Cubed (eBook) - Kielan #1

$2.99
316 pages | eBook | 6x9"
Date of publication: 02/02/2017
  • ISBN: 978-1-946004-46-8
  • Model: 56925 words

Fireborn Publishing Main Page

Heat Rating: 2 Flames

 

On the Earth colony Kielan in the far future, social standing is based on two things, family affiliation and power. All power is psi. Every individual has between five and forty units of psi power, but on Kielan, soulmates and bond-siblings are a way of life. By the science of matches, power increases geometrically by finding pairs destined to you.

When Balin Night sub Summer, a member of a bond-mated Trio, finds her bond-sister, a classless waif named Riann, she believes she has completed a bond-mated Quartet. To everyone's surprise, Riann is soulmate to the unmated single of their Trio, Lio. They have formed one of the rare Quatrels, and the untrained Riann is their cornerstone.

But there is a secret surrounding Riann. She is a member of one of the four great houses on Kielan and not lowborn as her name would suggest, but how could such a thing occur? It is up to Lio and Talek to solve the mystery of Riann's past and help her find her way as one of the true elite of their world.

CONTENT ADVISORY: This is a re-release title.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Lio sighed and moved to the glass window.

The red-tinted glass was a true luxury on Kielan. Glass was hard to produce here. The red sand lacked something in the molecular composition of Earth sand...or perhaps had something more. Chemistry had never been his favorite subject. It was finer and softer than the rare samples of Earth sand stored in labs and museums.

It was difficult to produce glass that wouldn't shatter at the slightest touch. Glass panes had to be almost an inch thick and coated in an oily chemical bond to weather the elements the way Earth glass did. There would never be glass goblets on Kielan, and few families had the wealth for the panes they could produce. Lio found redglass soothing. He hoped Riann did as well.

He was trying to pamper his mate. He'd ordered Marovan to draw her a hot bath and lay out a spisilk robe for her. While she bathed, he'd replaced the simple foods Talek had initially ordered for Riann with delicacies: cheeses and fruits, spiced eggs, fish, and wine. He determined to seduce her baser senses and let her soul and body follow at their own paces.

His hand fisted in frustration. He had never felt so helpless. Riann was his mate--his gods-ordained and chemical match, the other half of him. Still, she could refuse full interface with him. Few did, but she could. Unless she bound herself to him willingly, it could still all be lost.

"You're upset." Riann's voice was a whisper behind him.

Lio whirled to look at her. Her slight body was wrapped in the green and white spisilk robe--his family's colors. Her hair was smoothed and looked as soft as the robe. She dropped her gaze and blushed, pulling the lapels closer over her chest.

"Don't," he breathed. "Come to the table and eat. You need to eat, Riann." Her hunger was like a knot in his stomach.

She nodded and sank into the chair he offered. She glanced at him and managed a shaky smile as he joined her. "When you said food," she began.

"I know, but I didn't want your first meal in our home to be bread and meat. I wanted--"

"You don't need to try to impress me. It's really not necessary."

Lio sighed. "I wasn't--Maybe, I was trying to impress you, in a way. I wanted to pamper you. Was that wrong of me?"

"No. It isn't wrong." She blinked back tears. "You're kind. It's what you will do. It just isn't necessary."

He smiled at that. "You mean, you don't think I should go to the trouble for you."

Riann swallowed slowly, but she didn't deny what he said.

"Rest assured. You are worth every spiced egg, every slice of transplanted salmon, and every other delicacy on that plate."

She blushed. "Will you join me, at least? This is more--"

She glanced away, but he heard the rest clearly in his mind, as if she'd spoken it aloud for him.

{--than I typically eat in a day.}

Lio's soul cried out at that, and Riann sucked in her breath in embarrassment. It was a large meal, more than he had honestly expected her to eat, but it wasn't excessive for a night of celebration. Was her life really so deprived of the basic necessities of living?

He pushed away the urge to search her mind for the answer. He had already abused her trust by searching once without her permission. He couldn't allow himself to do that again.

Lio filled a metal goblet with sweet berry wine and pressed it into her hand. Then, he filled one for himself. Riann stared at the plate as if she couldn't decide what to try first.

"May I?" Lio asked with a wide smile.

Riann nodded. "Will you join me?" she asked again.

"As you wish." He raised a forkful of salmon to her lips and savored her enjoyment as it washed over him. It was several mouthfuls before he speared a bite of cheese. "Drink some wine to cleanse your pallet," he instructed.

Riann's eyes lit up as she chewed the offered treat. "Real goat's milk cheese? Or is it cow's milk?"

"Cow." He was amazed that she recognized it, but more amazed by her childlike glee. "More?"

"Later. I like cheese. I had it once with my father's family at Autumn-Tide. It's a wonderful dessert."

He smiled indulgently as he stacked several types of fruit on the fork tines and raised it to her lips. If she thought of cheese as a dessert food, she surely had never tasted sweet fruits before. "What about your mother's family?" he asked as she took the food from the fork.

Riann's eyes widened. "Good Lady! Is it always that..." She seemed at a loss for words.

