Vrox swung an arm out the second Kira fell. With Terra in one arm, he held his queen in the other.
“Why is she like this? What did you tell her?” he asked Lamara. He tried to keep his voice calm since the other woman was also pregnant, but it came out frantic.
Lamara gave him a nervous look, unable to answer.
“She does not understand Ezronian,” Kyros interjected.
“Here, I will hold Terra,” Ak offered.
As soon as Ak was awkwardly holding his niece, Vrox swung Kira into his arms. “I will go to Nebula. I must find out what the women spoke about.” With that declaration, he entered his room and laid Kira down on their bed. He pushed a lock of hair behind her ear and rushed outside. Kyros and his female followed closely. The walk was short, since Nebula’s room was on the same level.
Her door opened, and she appeared with a blanket wrapped tight around her shoulders. “What is it?”
He moved aside, revealing Kyros.
“Oh, my… Kyros? And is that a woman?”
“Please focus,” Vrox told her. “Can you translate what this female tells you?”
She nodded slowly. Her expression mirrored Kira’s as she exchanged words in rapid English with the other woman. At one point, her knees swayed, and Vrox had to latch his arms around her.
“Mothers. Do not faint on me like Kira did.”
Nebula didn’t faint. No, her reaction was worse. She sobbed her heart out, clutching onto Vrox as if he was her anchor to sanity.
“I changed my mind. I prefer that you faint,” Vrox muttered as he pat her back. “It is alright, Nebula. Tell me what is wrong.”
“Earth had a Vanishing,” she sputtered, her words barely recognizable. “Everyone is gone. My mom, my cousins, my friends. In a hundred years, there will be no humanity left on my planet.”
Vrox and Kyros exchanged alarmed expressions.
A Vanishing on Ezron and Earth? Why was this happening? Who was orchestrating this mass-extinction?
“It gets worse, brother. There is something you need to hear.”
Vrox groaned. “Why am I not surprised that you come with bad news?”
Kyros grinned, and Vrox’s glare dissolved.
“I have missed you, brother.”
“I know,” a cocky Kyros replied. “Let us put Nebula back to bed,” he said while rubbing his own female’s stomach. “I will speak to you in your room as soon as I rip my niece from Ak’s arms and remind her who her favorite uncle is.”
Vrox helped a hysterical Nebula to her room and tucked her in. Ni’ev was outside guarding the entrance to her room, so she would be looked after.
“By the way, where is Rokan?”
“He is not in The Capital. He leaves every two weeks in search of new members to welcome. He should return in one month.”
When they reached his room, Vrox b-lined for a sleeping Kira. He ignored the background noise of Kyros and Ak fighting over Terra, and made sure Kira was comfortable. She was deep in sleep, but she was pouting.
Desperate to erase her sadness, he leaned down and kissed her lips.
“Vrox, your seducing of Kira can wait. We have important matters to discuss.”
Kyros somehow ended up on the floor with his female and Terra on his lap.
“What are you doing, Kyros? Give me my daughter.”
“I already punched Akdronis to get her. I will not hesitate to hurt you as well.”
Vrox sighed. “Tell your female that she is welcome to sit on the bed. She must be tired.”
Kyros shook his head. “I want her close. She is comfortable with me.”
Since her head was lying comfortably on Kyros’ shoulder and her hand was caressing Terra, Vrox didn’t question it. He chose to nod and sit in front of Kyros.
“Now, what is this bad news you must deliver?”
“A group of men are moving here, led by one of Ezron’s princes. Word has gotten around that you are here.”
Vrox moved his possessive gaze to Kira. If one of Ezron princes was marching to The Capital, there were only two things they could be after: a woman to breed, and a throne to claim.
It was too bad that Old Ezron was dead, and from its ashes rose a new Republic. Vrox was the new king of Ezron, and he was bending to no one. For months, he had been enduring back-breaking labor to work beside his men. He and Kira ripped Ezron from the clutches of extinction, and no bitter Prince was going to take it back.
“Unless he somehow found a female he can reproduce with, he is unable to claim the throne. There is no way on Ezron that I am giving up Kira. She is mine. My seedlings are mine.”
“I understand. I would not like him as a leader, either. I spied on him for a day,” Kyros stopped to shake his head. “I did not like what I saw.”
“Then he is not welcome here. How many men does he march with?”
Vrox nodded. “We can take them. We will be ready, and I will be at the forefront to meet them.”
Silence took over as the brothers got lost in their thoughts. The sky was heavy with darkness, but Vrox’s body burnt like the sun in preparation of the upcoming fight.
“I should take her to bed,” Kyros said, observing a sleeping Lamara.
“I will show you a room,” Ak offered from the doorstep.
Vrox picked up Terra and bid his brothers goodbye. He rocked the baby to sleep and placed her in her crib. Although he knew Kira would disapprove, he threw an arm around her and pulled her close.
It was Kira’s trembling sobs that woke him up.
“Everyone is gone,” she whimpered.
“I am so sorry. I wish I could fix this for you.”
She cried until his chest was glistering.
– • –
Kyros knocked on their door. “Vrox, I am here to finish the conversation of last night.”
Kira sniffled and pushed her blanket off. “I’ll get Terra and go to the common room so you two can talk.”
She wiped her wet cheeks and frowned. “This sounds like Council business. I always give you privacy when you talk about these matters.”
“I do not want you to leave.”
“But… you… I’m confused. You don’t particularly like to hear my opinion on these things.”
He sighed frustratedly. He wanted to tell her that he opened his eyes, but he hadn’t prepared his engagement speech yet, or found her ring.
“It cannot be helped, then.”
Figuring that she was dismissed, Kira tried to slide off the bed. The presence of strong hands on her hips stopped her.
Vrox got off the bed and fell to both knees. “I do not have the man Nebula mentioned and I do not have a ring, but I am on my knees.”
“I promise that I will always listen to you, and that I will protect you and our heirs until I can no longer wield a sword.”
“What are you saying?”
“Female, I normally love your voice, but I am not fond of it right now. Let me finish.”
“What the hell does that mean?!”
He growled. “I have given you the words, and I promise that I will get you a ring. Now, you must do the marr-eng with me.”
“The marr-eng. It is when a man in a robe tells me that you are mine.”
“Marr… you mean marriage?!”
“Correct. Now say yes. I have provided the words.”
“You can’t just demand a yes. Did you ask Kyros for advice again? That man doesn’t know what he’s talking about half of the time.”
“Does that mean you are saying no?”
She crossed her arms over her chest as if protecting herself. “I don’t know. I mean, I just found out I lost my planet. This is a lot to take in.”
Vrox’s face fell. This was definitely not the response he was expecting. “Very well. I will give you time.” He stood up. “But be warned that if I do not like the answer I get next time I ask, I will use every means necessary to change your mind.”
He returned to her side and kneeled once again.
Next thing Kira knew, her thighs were tossed over strong shoulders and she was clutching onto the blankets as Vrox wordlessly explained what he meant. She was left so slippery from his saliva that she feared her kid would slip out of her.
With glistering lips, Vrox repeated, “every means necessary.”