The wildlands stretch to the mountains and beyond. I can scarcely contain my excitement at being outside the city for the first time in my twenty years. I breathe in the fresh but strange-smelling air, air that’s colder than I’m used to in the climate-controlled techno-city of Emerald. My nose tingles and goosebumps rise all over my body. A sense of freedom unlike anything I’ve ever known sweeps through me.
I stand quietly with the tour group while our guide, a tall middle-aged man who introduces himself as Ranger Warren, gives us a detailed rundown of the rules. Don’t sprint ahead. Don’t lag behind. Stay together. Don’t touch any plants or animals. Report any injuries at once. Do not, under any circumstances, leave the well-marked hiking trail.
“Oh, my dear Joselyn, this is just marvelous,” Sheena, my roommate, whispers into my ear. “I can’t thank you enough for bringing me along as your plus one. Hey, do you think we’ll see any savages?”
I repress a chuckle. “You’re very welcome, and no, I don’t think we’ll see any savages today. No one lives out here. It’s too wild. The stories about savages are just that—stories.”
“One of the ladies who works in the lab with me knows a man who knows a woman whose roommate saw several fierce-looking savage men during a hike on this very trail,” Sheena says in a breathless rush.
For a reason I can’t explain, a heated flush surges through me when she says fierce-looking savage men. I swallow hard and put my odd reaction down to nerves. But in the back of my mind, I picture a dozen shirtless savages walking through the hills, their muscles gleaming in the sun.
Clearly, I have been reading too many old books. I put the imagery down to a photo of a lumberjack I recently saw in a history book that was written hundreds of years ago. The man in the photo had looked unlike the men who inhabit the techno-cities, with rugged features, tanned skin, and hair far longer than a regulation cut. I glance at Sheena, feeling a bit smug, because I doubt she even knows what a lumberjack is.
My gaze drifts to the horizon. Part of me wishes savages were real. Oh, what a treat it would be to see one. Better than seeing a real live lumberjack. But why would anyone want to live out here? It’s beautiful and I’m grateful I won a hiking tour in the recent Happiness Raffle, but I can’t imagine anyone making a home in the wildlands. Everyone knows it’s always too cold or too hot. Plus, lots of dangerous animals roam the forests. Bears, coyotes, snakes, mountain lions, and more. In the Old Days, before the safety of techno-cities, people actually had to worry about predators. I can’t imagine living like that, with fear as a constant companion.
As we begin the hike, following the guide up the curving dirt trail that leads through the tall trees, I only half-listen to Sheena as she babbles about the latest batch of female babies in the lab, all about to complete their ectogenesis cycles—future Workers with features so plain and brains so dull, she almost feels sorry for them. But a tiny furry creature scampers through the underbrush in the forest and catches my attention. Her words fade into the background as I observe the wondrous sight.
“Listen carefully,” Ranger Warren suddenly says, pausing in front of a large tree. The ten of us gather round, eager to listen to whatever he has to say about the wildlands. “This is a deciduous forest. Does anyone know what that means?”
The group falls silent. Timidly, I raise my hand.
“You there. Go ahead.” The guide nods at me with a polite smile.
“I believe that means the summers are hot and humid, the winters are cold and wet, often snowy, and most of the trees lose their leaves once a year.”
“Very good. And do you recall the four seasons?”
“Spring, summer, autumn, and winter.”
“Excellent. Do you know during which season the trees lose their leaves?”
“Autumn,” I say, as Sheena mumbles something about me being a showoff under her breath.
The entire group looks at me with wide eyes. I shrug and act like it’s no big deal I know about deciduous forests or the four seasons. Of course, inside the techno-cities, it’s always springtime, with lush plants growing year-round in the controlled climate. Furthermore, the screens covering the dome that houses the techno-city project a scenery of spring outside. None of my present companions would know what to think if dried leaves crunched under their feet during a stroll through the forest in autumn. I’ve read about that in old books too—about the peculiar but satisfying sound of dried leaves crunching underfoot.
