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Authors: Lexxie Couper

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Highest Bidder: 1 (Mercy)

BOOK: Highest Bidder: 1 (Mercy)
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Highest Bidder

Lexxie Couper


Mercy, Book One


Premier Ipari, the evil head of the Galactic Union, has stolen everything from Dreylan—his marriage, his career, his entire life. Revenge is finally at hand. Dreylan will take the woman promised to the premier…in the most carnal way possible.

He’s the man of her dreams, and Naya willingly gives Dreylan her body, her heart, her soul. A choice that could leave the fate of her beloved New Earth—and her life—in the balance.


Inside Scoop:
This story contains a dark, disturbing, horror-filled scene that may be offensive to some readers. But trust us…the character had it coming.


A Romantica®
sci-fi erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave

Highest Bidder
Lexxie Couper



New Earth

Galactic Union Calendar 210


Gods, she didn’t want to get married.

Naya Kistara stared out at the congregation, ignoring the rapt expressions on the faces of the massing hundreds. Was it too late to take off? To steal a ship and escape beyond Galactic Union space?

Reverent hands lifted her ceremonial veil from her head and she let out a sigh. Definitely too late.

The cool air of the temple kissed her naked body, rippling her scented flesh into a mass of tiny bumps. She resisted the urge to run her palms up and down her bronze-dusted arms. Any moment now the Sub-Priests would begin their mellifluous chant, the door of the temple would open and in would walk her future husband. Gloriously unclothed. Proudly aroused. Ready to take her prized virginity there and then on the Altar of the Gods.

What his mind wanted—what his lust demanded—during this first union would permenantly influence the person she’d become after the ceremony. Naya hoped that by appearing strong and confident, perhaps that’s what the premier of the Galactic Union would desire as he entered her body.

Saving the people of New Earth—
people—from brutal marauders hellbent on decimating the planet was all very well and good, but she didn’t want to become a sniveling wimp in the process. If her new husband saw a woman with dignity, spirit and strength waiting for him at the altar, perhaps that’s what he’d think of—lust for—during the Joining.

Whatever his heart and mind truly wanted in a wife, that’s what Naya would become. Irrevocably.

Suppressing another sigh, Naya lifted her chin. She could only hope her future husband wanted more than a passive, docile wife.

Gods save her if all he craved was a submissive sex slave.

It didn’t help that she was presented that way. The Sub-Priests might have been eunuchs, but for men without genitalia they seemed very obsessed with the notion of sexual first impressions. What kind of holy men thought a naked woman painted only in bronze powder was in any way—?

A commotion outside shattered the worshipful silence of the temple, ear-piercing, like the smashing of a thousand panes of ancient Earth glass. A high-pitched wail came from beyond the cavernous walls, piercing and terrified, only to be whipped away and silenced by what sounded like a roaring wind. Around her, the congregation began to shuffle, shooting glances at each other. Nervous.

Naya’s heart beat faster. Her breath caught in her throat. What was going on?

There was another wail from outside—louder and filled with agony—and as one, the congregation gasped. Naya swallowed, her belly a churning mass of apprehension. Gods, was this part of the premier’s entrance?

A deafening boom rocked the temple, showering the Joining congregation with marble dust, rat shit and bird lice from the ceiling. Naya flinched, raising her arm to shield her eyes. Fine particles of grit fell on her shoulders, in her hair, and—forgetting for a moment about the ceremonial powder coating her body—she swiped it away.

A swift intake of breath to her left made her start and she turned her head, frowning at the attendant standing beside her. The man gazed at the strip of newly exposed flesh on her shoulder, horror swimming in his eyes.

Naya’s heart lurched into her throat. The powdered covering of her body was a significant part of the ceremony. It told her future husband she was untouched by the hands of others. What would he say when he saw the smudged—

“Deviant!” the High Priest behind her snapped, barging between Naya and the gaping attendant. “Do not look upon the

Naya flinched, giving the scowling High Priest a stunned look. His gaze met hers for a split second and his face filled with heat before he turned away, stepping past the altar and raising his arms.

“Do not be concerned.” His deep voice boomed throughout the cavernous room, bounced off the walls. “All is well. The Joining will—”

With an eruption of splinters, the doors of the temple burst open, along with sizeable portions of the surrounding walls. Naya squealed, ducking as debris flew through the room.

