The Devil You Know

The Devil You Know: Tales Of The Demon Kin, Book 3

The Devil You Know

Tori Minard

Writing As Tessa Tremaine

Copyright by Tessa Tremaine 2011

Cover by Tori Minard with photo by © Rebecca Abell

Enchanted Lyre Books

This story is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents are invented by the author or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental. All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author.

Please Note: this story is a k!nky tale of d0minance and surrender. If you are under eighteen or easily offended, please stop here.

Chapter 1

She wasn’t supposed to be here. Anne’s parents had strict rules about how close she was allowed to get to the Malefican embassy next door, and inches away from the boundary was way past the limit. She was fifteen, and they still treated her as a child.

The sun beat down on her dark head, making her perspire as she walked along the gravel path at the edge of the garden. The gravel crunched underfoot, making her wince and hope that no-one from her house could hear it. Heat radiated off the stone border wall. It was really too hot to be outdoors, especially for a girl. Novus Vitan girls always wore long skirts and long sleeves, no matter the weather, making it necessary for them to spend most of the summer in the shade.

A splash came from the other side of the wall. Was it him? She’d seen him swimming in the Malefican Embassy pool every day this summer. Last summer, too. Sometimes she watched him from behind the curtains of her bedroom window, or through a knot hole in the wooden gate that led between her parents’ property and the embassy grounds.

She could watch him now.

Anne went to the gate, her heart beginning to skip. It was standing ajar, the open space showing a thin wedge of shrubs and a corner of the stone pool coping. Normally the gate was locked from the other side.

She touched the green-painted wood. No-one would notice if she opened it just a little wider, would they?

Carefully she pulled the gate open another handspan. She peeked around the edge, but the thick stone wall and the gate itself blocked her view of most of the pool. And she wanted to see. She wanted to see him.

Anne slipped through the gate.

Sunlight glittered on the blue pool water, nearly blinding her. She squinted into the glare. The pool was closer to the wall and the gate than she’d realized.

“Hello.” The voice was deep, masculine, the voice of a young man, not a boy.

Using her hand to shield her eyes from the sun, Anne looked toward the voice. It was him. He supported himself on his hands at the pool edge, his long, muscular legs dangling beneath the surface of the water. Water glistened on the golden tan of his bare skin.

Oh, my.

That was a lot of bare male skin. She may have watched him through a knot hole, but this was different. This was up close.

His blond hair was dark with water, slicked back from his forehead. Two cinnamon-colored horns curved up from his skull, and his reddish-gold Demon Kin tail floated out behind him. A dusting of darker cinnamon hair covered his well-developed chest. Anne tried not to gape, and failed.

His smile widened, showing gleaming white fangs. “You must be Miss Anne. You live next door, right?”

She nodded wordlessly.

“I’m Damien.”

“H-hello.” Her throat had gone so dry it was difficult to get out even one word.

“Would you like to take a swim?”

“Oh, no. No, I couldn’t.” Girls didn’t swim. At least not on Novus Vita. Did Demon Kin girls swim? Did they do it naked, like he did?

“Then I’ll get out.” He leapt from the pool with the ease of a jungle cat.

Anne’s breath caught. He was even more naked than she’d thought. The only garment he wore was a tight sort of breechcloth that outlined every contour of his bulging sex.

The bulge seemed to swell as she looked at it, as if in response to her gaze. Something in her own body ached in harmony with it, and the space between her legs grew moist. She tore her gaze away from the disturbing sight, only to encounter the flattest, tautest male abdomen she’d ever seen. She took a step backward.

“Hey,” he said in a softer voice. “Don’t go. I’m not going to hurt you.”

She raised her gaze to his. “I’ve never spoken to one of your kind before.”

An odd expression crossed his face, the corners of his mouth turning down for an instant. “We’re just people.”

She’d hurt his feelings. “I’m sorry. That was rude. It’s just that I—”

“You’ve heard all the horror stories about us.”

“Yes.”

“Well, they’re not true.” He gestured toward a table and chairs set under a vine-covered arbor. “Will you stay and talk a while?”

Anne hesitated. If anyone should see her or find out where she’d been, she would face awful consequences. But how likely was it? Her mother was out of town visiting Anne’s aunt today, and her father was at work. The servants only rarely looked this way. Damien smiled again, an inviting smile that made her want to take the hand he offered her.

“All right. I’ll stay.” She put her hand in his.

Damien’s long fingers closed over her flesh. They were cool from being in the water, and she could feel the banked strength in them. But he was gentle as he led her to the table.

The touch of his hand on hers gave her a jolt of excitement. What would it be like to touch other parts of him? His shoulders, his face, his chest….She glanced at him, wondering if he’d read her thoughts. People said the Demon Kin could read minds if they wanted to.

“I’ve seen you before,” he said. “You walk in the garden sometimes.”

“Yes.” Her face heated. Did he know she watched him? “I like to be outdoors.”

“But not to swim?” He pulled out a chair for her.

“I—it isn’t allowed. Not for young ladies.”

“That’s unfortunate. I love swimming. I can’t imagine it being forbidden to me.”

A horned and tailed servant, dressed in loose trousers and an exotic-looking tunic, appeared from within the embassy building. “Would you like some refreshments for you and your guest, Master Fallyn?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Damien snagged a towel from the back of the chairs and dried off briskly. Then he took the seat next to Anne, just as casually as if he weren’t virtually naked. The servant disappeared into the house, then returned moments later with a large tray bearing a pitcher, glasses, and a large plate of snacks.

“You don’t have to go to so much trouble for me,” Anne said.

“It’s no trouble.” Damien poured a glass of some pale, golden drink and handed it to her.

She sipped. The taste, both sweet and sour at once, was extraordinary. “What is it?”

“Lemonade. Have you never tasted lemonade?”

She’d never even heard of it. “No.”

“We grow a lot of lemons on Belleren.”

That was the name the Maleficans used for their world. Anne looked at him to see if he was teasing her. Of all the stories she’d heard of the Demon Kin, none of them mentioned anything as mundane and wholesome as agriculture. But Damien didn’t seem to be joking. He merely poured a glass for himself and lifted it to his lips.

Beautiful lips. Most young men didn’t strike her as beautiful. Damien was. Even with horns on his head, he was the best looking man she’d ever seen. When she looked at him, her belly began to flutter in the most disconcerting way.

“What do you like to do, besides walk in the garden?” He punctuated his words by offering her a pastry.

“I like to read.”

“Do they let you read?” His eyes twinkled.

She smiled at him for the first time. “Not so much. Sometimes I sneak books.”

“Perhaps you’d like to read some of mine. I just finished an adventure story.”

“Oh.” No-one ever offered to loan her books. “You’d do that for me?”

He reached out, as if to touch her hand, and then stopped. “Of course I would.”

* * *

A month later, Anne opened the gate one-handed and squirmed through it with her package tucked under her free arm. Damien always unlocked the gate for her now, to make their daily meetings easier. She had the book he’d loaned her, too.  It was on her entertainment device, an older model with parental restrictions on what she could access from the Novus Vitan entertainment network.

Most of the material approved for her was religious. Some of the stories were interesting, but she disliked the lectures. They put her to sleep. Damien’s stories were so different, it was as if they came from another world.

His books made her feel strange, on edge at the thought of a world so much larger than the one she’d been allowed to know, full of people and ideas more varied than she’d ever imagined. But they were exciting, too, like the young man who’d loaned them to her.

Suddenly the gate swung back and he was there, smiling, his hair gold in the sun. Her heart lifted. She smiled back.

“Did you read it?” he said.

“Of course.” Under the covers, with only a tiny book light for illumination.

“What did you think?”

She blushed. “I think it wasn’t proper reading material.”

He nudged her playfully as they walked together to the shaded sitting area. “But you finished it anyway, didn’t you?”

Her blush deepened. “Yes.” She glanced at him from under her lashes. “Were your people really created as—as sex slaves?”

“Uh huh. Genevis Belleren and her Demon Kin lovers really established the original Demon Kin colony on our planet, too. The rest of the story I’m not sure about. It might be exaggerated a little to make it more exciting.”

Anne offered him the package. “I brought you some of those cookies you liked.”

“Thanks.” He peeked inside the wrapper. “They’re my new favorites.”

They set the cookies and Anne’s entertainment device down on the table. Damien was relatively clothed today, wearing the typical Malefican loose trousers and tunic. But the fabric was thin and loosely woven, and it molded to the musculature of his upper body. Anne’s fingers itched to run themselves over the contours of that body.

What was wrong with her? She’d been having more and more of those thoughts lately, along with strange hot dreams that left her achy and longing for something she didn’t understand. The dreams always involved Damien. And kissing. She didn’t even like kissing.

She was beginning to think she was in love with him. Their friendship had begun with a definite infatuation on her side, but the more she learned about him, the more she got to know him, the more attached to him she became. He was funny and kind and he didn’t talk down to her. He never treated her as if she were stupid simply because she was female.

Love. I’m in love with Damien.

“Anne,” he called in a sing-song. “Are you in there?”

“Huh?” She refocused her gaze on him.

“I asked if you wanted to go for a swim.”

She rolled her eyes. “You always ask that. And I always say no.”

“It was worth a try.”

Anne shook her head, laughing. “I’ll always say no. You ought to give up and save yourself some trouble.”

“I can’t give up where you’re concerned. You’re all I think about nowadays.”

His golden skin went red over his cheekbones, as if he hadn’t meant to say those words. But he didn’t take them back, either. He just stood there gazing down at her with those dark blue eyes of his.

Anne’s face began to burn. “I—I think about you, too.”

“You do?” He caught her hand, drawing her closer.

The touch of his skin on hers felt like a revelation.

“Yes,” she whispered. She wasn’t sure what she was assenting to.

His thumb worked in gentle circles across the back of her hand. The caresses seemed to get inside her somehow, opening her up and making her long to press herself against him.

She looked up at him, wide-eyed, as he drew her closer. His gaze caressed her face with something she could only describe as tenderness.

He leaned down and gently brushed his lips across hers. Then he did it again, with just a little more pressure. Her whole body went warm and tingly from that brief contact.

His hands splayed across her back, holding her to him as he kissed her. They were big hands, hot even through the fabric of her dress. Anne reached out, touched the warm bare skin of his forearm, let her palm glide over it.

His body felt just as hot. He was pressed against her whole length, her breasts crushing against the lower part of his chest. Anne touched her hands to the hard muscle of his shoulders, then lifted them as if he’d burned her. It was too much. The feeling of him against her, surrounding her, was so overwhelming it scared her.

But she couldn’t back away, either. She wanted this even though it was wrong.

He licked her, his tongue flicking across her lower lip. Anne instinctively opened her mouth, allowing him access. And he put his tongue inside her. Instead of pulling away as she ought, she moaned softly and pushed herself against him, her hands tightening on his shoulders.

His mouth was like a world if its own, warm and wet, intimate, tasting of the cookies they’d shared and something else, something that was purely Damien. One of his hands slid downward to cup her rear end, squeezing. She trembled and sighed.

Gravel crunched under quick, heavy footsteps. It came from the direction of Anne’s house, close by. At the base of the wall.

Someone was right on the other side of the wall from them. Her heart raced and her body trembled, but not from desire. Terror made her cold where she’d been so hot a moment before.

Dear God, what was she doing? If they were seen, caught, her punishment would be twice as bad as it would for merely talking to him. And he might get in trouble, too. God only knew what her father would do to Damien if he knew the Demon Kin boy had even talked to her. She jerked back.

“I can’t. I have to go now.” She ran blindly for the gate.

Damien called her name, but she didn’t look back. She reached the gate, yanked at the heavy wood and plunged through the opening only to slam into a thick body. Anne stopped with a gasp. Her father.

