malefica

Malefica by Tori Minard

MALEFICA

 

Tales of the Demon Kin

Tori Minard

Writing As Tessa Tremaine

Copyright 2011 © by Tessa Tremaine

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.

Please Note: the following story excerpt, like the other first five Demon Kin stories, is a k!nky tale of d0m!nance and surr&nder. If you are under eighteen or easily offended, stop here.

 

CHAPTER ONE

The guards carried whips and force-clubs to escort Corinna through the Malefican ship. They didn’t really need them for her. Her hands were shackled behind her back and besides she was far too small and human to give them any real trouble. She was no soldier.

They’d shackled her anyway.

Her bare feet grew numb with cold, and her skin felt icy under the thin cambric chemise she wore. The Maleficans had taken her other clothes when they brought her on board three days ago.

They marched her through endless narrow corridors of gray plastic-coated metal, speaking to no-one, their forked tails swishing every so often against her legs. The light touches made her shiver in revulsion.

She kept her eyes down. If she looked only at the floor, she couldn’t see the heads of the passing crewmen, which were crowned with short, curving horns. She was on a Malefican ship full of Demon Kin, on the way to their Godforsaken planet, and the less she saw the better.

The guards stopped in front of an iris door that was somewhat larger than the others near it. One of them pressed a pad to the right of the door. It dilated open with a hiss. Beyond was the captain’s cabin, and the captain. Commander Merek.

Would he still look the same? Would he still cause her body to tingle and throb in that strange manner?  It didn’t matter. Whatever he did, her purity would remain intact.

As the guards ushered her into the room, Corinna quailed inside, but kept her face impassive. It was so large compared to her cramped cell and the narrow corridors that she felt dizzy. The ceiling soared at least nine feet above her head, and the air smelled fresh instead of reeking with stale ship odors. But the dark gray flooring and pale gray walls were just as monotonous and depressing as those in the rest of the vessel.

A tall, black-haired male with silver horns rose from his black metal desk and came toward her. He looked exactly the way she remembered him, except now instead of a dress uniform he was wearing a skintight black shipsuit that revealed every contour of his heavily muscled body, including his bulging sex. She could even see the head of his penis, clearly outlined. Corinna ducked her head again.

“Remove her shackles,” he said. His voice sounded like gravel over velvet.

One of the guards pressed the release on her cuffs and they sprang open. She let her arms fall to her sides, resisting the urge to rub her skin where the metal had touched.

“Thank you. Leave her with me and wait outside the door.”

The guards bowed and left. I mustn’t show fear. I mustn’t show fear. She made herself meet the commander’s eyes.

“Corinna Jerrix,” he said.

She refused to answer.

“You are now my personal prisoner, in effect my slave. You will serve me in any fashion I desire. You will sleep in my cabin.”

Corinna blinked. So he wasn’t sending her back to the coffin, then. She kept her gaze fixed on a point on his forehead, her hands slowly clenching at her sides. If she focused on breathing, she wasn’t quite so dizzy.

“Would you like to know what kind of service I will demand from you?”

“Not especially,” she whispered. But she could guess. At the thought, the core of her body began to feel heavy and warm.

“You are my concubine.”

Her fists tightened. “You will get no pleasure from me.”

“Oh, but I will. By the time we reach our destination, you will have experienced nearly everything that can transpire between male and female.”

He can’t change me. I remain faithful in my heart.

Corinna drew herself up to her full height and leveled an icy glare at her captor. “You are mistaken, sir. I am a widow, not a virgin. There is nothing you can do to me that hasn’t already been done.”

Merek smiled a slow, wicked smile. “I doubt that very much.”

He stalked toward her, stopping just inches from her. She had to tilt her head back in order to meet his pale eyes, a gesture which made her even more aware of her vulnerability. His black hair and brows made him look sinister, but it was the silver horns growing from his head that really unnerved her. That, and his black tail. It flicked back and forth behind him, rather like a cat’s.

Commander Merek let his gaze travel down her face and neck to linger on her breasts. They must be clearly visible through the fine cambric of her chemise. Corinna’s entire body burned in shame. No-one viewed her in that manner. Even she avoided looking at herself until she was fully dressed. She began to tremble.

His smile broadened. He reached up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear. The touch sent a shock of awareness through her. “I’ve long wanted a woman of your people for my bed. And now I have you.”

Corinna couldn’t make herself look away from his face, from the icy blue eyes fringed with dense black lashes, the straight nose, the lush mocking lips. What would those lips feel like on hers?

“My people call you demons,” she said.

He laughed softly, the sound more threatening than a shout. “I’ve heard.”

His hands went straight to the ties of her chemise and undid the bow. The sheer garment fell to the floor in a puddle around her feet. Corinna gasped, clapping her hands over her breasts and public area.

“Don’t cover yourself.” He pulled her hands away.

Merek gave the human woman a thorough perusal, enjoying her trembling. Her people had made his, a millennium ago, through genetic manipulation. And when they saw what they had created, they were horrified and called his kind Demon Kin and exiled them to a far-away star system where decent Earth people wouldn’t have to look at them.

She was beautifully made, with gold hair, luscious breasts and a tiny waist over gracefully curved hips. Her quaking made her breasts bobble subtly. Under the fear, he both smelled and sensed arousal. She didn’t know she was aroused. But she would. He grinned, showing his fangs.

“Please,” she said. “Don’t.”

“You know it would be foolish to resist me, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“Good.” He cupped one breast, gently. “Did you also know your husband was an enemy of mine? A personal enemy. He devastated my home town.” Merek rubbed his thumb lightly across her nipple, drawing a gasp from her.

“N-no,” she said.

“You were not aware?” He thumbed her nipple again. It rose to his attentions, hardening to an eager peak.

“I-I did know. We have m-met.”

“Ah. Yes. I wondered if you remembered.” Of course, he knew she remembered. Corinna Jerrix had been the one to suggest the Novus Vita forces attack his village.

She whimpered. “Please stop. Please. Do anything else to me, but not this.”

“Now why would I stop?” he said, his hand still palming her breast.

“It’s wrong. Dirty.” She pinched her eyes shut. “Shameful.”

“My foolish girl. Don’t you know you’ve just handed me a weapon to use against you?” He chuckled at her look of dismay. “But I was already aware of your people’s attitude toward sex. That, my dear, is why I chose it.”

Besides the fact he’d been dreaming of her voluptuous curves since that other time they had met. Years ago, it was, at an official court function. She’d been so cold on the surface and so hot beneath.

