writing as Tessa Tremaine
Copyright 2011 by Tessa Tremaine
Enchanted Lyre Books
This story is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents are invented by the author or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental. All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author.
Please Note: the following story excerpt, like the other first five Demon Kin stories, is a k!nky tale of d0m!nance and surr&nder. If you are under eighteen or easily offended, stop here.
Lily tightened her lips as the head slave called her by her Malefican name. I’m Lily.
She wasn’t especially fond of her real name, but she absolutely despised being called Ashtaroth. Nevertheless, she stood and followed the head slave obediently, schooling her expression to careful neutrality. Anything else invited a beating.
The head slave was Malefican, like their masters, and like them possessed horns and a long forked tail, which swished gently behind him. A fluff of soft brown fur decorated the fork.
God curse all Demon Kin.
Their official name was Bellerenics, after their planet, Belleren. But Lily preferred the Novus Vitan terms Demon Kin or Malefican. It suited their malevolent ways. Besides, they looked just like demons out of the old stories.
Bay-el led her along a dark and narrow corridor paneled in heavy wood. Her slippered feet made almost no sound on the chilly wooden floors. Where was he taking her? The governor had made use of her just last night. Surely he wouldn’t desire her again so soon.
She hoped not.
Yet she’d been thoroughly washed an hour ago and dressed in the most revealing garment she’d ever worn, a long tunic that covered her from collarbones to ankle, yet was so sheer it left nothing to the imagination.
Lily’s stomach churned uneasily. She hated her name and she hated her life. If they didn’t keep the slaves chained at all times and locked in their quarters at night, she would have escaped weeks ago. Perhaps she ought to try anyway. It might get her shot.
When the head slave turned into the broad hallway that led to the governor’s private apartments, she knew her fate for the night was sealed. Her hands turned icy, her palms slick with sweat. The bruises he’d left on her last night were still brutally evident. The governor enjoyed inflicting pain.
The head slave opened the double doors to the governor’s apartment and ushered her inside. In the sitting room, a rape frame had been set up. Lily’s stomach contracted dangerously. The only thing that saved her from vomiting all over the governor’s hand-woven carpet was the fact she hadn’t eaten anything all day.
Lily started at the sound of the governor’s voice. She hadn’t noticed him sitting in the shadows on the other side of the room. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw another Malefican man sitting next to him. She wanted to look, but that would be unwise. Her curiosity might be misinterpreted. Punished.
“I chose this one,” the governor continued, “just for you, Fury. What do you think of her?”
Although Governor Zu spoke in Malefican, Lily could understand him. They had implanted the knowledge of their language in her mind using their infernal psychic powers.
The head slave gestured to Lily. Keeping her eyes on the floor, she turned in a slow circle, displaying her body to them from every angle. Although she couldn’t see them, she knew they were looking at her. Intently.
“She is lovely,” said a grave voice. The sound of it was deep and smooth, and made her heart beat even faster. Fury. What sort of name was that? Did it describe his personality?
“I was told you favor small women with dark hair.”
That described Lily.
“Yes,” Fury said.
“Go ahead, Bay-el. Put her in the frame.”
The head slave pulled the tunic over her head and draped it on a nearby occasional table, leaving her utterly naked. She resisted the urge to cover herself with her hands. That would earn her a spanking or another missed meal.
Bay-el nodded to her. She knew from experience that pleading looks would get no sympathy or mercy from him. Lily bent over the frame, pressing her hips and lower abdomen to the padded bench, covered in black leather, that would support some of her weight. Her breasts dangled in the air.
The head slave stretched her arms out to the sides, clamping them to the shiny steel cross-post. Then he pushed her legs wide apart and shackled her ankles to the x-shaped bottom of the frame with hard steel cuffs. The position displayed her sex to anyone standing behind her.
Lily bit her lips at the icy chill of the leather and metal. The governor always used this piece of equipment with her, but not with the other girls. It must have something to do with the fact that her brother had led the local resistance. Martin was dead, so the governor punished her in his place.
Heavy footsteps warned her of Zu’s approach. She tensed, pinching her eyes shut. A hard hand clasped her breast and twisted the nipple. She bit her lip again to stifle her whimper.
“You may go, Bay-el,” Zu said.
Lily didn’t hear the other slave leave. Her whole mind fixed on what she could see of the governor as he walked around her, his white tail flicking, his tunic flowing over a belly she knew was rail-thin. Governor Zu was the skinniest Malefican she’d seen.
He came around behind her and smacked her exposed ass. She bit her lips harder at the sting. His hand cracked down on her other cheek.
“You disapprove?” he said.
“She is your slave, to do with as you please.”
Fury spoke in a carefully neutral tone that reminded Lily of her own mask-like expression. Surely he wasn’t afraid of the governor. He was Malefican, just like Zu. Then again, Zu had been known to do terrible things to Maleficans who disagreed with him.
“Quite right.” The governor rubbed his hand over her stinging ass, sliding it downward toward her fully-displayed pussy. He shoved a finger inside her.
Lily jerked, gasping. Thank God her family were all gone so there was no-one to witness her degradation.
“You like it rough, Governor?” Fury’s voice was still perfectly even.
“With this one, yes.” He wiggled his finger inside of her. “Her brother made my life a living hell. Besides, I don’t want her becoming enchained.”
That made no sense. He had her in chains right now. They stayed on her body twenty-five hours a day.
* * *
With rising anger Fury watched Governor Zu finger-fuck the pretty young slave. She was trembling and whimpering, and not with arousal. Her pale skin showed dark purple bruises at her hips and waist. Her long waves of dark hair fell to the side, revealing more marks near her shoulders. The bruises looked a lot like handprints.
Zu’s finger made a rubbing sound as it slid in and out of her pussy. She wasn’t ready for him, didn’t want him. Fury’s cock pushed eagerly against the fabric of his trousers anyway. He desired the little human, desired her badly, but he did not want to watch Zu hurt her. Even if she was one of the Novus Vitan scum who’d devastated his home world.
Zu had a reputation for brutality and sexual misconduct, which was why he was stuck in this remote provincial appointment in spite of his connections with the Bellerenic crown. Fury was his subordinate, newly arrived to accept the position, and had no authority or leverage over Zu. In the governor’s domain, surrounded by his loyal core of staffers, even Fury’s status as a baronial heir couldn’t protect him from Zu’s wrath. So for now, he must tread carefully.
“Tonight, I have a yen to see her fucked by another man,” Zu said in a bombastic tone that grated on Fury’s nerves. The girl gasped. “I give her to you.”
Fury bowed, while gritting his teeth. “I am honored, sir.”
Zu removed his finger from the woman’s pussy and stepped away from her with a florid gesture. “You may mount her.”
“Forgive me, Governor, but I prefer a longer prelude.”
Zu raised his bushy eyebrows. “You do, eh? Trying to enchain her yourself?”
“I don’t think that’s possible in one encounter. I simply enjoy savoring my women.”
“Very well, then. Perhaps you would like to taste her first.”
Fury allowed himself a faint smile. “When I’m ready.”
“I must stay and watch, however. You will not deny me that.”
He came closer to the woman, until he could smell her scent. “Of course, sir. She is your slave.”
He’d been watched before. Not his favorite scenario, but he could tolerate it if he had to.
The slave girl trembled, her hands clenching into fists as he moved toward her. His cock pulsed impatiently in the prison of his trousers. Gods, how he wanted to get inside her sweet pussy. But she was afraid of him.
Fury lowered his hand to the woman’s back. When his skin met hers, she flinched. He let his hand remain there for the moment, his thumb tracing small circles over her spine. Don’t fear me, little one.
“What is her name?”
He frowned. “That’s a Bellerenic name.”
The governor shrugged. “Better than the barbarian Novus Vitan name she came with.”
“I see.” Taking her name was probably part of Zu’s project of humiliating his human slaves.
Fury rubbed his hand up and down her satiny back. This was not how he liked to take a woman the first time. Zu, however, was almost vibrating with eagerness to see him mount the little slave, and if Fury delayed, matters could degenerate. When Zu lost his temper, people died.
He continued caressing her back, then her sides, her thighs, her ass, while her trembling began to subside. Fury bent over her and pressed his lips to the skin at the small of her back, while his hand moved around to cup her luscious breast. Her breath caught.
Kneeling behind her, he gazed at her pussy while he massaged the globes of her ass. It was a fine ass, too, rounded and firm, framing her beautiful sex. His cock gave a twitch of yearning.
Fury gently stroked her labia with his forefinger. The slave shuddered. The lips of her sex were just slightly damp, not desert-dry as he’d expected. Was she responding to him or Zu? It couldn’t be Zu. Every signal she gave told him she hated and feared the governor.
Her scent surrounded him now, filling up his nose and intoxicating him. His cock throbbed so hard it hurt.
“Well, get on with it,” Zu barked.
He sent the man a sharp glance. “I am.”
Zu’s lips tightened. He didn’t like an independent attitude in his subordinates. Too bad. Fury would never mount a woman who wasn’t ready to receive him.
