Today was Katsu Shinobi’s thirtieth natal day. She’d heard
such milestones upset Human females. They were considered “on
the shelf” once they hit the third decade mark. Given that her
race could expect to live centuries, at thirty Yama were scarcely adults.
Consequently, it was not the weight of the years she’d experienced
that lay heavily on Kat, it was the years she had left to go.
Her natal day was the one day she and her father always spent together.
They’d share a pot of Imperial White at her dead mother’s
favorite teahouse, then reminisce with pleasant stories over platters
Because that was not to be this year, Kat closed her rim-to-rim silver
eyes and tipped her lovely face to the morning sun. She reminded herself
she had reasons to be thankful. She might be exiled, but she was safe
and her enemies far from her. The Human world, so encroaching in other
places, had made few inroads here. Ever since the Humans discovered
a hidden Yamish city forty years before, Kat’s people had put
up with being called demons. She supposed it natural her race would
seem infernal to the more primitive Humans; they’d barely invented
electric power, after all. Also natural was the fascination the other
race’s emotions held for her kind. Human energy affected Yama
like a drug—something sensible people avoided. This province where
Kat had been banished lay far from the peninsula that connected Yamish
lands to those of Humans. The area was less novelty-loving than the
capital. As a result, it remained culturally unconfused.
Perhaps just as important, spring had reached Ningzha. The sky was a
bird’s egg blue, and the scent of cherry blossoms lent a kiss
of sweetness to the soft air. The lush walled garden in which she sat
was an ode to nature and the landscaper’s art. Dragonflies flitted
from bloom to bloom, their colors as carefully selected by the master
gardener as a princess’s party gown.
“Cousin Kat!” cried the very voices she’d been hoping
to avoid today. “Why are you hiding all the way out here?”
Quashing her dismay, Kat turned on the rustic bench to greet her three
female relatives. The girls were fifteen, seventeen and twenty, all
blessed with the ruler-straight blue-black hair that was the Yamish
ideal. Their ankle-length silk robes—only two layers in this nice
weather—boasted the latest fashionable hues: lemon, lime and orange,
as it happened. All her cousins were pretty; Yamish genetics rarely
left room for ugliness. They were not, however, as elegant as their
youth led them to believe. Jules, for one, should have eschewed anything
to do with yellow, no matter how popular it was that season.
“Good morning, cousins,” Kat said calmly. Her overgown was
a less fashionable but flattering bronze, the color suiting both her
milk-and-roses skin and the antique brass undernotes in her black hair.
Satisfied with her appearance if not her prospects, she smoothed the
silk neatly down her thighs.
“Is it true?” Jules demanded, her flush betraying an undignified
excitement. As the eldest daughter in her family and of marriageable
age, she merited a pair of guards. The two males who accompanied her
this morning were not the House of Feng’s shining best. This was
probably due to Jules being the eldest daughter of a junior branch of
that illustrious family. Though tall and muscular, the guard to Jules’s
right had eyes in slightly different shades of silver. The one to her
left was marred by a strawberry birthmark stretched along one cheekbone.
Presumably, the imperfections had no bearing on their competence. Certainly,
they were too professional to react to Kat’s quick perusal of
Rather, they almost didn’t react. The one with the birthmark,
whose face was as smoothly sculpted as a statue, shifted the merest
bit in his parade stance. Kat pulled her gaze from his otherwise handsome
features with a small effort.
“Is what true?” she responded to her cousin.
“Did Prince Avel’s eyes turn black for you at his dinner?
Did Aunt Miry exile you because she was hoping Cousin Mara would snag
Both claims were accurate. Prince Avel had displayed the involuntary
ocular reaction that signified sexual and genetic compatibility, without
which no blue blood’s marriage could be sanctioned. Other classes
might find spouses where they liked, but royal genes—and royal
libidos—were demanding. Producing heirs required close matches.
It was also true that Kat’s stepmother had hoped to catch the
prince for her daughter. Neither of these facts, however, were politic
“What did your mother tell you of the matter?” Kat evaded.
“She said it must have been a trick of the light, but I don’t
believe it. When that other prince’s eyes turned black for you
last year, Aunt Miry sent you away then too. I think she’s annoyed
your mother passed better genes to you than she did to her own daughter.
People still remember Miry ‘discovering’ her royal blood.”
Kat remembered this herself, for it had caused quite a stir. Mara’s
birth nine months after Miry’s marriage should have put the whispers
to rest for good. A prince couldn’t get a child on a nonroyal.
Sadly for Miry, her daughter’s inability to attract a mate resurrected
the wagging tongues. Now people claimed her line wasn’t royal
“Aunt Miry says you’re coarse,” Jules’s middle
sister, Jade, piped up—in what she must have thought was a superior
tone. “She says your pheromones call to so many princes because
you don’t have a perfect mate.”
Not as confident as her older sister, or as respected as Katsu, Jade
was prone to envy. Because Kat knew this and remembered what it was
to be seventeen, she answered the girl gently. “I imagine that
could be true. Not every princess has one ideal husband.”
“Aunt Miry says I will,” Jade declared.
Her little sister, Joy, was young enough make a rude noise. She was
also smart enough that, when Jade spun to face her, she’d retrained
her countenance to proper Yamish stillness. Kat had to tip her chin
down to hide her smile. Once her amusement was under control, she looked
up. To her surprise, the handsome guard with the strawberry birthmark
was gazing directly into her eyes.
Perhaps he was as shocked to be caught staring as Kat was to be stared
at. The circumference of his pupils jumped wider. Kat blinked, then
he did, and then both of them looked away. Kat thought the other guard
might have glanced sharply at his partner, but managed to control herself
enough not to check. Her thighs were dangerously warm, and her face
threatened to become so. It simply wasn’t done to connect with
servants in a personal way. She wished she hadn’t noticed how
good looking the guard was, in spite of his facial flaw. His shoulders
were positively monstrous in his gray fighting robes. He’d been
bred to be strong, of course, but it was too, too trite for unattached
Yamish females to develop yens for their protectors.
Kat had her quirks, but she trusted being trite wasn’t one of
“We’ve planned a boat ride on the lake,” Joy said,
thankfully oblivious to Kat’s struggle. The girl was bouncing
just a little on the balls of her jeweled slippers. “We’re
hoping you’ll join us.”
“Do say you will,” Jules seconded more moderately.
Kat rose from the bench she’d intended as her sanctuary. The lake
was an easy walk outside the garden’s wall.
“It would be my honor,” she said. Maybe she’d have
been more peaceful without the girls’ company, but she was fond
of them, and her youngest cousin was a very likable wild thing. Joy
didn’t have much longer to be irrepressible: two years, at the
outside, after which she’d settle into being a well behaved young
lady. Today, that inevitability made Kat reluctant to miss a minute
of her effervescence. In truth, it made her a little sad.
It had been too long since Kat herself had been inappropriate. In the
deep dark privacy of her mind, she sometimes thought it would be fun
to live as freely as the primitive Humans.
