Read Jury Online

Authors: Viola Grace

Tags: #science fiction opera, #erotic Romance

Jury (5 page)

“Enjoy the party. I hope to speak to you later, Trainer.”

“I would be delighted, Governor.”

Ajaru kept her with him until they were inside the party. A crowd of fans separated him from her, and she moved across the room to get a glass of juice or water. Juice seemed the better option, and she found a good piece of wall to hold up and watched the crowd mill and part around the champions and grand champion.

To her surprise, she was dressed like a noble woman. Several of the women there were wearing less than she was.

A young woman came up to her and sipped at a highly alcoholic beverage. “So, who are you here with?”

The woman was wearing a gauzy fabric that was nearly see-through and not much more. It must have been cold for her because her nipples prodded aggressively at the fabric.

“I am here with one of the champions.”

“Oh, which one?”

“Ajaru.”

“Oh, he’s a fun one. I came with him to one of these parties. The two hours in the pool out back were amazing. Have you fucked him before?”

Bex tried not to laugh. “I have been on top of him a few times, making him groan like there was no tomorrow.”

“Wow, he let you get on top?”

Ajaru glided up to them, and he must have seen her expression. “Trainer Bex, this is Companion Leea.”

The companion gasped and covered her mouth. “Trainer. I am so sorry.”

“It is fine, Leea. I am sure that Ajaru has plenty of stamina. I am merely interested in his staying power in the arena. I will leave the other assessments to women such as yourself.”

Ajaru coloured. “I believe that I have a few folks who wish to meet you, Bex.”

Her next half hour was spent meeting Ajaru’s patrons and others who contributed to his hefty win fees.

When Regaran arrived, he came straight toward her and he bowed, taking her hand in his, pressing a kiss to her inner wrist that was far more exploratory.

If she had been her normal self, the dark elf tonguing her inner wrist would have made her wet. As it was, she was wistful for the good old day.

“Regaran, would you not lick my trainer?” Ajaru glared at him.

The grand champion rose to his full height and he smiled. “She was more than worth your ire. My folk and hers have a long history. We get along very well indeed.”

She smirked, “Not now, Regaran. While I am a trainer, I am impervious to your charms, though I can acknowledge them as considerable.”

“Thank you, Trainer Bex. It is an honour to be admired by such a capable woman. Your record in the female fighter ranks in unparalleled. All the current champions speak well of your training techniques. I wish that I had had a trainer like you at my side when I was learning my craft.”

There was a crowd around them, but Ajaru and Regaran acted as if they were alone.

Ajaru narrowed his eyes. “Don’t tell me that you covet my trainer.”

“Not as a trainer, no. I am in the market for a mate, and despite her current alterations, I am sure that when they wear off, we could make quite a pair.”

She looked over his lithe body and imagined him as a graceful lover with hours of stamina. Her body heated slightly, which surprised her. It was the first action she had in a week.

Ajaru snarled suddenly, moving closer to her.

She winced; if her body was heating, he could smell it.

“You will have to look for a mate elsewhere, Regaran. I need my trainer to kick your ass. She has a way of looking at the other fighters and figuring out their weaknesses. She was able to spot yours right off.”

Bex was shocked but didn’t say what she was thinking.
I did?

It was easy for her. She just would tell Ajaru not to make eye contact for more than a second. Regaran led with his hips and shoulders. If you watched the trunk of his body, it said far more than his head.

Music began in an adjoining room. Regaran smiled, “May I have this dance?”

She couldn’t have said no once she thought about it. He was very good on his feet.

“One dance, Regaran. Just enough to blow the brains of the news media.”

He grinned, “Deal.”

She placed her hand lightly on his arm, and he led her into the ballroom.

The dances were nice and formal. The only part of him she ever touched was his hands.

“How are you enjoying life in the male side of the arena?”

She glided to him during the dance. “It is a job.”

“If you were to accept my offer to mate, what would you like to do with your spare time?”

“I am not accepting. I have no idea what I would do. I would probably spend more time doing something else. There are all sorts of long-distance methods for working for the Nyal Imperium.”

