Pacing the confines of her quarters like a caged animal, Raina Hays struggled to calm her racing thoughts and ignore the ache deep inside her body. Her agitated steps took her through the compact sitting area then around to the workstation. The door to her bedroom was open, but the restlessness seemed to intensify in there so she continued to circle the outer room.
She’d come to the Citadel three weeks ago, angry and filled with resentment. She’d been brought to this star system against her will and thrust onto a life path she found degrading and hopeless. But Nadis, her mentor, had been patient and kind. And more important, Nadis had accomplished the things expected of Raina and found happiness and fulfillment in the role.
Raina had started to accept the changes, to imagine herself as part of this world. And then the dreams had come. They were indistinct at first, impressions and swirling images that left Raina confused and agitated. The images grew more graphic with each passing night. The sexual elements didn’t bother Raina. She’d always enjoyed sex and had been curious about new experiences. It was the other scenes, bondage and discipline, some harsh and painful. When the dreams turned dark, she always woke up wet and aching for something she didn’t quite understand. Why would she long to be controlled, dominated, and humiliated? Those impulses were in direct opposition to her personality.
It was late, or actually early, but Raina desperately needed to talk to someone. She could and would speak with Nadis in the morning. But that didn’t ease the unrelenting ache right now.
Raina sat down at the workstation and activated the access terminal. Would either of her cousins be up? Flora had been here the longest. She’d experienced everything Raina feared and more. Flora was likely snuggled between her two mates, warm and content after their most recent bout of lovemaking. Raina shook her head. It was still hard to believe that Flora had two mates.
Altorian mating practices were just one of many changes Raina was expected to accept. It didn’t matter that she’d been raised on a different planet with very different ideas of how males and females should behave. She was Altorian by birth, and Altorians with paranormal abilities formed power triads, two males and one female.
An audio pulse would disturb Flora’s mates and Raina didn’t want that. She wasn’t even sure if Flora was here at the Citadel or at their estate on Altor. Instead, Raina opted for a telepathic ping. It was one of many skills Raina had learned since coming to the Citadel. If Flora was awake, or sleeping lightly enough to be awakened by the ping, she would respond with a holo-comm. If there was no response, Raina would comm her in the morning. Or later in the morning. Midnight had come and gone several hours ago.
Sighing heavily, Raina rested her head back against the seat. She’d spent the first twenty-five years of her life in Alaska believing she was human. She’d had an ordinary job and a few casual friends. She’d lived with her grandmother and two sisters. At least Raina had been told that Flora and Cara were her sisters. In reality, they were her cousins. Raina shook her head. It didn’t matter. Learning the truth didn’t make her love them any less.
A musical chime sounded, alerting Raina to an incoming comm. She accepted the transmission with a wave of her hand. The system was in sleep mode or the alerts would have been verbal. Sleep, deep dreamless sleep. What a wonderful concept. She just hadn’t achieved it in days.
Flora’s image appeared on the wall in front of Raina and she cringed. With sleep-blurred green eyes and tousled auburn hair, Flora had clearly tumbled out of bed to answer the telepathic ping. “What’s wrong? I was having a really good dream.”
Feeling even guiltier than before, Raina took a deep breath and assessed her condition. “I’m pretty sure my power is activating.” Raina’s mystic energy had been bound when she was a child. She’d needed to blend in with humans so everything that made her Altorian had been contained so her abilities would never manifest. Unfortunately, the woman who’d constructed the containment died five years ago and the shields had been deteriorating ever since.
Flora’s eyes widened and the sleepiness instantly vanished from her expression. “What are your symptoms? How bad have the urges gotten?”
“Waves of heat and disturbing dreams, achiness, restlessness. The restlessness is the worst.” Her legs bounced, proving her point. “I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin.”
“Can the vibrator I gave you still get you off?”
A hot flush crept up Raina’s neck, but she knew Flora had a good reason for asking. Once Raina was fully in the grip of bonding fever, only her mates would be able to bring her to orgasm. “It’s starting to take forever, but so far it still works.”
“Nadis said you’ve narrowed the candidates down to six. Do you favor any of the teams over the others?”
Raina swallowed hard. Flora was not going to like the answer. A rare and extremely powerful ability ran in their bloodline. They were both ‘conduits,’ from a long line of highly prized conduits. So Altorian males with powers equal to Raina’s had formed teams of two and then applied for the privilege of mating with her. The system might be efficient, but it was not at all romantic. Raina felt like she was assessing a business venture, not choosing the males who would father her children and spend the rest of their lives at her side.
“I don’t like any of them. There’s no spark,” Raina admitted. “No… tingling in my lady parts.”
Despite the seriousness of the situation, the phrase made Flora chuckle. She recovered quickly and asked, “Have you been in physical contact with any of them? Sometimes it takes a touch or a kiss to get things started.”