True to form, Joy ran ahead of her sisters, her expensive gown trailing
damply in the flower dotted grass. To Kat’s surprise, and a little
to her discomfort, the handsome guard fell into step beside her. He
was very tall—at least a hand span above her own royal height.
“You don’t travel with an escort?” he commented quietly.
His gaze was on Jules’s back—where indeed it belonged. As
was also right, his partner guard walked by the other girl.
Kat should have had an escort. She was the eldest daughter of the Shinobi
clan. Regretfully, her stepmother had resented her from the start. At
first, the cause was the respect with which Kat’s father and the
House retainers regarded her. Later, it was her father’s failure
to leave off honoring—if only occasionally—his first wife’s
memory. When Katsu’s greater appeal in princely circles became
apparent, distaste turned into hostility. Kat saw little use in complaining
to her father. He wasn’t unhappy in his second marriage, nor was
Miry the sort to change her behavior for anyone. She’d simply
have become slyer, and Kat preferred her enemies out in the open.
“Bringing an escort would have caused my House an inconvenience,”
she said aloud. “I’m sure no harm will come to me here.”
The guard said nothing, though he did glance at her again. He walked
an arm’s length away, his strides shortened to match hers. She
supposed his question could be professional. If she had no guard, he
might be expected to protect her. Though this was the likeliest explanation,
she couldn’t deny her skin tingled on the side of her body nearest
his. Annoyed by her lack of discipline, she sought to push the sensation
from her as they reached the reed-fringed bank of the sparkling lake.
Two light rowboats were tied to the wooden dock. Their lack of a power
source increased their picturesque appearance. This boat ride, evidently,
was to be an old-fashioned exercise.
“You’re in my boat,” Joy announced to Kat. “You
too, Hattori. We’ll trounce Ciran and the others with no trouble.”
Hattori seemed to be the name of Kat’s walking companion. He bowed
to Joy as if she hadn’t committed a breach of etiquette by not
calling him Citizen.
“As you wish, Princess Joy,” he said gravely.
Joy giggled, and the back of Kat’s eyes actually stung at the
merry sound. If she was this emotional, maybe her uncelebrated natal
day was affecting her. Both guards stepped into the rowboats to steady
them, their highly trained grace barely causing the hulls to slap against
the water. Nimble as an elf from a Human story, Joy hiked up her gown
and hopped into Hattori’s boat without help. Then Hattori held
his hand politely out to Kat.
It was natural that their eyes would meet, but not that her heart would
start beating faster. Hattori’s pupils were more enlarged than
before, like ink shining in his molten silver irises. Kat put her hand
in his and he clasped it firmly. His skin was warm, his palm callused
from sword play over most of its surface. She couldn’t help imagining
that roughness sliding over her breasts.
“Princess,” he said low and huskily.
She nearly stumbled at the gravelly sensual sound. He had to catch her
elbows to help her sit without falling. When he released her, confident
she wouldn’t capsize the boat, his narrow nostrils flared.
Kat’s hand fluttered to her throat before she could stop it. Hattori
had an erection. She didn’t dare look at it directly, but the
engorged shape had altered the fall of his fighting trousers. The knowledge
of his arousal ran through her veins like fire, swiftly heating the
soft flesh between her legs. The wetness Hattori had probably scented
grew. She was more affected—more aroused, to be frank—than
she’d been for Prince Avel at his dinner.
With the slightest hitch in his movements, Hattori lowered himself to
the seat that faced hers. He’d be rowing backwards while she and
Joy rowed ahead. From the tiny flickering grimace of his facial muscles,
Kat concluded sitting down was uncomfortable. The glimpse she’d
caught of his genital bulge suggested he was endowed as well as erect,
perhaps approaching the size of a royal male. The men of her class were
the most prodigious of all Yama: longer, thicker, and so addicted to
sex when they were in heat that they literally lost all sense. The lower
classes didn’t experience rut, but if Hattori’s organs of
procreation were as large as a royal’s, his pain might indeed
Kat’s desire to steal a longer look was shamefully strong.
“Grab your oar,” Joy twisted around to urge her from the
front of the boat. “We need to be ready when Jules says go.”
“We’re not racing,” Jade insisted with icy seventeen-year-old
“Oh let’s,” Jules pleaded, causing Jade to frown at
her older sister’s betrayal. “I’m not too old for
a bit of fun. And if our boat wins, I’ll give you that diamond
hairpin you’ve been pestering me to borrow.”
Pretty jewels were Jade’s weakness, which Joy could not fail to
know. “Race,” the youngest Feng daughter chortled, her fist
pumping the air with delight. “Race, race, race!”
Both the guards nearly smiled.
“Around the rock and back,” Jules said, laying out the rules.
“First one to touch the dock again claims the prize.”
The guards, Hattori and Ciran, wrapped their hands around their oar
handles, each in the center position of their respective boats. Ciran’s
shoulders were as broad as Hattori’s, though his overall physique
was leaner. Both guards looked a good deal more purposeful than the
girls, who had one oar to the men’s two.
“Ready,” Jules said, her voice vibrating with anticipation.
“Set . . . go!”
They set off with a lot of splashing, but not much momentum.
“In synchrony,” Hattori instructed, as if Kat and Joy were
students. “Dig your oars into the water at the same time as me.”
Joy was laughing so hard she was gasping, but their crew still coordinated
itself first. Suddenly they were shooting forward at an impressive clip.
They weren’t the only ones to find this breathtaking.
“No!” Jules cried. “After them, my hearties.”
Kat suspected her cousin was mangling the Human phrase, but it hardly
mattered. The empress’s ridiculous Human Fiction Channel, approved
for broadcast six months ago, provided all any of them knew of pirates—or
manual boats, for that matter.
“Arrhh,” she growled in same spirit. “Look sharp,
or you’ll walk the plank!”
The lake wasn’t very large, and they were almost to the ornamental
boulder Jules had named as the turning point.
“Rock,” Hattori said, nodding to show he’d spied one
to his right under the water.
“Rock!” Joy crowed, mistakenly assuming he meant to exhort
her on. She dug in her oar and struck the very obstacle Hattori had
been warning her about. The collision of stone and paddle unbalanced
her. Quick as thought, the guard reached back and grabbed her waist
sash to keep her from falling out. Unfortunately, his speedy reaction
startled Joy even more. Her weight swung wildly as her arms pinwheeled.
Caught unprepared, Kat found herself catapulted over the side.
The lake was little better than ice melt this time of year. The cold
shock of the water closing over her was succeeded by a sharp crack against
her skull—probably the rock that had started the trouble. Kat
inhaled water, which her body tried to expel before she could surface.
Choking pulled more water into her, but her legs wouldn’t kick
her upward because her gown had tangled around her calves. Her hair
was doing the same to her face and neck, like a nest of weeds strangling
her. She heard a splash, and a vise seemed to seize her ribs as her
vision narrowed to one gray spot. The fear that gripped her couldn’t
be described. She was only thirty. She wasn’t prepared to die.
She returned to consciousness with her head safely above water and her
throat raw from coughing up half the lake. Hattori was behind her, towing
her toward the shore, his hold a warm and reassuring band beneath her
Kat thought she’d never felt anything so lovely.
