Twixt Twilight and Dawn

BY : Lursa_and_BeTor
Category: 1 through F > Andromeda
Dragon prints: 3804
Disclaimer: I do not own Andromeda, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Title: Twixt Twilight and Dawn (Sequel to Shieldbrothers: Pride of the Kodiak)
Author: Lursa & Be’Tor
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Tyr/Harper
Email: lil_missdangerous@yahoo.com; green_tea37@yahoo.com
Disclaimer: Tribune owns Andromeda and all characters, except original ones.
Summary: Tyr and Harper many years later.
Author's Note: Set after PoTK...Harper has coupled with Cerys and produced two children. The Tyr Twins have grown up and 'settled down'.

The rising sun is warm on his bare shoulders as he jogs lightly along the beach, just out of reach of the gentle waves sliding softly up the white sands. The harsh call of gulls mingles with the sush-sush of the waves, the soft thud of his feet, his guards thudding along at a respectful distance behind and the murmur of their voices into their com links.

Tyr smiles, lifting his face to the warm breeze, breathing in the sharp salt scent of the ocean as he circles around to jog back to his home. The beachfront house that he shares with Harper looks small in the distance, a shimmer of pale wood tucked into the edge of white dunes. He has an easy life now and is able to share that ease with Harper. His smile deepens, remembering the delighted excitement on Harper’s face when the human saw their home for the first time.

Tyr picks up his pace as he heads back. He feels almost young again, running along the edge of the beach, as long as he doesn’t glance over his shoulder at the guards running along behind him. Every new guard that Tamerlane sends seems younger than the last one.

Young. Hmph. Not a term one can apply to him…not anymore. So many years have passed. His children are all grown now with families of their own. Harper and he have only just returned home after the bonding of his only daughter to the First Son of Massai-Seminole Pride. Her mothers were very pleased with the match. Diana and Cerys had spent years grooming the child for this marriage. He is pleased enough with the match which will suit his daughter’s political ambitions but the young Massai is more of a fop than his own brother-in-law Charlemagne. Still if the boy has even half of Charlemagne’s shrewdness, the match will work out well enough and if not...Tyr chuckles. He has no doubt who will be the Alpha in that match if the boy’s mild manner is not mere facade. At least, his sons have chosen well. They had provided him with many strong grandchildren. Pride Kodiak is no longer extinct. It thrives. Tyr had honored the memory of his parents Victoria and Barbarossa.

Too bad Harper’s children have not yet shown any inclination to reproduce and pass on his shield brother’s brilliant genes. Zoë seems to have inherited all of her father’s genius but she isn’t getting any younger despite Harper’s defensive protests that she is still a child and has plenty of time left for the importance task of bearing children. Zoë’s mother who should have had more sense about such things was equally defensive about her daughter’s procrastination. And Rhys…well, the boy seems sharp enough although lacking Harper’s engineering genius, but if Rhys would just apply himself with the right girl, the boy could still pass on Harper’s brilliance. But Rhys had shown no more interest than his sister in providing Harper or their mother with grandchildren.

Tyr inhales deeply and increases his pace still more. The call of the gulls and the lapping of the water against the shore, the refreshing crispness of the salt air all speak to him of his shieldbrother…of Harper. Harper has remained by his side through all these years. Harper will be rising soon and perhaps waiting to share a shower before the morning meal. His cock rises hopefully beneath his navy jogging pants. Tyr spares a glance over his shoulder. His guards are still keeping a respectful distance. He smiles as he hears one of them speak quietly into his communicator indicating that they are about to return home. His pace is not testing any of them, but that is just as well. He doesn’t feel the urge to sprint this morning.

The beach house expands into lavish dimensions, as he gets closer to it. He had tried to convince Tamerlane that he and Harper did not need such lavish accommodations but his youngest son had insisted, citing the need to house what Tamerlane considered adequate numbers of servants and security. The full staff had been irritatingly underfoot in the early years; every time he went into the kitchen to cook, a servant would pop-up, offering to do it for him. Finally he and Harper had grown accustomed to the hovering presence and the staff had learned to be as unobtrusive as ghosts. He had come to like the idea of Harper, safely surrounded by highly trained, armed Nietzscheans who knew exactly what would happen to them if they failed the human. As long as the guards kept their distance…although there had been one or three that…well, he had not liked the intrigued way that they had looked at Harper, the way they seemed to intentionally place themselves in Harper’s path. Those had swiftly found themselves coldly dismissed from his household.

He is willing to tolerate the extra security to keep Harper safe and ease his sons’ minds but the guards can be damned nuisances. He would have much preferred to run completely alone on his beach. Neither he nor Harper could go anywhere without the guards. Of course, that isn’t a bad thing in Harper’s case. Harper, even now, has a way of finding any mischief going on. But in, his case, while he may be a little slower these days but he is still no easy target.

Tyr glances at the ocean, admiring the rich blue; it reminds him of Harper’s eyes. He had personally selected this stretch of beach for their home to cater to Harper’s desire to live near an ocean. He had carefully reviewed the area for a spot where the surf was gentle and easy and not at all suited to surfing. The Little Professor still swam daily in the clear blue water but Harper finally ceased his suicidal hobby after a particularly nasty spill had caused an injury that had the whole family in an uproar. That memory still pierces him to the heart…of Harper lying pale and frighteningly limp in his arms as he carried the human out of the water. The stricken silence on the shore bursting into a cacophony of sound and motion as Rhys and Zoë fought their way through the surf to him. His sons protectively shadowing their siblings more delicate bodies from the rough water as they converged on him and Harper. The mothers snarling instructions at the useless batch of bodyguards as he carried his small shieldbrother to the shore.

His heartbeat speeds up as he sees his shieldbrother waiting on the deck for him. Even after all these years together, he cannot look at Harper without wanting him. Harper is leaning against the doorframe. A dark blue terry cloth robe is wrapped loosely around him, partly baring the pale skin of his chest. The blond hair is lightly frosted with silver and still tousled from sleep. Harper has allowed his unruly hair to grow longer over the years. It suits him. The human cradles a steaming cup of what can only be coffee in both hands. Tyr sprints the last few yards and darts lightly up the steps from the white sands of the beach to the deck just to display subtly for his mate. The human makes him feel as powerful and strong as a youth in his prime.

“Not bad for an old man.” Harper’s gaze lingers on the long dreads, now more silver than black, but arresting still, framing the strong dark angles of Tyr’s face and flowing over wide shoulders heavy with muscle, the delicious contours of muscled chest and narrow waist. His lover only seems to grow more beautiful and virile with the passing years. Harper’s smile deepens as he notices the solid bulge filling the front of Tyr’s exercise pants. He lifts his face for his kiss, holding his coffee cup out of the way.

Tyr pulls his mate to him, sinking luxuriously into the human’s cool mouth for a long kiss. His hips tilt, pressing ardently against his lover. “Who is old, Mr. Harper? Certainly not I.”

“Of course not, what was I thinking? Time stands still for Tyr Anasazi. Come inside.” Harper eases out of the embrace and leads Tyr inside, sliding the door closed as the guards disperse to take up positions outside. The beach run seems to have improved his lover’s mood. Tyr had been decidedly broody lately. “It’s too chilly to eat breakfast on the deck this morning.”

“Shower first.” Tyr traces his fingers down the line of Harper’s throat, smiling knowingly as his fingertips rest lightly over the quick pulse. “Join me?”

“In a minute.” Harper steps back, his blue eyes gleaming with mischief. He lifts his cup. “I want to finish my coffee first.”

“Is that Zoë’s gift?” Tyr inhales, testing the deceptively mellow scent rising from the coffee cup. The scent gave no hint of the appallingly high caffeine content contained by the rich gourmet blend. Both of Harper’s children were addicted to it and had decided to share the stuff with their father when Harper began gripping about his dietary restrictions in general and the Sparky shortfall in particular.

He’d only left Harper alone with Zoë and Rhys for a mere hour while he, Diana, and Charlemagne had a few…words with the boy who was going to be Coupling with his only daughter. Leaving the Harper trio alone had seemed safe enough. After all, his own sons were there to intervene if any…incident occurred. Incidents tended to happen even with one Harper around, when three Harpers were around…well, an intelligent man took precautions. He had returned to the Coupling Chamber to find the Harpers grouped innocuously around the buffet table, sipping coffee with a disturbingly gleeful air. Then his Shield Brother had turned with a delighted smile to tell him about the wonderful new coffee that Zoë and Rhys had discovered.

Harper smiles over the rim of his cup as he savors another sip. “Yep Talerian Blend. Only found on Taleria. Still handpicked in the mountains of the southern continent.”

Tyr chuckles. “Your daughter spoils you.”

“It’s a bribe, and you know it. She’s probably hoping I’ll keep her mother off her back about Coupling with…with…what was the kid’s name?” Harper frowns as he stares up at the ceiling. What the hell was the boys’ name? He just can’t remember. Maybe she’ll dump this kid too. Wouldn’t be the first time that things had gotten that far and his Zoë had taken off. Be a relief if the girl did the same thing this time. What she could possibly see in that vapid boy…what the hell was the kid’s name? Harper sighs, giving his lover an inquiring look.

“I have no idea. I can’t remember the name of the last one she turned down.” Tyr shakes his head in disapproval. The girl should have begun reproducing long ago. She had certainly had plenty of opportunity and been exposed to any number of suitable Alphas. She did not have to go through a Coupling ceremony to reproduce if the idea of making a commitment was holding her back. Only a sanctioned lover was required for that. “She’s not getting any younger.”

“Tyr, she’s still a baby.”

“Your ‘baby’ has a degree in…something or other,” Tyr waves a hand dismissively as he pretends to forget, “and teaches at the All Systems University.”

“Astrophysics with a concentration in SlipStream Dynamics.” Harper beams proudly. He takes another sip of coffee holding the cup between his palms.

“Finish your coffee, little man. But don’t take too long.” Tyr growls softly. His hand slides down his bare stomach to the swell of his cock.

Harper chuckles. He sets the cup on a table and steps closer, cupping his hand over Tyr’s. “Didn’t I just take care of that when you woke up this morning?”

“That was almost two hours ago.” Tyr slides his arms around the human and claims another long, slow kiss.

Harper writhes sensually as the pleasure of Tyr’s touch burns through him. His hands slide up the damp velvet skin to tangle in the long, silver braids. “You, Mr. Anasazi, have a one track mind.”

“And who is to blame for the track my mind takes, Mr. Harper?” Tyr pushes the blue robe back, baring a delectable section of shoulder and throat. His hand lingers over the cool, silken skin.

“You can’t blame me for your Über libido.” Harper snipes playfully, his eyes half closing as the plush heat of Tyr’s hand slides down his chest.

