A Knight, a quest, a sexy stowaway, and a right royal scandal.

All she wanted was 'Rhett's baby. It wasn't so much to ask. But 'Rhett said no. She was caught fleeing from his bedroom. The Worlds –and more to the point, her high and mighty brother—assumed the worst. Now, she's trapped with 'Rhett, bound on a quest to Earth, and too far on their way to turn back.

Worse yet, 'Rhett's chatty lieutenant burst in on her while she was taking a bath in her chastity belt. (Her brother packed her off with nothing but the clothes she was in, unknowingly, he kept the keys to her chastity belt.)


Chapter Seventeen

The Trajant
The Royal Suite's bathroom closets
Fourth Watch

Wishing that 'Rhett would return was incomprehensible foolishness.

The suave, deadly 'Rhett was a very frightening young god. The thought of him made her tremble. The sight of him made her mouth go dry with terror. When he spoke, her very bones quaked, her insides went tight, and her nipples pinched warnings.

She was so afraid of him, she even perspired between her legs when he was close.

How did she dare to search through his clothes? What would he think if he caught her wearing one of his peculiar, stretchy, white male-garments with an ingenious flap front?
She held up the hem of the sloppy upper-body garment and looked down at herself in her borrowed male-underwear. It certainly was practical.

Suddenly, she heard a slight sound. Her heart banged like a frantic, caged thing. An intruder was in her room. She dropped the hem to hide the more embarrassing theft.

"I should be more careful." 'Rhett's harsh whisper interrupted her before she could do more covering up. He'd propped his shoulder against the frame of the open door. The "wrong" hand –his left– rested lightly on the hilt of his sword. It wasn't an overtly threatening pose, but her stomach felt like it was trying to wring itself out.

Electra looked up into his dark green eyes and her irrational heart leaped to welcome him.

Nervous, guilt stricken, and afraid all at once, she studied first his mouth, then his groin, then the rest of him for signs that he was about to attack. One of his hands was bent behind his back. He glared as if he'd never seen her before. His ambiguously reddish aura warned of rampant sensuality. Probably. One could rule out any foolish notion of 'Rhett being violently in love. The only other strong possibility was that he was in a state of noble indignation.

No doubt he was furious that he'd discovered her wearing his undergarments. Caught stealing, there were few diplomatic options. Given the time of her cycle, and that it was 'Rhett who had caught her—and he might turn sexually violent at any moment—she chose to apologize right away.

"I'm sorry.…" she began.

"So am I!" She had hardly registered that a Great Djinn had almost apologized, when, with an expression of shame, he brought his hidden hand into sight and she saw the damage.

He held a fistful of broken-off legume flowers. They were as delicate, as colorful, and as inedible as insect wings. Impulsively, she moved toward him.

"Oh, what a shame! What happened?" she blurted out, before it occurred to her that perhaps in some wild, jealous, or frustrated rage he'd deliberately destroyed her future rations. Had the growing tips not been severed from the body of the plants, in time there would have been enough temper-suppressing legume fruits to provide three healthy side dishes, at least.

"We should put them in water," he said remorsefully.

Electra shook her head. "It's too late. They can't recover. They're flowering. They won't have the energy to take root." Ignoring her warning, he crossed the main room, swept up an empty wine container, filled it from the water dispenser, and plunged the broken stalks into it. "But never mind. I should take liquids. If I remain in a state of near-fasting, I shall be less"—she hesitated to mention the rut-rage by name, since he hadn't done so—"inconvenient."

He gave her an enigmatic half smile.

"How, Your Majesty, could you possibly be less inconvenient?" His husky voice deepened. He sounded sexually playful. She marveled at his self control.

When had he started calling her Your Majesty? Perhaps it was only her imagination, but it seemed that he'd addressed her—correctly—as Princess, which was the higher title, until he'd discovered that she was in his power and available for his pleasure.

"Is it uncomfortable?" he asked, sounding concerned. "Are you trying to diet your way out of it?"

"Yes, as much as I can," she admitted. "Although, it won't be very far."

He looked puzzled, as if he hadn't considered that there were different degrees of severity with the rut-rage.

"The Volnoths have developed an ability that we have not," she said, hoping to distract him. Her tongue felt clumsy. She tried to will her fluttering heart not to signal her distress and bring out the carnal predator in him. "If a pregnancy is inappropriate, the fetus can be voluntarily reabsorbed. During times of famine, the body will reabsorb nutrient rich fluids, recycle blood, and so forth. I've no proof that I could stop myself ovulating if I didn't eat, but it is worth the attempt."

'Rhett made a tigerish whuffing noise through his nose.

"Rabbits," he swore.

"Fewmet!" she swore back, although she wasn't clear why they were suddenly cursing at each other. No sooner was the common expletive out of her mouth than she wished she'd been more selective. She hadn't intended to accuse him of smelling bad.

"No, rabbits can do that. Rabbits are a prey species on Earth. They're famous for being sexually active and prolific. They have eyes on the sides of their faces, and their butts flash a white scut of alarm when they're frightened."

Oh, By the Lechers! He'd detected her fear.

Electra could not envisage such creatures as these "rabbits." She followed him to the table and helped herself to a handful of puckering, several-Watch-old twin legumes. They were rumored to be an anaphrodisiac…inhibiting sexual appetite. 'Rhett took some fruits as well, split the pods, and ate standing up where he was. She took more legumes to encourage him to also eat more, though she seriously doubted that they would have a timely effect.

For several heartbeats, they crunched companionably.

"We're in trouble, you know that," 'Rhett said.

Her heart thudded. She trembled inside. Now, he'll tell me very calmly and politely why he has to have his way with me.

"What are we going to do?" Nervously, she began to tear the fibrous veins from a pod.

"I think we need to start with an honest assessment of how bad our situation is." He poured two goblets of purple An'Koori wine, and held one out to her. She took it, and drank recklessly. "For instance, if you could be pregnant and are locked into a chastity belt, we have to face the fact that anorexia is not the answer."

"What makes you think I could be pregnant?"

"So, you truly are wearing a chastity belt?"

Oh, Stars! I was focused on how extraordinarily well he is restraining himself, and maybe congratulating myself just a little bit on the success of my untested starvation theory. I didn't register his sneaky mention of my protection.

"Your Majesty, if you don't mind my asking, how the devil did you think I was going to get you pregnant?"

"You aren't being fair, 'Rhett. I had everything under control, until Tarrant-Arragon interfered!" She glared back into his implacable, green-diamond eyes. His aura signaled volatility and cornered-tiger danger, but there was nowhere to hide. "I never said I wanted sex. All I wanted was…"

"My seed. I know. You did say. It was arrogant wishful thinking on my part. I assumed that I could make you want me to plant it."

Abruptly he fell back, propping his hip against the long communal dining table. He was indescribably elegant and quite beautiful in a masculine way. He shook his head, and a long, wavy lock of hair fell over his face. "I feel stupid. I'm absolutely mortified. Oh, bloody hell!"

Using his long fingers as a comb, he raked his stray lock back over the top of his glossy head. Her scalp tingled. She imagined how it would feel to have his fingers in her hair.

Since he now knew something about her that was so private that only Viz-Igerd knew it, Electra permitted herself to grimace and adjust the slack-damned thing. 'Rhett watched her do it.

"Houston, we have a problem!" he murmured, staring at her in a strange and disquieting manner.

She assumed that Houston was an exceptionally strong, alien swear word since he'd never used it before, and she could not blame him. In fact, she rather liked it.

"Houston, indeed!" she agreed daringly.




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