Genres = Science Fiction, Space Opera, Fantasy, Romance
***Also Available to be Read in Kindle Unlimited
Length: 62,276 words/254 pages
She is for Jordon and he is for her. She just needs a way to convince him.
Sarinnea is the matriarch of the oldest Siren house on the planet of Rylen. She sits on the Council of Elders and has the ear of the High Priestess of the Creators. How long is she supposed to wait for the stoic Norblade she loves to appreciate how difficult it is to offer him a place at her side?
Despite having lived the majority of her long Siren life on a planet that reveres a mate’s passion, Sarinnea long ago learned that even the truest love and devotion is sometimes not enough. She should be dealing with the dissension of the younger males in her house, not worrying about some alien who doesn’t love her. Yet how could she not be appalled that a year of living on Rylen has only managed to convince Jordon that she’s used her Siren powers to beguile him?
Beguile him? Really? Why would she do that when males vie for her attention daily? Male attention is not something she lacks. Plus, she’s lived centuries alone and never minded.
Raging fires of Helios, she’s never begged a male for anything until Jordon entered her life. The Norblade should thank his lucky stars and whatever deities he worships that she’s tolerated the stupid male pride which keeps him from loving her back.
Gwen shook her head as she took in the sights below them. Every sight and sound seemed surreal. Many of the starships she’d served on had visited Rylen regularly. She’d never felt the need to seek out the carnal pleasures the planet of Sirens was known for offering travelers.
No, Gwen had always preferred her hedonistic pleasures to have a chance of being repeated, so she’d stuck to finding lovers on every ship. Well, she had until Zade had claimed her. Now she had her own personal Siren, which meant the choice to get off the ship wasn’t optional. They were both here to check out the planetary home of their future family.
As they and their shuttle fellow travelers started debarking their transfer shuttle, the line stopped moving at the bottom. That left Zade and her waiting at the top of the boarding ramp. Normally, she would have been frustrated with the slow descent. Today she chose to be amused by it.
The ones who debarked first lingered at the bottom caught up in some unproductive chit-chat with several nearly naked Siren females. While she waited, Gwen entertained herself by taking in the jungle-like atmosphere of the Rylen shuttle station, the soothing music playing throughout the whole building, and the sparkly sheen on everything she saw.
“Got to say I’m already impressed with your planet, Zade. If your Rylen shuttle stations look this amazing, what’s the rest of your planet look like?”
Dorian smiled at his mate. “The rest of the planet is far more beautiful. I can’t believe you never got off the Liberator when the ship visited.”
He lifted a hand in greeting to someone who called out a welcome as they slowly descended. He was wearing a shirt in Sarinnea’s house colors which made him recognizable. At the bottom of the ramp, a line of Siren greeters chatted with those debarking. His mouth twitched when he caught his mate mildly glaring at their scarcity of clothing.
“Don’t Siren females ever wear clothes?” she asked.
Dorian tried not to laugh while answering. “Their clothing choices express their intention of being of service to visitors. It is a Siren custom to greet visitors authentically, which on Rylen means they reveal themselves as they were made by the Creators.”
“Well, if they’re offering sex as part of their welcome service, I’m sure they’ll have some takers. I’m beginning to realize that Siren and ugly don’t belong in the same sentence,” Gwen commented as she looked over the heads of the passengers in front of her. “The Liberator always docked at the space station on the other side of Rylen. I oversaw repairs while everyone else took their little hedonistic break from each other’s company.”
“If you’re referring to the crew’s search for pleasurable recreational activities with the Siren greeters, I cannot deny or confirm their actions. When the ship visited Rylen, I visited my mother. I sometimes attended a family function with her, and then I quickly returned to the ship before everyone else got back.”
“That’s right. You always did return early,” Gwen said, instantly recalling the fact. “You locked yourself in your meditation room and didn’t come out until we were underway. I probably burned out a few brain cells wondering what always prompted your sudden need for total seclusion. You even ordered in your meals.”
Dorian leaned closer. “My passions rose to the surface while we were here on Rylen. I locked myself away with purpose because I didn’t trust myself to be in your presence without making my true feelings known. No female on Rylen held any allure for me, but you were a walking temptation every moment you breathed. Avoiding you completely was all I could think to do to save us both.”
