It had taken several walks around the length of the bedroom for Lotor to even begin to calm down, his fists relaxing so that his nails no longer bit into his palms. Not all of his agitation had faded, Lotor certain it would remain until his mate came to accept him, all of him. That was proving to be a problem, his mate seeming barely able to tolerate his touches.
He wanted to growl at the disaster he had invited in trying to bond with her through skin to skin contact. His mate’s tears, Allura’s eyes welling up with them. He hadn’t had time to feel anything more than shock to see them, for her words, that simple but heart felt plea had made his blood turn cold. She had feared he was going to rape her, and didn’t seem to understand how repellent the very thought of that action was to him.
Drules did not rape their mates, ever. When they came together it was with understanding and love, heart felt emotions that made the act a joy to complete. He sullenly noted that his mate seemed to feel none of that, and he didn’t understand why. What was he doing wrong, why did she continue to stiffen in fear every time he tried to touch her?
It was a puzzle, one as complex as she was beautiful. She was proving to be a challenge, and Lotor wasn’t sure he liked that. He thought of his friend Cossack, and the princess he was mated to. He had never envied his friend before, but now he did, jealous of the easiness of his mating. It wasn’t just Cossack if he thought about it, there were many couples on Doom, love matches that were experiencing their happy ever after in each other’s arms.
His pacing put him near a mirror, Lotor spying the frown on his face. It was something he was doing a lot of, the expression seemed tied to his mate and her odd behavior. In the background behind him, he could see her huddled on the bed, knees drawn up to her chest. She was looking at him, cautious should he try to approach her. He had to fight not to do just that, every fiber of his being demanding he go to her.
He was resisting that urge, but just barely. He had a feeling if it came to it, Lotor would crawl across broken glass to reach her. It frustrated him to know she probably wouldn’t be impressed with such an act.
He had frozen before the mirror, keeping his back to her. But his eyes were staring at her reflection, drinking her in greedily. She was so beautiful, a treasure for the
eyes, one whose lovely looks would draw many to her like bears to the sweetest honey. He wondered what she thought when she looked at him, an alarming thought occurring to him. Did his mate think him ugly?
Lotor tried not to frown into the mirror, trying for a neutral look. He knew to the Drule he was considered handsome, with his powder blue skin, and snow white mane. He had an aristocrat’s nose, and amber golden eyes. The eyes were the only feature he truly shared with his father, his human mother’s influence softening everything about him. He was just this short of being too pretty for a man, but now he wondered and worried. Did Allura find him ugly? Was she repulsed by the very sight of him?
Storm clouds in his eyes, he turned away from the mirror, his gaze seeking her out. She immediately tensed up, even from this distance he could see the strain on her face. Such a reaction to him pained him, but Lotor forced himself to go to her.
He was immensely relieved she didn’t go as far as to back up on the bed, his mate bravely holding her position near the edge. He stopped before her, and she craned her neck back to stare up as his looming form. The strongest urge to drop down to his knees before her was upon him, Lotor wanting to beg Allura to be his. Disgust warred with that impulse, Lotor knowing he did not beg.
And yet for Allura he just might do so! Unconsciously his hands clenched into fists at his sides, both at that thought and to keep from sinking his hands into her hair. “Allura…” He loved how her name rolled off his tongue, Lotor finding his voice was steady as he spoke.
“Y…yes?” She stammered out, the word a nervous question.
“What do you…think of me?” He saw her blink her eyes in a rapid motion, as if that could hide how surprised she was by his question.
“Of you?” His mate asked, and he nodded. “Oh. I don’t know. I barely know you…I mean….it’s too soon to truly form an opinion.”
That wasn’t good, she should have thought something of him! Did he really have no impact on his mate? “You think nothing of me?” She began to nod, then shrugged.
“Well…I am a little scared of you.” She looked nervous at her admission, and Lotor fought to keep the wounded look off his face. His mate was scared of him! This was just too perfect, a near and total disaster.
“Scared why?” Lotor wanted to know. “I have done nothing to you, nothing harmful.”
“That is debatable.” Allura replied, earning another frown from him. She sighed then, and her next words nearly turned his blood to ice water in his veins. “You’re a Drule.” It seemed for once his people’s fearsome reputation was working against him, leaving his mate uncertain and frightened of him. HIM! He who should be her world, her very soul.
“You hate the Drule…” His tone was dull, Lotor almost certain of the answer.