An old legend claimed that humans, when sexually involved with Demon Kin, were especially prone to the addiction his people called enchainment. They became addicted to their Demon Kin lovers. It would be interesting to find out if the legend was true.

Merek used his free hand to force up her chin. He bent down and took her mouth.

* * *

Corinna held perfectly still as Commander Merek’s mouth descended on hers. His hand still cupped her breast, hot and intimate. His lips claimed hers without tenderness, molding passionately to her, his tongue pushing, seeking entry. She tried not to give it to him, but the way he sucked and bit at her lips encouraged her to part them.

His tongue plunged into her, slick and wet. She moaned. Her heart banged so rapidly she felt light-headed. The commander’s hand cradled her skull, keeping her in place for further invasion. He tasted like brandy.

He plucked at her nipple. Unwanted pleasure speared her all the way to the deep core of her body, making the space between her legs pulse. Corinna whimpered against his mouth, and he plucked her again. And again, until she arched her back, straining for more.

Dear God, what kind of wanton was she?

He released her mouth and lowered his head to her breast, taking her nipple into his mouth. He sucked. Corinna gave a shocked cry. He felt so hot and wet on her flesh, the suction of his mouth almost unbearably delightful. He ravished her, and she – she liked it.

His hands roamed over her bottom, her thighs, and then between her legs. She tried to squeeze them together. But his exploring fingers delved into her curls and found the wetness of her sheath.

“Open your legs for me.”

“Do it, or I’ll tie you down.”

She whimpered again. And opened.

“That’s it, Corinna. Let me in.” He stroked the folds of her sex with surprising gentleness, parting her and teasing. “You’re wet for me. I think you want me.” There was dark satisfaction in his voice.

 

CHAPTER TWO

 One long finger slid inside her. She cried out again as he stroked deeply. It had been so long. And her husband had never made her feel this way, had never done these things to her. He’d been a decent man, an upright man. Unlike this lewd and cruel commander.

“Your body knows what it needs, even if your mind doesn’t,” Merek purred, continuing to fuck her with his finger.

She couldn’t help it, couldn’t stop herself. She moaned with each stroke, her hips rocking against his hand.

“That’s it. You’ve needed this for a long time, haven’t you?”

She must not cooperate in her own debasement. Corinna tried to pull back. His grip was too strong for her to break. He flicked his fingers deep inside her and she screamed at pleasure so intense it was almost pain.

Merek walked her backward until her thighs hit the bed. He picked her up by the waist and laid her on her back. “Spread them wide. I want to look at you.”

She thought of the guards outside, with their whips and force-clubs. She spread her legs. And felt a cool breeze on her nether lips.

Commander Merek stripped off his shipsuit, keeping his gaze on her exposed sex the whole time. The first man to ever see that part of her. Corinna squirmed in renewed shame.

His body was hard, lean and muscular, the skin golden and deeply scarred in some places. Black curls lightly furred his chest. His sex jutted eagerly from yet more black curls, looking fearsome with its engorged head and thick length. She swallowed hard, looking at it.

“Don’t hurt me,” she said. What a coward she was.

He paused, frowning. “I won’t hurt you. This isn’t about pain.”

He positioned himself over her, rubbing the tip of his sex over hers. Corinna whimpered again. Because it felt good, and that was wrong. Merek pushed his penis into her with one long stroke.

Her eyes went round as he pierced her. She yelled. It was too much, he was too big.

He groaned, flexing his hips. “Damn. You’re so deliciously tight.”

“Damn you,” she spat.

“You’re wet for me, Corinna.” He pulled out and then thrust back in. She moaned and he laughed. “That’s right. Make some noise for me.”

“I h-hate you.”

But she didn’t. He felt too good inside her. His passage in and out of her sheath rubbed on sensitive spots she hadn’t even known she possessed. And she needed more.

Corinna began to push her hips against his, the way she’d pushed against his hand. As he thrust into her, bursts of delight exploded in her. She could feel it building, rising higher in her while he pounded his hips against hers. High-pitched moans and whimpers escaped her. She sounded like an animal.

The rising pleasure came to a hard point and then crashed outward in waves that made her scream. It was so good, too good, it wasn’t right that he could make her feel something like that. She was shoving her sex against him like some kind of whore, as if she wanted him to do this to her.

The commander’s eyes glazed over. His breath came in rough pants. He groaned, moaning brokenly as his big body shuddered over hers and he spilled his hot seed inside her. Another all-encompassing wave of ecstasy took her and she clawed at the sheets, crying.

Gradually he stilled, breathing hard. She didn’t want to look at him, but as before, she couldn’t look away.

“What did you do to me?”

He smiled, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “You came.”

“What does that mean?”

“You had an orgasm. Like when I put my cum in your pussy.”

Although his crude words were unfamiliar, she knew what he meant. “That’s not possible for a woman.”

He laughed, flashing the tips of his fangs. “Yes, it is. I knew you’d be hot and wet under that cold dry surface.”

“I am not cold and dry.”

“Sweetheart, you’re an ice queen. But I’m going to change that.”

Arrogant bastard. She broke eye contact. Their bodies were still joined. He was inside her, and they were having a conversation. Where was her faithful heart now? Suddenly she wanted to crawl under the bed and hide for at least a year.

Commander Merek withdrew from her body and stood. His flaccid sex was still impressive in size – not that she’d ever really looked at a man’s sex before. She and her husband had only had marital relations in a pitch-black room with most of their clothes still in place.

Merek left her laying naked on the bed while he went into another room. He returned a minute later with a warm, damp cloth which he placed right between her legs. Corinna gasped and tried to push his hand away. He merely grabbed her wrists with one hand, continuing his ministrations with the other.

She closed her eyes before tears could escape. He touched her so gently, so carefully, that it felt like . . . it felt like nothing she’d ever experienced. No-one had ever touched her this way before.

He climbed onto the bed and stretched out next to her, turning her so her back nestled against his front. His skin was hot against hers. A heavy arm came around her to hold her there, his other arm pillowing her head.

She remembered him from before. Of course she remembered him. It had been a diplomatic event, brokered by a neutral party in an attempt to prevent war between Novus Vita and Malefica after the Maleficans spuriously claimed the Novus Vitans had attacked their people.

Their horns made the Maleficans look like real demons. They didn’t even try to hide them under hats or other headgear. They displayed their tails as if they were proud of them, with openings in the backs of their trousers to accommodate the weird appendages. It was all she could do to keep the disgust off her face.

Her husband had left her in the care of another Novus Vitan wife, who had subsequently abandoned her in order to dance. Hank didn’t approve of dancing, so Corinna simply watched. There were Demon Kin males all around her, their glances so piercing they frightened her. She could feel their hate.

