Authors: Leila Brown
The Taming of Taylon
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Copyright ©2010 Leila Brown
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The Taming of Taylon
When an unstoppable woman smacks into an immovable force of a man, someone’s going to give!
For the price of their blood -- and their sex -- the Changelings protect the inhabitants of Chimera from things far worse than the denizens of this backwoods planet could ever imagine.
When Taylon is captured and sent to participate in the Gathering, her first thought is to fight. And she has the means -- unlike the natives of Chimera, she’s capable of resisting the compulsions used by these giant Vampiric Werecats. But how can she resist the seduction of the most handsome man -- Changeling -- she’s ever seen? Can she survive four weeks at his mercy -- and not want to stay forever?
Taylon stared as a brazen woman pulled her shift down, baring her nipples. Did she have no pride? Apparently not.
These women were just a means to an end, a snack for the savages hosting the Gathering. The Changelings would gorge themselves on the essence of the innocents before indulging their sexual appetites and sending the women home. Until the next gathering.
Taylon stood at the inner circle, surrounded by an outer ring of the most shameless women. She swallowed the lump of disgust lodged in her throat as she watched them flaunt their bodies at the creatures.
A yelp pierced the air in the large round hall, bouncing off the marble floor and walls. Taylon turned her head to watch the woman screeching and giggling as one of the creatures swooped her up and carried her from the room. One slut down. Too bad there were so many left to go. She cared little for them. If they thought to seek their pleasure in an animal’s embrace so be it.
But the others were an entirely different matter.
Her hands shook as she smoothed out the wrinkles in the dress. The fine spider silk felt foreign beneath her fingers. Catching herself, she balled her fist. The dress was useless. The semitransparent material showed more than it hid. Looking down, she swore she saw the dark pink of her nipples. The creatures only dressed them this way to see what they were choosing.
Taylon braced her legs apart and assumed a fighting stance. She would protect the girls behind her. The girls were scared. Like her, this was their first Gathering, and just like her they did not want to be here. They were innocents. Unmarried women of breeding age had no choice. All women who attained the age of maturity on this backwoods planet were subject to Gatherings. Until they married. Or unless they hid really well.
Each whimper behind her shored up her courage. The girls were scared. Taking a deep breath, she pushed her own fear away. She would protect them, for as long as she could. Why had she let her sister pick a planet they hadn’t researched first?
She watched the circling males close in around the women like jaws closing on a desired meal. One of the smaller creatures broke away from the pack and sauntered her way.
His blond hair hung just below his shoulders. He stood almost a head shorter than the other males, but it was his only physical defect. His muscular legs filled the tight black pants, and his chest showed creamy perfection through the opening of his blue vest. “Hello, little one. Do you think to protect all of these beauties?” He chuckled. “You are such a small thing.”
His words rolled off Taylon without generating so much as a ripple of a response. She could hear the compulsion in his voice. Feel his desire for her to submit to him. What she didn’t feel was a need to obey him. Especially not with the insult he’d just dealt her. She was only a bit shorter than him. He was about to learn that she didn’t take insults lightly. “Fuck off.” Her lips curled into a sneer. It would be his only warning.
The creature backed away, his golden eyes never leaving hers. A smile of pure pleasure graced her lips. Whoever chose her was in for a nasty little shock. A human who could stand unaffected by the creatures’ call. Such a thing was unheard of, or at least it was to them.
Most of them would probably like to see her dead, but that was impossible. Humans were protected, and killing one was a deadly offense. It had been so for over five hundred years, since the last Great War, when monster fought monster with humans caught in the middle. Humans were now so rare each life was a treasured commodity. Besides, if they killed the humans, where would they get the blood they craved? Most of them would give her a wide berth.
Or at least she hoped so.
If that damn interplanetary gate -- to her it looked more like an archway -- hadn’t broken down after she and Kylie arrived, they would have turned around immediately and gone back to the Andromeda Waiting Station. This trip had cost them all of their saved credits, but they could work to earn more.
