If you can't be good, be careful
- Insufficient Mating Material is now available in bookstores in the UK
and Europe. Are any of you from Britain? If you sight Insufficient
Mating Material, I'd love to hear about it!
"Be good..." they say. "And if you can't be good, be careful!"
It must be almost impossible to be careful when all the worlds are
watching all the time, and not always sympathetically.
Princesses and celebrities have everywoman's problems, but their
problems are magnified a hundredfold by the telephoto lens of public
scrutiny. Everyone wants to know who they are seeing, what they are
drinking, what they did in bed and with whom, whether or not they are
A single alien princess might precipitate a constitutional crisis if
an unflattering camera caught her just as a breeze was bellying out
her bathing costume... especially if it was common knowledge that
she'd slept with a foreign terrorist for kicks.
Princess Martia-Djulia has all the problems of a youngest child (the
third child) but more so. It seems pointless to compete with her
brilliant older brother and sister. Until senility overtakes them,
they will always be older, wiser, better-read, more experienced, more
athletic, more powerful.
In a world of feudal primogeniture, the older she gets, the lower her
status. She is only interesting if she is scandalous.
Insufficient Mating Material's heroine was introduced in FORCED MATE,
where she got a great deal more than she bargained for when she
flirted with a handsome --and most unsuitable-- commoner.
She also went through her brother's private "stuff" and got caught,
did the gustatory equivalent of spiking the drinks at her brother's
wedding banquet, made a compromising video of herself in bed with a
tattooed stranger, and fell hopelessly in love with a hunk who was
honor-bound to marry someone else.
She makes her dramatic appearance in Insufficient Mating Material as
the Royal bride at an Imperial shotgun wedding. As she surveys the
throngs who have come to see her married to the mate of her dreams
(who has miraculously been relieved of the fiancee he intended to
marry and brought back to her) her happiness seems complete...
Never in all Great Djinn history has any Imperial Princess had such a
Mating Ceremony on such short notice, and to a mate freely chosen by
Princess Martia-Djulia savored her unique happiness. The second best
part was that she was going to get away with it. By taking an alien
and a commoner like Commander Jason to mate, she poked a defiant
finger in the eye of Imperial tradition.
âYouâre glowing,â her tall, grimly magnificent brother commented as he
joined her on the raised throne-stage and offered her the support of
his bent arm for the slow, gyring descent of the stage into the Throne
Room below the Imperial suite.
âIâve a lot to glow about,â Martia-Djulia retorted. She could have
made a barbed remark about how Tarrant-Arragon had tricked his own
cold, pale bride into saying the irrevocable Imperial Mating Vows, but
After all, Tarrant-Arragon had hunted down Commander Jason, and
brought him back to her.
Her thoughts returned to her Jason who shared her taste for subversion
and mischief-making. He was the Mate who would change her sad, lonely
life; her boring, bottled-up life. He was her rescuer, her lover, her
private hero, the warrior who made her feel young and beautiful, and
who awed the Fewmet out of her insolent, uncontrollable sons.
He was the only male in all the forty-two gestates of her life who had
ever given her an orgasm.
Martia-Djulia took a deep, happy breath as the last notes of the
Fanfare Royal drifted up from the balconies of the Throne Room, and
the Crown Princeâs throne stage â"its stark, craggy contours pleasingly
draped for the occasion in her favorite colors of dusk-sky mauve and
midnight-purpleâ" descended silently, like one of her brotherâs
deliberately placed chess pieces, only fortress-sized.
âI can hardly believe it,â she whispered to herself as she nodded
graciously to the crowd below. âIâm about to be Mated to the only
male who has the physical strength to pick me up and sweep me off my
feet, and the desire to do so.â
Tarrant-Arragon lifted an eyebrow at her.
âOh, when I think of Jasonâs passion--â she said, "When I think of how
violently he knocked the ceremonial headmask off an interfering
Saurian Ambassador, and of the wicked, sexual insults he threwâ¦.â
âYou liked that, didnât you?â Tarrant-Arragon teased. âBut, I hope
you donât expect your new Mate to pick you up, attack Saurian
Ambassadors, and hurl sexual insults in front of our distinguished
Martia-Djulia took in the carefully orchestrated tableau where she
stood on the stepped stage, waiting for Jason to make an entrance
through one of the Throne Roomâs soaring central portals.
What would he be thinking? Would he remember how they met at a
Virginsâ Ball in this very Throne Room? Would he mentally undress her
with his strange, dark-nebula eyes and notice that she looked better
than he remembered?
Surely, even a fashion hawk like Jason would approve of her sense of
style. For her second Mating, she could hardly usurp the pallor of a
Royal Virgin bride. She had chosen the subtle, shifting colors of a
fast-frozen sea, glittering with the palest, most precious gemstones
aligned in all the right places for the most flattering effect.
âThey all came back!â Martia-Djulia breathed, gazing out at the heads
of state, ambassadors, military leaders, and subject royalty who had
been hastily recalled, some before they had returned home after her
âOf course,â Tarrant-Arragon murmured. âOn occasions like this, no
matter how lofty the ceiling, it is never high enough, is it?â
The pentagonal Throne Room shimmered with the warmth rising from the
thronged guests. Massed body heat made the vast room a battleground
of assorted perfumes and less intentional odors that only Djinn
nostrils might identify.
