Three months ago.
“Have you got everything?” Lilly asked from her place on the corner of the bed as Rose closed the lid on her metal storage crate. They were sitting in her bedroom at the Keep while Rose packed. Elfie, Lilly’s small white Spinner sat at her feet, patiently waiting as the sisters talked.
Violet and Tulip were on the large sofa behind her. Spot and Pearl lay curled into balls on the plush carpet beside them.
Rose’s little Spinner, whom she had named Click, was perched on her pillows, watching her with his wide, pale blue eyes.
Looking around the room, Rose smiled. As much as she loved her life at the Keep, and having her sisters so close, it was time for Rose to start making it on her own.
Bor, Lilly’s husband and the king of Toria, had provided the four sisters with anything they ever wanted. But that wasn’t how Rose worked. She had to make her own way in life in order to feel fulfilled. Well, that and… No. she wasn’t going to bring that up. Not now. It was something she had to give up in her old life on Earth and thinking about it would only make her long for it even more.
“I think so,” She said, answering Lilly’s question, “If not, I can always come back and get it. It’s not like I’m leaving the planet. I’ll just be in the city, an hour’s flight away.”
“I know, but I’m still going to miss you,” Lilly said, reaching out to grasp her hand.
Rose sat down beside her and pulled her oldest sister into a tight hug.
“I’m going to miss you all as well. But I have to do this, Lil. You know I do.”
“I know. Even back on Earth, you were the first one to move out of mom and dad’s house. You’ve always been so independent.”
Rose smiled, “I’m still here, Lil. For all of you. If you need me, just call and I will drop what I’m doing and come. And if you want to come visit me in the city, you know there’s more than enough space for everyone.”
“Speaking of space,” Violet said, “Have you decided what you’re going to do with Mr. Tall-Grumpy-and-Sexy?”
“Vi!” Both Rose and Lilly said in unison, but Violet just grinned wider.
“You know I’m right. That guy has it bad for you Rose.”
“What?” Rose felt a blush creep up her cheeks, “No he doesn’t. He’s just… Being a Torian. A good male with honor and respect. Doesn’t mean he wants to jump my bones.”
“Uh huh,” Violet mumbled, smiling as she raised a brow at her sister.
“He doesn’t, okay. He… can't give me what I need.”
“Oh? And what’s that?” Tulip asked, sitting forward and lowering the data pad she held in her hand.
“Nothing. Never mind,” Rose got up and began fussing with the crate on her bed.
“Rose?” Lilly said, getting up as well, “Come on, spill. What are you talking about?”
“Nothing. Forget I said anything.”
“Nope. You can’t just say something like that and not tell us.”
Rose turned to face the bathroom, kicking herself for saying too much. All her adult life she had managed to keep this secret from her sisters and now she almost blurted it out. She needed her fix, bad!
“All I meant was… He-”
“Lady Rose?” A voice called from the door. They all turned to see a young girl, maybe in her late teens, standing by the door.
Saved by the staff! Rose thought as she smiled at the girl.
“Is it time to go?”
“Yes, my Lady. Captain Tark sent me to get you and help you with your belongings.”
“Great,” Rose said, perhaps a little too cheerfully. Honestly, the last thing she wanted to do was to talk about her unusual needs with her sisters.
“This isn’t over, Rose,” Violet said as she came up to her and gave her a tight hug.
“Have fun at your first day of boot camp tomorrow, Vi. I want updates every day.”
Violet chuckled, “You got it. And let us know how life in the big city is.”
“I will. I love you.”
“Love you too.”
Violet pulled back and called for Spot as she left the room. Tulip came to her next, also pulling her into a tight hug.
“I’m going to miss you, sis.”
Rose smiled, “You have that big hunk of a man to keep you busy these days.”
Tulip blushed but nodded. “I do. But I’m still going to miss you. Be safe, okay.”
“I will. I love you, Tu.”
“Love you too, big sis.”
She too called for her Spinner and left the room.
When it was just Rose and Lilly left, Rose turned to her older sister.
“Take care of them, will you?”
Lilly smiled, a glimmer of tears in her eyes. “You know I will. And you take care of yourself as well.”
Lilly reached out and took both her hands in her own, “Rose… I don’t know what it is you hide from us, and I don’t need to. Not unless you want to tell me.”
At Rose’s wide eyes, Lilly continued, “I noticed it back on Earth. You always had a secret, a part of yourself you hid from everyone else. Whatever it is, just know that if you ever want to talk, I’m here for you. No matter what… I won’t judge, okay?”
Rose gave her a smile. “I know, sis. And if I need to talk to someone, you will be the first call I make.”
“Good. Now come here and give me a hug.”
Rose pulled her pregnant older sister into her arms and held on for a few long moments. As much as she was looking forward to her new life in the city, she would miss her sisters terribly.
“I love you, Rose.” Lilly mumbled into her ear. There was a faint hitch in her sister’s voice, which brought tears to Rose’s eyes.
