Deadly Pleasure

Spaceport Mercy, Book 2

Lexxie Couper

Prologue

Galactic Union Covert-Ops Compound, Batrium Nuun’r Prime

Galactic Union Calendar 208

Didn’t your mother tell you it’s rude to fuck and leave?”

Unit Zero Agent, code name Proserpina, glared at the man who was her mentor and lover as well as an efficiently lethal killer. Watching him shove long corded legs and his very impressive cock into a pair of Ezilian leather combat trousers made her shift on the tangled sheets. His cum trickled slickly over the inside curve of her thigh, making her sex constrict and her heart thump.

He lifted his gaze from the strafer now in his hands and his piercing silver eyes made her pussy squeeze again. “I didn’t have a mother. I do have a new target.”

His deep voice—calm and completely composed—stroked the silence of the small room. Pulse leaping into wild life, Proserpina scrambled upright. “Alone? Without me? What about my training?”

The silver stare dropped back to the strafer, sure fingers checking the complicated charging system with blurring ease. “Proserpina, your training is complete. You’re now the second-best assassin in the GU. Probably the second best in the known systems.”

Proserpina’s throat grew tight. “Second best?”

One of her mentor’s exceptionally rare grins curled the sides of his mouth. “After me. You’re not that good.”

He slid the strafer into its holster on his right thigh, and not for the first time since knowing him, Proserpina found herself unnerved. When had he strapped the holster around his leg?

She’d fought like a demon to be assigned as student upon being recruited by Unit Zero. More than one night had been spent spitting up blood, tending her injuries after a workout in the Galactic Union assassination division’s holo-dojo, wondering if she’d lost her mind, if it was all worth it.

What had kept her going through each and every brutal, bloody training session the computer created was the knowledge she was being watched. She’d felt eyes on her every time, studying her form, her technique, noting how she handled each broken bone suffered, how swiftly she dealt punishment to every simulated attacker fought. Every session, as she swallowed her blood, sweat and pain, she prayed those eyes belonged to Unit Zero’s most mysterious, deadly and feared agent.

Code name—Thanatos.

Little was known about him, other than when he was assigned a target, said target was dead within the cycle, regardless of who it was, how untouchable the target was supposed to be.

Sixty days into her training, after she’d shed more blood and killed more simulated targets than she’d believed possible, Thanatos himself had appeared in the dojo. His massive frame radiating an icy menace that had made her gut churn.

Silver eyes raked over her, marking her. Noting her scars and sweat. Making her heart thump with hope and her sex constrict with an excitement she’d never experienced before. She’d met his silent stare through the tangled mess of her hair, dragging one ragged breath after another through her nose, her blood roaring in her ears, her body burning with adrenaline. Jaw clenched, she’d lifted her chin, daring him to break the silence.

He hadn’t. Instead, with a barely perceptible nod, he’d left.

The dojo had shimmered around her, the training program she’d spent what felt like a lifetime in replaced by what could only be described as a torture arena, with weapons of every kind imaginable hanging on the walls. Waiting to be used.

Before she’d had the chance to draw breath, he’d leapt at her, seemingly materializing out of the arena’s shadows, smashing her against the wall even as his fist smashed against her jaw.

And so her true training began.

Over time he’d broken her, torn down her weaknesses, destroyed her inhibitions. Educated her on every possible way to extinguish a life—up close or from a distance. Taught her how to control every emotion she had, every fear, every thought. He’d remade her, sculpted her, molded her into an image after his own likeness.

Turned her into a killing machine.

She’d grown to hate him with every minute of each training day. Despise him. Loathe him and wish him dead—as much as she’d grown to revere and respect him. Almost as powerfully as she’d grown to lust after him.

He practically owned her. He’d tortured her, humiliated her, viewed her naked vulnerability with the same flat, emotionally detached eyes that gazed upon her naked body. Yes, his hands had brought more pain to her body than all her holo sessions combined. But the rare flashes of approval in his usually unreadable eyes had bolstered her pride and sense of self-worth.

He’d taken the unrelenting shame of her childhood—the parentless existence in a GU refugee compound where she’d barely survived, scavenging whatever she could barter, including her once-innocent body—and turned it into a poised, detached resolve more solid than the Five Moons of Maylaria.

He’d done all that and more, but not once had he ever done what she so deeply, secretly, desperately wanted him to do.

