Despite her determination not to get involved, Andrea absorbed the details of Roark’s research like a sponge. So many elements of the situation held unique possibilities and Andrea thrived on challenge. She was halfway through the first case study when she realized she’d been set up. Why was the documentation in Standard? Roark had left the workstation active, knowing she wouldn’t be able to resist reading his work.
Anger spiked through her and she shoved away from his desk. She would not follow his trail of bread crumbs like an obedient pet. Pacing the office and staring through the observation windows only made the information more tempting and allowed her simmering senses to boil.
Do you want Mal Ton to punish you? A barrage of unwanted images accompanied the question. Mal Ton bent her over the side of a bed, pulled down her pants, and proceeded to spank her naked butt. Even the fantasy was disconcerting, arousing in a way she’d never dreamed possible. Only weak, abused people craved discipline, and she was neither. So way did she find the possibility so titillating?
Her imagination moved on to more familiar scenarios. Naked and trembling, she knelt before Roark. He caressed her face with gentle hands while he rocked his cock in and out of her mouth. Behind her, Mal Ton thrust, filling her pussy completely again and again. She wanted them, needed them to… What was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she control this desire?
With a frustrated groan, she shook away the fantasies, but the longing remained. She was well and truly trapped. Her family believed she was off saving an alien world. No one would rescue her. Desperate for a distraction from the hunger pulsing through her body, she glanced at the desk and cursed her captors. They had planned this perfectly, leaving her absolutely nothing to do but familiarize herself with the crisis.
Understanding the situation didn’t ensure her participation. It was as good a rationale as any so she returned to the desk. She was still paging through the files when a dour-faced soldier delivered a tray of food. Curled up in Roark’s large chair, she nibbled at the contents of the tray. The video segments and scanner records held far more appeal than the simple fare.
Roark had painstakingly traced the course of the mutation, noting possible connections and similarities between patients. He’d documented failed attempts at arresting its virulent spread as well as noting several compounds that slowed the transformation’s progress. They weren’t looking for another treatment. They expected a cure.
“Find anything interesting?” Roark miraculously kept the smugness from his tone when he returned later that evening.
“You’re a jerk and you know it.” She didn’t look up from the screen inset in his desk. Concentrating on the information had kept her desire more or less suppressed for the past few hours. She couldn’t afford a relapse now. “Do both Stilox and Protarians possess a triple helix or is that the genetic adaptation you mentioned last night?”
“Only the Stilox have triploid physiology. Is that important?” He sat in one of the chairs facing her and she raised her gaze.
Her memory hadn’t exaggerated his physical appeal. His wavy dark hair begged for her fingers and she wanted to feather kisses across his smooth, caramel-colored skin. Were his eyes always this bright a teal or did they darken to emerald when he came? Heat curled through her, building with each downward turn. Her lips tingled, her nipples hardened, and the muscles in her abdomen clenched. A distinct rhythm erupted in her core as she imagined the fullness of his cock… She was in serious trouble. How could she combat this intoxicating need?
Clearing her throat, she dragged her gaze away from his handsome face. “Everything is important until I understand the crisis.” Fortifying herself with years of training and professional detachment, she cut through the sensual haze. She must have current samples and more specific scans. “It says here there’s a formula that hinders the mutation’s development. Why was that path abandoned?”
“It wasn’t. The inhibitor is vital. Without it, all of us would be dead. Unfortunately the compound only slows cellular mutation and prolongs the inevitable. We need a permanent and complete genetic reversal.”
She nodded, lost in thought. If she could identify the DNA segments responsible for the mutation or better yet transcribe the entire strand back to a point before the mutation began… She bit back the questions flooding her mind. He must not realize how close she was to capitulation.
“Even if I can find a way to arrest the mutation—and I’m not saying I can—I can’t do it in response to Mal Ton’s threats.” She scooted to the edge of the chair and folded her hands on the desktop. “He has to release me and begin a legitimate negotiation.”
Roark pushed to his feet and raked his hair with both hands, smoothing the wavy strands away from his face. “This isn’t a game, Andrea. Mal Ton is ready to do whatever it takes to gain your cooperation. You can’t imagine what this conflict has cost him. You had a glimpse of what’s in store for you on the transport. Give me something useful.”
“If I allow myself to be forced into this, I’m setting a precedent for—”
“To hell with your justifications.” He slammed his hand down on the desktop and leaned toward Andrea. “Can you do it or not?”
“It doesn’t matter as long as I’m a prisoner.”
