Swimming with a Royal – Kit Morgan

SHONA’S EYES OPENED. Had she fallen asleep? She blinked a few times, heard music, but couldn’t make it out. It was familiar yet out of place. Either way, it sent her blood racing. Her head snapped to look at Dallan next to her. But he wasn’t next to her. Where did he go? She stood, searched the plane but didn’t see him. The music kept playing, growing louder – a pop song, a woman singing something about alien abduction – and her heart pounded in response. She moved into the aisle, shuddered and searched the passengers for a familiar face. There were none. Where was everybody? No one paid her any mind. In fact, she wasn’t sure they saw her at all. She reached the back of the plane, down by the restroom, and stopped cold. “Essie! What are you doing here?” The pure white Sarian was smaller than normal, crammed into the space where flight attendants fixed drinks and stored meals. Shona spun around, arms spread as if she could hide the beast, then realized how pointless it was and did an about-face.

The white-furred feline-spider creature grinned, showing its razor-sharp teeth and blinked several times, her large purple eyes happy. “Essie, where is Dallan?” But the Sarian was no longer there. “What the …?” She turned again, saw row upon row of passengers – and Dallan standing in the aisle at the other end of the plane. “Dallan!” He looked at her, eyes wide in panic. “What have ye done? Why have ye brought me here?” “Oh, no.” She ran for him before he lashed out, the light of their shared heart beginning to glow. “Dallan, no!” He turned a full circle, clenching his fists, looking ready to punch his way out of the 747. He did not do well in enclosed spaces. Problem was, he might just succeed. “Dallan no, the people!” She ran faster but wasn’t getting anywhere.

“No!” Too late. Dallan had an anguished look, the kind that said he could no longer keep control. He threw his head back and the light of their shared heart shot forth, cutting into the side of the plane, ripping it in two … “Shona? Wake up already!” Shona’s eyes popped open and she bolted upright. “Dallan!” Kitty Morgan, her best friend, made a face. “Geez, what’s the matter with you?” Shona gulped air and scanned the room. She was in her bedchamber in the Muiraran capital. “Mishna. I’m in Mishna.” “Yeah, and so am I,” Kitty said. “We’re supposed to be packing, remember?” Shona stared at her, still trying to collect her thoughts.

Essie, crouched near the bed, blinked at her. “It was just a dream.” “More like a nightmare,” Kitty said, sitting on the bed. “You were yelling at Dallan – were you guys fighting or something?” Shona shivered. Essie moved her soft furred bulk partway onto the bed, and she buried her face in it. “Oh, thank goodness it was just a nightmare. We were on the plane to Hawaii.” “What’s so scary about th … oh, yeah, never mind.” Dallan’s claustrophobia wasn’t a secret. Essie purred.

Shona knew the beast was trying to calm her and took a deep breath. “He was panicking and started tearing the plane apart.” Kitty whistled long and low. “I bet he did.” She left the bed. “What idiot thought it would be a good idea to stick a six-five 17th-century Scottish warrior with a bad case of claustrophobia on an airplane?” “I did.” They turned to see Shona’s father King Jaireth standing in the entrance of Shona and Dallan’s bedchamber. Essie purred louder. “Father,” Shona replied. “Daughter.

” The king entered, waved Essie away, then saw the rumpled bedding and an equally disheveled Shona. “Trouble sleeping?” Shona sighed. “We need to talk.” “About?” “Everything.” Kitty left the bed. “I’ll be going now.” Jaireth Shamaelon, king of the Muirarans, fixed his crystal blue eyes on her. He wasn’t as tall as most Muiraran males, but just as intimidating here as when seated upon his throne in the great hall surrounded by tens of thousands of the alien race. Shona knew Kitty was lucky to be there at all and luckier he didn’t rebuke her for her earlier remark. She ducked out so he and Shona could talk.

As soon as she was gone, Shona took a shaky breath and swallowed hard. “Father …” “Do I make you nervous?” She stared at him, then at the mirror near the bed. She could just make out their reflections. The resemblance was uncanny. True, his eyes were blue and not green, but they held the same look: a fierceness and innocence intermingled in deep flecks of color. His hair was dark brown, not her auburn-red, but their skin tone, lips and the slight curve of the cheekbones were the same. “No,” she finally said, looking him in the eyes. She was still learning to stand up to him. “Dallan cannot be put on an airplane. I won’t have it.

” A corner of Jaireth’s mouth twitched. “It’s not funny!” She disentangled herself from the sheets. “Do you have any idea what could happen? And what about Vale Berg, our assignment, or the woman we’re to match him with? What’s her name again – Mackey, Mickey, Malala …” “Makama James.” “Yes, what about her?” She noticed his raised eyebrows, then looked at her attire. Jaireth shook his head at the Pearl Jam T-shirt and cutoff jeans. “What have I told you about your wardrobe?” She tossed her hand in the air. “Yes, dress like a princess, I know.” “If you know, then why do you insist upon wearing clothes from the time you were raised in?” “I like the 90s, okay? It was … comfortable.” “Which is why I am sending you there for a much-needed rest.” “Rest?” She laughed.