Raina shook her head. She didn’t want to get things started. She didn’t want to bond with a team of ambitious males determined to control her magic. The Citadel was a training facility for those with paranormal gifts. In this star system such people were divided into three categories. Sources were the wellspring from which elemental magic flowed. However, for the most part they couldn’t control their own abilities. That was the job of controllers. The name said it all. Controllers were ultra-aggressive males who kept the others from being consumed by raw power. The last category was the conduits. Magic flowed through conduits. Conduits guided and shaped the energy. The most powerful conduits, like those found in Raina’s family, could transform one element into another, fire into water or water into air. This was called power exchange and was the most coveted of all abilities.
“I’ll start scheduling in-person outings with each team,” Flora was saying. “If your power is activating, we don’t have time to start over.”
Flora was focused on the applicants, but Raina had an entirely different idea of how to solve the problem. “What if there’s someone that I’m attracted to but he hasn’t submitted an application?”
Confusion knitted Flora’s brow and she scooted closer to the camera. Judging from the room behind her, she was here in the Citadel. “Who are you talking about? Does he have paranormal abilities? Is he attracted to you too?”
She needed to believe that the attraction was mutual because she didn’t want anyone else. “It’s forbidden for him to indicate that he is attracted to me, but I’ve seen how he looks at me.”
“Forbidden?” Flora’s eyes widened as she sucked in a breath. “Are you talking about Cylex?”
Raina didn’t answer immediately. Flora didn’t seem pleased by the idea. Clearly, Raina needed to handle this carefully. Until a few months ago, Cylex was a spy for Emperor Jevara, their sworn enemy. One of Flora’s mates had been instrumental in recruiting Cylex to their side, but it didn’t look like Flora was a fan.
The idea of having two mates no longer upset Raina. In fact, she found it intriguing. As long as the males were good with sharing, why not enjoy the attention of two devoted mates? And from what her cousins said, their mates were demanding, but also protective and determined to make them happy.
Raina could easily imagine that sort of future, but only if Cylex was involved. Together they could choose a third, someone that would fit in well with their personalities. But she didn’t want to start the process without Cylex. The first time she’d seen her handsome bodyguard, her entire body had flushed, and her panties had grown so wet she’d had to change them. And the weeks since only made the attraction more pronounced. He was smart and skilled, protective and valiant. How could she even think about bonding with anyone else when she was in love, or at least strongly infatuated, with her bodyguard?
“Can’t we at least find out if he’s interested in me?” Raina asked hopefully. “I know he qualified as a source with strong controller instincts. Maybe I don’t even need a controller if Cylex can fill both roles.”
Flora pressed her hand to her throat and shook her head. “How long have you felt this way? Why didn’t you say something to any of us?”
“I didn’t realize how much I wanted him until this urgency set in. I think he might have triggered it.”
Flora just sat there in stunned silence, staring somewhere off camera. Her expression was so complex that Raina couldn’t even guess what her cousin was thinking.
After a long pause, Raina asked, “Do you know where Cylex is? Another security team has been on duty for the past few days.”
“He’s on the same mission as Cara.”
Raina felt her jaw drop, so she snapped it shut. “Cara is on a mission? How did that happen? Her mates just claimed her. Why aren’t they off on whatever passes for a honeymoon around here?”
“It’s a long, involved story, and I’m sure Cara will want to tell you all about it herself. Suffice it to say that it’s all connected and Cylex’s past association with the Torretians was essential to their success.”
“Is it dangerous? I know Cara is part of a triad now, but she’s just begun to explore her abilities.”
“You don’t need to worry about Cara. She’ll be just fine.”
Raina nodded, but it bothered her that she was always the last to find out anything. She was the youngest of the three cousins, but they were separated by weeks, not years. “Can you at least tell me where they went and the basic nature of the mission?”
“It was a rescue mission to Torret. Jevara kidnaped Cylex’s little sister. That’s why he was involved. They got her and a rebel operative out safely and they should return in the next six to eight hours.”
Raina accepted the information with a nod. “I’m glad everything went well, and I’m glad they’re on their way back. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to wait.” She didn’t even want to think about what her life would become if Cylex didn’t want her.
“I need to talk to my mates, find out if this is even an option.”
“All right.” Raina pushed back from the desk as the restlessness surged again. “I’ll see if I can back this off again. Give us enough time to investigate the options.”
“Try meditation as well as the other,” Flora suggested with a smile. Then her expression turned serious and compassion warmed her eyes. “If Cylex is who you really want, I’ll help you fight for him. The way conduits are treated is wrong and we need to do something about it.”
“I agree completely, and thank you.” She deactivated the comm-link with a wave of her hand and slumped against the seat back. She’d fight like hell for what she wanted, but only if Cylex wanted it too. Flora hadn’t been given a choice in who claimed her. She was very much in love with them now, but her claiming had been traumatic. The same was true with Cara. She’d ended up with a team that made her happy, but their courtship had been tumultuous, to say the least.
