Authors: Lee-Ann Wallace
Tags: #Erotic Romance, #Science Fiction, #Adult
I wanted to kick Xerrax, the pompous arse, for leading her on. He should have told her he was gay and not let her develop feelings for him. Unless he was bi-sexual and actually wanted them both. In which case, he was a two-timing bastard.
I turned to Manik. “That didn’t go very well.”
He strode towards me and cupped my cheek as I looked up at him.
“It was a truth she needed to hear from a friend who cares about her. It’s better she knows now than wastes any more time on this person.”
“Yes, but that probably wasn’t the best way to tell her,” I said.
My comm system interrupted whatever Manik had been about to say. I moved away from him and his warmth towards my view screen.
“Computer, accept call.”
Cyakt Ralt appeared on my screen and my heart slammed in my chest. There was only one reason he would be calling me before time was up.
“Elmertia, I’m calling to inform you that I have found a replacement. He assures me he can have your device up and running within a month. He has already left for the station and will arrive in seven cycles.”
“But, sir, I think I’ve discovered what controls the nanites. I just need some time to unlock the coding of the implants.”
He looked at me, his black eyes seeming to burn into mine for a long time before he said, “Too little, too late, Elmertia. Have your device ready to start testing when your replacement arrives, and he can start the testing immediately. I expect you to have all your notes and research findings ready to hand over to him when he arrives.”
The screen went blank, leaving me staring at it, my heart feeling like it had shrivelled in my chest leaving nothing but a cold hard rock in its place.
Strong hands landed on my shoulders and turned me towards Manik. I looked up at him, my emotions all over the place. I didn’t know what to feel. Anger and disbelief warred with relief and a strange sense of elation.
He pulled me close without saying anything and wrapped his arms around me. I stood in the circle of his arms, clinging to him and let his comfort soak into me. I needed him to ground me against the emotions surging through me. I needed him to help me keep a clear head.
One thought kept revolving around in my mind. I was now free to leave with him. I felt no obligation to stay the seven cycles and wait for my replacement to turn up. My research notes were easy to follow and systematic. My device was self-explanatory and I’d even started the rough draft of a user’s manual to explain how to load substances into it and how to change the settings.
I didn’t believe someone coming in blind would have been able to crack the nanites within a month unless that person already knew how the nanites worked. Someone who knew that the implants controlled the nanites. Someone with the knowledge of the connection I suspected was between the nanites and the implants. A connection that now seemed to be the key to unlocking the technology.
Now that I had suspicions about how the nanites worked and had more of an idea of what activated them, I wanted to do more research on the man we had in medical, but I couldn’t. My project had been taken from me, and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do any more research with the nanites I had.
“What are you going to do, Ellie?”
Manik’s voice was muffled in my hair.
“I guess this leaves me free to go with you,” I replied.
“I can’t stay seven cycles and wait until this person comes to replace you.”
I had no intention of waiting seven cycles either. “You won’t need to.” I leant back to look at him, “I can pack my belongings in a morning and I can clean and organise my lab in an afternoon. We should be able to leave tomorrow afternoon or the morning after at the latest.”
“You’ll need time to copy all your research, as well. You’ll need your notes when you look at the woman we have on the ship.”
His intense grey eyes bored into mine. I wanted to see those eyes burning with passion as he took me. I wanted to look into their depths as I came apart from his lovemaking. “I can’t take anything with me. It doesn’t belong to me.”
“I don’t care who it belongs to, Ellie. You’re taking copies of everything you have with you. It’s your research, and you deserve to get some of the credit for it, even if that means you have to sell it to the highest bidder.”
“I can’t,” I insisted.
“You can and you will. We won’t leave until you have the copies and yes, I can force you to do it.”
My spine stiffened at his tone, but I was too tired to argue with him. I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in too many cycles. I could see that the anger that had been on his face earlier when I’d been talking to Prixy was back.
“When were you going to tell me we are mates, Ellie?”
Oh. Now I understood his anger.
“The first chance I got,” I told him.
