Authors: Katie Reus Savannah Stuart
Claimed by the Warrior
Claimed by the Warrior
Copyright © 2015 by Savannah Stuart
Cover art and design by
Sweet ‘N Spicy Designs
Copyediting by JRT Editing
Digital Formatting by
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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author.
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Planet Lumineta, 2237
Aeron slid his arms around his mate from behind where she stood at the stove. He settled his hands across her slightly protruding stomach. She was five moon cycles along and he didn’t like her doing anything other than resting—which unfortunately seemed to annoy her.
Human females were too independent sometimes.
He settled his chin on top of her head. “Something smells good.”
“I’m trying to make
cake by myself.” She leaned her head back against his chest and let out a sigh. “I’ve missed you.”
Alarm punched through him at her wistful tone. Had he and his brother been gone too long today? “Hauk and I will change our work schedule so that—”
“No! You don’t need to change anything,” she said as she turned in his embrace. Smiling up at him, she wrapped her arms around his waist. “I always miss you.”
“You are certain?” He tucked a loose strand of vibrant red hair behind her ear.
Rolling her eyes, she stepped away from him and pulled a bowl of…something dark and semi-creamy from the cooler. The texture looked rubbery. She started to smooth it onto the cake. He’d had
cake many times before and that wasn’t what the icing normally looked like. He held his tongue and grabbed a container of water from the cooler. “Hauk should be home soon. One of his classes went late.”
“Is Finn coming with him?” She shot him a glance over her shoulder.
Brianna wasn’t Finn’s biological mother but since she’d mated with Aeron and Hauk almost a solar cycle ago, she’d considered their boy her own—and she didn’t like that Finn had recently gone into Samio training when he turned ten. But that was just the way things were on Lumineta.
Aeron nodded and smiled as he sat at the center island. “Of course. He misses you. How was work today?”
“Pretty good. I feel guilty but I left earlier than normal. I was starting to cramp and really just needed sleep I think.”
That familiar punch of alarm slid through him, but he forced it back. Brianna had told him and his brother over and over that they couldn’t freak out—her words—over everything to do with her pregnancy. It was hard though. Like the few human females on their planet, she was small and more fragile than Luminet females. And she was more petite than most humans he’d seen. “Perhaps you should put your feet up?”
“I will when I’m done with this.” The tone in her voice told him not to argue.
He resisted the urge to insist she rest. “Did you call the healer?”
“I did.” When he didn’t ask more she lifted an eyebrow. “That’s it? No questions?”
“I trust my mate to inform me if there’s something I need to know.” Even if it went against all his warrior instincts to demand answers and to demand that she quit her job and stay home. It wouldn’t make her happy and he knew it was simply a protective thing anyway. He had no desire to annoy or stifle his mate. She might be small in stature but her temper was that of a full-grown Luminet warrior sometimes.
She snorted and went back to the cake. As she smoothed on the last of the icing, she frowned. “It doesn’t really look like
cake, does it?”
No, but he wasn’t going to admit that. “Looks good to me. Did you ever talk to your supervisor about your day trip to visit the mountain clan?”
Her lips pulled into a thin line. “No, but you don’t have to worry about escorting me. Leilani was making a trip there this afternoon to go over the last minute plans for the—”
Aeron slid off his seat. “By herself?”
Brianna must have picked up on his tension because the previous annoyance at his over-protectiveness slid away. “Yes. She’s been working with their clan leader via email over the last moon cycle, so when she offered I thought she’d be the best fit since she already has a rapport with him. And I really didn’t want to make the trip. The transport platforms make me nauseous now. From your expression, I’m guessing that I made a mistake though?”
“No, it’s… The males there are more primitive than here.” He pulled out his communicator as he answered her.
She blinked at him as if he’d lost his mind. “More primitive?”
He didn’t want to frighten his mate so he nodded. “It’s nothing to worry about, but I need to take a trip there. I’ve sent a message to Hauk. He’ll be home soon, but I must go now.” Leilani was probably fine. Human females were different than Luminet females so the mountain clan likely respected that. And if she already had a relationship with the clan leader then he would keep watch over her. Aeron hoped.
“Should I contact someone?” Raw fear colored Brianna’s question.
Aeron shook his head, cursing himself for worrying her. Gently he took her face between his palms and brushed his lips over hers. “Everything’s fine. I’m just going to take a quick trip there and check on her. I’ll have my communicator on me.”
To his surprise Brianna didn’t pepper him with questions as he stepped onto their in-house transport platform system. Which meant she was worried about her friend and wanted him to get to Leilani as soon as possible. And that was exactly what he planned to do.
Leilani stepped off the transport platform, her carrycase in hand, and fought a shiver. It didn’t matter how many times she traveled via the platforms, she always got chills. And it still stunned her to be able to travel somewhere on the planet within seconds.
