See below snippets of my romantic space opera series, The Curse of Sotkari Ta.

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Snippets
The Curse Of Sotkari Ta

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

The music and singing stopped. The priestess made a proclamation, after which Kindor was to finish delivering me to my future husband. Her words hit me like a whack across the face. Eighteen years earlier, I had become Joshua’s wife, and as far as I knew, we were still married. Yet here I was, galaxies away, taking the same oath of lifelong commitment to someone else. An adrenaline rush began to cloud my mind, overwhelming me with the desire to run out of the temple and keep running until my legs no longer worked. I looked into Kindor’s blue eyes and couldn’t believe the thought I transmitted to him.

“Take me out of here. I love you!”

His eyes became as wide as saucers, but after a minute, he answered telepathically.

“Mina, if I thought for a second that this were anything other than last-minute jitters, I would challenge Montor to a duel right this minute, stop his heart from beating and his lungs from breathing before he could take one swing at me, and take you far away from here where we could be together forever, but that is not what you want me to do. I have seen you with him. The truth is, unfortunately for me, you two have a connection that I was not able to create in all the time we spent together.”

My face flushed with chagrin. My thoughts were not meant for Kindor at all. He didn’t know the real source of my conflict, but his words centered me. I was here for a reason. I did love Montor, regardless of whatever quandary afflicted my soul.

“What did I ever do to deserve you, Kindor? Thank you for steadying me. I do love you, though. I guess in a different way.”

“And I will always love you, Mina,” he answered as he nodded to Montor, who offered his arm to me.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

“Eventually, I will end up here, and then I will make us one. After that, we will improvise. What do you think of my plan?”


By now, his voice was deep and husky. His dark pupils dilated so that barely any of the yellow irises were visible.


“It suits me just fine,” I whispered.


He executed his plan to perfection,

and I praised him in whispers. He encouraged me not to hold back.


“No risk of waking Josher here, Mina. We are alone. Let me know if you enjoy what I am doing,” he growled.


My shouts became louder and higher-pitched each step of the way until he completed his titillating journey. We fell asleep with satisfied smiles and dampened bodies. After a few hours, I awoke, turned to face his chest, and kissed him there. Montor’s eyes opened, glowing in the dark room.


He asked with a lusty smile, “Mina, can I have you again?”

This time, there was no plan. We rolled around the bed laughing, kissing, and caressing each other until we fell off onto the carpeted floor. I ended up on top.

“Now, you are mine, my handsome Arandan warrior!”

I rode him slowly at first, progressing to a steady gallop until I was out of breath. He flipped me over facedown to finish what I started. My voice was spent, and delirious tears ran down my cheeks. It took us time to recover, but we finally got back on the bed.


I slept until a lavender mist peeked over the horizon, a signal that sunrise was approaching. Kissing my neck, he stroked me from my thighs to my breasts. Now alert, I turned to embrace him.

“My king, again?”


“I cannot get enough of you, sweetness.”


Every inch of my skin tingled.


“I think I would like to make love to you as Earthians do. I

will start here,” I said, kissing his lips, then parting mine and encouraging him to do the same so we could taste each other.

“Then I will move down here,” I continued, kissing his chest and abdomen. “And then here...”

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

The sedative soon wore off, but I remained disoriented. I might have slept for only an hour or so. Hard to be sure with no clock or watch available to track time. I should have been exhausted, but nervous energy fueled my pacing the room long before the alarm buzzed. The door opened, and Exzer walked in unannounced.

“I am glad to see you are ready.”

I hadn’t bathed or touched the three sets of dark-colored tops and pants folded on the desk. I’m sure I didn’t look “ready.”

“Did you rest well?” she said, her voice monotone.

Exzer’s deep-set, expressionless eyes revealed that she couldn’t care less how I had slept. I dug my fingernails into the palms of my hands, attempting once again to wake up from this nightmare. Clearly, this was no dream because everything around me remained unchanged. Emboldened by her short stature, I crossed my arms and tried to look as fierce as possible.

“How can you expect me to sleep? You’ve brought me to this place against my will, talking crazy shit about integrating me into your military. I can barely wrap my mind around the fact that I am no longer on Earth, much less joining some alien army.”

“Crazy shit? Wrap your mind?” The figures of speech confused her for a moment until she consulted her tablet-looking device. She ignored my posturing.

“Mina, it is a shame you wasted your resting hours. You have a long day ahead of you.”

“Guess what? I don’t intend to follow any of your instructions.”

“That would be unwise and would result in punishment. Here, take this. It is your personal tablet.”

Punishment...the second time she used that word.

My heartbeat accelerated, and I decided to pay attention when Exzer scrolled through the screens on the device. Surprised, I viewed information in English, including a map of the areas I could access without escort, a daily schedule, and several reference documents I was expected to study. She motioned for me to step out into the corridor. As we walked down the hall, I thought perhaps I should try a different approach.

“Exzer, I have a husband and children who need me. My youngest is only nine years old. I miss them. I need to get back. Do you have family? You must understand what I’m feeling.”

No response. My palms were sweaty.

“Seriously, I’m the last person you’d want as a soldier...I’m not strong. I’ve never fired a weapon, and I’m too old...thirty-seven years old. I’m in no shape for military boot camp.”

“While you were sedated during your trip from Earth, we injected rejuvenation hormones and steroids to address this. I have planned a physical evaluation for you this morning, but I am sure that as long as you focus on your duties, you will be fine.”

Her indifference reignited my anger. I grabbed her by the shoulders, attempting to make her stop and turn to face me. Stronger than what I expected for someone only about four feet tall, she shrugged off my hold and whipped around, her thin lips pressed together. Once she spoke, her voice was an octave lower than before.

“Do not touch me.”

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

One evening while Kaya and I were having dinner alone in my room, she told me something I had wanted to hear since my abduction.

“Mina, I cannot help you escape this place, but I know of someone who is in a better position to assist you. His name is Montor, and I think he is the one they plan to have you mate with. He is from a planet called Aranda and also has a complete set of embedded Sotkari Ta genes. The Lostai have complete trust in him because, although he was once a hostage such as yourself, he embraced his new lifestyle and position in the Lostai military. He now enjoys the same freedoms and benefits as any Lostai soldier.”

“Uhhh, I am confused. Why would this person help me? It sounds more likely that he would turn me in rather than help me escape.”

Kaya walked around without immediately replying. Finally, she clarified, “He also secretly cooperates with rebel factions to help them cause many problems for the Lostai military. Luckily, neither side has ever suspected the truth. He is loyal to no one...”

“Oh, I see, what we call a double agent on Earth.”

Abruptly, her pacing came to a stop, and she swung around to face me, looking me straight in the eyes.

“...except to me. He is loyal to me. I successfully trained him in all facets of Sotkari Ta abilities. He has become an extremely powerful being and is a complicated person with a complicated history. He lost his whole family during famine and wars that ravaged his planet. Similar to what occurred on Sotkar, the Lostai came in and took advantage of the situation. He was a child when they identified him as having Sotkari Ta genes and brought him to this station. I was the closest thing to a mother he had growing up here.”

“Kaya, I do not get how you can be OK with the work he does for the Lostai. I am grateful for your friendship, but sometimes I am not clear on your moral compass.”

“Mina, do not try to pass judgement on me. I have already explained my situation. My job here is to train people as per Lostai requests. To not comply would put my granddaughter in grave danger. How my trainees choose to live their lives, how they use these abilities, whether they become part of Lostai society or rebel against them, is out of my control.”

I disagreed with her position, but it was a discussion for another time.

“OK, Kaya, so do you think I can trust this person?”


She pressed her lips together and sighed.


“He agreed I reveal to you the fact that he is involved with covert activities against the Lostai so that you could trust him. We have both taken this tremendous risk on your behalf. Please do not make me regret it. If he suspects that you might in any way divulge this secret, he will kill you without a second thought. I will not be able to intervene.”

I gulped as Montor sounded more and more frightening by the minute.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

As we lay staring up to the cloudless sky, he said, “Mina, it is mind-boggling to me that all the luxuries and females and power I used to have never brought me the contentment I feel now. Even with all the challenges we face,” he turned to look at me, “I am happier than I have ever been.”

I met his eyes.


“You deserve happiness, Montor.”


“Mina?”


“Yes?”


He hesitated and looked to the sky again.


“Are you happy?”


I caressed his cheek.


“Yes, my king, of course. We are together, our son is doing well. We are united on the same mission.”


“But as I look back at my time as a Lostai soldier, it makes sense that I am happier now because I hated what I had become, but you...”

Again, he searched my eyes.


“What?”


“You were perfectly happy before on your planet, right?”


I stretched my neck, rolled my shoulders, and took a deep breath.


“Why do you bring this up, Montor?”


“I am afraid of losing you, Mina.”


His whole demeanor was so different than his usual confident posture. As usual, he only gave himself permission to be vulnerable in private with me.

“I told you once before, you are stuck with me.”


“You did not answer my question.”


“We have had this talk before. In general, I was happy, yes, but what does it matter? That is in the past, a past I cannot dwell on. I am focused on the present. In my present, I am happy too. I have a loving husband whom I care very much about and who has given me a beautiful son. Montor, you know I love you.”