His teasing finger had elicited a trickle of moisture from her. Fury bent down, spreading her sex with his thumbs. Her keepers had trimmed her nearly-black pubic hair very short, exposing all the details of her for his pleasure.
He licked the silky folds of one side of her pussy. She made a small sound in her throat. Fury did it again, then switched to the other side. The slave gasped, her thighs twitching. With a low moan, he stroked up the center of her. She gave a shuddering cry.
Fury teased her clit with the tip of his tongue before making another pass up her center. Then he entered her, shoving his tongue into her sheath, savoring the taste of her. She jerked against her bonds, her pussy dripping wet.
As much as he wanted to take his time with her, Zu wouldn’t allow it. Pushing the man was a bad idea. He’d had his last assistant dragged behind a team of horses for insubordination when the man had protested his beating of a slave. The slave had died, and so had the assistant.
Fury stood up and loosened his trousers. His cock jerked in its hurry to get inside her. He took it in his hand, rubbing the head along her slit. She moaned again, and Fury worked it into her opening.
Oh, gods, yes.
Hot, tight, wet.
He closed his eyes, his head falling back in delight. There hadn’t been any women on the journey from the planet Belleren to Novus Vita, nor any for quite some time before that.
With a shove, he pushed his cock a little deeper in. Damnation. She felt better than any woman he could remember. The slave groaned.
Fury began to pump, the friction of her sheath on him so good he forgot they were being watched. There was nothing but him and her, their bodies joined, their moans mingling with the slap of his hips against hers.
He paused to draw back from an imminent orgasm, running his palm along the side of her body. Stupid, but now he couldn’t resist drawing this out just a little more. He’d probably never get another chance to be with her.
She turned her head to the side, as if she wanted to see him, and then apparently thought better of it and yanked her head back to center.
Fury took up the rhythm again, plunging deep into her, drawing cry after cry from her throat until he too was making wild noises, growling and snarling like a rock lion. He reached around, insinuating his hand between her pelvis and the bench, searching for her clit while he continued to fuck her.
There it was. He slammed her with his cock, at the same time rubbing her clitoris. She tried to shove her hips back against him, tried to help him, to participate, but the structure of the bench hampered her movements. Fury gently pinched her clit.
A howl erupted from her throat. Her whole body shook as he banged into her, massaging that nub with his finger. Her sheath clamped down on his cock in rhythmic squeezes, and Fury lost control.
He groaned, shuddering in the ecstasy of spilling inside her. His orgasm seemed to go on forever, shooting all through him, making him oblivious to everything but the feel of her, the smell of her, the sound of her voice.
When it was over, he stood for a moment, still joined, and gazed down at her. The strangest urge to kiss her mouth overcame him. Fury settled for leaning over her, enclosing her in a cage of his arms and torso, and kissing her upper back from one side to the other. She made a tiny sound. Pleasure or pain?
Gods of Belleren, let it be pleasure.
“Quite a performance, my boy,” Zu said expansively. “Quite a performance. I didn’t think anyone could get this little mouse to come.”
He bit back his growl of annoyance. How many men had Zu given her to? And her “failure” to come was hardly surprising given Zu’s methods.
“My turn, now.”
Fury took a deep breath for patience. Zu was his superior and thus entitled to give orders, but he didn’t want to disengage from the slave girl. She was so damned delightful.
Maybe the governor was right, and they would become enchained. Wouldn’t that create a mess?
“Thank you, little one,” he whispered to her in Novus Vitan. Her breath gave a tiny hitch.
“What was that?” Zu scowled at him. “What did you say to her?”
“I just told her she was a good fuck. Does that meet with your approval, sir?”
Zu looked like he was trying to decide whether or not Fury was challenging his authority. He grumbled under his breath, motioning for Fury to finish.
With a final caress of her back, he pulled out of her body. His cum began to drip from her pussy, a glistening trickle against the smooth pink flesh. The sight of it nearly made him hard all over again. He told his cock to stand down and turned to find the bathroom.
Zu had his own cock out now, and was beating it rapidly with his hand as he stared at the slave girl’s dripping pussy. Fury turned away. It wasn’t something he wanted to watch.
He clenched his fists to keep himself from grabbing Zu and yanking him away from the girl. That was out of character. When had he ever gotten territorial over a woman, let alone a nameless slave? Shaking his head at himself, he escaped into the bathroom to clean up.
A few moments later, he emerged in time to see Zu come all over the girl’s lower back. He should have lingered in the bathroom awhile longer. Zu grinned at him triumphantly, showing his fangs, and Fury forced his lips to curl up at the corners. Coming to Novus Vita had been a mistake.
Lily curled up as tightly as she could on her narrow cot, the rough blanket pulled over her head. Tears kept coming out of her stupid eyes, no matter how hard she tried to stop crying. The slave quarters were dark and most of the others had been asleep for several hours, so at least no-one could hear her.
The stranger, Fury, had done something to her that she couldn’t understand or explain. She hadn’t even known it was possible to feel sensations like that, pleasure and pain mixed up so thoroughly she couldn’t tell them apart. It was obscene. It had to be evil.
He’d been so kind and gentle – at least compared to Governor Zu and those others. None of them had caressed her or kissed her or . . . that other thing he did with his mouth. They’d just shoved their way into her and pumped until they spilled their seed.
That always seemed to be the best part for them. They usually made a lot of noise. Could that be what had happened to her? Except she had no seed to spill, so why would she feel the same sensations as a man?
Mama and Papa would beat you silly if they knew what you were thinking about.
Her father and mother had met any mention of sexual parts or pleasure with a whipping, usually using a birch cane because those hurt the most. Her brother Martin had carried scars from it. He just couldn’t keep his hand off his willie.
She began to smile at the memory of her brother, except that memory brought up another and another, ending with his imprisonment and death by torture, ordered by Governor Zu. Now she was here, apparently serving the rest of Martin’s sentence.
Would Zu have raped Martin as well? Maybe he had. There were male slaves here, too, besides Bay-el, and some of them seemed to do little work. She’d heard whispers, too, of the male slaves being forced to perform that way.
She could only hope Martin had died before anyone had thought of raping him.
Thank you, little one, Fury’s voice whispered in her mind.
Tears welled up again. Why had he said that? Was it part of some twisted Malefican plan to drive her insane? Or maybe they thought they could use him to break her spirit.
Get the foolish slave to trust and then betray her and laugh at her disillusionment. Just one more punishment, designed to illustrate even more clearly how helpless she was. How much power they had over her.
It wasn’t going to work. She wouldn’t let them break her, no matter what they did to her.
Lily started at the sound of her Malefican name. She peeked out from under her blanket. “Who is it?”
“It’s me. Geshtinanna.”
Ti never seemed to mind her Malefican name. A human like Lily, she slept in the next bed over. She rolled out of her cot and crouched next to Lily. “I heard you crying. Are you alright?”
“Yeah. I’ll be fine.”
“You don’t sound fine. Did Zu hit you again?”
“No. Nothing like that.” She tried to wipe her nose surreptitiously on the coarse sleeve of her everyday tunic.
“But he, you know, used you, didn’t he?”
“He . . . um . . . gave me to a new man, someone named Fury.”
“You saw Fury Sukay?”
Could Ti see her blushing? “Not exactly. Zu had me on the frame. I couldn’t see Fury’s face because I was afraid to turn my head.”
“Oh.” Disappointment was evident in Ti’s voice.
“Do you know who he is?”
“You haven’t heard? He’s the new assistant for Zu.”
The new assistant. “Well, I hope Zu doesn’t drag him behind a horse like he did the other one.”
“Hey, shut up!” someone snarled under her breath from a couple of beds over. “We’re trying to sleep.”
Ti dragged her blanket off her cot and huddled even closer to Lily. She probably would have climbed on the cot with her, but there really wasn’t enough room for both of them, especially since Ti was quite tall.
“So, did Assistant Governor Sukay, um – “ Ti whispered.
“What was it like?”
“Ti!” Her face was burning hot now.
“I’m just curious.”
“I can’t talk about this.”
“Why not?” Ti sounded innocently interested, as if there was nothing wrong with talking about carnal relations.
“It’s bad. Didn’t your parents teach you that?”
“Hell, no.” Ti giggled. “You should have seen them together. They were always all over each other.”
“But I thought you were Novus Vitan.”
“I am. My daddy always said just because they yell something at you in Teaching Hall doesn’t make it true.”
Lily stared at her friend’s shadow-obscured face. Her own father had told her that? She tried to picture such words coming from her papa’s mouth and utterly failed. He probably would have died before saying such a thing.
“So give.” Ti nudged her. “What was it like?”
She bit her lip. “He was . . . completely different. He seemed to want me to enjoy it.”
“He kissed me.”
“I thought you said you didn’t see his face.”
“I didn’t. He kissed me on my back.” And other places.
“I hope Zu gives me to him.” Ti rested her head against the frame of Lily’s cot. “Not that the governor’s been as mean to me as he is to you.”
Thank you, little one.
