Enslaved (Brides of the Kindred Book 14) (8 page)

BOOK: Enslaved (Brides of the Kindred Book 14)
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“I’m
her mate,” Thrace
growled again, wanting to get the point across. “And I’m here to ‘effect the
transaction’ as you keep saying.”

“What?”
the Lud’om blustered, spraying bits of slime on the black grass table. “But
Trin stated she had no mate!”

“She
never said that. She said she didn’t have one
with
her. But here I am.” Thrace grinned, really enjoying the
look of fury on the lumpish, oozing face of his opponent. The look on Trin’s
face was equally amusing. She looked like she wanted to say something but
wasn’t quite sure how to say it.

Or
maybe she was just about to lose consciousness. The bastard with the steel
teeth had put no less than three passion berries in her wine—enough for a
person three times her size. Thrace
only wished he’d been able to knock it from her hand before she took the first
drink but he’d wanted to hang back in the shadows and hear what was going on.
He’d told himself that he would just watch and listen—and if she wasn’t in
trouble, he would simply go get
The
Empress
out of dry dock and leave her alone forever.

So much for
that
plan,
he thought grimly, trying to keep an eye
on B’Rugh and his weird second in command at the same time. The male with the
steel teeth had sidled around behind his boss and was looking at both him and
Trin as if they were interesting exhibits in a zoo. There was something not
right about that son of a bitch…something not quite
sane,
Thrace
thought.

“But
this is impossible,” B’Rugh blustered. “You cannot be Trin’s mate.”

“I
most certainly am. Aren’t I, baby?” He looked down at her, giving her an
encouraging smile. Would she play along?
She’d
better if she wants to get out of here in one piece with that pretty pile of
crystals!

Trin
was still looking up at him, probably wondering how he’d gotten loose in the
first place and what he was doing here aboard the Demon’s Eye. But finally, she
nodded in confirmation.

“Yes,
Thrace
is my…mate.”

“You
told me that your people did not allow penetration by males!” B’Rugh accused
her. “You sited it as your main objection to taking me as a temporary mate.”

“I
highly doubt that was her
main
objection,”
Thrace
said dryly. “But just to let you know, there are a hell of a lot more things
you can do with a female besides just penetrate her. If you don’t know that by
now, you’ve got less going for you than I thought. Now…” Reaching around Trin,
he scooped up the handful of golden cred-chip coins and held them out across
the table. “How about making that deal?”

“I…I
never…” B’Rugh tried to protest.

“You
said you wanted to do the deal and only Trin’s lack of a mate was stopping
you,” Thrace
reminded him steadily. “Yet when her mate shows up, you try to go back on your
word?” He shook his head. “That doesn’t look too good, B’Rugh. Especially not
to the Elders of your Tribe.”

Though
the Lud’om was a feared and hated criminal, Thrace knew that the crime lord
would still be bound by the mores of his people. One of which dictated that a
deal, once offered, must
always
be
honored.

B’Rugh
seemed to know when he was beaten.

“Very
well,” he burbled brusquely. Scooping up the sack of crystals, he held them out
to Thrace
who took the sack and handed over the stack of coins.

“Thank
you.” He checked the crystals, nodded politely, and put a hand under Trin’s
slim elbow to help her up. “Come on, baby—let’s go,” he muttered.

Trin
didn’t move.

At
first he thought she was resisting him—then he realized she was still under the
effects of the drugged wine and probably about to pass out. He lifted her by
main force and helped her stand. Her eyes were partially glazed as she nodded
her goodbyes to B’Rugh and his strange second in command. Then Thrace
hustled her out the triangular doorway as quickly as he could.

It
was time to get the hell out of here.

* * * * *

“Stay
on your feet and don’t fall down,” the big Havoc muttered in her ear as he half
carried, half dragged Trin down the wide metal walkway. “I can’t carry you
yet—the bastards around here will see it as weakness and be on us like a pack
of wild ferals.”

“I’m…trying,”
Trin slurred, stumbling along beside him. The tingling and numbness in her
mouth had become an odd, lightheaded feeling that made her feel extremely weird
and strangely relaxed at the same time.

