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By ANITRA LYNN MCLEOD
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2011 Anitra Lynn McLeod
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhat Kerrick missed most was his hair.
Women loved his hair, and he loved women. A lack of locks would certainly curtail his flirting. All he had to do was tilt his head so that his golden hair fell across his green eyes and women couldn't help but reach out to push the strands away. When they did, he'd capture their wrist and kiss the palm of their hand, which inevitably led to kissing their lips. His signature move worked every time. Of course, he didn't need to flirt with the women he would encounter today.
As Kerrick entered the Harvest room, he barely noticed the elaborate decorations or the paintings of his predecessors. The sacrifice table riveted his attention. Hundreds of beautiful women adorned in finery lay supine, all of them waiting for him. Below his codpiece, his cock was hard and ready. He didn't miss the hair down there so much, as shaving made everything seem bigger. Sadly, he couldn't feel a thing. He was as rigid as the blade at his side, but estal oil blocked all sensations. A drink called umer would keep him hard but unable to orgasm. The nasty burnt wood taste of the elixir still lingered at the back of his throat. Had he known all of this, Kerrick might not have bothered to become the Harvester. What fun would there be in claiming the virginity of all the young women in the land if he couldn't feel a damn thing?
Of course, it was too late to turn back now.
After the last Harvester had selected his bondmate, Kerrick stepped forward, claiming the right to proceed in his place. None of the other recruits challenged him. Kerrick was newly arrived, but he'd been in training his whole life. Even seasoned recruits were not as muscular as he was. Nor did they possess his skills. For a moment, two or three considered challenging him, but in the end, they shook their heads and moved aside. They'd decided a fight to the death wasn't worth it. After a hasty indoctrination, the magistrate took him to the massive double hung doors of the Harvest room.
"Tell me now if you're going to select a bondmate so that I might ready the next Harvester." Ambo Votny seemed annoyed and flustered. "You're the third Harvester this season, and I'd rather like to stop running back and forth between here and the training rooms."
Kerrick assessed the elderly, rotund man. Several chins quivered as he spoke and exertion flushed his skin a deep, bluish red, as if his entire being cried out for air. Underarm stains ruined the grandeur of his silver uniform. One more pass from here to there would probably result in the man's death. Kerrick longed to take Ambo's position as magistrate, but killing him with exercise probably wasn't the best way to get there. Besides, Kerrick would need more than a brief stint as the Harvester to garner enough pull among the elite to ascend to such a powerful post.
Calmly, Kerrick insisted, "I have no intention of selecting a bondmate this season or next. I will be the Harvester for as long as I can."
Ambo released an overwrought breath. "Thank the gods!" He flicked his fingers at the guards. "Open the doors."
Several places down from the north end of the table, Kerrick spied his first harvest. His boots boomed on the Onic tiles as he strode toward her. Freeaal! The damn things sounded like a stampede of boulders! He tried to walk softer, but his stride made no difference in the pounding of his boots. Several of the women noticeably flinched at each booming echo.
When he reached the first sacrifice, he took a moment to assess the woman who would be his initial harvest. Her round, ebony face was serene, as if she didn't mind waiting most of the day and half the night for him to arrive. Her fine features were cute rather than beautiful, but her eyes were the most amazing mix of brown and green. When he placed his hands upon her knees and parted her thighs, she smiled up at him with such joy he couldn't help but smile back. Her yellow-green robe slid off her legs, exposing slender thighs and her tender sex. Glistening drops of estal oil clung to her tight, brown curls. Out of the many pheromone-laced scents in the air, he pinpointed hers and breathed deeply. Only the truly innocent women had such a compelling essence.
In Cheon, he'd been careful to keep most of his conquests to the iniquitous women, those too jaded by love to take his flirting beyond a fleeting tryst. The innocent ones always broke his heart, for they believed they could tame him no matter how many times they'd seen other women fail. Always, they thought they were different. He'd flirt with them, he'd tease and torment their beautiful bodies, but he'd leave their virginity intact.
Frustrated when this lovely virgin's scent did nothing to his cock, for it was utterly without sensation, he took another deep breath to consider later when all the drugs had worn off. Hers was a scent he would never forget. Gently sliding her forward, he placed her left foot on the hilt of his sword and lifted her right foot up, so that her leg was almost straight against his bare chest.
In the ancient words, Kerrick said, "By might of the blade I claim that which belongs to me."
With a lilting voice, she returned, "I freely give myself to you."
Her gorgeous gaze held steady with his, as if she would brand herself into his mind. In that moment, he wished he could do more than just speak a few words and follow the exacting rules of the ritual. He would like to know her name, her history, what touches she liked, and which she didn't. Women fascinated him. Sadly, his duty limited his contact. With a sigh, he lowered his hand and slid the codpiece aside. Thick and numb, his cock sought the heat of her sex. He tilted his hips forward and plunged fully within. Estal oil eased his entry but deadened all tactile sensations. He felt slight pressure, and she apparently felt only fullness, for she didn't even wince. He withdrew, lowered her leg, and helped her from the table.