Tyr growls sensually as he bends to nuzzle Harper’s pale throat. His mouth closes over the dataport, making his lover arch urgently against him. “You know how excited I get when you call me that.”

“Über.” Harper murmurs sensually then bites the Nietzschean’s earlobe sharply.

Tyr moans throatily. His hands slid down the human’s back to cup greedily over the muscular curves of Harper’s ass. “I want you, Seamus.”

“I’ll join you soon.” Harper promises with a kiss. He watches with a mysterious smile as Tyr reluctantly releases him and turns to walks toward their suite of rooms.

Harper turns back to the table and opens a drawer. He pulls out a communication orb. He picks up his coffee and settles himself in a white wicker chair, leaning comfortably back against the thick yellow cushions. Harper touches the orb and the shimmering images of his two boys appear above it. Bellerophon and Chimaera are adult men in their prime now, strong and confident. They smile warmly at him.

“Harper! It’s been too long.” Bellerophon nods. His dark brown eyes sweep over Harper with concern. “Are you well? How is father?”

Harper leans closer and lowers his voice. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Tell us that what we’ve heard is not true.” Chimaera arches an eyebrow and sighs.

Harper takes a sip of his coffee. He eyes the boys thoughtfully. Have they heard the rumor that he carefully planted to get their attention? “That depends on what you’ve heard.”

Bellerophon frowns in disapproval. “Father is thinking of taking a…job…for an old employer.”

“Ummm…I’m afraid that’s true.” Harper summons up a grave expression.

Chimaera waves a hand dismissively. “Tell him he can’t go. He’s much too old for that sort of thing.”

“I’ve tried.” Harper puts a mournful note in his voice. He lowers his eyes to hide his amusement. He can’t wait to see Tyr’s face when the boys show up and tell him he’s too old to go on an adventure. Mental note to self: Be sure to tell the servants to remove all breakables from the living room. Harper sighs loudly and looks at his boys with an air of helpless resignation. “You know how he gets when he’s set his mind to do something. He refuses to listen to me.”

Chimaera rolls his eyes. His deep voice is sharp with irritation. “What makes him think he can still take a job as an assassin? He doesn’t need the money? He doesn’t have to prove anything. Why is he doing this?”

“I’ve asked. I don’t even think he knows.” Hmm. He was hoping that they wouldn’t ask that. He better cut this short before they think of another awkward question. Harper glances furtively over his shoulder and lowers his voice to a whisper. “He’s coming. I’ve gotta go.”

“Wait, Harper, is there something we can do?” Bellerophon asks, leaning closer. His strong hand reaches out as if to touch Harper’s shoulder.

Harper hides a smile behind his coffee cup. “Do you think you and your brothers could talk to him…in person?”

“Of course.” Bellerophon nods. He trades a determined glance with his brother. “We’ll come as soon as we can.”

Perhaps he ought to add a note of urgency to this or some political thing will come up and the boys will put off visiting them again. He is not having Tyr brooding all over the beach and house because the boys don’t visit often enough to suit him. “That will be great. He’s not telling me how soon he plans to leave.”

Chimaera pushes his long hair over his shoulder. “We’ll notify you when we’ll arrive.”

“No. No need for that.” Harper makes a show of glancing warily over his shoulder again. “I don’t want him to know that I’ve contacted you. A surprise visit might be best.”

“We understand. We’ll see you soon,” Bellerophon promises grimly.

The orb blinks off. Harper picks it up and tucks it away in the drawer again. No need to draw Tyr’s curiosity by leaving it out.


Much later that evening….

“Seeeeaaaamus!” Tyr groans long and low as he collapses, panting raggedly, onto Harper’s chest. His weight presses the human down into the wide bed.

Harper smirks as he runs his fingers through the silver braids, sweeping the hair back from his lover’s dark face. “Yes?”

Tyr nuzzles the human’s damp chest as he gasps. “That was…that was…”

“Stupendous, earth shattering, mesmerizing…pick the adjective of your choice.” Harper fills his hands with the long braids and pulls Tyr down for a long, savoring kiss.

“All of the above.” Tyr looks down into his lover’s face. He strokes back soft, blond hair and drops a kiss on Harper’s forehead. “And before you say it; I already know…The Harper is good.”

“I knew I’d get you trained one day.” Harper chuckles and slides his hands over the hard muscles of Tyr’s back.

Tyr eases gently away and rolls over onto his back, pulling Harper close to cuddle. “You’ve ‘trained’ me, have you?”

“I certainly have.” Harper curves his arm possessively over the dark, damp velvet skin of Tyr’s chest. His fingertip traces the circle of one chocolate nipple.

“I had no idea I was so easily managed.” Tyr whispers against Harper’s dataport. He nibbles teasingly at the sensitive skin then his mouth settles, hot and damp, over it.

Harper shudders, clutching at his lover. Oh, yeah. Oooh, man. Tyr knows how crazy desperate that still makes him. “I never said it was easy.”

“Good.” Tyr licks the vivid passion mark that he just raised on the pale skin of Harper’s throat.

Harper kisses the hard contours of his lover’s chest, pausing to nibble delicately at tight, dusky nipples. “Well, you don’t have to sound so smug.”

Tyr brushes his lips over Harper’s soft locks, cradling the cool, compact body close. “I’m not smug…just confident. Now sleep.”

Harper stifles a yawn, snuggling closer. “Is that an order?”

“Shhhhh.”

Harper presses his face into the curve of Tyr’s throat and shoulder. His eyes flutter closed. Ummm. Tyr is tensing up again. Just when he thought that he had his lover all relaxed and ready for sleep. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. I’m just thinking.” Tyr runs a soothing hand down Harper’s back. He reaches out, pulling the pale blue sheets closer and tucking them around the human.

“About what?”

“Nothing.”

Harper opens his eyes. He presses a soft kiss on Tyr’s shoulder. Is Tyr fretting about the boys again? Feeling old and useless since Tamerlane insisted on parking the two of them in this little beachfront fortress and surrounding them with hyper-protective guards who drive Tyr to snarls and growls? Personally he is perfectly happy to have an easy, relatively safe life and glad to see Tyr well protected from his former enemies and those who want to get at his lover because Tyr is important to Tamerlane. “You’re awfully tense about ‘nothing’.”

“What do you mean?”

Harper strokes a comforting hand over the wide chest, trying to ease the tight muscles. “I can practically hear your muscles screaming from the tension.”

“Don’t exaggerate.” Tyr drops a kiss on Harper’s shoulder.

“And you get lumpy when you’re tense.”

Tyr stirs pushing the sheet down. “Perhaps I should go into the living area so I won’t disturb your sleep cycle.”

Harper tightens his grip, silently urging his lover to stay. “No. Just think quietly, okay?”

“As you wish.”

“What’s the problem?” Harper asks softly. Will Tyr admit to missing his busy sons? The boys are grown with their own lives and families to raise and then there are the demanding positions of responsibility in Tamerlane’s government. He knows this. He knows that Tyr knows it but the boys could visit a little more often. It has been awhile since their last visit. He wouldn’t mind seeing the boys more often either. A sly smile curves Harper’s lips. Well, they will be getting a visit shortly.

“It’s nothing.”

“And I should believe that because….” Harper lifts up on his elbow, looking down into his lover’s face. He traces the lush outlines of those beautiful lips then raises his gaze to meet the clear amber eyes.

Tyr brushes a kiss over Harper’s fingertips. “Because nothing will come of it.”

“Of what?” Harper strokes the line of Tyr’s beard. “They’ll come soon.”

“You’ve been saying that for months but we both know that they don’t have time for two old men.” Tyr admits ruefully. He sighs softly, wistfully.

“Speak for yourself, mister.” Harper nips the full curves of that lush lower lip. His hand glides down to cup knowingly over the swelling cock. “I still feel as studly as when we met.”

Tyr chuckles. His hips arch into the slow intimate caress. “Studly?”

“Yep.” Harper eases lower, lavishing kisses over the strong lines of Tyr’s throat and shoulders. “And so are you my big, bad, Über Luuuuve Machine.”

“Seamus…” There’s a note of warning in Tyr’s voice.

“What?”

“Don’t call me…” Tyr growls as Harper’s cool hand squeezes and strokes his aching cock with exactly the right rhythm. Tyr moves restlessly under the tantalizing touch.

Harper works his way lower, nipping chocolate nipples into tight beads. “What…Über or Luuuuuve Machine?”

“Go to sleep, Little Man.” Tyr groans softly.

“Make me.” Harper shoves the sheet back, baring the rippling muscles of Tyr’s narrow waist. He sucks hotly at the damp, plush skin, tracing the flow and flex of hard muscles tensing beneath his attentions.

“I refuse to lower myself to that level of argument.” Tyr responds breathlessly. His hands close over Harper’s shoulders, urging the human back up.

Harper yields, gliding back up and sliding his body over so that he sprawls across Tyr’s solid frame. His thigh rubs suggestively over the hard cock as he looks down into his lover’s flushed face. “Why not? We’re awake and don’t have anything to do…or would a playful argument interfere with your, oh, so valuable brood time?”

Tyr gives him a stern stare. “Seamus. Go. To. Sleep.”

“Make. Me.” Harper tugs on the long braids and lowers his head to greedily devour Tyr’s mouth. When he finally raises his head a smile is curving those full lips.

“I think I can manage that.” The amber eyes narrow in mock menace.

Harper squirms sensually, wining a gasp from his lover. He smiles tauntingly as the dark, strong hands close possessively over him. “I don’t know. I might be too much for an old fossil like you to handle.”

“Seamus!” Tyr growls.

The next morning before breakfast…

“All you need to do is serve the food and stay out of the way.” The senior chef glares at the tall blond woman as he deftly chops mushrooms and peppers. He won’t mind when this one gets the heave-ho from the little human. She does more flouncing around and flirting with the guards than work. Not that he is going to bother training her since she will be out as soon as the human spots her.

The young woman tosses her long hair over her shoulder. “I don’t see what the problem could be. I’m even going to be nice to the little kludge”

“If you want to keep working here you’re going to have to drop that word from your vocabulary.” The senior chef warns. Not that it’s really going to make any difference unless she uses the word in front of Anasazi then she will be out on the next ship if she’s lucky. The last staff person to use that word got to walk back to the capital. Mr. Harper will dismiss her just for being blond. You would think that since the human was blond himself, he wouldn’t have such an unreasonable dislike of blondes but there it was. No use in trying to keep a blond on staff. Now if the girl was worth anything, he’d suggest she dye her hair a nice brown or perhaps red. Mr. Harper didn’t seem to object to those shades.

