Main Eve Vaughn - Descendants of Light03 Hopes Heart

Eve Vaughn - Descendants of Light03 Hopes Heart

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Eve Vaughn - Her Kind of Trouble

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Descendants of the Light 3: Hope’s Heart
Eve Vaughn
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2005 Eve Vaughn
No part of this e-book may be reproduced or shared by any electronic or mechanical
means, including but not limited to printing, file sharing, and email, without prior
written permission from Changeling Press LLC.
ISBN (10) 1-59596-193-3
ISBN (13) 978-1-59596-193-8
Formats Available:
HTML, Adobe PDF,
MobiPocket, Microsoft Reader
Publisher:
Changeling Press LLC
PO Box 1561
Shepherdstown, WV 25443-1561
www.ChangelingPress.com
Editor: Carolyn Robinson
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some
may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling
Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in
which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be
accessed by under-aged readers.

Prologue
H’trae: Zerus, 494 H’trae Years Ago
Tonight was the night. Garm would have to die. She contemplated her plans,
wishing it didn’t have to come to this. Regardless of his brutality, it was hard to
reconcile the fact that she would be taking another life.
Dyshira paced the length of her room, back and forth, until she was dizzy. Just
when she thought her husband couldn’t get any lower, he outdid himself.
Garm didn’t realize it, but she knew what he planned to do with her people.
Coming back from a shopping expedition in town, she’d heard her husband and one of
his trusted advisors talking. Upon hearing the mention of her homeland, Dyshira
paused.
“We’ll withdraw our protection from Tiearen and let the Shadow People do what
they will. We can use the resources of the land, and any survivors can work as slaves in
Zerus. I’m sure many of them will fetch a hefty price, especially the comely wenches,”
Garm laughed.
Dyshira’s heart fell. She’d married Garm because he’d threatened to withdraw
his protection if she did not. Since she’d given in to his blackmail, Dyshira had suffered
many nights of shame and degradation at his hand.
She’d witnessed his brutality. The servants cowered in his wake. People feared
him. No one dared to contradict Garm unless they wished death. Dyshira even knew
that Garm had been responsible for his own father’s death.
For months she’d plotted, trying to find a way to rid herself of him. Now she had
a plan and it must happen tonight or else she’d never get another chance, for tomorrow
her people would be doomed.
Any minute, Garm would join her and the plan would be set into motion.

The door crashed open. She was going to confront him sooner than she thought.
Dyshira turned around to face her husband, his dark hair flowing around his shoulders,
black wings flapping behind him.
He could’ve been a handsome man if it weren’t for the perpetual sneer on his
lips, or the meanness in his silver eyes. She forced a smile on her face, pushing a stray
braid over her shoulder. “Husband, I’m pleased to see you.”
Garm’s eyes narrowed; he looked her up and down. “What are you up to,
Dyshira?”
She blinked her eyes, feigning innocence. “I only wished to bid my husband
welcome. Please have a seat on the chair and I’ll get the oils to rub into your skin.”
Dyshira turned around only to be hauled back against his hard chest. He towered over
her, seeming larger than life. Dyshira’s head only reached just below his pectorals.
Garm’s fingers circled her throat. “You’re up to something, wife, and I will know
what it is.”
“What… what do you mean?”
His grip tightened around her throat. “You are more compliant than usual.”
What the farken was wrong with this Ceyan? He punished her for being too
disobedient and was suspicious if she was too compliant. She couldn’t win with him. If
only she could get him to taste the wine she’d prepared for him.
His hand slid from her throat to her breast, squeezing it painfully in his hand. It
took all her self-control not to wince. “I only wish to please you, my lord.”
Garm released her. “You may fetch the oils.”
“Thank you, my lord.” She scurried over to the table where massage oils lay,
before turning back to him. “Please, have a seat.” Dyshira gestured to the plush sofa
that Garm favored when he visited her rooms.
Her heart beat faster than she ever remembered as she prepared the tray of oils.
Dyshira’s hand shook when she poured wine into a goblet before walking over and
offering it to him. “Some refreshment for my lord?”

Garm gazed at her with a suspicious gleam in the depths of his silver eyes, but
took the wine. “Perhaps I should make you taste this first.”
A nervous laugh burst from her throat. “What… what do you mean?”
“Nothing. You don’t have the heart to harm me,” he laughed before bringing the
goblet to his lips and downing its entire contents in one long swallow. “This is good
wine. Go fetch me more.” Garm wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, practically
tossing the goblet at her.
Dyshira hurried to refill it for him. Now it was only a matter of time.
While Garm sipped his wine, Dyshira began to rub oils into Garm’s weather­
beaten skin, her dark hands against his golden flesh creating a stark contrast.
Suddenly he seized her hand. “What have you done to me, woman?” he yelled.
She smiled, knowing that the poison now flowed through his veins. “I’m not
sure what you mean.”
Garm stood up with a roar. He turned around and grabbed for her, but she was
able to sidestep his grasp. “You… won’t get… away… with… this.” His words began to
slur as he stumbled drunkenly around the room before collapsing.
“Oh, but I think I will.” For the first time since she set eyes on Garm, Dyshira
was happy.

Chapter One
Hope paced the floor wondering, not for the first time that day, how in the hell
she’d gotten into this mess. A healer from a race of people long thought extinct? It
couldn’t be. She was just plain old Hope Phillips, social worker from Toledo.
Extraordinary things didn’t happen to people like her, yet here she was surrounded by
riches she’d never thought to see in her lifetime.
She looked around the room again, taking everything in. It was like something
from out of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Sheer tapestries of every color imaginable
and some colors she’d never seen before decorated the walls. The furniture all looked as
though it was made from some type of precious metal, but from the way it shimmered
and sparkled Hope couldn’t identify it.
In the corner of the room lay a large soaking pool she’d had the pleasure of
trying out only a few hours ago. Actually the serving women had referred to it as a tub,
but that thing was larger than any tub Hope had ever seen. In the middle of the room
was a large bed surrounded by soft cushiony pillows that made her sleepy just looking
at them. This entire room was probably bigger than her whole apartment back home.
Home.
According to Prince Kalian, this was now her home, and in a few hours she
would be wed to one of the Ceyan princes. Hope knew that she should try to escape
and find her way out of here, but where would she go? Who would take her in and give
her answers to the questions that had been on her mind since she’d been here?
Hope shivered, feeling cold all of a sudden, and it was really no wonder. The
outfit they’d given her to wear was positively indecent. Although it did feel nice against
her skin, she might as well be naked. There was nothing left to the imagination with this
see-through thing. The shimmering blue material wrapped around her breasts and fell

to the floor leaving her shoulders bare. Two long slits went all the way up to her thighs,
making her feel more self-conscious about her body than she normally did.
Hope walked over to the mirror, noticing her belly sticking out further than was
probably attractive, and her too generous hips. She couldn’t be classified as fat, but she
knew that it wouldn’t hurt to lose twenty pounds. Chubby was a word that could better
describe her, yet as she looked in the mirror there was something different about her
appearance.
Her usually dull blonde hair flowed around her shoulders with a healthy glow.
Her rounded features seemed sharper, more defined, blue eyes brighter than ever.
Could this attractive woman in the mirror be her?
She touched her face to make sure this was no illusion. What had those women
done to her? After she got out of the tub, the serving women had rubbed exotic smelling
creams all over her face and body. Could that be the reason for this transformation of
her features?
Just then she heard a knock on the door. Were the servants back? Was it the
necromancers? Her body shivered as she thought of the four faceless men who’d
entered her room earlier and had done the most amazing things to her body. She’d
shivered and moaned beneath their tender ministrations. Hope had felt a wanton lust
she’d never experienced before, and a little bit of shame for reacting that way.
The most extraordinary part about her meeting with these men was the sudden
transformation of their faces. The necromancers took on the features of a man she didn’t
know. He was beautiful, with his long blond hair several shades lighter than her own,
shining silver eyes, and a well sculpted face with full kissable looking lips. Who was
this man?
A second knock broke Hope from her thoughts. “Come in,” she called realizing
that whoever it was wouldn’t go away.
The door opened and in stepped Eden, one of the women who’d been kidnapped
alongside her.

For such a tiny woman, Eden’s body was surprisingly well developed. Hope
noticed that the other woman wore an outfit similar to hers except for the color and the
cut. The shimmering pink material proved to be the perfect contrast against her dark
brown skin, clinging lovingly to Eden’s rounded hips and full breasts. It bared her
narrow waist and flat stomach. Despite the flimsiness of the outfit, she wore it with an
ease that made Hope a little envious.
“Eden, I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve been going crazy with no one to talk to.”
Hope rushed over to give her a hug. She wasn’t a tall woman herself, standing only five
feet five and a half inches, but next to Eden, who barely reached five feet, she felt like a
monster.
Eden grinned, revealing small white teeth. “I snuck away. I was getting bored
sitting in my room.”
“Have you seen your sister and Raven?”
“My sister is with Prince Kalian and I believe Raven is with Prince Thane right
now. They’re both throwing fits,” she laughed, throwing her head back in apparent
glee.
“How can you be so calm about this? These men, with wings I might add, have
brought us to another friggin’ world. How come you’re not having a freak out fest right
now?”
Eden smiled and shrugged. “May I sit down?”
“Oh, sure.” They walked over to a pile of pillows in one corner of the room and
sat down.
“Well?” Hope prompted.
An unreadable expression entered Eden’s dark eyes as she pushed a stray braid
over her shoulders. “What would be the point in freaking out now? The time to escape
has passed us, and to be honest, I’m not really sure I want to.”
“Why not? Don’t you have friends and family back home that’ll miss you?”
“My only family is Genesis and she’s here now. I did have friends back home,
and I’ll miss my job and my students, but they’ll eventually forget about me.”

Hope didn’t know whether to be in awe of the other woman for having accepted
her fate so graciously, or to shake her and ask her what kind of drugs she was on.
“Well, I do have a family and my parents will probably be worried sick about me.”
Even as she said the words Hope realized they weren’t exactly true.
Hope’s mother and father had divorced when she was five. It had been a bitter
break up with neither party speaking to the other ever again. The only time her parents
saw each other was when Hope was dropped off to spend the weekends with her
father.
She’d hated those weekends because by that time her father had a new girlfriend,
Phoebe, who resented the presence of a child from her lover’s previous marriage. Hope
had tried her best to stay out of Phoebe’s way, but nothing seemed to please her. The
visits became fewer, especially when Phoebe triumphantly presented her father with
two sons.
Hope’s mother was not a much better example of parenthood. She would stay
hung over for days at a time. Different men came in and out of her mother’s life. Some
were good to Hope, and others weren’t. By the age of twelve it was Hope who took care
of her mother instead of the other way around. Food had been her only comfort.
Hope left home at eighteen and never looked back. Working her way through
college and earning her degree in social work, she’d set up a nice life for herself. The
only problem was the people in it.
“Your face says otherwise,” Eden observed.
“Yes. I don’t think they’ll miss me.” Hope lowered her eyelashes.
“That’s so sad.”
“Not really. I’ve learned life’s lessons from an early age, and have been taking
care of myself for a very long time now. I’ve just learned to deal with it.”
“So I take it that you have no one special back home.”
“I was actually married when I was twenty-five to a really nice guy named
Frank.”
Eden shot her a quizzical look. “If he was really nice what was the problem?”