And then Merek had come.

He’d been so big, yet so graceful in his black dress uniform with its silver braid. She’d clasped her hands together in front of her to control a sudden desire to touch him. He’d smiled at her, close-mouthed so his fangs didn’t show, and the warmth in his gaze had astonished her. Frightened her even more than the hate she saw in the others’ faces.

She looked up at the Malefican commander in his uniform and turned her face away. “I cannot speak with you, sir.”

“Can you not? You are alone,” he said in a silky voice.

That voice did something to her she didn’t understand. Between her legs, she began to throb.

“I’m not alone. My husband is Commander Hank Jerrix. He is here. Somewhere.”

Merek took a step closer, so close she imagined she could feel his body heat. “I know who you are.” His fingers brushed over her forearm in a suggestive caress. “You’re far too young and lovely for an old stick like him. Perhaps you would like to dance with me.”

 Oh, God, what if other people could tell how much she wanted to feel his body against hers? “Please remove your hand,” she said in a freezing tone.

Merek laughed softly. “Afraid I’ll contaminate you with my touch?”

She met his eyes. “Yes.”

Those eyes were as icy and pale as her tone. The heavy black lashes that framed them served to underscore the arctic blue of his irises. He smiled mockingly. “It seems to me you could use a little contamination. It might warm you up.”

“I’d as soon embrace a venomous snake.”

And now the snake had her in his arms, in his bed, his semen trickling from her body. His breath stirred her hair. His big, calloused hand slid over her belly, moving upward until he claimed her breast.

The door to the chamber opened and a man entered the room. Corinna gasped. She grabbed the white blanket, trying to draw it over her nakedness.

The new man was about the same height as Merek but slightly lighter in build. He wore a shipsuit, just like every other soldier on the ship, except his was dark green. His hair was auburn, his jaw square. Black horns peeked out of the loose curls on his head. He gazed at Corinna with undisguised interest.

Merek raised his head. “You’re late.”

“Sorry. I was detained.” Auburn-hair came to the bed and stared down at them, a smile playing on his beautifully shaped lips.

Late? For what? Had Merek invited a friend to play with his new toy? She looked up at Auburn-hair in horror, even as her core gave a wrenching pulse of lust.

 

CHAPTER THREE

“Is this Corinna?” the newcomer said.

“Yes.” Merek tore the blanket from her hands, exposing her. Her nipples hardened as if they felt the touch of the red-haired man’s gaze.

Auburn-hair smiled broadly. “She’s more beautiful than you described. You were holding out on me.”

“Corinna, this is my good friend, Jace. He’s going to join us.”

Oh, no. No. They weren’t going to debauch her like that. She pushed herself up on her elbow and threw her legs off the bed. Merek caught her. Corinna thrashed, arms and legs flailing, heels drumming the mattress. One of her hands connected with Merek’s arm and her nails plowed a furrow in his skin.

“Damn,” he growled.

Jace grabbed her feet. “What did you do to her?”

“Fucked her until she came.”

“You son of a bitch!” she yelled. “I’ll kill you, I swear to God!”

Jace chuckled. “You’re not in a position to kill anyone.”

“Your killing days are over, sweetheart,” Merek said, his arms clamping around her.

She subsided, panting. What in heaven’s name had come over her? It was like someone else had possessed her body. “I’m not – “ Corinna took a breath. “I didn’t mean – I’m not a killer.”

“Really? We know you were the one who created the plan to wipe out Merek’s village.” Jace smiled. “I’d call that killing.”

She stared into his blue-gray eyes. How did they know about her role in that operation? “It was war.”

“And it still is. You are a prisoner of war.” Jace gently squeezed her calves.

“I want to be treated like all the other prisoners.”

“So you’d like us to throw you in with the men?” Merek purred in her ear. “You’re our only female prisoner.”

Jace’s smile broadened. “The males would be grateful indeed for her . . . company.”

“You are despicable.”

“As you said, this is war.” Jace bent over her legs until his lips met the skin of her knees.

Corinna sucked in her breath. The two of them had her pinned down so she couldn’t move. Her bare back pressed into Merek. His penis was nestled against her bottom, and she could feel him thickening.

Jace’s lips trailed up her thighs in a meandering line of kisses. She quivered. Her core gave a powerful throb. Merek shifted so that he was behind her and she lay flat on her back.

Jace pulled her legs open, sinking into the space between them. His big hands pressed her thighs farther apart until her sex was completely open to him. Corinna whimpered, closing her eyes. If she couldn’t see him, maybe it wouldn’t feel quite so real.

“Open your eyes,” Merek ordered. “Watch what he does to you.”

“Or what?” she managed to say. “You’ll sexually degrade me?”

“I’ll spank you.”

Jace’s voice chimed in. “He likes to use a wooden paddle. With holes in it.”

Corinna opened her eyes. Jace was looking at her from just a few inches above her mound. A wave of heat and longing rushed over her, followed closely by shame.

“W-what are you going to do?”

“Don’t sound so terrified. I’m only going to lick you.” Jace winked at her.

What? No! Corinna wriggled in the grip of the two men. “Let me go, you degenerates.”

They laughed.

Jace’s head lowered. His fingers gently spread the folds of her sex, causing pleasure to flood through her embarrassment. “She’s dripping with your cum.”

“I know,” Merek said.

Jace’s tongue swept, warm and wet, along one side of her. She gave a soft cry. It was wrong. Disgusting. But why did something so wrong feel so exquisite? He licked her other side. Then he made one long stroke right up the middle of her.

“Oh, God,” she moaned.

Jace devoured her, plunging his tongue into her aching sheath, sucking on her labia, as she moaned and shook. Only his auburn head with its curled black horns was visible, since her body hid his face from view. And she didn’t want to see his head between her legs, but she couldn’t look away either. Merek would spank her.

At the thought, Corinna turned to look at him. The commander’s gaze was fixed on what Jace was doing to her, his lips slightly parted, his eyes dilated. Her movement caught his attention, and her dark eyes met his pale ones. He bent over her and kissed her with open mouth, his tongue invading and plundering.

With Merek possessing her mouth and Jace possessing her sex, Corinna could do nothing but quiver under their onslaught. She whimpered against Merek’s lips, her butt grinding against the mattress. He groaned and reached down to cup her breast.

“I’m going to come all over the sheets if I don’t get inside her,” he growled.

Jace laughed softly, levering himself over her. “My turn first.”

Merek knelt at her head, pulling her arms up and pressing them into the mattress. She didn’t even think of closing her legs. She just lay under Jace, spread as wide as she could go. A glance downward revealed that he was even bigger than Merek, but he mounted her so quickly she didn’t have time to protest.

