Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Paranormal, Science Fiction Erotic Romance, Shapeshifter
Lee drank more of the wine and looked around her. “Matron, where are the other young women?”
Halio looked nervous. “What do you mean, Alpha?”
“I mean that there are sixteen places set at this table, but only nine girls came to the gathering. Where are the other seven?”
The matron looked even more nervous. “They were told that they had to remain in the maidens’ quarters. They are not convinced that a woman could be an Alpha, and they were slightly hostile. Alpha Ozwin suggested that they not attend if they couldn’t be polite.”
Lee finished her wine and got to her feet, her head spinning. “I am going to have a word with them. Today is a day for introducing myself, and they are not going to be left out.”
The matron grabbed her arm, and without thinking, Lee growled at her. The woman dropped back and lowered her gaze.
Lee lifted her head, scenting the air and moved quickly through the crowd toward the maidens’ quarters. Anger and dissatisfaction were actually something she could sense. She waved the guard at the door to one side, and the male nodded, allowing her entry.
The main room on the base floor was littered with young Keymin women sitting on the lounging furniture and speaking in low tones.
“Ladies. We have not been introduced.” Lee waited as the women took in her appearance, her hair and the pale colour of her eyes. “I am Alpha Lee.”
The women shifted, and in Lee’s mind, a pattern emerged. They were gathering for a pack attack, and Lee’s new programming recognized it.
She hauled in a deep breath and roared, it reverberated through the room and echoed outward. Six of the women paused, leaving a young woman with ice blue eyes glaring at her.
“It was supposed to be me.” The young woman growled, and her teeth shifted into fangs while her hair slicked back along her skull. She embraced her beast in the centre of the maidens’ common room, and it left Lee with only one action.
Instead of the drawn-out shift of the younger woman, Lee shifted in seconds. She waited for the attack.
The young woman did not leave her waiting long but lunged at her, snapping and snarling. The other ladies scattered.
Lee’s beast calmly stepped to one side, swatted the younger creature down and held her on the floor until she stopped squirming. Unable to avoid it, Lee closed her teeth on the beast’s neck, holding her firmly in place.
A minute went by before the young woman shifted back into her normal shape. Lee immediately released her and returned to her own regular form.
The young woman knelt with her head down. “I am sorry, Alpha. I should not have doubted what you were.”
Lee sighed, “We both know you wanted Ozwin.”
“Yes, Alpha, I did. I was the strongest of our generation. There was no other logical choice.”
“Until I spoiled everything.”
“You were not at fault, Alpha. It was the one who clawed you who was at fault. Frankly, I was not expecting you to be so tall.” The woman peeked up and smiled slightly.
Lee grinned. “What is your name, beta?”
“Sakiana. It was my brother that clawed you, and that I will never forgive him for.” There were genuine tears in her eyes.
“Ah, Sakiana, when something is meant to happen, it just happens. I am a badge for the colony. If it weren’t your brother, it would have been another teen on a run through the area around town. I have seen shifted Keymin before, and each time, my life flashed before my eyes. Now, it will simply run through my mind with a battle plan.” Lee lifted the young woman to her feet.
Shock was on the features of the women in the room. Sakiana asked, “You aren’t staying?”
Ozwin’s voice came from the doorway. “She is contracted as the badge for the colony. Until they release her from her contract, she is theirs. However, if they don’t enjoy her new talents as a Keymin, she will be free to return.”
Lee smiled and patted the Sakiana’s cheek. “Don’t fret too much. You might still have a shot. As for the rest of you, I trust that I have settled your doubts?”
The other women nodded.
Lee turned her back and walked toward Ozwin. She felt the change in the air behind her, turned and flipped Sakiana to her back on the floor, pressing her knee into the woman’s chest.
“You have dishonoured our Alpha.” She growled, squirming on the floor.
Lee looked to Ozwin. “Have I dishonoured you?”
He grinned, “Considering that I had to cuff you first, I would say that I take full responsibility for what happened between us.”
Lee’s body heated at his look. She glanced down to the stunned Sakiana. “Did you hear that? No dishonour.”
