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When ex-soldier Poussé receives an unexpected job offer from the mysterious Waterloo Group, she doesn’t question the providential timing. Twelve hours later she wishes she had, when she’s captured by two sexy blue-skinned warriors—Jonson and Mali of Mystic Valley.
“Pussy, get your ass flat before somebody shoots it off!” George, the team leader’s, voice roared in her headset.
Poussé promptly dropped her ample backside as she scrambled behind a bush with forlorn blue leaves. In vain, she peered through the nearly bare branches for any sign of the rest of her team members. One minute the team was bunched together, the next she was alone in a surreal wilderness of bright red pines and purple-leaved trees with black glittering bark. Cradling her rifle in her arms, she elbowed deeper in a tangled clump of bushes, praying that none of the strange plants were poisonous, as she speculated about the clusterfuck her team was engaged in. Admittedly, she was new to the team and had little experience with their missions, but it didn’t take a genius to figure this operation was a disaster in progress.
From the start, the mission was a farce. The team was composed of mostly misfits and newbies. Their equipment was minimal. At midnight, they all piled in the back of a truck and rode through the night to a wide spot in the road at the foot of a mountain where their driver dumped them without a word. Then they hiked four hours up the mountain until they reached a narrow icy cave where an old man with cold scary eyes waited with two prisoners.
In Poussé’s opinion, the prisoners were stranger than the old man. One man with wild curly blond hair was dressed in faded hospital scrubs that had seen better days, and battered sneakers. The other man was bald and wore some vaguely Middle Eastern garb with sandals. Neither man wore a coat. Then the old man informed the team they were going to invade a secret valley in search of terrorists.
Poussé couldn’t think of any reason they needed hostages if that was the case, but she prudently kept her mouth shut. Though this was surely a clusterfuck if she’d ever seen one, she desperately wanted to remain a team member. This was her last chance. If she screwed this up, she would lose her job, her apartment and car, and have to move back in with her mother or start peddling her ass on the street like her cousin Kisha. She was ambivalent about which would be the worst outcome.
The team silently followed the old man into a slick surfaced tunnel that snaked around for what seemed like miles before finally ending in another tiny cave with a noisy waterfall across the entrance. After a brief rest, the old man started talking. “My name is Llewellyn. We are here to find a very important book. It must be recovered at all cost. You will allow nothing to stand in your way. Shoot anyone who offers resistance.”
She remembered the appalled silence that fell over the team members. Then Rick, the team leader, objected, “We can’t do that! We are not a sanctioned black ops team!”
Llewellyn pulled his own gun and promptly shot Rick between the eyes. “Any other objections?” he inquired as he reholstered his weapon. “No? Then I suggest you get on with the mission.”
Terrified and sullen, the team scouted the area, discovering a faint trail from the cave that led to a grassy circle next to a clear deep pool. Across the lush lawn a spooky stone circle guarded a massive altar stone in its center. Poussé shivered as she recalled that circle and the chills that shuddered up her spine when she brushed against one of the stones that were deeply engraved with intricate spirals and squares. It felt as though an ancient intelligence permeated the circle, safeguarding the altar within.
Her thoughts were jerked back to the present by the crack of rifle fire on her left, followed by a high cry. She shivered in the bitter cold wind, shocked by the change from the muggy heat outside the valley. Acrid sweat trickled from beneath her cap down her face, freezing on her cheeks. She shifted a few inches to her right, peeking past a thick tree trunk that was blocking her line of sight. Nothing. Where the hell was the rest of the team? There hadn’t been a peep since George, who had taken Rick’s place, had yelled at her.
Abruptly, a heavy weight dropped on her back, squashing her flat in the dirt and leaves beneath her. A razor-sharp point pressed in the tender skin just below her jaw.
“Place your hands on the ground above your head,” a deep voice murmured in her ear. A rash of goose bumps pebbled her neck when his warm breath washed over her cold skin.
Poussé mentally shuffled through several options as she muttered, “Yeah, yeah. Give me a minute here. You’re squashing me.” The man was too heavy for her to dislodge and his position, sitting squarely on the center of her spine, left her with no leverage to work with.
