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Dangerous seas and pirates lurking are only the start of their troubles. Forced off the boat with nothing but the clothes on their back, the crew and passengers make it to a nearby island, only to be abducted by the Knight Tribe, a clan of romantic warriors with a voyeuristic culture and a taste for nightly entertainment.
Get swept away in this dystopian erotic adventure, brimming with romance, spankings, and betrayal.
The hum of the engine died, and Aria heard the scream of unfamiliar words in a language she didn't recognize. Shots were fired in every direction forcing her to duck, throwing herself onto the floor of the ship.
James lay right beside her, covering Aria with his body, shielding her from danger. She didn't have the courage to ask what happened.
The warmth and security Aria felt from James vanished. A man covered in tattoos, his arms a canvas of ink, grabbed James by the arm and dragged him across the room. The second man accompanying him lifted Aria from the floor and escorted her up the stairwell. James walked just a few feet in front. The man dropped his hold on her as the passageway narrowed. A gun pressed into her back, a constant reminder of danger. Aria couldn't fight without risking her life. She hoped these men would steal what goods they came for and then leave.
Forced outside, the lifeboats were just a few feet away.
The sun began to set, and the sky twinkled like a sapphire without a cloud in the heavens. Even at dusk, beads of sweat trickled against Aria's forehead. Her black shirt stuck to her back, the cargo pants she wore were too hot for this climate. She didn't dare ask where they were; she didn't believe anyone would answer.
They were forced against the wall. Would the lifeboats even float anymore? The old luxury cruise liner's paint faded from years of sun exposure. What would it have been like fifty years ago, before the devastation and destruction that their parents created, taking a luxury cruise? She would never know. The Gem Apocalypse had resulted in a war with only survivors, no heroes.
"Move!" the man behind Aria said. His gun dug further into her back, and she pushed forward on James's heels. "Down!"
They got down onto the ground with the other crew and passengers. Six men towered over them with guns. Aria was unfamiliar with the weapons, as they were larger than the ones the guards carried at the palace.
"We'll be okay," James said as he sat beside Aria, reaching for her hand.
Aria wanted to ask him how he could know that without a doubt. Hope shrank like a beacon of light fading in the distance. These men were thieves. She could smell the treachery and greed from where she sat. How did they end up here?
Aria woke in his arms, her pulse pounded against her chest feeling as though it would leap out at any moment. The nightmares of her time at the palace had yet to cease. James had been kind and comforting. However, when they left the palace, she knew they were not safe, and each day their safety wavered.
The protection of the guards were gone. The rebuilding of a society was no easy task. Many were happy for the disillusion of the monarchy, but just as many blamed the princes, including Prince James. He was on the countries' hit list. Photos of Prince James were tacked to the market with a bounty on his head, worth more money than Aria could ever earn in ten lifetimes.
She didn't know how to keep him out of harm's way, except to leave. Molotov cocktails were thrown nightly through the palace windows. Stones were constantly battering the outside of the building. What would be next, an explosion, a bomb? They were buried in the farthest rooms of the palace, but they didn't feel safe.
Both of them leaving Brayleigh and traveling into uncharted territory was their only option. What would they find? Were there survivors after the war?
"You're shaking," James said and Aria gently pushed herself away, not wanting him to see the fear instilled in her. The palace still terrified her and though she hadn't spent a single moment in the royal harem or her old room, the smell of the building, the feel of the cold marble floor under her bare feet, she couldn't erase the memories either.
"I can't help it." It was a confession she hadn't been ready to admit, though she felt confident James knew already. Watching the guards die, Ethan's execution, her mother's murder, it all overwhelmed her.
Aria sat up in bed. James's hand rested on her back, moving in soft circles as his touch slipped under her shirt. She opted not to wear the nightgowns or dresses since the fall of Brayleigh. It had all been a reminder of the royal harem and her time as a courtesan. Aria knew she needed to move past it, for both their sakes.
"What can I do?" James asked. She knew he wanted to help, and she could hear the concern in his tone.