She didn’t have long to enjoy it. Horror assailed her as she spotted
the sinking nose of the overturned rowboat.
“I can swim,” she gasped, trying feebly to do it. “Please
make sure Joy is all right.”
Given the circumstances, Hattori might be forgiven for snorting out
a laugh. “Your cousin is halfway to the dock already. You’re
the one who passed out with her scalp bleeding.”
“Oh dear,” Kat said. They were going to be in so much trouble.
* * *
Hattori carried Kat up
the path to the unoccupied stone guesthouse that overlooked one end
of the lake. She was dripping like the Humans’ horrific loch monster.
What had been a mild spring day became dead of winter now that she was
soaking wet. As she shuddered in Hattori’s arms, the guard’s
striking face turned grim.
“Curl closer to me,” he said harshly.
Kat couldn’t disobey the order. She felt better as soon as she
gave in and clung to him. Despite his own dunking, Hattori’s body
was fever warm, already starting to dry his clothes. He made a sound
as her face snuggled to his throat where his now limp undercollar left
bare skin. If her closeness pained him, he wasn’t shying away
from it. His nose was against her cheek, smelling her.
Jules used her thumbprint to key open the guesthouse’s faux wood
door. In actuality, the entrance was solid plasteel, as secure as a
diamond safe. The interior maintained the rustic pretense, though of
course it had the standard amenities.
“I’ll find blankets,” Hattori’s partner said.
“Find some for Joy,” Kat reminded through chattering teeth.
Hattori’s arms tightened around her. Rather than release her,
he sat in a big leather chair with her in his lap. The heat in the guesthouse
had been shut off, the exposed wood framing of the slanted ceiling only
“I’ll activate the power grid,” Jade volunteered.
“I’ll find the first-aid kit,” Jules said.
“You should be seeing a physician,” Hattori muttered under
his breath. “You might have a concussion.”
They were alone in the dim stone-lined room. Hattori didn’t move,
just closed his eyes and hugged her to him—as if grateful she
was alive. Kat doubted she’d ever been held like this even as
a child. The upper classes didn’t believe in displaying affection.
Hattori’s arms were big, his muscular thighs like iron under her.
Throwing appropriateness to the wind, she pulled her shivering legs
to her sodden chest. To her amazement, his lap was hotter than the rest
of him. She shifted in surprise, and the skin of his eyelids tensed.
“Are you all right?” she asked softly.
His lashes lifted, his pupils huge. His gaze was glassy enough to be
“Sorry,” he said, even more quietly than she had. “Everything
about you does it for me.”
She blinked at him, her body proving it did have heat in it. As she
stared, lips parted for her quickened breathing, the guard’s erection
lurched under her bottom. The wet silk she wore was thin, and there
was no mistaking his hardening. In truth, she wasn’t certain he’d
been completely soft in the cold water.
She tried to speak but didn’t know what to say. She had one hand
flattened on his chest, and his heart thudded strongly against her palm.
The tip of Hattori’s tongue came out to wet his upper lip, exposing
the dark forked marking that had inspired Humans to label their race
demons. Yama considered showing one’s lamril a sexual display.
Probably Hattori was just nervous, but Katsu’s cheeks heated with
a flush anyway.
That was a signal he couldn’t miss.
“Princess,” he whispered in soft longing.
“We are in so much trouble,” Jade moaned mournfully from
Kat started guiltily, though she doubted her cousin had noticed what
was transpiring between her and the guard.
With a slump that would have done a sullen young Human proud, Jade switched
on the smokeless gel burning fireplace. As the blue flames rose, Ciran
reappeared with an armload of green blankets. Unlike his partner, he
was perfectly dry.
“I can take her,” he said to Hattori. Hattori shook his
Close as she was, Kat saw the meaningful look that passed between the
men. Did Ciran guess what Kat’s presence in his partner’s
lap was hiding, and if so, did he disapprove? If he did, he wasn’t
going to press the issue. With a face as uninformative as a royal’s,
he bundled blankets around them both. The heavy wool felt delicious,
and Kat’s shivers relaxed at last. Her head fell to Hattori’s
muscular shoulder, causing him to let out a silent sigh. She was almost
too comfortable to notice when Joy padded into the room in her own blanket.
With her wet hair draggling around her, she looked closer to five than
“You’re bleeding again,” she announced, coming to
a halt in front of the chair.
“I could stitch her up,” Ciran offered. A hint of unsureness
colored his professional tone. “Or possibly a doctor would be
“No,” the Fengs said in a hasty chorus. As if to
emphasize their preference, Jules handed Ciran the first aid kit.
“If Father heard what happened, he’d dismiss you first and
ask questions later,” Joy explained. “You need to hole up
here until Kat is healed. Jules can say she decided Kat should have
you as guards instead. She can tell Mother she got tired of looking
at Ciran’s funny eyes and Hattori’s funny face. Mother’s
certain to believe her. We don’t mind how you look, but she’s
snooty about those things.”
“Your father might be justified in firing us,” Hattori said
“Pshaw,” Jade scoffed. “Joy would have taken that
boat with or without you, and Kat would have gone with her. Joy is her
favorite. What if they’d fallen in when you weren’t there?”
“I am stupid enough to have gone rowing by myself,” Joy
“Kat ought to have a guard,” Jules added with older sibling
finality. “Just because her stepmother is a viper doesn’t
mean our family should pinch credits. I’ll get new ones, and Kat
can borrow you.”
All the Feng sisters seemed to think the question settled—the
prerogative of princesses, Kat supposed. Less sure, and perhaps unused
to being defended by teenage girls, Hattori and Ciran exchanged another
look. Under her now warm bottom, Hattori’s cock continued to throb.
Under the blankets, his right hand patted her side.
It was a strangely gentle gesture, as if he were an old friend of hers.
“It would be better if we didn’t risk separation,”
Ciran agreed carefully, “which might happen if we’re dismissed.”
Kat thought this an interesting warning, though no one else noticed
“It’s decided then,” Jules said. “We’ll
tell Mother and Father that Kat’s feeling sulky on account of
being sent away from the prince. We’ll convince them she doesn’t
want to inflict her low mood on us.”
This excuse was closer to the truth than Kat wanted to dwell on. If
her stepmother had her way, she’d die unmated.
She wasn’t the only one who fought a grimace. Jade cursed as her
tiny pocket communicator buzzed to signal a call. She dug the walnut
size crystal out of her inside sash pocket.
“Balls,” she said, checking the readout that was now projected
into the air. “It’s Mother.”
The three girls hustled out of the guest house, where they could ill
afford to be seen by the miniature holocamera. Kat heard them arguing
about how far Joy needed to stand to be out of view.
Their girls’ departure shifted the mood. They were three adults
now, if not precisely three equals. Ciran looked at Kat. His eyes weren’t
funny, they were beautiful. One was silver-blue while the other was
touched by gold. Kat felt dizzy staring into them. The guard was calm,
but she sensed him measuring her.
It was an unusual look for a social inferior. Though Yamish age could
be hard to judge, the way he studied her gave the impression that he
was older . . . or at least more worldly.