“Hate…” A moment’s hesitation from his mate, the girl looking uncertain. “Is such a strong word. I…I don’t LIKE the Drule. Not after the horrible crimes your people have committed.”
He’d debate whether they were crimes or not some other time, Lotor speaking. “My people are not all bad.” She looked ready to protest, but Lotor continued. “Nor are they all good.”
“And which one are you?” She asked it like she already knew the answer. It made him wish he was better than he was, Lotor knowing he had done some terrible things in the name of his kingdom.
“My hands are not entirely clean.” Lotor admitted reluctantly.
“Do you ever regret that?” Allura wanted to know.
“Yes.” His voice rang with the sound of truth, Lotor knowing in this moment he did regret it. And all because his misdeeds made himself unworthy in his mate’s eyes!
She was looking at him with surprise in her eyes, her voice a low murmur. “You sound as though you really mean that.”
“Because I do.” He insisted.
“You can change, you know.” He raised an eyebrow at that, wondering how. “You can start right now. By letting me go. By letting my friends go.”
“I can’t do that.” Lotor answered, earning her disappointment.
“Can’t or won’t?” Allura seemed to be sagging in place, her whole body taking on a dejected air to it. He yearned to embrace her, to comfort her. But as badly as he wanted to hug her to him, he didn’t want to experience her distaste yet again.
“Can’t.” Lotor repeated. “You’re my mate….your place is here with me.”
“I can’t be with you. You’ve made a mistake.” He reeled back at her words as though they had punched him hard in the gut. He didn’t know which statement hurt more, each one proof of her rejection. “I…I’m sorry…” Allura added, Lotor giving a shake of his head.
“I don’t make mistakes!” He was trying not to shout, but his voice came out a loud exclamation. His mate seemed to flinch at the volume of his voice, but he couldn’t lower it, couldn’t calm down. “Not about this, not about you!”
She said nothing, just looked at him with that sorrowful gaze. It was almost worse than if she had outright cried, Lotor feeling as though spikes were being pushed into him. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, mates weren’t supposed to hurt each other! But it seemed all they could do, him with his touches, and she with her words and constant rejection.
The hurt didn’t lessen his love for her, nothing would ever be capable of that. Lotor feared he was just consigning them both to endless torment, and yet he couldn’t even comprehend the thought of going without her. She was his everything! He’d die without her, just as surely as a fish would suffocate out of water.
“We’re each others mates…” He said it almost helplessly, knowing she wouldn’t acknowledge it. Not now, maybe not ever.
“No.” A shake of her head, gaze solemn.
“Yes.” He insisted, and reached out to cup her face in both hands. “Yes.” He placed a gentle kiss on her forehead, and wanted more from her. More than she would give, more than she could possible understand.
“People will come looking for me.” Allura said to him. He pulled back to look at her, hands still cradling her face. “They will fight to save me.”
“If they try to take you from me, they will die.” Lotor stated this as fact, upset to see how disturbed she looked by what he had said.
“You will succeed in doing nothing but proving what a monster you and your people are if you kill them!”
“Monster? No, Allura…” A shake of his head, his hands letting go of her. “It is no crime, no wrong doing to protect one’s mate. Anyone would do the same.”
“I wouldn’t need protecting from them!” She was frustrated now. “And only the Drule would think like that!”
“I cannot help what I am!” He exclaimed. “Please….don’t hate me for it.”
His mate lowered her eyes, it seemed all the response she would give him to his plea. He refused to crumple before her, Lotor backing up a step, and then another. This whole situation was painful, his heart hurting, his chest growing tight.
The feelings intensified when he realized she was crying silently, his heart nearly cleaving in two at the sight of her tears falling. He dully realized it was his fault for her upset, his stubborn refusal to let her go and the promise to kill any who tried to take her from him. He seemed only capable of hurting his mate, and Lotor wanted to scream at the wrongness of it all.
“I’m sorry!” He whispered, wondering if she even heard him. Lotor didn’t stick around for a response, almost positive she wouldn’t grant him her forgiveness.
Lacking shirt, his mind dull with negative emotions, Lotor turned and fled from the sight of his crying mate. Something inside him screamed, demanding what he was doing. His mate was hurting, he should be fixing it, putting an end to her tears. But Lotor knew that Allura’s source of upset stemmed from him. He was the cause of it all, and for now there was nothing he could do.
Upset as he was, he barely remembered to lock the outer chambers door, ignoring the strange looks his shirtless visage earned from the passing Drules in the hall. He wondered if word had spread to everyone on board the ship, if they knew their prince was mated now. Certainly if they knew, they would be wondering why he had left Allura’s side, why he wasn’t savoring the experience of being with her, of loving her.
He didn’t even have any marks of favor on his body, no love bites to show how pleased his mate was with him. It was almost embarrassing, Lotor glaring furiously so that the people in the hall would turn away from him. He felt inadequate without Allura but also when he was with her, and damn if he didn’t like that feeling!
With a snort, and a shake of his head, he was stalking away from his—their chambers, expression stormy as he prowled through the corridors of the ship. He tried to tell himself he wasn’t running away from her, but really that was what he was doing.
Each step he took was a battle, his body wanting to turn and run back to Allura’s side. Something kept whispering to him, angry hisses that said he was a failure as a mate to have abandoned her. He didn’t know how to turn off that feeling, fearing it was all too true.
The strange looks continued wherever he went, Lotor glaring with as much force and animosity as he could muster when his heart was hurting. Eventually he arrived in the ship’s holding area, Lotor stalking on silent feet down the staircase. It wasn’t quiet down where the cells were, he could hear male voices, laughing and taunting, speaking crude things that no good woman would be able to tolerate.
“Leave us alone!” A female’s voice ordered in Basic. She was either very brave, or very foolish to even speak back to the men. They just laughed at her, one suggesting lewdly that she take off her dress and spread her legs. Lotor arrived on the scene in time to see the one known as Romelle looking shocked at the suggestion, her cheeks coloring a bright red color.
He had a moment to think she didn’t blush anywhere as pretty as Allura, and then he was growling to both groups. “And just what is going on here?”
The men, all soldiers by the looks of their uniforms, stiffened in surprise. They hadn’t even been aware of his entrance, so focused on the women inside the cell.
“Prince Lotor, your highness…” One began in Drule, managing not to stammer nervously. “We were just about to begin interrogations.”
“Really?” Lotor arched an eyebrow. “Is that what you’re calling it?” Ordinarily he might be amused at the antics, but now he could barely muster up any emotions that didn’t have to do with his mate.
The soldiers seemed to know they were caught in a lie, muttering sheepishly to him. Lotor snarled, more for show than with any real feeling to it. “I thought I made it clear these women weren’t to be touched under any circumstances?!”
“We weren’t touching them! We just wanted a show…” Lotor wondered if that soldier was stupid for speaking that statement. Clearly his comrades agreed with the prince, for two were suddenly slapping him, hissing at him to be quiet.
“Report to your captain.” Lotor ordered. “Tell him I give him free reign to punish you as he sees fit.”
“Yes, your highness.” Came the murmured answers and then the soldiers were cautiously walking past Lotor. He barely paid them any mind, staring at the women in the cell. Most of them were cowering, standing in the rear, two were even hugging each other for comfort. Only Romelle came to the bars, a glare on her face as she looked at Lotor.
“I suppose you want thanks for that.” She asked gruffly.
“It would be nice.” He admitted.
“Well, you won’t be getting it!” She exclaimed fiercely. “We would never have been put in the position to be hassled if you hadn’t brought us here in the first place!”
He supposed that was true, but Lotor didn’t regret capturing these women. Not when it brought Allura into his life. Another pang of his heart at the thought of his mate’s name, Lotor approaching the cell. “I need you to be honest with me.”
“Honest?” She repeated, then laughed. “Unlike you Drules, we humans are capable of such things.”
He was too concerned with Allura to get properly angry at her tone. Besides he knew the Drule were skilled liars when the need called for it. “I have things I must ask you. Questions that demand answers, truthful ones.”
“I won’t tell you anything that will help you invade Arus!” Romelle told him, blue eyes narrowed into a hateful glare. “No matter what you say or do. So you are really just wasting your time.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Lotor retorted. He knew he could do things to these women, terrible things that would make them break down and say or do anything to get the ordeal to end. But he also knew that would make him horrible in his mate’s eyes, and Lotor didn’t want that.
He opened his mouth to speak, and hesitated, not sure what to say. He should have been demanding information about the town they were from, to better learn it’s weak points. But he couldn’t concentrate on doing anything that would help them with their invasion, Lotor wanting to know everything about Allura.
“What can you tell me about Allura?”
“Allura?” A concerned look, Romelle hissing. “What have you done to her you bastard!? If you’ve harmed her in anyway, I’ll make you pay!”
It was a laughable thought that this woman thought she could do anything to him. Funny as it was, he was annoyed that she would dare suggest he’d harm his mate. “Allura is fine.” A half truth, Lotor knowing she was probably still crying in the bedroom.
“What does that mean?” Romelle asked, and Lotor shrugged.
“Please….Allura. I want to know everything about her.”
“Why? Why would you care? She’s nothing but some girl you kidnapped!” questioned Romelle.
“She matters more than you can imagine.” Lotor retorted. “Please….just answer the question.”
“Why don’t you ask Allura yourself?” Romelle wanted to know, earning another shrug from Lotor. “Please…” She wasn’t talking to him about what he wanted, frustrating him to no end. “Bring me my cousin. She must be so frightened.”
“Cousin?” Lotor studied Romelle anew, noting her eyes seemed the same shade of blue as Allura’s. They were both blonde, though Romelle’s hair was darker than Allura’s golden mane. They had the same cheekbones though, and both seem to favor pink for their clothing.
“Yes. Cousins on her father’s side of the family.”
“Then you should know Allura very well indeed. Please. What does she like? How old is she?”
“It doesn’t matter…” Romelle began, then stepped back when he grabbed the bars of her prison.
“It matters to me.” Lotor said, tone earnest.
“Because…I love her.” Romelle’s eyes widened in shock, and then she was laughing, mean snickers of sound. Lotor waited patiently for her to calm down, then asked, “Why should that be so funny?”
“You just met her! You don’t even know her! How can you say it’s love?!” Romelle exclaimed, waving her hands wildly.
“I know.” Lotor said, voice dripping confidence. “I’ve known since I saw her in the lake.” His fingers tightened around the bars, squeezing them. “It’s driving me insane that all I can do is make her cry. Why are you humans so complicated?! Why can’t I make her happy?!”
“She’ll never be happy with you!” Romelle snapped, and Lotor growled, the sound low and dangerous. She seemed to pale at the sound, but didn’t step back any
“What do you humans do to court each other?” He was desperate, wanting a lesson in human love.
“I couldn’t possible teach you that!” Romelle exclaimed.
“I can imagine what you would use that knowledge for!” Romelle shook her head. “My cousin is innocent. She doesn’t need a nasty old Drule filling her head with false claims of loves. I don’t know why you wouldn’t just take what you want from her and be done with it. It might be less cruel than lying about loving her!”
“It’s not a lie!” Lotor shouted. “I love her with every fiber of my being!” His glare smoldered, Romelle being forced to look away. He glanced at the other women in the cell, and saw no help coming from them either. They were too scared to even look at him.
“Allura tells me there are things that must be done, before a man and woman can be tied together. I want to do those things. I want her to recognize that she’s my wife.”
“Your wife?!” Romelle turned back to him, eyes startled.
“Yes.” He nodded, not feeling like explaining the concept of Drule mates to the blonde.
“She will never be yours!” That earned another growl from Lotor, the Drule squeezing down so hard on the bars he thought he’d be capable of snapping them in two. Romelle turned fearful at that display, but Lotor didn’t relax his hands.
“You’re wrong. I’ll prove it to you.” Lotor told her, and then was jerking away from the cell bars.
“Where are you going?! Leave my cousin alone!” Romelle shouted after him, but he was already stalking away. He almost crashed into a Drule carrying a tray of food for the prisoners, the man having to do a frantic balancing act to keep the plates from falling to the floor.
“Sorry your highness!” The man said in Drule, but Lotor was already rushing past him. He didn’t know where he was going, Lotor almost blind with anger now. He burst onto the main floor the ship, his entrance gaining attention from the people there.
“You!” Lotor pointed in random to a soldier, the man freezing on the spot. He had a deer caught in headlights look to his face, surely wondering what he had done wrong. “I have a job for you.”
“Yes, Prince Lotor?” He failed to keep the nervous edge to his voice from showing.
“I want you to research the humans.” Lotor told him.
“Oh we have plenty of information about them.” The soldier said brightly. “We’ve studied their weaknesses extensively…”
“I don’t need to know about their weaknesses.” Lotor retorted. “I want to know about their court ship rituals.”
“Sire?” The man looked confused. “Am I hearing you right?”
“You are.” A grim nod from Lotor, the prince still scowling. “I want to know everything about it. I want to know the way to winning a human’s heart.” He didn’t care that the soldier was more equipped for fighting than research, Lotor desperate to make progress with Allura. “And I want the first of your reports on my desk within the hour!” Without waiting for a reply, he stalked past the stunned soldier, shooting murderous glares at the rest of the gaping Drules.