He took her arm in a bruising grip. “You’ll wish you’d never set foot outside, Miss Slut.” And dragged her toward the house. 

* * * 

Damien hated winters on Novus Vita. They were cold, gray, and snowy, and they froze his Demon Kin blood, froze his bones to the marrow. His beloved pool stood empty, covered against the snow. The garden looked sad and lonely, bereft of leaves and sunshine and Anne.

He ducked his head as a human woman glowered at him from the other side of an empty flower bed that fronted the tailor’s shop he was leaving. She looked at him as if he were some kind of evil monster, not that her attitude was unusual. All the Novus Vitans saw him and his kind as monsters.

Then he lifted his chin. He had nothing of which to be ashamed. He was a member of a proud race, a people who had risen against terrible odds and made a place for themselves in a galaxy that hadn’t wanted them.

It was the Novus Vitan who should be ashamed.

Was Anne ashamed of the way she’d left him? Probably not.  She’d never returned after he kissed her. She’d left her entertainment device behind, yet she didn’t come back or even send a message asking for it. He found books he thought she might like, even set them aside for her, but he couldn’t share them with her.

He’d repulsed her with his barbaric caresses. That must be it.

He’d never seen such a look of horror on a girl’s face, and hoped never to see another one like it as long as he lived.

The pathetic thing was how much he missed her. They hadn’t known each other long, but it felt as if they’d become close in that time. She was the only real friend he’d made here on Novus Vita, and he’d allowed himself to dream. But her friendship had been false. Completely false.

He struck off toward the Bellerenic embassy. Sleet fell thickly, coating his wool-clad shoulders with ice. The wind picked up, driving the sleet into his face and making him shiver. Even the Novus Vitans looked miserable, their heads tucked into their collars, hands clutching at the openings of their coats.

He swung right into an alley a few blocks from the embassy. It was a shortcut between two major thoroughfares. It should have made his journey easier, except snow had piled up in drifts on the pavement and apparently no-one had bothered shoveling it. They’d simply made a crude pathway down the center of the narrow street, forcing him to slip and slide on the bumpy packed ice.

About fifteen paces in, he picked up the sound of footsteps behind him and turned. Five large Novus Vitan men walked behind him, their faces grim and intent, clearly focused on him. His heart slammed against his chest wall.

Whatever they wanted, it couldn’t be good.

Damien broke into a run, splashing through puddles of ice melt. Freezing water splashed up onto his legs, soaking his trousers. Five more men boiled out of a couple of doorways, blocking his passage.

He paused, swallowed hard. Ten against one were poor odds, even for a Demon Kin. There had to be another way out of the alley. Up, for example.

He sprang up and clutched a doorjamb of the building next to him, trying to get purchase on the smooth stucco wall. His feet slipped, scrabbled against the stucco. Someone grabbed his jacket, dragging him down. He hit the filthy pavement with a grunt.

One of the men drew back a booted foot and slammed him in the ribs. Damien groaned. He snatched another man’s trouser leg, jerking the fellow off balance. His enemy fell to the street next to him.

The rest jumped on him, punching and kicking, until he felt something break inside his rib cage. Gods of Belleren, they were going to kill him. He was going to die, and he hadn’t even been able to see Anne again or tell her good-bye.

“Stop!” one of the men growled. “He’s had enough.”

The thugs quit assaulting him and got to their feet. Damien lay curled in a frigid puddle, trying not to make any sounds of pain. He wouldn’t give the bastards the satisfaction of hearing him cry out. A warm trickle of blood ran down his cheek. He ignored it.

The icy water helped to dull the pain, at least a little. He breathed deeply through his nose. They weren’t going to kill him and he wasn’t going to die of pain.

The one who’d spoken stood glaring down at him. “That’s what happens when one of your kind touches a decent woman. You get my meaning?”

Anne’s father must have sent them. But why now?

“Fuck you,” he croaked in Bellerenic. He searched for the words in Galactic Standard, but for some reason they wouldn’t come to him.

The man motioned to his cohorts and they turned and left him there. It was a long time before he gathered enough strength to stand up and totter home.

Damien staggered around the corner at Anne’s parents’ house. And there she was, bundled in an ankle-length woolen coat, her long auburn hair pinned up and covered by a fur hat. An elderly man who looked like a servant walked beside her. It was the first time he’d caught a glimpse of her since the day he’d kissed her.

“Anne!” he called, breaking into an agonizing run. “Miss Anne!”

She didn’t even glance his way. It was as if she were deaf. But that couldn’t be true.

Damien caught up with them. His heart pounded so hard his vision began to blur and his breath sawed in and out of his lungs. He braced himself with his hands on his thighs.

“Anne—”

The servant tried to put himself between Anne and Damien, giving the young male an evil glare. “You are to leave my mistress alone.”

“Anne, please talk to me.”

She kept her eyes—those magnificent gray eyes he remembered so well—fixed straight ahead. His heart twisted. How could she do it? How could she pretend she didn’t even know he was there?

“Look at me!” He reached for her arm, but the old man caught his wrist.

“Begone with you,” the servant said. “Miss Anne does not consort with devil spawn.”

“Anne?”

Still she didn’t look at him. Damien dropped his arm to his side. The pain in his ribs dragged him down, dragged him over into a near crouch. He watched, breathing through the agony as the servant brought her up the front walk and into her parents’ house. The door closed behind them, leaving him on the icy sidewalk.

He never saw her again.

Chapter 2

Twelve years later:

Damien Fallyn sat in his king’s tasteful private office and thought of all the ways he could tell his monarch no. He was done being a controller. Five years of pleasuring strangers whether they were attractive to him or not was enough. And he knew this subject, or he’d known her once at any rate. Long ago. Gods of Belleren, she’d been the loveliest thing he’d ever seen.

“Are you still there?” the king said dryly.

“I’m here.”

“And what is your answer?”

“No.” He took a deep breath and met the king’s obsidian gaze. “My answer is no.”

“Damien, this is no idle request.” The king steepled his fingers and gazed at Damien over their tops. His glossy black tail flicked out beyond the edge of the desk.

Damien made an impatient gesture. “Gods, do you think I don’t know that?”

“I know you have a history with this young woman.”

He shoved his fingers through his hair and bumped into his horns. “A history. Yes, I have a history with her. Someone else needs to perform her Soul Opening.”

“The other controllers have all expressed open hostility toward Miss Paulsen. I’m not confident in their ability to perform the ceremony without causing harm to the subject. And I can’t waive the ceremony without punishing her brutally for what she did, or the people will riot in the streets.”

Damien held back an irritated sigh. “What makes you think I’m not just as hostile?”

King Night gave him a sharp look. “Maybe my information is bad. I was told you loved her.”

Love. Was that what it was called? More like adored from afar, while she looked down her prissy Novus Vitan nose at him. Damien’s own tail began to swish restlessly.

“I . . . cared for her. She didn’t reciprocate. And her family…after they discovered we were friends, they ruined my father. They accused me of raping one of our Novus Vitan servants, Night. Drove us entirely off their planet, just because I’d had the nerve to—” fall in love with her—“enjoy Anne Paulsen’s company.”

“Do you hate her?”

“It was a long time ago.” He raked his hair again. “No, I don’t hate her.” It would be easier if he did.

“Then you’ll be better than any of my other possible choices. Besides, you’re the most experienced controller I have.”

He watched Night carefully. “Why do you need so much experience?”

The king shrugged as a blush crept over his face. “She’s—uh—she’s a virgin.”

“What?” It couldn’t be true. “She’s got to be at least twenty-six or seven. And she’s beautiful. Why hasn’t she—”

“You know how these Novus Vitans are. Given her association with the terrorists, she’s probably of an extreme NV orientation.”

Yeah. That would fit with his memories of her. And Night expected him to make love to a frigid little stick like that? While she laid beneath him and glowered up at him in hatred and resentment.

Who are you kidding? You’d do anything to touch her again. But to have her once and then leave her would crush him.

I fucking hate being so confused.

“Do you think she knew what she was carrying?”

Night shrugged. “There’s no way of telling how much she knew without doing a Soul Opening. All we know is she worked for them for six months. She claims she didn’t know what kind of organization they are.”

He wanted to know. Needed to know. Had Anne become the kind of person who would hide explosives on her body so they could be detonated in a public place? “I’m not sure I can do it without being enchained.” He shook his head. “I still think it’s better to use someone else.”

“There are ways around enchainment.” The king leaned forward in his chair. “We need the information from her, and the wrong controller will do more harm than good. Don’t make me beg, Damien.”

“Gods.” He sighed. “All right. I’ll do it. Just have a supply of super-codone on hand for me. I’ll need it to get through the enchainment.”

Night smiled, his dark eyes creasing at the corners. “Excellent. We have the chamber already prepared. The subject is waiting.”

Damien narrowed his eyes. “You assumed I’d give in?”

“Not assumed,” Night said blandly. “Hoped.”

* * *

They came for her in the morning, pulled her from her grim little cell and marched her to the equally grim shower room. There, the only female guard in the prison supervised her grooming, telling her exactly where and how to apply the depilatory cream and how to wash every inch of her body. As if she didn’t know how to bathe. Afterward she rubbed scented oil into her skin, still under the hard-eyed gaze of the Demon Kin guard.

Finally, the woman handed her a loose white tunic of heavy slubbed silk. “Put it on.”

“Where are the undergarments?”

The guard gave a harsh bark of laughter, her ugly tan tail lashing behind her. “You don’t need undergarments where you’re going.”

Anne slipped the tunic over her head to hide her flush of shame. The guards in this place never lost a chance to remind her of what awaited her. And now the time had finally arrived.

She would submit sexually to the “controller,” a Demon Kin male who would use her sexual arousal against her, to find out what thoughts she hid in her deepest mind. They’d let her know she didn’t have to submit, but the Soul Opening ceremony was the only way she had to demonstrate her innocence. If she refused it, she would be considered guilty.

I am guilty.

They wouldn’t get anything out of her anyway, because she wouldn’t be sexually aroused. No Demon Kin male could possibly interest her, and besides she’d been thoroughly trained in the Teachings. She had no sexual interests at all.

The guard took her roughly by the elbow and brought her through a narrow door into a larger, dimly lit chamber. In the center of the chamber was a huge bed, piled with variously shaped white pillows and hung with white curtains. Anne stared at the bed. Good God, they wanted her to . . . to perform on that? It was like a stage.

On the opposite side of the bed, two banks of thickly cushioned chairs sat like seats in a theater. All of them were occupied by men who wore hoods over their heads, shadowing their faces. One of the men wore white, like she did. He must be the one who would . . . .

A woman with long silver hair and silver horns approached Anne and the guard from their right. She wore a flowing silver tunic that matched the rest of her. The woman held a hand out to Anne.

“My name is Lorca. I’m the Senior Ritualist here.”

Anne nodded, her throat too tight for speech.

Lorca looked at the guard. “You may go now.”

As the guard turned on her heel and left the chamber, Lorca turned to Anne. She lifted a goblet, which Anne hadn’t noticed before. It was filled with some kind of dark liquid.

“Drink, that you may be open,” she said.

Anne accepted the goblet and drank. It tasted like red wine with spices in it. How much was she supposed to have? She took a big swallow, and then another before Lorca held her hand out again, smiling.

The ritualist then went to the seated men and passed the goblet around to them. Each one drank. Did that mean they were all going to be with her? She’d thought it was only one. Her hands turned even sweatier than they were already, and icy cold.

One is enough. One is enough. One was too many.

In a far corner of the room, a band began to play soft music. It was like a parody of some romantic encounter in a vid. Anne stood next to the giant bed, feeling lost and wondering what to do next. If more than one man were to get up from those chairs, she was going to run out of here. To hell with their ceremony.

