Thursday, December 22, 2022
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
CAPTIVE (The Survival Race, book 1) - CHAPTER 53
last week's episode, Max and Addy killed Regan and fled to the refuge just before Max blacked out from the tranquilizer dart. Are they finally safe? Keep reading to find out.
An abducted cop and a gladiator prisoner must learn to trust each other with their lives…and their hearts…to escape their alien captors.
up reading on CAPTIVE here for free: Chapter 1 Ch2 Ch3 Ch4 Ch5 Ch6 Ch7 Ch8 Ch 9 Chs10&11
Ch22 Chs23&24 Chs25&26 Ch27 Ch28 Ch29 Ch 30 Chs31&32 Chs33&34 Ch35 Ch36 Ch37 Ch38 Chs39&40 Chs41&42 Ch43 Ch44 Ch45 Ch46 Chs47&48 Ch49 Ch50 Ch51 Ch52
Was he dead?
Somewhere in the darkness, an angel murmured a lullaby. The words were hard to discern beneath an unceasing, swift roar that sounded oddly like rapids. His eyes opened. A curtain of red and green lights gyrated across a starry black sky. The Southern Lights. A visual effect from the refuge’s electromagnetic fields.
Max was alive.
The deep inhale of night air tasted like damp moss, decaying earth, and freedom.
Pain throbbed in his head. His nose. His shoulder. His— Hell, where wasn’t there pain?
At his side, rocking and softly singing to Noah, Addy sat by a small fire. Its soft glow danced on her face and hair, highlighting the red strands. If he thought her beautiful before with hair matted and stringy, face tired and dirty, and body smelling of sweat and blood, then she appeared a goddess now, clean and pure with a golden firelight aura.
She turned in his direction. “You’re awake!” She practically jumped atop him, throwing her arm around him, kissing his face, hugging him tight with the arm not cradling Noah. It hurt like hell, but he wasn’t about to complain. She pulled her lips from his forehead. “Your fever is gone.”
“How long?” he croaked.
“You were in and out of consciousness for three days.”
Sitting up made his head spin. He fell back.
“Three days?” He didn’t remember a thing.
“I was scared you weren’t going to make it. You developed a fever and the chills. That’s why you’re covered in leaves. I had to keep you warm since you have no shirt.”
Had she also warmed him with her body heat, or had that been a fever dream?
“There’s a hot spring right over there. You can clean yourself up when you get your strength back. Are you hungry? I found berries and roasted a squirrel, or whatever they’re called here.”
“No.” He coughed to clear paste from his throat.
“You need water.” Holding Noah on her hip, she went to the river, dunked a clean piece of cloth—that had probably been part of her shirt once—and brought it back. “Drink this.” She placed the wet cloth to his lips and squeezed. Cool water trickled over his tongue and down his gullet. It all seemed familiar. This must’ve been how she kept him alive.
“I made spears. In case Regan or Ferly Mor return.”
It had been three days, yet no one had come after them? Ferly Mor must have seen Addy had managed to drag Max’s unconscious body no farther than the tree line. Why, then, hadn’t he reawakened Regan to retrieve them? Perhaps the alien was in worse shape than he thought. Had he needed medical treatment he couldn’t administer himself? Had he returned to HuBReC? “Speaking of spears. Can you forgive me for killing you, again?”
“If anyone should ask forgiveness, it’s me. I shouldn’t have gone after Regan with the bat. I should’ve stuck to our plan. Maybe then you wouldn’t have lost so much blood.” Her voice cracked.
Reaching to wipe her tears took some effort.
“You’d think I’d be dehydrated after three days of this, yet the tears still come.” She gave him a faint smile.
Max managed to sit up, the leaves falling off him, his stiff joints cracking. It felt good to move. “It’s okay. We’re safe now. We’re free.”
Her head fell onto his dirty chest, and he wrapped his arms around her, holding her against him, wishing he could absorb her pain.