Sakiana was in shock. “Cuffs?”
“When you are a big, fluffy thing and you find another fluffy thing to love, you will understand why sometimes a little light restraint can make the sex easier and reduce the bloodshed.”
The young woman’s eyes were still as wide as saucers.
Lee shook her head. “If I come back, I will answer any questions you might have. This is hardly the time, and I have to call in to dispatch.”
Ozwin extended his hand and lifted Lee to her feet. He wrapped an arm around her and made a short, sharp barking sound that sent the girls scrambling up the steps and to their rooms.
“What was that?”
“It was an admonition for them to stay in their rooms for a day. The matron is with her charges, but she wishes to speak to you before we rest.”
His change of topic caught her off guard. “Why does she want to talk to me?”
“I believe that she wanted to warn you that some of the maidens were not very keen on my taking a mate from outside our settlement. Though, if they paid attention in classes, they know that our birthrate is demanding that we start to look outside the settlement. We don’t want to court inbreeding.”
His hand was on her lower back, his fingers touching the base of her spine.
She wanted to lean back into his grasp and shook her head. “That wine must be hitting me harder than I thought.” She licked her lips. “Are you keen on taking a mate outside the settlement?”
He smiled, “I am keen on taking you whenever and wherever. If I have to commute until your contract is over to continue to persuade you, I will.”
It was part threat, part promise and the sexiest thing that Lee had ever heard.
Entering Ozwin’s house, Lee had a blush on her face that she couldn’t shake.
“I can’t believe that you said that to the matron.”
He chuckled and moved his hand over her spine in the slow caress that he had been engaged in during her whole conversation with Halio. She didn’t remember any of it thanks to the gentle touch. She did, however, remember that he had excused them with the explanation that he had to take care of her heat before she started to hunt for a fuck, and he had to kill the other male.
“It seemed appropriate. The matron was not going to let you go otherwise.” He pressed a soft kiss to her shoulder, nipping gently. “Also, it was true. Your scent had been increasing in strength for hours.”
“Yes, and it reached a peak when you roared at the maidens. The whole gathering was shocked by the strength of your voice.” He stroked her ribs and cupped the underside of her breasts. “It was quite the turn on.”
She sighed, “It is the enormous ribcage that comes with this huge body of mine.”
He turned her in his arms. “You are perfect for me. Never think otherwise. The average woman of my race is far too short.” His grin was sincere.
“Would you have mated with Sakiana if I hadn’t gotten clawed?”
He nodded. “Probably. She is the strongest female in the colony. There was no reason not to choose her…until you arrived. Now, I cannot imagine how lucky I am at my narrow escape.”
She shuddered and raised her face to his, seeking a kiss. The inner compulsion was growing stronger as they remained close together, but she wanted gentleness before passion kicked in.
He gave her what she needed, cupping her face in his hands as their mouths met and caressed each other. When he lifted his head, his lips were shining. “Don’t you have to call your dispatcher?”
She leaned her forehead against his chest and sighed. “Yes.”
He took her by the hand and tugged her to his room. He passed his hand over a spot on the small desk, causing a small door to pop upward out of the wood. Her com unit was inside.
Ozwin went into the lav and left her alone to make her call.
“Dispatch? This is Badge Ryan.”
“Lee, oh thank goodness, I was getting worried, and they are forcing me to take a rest day.”
“I am well, recovering and adapting.”
“Good. I haven’t heard from the council today, but they were making their decision this afternoon.”
Butterflies flickered in Lee’s stomach. “They didn’t tell you of their decision?”
“No. Are you sure you are fine?”
“I am well, healthy and even have a new dress.”
“A dress? Oh, damn. I am sorry that I am missing that.”
Lee grinned. “I know. There will never be any proof. It will remain a mystery of the universe.”
“I hope to see you soon, Lee. The replacement that they are bringing in is not even close to your league.”
Lee’s stomach filled with lead. “Replacement?”
“They had to bring in a new badge while you were incapacitated. There is a bit of a problem in the colony, and the duty officers are useless.”