For a still second nothing happened, and then an icy Earth wind gusted through the gaping hole, lashing at her naked, vulnerable body, pinching her deeply bronzed nipples into rock-hard nubs of flesh.

Naya didn’t take any notice.

Because at that very moment, ten massive men covered in armor and furs stormed into the temple. Ten men with intricately scarred faces and wicked weapons.

Ten men looking at

Naya’s heart leapt into her throat. Mentuan slavers.


Gods save her, she was in trouble.

Chapter One


Galactic Union Calendar 210


Dreylan Tarq was two steps into The Puckered Tip when someone tried to kill him.

The blade sliced through the space just to the right of his head, so close he felt the dank air ripple in its path. Growling silently, he snatched the short, lethally sharp blade from the air and sent it back through the sex club’s heady artificial environment with just a flick of his wrist.

Straight into the ridged forehead of the Prijchan who’d thrown it.

The Prijchan’s eyes widened, and then an ear-splitting squeal silenced the raucous club. The crowd reeled as one, seconds before the hulking blue-skinned Prijchan fell flat on his back to the filthy floor with a ground-shuddering thud, black hilt jutting from between his bulging eyes.

Dreylan turned away from the jerking form, casting an almost bored look over the gaping, silent partiers. “Anyone else want a go?” No one said a word. Or dared draw a breath. “Good.” He nodded. “’Cause I’m thirsty.”

He continued to make his way to The Puckered Tip’s bar, ignoring the gawking patrons as they parted before him.

Resting his elbows on the bar, Dreylan studied the rows of bottles and decanters lining the wall before him. Not one bottle of Ozio to be seen. He let out a dramatic sigh and shook his head. Little remained of Ezilia from before the violent interplanetary wars that gave birth to the Galactic Union, and what did was often putrid, mutated and diseased. A few cases of Ozio, however, had survived the GU’s swift and draconian “cleansing of moral decay and filth”. If a man were lucky, he could find a bar that had a bottle and indulge. After coughing up an obscene number of credits, that is.

Dreylan had the credits but it seemed he didn’t have the luck. Not today at least. “H-Two,” he ordered, flicking the barkeep a quick look. Behind him, the crowd had begun to move. To whisper.

Hearing his name in the hushed murmurs, Dreylan rolled his eyes. Gods, couldn’t he go anywhere without being recognized?

The bartender returned, trying not to stare as he placed a filthy glass on the counter. Dreylan looked at the murky, crap-brown liquid. “What the hell is this?”

The Myxmak swallowed, all four of his eyes blinking rapidly. “H-Two, s-sir. I mean Sir Tarq. I mean—”

Dreylan shook his head. “Get outta here,” he snarled, waving the quivering bartender away. Picking up the glass, he studied the contents through its grimy sides. No Ozio. No H-Two. So much for quenching his thirst. The Puckered Tip had not impressed him so far.

Returning the glass to the counter, Dreylan counted to five.

Then pulled his disruptor on the fat Terran suddenly joining him at the bar. “Hello, peace-keeper.” He leveled the gun at the man’s flabby gut. “What do you want?”

The Terran grinned. “Long time no see, Tarq. I see you took care of Blegd.”

Dreylan cast a look at the motionless Prijchan, still sprawled on the floor. Someone, he noted with a smirk, had pulled the bounty hunter’s blade from his forehead. Someone else had balanced a glass of what looked like Itillian ale over the spot where the wound would be. “These dolts get slower and more stupid every cycle.” He turned back to the bar, re-holstered the disrupter and picked up his glass. “Seriously, Mak, what idiot paid that fool to bring me in?”

Mak Wylsen chuckled, his enormous gut wobbling. “That idiot would be
, Tarq.” He slid his own weapon from its harness and placed it on the counter facing Dreylan. “He wasn’t supposed to stick you, of course, but I guess you get what you pay for. Hate to do this to you, good buddy, but by order of the Galactic Union, you’re under arrest.”

Dreylan glanced down at the peace-keeper’s neutralizer, shaking his head in disgusted contempt. “Are you sure you want to do this, Mak?”

“Not at all.” Mak pulled an apologetic face, but the gun didn’t move. “But ever since my partner got himself kicked off the force, I’ve been doing all sorts of things I don’t want to do.”