Jace sank deep inside her.

Corinna arched, her eyes rolling back into her head. A guttural sound came from her throat.

“I think she likes you,” Merek said.

Jace moaned, rotating his hips against her pelvis. “The feeling is mutual. Mmmm. Look at me, Corinna.”

No. She couldn’t. Couldn’t look at him, not when his . . . cock was invading her so deeply, penetrating her so she couldn’t even think.

“Look at me.”

She looked.

“That’s right. I want you to see who’s fucking you.”

His gaze held her captive as he thrust into her. Corinna’s breath caught. The next stroke made her cry out.

“Tell me how good it feels,” he said hoarsely.

“It-it’s good.” God, he was worse than Merek.

“It’s good, Jace,” he said, giving her a powerful thrust.

“Oh! It’s good, Jace.” She moaned when he did it again.

“Yeah.” He set up a steady rhythm with his hips. His movements made his reddish hair fall forward over his eyes. She had a ridiculous urge to reach up and run her fingers through it, as if to pet him. But she couldn’t, because Merek still had her wrists.

“Damn, you’re sweet.” Jace groaned. “So fucking sweet.”

His cock began to strike something deep inside her that sent ecstasy through her with every push. Corinna lifted her hips to him, her legs wrapping around his waist. His tail flicked softly over her shins.

“Oh!” He pierced her completely. It felt so good, so damned good. Better than anything. She started to sob and then to wail as she tossed her head from side to side. Her hips shoved up against his, their bodies slapping against one another.

“Jace! Oh, Jace!”

He captured her mouth, ruthlessly penetrating her. Corinna tried to kiss him back, although she didn’t know how. When she slid her tongue over his, he groaned and shook. His hips pumped into her with a rush of hot liquid.

Merek released her wrists. She lifted her hands and buried her fingers in Jace’s hair as he trembled over her. It was soft. Her fingertips bumped into his horns and she jerked them away. Horns were too much for her right now. Instead, Corinna smoothed her palms down the muscular column of his back.

A tremor shook her. Jace lifted his head and placed a kiss on her lips.

“I have to get in her,” Merek said.

Grumbling, Jace withdrew and moved to the side. Merek rolled her over onto her belly, then pulled her hips upward. Corinna glanced back at him in puzzlement.

“What are you doing?” She tried to get onto her back.

“Stay like that.” He pushed her legs apart.

Oh, God. He was going to –

Merek pushed his cock into her. Like an animal. This new position made his penetration even deeper than before, and hit different pleasure spots within her. Corinna dug her fingers into the bedding with a loud cry. He immediately began to pump, holding nothing back, forcing sobs of painful ecstasy from her. His grip on her tightened to hold her in place while he rammed her.

Corinna began to weep.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she sobbed. Jace stroked her hair. Behind her, Merek groaned, his fingers digging into her hips. He was tearing her apart with pleasure she didn’t even want. And then he was coming, filling her up while she soaked the blanket in tears, her screams muffled by the bedding.

He stopped moving. His lips touched her back once, and then again. “Are you alright?” he said in a husky voice.

She couldn’t answer him.

“I think she’s just overwhelmed,” Jace said.

Merek lowered himself over her, pressing her down to the bed with his body like a blanket on top of her. He was still in her. His hands lay on either side of her head, and for some insane reason it made her feel safe. She was losing her mind. Corinna turned her face to the side, and her lips brushed his thumb.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

Merek nuzzled Corinna’s ear. She’d kissed him. Not in mindless passion, but after the act was over. He looked over her head at his friend, wondering what Jace made of it.

Jace was watching her pensively. He reached out and brushed his fingertips down her cheek with surprising tenderness. He’d always been the more flirtatious of the two of them. The charming one. Merek lifted his hand to push Jace’s away from Corinna.

Gods, what is wrong with me? I’m jealous over a slave? A prisoner of war? She means nothing to me, except a chance for revenge.

Yeah. That was bullshit. He’d been looking for her for years, even before her sick asshole of a husband was killed in battle. He dropped his hand.

Merek pulled out of her cunt. She was still crying, more quietly now, but with a trembling in her body that – against his better judgment – worried him.

“Shit. I’m going to get a towel.” He rolled off the bed and went into the bathroom.

Why should he feel sorry for her? She’d directly caused the deaths of hundreds of people, and she wasn’t a commander or military strategist. She was just Jerrix’s widow – and her people normally kept women away from any military association. Why had she gotten so actively involved with the war, and why had she targeted his home town? It was hard not to take it personally, especially since the attack had taken place just months after he’d met her.

He returned to the bedroom. Jace was propped against the headboard, with Corinna in his lap, her head resting on his shoulder. She wasn’t sobbing anymore.

Merek and Jace had shared women before. Many times. That’s why he’d thought of asking Jace in tonight. But the sight of her in his friend’s arms made him grit his teeth in annoyance.

Merek sat on the edge of the bed and handed the warm cloth to Jace. His friend murmured something to Corinna and she opened her legs for him. Just like that. Jace pressed the towel to her pussy. He glanced up at Merek and smiled.

“She’s alright. She just had an overwhelming orgasm.”

With him. Merek couldn’t help the swell of masculine pride that overcame him. He rubbed Corinna’s thigh where it lay across Jace’s lap.

This was getting complicated in a hurry. He hadn’t expected to feel such a rush of protectiveness for her, or to be jealous of Jace. Keeping her with him might not be a good idea.

I’m not giving her up. I’ve waited a long time for this.

* * *

Corinna woke up in Jace’s arms. She lay in a large, warm bed in a dimly lit room, her face pillowed on a man’s bare arm. Another big body pressed against her from the other side, a heavy leg slung over hers. There was something strangely comforting in being held between them.

If only she could have slept longer, she wouldn’t have to face this situation yet. She could go on pretending the night before had never happened. She could pretend she hadn’t broken apart, shattered into a million pieces, by what Merek and Jace had done to her.

The leaders on Novus Vita taught that sex was for procreation only, and that only men enjoyed it. And she’d always believed that. Her own marital experience had borne it out.

Last night, her captors had proven that assumption wrong. Perhaps most women could not enjoy sex, but obviously she could. What did that make her? Unnatural?

Or maybe her demonic masters had simply bespelled her, forced her to enjoy it, as part of their project of humiliation. Well, they’d succeeded. She was thoroughly humiliated.

She tilted her head and found Jace watching her. He smiled, mostly with his eyes. They looked dark blue in this light. Corinna refused to respond to that smile. He cupped her head, tipping her up a little more to accept his kiss. She didn’t fight him. What would be the point? His lips were soft on hers.