My reply assuaged whatever was troubling him. He licked the palm of my hand and placed it over his heart. I cuddled close to him, and we napped the rest of the afternoon.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

Montor grabbed the bottle and took me by the hand, leading me outside to one of the many covered porches that surrounded the house. We sat side by side on one of the sofas. A slight breeze decreased the temperature a notch, and I heard the splash of the waterfalls. He placed the bottle on a small table in front of us, took my hand in both of his, and stared up to the sky. I should have been relaxed, but the change of environment from the spaceship to Renna One provoked so many conflicting emotions: a nostalgia for Earth, a reminder that soon I would be leaving Montor and traveling alone to a place I had never been to before.

After several minutes of silence, I broke his spell and my sentiments by asking, “Montor, tell me what will be happening in the next few days.”

He was distracted, but acknowledged my question, pouring himself a second glass and replying with a sly smile, “We should talk first regarding tonight. I will show you how comfortable my bed is.”

His insinuation quickened my heartbeat and brought a smile to my face.

“Ah, that is what I like to see. Mina, you seem so stressed. What can I do to help you relax?”

As if answering his own question, he grabbed the bottle and led me upstairs to the master bath and bed area.

“There is nothing more relaxing than a soak in the tub,” he said.

The bathroom on the second floor was the size of my living room back in Florida, outfitted with a huge, oval-shaped, Jacuzzi-type tub and a shower exposed to the outside. The house was built by a small waterfall, and the cascades fell around the shower area, making it appear as if you were within the waterfall. He touched the controls on a nearby console to activate jets in the tub, and the water began to agitate. A small table next to the tub had on it a glass receptacle containing what appeared to be multicolored small leaves and flowers. After dimming the lights, he grabbed a handful of the mixture and tossed it into the water. Immediately, bubbles filled the tub.

He walked over to me and, without a word, motioned for me to lift my arms so he could pull off my shirt. In a trance whenever we were in close contact, I followed his lead without resistance. Next, he quickly removed the tight sleeveless short shirt underneath that served as a bra. His eyes glowed bright yellow, his pupils went from slits to almond-shaped, and he murmured something in a language I didn’t understand. Kneeling, his hands on my waist, he pressed his face against my stomach. Breathing in deeply, he traced my ribcage with his thumbs and softly massaged my abdominal area. Already aroused before he even touched the obvious erogenous zones, I leaned back, and my head hung lazily.

He had explained once to me that contrary to either of our cultures, Sotkari only use hands and fingers to show affection and passion. I supposed he was channeling his inner Sotkari, so to speak. He pulled my pants and underpants down, and I stepped out of each leg.


Looking up to me, he spoke in a husky voice.

“Go in, Mina. I will join you.”

I finished my drink and began to feel the effects of the alcohol. Getting into the tub, I watched intently as he peeled off his clothing, already imagining touching those hard muscles. He brought the bottle with him as he stepped into the tub. I took a few more sips straight out of the bottle.

“Montor, I am surprised. You do not strike me as the type of person who does bubble baths.”

“Bubble baths?”


I giggled.
“Back on Earth, it is a girly thing.”

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

Despite heavy eyelids, an urgency to wake up forced my eyes open. I found myself in a bed in a private medical room. Lasarta and a physician spoke in hushed tones. The first thing I did was wiggle my toes and exhale a sigh of relief.

“Where am I? How long have I been here?”


My voice sounded dry, as if it had been a long while since I had uttered a word. Lasarta’s brow furrowed, and she looked at the physician.

“This is the infirmary in Penstarox. In addition to taking care of a punctured lung, several broken ribs, swelling on your brain, and a broken arm, you required a series of very complicated procedures to repair your spinal column and spinal cord. You were not being 

cooperative at first, so we induced a coma. You have been out for about one lunar cycle,” said the physician.

“What!” I roared, slamming my hands against the mattress.

Lasarta practically jumped out of her shoes. I growled as a sharp pain pierced my lower back.


“I suggest you avoid any brusque movements. You are still recovering from your surgeries. In one more week, I think you will be ready to start rehabilitation,” said the physician.

“Has Mina been found?” I asked.

Lasarta’s heavy hand on my shoulder foreshadowed her reply.

“No, Montor. Colora notified us that she ran into Kindor in Fronidia soon after the Dit Lar battle. He told her he was going to look for Mina, but we have not heard anything,” she said.

I had never felt so defeated.

“Kindor,” I muttered. “Always ready to take my place. I should be the one to rescue her. What about Josher?”

“He told her Josher is safe but did not give her any information where he was.”

“He probably took Josher to his family. I suppose he is safer with them in Fronidia,” I admitted. “Has the United Rebel Front sent out a squadron to search for Mina?”

“I am not sure. Perhaps you should talk to Commander Portars about it, but the fighting with the Lostai has increased in our area. Our resources are strained. Even here in Aranda, we have had to refortify our shields and secure our planetary border.”

I looked at the physician.

“How long will the rehabilitation take? I need to be out of this stupid infirmary as soon as possible.”

“You are a very strong patient. I think in another lunar cycle you will be ready to leave the infirmary,” answered the physician.

“Shermont! Another lunar cycle!”

“Calm down, Montor. Getting angry will only make matters worse. I will cook meals for you that will help you regain your strength,” Lasarta said.

I wanted to say a million more curse words, but out of respect for her, I just nodded.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

“Lasarta, what do you think of Montor’s plan that we be married on Penstarox?” I asked.

“It is wonderful news, my dear. Penstarox is a tropical island in the southeastern quadrant. It must be pleasant weather at this time, not too hot.”

“I would like to do my part to make everything be perfect but have no idea what is expected from the bride in Arandan culture. I am going to need some help.”

Tapping my hand, she smiled.

“Of course, my dear. For all practical purposes, I am your mother-in-law. It is actually my duty to give you guidance in these matters, since you do not have an Arandan mother. First thing you need to know is that you are expected to give Montor an amulet as a wedding gift.”

Without thinking, my fingers played with the amulet I wore around my neck, a gift from Montor, almost identical to his. People from Montor’s clan maintained the tradition of wearing cords around their necks with amulets that are gifted to them on specific milestones during their life. At a minimum, everyone wore the amulet their parents gave them on their first birthday, but a person could have several cords with more than one amulet. Montor wore his twin sister’s cord and amulet. She died as a child. Montor gave me his when I left him to escape the Lostai.

“You will bake a small cake the day of the wedding, placing the amulet inside. During the wedding ceremony, you both will share the cake, and you will present him the amulet while making your pledge to love him until your last breath. You need to learn to speak at least that pledge in Arandan.”

I sighed, shaking my head.
“What is the problem?” she asked.


I had spent over a year as a prisoner on Xixsted, a few days on the planet Renna One, and six months in a remote village on Fronidia with Kindor’s family. Now, we were heading to an island rebel military base. Let’s just say, I didn’t know where the nearest jewelry store was.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

He led me back into the bedroom, and his hands raced to the zipper of my dress. Lasarta had begun to teach me basic Arandan, and I’d made a point to learn certain phrases for some situations I’d anticipated.

“No, I am easy...you first...I will help,” I said.

He stroked my cheek and flashed that smile again, making me second-guess my plan.

“I like how you sound in Arandan.”

He followed my instructions and sat in a comfortable chair by the mattress. I unfastened the gold sash across his chest, folded it, and placed it on the side table. Next, I unbuttoned his jacket, took it off, and also folded it carefully. Tapping his foot in exaggeration, he pretended to be impatient at the fact that I was in no rush. I ignored it and unbuckled his belt, pulled out his shirt, and unbuttoned it. He took it off. Again, I folded it, and finally, we were down to his undershirt. I pulled it over his head, but this time, instead of folding it, I tossed it across the room.

Montor laughed out loud at my antics. I stopped my silliness and stroked his chest. His eyes closed as even the slightest skin contact flooded our bodies with potent sexual energy.

Having undressed him from the waist up, my attention turned to his lower half. I knelt on the plush red carpet to unfasten his boots and remove his foot coverings. As usual, I was impressed with his well-pedicured feet and toenails and decided to give him a quick massage.


In a quick motion, he stood, now that his patience truly had reached its limits. He pulled his legs out of his pants, immediately followed by his underpants. I looked up at his glorious nudity. It always felt like the first time. In a matter of seconds, he pulled me to my feet, whipped me around, and unzipped my dress. The bodice slipped off my shoulders, and the dress fell to my feet. I wore nothing underneath.

“See, I told you I was easy,” I said softly, still speaking in Arandan.

He let out a low groan, his hands on my waist, bending over to slide his tongue along the back of my neck. I became playful again and ran back out to the beach. He chased after me, lifted me off my feet, and walked into the ocean. The lukewarm water felt silky with a curious fragrance to it.

“The oceans and rivers on Earth are blue like those on Fronidia and Renna One. Why is the water here red?”

“It contains a certain mineral that gives it this color and is also said to be excellent for the skin. However, try not to swallow any as it might upset your digestive system.”

Splashing around and playing chase games like children was fun, but Montor finally said, “Mina, I cannot wait any longer.”

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

He led me back into the bedroom, and his hands raced to the zipper of my dress. Lasarta had begun to teach me basic Arandan, and I’d made a point to learn certain phrases for some situations I’d anticipated.

“No, I am easy...you first...I will help,” I said.