In danger—we just crossed the most
notorious crime lord in the galaxy and we’re in terrible danger—
screamed
a little voice inside her head. But it seemed muffled and faint…unimportant
even though Trin knew it was pretty damn serious.

She
was aware that the thugs who had watched her first passage down this corridor
were back. Their eyes gleamed from the shadows and a couple of them looked like
they would have liked to challenge Thrace. But since the Havoc was
bigger than any of them and had a naked blaster in his hand, they hung back.
Still, it was probably only a matter of time until one or several of them got
over their uncertainty and stepped forward. Only—

She
stumbled and Thrace
dragged her upright again, hooking one arm around her waist to keep her moving.

“Almost
there,” he muttered. “Almost to the exit airlock. Come on, baby—you can do it.”

Trin
wanted to object to the demeaning nickname but she couldn’t seem to form any
words. What had Thrace
said the man with the steel teeth had put into her drink? Passion berries? Trin
had never heard of them but they must be incredibly strong. She’d taken the
tiniest possible sip and she still felt close to passing out. Had B’Rugh’s
second in command been trying to kill her? Or simply drug her so completely she
couldn’t protest anything that was done to her? The thought made Trin shiver,
even in her drugged haze.

Suddenly,
as if her thoughts had called him, the male with the steel teeth and rotting
brain popped up right in front of them. Trin blinked at him owlishly. How did
he move so fast?

“What
in the Seven Hells?” Apparently the male’s sudden appearance had surprised Thrace
as well. He halted abruptly, keeping one arm firmly around Trin and pointed the
blaster at the center of the other male’s narrow chest. “Get out of the way,”
he growled.

“In
a moment,” the male said pleasantly. “I just had a quick question for you
before you go, my good Havoc.”

“I’m
not your good
anything
,” Thrace
snarled. “Now step out of the way or I’ll blast a hole in you big enough to
walk through.”

“My,
my—such a violent temper!” The male with steel teeth shook his head and made a
tsking
sound. “But listen—you said that
B’Rugh’s people tried to take over the mud flats on your planet—is that
correct?”

“They
tried. Didn’t succeed,” Thrace
snapped impatiently. “What of it?”

“Well,
it’s just that mud flats are a very unusual geographical feature.”

“Not
really.” Thrace
frowned. “They’re what happen when the desert meets the sea. Most of my home
planet, Xander Prime, is either huge oceans or barren deserts. Not the most
hospitable place but it’s ours and we weren’t going to give it up to those
Lud’om bastards.”

“I
see. Of course not.” B’Rugh’s second in command nodded thoughtfully. “Well,
thank you very much. That was all I wished to know.”

Thrace
stared
at him. “Seriously? You stopped me to ask about the mud flats of my home
world?”

“That’s
all. I simply have an interest in different climates and geographical features.
Call it a…hobby of mine.” He grinned, exposing his horrible teeth again. “Well,
I must be going and I can see you are in a hurry as well.”

“Damn
right,” Thrace
snapped. But before they could start moving again. the male with steel teeth
leaned forward and put one cold finger under Trin’s chin.

“Goodbye
for now, my dear,” he murmured, his one normal eye gleaming. “But not forever
because I
will
see you again. I can
promise you that.”

He’s crazy!
Trin
thought, another cold shiver going down her spine.
Completely insane.

“Get
your fucking hands off her.” Thrace
jerked her away and shoved the muzzle of the blaster in the other male’s skinny
sternum. “Touch her again and you die.”

The
male with metal teeth didn’t seem in the least concerned. He simply smiled.

“So
protective
despite the fact that she
doesn’t allow you to penetrate her. That’s interesting.
Very
interesting,” he murmured, finally stepping aside. “Goodbye
then. For now.” Slowly, he backed away, still grinning.

At
that point, Trin’s head began to spin and the world around her started to gray
out. She saw the interested looks of the thugs in the hallway around
them—clearly the pause for conversation with B’Rugh’s second in command had
given them time to gather their courage. Trin knew she needed to stay on her
feet, but she couldn’t even
feel
her feet
anymore. She sagged in Thrace’s
grip, unable to stand, let alone walk.

