Wicked Empress: The Onic Empire, Book 4

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Dedication

To all my Facebook buddies, but especially Joanne, my number one fan. Also, a big shout out to John Choby for being a good sport when me and Christina Crooks play on your wall.

Chapter One

Bithia always knew she would lose her freedom. She just didn’t think it would happen so soon.

She’d been the empress for only three short cycles, but they’d already selected her first consort. As she understood the customs of Diola, she could have as many consorts as she wanted, but this first one would be her only bondmate. When she pressed her advisors for the reason behind this, they answered as they always did: by the prophecy, such had always been so. It seemed to her that was their answer for anything they did without knowing why. As a Diolan reared on another planet, she really couldn’t argue with them.

At least she wouldn’t have to stay true to this consort for long. Again, according to the prophecy, she must bring forth a girl child with him to carry on her family line. After that, she could take as many consorts as she could handle. She quivered in anticipation. Her goal was to have more consorts than any other empress in history. Bithia intended to keep them all personally satisfied. Already she’d found the men of Diola a lusty bunch who suffered no self-recriminations for their wanton behavior. Such was a welcome change from the self-flagellating men on Beserrah.

As the newly crowned empress, she’d had her pick of any man she desired. To her surprise, some women even went so far as to practically throw their bondmates at her in the hopes of currying favor. Bithia didn’t care about that at all. Her only concern was with finding pleasure. So far, there had been only a few men she wanted but couldn’t have. One of them, Kerrick, was a slave bound by temple rites to protect the consort of a god. He was gone now, but Bithia still thought of him. He became like the other untouchable men on Diola—fantasy fodder. In her mind, she could do with them as she pleased, and she did. Often she covered the face of her current lover to help her envision one of them, especially Kerrick.

With a sigh, she stood on her raised dais, waiting for the bonding ceremony to begin. She was naked, encircled by a ring of silken fabric that hid her from view. An audience of the highest-ranking families, dignitaries and those in authority awaited the revelation of her and her bondmate. So keen was their anticipation that they didn’t even shuffle about in their padded seats. All she could hear was their quiet breathing.

Upon a deep breath, she smelled the oil her servants had covered her with after the ritualistic bath. The scent was soft and mildly arousing, but what excited her was the expectation of this man they’d chosen. At first, she’d been furious that she wasn’t allowed to select her own eternal bondmate. She didn’t actually believe in an ever-after, but if she had to spend eternity with one man, shouldn’t she get to pick that man? It seemed to her that as the empress, she should have the power of that choice. However, they insisted no man here on Diola would ever be enough to satisfy her. When she’d rolled her eyes at that excuse, they admitted the empire needed new blood, strong blood, which would strengthen her line for generations to come. Bithia couldn’t wait to see this paragon of manliness.

Frustrated by further delay, she sat down cross-legged amidst the crimson fabric. Crimson, for that was the color of her House. Bithia still didn’t understand all the details of how the elite structured themselves, but color was extremely important. The darker the shade, the more powerful the family. Her color was a deep, rich red that dazzled the eye. All her clothing was red with occasional touches of white, black and silver. Of course, for this ceremony she was nude. Sitting on the floor with her legs parted wide cooled the heat that had gathered between her thighs. Feverish dreams had tormented her from the moment she’d been told she would bond. Just what would this creature from another planet look like?

She reached up to scratch her head, but reminded herself not to muss her hair. Her short-shorn locks had shocked all on Diola, but Beserrah was an excruciatingly hot and humid world. The only way to survive the heat was by wearing as little as possible, and that included hair. With Diola’s more moderate climate, she’d allowed her black hair to grow. After three cycles, it was about the length of her fingers. She preferred to wear it fluffed out around her face or gelled straight up from her skull. Her servants were forever trying to slap wigs on her head, but she tore them right off. Today, her servants had carefully crafted her hair so that it appeared pulled back. Would her chosen be upset by shorter hair? She didn’t give it much more than a passing thought. Some of the men had been put off by her appearance, for she was not the most beautiful woman, but what always got them was that she
knew
things. Bithia knew exactly where and when to touch a man to make him writhe in ecstasy. This man would be no different.

Or would he?

She’d been assuming he was basically human like her. What if he was so alien his entire physiology worked differently? What if he fornicated in some fashion she could not envision, a way she found repulsive?

Panic rushed through her, shooting her to her feet. She should have asked more questions before agreeing to this. Just as she fumbled her hand in the fabric, seeking the split that would free her, the fabric fell in a great
whoosh.
Her heart stopped, then hammered against her chest as she beheld her bondmate.

He was magnificent.

Bithia had never seen a more perfectly formed male. Everything about him was rough-hewn, primitive and primal right down to his hairy chest. It was as if the word “man” had been created exclusively for him. His eyes were black with white shards spiraling out from the pupil. Hypnotizing eyes that held her so riveted she almost forgot to check out the rest of him. And there was a lot of him to look at. He was the tallest and widest man she’d ever seen. Muscles covered his entire form. Not small, sleek muscles such as the Diolan men gained by their body sculpting enhancements, but big muscles from physical work.

His face was a series of harsh angles. A black mark shaped like a half circle rode on his right cheek. His lips were not too thin, not too full. They softened the severity of his face and looked utterly perfect below his long, straight nose. Heavy brows rose over his riveting eyes and drew her gaze to his deep black hair. His was like hers, slicked back so she could not tell the length from where she stood. Somehow, though, she knew it would be long.

