Authors: Linda Mooney
Tags: #sci-fi, #aliens, #alternate worlds, #action, #adventure, #sensuous, #science fiction, #space opera, #romance
Kelen slowly shook her head. “When we do the Confirmation, it will be the same thing as a wedding ceremony on my world. We got it covered. When do you think we can do it?”
“Soon. Very soon.”
“All right.” She scanned his long, hard body. This time she didn’t hesitate, placing a hand on his thigh and sliding it provocatively over to his abdomen, stopping just short of touching his erection. “So,
we can get down to giving each other a little physical pleasure?”
“We are allowed…within limitations.”
Kelen threw him a stern look. “Within limitations? What the hell does
“Only that there are certain…excesses…we cannot explore until after we have completed all of the ritual.”
“Until that happens, what
From the smile that instantly appeared on his dark-furred face, she knew he was happy to show her.
She knew when he left her side. She heard him feeling around the floor and guessed what he was searching for. Rolling over, Kelen opened her eyes. The glowing symbols gave out enough light for her to spot him near the far wall.
“Want me to help you look?”
There was a faint, whispery sound, followed by what she’d swear was the trickle of water. She started to grin when Kyber whispered, “I believe I’ve found a bath.”
“Huh?” Getting to her knees, she crawled over to join him. Instead of the toilet, he’d uncovered what appeared to be part of the underground springs. She dipped her hand into the nearly meter-long, half-meter wide aperture when her fingers encountered the flowing water. “It’s warm.” Bringing her hand up to her nose, she sniffed. “It smells a bit like sulfur. I’ll bet it’s coming from those caverns where we found those pools. God, what I wouldn’t give for another hot bath.”
“Why not indulge yourself?”
She shook her head and was caught in a wide yawn. “I’m exhausted. I’m afraid I’ll fall asleep and drown. What made you think the bath was here?”
“I didn’t.” Kyber pointed to the three distinct glyphs, ranging from pale lavender, to purple, to a purplish-red. “I pressed the first one, that’s how I discovered it. Do you recall which one you touched to find the toilet?”
“Sorry. Try the other two.”
He pressed the middle symbol and another part of the floor slid away. This time it was what he was seeking.
Kelen turned away and returned to the center of the room, trying to make herself as comfortable as possible, despite the fact that the rock-like tile made for a harsh bed.
“Hurry up over there. It’s chilly,” she groused good-naturedly.
“Patience, woman,” he playfully growled.
Closing her eyes, she half-listened to the sounds of him moving about the room. Every so often she thought he touched a symbol to see what it would produce, but her mind was fogging. Her thoughts became disjointed as her weariness dragged her back into a restful sleep. Running her hand over her upper arm, she remembered Kyber doing the same thing not too long ago.
He nuzzled her neck as the gooseflesh rose along her skin. His claws tickled, teased. His hot breath scorched her left breast. They were lying on their sides, facing each other, which enabled her to bury her nose against his chest.
She cradled his sac in her hand, gently squeezing it as she listened to his breathing grow erratic. Running a fingernail along the sensitive underside made him jerk.
She snickered. “You love it, and you know it.”
His hand grabbed her thigh, hoisting it over his hip and waist. The action spread her open and vulnerable. He pulled her closer, then reached between her legs to place himself at her entrance.
Kelen raised her face to gaze into his emerald green eyes. Instead, he took her mouth and took her body.
She couldn’t move. His hands gripped her bottom to where she was locked in place, held rigid, enabling him to penetrate her. He pushed into her a few millimeters, pulled out, then pressed inside a bit further. The gradual advance enabled her cream to lubricate his thickening muscle before he managed to fill her.
A shiver of desire went through her as her body remembered the ecstasy his lovemaking brought her. She enjoyed the way her possessed her. She knew that everything he did was to bring her pleasure. And when she was done, she helped him to reach his.
She wriggled her hips. The ache was back. The longing to have him within her again was steadily growing stronger.
Rolling onto her back to face him, she waited for him to turn around. She watched as he examined several more of the glowing glyphs.
“Isn’t this an odd time to be experimenting?” she teased.
She heard him snort. “I’m looking for some kind of material or fabric I can dry off with. My fur is still damp from the mist at the lakes, and if I allow it to remain that way, my skin will become irritated.”
She started to ask him what made him think the indigenous people of this planet used fabric, when she remembered the remains of the tiny mother with her child. The skeletons had been picked clean by the eye worms, but they appeared to be wearing fragments of clothing.
Kelen propped herself up on her elbows to comment when he reached down and brushed a pale gray symbol. Without warning, the floor beneath her legs and feet slid sideways. Kelen yelped as her legs and feet dropped downward and her equilibrium shifted. She scrambled to pull herself back onto the floor as Kyber rushed over to where she lay sprawled. Pausing, he glanced down at her and chuckled.
“I think we found the sleeping arrangements.”
“The what?” She was fully awake now. Scooting backwards on her butt, she lowered her legs. They didn’t go far. Her feet touched something that was both firm and soft. It yielded slightly when she pushed on it. Kyber crouched and reached down.
“It’s padded. First the lavatory, then the bath, and now the bedding. I wonder what else we will find beneath the floor?”
Kelen lowered herself into the depression. The opening was less than half a meter deep, but took up almost half of the apartment space. She ran a hand over the sides and bottom.
“It explains why there’s an absence of furniture. Apparently they didn’t believe in pillows or blankets, either.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “It looks big enough to hold both of us. Barely.”
Kyber crawled inside and laid down. Holding up a hand to her, he drew her down beside him. Kelen curled into a fetal position and he spooned behind her. The unmistakable knob trying to separate her butt cheeks made her smile. Heat went through her, filling her with that wonderful ache to make love again, and she deliberately nestled closer to him.