From behind her, Merek gave a soft snore.

“Good morning,” Jace said.

That was a matter of opinion. “I thought your people slept during the day.”

“Some do, some don’t. Anyway, ship time is pretty arbitrary.”

“That’s true.” As she looked at him, more memories flowed back to her. Memories of the things he’d done to her, the things he’d watched Merek do. Her face burned. She dropped her gaze, only to see his naked chest.

The flat curves of muscle were decorated with a light furring of auburn hair that arrowed down his belly to his cock. On his left shoulder, he bore a large black tattoo in an intricate, swirling design. Somehow she’d missed that during the sex. She’d probably been too distracted by his horns to notice a mere tattoo.

“Are you an officer on the ship?” That’s right, Corinna, a lady must always make polite conversation, no matter the circumstances.

“No. I’m commander of the Tenth Legion. Ground forces. We’re on our way home.”

She blinked. “We’re going to Malefica?”

“Its true name is Belleren,” Merek said from behind her, “and you’d do well to remember that.” He sat up.

“Why are you taking me there?”

Merek grinned, showing a lot of fang. “Why do you think?”

“You’re going to be our personal slave.” Jace gave her a self-satisfied smile.

“Our?” she repeated.

“Jace helps me manage the family estate. We’re partners, or we were before war broke out.”

He still had an estate after the devastating raid her husband had orchestrated? Hank had told her that he’d destroyed everything in the area, including all of Merek’s holdings. Clearly he’d withheld something from her.

“I don’t know anything about your world,” she muttered. She’d be lost there.

“You’ll learn,” Jace said. “But first, I have something for you to do.” He pulled back the covers, displaying an enormous erection. “Suck me.”

Corinna stared at his cock. She swallowed so hard it was audible. “I can’t do that.”

“Yes, you can. And you will.”

“No. It’s forbidden.”

Jace and Merek both chuckled. “We’re giving you permission,” Jace said. “Now suck.”

“I don’t know how,” she whispered.

“Start by licking the shaft,” Merek said.

Oh, God. This was quite possibly even worse than being licked by Jace. Corinna leaned over him. She lowered her face to the base of his shaft and extended her tongue, trying to suppress a grimace of distaste.

It was going to be slimy and disgusting. Filthy. Her treacherous pussy gave a warm throb as she thought of taking him in her mouth.

Her eyes closed, she touched the tip of her tongue to his cock. Her eyes popped open. It wasn’t slimy at all. It felt smooth and warm, like the rest of his skin.

He smelled musky and male, but not dirty. Corinna gave him an experimental lick. He sucked in his breath. She did it again and he moaned, so she followed up by laving the whole length of him.

“Now take the tip of it in your mouth and suck,” Merek said.

There was a glistening bead of moisture emerging from a slit in the head of Jace’s cock. That might be slimy. And she had to take it in her mouth.

I’m going to hell for this. Corinna opened her mouth wide to take Jace inside her. The moisture on him tasted salty.

He shuddered. “Use your hand on me.”

She grasped him in one hand while she licked and sucked the tip of his cock. He whispered encouragement to her, stroking her hair while she worked. Her jaws began to ache from the thickness of him in her mouth.

“Harder, Corinna.” Jace covered her working hand in his and squeezed. “Faster.”

As she obliged him, Merek pushed her thighs open, urging her hips higher. His mouth met her sex – wet delight — and she squeaked around Jace’s cock. Merek gave her a leisurely licking, the pleasure distracting her momentarily from what she was doing to Jace. But the redhead bucked under her mouth, drawing her back to him.

With a hoarse groan, he arched his back, his hand tightening in her hair. His cock gave a twitch. It pulsed, and warm salty liquid filled her mouth as Jace moaned. Corinna swallowed. His semen rolled down her throat.

Merek turned her. He lay on his back, his cock jutting toward the ceiling. Did he want her to suck him, too?

CHAPTER FIVE

“Mount me,” he said, pulling her on top of him. He guided his cock to her opening.

Did she have a choice? What would they do to her if she refused? Probably just tie her down and do whatever they wanted.

Corinna lowered herself onto him, working her sex over his cock. She was tight, unprepared, and it was difficult. But then she looked down at Merek and saw him close his eyes, his head falling back against the pillow as her snug sheath encompassed him. The sight of him responding to her that way drew a surge of moisture from her.

He lifted her and set her down on his cock. He did it again and she gave a sharp cry. His eyes were fixed on her, heavy-lidded and dark with lust. Corinna flexed her hips, moaning. She couldn’t seem to stop herself. Whatever her mind told her, the hunger in her body drove her to rock against him, seeking the release she knew he could give her.

“Corinna,” he growled, pumping his hips. And then he began to fuck her in earnest.

His big hands kept her steady for his rapid thrusts. She tilted her head, her eyes unfocused, all her being consumed by the sensation of him inside her. Oh, God. Oh, God, she couldn’t bear it and yet she couldn’t stop. Mewling sounds came out of her throat, sounds she hardly recognized as hers.

Warm hands closed on her breasts from behind. Jace pinched and rolled her nipples while Merek continued to fuck her. She cried out. Corinna’s head now rested on Jace’s chest, bumping against his muscles in a carnal rhythm as vicious pleasure coiled in her belly. He pinched harder, and shockwaves of orgasm crashed over her.

She screamed. Her nails dug into Merek’s hard thighs.

Merek groaned. He gave a hoarse shout, bucking underneath her. Jace took her mouth in a full-penetration kiss as Merek filled her once again with his semen. Corinna whimpered under Jace’s lips and tongue. His arm came around her belly, his fingers splayed across her navel. A second orgasm rolled through her.

Jace continued to hold her as Merek shuddered through his release. Then he let her go and she collapsed onto Merek’s body. His arms came around her, holding her to him. She let her head fall onto his chest. He smelled of the spicy musk of sex, and that pleased her.

And then the shame descended on her. None of her ideals were any good when she was with these two. They corrupted her, made her into something wanton and disgusting. Her eyes began to sting with unshed tears.

The bed jiggled as Jace arose. She watched through lowered lashes while he crossed the cabin to the place he’d dropped his shipsuit.

“I’m afraid I must leave you,” he said as he slipped into the outfit. “I have work to do.”

“Will we see you this evening?” Merek absently stroked her hair as he spoke.

“Certainly. Until then.” Jace bowed and left, his reddish tail flicking restlessly behind him.

Merek sighed when the door closed. “I wish I could spend all day with you, little slave. But I, too, have work.”

