Diplomatic Affairs (Dazon Agenda #3)

Curvy Ambassador Embeth Williams is on Dazonia Major to negotiate a peaceful solution for Earth and the Dazon Empire. She expected difficulties in her mission, but is blindsided by her attraction to Second Prince Ysaak Chon. He avoids her at first, determined to resist the mating flare, but soon succumbs. Falling in love is the last thing she should do on an alien planet while surrounded by potential enemies, but when negotiations break off, and war seems imminent, her alien lover is the only one who can get her safely back to Earth.

Each book in the Dazon Agenda series focuses on a different couple while expanding the overarching plot. It is recommended to read the books in order.

Excerpt

The pictures she had viewed during the three months she had prepared for this mission hadn’t done Dazonia Major justice, Embeth Williams realized as she stared out the window on the spaceship carrying her from Earth to the Dazon home world. Below her was a vast expanse of purple, green, and orange, with other colors swirled throughout.

Though she knew the scientific reasons behind such differences from Earth—different light wave spectrums, varying chemical reactions, and dissimilar mineral composition—that made it no less wondrous to be viewing the beautiful planet below her. The planet she was quickly approaching was so alien to her. Its vast difference from Earth only underscored how alien the planet was.

As though she had needed a reminder. She wasn’t likely to forget she was entering an alien world in an attempt to ensure peace between humans and Dazon. It was a precarious position and a fragile mission, and she wore the weight of it heavily. At thirty-three, she feared she was too young and inexperienced to successfully navigate the turbulent waters ahead.

However, her father, a consummate ambassador with a distinguished career, had personally picked her for the assignment and suggested her to his superiors. Warwick Williams liked to remind her she came from a long line of diplomats, and that she had a more personal stake in the negotiations than other ambassadors might.

After watching Elena suffer for years from Kaiser’s Syndrome before succumbing just a few months before Jorvak Ha had kidnapped all the Earth women with the disease had given Embeth a unique perspective. She didn’t suffer from the illness, so she wasn’t a biological match for the aliens, but she empathized with both sides.

On one hand, she was still outraged that Ha had kidnapped four hundred Earth women and experimented on them, creating several hybrid alien-human babies, and disregarding all rights of the women involved, and had yet to face any consequences for his actions.

On the other hand, she wanted the nanotechnology that could help women with Kaiser’s Syndrome, or any other illnesses for that matter, by keeping their symptoms in check. Her end goal was to find a way to help her people, and she knew she would have to concede certain points to the Dazon for that to happen. She was nervous, but optimistic, about her mission.

Damon Connors, her chief bodyguard, cleared his throat from the doorway to catch her attention. She looked over at him, tearing her gaze away from the ever-nearing landscape beneath them. “Yes, Damon?”

“The captain wanted me to tell you we’ll be landing in five minutes, Ambassador.”

She nodded her head. “Thank you.”

Damon inclined his head before leaving her without another word. He was a taciturn man, and careful with her security. It made him an ideal bodyguard, and she didn’t mind the lack of chatter. It was nice to be around someone who didn’t always feel the need to fill the silence. Working in the ambassadorial corps meant a great deal of socializing and pleasantries, including small talk which she had always endured rather than enjoyed.

As the ship began a steep descent, she shook her head to clear away silly, useless thoughts and focused on soaking up the view before her. From what she could observe, there appeared to be wild, untamed areas teeming with vegetation until they approached the city. There was a dome over the urban area, and she knew from her own research in preparation for the mission that it was to protect from the fierce lightning storms that raged on the planet half the year, rather than to seal in oxygen.

Their visit coincided with the other season, and the lightning storms were brief and infrequent this time of year. As the dome opened, and the ship slipped through, she briefly wished she was on the other side of the rotation, just to see the spectacular light show from the safety of the dome. It was rumored to be extraordinary, but she wasn’t slated to be there long enough to ever see it firsthand. The mission was tentatively scheduled for ten days, though she was flexible enough to know that could shorten or extend, depending on the outcome of the peace talks.

