Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Paranormal, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Romance
She sighed and drummed her fingers on the table, pushing her meal away. "So, I am to have no privacy?"
"Your thoughts are your own. Your moods sing along the frequency though."
"Are you sure?"
A light colouration of dark bronze skimmed under his tanned skin. "Well, as we engage in courtship, our connection will deepen."
"What does courtship entail?"
"Gifts, seduction and eventually, acceptance of the home provided for you." He ticked the points off on his fingers as if seduction was part of all lists he made.
He must be hell on wheels in the grocery store.
She stifled her amusement, but his head came up swiftly as he tried to determine what had made her laugh. She returned to her food and cleared her plate before sitting back.
"So, the Evian destroyed the home you originally had planned?"
His lips turned down in a scowl. "Yes. It was a structure built of gemstones. Apparently, it was too attractive a deposit for the Evian to pass up and since they came upon it via an underground tunnel system, until Arcros saw the stones, he had no idea what was going on."
"Ah, yes. Getty mentioned something to that effect."
"Yes, to say that I was rather upset was an understatement. It was all the avatar could do to keep me sleeping and promise me that she would put all of her effort into finding my mate. I knew that you were off your home world but was not in a position to seek you out."
She fought the blush that rose in her cheeks at his frank gaze. "I am guessing you are a hard fellow to wake in the morning."
He chuckled. "Only when I have been sleeping for centuries. Normally, I have a fairly alert demeanour."
"I am glad to hear it. Do you have any questions for me?" She sipped at her tea and arched an eyebrow.
"Yes, I have many questions, but they can wait until we begin our courtship. Would you care to dance?"
Her lips twitched. "Wouldn't that constitute beginning a courtship?"
He stood and held his hand out to her. "I won't tell if you don't."
She smiled and took his lead, joining the dancers on the floor. Nya tried to hide her blush at the feel of his hand against her back, covering her from the base of her spine to the centre of her back.
As he moved, he held her to an appropriate distance and shifted around the dance floor. She would have thought that his wings would have made him a little awkward in close quarters, but he had complete control over his personal space and hers as well.
The music was classic Evian, harmonious and rhythmic. All of the musicians were in fine form for this great event.
Together, Nya and Hyfor moved from song to song, shifting and twirling with a synchronicity that astonished her. She had never danced this gracefully with anyone in her life. It was as if they were meant to be.
Wide-eyed, Nya ruthlessly squashed that thought. She may be
match, but it would take some time before he proved that he was hers.
"I think I need to sit the next one out." She whispered it to his collarbone, the closest thing to his head that she could reach.
"Of course." He completed the turn that they were on and escorted her back to their table. She was barely seated when he returned with glasses of water, one of which he pressed into her hand.
She sipped at the water and watched the whirling dancers as the Evian entered and left the dance floor. They were truly a lovely species, but as she watched them, the music that she heard transformed to a more powerful tone and it was echoing in her mind.
"Stop that, Hyfor."
His voice rolled over her. "Stop what?"
"Singing in my mind."
He chuckled and she deliberately did not turn to look at him. "Get used to it, courtship has begun."
She sighed and turned to glare at him. "Couldn't you have given me a ten count or something?"
"I prefer to catch my prey by surprise." He lifted one of her hands to his lips and feathered another kiss across it.
"I am prey, am I?"
"You are my beloved mate-to-be and I am going to do whatever it takes to bring you over to my way of thinking. I never actually thought that the seers were correct. To know that you are here, living and breathing in front of me is almost beyond believing."
The wonder in his voice was not feigned. He truly was looking at her as if he was not sure she was real.
"So, you and other Draikyn left your home to sleep on other worlds until a woman who matched you happened to fly past? Isn't that badly thought out as a dating scheme?"
He grinned but kept her hand firmly in his. "It is not the easiest set of traditions to follow through with, but we do what we can. And from what I have been told, at least three of the other Sleepers have met their matches. With me meeting you, that brings it to four woken, four matched. It may not be well thought out, but it is working."
She made a face and laughed at her own reaction. "One of those women had Terran genes in her from an ancestor and the other two were in the same Volunteer batch as I am. I looked it up."
"Then you are already aware of the possibilities of a relationship with our two species."
She grumbled. "Yes, but I was not aware that my body had already been tweaked to those specifications."
"For that, I am sorry. Arcros may have been a little too eager to bring my mate to me."
She barked a laugh. "He had to if he wanted to keep the Evian settlement intact."
A blushed darkened Hyfor's cheeks. "Ah, yes, I was rather upset when I found out that the home that took me fifty years to build had been torn apart to make jewellery. Can you blame me?"
She laughed again. "Not at all. It makes perfect sense to me. So, that just leaves one question, what are you going to do about a home now?"
"Arcros began the foundation for my home and I have been calling crystals into place for the last few months. The home should be ready for viewing within the month."
"Yes, we will have a more accelerated courtship than I had hoped, but to be frank, I have been without female companionship for a very, very long time."
Giggles won her over and she pressed her head to the table in an effort to hide her mirth.
It took her five minutes, but she managed to raise her head and smile weakly at him. "Good to know. I won't say that I am in a similar situation, but it has been a while for me, too."
He looked a little taken aback. "You are not a virgin?"
"No, you are a decade late on that one. Plenty of rolling around in haystacks where I came from." She sipped at her water and watched his reaction. He was processing it fairly rapidly.
She shot back at him, "Are you a virgin?"
He looked insulted. "Of course not."
"Then why should I be? For many women, it was a rite of passage to select our first male. I won't say that we always chose correctly, but we had the right to choose."
When he had finished digesting that, he nodded. "You are correct. You are from a different species and it was to be expected that you would have different social traditions."
