Authors: Marly Chance
Tags: #Erotic, #Romance, #Science Fiction/Fantasy
The following material contains strong sexual content meant for mature readers. “OATH OF CHALLENGE: CONQUERING KATE” has been rated NC-17, erotic, by three individual reviewers. We strongly suggest storing this electronic file in a place where young readers not meant to view the ebook are unlikely to happen upon it. That said, enjoy…
The Shimerian population had been in trouble for many generations. There was a great disproportion of males and not enough female mates. Of the children born, a large percent were male. It was a downward spiral that spelled eventual extinction for an entire planet. Shimerian scientists worked feverishly to solve the mystery of the population problem, but were unsuccessful. As a temporary solution they proposed importing females from other planets or having males go off-planet for mates.
After listening to the scientists’ grim reports, Shimerian government officials began to look for possible solutions. They studied other planets and concluded that Earth, with its many similarities, was a logical first choice.
Humans and Shimerians were similar biologically. The two planets were environmentally similar, although there were significant differences in atmosphere. However, these differences presented a major difficulty. Shimerians could not adapt well enough to the differences to live on Earth for longer than three weeks at a time. After three weeks they grew progressively sicker until death occurred.
Humans, on the other hand, were more adaptable. They were able to adjust to Shimerian atmosphere quickly and could live on the planet with no problem. Even more importantly, Shimerians and humans were biologically compatible enough to make interplanetary reproduction possible. A solution was in sight.
After lengthy negotiations, the Earth government agreed to help. The ShimEarth Friendship Treaty was signed. The Treaty was supposed to be the beginning of a new era in interplanetary cooperation for the greater good.
Earth agreed to provide potential mates for Shimerians. In return, Shimerian resources and technology were fully available to Earth. Already, in only the first eighty years since the signing, amazing cures for some of the worst Earth diseases had resulted from the cooperative knowledge provided by Shimerian scientists to Earth scientists.
However, the sharing of technology and culture was approached slowly and carefully. No one wanted conflict resulting from too rapid an integration. Each planet had its own secrets, but positive advances took place on both sides. Each government had its own reasons for ensuring success.
However, in the beginning, suspicion ran high. The Treaty was complicated to negotiate and even more difficult to implement. The Earth government, making clear it was not prostituting its women, agreed to provide a register of potential mates and carefully agreed upon Courtship Laws.
Since the Shimerian males’ version of courtship leaned toward kidnapping and seduction, the Earth government had been very specific that the program would be voluntary and follow prescribed rules. Earth females chosen from the register or “called to Oath,” were given three courtship or engagement options, two of which included a “knowing period.”
If, after the knowing period and under certain conditions, the Earth female did not want to continue the union, she could file legal paperwork that the union was incompatible and should be dissolved. The third option was added in the event that a female had changed her mind. Basically, Earth officials tried to build in an escape clause. In the end, Shimeria was able to turn the clause to its advantage.
The register was considered by Earth to be similar to signing a contract with the armed services. Females signed and swore an oath to abide by the Oath contract. The penalties for breaking Oath were quite severe--imprisonment and heavy monetary fines. However, the social stigma of breaking Oath was considered much worse.
When the treaty had been signed some eighty years ago, there was hesitation by Earth females and only a few actually became Shimerian mates. However, as the positive breakthroughs in technology and medicine began to be widely felt, the Shimerian government pushed hard for a public relations program in higher learning centers to promote registering.
These “culture classes” explained the process in glowing terms and encouraged young women to register. The classes had a very idealistic slant with just enough excitement to entice. “
Help your fellow human beings and Shimerians, too
,” they persuaded, “
while having an adventure
More Earth females registered and were mated. Then, rumors began to surface about Shimerian men and their sexual abilities. Women spoke with sighs of their physical attributes, but a lot of information remained unknown. There was just enough mystery to intrigue and entice even the most hardheaded of women. More and more Earth females registered.
After a while, the overwhelming response meant that for every twenty thousand Earth women registered, only one would actually be called to Oath. Most would go on to fall in love with a man on Earth. When she married or at age thirty, her name would be removed from the register with thanks from her government for her willingness to serve.
Shimeria conducted its own educational campaign. Shimerian males were given “Earth culture classes” in school to understand the customs and the languages. In addition, more emphasis was placed on the importance of honing telepathic skills.
Shimerian males realized early that finding a mate was a difficult task. It involved years of telepathically probing and searching for their destined mate. When the male located his mate mentally, the odds were very good that she would be on the Earth register. If she was not on the register, there were other alternatives.