“Frankly I don’t see what the fuss is all about. They’re just two old men. What’s the worse that can happen?” She leans against the wall and rolls her eyes. “I’m sure I know how to please a man…even an old one.”

The two sous-chefs chuckle knowingly and shake their heads. One of them, a dark woman with black hair cropped short, puts her hands on her hips and looks the blond up and down. “You just keep thinking that way and you’re going to find yourself on your way back to…which pride did you say you were from?”

“Bengal pride. What do you mean by that?” The girl demands sharply as she pushes away from the wall, stalks over to the cabinet and begins stacking china for the breakfast table.

“Nothing.” The chef cuts off the sous-chef. The girl’s ambitions weren’t unreasonable. No doubt she is thinking that Anasazi is still handsome and virile for an old man and that Anasazi has fathered several children, one of whom is the Progenitor. The girl is probably calculating her chances of bearing a child who will be half-brother to the Progenitor. The chef shakes his head. Such things might happen in some places but not here. “Nothing at all. However, you will do well to remember that you are here as a serving girl first and a guard second. You are not here to provide comfort to the Progenitor’s father.”

“I didn’t think anything of the sort.” The girl tosses her hair and lowers her eyes, hiding the speculative gleam in them. “He’s old enough to be my father anyway. That would just be too strange.”

The chef sighs. Some people simply couldn’t be taught. He’s done wasting his time on the girl. He glances at his crew, gathering their attention. It looks like things are going to heat up around here if the girl has her way. Perhaps a reminder to the rest of the staff is in order. The veteran staffers will know what he means. “Just remember that the Progenitor’s father has a volatile temper. He is an alpha and he is the Progenitor’s father. That alone demands respect.”

“I’ll remember.” The blonde pouts. The rest of the kitchen staff share knowing nods and glances and return to work.

A quartet of guards sits at the kitchen table, talking in soft, excited voices as they finish up their breakfast. Fruit, rolls and omelets rapidly disappear from their plates as they discuss Tamerlane’s forthcoming surprise visit.

“I’ve never actually seen the Progenitor.” A young Jaguar guard with copper skin and long dark hair sips his juice. He flashes a quick smile at the handsome blond girl working with the kitchen crew.

Alexander, one of the veterans, runs a tidying hand through his short gold brown hair. “He looks much like his father. He is not as tall, though. His air is every bit as commanding.”

“The Progenitor’s father is a hard man to please.” The young guard sighs loudly as he stares down at his empty plate.

The veteran guards trade glances, shrugs and lifted eyebrows. They all know that it’s just a matter of time. They hadn’t even bothered to really show the boy the ropes. No point in it. Nope. The first time that Anasazi got a good look at that pretty face, the smooth copper skin and the long, black hair that was it and they all knew it.

Alexander glances sidelong at the boy. The kid is awkward and new but not bad. He even had promise and they all felt that it was too bad that they couldn’t keep him. They had tried keeping the kid out on the perimeter team but it hadn’t worked. A pity really but the kid just couldn’t seem to stay out of Anasazi’s way. Then the boy kept trying to compensate for Anasazi’s growing hostility by sucking up to Mr. Harper…well, in some households, it wouldn’t a bad survival strategy but in this one, once Anasazi sees the kid trying to charm Mr. Harper, well, that will be it for the kid.

One of the others pats the boy on the shoulder. “You’ve only been here a couple of days. Give it time.”

Alexander adds. “The best advice is to stay out of his way. If he does speak to you try to limit yourself to yes and no answers.”

The young guard stares sadly back at them. “I try to please him. I’m extra nice to his human. Yet every time I look up the Progenitor’s father is glaring at me.”

Alexander smirks. Yeah, that’s the kiss of death alright. The only question is how long the kid will last before Anasazi gives him the boot. Probably not long, the way the kid has taken to trotting around after Mr. Harper. The other guards chuckle knowingly. The discussion returns to the upcoming visit and the additional security measures.

A tall Nietzschean with dark chocolate skin tilts his gleaming baldhead, listening. He frowns at the others. “Here he comes. Quiet.”

The guards hastily spring to their feet and fall silent as Tyr strides into the kitchen. Tyr surveys them coolly, suspicious of the sudden quiet after the excited tones that he had heard. “Is there a problem?”

“No, sir.” The bald guard responds crisply as the others glance quickly at him.

“What are you all doing standing around here?” Tyr stalks closer, pacing slowly down the row of guards, pausing at each one in turn. The older guards give him blank face but their scents are excited, nervous and the youngest of group, a handsome, copper skinned boy is openly uneasy under his hard stare. “Don’t you have some place to be?”

“Yes, sir.” The bald guard sweeps a stern stare over his juniors. “We’re about to walk the perimeter.”

“Well…then…go.” Tyr waves a dismissive hand. He waits then arches an eyebrow when no one moves and stalks slowly back down the line of guards, coming to a stop in front of the newest one. This one is barely more than a youngling. He might as well have his grandsons as guards. “What?”

The youngster flinches minutely from the hard amber stare. Color rushes up his copper skin. The large, dark eyes widen in apprehension. “It’s just that…well, sir…”

Tyr snorts. He doesn’t need a guard who is rattled this easily. It’s enough to make him wonder who the boy fucked to get this position. Hmm. The boy rather reminds him of…Tyr’s eyes narrow in disdain as he looks the youngster over, noting the handsome features and long dark hair pulled back…Möbius. He’ll have to do something about that.

Tyr steps closer, almost nose-to-nose with the handsome guard. He will not be kept in the dark in his own household. He is Alpha still. If something is going on, he will know it. He knows Harper is safe; he just left the human, sated and asleep in their bed. Could there be something wrong with one of his sons? Surely they would not dare withhold that information from him. “What is it? Is something wrong?”

“No…sir.”

The bald guard stiffens at the boy’s soft response. A growl escapes him. Tyr turns his head sharply and glowers. He will not have this. He is the head of this household. He is the Alpha here. He glares, growling low and deep. His bone blades flex.

The other guards stare in alarm between Tyr and their leader. Their nostrils flare as they breathe in the rising sharp scents of anger and aggression. The bald guard suddenly drops his gaze to the floor and bows his head, signaling his submission.

Tyr turns back to the handsome guard and growls, staring directly into the guard’s deep brown eyes. “Well, it must be something. Tell me.”

The boy’s gaze flickers nervously. “The Progenitor’s head of security just contacted us. He’s planning to come here tonight.”

“Tamerlane coming here?” Tyr frowns, tilting his head. Why would Tamerlane not tell him? Tamerlane always announced his visits in advance. “He has not informed me of this visit.”

“We don’t know why the Progenitor has decided to change his schedule.” The youngster looks down, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

Alexander murmurs respectfully, “It seems there’s an unexpected gap in his schedule, sir, and the Progenitor decided to come here before returning home.”

Tyr flicks a glance at the older guard then turns his attention back to the handsome youngster. He spends a long moment, looking the guard up and down. “That doesn’t explain why you are so nervous, young one.”

“It’s just that. You don’t like me very much and I was thinking that perhaps this meant you were getting ready to remove me.” The words tumble out in a rush as the boy steps back.

Weak. This one is weak. Not even Beta material. And certainly, not worthy to serve in his household. The boy had to have fucked someone to get here and if that is the case, the boy might well be thinking that if he fucked…someone else, that he might win a permanent place in this house. He is not having this popinjay around Harper. Tyr curls his lips back and snarls. “I would hardly need the backing of my son if I wanted to be rid of the likes of you, boy.”

“Yes, sir.” The young man gulps and takes another step back.

“Now,” Tyr orders sharply. “Find some place else to be.”

“Yes, sir. Right away.” The handsome guard scurries away.

Tyr sweeps a glower over the remaining guards. His amber gaze locks onto the bald guard. “That goes for all of you. Out of my sight!”

Tyr’s stare follows the guards out of the doorway. He pauses to peer at the servants busily cooking and cleaning. Looks like breakfast should be ready soon. He walks across the kitchen and living area to eye the cozy dining area. The small table is set with pale yellow linen napkins and place mats. A crystal bowl in the center of the table is filled with white sand and colorful seashells.

His gaze rises to the windows. He stares absently out at the blue ocean shimmering and glittering under the sunlight. Tamerlane coming here. What could his youngest son want? He has not talked to the boy in months. His duties as head of the Nietzschean prides requires that he spend a lot of time keeping his government going. From all indications he is doing an excellent job. Why come here now? Is there something that he needs from his father? A smile ghosts across his lips at the thought.

Harper walks into the room, buttoning a gauzy white shirt over his indigo blue lounge pants. “Uh, oh. Did I hear you screaming at the help? Are we getting ready to replace some of the security staff again?”

Tyr turns quickly. “Not yet. Although that youngling is becoming most impertinent.”

“Which ‘youngling’ are you talking about, Tyr? They’re all babies compared to you and me.” Harper chuckles as he walks over to stand next to Tyr.

“Tamerlane is coming tonight.”

“Really? What brought this on?” Harper asks blandly. “Is there something wrong?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he needs my advice on some issue.” Tyr’s eyes glitter with excitement. “Perhaps there’s some crisis that requires my particular expertise.”

Uh huh. Better adjourn this little discussion until after breakfast. Harper gently pushes Tyr in the direction of the table. “I’m starving. Breakfast smells good.”

Harper frowns as a young Nietzschean woman with long, blond hair cascading down her back pours juice in the glasses then adds coffee to the coffee cups. Who the hell is that? And how the hell had he missed her? His hand tightens possessively on Tyr’s arm.

Tyr allows Harper to guide him to the table. He sits, his gaze skimming absently over the blond woman before settling on Harper’s face. “He could be coming to ask me to sit on his council.”

“Tyr. We’ve talked about that. You promised you wouldn’t insist on doing that.” Harper sits and reaches for the coffee. His narrowed eyes track the blond slinking back toward the kitchen. Maybe Tyr won’t notice her but why take the chance? He’d seen the way she was looking at Tyr. That one has got to go. And soon.

“Why else would he come? It’s been almost a year since we’ve seen him.” Tyr takes a sip of his tart juice. “The boy needs my advice.”

“Maybe he just misses you.” Harper picks up his napkin and snaps it out sharply as the slinky blond oozes back into the room, carrying a silver tray with his breakfast. Just look at the way she tosses her hair and ogles Tyr! His fingers tighten around his fork as he glowers at her. She gives him an uneasy look as she sets his plate in the center of the yellow linen placemat. That’s right, you better watch yourself. I know what you are up to.

Harper sniffs. The omelet smells wonderful. He lifts his fork to dig in just as Tyr quickly moves the plate away. Harper sighs and tosses his fork down on the table. Not again. Why can’t Tyr just leave the poor cooks alone? But, nooo, at least once a week he insists that however they cook something is all wrong.