Raina went to her bedroom and crawled onto the mattress. She folded her legs in front of her and rested her hands on her thighs. Often when she entered into a meditative trance, her body went limp, so she always made sure there was enough room behind her. Hitting the wall with the back of her head was an abrupt way to end meditation.
She closed her eyes and tried to center her mind, but Cylex’s image formed instead. His features were rugged, yet well balanced. Messy dark hair framed his face, accenting his electric blue eyes. Tall and muscular, he looked lethal, yet somehow made her feel safe. He was a continual distraction even though he was faultlessly professional. His apparent disinterest made her fantasies even more erotic. Hays females were known for their stubbornness, and Raina was no exception. Tell her she couldn’t have something and that was the first thing she’d want. And she wanted Cylex in the worst way.
Lying back with a frustrated sigh, Raina draped one of her arms over her eyes. Because the Citadel was a space station, the passage of time had to be simulated. Audible pulses and different colors of light synchronized everyone’s circadian rhythms. The dawn pulses would sound in approximately an hour and Raina had yet to fall asleep. A long, ragged sigh escaped between her lips. She had been in this star system for two months now. Both of her cousins had been claimed and were members of bonded triads. They commanded extraordinary power and seemed genuinely happy. She didn’t begrudge them their happiness, but it made her feel useless and forgotten.
Raina’s biological parents had tried to auction her off shortly after she’d arrived. She’d been like a terrified animal, lashing out violently at anyone who got near her. Their solution was to allow her mates to tame her and the fastest way to find her a set of mates was to put her up for auction. She still couldn’t believe women were auctioned off in this ‘advanced’ society.
Thank God Flora and her mates had stepped in and prevented the auction from taking place. They were Raina’s legal guardians now and they had hoped that she could complete her primary training before she was claimed. Well, she was out of time. Her Altorian Fire was ready to burst free, and she would have to choose her mate or mates before that happened.
Raina’s core pulsed and a slow rush of heat curled through her body. There was no denying what she was feeling. Her body was preparing to be claimed. Claimed. It was such a harsh, animalistic word. Making love was supposed to be soft and tender. Wasn’t it? Her sex life back on Earth, what little there had been of it, had been hopelessly vanilla. She’d been curious about the darker, more intense forms of pleasure, but surrendering control of her body required trust and the only one she trusted was Cylex.
Surrendering to her unfulfilled longing, she unleashed her imagination. Cylex arched over her, his weight resting on his forearms and knees. His handsome face hovered over hers, blue gaze burning with desire as his warm breath teasing her parted lips. He would draw her arms above her head and pin them to the bed as his other hand skimmed over her breasts and belly.
Who do you belong to, Raina? Who will you always belong to?
She imagined his deep voice as clearly as if he’d actually spoken and her smoldering senses caught fire. She drew up her sleepshirt, baring her breasts without actually undressing. She still wore her panties, but the wet fabric clung to her needy flesh. It felt decadent to lie there with her body half exposed, but it wasn’t enough, not nearly enough. Her fantasies had become unbearably vivid over the past few days. Her skin felt electrified, nipples especially sensitive. It was almost as if Cylex were really there touching her, wanting her.
You, Cylex. Only you, her mind-voice whispered. She drew up her knees and rotated her legs outward, parting her thighs to better expose her pussy. Cool currents of air drifted over her soaked panties. She pretended it was his fingers.
You’re so wet. Does this tight little pussy want my cock?
The graphic words made her shiver. A male as gruff and fierce as Cylex would be a dirty talker. There was no way around it. God, yes. I want you now.
Too bad. You’re going to wait, because I want to taste you first, and I’m in control. He flashed a wolfish grin and kissed his way down her body. It had been over two years since someone went down on her and she’d fantasized about the pleasure often. She could almost feel Cylex’s lips pressing against her belly. Then the tip of his tongue eased between her folds and lightly stroked her clit.
Moaning helplessly, Raina slipped her hand inside her panties. Her folds were soaking wet, her clit swollen. She rubbed the sensitive nub and rocked her hips. Please, Cylex, push your cock deep inside and fuck me hard. Each time she imagined being taken by Cylex, he had taken her fast and hard. He controlled her completely, forcing her to orgasm over and over while he pounded into her with his long, hard cock.
“Sorry to interrupt, pet,” a deep, yet whisper-soft voice mocked. “I don’t have much time.”
She gasped and sprang up in bed, quickly pulling her hand out of her panties. Her translator implant provided his words in English, but there was an odd cadence to his speech. For a millisecond, the intrusion blended with her fantasy and her desire-drugged mind didn’t register danger. Then she turned her head and saw the male who’d spoken. He was little more than a tall silhouette, yet menace gleamed in his eyes.
Sucking in a breath, Raina prepared to scream. She didn’t know this male.
