Authors: Brenna Lyons
“Sakkr—” Her head swam at the pronouncement. This was the emperor? And his mate?
Darm vaulted to his feet and caught Sandy as her balance deserted her. Shouts rose around them, and Darm eased her to a cushioned surface.
She opened her eyes to the sight of all three of the men staring down at her. Gabin motioned for space. He read the glyphs on something that resembled a tablet computer.
The readouts from my bio chain.
Darm had told her it would give baseline medical information.
At his snap of order in the Sakk language, there was dizzying motion in the crowd. A glass was passed hand to hand, and Gabin nodded to Darm.
He helped her to sitting and slid behind her on what she now recognized as a wide lounge. Gabin held the glass for her, and Sandy managed a few mouthfuls of it.
“There,” the healer soothed her. “That should help. Just rest for a moment.”
Sandy sank to Darm’s chest, her emotions in a riot. “I don’t understand what is happening here,” she admitted.
The emperor returned Darren to Daragan and sank into a crouch next to her. He switched to English, stunning her with his mastery of her language. “You are aware of the threat to your son, I am sure.”
“His health? But Gabin said he was doing well.”
“No. Not his health. He is hearty and growing well.” He shot an unreadable look at Darm.
Realization made her ill. “Zeke?”
But what danger could he pose here on Sakk?
The emperor nodded grimly. “Sakk will not relinquish our claim on you or your son.”
“He wants Darren?”
Not a chance. I won’t allow him anywhere near Darren.
A hand came up, a clear request for silence. “That will not happen. There are formalities to be observed, of course.”
“There are?” Every exchange raised more questions than they answered.
He motioned to Daragan, and Darm’s father started speaking. “You are both already part of our family, by Sakk law. Sa Beldon’s mate, Janice, and Sakku Amy have suggested that we fill out formal adoption paperwork, as they use on Earth, securing Darm’s place as Darren’s sire, by human laws.
“Sakkrel—with your agreement to such, Sandy—will be named Darren’s...” He seemed to search for a word. At last, he muttered something in Sakk.
“What does it mean?” Sandy asked. Since they’d said they were securing Darren’s place as part of Darm’s ancestral home, it couldn’t mean something that would remove her son from her care.
Darm cleared his throat. “It is our equivalent of a godfather.”
“The Sakk emperor will be Darren’s godfather?”
“Yes. He would.”
“I have no problem with that.” Since she had no one else in mind for the job and knew no one but Darm’s parents and the healer on the entire planet, how could she choose another?
Realization made her heart stutter. She turned her face to meet Darm’s gaze. “Is there any reason I shouldn’t allow this?”
He smiled. “None I can conceive of. The benefits to Darren would be immense.”
“Including the benefit of protecting him from Zeke.”
She turned and nodded to Sakkrel. “I agree. Thank you for offering this.”
He tipped his head and rose. A warrior approached and offered Sakkrel a pristine white box. The emperor opened it and removed a
cast in what she suspected was
. He slipped the monitoring device that Darren typically wore off and replaced it with the piece of jewelry.
Darm whispered to her. “The seal is a more advanced monitor. All the royal family wear them.”
She nodded. Now that he’d mentioned it, she remembered that Amy never removed hers.
Sakkrel leaned down, laying a kiss on Darren’s forehead. After a moment, he stepped back and addressed the crowd in a gruff tone and in the Sakk language. “Let all on Sakk be aware. This child is my
. He is under my personal protection and care. Anyone foolish enough to injure this child injures me, and Sakkan alone have mercy on their souls for it.”
No one made a sound, as if such a thing would be seen as a challenge to that claim.
He nodded curtly and met Daragan’s gaze. “My healers will arrive within a turning.”
“Our thanks, Sakkrel.”
Sakkrel offered a tip of his head to Sandy and Darm and marched back the way he’d come, the rest of his entourage in tow.
An uneasy silence fell in his wake. Sandy swallowed hard. “His...healers?” What had she missed?