“We’ll be working!” “Your mother, Shannell, overheard you speak of this Ha-wa-yee and thought it would be a good place, working or no.” “Yes, I’ve always wanted to go to there. It would be perfect for a honeymoon …” He deserved that. She and Dallan had yet to have a real honeymoon. It was what, August, September? She kept losing track of time. She and Dallan had only been married since June. June 1995. And here she was in 3698. Depending on your perspective, their getaway had been delayed for either a couple of months or seventeen centuries. “What was that?” She shook her head.

“Nothing. It’s just … Dallan and I haven’t had time to ourselves since we were wed.” “Joined,” he corrected. “A distinction without a difference.” He chuckled. “Hardly.” She bent to pick up her discarded socks. “The point is, we need some time to ourselves.” “You shall have some on this assignment.” “Really?” She tossed the socks on the bed.

“How?” “I am sending Melvale with you.” Her jaw dropped. “Melvale! Oh, great, he won’t be a distraction.” Jaireth smiled tenderly. “You are not as upset as you appear, daughter.” She stared at him. He was right – she’d been using contractions for at least half their conversation. She only talked like that when she was relaxed. “I’m still worried. Dallan can’t be in an enclosed space for long periods.

It’s a disaster waiting to happen.” She shoved her hair out of her face. “Someone could get hurt.” Jaireth adjusted his silver and dark blue royal robes. “Very well. You and Time Master Dallan may fetch Vale Berg and open a door through time to Hawaii the usual way. But make sure no one sees you. The last thing you need is to draw attention to yourselves.” She gaped at him. “And Melvale won’t?” “Melvale will be as discreet as ever.

” “Father, that’s what I’m worried about. Even here, the man stands out like a sore thumb. Among no one but humans? He’ll have the resort in an uproar.” Jaireth almost smiled. “Then Time Master Dallan will have to deal with it.” She glared at him, king or no, there were days she wished her Muiraran father’s inner heart fed on something other than “getting one over on somebody.” Her own fed off music, which was hard enough to control. Sometimes she wondered which was worse. Which brought her to the next concern. “How are we going to explain all this to Prince Vale?” “Is it not enough you matched his older brother Asger with Mitzi Fine? Did you hide Mitzi’s true origins from her?” “No, I explained to her she was one of us.

I even showed her …” “As you said in your report. But did you tell anyone else?” “Asger, of course, and Lady Mildred, the queen’s companion.” “She does not count. She is in my and Kwaku’s employ.” Shona’s mind raced over their last assignment. The fine details were slipping from memory, though they’d barely finished it a few days ago. But now she had to get ready for a trip to Hawaii with her adoptive human parents, her claustrophobic husband, her best friend, Lord Councilor Lany Mosgofian and his family, and now Melvale. Somewhere in there she and Dallan had to match another human male with a woman who was part Muiraran. Which reminded her … “Father, how much Muiraran blood does Makama have?” “We believe at least half, maybe more but could be wrong.” She sat again and touched her ears.

“Enough to show Muiraran features?” “That remains to be seen. Each individual is different depending on their genetic make-up. You will have to find out.” She covered her face. “Sometimes I don’t like this job.” He put an arm around her. “You are a royal, daughter. You have the purest blood, and thus abilities no one else does. It is your responsibility to use what you have to protect our race and further our lines. You do not have to like it.

” “The same old speech.” She was pushing it but didn’t care. She was tired. “How will Melvale help?” “You are to bring Vale Berg to 1996 and make sure he meets Makama James. Melvale will take it from there.” She jerked in surprise. “What? 1996? We’ll be in … a few months into the future? I mean, from when I lived there.” “Yes. Your mother thought the weather would be nice there at that time of year. You will be provided with the exact date.

” “But Melvale …” He smiled. “Was I unclear?” “You mean … we bring Vale to my time, let him meet this young woman and that’s it?” “Some guidance would be advisable, but yes, Melvale can handle things well enough.” “Oh, Father!” She jumped up and threw her arms around him. “Thank you! I thought … that is …” “You thought you and Time Master Dallan would be working yourselves to the bone? No. Would I be so cruel?” Shona eyed him, then hugged him again. Better to keep her mouth shut at this point. From the sound of it, she and Dallan really were going to get a honeymoon. And she, for one, needed this badly. And since they’d still be there to advise, what could go wrong? T C H A P T E R O N E he Kingdom of Dalrovia, 1896 ASGER BERG WATCHED HİS WİFE, Mitzi, put on her dressing gown. She was a vision with her hair mussed and eyes filled with the kind of satisfaction only a man can give a woman.

