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Kiley took deep breaths, trying to keep herself from falling into a fit of panic. The cold air of the room hit her mostly naked flesh and she shivered. Her trembling fingers tugged at the collar around her neck to no avail. Looking down at herself, she adjusted the sparse material covering her breasts, then moved to the thong, tugging at the thin string of material as it crept deeper into the crease of her ass.
God, she hated these things. Only a man would come up with something so annoying and uncomfortable. They'd arrived on Veenori just a few hours ago. The small planet nestled on the outskirts of the charted galaxy played host to thieves, pirates, and criminals looking for a place to hide. Its desert environment made the climate almost unbearable, especially for someone used to one that was more temperate.
"Two minutes, slave."
She cringed as her kidnapper attached a long leather leash to her collar. His thick fingers trailed down her cheek, making her shiver in disgust. Narrowing her eyes, she stared into his black ones, refusing to show fear or back down. She was a princess, after all, although she hadn't mentioned that to Jenik. She knew of his reputation, his cruelty.
Jenik hated royalty and despite the money he would receive from her father if he ransomed her, the man would rather see her dead than returned home. So she'd kept her mouth shut and her true identity a secret.
"Your beauty will bring quite a price," he murmured. She jerked her head away and he gripped her chin, making her flinch in pain. "I know many men who would love nothing more than to tame that pride of yours, that arrogance. You will learn to submit, slave, or die. The choice isyours."
She swallowed, wondering how in the hell she'd gotten into this mess. Kidnapped, her best friend and royal companion killed. Guilt ate at her insides like a hungry animal. She should have never left home. She should have waited for her escort, but she had been so agitated.
She'd been able to avoid marriage, using the time to try to find the man of her dreams. She wanted love, not some aristocrat who was only after her money and the right to proclaim Delnista as an ally. She wanted a man to be her hero, her lover, her friend. She wanted a man who could stand up to her temper, fight back, not cower and give in so his wife wouldn't nag him. But that man had not materialized and she'd begun to come to terms with the arranged marriage her father wanted. She loved her father dearly and would do what he asked of her, despite how sad it made her. She'd looked long enough. It was obvious her knight just wasn't out there.
"It's time, Jenik," the bar owner yelled from the stage.
With a tug, he pulled her past the curtain and in front of the roaring crowd. She coughed as nasty smoke filled her lungs, making her eyes water. Squinting past the haze, she stared at the mass of men hovering close to the stage. Lust shone in their eyes as they watched, making her tremble in trepidation.
"Oh, God," she murmured.
"The bidding will begin at four hundred kilnotics," Jenik shouted and the men around the bar scoffed loudly at the sum and a small part of her bristled.
"She's worth every penny," Jenik continued. "Notice these breasts."
Her top fell to the floor and with a gasp, she raised her palms to cover herself. Jenik's hand landed across her cheek with a loud slap. Lightning flashed behind her eyes, and she blinked to try to clear the tears beginning to well.
"You will not cover yourself, slave," he snarled in her face, his nasty breath making her want to gag. "Is that clear?"
When she didn't answer, he slapped her again, making her cry out in surprise. Jerking her head around, she glared at him in anger. "Fuck you," she snapped.
Jenik's eyes narrowed in hatred and he lifted his hand, ready to strike again. Kiley braced herself for the blow.
"Six hundred kilnotics," a voice called and she searched the crowd, anxious to see who had bid.
Her gaze landed on the man who arrogantly worked his way through the crowd and her heart skipped a beat in surprise. Is that the man who'd bid? He now stood just below her at the base of the stage. He was tall, with tanned flesh and blue eyes as hard and cold as the arctic ice on her home world and boring into Jenik with glaring hatred.
"Lucien," Jenik snarled.
The man nodded. "Jenik."
Kiley continued to watch the man named Lucien, surprisingly intrigued with his dark good looks and smoldering eyes. His shoulders were broad and his waist trim. Black hair hung around his shoulders, giving the bidding stranger a roguish appearance.
He wore black leather pants and a white shirt open halfway down his chest, showing off smooth muscles that any other time she'd want to run her fingers over. Around his neck hung a medallion of gold that spoke of wealth, while the blaster attached to the upper portion of his thigh spoke mercenary. They were the only ones allowed to carry such weapons.
Mercenaries thought of money first. They were greedy. Maybe this man would be her best bet to get back home. She could offer him much more than he could ever dream. She just hoped he didn't share Jenik's opinion that the galaxy should be rid of royals.
"Seven hundred," another voice called, this one much higher pitched, almost whiny.
"Well, well," Jenik drawled with a half-smile. "Now we're getting some bids. Apparently, they like your feisty attitude and look forward to taming you."
Curling her lip, Kiley rolled her eyes and watched in shock as the bids continued to climb.
"Eight hundred," Lucien called.
"Nine hundred," another bid and Kiley squinted, trying to get a better look at the faces in the dark, smoke-filled room
"Fifteen hundred," Lucien said.
She gasped and turned her gaze back to Lucien.
"Stop bidding against me, mercenary," a man growled as he stepped forward from the crowd.
Kiley's eyes widened in fear as she stared down at the Veenorian. Oh, God no. His green-tinged skin rippled as he moved forward, his oddly bent, thin legs carrying him even closer to the stage. Golden eyes dilated then retracted as he took in her figure and exposed breasts. She prayed the mercenary would bid again. The thought of that lizardlike man laying a finger on her made her ill.
