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       Dovis, p.10

           Laurann Dohner
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  “Are you going to tell Cathian or anyone else?” Dovis glanced at them.

  One answered. “No. Of course not. You wouldn’t really kill us. You’re just in a bad mood.”

  “Don’t tempt me. This is none of your concern.”

  “Mari is alone,” Three whispered. “She had hope that you might have feelings for her, until you made her think you regretted what happened between you. That’s not what you were thinking, though. You should have told her the truth. You don’t want to lose her, but you fear she’ll reject you if you don’t keep biting her. You like her, Dovis. You have mating thoughts about her.”

  “She doesn’t feel like you took advantage of her,” Two announced. “She was aware her body did strange things around you and she was curious. Now that you’ve been intimate, she has other feelings.”

  “Strong feelings,” One added. “Go to her and tell her you feel things, too. It will make her happy.”

  “She’s not happy right now,” Two grumbled. “Asshole.”

  He glared at the middle one. “Stop calling me that.”

  “You’re calling yourself that. Why can’t I? I just say it out loud.”

  “Get off my bridge and stay out of this. It’s a private matter.”

  The Pods left but all three of them shot him dirty looks. He relaxed when the doors closed and he was alone on the bridge. He took the captain’s chair and began undocking procedures, notifying the station they were leaving.

  He increased speed once they cleared the station and set a course to the planet Callon. He had just taken a seat in York’s normal station to watch for anyone following them when the bridge doors opened and Raff entered.

  Dovis turned to glare at him. “What do you want?”

  “You’re a dumbass.”

  Anger immediately filled him. “The Pods went to you?”

  “No. You removed the vid device in your cabin—but not Mari’s.”

  He was out of the seat in seconds and lunging for Raff.

  The bigger male withdrew one of his blades and pointed it at him. “Don’t. Cool down. I didn’t come to fight.”

  Dovis stopped, snarled at him, wanting to do damage to the male. “You spied on us?”

  “Do you never listen to what I say? This is why I don’t bother speaking often. I told you I usually watch someone for at least two weeks when they become crew.”

  “You also said Mari basically wasn’t a threat.”

  “That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t keep an eye on her. You took part of my advice by ditching the fur and claws, but you were supposed to keep her. She didn’t even flinch away when you got all fury before you bit her shoulder. Do you know what that tells me? You probably could have gotten away with bending her over right there and taken her before you shifted again. You’re ugly as fuck right now and she still offered to kiss your muzzle before you left. That’s got to be love, man. Get your ass back to her cabin and fix your mistake. I’ll stay on the bridge and kill anyone who tries to attack us if some idiot from the station decides we’d make a good target.”

  “Mari doesn’t know me well enough to love me. Just stop talking.”

  “Human females are strange creatures. Look at Nara. My cousin keeps her sexually pleased and he’s nice to her. In exchange, she let him put his second heart inside her chest to life-lock with her. And she fell in love with him fast. It’s probably a human thing. Not only that, she gave away her shuttle and left a career to stay with him. In comparison, Mari had a shit life before now. It’s not like you have to work hard at making her happy, and you got the sexual pleasure part right. I didn’t watch most of that—no offense; I didn’t want to see that much of you—but it sounded like you were doing good.”

  He glared at Raff, still wanting to beat him up. “Get off my bridge and remove the fucking vid device from Mari’s cabin, now.”

  “Dumbass. If you won’t take her for a mate, maybe I will, once she realizes you’re too stupid to waste time caring about.”

  Dovis fought the urge to attack again as he watched Raff put his blade away in the holster and leave the bridge. Instead, he threw back his head and roared.

  He’d fucking kill Raff if he went anywhere near Mari.

  * * * * *

  Mari sniffed the pillow, inhaling Dovis’s scent. It had been two weeks since he’d left her cabin. They’d avoided each other since. He seemed to enjoy working while the rest of the crew slept. She stayed inside her cabin during those hours.

  She missed him.