That was the nicest way he could put it and she smiled and patted his hand. "You will accept it or you won't, but either way, it is the truth."
He paused and then a grin spread over his features. "I suppose I can accelerate the seduction side of the courtship then."
She groaned and gasped as his mouth pressed to hers in a kiss that knocked her out of her chair and into his arms.
Nya tried to hold still, but her instincts had her clutching at his shoulders for support. After a few minutes of getting comfortable on his lap, she relaxed into the coaxing pressure on his lips. The room full of watchers faded as his mouth convinced her lips to part. The first teasing forays of his tongue made her shiver and it was the nervous clearing of a throat that broke their connection.
Blinking frantically to clear her hazed vision, she turned her head to see the elders of both the Ordu and Zenki families.
They ignored her and addressed Hyfor. "Sir, is the avatar correct in that you are Hyfor, the Monolith?"
He sighed and pressed his forehead against Nya's hair for a moment before sitting up and addressing them. "Yes, I am indeed Hyfor, the Sleeper."
They nodded at his correction and immediately peppered him with a cacophony of questions about geological stability and gem concentrations in the region. Nya pried her way out of his embrace and smiled, "I will see you another time. Enjoy your conversation, Hyfor."
Her tone had softened on his name and his pupils flared as his pointed ears twitched in reaction to her voice. The imperceptible inclination of his head was a dismissal and without a look back, she left.
Nya made her way to the happy couple and she bowed low, wishing them the happiest of lives.
"Mediator, are you really the mate of the Monolith?" Viisha's whisper carried to the rest of the folk nearby and Nya was aware of the attention.
"So I am informed."
Yargo suddenly seemed much more pleased by his choice of official. "He was an amazing consultant for our people years ago. Is it true that his body is made of gem stones?"
Blushing, her mind played back the very warm, very firm flesh she had been pressed against. "Not in this form."
"Will he be taking his other form tonight?" Viisha was excited by the thought.
"I have no idea. Blessings to you upon this day." She reached into the pocket inside her jewelled belt and gave them the gift of uncut gems that she had selected the moment that she had been invited as official.
With her duty done for the evening, Nya made her way to the exit. When she glanced at him, Hyfor was still engrossed in conversation with the elders, so she felt it was the ideal time to make a run for it.
She didn't run, but she found herself trying to conceal her agitation as she worked through the crowd, slipped out of the celebration and into the night.
The cool air was refreshing, it woke her up the little bit she needed to identify and pursue the path home. With a lighter heart and a mind full of memories of the feel of Hyfor's touch, she made her way down the paved pathway that would take her home in about an hour.
Her boots were silent on the stones as she debated the pros and cons of taking the possibility of a Draikyn as a lover. He was certainly keen on her, which was a plus. He wasn't handsome, but she couldn't look away from his riveting features. That was a plus. He was demanding. That was a con. He wasn't going to give up on his idea of her being his mate without a fight and she had no idea if that was good or not.
The rush of air next to her was the only warning that she had that she was no longer alone.
"You left without saying goodbye." His voice held a warning that didn't faze her. He was more perturbed than angry.
"You were occupied with the elders. I didn't want to disturb you."
He wrapped an arm around her waist and fell into step with her. "Liar."
"Deal with it. I just wanted to go for a walk and get away from all those staring eyes."
"And you had fun sneaking out. I felt it quite clearly."
She snorted and he looked at her in surprise.
"I have to say that I have never heard a woman make that noise before."
She laughed, her voice startling a number of small animals in the bushes nearby. "I have an entire repertoire of weird noises at my disposal. If you are truly insistent in pursuing me, you had best get used to them."
His grin showed disturbingly sharp teeth reflecting the light of one of Arcros's eight moons. "I am sure that I will be able to adapt. I am willing to do an in-depth study of the Terran female at any time you are willing to instruct me."
She let out a gusty sigh and he laughed.
"I might give you a little information on Terrans, but you are going to have to do the mass of research on your own. Apparently, my race is the newest collectible in the Alliance and in other reaches, including the Nyal Imperium." She didn't add that the Nyal occasionally tried to enslave her people. It went without saying.
Slavery and a refusal to relinquish the tradition is what kept the Nyal and their affiliate races from entering the Alliance. Terrans were not fond of being slaves, so it took quite a bit of negotiation to get them into Nyal space. Antonya was the perfect example of that process. She never would have thought that Nyal space would be for her, but Arcros had called and the Alliance had negotiated an agreement to get her in place.
Nya frowned as she realized that they had known about the Draikyn under the surface of the planet before she had been shipped off and they hadn't mentioned a damned thing.
"Why are you irritated?"
"The negotiator who orchestrated my contract here knew about you and didn't mention anything to me. I found out less than a week ago. It is a little much to take in."
His arm around her waist tightened. "I will give you whatever you need to help you adapt to the change in your circumstance."
She stopped in her tracks and he stopped with her. "Don't give me anything. I earn what I get and I will fight for whatever I get. You were cranky enough about the lost home site to threaten a settlement. I am fairly sure that I don't want to involve you in my struggle for emotional equilibrium."
He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "If there is anything I can do, tell me."
She relaxed a little, her feisty mood subsiding at the warm touch. "I will, but give me time. From what I understand, Draikyn live a very, very long time. You don't need to hurry."
He resumed walking, his wing flaring out to block the wind from blowing her hair into her eyes. The small protective gesture cracked her reflexive hostility. He was going to wear her down and it wasn't going to take long at all.
They walked in silence for half a mile before he asked, "How long does your species normally live?"
"A female will live ninety years or so. Some more, some less. I am guessing that my alterations have extended my lifespan somewhat."
He inclined his head. "It is likely. When we bond completely, that will sync your lifespan to mine. It will extend it even more."