In this excerpt from For Women Only, Ambassador Mehfawni Ruh has just discovered her brother, Dallon, has been murdered. She must return to her home planet. But she’s Khyff’s only hope of saving his brother.
The chill in the room had nothing to do with air temperature. Now that Mehfawni knew about her brother’s death, Khyff felt the collective gaze of her all-female staff stab into him. He didn’t need telepathy to read their thoughts. Their body language shouted at him.
Be gone, alien. Get out. You don’t belong here.
Fawni’s eyes filled with tears as she looked up at him.
Khyff melted. No matter how much the others hated him and wanted him gone, he couldn’t leave her alone with this kind of news. What if it had been Senth who’d died? That possibility was all too real.
Khyff wrapped both arms around her and held her tightly against him, his cheek against her hair. “Oh, Fawni, I’m so sorry.”
She clutched his leather jacket and clung to him as if all the strength had seeped out of her. He stroked her hair and kissed her brow.
“This can’t be true.” Her voice was muffled against his jacket. She turned and faced Kata. “There’s been a mistake. It has to be wrong.”
Kata didn’t lift her gaze. “I’m sorry, Eetzesar. The news came directly from Tzesar Ehldani.”
Khyff expected Mehfawni to crumble. He could feel her shaking. But she drew herself up to her full height and took two steps away from him. With one hand on Kata’s arm, she looked around the room at her staff. Ten Kin gazed back at her, their expressions full of pride and sorrow.
She cleared her throat. “Thank you. All of you. Kata, when do we return home?”
The young assistant looked up, revealing the tracks of tears on her face. “At dawn, Eetzesar.”
He wanted to hold Mehfawni, bring her back into his arms, but she kept her back rigid, her head high.
“Good, Kata. I’ll need you to help me with a few things.” She told the others, “Get some rest. We’ll all need our strength when we get home.”
Her staff dispersed quietly, and Mehfawni reached back and held Khyff’s hand while she talked softly to Kata in her breathy native language.
What am I going to do now? Images rose in Khyff’s mind. Senth swathed in bandages, lying in the hospital. NarrAy trapped in a glass cage. Both depending on him for their freedom. For their lives. And all he could do was stand here and hold Mehfawni’s hand while the hope he had for saving them made arrangements to leave.
Khyff’s attention riveted to Mehfawni’s words. “What?”
She looked up at him. “You’re such a male, Khyffy. Here I am making arrangements for your brother and his fiancée, and you’re not even paying attention.”
“Arrangements? What kind of arrangements?”
“You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?”
“Well, you were speaking Felis, so I couldn’t understand you.”
“Don’t apologize. You’re upset. It’s natural. What arrangements?”
“I can’t leave you, Khyffy. I want you to come home with me.”
His stomach went all hollow and his head light. His chest ached. He couldn’t catch his breath, couldn’t speak.
Felidae? Kin. Enemies. And…Mehfawni. He breathed. “I… Mehfawni, my brother… I–”
“Khyff, I know you can’t leave when you’re worried about your family. I couldn’t do that either. So Kata’s going to make sure my diplomatic immunity is extended to Senth and his fiancée. NarrAy’s a Better, isn’t she?”
“Then your brother is addicted to her. He’ll need her pheromones if he’s going to heal properly. We need to get her out of prison so they can be together.”
“Mehfawni, I don’t understand.” His heart pounded so hard, he was afraid he wouldn’t hear her answer. Is this what hope feels like? Is there some way to keep Sen and NarrAy safe and escape the Conqueror’s choke hold?
Mehfawni gave him a look that said he should try to pay attention, and then she grasped his hands. “I read their story in the news, remember? It wasn’t fair of the police to imprison her for defending her mate. At the time, I thought there wasn’t anything I could do, but now that I know it’s your brother, I can do something. If you come home with me as part of my entourage, you’ll have diplomatic immunity, which extends to your family as well, if I wish it.” She squeezed his hands. “And I do wish it.”
Not if Mehfawni found out what he’d been sent to do to her, she wouldn’t.
Khyff floundered, awash in a sea of emotion. His hope dashed on the rocky shore of reality, but he drew her hand to his mouth and kissed it. Maybe her diplomatic immunity could buy him some time to find a permanent solution.
Kayelle Allen writes space opera with larger than life, unforgettable characters. Come walk in her worlds and meet them.
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Kayelle Allen is a best-selling, multi-published, award-winning author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.