We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Tempting Auzed: Chapter 19

No amount of jostling or urging could make Meg extricate herself from the bed the next morning. Alex and Auzed ate, dressed, and prepared for the second round of marriage games while Meg nursed her hangover, and Daunet, who’d shown up ready for day two of the games, lounged in the living room, reading.

Either Alex drank way too often or Meg was a lightweight because after a couple of hours, breakfast, and multiple glasses of water, Alex’s mini hangover had all but disappeared. The games wouldn’t be nearly as fun without Meg and Daunet, but excitement at having extended alone time with Auzed tempered her disappointment. Even if he looked like he’d spent the night tossing and turning.

“How’d you sleep?” she asked as they boarded a platform and made their way to the arena.

“With difficulty,” he grumbled behind her.

Stepping back into his chest, she looked up at him and gave an exaggerated pout. “Pobrecito,” she crooned. “Maybe you should’ve let me stay, huh?”

His lips twitched, and he let out a low growl. “Careful, female, or I’ll have to make you miss the game entirely.”

“Maybe I wouldn’t hate that.” She turned in his arms, feeling more confident in her ability to balance on the transport platform these days.

Auzed raised a brow and gave her a crooked grin. “Hmm. We have to make an appearance, but perhaps we could sneak out early. Day two is not as exciting as one or three anyway.”

“Yeah? What happens today?” She ran her hands over his tight sleeveless vest, smoothing the wrinkles that didn’t exist as an excuse to touch him.

“Yesterday was a contest of strength and ability; today is intellect. It’s never quite the same, but most of the time they’re given problems of some kind and have to solve them. People usually have a favorite day of the games. Today is my brother Luka’s favorite.”

“That’s interesting. Which day is your favorite?”

He looked at her funny as if it hadn’t been an obvious question. “The third, I suppose. It combines a bit of everything.”

“Tell me more about your other siblings?” Alex pried. Auzed always tensed up whenever she tried asking him personal questions. Apart from the few meaningful conversations they’d had about their parents, he consistently steered clear from talking about his personal life.

A clipped “There isn’t much to tell” was all he said.

Alex gave him a small smile as she spun back around to hide the jab of pain in her chest. Although her feelings for him continued to grow, it seemed he wasn’t allowing their relationship to become anything more than a temporary fling. And she needed to be okay with that.

Swells of people gliding by on platforms told her they were getting close. She turned and spotted Relli floating a few trees over. That initial surge of excitement at unexpectedly seeing someone you knew while out went through her, and she flapped her arms in the air, trying to get Relli’s attention.

 Alex lowered her arms. She’d see her tomorrow anyway. Relli had invited them to an afterparty at their nest. Though Relli hadn’t seen her, she’d unfortunately drawn everyone else’s gazes.

The rapt attention didn’t lessen as they made their way in a slow circle around the arena. She recognized a few males who’d introduced themselves to her before. Did they think she wouldn’t remember? Or were they just trying to introduce themselves again in the hope they’d recognize her?

Finally, her shoulders began to relax as they pushed their way through the crowd and found their sitting area, but what was waiting for them was somehow worse. Fierad reclined in the seat Alex usually took.

Glancing to Auzed, she caught the smoldering anger in his shocked expression a second before it was gone. His impassive countenance slid back in place, and he became immovable, stony Auzed once again. She could throw her shoe at Fierad for ruining Auzzy’s good mood.

With a hand on her spine, he urged her forward. “Fierad,” Auzed acknowledged politely, but she could just make out the sharp undercurrent to his tone.

“Ah,” Fierad exclaimed, rising with a wide, toothy smile. “Wonderful.” To her, he raised his tail in greeting. To Auzed, he remained still. Asshole. “I wanted to say hello before the games start.”

Alex nodded with pursed lips, wary of whatever his true motives were.

He shot her a grin, and though Fierad was not unattractive, she found her insides squirming with unease all the same. There was something about his expression today. Some confidence he hadn’t had before that registered in her mind and sent ice down her spine.

“How’s the investigation going? Still convinced we’re lying?” Alex asked in a monotone. She couldn’t help it.

The flash of shock and then irritation on Fierad’s face was worth the jab. Auzed placed a large palm on her shoulder, in essence saying, Down, girl. She shrugged it off and crossed her arms over her chest.

“We’re tying up a few loose ends,” he answered cryptically. “Most still have trouble believing you agreed to marry him after only a few days. That is, they have trouble believing you’d do it if you were given all the facts about our world and how it works. How long were you with Auzed before you agreed to marry him again?” Fierad asked, raising his brows and studying her face. He kept looking at her as if she were a confused little puppy who didn’t really understand the things that had happened to her.

