“Why did you ask me about going out with Nikki when Zilrath already told you no?”
Oh, shit. This was bad. “I… that is, Zilrath couldn’t give me a good reason. He just didn’t want me to go.”
His gaze narrowed even more and a muscle in his cheek twitched before he growled out, “Lose the robe and sit down. I will not listen to any more of your lies.”
That hadn’t been a lie, exactly. More like a slight twist on the truth. Zilrath had given her a reason. She just didn’t happen to agree with it.
The angry snap in Kellan’s tone set Jasmine in motion. She dropped the robe and sat down on the nearest chair. It happened to be the only one visible from the back door. Perfect. She’d be the first thing Zilrath would see when he walked in from the back yard.
Kellan made Jasmine sit in the living room stark naked until Zilrath returned. “This isn’t the bedroom,” she grumbled after ten minutes.
“This is part of the punishment you earned while we were intimate,” he countered. “I’m well within the parameters of our agreement.” His feet were bare and his hair unkempt, but he’d never looked so damn sexy.
She crossed her legs and arms and glared out the window. Kellan might have been wonderful a few hours ago, but he was back to being an overbearing jerk.
“Put your hands on the arms of that chair and open your legs or I’ll spank your rebellious ass.”
That’s doubtlessly where this was headed anyway. For half a second she thought to defy him, but the steely edge in his tone warned her not to push. With a frustrated sigh, she obeyed, feeling more foolish with each passing minute. Did she really think these two would fall for the same sort of bullshit she’d used on her parents?
This was her worse infraction yet. Would Kellan be satisfied with a barehanded spanking? Or would he choose something more severe? A paddle? She shivered and her core clenched in on itself. Or maybe a belt. Just thinking about it was making her squirm, so she looked out the window again, careful to keep her body open and her expression blank. If rut was making her act insane, it wasn’t fair to punish her for it. Kellan of all people should understand that she couldn’t help it.
That’s nonsense, and you know it, her inner voice chided. You were not out of control. It felt good to be reckless, to rebel. You wanted Kellan to lose control because you knew it would hurt Zilrath.
She tried to stifle her conscience, which only made the bitch more determined to make her point. You knew Kellan would be pissed when he found out, but you didn’t care. You knew Zilrath would feel betrayed, but you sucked even harder. All you cared about was you!
With a stubborn shove, she forced her pesky conscience to the back of her mind and wallowed in self-pity. The Skarilians had ruined everything! Live had been hard before, but at least it made sense. The autocratic rules forced on females weren’t fair. Males weren’t punished when they misbehaved! These aliens were bullies, plain and simple. Maybe she wouldn’t bond with them after all.
She was still sulking when Zilrath slid open the door an hour later. He nodded at Kellan, then spotted her and froze. “Can I expect this welcome every day?” He locked the door behind him, then strolled across the living room, gaze devouring Jasmine’s naked body.
“Our mate is being punished for flagrant disobedience,” Kellan explained.
“Who did she disobey?” Zilrath wanted to know.
That confused Jasmine. She’d presumed Zilrath had talked to Kellan. How could Zilrath not know?
“When you commed to inform me you were running late, you mentioned that you’d refused to let our mate go on an outing with Nikki Orellian. You warned me that Jasmine would likely be a little surly.”
Zilrath’s voice dropped half an octave as he asked, “Did she ask you for permission too?”
“I shouldn’t need permission to go out to dinner with a friend,” she muttered under her breath, refusing to look at either of them.
“She waited until I was distracted by her scent and the softness of her body,” Kellan explained. “Then she casually mentioned the outing as if it were no big deal.”
“It is no big deal,” she snapped, daring to look at her tormentors.
Zilrath moved toward her slowly, disappointment and frustration shaping his expression. “I have very good reasons for my caution. There have been beatings, riots, and all sorts of vandalism. The haters grow more brazen with each passing day.”
She started to defend herself, but Kellan interrupted her. “I wasn’t finished listing her infractions.”
That clearly surprised Zilrath. He looked at her and sighed, though he spoke to Kellan. “What else did our naughty mate do?”
Kellan moved up beside Zilrath, forming a solid wall of disapproval in front of her. “I kissed her as I always do when I return, but her response was unusually enthusiastic.”
“I wasn’t the only enthusiastic one. Thank you very much.” Her sarcasm earned her a scowl from both males.
