I’m excited this week. Today, I’ll be showcasing Imogen Keeper. Space Erotica! Do you love Sci-Fi? Space travel and different worlds but want a lot of great action and a wonderful story? Imogen’s got you covered. Remeber. this preview is for those over 21.
This is fantastic.
Tam is brutal. Hard. Uncompromising. Resigned to a lifetime alone. Until he finds a woman frozen in space, suffering from a deadly disease. There’s only one way to save her – to Bond her to him for life with his mind, his body, and his serum.
She must choose – her people – or his love.
When her planet is invaded by alien slavers, Nissa launches into space in a cryo-pod in a desperate search for help. Tam may be her savior, but their future is not meant to be.
In a universe at war, Nissa and Tam battle their dangerous addiction and their own stubborn hearts. Their strange part-chemical, part-mystical Bonding brought them together – and just might be what tears them apart.
READER ADVISORY: Graphic sexual content and language. No fade to black here! Including one attempted attack on the heroine.
No fade to black. Perfect action. Wonderful writing. Join me now in the reading of The First Chapter of the Bonding. The first book in the Tribe Warrior Series
THE BONDING – Imogen Keeper
I’m going to be a rocket,
Launched into space.
Nissa ran, lungs burning, sobs gasping. If branches cut the skin of her hands and
limbs slapped at her face, it didn’t matter. It was nothing compared to the suffering of
She had to warn her father. She jumped a fallen tree and landed in dark mud. Her
feet lost traction and she slipped, falling hard onto her hands and knees, tearing the thin
fabric of her dress. Bloody scrapes marred the skin of her knees.
One of her sandals had broken. It hung, hopeless, from her left ankle. They hadn’t
been designed for frantic running through the forests. They were for dancing on the
terraces outside the palace, for strolling manicured paths through the Red Gardens. They
were designed to be pretty and useless. Like her.
Nothing was pretty anymore. Nothing was right. Nothing was how it was supposed
to be. A drop of blood rolled off her palm, disappearing amid decaying red leaves on the
She closed her eyes. Red. The color of life. Beauty. Warmth. Now, the color of
death. Destruction. Blood. Above her, barely visible between crimson leaves, the sky
burned blue-violet. Even the furry-tailed Splirantu were silent in the trees, mourning the
death of her people. Of her world.
How many had died? Thousands. The quartz-cobbled streets of Trian pooled with
Trianni blood—the bodies of men piled up like bricks in a wall, with blood for mortar.
Still fighting to catch her breath, she tossed the broken sandal. It disappeared amid
lacy ferns and low, scrubby trees with fiery fronds. She took off the other one and threw
it after its mate.
The murderers weren’t just enslaving her people. They were torturing them.
She had seen them, seen the murderers, their skin glowing white as specters.
Laughing as they’d leveled their weapons on the surviving Trianni, herding them like
She’d spied from the edge of the forest, crouched behind a fallen log, desperate for
a glimpse of her defected people, hoping they’d been given safety. They hadn’t.
She had watched the off-worlders, their shining black hair flowing down their
backs, glossy beneath the sun. They moved like animals, smooth and almost graceful.
Fast. The deal was off. The Trianni who had gone to them had been promised food
and shelter in exchange for labor. Lies.
She rose to her feet and ran on toward the ancient bunker her people had been
using for shelter.
Finally, she rounded the dip in the forest floor and saw the familiar metal doors of
the bunker. Her father stood in a cluster of elders with Hialmeron, the wise one.
“Father,” she called, but her breath was so short it barely made a sound. “Father!”
she tried again and this time they all turned, faces shocked. No one had even known she’d gone. They’d never have allowed it.
She stopped, panting, resting her hands on her knees, careless of the breach in
decorum from the queen-designate. The king raised his eyebrows at her. “What is it,
“They are killing them. I saw it—thousands in the town square.”
The men froze.
Hialmeron, with his pale, pinkish-gold hair run through with white, was the first
to speak. “It is time, Your Highness.” He turned his gaze toward her father.
She did too.
Her father had aged a decade in the months since the off-worlders had arrived,
since they’d stolen their city. Bags had formed under his eyes, deep lines around his
mouth. He’d barely eaten, saving as much of the food as he could for the others. His
robes hung, stained and frayed, on a frame grown skeletal. “You propose abandoning
Hialmeron shook his head. “I propose saving what lives we can. A hundred
preservation pods for a hundred lives.”
Nissa’s belly convulsed. A hundred of their people hurled into space. And the
“It takes only one pod being found,” Hialmeron continued when the king simply
shook his head. “The survivor can use the transceivers to locate the rest. We will launch
them in the direction of the neighboring solar system. There is life there. We must have
faith in the Goddess that one will be found to bring help back.”
“How do you choose a hundred from ten thousand?”
Nissa looked at the dark doors to the bunker that led to the underground caves. The
last of their people, still unenslaved, lived there, in the vast underground network that
had served as sewers to the ancient cities.
“You don’t,” said Hialmeron. “You let the Goddess decide. We leave it to her.”
Her father’s eyes were grim. “A lottery.”
“Yes,” said Hialmeron. “No mother would leave her child. No child should awake
alone in space.”