Elenna settled to the lounge beside her and squeezed Sandy’s hand. “One does not take on the position lightly. Sakkrel promised to be personally responsible for Darren’s protection and care. That means he will supply the best healers on Sakk for your son’s care, the best food, the best of everything, as he would for one of his own children.”
“And his education as well.” Sandy marveled at it.
Darm’s mother chuckled. “Darren need never be a military man, unless it pleases him to do so.”
Her heart stuttered at that pronouncement. “Then how will he find a mate? Does he have to return to Earth to do it?”
Darm wrapped an arm around her waist. “This association will even help with that. Never fear. Darren will have nearly any unmated woman he wants, just for the asking.”
The concept stunned her.
Daragan spoke up. “Are you well, Sandy? Perhaps we should get her to the nest, where she can relax in peace.”
“I was just thinking,” she mused.
“Yes?” Darm’s father prompted.
“I never would have guessed when I walked into the Sakk consulate.”
“That my son had a chance of anything noteworthy in his life, let alone being godson to the Sakk emperor.”
Darm chuckled in response. “With the Sakk, he would have had a chance to pursue his dreams, no matter what. Even males who are forced by circumstance to become soldiers or priests are trained for their choices of trades.”
A niggling of unease assaulted her. “Will Zeke cause problems for the Sakk?” She wouldn’t put a social media campaign against the Sakk past him. If it would hurt her, she wouldn’t put much of anything past him.
Daragan snorted. “There is little he can do. Who would think it right to drag a child back and forth between worlds for the vanity of one man who denied his part in the child’s creation? To take a child away from stable medical care, family and friends, schooling? Even a visit every
would be highly disruptive to Darren’s existence, since it would mean half of every
spent in transit between worlds.”
Elenna continued for him. “Even if that beast of a male wished to come here to visit, he would find it not to his liking.”
Sandy worked at a question that refused to emerge.
Darm explained his mother’s comment. “It would take someone like Zeke very little time to find himself on the wrong side of Sakk law. He would insult you or Darren, raise a hand to one of you... If he tried to approach a Sakk woman... He would be escorted off planet very quickly. If he lived that long.”
Sandy laughed at the mental image of Zeke fuming his way onto a shuttle, under heavy guard.
“It is good to hear you laugh,” Elenna commented.
“There was a time when I thought I might never laugh again,” Sandy admitted. She looked at Darm. “Then the most unexpected man came into my life.”
He smiled widely. “I never expected to find a mate like you either,” he admitted. “The males who walked away from the chance to get to know you were fools.”
She couldn’t find the words to respond to his praise.
Elenna shattered the moment. “Darren is asleep. I think we should return to the nest, so Sandy can sleep while he does.”
“Most prudent,” Daragan intoned.
Darm nodded and scooped Sandy into his arms. He pressed a kiss to her forehead.
She shot a look around, noting the males averting their eyes. “Darm, we shouldn’t. I can walk.”
“I was told once that you believe in carrying what you value.”
Her cheeks flamed. “That was another life,” she argued weakly.
“But no less true today.” With that, he followed his parents to the far side of the bay and the waiting transport.
About the Author
Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: former president of EPIC, author of more than 95 published works, office administrator, columnist, special needs teacher, wife, mother...and member in good standing of more than 60 writing advocacy groups. In her first nine years published in novel-length, she's won 3 EPIC e-Book Awards (out of 15 finalists) and finaled for 3 PEARLS (including one Honorable Mention, second to NY Times Bestseller Angela Knight), 2 CAPAS, and a Dream Realm Award. She's also taken Spinetingler's Book of the Year for 2007. Brenna writes milieu-heavy dark fiction, mainly science fiction, fantasy and horror, straight genre, romance and erotic crosses, poetry, articles, and essays. She teaches everything from marketing to choosing an indie publisher, and she's been called "one of the most deviant erotic minds in publishing today" by Fallen Angels. Find out more about Brenna at
or her site