“Who suggested we not wait for Zilrath?” Kellan locked his hands behind his back, in full-on Master mode.
She was doomed. “I did,” she admitted in a quiet, resigned tone.
Kellan looked at Zilrath and added, “Her exact words were, ‘Do we have to wait for Zilrath? I want to concentrate on you, and only you, for a change.’”
Zilrath’s chin came up, but he didn’t quite hide the hurt in his smoky blue gaze. “Did you come inside her?”
Jasmine’s soul grimaced as she waited for Kellan to rattle off all the sordid details. What was wrong with her? This was not who she was. Why had she behaved like a petulant teenager determined to get her own way?
All Kellan said was, “Twice.”
Anger gradually burned through Zilrath’s weaker emotions. His elegant features hardened and his hands folded into fists.
Without giving her an opportunity to defend herself, Kellan said, “You’re the one she wronged, so I think you should punish her.”
Thank God! Zilrath insisted he had no interest in hurting her. She let out her pent-up breath and fought back a smile. Today was suddenly looking brighter.
Zilrath came to life with smoldering menace. He took another step forward and carefully fisted the back of her hair. His grip didn’t hurt. She was just shocked by his aggression. “Did you fuck Kellen to get back at me?”
The answer was obvious, so she didn’t bother to lie. “Yes.”
“Were you aware that letting Kellan come inside you could compromise the bonding?”
“I haven’t agreed to bond with you yet,” she pointed out, careful to keep all emotion out of her tone.
“Answer the question!” Kellan snapped.
Her disobedience had been deliberate, and her mates had no intention of letting her wiggle free of the consequences. “Yes, I was aware,” she muttered, frustrated and a little afraid. At least Kellan wasn’t going to punish her. She was good at listening to lectures, had years and years of practice.
She tried to steel herself against the hurt and disappointment in Zilrath’s eyes, but the raw emotions upset her. Zilrath had offered much and asked very little in return. He wanted to keep her safe, asked that she and Nikki dine at the house. It was the only time he’d put his foot down with her, so why had she defied him?
As if hearing her thoughts, he asked, “Why?”
“I don’t know,” she cried, throwing her hands in the air. “That’s the honest to God truth. I don’t know why I was so desperate to—be with Kellan. I’ve never felt like that before.”
“Your desires are heightened,” Kellan allowed, “but rut doesn’t make you mindless. Stop using it as an excuse.”
She dragged her gaze away from Kellan’s disapproving scowl and looked at Zilrath. Kellan deserved everything he got. His inflexibility begged to be challenged. But Zilrath had been nothing but nice, he’d offered tenderness and selfless pleasure. And she’d betrayed him.
“I’m sorry. I was wrong.” She meant every word but dreaded what came next. She’d screwed up, and now it was time to pay the piper. All the begging in the world wouldn’t make this go away. She might as well get through it with her dignity intact. “I’m ready to be disciplined. What’s my punishment?” Would he make her scrub floors or deny her sex for a few nights? No, that would punish him too. He’d just deny her orgasms. Maybe it wouldn’t be sexual. She honestly had no idea how Tavorians dealt with misbehavior.
“I was hoping we would never have to do this, but Tavorians are just as capable of changing behavior as the Ventori. And you have mistaken my patience for weakness. I can see it in your eyes. Go upstairs. What I need for your punishment is in our bedroom.”
The directive dashed her hopes. There was only one reason he’d take her to the bedroom. The punishment was sexual. Damn.
Still determined to meet the challenge head-on, she raised her chin and squared her shoulders. Then she pushed to her feet and crossed the living room. The stairs made her feel vulnerable. Both males ascended behind her, so they were doubtlessly enjoying the view.
Who cares? she encouraged herself silently. It’s nothing they haven’t seen before.
By the time they reached the master bedroom, Jasmine had regained her composure. She moved to the side of the bed and silently waited for Zilrath’s next move.
“Get on the bed and lie down on your belly,” Zilrath told her as he leaned down and tugged off his boots.
If Kellan had given her the order, she might have worried about it. But Zilrath swore Tavorians didn’t use pain to control their females. Still, trepidation knotted her gut as she moved into position. She hated it when they forbid her to come. It was almost worse than the sinking heat and sting of a spanking. Lying down on her stomach, she folded her arms and turned her head, so she could still see her mates.
