So, I was mated to an Atlan warlord who kissed like a god? Whatever. Once I was out of the commander’s office, I tugged at the cuffs, trying to work them off. I might be Dax’s mate, I might have all but humped his hard thigh, but I didn’t need to wear these darn things. I had put them on as part of the show for Commander Karter, not that I was going to go back on my word. I wasn’t. Once Dax helped me get my brother back, I would try to be a good little wife. Based on the way he kissed, a one-night stand would be pretty darn hot. Until then? I didn’t need these… I tugged and tugged… visible signs that I was connected to the warlord. Owned by him. Belonged to him. My word was more than enough.
I tried to pry them open. Nothing. Shit. They were snug, but at least I could get my fingers beneath the gold bands. Regardless, there was no give. Where the hell was the clasp?
I nodded at two warriors who saluted me as they passed me in the corridor. They were probably the last two salutes I’d get, for I wasn’t in the coalition fleet any longer. I’d made it two months, not two years. At least I wasn’t dead. Although it’s possible that being mated to… him might be worse.
He was brash and bold and that wicked grin only indicated a cockiness that drove me crazy. Somehow he could just breathe and I’d be angry. And horny. What was it about him? What was it about his kiss that made me insane? And horny. God, he was sex on a stick. Somehow he’d gotten me to want him to touch me. He’d told me what he wanted to do to me, cavemen level, carnal things—and I was thankful he’d done it in private—as I’d all but melted at his feet.
Not only that, I’d kissed him like a woman eager for his advances. At first, I’d kissed him back because, what the hell? Why not sample what he was offering? When his lips met mine, however, it was more like, more. Give me more. His rock-hard thigh had nudged between my legs and lifted me up so that he pressed perfectly against me. My pussy ached to be filled and my swollen clit had rubbed and awakened. Between his tongue in my mouth and the way I’d humped his leg, I’d been on my way to orgasm central. Shameless. He’d even growled as I’d gotten wet, like he could smell me or something.
No man had ever made me feel like that before. He’d had me pinned against the wall and completely at his mercy. I never liked being at anyone’s mercy, but with Dax, with his kiss and his touch and his whispered words and his… God, the hard feel of his cock against my lower belly where the body armor didn’t cover… I wanted it all.
But my decision to be his mate wasn’t made in a sex haze. I agreed to his bargain because I wanted to find Seth. He would help me do it, and I wouldn’t have to rot in prison for the rest of my life. With Dax’s size, his bravery, his brawn, I knew he was the best chance I had of getting my brother back.
I took a deep breath, then started down the hall toward the ship’s elevator. Dax was still in the commander’s room, and I had no idea why. He’d follow me eventually, because we had a deal. He’d said he’d die without me, which meant his species was seriously messed up. Hell, I’d lived twenty-seven years without a husband and I was doing just fine.
Sure, my vagina was practically dusty from disuse, but who needed a man, and all the drama, when a powerful vibrator was available? A vibrator never pissed me off. Of course, the vibrator didn’t have big hands, a rock-hard, muscled physique, or a very powerful demeanor. Nor kissed like there was no tomorrow.
Okay, fine. Dax was better than a vibrator. So far. I had no doubt I’d wish for the old reliable and silent dildo the first time I refused to act like a weak, silent wallflower.
“Ah!” I cried out, my cuffs suddenly radiating a stabbing pain into my wrists. “Fuck!” I stopped moving and wrapped my hand around a cuff. The pain didn’t lessen, but radiated up my arms. It was like being electrocuted but unable to take your hand off the live wire. I wouldn’t be surprised if my hair started to sizzle. What the hell had the warlord done to me?
Honeymoon over, I spun on my heel and stormed back down the hallway. Just before I got within the sensor’s range of the commander’s door, the pain stopped, but sharp tingles lingered. I shook my hands out, getting the blood to circulate. Maybe it was a loose wire in the cuff, a faulty connection or something? I took a deep breath, the pain disappearing entirely. Once again, I turned back around and started down the hall. I made it as far as last time and the pain returned. This time, I knew what to expect and I hissed with rage, not pain.
