Light on Her Toes by Camille Anthony

Light on Her Toes by Camille Anthony

Light on Her Toes

by Camille Anthony

Loose Id

Ebook ISBN: 1-59632-058-3

[ Futuristic Romance, MF ]

A fem in pava. A quarm in lust. Dohsan wants D’ari, and D’ari wants Dohsan. One must submit, but neither wants to.

It’s the age old battle between the sexes, with a heated alien twist. When she flowers and his terat soften, they’re playing for keeps and Dohsan just may have to lose to win.

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Prologue


Princess Dohsan ’abret Glenbrevchanka stared off into the distance, scouting for a first glimpse of her brothers’ approaching vehicle, one slim strong hand shading her lime-yellow eyes. No sign, yet, of her brothers’ arrival …

In three directions before her, the starkly beautiful Jakwylla Mountain range stretched as far as the eye could see. Heat waves dancing above ground level caused the scene to ripple and waver, skewed visual judgment, making a true measurement of distances almost impossible.

This high up the barren mountainside scant vegetation grew, but a thousand feet below, lush maroon brush blossomed in the verdant valley and deep hued purple grasses waved under the influence of an ever present breeze.

Dohsan sighed in wondering awe and appreciation. Every day she found new discoveries to marvel over, intriguing facets of her new planetary home. She doubted she would ever grow tired of this fascinating world. It held much she wanted to familiarize herself with, much she wished to explore.

How wildly the temperature fluctuates and changes in this relatively small region, she mused, eyes sweeping the vast expanse. The extreme climatic deviation within such narrow spatial parameters is spectacularly different from anything I’ve ever known on Mars.

A movement out of the corner of her eye distracted her. She glanced up, caught the flutter of wings as a spratot plummeted down to snatch unsuspecting prey. Hand shielding her eyes, she followed the raptor’s upward surge as it arrowed toward the heights, prairie beast tucked close to its lower body.

As she turned, following the aviator’s path, her present home came into view. Attention snagged, arrested by the sheer overwhelming magnitude of the rock-hewn buildings, she stared entranced, a smile widening her generous mouth.

The massive, ancient stone Citadel of the vaShafaran Priestesshood reared above the forbidding mountainous terrain nestled on the highest peak. Hewn from slabs of solid rock — each taller than the height of three qarm — the structures of the final sanctuary of Fem Domination on planet Rb’qarm had survived the corrosion and wear of centuries. Many believed it to be the oldest qarm-made dwelling on the planet.

It was here in the southern province of her sister Nnora’s new homeworld, among fem who honored the ancient ways instilled in her by their traditionalist father, that Dohsan came closest to finding serenity.

Usually, this place bathed her senses in peacefulness and calm. Lately, she’d found no measure of lasting tranquility and she greatly feared the fault lay with her inability to forget the man she’d fallen in love with as an immature ’tweener.

She had pretty much acknowledged she’d never win the heart of the qarm who had claimed her adolescent first love. That knowledge didn’t seem to make a difference to her unruly emotions. Knowing he was no good for her, understanding that their lives traveled along widely differing paths didn’t matter an iota. Despite all her efforts to the contrary, she still ached, still hungered … still lusted after him.

Because of her lingering feelings for him, true peace continued to elude her. Lately, she’d come to the realization it always would. She would never be able to take the irrevocable life vows of the vaShafaran — until and unless she confronted the looming obstacle blocking her path.

Her sister acolytes and the other residents of the Citadel believed she dutifully departed today at her elder sister’s command. In reality, though Nnora had indeed summoned all the Mars Colony fem to her, Dohsan had already made up her mind to withdraw from the vaShafaran retreat — at least, for now.

Refusing to leave the compound without acknowledging her true intentions to the venerated head of her sect, Dohsan had requested an audience with GlenEleth ’abret GlenTamin, ruling mother of the vaShafarans.

How was she to justify her choice to the ancient one when she had yet to find a way to make sense of it herself?

