Revealed:Brides of the Kindred(8)

By: Evangeline Anderson

“For the second time,” her mother emphasized, frowning. “And we expect you to be here this time.”

Nadiah’s heart fisted in her chest, but she tried to keep her voice even and light. “Let’s be reasonable about this, Maman, Patro. Times have changed. I don’t want to be bonded to Yo—Y’dex anymore and I’m sure he doesn’t really want to be bonded to me.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” Y’dex smiled at her nastily. “I very much want our bonding to take place, my lovely Nadiah. I am anxiously awaiting it—almost as anxiously as the bonding night that will follow.”

“Never.” Nadiah couldn’t keep the revulsion out of her voice. “I will never give myself to you.”

“Oh, you won’t have to give yourself, my lovely.” Y’dex’s grin turned suddenly malicious and cruel. “I’ll be more than happy to take you.”

“Maman, Patro, do you hear this?” Nadiah appealed to her parents. “Do you hear what he’s saying? He’s planning to rape me. Don’t you care what’s going to happen to me once your precious bonding ceremony is completed?”

Her father looked uncomfortable but her mother merely frowned. “Our law recognizes no such crime after bonding. As your mate, Y’dex may do what he wishes and you must not complain.”

Sophia, who had been standing beside Sylvan and squeezing his hand convulsively, could apparently no longer be silent. “So you’re saying that once they’re married, he can do whatever he wants to her and nobody cares? What’s wrong with you people?”

Nadiah’s mother sniffed. “If it isn’t Sophia Waterhouse from that barbaric little backwater of a planet, Earth. What right have you to judge us, surface dweller?”

Sophia’s cheeks turned pink with anger. “I have every right! You’re forcing Nadiah into a loveless marriage where she’s going to be abused. Now who’s barbaric?”

“Talana…” Sylvan stroked her hair soothingly. “Gently, my darling,” he murmured. “Let me try.” Stepping forward, he nodded at Nadiah’s parents. “Greetings, Zeelah, Grennly.”

Nadiah’s Maman and Patro nodded back genially enough and for a moment Nadiah felt a stab of hope. Maybe they would listen to Sylvan—he was older, an adult in their eyes instead of a naughty, wayward child who had run away from home—which was how they viewed her.

“Nadiah is happy here on the Mother Ship,” Sylvan began, obviously trying to pick his words carefully. “And she’s safe, under my protection. I do not think she wishes to return to Tranq Prime to be bonded. And since the blood bond was made when she was still a child, before she knew her own mind and heart, I think you should cancel the commitment you made on her behalf and let her go.”

“Let her go?” Nadiah’s mother looked horrified. “And dissolve the connection we’ve planned with the Licklow family for years? Lose the status of joining with such a prestigious clan and adding our bloodline to theirs? Never!”

“Besides, Kindred,” Y’dex put in. “You know as well as anyone else you can’t simply cancel a blood bond. It must be challenged and broken.” He raised one nearly-white eyebrow at Nadiah. “Have you found a Kindred champion to challenge me, my lovely one?”

Nadiah hung her head. Goddess, how she wished she could answer that question in the affirmative. But there was no one to help—no one to undertake the burden she’d had thrust upon her at such an early age. She was on her own.

Y’dex laughed hatefully. “I’ll take your silence for a ‘no.’ Not that I’m surprised—why would anyone but me bother with the likes of you? You’re lucky, you know. I could have been blood bonded to any female in our grotto but my parents chose you.”

“Oh yes, I’m so lucky. My whole life is about to be taken from me—I’ll live in bondage to a male I hate just because our parents want to keep our bloodlines pure.” Hot tears of rage and despair were rising in her eyes but Nadiah blinked them back fiercely, not wanting to let him see her cry. “Can’t you…can’t you just let me go?” she asked, trying to make her voice softer. “I don’t want you, Y’dex. And deep down, I don’t think you really want me. Please, go find someone else and let me live my life.”

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