Dreylan’s grip on the filthy glass tightened and a surge of anger rolled through his chest. “I wasn’t kicked off, Mak. You know that.”

“Yeah, I know that, but anyone who wants to keep their nuts attached says otherwise.” Mak adjusted himself on the barstool, a look of guilt flashing across his fleshy face as his hand moved to his gun again. “I’m a bit fond of my balls, Tarq. I plan to keep them a few years longer, no matter how much of a fuckwit my boss is. Or how good a partner

“Which is why you’re doing exactly what the premier orders, huh?” Dreylan studied the murky liquid in his glass. “No matter how stupid…or dangerous.”

Mak had the decency to look uncomfortable. “Are you coming in on your own or do I need to restrain you?”

Still studying the cloudy glass of H-Two, Dreylan cocked an eyebrow, a knot of dark anticipation squirming in his chest. “I think I can come in on my own. I’ve been wanting to have a word with
Ipari for quite some time now.”

Mak shot him a disgusted look. “I’m not taking you in so you can break the premier’s nose, Tarq.”

A grin stretched Dreylan’s mouth. “I wasn’t planning on breaking his nose, Mak. I’ve already done that, remember?”

Mak raised his pistol from the bar and jabbed it at Dreylan’s shoulder. “Listen, you go in there with Aimyl on your mind and you’re asking to be shot. You may have escaped with your life the last time you and Ipari met but he’s not going to put up with any shit now.” The barrel of Mak’s pistol tapped once against Dreylan’s chest. “You start trouble,” Mak went on with a serious expression, “and I won’t protect your sorry ass.”

Hot anger scorched Dreylan’s veins as he gave his ex-partner a flat glare. “Aimyl hasn’t been in my head since she walked out of our house, Mak,” he growled. And it was the truth. His wife hadn’t entered his mind since she’d left him for that conniving, power-hungry fuck Pretorik Ipari seven cycles ago. He hadn’t given her a second thought.

Pain—tight and bitter—squeezed at his heart.


Yes. Really. Maybe. Okay, fine. The absolute last time he’d thought of his deceiving, traitorous wife was when he’d identified her body at the morgue. After the Mentuan slavers had—

A sharp
cut through the macabre thought and Dreylan looked down at his suddenly wet hand, watching a stream of bright-red blood mingle with the spilled fluid from the shattered glass in his clenched fist.

Mak snorted, re-holstered his gun and pushed his sizeable frame from the stool. “Yeah, you’re Mr. Cool-and-Detached. I can see that.”

Dreylan stared at his blood as it seeped from the jagged gash in his palm. There should have been pain but there wasn’t. The moment his wife had left him, Dreylan had begun to detach from his emotions.

The moment the Mentuan slavers highjacked the shuttle transporting Aimyl to her new life and lover—a mere three hours into the journey—and slaughtered everyone aboard, Dreylan Tarq, once the highest decorated peace-keeper in the GU, had lost the ability to feel pain.

To feel anything.

Premier Pretorik Ipari was responsible for that.

It was time for the treacherous bastard to make amends.

* * * * *


The manacles dug into her flesh.

Naya looked down at her hands, causing her long hair to slide over her bare shoulders in a feathery caress. The bronze powder dusting her body clung to the fine strands, turning the tips into a burnished copper curtain that brushed against the thick gray manacles around her wrists. The ship’s harsh light glinted off the polished steel, highlighting her situation better than words ever could. Gods, what was going to happen to her?

“So, Terran,” a guttural voice growled in front of her. “What would you like to do?”

Naya raised her head, glaring at the hulking Mentuan standing before her. “Slit your throat.”

His red gaze roamed over her, a leering grin slowly stretching his mouth. “Mmm. A little rougher than I’d expected for a
. Perhaps you’re not as pure as they say.”

Naya lifted her chin. She was petrified, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to let
know that. “I’m more pure than you could imagine, slaver, but just because I’m a
doesn’t mean I don’t know how to fight.”

The Mentuan slave master took a step closer, his breath hot on her face. “I’ve been watching you, Naya. And you’re right. You
know how to fight. Hence the manacles.”