The decision hadn’t been an easy one for her. She’d worried at it — picked at each possibility, each choice as a child picked at a scab, driven to explore the small addictive pain-repeatedly going back over old ground. Should she stay and bond with one of the qarms in the Citadel, knowing she would never love him as she loved the other? Should she leave and find the qarm that plagued her, try to win the mate of her heart, regardless of the incompatibility of lifestyles that separated them? She felt torn and tugged in two different directions. One moment she wished for nothing more than to remain here in the mountains, take as mates the multiple husbands due her rank and rule her household with tolerance and tenderness. The next moment, she

battled the insidious urge, the cycles-long need to rush down the mountainside, jet over to the capital city of Rb’qarm and hogtie a certain arrogant commander.

She longed to bring him home draped over her shoulder. Like a woman of ancient times, she’d lock him away in her private harem and fuck all thoughts of qarm superiority out of his fevered mind.

The dust of an approaching vehicle swirled on the heated air, drawing Dohsan’s attention away from her ongoing internal conflict. Narrowing her eyes, she squinted into the light, glad to identify her elder brother’s Lorme.

Anticipation swirled in the pit of her stomach, threatening to unwind the tight knot of need that had kept her muscles clenched for ages. The boys’ arrival meant her departure crept that much closer.

Very soon, she would come face to face with ’Dari.

At that exciting thought, biting hunger exploded in her pava. She rubbed her thighs together in an effort to ease the sudden need, but slippery juice slicked her mound and ran down her thighs, as her body refused to obey her will.

Fighting for control, Dohsan rode the heated wave until it crested. When it finally receded, she lifted a trembling hand, wiped the sweat from her upper lip and swallowed back a despairing moan.

The onset of her pava cycle had only recently begun and had yet to normalize, surging and waning erratically. During the surges, she suffered from a magnitude of need the likes she’d never encountered, never dreamed possible.

She dreaded the time when her pava would kick in totally. This bad now, what would it be like when she flowered continuously?

The scrabbling of rocks rattling over loose sand tore her mind from her troubles. Twisting in alarm, she dropped into a defensive crouch from sheer force of habit. Even as she tensed, she realized only one person could have approached her solitary retreat without tripping her inner alarms earlier.

Relaxing, Dohsan watched the elderly fem gingerly picking her way toward her rocky alcove. She rushed to offer her hand, helped steady the ancient crone, as she stiffly settled onto the chair-shaped rock hewn by nature over relentless millennia.

She bowed with respect. “Welcome, Mother. Thank you for agreeing to see me.”

A gentle smile crossed the fem’s face. “One does not lightly ignore the request of a ruler’s heir, Dohsan. We are no different here in that respect.”

Dohsan frowned, the old priestess’s words stirring her ire. She fidgeted uneasily, debated blurting out her concerns.

“Mother, I would hope it is my convictions and actions, not my royal status, which gained me acceptance and honors, here.”

A mottled hand waved impatiently, halting her stiff words. Aged eyes shot her a disgruntled look as the old fem shifted into a more comfortable position. “Do not be childish or so quick to take offense, ’abret Glenbrevchanka. Your place among us never rested on your birth, but on your destiny. I have made no secret of the fact I wish you to rule this community after me.”

The Reverend’s revelation didn’t quite come as a shock. As the daughter of a royal line, trained to lead, ruling came naturally. Supremely confident in her abilities, Dohsan didn’t doubt she could carry that load. Her recent decision had changed all that. She felt led to explore a different life path. “I would have been honored to serve in your stead, Mother, however –”

A quieting hand halted her interruption. “Others feel the same as I. You have the makings of a fine leader, Dohsan. You have matured much over the cycles you have been with us.” She sighed. “If only you would consent to take one of our qarm as first-mate. Many fem have approached me with petitions to advance the offer of a lover or mate for your consideration. They would welcome any alliance with you through their sons or brothers.”

“I wish it were so easy. I don’t think I can settle here without first proving to myself that I have tried everything in my power to gain that which I have desired for several cycles.”