“I was scared you wouldn’t make it.” She whispered it this time.
He tightened his grip, being careful not to squish their beautiful son. They’d made it. They’d actually survived the escape. All three of them. He wanted to cry in relief and for joy and for a brew of other unsettling emotions. His chest shook from repressed sobs for their freedom and their new life.
“Let it out, Max. Crying proves you’re human.”
Of course it did. No wonder it was the one expression he had mastered hiding from others. For fifteen years, sadness and grief manifested as anger and brutality. It was easier to hit than to hurt. Crying showed weakness, vulnerability.
He peeled her from him, letting her see the tears spilling from his eyes. Her jaw quivered as she smiled through her own tears before hugging him again.
Nearby, the rapids raged like a beast in the night, a cold contrast to Addy’s tender-hearted calm. Her body, soft and warm and relaxed, provided the love and safety he’d hadn’t known since his abduction.
Addy was home incarnate.
The fire popped and crackled. The wind rustled leaves and carried to him a sweet fragrance of some flower he recognized but couldn’t name. Moonslight shimmered on the river. He held them for a long time, until his senses filled completely with the peaceful night, the woman and child in his arms, and hope for their future.
If it were up to him, he’d stay like this forever. But something raw and subhuman gnawed deep inside his gut. Each time he inhaled her musky, feminine scent, it grew restless.
He squeezed his eyes shut and tightened his grip, wanting to feel her pressed against him, her breath on his skin, and her heart beating against his. Blood rushed to his groin, making him hard. He rearranged things hoping to ease the growing discomfort. It didn’t help.
She was his woman, dammit. Why couldn’t he rip off her clothes and claim her right here, right now?
“Addy.” He managed to get her name past the lump in his throat. “You’ve found my soul and reawakened it. You’ve made me feel something I haven’t in fifteen years—human. Yet you make me feel more primal than anything else on this planet. I can’t stop wanting you. Wanting to protect you, provide for you, and most of all…possess you.”
He leaned in for her mouth, feral desire demanding he free his libido and prove he was master. Somehow, something stopped him. With lips a half-inch from hers, he hung his head. There was no way he could kiss her without throwing her onto her back and dominating her like a savage animal. “I’m sorry, Addy. I want to be a man for you, but I’m still a beast.”
“If you’re a beast, then so am I because I want all those things, too.”
“Of course. That’s how you feel when you’re in love.”
Light and shadow danced across her beautiful face. No one ever looked at him the way she did, like he was something special. He wasn’t worthy of her love. He knew that, but damn if he wouldn’t spend the rest of his life learning how to love her the way she deserved.
“What happens now?” She had never used that shy, vulnerable voice before. It strengthened his protective instincts. He wanted her by his side forever.
Gathering courage, he knelt facing her and put two fingers to his lips in the start of a Hyborean accord. “I vow to devote my heart, my body, and my soul to only you, Addy. My life mate.”
Her eyes widened in understanding of the significance of his oath.
Sure it was sudden, but he couldn’t imagine being without her, so why wait to declare his feelings? It wasn’t like she’d say no after confessing her love. He placed his hand on her chest. “Do you accept my promise?”
A warm hand covered his. “I do. And I vow to devote my heart, my body, and my soul to only you, Max. My husband. Do you accept my promise?”
When the light touch of her hand rested on his bare chest, he pressed it tightly to him. “I do.” He leaned forward and tasted her soft, sweet lips. She opened her mouth inviting him inside, and his tongue found hers.
Fire coursed through his blood, feeding the predator trapped inside. It paced its cage with feral hunger. It roared with the frustration of captivity. It wanted to unleash its dominance. It wanted to consume her body. It wanted to sink its canines into her soft flesh and mark her as his mate.
He refused to free the beast. Addy needed—no deserved—tenderness. He’d give her that tenderness no matter how much his body ached. It might kill him, but he would tame his carnal urges and take it slow because he loved her.
