Clans of Kalquor 5. Dani Watson is a sex slave on the planet of Dantovon. Having escaped post-Armageddon Earth, she’s resigned to spending several years working in a brothel to pay off her slave contract. Her one consolation is that she avoided being captured and enslaved by the Kalquorians.
When a Kalquorian clan buys her contract, Dani attempts escape. Crashing on a remote moon puts her life in jeopardy, leaving her and the clan of Gelan, Wynhod, and Krijero fighting for survival in a hostile environment. Worse still, they’re being hunted by a group of brutal Tragooms who are determined to capture Dani and subject her to a fate worse than mere slavery.
Rating: Carnal. Mild BDSM. Forced seduction. Multiple sexual partners.
Dani considered him as he stared into the dancing flames. She found Krijero hard to read. He was gentle, compassionate, and looked after her carefully. He’d thrown himself on her when percussion blaster fire raged around them. He’d even opened up to her a little the one time when they’d made love. His occasional clumsiness endeared him to her, made her feel better about her own awkwardness, and made him more approachable than the rest of his self-assured species. Yet he was mostly silent around her. He rarely looked her in the face. He often seemed ill at ease when she spoke to him.
Dani remembered the vulnerability he’d shown that one night, how it had made her want to make him happy. Such a fascinating dichotomy, this man who demonstrated both courage and a sense of having been hurt. It bothered her that he continued to keep her at arm’s length.
“You don’t like me much, do you?” She kept her tone nonchalant.
He looked at her then, his eyes wide with surprise. “On the contrary. I like you more than I’m comfortable with.”
Well, that was interesting. “Why do you say that?”
He laughed, the sound embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to admit that. Your question shocked the answer out of me.”
“You don’t want to like me?”
Krijero shrugged. “I hate putting myself on the line with another person. Like you, I was hurt by someone I loved. I have a mortal terror of rejection now.”
Dani nodded. Rejection was hard. Every rebuff she’d ever suffered had humiliated her, made her feel small and unimportant. And there had been so many.
She swallowed. “Who pushed you away?”
The Imdiko stared into the fire once more. “A Dramok I had a long relationship with when I was young. We were together for several years, and then when we were of age he clanned another Imdiko. I never saw it coming.”
No wonder he came off so much like a kicked puppy sometimes. He’d been dumped for someone else. “Wow,” Dani breathed. “What a jerk.”
Krijero laughed hard at that. “I suppose he was. I’ve called him much worse.”
Dani scooted to sit closer to him, to give a show of support. To her delight, he circled her waist with one arm. “So how did you end up trusting Gelan and Wynhod enough to clan with them?”
He admitted, “It took a long time. I thought it had to be some kind of joke they were playing on me, asking me to be their Imdiko. I mean, I trip over my own feet, I never remember to brush my hair, I have the worst time talking to people I don’t know. Why would they pick me?”
“Nothing plays hell with your self-confidence like someone telling you you’re not good enough.” Dani sighed.
“Believe me, I know that for a fact.” Krijero smiled and shook his head. “I was so scared it would happen again. I can’t believe Gelan and Wynhod didn’t give up on me, but they finally convinced me they really wanted me to join them.”
“You’re lucky to have found them. I’m jealous.” She leaned back to consider him. “We’re a lot alike, maybe.”
He nodded. A lock of hair fell over her face, and he gently smoothed it back for her. “I think we are. I like you, Dani. But I don’t want to get attached and have you leave when your contract is up.”
She blinked hard against the sting of tears. “I like you too. But no one has ever stuck around, so I’m waiting for your clan to disappear on me too. You may end up thrilled to see me go when the three years are done.”
He studied her in silence for a few moments, his face working as he seemed about to say something several times and stopped himself. At last he did speak, his tone so faint she had to strain to hear him. “I don’t think so. I think despite all my attempts to not fall in love, I might fail.”
Dani bit her lips together. He liked her that much? Enough to think he might want to keep her? Tears escaped despite her best efforts, and she knuckled them away. She wondered how long it would take before her usual impulsive stupidity changed his mind. “We’re a mess, Krijero.”
He nodded. “I suppose we are.”
“Want to have sex?”
Another burst of laughter, and he pulled her close, his face dipping down for the first kiss. “I do. I think we can trust each other for that, at least.”
His tongue invaded her mouth as he lowered her to the platform. He felt so amazing against her body, so warm and strong. Dani opened her legs to him, letting his searching hand dive into her damp folds.
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