Well I'm back again with a new post for the Power of Love Blog Hop! This chapter is the moment of truth before the newlywed men. How will they react, especially when some painful truths come to light? Love begins in many different ways, but can Kertyn and Zaran ever find a common ground to begin to get to know each other? Also, keep the comments coming! I'm giving away the winner's choice of any of my eBooks or a $5 gift card if they already have all of them. Every comment is a chance to win! As always, I NEED your email, or you can't win!
Married to the Enemy Chapter Two
Kertyn was nothing like I’d expected. Restrained when I figured he’d be demanding, defensive yet honorable when I’d assumed he’d be haughty and deriding. The Verlast were an avaricious lot, greedy and materialistic. The whole damn war between our planets had started when one man was told no.
Granted he was their ruler, and we had been discussing a trade treaty, but still. What did that matter compared to the fact the rocks he wanted to mine and exploit were the only things keeping my people from facing a bitter death on the surface of Nembero? We had many other fine stones that didn’t provide a safe light and dependable warmth; he could have chosen any of those.
When I found out the priests had decided his son and I were supposed to get married, I’d been tempted to bomb the whole damn planet. I’d already obliterated fleets of ships in space, widowing many wives and orphaning a host of children too great a number to count. What was one race’s life compared to our own?
It was that thought, that chilling willingness to murder innocents just to end the war to avoid being saddled with a likely spoiled and demanding little chit, that told me I was nearly too far gone. The war had to end, but it couldn’t be at the sacrifice of millions. No, it would take the sacrifice of two people.
And Kertyn. His pure skin, a pearly white, stood out from the dusky purple of his landing pod. He had long white hair, rippling in a loose fall to his shoulders. Nembero only wore their hair down in the bedroom with their spouse.
His foreign beauty and the shocking display of that long hair stunned me when the Tuothic introduced himself. I needed a moment to gather my thoughts—and somehow regain my breath.
The last hope he’d been coerced or forced to Nembero unwilling had been dashed the second he struggled out of his chair and confronted me, trembling in the cold. It was strange, the way he moved with his eyes closed. Hesitant, but not groping.
I’d judged and measured many men in my career. There was always a chance Kertyn was a plant or a spy. We’d had very little information on him. He was known as a recluse, shunning his father’s court, and rarely appearing in public. He didn’t look like the rest of the Verlast. He was taller, nearly my height, and willowy.
He lacked the characteristic black spots they developed when exposed to the sun for the first time. I’d never seen anyone as pale or pure looking as him. But what if that was his father’s intention? Was my judgment compromised?
Thankfully I’d assigned guards to the corridor outside my front door. Only time would tell what kind of man Kertyn was.
Now we were in my home… our home. Kertyn had been in the bathroom a long time. I sat on the edge of the bed to wait for him. My formal coat’s stiff collar kept jabbing me in the neck. I spread the stiff lapels and dragged it over my head.
The quiet exclamation startled me. I jerked and then cursed as the sleeves caught inside out. I’d forgotten to undo the damn buttons again. Damn it. I tugged the coat off my head.
“Sorry,” I said. “This damn thing gives me hives.” I smiled at Kertyn. He was staring at me, his mouth parted. Could his eyes get any bigger? I stuck my arms back into the shirt to get to the cuffs.
“I know it’s not too late, but I’m tired, and I figured you were exhausted.”
He shrugged one shoulder. “It’s still early on Verlast, but I could lay down in bed.”
He’d paused. Was he trying to make the first move? Bold, and after seeing his temper, totally in line with the attitude the young prince had. He wasn’t snotty about it, but he was direct in what he said. Now, he hadn’t quite said let’s lay down and rub our naked bodies together…
It was our Vagal night, after all.
I stood up. Kertyn’s milky white eyes followed my every move. He bit his lip, the pale flesh turning pink.
“Go ahead. I’ll be out in a minute.” He seemed shy. I waved my hand at the big bed. The staff had changed the bedding to a dark blue set. I imagined him posed against the midnight blue silk and my cock stiffened.
My pants were going to snap it off. I undid the buttons along the waistband and peeled them down my legs, grunting when my cock was finally freed. I stretched. The treaty had come so recently that I’d only been back on Nembero for a few days.
I hadn’t touched another man in ages. The urge wasn’t there, and my trips back planet-side had been full of debriefings and strategy sessions. At least there was one positive to this marriage. I ran a cleaner over my body. The glowing stick removed all the dead skin and other particles. I enjoyed the warm tingles left behind as blood rushed to the surface of my skin, rejuvenating me.
Kertyn should’ve had enough time to get in bed by now. I pulled the band off the end of my braid, slowly undoing it. My hair fell in waves over my shoulders. The heavy weight tickled my spine like a lover’s fingers, and I shivered.
