Iara was a Kozue whose talent was peace and tranquility. Her parents sold her as a bodyguard to a royal house when she was just nine years old. Twelve years as a bondservant gave her an education that the Citadel continued when she escaped from a fate worse than death.
Partnered with Lock of the Sector Guard, she stifles her urge to scream. There is one man guaranteed to shake the calm she brings to others and she is stuck in a ship with him.
Lock admires Iara for her skill, her poise and her beauty. Finding a female Kozue without family or clan to protect her makes her a target, but her talent makes her formidable and very sexy to his senses.
Iara remained quiet as her father hauled her through the streets of the spaceport. Her dress tried to trip her feet, and her mother walked behind her, her head covered in dark netting the concealed her features.
The family bodyguards surrounded them and pushed through the crowds that gathered to see Kozue walk the pavement of Saroo.
Iara Hanikada stumbled but kept her head high. Her father kept his grip on her arm, but he eased his pace.
They continued through the spaceport to the administration centre. An escort was waiting for them.
The royal guard surrounded the man with the prefect markings tattooed on his face.
He stepped forward. “Is this the great talent?”
Battle Captain Rehzik Hanikada eased his daughter forward. “Here she is. You will take care of her as I have instructed?”
Iara blinked up at the man with the heavily tattooed face.
He smiled down at her, and she felt the attack coming a moment before the warrior struck.
Her father held his men back.
Iara turned to face the man coming at her with a knife. She held out her hand, and he paused in place, relaxing his arms and his mind coming to a slow, humming, calm state.
Iara looked back to the prefect and gave a small curtsy. Her mother had taught her the gesture just that morning, and she heard a small sob behind her.
Iara turned and walked back to her mother, taking her hand and filling her with calm and harmony. “This is where I need to be, Mother.”
“Be well. I will come back when I can to see you.”
“Remain safe, Mother. I will be here, alive and strong when you return.”
Iara squeezed her hand and bowed to her father. He bowed in return, and she walked to the prefect. “We can go now.”
She took his hand, and he blinked in surprise. “I don’t feel anything.”
Iara sighed, “Of course not. I am just not supposed to run around without an adult with me.”
He tossed a bag to her father, and it clinked with the sound of credit chits. “Well, then, shall we head to the palace? King Learith is eager to meet you.”
She nodded and straightened her shoulders. “I think we should since I live here now.”
He chuckled. “By all means, let us go to the palace.”
Iara tried to keep the tears back as they travelled through the city to the place where she would serve as bodyguard to the ruler of the world. They had paid her family a lot of money for her services, but they could have had her for the asking. There was no room for calm and harmony on a Kozue ship. They thrived on conflict and combat.
While she sat in the transport that took her to the palace, a few fat tears ran down her cheeks and she brushed at them, trying to remain calm and stoic.
She tried to remember that she was allowed to cry. After all, she was only nine years old.