“I wouldn’t do anything to harm either of you,” she
promised. “You probably saved my life today.”
A smile broke shockingly across Ciran’s face. Kat gasped, because
full-grown Yama—low or high—simply didn’t expose their
feelings this way.
“You won’t harm us,” he repeated humorously.
“Yes, yes,” she said, recognizing that she’d been
mocked. “I’m sure you two are dangerous characters.”
Ciran’s smile faded to a wry glimmer. “You’ve no idea
how dangerous we are . . . and we’ll try to keep it that way.”
* * *
Fortunately, the first
aid kit included a small surgical stitcher. Hattori continued to hold
her while Ciran closed the sluggishly bleeding gash at the edge of her
hairline. Kat was proud of herself for not making noise or squirming.
After her impromptu surgery was over, Hattori patted her again, then
carried her into the large shower room. He seemed willing to help her
undress, but Kat drew the line at that.
“I won’t faint,” she swore as she pushed him out.
“I’m only staying under the water long enough to warm up.”
His eyes glowed with the intensity of his interest, which he seemed
less able to conceal now that the girls were gone. “You make one
noise and I’ll be by your side, princess.”
His words sounded more like a warning than a promise of rescue. Kat
shivered in response, but not unpleasantly.
The sound he made on seeing her reaction was very close to a growl.
She shouldn’t have been surprised that the steaming spray took
little time to thaw her. What was surprising was the nervousness she
felt when she emerged—warm and dry once more in a silk bathrobe.
She’d been with men before. The premium royals placed on emotional
restraint didn’t extend to sex. In that arena, they were inclined
to indulge themselves, males especially being driven by their hormones.
The lower classes were reputed to like sex too, but Kat had never indulged
with them. She’d heard rohn males could ejaculate any time they
wanted, instead of only at the height of their cycles. Unlike royals,
they didn’t need a biologically suited mate to achieve a wet release.
She admitted she’d entertained a fantasy or two around that topic.
It seemed so abandoned for a man to spill when he pleased, though perhaps
it robbed their climaxes of suspense.
She shook her head at herself as she wandered into the now empty living
room. She had no business contemplating the different classes’
sexual habits. She wasn’t planning to seduce Hattori, no matter
how willing he was to succumb. She pressed her lips together, searching
the room for signs of where her supposedly assiduous bodyguards had
So much for Hattori leaping to her rescue if she uttered a sound.
Her irritation at their absence pointed up her arousal. The flesh between
her legs felt swollen, both tender and hungry. Evidently, her body had
its own ideas about what she ought to do.
She heard the faintest murmur behind her, where a hall led to two bedrooms.
She followed it, assuming the men were there. One door was ajar. Overcome
by curiosity and built for stealth like most Yama, she crept silently
She wasn’t sorry she’d been quiet. The tableau she found
was unexpected—and too personal to walk in on. Ciran and Hattori
were standing very close together in front of a small window. Wisteria
shrouded the thick security panes behind them, the alarm wires forming
little diamonds inside the layers of glass. Despite the foliage, the
sun penetrated brightly enough to light their profiles. Ciran looked
troubled, while Hattori seemed a shade angry. One of Hattori’s
hands rubbed up and down his own chest. This wasn’t just an unYamish
gesture, it was unguardlike too. If her people had a deity, it was self-control.
“You can’t give in to this,” Ciran was saying. “You
have to fight your attraction.”
“I can’t help the way I’m reacting. It’s as
if my body recognizes her.”
“You’ll give yourself away. You’ll endanger both of
“I know that,” Hattori said with clearly fraying patience.
“I’m telling you I can’t help it.”
The hand that had been rubbing his chest slid down to between his legs.
He was still hard, the bulge his fingers closed on larger than Kat had
imagined a rohn could get. Perhaps he’d meant to prove his point
to Ciran by underscoring how stiff he’d grown. If so, the grip
did more than he’d intended. He squeezed the shape that pushed
out his gray trousers, gasping for air as pleasure made his spine roll.
“Don’t.” Ciran clamped Hattori’s wrist and tried
to pull it away. “You’re going to make it worse.”
Abruptly Kat realized how raggedly the second bodyguard was breathing,
how his fighting trousers had arched up from his groin. Tingles of surprised
excitement swept down her spine. Unable to wrest Hattori’s grip
away from his cock, or to stop the knuckle-whitening massage it was
engaged in, Ciran shoved his hand under Hattori’s between his
thighs. As shocked as Kat was by this change in tactic, Hattori gasped
at the cupping pressure around his balls.
This was a favorite caress of royals, because their seed stored up between
cycles. Giving their sacs a good, deep rubbing helped relieve tenderness.
Kat had never been with a prince in rut, but her experiences with them
at other times had familiarized her with their general preferences.
What she hadn’t known was that rohn would also enjoy this, but
perhaps some pleasures transcended class. Ciran certainly was proficient
at the trick—not to mention extremely bold. As Hattori spread
his legs wider, Ciran edged his chest to his.
They stood as close as lovers about to kiss.
“Let me try to bring you off,” Ciran said. “Maybe
you’re not too far gone.”
Hattori’s head fell back as Ciran’s fingers kneaded him.
His ready acceptance of the help suggested they’d done this before.
The pressure Ciran used was strong enough to have the tendons in his
“I’m . . . pretty sure . . . it’s too late.”
Hattori’s voice was strained by his obvious urge to groan. His
own hand still tugged his shaft, though he was careful not to interfere
with the aid his friend was supplying.
“Still,” Ciran said throatily, “if there’s any
chance you could spill . . .”
Something snapped in Hattori. Without shifting his right hand from its
apparently crucial task, he started tearing at the tie to his outer
robe. Before he could even fumble, Ciran used his free hand to help.
Evidently, Ciran wasn’t that much more sensible than his friend.
“Yes,” Hattori said, his chest heaving up and down beneath
his undertunic, his fight for oxygen frantic now. Waves of heat flooded
Kat’s body. As one, the guards reached for his trousers. They
were too impatient to undo the drawstring. As they yanked, the waist
caught the head of Hattori’s erection. He hissed through his teeth.
Ciran pulled harder, and the monster won its freedom.
At the sight of it, Kat bit her lower lip. Hattori’s vein-girded
cock was as thick as a woman’s wrist and as dark as if it were
sunburned. Blood pumped through its tissues in heavy surges, the marvel
so stretched the head was strafing Hattori’s ridged abdomen.
His phallus was as regal as any emperor’s.
She didn’t blame Ciran in the least for falling to his knees like
a worshiper. Somewhat to her disappointment, he didn’t pull Hattori’s
trousers down all the way.
She supposed this didn’t matter to Hattori. He could see what
he wanted to. His hands fisted in Ciran’s hair, his fingers getting
a firm grip on the blue-black locks. Ciran’s hair only reached
his shoulders, but it was long enough to steer with.