But only one man rose. He was tall. She couldn’t see his face. The hood cast shadows over him, making him look even more mysterious and frightening than Demon Kin normally did. Anne nervously gripped the sides of her tunic.

Then he pushed the hood off his head and she gasped. Recoiled.

“Damien!”

It was him. Even after ten years, she could still recognize his face. He’d grown out of his teenage beauty into a man’s face and form, his features more rugged and sharply carved than they’d been when she’d known him. But she remembered.

He still had those deep blue eyes, like the deepest ocean, heavily fringed with lashes, and that long blond hair hanging in waves past his shoulders. How he could have such long hair and still look so masculine was a mystery.

There was a scar on his face, though. It ran from the left side of his nose all the way down to his jawline. Her hand began to rise in order to touch it. She clenched it into a fist and willed it down to her side.

He frowned at her. “Anne. There’s no reason to be afraid of me.”

She lifted her chin. “I’m not afraid. But I won’t participate in the ceremony with you.”

“Child, you have no choice,” Lorca said.

“Yes, I do.” She took a couple of steps backward, toward the door. “I won’t do it with him.”

“Why not? You already know one another.”

“Because she despises me, Lorca.” Damien’s gaze on her was hard as stone. Hateful. “She’s always despised me. However, there is no-one else.” He advanced on her.

“No!” She couldn’t let him touch her. Even after such a long time, she could still remember how it had felt to have his hands on her. He would ruin her. He’d find out every secret she’d ever had.

His russet-gold tail flicked back and forth behind him, like the tail of an agitated cat. She’d made him angry. Anne turned and bolted for the door.

Damien caught her. His hand closed around her arm like a vise and yanked her around to face him. She looked up into his face, expecting to see hatred there. He scowled down at her.

“Get the restraints,” he growled. “You and I, Miss Anne, have some unfinished business.”

At the sound of her old name, she writhed in his grip. She leaned backward, pitting her body weight against his hold. But it did no good at all. He was far stronger and bigger than she, and he didn’t seem to feel the slightest strain from all her struggling.

She’d thought that after so many years she wouldn’t feel anything for him anymore. In fact, she’d never expected to see him again. Hoped never to see him again. Now here he was, preparing to take her and make a whore out of her, and there was nothing she could do about it.

Her traitorous body trembled, aching deep inside where she hadn’t ached since the last time she’d seen him. She moistened between her legs. How could he make her feel this way? After everything she’d been through, she’d been so sure that fire was extinguished forever. But it had only been banked.

Damien dragged her to the bed. He picked her up and threw her on the mattress, pouncing on her when she tried to slide off the far side. His big hands pushed down on her shoulders, pressing her into the bed. His angry face loomed over her.

“I don’t want to have to do this to you,” he said.

“Then don’t.”

“If I don’t, someone else will. King’s orders.”

So that’s all it was. He wasn’t here in this chamber because of her, but only because his king had ordered him to do it. Anne burst into a new round of struggles. Damn him. If he didn’t want her, he should have let someone else perform the ceremony.

A smaller hand caught one of her arms and unbent it, forcing it to straighten. She turned her head. It was Lorca, strapping her arm down with a padded restraint. She wasn’t any bigger than Anne, yet she mastered her struggles with no apparent effort. All the Demon Kin were unnaturally strong.

The woman reached over her head and pulled a sling-like device down from the canopy of the bed. She picked up Anne’s leg and strapped her calf into the sling. This secured her leg in a high, bent position. A humiliating position that opened her completely to Damien and caused the borrowed tunic to slide all the way back to her hips.

Damien got off her while Lorca repeated the procedure on Anne’s other side. Now both her legs were high in the air, her sex utterly exposed. She pinched her eyes shut, trying not to think of all the men in those chairs. Watching.

“I’m going to close the curtains,” Damien said.

“Very well.” Lorca patted Anne’s arm. “Damien will take care of you. There’s nothing to fear.”

What did she know about it? She was one of them.

The curtains were on small metal rings that made a chiming sound when Damien drew them closed. She made herself open her eyes. The draperies now enclosed them in a small nest-like space, dim and cozy. Or it would have been cozy if she hadn’t been tied to the bed frame.

He knelt beside her on the bed, looking down at her with a somber expression. “You know I would never hurt you.”

Anne said nothing.

Damien sighed. “I asked them to find someone else, but they couldn’t.”

Was that supposed to make her feel better?

He laid his hand on the crown of her head. A slight, tingling sensation passed from his hand into her scalp. Next, he touched her between the eyes, then at the base of her throat, between her breasts, just below her sternum, and below her navel. She flinched at that one, although each touch brought with it the same intriguing tingle. Finally, he put his fingers between her legs, pressing them lightly to her bare sex. Anne gasped and jerked in the restraints.

Damien removed his hand almost as soon as he’d made contact. He leaned down. Anne’s heart began to gallop. Damien’s face drew closer, his eyes gazing at her lips. He was going to kiss her.

His lips, full and soft, brushed against hers. “I take you, body and soul, so that we may know the truth that is in you.”

Her whole body began to tremble. “Please let me go.”

“Shhh.” He kissed her again.

Anne held her lips tight. His attempted caresses just slid off her. They could force this on her, but they couldn’t make her like it, no matter what the guards had said. She was a Novus Vitan and a member of The Army of God.

Damien’s thumb brushed across her lower lip. “Relax for me. Open up.”

“No.”

“Anne. Do you wish to repeat the ceremony over and over until you do open up? That’s what will happen if you don’t cooperate with me.”

To her embarrassment, her eyes began to sting with tears. “Of course I don’t want that.”

“Then relax your lips for me. I want to give you pleasure.”

“But I don’t want it.”

“It’s part of the ceremony. You must have it, just this once.” He drew the backs of his fingers across her cheek. “After that, you can go back to being as upright and tense as you like.”

But it wasn’t true. Being with Damien would change her forever. She knew it. How could he not?

I don’t have a choice. Unless I cooperate now, I’ll have to do this again or else plead guilty.

“Your second time in the ceremony won’t be with me,” he murmured. “I’ve resigned. This is my last one.”

Would a ceremony with someone other than Damien be better or worse? Her mind said better, but her heart said worse. Foolish heart.

He looked ruefully down at her. “I probably shouldn’t have told you that. Now you’ll hold out for the next man.”

A single tear escaped her eye. “No. I won’t.”

Damien brushed the tear away. Then he leaned close and pressed his lips to hers, and this time she didn’t pinch them quite so tightly together. The tender caresses of his mouth on hers only made her eyes sting again.

She’d been kissed by another once, behind the Teaching House after Meeting. A young man named Joe had talked her into letting him walk her home, only instead he’d led her behind the Teaching House and pushed her against the wall and stuck his tongue down her throat while he grabbed her breasts. She’d bitten him.

Damien’s kisses were nothing like that. They felt gentle, exploratory. Persuasive. Memories of him flooded back and she found herself moving her own lips in response. And the soft pressure, lifting and then repeating, made her flesh tingle and ache. The place between her legs began to grow warm and heavy.

His big hands framed her head as he angled his mouth for a closer fit. His tongue slicked along the margin of her lips and without thinking, she opened for him. He slipped inside her. Anne gave a low moan of excitement.

He moved one hand down, along her neck and shoulder, then over her breast. She arched into his touch. What was wrong with her? It must be the wine, the spices, making her respond so wantonly.

Nimbly he worked the fastenings on the front of her tunic, until her torso was laid mostly bare for him, her nipples hard and pointing straight at the canopy. Damien pushed the fabric to the sides. He stared at her with a strange yearning in his eyes.

“Do you know how long I’ve waited to see you like this?” His voice was low and husky.

“No,” she whispered.

“Ever since I first saw you.” His mouth curled up on one side. “But you were always too pure for a creature like me.”

He cupped one breast in his hand. The heat of him made her ache even more strongly. One thumb raked across her engorged nipple. Anne shuddered.

Not too pure. Too afraid.

He pinched the nipple, and rolled it between his thumb and forefinger. The sensations that produced—it felt good. Oh, God, it felt good, and she had to hold fast. Be strong. But he repeated the action and she moaned as sweet pleasure bloomed in her nipple and echoed somewhere deep in her belly.

“He’ll fuck you,” the female guard had said. “He’ll fuck you and he’ll make you like it.”

“No,” she whispered.

But Damien only lowered his head and took her nipple into his hot, wet mouth. He suckled her. Anne strained at the arm restraints. She wanted to put her hands on him, wanted to clutch his head to her. But she could only lay there, moaning, as he tormented her with delight.

He lifted his head. “Did you think I didn’t notice the way you responded to me? All those years, Anne. But I never forgot.” His head descended again, and the suckling resumed.

Something hot and restless took over her body, making her toss helplessly under him. She ached in her breasts and womb, and throbbed between her legs.

He slid his free hand down her body, over her belly, and she moaned more frantically, thinking “stop!” and “yes, please” at the same time. Lower and lower went Damien’s hand. But then instead of descending to her sex it moved over, to the side, and cupped her hip, squeezing gently. Then downward again, or rather around the corner to the back of her elevated thigh and up, up her leg.

When was he going to do it? He was torturing her with fear and anticipation. He stopped to switch his attentions to her other breast. He had to climb over her because of her legs hanging from the bedframe. A human male would have looked slightly ridiculous, clambering over her like that, but Damien moved so fluidly he made the absurd maneuver look graceful.

And then he was toying with her and suckling her again and she forgot to think. Oh, God, he was doing something to her just by laying his hands on her. She didn’t know what it was but it had to be unholy because it felt so good.

Then his hand, his other hand now, began that suggestive descent down her belly, across to her thigh, along the sensitive skin of her uppermost leg and she trembled and moaned. His mouth pulling at her nipple sent shocks of pure delight through her and his hand . . . . His hand skimmed her sex.

Anne jerked against the restraints. He brushed her again, still suckling. This time, she didn’t jerk. Over and over he touched her, so lightly, petting her newly naked flesh. With a fingertip he began to explore her intricate folds.

She’d never felt anything like it, had never touched herself there except when the guard had made her apply the depilatory. But this was different anyway, almost unbearably pleasurable. A presence softly entered her mind and she hardly noticed it, she was so caught up in amazement at his touch.

The presence merely watched, anyway, making no demands, just waiting. But then his suckling turned fiercer, so hard she cried out at the weird combination of pleasure and pain.

The presence said, “show me.”

Chapter 3 

Damien gave Anne the command to reveal her inner self just as her cries became most frantic. The door in her mind began to open, just a crack, just enough so he could see the place beyond. Then it slammed shut in his face. Her body tensed under him.

Open for me.

No. No, I can’t.

Damnation, why was she fighting him again? She knew this was how it had to be. Damien took a deep breath, scented of Anne, and forced himself to relax. There was time.

He returned to slow petting of her sex, while he pressed his mouth over hers and kissed her. She responded hotly, thrusting her tongue into his mouth and moaning into him. It seemed she’d lost some of that Novus Vitan reserve, then.

He kept his place in her mind, just waiting, letting her get used to him. When she once again writhed under him, he probed just a little deeper. The door inside of her remained closed.

He used his forefinger to trace the edges of her sex’s outer lips. Anne shuddered eagerly, yet her mind remained locked. Damien met the petal-like inner lips, carefully teasing them.

Just beyond, her hymen awaited. He could barely see it in the dim light, a glistening pink barrier of delicate flesh. He’d had virgins before, several of them, but none had possessed a hymen so completely covering the vagina. Getting inside Anne was going to be difficult for both of them, but especially for her.