After all the years of practicing and searching, it was quite a moment for a Shimerian male to locate his mate. Some males went through their lifetime trying and not succeeding. No one could understand why some males located their mates at a particular time. It was a great mystery and a great source of frustration. Some called it luck. Some said chance. Some said destiny. And some said skill.
Some, like Tair da’Kamon considered it all of those things. Knowing Tair’s skills, not many would dare to disagree. In the last few weeks, Tair’s brother, Liken had called his mate to Oath. Rumor held that Tair had located his pactmate years ago, but had waited. Whisperers said he had been waiting for his brother to call his mate, so that Tair could be the couple’s link. To be eligible to offer protection as a link, the male had to be unpledged at that time. Tair was very protective of his brother. Most felt the rumor could be entirely true.
Now that Liken was pledging with his mate and Tair was her link, many wondered if Tair would call his pactmate to Oath. Speculation was rife regarding his possible mate. He was a Guardian of exceptional skill, respected for his cunning and determination. What kind of Earth female would be a match for such a warrior?
Tair heard the new rumors and arched an eyebrow in sardonic amusement. As usual, he kept his own counsel. He never confirmed or denied anything. Gossipmongers were left to wonder. However, later in private, Tair did not bother hiding his lusty smile of anticipation. Indeed, he had found his mate. Her name was Kate...
Men, Kate concluded, are pretty much like an expensive pair of stockings -- sexy when you first try them on, but apt to run like hell at the first snag. Leaning back in her chair, she sighed and waved a mental goodbye to Todd.
He had been an amusing lover and a nice diversion from the drudgery of her heavy work schedule. It was a shame that he had to disappear and take her good sex life with him. Truthfully, she rather thought she’d miss the sex more than Todd.
Suddenly, a deep masculine voice broke her train of thought. “I’ve heard that sigh before. It can only mean trouble.”
Kate smiled with surprised pleasure. “I’m not the troublemaker in this family, remember? Gage, what are you doing here?”
Gage strolled into her office and sat down with unconscious masculine grace. Kate assessed her brother silently. He was six foot, three with blond hair and blue eyes. Muscular and athletic, he had an easy charm to match.
Under the movie star good looks, though, he looked tired. She could see traces of strain in his face, and there was a lurking sadness in those crystal blue eyes. Frowning with concern, she continued, “And why do you look so sad?”
Gage rolled his eyes, though affectionately. “Men do not get sad, Kate. Women get sad. Men get pissed off. And I’m not either of those things. I’m fine. You’re the one sighing. What’s the sigh all about?”
Kate stared hard at him a moment, but knew he wouldn’t be budged. He wasn’t going to tell her until he was ready. She didn’t like seeing that look on his face at all. She could guess why it was there, and the mere thought sent a touch of panic through her veins.
Her brother would not die. She would fight fate, or God, or whomever she had to fight, but she was not losing Gage. Pasting a determined smile on her face, she said lightly, “I could be sighing at the thought of the chocolate ice cream I had at lunch.”
Gage threw back his head and laughed. Shaking his head at her, he said, “First of all, you don’t like ice cream. A horrible sin, but it’s true. Secondly, knowing you, you probably worked right through lunch. Unless you lunched with, uhhh what’s the name this time? Was it Brad or Brent?”
Kate gave him a cold glare designed to freeze the blood in his veins. “It was neither. Do try to keep up. His name was Todd. And he’s outlived his usefulness as of this morning.”
Gage’s expression sobered a little, but the amusement was still in his voice. “Poor bastard. What did you do? Tell him he was fired without further notice? Oh, I know, you’re both lawyers. You sent him papers addressed to ‘Dumpee.’”
Kate forced a rather brittle laugh and nearly winced. “Actually, I believe I received the papers this time. But, no doubt he’d have received some from me soon enough.”
Gage sat up and searched her face with suddenly gentle eyes. “Kate, are you okay? Did you really care about this one?”
Kate sighed and felt a pang of sadness that had nothing to do with Todd. “No, actually, I didn’t. I mean, I cared about him as a person, but you know me–I don’t develop lasting relationships.”
Gage shook his head. “That’s not true and you know it. Look at you and Sharon. You’ve been friends for forever. “
Kate went cold with icy dread at the mention of Sharon. Taking a deep breath, she said with resignation, “Sharon. That’s right. You don’t know about Sharon.”
Looking really alarmed now, Gage asked, “What’s happened?”