He stroked my cheek and flashed that smile again, making me second-guess my plan.

“I like how you sound in Arandan.”

He followed my instructions and sat in a comfortable chair by the mattress. I unfastened the gold sash across his chest, folded it, and placed it on the side table. Next, I unbuttoned his jacket, took it off, and also folded it carefully. Tapping his foot in exaggeration, he pretended to be impatient at the fact that I was in no rush. I ignored it and unbuckled his belt, pulled out his shirt, and unbuttoned it. He took it off. Again, I folded it, and finally, we were down to his undershirt. I pulled it over his head, but this time, instead of folding it, I tossed it across the room.

Montor laughed out loud at my antics. I stopped my silliness and stroked his chest. His eyes closed as even the slightest skin contact flooded our bodies with potent sexual energy.

Having undressed him from the waist up, my attention turned to his lower half. I knelt on the plush red carpet to unfasten his boots and remove his foot coverings. As usual, I was impressed with his well-pedicured feet and toenails and decided to give him a quick massage.


In a quick motion, he stood, now that his patience truly had reached its limits. He pulled his legs out of his pants, immediately followed by his underpants. I looked up at his glorious nudity. It always felt like the first time. In a matter of seconds, he pulled me to my feet, whipped me around, and unzipped my dress. The bodice slipped off my shoulders, and the dress fell to my feet. I wore nothing underneath.

“See, I told you I was easy,” I said softly, still speaking in Arandan.

He let out a low groan, his hands on my waist, bending over to slide his tongue along the back of my neck. I became playful again and ran back out to the beach. He chased after me, lifted me off my feet, and walked into the ocean. The lukewarm water felt silky with a curious fragrance to it.

“The oceans and rivers on Earth are blue like those on Fronidia and Renna One. Why is the water here red?”

“It contains a certain mineral that gives it this color and is also said to be excellent for the skin. However, try not to swallow any as it might upset your digestive system.”

Splashing around and playing chase games like children was fun, but Montor finally said, “Mina, I cannot wait any longer.”

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and asked the question that was pestering me.

“So, where did you and Ar Ona go? We were at the bar at the time you specified.”

“I took her home.”


“Well, exactly how far does she live?”


He glared at me.


“What is the problem, Mina?”


It was my turn to glare.


“Did you have sex with her?”


He was so hard to read. One minute serious, the next

laughing.


“So, you flirt all night with Gio, and now you pretend to be jealous of Ar Ona?”


He sounded incredulous.


“Well, she had her paws all over you.”


“Paws?”

He laughed harder than before. I guess the expression sounded weird in Lostai.

I’m such an idiot. After all, in three days, Montor will likely be out of my life forever.

He put his arm around me and pulled me close.

“No, Mina, I did not have sex with Ar Ona or her paws. She got intoxicated and annoying, so I took her home. Mina, let me be clear. You were the most bewitching female at that place tonight.”

I smiled at the compliment but wasn’t about to let him off so easy.

“Gio said you and she were a couple.”

“Yes, Gio was talking way too much tonight. It is true we had a brief relationship some time ago, but let us discuss something else...”


His breathing got heavy, and he shook his head in disbelief.


“How do you think I felt, catching you two dancing so close to each other, him touching your skin, like he owned you? I was ready to tear him apart, limb from limb, right then and there.”

I crossed my arms.

No. He doesn’t get to make himself the victim.

“Well, you made a point that we needed to hide our relationship. Do not pretend to be so innocent. I did not see you fighting off Ar Ona as she flirted with you. On top of that, you made a big scene about the time we should meet and then you arrive late. How do you think that made me feel? I was so worried about what I should do if you did not come back.”

“Of course I was going to come back for you...”


His voice lowered as mine elevated.


“I am on this planet for the first time in my life after being stuck on that moon with no outside contact for more than a revolution. I was starting to consider I might have to trust Gio, a male who I have just met, to take me safely somewhere I could spend the night. Remember, I do not know my way around here.”

He was dead serious now, chagrin in his eyes.


“I miscalculated the time. I am so sorry, Mina.”


“Gio said I should not trust you, that it might not be safe to ride with you, that you have a reputation, and rumor has it you play mind games with females and convince them to go to bed with you, and some do not even remember that it happened.”

A pained look swept across his face. For a moment, I thought he might cry.

“I would never do that.”

“Well, you once insinuated almost as much when we first boarded the spacecraft to leave Xixsted. Remember, when you said some females did not know why they found you so irresistible.”

“I was being a cocky idiot. What did you say?”


“When?” I asked, rolling my eyes.


“When he said those things about me.”


I chose to believe Gio had exaggerated about Montor, and now that I had him on the verge of tears, I figured it was time to end our argument and stroke his ego a bit. I made him wait for my reply, and then I let mischief creep into my eyes.

“I said if I went to bed with you, I was sure that I would remember it in the morning.”

He sighed in relief and thoroughly enjoyed my joke, laughing and kissing me on the cheek.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

The pounding of my heart and in my head made me dizzy as I jumped out of the pod and ran full speed to the crash site, already focusing my mind on moving rocks out of the way. I reached the craft and could hear nothing other than the sounds of crackling electricity, swirling wind, hail, and rocks crashing to the ground. It was a relief that I could make telepathic contact with Montor.

“Montor, are you OK? Kindor will be here soon, and between the three of us, we will get rid of all these rocks!”

“Mina, what are you doing here? You need to leave.”

“What do you mean, what am I doing here? Once I did not hear further from you, I realized you might be in trouble. We need to get you out of there.”

There was a strange tone to his voice in my mind, so weak that a sick feeling crept into the pit of my stomach.

“Mina, you must leave immediately. When Lostai crafts crash, they send out a homing signal. Reinforcements are probably on their way here now!”

“There is no way I am leaving you here. I will order Kindor to go back and take the Barinta away from here, but I am staying.”

“Listen to me. Not only is there danger from the Lostai, but there is seismic activity on this moon. The tremors may cause more rockslides. Also, my legs are broken and possibly my back too. I feel a strange numbness. I will not be able to run or fight.”

“You do not need to run. The pod is right here. I can help you in.”

After a few minutes of silence, I heard his voice again, his tone impatient now.

“Why are you so stubborn?”

“What are you saying? Let us not talk so much and focus on moving the rocks.”

“Mina! Leave, please. They will capture all of you and Josher. There is not a minute to spare!”

My head hurt, and I found myself gasping for breath.


“No! I will not!”


I continued to focus on removing the rocks as I agonized over whether I should have Kindor turn back or not. After a period of silence, Montor’s voice entered my mind again, stronger now, with an arrogance and unpleasantness that reminded me of when we first met.

“Mina, you are doing a terrible job as second-in-command. Listen carefully. I think I am not getting out of here, so it is time I own up to something I have done, something you most likely will not be pleased with.”

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

“I see where this is going,” said Kora nodding, her lips pursed.

“What?” I asked, surprised that she was so confident in what I would say next.

“Ah...the curse of Sotkari Ta...”she said, shaking her head.


“The curse of Sotkari Ta? What does that mean?” I asked.


“These days, every bad thing that has happened to our people is referred to as the curse of Sotkari Ta. If you ask me, it is unfair as we, Sotkari Ta, are proof that our people are destined to evolve to a higher level. The saying originated when, as part of our evolutionary process, Sotkari Ta became predisposed to prefer each other as mates, as opposed to regular Sotkari. I suppose it was nature’s way to further the evolution of our race.”

“Oh, yes, this was explained to me, but I never heard that expression before.”

“Yes, well, some Sotkari Ta are offended by it. As I was saying, the attraction between Sotkari Ta is extreme, almost irresistible, and occurs through any skin to skin contact, especially that involving the hands. In the early days of our evolution, we did not understand what was going on in our bodies and minds. The first evolved Sotkari had not yet learned how to become disciplined with their new abilities. People became romantically involved based only on this extreme physical attraction, resulting in many failed relationships. Marriages were broken due to illicit love affairs for the same reason. As these situations became more common, people began to blame it on what they called the curse of Sotkari Ta. Later, Sotkari people coined the term to describe all of their problems in general....the divisions between our people, children born with genetic defects, the Lostai takeover of Sotkar, the persecution and exile of the Sotkari Ta...”

“Oh, I see. I guess we can say even innocent people from other planets have become victims of this curse.”

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

I woke up the next day determined not to lose control for any reason. Montor’s morning lesson revolved around possible problems that could occur during the landing sequence. I kept our conversation centered on his explanations and any questions that I had. Later, I was proud of how well I sparred.


When we met midday at the kitchen, he greeted me with “Let us try to make pee xa.”

I blinked.
“Umm, I’m not sure...”


“From what you described, I think I know what instructions to give the food reproducer for the dough and sauce. My only question is what kind of toppings.”

The meals provided on Xixsted were mainly warm cereals, vegetable soups, and protein bars. I didn’t know what my options were.

“It could be cured meat similar to what was in the egg dish you shared with me yesterday morning. Also vegetables, but we need something that melts when heated to kind of meld everything together.”

I had learned the names of mammal-like animals in the Lostai language, so it would seem possible for dairy products to exist, but I had not seen any.

“We have something called cheese that is made from the curdled milk of domesticated cattle,” I explained.

He wagged his finger at me and nodded.