Lily took hold of Ti’s wrist. “If I tell you something, can you keep it a secret?” she said, so quietly she could hardly hear herself.
Should she tell? Ti was not just a kind-hearted person, she was less prone to gossip than most of the other slaves. However, even Ti had a limit and gossip was a kind of commodity in the slave quarters. “I mean it, Ti. You can’t tell anyone. I’m not sure what would happen to me or Assistant Sukay if this got out.”
“I won’t tell.”
Lily leaned closer to Ti’s ear. “He speaks Novus Vitan. He said ‘thank you, little one’ after it was over.”
“Huh. Maybe he thought it would be a career asset to know the native language.”
Well, okay, that made sense. But . . . “Still, don’t tell anyone. Promise? Zu would be so angry if he knew Sukay had thanked me.”
“I promise on my life I won’t tell.”
“Okay. Thanks, Ti.”
“Why do you suppose he said that?”
“I don’t know.” Maybe he likes me. Or maybe he said that to all the slave girls he fucked without bothering to learn their names.
* * *
Fury had decided, against every urge of common sense and self-preservation, to find out where the slave girl was kept and see her again. He had to know if what he’d experienced with her was simply the result of the weird circumstances that night, or if there was something deeper and stronger between them.
He looked out the window in his office, tapping his fingers on the desk. It was summer in this section of Novus Vita, and the air was warm, smelling of cut grass imported from Earth. The planet had long ago been terraformed to resemble humanity’s original homeland. Everything seemed green here in the temperate zones, unlike arid Belleren.
It was lovely. Yet he couldn’t enjoy it. For the past two months, he’d only been able to think of her. She intruded on his every spare moment, her huge, blue eyes with their dark lashes staring at him as they never had in real life. She’d been afraid to look at him.
Why do you have to know about the girl? Why can’t you just let it drop? You have important work to do here.
Right. Important work following Zu’s every order no matter how unreasonable and ill-advised. Important work further alienating the native people and making them hate Bellerenics – or Maleficans – even more than they already did. In fact, it seemed most of the time as if Zu didn’t really need an assistant. He needed a lackey.
That’s what an assistant is, idiot.
Fury was beginning to think he wasn’t cut out to be the minion of a man like Zu, who not only made stupid decisions but who possessed an obsessive need for control that made him check up on Fury’s work ten or fifteen times a day. There was no way he could make his own, better, choices with Zu constantly looking over his shoulder.
The governor was ex-military, a retired colonel in the army. He knew a great deal about battles and strategy, but nothing about peace. Nothing about farming, although Novus Vita was a primarily agricultural world. Zu was here as a punishment for Zu. Unfortunately his appointment punished everyone around him far more than it did Zu himself.
It was astonishing none of his other subordinates had murdered him yet.
I’m going to see the girl. I can’t wait any longer.
Evidently he had a secret lifelong desire to be dragged behind a horse in front of the entire governor’s staff.
He couldn’t stop thinking about her. He’d even done a little research in his spare time, looking for her ownership documentation, and had come across an interesting fact. None of the human slaves in the governor’s compound had ownership docs. Zu must be holding them illegally.
He rubbed his forehead. Every day in this post made it clearer that at some point he’d have to choose between his career and what was right. He couldn’t stand by and watching Zu bend and break the law and abuse his subordinates.
I just need to find her. Find out if what I’m feeling is really enchainment or something else.
Fury had a copy of the master key to all the slave chains. No-one knew he possessed it. When he found Ashtaroth, he could free her.
But Zu hadn’t offered to share her with him a second time, and he could hardly ask. That would give the governor something to hold over Fury’s head. Not a situation he would ever enter voluntarily.
Someone rapped at his door.
Come,” he called.
The door opened and the office clerk poked his head in. “There’s a coded message for you from Belleren, sir.”
“Thank you, Rok.”
Rok bobbed his head.
“Why did you come and tell me yourself when you could have just pinged me?”
The clerk grinned. “Needed a bit of exercise, sir.”
“Ah.” Fury knew the feeling.
He turned to his vid link and tapped in his code. The message was in writing, on an official form, telling him that his tyrant of a father was gravely ill and not expected to survive.
Fury slumped in his chair, feeling like a planetary shuttle had landed on his chest. His mother and sisters were gone, wiped out in the plague the Novus Vitans had visited on his world. His father was the only relative he had left.
They’d never gotten along. To Baron Deus Sukay, his only son had been a disappointment, someone who hobnobbed with those who were beneath him and had no ambitions for greater social prominence. Their last words to each other had been spoken in anger over Fury’s decision to accept this post, a job Deus thought unworthy of his son.
Fury did not like his father. But he loved him.
Gods of Belleren. I have to go home.
Would Zu allow him to leave? And what about the girl?
He was a fool for even thinking of her. It wasn’t as if they had any kind of relationship. He didn’t even know her real name, and she had never seen his face. But the thought of leaving her here with Zu while he returned to Belleren was almost as painful as the idea of his father dying.
It couldn’t be enchainment. There was no way it could take place in just one encounter, especially not when they hadn’t even kissed or looked in each other’s eyes.
That was a problem to be solved another time. First he had to inform his superior of his father’s illness.
Zu looked appropriately somber when Fury visited him in his office and gave him the news. “I’m sorry to hear that. Your father is a good man.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“I suppose you’ll request leave to go and see him?”
“I think that would be best. I’m the heir.” And Fury would inherit a large, prosperous barony, which raised the question of whether he would be able to return to Novus Vita to continue his work for Zu.
“Very well. You can have four weeks.”
Forty days. Would it be enough? It would have to be. Zu’s offer was actually quite generous, especially since he wasn’t obliged to give Fury any time at all.
“Thank you, sir.”
Now all he had to do was think of a way to see the girl again.
It took him an hour of rambling in apparently aimless loops to find her, and then it was only by accident. He was walking along a high rock wall when he heard feminine giggles from the other side. Fury gazed at the wall in speculation. According to Rok, that was the kitchen garden. Could one of the voices belong to her?
The leafy top of an apple tree rose over the wall just ten feet away. It would be the perfect blind. The wall was old. Mortar had crumbled in places, giving a climber like Fury plenty of easy hand and foot holds.
He scrambled up and sat cross-legged on the edge of the rough top, his tail hanging behind for balance. Now the women’s voices came clearly to him. The apple tree, however, hid them as well as him from view.
“Perhaps Zu has forgotten about you,” one said in Novus Vitan.
“I should be so lucky,” another answered.
He tensed, leaning forward so far his horns knocked against a branch above him. The second voice seemed familiar. Yet how could he know for sure? The only sounds he’d neard from Ashtaroth were moans and cries. his cock ached at the memory of the noises she’d made for him.
Come closer, little one.
Using psychic powers to influence another without that person’s permission was forbidden. He didn’t care.
Light footsteps crunched on gravel. Here they came.
A tall blonde walked under the canopy. He frowned. No, that wasn’t right. It was the other one he wanted, and with the blonde beneath him he couldn’t climb into the tree for a better view without being seen himself.
“What are you doing, Ti?”
The blonde shrugged. “I don’t know. I just feel like sitting under the tree.”
The gravel crunched again, and a dark haired woman joined the blonde. Fury’s tail began to flick back and forth against the wall. It was her. He recognized her delicate hand when she lifted it to push back a lock of hair.
Fury brought his tail up and wrapped it around his hips. The two women sat down on the mulch beneath the tree.
“So you haven’t seen Assistant Sukay at all?” she said.
Fury leaned a little more.
“No.” Ashtaroth shook her head. “I was hoping . . . no. Zu would never let him near me, I’m sure.”
She’s been thinking of me. Hoping. He smiled.
“I don’t see why,” Ti said. “He gives all the other men here free access to us.”
“I’m different.” Ashtaroth’s voice was bitter.
Zu was systematically mistreating Ashtaroth. He had to take action now, even if it wrecked his career.
The blonde put her arms around Ashtaroth’s shoulders. “I’m sorry.”
His little slave sighed deeply and leaned her head against the other woman. “Ti, do you know what enchained means?”
“No,” the blonde said. “What?”
“I don’t know. It’s just something Zu said – that he’s mean to me because he doesn’t want me becoming enchained.”
“That’s weird. We all have chains.”
Fury grinned. His amusement faded as movement in his peripheral vision caught his attention. He turned his head to the right, squinting through the screen of apple leaves to see what it was. No doubt just a housecat or some Novus Vitan garden pest.
Something scraped against the wall in that direction. A dark shape rose from behind the wall, peering over the stones. The shape had a distinctly human silhouette – no horns. Not an ordinary garden pest at all.
Fury pulled his voice link out of his pocket and activated it.
The gate on the northern stretch of wall burst open and human men carrying pulse rifles poured through, holstered handguns at their hips. They all wore stretchy black coverings over their heads and faces, allowing only their eyes and mouths to show. Probably to avoid any of the governor’s staff from identifying them later, if they were lucky enough to get out of this raid alive.
“This is Fury Sukay. We have an invasion coming through the kitchen garden. Five men with pulse rifles and possibly flechette guns.”