* * *
She wrapped her free arm around him, wishing she could hold him with both.
His mouth explored hers with kisses, gentle and sensual, yet an untamed hunger reminiscent of the ice cavern burned below the surface. The intensity of his desire was nearly palpable. If he didn’t touch her right now, she’d go crazy.
He broke the kiss.
Gasping for breath, evening air rushed back into her lungs. Was that all he could handle? Was he too injured for more?
“Where’s that hot spring you mentioned?” His sexy, husky voice made her heart flip.
“Right over there.” She helped him to his feet, though he really didn’t need it, and together they kicked dirt on the fire until it extinguished.
His hand found hers and instinctively their fingers intertwined. “Lead the way.”
With both Luna Major and Luna Minor casting a silvery light, she led him through the woods. Steam rose and curled on the surface of the dark pool like hands waving in seductive invitation.
Max pulled off his ragged pants and slipped naked into the pool, disappearing beneath the water. Would he mind if she stayed? Probably not. He’d never been bashful about being naked in front of her.
When he emerged, he scrubbed his hair, face, shoulders, and chest. His hands dipped beneath the water to wash the rest of him. Too bad it was too dark to glimpse those parts. She should probably leave him to his privacy, but dammit she didn’t want to.
“You didn’t happen to make soap, did you?” Before she could shake her head no, he drew in a sharp breath.
“My shoulder hurts. I can’t reach my back.” His mouth turned down and sad, puppy eyes gazed up in pleading, hopeful invitation. “A little help?”
Addy’s belly flipped in anticipation. Her heart pounded. She could do this. After all, it wasn’t the first, second, or even third time he had seen her naked. Though, it was the first time she wanted him to see her naked.
Addy slowly lowered Noah, asleep in her arms, to the soft, moss-covered ground. She removed her shirt and pants and tucked them around him. Thankfully he didn’t wake.
At the edge of the bathing pool, she unhooked her bra and let it fall to the ground. Very aware of Max’s sleek cat eyes watching her, she pulled off her underwear and then carefully stepped down the warm, smooth rocks lining the spring. Liquid heat rose above her calves, her thighs, her hips, and stomach. Tiny ripples lapped the bottoms of her breasts. She shuddered from the heat of the hot spring and the heat from Max’s intense gaze penetrating her soul. He didn’t break eye contact as she came to stand before him.
Desire darkened his eyes, but he made no move. She drew her arms around him and lightly, tentatively, slid her palms up his wet back, over his shoulders, and down again.
His breath came out ragged. His chest expanded and grazed against her nipples, making them tighten. Still, he made no advances as she gently rubbed wet hands up and down his back, washing him.
The chirring and whirring songs of nocturnal creatures filled the peaceful night air. Heat seeped into her muscles, relaxing her, soothing her, daring her brazenness. She pressed her breasts against his hard chest and kissed his lips, tentatively at first, until the pent-up desire released in a torrent of wild need.
Max didn’t reciprocate her heated frenzy. He kissed her gently and with deliberate caution.
Was he afraid he’d scare her? Didn’t he realize she didn’t fear him? That she hadn’t in a long time? Or was he afraid his inner beast would overpower his control? Slowing to match his pace, she was rewarded with a tender make-out session that surpassed all others.
She slid her hands down his back and cupped his cheeks, kneading the taut muscles. Max’s strong arms pulled her tighter to him, trapping his erection between them.
Frustrated he did nothing more than kiss, she guided his hands to her breasts. His fingers didn’t disappoint as they brushed, caressed, and teased in all the right places. He had told her once that he knew how to satisfy. He hadn’t been kidding. His fingertips brushed up and over her breasts and then down the sides of her ribs, tickling them. His lips roamed down her neck to her nipples. Apparently, his mouth knew how to satisfy, too.
Alternating sensations of warm mouth, cool night air, and the steaming bathing pool set her flesh tingling and heightened her need. Never had she wanted anyone more than she wanted Max right now.