Fuck her. Claim her.

Until tonight.

Tonight, he’d walked into her cubicle, torn her vest open and thrown her onto the bed.

One orgasm so powerful she’d felt sure her heart would stop. One mind-blowing, body-crushing, explosive taste of his mastery. It wasn’t enough.

She feared it never would be.

And now he was leaving.

Proserpina studied him, letting her gaze skim over the chest both harder than Doirnn steel and smoother than Zondarian velvet, over the stomach muscles her tongue and lips had caressed only moments earlier. “But I always go with you.”

She mentally cringed at the whiny tone in her voice. Gods, she was a UZ assassin, not a desperate, clingy female. What in the name of all the hells was she doing?

Silver eyes studied her as he shrugged into a heavy and well-worn black leather jacket, the pockets of which Proserpina knew contained at least five weapons of death. “Your training is complete, Proserpina. You’re now a professional killer.”

She swallowed. Not just at the use of her code name, an ancient Terran name he’d assigned her after she’d survived the first week of his training, but at the smoldering desire she saw still burning in his normally unreadable eyes. Her pussy constricted and her breath grew short. He might be going on a mission, but he wanted to fuck her again.

“Of course I am,” she said, holding his stare.

The corners of his mouth twitched a little as he lifted his neutralizer from the room’s com-desk and slipped it into the waistband at the small of his back. “You told me once you knew how to make an Itillian Slap.” He deactivated the door’s locking mechanism and stepped into the empty corridor. “Killing’s thirsty work. I’m pretty certain I’ll be needing that drink when I get back.”

The door slid closed between them, blocking Thanatos from Proserpina’s sight.

She sat motionless, listening to the thick silence of her quarters, imagining his passage down the corridor, his massive frame dominating the narrow space, his finely tuned muscles coiling and flexing with each step.

He was gone. He’d left her and she didn’t know when she’d see him again. Or when she’d get the chance to make him that—

The glum thought faded away and a grin split Proserpina’s face. An Itillian Slap.

He’d requested an Itillian Slap.

The highly illegal and very potent aphrodisiac used by sexual partners to stimulate all the body’s senses during copulation. Wriggling on the bed, she took a deep breath, letting the musky scent of their passion seep into her being.

He wanted to fuck her again. When he got back from the mission, he wanted to fuck her again.

Feeling for the first time in her life like a real woman, she threw up her arms and dropped backward onto the tangled sheets, grinning widely.

“I’ll make you an Itillian Slap, Unit Zero code name Thanatos. And after you drink it, I’m going to show you why you named me Proserpina, the ancient Terran goddess of birth-death-rebirth.”

She wriggled some more on the sheets, breathing in the trainer, mentor and all-around lethal killer’s distinct, addictive scent.

“You may have created the second-best assassin in the known systems,” she stated, smiling at the ceiling and seeing Thanatos in her mind, “but I bet I’m the best lover you’ve ever had. I don’t want to be on my own anymore, and the look in your eyes told me you don’t either.” She let her fingers dance over her pebbled nipples, down the flat plane of her stomach to the throbbing button hidden between the folds of her still-damp sex. “Which means it’s time for you to experience a rebirth of your own.”

She closed her eyes and slipped her fingers into her sodden pussy. “When you get back, your true training will begin.”

Chapter 1

The Steam, Spaceport Mercy

Galactic Union Calendar 211

Who’s goin’ t’make me?”

Corvan Jareth suppressed a sigh, his stare fixed on the inebriated, slightly swaying Mendovian waving a broken bottle in his face.

Every time a new ship docked, every time a new smuggler, illegal trader or bounty hunter landed on Port Mercy, he had to deal with at least one idiot too intoxicated to realize they were about to get their nose or muzzle or snout broken.

Tonight was no exception. The Mendovian with the broken bottle and twitching eye stalks had spent the better part of the evening—and a shitload of credits—pouring ale after ale down his throat, boasting to anyone who cared to listen about the haul of Ezilian Dream Spice he’d just snatched from under the GU’s nose.

And also mauling the bok’i spin table girls, groping the bar staff and hurling insults at Koftii’s karaoke rendition of the Zondarian hit Whip Me.

As far as Corvan was concerned, the drunken imbecile should have been ejected from the bar after his second drink, but Rejelle—being a big fan of pissing off the Galactic Union—had given the smuggler a little more slack than usual.