“Every day you squander locked in this battle of wills costs someone else their life. How can you justify that?”
Before she could respond to his passionate outburst, the office door slid open and Mal Ton stood framed by the threshold. “May I presume from your frustrated expression that she’s accomplished nothing today?”
“Last chance, Andrea.” Roark’s voice was tight as he straightened and jerked down his shirt. “Tell me something—anything—and he won’t punish you.”
Mal Ton chuckled. “But she wants me to punish her. Haven’t you figured that out?”
Andrea pushed back from the desk and stood. “You’re deluded. I want nothing from you.”
Mal Ton’s brow arched. “You want my cock and we all know it. You’re just not sure how I’ll give it to you.”
He was right, but how did he know? Had he given her something to ensure her receptiveness or was this some latent desire she had yet to explore? Her body responded instantaneously each time he touched her. Sexual tension pulsed between her and Roark as well, but he hadn’t tested the attraction.
“Now or never, kitten.” Mal Ton’s lips parted in a salacious smile and lust ignited in his luminous eyes. “Once this starts, you’re mine for the night.” He took one long-legged step toward her. “I’ll be deaf to your protests and ruthless in my expectations of you.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to help you.” She pushed the tall-backed chair between them, her gaze darting to Roark. As before, he watched in disapproving silence but made no move to hinder the commander. “If you release me, maybe we can work something out.”
“Maybe is not good enough.” Mal Ton shoved the chair aside and captured her wrist. “Negotiations are closed until tomorrow. Let’s go.”
“Go where?” She tugged against his grasp with both hands but it made no difference. He dragged her out from behind the desk and headed for the door. “Where are you taking me?”
“Roark, accompany us.” He tossed the command over his shoulder without turning around.
After an instant of blinding terror, she assessed her surroundings, watching for unusual markings or anything that would identify one corridor from another. A sound, a smell, surely there was something unique in this complex. Stark gray walls and smooth marbled flooring made each passageway look the same. She continued resisting, but the slipper-like shoes Roark had given her skidded across the floor despite her best efforts to halt their progress.
Mal Ton pulled her along as if she weighed nothing. She dug her fingernails into his forearm. He didn’t even flinch. Pausing before a door indistinguishable from the others, Mal Ton waited for a scanner beam to pass over his face. The panel recessed into the wall and he pushed her into the adjoining room.
Roark’s quarters had been sparse and orderly while this room was… Decadent was the only word that came close and even it didn’t seem quite right. Draped in burgundy and green, a bed dominated one wall. Ornately carved chests and gilt-framed paintings brought to mind an era long past. A small sitting area was arranged near another doorway. Still, her gaze returned to the massive bed.
“When and if you share my bed, you will not only be willing, you will be eager for my touch.”
Snapped back to reality by Mal Ton’s sharp words, she looked up into his stern face. Despite the command in his tone and the firmness of his hold, his gaze caressed hers, promising more pleasure than pain. He was such a contradiction.
His hold eased as he drew her across the room toward a door she hadn’t noticed before. As if she moved through a dream, she placed one foot in front of the other, struggling for a frame of reference, something to connect this experience with reality. She’d imagined all the ways they would share pleasure, yet now that the moment was upon them, uncertainty all but smothered her desire.
“Roark doesn’t think you’re ready for pain.” Mal Ton’s voice whispered across her nerve endings as surely as if he had touched her. “I think pain will free you to enjoy pleasure.”
As if his words were not disturbing enough, the door slid open, revealing a room right out of the dark ages. “Oh, my god,” she whispered behind her hand, fear and anticipation blending in an intoxicating rush.
Manacles hung suspended from one wall while a decorative metal grid had been mounted to another. Padded foot holds and hand pegs protruded from the grid at a variety of heights and angles. A person could be secured in almost any position. The purpose of the whipping post and the low, padded bench was easy to deduce, but she couldn’t imagine how several of the apparatus would be used.
The door slid closed behind Roark before Mal Ton spoke again. “Have you ever experimented with restraint or sensory deprivation?”
“No.” She’d seen vid snippets of people indulging in such play. The BDSM community had pleasure centers in every major city on Earth.
“How many different lovers have you fucked? Have they all been men?”
“Do you keep track?” she snapped. “It’s none of your damn business.”
“My life has been significantly longer than yours,” he said with the hint of a smile, “but the answer might surprise you. If you don’t include the people I’ve trained, I have only had eight lovers.”
“Trained?” She made a sweeping gesture with her hand. “This is your training room?”