The asshole. What the hell was he doing? Was it remote control? Was he watching me now and laughing at me?
I marched back to the door, this time not stopping when it opened for me. Standing right where I left them were the two men. The commander looked me over and the warlord had a smug smile on his face.
“You’ve returned,” Dax growled.
I lifted my hands. “Yes, it seems the cuffs you gave me are defective.”
“As if you don’t know,” I grumbled.
The commander chuckled, slapped me on the back on his way out of the room. “It’s a good thing this little lover’s quarrel is no longer my responsibility,” he said, pissing me off more than Dax.
I pursed my lips and stormed out of the room, but this time I ensured Dax was right behind me.
We were alone in the hall. Only the soft hum of the ship’s systems could be heard when I turned on him, ready to fight.
Dax held up his hands and spoke before I could yell at him. “I have done nothing to your cuffs,” he told me. “They are functioning properly.”
“They feel like electroshock therapy! That’s not functioning properly.” I tugged at them again.
“Unbonded Atlan mates who wear the cuffs must remain within one hundred paces of each other, otherwise their cuffs produce a… pain that demands a return to closeness.”
“Closeness?” I yelled, I knew I was losing it, but being put on a leash like a dog pissed me off.
“Do you always shout?” he responded.
“Do you always hurt your mate?”
His expression, his entire demeanor changed at my question and he crowded me until my back was once more against the wall. I couldn’t help my damn self, I stared at his lips, wondering if he’d kiss me again. “Sarah Mills of Earth, you are my only mate. The last thing I wish to do is cause you harm in any way. It is my job to protect you, my privilege to bring you only pleasure.”
I blushed at the lingering feel of his mouth on mine, the way his hard thigh made my clit tingle and swell, but shrugged it off.
“Yet these… things,” I waved my arms in the air, “hurt.”
“Do you not think it hurt me as well?”
I glanced down at his wrists, at the gold cuffs there. “Yours caused pain, too?”
He nodded, a dark curl falling over his forehead. “We are mated and what hurts you, hurts me. What pleases you, pleases me. You cannot be more than one hundred paces from me without pain, but the restriction is placed upon both of us. I cannot be apart from you either until the fever is gone.”
That meant fucking. Lots and lots of wild monkey sex kind of fucking.
I looked him over. “You seem fine now.”
“The fever comes on at random. Like during the battle, I assure you, you will know when it is upon me again.”
“If these cuffs hurt so dang bad, then why didn’t you come after me?”
“Because while you might have been the leader of your squadron, I am the leader of our mating, and our mission to retrieve your brother.”
I shoved my way free of him and began to pace the hallway. “This is why I didn’t want a mate. This was why I didn’t want to agree to being mated. Men and their rules. You are all completely irrational.”
“You have only been in space two months. I have led coalition troops for over a decade. I know the Hive better than you do. I know more about what’s required to get your brother back. And, I’m Atlan and you’re not.”
I didn’t turn to look at him. I was angry and crazy and definitely losing it. I couldn’t go farther than one hundred paces from this guy without terrible pain. Why hadn’t he mentioned that before I agreed to put the cuffs on?
“Once we find your brother, we will settle on Atlan. I will show you my world. There are many experiences you have yet to enjoy. I would prefer we both survive to experience them.”
“So you want me to follow your lead since I’m… new to space life.”
“That’s part of it, but I am an Atlan male and I am in charge. If that is not enough to soothe your pride, to make your surrender acceptable, I am also your superior officer.”
“Not anymore. I’m a civilian now, remember?” I pursed my lips. Surrender? God, I was in trouble here because I surrendered to no one.
“The male is in charge, Sarah. It is our custom and the Atlan way of life.”
“Yes, you told me what Atlan women are like.”
