Kiera's Moon (Chapter Seven, page 1 of 12)


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A'Ran went to his quarters, the thin sheet of what felt like a leaf in his hand. He unfolded it only when in the safety of his locked room and sat it down on the desk to stare at it.

He'd never seen art of this kind, only the statues of his father's court and the multi-hued strands used to decorate homes. The depiction was of him, and her, and Anshan, though how she knew Anshan, he didn't know. He was more interested in them holding hands and the look on her face, one of admiration.

His face, however, was blank. She either hadn't completed the art form, or she didn't know what he looked like when he was content.

Neither did he. Mansr's words returned to him, those that wanted him to be something other than a warrior. He cared for his sisters; they were his blood relations. He'd never cared for another woman in the way his father had loved his mother. He'd granted favors to women as a way of releasing his frustration, but never with any real affection-- just physical need. The concept of something more was as foreign to him as peace, and yet he wanted the image on the leaf to be real. He found himself wanting his nishani to gaze at him as she did in the image. He wanted them to be on Anshan together and bring peace and life to the dying planet.

He wanted there to be something more than war. It was what nishani asked him the day prior: if she learned duty, what would he learn? She knew what the answer was, but hadn't spoken it. If she learned duty, then he must learn this. He raised the leaf again, unable to take his eyes off it.

"A'Ran?" Jetr's voice came over the communicator.

"Yes."

"The Council awaits you."

"I will be there soon," he said, and lowered the leaf.

She must choose Anshan. Mansr's words returned to him. She wouldn't, not if he couldn't become the man on the leaf. He'd hoped she would adjust to his world on her own, never suspecting he'd need to change himself. In the past few days, he'd learned just how unready he was to be the lifemate of his own nishani. Disturbed, he folded the leaf and placed it in his pocket.

He carried it with him to the long, pointless Council meeting, to his afternoon sparring session with Jetr, to the banquet and introduction of his nishani to the clan leaders. He began to think his own actions had cost him the choice he'd yet to give her: to stay forever or return to her planet.

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