They parted and marched formally for a few steps before joining again.

“You know your species and mine are destined to be together.”

She nodded, “I also know that we now own Admar. Your folk tried to wipe us out. It does make for a strained relationship.”

“Ah, but we have a long history of being lovers to women of your people.”

“Yes, men as well.”

“Not my particular field of interest.” His red eyes glowed as they matched palm to palm and slowly circled each other. “Why did they dye you blue?”

She grimaced. “I have always been this colour, can’t you tell?”

“You have not. I have seen your personnel file. Your skin is the colour of cream and the first blush of dawn.” His voice thrummed along her nerve endings.

She should have fallen all over him, but thankfully, that was one part of her alteration still intact. He was using audio seduction on her, as well as a psychic touch.

“You are peculiar, Trainer Bex. Normally, you should have been gripping me to find a private corner by now.”

She smiled brightly. “Should I? You didn’t read far enough into my personnel file.”

They pivoted on their heels and raised their other hands to pace around the opposite direction. The moment the dance was over, she let him escort her to the edge of the floor, inclined her head and made her escape into the entry hall.

Women and patrons surrounded Ajaru, so Bex got another cup of juice and concealed herself against a pale blue tapestry on the wall. The camouflage worked for twenty minutes before one of the other fighters sidled up beside her.

“Well, Trainer Bex, it seems you have brought Ajaru’s career back from the dead.”

She sipped at her juice and watched the milling crowd. “Apparently.” Bex jerked as the male trailed his fingers up her bare arm.

“I wonder what you could do for me?”

She turned toward him and did a quick analysis of his last two fights. Not all trainers were as diligent as she was. She stiffened her fingers and quickly jabbed him in the ribs and the left arm. He howled and went down.

Ajaru was at her side in an instant. “What happened?”

“Nothing. He was touching me, so I touched him.”

The fighter was writhing on the ground, and Regaran was suddenly at her right side.

“I just proved a training technique that I enjoy. It is called healing your fighter properly before sending him out to make an annoyance out of himself.” She rubbed at her fingertips and massaged the nailbeds. She had had to use a lot of strength to jab at him.

One of the arena guards walked up and hauled the fighter to his feet. The guard looked to Bex, “Please make Yarnu’s apologies to the governor.”

She inclined her head. “Of course. Thank you.”

He nodded and hauled the fighter toward the back entrance through the curious crowd.

Once he was clear, Bex looked around and found the governor. She straightened her shoulders and headed for their host.

She waited until he nodded to her. “Yes, Trainer Bex?”

“I am afraid that Yarnu had to leave the party unexpectedly.”

The governor’s lips were twitching. “Why?”

She curled her hands into fists. “He had a wound or two reopen.”

“Did they have help?”

“Perhaps. It all happened so fast that I was surprised as anyone when he was on the floor.” Not true, but a nice social lie.

The governor looked behind her and smiled. “It seems that you have two champions. Which of them assisted Yarnu with his exit?”

Ajaru stepped to her side. “Neither of us was there for the event. We arrived in time to prevent Yarnu from a counterattack. Nothing more.”

The governor gave her a long look. “Why were you never in the arena yourself, Trainer Bex?”

“Oh, I was, Governor. It was of short duration. I made my way up the champion ranks, but I could never manage a good show.”

“How long did it take you to get through the ranks?”

“Three days from the time I first set foot in the arena. I dethroned the grand champion in under a minute and the crowd expressed its displeasure. I was busted down to trainer and sent here.” She shrugged.

Ajaru whispered, “I didn’t know that.”

“You never asked.” She smiled brightly. “Governor, you must be wanting to get back to your guests.”

“Well, frankly, I am wondering which of the men next to you you will choose? They are both worthy specimens, but Regaran is a grand champion after all.”

“Neither, sir. My systems have been shut down when it comes to that sort of thing.” She was blunt. It seemed that the governor appreciated that sort of thing.