“Lick it,” Hattori whispered. “Squeeze me and lick
Ciran licked him with the flat of his tongue, wetting him with saliva
as he surrounded Hattori’s scrotum with both his hands. Ciran
didn’t seem to mind when Hattori thrust the slickened knob in
between his lips. He let it in and sucked him harder, pulling deeply
enough to hollow his cheeks. Coupled with the firm kneading of his sac,
this was more than his fellow guard’s control could withstand.
Hattori shuddered and urged him closer, biting his lip until it whitened.
If he’d been royal and Ciran had been his mate, he’d have
been spurting kith by then. Saliva contained triggering hormones to
draw the aphrodisiac substance free.
“Wetter,” Hattori urged, his head arching back as his hips
rocked forward. Ciran widened his jaw and took him, but the change didn’t
help. “Shit. I don’t think I can come.”
Ciran released him, resting his brow on Hattori’s hip. “Your
balls are pulsing,” he said, his fingers still working them. “They
feel to me like you can.”
The growling noise Kat had heard before rumbled in Hattori’s throat.
“Fuck Muto Feng. Fuck him and his experiments.”
Kat didn’t know what any of this had to do with the ruling prince
of the House of Feng—not that she was going to ask.
“Shh,” Ciran soothed, kissing Hattori’s shaft—a
futile bid for comfort, if ever there were one. His cock had already
received too much stimulation. At this point, its skin was so red it
Unable to resist, Hattori steered the swollen head back between the
lips that tormented it. He swallowed a groan as Ciran swallowed him.
“Fate take it,” he swore. “I don’t want you
Ciran didn’t want to stop either. He sucked him inward fearlessly,
sounding as if he were getting him as wet as he could. Ciran was making
soft eager noises, his bobbing motions impressively loose and swift.
His ease could only be the result of a lot of practice. Imagining how
he’d gotten it, Kat pressed trembling thighs together. To her,
watching Ciran give such skillful head to his friend was incredibly
The skin of Hattori’s penis shone with spit each time it pulled
free of Ciran’s lips, its shaft swelling strangely thicker in
the middle—not just from the veins but the flesh itself. The organ
looked like it was ready to burst and Hattori like he very much wished
it would. He’d been watching Ciran work, the way most males would,
but his eyes now screwed shut in agony. Kat was so caught up in their
drama, she’d begun to hold her breath.
Her lungs let it out again without warning, and both men froze at the
“Shit,” Hattori said, catching sight of her first.
Ciran let go of him and turned. “Princess . . .”
“I’m sorry,” she said, retreating with her face aflame.
“I shouldn’t have spied on you.”
Hattori moved so fast she let out a very unYamish shriek.
Before she could stop him, he had her by the wrists, pinned back against
the wall just outside the bedroom. Every inch of his violently aroused
body blazed heat at her.
“I won’t tell,” she promised, squirming under his
weight. He hadn’t yanked his pants up, and his cock remained bare.
Considering how wound up he was, she guessed he couldn’t help
grinding against her. Even through her robe, she could feel his prick
hadn’t shrunk any. Between that and her voyeurism, she was embarrassingly
wet. “I know it’s none of my business!”
“Do you even know what you stuck your nose in?” Hattori
That forced her addled mind to think. He didn’t mean having sex
with a fellow guard. Fraternizing might be considered unmanly in some
quarters, but it wasn’t against the law.
“Your genes,” she burst out. “Someone spliced royal
genes in you.”
“And she guesses it in one,” Ciran observed drolly.
This was more problematic. Their culture’s survival depended on
the social strata staying distinct. Guards were selectively bred, and
that included genetic adjustment. Giving them upper class traits, however,
was prohibited. Commoners weren’t even supposed to know what upper
class traits were. Knowledge was power, and daimyo preferred to reserve
that for themselves. On the other hand, what top-ranked royal thought
he had to obey the rules? A prince like Muto Feng wouldn’t think
twice about experimenting for his own benefit.
Then a new thought occurred to her. If Hattori had royal genes, something
more than strong attraction might be unfolding here.
“Are you going into heat?” she asked curiously.
Hattori’s fingers tightened on her wrists. “Halfway there,”
he growled, apparently familiar with the term. “Just enough to
bung up my normal responses.”
“You’re responding to me,” she deduced. “I triggered
Hattori blew out his breath on a sigh. He released her wrists a moment
later, though he didn’t move otherwise. Maybe his body wouldn’t
allow him to. He braced his palms on the wall instead, doing a kind
of arrested push up in front of her. He was looking down at her breasts,
at the tightened thrust of her nipples against the silk bathrobe. Despite
the evidence of her interest, he didn’t press closer.
“I know you didn’t mean to wind me up, princess.”
His eyes rose to hers and held there, the expanded black of his pupils
nearly swallowing his irises. Staring back at him, Kat felt unexpectedly
shy. He was just a man then, not her inferior.
“Could I help?” she asked, trying to control her flinch
when his body jerked. “Obviously Ciran has some genes that yours
are fond of, but maybe his profile isn’t close enough.”
Hattori gawked at her for a moment. “You want to help me get off?”
“Some people would say I owe you.”
Hattori shook his head firmly. “Saving you was my job.”
Kat swallowed, her tongue curling out nervously. Hattori’s eyes
darkened at the sight of her lamril. He looked like a prince with his
gaze gone so close to black. The thinnest rim of silver was all that
circled his pupils.
“Admit you want him,” Ciran advised. “He won’t
accept your offer unless you do.”
He seemed calm—watchful maybe but not like the thought of her
wanting his friend bothered him. The mystery intrigued her. Who were
these men? What were they to each other?
“I do want him,” she acknowledged, though she blushed for
the confession. She looked back at Hattori. “It’s like you
said. Everything about you does it for me.”
He moved as if afraid to scare her, one big hand coming up to conform
itself to her cheek. His thumb smoothed her eyebrow around its arch.
Simple thought it was, the contact tingled powerfully through her skin.
“I doubt I’ll be what you’re used to.”
“Who says what I’m used to is what I want?”
His lips curved slightly. “Would you let Ciran join us?”
“I don’t need to—”
“Yes,” Hattori said, cutting off his friend’s demur.
“You know you like it when we share a woman. I’d like you
to share this one, if she’s agreeable.”
Kat would have felt shut out if Hattori’s hips hadn’t settled
on hers just then. His bent knees evened out their heights, pushing
between her thighs to brace his weight on the wall. He rolled his pelvis
to her, the motion luscious and arousing as it squeezed the living heat
of his erection into her mound. He sighed with pleasure and she did
too. He felt so good it took a moment for her brain to turn over. When
she spoke, her voice was husky.
“You and Ciran have been together a while.”
Hattori was dragging his smooth-shaven cheek up and down her neck. “Fifteen
years. Since we were assigned to the same dorm room at the Feng palace.
Ciran’s talents saved my sanity more than once.”
He turned his head to lick a bead of sweat from her collarbone. The
wetness of his tongue shook her knees. Fearing she’d lose her
balance, Kat clutched his broad shoulders. “He’s very fond
Hattori hummed his agreement against the crook of her neck, then stiffened
and drew back. “He likes women too, Kat. You don’t have
to worry about that.”
His hands slid to her waist as if he couldn’t stop touching her.
Kat realized this was the first time he’d used her name.
