Kiera's Home (Chapter Three, page 1 of 10)

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Kiera's three sisters-in-law were waiting as customary when the craft landed on one of the two moons circling Anshan. While the other was uninhabitable, this one had become the home of A'Ran's family and many others, especially after Anshan's air became poisonous. Square dwellings with flat roofs lined what had been open fields just weeks before.

Kiera grinned when the door opened to reveal his sisters. Where A'Ran's heavy, rugged features made him beyond handsome, the same characteristics did a total disservice to his tall sisters, rendering them awkward in appearance. The youngest, Talal, waved, earning herself a stern look from the oldest, who was most like their brother in her sense of duty and decorum. The middle sister, Gage, appeared distracted and pale, her eyes haunted.

Kiera took in the woman's face, pitying her. Pregnant and widowed, Gage had the extra burden of carrying the child of the man who betrayed A'Ran and their entire planet. That family secret was not likely every to get out, though, not if A'Ran had it his way. It didn't seem to help Gage any, even knowing this.

"Hey, guys!" Kiera greeted them as she reached them.

"May the sun shine long on you, nishani," D'Ryn, the eldest, said formally. "I hope your travels went well."

"They did. Mansr said he and A'Ran have some things to do on the craft. We can go ahead inside."

The three hesitated, and Kiera almost rolled her eyes. Talal was the first to break rank, as usual, and Kiera saw the question in her eyes before she spoke. Terrified of offending or disappointing her brother, Talal had relied on Kiera to ask about her fiancé coming to the midday meal.

"I don't know," Kiera replied to the unasked question. "He didn't say no."

"Did he say yes?" Talal asked.


"You should not place our brother in such a position, nishani," D'Ryn, the eldest, chided. "If he chooses not to accept someone into our family, we must respect that."

Talal's face fell.

"If that's his choice, I want it to be because he met Ketnan and didn't like him, not because he doesn't want to be related to a non-warrior," Kiera shot back.

D'Ryn pursed her lips.

"I will do as my brother wishes, nishani," Talal whispered.

Kiera had a long way to go in teaching the women of A'Ran's family to be more independent and stop their subservient waiting on the men. She wanted to tell them so but held her tongue, aware she'd made some process with Talal already. The women of Anshan needed baby steps when it came to bucking tradition.

"Shall we go in?" Kiera asked instead.

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