“Yes, but you want me to be in control. You want your mate to lead.” He lifted his hand to my cheek and tilted my face so I looked up, way up, into his eyes. “You do not need to fight, Sarah. No more. I am here now. I will take care of you, as you truly desire.”
My eyes widened in disbelief. “I don’t need a man to take care of me and I definitely don’t want one!” I countered.
“You do, or we would not be matched.”
“Do I seem like a woman who wants to be led around all the time?”
He cocked his head to study me. “No, but you did like it when I kissed you. You had no control then.”
I winced because I couldn’t deny my reaction to that kiss, at least not honestly. He was right. I had liked it when he’d pinned me to the wall and took what he wanted. What woman didn’t want to be pressed up against a wall and fucked? What woman didn’t want a dominant male in the bedroom? Where was the fun leading a boy around by his balls all the time? There wasn’t any. But that didn’t mean I wanted him to be the boss of me. I had enough bosses in my life. Commander Karter was just the latest in a long string of commander officers and he was a pain in my ass.
I didn’t want to be legally bonded to one of them!
As for the kissing, I had to admit I wanted him to do it again, and not stop until we were both naked and spent. Not because he wanted to take the lead—in everything—but because I was only human and I had girl bits that longed for a real cock.
“So what happens now?” I patted the metal wall beside me, unable to resist goading the beast. “We get it on right here so I can cure your mating fever?”
His eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched. “While the idea of fucking you against that wall is appealing, I won’t take you unwillingly, or in a public place.”
“Why not?” I was relieved at his words, but couldn’t help myself as I backed up and lifted my hands over my head. I pressed my back against the wall and stared up at him with a blatant challenge in my eyes. The need to test his control rode me like a demon. I had to know just how far I could push him, what kind of man I was dealing with.
He stalked toward me until the smallest possible sliver of air separated us. His scent invaded my head and I wanted to drown in it, he smelled too good, like dark chocolate and cedar, two of my favorite things. I licked my lips as I held his gaze, daring him to do something crazy, daring him to break my trust.
His voice was a whisper. “Because you are mine, and no one will see your naked flesh but me. No one will hear your cries of pleasure when I take you. Your skin is mine. Your breath is mine. Your hot, wet pussy is mine. The whimpering pleas that I will force from your throat are mine. I will not share.”
I couldn’t breathe, was drowning in him and the erotic promise of his words.
“But know this, mate, if you continue to defy me, to tempt me to dishonor you, I will pull this armor from your soft body and bend you over my knee. Nor will you lie to me. I will have respect, Sarah Mills, or your bottom will be a bright, hot red before I fill you with my cock.”
What the hell? I tried to process that as he tilted his head and studied me. My pulse was like a drumbeat in my ear as I fought to recover from his dark declarations, all of them, for suddenly the idea of his firm hand on my bottom made me squirm, and not out of anger. Damn him, he noticed.
“Does it arouse you to be spanked?”
“What? No!” I replied, his words like a bucket of cold water thrown over my head. “Don’t you dare even think about it, Dax of Atlan.”
He grinned then and he looked more handsome than ever, and my breath caught in my throat. “You want me, woman. You want my hard cock filling you. You want me to touch you everywhere, claim you, mark you as my own. Admit it.”
“No. I don’t want a mate, Dax. I want to save Seth.” I shook my head but my heart was pounding so loudly I was sure he could hear it, even through my armor. I didn’t want his words to be true, but they were. Holy hell, I did want it. I wanted all of it. But not until I had my brother back safe and sound.
“I will help you retrieve your brother. I gave you my word.” He leaned in, not giving me any air. “You want me to take care of you, too, to keep you safe.”
“No, I don’t. I take care of myself.”
“This is bullshit, Dax.” I shoved against his chest. “We’ve got to go. We’ve to a rescue mission to plan.”
“You are the most difficult female I’ve ever met.”
