Star Portals have existed since the beginning of time. Doorways between worlds in this galaxy—and others. They are found on Earth at the convergence of ley lines, those invisible electromagnetic paths crisscrossing our globe. Our ancestors discovered them thousands of years ago and used them to travel to the farthest reaches of the universe.
Flourishing ancient civilizations didn’t die out. The people of Atlantis, the Vikings, the Mayans—when tragedy struck their homelands, they simply migrated through the Portals to places where fresh water flowed, crops grew abundantly, and the climate was nearly perfect.
Human beings descended from our common ancestors are alive today on a trio of planets thousands of light years away. Islands of stability in the universe where vast quantities of natural resources and rare minerals abound.
Neodyma. Iridia. And the icy world farthest from the warmth of the twin suns Phalyx and Zalyx—Gadolinium.
“I’ll be back before half moon.”
“Can’t I come with you? I hate being here alone. No matter how many furs I pile on it, the bed is still cold without you to warm it.”
“Have you not yet learned that my decisions are not to be questioned? And remember—no lingering there for hours on end while I’m gone.”
Haldor’s voice took on the stern note that always sent decadent shivers down her spine. Then he held out his arms. “Now come and kiss me goodbye, like a proper wench.”
She laughed and threw herself at him. “A proper wench? Is that what I am?”
His lips captured hers in a fierce kiss, leaving her breathless. He drew back and grinned. “You will be one day. But I fear it may take you years of training—and discipline.” He gave her naked ass a playful swat and headed out the door.
“Ouch!” She turned away, rubbing her cheeks with both hands. His huge palm covered her entire bottom with one whack, bringing back memories of yesterday’s session over his knee.
She groaned and burrowed down under the covers. Neither of the suns would be out for hours. No matter what the clock said, she hadn’t gotten used to starting her day in darkness.
His heavy stride thudded across the wooden floor. Suddenly the covers were wrenched away. She huddled into a ball. “Noooo!”
“Up with you, woman.”
She pulled a feather pillow over her head, trying desperately to ignore the booming voice.
“Come now, my Selena. How can you be my love goddess if you lie in bed with the covers over your head all the day long?”
“All day? Even if we did see the suns in this cursed season, they wouldn’t even be peeking over the horizon right now.”
He laughed. “Get dressed and come with me. I’m heading into the forest to gather more firewood. I don’t want to worry about you ever being without light and warmth. The fresh air and exercise will do you good.”
“Fresh air?” She threw her pillow at him. “It’s so cold out there, I can see the air when I breathe it out. Air isn’t meant to be seen. It’s meant to surround your body in a mantle of perfect temperature. Never too hot. And definitely never cold.”
“There is no bad weather—only bad clothing.” He tossed her a fur-lined wool cloak. “That’s what my old nana used to say when I complained about the winter’s chill as a lad. Put this on and you’ll never feel it.”
He headed for the door. “I don’t know how you Earthers bear the monotony of living in those domes. How can a man savor the warmth of a hot fire and an even hotter wench if he never feels the cold? Oh yes, I forgot—those pitiful creatures aren’t really men anymore.”
Selena bristled. “Stop it. That’s not true. Just because they aren’t either having sex, thinking about the sex they’re going to have, or bragging to their friends about the sex they had last night doesn’t mean they’re not men. There’s more to life than sex.”
“That’s not what you said last night.” He gave her a leer. “I could swear I heard you thanking the gods for a real man while begging me to think about nothing but sex.”
She blushed. Even after all their time together, the mere thought of the once-forbidden things she said and did when he aroused her still made her feel deliciously naughty. “You promised me after last time you wouldn’t mention the things we do anymore unless we’re alone in our bed. I nearly died of shame when you made that comment in front of Talia and Kylar last week.”
He lowered his voice. “Well, you’re still in bed. So it seems to me that right now I can talk all I want about how wild you get when I stick my finger up your ass while I’m fucking you.”
Her pussy spasmed. Those filthy words. That husky growl. She’d never known her body would respond, could respond instantly. Flooding her with dampness. Making her ache to be filled by him again. Everywhere.
She couldn’t get enough of him. Ever since the day when he finally opened his eyes. The first thing he did was look her over, top to toe. Then he smiled, a slow sexy grin that made her feel like she was standing there in front of him stark naked. Men didn’t look at women like that on Earth. Not anymore. She swore her nipples hardened right then. He sent a wild thrill through her whole body.