“That’s the problem. He was too nice, and I felt like a piece of shit for marrying
him. You see, I’ve never exactly been the prom queen type. Men have only ever seen me
as a friend, you know, Good ole’ Hope, she’s just one of the guys.” She paused with a
sigh. Eden watched her with intent brown eyes waiting patiently for her to finish.
“Well anyway, along came Frank. He was the first guy to look at me as if I were a
desirable woman. Needless to say it went to my head and when he proposed, I said
yes.”
“So basically you settled for Frank even though you didn’t exactly feel sparks
with him.”
“Yes! That’s exactly it. Also I’d been so used to doing for others; my mother, my
brothers, who only came around when they wanted money, and my so-called friends,
that for once I wanted someone to take care of me. I wanted to be cherished. I know it
sounds corny, but I was tired of being alone. I married him knowing that I could never
love him as much as he did me. He was so good to me, and he didn’t deserve a
lukewarm marriage.”
They had an amicable divorce. Two years later Frank found someone who was
just as crazy for him. The beautiful Christmas card he’d sent with a picture of his wife
and newborn baby daughter spoke of his newfound happiness, and she was glad.
“Well, at least you realized that it’s better to be alone than to be miserable with
someone else.”
“Yes, I think so.”
“You’d mentioned that you were going to some retreat when we were back in
that shack. What was that all about?”
“It was a singles retreat actually. I kind of signed up for it on impulse. I was
feeling really depressed and thought it would be fun to go there and meet new people.”
“Why were you depressed?”
“Oh, because my rat fink brother didn’t invite me to his wedding.”
“What? Are you kidding me? How could your brother not invite you to his own
wedding?”

“That was probably my stepmother’s doing, but we were never particularly close
and he only talked to me when he wanted something. My stepmother said they
couldn’t invite a lot of guests because of financial constraints, but that’s a bunch of BS.”
“I can’t believe your father would allow them to exclude you like that.”
“Ha! My father is a big pussy. That woman has been leading him around by his
johnson since the day they met, but trust me, as depressing as my life sounds I’m sure
there are people out there who suffer far worse. You never did tell me why you’re so
calm about this.”
Eden cocked her head to the side as if she were trying to think about what she
was going to say before finally speaking. “I know this sounds a bit odd --”
“Honey, this is all odd, from the winged guys, to the fact that I can now
understand their strange language after touching a big red rock, and the serving
women with cat faces. Uh, need I go on?” Hope was still trying to reconcile herself to
these things and didn’t really know if she could. One thing was certain, crying wouldn’t
change anything no matter how much she wanted it to.
“They don’t seem strange to me.”
“Come again?”
“I’ve dreamed of this place before, and of these people. I feel… kind of like I
belong here.”
“But we’re human. We don’t belong here. We belong on Earth with other
humans, doing human things, not saving a race of winged people.”
Eden smiled. “No. We’re not. Can’t you feel the connection between us? Even
when we were back at that cabin it felt like I knew you already. I felt the same way with
Raven. Genesis felt it too, though she’s a bit skeptical. All my life I’ve felt different. I
could… do things that I knew normal people couldn’t. Haven’t you ever felt like that?
Please, be honest.”
Hope wanted to deny it but that wouldn’t be the truth. There were times when
she did feel different and the weird soothing ability she possessed had always seemed
like one of those freak things.

Her mother occasionally suffered from migraines. Once, Hope had rested her
hand against her mother’s head and in an instant the pain had disappeared. Her
mother, who believed in psychic phenomena, told her that she had healing hands, and
made Hope touch her temples whenever a migraine came on. The thing was, it always
seemed to work.
“Yes,” Hope whispered. “There is something that I thought was just one of those
freak things, but now… do you think it has anything to do with being a… what did they
call us?”
“The’Rans.”
“Yes, The’Rans. I think it’s a rather daunting prospect to be responsible for
restoring health to the Ceyan people.”
“Maybe a little, but if it’s our destiny, I don’t see any other course of action but to
try to save them.” Eden shrugged.
“I wish I had your confidence. Aren’t you the least bit frightened?”
“Of what?”
Hope gave the little woman a look of pure disbelief, pursing her lips. “Come on,
Eden. You’re not going to tell me that you’re not a little worried about what will
happen if we can’t cure the Ceyans of this mysterious illness, or about having to join
with one of the princes in marriage.”
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. Yes, it’s a big responsibility to lay on our
shoulders, but how desperate do you think Prince Thane and Prince Kalian were when
they came to Earth? Imagine how frightening it must be for them to see their people
dying.”
“I’m sure it is, but why do we have to marry them? Can’t we just save their
people and go home?”
“The way I understood it, there are these God-like beings on H’trae who made it
a condition for revealing our whereabouts. I’m not sure if the princes even fully
understand why either, but I have a feeling that we’ll soon find out.”

Talking to Eden was like having a conversation with Yoda. She spoke in riddles.
“Do you think we are who they claim?”
“Hope, I have no doubt. Why else would I feel so at home here and I… I’ve
dreamed of this man, he’s tall, heavily muscled but not gross. He’s got long blond hair
and piercing silver eyes, and a face that’s so perfect it’s god-like.”
Hope gasped. “You just described the man of my dreams. That’s exactly how I
pictured him. Are we sharing the same dreams?”
“I don’t know, but when the necromancers came to my room, their faces
transformed to the likeness of this dream man. I don’t fully understand it, but it’s got to
mean something, right?”
A knock on the door prevented Hope from answering Eden’s question. “Come
in,” she called out.
Two blue women walked into the room. The taller of the two stepped forward
and bowed. “My lady, we are here to prepare you for the ceremony.”
Eden stood up, and gave her a slight wave. “I guess that’s my cue. I’ll see you
there.”
Hope gulped, her nervousness taking over once again. “Okay,” she said,
standing up.
Her friend must have read the uneasiness in her eyes, because she leaned
forward and squeezed her hand. “Everything will be okay.”
“How can you be so sure?” Hope challenged.
“Because I feel it.”

Chapter Two
Prince Aarik waited impatiently for the ceremony to begin. Ever since he’d
spotted her, she was never far from his mind. He’d observed the women briefly when
his brothers Kal and Thane returned from Earth. The legends were indeed true. The
women were among the most beautiful he’d ever seen.
While he wouldn’t have minded taking any of them as his mate, the tall slender
one with midnight tresses, or one of the dark beauties, his eyes had been riveted on the
golden one. He’d learned her name was Hope. He tested her name on his mouth.
It was a strange name to his ears, but it rolled off his tongue. At the time he’d
seen Hope, she was being carried to her room, unconscious from Kal’s mind lock, but
what Aarik could see of her he liked. Everything about this woman fascinated him,
from her beautiful golden-hued hair, to her soft, delicate skin.
She had a healthy plumpness to her body that he found attractive. He preferred
his women with a little meat on their bones, finding them softer and more pliant in bed.
His cock ached when he thought about what Hope would look like draped across his
bed, naked.
He stood to the right of his brother Rohman’s throne with Kal on his immediate
left and Thane on Kal’s left denoting their rank as tradition dictated. Rohman sat with
his back ramrod straight looking at the ceremony participants before him with an
unreadable expression on his face. One could almost think that the king was sitting at
an execution rather than a mating ceremony.
The hall was crowded with unmated males lined up along the side of the walls,
here to participate in the Feast of the Flesh in hopes of finding a mate. They were lined
up according to rank as well, beginning with the Royal Ceyan Guard and then the
barons of the land. Then they were organized by age, oldest to youngest.

Aarik tried to appear interested as the pre-ceremony entertainment commenced,
beginning with the Dancers of the Mist. They were enticing wenches, their bodies
covered in shimmering pixie dust. The lights from the hall reflected off their bodies
making them positively sparkle.
They twirled and gyrated, their naked bodies brushing against the men in
attendance. Aarik felt a slight stirring in his loins but nothing more. For some reason his
mind couldn’t stay focused on what was in front of him.
Instead he thought of a golden beauty and wondered what her body would look
like naked or wrapped in a pretty ilsa gown. He bet her nipples were a soft pale pink
not much darker than her skin, but large and suckable.
He bit his lip thinking about running his tongue between the folds of her
tempting pussy, and stopped himself. For all he knew, Rohman could choose her as his
bride. As was their custom, the Ceyan King, his twin, had first refusal of all the women
present.
Aarik couldn’t understand why it bothered him so to think of his brother
claiming Hope, especially when he had not yet spoken to her. Other doubts assailed his
mind. Would she accept him as her mate? If Rohman were to choose her, how could
Aarik reconcile with choosing a bride that he didn’t want? He had nothing against the
other women, but his mind was made up the moment he’d set eyes on Hope.
One of the dancers sidled up to him, brushing the tips of her breasts against his
arm. Though he was in no mood to interact with her, he knew it would be a great insult
to her if he didn’t at least show some token appreciation for the entertainment.
He let his fingers glide down the side of her body, grazing the side of her breast.
Normally, he would have done much more, like run his hands over her body. He even
considered pushing his fingers between her nether lips, but when he looked at the
pretty dancer’s face, all he could think about was Hope.
The dancer smiled as though sensing his withdrawal and twirled away to turn
her attention to Kal, who seemed just as disinterested. From what Aarik had gathered,
Kal and Thane had already made their choices. They were each already smitten with a

The’Ran woman, Thane to Raven and Kal to Genesis. The women were all the two of
them could talk about.
They had even gone to Rohman pleading with him to remove their chosen
women from the lineup but the king had stubbornly refused. Aarik’s younger brothers
had cursed Rohman, calling him heartless and other harsh names.
Though the prospect of losing Hope to his twin bothered him beyond all reason,
in the end, there was nothing he could do about it. Besides, no one understood Rohman
as well as he did. Many thought the king was hard to the point of cruelty at times, but
only Aarik knew that behind the harsh façade lay a tender heart. Perhaps with the
guidance and love of the right woman, more people would see it too.
Aarik said a silent prayer to the Ancient Ones that everything would work out
for the best and that none of this would be in vain. If anything, this ceremony would
give them temporary relief and a much needed distraction from the constant worry
about the fate of their people.
You seem wary. Tell me what is on your mind, mehier. Rohman’s voice entered his
mind.
Communicating to each other without words had been something they had been
able to do since birth. It surprised him to hear his twin use an endearment he hadn’t
spoken in such a long time.
This ceremony seems longer than it should be. I don’t understand why we can’t just pick
our mates and be done with it, Aarik answered back.
Because this is what has been done long before our fathers and their fathers were alive. Do
you wish to argue against tradition?
I don’t question tradition. I only question its length.
Rohman raised a dark blond brow so like his own. Are you so anxious to mate?
Perhaps you have seen a woman to catch your fancy as our brothers have.
Why would you say that? Aarik asked defensively. And if I have, what does it matter?
You’ll choose who you want anyway.