She pressed her hips against him, trapping his hard-on again. “Take me,” she whispered.
His body tensed before he pushed out of her arms.
What did she do wrong? Did he not love her after all? Did he regret the vow he had made? A lump formed in her chest. “Don’t you want me?”
“Hell, yes, Addy, I want you. I want you more than anything. But I won’t take you.”
“Because you don’t deserve to be pinned beneath another rutting beast.” Moonslight illuminated the regret in his eyes. “That won’t happen again. Whatever we do tonight will be your choice. You’re the alpha. You have dominance over me.”
He wasn’t rejecting her. He was submitting to her. That couldn’t be easy for him. Could she love this man any more?
Palms up, Max’s arms opened wide. “I’m all yours.”
She glanced at Noah, asleep and safe on the moss. They were both all hers. A real family. Her son and her husband. Love swelled in her heart.
Hand against his hard chest, she playfully shoved him backward to the spring’s rocky wall.
He didn’t resist.
She half walked, half floated into his arms. “Kiss me,” she said, and he did. Careful of his wounds, she took her sweet time exploring every hard, muscular inch of him, hands and mouth roaming, squeezing, licking his incredibly sexy body.
He reciprocated with slow caresses of fingers, lips, and tongue. His mouth moved down her neck to her breasts, to her nipples, and back again. He caressed her back, her butt, and between her legs, teasing, touching, pleasing her like no one had before. Frustration heightened within her core, and she ached for him to be inside. She pushed him onto the ledge and reached between them to stroke his hard, thick cock.
“Hell, woman.” The sexy, raspy words came from deep in the back of his throat. “How am I supposed to control myself when you do that?”
“Maybe I don’t want you to control yourself.” If he tore into her and devoured her right now, she’d die happy.
“Tell me what you want.”
“I want you to make love to me, Max.”
“You’re the alpha, remember?” He devoured her with kisses, his tongue darting inside with a wild hunger on the verge of losing control. His fingers ran down the sides of her breasts, her ribs, over her hips, and between her legs again, where they worked their wicked magic.
Her breath came faster. She held his penis, forgetting her part in gratifying him. How could she think with this exquisite torture? Her core ached with need. She would burst from the pleasure. “Please, I want you inside me.”
“Me too.” His voice strained, as if it took every ounce of his magnificent being to keep his feral urges under control. And yet, he didn’t stop the torture.
Unable to withstand the ache, she straddled him and guided him inside, taking him on her terms, liberating her shameless lust. She unleashed weeks of repressed need and want and hunger as she rode him hard and fast.
Exposed to the night, to the elements, and to her husband in a secluded dark wood, she held nothing back. She accepted everything he surrendered in return, welcoming his feral passion.
Their frenzied rhythm launched the forest into a dizzying spin. Red and green Southern Lights gyrated, crashed, and melded together as if they, too, made wild love in the cover of darkness.
Sensations mounting, she closed her eyes and cried out, arching her back as she found release.
One more thrust, and Max’s fingers dug hard into her hips, preventing any more movements. He held her tight against him a few moments before his body slackened. His head nuzzled her neck. Hot, heavy breaths warmed her damp skin.
Panting, weak, and on the verge of sinking beneath the hot spring’s surface, she rested a teary cheek on his head, taking refuge in his strong, capable arms.
“Addy? Are you crying?”
She sniffled. “No.”
“Look at me.” He met her gaze. “Did I hurt you? Was I too rough?” The terrified look in his eyes broke her heart.
“No. You were perfect. This was perfect.”
“Then why the tears?”
She glanced back at their baby boy asleep on his moss bed. Silver moonslight shone softly on Noah’s peaceful face, and her heart ached with joy. She found Max’s eyes again. “When I first came to this planet, I didn’t belong here. But now—” She couldn’t get the words past the emotional lump in her throat.
“Now?” he coaxed.