The lips of her sex swelled with excitement from his caresses, yet the door in her mind stayed shut.

He was going to have to use extraordinary measures if she couldn’t cooperate better than that. Damien moved around her, crawling along the edge of the mattress until he’d positioned himself between her upraised thighs.

She opened her eyes and stared at him. “Are you going to—”

“Not yet. It’s all right.”

He sank down to the bed. The mattress was extra-large to give the controller plenty of room to comfortably service a subject from any position. Damien stretched out with his head between her legs. She stared at him wildly, her mouth open as if she wanted to protest. But she said nothing.

Gods of Belleren, her scent. It was all over her despite the fragrant oil they’d put on her, and here between her thighs it was overwhelming. It tied his gut into a twist and made his cock unbearably hard.

Her pussy was naked, all the hair removed. He’d always pictured her with dark reddish-brown curls, the pink flesh of her sex just peeking through. Yet her current nakedness allowed him an unobstructed view of her sweet little cunt, the intricate folds opening for him just like an exotic flower with a tempting little bud at the peak.

He lowered his head and kissed that tempting pussy. She made a strangled sound. Damien licked her. The tangy flavor of her brought an involuntary groan from his throat. His cock pulsed so powerfully it hurt.

Focus on the ceremony.

Using one’s psychic powers to directly influence or control another’s mind without that person’s permission was forbidden except in the most extreme circumstances, even to controllers. They were supposed to go through the front door of the mind, using only the naturally opening powers of sexuality to get in. But he wasn’t going to get in that way, not without using enough brute force to harm Anne.

So he snuck around the back way, melding his consciousness with hers without asking for permission or giving her notice. His tongue continued to play and delve at the entrance to her body while his mind sank deeper and deeper into hers.

And he saw.

He didn’t need to go back very far, only about a year. He found her memories of obtaining employment with a charity called Open Hands, which was just a front for the Army of God. And she knew. She knew they were part of the A.O.G. and that they waged guerilla warfare against the Bellerenic occupation.

Damien reeled inwardly, but pressed onward, looking for more. All he could find was her rather mundane work as their secretary. They didn’t share information about their missions with her, so she had no idea—as far as he could tell, anyway—that they’d deliberately murdered hundreds of Novus Vitans along with all the Bellerenics they’d killed.

On the day of the incident, they’d told her she was to hand deliver a data crystal to a contact she would meet in the square in front of the Bellerenic occupational government’s headquarters. She would never have been discovered, until it was too late, if it hadn’t been for a passing Bellerenic who had opened himself psychically for personal, unrelated reasons and caught the thought impressions laid on the object by the maker.

That incident had changed the way Belleren managed security. They now had guards trained to psychically monitor all sensitive areas. It went against Bellerenic tradition to be so intrusive, but it was for everyone’s protection.

The A.O.G. hadn’t told Anne the data crystal she carried was really a tiny bomb, so she was innocent of the possession of an incendiary device charge at least. But still, she knew for whom she worked.

He’d been a fool to even hope otherwise. Damien withdrew from her mind and body so abruptly that she gasped. He picked up a corner of the sheet laid over the bed and used it to wipe her juices from his mouth, flinging the material back when he’d finished.

“What is it?” she said, her voice sharp. “What’s wrong?”

“What do you think, Miss Anne?” He grabbed the curtains and yanked them open, making the metal hoops ring. “I now know more about you than I ever wanted to.”

“But—”

Snatching his tunic, he threw it on over his head. “You won’t have to undergo the ceremony again, so you should be happy.” Except now she’d be punished.

It’s what she deserves, for collaborating with scumbags like the Army of God.

He slid off the bed and turned to Lorca, who was watching him with a concerned expression. “Did you get everything?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

“Then I’m finished here.” If the king wished to consult with him over this, his secretary would contact Damien, so there was no need to linger.

He turned and strode to the chamber door, feeling Anne’s bewildered gaze on his back just as clearly as if it were her hand resting there. Idiot! He’d really hoped she was innocent, just because he’d been infatuated with her as a boy. And she was nothing but a Novus Vitan fanatic, violent and bigoted.

When he left the chamber, his body was trembling in reaction. At least he hadn’t struck her. He wouldn’t have been able to forgive himself if he’d struck her, even after everything she’d done.

What kind of a person did you think she was? You knew how she’d been raised.

When they first met, the look on her face as he came near her had proclaimed more clearly than a written declaration that she feared and despised him. The way she flinched away from him when he got within an arm’s length of her. The way she turned her face from him when he tried to speak to her.

He used to tell himself she’d had to behave that way or her parents would punish her. She wasn’t truly rejecting him. And she’d gotten over it and become his friend. Apparently some silly part of him had believed that nonsense. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have reacted as if she’d betrayed him by joining the fanatics. She hadn’t betrayed anyone. She’d made her loyalties known from the beginning.

* * *

Lorca came to the bed and began to remove the restraints. Anne turned her head to watch her. The woman’s face was carefully neutral, so neutral that it scared Anne. What had Damien found to enrage him so? There was nothing in her memories that she hadn’t already told the interrogators.

No, that wasn’t true. She’d left out how much she really knew about the organization whose employment she’d accepted, and minimized how long she’d worked for them. They had a front company, a non-profit charity called Open Hands, and she’d worked in that office, which was what she’d told the Demon Kin when they’d questioned her. But she’d known they were really the Army of God. That was why she’d applied for the job. She’d wanted to do something important to strike back at the Demon Kin who’d invaded and defeated her world.

Damien hadn’t known that. It had made him angry. Why would he even care?

“What will happen to me now?” she said in a small voice.

“You’ll be sentenced.” Lorca glanced at her. “The judge will see you some time later today.” She unbuckled the last cuff.

Anne sat up. Her body still hummed with the pleasure Damien had brought out in her, and deep in her belly she ached. He hadn’t finished what he was doing to her. He hadn’t penetrated her and had gotten no pleasure from the act himself, but besides that he’d left her strangely wanting.

“Will Damien report to the King?”

“No.” Lorca patted her thigh. “I and the witnesses saw everything he saw. We will make our report.”

She went hot all over. “Those men—they saw what Damien did to me?”

“Yes. We were linked with Damien’s mind.”

Dear God. Her skin burned even hotter. The curtains had just been an illusion, designed to get her to let down her guard. She’d just been mauled in front of an audience.

She buttoned up the white tunic, without looking over her shoulder to see if the hooded men were still watching. She didn’t want to know. When she slipped off the bed, the chamber door opened. For a moment, she thought it was Damien returning, and her heart gave a little flip-flop. But it was only the female guard.

The guard returned her to her cell, where she whiled away several anxious hours wondering what they would do to her. They served her a tasteless lunch for which she had no appetite. Then a few more hours of pacing and waiting, until finally the guard reappeared and unlocked the door to Anne’s cell.

The woman took her arm in her hard grip. “This way.”

She escorted Anne down long, blank corridors with plain white walls and up a long staircase. Then another corridor, this one with paintings at intervals and better lighting. Another staircase, another corridor with even better paintings. These were desert landscapes, probably representing Belleren. Finally they reached an enormous, carved wood double door flanked by two guards.

“The prisoner Anne Paulsen,” the female said.

The guards opened the doors, their faces completely blank. The female pulled her through and into a luxurious office. There was a Demon Kin male there, sitting behind a desk of satiny black wood. He had long, straight black hair that gleamed in the strong afternoon sunlight coming through the windows, and eyes the color of dark coffee.

Two chairs, also in black wood, sat on a gold carpet in front of the desk, but she didn’t take a seat. She hadn’t been invited to sit.

“Leave her with me,” the man said, staring at Anne.

The guard bowed and left. The doors shut softly behind her. Anne stared back at the dark-haired man, who must be the judge. Although this office looked more beautiful than any judge’s office she’d ever seen. There was a carved crystal statue of a rock lion on his desk, for example, that must be worth a fortune.

“Do you know who I am?” the man said.

“The judge?”

His lips curled slightly. “Yes, and no. I am King Night of Belleren.”

She blinked. “The king?”

“You may address me as Your Majesty.”

Anne swallowed. “Yes, sir. Your Majesty.”

“What am I to do with you, Miss Paulsen? You collaborated with terrorists, knew the kind of work they did. In fact, Damien tells me you sought them out deliberately.”

She lifted her chin, although a sharp twinge of shame curled inside her. It was hard to look this man in the eye and admit she’d worked to harm his people. “Yes, I did.”

“I won’t ask why. It seems obvious, and it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m obligated to punish you. And you deserve it, for what you did. Helping the Army of God, even as a secretary, made it easier for them to murder hundreds of people. Are you aware of the attacks on the governor’s compound in the Southern Sector of Novus Vita?”

“No, Your Majesty.”

“They broke in and murdered mainly human slaves. Fellow Novus Vitans. What do you think of that?”

Was it true? She went cold all over. “I—I think it’s awful.”

“But it would have been all right if the victims had been Bellerenics? Demon Kin?”

Anne dropped her gaze. “No, Your Majesty.”

“You seem contrite, but I can’t help suspecting those are crocodile tears.”

What in heaven’s name were crocodile tears? She waited for an explanation.

“Miss Paulsen, you’re a valuable commodity,” King Night continued in a dry tone. “Did you know that? Your beloved Novus Vita sent a bioweapon to us three years before we declared war on you. That bioweapon was a plague. They meant, I think, to wipe out all of us, but it mainly affected our women. Ninety percent of our female population died.”

Her head jerked up. “Ninety percent?”

“Ninety percent. We need women, and human women will do nicely, since Bellerenics and humans produce fertile offspring that, with gene therapy, can become fully Bellerenic. Therefore, I’m assigning you to the reparation program.”

“W-what’s that, Your Majesty?”

“It’s a program I oversee myself. We assign Novus Vitan women to Bellerenic masters, for the purpose of making reparation for the harm Novus Vita has done to our world. You will be a sex slave, providing your master with pleasure and children.”

Her knees wobbled, and she grabbed the arm of one of the chairs to steady herself. A sex slave.

“No. Please. Please, Your Majesty, don’t do this to me.”

“It’s too late, Miss Paulsen. I’ve made up my mind. If you hadn’t knowingly collaborated, I might have taken a more lenient position, but in the circumstances—”

“I’d rather be put to death!”

He smiled without humor. “I’m sure. However, you’re too valuable for that. Belleren needs you.”

“W-who will be my master?” She had to force out the last word.

“In a moment.” He pressed a button on his desk console. “Send him in.”

Chapter 4 

Anne twisted her hands together. Some Demon Kin male would take her away and do terrible things to her, make her participate in who-knew-what kind of depraved behavior. Make her pregnant with babies who would grow up with horns on their heads.

Her traitorous sex pulsed with the thought of those depraved things he’d make her do.

The doors opened behind her. She didn’t dare turn her head, but only waited, looking at the carpet. Someone walked up and stood beside her. Anne gave him a furtive glance out of the corner of her eye, and her knees once again almost failed her. It was Damien.

He’d changed out of the white tunic. Now he wore a pair of loose indigo trousers with a loose white shirt over them. His tail whipped back and forth as he stood there, not looking at her. The trousers must have an opening in the back to accommodate the tail.

He was the one. The king was giving her to him, Damien Fallyn, the one Demon Kin male she’d hoped never to see again. Her gut turned to ice.

Damien bowed deeply to the king. “Your Majesty?”

“On the occasion of your retirement from service as a controller, I’m making you a gift of this woman.”

Damien sent her a startled glance. Then he scowled at his monarch. “Giving her to me?”

“As a slave. She’ll warm your bed and give you children, Damien. Help you reestablish the Fallyn Clan.”

The scowl deepened. “She’s a traitor, Your Majesty.”