Taylon shook her head to let go of the what ifs. She needed to deal with the reality in front of her. She stood defiant as she stared out into a sea of glowing eyes. Beasts. Beautiful beasts, each and every one. Faces that rivaled those carved from exquisite porcelain lined the walls of the hall.
She wasn’t stupid, though. The handsome faces didn’t fool her. Strip away the well muscled human exteriors and she would find the true beast lurking close to the surface.
* * *
Bracken, Ruler of the Balthazar Mountains, inspected the offerings from a vantage point above his circling brethren. There were several new additions to the Gathering this evening. The scent of the innocents called out to him. Growls of warning emanated from the elders toward the impatient young Changelings. If he didn’t intervene there would be more than virgin blood spilled this night.
Jumping down from his hiding place, Bracken strode toward the untouched women. He barely passed the outer ring of the youngest of his kind when a scent tickled the back of his throat. He inhaled, filling his lungs, trying to pull in more of the intoxicating smell. The closer he drew to the human females, the stronger the scent. His blood quickened his pulse and surged to his cock. Looking down in amazement, he watched as his dick lifted his leather pants and stretch them tight.
How is this possible
? None of his kind felt passion without feeding from a woman while indulging in her lust. He gave a mental push, warning others of his kind to keep out of his path. He strode to the inner ring of the females, marveling as his desire heightened with each step.
Tonight’s crowd of available females mirrored every other Gathering he’d attended. The experienced women beckoned to the particular man of their choice. The inexperienced ones clung to each other in the center, their fear a palpable thing. It warred with the sweet scent permeating the air. Each intake of breath stirred the beast within.
Several of the more excited males entered the female mob and chose their evening’s entertainment. Bracken skimmed the inner circle of women. Not one of the women whose eyes he stared into was aware of her sexual power. And he did not feel like teaching them. He was excited for the first time since his change, and he refused to waste such a gift. He would select one or two of those ready and willing for the pleasure he could deliver. Bracken turned and looked out over the more experienced women.
He raised his hand to beckon a couple of the women he’d been with before when he caught sight of a head of bronze curls turning away from him. She stood at the edge of the mass of innocents, but unlike those around her a defiant tilt graced her head.
He willed her to turn around so he could see her face, look into her eyes. When she didn’t comply, he increased the pressure of the compulsion. At her seeming indifference, his beast rose with displeasure. She dared defy him? Bracken sucked in an irritated breath and narrowed his eyes in concentration. The predator inside pushed and strained against his control.
He stalked toward his target, mentally pushing the women closest to him out of his way. He grasped at his control, trying to calm the beast. The women backed away, giving him a wide berth.
As he got closer he saw her talking to Rriodan.
“You will come with me.” Rriodan’s voice was laden with compulsion.
“I don’t think so,” a strong, steady voice said. Not the voice of a woman fighting off a mental push.
Rriodan leaned in close and whispered something Bracken could not hear.
“You can’t touch me. The law states that I must agree to be chosen. And I do not choose you.” Venom laced her voice.
Rriodan’s face showed no anger, but Bracken caught the telling tick at the base of his neck. If he didn’t intervene, Rriodan might do something stupid. Absolute power over women for almost three hundred years had bred a low tolerance for disobedience in Rriodan. Then again, from reports he had over the years, even the most submissive of women found themselves in an abusive situation with Rriodan.
Before Bracken could open his mouth, Rriodan grasped the woman’s upper arm and jerked her to him. Bracken tasted the fear and outrage the woman failed to suppress. He lost his hold on the beast within. His vision shifted from the world of colors and turned to one of red monochrome. Rriodan became a white shadow -- prey.
Bracken’s growl of pure fury reverberated through the room. It reached every ear, though only his kind could hear the clear threat it contained. Bracken caught Rriodan’s questioning gaze as he released the woman’s arm. Too little, too late. A row of sharp teeth burst though Bracken’s gums. “She is mine.” His voice was hardly above a whisper, but was more effective than a shout.