“No,” said her father again. “There are only four pods large enough for males. The
rest go to unmarried females, then.”
“Except for you, Your Highness, and the queen. Our people will need their leaders
when they awake.”
Her father shook his head.
“And Criamnon, their future king,” said another elder, and Nissa’s breath caught
as always at the thought of the man who’d won her hand in the Games.
“And Nissa,” said one of the others. “They will need their queen-designate.”
All eyes turned toward her.
She bowed her head, breathing deeply against the sudden burst of panic. A pod?
They wanted her to enter one?
“We will have the lottery tonight,” her father announced with a trace of his old
confidence. “The pods launch in the morning.”
She barely heard the rest of the conversation over the sound of her heart pounding
in her ears.
There’s probably a place you belong, but it’s not with me.
“Fuck,” Tam breathed the word, not with ire, but with wonder.
As in, I would never have predicted this. Not in a hundred million years. And, that’s
beautiful. And, what am I supposed to do?
From his pilot’s chair, Tam stared through the window at the red orb floating lazily
across space. It wasn’t the orb itself that caused the awed expletive to pass his lips—it
was what he could see through the oculi cut into its smooth surface.
It pulsed like a heartbeat, flashing and dimming to black. Red. Red. Red. Space
was nature, chaos and disorder. Rhythm was a fabrication, something made. By
someone, or something.
It was possible it was a sentient being in need of help, but space pirates were a
reality—or, even worse, the Vestige. Using the ship’s holographic communications
system, HolCom, he contacted base.
“This is Captain Pilot Essinger of Whistlerjet Tango-Alpha, passing though
Sellulax in Andromeda on my way back from a training exercise at Sub-Base OneRomeo.”
“I hear you, Captain. This is Communications Captain Tycho Van, Base Fleet SierraSix.
Please proceed.” The ghostly hologram of the blond-haired captain flickered in front
“I’ve encountered a vessel, suspected preservation pod.”
HolCom Tycho nodded. “Contacting your chief, Captain. Please stand by.”
While waiting, he planned his approach. He didn’t want to tell the comm captain
about the fleeting glimpse he’d seen. Not until he got closer. It was too impossible to
Warriors of Tribe Argentus were always fully armed. He wore rezal blasters
strapped to either side of the black leather bands crisscrossing the thick muscles of his
chest. A large Marssollian blade hung in its holster at his waist, a deadly knife graced a
skede on his hip and more knives waited sheathed on each thigh. A long spear-like nustal
sword rode a scabbard on his back, at a diagonal angle so he could pull it in a clean motion ith his fighting arm.
Since everyone on board a craft would die if a stray rezal blast hit the wrong spot,
there was a universal preference and a tacit agreement for hand-to-hand combat in
nearly all non-planetary altercations. So Tribe warriors trained long and hard and
brutal, and the result was that he, too, was long and hard and brutal.
The markings on his ship were usually enough to warn off pirates. No one wanted
to tangle with Tribe Argentus, the most feared armed fleet in the known universe. Still,
one could never be too careful. He’d handled his fair share of the stupid and the desperate and there were formidable alien races out there, to be respected if not feared.
“Please approach, Captain,” Tycho said, his pale hologram wavering. “Report as
Tam manually guided the ship to dock beside the blinking sphere. He tapped the
screen and confirmed there were no traces of viruses, amoebae or bacteria. Still, the pod
and the items it contained would have to be warmed and decontaminated prior to
The light pulsed as the pod drifted, slowly spinning, subject to the trajectory of its
initial push into space.
One oculus aligned with his line of sight just as the light flashed on. It held a body.
Definitely female. Silhouetted against the red light. Frozen. Nude.
From the way her hair floated around her, she appeared to be suspended in fluid or
gel. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled as he froze before the glowing glass screen.
“Fuck,” he breathed. Definitely a woman. What is she doing in a pod in the middle of
And if he was honest with himself, the single, selfish thought intruded. I want that.
“What was that, Captain Essinger? Please repeat.”
Tam blinked. “Female life form present on board. Definitely frozen.” Tycho
silenced his end of the flickering feed and spoke to someone off the holo.
The sphere spun away and with it his view of her. The presence of a female
removed any lingering hesitation or concern of a Vestige trap. They’d never have let her
go if they’d found her.
He no longer had a choice. Base no longer had a choice. “Initiating process of
Tycho’s hologram shimmering in and out of focus. “Continue, Captain.”
Even across the HolCom, the excitement in the other male’s voice pissed him off.
He curbed a childish compulsion to shout, It’s my pod. I found it.
Finding a female anywhere at all was rare, but to find one floating in the midst of
space, especially one who appeared to be so similar to their own race, was a statistical
improbability. Tam’s jaw hardened and with effort he slowed his heart rate. Fewer than
twelve percent of the females of his homeworld, Argentus, lived.
He wasted no time.
Pacing outside the sterile docking room, he waited for the computer’s voice to
echo over the intercom, alerting him that the sphere’s core temperature had regulated.
He was glad, for the moment, to be away from the HolCom and all the watching
eyes that came with it. The ship’s computer would maintain a steady feed of
information but he had at least the illusion of privacy.
