The room’s door slid closed with a politely quiet hiss, cutting off the fine view. With a happy sigh, Tasha turned to face Jessica. Her royal cousin was waiting to be noticed, her expression grumpy.
Tasha couldn’t imagine why Jessica would look at her as if she’d done something wrong. The empress was an admirer of nice buttocks herself. Tasha cocked an eyebrow. “What?”
Jessica’s scowl deepened. “I never thought I’d say this, not in a trillion years. But when are you going to start acting like your sister?”
Tasha blinked. “Like Cissy?”
Tasha’s twin Cecilia was cheerfully acknowledged as the family’s wild child. Daring in manner and words, brash to the point of rudeness, Cissy was unapologetically loud and never stinted in offering her honest opinion. Even being recently clanned to men known for their outstanding credentials and impeccable manners hadn’t calmed the sometimes cruder Salter twin. The more demure ladylike Tasha had often felt bad that Cissy was compared unfavorably to her, but the comparison never seemed to bother Cissy.
To be told Tasha needed to be more like Cissy was a rare occurrence. Tasha couldn’t wait to tell her twin about it.
Jessica darted a cautious look to Noelle. The little girl had slid to the floor and was absorbed in making her doll hug a plush ronka toy. She seemed to take no notice of the conversation as she made quiet conversation with her playthings, her low voice punctuated with giggles.
Even with Noelle distracted, Jessica kept her voice low as she chastised Tasha. “You are getting a reputation, Ms. Casanova. A different man every week. Not entertaining the clans you’ve been matched to.”
Tasha sat up straight. She tried to not sound defensive. “Not true. I just came from spending an afternoon with a potential clan. It was our third encounter.”
“They were nice.”
Jessica’s expression told Tasha she already knew the score. “Uh huh. When do you see them again?”
Under Jessica’s gaze, Tasha shifted uncomfortably before she could stop herself. She made herself sit still and smoothed her skirt. She stopped when she realized that was yet another nervous gesture. She was giving herself away too easily to her shrewd cousin and she knew it. What she didn’t know was how to make herself stop.
Knowing the excuse was lame, she started to say, “Well, I’m not sure they’re right for me—”
“Just as the gossip says,” Jessica interrupted. “The few times you do spend time with an available clan, you see them once and never again. And it’s not conversation you’re indulging in.” She gave Noelle another quick glance to make sure the little girl wasn’t trying to follow along.
Tasha also checked before defending herself in a low tone. “This isn’t Earth. I’m allowed to have all the fun I want. Who says I have to settle down anyway?”
Releasing April 2016