Authors: Lisa Lace
Tags: #Romance / Fantasy
She glanced up at the timepiece, a natural one made of sand and rocks. She didn't know how it worked but it was beautiful and awed her each time.
Kerdos was full of the aesthetics of rocks and plants artistically arranged inside and outside of the palace. Even the stone veranda that lined the left hand wall of Rev and Tracy's room had many plants arranged in pleasing patterns and colors.
It was too bad that half of the palace was destroyed in the pirates' attack. The dichotomy of beauty and destruction illustrated the current tension in the palace.
Rev was late. This was another sign that his meetings weren't going well. Again. Tracy had tried hard to understand the politics of the Kerdos people, but the information net was full of gaps of things people thought were common knowledge.
But Tracy wasn't from Kerdos so she didn't know, and she was getting frustrated. She ran many searches during the day trying to understand Rev's people and her new society.
Tracy ran another search on the Vacant Throne, speaking her questions to the computer. The search presented different categories: conspiracies, prophecies, and the line of succession.
"Conspiracies," she said.
Though unproven, certain groups have proposed that the failure of the Moc-Noton to produce an heir in the final days of the monarchy was due to sabotage, specifically through the administration of poison. Evidence of such a conspiracy? The last three Moc-Noton queens produced only one child each when twins were normal for the Moc-Noton line.
On Earth there were all kinds of conspiracies too, and this last one seemed particularly unimpressive. Some couples naturally seemed to produce twins, but that didn't mean every birth would have them. Tracy's own family tree showed an impressive number of twins. Even if you did have a set of twins, you would only have a one in two chance of having another set. The odds of three Moc-Noton queens having one child were not outrageous.
It seemed that even aliens wore tin-foil hats.
"Prophecies," she said. She wasn't particularly interested in prophecies but hoped she would find something interesting.
Shouting from the hall interrupted her studies.
"And I'm telling you, Tev..." Rev entered their room. He was breathing heavily and had a grim expression on his face. He stopped speaking when he saw Tracy and whirled around to face his brother. "Later," he said tersely.
Tev glanced at Tracy quickly, lips pursed in a straight line, and nodded. "Later," he agreed. "Goodbye, Tracy." He spun on his heel and left the room.
"What was that all about?" Tracy asked.
Rev landed hard on the bed, stretched out next to Tracy, and gave her a kiss.
"Didn't we agree to be honest with each other?" she said.
He looked away. "I don't remember a conversation like that."
Stubborn. He was so stubborn.
Tracy slyly moved her hand to his abs. He wore an embroidered Kerdos sleeveless tunic that was skimpily cut. An ornate button at his chest held the tunic together, but the rest of the garment easily shifted to show off his ripped abs as he moved. She began to tickle his abs with her nails, inspired by her easy access to them. With a full week to explore each other, she had found out some interesting things about Rev. One thing she discovered was that he was ticklish when she used the tips of her fingernails, especially when she caught him off guard.
"Stop!" he chuffed before he dissolved into laughter.
"What did we say?" teased Tracy.
"Okay, okay," he choked then laughed some more. "Stop, woman!"
Tracy withdrew her hand.
"We were having a discussion about when you and I would visit the Priestesses of Endra. He thinks with the political instability, we should wait and sort things out."
"I want our mating confirmed by the priestesses as soon as possible."
"This doesn't have anything to do with the succession, does it?"
Rev took her hand and kissed. "It doesn't to me. I'd do it anyway."
"But to Tev?"
"Not just to Tev. Tracy, our mating is unusual in so many ways. That it was done to the old traditions raises many problems. The traditionalists are thrilled but the moderates and progressives are appalled. Those factions see our mating as a threat to our membership in the Aligned Worlds, especially if the Council names me as emperor. On the council, the traditionalists hold a majority over the progressives and moderates."
"I don't understand why Tev isn't named as emperor. He's the older brother."
"It doesn't work that way here. Because birth rates have dropped in the past centuries, the most fertile couple in the royal family is the one appointed to the throne."