“Very good again. Now, I bet you are all wondering what season we are in now. Look at the lush green trees and the flower buds and feel the air—warm but not too warm. It’s late spring,” Ranger Warren says quickly, as if worried I’m about to answer for him.
I decide I’d better not answer any more questions. It’s best I not draw attention to myself, lest he report me for possessing untoward knowledge. I don’t want him thinking I have a habit of reading banned books, though, in truth, I can count the number of banned books I’ve read on one hand. I’m simply good at pushing past the bland, recommended books in the front of the library to find long-forgotten tomes that paint a colorful—but often frightening—picture of the world that once was.
The guide urges us to resume walking, and we amble up a trail that becomes increasingly rocky. I love it, but many of my fellow hikers complain about the climb.
“I hope I’m lucky enough to win another hike outside the city during a subsequent Happiness Raffle,” I say to Sheena in a hushed voice, as if my wish won’t come true if anyone overhears. I’ll have to work especially hard in the Management Office to earn extra entries, but like any good Manager, I’m up for the challenge.
“If I ever win a hike in the wildlands, I promise to take you as my plus one, too,” Sheena says.
“Thanks. I love this. It’s better than any VR story I’ve experienced. It feels so… real.”
“It is real, silly. Speaking of VR stories, have you tried the one where you’re a mermaid swimming through the ocean? It’s amazing. I saw whales and sharks and a coral reef.” She pulls me close as we turn a corner and the path levels out. “And the musclebound merman who was my guide in the story was very, very attentive—if you know what I mean.”
“I assure you I know what you mean,” I reply with a giggle. “I’ll be sure to give it a try soon.” Then I wonder if there are any historical VR stories with lumberjacks. Probably not. There are very few historical VR stories. Our Wise Leaders want us focused on the present and the future only. The past is darkness but now we live in light, they occasionally tell us, during the motivational speeches that are delivered into our homes each Sunday.
A young woman Sheena knows from the lab strikes up a conversation with her, and I fall behind them and the entire group, wanting to soak up every second of this excursion. I can’t help but wish I’d been manufactured as a Ranger, rather than a Manager. Rangers get to maintain the outer walls of the techno-cities and occasionally take groups on hikes. What an exciting job that must be.
It isn’t the first time I’ve questioned my place in life and my thoughts began to wander into increasingly dangerous territory. I would never dare voice such thoughts aloud, but what if…
What if people weren’t programmed and expected to perform a specific job for the rest of their lives?
I don’t hate my job as a Manager, but in this moment, as I stand in the middle of a beautiful forest during springtime, I think I would give anything to be a Ranger. Or maybe a Diplomat. Diplomats travel between techno-cities on sleek airships. I would love to see the world—the real world, not something from a VR story—from high up above.
My thoughts are treasonous and my heart races. I look around, hoping no one is watching me, only to discover I’m all alone. The group has moved so far ahead, I can’t see a single person on the trail before me. Alarmed, I walk faster. I don’t run. Not yet. There’s no reason to panic. At least that’s what I tell myself—until I round a bend and still don’t see the group.
But before I can break into a run, two huge and rugged-looking men emerge from the forest. The bearded men stand directly in my path, blocking my way. Confusion spirals through me. Only Workers are allowed to grow beards, and Workers aren’t eligible for Happiness Raffles. I stare at the strange men, startled by their very nature, even as I tell myself there must be some rational explanation for their odd appearance.
Upon further inspection, I realize one of the men has a scar across his cheek, and both have dark hair that’s most definitely not regulation cut. It’s nearly past their broad shoulders. Their clothes are strange too. Both are wearing snug black pants, button-down shirts, and dirt-covered boots, rather than the dark green uniform of a Ranger. But when I see their backpacks, I assume they must be Rangers, for they always carry backpacks filled with supplies in case of an outdoor emergency. The wildlands aren’t safe for anyone.
“Excuse me, but I seem to have lost my group. Have you seen them? Are they very far ahead?”