“Not in this fucking lifetime,” Taylon said, spinning around. She caught sight of the cocky beast who dared to issue such a statement and lost her breath. Her heart seized up and a cool breeze chilled her as blood drained from her face.
She knew Changelings were handsome. But handsome did not begin to describe the man before her. His face rivaled the chiseled perfection of the statues throughout the hall. Ebony hair curled close to his head. His full lips drew her gaze down. Once she started lowering her eyes she could not stop. His tight pants showcased his muscled thighs. Heat raced up, burning her face at the sight of the bulge pulling at his pants.
“You heard it, Brac. She turned you down also,” the loathsome bastard said from over her shoulder.
“Rriodan, are you issuing a challenge?” Although the words were spoken through smiling lips, no warmth accompanied them.
“Bracken, you know the law. Hell, you wrote it. She turned you down. She cannot be forced.”
The creature at her back put his hand squarely on her ass squeezing it hard in warning. She could hear the compulsion in her head. It invaded every crack, resounded from every crevice in her brain. The punishing sound of his voice drummed a steady beat inside her head.
“Get your hands off me, you bastard.” Taylon turned away, bending to escape his hands.
A roar erupted behind her. Bracken flew at Rriodan, knocking her to the floor in the tussle. The wind whooshed out of her lungs, leaving her momentarily immobile. From her vantage point on the floor she watched Bracken’s fingernails elongate, sharpening into the largest talons she’d ever seen. They pierced the skin at Rriodan’s neck. A tiny trail of red ran down the bird-like talons.
“I am ruler here. All obey me.” At his booming voice the hall quieted. The women stopped flirting and the men quit responding. It seemed as if even the air stopped moving.
“She is naught but a piece of meat. An enjoyable meal and a quick fuck, at most.”
“Did I issue you leave to speak?” Bracken dug his claws deeper into Rriodan’s neck. “If I tell you to slit your own throat, you will do so without question.”
The claws pressed so deep into the man’s neck, Taylon feared she would see them poke clear through to the other side. Panic laced through her at the thought that he would kill right in front of everyone.
“She is one you cannot control. How it is possible, I do not know.”
Bracken retracted his claws. They shrunk, flesh turning in on itself until they once again took on human form. He stood, leaving Rriodan to crawl from beneath him. “She is mine.” Bracken’s voice reverberated through the hall. There was no mistaking the possessive statement.
Dread ate at Taylon’s courage. Bracken strode to her and outstretched his hand to help her. Taylon ignored him, pushing herself up into a standing position. What was she going to do now? He’d almost killed one of his own for not doing his bidding. What would he care about killing a single female?
Would they punish their own king? Not that it mattered to her since she would already be dead.
“Come.” The command, along with the domineering grip on her arm, shot an unwanted thrill through her. Bracken led her out of the room and thrust her toward a female servant waiting outside the door. Small lines around the woman’s eyes and mouth marked her well past her Gathering years.
“What is your name?”
Taylon ignored him.
Bracken moved so quickly she had no clue he was beside her he grasped her again. Her heart quivered, shocking her. Heat pooled beneath his hands. “What is your name?”
“Taylon.” She yanked her arm away from him, glad he did not try to restrain her.
“You will do as Ashta says, or you will be punished.”
Punishment. Her heart jumped at the word. What type of punishment would he issue, since violence against humans was outlawed? She’d heard rumors of how sacrifices were punished.
“You both will be punished,” he amended.
Taylon looked into the woman’s scared eyes. Her hands trembled slightly as she reached for Taylon. The look of terror and determination reminded her of her sister, Kylie, when she’d first found the little girl. It had been Taylon’s first journey off of a Waiting Station almost ten years ago. Her heart seized remembering Kylie’s defeated state. No child of ten should ever wear that mask of fear. Taylon had never truly cared about punishment, not if she believed what she was doing was the right thing. But she could never condemn another to suffer because of her actions.
“Lead the way,” Taylon agreed reluctantly. She walked past Bracken, her eyes glued to Ashta’s back. She refused to look at the savage. She would follow his servant. Let him think that he had broken her. She would find a way to make him regret choosing her.