That was, at least, until he’d tried to stick one of his tongues down her throat.

“So?” The Mendovian snarled, growing less inebriated and more controlled with each wavering jab of the broken bottle. “Ya goin’ t’answer me? Who’s goin’ t’make me leave? You?”

Corvan nodded. Once. “Yes.”

Then he moved.

At the exact second the Mendovian lunged at him.

Mendovians are fast. Corvan was faster. He always was. His fist smashed into the smuggler’s ample gut, knuckles punching into a thick layer of winter fat and stopping at a wall of solid muscle. The Mendovian let out a choked “oomph”, a sound of both pain and surprise. He doubled over deeply, as if attempting to smack his own forehead against his knees.

Corvan readied to deliver another blow if needed. It rarely was. Once opponents realized how quick he was, they usually scurried out of the bar, tattered pride dragging behind them.

Something about this opponent, however, kept Corvan more on guard. Alert.

The bar fell silent, all eyes on the stooped smuggler. A mild air of dread and excitement thrummed through the gawking crowd. The regulars shuffled their feet, casting Corvan knowing looks. They’d seen him fold more than one difficult patron in half and they most likely suspected they were going to see it again tonight. Koftii skittered off the stage, tail swishing, ears flat, deserting her beloved karaoke for the safety of wherever it was the Felinia escaped to when things in The Steam got ugly.

Corvan stared at the back of the Mendovian’s head, muscles coiled. Ready. “Don’t do it,” he said. Calm. Composed.

Twin eyestalks twitched. Wide shoulders bunched under the Mendovian’s heavy flight jacket.

Corvan ground his teeth—ah, fuck—and swung his fist, connecting with the smuggler’s jaw the precise moment the Mendovian leapt up from his stoop to charge him.

A loud gasp filled the bar.

A flash of blinding light erupted somewhere to his left.

Corvan bit back a curse. Fuck. Itia Va and her smartcam. His image would be in the Mercy Watcher for a week.

The Mendovian’s limp body arced backward, eyestalks flapping, arms flailing. He hit the floor with a thud, the impact sending a shockwave of dull vibrations up Corvan’s legs. Some SOB foolishly burst into applause a ways back in the crowd, Va’s smartcam flashed again and Koftii’s crooning tones wafted from the karaoke stage once more.

Corvan shook his head, giving the still and decidedly unconscious Mendovian an indifferent look. Lifting his head, he ignored the sight of the petite but determined Va cutting a path through the crowd toward him and nodded at one of his crew. Diirch detached himself from the writhing mass of patrons on the dance floor and hurried over.

“Get rid of him,” Corvan said, not looking at the motionless Mendovian on the floor. “Put him back on his vessel and arrange a doc to mend his ribs. I’m pretty certain I broke at least five.”

Diirch smirked. “Only five? You feeling soft t’night, Boss?”

Corvan gave the Doirnn, one of the bar’s more witty bouncers, a level stare.

Diirch grinned. “Gotcha, Boss. Doing it now. Charging the doc’s bill to the usual account?”

Corvan nodded, turning back to the bar. It was late, and he wanted to—

“Another patron reluctant to leave, Jareth?” The reporter for the Mercy Watcher blocked his path, smartcam zeroing in on his face like a striking serpent. “You dealt with him harsher than normal. And faster. Care to offer a quote for the story?”

Corvan met the woman’s intense stare. Itia Va had been after his “story” since the moment he’d arrived on the spaceport. The fact she’d been unable to dig up anything annoyed the shit out of her. It was almost enough to make Corvan smile—if he didn’t know just how good she was at her job. Her tenacity made him wary.

Thankfully, she hadn’t questioned him too much about Emylie. So far. Perhaps because, despite her dogged journalist’s mind, she’d recognized the threat in his eyes whenever she’d raised Emylie’s name.

She licked her lips, a pugnacious light in her brilliant blue eyes. “Steam Bouncer or Steam Brutalizer? It’s a catchy title, don’t you think?”

Corvan clenched his fists. He didn’t need this right now. He just wanted to finish his shift and—

“Or maybe I should run with, Corvan Jareth. The Man with No Past Strikes Again?