The men exchange a glance. “She’s young, but definitely of age,” the man with the scar says. He happens to be the tallest and he stares at me with an intensity that makes me uncomfortable. “Very pretty, too.”
“Let’s take her,” the other man says, his voice deeper than his companion’s.
Take me where? Back to my tour group? Back to Emerald?
Unease sweeps through me, but certainly these men must be Rangers. Sure, they have longer hair than most men, as well as beards, but maybe the rules out here are a bit lax. If I showed up at the Management Office not wearing a perfectly pressed black pantsuit, I would receive a letter in my file. Too many letters and you aren’t eligible for Happiness Raffles. But maybe these men don’t care about the raffles.
The men move toward me and I take a step back. “I was with Ranger Warren’s group,” I say, standing as tall as I can.
They exchange another look. “I’m Ranger Axel,” says the man with the scar, “and this is Ranger Nash.”
Ranger Nash holds out his hand and says, “Come with us and we’ll make sure you get home. In fact, we know a shortcut that’ll get you there faster.”
Suspicion flares in my mind, but these men have given me no reason not to trust them. I take a deep breath and move closer to them.
“Here.” Nash grasps my hand. “We’ll help guide you through the forest. Sometimes navigating through the underbrush can be tricky.”
“Okay, thanks.” I glance down at our joined hands and a heated flush sears my neck and face, even as a shiver courses through my limbs.
He smiles down at me and his nearness affects me more by the second. I’ve never held a man’s hand before. To my further shock, Axel appears on my other side and grabs my free hand. I gulp and look from Ranger to Ranger. An unexpected warmth pulses between my thighs and I resolve to use the VR story with the musclebound merman as soon as I get home.
“Come on, little girl.” Axel gives my hand a squeeze. “Let’s get you home.”
“I’m a twenty-year-old Manager,” I say, affronted. “I’m certainly not a little girl.” Had he meant it as an insult? Or does he think I’m short? They’re both over a head taller than me, but all Rangers are quite tall.
Axel doesn’t reply but they continue guiding me through the forest, each of them holding a hand. Despite my annoyance at being called little girl, I find myself enjoying the off-trail walk through the trees. A rapid drumming noise soon catches my attention, and I squeal at the sight of a bird pecking fast on a tree.
“What-what is that? I mean, I know it’s a bird, but why is it behaving like that?” I’m astonished by the sight even before I understand what’s happening. There are no animals of any sort in the techno-cities. The Wise Leaders say they’re unclean and spread diseases, though I’m not afraid as I stare at the bird, marveling at its unique markings. It has a white stomach, black wings with a spot of white, and a bright red head. “Is it pecking for worms? Are there worms in the tree?”
Nash appears to be repressing a grin. “It’s called a woodpecker, little one. Woodpeckers are birds that peck on trees in search of food, like bugs, or to create a nesting site.”
“I believe they also peck on trees to establish their territory and attract mates,” Axel says, putting an emphasis on the word mates as he catches my eye.
“Excuse me,” I say, glaring back and forth between them. “While I appreciate the wildlife lesson, I must make something clear. If either one of you calls me little girl or little one again, I will have no choice but to report you for unprofessional conduct and the use of demeaning language.” My tone is harsh and unforgiving. It’s the kind of tone I reserve for Workers who aren’t performing their jobs at satisfactory levels.
“What is your name?” Axel lifts one dark eyebrow at me.
I stare at him, wondering why we haven’t reached the group yet. We’ve been walking for a while and at a fast pace. “My name is Joselyn.” Though it shouldn’t, revealing my name to them feels oddly intimate. More pulses affect me between my thighs and I decide it’s been far too long since I’ve had a good, long VR sexual relief session.
“Joselyn,” Nash repeats. “That’s a very pretty name for a very pretty little girl.”