And he still did. All he had to do was say something wicked out loud, his voice rough with hunger. Or look at her again like that, his deep blue eyes dark with heat. She’d spread her legs for him in an instant, drop to her knees in front of his magnificent cock.
“Don’t be giving me that look! If I crawl back in bed with you right now I’ll get nothing done all day. We’ll have plenty of time to dally later—once we’ve finished the chores.” He headed for the door. “I’m going out to hitch the horse up to the wagon. Hurry and dress. You can bring a mug of hot tea with you.”
As soon as the door shut behind him, Selena slid a hand between her legs. Her center of pleasure was already throbbing. She ran her fingers over it, remembering how his tongue had felt when it traveled the same path last night. Making her pussy spasm, sending wild shivers through her belly. He’d gone so slowly at first. Taking her nipples between his fingers. First one, then the other. Pinching and squeezing them. Making a low sound deep in his throat when she writhed beneath him.
Then he said those words that never failed to take her to the next level.
“Don’t move. Or I’ll tie you hand and foot to this bed with your legs spread wide apart so I can do whatever I want to you.”
Eyes closed, fingers busy between her legs, Selena was lost in reliving the memory. She never heard the door open.
A firm hand closed around her wrist. He sank down on the bed and yanked her over his lap. The crack of his palm echoed off the stone walls of their bedroom as that first lick of flame scorched her bottom.
“Still in bed?” Swat! “And taking what belongs to me?” his voice thundered, sending a shiver through her again, this time one of fear. He sounded really angry.
He whacked her again. She let out a wail.
“Ooow! Stop it!”
“Stop it? Did you say ‘stop it’?” He landed three more smacks, one after another, so fast and hard it took her breath away. “Don’t ever give me an order while you’re over my lap with your bare ass high in the air. This ass belongs to me. And so does your pussy.”
He started spanking her in earnest then, first on one cheek, then the other. “I can see I’ve been too easy with you. You think you can ignore what I say, laze in bed all day—and then pleasure yourself without my knowledge or permission? I’m lord of this castle, no matter how humble it may be. And you will do as you’re told. No arguments, no complaints.”
All the while, his hand kept up its relentless rhythm, every jolt of pain followed by a fiery burn spreading over her whole bottom. Selena squirmed and bucked, desperate to get away. Haldor shifted, trapping her legs between his iron-hard thighs, raised her ass higher and gave it another hard whack.
“Are you going to tell me to stop it again?”
“No. I… I won’t.”
He smacked her again. “No, what?”
Selena bit her lip, trying to keep from crying out loud. She’d never gotten used to the idea of giving up control, of referring to him as custom decreed on this planet.
“No, my lord,” she whimpered, trying desperately to hold back the tears.
“If you ever want to sit down again, you won’t. I’ll tell you what else you’ll not do again. You won’t be sticking your fingers into your sweet pussy when I’m not around. I decide when this body deserves to feel pleasure. And I alone will bestow it. That is my right as your lord and master here on Gadolinium.”
His hand came down again. She jerked, unable to get away. He’d never spanked her so hard.
“Do you understand?”
“Yes, my lord.”
He used both hands to spread her legs apart, then rammed two fingers into her dripping slit. She gasped.
“That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”
“Y-yes, my lord.”
His fingers slid in and out, fast and rough. The burning on her bottom morphed into a different kind of heat, spreading through her, driving her to the edge.
He stopped suddenly and she moaned.
“Have I treated you fairly and justly since you came to Gadolinium?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Do you think it’s right that you show me the same fairness?”
She couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe. The hunger inside her so great. “Please, Haldor…”
He gave her a fierce whack. “Answer me!”
This time she couldn’t hold back a sob. “Yes, my lord.”
His fingers slid back in, pumping in and out as he spoke. She was frantic, hardly hearing what he said. He knew her body so well by now. Knew just where to stroke her inside. When to go slow, when to thrust hard and fast to take her to the peak.
“Good. Then you will agree that it’s only fair that you bring me pleasure now.”
He took his hand away and spread his legs apart, forcing Selena to her knees. One fist clamped around his cock, already rigid, while the other twisted in her hair.