“What drives you into the shadows, child of the sun? What has darkened your brightness and dulled your joy?”

Dohsan hesitated, fidgeted nervously under the patient, knowing gaze of her mentor. Of all people, she trusted this fem implicitly, yet she balked at sharing her innermost thoughts. Naturally inclined toward self-sufficiency, she warred with herself over revealing such an intimate glimpse of her pain and hope.

“There is this qarm, Mother … When I am near him, he drives me insane with anger and frustration, yet, once parted from him, my mind cannot cease replaying his image.”

“Come.” The matriarch beckoned, indicated a place at her feet. “Sit and tell me why this should trouble you so much.”

Dohsan plopped down on the warm slab of rock that formed the platform for the rock chair. “I am troubled because I cannot control how I feel.”

“And that bothers you, of course.” The Mother chuckled. Her infectious giggle made her seem eons younger. “You are determined to master your surroundings and it irks you that you cannot even master yourself.”

Dohsan laid her head in the elder’s lap. “My ears echo with every word he has spoken to me. My pava burns and weeps for want of him. He lit these flames in me long ago, even before my pava began. I greatly fear no other qarm can cool them.”

“Ah,” the matriarch nodded sagely, stroking the flame-bright locks of Dohsan’s hair, “the fires of youth, once lit burn hotly. The newness of your pava is taking its toll. Trust me when I say you will eventually come to terms with it. It is not, ’abret Glenbrevchanka, something to be conquered. Rather, it is a glorious flame. Surrender to it, fling yourself into the furnace and be reborn!”

“If only it were so easy –” Dohsan’s teeth worried her bottom lip — “I would have taken a mate and cooled this heat. My mind wants only him. My body melts only for that one, particular qarm.”

GlenEleth tilted her head, wrinkled her brow thoughtfully. “I take it this qarm is resistant to the lifestyle espoused here in our mountain hold.” She gestured toward the compound behind them.

The wide central square had begun to fill with people. Stirred from their caverns, roused from the lazy afternoon doniom, slumberous males herded still-sleepy children toward the public caverns. Fresh springs, sheltered from the high temperatures caused by the dual suns’ rays, lay cool and inviting, awaiting the influx of happy youngsters. The afternoon swimming sessions — one of the new programs Dohsan had instigated since coming here — had gained favor quickly. The children loved exercising in the shadowed depths of the secluded pools instead of under the broiling heat of the afternoon suns.

“That would be an understatement. He is the commander of the Chyya’s guard — personal bodyguard to the queen.”

That information arrested even the Mother for a moment. She straightened in her seat. “I –see.”

“Do you?” Dohsan asked, strangely angry and antsy. She jumped to her feet and paced back and forth. “Then perhaps you could tell me what’s wrong with me. How could I want a qarm so diametrically opposed to what I believe, what I need?”

“Is he worthy? Is he honorable?”

Dohsan didn’t even need to think on her answer. “He is all that and more. Nevertheless, how could I want a male who feels nothing but disdain for me, who still sees me as a pre-pava child? Can you tell me that, Mother? For I cannot for the life of me figure out why I am plagued with such idiocy.”

“Child, the heart loves where it will, and is not subject to reason or logic. It is unruly and wayward, yet have I found that often, the heart sees clearer than do our two eyes. What does your heart tell you, ’abret Glenbrevchanka?”

Dohsan returned and stood at the matriarch’s feet, gazed down at her with lemony eyes wide and a mouth grim and tight. “My heart tells me to take what is mine! To claim and bind the qarm who is my va’pava.”

Chuckles shook the wizened frame of the old fem. “Now, thatis something that can be achieved. Good qarms are few and rare these days. Acquiring a worthy mate is a quest requiring one’s total commitment. Go, then, and obtain your qarm. Fix your mind only on this goal. Your destiny will wait.”