Another chill snaked through her as she stepped off the raised platform onto the stone floor. It had nothing to do with her travels, but the huge stone enclosure itself. She hadn’t thought to bring a coat since she hadn’t planned to go outdoors. Down on the mainland it was warm and sunny most of the solar cycle. Apparently it didn’t matter because it was still chilly inside here.
Eyes wide, she looked up at the interior of the stone dome that seemed to stretch up, up, up until it grew so dark she couldn’t see the top. Blinking lights dotted along the walls in various patterns. It took her a moment to realize the lights outlined elevator patterns.
She nearly jumped at the male voice, and turned to find two warriors wearing similar clothing to the ones who lived down the mountain: simple brown tunics and dark trousers. They each had pulse weapons strapped to their hips. The only difference was the footwear. These males had on boots with some sort of fur and crosshatches of leather that strapped up around their calves. Their very massive ones. Holy… She’d thought the males she knew were huge. These two looked like Viking throwbacks she’d read about in books and seen in museums before her former planet started dying.
She cleared her throat. “Yes.”
“Con told us we were to escort you to the meeting,” the first said, his voice as stiff as his posture. He had blond hair with reddish streaks running through it, much like the male next to him. He looked to be in his late-twenties, whereas the other was possibly a few years younger. And they were definitely brothers or somehow related considering their facial similarities.
She glanced around the spacious open area of the dome and couldn’t imagine where these two had even come from. Talk about stealthy. There were huge torches lit sporadically throughout the area; the sight of them was a little primitive. “He mentioned that in our last transmission. Are you Brandt or Daan?”
The older male’s posture relaxed just a fraction. “Brandt.”
“I’m Daan,” the other said, sticking his hand out, as if to shake hers. Brandt jabbed his brother in the side with his elbow and gave him a sharp, reprimanding look.
Now that stiff posture was back when Brandt turned to her. “I apologize for my younger brother.”
“Humans shake hands in greeting,” Daan muttered.
“It’s true,” she said, feeling bad for him. “We do.”
“Truly?” Brandt asked before his brother could respond. “Even females shake hands with males? Your mates do not mind?”
She blinked at the odd question. “Am I the first human you’ve ever met?” There was still so much about this planet she didn’t understand, but as far as she knew there weren’t any humans living in the mountain regions. Still, they could have met humans before.
They both shifted uncomfortably on their feet but the youngest nodded. “Yes. We were told they were beautiful, but I did not believe the rumors until now.”
His brother tightened his jaw, as if annoyed with Daan. And Daan’s face flushed a pale shade of red.
Leilani bit back a smile, guessing it might embarrass the male. She’d heard enough lines to know this warrior was being utterly sincere, if a little awkward. “Thank you… Should I head to meet Con? I don’t want to be late.” She’d come to meet with Con, their leader, regarding the most recent architectural plans her firm had submitted. She’d never been this far north and was excited to see more of the area, especially since she’d worked on some of their most recent designs.
“Yes, but…” Daan started before his brother elbowed him.
“Do not upset her,” Brandt growled.
Leilani wanted to ask him what he meant but he abruptly turned. “This way.” He practically barked so she fell in step beside him.
He and his brother flanked her as they strode across the open space. Her sandals made soft snapping sounds against the stone floor. When they came to the wall she wondered what they were doing until a large door flickered into view. The image of the stone wall fell away to reveal the elevator door and a biometric scanner. It must be camouflaged until the sensors picked up movement. She’d seen similar elevators like this. It was a security thing; in case they were breached, invaders would have a difficult time infiltrating their refuge.
Brandt held his hand over the scanner and the door whooshed open immediately.
Silently, they all stepped inside. She was aware of Daan looking at her so she glanced at him. He looked away, his cheeks flushed as he stared straight ahead.
She wanted to make conversation with them but they both stood stock still as the elevator pitched upward. They were so quiet she wasn’t even certain if they were breathing. The elevator moved so fast she reached out for Daan’s arm without thinking. When she made contact he stared down at her as if she’d burned him.
“Sorry,” she muttered, feeling even more awkward as she drew her hand away. She hoped not all the mountain warriors were this ‘friendly’.
Moments later they stepped out into a corridor, this one lined with glass windows that showcased the snowy mountain range. “It’s beautiful.” She walked to one of the windows and placed her hand against it. The glass was thick, but she could still feel the cold. Yeah, she definitely should have dressed warmer. She’d worn a typical, flowing shift dress that pulled together right under her breasts and hooked at both her shoulders with dragon pins. The pins had been a gift from her friend Saroya and she loved them.
“It is very cold outside,” Daan said, something like concern in his voice.