When the Alphan warrior Nakai captures a Xyran pirate ship, the last thing he expects is to have his heart stolen by a beaten, human male named Einian. He’s equally surprised by the ship’s other captive, a badly injured Xyran who’s apparently important to the human Nakai has rescued.
Nakai wants to court Einian and take him as his mate. But he can’t ignore the Xyran Sukh, in part because of Einian’s feelings for him … and in part for reasons Nakai doesn’t even want to admit to himself.
But when Einian’s life is in danger, Alphan and Xyran must work as one to find him, each finally willing to face the attraction between them.
But have they left it too late?
Be Warned: m/m sex, menage sex (MMM)
“You may not think so, but you are a guest here.” Nakai indicated his men with a sweep of his hand. “These men are here as much to protect you, as to ensure no one can accuse me of endangering other Alphans by tending to you here.”
“Why? Why am I not rotting in an Alphan prison?”
The Xyran’s tongue flicked out. To Nakai’s shock, the action produced a reaction low in his belly and heat in his groin. He cleared his throat, unwilling to risk his voice sounding husky to the Xyran’s ears. “Firstly, contrary to what propaganda is expounded on your home world, we treat all prisoners equally. Our prisons are clean, dry, and we offer a degree of comfort even to those who have broken our laws. Secondly, since you are injured, you would normally be in a military hospital. As I captained the ship that attacked your vessel, I have the right to ask to be responsible for your care. Thirdly, I did it for Einian.”
That got a reaction from Sukh. His eyes narrowed, and his fingers tightened in the coverlet. Although the Xyran only gave him the briefest glimpse of his true feelings, Nakai hadn’t risen to ship’s captain while maintaining control of his estate without proving his mettle repeatedly.
“What of the human?” Sukh asked.
Nakai made a show of smoothing his robe but watched the Xyran from the corner of his eye. “As you know, despite being badly injured himself, he seemed only concerned that we found and rescued you. I felt such concern should be heeded.”
“The human is soft.”
The hardness of the words was not matched by the Xyran’s tone. If anything he sounded a little gentler, but again Nakai gave no indication he’d noticed. Instead he shrugged, straightening up to look the Xyran in the eye. “On my world compassion is valued. What one man on his own will fail to accomplish can be achieved if he has the support of those who care.”
“And on mine the strong succeed, the weak fail. Standing is everything. Where you are, your place in the tribe, dictates whether you live or die.”
“Perhaps you should be grateful the human thought enough of your life to make sure you weren’t overlooked. Or you would be dead.” Nakai wasn’t prepared for the derisory snort from the Xyran.
“You call this living? Your physician felt I needed to know I would be crippled for life. The human’s compassion has sentenced me to a living death.”
The reaction was far from what Nakai had expected. He glowered at the Xyran. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” Nakai snapped angrily. “You lie there, wallowing in self-pity. The human has barely been conscious since his rescue, and still spoke of you, not of himself. My physician feared Einian would lose his fragile hold on the thread of life. You will recover, and regain all your strength. At worst you will limp. Hardly a living death.”
The Xyran stared at him. Clearly, Nakai’s outburst had taken him by surprise. Nakai opted for a tactical withdrawal while he was still ahead. “I will visit you again. Bring you some books to read.” He reached the door before he was stopped by a shout from the Xyran.
It was the first time the Xyran had used his name. Up to now whenever the Xyran had spoken to him, he’d only referred to Nakai as “Alphan”. Nakai turned slowly. “Yes, Sukh?”
The Xyran hesitated, as if unsure of how to react to the use of his name, or of how to phrase what he wished to say. Nakai waited patiently.
“How is the boy? Is he recovering well?”
Nakai allowed himself a slight smile. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. “He is very weak. The beating was brutal. But Kele fears his spirit, as much as his body, was hurt. Do you know of anything I can do that he might like? No matter how small. I will ensure he knows you asked about him.”
Sukh’s tongue flicked back and forth a couple of times, and Nakai watched the movement, his cock thickening. He closed his eyes, willing the incipient erection away. He wasn’t willing to admit his arousal whenever he was in the Xyran’s proximity.
“Music. Einian likes music. Pipes especially.”