The fierce fem disappeared, leaving behind the youngling hovering on the edge of adulthood. Dohsan mangled her lower lip, uncertain how to ask her next question. Oh, the hell with it!

“What do I do if I cannot convince him to return with me? Which should I give up … my destiny or the qarm?”

The matriarch’s gentle smile stretched her wrinkled face. Her wisdom shone brightly, illuminating her eyes. “Perhaps you will find that the qarm isyour destiny, perhaps not. Seeking, you will find. Finding, you will know.”

“Mother,” she wailed, sounding like any ’tweener. “What kind of answer is that?” “Go, ’abret Glenbrevchanka.” An unsympathetic laugh and an impatient hand shooed her away. “The vaShafaran way is not confined to a place, but is a way of life. We have been here for millennia. We will be here when and if you return. If not, then perhaps it will be time for the headquarters of the discipline to relocate.” “Move, ’abret GlenTamin?” The idea shocked her. The Citadel seemed ageless and timeless … unchangeable. She couldn’t imagine it ever being different.

The matriarch laughed joyously. “Why not? We have not resided in these mountains for all eternity. Stop stalling and go!”

Dohsan bowed in respect before turning and striding away. She’d best hurry. The boys would be here any minute and she still had to finish packing.

She’d never been a neat packer and didn’t plan to change her habits today. Quickly bundling everything up in a haphazard mass, she stuffed it all into her carrier, abandoning what wouldn’t fit.

Done, she placed her hands on the small of her back and stretched her back. Absently rubbing at a tight muscle, she surveyed the stripped room. Her eyes clouded with moisture as she fondly recalled the time she had spent here.

She would miss this place, these people, but her heart drove her relentlessly and would not keep silent. It cried out for its mate, for the only qarm to pierce her thick, self-protective shields. It demanded she claim GanR’dari ’abri GlenglanR’on.

Once, cycles ago, in a moment of adolescent anger, she had arrogantly warned a man she would one day rock his world. The time had come to redeem her promise.

* * * * *

How much longer before we reach Father’s palace?

Dohsan fidgeted in her seat, one foot tapping an impatient tattoo. She leaned forward, twisted her neck for a better view out the Lorme viewing panel and gaped at the scenes flashing by.

GlenFaren, the capitol city of Rb’qarm, teemed with people. To her unease, the majority were large groups of qarm. As the Lorme passed along the fashionable streets, she caught glimpses of suspicious activity in quiet, shadowed corners — saw what looked like gangs of qarm preying on lone fem.

“Stop the Lorme! Back up!” Dohsan thumped the back of Puorgkrow’s seat to get his attention. “There are qarms accosting a fem in that alley back there. Kardenez, pass me my sword!”

Her older brother shook his head. “Puorgkrow, don’t you dare stop,” he snapped when their younger brother started to slow and turn the responsive vehicle.

“But Dohsan said –”

“I don’t care what she said. Yes, she’s the fem here, but she doesn’t know about what’s been happening in the cities. I do not intend to bleed today. Drive on. You know those qarm won’t hurt that fem.”

Heart pounding, Dohsan glared at her brothers. “Are you insane? Has my mother raised cowards? If so, I’ll deal with that disappointment later. For now, I’ve given you an order. Stop the Lorme and give me my weapon.”

Kardenez sighed. “We’re not cowards, nor are we insane. And, no, Dohsan, I won’t pass you your sword. You will only cause someone to be hurt, maybe killed. If that person turns out to be you, I, for one, don’t want to be the one having to report to Mom or Dad.”

“But the fem … those qarm …”

“They are testing her. When they see she is infertile, they will let her go.”

“Leaving her with what damage, what emotional injuries? How can you know what is happening and not do something about it?”

Kardenez sighed, his young face drawn in lines of bitter helplessness. “What would you have us do? We don’t run in the packs. We would never treat a fem like that, but if we interfere, that mob will kill us. After all, we are only two males in competition for the small supply of viable fem. As royals, we have a better chance at actually being able to mate with a flowering fem. That alone — that unfair advantage — would condemn us in the eyes of those desperate, hopeless qarm. They’d gladly eliminate two rivals.”