“Trin?”
He glanced at her quickly, while keeping most of his attention on the circle of
interested thugs.

“Sorry,”
she whispered. “Just…can’t…”

With
a low curse, he bent down and swung her into his arms as easily as if he was
picking up a doll. “Hold on to me,” he muttered. “Or try, at least—we’re going
to have to fight our way out.”

The
last memory Trin had was of resting her head against his muscular, bare chest
as a hoard of hungry eyes closed in on them.

Then…nothing.

Chapter
Nine

 

“Stav?
Stavros?” Charlie snapped her fingers in front of her lover’s face worriedly.

Stavros
was sitting on the side of the bed, wearing nothing but his black satin sleep
pants and a blank expression. His hands lay open on his thighs, palms up. Other
than the rise and fall of his broad chest and some slight twitching of his
fingertips, he was completely still.

Completely
gone.

Charlie
stared at him with growing concern. This wasn’t the first time he’d drifted off
into a weird, blank-eyed trance—the brief fugues had been happening for weeks
now, ever since they’d returned to the Mother Ship from destroying the
Collective on the Dark Kindred home world. It was almost like a petite-mal
seizure, the way he just blanked out suddenly and for no apparent reason but
the Kindred didn’t get epilepsy.

The
trances scared Charlie, mostly because Stav had been a Sin Eater most of his
life—what the Blood Kindred called a Cursed One. He’d had a parasite which grew
on his back and forced him to feel the physical pain of others. It took the
form of intricate, curving black lines which looked like an elaborate tattoo.

Killing
the Collective—the group of thinking computers that ruled the Dark Kindred
world—had also killed the parasite, leaving Stav free of its influence for the
first time in over twenty years. Then the Goddess had healed his heart and
declared he would have a normal life span instead of the scant six months he
had originally been given. It seemed they were destined to live happily ever
after aboard the Mother Ship with the rest of the Kindred and their wives.

And
then the trances started.

Stavros
kept saying it was nothing to worry about and it really wasn’t very dramatic.
He would just blank out occasionally, freezing in place wherever he was and
staring into space for a few seconds. It happened infrequently—maybe once or
twice a week—and never lasted very long. Still, Charlie was worried. In light
of his medical history, she didn’t like anything out of the ordinary.

And
this was
definitely
out of the
ordinary.

It
was also by far the longest trance or fugue or whatever you wanted to call it
he’d had. She’d been calling his name and trying to bring him back for the past
five minutes and Stavros hadn’t so much as blinked. It was like he had gone far
away—somewhere she couldn’t reach him.

“Okay,
enough is enough,” Charlie muttered to herself at last. “I’m calling Dr.
Sylvan.”

Stav
had talked her out of involving the Kindred doctor several times in the past
but this time she was getting some answers. There was a think-me in the
nightstand on her side of the bed. She would bespeak her new friend, Sophia, to
ask if her husband was around, Charlie decided. Sylvan was a nice guy—he
wouldn’t mind her calling late.

But
just as she was rummaging in the nightstand for the thin silver wire think-me
which enabled telepathic communication, Stavros blinked and took a deep breath.

“Charlotte?” He looked like
a man coming out of a dream…or maybe a nightmare. His indigo eyes were dark and
troubled and he ran one hand through his gorgeous mane of deep auburn hair
distractedly.

“Stav,
honey…” Charlie had been digging in a drawer for a think-me but she went to him
at once, relieved to have him back.

“Charlotte,” he murmured
again and put his arms around her. Though he was sitting and she was standing,
he was tall, as all Kindred were. So when he pulled her close, his head pressed
against her chest, his gorgeous hair spilling over the deep red nightgown she
was wearing.

“What
is it?” Charlie was bewildered and concerned at how tightly he was holding her.
It was as though he was a drowning man and she was the only one who could save
him. “What is it, honey?” she asked again.

Stavros
turned his head and pressed his face to her breasts but not in a sexual way—it
was more like he was seeking comfort. The gesture tore at Charlie’s heart
because she knew he had never been able to seek comfort from anyone before. His
own mother had rejected him when the Mark that proved he was a Cursed One
started to grow on his back when he was only six.