Considering him, she decided he looked like a warrior. Given the way he was looking at her, he was certainly a man skilled at controlling himself. No emotions flickered across his face. She had no idea what he was thinking as he swept his gaze from her face to her feet and up again to settle on her eyes. For all she could tell, he was simply acknowledging her presence. He seemed neither pleased nor disappointed by her physical appearance.

She darted her gaze down to his cock. Hard and heavy, it leaned to the side as if it were so massive it could not stand at full attention. Or maybe the sight of her was not sufficiently arousing. She smiled inwardly. Soon enough she’d have him on his knees begging for her. Again, her gaze drifted to the mark on his face. What was that shape and what did it mean?

He ignored everyone around them to focus exclusively on her. Almost as if by staring at her, he could ferret out all her secrets and make her bow to him. The hairs at her nape bristled. That would never happen. Bithia was too smart to fall fully for any man, even one she would mate with. They said the bond of a child was the deepest connection a man and woman could share, but she simply didn’t believe it. She would give him and the people of Diola a daughter and then she would return to her endless pursuit of pleasure. Still, she wasn’t going to mind having this man in her bed. Watching his stoic features give over to passion would be a heady victory indeed.

The rotund magistrate, Ambo Votny, entered the room wearing a white robe and an enormous white fur hat. Bithia wasn’t sure what the ridiculous outfit was supposed to symbolize, but he looked a bit chagrined at having to wear it. Supposedly, her and her intended’s nudity symbolized a new beginning, a rebirth of their bodies and spirits uniting as one. Frankly, Bithia thought it was just so everyone could see them naked. Silly, really, since she’d been intimate with about half the men in the small audience.

Ambo stood beside the dais and recited a lengthy invocation she didn’t get a word of since he spoke in the language of the ancients. A glance to her bondmate revealed nothing. She had no idea if he understood, but she rather doubted it unless they’d somehow crammed the language into his skull. They’d tried to teach her, but they’d given up when she seduced every teacher they sent. Finally, they sent a woman, who taught her everything phonetically. Bithia had briefly considered seducing the woman, just to fill the mouths of the elite with new salacious tales, but she just couldn’t summon any arousal. Women did not interest her. Men riveted her attention. Always had. From the moment she’d been able to walk, the difference between her body and a man’s body enchanted her.

As she listened to Ambo drone on and considered the man she would shortly be bound to, she found his stoicism disconcerting. He was so emotionless she wondered if he’d been drugged. However, his eyes didn’t seem glassy and his stance was solid. Where had they gotten him from and what exactly had they done to get him to come here? A part of her heart softened because she knew what it was like to be ripped away from the only home she’d ever known and forced into a whole new world.

She’d been on Beserrah, living in the high court, blissfully unaware of Diola and her link to a long line of empresses. If she knew then what she knew now, she never would have gone with the handsome stranger. But again, she’d followed her cunt and not her brain. She sighed. Her hot-and-bothered nature always got her into trouble. But what could she do? Keeping her legs primly closed wasn’t any fun at all. The one time when she’d sworn off men, her vow had lasted for only a few nights. She’d masturbated constantly to try to stick to her declaration, but that didn’t work. Distancing herself from sex only made her cravings worse. She’d decided to indulge herself to the fullest and damn the
peckards
who bandied rude comments about her to each other. She decided they were just jealous since nobody would ever want to be with them.

After the longest time, Ambo finally shut up. He pointed to a spot before Bithia’s feet. Knowing what was coming caused her to grin widely. This she understood the symbolism to—her consort would bow to her authority.

Without comment, her intended stepped forward, dropped to his knees and placed a kiss upon her mound. Black curls glistened with oil and increased the heat of his lips, but the touch was far too fleeting for her to fully indulge her senses. What stunned her was that, even on his knees, he had to lean over to press his mouth against her. He stood with more grace than a man his size should possess, then stepped back without a flicker of sentiment crossing his features.

Her body oil coated his perfect lips, making them shimmer in the light. Too, as he knelt so briefly before her, she’d gotten a taste of his scent—masculine, spicy and something different but intriguing. She couldn’t wait to get him all hot and sweaty and then take a deep breath of his essence. She had a feeling he smelled as good as he looked.

Ambo issued another ploddingly long speech, then handed her a green vial covered with gems. She pulled out the small stopper, handed it to Ambo, poured the glittering liquid into her palm and then passed the bottle to him as well. While she rubbed her hands together, warming the liquid and making it sparkle, she gave a short speech. This was what her last teacher had worked so diligently to help her memorize. Bithia had no idea what she said. Something about binding him to her for all eternity or some other such nonsense. All that really mattered to her was what she got to do after her little speech. When she finished, she took a step toward her intended and cupped her hands around his cock. Never had a man felt so hard and hot in her grip. Was it the
jaras
gel? Ambo insisted the liquid had magical properties as it was named after
Jarasine
, the land of the gods, but whatever the cause, she literally felt the life in his flesh. Each and every texture that made up the whole of his cock felt unique in her hands.

Stoic still, he simply stood there while she rubbed the glistening liquid from the tip of his cock to the cradle of skin that held his balls. Finally, a reaction: his nostrils flared wide and he rocked back just a bit on his heels. It wasn’t much, but at least it was something. From what she’d heard, this gel drove a man right to the brink of orgasm. It compelled him to mate no matter what might be in his mind.

Turning her back on him, she bent over from the waist and lifted her bottom, presenting herself to him. Without hesitation, he stepped forward, grasped her hips and speared her. His cock invaded her so hard and fast her breath whooshed out in one great blast. He felt even bigger than he looked, forcing her body to stretch to accommodate him. Rock-hard thighs pressed against the back of her legs, telling her without words he would not stop until he’d found his satisfaction.

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