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there would be a wedding ceremony. The Brides divided into committees. Computer
interfaces were set up in the Great Hall and each committee uplinked with the master
computer to plan clothing, music, the feast and the vows.
Several days passed while the committees worked. The food committee came up
with a menu and then interacted with the computer to find Terilian equivalents. The
vows committee squabbled endlessly about the wording. The music committee faced
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Solange Ayre
problems too, as everyone had different ideas as to what was suitable and no one
seemed to know all the words to the Chicken Dance.
Arguments about liquor raged until they discovered the Terilians didn t drink.
Instead they filled little bags with a fragrant herb and inhaled. Jan requested that niphela
be brought to the Great Hall. Many women doubted that it would affect them but it
turned out they d become sufficiently Terilian to get a pleasant buzz from the herb. Half
a day was wasted in experimenting with the substance.
Everything they requested had to be overseen by Delos but that wasn t a problem.
Approvals came through so quickly that Jan suspected he hadn t even listened to
them wherever he was keeping himself. He hadn t been near her in several days. She
wondered what he was doing and why he hadn t tried to see her.
One afternoon, Jan was enjoying a hot-chocolate-like beverage and small, meat-
filled rolls with the rest of the Brides when a rolling messenger entered the Great Hall.
The tiny machine stopped at the doorway.  Janis Stone, you are summoned, it
announced.
She followed it out into the corridor, hoping the summons had come from Delos.
 Where are we going? she asked.
 To Primus Taddus cabin.
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One Thousand Brides
Chapter Seven
Jan s apprehension grew as she paced after the messenger. Delos had said everyone
had sworn not to have intercourse until the Spring Running. Did that include the
primuses? Or would Taddus try to force himself on her?
Rape is impossible in our culture. Delos had said that too. But her growing fear made
his earlier statement difficult to believe.
Taddus was standing impatiently in the doorway of his cabin as she approached.
He smiled when he saw her. His yellow eyes seemed to search every inch of her body,
lingering on her breasts and her pelvis.
 Janis, please come in. I thought we should have a talk before the Spring Running.
She hesitated.  On Earth, women don t enter the homes of men they don t know.
 The messenger shall stay, if you like. He bent and addressed the machine.  Bear
witness that I will do nothing to the human woman without her consent.
 Witness function activated. The machine rolled into a corner and extended a
blinking glass lens.
Jan entered his cabin. It was three times the size of hers, with heavy, wooden
furniture that was permanently affixed to the deck. One entire wall showed changing
pictures, like the corridors. Jan assumed they were scenes from Teril.
 Please be seated, Taddus said, bringing out a stool for her.
Jan sat, arranging her tunic over her knees. She was very conscious of the sheer
material she wore.
He stared at her nipples.  Your soft breasts entice me, Janice. Perhaps you ll let me
lick and suck them.
She tossed her hair.  I came here to talk. That s all.
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Solange Ayre
He turned and paced toward the bed.  You ve been spending much of your time
with Secondus Delos.
 Delos and I have become good friends, Jan answered.
 Not surprising. Everyone likes Del. He s considered quite brilliant in his field, you
know.
 I didn t know. He doesn t speak of himself much.
 The cream of Teril was chosen for this colonization venture. The best Teril had to
offer. Coming closer, he put his hand on her shoulder. She inhaled, trying to decide
what she thought of his scent.  So I understand your liking for the young doctor. But
primuses have first choice and I have chosen you as my Bride.
Perhaps this was her chance.  You may have chosen me but I haven t chosen you.
He laughed indulgently.  But you will, my dear. When I come for you at the Spring
Running, you ll be happy to mate with me. And I will be proud to be married to the
most beautiful Earth woman on the ship. Now, let us talk and get to know each other s
essences. Once you know me better, I m sure you will be pleased to be my wife.
She tilted her head, considering his words.  Go ahead. Talk all you want. She
already knew that nothing could make her choose him rather than Delos.
He smiled, entirely missing her sarcasm.  Not only beautiful but a female of sense.
He brought another stool close to hers.
He told her of his family s glorious heritage, the exploits of his explorer father,
Gazeem, the beauty and wit of his mother, Alora, the fame and intelligence of his
siblings. He spoke at length of his years at school, his training in governance, the prizes
he d won for his carefully reasoned papers. He talked about the wife he d brought on
board with him and how happy she d been, married to a primus and a council member.
Jan felt like she was on a bad date with a man who wouldn t let her get a word in
edgewise.
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One Thousand Brides
At last he rose, saying he had something to show her. She took the opportunity to
say,  Taddus? Wouldn t you like to hear about my life on Earth?
Turning back quickly, he said,  Janis, you re Terilian now. I believe the sooner you
forget your old, primitive life, the better. He opened a metal chest and lifted out a
copper necklace.  I d like you to wear this. Consider it the first of many gifts you will
receive, as the wife of Primus Taddus.
 Perhaps you should wait until we re married. Panic shot through her as he
lowered the heavy necklace over her hair.
 No, I wish to see you wearing this lavish gift. Taking her hands, he helped her to
her feet.  It enhances your beauty, my dear. Keeping hold of her hand with his left, he
stroked her cheek with his right.  As my wife, you ll enjoy the best quarters, the best
food. You ll be richly dressed at all times. You ll never have to work.
 I might want to work, Jan suggested.
 But you won t, my dear. Your days will be spent in leisure. All males will envy
me even the other primuses.
His hand moved down her neck, stroking, caressing. She shivered. Like Delos, he
was touching her gently, trying to give her pleasure. But she felt no response.
 Let me touch your breast, he murmured.
She hesitated. But after all, why not? If she had to marry him, she might as well see
what he was like.  You may touch me, she said.
He rubbed his cheek against hers affectionately. Why did it mean so much more
when Delos did it? His fingers went to her breasts, circling the nipples, attempting to
stimulate her through the sheer fabric.
Taddus hands were skillful but he might as well have been a doctor giving her a
breast examination. She wasn t interested.
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Solange Ayre
To stop him, she put her hands to his face. He turned his head, licking her palm. If
Delos had done the same thing, she would have trembled with delight. When Taddus
did it, she wanted to wipe her palm.
 Taddus, I don t want to marry you.
His smile was patronizing.  All females are nervous prior to the Spring Running,
Janis. Once we ve mated, you ll be content you ll see.
 There are almost a thousand other Brides on the ship. Choose another. Choose [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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