Kate met his eyes squarely. “Sharon was called to Oath. She’s due back from Shimeria today. I have the incompatibility papers already drawn up for her signature. ”
Gage eyes widened in shock. “Called to Oath? Sharon?” He looked dazed at the thought. “Sharon is so…”
He fell silent, obviously trying to think of a term. “And Shimerians are so…”
Kate smiled grimly. “Yes, exactly. If they’ve harmed her in any way, I’ll go there myself and see justice done. I swear I will.”
Thoughts of her sheltered librarian best friend in the arms of a dominant, sexually aggressive alien had given Kate quite a few sleepless nights in the last three weeks. Thank God Sharon was coming home today. She would see her and make sure everything was okay. Feeling a familiar sense of frustration at her inability to do anything now, she focused on explaining the specifics to Gage.
“His name is Liken da’Kamon. He invoked the Oath three weeks ago and Sharon chose Seduction.” Her mind filled with images of herself and Sharon at eighteen, so young and idealistic, signing the register. Wincing at the thought of how she’d urged Sharon to sign, she felt a fresh wave of guilt and helplessness.
Gage knew he looked outwardly composed. He’d had a lifetime of hiding his emotions, even from his sister. But inside he was truly shocked and worried at the news. Straightening his shoulders, he asked precisely, “What do you mean she chose Seduction?”
Kate heard the dangerous edge to his voice and said quietly, “Earth females get three options as to the Oath the Shimerian male will make: Seduction, Challenge, or Capture.”
Gage tried to remember what he could about Shimeria. It wasn’t much. He had met some Shimerian males in his travels, but he’d never been off-planet to visit the place. The males whom he’d met were big and lusty types, powerfully built and aggressively male. He couldn’t imagine Sharon with that kind of man.
He felt a growing anger at the thought of what might have happened to Sharon. Focusing on getting as much information as possible, he said shortly, “Explain the options to me. What exactly happens?”
Kate watched the growing anger in her brother and felt a little relieved. They would help Sharon together. Taking another deep, calming breath, she said, “I’ve been going over the paperwork carefully. If the female chooses Seduction, she goes to Shimeria with him for three weeks referred to as a “knowing period.” He gets certain intimacies at certain times progressively.”
She realized she was tapping her fingers impatiently on the desk out of sheer nerves and stopped immediately. “Total intimacy occurs within three days. Basically, he takes an oath to seduce her into staying with him. After three weeks, if he’s successful, they have a pledge ceremony and go back to Shimeria to live. If he’s unsuccessful in convincing her to stay at the end of the knowing period, she can file incompatible papers and dissolve the pact.”
Gage tensed even more and said shortly, “Couldn’t she have picked one of the other options?”
Kate sighed. “Believe me, for Sharon that would have been worse. The Oath of Challenge is similar to the Seduction Oath. The female agrees to cooperate sexually with any intimacy for two weeks--except intercourse. Obviously, he can’t abuse her or force her into repulsive acts. He’s challenging her to explore her sexuality without giving in to total intimacy.”
The words came out huskier than she intended. Clearing her throat, she continued, “If she has intercourse with him, she is ineligible to file for noncomp. She has to pledge with him and stay.”
Kate felt a little warm at the discussion of the Challenge Oath. Despite her worry for Sharon, she couldn’t help feeling intrigued at the thought. What would it be like to explore your desires in that way?
An image of a Liken’s broad-shouldered brother flashed through her mind. There was something about him. He kept popping into her thoughts. She had even awakened from a few rather interesting dreams. She might see him today when she went to the Pactbuilding to see Sharon and file the papers. Immediately, she banished the thought.
With each sentence, Gage could feel his blood pressure rising. “And Capture?”
Shrugging helplessly, Kate explained, “In my opinion, it’s the most dangerous of the three. The female runs and tries to evade the male for a month. She has two advantages: she gets a 24-hour head-start and Shimerians can only stay on Earth for three weeks without getting ill. The illness progresses rapidly and is fatal if they don’t return to their own world. They can’t adjust to our atmosphere.”
She wearily rubbed the back of her neck where it had begun to ache. “I wish we couldn’t adjust to their atmosphere, but we can.”
Gage felt guilt all the way down to his toes. He had been unavailable and out of touch when his family needed him. He felt the guilt turn to anger at his own selfishness. He should have been there for them.
He said, “I’m sorry, Kate. The two of you should have been able to come to me. I would have helped hide her. He wouldn’t have found her. And if he had, he wouldn’t have taken her away.”
