TIME SEEMED TO vanish while we rushed about to get dressed and made the final touches. As I checked myself over in the mirror a heavy knock announced the men's arrival. Everyone froze for an instant and stared at one another, giggling like silly sixteen year olds. My anxiety vanished replaced by super excited butterflies. The others seemed to feel it too, Loi and Kassie hopped with excitement. 'Sssshh!' hissed Sian when she headed for the door and we assumed poised faces. I could feel the hysteria rise in my chest as I focused on the door and not on Loi, who shook with suppressed laughter. The hilarity dissolved when we watched the men enter. They wore what must be their formal uniforms and looked amazing. I'm sure I just gaped at Alek for a good few minutes. The uniforms were black double-breasted collarless blazers and slim straight leg pants. Silver accentuated the black with three bands on either wrist, a stripe down each leg and on the front edge of their blazers. Even the row of buttons fastening the blazer were silver. A red epaulette on each shoulder and black leather ankle boots finished the look. Being the Royal member of the guard, Alek had a sash added to his uniform. Caught at the epaulette on his left shoulder it came across to his right hip and was red with bands of color in the middle.

ALEK SMILED DOWN at Cat, who hadn't spoken a word for several minutes. She looked beautiful. The green dress showed off her figure to perfection and the color looked stunning on her. He felt a sudden pang of nerves. It almost made him laugh, of all the things to make him nervous it was the woman who stood before him.

THE OTHERS CHATTED and made their way out of our room while Alek and I still stared at each other. I listened as their voices grew faint then arched an eyebrow at Alek and broke the silence. 'So?' I spun in front of him. 'Whatcha think?'

His dark blue eyes fastened on mine as he stepped closer. 'Beautiful. Indescribably so.'

I flushed in pleasure. He reached out and gently traced his fingers from my forehead to chin making me shiver. Then he tipped my chin up and ducked his head to mine. The intense kiss made my head swim. Feeling me sway, he tightened his arms around me, deepening the kiss.

PULLING AWAY, HE held Cat for a moment before setting her back on her feet. Then he led her to the long seat at the dresser and placed a jewelry case in front of her.

I STARED BLANKLY at the large velvet case he'd set on the dresser surface. 'What's this?'

He smiled. 'Open it.'

SHE GAVE HIM a look of concern and bit her lip. Then she reached, picking the case up and eased it open. Sucking a breath in she gasped at its contents. Alek felt thrilled. He'd seen several sets he thought she might like, but Sian had said this was the one. The look on Cat's face told him she'd been right. Unable to resist any longer he demanded, 'Do you like it?'

I TORE MY eyes away from the glittering stones in the case to find Alek regarding me. His expression read pride, hope and a teensy bit of doubt. I got all teary and laughed. 'Yes, yes. Alek,' I paused as I looked down at them again. 'They're beautiful.'

He laughed with obvious relief and delight. 'Oh good. I was sure you'd like them.' He reached out and lifted the necklace, draping it around my neck then fastened it. We both stared into the mirror, admiring the effect. I slipped the earrings on. I don't think I'd ever seen anything like these pieces before and I'd certainly never owned anything like them. The most extravagant pieces of jewelry I owned were the beautiful gold leaf earrings I'd left on Earth and the amber ring Elena gave me. But these pieces I wore. Wow. They took my breath away.

The necklace was crafted from what looked like blackened silver. It was made up of pieces that were shaped into twists, resembling leaves and at the mouth of each curved leaf sat a vibrant purple, faceted amethyst. The leaves gathered together to create an inch wide band. At the front, more leaves gathered so it widened into an inverted triangle. From the tip of the triangle a large teardrop cabochon amethyst hung. The entire necklace glittered with amethysts. The earrings were each a twisted leaf shape, with an amethyst dangling from it. I touched the necklace gently, feeling the edges of the leaves and the smooth, cool surfaces of the faceted stones. I really wanted to take it off so I could study it but knew we didn't have time. Twisting around on the seat until I faced Alek, I knelt. Because he sat on the bench seat too it meant that my collar bone was at his eye level.

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