The two women jumped to their feet with a double-screech as the humans pounded into the garden. The invaders turned and fired in their direction, then dashed toward the house.
Fury leaped off the top of the wall, landing softly in the mulch beside the women. Pulse scars made black tracks across the trunk of the apple tree. The women looked up at him, their faces frozen in stunned horror. The blonde was down and smoking at the shoulder from pulse strikes, but Ashtaroth seemed to be unhurt.
“They shot Ti.” Ashtaroth cradled her friend, her blue eyes puzzled. “They’re our own people and they shot her.”
The blonde moaned.
Fury crouched next to the slaves. Two smoking holes marred Ti’s rough slave dress.
“Do you know how treat for shock and bandage this wound?” he said to the brunette, who looked at him strangely. Maybe she remembered his voice.
“Yes.” She nodded with a jerk.
“Good. Take care of her. I have to go after those men.”
He ran in a half-crouch across garden beds full of lettuce, peas, carrots, and asparagus until he reached the kitchen door. Was the group he’d seen all there were? Maybe there were three or four of those strike groups penetrating the compound from different entry points.
In the kitchen, the staff lay in bloody pools on the floor, their eyes staring up at the ceiling rafters. Gods of Belleren. These people were all slaves, all humans. The invaders had killed every one of them. They must have used explosive flechettes, because the room was covered in splattered gore. The stench of blood, urine and feces clogged the air.
He opened an emergency locker that was hidden in the paneling of the pantry walls and pulled out a pulse rifle of his own, along with a handgun and an extra knife to supplement the one he always carried. Then he tapped his voice link again.
“Sukay here. Guards, report.”
“Sir? This is Rok, sir.”
“Rok? Where are the guards?”
“They left the guard station to pursue the terrorists, sir.”
“Damnation,” Fury muttered. “They left you there alone?”
“I can handle myself,” Rok said in an affronted tone.
“Are you armed?”
“Any reports on how many terrorists there are?”
He scowled. “Only five? Are you sure?”
“I’ve been watching the security cams since a couple of minutes before you reported in. They – they’ve been going through the rooms and singling out our humans, sir.”
“Gods of Belleren.” He tapped his forehead. “Any idea where they are now?”
“No. They’re not on any of the cameras.”
“How the hell could that have happened? Zu has cameras everywhere.”
“I don’t know, sir.”
“Damn. Okay. Alert me if you see any more of them enter the compound. And shoot to kill. Sukay out.”
He slunk along the corridor leading from the kitchens. If the terrorists were targeting humans, they’d likely head for the slave quarters, the laundry, and other places where servants gathered.
If Zu had any brains at all, he’d have been prepared for this possibility. Especially since he insisted on parading around the province making examples of anyone who didn’t treat him with the extreme deference he thought he deserved. Fury had tried and tried to tell him.
He came to the laundry door and stopped to listen. The door stood ajar, yet no sound came from within. Fury pressed his back against the wall and nudged the door open a little more. There was nothing, no odor here but the smell of starch and detergent. Must not be laundry day.
The slave quarters.
They were downstairs in the cellar. The psychic cry from the slaves was so loud he didn’t even have to tune in to hear it. He wasn’t going down that staircase in the dark with no protection but a pulse rifle. No cover. They could all be waiting for him to open the stairway door, when they’d turn him into roasted Demon Kin. But the only alternative was to use his psychic abilities to pacify them.
Getting into the heads of lunatics like that could wound him almost as badly as tangling with pulse rifles. Almost as badly.
It was time to bend the rules. Again.
Fury paused at the stairwell, extending his mind toward the gunmen below. He sank downward in his psyche, then floated up again and out of his body. With a single thought, he placed himself in the female slave quarters, where he saw four of the black-garbed humans.
The invaders had already needled two people, who were twitching on the floor, blood oozing from their mouths and noses. Reaching out to their minds, he made contact with all four terrorists at once.
The terrorists didn’t seem to notice him in their obsessive hunt for human slaves to kill. Fury slipped quietly down the stairs and through the open door to the slave quarters.
The gunmen had their weapons trained on the slave women, who cowered behind cots and storage trunks. “Come out here,” one of them shouted. “Bring the humans forward. We only want to kill the humans.”
One of the terrorists fired randomly at the head of a Bellerenic slave, and her skull exploded. “That will happen to all of you if you don’t give up the humans,” he yelled.
Fury shot him with his pulse rifle. He collapsed into a smoking bundle on the floor. The goddamned fucker had killed a precious Bellerenic female when they needed every one for continuation of the race, not to mention all the humans he’d wasted.
The other three turned on him, and he jumped back behind the door. Rifle blasts seared the metal, but it held. He leaned out fractionally and fired a blast at the remaining gunmen. Women screamed. Shit. If he kept this up, he’d be more likely to kill the slaves than the terrorists.
There was no time to be subtle. Or law-abiding. Fury turned his psychic attention to a couple of the assholes and sent a directive to shoot each other. From the astral, he watched as they turned simultaneously and fired, turning themselves into bloody jelly.
“What the fuck!” yelled the remaining attacker.
Fury jumped into the asshole’s mind, struggling to keep him from turning his flechette on himself. The gunman’s eyes were wild and round, his mouth open on a silent scream.
No, Fury told him. No escape. Drop it.
The attacker’s finger trembled on the trigger.
Drop it right now or I’ll pull every tooth from your mouth with my bare hands. I’ll dig out your eyes and make you eat them. I’ll –
“God! Alright, alright, I’m dropping it.” The flechette gun hit the floor.
The slaves began to scream in shrill waves, the nearest jumping on the remaining attacker, pummeling him with their bare fists.
The women yanked off the gunman’s mask and tore his hair out. They were going to break his neck, and then Fury would have no-one to question.
“Stop!” he roared, sending a psychic command at the same time.
The entire room full of people froze.
“Get off him. I need him for questioning.”
The women climbed off the gunman. His clothes were in shreds, his skin covered in welts and small bruises. Chunks of his hair were missing. Fury grabbed him by the upper arm and yanked him to his feet.
“Where’s the other one?”
“Don’t be clever. I know there were five of you.”
“Luke is dead.” The gunman’s head drooped. “Your guards shot him.”
“If you’re lying to me, you’re going to regret it.”
His prisoner shuddered. “No lie, I swear. He’s dead.”
Hours later, the prisoner no doubt wished he was dead as well. Zu was doing the questioning himself, and Zu was a master of torture. Meanwhile, Fury called in a local Army detachment for extra security. He assembled the remaining staff and guards and assigned new duties. Everyone pitched in to drag away bodies and scrub the gore from walls and floors.
Close to midnight, Fury escaped to his office for a break. Exhaustion weighed on every cell of his body. He leaned his head against the back of his chair and closed his eyes. Just a few minutes of rest to strengthen him for all the work yet to be done.
But he couldn’t escape the image inscribed on his mind’s eye – human bodies riddled with flechette needles, twitching on the floor, bleeding from every orifice. The gunman’s gloating satisfaction.
Gods of Belleren. He’d never been in a mind like that, suffused with so much hatred and self-congratulation it left no room for compassion of any kind. He needed to cleanse himself from soul to skin.
When it wasn’t dwelling on the gunman, his mind kept returning to the slave girl. Ashtaroth. In the crush of his duties, he hadn’t been able to check on her as he’d intended, but it was too late to find her now.
His voice link belled. “Sukay here.”
“I want you in my apartment.” It was Zu.
Fury suppressed a sigh. “Right away.”
The head slave, Bay-el, met him at the door, his face impassive as always. How had the invasion affected him? Slaves tended to be difficult to read, but not many were as inscrutable as Bay-el. He seemed like an animated statue.
“Assistant Governor Sukay,” he announced as Fury entered the apartment.
“Come in, Fury, come in.” Zu beckoned him forward. “I know you must be tired, but I wanted to get your take on the kitchen garden incident.”
“Kitchen garden, sir?”
Then, out of the corner of his left eye, he saw her. Zu had Ashtaroth in the rape frame again, only this time there were red whip marks all over her ass and thighs. Some of them were bleeding. Her head hung limply as if she could no longer hold it up. She made no sound, not even a whimper.
Fury tensed, his fists automatically clenching with the rage that had boiled in him all afternoon and evening. “What is going on here? Why are you whipping this girl?”
“I’m questioning her.” Zu narrowed his eyes. “Do you have a problem with that?”
“Since she’s done nothing wrong, yes. I do.”
“How would you know what she has or hasn’t done?”
“I was there.”
Zu stalked toward him, followed by a thin man Fury hadn’t seen before. “I know that. And I wonder why.”
He flushed. “I was looking for a shady spot to sit.”
“And you didn’t know the two slave women were there?”
Fury lifted his chin. “Are you interrogating me, sir?”
“No, no. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of this strange event. I find it interesting that Martin Bond’s sister was present when the men broke in.”
This was a dangerous line of thinking. “It was coincidence.”
“Do you say that because you have a logical reason to think so, or because you like this little slave and therefore you want to exonerate her?”