Ah, so you believe me to be the brute that Kal and Thane think I am. I find that cutting,
brother.
Aarik released a mental sigh. You know that’s not true. I only say it because I know
it’s your right to choose whatever mate you please. I ask you on the behalf of Thane and Kal,
please consider that their hearts have become involved with two of these women. Think how it
would make them feel to see you mate with someone their hearts have already chosen.
How is one woman different from the next? Hasn’t our mother taught us how
untrustworthy women are?
You’ll cease talking about our mother in such a disrespectful way. The only
untrustworthy woman in this castle is your whore, Ani. She has been plotting and scheming
since you deigned to take her into your bed.
But that’s the beauty of it, mehier. At least I know Ani is a scheming whore, something
she doesn’t hide. It’s much better than a whore who acts the innocent.
I wish you would not start in again on Mother. Don’t you think she’s suffered enough
already? How do you think it makes her feel to have her son’s scorn?
Rohman’s face grew dark with the blood rushing to his face and Aarik knew he’d
hit a nerve. Every bit of suffering she’s experienced, she brought on herself. I will speak no more
of this.
But -I will speak no more of this!
Rohman’s voice thundered so loudly in Aarik’s head that it began to throb a bit,
but he would not back down. We will speak of this, and I will have my say. You mark my
words, Rohman, one day our mother won’t be around and by the time you realize how wrong
you’ve been about her, it will be much too late. I pity you, brother.
Rohman remained stubbornly silent, and Aarik shook his head hoping that his
prediction wouldn’t come true. He breathed a sigh of relief when the Dancers of the
Mist finished their performance, signaling the royal musicians to play. A line of
unmated women filed into the hallway, expectant gleams of anticipation in their eyes.
These women had come from all over H’trae in hopes of snagging a Ceyan husband.

Aarik craned his neck to see Hope, his heart beating anxiously. His wings fluttered
behind him in excitement.
He didn’t have to wait long before the four The’Ran women were ushered into
the hall. They all had apprehensive expressions on their faces, unlike the native women
who knew what to expect. They held hands almost as if to show solidarity. He admired
their courage and hoped that they’d each find happiness with his brothers.
Aarik then afforded himself the luxury of looking at Hope and his heart began to
speed up faster than it already was. By the stars, she was even lovelier standing in a
blue ilsa gown, her lush curves inviting him to rush over to her and caress the delectable
flesh his eyes rested on.
Her eyes were the color of a cloudless sky and she had the sultriest pair of lips
he’d ever seen. His cock began to throb. Aarik couldn’t remember a time when he’d
wanted a woman so instantly and so much. The intensity of his emotions stole his
breath, making it impossible to focus on anything else but her.
He forced himself to look away when Rohman stood up to commence the
ceremony. The king strutted in front of the audience and held up his hand to silence the
whispers fluttering around the hall. “Greetings to all the participants of this season’s
Feast of the Flesh. As all are here to find a mate, these are the rules that will govern this
ceremony. I will have the first choice of the women, followed by Prince Aarik, Prince
Kalian, and then Prince Thane. When we have chosen, the next in line to choose will be
the Ceyans who serve in our Royal Guard, the highest rank proceeding first and so
forth. After the Royal Guard, the Barons, and then the choosing shall proceed by age,
oldest to the youngest. The joining period will follow.”
Rohman then turned to the women lined up in front of him. “You may disrobe.”
Aarik’s eyes strayed to Hope. To his delight she was looking straight at him as
well. He gave her a reassuring smile and was rewarded with a smile in return. How he
wanted her. If Rohman chose her, Aarik didn’t know what he would do.
Tentative fingers worked the ties of her ilsa gown until it fell in a puddle at her
feet. Her body was just as wonderful as he imagined it would be. More than anything

he wanted to taste those generous curves with his tongue and delve his fingers between
her smooth thighs. His mouth watered with longing. If Rohman didn’t hurry, Aarik
would have to take matters into his own hands.
But for now, he had to force himself to stand still while Rohman held their fate in
his hands.

Chapter Three
Rohman stepped forward, feeling his duties weigh heavily on his shoulders. The
last thing he wanted was to be here choosing a bride when he should be trying to save
his people. What were the Ancients Ones thinking to make him and his brothers
participate in this farken ceremony?
While his brothers all seemed to embrace this idea, he was not too happy about
it, yet if this is what he had to do to save his people, then so be it. He would have his
answers later. Rohman eyed the women in the line, careful not to let his gaze linger too
long on the The’Ran women. Since they had been brought to the palace he stayed out of
their way.
He was sure they were all lovely just as his brothers went on and on about, but
he more than anyone knew that behind beauty lay treachery. Whichever woman he
chose as his mate would soon learn that he wouldn’t be easily moved by a beautiful
face, and that his word was law.
For the benefit of the participants, he at least owed them a cursory inspection
even if his heart wasn’t in it. Rohman began at the beginning of the line, inspecting
women of all shapes and sizes. Some were comely; some were plain, while others
should have worn masks. As was the custom he touched the women as he walked
down the line, tweaking a breast here, or caressing a supple ass there.
None of them held his interest for more than a few seconds. When he would
have walked past one woman with long dark hair and eyes, she reached out to stop
him. None of the women were supposed to touch him without permission and as he
turned around to tell her so, she started fingering herself as though to excite him. “If
you choose me as your mate, your majesty, I will deny you nothing. Absolutely
nothing.” The bold wench smiled at him, her tongue snaking out to run over her lips.

Rohman looked her over from head to toe. She was certainly pretty enough and
he could find no fault with her body, however she was much too bold for his taste and
inspecting her was just a courtesy, not that she knew it. No one knew that he would
only be able to choose a The’Ran bride. He was sure this woman would be one of the
first to be chosen by one of the other unmated men.
“I’m sure you would,” he said, cupping her hot sex with his palm. The heat
generating from her nearly singed his hands. She moaned in delight, grinding herself
against his caress. The woman threw her arms around his neck, pressing him boldly
against her body, and doing what any man would, he dipped his head to taste what she
had to offer.
Her eager mouth opened under his and she tried to control the kiss by pushing
her tongue into his mouth, but he halted it with a light nip of his teeth. Lifting the
woman off her feet to hold her against his chest, Rohman took his time exploring the
warm recesses between her lips, until he felt that he’d given her enough of his attention.
He set her back down and gave her a swift pat on the bottom. “You will make a
fine mate for one of my warriors,” he gentled his rejection.
“But not for you, my king?” She pushed her dark hair over her shoulder almost
as though she were coming out of a trance.
“No, not for me,” he said moving on to the next woman, ignoring her pout.
When he saw the next in line he wished that he hadn’t lingered with the one before her.
“I want a kiss too!” the woman’s shrill voice filled the room. By the stars, the
woman had the face of a heka beast. He didn’t know whether to run for dear life or
pretend that he didn’t hear her although that would have been impossible considering
how loud she’d yelled.
Rohman had never seen a woman quite so thin. Her bones seemed as though
they would pop from her flesh at any moment. Sadly, her nose, which probably took up
the majority of the space on her face, was her most attractive feature, though it was a bit
off center. The beast’s -- woman’s teeth stuck out so far he wondered how she bit into
her food. A thick coat of hair covered her cheeks and he inwardly cringed. He’d never

seen anyone quite like her before and the only thing he could think to explain her looks
was that she’d angered a wood nymph.
Rohman felt immediate remorse for having such bad thoughts about someone
who surely couldn’t help what she looked like. He knew more than anyone that beauty
was just surface. Bending his head to meet her lips, he hoped that she didn’t see the
distaste on his face.
He had only meant it to be a token kiss when the woman jumped into his arms
and wrapped her legs around his waist. She clung to him like a vine, not letting go. She
pressed hot foul smelling kisses on his face and neck. The room filled with titters and
giggles, which he immediately silenced with a cool challenging glare.
Rohman was no weak man but it took a considerable amount of effort to pry the
woman off. Once free of her succubus grip, he continued down the line quickly, barely
giving the other women a cursory glance. There were a few women he stopped in front
of and touched, but he didn’t linger until he reached the next woman.
The first The’Ran woman.
This one had to be Hope. His servant had reported on the status of the women
and had given a full description of their appearances. Simi had not been incorrect.
Shorter by at least half a head than the average Ceyan woman, she had a golden
prettiness about her that would have pleased any man to look upon.
Her soft rounded body would provide an ample armful for any one of his
brothers who chose her. Rohman looked toward his throne to gauge the expressions on
his brothers’ faces. While Kal and Thane remained impassive, Aarik had an anxious
expression in his silver eyes. He smirked at his twin. So I see you have already chosen as
well, like our brothers. She does have beautiful curves.
Aarik’s mouth tightened, but he didn’t respond to Rohman’s telepathic
challenge. He reached out and lightly grazed a hand over one plump pink-tipped
breast. Hope shivered, her sky-colored eyes staring back at him with apprehension and
another emotion that he perceived as fear.

Though Rohman had no time for women and their feelings beyond what they
could offer him in bed, he didn’t want these women to be afraid of him. Their skills
were needed to save his people, yet he couldn’t ignore the dictates of tradition and not
sample their lovely charms before deciding which one he would take as his mate.
He ran his fingertips lightly across her belly, eliciting a response. The stubborn
set of her mouth told him that it wasn’t pleasure. Blue eyes narrowed to slits and it
seemed as though she was sending him a message. Rohman briefly tapped into her
mind to read her thoughts.
I may have to participate in this archaic ceremony, but I most certainly don’t have to like
it.
He smiled at the direction of her thoughts. So this one had spirit. There was
nothing he despised more than spinelessness. She would be an excellent mate for his
brother. Rohman had no intention of claiming this one. Despite what his brothers
thought, he did care about them, especially his twin. And if there was a particular
wench they were interested in, what did he care? Women were all the same, weren’t
they? But he would have his little revenge for all the curses they’d laid on his head.
Unable to resist, he ordered, “Turn around.”
Hope shot him another angry glare before complying. Rohman smiled inwardly
at her resistance. He palmed her backside with both hands, giving it a squeeze before
letting go. Yes, she would do nicely for Aarik. Hope emanated a gentle, nurturing spirit
that seemed to somehow fit with his twin’s fierce, but sensitive soul.
The next one had to be Raven. Thane had been especially descriptive about this
one with her tela-colored eyes, long dark hair that flowed past her shoulders, and
striking features. His eyes traveled over her willowy body. Though he much preferred a
woman with more curves, she was well built. He could see why Thane was so taken
with her. Several inches taller than Hope, Raven was still just shy of the average Ceyan
female height. She was beautiful. Far more beautiful than any of the other women he’d
seen so far. Raven possessed an exotic beauty, which was the opposite of Hope’s blonde
prettiness.

