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       Dovis, p.11

           Laurann Dohner
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  “I’m still wet.” She pointed between her legs. “Soaked.”

  “That’s from both of us,” he whispered. “You were highly aroused, and I emptied my seed inside you. I’ll take you to your room and help you clean up.”

  Chapter Nine

  Mari woke alone in her bed. She remembered Dovis carrying her to her cabin and stripping off their clothing, then showering with her. Her legs had been weak for some reason, and she’d had a hard time standing straight without his help. He’d carried her to her bed afterward, tucked her in, and lain down next to her. He’d held her to make sure she was okay until she’d fallen asleep. She was pretty sure he’d stayed the entire night.

  She sat up and checked the time, cursing. Her shift had started an hour ago!

  Fear hit fast over getting in trouble. She was never late.

  Mari made a mad dash to her closet and yanked out an outfit.

  Her cabin door opened and she gasped, spinning to face whoever had come in.

  Dovis entered carrying a tray of food. He was back to fur. It reminded her that last night, he had stayed in skin on the walk from the bridge to her cabin when he’d brought her there. They hadn’t run into anyone but they could have.

  “How are you feeling, Mari?”

  “I’m fine but I overslept. I’m late for work!”

  “You’re not. I told Cathian you’re taking a day off.”

  She gaped at him, stunned.

  “It’s fine, Mari. I told you he’s not going to fire you. Time off is allowed and encouraged.” He walked to the coffee table to put the tray down. “Come eat. How are you feeling?”

  “You already asked me that, and my answer was honest.”

  “I’m just worried. I was rough with you.” His gaze ran down her body as he approached her. “No bruises. Turn around.”

  She hesitated but then did as he asked. Her cheeks felt warm with her standing there totally bare to his gaze. Not even the Teki had wanted to see her that way. She looked over her shoulder at him, watching him inspect her.

  “Good. You had some red marks here from my claws.” His furry knuckle brushed her hip. “They’re gone. Turn back around.”

  She did.

  He moved her long hair, inspecting where he’d bitten her. “All healed and no scar.” He backed up a foot. “I ordered a replacement for the pants I ruined. The Pods should deliver them outside your cabin soon. Eat. Take today off…then avoid me from now on, Mari. It’s for the best. I’ll deal with Raff to make sure he doesn’t set us up to be alone again. Trust the computer to let you know when there’s a repair to be made, not him.”

  Then he turned away, walking toward the door.

  Hurt filled her. “That’s it? We’re going to pretend it didn’t happen again?”

  He halted but kept his back to her. “I could have hurt you, Mari. Hell, I probably did but you were too drugged on whatever my bite does to feel anything but pleasure. I’m just grateful you have no lasting injuries.”

  “You risked running into the crew when you carried me back to my cabin. You stayed in skin.”

  He remained quiet.

  “Is the idea of being with me that bad? Is it because I was a slave? Because I’m human? What?”

  He slowly turned, his eyes black and intense. “Ones like me don’t take mates. We’re not even supposed to survive into adulthood. Nothing about this is fair to you, Mari. I feel as if I’m forcing you to be with me. I kept my teeth locked inside your shoulder while I fucked you, knowing it would make you surrender to my lust. And you did. I’m an asshole.”

  She replayed his words, trying to make sense of them. “I’m not complaining.”

  “You should be! Be angry, Mari. You deserve to feel that emotion.”

  She walked to him. He backed up but didn’t have far to go before he hit a wall.

  She jabbed her finger on his chest. “Don’t tell me what to feel or think, Dovis!”

  His eyes widened in surprise.

  “You’re confusing me with this hot-and-cold routine you’re doing. Like acting as if you regret what happened on the bridge last night, but then bringing me breakfast. Do you want me or not?”

  He took a long time to answer. “I do want you, Mari. I’m just not certain if you really want me or if it’s because I’ve bitten you. What if it wears out of your system completely and you end up hating me? Regretting every time I’ve touched you?”