“Be silent.” He infused the command with compulsion and her throat tightened until she was incapable of making a sound.
He grasped her upper arms, his long fingers nearly encircling her biceps. She struggled, kicking wildly as he pulled her off the mattress. She twisted and punched, but none of it did any good. And through it all not so much as a squeak escaped her paralyzed throat.
Changing tactics, she frantically looked around to see if she could knock something over or do anything that would prompt security to check on her.
The intruder drew her to the center of the room, then wrapped his arms around her. Confusion combined with her fear making her feel week and helpless. How the hell had this creep gotten into the Citadel, much less her bedroom? Everyone knew she was a target until she was claimed. Thus the reason for the bodyguard and all the other security measures.
“Do not struggle or I will punish you severely when we get to my ship.”
Ship? No fucking way was she getting on this guy’s ship.
She redoubled her efforts, pummeling his chest and arching her back.
He slapped her ass hard then fisted the back of her hair. “Stand still.”
Instantly, her muscles seized and she couldn’t move. Was this freak a vampire or something?
The surreal thought ricocheted through her terrified mind as reality faded to black. She didn’t lose consciousness, but it felt similar. Her surroundings narrowed, blinked out for a moment, and then a new scene came into focus.
She stood in the middle of an unfamiliar ship. Larger than most shuttles, the ship had ten forward-facing seats as well as an enclosed area in the aft. There were two rows of four seats with a narrow aisle down the middle, as well as two seats in the cockpit area. She stood in the space between the last row of seats and the enclosed area when her abductor finally released her hair. After glancing around to get her bearings, she focused on the stranger.
Tall and lean, his body exuded strength without appearing brutish. His features were angular, cheekbones sharply defined. Blue-black hair fell to his waist, a red cord spiraling from the nape of his neck to the end of the shiny strands. His skin was light gray with just a hint of blue. And those eyes. There were four concentric rings rather than three and each was a different shade of blue.
She slowly licked her lips and cleared her throat. Her vocal cords vibrated so she asked, “Who are you? Why are you doing this? Where are you taking me?” She paused to see if he’d respond. Even though he said nothing, she finished her thought. “How did you get into my room? The energy field should have blocked a transport beam.”
He paused for a long tense moment, gaze boldly assessing her from head to toe. Then he walked to the front of the ship and sat down, all without uttering a word.
Her heart thudded in her chest, heat spiraled through her abdomen, and her nipples peaked beneath the soft material of her sleepshirt. Not now, she lamented. One of the disconcerting things she’d discovered about herself since leaving Earth was that danger excited her. No, dangerous males excited her. She crossed her arms, confused and embarrassed by her body’s inappropriate reaction. She didn’t care if he looked like he’d strolled off the pages of the vampire erotica she loved so much, he’d kidnapped her! The last thing she needed was to battle her overactive imagination.
Think, Raina, her inner voice urged. His back is turned, his attention fixed on operating the ship.
Could she smash something over his head and—and what? The Citadel was a space station. There was no way this guy had been cleared to dock, which meant the ship was likely in orbit and probably concealed by some sort of covert shielding. So how the hell had he gotten her here?
“Sit.” He paused about three seconds, allowing her time to obey. “Now!”
She glared at his broad back. She would not be ordered around like a dog.
He set the ship in motion and the sudden burst of acceleration sent Raina flying. She slammed into the partition and released a startled grunt. She managed to stay on her feet, but just barely. Her temper surged, burning away her confusion and fear. He’d done that on purpose and she could have been seriously hurt.
He told you to sit down and you ignored him, her annoying inner voice reminded. Next time he gives you an order, obey. The thought made her shiver and her pussy clenched, but she refused to analyze the reaction.
She quickly crossed to the last row of seats and spun one around to face the back of the ship. It was a common feature on shuttles, so she wasn’t surprised to find it here. The only disadvantage to giving him her back was not seeing where they were going. She resisted the need to know for at least ten minutes and then looked over her shoulder. No help there. They were in hyperspace. She’d seen the strange, fibrous-looking streaks during her trips from Altor to the Citadel.
Turning back around, she stared straight ahead and tried to think logically. It would have been easier to give in to the fear and anger hovering on the fringes of her consciousness. It was also much less productive. This was her second kidnapping, so she knew that freaking out was a waste of energy. What she needed was reliable information. Once she had a clearer understanding of her circumstances, she would determine whether or not a royal freak-out was in order.
In the meantime, she reviewed what she did know. Few beyond this star system had ever seen a power triad in action, so it was much more likely that they were headed to Torret, Pyron, or Houkdi. Altor was a possibility too, but the Citadel was run by Altorians. If an Altorian wanted her, they would have opened a negotiation, not kidnapped her.
