Kara packed her last robe and closed the case with a sigh. She would be leaving Estate L'u-cif-er within the cycle. Alone. Ilith would remain with her affianced and his family. L'u-cif-er Da'anil Kaen and Be'eth Maran had officially announced the Choice at the end of the prior evening's meal. Backstairs gossip had it that L'u-cif-er Be'eth Zhazar had surprised De'enth Us'guin Ilith to tears when he presented her with a bouquet of blómlegur, her favorite off-world flowers. Kara had not been present and Ilith had not spoken to her since, an odd behavior that both puzzled and hurt Kara.

There had been no surprise at the announcement only disappointment well-hidden. Be'eth Zhazar's preference had been quite obvious. The Families had been quietly preparing to leave for days now. Kara had messaged De'enth Us'guin Debor to expect the official announcement from House L'u-cif-er immediately after her conversation with the Heir.

Kara sighed again. House De'enth would be lonely without Ilith. All the wedding preparations would be handled by House L'u-cif-er. Ilith would not return to House De'enth until after she was married. There was still the Heir of De'enth at home, but he would be leaving for the Main House for training soon.

Mentally Kara shook herself. This was not a time for sorrow. Ilith had made an excellent match. There was affection on both sides and she would one day be Ladye of Byshen's premiere House; provided Kaen did not marry and provide an heir.

Kara pushed that painful thought aside. She could be proud of herself. She had met Kaen again and handled the occasion with dignity. There was no fault to be found in her behavior. She ignored the conscience that protested she had used her position as dsk to hide from him after that one accidental meeting.

But, she argued with herself, he did not seek me out either. He accepts our roles and behaves as is correct. She tried to make herself believe that was what she wanted.

A knock on the door interrupted the futile attempt. "Dsk Kara?" said a voice Kara recognized as belonging to one of Ilith's maids. Before she had completed opening the door, the maid had launched into her message. "House Daughter asks that you serve her in the library immediately."

Kara nodded in acknowledgement. "Of course," she said. But the maid had already hurried away. Kara followed at a more leisurely pace, wondering what Ilith would want of her that she would not summon her to the privacy of her rooms.

She stepped into the library. The warm spicy scents of kanill, krydda, múskattré, engifer, and viska assaulted her senses. The smells of the desert she loved. Lost in the sensory banquet, she didn't at first notice the man standing in the shadows of the room. When she did, her breath caught and she stepped back. But it was too late, the doors had slid shut behind her, blocking her escape and trapping her in the library with L'u-cif-er Da'anil Kaen.

She sought refuge in protocol, bowing. "Head of House," she said in a voice that barely trembled. "How may this dsk serve you?"

She felt him moving toward her and fought the instinct to run. She had thought she had made herself indifferent to him, but here, in this room, with the overwhelming force of his personality battering at her mental barriers, she knew she could never be indifferent to him, never cease feeling the elska between them.

He had stopped in front of her, his black slippers in her view. She wouldn't look up, couldn't look up. Then he said her name, "Kara!" A wealth of pain and longing were in the strangled cry. She lifted her eyes. The golden eyes held her as they had so long ago. Only this time they were open, free of shutters, pleading with her. Her shields fell before the onslaught of his need. No words were necessary. They had become one. The past wasn't forgotten, but it was forgiven.

Long moments later they pulled a handbreadth away from one another. "Kara, minn ást," whispered Kaen, his breath warm against her forehead. "I warn you, my love, I have no patience to wait for all the preparations of a large ceremony. We will be wed tomorrow."

"Wed!" Kara pulled out of Kaen's arms, looking at him with mingled horror and astonishment. "Kaen, I can't marry you!"

Kaen held her by the shoulders and stared into her face. "Kara, we've spent too many years apart." She felt his fear through their bond, fear that she couldn't truly forgive him. She covered his hands with her own, willing her reassurance to reach him. "I can't live without you any more," he said.

"I'm a dsk, Kaen. You're Head of House, Head of House L'u-cif-er," she stressed. "We can't wed. It's not done. Your family would be ashamed of me. They might even--."

He stopped her words with a kiss that bound her to him physically, emotionally, and psychically. When she could both breathe and think again, she looked into his face. Kaen was smiling like a young boy. "I am L'u-cif-er," he said, "and we take what we desire. You are my desire. You are my desire, my love, and you will be my wife. Let all others beware."

Then he lowered his head to kiss her again, leaving no doubt that he intended to have his own way in this.

And that's it. Hope you've enjoyed it. If it all comes together, I'm hoping to set another story on this world soon. It seems like such an interesting place I want to check out more of it. ;) Thanks for reading.