“Itia.” Port Mercy Security Commander Kassandra Scott suddenly appeared beside the reporter, towering over her. “I’ve been meaning to ask you about the Slessorian article in last week’s Watcher.”

Va turned to Scott, irritation mingled with suspicion crossing her face.

The security commander flicked Corvan a quick look—you owe me—before taking Va’s elbow in her grip and turning the reporter away from him.

Corvan ground his teeth harder. Kassandra Scott was a brilliant security officer. She knew as little about him as Va did, but until recently hadn’t seemed bothered by the fact. Apart from offering him a job on her team when he’d first arrived, an offer he’d refused, she’d left him alone. She also kept any image of him, or story Va wrote about him off the GU sub-space info-link ether. He didn’t know how—Kassandra Scott had her own secrets, it seemed—but whenever Va threatened to make him a feature of her reporting skills, Scott intercepted. He knew, however, that she kept an eye on him. Someone his size with his obvious skills was never going to pass under her radar, but that was all it seemed to be—a professional eye. If he’d known she was in The Steam tonight, he would have been a bit slower dealing with the Mendovian.

Port Security Commander Kassandra Scott wouldn’t have missed how preternaturally fast his strikes were. To be honest, no one would have, curse it.

This is what he got for losing his focus.

And if you lose your focus, Emylie could end up dead.

The unbidden thought sent a chilling tension straight through his chest.

Stepping over to the main bar, mindless of the customers almost stumbling out of his way, he flagged Rejelle’s attention. “I’m finished for the night,” he said, his voice carrying over Koftii’s drawling rendition of the Old Earth classic, What’s New, Pussycat? “Priirj and L’wxan are on ’til close.”

Rejelle gave him a small smile and nodded, her eyes warm and understanding. “Give her my love.”

Corvan felt the sides of his mouth curl in a rare smile. He returned Rejelle’s nod before weaving through the crowd and exiting The Steam.

A cacophony of sound hit him. People shouting, laughing, screaming. Felinia hissing at those passing too close to them, claws scraping the cold metal floors. The catcalls and moans from Blow Job Alley, the chimes of the bok’i dens, the goading insults from the slave auctions. Nighttime on Spaceport Mercy. A symphony he’d grown accustomed to quite quickly.

He walked through the usual mix of humanoids, aliens, IAs and service-bots, casting not one of them an interested gaze as he headed home. With the exception of the odd drunken new arrival at the spaceport, dubious merchants and smugglers who thought they needed to get into a pissing contest to prove their status, no one caused him any hassle. Ripping the tongue from the mouth of a Mentuan slave merchant—the one who’d offered him ten thousand credits for Emylie mere minutes after they’d first stepped foot on Mercy—had quickly cemented his reputation as someone not to mess with. It was also the only information Rejelle had required before offering him the job as The Steam’s head bouncer.

His mind wandered back to that first hour on Port Mercy, Emylie’s fingers threaded through his, her soft, warm body trembling slightly, dark brown eyes wide, pale blonde hair a shining halo in the spaceport’s dim, low light.

She’d said nothing as they’d made their way to their new home. She rarely did. Her eyes told him everything—she was scared, but she trusted him. She still looked at him that way after all this time. It made him feel meek and invincible at once. It made him want to stop time and do everything in his power to make her smile; that gentle, small stretching of her lips rarely seen. It made him feel like he had a soul.

If only she knew.

A lump formed in Corvan’s throat and he clenched his jaw, quickening his pace. He despised these moments of emotional vulnerability. They were completely out of character. They reminded him of another life, another time, another female—

He shoved that unwanted and entirely unexpected thought away.

Fri’ac, he needed to focus. Losing control tonight in The Steam, and now dwelling on a life long in his past?

Think about Emylie. Get your head where it needs to be and keep it there.

Rounding a corner, he paused at a food dispatch station. Waving his Port ID card at the scanner, he waited for the station to register his credit balance before extracting a New Earth apple. It was expensive, and his credit balance was about to be hit with the doctor’s bill for healing the inebriated Mendovian smuggler, but worth it all the same. The exotic fruit from the dilapidated planet was Emylie’s favorite. If she was still awake, he’d present it to her. A surprise luxury to make her smile.