“Yes, I think I know what you are referring to. The Lostai do not like it, but we have several varieties in Aranda.”

He spoke his order in Arandan. Within minutes, he brought to the table a piping hot concoction resembling a rustic pizza-like dish that a Turkish friend had once prepared for me back in my college days. He made vertical slices and served himself a piece first. After he swallowed his first bite, an exuberant smile brightened his face.

“I like my version of pee xa.”


I tried it and was impressed.


“Not bad for a first try.”


He laughed with a boyish joy that didn’t match his large body. We finished eating and cleaning up. On my way out of the kitchen, he stopped me, placing one hand on my shoulder. Shortening the space between us to a proximity that we only used when sparring, he said, “Mina, I enjoyed making pee xa for you.”

I had to admit, it was a kind gesture on his part.

“It was thoughtful of you. I appreciate it.”


I looked down because my heart swelled with a feeling of bonding that was absurd considering our overall circumstances.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

The way to the river was up a rocky hillside. Before reaching the top, I already could hear gurgling, splashing water. Once there, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The steep mountainous wall on the other side of the hill dropped at least a hundred feet to a violent rush of red, foamy liquid bordered by giant rocks and boulders extending as far as I could see.

“Montor, the view is spectacular, but how are we crossing?”


He pointed sideways to a bridge. We walked across the top of the hill for another half hour to reach it. Once we arrived, I was flabbergasted again. The dilapidated swinging bridge was a sorry sight with several of the rusty slats missing and a flimsy railing. I guessed the bridge stretched on for at least two miles.

“This seems risky,” I said in a worried voice.

“I went over it yesterday just fine, but,” he looked at the sky again, “the weather is changing more quickly than I had expected. We need to hurry before the storm comes through. I can carry your backpack.”

“No, let me carry mine. Lasarta explained the backpacks represent how we need to share the burdens of married life. Plus, it is not a good idea for all our supplies to be with one of us. I will do my best to keep up with you.”

“OK, sweetness, then let us not waste any time.”

Back on Earth, I hated crossing these types of bridges. I used the mental strength I had developed from my Sotkari Ta training to stay focused and ignore the fear. Although looking down made me nervous, I needed to stay aware of which slats were missing. We kept a quick pace for about fifteen minutes until dark clouds rolled in, reminding me of the sudden thunderstorms that were common in Florida. Wind picked up and it began to pour. I shuddered with each clap of thunder. The slats became slippery, and the bridge rocked violently. Montor turned back to check on me and didn’t realize there were several slats missing in that spot.


The poor visibility, the momentum of the swinging, and the loss of balance created the perfect equation for the worst possible scenario. Montor fell through the empty space to the rushing river below. Midair, he threw off his backpack.

“Mina, grab it!” I heard his voice in my mind. “I can swim to the other side. Meet me there.”

I used my telekinetic abilities to bring the backpack into my arms and throw it over one shoulder while carefully jumping over the space Montor had just fallen through. Having surpassed the first hurdle, it took all my willpower to avoid worrying about whether Montor could survive a drop into a raging river from that altitude. Instead, I remained focused on getting to the other side. The bridge continued to swing, but there were hardly any more missing slats. Disregarding the whistle of the wind and the rain flooding my eyes, I maintained the consistent rhythm of my boots hitting the slats. The extra backpack taxed me, and I was out of breath.


After a half hour, I saw the other side. Seeing the end of the bridge helped steady my nerves. It took me another ten minutes to get there. I ran several yards down the hill to secure the backpacks and came back to the edge to scan the river below for any sign of Montor.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

He awoke hungry, so I broke out our snacks, and he popped open the wine. We ate. We drank. We slowly undressed and gave each other massages. We kissed and made love. We drank more wine and made love some more.

As we lay staring up to the cloudless sky, he said, “Mina, it is mind-boggling to me that all the luxuries and females and power I used to have never brought me the contentment I feel now. Even with all the challenges we face,” he turned to look at me, “I am happier than I have ever been.”

I met his eyes.
“You deserve happiness, Montor.”


“Mina?”


“Yes?”


He hesitated and looked to the sky again.


“Are you happy?”


I caressed his cheek.


“Yes, my king, of course. We are together, our son is doing  well. We are united on the same mission.”


“But as I look back at my time as a Lostai soldier, it makes sense that I am happier now because I hated what I had become, but you...”

Again, he searched my eyes.


“What?”


“You were perfectly happy before on your planet, right?”


I stretched my neck, rolled my shoulders, and took a deep breath.


“Why do you bring this up, Montor?”


“I am afraid of losing you, Mina.”

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

My eyes opened to find us standing in an alley next to the five-story building Marcia called home. If making the “jump” had been a void, once we arrived, I became a basket of emotions. It took five deep breaths to calm my heartbeat. The hanstoric screen displayed the equivalent of twenty Earth hours. I wasn’t clear if this meant a certain amount of time had gone by or simply the time remaining before I needed to recharge. In Astoria, Queens, New York City, I had no idea of the date or time, but dusk was falling and even with the jacket, a chilly wind made me shiver.

“Marcia, how do you feel?”


“Umm, fine.”


She hugged me hard, so I guessed she was equally affected. We walked to the street and stood in the building’s main entrance. Luckily, there weren’t many people out on the sidewalk.

“I’m going to walk back to the alley, but I’ll be keeping an eye on you. Ring the bell to your apartment. If they come down to get you, I will remain hidden. You need to telepathically let me know everything is ok. If they let you in, tell me, and I will follow you up the stairs, but I will stay one flight behind. Same thing, though. I won’t leave until you confirm you are with your parents and all is OK. Also, remember you can’t tell them I’m here right away. Later, you can tell them everything, but I can’t meet them now. Understood?”

“Yes, Mina.”


I got on one knee and held her close.
“You have been a very brave girl. I’ll miss you so much. I

hope one day we can meet again and that everything goes well with you.”

“I’ll miss you too. Thanks for bringing me home,” she replied, wrapping her arms around my neck and kissing my cheek.

My throat knotted up, and I could barely say, “OK sweetie, time to go.”

She nodded and walked up the stoop, disappearing in the vestibule to ring the doorbell of her apartment. My breathing became short and quick as if I had run a mile. Without any way of keeping track of Earth time, I started counting in my head to sixty, one minute, another minute, and at five minutes, the door burst open. A blond man with Marcia in his arms, and an olive- skinned woman ran down the front steps, looking up and down the street. I quickly stepped farther into the alley and hoped they hadn’t seen me. Marcia’s voice entered my mind, elated but concerned at the same time.

“Mina, I’m so happy. Everything is great. I’m with my mom and papai. They’re asking who brought me home so you should leave.”

“OK Marcia, God bless you. Remember to give them the note I gave you and pay attention to their advice on when and who you can talk about everything that happened to you.”

I continued down the alley to the adjacent block. Strolling down the sidewalk, I brushed the tears from my eyes to take in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood before slipping into another alley. The hot dog stand made me wish I had a couple of dollars.

Do I even remember what they taste like?

The hanstoric suddenly felt heavy. I bit my lip and studied the display, unclear on how to interpret the fact that the device initially started off with thirty and now it showed twenty.

Does this thing have juice for another jump?

The idea crept into my mind like a virus invading my body, bringing on both nausea and an adrenaline rush. I found myself zooming in to the state of Florida and staring at an aerial view of my home on the display. The possibility of catching a glimpse of my children was irresistible.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

We landed in a clearing near a thick jungle. The Arandan sky looked different from those of Earth, Renna One, and Fronidia. Although breathable for all of us, traces of certain gases in the atmosphere caused the sky to be mustard-colored and the clouds to be a light blue and lavender. Our spacecraft was equipped with two small transport pods that we used to travel to the Tan Aranda rebel base. The small island was in the middle of a red ocean, subject to bad storms most of the year, thousands of miles away from any land. Tan signified “free” in the Arandan language. The rebels had stolen Lostai technology that allowed them to encompass the entire base in a force field that both protected and hid it from detection.

A young Arandan soldier dressed in a red-and-green military uniform with a gold sash across the chest greeted us. A patch with a picture of a bird with bright red, gold, and green feathers adorned his jacket. At the sight of it, I stopped to think. I had seen this bird before. Then it came to me. Colora had this same bird tattooed on her midriff. She wasn’t just a chatty beauty salon owner. Underneath her effervescent personality lay the soul of a patriotic rebel.

The soldier escorted us to a conference room where refreshments and snacks were served. After we settled in, a middle-aged Arandan walked into the room, also dressed in uniform. Montor, who was sitting next to me, stood at attention, crossed his arms over his chest, and bowed. The Arandan did the same, so I concluded this was a salute. We all got to our feet, and Montor spoke in Lostai, which, for unfortunate reasons, was the only language that we all understood.

“All, this is Commander Portars. He manages the operations of this base.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you,” Commander Portars said, giving us all a once-over. “You are quite a mixed bunch. I suppose that is why we must speak in that language.” A bit of annoyance laced his tone.