The ship set down gently, with barely a noticeable bump, and certainly nothing as gauche as a bang to jostle her. She was certain her luggage would be attended to by the Dazon or her own personal staff, so all she had to do was step out of the ship and meet the delegation sent to greet her.

Having received a thorough tour of the ship upon boarding that morning, before they folded, she was familiar with the layout and made her way to the exit doors. Damon fell into step beside her about a hundred yards from the open doorway, which was really the cargo bay doors opening and angling downward to allow their departure.

The closer she got to the exit, the clearer she could see a distinct solitary figure waiting for them at the bottom. He must be the delegate sent to greet her, and he was attractive indeed. Her heart gave a funny little skip when she got close enough to see that rather than the typical brown-gold eyes most Dazons had, this male had startling green. It was the color of old green bottles left to fade in the sun, but that description didn’t do him justice. They were far more vibrant than the color suggested they should be.

He was a little more golden than some of the aliens she had seen in pictures and met back on Earth and at the Moon’s consulate, but it only gave him a more magnificent aura. Like all the others she had seen or met, he had no hair on the side of his head, but he made up for it with a thick mane of brown hair atop his head, feathering down to bristly strands at his temples.

He had no eyebrows, but possessed a strong brow ridge and a patrician nose. She was unsurprised when he introduced himself as royalty a moment later, bowing his head at her in that gesture of respect she had come to recognize from Dazon males.

“Welcome, Ambassador Williams, to Dazonia Major. I am Second Prince Ysaak Chon, and I’ll be your guide during your visit.”

***

The ambassador’s picture hadn’t done her justice. Ysaak had felt a strange and unusual pull toward the visual representation of the woman coming to Dazonia since he had received the image a few weeks ago, along with her dossier. He had spent hours looking at her image, and he had been entranced by her.

Now, in person, he could see her lips were even fuller than he had expected, and her skin was more of a mocha than a caramel. Her hair, which seemed to be a rich brown in her pictures, was actually black in real life. It waved around her face and fell halfway down her back in a lustrous cloud that he wanted to bury his fingers in to see if the waves were as soft as they looked.

It was a strange reaction, and he almost flinched when she held out her hand. Instead, having studied as much Earth culture as he could over the intervening weeks since they had set up the peace talks, he recognized it as a common Earth greeting and took her hand to shake.

The first touch of her smooth skin against his slightly rougher palm sent a shockwave through him. His entire body stiffened, and all his senses seemed sharper. His erection, which had stirred to life at the first sight of the ambassador, was now hard and aching, pressing against his trousers in an indecent display of desire. He was thankful he had worn the traditional garb today, which included a long overjacket, though the formfitting suits the military and many other Dazon males opted to wear simply for comfort would have provided support and disguised his reaction as well.

The intense reaction frightened him, and it was as though a voice whispered in the back of his mind that she was his. No, whispered was far too tame of a word. The voice was shouting at him, hammering into his subconscious that he needed to claim this woman immediately.

This had to be what some males called the mating flare, a phenomenon for which he had more disdain than respect. It had to be a myth, and he had easily discarded the notion of such an instinct existing until that moment.

Realizing he was holding her hand too tightly, and she looked puzzled, and perhaps a bit alarmed, he immediately let go of her hand, dropping his to his sides and balling them into fists. “We welcome you to Dazonia Major and hope you will enjoy your stay with us, Ambassador.”

Her expression was calmer again, and she inclined her head. “Thank you, Prince Ysaak. I’m excited to be here and look forward to learning more about your culture.”

“As do I, Ambassador.” The formality of the moment helped restore his equanimity just as much as not touching her did. He would have to remember to keep distance between them and avoid any accidental touches.