  He’d shown her a side of himself he’d said only Cathian had seen. That had to mean something. Or maybe she was fooling herself.

  The comms dinged and she rolled out of bed, tugging on her clothes to get them righted. “Mari here.”

  “It’s Raff. You’re needed on the bridge. I think a few circuits blew on the life support control monitor. It went dark.”

  “I’ll grab my toolbox and be right there.”

  “Hurry up.”

  “Sure thing.”

  She ran into Midgel at the lift. The timid cook smiled at her as she exited.

  “Do you know anything about males?”

  Midgel nodded. “What do you want to know?”

  “How do you get one interested in you?”

  “To fuck or to keep?”

  Mari had to think about it. “Both?”

  “Undress and show skin. That seems to work for most species. My race doesn’t have mates, though. We only breed if we want to birth a litter.”

  Mari felt stunned. “A litter?”

  “Usually six to ten.” She tapped her flat stomach. “I’ve bred twice. I have seventeen children in all. I removed my clothes for the males both times and they jumped on me. But after, I didn’t want to keep either of them. Males are a nuisance, and far worse than raising the two litters I’ve had. Always clinging to you, climbing on your body, and making demands.”

  Mari was still surprised by her revelation. “Where are your kids?”

  “Grown and on their own. We’re solitary creatures, once we’re adults.”

  “Don’t you ever get lonely?”

  Midgel wrinkled her face, her whiskers twitching. “No. I like being alone. I’m done breeding and glad for it. Too much talking.”

  With that, she walked away. Mari watched her enter her cabin down the hall and then got inside the lift. “Strange woman,” she muttered.

  She visited maintenance first and then headed up to the bridge. She ran over possible reasons why the console would go down on the bridge but not register on The Vorge’s computer. It should have alerted her before Raff did.

  The door the bridge auto-opened at her approach. It was the first time she’d been there. It wasn’t Raff waiting for her though. Dovis sat in the captain’s chair.

  He jumped up and spun, staring at her.

  “What are you doing here?”

  “Raff said I was needed.” She glanced around, hunting for a dark panel. Every console appeared lit.

  “Interfering asshole,” he muttered.

  The insult hurt her feelings. “I’m just trying to do my job.”

  “Not you. I’m talking about Raff. Everything is in working order.” He pointed a clawed finger to his left. “See? Nothing wrong or it would show on the monitors.” Dovis sighed. “He sent you up here for me.”

  Mari bent and placed her toolbox on the deck. “Why?”

  “I’ve been avoiding you.”

  “I know.”

  “Are you still suffering from being attracted to me?”

  She inhaled. He was too far away. She walked forward until only a few feet separated them and sniffed again. His incredible scent filled her nose and her body responded lightning quick. “Yes.”

  “You should back away.”

  She returned to her toolbox. “I guess I should go then. I wondered why the computer didn’t alert me the second it went down.”


  She turned to face him. “Yes?”

have you been?”

  Missing you. She wasn’t going to admit that, though. “Good. Working.”

  “I’m aware. I’ve been tracking your movements on the ship. You’ve done every repair on the list you were given and now you’re overhauling things that aren’t even scheduled for weeks yet.”

  “No complaints mean Captain Cathian will allow me to stay on The Vorge. I can’t lose my job.” It still scared her to think about what could happen if she were left on her own.

  “He’s not going to fire you. Harver wasn’t even qualified for the job. He learned as he went. He was always downloading repair logs and having to consult with them while he worked. When asked if he knew what he was doing, he’d say ‘we’ll see if I can get it working.’ It didn’t instill a lot of confidence. You’re excellent at repairing everything. Cathian stated he was lucky to have gotten you from the Teki.” He made a low growl. “He threatened to collar me over you. Nara and I fight often, but he’s never said he’d hand her a remote to shock me at the push of a button. Your position here is secure. More so than mine.”

  “I don’t believe that.”

