Lucifer's Castle cover

Lucifer’s Castle: Tales Of The Demon Kin

I just re-issued Lucifer’s Castle as a Tori Minard title. This is a red-hot read with lots of s*x, so don’t go there unless you can take the heat.

Lucifer’s Castle

 Tori Minard

Writing as Tessa Tremaine

Copyright © 2011 by Tessa Tremaine

Cover Art by Tori Minard from photo by © Roman Snytsar | and digital art by© Afxhome

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 any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author.

 Genevis Belleren falls in love with the two sexy Demon Kin males who kidnapped her and made her a hostage in order to escape slavery in the brothel Lucifer’s Castle. She’ll do anything for them—even oppose her uncle, one of the most powerful men in the galaxy—in order to join her lovers on a primitive desert world that has killed everyone who attempts to tame it.

Chapter 1: Lucifer’s Castle

The stateroom was first rate, with a full bathroom and a bed big enough for two people to sleep comfortably. The carpet was a hand-woven Turkish reproduction, the furniture upholstered in creamy ivory white mohair, the glassware real glass. It was the best money could buy, and Genevis was beginning to hate it.

She hadn’t even been there very long—just overnight. Belle Station, where she lived, boasted a near-by wormhole that had in fact been part of the incentive to build in that location. Travel to and from Belle was quick and easy. She simply didn’t want this assignment to Earth.

If she could convince the captain to turn around and run back to Belle without ever entering Earth’s system, she would be delighted with the stateroom. Thrilled. She’d savor every minute she spent in it.

Her view screen pinged and an image of her uncle, Warren Belleren, popped up. He wore his usual dark suit and was smiling, which only served to underscore how much weight he placed on her mission. That smile didn’t bode well for her request for a change.

“Hello, Genevis. I imagine you’re getting pretty excited now that you’ve almost entered the solar system.” He winked. “It won’t be long now until you’re at Lucifer’s Castle and you finally have the male attention you’ve been craving.”

He never missed a chance to remind her how unlucky in love she was. “Actually, I wanted to let you know that I’m reconsidering this assignment. I’m just not suited for it.”

She braced herself for his response. Refusing an assignment and being indecisive were two of the greatest sins a member of the Belleren family could commit. Her behavior in this matter wasn’t going to do her career or her standing with Uncle Warren any favors.

The time delay in communications meant that she had ample opportunity to observe his expression changing from smug to stern. He leaned toward the view screen. “You know how important this is to the station. We need you to move forward on this.”

“I understand that. But I’m not the right person. I don’t know anything about brothels and I find slavery reprehensible.”

The long pause between her statement and his reaction made her stomach churn.

At last he waved his hand in dismissal. “You don’t have to know about brothels. You’re an expert in hospitality. These are transferable skills, Genevis. As for your political ideals, they’re irrelevant. The needs of the family and the station have to come first.”

She sighed at the guilt that swamped her. It was true—Belle Station came first. Always. She would let down the family and the station if she backed out. But she had a compelling reason to ask for a reassignment.

“Uncle Warren, I’m fat. None of the men in that place are going to want to—um—be intimate with me.”

Waiting. Waiting. Genevis tapped her fingers nervously on the stateroom’s satiny built-in desk of real Earth cherry wood.

Warren made another dismissive gesture. “It doesn’t matter if you’re fat. The Demon Kin will happily pleasure anyone. And if they won’t, we need to know that. You’re the perfect person for the job.”

Wow. Thanks, Uncle Warren. Just once it would be nice if he would tell her she was attractive, even if it was in spite of her size. Get over it, Genevis. You’re a grown woman and a professional. You don’t need reassurance that you’re pretty.

The fact was that, given his attitude, she wouldn’t be able to squirm out of the assignment without causing an irreparable breach with her uncle. She should have known.

“All right. I’ll do my best.”

“That’s the right answer. Remember, Belle is more important than any of us individually. We all must do our part.”

She’d been hearing that since she was five years old.

“Yes, sir.”

“I look forward to your full report.”

Genevis nodded. “I look forward to presenting it, sir.” The standard response.

So she’d just humiliated and made herself look weak for nothing. She still had to present her rotund self to the Quert Industries liaison, still had to endure the eye-rolls and expressions of distaste she got from men who inevitably preferred slender, delicate women over her. This was going to be fun.

Lucifer’s Castle, here I come.

For crying out loud, couldn’t they have picked a better name? Talk about crass. But it probably brought them a lot of customers who were titillated by the idea of fornicating in Lucifer’s domain.

Perhaps she could negotiate for any Demon Kin they purchased to be freed after a certain number of years. She could put up with some humiliation if it meant even a handful of slaves would go free. That would make this travesty of an assignment worthwhile.

***

Well, here she was in the garden of Lucifer’s Castle. Who would have thought that the Lord of Hell kept a garden? With flowers and everything. From what she’d seen of the place, it was overwhelmingly Gothic in theme, dark and decadent, except for this enclosure surrounding a generous, sparkling-blue swimming pool and fountain. Here were sun and bright flowers in every color, and a mind-boggling array of Demon Kin.

There were dozens of gorgeous men in the garden, and she had to have sex with at least one of them. They’d probably have to draw straws, and the poor sucker with the short straw would get her.

She was the wrong person for this job. She knew it, and the oily representative of Quert Industries standing next to her probably knew it too. But she’d be damned if she admitted it. Genevis gazed at the milling throng of sex slaves populating the sunny garden and forced a smile.

“Impressive.” She nodded, to reinforce the illusion that she knew what she was talking about.

Bob Tate grinned. “They are, aren’t they?”

A small, buzzing insect flew right by her ear. She clamped down hard on the urge to yelp. “Oh, yes.”

There must have been a hundred of them, male and female, standing in small groups under rose-covered arbors, sitting on benches and the coping of the elaborate central fountain, even reclining on the velvet-green grass of the walkways. All of them stark naked in the Southern California heat. She’d never seen so many naked people in her life, and they were all beautiful.

Although they spoke quietly, there were so many that their voices completely drowned out the sound of the fountain.

Demon Kin. That’s what Quert called them. And they looked the part, with curling horns on their heads—some sticking out to the sides and others up toward the sky—and long, serpentine tails that swished gently back and forth as they walked. They were so surreal that she had to fight an urge to stare—she who’d met representatives from every alien culture in contact with Earth.

The males also possessed hard, muscular bodies and cocks so thick and long that it was all she could do not to gape at them. Her pussy gave a sudden, embarrassing throb at the thought of one of those cocks inside her body.

The Demon Kin were looking back at her, obviously curious about her. Probably wondering who she was and why her visit entitled her to a private viewing of the assembled slaves. Or had Quert announced her family’s interest in purchasing some of them in order to establish a Demon Kin brothel on Belle Station?

Of course, no brothel under her command would sport tacky devil imagery. If she had to establish a place like this, it would be tasteful. Elegant. Beautiful. And because it would be on a space station, there would be no nasty little bugs to fly or creep about stinging and biting people.

Her gaze came to rest on a large male standing with his back to her about ten yards away. He possessed hair so dark it was nearly black, even in the bright sunlight, and a body of such perfection that she caught her breath. The tight rounded globes of his ass made her wish she could caress him.

I probably could. Isn’t that why they’re here?

But it would be wrong. Slavery was wrong. Unfortunately, her uncle Warren didn’t agree with her on that point, and family loyalty and honor demanded that she play the part of an interested potential buyer.

I just have to get through the next week. Then I can take my vacation and forget all about this place.

The dark-haired male turned toward her. Even with the distance between them, the bright sapphire of his eyes was obvious. She’d never seen eyes so blue. He glowered at her, his close-cropped goatee and mustache making him seem Satanic. Resentment and barely suppressed fury seemed to radiate from him.

Genevis suppressed a shudder. “Are you sure they’re not dangerous?”

“Absolutely sure.” Tate pointed to the neck of a nearby female. “See the collars? They provide complete control. In addition, all our slaves have undergone extensive obedience training.”

“I see.”

A narrow golden band around the blue-eyed slave’s neck glinted in the sunlight. So that was what controlled them? How did it work? It couldn’t be direct mind control or he wouldn’t be glaring at her like that.

Genevis’s pulse rapped out a steadily increasing beat as they stared at each other. The deep parts of her body grew warm and heavy and moisture pooled between her thighs. She wanted to take that arrogant, staring bastard down a notch. He was a slave; he had no business staring at her that way.

She saw him bending over her, taking her mouth in a brutal kiss, mastering her with his powerful body, his hands all over her, delving between her legs. The fantasy brought another throb of yearning from her pussy.

The man next to him turned as if to see what his companion was looking at. This one’s hair was chestnut brown. His eyes were brown, too, his features just as beautiful as his blue-eyed friend.

Brown-eyes smiled. It was a flirtatious gesture and Genevis smiled back at him, but underneath his friendliness was something predatory. His smile broadened, showing a hint of his long, sharp incisors.

Fangs? They have fangs? Her sources had said nothing about that.

“The Demon Kin are highly sexual,” Tate continued. “We bred them for enhanced sexual appetites, to make them better at pleasing our customers.”

“A wise choice.” Her voice came out in an unenthusiastic monotone.

She needed to look away from the two males, but her gaze seemed to be pinned to them. Captured. It felt as if she couldn’t look anywhere else.

They were not human. That was obvious, so why did she find them so exciting?

Many customers patronized Quert’s brothel for that very reason—because of the exotic appearance of the Demon Kin. That much she’d learned from the research she’d done on the ship from Belle Station to Earth. Evidently some humans derived sexual excitement from the idea of making love to a demon. Or, in the case of the Demon Kin, creatures who looked like demons.

The two men both had dark horns that curled away from the sides of their skulls in graceful, spiraling arcs. Their tails were dark, too, covered in silky hair and ending in forks covered by puffs of fur.

Like lion’s tails. The tails flicked back and forth, reinforcing the cat-like image.

I am not the kind of person who gets off on screwing freaks.

Genevis winced at her own crudity. The Demon Kin weren’t freaks. They were a new, genetically-engineered race of humanoids.

A thought occurred to her. “Are they sterile?”

“Oh, no. They are quite a fertile race. However, we keep both males and females on long-acting birth control except for those we’re breeding. And the breeding pairs are kept out of rotation in the brothel. We at Quert do everything possible to ensure the Demon Kin genome doesn’t escape our compound. You needn’t worry about a pregnancy.”

“That’s a relief.” She tilted her head. “Can they reproduce with humans?”

“Yes, they produce fertile hybrid offspring. But as I said, you don’t need to worry about that. You must be tired after your long journey.” Tate took her by the elbow. “We have refreshments waiting in the lounge, if you’ll come this way.”

He led her along one of the grassy paths that wound amongst the flower beds and re-entered the brothel. Inside, the floors were of cool black marble and the light came filtered through the louvers of black shutters covering the tall windows. A Demon Kin male pushed a broom down the hallway, while a female with a basket of cleaning gear on her arm opened a door and disappeared into a side room.

“You have them working as janitors as well?”

“We find they are better adjusted if they have work in addition to their sexual duties. They rotate tasks, and take care of all the maintenance of their building and garden.”

The male, who wore a pair of snug black shorts and nothing else, glanced over at her and smiled. So they weren’t all as angry as the blue-eyed male in the garden. Genevis smiled back at him. He was shorter than Mr. Angry, with sandy hair, caramel-colored horns and a deep tan. His body was just as beautifully developed as all of his peers, with a taut waist and bulging arm muscles. The fit of his shorts had an opening in the back to allow for his golden tail. Its snugness revealed most of the shape of his generous sex. She blinked and turned her gaze away, scanning the hall for something else to look at.

“Do you like Nick?” Tate said.

“He’s very attractive.”

“I’ll assign him to you for tonight, then.”

Her face burned, and she knew she was blushing. No man as good-looking as Nick would want to spend the night with her. She wasn’t exactly the stuff of male sexual fantasies. But she couldn’t refuse, could she?

Genevis forced herself to meet Tate’s eyes and smile. “Thank you. That would be lovely.”

Tate gestured toward a large room that opened directly onto the hall. Its open windows looked out onto yet another garden, this one shaded by a huge tree and full of tropical-looking plants with enormous leaves in a profusion of shapes. Here and there, brilliant orange flowers peeked out of the greenery.

The room itself featured an enormous painting, dominated by black, orange and red tones, of a gorgeous male Demon Kin clasping a fainting human woman in his arms. Exotic ancient weapons hung on the other walls. A marble-topped table in dark gleaming wood already loaded with food and drinks stood next to one of those windows.

“You certainly have a beautiful setting here,” Genevis remarked. “I couldn’t have done better myself.” If I were filming a horror vid, that is.

“Are you in the hospitality business, Miss Belleren?”

“Didn’t my uncle tell you?” The rat. “I’m the director of hospitality on Belle Station.”

Tate raised his brows as they strolled toward the table. “That’s a position of great responsibility for one so young.”

“We Bellerens start working in our mid-teens.” And of course they had nepotism on their side, but she wasn’t going to say that to Tate. Instead, she picked up a strawberry and held it to her lips.

Outside, a man shouted. Genevis jumped, her head swiveling to look out the window. The shout came again, two voices this time, loud and furious. Two men strode into the sun-dappled tropical garden, their faces distorted with rage as they brandished signs reading “Death to Satan’s Minions.”

“Son of a bitch,” Tate muttered. He pulled a voice link from his pocket and hit the numbers.

The men outside both noticed her at the same time. They pointed at her through the open window. “Slut! Whore of Babylon!”

“What is going on here, Mr. Tate?”

“Get out to the south garden immediately,” Tate growled into his link. “We have gate crashers.”

He took her by the elbow, urging her to leave. She didn’t want to go. What she wanted was to find out who the protesters were and why they were so angry.

Genevis leaned toward the intruders, supporting herself with a hand on the windowsill. “I’m curious to know why you two gentlemen think I’m a slut.”

For an instant, both men merely gaped at her, as if they hadn’t realized she could speak. One of them stepped forward, using his sign to point at her.

“You’re here, aren’t you?”

“Are you so devoid of imagination that you can’t think of any reason for me to be here than that I’m a—what was it again? Oh, yes, a whore of Babylon.”

The man glared. “What other reason is there?”

“I’m investigating this facility.” Which was true, after a fashion.

“Then you ought to know what kind of monstrous creatures they’ve created here. Creatures only Satan could have inspired.”

“You refer to the Demon Kin, of course.”