If she had to choose a planet, Torret would be her guess. And Emperor Jevara would be the instigator. Torret and Altar were at war and Jevara was known for his ruthlessness. A knot of tension formed in her gut as she thought about the conclusion. The last thing she wanted was to be at the mercy of Jevara. Learning about the war, how it started and the current strategies, had been part of her training at the Citadel. Jevara liked to abuse his captives. Physical and sexual torture was frequently the ‘entertainment’ after his dinner parties. But had Raina been kidnapped because she was an Altorian female or because she was a conduit? Her latent power might save her from the horror awaiting other women, but nothing could prevent her from being claimed.
Once the ship was zipping along smoothly, her abductor stood and returned to the wide aisle between the seats and the enclosed area. Without a word, he pulled Raina to her feet and whipped her sleepshirt up along her body. She grabbed the material then bent her elbows, hoping to prevent the garment’s removal. He simply ripped the thin material to shreds and tossed it aside. She gasped and crossed her arms over her breasts. He fisted her hair and tilted her head back until she looked into his eyes.
“You are now the property of Emperor Jevara of Torret. Your life, your gift, and your body no longer belong to you. The emperor owns you. You have no rights, no opinions, no control. He sent me to begin your training.” To illustrate his claim, he knocked her arm aside and squeezed her breast. “You will obey me or you will be punished. That is all you need to know.”
“I don’t think so,” she sneered automatically, fear manifesting as anger.
“You do not need to think.” He captured her nipple between his thumb and forefinger and twisted it cruelly. “You need to obey.”
She cried out and tried to jerk away. One of his hands still fisted her hair and the other held her nipple firmly. Her struggling only intensified the pain, so she grabbed his wrist with both hands and dug in her nails. He continued twisting until she stopped clawing him. But even after the twisting stopped, he didn’t release the throbbing tip.
The battle of wills had begun and already she was in trouble. She held still and glared up at him. Each of her agitated breaths tugged on her breast and filled her nose with his masculine scent. She couldn’t describe it, had never smelled anything quite like it, but it was doing unwanted things to her already rioting libido. His smell might be as exotic as his appearance, but his attitude was all too familiar. Domineering males had been spouting this bullshit ever since she was taken from Earth. Flora gave in. Cara gave in. But Raina would be damned if she allowed herself to be owned by anyone!
Her core felt empty and hot—and wet. Dear God, why was this making her wet? He’d snatched her in the middle of a sexy fantasy and her body was clearly confused. That was absolutely true, but she knew it was more than that. She was on the verge of activation. Each surge of emotion, each provocation, eroded what little remained of her power’s containment. She would not, could not lose control in front of this man. Unless he was a trained controller, it was doubtful either of them would survive.
“Get your hands off me,” she ground out between clenched teeth. Maybe if she stayed angry, she could hold off the desire churning inside her.
“As the emperor feared, you are in desperate need of taming.” He released her nipple and hair, but quickly grabbed her upper arm instead.
Momentarily freed from the pain, she renewed her struggling. She tugged against his hold and dug in her heels, but he was so much stronger. She had no hope of stopping him. He drew her to the last row of seats and lowered himself onto the one she’d used earlier. She fought him every step of the way, but he easily positioned her face down over his lap. She kicked and twisted until he trapped her legs between his and gripped the back of her neck. Her arms were still free so she pushed against the seat frame and pounded on his leg, but none of it did any good.
His open palm cracked down against her ass cheek, shocking her with the stinging impact. She gasped and froze for a moment then thrashed even harder. When Flora and Cara whispered about being spanked, they made it sound like a naughty game. “That hurt,” she yelled. Was he doing it wrong?
His only answer was more stinging slaps. He alternated sides, pausing from time to time to rub her bottom. It deepened the heat and prolonged the sting before he delivered the next firm spank. She punched at his legs and wiggled, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“Why am I spanking you?” he asked after numerous swats.
“Because all the males in this star system are domineering assholes,” she sneered, knowing he’d spank her even harder. The pain and indignation of being treated so disrespectfully kept her temper boiling, and in turn keeping her hunger at bay.
He slowly drew her panties downward, baring her upturned cheeks. Instead of laying into her with a flurry of spanks, however, he caressed her skin and squeezed her flesh, taunting her with gentle yet possessive touches. “You are no longer in control, pet. The sooner you learn that the better off you’ll be.”
She scoffed, trying to twist away from his stroking fingers. “I haven’t been in control since I was taken from Earth.”
Pushing her panties lower, he insinuated his fingers between her thighs, teasing without parting her slick folds. “I do not sense any sort of psychic link, but your pussy is bare. Has your courtship just begun?”
“It’s none of your business,” she snapped, squirming as his exploration grew bolder. “If you’re done beating me. Let me up.”
He swatted her slit just hard enough to get her attention. “Answer the question or I’ll spank your pussy.”
“My mentor said it was tradition for trainees to lose their body hair. I didn’t see a reason to make a fuss about it. I have shaved my legs and armpits since puberty. I just didn’t realize the treatment was permanent.”