He flushed even more deeply, keeping his gaze carefully away from the girl’s naked body. Damn Zu for making this personal. “I may find her sexually attractive, sir, but that doesn’t mean I like her. She’s just a slave I fucked once. I believe she’s innocent because of her behavior this afternoon. She was as surprised by the assault as I.”
“Then why was she left unharmed when her companion was badly wounded?”
“Pure chance, sir. She was deeply distressed to see her friend hurt.”
“All slaves are good actors, Fury. They have to be.”
Zu smacked his hand down on the girl’s ass, right over a criss-cross of red welts. She jerked in the frame. The thin man, who carried a recording device, remained utterly impassive.
Fury blanked his expression. “Nobody’s that good.”
“Did you go to meet her?” Zu watched him carefully.
Fury gave him a half-shrug. “I admit I did have a thought of catching her alone and getting another fuck.”
“I knew it.” Zu chuckled. The thin man smirked.
Fury allowed himself a rueful grin. “You caught me.”
“I don’t blame you. She’s a fine piece of ass, even if she is a treacherous little bitch.”
“Sir, I don’t believe she let the terrorists in. Why would she want them to kill her fellow slaves?”
“Who knows why these fanatics do anything? They don’t think like normal people.”
Neither did Zu.
“It sounds like you’ve already made up your mind,” Fury said carelessly. And then Zu would try to kill her, and Fury would be forced to take an action that would ruin any career ambitions of his forever. Ah, well, he’d known this moment was coming.
“Here’s what I think,” Zu said. “You will perform the Soul Opening Ceremony on her, right here in front of witnesses. If you prove her innocence, she’ll live. If not, I’ll execute her tomorrow.”
The thin man looked interested. The Soul Opening involved sex. Required sex. So once again Zu wanted Fury to perform sexually for an audience, and this time a girl’s life hung on his abilities not only to excite her but to elicit information from her.
He clenched his teeth. In order to make that information available to the witnesses, Fury would have to allow Zu a certain amount of access to his thoughts as well. And he didn’t want Zu in his mind. Could he block him from certain areas while still allowing the man to observe what he learned from Ashtaroth?
I can’t let him kill her.
“If I do this, you have to agree to allow me complete leeway,” Fury said.
“Yes. Otherwise, I won’t be able to get what you want out of her.”
Zu bit his lip. “Oh, very well. Although I would like to see her punished.”
“No more punishment. It’ll make my job impossible.”
The governer bit more deeply. “I agree to give up the punishment, but I insist you use the frame. That is my condition. For you see, I don’t care about the girl at all. I’d be just as happy to execute her in the morning in front of all the other slaves. She’d make a fine example.”
“Fine. We keep the frame. But I need quick-heal ointment for her injuries.”
“Alright. Bay-el, fetch that immediately.”
Bay-el bowed deeply and left. Fury walked around the frame, taking in the fine quiver in the girl’s body. She’d been blindfolded with a black silk scarf, and he reached out to untie it.
“Leave that,” Zu said.
Fury glanced at him. The governor shook his head, eyes narrowed to slits.
“Alright. But I’m going to talk to her.” He knelt by her head without looking to see if Zu approved.
Someone – probably the thin newcomer – lit incense, and the scented smoke began to curl through the chamber.
The slave girl’s dark hair hung in sweaty strands next to her face. Fury brushed them back one by one. “They won’t hurt you anymore,” he murmured softly. “Understand?”
“Yes.” Her voice was faint and thready.
“I’m sorry this happened to you.”
“Sukay.” Zu’s voice had a sharp warning in it.
Fury glanced at him. “Do you want me to perform the ceremony or not?”
Zu ground his teeth so loud it was audible. “Fine. Carry on.”
Lily couldn’t see. All she could do was feel. The man who knelt before her was the same one who had brought her to orgasm that other time. The man who’d dropped into the garden just before the gunmen had burst in. This was the man who’d invaded her dreams for the past two months, filling her with a yearning she didn’t understand. Part of her wanted the blindfold off so she could stare at him, drink him in, and part of her wanted to run and hide someplace where he could never find her.
He believed she was innocent. That was the only thing that gave her hope she would survive the night. Zu had threatened her with an execution, but she’d not expected to live long enough for one. He’d been talking about bringing out the knives.
Assistant Sukay – Fury – caressed the side of her face. “Bay-el is bringing something to take the pain away. He’ll be here soon.”
She made a faint noise in her throat. What if Sukay didn’t believe she was innocent? What if it was another trick of Zu’s to play them off each other and make her trust the assistant, only to betray her at the last minute?
After all, Assistant Sukay had said plainly she was only a slave he’d fucked once. He didn’t care about her.
The apartment door opened and she heard the soft pad of Bay-el’s feet on the carpet. “Your ointment, sir.”
There was a slight breeze as Sukay stood. He walked around her. She heard the twist of the ointment tube’s cap, and then felt a cool, oily sensation on her butt and thighs. The burning pain in her skin immediately subsided.
Someone poured water into a glass. Then Sukay was standing by her head again. She knew it was him because she recognized the smell of him. The memory of it had haunted her, aroused her, for two long months.
Cool glass touched her lips. “Drink.”
She lifted her head and sipped. “Thank you.”
He put the glass down somewhere, making a low clunk sound as it hit wood. Then his fingers cupped her chin, his thumb stroking her lightly. He tipped up her face and pressed his lips to hers. They were soft and warm. No-one had ever kissed Lily on the mouth before.
“I’m going to make this as easy as I can for you,” he murmured. “The Soul Opening Ceremony will make you psychically open to me, so I can experience what happened in the garden from your perspective. Governor Zu and the witness will also be in psychic contact with us. That way, they’ll see the same things I do.”
Did he want a response from her? It wasn’t as if she had a choice, as if she could give her assent or deny them access. Lily said nothing. Let him make of it whatever he would.
“Does your skin still hurt?”
“It stings a little, but it’s much better.”
“Good.” He whispered something she couldn’t understand. His lips met hers again. Lily’s heart seemed to soften and warm with unexpected affection for him.
His feet made a soft pad-pad sound as he walked around the room, doing things she couldn’t see. The smell of fragrant incense met her nose. The men murmured words to each other, but she couldn’t hear them clearly. Then he returned to her.
Sukay kissed the top of her head, then her forehead. The places he’d kissed tingled strangely. He set his hands on her shoulders and squeezed lightly, then drew his palms all the way to her wrists, still whispering. Another repetition made her slightly more relaxed. He kissed her throat. Then he touched her bare breasts and she gasped. Her head jerked back.
“I’m not going to hurt you.”
He brushed his hands lightly over her skin. It made her nipples tingle and ache. After a couple of passes, he lifted her breasts in both hands, massaging them. Her breath quickened.
Was that normal? Or was he influencing her with his powers, making her feel something unnatural?
I don’t want this. I don’t want him to make me feel good about what they’re doing to me.
“Shh, Ashtaroth. Let me in, little one.” His hands continued to fondle her breasts. In her mind, something pressed against her, searching for a way in. Sukay pressed his lips to her breastbone.
Lily frowned under the blindfold. “Not – not Ashtaroth.”
He kissed her lips. “Let me in.”
Sukay removed his hands and mouth. She lifted her head, trying foolishly to see in spite of the blindfold. Then a soft sound beneath her informed her that he was sliding under the frame. His hand once again lifted her breast, and then his mouth took her nipple.
Lily shivered, a low moan leaving her.
The presence at the edge of her mind pushed forward. He suckled harder and she moaned again. The pleasure she’d been dreaming of for two whole months was on her again.
Zu made a rough noise in his throat. He was watching. Her excitement diminished as she pictured him and the other man observing her response to Sukay and deriving amusement from it. He liked to watch, and the only way she knew how to tolerate it was to take herself far away from her body.
A heavy male sigh came from under her. Sukay slid out from under the frame. He walked around her, sliding his hand between her and the bench. He pressed his fingers into her middle belly. Then her lower belly. Each time he touched her she felt a light electric tingle at that spot.
Lily lifted her head again, wishing she could get the damned blindfold off. But then she’d be able to see the other men in the room. Maybe it was better this way.
Sukay ran his hands up along the insides of her thighs. The touch felt good. He was trying to help her. She ought to cooperate. Lily took a deep breath, trying to let go of her fear enough to let him in.
Sukay replaced his hands with his mouth, kissing her up one thigh and then the other. He used his fingers to spread her pussy wide. Lily trembled, her sheath giving a pulse of longing she couldn’t control. He licked her sex and she gasped at the sharp tingle that pierced her.
She let go. The presence slid inside her mind, easily, as easily as his tongue slid into her body.
Show me, Sukay’s voice said inside her.
While he licked and probed her sex with his tongue, Lily remembered. She saw herself sitting under the apple tree with Ti, heard the gate breaking and the men rushing in, the rifle blasts, Ti collapsing. In her mind’s eye, Sukay dropped from the tree to the ground next to her and she gasped all over again.
His mouth withdrew from her pussy. “Well, Governor?”