“It’s true,” Ciran said from closer than she expected.
“I guess you could say I’m omnivorous.”
Hattori’s diminishing self control cut short the debate. No permission
beyond a lack of protest would be required from her. Abruptly breathing
harder, he tugged the tie of her robe loose. When her front was bared,
he took half a step back to look at her. Kat knew she was pretty, maybe
even prettier than most. Her breasts were high and pointed, her limbs
graceful and firm. When Hattori’s gaze ran over her curves, she
truly felt beautiful. She let the robe drop from her shoulders.
“Princess,” he said, her title a word of praise.
He surprised her. He reached for one small breast with two hands, molding
it higher as his thumbs rolled its painfully tight nipple. Ciran stepped
next to him, shoulder to shoulder, and began doing the same thing. They
were one person in their dexterity. Both were hard, both gentle, both
blessed with the swordfighters’ calluses she’d dreamed of
touching her. Kat’s nerves took about two seconds to overload.
She cried out as the men bent to kiss her nipples. Their lips molded
around her, their tongues flicking the aching nubs in identical rhythms.
The simple sight of their hair mingling together made cream run from
This was a fantasy she hadn’t known she harbored. She wanted to
memorize every detail to replay later, but the myriad pleasures were
too much for her blurring brain. Their strong hands held her as she
began to thrash.
“I can scent her,” Ciran gasped against her breast. “She
smells of lilacs and cinnamon.”
Hattori moaned at the reminder of what he already knew. “Lift
her for me,” he said, his voice almost too thick to decipher.
“I need to take her now.”
His eyes were completely black, his muscles shaking with a fine tremor.
Kat was shaking too but not as subtly. She was so ready to be ravished
she needed new words for it.
“Step forward, princess,” Ciran instructed.
She stepped and the second man moved behind her, between her and the
wall. Hattori uttered a longing sound. Plainly, this was a scenario
he enjoyed playing out.
“Twine your arms around his neck,” came Ciran’s quiet
Kat complied, then jerked as Ciran’s hands took a firm grip on
her rear end. His skin was almost as hot as Hattori’s. “His
clothes . . .”
“We don’t have time to take them off. It’s enough
that you’re naked.”
Was this true, or was it part of the men’s mutual fantasy? Kat
didn’t have breath to ask. Ciran was lifting her and so was Hattori,
his hard hands gripping her thighs to spread them around his hips. He
was narrow here compared to his shoulders, but wide enough to stretch
her groin muscles. She twitched as his juddering length met the wet
pulsing of her folds. Her sex was smooth, as was the fashion, and the
slide of those satiny surfaces against each other made her spine dissolve.
Hattori’s breath rushed out of his lungs loudly.
“I’ve never done this before,” she blurted. “I’ve
never taken a man in heat. No male ever spilled in me.”
Hattori’s Adam’s apple bobbed. Like most of his gender,
he liked staking claims. “I’m going to flood you,”
he rasped. “If the Fates allow it, I’m going to drown you
She was going to drown him herself. Pressed tight behind her, Ciran
reached between them to shift his friend’s rigid cock to the right
angle. Hattori shuddered as the flaring head found her drenched entry.
“You burn,” he breathed and began pushing.
Kat hissed at the instant bliss of his penetration. Ciran added his
strength from behind. Like Hattori, he’d shoved his trousers under
his cock, his shaft and balls squashed against the curve of her ass.
Though he wasn’t as big as his partner, his blood beat faster.
Maybe it was fickle to enjoy that, but Kat couldn’t help herself.
Despite the assistance she was receiving, getting Hattori in her wasn’t
easy. He was very thick and there was a lot of him to engulf. His breath
whined out when he was halfway, sweat rolling like liquid diamonds down
“I can’t,” he said, the muscles in his jaw clenching.
“I’m trying to make myself smaller, but I just can’t.”
Most Yamish males could contract or expand their erections at least
somewhat. This was under normal circumstances, though. No sensible royal
female expected her partner to constrict himself when he was in heat.
Instincts more powerful than he was didn’t allow for that.
Feeling for him, Kat stroked the side of his worried face. “Don’t
try. Just go as far as you can.”
“I want all of you, Kat. I want my cock all the way inside.”
His guttural admission almost made her smile. She pressed her lips to
the strawberry mark that was supposed to mar him, then brushed her mouth
softly over his. A small, resonant sound broke inside his chest. To
Yama, kissing was more intimate than sex. Married couples didn’t
always do it, but Kat wanted to with him. She licked his lips with her
lamril, causing them to tremble and part for her.
“Yes,” he sighed. “Oh please, yes.”
Their mouths sank into each other, tongues reaching deep and stroking,
the fit immediate and welcome. Kat’s arms wound tighter behind
his neck. Doing this felt illogically right to her. He tasted like some
sweet tangy wine she’d been waiting all her life to drink. They
hummed their pleasure into each other’s throats.
Perhaps sensing her relaxing, Hattori gathered his muscles and thrust
his hips at her. Ciran did as well, his mouth open on her shoulder.
Their coordinated efforts gained Hattori another inch into her.
“Fate,” Hattori moaned, drawing his tongue out only to push
in and suck again. “Oh princess, you’re paradise.”
His hands ran over her body, as if he wanted to memorize her. His rocking
thrusts continued, gradually working him deeper. His movements weren’t
hard, but they were getting harder, so she supposed the female essences
in her cream were having an effect. Neither he nor Ciran seemed to mind
bumping each other’s hands as they caressed her. She could tell
the inadvertent touches excited them, and their excitement excited her.
Ciran only hesitated when his big hard palm fanned her flat belly. His
fingertips were inches from where his friend entered her.
Sensing it wasn’t her the guard hesitated to reach for, Kat drew
one hand down from Hattori’s neck. She smoothed her fingers over
“Ring him,” she said. “Rub his cock where he can’t
shove it inside of me.”
Ciran did it. Both men must have enjoyed this, because the pressure
of the big hot bodies on either side of her increased.
“Shit,” Hattori hissed.
Ciran had taken her suggestion one better. He was twisting his thumb
and two fingers around the base of his friend’s erection, as if
it were a jar in dire need of unsealing. The men found this game as
thrilling as she did. Hattori heaved at her, groaned, then set his feet
and did it again.
Her body was too excited to resist the extra force. He was in her then,
penetrating her completely but for the ring Ciran’s fingers formed.
She and Hattori both moaned loudly. The head of his penis was squashed
to the end of her. It amazed her that she could feel it, that she had
nerves to register this deep intrusion. She couldn’t remember
feeling this with other men. Hattori seemed to relish the sensation.
His hands clamped around her bottom, like he’d stay right where
he was forever.
Kat knew he wouldn’t. No matter how good he felt, his body was
incapable of remaining still. As if to prove it, he ground ferociously
into her for about five heartbeats.
“Fuck,” he snarled and let loose with all his might.
Ciran couldn’t shove then. All he could do was protect her from
being battered against the wall. She gave thanks the females of her
class were resilient. Hattori’s thrusts were glorious: long, thick,
with that wonderful extra swell in the middle of his shaft. The added
pressure did things to her sexual nerves, things she hadn’t known
them capable of. She gasped for air as a quick orgasm struck like a
She knew she’d just gotten him wetter.