He repeated the tantalizing touches, tracing her slit and caressing her smooth mound. “Do you always get this wet when you are disciplined?”
Shame washed over her in an inescapable wave and her bravado slipped. She searched for a scathing denial but words failed her. This hunger had been building for days. The instant her concentration slipped just a little she felt like a bitch in heat. Her core ached and her breasts felt swollen. She needed to come so damn bad, she no longer cared who or what triggered the release. She lay there humiliated and defeated as he pulled her panties off.
“Open, pet. Spread your thighs so I can touch your wet pussy.”
She shook her head. She hated herself for wanting this. For wanting him. “I can’t,” she whispered, unable to reconcile the conflict between her body and mind.
He resumed the spanking, his swats falling fast and hard. She twisted her hips and dug her nails into his leg, but the sharp sting wasn’t the problem. Heat sank deeper with each smack, intensifying her hunger. Her clit throbbed in time with her burning cheeks and her core clenched and released.
“Stop,” she cried. This wasn’t working. Her body was about to activate and she was no longer sure she could stop it.
“Then. Open. Your. Legs.” He accented each word with a vicious slap, right on the crease where her cheeks met her thighs.
She shrieked and bucked, but moved her legs apart, offering him access to her pussy.
He brushed his fingers over her swollen flesh, making her core spasm painfully. “Why are you so aroused?” He sounded distracted, almost as if he hadn’t meant to speak the question out loud.
“Please.” She rolled her hips, making the offer even more blatant.
“Bad girls don’t deserve pleasure.” He pushed two of his fingers into her needful core. “Such things must be earned.”
“Please. Oh, please let me come. I’ll do anything.” She tried to rock her hips, but his restraining leg held her firmly.
He slid his fingers in and out several times, building her need until she was gasping and moaning. Then he withdrew and moved his hand upward, pressing one slippery digit against her bottom hole.
“No,” she gasped, shaking her head. “Not like that.” She didn’t like anal play. It felt wrong, much too dirty. Yet each harsh pant, each ragged inhale filled her nose with his evocative scent. She needed him, needed pleasure in whatever form he chose to deliver it.
“You want to come, then fuck my finger with that tight little ass. That’s the only sort of pleasure bad girls deserve.”
His leg shifted off hers, making her choice crystal clear. She could ache, or she could push up and take his finger into her ass. But either way, he expected her to do it. “I can’t come like that.”
“I say you can, so you can. But the offer is about to expire.”
She found the floor with her toes and slowly pushed her hips upward. Humiliation washed over her entire body as her pucker stretched, gradually yielding to the invasion of his finger. His hand didn’t move. He provided resistance but didn’t help her. It felt odd, intrusive, yet undeniably stimulating.
“Deeper,” he ordered and a tingle skittered down her spine.
The authoritative snap in his tone called to her submissive nature. Raina understood what she was feeling but she had never experienced it before. She slowly moved her hips, surrendering control to her captor. Well, her captor and the instincts raging inside her. Pulling back just a bit, she paused then reversed direction and took his finger deeper into her naughty bottom hole.
She pulled nearly off then took his entire length. Her eyes drifted shut as she imagined a long, thick cock replacing his finger. She would stretch, bottom burning as her body submitted to his. It felt dark and decadent, more arousing than she’d ever imagined. Again and again, she pushed her body up and onto his rigid finger. She wasn’t just accepting her punishment. She was willingly participating.
“Faster, pet. Fuck my finger.”
His authoritative tone was even more stimulating than having a finger in her ass. She felt used, defiled, like the bad girl he called her. And her body was loving every minute of it. She let out a helpless moan, fucking his finger as fast as the awkward position allowed.
“Touch yourself,” he directed. “Rub your clit until you come.”
“Thank you,” she cried, more than happy to follow that order. Working her hand beneath her hips, she found her clit and rubbed across and around the swollen knot of nerves. All the while she kept her hips rocking, sliding his finger in and out of her bottom.
Suddenly, the intrusion intensified, even burning a bit with her next upstroke. Had he just added a second finger? The stretch told her yes, but she didn’t care enough to stop. She rubbed her clit harder and fucked his fingers, needing release more than she ever had before.
The orgasm struck suddenly, exploding inside her like a sensory bomb. She clawed at his legs and screamed as spasms of painful pleasure ripped through her abdomen. Her core clenched so hard that it tightened her back passage around his fingers. Her clit twitched beneath her fingertips, so she rubbed and rubbed, prolonging the much-needed release.
For a long time she just lay there limp and tingly as her captor stroked her back. His fingers were no longer inside her, but she couldn’t remember when he’d pulled them out. His scent had been disconcerting before, but she found it comforting now.
“Feel better, pet?”