His hands itched to open the pod, to get close to the female.
The tinny, computerized voice came through the speakers. “Decontamination
completed. Object is neutralized.”
The hatches to the docking chamber unsealed with an echoing hiss, leaving him
sweaty-palmed and uneasy.
His heart thumped. He strode across the room. The light cast an eerie glow. He
stepped so close to the window his breath fogged the surface.
The female floating in a reddish liquid was so small she was downright dainty.
Her hair floated around her head and shoulders like the weeds that grew in the seas of
It would have taken more strength than he possessed to tear his eyes from her.
Even unanimated, her face was beautiful, as delicate as her figure, with pale, clear skin.
If she’d been an old crone with a bald head, sagging breasts and a beard, he’d
probably have gotten hard anyway. Just because she was a woman. He hadn’t seen one
on anything but a digi-screen or a holo-vid in half his life.
This was no crone. And she looked like the women of his planet. At least enough
to hope for genetic viability.
Staring at her, his chest tightened. Space was big. The sphere was small. Entering
life preservation pods was a ridiculous act of extreme faith or desperation. No sane
person would, unless under extreme pressure. Putting herself in a pod like this had
been a massive gamble.
It meant terror. And a total lack of reasonable alternatives. She had essentially
crossed her fingers, said a prayer and killed herself, in the hope that someone,
somewhere, at some time would find her, open the pod and bring her back to life.
So many variables could have left her for lost. If I’d taken a different route. If I’d come by a week later. She’d have already drifted off, out of sight. She may never have been found.
He shook his head at the stroke of fate that brought them to this point.
She had a smooth belly and small, round breasts with pink nipples.
He circled the sphere, moving with trepidation to see her through the other oculi.
She was so small. His footsteps echoed in the silent room.
Slender legs met a sweetly rounded ass that made his mouth water. Between her
legs, gods, he knew he should look away but he couldn’t. The lips of her pussy might as
well have winked and smiled at him, all pouty and pink and…fuck.
His mouth dried and his cock grew so hard between his legs he could barely walk.
He adjusted the front of his flight-suit.
He hadn’t seen a woman since just after he’d come into his manhood. This one was
Averting his gaze, suppressing the vague guilt for viewing her unconscious body,
Tam searched for an opening to the sphere, a hinge or mechanism that would trigger its
Two depressions in the shape of hands, albeit hands far smaller than his own, were
the only markings on the surface.
His hand overhung the small depressions by more than an inch on each finger and
the entire heel of his palm.
The light stopped and the pod went dark. A buzzing hum sounded from within.
The color of the fluid changed, becoming a brighter, deeper red as the sphere vibrated.
He kept his hands in place, unsure what to do.
The surface warmed. With a hiss, it cracked open in a horizontal line, separating
the container top from bottom. The top’s internal springs pushed up, lifting away. It left
a gap large enough for him to shove his hand inside. Fog wisped from the opening. He
hefted the top with a grunt and tossed it aside.
The fluid inside had congealed, leaving a perfectly round gelatinous form that
glistened luridly in the light.
Unsheathing one of his knives, he cut the thick gel away, moving gently as he got
closer to her skin, careful not to snick her hair.
His hands and forearms quickly turned a rusty orange. He tossed chunks of the gel
aside and they landed with thick squelching plops, jiggling under the harsh lights,
piling up on the floor around them, like so much carnage. So much gel for so small a
Her eyes stayed shut, her hair matted, dark and sticky. He detected no heartbeat
but he’d never woken someone from cryo before—maybe that was normal.
He needed to get her clean. Maybe she’d be able to open her eyes if the gel didn’t
cover her lashes.
Bending low, he lifted her, as carefully as he could, and cradled her against his
So this is how it feels to hold a woman. For just a moment, he held her tightly to
his chest, wondering if she would want him when she woke. It would be a cruel twist of
fate, to find the female in space and have her turn him away, choose another, choose no
He shrugged. He’d never been lucky in his life. Not when he’d buried his mother.
Not when his sister had died five days later of the same damn disease. Not when he’d
watched his father waste away from the loss of his bonded mate. Why would his luck
Still, it didn’t matter. She was a woman and she needed him.
Resolve burning thick, he carried her to the bathing pool, where he lowered her
into the bubbling water.
He studied the woman in his arms as she sucked in a deep breath. And he released
one of his own.
She was awake. And alive. Her eyes were still closed but her pupils moved back
and forth and her body shook with chills despite the heat of the water.
What the hell must she be thinking? Feeling? Wet. Dark. Fear? “It’s okay.” There
was almost no chance that she spoke Argenti but he had to try anyway.
Water clung to her skin in tight beads, dripping down the smooth, pale skin of her
cheeks, sticking in her thick burgundy lashes. The water in the bathing pool was hot but
her shaking worsened, as if she were freezing. Not just shivering. Quaking. Down to
He gripped her upper arms and shook her. Not hard, but insistent. Wake up,
damn it. Open your eyes.
For the third time, he shoved her head under the surface of the water, hoping to
clear the gunk from her lashes.
