A matebond born in blood and betrayal. An obsessed alien warlord prince who will hunt her across galaxies rather than let her go. . .
I’m just your average gal, a fugitive on the run from the possessive barbarian warlord who tried to claim me as his mate and drag me back to his planet as a blood concubine.
I fled. He isn’t happy.
How was I supposed to know he was a prince?
And since I’m a wanted criminal on his planet, when he captures me, I don’t expect a happy reunion.
One savage warrior prince pissed off at having to hunt me across galaxies? Check.
Two walking, talking secrets I’ve kept from him? Double check.
A mating frenzy I can’t escape, and an enemy who doesn’t want me to have a happily ever after? Yeah, check that too.
Ready for departure? Great, download now.
His Secret Heir is an ultra steamy, slightly dark, sci fi alien warrior royalty romance for readers who crave enemies-to-lovers, fated mates, and vampire barbarians who won’t take no for an answer. First in the Khuldun Warriors series.
PLEASE NOTE: Some of the steamy scenes may be triggering to some readers for slightly dark themes. Those chapters may be skipped without impacting the overall arc of the story.
:You’ve got an admirer at 6:00 o’clock,: the dark, contralto voice came through my earpiece. :Do you want me to take care of that?:
“The point is to not draw attention,” I murmured. “Murdering an innocent civilian is contrary to that goal.”
:Uh huh. If he’s so innocent, why does he keep looking at you?:
I ignored the implied insult. Good question. Thrumming my fingertips on the low square table, I stared thoughtfully into a cup of amber tea. I’d only been waiting twenty minutes for my contact and didn’t even mind that they were late. Choosing this teahouse served two purposes. A bit of relaxation, and then business. Since this place didn’t serve alcoholic beverages, its clientele were a little less rowdy than those in the canteen next door. Commercial zoning was at a premium on this dusty outpost—the canteen and the tea house tried to ignore each other.
We were on the seedier side of the galaxy, but a smuggler and crew constantly on the run can’t be too choosy.
I frowned. “Are you sure they acknowledged receipt of our message to meet here?”
An offended snort was the only response. As captain of our small ship, hypothetically I should merit a little more respect, but I frequently found hypothetical to be a barbed metal spike rammed up one’s ass if one was dumb enough to bend over.
:Just a little murder and mayhem?: Aslana wheedled. :Routine surveillance is incredibly boring. I should be on the ground with you as backup.:
“I think not. The last time—”
:Whatever, bring up the past.:
“Sorry that my efforts to keep us fed and out of a brig don’t meet with your approval.”
:He looked at you again.: A murmur from Suhail, interrupting Aslana’s murderous sulking. :I’m running him through the database now.:
“Hmm.” The twins were a little paranoid, but then I’d trained them.
I glanced across the room at the male in question. If he’d been looking at me, he wasn’t now, giving me a few seconds to study his profile.
He sat at the long, low bar area nursing a single cup of tea and a small plate of bite-sized morsels. A Khuldunian warrior. I’d noted him when he entered the teahouse in a brief halo of sunlight before the door slid silently shut, but it had been at least a decade before I’d been paranoid enough to think that every Khuldunian warrior I passed was out to get me. After all these years in hiding, no few of them spent in the gladiatorial tournament circuit as a front for my less than legal operations, I hadn’t been apprehended once.
There’ve been a few close calls, but close doesn’t count.
“Most of the time the simplest explanation is the correct one,” I said. “He might just be interested in an evening of downtime activity.”
I downplayed my looks to avoid that kind of attention. Nondescript, severe dark clothing, bronzed brown skin and dark eyes common on my planet. No makeup or enhancements of any kind, my black hair drawn back into a simple long tail. A cold, flat gaze that discouraged social conversation.
:That may not be it.: Suhail sounded dubious. :No matches in the database.:
“The entrance scans for weapons.”
Which meant nothing. Like me, his particular weapons might not register on this establishment’s scanners. Giving him another quick glance, I dismissed the fanciful notion he was unarmed.
A Khuldunian warrior with undetectable weapons who didn’t register in our extensive database?
Bounty hunter. Or an assassin, pick one. Though that particular species was a little too straightforward for assassination work. No patience, little subtlety, and a preference for using the biggest weapon possible to handle the smallest job.
I wouldn’t say they aren’t bright, as a species—that would be prejudiced. But they do prefer to utilize their brawn.
So. . .bounty hunter.
:I played back the security footage,: Suhail said. :He entered after you, sat down and ordered. First indication of surveillance ten minutes later.:
“Contact the client. Give them ten minutes.” A few moments of silence went by.