He tucked the small piece of red fruit firmly beside his favorite de-atomizer inside his jacket, continuing toward Level 9 and the small unit he called home. Most of his neighbors were day workers; legitimate merchants, medical staff, educators for the Port’s two schools, By the time he normally finished at The Steam, the silence of the still corridors would always roll over him like a calming meditation, easing the knots in his muscles and subduing the epinephrine in his system. Partially. He never fully relaxed. He was incapable of doing so.

Fifteen minutes later he stood at his door, eyes closed, limbs loose. Taking a steady, deep breath, he let the last of the night’s adrenaline seep away. He’d deal with Kassandra Scott and Itia Va later. The rest of the night was his…and Emylie’s, if she was awake.

He stepped into his apartment, reaching down and withdrawing his strafer from its holster as he did so.

“You’re home early.”

The soft female voice lifted his head from his weapon, and he studied the gynoid standing by the room’s lone porthole. Not for the first time, Corvan found himself impressed with Mare’ree’s perfect humanoid façade. Her honey-brown hair thick and glossy, her blue eyes caring and friendly, her soft, cuddly frame—complete with ample bosom—made deliberately with hugs and comfort in mind.

Yet beneath it all, beneath the warm, maternal exterior, the ’droid ran a protection program that made her a killing machine. If the need arose, she could tear an attacker apart in six point two seconds. And as far as Corvan was concerned, that made Mare’ree the perfect companion for Emylie while he was at work.

“I gave myself an early mark,” he answered, tossing the strafer onto the closest sofa before withdrawing his de-atomizer from his jacket and placing it on the bench behind him. “Is Emylie awake?”

The gynoid shook her head, soft curls bouncing around ears so carefully created he could almost believe he saw wax in their cavity. “She tried to stay awake for you, but sleep finally took her. I saw her to bed sixty-seven point five nine minutes ago.”

Corvan felt his lips curl into a small smile. He withdrew the apple from his pocket and sat it beside the de-atomizer, giving the ’droid a slight nod. “Thank you, Mare’ree. You may retire now.”

The AI tilted her head to the side. “Sleep well, sir.” With fluid grace, Mare’ree crossed the living area of Corvan’s apartment and disappeared into a recessed booth in the far wall. A low hum followed by a lower click told Corvan she’d connected with her core unit and put herself into rejuv mode. He chuckled softly. Obviously Emylie had given her a hard time tonight.

Unbuckling the strafer’s holster on his right thigh, he dropped it onto the sofa beside the highly lethal gun, removed the synaptic neutralizer from his waistband at the small of his back, slid the neo-energy gutting blade from its sheath on his left biceps and disengaged the small neural disruptor from its hidden compartment in his right boot.

He shucked off his jacket, withdrew the Doirnn dagger from its harness on his left wrist and crossed the room. Emylie was asleep. It was time he slept too.

The small bedroom was shrouded in shadows. He moved through them, the soft, even sounds of her breathing a beacon in the darkness. Stopping at the bed, he silently lowered himself to the mattress, perching on the edge as he passed his hand over a nearby sensor.

A low, muted glow illuminated the bed, casting the sleeping child stretched under the soft blankets in gentle, warm light.

Long, fair eyelashes lay against round, flawless cheeks, and pearlescent eyelids closed over eyes the color of the richest chocolate, eyes of solemn contemplation, eyes that had seen more terror and horror than any six-year-old should. Long, pale blonde hair fanned the pillow, a few tousled strands resting against a rounded jawline that hinted at an inner strength and the woman the young girl would become. Coral-pink, bee-stung lips were parted slightly, soft and relaxed in repose, and Corvan couldn’t help but smile at the location of Emylie’s left hand. Fingers curled into a loose fist, her thumb propped perilously close to her mouth.

She’d been awfully embarrassed when he’d first found her sucking her thumb years ago and nothing he could say would ease her shame. It mattered little when he’d told her all three-year-olds were allowed to do it, most especially ones without mommies.

She’d stared at him with her large, wide brown eyes and shook her head. “The man with the needle hits me if I suck my thumb. Are you going to hit me?”

Three years had passed since that night and he’d never found Emylie sleeping with her thumb in her mouth again. He’d spent every night since picturing what he would do to the “man with the needle” if they were ever to come face-to-face. He’d spent every night since wishing to Fri’ac they would.

Gently, silently, knowing she slept lighter than an Erturian she-fox, he brushed the errant strands of hair from Emylie’s face.