This time, when he pulled her back above the surface, she sputtered and opened
Blinding green. Her eyes widened, darting around the room, settling on his chest,
on the soaking front of his flight-suit. He hadn’t stopped to remove his clothes, hadn’t
wanted to scare her by having her wake up naked, with a naked man.
The weight of those green eyes moved up, over her neck, along his face and settled
on his eyes.
Searching eyes bore into his, asking thousands of questions. Water slid down
smooth cheekbones, ran over full lips.
He spoke again and his voice was gruff, even to his own ears.
She shook her head. He traced her cheekbones, felt skin smooth and soft. Her teeth
chattered. He pointed at the skin of her forearm, tracing a long finger over veins that
spread in dark-blue webs. He tried to let his worry show on his face so she’d
understand that something was wrong.
She had to feel it. The sickness in her system. Goose bumps rose over her skin. Her
nipples were nearly blue. He couldn’t imagine how scared she must be to awake naked,
in a strange room with a strange man and have no idea how much time or distance had
passed since her last conscious thought.
She shivered, breathing fast, heart pounding a fast pulse in her throat. What the
hell was wrong with her?
“I’ll get you help. You need a healer,” Tam promised, but she didn’t understand
She said something, fast, in a pretty, harmonious voice that didn’t hide her fear.
“It’ll be okay. I’m going to help you.” He picked her up in his arms, keeping his
eyes averted from her naked body, and carried her out of the pool to his room.
“She’s dying,” Tam announced flatly to the control room a scant minute later.
He hated leaving her, even for a few moments so he could contact base again. He
masked emotion from his voice as he spoke to the hologram of one of Base Fleet Sierra-
Six’s healers, Ajax. He was an old friend. It would be far too easy for Ajax to read Tam.
“Look at her stats,” Tam said evenly, glancing up at the HolCom of the healer. His
ship’s computer had linked to the base’s mainframe and sent her medical stats for the
healers to review. “Tell me what to do.”
The connection was as shitty as ever. The three-dimensional HolCom of Ajax’s
blond head appeared and disappeared, fading and crackling before Tam’s pilot chair.
In order to send transmissions across lightyears of space, they had to be relayed
through a series of tiny portals, anchored at even intervals. The resulting delays meant
fading images and choppy sound. Better than nothing.
Ajax’s HolCom eyebrows furrowed as he reviewed the woman’s health status.
“Low blood pressure. Low heart rate. Breathing rate is low. Core temperature low.” He
met Tam’s eyes but his voice stayed even and calm. “It’s a common form of
hypothermia that results from long cryo freezes. It’s called the blue-tinge.”
“Whatever it’s called, it gets worse every godsdamn second.”
“Quite the find, Tam.”
“Shut up and tell me how to fix her.”
Off-screen, chatter surrounded Ajax, who stood in WarCom, a massive, dark
conference room on Sierra-Six where the higher-ups made important decisions.
Ajax tapped away at his own glass digi-screen tablet, probably searching for past
patients with similar afflictions. “It’s in the veins, right? They’ve gone dark. How far up
her arms and legs does it go? From her mouth?”
Tam frowned. “Last time I checked maybe mid-thigh, upper arm, and to her
Ajax looked up from his screen, eyes narrowed. Tam hadn’t felt fear in a long time
and he was embarrassed to admit its soft fingers stroked his neck as he studied his
Something in the lines around Ajax’s mouth warned Tam his answer wasn’t going
to be a good one. “Dark purple.”
Ajax cocked his head to the side and the hologram wobbled. An almost amused
curve lurked at the corner of his mouth. Tam held his breath, knowing and fearing at
the same time what that half-smile meant.
“It’s time you started considering using your serum.”
Tam rolled his shoulders, flexing his palms, glad that his dick, stiffer than his
sword, was below the viewer of the HolCom feed.
“Look, Tam. Her body scans show her organs to be similar to ours. We’ve never
encountered a race as similar with whom the Bonding didn’t work. You can save her by
Bonding with her.”
“We don’t speak the same language.”
Ajax tilted his head slightly, regarding Tam with pale, laughing eyes. “I’m sure
you can find some way to communicate with her. It’s a formal request. From Healing to
you. You can say no.”
That was a lie. There wasn’t a warrior on board Sierra-Six, hell on any base or
colony of Argentus, who wouldn’t blame him if she died. Tribe warriors didn’t let
females die. Not if they could stop it. Not ever. End of story. He’d never forgive himself.
Ajax continued, “Forming a permanent union is drastic. But I’d say the situation is
When she’d opened her eyes, green, intense, unlike anything he’d ever seen, and
she’d looked at him for the first time, he’d seen fear bloom. Part of him had died. She’d
been so sick, too weak to do more than shiver.
He didn’t know her name or age. If he used his serum to save her, she’d be stuck
with him forever. How would she feel about that? He couldn’t explain the
repercussions to her. It felt like a theft of her whole life. How would she feel about the
method he had to use to save her?
He wanted nothing more than to claim the female as his mate. But like this? Hell
How do you explain to someone that you need to fuck them or they’d die?
If someone said that to him, he’d kill them. Dead before their ass hit the floor.