He threaded his fingers through her hair, inspecting the dark-brown strands with a critical eye. A grin played with his mouth and he returned his attention to her face. “Those cockless fucks who were guarding you all this time thought they’d kept your existence from us, but they were wrong. Empathic mesomorphs aren’t exactly commonplace in the universe. When your people discovered your existence, the heavens shook with their excitement. New Earth’s one and only chance for salvation, to buy a place in the oh so duplicitous Galactic Union, born to two worthless
. A savior and sex slave in one innocent package. The contradiction is quite delicious, isn’t it?”

His hand snaked out and slid over Naya’s right breast. She gasped, repulsed fury pouring through her. “Get your hands off me!”

The slave master’s stare rose to her face, evil delight igniting his eyes. “I don’t think so. Not yet, at least.” He squeezed her breast again, pinching her nipple between his fingers.

Another surge of raw hatred tore through Naya and she thrashed in her restraints, glaring at the Mentuan.

“Oh, you are going to make me a shitload of credits,” he murmured, pressing his body to hers. “An untouched
with the spirit of a viper. What other sins does that delectable body of yours hold?”

“My future husband will pay good money for my return.”

“True,” the Mentuan agreed. “But not as much as I’ll make selling you at the Port Mercy Slave Market.”

Naya clenched her jaw, refusing to break his stare despite the icy fear rippling through her veins. Spaceport Mercy? Gods, wasn’t that on the edge of the universe? “Since you know everything about me,” she replied, “you also know who my future husband is.” She swallowed down a sudden lump of distaste. “If you don’t return me to Earth, he’ll bring the full force of the Galactic Union’s peace-keepers down on you.”

“The peace-keepers don’t concern me, and neither does your husband.” The Mentuan trailed his fingers over her breasts in slow circles. “I am Taipyr, captain and master of the slave ship
. I am outside Union law. The GU cannot touch me.”

.” Naya hissed, fury exploding in her chest. She lashed out again, her shackled wrists snapping to an abrupt halt inches from Taipyr’s smirking face. Sharp pain tore through her shoulders and she cried out in frustration and dismay.

“Spirit.” He nodded, lips curling away from jagged yellow teeth. “The spirit of a warrior queen and the body of a Slessorian concubine. Gods, I could fuck you myself here and now.”

Revulsion filled Naya but she held Taipyr’s leer. “You know what happens if I have sex with someone, slaver? I change. My psyche transforms until I’m emotionally, mentally and psychologically what a man wants in his perfect mate. My soul bonds to
soul—and theirs alone. Forever.” She glared at him, desperate to hide her fear. “I’m worthless to you once that happens.”

The Mentuan chuckled again. “Now, now, Naya. Do you question my intelligence? The second I learned of your existence, I researched everything ever recorded or known about your kind. Do you know what I found the most interesting?”

He paused as if allowing her to answer, his fingers working down her belly to splay over the curve of her sex. She stared at him, unable to respond.

“Not that the
mutation gene manifests only once every five hundred years…not that it only presents itself in human females. No. What I found most interesting was the fact that only
penetration will trigger the empathic transformation. That means I can fuck you with anything I want. My fingers, my tongue, the hilt of my whip—anything that will fit inside your tight cunt—and you won’t change. I could sell you battered and bleeding and you would still be worth money to the right buyer. Without a cock to take you, you’re still a
waiting to transform, yes?”

Fresh terror erupted in Naya. Icy cold and consuming. He was correct. She was at his depraved mercy. He could do whatever he wanted, violate her in a hundred ways, as long as he didn’t penetrate her body with his penis.

Her stomach churned. Her mouth went dry.

She stared at him, determined not to show anything but strength. “Fine. Do your worst, but I want you to count the money you’re fucking away as you do. I may not be totally worthless when no longer a sexual virgin, but I am…how did you put it? Worth a shitload of credits as an ‘untouched’

Taipyr smiled, the expression hideous and chilling. “The body of a Slessorian, the spirit of a viper and the brains of a master merchant.” He chuckled, sliding his hands back up to her breasts. “The monks really
prepare you well for your future husband.” With one final flick at her nipples, he took a step back, studying her with a gaze that made her flesh crawl. “What a shame he will never get the chance to enjoy you.”

BOOK: Highest Bidder: 1 (Mercy)
10.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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