He threw back his head and laughed, his open mouth exposing the three rows of teeth common to his people. When he sobered, he said, “So, when Yarnu touched you…”

She finished his thought. “I only have combat reflexes left, sir.”

“Excellent. You and your two champions will have to sit next to me at dinner.”

Bex had nothing else to say. A select group of guests were escorted into a dining room, and she was, indeed, seated next to the governor.

There were thirty people in the room, all conversing quietly.

The governor asked her, “What species are you? I am afraid that I have not read your stats sheet yet.”

Bex wrinkled her nose as Regaran perked up across from her to hear what she said.

“I am a Terran. Species, human. There aren’t a lot of us out here yet, but I hear a second wave is in the works.”

“How many of your people are in the imperium?”

She blinked and did a mental count. “A hundred or less. Most of my people found placements in the Alliance. Few of us were deemed suitable for the imperium.”

“Ah, so you are an exotic.”

She grimaced, “Not on my home world.”

“Are all your people this fetching blue?”

She spluttered as she drank some wine. “Apologies. No, we are shades from cream to a midnight even darker than Regaran’s colouration.”

“His species has a history with yours, does it not?”

It seemed the governor was enjoying himself. He asked her questions while he ate small bites of his meal, grinding his food into nothing.

“He would know better than I, Governor.”

Regaran swallowed quickly and smiled. “Indeed. My people built a gateway to her world, began a colonization process, and when it was discovered we could interbreed, my xenophobic ancestors decided that expunging the proof that it was possible was a good idea. They began a serious attempt at genocide, but they failed. A council on Admar was convened and the full scope of the slaughter was exposed. We lost our world and it was held in trust for those we had wronged.”

The governor raised his eye ridges. “It sounds like you should be feuding, not contemplating mating.”

Bex muttered, “If he is descended from Admaryn, they are always contemplating mating.”

Regaran shrugged but didn’t deny it.

“Why is that, Trainer Bex?”

“They found no resistance in the female population. We are drawn by their voices and bodies as well as the psychic pressure that they apply.”

Ajaru finally joined the conversation, “So, is that all you are attracted to?”

She smiled and sat back, “No, when I am not locked down, I look for a man that I can be friends with first and a mate to second. Passion can fade but the friendship can keep things fresh and give a base on which you can always rebuild.”

She shrugged. “Of course, a hot body never did anyone any harm when it comes to picking a lover.”

Ajaru smiled, “You already know my body from head to toe.”

“I do. You are also in perfect shape, no sub-dermal damage that could cause an issue if you insulted a woman.” She gave him a narrow-eyed look.

He grinned back and raised his cup to her.

The governor smiled and leaned forward. “Tell me about your home.”

She had had a cup of wine with not a lot of food, so she told him all about earth, the social structures, courting rituals and city structure in her area. “And it is all now guarded by the Alliance.”

The governor blinked. “Why?”

“We are a declared protectorate.”

Regaran chuckled. “Of course you are.”

The governor asked him, “Why would that be?”

Regaran snickered, “They can successfully mate with over eighty species at last count. This means that if their world were left unprotected, they would soon be extinct as a solid species.”

She was suddenly the focus of everyone within earshot of Regaran’s comment. The women looked revolted and the men looked intrigued.

Bex concentrated on her meal. It was going to be a long night.

 

Chapter Seven

 

 

Bex was waiting for their transport when the wave overtook her mind. Jury duty.

She tried to fight it off, but her body began to lock. Her guard was wary. “What is going on?”

“Psychic contract. I need to sit in one place for a few hours.”

The guard nodded and retreated inside.

A moment later, the head of the governor’s household was next to her, easing her through the crowd and settling her on a bench in the garden.

She sat just in time. Her body locked and she stared into space as the particulars of the court case were read out to her.

Bex occasionally felt someone prodding at her body, taking her vitals and checking her temperature. A wrap was put around her and something was keeping her warm.

When court was dismissed for the day, she slumped forward and pressed her head to the shoulder supporting her. She inhaled and smiled. “Ajaru. Nice of you to hang around.”

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