“What is this supposed to be?” Tyr curls a disdainful lip as he stares down at the plate.

The slinky blond shifts her tray and smiles winningly. Her voice is soft and throaty. “It’s an omelet.”

Harper scowls at the servant. She definitely has to go. He isn’t having her around Tyr. He holds out an impatient hand for his plate. “Tyr. Don’t start this morning.”

“It most certainly is not an omelet. What are those objects poking out of it? There’s barely any cheese. The kitchen staff has been told repeatedly how to prepare his meals. Take that back and prepare the dish the way he likes it. You do remember your instructions don’t you?” Tyr’s voice deepens menacingly as he hands the plate to the blond.

The blond licks her glossy red lips and looks at him from under her long lashes. “Yes, sir.”

“Tyr.” Harper’s voice is sharp as he reaches for the plate. “I’m starving. I’m sure it’s fine.”

“No, it’s not. Would you allow me to eat something you knew was not prepared to my liking?” Tyr takes Harper’s hand and presses a kiss in the palm.

Harper sighs. There is only one right answer to that question but, damn it, he is hungry. And he is not in the mood to indulge Tyr’s little dominance games with the staff today. Especially not when the staff in question is young, blond and beautiful. And being Nietzschean, Slinky is probably all ready to rut after seeing his Tyr going all Alpha and dominant. Harper jerks his hand back and glowers. “Well….no. But I’m hungry and I don’t really care.”

“Take this back and prepare a suitable dish.” Tyr nods to the girl. She sighs loudly and turns away. Tyr raises his voice, turning his head to watch as the girl sways seductively from the room. “If you think preparing meals is beneath you we can certainly send you on your way.”

Harper glares at his lover. So Tyr has noticed Slinky. Well, she can just forget about it. After all the years that they have spent together, he knows how to get and keep Tyr’s attention. So Tyr wants to play games. Fine. He’ll give Tyr a game for two players, guaranteed to rivet Tyr’s attention to him. Harper leans back in his chair, scowling. When Slinky sashays back in with a plate of steamed and roasted peppers for Tyr’s breakfast, Harper snatches it out of her hand and makes a show of inspecting it. “WELL! We can’t have this, can we? Take this swill back and prepare something more suitable.”

Slinky stares at him with wide, nervous eyes. “Sir?”

“Harper, there is nothing wrong with the food.” Tyr holds his hand out.

Harper shoves his chair back and stands, still holding the plate. “Oh, I think there is.”

Slinky reaches for the plate. “Sir…Mr. Harper, sir. I…I…will take it back and prepare it correctly.”

“Harper, sit. You’re being silly.” Tyr folds his arms over his chest.

“I…I’m being silly?” Harper glares at Tyr. He sidesteps Slinky’s grab for the plate and hurls the dish of steaming peppers at the wall behind Tyr. He watches in satisfaction as those glorious amber eyes fill with heat and the lush lips part as Tyr stares at him. Behind Tyr the brightly colored peppers slide down the wall to drop among the shards of white china. “There now. I think we need a new dish for Mr. Anasazi.”

“Right away, sir.” Slinky hurries out of the room, throwing Harper a shocked stare over her shoulder.

Harper lifts his chin to a defiant angle, noting with smug glee that Tyr’s eyes never leave him. Yes. He is the man. He can still hold his own against armies of slinky blonds. The Harper is good. Harper sinks back into his chair and levels a challenging stare at Tyr.

“Seamus.” Tyr’s voice is husky; his bone blades flutter as he reaches for his angry lover.

Harper turns his head sharply away to stare out the window at the ocean, refusing the proffered caress. Oh, no. Now that he has Tyr’s full attention, he isn’t going to lose it by being easy. “Oh, don’t you ‘Seamus’ me. I’m starving. There was not a fricking thing wrong with the omelet and YOU are behaving like an ass!”

The blond reappears and holds out a plate with a fresh omelet for Tyr to inspect. Tyr barely takes his smoldering gaze from Harper long enough to glance at it. He nods to the blond who deftly places the plate in front of Harper.

“Eat,” Tyr urges softly. He slides into the chair next to Harper, oblivious to the blond strolling back to the kitchen. “The food smells wonderful.”

Harper continues to stare out the window, refusing to look around as warm fingers stroke his nape, drawing enticing patterns and slowly, softly circling his dataport. He forces his mouth into a sulky line and lowers his eyes to hide the responsive thrill tingling down his spine. Ha! So much for Slinky. Who is Tyr looking at now? Not her. “I’m not hungry.”

Tyr kisses the human’s nape. He takes Harper’s fork and sections off a bite of the omelet. He offers the food. “Eat. It looks good. I think cook put crisp bacon in it just like you like. Mushrooms and lots of cheese….”

Harper shivers as the plush lips glide hotly up his throat. He struggles to control his breathing. He mustn’t make Tame-the-Harper too easy a game to win. “I’ll starve first.”

“Please, Seamus.” Tyr pleads, his lips moving seductively against the pale skin. “One bite.”

Harper turns his head, looking into those glorious eyes. He parts his lips and Tyr feeds him the bite of omelet. Harper chews the bite and closes his eyes. Bliss. Just the way he likes it. He opens his eyes and licks his lips slowly while holding Tyr’s darkening gaze.
Tyr forks off another bite of omelet and feeds it to Harper. He takes the napkin from Harper’s lap and blots Harper’s lips. “Good?”

“It’s alright.” Harper keeps his tone carefully indifferent. He glances sidelong at his lover from under his lashes. Maybe he can head off another potential problem while he has Tyr all hot and bothered. No way is he going to allow Tyr to be exposed to all those blonds at the Tamerlane’s court. Tamerlane is almost as bad as Tyr when it comes to blonds. He adds a hint of pout to his lips and allows Tyr to coax him into accepting another bite of the omelet. “Promise you won’t ask Tamerlane about the council.”

Tyr growls hoarsely against the dataport and nips the human’s earlobe. “He’ll bring it up. There’s no other reason for him to be here.”

“Tyr.” Harper warns, arching his throat under the caress. His hand slides up the solidly muscled thigh.

“Alright.” Tyr gasps as the hand moves higher but stops tantalizingly short of his stiff cock. His hips shift encouragingly but the hand is withdrawn. “I won’t ask. But if he brings it up I’ll consider it.”

“I suppose that’s the only promise I’m going to get.” Harper reaches for his fork only to frown as Tyr promptly moves it out of his reach. “Tyr. I can feed myself.”

“I know.” Tyr offers Harper another bite. “I just enjoy feeding you.”

“Why?”

Tyr leans closer and nuzzles Harper’s cheek. “I like watching your mouth when you eat.”

“I know.” Harper smiles seductively. He leans against Tyr, and strokes his hand up his lover’s inner thigh to cover the hard shaft throbbing beneath the navy leathers. “I just wanted to hear you say it.”

Later that day…sunset…

Harper leans back into his low-slung beach chair. The faded turquoise fabric is soft against his bare shoulders. His green and gold Hawaiian shirt flutters over the back of the chair. The sun feels so good, soaking into his bared chest. Harper slants a scowl at the bottle of industrial strength sunblock lying next to his feet. He doesn’t like the feel or smell of the stuff. He much prefers his own lighter sunblock but Tyr had insisted that he bring this stinky, oily stuff out to the beach with him. Sheesh. Fall asleep in the sun once and never hear the end of it. Okay, so he came back in that day all lobster red and, oh, my, the fussing and the roaring and the snarling that had gone on. It was just sunburn for the Divine’s sake and his own fault. There had been no need for Tyr to snarl all up at the guards who had been watching over him. Of course, that one boy really should have known better than to snap back at Tyr that he was a bodyguard not a nanny…it had gotten really ugly after that.

Harper stretches blissfully. He isn’t going to bother with the sunblock. No way is he rubbing that stinky stuff on himself with guests coming soon. He smiles and digs his toes into the warm sand as he watches the sunset spreading over the ocean. He can hear Tyr’s deep voice rumbling from the deck as his lover ‘discusses’ the evening meal with the cook. He had, wisely, removed himself from the house as soon as Tyr began making noises about inspecting the kitchen and planning a suitable menu for his son. Tyr will continue to fuss over this and that for another few minutes.

He hopes that his little ploy to bring the family together doesn’t backfire. At least one son will be on hand to visit with them tonight. Harper shades his eyes with his hand and squints as a small craft roars across the fading sunset and angles around, heading for the landing field.

“Who can that be?” Harper twists around in his chair to look at the lean, handsome guard hovering behind him. The youngster looks quite picturesque, staring up at the sky with his long, black hair drifting in the gentle, salt scented breeze. The dark eyes are narrowed against the setting sun. Hmmm. The boy reminds him of someone. Harper sighs as he studies the boy’s smooth face. Are these guards getting younger and younger or is he really getting old?

The young man murmurs softly into his comlink then turns to face Harper. “The Anasazi twins have arrived, sir.”

Harper smiles, looking up into the handsome face, still trying to remember. Something in the way the boy carries himself reminds him vaguely of…of…oh yes, Möbius. It’s been years since he’s seen the Jaguar assassin. It must be the long, dark hair that reminded him. “Thanks.”

“Allow me to help you, sir.” The young man extends a strong hand and helps Harper to his feet.

He would bet anything that this is the guard that Tyr is so put out with. The young guard is, no doubt, hoping to curry favor with him. The smarter guards had quickly realized that he could lighten Tyr’s darker moods and take the edge off the infamous Anasazi temper. Still the extra boost out of the chair is not unwelcome. His knees no longer find it so easy to spring out of low chairs and charge up a flight of stairs. Harper pats the hard muscles of the young man’s bicep and turns to look up at the house. Tyr is glaring at him from the deck. Uh oh…he’s seen that look before.

“Thank you. I think I can manage fine from here.” Harper drops his hand from the boy’s arm. He picks up his shirt and quickly fastens it over his chest.

“Yes, sir.” The young man steps back and glances up to meet Tyr’s menacing look. He sighs and his shoulders droop. The deep brown eyes are puzzled.

Harper walks across the beach, his feet sinking into the loose warm sand. As he comes to the steps, Tyr moves lithely down to meet him and slide a strong, supportive arm around his waist and ease him back up the stairs. Harper rolls his eyes. Slip and fall on the damn steps one frigging time. Okay, so his knee had swelled up like a melon and turned purple and a physician had been flown in for him. Oh, man, the growling and snarling at the physician for making him cry out; at the guards for being too slow to catch him; at the kitchen staff for trying to feed him dishes that Tyr deemed incorrectly prepared. Still, the strong arm curling protectively around him is rather nice. It won’t hurt anything to humor Tyr and accept the help up the stairs. “What’s the matter now?”

