The man swung the camera around until she was the focus. She started speaking about women being bartered away, pseudoscience and bullying at its worst.
Crap. This was exactly what he’d hoped to avoid when Kim had walked into the room. Thantos glanced at the security guards and found them all staring back at him stonily. Well, the guards had probably been in on this from the beginning. If they didn’t sympathize with Kim, they’d probably been bribed.
Kerek was whispering into the cell phone he’d purchased a couple of weeks ago. His face was flushed, his eyes glittered dangerously, and the emotions he could feel pouring through their mate bond told Thantos just how angry Kerek really was. “I’ll explain in a second, talan.”
Thank gods for their telepathic bond.
He angled his head so that he was still facing the cameras but was looking at Kim McManus directly. “If you remember correctly,” he said in his clipped, perfect English, “signing the registry is completely voluntary.”
The woman had the nerve to snort at him. Snort. “That was not the original agreement, was it, Ambassador?” she asked. Derision dripped from her voice. God, he felt like he was an inch tall.
She continued without missing a beat. “It was only after Jacy Townsend talked some sense into you all.”
He pursed his lips at the statement. His queen being referred to by her given name grated on his nerves. Humans had a love for titles, especially Americans. Hell, presidents were still addressed as such, even when their time in office was up. Why did they have such difficulty addressing his queen properly?
Before he could respond to any of the accusations Kim was sending his way, Kerek’s voice nudged its way into his brain. “Somehow, that camera has been put on a live feed. The entire world is now watching you.”
Well, this sucked big, hairy sorcan balls. And of course, Kim just had to touch on the one thing that Thantos couldn’t respond to. “We have been manipulated into believing that we are the answer to all their problems, but we have yet to see any proof of their claims.”
A feeling of resignation swept through him, and Thantos knew it was Kerek’s realization that he would have to make his announcement sooner than planned. There was no help for it though. If they didn’t show the humans that they did have the power to save the Helan species, the number of women willing to sign the registry and become mates with Helans might fall drastically.
Kerek rose from his chair and joined Thantos at the podium. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Chief of Communications, Kerek—” It was an improvised title, but it sounded better than Communications Officer Kerek, which was far too militarized for most humans’ comfort. “And he has a press conference scheduled for next week, but since we’ve been transferred to a live feed, he will make his announcement now.”
Much to Thantos’s amusement, Kim blanched and sat down again. Clearly, she hadn’t thought they would pick up on the fact that she had somehow hacked into the signal and forced it to go public, and she was expecting some kind of reprimand. He had to give her credit, though. She could have made a break for it and could have disappeared from the room before he or Kerek had the chance to confront her, but she held her ground.
Smiling charmingly, Kerek looked into the camera and spoke confidently. “I am very happy to announce that I have just recently received word that Her Majesty, High Queen Jacy, is expecting the birth of her first child. The joyous event is expected in approximately thirty Earth weeks. There is finally hope for the Helan people.”
Thantos could practically hear the gasps around the world.
A deep silence settled around the room. Kim jumped to her feet. “One child. How can you expect one child to save the Helan species? And what if the child is a girl? Will she be bartered off to the highest bidding male couple to squeeze out twelve babies for them, too?”
Kerek’s face had grown tight, and Thantos touched his wrist. Kerek was a typical Helan male, unlike Thantos. Kerek was aggressive and protective of those he cared about, and he’d come to like the queen a great deal in the short time they’d known each other. Kerek’s response might be a little harsh if Thantos didn’t calm him down.
Flipping his arm over, Kerek threaded his fingers with Thantos’s and gave them a gentle squeeze. It was then that Thantos realized the underlying emotions and sensations that he should have been aware of all along. Kerek was aroused by the little blonde. The fact that she was challenging him gave Kerek a thrill that he hadn’t felt in a very long time. Instead of feeling jealous by the desire his mate was feeling for this human, he was elated.
“We do not expect our female mates to squeeze out a dozen babies,” Kerek answered, managing to keep a straight face. Thantos was glad Kerek had taken over. He could feel his tongue beginning to glue itself to the roof of his mouth. The desire Kerek was feeling began to pound through Thantos, and it was becoming increasingly harder to stay still.
Kerek was still talking when the doors opened again. Thantos was relieved to see Helan soldiers slipping in, ready to step in if they needed to. Not that Thantos expected there to be violence, but the males would be able to waylay the female he knew would become his mate before she managed to give them the slip.
Lynn, have you met Gerard yet?
Not yet, but after the way he read my excerpt I definitely want to spend a little time with him…and both of you before I have to catch my flight back home.
What a fantastic idea! Gerard was hoping you’d say that. He’s planned a private dinner party as another surprise for you, but before we go I have one more question. What are you working on now?
I’ve been playing with a series idea about a matchmaking service…it’s still in the very early stages but I think it will be quite fun to write, and hopefully more fun to read.