She held her head like she was already royalty. Rohman wondered where she’d
gotten such a regal bearing. Instead of fixing her gaze on him as was his right, Raven
looked straight ahead as if he weren’t there. No woman had ever openly defied him,
and this little spitfire would be no different. He smiled despite this show of
insubordination, accepting her unknowing challenge.
Again he looked to the throne and he could almost touch Thane’s anger. Turning
back to Raven, Rohman reached out to touch her only to have her flinch away. He
raised an eyebrow and tried again. The motions were repeated twice more before he
grew tired of the game and pulled her roughly against him.
She continued to struggle against him to no avail, his strength too great for her
even though he could tell that she was using all of her effort. “Your disobedience will
get you in trouble, woman,” he said to her before bending down and brushing his lips
against her temple.
Her tela-colored eyes screamed murder, but some driving force within him
seemed to want to test her worthiness. Thane would need a woman who could match
his passion, one with the same amount of fire. Rohman knew that any woman without
the will to handle his brother would soon be cast aside. Could Raven be that woman?
Yes, she would be more than enough for Thane to handle.
He then moved on to the one called Genesis. What an odd name. She was taller
than Hope but shorter than Raven, and she had the most unusually colored skin he’d
ever seen. He’d heard what was whispered amongst the servants but probably
wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen it for himself. It was different, but he liked it.
Her skin was beautiful. She was beautiful. A short cap of glossy dark hair
crowned her head accentuating the high cheekbones and exotically slanted eyes. Dark,
heavily lashed eyes blinked at him, her expression indiscernible. His eyes drifted to a
lush mouth that looked so soft and inviting it made one want to instantly kiss it.
Though he suspected many would say that Raven was the most stunning of the women
he’d inspected so far, Genesis rivaled that beauty.

She was also slender in build although not quite as willowy as Raven or as curvy
as Hope except for her backside. How could a woman with such a small waist have
such a generous backside, one that would make any man daydream about riding it?
Her high breasts were crowned with blackberry nipples jutting out invitingly.
Rohman cupped one in his palm, seeing what her reaction to him would be. She stood
unmoving as though she was merely tolerating his touch.
“I will kill him,” Rohman heard Kal’s voice threaten from behind him. Already
his brothers were becoming territorial of these women, and he wasn’t sure if it was a
good thing or not.
Rohman caressed her face and leaned down to kiss her when she twisted her
head away just as their lips were about to touch. Genesis stepped back and this time he
saw very well what she was thinking. It was the same look given to him by Hope and
Raven. Did she think to defy him too? Using his powers, he turned her head to face him
without laying a hand on her.
The surprise in her eyes told him that she hadn’t expected that. Good.
“You raztah!”
Rohman turned around just in time to see Kal charge forward, only to be pulled
back by Thane and Aarik. He smiled, shaking his head. These women had not been in
their world for very long and already his brothers were being led by their cocks.
He watched his brothers in amusement. Thane shot him a glare before
attempting to calm Kal down. “No. Don’t do it, Kal. This is what he wants. Don’t give
him the satisfaction. Think of our people who’ve come here to enjoy themselves.”
As if finally noticing the anxious looks of the participants surrounding them, Kal
visibly calmed down, yet he threw Rohman a look of utter dislike. If Rohman didn’t
know better, he’d think Kal really hated him. His brothers thought he was just trying to
rile them, and maybe he was a little, but if they all had to choose brides, he wanted
them to at least be happy in their choice.
He could hear Aarik say something to Kal but didn’t quite catch it before he
turned back to Genesis, who was now looking anxiously toward Kal. It was obvious to

Rohman she seemed to care for his brother as well. He approved of this woman. She
had enough spirit, but he could also see that she possessed a cool head about her that he
found to be rare in women. Perhaps Genesis was a little too defiant for his taste, but Kal
would be able to handle her fine, although on second thought, Rohman wasn’t sure
who would be handling whom.
He reluctantly moved to the last woman knowing that this would be his mate if
he were to respect his brothers’ wishes. Eden -- the sister of Genesis. He didn’t know
exactly what he’d expected, but it certainly wasn’t this great beauty in wee form.
His breath caught in his throat and it felt as if someone had slammed their fist
into his chest. She was much smaller than the other women, at least a head shorter than
even Hope, yet her body seemed perfectly proportioned. She barely came to his
stomach. Rohman usually preferred his women much taller, but her height seemed just
perfect for her.
Eden had skin reminiscent of Genesis’s yet it was at least two shades darker and
seemed richer. His fingers itched to touch her, but unlike the other women, it wasn’t
from some sense of duty; it was actually because he wanted to. She looked up at him
with large dark, thickly lashed eyes that looked almost too big for her face. Her features
were perfect, from her tilt-tipped nose to her lips -- slightly fuller than her sister’s, but
infinitely more enticing. Her head was covered in long nearly black braids that hung
down her back. He’d never seen a style quite like it before but it suited her, and he liked
it. It almost hurt to look at her she was so beautiful.
He took a slight step back to take in the full glory of her body. Certainly, she was
small, but her breasts weren’t. They were surprisingly large, tipped with nipples so
dark and sweet-looking his mouth began to water. She had an impossibly tiny waist
flaring out to generous hips and a plump backside.
Rohman couldn’t look away from her absolute perfection, and it pleased him
that he saw no fear in the dark depths of her eyes. In fact, a small smile touched her lips.
Had any of his brothers chosen this little one, he wouldn’t have conceded.
Indeed, he would have kept this one for himself. A fierce possessive charge ripped

through him. He knew there were other men in the room watching and wanting her,
but they couldn’t have her. She was his!
Rohman turned around encompassing the entire room in his gaze. “I have
chosen.” He then stepped closer to Eden. “You are the one.” And before she could
respond, he lifted her up in the air, tossed her over his shoulder, and stormed out of the
room.
“No!” someone cried out, but he didn’t turn to see who the voice belonged to.

Chapter Four
Hope looked over to see a distraught Genesis yell at Prince Kalian, “Do
something!”
Raven grabbed her arm. “You knew it was going to be like this.”
Hope wished she could offer words of comfort and tell her that everything
would be okay, but anything she thought of just seemed trite. Besides, she couldn’t tear
her eyes away from the muscular winged warrior standing by the throne. It had
stunned her to see the king at first because he had the same face as the man in her
dreams, yet she instinctively knew it wasn’t him when she spotted Prince Aarik.
Twins. How incredible. While the king seemed hard, arrogant, and a little bit on
the cold side, she felt an instant connection to the handsome prince. Her heart began to
flutter uncontrollably, unable to believe she could inspire such intensity judging from
the way he looked back at her.
His body was all sinewy hollows and ripped muscles. He was large, but not
overly so. Hope wondered what he thought when he looked at her. She heard Raven
saying something to Genesis, but couldn’t make out what was being said because Aarik
stepped away from the throne and started down the line of women.
She watched as he nodded toward the women in attendance while some of the
others he touched. Hope found that she didn’t like seeing him touch other women. She
frowned, getting upset as the women grew bolder and he lingered longer. She didn’t
know where this irrational sense of jealousy was coming from considering she didn’t
even know him.
Her teeth ground together as the same woman who’d thrown herself at the king
attempted to do the same with Aarik. The only thing that prevented Hope from
scratching that bitch’s eyes out was the fact that Aarik sidestepped her grasp.

Hope watched his progress as he continued down the row of women, not
realizing she was holding her breath until Aarik stood in front of her. An electric charge
flowed through her so strongly she lost all ability to speak. Her mouth opened, but no
words came up.
Aarik was even more gorgeous up close. The way he looked at her told Hope
that he felt the connection too. She could feel her breasts tighten and her pussy tingle.
Hope couldn’t remember ever reacting this way to anyone in her life.
When he touched her face with his calloused palm, she sighed, leaning her cheek
into his touch, knowing with a certainty she’d never felt before that this was her man.
“I’m Aarik, and you are Hope.” The words were spoken as a statement, but she nodded
anyway, still unable to find her voice.
His fingers splayed across her throat, tickling her skin with his gentle touch. His
hand slid down to her collarbone, then to her breast, cupping it before giving it a firm
squeeze. She could feel the lick of flames in the pit of her stomach burning a trail to her
pussy. It wasn’t even his touch that really made her feel this way, she realized, but the
way he looked at her.
She’d never considered herself a highly desirable woman, attractive maybe, but
never desirable, but this man made her feel like a rare gem. Hope shivered in reaction to
his touch, so unlike his brother’s.
“You’re beautiful,” he whispered and seemed as if he would kiss her when
someone interrupted the moment, making them aware of the others surrounding them.
For that brief moment in time it had felt as if they were the only two people in the room.
Aarik straightened up. “It is customary that I must inspect all the women, but
fret not, because it is you that I want.”
Hearing him say the words filled her heart with a warmth that made her breath
catch in her throat. Nodding in consent, she watched as he moved to Raven, giving the
dark-haired beauty only a cursory glance and a smile before moving to Genesis, who
didn’t seem inclined to be touched. He whispered something softly that Hope couldn’t
quite make out, but whatever it was caused Genesis to visibly relax.

Aarik then turned to the crowd. “My choice has been made. I choose Hope.” He
walked back over to Hope and held his hand out to her. Feeling shy all of a sudden, she
placed her hand in his and let him lead her out of the hall.
She didn’t know where he was taking her, but was surprised when it wasn’t a
bedroom. The room he led her to looked like a private library, with books decorating
the walls on all sides.
Hope shivered, but this time from cold, suddenly remembering that she was
naked as a jaybird. “Do you think I can have something to wear?” she asked, wrapping
her arms around her body.
“How remiss of me. Let me fetch you a blanket to warm you up. Please sit.” He
gestured to a welcoming-looking chair upholstered with some type of animal skin she
couldn’t identify.
Her eyes followed Aarik as he strode to the other end of the room and retrieved a
large blanket adorning the couch. He walked back over to her, knelt down, and
wrapped it around her shoulders. Their eyes locked again, and that same bolt of
electricity that she’d felt at the ceremony was stronger than ever.
“Why did you bring me here?” she couldn’t help asking.
“I thought that perhaps you would feel more comfortable if we got to know each
other a little better first before our joining. My younger brothers have the advantage
over me and have already spent time with their women.”
To be honest she didn’t care if they got to know one another right now. The way
her body reacted toward him, the getting to know each other could come later. She was
horny now.
To her bewilderment, Aarik threw his head back and laughed. “I am flattered
that you’re eager for our joining.”
Her jaw dropped. It was almost as if he’d read her mind. What the hell?
“I did read your mind.” He smiled at her.
“You… you… get out of here!”
“If it’s your wish for me to leave, I will, but where do you want me to go?”

