The course of true love never did run smooth. Ryan is settling into his role as a new father and the royal consort of Mikos, the fierce and handsome Prince of Tygeria. He's still deeply in love and happy—most of the time. But the former Alliance colonel is a bit restless, and even though he loves his child and his mate, he needs a bit more to occupy his time. Mikos thinks giving him more babies to care for will help, but Ryan comes up with a different idea for some diversion and physical challenge by forming his own team for the dangerous Arena Games.
Meanwhile, Haggoz and Kevin are deeply involved in a much more serious game of their own. The king warned Haggoz that punishing his own mate and holding him prisoner would be nearly impossible, but Haggoz can't bear to be parted from him. Locked in a seemingly endless war between his love for the former marine and his duty to his king, Haggoz is struggling to survive. Just when it seems that they’re hopelessly deadlocked, Mikos and Haggoz go on what should be a routine mission against an ARes training facility on a distant moon.
When disaster strikes and word gets back to Ryan that Mikos and Haggoz are both in terrible danger, he embarks on a desperate mission to save them and bring them safely home. Ryan finds an unlikely ally in Kevin to help him save the men and discover that even though the course may be rocky, true love will always find its way.
“Why are you always in a bad mood?” Mikos asked.
“You, that’s why!” Ryan folded his arms across his chest. “And I’m not always in a bad mood—I was in a perfectly fine mood when I walked in here. I was simply telling you about something I’m going to do with my friends. I was not asking your permission! You forbid it. Do you have any idea how insufferable that sounded? You forbid it, my ass!” He turned and stalked over to the window and stood staring out. He felt like steam must be coming out of his ears like in some of the silly cartoon books Blake had given Mikol.
A tiny frown line formed between Mikos’s eyebrows. “Why do you keep bringing your ass into this? I’m sorry if I offended you, Ryan, but I can’t allow you to get hurt. I’m responsible for you, don’t you see?”
Ryan whirled back to glare at him. “No, Mikos. You aren’t responsible for me. What does that even mean? I’m a grown man, older than you, and I want to get out of this palace occasionally to exercise and compete with my friends. I’ve seen the games and they look like they’d be a lot of fun. Seriously, are you afraid I might get hurt or are you afraid we might get so good that we might challenge your team and actually win?”
Mikos made an unwise scoffing noise and Ryan could feel his eyes narrowing as he glared at him.
“Oh you think that’s impossible? Would you care to make a little bet?”
“What is this ‘bet’?”
“A wager. You know, would you like to gamble on it?”
Mikos quirked up his eyebrow. “Oh, a wager. Yes, I understand now. What kind of wager?”
“I’ll bet you that after we practice together for a few weeks, we can meet your team in the ring and kick their asses. Simple. And if we do, you have to publicly announce the formation of a new human league, admit that we’re tougher than you, and oh yeah, let me top you.”
“Yes. You know what that means.”
Mikos drew back as if affronted by the very idea. “Where is this coming from? And what’s wrong with the way I top you?”
“Not a thing. I enjoy it very much. Your lovemaking abilities are top-notch, and I recommend them highly.” Ryan smiled at him. “But just for a change—and to make the wager interesting—I want the chance.”
“I don’t like that idea.”
“Oh, I’m sure you don’t. And if you make sure you win our bet, you won’t have to do it.”
“This is silly.”
Ryan shrugged. “Well, if you’re scared….”
“Tygerians never get scared! I’ll take your wager, Ryan.”
Ryan grinned, feeling confident. He’d wanted to take care of Mikos this way for a long time, and he’d make sure he enjoyed it. He’d make it so good for him that he’d beg for more. The idea of Mikos begging him for anything sounded really good. He leaned in to grab a kiss, and Mikos angled a look at him.
“Wait a minute. We haven’t discussed what I’ll get if your team doesn’t beat mine.”
“Oh. We didn’t? Okay, what do you want?”
“I want you to put his foolish idea out of your head. For good. No more fighting with other men who are trying to hurt you.”
Ryan hesitated and then nodded, firming his lips. “Agreed. Anything else?”
Mikos regarded him steadily. “Yes. I want to spank you, nobyo. Properly this time without you fighting me and making threats. Not as a punishment you understand. I want you to put yourself over my lap and ask me to spank you until you squirm and come all over my lap. Then I want you to ask me sweetly to spank you again. Every night for a week.”
Ryan felt the blood rush to his face, and he glared at Mikos to hide it. “That will never happen,”
Mikos smiled, looking pointedly at his groin as Ryan tried to cover it with his hands. “Then you should make sure you win our wager, so you won’t have to do it.” He pulled him over and kissed him on the nose, then strode from the room, whistling under his breath.