Aria shifted on the mattress, and turned to face him. "Come with me, far from here." Leaving the palace might save both their lives, or it could bring them closer to death. They would make this decision together.
James emitted a soft sigh as he considered Aria's request. It was not the first she had spoken of escaping the city, and he had to realize the danger he posed to himself the longer he stayed at the palace.
There were no guards, no police or military of any kind. Though the rebels were trying to instill order and form a new government, those things took time. A luxury they didn't have.
"If it's what you want," James said, "then we'll go." He sat up and pulled Aria into his lap. One arm wrapped around her, cradling her like he would a small child, the other fell to her thigh.
"Good." Aria leaned in and brushed her lips over his. "The boat leaves in three days, at sundown."
"Boat?" James asked, his lips against hers. He pulled back slightly. "We're really going to do this? Try and discover the rest of the world and what's left after the destruction?"
Aria took his hands in hers. "It's been decades, James. Besides, we're not going alone." A wealthy merchant funded the voyage, hoping to get richer by traveling across the sea, finding antiques.
"I'm in if you're in," he said, kissing her ear, his breath mingled against her neck as his hands skimmed over Aria's stomach.
This was supposed to be the safer option, leaving Brayleigh and starting over. They never imagined facing pirates.
James clenched Aria's hand and nodded in the distance. At first, she suspected he'd been pointing at the guard, coming up with a plan of attack, until she saw past the man and the strip of land with beaches that grazed the shore and trees shaded the sand. Before that moment, Aria doubted the ship would take them to inhabited land. It had been a gamble, but a worthwhile risk. Would they walk upon the sandy shores, or would their bodies wash up along the bank?
* * * * *
The pirates lowered them in the lifeboat tender to the water's surface. They were not murderers, even though they waved guns and threatened the hostages with bullets. The injuries sustained were from those that fought back. The pirates came for one thing: the ship.
Once the crew and passengers were no longer attached to the ship and drifted from the vessel, the engine of the lifeboat tender hummed as they powered it on and sped away to safety.
Behind them, the cruise ship horn blew. Were they mocking them? Waves tossed the small boat unsteadily as the vessel backed up and turned around, moving away from land. Where were they taking the ship? Who were those men?
From the distance, Aria spotted another boat, larger than the one they were on now, skirting alongside the giant vessel across the sea. The pirates must have used the boat to board the vessel.
Everything they brought with them was gone. The clothes Aria acquired at the market, the small supply of treasures they brought with them, they would likely never see again. James had paid a fortune for passage across the sea. So much for paying for protection on the vessel, seemed it did little good.
The sun fell below the horizon. An array of reds and oranges painted the evening sky. They needed to reach the patch of green in a sea of blue before dark. An older gentleman, a crewmember of the vessel, steered the boat toward land. Aria sat beside James, her hand tight in his. All they had were each other, nothing more.
If the pirates hadn't stolen the vessel, there would have been enough seed to plant crops should they find soil. Aria hoped wherever they ended up, there would be survivors, people that would offer shelter, help them cultivate the land, and they could be neighbors living among one another. It was a stupid dream with no basis for reality. A child's wish, nothing more.
The boat breached the shore, and they all stepped off, one-by-one. Aria's feet stumbled at first, after having spent months on the sea. She lost count of the days after two weeks.
Her feet sank into the white sandy beach. This land was no good for planting. They would have to wander farther inland at first daylight.
James took Aria's hand and walked with her toward the tree line. The reds and oranges faded. It would be night soon.
Aria stumbled in the dark. The captain of the ship rubbed two stones together. There was no fire, barely any light left. The moon not quite full but allowed them to find the sea and a place to sleep. Feeling only sand under her feet, Aria sat and reached for James. He was always within her grasp, trying to keep her safe. She no longer worried about the pirates or the passengers that were on their ship. The unknown concerned her. The question of when they would find fresh water. She wasn't nearly as worried about food. She knew how to fish and could teach the others, if they stayed together. She didn't know what James had in mind, and she wanted to ask him when they were alone without prying ears or watchful eyes.