There was no denying we were a diverse group and, I imagined, interesting to take in at once. Montor and his foster parents had the typical leonine Arandan features. Montor, built like a heavy-weight boxer, stood at least six-and-a-half feet tall. Kindor was also tall at about six feet with an athletic build and could have passed for human if it hadn’t been for his slate-colored skin and blue hair and lips. Colora’s eyes had black sclera and tiny pink pupils, and her nostrils were two tiny orifices in the center of her face.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

My second day on Xixsted was just as bad as the first. I woke up late, dressed, and ran to the gymnasium, wincing with each stride due to the wounds on my back. The lieutenant didn’t even introduce me to the other eleven young female Lostai soldiers in my squadron. I received an audio message on my tablet in English that simply said, “Follow what the rest do.”

No one acknowledged me as they all started to jog around the gymnasium. It was a slow, steady pace and I was grateful that I used to jog a few times a week. My body let me know when a half hour had gone by. They were just warming up. I was already winded when they increased to a full-on run. Soon, the entire squadron was way ahead of me, halfway across the gym. The lieutenant pressed her lips together and, shaking her head, activated my wristband. Although not as strong as the previous day, the shock was enough to bring tears to my eyes. I stumbled, and another, stronger shock made me nauseous. The run lasted about an hour, and the squadron never slowed their pace until the last few minutes of cool down. Not being used to this much continuous cardio, my legs cramped up, and I gasped for air.

The squadron moved on to a kind of plyometric workout including jumping squats and a type of push up that involved clapping behind the back. Of course, I couldn’t do even one of those. They also did heavy weight training and planks lasting for much longer than the two-minute ones I used to do. The squadron leader continued to deliver punishment via the wristband. Blood smudges reappeared around my wrist, and I couldn’t stop crying. Some of the soldiers snickered, and I glared at them, a slow rage seething throughout my body. I grabbed my tablet, walked over to the lieutenant, and spoke words in English that were translated into Lostai. The other soldiers froze in expectation while the lieutenant eyed me with suspicion. The arm with the wristband trembled as I spoke.

“As leader of this squadron, you are responsible for our training, correct?”

She spoke into her tablet and tapped the screen. Audio emitted on mine in English.

“Yes, of course.”


“Am I a part of this squadron?”


“Unfortunately, yes.”


“Is that any of our fault?” I gestured, pointing to her, myself, and the rest of the group.

“No.”

“So, regardless of whether we like it or not, you are responsible to make me into a Lostai soldier, yes?”

“Yes.”

“I have never done this before. Give me a chance, or we will both fail miserably.”

“Exzer said you need plenty of physical training to catch up to our military standards.”

“Yes, but I’m not a soldier. I won’t be able to do any training at all if you keep hurting me. I promise to do my best, but it’s going to take some time before I reach that level.”

She rolled her eyes. “I will take this into consideration, but if I think you are slacking, I will inform Zorla that you need an attitude adjustment.”

I walked back to my spot, and the workout continued. I tried to execute every single exercise, even if only one or two repetitions. She didn’t activate the wristband again.

Hand-to-hand combat drills followed the workouts. I was even more ill-prepared for those. I had taken a few months of martial arts training with my younger son, so I knew how to parry, block, and basic front kick, but these Lostai females were already full-contact sparring at an advanced level. There was no safety gear, and I was paired with a particularly aggressive partner. The lieutenant barked some instructions in Lostai that I didn’t have a chance to translate. My partner wasted no time kicking me on my left side, and I doubled over in pain. She conceded me no recovery time and landed another blow to my head. I went down, and when I opened my eyes, I was on an infirmary cot with my tablet on my stomach. A notification tone let me know I had a message.

I tapped the screen and heard in English, “You were treated for a broken rib and concussion. The injuries have been repaired. You should proceed to your Academics session.”

I walked out of the infirmary still disoriented and checked the schematics on my tablet to figure out how to get to my classes. I remembered it was a lab room with consoles where people took courses through individualized video sessions, but I had forgotten how to get there. My vision was a little blurry, and it was hard to concentrate. I walked around slowly trying to gather my bearings but soon found myself in an unfamiliar area. An alarm went off, and the wristband activated, causing me to shout out in pain. I turned to see several Lostai soldiers coming for me.

OK, I’m not going to run because they’ll think I did something wrong.

I began speaking an explanation into my tablet when they grabbed me and started dragging me off. My tablet fell to the floor, and one of them picked it up without looking at it. I screamed, asking for Exzer the whole way to Zorla’s office. She was not there when I arrived. Zorla greeted me with the same hypocritical smile, sending shivers down my spine. I knew what was coming next. Without Exzer there for translation, he didn’t even try to communicate to me before he used the rod on my back again. I later learned the word for the rod in Lostai is zirem.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

“What about you, Mina, do you have family?”

Montor had been absentmindedly eating as we conversed, but when Lasarta asked that question, he put his utensils down and locked eyes with me for a few seconds. I recalled what he had told Colora about me and decided to lie.

“I was a widow when I was taken, and I have three children.”

Lasarta covered her mouth with both hands.

“You mean your children are like orphans now? That is horrifying.”

She looked around to each of us at the table.

“This is what the Lostai do. Destroy. Destroy planets, destroy families, and destroy people,” she said.

Montor resumed eating with his eyes glued to his plate.

“Yes, my heart breaks every time I think of them, but I have two sisters and a very close friend. I am sure they are watching over them.”

Before I became too emotional, I decided it was my turn to change the subject.

“This meal is delicious. Is this a typical Arandan recipe?”

“Yes, we usually prepare Arandan meals for Montor. I am so glad you like it,” said Lasarta.

She asked me about food from Earth, and we continued on comparing everything from holidays to music to politics. I described how Thanksgiving is notorious for awkward reunions where family members with different points of view who have not seen each other for a long time start discussing touchy subjects such as religion, politics, old wounds, and gossip. I said it was especially uncomfortable for new spouses joining the family for the first time. They saw the parallels to our earlier conversation, and we all laughed.

The evening became more easygoing and enjoyable. Foxor served for dessert thin wafers sandwiched with a variety of sweet creams and jams. Lasarta brewed the same bitter beverage that I couldn’t handle at Zamandi’s Room, so I politely declined. Afterwards, we all helped clear the table. Lasarta and Foxor thanked us for our help but asked that we let them finish cleanup on their own. We understood they were making a point to allow Montor and me to have some time alone.

“What would you like to do now, Mina?” Montor asked.

“I guess I can have another glass of wine. And you know what? I would like to hear more music like what we danced to at Members Only.”

He bounced out of his chair.

“Really?” he said, sporting the boyish grin that I had seen only a few times. “Excellent idea. We can go out back by the waterfall, and I will have the music piped in. Let me get another bottle of wine.”

It was a clear night with a star-studded sky, and the two Renna One moons still appeared almost full. In addition to the flickering lights, someone had added candles to the area, which lent to a romantic ambiance. The first song was bluesy, similar to the one we heard at Members Only. We began to dance slowly.

“Thanks for lying about being a widow, Mina.”

“I sensed you were stressed about that. I did not want to spoil our dinner.”

“Yes, in my culture it is inappropriate to steal another male’s spouse unless he has a chance to fight for her. Foxor and Lasarta must have realized already that we have a relationship. Your husband on Earth has no way to defend his position, and it would be like taking the female from a male who is disabled. Totally dishonorable.”

“So, if you fight for her, it is OK to take another male’s spouse?”

“Only if she wishes it.”

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

When I returned to Colora, I explained to her everything that happened during our time in the jungle. She carefully examined my entire body for any bruises or blemishes that Montor might have missed before she set out to give me the ultimate skin, hair, nail, and massage treatments. These were all meant to relax me, but it was of no use. In a few hours, I would pronounce words of lifelong commitment to a new husband. Yet far away on Earth, a man wondered what happened to his wife.

Can I really just slough off my past like dead skin and move on?

The time to head out to the military base arrived fast. Colora did an exquisite job, styling my hair and applying makeup and a shimmering lotion all over my body.

“Mina, you look even more stunning than the day I first met you. I need to finish getting ready myself now. Someone is waiting to escort you to the base. I will follow in the other pod once I am done,” said Colora.

I grabbed the cake and walked to the pod docking area. Kindor faced away from my direction and turned around as soon as he heard my steps. He was dressed in a royal blue military uniform I wasn’t familiar with. I later learned it was a traditional Sotkari military uniform dating from the time they battled against the Lostai. He wore his hair slicked back and tied into a tail with a white band, making his chiseled features even more prominent. The blue color of his clothing complemented his gorgeous eyes. I was always taken aback whenever I realized how handsome he was.

He had never seen me dressed and made up for this type of occasion and literally tripped over his feet, causing me to look away, embarrassed for the both of us.

Kantarext!” he exclaimed.


“What? What is it?” I asked.


He slapped his palm against his forehead and then stood stiffly, putting both hands on his hips.


“Mina, you have me feeling like an adolescent meeting a beautiful female for the first time. You look amazing. Hurry, let us go before I decide to do something crazy.”

I couldn’t help but smile at the compliment.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

“I’m ready for my trip back home!” she said to me in English with a wide, energetic smile.

There’s nothing like the optimism of an innocent child.

We walked to the conference room where Sortomor was about to start our regular morning staff meeting. It gave everyone the opportunity to wish me luck and say goodbye to Marcia, a bittersweet moment that left everyone teary-eyed. Kindor requested permission to accompany me to the transportal site. Sortomor was reluctant at first but allowed it.