Zu cleared his throat. “Yes. Uh, I’d call that inconclusive.”
“Would you?” Sukay sounded as if he didn’t care one way or another.
“Perhaps she didn’t actually open the gate for them, but she may have passed information to them. They seemed to have detailed knowledge of the layout of the compound. And what about the cameras? Someone inside deactivated them.”
“Haven’t you extracted that information from the prisoner?”
“He’s remarkably resistant to questioning.”
“Maybe you should try the Soul Opening Ceremony on him.”
Zu laughed. “Yes. Maybe I will. Are you volunteering?”
“Not at all.” The three men all laughed together.
Damned, callous Demon Kin. They didn’t care about anyone or anything but themselves. Sukay wasn’t kind or gentle unless he was trying to get something from her.
“So does this mean you’re going to execute her?” Once again, Sukay sounded utterly indifferent.
“I’m going to continue with the questioning, but it certainly looks that way. Why? Do you want her for something?” Zu answered with a smile in his voice.
“I was hoping to get that second fuck.”
Zu chuckled. “I thought as much. Go ahead and take her for the night. Tomorrow we’ll continue with the interrogation. Just don’t get yourself enchained.”
“Thank you, sir.” Sukay began to undo the clamps on the frame.
Lily tried to stand straight. Her body had been bent over the frame for so long she felt frozen in that position. She hissed at a sharp pain in her lower back. Sukay offered her an arm to lean on, and she took it even though she really wanted to bite it off.
Now she stood, stark naked, in the middle of Governor Zu’s apartment while three Malefican officials and one slave watched her. Their eyes were cold. Snake eyes.
“Does she have any clothes?” Sukay looked at Zu.
“They are torn.”
He shrugged. “I guess she doesn’t need them for what I have in mind.”
At that, Zu laughed again. He was getting a great deal of amusement from the situation, which was probably the real reason he was doing this. He didn’t care whether she was guilty or innocent.
“Come.” Sukay grabbed her wrist and pulled her toward the door.
“Enjoy yourself,” Zu called after them.
The assistant governor led her down a different hallway than the one she was accustomed to. This one led away from the slave quarters toward the back of the house. He opened the outside door and dragged her with him, not looking back to see how she was faring.
It doesn’t matter. I will die tomorrow.
They walked hand in hand down a wide concrete path which led through a formal garden, then took a side path paved in pea gravel. The gravel cut into her feet, making her wince. It was nothing. Compared to what Zu had done to her, it was hardly worth notice.
They came to a stone cottage. Sukay unlocked the door and led her inside. He flicked on the light, revealing a sparsely furnished Novus-Vitan-style sitting room and simple kitchen with a plain wooden table just big enough for two.
“Wait here.” He let go of her hand.
She stood in the space between sitting room and kitchen while he dashed up a narrow staircase. A moment later he returned carrying a small leather bag and a dark blue tunic with a rope-style belt. He threw the tunic at her.
“Put that on.”
“What are you doing?”
“Just put it on. We don’t have much time.”
Was this another of his tricks? She looked at him skeptically, but slipped the tunic over her head. It was comically large on her, coming down to her ankles. The sleeves drooped well past her hands. She rolled them up to her wrists and tied the belt tight.
Sukay took her by the hand again. “Don’t speak. They could be watching or listening.”
How droll. He was pretending to rescue her. She kept her mouth shut as he led her out the back door of the cottage. In the back was a small float car with room for one passenger. Sukay opened the door for her and she got in.
He slid into the driver’s seat without comment, started the engine and hummed quietly out of his parking spot onto a narrow back lane. Lily rested her head against the window glass and stared out at the darkness. Sukay was going to an awful lot of trouble just to play with her head.
“I hope you’re enjoying yourself,” she muttered.
“I hope you’re having fun, sir. You’re not convincing enough for me, though.”
He glanced at her. “You think I’m doing this for fun?”
“I think you’re trying to confuse me, give me false hope. It’s cruel, but no more than I would expect from a Malefican.”
Sukay grunted. “I hope I don’t live to regret this.”
What was that supposed to mean? Lily shook her head and gave up on talking to him. She closed her eyes. She was too tired to argue with him or play his little games.
* * *
Fury glanced at the slave girl again as he turned onto a back road that would take them to an open area of farmers’ fields where he could cut across country. She didn’t trust him at all. That wasn’t surprising, but he was disappointed anyway. He was a sentimental fool.
Had he really expected her to thank him? To fall on him in gratitude? She hated his kind. Her whole family had made it their business to murder Bellerenics until they themselves had been hunted and killed.
I’m doing what I believe is right. Her gratitude is unnecessary.
If he left her on Novus Vita, Zu would come after her again, and no-one would be here to take her side. No-one would stop him from raping her, beating her, and ultimately having her killed.
Wheat fields spread themselves before him. Fury guided the float car over them, turned in the direction of Vineyard, which had a small space port, and sped off into the night at the highest velocity possible. He was going to get both of them off-world before dawn.
She seemed to be asleep. His own eyes were drooping, but he didn’t dare close them. Autopilot couldn’t be trusted at a time like this. So Fury turned up the air conditioning, focusing the icy blast at himself to stay awake.
Back on Belleren, the king was inviting and sometimes pressing human women to come in and marry Demon Kin men in order to give them a new generation of children. The babies could be genetically manipulated in utero so the Demon Kin attributes like horns and psychic abilities would dominate over the human genes. This was how they planned to regenerate their people now the war between Belleren and Novus Vita was over.
When his father died, Fury would need a wife. He glanced at the slave girl, wondering.
Are you insane? You don’t even know her real name.
Many of the Bellerenic males who’d married human women hadn’t known their wives at all when they’d married them. That was how desperate his people were for women. He knew a great deal about this woman, even without her name. He knew she had courage, she cared for her friends, she was resourceful and intelligent.
The girl stirred. She sat up straight and looked at him. “Where are you taking me?”
“To a spaceport.”
“Why do you think? We’re leaving Novus Vita.”
Her dark brows drew together. “You can’t just take me away from the governor. It’s illegal.”
“Do you want to stay with him?”
“No.” Her gaze was skeptical. “But I don’t want to stay with you, either.”
Nice. That was probably all the thanks he’d get. So much for enchainment. It hadn’t affected her in the least.
An hour and a half later, they arrived at the spaceport. He paid a valet to take the float car to a long-term storage facility and dragged the slave girl behind him into the main port building.
He didn’t have a reservation on any outbound ships, of course, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Getting a berth would simply cost more money. A lot more.
At the reservations desk, he left her on a generously-sized chair in the waiting area. She stared around the dingy little spaceport in apparent amazement at her new surroundings. The clerk gave her an amused smile before informing him there was only one berth available and the ship was leaving in one hour.
“Do you have papers for your slave, sir?”
“No. She was a gift.” He leaned conspiratorially across the desk. “You know how these Novus Vitans are. They often don’t register their slaves.”
“True.” The clerk shook his head. “They’re not very civilized, are they, sir?”
“No. I can hardly wait to get back to Belleren.”
Boarding was already officially over, but with the application of some extra cash Fury got permission to board late.
The slave frowned up at him. “Where are we going now?”
“We’re just in time to board our ship. Come on.”
He offered her a hand. After a moment’s hesitation, she took it. Fury leaned down and gave her a peck on the cheek. “The clerk is watching. Try to act like you trust me.”
They had little time to catch the ship. He scooped her into his arms and carried her, since her chains didn’t allow her to walk fast enough for the pace he wanted. People glanced at them as they passed, but passengers in a hurry were probably not an unusual sight here. Finally they reached the boarding area, forty-five minutes before the shuttle was due to launch.
Thank all the gods of Belleren. Now all they had to do was get the ship out of orbit and they’d be out of Zu’s reach.
He charged up the boarding ramp, the girl still in his arms. At the top, a uniformed steward waited to show them to their cabin. “Do you have any luggage I should bring up, my lord?”
The girl gave him an odd sideways glance when she heard the honorific.
“No. I’m afraid our luggage was lost. We’ll be replacing everything.”
The steward looked horrified. “I hope the loss didn’t occur on one of our ships.”
“No, it was another line.”
He beamed. “Ah. In that case, I recommend our shopping arcade. You’ll be able to purchase everything you need.”
The slave girl stared wide-eyed at the interior of the utilitarian little cabin. Fury tipped the steward and shut the door. The girl stood in the center of the room, hands clasped together, looking uncertain.
“You’re not playing a trick on me, are you?”
“No.” He shook his head once. “I’m not.”
“Why are you helping me?”
“Because what Zu was doing to you is wrong.”
She bit her lip and stared at him from under her lashes. “Then you believe I’m innocent?”
“Yes. Am I wrong?”
“No. I would never conspire with people like that. They almost killed Ti. Why would they do that? She’s a Novus Vitan, just like me.”
“They were making an example of the governor’s human slaves. The prisoner we questioned called you collaborators.”
She stiffened, her chin rising. “Collaborators! We were captured and kept in chains.”