Was he for real? “Umm, it was just an expression meaning are you serious?”
The smile returned to his face, a gleam of amusement sparkling within the
depths of his silver eyes. “Yes, this seems to surprise you.”
“Well, where I come from, people can’t read each other’s minds.”
“Yes, I have heard of this strange Earth place. Tell me about it.”
“Can I ask you a question first?”
He bowed his head slightly. “Anything, my lady.”
“Why did you bring me here? I know you said you wanted to give us a chance to
get to know each other, but what I mean is, why this room?”
“This is the room where I come to think. It’s my favorite room in the palace. I
thought I’d share it with you.”
The sentiment was touching and Hope could feel the bond between them
steadily growing by the minute. “That’s really nice of you. Thank you. Do you live in
this palace all the time?”
“No, only the times when I’m needed by my brother. I have lands and a palace of
my own, nothing as grand as this of course, but large enough to suit my needs -- our
needs.”
Hope smiled at the way he said ours. It was hard to believe that only hours ago
she had reservations about this entire situation, but now all she could think about was
being with Aarik. It felt like she’d known him for years instead of a few hours.
“I’d like to see it.”
“I’d like to show it to you. Do you know, Hope, before the ceremony began I was
nervous?”
This big beautiful man scared? It was hard to believe because he looked fearless.
“Why?”
“Because I knew you were the one from the moment I laid eyes on you and I was
afraid Rohman would choose you first.”
The ceremony was the first time they’d physically seen each other. Was it
possible he’d dreamed of her too? “Did you dream of me?”

“Only after I saw you. When my brothers brought you back from Earth was the
first time I laid eyes on you.”
She gasped. He’d seen her then?
“Why do you seem so surprised? I’m sure there were many men on Earth who
wanted you for a mate.”
She shrugged, wishing she’d met Aarik earlier in life. “Not really.”
Aarik gave her a look of disbelief. “What’s wrong with the men on that world?
Earth men must not be intelligent if they didn’t see what a prize you are.”
Hope felt herself blush. “I guess I’ve never been the type to inspire men to great
romance.”
“Forgive me for not believing you, because when I look at you, all I can think
about is how much I want you. I’ve never felt such an instant attraction to any woman
before. I know you were brought here primarily to help our people, but I’m glad that
you’re now my mate.”
Hope realized that no matter how much Aarik wanted her, he was trying to put
her at ease by being a gentleman. Maybe it was time for her to take matters into her
own hands. She leaned forward, took his face in both hands, and planted her lips
against his.
Aarik stiffened briefly before wrapping his arms around her, pulling Hope
closer. She took charge of the kiss, pushing her tongue against his lips, prying them
open in a heated assault. She caught his moan in her mouth, swallowing and reveling in
it.
Her tongue swirled and explored the wet recesses of his mouth, tasting and
savoring him. Aarik tasted of sweet wine, titillating her senses with its unique flavor.
No man had ever inspired her to take charge in quite this way before and she loved it.
Hope’s fingers dug into the mane of his silky blond hair holding his head closer
to deepen the kiss. Aarik’s tongue came out to meet hers, licking and dancing with hers.
The kiss seemed to go on for hours before they both pulled away from each other,
panting for breath.

“You are a bold woman,” he said, not sounding displeased.
Hope smiled. “But you like that.”
“I do.” He pulled her back into his embrace, burying his face against her neck,
nipping and kissing her tender flesh. Hope threw her head back to grant him access,
feeling a jolt of pure ecstasy shoot down her spine. Aarik pushed the blanket off her
shoulders and pressed more kisses against her exposed skin.
With each kiss Hope experienced a new sensation, but the one thing that
remained constant was the hot, sultry feeling she felt from her head to the tips of her
toes. “Your skin is so soft, I can kiss it all day,” he murmured.
In one swift movement, he pulled Hope down on the floor, pushing her onto her
back and tearing the blanket away from her quivering body. His silver eyes studied her
with a stark possessiveness that robbed her of the ability to think straight.
Aarik stretched out beside her. “I know it’s chilly in here, but I’ll make it warm
for you.” To her surprise his silver eyes began to glow and he looked toward the
fireplace. In the next instant, a fire began.
“How --”
“Shh, we’ll speak of it later.” He smiled before returning his attention to her
body. His large palm slid between the valley of her breasts and trailed down to her
belly, not stopping until it rested in the tangle of curls between her thighs. “Open your
legs for me, jihar.”
Hope didn’t think to deny him what he wanted, and when fingers began to
probe her throbbing pussy she nearly lost it. “Yes,” she moaned, wanting more.
“Do you like my touch?”
“Yes. Please. More.” She lifted her hips up against his fingers. Hope could feel a
dampness between her legs, and she imagined what it would be like to have his cock
inside of her. Her mind drifted to the incident with the necromancers.
When they prepared her for this joining, they’d told her that they needed to
stretch her vaginal and anal walls so that she’d be able to accommodate the size of a

Ceyan. This made her wonder just how large he was exactly. Could he really be as large
as those rods had grown to?
She’d worry about that later. For now she’d concentrate on the delicious
sensation of his fingers sliding against her thick labia. Hope wished that he’d hurry up
and slide them inside.
It felt so decadent to lay sprawled on the floor with this gorgeous Ceyan on top
of her, doing the most incredible things with his hand. She let her fingers drift along the
edges of his wings. The feathers were soft and she liked the way they felt.
Aarik brought his hot, hungry mouth to her breast, taking the tight peak between
his lips, while slipping a finger into her hot channel.
“Yes, that’s it!” she groaned, rolling her head from side to side, wanting more
than just one finger inside of her pussy. He finger fucked her hot little hole, making her
cry out in pleasure all while sucking voraciously on the hard tip of her breast,
increasing her pleasure. She thought she would explode with lust.
Hope planted her hands against his chest and felt the erratic beating of his heart.
She smiled knowingly. He was just as turned on as she was. “Please, Aarik,” she
pleaded.
“Please what?” he asked, lifting his head and stilling his finger.
“You know.”
He grinned. “Yes, but I want to hear you say it.”
Men and their egos were something that Hope had no time for, but Aarik was
doing the most delicious things to her and she knew she owed him his due. “Stick
another finger inside of me. I want more,” she begged, eager for him to unleash the
savage passion she knew he was holding back.
Hope had never wanted to be fucked this badly in her life. This feeling was
primitive, and older than time, but she wanted to be taken and claimed by this man. She
wanted to be his woman.
Aarik slid another long finger into her now sopping channel, gently sliding in
and out.

“More!”
He raised a brow. “More?”
“Yes! Please give me more.” Again he slid another finger into her, but Hope
wanted something else now.
“Harder!”
“I don’t want to hurt you, Hope.”
“Please, Aarik. The only way you can hurt me is if you stop. Please don’t stop. I
don’t think I could take it if you did. Give it to me harder.”
Aarik rammed his fingers into her sheath, with short savage thrusts. “Do you
like this, my little wanton?”
“Faster, harder, give me more!” she yelled, bucking her hips against his hand
unable to get enough of him. It seemed as though some sexual demon was driving her,
making it impossible to get enough of this man. The raw sexual tension burning within
her would not be appeased.
Though he gave in to all of her demands, prodding and poking at the pace she
wanted, it still wasn’t enough. She knew there was only one thing that would satisfy
her and that was his cock. Hope wanted him balls deep inside of her, pounding away
until neither one of them could move.
“Woman, you are so hot. That’s it, jihar, ride my fingers as they fuck you. You’re
tight, but you’re so wet my cock will have no problem sliding into you. Already my
fingers are soaked with your delicious smelling juices. You want it bad, don’t you?” He
flashed white teeth at her in a small smile.
“Yes! I want it! I need it!” Hope didn’t think she could wait any longer.
The look of lust in his eyes sent a shiver racing down her spine. “Then you won’t
need to wait,” he promised.
Hope whimpered when he removed his fingers from her pussy. She watched in
amazement as he brought them to his mouth, licking off her juices as if it were the most
delicious thing he’d ever tasted.

“You are just as delicious as you smell,” he said when he finished. Aarik stood
and fumbled with the ties on his loincloth. Hope pressed her thighs together tightly, the
pressure creating a heady sensation she could barely stand.
“Hurry,” she moaned, cupping her breasts in her palms to relieve the pressure
she felt within.
When he tossed aside the covering, Hope’s eyes nearly bulged out of her head.
She knew he’d be large, but this was ridiculous.

Chapter Five
“Holy moly!” Hope exclaimed, her eyes wide with surprise and, if he wasn’t
mistaken, fear.
Aarik knelt down next to her wanting to assuage her anxieties. He cupped her
cheek. “Hope, you were prepared by the necromancers, weren’t you?”
“No… I mean yes, but I didn’t think it would be so large.”
“This is the way Ceyan men are built. I begin to wonder what kind of men there
are on Earth.”
“None as big as you. I don’t think elephants are as big as you.”
He laughed. Hope was so adorable. “Touch it. It won’t hurt you.”
“I… I don’t know if I want to.”
“You’re being silly. You were prepared and you should be able to take every
inch of me, in every hole I so desire to fuck you in. Remember, this is what you wanted.
What happened to my eager little wanton?” he teased with a smile.
“I’m being silly, aren’t I?”
“A little. Touch it, Hope. It won’t bite.” He positioned himself on his knees in
front of her.
Tentative fingers reached out to run along the length of his shaft, making him
shudder with pleasure. This woman was all that he could hope for and more. Her touch
drove him to the brink of insanity. Like Hope, he wanted more than just soft caresses.
“Wrap your fingers around me, Hope.”
She did as he commanded, grasping his cock in her hand. Her fist slid up and
down his turgid length and his body tightened with need. More than anything he
wanted to bury his cock between her soft thighs and touch the inner depths of her
pussy, but he knew he wanted her to be completely at ease before he took her.

His eyes roamed over her ample curves drinking in every valley and crest. She
was the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen. Aarik reached out, rubbing the silky
strands of her hair together between his fingers. It was an unusual shade almost like a
molten gold, but not quite as dark. His breath caught in his throat when Hope released
his cock and positioned herself so that her face was eye level with his jutting member.
“It’s so big,” she whispered before licking its sensitive tip.
Unable to help himself, he grabbed the side of her head and pulled her closer to
his cock, wanting to feel her lips wrapped around it. “Suck it,” he groaned.
When Hope sucked him into her mouth, it took every ounce of willpower not to
thrust forward. A wave of heat rushed through his body, threatening to drown him in
desire. He couldn’t remember a time when a woman had made him feel quite like this,
but even as the thought crossed his mind, he knew why.
His brother Thane had talked about heartmates while his twin denied their
existence saying such talk was drivel. Aarik tended to side with his twin on this issue,
because he’d never thought it was possible to feel such an instant passion and heart
rush for anyone. However, with one look at Hope, his world turned upside down.
He couldn’t quite explain what this feeling was, but his heart beat faster, his
thoughts were consumed with her, and when he touched her, it felt like nothing else.
Aarik wanted to know everything about her, what made her laugh, and what made her
smile. He could imagine her ruling and growing old by his side. She would make a fine
princess. Within Hope, Aarik sensed a noble heart.
Her lips tightened around his cock as she began to bob back and forth in a
speedy motion. Her hand grasped his balls, giving them a light squeeze. “By the stars,
woman, you will make me spill my seed before I can get inside of you,” Aarik panted.
She moaned around his cock, the humming sensation sending a ricochet of
pleasure pulsing through his being. Her mouth felt so damp and warm, almost as good
as he knew her pussy would be.