“In her mind, she’s a patriot. At any rate, Belleren needs her services, as do you. Take her.” The king gestured at them. “My secretary will provide you with the proper documentation.”

“All right. I certainly can’t turn down your offer, can I?”

“No, you can’t.” The king’s stern face showed a hint of amusement. “I assume you’ll be at the wedding next week?”

“Yes, Your Majesty. I’ll be there.”

Another person entered the room. Anne kept her gaze forward. Heavy footsteps clomped across the floor and stopped at Damien’s side. She peeked out of the corner of her eye. It was the female guard, smirking as she offered Damien a metal collar and black leather leash.

Anne flushed all over her body. Inside, she trembled. They were going to put that thing on her. Damien accepted the equipment. As he turned toward her, the guard waited. She wanted to see him put it on Anne so she could gloat. That woman had been gloating ever since Anne had been brought to the prison.

“Leave us,” the king said.

The guards lips tightened, but what could she do? One didn’t argue with a king. She left the room, closing the doors behind herself.

Damien lifted the collar to Anne’s neck. She couldn’t help lifting her eyes to his as he did it. And he didn’t look away. He didn’t seem ashamed of what he was doing. But, of course, he wouldn’t be ashamed, would he? He was Demon Kin.

His hands were warm, dry, and steady as he wrapped the chilly steel links around her throat and closed the clasp. A weird thrill went through her as the collar tightened against her skin. Her sex began to throb and her nipples tightened to hard needy points, complaining that he hadn’t finished with her. Hadn’t taken her all the way.

“Look at me,” he said.

“No.” Her voice came out in a whisper.

He took her by the chin and tilted her face up. “Look at me.”

Slowly she raised her eyes. His were hard, the blue of his irises cold and angry.

“Who is your master, Anne?”

She swallowed hard. Heat rushed up and over her face. “You are.”

The king still sat behind his desk, watching them. If she looked at him, she would die of embarrassment. So she didn’t look.

“That’s right.” Damien’s thumb stroked along her jaw, sending pleasure through her whole body. “I am your master. You will serve me and obey me.”

She dropped her eyes again.

“Look at me and say it.”

Oh, God. Anne shook her head. His grip on her chin tightened.

“Look at me and say it.”

She looked, while her heart dropped down and down until it hit the floor.

“You are my master. I will serve you and obey you.” Her voice was barely audible.

“That will do for now.” He bent his head and kissed her, his lips soft.

Another wave of pleasure washed over her. Something was surely wrong with her, if she could respond to him that way even while he enslaved her.

Father was right about me. I am a slut. A pathetic slut.

There was a soft metallic snick. Anne jumped. She’d been so lost in her thoughts she hadn’t noticed when Damien attached a leash to the ring on the collar. Just what she’d needed to complete her humiliation.

“Don’t be too hard on her, Damien,” the king said.

“Only what is necessary.” He returned his attention to her. “When we leave, you will walk behind me and on the left side.”

Anne nodded.

“Yes, take her home and get her settled,” King Night said. “I’m sure you have a lot to talk about.”

Damien gave him an abbreviated bow. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”

With a gentle tug, he led her from the room. She walked at his left side, a pace or two behind as directed. The position gave her an unobstructed view of his back side and the way the linen of his trousers clung to the muscles of his ass. As shamed as she was, she still itched to run her hands over the hard curves of his body.

Did he want her? He’d been angry at the King’s decision to give her to him. She would bet on it. Maybe all the years that had gone by had made an impassable breach between them.

What do you think, Anne? He’s leading you with a leash.

Damien took her down a broad, sweeping staircase. Demon Kin males climbed up and down, passing them with open and curious glances and even a few smiles. Anne saw them out of the corners of her eyes. She wouldn’t look at them.

They were looking at her, though. And everyone who saw her knew she was Damien’s sexual property, that he would take her home and fuck her. The realization gave her a shamed excitement, almost as if she wanted them to know. That couldn’t mean anything good.

“Well, Miss Slut, did you let him have you? Did he get between your legs?”

“No, Father.”

A scornful glance. “The Doctor will discover the truth.”

Miss Slut was her true name. Maybe she’d even known it ten years ago, although she hadn’t wanted it to be true. She’d wanted to be a good girl, had tried so hard to get Damien out of her blood, yet he wouldn’t leave.

They traversed a lobby floored in smooth, gray and white marble that felt cold beneath her feet. Ahead of them were glass doors leading to the sunbaked street, where more Demon Kin males walked or stood about talking, apparently impervious to the weather.

The doors slid open and they walked outside into a wall of heat and blinding light. The pavement of the sidewalk seared the soles of her feet, making her wince. She stepped gingerly on the balls of her feet and put a hand up to shield her eyes.

Damien strode along the sidewalk, oblivious to her pain. The leash tightened as she fell farther behind, then gave a jerk as it came up tight. Anne stumbled forward with a little cry.

He turned, scowling. “Don’t fight me.”

“I’m not.”

“I’m not, Master. Say it.”

She rocked from foot to foot. “I’m not, Master.”

“What’s wrong with you? Why are you doing that?” He glanced down at her feet, his tail flicking from side to side. “Where are your shoes?”

“I don’t have any.”

With an impatient growl, he stalked toward her and swept her into his arms. “You should have said something.”

She kept herself rigid in his grip, but his body surrounded her and pressed against hers anyway, hard and hot and uncompromising. The scent of him, exotic and faintly spicy, teased her nose. She began to tingle and ache in places she preferred not to think about.

Damien carried her into the shade of a long, narrow pavilion that bordered the street. A public float car swept up to the pavilion and stopped, its doors opening on a soft hiss. Demon Kin began to disembark from the transport. All of them were men, dressed in loose, colorful tunics and trousers.

Some of them smiled at her and Damien, and spoke to him in Malefican. Probably congratulating him on the acquisition of a slave. Damien answered them in the same language.

One, an older man with silver threaded through dark hair, stopped and put his hand on her calf, rubbing the tight muscle there. She jerked her leg away from him. He responded by cupping her breast in his hand and thumbing the nipple.

“Damien!”

“Be still,” her master said.

They chuckled together, their male condescension making her grit her teeth.

Then the exodus stopped, the older man went on, and Damien boarded the vehicle. He sat down in the a seat near the door, keeping her on his lap. The air inside was only slightly cooler than that on the sidewalk.

“You can put me down now,” she muttered.

“Be still.”

“I don’t want to sit on your lap.”

“And I want you here. Now be a good pet and be quiet.”

Anne glared at him. He looked back at her, cool, his lips slightly quirked upward as if in amusement. Once again, she dropped her gaze. What was the point in fighting him?

“You shouldn’t have let that man touch me.”

“He’s a friend. I was being polite.”

A man sitting behind them watched her, his face unreadable. Anne flushed. To these people, she was a despicable criminal who’d attempted to blow herself and hundreds of others to hell. She had no right to complain about her treatment. But inside, she simmered.

The transport sped off and Anne stared out the window to avoid looking at Damien. The buildings were all white-washed stucco or sun-bleached adobe. They bounced the harsh sunlight back into her eyes and sent sharp black shadows across the dusty pavement. Doors painted cobalt blue, fuchsia, viridian or scarlet punctuated the pale walls every so often, and thick wooden shutters covered every window.

The finer buildings boasted potted agaves, cactus, and desert palms at their gates and front doors. The dusty green hardly softened the hard surfaces of the city at all. Yet there was a strange beauty in its stark patterns of light and shadow, masonry and plants, blue sky and sandy ground.

They went down three blocks, turned a corner and sped another three blocks without stopping. On the way, they passed three boys playing some kind of game with dice or small bones. They couldn’t have been more than eleven or twelve years old, dressed in rags, squatting in the dust with their toys. One of the boys glanced at his friends and laughed, his face alight with youthful humor.

They looked so much like human children that her breath caught in her throat. She would have thought them human, if it hadn’t been for the horns on their heads and the tails curled around their haunches. Her children might look just like that, some day. Damien’s children.

Damien’s thighs were hard beneath her bottom, and the place between her legs throbbed relentlessly. Her body wanted more from him, wanted everything he hadn’t given her during the ceremony. Foolish body.

The transport stopped outside a tall building set slightly back from the street. Damien stood with her in his arms and left the vehicle to walk up the short, palm-lined path to the front door. A doorman stood there, under the shade of a generous arbor engulfed in scarlet and magenta flowered vines. He opened the door, bowing urbanely to Damien without so much as a glance at Anne.

Damien carried her through a generous lobby and set her on her feet in front of the lift. The floor here was some kind of stone, in a soft golden color. Its smooth, cool surface felt like balm on her bare soles.

Was this where he lived? She gave a surreptitious glance around the room before the lift doors opened. The ceiling had been painted to resemble the sky, with high, puffy clouds. A large chandelier dripping with rectangular crystals hung from the center of the ceiling, and two long benches, upholstered in cobalt-blue leather and flanked by lush potted palms, provided seating. The king must pay him well to be the court rapist.

The lift whisked them up nearly to the top floor. She followed Damien across a thickly carpeted landing to a carved door made of some kind of dark-colored wood. He pressed his palm to the ident-pad next to the door and it clicked open.

The foyer of his apartment was just as luxurious and beautiful as the lobby. It was floored in the same stone tile, and reminded her of the Malefican embassy back on Novus Vita, with its simple dark furniture and brilliantly hued walls and upholstery.

He closed the door. Anne clasped her hands in front of her and waited. He still had the other end of the leash in his hand. Would he beat her now? Would he punish her every day for her role in the bombing attempt? Did he believe she hadn’t known about it?

It doesn’t matter what he believes.

But she knew that wasn’t true. He was now her master. He could do whatever he wanted to her and there would be no-one to stop him.

Damien took the neckline of her dress in both hands and tore, popping buttons and rending the fabric all the way to her waist. She gasped. Her hands clutched the ripped dress together over her aching, naked breasts. He stalked around her and tore the back of the garment, this time all the way to the hem.

“Take it off.”

“It’s the only thing I have. It’s a proper, modest garment.”

“And you’re not a proper, modest woman, so you shouldn’t be wearing it.”

“You’re not the Damien I remember.”

He laughed harshly. “You and your family saw to that. Did you know your father had me beaten by a gang of thugs?” He pointed to the long scar on his face. “I have a souvenir.”

“I begged him to leave you alone.”

“Maybe you should’ve begged harder.”

“You seem to have done well for yourself in spite of it. You are the court rapist, after all.”

The look on his face made her regret her words instantly.

“Court whore is more like it.” Damien shoved the dress of her shoulders. “It hurts my eyes to look at it. Take it off.”

She released the fabric. The dress slid from her body into a crumpled heap on the floor. Damien smiled cruelly, his hand rising to cup her bare breast. He thumbed her nipple, which instantly cooperated by tightening to a hard and eager peak. Anne bit back a moan.

“Much better.” He pinched and released her flesh, causing a thrum of excitement through her body.

“I hate you.”

“The feeling is mutual, I assure you. Ah, but I have a duty to Belleren, to get children on you so our planet, our people, can survive. And I always do my duty.”

If Damien hated her, why had he carried her over the hot pavement? Maybe he simply didn’t want his valuable female slave damaged.

“The first thing you’re going to do,” he continued, “is take me in your mouth. In fact, you can start now.”

Chapter 5

Anne’s jaw dropped. Did he mean what she thought he meant? “I beg your pardon?”

“Get on your knees.”

“You want me to—”

“I want you to take my cock in your mouth and suck it until I come.”

Her traitorous pussy clenched even as she shook her head. “I can’t do that.”

“Yes, you can.”

“No!” She grimaced. “It’s disgusting.”