“I believe they thought you should have done whatever was required to escape, even if it got you killed.” Fury, for one, was glad she hadn’t chosen that route.
Her spine drooped. She lowered her head, as if dejected by the notion. “I never had the courage.”
* * *
Lily watched the assistant governor as he watched her. He was tall, with broad straight shoulders and strong features – high cheekbones, sculpted lips, and large dark-brown eyes that regarded her so fixedly she thought he must want her after all. Perhaps it was his indifference that had been the act.
“You are courageous,” he said. “You’ve survived in spite of Zu’s treatment.”
Lily ignored that.
She’d heard that Sukay was to leave temporarily because of some event on Belleren. And now he was taking her with him. He was taking her away from her homeworld.
Away from death. You should be grateful.
But if she went with him to Malefica, she’d be living among the enemy.
You were already living with the enemy. Ashtaroth.
She studied his face again. He had a strong, sharply defined jawline shadowed with stubble and a straight nose to match. Short, black hair capped his head. Lily’s gaze traveled upward. His horns were black, too. Somehow she’d forgotten his horns during the last two months. In her dreams, Sukay looked human.
“Are you hungry?” he said.
She jerked her gaze to his. He would offer food to a slave? “I am, sir.”
“In that case, I’ll call room service.”
As Sukay turned to the voice link to make the order, Lily resumed her study of the room. Its size amazed her. Besides the bed, there were two small armchairs, a little table, and enough floor space to dance. Plain white walls sloped sharply down to frame a large bed with a white coverlet. Oh, God. That was where he would fuck her.
Inside, her body warmed, tingling with anticipation. Traitor.
He finished with the order. Then he paused to light a lamp attached to the wall near the table. The soft yellow glow made the simple room look cozy and charming rather than stark. Lily stood waiting, her arms at her sides, her head down but her gaze traveling across the room. And him.
He turned to her. “Come here.”
She took a hesitant step forward. Then another one. Now he was so close she could feel his body heat. She could smell him. The scent of clean male sweat did something strange to her body, bringing out an ache in her lower belly that made her want to rub herself against him. That scent had haunted her for two months.
Lily began to tremble.
Assistant Sukay tipped up her chin. “Look at me.”
She did. His eyes were beautiful, framed with long black lashes. He was beautiful. “Sir?”
“Don’t call me that.”
“W-what should I call you?”
Those thick black lashes came down, shuttering his eyes. “My name is Fury.” His tail swished lazily. The tip of it brushed her calves through the tunic.
“The other masters would be angry if they knew I’d called you by your given name,” she whispered. “I can’t – “
His gaze returned to hers, capturing her. He stroked his thumb along the line of her jaw, and Lily felt the caress all the way to the soles of her feet. “When we’re alone, you call me Fury. Understand?”
“What is your name?”
He frowned. “I meant your real name.”
Oh. “Lily. Lily Bond.”
His gaze traveled over her face, his expression softening. “Lily. That’s a beautiful name for a beautiful woman.”
“Thank you, sir. I mean Fury.”
“When Zu first took you, were you a virgin, Lily?”
She swallowed hard. “Yes.”
A look passed over his face that she could only describe as sad. That couldn’t be. Why would a Demon Kin male be sad for her?
The doorbell chimed. Fury turned to admit the room service boy, who was Malefican like him. The young man had odd, pinkish horns sticking up from his pale hair. A rich whiff of bacon came in with him. He wheeled his cart to the table and set out the food, then exited as quietly as he’d come.
“Let’s eat.” Sukay – er, Fury — smiled at her. “I ordered bacon, eggs, and orange relish with fresh rolls. I hope that’s acceptable to you.”
She frowned. “Sir, I am a slave. Why are you treating me as if I’m an ordinary person?”
“Even a slave deserves basic respect. You are a sentient being with feelings of your own.” He gave her a rueful smile. “And I seem to have developed an attachment for you during the times we’ve been together.”
“But that’s – that can’t be right.” Her mind felt numb and cold with all that had happened in the last twenty hours, too stiff with frost to take in new information. How could he have developed an attachment for someone he barely knew?
Maybe the same way you’ve developed feelings for him.
“Besides that, you’re not really a slave. Zu didn’t have the proper documentation for you.”
Not a slave? Her mouth opened, but for a moment no sound came out. “So I’m free?” she said finally.
“You’re free. Come, sit down and eat. We’ll talk more about it after you’ve had food and some rest. The gods know I could use some sleep myself.”
He did have dark circles under his eyes.
Lily sat at the table. She hadn’t eaten since lunchtime the day before, and the smell of food was making her mouth water. Removing the lids from the dishes revealed plates heaping with scrambled eggs, bacon, crusty rolls and the orange relish, which seemed to be chopped fresh oranges mixed with some kind of red berry.
She forced herself to eat slowly, like a lady, although she wanted to wolf it down. Fury sat down next to her and dug into his own plate like a starving man, although his manners were perfect. In fact they were so perfect she wondered where and how he’d been raised.
On Malefica, obviously, but in what social class? His behavior was so impeccable she thought he might be in the nobility, or whatever equivalent the Demon Kin had. Did the Demon Kin have nobility? She really knew nothing about their society.
Novus Vita was awash in stories about the Maleficans and the nasty things they did, the terrible gods they served, the sacrifices they performed. However, now that she’d met Fury she had to wonder how much of that was true and how much was just salacious nonsense.
I’m beginning to think he’s a good man.
Did that make her a traitor to Novus Vita? Her parents? Martin?
She continued to ponder the question without coming to any conclusions while they piled up the breakfast dishes and took turns in the bathroom brushing their teeth. The ship provided all the grooming supplies one could possibly want.
Lily emerged from the bathroom, her mouth tasting of spice-flavored toothpaste. Fury was already in bed, his naked shoulders peeking out from the white sheets and coverlet. A black tattoo of some winged creature peeked out over the top of his right shoulder.
She hesitated, her face heating. “I’m not clean, sir. Do you wish me to bathe first?”
“Come to bed, Lily. I won’t touch you. All I want to do is sleep.”
Oh. She turned off the light, climbed into bed next to him and slid under the covers. Maybe he didn’t want her as much as she’d thought. Maybe he merely felt sorry for her. These Maleficans were so confusing she didn’t even know what she wanted anymore. Not that it was relevant. She was merely a slave.
No. I’m not a slave anymore. I’m free now.
Lily turned her head to look at Fury by the dim glow of the night light. His eyes were closed, and as she watched him he gave a barely audible snore. He was already asleep. She closed her eyes.
* * *
When she awoke, the cabin was dark, with only the night light for illumination. Fury still slept. He was on his stomach now, face turned toward her. He looked peaceful, his big hands relaxed against the sheets.
She propped her head on her elbow. Fury’s horns were shiny black, like onyx or obsidian, and curved forward slightly. Lily reached out to touch one. It felt as smooth as it looked.
The chain that connected her wrists slid down, landing on his bare shoulder. Oops. She picked it up and held it taut so it wouldn’t clink or hit his skin again and wake him. Then slowly she pulled off the coverlet until she’d uncovered his tail.
It was almost naked at the base, the silky black hair beginning a couple of inches down and growing thicker to cover most of the tail completely. She glanced at his face. His eyes were still closed.
Lily touched the base of his tail with her fingertips. It felt firm, solid. She clasped it, giving the length of it a single stroke. What an odd sensation.
The tail moved in her hand, making her gasp. Fury opened his eyes. She dropped his tail, scooting backward a few inches until she reached the edge of the bed.
He smiled sleepily. “That felt good.”
“Yeah.” He rolled to his side. “Our tails are sensitive.”
“Oh. I – um – I was just curious.” Her face burned.
“It’s alright.” He rolled to his side. “We like having our tails played with.”
Oh, God. Now her face was so hot it stung. “You do?”
“Yeah. It’s sexually exciting.”
“I didn’t know. I’m – uh – I’m going to go use the bathroom now, if you don’t mind.”
She scrambled out of bed and made for the bathroom. At the door, she paused to glance over her shoulder. Fury had his arms raised over his head and was stretching his whole body like a cat, his back arched luxuriously, eyes closed as if in bliss, every muscle in his torso displayed in gorgeous relief. The picture he made caused her belly to quiver.
Lily escaped into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her. She rushed through a shower in the tiny compartment provided and brushed her teeth, and then she couldn’t avoid him anymore. With her borrowed tunic belted as tightly as she could make it, Lily emerged from the bathroom.
He was sitting cross-legged on the bed. Without a shirt. Lily dropped her gaze to the floor. Although she’d been with many men, none of them had ever taken off their clothes. She was always the naked one.
Fury leapt gracefully off the bed and disappeared into the bathroom. With his back turned to her, she had a clear view of the huge bird he had tattooed on his upper back and shoulder. It looked as fearsome as he did.
A few minutes later, he emerged nearly naked, clad only in a towel around his hips, and smelling of the provided soap and shampoo. Lily turned on the wall lamp.
“There are two rolls left,” she said without looking at him. “Would you like them?”
“We’ll share. And later we’ll go out for more.” Fury snagged the rolls, handing one to her.