I pushed my finger against his chest. “You are the most pigheaded, chauvinistic, arrogant—” The dark gray scrollwork that adorned the bright gold cuff taunted me as I poked at him. It was a sign of ownership, like a collar on a dog. Wrapping my hands about my wrist, I tugged at the stupid cuff. “Get these things off of me. I’ve changed my mind.”
I heard a growl rumble from his chest. He took hold of my wrist and tugged me down the hall. He was searching for something. When he pressed an entry button, a random door slid open and he shoved me inside. The room’s motion sensor turned on the light and I could see that he’d pushed me into a narrow room full of electrical panels. I had no idea what they did, but one wall was covered in cables and blinking lights. The floor and other walls were blue, indicating this room was maintained by engineering.
“What the hell, Dax?” I said, followed by a long string of swear words.
“Put your hands on the wall.” He looked over his shoulder and pressed a button beside the closed door, engaging the lock.
My mouth fell open. While the suggestion was pretty hot—at least in connection with the pervy thoughts his command brought about—now I was pissed.
“I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but I’m not fucking you in a closet.”
“Who said anything about fucking?” he responded calmly.
“Then what are you doing?”
“I’m going to spank you, of course.”
I pressed my back against the wall opposite the electric panels, my hands flat on the cool metal. “What?” He was truly out of his mind.
“You need it.” Dax took a step closer. Damn it, he was so big and this room was so fucking small.
“I need what? A spanking?” I laughed then. “Yeah, right.”
“You lied to me, repeatedly. I warned you, mate. You are mine now, and I will do whatever I need to do to make sure you know that.”
“You are crazy. Are all Atlan males this difficult, or is it just you?”
“You are still lying to me, and to yourself. In time, mate, you will come to me and tell me when you are scared, when you need my touch to soothe you, to ease your panic. Until then, it is my job to know when you need a firm hand.”
“On my ass? I think not.”
“You won’t admit you’re scared, that everything that has happened today is overwhelming. You are strong. I know this. But I am stronger. You can trust me to take care of you, Sarah. You are lashing out instead of admitting the truth. You dare me to discipline you with your lack of respect, your insults of my character and my honor. I can only assume you need me to take control but do not know how to ask me to do so. And so I will not wait for your admission, Sarah, I will simply give you what you need.”
His promise made my stomach lurch. He was so big, huge even. He was an alien, an Atlan warlord in charge of hundreds of soldiers, thousands. And as much as I tried to put on a brave face, I was terrified. My brother was most likely dead, as the commander had said, or on his way to becoming one of the Hive. I couldn’t fail him. Now I was mated to Dax and I wasn’t a normal, meek Atlan woman. Surely I would fail him as well. As soon as he realized I wasn’t what he wanted, he’d rip the cuffs off his wrists and send me packing. I’d go home alone and defeated. Lost. All my family gone.
I felt the first tear burn a trail down my cheek and shook my head in denial, turning away from Dax so he wouldn’t witness my weakness, so he wouldn’t know that he was right. I did need him to take control. The pressure was crushing me, suffocating me, and the idea of letting go, of surrendering… everything to someone else was like a seductive drug in my system. My mind screamed that it was wrong, but my heart pounded with both fear and longing, the war within threatened to tear me in two.
“Put your hands on the wall, Sarah.”
I only shook my head. While I craved it, it didn’t mean I’d let him know it. I must stay strong. I could hear my father’s voice in my head, demanding I never cry, never show fear or pain. You have to be tough, Sarah, the world won’t tolerate weakness.
Dax took a step closer, easily hooked a hand about my waist and spun me about. I had no choice but to place my hands on the wall, afraid I was going to fall. He tugged on my hips and pulled them out so I was bent at the waist. I started to rise, but a big hand came down on my pants-covered bottom.
“Dax!” I cried, stunned by the surprising burn of his palm against my ass.
“Leave your hands where they are. Ass out.”
“I will not let you—”
“You are not letting me do anything. I am giving you the spanking you need and you have no choice.”