“Again,” Hattori ordered, his hips working like he wanted
to paint every cell on his cock in her essence, and from every possible
angle. “Princess, do it again.”
Ciran grunted, his muscles straining stiff as stone behind her. His
cock strafed up and down the curve of her ass. From the feel of it,
he was very close to going with her. Hattori must have recognized the
“Don’t come,” he said harshly. “You know where
I want you when you spill.”
Ciran cursed but stopped rubbing himself against her so hard and fast.
Brief though it was, the exchange opened a window to their sexual preferences.
Hattori liked being fucked, and truly it was no wonder, if his experimental
genes were doing what she suspected. Royals had kith glands piggy-backed
on their prostates. In the later stages of heat, they craved few things
more than having both well pounded. If nothing else, the predilection
pushed the upper ranks to erotic adventurousness, whether through toys
or additional partners.
“Do you itch yet?” Kat asked, unable to contain the intrusive
“Like I’d welcome a regiment back there,” Hattori
“Has your kith ever risen?”
Hattori jerked his head no. Now that she was looking for signs, she
noticed he was squeezing his ass together each time he thrust into her.
“It just . . . feels like it should.”
He groaned as he treated her—and himself—to an especially
lengthy plunge. “Sorry,” he said. “Don’t think
I can talk anymore.”
She let him focus on his pleasure; let him focus on hers, if it came
to that. He knew how to make her come, and Ciran knew how to help. She
didn’t think she could have stopped them even if she’d been
inclined to. Too many fingers were finding too many sensitive spots.
She lost count of her orgasms though, strangely, none prevented her
from wanting more. Each time she grew creamier inside, Hattori’s
efforts became more crazed. She wondered if they ought to stop. If he
couldn’t come, maybe continuing would be cruel. The arousal of
males in rut could rise indefinitely, but—without release—might
not recede for days. Hattori hadn’t even had a dry orgasm, which
normally he’d have done.
Then, all at once, everything he did slowed down: his breathing, his
thrusts, the long, low moans that escaped from him. He was driving into
her just as hard, but he was really paying attention.
“Fate,” he breathed, his eyes nearly rolling back. “Ciran.”
Ciran kissed the back of her neck. “That’s my cue, princess.”
Hattori had lost his strength to hold her, or maybe he just wanted his
weight powering into her from above. As Ciran slipped out from behind
her, Hattori lowered her to the polished wood of the guesthouse hall.
They lay at a slant, because the hall was too narrow to accommodate
their height. The hardness of the floorboards couldn’t lessen
the pleasure of being ravished in this new position. Ciran watched them
revel in it as he tore off his clothes. She was glad he wanted to be
naked. His body was hard—and more dangerous looking than she’d
foreseen. Pale thin scars marked the lean muscles of his chest.
“Wait,” she panted as he prepared to kneel.
He looked at her. Despite the thick hot organ being drawn so deliciously
in and out of her, she was caught again in the spell of Ciran’s
“Let me kiss your cock,” she said. “Let me do for
you what you did for him.”
Ciran didn’t expect that, and neither did Hattori. His tantalizing
thrusting slowed even more.
“You want to suck me,” Ciran verified.
Kat didn’t understand his doubt—unless the women he shared
with Hattori somehow failed to notice him.
“Yes,” she said. “I want to, and not just to thank
you for the pleasure you’ve given me.”
Hattori didn’t add his opinion, maybe because he couldn’t
speak. Instead, groaning, he tipped her up until they were coupling
on their knees. This position had new charms, but his head turned to
his partner, gesturing Ciran closer with a jerk of his chin. Hattori’s
pulse drummed visibly in his neck. Kat could think of only one reason
why this would be.
Hattori was looking forward to watching her fellate his friend. Happy
to oblige, she smoothed her hair neatly behind her. That earned her
a twitch from the organ inside of her.
Without taking her left hand from Hattori, she let her right smooth
over Ciran’s hip. The tensing of his tendons enchanted her, the
hair-trigger responsiveness of his nerves. In return, Ciran laid a hand
on her shoulder. His light clasp moved with her as Hattori’s rolling
thrusts rose and fell.
Clearly anticipating going weak in the knees, Ciran braced his second
palm on the opposite wall. “He can’t stop while you’re
doing me. He’s too far into arousal.”
Kat sensed this wasn’t a complaint. It wouldn’t have been
for her either. They’d happily work around Hattori’s needs.
Ciran sucked in a breath as she leaned to him. She licked his cock just
for pleasure, tasting his sweetness and swirling around the head. Beads
of pre-ejaculate welled from its center, which she found rather flattering.
His penis trembled, so she took him.
He slid into her mouth like steel wrapped in satin, hot and thick and
just long enough to give her a sense of accomplishment. Evidently wanting
more control over her, Ciran’s hand moved from her shoulder to
cup her skull.
“Oh that’s nice,” he said, guiding her to him as he
thrust carefully. “Kat.”
She loved the way this pair said her name. “Ciran,” she
murmured around him, and thrilled to his small shudder.
Excitement building, he pushed farther into her mouth. Hattori’s
breathing quickened as Ciran went in and out. His hands squeezed her
hips, ensuring she didn’t stray too far from his thrusts. Instinct
told her he wished he were licking Ciran.
“You’re as good at that as he is,” he gasped.
She wasn’t. No one could be. Nonetheless, it couldn’t be
denied that the second guard was having trouble holding back his climax.
The noises he made were broken, his guiding fingers stiff. Sucking him
harder felt wonderfully mischievous.
Hattori seemed enthralled by his friend’s struggle. “It’s
usually him going down on me. I never knew he’d look like this.”
This was reason enough to ring her lips beneath Ciran’s rim and
focus some good licks there. The taste of him grew stronger, the fluid
that wasn’t seed yet increasing in volume. She held tighter onto
his hip, some deep part of her longing to make him forget himself. He
groaned at the intensification of her tongue’s pressure.
“Enough,” he said breathlessly, pulling free of her. His
cupping hand slid down the side of her hair. “Thank you.”
Hattori’s fascinated gaze was locked on Ciran’s exceedingly
upright cock, at the evidence of her suckling shining bright on that
taut flushed skin. As if the sight were too much to bear, he closed
his eyes and turned back to her. His arms hugged her close as he buried
his face against her shoulder.
He almost looked frightened by what was coming.
Kat didn’t think that was true, though he trembled and held her
tighter as Ciran moved into place behind him. No, what caused this big,
lethal man to vibrate like a tuning fork was that he needed this so
much. He was vulnerable—not only to Ciran, whom he knew and trusted,
but also to her. Yama didn’t fancy being vulnerable, and guards
liked it even less. Ciran smoothed Hattori’s hunched shoulder
muscles and tucked himself close to him.
“She licked me,” he whispered next to Hattori’s ear.
“You’re going to feel her essence on me when I push in.”
If Ciran meant this as a warning, it didn’t prepare his friend.
