“Thank you, Lord Sarc,” Zera returned with diplomatic courtesy, maintaining her cool demeanor. She managed to keep her gaze level and steady with Sarc’s. “Your words ring true, but I must tell you, though I have given you my word, and it matters not whether it was before a roomful of our subjects or in private, I am bound by my own mouth either way.” She slowly took a deep breath. It was obvious what Zera was about to say was difficult for her. “But I must tell you, should I find you are in any way connected to the death of my brother, I will not forgive you.”
“Zera, I don’t doubt your word, and know you value it as you do honor. Know I do mine, as well. I know you’ve seen the transmissions of how Lord Enos died. I had no part in it.” Sarc slipped an arm around her waist and drew her close against his muscle-hard chest, staring down into her ensnared gaze. “But know also, regardless of any mistaken perceptions, you will serve all your duties as my sworn, loyal subject, my wife, and my queen. Had I been involved in your brother’s death, I would not have given you a choice.” His arm tightened, and he cupped her chin with his other hand, his thumb brushed her bottom lip. “I would have claimed Seti-Cronus, and you, without the dangers of a duel between us. You know I have that capability, but felt it fitting to allow you a choice. I have no desire to harm you, even to the wound on your hand.” He released her chin and drew her injured sword hand to his lips and with tender care, kissed an uninjured area. “If mere possession of your world, or you, was my motive, at this moment the only sounds you would be making would be gasps of passionate pleasure, captive in my bed.” With slow, purposeful movements, his lips closed over hers, taking control of her breathing.
Zera was breathless from Sarc’s kiss when he drew away. Sarc continued to place heated, light kisses down her neck making speech difficult.
Zera whispered, “You make grand assumptions, Milord.” She gasped a sharp breath when his lips touched the hollow of her throat. “Thinking you would bring me pleasure by raping me.”
Sarc stopped. His bold stare roamed over her. “I said nothing of rape, my bride.” He reminded her of their impending nuptials. “The simple difference between tonight and tomorrow evening is a ceremony, the formal blessings of god and the goddess through a priest and a priestess.”
Zera, not to be out-bantered, rejoined, “And my word that I will submit to you as your wife.”
“True,” Sarc conceded, humor in his voice. Zera’s slight smiled clued him she knew he was teasing. “But as a slave, I could restrain you until I convinced you,” a wolfish grin touched his lips, “how pleasurable our relationship will be. Either way, Zera, we will be bound together as it was meant to be.” His lips briefly took hers again. “I was told of your beauty, and of your ability with a sword. Both were understatements of your true qualities,” Sarc whispered near her ear. Holding her close, instead of kissing her he placed light nibbles on her neck. His bold lips traveled down as far as her gown would permit. Her natural scent made him wish he’d claimed her as his slave. Waiting another night and day to bed her would be hell. He smoothed a hand over her leg, exposed by her slashed skirt. She jumped as his fingers skimmed over the silken flesh of her sensitive inner thigh.
“My Lord! Please!” Zera gasped, breathless, apprehensive.
Sarc sighed and drew away. “Zera, you are indeed lovely, but I’ll not press you further…” He paused. “…this evening.” He smiled at her blush. Spying a decanter of brandy, he rose, poured them each a snifter and presented Zera with one.