  She thought about that. “You left me alone for two weeks, and do you want to know what happened?”

  “What?”

  “I missed you. I thought about you the entire time. I kept hoping I’d run into you while I was working on repairs around The Vorge. Then I felt disappointed when I didn’t. It wasn’t because I got too close to you and your scent made me hot. And it wasn’t because your DNA was still inside me. The captain had me tested a week ago, and there were no traces found. I felt that way on my own.”

  He appeared startled by her confession.

  “I don’t know anything about relationships or men, males…whatever. You’re my first. I do know that even without you close to make my body go crazy over your scent, I wished you were. Close, that is. I understand that when you bit me, your DNA got inside me…but it’s a part of you. Who you are. What you are.”

  “What are you saying?”

  She thought she’d been clear, and her frustration rose. “Stop apologizing and avoiding me! I want this, whatever it is. I’m fine with the effect your bite has on me. More than. It feels wonderful and incredible when we’re together.”

  He looked even more shocked, his mouth gaping open.

  “I don’t remember Earth. My youngest memories were living on a large transport vessel with my parents and bunch of other aliens. Then I was sold to the Teki. All kinds of aliens came to have their ships repaired. Different is my normal, Dovis. Do you understand? You warned me what to expect, told me why I felt the way I did, and I accepted that. I still do. I’d like to get to know you and spend time with you. Even if we never feel anything deeper, and just end up having sex some more. That’s not a bad thing. It’s wonderful when you touch me.”

  “You don’t mean that.”

  “I do. Right now, I’m aching for you. I know it’s because we’re this close and I can smell you. It’s a physical reaction to whatever your bite does…but watch this.” She spun away, stormed across the room to the farthest part of her cabin, and faced him. Long minutes passed. “I can’t smell you from over here. Guess what? I still want you to stay. Would it be so bad if you stopped putting space between us and we just let this be whatever it is?”

  “I could mate you by accident if I keep biting you. Mari. I’m not like other Amarai. I’m not sure what will happen. You’d be stuck with me for the rest of your life.”

  “Is that supposed to frighten me? It doesn’t.”

  “It should!”

  “Would you hate the idea of becoming my mate?”

  “No. And that’s why you should want me far away from you.”

  She shook her head. “It doesn’t scare me, and I’m not asking you to leave. Look at what you did last night.”

  “I attacked you on the bridge.”

  “We had incredible sex, and then you carried me to my cabin, gently washed me, and took care of me while I recovered. This morning, you gave me the day off and even brought me breakfast. That’s amazing. No one has ever been this good to me.”

  “You have no expectations.”

  “I know what I like, Dovis. That’s you.”

  He pushed off from the wall. “Damn it, Mari! Don’t tempt me. You should put some clothes on.”

  “Why? I’d like it better if you took off yours.”

  Long minutes passed…before he sighed, slowly reaching for his shirt. “I can’t resist you. Please don’t regret this.”

  “I won’t.”

  He tore off his shirt, revealing lots of skin and muscles. “Eat first. I insist.”

  “Will you share it with me?”<
br />
  “I already ate.”

  “Okay.” She knew about compromising. She took a seat on the floor next to the table and dug into the food. Dovis stripped off his clothes and walked to her bed, climbing in. She was relieved. He was staying…for now.

  “We should sleep in my cabin tonight, though. I have a bigger bed.”

  She grinned. “That’s fine with me. I’m glad you’re planning on letting me sleep with you. I liked it.”

  “Me too.” He paused. “This is insane, Mari. You know that, right? We’re too different.”

  She got up, not hungry anymore, and crossed to the bed. He looked so incredibly sexy in skin. She silently admitted she liked him better that way, as far as snuggling went. Lips meant she could kiss him. And she did just that as she curled up beside him, her mouth going to his.

  He didn’t hesitate to roll, pinning her under him and taking over. She moaned against his tongue.

  He broke the kiss, going for her neck. “I won’t bite you. I won’t risk getting you with my claws or fangs.”