“Sweetheart…”
she murmured, carding her fingers through his long hair. “Stav, what is it?”

He
looked up at her at last.

“I’ve
seen him,” he muttered in a hoarse voice.

“Seen
who?” Charlie stared at him, not understanding.

“Two.”
He sighed heavily. “I’ve been catching glimpses of him with every trance—if
that’s what you call it. But this was the longest one yet.”

“What?”
Charlie frowned at him. “You told me you didn’t remember anything about those
trances—that you just spaced out for a second or two and it was nothing.”

“I
lied.” Stavros looked away. “I’m not proud of that. I just…didn’t want to worry
you.”

“Like
I wasn’t worried thinking you were having some kind of mental fugue states for
no apparent reason?”

“There’s
no apparent reason for this either,” Stav pointed out. “I just keep
seeing
him all the time. I don’t
understand it.”

“I
might,” Charlie said thoughtfully. “Remember how he—well, how Ur—reached for you and touched you while you
were filled with all that emotional energy from the Heart of Love?”

“How
could I forget it?” Stavros said dryly. “Ur’s
evil combined with the positive energy is what caused the overload that killed
the Collective.”

“But
it wasn’t just Ur—he
was in Two’s body when it happened,” Charlie pointed out. “What if the two of
you formed some kind of…I don’t know…some kind of mental
connection
somehow when that happened?”

“I
suppose that’s possible.” Stav sounded thoughtful. “Though it still isn’t
pleasant.”

“Has
he been doing awful things that you have to watch?” Charlie asked
sympathetically. Two was a horrible person—if the word “person” could even be
applied to him. Nothing he would do could surprise her.

“Well,
up until now I’ve only been catching glimpses. But just now I watched him drug
some poor female’s wine.”

“He
drugged her? With what? Could you tell?”

Stavros
frowned. “I think it was passion berries.”

“Passion
berries? What the hell is that?” Charlie felt cold all over. As a cop down on
Earth working in a college town, she’d dealt with her share of date rape cases.
Though the idea of Two trying to roofie someone didn’t sit quite right with
her. He struck her as being completely asexual—totally evil, of course—but sex
didn’t seem to be part of his makeup at all. “Is it some kind of aphrodisiac?”
she asked. “Like that bonding fruit the wives with Twin Kindred eat to uh, help
ease the way?”

“Passion
berries are
similar
to bonding fruit
but much more deadly.” Stav sounded grim. “The saying goes, one sip makes you
cold, the next sip makes you hot and the third sip makes you dead.”

“My
God. So Two was trying to kill her?” That actually fit more with the profile
she had of him in her head.

“I
don’t think so. You see, the third sip isn’t always deadly—not if you have the
antidote at hand.”

“And
did he?” Charlie demanded. Though she had no idea who this girl was, she was
feeling more and more worried about her. Of course, she would feel worried
about anyone who found themselves at the mercy of Two—mainly because the sick
bastard
had
no mercy.

“The
antidote is not a compound or elixir which can be administered orally,” Stav
said dryly. “The only cure for a third sip of passion berry wine is penetration
and insemination.”

“What?”
Charlie stared at him. “So in order to survive after drinking that third drink
she has to let him…”

“Have
sex with her and fill her with his seed. Yes.” Stav nodded gravely. “Otherwise
she will suffer an excruciating death.”

“That’s
horrible!”
Charlie ran a hand through
her hair distractedly. “That poor girl! So now she had to let Two…Ugh!” She
shivered. “You know, I never thought he was the type to do anything like this.
Anything
sexual
I mean. Horrible and
murderous and disgusting, yes but sexual…not so much.”

“He
didn’t do it for himself—he drugged her for the creature he was working for,”
Stav said. “A Lud’om, I think. At least, he looked like one.”

“What’s
a Lud’om? No, never mind.” Charlie raised her hand to stop him answering.
“First tell me if that poor girl is all right.”

“I
think
she is.” Stav frowned. “Another
male came in and stopped her from drinking too much of the drugged wine. She
only took the first sip.”

“Thank
God!” Charlie nearly sagged with relief—she really felt for this unknown girl,
whoever she was. “But…what will the first sip do to her? Will it hurt her?”