Lio furrowed his brow and tried a bite himself. He laughed. "Marovan is trying to fatten you up. She coated the fruit in sucre. It's good that way, isn't it?"

"Sucre? For a meal?"

He blushed. Cane wouldn't grow on Kielan, and maples only on the highest peaks. Sucre was either from the small crop of maple sap or imported from the nearby planet of Varian. Either way, it was pure luxury and was often kept locked in safes.

"Not usually," he admitted. "More?"

Riann looked at the plate with a deep longing and an equal measure of guilt, probably calculating the cost of the extravagance he was offering. "I..."

"For every bite you take, I'll take one." A smaller one, he decided.

She nodded gratefully and accepted another forkful from him. They ate in silence for several minutes.

"Now tell me about your mother's family," he prodded.

Riann blushed deeply. "I don't know my mother's family. My father was of the opinion that we didn't need them. He wouldn't talk about them."

"Why? Did he say?"

She shook her head. "Not to me, but I heard him talking to my Uncle Tydl once. Her family was higher born than my father's was. They were ashamed that her mate was a Brook. And then she died."

"And your father lost position."

She nodded.

He lifted a spiced egg to her mouth while he considered it. Had her father never searched the higher classes for her mate or bond-sister? Was it because of his low status? Or was it because he would not or could not admit Riann's connection to her mother's family?

"Is there anything you would like brought here?" he asked.

Riann paused, chewing then swallowing a slice of cheese slowly. "Yes. I have pictls of my parents. Anything else ..." She sighed and looked around at her surroundings.

"Wouldn't look like it belonged here?"

"My ring," she said. "I have to get my ring." She looked around frantically. "Where are my clothes?"

Lio's jaw tightened at the memory of handling the threadbare cover she'd come to his home wearing. "I had them burned," he informed her. "Balin has her own clothier coming here tomorrow. Until then, you can wear the robe, or I can get you one of Balin's tunics."

"But...my ring. I have to get it." Her panic was unmistakable.

"If it will put you at ease, Talek and I will retrieve your belongings once you finish eating."

Riann shot a shocked look at him. Her blush spread down her neck and chest, and her sadness was like a knife in his soul. Lio came to kneel next to her, taking her hand in his own. They needed the healing that touch would provide for them, and he sighed in relief when she didn't fight it.

"I know your life embarrasses you, Riann. It needn't. You're my mate. I see nothing in you but the beauty of the other half of my soul. Will you open yourself to me and let me see what you need?"

"You cannot travel to ragt--"

He stilled her with his fingertips to her lips. "Never say the name again. I always felt it was a foul word for people who suffered more than their due. Please, let me do this for you."

She nodded, no doubt feeling his deep need to sever that life for her.

"Will you open yourself to me?" He decided not to shield his need to touch her soul from her. It was selfish, but he wanted her to know how much he anticipated it.

"Yes." The word was halfway between a prayer and an invitation. She touched his cheek and dropped what little shield she was capable of for him.

Lio sought out the information he needed. The mental image of the hovel she called home and her meager belongings, what little she called her own, angered him. He resolved to instruct Balin to order her gowns of spisilk and tunics and trews of the finest Coflax.

He pulled his mind from hers regretfully. He wanted to share her mind fully, to know his mate. Still, he'd promised to seek out only that knowledge, and so he left her. He couldn't force or coerce her into an interface, no matter how much he ached to.

Riann ran her hand over his cheek. "Thank you."

"I gave my word."

"No." She met his gaze and smiled. "For seeing me and not--"

"I will always see you."

****

Talek squared his shoulders, following Lio down the narrow dirt alley. Lords didn't come to this area. It simply wasn't done, but Lio wouldn't permit Riann to set foot here again.

Talek glanced at a child; she darted behind a rusted door as if he meant to harm her. You're sure this is right?

Lio bristled, then smiled. /She opened for me. I know./

She gave you access? Talek was impressed. He hadn't anticipated Riann trusting Lio that much for quite some time.

/Yes, she did. She's beautiful, Talek./ He sobered. /She shouldn't have lived this way./

Lio's pain beat at him, taking Talek's breath away momentarily. You couldn't have stopped it until she was found. You cannot blame yourself.

Lio's anger was fierce. Talek weathered it that time, knowing Lio had to work his way past the anger. He only hoped his bond-brother was shielding it from Riann. Surely he was; if not, Balin would have complained to Talek about Riann's distress by now.

/I don't blame myself. She wasn't born to this. She should have been introduced to Balin long ago--if not me./

Talek found it hard to follow Lio's logic. She's a Brook, Lio.

He tried to reason with him. A Brook wouldn't have been at the same meeting day with a Wood or Night, let alone a Summer. Riann would have been lucky to be introduced as high as a Park and Stone meeting day. Surely, she couldn't have hoped for higher than that.

Lio turned into an even smaller alley, narrow enough that they could brush their fingertips on both walls at the same time. Not that one would want to. The walls were crumbling and caked in a mixture of mud and mold, by the smell of it. This alley was poorly lit when compared to the last, and Talek searched the shadows for possible ambush.