“They are an abomination!” yelled the other man.

She raised her eyebrows. “You object to them based on what they’re called?”

“And their appearance. Have you seen them yet?”

The second intruder nudged him. “Of course she’s seen them. They’re crawling all over this compound.”

“Their appearance is no fault of theirs,” Genevis said. “They were designed to look that way.”

The men pressed forward until they could almost touch the window frame. “We don’t care whose fault it is,” the first one said. “We just want them destroyed. Lucifer’s Castle must be torn down and the grounds purified.”

She opened her mouth to reply. Five enormous security guards burst into the garden, guns drawn. The protesters threw down their signs and put their hands in the air.

“We’re here peacefully,” the first one said. “There’s no need for violence.”

“Put your hands on your heads,” yelled a guard.

Tate returned his attention to her. “I’m terribly sorry about that, Miss Belleren. I don’t know what happened, but I promise you I’ll get to the bottom of it as soon as possible.”

She watched as the guards herded the two intruders out of the garden. “Has this happened before?”

“No. Never. There have been protests, but until now they’ve confined themselves to the street.”

“Really. How widespread would you say the protests are?”

He made a dismissive gesture. “Not widespread at all. It’s just a few fanatics who make noise completely out of proportion to their numbers.”

“I see.” Would the protests expand to include Belle Station? The last thing the family needed was for a bunch of fanatics to disrupt operations with protests that could ultimately turn violent. On the other hand, there was no such thing as bad publicity—but the added security risks would have to be taken into account in her report to Warren.

***

“You can quit glaring now. She’s gone.”

Jude turned his glower on his closest friend. “Do you know who she is?” The voluptuous human woman had made him instantly aroused and that, as usual, made him want to pound something. That he had no control over the way he responded to those who oppressed his people was a constant insult.

Seth shrugged. “No. Who?”

“I don’t know either, but Tate must think she’s important or he wouldn’t have had so many of us out here. He was showing us off like prize-winning cattle at a county fair.”

His friend grinned, brown eyes laughing. “You don’t know a damn thing about county fairs.”

“I’ve read about them.”

Seth’s grin disappeared. “Shut up about that.” He gritted the words out from between his teeth.

Jude slung his arm across the other man’s bare shoulders. They hadn’t been intimate in weeks and the contact felt good. Necessary. “It’s all right. Nobody’s paying attention to us.”

Seth leaned in to the embrace. “Someday you’re going to push it too far, boy.” He shot an angry glance at Jude. “And I’ll never forgive you if you leave me. Got it?”

“Hey.” Jude gave his shoulders a light squeeze. “I’m not going anywhere. We’re too valuable for them to kill.”

Nick sauntered up to them with wide eyes and a huge grin. Although the only thing on his body was a tight pair of shorts that barely covered his ass, he was more dressed than any of the other Demon Kin in the garden. He looked like he couldn’t decide whether to be excited or scared shitless.

“What happened to you?” Jude said.

“Didn’t you hear all the yelling?” Nick glanced over his shoulder, then leaned in conspiratorially. “We got some protesters.”

Seth rolled his eyes. “Again?”

“This time they got inside.”

Jude and Seth exchanged a glance. Nick had been known to exaggerate a time or two.

“For real? They were inside the compound?”

“I was there, Jude. Saw and heard the whole thing. They called our visitor a whore of Babylon. Wonder what that means?”

“It means she’s an evil temptress who leads men into sin.”

Nick blinked. “Can you put that in regular English?”

“She likes sex too much,” Seth said.

Nick blinked again, frowning. “I didn’t think that was possible.”

“Those protesters think it is.” Jude let his arm fall from Seth’s shoulders. Everyone knew they had an especially close friendship, but it wouldn’t do to emphasize the fact.

“I thought she’d be scared, but she wasn’t.” Nick scratched his ear. “She talked to them like they were bad kids or something.”

Hmm. A woman with enough spirit to stand up to those fanatics. Intriguing. Jude told his libido to stand down. “Did you find out why she’s here?”

“She told the protesters she was investigating the facility.”

They looked at each other, the same question in their eyes. “Investigating how?”

“I dunno.” Nick shrugged. “She seems nice, though. I like the way she smiles.”

“Me, too.” Seth grinned, outlining curvy shapes with his hands. “I like everything about her. Whoever gets assigned to her is going to be a lucky man.”

Nick straightened. “I’m assigned to her tonight.”

Jude’s jaw clenched in sudden jealousy. Completely irrational jealousy, since he had no connection with the human female and wanted none. “Better you than me.”

“Don’t you want her?” Nick said incredulously.

“No.”

He stared at Jude for a moment, looking as if he couldn’t understand him or anything he said. Which was probably close to the truth, now that he thought of it. Finally Nick shook his head.

“I’ve gotta go and get ready. I’ll see you later.” He strode away, still shaking his head.

“You shouldn’t tease him like that,” Seth said, watching him go. “It only confuses him. And I know you were lying about the woman. I saw the way you were looking at her.”

“The only thing I want from her is that she get the hell out of our compound.”

Seth gave him a speaking look. “Whatever you say.”

“I don’t think she’s really here to investigate the facility.” Jude narrowed his eyes, picturing the human and the way she’d regarded the slaves assembled for her viewing pleasure. “An investigator wouldn’t be taking a slave for fucking.”

“Unless Tate’s buying her off.”

Jude grunted. “There is that.”

“You should use your abilities to see if you can find out anything.”

“They don’t work like that.” He’d tried to master his apparent psychic powers, but had only spotty success.

“Maybe they would if you practiced more.”

“Quit nagging, Seth.”

“Can’t help myself.” His friend elbowed him in the ribs. “Do you have an assignment this evening?”

“Not yet.”

“Come on.” Seth gestured toward the brothel house with his head. “Let’s talk somewhere else.”

He walked side by side with Seth into the cool darkness of the house. The woman was in here somewhere, doing whatever it was guests did when they weren’t being sexually serviced. How long was she going to stay?

His hands tightened into fists when he thought of the way she’d looked at the Demon Kin. With contempt. She’d looked as if she didn’t want to soil her pretty human fingers by touching creatures like them. But she had accepted Nick.

An image of the human with her legs spread wide for him caused his cock to swell and harden. Would the color of her hair be as golden on her pussy as it was on her head? Would she look up at him with those beautiful blue-gray eyes and say his name? He dug his nails into his palms to stop the erotic thoughts. This wasn’t the time.

Jude opened the door to his little closet of a dorm room. There wasn’t much inside—just a narrow metal bed with a thin mattress and threadbare blanket, a few hooks on the wall for his shirts and shorts, and a window that looked out on a service area of the compound. The worn vinyl floor had holes in it.

As soon as Seth had closed the door, Jude leaned in and whispered in his ear. “We’re going to have to move soon.”

“I agree. Do you have a ship targeted?”

Jude nodded. “There are a couple coming in this week that would work well. One is bound for a penal colony and the other for some new agricultural colony.”

“I favor the agricultural one. It’ll probably be full of livestock and seeds for planting.”

“It will be. I hacked into the shipping company offices and had a look at the manifest.” Jude rubbed his chin. “Are the others ready?”

“Some are. Some are waffling.”

“Christ.” He scowled. “We can’t afford failing nerves. I don’t want anyone crying to the Keepers.”

“They’re too loyal to squeal.”

“I don’t know. Some of them might think they’re doing us a favor by turning us in. We need some insurance.”

He began to pace the small room, his tail lashing back and forth, hitting the furniture and wall with every pass. Seth hopped on the bed to get out of his way. There were only a couple of meters between the bed and the door, so he had little room in which to maneuver.

Insurance. What would give them some kind of guarantee that they wouldn’t be stopped, or that their stolen ship wouldn’t be shot out of the sky before they even had a chance to leave the solar system? He mentally scanned the books he’d snuck, against the strictest orders, and read on the stolen reader he kept tucked under his mattress.

Encyclopedias, biographies, tales of adventure, math texts; he’d read anything he could find and steal. If he’d been caught, he would have been beaten severely and kept in chains for the rest of his life. But he hadn’t been caught.

“A hostage.” He swiveled to look at Seth. “We should take a hostage, someone important.

Seth whistled. “Risky.”

“Everything about this venture is risky. We just have to choose the right person.”

“What about Tate? Or better yet, someone even higher up.”

“That might work. But Tate can be replaced. We need someone big enough that Quert won’t consider him disposable.”

Seth ran his fingers through his hair. “And how are we going to get someone like that to come near enough to us to grab?”

“I have no fucking idea.”

“We’ll come up with something.”

***

The suite Tate had reserved for Genevis was even more luxurious than her shipboard stateroom, and a lot less dark than she’d expected. The walls were painted a chocolate brown, but the furniture was light. Genuine silk curtains in an aqua blue, an enormous bed with coordinating coverlet and silver fur throw, a little sitting area with two overstuffed white chairs and matching sofa, and a full-sized dining set. The bathroom was glossy gray and white marble, dark wood and a crystal chandelier. Quert didn’t stint on the decoration—but that had little to do with whether their Demon Kin creatures would be a wise purchase for the station.

Genevis brushed her teeth and took a shower after eating dinner in the suite. The servants who brought the food were human, not Demon Kin, and they informed her that the Demon Kin weren’t allowed to be involved with food service. That was odd.

Why didn’t Quert want them involved with food? Did they think their slaves would poison the brothel guests? Tate had insisted they weren’t dangerous, but of course he was trying to sell them to her.

It seemed the more time she spent here, the more questions arose. She might need more than a week. Perhaps Nick could give her some insight.

She slipped into a lavender silk robe she’d bought just for this trip. As she knotted the sash, there was a knock on the door. Her stomach fluttered nervously.

“Come in.”

Chapter 2: 

The door opened to reveal Nick, smiling, looking just as if he was happy to be there. He still wore the shorts, thank heaven. She didn’t know if she would have been able to look at him if he’d been naked.

“Are you ready for me?” he said.

She laughed a little. God, she sounded like a fifteen-year-old. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

He walked toward her, tail sweeping lazily, and took her hands. “Are you nervous?” His skin was warm.

“Incredibly nervous.”

“We’re not really demons, you know. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Genevis smiled at that. “I know. It’s not that. I just haven’t—it’s been awhile since I—”

Hazel eyes widened. “Oh.”

“Yeah, um, men don’t usually—you know—”

“That seems hard to believe.”

Now it was her turn to widen her eyes. “What do you mean?”

His gaze turned smoky. “I mean that you’re one of the sexiest women I’ve ever seen. All the men here want you, and a lot of the women too.”

She laughed again. “Come on.”

“It’s true.” Nick bent his head, his gaze fastened on her lips. “May I?”

“All right.” The word came out all breathy.

His mouth was gentle and warm as he brushed it against hers. He toyed with her lips, kissing first the upper and then the lower. His tongue flicked over the opening between them and she parted them for him.

God, he tasted good. She parried his tongue with her own, sliding deep into his mouth, along the hard ridges of his teeth and the slick inner surfaces of his cheeks. His hands were on her waist now, hot through the thin silk of her robe.

Genevis wrapped her arms around his neck. Their bodies came together, all the way from chest to hip. She quivered. It had been a very long time since she’d had a man.

His engorged cock pressed urgently against her belly. Damn, he really did want her. He made a low sound in his throat and rolled his hips against her.

Nick untied the sash of her robe with a few expert tugs of his fingers. His hands slid up her back, then down to her ass, where he began to massage her. Her core grew warm, tingling as her pussy began to ache with her longing to be filled.

“Is there anything in particular you want me to do for you?” he murmured as his lips found the side of her neck.

“Mmmm. You’re doing great so far.”

One large hand skimmed up from her hip to her breast, cupping the heavy curve, lifting. “So beautiful.”

He squeezed, gently molding her flesh as his thumb found her nipple. Genevis gasped at the jolt of pleasure the touch gave her. That was all the encouragement Nick needed to launch a sensual assault on both her breasts.

Soon, the robe was on the floor and he had his mouth fastened on one nipple, suckling, while his hand toyed with her other mound. She moaned and sighed. He was talented. Really talented. Her fingers plunged into the silk of his hair.

An awful thought occurred to her. “Nick, are they forcing you to be interested in me?”

His head came up, his brows pulled together. “Forcing me?”

“Yeah. With the collar.”

He grinned. “No. The collars don’t work that way. They only cause pain.”

“Pain. You mean they use the collar to punish you?”

“Yes.” He nodded cheerfully. “When we’re bad, the collars hurt. They can make it hurt a lot, which is why I try not to be bad.”

“Oh, my God.”

“You didn’t know?”

“I had an inkling, but I didn’t really understand.” She took a step away from him. “That’s awful.”

Nick shrugged. “Demon Kin have to be controlled. It’s for our own good.”

“I think that’s sad. You are being forced.” Her desire flagged under the knowledge that she was taking part in it.

“Don’t be sad, Miss Belleren. I was made for this. I want to be here, serving you.” He pushed a lock of hair from her face. “Please don’t send me back. I don’t want to get in trouble.”

“I don’t want you to either, but I also don’t want to force you to do something you’d rather not do.”

He smiled. “But I do. I want to be here. I’m happy you chose me for tonight.”

He did seem happy. What would it hurt to take what he offered? It was just for this one time, after all.

I have to find out more about those collars.

She gave him a smile. He grinned, widely enough that she could see his fangs. Those fangs gave her a momentary sense of panic. But Nick wouldn’t hurt her. He didn’t seem like the kind of person who would hurt anyone.

“All right.” Genevis put her arms around his shoulders. “Let’s do it.”

He kissed her with such enthusiasm, it was like he was trying to thank her with the touch of his mouth instead of with words. She let him guide her to the bed, where he laid her down and kissed the whole length of her body. It felt good, of course. Incredibly good. But she couldn’t shake the notion that she was taking unfair advantage of him.

He pushed her legs apart, settling himself between them. His fingers brushed the creases between her crotch and her thighs. She jerked and gasped at the exquisite, butterfly touch. Nick chuckled, a sound of pure male satisfaction. He replaced his fingers with his mouth.

“Oh, God.”

He kissed her all along those tender surfaces, nibbling delicately with his teeth, before transferring his attention to her pussy. His tongue gently teased her outer lips. She whimpered. Whether he was truly doing this of his free will or whether he was being in some way coerced, she couldn’t make him stop now.