“So you weren’t keeping it from me? Why didn’t you tell me when we met in the bar? If I’d known, I would have taken you with me.”
I stared up at him in shock.
“What do you mean?
Taken me with you?
I don’t know if I would have agreed to go with you.”
He looked down at me, his grey eyes burning into mine.
“I wouldn’t have asked you, Ellie. I would have just picked you up and carried you to my ship.”
My shock deepened and my lips parted as I stared up at him.
“You’re talking about kidnapping!”
He didn’t respond but just stared down at me. I shook my head at him, too stunned to say anymore. Exhaustion was weighing heavily on me and this had pushed me to the end of my endurance.
“I need to sleep, Manik. Will you come to my quarters with me?”
His grey eyes kindled with heat, a steady warmth that I knew would turn inferno hot when he was making love to me.
“You need to take better care of yourself, Ellie, and yes, I’ll come with you.”
Maybe I wasn’t completely exhausted after all. Maybe I had just enough energy to bond with him before I collapsed.
I stepped back and grabbed his hand. Dragging him behind me, I marched out of my lab and pulled him through the station. My lab wasn’t far from the quarters I shared with Prixy. We made it in about half the time it usually took for me to get there. This was due to me almost running and the fact that the station was deserted at that time of night.
I pulled Manik through the front door, past our lounge room and down the short hall to the last door, my bedroom. The soft lighting of night had flicked on when the door had opened and allowed us to see our way. Prixy would normally be watching something on the holo tube, but the apartment was silent and empty. I’d worry about Prixy tomorrow. Right now, I wanted to strip Manik out of his clothes and explore every inch of his body with my lips and tongue.
The door slid closed behind him and I realised I needed to explain a few things before we could get started.
“Bonding happens when mates come together for the first time,” I said as I turned around and stood in front of him. Reaching for the edge of my top, I pulled it off over my head, exposing to his view my bare arms and my sleeveless support top.
“I don’t know how much it will affect you, but once bonding is complete, I won’t be able to sleep with another man. I won’t get aroused by any other man, and the actual act of intercourse would be painful for me.” I reached for the closure of my pants and undid them, pushing the formfitting fabric down my hips and legs, my tail slipping free of the fabric, until I could step out of them. I was left standing in front of him dressed only in my underwear, with the spots on my upper thighs and shoulders in plain view.
I looked up into his eyes to see that they had indeed heated, not scorching yet, but well on their way to getting there. A little shiver raced down my spine. This was it, the moment I’d dreamed about and fantasised about for three hundred and thirty-four cycles. He was finally here with me and we were going to bond.
Reaching for the hem of his shirt, I started to lift it in preparation of taking it off. His arms remained by his side, pinning his top down. I caught a glimpse of dark hair over the lower section of his stomach I’d exposed before I looked up into his eyes.
“Manik?” Didn’t he want to bond with me?
“Do you expect to lead, Ellie? I have news for you. I know all about bonding and what happens. I also know what it will mean for you and possibly me. If we’re going to do this, we need to get one thing straight. I’ll be in control in bed. I don’t mind being on the bottom, that’s not what this is about. What it’s about is you trusting me to have your pleasure in my mind at all times. Trusting me to know what you need and to give you as much as you can take.”
I stared up at him, my hands still clenched around his top. My body was completely on board with what he’d said. A needy throb had started between my legs, heat spiralling through my core. My head was trying to catch up. All the men I’d ever been with had enjoyed my bossiness in bed, even Stadden—especially Stadden. He’d liked me telling him what to do. The thought of giving over the reins to Manik made my stomach quiver in excitement, but my head balked at the idea.
What if I didn’t like what he was doing? Could I tell him? What if I wanted it harder or faster? Was I allowed to say something? Would he listen to me or just ignore me and carry on? I supposed there was only one way to find out. He was my mate, and I had to trust that the universe had given me the right man.
I dropped my hands and stepped back, suddenly unsure of myself. I felt self-conscious and hesitant. I didn’t know what to do now. What did he expect of me?
I looked away from his penetrating gaze, and for the first time in a very
time, I felt out of my depth.
