Ferrix froze. Her scent filled his nostrils, distinct, like no other smell in the universe. Her mix of spicy musk from her arousal tightened his pants around his groin. Kat’s body pressed up against his, and she wrapped around him. She was curvy, but Ferrix had never been intimate with a human female.
“No.” Ferrix shook his head and gently pushed Kat from his lap.
Her brows furrowed, and a slight pout puckered her succulent lips. Her beautiful eyes were blue as the sky, her dark lashes fluttering as she blinked. “I don’t understand. I’m volunteering to be your mate, and you’re saying no?”
His heartbeat quickened. His body reacted to Kat, but his mind overruled the connection for pair bonding with this human. “I’m sorry, but that’s not an option for me.”
Kat’s face fell, and her eyes welled up with tears. “Why?”
Ferrix didn’t want to hurt her, and he hated how her eyes watered with unshed tears, but he sensed her thoughts about her mate when they’d entered her chambers. “We mate when we share a true connection, and mating is not something we take lightly. You are bonded to another.”
“I’m bonded to another,” Kat repeated incredulously. “Is that what you sensed in my mind? If you mean Rick, we are not bonded.”
“You were thinking about him. I understand you’re lonely, but pair bonding is for life.” His heart hurt, and Ferrix recognized the sensation, a human feeling, sadness.
“Do you realize how intrusive it is to me? My thoughts belong to me!” Kat yelled. “I don’t know how things work on Erion, but we ask if we want to find out what someone is thinking on Earth!”
Ferrix considered it. “If you had a mate, you shouldn’t come onto me, not if you belong to someone else.”
Her shoulders slumped. Kat shook her head as she got off the bed. “I’m sorry if I embarrassed you.”
Ferrix rose to his feet. “This isn’t your fault, just a misunderstanding.”
Kat swiped at her eye and turned away from him. When she turned, he caught a whiff of her distinct aroma again. Her scent drove him crazy, and he couldn’t think straight, like a drug, and he couldn’t get enough. The power it took him to say no to her nearly consumed him.
“Wait.” Ferrix reached for her, but she stepped around him.
She wrapped herself in the towel again. Kat grabbed the clothes draped over a bench in front of her vanity. She was a silhouette in the doorway, and the sunlight from the window cast a halo around her. Then she darted from the room. A few minutes later, a door slammed with a force that could wake someone up on Erion.
Kat was gone, and Ferrix’s heart was still aching.
Nin stormed into the bedroom. “What’s going on in here? I heard a female voice downstairs and then a door slamming. What happened?”
Ferrix shook his head. His neck muscles bunched up, and his jaw clenched.
“Ferrix, explain what just happened.” His brother’s gaze locked on his, and there was no escape.
“Kat offered to be my mate, and I turned her down.”
“Why? Why would you do that when that’s what we’re here for?” His brother was staring at him like he was crazy.
Ferrix sighed. “I explained that since she is bonded with another, I cannot take her as my mate.”
Nin’s eyes widened, and he stared at Ferrix in disbelief. “What? We’re here to save our planet, and there’s a connection to this human female.”
Ferrix didn’t like the situation, but there was no way out. Erion men sometimes shared a mate, but that never interested Ferrix. “I’m sorry, but this wasn’t the way I expected this to go. I think Kat is the one, but she has bonded with someone else. The timing is not right for us to pair bond.”
Nin shook his head. “You’re so resistant to everything that isn’t indecision and self-doubt. Your very nature is rigid. The time is rarely right, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.”
Ferrix tilted his head. “What do you mean?”
“Do I have to spell it out for you? You’re almost as dense as Xavi. Perhaps it isn’t their custom on Earth to mate for life. I doubt Kat would offer to be your mate if she was happy in her pairing.”
Ferrix sighed. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.”
“You must adapt to their mating rituals, even if they are strange. Or you’re never going to find a mate.”
Ferrix ran a hand through his hair. “I mean, she’s attractive and seems to be lonely. I don’t understand human females. They’re such complex creatures. I’ve felt a strong connection to her, and I can sense she feels that way too. This pair bond complicates my intentions.”
“You should go after Kat. Apologize to her and tell her what you told me.” Nin leveled him with an icy silver stare.
“I’m not going to interfere with her bonding with another.” Ferrix realized that he was pulling the moral high ground card.
Nin sighed. “You haven’t been on Earth for long, but I can tell you’re not thinking straight. It would help if you talked to her, and maybe she will tell you more about her bond.”
His brother’s silver eyes focused on him. Ferrix’s body was hot and uncomfortable, but he knew Nin was right. He would have to learn the ways of Earth women to court Kat.
“Let me put this another way. What would you do if you found out your true mate didn’t want you?”
Ferrix thought about it. The thought had crossed his mind more than once back on the ship. What if he found someone and they didn’t want him back? What if he offended Kat so badly that she wouldn’t want to be with him? “Would I have to honor her decision?”
“Not when you’re meant to be together, not if she’s your true mate.” Nin paused, letting his words sink in. “Would you give up without at least talking to her?”
Ferrix stiffened. “I am honor-bound to do what is right.”
“If you don’t do something now, it may be too late. Go find Kat,” Nin explained. “Talk, and see where it goes.”
Ferrix took a step toward the door. “I’ll go, but only to apologize and make sure she’s okay.”
Nin nodded. “Yes, of course.”