Nick parted the folds of her sex. His tongue investigated every nook, every undulation of her flesh, the beautiful sliding pleasure of his wet mouth making her moan in one continuous exhale. She placed her hand lightly on the top of his head, her fingers stroking his hair. He tongued her aching sheath. Genevis cried out.

He began to lap at her, teasing and tormenting her clit, holding her hips down when she began to buck under his mouth. The pleasure gathered, pulling inward, tightening into one hot, hard knot until it burst inside her with dizzying speed.

She opened her mouth wide, gasping again for air. The orgasm had barely begun to fade when he thrust a thick finger inside her and rubbed it against the front wall of her sheath. Genevis yelled. Her fingers curled like claws, digging into the covers on the bed.

She threw her head back, screaming in an orgasm that never seemed to end. He kept crooking that finger, hitting a place inside of her that responded to him with greedy intensity. He was shattering her, killing her.

Nick kept his hand at her pussy while he shifted position so he was gazing down at her face. “I would like to fuck you now. May I?”

“Yes! God, yes!” She would have agreed to anything just to have the pleasure continue.

He removed his hand from her body in order to yank off his shorts. She felt the loss, almost begged him to bring it back. But his body—God, his body—was so hard with muscle and arousal that the sight of him stopped her thoughts cold.

Genevis leaned up and pressed her lips to his belly. It was flat and hard, with just a thin line of dark gold hair arrowing down to his cock. He moaned. She made a line of kisses downward until she reached his sex.

Her fingers closed around his girth. He moaned again. She licked the purplish tip of his penis, then took it in her mouth and sucked.

“Please, Miss Belleren. I won’t last if you do that.”

Reluctantly, she released him. He pushed her onto her back and positioned himself for entry. Genevis opened her legs as wide as they would go. He surged into her, shocking her with his size. For an instant, she thought he was going to hurt her accidentally. And then he started to move.

That huge cock of his hit every sensitive spot inside her sheath at once, making her writhe and groan beneath him. It was too much, it was too much, it wasn’t enough. She stared up at him, overcome with the feeling of his body inside of hers.

He paused, drawing a whimper of protest from her. Then he twisted his hips and she yelled again. Her hands grabbed onto his waist, her nails savaging his skin.

“Fuck me,” she moaned. “Please, fuck me.”

Nick braced his arms on either side of her and took up a hard, fast rhythm of thrusts. “Like that?”

“Yeah! Just like that.”

She banged her hips up against his, panting and moaning, reaching for the orgasm she knew was about to hit her. The slap of his pelvis on her mound pushed wave after wave of bliss through her, like one drawn out orgasm that left her swimming in ecstasy. And then it happened—he hit the perfect spot and she convulsed, screaming.

Nick closed his eyes and tilted his head back. He shouted, his mouth open in a grimace of extreme pleasure. His whole frame quivered, and he groaned as his head fell forward again. His seed shot into her, hot and wet. He ground his hips over hers for one last thrust and collapsed on top of her.

No sooner did she put her arms around him than he withdrew and rolled away from her, his breath coming rough and fast like hers. “I hope that was satisfactory.”

Genevis laughed. “More than satisfactory. It was incredible. Amazing.”

He looked pleased. “I’m glad.”

“Did you enjoy yourself?”

“Of course.” Nick levered himself into a sitting position. “I’ll be right back.”

He got off the bed and disappeared into the bathroom. A few minutes later, he came back with a washcloth, which he handed to her. It was hot and damp.

“Would you like me to help you with this?” He took a seat on the edge of the bed.

“No, thank you. I’ll get it.” She pressed the cloth between her legs. “Do you like living here, Nick?”

He looked puzzled. “Sure. Where else would I live?”

“I don’t know. I guess I just wondered if you’re happy. Do they treat you well?”

“As long as we do everything we’re told and don’t make any trouble, they do. If we’re bad, then they have to punish us.”

“I hope that doesn’t happen very often.”

He shook his head. “Not to me. Some of the Demon Kin have a harder time being good.”

Genevis regarded him thoughtfully. Sometimes he seemed almost childlike, as if the makers of his race had thought intelligence unnecessary in sex slaves. Other times, flashes of insight came through and she questioned her earlier assumptions.

“Which ones find it hard to be good?”

He tilted his head to the side. “Jude, mainly. They beat him sometimes.”

“Is he tall, with black hair and bright blue eyes?”

“And a goatee.” Nick smiled and shook his head. “They keep trying to make him shave it off and he always grows it back.”

“Huh. Wonder why?”

“I think he wants to be different from the rest of us. And he likes pushing them. He wants to find out how much he can do before they make him stop.”

“He was glaring at me today.”

“He’s all right.” He sent her a sideways glance. “He just gets into these dark moods sometimes. He’d never hurt you.”

“I hope you’re right.”

Nick leaned in for a kiss. “No-one here would hurt you. We all want you too much.”

She looped her arms around his neck. “That seems so hard to believe. Men never want me.”

“Maybe there’s something wrong with the men you know.”

Genevis laughed. “You’re sweet.”

“Does that mean I can come back?”

“I’d love to have you back.”

He beamed at her. “Good. I can hardly wait.”

***

Jude laid a stack of pristine white towels on a table near the guest swimming pool, noting that Nick and their important visitor were talking just a few feet away. She lay face down on a lounge chair, her hair twisted to one side to keep it off her skin. Nick had a bottle of sunscreen in his hands and was rubbing it over her naked back, his blond tail waving lazily from side to side. The expression on his face was . . . worshipful. That was the only word for it. He was more taken with this woman than any other guest with whom Jude had seen him.

He squinted in the harsh sunlight reflecting off the pool. What was so damned special about her, anyway? Yeah, she had shapely legs and a small waist and a spectacular ass. And what he’d seen of her breasts had been mouthwatering, not to mention her long blond waves of hair. But so what? Lots of women had beautiful bodies and hair.

Seth walked up next to him and put his mouth by Jude’s ear. “You’re staring again.”

“I don’t understand what he sees in her.”

Seth gave him another of his speaking glances. “You’re such a liar.”

He spun on his heel and stalked off toward the pool house. “I have work to do.”

Seth followed. “You know you want her.”

“Fuck off, Seth.” Jude opened the door to the outside storage closet of the pool house. He didn’t actually have any chores to do here, but he could fake it. Anything was better than digging into his pathetic longing for that woman.

His friend laughed. “Why won’t you admit it? She’s hot and you’d like to fuck her. What’s wrong with that?”

“She’s a guest, that’s what.”

“So?”

He scowled. “She came here to buy us, to make us please her. Doesn’t that make you angry?”

“In principle, yes. In practice, no. At least, not in her case.” Seth lifted a bare shoulder. “What can I say? I’m Demon Kin. I can’t help myself.”

“I’m Demon Kin, too, and it pisses me off.”

“Yeah, but you’ve been trying not to be Demon Kin since the day you were born.”

Jude stopped. He narrowed his eyes at Seth. “Is that what you think? You think I don’t want to be Demon Kin?”

His friend instantly sobered. “No. I was just making noise, Jude. I know you better than that.”

He took Seth’s face between his hands. “I love you. I love our people.”

Seth covered Jude’s hands with his own. “I love you, too. I didn’t mean to imply anything else.”

He stared at the other man for a moment longer before lowering his head and taking Seth’s mouth. Seth grabbed him by the shoulders, opening for him, plunging his tongue deep inside of Jude. They both uttered moans of longing.

Seth’s hard cock jutted against him, a hot brand, as his fingers dug into the flesh of Jude’s shoulders. His own sex lengthened, throbbing painfully. It had been too long, way too long since they’d been together. They stumbled into the storage closet and landed on the floor in a pile of brightly colored pool floats.

He kicked the door closed. They both wore shorts, which they tore from their bodies in such a hurry that some of the stitches popped. Seth crawled over Jude’s body and took his cock in his mouth. Jude’s eyes rolled up as he groaned at the wet, delicious heat.

Seth’s erection dangled just above Jude’s lips. He clasped his firm ass in both hands and guided him downward until the head of his cock met his mouth. A drop of pre-come glistened there. He licked it off in one luxurious swipe of his tongue.

Seth quivered, moaning around Jude’s cock. Jude tilted his head, taking his friend’s shaft deep into his mouth. Sucking.

The pressure on his own cock increased spasmodically as Seth responded with almost frantic arousal, his hips bucking against Jude’s face. The scent of him overwhelmed his nose, drowning out the smell of foam and stale air that pervaded the closet.

The wet sound of mouths on hard cocks filled the cramped space. Jude shuddered, trying to hold on, to make it last, but it had been so long, too long, since anyone had cared about his pleasure. The orgasm boiled up in him with ferocious speed and he gave a hoarse shout, muffled by Seth’s cock as his balls tightened and he exploded in jet after jet of hot come.

Seth had ridden out Jude’s orgasm, swallowing down everything Jude gave him, and now it was his turn. Jude cupped his ass in both hands, letting Seth fuck his mouth in long, slow strokes. He moved one hand down to toy with Seth’s balls, rolling the tender weights beneath the loose skin and then reaching up to grasp the base of Seth’s tail and massage the muscular column of it.

Seth’s thrusts picked up speed. There were voices outside, guests or maybe other Demon Kin, he wasn’t sure. Either way, he didn’t want to be interrupted or seen. Love affairs were discouraged, and the last thing he and Seth needed right now was for their keepers to scrutinize them and their activities.

Jude took the base of Seth’s cock in his hand, rubbing firmly while he sucked and licked the head. With a strangled groan, Seth came, filling his mouth with salty hot come. Jude swallowed it down as Seth shivered above him.

They separated and came together again for a long, hard kiss.

“I am loyal to you,” Jude whispered. “Above everyone else. I love all the Demon Kin, but I love you most.”

“And I you.” Seth’s voice was fierce. “Whatever we do and wherever we go, we’ll do it together.”

***

After an afternoon snack poolside, Tate and Genevis sat together in the shade of an arbor covered in some kind of leafy green vine, watching scantily clad guests and naked Demon Kin cavorting in the water. The Demon Kin all seemed to love getting wet, including Nick, who’d tried unsuccessfully to get her into the pool.

One Demon Kin female was busy giving head to a human male, in full view of the other guests. Her horned head bobbed up and down as she pleasured him. Another Demon Kin female had her head buried between the thighs of a female guest. Genevis blushed and looked away from the blatantly erotic displays. She’d never seen other people having sex before.

All of the Demon Kin gave the impression of being happy with their lot. Yet she couldn’t help wondering if it was just an act, especially since Tate was sitting in plain view. Maybe they complained when the humans weren’t around.

Tate leaned across the table. “What do you think of our Demon Kin so far, Miss Belleren?” The smile he gave her seemed equal parts smugness and hope, with a dash of approval-seeking for good measure.

“They are quite impressive.”

She gazed around the pool area at the guests and their horned attendants. The humans lolled in apparent satisfaction or stared at the Demon Kin slaves with open lust. Some of the humans wore slave collars and chains. The real slaves performed their duties without complaint, purring and stroking—or dominating—the humans as if their only desire in life was to be of sexual service. How much of that was real and how much an act?

“You’ve had Nick for two nights now.”

She nodded. “Nick is very accomplished.”

“He is one of our most popular males. However, I think you would benefit from experiencing a wider variety, so you can understand all we have to offer.”

She raised her brows slightly. “A wider variety?”

“Yes.” Tate cleared his throat, then gave her another smile. “Perhaps a female would be something you would like to try?”

She blushed again. “I’m not attracted to other women.”

“Other males, then.”

“Okay. Yes, I could try another male.”

“I have two males I’d like to send to you. I could assign them to you as soon as this afternoon. They are at least as skilled as Nick, if not more so, and they enjoy working together to bring a guest the maximum amount of pleasure.”

She felt her face burning even more hotly than before. He was suggesting a ménage, something she’d never experienced before. She’d never even considered it, except in a few heated dreams that embarrassed her when she woke up.

“I don’t know. Two seems a bit overwhelming.”

“I assure you, these two are so good at what they do that you’ll not feel the least overwhelmed. And you don’t have to participate in anything you don’t want to do.”

He looked so enthusiastic, so eager for her to try out these two un-named males . . . had he tried them himself? She hadn’t thought to ask whether the human staff received freebies. It seemed likely, at least for the highly placed ones like Tate.

She quailed at the thought of a ménage. However, Warren had sent her here to participate fully, to experience as much as possible what the brothel and its Demon Kin slaves had to offer. She nodded and smiled at Tate.

“Yes, thank you. I’d be pleased to have these two males.”

“Excellent.” He looked like he wanted to rub his hands together in glee.

Time to change the subject. Her sex life wasn’t something she enjoyed discussing, even here where it was expected. Besides, she still had a great many questions about the nature of Quert’s operations here.

“I was wondering what became of those protesters from the other day,” she said.

Tate scowled. “They’re in the hands of the police.”

“Are you pressing charges?”

“Absolutely. And we’ve doubled our security. We’re also looking at an upgraded system of perimeter surveillance and we’re going to install electric wire at the tops of the fences.”

“I will have to report the incident to my uncle. He needs to be aware of the increased security required to house the Demon Kin.”

Tate waved his hand negligently. “This group is Earth-based and quite small. It’s our misfortune that they got their start here in southern California.”

“So you don’t think they’ll spread to other areas?”

He dropped his gaze and shifted his weight in his chair. Then he gave her a brilliant smile. “No, not at all. They have extremely limited appeal. They’re fanatic religious cultists who oppose pleasure in any form.”

“What do they call themselves?”

“Novus Vitans.”

“Hmmm. I’ve never heard of them.”

“Well, there you go.” He grinned. “They’re so obscure that they’re really no threat. No threat at all.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” She just wasn’t sure she believed it.

A human staff member came by with the drinks they’d ordered. She set the fancy glasses on the table with a flourish. Each one had a tiny paper umbrella stuck in the ice floating at the top. Genevis’s was black paper lace.

“The staff tells me the Demon Kin aren’t allowed to work with the food.”

Tate removed the red umbrella from his drink and took a sip. “Yes, we feed them a special diet, so we keep them away from the human food. It’s easier for everyone that way. Less temptation.”

“Why do they need a special diet? Can’t they digest human food?”

“Oh, they can. We simply prefer to feed them a controlled, nutritious but bland laboratory-developed concentrated food product. It helps with weight control. After all, we can’t have any fat Demon Kin, now can we?” He chuckled.

“I suppose that could affect your profits.”