My new husband’s hair spilled across the pillows. He was curled on his side, his hands buried under the pillow. His eyes were closed. Had he fallen asleep?
Really? I lifted the sheet.
His breathing picked up as his eyes cracked open. Kertyn’s mouth fell open. “Y-You… You’re naked.” He flushed, his neck and face turning pink. “Is that…? Should I…?”
I frowned. “What’s the matter?” The man looked mortified. Definitely not how I’d expected to be greeted.
Kertyn slid out from under the sheet. He still had his pants on. “I didn’t know you slept naked here.”
Sleep? “I don’t always. Sometimes it gets a little chilly, even in here. But it’s fairly warm right now during the summer months. Besides, I didn’t think we were going to sleep right away. Are you that tired?”
He stopped with his hands in the waistband of his pants. “What else would you do in a bed?”
It was my turn for my mouth to drop open as I stared at him. I tilted my head as I watched his expression go from confused to angry. He straightened and dropped his hands to his sides.
“What?” he snapped. “Did I screw something up? Do you do devotions before bed? The priest always instructed me privately.”
“No.” I shook my head slowly. “Kertyn—” I stopped abruptly. Surely he wasn’t….
“That’s my name.” His anger was turning to defensiveness. This was definitely not what I expected to happen when I came out of the bathroom. My cock softened.
“I know. I was thinking. You thought we were going to sleep?”
Kertyn folded his arms across his chest. “I am tired. This hasn’t been easy, but I’m trying, Zaran. I don’t know much about you or Nemberos in general. I certainly never expected to leave Verlast.”
Maybe that was all it was. Exhaustion and a cultural misunderstanding. I sat on the bed and gestured for him to do the same. “I’m sorry. There’s been a lot thrown at us. I have a feeling you’re at a bigger disadvantage than I am. We can sleep, if you’re tired.”
I was warm enough. “If it won’t bother you. You don’t have to take off your pants.”
“Did you need to do devotions? I wasn’t sure if Nemberos did them at night, and I was so tired. You were ready, before. The priest told me they were a private ritual, but you are my husband, and my father demanded I— Well, that doesn’t matter. I told you I was here willingly, and I meant it.” Kertyn stood up and unsnapped his pants. “I’m not ready, but I can be in a minute.”
Damn it. My heart sped up when he exposed a triangle of skin at his waist as he pushed the loose pants down. The wide legs and loose fit and hid most of his lower body. Any further and I’d get a glimpse of my husband’s body for the first time.
My cock began to rise. I couldn’t help it. I reached down and stroked myself once.
“You do want to do devotions.” Kertyn pushed his pants and shook his hips. His pants slid down his legs to puddle at his feet. He stepped out of them.
He was pale everywhere. He had wispy hair around his cock. I wondered if it was as soft as his other hair. A few locks had slid along my arm as I guided him earlier. I’d barely felt it, the hair soft and light unlike my coarse strands.
“Do you have the oil?”
“Oil?” I repeated stupidly. All the blood had definitely left my brain and gone south.
“It’s probably all right. I’m still purified from morning devotions before I left Verlast. I would have cleansed myself, but I didn’t see enough water in the bathroom to clean with other than the little in the sink.”
Kertyn looked solemn as he walked to the end of the bed and knelt on the edge. He had his hands folded, the palm of his left hand over his right. He crossed his right ankle over his left.
Then he bent forward, placing his hands flat on the bed under his forehead. He took a deep breath, let it out, and said, “I’m ready.”
Today had been one shock after another, but this was far beyond anything I could fathom. Ready for what? Was he praying? Did he expect me to do that?
His breaths grew shorter and he began to shake. He tensed, taking shallow breaths. “Zaran?”
I’d ordered millions of men. I destroyed ships with a single word.
I couldn’t speak at all. All I could see was his lean body folded on the bed, his head down and his ass up. I swallowed hard.
“Zaran?” Kertyn’s voice wavered. He turned his head and looked at me. “I thought you wanted to honor Stygianius with devotions?”
My voice was hoarse when I finally spoke. “I don’t know what devotions are.”
Kertyn sat back on his heels. He frowned. “You’re ready for them… but you don’t know what they are?”
“What do you mean, I was ready for devotions?”
My husband flushed—I was really growing to appreciate the pale pink color he turned—and waved his hand at me. “You were hard.”
I froze. The way he’d positioned himself, purification needed to ‘get him ready’ and then devotion to their god of creation?
There was no room for ambiguity. “Kertyn. Do you mean that when you do devotions, you’re having sex with someone?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know what you mean.”
I licked my lips, grabbing onto the post at the corner of the bed. “Tell me how you perform devotions.”
“I bathe, and then the priest purifies my body with oil. Then he enters me, enacting the moments when Stygianius accepted the power of creation inside himself and created the worlds. The priest began instructing me in this holy act when I became his chosen vessel.”