His fingertips made no contact with her skin, his hand barely disturbed the air, but her eyelids fluttered open all the same and she gazed up at him. “Are we safe?”

It was the same question she asked him every night. And, as always, he gave her the same answer. “We are safe.” For the most part, it was the truth.

Her small mouth curled into a tiny, sleepy smile and she closed her eyes again, reaching for his hand with her own. She sighed, the delicate sound peaceful and heartbreaking all at once, and was asleep once more.

Corvan Jareth studied her for a long, long moment before slowly disengaging his fingers from hers. She was special. Unique. In a world of corruption, perversion and sickness, she was the cure.

He stood, chest tight, throat tighter, and left the room, crossing to his own sleeping quarters on the other side of the apartment. He couldn’t describe the emotion making breath difficult to draw, but he knew he couldn’t live without it now. Three years ago he’d been someone else entirely. Someone brutal. Heartless. Someone hollow.

And then he’d been sent to kill Emylie. The only one of her kind.

Every night he thanked Fri’ac he hadn’t.

Every night he wondered whom Unit Zero would send to finish the job.

And when.

Chapter 2

Sector Seven A, Fourth Quadrant, Secular System

His tongue stabbed into her pussy, its slightly rough surface playing over the throbbing knot of her clit. There was nothing gentle about the wickedly abrasive penetration and she didn’t want it any other way. Strong, hard fingers gripped her hips, held her both to the firm sleeping pallet and a mouth in the process of launching her to sexual rapture.

Falynn Mavek, premier Unit Zero Agent, gazed blindly at the ceiling of her quarters, the bone-stroking vibrations of her ship’s hyper-drive engines magnifying the waves of exquisite pleasure rolling through her body. Every nerve ending thrummed with the building energy of her rapidly approaching orgasm. An orgasm promising to be the first of many. When it came to climaxes, Forty-Two always delivered.

Her clit was a swollen button of sensitive flesh, the conduit for every jolt of wet heat the tip of his tongue seared into her core. Falynn bit down on her lip, the sharp self-inflicted pain an automatic ploy to derail the moans clawing at her throat. No matter how good it was—and sex with Forty-Two was always very, very good—she never made a sound during sex.

It wasn’t the years of brutal training under the aegis of the Unit’s most notorious master agent that had her muzzling her pleasure. She never relinquished control of her emotions. Not anymore.

Perhaps because the last time she’d expressed her pleasure during sex, her lover had walked away and never came back.

Everyone said Thanatos was dead, but she didn’t believe it. She couldn’t believe it. How could he be? He was too good. Too fast. Over and over she’d seen him defy the laws of time and physics. He was unbeatable. Untouchable.

Except by her. That once.

Damn him to all the hells, he’d probably gotten the Itillian Slap he’d wanted from some other female. If so, she hoped he really was dead. She hoped he’d died thirsty.

The tongue in her sex stopped its delicious, orgasm-inducing action and the fingers curled harder into her hips. “Stop thinking.” Forty-Two’s deep voice rumbled with potent power and undeniable command.

“How do you know I’m thinking?” she ground out, teeth clenched, pulse quick in her neck.

He chuckled against her pussy, the rumble vibrating into her core and making her breath catch. “You know how.”

He thrust his tongue deeper, past her folds, and she bit her lip again. Each time Forty-Two claimed her body, he did everything in his power to break her silence. It had become a personal challenge. She didn’t mind. It burned away the emptiness of her existence. It torched the ache in her chest where her wounded heart thumped. It made him do things to her she’d never let any living soul do before. Not even—

She cut the painful thought dead, focusing instead on the feel of Forty-Two’s tongue and now—Kiirs give her strength—finger in her sex. No. Make that two fingers. Each long digit squirmed and wriggled inside her, seeking the sweet spot within as his tongue retreated to roll again and against over her throbbing clit. She shoved her hips higher, forcing her sex harder to his mouth, letting the exquisite fire licking through her body consume her. Almost.

She would never relinquish control completely. Not again. Once was enough.

“Stop thinking and let me make you forget.”

Forty-Two’s growl sent a shiver up Falynn’s spine and her nipples pinched tight. She looked down her body into his eyes, unable to miss the furious light burning in their blue depths. His desire blazed like an inferno there, and in those flames she saw a determination and hunger so powerful, her throat squeezed shut. Kirs. If only…

She balled her fists, killing the futile wish as ruthlessly as she killed her targets. He may be the only one even close to making her scream again, but he could never destroy her pain.