Warm fingers stroked up my arms, sending tingles racing across my skin. They ran across my shoulder, up my neck and cupped my cheeks tilting my head back gently to look up at him.
“Trust me, Ellie. I’ll never hurt you. I’ll always make sure you’re taken care of, and I’ll always have your pleasure foremost in my mind.”
I searched his eyes and found only honesty there. Maybe I could be honest with him, too.
“I don’t know how to be this person you want me to be.”
“You don’t have to change, Ellie. You just have to trust me.”
“But I’m bossy, and you said you want to be in charge.” I didn’t understand what he was trying to say. How could I be what he wanted to be and stay the way I was?
“You can be bossy as much as you like, as long as you understand if I’m fucking you slow because I want to build the pleasure until you can’t take anymore and you tell me to go faster, I’ll continue fucking you slow until I’m ready to go fast. I’ll hear you, Ellie. I’ll never ignore you, but I’ll also do what I want, because I know how to make you purr.”
My core spasmed. He was so sure of himself, so in control, it was starting to affect me on a visceral level. All I could do was try. I wanted this to work between us, and just because he was my mate didn’t guarantee an easy time of the beginning of our relationship.
We were two individual people with two separate lives and experiences. We had personalities to bring to the relationship, and we’d have to learn about each other and find ways to settle our differences. I expected there would be fireworks at some stage, but I had every intention of working my hardest to make our relationship last. I could let him be in control in bed if that was what he needed. He was just going to have to be prepared for me to try and tell him what to do because it was part of who I was.
I nodded up at him, still a little unsure, but prepared to try for him. The gentle heat in his eyes turned scorching in an instant. The fire burned into me and turned me liquid with desire. I wanted him to always look at me like that—with passion burning in the depths of his eyes.
He didn’t respond, but what he did do was draw me up onto my tiptoes for a kiss—a hard, wet thrust of tongue that sent my hands grasping at the fabric of his top to steady myself. He pushed my desire higher and higher with his kiss until I moaned into his mouth. I wanted to feel that sensuous mouth moving over my body, but he was in control, and I had to try to remember to let him lead.
He pulled back from the kiss, which I didn’t want to end, and stared into my eyes. The look in his eyes almost stopped my heart. I’d thought I knew what it was to see passion in his eyes before, but now they almost glowed, they were so hot. A little shiver of excitement travelled down my spine and raised the fine hairs on the back of my neck.
His hands stroked down my neck, a delicious heat that I couldn’t wait to feel on other more sensitive parts of me, and down my arms to my hands, which he pulled from his top. Releasing me, he reached behind his head and pulled his formfitting top off. It fell to the floor with my own clothes.
My gaze skimmed over the luscious bronze skin he’d revealed to me—the hard muscles of his chest and shoulders. A smattering of dark hair lay between the muscles of his chest leading down to the ridges of his stomach and the dark hair I’d glimpsed earlier that led to the low waist of his pants. A black tattoo marred the skin of one of his wrists—a band that ran all the way around it and had some kind of writing below it. My natural inclination was to reach for his pants and start to undo them, but I held back, waiting for him to make his next move.
He wasn’t bulky with muscle—what he was... was perfect. The corded muscle of his arms flexed with his movement as he bent over and undid his boots, the smooth, muscular expanse of his back begging me to stroke it, to run my fingers along the skin and feel the texture against my fingertips, to feel his warmth seeping into me. He stood before I found the courage to touch him. I was unsure of how he’d react, unsure of myself and what he expected of me.
I watched him toe his boots off and kick them to the side. Even his feet were attractive, the tendons and veins standing out in stark relief against the bronze of his skin.
I looked into his eyes and made a split second decision. If we were going to do this, I had to be free to touch him when I wanted to touch him, kiss him when I wanted and not be constantly worried about his reaction. If I constantly had to think about what I was doing instead of letting my actions flow naturally, I wouldn’t enjoy our coming together, and this was our bonding. I wanted to look back on it with delight and know it was everything I’d ever imagined.