The mockery in his tone made her remember that she hated this male, hated and mistrusted him. She scrambled off his lap and backed away until she collided with the partition. Her bottom was tender from the spanking, but she welcomed the discomfort. Now that he wasn’t touching her, the slight pain helped clear her mind. She crossed her arms over her breasts and pressed her legs together, looking anywhere but at him.
He stood up and moved in front of her again. “I did not give you permission to cover yourself. Open your legs and lower your arms. Right now.”
Closing her eyes, she shook her head. She could feel his gaze as it moved over her naked body. It stoked the fire that was currently banked inside her. If she made herself vulnerable again, the hunger would likely return.
“You cannot hide from this, Raina. Look at me.”
When she didn’t immediately obey, he pinched her nipple hard enough to make her cry out. She opened her eyes, glaring up at him. Would he fuck her now, take her hard and fast against the wall? Or would he push her to her knees and shove his cock down her throat? Her core clenched and a fresh rush of liquid washed over her pussy. She wanted it all; she just didn’t want it with him.
He released her nipple but didn’t step back. Instead, he drew her arms over her head and secured her wrists with one large hand. The position arched her back and thrust her breasts out. He kicked her feet apart, opening her legs. His silvery gaze locked with hers.
“Make no mistake, little conduit.” He cupped her mound possessively. “This lovely body will be used roughly and often. You will have cocks shoved in every hole, often more than one at the same time.”
She whimpered, hating that he had just described her wickedest fantasies.
He bent slightly and pushed two of his fingers deep into her core. She tensed. Those had better not be the fingers that had just been buried in her ass.
“Your mates will fuck you long and hard until the soul bond forms.” He slid in and out, the wet sounds making it obvious that despite the orgasm she was still horribly aroused. “Once your mates have finished claiming you, they will take you to the emperor, your true owner.” His hand continued to shuttle, but he seemed almost angry now. “They will watch as Jevara defiles you. He will immobilize you, hurt you, and share you.” He slipped his fingers out of her pussy and moved his hand to cup her breast. “Your mates will take you to him whenever he summons you, and they will allow him to abuse you in whatever way he chooses, regardless of how degrading the act might be. Would you like to know why they would allow this?”
She shook her head as tears slipped from the corners of her eyes. Jevara ruled a planet; not a country, but an entire planet. No one would defy him. This was so much worse than what would have happened at the Citadel.
“Turning their mate into the emperor’s whore is a small price to pay for the power they will gain as part of a triad. Many would do anything for that power and Jevara knows it.”
A shuddering sob escaped as she imagined the future he described. It was desolate and hopeless. Being dominated by loving mates was a shocking departure from the future she had imagined back on Earth, but true subjugation was intolerable. She would rather be dead than spread her legs for someone as vile as Jevara.
Her captor lowered his arms and stepped back. “Do not move or I will thrash you with a strap.”
She continued to sob as he disappeared into the enclosed area. She heard the faint whirr of a cleansing pulser and realized he had ducked into a utility room, likely to wash his hands. When he returned, he had a blanket or simple garment draped over his arm. He paused for a moment and let his gaze sweep over her naked body one last time before holding out the garment to her.
“May I move now?”
He smiled and the simple expression transformed his face. He went from sinister vampire to some sort of dark elf or fallen angel. She really needed to read something grounded in reality for a change. She lowered her arms and stepped away from the partition, taking the garment from his outstretched hand. It was a wraparound robe, the rich green material clingy and semi sheer, but she was thankful to have it.
“Thank you.” Tightening the belt, she returned to her seat and watched him cautiously.
“My name is Kern Yarro and everything I told you is true.” He paused as if to make sure he had her undivided attention. “I was dispatched by the emperor to capture you and begin your training. What I have yet to tell you is that I am part of the rebellion and I have no intention of taking you to Jevara.”
Her eyes widened and hope welled inside her. “Oh, thank God. Will you—”
“I’m not taking you back to the Citadel either, so don’t react too quickly.”
She reined in her enthusiasm and simply listened. He’d introduced himself and had given her a robe. Weren’t those good indications? He’d also spanked her, fingered her, and made her humiliate herself. This was not a nice person.
He leaned against the partition with his arms crossed over his chest. “How much do you know about the Torretian rebellion?”
“Not much,” she admitted. “I’ve only been in this star system for two months and less than a month of that was spent at the Citadel. My education has been focused on power triads and their role in the war.”
“The war you are expected to participate in is not against the Torretian people. It is against the monster who rules them.” He pushed off the wall and closed the distance between them. Turning the seat next to hers around, he sat and pivoted toward her. “Our enemy is the same. We are unofficial allies.”
“You can’t kidnap an ally and expect them to continue to be your ally,” she pointed out. He was so different now that he wasn’t bullying her. He looked younger and a lot less intimidating. “If you’re not taking me back to the Citadel, what do you want from me?”
“We want the same thing that everyone else wants.”