Kate smiled and shook her head. “Gage, as much as I appreciate the protectiveness, we could have handled it ourselves. Besides, she couldn’t break Oath. Signing the register is legally binding. She would have faced imprisonment here. She could have run under the Capture option, but…”
She leaned back in her chair and said grimly, “We couldn’t risk the consequences if she was caught. If the male captures her, she has to obey him sexually for however much of the month is left. He can do what he likes to her, as long as he doesn’t hurt her emotionally or physically.”
Seeing the hardness in her brother’s eyes, she forced a more neutral tone. “A high stakes gamble with possibly intense sexual consequences. For Sharon, it was out of the question. Oh, and with Capture, noncomp papers are out, too. You’re stuck.”
Gage leaned back in his chair and wiped his hand over his face in an absent-minded gesture of frustration. Obviously, Sharon had made the only choice that she could make, given the options. Suddenly, he remembered something else about Shimerians. He hated to even mention the topic to Kate. She would get upset, but he had to know. “They’re psychic, aren’t they? Or some form of it?”
Kate knew her face had gone pale at the mention of the word, but she said evenly, “Yes, I think they have some unusual mental abilities. I couldn’t find any concrete evidence in my research, but there are too many rumors from too many places.” She looked away.
Gage felt the weight of silence hang between them for a long moment. Kate was avoiding looking at him. He decided to confront the issue directly. “Kate, we both know psychic powers are possible. I’m clairvoyant and there’s no getting around it. I’ve proven it enough times in our lives. Just because you don’t like what I see, doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
Panic and anger raged inside her, so Kate purposefully turned cool. “It’s not that I don’t believe in your powers. You know I do. I just don’t believe in destiny. You may have seen your…” her voice caught, but she quickly got it under control, “…death, but I refuse to accept it. You’re healthy and sitting right here in front of me. Nothing’s going to happen.”
Gage’s heart twisted at the look on his sister’s face. She knew deep down that he was right, but she couldn’t accept it. Unfortunately, she was going to have to accept it soon. He could sense time running out.
There was a new feeling of urgency lately. The vision was occurring with an alarming frequency now. He had hoped he was overstressed and that a vacation would lessen the feeling and the dreams. Instead, as he’d relaxed, they’d only grown stronger. He could feel his life slipping away, hour by hour. His heart sped up in his chest. Not much longer. There was no doubt.
Watching Kate’s pain-filled face, he groped helplessly with a way to comfort her. Pasting on a smile he said lightly, “Come on, Kit-Kate, you know I’ve lived a life full enough for ten men.”
He watched with rising panic as her eyes grew over-bright at the childhood nickname. Kate never cried. This conversation was getting bad in a hurry. Deliberately goading her he said, “Hey, I’ve single-handedly worked my way through the female population of this city and two foreign cities as well. I don’t plan to die until I have at least two more cities under my belt.”
Kate knew what he was doing. He was bringing up his playboy image to distract her. Rather than being distracted, she spoke with firm resolve. “I don’t care what visions you’ve had. You’re not dying young and that’s final.” Attempting to lighten the moment, she continued primly, “And psychic visions are no excuse for being oversexed.”
Gage couldn’t help admiring his sister’s determination and control. Kate was one hell of a fighter. He grinned. “Who needs an excuse for being oversexed when it’s so much fun?”
Suddenly, there was a loud commotion in the hallway. Gage stood and flashed a warning look at Kate. “Stay here. Something’s happening.”
Kate ignored her brother and stood as well. Suddenly, the flustered voice of her assistant was heard saying clearly, “But sirs, you can’t interrupt her. Ms. Carson is busy. If you’ll just allow me to…”
Two hulking Pactreps entered her office, with her worried assistant right behind them murmuring objections and apologies. Seeing Gage tense, she moved quickly to bring things under control. She nodded to her assistant. “Darren, it’s okay. I’m willing to see these two
” She placed a sarcastic emphasis on the last word.
Gage arched an eyebrow at her in question. She shook her head slightly and dropped casually into her chair. She watched as Gage moved over to the left, and leaned against the wall. He crossed his arms over his chest. He looked at the Pactreps like a sleepy tiger deciding lazily when to pounce on his meal.
Her assistant backed out of the office with an apologetic look. The Pactreps came to a halt in front of her desk. They were wearing identical black pants and white shirts. They were easily six feet, six inches tall and heavily muscled. They looked more like bodyguards than government paper servers.