“You’ve captured my heart. It doesn’t matter if we never return to Earth. You’re my home. You and Noah.”
Relief smoothed the lines around his emerald eyes, bringing a smile to her lips. The fact he didn’t conceal his emotions was one of the many things about him she loved.
“You told me tonight you were all mine. Well, I’m all yours, too, Max. Forever. We both are.”
He glanced at Noah and squeezed her again. He seemed to want to say something, but the words didn’t come. There was no need to push him. Max would open up when he was ready. Besides, it was clear as the night sky what he wanted to say. Anyone could read in his body language the love he bore for his family.
“This is the first time since I woke up in the breeding box that I’ve been happy.”
“It’s been fifteen years for me. I’d forgotten how good it felt.”
“I love you, Max. These are tears of joy because I know you love me, too.”
Hard, muscular arms wrapped around her, and he kissed her wet cheeks. “I do. Forever.”
No longer alone and lonely, her soul soared. No matter what the universe had in store for their future, they would face it together.
In the tranquil night, serenaded by the refuge’s nocturnal songs, Addy was safe. Free. And home in the loving arms of her naked gladiator.
Fated mates clash in an epic battle of seduction.
Escaped gladiator Kedric wants to destroy the alien rulers who tortured him and enslaved his family. Now that he’s the king of the refugees, nothing will prevent him from building an army—not his lack of Highland warriors, nor the desirable Lowland healer hell-bent on stopping him. If he can win the sexy enchantress to his side, her people will join his cause.
Myia must defuse Kedric’s bloodlust before the Lowlanders die in his futile war. Her rare power to cure his vengeance requires deep concentration and physical contact. But with each attempt to heal him, the infuriating warlord ignites her temper and desires—all while dodging her touch! If she can entice him to lay hands on her, her people can live in peace.
Can these headstrong leaders surrender their hearts and unite their goals in time to save their loved ones from alien domination?
Click here for your copy of FEARLESS and
continue the adventure and romance!
Friday, December 16, 2022
AN END LEADS TO NEW BEGINNINGS
As we approach
the end of 2022 and await the start of a new year, it’s time to jettison any
spent fuel pods and boost our rockets with fresh ones. Getting new clothes for
Christmas? Go through your closets and donate older, unworn items. Redecorating
the living room? Give that dumpy couch to Goodwill before your new furniture is
delivered. Santa bringing a ton of stuff for the kids? Have them go through
their baby toys to donate before Christmas morning to make room in their toy
Time for a new boost.
As for me, the changes here at the end of the year have more to do with business, and they are both a little sadder and a little more exciting at the same time. After a solid run of 15 years, this blog, founded by author Laurie A. Green, is closing. I was a co-blogger here on Spacefreighters Lounge every week for 13 of those years, after meeting Laurie at the 2009 Romance Writers of America convention in Washington D.C. Our association took us through our early days of seeking publication, to cover reveals, book launches, RWA upheaval, and more. This week’s post will be my last, and the end comes with some nostalgia for the good old days.
Kudos to Laurie for the many hours she spent trying to wrangle the technical details of the blog and herd the cats that were her co-bloggers and guest authors. She put in all those hours in between trying to write her own books (and manage a full-time job in the early years, too). Laurie is hereby awarded the Golden Bottle of Aspirin Trophy for her stellar efforts!
I’ll miss the old blog, but I won’t stop blogging. I’ll continue at my personal blog, Across the Multiverse, on my website every Thursday (which also posts on Goodreads), because, of course, I have plenty to say about science, romance, and the world at large. I hope all you regular readers of Spacefreighters will join me there.
One other change I am much happier to announce: I have left the increasingly hostile Twitterverse for the friendlier social media environment at Mastodon.online. Links to all my blog posts, podcasts and author announcements will be posted there at @firstname.lastname@example.org. Come follow me there!
Goodbye, Spacefreighters, and happy spacefaring to all,