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Ruling Sikthand: Chapter 30

“This floor is dedicated to our husbandry school campus. The floor above is the uxorial school campus, for of-age females.”

Speaker Besith sounded as if he’d rather be anywhere with anyone else rather than giving her this tour. She couldn’t disagree. Sophia had been touring the coed primary schools with Besith as her guide for about two hours, and her professionalism was wearing thin. It was clear he didn’t care for her or the idea of a human queen. It was also apparent, though, that he was snide to absolutely everyone, so she tried to convince herself that she wasn’t special. He was just an unpleasant person.

“Is the husbandry school curriculum any different than the Tremantian curriculum?”

Besith sighed and held his hand out behind him. His poor aide dug through his overflowing bag and slapped a large stack of papers into his waiting palm. Besith flipped the papers toward her without a word. Her helmet hid her scowl. It took everything in her to gently take the papers from him and not snatch them away.

She rifled through the pages, a curriculum guide. “Thank you. I’ll look over this later.”

He continued walking on, lazily waving his hand in one direction or another, pointing out testing rooms, instructors, training yards. Sophia took sloppy notes as they walked, mostly scribbled thoughts on how human elements could be integrated.

They came to an open door, and Besith trailed inside. Sophia followed, her walk still embarrassingly loud, though she was getting more comfortable in her armor. “One of our classes in session.”

Sophia peered around at the room full of owl-eyed men staring at her. She froze when her gaze landed on an extremely detailed diagram of a Clecanian vulva. It was a good thing she was wearing her helmet, or the dozen or so men staring at her would see her face turn beet red. It’s just anatomy. Calm down.

“Hello, my queen.” The female teacher gave a small bow. “We were all just discussing how interesting it will be when we get new anatomical studies for our human counterparts.”

Sophia spotted one man nod eagerly. “Yes.” She nodded back. “I’m excited to work with the schools to…uh…make sure the new curriculum is…uh…informative,” she finished weakly. “Sorry for the interruption.” Without waiting for a response, Sophia sped out of the classroom.

She was still cooling her embarrassment and resetting the unfazed queen persona she wanted to embody, when a large grinning man lumbered toward them. The soldiers at her back closed in. She appreciated the protectiveness, but she was still unused to them always being there and had to apologize when she flinched.

“Sophia, this is Sesnot. He is the massage instructor,” Besith drawled.

Sesnot frowned at the man, then grinned toward Sophia again. “I am also the royal masseuse, my lady, though the king rarely employs me. I’m hopeful that you’ll call on me often. I’ve been studying human anatomy, and the musculature on your lower back is fascinating. I’m excited to work on a tailless species.”

“Oh?” Sophia was a little taken aback, but why wouldn’t there be a royal masseuse? “That’s interesting. How is a tailed person’s musculature different?”

Sophia grinned behind her masked helmet as Sesnot brightened. He turned eagerly and pulled his shirt up, using his own back to point out a set of thick muscles bulging from his spine.

“I think my bride has seen enough of your body, Sesnot.”

Sophia’s hidden smile turned sappy. Sikthand stepped into view from behind her, yet again appearing at just the right moment. A shiver ran through her at his venomous glare. She didn’t think she was the type of person to enjoy possessiveness, but for the cold king who’d barely given her the time of day for the past month to now look like he was going to rip this Vrulan himbo’s tail clean off? Well, she now knew she liked possessive Sikthand very much.


Sikthand had known he’d seek her out as soon as his eyes had popped open. His neck ached fiercely from the odd angle in which he’d fallen asleep, tipped back in his chair behind her mirror.

He’d just been too relaxed watching her sketch in her small book. Smiling, her supple leg slung over the arm of her chair bouncing as she hummed some foreign tune.

They’d been parted for too long, the investigation into his assassination taking up all of his time. But today there was finally a spare bit of time. His spies were in place. His spies’ spies were also in place. Ahea had recovered and was safely tucked into her nest with more minata wood than she could ever hope to eat.

And his night was open. He was too eager—he knew he was. Clamping down on the urge to drag her away from the male not so innocently showing off his large tail muscles, Sikthand peered down at her. Would she be upset he’d interrupted her meeting? Upset he was admonishing a male on her behalf?

Sikthand held his breath as she struggled to remove her helmet. She wobbled toward him, still clanging clumsily in her armor. When she finally tugged the helmet off, revealing her flushed cheeks and bright smile, his heart throbbed, and he had to smother his rising purr.

“Hello. I didn’t know you were joining me on the tour today.”

He forced his gaze back to Sesnot, who had blanched guiltily and covered himself up. Sikthand’s fingers clenched. The male had been trying to entice her.

In truth, Sophia could employ whoever she wanted, but it was also true that Sikthand would ensure royal masseuses went missing often if they looked at her even half as enthusiastically as Sesnot.

She glanced between the males, noticing Sikthand’s stare. “Uh, Speaker Besith, I think we’re done with the tour, yeah? Thank you so much for showing me around. I’m going to get my thoughts on the additional human coursework together and present it to the Guild soon.”

“I look forward to your notes.” The sour sarcasm in Besith’s voice had Sikthand’s scowl darkening, but the male had already walked away before he could decide what to do about it.

Sikthand caught Sesnot’s arm before he could leave and whispered low enough that Sophia wouldn’t hear. “If you ever expose yourself to my wife again, I’ll slice your tendons and leave your tail limp.” The male shuddered.

With a hand on her back, Sikthand swept her away from the stammering male. “What did you say to him?” she complained, peering at the masseuse over her shoulder while he forced her forward.

Sikthand’s jaw clenched shut. All the responses he’d normally give seemed lacking. Choosing his words in order to elicit a specific reaction had never been too difficult for him. He knew what to say to make her annoyed, scared, angry, disgusted. But what words did he choose to make her like him?

He hadn’t concerned himself with being liked before, and he found himself on unsteady ground trying to decide how to speak to her now. Or how to act with her. He cringed, realizing he was still pushing her through the halls, forcing her to trot to keep his pace.

He slowed, suddenly worried about all the other unconscious things he did that might dismay her. They walked in silence as he brooded over the best words to use and whether he should reschedule their meeting until he could decide.

“Where are we going?” she asked above her clanging.

“We lost time looking over the candidates. We’ll meet early tonight and get through more of them,” he answered absently.

“Okay. I’m pretty hungry, though. Could we get some something to eat first?”

Pondering what types of compliments human females might like, he waved a hand. “I had Alno gather food for us to have in the study.” I enjoy how empty your face is without a hood. He frowned. Describing her captivating, beguiling, hoodless face as empty? Idiotic.

“Oh. Okay, great.”

Suddenly, he realized that while he’d been lost in his head, he’d ended up dictating what she would be doing, when she would be doing it, and what foods she would be eating.

His steps paused, and he peered down at her. “I… If you don’t want to…” He wasn’t used to this. He was used to ruling, telling people how things would be. He caught sight of her soldiers exchanging unreadable glances, and his fangs ground together. “Is that plan acceptable?” He tried not to growl his words.

The corner of her mouth lifted. “Yeah.” She studied his eyes, her grin widening, and her head tipped down a little. “Dinner and an activity. Sounds like a date.”

Romantic engagement. His translator chirped the translated meaning of date in his head. Sikthand’s mouth went dry.


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