“I love you too. Send me updates on the baby as often as you can, okay?”
Lilly pulled back, sniffing. She nodded and reached up to swipe away a tear.
“You better go. Tark isn’t the most patient male around.”
Rose laughed, “You got that right.”
With one last hug, Rose activated the anti-grav function on her storage crate and pushed it towards the young woman still waiting quietly at the door.
“Come on, Click. Time to go,” She called over her shoulder and watched as her Spinner scurried off the bed and ran towards her.
With a final wave to Lilly, Rose turned from the room she had lived in at the Keep and made her way towards the landing area in the gardens. Her heart raced with excitement with each step she took.
She was building her own life again. After all that happened, after she lost so much, it was time for her to spread her wings once more.
As she exited the large doors that led to the back gardens of the Keep, she saw Bor, Korom, Keel, and Bor’s mother, Saruma all waiting to say goodbye.
Tark stood by the doors to the shuttle Bor had given them to use while she lived in the city. A sleek, silver craft, with smooth edges. It was much smaller than the ones the Keep used, designed for no more than four passengers, but Rose loved it. It reminded her of a sleek, expensive sports car from back home.
Tark would teach her how to use it, but it was Rose’s going away gift from Bor and his mother.
With hugs, well wishes and a few tears, Rose finally said goodbye to everyone and stepped up to the shuttle doors.
“Ready?” Tark asked, his piercing, golden yellow eyes stealing her breath for a moment. God, he was so handsome it was hard to look at him sometimes.
With thick, short cut black hair, golden eyes, chiseled, square jaw and killer body, he was more than any woman could ask for. He also came with razor sharp fangs and those thin ridges on the top of his nose that somehow made him look even sexier.
“Ready,” Rose breathed, trying not to get too worked up. One thing she learned about the Torians a long time ago, was they had an incredible sense of smell. Getting turned on, then locking them together in a small, confined space was not a good idea.
Tark had something more to him, though. Something she didn’t see in the others. A darkness that haunted his eyes.
But before she could dwell too much on that, Tark stepped back and held out a hand to help her up the steps leading into her new shuttle. His warm, big hand felt so good holding hers.
Every time Tark held her, or got close to her, she felt that electric zing race through her body. The same kind of zing she used to feel back on Earth when she got what she needed.
Don’t think about it Rose. You’ll only make the craving worse. Tark would never do something like that with you. He’s far too honorable.
With a final wave at everyone outside, Tark closed the door to the shuttle and lifted up as smoothly as air. He turned them to the right, aiming the ship towards the North and shot forward. In the distance, Rose saw the towering spires of the Mega-City glinting in the afternoon sunlight.
It took only an hour to reach the city. All around her, Rose saw hundreds of small, silver shuttles whizzing past in lanes only they could see. Tall towers reached almost into the clouds, separated by smaller buildings between them.
On the ground, far, far below, Rose saw tiny specks of people moving this way and that, going about their business.
Tark turned the craft towards Saros Tower, the tallest building in Tortaria. Named after Bor’s father and the previous king of Toria, it was an imposing structure. A massive, spire like building with a thick base, that narrowed out towards the top. It was made of shining metal the color of black pearl, with huge tinted windows.
They flew higher and higher, until Tark finally pushed the little shuttle towards a wide entrance three floors from the top. As they got closer, Rose noticed a faint shimmer around the building.
“What is that?”
“Atmospheric shield. It gets windy and cold this high up. There is also less oxygen up here. The atmospheric shield prevents gale-force winds and icy, oxygen lacking air to kill you.”
“Right,” Rose mumbled, marveling at the immense structure.
Tark landed them inside the building in what looked a lot like an indoor parking garage. There was nothing in the space, a vast, open area with a black floor, metal walls and the open landing bay door.
As the shuttle settled, Tark pressed a few buttons and the large doors to the entrance to the building closed with a gentle whoosh.
Tark helped her disembark the shuttle, leaving her tingling and feeling needy all over from his touch. Without allowing herself to focus on what she wouldn’t get on this planet, Rose followed him towards a door on the right side of the vast space.
Pressing his hand to a control panel on the side, Tark said, “Your hand should be coded into the apartment. Lady Lilly had it fully stocked with food and other supplies she thought you might want. There is usually a team of six that work in this apartment, but that has been cut down to two.”
“You don’t need that much staff.”
Rose raised a brow, “I don’t?”
He turned to her then, the door opening silently behind him. His yellow eyes glowed in the dim light of the parking area, making Rose swallow.
“No, you do not.”
“Why?” she asked, hating that her voice sounded so weak.
“Because you have me.”
With that, he entered the apartment and went out of sight. Rose took a second to gather her thoughts. He was so bossy, so… Urge, she had no words for it. It was maddening… so why the hell was she getting so turned on by his matcho, alpha male, dominant tendencies?
