Jarek(Dragons of Preor Book 1)(3)By: Celia Kyle & Erin Tate
He pushed those thoughts away, ignored the soft tremble of her voice, and gave her a small smile. “Yes, Nalan?”
“I…” she licked her lips, gaze straying to her mate and then returning to him. “We wished to know if we should search the databases for you. Evuklar said you have not yet explored them and there are so many females who—”
She became more flustered by the passing seconds and everything inside him urged him to comfort and calm a distressed female. Jarek carefully captured her trembling hand with both of his and gave a small squeeze. “I thank you for your concern, but I am happy with my life.” When she opened her mouth as if to object, he spoke again. “Let the young males match before an old dry scale like me takes the prize from beneath their wings.”
“But, War Master…”
He shook his head. “I am well, Nalan. I have caring friends. More than most and less than some, but I am still content.” He released her, gave his friend a small nod, and then strode toward the doorway. He also ignored the guilt from his lie. “I must meet with Prince Tave and his principessa now. We can discuss this,” —never again— “once preparations are underway.”
“Yes, War Master,” Nalan tipped her head in acknowledgment, but he was not so lucky with Evuklar.
“I know you’ll avoid us for the next Earth week in hopes we’ll forget, but we won’t.” His friend stepped forward, his expression earnest. “There are billions of females on the surface, Jarek. You would not be taking from one of your own warriors. Besides, you know if you have a mate and get close enough to her, it won’t be a matter of choosing. The Knowing will strike you whether you will it or not.”
A secret that’d been kept from the humans and Ujal both. The hope was that if a human female who had not agreed to be approached experienced a Knowing, the desires of the connection would drive her to agree to the match.
Jarek nodded his understanding. But kept his other thoughts to himself. He never planned to put himself in a position to be in close proximity to an Earth female. He’d lived a long life and did not want to allow hope to kindle in his heart. It was better not to feel the pain when he failed to find a mate.
“I will meet you for a meal once I speak with the Ujal delegation.” They would facilitate the first meetings between the Preor and human females at Preor Choosing Station Tau. It’d been determined that keeping the Ujal and Preor close would be the least invasive and most acceptable arrangement at this time. Those around UST and Tau were familiar with aliens. Welcoming another would not be quite as difficult as settling an area unfamiliar with other races.
Preor diplomats signed agreements, but those males were not the ones responsible for establishing their people on the surface. The Ujal, water-living aliens, were familiar with the process and offered to assist the Preor in those tasks. They did not offer out of the kindness of their hearts, however.
They both had what the other desired. Preor wanted to find mates on earth. Ujal needed technology to help locate their missing people. Ujal younglings had been stolen and sold. The concept disgusted Jarek. It was almost enough for him to fight the agreement. Did the Preor males wish to tie themselves to a race that sold their young?
Then he’d been reminded that not all Preor were good of heart, either.
So now he strode through the passageways of his ship, intent on his meeting with Earth-based Ujal rulers—Prince Tave and Principessa Rina fa’Vyl-Zeret. His men stepped aside as he approached, moving into doorways and saluting him as he passed. Some went so far as to whisper prayers of strength and blessings of triumph. They all knew what the coming days would bring. Hope was within the grasp of his people—the future living and breathing on the surface of the blue and green planet.
His wings twitched against his back, an involuntary reaction, and he halted in the corridor. Unease slithered along flight lines, the primary muscles jerking in response to a change in the air. He recognized the feeling—preparation for battle. A warrior intent on violence lingered near, and his senses hunted the source of the danger. He did not imagine every male onboard his ship was overjoyed with adding alien genetic material to their race, but it was either mating with compatible species, or dying out.