Her astle robe swirled around her calves as she exited. With the ritual complete, she was now a fully recognized citizen. One thrust took her from child to woman. She could now own property, bond with a mate, and have children. To celebrate her new standing, her family would likely shower her with gifts at a huge feast.
His paratanist approached. Hidden behind a beige robe with an enormous cowl hood, his personal servant tended to his needs. At the moment, she cleansed and anointed his cock for the next sacrifice. When she finished, she bowed and backed toward a small niche in the wall.
Kerrick wondered what the robe hid. He knew she was a woman, but as to age or appearance, he had no idea. Idly, he wondered what would happen if he pulled her hood back to examine her face. During his hasty indoctrination, when the magistrate introduced him to her, he warned that Kerrick couldn't touch her, only she could touch him. Right after, Ambo shook his head, and said, "Don't touch it, a paratanist is a sexless servant, nothing more." However, the truth was out. The servant who caressed him so intimately was a woman. As to why Ambo seemed to have such a grudge against her, that was as big a mystery as what she looked like. Kerrick thought of violating the rules, but then decided soothing his curiosity wasn't as important as remaining the Harvester. He wouldn't do anything to jeopardize his position.
Turning his attention back to the sacrifices, he lost himself in the sheer multitude of women. Tall, short, thin, heavy, all different skin colors from the palest milk to the richest ebony and every shade in between. Their eyes went from small and glowing pink to enormous and black as night. Slender noses, wide noses, pug noses. Sweet smiles, shy smiles, lusty smiles. All were beautiful in their own way. Each was unique, special, and memorable. Even though he couldn't feel anything, it didn't matter. He was their first. They would never forget this moment, and neither would he. Pressed into the pages of his memory, each lovely lady would be his for a lifetime.
When he reached the south end of the table, he almost slumped with relief. He'd enjoyed every moment of his first Harvest, but the act of cleaning and oiling his shaft so many times would undoubtedly result in some rawness tomorrow. Still, he felt an enormous sense of accomplishment. Whenever he completed a task he set himself, he felt a rush of pride that he'd proved his father wrong. Kerrick would make something of himself. Becoming the Harvester was just the stepping-stone on his way to becoming the palace magistrate.
His paratanist knelt beside him, cleaning and oiling his shaft yet again. Perplexed, he pointed out, "There are no more women."
In a droning, sexless voice, she said, "You have sacrificed all the virgins, now you will mate with the Harvester."
Mate? Kerrick considered all the ramifications of that particular word. Moreover, he was the Harvester. Kerrick considered himself a kinky guy, but mating with himself wasn't quite what he had in mind, not after a day of denied orgasm. Then he realized she was speaking of his female counterpart. In all the tales he'd heard about the Harvest, he'd never heard that the male and female Harvesters mated afterward.
"I won't be bonded to her, will I?" He better not be. His understanding was that he would remain the Harvester until he chose his own bondmate or a recruit challenged him in a fight to the death.
"You will find your satisfaction with her rather than by my hand." Finished cleaning him, she applied a thicker oil over his entire genital area.
Did he detect a note of disapproval in her tone? Digging deeper behind her words, he asked, "So, the male and female Harvesters haven't always mated after the Harvest, then?"
"You will be the first in thousands of seasons."
Was it just his imagination or was feeling returning to his shaft? Her light strokes were causing zinging pleasure bolts across his entire body. To distract himself, he focused on what she'd said. "Why am I the first in a long time?"
"I know not. All I know is the living god decreed this return to the most ancient of prophecy."
Kerrick had a feeling more questions would only prompt more questions. Life within the palace was a source of great gossip within his region of Cheon; however, he had no firsthand knowledge of anything. For all he knew, everything he considered fact wasn't. As he allowed his paratanist to undress him, he began to realize he might have placed himself into a position of forced servitude. He'd always thought the Harvester had power and a certain level of freedom. After this his first day, he was beginning to realize he labored under strict protocols, rituals and apparently, appeasing a living god.
Of course, it was too late to turn back now.
Once she'd stripped him bare, his paratanist slathered oil from his head to his toes. Sensation returned to his form followed by curious warmth. His balls felt heavy and full. If he didn't find release soon, they would ache unbearably. When he questioned his servant, she admitted the oil counteracted the estal oil and umer drink. This was to encourage him to mate.