Either he didn’t realize he’d obliquely insulted her or he didn’t consider her fat, which seemed unlikely. Genevis decided to overlook his gaffe. There was no sense getting her feathers ruffled by this fellow, who meant nothing to her.

“You must have a lot of rebellion on your hands with a policy like that,” she said in a carefully neutral tone.

“You’d think so, but actually the Demon Kin are pretty content with their lives. They get plenty of sex and exercise.” He smiled fatuously. “What more could they want?”

“What more, indeed.” Genevis took a long sip of her drink. It was something Earth-exotic, with coconut and rum, like an alcoholic, liquid dessert. “So if we acquire some of these people, will you provide the recipe for this food they eat?”

Tate tilted his head slightly to one side. “Actually, it’s something we manufacture at Quert. We’d be happy to supply you.”

“And the recipe—”

“Is proprietary information. I’m sure you understand.”

“I understand you’re diversifying your income streams.” Not that Quert needed more diversity—but they hadn’t become one of the most powerful companies in the galaxy by overlooking opportunities to make money.

Tate chuckled. “We do believe in taking the best care of our Demon Kin and that we’re best positioned to provide optimal nutrition for them.”

“I see. Are we required to buy your food?”

“No, not at all. It’s just highly recommended.”

Quert’s nutrition formula probably tasted like moistened cardboard. Every other such “concentrated food product” she’d ever tried certainly had. There was no way she would condemn the Demon Kin in her care to a lifetime of eating nothing but tasteless pabulum.

“Well, I’ll keep that in mind, Mr. Tate, when I make my report to my uncle.”

“May I ask which way you’re leaning?”

“I truly haven’t made up my mind.”

“Hopefully our two specialists will help you decide this afternoon.” He glanced up and grinned. “Ah, here they are.”

Genevis followed the direction of his gaze. Two Demon Kin males approached their table side by side—the blue-eyed one with the goatee and his brown-eyed friend. They wore snug, matching black shorts that barely covered their butts, and were otherwise bare. She reached up and brushed some hair from her eyes to disguise her start of dismay. Tate thought these two would convince her to buy? Was he crazy?

Chapter 3: 

At least Blue Eyes wasn’t glaring at her today. His rugged features were arranged in a perfectly blank expression. The brown-eyed man, on the other hand, looked at her with a palpable sense of anticipation, as if at any moment he would lick his chops. Genevis blushed. That made the third time she’d turned red this afternoon. Or was it the fourth?

“Miss Belleren,” Tate boomed, pointing at Blue Eyes, “this is Jude.” He indicated Brown Eyes. “And Seth. Two of our most talented males. Boys, this is Miss Genevis Belleren.”

He called them boys.

She watched to see the slaves’ reaction. Jude said nothing. He merely bowed, unsmiling, his tail motionless behind him. Seth bowed also, but his lips curved up and his eyes sparkled as he gave her a bold once-over.

“We are most impatient to serve you, Miss Belleren. We’re honored to be chosen.”

“Yes. Um—I look forward to your—um—your company.”

Seth’s smile deepened. A dimple appeared in his left cheek. Jude shifted his weight to one muscular leg, looking thoroughly bored. Her lips tightened. He couldn’t have been more clearly uninterested in her if he’d shouted it for everyone to hear. Tate’s choice made no sense.

Maybe you can get another perspective on the Demon Kin from this one. A perspective Tate and Nick would never share with you.

Now that was a thought. She stared at Jude, considering. Their eyes met and something shifted in his expression, some emotion quickly disguised so she didn’t recognize it. He stared rudely down at her, challenging her to say something. To reveal his insolence to Tate, who seemed oblivious.

Genevis smiled. “You know, Mr. Tate, I believe I’d like to start getting to know Seth and Jude immediately.”

Jude’s lips flattened into a hard line.

“If that is what you wish, we can certainly accommodate you. Perhaps with a break for dinner at seven?”

We sure wouldn’t want the Demon Kin to be exposed to our delicious human food.

She nodded. “That sounds fine.”

“In that case, I’ll let you get to it.” He took his drink and left, looking pleased with himself.

Genevis stood, her own drink cradled in her hands. She gestured toward the building. “Shall we?”

Seth’s dimple grew more pronounced. “After you, Miss Belleren.”

She put the drink down on the table and led the way to the building, the two males padding after her on bare feet. They passed a rose bed where Nick was pulling weeds. Maybe it was her imagination, but she thought he looked jealous. He looked away, concentrating on the flowers, but his tail twitched twice, violently.

She let the two males into her room and locked the door after them. Jude stood with his arms crossed in front of his chest, his back against the dark, Gothic-style wooden door. He looked like he was born angry. How was she going to get him to relax enough to talk frankly to her?

Seth came right up to her. His feet made no sound on the thick espresso-colored carpet. He lifted a lock of her hair. He smelled like warm, healthy male, musky and spicy and completely edible. Desire rose fiercely in her, making her tremble.

“Where would you like to start?” he said, in a voice like velvet.

Her palms were sweaty. He was so big, and he loomed over her. “I don’t know. I’ve never done this before.”

His brows came together. “You can’t mean you’re a virgin.”

“No, but I’ve never been with more than one man at a time.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll take good care of you, won’t we, Jude?”

Jude looked as if he could barely restrain himself from rolling his eyes. “Right.”

Seth gave him an openly irritated glance over his shoulder. Although she could only see the side of his face, he looked like he was telling his rebellious friend to behave.

Jude shoved off the wall with feline grace and came to stand next to Seth. Her body responded to his nearness with even more intensity than it had to his friend, her whole core giving a mighty, aching throb of yearning. Her pulse picked up speed and her palms grew damp with a confusing mixture of fear and desire. What the hell was wrong with her? Why did she have to want this one man so badly, when clearly he wanted nothing to do with her?

He was looking at her now as if she were the lowest form of life he could imagine.

He doesn’t have a choice. He’s a slave. Don’t let him intimidate you.

She lifted her chin. “I’d like you to start with a massage. Are you trained in the art?”

Jude let his gaze travel over her from head to toe and back again. “We are.”

Well, that hadn’t worked very well. She cast about for something a dominatrix might do to show her dominance over a slave.

Genevis lifted her chin another notch. “Before we do that, I want to examine your horns. I haven’t had the chance to touch any yet.”

“Didn’t Nick offer his?” Jude’s voice was as deep as Seth’s, but rougher.

She smiled coolly at him. “No. We were busy with other activities. Now, if you’ll kneel, that will make it easier for me to reach.”

He stared at her with gimlet eyes.

“Kneel, slave.”

A low growl rumbled in his throat, almost below the range of her hearing.

“Jude.” Seth’s voice was low, too, and tense.

Jude redirected his gaze to the floor. Then he dropped gracefully to a kneeling position, putting the top of his head even with her chest. His black tail flicked restlessly back and forth. He was proud. So much prouder than Nick, who wouldn’t have hesitated to accommodate her.

Genevis ran her fingertips over his collar. The skin beneath it looked slightly red, as if the metal irritated it. She couldn’t get her finger underneath it, either. It was firmly attached to him at the back of his neck. How did they get it to stick to him that way?

“Does this thing hurt?”

He kept his eyes downcast. “Not at the moment.”

As she pushed her fingers through his hair, her arousal hitched up at least two notches. She touched the base of one of his ebony horns. It felt slightly rough, bumpy where it met his scalp. She traced its arc outward, feeling the cool ridges under the pads of her fingers.

The horns twisted as they extended from his head, making a spiral pattern. They were bizarre, yet beautiful. She pressed her finger to the tip. Pointy, but not especially sharp.

“Would you like to touch mine?” Seth’s tone made the suggestion sound naughty.

She smiled more warmly at him. “In a little while.”

Jude made a motion as if to rise. She put her hands on his bare shoulders, trying to ignore the lust that flamed through her, and pushed downward. “Not yet.”

His nostrils flared.

“You have a terrible attitude,” Genevis said.

He bowed his head. His hands clenched into fists. “Forgive me, mistress,” he said it a flat voice. “I forgot myself.”

She glanced at Seth. He had a fixed smile on his face. Looking down at Jude, she saw his hands rhythmically clenching and un-clenching. There was something more to this than a mere dislike of a particular guest, and she sensed Jude harbored enough resentment at his position in life to more than compensate for Nick’s lackadaisical attitude.

“Maybe I should send for someone else to attend me today.”

“No.” Seth spoke quickly. “That won’t be necessary. Jude isn’t himself today. He’s been feeling ill.”

“I hope it isn’t catching.”

“Not at all,” Jude said in a raspy voice. “I shall endeavor to please you, mistress.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” She wasn’t fooled by the submission in his tone, either. He resented her; whether that resentment was indeed personal or a general mistrust of humans, she didn’t know.

Maybe he just hates being a slave.

She couldn’t blame him for that. On the other hand, she couldn’t allow him to bully her or show disrespect, or she’d never be safe with him. He couldn’t be allowed to think he could dominate her in any way.

Make him kiss you.

She’d never kissed a man who didn’t want to kiss her. The thought of it made her stomach turn over in a nauseating flip. It would be a powerful gesture, though, designed to remind him who was in charge here.

Genevis took his bearded chin in her hand and pulled upward. He submitted to her direction. She bent down. God, he had a beautiful mouth, full and sensuous yet with a sharply chiseled shape. The mouth of a sex god. The sharp lines of his carefully groomed mustache and beard only emphasized the beauty of that mouth.

She caught his upper lip in both of hers. Then his lower. He felt warm, smooth, but his lips were taut and unyielding. That wouldn’t work.

Still holding his chin, she teased him with light caresses of her mouth, sucking gently at his flesh. After a moment, his lips parted with a faint pressure against hers. He was responding to her.

Genevis took his upturned head in her hands and licked him. He opened farther for her, giving her enough space to enter his mouth with her tongue. She plunged into him, stroking him inside, her tongue sliding over his again and again.

He moaned. The sound reverberated through her, making her breath come faster. She angled her head for a better fit. He tasted sweet, male, unbearably exciting. Nick hadn’t tasted or felt half this good.

Heavy arms slid around her waist, clasping her to him. They were both breathing hard now, both sighing and moaning in the grip of the kiss that had taken them captive. His hands slipped lower to massage her ass with rhythmic squeezes. Moisture trickled down her inner thighs as her sex gave a throb of yearning in response to his touch.

She pulled away, fighting the urge to rub herself all over him and beg him for release. If anyone begged here, it would be him. He looked at her with eyes glazed and heavy-lidded with lust.

“That’s much better,” she murmured.

His expression hardened. Genevis looked up at Seth. He watched them with a wry, knowing smile. What was that all about?

“I would like to restrain him,” she said to the brown-eyed male. “Is there equipment for that here?”

The two men exchanged a glance.

The smile on Seth’s face disappeared. “Of course.” His voice was flat.

“Get it for me.”

“Yes, mistress.”

Jude once again made as if to rise. She gave his shoulder a light slap. “Stay where you are.”

He subsided with a glare.

“My, you do have an attitude. We’re going to have to do something about that.”

A part of her felt like it was floating outside the rest of her, watching incredulously. She’d never played the dominatrix in her life. She had no idea what she was doing. It just felt necessary.

Seth went to a carved wood cabinet and retrieved a set of black leather and chain wrist and ankle restraints studded with silver studs. “Is this what you had in mind?”

“Yes. Attach them to the bed frame.”

He got to work, while Jude knelt on the floor, visibly simmering. An enormous erection strained at the fabric of his shorts, the thin material clinging to every bulge and contour of his sex. Those would have to go.

“Stand up.”

He obeyed her without hesitation.

“Take off your clothes.”

His gaze flicked up to meet hers. His lips pressed together, but he unbuttoned the garment and shoved it off his hips. His stiff cock sprang out, fully engorged and eager for her body.

She licked her lips. “Very good.”

“The restraints are ready,” Seth said in a subdued tone.

“Jude, get on the bed.”

A muscle ticked in his jaw. He stalked to the bed, all predatory grace, and flopped down on his belly.

“Face up.”

Slowly he turned over, looking furious. His cock stood up straight, pointing at the ceiling, so obviously the situation aroused him despite his hatred of it. Genevis walked to the bed and took up one of the wrist restraints. She pulled his arm out to the side and buckled the band around him. Then she went to the other side and repeated the action.

During the operation, he refused to acknowledge her. He kept his eyes fixed on the ceiling, his jaw tight, his teeth clenched.

“Seth, secure his ankles.”

While the other male buckled Jude’s legs down, Genevis climbed onto the bed. She bent over his cock and gave the warm, smooth head a lick. Jude gasped, his hips bucking.

“Now I have you the way I want you,” she said.

He made a growling noise deep in his throat.

“Who is mistress here?”

He looked sideways at her and then fixed his gaze on the ceiling again.

“Hmm. This may be more challenging than I thought.” Genevis tapped her chin. “Maybe I’ll have to punish you.”

He growled like an animal. “You are.”

“What was that?”

“You are mistress here.” He bit out the words as if they pained him.

“That’s right.” She placed her hand in the center of his chest and stroked him, silky skin over hard muscle, with a light covering of crisp black curls that arrowed down to his gorgeous erection. “You have such a beautiful body. I noticed you right away.”

She had become someone else, someone she didn’t recognize. It must be this place, drawing out her kinky side.

He was like a wild animal chained to her bed. His rugged features and facial hair made him seem more aggressively masculine than the other males, and perfectly matched his dominant attitude. Nick had mentioned that they beat Jude at times, trying to force him into subservience. That was sad; yet she could completely understand their frustration with him.

Now that I’ve got him here, what do I do with him? Someone should have told her she’d need dominatrix training for this assignment.

Genevis bent over him and took his mouth again. He responded instantly, no holding back or pretending indifference. His body arched, straining against the bonds, as his tongue thrust into her mouth.

“Mmmm.” She played with his hair, kissing him with as much enthusiasm as he did her.

Seth came around behind her and stroked her back. With him petting her and Jude laid out in front of her like a feast, Genevis didn’t quite know where to begin. So she continued doing more of the same—kissing Jude and running her hands all over the warm, bare skin of his torso. He shifted restlessly under her caresses, as if trying to guide her to touch him in certain places. She was pretty sure she knew with which place he’d like her to start. Unfortunately for him, he was going to have to wait.

“I’ll bet you’d like me to suck your cock,” she whispered.

He moaned, yanking against the restraints.

“What was that?”

“Yes.” He stared at her, blue eyes fiery with need. “I want you to.”