What the fuck? “You believe sex is… you had sex with a man this morning?” I shouted.
“No, I performed my duty with the priest in devotion to the god who marked me. Why are you shouting at me?” He narrowed his eyes. “You have no right to shout at me for something that occurred before we even met.” My husband, who apparently had no idea what sex was, had offered up his body to be penetrated every day to be used.
He’d been used just that morning. How long had this been going on? By a priest. What kind of monsters were the Verlast to allow something like that?
I controlled my voice, but it took iron control. “When did you begin performing devotions?” I’d take a shuttle there immediately, and remove the priest’s ability to perform devotions—permanently.
“For a few years now. The priest who presided over my birth is the only one who ever talked to me, other than my father; I didn’t get out much.” He muttered under his breath, “Or at all.”
“The priest said it was my duty to worship, if I wanted to find the god’s favor and learn my destiny.”
“Well, not as long as your years, of course. Verlast is closer to the sun than Nembero. We’re much warmer.”
A Verlast year was two hundred and fifty-eight days. Years. The priest had been using Kertyn every day, for years. I’d assumed as a prince of his people my husband had not lacked for partners, even with his comments in the pod, but he’d never had sex. He’d never had a partner. Apparently he’d been a captive victim of their religious
He’d only been used.
“I don’t understand. You wanted to do devotions, then you didn’t, then you did, then you didn’t.” Kertyn rubbed his fingers on his forehead. “I’m sorry. I’m tired. I’m not usually this stupid.”
“You aren’t stupid.” Naïve beyond belief, probably kept that way by his father and this filthy priest, both likely for their own gain and not with Kertyn’s wellbeing in mind. How did I explain this to him?
I needed advice.
“I don’t want to do devotions right now.” It was difficult to say the word. I felt like my mouth needed to scrubbed out. “Why don’t you get some sleep? I need to speak to the Tuothic.”
Kertyn jumped off the bed. “Why?” He strode up to me, his eyes intent on mine. “I thought he expected us to spend this night together. Are you going to complain about me for not knowing what to do? I don’t want a war between our people. I don’t have much experience, but I know I can learn. I’m trying to keep an open mind about your ways, and you yell at me about mine.
“Maybe the things I heard about you weren’t exaggerations. Maybe you do want to exterminate the Verlast, and I’m the closest target.” He’d snapped before, but now he looked truly angry. He almost vibrated with suppressed emotion, but instead of yelling, his voice lowered to a near hiss.
I took a step back. “I don’t know what kind of men you’ve known, but I don’t believe anyone can hide such hate. I need advice. I was confused, and yes, I’m angry.” I shook my head. “But not at you. I have no idea how to explain this to you, or to make you understand, but what that priest did was wrong.”
“How can you say such a thing?” Kertyn was aghast.
“What he called devotion is really sex. Two people who like each other express their feelings by that, and other acts, to pleasure each other physically. It’s meant to be a mutual act, not one person using the other. He took advantage of your circumstances.
“He hurt you.”
Kertyn shook his head. “I never felt any pain.”
Thank the gods. That was a small relief. Perhaps I’d let the priest live.
“Did you feel pleasure?” I asked slowly. Maybe I was wrong. Verlast ways were not Nembero ways. We were all humans, but had lived apart for so many centuries. Their gods were not ours.
“I felt content to please my god. I hoped he’d grant me a happy life, whatever my purpose was. And… it was nice to be touched by someone who didn’t think I was a freak.” He shrugged one shoulder.
“That’s not… There’s so much more to it than that.” It sounded like my husband had a very hard life, whether he knew it or not. We were not the only victims of his father’s callous disregard.
I sighed, suddenly exhausted by Kyrtain’s rapid emotional shifts. How was I going to show him the care he needed? What if I screwed up? It was late, and getting later.
“Can we talk about this tomorrow? We both need to rest.”
Kertyn frowned. “You will explain what you mean tomorrow? You’re not going to talk with the Tuothic?”
“No. There’s not much point now.”
“Are you going to sleep naked?” Kertyn looked at the bed, then back at me. “With me?”
“You’ve never slept beside anyone before, have you?”
He shook his head. “I didn’t know people did that.”
I’d thrown some pretty heavy revelations at him. Maybe he’d rather be alone. “We don’t have to.” We didn’t even have to have sex. We’d married by treaty. Intimacy wasn’t necessary.
But he intrigued me. I’d never met anyone like him.
“I think… I think I’d like it.” He stared at me.
Lying beside him wasn't going to make getting any rest easy. But I had a lot to think about to prepare for one hell of an awkward conversation.TBC
Come back again tomorrow night for the third update! In the meantime, make sure you check out the other blog hop hosts to enter their giveaways.