Gwen chuckled. “Are you having that same problem now?”
Dorian smiled at his mate. “Yes. Since we have mated, I am never long without that problem in your presence no matter where we are. It pleases me more than I can say to have you at my side this visit.”
Gwen grinned. “It pleases me too. I can’t wait to see Sarinnea and Jordon. Have they worked things out yet?”
Dorian shook his head. “Not from what my mother says. Jordon and his son continue to live in the caretaker’s house instead of with Sarinnea. She is upset about the situation but seems reluctant to push Jordon into a more committed arrangement.”
“I imagine Jordon’s hesitation is hard for her. Maybe we can set a good example. It might nudge Jordon in the right direction.”
Dorian chuckled. “Do you honestly think being exposed to our mating arrangement will inspire Sarinnea and Jordon to formalize their relationship?”
Gwen lifted a shoulder. “Why not? Our mating works. We’re a happy couple.” She turned her smile up at her mate. “And it’s been ages since I’ve had an urge to shoot you. I count that as a huge win for us.”
Used to her sarcasm, Dorian smiled as he ignored their fellow shuttle passengers discreetly laughing at Gwen’s remark. Soon the greeters would loop the perfumed flower rings over their heads and they finally could head to a place where he could make her pay for her words.
“We’re on leave, Commander. Let’s wait until we’re back on the ship to fight,” he suggested, not minding at all when his fierce mate laughed as she leaned into him to be hugged.
Gwen pulled away from Zade’s light embrace, let one of the nearly naked Sirens put flowers over her head, and scanned the building in awe again as they started to walk to the far end of it. “Your home planet has good energy. I think it’s going to be a great place to live. I’m looking forward to it.”
Dorian nodded as affection for mate swelled in his chest. Gwen’s willingness to pass on a potential captain promotion to move to Rylen and have his children still amazed him. “I look forward to starting our family and I think of it often. The shock of your offer has yet to wear off.”
Gwen smiled and sighed. “Two years, Zade. Just give me two more years.”
“You can have all the time you like,” Dorian said. He couldn’t help wondering if she regretted her promise. “I’m in no hurry.”
Gwen shook her head. “I am and I promise you I’ll be ready by then. Speaking of our future plans, when can we visit the cadet academy? I want to check that Jurek has settled in and I want to see about the status of our contracts. Maybe we can even look for a house while we’re here too.”
“We can probably visit Jurek in the next day or so. As for your other suggestion, I was hoping we could simply live in the house I already own on Rylen,” Dorian said with a smirk.
Gwen turned to her Siren mate in surprise. “You own a house on Rylen? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Dorian chuckled. “When did you ask?”
Gwen rolled her eyes. “I’m your mate. I shouldn’t have had to ask. You should just tell me these kinds of things.”
“How would I work the fact that I own a house on Rylen into our normal conversations on the ship?”
Gwen snorted. “Like—honey, when we visit Rylen, let’s pop over and see the house I own. Oh, didn’t I tell you about my house?”
Gwen smiled when Zade laughed at her grumbling. Then both their heads turned toward the station’s door they were heading for as five large Greggor males entered. Four of them were dragging one reluctant and obviously drunk one through the door toward a departure shuttle. With a giant grunt, their inebriated hostage broke their hold on him and proceeded to put them all down on the floor. When the last one standing threw a punch, the drunken one picked him up and threw him across the room.
Unoffended, Gwen chuckled at the drama. “As much I would enjoy watching a good fight, someone should probably stop that drunk guy before he hurts any innocent bystanders. Where’s shuttle station security?”
Dorian glanced around. “I’m not sure. They should be here by now. Those five are not being quiet.”
The raging male rushed to a currently debarking shuttle and grabbed one of the nearly naked Siren greeters from the end of the greeter line. He lifted the squealing Siren high into the air and held her there.
“Filthy, lying, Siren. Die, you worthless female,” he said, throwing the screaming Siren across the room as well.
