Nari Khenti is running for his life. His contract holder has been murdered and he’s accused of the crime. Now, the real killer is after him, intent on killing Nari. The only place he can think of hiding is on Katzmann.
Semyon Barak is concerned when Doctor Saris tells him someone stowed away on his ship until he realizes that the gorgeous green eyed man is his ate—his very pregnant mate. Now he has to figure out how to keep the frightened man safe while keeping the hardest truth from them…the fact that they are mates.
Taking Nari into the desert might not be the best choice possible but it’s the only one Semyon has because the man after Nari is closing in on them and he has the power of the Elquone thrown behind him. Semyon will have to use every bit of training he’s ever had to keep his mate and their child alive because if the dangers of the desert don’t kill them, the bands of roaming bandits just might.
“Okay.” Saris started wringing his hands together as he walked away from Chellak and began pacing. “I was going through the supplies that Semyon had brought in on his last mission when I came across a box that wasn’t on the manifest. At first, I didn’t think much about it. Mix-ups like that happen, you know?”
“But?” Chellak encouraged.
Saris tossed his hand up in the air again, looking exasperated. “But the damn box started making tapping noises.”
Semyon’s jaw dropped. “Taping noises?”
Saris nodded rapidly. “When I tapped back, I heard someone speaking from inside the box.”
“There was someone in the box?” Why hadn’t he heard anything when he checked the supplies? Hell, how had he missed an extra box that wasn’t on the manifest? He usually wasn’t so oblivious.
Semyon was very stringent when it came to loading his ship. For someone to get an unmarked box past him was a feat. Now he was just as curious as Chellak. He also wanted to know who in the hell had gotten past him.
“Yes. His name is Nari. He’s the man Garret was telling me about, the one the rumors are about.”
Chellak sighed as he walked back over to sit behind his desk. He rubbed the bridge of his nose for a moment and then clasped his hands together. “From the beginning, Saris. What rumors?”
“Nari is Brüter. He entered into a contract with a man off world. It seemed to be a good match from everything I heard, and then suddenly Nari was brought back to Elquone to face charges that he killed the contract holder. When it was discovered that Nari was carrying, his execution was held off until after the child is born, which is in about two month, give or take a week.”
“Wait,” Semyon said as he stepped toward the doctor, feeling a sudden unfamiliar urge to know everything about the rumors Saris had heard. “I thought he was being brought back to face charges. I didn’t hear you say that he was found guilty in a trial.”
“That’s because there was no trial.” Saris’s words were controlled.
“The family of the man Nari was charged with killing comes from money, a lot of money. They greased the right palms and the High Ruler declared Nari guilty without a trial.”
“Can he do that?” Semyon asked as he looked at Chellak.
“I don’t think so, but things are still pretty precarious on Elquone since the last High Ruler died. I’m sure a lot of things go on that aren’t exactly above board.”
“Nari says he didn’t kill the man. It was the guy’s brother,” Saris quickly added.
“Do you believe him?” Chellak asked.
Saris’s lips thinned and he looked pensive, as if he was truly giving the question some thought. “I can’t honestly say. I know Nari is terrified. The brother is demanding the babe be turned over to him as required by the contract. He is saying that the babe is the only thing he has left of his brother.”
“Isn’t the contract nullified once the contract holder dies?” Chellak asked.
“Yes, and that’s what they are using to convict Nari. They say that he killed the contract holder in order to keep his babe. Word is that Nari is insane.”
When Saris pulled out a vid-pad and held it out to Chellak, Semyon peeked down at the information before the vid-pad passed into Chellak’s hands. His breathe caught in his throat when he saw the vivid green eyes staring back at him from the picture of the man in the contract.
Those eyes mystified him. There was so much hope and determination in them. How could a man with that kind of outlook on life become a cold blooded killer?
“Is he insane?” Semyon asked.
“I think he’s terrified.” Sadness sapped the color from Saris’s face. “They want to take his babe from him. I think he has a right to be terrified.” Saris looked up. There were tears in his eyes as he glanced over at Semyon and Chellak. “I would be if someone tried to take my baberen.”
“Is there anything we can do to help him?” There had to be something. Semyon didn’t know the guy but he felt for him. And that was strange. Semyon didn’t tend to make a lot of personal friendships, not after watching Bogden—the shaikh of the Leonid pride on Katzmann—get betrayed by another warrior. It had almost cost Bogden his life–and his mate. Semyon never wanted to be put in that position.
“If we continue to hide him here on Katzmann, Chellak could get in trouble with the Federation. But, if we turn him over to the High Ruler of Elquone, then Nari will lose his babe and be executed,” Saris said as if he were truly split on what to do.
“I’ll take him.” It was a bold statement. Semyon barely registered what came out of his mouth before both Saris and Chellak were staring at him like he might be as crazy as Nari. Maybe he was, but Semyon couldn’t allow Nari to be killed for a crime he hadn't even had a chance to have a trial for. It wasn’t right, and Semyon wasn’t going to allow the man to come to any harm.
