After a quick shower, Cassie donned the utility clothes Andrea left for her. The simple garments fit well enough and it felt wonderful to be clean again. Unfortunately, the human hadn’t been able to locate suitable undergarments or shoes, so Cassie still felt a bit exposed.
She moved about the apartment in her stocking-clad feet. She noted a tiny closet, surprisingly comfortable bed, built-in dresser with retractable mirror, and corner workstation. There was a beverage station, but no way to replicate food. Apparently the Stilox rebels took their meals in some central location. Most of the compartments were locked and the computer terminal had been deactivated. Andrea wasn’t sure if Fane wanted her to have the door code or not, so for the time being, Cassie was still a prisoner.
Her thumb absently stroked the subtle protrusion of her transfer tube. The pressure had lessened as her anxiety mellowed. The automatic precaution prevented accidental injection. Still, it was now a lethal weapon and would remain so until she could return to her lab and reset the nanites.
There wasn’t much to distract her thoughts from her captor-turned-temporary-husband. This was her opportunity to give him a taste of his own medicine. She’d show him what it felt like to be used, to have his body turned against him. She’d touch and tease then reject him without thought or feeling.
The only real obstacle was her own lust and his ability to see into her mind. She would have to guard her thoughts as never before. He must believe she wanted him as desperately as he wanted her. Then, at the last moment, she’d turn him away and leave him aching for what he would never have again!
As if he’d heard her bitter thoughts, the door slid open and Fane strode into the room. Space was swallowed up by the power of his presence. He was not physically massive like Mal Ton. He was tall, his shoulders broad, but his body was lean and graceful.
“Did you miss me?” he asked with a playful smile. He raised his hand toward her face.
She stepped back, taking herself out of reach. “I mean to honor my vow, but there are some things I need to understand before we… consummate our agreement.” Let the games begin!
With an audible sigh, he lowered his hand and said, “I’m listening.”
She didn’t want to consider Max’s wild accusations, but the possibilities kept nagging in the back of her mind. “Did you recruit Nicho before or after he married me?”
He said nothing for a long time. A muscle worked above his jaw and a spark of gold flashed within his eye then vanished before she could determine whether or not it had been there at all. Shit! She’d expected a calm denial, not evidence of a guilty conscience.
“Nicho was a loyal citizen of Protaria.” His tone was gruff and dismissive. “Why would you doubt his allegiance now?”
For the first time since the disturbing words left Max’s mouth, she wondered if they might be true. Crossing her arms over her chest, she used his discomfort to make her bold. “Cut the bullshit, Fane. I know he was your spy.”
“Really.” His lips twisted in a wry little smile. “How could you possibly know that, even if it were true? And I’m not saying it was.”
Doubt swept through her in a numbing wave. Had Nicho worked for Fane? It was too horrible to consider, so she stubbornly held on to the illusion. “Why else would you…? What did you gain by…?” He stalked toward her, crossing the room with three long strides. She managed to hold her ground, but her thoughts scattered.
“Not tonight.” He let the statement hang in the air between them heavy with insistency and promise. “Tomorrow we’ll review all the reasons you have to hate me. We’ll negotiate the specifics of your release, but tonight is our wedding night.”
“This isn’t a real marriage.”
He splayed his fingers against her hairline, his palm lightly skimming her cheek. “It’s real to me.”
She started to object. He moved with lightning speed. His hands grasped her hips, pushing her back until her bottom pressed against the wall. He took the hem of her top with both hands and worked the garment up and over her head.
“Fane.” Her muttered protest went unheeded as he scrunched the material around her elbows and across her back, greatly reducing her range of motion. Her hands were trapped at her sides, rendering her panic weapon useless.
“Look into my eyes and tell me you don’t want this.”
Her nipples had already beaded in anticipation of his touch, but her mind remained aloof. She poured energy into her mental shields, determined to keep him out. This was meaningless lust. She could not let him erode her defenses. Carefully concealing her resentment, she licked her lips and looked into his eyes. “I instigated the alliance, remember?”
“I remember.” His thumb swept back and forth across her lips. He lowered his head and she allowed the kiss, using his eagerness to fuel her determination. I remember every kiss, every caress. I’ve never stopped thinking about you. Desire flowed into her mind along with his thoughts, dizzying, pulsing hunger that curled through her and lodged between her thighs.
Holy shit! How was she supposed to resist this?
She dragged her mouth from his with a moan. “How are you doing that?”
“I’ve sent my thoughts to you before.” His lips moved along her jaw and onto her neck as he spoke.
“You’re sending a whole hell of a lot more than your thoughts.”