"I know, I know," said Tracy. "To give the monarchy a better chance of a clear line of succession by producing children, but Rev, I never said I was ready to have children. The doctors haven't even figured out if we can conceive yet."
"Actually, they delivered their report today to the council, and they see no reason why we can't. They are surprised you aren't pregnant already."
Tracy blushed. She was a private person by nature and all the public discussion of her personal life was unsettling. Inadvertently, she had heard a conversation between some attendants about her bedroom activities with Rev. Apparently they were quite robust compared to the typical Kerdos relationship.
"It's not unusual for several months to pass before the contraceptive is cleared from my system. Human women can still take up to a year to conceive even when we're trying to. Your brother should take this opportunity to find a nice Kerdos woman and knock her up if he wants the throne so badly."
"Knock her up?" said Rev perplexed. "You can't mean that he should hit her? You'll have to translate that phrase because the automatic translators are failing."
Oops. They had hit another limitation of the artificial translators implanted in their heads. The translators did a poor job of translating idioms and colloquialisms.
"Get her pregnant."
"My brother is being stubborn. He doesn't have anyone he's interested in, and he hasn't looked too closely either."
"So he harasses you about me."
Rev drew her closer and kissed her hair.
"He's just trying to do the best thing for the empire. He won't have just any woman by his side. The position of queen is too important. His advisors have drawn up lists of suitable women, but you should know by now that for a Kerdos man, he has to feel the mating urge toward a woman to take her as his mate. The pressure of having the RIGHT woman is piled on top of that."
"Sounds like performance anxiety to me." Tracy's hand slid down to Rev's crotch to feel his cock hard under her hand. "Definitely not your issue."
"You do that to me. All day I wait to get to you. Is it any wonder when I do get home I want you?"
"Yeah," said Tracy wryly. "But it doesn't hurt your reputation to be known as 'trying your hardest to fulfill your duty to your people'."
"Oh, woman," protested Rev. "I assure you, princedom or not, I'd have you every night."
"I know, "she said huskily. "It's one of the things I like about you so very much."
"Good," he said. With that he undid her robe, exposing her body to him.
"You know," she said. "I really need other clothes."
"No, you don't," he said. He sucked on her nipple, sending a sharp burst of pleasure through her.
"Yes," she gasped. "I do. I can't go anywhere in this robe."
"I like that. I know where I'll always find you."
Rev put his fingers between her legs, rubbing her clit in slow swirling motions.
Tracy gasped. "You don't have to worry. I'll always find YOU."
He chuckled. "No doubt." His fingers delved into her entrance, sparking the warmth from her pooling wetness in a hot flame. She arched her back. He withdrew his fingers, but before she could protest, he replaced his fingers with his tongue, lapping the lips of her entrance with gusto, humming noises of satisfaction. His broad, strong hands cupped her ass, bringing her closer to his mouth, as his nails dug into her skin.
His face was buried in her now. His tongue commanded her total attention. He was everywhere, darting in and out of her entrance, and lavishing her folds and clit with sweeps of his tongue.
Every stroke sent tingles of pleasure through her. Her body felt electrically charged. Her nerve endings hummed with desire for more of him. She bucked her hips, and he responded by taking her clit in his mouth, teasing it with gentle flicks of his tongue.
It was too much. She came, the orgasm rushing over her with the intensity of a large ocean wave, demanding her release whether she wished it or not.
But she did.
She always did with Rev.
Rev's teasing about not getting her clothes was just that: teasing. The next morning, after Rev left for his meeting with the council, her personal attendant, As-Sali, rang the entrance bell.
"Permission to enter, my lady," she said.
"Sali, how many times have I told you to call me Tracy?"
"Yes, my lady," said Sali.
"Are all Kerdos people so stubborn?"
"If you say so."
Tracy frowned. She certainly wasn't going to make any friends this way.
"I have some garments for your inspection. They were made for you by the palace seamstresses. They apologize that they took so long to prepare, but that area of the palace was completely destroyed."