Ajax locked eyes with someone off-screen. The admiral maybe. Tam wondered
from how high up the commands came.
“It’s a request,” Ajax repeated. But it wasn’t. Not really and Ajax knew that too.
HolCom Ajax faded to black-and-white for a few seconds then blinked back into vivid
Ajax raised his eyebrows as the hologram flickered. “She’s dying, Tam. You can
save her with your serum.”
“You mean my semen.”
“If you prefer that word. I’d say by injecting a life-saving serum into her mouth
and then mating with her.” Ajax leveled an even gaze at Tam, meeting his eyes through
the holographic feed across millions of miles of space. He tilted his head to the side
coolly. “If you’re really uncomfortable with the idea, you could put her in a hot bath,
pray like hell that she’ll make it, bring her back here. Another warrior could supply the
“Like hell.” Even Tam was surprised by the growl that came from his throat.
Ajax exhaled an amused laugh. “I thought so. Don’t let her die.”
Tam wasn’t sure what to say.
After a long silence, Ajax spoke again. “If your sister had become a woman,
escaped danger in a pod and was found by a warrior, only to awake with the bluetinge,
what would you have told the warrior to do?”
Tam swallowed heavily as an image flashed before his eyes of his sister as she’d
been before she’d died. Little more than a baby. Pink cheeks. Eyes gray and solemn and
so big in a little face. What would she have looked like, all grown-up? He blinked. “I’d
have told him to save her. No matter what.”
Ajax nodded. “And if you were her? Would you rather die?”
“Understanding is part of the nature of the bond. Go slowly. Don’t scare her. Your
body’s chemistry will help you. Your kiss holds aphrodisiacs.” Ajax lifted one shoulder.
“Trust in fate. It led you here. It will work out.”
Tam scowled at the flickering holo of his friend. “What do you know about
Ajax smiled thinly. “Nothing. But I’ve studied the Bonding enough to know it’s a
lot more than just chemistry. Serum isn’t just a medicine. It’s a piece of your soul that
you give her with your bond. You will know her heart, her language, her history. And
she’ll know yours. It’s a transference of the cells in your body. It will change both of
you.” He frowned, eyes unreadable. “This is a good thing, man. You get a mate. She
gets a warrior who’ll stop at nothing to keep her safe.”
Put like that it didn’t sound so bad. Still. It didn’t exactly answer the burning
question in his mind. How the hell would he convince her to let him have sex with her?
“Hey, Ajax,” he said as the other male turned to leave the screen.
“Fuck you.” Ajax smiled.
“You’re one lucky prick, man.”
The HolCom imploded in a burst of clear white light.
Tam stared at black space beyond the windows of the flight deck. A hundred
thousand stars stared back at him, polychrome clouds of distant galaxies. Space stared
back, empty and merciless, a naked seductress, gravid with silken promise and
smirking rejection. She offered everything. She offered nothing.
Lucky. It wasn’t that simple. He’d gladly spread her wide open, spend a few days
with his tongue inside that sweet pink pussy. He’d happily make her scream and writhe
and he’d take her every possible way he’d ever seen on the pleasure holos.
If she were willing. But what if she wasn’t? He couldn’t exactly ask her. He
couldn’t even imagine what she’d think, seeing him, a great brute, coming at her, trying
He shook his head, leaning against the hatch frame of his room, looking at her slim
form under the covers. He was stalling, trying to decide a clear way to proceed.
Once the Bonding was complete, they’d be joined permanently. He didn’t think a
Bonding had ever been broken.
He’d only ever been with one woman before, the dominess who had conducted his
manhood ceremony, in which she’d taught him how to give and receive pleasure. And
he remembered every second of the three sacred days he’d spent in the company of the
Tribe priestess, his cock shoved deep within the warm comfort of her pussy. He’d loved
every heartbeat of it. It had come as naturally as breathing. But he’d been young then
and his serum hadn’t been fully mature. It was now.
This would be something entirely different. The Bonding. Alone in his chamber, in
the solitude of space, when he fisted his cock, he imagined a million scenarios. This
hadn’t been one of them.
He approached. Her hair spread across the pillows, red and wild as a silken, florid
vine. Even asleep, she was so beautiful it almost hurt to look at her. Every warrior’s
instinct in his body called out to help her.
And before he could save her, he had to actually make her his. He scrubbed his
hands through his hair again, at a loss. Indecision. Self-doubt. Not emotions to which he
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And there you have it. The First Chapter. Engaging, unique and beatuifully erotic to its core.
Book 2, brings us another couple but things aren’t so black and white for our hero. The world gets trickier. This story is as wonderful as the first.
Feola made a terrible mistake.
Four months ago, she Bonded with the wrong man. Now there’s only one person she can trust to help break her Bond. The man she rejected.
Ajax, warrior and healer, has resigned himself to a mateless future. When he receives Feola’s cryptic plea for help, he must decide whether to break the law and sacrifice his career, or save the only woman he’s ever wanted.
Accused of murder, running for their lives from an intergalactic government and bounty hunters, Feola and Ajax struggle to overcome her tattered past so she can love again. Will she let him into her heart, or will her tattered past tear them apart?