Suddenly, Martia-Djulia was conscious of emerging mature notes from
her own signature perfume.
âTarrant-Arragon,â she whispered anxiously. âDid I overdo the Queen of
âYou seem to have put it absolutely everywhere,â he drawled, and
grinned, confirming that his Djinn-sharp olfactory senses were as
embarrassingly acute as those of a sea-predator.
âIâll let Jason lick it off,â Martia-Djulia quipped brazening out her
âIf heâs got any Djinn in him, he might find that joy a little
overpowering,â Tarrant-Arragon said.
Martia-Djulia felt a vague, fleeting apprehension. Was it a certain
enigmatic tone in her brotherâs voice? Something wasnât right.
Tarrant-Arragon had once threatened to kill Commander Jason if her
lover turned out to be of rogue Djinn lineage.
Why was Jason late?
Her anxious gaze searched the double avenues of ground-lighted, living
trees which flanked the four grand entrances.
âAh. The so delightful Henquist and Thor-quentin.â Tarrant-Arragon
jerked his head to indicate the upper level balcony where her two tall
sons leaned negligently on the elaborately carved stone balustrade.
âThey look pleased.â
Martia-Djulia smiled hopefully at her usually sullen, sulky sons,
until she realized that Tarrant-Arragon was being ironic.
âNervous?â Tarrant-Arragon asked mockingly.
Before she could retort, a loud fanfare made further conversation
impossible. The pentagonal room vibrated with the thunder of massed
war-drums. Colored plumes of scented smoke surged up and tumbled from
the Imperial throne-space, reminiscent of an ultraviolet tinted,
pyroclastic cloud. The Emperorâs throne-stage thrust up through the
smoke like a coldly gleaming, ice-volcano rising out of a swirling fog.
Her father, The Emperor Djerrold Vulcan V, appeared to stroll on the
pinkish-purple vapor trails, high above his guests. Martia-Djulia
tried to imprint on her memory every detail of this splendid, dramatic
âDear friends, welcome back,â the Emperor began with his customary,
affable menace. âYou are now here to witness the exchange of vows
between my younger daughter and her new mate. Since The Princess
Martia-Djulia is a widow, and a mother, and since this is her second
marriage, there will â"obviouslyâ" be no display of proofs of virginity.â
He pointed his Fire-Stone-Ringed forefinger around the room, his
guests shrank in their seats, and he smiled tigrishly.
âThere will come a point when my dear daughter will ask anyone who
objects to her choice of mate to speak out. Anyone who dares to do so
will be incinerated.â
Star-blue lightning sizzled and flashed from the Emperorâs finger.
Regrettably, her father had flatly refused to even try to
color-coordinate his laser ringâs fire for this one occasion.
âOut of consideration for your fellow guestsâ nostrils,â Djerrold
Vulcan V continued pleasantly, âI advise against any interference.
High above, another fanfare blared from long, deep-noted instruments.
The massive central doors at the far end of the Imperial throne room
âI kept my promise,â Tarrant-Arragon said quietly, ââ¦to bring back
Jason, if he agreed to come, or to find you a mate like your Commander
She wasnât paying attention, though it was an odd thing to say.
Unseen, a massed male voice choir roared out the Mating Anthem...
usually heard only once in a generation at the Mating of an Emperor or
the Emperor's male heir.
This, too, was her due. Sheâd been promised that her Mating would be
as splendid as the one she had organized for her big brother. And so
it was. Only prettier.
âHere he comes!â Martia-Djulia whispered, trembling.
A tall, broad-shouldered silhouette limped from the darkness beyond
His beloved, scarred face was a shadowed, distant blurâ¦ but something
wasnât right. Had Tarrant-Arragon tortured and starved Commander
Jason into agreeing to Mate with her?
âWhat is wrong with him?â she hissed accusingly. Time stretched out.
A sense of creeping horror chilled her vitals. âYou promised not to
Her thoughts raced back to three Imperatrix cycles ago.
She vividly remembered what theyâd agreed, just before Tarrant-Arragon
left to exact terrible revenge on the unknown villains whoâd tried to
assassinate him on his honeymoon.
I want him to be happy, sheâd protested when Tarrant-Arragon caught
her trying to erase compromising footage of Jason on top of her.
Jasonâs happiness hadnât been on her mind when she triggered the
Do you think heâd be happy with me if I force him to be my mate? sheâd
asked her brother, who had no scruples when it came to mate
No, Tarrant-Arragon had bluntly told her, dashing any lingering hope
that she could blackmail Jason into returning to her bed permanently.
At the Virginsâ Ball, Commander Jason had made it clear that heâd
rather be searching the rim worlds for his errant mate-to-be, but he
was on duty. Since he had to be at the Ball, heâd been in the mood
for a revenge dock in any bay that would accommodate him.
Martia-Djulia had only wanted illicit excitement â" until Jason gave
her so much, she wanted him to do it for the rest of her life.
âDid you force him? Did you torture him?â Martia-Djulia demanded
âNot really,â her appalling brother replied.
Something was wrong. Martia-Djulia's heart thumped. She clasped
nervous hands to her glittering breast, and glared in an effort to get
a better look at her promised Mate. At this distance, across the
Throne Room, it was hard to tellâ¦. Closer he came. Closer.
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Martia-Djulia.
Read her story in Insufficient Mating Material