“Yes.” It was an emotionless statement. “But I don’t fuck my clients. I teach them how to overcome their inhibitions so they can find pleasure with a lover of their choice. Get undressed.”
“Screw you!” She turned toward the door but Mal Ton caught her arm. “I’m not one of your clients.” She tugged against his hold.
“No, you’re my pleasure servant, contractually obligated to give me whatever I want.”
“That again.” At some silent signal from Mal Ton, Roark moved up behind her. “What are you doing?”
“Helping him undress you.” Mal Ton raised her arms while Roark dragged her shirt off over her head. She twisted and kicked to no avail.
“You’re both crazy! How in god’s name is this helping the mutants? Isn’t that why I’m here?”
Mal Ton paused, his hands still clasping her wrists. “Shall we go to Roark’s lab and begin work on a cure?”
She licked her lips. Could she stall them long enough to…?
“Silly kitten.” He untied her pants and pushed them past her hips. “Now I have to punish you for deception as well as disobedience.”
“I’ve done nothing to deceive you,” she cried.
“Your expressions are incredibly easy to read. You were wondering how long you could put me off if you pretended to cooperate.”
She did have a dreadful poker face, but she suspected it was something more. Mal Ton always seemed to know what she was feeling. “Are you clairvoyant or empathic?”
“Both to some extent.” She hadn’t expected him to admit it so readily.
They urged her toward one of the odd-looking pieces of furniture. This one consisted of four padded rails attached to a tubular support system that kept it from toppling over. Nudging the back of her knees, Roark sent her forward onto the lower rails. One connected with the bend of her ankle, the other at mid-thigh. He spread her legs wide and held them steady as flexible bands extended from the outer edge of the rails and wrapped around her ankles and thighs.
Mal Ton rotated the frame forward and the other two rails pressed against her torso, one beneath her breasts, the other at her shoulders. Roark adjusted one of her arms to rest along the upper rail while Mal Ton stretched out the other. Three flexible bands secured each of her arms to the rail, one below her shoulder, one above her elbow, and the last at her wrist. It was as if they had bent her over an invisible table, then raised her six inches off the floor. Her torso was at a right angle to her legs, which were bent at the knees.
Both men stepped back and looked at her, spread out and helpless. She felt shame and excitement in equal measure. They could see everything and do anything, and she was powerless to stop them. Mal Ton was right. Life as she knew it ended when he entered her lab.
“Roark, fetch a paddle.” Mal Ton’s deep voice drew her back to the present. “With two infractions, this requires more than my hand.”
“But she isn’t—”
With obvious reluctance, Roark walked to a nearby cabinet inset in the wall and retrieved a paddle. He handed the implement to Mal Ton then took a step back.
Dread washed over her in icy waves. His hand had hurt worse than she’d expected. Could she bear to be spanked with a paddle? “Please. I’m sorry I can’t help you. I wish I could.”
“The choice is, and will always be yours,” he reminded. “You brought this on yourself.” With no other warning, he moved to her side and brought the flat of the paddle down across her ass.
Sharp, stinging pain burst in her bottom, radiating to her hips. She cried out and twisted, tugging against her bonds. “Stop it!”
The second swat was even harder. It centered over one cheek and drove the breath from her lungs. She froze, shocked and horrified that he would abuse her this way. He paddled the other side and she sucked in a lungful of air, then released it in a shrill scream.
Mal Ton chuckled. “What’s the matter, kitten? Hasn’t anyone ever disciplined you before?”
“This isn’t discipline. It’s abuse. You have no reason to beat me.” Tears gathered in her eyes, blurring her vision.
“I am not beating you. That’s a ridiculous exaggeration. And you were warned about the consequences of misbehavior. Now settle down and accept your punishment or this is going to be one long, miserable night.”
Four more spanks fell in rapid succession, alternating sides. She shook in her restraints, horrified at her body’s unwanted reaction. The need that had smoldered all day, flared to life with a vengeance. Her pussy ached, wet and ready to be filled, to be fucked.
“Stop! Please, stop,” she sobbed, more afraid she’d come if he didn’t cease than of more pain. “I’m sorry I disobeyed, and I’m sorry I thought about deceiving you.”
His swats slowed, then finally stopped, leaving her ass hot and throbbing. “That’s sufficient for now, but our activities have just begun.” He handed the paddle to Roark, who returned it to the cabinet. Then Mal Ton walked to the head of the apparatus. “This puts your luscious mouth at the perfect level for fucking.” Mal Ton grabbed the back of her hair and pulled her face up until she looked into his eyes. “It also angles your hips just right for the introduction of anal play. I don’t really need to ask if you’ve ever had a cock up your ass, do I?”
