The blood rushed to Kai’s cock as he took a long, deep inhale.
This Presentation Ceremony was unnecessary. As were all the last dozen or so. There was no reason to have six omegas from all over the country—and even some from Europe—presenting themselves to him each time.
All to find his fated mate.
No matter what, it was clear. The pater of his future pups was now present in the Great Hall. He was one of the six males naked on their hands and knees, their foreheads pressed to the cold stone floor, their asses high in the air.
The second Kai had entered the hall, his omega’s slick glands had started to express themselves. It was hard to deny the scent his future mate gave off.
His hatred for these presentation ceremonies burned within him like the heat of a thousand suns. How insulting to be an omega from a good family and be forced to be on display in front of many, many other males in the hall and postulating in front of the reigning King of the North.
His sire, King Solomon.
The ruling Selkie male loved this pomp and circumstance. Kai despised it.
His father sat on his throne at the head of the hall, wearing not only his damn crown, but holding his scepter.
His freaking scepter.
But like it’d been told to Kai countless times before, it was all for the good of the race.
Being the oldest son of five, he was next in line for the throne.
Not that he wanted it, because he didn’t.
Not that he had a choice. He certainly didn’t.
Just like he wouldn’t have a choice in choosing his future mate. That would be chosen for him due to the fates. An omega he’d have to spend the rest of his life with, who would sit by his side if and when Kai ever reigned the kingdom, and who would bear his pups.
No, Kai’s body would decide that.
So, he had no choice. None. And neither did his omega.
Kai hoped he at least found his bonded mate easy on the eyes, and somewhat intelligent. Otherwise, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to tolerate being tied to a male Kai couldn’t bear to look at, breed with, or even have a decent conversation with.
That would seem like eternal torture.
Kai’s nostrils flared as the sweet, luring scent of his bonded mate became stronger. His cock was now more painful than ever.
He didn’t think he’d ever gotten this hard with any of his beta or human lovers.
“Son, come forward,” his father’s deep voice encouraged. Hell, demanded.
Kai frowned at all the formality. The Royal Guards lined both sides of the hall, leaving him a clear path to the throne, the “presentation,” and his four brothers. Two stood on one side of their father, two on the other.
They looked as uncomfortable as Kai felt and Zale was giving him an intense stare that read, “Hurry up and choose, so we all can get the bloody hell out of here.”
Kai understood that sentiment well.
With a sigh, Kai moved forward, his eyes traveling over the bare asses being presented for everyone to see.
Thanks be to Poseidon, he was grateful that he was not an omega.
His nose wrinkled and twitched as he strolled down the line behind them. But his attention kept being drawn to the omega on the end.
That was him. His mate. His future.
Kai’s life as he knew it was now over. The Seekers had finally found his mate. He purposely rounded the group and then, crossing his arms behind his back, he marched down the line in the front.
Because to do so was expected. And, of course, by doing what was expected would keep his father’s ire at him to a minimum. Staying off the king’s radar was something he and his brothers have worked hard at since they were young pups.
Kai took shallow breaths through his mouth, so his omega’s scent wouldn’t overwhelm him. He certainly never smelled anything like it.
Admittedly, it was heady. It made his heart race and his cock twitch. And the strong instinct to mount and rut his omega right then and there made his mind spin.
He could just imagine what his father would say if Kai reduced himself to acting like nothing more than a horny dog humping a human’s leg.
Kai was a bit worried that it may actually happen if they didn’t hurry up and get this “ceremony” over with.
No one had explained to him just how strong his instincts to rut would become once he found his fated mate. It was quite disturbing since it made his control teeter on a dangerous edge. He gritted his teeth and twisted his fingers together behind his back to make sure he remained upright on his two feet as well as fully clothed.
Even though he knew he didn’t have to get close to figure out which male was his mate, he approached the one on the end, the light-haired one with the eyes tipped down to the floor. Those sea green eyes had flicked up in defiance just long enough for Kai to see that fascinating color. And it was the color that drew him in.