Beside her, Zade swore and moved swiftly. He barely caught the Siren greeter and his running momentum took them both to the floor. The traumatized Siren greeter instantly dissolved into tears as she clung to him. Gwen knew Sirens never cried, which was a testament to the amount of trouble the drunken Greggor was causing the poor female.
Gwen set down her travel bag next to where Zade had thrown his before he’d run to help. Too bad her weapons were all back on the ship. All she had with her were a couple of old Earth weapons she’d brought to give to Jurek as a gift. To her, this meant she was going to have to do handle this the hard way until security showed their Siren asses up.
In the background, she could hear Zade working to calm the sobbing Siren. She needed to prevent the stupid drunkard from snatching up another greeter.
“Hey,” she yelled loudly to get the drunken Greggor’s attention. “What’s your freaking problem?”
The Greggor growled. “If you value your life, whore of Earth, you will keep your distance from me.”
Gwen grunted. “Whore? Dude, that’s not even original. I’ve been called far worse by my own crew. You need to handle your liquor better,” she added.
Her answer back was another long growl.
Deciding an ass-kicking was the only thing the drunk idiot was going to respond to, Gwen lifted a leg and kneed the Greggor’s nuts, stepping back as he bent over. A shove on the back of his head completed his downward motion.
When he was on the floor with his hands cupping his throbbing man parts, Gwen grabbed his hair and jerked his gaze back to face her angry one. “Don’t make me get rough. Get your drunk ass on your departure shuttle and get the Helios out of here before Siren security locks you up.”
When he only looked at her in an alcoholic daze, Gwen sternly repeated the order in Greggor—one of the several languages she was completely fluent in. In reply to hearing the words in his own language, the Greggor grabbed her lower legs to jerk her off-balance. Gwen flipped sideways breaking his grip with little effort, but the idiot growled yet again and took a swing at her that she had to dodge.
Now he’d officially pissed her off.
“And here I was hoping we could do this the easy way,” she said with resignation.
A spinning boot kick to his massive chest sent the Greggor flying backward to hit the floor hard. She calmly walked over to him as he rose to his knees. Feeling testy, she kicked him between his legs a second time before using her fist to punch him between his eyes. Her blow finally knocked him unconscious, as she knew it would. She’d gotten Siren strength from Zade as a mating gift and her Khalsa training had taught her how to make the best use of it.
The drunken Greggor fell backward moments before his five friends finally limped over to glare down at him. Seeing their comrade was totally unconscious, they turned and stared at Gwen in shock. Four limping Sirens came running up behind the limping Greggors. They all looked like hell too.
Gwen rolled her eyes at all the wounded males. How had he taken out four Sirens too? The drunken Greggor hadn’t been that tough.
Zade walked over and looked down at the Greggor. “What was his problem?”
Gwen shrugged as she glared down at the male. “Hell, if I know. The idiot wouldn’t listen to reason, so I had to knock him out.”
One of the Siren guards pointed at the male on the floor. “You bested this Greggor warrior?”
Gwen’s mouth twisted with a grin she had to fight. “The Greggor was inebriated. It wasn’t all that much of a fight.”
Her questioner shook his head before turning to the Greggor’s companions. “Take him and go. You four may return, but he is not welcome until he makes full reparations for his actions. Until then, his name will be struck from the welcome logs.”
The other Greggors didn’t argue their comrade’s banishment from Rylen. Instead, they left with only two of them dragging him by his arms up into their shuttle. The other two limped behind with eyes downcast.
Gwen looked at her handsome mate who had a strange look in his eyes. “Nice catch, by the way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you move so fast.”
“I’m feeling sorry now that I left you to handle the worst part. I hope this hasn’t put you off visiting my planet.”
Gwen chuckled and shook her head as she hooked her arm through her mate’s. “I’m not going to let some drunken idiot affect my good mood. Let’s go see your mother.”
Dorian nodded as they headed back to collect their bags. It was difficult to ignore the chastising he’d seen in the eyes of the Siren security guards. Women on his planet were considered too valuable to risk themselves fighting as Gwen had just done. He said nothing to her, though, because his mate would never understand how her helping resolve the dangerous situation with the drunk Greggor could be a poor reflection on him.