“Is that what you intend?” Dread made the question sound strangled. “Do I have any other choice?”
“You had other choices.” He glanced at Roark then returned his full attention to her. “You chose defiance, which means your virgin ass is mine.”
His harsh expression and imperious tone sent a fresh wave of fear crashing over her. The two men silently glared at each other while Andrea waited for Mal Ton’s next move. She wasn’t sure if they were communicating telepathically or using silent signals, but they started touching her at exactly the same time. Roark trailed his fingers up her spine as he stepped in front of her. Mal Ton moved behind her and squeezed her stinging ass. While Roark’s fingers teased with feather-light touches, Mal Ton’s touch was firm and possessive.
“I don’t want that,” she cried, growing more agitated as Mal Ton focused on his target. “Anything but that.”
Roark reached beneath her and cupped her breasts as Mal Ton rotated the contraption farther forward. She gasped and stiffened, but the straps held her snugly in place. The top of her head nestled against Roark’s crotch. Mal Ton was right; all she had to do was raise her face and he could slip right into her mouth.
Both men were still fully dressed. She couldn’t really see Mal Ton but no discarded garments had gone flying. Warm fingers brushed her inner thighs.
“You’re already wet.” Mal Ton traced her slit, the easy slide of his fingertips proving his point. “Did the paddling get you this hot or was it the thought of taking me up the ass?”
How was she supposed to answer that? No, please, shove your cock up my ass. If your penis is as big as the rest of you, I’m sure it will only hurt—like hellfire!
She wasn’t sure if he heard her sarcastic thought or he was just tired of waiting for her answer. His palm came down across her tender ass cheek and she yelped, straining against the bands. “What the fuck was that for?” The obscene word sprang readily to her lips.
He didn’t answer her indignant question. Pushing two of his long fingers into her slick passage, he spanked her other cheek. The sting from the first slap had mellowed to an almost pleasant heat when he delivered the second blow. She cried out louder and her inner muscles tightened around his fingers.
“That’s right.” He pulled back and thrust in hard as he returned to the first side.
“Oh!” It was part anger and part shock. Heat spread out and penetrated deep, triggering odd little flutters. He repeated the tantalizing sequence—slap, thrust, and pause. Roark rolled her nipples and sensation spiraled from her chest to her pussy just as Mal Ton’s palm connected again.
“Don’t fight it. You’re almost there.” He twisted his wrist, his long fingers moving in a teasing spiral as he pulled nearly out. Her core rippled and tingled. How was this possible? He rubbed her burning skin, accenting the heat, as he pumped his fingers in and out of her throbbing pussy.
She closed her eyes and concentrated on the feelings gathering low in her belly. If he would just touch her clit. One little squeeze and she’d go off like a rocket. Instead, he gathered her cream and painted her tightly puckered anus. His finger circled, venturing deeper with each pass.
“You said you wouldn’t—”
He pushed inside as his other hand lightly spanked her mound. Pleasure burst with breath-stealing intensity. She gasped and trembled as he pulled his finger out, prolonging the unexpected spasm. As the pulsing sensations began to fade, he pushed back in, saturating her senses with a fresh wave of release. Another firm tap against her mound made both her passages tighten with greedy abandon. The teasing slide of his finger maintained the staggering release. On and on he drove her—spank, thrust, spank, thrust, passing the pleasure back and forth between her mound and her ass.
She screamed as her inner muscles clenched so hard she saw stars.
Mal Ton nipped her bottom and finally withdrew his finger. “Tell Roark you like being spanked or I’ll get out my strap.”
She was ready to admit to the new discovery when an odd beeping interrupted her. Roark stepped back and she heard Mal Ton speaking rapidly in a language she didn’t understand.
He spoke louder and Roark replied in the same language. What was going on and why didn’t they want her to know about it?
She heard the door slide open and close. Roark rotated her so she knelt on the bottom rail then released the bands. “What happened? Why did he have to leave?”
“Are you disappointed?”
His hostility surprised and annoyed her. Rather than adding fuel to the fire, she snatched up her pants and covered her nudity. He tossed her the shirt then moved to one of the cabinets built into the walls.
“What are you doing?” She found her shoes as he loaded a small case with items she couldn’t see because of the angle of his body.
“He’s not sure how long he’ll be gone so he wants me to prepare you.”
