Ruling Sikthand: Chapter 4

Sikthand’s tail scraped against the floor of the small passageway. Any louder and she’d hear.

For days now, he’d watched her, Sophia. She was different from the other aliens in her party. Odd. He’d noticed it the first time he’d seen the humans together. Where they’d frowned at the malginash and hesitantly eyed the metal facewear many of his people enjoyed wearing, she’d looked on with fascination.

When that vile insect, Maxu, had crept through his city and freed the humans he’d been holding as leverage, her group had fled. But this female, Sophia, had fought. Or so he’d been told. Sikthand had shown up just in time to ensure no one else escaped and managed to sever the rope Sophia had been climbing, sending her plummeting to the ground.

He watched her now through the false mirror that opened into her room. She was a mess. Thoroughly tumbled from the events of the last day, but underneath the dirt and grime, he could make out her slender frame and delicate pale skin. Pleasant to look at, but weak.

The accounts of her fighting must have been exaggerated. His commander was more willing to believe she had hidden talents, but Sikthand couldn’t see it.

He drew his gaze down her body, searching for the telltale musculature needed to wield a Vrulan blade properly, but found only supple flesh and soft skin perfect for a warrior’s calloused palms to caress. He shook away the thought, curling his fingers inward.

Sikthand didn’t like things he didn’t understand, especially people he didn’t understand. Over his many long years, assassinations, betrayals, and slimy politicians motivated by self-interest had turned him into what many deemed paranoid. He preferred observant.

If you watched anyone long enough, you could learn who they were. And if you learned that, loyalty was simple. Everyone had soft spots. Trust could be purchased by exploiting those spots.

Sophia turned toward the mirror. She was close, fiddling with something on the frame.

Where are your soft spots?

Her dark lashes shielded her eyes as Alno prattled on behind her. Sikthand tried to convince himself her hoodless, pale face was dull and unpleasant but couldn’t. Hood or not, she’d be pretty in any city, on any planet. Her lack of hood made her appear open, like she could be trusted. A dangerous characteristic, in Sikthand’s opinion.

Her chapped lips pulled to the side as if she were annoyed with whatever Alno had just said. Her dark eyes flashed upward, and she examined her own reflection. Some unknown emotion had her mouth thinning, but it was gone before he could decipher it.

She turned away from the mirror at Alno’s words, and Sikthand swayed forward. He hadn’t had time to examine that reaction when the chaperone’s question hit his brain. The golden fuck had asked to smell her.

Sikthand stepped closer to the glass, fury rising under his skin like electricity. It wasn’t that he cared if the human was recognized by some male, but if she was, she’d become less useful as a bargaining chip. In fact, she’d become expensive.

He’d have to pay some unknown price to keep her here, or risk the revolt that would surely ensue if a king sent away a mated female.

She faced Alno and declined. Sikthand hummed out his approval. She’d shown little warmth to any Vrulan since her capture. Surely, she’ll send Alno off now, he argued silently.

But then…she smiled. Smiled at the pretty male as he opined over some female who likely didn’t know he existed. Sikthand shouldn’t care.

A growl froze in his throat as she flicked her hair over her shoulder, flashing the pale column of her neck. His fangs pulsed. Gods, he’d been too long without a female if this was his reaction to a glimpse of skin.

Alno crossed to her with a little too much enthusiasm for Sikthand’s taste. He’d have the male sent to the mines at the earliest opportunity.

His golden nose dipped to Sophia’s throat, brushing against her skin. Her lashes gave a little flutter as if she’d liked the touch. Sikthand bared his fangs. His tail flicked over the ground.

Step away, he silently commanded. Alno remained in place, breathing deeply against her neck. Sikthand inched closer to the mirror, his trapped growl reverberating in his throat.

The male lifted one hand to her bicep. Sikthand’s toes hit the glass. He studied Alno’s hand. No mating marks appeared on his skin. She wasn’t his fated mate, yet he continued to leisurely breathe in her scent.

His mind played through all the ways he could punish the male. He’d start by learning which female Alno drooled over and bedding her.

When Sophia’s brows drew together with uncertainty, as if she wanted to pull away, Sikthand’s hand lifted to the latch that would swing the mirror open, revealing the passage he’d kept secret for all these years.

The reminder of his advantage stopped him in his tracks. Even before he’d detained the Tremantian group, he’d found his attention pulled toward Sophia at every opportunity. Something about her was dangerous. He didn’t yet know why, but his instincts were telling him to take notice. To keep his guard up and study the human.

He’d only ever ignored those instincts once.

Ice slid into his gut. Never again.

This human was interesting to him. But just like all interesting things, the fascination would fade in time. All he had to do was wait and watch.

Sikthand would study her from the comfort of the shadows. She might seem harmless, but in his experience, those who seemed the most harmless had the most potent venom.


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