“How dare you!” I’m seething. I will report these men to every superior I possibly can. They will have so many letters in their files by the time I’m finished complaining, they will be lucky if they aren’t sent to a Rehabilitation Center. I try to yank my hands from theirs, but they both hold tight. They also increase their pace through the trees, forcing me into a slow jog just to keep up. “This is outrageous treatment. I demand you let go of me at once.”
Maybe I should scream. I think about it and I even draw a deep breath, as if preparing to yell out. But in the end, I exhale sharply and keep quiet. I worry such an act would be an overreaction. I shouldn’t allow myself to become emotional like the Workers sometimes get when they are tired or required to perform a double shift. Soon I’ll be back with my tour group and Rangers Axel and Nash will regret their poor conduct.
I’m shocked when we come to a clearing that contains a large blue lake. I don’t see the walls of Emerald anywhere. Where are we? Surely we haven’t traveled closer to the group. It’s as if we’ve been traveling in the wrong direction the entire time.
“Fucking dumb rude ass Ranger fuckers,” I say, continually mumbling curse words and insults I learned from the Workers to the Rangers under my breath. I know it’s not polite, but I can’t help it. I’m not used to my orders being ignored. My ire rises and I’m about to chastise the idiotic Rangers further, but Nash releases my hand and Axel turns me in his arms, holding me by my shoulders as he gives me a disapproving look.
“Young lady, I suggest you watch your language and your tone from here on out.” His grip on me is strong but not quite bruising. He leans down, putting his face level with mine, and his hot breath wafts against my cheek. Even though I’m sure I hate him and even though it’s wrong and unsanitary, I have the oddest desire to feel his lips pressing against mine.
“We’re far enough from the trails by now,” Nash says. “Go ahead and tell her the truth.”
“The truth?” My heart commences racing and my suspicions from earlier creep back in. “Why-why are we far away from the trails? You said we were taking a shortcut!”
“We said we were taking you on a shortcut home,” Axel replies. “And we are. But you don’t live in Emerald anymore, little girl. You’re going to live with us. In the wildlands.”
Full panic sets in. I kick and scream and try to escape with all my might, but Nash tosses me over his shoulder as if I weigh nothing. I don’t understand. Why do the Rangers live this far away from the walls of Emerald? It doesn’t make sense. Unless…
Fierce-looking savage men.
Unless they’re not Rangers.
They’re savages. Real-life savages.
Sheena’s story comes back to me and I increase my struggles, only for a stinging slap to impact upon my bottom. I gasp and cry out at the sudden pain. It takes me a moment to realize Nash struck me, but once I do I kick and scream harder and louder than before. How dare they treat me this way?
“Kidnapping is illegal!” I yell. “Punishable by up to five years in a Rehabilitation Center!”
From my awkward upside-down position, I witness Axel pulling a boat out from behind a line of bushes. He drags it closer to the shore, near enough for small waves to lap at it. My stomach drops at the sight.
“In case you haven’t figured it out yet, little girl, we aren’t citizens of Emerald or any other techno-city.” Axel grabs two lengths of rope from the boat. “We’re free men. Born and raised in the wildlands.”
Born? No one is born anymore. What the hell is he talking about? Before I can ask, Axel approaches and ties my hands together with one length of robe. I’m stunned to my very core and infuriated when he moves behind me and does the same to my ankles.
“Fuck you, you dumb, dirt-eating fuckers!”
“That’s enough,” Nash says as he carries me to the boat. He places me on a blanket in the center of the boat and puts a finger beneath my chin, forcing me to hold his dark gaze. “Good little girls don’t use bad language. The next time you curse at us or show us disrespect, I will pull down your pants and panties and spank your bare little bottom.”
My face heats at his threat. A spanking? He thinks he can threaten me with a primitive punishment? If I wasn’t tied up, I would punch him square in his bearded face. I settle for more cursing.
“Eat a dick sandwich.”
Before I draw my next breath, I’m turned over and find my pants and panties are soon shoved down to my knees. I flail around and try to turn over on my back, but four strong hands hold me in place.
“Need some help, brother?” Axel asks with a chuckle as he presses down on my legs.
