Mahlia is a snow tigress in heat and now that her tiger king has returned to rule the planet Vesperi, she can no longer deny her desperate need to mate. She greets him as a woman, but their desire for sex is uncontrollable as they come together with a primal passion.
Note: This story was previously published as part of the Carnal Desires anthology.
The snow tigress was in heat.
His nostrils flared. He could smell her desire from across the ballroom. Her scent called to him, tempting him to cast off the veneer of civility and take her in any way he could.
Mahlia Najla Mohan.
Longing warred with sadness at the thought of her. Of their lost child. Pain exploded in his chest, choking him. No. He would not think of that. He could not. The agony would drive him to his knees.
"Amir Varad." His manservant's voice pulled him back to the present. Varad pasted a charming smile on his face, appearing the besotted male who would soon have his mate begging him for the surcease only he could grant her. And possibly conceiving an heir to the Vesperi throne. A new heir.
"Welcome back, brother." Taymullah's hand clapped on his shoulder.READ MORE
Varad quirked a brow at the shorter man. And he was a man; the boy he'd left behind six months ago had grown into someone Varad hardly recognized. The last half Turn had been a difficult time for all of his family.
Taymullah's face settled into serious lines as he turned to look over at his brother's mate, Mahlia. "You have a great deal of work before you, Varad."
Varad swallowed, his gaze tracking her movement. Mating on Vesperi was a complicated affair, only lasting from a woman's heat cycle to the next. Because Varad was here, no one would touch his woman. Had he not returned in time, it would have been a different tale. However, she could always choose to mate away from him. His gut clenched. No. Mahlia was his. Had been his since the moment he'd looked into her ice-blue eyes, so rare among his people. His treasure. She would have no other for as long as they both lived. Whatever tragedy they shared could not destroy the depth of emotion that had always pulled them together.
Gods, he was tired. Six months on a spacecraft for the trade run was more than he cared for, but he doubted the werebears on the planet Alysius would trade with anyone except him personally. Lord Kesuk was not a man to trust.
A genuine smile tugged at Varad's lips as he thought of the Arctic Bear clan leader. He wondered how the enormous man had fared after Varad had encouraged the tiny human woman to return to the werebear's caves. The man hadn't stood a chance. Lady Jain would have seen to it. Varad's grin widened. Mahlia would like Jain immensely.
And Kesuk would try to kill him when Varad returned next Turn, no matter how happy the werebear lord was with his lady. It would be an interesting fight. Varad flicked a barely visible piece of lint from his sleeve as he wondered who might be the winner. A tiger versus a bear. Yes, interesting.
He shook his head, marveling again that a spaceship could have drifted among the stars since before the Earthan sun had died. Two unaltered humans, Lady Jain and a young scientist, Sera, had survived a crash landing on the werebear planet. Humans were extinct now, having had no way to survive the harsh environments of the four colonized planets. Only gene-splicing with different animal species had made it possible for humans to survive at all.
He wondered how the two women would fare. Lady Jain had her new Bear clan to contend with, but Sera had insisted on journeying to Aquatilis, the planet that maintained the greatest level of technology from old Earth. He suspected her choice had more to do with her fascination for a certain merman ambassador than her need for machines.
"Amir, your guests await you." Varad's valet bared his teeth a bit at the word guests. Varad chuckled as he descended the curving staircase from the wide balcony. Unlike Taymullah, one of the few who had supported Varad's expeditions, his manservant disapproved of the trade relations with Alysius.
"Well, we shouldn't disappoint our valued visitors." A warning was in Varad's tone. He was the king here, the Amir, and his wishes would be obeyed by all. If he bore the responsibility of leadership, he demanded the respect that came with the position.
"Yes, my Amir." His servant bowed and backed away.
Trade had always been maintained between Vesperi and the Harenan weredragons, but many had thought Varad mad when he set out to find the other two planets. It had been a risk, he admitted. But what was life without risk? None could deny that the new flood of goods from the werebears and merpeople were good for all four planets. No matter how much his doubters might like to protest. He tried to cover his laugh in a discreet cough.
He sobered abruptly, the grin falling away from his face. Many of his people agreed that trading with the seemingly barbaric werebears was a mistake. They were a rough people, but he'd grown to respect them, especially Lord Kesuk. He sighed, the weight of his responsibilities riding heavily on his shoulders. He shrugged as if to shift the burden, but nothing could ease his troubles.
A sweet laugh rippled across the ballroom, and he wasn't the only one who turned to smile at the source. Mahlia. Another challenge to face. Whether it pleased either of them or not, he would soon have her.
The room gleamed with white marble and wildly colored swaths of fabric--all the ostentation a feline could need. He worked his way across the vast ballroom to her side, nodding to his guests, noting the flashing scales of the Harenan weredragons, the imposing bulk of the first Alysian werebear ambassador, the violently colored hair of the Aquatilian merpeople. An interplanetary gathering, just as he had hoped. Excellent. When he reached Mahlia, she was entertaining a merman and the werebear ambassador with a story about her inability to master the waltz as a child.
"Amira Mahlia." Varad's hand stroked down the length of her bare arm, tracing the tan stripes on her creamy skin with a fingertip. He savored the feel of her, enjoying the way her servant had gathered her long cream-and-bronze-striped hair on her head, leaving her shoulders bared in a laced black corset. One of her legs was exposed by the filmy deep-blue skirt slit to her waist. His cock hardened, the need to have her fisting his gut. A deep breath dragged her scent to him yet again. Only because he was so focused on her did he hear the soft catch in her breath before she turned icy blue eyes on him. The natural black lining that surrounded all weretiger eyes made hers stunning.
"Amir Varad." She attempted to curtsy before him, but he quickly squeezed her elbow to keep her upright. Even after a Turn, she was not accustomed to her role in society. Or perhaps she was still uncomfortable with him. It mattered not. His mate would not bow to him. She was his equal--the only true partner he had in his world. He inclined his head to her, and after the briefest of pauses, she followed suit.
"Your Amira was just telling us an amusing story, Amir." The sub-bass rumble of the werebear split the silence; a white smile flashed in his dark face. The hammered metal circlet welded around his massive bicep, a mark of his standing among the Bear clans, glinted in the light from the glowlight chandeliers.
"Yes, the Aquatilians wish you all felicity in your return." The merman's nasal tone and sophisticated speech demonstrated the difference between the merman's culture and that of the werebear. Only Mahlia could have charmed the two into maintaining a peaceful conversation for more than a few minutes.
"Welcome home, Amir." He turned to see Katryn, his mate's closest friend, approaching their group. Her dark hair rippled to her hips, and her golden skin was set off in a stunning white gown reminiscent of an ancient Grecian toga. The weredragon was beautiful, but the first thing one noticed about her was the purple scaling that crept from her wrists to her biceps.
Still, no other woman had ever called to him as Mahlia had. Anticipation tensed his muscles. Soon. Soon he would have her. Would have her legs about him as they rode each other, her slick heat tight on his thrusting cock. He bit back a groan and then traced a finger down the lacings of her corset. Her breath panted as her scent increased, surrounding him, commanding him.
The hunt would begin soon.COLLAPSE