“Are you quite done flirting with the help?” Tyr growls. His arm tightens possessively around the human. He flings another glare over his shoulder at the handsome guard.

“Is that what I was doing?” Harper slides a hand over the hard forearm curved around his waist. His fingers drift lower, gliding tantalizingly close to the bases of the bone blades. Perhaps this will keep Tyr’s mind occupied for most of the evening and he won’t pester Tamerlane about politics.

Tyr growls again softly, nuzzling the blond hair. “You know very well what you were doing.”

“He was just helping me up out of the chair, Tyr. What did you think he was doing?” Harper widens his eyes innocently as he looks up.

“Really. You couldn’t seem to stop touching and stroking him.”

“Is that what I was doing?” Harper shrugs. “I thought I’d come in. Was that Tamerlane’s transport?”

“No. It’s not one of the boys. Perhaps it’s Tamerlane’s security team.”

Harper nods. A mischievous smile edges his lips as Tyr’s arm tightens around him. He looks up, eyes wide and questioning, as Tyr pulls him close. “What?”

“You’re being unusually quiet.” Tyr presses his forehead against Harper’s. “Are you thinking about anything…anyone?”

Harper strokes the thick fall of silver and black braids that rest against the gold silk of the loose, sleeveless tunic covering Tyr’s shoulders. He rubs enticingly against the thickening cock tenting the front of the matching lounge pants. “What are you talking about?”

“The little long-haired youngling. You’re more than twice his age…you do realize that don’t you? Did he have to stand so close? Did he have to keep touching you?” Tyr growls, low and guttural as his hands glide possessively over Harper.

“He was helping me up, Tyr.” Harper nuzzles the plush chocolate skin of Tyr’s bared chest. His tongue circles damply over one dusky nipple. “Jealous are we?”

Tyr draws in a sharp breath at the caress. His eyes half close with pleasure; his hand cups the human’s nape, silently urging Harper on. His gaze falls coldly on the handsome guard who is setting Harper’s folded chair and bottle of sunblock down on the sand next to the deck. Tyr growls as the guard’s glance lingers on Harper before the upstart turns away and walks off. “Of course not. I just don’t want some little upstart trying to…”

“Trying to what?” Harper grins, flashing his dimples. He laughs softly as his fingers toy with Tyr’s long braids. He is amused and flattered that Tyr thinks the youngster has designs on him. He follow Tyr’s menacing stare to the retreating guard. To him the poor kid looks more worried about Tyr’s hostility than fascinated by human wiles. Harper snorts. “Get in my pants? Please tell me it’s not that.”

Tyr looks back down at him. His big hand wraps around the human’s nape, tilting Harper’s head back. Tyr brushes his lips across Harper’s. “You’re still desirable, Harper. And I can smell the young one’s arousal even if you cannot.”

“He was turned on?!” Harper slants an openly intrigued look at the guard patrolling along the beach. He makes a show of sweeping a slowly considering look over the kid. Okay, maybe the boy is curious but even if the kid is interested, there is no contest between the young guard’s fresh handsomeness and Tyr’s mature beauty. How could Tyr think that he would find the boy intriguing compared to the challenge of Tyr’s complex mind and powerful array of allurements? Definitely no contest there. Oh, yeah. He can feel the flex of Tyr’s bone blades stirring against his back. It makes him so hot when Tyr gets all Alpha and possessive. Harper sighs sensually and presses closer against his lover.

Tyr growls against his throat. “Don’t make me hurt the boy, Seamus.”

“I love it when you go all feral and jealous.”

“I’m not jealous.”

“Yeah. You are.” Harper laughs breathlessly as Tyr’s hot mouth glides up his throat. He turns his head, seeking the lush lips.

“I love everything about you.” Tyr promptly takes the offered lips, spreading them wide and filling the human’s cool mouth with the heat of his tongue. His hands spread over the curves of Harper’s ass. He rubs his swollen cock against the human, moaning at the feel of his silk pants gliding over him as he presses ardently against his lover. Both men ignore the soft sush of the glass doors sliding open behind them.

“Oh, for goodness sake, you two!” Bellerophon exclaims as he steps out onto the deck. “Break it up. What if there were young ones present?”

“Bellerophon?” Tyr reluctantly breaks the passionate kiss and releases Harper. His eyes widen with pleased surprise as he looks at his son. “What brings you here?”

“You’re not glad to see me?” Bellerophon grins and pulls Tyr into an affectionate hug.

“Of course I am.” Tyr returns the hug.

Bellerophon turns to greet Harper. “Now, let me greet my other father, sir.”

“Did you get bigger since the last time I saw you?” Harper laughs as he reaches up to pat the neat beard cupping Bellerophon’s jaw. “Is that a beard? You didn’t have that last time.”

Bellerophon steps back. He strokes his fingers thoughtfully over the beard and preens. “My wives like it. My first wife thinks it makes me look…dashing.”

“You look…like your father.” Harper smiles wistfully, his eyes soft and dreamy with memories. Bellerophon does look rather piratical with the white silk flowing over his wide shoulders.

“Are you alone?” Tyr looks over his son’s shoulder through the open door.

Bellerophon shrugs. He raises his voice at the sound of hurried footsteps. “Chimaera is still babying his new ship. You’d think the machine had feelings. It’s all he can talk about.”

“Not all, brother.” Chimaera steps out onto the deck, deliberately jostling his brother as he walks past him to hug Tyr. “Hello father.”

Chimaera pulls Harper into the embrace and smiles fondly down at the human. “Have you shrunk?”

“Don’t make me hurt you.” Harper tugs sharply on one of the long, black dreads falling over Chimaera’s red leather vest and black pants. “Excessive height is overrated.”

“What’s this I hear about a new ship?” Tyr asks as Chimaera releases them and steps back. “What was wrong with the last one?” Had his son wrecked the thing already?

“Nothing. It’s just so small.” Chimaera shrugs and looks sidelong at Bellerophon. His tone is elaborately casual. “I can hardly fit all my sons into it.”

Bellerophon looks up at the sky as if searching for patience. His hands rest on the navy leather pants covering his hips. “His fifth wife just produced another son. My brother won’t let me hear the end of it.”

“Must you two argue about everything?” Tyr laughs. His eyes glow with pride as his gaze rests on his sons. “Between you, you’ve practically repopulated Kodiak pride.”

Chimaera smirks. “But I have eight sons.”

“And four daughters.” Bellerophon adds loudly. “It’s not like your genes only produce males.”

“While my brother…” Chimaera continues in smug tones as if he hasn’t heard his brother’s addition. “…has six daughters and only seven sons.”

“I’m not going to stay here and listen to this.” Harper warns. When the boys went into competitive mode you had to break it up early or it only got worse. They hadn’t been so bad about it as kids but after they had gone on to live with Jaguar Pride…Nietzschean society only encouraged and honed their competitiveness.

Bellerophon sweeps his long braids over his shoulder and runs an idle hand through them. His brown eyes gleam with satisfaction. “You neglect to mention, brother, that of my thirteen children, six were twin births and all of those twins are identical.”

“What are you saying?” Chimaera glowers.

“I’m not saying anything. I’m merely stating statistical fact.” Bellerophon inspects his nails. “All of your children are single births so who is the most potent Anasazi?”

“Guys.” Harper rubs his forehead and sighs. Not the potency contest again. It’s enough to give him the beginnings of a headache. He’d rather listen to Chimaera rhapsodizing over his newest ship.

“Don’t you dare start with that statistical nonsense.” Chimaera narrows his eyes at his brother. “At least all my children are alphas.”

“As are mine!” Bellerophon lifts his chin high and glares back.

“Enough!” Tyr snaps after a quick glance at Harper. He slides an arm over Harper’s shoulders. “Did you two come here to bicker amongst yourselves?”

“No, father.” His sons bow their heads and answer in suddenly meek tones.

“Good.” Tyr studies Bellerophon and then Chimaera. The boys’ faces are blank; their eyes shuttered but their feet shift uneasily as he stares. Why have his sons suddenly decided to descend upon him today after being too busy to visit for months? “Then why are you here?”

The twins glance at each other but are spared having to provide an answer as a large transport roars overhead, flanked by three sleek fighters. The ships disappear in the direction of the landing field.

“Well, I see our little brother has decided to make his entrance.” Bellerophon raises an eyebrow.

Chimaera chuckles softly. “Complete with the usual entourage I’m sure.”

“Let’s go inside.” Harper pats Chimaera’s arm as he walks by him and through the door. “It’s not often that we have all of you together.”

Chimaera follows Harper inside, chatting cheerfully. Tyr and Bellerophon walk behind him, strolling into the living area. Bellerophon pauses, pulling Tyr close and pressing his forehead to his fathers. His dark brown eyes search the clear amber gaze. “You look well, father.”

“It’s good to see you too.” Tyr grips his son’s hard biceps affectionately. He steps back with a warm smile.

A lithe, handsome, blond guard wearing Tamerlane’s colors, steps through the door, sweeping the room with a suspicious glance. He holds the front door open and announces in a loud voice. “The Progenitor, Tamerlane Anasazi, Acknowledged Leader of the United Nietzschean Prides!”

Bellerophon sighs loudly, elaborately. “MUST he always do that before he enters a room?”

Chimaera ignores the blond guard’s shocked look. He pitches his voice to carry through the doorway, “I suppose we should be happy he doesn’t have someone sprinkle ROSE PETALS in his path.”

Tamerlane pauses dramatically in the doorway. “Hmmm, rose petals…an excellent idea, brother.” Tamerlane pretends to consider. His black hair falls in loose waves around his face. The short cut emphasis his large sable eyes, the high cheekbones and the wide, mobile mouth. His skin glows a rich golden brown against his half-fastened cream silk shirt. His dark green leather jacket is undone and loose over his tight leather pants. An emerald stud glitters in one earlobe. He nods once curtly to his staff. “Leave us.”

Tamerlane walks over to greet his father, Nietzschean style with a quick flourish of bone blades then he pulls Tyr into a close embrace. His husky voice is full of affection. “Father. You are looking well. I’m sorry to show up so unexpectedly. Affairs of state, you know.”

“It is good to see you, Tamerlane.” Tyr brushes a kiss over his youngest son’s brow.

Tamerlane steps back, his gaze lingering with concern on his father’s face. He turns to Harper and inclines his head respectfully. “Harper.”

Harper smiles warmly up at the taller man. “Hello, Tamerlane.”

“Well, well, well…If it isn’t the ‘chosen one’ himself.” Chimaera teases as he greets his younger brother with mock elaborate flourish of bone blades. “So good of you to take time out of your busy schedule to join us.”