“Shut up and hold her down. She’s a wild one.”
“Me? Wild?” I’m outraged. “You’re the wild ones! You—you’re savages!” I screech the word as if it’s the worst insult imaginable.
“I can already tell she’ll need lots of guidance,” Axel says. “Good thing there are four of us.”
My stomach bottoms out. Before I can process what he means, sharp smacks descend upon my bottom cheeks. It’s so painful, tears immediately burn in my eyes and stream down my cheeks. I’ve never experienced such profound agony in my entire life.
“Please stop!” I struggle, but it’s no use. They’re bigger than me. Stronger than me. Oh, how I hate them, these dreadful savages. “Please please please.”
The sound of flesh slapping flesh echoes against the surrounding trees and the boat rocks lightly as Nash continues with the shameful chastisement. The burning heat builds and builds, until I don’t think I can withstand another slap. But still the blows keep falling. I can’t believe two strange men are holding me down while inflicting such a barbaric, old-fashioned punishment. I don’t deserve it. I’m not naughty. I’m not. I’m simply defending myself against them. What right do they have to treat me so? They kidnapped me, for goodness’ sake.
The breeze picks up and caresses my punished skin, but still Nash doesn’t slow as he delivers slap after searing slap to my poor backside.
“This is what happens to naughty little girls,” Axel says. “They get their bottoms spanked bright red.”
Finally, the blows cease falling. But neither man releases his hold on me. I’m still trapped on the floor of the boat, my naked, inflamed bottom on display. Shame washes through me, hot and searing. I can feel their gazes on me, as if they’re studying my nudity. I’ve never been even partially naked in front of a real man before, let alone two of them. VR stories don’t count.
Nash touches my ass and starts caressing it. I still can’t move and I have no choice but to lie there while he strokes me. But the rubbing soon begins to feel nice, and the warm pulses from earlier return to my womanly core, pulsing harder than before. A whimper leaves my throat.
I’m confused, I’m angry, and I’m in pain. I’m also thoroughly embarrassed.
“Joselyn.” Nash’s deep voice penetrates my thoughts. “Have you ever been spanked before?”
“Never. We aren’t so barbaric in Emerald.” I sniffle.
“She was hatched from one of those baby cooking chambers,” Axel says, and from his conversational tone I realize he’s speaking to Nash, who is apparently his brother. “Raised in a group home with dozens of other children. She’s never had a mother or a father.”
“She’s going to require lots of individual attention,” Nash replies. “She doesn’t understand the ways of our world—the natural world.”
“What she needs is a daddy. She never had one. No one raised her properly.”
“Like you said earlier, there are four of us.” Nash moves to caress my upper thighs and the sensation gathering in between my legs flames hotter. “She’ll have four daddies. Four daddies to teach her, guide her, care for her, and punish her when she’s been naughty. That’s exactly what this little girl needs.”
Their words leave me stunned. I can’t form a reply, not even a single curse word. Another whimper escapes me when Nash’s fingers inch closer and closer to my throbbing parts. I don’t understand what’s happening. My body has never responded to a living man in the way it’s responding to the brothers’ nearness now. I’ve only ever experienced such rampant sexual arousal during a VR story.
Without warning, Nash spreads my bottom cheeks wide open. The cool air hits my most intimate places and my shame soars.
“Don’t… you can’t…” My words catch in my throat.
“Settle down,” Axel scolds, still with a firm grip on my legs. “You don’t want another spanking so soon, do you?”
Nash’s fingers trail over my outer lips, a feather-light touch that sends sensation jolting through my entire body. I whimper and struggle, but to no avail. Axel continues holding me down while his brother keeps my bottom spread wide apart. Nash’s fingers delve deeper, into my secret folds, and I’m shocked when my center gyrates against his probing touch. I don’t want this. I really don’t. But I can’t help the aching and the wetness that’s growing between my thighs. My body is betraying me. My body thinks I’m in a VR story.