She frowned. She’d been vague when she’d first lied; now he wanted a timeline.

“Three days,” Auzed growled from her right, making her insides uncoil with relief.

“I was asking Alejandra.” Fierad’s tone scraped against her brain. Her palm itched to slap him, but Auzed only shrugged, unconcerned.

The wind instruments alerting the crowd that the game was starting soon sounded. “How much of our world did he explain to you before you agreed?”

“Enough for me to fully understand what I was agreeing to,” she all but spat.

Fierad’s brows crinkled in a way that told her he still thought of her as naïve and woefully misguided. “If you knew you’d have your choice of all the available males in the ceremony and that they’d be vying for you, why would you settle with him?”

She’d been peering toward the field, but upon hearing Fierad, her head snapped around so fast she almost cracked her neck. She felt Auzed shift behind her, and her heart constricted. How could a man like Auzed ever be considered anything less than drool-worthy? And how dare this hijo de puta insult him. “Excuse me? Did you mean to phrase it like that?” She cocked her hip out, gave him her most condescending stare, and waited.

“I… No, I—” Fierad stumbled over his words as he tried to decide whether to hold his high-and-mighty ground.

Before he could figure out what to say, she raised three fingers in the air in front of him. “How many fingers am I holding up?”

Fierad straightened. “Three. Why?”

“Oh good, I thought maybe you had trouble seeing.” She shifted to the side so Fierad had a clear view of Auzed then gestured to him as if he were a prize on The Price Is Right. “Then use your damn eyeballs and answer your own question. Just look at him. Enough said.”

No longer caring about what she should and shouldn’t do, she reached out and laced her fingers through Auzed’s. To her relief, he squeezed her palm and allowed their hands to remain clasped. She chanced a glance toward him and saw a small, smug grin tugging at his lips.

The odd melodious horn blew again, and as before, men streamed onto the field. The difference was this time, there were only ten men as opposed to the hundred from yesterday.

She turned back to Fierad and found his eyes had narrowed, becoming fiery and livid. He’d finally recognized her for what she was. Not a weak, confused alien in need of guidance and protection but a strong, outspoken woman who knew exactly what she wanted—not him.

Fierad tried to say something else to her, but she interrupted. “Have a nice game. My future husband and I would like some privacy.”

His nostrils flared, and a look crossed over his face that made her pause. Was she being stupid for poking him and being so disrespectful? Maybe.

A booming voice sounded from all around and described the challenge of the day, but she couldn’t concentrate on it.

Though Auzed had been reserved and infuriatingly polite throughout this exchange, he now stepped in front of her, his large body seeming even wider than it had before as he squared off. “She has requested you leave now,” he said in a dangerous growl.

She peeked around Auzed’s side and found Fierad had locked gazes with him. At length, he shot her a final glare and left.

When they settled into their seats, the men had already started doing whatever they were doing, and her ears were buzzing with anger. God, that guy was such an asshole. If he ruined the wonderful time she was hoping to have with Auzed…well, she had no clue what she’d do. Nothing most likely. But it would really suck.

Without having to ask, Auzed pulled up the screen she now knew was used to order food. Even though Fierad had soured her mood, she couldn’t stop her lips from squirming into a grin. If she knew how to read in the odd language or what any foods were, she’d want to do her own ordering. But the fact that Auzed kept taking the initiative with things like this was so freaking sweet.

Deciding she wouldn’t let Fierad ruin her day, she leaned forward and kissed Auzed on the cheek.

Over his shoulder, he glanced at her with lifted brows. “What was that for?”

Hefting her shoulders in a shrug, she shot him a wink. “I have eyes.”

Warmth seeped down her scalp when his chest bowed a bit and a confident grin spread over his face.

Focusing on the field again, she saw the ten men had been arranged in a circle, all on their own boards, and were typing into podiums in front of them. Some men were higher up than the others, and every time another man ascended, the crowds cheered. “What’s going on here? I missed it because of Detective Douchebag.”

“There are five rounds with ten players each. They have to solve riddles and answer questions.” He pointed to lines of script on the screen in front of her, and she understood the audience was being shown the riddles too. “Their board ascends every time they get one right and descends if they get a question wrong. The first three to make it to the top will move on and join the males from the four remaining rounds of the day.”

“That’s exciting. I love riddles!” Alex chirped toward Auzed. “Read me one. Maybe I can solve it.”

“Alright. What has six legs and can be seen but not when it is heard, and heard but not when it is seen?”

Alex scrunched her brows and thought for a few minutes while she watched two of the men stomp their feet as their boards lowered. Finally giving up, she said, “I have no idea.”