She pouted in mock regret. “I’m sorry. I’m not ready yet.”

He growled.

For the love of God, where was all this coming from? It wasn’t normal—not for her, at least. She was having too much fun to stop, though.

Genevis slipped out of the thin knit top she wore. Jude’s eyes instantly focused on her breasts, displayed in a lacy lavender bra she’d bought just for this trip.

Long masculine fingers brushed over the clasp at her back. “May I remove your bra, mistress?” Seth said.

“You may.”

He unhooked it with expert fingers and took it off. The heavy mounds of her breasts swayed with the removal of the garment, her nipples pale pink and hard. Jude stared at them, his lips parted.

The bed dipped as Seth knelt behind her. He reached around her to cup her breasts in his hands. Genevis sighed, leaning back against his torso. She turned her head and he bent forward for a kiss.

He tasted sweet, too, and his hands felt like erotic magic on her breasts. His fingers alternately brushed and tweaked her nipples until she arched her back, pushing her ass against his pelvis and moaning.

“You are the hottest thing I’ve ever seen,” he murmured against her lips.

Jude jerked so hard against his bonds that the buckles made a rattling sound. Genevis looked at him. He was straining, his arm muscles bulging as he tried to reach her.

“What do you think? Should I go to him?” she asked Seth.

“I think he might hurt himself if you don’t put him out of his misery.”

Jude made that growling noise again.

“I couldn’t let that happen.”

Seth released her and she crawled up the bed until she knelt by Jude’s head. He’d stopped openly struggling, but his muscles trembled with tension. Genevis brushed a wayward curl from his forehead.

“Poor baby. I didn’t mean to neglect you.” She kissed him right above his thick, black eyebrows. “To be honest, I didn’t think you wanted me.”

He glared at her.

“He’s been watching you since you got here,” Seth said. “But he won’t admit it.”

“Seth—” Jude spoke from between gritted teeth.

“What?”

“I’m going to kill you when we get out of here.”

Seth laughed. “You’re not going to kill me.”

“Yes, I am. I’m going to throttle you. Then I’m going to drown you in the pool, and after that I’m going to throw you over the wall in front of an oncoming truck. Then—”

Genevis shut him up by kissing him with an open mouth. He kissed her back with so much fervor that he seemed to be making up for his inability to hold her by using his mouth instead. She moaned appreciatively and let her breasts crush against him. The curls on his chest lightly abraded her nipples. The sensation made her quiver.

She broke the kiss to lean over him so that her breasts dangled in his face. He craned his neck to capture a nipple in his mouth and suckle her. The hot, wet pressure sent arrows of delight shooting from her breast to her pussy. She cupped her breast, holding it for him.

His eyes were half-closed, his lashes a dark fan against his golden skin. He looked strangely peaceful. Genevis wasn’t peaceful at all. She quaked and groaned at the painful bliss he caused her, the aching pull of lust that demanded she take him inside of her. Even Seth’s hand on her ass couldn’t distract her from the need she felt for Jude.

He let go of her nipple. “Taste you,” he said, nuzzling the underside of one breast. “Come up on me and let me lick you.”

Even tied to the bed, this man tried to take control of the situation. She decided to let it pass and straddled his face. “Is this what you mean?”

“Yes.”

“Damn, that looks incredible,” Seth said.

Genevis stared down at Jude. “I don’t want to smother you.”

He laughed softly. “You won’t. Now hold yourself open for me and come closer.”

“You know I’m going to have to punish you later for bossing me around.”

“It’ll be worth it.” He licked her center with a quick pass of his tongue. “Hold yourself open.”

She put her hands between her legs and parted the folds of her sex to give him better access. His tongue began a thorough exploration of every surface of her pussy, with special attention paid to her clit. Seth worked his way behind her and cupped her breasts again, toying with her nipples.

Leaning back, she let Seth take her weight. Jude’s mouth was a slippery wet delight on her cunt, while Seth’s hands on her breasts and his hot, hard body against her back gave her a feeling of complete safety. These two were amazing—she should have asked for them right away.

Jude pushed his tongue inside her aching sheath. Genevis arched her back with a cry, her eyes rolling back into her head. She would have collapsed over him if it hadn’t been for Seth holding her up.

“I need you,” she moaned. “Now. I need you now.”

“Let me help.” Seth guided her backwards until she was positioned over Jude’s cock.

Jude watched what they did with fierce concentration, his lips parted and shiny with her juices. Genevis grasped his cock in her hand. It was so thick she had trouble getting her fingers all the way around it. He shuddered at her touch.

She rubbed the head against her opening. He groaned, lifting his hips.

Genevis gave him a wicked smile. “What do you say?”

“Fuck me.”

“Naughty boy. What’s the magic word?” Did the Demon Kin even have that saying?

“Fuck me. Please,” he said hoarsely.

“That’s it.” She inserted the head of his cock into her channel.

His gaze became so intense she thought she might catch fire from it. She lowered herself onto his giant cock, working him into her body inch by thick inch, her passage stretching to its limit to take him in. Now his eyes rolled up in their sockets.

“Oh, God,” he whispered.

She pushed herself down all the way, sheathing him to the hilt with a whimper. He was so big, the biggest man she’d ever had. He almost hurt, he stretched her so wide.

Seth grasped her by the waist and drew her up, forcing Jude’s cock to slip almost all the way out of her. He dropped her and she slammed back down. Jude gave a sharp cry.

“Let me set the pace,” Genevis said.

“As you wish, mistress.” Seth loosened his grip.

With her knees on either side of Jude’s waist, she began to ride him with short bounces of her legs. Their gazes met and locked. His mouth was open, as if he couldn’t get enough air.

Her movements weren’t firm enough to give her satisfaction. “Help me, Seth.”

He gave her a little assist with each bounce. The extra power shoved Jude’s cock deep within her, grinding him against her inside and out. She gave soft cries with every stroke. Jude groaned, his hips rising to meet hers at a more and more frantic pace.

His face had a look of pain, his brows drawn together, his mouth tense. Genevis worked her hips faster; with Seth’s assistance, their flesh slapped together, Jude’s balls bumping against her, his legs flexing under her as he tried to master her.

If he was this dominant still tied up, what would he be like when she loosened the restraints? The thought excited her so much it pushed her over the edge, and the orgasm that had been gathering inside her rolled over her with merciless fury. She threw back her head, hitting Seth in the chest, and screamed at the pounding waves of bliss.

An instant later, Jude stiffened beneath her, his back arching as his eyes opened wide. He made a hoarse sound, something between a roar and a groan, his hands once again clenching into fists, arms straining against his bonds. His whole body shuddered. Hot cum flooded her sheath, filling her and triggering another orgasm.

“God! Oh, God!” She didn’t even sound like herself.

Seth’s powerful arms held her through the spasms of erotic delight. She clutched him to her, riding out the tempest. He felt so strong behind her, like someone she could always rely on, someone who would always hold her when life got rough.

That’s ridiculous. You hardly know him, and he’s a slave besides.

Genevis turned her attention to Jude. He lay there looking dazed, his arms and legs at last relaxed and limp in the bonds, his breath coming in pants. She leaned forward until she could kiss him on the mouth.

“Thank you.” She followed up with another kiss, before starting to work on untying his hands.

He watched her with a puzzled expression. Had he thought she would leave him tied up indefinitely?

Seth nuzzled the back of her neck as she worked. His erection prodded her, shoving against her backside with eager insistence. She had Jude’s come trickling down her thighs; she’d just had the orgasm of a lifetime; yet the sensation of Seth rolling his hips against her ass made her sheath pulse with longing.

“Let me inside you, mistress.” He nipped her just beneath her ear, then licked the spot where his teeth had been. “Please.”

“I can untie my own feet,” Jude said.

“All right.” She lifted her hips, going down on her forearms in front.

Seth made a purring sound. His lips met her soaking wet pussy, his tongue flashing out to lap at her. Genevis jerked in surprise. The last thing she’d expected was for him to swallow another man’s come.

He rose behind her, set his cock at her entrance, and surged into her in one powerful stroke. She gave a wordless cry. He was huge, just as big as Jude, and in this position he seemed to fill her all the way to her breastbone.

“So tight,” he murmured. “Even after Jude.”

“You’re so big.”

“Mmm.” He rotated his hips, making her squirm with delight. “Sweet mistress.”

Genevis moaned. “Fuck me, Seth.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Her laugh turned to a groan as he began to work that enormous cock in and out of her sheath. Her fingers dug into the bedding at the overwhelming sensation of Seth inside her. She braced herself with her forearms, pushing back against his thrusts, crying out with each stroke.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Jude watching them, a hot look on his face. His legs were stretched out right in front of her. She moved her left hand forward far enough to grab his ankle, savoring the renewed contact. He blinked at her in apparent surprise.

Seth’s fingers gripped hard at her flanks as he shafted her with furious abandon. He panted, moaning, making guttural noises of bliss. He felt so good inside her, she never wanted him to stop.

His cock was bumping against her cervix, something that usually hurt. With Seth, it felt painfully good, sending sharp waves of ecstasy through her. They pounded together, both of them moaning continuously, nearly sobbing with the pleasure of it.

The orgasm broke over her with no warning. Blinding flashes of pleasure-pain, so fierce that she really did sob, helpless in the grip of the storm. Seth growled like some big cat, shoved his cock ruthlessly into her as far as it would go, and his come shot into her, scalding her.

Genevis shook, trembling in the aftermath of what he’d done to her. He withdrew from her body, and she almost protested at the loss. She wanted to hold him, to be held. By both of them.

But they were already leaving the bed, although Seth was still panting from his exertions. She rolled over, feeling stripped naked and empty. The loss of her clothes couldn’t compare to the loss of body contact with them. Seth stood by the side of the bed, shivering.

Jude got up and joined him. “It’s almost seven, mistress,” he said, addressing her politely for the first time.

She glanced at the clock and saw that he was right. “I’d forgotten about dinner.”

“We are required to return to the slave quarters while you eat,” Jude said.

Seth nodded in agreement. “They don’t let us stay while the humans eat.”

His face showed no sign of resentment. Even Jude had a carefully neutral expression, although she had a difficult time believing the policy didn’t offend him.

Genevis bent her head. “All right. I guess I have to go along with it, if that’s company policy. Will you both come back after dinner is over?”

Seth smiled, genuine warmth in his eyes. At least she thought it was genuine. “Of course we will, if you wish it.”

“I do.”

He gave her a short bow. “We’ll see you then.”

“Good. And thank you. Both of you.”

***

“I like her,” Seth murmured as he and Jude walked a back hallway to the slave quarters.

Jude gave his friend a skeptical glance. He was far too trusting. “She’s just like all the others.”

Seth shook his head. “I don’t think so. No-one else ever thanked us.”

The intoxicating scent of Genevis covered his face. He blocked it out of his mind. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. We have more important things to think about. We need to get into the Keeper’s computer and finish our research.”

“Have I ever told you that you have obsessive tendencies?”

He ignored Seth’s teasing. Both of them knew that matters were coming to a point where they would have to make an overt move, to reveal themselves to their Keepers. And they had to succeed, because they risked everything. Quert would not tolerate them if they tried and failed.

He wondered if they would execute the two of them or merely keep them in chains for the rest of their lives. Demon Kin were extremely valuable. They might go for the chains, so as not to lose their investment in two virile males. After all, sex slaves could still be used in that state, and some guests preferred it. But Jude did not want to live in chains, and he knew that Seth didn’t either.

They took a quick shower together, grabbed a couple of meal bars, and slunk down a deserted corridor to the Head Keeper’s quarters. She always spent her mealtimes in the staff dining room with the rest of the humans, giving them plenty of time to make use of her computer station.

They had obtained the key code for her rooms years ago, as a boyhood prank, and she’d never changed the combination. She used her console mainly as a way to exchange jokes and gossip with friends, and she’d never seemed to suspect that two of her charges were using it for their own purposes.

Seth punched in the code numbers and when the door opened, went directly to her computer. Jude stayed at the door as a look-out. His extra-sensitive Demon Kin ears would hear anyone coming down the hallway long before they came in sight. Besides, the old floor creaked, giving them a convenient early warning system.

“The agricultural ship is in port,” Seth said in a low voice. “She arrived yesterday. She’ll be here for just one more day before she flies again.”

“I’m surprised she’ll be here that long.”

Seth grunted in agreement. His fingers flew over the keys. Jude leaned against the door jamb, remembering the way Genevis Belleren’s tight little sheath had felt on his cock. With luck, she’d change her mind about having them back tonight, because any more sex like that and he might become addicted to her, arrogant human princess that she was.

“Holy fuck,” Seth muttered. “Come here and look at this.”

“What is it?”

“Just get over here.”

Chapter 4: Set In Motion

Jude left the doorway and stood next to Seth’s shoulder.

His friend tapped the screen. “Our perfect hostage.”

He leaned over, frowning in disbelief. “Miss Belleren?”

“Read her biography.”

“Then you get on the door. We don’t want to be surprised.”

Seth got out of the chair and moved to the door. Jude sat down, leaning on the worn desk top with his elbows. He raised his brows as he read the material Seth had found.

Miss Genevis Belleren was niece to Warren Belleren, the sole owner of Belle Station, one of the largest and most important privately owned space stations in the galaxy. Her uncle was the richest man in the galaxy, and each member of his family was worth millions of credits.

He’d heard of Belle Station, mainly by listening in to conversations between guests of Lucifer’s Castle. A lot of useful information could be picked up that way. But he hadn’t known about the Belleren family; neither had Seth, or he would have informed Jude of Genevis’s identity before now.

According to her biography, she was head of hospitality services on the station. The writer speculated that she was being groomed to take over as head of general operations when Warren Belleren retired, since his own children had declined to go into the family business. She was far richer and more powerful than Jude ever would have guessed.

Seth was right. She would make a perfect hostage. Not only was she rich in her own right, not only was she a possible heir to one of the galaxy’s most powerful men, but they had easy access to her. That made her the obvious choice. An opportunity like this might never come again. They had to move fast, however, because the ship would be gone by tomorrow night.

Jude felt the beginnings of an evil grin. With Genevis his hostage, he could exact payment for the way she’d humiliated and controlled him this afternoon. He would make her regret she’d ever tried to put him in his place.

He turned to his friend. “I like it.”

“Thought you would.”

“Did you get the information on the ship?”

Seth tapped the side of his head. “It’s all in there.”