  “You just need more self-confidence. I investigated other Raxis attacks after they targeted us. Are you aware that you’re the only engineer who’s ever found a fix to get the engines online again? All other crews that survived the attacks, few as they were, had to be hauled to a space dock by rescuers. You’re brilliant, Mari.”

  The compliment made her smile but it faded fast. “Brilliant would have been if I’d found a solution that didn’t electrocute me,” she replied honestly.

  “You got our engines going and saved The Vorge from being boarded. Harver wouldn’t have sacrificed himself for the crew. You did. Cathian is never going to fire you, Mari. Stop trying to impress him all the time. You don’t have to work this hard.”

  “I’ll try, but it’s ingrained in me after all the years with the Teki.”

  “You’re no longer a slave.”

  “I know that in my head, but this job keeps me safe. Protected. That’s everything in space. Humans are captured and sold. My own parents sold me because I was worth a lot of money.”

  “Do you know what happened to them?”

  She shook her head. “No. I never saw them again.”

  “Do you want me to try to find out?”

  She thought about it but shook her head. “No. I cried for a long time in my bunk every night, hoping they’d come back to say they’d made a mistake by selling me. I eventually realized they wouldn’t have done that to me if they really cared. I had lots of time to think about it. I never want to see them again. Nor do I want to know if they are alive or not.”

  Dovis nodded. “I understand. We have that in common. My parents fled our village after leaving me to die. I never sought them out or questioned what happened to them.”

  “Sometimes I wonder if my parents had more children. Do you ever think about that? If you have siblings?”

  He shook his head. “Any siblings I have would likely shun me. Or if they were also born in skin, I doubt that they were as fortunate as I was to find someone like Taznia. It would only anger me to learn my parents had killed other children.”

  “You can’t know that for sure. You know, about the shunning part. Maybe they aren’t like your parents. I try to be fair. I’m sure there are humans out there who would never sell their children. I can’t see Nara doing that. I sure wouldn’t.”

  “The only Amarai to show me care was an elderly female who had no one else. She often told me how lonely she’d been before the day of my birth.”

  “I’m glad she saved you.”

  “I am as well.”

  She nodded. “I guess I should leave.” She bent to pick up her toolbox.

  “Don’t go…”

  She straightened, staring at him warily.

  Dovis approached her slowly. “Are you angry with me? Feel as if I took advantage of your attraction to me?”

  “No. Of course not.”

  He stopped advancing. “You’re drawn to me against your will by chemicals in my DNA. I can’t allow the medical android to run too many tests. If word reached Amarai that I had bitten you, they’d hire bounty hunters to kill me, at the very least.”

  “I understand. I mean, not about why they’d want to kill you. That you need to keep it secret. I only wish that you’d stop avoiding me. I don’t know why you’re doing so.”

  “To prevent us from ending up in your bed again.”

  That hurt. “Oh. Was it so terrible for you? Do you think I’m ugly? Teki think the appearance of humans is hideous.”

  “No! You are beautiful, Mari.”

  Her breath froze in her chest for a few heartbeats. “You really think so?”

  “I know so. I find it difficult not to touch you. I always feel the urge when you’re close.”

  She smiled, happy to hear him say those words. “Thank you. I think you’re attractive, too.”

  He snorted. “Even like this?”

  She nodded.

  “I’d hurt you if I were to touch you in this form.”

  “Are you certain?”

  She felt a surge of bravery and walked closer. He held his ground, not backing away. She reached up and placed her hands on his chest when she stopped right in front of him. The teeth were a bit scary. There were two sides to Dovis, though. He was still the same man who’d kissed and touched her. Slept in her bed.

  “Please don’t, Mari. You should never touch me when I’m in fur. You’re too tempting to me.”

  Instead, she slid her hand up his chest, and then reached out and gently stroked the side of his face. The fur was thick and soft. His muzzle lowered, making it easier for her to stare deeply into his black eyes. His scent did such wonderful things to her body. It might be from his bite, but she didn’t care. Memories of what he’d done to her were fresh in her mind; she’d dreamed about him since.