Sound rattled in Hattori’s throat at the first intrusion. Apparently,
her genetics suited him, sensitizing his anal passage as Ciran pushed
into it. His spine stretched, his mouth, his breath coming hot and ragged
on Kat’s neck. He caught her hips to him in grips of iron. He
couldn’t thrust now, or at least he couldn’t withdraw. Her
cream had bespelled his cock, and he lusted after her depths too much.
Helpless to move other than squirming, he had to rely on Ciran to push
him over that final edge.
Ciran wasn’t shy about exercising power. His lean features hardened
with purpose, each strong thrust targeting the aching gland his friend
hid inside. Over and over, his drives massaged it, his angles shifting
but not the force he used. Kat could only imagine how that smooth swollen
crest would feel. Hattori moaned with pleasure, straining desperately
for climax. When the extra thickness in the middle of his shaft pulsated,
Kat’s desire coiled in sympathy.
“Almost,” Ciran rasped.
And then Hattori began to go.
She felt his face twist against her shoulder, felt the sudden liquid
heat shoot inside of her. Hattori let out a muffled shout and ground
his glans crazily deeper. He must have craved the extra friction, but
the pressure so deep within her sex triggered a fierce climax.
The effect of her added wetness was dramatic.
“Move,” Hattori begged like he was dying. “Both of
you, move faster.”
She and Ciran obeyed, humping him wildly from either side. It didn’t
matter that they weren’t in synch. Hattori writhed between them,
gasping, seized by more ecstasy than he could handle . . . or get enough
“Never,” he choked out a minute into it. “Never like
On and on, he abandoned himself to it. This much seed must have been
storing up for cycles, and understandably Kat was a partner he was eager
to take full advantage of. He flooded her as he’d promised, but
she loved the messiness of it. The profound relief he was displaying
moved her, his intensity catching. She was no more able to stop climaxing
than he was. Somewhere in the middle of the madness, Ciran groaned and
went over too.
He pressed his face to Hattori’s shoulder, his hands clamped on
Hattori’s heaving pectorals. The contortions of Ciran’s
expression suggested he’d needed this release as much as his lover.
Seeing this satisfied a tension Kat hadn’t known she had.
When all of them were sated, she sagged in Hattori’s lap. The
men weren’t as flattened as she was, but they hadn’t been
coming since the start. Hands ran soothingly over her, mouths pressed
by turns to her skin. Though these men were strangers, she’d never
felt so cared for. If it were an illusion, she didn’t want to
know. Perhaps they understood the yearning. Two male sighs echoed in
“There’s a prince-size bed in the next room,” Ciran
observed to no one in particular.
There was, and Hattori carried her to it, only staggering slightly as
he went. He lay down with her in his arms, then drew one hand down her
front and tucked it between her thighs. She suspected he liked the feel
of his seed marking her. Kat didn’t mind. She could shower later.
For now, she was too relaxed.
His other arm made a perfect addition to the pillow.
Close as they were, her hand rose naturally to Hattori’s face,
tracing its smooth carved lines. He lay on his left side, and the pillow
hid his birthmark. The perfection of what remained was new and interesting.
Hattori’s eyes crinkled as he pretended to bite one curious finger.
“You all right? No headache or dizziness?”
Kat’s eyebrows quirked. “Now you’re asking me about
signs of a concussion? After you introduced me to your personal earthquake?”
“I checked your eyes when I pinned you to the wall earlier. Your
pupils weren’t uneven.”
She remembered how blazingly angry he’d been—and how blazingly
aroused. “You’re a man with great powers of concentration.”
A cloth dropped to the carpet beside the bed. Though the platform was
sturdy, it creaked as Ciran’s weight descended on the mattress.
Hattori’s gaze flicked watchfully to his friend’s approach.
Kat didn’t think the reaction was jealousy, more like he wasn’t
certain Ciran would be welcomed.
“Your stitches didn’t strain while you were blowing me,”
Hattori made a sound that could have been a chuckle. “That I didn’t
notice. I was too busy watching the show.”
Ciran grunted, sighed, and snuggled up to the lower part of Kat’s
body. His head rested on her side above her waist, his groin finding
a comfy home against the back of her legs. He’d tidied up with
the cloth he’d dropped. His smooth lax penis was warm and clean.
The carefulness of the action struck her. When it came to sex, these
men knew how to please a woman. They were as skillful as they were passionate.
That being the case, the intimacy of cuddling—and whether she’d
like him doing it—had to be what he was insecure about.
Kat moved her hand to rub Ciran’s side. He butted her shoulder
blade with his silken hair, a hunting dog asking soundlessly for more
praise. Thinking he deserved it, Kat reached back to stroke his head.
“You’re so sweet,” Hattori said in a marveling tone.
Kat snorted, unconvinced that what she’d done with them fell under
“You are,” he insisted, and again came that note of the
tentative. “Sweeter than either of us scarred blades deserve.”
Kat thought before she spoke. She knew their previous assignments couldn’t
all have been as innocuous as guarding her cousins, but neither could
she believe them undeserving of kindness. Deep down, she knew they were
“You showed care for me,” she murmured. “And for my
cousins. And each other.”
“You see,” Ciran teased his friend from her side. “You
and I are sweet too.”
Hattori laughed, soft but unmistakable. He petted the long straight
locks that had fallen across her breast, not arguing any more. The niggling
tension in all of them released.
“Happy natal day,” he murmured.
Kat lifted her sleepy head from his arm. “You know about that?”
“Princess Jules instructed her sisters not to mention it this
morning. In case it bothered you.”
Overcome by emotion, Kat hid her face in his shoulder.
“Good present?” Ciran suggested, wriggling higher to share
the pillow. His long arm draped her companionably. She was glad he’d
decided this wasn’t presumptuous. When his fingers started playing
over Hattori’s bicep, her smile broadened. Hattori must have felt
her mouth curve. He let out a low and satisfied rumbling sound.
“The best present,” she felt bold enough to confess. “In
fact, this year’s gift was so good I might have to open it again
Hattori’s cupping hold on her breast tightened. His thumb fanned
warmly over her nipple. “All summer, princess,” he corrected.
“We three are going to get to know each other much better.”
“Much, much better,” Ciran emphasized.
Kat’s bright grin couldn’t be contained. Surely no exile
had ever been as nice as this one.
© 2011 by
Holly. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute this work in any manner
or medium without written permission of the author.
Shinobi isn’t your ordinary princess. For one thing, she’s
a Yama, a member of a supposedly demonic race Humans discovered living
secretly among them forty years ago. For another, Kat doesn’t subscribe
to the icy-hearted principles most royals swear by. She wants to live
life—maybe not as recklessly as Humans but as fully as she dares.
to sharing women, demon assassins Ciran and Hattori introduce Kat to the
pleasures of an intense ménage. Neither expects to lose their heart
to her, or that Kat's enemies will one day hire them to kill her.
bid for freedom will pit them against the icy dangers of diamond lands
and the alien comforts of a Victorianesque Human world. Most of all, though,
this daring trio will need to conquer the threat within. Only when they
put all their faith in love will they find happiness