“This is horrendous. To accost a fem in the public street … bare her tlinis … force teratplay …” She shook her head. “How long has this ‘testing’ been going on? Are Nnora and Dev aware of what goes on in their capital?”

Puorgkrow glanced over his shoulder. The look in his young eyes hurt Dohsan’s heart. No youngling should have such cynicism staring out the windows of his soul. “I am too young to be allowed in the councils, but I’m not too young to see what goes on around me.”

“No, you’re not.” Dohsan murmured agreement with his sentiments. She’d run up against the same age prejudice a few years back. The boy had a valid point. He’d lived through war, had experienced more than the average run of youngling and usually had a firm grasp on current events. “Tell me what’s going on.”

“The city warriors are called out daily to fight the growing gangs. The qarm are growing angrier. Having the colony fem here is worse than having no viable fem at all. At least, when there were none, all the qarm banded together since they were in the same hopeless situation. Then we Colonists came along and suddenly one or two qarm get mates. Now they have fertile fem walking the streets. The qarm can smell them, almost taste them, but they still can’t touch or have. That’s bitter … very bitter.”

“You sound as if you are personally affected by this, Puorgkrow.”

The boy grimaced. “Well, I am! You know, the colony was better than this. On Mars, I had terat-play with loads of fem, whenever I wanted. Here, I can’t even be in the same room with one without a companion. I thought our freedoms were restricted back home, but GlenFaren is sick with violence and no one can risk traveling alone. I wish I was back on Mars.”

“Oh, honey, I promise it will get better. Nnora, Lori and I are working on finding a solution. I swear we’ll find a way to make sure you have a mate.”

Puorgkrow met her eyes in the rearview mirror and nodded. “If anyone can do it, you three will. Just — could you hurry? I’m not getting any younger.”

She laughed, then sobered. “None of us are.”

Dejection swamping her, Dohsan slumped against her seat, leaned her head back and wearily closed her eyes, wondering how in hell they were going to deal with this latest detestable development. She hadto do something, because she could not allow this heinous

behavior to continue.

“What’s that smell?”

Opening her eyes, she saw Kardenez stiffen in the front seat. He glanced back at Dohsan and she saw his eyes widen in alarm. He exchanged a lightning glance with his younger brother.

“Oh, hell, Dohsan, you’re flowering. Quick, Puor, shutter the windows. If anyone catches a whiff of her, they’ll mob the Lorme.”

Puorgkrow hit the buttons that raised the windows, eyes wide and frantic, responding to the panicked note in his brother’s voice. “Yeah, I got you. We’re heading home. Hope nothing gets in my way. I’m not slowing down for anything.”

“What are you guys going on about? My pava just started recently. It’s not stable yet. Usually, it remains dormant unless strong emotion triggers it.”

Kardenez angled his body so he could talk to Dohsan without twisting his neck. “Word to the wise, sister dear — better not risk going out on the streets. Period. When we told you the gangs wouldn’t harm that fem, we didn’t know you’d started flowering. They wouldn’t hurt her because she’s infertile and their terat won’t soften, but, if they find you, they’ll gang rape you; they’ll seat your nipples between each qarm’s usage to keep you generating gift. You wouldn’t survive being taken by that many qarm!”

Ice slid down her spine. Her fear lessoned the sharp sweet tang of her flowering. “Frazing Hell! Has it gotten that bad?”

“Weren’t you listening to what Puorgkrow said? Multiply that by a thousand.”

Heaven above, the situation had worsened much faster than any of them had anticipated. This was probably why Nnora had called an emergency meeting of the Viables, as they called themselves. Their crippled society was barreling toward a mr’nok of immense proportions.

As the Lorme sped through the city, shielded against the bright afternoon light of the twin suns, Dohsan contemplated what more she could do to relieve some of the pressure of this building powder keg.

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