One thing is certain, Bonds were never meant to be broken.
Reader Advisory: This story contains graphic sexual language and scenes, including an attempted sexual attack on the heroine.
The Breaking, Book 2 in the Tribe Series… The First Chapter.
I’d never let it break.
Ajax closed the door carefully and left his patient alone. She was finally asleep.
The fever, nausea, chills and aches that plagued her body were nothing compared to
the onslaught of her emotional pain. It was difficult to believe a person could sustain such
aggressive tears. The woman had sobbed so hard and so long he’d considered sedating
her just to make it stop.
He’d never cried like that in his life, not even as a kid during the Plague of Days when
half his family died. He’d never seen anyone cry like that, shuddering and soundless, as
if her soul were separating from her body, as if her bones were breaking and her skin
fragmenting into a thousand tiny pieces.
That’s what the breaking of a Bond did.
Bonds were never meant to be broken.
If he were ever lucky enough to claim a woman and form a Bond, he’d never let it
The thought of Bonding immediately brought an image of vibrant yellow-green eyes
to the front of his mind. And as always, his body responded.
He ran his hands through his hair, his cock jutting in front of his body like a flagpole,
bobbing in his pants. He lowered his hand, maybe to tuck it away, maybe just to squeeze
the stupid throbbing monster. He’d just laid the flat of his palm along the shaft when he
There she was, standing in an open doorway directly across the hall, watching him
with those eyes, yellow green and opened wide.
Feola. As if he’d thought her into reality. She’d had him hooked like an addict
desperate for an overdue dose since the first second he saw her. He’d never wanted
anything in his life like he wanted her.
“Ay-shocks.” Even the way she said his name made him hard. As if she were singing
and whispering and moaning all at the same time.
Her gaze dropped to his groin. The look in her eyes said she knew exactly what it
was, and exactly what it was for, and exactly what he wanted to do with it. Her mouth
dropped open. Her skin flushed a pretty shade of pink.
He didn’t think. He did something he’d never done in his entire life—just acted. He
crossed the hall, reached out, took the back of her head in his palm, and moved in close.
As he slid his other arm around her back, her body bowed.
She gasped but kept her gaze locked on his. When he lowered his mouth to hers, she
whimpered. Her lips were full, and she tasted like summer on his home planet, Argentus.
Like sweet fruit and fresh water. Her tongue against his was as soft as velvet.
He kissed her again, silencing whatever she’d been about to say with his tongue, too
frantic to stop.
His cock pulsed happily against her stomach, feeling the press of a warm, female
body for the first time in fifteen years. He backed her up against a wall, tugging at her
skirts, and pushed his hand up her dress, along silken thighs. When his hand found her
pussy, so warm and so wet, he nearly came in his pants.
Her clit was rock hard under his thumb, and she kept repeating his name, crooning
it out, breathless in his arms. It sounded like a prayer. Ay-shocks, Ay-shocks, Ay-shocks.
He’d never felt so powerful and so humble in his life. Like he was as big as the entire
universe and as tiny as a quark, all at once. Nothing mattered. Everything mattered.
He stroked his thumb over the slippery button of her clit, sliding his finger deeper
inside her tight, wet passage, hooking it in, knowing instinctively what she needed.
Her hands roved through his hair. He closed his free hand over a perfect little tit and
the turgid rise of her nipple.
The walls of her pussy fluttered around his finger, soft as the wings of a butterfly,
and his heart swelled. Holy gods, there was nothing sweeter than holding a woman while
she came. He swallowed her moans, but they echoed down the halls, ricocheting and
rising in a crescendo of their own.
His cock throbbed again, demanding attention, but he ignored it, slid his finger from
her body and righted her clothes, tracing kisses along her cheekbone up to her temple.
Her breasts heaved against his chest. Her wide eyes locked on him.
“Feola,” he murmured against her lips. “I….” He paused, right on the cusp of
declaring… what? His undying devotion? That wasn’t fair. First, he needed to clear the
proper channels, make sure his superiors wouldn’t forbid a union with one of the few,
precious remaining women.
He needed to make sure she was thinking clearly, that the aphrodisiacs in his saliva
didn’t cloud her thinking, to give her time to process before he asked for a Bond. She
wouldn’t be able to think with his tongue in her throat. She needed space. “I’m sorry.”
“I didn’t mean to do that. I shouldn’t have. I—I just lost control.”
Her cheeks flooded with heat, and she backed away.
As soon as he got clearance, he would talk to her. And pray to every whispering
power in the universe that she’d say yes.
I need another chance.
Tell me I’m not too late.
Four months later
Feola had a comm of her own, a thin transparent disk the size of her palm. It even
buzzed sometimes, too. Just never for the reasons her friend’s did.
Samila’s comm buzzed as they walked through the lacy purple reeds in The Fields of
Romeo-Two. Like the rest of the women on the base, Samila was Bonded and
nauseatingly blissful in her union. Samila’s mate called to check in, to say he loved her,
to hear her voice. The smile on Samila’s face was unmistakable. It was the same smile
Feola had seen on the faces of the women from her home planet, Triannon, after they’d
been mated. It was the smile she’d dreamed of wearing herself one day.
