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Taken by Her Mates(6)

By:Grace Goodwin



A princess? No flipping way. Perhaps that really was the reason I’d been rejected. I was absolutely, positively, not Cinderella.

“I think it’s for the best, warden. I’m not exactly princess material.” I was better with a dagger than a politician’s silver tongue, more skilled with a rifle than on the dance floor. And that, sadly, was simply a fact. Whoever this Prince Nial was, he’d just dodged a bullet.

Me.

Perhaps this prince was better off without me. That didn’t mean that deep down, where the emotions of that other woman’s claiming ceremony lingered, the dream in which, for a few moments, I knew what it felt like to be wanted, loved, fucked and claimed by her mates, that I wasn’t bleeding.



* * *



Prince Nial of Prillon Prime, Aboard the Battleship Deston



As I lumbered to the view screen to speak to my father, I was numb. I felt as if my body weighed next to nothing, no more than a child’s. It was the easiest way to handle my father if I offered no emotion.

The cyborg implants injected into my body during my time in a Hive Integration Chamber were microscopic, and impossible to remove without killing me. Hence, I was now considered contaminated, a risk to the men under my command and to the people of my planet. I was to be treated as a highly dangerous rogue. At least that was what everyone thought. Warriors who were contaminated with Hive technology were typically banished to one of the colonies to live out the rest of their lives doing hard labor. They didn’t take brides. And they didn’t become the Prime of Prillon’s twin worlds.

My birthright, as Prime heir and prince of my people, had kept me from being immediately banished to the colonies, but there was one thing I cared about more than that and it wasn’t the person who filled the screen before me.

I stared at the carefully blank face of a man twice my age. He looked quite similar to me, only older, and without any of the cyborg implants. He was huge, with a fierce face and custom armor designed to make him look even larger than his seven-foot frame. He was the Prime of two planets of hulking warriors. He had to be strong. One hint of weakness, and his enemies would take him down.

Right now, I was that weakness for him. I was the rogue son turned dangerous cyborg threat.

“Father.” I bowed my head slightly in greeting, despite the rage coursing through my blood. He may have biologically been my parent, but he was no father.

“Nial, I have spoken to Commander Deston. I have filed a formal order for your transfer to the colonies.”

I gritted my teeth to hold back my immediate response. So much for being numb. So, my status as blood heir to the throne was not to save me from banishment after all. He didn’t give a Prillon fuck that I was his son. I was damaged, ruined by the Hive and not worthy of being a leader. Of being his son.

Someone handed him a tablet and he perused its content as he spoke to me, not bothering to look up. “I leave for the front in a few days to visit our warriors and assess the condition of several of our older battleships. I expect your transfer to be completed by the time I return.”

I took a deep breath and tried to keep my voice as neutral and benign as his. “I see. And what of my bride? She was due to arrive via transport three days ago.”

“You had no right to request a bride. I had an agreement with Councilor Harbart. You were to claim his daughter as mate.”

I couldn’t help the way my hands gripped the chair in front of me.

“Harbart was a foul coward who planned to murder me and Commander Deston’s bride. Why would I claim his daughter?”

The Prime raised a brow and actually looked up at me, as if confused. “The question is irrelevant now since you are… unsuitable to claim a mate. You will claim no one. Your Earth bride’s transport has been denied, of course. No contaminated warrior is allowed the honor of a bride. You know this. By now, she may well be matched to another warrior who is not…”

His voice trailed off and he tilted his head, studying me. I let him look. If he were a real father, he’d look past the Hive’s cyborg modifications and see that I was the still the same person, still his son. Still the prince.

“Who is not what?”

This was the first time he had seen me since my rescue from the Hive. Arms crossed, I let him take in the slight metallic shine to the skin on the left side of my face, the now odd silver coloration of the iris of my left eye, once a dark gold. I had purposely left my forearms bare so he could see the thin sheet of living biotech that had grafted to half of my arm and part of my left hand. I wanted him to see it all, yet still see me.

His eyes lingered on my arm. “The implants and skin grafts cannot be removed?”

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