Lee closed her eyes. “Of course. Right. Well. I hope that Teenath has some information when I check in tomorrow.”
“Have a good night, Lee. You sound like you need it.”
The com went dead, and Lee numbly walked back to the small, hidden panel and put it back.
Ozwin returned and looked at her expression, then caught her up in a hug. “What is it?”
She drew a shaking breath and spoke clearly. “They have requested my replacement, and he is on route. My place is gone.”
He lifted her chin on his fingers. “Your place is here. You can be a badge here just as well as at the colony. We are smaller, but there is still petty theft and matters of security that you can handle on a day-to-day basis.”
She smiled weakly. “Isn’t that your job?”
“If you do that, I can concentrate on the expansion of the settlement, including putting in for new colonists who are compatible with the Keymin nanites.”
She knew the answer but asked, “You can find folks to volunteer to be changed?”
“By the hundreds. The nanites will be drawn from the young men and injected into the candidate. They will be watched closely as they make the change.”
She chuckled. “Like I was.”
“I have to confess, I was looking at you for my peace of mind as well as your transformation. A woman like you is unusual enough, but to have you arrive in the precise place and time when I needed a mate is beyond coincidence and sneaking into destiny.”
She cupped his neck and stroked her hands up through his hair. She flicked the tips of his ears and grinned. “You believe in destiny?”
His hands gripped her ass and lifted her against him. “I believe in fate. Well, I do now. You are one of a kind, and now, you are one of my kind. We will make a place for you here if one does not come easily.”
She shifted, caressing the erection beneath his clothing with the slow slide of her belly. “Speaking of coming easily…”
The innuendo was all he needed. Ozwin lifted her with his grip on her buttocks, and he flung her to the bed.
The small surge of adrenaline woke the beast inside her, and she was up on her knees in the confining gown in seconds. She snarled at him, and he made a low huffing noise.
She tried to move, but the blue ruffles bound her legs, and he was on her in seconds.
She fought him, biting, clawing and snarling as he fought her arms back into the cuffs. The click was unmistakable, and instead of calming her, it enraged her.
The sign of her rank and position was being used to hold her back, and that rank and position was being taken. She bucked and writhed against him until he pinned her down with his body.
He held her tight, nuzzling her throat until the first sob broke. When she started to cry, he stroked her body through the gown, over and over, until she relaxed and just let the tears fall.
When she calmed, he kissed her fiercely, tangling his tongue with hers, sucking lightly before working his way down her throat.
His hands curled in the neckline of her gown, and he tore it down the center. He sheared the shoulder straps in a matter of two tugs, and he moved down her body, pulling and tugging her clothing from her until all she wore were the cuffs and hairpins.
She sniffled with a smile, “You are going to have to stop shredding my gowns.”
He laughed, “And you are going to have to stop fighting me at every turn. If you do one, then I will do the other.”
Lee sighed and watched him strip. One day he wouldn’t set her off, and she would be the one unlacing, unbuckling and unbuttoning him into nudity. For now, all she could do was lie back and enjoy the show.
When he parted her ankles and knelt between them, she came to the conclusion that Ozwin had a different plan for this particular mating.
He lay on his belly between her spread thighs and inhaled deeply. “Did you know that all Keymin males are taught that the day they find a woman of their own, they will be free to enjoy her body as she enjoys his?”
Lee’s skin was waiting for his touch. “No, I was unaware of that.”
“It is true. We are taught to look forward to pleasing our mate, knowing that once she bonds to us completely, her pleasure will be ours.”
“Oh, you mean…mentally.”
He grinned and parted her folds with his thumbs. “If you say so.”
It appeared he was done talking, and she was fairly sure of that as his mouth took on the duty of lapping, sucking and caressing her sex.
A low moan took her over as her mind focussed on the feel of his tongue sliding into her again and again. Lee spread her thighs wider and let her breath come faster and faster as her body tightened under the grip of pleasure. She felt the sharp blades of his teeth pressing against her, and as he moved his attention to her clit, she shot over the edge, bucking against him.