"Three thousand." Lucien's deep voice carried across the room, making the Veenorian scowl in growing anger.
"Four thousand," the Veenorian growled, his gaze narrowing on Lucien as he strolled forward with more arrogance than any man should possess. "I thought I told you, mercenary, she's mine."
"Only if you outbid me, Milash," Lucien drawled, obviously unconcerned with the man's threatening demeanor. "Ten thousand kilnotics."
Even Jenik raised a brow at that figure. Kiley began to back away slowly. The last thing she wanted was to be in the way if it came to blows. Lucien's cold stare locked onto hers and she froze, her heart pounding wildly at the intensity of his blue gaze.
"Going somewhere, slave?" Lucien asked with a raised eyebrow and she swallowed as tingling warmth spread through her stomach.
Jenik turned and wound his hand around her leash, tugging harshly. She stumbled forward with a squeal, her hands reaching out to grip the leash and tug back. The action was a reflex, but it angered Jenik and his hand once again rose to strike. Her chin lifted and she faced him head on, daring him to hit her.
"I wouldn't if I were you, Jenik," Lucien cautioned in a deadly tone. "Not if you want me to buy her. I prefer my slaves to be unmarked."
His lips lifted in a slight sneer. "I don't envy you, Lucien. You'll have your hands full with this one. I'm happy to be rid of her. Milash, unless you want to outbid the ten thousand, she goes to Lucien."
Milash shook his head with a low growl of anger.
"Look's like she's yours, mercenary."
With a hard tug at her leash, she fell from the stage and straight into Lucien's hard chest. Strong arms encircled her waist, holding her upright when she would have bounced off his chest and fallen flat on her bare ass. The warmth of his skin seeped into her, warming her body from the outside in. Inhaling, she caught the whiff of spice and musky male, making every part of her body tingle.
No man had ever made her react this way and she didn't have a clue what to make of it. He was a stranger, her new master, her captor, and she had no business feeling attraction toward him or, God help her, even lust. Lifting her head, she gazed into icy blue eyes and could have sworn she caught a hint of compassion.
"Let me go," she snarled.
He raised an eyebrow in amusement, but kept his arms around her. "You'll find, slave, you'll get farther with me if you use sweet words, not commands. I'm the one who gives the orders. You'll learn that soon enough."
Every part of her shivered. Whether in anticipation or fear, she had no idea.
"This isn't over, mercenary," the Veenorian snarled, and Kiley swallowed at the menace filling his tone.
Lucien snorted, ignoring him, and the Veenorian walked away, grumbling under his breath. Reaching into his pocket, Lucien pulled out a chip. Waving it over a small handheld device Jenik placed before him, he set the amount, then tossed it toward Jenik, who caught it in midair.
"Appreciate the business, Lucien."
"Yes, I'm sure you do," he drawled, then bent to throw Kiley over his shoulder. She gasped for air, struggling to find a more comfortable position as his shoulder bit into her ribs.
"What ... what are you doing?" she croaked. "Where are you taking me?"
Pressing against his back, she tried to raise her head and peer around his shoulders, but they were so damn wide, she couldn't see anything.
"Damn it," she cried, slapping her palm against his lower back. "Answer me."
Lucien froze and Kiley did as well, wondering if perhaps she'd gone too far.
"Woman, if you slap me one more time."
"You'll what?" she asked before she could stop herself, then immediately regretted it.
"I'll show you what."
He lowered her from his shoulder and dropped into a nearby chair. With a tug at her leash, he pulled her forward and over his lap, her head almost to the floor, her ass in the air. Kiley gasped, struggling to sit back up. Surely he wasn't going to spank her. His palm landed across her ass with a stinging slap and she cried out in surprise. Mortification burned through her as her gaze caught the leering men who watched the master discipline his slave. This was insane.
Another slap and she gulped in air, shocked at the warmth that began to settle in her pussy. Men around them began to close in, cheer with every strike of his palm against her flesh. Wetness began to coat her inner thighs and she whimpered, fighting against the rising tide of desire.
This was wrong--so wrong.
Again, he slapped her ass. Men yelled and cheered, their leering facing forever burned into her mind. Her flesh began to sting and burn. The heat of a flush moved along her limbs and up her cheeks as his hand continued to land across her ass with amazing strength.
"Stop," she yelled.
"Stop what?" he growled, then slapped her again, making her wince.
"Nope," he quipped. "Not what I wanted to hear."
His hand landed across her ass again and she scowled. "I don't understand."
Tears gathered in her eyes, both from the sting as well as the mortification of her arousal. She prayed he hadn't noticed. Prayed he couldn't tell how wet she was getting with every slap of his palm. She never imagined something like this would turn her on, make her hot. Closing her eyes, she tried to ignore the men staring at her, tried to block out their yells of encouragement and pleas to let them have a turn.
"What am I, slave?"
She struggled to think past the pleasure pain. "My master?"
"Yes." His hand landed across her ass once again. "So stop what?"
"Stop, Master," she whimpered, so angry with herself for letting him get to her, making her submit like this. "Please, Master, stop."
He tugged her up and she winced, closing her eyelids tight as he turned her and set her on his lap. "Look at me," he commanded and she opened her eyes, staring into his, shocked at the lust simmering in the midst of the icy blue. "Remember that," he murmured.
She nodded, rendered speechless by her own lust humming through her veins.