Petra is determined to leave Morgath as soon as the next ship of human females arrives. She isn’t what the Morgath are looking for in a mate, but she wasn’t given a choice. Male after male rejects her because of something she has no control over, and with the holidays looming closer she does everything she can to avoid being rejected again.
Avoiding the hated holiday celebrations is easy. Hiding from a determined male who doesn’t care about her little secret isn’t easy. Kartoc is just as determined to claim Petra as his mate, and he will not allow anything to stand in his way, including Petra.
But Kartoc is keeping secrets of his own, and he has the perfect holiday gift.
Petra stared out of the clear glass window. Her breath fogged in little circles each time she exhaled, showing the little heart she’d drawn after her first breath had turned the glass foggy.
The rain of Morgath’s monsoon season fell in torrential waves, filling the palace training ground below her with what she knew was inches of water. Petra wasn't accustomed to the weather on Morgath. But then she wasn't accustomed to anything in her life right now.
This would be her first holiday season in space—or it would have been, if they hadn’t shunted her off to Morgath to become the mate of one of the males. No please, no thank you. No do you want to be the mate of a huge, scary, scaly male who is going to transform into a man so scrumptious you’ll be sure the gods cry each time it happens?
She was a number, a slot filled, and now she was stuck on this dangerous inhospitable planet until the next ship came with more human women determined to snag themselves a sexy winged alien as a mate.
Petra dropped her head, resting her forehead on the cool glass, and closed her eyes. It wasn’t that she didn’t want a mate. She’d give anything to have the kind of loving relationship her parents had had. It was just that she wasn’t what the Morgath males wanted in a mate, so there was no point in staying, and every day she did stay and had to stand by and watch the males claim and transform the other women, the bitter knife of her past twisted in her chest a little more.
Every day she had to stay and watch the palace prepare for the holiday celebration and listen to happy laughter was another day she kept to herself and avoided as many people as she could.
The slight sound of the door sliding open behind her forced her to straighten and lock her spine. She would not appear weak in front of these people, especially the males, and she would never let them see how much their rejection was hurting her.
Putting on a brave face and keeping her emotions hidden was a survival tactic she had learned years before, and it had proven more than useful here on Morgath.
The low hiss of the door shutting sent a bolt of alarm shooting down her spine. Everyone should be down in the Throne room. Who had searched her out?
Click. Click. Click.
Petra’s heart froze before she could turn to look, then took off to thunder in her chest. That was not one of the other women who had come to mate with the Morgath. That was a male behind her, and whoever he was, he just kept getting closer and closer, his claws clicking on the tiled floor.
What did he want? All the females who were looking for a mate were down in the massive throne room decorating for the party tomorrow. If he was here to ask her to mate, her answer was going to be the same as it had with the last five males, and it would continue to be the same.
The click of claws came closer and closer, and with each step Petra’s body tightened a little more, freezing her to the spot. Why wouldn’t he say something? Let her know which male it was, or tell her something to assure her he meant her no harm? She fought against the overwhelming need to turn and look, to see who it was. But if she did, he would think she cared that he was there, whoever he was, and she didn’t care, wouldn’t allow herself to care.
A rustle of wings right behind her startled a small sound from Petra. Oh, God! He was so close. Don’t turn! Don’t turn.
Heat bathed her back as the male stopped right behind her, so close she could feel his breath disturbing her hair. Petra shifted, the desire to run, to get away making her restless.
Hot breath wafted over the bare skin of her neck, sending a riot of goosebumps running down her arms and spine. She drew in an unsteady breath. None of the other males had ever come so close as to taste her or even smell her.
After the disaster of the first few matings, rules had been set in place, and now the Morgath males were required to ask their permission before they could taste a female to check for compatibility. This male was breaking the rules. But who was he?
A low growl twisted Petra’s stomach. She curled her hands into fists ready to demand he leave her alone, but the male spoke before she could.
“I’ve been watching you, little female.”
Petra’s eyes widened, and her stomach dropped.
Oh, Lordy, no! No, this couldn’t be happening. Not him, too.
She wanted to turn, to look up into his eyes and see the astounding color of them. No other male that she had seen had orange eyes. Only Kartoc. Only the male who oversaw hers and all the other females’ safety.