Born of Defiance

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Talyn felt his throat go dry instantly as her wealth of dark brown curls sprang out from the cloth to frame an adorable oval face. She was even more beautiful than she’d been in the pictures he’d seen. And a lot more petite than he’d expected. She barely reached the middle of his chest. While she was athletic in build, her limbs were so thin compared to his, they appeared frail. So much so, he was afraid to touch her lest he accidentally break something. And just like in her photos, her silvery-white eyes gleamed with kindness and warmth.

Biting his lip, he glanced to the guard and broker, wishing they’d leave them alone. But because she was an unwed virgin, there was no chance of that.

“Would you care to sit?” Talyn asked her respectfully.

“Sure. Thank you.”

He pulled a chair out for her. She moved with the fluid grace of a dancer. Her every gesture was a thing of absolute beauty. Sitting across from her, he tried to think of something witty to say.

Nothing came to mind.

Just don’t drool on yourself. That was all he’d need to make her run screaming for the door.

She glanced about nervously before she spoke. “So what exactly are your terms? I know you wrote that my duties would be light, but can you elaborate?”

He felt heat creep over his face as she got right down to business and he cringed at having to explain it in front of witnesses who already knew he was desperate. Otherwise, no male his age would be here, dealing with them. Or be willing to pay the exorbitant fees they demanded.

Because of his lack-Vest, bastard status, they were gouging the shit out of him, and he had no choice except to take it in whatever orifice they dictated. But there was nothing he could do.

Not if he wanted Felicia.

And that he definitely did. She was so much more than he’d ever hoped to find. Honestly, he was still stunned and humbled that she’d agreed to meet with him, given his questionable lineage.

Clearing his throat, he kept his gaze on her sweet face, and forced himself to ignore the condescension and censure of her broker. “I only have two nights a week free. And only for three to four hours each, not counting the hour it takes to get from my barracks to the condo. So you’d only have to be with me three hours at most on those two nights.” Which probably delighted her to no end. Most patrons required a lot more of their companions.

Uncomfortable, Talyn rubbed at his neck. “I… um… I have a curfew to meet so there wouldn’t be any overnight visitations, unless I’m at liberty. Which is just once a year, and only for a week. I’ve already had this year’s liberty so you don’t have to worry about that for another twelve months. Even then, it’s negotiable. I know you’re still at university and need your days free to attend classes, and most nights to study. I’m good with all that.”

Felicia frowned at what he was telling her. Was he serious? This was more than she’d ever dare to dream. “That’s really it?”

He nodded.

She couldn’t quite wrap her head around her good fortune. Something bad had to be wrong with him.

One possible flaw definitely came to mind.

“And how…” She cringed at the thought of what she needed to ask. But she knew from her mother, and other companions and instructors that she had to ask it before she consented to him. It was the primary concern all females in her profession had. One that maimed and killed a good 10 percent of them a year, and it would explain why such an eligible male was here, looking for one of her ilk and not negotiating for a noble wife.

With a deep breath, she forced the embarrassing question out. “How kinky and violent are you during sex?”

He actually turned bright red. “I would never harm a female off a battlefield, and even then, I wouldn’t do so unless she was armed and after me. Nor would I ask you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, in any way. We can leave all the details of that up to you.”


Visibly cringing, he nodded.

She sat forward and tried to figure out if he was lying to her. This was really too good to be true. And it wasn’t uncommon for males to lie to get what they wanted. She knew a number of females who’d gotten themselves into scary situations with males who’d seemed sincere and decent, only to find out, too late, they weren’t. “I honestly have to say that I’m a little confused. If that’s all you want, it would be significantly cheaper for you to visit a house of assignation than contract with me.”

He bristled. “I have more than enough money to pay your contract fees, tuition, and upkeep. Believe me. Your broker has crawled my ass and accounts with a subatomic scope.”

“I didn’t mean to insult you,” she said quickly. “I just don’t understand why you’d ask for so little, given the high cost.” And given how handsome and young he was. To hell with their stringent blood laws. What female wouldn’t do him for free?

Contract or no contract.

This was one male worth a jail sentence.

He glanced to her broker before he spoke. “I want a companion, not a prostitute.”

She was still baffled by this. If that was what he wanted, why not contract for marriage?