Kaen threw back his head and sighed deeply. He had been unutterably bored and restless during the interminably long formal dinner, finally excusing himself between the meal and wine courses. It was a breach of etiquette that earned him glances of rebuke from the members of the Fe'nix and L'yn-d-sy Houses, but they said nothing. That would have been more unpardonable.
It wasn't until he saw the figure outlined against the darkening sky that he realized he had been following a psychic siren call. He had known Kara instantly. Her essence had been imprinted on him at their first and only meeting and he could no more forget the feel of it than he could his own name.
Then she had turned and mental shields had swung into place. Suddenly bereft of her psychic presence, he had been thrown off balance. Her cool, polite voice had given no hint of her feelings. She had treated him with all the formality and correctness his position demanded; the proper response of a dsk to Head of House. But they weren't dsk and Head of House.
He had lied all those years ago. He had known the instant he'd first seen Kara there was elska between them. He had been unprepared for the overwhelming force of the connection. It had felt as if L'u-cif-er Da'anil Kaen were being swallowed up, was disappearing into Kara's personality. It had terrified him.
He had been trained from birth to his duties as Head of House. He had been bred to succeed at those responsibilities. From his earliest days, he had known his own importance. While his father's heavy hand had kept Kaen from becoming insufferably puffed up, he was used to being deferred to, to being in control. He'd lost all semblance of control the moment Kara had stepped into the room.
When his father had informed him an invitation of shthor had been proffered to House Ka'al, Kaen had simply nodded his head in acquiescence. Each Head of House needed a partner at his side. His father would not have offered the invitation to Ka'al if it were not an acceptable House.
Kaen chuckled to himself, but it was a sound without mirth. At seventeen he had been convinced he knew the ways of the universe. He'd been involved with how many women by then? Four? Five? At the time of the interview with Ka'al, he'd been seeing an older woman, an Avononian pilot. He could barely remember her face now, but then, he remembered, he'd been planning on continuing the affair after the marriage with Ka'al was contracted. House marriages, at least House L'u-cif-er marriages, were for business and genetics. Pleasure was taken elsewhere.
He hadn't even dreamed of elska as he'd waited for the candidate to appear. Elska wasn't real his age mates had assured him.