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Zandian Lights (Zandian Brides)
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THE ZANDIANS STILL NEED BRIDES.
Two warriors have pledged themselves to me,
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He’s looking at me. Again.
I sneak a peek across the vast workspace covered with electronic parts in need of repair. Although the tall, handsome Zandian is a full fifty paces away, I sense his movements on the surface of my skin.
When he catches me looking, he crosses his arms and scowls. “Kianna, the part isn’t going to fix itself.”
I try to ignore the way his huge muscles bulge, because he’s such an ass. “Right you are, Mykl.” I roll my eyes. “How lucky I am to have such an insightful boss. You always teach me something new.”
He coughs and his scowl deepens. “Is that insubordination?” When he first took the position of supervising humans, Mykl didn’t understand our sarcasm, but after almost a solar cycle with me constantly teasing him, he’s well-versed. He arches a stern brow.
My stomach flips with adrenaline. He’s officially my master and supervisor, which means he’s allowed to discipline me.
And I’ve heard from my human friends what deliciously dirty things can happen when they push their Zandian mates. If they tease them too much. Or break rules. For some reason, the Zandians believe the best way to condition humans to their society is through sexual punishments.
I love the idea. Anything is better than the cruel shock-sticks and starvation I was treated to at the factory where I worked as a slave before I was purchased at auction by Zandian warriors.
Of course, Mykl hasn’t touched me. He isn’t my mate. Not my friend. He doesn’t even like being my master, even though I sometimes catch him looking at me with hunger.
“That”—I gesture to the bench— “is a working class 4 phaser. You’re welcome.” I stand up, give him a sweet smile, and wipe my hands on my form-fitting breeches.
His eyes track my movements and turn from violet-rimmed brown to all purple. His scowl deepens. “Impossible. I just gave that to you last planet rotation. Check your work.” He strides across the room, reaching me quickly.
I suck in a breath at his proximity. “Already did. Twice.” When he gets this close to me, I feel dizzy. “Master Mykl.” I prod him more these planet rotations. I can’t resist the way he responds, with a growl and an admonition… but also with heat in his gaze. And I know I’m not imagining the tilt of his horns in my direction.
“Then do it a third time.” Ignoring my jab, he picks up the part and examines it, turning it in his strong, deft fingers. Looks at me. Back at the part. “By the stars. I think it might be correct.”
“Oh, it is.” I give him a look. “Trust me.” I can’t help but grin at his amazed expression.
“I never trust humans.” His answer is quick and automatic, and I’ve heard it from him before, but it slices into my gut, killing my smile. Of all the Zandians I’ve met, Mykl is the least open to humans. I think if he could have it his way, he’d ship us all out of here. Never mind the fact that his species need us as mates if they’re going to repopulate their planet.
I shake my head. “Then go do a sample run with it on the test ship on the strip.” I point past the large doors, where the airstrip waits. “You’ll see.”
“Follow.” He snaps the command and starts to walk, and I trot behind, jogging to keep up with his long-legged pace. “Try to stay with me, Kianna.”
“Oh, I’d like to stay with you,” I murmur.
“What was that?” He stops and turns around, piercing me with his gaze.
“I’d love to be able to walk fast enough to stay right by your side.” I widen my eyes for my most innocent look. “Too bad we humans are so frail and teensy.”
Zandians don’t roll their eyes, but if they did, he’d be doing it. I sense a tumult of emotion inside this fierce warrior who does his best never to show any of it.
“I suspect you are mocking me.” He fixes his gaze on me and I suck in my breath. “The human propensity for what you call sarcasm. I do not recommend such behavior, Kianna.”
Wings flutter in my belly—I shouldn’t love it so much when he gets stern. “Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if I kept doing it, though?” I muse.
“I’d assign you to another dome,” he snaps, “and find a new electronics tech who’s better able to work professionally with me.”
“Good luck with that.”
“If that were to happen, I would wish you the utmost success in your search. This work is so critical to Zandia.” I smile. “It would be a terrible shame for progress to falter.”
“Human females,” he mutters. “If you were mine…” he starts. His horns are thick, his body taut. The way he holds himself makes me suddenly think that he wants what I want—