Dorian knew though that word of Gwen’s fight would undoubtedly spread beyond the station—not that he could keep that from happening. Sarinnea would not be bothered by anyone’s assumptions about Gwen or their mating, but the rest of his family? He was going to have to explain the way they would view the situation to prepare her. His cousin, Halor, would not think twice about informing Gwen that females of Sarinnea’s house could not go around fighting on Rylen.
He didn’t really like his oldest male cousin, but may the Creators forbid that Halor suffer the drunken Greggor’s fate simply because the idiot dared to make Gwen Shenu Jet angry.
Jordon stopped brushing the animal under his hands and lifted his head. “I’m in the stall grooming Gil. What is it, Lekan?”
“Sarinnea stopped by and asked me to remind you that her beloved son will be arriving shortly. She said that there would be a dinner and welcome party hosted by the whole family this evening.”
“It was nice of her to extend the offer but I’m not sure we qualify as part of Sarinnea’s family,” Jordon replied as he went back to brushing.
Hating when an adult refused to make eye contact while speaking to him, Lekan moved into the animal stall to get his biological sire’s attention. The resemblance between them was unmistakable which was why there could be no denying his rightful place was at the older Norblade male’s side. And Lekan had been happy to leave his home planet to be here.
He liked living on the cheerful planet of Rylen with the Sirens much better than he had living on his dreary home planet of Norblade. It was a fortunate circumstance for him that a Norblade male of his age was mandated to spend his last years before adulthood mostly with his father. Luckily, he liked Jordon well enough to consider him that.
The only negative thing about his current life circumstance was that the reticent, too quiet male who’d sired him had yet to emotionally embrace their family connection as much as Lekan had hoped would come to pass. His father was a caring male, but not very passionate. It was very noticeable on a planet comprised of the most passionate species in existence.
“Sarinnea said if you protested the invitation that I was to remind you that you owed Gwen Jet a life debt.” Lekan stopped and waited for a reply. When none was given, he plunged on. “Tell me about Gwen Jet, Father. Is she the Peace Alliance Commander who saved you when you were abducted?”
“Yes,” Jordon admitted. “Commander Jet saved me. She saved Sarinnea as well. I’ve met no female fiercer. She is nothing like the females you are used to meeting here on Rylen, Lekan.”
Lekan found that a puzzling comment. “But isn’t Sarinnea just as fierce?”
Jordon briefly paused in his brushing and then resumed. “Sirens are a matriarchal species where females are prized for their wise and compassionate ruling. Male Sirens are taught to protect them. The males are definitely fierce, but I would not use that descriptor for their females. To be protected by the males in her life is Sarinnea’s birthright. She leads one of the most ancient ruling houses on Rylen.”
Knowing well that his father shared Sarinnea’s bed when invited to do so, Lekan didn’t understand why his father otherwise ignored her as much as a male could possibly avoid a female. He also wondered why a beautiful Siren like Sarinnea didn’t move on to one of the many other interested males who sought her out daily. Since he never saw the Siren in any other male’s arms, Lekan decided it was proof her loyalty was to his stoic father.
“So this Commander Gwen Jet, does she serve on the same Alliance spaceship as Dorian Eli’oh Zade?”
Jordon nodded as he answered. “Yes. Gwen is Dorian’s life mate. Her father is a Thelorian, but my understanding is that Gwen was raised by her mother on Earth. Since you’ve primarily interacted with mostly Norblade people and the Sirens of Rylen, I should probably warn you that Gwen being an Earthling definitely shows in her character.”
“Do you think I act like someone born on Norblade?”
Jordon lifted an eyebrow. “What an odd question, Lekan. How do you want me to answer? You certainly don’t act like a Siren.”
“True,” Lekan admitted as he bowed his head in agreement. “I suppose I asked because I find it interesting that Dorian mated an Earth female, and more interesting, that she is a commander of a spaceship. That is not what Sirens normally do. Norblade males tend to choose Norblade females for mates, but I have no leanings in that direction either. I confess I find all unusual pairings interesting.”
“Interesting is the proper word and accurate,” Jordon said with a chuckle.