  “Whatever makes you feel more comfortable.”

  He chuckled and lifted his head, peering at her. “Be honest. Didn’t it bother you that I bent you over and took you in fur?”

  “No.”

  He adjusted his body, his stiff cock brushing against her. “I don’t deserve you, Mari.”

  “Stop talking if you’re only going to say negative things about us being together.”

  He kissed her again, and she inhaled his scent, loving the way her body couldn’t seem to get enough of him. He might see it as a bad thing, but she’d never felt so alive in her life. Before, she’d just existed and survived.

  Dovis was quickly becoming everything wonderful and right to her. The how or why didn’t matter. His biology or whatever it was called was something she felt thankful for.

  She spread her legs and wiggled until he moved on top of her. It felt natural to wrap her legs and arms around his strong body. It felt perfect when he drove his shaft into her body. They were amazing together.

  * * * * *

  Dovis climbed out of bed and left Mari sleeping. He might have given her the day off, but he had to work the sleep shift. He used her shower and shifted back to fur afterward, putting on his uniform.

  He went to the bridge and nodded to York. The male stood, stretched, and gave him control of the ship. “I can’t believe we’re hauling pets next,” York muttered.

  Dovis agreed. “That mission will suck.”

  “It has to beat some of the other things we’ve had to do for the Tryleskians.”

  “True enough.”

  York went to leave…then paused, staring at him with a frown.

  “What?”

  “You look more relaxed and less grouchy than normal. What’s up with that?”

  Dovis hesitated, not sure if he should answer.

  “Did you sneak off to the station without me? The brothel had some nice workers. I was able to get laid. They had a Parri there.” He grinned. “She was older but it didn’t matter. She tied me down and had her way with me.”

  That surprised Dovis. “She tied you down?”

  York nodded. “Parri females are into dominance over males at all times.”

  “I didn’t know that.”

  “I used to hate it but after spending a few years on The Vorge, it was kind of nice. They like to have control. I just had to lie there and stay hard for her. Easy to do since it’d been too long since I’ve gotten laid.”

  “I’m glad for you.”

  York cocked his head, studying him again.

  Dovis sighed and knew his friend wasn’t going to leave. “Mari and I—” he began.

  “What?!” York’s mouth fell open and his eyes widened.

  “Don’t shout.”

  “You and Mari hooked up? She’s human. And a tiny little thing. What the hell?”

  “It just happened. We’re together now.”

  York came closer. “Details, man,” he demanded. “Spill them all. How? When? Why? I’ve heard you bitch a hundred times about Cathian being crazy for life-locking to a human. You think they’re all too weak and soft. I think Mari is hot, but hell, she’s too small. I would hurt her.” He glanced down Dovis. “How does that even work, man? Can you kiss her with that mug of yours?”

  Dovis sighed. “Don’t make me regret telling you. I’m not sharing the details of my relationship with Mari. I’m just letting you know not to approach her for sex or I’ll beat the hell out of you. I also didn’t want you to act weird when you see us together. You tend to make a big deal out of things and get all loud.”

  “Does Cathian know?”

  He shook his head. “Not yet. I haven’t seen him.”

  York grinned. “You and little Mari. I never would have guessed that was possible.” He suddenly sobered. “How did you even do it? She’s so shy.”

  “I told you, I’m not answering your questions. I just wanted to inform you since you mentioned an interest in her when she first joined the crew. Keep your lips to yourself, York. She’s mine.”

  His friend nodded. “Is this a hookup or are you claiming her?”

  Dovis hesitated.

  “Aw, man. You’re going to break her heart, aren’t you? I don’t think Mari is into casual sex.”

  He sighed. “We’re working on it. I’d like to mate her.”

  York grinned again and opened his mouth.

  Dovis cut him off before he could speak. “Don’t taunt me.”

  “I wasn’t going to. I’m happy for you both.” His expression fell though. “Shit. That means two of my friends are taken. Who’s going to visit brothels with me now?”