He had a phenomenal memory, deliberately trained over years because the Demon Kin weren’t allowed to read and write, or even to possess paper and pens. If he and Seth were ever discovered reading, they would not only be beaten but kept in chains from that day on. And that was without an escape attempt—put the two together and their keepers might do anything to make an example of them.

Jude carefully backtracked everything they’d done, returning the computer to the state in which the Head Keeper had left it. He turned off the screen and joined Seth at the door.

“Tonight or tomorrow,” he said.

Seth put his finger over his lips. He must have heard someone coming. Jude tensed, listening, his muscles poised to run. The faint sound of footsteps treading on threadbare carpet and squeaky wooden flooring reached his ears.

They had a back way out, an escape route they’d established years ago. There was a stairwell leading to the back of the garden just a couple meters away from the Head Keeper’s door. Seth moved silently toward it while Jude eased the door of her rooms shut and hit the lock code.

The footsteps drew nearer. Seth took the handle of the stairwell door and tried to turn it. Nothing happened. The handle refused to move.

“Shit,” Seth muttered under his breath. He tried the handle again. “Someone locked it.”

The door had no key code panel. It locked with an archaic metal key, technology left over from the days when the brothel had been a landmark early twentieth century hotel. They didn’t have that key. Jude had never even seen it.

“God damn it.” Seth rattled the door. “No-one ever locks this. What the hell happened?”

“We don’t have time for that. We have to find another way out.”

“Maybe it’s not the Keeper. Could be one of the cleaning staff.”

“Come on.” Jude inclined his head toward the Keeper’s rooms.

They made it inside just before the intruder came around the corner of the hallway. Jude’s heart pounded with humiliating force. They shouldn’t have to sneak around this way, hiding like criminals in their own home.

The footsteps stopped right outside the Head Keeper’s door. Fingers made soft clicking sounds as they punched the code into the key panel. Damn. They were trapped in here, about to be discovered. He couldn’t allow that.

The two males flattened themselves against the wall on either side of the door, perfectly still except for the twitching of their tails. The door opened. The Head Keeper stepped into the room.

He was going to have to use the only tool he had left, his barely mastered psychic abilities.

Jude closed his eyes and tried to focus his thoughts, to train them on the Keeper. He quieted his breathing and felt his heartbeat slow, his muscles relax. Picturing the most peaceful scene he could imagine, he tried to push the sense of utter calm outside himself, toward the Keeper.

Her shoes made a soft scuffing noise as she turned and saw them.

Peace. Safety.

“What are you two doing here?” Her voice sounded so serene it was like she was in a trance.

“We’re not really here,” Jude said. “We’re just a funny dream you’re having.”

“Oh. All right.”

“In a few minutes, you’ll forget you saw us.”

“I’ll forget I saw you.”

“Go into the bedroom and lie down.”

The scuffing noise repeated as she moved away from them. Jude waited until he heard the bedroom door close before he opened his eyes. He and Seth looked at each other and slipped through the front door, closing it gently behind them.

They moved down the hall as quickly and quietly as they could. When they reached the slave quarters, Seth leaned in and whispered in his ear.

“That was great. Do you think you could do it again?”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure what I did.”

“We could use it on the guards.”

Jude nodded. “Is your group ready to go? We should move tonight.”

They had informed a handful of the other Demon Kin of their escape plan, and each of those people was supposed to help herd the ones who’d been kept ignorant. It had been too dangerous to tell everyone. Some of the slaves couldn’t keep a secret to save their lives, and some were loyal to their masters.

“They are.”

“Good. Round up everyone while I take care of the guards.”

Seth grabbed him by the forearm. “Be careful.”

“Of course.” Jude gave him a reassuring squeeze. “And if anyone protests, lock them in and leave without them.”

Seth gave him a curt nod. “I remember.”

They went back to their respective rooms to fetch the handful of possessions they’d planned to bring. They had shirts with clumsily sewn extra pockets—on the inside, so they wouldn’t show—and folding knives they’d pilfered from guests, plus Jude’s prized reader.

His device was old. Sometimes it malfunctioned, and the battery didn’t hold much of a charge anymore, but there was no way he would leave it behind. It contained all the books he’d stolen and read over the years.

Jude layered two pairs of shorts and two shirts. The extra clothing made him uncomfortably hot. He slipped his reader into the inner pocket of the bottom shirt and left without looking back.

They split up, Seth remaining in the slave dormitory and Jude going to the guard station. Somehow he had to confuse the guards or convince them to let the Demon Kin go. The latter option wasn’t very likely. The guards seemed to enjoy their jobs, sometimes a little too much. After all, they got free sexual services as part of their benefit package—there was no incentive for them to help the Demon Kin and every reason for them to enforce Quert’s ownership.

The guard station was housed in some of the basement offices of the old hotel. Jude took the stairs rather than the elevator, both because few people ever used the stairs and there were only two security cameras in the whole stairwell. Unfortunately, one of those cameras was at the bottom door, right where he had to exit.

With an internal shrug, he ignored it. If he could make the guards cooperate with him, the camera wouldn’t matter, and if he failed with the guards, they’d have much bigger problems on their hands than the information from a single camera. He opened the stairwell door and peered into the basement hallway. Empty, as usual.

There was a big window between the hall and the guard station. He paused in the shadowy niche of the stairwell and studied the men inside. Two were on camera surveillance, seated in front of a bank of video monitors. Another two stood in the middle of the room holding mugs, coffee judging by the smell, and laughing.

He’d been made to service three of the four men in that room, more than once. Well, no more after tonight. He’d never have to please some uncaring stranger again.

The other three night guards must have been outside or in the bathroom, because they were not visible in the office. Jude closed his eyes, the way he had in the Keeper’s rooms. He tried to locate that calm center within, so he could project it to the guards, but he couldn’t find it.

His heart was racing even faster now than it had earlier, and his cock had perversely chosen this moment to remind him of how it had felt to be buried in Genevis Belleren’s body. His erection swelled to life so fast he didn’t have time to distract himself from it. Damn it. This lust wasn’t doing him any good. He needed to focus on sending the guards to sleep, not on making them randy.

But he couldn’t get Genevis out of his head. Not the way she’d felt on his cock and not the way she’d looked being fucked from behind by his best friend. His Demon Kin sex drive was proving highly inconvenient tonight.

A moan came from behind the glass. Jude opened his eyes and gaped. The guards—all four of them—were in an erotic tangle on the central table. Two already had their clothes off and the others were rushing to follow suit.

Did I do that?

He grinned. Whether he had or not, he was sure going to take advantage of it. Their activities would buy the Demon Kin a few minutes of extra time and maybe even allow Jude to acquire some weapons.

He slunk to the door of the station. It was standing ajar. Sloppy work. He pushed it open far enough to slip through.

The guards were so entwined with each other it was hard to tell who was doing what. Their discarded uniforms lay in a heap on the floor next to the table they were using as a sex platform. He inched toward it.

Almost there. Jude crouched down and extended his arm, slowly to keep from alerting the guards. His fingertips touched the fabric of a pair of trousers. One of the guards glanced in his direction and saw him. Jude froze.

The guard opened his mouth. Jude reached into his memory for the most erotic thing he could think of. An image of him and Seth sucking each other’s cocks popped into his head, and he sent it to the guard.

The man turned to one of his companions and put his mouth over the head of the other man’s naked erection. Jude tugged the pile of clothing nearer and nearer. He began to ease his way back to the door, still dragging the uniforms.

He didn’t know what the hell he was doing with the mind control, but it seemed successful so far. He snatched up the clothing and backed out of the doorway, sorting through his booty at the same time.

Three voice links, one stun gun and two handguns. He took all of it. He didn’t know much about shooting, but guns could be used for intimidation and he was willing to kill if necessary to get free. The links would come in handy for contacting the authorities with their demands.

By now, the guards were getting serious about the sex. One was already inside his partner’s ass. Jude wondered if they would be embarrassed by their behavior when they finally got free of his influence and realized what they had done. He certainly hoped so.

He shoved the two handguns in his pockets and kept the stun gun out, then headed back up the stairs. The groups were supposed to meet near the side entrance to the compound, where the garbage was picked up. That area always stank so bad that the guards tended to avoid it.

Before he could make the rendezvous, however, he had to acquire their hostage. It was already five minutes to nine. Damn, what if she’d gotten tired of waiting for them and had requested another slave for the night? Jude rushed up the stairs.

Chapter 5: 

Genevis tried to get out of the dining room three times. She wasn’t interested in chit chat tonight. All she wanted to do was get back to Seth and Jude so they could continue what they’d been doing. There was a huge soaking tub in her bathroom and she thought they could all fit inside it.

The other guests of the brothel, however, seemed to think she had nothing better to do than make small talk with them. They were fascinated by the fact she was a Belleren and she lived full time on a space station. Had she really met Earth’s prime minister? Had she really seen an alien species? Was it true that Belle Station had its own garden, with trees and everything?

By the time she freed herself, it was already nine o’clock. She took the elevator up to her floor and hurried down the lushly carpeted hallway toward her room. If Seth and Jude came back before she did, would they wait for her or would they go back to the slave quarters until she called for them? She didn’t want to lose them to another guest.

They’ve probably already given up on me and found someone else to serve.

She let herself into her room and went into the bathroom to get freshened up, just in case they hadn’t given up on her after all. Her pussy was already tingling in anticipation of the things the two Demon Kin males would do for her. The thought of having them both all over again made her sheath clench with longing.

She ought to leave her panties off. That would make it easier for all of them. With a nervous, half-embarrassed giggle, she slipped off the panties and kicked them to the side of the floor. She squeezed some toothpaste onto her toothbrush and lifted it to her mouth. Someone knocked on her door.

Genevis put the toothbrush on the bathroom counter and hurried to answer. She peeked at the view screen. It was Jude. Thank goodness she hadn’t lost out on them. She opened the door with a smile she couldn’t suppress, her body glowing with her attraction to him.

“Hello, Jude. I’m glad to see you. Where’s Seth?”

Jude smiled. It was a reserved smile, chilly. He still hadn’t decided to like her. “He’s in the garden. We thought you might enjoy playing outside. There’s a very private gazebo that we reserved for you.”

“That sounds wonderful.” She went into the hallway and locked her door. “Lead the way.” Even if Jude disliked her, he made her feel incredible—and Seth seemed to genuinely enjoy her company.

Jude took her down a staircase at the end of the hallway. “The stairs are closer to that part of the garden.”

“I’m not used to stairs. We hardly ever use them on the station.”

“Sometimes they’re more convenient than the elevator.”

That seemed untrue, but things were probably different for people who lived on the surface of a planet. She liked to get her climbing exercise on a machine, not a real staircase. For one thing, machines weren’t dark and dank, and they didn’t stink the way these stairs did.

Jude opened the door to the garden. It was hot and dark outside, with no landscape lighting at all. The breeze wafted a horrible stench into her face.

She pinched her nose shut. “What’s that awful smell?”

He took her by the elbow. “The garbage.”

Genevis narrowed her eyes. “You want to play sex games near the garbage?” That didn’t ring true. She pulled back against the pressure of Jude’s hand. “I don’t like this.”

He merely tightened his grasp. “Come on.”

“No.” She pulled harder. “Let me go.”

The door slammed shut behind them. In the thick shadows ahead of them was a small crowd of people. All of them had horns.

Oh, God. This looks bad.

“What’s going on here?” she said as her stomach gave a sickening lurch.

“We’re leaving and you’re coming with us.” He dragged her toward the waiting Demon Kin.

“You’re doing what?” Was he talking about an uprising?

“We’re leaving.” His face looked fiercer than ever as he stared down at her. “You can come on your own feet or I can tie and gag you and carry you over my shoulder. Either one works for me.”

She opened her mouth to scream. Jude clapped his free hand over her lips and brought her hard against his body. He moved so quickly that she’d hardly seen it coming.

“No screaming, Genevis. We wouldn’t want the guards to hear, now would we?”

Yes, we would.

She writhed silently against his body, shoving back into his abdomen with her elbows in an attempt to make him let go of her. He wouldn’t. His arms, merciless and unyielding, held her as easily as if she were a baby.

“Seth, get over here. Find a way to gag her. I don’t have time to fight with her all night.”

Seth emerged from the shadows, his face all hard, grim lines. She never would have guessed he could look like that. He unfolded a small knife and stuck the blade into the fabric of her shirt. Genevis made a startled sound against Jude’s hand, her pulse zooming out of control.

The knife severed the neckline of her pull-over top. He used his hands to tear it the rest of the way, and did the same thing to her sleeves. When the garment was hanging in shreds, he pulled it from her body. Then he tore a couple of strips from it, balling one up in his hand.

Jude let go of her mouth just long enough for Seth to shove the wad of cloth into it. She gave him a pleading look, but he was impassive as he tied the second strip around her head to hold in the gag. Cold, like Jude. He seemed so impersonal, they might have never even met, let alone shared the best sex of her life. After he’d gagged her, he used another strip of her shirt to tie her wrists together in front of her.

“We need you tonight,” Jude murmured in her ear. “Do exactly as we say and you’ll be safe.”

She wanted to bite him. She wasn’t safe, would never be safe with them, most likely would never feel safe again in her life. The gag prevented her from saying any of that, and all she could do was tip her head back and glare at him.

He met her glower with another chilly smile. “Shocking, isn’t it? The slaves have wills of their own.”

“What are you going to do with her?” said a familiar voice.

Genevis swiveled her head toward the sound. Nick stood out from the rest of the Demon Kin, a troubled frown on his face.

“You never said you were going to capture anyone,” he continued.

“We need something to bargain with,” Seth said.

“I like Miss Belleren. I don’t want her to get hurt.”

“We’re not going to hurt her, Nick.” Jude’s voice sounded marginally warmer now that he wasn’t talking to her. “She’s our insurance policy.”

“What does that mean?” Nick said.

“It means they won’t shoot at us as long as we have her with us.” Seth patted the other man on the shoulder.

“I hope you’re right.”

“We don’t have time to talk. Let’s get off the grounds before someone notices we’re missing.” Jude grabbed her by the waist and hoisted her over his shoulder. Genevis let out a muffled grunt as his shoulder compressed her abdomen. Despite her discomfort, lust surged through her at the close touch of his body, the heat of him through his clothes.

“I’ve instructed them on the plan,” Seth said as they walked en masse to the gate.

“How many are there?”

“Fifty.”

Jude sighed. “That’s all?”

“It was tough even getting those. They’re scared.”