“She’ll
have some side effects but nothing that will kill her,” Stav assured her.

“So
who saved her? Another Lud…Ludo…whatever it was?”

“No…he
looked like a Kindred. But he spoke to Two of his home world on Xander Prime.
So he must be Havoc.”

“Really?
Havoc?” Charlie was intrigued. When she and Stav had gone undercover at the
couple’s resort, J’lorgon’s Mind, he had pretended to be a Havoc because they
were genetic cousins to the Kindred. As far as she knew, the two kinds of males
were almost exactly alike in every way except the Havoc didn’t call brides like
the Kindred or bond with them. Though of course, for the purpose of their
cover, they had pretended that Stav was one of the rare few who had, in fact,
found a bride. Charlie, of course, had been that bride—a deception that had
become a reality once they fell in love.

“The
Havoc seemed to be taking care of the girl fairly well.” Stav frowned. “But Two
distracted him long enough for others to interfere. The last I saw, the two of
them were surrounded.”

“Oh,
no!” Charlie put a hand to her mouth. “Do you think they’ll be okay? Can we
help them?”

“I
don’t see how.” Stav shook his head. “Even if we could fold space to their
exact spot, I have a feeling the fight is already over.” He sighed. “At least
the Havoc male seemed to know what he was doing. And I could tell he would
protect the female with his own life if necessary.”

“Just
like a Kindred would,” Charlie murmured. Though she had once considered the
alien race her enemies, Stavros had changed her mind with his love and devotion
as well as his willingness to sacrifice himself for others. He was truly
noble—and that wasn’t a word she could apply to hardly anyone else she knew.

“Just
like a Kindred,” her lover agreed, smiling a little. “We love our females to
distraction and we would die to keep them safe.”

“I
know you would, sweetheart.” Charlie stroked his hair again and leaned down to
give him a lingering kiss. “So…they were a couple, then?”

He
frowned. “I don’t think so. Two said something else to him at the end…something
about him being protective of her even though she didn’t allow him to penetrate
her. Very strange.”

“Well,
aren’t there some cultures that
don’t
allow
that?” Charlie asked. Her new friend Kat and several of the other Kindred wives
had told her tales of Yonnie Six, the planet where the females were superior
and the males were all sex slaves.

Stav
nodded. “That’s true. But until he said that, I assumed the girl was from Earth
somehow. Now it’s clear she can’t be.”

“Why
would you assume that?” Charlie asked.

“She
has the same brown skin tones that Lauren and Becca have,” he explained. “It’s
lovely but I thought it was only found on Earth.”

“Hmmm,
I don’t know.” Charlie frowned. “Well, whoever she is and wherever she’s from,
I hope she’s okay. Although I think it’s kind of sad that he loves her enough
to risk his life for her and she won’t let him…you know.”

“Penetrate
her?” Stav raised an eyebrow at her and bared his double set of fangs
meaningfully. As a Blood Kindred, he looked a little like a vampire and like a
vampire, he loved to bite. But the Blood Kindred didn’t really drink blood—they
bit to inject their essence—the pale blue liquid secreted by their fangs. The
essence helped bind their mates to them and it could also facilitate healing if
a Blood Kindred’s bride was ill.

It
also caused multiple orgasms, as Charlie knew from delicious experience.

Suddenly
she felt the need to have Stavros in her—to feel both his fangs and his shaft
deep inside her, filling her with himself in every possible way. But she felt a
little awkward about asking. After all, he’d just endured a weird mental
connection with the Dark Kindred who had almost killed him. It seemed like he
needed comfort right now…not sex.

She
shifted uncertainly and felt the sharp stab of a muscle cramp in her inner
thigh.

“Ow!”
she gasped, stepping back from Stav. “Damn it, that hurts!”

“What?
What’s wrong?” Stavros was instantly worried. He had spent most of his life
feeling the pain of others and though being freed from that curse was a
blessing for the most part, it still seemed to bother him when he couldn’t tell
exactly what was wrong with Charlie the minute anything hurt her.

BOOK: Enslaved (Brides of the Kindred Book 14)
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