:The client just pinged me,: Aslana interjected. :En route. They request you hold your guts.:
I doubted those were the exact words. “Continue monitoring the perimeter.”
There was no proof the warrior was here for anything other than tea and possibly a companion for the night. As one of the better looking individuals currently seated, and appearing to be alone, I would be a natural choice.
But I’d keep an eye on him.
Because I was monitoring him, I didn’t need the twins to alert me when he rose from his table and approached.
From his monolid eyes and ashy pale hair ending in shimmering brown tips, he was from one of the northern hemisphere provinces on planet Khuldan. Tall, lean and muscled, though most of their warriors were some variation of muscled. Leanly muscled, overly muscled, ridiculously muscled. Pick one.
“Are you waiting for anyone?” he asked in what passed for unofficial Standard in this part of the galaxy, his voice polite and lightly accented. He watched me with no emotion in his pale eyes, though he attempted a close mouthed smile. “A beautiful female like you should not be alone in a place like this.”
The shit poor attempt at flirtation disturbed me more than anything else. A male truly on the hunt for an evening companion would have a better corny pickup line prepared. But I didn’t move, lifting a brow and indicating that he should sit opposite me. The fastest way to figure out what he was up to was to let him talk.
“I’m not precisely alone,” I said. “I have some business.” Another sip.
He offered another lukewarm smile, still close lipped as if the sight of his fangs would send me into a faint. “Perhaps after your business, you’d be interested in a few hours of pleasure?”
He wasn’t selling the attempt at seduction.
:You need to get out of there,: Suhail said. :The contact may have been intercepted.: So I figured. The contact was already forty minutes late.
The contact intercepted, and a Khuldunian bounty hunter trying to make me think he was attempting to seduce me?
I didn’t believe in coincidences.
The most expedient action would be to leave, but then we wouldn’t know who was currently on our tail and why. We needed that information before we left the space station for new coordinates.
I leaned forward, relaxing my expression a little. “What kind of pleasure did you have in mind?”
I tried to sound seductive, but I guess we had something in common. We were both rusty at this game. An expression flickered behind his eyes. Almost as if we understood each other.
The front door of the establishment slid open, and I glanced over, giving the new patrons a cursory glance. Then paused, because it was another Khuldunian. This one already had a woman on his arm, so I relaxed. A little. Their presence on this outpost wasn’t common, but it wasn’t rare either. There’s probably a reason that had nothing to do with me why there were now three in this teahouse.
:Running the new ones,: Suhail murmured, letting me know my crew’s attention were also on the newcomers.
I turned my gaze back to the male sitting across from me and set down my teacup, giving the warrior another polite smile.
“Perhaps another time.” I rose.
He gestured. “You haven’t finished your tea. Don’t allow me to rush you off. The leaves here come at a premium.”
He was right, and it could look odd if I left my teapot unconsumed and fled. I bent and lifted the last of my tea, downing it. Then stilled, cursing when I caught a flare of satisfaction in his eyes.
Stupid newbie mistake.
“Replay the last five minutes,” I said, not giving a fuck if the warrior heard me talking out loud to no one. If my suspicion was correct, it wouldn’t matter.
:Fuck,: Aslana said seconds later. We’d discuss her language later.
We’d all been distracted a moment before. Distracted enough for the bounty hunter to slip something into my drink.
I focused my gaze on him, feeling a slow creeping lethargy spreading through my limbs.
“What did you give me?” I asked softly, though my nanos would begin analyzing and breaking down the foreign substance in seconds.
But if he was here for me, a professional would know to alter a standard formula just enough that my system wouldn’t recognize it immediately, giving him time. Poisoning a Jakkathian was tricky, but it could be done.
“Confess, and I won’t separate your head from your shoulders.”
This time, his smile was full and genuine, revealing gleaming incisors.
This was wasting time. I stumbled away from the table, feeling the disturbance in the air behind me as he stood. He didn’t follow, probably timing his pursuit. He’d have calculated about how long it would take for the drug to knock me out so he could stroll forward and help himself to my prone body.
So what was the price on my head now? Was this an old bounty, or a new?
I cursed internally. Cursed one male. Had he found me after all this time? Did he want my head on a pike, or a silver platter?
That was, indeed, the question.
Ignoring a spike of instinctive fear and exaggerating an imminent collapse, I left the dining room and made my way through the kitchen, shoving past workers with a few muttered apologies for my rudeness. I don’t enter any establishment without knowing where all the exits are. The back of this place emerged into a shared alley with the neighboring tavern.
I shoved out the door, stumbled, and crashed to my knees.