Lekan rubbed his chin. “Did Command Jet sacrifice her femaleness to become a warrior?”
“Not as far as Dorian is concerned,” Jordon said firmly, pointed his grooming brush at the boy. “Watch what you say to them when they arrive, Lekan. You don’t want to be rude to Sarinnea’s family. Dorian and Gwen’s mated arrangement is not like anything you’ve observed among the other Sirens on this planet. However, they are completely devoted to each other and that will be very obvious.”
Lekan frowned again when his father went back to brushing Sarinnea’s beloved Gil. She rode the animal weekly through the fields out behind her house. To his delight, Sarinnea often took him with her on the smaller male quadped that Gil had sired with a neighbor’s female.
Sarinnea always invited his father to go along too and Jordon always refused to go. Lekan didn’t understand what was keeping the two of them from having a more normal relationship. He suspected that was all the Siren who cared for his father wanted.
“I will guard my tongue. Sarinnea talks of Dorian and his mate all the time. I look forward to meeting them both. Do you think they will discuss the Cadet Academy with me?”
“Are you still determined to go?”
Lekan nodded, but his father didn’t look up to see it. “Yes. I still wish to go. Have you changed your mind about allowing me to attend?”
Jordon cleaned the strands of hair from the brush and dropped the brush into the wooden carrier he kept for all the tools. He looked at his son. “I will support whatever life path you choose. I gave you control over the decision when we first discussed this. Your destiny should be in your own hands, Lekan—not mine or your mother’s.”
Lekan felt all tension inside him release at his father’s words. “I think I would like serving on an Alliance ship.”
Jordon nodded. “It is honorable work to serve the Peace Alliance.”
“Father? May I ask you a personal question about my mother?”
“Why don’t you ask her, Lekan? I see no reason for you to not seek her out when you feel the need. I realize I wasn’t there when you…”
“No, no…” Lekan said, interrupting. His father apologized far too often—and to everyone—usually about things that were no one’s fault. “I wish to ask about your mating with my mother. Did you care for her when you chose her?”
Nodding, Jordon patted Gil on the hip and exited the stall where Gil stayed. “Yes. I was completely devoted to her when we mated.”
“I find that reassuring about your character because Mother was completely devoted to you as well,” Lekan said carefully. “She always told me what a good male you were and how you insisted on waiting until she had aged beyond my current years before you’d take her for a mate.”
Jordon frowned as he nodded. “Your mother, Elle, was only twenty in Earth years when I finally did take her for a mate. That was very young for a Norblade mating. At my insistence, we also waited much longer to have you.”
“Are you still devoted to my mother?”
Jordon thought about it. “Though we are not together, I think I will always be devoted to her because she gave me you.”
Jordon turned to smile at the boy who was already his height. Lekan would be a grown male in two short years. He would likely undergo his final changes in less than that. Perhaps it was a blessing the boy would do so on Rylen—the home of compassionate Sirens. On Norblade such a drastic physical change usually led to lots of fighting over female attention. Young females on Norblade were not very receptive to male attention at a young age. Lekan’s mother had been an exception.
“Your mother gave me you and she raised you well. I admire her greatly. To raise a child alone must have been a very difficult thing for her on a planet like Norblade.”
Lekan nodded. “It was difficult, but Anon made it easier. He was kind to us both and helped her find work to support us. I always knew he did so because he was devoted to her. but she did not allow any male into her heart until she had accepted that you might never return. That was only a few years ago in Earth time.”
Jordon put an arm around his son’s shoulders. “The male your mother mated will never return, Lekan. I am a very different male from the person who mated your mother. How can I be anything but grateful that your mother found a better pairing in my long absence? I forgave her for mating again the instant she informed me of what she’d done.”
“Was your forgiveness made easer because of Sarinnea being in your life?”
“No. Sarinnea and I…” Jordon paused, looking for the right words. As usual, none described his relationship to the Siren. “I’m not sure I ever told you this, but I owe Sarinnea a life debt. She also saved me and rescued me. Our relationship is understandably complicated as a result.”