He knocked her snug cap to the side. With one hand twisted in her shocking blue Mohawk and the other one still pressing the knife tip to her neck, he scooted down until he was seated on her butt.
“Move. Toss the weapon away too.”
Just for a second she considered trying to turn beneath him, but decided the risk of a slit throat was more than she was willing to bargain. Pissed off at the way he had captured her, she shoved her rifle away and stretched out her arms above her head.
With swift, blurred movements, he yanked her hands down and cuffed her wrists, winding some furry material around them and knotting it. When she lifted her head up, trying to look over her shoulder at her captor, he shoved her head back down, shifting so his body was stretched over hers from head to toe.
Her cheek was ground into the dead leaves and dirt and the scent of decaying plants tickled her nose. She clenched her teeth, desperately fighting the urge to sneeze. “What the fuck are you doing?”
“Protecting you, woman.”
“Protecting me? Are you crazy? Get off me and give me back my rifle! Achoo!” The sneeze exploded with such violence her face slammed into the ground, with her nose taking the brunt.
Her eyes watered as searing pain spread across her cheeks but before she had time to complain, she was distracted by the unmistakable pressure of his hard cock pressing against her ass. “Listen, buddy. I’m not interested in that kind of action,” she protested, suddenly wriggling fiercely as she tried to throw him off.
A spicy unfamiliar scent drifted past her nose when he nipped her ear with his teeth. “Then be still or I might get the idea that you are interested. I find your ass very attractive.”
She froze, barely breathing, snuffling softly through the trickle of blood that dribbled from her nose.
He leaned forward, his cock pressing harder in the crevice between her legs as his heavy muscled chest flattened her on the ground. With a low grunt, he reached for the rifle.
Her heart stopped and stuttered before racing into a pounding gallop. The hand that touched the rifle was blue. Not tattooed. Not blue-tinged, but blue. Slowly her gaze moved up the muscular arm attached to the strange hand. Blue. Unmistakably blue. What kind of alien had captured her?
“What is this place?” She whimpered breathlessly.
A shrill whistle came from the right and he leaped to his feet, easily hauling her up by one arm to face him. “Welcome to
Risking a serious crick in her neck, Poussé looked up at the strange male towering over her. She beheld a warrior straight from a fantasy, barbaric and terrifying. Delicately pointed ears peeked through the curtain of narrow shining black braids that streamed down over powerful shoulders covered by a creamy sleeveless woolen wrapped shirt. His bared biceps were tattooed with black stylized running antelopes and his cobalt blue eyes tilted up, reminding her of a great cat. A beguiling smile curved his soft lips—beguiling until she noticed the sharp fangs. Her body shook under the firm pressure of his huge hand on her shoulder.
“Ah, none of that,” he said sternly. “Surely you are not afraid? A woman warrior?”
“What are you?” Her voice trembled even while she completed her rapid survey of the warrior before her. Strong thighs flexed beneath the dark green plain kilt that did nothing to hide his blatant erection. Laces from his short soft boots wound up his legs until they reached the four knives with elaborate ornamental handles, sheathed two on each calf. This was no play warrior, but the real deal. “What are you?” she repeated.
“I am a warrior and guardian in the valley. And you are my prisoner. Come.” Guiding her with one hand on her shoulder, he led her out of the woods. As they walked along the bank of a wide river, she jerked away, racing down the path. He might have her rifle, but she wasn’t completely unarmed. All she had to do was escape. As she pounded head-long around a clump of bushes, she barreled straight into another tall blue-skinned man waiting next to a stone bench.
“What have we here, Jonson?” he inquired as he wrapped a muscular arm around her waist.
She turned and twisted, trying to break free. Were all of the men here giants, she wondered? “Let me go!”
“She’s one of the intruders,” Jonson replied dryly as he easily plucked her from the man and handed her rifle to him in exchange. “She was creeping through the brush behind the school.”
“Really.” The man inspected her rifle, rested it against his shoulder and inquired, “What is your name?”