His hand covered her breast and his mouth opened against the side of her neck, sucking firmly, sending prickly sensations deep into her chest. “Relax. Don’t analyze the feelings, just accept that you’re safe in my arms.”
He’d rescued her from Max. Even so, she’d never been safe with him. He’d always had an ulterior motive, always wanted more than the pleasure they shared.
“Stop thinking and be with me.” His hand remained on her breast, but he straightened, looking deep into her eyes. “I’ve learned not to question why things happen. I assess a situation and make the best decision possible given the circumstances. You’re in my life again. That’s all that matters.”
He didn’t allow her to contradict the concept. His mouth settled over hers and his hands insinuated themselves beneath her bound arms. She could feel the hard wall of his chest and the flat plane of his belly. He knew just how to touch her. He’d always known.
His lips were gentle now, almost mocking in their patience. He slid his mouth against hers, touching her lips with the tip of his tongue without venturing inside. She felt his longing, his need for her surrender and satisfaction surged. He craved the one thing she would never give him. Surrender required trust and she would never trust him again.
She touched the tip of her tongue to his as she checked her shields. Despite the sensations he was slipping into her mind, she was relatively certain he didn’t have access to her thoughts or emotions. She arched, rubbing her breasts against his chest. Let him think she was melting beneath the heat of his lust.
He came alive with sudden urgency, sucking her tongue into his mouth and grasping her bottom with both hands. Lifting her slightly, he aligned their lower bodies, pressing his cock into the softness at the apex of her thighs. She responded with her kiss, her tongue bold in his mouth.
Without releasing her mouth, he worked the fastenings at the front of her pants. The waistband gave and he pulled her away from the wall, allowing the loose garment to pool around her ankles. How far should she let this go? How much longer could she conceal her true intentions? She started to step out and kick them aside, but he shook his head.
“Not yet.” His voice was unsteady and he stepped back, his gaze scorching a path from her head to her feet.
Her arms were tangled in the top and the pants bunched about her ankles. It wasn’t hard to figure out what he was imagining. Why did he want her bound and helpless? A heated shiver raced down her spine. The thought was not nearly as distasteful as it should have been.
Search my heart. Search my mind. You have nothing to fear from me.
He wouldn’t hurt her physically. That wasn’t his style. He’d use her body, enslave her with passion then casually walk away.
After pulling his tunic off over his head, he draped it over the back of a chair. His chest was beyond lean, his flesh sculpted with brutal definition. He looked savage, far more dangerous than he had three years before.
“My strength has returned, but my body hasn’t fully recovered. Another week or two and I’ll be good as new.” He tugged off his boots and shed the rest of his clothes with indifferent efficiency.
His hips had always been narrow and the changes in his body weren’t as apparent in his legs. An intricate tattoo still undulated from his ankle to his hip on the right side of his body. It was a magical creature of some sort. She couldn’t remember what it was called. The long, slender body wrapped twice around his leg, the head nestling just below his hipbone. It had two sets of wings. One spread across his thigh, the other nearly circled his calf. She’d spent endless hours tracing the design with her fingers and her tongue. She was glad to see he hadn’t had it removed. It had always fascinated her.
“I didn’t mean to offend you.” Dragging her gaze away from the elaborate tattoo, she glanced at his cock. The impressive column of flesh was still every bit as appealing. “Even with the changes, you’re the sexist man I’ve ever known.” Why had she admitted it? He didn’t need any more tools in his arsenal.
“I’m not offended.” He bent to her breasts, anchoring her against him with an arm about her waist. Her shoulders rested against the wall and his pelvis pressed into her belly. “I’m ravenous.”
She clutched the material of her top as his lips drew firmly on her nipples. It felt so damn good, she was tempted to abandon her plan and sate her hunger. It was just sex. It didn’t mean anything. The past came barreling through the temptation, unwilling to be silenced so easily.
He nipped her breast and raised his passion-bright gaze to hers. Feel me. Know me.
Apparently he could sense her distraction, if not her specific thoughts. Lust exploded through her mind, jarring her body. She cried out, shuddering violently. Her body pulsed in great needful spasms, demanding and consuming. She pressed her thighs together and whimpered. It was taking all her concentration just to subdue her own desire. There was no way she could withstand experiencing his need as well.
With a ragged sigh, he eased back, stabilizing the sensations, muting the intensity. “We will talk, but not tonight.” The heat flared for an instant, singeing her senses before it mellowed to smoldering heat. “We’ve been apart too long.”
He kissed his way down her body as he sank to his knees. She should stop him. It wasn’t fair to let him… He’d never been concerned about what was fair! She pressed her hands against the wall and savored the coolness against her palms. Let him lick her pussy until she screamed with pleasure. It was no more than he deserved.