  “I’m not afraid of you hurting me.”

  “You should be.”

  “I’m going to kiss you.” She went up on her tiptoes, trying to reach him. It might be awkward, and she wasn’t sure how his snout and her lips would meld together, but she was willing to try.

  He turned his head away, grabbing her hips with his hands, and she felt the tips of his claws digging into her clothing. There was no pain, though. He lifted her and spun, striding a few steps before dropping her back on her feet. He released her fast, twisted her around, and bent her over one of the consoles. The flat, table-like surface just reached her belly.

  She gasped when he pinned her there, his bigger body pressing up tight against her back. He lowered his snout, sniffing her neck…and then his fangs brushed her skin. A low growl sounded.

  Her body went crazy. Her nipples beaded, her stomach had butterfly sensations buzzing throughout, and the throbbing between her legs was stronger than ever.

  Dovis adjusted his hold, his claws lightly raking down her sides to her pants. He didn’t hurt her, his touch gentle.

  “Fuck, Mari! You should have run while you had the chance.”

  He reached up, tore her shirt at the shoulder, and bit her.

  A jolt of pain spiked for a split second—then it became pure pleasure. She moaned, bracing her arms on the console. Heat blasted through her, as if she had a sudden and high fever. Her body reacted even stronger, until she whimpered from need. She shoved her ass back against him.

  Dovis tore down her pants, hooking them with his claws to do so. He didn’t cut her skin, the sharp tips feeling more like a caress. He kept his fangs locked in her shoulder, backed up his lower body for a second, but then pushed against her to pin her in place once more. His boot slid between her feet and bumped her ankle. She understood, spreading her legs farther apart.

  He wrapped one of his arms around her waist, hoisted her higher, until she half lay on top of the surface in front of her. Her feet no longer touched the floor and Dovis was bent over her, keeping her from sliding off.

e was wet and aching. Dovis seemed to know, because a second later his thick shaft pushed against her now bared sex, and she cried out as he drove inside her. His cock was hard and hot. She nearly came when he was fully inside. It felt that good.

  He began to thrust fast, fucking her fiercely.

  Dovis made her feel things she never had before. He pounded against her ass and snarled, his fangs still locked in her shoulder. A blinding flash of ecstasy exploded through her body and Mari screamed his name.

  He released her shoulder, threw back his head, and howled.

  She felt his hips jerk, his cock pumping into her as more heat filled her. It sent another shockwave of pleasure through her limbs and she collapsed, panting, trying to catch her breath. She nearly blacked out from sheer bliss.

  “Fuck…” Dovis stilled. Then he licked her shoulder. “Damn it.” His body eased off hers and he withdrew his cock. “Did I hurt you?”

  She smiled, not having the strength to even raise her head after what she’d just experienced. The console was cold against her cheek. “No.”

  He helped her slide down until her feet hit the floor again, and his hands were tender as he tried to pull her to a standing position. Her knees didn’t want to hold her weight. Dovis lifted her into his arms, carrying her to the nearest seat. He gently put her down, trying to pull up her torn pants at the same time.

  Mari noticed he was in skin when he crouched in front of her. Concern and worry showed in his eyes as he met her gaze, then his hands were on her, pushing her shirt up to check out her stomach and hips.

  “You’ll have bruises.”

  “I’m good.”

  He made a low rumbling sound. “You’re healing quickly. But I lost control. I shouldn’t have taken you that way. I’m sorry.”

  She smiled, feeling fantastic. It was like the time she’d fallen off a ladder while working and the medics at the station had given her a shot for pain. It had made her lightheaded and silly. “Don’t be sorry. I loved every second of what happened between us.”

  He leaned forward, peering deeply into her eyes. “You’re drunk on me.”

  “It’s a good thing. Please don’t be sorry. Can we do that again?”

  He leaned even closer, resting his forehead against hers and closing his eyes. “Don’t say that, Mari.”

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