“A power triad.” She sighed. She was so tired of being thought of as a conduit first and a woman second, a distant second.
“The difference is we will allow you to choose your mates, as long as you choose from among the rebels. From what I understand, your cousin and her mates are not even offering you that much freedom.”
Kern was right. Flora had provided her with a group of males who had been preselected by her mates. Raina had no idea what criteria they were using. There were hundreds of people training at the Citadel, but she was only allowed to choose from the small group they presented to her. “That’s not much of a consolation. I’m still being forced into a union I don’t want.”
His forehead creased and confusion flashed through his expressive eyes. “You’re a conduit. Your race was literally created for this purpose. How can you not want what is natural for you?”
“It’s not that simple. I was raised on Earth. All of this feels alien to me.” Her choice of words made him smile and her heart gave an odd little flutter. Now that the dynamic wasn’t quite so confrontational, she had to admit that Kern was physically appealing. He had that tall, dark, and dangerous look that never failed to turn her head.
Shaking away the momentary distraction, she focused on what he’d said. She’d never heard anyone refer to the members of a power triad as a race before. It actually made sense to think of them that way. Triads had been created to ensure the balance of power in the star system. The originators, a group of highly specialized scientists and mystics, found people with strong magical abilities and then edited and augmented their DNA to maximize those gifts. The triads passed on their new abilities to their offspring and the result was a new and unique race of beings.
“Are your potential mates courting you? Have any of them fucked you yet?”
Surprised by the frank question, she looked at Kern and shook her head. “No.”
“Are you a virgin? Your pussy is tight, but I did not feel a barrier.”
She rolled her eyes. Many women lost their hymen long before they took a cock into their pussy, but she didn’t want to start a fight over something so inconsequential. “I’m not a virgin.”
“Then why are you so reluctant to consider another option, one with more freedom for you?”
The soreness in her bottom had nearly dissipated, but her pussy felt slick and sensitive. Pressing her thighs together just made her want to squirm, so she left her legs slightly spread and concentrated on breathing. The problem with that was every time she inhaled, all she smelled was him.
“I asked you a question,” Kern reminded, his tone taking on its earlier sternness.
She sucked in a quick breath as heat cascaded through her body. How could his commanding tone affect her so profoundly? An image formed within her mind, unbidden and unwanted. She knelt in front of him, ass in the air, pussy presented for his pleasure. She was deeply flushed and soaking wet, more than ready for whatever he wanted to do to her. He could finger her, spank her, or fuck her, just as long as he made her come.
Turning her head to the side, she took a deep breath before admitting, “I have a crush on someone. He hasn’t submitted an application, but I’m hoping he will.”
Kern’s gaze narrowed and his multicolored eyes gleamed. “Why has he not submitted an application for you? Does he know that you desire him?”
She didn’t want to talk about Cylex. There was no way she’d be able to suppress the hunger if she pictured his handsome face. “He doesn’t know, but I intend to tell him.”
“What sort of interaction have you had with this male? Has he ever touched you, kissed you?”
She glanced at Kern then shook her head.
“Was it this male you were picturing while you pleasured yourself?”
A flush burned its way across her cheeks. It was none of his business. She would not sully her fantasies by sharing any part of them with Kern. “Why does this matter?”
“I am just wondering how hard your mates are going to have to work to rid your mind of his image.” He chuckled and pushed to his feet. “We need your abilities too badly to let a ‘crush’ stand in our way. You will bond with a team of rebels. We will allow you to choose from among us, but you will choose.”
As he walked away, his scent lingered. Dark and mysterious like the male himself, the smell wrapped around her and stirred reactions deep inside her needy body. Why did he suddenly smell so good? She’d noticed his scent before, but it hadn’t been this evocative.
A fresh rush of hunger surged through her and she stifled a moan. She pressed her thighs together and helplessly cupped her breasts. God above, how she ached.
“I have the target,” Kern was saying.
She couldn’t hear the response, could barely hear Kern through the roaring in her ears.
“She isn’t happy, but she’s cooperating.” After a pause, he added, “I don’t anticipate any problems. I’ll see you then.”
He must have been talking to another rebel.
It was her last rational thought. Hunger flared suddenly, spreading through her body like a wildfire. She cried out and moved one of her hands between her thighs. Beyond modesty or shame, she spread her legs and pushed two of her fingers into her sopping wet pussy.
“Are you activating?” Kern asked sharply.
“Yes!” The slide of her fingers was only a tease. She needed cock and she needed it now.
“How long have you been battling the hunger?” He rushed back to where she was sitting, concern shaping his features.
“Days, many days.” She shot to her feet and shrugged out of the robe. After bunching it up, she dropped it to the deck and knelt upon it. She faced away from Kern and lowered her head. With her ass in the air, legs spread wide, she pleaded, “I need you deep inside me. Please, Kern, fuck me now.”