“You may find me disgusting, but I am your master and you will obey. Now get on your knees.” He put his hands on her shoulders and pressed.

She didn’t find him disgusting, she thought as she sank to the floor. He was sinfully beautiful, like a fallen angel. It was just the thought of putting his cock in her mouth . . . .

He put his mouth on you.

Damien loosened the tie on his waistband so that his trousers opened. His cock sprang out, already thick and engorged. His sac hung heavy beneath it. Anne lifted her hand to cup his balls in her palm.

They felt warm and oddly tender. Vulnerable. His breath hitched as she stroked the soft, wrinkled skin and dark gold hair that covered them.

“Lick me.” His voice was husky with need.

She grasped his cock, marveling at the steely core beneath hot satiny skin. His breath hitched again. Anne extended her tongue and gave the swollen head of his cock a firm swipe.

Damien moaned. “That’s it. Do that again.”

She repeated the action. There was a curious little slit in the tip. She licked it, too, working her tongue into it. He moaned again.

The floor was cold and hard under her shins. His hand rested on the crown of her head. Anne opened her mouth and took his cock inside. Was this what he wanted? She sucked on it and he groaned. Her pussy began an insistent ache, and she rolled her hips in an attempt to relieve it.

“Put your fingers around the base. That’s it. Now move them.”

He showed her how to stroke him with her hand while she suckled on the head of him. He tasted musky yet clean, the same way he smelled. The scent, the flavor of him, seemed to creep inside of her and make her desperate for even more. Her free hand came up, grasped the back of his thigh.

“Deeper. Take it deeper into your throat.”

She whimpered. How could she get it any deeper without choking herself? He urged her head forward, and she tried to make her throat as open as possible. His thick length slid farther into her.

“That’s right, Anne. Suck your master’s cock.”

She whimpered again as her pussy gave a desperate throb. It was wrong to like what he did to her, yet she couldn’t seem to help herself. Anne gave the head of him an extra-hard pull.

“Gods of Belleren, that’s good.” He broke off with a guttural phrase of Malefican.

Damien threaded his fingers through her hair, holding it back from her face. She glanced up to see him watching her suckle him, his eyes heavy-lidded and hot, his face a mask of male lust and domination.

“You are mine.” He growled. “My slave. Mine.”

His hips began to thrust against the movement of her hand and mouth. He groaned again, a desperate sound, and his fingers tightened in her hair. His hips jerked, he gasped, his cock pulsed in her mouth.

“Swallow,” he growled, as hot liquid squirted over her tongue.

Anne gulped it down. It tasted salty and slightly sweet as it ran down her throat. Not disgusting at all.

She glanced up at him. His face had lost its tense lines. For an instant he didn’t look angry at all, and his hand stroked her hair gently, as a lover would. Then he closed up, the hard mask slipping over his features.

He smiled bitterly. “You learn quickly.”

She released his cock from her mouth. Damien tucked it back into his trousers and fastened his waistband. Then he bent down and took her by the elbows, raising her up. He kissed her on the mouth, shoving his tongue in deep, mastering her all over again.

“Now we can go to the bedroom and I can finish what I started earlier.”

“But you just . . .” She blushed. “And I won’t have children if you keep doing what you just did.”

God, what was she saying? She ought to keep her mouth shut. Forever.

Damien laughed softly. “You want my children?”

Her face grew even hotter. “I—I don’t know.”

“Well.” He stroked her cheek with the backs of his fingers. “I needed to take the edge off my desire. Otherwise I might not be able to hold myself back, and I could hurt you.”

She blinked, her eyes widening. “You don’t want to hurt me?”

“No. Fool that I am, I don’t want to hurt you. And you have a very tight hymen, Anne, so it will take some time to get you ready for me.”

The butterflies in her stomach fluttered wildly. He was really going to take her and it was going to hurt no matter how careful he was. She’d been warned. Besides, he was huge. There was no way he could fit that thing inside her body without causing her pain.

Unfortunately, her pussy didn’t seem to understand, because it still ached and throbbed in ignorant longing.

Damien pointed down to the leash dangling from her collar. “Hand me your lead.”

She gave it to him. After what they’d just shared, he still wanted to lead her around like a dog, damn him anyway. He plunged further into the apartment without looking to see if she would follow. The leash went taut between them.

“Come,” he said.

* * *

Damien could barely hear her feet padding behind him as he led her to the bedroom. The sight of her on her knees, his cock in her mouth, had been one of the most erotic things he’d ever witnessed. Thinking of it now made him hard all over again, but at least he’d gotten some relief from his lust before he breached that hymen of hers.

The bedroom had an enormous bed with a canopy covered in gauzy white curtains—a traditional Bellerenic design. Now that he thought of it, it resembled the bed used in the Soul Opening. He’d never taken notice of that fact before since the style was so common all over Belleren. Would the resemblance make Anne more comfortable or less?

Who cares? She doesn’t need to be comfortable.

There was an angry, vengeful side of him that wanted to strike out at her and hurt her for what she and her family had done to him. But when he turned on his heel, a mocking smile in place, the look of apprehension in her wide gray eyes drained the anger right out of him.

Damien held out his hand. When she didn’t move, he began to draw in the leash, forcing her to him.

“You’re not afraid, are you, Miss Anne? You who tried to blow yourself and everyone around you to pieces.”

The muscles around her eyes tightened. “I didn’t know about that,” she said in a flat and quiet voice.

He continued to reel her in. “So you say. Are you scared?”

“Yes.”

“You don’t trust me.”

“You said you hated me. And anyway, I know it will hurt. It always hurts the woman.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Who told you that?”

“My mother.” She lifted her chin. “And my Teachers. I know what you’re going to do to me and I know it’ll hurt, so let’s just get it over with.”

He couldn’t help it. He laughed. “Is that what they tell all the girls on Novus Vita?”

Her face colored. “I imagine so. We tell our girls the truth so they’ll be prepared, instead of filling them with all kinds of dangerous nonsense that turns them into whores before they even have a chance to marry.”

She sounded so prim and upright that he laughed again. “Did you ever think there might be something wrong with Novus Vitan men that makes them bad lovers?”

The chin came up a little more. “Novus Vitan men do their duty before the Light. They don’t wallow in sinful excess.”

“Well, now we know what’s wrong with them. No wonder you’re afraid.” He indicated the mattress with a movement of his head. “Lie down.”

She went to the bed, her spine stiff and her movements awkward. He watched her climb up, breasts jiggling temptingly, and stretch out flat on her back, arms at her sides, eyes fixed on the canopy. As if she were waiting for an axe to fall on her neck. Or as if she were a sacrifice on the altar of some bloodthirsty god.

I think that’s you, Fallyn.

Damien followed, leaning over her to unclip the leash.

Her eyes met his. “Are you going to tie me?”

“Not unless you fight.” His cock twitched at the thought of chasing and subduing her. “Are you going to fight?”

“No.”

Damn. “Then there’s no need for restraints.” He crawled onto the bed as his tail began to sweep lazily back and forth.

She tensed even more, her fingers digging into the bedcovers. He settled beside her and ran his hand lightly over her breasts, then down across her belly. She was firmer than he’d expected, with toned muscles under her pale skin. He cupped a breast, lifting and molding the soft flesh.

Her breathing became fast and shallow.

“Relax, Anne. I said I wouldn’t hurt you.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can.” He made circles on her abdomen, using the flat of his hand. “You’re safe. We’re going to go slowly, until you get used to me.”

“Why?” She stared at him, her eyes going round. “Why would you do that for me?”

Damien shrugged. “What good would it do me to rush you? We’re going to be together for a long time.”

She stared at him, her expression gone unreadable. Probably wondering how many opportunities she’d have to murder him during all those years. She wanted to get the deflowering over with, and he might have obliged her if it weren’t for the unusual hymen she possessed.

He slipped his hand down her belly to her pubic mound. Her muscles tightened as his fingers delved between the tender lips of her sex. He pressed the heel of his hand against her mound, rubbing in slow circles. Her breath caught.

He slid his body downward and parted her legs. Anne complied easily, but she threw a hand over her eyes as if to deny what they were doing. He allowed her to hide from him. She needed it now, but eventually he would make her watch.

Spreading her with his fingers, he drank in the scent of her. Clean, fresh female. Aroused female. She already glistened with cream. Damien licked her center, letting the flavor of her juices fill his mouth. She gasped and quivered, so he did it again.

“Please don’t. Don’t do that.”

“Hush.” He began to tease her gently with lips and tongue, while he inserted the tip of his little finger into her opening.

She was so extraordinarily tight that he would surely have caused her awful pain if he’d taken her straight out. He worked his finger back and forth, stretching her delicate tissues. Anne gasped again.

Damien paused. “Did that hurt?”

“No,” she said breathlessly.

“Good.” He pushed the finger as far into her as it would go and used the heel of his hand against her mound to soothe its entry. “Do you like that?”

Her hips began to move subtly in counterpoint to his hand. “No.”

“Liar.”

Maybe she wasn’t aware of what she was doing. Damien switched to his forefinger, which drew a mewling sound from her throat and a downward jerk of her hips. Now she was trying to get away from him.

“It’s all right,” he murmured. “I’m just getting you ready for me.”

How many years had he dreamed of having her spread for him like this? Of tasting her, making her cry out his name, making her beg for more? But he’d never dreamed she would be a virgin when he took her the first time.

She had a hymen so complete that it was almost like the head of a drum, with just a couple of perforations to allow him access. He pushed his forefinger back into the larger of the two openings and pressed, pushing outward against its edges. Anne squirmed, panting.

“Do you like it now?” he said.

“N-no.”

He shoved the finger all the way in and crooked it against her inner walls. She cried out, but it was a cry of pleasure and not pain. He knew by the way she ground her hips against his hand.

“Say you like it, Anne.”

“Oh!” Her hips surged. “I like it!”

“That’s good. Good girl.”

He licked around the base of his finger where it entered her body, pressing outward again, stretching her. She moaned, long and low. Damien began to insert a second finger.

A few minutes later, he had her writhing on the bed and clutching the sheets, her lower lip swollen from biting it. Didn’t she know how much her cries delighted him? Maybe she did, and that was why she held them back.

Damien rose over her, his cock jutting straight out in its eagerness to be inside her. Anne’s gray eyes widened. She scuttled backward across the bed, panting, her thighs closing tight to keep him out.

“You’ll be all right,” he said. “We’ll take it slow.” He reached for her.

“Don’t!” She pressed herself against the headboard. When he once again reached out, she kicked at his hand. “I don’t want you to! No!”

Grabbing her by the ankles, he dragged her closer again.

“No, please. Please, I’m not ready yet.”

“I like the sound of your begging, slave, but you’re begging for the wrong thing.”

He forced her legs apart. She began to throw herself from side to side, until he laid on top of her to hold her still. With one hand he clasped her wrists above her head. With the other, he positioned his cock at the entrance of her cunt. Anne pinched her eyes closed, shutting him out.

He nudged his way into her. Gods of Belleren, she was still so tight. She made a strangled little sound and he paused to stroke her side, speaking softly in Bellerenic until she relaxed. Then he rocked his hips, pushing a little deeper. And a little deeper.

Anne kept her eyes pinched shut, closing her off from him. He trembled as he held himself over her, willing himself not to hurt her. Her lids lifted and she looked him right in the eyes.

“Will you just finish it?” she said in a cutting tone.

Damn her. “What’s wrong, love? Are you so impatient for me that you can’t wait?”

“I’m not your love. I’ll never love you.”

“Good.”

Damien worked himself a little deeper. Something flickered in her eyes. It didn’t look like defiance or hatred, especially when her lips softened and parted. He rocked his hips again, pushing his cock even farther inside her. A soft sound escaped her, almost a moan.