We met with Commander Larmont and the Transportal Nerds at their operations base inside the cave. Based on their research, the Transportal Nerds determined a person could carry objects while traveling through the transportal. We decided I should carry a weapon for self-defense in case we ended up in a hostile 

environment.

Please God, don’t let that happen.

Larmont handed me a small but deadly pistol called a vimor that delivered narrow radioactive beams with precision. I also packed a small bag with thirst pods, snacks, and first aid supplies in case something didn’t go as planned. We didn’t know whether we would arrive during summer or winter, day or night, so we wore thermal jackets. The pocket of magnetic field needed to open the portal was generated using a piece of equipment the size and shape of a laptop. We nicknamed it a hanstoric, or “jumper” in Arandan, and I needed to keep it with me throughout the trip.

The hanstoric controlled the complete process from storing the magnetic field that energized the transportation and initiating the “jump” to displaying the interactive maps that pinpointed the target destination. We suspected the Lostai had enhanced the equipment with the ability to detect Sotkari Ta brain waves, but The Transportal Nerds had not devoted any time yet to research that functionality. Montor had previously explained to the Transportal Nerds where and how the Milky Way and Earth’s solar system were represented on the Lostai star maps. The displays reminded me a bit of Google Earth. You tapped a location and zoomed in to specific target coordinates.

Luckily, Marcia knew the general location of her neighborhood, her home address, and the names of nearby important streets. She said her mother had helped her memorize them using a song.

Good job, Marcia’s mom!

The Transportal Nerds started me out with an image of our galaxy and then our solar system. Next, I identified Earth, continued to zoom in to North America, then New York City, then Queens, and further in detail until I found the exact neighborhood in Astoria that Marcia was from. There were no names of cities or streets on these images. It took a while, but I had spent enough holidays and vacations with my grandmother in New York City when I was growing up to be familiar enough with the area and figure it out. Marcia helped me identify her building, and I then zoomed in to find an inconspicuous spot for us to “land.” In reality, we would more likely be appearing out of thin air. Once we locked in the location, one of the readings showed the equivalent of thirty Earth hours. We weren’t sure but assumed this referred to the time the hanstoric could store its magnetic properties before having to be returned to the crystalline cave to recharge. It was our best guess of the time limit I had to complete the trip.

Once we were finished with our preparations and with Larmont’s final approval, the Transportal Nerds and three Arandan soldiers accompanied Marcia, Kindor, and me down one of the tunnels to the transportal site. From the cave’s first large room, several tunnels and passageways led deep into smaller rooms, some of which detained Lostai prisoners in holding cells, and at the very end, the walls became crystalline. Here was the laboratory where we would initiate the “jump.” This part of the cave lit up and sparkled as daylight shone through the smooth transparent blue and orange rock.

“Wow, Mina, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Marcia in awe.

Before initiating the process, I hugged Kindor and hoped the Transportal Nerds wouldn’t snitch on me. Luckily, Marcia did the same, so even the Arandans would have to acknowledge it was innocent enough.

“Mina, I will be standing right here tomorrow awaiting your return. I know everything will go to plan. The Farthest Light will guide your way.”

“Thank you, Kindor. I pray for the same.”

Our understanding was that any person or thing within a certain circumference of the hanstoric would be transported. The Arandans and Kindor stood back well outside of that area as I held Marcia close to me and said a silent prayer before tapping the final command. We perceived no sounds, no incredible flashes of light or electromagnetic activity, or any strange bodily sensations. Traveling through the transportal was like falling into oblivion with no concept of how much time had passed.

My eyes opened to find us standing in an alley next to the five-story building Marcia called home. If making the “jump” had been a void, once we arrived, I became a basket of emotions. It took five deep breaths to calm my heartbeat. 

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

My second day on Xixsted was just as bad as the first. I woke up late, dressed, and ran to the gymnasium, wincing with each stride due to the wounds on my back. The lieutenant didn’t even introduce me to the other eleven young female Lostai soldiers in my squadron. I received an audio message on my tablet in English that simply said, “Follow what the rest do.”

No one acknowledged me as they all started to jog around the gymnasium. It was a slow, steady pace and I was grateful that I used to jog a few times a week. My body let me know when a half hour had gone by. They were just warming up. I was already winded when they increased to a full-on run. Soon, the entire squadron was way ahead of me, halfway across the gym. The lieutenant pressed her lips together and, shaking her head, activated my wristband. Although not as strong as the previous day, the shock was enough to bring tears to my eyes. I stumbled, and another, stronger shock made me nauseous.


The run lasted about an hour, and the squadron never slowed their pace until the last few minutes of cool down. Not being used to this much continuous cardio, my legs cramped up, and I gasped for air.

The squadron moved on to a kind of plyometric workout including jumping squats and a type of push up that involved clapping behind the back. Of course, I couldn’t do even one of those. They also did heavy weight training and planks lasting for much longer than the two-minute ones I used to do. The squadron leader continued to deliver punishment via the wristband. Blood smudges reappeared around my wrist, and I couldn’t stop crying.


Some of the soldiers snickered, and I glared at them, a slow rage seething throughout my body. I grabbed my tablet, walked over to the lieutenant, and spoke words in English that were translated into Lostai. The other soldiers froze in expectation while the lieutenant eyed me with suspicion. The arm with the wristband trembled as I spoke.

“As leader of this squadron, you are responsible for our training, correct?”

She spoke into her tablet and tapped the screen. Audio emitted on mine in English.

“Yes, of course.”


“Am I a part of this squadron?”


“Unfortunately, yes.”


“Is that any of our fault?” I gestured, pointing to her, myself, and the rest of the group.

“No.”

“So, regardless of whether we like it or not, you are responsible to make me into a Lostai soldier, yes?”

“Yes.”

“I have never done this before. Give me a chance, or we will both fail miserably.”

“Exzer said you need plenty of physical training to catch up to our military standards.”

“Yes, but I’m not a soldier. I won’t be able to do any training at all if you keep hurting me. I promise to do my best, but it’s going to take some time before I reach that level.”

She rolled her eyes.

“I will take this into consideration, but if I think you are slacking, I will inform Zorla that you need an attitude adjustment.”

I walked back to my spot, and the workout continued. I tried to execute every single exercise, even if only one or two repetitions. She didn’t activate the wristband again.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

We couldn’t have been more different, he being so much taller and of an entirely different species. Yet a part of our DNA was identical. He rubbed his head against my hair, breathing deeply.

“Our situation is so unfortunate. If only we had met under normal circumstances, I would have proposed, and if you accepted, we would have created a family and spent our lives together. I do not know why now this feels so important to me. In the past, such things did not concern me,” he said.

The song was over. Montor poured us each a glass of wine, and we sat on the daybed.

“Well, maybe it is a matter of what stage of life you are in,” I said.

“Are you saying I am old?”
He pretended to be offended.


“No, of course you are not, but like everyone else, your perspectives change as time goes by. Although I am flattered with what you have said, how can you be so sure that I would be the right lifelong partner for you? We have been in this relationship for less than one lunar cycle. These decisions should not be taken lightly. I can speak about this because I have experience in such matters.”

He side-glanced and turned away from me.

“Yes, I know you have already lived what I described, back on Earth, with your husband, the love of your life, and the Lostai took it all away. You need not remind me.”

“I did not mean to offend you. My point is that my husband and I rushed into marriage too young because I was pregnant. Things eventually worked out for us, but it was difficult in the beginning...for many revolutions.”

He turned around to face me and look down into my eyes. His yellow eyes held mine captive. I dared not look away.

“I can tell you this. In the short time I have known you, I have learned that you are a female of conviction. You stand by your values. At first glance, you might appear weak and vulnerable, but in fact, you are strong, a survivor. You have shown me loyalty, and I know you have a kind heart. I can only assume you were a fine mother. You are a fun person. My favorite people, Kaya, Jortan, Colora, Foxor, and Lasarta, love you already. Let us not forget that I am very physically attracted to you and I cannot get enough of your body. Seriously, Mina, what else do I need to figure out?”

I was touched by his declaration.
“I...I do not know what to say...”


“These are just simple facts, Mina,” he said, shrugging his

shoulders.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

I woke up the next day determined not to lose control for any reason. Montor’s morning lesson revolved around possible problems that could occur during the landing sequence. I kept our conversation centered on his explanations and any questions that I had. Later, I was proud of how well I sparred.



When we met midday at the kitchen, he greeted me with “Let us try to make pee xa.”

I blinked.


“Umm, I’m not sure...”


“From what you described, I think I know what instructions to give the food reproducer for the dough and sauce. My only question is what kind of toppings.”

The meals provided on Xixsted were mainly warm cereals, vegetable soups, and protein bars. I didn’t know what my options were.

“It could be cured meat similar to what was in the egg dish you shared with me yesterday morning. Also vegetables, but we need something that melts when heated to kind of meld everything together.”

I had learned the names of mammal-like animals in the

Lostai language, so it would seem possible for dairy products to exist, but I had not seen any.

“We have something called cheese that is made from the curdled milk of domesticated cattle,” I explained.

He wagged his finger at me and nodded.

“Yes, I think I know what you are referring to. The Lostai do not like it, but we have several varieties in Aranda.”

He spoke his order in Arandan. Within minutes, he brought to the table a piping hot concoction resembling a rustic pizza-like dish that a Turkish friend had once prepared for me back in my college days. He made vertical slices and served himself a piece first. After he swallowed his first bite, an exuberant smile brightened his face.