Jude’s shoulder was massive and banded with muscle, but it still bit into her belly in a most uncomfortable way. She shouldn’t have eaten quite so much at dinner. Her meal had been much lighter than usual because she’d been so eager to get back to the men, but any food in her stomach was unwelcome at the moment.

I would have locked my door and refused to answer if I’d known this was what they were planning.

Where were they taking her? What was it they were trying to accomplish? Did they really think Quert would grant them better lives and more freedom because of this stunt? They’d be more likely to clap them all in chains the moment they got the chance.

The first few Demon Kin walked through the gate. Some of them made muffled cries as they passed over the threshold between the brothel compound and the outside world. She tried to lift her head to see what was bothering them, but in the dark she couldn’t tell what it was.

“Keep moving,” Jude said.

“It hurts.” The voice was female and young. “I can’t.”

“It’ll stop as soon as you get more than a hundred meters away from the compound.” Jude sounded impatient as he walked toward her through the crowd.

“How do you know that? Maybe you’re wrong.”

“Do you want to stay here and be a whore? A little pain is a small price to pay for freedom.”

The female whimpered. “I’m not as strong as you, Jude.”

“Then let’s run that hundred meters, and the pain will be gone before you know it.” He reached for the young woman’s hand. “I’ll go across with you.”

“Okay.”

“Are you ready?”

Genevis wanted to say no, but he wasn’t talking to her. Besides, she had rags stuffed in her mouth.

“Yeah.” The Demon Kin female sounded more confident now.

“Let’s go.”

They walked through the gate together. Jude made a low grunting sound as he crossed, but he kept striding forward, the Demon Kin girl’s hand still clasped in his.

“If you want freedom, follow me,” he called over his shoulder.

The rest of the Demon Kin hurried after him.

The street outside was deserted. It didn’t smell as bad as the area around that side gate, but there was broken glass scattered across the pavement at regular intervals. The brothel’s neighborhood looked a lot seedier from this angle.

They trooped along the narrow side road at a brisk clip, past vehicles with broken-out windows and buildings with bars over every opening, Genevis bouncing painfully on Jude’s shoulder the whole way. She couldn’t even hold onto him for balance because of her bound wrists. If this continued much longer, she was going to lose her dinner.

She couldn’t see where they were going. Hanging upside down in the dark, the remains of her ruined shirt dangling in her face, made it impossible for her to get her bearings in the unfamiliar streets. All she knew was that they trotted down one side road after another until they left the streets entirely and started across a field covered in dry grass.

Had Jude meant what he said about not hurting her? If they were using her as a hostage, it wouldn’t make sense to damage her until after they’d gotten whatever it was they were demanding. But after that, her life would mean nothing to them. She’d be nothing but a burden, extra baggage they’d probably be happy to drop.

Somehow she had to convince them she was worth more alive than dead, even after they’d achieved their objective.

Jude and the others came to a halt. Genevis leaned to the side as far as she could, craning her neck to see what they were doing. All she could make out in the gloom was a wire mesh fence. Somewhere in the distance, a brilliant white light swept along the fence line and then retreated. It must be a security light of some kind.

Her head pounded with all the blood that had rushed into it from hanging upside down, each throb making her feel like her skull was going to explode. She squirmed in the hope that Jude would ask her what was wrong.

Instead he gave her a hard smack on the ass with his open palm. “Settle down.”

Genevis cried out behind the gag. She kicked her feet.

He smacked her again. “Settle down or I’ll knock you unconscious. Is that what you want?”

She quit struggling, tears in her eyes. I should have known he’d do something like this. I disliked him the instant I saw him.

Yet her body betrayed her with a flood of cream between her thighs. She wanted him like she’d never wanted anyone, even hanging upside down, humiliated and afraid.

“Wire cutters,” Jude barked.

Someone scuttled forth to obey him. The sound of sharp blades clipping through the wire was loud in the still night air. They were breaking into something. What could it be? A disturbing picture of the Demon Kin in possession of an armory brought a shudder to her.

Couldn’t be. An armory would have better security than this. I hope.

The mesh rattled and the crowd began to move forward. Jude paused at the rend in the fence, pulling the cut edges back and holding them carefully away from her as he ducked through the opening. He really must value her after all, at least as a bargaining chip.

On the other side of the fence, the Demon Kin began to trot again. They were remarkably well-behaved and cooperative, keeping together as a group with no arguing or complaining. All of them wore just shorts and tee shirts, their feet bare, yet they didn’t seem to mind running shoeless over the rough ground.

Another band of light swept toward them, grazing the edge of their group. The light swung off along the fence line, then returned to sweep them a second time.

The Demon Kin froze in place.

“Halt!” a male voice shouted. “Stay where you are.”

“What do we do?” someone whispered nearby.

Genevis craned her neck again, trying desperately to see what was going on. Not that she could do anything about it. Seth drew a dark object from the waistband of his shorts and pointed it toward the voice. Oh, God, he had a gun. This was getting ugly in a hurry.

“All of you, put your hands in the air! Do it—”

The object Seth held made a loud buzzing noise, cutting off the guard’s shout. It must be a stun gun. And Seth had shot a security guard with it. They weren’t going to get out of this adventure alive. Every one of them would be gunned down when the police got here, Genevis included.

She saw her life pass before her eyes, and there wasn’t much to it. Mostly it consisted of work.

Jude pulled some object from a pocket in his shorts.

Please, God, don’t let it be another gun.

“This is Jude,” he said. It must be a voice link. “Seth and I have a group of Demon Kin and we’re headed for the space port.”

Genevis gasped behind the gag. The space port. Dear God, that meant they were trying to get off world. With her. She wriggled, and Jude’s arm clamped down even more tightly on her legs.

Seth came up to them, crouched down and grabbed her wrists. “Don’t make any trouble or we’ll have to knock you out like Jude said. I’ll use the stun gun on you if I have to. Understand?”

She nodded.

“Good girl.”

“You won’t come after us,” Jude said into the link. “And you won’t send the police either. We have Genevis Belleren. If you so much as point a gun in our direction, she loses a body part. Any time anyone threatens us, Miss Belleren will lose another appendage.”

She whimpered. Seth squeezed her wrists in a gesture she guessed was meant to reassure. It didn’t work. She simply glared at him with as much vitriol as she could muster. He looked back at her unperturbed.

Jude ended the call and began another with the police, where he restated his possession of her and his determination to relieve her of her fingers and toes.

“We’re on our way to take possession of the freighter Evolution. There will be no defense of this ship and no pursuit or Miss Belleren will suffer.” He paused. “You will have proof as soon as we reach the ship.”

They were stealing a freighter. Why not something faster and more comfortable, like a cruise ship? They were escaping slavery—one would think they’d want to get as far away from their former masters as possible, as swiftly as possible.

Jude shoved the link back in his pocket and produced another item she couldn’t see. “Time to go.”

Seth released her wrists and stood. “The shuttle is in berth 67, right over there.”

“Let’s go.”

Jude raised his arm once more and the group started forward. They ran the last few paces of the field and began to thread their way between shuttles parked in their berths. A few moments later, they came alongside an extra-large shuttle craft, the kind used to ferry big shipments of goods to freighters in orbit.

Heavy footsteps announced the arrival of another guard.

“What are you doing?” he said in an aggressive tone. “Stop where you are.”

“Sir, we’re looking for—”

An awful sizzle went through the air, the kind of noise made by one of those new plasma guns. Genevis had heard one fired on Belle once about a year before. Nick’s carefully measured words turned into a scream. His body hit the ground with a solid thump, his voice silenced.

“Nick!” The gag in her mouth muffled her cry. She squirmed on Jude’s shoulder. He slapped her butt.

From Jude’s hand there came a loud buzz, like the one made by Seth’s stun gun. Ahead of them, another large body hit the ground with a thud. He’d shot the guard? This time, Genevis felt only savage joy. The man who’d murdered Nick was dead, or at least unconscious.

Tears wet her cheeks at the thought of sweet Nick dying out here. Why couldn’t that bastard have shot Jude instead?

“Get his hand,” Jude said.

Seth ran forward. Would he cut the hand off the guard in order to get past the shuttle’s security? She had no real idea of what Seth and Jude were capable of. They had already terrified her with their ruthlessness, shocked her with their utterly unslavelike behavior. God only knew what they’d do next.

A series of bumps, and then the shuttle doors hissed open. Another thud told her Seth had dropped the guard back to the ground. She craned her neck to see if he still had his hands. He did.

Damn. Now she didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed. Both, maybe. She was relieved that Seth wasn’t so brutal as to cut off a man’s hand, and disappointed because Nick’s murderer hadn’t suffered as much as she wanted him to.

Seth and Jude stood by while their people trooped aboard the shuttle, still orderly in spite of the horror of Nick’s death. It must be their slavery that had trained them to be so compliant. Because Nick had been so likeable; he must have had friends. People who would mourn him.

At last, Jude walked up the ramp with her still on his shoulder. The doors slid shut behind them. He stalked to the cockpit while Seth stayed in the cabin directing the other Demon Kin to their seats for the trip up to the freighter.

The cockpit was cramped, the fittings battered from what looked like decades of hard use. Jude lowered her into the co-pilot’s chair. The blood rushed from her head and she swayed as her vision went dark.

When she regained consciousness, the gag was out of her mouth and Jude was talking to someone on a video link. Genevis squinted at the screen. The woman on the other end wore a dark blue uniform and had a hard look on her face. She must be Earth police.

Jude put his arm around Genevis’s shoulders and pulled her to the side, directly in front of the screen. “Now you can see her. She is unharmed.”

“Is that true, Miss Belleren?” the officer said. “Have they hurt you?”

“No.” Her mouth was desert-dry and her voice sounded rusty. “They haven’t hurt me. But they’re desperate. They could do anything. Please just let them go.”

“We want to get you to safety.”

“If you fire on them or their ship, you’re as likely to hit me as one of them.”

The officer looked like she’d bitten into something sour. “I am aware of that.”

“All we want is peaceful passage out of the solar system. If no-one interferes with us, Miss Belleren will remain unharmed.”

The officer gave Jude an icy stare. “We will remain in contact in order to ensure Miss Belleren’s safety.”

“You do that.” Jude terminated the link.

He began untying her wrists, his dark head bent so that his horns were almost at her eye level. They had subtle striations of brown that she hadn’t noticed before. He raised his head and looked at her. “Do you know how to fly this thing?”

She gaped at him. “You mean you don’t?”

With a smirk, he pulled the binding from her wrists. “Unfortunately, Quert neglected that part of my education. They thought pussy licking and cock sucking were more useful skills.”

“I’m not helping you do this thing. You’re on your own.”

“We can start with the first joint of your little finger. You can do without it. It’ll probably hurt a lot, though, to have it cut off with a pocket knife.”

Her eyes widened a bit more. “You don’t mean that.”

Jude pulled a small, folding knife from one of his shorts pockets. “Actually, I do. Get into the pilot’s seat and get this thing in the air, or I’ll start cutting.”

“All right, all right.” She slid over to the other seat, hoping he didn’t notice the tremor in her hands. “I’m not very good, though. This might be a bumpy ride.”

He didn’t seem to care about that. He took over the co-pilot’s seat and buckled himself in. Genevis sent him a sideways glance as she fastened her own buckles. His face was even more stony than it had been the first time she’d seen him, when he’d glared at her from across the garden.

She checked all her instruments, double-checked that the doors were properly fastened, and started the engines. It had been a long time since she’d flown her own shuttle. The Belleren family normally had retainers for jobs like that, but her uncle Warren also believed that they needed practical, everyday life skills. Otherwise, he always said, they’d be at the mercy of those hired to serve them. He’d probably never imagined that someday his niece would be kidnapped and forced to use her flight skills against herself.

They lifted off. Below them, the security lights continued their sweeps as if nothing had happened. But she could see Nick’s body in a crumpled heap on the hard ground. He looked so small at this distance. Tears once again blurred her vision.

She wiped her eyes. Jude sat staring out the cockpit window, as expressionless as a statue. She wanted to clobber him, scratch the skin off his beautiful face, batter him with her fists.

“You son of a bitch. It’s your fault Nick died.”

Chapter 6: 

Jude kept his eyes forward and didn’t answer her tirade.

“Did you hear me? He wouldn’t have died if it wasn’t for you.”

His tail flicked once, hitting the side of his seat. He said nothing.

“What the hell is wrong with you? It’s like you’re made of ice. Don’t you care about anyone? Don’t you care that you killed him?”

Jude turned his head and looked at her. His eyes were shiny, the corners of his mouth dragged down with pain. “I know I did. I’ll never forget it.”

He turned away from her, resting his forehead on his fist. So he did care. That didn’t mean she had to forgive him for what he’d done. She would never forgive him.

Genevis took another look at the field before they gained so much altitude she couldn’t see it anymore. It looked as dark as when they had still been on the ground. No police vehicles that she could see.

Either she was a lot less important than she’d thought, or she was more important than she’d ever imagined. She could picture that officer talking to Uncle Warren and being hit by the blast of his personality. He would demand that they do absolutely nothing to jeopardize his niece.

Time dragged as they avoided speaking to each other. She was glad to see their escape vessel, even if it wasn’t much to look at. The Evolution was an older ship, of a freighter class that had long been out of production. It hung in orbit, its scratched and dented skin looking like a relic from the earliest days of space travel. Genevis sent a signal to the freighter’s bridge. They pinged her with a return message almost instantly.

“Evolution, this is Genevis Belleren. I am flying your shuttle at the request of a party of Demon Kin. We are ready to dock with you.”

“Go ahead, shuttle. We have been informed of your arrival by Earth police.”

“Roger that.” At least the Evolution wasn’t firing on them.

Genevis glanced at Jude. His hands were in fists on his lap. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he looked nervous. Surely a big, terrifying demon like him didn’t get nervous, though.

The doors to the Evolution’s docking bay opened and she guided the shuttle inside as vacuum warning lights flashed in yellow and red. Genevis set the shuttle down. The space doors shut.

She started closing down the systems on the shuttle. When the warning lights quit flashing, indicating that normal atmosphere and pressure had been reestablished in the bay, she opened the doors.

Jude took her by the arm and guided her to the shuttle door. A crew of eight, half men and half women, marched somberly into the docking bay. They all wore shabby uniforms of dull blue pants and tee shirts with soft-soled shoes that had once been white but which were now a dull brownish-gray from all the scuff-marks. Some of them had such big holes in their footwear that their toes showed through. The freighter’s owner must have fallen on hard times.