“Your ass belongs to me. Say it.”
He rubbed the head back and forth over her lips.
“My… my ass belongs to you.” She still felt embarrassed using words like that out loud, even with him.
“Your pussy belongs to me.”
“My pussy is yours, my lord.”
“Now I’m going to take you in the mouth. And you’re going to give me pleasure—because that’s only fair. And I’m a fair and just man. Isn’t that true?”
He’d brought her right to the edge, to the place where she’d say anything, do anything he said, if only he’d take her over. Whirling through the abyss, to a place where space and time disappeared. Where rational thought ended and savage hunger demanded to be fulfilled. That place only he had ever taken her.
She opened her mouth to say yes—and he slid his cock in. Reaching up, she wrapped one hand around the shaft and swirled her tongue around the head, knowing how much he loved that. He let out a groan. Thrusting fast and deep, holding her head in place with his fist buried in her hair. Fucking her mouth. Taking her rough and hard.
His body started to quiver. Loving that moment when she made him lose control, she sucked him in. Opening herself to him.
He came hard. She struggled to swallow every drop, wanting only to please him as he pleased her. His fist gradually loosened its grip in her hair. Tension drained out of his body and his arms cradled her head against his stomach.
“I’d lay down my life for you,” he said gently. “All I ask in return is your love, your respect—and your obedience. I know you think my rules are sometimes petty and pointless. But trust me, they are for your health and safety. All except the rule where I will be the only one to grant you release.”
He lifted her chin and looked into her eyes. “That’s pure selfishness on my part. I love making you come. Love listening to you, watching your face.”
She smiled up at him. “That’s because it’s still so new to me. Every time is like the first time with you.”
He stroked her hair. “I’m sorry but I need to drive home my point. You’re still being punished for not getting up and getting ready to come out with me when I told you to. So there’ll be no gratification for you this time.”
Her pussy clenched. She let out a tiny whimper of dismay. His passion always aroused hers and she longed to have him take her in his arms and please her in all the ways he’d introduced her to. She turned her head away, unwilling to let him see the disappointment in her eyes.
“Selena, I know you don’t yet understand our ways. But trust me. I’ve seen strong Viking warriors succumb to malaise in the dead of winter. It creeps slowly upon you. First you find it hard to drag yourself out of bed in the darkness. It seems so much easier to stay in a cocoon of warmth. Then you can’t bring yourself to face the cold even one more day. You lock yourself indoors, where you’re alone all the time. Sleeping all day and not getting any exercise makes it impossible to rest at night. The wind howls and the chill seems even worse. So you sit by the fire for hours and try to warm your bones with mug after mug of honey mead. Soon it becomes your only friend.”
His arms tightened around her. “That’s why I’m so firm about insisting that you maintain a strict schedule. Months on end of cold gray days and endless nights can send anyone spiraling into depression. My people learned long ago that keeping busy is one sure way to combat it.”
He stood, pulling her to her feet with him.
“Now—get dressed and come with me. Please?”
The thud of his axe against the frozen tree trunk echoed in the woods. Selena carried a bundle of smaller branches to the wagon, already half full of logs bigger around than her arms could circle. Haldor hefted them as though they were twigs.
He’d been right about one thing. The cold didn’t seem so bad when she kept moving. And although weak, the sunlight filtering down through the pines lifted her spirits.
Coming from Earth, where the climate was always perfect now, she’d had an especially hard time adjusting to life on Gadolinium. Its orbit was farthest from the twin suns Phalyx and Zalyx, plunging this world into the icy depths of winter for roughly half of the twenty months it took for the planet to complete its orbit.
She found herself wishing for the thousandth time that she’d ended up on Neodyma instead of on the third in this trio of planets settled by human explorers over two millennia ago. It had a climate more like that of Earth. Warm sunshine, even tropical flowers blooming in the heart of the capital city.
But it didn’t have Haldor. A blond giant who lived by a code of honor as strong as his broad shoulders. He’d lay down his life for her—already had. He’d spent his whole life surrounded by men just like him. Men… and women.
Her bottom still stung but she understood why he’d been so firm with her. It was the custom on this planet. Wandering off alone outdoors, not dressing properly for the cold, letting a fire die out—any one of these could carry a death sentence. Gadolinean men took their responsibility as head of household seriously. And they knew an occasional bare-bottom session over the knee drove a point home. Spanked by their fathers and older brothers, it was simply expected here that husbands and lovers would continue the practice when a woman left home.