His hands came around to the front of my pants and worked them open, then tugged them down along with my panties over my hips, then left them around my thighs. I felt cool air on my bare ass and I knew it stuck out for him to see.
“Dax!” I cried again, feeling more vulnerable than ever.
He didn’t leave me like that for long, but began to spank me then, swatting one side of my ass, then the other, never hitting the same place twice. It wasn’t overly hard, for I could only imagine how hard he could truly strike if he wanted. That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt, that my skin wasn’t heating up like fire.
“I am here for you. I’m not leaving you. I will find your brother. I will take care of you. I know what you need. You will not lie to me. You will not speak to me in a disrespectful tone. You will not deny your body’s needs or our match again.” He struck over and over as the tears streamed down my face in a river of anguish I felt like I’d bottled up for years, each swat of his hand like an emotional grenade as my control snapped.
I clenched my fingers on the wall, but had no purchase. “Dax!” I cried yet again, but now my voice was filled with raw emotion, not anger.
“No one is coming into this room. No one can see us. No one will think you are weak. Stop trying to deny what you need. Stop hiding from me. Let go.”
I shook my head then. “No.”
His hand stopped briefly, stroked over my heated flesh. “Ah, Sarah Mills, say these words: I don’t always have to be strong.”
After a minute, his hand patiently caressing my heated skin, I finally whispered, “I don’t always have to be strong.”
“Good girl.” He spanked me again and I startled. “I will be honest with my mate and myself.”
I repeated his words.
“I can trust that my mate will take care of me.”
I said those too and the spanking, in my mind, changed to something else. He wasn’t slapping my ass because he was punishing me, he was doing it because he had recognized something in me I’d never known existed. I had no idea how or why I needed a spanking, but just knowing that I was bent over and Dax was giving me no choice in it, that he was making me forget about everything, was liberating. The stinging swats had a wonderful ability to shut off my mind and I could trust that he was watching out for me. No harm would come to me as he did this. No one would see that my ass was bare and probably turning bright red. No one would see the tears on my cheeks. No one would see me, no one but Dax.
He wasn’t laughing at me. He wasn’t thinking I was weak. He was giving me a moment where nothing could hurt me and I could just forget it all. He was helping me release pent-up stress and emotions I wasn’t even aware had been choking me. Regret. Fear. Rage. Guilt. It was all in there, swirling like a tempest in my chest, pouring out of me in the tears streaming down my cheeks until I was empty, but calm, like the sea after a storm.
“I belong to Dax and he belongs to me,” Dax added.
I repeated the words, too tired to fight him or my own body’s desire. But his next words changed the mood in the room from calm to hot in the blink of an eye.
“Dax is mine. His cock is mine.”
I almost groaned at the dark tone of his words, my thoughts drifting to images of him fucking me from behind, right here, right now, in this stupid little closet. I repeated his words and the spanking stopped. I thought he was done, but his hand cupped my hot flesh, then slipped between my legs, over my folds to explore the heat I knew he’d find. He growled when his fingers encountered the wet welcome.
“My pussy belongs to Dax.”
I gasped as he slid two fingers inside me, then repeated the words. He leaned over my back so that his massive form pressed into me.
“You’re dripping wet, mate. I could fuck you now. Right now.”
His fingers slipped in and out of my empty core and I arched my back. All his carnal words had me primed for him. That kiss, his hands on me, even the spanking, made me eager for him. I knew that he would take care of me, that in this moment, I had to think of nothing but his fingers deep inside of me.
“You were a good girl and took your spanking so well. Now you can come.”
I groaned around a sob as he fucked me with his fingers, using two to stretch me open and one to rub my clit. As my tears dried, my mind blissfully empty for the first time in months, my body took over, needing release. Needing Dax to fuck me. I cried out as the first orgasm rolled over and through me, Dax’s thrust so hard and deep my feet nearly left the floor. It was impossible to remain quiet as the walls of my pussy went into a full spasm around his fingers, greedy for more. My sweaty fingers slipped down the wall and Dax wrapped his free arm around my waist, lifting me up until I was suspended in midair, my back to his chest, his fingers deep inside me.