Potential mates. The rebellious thought didn’t ease her anxiety.
Zilrath had taken off his jacket and boots but made no move to undress further. He grabbed two of the pillows and motioned toward her butt. “Raise your hips. I want these under you.”
She tensed. “Is this going to be another no-coming-forever sort of punishment?”
Kellan slapped her bottom hard, one side and then the other.
She gasped at the sound as much as the sting. “What the fuck was that for?”
“Watch your language,” Zilrath snapped, his tone as cold as Kellan’s.
Perfect. They were ganging up on her now.
And sure enough, Kellan followed suit. “If Zilrath wants you to know his intentions, he’ll tell you. Now be still and do as you’re told.”
Angry and outnumbered, she fell silent and impatiently waited to see what Zilrath would do next. He motioned again, so she obediently lifted her hips.
After positioning the pillows under her pelvis, he said, “Relax.” Then moved out of her field of vision.
She scoffed. She wouldn’t be able to relax until this ridiculous punishment was over.
She could hear someone moving around, but refused to look, tried to convince herself she didn’t care what they were doing.
“A Ventori pod was preparing this house for their mate,” Zilrath said. Was he talking to her or Kellan? It didn’t matter. She wasn’t going to respond regardless. “She chose one of her other matches, and they were transferred to one of the outposts.”
“They left behind some interesting toys.”
The amusement in Kellan’s tone sent a chill down her spine. Anything that amused Kellan spelled trouble for her. “What sort of toys?
Zilrath moved to the top corner of the bed and bent to one knee. He angled his body, looking at something on the bed frame or maybe the floor. She heard a metallic click, and then he caught her wrist.
“Wait! What are you doing?” She tugged against his hold, but he ignored her. He closed a restraint cuff around her wrist. It was made out of metal or alloy, but the lining felt soft against her skin. “I don’t need to be restrained,” she cried. “I won’t fight you. I want this over with as quickly as possible.”
Without speaking a word, he attached a cable to the restraint and took out the slack, neatly immobilizing her arm diagonal to her body. He circled the bed and repeated the process with her other wrist and both ankles. In a matter of minutes, she was spread-eagled on the bed, stacked pillows angling her butt into the air. Her thighs were spread, pussy and ass accessible and on display. It was degrading. She’d never been so humiliated. Not even the first time she ‘entertained’ someone on the internet had she felt this embarrassed.
“I can think of all sorts of uses for this position.” Sensual amusement rippled through Kellan’s tone. The bastard was enjoying this.
Zilrath sat on the side of the bed and grabbed a handful of her hair. “Look at me.” When she didn’t move, he slowly pulled on her hair, forcing her head back, then to the side. “Both Kellan and I are inundated with conflict at work. Our home must be a haven, a safe place we can come to unwind and find comfort. Our mate is the primary source of that comfort. She cannot add to the conflict or all is lost.”
Her lips trembled as shame washed over her soul. “I already said I was sorry. I wasn’t thinking about you. I just wanted—”
He stemmed the flow of words with his fingers against her lips. “You will only speak to answer a question until this session has ended. Do you understand?”
Her chest ached with unshed tears. She was guilty as hell but honestly couldn’t explain why she’d stirred up trouble. She usually avoided conflict. “Yes, Sir,” she whispered, then closed her eyes.
“Look at me.”
This was worse than Kellan’s punishments. Why didn’t Zilrath just spank her and be done with it? Reluctantly, she opened her eyes. He looked so sad and so damn disappointed. A tear escaped the corner of her eye and ran into her hair. “I’m sorry.”
“I know, but this cannot happen again. Kellan and I are working hard to find a middle ground where we can live comfortably. It’s not easy, but it will be impossible if you are sabotaging our efforts.”
“I won’t,” she insisted. “Never again. I promise.”
“I think you mean that right now, but this is too important. I must drive the message home. I already care for you and want this joining to work. That’s why I must do this.” He loosened his hold on her hair and returned her head to a more natural angle. Then he eased her head down until the side of her face rested on the bedding.
She tried to watch him, but he quickly moved out of her partially obstructed line of sight.
For a moment she couldn’t see anything except for her arm and the section of wall in front of her face. Tension built and she clenched her fists. Was this pause intentional? Had they left the room? She tried to turn her head more sharply, but her hair blocked her view.