“Please, this is improper. You aren’t supposed to touch people like this in real life. Only in VR stories.” And they’re not even real people in VR stories. But that’s the point. Real sex—the old-fashioned kind that can produce babies—is downright dangerous. It’s outlawed in the techno-cities. Anyone suspected of engaging in real-life intercourse is sentenced to a minimum of six years in a Rehabilitation Center. It’s considered worse than kidnapping.
“Daddy’s little girl is very, very wet between her thighs,” Nash says, his thumb grazing over an especially sensitive area. My clit. He’s stroking my clit. I’ve never even touched myself there before, because whenever the mood strikes, I put on a VR helmet and bodysuit and select one of my favorite interactive stories.
The knowledge that a real man’s real thumb is stroking my throbbing clit is almost too shameful to bear. What he’s doing is strictly forbidden. It’s naughty. Taboo.
My heart races faster with each rapid breath. Still keeping my bottom splayed apart, he opens the folds of my sex, delicately tracing through my increasing moisture. A moan builds in my throat and it’s a struggle to remain quiet.
“You’re soaking wet, little Josie.” His words shame me further. I know I’m wet, but does he really have to say it out loud? I bury my face in the blanket and try to remain still, try to keep my center from lurching into his probing touch. “Now,” he says, giving my clit a deliriously wondrous squeeze, “Daddy Nash expects you to be a good girl and apologize for the bad language you used.”
“You can both go to—”
“Think very carefully before you complete that sentence, little one.” Axel’s firm tone makes me second guess cursing them out again. My bottom still throbs terribly. I don’t want another spanking.
Though it wounds my pride, I take a deep breath and say, “Sorry.”
“Not good enough.” Nash starts circling my clit and his touch feels better than any VR bodysuit vibrating against my pussy ever has. I like it and I’m ashamed that I like it. But I don’t want him to stop. Not yet, not until my pleasure is satisfied.
“Give us a proper apology. We want to hear you say, ‘I’m sorry for using bad language, Daddies Nash and Axel.’ This is your last chance. Failure to obey will result in another spanking, this time from Daddy Axel.”
“Show us what a good little girl you can be. Obey us, Josie.”
When I open my mouth and utter, “I’m sorry for using bad language, Da-Daddies Nash and Axel,” it’s as if a stranger has taken over my body. Surely it’s not me who’s apologizing to these savages. Yet I repeat the exact apology demanded of me and an odd sense of surrender rushes through me, leaving me quivering with pleasure in the bottom of the boat while Nash continues rubbing my clit. I’m still spread shamefully wide and I can feel their heated gazes on my privates.
“Good girl.” Then Nash circles his thumb faster and harder, applying the perfect amount of pressure to my clit.
I lose control and start moving my hips, unable to remain still as the delicious sensation mounts, propelling me higher and higher into a new realm of bliss unlike anything I’ve ever known.
“Your new daddies want to watch you come, little Josie. Go ahead and let go. Come for your daddies.”
It’s so fucking wrong, but I can’t help it. I shudder and cry out as a thunderous release consumes me. I’m coming. I’m coming while a real man touches my most secret places. A savage from the wildlands, no less, while his savage brother helps hold me down. My fingers and toes curl and I whimper as the final tremor of this illicit ecstasy dissipates.
Nash pats my sore bottom and pulls up my panties and pants with Axel’s assistance. All the energy has drained from my body and I allow them to turn me over and prop me up in the center of the boat, seated on a thick blanket. Nash takes his place in front of me and picks up an oar while Axel steps out of the boat only long enough to push us into the water. Axel hops inside, grabs an oar for himself, and sits behind me. I feel caged in by the savage brothers as they paddle us further and further across the lake, so far that soon I glimpse the distant arc of Emerald’s dome over the trees.
My heart thumps faster. Will I ever see my home again?
Tears burn in my eyes. Today was supposed to be an exciting day, a fun excursion from the monotony of Manager work. I wonder if Sheena has noticed I’m missing yet. Are Rangers out looking for me already? They must be. I reassure myself that soon I’ll be found and these savages will have to answer for what they’ve done.