He wasn’t finished with me and in seconds he’d pushed me to the brink again. I clenched down on his fingers as I came. Even after the ripples of aftershocks receded, he kept them still, but deep within. The pleasure, the stinging pain all coalesced and I cried again, tears I hadn’t allowed to fall for years poured from my body like acid. I let it all out: grief over the death of my brothers and then my father, fear that I’d lose Seth, the stress of command, guilt over the men I’d lost in combat. It felt as if a lifetime of bottled pain exploded from me.
He slipped his fingers from me and pulled me into his arms, hugging me close. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been hugged, the last time I’d truly been held. Sure, I’d had sex before, but it had been fairly emotionless, more hot release than true, intimate connection. My father had kept me at arm’s length, for he had not been a coddler. With three older brothers and no mother around, there had been no emotion, no tenderness in our house. It was more a Lord of the Flies existence, where only the strong survived. I’d never regretted my life, or my decisions. But being here, in Dax’s arms, made me tired, mentally and emotionally exhausted in a way I’d never allowed myself to feel, in a way it had never been safe to feel.
How had one big brute of a space alien seen past my armor—and it wasn’t the warrior clothing I was referring to—and known what I needed more. I was strong, perhaps too strong, and it had taken him all of ten minutes to crack me open like an egg.
Even against the hard plate of his chest armor, I could hear his heart beating. I was, for once, calm and remarkably at peace. Nothing was going to happen to me right now. I was safe and my mind was quiet.
“Better?” he asked, once my crying jag subsided.
“Better,” I replied. My body was soft and pliant, my ass fiery hot and sore. But I felt like someone was paying attention to me, for me. I didn’t know how, but I’d needed that spanking. Analyzing my reactions would just make me crazy, so I resigned myself to figuring that all out later.
I stiffened in his hold and realized my ass was sticking out. I tugged up my pants and fixed the fastening, once again putting myself to rights. I tried to walk away, shame chasing the contented glow from my mind the moment I’d lost his touch, but he stopped me with a hand on my chin, lifting my face to look at him.
“Watching you come is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” His thumb stroked my cheek and I couldn’t help it, I leaned into his touch as he continued. “You are mine. You will never be alone, never sleep alone, never fight alone. You are mine and I will never leave you.”
“Dax. I can’t think about that right now. I just can’t. I have to save Seth.”
“We will save Seth.”
“Okay. We will save Seth.” As much as I hated to admit it, having him help me was a huge relief.
“And then you will come home with me and we will begin a new life.”
I nodded, unable to deny him right now. All my carefully constructed walls were gone, torn down by my new mate with his strength and iron will.
“Good, because I want your throaty little sighs of pleasure just for my ears. Your pussy walls all but milked my fingers, but I want to feel you come on my tongue. I want to taste your mouth and your pussy. I want to hold you down and fill you with my cock until you beg me for release, and I want to make you come over and over until you beg me to stop.”
Holy shit, that was hot. Dax was blatant and completely unashamed in his desire for me. I’d never felt anything more real, more intense.
I felt his cock, hard and thick, against my belly. “What… um, what about you?”
He held up my hand and traced a path of dried blood that colored my skin, a reminder of all that we’d done today. “The mating fever could come upon me at any time. When it comes, my actions may be beyond my will to control. Just know that you are the only one who can soothe it. I will fight not to take you if you are resistant, but my life will be in your hands. You may have to take me.”
I imagined him flat on his back as I rode him like a wild woman, his cock thick and deep as I ground my hips against his, taking what I wanted from him. I couldn’t shake the idea of having this strong, powerful warlord on his back and between my thighs, mine to take. When he added a sly grin at the end of his declaration, I knew that while he was serious, he was also flirting. This big space alien covered in Hive blood was actually flirting with me. For once, I had no comeback.
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