“Relax, or you’ll strain your neck.” Kellan’s strong hand lightly squeezed the back of her neck until she returned to a more comfortable position. “Part of discipline is learning to accept each element as it comes.”
“I’m not good with surprises.”
The mattress dipped as someone joined her on the bed. Kellan stood near the head of the bed, so this explained where Zilrath had gone.
Zilrath ran a finger down her spine as he spoke in a conversational tone. “A pureblood Tavorian male can produce different chemical compounds through the skin on his hands, or his cock.” As he spoke, his hands wandered across her back, along her sides and onto the cheeks of her ass. “The potency and nature of these chemicals are determined by his emotions.” He stroked her hips and waist, then back up her sides. “He can control the compound to an extent on his hands, but his cock is entirely spontaneous. If he’s aroused, the chemicals heighten desire and the intensity of pleasure for him and his partner. This increases his chances that the female will allow him to join with her again. Obviously, the more he fucks her, the better his chances of producing offspring. It’s an evolutional adaption.”
She’d already felt the effects of the oily substance he was describing now. What in the world did the other compounds do? And why this lesson on Tavorian biology?
He knelt between her thighs, and she froze, paralyzed by uncertainty. Was he going to fuck her while she was unable to move, maybe take her roughly without letting her come?
She waited for the brutal thrust of his cock into her pussy. Then another possibility trapped the breath in her lungs. Oh, God, is he going to fuck my ass?
He did neither, and her sluggish mind finally focused on his words. There had to be a reason he was babbling on about the oil his skin produced. Her eyes widened, and her breath escaped in a shuddering rush. “What else can your skin produce?” And why involve his cock if his other compounds weren’t sexual?
“The second compound is a stimulant, but it’s much less pleasant than the first.” His fingers swept up her inner thigh and teased her folds. “This is what I want, what I ached for the entire time I was gone. I want the hot grip of my mate’s soft pussy. I want to fuck you slowly and kiss you deeply until you beg me to let you come.”
She whimpered. His fingers teased over her slit as he spoke, reawakening her desire.
“Then I want to sit back and watch Kellan fuck you. I never thought of myself as a voyeur, but I can’t get the images out of my mind.”
“Let’s do that,” she pleaded. “It’s what I want too.”
“No. You want Kellan’s seed dripping from your cunt and spilling down your throat. You want to hurt me.” His tone turned brittle and cold, then suddenly his cock stabbed into her pussy. She was wet, so there was no pain, but it felt intrusive and punitive. He held perfectly still as he finished his explanation. “This compound is produced by my anger. At this potency, the sensations should be quite unpleasant. And inescapable.”
He withdrew completely, and she waited for her punishment to start. Unpleasant, not painful? She could deal with that. It started slowly, a faint increase in temperature. Then tingles broke out, making her inner walls clench spasmodically.
“How long will this last?” Rubbing against the bedding made the prickling heat worse, so she tried to hold perfectly still.
“It will last until I apply the antidote.”
She gritted her teeth and squeezed her eyes shut. The sensations attacked her in waves. Swelling with heat and irritation, then ebbing into the faintest tingle. This wasn’t so bad. If she breathed through the worst of it, she had a second or two to regroup before the next wave hit.
But Zilrath wasn’t finished. In fact, he’d barely begun. He caressed her ass cheeks, stroking the skin almost apologetically. Then his fingers slid into the valley between her cheeks.
“No!” She clenched hard, determined to keep him away from her sensitive opening.
“A little help, please,” Zilrath said, and Kellan was happy to lend a hand, or two.
Kellan held her cheeks open so Zilrath could take his time. He circled her opening several times before pushing a finger—no, that had to be two—deep inside her back channel. Her muscles stretched and heat flared quickly into burn. She cried out and jerked her hips, but there was no slack in the restraints. She couldn’t move, couldn’t escape the incessant burning.
“That hurts!” she cried. “It really hurts.”
Zilrath was unmoved by her pleas. “There are more nerve endings back here than in more traditional locations.” He rotated his wrist and repositioned his fingers, pushing even deeper into her helpless body. “Accept the pain. The harder you fight against the surges, the longer they will last.”
“I hate you! This is torture. I’d rather have Kellan spank me with a belt!”