His hands cupped her ass, drawing her forward as he pressed his face into the juncture of her thighs. She waited for the skillful swirl of his tongue, knew how quickly he could obliterate her inhibitions with the stroke of that clever tongue. He didn’t move. Inhaling deeply, he held her scent inside him for endless moments before releasing it in a slow, humid stream.
She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, restless and anxious. Why was he soothed by her smell? His breath played through her curls, awakening tingles and focusing her attention on her body’s response to his nearness. Other than his hands on her ass, his breath was the only part of him that was touching her. So why did she feel weightless and hot?
With slow deliberation, his tongue pushed through her feminine curls and unerringly found her clit. She jerked, but he slid right past the sensitive bud and parted her folds. “Fane,” she whispered his name in helpless supplication.
Not yet. He was far too fond of that phrase.
His fingers joined his mouth in eroding her sanity. Pushing between her thighs from behind, he traced a path from the center of her body through the valley between her quivering cheeks. The pad of one finger paused to circle her anus and she jerked away. She was far from a novice when it came to pleasures of the flesh, but that was one thing she’d never done.
Trust me, Cassandra. I will never force anything on you.
She was counting on it, counting on his basic nobility to save her in the end. The tension obediently released. Whenever he said her name, her full name, in that whisper-soft tone, she melted and went all tingly inside. He continued his teasing trail, sliding smoothly in her gathering wetness. His fingers circled her core, accenting the hollow ache as he coated his skin with her essence. He drew her attention to her other opening, triggering sensations and longings she didn’t realize she possessed. She gently rocked her hips, desperately trying not to be distracted.
He squeezed her ass and caressed her hips, stroked her thighs and massaged her knees. At least he hadn’t taken the anal play any further than a few disturbing touches. She rested her head against the wall and accepted the unorthodox position. Everything about this was unusual. Why should the mechanics be any different?
His teeth caught the inside of her thigh, exerting enough pressure to make her gasp. “Mark my words. One day I will discover what it takes to focus your mind entirely on us.”
Sweeping his hand up the back of her leg, he bent her knee and angled her calf across his shoulder. Uncertainty rushed through her and she tensed. The position was off balance and open—vulnerable. He steadied her, one hand on her hip the other beneath her thigh.
“I’ve got you,” he assured.
“Can’t we move to the bed? Not yet.” She supplied his response, easily guessing what he was about to say.
He covered her slit with his mouth. His lips moved against her and his tongue pushed into her. She clenched her fists, wishing she could touch him, wanting to bury her fingers in his hair. He pushed her leg higher and angled his head, pulling her pussy right over his face. There was nothing sweet or tender in his kiss. This was savage and carnal and her body responded in kind. She arched into his mouth, grinding her flesh onto his thrusting tongue.
Her inner muscles tightened. His upper lip rubbed against her clit, creating a downward counterpoint to each inward jab. She shifted, increasing the pressure on her clit, and her orgasm burst.
The hand on her thigh slid higher, slipping beneath his lips for a moment. His fingers felt cool and intrusive after the torrid pleasure of his mouth. He glanced up, her fluids still gleaming on his lips and chin. Without a word he pushed a finger into her smoldering passage and watched her response. Her inner muscles convulsed with little aftershocks and he smiled.
He waited until she calmed then slowly withdrew and resumed his teasing trek from her core to her anus. She caught her lower lip between her teeth and tried not to tense. She should have realized he wasn’t finished. Fane never gave up on anything once it caught his attention. Excitement rippled through her as she thought of all the possible ways she could apply that particular concept. His finger pushed against her anus and her gaze flew to his.
“Pay attention,” he chastised.
“I was paying attention.”
“Then why did my finger catch you by surprise?” She expected him to move his hand now that he’d made his point, but he had something else in mind. “On the bed, hands and knees, ass in the air.”
Her jaw dropped and heat blazed across her face and upper chest. “I don’t think so.” She released a nervous laugh. “I’m not doing doggy-style.”
“I prefer to think of it as surrender, but that’s not what I had in mind.” He swatted her hip, long fingers catching the lower curve of her ass. “Now move.”
Reluctance hindering each step, she crossed to the bed and visualized the position he’d requested, so vulnerable, so open. “Fane, I really don’t want—”
He slapped her bottom with his open hand and a gasp interrupted her plea. The sting was momentary, but heat crawled across her skin and sank slowly into her muscles. “‘Companionship and comfort,’” he quoted. “You promised willingness for protection. Are you reneging on our deal already?”
