Hassan Al'Abdalha slammed his hands down on the table with annoyance, his eyes blazing with fire at the man sitting across from him. “I can’t believe this. You’re telling me that I have to have a mate? Have you completely lost your mind?”
Shaikh Bogden Dhal Wuher Al'Abdalha's body shook as he chuckled. “You say that like having a mate is an affliction.”
Hassan moved his shoulders in a shrug of anger. “It is.”
Bogden laughed softly. “Look, Hassan, there are certain things you have to understand. Without a mate, you could lose Hassy. And, as the brother of the Shaikh, you have to produce an heir.”
“I have an heir, remember? You do remember your nephew, Hassy, don’t you?” Hassan asked with returning impatience. "You just mentioned him."
Bogden nodded his head. “Yes, I remember Hassy very well. I still have sand in my boots from the last time he stole them if I ever forget.” He chuckled again. “But that’s not the point. What if something happened to him? Who would be your heir then? What if Angus McGuffery gets his way? Who is going to be your heir then?”
"You speak of Hassy like he is disposable," Hassan growled.
“Look, brother, I wouldn’t be saying this if it wasn’t important. You need to have a mate to provide a home for Hassy. You also need to have more children to insure that our line continues. Why do you think that Anjali and I plan to have so many children?”
Hassan snickered. “Because you can't keep your hands off of him.” Hassan could swear that he saw a blush creep up his brother’s face.
“Okay, besides the fact that my mate was not adverse to my affections, a mate would kill two birds with one stone.”
Hassan leaned forward on the bench as anger consumed him. “I don’t want another mate. I had one and we all know what a dismal failure that was. She was miserable. She hated it here. And she did her best to make the rest of us miserable.” Looking his brother, he asked with a grudging voice, “Do you think I want to go through that again?”
Bogden shook his head decisively. “No, I know you don’t want that. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You may find a mate that you can spend the rest of your life with, someone who will make you as happy as Anjali makes me.”
“Okay, maybe you won’t find someone like that. I’m not even sure that angels like Anjali are born more than once in a lifetime. But you could at least find someone that you can have children with. You don’t even have to like her. You just have to have children with her.”
Bogden's eyebrows shot up. "Him?"
Hassan leaned back and fit his fingers together. "If I have to have a mate, at least don't make it another female. I've already been down that road before and it was a very bumpy ride. I'd prefer someone like your mate."
"A brüter contract?"
Hassan nodded again.
"A contract like that is not legal on Katzmann," Bogden said. "You know that."
"It seemed to have worked for you and Anjali."
"True, but Anjali is my mate. That supersedes everything. Besides, I claimed him as my mate in front of pride. Everything that his contract required was something required for me to claim my mate. It worked for us."
"So, find me someone like Anjali." Hassan grimaced. "Just don't expect me to go all warm and fuzzy on him. Once he provides me with a child, he can do what he wants as long as he leaves me alone."
"Done. You get him with child and then go on your merry way. You don’t even have to share a room with him.” Bogden swung his hands around the room. “This place is big enough, after you get him with child, you don’t even have to see him if you don’t want to, and after two or three children, you will have fulfilled your obligation.”
Hassan grabbed a glass of water from the table and leaned back, sipping the clear liquid slowly. He was quiet for several moments before he spoke his voice quiet and resigned, “Just tell me you can find someone that is not hard on the eyes.”
Bogden chuckled slightly. “Yeah, that would help.” He took a long sip of his water before speaking again. “Alright, I will contact Chellak Rai right away. With his connections, he's sure to know someone.” Coming to his feet he patted his bother on the shoulder in a gesture of comfort. “You won’t regret this, Hassan.” Bogden set his glass down on the table and headed off to contact the High Ruler of Katzmann.
Hassan leaned forward and poured himself some more water. Raising his eyes to meet his brother, Urik’s, he asked, “And what do you think of all this?”
Urik plopped down on the bench his brother had been warming seconds before. “Better you than me? I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes? Glad I was born second? Want a bag to put over his head?” Urik was laughing for all he was worth by the time he was done speaking. His merriment swiftly dwindled when Hassan glared at him.
“Okay, okay,” he said, holding up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.” Urik reached for a glass and poured himself some water. “I don’t know. I understand what Bogden wants you to do, but I have to tell you, I would hate the idea of mating someone I don’t like, let alone don’t know. But it would solve a lot of your problems.”