“I believe the answer is a whistle gnat. Two of its antennae are commonly called legs, but they aren’t really. It flies so fast that it emits a whistling sound and is invisible to the eye. When it stops flying, it no longer makes that sound and is visible. Clever.”

She wrinkled her nose and nodded. “Yeah, I’m not going to be able to answer riddles about things on an alien planet, am I?” She chuckled.

Her body stiffened as one of the cameras that were broadcasting the game came to float by them. Between Fierad, the lack of privacy, and her inability to understand any of the riddles being asked to the players, she was ready to leave. Maybe they could go back to the market instead. She scanned the crowded arena. It was likely nothing was open right now, though.

The hovering camera zoomed toward them a bit. Auzed unlaced his fingers from hers and shifted ever so slightly away from her, his body growing hard the way it did whenever he was with her in public. He must’ve noticed her body immediately deflate because he leaned toward her and whispered, “How about we leave?”

She shot him a grateful smile, even as her insides twisted. She knew he hadn’t meant to hurt her feelings by removing his hand from hers, but it was still a blow. After everything they’d been through together, he continually chose to act the way he thought Clecanians should act. It was true he’d been relaxing more and more when they were alone or around friends, but in public he still wanted to act the right way.

She hated and loved this trait. He had an internal code he followed, and although annoying, she couldn’t help but respect him for sticking to what he believed. Even if it meant he’d ditch her when he resumed his role as head guard.

It was probably for the best that their relationship was temporary. Although she didn’t mind his strict adherence to the rules now, she might grow to resent it in the future. Their personalities just couldn’t work together long term, could they? Alex needed certain things from her partner, and physical touch was one of her love languages. That didn’t stop just ’cause they were in front of other people.

Not to mention the Earth-shattering information she’d gotten from Meg last night. If there was even the slightest possibility that she could return to her family, she couldn’t lead him on. His refusal to open up to her about his life confirmed he felt the same. He allowed himself to be free with her, but only to a point.

No. They’d never work. But she could still enjoy his company for now and then spend the rest of her life fantasizing about what could’ve been. Hell, maybe in a few years if she managed to get home, this would all feel like a distant memory.

She made her voice cheery as she spoke. “Let’s wait to see Gosten, and then we can leave. Gotta show our support.”


Lucky for Auzed, Gosten was in the next group of contestants. Though he wasn’t the fastest to answer his questions, he was the most deliberate, only answering when he was sure he was right. As such, his progress to the top was slow, but he managed to stay ahead of most contenders.

Auzed glanced to Alex for the billionth time, or so it felt, and tried to interpret her mood. Ever since they’d sat down, she’d been off. Stiff and quiet. Had he done something to upset her? Or was she still on edge because of Fierad?

The visit from the Sauven guard had been infuriating but also enlightening. It seemed as though the male had no solid leads and was trying to coax some kind of admission from Alex, by pushing the theory that she’d been confused when she’d agreed to be with Zed.

Was it really so unthinkable that she might pick him? He ran his eyes over her, now grinning and cheering Gosten on, and an angry part of him acknowledged that it might be. She was so full of life. So carefree and warm and open. All the things he wasn’t. He’d never even considered there could be more for him outside of a prestigious career and occasional sibling bonding.

What if he could convince her to actually marry him? He took a long gulp of his drink and internally shook himself. What was he even thinking? He loved his job. He didn’t want to quit. Give up the only thing that had ever made him feel worthy. Besides, if he wasn’t a head guard or a soldier, what could he even offer Alex?

Maybe he could convince her to see him casually. The brief sexual encounters some Clecanians had in between marriages weren’t ideal, but he’d take what he could get.

His chest warmed and bowed at the memory of her defending him to Fierad. Perhaps she did think he was a fine choice. But was she giving him too much credit? He was a mixed-breed Clecanian with a bad temper, no friends, and few hobbies. Fierad was right. She only liked him now because she didn’t understand there might be someone better for her. Someone who enjoyed plays and allowed themselves to drink and have a good time. Her mate. Whoever that may be.

She was deep in thought again, a line forming between her brows.

“Is everything alright?” he asked tentatively.

“Yeah. Just a little tired.” Her gorgeous mouth curled into a weak smile, and he couldn’t contain his frown. That fake, forced grin didn’t look right on her. He wracked his brain for a way to rekindle the internal glow she always seemed to have and landed on a thought.

She clapped and hooted as Gosten became the second male to reach the finish, but that tightness remained around her mouth.

He stood and pulled her up with him. “Let’s go. I want to show you something.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode