He was still gripping her arms, forcing Romelle to stay positioned the way he wanted, the girl up on tip toe and pressed against his chest. Sabbath liked the feel of her there, liked how her soft body felt against his, how easily she fitted in place against him. He liked it so much, he almost didn’t mind the trembles, Romelle shivering violently as she stared up at him, wide eyed with fear.
It was his words that had earned that look in her eyes, his mate not liking the insinuation that soon she would fall in love with him. It left him puzzled, Sabbath fighting to hide it, and wondering why the thought of his love could scare Romelle so. He couldn’t help but wonder if she was like this regardless of who promised to love her, or if it was just him, his mate holding back from him because of his Drule heritage.
Either way, he was determined to find out, to break down her defenses, strip away her shields, and get her over whatever hesitations she had about love. It would take work, but he was willing to put in the effort, knowing he had nothing left to lose. He was risking everything in one last, mad bid to gain her love and devotion, committing what her people would see as a crime against her.
Not the Drule though, if anyone would understand, they would. This need he had, this desperate compulsion to steal her away and keep her with him, make Romelle accept him, it was a need ingrained in all their blood. Sabbath was certain that many other of his people would react in the same manner if presented with a mating that was not complete.
Just like his was not complete, for all the vaunted sex they had had. And he knew now it had just been sex, at least on Romelle’s part, his mate refusing to break past the last barriers of her heart and give herself fully to him. Sabbath himself had given his all to her, laying his heart on the line, and having it trampled. He wondered if Romelle even knew how badly she had hurt him, and if she would be open to taking the steps to mending that pain.
“Not yet?” She managed to stammer out, filling in the silence with her voice. She was still shaking, and her shock gave way to her best, haughty glare, Romelle trying to cow him with her anger. “What do you mean not yet?! You…you’re overconfident! How dare you act as if I am a sure thing?!”
It was clear by her angry exclamation, she wasn’t anywhere near ready, Sabbath keeping his lips pressed against hers, teasing himself with the illusion of a kiss. “Oh but you are anything but that!” He told her, watching as she frowned. “Romelle, if I was sure about your heart’s desire, we wouldn’t even be here right now. We’d have a resolution, one way or another….”
“Fine.” A curt reply, Romelle still frowning. “Then what must we do to get this over with as quick and painless as possible?”
“Oh there will be pain. Of that I can promise you.” Sabbath said, watching the troubled light fill her eyes. “I don’t doubt that to work through our problems, we will have to open up wounds, and do a little bleeding together….”
“I don’t know what you mean….” She began, and he smoothly interrupted her.
“You’re scared Romelle. Scared of me, scared of the Drule, or scared of love. Maybe all three. And when you get scared you get angry and defensive, and try to shut me out. I won’t let you anymore….”
“So you kidnapped me to do therapy?!” She demanded sarcastically, and began squirming against him. Sabbath couldn’t help it, he gasped, liking the feel of her body moving against his. That sound of his made Romelle’s eyes grow huge, her struggles dying down as she came to the realization of just how much he enjoyed her attempts to get away.
Sabbath sighed, already mourning the fact that she was still, even as he put his nose into her unbound hair. He began to take deep breaths of her scent, rubbing his face against the sides of hers. She smelled like flowers, but underneath that smell was the scent of her fear. It spoke to something primal in him, brought out the predator that was inherent in all the Drule. It was a feeling that left him at war with himself, Sabbath both wanting to be hunter and protector to Romelle.
Fighting the urges whispering through him, Sabbath forced Romelle away from him, already missing the feel of her body against his. She blinked startled at him, the princess reaching up to hug her arms over her chest. Sabbath watched her, even as he struggled, even as he wanted to step the last few feet to her, and grab her once more.
He tried to speak, voice containing a growl to it, that made his words harsher than he intended. “Go back to the bedroom Romelle.” He ordered, and she shook her head no.
“Why? What are you intending to do to me there?!”
“Do as I say!” He snapped out with another growl, and she gasped, taking an unwilling step backwards.
“No.” Romelle refused, but it was weak, her arms still hugging herself as though that could protect her from anything he would do. “I will not let you…I will not let you order me around, let you molest me…”
“I don’t need for you to be in the bedroom to molest you right here and now.” Sabbath told her, watching the upset increase in her eyes. “Romelle…the bedroom, now…” He advanced on her a step, and growled out another word. “Now!”
Her brave stance fled in the face of his coming closer, Romelle backing away step by step. It seemed she didn’t trust him enough to turn her back on him, even to travel the few feet to the bedroom. Inside he was frowning, knowing things were bad if there was no trust between him and his mate, but outside he merely stared at her, expression blank.
She remained unnerved, arms lowering, reaching behind her so she could feel along the hallway. She stumbled backwards into the bedroom, and he crowded in after her, kicking the door close behind him. He heard a soft inhale, Romelle letting out a reluctant gasp at that.
“Wh…Whose house is this?” A tremor in her voice, Romelle still staring at him from the center of the room.
“Why does it have to be anyone’s?” He asked, and she pointed in the direction of the desk.
“I’ve seen the pictures….this doesn’t feel like an empty house, it’s too lived in.”
“The people are gone now. Dead.” Sabbath answered, and she paled.
“Did you kill them?”
What must his mate think of him, to assume he would be so cold hearted and callous as to kill a random family. “No.” Sabbath grumbled out loud. “It was not I who killed them.”
“Do you really want to know?” His mate nodded, and he held back a sigh. “The enemy Drule wiped out this village and all who resided here.”
“No…not the….not the one we saw on the monitor?!” She brought a hand to her face, but that didn’t succeed in hiding her dismayed expression. He was already stepping towards her, intent to take her in his arms, and hug her in an attempt to comfort her. Romelle noticed his movement, gasping so loud and moving so fast, she hit the bed, and fell over onto it’s mattress.
Sabbath froze, having to restrain every impulse to follow her down onto the bed, his body yearning to feel her in place beneath him. Romelle lay stunned for an instant, then quickly sat up, shooting him a glare as she backed across the mattress, to where the bed’s edge touched the wall.
He relaxed his muscles, and moved to bring a chair over to the bed. She watched him wordlessly as he sat down on it, Sabbath staring back at her. When it became apparent he wasn’t going to join her in bed, Romelle exhaled, asking a question. “You’re not coming on the bed?”
“No. Not yet anyway.”
“Not yet? What’s that supposed to mean?” Romelle demanded suspiciously.
“It means when the time comes, I will be sleeping with you, and there is nothing you can do to stop that.” Sabbath told her. She narrowed her eyes at him, and he almost laughed, knowing for all the glares she could give him, they wouldn’t stop him from his purpose.
“I won’t have sex with you!” Romelle shouted, and Sabbath gave a graceful shrug.
“That remains to be seen.” He saw her look him over, and he wondered if she took note of his muscles, and the strength of his body. He wondered how she interpreted his words, and if she worried he meant to rape her. She really didn’t understand Drules and their mates if that is what she thought he’d do.
“Why are you doing this to me?!” She suddenly asked, a hint of tears in her voice. He stiffened, knowing he would be unable to bear her tears, watching as Romelle struggled to keep her emotions under control. “Why can’t you leave me alone?!”
“Romelle….it’s been out of my hands since the day I met you.” Sabbath told her.
“Because you think I am your mate?”
“I don’t think, I know. My every sense is attuned to you, my every thought and desire built around you and your happiness.” Replied Sabbath.
“This doesn’t make me happy!” She was almost screaming then, and he found himself on the bed, reaching to touch her. She lashed out with her arm, trying to slap his hands away. He still managed to pull her onto his lap, his hand stroking through her hair, the act keeping him calm though it did nothing to appease Romelle.
“What would make you happy?” he asked, and she let out a great, hiccuping sob.
“To be returned to the castle.”
“Wrong.” He shook his head, still petting her. “Tell me something else….tell me something I can do!”
“You can let me go. You just don’t want to!” Romelle accused.
“At this point it’s beyond my control. I’m incapable of letting you go when we’re barely even started.”
“Started?!” She wrenched herself free of his embrace, scrambling off his lap to hurriedly crawl towards the pillows. She grabbed one, placing it in front of her, and hugging it viciously. “Started what?!”
“Will you tell me about yourself?” Sabbath asked, and saw she was confused by his request. “I’ve heard many things about you from your cousin, but…I would like to get to know you from your perceptions.” She just stared at him, not answering, and he sighed.
“If you don’t want to talk…” Sabbath got off the bed, and retook his seat in the chair. “Then listen.” He settled himself comfortable in his seat, and reached for a piece of wood that lay on the night stand next to the bed. It wasn’t that large a piece, but it was perfect for his intentions, Sabbath needing something in his hands to keep him busy. He knew otherwise he would continue to try and touch her, and right now his touch was the last thing she needed.
He reached into his pocket, pulling out a sharp switch blade. Romelle’s eyes went wide at the sight of it, but she said nothing as he set the blade to wood. He pretended to be totally concentrating on the wood, though he was aware of Romelle in ways her human senses would fail her.
“Doom….” He sighed out his home world’s name, slicing off slivers of the wood. “It’s so different from Arus. Nothing really grows there, certainly not anything as colorful as the flowers of this world. The land…is pretty inhospitable, what little crops we can grow are never enough to feed the vast population. It’s why we began looking elsewhere to help support our people’s way of life.”
He went silent for a moment, just carving away at the wood. “It makes for a hard people, a resilient people. And yet if we have one redeeming quality, it’s our ability to love.” Her eyes had not softened at that, Romelle still clutching at the pillow. “I don’t know why we love the way we do….why it’s tied to our instincts, our genes. But it makes us capable of a love few other races have ever experienced. We love not just with our hearts, but with everything that makes us, us. The love changes us, some would say for the better.”
“I believe it too. I have to, love like that, it’s a good thing.” Continued Sabbath. “It inspires devotion, a loyalty to your mate that goes beyond the loyalty you’d feel to your King and kin. Your mate is put above all others, you’d die to protect her.” He paused, glancing up from the wood carving he was doing. “I know I’ve told you some of this before. Perhaps Prince Lotor and Princess Allura have also told you about Drule mates. I…I don’t just want to repeat myself. I want to tell you everything, about the Drules, but also about myself.”
“Yourself?” It was the first sign of real interest she showed since he started talking, Sabbath allowing himself to nod.
“I wasn’t born the way you might think.” He said, maintaining eye contact with her. “I wasn’t born of a mated pair.” He sighed then, ready to reveal what he saw as an ugly past. “My mother was human, nothing more than a slave, one born for pleasure. My father of course was a Drule, some nameless soldier who bought her affections for a night or two.” He tried not to growl then, Sabbath thinking of what his mother had told him. “She never even knew just which Drule got her pregnant….her master didn’t give her a lot of choice in who she slept with. I was conceived from one of those loveless trysts….a bastard from the day I was born.”
They continued to stare at each, and then Sabbath sighed, returning his attention to the wood carving. He was relieved Romelle hadn’t looked disgusted by what he told her, nor did she show him pity. She seemed to look without judging him, the way a mate should.
“I would have been nothing but a slave if not for how apparent the Drule blood was within me.” Sabbath explained. “Even half breeds born of a slave have rights….though it’s cold comfort when you’re living in what amounts to a brothel, an unwanted mouth for the master to feed. I’m sure the man wished I had died, he could have been spared the expense of clothing and educating me.”
He sighed again, concentrating on the wood, fighting not to let the memories affect him. “He skimped on everything where I was concerned, my schooling third rate at best. It wasn’t until I was much older, of the age when the master could legally take me from my mother, that I began to explore my options.”
“And what did those options lead you to?” Romelle asked, having relaxed enough to lean back against the pillows.
He almost smiled at her interest, but the memories were too serious for that expression. “I continued my schooling, entering into the Drule military. With my education and status, there wasn’t much choice in what type of employment I could get. My only hope for advancement was to become a hero of the military, to move up the ladder and gain status beyond being a soldier.”
“And did you?” She wanted to know, and he shrugged.
“Not as much as I would have liked.” The admittance hurt him to say, Sabbath almost vicious as he attacked the wood with the knife. “The Drule military is composed of hundreds of thousand soldiers, and all are eager to advance their careers. Many don’t make it past the first stage, dying in wars as foot soldiers.”
“But you didn’t.” Romelle noted, and he nodded.
“I was lucky.”
“But…” She offered up a protest, one he dismissed.
“I was. Skill has nothing to do with it, when you’re out on a battlefield, packed like fish in a can, and bombs are dropping down on you every moment of the fight.” Sabbath fought a shudder. “I’ve seen so much death, friends killed, blown apart on the field.”
“I…I’m sorry…” She whispered, and he shook his head.
“Don’t be. It’s not your fault.” Sabbath reassured her. “We soldiers know we could die at any second, many don’t bother to save their money. They feel they have no future. I refused to think like that, I saved my money.” He looked up from the wood carving, locking gazed with her. “I never gave up hope that one day I might meet my mate, and wanted to be able to provide for her. Romelle…” Another slicing of the wood, Sabbath turning it around in his hands. “I know I can’t give you the life you are accustomed to. You’re a princess of Arus, with a kingdom of your own. But I can provide for you, can make sure you live a comfortable life with me. You’d never have to work or go hungry…I’d make sure of it.”
“You…you never thought even one time to live off my family’s money?” A curious Romelle asked, and Sabbath shook his head.
“Not even one time.” She seemed surprised at that, staring at him without saying anything. “Lotor has it easy.” Sabbath said, but there was no envy in his tone. “He’s of the proper status to tie himself to a princess. What chance could a mere soldier such as I have?” He resumed his carving, letting out a troubled sigh. “I don’t know why fate has thrown us together….why it continues to give us obstacles…but I do know I was born to love you.”
“And…and Drules can’t, that is, there is no possibility of there being another woman for you?” Romelle asked.
“No. It’s one mate per Drule. It’s always been that way. You’re locked into love with that one special person, never wanting, never needing another.” Sabbath told her. “It’s comforting, and all consuming, and I know it must seem scary to you humans. But it’s scarier to a Drule to think they would have to live on without their mates.”
“Is that why they die when their mates die?” He nodded at that, and Romelle lowered her eyes, clearly troubled by this aspect of mating.
“Have you ever….been in a relationship with a man?” He wouldn’t ask her if she had been in love before, Sabbath felt confidant she hadn’t. She didn’t look at him, just shrugging her shoulders.
“There may have been some….courting going on.” He fought back his growl of jealousy, slicing off another piece of the wood. “I’m a princess, as well you know. And there has been some interest in marrying me because of my position.”
“For only your position? And none for you?” Sabbath inquired, and she nodded now with a grimace.
“I may not be next in line for the throne, but to marry me would still elevate many a person’s status. It’s all about politics and powers…” She sighed then. “I don’t think they cared much about me.”
“I’m agahst to hear that.” Sabbath grumbled, and she looked up at him.
“Shouldn’t you be glad? That there are no competitors for my heart?”
“Not if they made you feel so bad!” Sabbath exclaimed, and she frowned. “Romelle, they treated you like an object, a thing to gain them power and prestige. I bet they never bothered to get to know the person behind the princess.”
“Aren’t you the same?” She asked. “I mean….you don’t really know me either. You just love me because your instincts tell you too.”
“But I’m trying to get to know you now!” He couldn’t help it, he was growing agitated. “Romelle I…I’m not sure what you believe about the Drule’s and the mating instinct, but it’s real love. It’s a love that helps us to accept everything about the other person, to not judge them. It’s not just about sex and making babies, it’s about finding the other half to your soul! The other half that will complete you and enrich your life!”
He could see she didn’t believe, and yet he felt a part of her wished she could trust in his words. He pocketed the knife, and approached her on the bed, holding out the wood carving to her. She glanced up at him, surprised, and he urged her to take it from him. “I know I won’t be able to give you flowers everyday…” He began, tone a little gruff. “Especially while we are here…it would be too risky to go out that often. But…I can find other ways to bring you joy and gifts.”
She stared down at the carving, her fingers touching the petals of the perfect wooden rose he had made for her. It was a rose in full bloom, and the wood was smoothed down so that no splinters would catch in her skin. “It’s lovely…” Romelle whispered softly.
“I’m good with my hands.” Sabbath stated this as fact, not pride. “There’s more I can do….more I can build for you. Let me try….”
Romelle cradled the rose in her hands, still gazing down at it. He was surprised when a tear drop plopped down on the wooden petals, Sabbath reaching to tenderly stroke her cheek. She didn’t flinch away, nor did she look away from the rose. And yet he felt hope, Sabbath continuing to touch her.