He didn’t know what had come over him, but he wasn’t prepared to believe in some superstitious mating flare nonsense. More likely, it was simply because he had never seen a female approximately his own age before, and though she was an alien, she was still beautiful and exotic, and his body had given a predictable reaction. That was all there was to it, and there was no need to ascribe anything more to it.

He led her from the docking bay at the back of the palace through a long corridor of gray-tinged orangestone created from the soil of their planet hundreds of planet-cycles before. It had been fortified with metal polymers over the years that kept it sturdy and impervious to both attacks and the fierce lightning that ravaged the planet. With the addition of the dome roughly two hundred planet-cycles ago, weather was of little concern these days, but it was tradition to keep the palace as it had been for generations.

He pointed out architectural details and historical tidbits to Ambassador Williams as he led her down the corridor and up several flights of stairs. “I apologize for not having a levitator as Earthlings use,” he said when they started the third flight of stairs, and he noticed the ambassador looked a little flushed.

She waved a hand. “I rarely use the elevator back home anyway. Stairs are healthier for you.”

He inclined his head, making a mental note to tweak his translation program. The Dazons who were already integrating into Earth’s culture would have far fewer mistakes in their communication, because the translation program would adapt quickly when immersed in a foreign language. Having the ambassador here would help his communication device adapt faster too, but there were bound to be errors in the interim.

It was both a relief and a disappointment to bring her to a suite of rooms set aside for her use a few moments later. He was eager to flee from her proximity, though also strangely reluctant to do so. Something about the ambassador drew him in and made him want to be by her side. Again, he discarded the notion that it could be something as primitive as a mating flare. If Dazons had ever had such an instinct, surely it had been bred out of them in the last three generations during the genetic tampering necessary to reproduce at all, coupled with the lack of females, since only twenty percent of their population were women.

He bowed to her at the doorway. “If you’re well rested, we have a state dinner planned for this evening to welcome you, and you’ll meet most of the policymakers at that time. All of the High Council will be in attendance, along with some representatives from the General Council, and the Emperor and First Prince, of course.”

“I’m sure I’ll feel up to attending, Prince Ysaak. Will you be there?”

The question was innocent, but he was certain he wasn’t imagining the sparkle of interest in her eyes when she glanced at him. That the attraction might be mutual was exhilarating, yet terrifying. He had absolutely no experience with the opposite sex, other than his sister, Taleeza. She was only twelve planet-cycles old, and she was being groomed for her role as part of the breeding program. He rarely interacted with his little sister, and he had never met the woman who had been his egg donor.

There had certainly never been a girlfriend or any kind of sexual companion other than some light experimentation with other males in his youth. If she was attracted to him, she might expect things he had no idea how to give. It was unlikely though. After all, she was an ambassador on an important mission, and she wasn’t likely to be swayed by anything so rudimentary as a physical attraction. On Earth, men and women were roughly equal in number, so she wouldn’t find a male to be a novelty worth exploring.

Not that he considered her a novelty. She was exquisite and fascinating, but not because she was such a rare sight. He was certain if he had suddenly been dropped into a room full of thousands of Earth women, he would have sought out and found Embeth Williams automatically anyway. She drew him personally, which was alarming.

Realizing he still hadn’t answered, he inclined his head once. “Yes, I’ll be there. I’ll also escort you to the meeting room. Please settle in, and if you require any assistance, press this button.” He showed her the button on the inside of the doorway, but still didn’t step into her room. “I shall see you this evening, Ambassador Williams.”

“Thank you, Prince Ysaak,” she murmured and bent her head before disappearing behind the door as he pressed the button to close it. The hydraulic hiss was like a bomb going off and startled him though he had heard the sound a million times. He’d simply been so focused on her deep brown eyes and creamy mocha skin that he had lost the ability to focus on anything else.

Shaking his head at his own behavior, he turned and strode from the ambassador’s quarters, determined to deal with this unusual reaction. He had to completely shut it down by the time evening came around, and he was in her presence again.

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