Such longing possessed his body he didn't think he needed any encouragement at all. When he saw this woman, he'd have to refrain from mounting her without preamble. Within him burned a need to bury his shaft and thrust until climax released the knotted tension in his body. He wouldn't just mate with her; he'd fuck her in a frenzy of lust. Briefly, he wondered what she looked like, but decided it didn't matter. He'd jump anyone right now to take the edge off. Besides, if female Harvesters were notorious for anything, it was their astonishing beauty.
Deeming him sufficiently oiled, his paratanist led him to the double hung doors of the Harvest room. As she pushed them open, he wasn't sure what he was expecting, but certainly not what he saw. Hundreds of people lined the massive hallway. Deep jewel-toned clothing proclaimed them high-ranking members of society. As he followed his servant, they eyed him critically but remained silent.
Crazy, wild, or dangerous stunts had always appealed to Kerrick, but he'd never been on display like this, not nude, hard, and filled with raging desire. Without the drugs to cushion him, the unique smell of each woman he passed heightened his need for release. Clamping down hard on his cravings, he wanted to order his paratanist to make haste, but he didn't dare speak. He worried that if he did, they would have to start all over again, and he didn't think he could bear one more moment of delay. His tormented body needed satisfaction now.
Endlessly the hallway went on and so did the spectators. He had no idea what the population of the palace was, but it seemed all of them were jammed into this corridor. Men and women alike ogled him. His bouncing, swollen cock seemed to command their attention. If questioned in detail, most of them would not be able to describe his face, but they could illustrate every feature of his genitals. And it wasn't just the women who showed lustful interest. Several men licked their lips and slid a hand down to grasp bulges between their legs. What his grandfather said was true; the elite were a lusty bunch.
At an elaborately carved Onic door, his paratanist paused and placed her hand against a metal plate near where a doorknob should be but wasn't. The door swung open. Ducking inside, Kerrick breathed a sigh of relief to be away from prying eyes. Dust swirled in the air, causing him to sneeze and wonder if they'd only recently cleaned this place. If the Harvesters hadn't mated in thousands of seasons, it made a kind of sense that they would have to renew the chamber where they mated, for, of course, they wouldn't just fornicate in some back room. This wasn't sex for the sake of pleasure; this was sex for the culmination of an ancient prophecy.
Kerrick followed his servant down a long, dark stairwell. At the bottom, another paratanist waited beside a smooth metal door. His paratanist nodded to the other one and simultaneously they placed their hands on the door. When it swung open, they motioned him inside.
"Noganth a nogonth," he said, using what he thought was the classic battle cry of the Tandth people. Roughly translated, it meant to have glory, one must have guts. Or perhaps it was no guts, no glory. He couldn't remember exactly as he'd spent his time on Tandth racing down ice-shrouded mountains on a single piece of carved timber. Afterward, he'd burrowed below thick animal furs with lusty natives. Usually three of four robust women at a time joined him. What they lacked in amenities, they more than made up for with generous hospitality.
With a deep breath, Kerrick stepped into darkness.
As the door closed behind him, lighting crystals flickered to a soft, golden glow. Upon a circular bed, which took up almost the entire circular room, lay a woman. Clinging astle sheets of the blackest black he'd ever seen molded to her long-limbed body. Her hair, also black, teased around her regal face, then blended into the covers so that she appeared to lay entwined in her own tresses. Apparently, they didn't shave the female Harvester bald. Without conscious thought, his gaze wandered to the juncture of her legs, and his penis throbbed in response. Covered in downy black hairs or bare, either way, he couldn't wait to uncover her sasalan. Literally translated, the Plenetin word meant "secret treasure." He took a deep breath and all he could smell was her. Rich and sweet, her essence caused hunger to gnaw at his belly and balls. He wanted to taste her, then fill her. Sheer force of will was the only thing that held him back from pouncing on the bed, yanking the covering away, and mounting her. So provocative was her essence, she stripped all others from his mind.
Her skin complemented the blackness of the room, making her seem paler than she was, but he couldn't quite place the tone of her skin. Not white, but not caramel, more like between the two, like the color of the noisseur tree: white with a hefty dollop of brown mixed in. Truly, she possessed lovely skin. What he could see of her face and arms was flawless. Her hands were large but finely boned with delicately tapered fingers. Short, no-nonsense nails spoke of her practicality, while her twice-pierced ears spoke of her boldness.
Slowly, her gray eyes opened, pinning him to the spot. He'd never seen such a cold gaze. In that very second of considering him, he felt she'd probed his history back to his childhood, judged him as unworthy, then dismissed him entirely. If he had hackles, they would have bristled. After meeting thousands of women in his lifetime, he'd never encountered one who so utterly disdained him.
Excerpted from SINFUL HARVEST by ANITRA LYNN MCLEOD Copyright © 2011 by Anitra Lynn McLeod. Excerpted by permission of APHRODISIA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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