When the head of his throbbing erection hit the back of her throat, he lost it. He
jerked back, pulling his shaft from her mouth, and pushed her back against the floor. “I
need inside of your channel now!” he roared, unable to stop.
He parted her thighs, looking down at her pretty pussy, covered with tight
blonde curls. “Open yourself for me.”
Hope reached between her legs, her fingers parting her slick folds to reveal the
tempting pink flesh inside.
Aarik gripped his cock and rubbed it against her clit.
“Oh, Aarik, please,” Hope moaned.
He chuckled. “Not so frightened now, are you?”
“I’m too horny to be frightened. Besides, I know you won’t hurt me.” She looked
at him so trustingly he felt his heart contract. If this wasn’t his heartmate he didn’t
know what one was.
Aarik pushed forward, stuffing the tip of his shaft into her hot channel. “Are you
okay?” he asked when he heard her gasp.
“Yes. I’m perfect. Please don’t stop. Stick that big beautiful cock inside of me.”
“Are you sure you’re ready?”
“I don’t think I’ll ever be more ready. Please stop teasing me and give me some
cock.”
He smiled, loving the fact that she knew her own mind. “Whatever my lady
wants, my lady gets.” With one swift movement, Aarik slid his cock deeper into her
thirsty cunt. It was tight and wet, seeming to suck him in. It was the most mindblowing sensation he’d ever experienced.
Aarik paused every now and then to check and see how Hope was handling this.
Her eyes rolled to the back of her head and if he were to go by the soft little moans
coming from the back of her throat, she was enjoying this.
He didn’t stop pushing forward until his balls rested on the curve of her ass.
“I never thought…” she moaned, breaking off.
“Never thought you could feel like this?” he finished for her.

“Yes. Please, make love to me, let me feel you move within me.” Hope grabbed
his shoulders and pulled him against her. He could feel her hard nipples poking his
chest.
As he moved within her, Aarik watched Hope, loving the feel of her fingers
lightly caressing his wings. She was so beautiful, from the curve of her cheeks to the
delicate shape of her ears, and her body, so soft and pliant -- so full of his cock. He
knew he would never grow tired of her and if he did, it would be when he was too old
to move or care.
Hope wrapped her legs around his flanks, tilting her hips upwards, taking him
deeper than he thought possible. The piercing jolt of pleasure surged through him.
Aarik groaned, ready to explode.
She moved against him heightening the sensation of their mutual passion. Aarik
drove deeper and harder into her, getting closer to climax with each powerful thrust.
His wings fluttered behind him signaling his excitement.
Hope’s nails scraped down the sides of his shoulders, breaking skin when she
screamed her release.
When Aarik felt his balls tightening, ready for climax, he covered her parted lips
with his, wanting to taste the sweetness of her mouth once again. With one last
powerful thrust, he shuddered against her, releasing a primal cry. He braced himself on
his arms, emptying his balls of their seed.
“Oh, Hope,” he groaned, unable to think of anything more eloquent to say
although there was so much in his heart. He collapsed on his side and pulled her into
his arms. They both gasped for breath.
Lying with her in his arms, Aarik was content to stay here, listening to the beat of
her heart. He placed a kiss on her sweat-dampened forehead. Hope was the first one to
break the silence.
“Oh, Aarik, will it always be like this?” she asked with wonder in her voice.
His chest swelled with masculine pride. “That good was it?”

She smacked him on the chest. “It must have been just as good for you because I
heard no complaints.”
He chuckled, thinking not for the first time that he’d never felt so comfortable
with a woman before. He’d had many bed partners in his lifetime, and while enjoyable,
no one had ever touched his heart, body, and soul the way Hope did. “It was more than
good, my lady, and when I catch my breath, I’ll show you how good it can be again.”
She lifted one golden brow, giving him a quizzical look. “So soon?”
“With you, I can go for a very long time. You inspire me to feelings I didn’t think
were possible.” Aarik gave her a kiss on the tip of her nose.
“Did you feel it too?”
“It was like nothing else. I am not used to these feelings.”
“How do you think it’s possible to feel this way about someone in such a short
amount of time? I mean, it’s so intense. I felt it the minute our eyes locked and when
you touched me, it felt so right. I never thought there was such a thing as love at first
sight, but how else can we explain this?” she asked.
“I don’t know, but what I do know is that I was glad that you were brought to
H’trae.”
A worried expression entered the blue depths of her eyes and he was instantly
concerned. “What is it, jihar? Why do you look so serious all of a sudden?”
“I guess from being reminded of the real reason why I’m here.”
“I see.” The thought had crossed his mind as well, and even though he was still
becoming accustomed to these new feelings he was experiencing, the fate of his people
wasn’t far from his mind.
His people were dying. For months, he and his brothers had searched all of
H’trae trying to find an antidote for the mysterious ailment that seemed to have no
cause or cure. All they knew was that it caused a slow painful death and was spreading
rapidly.
Aarik had visited the sick, seen their suffering, and cursed himself for his
inability to do anything about it. They’d tried fairy medicine, Elven cures, and sorcerers,

but nothing seemed to work. Stranger yet, it seemed to be an ailment that only affected
his people and he couldn’t understand why.
It was only on the suggestion of his brother Thane that they seek out the last of
the The’Rans, a race of healers who were said to possess great powers. Upon visiting
the Temple of the Ancient Ones, Thane and Kal had learned there were four unmated
female The’Rans left. Though they all possessed a great power that would be valuable
to their people, only one would possess the power to save them.
It was odd that the Ancient Ones had made it a condition that he and his
brothers should take these women as their brides, but lying here with Hope in his arms,
he’d never been happier about anything in his life.
Aarik planted a kiss on her damp forehead causing her to smile. He didn’t think
he would ever tire of looking at her lovely face. And she was all his.
“Aarik?”
“Yes, jihar?”
She raised her head. A worried expression clouded her blue eyes, again. “What if
I can’t help your people?”
“We won’t speak of it now. We’ll talk about it later.”
“No. I think we need to talk about it now. This is important and affects your
people. You should be worried about this too.”
“Do you think I haven’t thought about this in all my waking hours? Before you
came, I thought of naught else. Just for this one moment, I don’t want to think about it. I
want to hold you, and enjoy how good you feel in my arms.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to kill the moment. I just can’t help but
think, if this illness is slowly wiping out your people, how long will it take before it
affects you? We just met, yet the thought of losing you scares me to death.”
He sighed, realizing this was a topic that he wouldn’t escape anytime soon, and
Hope did have a point. How long would it be before someone close to him was
affected… his mother, or brothers. It wasn’t something he wanted to think about, but it
was a reality he’d have to face.

“It has crossed my mind, but I have to believe that you and the other women are
the answer, otherwise there is no hope. Hope. That is an interesting name. How did you
come by it?”
“You’re trying to change the subject again.”
“I’m not actually. I’d really like to know.”
“I’m not really sure why my parents named me Hope. I think it was probably
because I was the last hope to save their crummy marriage.”
“You don’t sound very fond of the people who gave you life,” he observed.
“It’s not that. I’m just not particularly close to them. They only seem to want me
around when they need a favor. My father not so much as my mother, but it’s kind of a
give and take relationship with those two. I give and they take.”
His heart went out to her. The sad note in her voice made him upset on her
behalf. How could anyone treat their own flesh and blood like that? Families were to be
honored and cherished, not used and cast aside. It was one of the problems he had with
Rohman’s ongoing feud with their mother. Yes, she had done the wrong thing, and
some may have even said it was unforgivable, but at the end of the day, she was still
their mother and deserved their respect.
He knew how it hurt the queen whenever Rohman cut into her with his acid
words and hurtful barbs. “It pains me to know that you didn’t get along with your
family.”
Hope smiled although it didn’t reach her eyes. “Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s
something I’d grown used to and I’ve long since accepted them for what they are. In a
way, I know they care for me, if not in the way that most parents should care for their
children, but they care. And I didn’t mind doing things for them, to be honest, even if
they didn’t appreciate it.”
He ran his palm along the smooth line of her hips, unable to resist touching her
soft skin. “Most people would not have continued to do what you did if it wasn’t
appreciated.”
“I guess I’m not most people.”

“You have a very kind heart.”
“Either that or I’m a big pushover.”
Aarik frowned, furrowing his brows. He was unfamiliar with that term. Would
he ever get used to all of her unusual phrases? “Pushover? What is that?”
“A big chump.”
He threw his hands up in the air in frustration. “I give up. Your Earth sayings
confuse me. What kind of things did they demand of you?”
“My father mainly just made me run errands for him while my mother…”
“What?”
“You are going to think this is strange, but my mother suffers from migraines.”
“What are migraines?”
“Really terrible headaches, kind of like someone is pounding you on the head,
but from the inside. Anyway, for some reason when I massaged her temples, it would
make the pain go away.”
He brought his head up sharply. “Tell me that again.”
She gave him a bewildered look. “Um, I used to massage her headaches away.”
“So you took her pain away?”
“I guess so. What’s the big deal?”
“Is this something that you’ve always been able to do?”
“You mean giving my mother head massages?”
“Yes. Have you always had this ability?”
“I’m not really sure. I’ve only ever tried this on my mother.”
Aarik sat up abruptly and jumped to his feet, pulling her with him. “Come with
me.”
“Where are we going?” she asked, yanking her arm back.
“You will see when we get there.”
“I really hope we stop to get some clothes first.”

Chapter Six
Without any words or preamble the king threw Eden on the bed before covering
her body with his. His hot mouth smashed over hers, claiming and devouring her all at
once. Her body went up in flames from the moment he touched her, but she would not
allow him to take her body without so much as a hello.
She tore her mouth away from his. “Wait!”
Seeming not to hear her, Rohman buried his face against her neck, pressing a hot
trail of kisses from her jawbone to her throat. His hands roamed her body squeezing her
breasts in calloused palms, touching her all over. She wiggled and squirmed beneath
him, trying to free herself from him to no avail. He was much too strong for her.
Besides, the more she moved beneath him the more it seemed to turn him on.
“Stop!” she cried out, despite the fire building up inside of her. Taking drastic
measures, she opened her mouth over Rohman’s shoulder and bit him. Hard.
“Dem!” he yelled out in obvious pain. He raised his head up to look down at her.
“What is wrong with you, woman? Don’t you ever do that to me again!” he roared.
Taking advantage of his momentary distraction, she wiggled from under him
and scrambled to the other side of the bed. She got on her knees and placed her hands
on her hips, uncaring that she was naked. “And don’t you dare treat me as if I’m some
whore,” she said, not bothering to raise her voice, but managing to get her point across
just the same.
Silver eyes widened in apparent disbelief. His jaw dropped and it was obvious to
Eden that not many people, if any, talked to the king in this way. King or not, she was a
person with feelings and he would remember that the next time he touched her.
She had long since accepted that she would be his mate, but she’d be damned if
she allowed him to disrespect her like this.

