Zadri(Dragons of Preor Book 5)(10)By: Celia Kyle
He would act as if he had not just in case she still lived. He would speak the truth about his battle with Ballakin and then allow her to judge him worthy… or unworthy.
“You did not see your death, Delaney.” Shaa kouva. He once more kept the endearment to himself. He would not push any type of mating with her. He would act as her mate, but he would not presume too much. Not until their connection could be explained.
At least, that was his thought now. He could not make promises for the future.
A single tear trailed down her cheek, glistening droplet leaving a barely there trail. He captured it with his thumb, wiping the stain from first one cheek and then the other. “Do not cry, shaa kouva.” Already he had broken his word. The skies would damn him to the earth for eternity. “I never wish to make you cry. Merely explain.”
Delaney sniffled and wiped her face, rubbing her nose on her forearm. “It’s the baby. It’s turned me into an emotional mess and then I saw…”
Another tear. And then another.
“You saw me battle Ballakin,” he finished for her. There was no denying the truth.
“He was my mate…” she licked her lips, bits of flesh glistening and tempting him. “I think. I felt a little bit of this with him,” she shook her head. “But it doesn’t work that way. Does it?”
No, it did not, and the Knowing at least told him that.
“Ballakin was the third fleet’s Primary Defense Warrior.” A position just beneath the Defense Master—his own. “When Esteemed Warrior Evuklar chose to remain on Earth, Ballakin believed himself to be the fleet’s next Defense Master because he had held the position of Primary Defense Warrior for some time.”
“But he wasn’t.”
Zadri shook his head. “No. He would not have been chosen by Offense Master Rendan. In his anger, he attempted to injure—“
He sighed and nodded. “He attempted to kill Rendan’s mate, Carla. What you… experienced was the fight to rescue Carla. While Rendan caught his mate, I—“
Delaney’s fingers went to her throat, digits skating over her pale skin. “Ripped out his throat.” The words were no more than a harsh rasp, hardly discernable.
“Yes. And I will regret causing you that pain for eternity.” Beyond eternity.
She shook her head. “No, it wasn’t…” She closed her eyes, fingers still rubbing that spot. “He deserved it, didn’t he?”
“Who?” He had learned how to play dumb from Carla—a human—so he did not feel it was dishonorable to do so now.
“Ballakin,” she whispered the name and he heard the edge of disgust in her tone. “I can feel it,” she moved her palm to rest between her breasts. Breasts he did not wish to taste or caress. He refused to acknowledge his lie. “Here. I can feel it here. He was…” she shook her head. “Evil? Hateful? I sensed his feelings and he would have…”
Delaney trembled and gasped before her whole body heaved, a great shake that nearly tore her from his arms. In truth, when she repeated the motion, she did pull free and land on hands and knees on medical’s hard flooring.
“Shaa kouva!” He was still having trouble keeping the simplest of promises.
He dropped to his knees beside her, hands raised, but he didn’t reach for her as he wished. He did not know where to touch her—how to help her. He was useless as she made those gasping, retching sounds.
She heaved once more, back bowing and head hanging low as she spat on the ground. He slowly lowered one hand, running it down her back before gently rubbing circles over her cloth-covered skin. He’d seen a human dam perform a similar ritual when attempting to soothe her young and he wondered if it would help adults as well.
“I’m fine.” She breathed in harsh pants, air heaving in and out of her lungs before she spat again. “I’m fine.”
The second time she spoke, she sounded stronger, as if she didn’t need him any longer. Zadri kept his hand on her regardless. “Just in case” as Carla often said. Until he understood Delaney and her condition better, he would be extra careful. And he would need to do more research on humans. His Delaney seemed… fragile. Much more fragile than the other human-Preor mates.