Playboy Tellan knows other races consider his people spoiled and arrogant, but he’s determined to put aside fine sheets and elegant meals in order to search for a mythical Domidian elixir for his ailing sister. He’s also smart enough to realize he’ll need help staying alive in the unsettled wastes of the Empty Quadrant. Enter Jorant, an intimidating Atavaq who’s been genetically modified to be the perfect soldier. On the run from his past, Jorant accepts the task of protecting Tellan as they venture to a planet populated by tentacled monsters and space pirates. As they search for the potion, Jorant realizes his Domidian client isn’t as helpless as he’d assumed, and Tellan is intrigued every time the taciturn bodyguard speaks. Will their unexpected attraction to each other survive the dangers threatening to destroy them?
Enjoy a behind the scenes exclusive from The Essent Quest
Jorant and Tellan’s Truth or Dare
By J. J. Lore
A clean bed, a full belly, and a securely locked door. Not to mention a warm, naked man sprawled next to him. Jorant sighed and luxuriated in the comforts. He and Tellan had survived numerous perils and were now on a ship, heading for Domid, planet of sophisticated amusements and great wealth. What would happen once they arrived, he didn’t know, but as a warrior he knew how to enjoy his down time and not go looking for trouble.
Tellan stirred and sent a firm arm scooting across Jorant’s abdomen. His Domidian partner was very tactile, something Jorant wasn’t used to in bed mates. Before it had always been pleasure, sleep, then on to a mission.
“Tell me you napped, at least.” Tellan pressed his face to Jorant’s arm and rolled closer. “You don’t need to be alert constantly anymore.”
“I did sleep.” The admission cost him nothing, and gained him a kiss on his shoulder.
“Of course you did. You needed to recover your strength after the vulgar demands I put upon you.” Tellan peered at him with a smug expression on his fine features. Jorant pressed his lips together so as not to smile back as some recently awakened part of his heart urged.
“I am strong.” Thinking of all the meanings underlying the word, Jorant sucked in a breath as his cock swelled under the light sheet covering him. “I’m ready.”
Tellan’s eyebrows lifted. Light from the dimmed illuminators above the bed highlighted the defined muscles of his chest and arm. Jorant wanted to touch again, wanted to feel Tellan’s body strain and shake against his own. “That sounds promising, but I’m not sure if I’m fully recovered.”
A gentle way to say he wasn’t ready for more sex. Jorant appreciated Tellan’s polite ways, much more so than the gruff demands or rejections he’d had from others in the past. “We can rest.”
Tellan sat up abruptly and Jorant suppressed his instinct to scan the room for a threat. They were safe here, safe for the first time in many days. “Let’s do something fun. We’ve been under so much pressure, it would be nice to relax.”
Sex and sleep were all the relaxation Jorant had ever needed. “What fun?”
“Admit or act.” Tellan’s face lit up like he’d said the most clever thing
“How is it enjoyable to list the crimes we’ve committed?” Domidians had strange notions, Jorant was learning, but this was taking matters to an extreme. He’d always had a reason for the things he’d done, but he didn’t want to shock Tellan with some of the more violent episodes.
With a chuckle, Tellan shook his head and scooted even closer to Jorant. He let his fingers drop to Jorant’s chest and move lightly, almost as if he didn’t realize what he was doing.
“Not crimes, nothing serious. This is a child’s game. You decide if you’ll tell me the truth when I ask you a question, and if you decline, you must accept a dare from me.”
What an odd way to be entertained. “I’ve always told you the truth.”
With a sigh, Tellan leaned down and brushed his lips against Jorant’s cheek. His cock stirred again.
“I know that. This isn’t a test or a way for me to trip you up. Just amusement.” Tellan’s voice was soft and low in Jorant’s ear, further enhancing his overwhelming sense of well-beining. He was glad Tellan was so near, so he could catch his musky scent.
“Then go ahead. Dare me to do something.”
Tellan laughed. “You would choose that. I already know you’re brave. I’d rather learn something new about you. You are so mysterious.”
With a frown, Jorant considered this. He’d always considered himself a simple man, all his traits obvious to even a casual observer. Not interesting. But Tellan leaned against him, studying him as if he was simply fascinating. “Fine. Ask a question. You won’t be entertained.”
Tellan licked his lips and narrowed his eyes. “Have you ever been in love?”
Jorant had been prepared to list how many men he’d killed, or how many lovers he’d had, so Tellan’s question confused him. “What do you mean?”
Tellan leaned over him and prodded his shoulder. “You know what I mean. Love. Finding someone who you’re willing to sacrifice for, wanting to share with, not be separated from.”
“You mean like a personal contract?” Jorant had heard of such things among Creig warriors. Men would find like-minded fellows and bunk together, aim for shared postings. Of course, if the Masters decided to separate them, there was nothing the men could do about it but leave each other. A little pang of sadness intruded in Jorant’s mind as he considered how difficult that must have been.
“More emotional than that, I think,” Tellan rested his hand on Jorant’s chest. He could probably feel Jorant’s heart beating at an increased rate. “Have you ever been thrilled to be near someone you just signed a contract with? Thought about them constantly?”
Jorant shook his head against the soft pillow underneath it. He’d never paid much attention to how he felt about anything, other than whatever might motivate him in a fight or find the will to continue a painful training session. He’d always assumed his genetic modifications had dulled such impulses. “No, I’ve never experienced that. Have you?”
“Is that the question you want me to answer? I was hoping you’d dare me.”
JJ decided not to include this scene in the book
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