/Her mother was of higher station. Riann doesn't know what family, but I will find out./

Why would Riann not know? Why would her father not have adopted her mother's family name when they mated, if they were of different classes? That was the usual way of things.

/Her mother's family cut her off when she found herself mated to Galen Brook. They refused to acknowledge Pati or her child./

Then how will you learn what family?

Lio scowled as they stopped at a rusted door set into a distressed wooden frame that would offer little or no protection if it was forced in. The white-tex hadn't been painted in years, by the looks of it. The wood beams high on the walls were uncovered and unsealed, half rotted by the nightly rains. The residence was without even the smallest vent opening for added light and air.

Lio slid an old-fashioned key from the pocket of his tunic and unlocked the door. He muscled it open. It gave way with a dangerous sound, a creaking that made Talek wonder if the entire wall might collapse on them, then he stepped inside.

How could Riann manage? Talek sent the thought without considering Lio. He sent his apologies, his cheeks burning, as his bond-brother stiffened.

/She used her telekinesis unless she was too fatigued from work. Then she forced it open like I did--usually in the night rains./

Talek nodded and stepped in behind him, taking in the dingy rooms with a new respect for Riann. There was a minimum of furniture, though there wasn't much space for it either. A scarred table and chair sat near a small cook furnace. The larder door had obviously broken off long ago, and there was little in it--nothing Talek would have classified as life-sustaining food.

The comfort room was open to the main room and cramped. There was no tub--only a tiny shower, basin, and waste unit. A second set of work covers hung on a line over the basin, probably drying as best they could in the humid air after being washed in the basin. Though the space was clean and orderly, it smelled of rust and mold.

The thing that confused him the most was the way the small bed was crammed behind the door.

Lio's gaze followed Talek's, and he nodded. "It's not near the furnace," he agreed. "The roof leaks in the rains. The bed is in the one dry spot."

Talek blanched. He knew the lower classes lacked comforts, but he hadn't known this was their lot. Was this common? "Good Lady."

"At times..." Lio's hand fisted. "At times, she ate her evening meal on the bed to keep dry." His voice cracked in emotion.

Talek rested a hand on his shoulder. It's over, now. Tell me what we came for, and we'll leave.

/In the larder, there's an old grain tin. It has pictls in it. Get it, please./

Talek crossed the room and removed the damp metal box from the shelves with a grimace. He glanced back at Lio in surprise. His bond-brother was using a cooking knife to pry a board from the wall over the bed. When it gave way, he reached inside and pulled something out. He dropped the object in his pocket with barely a glance at it.

"What was that?" Talek asked.

Lio smiled grimly. "My proof of Riann's true station."

"Show me." His interest was piqued.

"In the transport. I'd like to stop at a woodsmith on the way home, if you don't mind."

Talek smiled and patted the grain box. "A replacement?"

Lio laughed. "Am I that easy to anticipate?"

"Only to me. Is there anywhere else you'd like to stop?"

"Not this evening. Another time."

"You want to get back to her."

"Yes, I do."

In the transport, Talek raised an eyebrow at his young bond-brother. Lio sighed and reached into his pocket, drawing out a battered ring. Whatever stone was once seated in it was missing.

"You think this was a family ring once," Talek guessed. "But without the stone, it's useless as a means of finding her family."

"You're wrong. Look at it closer."

Talek took it from him, turning the metal band in his hand. It was tarnished, and he grimaced at the discoloration for a moment. How was he supposed to see anything with--?

"Good Lady! This is silver, Lio. Real Earth silver."

"I know." His smile turned smug.

"But, that means--"

Lio took the ring back and pocketed it. "Four families, Talek. She's from one of the powerful four. I just have to discover which one."

Authors:

Brenna Lyons
About Brenna Lyons:
Fireborn Publishing Main Page

Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: former president of EPIC, author of more than 100 published works, owner of Fireborn Publishing, columnist, special needs teacher, wife, mother...and member in good standing of more than 60 writing advocacy groups.

In her first ten years published in novel-length, she's won 3 EPIC e-Book Awards (out of 15 finalists) and finaled for 3 PEARLS (including one Honorable Mention, second to NY Times Bestseller Angela Knight), 2 CAPAS, and a Dream Realm Award. She's also taken Spinetingler's Book of the Year for 2007.

Brenna writes in 26 established worlds plus stand-alones, poetry, articles and essays. She's a bestseller in indie/e fantasy and horror, straight genre and cross-genres thereof. Brenna has been termed "one of the most deviant erotic minds in the publishing world… not for the weak." (Rachelle for Fallen Angels Reviews) Milieu-heavy dark work is practically Brenna's calling card, with or without the erotic content. She teaches classes in everything from POV studies to advanced editing, networking to marketing. Brenna enjoys hearing from people who read her work and can be reached by e-mail.

Website: http://www.brennalyons.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brenna.lyons

Email: brennalyons4168@live.com

For more information, please visit the author's webpage.

Other books by Brenna Lyons, Brenna Lyons- COVER ARTIST and Kathryn Lively- EDITOR:

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This book was added to our catalog on Saturday 21 January, 2017.

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