But it wasn’t only the unique shade of his eyes. Kai could scent his future mate, the one whose body went still and solid as Kai gave in and bent over, grabbing the omega’s elbow and drawing him to his feet.
His omega stood, eyes still tipped—in what Kai assumed was feigned submission—to the floor. He stepped closer to touch the tip of his nose to the soft skin behind the omega’s ear at his scent gland and inhaled deeply.
The omega’s alluring and somewhat sweet, but strangely familiar scent, filled his nostrils and lungs as his skin began to tingle. His body became warmer and his cock began to engorge.
His reaction surprised him because the male who stood before him wasn’t even in oestrus yet. With the way Kai’s body was reacting now, he couldn’t imagine how crazy out of his mind he’d become once the male went into heat.
Even so, with that one breath, Kai reflected once more that his life would never be the same again. He was going to be tied to this stranger for the rest of his days on Earth and in the Great Sea. He would now only mate with this single being and this male would be tasked to produce his heirs.
Once more, he hoped he liked this omega and could bear to live with him, otherwise he was screwed. If not, he’d have to do his duty with this fated mate and find his pleasure, his sexual release, elsewhere. A beta. A human. Whoever.
“Son...” his father called from behind him.
Ignoring the annoyance in his father’s voice, he stared down into those sea green eyes, now bravely meeting his, and asked, “What is your name?”
The male before him shuddered but stared with unexpected confidence at Kai. “Loukas. But I go by Luca.”
Kai watched the omega’s full, soft lips move as he spoke. He could almost imagine the warmth of his breath brushing along Kai’s skin as they rutted.
“Luca,” Kai murmured softly, not only mesmerized by the male’s mouth, but by those eyes of his which peeked from between thick, golden lashes. “Bringer of light.”
Luca tilted his head slightly. “If you say so, Your Royal Highness.”
Kai frowned. “Don’t call me that again,” he snapped sharply.
Luca tipped his head down, his captivating eyes following at a slower pace. “I beg your pardon, sir.” The male was obstinate, unfearful and his demeanor didn’t match his apology.
Kai liked it.
“Son!” his father yelled from his position at the head of the hall, thumping the bottom of his scepter onto the stone platform several times to get Kai’s attention. “Prince Kai.”
The king only called him that when he was irritated. Which seemed to be often.
Kai sighed and muttered, “Shit.”
He didn’t miss Luca flattening his lips before Kai turned to face his father. Not that he wanted to since his erection was now raging and there’d be no possible way to hide it.
“Yes, sire?” he asked with his own feigned obedience.
Suddenly, his father’s assistant, Douglass, was fluttering around him like a hummingbird on crack.
“Your Highness... Please. There are certain steps that must be taken...”
Kai swatted his hand at Douglass, wishing the male was as small as a hummingbird so he could knock him to the ground and stomp him with his boot. The Northern Colony would be a better place without that little pest.
“I know, Dougie,” Kai said wryly. “You’ve gone over them with me a million times. I just don’t feel like following your steps.”
“They’re not my steps, Your Highness. They’re tradition—”
Kai cocked a brow at Douglass. “And since when have I ever followed tradition?”
“If you’re going to take a mate—”
“Do I have to take a mate?” Kai glanced over his shoulder back at Luca. “Sorry, nothing personal.” Then he let his gaze roam down the male’s body. Only for a second, though. He’d inspect him closer later. When he had a lot more time. And he could do something to relieve the ache in his balls.
Douglass grabbed his elbow, making Kai freeze and look down his nose at the little pest. The assistant released him quickly, taking a step back, color flooding his pale cheeks.
“You forget yourself, Dougie,” Kai growled.
“I... I’m sorry, Your Highness.”
Kai raised his gaze from the smaller male to the head of the Great Hall. His father sat holding that damn scepter tightly with white-knuckled fingers, his face pinched and red, his eyes narrowed. Kai’s gaze bounced over to his brothers from left to right...
