In this scene from Alitus, Tales of the Chosen, the spymaster Alitus visits the Stable, a harem of male pleasure slaves called Jades kept by the Empress, whom he serves.
The night before, a physical altercation with Rudy, one of the Jades, resulted after the Empress suggested Rudy could fill in for Alitus.
Betters -- enhanced humans like Alitus -- are now required to wear a veiled garment, so having the "normal" Rudy replace him set off the temper of the usually placid Alitus.
This moment takes place the next day.
Imperial Palace, the Stable
Alitus presented himself at the Stable groom's office.
Byrin Arual oversaw the literal army of identical androids involved in caring for the Jades. The middle-aged human was handsome enough to be a Jade himself, yet Byrin's relationship with the Empress always seemed professional. She'd never shown the least interest in him.
Byrin welcomed him and gestured to a chair in the small office. "Sit. Great to see you again, Alitus. Is this imperial business?"
"Personal." He started to strip off his gloves, decided against it, and smoothed them back over his fingers. "I came to see Rudolf Brakovsky."
Byrin perched against the edge of the compact desk. Monitors filled the opposite wall, revealing the Jades in various activities. "If this is about the bloody nose from the other night it's my duty to remind you that any provocation between Jades is prohibited. I know you're no longer a Jade." He held up a hand to prevent interruption. "But Rudy is. I don't want to put him in a compromising situation."
"I won't touch him." Alitus crossed his legs. "I owe him an apology."
Byrin studied him a moment, his expression grave. "If you didn't represent Her Majesty the way you do, I wouldn't permit this. Rudy's a good guy."
He resisted the urge to hang his head and instead, met the man's unflinching gaze. "Yes, he is. Which is why this is important."
"I never expected violence from you, Alitus. When you lived in the Stable, you were the one everyone looked up to, even though you were the youngest. From the first day you entered the Stable, they called you 'Mr. Perfect.' When you were out of earshot, of course, but the guys like you despite the fact you were special to Her Majesty."
"I..." Alitus tugged his gloves on a little tighter. Liking him was an after-effect of his pheromones, but Byrin didn't need to know that.
Would Alitus ever have a true friend? One who liked him without being influenced?
Byrin stared as if waiting for a reply.
Alitus cleared his throat. "Thank you. I don't know what to say."
"Hell, man." Byrin threw out his arms. "She created the 'Lover' level so she could put you above the Keepers. No one else has ever been in it. You know how crazy that makes these guys? Yet not one of them would say a single bad thing about you. And that isn't because of the rules here. You know that?"
Alitus lowered his lashes.
"What the hell got into you?"
"I'd rather not discuss it, Byrin." Alitus smoothed the crease in a pant leg. "Consider it a momentary lapse of reason and let it go, please. Her Majesty has. I'm here to ask Rudy for forgiveness. Isn't that enough?"
Byrin glared as if about to argue, but then brushed off his pants, and stood. "All right. Suit yourself. Take it easy while I go find him. At this hour, he's working out." Byrin searched the bank of monitors for a moment before he excused himself and left.
Alitus thrust himself to his feet and paced. He could do this. Get it over with and get back to work. For two days, he'd done nothing but argue with himself about coming here. Time to put it in the past and move on. How could he have doubted Her Majesty's intentions?
She had not chided him. Although she had not told him to apologize, she had to expect it. "Jealousy does not become you, Alitus. You know you have my respect. You know that. I would never dishonor you."
Clasping his hands before his mouth, he tapped them against his lips. He must control himself. He was going to need Rudy's help.
Tales of the Chosen
Pick up Wulf for $0.00 -- This book is permafree on all retailers.
Then pre-order Alitus and Jawk to claim the entire Tales of the Chosen series.
These books are in the same universe as the Antonello Brothers, and Antonello Brothers: Immortal books.
Click the cover for a universal buy link. Click the title for the book page on this website.
JOIN US FOR BOOKHOOKS
Book Hooks is a weekly cooperative meme hosted by Marketing for Romance Writers as part of the MFRW Authors Blog.
It's a chance each week for you the reader to discover current works in progress or previously published books by possibly new-to-you authors.
Thank you for stopping by. Please say hello or leave a note in the comments.