Authors: Annabel Wolfe
And when Marc’s hands slid under her breasts, cupping the soft flesh, compressing her nipples, the inexorable rise of her climax began, the pleasure escalating until it was out of control, and she gave a low scream and would have slumped forward except two pairs of strong male hands held her steady.
She was lost in the daze of the aftermath when they turned her over and one of them—she couldn’t yet open her eyes—slowly pushed his cock into her still-pulsing vaginal passage. The excess of sensation made her gasp out a short protest, but she climaxed again right then, her aroused body giving no quarter as she circled her arms around his neck—Damon, she discovered—and he chuckled.
“So wild and reckless under that regal composure,” he murmured, and kissed her, the taste of arousal scintillating, the hard length of his penis impaling her. “What a perfect combination.”
Whether it was perfect or not she had no idea, but the truth was, she luxuriated in his potent desire, in the possession of that part of him that made him male, and Jayla lifted her pelvis in response to his penetration. “You’ve always talked too much.”
He chuckled and kissed her again. “I’ve been told, but never in such a delightful position.” His voice softened. “I love you, Jay.”
It disarmed her. He’d always had that ability, but now, in this vulnerable and intimate position, it was magnified. Jayla glided her hand down his back, the hard muscles contracting under the pressure of her fingertips. “You’ve never been one to hide your feelings, Damon. I know you do.”
Marc was listening. She knew it—so did Damon for that matter, the presence of the other male in the room somehow innately comfortable, as if there were simply no secrets between the three of them.
Damon didn’t respond, beginning to move in long, slow thrusts. His hungry kiss was like being lit on fire and Jayla’s aroused body moved with him in perfect sync.
And when he gasped and went taut, she was ready, clenching around his surging penetration, her inner muscles holding him tight as they both slid over the edge into heated paradise.
Sated and breathless, she forgot momentarily about the possibility of conspiracies and conscienceless thieves willing to risk innocent lives to gain a fortune in priceless national treasures.
She forgot about everything.
Damon had always had a habit of being able to distract her.
Nathan Lettrick wasn’t exactly what he expected, but then again this wasn’t his area of expertise either. Damon studied the male sitting across from them and wondered if it wouldn’t be better if he left the room, but then again, Marc had requested his presence.
Kartel rarely did anything without purpose and so he stayed.
The rectangle of cool stone and pale, clean floors had no personality whatsoever, which fairly well described the man sitting across from them. He was blond, tall but angular, and had predictably regular S-species features. “Why is it, again, I’m here?” Lettrick asked with an affable smile. “I think Anasta law decrees that I be told the nature of my offense if there is an interrogation.”
Mild-mannered. Yes. That was an accurate description. And cooperative. More adjectives? Damon considered the brother of a known subversive and contemplated. Out loud he said, “Pleasant, hard-working, anonymous. Just what they need”
Lettrick gazed at him with mild inquisitiveness, his pale blue eyes narrowing only a fraction.
That alone told him something. Most individuals, in his opinion, would be more alarmed over being questioned by the new Royal Consort and a member of the Ruling Council.
Marc smiled pleasantly. “This is not an official proceeding. Have you ever heard of a paper called the
First lie. They were off to a good start. Damon folded his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall as he informed their guest, “It’s an underground publication started by a few militants…more thugs than actual terrorists, who rant about social reform but in reality just want to cause unrest. I happen to know a few people who inform me your brother is a frequent contributor using the pseudonym ‘The Prophet.’
have you heard of it?”
“My brother?” Lettrick didn’t blink an eye. “I’m sorry, but I don’t see him often.”
A few communiqués early that morning had produced evidence that Lettrick and his older brother had met two months before on Minoa at a bar that was about as safe as the one Damon had visited in Belgravia last evening, the seedy area on the outskirts of the First City also considered dangerous and monitored by security forces on a constant basis.
“How long has it been?” Marc leaned back in his chair, his eyes watchful but his expression neutral.
Lettrick shrugged. “Half a year maybe. He doesn’t have a reliable address.”
Lie number two
“You work for the palace guard.”
“Then I’m sure you are well-aware that someone infiltrated the system at the highest level and arranged to have explosives go off if a designated person scanned in.”
“Colonel Kale naturally told us that there was a problem but until now I did not know exactly what it might be.”
That was also a lie. Damon could see it in the slight twitch of a muscle in Lettrick’s cheek, but even more in the sardonic skepticism in Marc’s expression.
It wasn’t wise to underestimate the Kartel ability to read minds.
“If you did not know, why did you send this communication last night to an unknown source on Minoa?” Marc turned and pressed a button on a handheld device and the screen glowed. He read out loud, “Skeleton force only. Janitorial doors programmed to deactivate.”