A smile tugged at the second man’s lips. “Indeed. Pussy Midnight. What kind of name is that?”
She ground her teeth in outrage. “Poo-say! Not pussy.” She scowled at the men. “Where is the rest of my team?”
“Most of them have been captured and are on their way to a holding at
“I don’t think so. I know my rights,” she stormed. “I demand you return me to my team.”
“You’re in the valley now. You must abide by our laws.” He patted the rifle and shot her a sly grin. “Possession of such a weapon is forbidden.”
“What?” Poussé stiffened in outrage. “I want to speak to the person in charge!”
“That’s not possible at the moment. You will have to deal with me.”
“Who the hell are you?”
“And you’re not exactly in charge, right?”
“For now, in this situation, I am in charge. Merlyn Llewellyn, clan chief of Lost Market, is very busy.”
She was suddenly light-headed as the blood drained from her brain. “Llewellyn? That’s not possible.”
Something or someone crashed through the woods behind them.
Gripping Poussé’s arm, Jonson tugged her along the path, away from
“I was wondering if you’ll be able to manage the young lady all by yourself!” Poussé stared over her shoulder at the mocking stranger. A gentle smile played across
“No.” Jonson straightened up and moved on, but he looked over his shoulder, meeting
“I’m counting on it. Now take her away. Llyon will arrive shortly to check her injuries. Try to take better care of her in the meantime.”
Jonson gestured toward the path that wound past a high cliff jutting out nearly into the river. “This way, woman.”
“Hey! Give my weapon back,” Poussé objected while she watched the path they were taking, trying to absorb as much of their surroundings as possible. She intended to make her way back the cave where they entered the valley as soon as possible.
“It will be safe with
Stubbornly, she refused to ask him to slow down. The path curved away from the river, crossing a wide meadow. Uneasily, she searched the area around them in vain for signs of civilization. Then she sighted the solitary stone house on the rocky bench above a glassy gray lake. “Slow down, dammit! You might have legs like a giraffe, but I don’t!”
“Giraffe?” he questioned absently as he tugged her toward the stone steps. “Is that some out-valley animal?”
“Where you came from,” he clarified, gesturing vaguely toward the surrounding cliffs. “I have heard there are many strange animals there.”
“Yeah. It’s a tall skinny animal with spots and a neck that’s almost as long as its legs. And by the way, you’re a lot uglier than it is.” When they reached the little house she dug in her heels again. “I’m not going in there,” she declared flatly.
“I don’t trust you.” One moment she was standing in front of him, mulishly refusing to move. The next she was upside down, slung over his shoulder, her head bouncing against the woolie vest covering his broad back while he strode impatiently up the rough steps. “Uh, Jonson?”
“I’m gonna kill you when I get these cuffs off.”
“You are free to try.” He smacked her curvy butt when she tried to wriggle free. “Be still.”
“Put me down!”
“I don’t wish to. This is much quicker.” He fiddled with the latch before shoving the door open.
She tilted her head sideways, trying to catch a glimpse at their surroundings. Mostly what caught her eye was the enticing way his firm ass moved beneath the loose fabric of his kilt. She had to admit that the man was built. Seriously built. That didn’t mean she wasn’t going to kill him. She would just have a few lingering regrets. That’s all. “Ya know if you wanted to kill me, you didn’t have to drag me this far away. The woods would have done just fine.”
“Why would I kill you? That would be a waste of female potential. No, it would be much better to keep you busy having my babies.” He emphasized his point by gently massaging her firm bottom.
“Get your hands off me!”
“You’re not moving like a woman who wants to be left alone.”
Immediately, she stilled, barely breathing. Jonson set her carefully on her feet and stepped back. She lost no time in bringing her knee up toward his crotch.
He avoided the knee, but not the hard boot that she brought back down squarely on his toes. Correctly assessing her plans for escape, he tripped her as she leaped past him, taking her to the floor where he rolled her onto her stomach and sat on her butt while he removed his boot and knives, gingerly checking his abused toes for damage.
“Son of a bitch! Get off me!”