Lekan’s mouth twisted. “Aren’t all relationships complicated? Anon was devoted to Mother but never to me. I knew he would never choose to counsel me through fo-par when my time came. I heard him and mother discussing one of your relatives doing it because he didn’t feel it was his place. Knowing this about Anon did not bother me as it probably should have. Do you want to know why?”
Jordon swallowed hard. “Yes. I suppose I would.”
Lekan was happy to finally say it aloud. “I knew you would be here when I needed you to be because everything within me refused to accept your death, despite Mother having done so. And it wasn’t only the wishful thinking of a child. My knowing you would return was deeply felt knowledge that I could never explain to anyone, even after it was proven to be right.”
“Yes, you were right,” Jordon echoed as he briefly hugged the boy to his side. His son was such a good male. “I am extremely glad to be here for you during your fo-par.”
Jordon dropped his arm to go put the grooming tools away. “You have good instincts. I’m sure they will serve you well in life.”
“Thank you. That same knowing tells me Sarinnea is completely devoted to you and you to her, Father,” Lekan said boldly, watching his father’s eyes for signs of happiness at his words. But like always, there was only a sadness that went unexplained. There was only one way to ask the question he most wanted to know. “Are my instincts right about you and Sarinnea?”
“Come,” Jordon said gently, hoping to end the conversation and avoid a question he couldn’t answer. “Let’s see if we can find some clothing to wear to Sarinnea’s party. Her feelings will be hurt if we do not do our best.”
Lekan grinned. “So that is a yes then?”
“No. That is my effort to change our conversation since I have no answer for you,” Jordon admitted, opting for the truth.
“I’ve been here nearly an Earth year now, Father. As is custom with Siren females, I have seen Sarinnea drop her jeweled robes to entice you to her bed, and I have seen you go to her. Has she bound you to her in a Siren way?”
“Yes,” Jordon admitted.
“Oh. I’m sorry then for pressing you about what must concern you greatly,” Lekan said instantly. “Could you not take the preventatives as I do?”
Jordon’s face heated at the suggestion. “I could do more but…”
Lekan laughed. “But you don’t want to?”
“My reasons are my own and I’m not sure how to explain them.”
Lekan smiled. “It’s okay, Father. I know me preparing for fo-par requires you to answer truthfully, but I accept that you cannot do so in this case. Perhaps before I finish my growth you will be able to answer.”
Jordon nodded, glad to temporarily escape his responsibility to his son. “If you find nothing suitable in your wardrobe, please come see if I have something. We are nearly the same size now.”
“Mother said I took after your eldest brother in growth. I am hoping to exceed two meters.”
“I agree with that statement… and I believe you will. My brother, Jax, was well over two meters tall.”
“But I am happy that I look like you, Father. It pleases me that people instantly know I am your son,” Lekan promised.
“It pleases me as well,” Jordon said, bowing his head.
“I don’t want to make you any more uncomfortable than I have, but I feel the need to admit that I have become completely devoted to you,” Lekan said boldly.
“And I to you,” Jordon replied with sincerity.
Lekan smiled. “Good. Perhaps tonight you should wear the green tunic Sarinnea gave you to the party. It would no doubt please her to see you in it.”
“What green tunic?” Jordon asked.
“The new one Sarinnea laid across your bed when she stopped by earlier.”
Lekan chuckled when his father sighed dramatically and walked away. He wondered if his father even knew Sarinnea was dressing him in the colors of her house.
About The Forced To Serve Series
Join the crew of the Liberator, a rescue ship working for the Peace Alliance. Follow their adventures for guaranteed action, laughs, and fun in this science fiction and fantasy romantic comedy series. The Liberator travels to new star systems to rescue high profile officials. Sometimes they even manage to do their job.
Just like in space opera TV shows, the characters in my Forced To Serve series reappear from book to book because they are crew members of the same spaceship. However, there is a full romance with a new couple in each book as well. The one exception to this is that Book 1 (64,000 words) and Book 2 (110,000 words) together are the full story of Liam and Ania's romance. Reading both books is recommended to get a full feel for this series.
If you like the alien-human interactions in Star Trek, Firefly, and Guardians of the Galaxy, you'll enjoy the humor in the Forced To Serve series.