It was a harsh world where laziness, carelessness, and willful disobedience couldn’t be tolerated. Selena never dreamed that falling in love with a Gadolinean warrior would include falling in love with his discipline. But to her surprise, it made her feel cared for. Even cherished. She’d learned it was one of the ways Viking males expressed the love they sometimes found hard to put into words. The women here accepted spankings—and other, naughtier forms of discipline that still made her blush—as part of life.
Later, when they’d unloaded the wagon and Haldor had split and stacked what looked to her like enough wood for a month, they sat by the fire, finishing off plates of venison stew. She’d learned to cook it reluctantly, unable to bear the thought at first of dining on the beautiful animal that had to be slaughtered to create it.
Back home, she’d eaten only synthetically produced protein and vegetables cloned from the few varieties that managed to survive the destruction of the environment long enough for the domes to be erected. Now, she honored the Gadolinean rituals, giving thanks to the creature who gave its life to sustain theirs as she prepared the meal. She’d taken her time. Chopping a pile of golden yellow carabagas, dicing onions, crumbling in a handful of dried herbs. Appreciating the textures, the bursts of color, the aromas. She’d learned that eating food cooked from its natural state was much more satisfying than tearing open a sealed packet containing a tasteless brownish lump.
“That was delicious. You’ve become quite a cook.” Haldor set his plate aside and patted his knee. “Come here.”
When she hesitated, he gave her that sexy smile she couldn’t resist.
“I only want you to sit on my lap. I promise there’ll be no spanking involved—unless you beg me to do it.”
“Beg you to spank me? That’s never going to happen!”
His eyes narrowed. “Is that a challenge?”
“Not a challenge. Simply a fact.”
“You think you’ve experienced all the kinds of spankings I can deliver? There’s none that you’d beg for?”
She began ticking them off on her fingers. “Well, let’s see. You’ve spanked me with my clothes on, with my clothes off, over a wooden chair, over your knee, over the side of the bed. Oops, I ran out of fingers.” She raised her other hand. “With your open palm, with that dreaded hairbrush—and once, with a wooden spoon, the first time I refused to cook venison. I know some men spank with a leather belt, but so far you’ve never done that.”
He grinned. “You’ve never been that naughty—yet. So you’re convinced you know every kind of spanking there is?”
She shrugged. “If there’s another, I’d rather not know about it.”
“Then you won’t.” He paused and wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. “Unless you beg me. So come here.”
She went over and snuggled into his lap. He wrapped his arms around her, drawing her close. Though average in height for an Earth woman, six foot one, being in Haldor’s arms made her feel like a little girl. He towered over her and his body was all muscle, from the broad shoulders and powerful chest to thighs as big around and hard as the tree trunks he’d been chopping.
She smiled up at him. Smoothing back his shoulder-length dark hair, she planted a kiss on his forehead. “Haldor. I asked Astrid about it. She said your name means ‘rock of Thor.’ That’s what you remind me of. A huge boulder. Strong enough to withstand the storms life brings without crumbling. But stubborn and hard-headed, too. Unyielding.”
His smile dimmed. “Is that what you think? That I have no soft side?”
“Well, if you ever did have, you rolled over on it and crushed it, rock of Thor.”
She regretted the words as soon as she saw the flash of pain in his eyes. This man hid his feelings so deeply, she sometimes forgot he had any. She gave a little laugh. “It was only a joke, my love.”
He stared into the fire for a long time without speaking.
“You may be right,” he sighed. “All my life I’ve put on a brave face for the world. Ever since I was a lad, when the Tabun invaded Gadolinium and slaughtered my parents. King Sigrun and Queen Astra took me in. Sigrun was my hero. He tracked the Tabun down, drove them from Gadolinium with such fury they stayed away for over thirty years. I vowed to make him proud. To be just like him. He never showed fear, never the slightest weakness. Even when he was about to die at Balam’s hand.”
He shook his head. “There is a man. You know what Sigrun said, when he thought it was the end? ‘Better to die with honor than to live with shame.’”
She drew back and gave him a searching look. “And that’s why you threw yourself in front of the spear meant for him.”