James brushed up against her. Across the sand a flicker of light shimmered with a spark. The branches the crew collected simmered before catching.
"Looks like we have fire," Aria said and breathed a sigh of relief. They would need the fire tomorrow when they caught fish and wanted to eat.
James wrapped his arm around Aria's waist and she shifted, leaning into his warmth. The night air felt cool yet comfortable.
Her eyes fluttered shut. It had been an exhausting day. Behind closed eyelids, the fire roared to life. She could hear the sizzle and pop of firewood and the glow of daylight though it edged closer to bedtime.
"I could get used to this," James said.
Aria smiled and yawned, her fingers trailing across his chest. "We're going to have to. This is our life now."
"Before you get too comfortable," James said, nudging Aria. "We should move back closer to the trees. I'm worried the tide might come in while we're sleeping."
"Come on," he said and offered Aria his hand. She obliged, standing up and stretching. With ease, he pulled her farther from the group.
In the thicket of trees, James walked Aria up against a trunk, one hand on her hips, the other pushing her hair behind her ear. Her roots had grown out considerably on the journey, the dark tresses peeking through the blonde dye job she'd done with her short time among the rebels.
James leaned in, his lips brushed against hers. Aria's hands wrapped around him, tangling in the nape of his neck.
A branch snapped, causing James to pull back. He heard it too.
"Hello?" he asked, turning around.
Aria didn't see anyone. "Maybe they're just finding a place to pee." She half-joked. If they wandered over, were they trying to be a pervert and watch the two of them fool around? Aria wasn't crazy about giving a show of how she felt for James. She'd give him a private show, but that was all she was interested in doing.
James didn't say anything. He remained quiet, listening for further evidence that someone watched them. What could they do if they were being watched? Aria could barely make out the fire across the beach. They should be bathed in darkness and privacy.
In the distance, the sound of a horn escaped through the forest to the beach. The deep rich tone grew in intensity. The noise felt as though it emanated from the sky and fell down upon them.
"What do you think is going on?" Aria asked.
James gripped her hand and pulled her farther into the darkness from the flames. "We're not alone," he whispered into her ear.
A dart slammed into her neck, pierced the skin and drew blood. Aria quickly lost body function, unable to keep her eyes open or her legs standing. She grew weak, collapsing to the ground.
"Aria?" James's voice sounded frantic and filled with fear.
Through the air, Aria heard a shot whizzing by her ear. Was it an arrow? Her mind felt foggy, and she shut her eyes, no longer fighting the temptation to sleep.
* * * * *
The wind lulled against Aria's skin, cocooning her as she imagined herself swaying like a child on a swing. The sun warm and bright, woke her early. As her mind cleared from the drug in her system, she shifted trying to move, only finding herself lifted above the ground. Her arms and legs flailed as she sat up, falling onto the grass, tasting dirt.
Aria's stomach churned and as she moved to stand, she couldn't see a damn thing. Her vision grew black. She knelt back down, took a deep breath, and felt relieved when her sight returned. Though it didn't alleviate the nausea or the clamminess coated to her skin.
"Relax, Emerald," a female voice said. "The hammock is yours for today. I suggest you sit on it a little longer while you gather your strength."
Aria reached behind her for the green roped vines and pulled the hammock down, slipping back into the comfort of its cocoon. The soft rocking helped Aria feel better, at least for now.
"My name's Aria. Where's my friend, James?" Aria could only assume that if she was at this camp, then he must be too.
"The young man you were with? He's around, and resting with the others. We separate the higher gems until the ceremony."
"What ceremony?" Her heart skipped a beat. Who were these people and what was going on? "Where are we?" Aria asked. The forest surrounded them and if she listened, she could no longer hear the waves of the ocean pounding the shore.
"Relax," the young blonde said as she approached Aria. She carried a wooden cup, handing it to her. "Drink."