Tracy looked at her new robes with awe. Every inch was hand stitched with gold, blue, and red threads worked in star burst patterns through the cloth. The yoke running the length of the robe and the high collar were deep royal blue.
"The seamstresses hope that this design meets with your approval. Since you have no Kerdos crest for your family, they thought the star motif would be appropriate."
Tracy didn't know if Sali's words were a back-handed compliment or not. Sali was reticent and deferential, but she showed Tracy no hint of warmth. Still, it looked like a lot of effort went into making these clothes.
Tracy decided to be as gracious as possible.
"Sali, please convey to the seamstresses my gratitude for their dedication and hard work. It is beautiful, and I'll treasure it."
"I will tell them. Here are additional day robes and undergarments for you. We were not sure how they should look, but the prince described them to us."
Really. This she'd like to see. Sali offered the undergarments with a bow.
Again they were beautiful. The bra and panties were worked with black threads to imitate the pattern of lace.
Apparently, her lost underwear had left quite an impression on Rev.
"There are sets of other colors as well to match your robes. We are creating additional clothing for you and it will be delivered by the end of the week. Your dress for tonight's dinner at the palace will arrive later."
What dinner at the palace? Tracy kept her expression neutral, but she was surprised. Rev didn't say anything about a palace dinner.
She'd have to talk to him, AGAIN, about keeping her in the loop.
"Sali, thank you so much, and please don't forget to thank the seamstresses." She had a thought. "Is there something special I can do for them?"
"Your gratitude is more than enough."
Tracy thought this unlikely. She knew there wasn't a person in the universe that didn't appreciate recognition.
"After my bath and breakfast, please take me to the seamstresses so I can express my gratitude personally."
Thoroughly fed, groomed, and coiffed, Tracy stepped outside her suite for the first time in a week. Sali had worked her hair into a high waterfall bun with Kerdos braids coming from the sides. The braids met in the middle of her head and looped in a spiral on either side.
It was ornate hairdo for Tracy, who was used to washing her hair, brushing it, and dashing out the door.
"Your hair is quite thick," said Sali as she brushed Tracy's locks, "Do all women on your planet have such thick hair?"
"No! Not many women have hair like this. Hairdressers would want to charge me double for cutting my hair."
"That won't be a problem here. Women do not cut their hair."
Tracy held her tongue. This was the first time Sali had said anything to her outside of an official capacity, and she didn't want to stop communication before it began.
Sali's tone of disapproval still unsettled her.
Another thing that made her uncomfortable was how the new robe fit her body. The Kerdos LOVED showing what was underneath their outer clothing. It was done through gaps in loosely fitting robes and tunics, which allowed flashes of undergarments and skin. In Tracy's case, her new bra and panties peeked out of the loosely closed front of the robe which gaped open as she walked.
Following Sali became a nightmare of walking slowly enough to keep her robe from flying open and walking fast enough to keep up with the retainer.
They walked from the good part of the palace to the devastated region. Workmen worked here clearing debris and rebuilding crumbled walls. Tracy glanced at the blue-skinned Staukub, the secondary sentient species on Kerdos, as she walked by them.
At first she was surprised when she saw this species here. She knew of the Staukub because her friend Carol was altered to be one by DNA conversion, but she quickly learned that Staukubs were the worker class of Kerdos, evolving at the same time as the Kerdim but not at the same cultural or intellectual pace. At an early point in Kerdos history, Staukub were relegated to the work of laborers, farmers, and miners.
"Such a shame," said Tracy watching the blue-skinned workers rebuild crumbled walls.
Sali turned and gave her a cold look. "Yes, yes it is. My lady."
Did Sali blame her for the palace's destruction and the upheaval in their government? It wasn't Tracy's fault that the pirates let loose a rain of destruction on the Kerdos capital.
Tracy supposed it was easier to blame an offworlder than the princes of their world for this tragedy.
They walked down a flagstone path that veered off to the left. There was a series of smaller worn stone buildings that looked older than the palace. People walked actively in and out of the buildings, and workmen huddled in the front, tapping chisels into stone.