He plunged into her pussy, sheathing himself up to the hilt with a groan. She cried out and tossed her head back against the pillows.

“There. Now you have all of me,” he growled.

He held her down on the bedding as his hips began to push rhythmically against hers. Gods of Belleren, she was tight and wet and hot. His own little piece of paradise. Even though he’d come in her mouth a short time ago, his lust boiled up inside him and turned to ecstasy and he pounded her, helpless to stop himself from hurting her and not caring anymore if he did.

With every brutal thrust, she cried out. Her eyes rolled back in her head, and her mouth opened on a long, broken moan. She might be a bitch, but she was beautiful in her bliss.

All the sensation in his body focused down on the joy of his cock in her hot, tight little pussy and it was good, so good; he’d waited so long, forever, for this. His balls tightened, his back arched, and he exploded into her, his voice a rough shout of exaltation as his seed burst out of him in torrents.

Damien shuddered in the aftermath of his orgasm. He’d nearly lost control of the situation, which was not good. Anne’s eyes were closed again as if she couldn’t bear to look at him. Damn her for a lying, fanatical little bitch. She was the one who’d tried to kill people, for pity’s sake, and now she treated him like he was the criminal. The one who ought to be ashamed.

“You’re not a virgin anymore, darling.”

She said nothing.

He withdrew and levered himself off her. A smear of her blood decorated his now-shrunken cock. Anne turned her face toward the window, without opening her eyes. His momentary triumph drained away in the face of her indifference.

“I’m going to take a shower. I wouldn’t try to run if I were you. Other Bellerenic men won’t be as gentle with you as I am.”

“I’m not stupid,” she said without looking at him.

Chapter 6 

Anne stared at the sheer white curtains covering the window. In the bathroom, the shower came on. She wanted to cry, but for some reason the tears wouldn’t come.

She sat up and walked to the window, his ejaculate dripping out of her onto her thighs. Her heart ached, her throat ached, her pussy ached. She had tried so hard not to feel. But her slut nature asserted itself every time she looked at him, let alone when he touched her and kissed her and . . . all those other things he’d done to her.

Damien strode back into the room with an angry cadence and grabbed her by the wrist. “You’re showering with me.”

He dragged her unceremoniously into a luxurious bathroom. His grip on her was painful, and he walked so quickly she stumbled and he jerked her to her feet and kept going. At least he hadn’t seen the skin on her back, where she still bore the marks of her humiliation and punishment twelve years before.

The room contained an enormous bathtub, but it was dry. Next to it was a little glass-enclosed chamber, almost large enough to be an entire bathroom in itself. Shower heads protruded from the wall at various heights on two opposing marble-tiled walls.

He kept her imprisoned with one hand while he opened the glass shower door. With a flick of his wrist, Damien turned on the water. He adjusted the temperature briefly before entering the enclosure and pulling her in behind him.

“You don’t—I can bathe myself.”

He didn’t reply. Instead, he squirted some liquid soap into his palm from a dispenser mounted on the wall and began to rub it in languorous strokes over her breasts and under her arms. Water splashed down over her head, driving her hair into her eyes and blinding her.

Anne groped for the dispenser, meaning to take over the job of washing. But he only captured her hand and drew both arms over her head again, pinning her against the cold tile wall of the shower. Then he resumed washing her, without comment.

He went back for another squirt of the soap, then slid his hand impersonally into her crotch. Anne flinched away, trying to close her legs against him.

“No.” He forced her thighs apart with one hard knee.

“I don’t want—”

Damien shut her up with a hard kiss, forcing his tongue into her mouth in the same way as he forced his fingers between her legs. His cock, trapped between their bodies, began to lengthen again. He rolled his hips lazily against her belly.

Pulling an extendable showerhead from the wall, he aimed it at her pussy and rinsed all the soap away. Then he lifted one of her thighs and wrapped it around his waist. She had to come up on her toes to get her leg that high. Anne moaned her protest against his mouth, but he didn’t give her a chance to talk.

He shoved his now-rigid cock into her channel, pushing it deep into her. She made a choked cry against his kiss. His tongue thrust into her mouth at the same time as he gave her a long stroke of his sex. His free hand came around and grasped the curves of her butt.

Damien held her in a cruel grip as he rammed her over and over, his tongue fucking her mouth as his cock fucked her pussy. It hurt. And yet it excited her unbearably. She felt the growing storm gathering in her sheath, in her belly, tightening with greater and greater force until she broke apart, screaming.

He tilted his head back and roared, his thick blond hair like the mane of a lion. His fangs flashed under the brilliant light of the bathroom as his hips pounded hers. Anne sobbed, caught in the fury of another pleasure storm.

She’d never known anything like it. Never even imagined it. His big body trembled against hers as he groaned and filled her with more of his come. Was the pleasure she’d experienced just like his?

Damien’s movements slowed, then stopped, although he still shuddered in the aftermath. Anne shuddered, too, unable to hide how deeply he affected her. A stinging sensation flooded her eyes and she bit down hard on her lower lip to stop it.

He pushed the dripping hair from her eyes and gave her a lazy smile. “When I want to wash you, I’ll do it, slave.”

Anne glared at him.

“Ah-ah. That is not the look of a properly submissive slave.”

“Get used to it. You’re going to be seeing it a lot.”

He grinned. Somehow, the expression failed to reassure her.

“I can see I’m going to have to teach you some respect. But first, you will wash me. Then, dinner. Afterward, we’ll see how defiant you are when I spank you.”

Her mouth fell open. “What?”

“You heard me. Now put some soap on your hands and get to work.”

With an apprehensive sigh, Anne obeyed. She tried to keep her mind from dwelling on the smoothness of his skin, the warmth of him, hard muscle and bone and tender sex that could so easily punish and delight. But she couldn’t. She was filled with him, body and soul.

When they left the shower for the dining room, food awaited them on the table. A servant must have come in and left it while they were otherwise occupied. Had he listened to them? Heard Anne’s cries? She flushed hot all over again.

The food was simple fare, just some kind of meat and vegetable stew with fresh bread alongside. Wearing nothing but a pair of trousers, Damien portioned it into a couple of bowls, setting them on the table with a jug of red wine he brought from the kitchen.

He pulled out a chair and sat down, without a stitch of clothing on. With one hand, he held the leash. He pointed at the floor next to him. “Kneel.”

Anne blinked at him. “I beg your pardon?”

“A fine beginning. However, I require your obedience. Kneel.”

She stared at him until he gave the leash a tug downwards. Anne dropped to her knees. He smiled unpleasantly at her before turning to his food.

Anne watched him eat. The stew smelled delicious and her stomach rumbled. He’d eaten almost the entire bowl and half the bread before he seemed to remember her. Giving her a sidelong glance, he dipped up some stew and held the spoon in front of her mouth.

“Eat.”

She was too hungry to argue. She opened her mouth and took the bite he offered. It tasted spicy, unfamiliar, but good. When she’d swallowed it, she licked her lips. Damien scooped up another bite, holding it out to her. Next he tore off a small hunk of bread and placed it between her lips.

Then he took up his wine goblet and held it to her mouth, tipping it. She let the cool, tangy liquid fill her mouth and roll down her throat, easing her thirst. He looked pensive, distant, as he watched her take his offerings one by one from his fingers.

When they’d finished, he wiped her mouth with his napkin and rose to his feet. The leash tugged delicately at her neck. Anne got up. She reached for the stew bowl, thinking to take it into the kitchen.

“No.” Damien stopped her. “I have a housekeeper for that.”

“Where is she?”

He is probably in his room behind the kitchen, minding his own business. He’ll take care of the cleaning up. Your job is to serve me personally.”

She dropped her head. “I see.”

“I think you’re beginning to. Come.” He walked away, confident that she would follow him like an obedient dog. And she did.

Once in the bedroom, he closed the door behind them. He walked toward one of the big, overstuffed chairs on one side of the room. The lights flickered and went out, sinking the room into blackness. Anne gasped.

“It’s all right.” His voice sounded even and sure. “It’s just a power outage. We get them all the time nowadays.”

He pulled her across the room, still on the leash. Rustling and rattling sounds followed. Then a small, golden glow penetrated the dark. He’d lit an emergency light.

Damien set the light on the top of a bureau. He returned to the sitting area and sank into a generous armchair. She hesitated, pulling the leash to its full length. Damien used it to force her closer. When she got within arm’s reach, he grabbed her and lifted her face down on his lap.

“Hey!” She struggled without thinking.

He controlled her easily with one hand and delivered a stinging slap to her butt with the other. It hurt. Anne cried out, wriggling in an effort to get off his lap.

“It’s time you learned who is the master in this household.”

“I know who is the master!”

Damien smacked her hard on one ass cheek, making a sharp cracking sound as skin struck skin. It burned.

“Ow! Stop it!”

“If you’re still arguing with me, you obviously have no idea who is the master.”

He smacked her again, this time on the other cheek. “This is what happens when you behave disrespectfully to me.”

Crack! Anne squeaked. He began to spank her in a regular rhythm, first one cheek and then the other, while the burn in her flesh grew and grew and she whimpered and jerked at each strike. Each roll and sway of her hips ground her pubis against his thigh and sent a warm flush of pleasure through her.

She hadn’t been spanked since she was a child. But she had been beaten, severely and often, for several years of her life. This was nothing compared to what she’d endured then. Nothing but love taps.

In spite of that, or maybe because of it, she wanted to shrivel up and disappear so Damien would never see her again.

He paused to pinch the burning globes of her ass. Anne panted, trying to push off his lap. Damien smacked her again, hard enough to bring tears to her eyes. She subsided, waiting, the energy for fighting drained out of her.

He shoved her down and pinned her with his forearm before sliding his free hand between her ass cheeks and running a finger along her creamy slit. Her pussy was sore from his earlier use, and yet a tremor of excitement followed everywhere he touched her.

“Oh! Don’t.” She wriggled even harder.

“You’re wet, my slave. You want me to fuck you again, don’t you?”

“No!”

He pushed a finger inside her pussy. “Yes, you do. That’s what all this sweet cream is for.” Damien withdrew his finger and shoved it into her mouth. She whimpered against the strange, sharp flavor of her own sex.

Freeing his hand, he used it to smack her on the ass. “I am your master.” Smack! “Say it.”

“Oh! You are my master.”

Smack! “You are my slave. Say it.” Smack!

“I am your slave.”

Smack! “Will you speak disrespectfully to me again?”

“No. Please, stop. You’re hurting me.”

He chuckled. “That’s the idea.” And gave her two more cracks on the butt.

Her ass felt like it was on fire. Damien stopped hitting her and rubbed the sore skin. “You look so tempting bent over my lap like this. What do you think I should do next?”

“I-I don’t know.”

“I think I should fuck you. What do you say to that?” He continued massaging her ass.

She didn’t want him to keep hitting her, regardless. Her pride couldn’t take much more. If he continued to spank her, she would start crying like a little girl.

She was going to do it. She was going to capitulate. But only with her words, never in her heart.

Anne closed her eyes. “W-whatever you like, Master.”

“What a lovely answer, slave. Get down on your hands and knees.”

She scrambled off his lap and got on all fours on the cold tile, trembling. Damien stroked her from her nape to her ass cheeks.

“Good. Lean down on your elbows and put your ass in the air.”

More humiliation, yet she obeyed. He pushed her thighs farther apart. In this position, her sex was completely displayed to him, the cooling evening air swirling over the damp folds. She tingled with the knowledge that he was looking at her most private place.

Anne suppressed a sudden desire to arch her back and push her ass even higher in invitation.

“I love the way you look from behind.” Kneeling behind her, he leaned down to taste the slippery flesh.

She gasped.