Her mouth parched, Aria eyed the liquid skeptically. "What is it?"
The young woman's eyes were a deep shade of chocolate. She rested a comforting hand on Aria's arm. Her touch was calming and Aria relaxed with a nod, pressing the cup to her lips and downed the liquid. It was sweet and warm and was exactly what she needed. Aria knew she should be cautious about what these people were giving her after last night, but what other option did she have? Did they not want them to find the location of the camp on their own? Aria had so many questions but as quickly as they surfaced, they floated away and she felt as though it no longer mattered.
"The commander will be here soon. Gather your strength for her questions."
Aria had plenty of questions that needed answering. She took another sip of the sweet nectar. "Where am I?" Aria emptied the wooden cup and handed it back to the girl.
"Amity Island," the girl said.
Aria was surprised for an answer, especially after being kidnapped and dragged off during the night. "What's your name?"
She paused, glancing behind her shoulder. "Kali," she said. "You're lucky, do you know that? To have green eyes protects you on our land. It's written into our doctrine; a rite of passage to become one of us."
Aria leaned forward, shifting on the hammock. The liquid helped her gather strength and stamina. "One of you?" She didn't understand what the young woman meant. "What happens to those without green or brown eyes?" Aria asked.
Kali shifted on her feet. Again she checked behind her, probably for company. "I should wait for the commander."
"Okay." Aria offered Kali a smile, trying to reassure the girl she meant her no harm. "Why did you bring me to your camp last night?"
Her shoulders relaxed and her eyes cast a look from Aria down to the earth. "My people brought you. Invaders of Amity Island are not welcome. Sapphires are the least desirable after they destroyed our world. They are the first sent in to fight."
Aria's stomach clenched. She pushed herself off the hammock, steady on her feet. "Fight?" she repeated, desiring more of an answer. James was a Sapphire.
"Good, you're awake!" a brunette woman said, wearing a thin strip of pink fabric that covered her most intimate areas. Her eyes were amber, and her skin sun-kissed, like the color of honey from a bee. "I'm Commander Sienna. Come with me."
"Where are we going?" Aria asked.
She didn't wait for Aria. Sienna already headed past her, and Aria hurried on after the commander. If anyone had answers about James, it would be Sienna. "Where's my friend that was with me, James? He's got brown hair, blue eyes�"
"That describes most of the invaders," Sienna said. She kept a brisk pace, and Aria rushed to catch up, wanting to hear every word from her lips. Taller than Aria, Sienna had longer legs which made her strides seem natural while Aria was forced to practically run to keep pace. "Relax. You will have time to see him again."
They wandered through the forest. Every tree looked the same to Aria. "Where are we going?"
"To the flat," Sienna said. "Our sleeping quarters are separate within the tribe. You were in Kali's habitat while you recovered."
Aria didn't dare ask where Kali slept the previous night, while she wore off the hangover from the dart they'd shot her with. She still didn't understand what they wanted with her or any of the people from their ship. Hesitant to ask, Aria wanted to give as little information to Sienna as possible. She didn't trust her.
"The first order of business is dressing you like the members of our tribe. You will thank us, especially as the heat of the afternoon sun shines down on you."
Aria swallowed nervously. Did Aria have to dress like Sienna? She barely wore any cloth as the bright pink sheer fabric wrapped around her intimate areas leaving her stomach bare. Kali covered herself like one might with panties and a bra, in stitched fabric. Flowers decorated her cotton undergarments. Neither option made Aria feel at ease.
"You don't speak much," Sienna said. She slowed as they entered the flat. Foot traffic stomped down the grass, leaving a clearing in the shape of a circle. Had they burned the forest intentionally, or did something else happen many lifetimes ago? At least six women sat under the shade along the edge of the flat, a man at each of their sides. "The show tonight will loosen you up. You'll be expected to choose a man worthy of warrior status."
"When can I see my friend that I was brought in with, James?" Aria asked. No doubt she would choose James tonight.