Nash catches my eye and winks at me. I look away and try to ignore both savages, but my anger and frustration over a situation I can’t control grows stronger by the moment. It doesn’t help that my wrists and ankles are bound. Even if I had the strength at the moment, I couldn’t easily fight back or attempt another escape. I swallow hard and then draw a deep breath.
“Where are you taking me?”
“Home,” says Axel from behind me, his deep voice cutting over the steady sound of the oars dipping in and out of the water.
“Where the he—” I pause and take a steadying breath. “Where exactly is home?” I ask, chiding myself for almost cursing again. I squirm on the blanket and wince at the lingering soreness of the primitive punishment they put me through.
“Deep in the mountains,” Nash says.
A glance around shows mountains in every direction. I sigh and roll my eyes. I should have expected a vague answer.
“Roll your eyes one more time, little Josie, and see what happens,” Nash says in a stern tone. Without warning, my clit pulses in remembrance of his stroking.
“Take me back to my tour group. Please.”
“You’re not going anywhere but with us,” Axel says. “We found you. We wanted you, so we took you. Now you belong to us.”
I’m confused about the reason they want me, but deep down, in a hidden part of me, I think I know the reason why. They thought nothing of pulling my pants and panties down and exposing my nudity. Nash even stroked my clit and gave me an orgasm. I’m starting to believe they want me for sexual reasons, and my breath becomes faint as dizziness sweeps through me.
I’ve been with men in VR stories, but I’ve never actually had sex. Not real sex. Not the kind of sex I suspect these savages are used to, if they were truly born and raised in the wildlands. In a technical sense, I’m a virgin. The thought of spreading my legs for these men while they shove their cocks into my pussy scares me.
I stare at the rippling water, so blue and sparkling under the midday sun, and try to think of something to say—anything—that might convince the savages to return me to Emerald.
“The Rangers will come looking for me,” I finally blurt out. “They’ll find me and then you’ll be sorry.”
Nash meets my gaze. “You’re not the first young woman to disappear during a hike. There are several women from Emerald and other techno-cities in our village up in the mountains. None taken have ever been rescued. The Rangers won’t come looking for you, Josie.”
Axel sits his oars down in the boat and leans forward, placing his hands on my shoulders. His hot breath drifts against my ear and his beard tickles my neck and face. I try to move away, but he tightens his hold. “My brother and I ventured near Emerald for the sole purpose of capturing a young woman to bring back to the mountains to keep as ours. Soon you will meet our younger brothers, twins Erik and Gage. You’ll belong to them too.”
Earlier, one of them had mentioned that I would belong to the four of them. But hearing Axel say it again with conviction in his voice startles me to my core. I don’t want to belong to one savage, let alone four of them.
“Why,” I utter in a shaky tone. “Why take me instead of one of your own kind?”
“Very few females are born in the wildlands. The techno-cities did something to our water supplies decades ago in an attempt to kill us all off in retaliation for our refusal to live under their rules.” Nash holds my gaze while his brother continues nuzzling his cheek against mine. “Ever since then, only one female is born for every one hundred males.”
“So you’re taking me for… sex?” I ask as a mix of dread and arousal courses through me. Damn my body, but it still doesn’t understand this isn’t a VR story.
Axel’s deep chuckle reverberates in my ear. “We’re taking you to be our mate, Josie, yes, but it’s more than that. The four of us are going to be your daddies, too, and you will be our sweet little girl. From our observations of other young women taken from the techno-cities, it’s obvious they haven’t been raised properly in a loving family. Just like all the women taken before you, you need guidance, little girl. Guidance and affection.”
A spasm of warmth affects me between my thighs and I can’t help but squirm again as I try to process Axel’s words. I’m going to be their mate and their little girl. They aren’t using the word wife, which I find interesting—primal in a way, but also fitting. After all, we’re in the wildlands and they are savages.
Savages who apparently have no intention of letting me go.