Corinna tried to hold very still against Merek’s body. If she moved, he might interpret that as desire on her part, and she didn’t want him to know. He must never know how much she desired him.

She was sore between her legs. Yet when he tipped up her chin and kissed her with open mouth, her core pulsed in eagerness to get him inside her again. She was that depraved.

“This is disgusting,” Hank said, swiping a rough finger through her wetness. “Clean yourself. I expect you to be modest when I visit you.”

Corinna shut her eyes, trying to banish the memory, but it only seemed to gain power behind her closed lids. Fingers slid through her hair, then trailed down her neck to her shoulder. Lips followed, making a gentle path along her skin.

“We must clean up,” he murmured. “I have to be on the bridge in an hour.”

She opened her eyes again, and saw Merek above her. Not Hank.

“I’m taking you to breakfast with me,” he said.

“In – in public? But I have no clothes.”

“As a slave, you don’t need clothes.”

She went cold, and Merek chuckled. “I’m only teasing. I have a shipsuit for you.”

That wasn’t much better than going naked, but she’d take whatever she could get. He climbed off the bed and held out a hand to her. Reluctantly, Corinna took it.

Merek’s hand felt just the same as a human male’s would. But he wasn’t human. She threw a surreptitious glance toward his backside as they walked together to the bathroom. Besides being round and firm with muscle, Merek’s ass featured the Malefican tail.

His had just a dusting of fine black hair at its root, but the fur thickened along its length and ended with a soft ebony tuft on the forked tip. Right now it swung lazily back and forth, as if in contentment.

What would happen if she yanked on it?

Corinna bit her lip an unexpected smile from breaking out. She would certainly pay a price if she provoked him that way. Everyone knew the Demon Kin hated having their tails pulled.

The bathroom was all white and completely waterproof. Merek made her wait while he adjusted the water temperature. Then he pulled her under the spray with him. He filled his palm with liquid soap from a dispenser on the wall. The soap smelled like some kind of exotic spice. Merek rubbed his hands together, and laid them over her breasts. Corinna tried to back away and only succeeded in hitting the opposite wall of the room.

“What are you doing?”

He grinned. “Washing you.”

“That isn’t necessary.”

His hands slid over her skin, tracing the undersides of her breasts. “I say it is.”

Corinna resisted arching into his touch. He mustn’t know. Those roving hands explored every inch of her body, from armpits to ankles, finally delving into her most private region. What had he called it? Her pussy. She flinched, trying once again to evade him.

Merek’s arm came around her to keep her still. “You need to be touched.”

“No. I don’t.”

“You’re starved for it, Corinna.” Long fingers slipped between her folds.

“No,” she whispered.

“Just let yourself feel.”

There was nowhere to go, no escape, and what he did to her felt so good that she let some of the tension out of her body. She allowed her head to rest against the broad expanse of his chest.

“That’s right. Let yourself go for now.” His fingers continued their gentle exploration. “So lovely.”

He traced every contour of her nether lips. A soft moan escaped her. Merek pushed her thighs apart and held her open for the water to rinse.

“Yes.” His lips pressed warm against her neck. “Let me take care of you.”

“I don’t want you to take care of me.”

“It’s your turn to do the washing anyway,” Merek said. He laughed when she glared at him. “Get some soap on your hands.”

“Merek – “

“You know I’m going to win, so you might as well cooperate.” He was grinning widely enough to show his fangs.

Corinna sighed. “Fine.”

With soap on her hands, she placed them as high on his shoulders as she could reach. His skin felt warm and slippery. She skimmed her palms out to the points of his shoulders.

“You’re barely touching me,” he said. “Use a little pressure.”

But then she’d be able to feel him. More.

Merek laid a hand over one of hers and pressed down slightly. “Like that.”

Corinna put a bit more force in her movements. “Is that better?”

“Perfect. Now come down a little.” He pointed beneath his arms. “Good. Now here.” His belly.

She rubbed her fingers across his taut midriff. He felt almost as rock-hard on his belly as he did on his biceps. There was pleasure in touching him. It was like petting a cat, only better. A lot more exciting. Her core grew wet and warm for him as she ran her palm over the satiny skin.

“A little lower,” he murmured.

She swallowed. If she went any lower she’d be touching his cock, which was already half-erect. Her movements stilled.

Merek took her hand and held it under the soap dispenser. He pumped some soap into her palm. Corinna licked her lips.

He guided her hand to his sex. The skin there was slightly loose, but when she touched it the whole organ swelled until it was rigid and eager. She closed her fist around it, or at least as far as her fingers would go. Merek drew a ragged breath.

“That’s right. Now down here.” He moved her hand down to the twin weights that hung beneath.

They were so strange, both soft and firm at the same time. She soaped them thoroughly and then returned to his cock. Merek caught her hand.

“Not now, sweetheart. We don’t have time.”

Corinna shrank inside. She’d been about to show him just how much she wanted him, even though she knew she couldn’t. She knew it was wrong. Yet how she yearned for him to take her again, even here in the hard-walled shower.

Merek dropped a kiss on her nose. “Later. Let’s get dressed.”

I am not faithful. I’m a Jezebel. Another voice whispered in her mind, “And we know what to do with Jezebels, don’t we?”

CHAPTER SIX

The shipsuit didn’t fit her very well. It was too loose, which was really a good thing since a perfectly fitted suit would have showed everything about her including the folds of her sex. Corinna rolled up the legs so they didn’t sag at the tops of her feet, and the sleeves to keep them from covering her hands.

When she turned, she found that Merek had produced a bright pink collar with a row of sparkling white gemstones, and a pink leash to match. Her eyes widened as she looked at the set. She raised her gaze to his face.

“I’m going to put these on you,” he said.

“No. I’m not your dog.”

“Of course you’re not. You’re my slave.”

“Did you buy those for me? Where did you get them?” How long had he owned them?

He came toward her with the collar. Corinna backed up. Her thighs hit the side of the bed.

“I’ve had them for years. Now hold still.”

“Please don’t put that on me.”

His face was impassive. “Hold up your hair for me.”

She pressed her lips together. He could hold her down and force the collar on her, and then where would she be? Corinna lifted her hair.

“Good girl.” He put the collar on her neck and buckled it.

“I hate you.”

“You’ll get used to wearing the collar and you won’t even notice it.”

“I hate you.”

He laughed softly as he attached the leash. “Tell me that again when I’m licking your pussy.”

Her core clenched in anticipation. “You are vile.”

“Come along,” Merek said, tugging on the leash. “It’s time for breakfast.”