Tamerlane laughs and hugs his brother. “Chimaera. I understand congratulations are in order. Another son. I know you are pleased.”

“Yes. I was just telling father and Harper.” Chimaera beams, all but glowing with delight.

Bellerophon eases up behind his younger brother and places a muscled forearm over his throat, pulling Tamerlane’s head back against his shoulder. Through the windows, he can see his brother’s watching guards tense and glare. Hands drop to weapons. “Does all of this ‘messiah’ business mean you don’t have to worry about defending yourself? Not much of a warrior are you if you can’t fend off your own brother.”

Tamerlane makes a stand-down signal to his guards and leans back against his brother, apparently completely relaxed. He smiles at his brother. “I’m not trying to fend you off, Bellerophon.”

“You’re looking a little tired. Your wives keeping you up nights?” Chimaera grins, dark eyes dancing with amusement.

“There are other things that I have to worry about, Chimaera,” Tamerlane responds dryly. “My wives are well cared for.”

“Didn’t you just negotiate for your 30th wife, little brother?” Bellerophon asks his smooth voice full of taunt. “How do you manage to service all those women?”

Tamerlane twists suddenly, dumping Bellerophon lightly on the thick blue and yellow rug covering the polished wooden floor. “I manage…big brother.”

Bellerophon laughs and rolls lithely to his feet again.

Tyr sprawls on the blue-gray suede couch, watching his sons thoughtfully. “All right. I’m enjoying having you here but I want to know one thing. What made you all decide to come here…tonight?”

The three young men trade concerned looks. Tamerlane sinks down into the white chair flanking the couch. His wide, dark eyes are wary on his father’s face. “I’ve…we’ve been worried about you, father. I know we don’t get by to visit as often as we’d like but we think of you often.”

Tyr frowns in annoyance. His frown eases as Harper curls up next to him and pats his thigh. “What do you mean you’re ‘worried about’ me? I’m fine. Harper and I are enjoying retirement. I jog every morning, as you well know, under the watchful eye of the guards you hired to protect us.”

Tamerlane stares back, determined. Suddenly he is no longer the teasing brother or concerned son but a head of state. “I’m not having this conversation with you again, father. The guards stay.”

“Are you saying that I am unable to protect Harper and myself?” Tyr narrows his eyes, refusing to show his pride in his son. No one seeing the boy looking like that would doubt who and what Tamerlane is.

“No…that’s not what I’m saying and you know it.”

“What are you saying?” Tyr demands.

“Well…what I mean is…” Tamerlane sighs, morphing disconcertingly back into younger brother as he slants a hopeful look at his older brothers.

“Father, you and Harper are too precious to all of us to allow you to go unprotected. Your grandchildren need to have their grandfather around for years to come. Indulge us in this thing, please.” Chimaera leans forward in his chair. His dark eyes are soft and pleading.

“Very well.” Tyr folds his arms over his chest. “I won’t argue about the guards. But only because the grandchildren will need watching when they come to visit.”

“Thank you, father.” Tamerlane relaxes back against the pale yellow and white cushions.

“So what have you been doing with yourself lately, father?” Bellerophon asks, leaning against the back of Chimaera’s chair. “When are you and Harper going to visit us?”

Harper pats Tyr’s thigh affectionately. “We keep busy. I was keynote speaker at the galactic science conference about new discoveries in artificial intelligence on Terazed a while ago.”

“We visited Atrus.” Tyr adds.

“Yes…that’s right. We only just got back from your sister’s bonding.” Harper eyes Tamerlane and then the twins reproachfully. “She was hoping that at least one of you would attend.”

Chimaera drops his gaze to the floor. He shifts uneasily in his chair. “Tamerlane assigned us a…delicate matter…that we had to take care of for him.”

“What sort of delicate matter?” Harper narrows his eyes. Have his boys fallen into the same dangerous occupation their father had once held; the same role that Möbius held at Charlemagne’s court all those years ago? The boys had given him the impression that they led relatively safe lives, serving Tamerlane as negotiators and dealmakers.

“Nothing you need to worry about, Harper.” Bellerophon adds soothingly but his eyes are watchful and cautious on Harper’s face.

“Don’t patronize me.” Harper scowls. He may be old but he didn’t suddenly turn into an idiot with the passing years. His knees were what he had trouble with not his brain. Didn’t he receive hundreds of invitations each year to come lecture at this university and that; to be the keynote speaker at assorted science conferences? “I won’t have something happening to either of you.”

Chimaera trades a quick glance with Bellerophon. He smiles warmly at Harper. “We are fine. We’re not the boys we were all those years ago.”

Tamerlane is staring at the surfboard mounted on the wall behind the sofa. His eyes are wide and appalled as his gaze drops down to the small human sitting next to his father. His husky voice is stern. “Harper, what is this…thing…doing on the wall? I hope this doesn’t mean that you’re thinking of taking up that suicidal hobby again.”

Harper turns to eye the board with a wistful expression.

Tyr runs an affection hand through the silvery blond hair, responding to the question before Harper does. “No. Harper hasn’t been surfing for a long time. We usually share a swim if the weather’s warm.”

“Still. We need to take special care with Harper. Is the cook preparing nutritious meals for him?” Tamerlane studies Harper’s slender frame with a considering frown as if calculating the human’s exact weight and coming up with numbers that do not please him.

“Stop treating me like I’ll break!” Harper scowls darkly at the three Nietzscheans. Great now, they are all staring at him with speculative expressions. It’s bad enough that Tyr has the guards acting like a stiff breeze might blow him out to sea. He doesn’t need the rest of them to start trying to stuff some highly nutritious and completely tasteless gruel down his throat. At least, he can still sweet talk the cooks into baking the occasional pastry for his pleasure and the guards into smuggling in the odd six pack of Sparky Cola or Neu Bayern Weissbrau.

“You do break, Harper.” Bellerophon’s deep voice echoes the worry reflected in the dark eyes. “We are not having a repeat of that horrible accident.”

Tyr places a warm hand on Harper’s thigh. “He’s been behaving himself. I don’t see anything to worry about.”

“Father, it’s no accident that we came here tonight.” Tamerlane admits, glancing at his brothers.

“I didn’t think so.” Tyr looks from one son to another. He lifts an eyebrow. “So, why did you come?”

Tamerlane catches and holds his father’s gaze. “I suppose there’s no easy way to put this so I’ll just say it. Father, we’re not going to allow you to take this job.”

Ah, the head of state is back in the room. A smile ghosts over Tyr’s full lips. The role looks good on his son, very good, but what is the boy talking about? What job? Harper. Tyr turns looking down at his mate who stares back. The blue eyes are wide and impossibly innocent; the pale face is smooth and guileless. Hmmmm. What has Harper said to his sons to bring them running to his side? “Job?”

Chimaera leans forward. “Father, we know about the assassin’s job you’re considering. Don’t try to deceive us.”

So that is the flag that Harper is waving in front of his sons. His boys have come running to save him from himself, have they? Well, it could have been worse. Much worse, knowing the deliciously duplicitous way that Harper thinks. His body is tightening with excitement. “Assassin’s job?”

Tyr looks from one concerned face to another. The responsive smolder in Harper’s blue eyes tell him that his shield brother caught the betraying throaty note in his voice and knows full well what will happen as soon as the boys are gone.

Chimaera frowns. “Yes.”

“Oh….oh THAT job! What about it?” Tyr sweeps the lot of them with a menacing glower. The faint smirk curving the human’s lips is making him even harder.

“We won’t allow you to take it.” Bellerophon’s big hands close over the back of his brother’s chair. “We’re not going to have you dashing about the galaxy the way you did when you were a mercenary or when you were on Andromeda.”

“You won’t ALLOW me?” Tyr growls softly. “You overstep yourself son. I don’t answer to you…any of you. If I want to take this job I will.”

“So you haven’t accepted it yet.” Tamerlane brightens with relief. “Good. Father, you have to realize that a man your age should not be putting himself into dangerous situations.”

Oh, dear. Bad phrasing. Very bad phrasing. Harper closes his eyes. The fallout from that little phrase was not going to be pretty. Of course, when you were leader of the united Nietzschean prides, you didn’t have to be tactful just very, very smart and sneaky. Oh-ho. Harper’s eyes snap open and he looks closely at Tamerlane, at the set of the wide sensual lips, the glint in the dark eyes. Ah-ha. The choice of phrase was quite deliberate then and intended to set Tyr off on the expected rant.

“A man my age? What do you mean by that?” Tyr demands sharply. “I’m in better shape than most of these children you hired to guard me.”

The glint in Tamerlane’s dark eyes deepens. “What I mean is…You’re much too old to try to dash off on some high adventure.”

“Too. Old.” Tyr’s deep voice is saturated with venomous intensity.

Bellerophon’s hands tighten on the chair back as he braces himself. He shoots Tamerlane an alarmed look.

Chimaera shakes his head and settles back with a resigned air. What could his youngest brother be thinking to come out with a comment like that? He holds up a placating hand. “Father, what Tamerlane meant was…”

Tyr glares at Tamerlane. He rises slowly, drawing himself to his full height. “Who do you think you’re talking to, boy? You must think I’m one of the members of your court. You must think that I only exist to serve your every whim. You couldn’t be more wrong!”

“Oh, shit.” Harper sighs but his eyes crinkle with amusement as he meets Tamerlane’s bland stare.

“I was slave in the mines on Xochital when I was sixteen. Sixteen. What were you doing at sixteen?” Tyr stalks over to Tamerlane, towering over his seated son who looks back at him with an air of polite interest. “I worked deep in the earth, down in the mines under hundreds of meters of soil and rock. Something none of you has ever done or needed to do.”

“Not the slave story.” Bellerophon moans, dropping his head onto his hands. “I hate the slave story.”

“Me too. It never ends. It just keeps going and going and going.” Chimaera whispers.

Harper leans back against the couch to enjoy the show. Clever of Tamerlane but Tyr knows his son and knows that he is being deftly manipulated. This should be as good as a play. Tyr is already on a roll. Ah, Tamerlane has apparently decided that it’s the right time to suck up; he’s now looking up at his father with an expression of growing fascination mingled with just the right touch of contriteness. Very nice. Always very entertaining to watch he and Tyr play off each other.

Should he break this trip down memory lane up? He knows how the twins hate to listen to this particular lecture. Harper glances from Bellerophon to Chimaera. Nah. Serves them right for ignoring their father for so long. Besides Tamerlane had gone to the trouble of setting the situation up as a distraction.

“The work was hard. The rations were nonexistent. Then one day the mine collapsed and instead of giving up and dying with the other dead and dying men around me I remembered who I was…who I am.” Tyr squares his shoulders.

“Uh oh. Here it comes.” Bellerophon sighs without raising his head.