They showed no surprise when they saw Jude’s horns and tail, merely scowling at him as he came down the boarding ramp with Genevis in tow. When they saw her, however, jaws dropped. The whole crew gaped openly at her belly and her lacy lavender bra peeking through the shreds of her top. One man in particular, with a tall lanky build and greasy brown hair, leered at her, undisguised lust in his eyes. Genevis clutched the remains of the garment to her in an attempt to hide her naked skin.

“My name is Jude.” The Demon Kin leader gestured toward Seth, who had followed them from the shuttle. “This is my second in command, Seth. And this woman is Genevis Belleren, our hostage. Which one of you is the captain?”

A hard-faced man of around forty with chocolate-brown skin stepped forward. “I am.”

“And your name?”

“Henry Frank.”

“Captain Frank, take us out of Earth orbit immediately.”

Frank’s scowl deepened. “On what course?”

“Take us to the Gandhi Colony.”

Genevis glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. Gandhi Colony was way out on the edge of the civilized part of the galaxy. Hardly any ships ever went there. Maybe that was why he wanted it, but it didn’t seem like a good place to disappear. Everyone knew everyone on Gandhi; the residents had mostly been there for generations, ever since the colony had been established. Newcomers, especially people as striking as the Demon Kin, would be noticed.

Oh, well. It’s not my problem if they make fatal errors. As long as they’re not fatal to me.

“Seth, get everyone settled while I accompany the captain to the bridge,” Jude said.

Seth nodded and turned back to the shuttle. Jude inclined his head to the captain. Frank hesitated a moment, looking as if he’d like to jump his new commander and toss him out an airlock. She knew just how he felt. His gaze jumped to Genevis and he sighed.

“This way.” Frank turned on his heel and strode from the docking bay, followed by two of the women.

Genevis had seen worn-at-the-heels ships like this one, but she’d never had to travel in one. Normally she flew in luxurious staterooms and never went near the service areas of the ship. But she’d never been a captive before, either.

They walked down some of the narrowest corridors she’d ever seen, with stained and dusty walls that seemed to close in on them. They climbed a skinny staircase that was more like a ladder, then moved along more corridor. Everything stank of sweat, lubricating oil and engine fuel.

Another ladder-stair and they were on the bridge. It wasn’t much to look at, just instrument panels, a metal floor and three chairs for the officers. Everything here was as battered and worn as the rest of the ship, but less dusty.

The officers took their stations. Jude planted himself in the center of the tiny room, her arm still clamped in his grip.

“I take it the police already spoke to you,” he said.

Frank didn’t even turn around. “The chief told us you’re escaped slaves from Quert Industries. That’s all we know.”

“As I said, this woman is Genevis Belleren. She is our hostage. If anything goes wrong or anyone takes action against us, Miss Belleren will lose a body part.”

Now Frank turned, condemnation in his face. “That is barbaric.”

Jude shrugged. “It’s necessary.”

“And how do I know this lady is the real Genevis Belleren?”

“I assure you I am the real thing, Captain. If you have an ident-check on board, it should be easy to confirm.”

“How the hell did you end up with this bunch?”

She blushed. “I was a guest at the brothel. I was there to assess the Demon Kin’s suitability for employment on Belle Station.”

“You were there to buy slaves?” Jude laughed without humor. “That figures.”

“Slavery is barbaric, too.” Frank returned to his instruments.

“I agree,” Genevis said. “But my uncle, Warren Belleren, insisted.”

Jude’s reply was lost in the sudden rumble of the ship’s engines. The whole craft shuddered as they left orbit and headed for the edge of the solar system. It would take hours before they’d be out of reach of Earth’s security forces, and even longer before they were safe from pursuit by the navy. She just hoped her presence would be enough to stave off violent action by the authorities—at least until she’d gotten away from Jude. Once she was safe, the navy could do whatever they wanted to the Demon Kin leader.

Her fears were reactivated an hour later when they received a transmission from Pat Quert, majority shareholder for Quert Industries. A middle-aged man with a pot belly and thick gray hair, he gave her a look through the view screen that suggested she’d brought her trouble on herself.

“I take it you’ve gotten mixed up with our runaway slaves?” he said without preamble, confirming her first impression of him.

“They kidnapped me, yes.”

“Why would they choose you, Miss Belleren? Why not someone more valuable to Quert, such as Bob Tate?”

“Who could be more valuable than a potential customer?”

His lips thinned. “Yes, well—”

“I’m sure you’ve heard of my family.”

A short nod. “I’ve heard.” Of course he had—the Querts and the Bellerens were both rivals and business associates.

“My uncle is Warren Belleren himself. And I assure you he can afford to compensate you for any material loss you suffer as a result of the Demon Kin’s actions.”

“Good to know.”

“Yes. I want you to be aware that there’s no financial incentive to be hasty or take violent action against them.”

Jude gave her a sidelong glance, but said nothing.

“Except for the loss we suffer,” Quert said, puffing out his chest, “because of the theft of valuable property. And the interest coming in from the money we make by selling the Demon Kin’s services.”

“As I said, my uncle will compensate you.”

“I’m sure.”

“Please don’t push for military action.”

“Miss Belleren, are you in league with them?”

She boggled, trying to take in the accusation. “I beg your pardon?”

“You’re doing an admirable job of advocating for the Demon Kin. I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps you weren’t kidnapped at all but went with them willingly.”

Genevis drew herself up to her full height. “That is a despicable assertion. I’m trying to prevent you from antagonizing them because I would like to keep all my body parts. Surely you can understand that.”

“Your uncle has so much money, maybe he can have any fingers that the Demon Kin cut off surgically reattached. I hear they’ve made great strides in that area these past few years.”

What the—she didn’t even know how to respond to that remark. When this was over, she meant to recommend that not only should Belle Station avoid buying any Demon Kin, they should go out of their way to avoid all of Quert Industries’ products. Pat Quert would feel the pinch from that, since Belle was an important customer.

Jude stepped forward, partially shielding her from the view screen with his body. “Regardless of whether or not you trust Miss Belleren’s motives, Mr. Quert, we Demon Kin will resist any attempt to capture us. You will not have us back, even if we have to die to prevent it.”

Quert sneered. “I guess even a monkey can be trained to talk like a civilized human being.”

Captain Frank ground his teeth so hard they could hear it. He reached out and terminated the call. “Asshole.”

“Does that mean you sympathize with the Demon Kin, captain?” Genevis said.

“I’m becoming more sympathetic every minute.”

“I hope you won’t take it personally,” Jude said, “but I intend to continue overseeing you just to make sure.”

“I never take anything personally.” Frank spoke without turning around.

***

Jude felt himself swaying on his feet. He gritted his teeth and forced his body to remain upright against the exhaustion and the unremitting agony of the collar. The damned thing hadn’t shut off after a hundred meters, after all.

He had to be strong no matter how much pain he felt. For the sake of his people, he couldn’t afford to show any weakness. And he couldn’t leave the bridge until Seth got here to take over for him. The officers of the Evolution had to be watched at all times, in case any of them got a notion to overthrow the Demon Kin and retake their ship.

Genevis looked almost as tired as he felt. There were dark smudges under her eyes, and her face looked drawn and tense. Poor little princess most likely had never had anyone stand up to her before. It must have come as a shock.

Nick’s death ate at his conscience like an ulcer, with constant gnawing pain. He’d been a good man, someone with the potential to be much more than he’d been allowed at the brothel. Now all that potential was destroyed. He hadn’t deserved his death, and Genevis was right. It was Jude’s fault.

More people might die because of him before this was over. Many more. When he and Seth had been planning, they’d known some would be injured or killed, and the thought had bothered them. But they’d thought it worth the risk. Now, death was real and immediate. They’d lost a good friend.

He stuffed the pain down and refocused his attention on the ship officers. They’d been traveling for hours and should be nearing the edge of the solar system by now. At least, he thought they should. He was going by what he’d read, since he’d never even seen a real space ship before tonight. Demon Kin weren’t allowed off the brothel grounds.

That made him think of all those they’d had to leave behind. Almost all of the children had been locked in their nursery, out of Seth’s reach. It made Jude’s stomach hurt to think of those kids growing up in the brothel, the way he had. Damn it, he’d wanted something better for them.

Of course, there was no guarantee where they were going. More of their number would surely die. Maybe all of them would. Perhaps it was better that the children had stayed behind.

There was a clanging sound as someone approached the bridge from the corridor below. Jude looked down the stairs and saw Seth’s curly brown head. His friend looked up and their eyes met. Seth smiled.

“I’m here to relieve you,” he said when he arrived.

Jude nodded. “Did you get some rest?”

“A few hours.”

“And the Demon Kin?”

“They’re settled in one of the cargo bays. The freighter doesn’t have enough cabins for everyone, even if we tripled up.”

“They’re comfortable?”

Seth shrugged. “They’ll do, for a while at least. How are things up here?”

“They seem to be fine.”

“We’ve just left the solar system,” Frank said.

“Excellent,” Jude said with a nod in his direction. “I’m going below. My second will stay here in my place.”

Seth took Jude by the shoulders. “Nick’s death wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes, it was. And I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

Seth glanced at Genevis. “How is she doing?”

“She’s still alive and in one piece.” Jude tugged on her arm. “Come.”

Her lips pressed together so hard they turned white. But she came, stumbling down the stair behind him. She said nothing as they wended their way through the cramped corridors of the ship, Jude relying on the memory of the blueprints he and Seth had studied. They reached the passenger cabin he’d chosen for him and Seth. Now it would have three occupants instead of the two he’d expected.

He pressed the key code that would unlock the door. Genevis watched him with a puzzled frown. When the door opened, she touched him on the arm.

“How do you know your way around this ship so well? How do you know the combination on that lock?”

“I hacked into the ship’s onboard computer once we knew this was the vessel we wanted to take. Then we memorized the layout and codes.”

Her mouth opened, her frown deepening. “You know computers that well?”

“Seth and I have been planning this for years. Since we were boys. We had time to prepare.”

The room contained two bunks, one above the other. On the opposite wall were built-in drawers, a small video screen, and a couple of devices he didn’t recognize. Everything was the same dull tan color, and showed significant wear. It reminded him of the slave quarters at home.

Lucifer’s Castle is not home.

He turned to the small desk mounted on the wall between the bunks and the drawers. There was a box of meal bars waiting for him. He pulled out a couple, tossing one to Genevis.

“Eat.”

Genevis examined the bar. “Meel Barz!™, huh? Delightful.”

“Just eat it.”

She opened the wrapper with an expression of distaste. Then she sniffed the bar before taking a hesitant bite. After chewing for a moment, she grimaced.

“These taste as awful as I thought they would.”

“They’re all we Demon Kin have ever had.”

“I’d say I’m sorry, but right now you’re not my favorite people.”

He shrugged. “I did what was necessary.”

“Didn’t it ever occur to you to ask for help?”

Jude blinked. Was she serious? She looked serious. “Miss Belleren, we are the legal property of Quert Industries. We have no other legal status. Do you really think we could have convinced them to let us go?”

“Yes. Maybe. With the right kind of pressure, Quert could have been persuaded to grant you your freedom.”

“The right kind of pressure.”

“If your plight was made known to the people of the galaxy, protests could have been organized. Quert could be publicly embarrassed and boycotts could be used to pressure them to change their policies.”

She was insane. “That wouldn’t have worked. And even if it did, how many generations of Demon Kin would have lived and died as slaves before Quert finally capitulated?”

Her gaze dropped. “I don’t know.”

“This way, much suffering can be prevented.”

“But not mine. Not Nick’s.”

“You’ll survive.” He crumpled the wrapper from the bar and dropped it into the ship recycler. Genevis was finishing hers with an expression of disgust. Jude pointed to the bottom bunk. “Get in.”

She sat down. “Where are you going to sleep?”

“Next to you. Move over.”

“But I—”

“Don’t worry, Your Highness. I’m too tired to rape you.” He sat down on the edge of the bed, forcing her to scoot in toward the wall.

“There are two bunks. Why can’t you use the other one?”

“Because then I wouldn’t be as aware of everything you do. I can’t afford to take any chances with you.”

She gave an aggrieved sigh. “You are a pain in my ass.”

I hope to be. But even that lascivious thought couldn’t penetrate the fog of exhaustion and guilt that surrounded him. He stretched out as far as the bunk would let him and closed his eyes.

Jude fell asleep and began to dream. He was locked in a cage and humans were outside the cage poking him with sticks. They kept poking him no matter how he begged to be left alone. Then he was walking across a great red desert, nothing but dunes all the way to the horizon. No-one was with him. He’d left them behind, forgotten them until it was too late, and now he would never find them again. They could never be free, and he would always be alone.

He woke up in a sweat. Genevis lay next to him, her eyes closed, her breathing regular. His people were with him, as many as he’d been able to take. He hadn’t abandoned anyone. Except the children.

He closed his eyes again and sleep dragged him down. But even in sleep, his mind kept worrying over their problems. Where would they go? Where could they find refuge? He had planned to take them to Gandhi as a preliminary step, as a place where they could catch their breath and figure out the next move. But the thoughts he’d picked up from Genevis on the matter had given him pause.

Had he really heard those thoughts at all? Maybe he was imagining things. His psychic gifts were intermittent at best. Either way, Gandhi wasn’t a permanent destination. They needed a colony of their own. And they needed time to ponder all of these issues, without constant worry that the captain or one of his crew would betray them.

If they could just get the crew on their side, they would have true allies. But how to accomplish it? Most humans were either fascinated with the Demon Kin or repulsed. And given the nature of the crew’s first contact with his people, he could guess they were more likely to be in the latter group.

They had nothing with which to barter except their bodies. He rolled restlessly on the bunk. He’d promised his followers they would never have to prostitute themselves again—he couldn’t ask them to whore for him, no matter the motivation.

The first thing they had to do was train at least two back-ups for him and Seth, so they could monitor the captain without dropping from exhaustion. After that, they would have more time to plan and maybe to figure out some way to negotiate with the Evolution’s crew.

Genevis murmured in her sleep. She wriggled against the mattress, her round ass pressing against his groin. His cock swelled eagerly at the perceived invitation. He told it to quiet down. This wasn’t a good time to be lusting after his captive. But she wriggled again, and sighed, and his cock twitched, begging him to put it to use.

She mumbled something into the pillow. Jude leaned over her.

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “Jude. Please, Jude, yes.”

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