Sienna nodded and smiled. "Yes, the boy that won't shut up. Of course. You will see him tonight. I've assured him that you are being well-cared for." The commander turned to face Kali. She stood behind them, trying to keep her distance, though she never seemed too far away. Did she serve the commander? The ranks sounded military, from what Aria had read at the cottage, before she met James. She didn't know what to make of Amity Island. It didn't sound or look military in any way. "Kali, find our newest tribe member clothes, and walk her to the river. The girl needs a bath."
Aria's cheeks burned with embarrassment. The cruise ship they were on had a limited supply of fresh water. There had been enough to cook and clean dishes with, but frivolous usage to bathe was against the rules. James and Aria had joked about bathing together, but the shower was much too small. It barely fit one person; it wasn't possible for two to sneak in together.
* * * * *
Kali was kind enough to loan Aria what she called a bikini along with a ribbon dress. That was what the commander wore, typical for the ceremony that would follow tonight. Aria was expected to wear a ribbon dress as well. She didn't get to ask Kali if everyone would be wearing one or if she'd been lucky enough to stand out being new here.
The tribe was genuinely nice, providing Aria with nuts, berries, and fresh meat. Her stomach grumbled as she hungrily devoured every bite of food.
Drums beat and music surrounded the tribe. A bonfire sat nestled in the center of the clearing. They rested beneath the stars and if Aria craned her neck upward, she could see the heavens speckled in glitter.
The commander sounded the horn in three short bursts as she walked into the flat with the men and women from the ship, along with a few others Aria didn't recognize.
Seated in a circle of at least forty couples, Kali and Aria appeared to be the only two sitting alone.
Aria's heart quickened and she moved to stand up, to run toward James. He was five men deep, his sapphire eyes shined in the darkness. He looked hardened, stricken, and worried. Did the commander not tell him Aria was okay?
Kali sat beside Aria and reached for her leg, firmly planting her hand on Aria's thigh. She shook her head no. The time wasn't right. Aria tried to accept the tribe, their way of life, what this meant for their future. Most of it didn't seem so bad, but Aria couldn't know everything in the span of a day.
The sound of the horn wailed again and the men and women split off, forming two lines. Only now, as they grew nearer, did Aria see they had changed as well. The men wore no shirts, the women in ribbon gowns. James had a piece of leather, barely covering his most intimate area. Aria's eyes searched his, but he didn't look at her. What happened?
Kali leaned in. "The commander will let us each choose one man. Which is yours?"
Aria nodded toward James and Kali caught her stare. "He's cute," she whispered through the tribal music and pulse of the drums. Aria felt as though her heart would shoot out of her chest, like the wisps of fire sending ash into the heavens.
The commander raised her arms and the music and drums ceased. "I call before the tribe, Kali."
Her hand fell from Aria's thigh as she stood. She was slow to approach the men, and Aria's stomach clenched. Kali was first to choose. Would she betray Aria and choose James? If she did, what recourse would Aria have? Did James get a say in the decision? Aria didn't even know what they were agreeing to, but whatever it was, she felt safer with James at her side.
Kali walked by James, slowly glancing him over. She leaned in, whispering something into his ear. He smiled politely, but he remained tense. His muscles were taut, and he stood with his arms at his sides. Kali continued past James, and Aria breathed a sigh of relief while she chose a young gentleman that Aria didn't recognize. Had he been part of their tribe? Or had he discovered the island by boat? His skin was similar in color, a caramel rich complexion from the sun's rays, much like Kali and many of the other tribe members. Were they all born on Amity Island, or had others found the island?
Kali took the gentleman's hand and guided him to sit down in front of her.
"Let the ceremony commence!" the commander said.
Kali leaned in, kissing the young man, her lips on his, his fingers trailed through her hair and down her back. She pushed him onto his back and dragged her fingers down his chest before her hand found its way beneath the thin piece of leather separating the two of them. She aroused him. The head of his cock glistened from beneath the tiny bit of fabric. His fingers moved over her body, from her breasts down between her thighs. His moans were quiet unlike Kali, as she expressed every touch and caress that he provided. Untangling the blue ribbon from her lower region, she cast away the material, sliding down onto his cock.