“I like my version of pee xa.”


I tried it and was impressed

.
“Not bad for a first try.”


He laughed with a boyish joy that didn’t match his large

body. We finished eating and cleaning up. On my way out of the kitchen, he stopped me, placing one hand on my shoulder. Shortening the space between us to a proximity that we only used when sparring, he said, “Mina, I enjoyed making pee xa for you.”

I had to admit, it was a kind gesture on his part.

“It was thoughtful of you. I appreciate it.”


I looked down because my heart swelled with a feeling of bonding that was absurd considering our overall circumstances.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

Montor went inside the mine to extract information from workers regarding the escapees and told me to wait outside. He was in there for a while, so I paced around to release some of my nervous energy. I heard a commotion. A woman was screaming in Spanish. I turned around and came face-to-face with a brunette woman. Her tattered clothing hung loosely from her emaciated body, and tears streamed down her hollow cheeks. Without thinking twice, I asked her what the problem was. I could only imagine her shock to see a human-looking woman in full Lostai uniform, speaking in a language she understood. She looked at me, perplexed, but quickly explained that her fifteen-year-old son had died earlier in the day and the Lostai soldier in charge of her group had decided to just throw his body in a junk pile. She begged they allow her to give him a proper burial and threw herself on me crying, asking for my help. A Lostai sergeant walked over and called for several soldiers to take the woman away.

“Please, she is only requesting to be able to bury her young son. They threw his body away like trash,” I said to the sergeant.

“Mind your place, soldier. This is none of your concern,” he answered.

“What is wrong with you? Are you savages?” I shouted and went to help the woman.

“You are out of line, soldier,” shouted the sergeant.

He ran over and pushed me to the ground while pulling his weapon from his holster. My mental training kicked in, and I caused the weapon to fly out of his hand and into mine. I was still on the ground but now aiming his weapon at him. He put his hands in the air. The woman and other soldiers froze.

“We should all just calm down for a second,” screamed the sergeant while looking around.

“What is going on here?”

I heard Montor’s voice. In a split second, the weapon was out of my hand and in his. He walked over with the swagger he typically portrayed at Xixsted. His face was like stone, and I jumped to my feet, adrenaline causing my pulse to race. Montor handed the weapon back to the sergeant.

“Who is this person? She disarmed and threatened me,” the sergeant asked Montor, pointing at me.

“Mina, what trouble have you gotten yourself into? Now I have no choice but to put on an act,” Montor communicated to me telepathically.

“This is the piece of crap trainee that Zorla has assigned to me,” Montor answered the sergeant.

“Mina, brace yourself!” Montor said to me telepathically.

Before I knew it, Montor hit me with a palm strike to the face. Restrained, but still harder than when we sparred. I fell back to the ground. My lip split, and I tasted blood.

“What is wrong with you, soldier? How dare you threaten a commanding officer?” Montor shouted out loud to me.


He followed with a swift kick to the side. I doubled over in pain.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

One evening while Kaya and I were having dinner alone in my room, she told me something I had wanted to hear since my abduction.

“Mina, I cannot help you escape this place, but I know of someone who is in a better position to assist you. His name is Montor, and I think he is the one they plan to have you mate with. He is from a planet called Aranda and also has a complete set of embedded Sotkari Ta genes. The Lostai have complete trust in him because, although he was once a hostage such as yourself, he embraced his new lifestyle and position in the Lostai military. He now enjoys the same freedoms and benefits as any Lostai soldier.”

“Uhhh, I am confused. Why would this person help me? It sounds more likely that he would turn me in rather than help me escape.”

Kaya walked around without immediately replying. Finally, she clarified, “He also secretly cooperates with rebel factions to help them cause many problems for the Lostai military. Luckily, neither side has ever suspected the truth. He is loyal to no one...”

“Oh, I see, what we call a double agent on Earth.”

Abruptly, her pacing came to a stop, and she swung around to face me, looking me straight in the eyes.

“...except to me. He is loyal to me. I successfully trained him in all facets of Sotkari Ta abilities. He has become an extremely powerful being and is a complicated person with a complicated history. He lost his whole family during famine and wars that ravaged his planet. Similar to what occurred on Sotkar, the Lostai came in and took advantage of the situation. He was a child when they identified him as having Sotkari Ta genes and brought him to this station. I was the closest thing to a mother he had growing up here.”

“Kaya, I do not get how you can be OK with the work he does for the Lostai. I am grateful for your friendship, but sometimes I am not clear on your moral compass.”

“Mina, do not try to pass judgement on me. I have already explained my situation. My job here is to train people as per Lostai requests. To not comply would put my granddaughter in grave danger. How my trainees choose to live their lives, how they use these abilities, whether they become part of Lostai society or rebel against them, is out of my control.”

I disagreed with her position, but it was a discussion for another time.

“OK, Kaya, so do you think I can trust this person?”


She pressed her lips together and sighed.


“He agreed I reveal to you the fact that he is involved with covert activities against the Lostai so that you could trust him. We have both taken this tremendous risk on your behalf. Please do not make me regret it. If he suspects that you might in any way divulge this secret, he will kill you without a second thought. I will not be able to intervene.”

I gulped as Montor sounded more and more frightening by the minute.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

At the end of the day, Exzer escorted me to the Commander’s office. Sitting at his desk, he looked up and greeted me with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. I remained as far from him as possible, hardly any space between my back and the door closing behind me. He looked like Exzer and the others. Same round bald head, deep-set eyes, small mouth, but his brow bones protruded much more than hers. I couldn’t figure out the color of his dark eyes. Two soldiers stood by his desk. My muscles tensed as they moved closer to me while Exzer stepped forward. Still sitting, he spoke using Exzer as a translator. I hung on her every word.

“My name is Zorla, and I am in charge of this science station. We are pleased to have acquired such an invaluable specimen. You do not have full understanding of this yet, but your complete set of Sotkari Ta genes makes you quite the prize. We acquired you at a lot of risk and expense.”

He stood and walked towards me with slow, deliberate steps. I shifted my weight as my heartbeat accelerated. For some reason, he gave me the creeps. A few inches taller than Exzer but still shorter than me, he tilted his head up to meet my eyes while speaking in slow, drawn-out syllables.


Contempt crept into his expression as he looked me over. I tried to inch back, but there was no space. Our eyes locked again for a moment before mine shifted towards the soldiers now on either side of me.

“However, let me be clear. I have no tolerance for any disobedience. I hear you tried to escape this morning. Therefore, you must be punished.”

I glanced at my arm, preparing myself for the wrist band to be activated as Exzer had done before. He barked an order in their language. My eyes darted around the room, trying to anticipate what he meant. One of the soldiers turned towards me, grabbing the ends of my shirt. I tried to get away from him, but the other pointed a weapon at me.

I whimpered as the first soldier gestured for me to lift my arms so that he could remove my shirt. My heart pounded with fear and shame for having my breasts exposed. I quickly lowered my arms to cover them. No one stopped me or was interested in ogling at them. Instead, the two soldiers immediately turned me to face away from Zorla, holding me in place.

A moment of deadly silence.

What are they going to do to me?

Three quick breaths and I had my answer. He poked me with some sort of rod that delivered an electric burn. A searing, scraping sensation on my upper back caused me to gape a silent scream of shock. I struggled trying to free myself, but the soldiers were strong and the pain was debilitating. After the first jab, he did it again, this time dragging the end down the length of my back. He increased the intensity. Now, in addition to feeling the damage on my skin, spasms of pain shook my entire body. This was far worse than the earlier wristband burn. I wailed and screamed, shaking my head.

“Stop it!” I uttered those words only once as the rest of the time, my breath came only in ragged gasps.

My body went limp, and the soldiers exerted extra effort to keep me standing. I looked over my shoulder to search for Exzer. Her eyes met mine without any sign of compassion. Zorla used the rod on me three more times, hovering it by my ear first so that I could hear the buzz and sense the vibration. He was slow about it. Each time I hoped it was over, he prodded me at a higher setting.


At the end, I fell to my knees and became dizzy, surely about to pass out, but the soldiers pulled me to my feet, and someone threw my shirt back to me.


Exzer continued to translate for Zorla.

“Put on your shirt. I do not want to look at your awful body any more than I have to.”

My whole body trembled, and Exzer needed to help me get my shirt on as I didn’t even have the strength to lift my arms. She wasn’t gentle. The fabric coming in contact with the wounds on my back provided a new torment. Once I was dressed, she turned me to face Zorla. His lips curled in disgust, and he tapped the rod as he spoke his final words. Exzer translated again.

“Let this serve you as a lesson. If you do not meet expectations, I will have you punished even more severely.”

My legs were jelly, so the soldiers held me up and Exzer led us to the medical office.

“The doctor will apply an ointment to avoid infection but will not attend to the pain or repair the damage. We will leave your skin scarred so that you are reminded to follow instructions going forward,” said Exzer.

After my brief visit with the medic, Exzer escorted me to my dormitory and showed me how to use the equipment in the room, including the food reproducer. Still in shock, I had no words for her.

Before leaving, she said,

“I suggest you make better use of

your resting hours tonight. Tomorrow, your squadron leader is expecting you to join their military drills at the appointed morning hour. Do not be late.”