“Prepare me for what?”
Roark gritted his teeth in exasperation. Watching Mal Ton’s fingers slide in and out of Andrea’s squirming body, knowing the commander triggered each shocked gasp and cry of pleasure, had been utter torment. Roark desired Andrea, ached to participate in her sexual awakening. But the situation resonated with unpleasant memories.
Baylie, Roark’s ex-fiancée, had succumbed to the dark passion of a man very much like Mal Ton. She had urged Roark to include his Second in their lovemaking with greater and greater frequency until Roark realized he had been displaced. Standing by passively while Mal Ton dominated Andrea brought the past surging back to the surface.
“Can’t you guess what the commander expects?” He snapped the case shut and turned around, kicking the cabinet closed with the heel of his boot. “The night is far from over. Mal Ton will likely return.”
After spending half the afternoon watching Andrea on the surveillance feed, Roark had convinced himself she would agree to work on a cure. He didn’t need empathic receptors to know what she was thinking. Her expressive eyes told him she had been genuinely moved by the case studies and intrigued with the possibilities. And still she’d refused to help with the genetic crisis.
But she wants me to punish her. Haven’t you figured that out? Mal Ton’s mocking words echoed through Roark’s mind. Did she want Mal Ton or did she just long to be touched, even spanked? Roark gripped her upper arm and led her toward the door.
“Why are you angry with me?” She twisted out of his grasp, her gaze narrowed with annoyance.
“I’m not angry,” he grumbled.
“The hell you aren’t. You of all people should understand I have no control over how my body responds to… What was I supposed to do?”
Help me with the crisis! He kept the comment to himself. Part of him understood her resistance. They were manipulating her. “Let’s go back to my quarters. This place makes me uncomfortable.” He didn’t share Mal Ton’s need to dominate his sexual partners. Roark enjoyed sharing pleasure with his lovers, not overwhelming their inhibitions. Still, Andrea seemed to need a controlling hand.
He rushed her through Mal Ton’s bedroom, unwilling to watch the hunger smoldering in her eyes. Mal Ton was a typical Second. The kind of man women lusted after, played with for a while then realized they needed a deeper connection, a more nurturing relationship. At least that was how it was supposed to work.
Roark had the stable, supportive personality women desired in a mate. So why did Andrea seem indifferent to him? Because you’re too damn nice. Maybe Mal Ton was right. She was surrounded by dramatic circumstances. If he ever hoped to cut through the din, he had to be more assertive, perhaps not aggressive like Mal Ton, but more decisive in his seduction.
“If you’re not angry with me, what’s bothering you?”
“Memories.” He knew she’d presume he meant the indignities he was supposed to have suffered. She didn’t need to know her attraction to Mal Ton kept taking him back to his fiancée’s betrayal.
“I’m sorry. I should have realized.”
They didn’t speak again until they reached his office. He scanned open the door to his bedroom then heaved an audible sigh. A sneak attack really wasn’t his style. “Have you ever heard of a butt plug?”
She looked at the case tucked under his arm with obvious suspicion. “Why do you ask?”
“He wants me to put one in you. I’m supposed to demand your cooperation or put you in restraints. I’d much rather explain what is expected of us and work through this together.”
“Can’t we just say we did and not go there?” Her hopeful smile made him chuckle.
“It stays in until he gets back.”
She gasped and took a step backward. “What if he doesn’t come back tonight?”
“He’s going to com me when he knows more about the situation. Until he tells me otherwise, you’re supposed to get used to the fullness.”
“This is a form of training, isn’t it?” She fidgeted, looking everywhere but into his eyes. “He intends to… do that to me. Doesn’t he?”
He found her aversion to graphic words endearing. Her fear, however, needed to be elevated. “Why are you so uncomfortable with the thought of that?”
“Have you ever had a cock up your ass?” If her crimson blush was any indication, she’d blurted out the question without thought. “That’s none of my business. Forget I asked.”
“The answer is… sort of.”
Her eyebrows scrunched and she finally met his gaze. They still hadn’t entered his bedroom. He stood in the doorway and she stayed a step back, just out of reach.
“All right. You answered, so explain what ‘sort of’ means.”
“I’ve never had a man fuck me, but one of my female lovers enjoyed using toys, especially when my cock was in her mouth.”
He hadn’t thought it was possible for a blush to deepen, but her cheeks suddenly looked as if she’d been slapped. Rather like her smooth ass cheeks had appeared after Mal Ton spanked her. Roark shook away the arousing thought and reached for her hand.
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