Kellan released her ass cheeks and moved back up the bed. “Your body knows how to process these sensations. You’re already soaking wet.”
To her horror, Zilrath wasn’t finished. He withdrew his fingers and slowly pushed something even larger into her ass. It was cold and slick, definitely not his cock. A dildo or some sort of plug? He pulled it back just as slowly, causing the sensations to ripple and swirl. There had been no change in the thickness, so it wasn’t a butt plug.
She shrank away from the invasion, but Zilrath easily followed her every move. He didn’t touch her with anything but the cursed toy. No reassuring pat or warm caress. Her face flushed with humiliation and regret. Even as she made Kellan come, she’d known there would be consequences. Still, she’d never imagined anything like this.
Zilrath casually fucked her ass with the unseen toy, while her nervous system went haywire. She thrashed against the bed, tugging hard on her restraints. None of it did any good. Her skin was on fire, and her muscles were taking turns cramping. “Make it stop! I’m sorry! Oh, God, I’m so so sorry!” Her voice broke, and a ragged sob shuddered through her.
Zilrath shoved the toy deep, then leaned over her. With the weight of his body pressing her down into the bed, it felt like his cock was penetrating her ass, not the nasty little toy.
“Why are you suffering?” he whispered into her ear.
She screamed in exasperation. They’d been through all this already. “I screwed up! I made Kellan come twice knowing it would make you angry.” She tried to buck and toss her hips, but she could barely move. Tears streamed down her face, wetting her cheeks and blurring her vision. She was trapped, covered, utterly dominated by the nicer of her two mates. Endless swells of pleasure-pain eroded her emotional defenses, leaving her raw and exposed. And her pussy ached. God above, how her pussy ached. “Please, Zilrath, fuck me. I can’t take this anymore.”
“Then tell me why,” Zilrath said in the same flat tone. “Why did you want to hurt me and create conflict between Kellan and me?”
“I don’t know,” she wailed, sobbing harder now. “I was selfish. I’m sorry.”
With a frustrated sigh, he rocked back onto his knees and drew the toy nearly out of her ass. “Do you want this pod to be successful?”
He paused, then sighed. “I don’t believe you.”
The toy drove back into her ass with one brutal thrust. She cried out, the sound choked and broken. “Stop! Please, please stop.”
“If you were serious about this pod, you wouldn’t provoke us.” He fucked her hard with the toy, ruthlessly keeping her orgasm just out of reach.
“I’m s-sorry,” she sobbed. The two words repeated in an endless litany as the hated toy penetrated her ass over and over. She felt defiled, humiliated, her anger long past. She had selfishly shoved Zilrath away when all he’d done was try to please her. Gradually, her tears dried up. She was empty, utterly spent. She lay passive and resigned, accepting the punitive thrusts of her tormentor. “Why won’t you believe me?” she whispered, voice trembling.
He slowed and finally stopped, but left the tip just inside her, a silent reminder of his domination.
She didn’t move, was half-afraid to breathe. Without the endless shuttle of the toy, the intensity eased just enough to reengage her mind. If she said the wrong thing, he would resume her punishment, or move on to something even more degrading. “I want to be a good mate to both of you. I honestly don’t know why I hurt you, but it will never happen again.”
After another long pause, he removed the toy and set it aside. “We need a female who is as dedicated to this pod as we are. You need to decide if that female is you.” He pushed his fingers into her ass, and within seconds all she felt was pleasant warmth and an occasional tingle. But her pussy still smoldered and pulsed.
She heard the clank of a belt buckle, then the shuffling of clothes. Something thick and warm slowly sank into her pussy. She moaned, welcoming his cock with a firm squeeze. He didn’t stop until he bottomed out inside her, but he didn’t fuck her either. He held perfectly still and let her body absorb the antidote.
“Please, Zilrath. I really need you.”
She heard his heavy sigh, then his hands gripped her hips, and he pulled nearly out. She thought he’d withdraw completely, but he drove back in. Then his hands slid up her sides and cupped her breasts. Her nipples tingled and her clit twitched. Clearly, the nature of his oil had returned to the sexual stimulant. He fucked her, steady, smooth thrusts that eased her discomfort and quickly triggered her orgasm. His release echoed hers, the warm gush of seed soothing her from the inside out.
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