The smile said: I love—and in turn—I am loved.
Feola had worn that smile for a sum total of seven days.
Seven days of serum-induced, mind-blowing, unnatural joy. She’d lived for her mate
during those days. For his smiles and kisses. For the intoxication of his serum, and her
own unnatural addiction to it.
Then it had all changed.
It was not a smile she would ever wear again. She knew that now. Had accepted it
long ago. She’d never have that smile.
When her own comm buzzed, she felt only fear, and lately a newfound rage that
simmered below the skin and terrified her with its intensity.
Utto’s presence pulsed in her chest, where their Bond united them permanently. His
emotions, as always, seethed and rippled, oily and viscous across her sternum, like a
parasite that had taken up permanent residence in the marrow of her bones.
He was the only person who ever called her comm because he was the only person
with her number, and her comm couldn’t contact anyone else. He’d made sure of that.
He checked in too, but it didn’t make her feel safe or comforted. He called to make
sure she hadn’t contacted anyone else in his absence, hadn’t seen anyone else, hadn’t even
thought of anyone else.
He wanted her alone, weak, and pathetic. Desperate for him.
Sometimes he told her he loved her, but when he did, she knew it was a lie. He didn’t
love her. He hated her. The line might be a fine one, but she knew the difference now.
She’d learned the difference between love and hate the hard way.
She and Samila met at The Fields occasionally to walk for a stolen hour together while
their mates trained. It was the only guaranteed time that Utto wouldn’t show up at
random. During his training exercises, she would sneak across the hall to Samila and her
mate’s chamber. Her friendship with Samila was just one of the many secrets that she
kept from Utto.
If he found out, he would forbid it.
He would do worse than forbid it.
“Let’s sit by the water awhile,” Samila said with a sly smile. “I’m a little sore from
Feola nodded, tuning out the senseless chatter. Samila was nice, but she was
oblivious, thoughtless, and complacent in her happiness as she sauntered down the
grated path through a patch of solar light that filtered down through the crystalline
domed ceiling of The Fields.
The woman placed her comm negligently on the steel bench overlooking the
irrigation canal that had been dug into the artificial terra of The Fields that comprised the base’s hydroponic farms.
The crops spread before them in tidy rows of yellows, blues, and pinks. She sat beside
Samila, so close the comm rested only a few inches away from her pinky finger.
With the wide smile that always calmed Utto when the tempers took him, she pointed
at the tiny fluttering birds around a flowering cerulean bush. “What are those?”
Samila was one of the rare Argenti females. She knew more about the world of the
Tribe than anyone Feola had ever met. As Samila prattled away about the birds that
fertilized the crops and the canal that watered them, Feola slid the comm into the pocket
of her prim lacy white dress.
Samila didn’t notice.
Oblivious. Stupidly happy.
They sat for a while. Feola nodded and smiled at the right moments. All the while,
the comm rested against her thigh, a smooth, light weight that would either save her life
or end it.
Samila finally noticed it was missing and tried in vain to locate it. They spent precious
time retracing their steps. Feola furrowed her brow, made sympathetic noises, and looked under the bench and behind the bushes, careful not to get any dirt on her dress. If Utto saw stains, he would know she’d left their chamber.
“I can’t think where it could be,” she lied. She’d become good at lying. A necessary
skill. She ignored the vision of her mother’s face in her mind’s eye, sad and disapproving.
Mamma had always said lying was bad. It didn’t matter. Mamma had died a very long
Anyway, Mamma had never met Utto. It was impossible to know Utto and not
become a liar.
Samila laughed gaily. “Jamar is going to tease me—ruthlessly—when I tell him. That’s
the second comm I’ve lost.”
“He won’t be angry, though?” Feola couldn’t help but ask and, when Samila
frowned, instantly regretted it.
“Angry? Over a missing comm? Of course not.” Samila looked for a moment as
though she might ask about Utto.
They rarely discussed him, so she laughed to distract Samila. It sounded loud and
shrill in her ears, but it did the trick.
She’d need to hurry across the base to Utto’s chambers to have any chance of using
the comm before he returned.
It wasn’t the first thing she’d stolen. Or the first thing she’d put in her stash of
supplies. Mamma wouldn’t have approved of theft either.
She refused to accept the surge of guilt. Resisted the anxiety. If she permitted the
excitement to affect her heart or her breathing, he’d feel it through their Bond.
She never quite knew how much he could actually feel of her emotions, or how clear
they were to him, but she did know he could feel her terror. Her sorrow. And he liked it.
A tiny flare of hope sparked, trilling along her spine. She squeezed her palms and
stamped it down. He’d feel that, too. And then he’d know.
She needed the comm far more than Samila did, with her safe and loving Jamar and
her thighs sore from a night of tender lovemaking.
When she entered, the chamber was empty. Clean and cool. Sterile, just the way Utto
liked it. She moved to the sink, pressed the code she’d stolen from the base’s healing bay
to contact a man she’d known several months ago, the only person she trusted to help
her now, the only person she knew couldn’t be connected to Utto or his family in any
There was a short series of ticks and a moment of silence. Then a man’s deep voice.