“No,” she snapped. “I’m here, aren’t I? I am willing.”
“Prove it. If you’re offended by ‘doggy-style,’ then bend over the bed and spread your legs.”
“As if that’s any better.” Her voice sounded almost shrill.
Fast as lightning, he grabbed the back of her neck and pushed her down across the bed. Her hands came up automatically, so she ended up bent at the waist with her forearms resting on the bed. He moved behind her and kicked her feet apart.
Each aggressive movement angered her more, but she knew better than objecting. Most of their past encounters had been playful and hot. This was clearly discipline triggered by her reluctance. Arguing at this point would only make things worse.
He delivered two firm spanks to each side of her bottom and she clenched her teeth, trying not to react to the humiliating situation. She didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of crying out.
“Why am I spanking you?”
“Because you’re a sadistic pig.” The insult was out before she could stop the impulse.
A flurry of fast, hard swats was his only reply. The pain increased as his hand landed on areas already tender from previous slaps. She clawed at the bedding and clenched the muscles in her butt, doubly upset because she’d brought it on herself.
“Relax,” he directed. “It hurts worse when you tense up like that.”
She tried to obey, but her body simply wouldn’t cooperate. He spanked her again and a cry tore from her throat. Soon she cried out with each punishing stroke, which only added to her humiliation.
“What did you do wrong?” His tone was much more autocratic when he finally paused to speak.
Tension banded her chest and tears gathered in her eyes. A confusing combination of emotions twisted inside her: anger, humiliation, even fear. She knew Fane wouldn’t hurt her badly, but something menacing and powerful loomed in the distance threatening to shatter her emotional defenses.
“I need to obey you.” Her voice sounded so raw she barely recognized it as hers and hot tears spilled onto her cheeks.
The question surprised her. It was hard to think as the persistent throbbing gradually spread from her ass to her core. Even as a child, no one had dared to chastise her physically. Yet Fane dared. Fane hadn’t hesitated.
“I belong to you,” she whispered and heat cascaded through her body. “While I’m on Stilox.” The clarification was a reminder to both of them. Regardless of how intense this became, it was temporary.
Without explaining his actions, he walked to the nightstand and opened the drawer. His body blocked her view, but it was obvious from his movements that he was sorting through the drawer and collecting the item or items he sought.
Her curiosity got the better of her and she asked, “What are you looking for?”
“You’ll see.” When she started to move, he whipped his head around and warned, “Stay put or there will be consequences.”
She heaved a frustrated sigh, but maintained her lewd position.
He moved behind her and ran his fingertips over her spank-reddened ass. “Your ass was made for discipline. You look so damn hot like this.”
Hot, to be sure, but she meant it literally. Her skin still burned though the throbbing was starting to ease. Then she felt something cool slither between her cheeks and cover her puckered opening. She closed her eyes, dreading what was to come. Clearly, he hadn’t lost sight of what started this entire detour.
“Do you trust me?” Warmth crept back into his tone.
She opened her eyes and glanced over her shoulder. “Why is this so important to you? Isn’t my pussy enough?” She intended to stop this before he fucked her, so why was she allowing any of this?
“I will never harm you, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that no one else harms you.” His gaze locked with hers, his expression intense. “Either you believe that or you don’t.”
She turned her head back around, unable to withstand his penetrating stare. “I believe it.” And she did, but this wasn’t about trust. It was about betrayal, about a long delayed retribution.
“Then trust me with your body.” He eased his slippery finger just barely inside her ass. “All of it.”
She squeezed her eyes shut as the invasion continued, his finger pushing deeper and deeper. It felt odd, not painful, but definitely intrusive. He rotated his wrist and eased a second finger inside her. She moaned. The fullness was much more noticeable now. Her body felt stretched and invaded.
He slid his hand forward and back, slowly pumping his fingers into her snug ass. Cassie refused to think about what he was doing or how violently he would react to her rejection. She concentrated on the sensations, accepted the newness and the stark sexuality. He moved faster, pushing the pleasure higher then drawing it down through her body in a cascade of tingles.
Just when she thought she had control over the unwanted sensations caused by his punitive caress, he moved his other hand in front of her and covered her clit with one of his fingers. His hands worked in tandem. He filled her ass as he rubbed her clit, urging her arousal higher.
He closed his fingers around her clit and carefully squeezed as he pulled his finger all the way out. She came hard with a startled cry, shuddering violently as the spasms gripped her. “Oh, God, how did you do that?”
With a throaty chuckle he turned her around and paused for a consuming kiss. “If I weren’t so desperate to be inside you, I’d give you a more lengthy demonstration.” He swept her into his arms and placed her on the bed.
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