Aria turned away, unwilling to look at what happened. Every other couple's eyes were on Kali and the man she chose. Is this what Aria had been expected to do with James? Her nerves were on fire.
Kali's moans grew feral, and Aria couldn't stop herself from watching the ceremonial unity between the two. She didn't understand it, but she knew it was sacred. It felt as though the world stopped to watch them. Kali's head tipped back and another moan slipped past her lips. She rode him, hard and fast, leaning down, covering his body with hers. There were kissing and moans, a heated combination as Aria found James's stare in the distance. He watched Aria. There was so much she wanted to say, but she didn't know how. Besides, now wasn't the time, she couldn't get up from her seat during the ceremony. The commander may not have given her specifics on what would happen between partners, but she did make it clear the ritual was important and not to be disrupted.
Beside her, Kali breathed ragged and the gentleman's moan was hardly above a whisper as they both came. Sated, they lay spent together on the grass.
"We welcome Kali and Deice to the tribe," the commander said.
"Welcome," the tribe members said in unison.
"Aria, please choose our final tribe member for this evening to complete our ceremony."
Without a second thought, Aria stood and walked straight for James. She grabbed his hand and dragged him from the line to sit in front of her.
He looked relieved Aria picked him. Why would she want anyone else? Aria leaned forward, her lips against his ear. "You look terrified," Aria said, keeping her voice so only he could hear her. Her tone soft, low, and comforting. Her fingers trailed a path down his back and across his arms. She wanted him to feel loved.
"I don't trust these people," he said against her shoulder as he kissed Aria's milky-white skin. "I trust you though, Aria, and you look�happy."
Why wouldn't she be happy? They were rescued on the beach. With a tribe, their numbers were greater. She'd seen huts to take shelter in when necessary and hammocks for sleeping. There was an abundance of food. This was the closest they'd come to paradise.
"I love you. Forget they're watching. They don't matter," Aria said. Her fingers trailed down his bare back. Every inch of skin and muscle glistened from the glow of the fire. Aria had seen what Kali did, and she knew what to expect. The commander warned Aria that she would have to choose wisely.
Aria's lips covered his as she crawled onto her knees and scooted over, dipping her hand beneath the small patch of leather. With her thumb, Aria circled the head of his cock, teasing him. The kisses refused to slow or waver as her fingers moved down his length. She didn't have to look to feel him grow beneath her touch.
His brow furrowed, and he looked conflicted.
With one hand, Aria continued to arouse him and the other planted against his chest on his heart. Though she didn't want to give everyone the satisfaction of watching the two of them together, she'd been given no choice.
"I love you too." His soft murmur teased her ear as he nibbled on her lobe. His fingers untied the purple ribbon gown, letting it fall from her breasts, exposing her to everyone. She no longer cared. Aria moved closer to James as his head leaned down and he sucked a nipple into his mouth. Her back arched, her pussy throbbed, and she felt him pulsate beneath her touch. She climbed onto James's lap, sliding down onto his cock, needing to feel him inside of her.
Aria shut her eyes, closing out the world around them as she focused on how James made her feel. Her insides trembled, and she dug her fingernails on to James's arms, gripping him to her. She didn't have time to go slow. Her body craved more and so she clenched onto him, riding his length faster and harder.
"Let me fuck you, the way you like, Aria."
Aria nodded and within a second, James had her flat on her back. They changed positions. He hovered over Aria. There were gasps and whispers, but she blocked it all out. His hips ground into hers, and she spread her legs even farther apart, leaving them wide and in the air as he plunged his cock into her. The angle, the sensation, it was all too much.
Her legs trembled, and James grunted from above. She wrapped her legs around him, dragging him tighter as warmth spread through her, forcing her toes to curl and her insides to clench down onto him.