“Who… do… you… think… you… are?” he demanded through clenched teeth.
He presented a very intimidating figure, larger than any man she’d ever seen,
but he didn’t scare her. “I think I’m someone who’s been insulted. Maybe you’re used
to treating other women like this, but you won’t do it to me.”
Rohman’s eyes narrowed before he reached over and grabbed a handful of her
braids, pulling her toward him. His grip was tight but not painful. He applied enough
pressure, however, to make her move closer to him. He wound her hair around his fist
forcing her closer still until their faces nearly touched. “I have claimed you, which
means you are mine, to do with what I want, how I want, and when I want. You will
obey me in all things!”
Was this joker kidding? Did the women in this world allow him to steamroll over
them this way? The show of aggression seemed misplaced for some reason, and she
couldn’t figure out why. Arguing with him would only raise his ire, but perhaps if she
tried reasoning, it might work.
“Is that how you want it to be between us? Do you want to use me like a piece of
property instead of your mate?” She touched his cheek and looked into his eyes.
Eden immediately pulled her hand away when he flinched. For that brief
moment, she’d felt a deep sadness within him. The odd thing was that she didn’t think
it was because of the illness that had struck his people. It was something entirely
different and though she didn’t know what it was, she intended to find out.
“You didn’t answer my question. Is that how you want things to be between us?
I would rather that we at least be friends if we’re to be bound together for the rest of our
lives.”
“I have no use for friends, and I have no use for you, beyond what you can do for
my people and perhaps to get an heir from you.”
Eden looked away from him, hurt by his words. This was the moment she’d
dreamed of all of her life -- her handsome king. He was just like she’d pictured him,
with his long mane of blond hair, piercing silver eyes, and such an arresting face that it
was difficult to look away from him, but he was different somehow.

When she first saw him at the ceremony, he wasn’t the smiling, warm-hearted
man she believed that he’d be. Instead there was a coldness about him that worried her.
She thought of Prince Aarik who seemed more gentle and sensitive. He was much more
like the man of her dreams. Could it be that she was with the wrong mate?
To her surprise the grip on her hair tightened. Rohman’s forehead touched hers
and Eden couldn’t figure out why anger now flashed in his eyes. “We have not even
joined yet, and already you are unfaithful to me in your thoughts? Is there no woman
who can be trusted?”
“What… what are you talking a-about?” she stammered, thinking that he would
end up pulling her hair from its roots if he yanked any harder.
“You’re thinking about my brother,” he accused through clenched teeth.
“So what if I was? You’re not exactly what I expected.”
“You don’t deny it?”
“Why should I? It’s the truth.” Eden shrugged.
“Either you’re very honest or very stupid. I think it’s the latter.”
“You’re not exactly a prize yourself. You may be a dream to look at, but you’re a
nightmare in reality. I don’t know who hurt you or what happened to make you treat
people like this, but you really need to get over yourself.”
“You’ll soon learn that my word is law around here. It’ll go much easier for you
if you do.”
Eden shut her eyes against his anger. “Who hurt you, Rohman?” she asked
softly.
Her question seemed to take him by surprise. “What are you talking about,
woman?”
“Why do you hurt? There’s no reason to lie to me. I felt it.”
“I don’t want to discuss this. You talk too much. The only thing I need from you
is to lie back on the bed and be silent while I plant my seed within you.”
She’d failed.

Rohman wouldn’t open up to her on so short an acquaintance, but she had to
know why there was so much aggression hiding so much pain. “Is that what you really
want, for me to lie down and let you have your way with me?”
“Isn’t that what I said? I’m not in the habit of repeating myself.”
She clenched and unclenched her fists, trying to stop herself from punching him
in his perfect face. Violence wasn’t the answer. Eden sighed, eyes downcast, not to
show her obedience, but to hide her upset. She wouldn’t let him know that he’d gotten
to her. “Fine. Please let go of my hair and I’ll do as you ask.”
He lifted one dark blond brow, a humorless smile touching his lips. “I’m glad
that you finally see things my way.” Rohman’s eyes searched her face, and she
wondered what he saw. Eden had been told she was pretty, but did he think so? During
the ceremony, she was sure that there was some connection between them, before he
turned alpha on her.
This wasn’t the way she wanted things to begin with them, but if she was to
learn anything about him, she’d have to win his trust. Besides, despite his
thickheadedness, she found that this proximity was wreaking havoc with her
equilibrium.
She made a move to break free of his grasp, but he held her firm. “No, wait. I
want to taste you again. Open your mouth to me.”
This time Eden didn’t think to disobey the soft command. Her lips parted to
accept the thrust of his questing tongue. Rohman’s kiss was hot, hungry, and searching.
She didn’t want to respond to him when only moments before he had pissed her
off, but her traitorous body didn’t care. Her nipples tightened into hard sensitive peaks.
Rohman tilted her head back to deepen the kiss. It was like an awakening of her
soul. A shiver of delight raced through her body, making her want him more than she’d
ever wanted any other man. To her chagrin, she found herself not only wanting his kiss
but his hands all over her body -- her breasts, ass, and pussy.

Moisture gathered at the juncture of her thighs and she pressed them together to
temper the heat between them. Hot. Her body was so hot she could barely stand it, and
this was just from one simple kiss.
Rohman lifted his head to look at her. “You taste good, woman. I wonder how
one so small can make my cock so demmed hard,” he said more to himself than to her.
He pushed her back on the bed and when she thought he would fall on top of
her, he didn’t. Instead, he straddled her body, his eyes looking her over. Feeling selfconscious all of a sudden, she attempted to cover her breasts with her arms, but his eyes
began to glow and her arms felt pinned to her sides.
Eden tried to move but she couldn’t. He was holding her down telepathically.
“Let me go.” She fought against the invisible force of his gaze.
“You will not hide from me what is mine. I wish to see all of you.”
Rohman palmed her breasts, rubbing his thumbs over her nipples. “Beautiful.
They are large and nearly fill my hand. They will suckle my heirs, but now they will
suckle me.” He bent down to take one pointed nipple into his mouth.
She didn’t want to respond to his touch, but she couldn’t help it. It felt so good,
and her body was on fire. His teeth grazed and nibbled the taut peak, taking her body
through a wave of passion.
Eden didn’t really know how to handle these new experiences she was feeling.
Having only been with one other guy, she didn’t have a lot of comparison in the
lovemaking department. Her first experience had been hurried and not much to write
home about. It hadn’t prepared her for this feeling of utter bliss.
The delicious sensation of his hot mouth on her sensitive mound made her body
shake. Rohman transferred his attention to her other breast, licking and whirling his
tongue around it much like he had with the other one.
“Let me touch you,” she moaned, wanting to run her fingers over the hard
planes of his body.
He released his hold of her. Eden’s fingers glided along the hard ridges of his
shoulders and then touched his wings, trailing along the soft black feathers. She ran her

hands over the contours of his muscles, loving the way his hard body felt beneath her
fingertips and palms.
Rohman released her nipple from his mouth with a resounding pop before
looking into her eyes again. “You’re so exquisite. So small, but so perfect.” He touched
her face with such reverence that her heart flipped.
He seemed like a totally different man from the one who’d arrogantly told her
that she belonged to him. Once again she felt that connection with him that she’d
experienced in the hall.
He kissed her between the valley of her breasts and then on her neck, licking,
and sampling her skin. His tender ministrations made it hard to believe that he’d been
such a brute earlier.
Rohman hunched his shoulders and to her amazement his wings retracted into
his back. “Why did you do that?” she couldn’t help asking.
“So that I can do this.” He rolled onto his back, pulling her on top of him. He
settled her so that she now straddled his hips. “You are so little, I didn’t wish to crush
you.”
Eden felt shy all of a sudden. Her face grew warm, and she was thankful that her
dark skin would hide her blush. His show of tenderness touched her. Now he reminded
her of her dream man. “I won’t break so easily, you know.”
“Perhaps not, but surely you can see how much larger I am than you.”
Her lips twisted in slight annoyance. Just a half inch shy of five feet, her height
had always been a bone of contention. It wasn’t easy being a sixth grade teacher when
she wasn’t much taller than her students. “I’m not fragile, you know.”
“Hmm, you look fragile.”
“I’m much stronger than I look.”
“Is that so? You’re not much bigger than my cock. Do you think you’ll be able to
handle me?”
“I’ll give it a good shot.” She smiled at him, and for the first time since their
acquaintance he smiled back. Yes, they were going to make it.

***
A malevolent pair of eyes watched them from the cracked open door of the
bedroom closet. Ani watched the king and the little woman called Eden interact. She
didn’t like the way he smiled at the dark-skinned intruder. His rare smiles were
reserved for her and her alone!
As a slave, Ani knew she had no hope to participate in the Feast of the Flesh,
otherwise, there’d be no doubt in her mind that King Rohman would choose her as his
mate.
Hadn’t he told her many times that he enjoyed what she did to him in bed?
Wasn’t she the one to bring him to a delicious completion night after pleasurable night?
She’d worked hard to bring herself to his attention, ridding herself of the competition
when other pretty wenches cast their eyes in his direction.
The king belonged to her!
Who did this woman think she was to replace her? No woman would take her
place, not even the king’s chosen mate. Ani would fix that little whore, and then she’d
be the only woman to warm his bed.

Chapter Seven
Aarik led Hope down a long corridor. If what she said was true then she might
be able to help. “Where are we going?” Hope asked again.
“We will be there shortly.”
She wrenched her arm out of his grasp. “That doesn’t answer my question.
Where are we going, because I’m not taking another step until you tell me.” She crossed
her arms across her chest. His eyes drifted appreciatively over her body now garbed in
a blue ilsa gown that hugged her every curve.
His cock grew hard just looking at her. Once they finished with this business he
planned on reacquainting himself with her gorgeous body. “You do know that I could
pick you up and you wouldn’t have a choice.”
Her blue eyes sparkled with defiance. “Yes, I’m aware that you’re physically
stronger than me, but I know you won’t,” she challenged.
“Oh? You think not?”
“I know so.”
“And how can you be so sure?”
“Because if you were going to do it you would have done it already. Now stop
being so secretive and tell me where you’re taking me.” She tapped her foot
impatiently. She was much more strong willed than he originally thought, but he liked
her spirit.
Aarik knew he’d have to tell her or start an argument. “I need to take you to one
of the guards. He’s quarantined in the back of the palace.”
Hope’s hand flew to her mouth, her eyes widening. “Does he have the illness?”
“Yes.”