My dormitory included a communication system with a large video screen that could be programmed to selfie mode. Before getting into bed, I checked my back and sobbed again as the broken skin and grotesque welts came into view.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

At the next day’s morning staff meeting, Sortomor showed us on the viewer images of Dit Lar, which was now mere hours away. My heart jumped as I realized Lostai battle crafts were approaching the perimeter established by the United Rebel Front.

As usual, I forgot to keep my place and shouted out, “Should we be this close? We can easily be targeted.”

“We have perfectly good defense systems, and I have volunteered to help. You females should leave to pray while we males man the weapon and defense controls.”

Lasarta and Colora gathered the children and left without argument, but Officer Lorret and I looked at each other with one shared thought. Her eyes begged me to say something.

I pulled my shoulders back, steadied myself, and glared up at him so that he could see that I meant business.

“You will be short-handed if you attempt to take us into the mix with just you four males. I have military training, am familiar with everyone’s expertise here, and Montor has made sure that I can man every position on this bridge. You are putting the life of my son at risk, so I will not be relegated to a corner. Lorret has military experience and should be here in case we suffer injuries.”

Lorret barely hid her satisfaction as Sortomor was at a loss for words. His eyes blazed with displeasure, and for a moment, I wondered if I had pushed my luck with him.

Foxor chimed in, “Captain Sortomor, forgive Mina’s approach. Her people’s culture is very different from ours, but the truth is we need their help.”

Sortomor took a deep breath, covering his mouth. The air thickened with tension. With a long exhale, he replied,


“Very well, you and Lorret will take charge of our defensive systems and sensors. What can the Sotkari do?”

“Umm, if I may suggest, Captain, because we can share a telepathic connection and will not waste time with translations, I think Kindor should be with me on defense and sensors. Lorret can help you on the weapons array, Foxor can monitor the ship’s operating systems, including environmental and propulsion, and Damari should be at the helm and controlling navigational systems.”

Foxor turned away to conceal his smile. Sortomor’s lips formed a tight line before shouting,

“You heard her. Everyone, take your positions.”

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

I told her about my escape to Fronidia, my conversation

with Portars, and my adventures so far on the Namson planet. She asked many questions. One was particularly humorous.

“Should I be worried about any Namson female catching your attention?”

“I would have to first figure out which are the females. They know each other by sense of smell. Me? I do not have a clue.”

We laughed, and she allowed herself to fall back on the bed, arms splayed and legs slightly separated, still dangling over the edge of the tall bed that had been custom made for my height. Her belly button peeked at me from under her blouse. Something about her positioned like that reminded me of a table set with a feast. I could not wait to taste her sweetness.

“Mina, I am sorry for being so ill-tempered before. Not too many things scare me, but the idea of something bad happening to you terrifies me.”

She smiled, flirtation in her eyes. I got down on my knees and gently pulled apart the magnetic strips that held her blouse together. Pressing my face gently against her abdomen, with a deep inhale, I took in her scent, not surprised to find nothing underneath when I pulled off her pants. Sliding down, I spread her legs further and reveled in the taste of her.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

“OK, Kaya, so do you think I can trust this person?”


She pressed her lips together and sighed.


“He agreed I reveal to you the fact that he is involved with covert activities against the Lostai so that you could trust him. We have both taken this tremendous risk on your behalf. Please do not make me regret it. If he suspects that you might in any way divulge this secret, he will kill you without a second thought. I will not be able to intervene.”

I gulped as Montor sounded more and more frightening by the minute.

“I am going to inform Zorla we have not progressed much in your next phase of training and we need Montor’s help. I will explain that because he too was once dormant, he might have good advice for you. This will allow the three of us time together to discuss your next steps.”

I hardly slept that night as I tried to anticipate what kind of person this Montor was and how he might help me escape. I didn’t have to wait too long.

The next day while Kaya and I were having dinner, there was a buzz at my door. I pressed the button on my console that opened the door, and he strolled in with great swagger and a long gait.

Built like a heavyweight boxer, he was more than a foot taller than my five-foot, four-inch frame. His face had a leonine appearance with wide, high cheekbones and yellow eyes that slanted upwards. The nose was broad and flat, and he had a strong jaw. Thin lips, when parted, revealed perfectly aligned, shiny white teeth except for the large beastly canines. His long, wild hair hung from his head in thick, twisted locks. He wore a dark skintight suit made of a stretchy material that covered all of his body except his hands, outlining every muscle and contour. Let’s just say, everything was in perfect proportion to his height. With not much left to the imagination, I felt the need to avert my eyes. His face and hands were a tawny color and covered by soft fuzz.

He walked up to Kaya and nodded in deference. Taking his time to look me over, a smirk appeared on his face. He spoke out loud with a deep voice in perfect Lostai.

“Kaya, is this insignificant, tiny creature what they expect me to procreate with?”

My face was hot and I’m sure red as a tomato. He walked up into my personal space and glared down at me.

“These orange eyes remind me of my canine pet. Revolting,” he said.

Kaya’s expression was apologetic while he continued.

“Frankly, I do not even think it is physically possible without causing her some injury, but I suppose it will be entertaining to find out.”

He reached out to rub my cheek with the back of his hand. Evenly filed, short, dark fingernails grazed my skin. For some reason, I was surprised by his well-manicured hands. His touch first felt like peach fuzz and something else I couldn’t pinpoint but left me uncomfortable. I’d had enough.


With a sudden outward block, I aggressively pushed his hand away, but he was quicker. He grabbed my hand twisted it and with his other hand pulled me up against him, the smirk replaced with a cruel snarl. Now that we were up close, I noticed he wore two dark leather-like cords around his neck, each with a silver-tone amulet.


In a matter of seconds, Kaya reached up to place her hand on his shoulder, a stern expression on her face. He let me go while stumbling back several feet, rubbing his hands and cracking his knuckles. He lowered his head and spoke again in a quiet voice.

“Forgive me, Kaya. I was only having some fun. She is a feisty one. We might be able to copulate after all.”

The whole situation upset me. Was I supposed to put my trust in this unpleasant, aggressive person? I turned around so they wouldn’t notice my tears. I sensed Kaya communicating telepathically to the both of us.

“Mina, I apologize for Montor’s behavior. He has a misplaced need to intimidate everyone he meets, but you will need to learn to deal with him, as I believe he is the one person who can get you out of here,” said Kaya.

I turned back around to face them, chewing my lip and concentrating to reply telepathically to both of them at the same time. I offered my forearm to Montor in the typical Sotkari handshake.

“Hello, Montor, my name is Mina. Trust me, I find the idea of having sexual relations with you pretty disgusting too.”

He chuckled and accepted my outstretched forearm with a tight wrist squeeze but quickly let go. In that brief moment of skin contact, the weird sensation came over me again, like I’d been touched intimately. My heartbeat raced, but I brushed it out of my mind.

 

Weekly Snippets

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

"I should never have been in this position in the first place. My destiny was already set. I had a husband and a family. This was not supposed to happen to me.”

My words were choppy between the sobbing. He looked away.

“And now here...here I am falling in love with you. I have never had a casual fling. This is not just about sex for me, Montor. Yet in a few days, I will be off to Fronidia and maybe will never see you again. I cannot pretend like this does not affect me.”

He turned back to look at me and wiped off my tears with his fingers. He spoke in a low and grave voice.


“This is not easy for me, either.”


We stared at each other for a few minutes without speaking. “Mina, if you like, you can sleep upstairs in the bedroom. I can stay here and leave you in peace.”


I cupped his face in my hands and kissed him.

“Trust me, sleeping alone will not bring me peace. I guess I needed to share my feelings.”

I leaned back on the bed. He embraced me and traveled down to the cutout in the dress top to kiss my cleavage. He continued to slide down until he was able to get his hands under the full dress skirt. His hands were on my thighs, my butt, my waist. His breathing quickened.

“It would be a shame to spoil the dress,” I said.

“That is true, and I have made a promise to myself. You know I cannot resist a challenge. One day, Mina, I do not know how yet, but I will make you my spouse, and you will wear this dress to our wedding.”

I didn’t answer, thinking it a bit presumptuous of him, but we stood, he unzipped the back of the dress, and I stepped out of it. He picked it up and carefully laid it on one of the lounge chairs.

When we made love that night, it was different from previous times. We were not trying to make each other lose control. It wasn’t just about the pleasure. At one point, he took my hands and lifted my arms above my head, his palms pressing down on mine, and our hips moving in sync. His upper body was in a plank position, and fueled by raw emotion, we gazed in each other’s eyes, refusing to break the connection. My eyes filled with tears again, and I saw his glisten.


When we reached the climax, I finally shut my eyes as satisfaction consumed me. I heard his voice telepathically in my mind saying my name and something incomprehensible, I guessed in Arandan.

We fell asleep, but a few hours later, I awoke to Montor tracing my eyebrows, nose, and cheekbones with his finger. Drowsy, I looked around and saw it was not yet morning.

“Mina, I was thinking, perhaps we should delay your trip to Fronidia.”

“What do you mean? What about Zorla and the issues I am trying to escape from?”

 
Snippets - Military functions.jpg
 
Snippet - Exzer I have a husband and chi
 
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Snippets - Patience This obnoxious creat
 
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