Not wanting to go there, Rose squared her shoulders and followed him into her new home.
The apartment was incredible. The minute she entered from the parking garage, she was greeted with a massive, high ceilinged open space. Light poured in from the floor to ceiling windows all along one side. There were plush, white sofas and chairs set up in the middle of the space. The floor was a dark, solid looking wood with thin tendrils of gold running through it. At the back of the space, Rose saw an impressive looking kitchen, with all sorts of appliances she had never seen in her life before. A vast, solid stone, twelve seater dining table stood in front of the windows with three massive, shimmering chandeliers hanging from high above.
To her left was a wide, majestic staircase leading up to the second and third floors. Beside that, were two doors that were closed.
Maybe a bathroom or an office?
The next thing that caught her eye was the view. Being so high up, she would have thought that all she would see were clouds. But outside the vast windows lay the sprawling mega city in every direction. Shuttles whizzed silently passed in every direction. Massive, glowing holographic billboards advertised various things, while large, four winged birds flew lazily past.
“This is amazing,” Rose whispered, unable to stop her mind from wandering if she would ever see herself on one of those signs outside.
Her first photoshoot was tomorrow morning, and already her agent said she had a hair product company wanting Rose’s face for their sign.
“It’s too big, if you want my opinion.” Tark grumbled.
Rose rolled her eyes, “Do you ever look at the bright side of things?”
He pinned her with that narrow eyed stare that made her insides roll and her pussy flare to life.
“And what would be the bright side of living in a home that is far too big for two people?”
“Well, this view, for one. Look at this, it’s amazing!” She gestured with one arm to encompass the towering windows and the scene beyond.
“I could show you the same view from a shuttle.”
“Yes, but a shuttle doesn’t have a rooftop pool, now does it?” she smiled, raising her brows. Bor had told her about a few of the facilities here, and she had to admit, she really liked it.
Tark frowned, but the tiniest hint of a smile pulled at the corners of his lips. “No, I guess not. Do you enjoy swimming?”
“I love it. I’ve always loved the water.”
“Me as well. Keel and I grew up very close to a lake. We would swim almost every day in the summer.”
Rose realized that this was the first time he had told her anything personal about his life. She found herself intrigued and wanting to hear more.
“That sounds amazing. You must have been happy kids growing up.”
“Yes, we were. Our mother raised us most of the time.”
“Where was your father?” She really hoped this wasn’t too personal. She liked hearing him speak about his life. Liked the way his deep, husky voice echoed in the space, sending a chill down her spine.
“He was a captain on board a trade vessel. He was gone for long periods of time.”
“You must have missed him. Did he get back often?”
“He always took a month off after every mission to spend with his family.”
“He sounds like a great male.”
“He was.” Clearing his throat, Tark frowned and stepped away, “Your rooms are on the top floor. I will be down here, close to all the entrances to the apartment. The staff will arrive in the morning to clean and will only work every second day. If you need to go anywhere, let me know and I will take you. In the evenings, after dinner, I will teach you how to fly the shuttle and how all the equipment in the apartment works. But if you want to know about something before we get to it, just ask.”
“Right. Well tomorrow morning I have my first photo shoot. My agent, Arusa, said that she will come get me here and take me to the location-”
“No. If you must travel somewhere, then I will take you, or go with you. Until you are familiar with the city and the way of life, I will be at your side.”
Rose bristled at this. She crossed her arms and glared at him. “So which are you, prison guard or baby sitter?”
Tark moved so fast, Rose barely saw it. He stepped up to her, his face only inches away from hers. The move made her take a step back, only to have her back hit the wall. Tark closed the distance between them, placing his hands against the wall on either side of her face. He bent to stare into her eyes, that same cold, menacing glow in his yellow eyes.
“Protector, Rose. I was given an order to keep you safe. I intend to do just that.”
Rose swallowed, her emotions all over the place. She was a little scared of him, but at the same time, getting so turned on by his show of dominance.
Tark must have seen something in her eyes, because his eyes softened and his tone turned gentle.
He leaned in just a bit closer. “I need to keep you safe, Rose. You have no idea how dangerous this city can be. I hope you will never have to deal with the lower life of Tortaria, but it does exist.”
She swallowed, his warm breath sending tingles down her spine. “I understand.” She whispered, instinctively lowering her eyes.
After a tense second, Tark stepped back, cursing in Torian, before he marched towards one of the doors next to the staircase and disappeared into what she now knew was a bedroom.
“Holy shit,” She mumbled to herself. Her entire body felt wound up so tight that she was ready to snap. She needed to find a way to release some of the tension that had built up in her from the moment she got into the shuttle with Tark.
She’d almost said it. Almost called him… No! Stop thinking like that, Rose. He isn’t into that kind of stuff. None of the males on this planet are. Just forget it and move on.
Bending to give Click a soft pat on the head, Rose made her way up the lavish staircase to find her bedroom.