Hassan shrugged his shoulders. “I guess. But I am not looking forward to this. The thought of having another mate again just rolls my stomach. I’ll be lucky if I can even summon up the desire to bed this guy.”
Urik slapped his hand on his thigh as he spoke in a casual, jesting way. “Oh, Hassan, you’re the legend that young boys dream of being. You could summon up the dead as long as there’s a warm body in your bed.” A flash of humor crossed Urik’s face. “Besides, once you get this brüter with child, you can always find a mistress. Bogden did say you didn’t have to share a room with him.”
Hassan took another sip of his water and leaned forward to rest against the tabletop. “You know, you’re right. All I really have to do is accept a contract. That would satisfy Bogden and the courts. I don’t really have to sleep with him.”
Urik shook his head. “Whoa, Hassan, if you don’t sleep with him how will you get him with child?”
Hassan gave Urik a cold calculating smile. “Oh, I’ll accept a contract with whomever Bogden finds. But I’m not going to sleep with him or get him with child. I’m going to find myself a mistress and when all of this stuff with the courts is over, I’ll annul the contract and still have my mistress.”
Urik set his mug down on the table. “But, Hassan, what are you going do about Bogden’s wish for more children to carry on our family line?”
“It’s simple, I’m not going to do anything. You are.”
When Chellak announced that the contract was finalized, Hassan reached over and cupped Rayne's chin tenderly in his hand. Rayne leaned his head back and gazed up into Hassan's eyes. Rayne had apprehension blazing in his soft violet eyes.
Hassan leaned down, his mouth hungrily covering Rayne's. Blood pounded in his brain, leapt from his heart, and made his knees tremble. Had he ever been kissed like that? Had anyone ever tasted so sweet?
Finally, Hassan pulled reluctantly away and held Rayne at arm's length. Grabbing Rayne's arms, he picked the man up and swung him around excitedly. "Now I can show the proper way a mate fulfills his duty."
He chuckled when he felt Rayne tremble against him and quickly hide his face.
Hassan let Rayne's body slide down the front of his body, his face split into a wide grin. "Oh, mayht, the High Ruler knows why we signed the contract."
Rayne glanced quickly to Chellak Rai in confusion"He does?" he asked with in a small voice.
The High Ruler smiled, his cat like features softening as he winked at Rayne then nodded to a small man standing off to one side. "My mate was also from Elquone, Rayne. I imagine Hassan has as much trouble keeping his hands off of you as I have with Demyan."
Rayne quickly turned his head and buried his face in Hassan's chest again. Hassan threw back his head and let out a great bark of laughter. He loved the fact that his mate flushed so easily. It was very cute.
Hassan reached down for Rayne's hand. He pulled Rayne close to his body and walked him out of the room. They had both signed the necessary paperwork and were headed back to Rayne's quarters to pack up his belongings and get them ready for shipment to Hassan's home in the desert.
Saris said that he would make sure that the rest of Rayne’s stuff was sent to Hassan’s home. They had to leave right away and didn’t have time to take a lot of Rayne’s things. Hassan knew Rayne was a little nervous about leaving everything he knew behind and moving to a strange place with a man he had only known for a couple of days. But, Hassan held his contract now, for better or for worse. He wasn't going to give Rayne up.
Rayne unlocked the door to his rooms and walked in, Hassan following behind him. He could see a small smile on Rayne's lips as he ducked his head to keep from hitting it on the top of the doorframe. He knew Rayne found it a bit amusing.
Hassan walked over to Rayne and took his cape from him. He laid it down over the side of the couch and pulled Rayne into his arms. "This has all been rather sudden for you, hasn’t it?" he asked, the smile still on his face.
Rayne, looking startled and confused, continued to stare up at Hassan.
"There is only one way to get that look off your face. Do you know what it is?"
Rayne shook his head in denial.
"When a man is staring at another man like you are staring at me, and his mouth is hanging open, the only way to make him smile is like this." Hassan's large hand took Rayne's face and held it gently. His lips pressed against Rayne's, devouring their softness.
After several seconds Hassan lifted his head to gaze down into Rayne's eyes for a moment. He needed to know that Rayne was onboard for what he planned for the two of them. Lowering his head again, he recaptured Rayne's lips, his kiss more demanding this time.
In one forward motion, Hassan pulled Rayne into his embrace. He could feel the pounding of Rayne's heart. It was exhilarating and scary as hell.