Three weeks later, Korom stood with Bor, Keel, Tark, Paru and Oris in the garden of the Keep. Hours ago, Bor and Lady Lilly completed their mating ceremony in front of thousands of gathered Torians.
Now they were about to begin the second part of this new tradition. Lady Lilly had been rather upset when she found out that there was no ’After party’, as she called it. No music, no dancing and drinking and having fun. Once the mating ceremony was finished, normally the pair retired to their quarters for some privacy. But not the new Lady of Toria. With the help of Tulip, Rose and Violet, they had arranged a gathering of all the family and friends in the main reception hall of the Keep. Most of the celebration was being held there, but many drifted out to the garden to talk.
Violet insisted that the strange music she played had to be so loud, and that if any of them had any sense of fun, they would be dancing with them.
Bor had strategically extracted himself and the others before they could be pulled into the jumping, swaying movements the females called dancing.
“To you, my Lord,” Oris said, raising his glass.
Bor smiled wide, a wicked gleam in his glowing green eyes.
“Thank you. If I wasn’t sure my new sisters would force me to do that dancing thing with them, I would have hauled my mate away hours ago. But it’s fine… I will get her alone soon enough.”
The way Bor said that told Korom that his brother already had a plan to kidnap his mate.
He chuckled, thinking about how stunning Tulip looked in the long pale blue dress she wore. Over the last two weeks, Tulip had gained some of the much needed weight, making her even more mouth watering to Korom.
He loved how he could hold her hips as he took her from behind, and not feeling the hard bone anymore.
After arriving on Toria, they had told Bor and Lilly about their relationship and that they would live together in his apartment.
At first, he worried that Lady Lilly would object to them being together. But, in what Korom was beginning to learn was the human female way, she threw her arms around his neck, squealed loudly in his ear, threatened him with severe bodily harm if he ever hurt Tulip, then left with her sister as they discussed every detail of their relationship.
Living with Tulip was better than he ever could have expected. As promised, the first day they were home, he had the large spare room converted for her. It was now filled with all kinds of tech in various stages of disassembly.
Every morning he woke to her peaceful, sleeping face beside him. With a soft kiss on her head, he left to train with Bor, knowing that she would still be asleep for hours. Every night, after he returned to their home, they ate dinner together, then sat and spoke for hours, before going to bed.
They didn’t make love every night, but for Korom, just having her in his arms as he fell asleep beside her was enough. Not that he didn’t try to get inside her as often as he could.
A calm, content feeling grew inside him. He looked around at the males he thought of as brothers, still hearing the females laughing and talking through the large doors that led to the reception hall. He had so much good in his life. A family he cherished. One he would do anything for. A female he loved with every fiber of his being. A beautiful home and duties he enjoyed.
He and his mist worked exceptionally well together since that first night with Tulip. He had absolute control over it, yet it could predict what he wanted at times as well.
Blocking out the conversations around him, Korom looked up at the stars.
The command vessel was still up there, Spot roaming the silent halls alone.
He hadn’t had a chance to speak to his brother about the creature yet. With the return home, then the lead up to the mating ceremony, Bor was not in the right state of mind to deal with that kind of information. He couldn’t blame his king. He was also distracted most of the time.
Two days ago, Kurmar had called to say he hadn’t found anything relating to his brother. As far as anyone could find, Korom’s brother was dead. Presumably killed with the crew of the Drift Prowler over thirty years ago. Kurmar insisted that he would keep searching, but Korom was not as hopeful as the commander.
He sighed, wishing he had known about his family earlier. Despite the sting of grief he felt every time he thought about his lost family, there was nothing he could do now. They were gone. And he had a new family now.
Taking another long sip of his drink, he looked back at his brothers and smiled when he heard Paru and Bor going off on one of their usual rants about which one of them was the better bladesmen.
Korom wasn’t sure about the answer. Bor was a fierce fighter with all weapons, but Paru had unprecedented skills with a short blade.
As the two of them began betting on the outcome of a match they would have in the morning, a particularly loud shout came from the hall behind them.
Violet was obviously having a great deal of fun. He was about to tell Bor not to bet the command vessel against his brother’s skill, when his dark side surged with panic inside him.
Thick tendrils of his mist clouding around his tensed body.
“Korom?” Bor asked as all the males turned to frown at him.
“Something’s wrong.” He turned towards the hall in time to see all the females come running out, heading straight for them.
In the lead, Lady Lilly held her stunning white gown in a fist, away from her feet as she sprinted towards them. The bright pale blue gem in her forehead glowing with her agitation.
Behind her, Rose held onto Violet’s hand as their wide eyes locked onto the males behind him. Oris pushed past him, speaking as he moved, “Are any of you injured?”
Lady Lilly shook her head and stopped in front of them, her eyes wild as she met Korom’s.
“It’s Tulip! She's gone!” she cried between heavy pants.
Ice filled Korom’s veins. He frantically searched the crowd exiting the hall, but he didn’t see any sign of his mate.
Standing back a step, he released his mist with a raging black storm, giving it only one command.