“I am Tyr Anasazi of Kodiak pride out of Victoria by Barbarossa!” Tyr roars. “I clawed my way over the dead and up through 200 meters of earth.”

“Doesn’t that distance keep getting longer and longer? Didn’t it start out being 50 meters?” Chimaera whispers to Bellerophon.

“I existed on seep water and sand rats until for a SEASON! What have you done?” Tyr rests his hands on his hips and spreads a hard glower among his sons.

“Bet those were tasty.” Chimaera mutters but not quite softly enough.

Tyr snaps around with a snarl. “What did you say?”

“Nothing father.” Chimaera bows his head meekly.

“You…all of you exist because I did not give up. I did not surrender. I survived. And you think you can come here…to my house and tell me what I can’t DO!” Tyr turns on his heel and glares at Harper. Then he winks.

Harper takes his cue. He stares earnestly up at his lover. “Tyr. Don’t be so hard on the boys. They are only concerned for your welfare.”

Bellerophon walks over and sets a hand lightly on his father’s shoulder. “Our concern is for Harper as well. What would happen to him if something happened to you, father?”

“You would take care of him.” Tyr glances at his sons. “You would protect him with your life.”

“Yes, I would…we would. But you are Harper’s mate. He needs you here with him.” Bellerophon urges, squeezing his father’s shoulder.

Tamerlane joins his brother. He lightly touches Tyr’s hard bicep. “Harper has been trying to convince you not to go on this foolhardy mission. Listen to your shieldbrother.”

Tyr stares down into the guileless blue depths of Harper’s eyes. His full lips quirk upward in a smile full of private promise. “He never said he didn’t want me to go.”

“Would you have listened if he had?” Chimaera pushes out of his chair. “Did you think about anyone but yourself?”

“Now you’re accusing me of being selfish?” Tyr stiffens.

“No.” Tamerlane insists, throwing Chimaera an annoyed look. “We wouldn’t dream of thinking such a thing.”

“I won’t ever let anything happen to Harper.” Tyr whispers. His gaze holds and locks with the human as he silently renews the promise that he had made so long ago when Harper had been taken from him. Their gaze heats, desire smoldering in their eyes. Tyr’s lips part and his bone blades stir. The sexual energy fairly crackles on the air.

The young men glance at each other as they catch the scent of arousal from their father and his mate. Better break this up before it gets any more embarrassing. Bellerophon glances toward the cozy little breakfast nook where his father and Harper preferred to eat. Servants had been parading quietly back and forth, making adjustments and additions to the table. “Something smells good. I’m starving.”

The tall blond serving girl smiles sways seductively out of the kitchen. She smiles and gestures toward the nook. “Dinner is served.”

Harper stands up and looks from the girl to Tyr. He smiles. The heat filling those amber eyes is all for him. Good. “We won’t have any incidents over the food tonight, will we?”

“I’ll behave.” Tyr promises as he walks beside Harper, leading the way to the dining room. “If cook followed my instructions correctly.”

“I’m sure he did.” Harper glances over his shoulder at the twins. “Your father insisted on having the cook prepare Tamerlane’s favorite dishes. We weren’t expecting the rest of you.”

“Not a problem.” Chimaera claims a chair next to Harper’s place. “I’m sure whatever is served will be excellent.”

“I am certain the food will please.” Tamerlane smiles warmly at Harper. He takes a seat between his father and Bellerophon. “The cook was once my personal chef. I assigned him to father and Harper when we discovered we had to watch Harper’s diet.”

“Thanks so much for making me feel like a pet.” Harper snaps. You would think the man who invented the weapon that destroyed half the Nietzschean fleet at Witch Head would get some respect instead of being discussed over his head like an arthritic poodle.

Tyr strokes the back of his hand over Harper’s cheek. “You know that’s not what he means.”

“So he means I’m an old man and need a diet of oatmeal and prune juice?” Harper glowers at his plate and glass as if he expects to find such offensive substances on them any second.

“Certainly not!” Bellerophon shudders dramatically. “Who would eat that?”

“My point exactly.” Harper grins, flashing his dimples.

“At least you’re eating nutritious food now.” Tyr gives the human’s thigh an approving pat under the table.

Harper looks around as Slinky and another girl begin placing dishes on the table. He frowns as he notes that he isn’t the only one looking. All the Anasazi men are eyeing the Slinky bitch as her boobs threaten to overflow her bodice as she sets plates filled with steamed rice mixed with roasted vegetables in front of each of the Nietzscheans. The brunette behind her neatly ladles sautéed meat and a rich dark sauce over the food. Slinky oozes around the table adding small side dishes of steaming baked tubers and wheat rolls. The blonde girl disappears back into the kitchen for a moment.

Harper looks down at his still empty plate. He sighs. He should never have allowed Tyr to sit in on that last talk with his physician. All the man had said was that he needed to be a little more careful about his diet. The next thing he knows Tyr is trying to feed him a bunch of low-fat, no taste dishes. He’d put his foot down after he accidentally took a sip of that awful low calorie, non-alcoholic beer that the sneaky bastard had tried to trick him into drinking by putting it in a Neu Bayern Weissbrau bottle. Most disgusting thing he had ever put in his mouth and there was Tyr all wide eyes insisting that it was Weissbrau…Ha! That only lasted until he insisted that Tyr prove it by drinking the stuff. Ah, the look on Tyr’s face at that first taste.

Hmmm what has Tyr done this time? The sneaky bastard. Could Tyr be trying to sneak some sea bass by him again? Last time, the cook had tried to hide it under a heap of sauce. The sauce had looked promising but turned out to be one of those low-fat parodies of real food. Well, Tyr is out of luck. He is not eating any damned sea bass. He’s had about as much fish as he can stand. “So, where’s my food?”

“I asked cook to prepare something more suited to your digestion.” Tyr turns a bland face in his direction as the brunette pours glasses of wine.

“I like the roasted vegetables.” Harper frowns. He glances hopefully at Tyr’s plate. He didn’t mind the veggies so much with that rich sauce poured over them. He fixes an earnest expression on his face. “I really do.”

Chimaera laughs, plainly not buying the act. “Since when, Harper? You used to only eat the snow peas.”

“I’m not eating the sea bass. I hope that’s not what you picked.” Harper narrows his eyes at Tyr. He looks around suspiciously as Slinky swishes over. His face lights up as she sets a dish piled high with bright orange claws in front of him. Harper looks up sharply. Why is Slinky just standing there? Look at her fluttering her lashes at Tyr and leaning forward so that her boobs swell against her bodice. Damn it if all the Anasazi men aren’t eyeing that bodice with hopeful gleams in their eyes. He is not having this. He is so not having this. She is gone. Slinky meets Harper’s baleful glare and hurriedly scuttles off.

“Are those Arctic Crab Legs?” Tamerlane asks. “Cook always was wonderful with those.”

“Harper had some once and loved them. The crabs have been out of season for months. We finally were able to secure some.” Tyr glances at Harper. He smiles softly at Harper’s obvious pleasure.

“Thanks Tyr.” Harper pats Tyr’s hard thigh. Oh, man. These are going to be so good. He picks up a leg and breaks it easily. Alright. Tyr had them cracked so that he wouldn’t have to wrestle with them. “And you had them cracked. I always have a hard time getting inside the damned things.”

Harper dips the succulent morsel into the melted butter then pops it into his mouth. Hmmmm. Perfect. He repeats the process with another bite but this time, with a sidelong glance at Slinky waiting with the bottle of wine, he deliberately gets some of the butter on his lips. He eats the rich meat, moaning softly.

Tyr promptly leans over and licks the butter off his lover’s mouth. He kisses Harper lightly. “I’m glad you like them.”

Ha. Harper smirks at the blond. Take that, Slinky. No contest at all.

“So, I hate to belabor the point, father, but are we agreed? You won’t take the job.” Tamerlane picks up his glass and holds it out. Slinky pours more wine into it.

Tyr sighs as if reluctant to give up the non-existent job. “We are agreed.”

“Good, I’m glad that’s settled.” Chimaera nods as he munches on a baked tuber.

Bellerophon leans his forearms on the table. His glance going from Harper to Tyr. “I have a question. You were expecting Tamerlane. What did you think he was coming to see you about?”

Tyr glances at Harper who narrows his eyes in warning. Tyr shrugs. “I thought he might be coming to ask me to sit on his council.”

The three young men laugh heartily then subside when they see Tyr glowering. “What is so humorous?”

“Father,” Tamerlane shakes his head slowly. “You are not really…suited to the delicate balance needed for diplomacy.”

Tyr growls. “And why am I not? I have a lot to offer.”

“I’m sure you do but diplomacy and tact are not two words readily associated with the name Tyr Anasazi.” Tamerlane laughs.

Bellerophon stiffens and kicks his brother hard under the table as he sees a flicker of pain in Tyr’s eyes. “Father, you deserve this rest after all the years you spent working to rebuild Kodiak pride. You protected us.” He turns a furious glare on his younger brother. “Especially a certain Nietzschean messiah. Don’t take Tamerlane’s words to heart. Sometimes he exhibits the renowned Anasazi lack diplomacy and tact.”

Tyr nods. He will say nothing until he is certain his voice will reveal nothing of his hurt at having Tamerlane laugh at the idea that he might have value as an advisor. He is suddenly aware of Harper sitting silently next to him, the blue eyes cold and hard on Tamerlane’s flushed face. The human’s hand kneads his thigh, offering comfort and support.

“Besides, father, the only thing pressing at this time is the incorporation of several small prides. Nothing of merit.” Tamerlane waves dismissively.

“What about the small prides?” Tyr asks quietly his eyes steady on his youngest son’s face. The boy still has a great deal to learn. In time, Tamerlane will come to realize the value of the kind of perceptions that are granted only by time and experience.

“Nothing really. Several small prides have applied to join the United Prides. They have nothing to add to the whole. I’m on my way to sign the documents to refuse their entry.”
Tamerlane shrugs, leaning back in his chair.

“That might prove unwise, son.”

“I don’t see how. The United Prides includes the strongest, the largest. We’ve even incorporated the Drago-Kazov. What need do we have of prides whose numbers are measured barely in the hundreds?” Tamerlane chuckles.

Tyr leans forward. “Don’t discount the importance of these Nietzscheans because their numbers are small and their resources limited.”

“Please, father. That’s ridiculous.” Tamerlane sips his wine. “What good can possibly come from admitting them?”

Tyr levels a stern stare at his youngest son. “Consider this…an extinct pride joined with a very poor pride that only numbered in the hundreds and had an asteroid as its home world to produce the genetic reincarnation of Drago Museveni. By all accounts, nothing good or great should have come of either of those prides…yet here you sit to disprove that theory.”