“Shall I request my right to have a judicial activist present?”
“You can’t,” Marc informed him with a small smile. “This isn’t an official interview. If you would like it to be, I can arrange it, but at this point, perhaps you’d do better just to talk to us.“There’s no use denying you wrote this. Kale had it traced back.”
“I’m not denying or confirming anything.”
Damon lifted his brows. “I’ve heard more than just the little tidbits about your brother. For instance, there seems to be a general movement in the underground to subvert governments by stealing valuable artifacts and using them as bargaining tools to blackmail for whatever concessions your group believes they want.”
For the first time Damon saw a true flicker of emotion in Lettrick’s eyes. “Wants. Not
they want. And that message means nothing that can be proven.”
Conversationally, Marc commented, “Conviction is admirable, especially if you are planning to rob powerful planets…tell me, once there were casualties on Mega 3, you knew that murder was on the table, correct? When the Federation establishes a general threat, intergalactic laws apply. Anasta is particularly rigid when it comes to enforcing the harsher penalties.”
It was true. Anasta still occasionally used death as a means of chastising those who crossed the realm of criminal into evil. Damon had in his youth not agreed with it, but as an adult, he was coming to terms with the realities of what it took to maintain an ordered society. Though on a moral level, he wasn’t sure it did not rankle.
Yet, his father had been targeted, so perhaps he wasn’t quite as detached from the issue as he might usually be.
“Think about that,” he said calmly to Nathan Lettrick, “and contemplate Kale’s efficiency. Once we informed him that you were a possible suspect, he sent out a Federation-wide request for information.”
That might have been unwelcome news, but if so, Lettrick hid it fairly well. “I passed the security test to be admitted on staff, didn’t I? If there is a problem, I’m going to say it is your fault.”
“What kind of problem?” Damon was only too aware of his father’s role as the assassination of choice and his voice was more brittle than he intended.
“It depends on your point of view.”
“Is that so?” Marc contradicted softly. “I’m getting distinctly the opposite impression. I sense excitement and anticipation…is there some timetable we’re not aware of?”
smiled. “Are you going to formally detain me or can I go?”
* * * *
Jayla nodded at a guard who had recognized her. The young man seemed startled, stammering “Princess. Wel…welcome.”
It wasn’t like she hadn’t visited the Royal Museum before���she had, many times—but it had been a while.
There were rows of cases, all protected by laser sensors, and she walked the perimeter, two of the guards her mother insisted accompany her out in public trailing behind, looking at the presentation of old documents, books by famous Anasta authors, and other interesting historical pieces.
It wasn’t until she got to the case that held the Rykar papers that she stopped, arrested. Alfred Rykar had been one of the original S-species colonists that had come to Anasta. A historian and a scholar, Rykar had founded the first university on the planet and been instrumental in setting up the Ruling Council, serving on it for two decades. Every young student knew his name from the time they entered school.
Yes, there were some treasures here that could never be replaced.
“Good morning, Princess.”
She glanced up. A man standing near the same case was looking at her with a congenial smile. He was about the same age as Marc and Damon, good-looking like most S-species, with wavy blond hair worn to his shoulders and very pale blue eyes.
Jayla nodded. There were a fair amount of visitors and maybe if it wasn’t for the palace guards she would not be recognized, but those two tall soldiers following her around were rather hard to miss. “Good morning.”
“It is a pleasant surprise to see you here. Are you a student of the Rykar philosophy?”
“Everyone knows his name,” she acquiesced politely.
The man inclined his head. “I agree…but in truth, I think very few understand his true message. Did you know he preached democracy even while he elevated the royal family and allowed government manipulation of Anasta’s basic judicial system?”
Had he not been smiling at her in such a friendly way, Jayla could have sworn the words were antagonistic. “I am not sure the word manipulation should be applied.”
“What would you use?’ he asked in the same even tone.
This wasn’t the particular time she wanted to debate historical politics with a stranger, so she simply excused herself and moved on.
In the next wing there were pieces of art, statuary, paintings, and of course, the collection of royal jewels, court pieces that were gifts from other planets, the security there even more enhanced.
Even with the speculation that too many guards had been pulled from here to the palace, she didn’t see how theft was possible. And, of course, now that Marc and Damon had presented their theory, immediately the staffing was restored and all seemed to be in order.
Perhaps they’d been wrong. This wasn’t the target.
In the next moment, she discovered they weren’t.
The lights went first, extinguished to low beams from the overhead fixtures, and the people in the museum muttered, not quite in open protest but definitely confused. Instantly both of Jayla’s guards were by her side, hands on their weapons.
One of them leaned close and said curtly, “Let’s exit the building, your Highness. We have orders that if anything at all is unusual, we’re to get you back as soon as possible.”