Michaela had never seen such wide shoulders on anyone before. The dreadlocked Kalquorian was the epitome of the word ‘huge’. All muscle, he made her feel as fragile as crystal waiting to be shattered.
He bowed as Korkla introduced him. “This is my Nobek, Michaela. His name is Raxstad.”
Raxstad straightened and smiled. “I hope I do not frighten you.”
She smiled back in self-defense. Be nice to the big Kalquorian ape-man and maybe he won’t swipe your head off your shoulders, she thought. Her heart pounded fit to jump out of her chest.
To cover her unease, Michaela said, “Your shoulders are almost as wide as you are tall. You’re like a damned gorilla.”
Raxstad’s brows lifted. “I am not familiar with the term ‘gorilla’.”
Crap, he probably thought she was insulting him. Michaela curled a little into herself. “It’s a big animal. Not as big as you, but pretty big. Strong too,” she added, hoping he’d take it as a compliment.
Raxstad crouched down before her, putting his face on the level of hers. His features were broad, almost to the point of being brutish. His face matched his body. Michaela would not have called him handsome, but the Nobek was certainly a compelling sight.
The fierceness of his face eased with the smile he gave her. Something loosened in her chest to see him look at her with warmth. “I am intimidating you, little one. Is this any better?”
Govi hurried to add, “Only Raxstad’s enemies need fear him, not lovely little Earther girls.”
But I’m not really a girl, Michaela’s mind whispered. She was only a pretender, an abomination of a human. These men had come to Plasius to clan a woman, not a freak of nature. She’d teased them with her dancing, making swaying promises with her body that it could not uphold. Now they looked at her in a certain way, as a fully female creature. She had lied, not with words but with the dance. They did not truly know what it was they looked upon.
Michaela drew in on herself again, tears filling her eyes. A sob tumbled from her lips.
The three men moved in close as their faces registered alarm. Korkla’s arm closed around her waist. Raxstad’s hands covered hers where they clutched at her glass of shel. Govi stroked her cheek with a careful hand.
The Imdiko coaxed her gently. “Easy, Michaela. It’s all right. We only wish to talk to you tonight. Nothing else.”
No release date set.