She wasn’t as desperate for food as she’d been when they’d arrived, and it made her self-conscious to stand in front of him eating. Slaves never ate in front of a master. At least, she never had.
You’re not a slave anymore, Lily.
Freedom didn’t seem real yet.
How long had it been since anyone had treated her like a normal, non-enslaved human being? Or sentient being, as Fury had said. Months. Maybe a year. She’d lost count of how long she’d lived in captivity.
They finished their snack and washed it down with plain water. Fury was watching her with a speculative gleam in his eyes. A hungry gleam. Lily blushed.
What is wrong with me? He’s seen everything, every part of me. There’s no reason to be embarrassed.
It felt different, though, being truly alone with him. There was no audience for whatever they did together, no-one to observe the way he treated her or the way she responded. No-one to make crude remarks the way Zu always did.
“No matter what happens, I will treat you well,” he said.
Um. “Thank you.”
He came toward her. She managed a quick peek at him from under her lashes but couldn’t quite bring herself to stare. Even though she wanted to. His form was lean, muscular, and beautiful. She wanted to touch him.
“I want you, Lily, and I know you want me. I can smell your desire.”
She blinked. “You can?”
Fury smiled. “Yes.” He took her chin and angled it upward. “Look at me.”
She looked. His eyes were so dark they were almost black in this light.
“I won’t force you. I’m asking you if you would make love with me.”
Her heart began a frantic rhythm. He was asking her. Why was he asking her when he didn’t have to? “I don’t know how to make love,” she whispered.
“I’ll teach you.”
“Then yes. I would like to. Make love. With you.” She was stammering like a fool.
He smiled again, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “I’m glad. First, let’s get those chains off.”
She waited while he found the key in his trouser pocket.
“I don’t think Zu knows I have one of these.”
He stuck the key in the lock mechanism on her right wrist and turned it. The shackle fell off. It was so easy, almost too easy. She’d been wearing these despicable chains for so long. Quickly he unlocked the rest of them.
“That’s better,” he said. “I should have done it earlier.”
“Thank you, sir. I don’t know what to say.”
“You already said it. And don’t call me sir.”
Fury leaned down, angling his head as he brought his face to hers. She held herself perfectly still, waiting to see what he would do. His lips met hers, softly, then pulled away. He’d kissed her.
No-one had ever kissed Lily on the mouth, except for him.
Fury’s hand cradled her head. He repeated the kiss, first on her upper lip and then her lower. “Relax, Lily.” He brushed his mouth across hers.
Her lips softened. She hadn’t realized she was holding them so tensely.
“That’s it.” He sucked lightly at her bottom lip.
Lily’s mouth parted, and Fury took advantage by sweeping his tongue along the opening. It should have been revolting, but it wasn’t. It felt good. He did it again, and her lips parted even wider. Fury plunged his tongue into her mouth.
Her body swayed toward him. His arm came around her back, holding her against his unyielding torso. His body felt hard and hot against her softness, and for some reason that made her pant and moan under his kiss.
His hand moved down to cup her ass through the tunic. He squeezed her there, rubbing the muscles, as he explored her mouth with his. Her whole body felt warm and tingly now, and she ached inside her sheath. But it was a good ache, one that made her long to have his cock in her.
Fury left off squeezing her ass. His hands went to the belt at her waist, where he fumbled with the knot. He gave an impatient growl when it refused to submit to him.
“Take off your tunic.”
She fumbled with the knot, too, her hands trembling from the effect he had on her. Fury growled again, his hand going to the sheath on his belt. He pulled out a knife. Lily gasped, lurching backward.
He held up a calming hand. “I’m not going to hurt you, little one. I only want to cut the rope.”
“Just the rope?”
“Yes. Come here. I promise you I won’t hurt you.”
Lily forced herself to come closer. There had been another man with a knife. Zu had made him put it away because he didn’t want any permanent damage done to her. Yet.
Fury slipped the knife behind the belt and sliced through it. He stuck the blade back in its sheath. “See? I won’t cut you ever.”
She nodded wordlessly.
“Was there someone else?” His gaze narrowed, his tail once again moving in sharp flicks. “Did someone else cut you?”
“He wanted to.”
Fury put his arms around her and held her against him. Hugging her. Without thought, her own arms encircled his waist. It felt natural somehow to stand this way with him, her cheek nestled against his naked and muscular chest. He was the most confusing Malefican she’d ever met.
“You’re safe with me,” he murmured against her hair.
She almost believed him.
His engorged cock pressed hard against her belly, letting her know just how aroused he was. No woman was safe near an aroused Demon Kin male. Yet her body didn’t care about that; her body just wanted him to take her.
He was stroking her back again. His hands began to work her tunic up by the fistful, until he moved back a handspan. “Lift your arms.”
She did. Fury drew the ill-fitting tunic off and threw it to the floor. Then he stared at her so intently she began to shift uneasily from one foot to the other.
His right hand came up and cupped her breast. “Gods of Belleren, you are so beautiful.”
The heat of his hand made her tremble even harder. He lifted her breast, then squeezed it gently. She arched her back, shoving her chest higher, asking for more.
Fury brushed his palm lightly over the bottom curve, then again across the nipple. And once more. Lily’s breath went ragged.
He continued this treatment until she began to moan aloud at each stroke. Bending his head, he took her nipple in his mouth and sucked. Lily watched him do it. His black lashes made a fan-like shape against the olive tone of his skin.
The pull of his mouth on her breast caused bright arrows of pleasure and yearning to shoot all the way down to her womb. Her knees wobbled, so she clung to his shoulders for support. Her voice rose in one moan after another.
Fury walked her backward to the bed. He picked her up and placed her on top. “Spread your legs. I want to see your pussy.”
Strange how she could still blush after everything Zu had done to her. Yet her face was burning. Lily opened her thighs.
“Wider,” Fury said in a husky voice.
She pulled them farther apart. He let out a deep-voiced sigh. Then his gaze flicked to hers, a question in his eyes. “Have you ever seen yourself?”
“You mean my – “
“No.” She knew her eyes were round as the moon.
Fury dashed into the bathroom and retured with a hand mirror. He sat on the bed next to her and held the mirror so it reflected her sex. Lily glanced at it and then looked away before she could really take in the image.
“Can you see it at this angle?”
“Yes,” she whispered, her face flaming.
“Look, little one. You’re beautiful.”
At his prodding, she brought her gaze back to the mirror. What she saw was strange. Foreign. There were folds of flesh between her legs, as pink as the inside of a shell.
She hadn’t known she looked like that . . . down there. When she washed, she used a cloth to touch herself. The folds glistened with moisture. Was that normal?
He continued to hold the mirror, while with his other hand he stroked along first one fold and then the other. Lily quivered. Fury spread the folds apart to reveal the small opening to her sheath.
“How do you – I mean, it’s so small – “
He laughed softly. “It stretches. It’s meant to take a man’s cock.”
Her sex pulsed in reaction to his words. She looked up, into his eyes. There was something in his gaze, something like tenderness. No, she had to be misinterpreting, seeing what she hoped to see instead of what was really there.
Fury laid the mirror aside and bent down to take her mouth again. His hand continued to gently tease the folds of her sex, rubbing the mound of flesh that surmounted it. Lily pushed against his hand. The pressure felt good.
He left her mouth and repositioned her on the bed, so that her head was all the way up by the headboard. Then he settled between her spread thighs, stroking the sensitive skin there. He’d licked her that other time. Was he going to –
His tongue touched her sex as lightly as a moth’s wing.
“A-ah!” Oh, God, the pleasure was like nothing she’d ever felt before.
He did it again, and again, and again. She jumped and gasped each time. Then his tongue began working a little deeper, stroking up along each side of her, across each fold, until he came to her center. He lapped right up her middle. Lily moaned.
“You taste good.”
He plunged his tongue into her. Lily raised her hips to meet him. Then he devoured her, licking and sucking until she exploded in flash after flash of pleasure-pain that shook her whole body and made her scream.
Fury rose over her, looking pleased with himself. She reached out and touched the smooth skin of his waist. The hard muscles underneath twitched slightly in response to her touch.
The planes of his body were perfectly proportioned, muscle and bone in complete masculine harmony, olive skin golden brown in the lamplight.
“You’re beautiful, too.” Her voice was barely audible.
But Fury smiled. He’d heard.
She sat up, her body still vibrating with the aftermath of what he’d done to her. “May I touch you?”
“Of course you may.” Fury took her hand and laid it against his abdomen.
His skin was hot and silky. A light furring of black hair covered his chest. There was a line of it down the center of his belly. It disappeared under the white towel, which was tented with the force of his erection.
Lily smoothed her palms across the expanse of his chest. His hair was wiry with curls, two dark nipples showing through. She kissed them one by one. Then, filled with the pleasure of his warm skin beneath her lips, she kissed her way down his belly.
Some men made her suck their cocks until they came in her mouth. She didn’t like it. But with Fury, maybe it would be alright. Lily pushed the towel off his narrow hips, allowing his cock to spring out.
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