“Kelen, please stop.”
She craned her neck in his direction. “I can’t help myself. Have you ever done it doggy style?”
“What is doggy style?”
“From the rear.”
His answering sigh was heavy, wafting across her back. “That is a position we must avoid until after our Confirmation.”
She made a face, knowing he wouldn’t see it. “Well, damn. We’ve done it with you on top, with me on top, and on our sides. And
you’re placing restrictions?” She felt him chuckle.
“Patience, woman. We need our rest.”
“You weren’t this adamant about resting an hour ago,” she reminded him.
“Neither were you. If I recall correctly, you were the one who started falling asleep in the middle of our lovemaking.”
“You were wanting a third go-round and I was worn out. I’ve gotten my second wind now.”
Kyber laughed. Drawing his arm around her waist, he dropped a kiss to the back of her ear.
“Rest, my one. The others will be rising soon.”
“And then what?”
“We determine our next action. As a group.”
“In that case, since I’m one-eleventh of this group, I vote we make this area our centralized headquarters. We can't keep wandering all over this planet like a pack of explorers. We need a place to call home. A place where we can feel safe and secure.”
He ran his claws through her hair. She loved the sensation it brought her.
“Make that two-elevenths.” He burrowed his nose against her scalp. “Why is it I don’t feel lost when I’m with you?”
Kelen smiled and closed her eyes. “Why is it I don’t fear what the future holds when I’m with you?” she countered.
His hand slipped over her breast and gently squeezed it. She started to move onto her back when there was a pounding on the door.
“Kyber! Kelen!” The voice was barely audible, making it difficult to tell who was on the other side. “You guys awake? Get up! Hurry! Get out here!”
Kyber muttered a word in his language as they scrambled to get dressed. Although she didn’t know what it meant, she smiled to herself. Chances were good it wasn’t a pleasant remark.
He went to unlock the door as she tied her hair back. The portal dropped into the floor to reveal Fullgrath standing here, a pissed expression on his face.
“What is the emergency?” the Seneecian demanded, glancing over the man’s shoulder.
“Someone was here while we were asleep.” The ex-weapons master turned his attention to Kelen. “It’s good to see you up and moving about, Chambliss. How are you feeling?”
“Any aftereffects? Any fever or nausea?” Sandow came up behind them. He peered into her face, peeling down her lower lids, then laid two fingers against her neck.
“Other than being tired, I’m fine,” she insisted.
“Sounds normal to me,” Fullgrath dryly remarked.
They heard a shout. Mellori ran up to join them.
“Besides the room where we put the bodies, we’ve found evidence that at least two more apartments were entered,” the man said.
“Show me,” Kyber demanded.
The former engineer led him to the far side of the nonagon where the others were waiting. Kelen stood back to watch. The remains of the planet’s inhabitants had been placed in one of the rooms next to the corridor leading to the lakes. Kyber followed Mellori and Fullgrath into the apartment. A few seconds later, the men emerged, along with Gaveer. They paused outside the doorway.
“What?” Kelen walked over to join them. “What did you find?”
“We placed the remains in nice, neat rows,” Mellori told her. “Someone’s disturbed the bodies. Several of them have been tossed or kicked from the pile.”
“Who discovered it?” Kyber asked.
Jules raised his hand. “I did. Call it morbid curiosity, but I wanted to examine the remains. See if there was anything about them that might give a clue as to how they died, and why they were piled up like that in the middle of the floor. When I saw they’d been disturbed, I told Fullgrath. That’s when we decided to check the adjacent apartments.”
“What evidence did you find in the other rooms that makes you believe they were entered?” Kyber questioned.
“Come. See for yourself.” Tojun led them to the door of the apartment next to the makeshift mausoleum.
Kelen went with them. Jules was standing guard at the entrance. She noticed Massapa also appeared to be keeping watch at the next apartment in line.
As they had before, Kyber and the others went inside, only staying a few moments before exiting. Kyber pointed to the doorway where the Seneecian stood. “Same thing in there?”
“Pretty much, yeah,” Gaveer answered.
“Will someone tell me what the hell you’re talking about?” Kelen glared at each of them. “What evidence?”
“There are holes punched in the walls,” Jules answered.
“I’m wondering if whatever got in there got stuck and tried to force their way out,” Fullgrath guessed.
“Why did they go to those three, but none of the others?” Kelen inquired.
“Who’s to say they didn’t?” Massapa pointed to the other apartments. “The doors automatically lock once someone’s inside,” he noted. “These three were empty. The next apartment in line is where Gaveer, Tojun, and I slept. They may have tried to get in, but the sealed doors prevented them from entering.”
“Or they could have given up after trying those three, thinking the rest of them were also empty,” Kyber surmised.
“But the room with the bodies wasn’t empty,” Kelen reminded them. “Why doesn’t that door lock?”
Mellori rubbed his chin. “Maybe the rooms are equipped to recognize body heat.”
Staring at the ex-engineer, she realized they were a few men short. And by short… Kelen checked the atrium. “Where’s Dox?”
“Squirreled up in our bunker. Messing with his odds and ends. Happier than a starving man facing a twelve-course dinner, now that he has a place to park all his gear and space to work.”
Everyone turned to see Tojun staring at the doorway to the apartment next to the one where the other Seneecians had spent the night. The gray-furred alien knelt and ran his hand along the edge of the portal as the others went over to see what had caught his attention.
“Here.” Tojun ran a claw down the side.
Fullgrath peered closer. “Well, I’ll be. Apparently, whatever’s behind this didn’t stop after inspecting those other rooms.”
“This is our place,” Jules stated.
Fullgrath nodded. “And it looks like they tried to use their claws or something to try and pry the door open.” He paled slightly and gave Jules a questioning glance. “Did you hear anything unusual last night? Any scratching noises?”