Zale, who had his head dropped and his body shaking with laughter. He would find this all amusing. Marlin, who stood with his arms behind his back, staring at the ceiling, probably with impatience. Caol, who was too busy eyeballing a handsome beta guard. One of a few that lined both sides of the hall.
And then there was Adrian, standing there in typical Rian style, pretending to act bored but Kai knew his brother from another mother... err, pater... was annoyed as much as their father.
Rian tended to take this kind of shit seriously, as well. Being the second oldest, he probably prayed to Poseidon every night for something to happen to Kai to make him the next reigning King of the North instead of his older brother.
Funny. Kai sort of wished that, too.
But he hoped it wasn’t his demise that made it so. He kind of liked breathing and living life.
“Father, I’ve found my mate,” Kai announced in a bored tone. “So, can we just dispose of all this unneeded,” he waved his hand around the air, “sh— garbage?”
“Yes, Father, it’s almost time for dinner and I’m starved,” Marlin drawled.
“You’ve found your mate, just like that?” the king boomed. “You aren’t supposed to go up to them and simply start sniffing, Kai.”
“But I don’t have to sniff them. I can clearly recognize my mate’s scent. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work? Anyway, he’s here. And if you haven’t noticed, he’s the one standing there naked. Can we at least get him some clothes and send the rest of them on their way?”
King Solomon sighed with loud exaggeration. “Kai, you will be the death of me yet.”
“No, I’m pretty sure that will be Caol.”
His youngest brother shot Kai a smirk.
“Douglass,” the king boomed out. “You may send the others away. Make sure to send their families the obligatory gift along with our deepest gratitude.”
Like little Dougie needed his father to tell him what to do. The assistant took his job seriously and did his best to anticipate any of his father’s needs.
Which were many.
Douglass did a deep bow. “Yes, Your Highness.”
When he rose, Kai pointed to the beta’s face. “Dougie, I think there’s a little brown spot at the end of your nose,” he said just loud enough for Douglass and his brothers to hear.
Douglass wiped at it quickly, frowning when he found nothing.
A sharp snort came from Zale. And Caol looked about ready to explode.
King Solomon slammed the end of his scepter down on the stone floor once more. “Enough!”
“Father, you know Kai doesn’t take anything seriously,” Rian said dryly.
The king made a noise of impatience. “I’m well aware of that.” He pinned his narrowed gaze on Kai. “This is not a joke, Prince Kai. This is not only important to our royal bloodlines, our kingdom, and our colony, but our Selkie race as a whole.”
Oh, no pressure. No, none at all.
Kai tilted his head toward the king. “Thank you for reminding me of that, Father. If you’d like, my new-found mate and I can go get to know each other a little better right now and get an immediate start on saving our kind. You know, for the good of our race.”
Marlin now stared at his feet, shaking his dark head and hiding his grin.
“You know what comes next,” King Solomon said through gritted teeth.
Yes, Dougie had said that if the Seekers were ever successful on finding his mate, after the naked ass presentation would come a meal.
Like a repast after a funeral.
“We will all head directly to the dining hall and break bread with the newest member of our royal family,” his father finished and then clapped his hands loudly. “Douglass! Come bring the boy his clothes!”
Oh joy. Kai got to sit next to his mate and inhale his intoxicating scent as they sat around a table a mile long and tried to make polite small talk and eat.
He doubted he’d be able to concentrate on food.
He’d rather take his omega back to his wing in the castle, so he could get to know Luca better.
He wasn’t kidding his father about being willing to get started on saving their kind. Or at least going through the motions. Since his mate wasn’t currently in heat, there’d be no possible way for Luca to get pregnant. But it would be fun to try, anyway.
He had no idea how he was going to sit through a formal dinner consisting of five courses with his current predicament. Which was his painful erection.
As he raised his eyes to the throne, he saw his father smiling at him. The king knew exactly what reaction Kai was suffering by him being so close to his omega and not being able to mark him fully as his yet.
King Solomon was enjoying this. And that knowing smirk he wore clearly said, “Paybacks are a bitch.”
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Also available in paperback and audio!