  “Raff?”

  York shuddered. “No.”

  The bridge doors opened and Cathian walked in. “I just wanted to check on you, Dovis. You sounded off on comms when we spoke last.”

  “He and Mari are together,” York blurted. “As in, getting undressed together and stuff.”

  Cathian’s mouth fell open as he gawked at Dovis. “Is this true?”

  He growled low, glaring at York. “I wanted to be the one to tell him.”

  “York, get out. Don’t gossip with the crew,” Cathian snapped. “That’s an order.”

  York quickly fled the bridge.

  Cathian walked closer, frowning. “What’s going on?”

  “York just told you. Mari and I are together as a couple.”

  “I thought you were going to avoid each other? Her attraction to you would have faded.”

  “It’s a long story.”

  “I have time. Nara will understand why I’m not returning to our cabin right away.”

  Dovis growled low again. Cathian would want to know every detail, and he’d likely be worried he was taking advantage of Mari. And he understood that. He’d felt the same way until she’d argued with him.

  “I have feelings for her…and she’s aware of everything.”

  Cathian cocked one eyebrow.

  “Everything.” Dovis withdrew his fur to skin. “She’s seen both sides of me. I told her all about my past. I even informed her it’s possible to mate her by accident with my bite. She’s willing to take the risk.”

  He paused, waiting for his best friend to explode in anger.

  Cathian surprised him by grinning. “Good. I like Mari. Treat her right.”

  “That’s all you’ve got to say?”

  “I want you to be happy, Dovis. Mari would make a good mate. She’s loyal and sweet. It also means I won’t have to buy a shock collar and have Raff help me take you down to put it on you. Mari will have you by the shaft if she’s your mate.” He laughed. “You won’t want to frighten her off, either. Every protective instinct inside you will make damn certain of that.”

  Dovis stood. “We’re not mated yet.”

  “I’m glad that you’re with her.” Cathian came to him, gripped his shoulders with both hands, and gave them a squeeze. “You’ve been alone for too long.”

&n
bsp; “I’m terrified she’ll regret this one day,” he admitted.

  “You said you told her everything.”

  “I did. She argued with me for trying to avoid her. That’s not what she wants. It’s not what I want, either. For the first time in my life, I have hope that I’ll have a mate.”

  Cathian nodded. “Nara has changed my life in so many wonderful ways. You could have that with Mari. She needs you as much as you do her.”

  He thought about that, and relaxed even more. “I already know I’d die to protect her and keep her safe.”

  “Exactly.”

  Dovis grinned. “I’m going for it. All in.”

  “Good.”

  “It’s going to mean changes, though.”

  “Of course it will. You’ll have a mate.”

  “That’s not what I mean.” Dovis took a deep breath and blew it out. “I’m going to need your support now more than I ever have.”

  “I’m here for you in any way you need. Always.”

  Chapter Ten

  Mari finished her shift and placed her toolbox in the maintenance locker. It had been nice to have a day off to spend with Dovis. He’d had to work last night but he’d commed her that morning to say he’d see her after her shift, when he woke. All day while she’d worked, she imagined him in his cabin sleeping. They worked opposite hours, but it was fine. They’d work it out.

  He was going to give their relationship a chance. That was all that mattered. That morning over comms, he’d even stated that intention again.

  She closed the locker and turned, a smile instantly coming to her lips when she saw Dovis standing there.

  “Hi! You’re awake.”

  “I didn’t sleep.”

  She approached him. “Are you okay?” Her stomach clenched. Had he changed his mind? Would he tell her they needed to avoid each other again? The thought made her feel physically sick.

  His black eyes didn’t show much emotion. Nor did his furry face. “I was thinking today.”

  “No.” She stopped in front of him. “You said we could be together. I’m not letting you do this. We talked. Agreed! We’re going to give us a chance.”

  He reached out and gently gripped her arms. “I want you to be my mate.”

 
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