Tamerlane frowns. He opens his mouth to speak then stops obediently as Tyr holds up his hand.

“Consider this as well. By refusing to allow the smaller prides to join, you are creating divisions which could one day lead to your downfall.” Tyr pauses, watching the thoughts and calculations flickering across his son’s sable eyes. “If several of the smaller prides join together they become larger and stronger. Is that a threat you want to create?”

Tamerlane sits in a thoughtful silence for a long moment, staring down into his wine glass. When he raises his eyes to meet Tyr’s gaze, there is a new respect and appreciation in his face. He lifts his glass in a silent toast. “No, father.”

Tyr looks around the table at his sons. He glances at Harper who still sits carefully considering Tamerlane. Harper had always favored the twins and Tamerlane’s latest comments will not endear the boy to his shieldbrother. “I may not be tactful or a diplomat. I may be old and useless…but I am not blind.”

Bellerophon gazes into his father’s eyes. He leans forward, touching Tyr’s wrist lightly. “No one thinks of you as old or useless father.”

“Not at all.” Chimaera adds with a hard stare at his younger brother. “While our pretentious little brother may speak before he thinks…we all value you.”

“Tamerlane.” Harper pushes his chair back. “Step out on the deck with me for a moment. I need some air.”

Bellerophon and Chimaera glance quickly at each other at the icy notes in Harper’s voice. Chimaera nudges the plate of crab legs closer to the human. “Harper, you haven’t finished your meal.”

“I’m not hungry.” Harper stands. He brushes a gentle hand over Tyr’s silvery braids, stroking them back. He jerks his head toward the door. “Tamerlane.”

Harper watches with narrowed eyes as Tamerlane looks from his father to his brothers but they have gone back to eating as if nothing odd is going on. Tyr should never have let that old bat of an Orca practically raise the kid. If he or Diana had had a hand in the boy’s raising, Tamerlane would be a damn sight more respectful to Tyr. His boys know how to behave and Diana’s girl would never talk to Tyr like that.

Harper pivots sharply on his heel and stalks out the door as Tamerlane rises with a shrug to follow him. He stares out into the dark, watching the silver slide of the moon gleaming on the water and sand. The beauty of the scene does not ease the anger that burns in him when he thinks of all that Tyr sacrificed for this patronizing snip. Of all the kids, Tamerlane is probably the one who needs Tyr’s advice the most and listens the least to his father.

Harper turns, leaning back against the railing as Tamerlane closes the door. His voice is poisonously soft with fury. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Tamerlane stiffens and folds his arms over his chest. His dark eyes narrow with annoyance. “What are you talking about?”

“Your behavior toward your father. You are not a stupid man. Why behave like an idiot?”

Tamerlane growls softly, looming over the shorter man.

Harper rolls his eyes but doesn’t change his relaxed pose. He can see Tyr and the twins covertly watching. No doubt there are a half dozen guards, both his and Tamerlane’s lurking out there in the greenery somewhere too. “Oh, and since you seem to have forgotten, typical Nietzschean intimidation techniques do not work with me.”

“You forget your place, human.” Tamerlane snarls softly with a quick glance over his shoulder at the three men quietly eating dinner.

“Not me, buddy. I know exactly what my place is.” Harper levels an icy glare up into the young handsome face. “My place is shieldbrother to your father. My place is to defend him when he can’t, or won’t, defend himself. My place is to bring your high and mighty ass down a few pegs. Because, let me tell you, I am not going to tolerate you treating him as if he is insignificant, or useless.”

Tamerlane laughs. “You think to threaten me?”

Don’t you dare be amused at me, you little prick. Harper straightens and steps close. His voice is hard with promise. “You should know me well enough by now to realize that I don’t threaten.”

“What is this, if not a threat?” Tamerlane arches an eyebrow but he is beginning to look more thoughtful than angry.

“It’s actually a reminder of two things, Messiah Boy.” Harper holds up a finger. “One, being the messiah does not make you immortal. You can die just like any other Nietzschean.” Harper holds up another finger. “Two, I have not always lived a pampered life of leisure.”

Tamerlane sighs. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re a smart boy. I’m sure you can figure it out.” Harper feels the jagged edges of his own anger, easing, smoothing as the kid stares silently out at the ocean. At least the boy is listening to him and thinking about what he is saying. Whatever else the boy might be, Tamerlane isn’t a slow learner.

Tamerlane looks back toward the dining area, his gaze lingering on his father’s proud figure. A faint smile edges his lips. “My father is a wise man.”

“Yes, he is.” Harper nods. The stern line of his mouth softens as he follows the line of Tamerlane’s gaze to Tyr.

“Perhaps I could talk to him more often.” Tamerlane concedes. He turns back to face Harper. “You both could come to the capital soon for a visit.”

“I’m sure he’d like that.” Harper smiles, thinking of how much pleasure such an invitation would give Tyr. He moves to stand at Tamerlane’s side and the two of them stand there in companionable silence, watching the moonlight glisten on the ocean.

“Harper?”

“Yes?”

“You remind me of a Nietzschean alpha.” Tamerlane’s husky voice drifts softly on the night air.

Harper snorts. “Must be all those years of association.”

Tamerlane glances sidelong at him. “I noticed father looking at a guard and you staring daggers at the serving girl. Should I expect two extra passengers on my trip back to the capital?”

“Yes. I believe you should.”

Tamerlane sighs. “I suppose I should be thankful it’s only two this time.”

“We’re mellowing in our old age.” Harper laughs.

Tamerlane walks toward the door and slides it open. “It’s chilly out here. Father will never forgive me if you catch cold.”

Harper shakes his head. Okay, so he had one little bout with the sniffles last winter. So what? No need for everybody to go treating him like a potential pneumonia victim.

Later that night…servant’s quarters…

“Dinner went well.” The chef calls out. His long, gray streaked black hair is spread out on his pillow. Dinner had been much better than he expected. Not a single broken dish or glass. Nothing sent back to the kitchen. He smiles, feeling his cock stir and rise as his mate walks out of the shower.

“The Progenitor seemed pleased.” She runs a hand through her short dark hair. Almost dry. She smiles smugly as her mate stares hotly at her generous curves. “He was always fond of your cooking.”

“Mr. Harper seemed to enjoy the Arctic Crab didn’t he? We’ll have to get more of those while they’re in season.” The chef rises up on his elbow for a better view as his mate’s dark hand toys with the damp towel wrapped around her. “We’re not going to repeat the sea bass fiasco.”

“There is little chance that will happen, love.” She slowly unwraps the towel and tosses it aside. Then she crawls into the bed and snuggles up to the sturdy body of her mate. “Too bad about the little Bengal serving girl, wasn’t it.”

“We knew she wasn’t going to last.” The chef kisses his mate’s brow. “Once Mr. Harper sees another blond it’s only a matter of time.”

She smiles with secret satisfaction and caresses his chest. She had noticed the way the Bengal had eyed her mate. Mr. Harper’s decision to send the little trollop packing suits her just fine. Her hand strays lower to squeeze her mate’s thick cock. “Did you leave something for them to snack on later?” The female pushes her mate onto his back and straddles his waist. She moves her hips in a sensual way as he gently caresses her lush breasts. He leans forward and traces his tongue around one erect nipple.

“Of course, I did.” The chef moans as he pushes slowly into the velvet heat of his lover. “Once the boys left, the scent of arousal went through the roof. I knew I had better leave something for them to find after they finished.”

“They didn’t make it back to their quarters the first time.” She laughs softly as she begins to move her hips to a slow sensual rhythm. “I think it’s sweet that they desire each other so intensely. When they look at each other it’s as if nothing else exists.”

“I know.” The chef strokes his mate’s bare back. He grins as he thrusts deeper. “Some of the younger ones are appalled. They think desire and sex is only for the young.”

“They’ll learn.”

In Tyr and Harper’s Bathroom…

“Oh, man. Oh, man.” Harper gasps in the hot, steamy shower as he thrusts a final time into the tight heat of Tyr’s ass. He is always filled with wonder and joy at his outrageous good fortune, every time that he claims his lover. Even after all these years, it is still a marvel to him that Tyr is his. He eases free and affectionately pats the hard curves.

“Yes, Little Professor?” Tyr looks over at his shoulder at his exhausted lover. His full lips quirk into a smug smile.

“I thought we were just gonna take a shower.” Harper pants, leaning against the pale blue tiles. He sinks slowly to the floor.

Tyr turns and pulls Harper gently to his feet. “It was your idea to ride me. I was perfectly content to hold you and enjoy the gentle spray of water.”

“And I suppose that hard pole poking me in my back was just something to hang your towel on.” Harper snarks. He licks a drop of water off the wide chest.

“Now that you mention it….” Tyr turns off the water. He pulls a dark blue towel off the rack and tenderly wraps it around Harper. He pulls out another towel and begins drying himself off.

Harper tosses his towel in the hamper and shrugs into his terrycloth robe. He walks out into the bedroom and looks out of the windows toward the ocean. The sky is getting lighter. “It’s almost dawn.”

“I know.” Tyr follows him out, wrapping a dry towel around his waist.

“Have we been at it all night?”

“Most of it.” Tyr smirks as he walks up behind Harper. “Thank you.”

Harper grins over his shoulder. “I got as much pleasure out of it as you did, believe me.”

“Not about that. Thank you for getting the boys to come visit.” Tyr slides his arms around the human, rubbing his chin against Harper’s damp hair. “That was a thoughtful gift.”

“You’re welcome.” Harper snuggles close. His hands stroke lightly over Tyr’s forearms. “I heard Tamerlane extend an invitation to the capital. That’s great. When are you going?”

“WE are going in a few weeks.” Tyr tightens his arms.

“No, Tyr. I think you need to go alone on this trip.” Harper tilts his head back, searching the dark face. It will be good for Tyr to have some time alone with Tamerlane. “I’ll be fine.”

Tyr kisses him possessively. “I won’t leave you alone.”

Harper laughs, stroking back the long, silver braids. “Who’s alone? I’m only surrounded by two dozen Nietzscheans trained to cater to my every whim.”

“We’ll discuss it later.”

Time for a change of subject. Harper rubs his cheek affectionately against Tyr’s chest. “I’m starving.”

“We can go see if cook left anything we can put together,” Tyr suggests as he nuzzles Harper’s throat.

Harper presses closer and slides a hand behind him to tug the blue towel loose, baring his lover’s body to his touch. He squirms provocatively. “Maybe later.”

Tyr glances down at the tent forming at the front of Harper’s robe. His voice is husky with desire as he murmurs against Harper’s throat, “You want more?”

“Yeah. And this time I want you on your back.”


The End


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