“I am not a fool!” he snarled as he cradled his screaming toes in his hand. “You’ve done enough damage for now.” His toes burning, Jonson cautiously touched them, checking for fractures. When she nearly unseated him again, he grabbed her nearest ankle and set to work on the boot laces. She wasn’t going to need shoes while she was in the cottage, anyway. By the time he removed both boots and socks, he felt like he’d been fighting a nest of grimahrs.
He eyed the laces in the boots, then with a brisk nod, he swiftly pulled them loose. In a few moments he was in the possession of two strong lengths of cord. Some slick moves and determination were required but shortly, he sat back and surveyed his captive with deep satisfaction. Her feet were secured to the bottom of the heavy corner post that supported the foot of the high bed in the outer room and her wrists, stretched over her head, were fastened to the bottom of the other corner post.
Poussé was screaming loud enough for them to hear her in
“Like what?” she sneered. “You think I’m afraid of you just because I’m a girl?”
Jonson got to his feet and hobbled to the table and chairs situated in front of the empty hearth. Jerking a chair out, he sat down and thoughtfully stared at his captive while he shrugged off his woolie shera, absently noting the bloody smears on the back from her nosebleed. Thanks to
From the moment he put his hands on her, he’d determined to claim her as bond mate for
First he had to eliminate her chances for a successful escape. After that he could worry about convincing her to take the vows with
Fangs glinting with wicked anticipation, he stood up, immediately capturing her attention. Poussé swallowed hard.
Jonson saw the way that fear tightened her muscles, but she’d already demonstrated her willingness to do almost anything to escape. Though she believed she was tough there were dangers in the wild parts of the valley that she was unaware of—dangers that could lead to her death in an instant. With an inward sigh, he approached his captive, rolled her onto her belly and slit her shirt up the back. He zipped the sharp flicknife down the outer seams on her pants and stood up. With two jerks she was undressed, leaving her in a soft gray garment that covered her breasts and another that covered her pussy and generous bottom.
She had closed her eyes at the first rending of fabric and now lay still on the floor. Jonson pressed his lips together in thought. After a moment, he undid the cords knotted around the bedposts, lifted her up and tossed her onto the high bed. She was moving before she landed, but he anticipated her moves this time by leaping on the bed with her.
Sprawled across her body, his heavy muscles pinned her in place. He captured her cuffed wrists and stretched her arms out above her head where he refastened the cuffs to a metal ring embedded in the heavy headboard. With a tired sigh, he rolled from the bed, gathered up her shredded clothing and limped over to the chair by the fire.
Keenly aware she watched in horror, he went through all the pockets, easily discovering the hidden weapons. Ignoring her frenzied attempts to escape the cord tied around her wrists, he built a fire in the hearth with slow deliberation. When a healthy blaze flickered from the small logs, he fed her clothing to the fire, one piece at a time until it was nothing but a pile of embers.
As he finished stirring the ashes to make sure there was nothing left, a soft knock at the door heralded the arrival of a visitor. Jonson hobbled to the door and admitted a man with long fiery red braids. “Llyon! Any news?”
“The invaders are all captured. I am here to check your prisoner.” Llyon’s eyebrows shot up when he took in the woman tied to the bed. “Trouble?”
Jonson snorted in disgust. “Check my toes and then ask me that again. She’s completely uncivilized. What do they do to their females out-valley?”
Llyon studied Jonson’s swollen toes, then knelt to check them for fractures. Jonson breathed shallowly as he felt the warm tingling of a healer plying his talent. In a few moments, the pain was gone. When Llyon finished, he stood up and stretched before approaching the bed. After a brief visual check of her obvious injuries, he smiled reassuringly. “I will examine you,” he calmly explained. “I can do so while you are awake. Or I can put you to sleep. Which do you prefer?”
“If you touch me, I will kill you.”
“Ah? Asleep then.” When he reached out to touch her, she snarled at him, lunging against her bonds, snapping her teeth at him. Adroitly, he avoided her attack, touching her lightly on her forehead, and seconds later she dropped into a sound sleep.