The shipsuit and the soft shoes he’d given her were surprisingly warm in the chilly confines of the ship. Merek led her to a small dining chamber, floored in dark gray and with pale gray walls just like the ones in his cabin. Other Maleficans were already seated at various small white tables. All were males.

They looked at her with contempt in their faces. Here, she wasn’t the respected widow of a war hero. On this ship, she was the enemy and she wore a collar. It was a new kind of shame.

Merek led her to an empty table, where they sat down to white china plates of eggs and bacon. Her plate had several juicy orange wedges in addition to the protein.

Corinna stared at the food. Until now they’d fed her only energy bars and plain water.

“What is it?” Merek said.

“Am I getting this food because I’m your whore?”

“You’re getting it because I want to take good care of you.”

She put a bite of eggs in her mouth. She didn’t deserve this. What about all the other prisoners, the men, who were stuffed into communal cells and fed nutritious sawdust? They needed real food too.

“The other prisoners –“

“As soon as we land, they’ll get better rations and better overall treatment.” Merek took her hand. “We don’t abuse our prisoners.”

She bent her head. “Yes, you do. That coffin your guards put me in was . . . horrible.”

He gave her a little squeeze. “I’m sorry, Corinna. I didn’t know you were there until shortly before I had you removed. They put you in a coffin because it was the only place we had that was separate from the men.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t because I’m Jerrix’s widow?”

“Well. There may have been some of that, too.” He squeezed her hand again. “Your husband was extremely unpopular with Bellerenics.”

“Your people will take out their resentment on me.”

“I doubt it. After all, we won.”

Yes, they certainly had. The Maleficans were currently running all over Novus Vita, doing God-knew-what, reorganizing the planetary government to their own satisfaction and trying to undermine Novus Vitan religion. Damn them to hell.

“We’ll arrive at Belleren tomorrow. You and I will disembark in the morning.”

Her breath caught. “We will?”

“Don’t worry. You have a whole day to get used to the idea. Now it’s time for me to take you back to my cabin.”

She kept her gaze trained on the floor as they both stood. The pink leash swagged between his hand and the collar on her neck. He walked toward the door, giving the leash a gentle tug that was undoubtedly meant to remind her who was in control.

Although she continued to stare at the floor as they moved through the corridors, in her peripheral vision she saw smiles cross the faces of some of the crewmen they passed. Her body burned hotter than it had when Merek had first stripped her. She felt as naked with the collar on as she would have if she’d been without the shipsuit.

When they returned to the room, Merek removed the collar and leash. “You won’t need these in here.”

Corinna said nothing as he lifted her chin and kissed her.

“There are books in my reader. You may look at any of them. I’ll send someone with meals as well.”

How should she respond to that? Should she say, “Yes, Master?” The words stuck in her throat.

He smiled, his pale eyes sparkling with humor. “You don’t have to say it. I am pleased you’re thinking it, though.”

Her face flamed. “I loathe you.”

Merek laughed. “And yet, somehow, I managed to make you come twice.”

“Apparently the two are unrelated.”

“Are they? Perhaps they are.” He brushed his finger over the tip of her nose in a parody of affection. “Eventually, you’ll come to love me.”

“I could never love one of your kind.”

Merek lost his smile. “Then you’ll have a very lonely life.”

He pressed the control on the door. “I’ll see you when my shift is done. Try not to enrage the food servers.”

Corinna turned her back on him. She listened to the soft pad of his feet as he left the cabin. If she turned around, she would see his tail with its silky black hair. She hated that tail.

The Demon Kin were grotesque. Her experience with Merek and Jace had only confirmed all her beliefs about them. They might have attractive faces, if one could ignore the horns, but – well – one couldn’t ignore the horns. Could one? And the tails were possibly even worse.

She stripped off the shipsuit and put on her chemise. It was thin and revealing, but at least it belonged to her.

You’ll have a very lonely life.

What did he mean by that? Did her truly expect her to love him after what he’d done to her? He must be mad.

He isn’t human. Maybe on Malefica – I mean, Belleren — women fall in love with their abductors.

Corinna paced restlessly across the cabin. She was locked in here with nothing to do but read. However, it was a vast improvement over the coffin-like cell she’d occupied before. And that was undoubtedly what Merek was counting on to change her attitude toward him. He thought she’d be so grateful to be removed from her cell that she’d be thrilled to be his concubine.

He’d better prepare for disappointment.

She didn’t even want to read his books. Instead, she just paced back and forth across the room. At least she was getting a little exercise, and after three days in the coffin, she needed it.

No amount of exercise could distract her from the mounting desire in her body, however. She wanted Merek and Jace with a ferocity she didn’t understand. Why? She’d gone all her life without caring for sex, and now she was craving it. Why?

Hours later the door hissed open without warning to reveal a blond Bellerenic male in a black shipsuit like Merek’s, except with different markings. He carried a silvery tray with a covered plate. Behind him stood two guards armed with whips and force-clubs.

The blond entered the cabin and set the tray on Merek’s table. Without a glance at her, he turned and left. He had white horns and a blond tail.

Corinna lifted the cover on the plate. Some kind of red meat, roasted but still quite red in the center. There were real Earth potatoes on the side, plus some kind of green leafy stuff and a slice of fragrant bread. Did the Demon Kin eat the same food as humans? Her stomach growled ravenously.

She sat down and ate the food. Pride couldn’t keep her from filling her stomach, not when she’d been deprived of anything but water and ration bars for three days. Except, of course, she had eaten the delicious breakfast Merek had offered her.

The shame returned in full force. Whatever they gave her, she took with alacrity. She clearly had no pride, no dignity, no spine.

A voice whispered inside her mind. “You have been soiled. You should do the honorable thing and end your miserable life.”

Corinna blinked. She frowned. Where had that come from? Her religion forbade suicide, and she’d never even considered it until now. Not even when Hank . . . .

She covered the scraps of her lunch and resumed pacing. Somehow she had to find a way out of this imprisonment. The government of Novus Vita would surely launch an investigation into her disappearance. After all, she was the widow of an important and highly respected Naval Commander.

But what would they do when they found out what Merek had made of her? They might not want her back.

Even if they took me back, life wouldn’t be the same. Society would shun her as a fallen woman. Parents would forbid their children to speak to her. Even her own family would hesitate to be seen with her, lest they too should be marked with her shame.

“Suicide is the only answer for you”, whispered the voice. It sounded like her own.

Corinna went to Merek’s small desk and picked up his reader. It was a standard Galactic type, similar to the one she’d had at home. She turned it on. Maybe if she read something, the voice would shut up and leave her alone.