Ajax. His beautiful, rumbling voice swirled in her ears, bringing back so many
memories. Her nipples hardened instantly. That voice, his beautiful bright eyes. They’d
be crinkled at the edges now with concern.
She swallowed thickly, eyes closing, calling up his face, the hard jaw, the gentle smile,
his pale, soft hair, the velvety touch of his tongue to her lips. The seductive flavor of his
kiss. Utto would feel her arousal—but he’d never know the reason.
Self-loathing tore through her, and her eyes burned.
For a moment, her throat refused to function, wouldn’t shape the sounds she needed
to communicate. She dug her fingernails into her palms. “Ajax? I didn’t know who else
A hot tear escaped to roll down her cheek. Even across the distance of star systems,
the frail radio connection of their comms made her feel safer. The only connection to the
last person in the universe who might still be able to help.
“I need your help.”
Over the line, he sucked in a breath.
As her body remembered that day so long ago, her stomach coiled, heat pooling
between her thighs. He’d backed her up against a wall and plunged his tongue into her
mouth as if he wanted to swallow her heart and fuse their souls.
If only he had. She’d have let him. She’d never wanted anything more than she’d
wanted him at that moment. He’d been so big. And so hard. So desperate for her. He’d
touched her body in a place no one ever had, and he’d made her feel the first burst of
strident, unadulterated, breathless pleasure in her life.
She’d been terrified. She’d hung in his arms like a ragdoll after, as he’d stroked and
petted and kissed her face.
Until he’d apologized, which had been humiliating beyond belief.
And then nothing. He’d turned away.
For days, she’d wondered. And he’d done nothing more than nod politely.
Utto had. He’d done plenty. Utto had told her that he loved her and he’d die for her.
He’d asked her to Bond with him. Brought her tea. He’d kissed her. Whispered promises
she’d been stupid enough and blind enough to believe. And maybe a small part of her
had wanted to prove to Ajax that someone wanted her, even if he didn’t. And always,
that sweet, steaming, spicy tea.
Her body had betrayed her, responding to the unknown call of Utto’s serum snaking
its way through her system.
She parted her lips to tell Ajax she was sorry, that she’d made a mistake, that she
should have waited longer, that she’d been confused and manipulated, that it wasn’t her
fault. It was a pathetic excuse. Her throat wouldn’t obey.
“What do you need? Are you okay?” That voice again, and all the warm shivers that
came with it.
Behind her, the door to Utto’s chambers hissed, providing no more than a splitsecond
Her heart jumped into her throat.
Utto. He’d returned early.
Moving in the fluid, practiced motion she’d learned in her three months at RomeoTwo,
she opened the drawer that held their plates and mugs.
Smooth, deft motions drew no attention. Jerky behavior garnered suspicion.
With her thumb, she ended the connection with Ajax on the comm and dropped it at
the back of the drawer, where Utto would never find it. He hadn’t stepped in the kitchen
more than once in their entire time at Romeo-Two.
“What are you doing?” His voice sounded from the entrance, distrustful as ever. His
suspicion slithered in her chest through their Bond.
The door slid closed with a hiss.
“I thought I’d make some eeffoc.” She pulled two mugs from the drawer and slid it
closed with her hip, wiping her damp cheek calmly.
“You drink too much of it. It’ll stain your teeth.”
She turned to find him unstrapping the holsters that held his rezals, but he kept on
the straps of knives that crisscrossed his barrel chest.
“They can be whitened if they bother you, can’t they?”
He made a face at that, somewhere between a scoff and a snarl, jerking his head in a
sharp motion that set his dark-blue hair shimmering. She had loved that thick, shining
hair at the beginning. So different from her own. She loathed it now.
She loaded the fragrant, brown-black powder into the machine and set it percolating.
Lifting one of the mugs, she moved to put it back in the drawer.
“I didn’t say I didn’t want any,” he bit off.
She pictured Ajax’s soft eyes.
Utto’s tone augured conflict. Experience had taught her that although his anger could
only be staved off for so long, she could frequently soften the intensity of it by forcing
herself to remain gentle and sweet.
“Sorry, my love.” The false words tasted bitter on her tongue, but the smile she
offered was sweeter than the lintorippi berries they grew in The Fields.
“My cousin, Rennie, is going to come for a while. He’ll stay in one of the guest
chambers, but he’ll eat meals here. I expect you to make him feel welcome.”
She didn’t want to ponder the meaning behind those words too deeply. “Of course.
Please let me know what his favorite meals are. I can find recipes.”
When the eeffoc was ready, she poured it into the mugs, pouring cream in his, just the
way he liked it, and brought it over to him where he sat in the lounge.
He put his mug on the table in front of him and met her eyes with a look she knew
only too well.
She smiled for him again—the big, wide-eyed, vapid grin that he loved, the one that
had probably gotten her into this mess. With Ajax’s turquoise eyes in her mind, she
dropped to her knees in front of the man she’d chosen.
He spoke, but she ignored his words, conjuring up the sound of Ajax’s deep rumble
across the distance of space.
She’d find a way to call him again soon.
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