“Semyon,” Chellak said slowly, “do you know what you’re saying?”
“If I sign a contract with Nari and claim him according to Katzman law, it should keep them from forcing him to return to Elquone and keep Chellak from being caught in the middle of this shit storm.”
“Semyon, you can’t mate with someone that isn’t your mate,” Chellak insisted with adamancy. “Even you now that.”
Semyon grabbed the vid-pad from Chellak and stared down at the man’s green eyes again. He could feel something move inside of him, something he had not experienced before–at least, not on this level.
The urge to protect the man and his unborn babe became almost more impetrative than the duty he felt toward Chellak Rai, and that was something he had lived by for more years than he could count. He felt an overwhelming need to physically claim the man, to protect him and cherish him.
And that was insane, because it could only mean one thing.
“I think he is my mate.”
Nari’s hands clutched in the blankets on either side of him as Semyon’s mouth moved along the vulnerable arch of his throat, lavishing his skin with kisses and little nips from his sharp teeth. When that wasn’t enough, Nari reached up and fisted his hand in Semyon’s hair, holding the man’s head to him.
“Need you so much, Nari.” Semyon’s voice seemed to glide over Nari’s body like the brush of silken sheets against his skin. It made him ache with want. “Always going to need you,” Semyon whispered along Nari’s sensitive skin.
Nari shuddered. He couldn’t explain the indisputable bond between them. There was some force beyond his comprehension, driving him toward Semyon, making him want to beg for the man’s touch. He just no longer cared what it was, or even why it was.
Nari licked his dry lips nervously, needing to touch Semyon as much as he needed to feel his touch. Semyon’s rough, rasping tongue stroked over his neck. When Semyon’s mouth closed over the mating mark, sucking at the flesh softly, tenderly, Nari felt his cock swell and pulse.
“My mayht, always mine,” Semyon whispered against Nari’s skin.
Semyon’s golden eyes glittered with sexual intent as the man raised his head and gazed down at Nari. His cheekbones appeared flushed beneath the dark tan, his lips fuller, more sensual. They looked kissable.
Much to Nari’s relief, Semyon leaned down and latched onto his mouth. Their tongues danced together, gently exploring, tasting, until air became a necessity. They both drew deep drags of air into their lungs. Their lips met seconds later but this time it wasn't the slow gentle kiss it had been before. This time it was out of control, frantic, and filled with everything needy.
When Semyon lifted his head and gazed down at Nari, there was a feral light in his eyes that almost scared Nari. If it wasn’t for the gentle way that Semyon caressed his skin and moved down his body, Nari would have questioned his intentions.
Nari licked his lips, starting to pant with need as Semyon spread his legs and knelt between them, crying out when he felt Semyon’s fingers brush over his tight entrance. He squirmed when Semyon pushed his legs up, fighting for breath.
Semyon’s tongue slid down to Nari’s puckered hole and swirled around. Nari gasped for breath as Semyon licked him, Semyon’s growls of pleasure echoing through his body. He could feel a wild, uncontrollable sensation building. His body tingled. The pressure increased as Semyon’s tongue stroked around his ass, over it, pushing gently but insistently against his tight opening.
“Semyon.” Nari’s plea was a breathless moan as his hands went to Semyon’s shoulders, his nails biting into the man’s tanned skin. He needed. “Please.”
Semyon was up and between his legs before Nari could barely register the man moving. Nari gasped as the thick length of Semyon’s cock slid into him, stretching him. One hard thrust buried the thick erection into Nari’s body to the hilt.
Nari watched Semyon’s handsome face stiffen, his jaw ticking as he fought for control. His eyes closed and his body went tight, tense. Nari’s breath caught in his throat as he watched, entranced. Semyon was a creature of pure beauty as his control fought his need for pleasure.
Semyon’s eyes opened just as quickly as they had closed. He started moving, thrusting his hard length in and out of Nari’s tight hole. The burning intensity in Semyon’s eyes as he looked down at Nari made him gasp. No one had ever looked at him with such need, such want, or with such tenderness. Nari felt like he could live the rest of his life in that look.
Semyon drove his cock harder and harder into Nari, rocking the carriage with the force of his thrusts. Nari moaned as the long thick cock that seemed to fill him so perfectly brushed across his prostate with every thrust of Semyon’s hips.
His head arched back as Semyon leaned down over him and nuzzled at his neck. He groaned, shivering at the feel of Semyon’s teeth scraping over his throat. Semyon licked the soft flesh just beneath Nari’s ear before sinking his teeth in.
“Semy!” Nari cried out. He was held still by Semyon’s hard body, his thrusting hips, and the sharp fangs imbedded in his skin. Semyon growled around the flesh in his mouth, low, primal, demanding Nari’s surrender as he drove his cock into Nari over and over again.
Nari’s eyes widened and he stared at the room of the carriage in stunned silence for a second before his orgasm hit and he screamed. His climax was like a tidal wave, tearing through him. He held tight to Semyon’s hair, praying for some anchor to hold him to this realm of existence because he was positive he was dying.
No one could survive that much pleasure.