“What are you looking at? You’re always staring at me.” He smiled. “That’s because I can’t get over that you’re mine.” She smiled back and approached the bed. “You should get up.” She sat, taking his hand in hers. “Your brother will be here soon.” He took her hand and kissed it. “It wouldn’t be the first time Vale interrupted us.” She laughed.

“That was an accident. You forgot to lock our door.” He gave her a playful smirk and shrugged. “Is it locked now?” “I believe so.” He pulled her closer. “We could continue what we were doing earlier …” “Stop and get up. We’ve been in bed too long.” “We’re royals. People expect it of us.” She sighed.

“I wonder if that’s true no matter what century you’re in.” He ran a hand up and down her arm. “Do you miss the twenty-first century?” “I don’t miss the traffic and noise. I do miss the shopping and technology.” She hung her head. “And my dad.” He smiled in understanding. “You can hardly wear the clothes from your time here. What would people think? As to your father, we’ll be able to visit soon enough.” “True.

” She sighed again. “I suppose it’s easier going back in time to marry the man of your dreams than go forward.” “Like Shona MacDonald?” She nodded. “She’s from my past yet lives thousands of years in the future. It’s mindboggling.” “Do you want to see it?” He knew she’d been offered to meet more of her race, but so far hadn’t pursued it. “I’m not ready, Asger. I’m not sure when I’ll be.” He sat up. “I understand.

It’s just as hard for me to believe that you’re …” “… Not human?” She scooted closer and rested her head against his chest. “That makes two of us. Unless I’m around other Muirarans, I won’t look like one. No one will ever know.” Asger smiled. “Too bad. I find your pointed ears rather fetching.” She smiled. “Fine for you. But what about Vale? How is he going to take the news that he’s destined to marry someone like me?” “If I don’t get up and dressed, we’ll never find out.

” Mitzi left the bed and headed for the changing screen in a corner of the room. “Has Dallan given you any more details?” Asger reached for the clothing he’d discarded earlier and began dressing. “Only that my brother will be matched to someone like you on some island in the Pacific Ocean. He hasn’t told me which exactly.” Mitzi emerged from behind the screen. “Or when.” She handed him his shirt. “And that island would belong to Hawaii.” She sighed. “So, she won’t be from around here and won’t be from around now.

How will Vale take it?” “How’s Vale going to take any of it? He’s hardly left Dalrovia.” “And then only to visit Albert and Velta in the kingdom next door,” she added with a smile. He pulled her into his arms. “The thought of living under a monarchy still amuses you?” Mitzi laughed. “I can’t help it – especially given the size of this kingdom. To me it’s like a big house on a big piece of property and nothing more.” “Except that the house is surrounded by a moat, a lot of tiny houses, a village and numerous farms. Oh and the forest, we mustn’t forget the forest.” She stood on tiptoe and kissed him on the cheek. She was a petite woman but trained in combat – she was a more-than-adequate personal bodyguard as well as a wife.

Like Mitzi, he was still learning about the Muiraran race, including that they were much stronger than humans. Because they were married in every sense, he’d taken on her attributes. He was stronger now, faster, and still getting used to it even after seven years of marriage. If he hadn’t been so in love with her, he wasn’t sure he could have handled the truth of her origins. Now Vale was to share a similar experience, and he had to be willing to do it. That worried Asger, since his younger brother was more stubborn than he was. His yes meant yes and his no meant no, and once he made up his mind there was no going back. If this situation called on Vale to bend, would he do it? They finished dressing, left their chambers and headed to the king and queen’s private sitting room where most family meetings were held. They, of course, knew what Mitzi was, but Vale hadn’t been informed. Telling him he’d have to get married was one thing; informing him what he’d be marrying was quite another.

He hoped Dallan MacDonald didn’t press him too hard. For one, without another Muiraran around, how could he prove anything? Their camouflage instinct was involuntary. Mitzi had no control over hers, and Shona only with her husband’s help. When around humans, they naturally looked like one. But get them in a room of other Muirarans and the change was instantaneous. “Fluxing,” they called it. Asger ran his fingers through his hair. He supposed he could have Mitzi pick Vale up and toss him across the throne room … “Wipe that smirk off your face,” she said. “Someone will think you’re up to something.” “We are up to something.

I just wished we had more to work with. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could time travel like Dallan and Shona? It would make it easier to convince my brother of what’s expected of him.” “Maybe Dallan will drop Vale down wherever he needs to be and let nature take its course.” He stopped them in the middle of the corridor, halfway to the sitting room, and looked into her eyes. “I know we like to jest about the details, mijn liefje, but this is very serious. My brother may refuse the Time Master and his match for him. My worry is, depending on how much Muiraran blood this woman has, will she die because of his refusal? Will he?” She took a shuddering breath. “Good point. I didn’t mean to diminish the seriousness of the matter.” He took her by the shoulders.

“I know. But we have to remember that lives are at stake. It’s convincing Vale that will be hard.” She somberly nodded.

.

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