“But, Aarik. I don’t know if there’s anything I can do for him. For all I know, the
thing that I did with my mother could have all just been inside her head. This is the real
thing.”
“I know. But we’ve already failed if we don’t at least try. Will you do this for me?
He’s in a great deal of pain.”
She looked as if she was giving it some consideration before nodding. “I’ll do it.”
“Thank you. This means a lot to me.” He bent over to press a light kiss against
the side of her mouth. His cock stirred. At the merest of touches this woman had the
power to drive him out of his mind. When he would have pulled away, Hope twined
her arms around his neck and ran the tip of her tongue over his lips.
Aarik’s arms wrapped around her waist, lifting her off the floor. He ground his
cock into the juncture of her thighs. She cupped his face, her tongue pushing past his
teeth, swirling and circling his.
He could feel the tips of her breasts against his chest. Aarik wanted to throw her
on the floor and suck on them. His hand slid down her back to palm her round supple
backside. Later, he wanted to put her on all fours and take her from behind. A rump
such as this one was made especially for riding.
“Greetings, your highness, my lady,” a guard said, walking down the opulent
halls and nodding respectfully toward them before moving on.
Hope’s face turned a bright red, as she buried her face in his chest. “Oh my
goodness, put me down,” she whispered.
“I’m sorry, jihar, but when you touch me like that, I can’t help myself. Let’s go.
We shouldn’t have tarried.”
He placed her back on her feet and took her hand, leading her through the palace
until they reached a room at the end of the hallway. Aarik turned to her, placing his
hands on her shoulders. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes. I would like to help.”
“Okay. This won’t be a pretty sight,” he warned.
“It’s okay. I wasn’t expecting one.”

Taking a deep breath, Aarik opened the door and walked inside the dark room
expecting Hope to follow him.
“Why are there no lights in here?”
“It hurts his eyes. I will light some candles so that you can see,” he whispered
back, not wanting to make too much noise, knowing that it pained Silvius’s head.
Once Aarik’s eyes adjusted to the darkness he was able to make out the candles
along the sides of the walls. He concentrated on the thought of fire until the candles lit.
A loud groan filled the room. “The light, please, your highness, I can’t take the
light.”
Aarik walked over to the narrow bed, kneeling down beside it. The room’s
occupant lay very still, his eyes filled with pain. Beads of sweat covered Silvius’s face.
He was even worse than the prince remembered. Only yesterday there was at least
some color in the soldier’s face, but now he was deathly pale. His once full face was
now gaunt and almost lifeless.
Silvius Rogxian, a member of the Ceyan Royal Guard, had fallen ill only days
before. The most distressing part of his illness was that it seemed to be progressing
faster than it had with the others who’d fallen victim to it.
Hope looked at the dying man with horrified eyes. She walked over to the other
side of the bed and to Aarik’s surprise she took Silvius’s hand in hers. “Tell me where it
hurts.”
“Everywhere,” the man croaked.
Hope placed her free hand over Silvius’s chest and closed her eyes. Aarik held
his breath anxiously waiting for something to happen, and when nothing did he closed
his eyes in defeat.
Dem.
He’d been so sure that Hope would be able to help. A cry ripped from Silvius’s
throat and Aarik’s eyes flew open. To his amazement, Hope’s hands began to glow, the
light growing brighter with each passing second.

Hope slipped her hand from the guard’s and placed it on his chest to join the
other one. Aarik’s heart soared as he watched a miracle happening. The color in the sick
man’s face returned and his breathing became easier. Hope’s eyes were tightly shut and
her body began to shake.
Suddenly she began to chant unintelligible words and then her eyes flew open
only revealing the whites. Aarik didn’t know whether to let her continue or to stop her,
especially when her words grew louder and her body shook uncontrollably. When her
head began to roll from side to side, he jumped to his feet.
This had to stop! As much as he wanted to save Silvius, Aarik didn’t think he
could let it happen at Hope’s expense. He rushed to her side and pulled her away.
The nonsensical flow of words didn’t stop and her eyeballs were still white. He
shook her to break her out of the trance she seemed to be in. “Hope. Wake up! Hope!”
He shook her harder, and then she passed out.

***
Hope woke up in a comfortable bed, surrounded by colorful plush pillows. Her
eyes swept open to see Aarik leaning over her with a worried look in his eyes.
“Hope, say something. How do you feel?”
She shook her head, to clear it of the haziness clouding her mind. “I… I think I’m
okay. What happened? I remember touching that man and now I’m here.”
“I’m not really sure how to explain what happened myself, but whatever you
did, Silvius is much better than he was before. The color returned to his face, and he
was able to sit up. I believe you were able to take away his pain, just as I thought you
could.”
Hope tried to reconcile what this meant. Before the incident with Silvius, she
could argue the strange thing she could do to her mother was nothing special, but now
there was no denying what had been said all along.
There was something special about her.

How else could she explain the strange phenomena? When she laid her hands
against the guard’s chest, her body vibrated from within, and what felt like an electric
current flowed through her body. Then everything went black.
“Is he cured?” she asked.
“I didn’t stick around long enough to find out, because you were my first
concern, but as I carried you out of that room, he seemed much better. Thank the stars
that you’re okay. You frightened me when you fainted.”
“What happened to me exactly?”
“You were shaking and your eyes turned white. I don’t know if I can let you go
through that again.”
“No. I have to.”
“Not if this is going to end up hurting you.”
“But isn’t this why I was brought to your world? To help? If I can’t do that then
what reason do I have to be here?”
He pulled her against his body and buried his face in her hair. “You would be
here for me, to rule by my side, to be my lover, the mother of my children. I know we
have only been together for a short time, but I can’t lose you now that I’ve found you.
You mean too much to me.”
Her heart swelled with love. Love? Was it really possible to love someone
instantly? She thought about the people in her life who were supposed to love her, like
her mother, father, and brothers. She’d never felt such warmth emanate from any of
them the way it did from this man.
Whenever she was in Aarik’s arms, she felt safe, warm, and special… like she
was home. Whenever their eyes met or they touched, not only did he stimulate her
body, but her mind and heart as well. If this wasn’t love, she didn’t know what was.
“It means a lot to me that you want to keep me safe. But seeing that man lying in
pain, with the knowledge that he would soon die without help… I can’t turn away from
that. This is my destiny.”
“Your destiny now lies with me.”

“You’re talking nonsense. If I can’t help your people, do you just expect them to
die? As your mate, they are my people now too. I can’t walk away from what I saw. It’s
almost like… when I touched him I realized my true calling.”
“But --”
Hope covered his lips with her index finger, silencing him. She shook her head.
“No. This is something I must do. For the first time in my life, I feel like I can truly do
some good.”
“You’ve already done well in your life. You took care of your selfish family. I
think you’ve sacrificed enough,” he finished stubbornly. The firm set of his mouth told
her that it would take some convincing for him to see things her way.
“Yes, I’ve helped people before, but not like this, and now it wouldn’t be for
selfish reasons.”
“Selfish? How could doing for others be selfish?”
“I didn’t do those things for people because I particularly wanted to. I did it to
win their approval. I thought if I continued to do my family’s bidding, they’d love me
like they were supposed to, but they never did. After a while doing for them just
became a habit. About a month ago, I hit the lowest low. I was depressed, and I didn’t
really want to live. I had no true purpose in my life. I thought the answers to my
problems would be a singles retreat in the Catskills, although to be perfectly honest, I
wasn’t exactly sure if a man was what I needed.” She paused to catch her breath. It was
almost painful remembering the past few months up until this point, finally coming to
the realization that she wasn’t really wanted anywhere, that no one valued her as a
person, because they saw her as someone to be manipulated and used.
Aarik cocked his head to the side. “I’m sorry to hear that, but I don’t understand
what this has to do with anything.”
“Please let me finish. I’m probably not making much sense right now, but bear
with me.” She sighed. “Now where was I? Oh yes, I was going to a retreat, but then I
had the oddest compulsion to drive and keep driving until I ended up in some
backwoods town. That’s when I ran into your brothers. Imagine how scared I was,

captured by two hulking strangers who didn’t speak a lick of English, and then thrown
into a stinky old cabin not knowing if I would live to see the next day. I think I must
have cried for three days straight, but it wasn’t just from the kidnapping, it was
everything. I cried for everything that was wrong in my life.”
Aarik stroked a stray strand of hair from her eyes, and looked at her with
sympathy. The lines around his mouth had relaxed, but he didn’t speak.
“I think those were some of the darkest hours in my life, but when I was brought
here and it was explained to me what was expected, I was scared. I thought they had
the wrong person because it all just seemed so overwhelming. Me? Hope Phillips from
a race of healers? You had to be kidding, right? But when I woke up in this strange
place I felt that I belonged. I denied it earlier when I spoke with Eden, but the only
person I was lying to was myself.”
“I’m beginning to understand.”
“Do you really?”
“I think so.”
“So you should know how I felt when I touched that guard. My true destiny was
awakened and I’m not going to turn my back on it. I love you, but not even you will
keep me from it,” she said with a determination that surprised even her.
He gasped. “You love me?”
Did she just say that? “Yes, I suppose I do.”
“You are my true heartmate, because I feel the same as you.” And with that he
lowered his head to hers.

Chapter Eight
Aarik’s lips were hard, warm, and demanding. Hope twined her fingers through
silky strands of blond hair, holding his head close, reveling in the wonder of her lover’s
kiss. His mouth on her felt so good -- so right.
Her tongue snaked out to meet his and they danced together in a circular motion,
teasing and tasting each other. The unique smell of his masculine scent filled her
nostrils, intoxicating her senses. Every time he kissed her it felt like the first time and
she couldn’t get enough of it.
Hope didn’t want this moment to ever end. The wave of passion coursing
through her body filled her with wild sexual abandon. Boldly, she took charge of the
kiss, tightening her fingers in his hair and letting her tongue explore the deep recesses
of his mouth, leaving no inch unexplored.
When she finally lifted her head to look into his beautiful silver eyes, she ran her
tongue over her lips savoring his flavor. “You taste delicious.”
Aarik’s eyes twinkled with amusement. “If I taste anything like you, I’m sure I
do.”
Hope couldn’t believe she was here with this gorgeous man, and he belonged to
her! Her heart threatened to overflow with the love she felt for him. She’d learned to
live without this emotion for thirty-five years, believing it wasn’t for people like her.
The newness of her feelings brought tears to her eyes.
Aarik looked alarmed, noticing the moisture in her eyes. “What’s wrong, jihar?
Why do you cry?”
“Because you make me very happy.”
“Your happiness is my number one priority.”
“Just as yours is to me.” Hope pressed a kiss against his forehead.

She allowed him to push her onto the bed and shivered as his fingers undid the
ties of her gown. When she was naked to his gaze, Aarik cupped her breasts in his
hands, his thumbs lightly grazing her nipples.
“Mmm, that feels so good,” she moaned with delight.
“It feels good to touch you like this. Your beautiful pink-tipped breasts, so large
and perfect, filling my hands just right,” he sighed, giving them a squeeze.
She arched her back wanting more than just his hands on her. Hope wanted
Aarik to take the hardened peaks into his mouth.
“As you wish, my lady.” He settled himself between her parted thighs and
brought one aching peak to his lips, kissing it before laving it with his tongue.
“Oh, Aarik. We’re going to have to talk about this mind reading habit of yours,”
she sighed, a sizzling