her?
Did the idea of a winged child frighten her? Perhaps enough to terminate the pregnancy?
Sakkan, no. I beg of you. Not that.

“We cannot be certain for at least six more Earth weeks,” Gabin stated.

“Six. Okay...six weeks.”

Her distraction set off alarms in Rietin’s head. “Please let me speak to you,” he requested formally. “When you’ve rested.”

Jolene stared at him for a long moment. At last, she nodded.

Rietin leaned down and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Take care.”

He left her, resting in the
bio bed
, seemingly stunned by something he couldn’t name.

At the comm board in his quarters, Rietin checked his schedule, intent on cancelling a few days of it. It was blank, and a note that he’d been removed from duty by Sakkra flashed an ominous warning.

Suddenly, he wasn’t certain how he would survive the empty hours without assignments.

 

 

Chapter Twenty-One

 

 

“A girl.” Jo swallowed a sob and then hiccupped. She paced the guest room Sakkra had given her, her mind rioting.

Before she’d found out Josh—
Rietin,
she reminded herself—was Sakk, she’d daydreamed about having a girl. In that awful moment, when she’d learned he lied to her, she’d considered aborting. Jo still wasn’t sure why she’d considered it.

But a girl.
Their world was struggling because they didn’t have enough women. The thought of aborting one that was guaranteed to be a match for them was inconceivable.

A match.
The thought of her daughter being given no choice, as the Sakk-born females were, made her stomach clench. She had to talk to Amy. There had to be rules about this, rules that granted her daughter the same freedoms human women enjoyed, even though the father was Sakk.

BOOK: Unexpected Mates (Sons of Heaven)
8.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Against the Wall by Julie Prestsater
Dirty Boy by Kathryn Kelly
The Color of Love by Radclyffe
Who Are You? (9780307823533) by Nixon, Joan Lowery
A Taste of Sin by Mason, Connie
The Cat Who Played Post Office by Lilian Jackson Braun
Brood by Chase Novak