In Enemy Territory - Shannon West Page 0,1

been quite a shock to charge valiantly to his rescue and discover he didn’t rescuing at all. Larz had become a man, fully grown, with a mind and an opinion of his own, and he and Mikos had clashed bitterly in a battle over Larz’s choice of mate.

Actually, it had been more like war. Mikos had literally beaten King Janos when they first arrived, and he’d called Larz “foolish” and “deluded” for calling Janos his nobyo. He’d shouted at Larz that he would live to regret the day he met Janos and “allowed” the man to make him his slave. His actions and the harsh words they’d spoken to each other had carved a deep chasm between them, and Blake was afraid it would be hard to overcome. The longer their feud went on, Blake feared, the wider and deeper the separation would become.

“I think I’m detecting a bit of attitude in that remark, but I’ll let it go for now,” Blake said. “I don’t want to argue with you, Miki. I simply want to talk to you about Larz.”

Mikos huffed out a breath and rolled his eyes. “Here we go again.”

“Yes, again. And again and again for as many times as it takes. I want this settled between the two of you.”

“It will be settled as soon as my brother wakes up and realizes what a stupid mistake he’s making and admits he’s been brainwashed by that criminal kidnapper. Then he can put Janos aside or in prison where he belongs, and Larz can come back home where he belongs.”

“You know that’s not going to happen. And might I remind you that we all once thought Ryan was a criminal too. One who tried to kill you and your younger brothers.”

“Yes, and I arrested him and divorced him over it, if you need reminding. I sent him away. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but it was the right thing to do with the information I had at the time. And the only reason I went to get him back was because I learned he was having my child.”

“Well, that’s just bullshit, and you know it.”

Something flared brightly in Mikos’s eyes, but he tightened his lips and lowered his gaze after a moment, still not quite brave enough to show open anger at his omak.

“It’s true that I had been entertaining the idea of going after him for some time anyway,” he said after a moment. “But it was only after a great deal of soul searching and months of misery and worry. You know this, omak. Larz was totally unreasonable, on the other hand. He didn’t even give the decision any thought at all or give us a chance to change his mind. He declared the man to be his nobyo when he was barely old enough to know what that word even meant.”

“He was the same age as you were when you got married. Tygerians seem to know these things fairly quickly and also seem never to change their minds. You certainly never have. Davos tells me it’s a mark of Tygerian superiority, but you can’t just use that theory when it suits your own purposes. Either it’s true or it’s not. Which is it?”

“My situation with my nobyo and Larz’s with Janos are entirely different. Ryan never kidnapped me and kept me away from my family as his slave boy!” He jumped back to his feet and forgot himself so much as to clench his fists and scowl down at Blake. His yelling woke up the baby, who began to fret in his crib.

“Gods, you’re just like your father. You think less of Larz because he ‘allowed’ himself to become Janos’s slave, don’t you?”

“All I know is that I would have found a way to kill myself first.”

“Don’t you dare say that. If Larz had resisted, they might have killed him. As for him killing himself…I can’t even believe you said that.”

Mikos turned a sullen face toward Blake. “Believe it,” he snarled.

“Don’t use that tone with me, young man,” Blake said. “I’m still your omak and the King’s Consort, and for that I believe I deserve your respect, if not your affection!” Blake allowed tears to well up in his eyes. One even trailed down his cheek—he had long ago perfected that particular skill—and Mikos immediately blanched at the sight of it. He immediately knelt down by Blake’s chair, taking his hand in his and turning it over to kiss the palm.