Excerpt Chapter One
“I can’t wear this! Not out in public where everyone can see me!”
Lissa stared down at herself in horror. The gown her new friend Kat had squeezed her into was the complete opposite of the flowing white priestess robes she was used to wearing. It was a rich royal purple and the material was stiff and binding. But it wasn’t the cut or color of the gown that Lissa objected to—it was the fact that it was completely obscene.
“Lissa—” Kat began in a reasonable tone of voice but Lissa shook her head.
“Just look at me, Kat! I…I’m exposed.” She pointed down to the stiff molded bodice of the gown that cupped her breasts in a tight embrace. The problem was, the gown only cradled the bottoms of them, leaving her nipples bare except for the tiny pieces of pale gold lace that fanned out of the tops of the cups to act as flimsy shields. They covered her—barely—as long as she stood perfectly straight and didn’t shift around too much. But what if I need to move quickly? What if I drop something and need to pick it up? Lissa was sure if that happened, she would fall out of the dress completely, baring herself to anyone watching.
“You’re fine as long as you don’t bend down,” Kat said, obviously having the same thought. “Just stand up straight and don’t wiggle.”
“But…but what about the bottom part?” Lissa motioned to the lower half of the gown. The skin tight bodice hugged her waist and hips, then flowed out behind her in an elaborate, shimmering, crystal encrusted train. It was the place where the bodice split, a few inches below her bellybutton, that worried Lissa. The dress showed her crotch in a most provocative manner.
“I know it’s kind of…revealing,” Kat said, frowning. “But you do have decorative panties to go with it.”
Decorative was a good word to describe them, Lissa thought, because they really weren’t very practical at all. A tiny triangle of gold lace that matched her nipple shields barely covered the small thatch of blonde curls at the apex of her sex. The back of the panties was a string—just one little gold string that ran up the back of her behind. Lissa had never worn undergarments like this before—Kat had called it a “thong”. Lissa called it perverted.
“Please, Kat,” she begged. “I just can’t. It’s not only that I’m ashamed to be seen in public like this. It’s…it’s that Saber will see me too.” She could barely force her kinsman’s name from her dry throat but she made herself do it anyway. He was the real reason she didn’t want to appear in this obscene getup. Lissa was naturally modest and shy but his was the only opinion she really cared about. And if he saw her looking like this…What will he think of me? Lissa asked herself and was too afraid to contemplate the answer.
She and Saber were of the same clan—the Sun Clan of the Touch Kindred—and she had been adopted into his family after her parents had died. There was no blood tie between them but according to the strict laws of her people, the two circumstances made Saber her older brother twice over and, as such, completely off limits.
Despite this taboo, Lissa had allowed an illicit love to grow between them—a love she had subsequently ended. But to her lasting shame, she still had feelings for the tall warrior with the hazel eyes. He had comforted her after the death of her family and defended her from the bullies at the school they both attended as children. He had also saved her life when she was wandering in the desert, dying of dehydration. With so much history between them, how could she not still feel something for him? How could she not care what he thought?
A look of compassion and understanding filled Kat’s blue eyes. “I get it, doll, and I’m really sorry,” she said softly, breaking into Lissa’s ragged thoughts. “But this is how they dress on Yonnie Six. In fact, this is one of the more modest designs—believe me, I searched through all of them. Those Yonnie girls aren’t afraid to show a little skin.”
“A little skin?” Lissa looked down at herself again. “Are you telling me there are worse gowns than this in the cube you packed for me?”
Kat cleared her throat and looked uncomfortable. “Just a few. Mostly the ones for more formal occasions like court balls and banquets. It’s a good thing the Mother Ship has a clothing pattern replicator—I never would have been able to sew them all myself.”
“But I can’t be seen like this,” Lissa protested.
Kat frowned. “You have to be, Lissa. You have to fit in or your mission is going to flop the minute you step foot out of the shuttle. How do you expect to recover the ancient scrolls that tell how to defeat the Hoard if you don’t blend in with the rest of the Yonnites?”
“You look gorgeous,” Kat said firmly. “And don’t just take my word for it.” She turned toward the door, smiling. “Hi Saber. How do you like your new outfit?”
Her heart in her throat, Lissa whirled around before she could stop herself. She found herself face to face with her kinsman.
“Hello, Lissa,” he said quietly.
“Saber. I didn’t know you were here. I…I didn’t want you to see me like this.” She crossed her arms over her nearly bare breasts protectively and took a step back.
“You’re beautiful, as always,” he replied, his deep voice husky with emotion. “But I won’t look if you don’t wish me to.” Resolutely, he kept his changeable hazel eyes, flecked with gold and green, fixed firmly on her face.
“Thank you.” Lissa dropped her own jade green eyes and found that she couldn’t show him the same courtesy he had given her. Though she tried not to look, her gaze wandered up and down the length of his large, muscular body. He was tall—over six foot six as all Kindred were—and his skin was a deep, natural tan. She couldn’t help noticing that his chest was bare, revealing shoulders twice as broad as her own and rippling abdominals. Tight black trousers made of some stiff, shiny material clung to his lean hips and long legs. Lissa tried not to look at the crotch where an impressive bulge pressed hard against the fastening of the skin-tight trousers. Instead, her eyes skipped upward to his throat and her breath caught in her chest.
“Saber,” she whispered, forgetting about her own state of dress—or undress—in her worry. “What…what is that?” Her hand darted up to touch the thick black collar fastened around his corded neck. Dangling from it was a long leather strip with a loop at the end.
“It’s a leash,” Kat said matter-of-factly, stepping forward.
“A leash?” Lissa looked at her, horrified. “But…you can’t expect Saber to wear something like that. He’s not an animal or a pet for the Goddess’s sake!”
“No, he’s lower than that—he’s your body-slave,” Kat said. “And you’d better get used to treating him like one or you’re going to blow your cover before you even get your foot in the door at Yonnie Six.”
Lissa opened her mouth to protest but Saber cut her off.
“She’s right, Lissa,” he said quietly. “Males on Yonnie Six are considered little better than domestic beasts. They exist only to protect and serve their mistresses.”
“And you’re willing for me to treat you like that? Like a slave? Like a pet?” Lissa demanded. Saber was a Kindred warrior—a proud male who was next in line to be the leader of their people. And she…she was just an orphaned girl with no family who had been exiled from her home world for the sin of caring for him. How could he humble himself to act like her slave?
Saber frowned, as though guessing her thoughts. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep you safe,” he rumbled. “If that means wearing these clothes and calling you ‘mistress’, I’ll do it without hesitation.”