His list of volumes was mostly in Bellerenic script, which she couldn’t read. Of the ones in Galactic Standard, the bulk seemed to be erotica. It figured. The obscene cover illustrations, in full color, sent spasms of longing through her.

Corinna scrolled through the contents, looking for something that wasn’t sexual or related to ships and his command. There was one book entitled A Concise History of Belleren, which might be safe. She opened that one.

“More capitulation on your part? You ought to be ashamed.”

Corinna ignored the voice. But as she tried to read the text, all she could register was the whisper of suicide, over and over. “Wipe out your shame. Cleanse yourself.” The more she tried to ignore it, the louder it got.

She had the peculiar urge to cut herself. There was so much pressure inside her. When she closed her eyes she saw herself slicing her wrists, and when the blood began to flow from the wound, the inner pressure and guilt flowed away with it.

This was madness. Suicide only brought greater shame, not release.

Yet an hour later, she found herself in the bathroom, holding one of Merek’s knives in her hand, stroking the shiny blade with the tip of her forefinger. She couldn’t remember picking it up, or even where she’d found it. The voice was purring now.

“Yes, that’s right. It will only take a moment and your pain will be over.”

Corinna set the blade to her forearm.

CHAPTER SEVEN

On the bridge, Merek’s head came up. Corinna was in trouble. He’d been doing his best to put her out of his mind, which was difficult on such a routine day. Thoughts of her had intruded at odd moments all during the first half of his shift. But this was different. This felt urgent.

He turned the bridge over to his second in command, taking the long passage to his cabin at a near-run. Crewmen turned their heads in astonishment as he passed. The commander didn’t show emotion very often.

Two guards were still stationed outside his door, looking stoically bored.

“Have there been any disturbances?” he said.

“No, sir.” The guards shook their heads in unison.

“You haven’t sensed anything?”

They gave him an odd look. “Our orders didn’t include psychic monitoring.”

“Never mind.” Merek pressed his hand against the lock.

The door hissed open. He went inside. “Corinna?”

She wasn’t in the front room, and there was a strange metallic odor in the air. Blood. Merek charged into the bathroom and stopped cold.

“Gods,” he whispered. She lay on the floor in a pool of gore, her white chemise drenched in red.

He hit his wrist-com. “Get medics up here at once. I’ve got a suicide attempt.”

At least, he hoped it was only an attempt. There were savage wounds on her forearms, long slashes that she’d clearly meant to be permanent. Merek grasped one arm in each of his hands, pressing as hard as he could against the wounds to stop the flow of blood.

He sent his mind into her flesh, forcing the blood to coagulate and the slashed ends of her arteries to close. What had possessed her to do something like this? From what he’d read about Novus Vita, her religion forbade suicide. It was a crime against their God, or something like that. And Corinna struck him as a pious woman.

He’d taken her to punish her for what she’d done to his people. And because he wanted her. But he’d never meant for her to die, and now that he’d tasted her the thought of losing her this way caused a suspicious pain in his heart.

Sexual involvement causes attachments to form. You brought this on yourself. Fool that he was, his attention had all been on her side of the enchainment. He’d forgotten about his own addiction.

“Hold on, Corinna,” he murmured. “We’re going to save you.”

The door of his suite opened. Two medics in blue shipsuits charged through, carrying a box of medical equipment and a float gurney. They crowded into the bathroom, leaving the gurney in the front room.

“You’ll have to stand back, sir,” one of them said.

Merek reluctantly let go of Corinna’s arms.

“Good work at stopping the blood flow,” the medic continued as he took Corinna’s pulse. “She’s weak but still alive.”

They bandaged her arms efficiently. Then they cut the chemise off and picked her up. Her head lolled to one side, unsupported, blood-streaked hair dangling. Her arms hung limply as they carried her from the room. This is my fault. If I hadn’t taken her, she’d never have been driven to cut herself.

The medics loaded her onto the float gurney. Merek took a step to follow them. One of the medics glanced back over his shoulder and shook his head.

“With all due respect, sir, you should get cleaned up before you come down to sick bay.”

Merek looked down at himself. He was covered in her blood. He’d knelt in it, and it had completely soaked his pants legs, which stuck wetly to his calves. His arms were bloody to the elbows. He hadn’t even noticed.

“Right. I’ll be there as soon as possible,” he said.

He used towels to mop up the blood on the floor. So much blood. She’d been within seconds of completely bleeding out by the time he’d gotten to her. The smell of it was overwhelming in the small space.

He couldn’t get all the gore off the white flooring. A cleaning crew would have to remove the rest of it.

Merek stripped off his shipsuit and got in the shower. Corinna required better supervision. He wouldn’t leave her alone until he was sure her mental state was healthy and stable, even if it meant she had to come on the bridge with him. She wasn’t going to get the chance to harm herself again.

He donned a fresh uniform and headed for sick bay. On the way, he called Jace and let him know what had happened.

Corinna had been so responsive, so passionate, that he’d been foolish enough to think she would soon be resigned to her situation. That maybe she even enjoyed it. Obviously he’d been wrong. Her lifelong conditioning wasn’t going to disappear just because she had a few orgasms.

Jace met him in sick bay, where they watched behind a window as the doctor repaired the injuries to Corinna’s tendons, stitched up her wounds and inserted a drip with artificial blood and another of glucose. Then she and her nurse lifted the little human onto a rolling bed.

The nurse rolled her into the recovery area. Merek and Jace followed, standing silently next to the bed as the nurse finished settling her. The nurse drew a blue curtain around Corinna’s bed space, closing the three of them in together.

Jace’s face was as pale and drawn as Merek felt. “This is our fault,” he said in a scratchy voice.

“Yeah.” Merek rubbed his temples.

“I never thought she’d do something like this.” Jace raked his fingers through his hair. “She seemed to like being with us.”

“Her mind and her body are at war.”

“But to commit suicide – it’s against everything her religion teaches.”

Merek glanced at him. “You know that for a fact?”

“Yeah. I’ve made a study of it.”

He raised his eyebrows. “What prompted you to do that?”

“Know thy enemy. The point is we need to have a serious talk with her when she wakes up. I want to know what was going on in her mind when she did this.”

“I was thinking the same thing. We need to keep a guard in the room with her at all times.” And I want to be that guard.

“I can spell you if you need to be on the bridge. I’ve taken care of most of my duties already.” Jace stared at Corinna with a worried frown. “It’s all routine until we land.”

“Alright. I’ll leave her with you.”

He suppressed the urge to go to her bed and kiss her. Yes, he was worried about her, but she was still only a slave. Merek turned his back on her. Ah, hell. He spun on his heel and stalked to the bed.