Then he touched a super-sensitive part of her with a gentle finger. “This is the head of your clit.” He drew the finger along one side of her opening. “You have special tissues all along both sides of your pussy that swell with blood when you’re excited. Your clit,” he wiggled his finger, making her jerk at the sharp delight, “is like the head of my cock. It’s where the pleasure is concentrated.”

“S-should I take notes?”

Damien kissed the small of her back, then licked her pussy again. “If it helps.”

He mounted her, shoving himself inside her in one hard stroke. Anne cried out and he groaned at the same time. So hot, so thick, the position forcing him far deeper into her body than the one he’d used before. His cock seemed to press on every part of her insides, on secret places she’d never known she had.

“Please,” she moaned. Damn it, shut up, Anne.

Damien held himself still inside her, hands on her hips. “Please, what?”

Anne shook her head.

“Please, what, slave? Say it. Tell me what you want.”

She only shook her head again.

Damien reached around to tease her clit with his forefinger. She tilted her head back with a broken cry. He removed his hand.

“What do you want?”

“No.”

He teased her a second time. The pleasure spiked, forcing her to rock her hips against his hand. But he withdrew again.

“Tell me what you want.”

Her fingers pressed hard against the floor tile. “I want you to do it to me.”

“Do what?” He flexed his hips. “That?”

“Yes!” She tried to push back against him, but he prevented her with a firm grip on her hips.

“Say the word, Anne. Tell me you want your master to fuck you.”

“You really are the spawn of the devil,” she muttered under her breath.

“I heard that.” He slapped her hip lightly. “Do I need to give you another spanking?” Damien flexed his hips again and gave them a twist for emphasis.

“Oh, God! Fuck me, master, please!”

That was it. She’d just volunteered to degrade herself.

He laughed darkly. “That’s what I want to hear.”

With a triumphant groan, he worked his cock slowly out of her, then back in, keeping her still and passive. All the way out, then all the way in, the slippery glide of his cock in her aching sheath making her writhe. Anne knew she wasn’t supposed to show a response, but she couldn’t remember why.

The pleasure had taken over, erasing every other thought from her mind. Damien’s breath roughened as he sped up the pace. She rocked back against his every thrust, crying and moaning in thoughtless ecstasy, her breasts jiggling against the cold floor, his pelvis slapping into hers. She had become an animal.

Sharp pulses of bliss exploded through her body and she screamed. Damien gave a loud growl. His breath caught and his fingers tightened on her hips. He shoved into her again, two fast hard thrusts, and then he stilled as a broken moan issued from his throat and his hot come filled her.

She came back slowly from the animal place. Damien picked her up, still seated inside her body, and carried her to the bed where he stretched out with her, his thick arm around her waist. His breath came fast, blowing the strands of her hair. After a moment, he drew the long strands away from her neck and kissed her there, right above the collar.

Anne put her hands over his, clasping him to her. If only they could stay this way forever, and forget about war and slavery and betrayal.

Chapter 7 

They dozed for a while in the dim glow of the emergency light. Then Damien withdrew from her body and rose from the bed. She watched as he went into the bathroom. Water began to run heavily. Anne got out of bed, careful not to get any of his come on the bedcovers.

The leash still dangled from her collar. Damien poked his head around the edge of the door and beckoned to her. She could fight him, but she’d still be a slave. Even if she ran for the door, even if she managed to get out of the building, the first man she saw would snatch her up and use her, perhaps more brutally than Damien ever would.

She went to him. He bend down to grab the leash, but instead of using it to pull her, Damien unclipped it. He balled it up in one big hand.

“Time for a soak.” He led her into the bathroom, laying the leash on the counter. Another emergency light illuminated the smaller room.

Anne glanced up at him. His face had lost most of its anger and tension. He looked so much like the Damien she remembered that it made her heart ache.

“We already had a shower,” she said.

“Your pussy will heal faster and feel better if you soak. I put something in to help you.”

An herbal scent emanated from the steaming water. Anne poked her toe into it, finding it hot but not unbearably so. “How is it hot when the power is out?”

“We have a solar water tank on the roof.”

She got in, her mouth opening in surprise when Damien joined her.

The tub was more than big enough for the two of them. He sat behind her, pulling her back to recline against his chest and belly, his hands splayed over her abdomen.

His tail floated in the water along the side. The puff decorating the forked tip was a darker russet, similar to the color of her own hair. In the water, it looked almost black. What would he do if she took it into her hand and petted it?

She didn’t have the nerve.

Instead, she rested her hand on top of his, the ache in her heart growing deeper and sharper. She had loved him once, and part of her still did. That part wanted to confess everything to him, beg him for forgiveness and understanding. Beg him for love.

Anne opened her mouth. The words refused to leave her throat. He would scorn her, laugh at her, refuse to believe her.

Do you really think you deserve his forgiveness?

The strange thought made her breath catch. She’d deliberately set out to harm his world and his people by working for the Army of God. She knew that, accepted it. Yet until today she’d never thought of her actions as evil or reprehensible. She was a patriot of Novus Vita.

King Night had made her feel a twinge of guilt this afternoon, but nothing like what flooded her at the moment. The familiar stinging rose up in her eyes so suddenly she had no defense against it, and tears flowed down her face.

“Are you crying?” he said gruffly.

“No.” She sniffed.

“Yes, you are.” Damien released the valve on the bathtub.

He stood up and lifted her from the water, grabbing a thick towel and wrapping it around her dripping body. Throwing a second towel over his shoulder, he carried her back to the bed and laid her down.

After a brisk rub-down of his body, he climbed in after her and snugged himself up against her back. His arm wrapped around her, as before, hugging her tightly to him. She burrowed her face into the towel that still covered her, forcing the tears back with the strength of her will.

“Is it finally sinking in that you’re a slave?”

She didn’t answer. Let him think what he wanted. The truth would only earn his scorn or pity, and she didn’t want either.

He gave a heavy sigh. “It won’t be so bad, Anne. I won’t mistreat you.”

Putting a collar on her neck wasn’t mistreatment?

“I’ll keep you fed and dressed, surrounded by luxury, and well-pleased in bed. You’ll have a better life than you would if you’d stayed on Novus Vita.”

Her continuing silence earned another sigh from him.

“All right. Have it your way. Tomorrow we’ll go shopping for your basic needs, so try to get some sleep.”

* * *

In the morning, Damien wished he’d taken his own advice. Of course, he tried to sleep, but he wasn’t accustomed to sharing his bed and the fact that his sleeping partner was Anne Paulsen kept him awake far into the night. He kept trying to justify his treatment of her, his keeping her as a slave, and coming up short.

Night had given her to him. And she had committed a crime. But it didn’t feel like enough, somehow, to excuse enslaving her.

The soft, early light lingered on the planes of her face and the long silky lashes of her eyes. She had dark circles under them, but for now she slept. Her sweet, full breasts were nestled against her arm. He caressed the curve of her body where her waist dipped in and then flared out into her hips, using a delicate touch to avoid waking her.

The love he’d lost and thought never to regain had returned to him, and it was his duty to punish her. The gods ever had a perverse sense of humor.

The truth was, dominating and spanking her had given him the hardest cock he’d ever had. And she liked it, judging by the creaminess of her pussy. But play was one thing, real slavery something else. It was only the second day, and already it tasted bitter.

Her eyes opened. For a moment she regarded him with a kind of wonder, as if she hadn’t expected to see him and was glad. Then wariness returned to her face, and she shrank back from him.

Her change of mood cut him. He frowned. “Time to get up and get to work.”

“What does that mean?”

“We have some shopping to do before we can leave town.” He sat up, running his fingers through his hair.

“We’re leaving?”

“Some friends of mine are getting married and we’re going to the wedding.”

Damien went to his closet and pulled out some underwear, a pair of sandals and an ankle-length tunic that had belonged to his former lover, Julia. He threw the whole thing at Anne.

“Put that on. We’ll get you some things of your own while we’re out.”

She sat up, looking at the garments doubtfully. Then she drew them on without a word, covering those luscious curves. Unfortunately it did nothing to calm his raging lust.

He could have her, right now. Whenever and wherever he wanted. But there were errands to run before they could leave, and he didn’t want to disrespect his friends by dressing his slave in hand-me-downs at their wedding.

You’re fooling yourself again, Fallyn. You just don’t want to admit you could spend all day and night doing nothing but making love to a woman who betrayed you.

Making love? It wasn’t making love; it was fucking, plain and simple. There was no love involved. Maybe he should have that tattooed on his forearm, so he could remind himself hourly.

When they were dressed, he took her down the street to a small café for breakfast. They took a table in the back, for privacy, yet Anne still drew stares from the otherwise entirely male customers. It made Damien want to snarl over his scrambled eggs.

Anne pulled her chair closer to his, so close their bodies touched. “Why are they staring at me?”

“You’re the only woman in here. Probably the only woman they’ve seen in months if not years.”

“So it’s not because of who I am?” She said that last while staring at her plate, as if she couldn’t bring herself to meet his eyes. Was she ashamed of what she’d done?

“No, I don’t think so.”

Anne nodded silently, and took another bite of her food.

When they left the café, they attracted even more attention. Some of the restaurant patrons followed them into the glaring outdoor sunlight—a table of young men who’d been staring at Anne throughout the meal. A block after leaving the café, three more young thugs joined the first crew.

He should have known this would happen. Bellerenics were highly sexual beings, even more sexual than humans, and the men of his world had been deprived of their women for too long. Some had turned to other men for comfort, but that would only satisfy a segment of the population. The rest were starving for women.

A man loitering in the shadow of an old adobe building across the street caught a glimpse of Anne and turned to stare, shielding his eyes against the glare for a better view. His mouth fell open as he looked at her. Damien stiffened, his jaw clenching hard.

Anne shrank against Damien’s side as the gawker started toward them from across the dusty street. Shit. He slung an arm around her shoulders and placed his other hand on the butt of the flechette holstered on his right hip.

He steered her around a corner, heading away from the new arrival and back toward his apartment building. Retreat was the wisest plan now.

“Hey!” called one of the men. “She’s pretty. Where did you get her?”

Damien kept walking, but his tail began to lash.

“I said, where did you get her?” The cub sounded belligerent as he caught up with them.

“She was presented to me by the king.” Damien gave the other man a warning stare. “She’s mine.”

The fellow’s companions crowded around them, jostling. One of them lifted a lock of Anne’s hair, rubbing it between his fingers. He grinned down at her, making a display of his fangs.

“You like Demon Kin, pretty girl?” His Galactic Standard was laced with a heavy Bellerenic accent.

Anne refused to look at him.

By now, they’d made it half way back to Damien’s building. His heart raced, his blood pumping fast in anticipation of a fight. He didn’t want to shoot any of these young fools, but he would if he had to.

“What would you take for her?” the first one said.

“She’s not for sale.”

“Come on. Just once.”

The man with the accent grinned wolfishly. “I want a turn with her.”

Damien growled. “No.”

“We all want a turn!” yelled someone behind them.

Everyone laughed except Anne and Damien. Heavy Accent grabbed her by the hand, trying to drag her away from him. She cried out. Damien drew the flechette and pointed it at the offender.

Heavy Accent threw up his hands, his deeply-tanned face gone ashen. “Don’t shoot. I meant no offense.”

The others backed off as Damien turned to face them, the flared muzzle of the flechette glinting evilly in the sunlight.

“This woman belongs to me. She is not a whore. She is not for sale. Is that understood?”

The men nodded. Some looked angry and resentful, some embarrassed. Damien drew Anne close to the stucco wall of the building and began to back away from the crowd of harassers. Her arm snaked around his waist and held on tight.

“Anyone comes within three meters, I’ll shoot.”

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