She awoke in another strange room with no memory of what had transpired after they'd left the club. She wriggled a toe, then a finger, an arm and a leg. Everything seemed to be working. She felt good, much better than she had in a while.
The faint sweet tang of tiug leaf wisped across her nostrils. It was barely enough warning.
"Maegan," said Alerik, in a soft rumble that raised tiny hairs all over her body, "you really do need to stop getting into these...situations."
He strolled into her line of vision, a tall man and--oh, blazing starpits--wearing nothing but loose pants draped low across his hips and a half smile on his lips. Her sense of well-being vanished as her sweat glands went crazy and tension tightened every cell in her body.
She forced her mouth open. "Before you arrived, my life was perfectly normal."
He laughed and stopped beside her, too close. "Ah. You imply that I somehow had something to do with the attack and the, ah, club scuffle."
She closed her eyes. All that bare, hard flesh was too much to take. "Of course not." She couldn't help herself and cracked open one eye again. Maybe he wouldn't notice. "Well, actually, the club fight was your fault." At least he'd been one of the sparks.
"Yes?" He sat down facing her on the raised sleeping platform. His hip brushed against hers with only two thin layers of cloth between them, which made her realize that someone had removed all her clothes again. She didn't even want to think about that.
The scent of tiug was stronger. His body heat licked her hip and reached out tentacles to places deep in her body. She squeezed both eyes shut again.
"I had this fascinating vid conversation with the proprietress of the club, Mistress Gloriana."
He picked up her hand and cradled it between his. The simmering heat in her body erupted into a conflagration.
"Yes, Mistress Gloriana found it quite interesting that the staff of Janas Corporation was unaware of their leader's change in marital status, and she was also quite indignant that the Counselor of Pallas Four hadn't seen fit to announce her marriage partnership to the populace of Pallas Four. Protocol and ceremony are very important to Mistress Gloriana, as they should be." He chuckled and squeezed her hand. "She didn't place all the blame on you, you'll be happy to know. I received a thorough scolding on that one as well. But she has taken it upon herself to disseminate the news in an appropriate way."
Wonderful. Just what she didn't want. But the image of the club proprietress scolding Alerik Mariltar was intriguing. She chose to focus on that in a desperate attempt to ignore his thumb, which was stroking the top of her hand. It didn't work.
His thumb stroked. Her hand was limp with pleasure. The rest of her body, traitor that it was, strained with yearning for the same treatment. Alerik was silent.
The silence stretched until she couldn't bear it anymore and cracked open an eye again. His head was bent a little, his expression thoughtful, his gaze focused on their joined hands.
He was quite beautiful, she realized, with a little jolt. His dark hair, burnished with a tinge of deep red, was trimmed closely to shape of his skull. His facial features were strong but evenly proportioned. He had the classical Mariltar profile--straight nose, square chin, full lips. In this contemplative mood he'd fallen into, his chin dimples were nowhere in evidence.