She pumped her hips, needing him to scour away the old hurt building in her heart. She needed to come. She needed to feel something apart from nothing. “Get out of my head and finish the job.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Don’t call me sir.”

“Yes, Proserpina.”

“Don’t call me that either.”

Forty-Two chuckled again, the sound both bitter and warm, before—thank Kiirs—he returned his very talented mouth to her sex. He sucked at her clit, nibbled and nipped with his teeth. She bucked, choking back a gasp. He dug his fingers into her flesh and jerked her butt off the mattress, stabbing her anus with his tongue. Her back arched under the overwhelming sensations, forcing shoulders and feet against the sleeping pallet as her fisted hands scrabbled for a hold in the bunched sheets.

Shit, he really knew what to do to make her hot. He was aggressive, almost brutal. He took from her with a savage greed that made her sex flood with fresh cream.

Sliding his large hands under her hips, he cupped her butt cheeks, squeezing each curve of muscle as he tortured her anus with his tongue. She drew in a silent breath, feeling her ass grow damp, painted with the slick lubrication secreted by his tongue. Preparing her for entry.

Flaccid, his cock was massive, the phallus more than befitting his seven-foot frame. Erect and stiff with desire, it was the stuff of every sexual being’s fantasy.

She knew he was going to penetrate her anally and her pussy grew sodden with anticipation. Anal sex with Forty-Two was like a double dose of concentrated pleasure spiked with pure pain. Incredible, punishing and completely unsentimental. What she needed. What she deserved.

An appreciative rumble sounded in her companion’s chest and he yanked her harder to his mouth, lifting her legs from the bed to wrap them around his head. His hands mauled her ass, her hips. He peppered her tight opening with rapid jabs of his tongue, the thick muscle growing more pointed with each stroke until she felt its slick, rounded tip push into the puckered hole.

She clamped her mouth shut, fists tugging at the sheet. She bucked, her wild rhythm in perfect sync with Forty-Two’s tongue. His fingers stretched her cheeks farther apart, granting his mouth greater access to her hole. He dipped into her, tongue fat and stiff, a smaller replica of the enormous shaft between his solid, steely thighs.

By Kiirs, she was going to come.

Unbidden—and as always—an image of Agent Thanatos filled her mind.

Raw want shot through her. Raw, tortured want. His eyes had promised so much more than that one moment of heaven. And yet he’d never returned. He’d never broken his word to her once throughout her training and yet…he’d never returned.

Loss and pain absolute flooded her soul—at the very second Forty-Two tore his mouth from her ass and sank his cock inside her.

Her orgasm crashed through her body, brutal and sudden and more forceful than ever. Accompanied by the cruel, inescapable memory of another climax from a different time and a different place, the rapturous screams of that release echoing in her head even as the silence of this one flayed her wanting heart.

She came. Without a sound.

He pumped into her, watching her face, listening for a sound he never heard.

A decommissioned GU Type R42 military combat android, Forty-Two had spent his entire existence in battle and now functioned purely for Falynn Mavek, the woman who’d given him life.

The only way he knew Falynn was in the throes of an orgasm was the squeezing contractions of her sex on his shaft, the tortured, haunted expression in her eyes and the violent spike in activity his bio scan detected in her cerebral cortex.

Still, the base response was enough for Forty-Two’s own orgasm—a phenomenal feat of bio-engineering achievement—to surge through his body. The living flesh encompassing his teratanium skeleton flushed, artificial blood pumping through veins engineered to fool even the most astute medico. His balls grew tight, drew higher, closer to his groin, until what felt like an eruption of molten energy burst from their swollen mass, hurtling up his long, thick cock. A roar tore from his throat. It rattled the small room and drowned out the sounds of the ship’s engines.

He pumped into Falynn, wanting her to scream. Wanting her to surrender to the pleasure he knew he gave her. Wanting her to abandon the control she so fiercely held.

She didn’t. As one orgasm after another claimed her, as he drove his cock harder and harder into her tight sphincter, making her grip the sheet of her sleeping pallet with white-knuckled fists, the association neurons of her brain burning white-hot with memories of a man he could never erase. A man who had taken from Falynn the ability to abandon herself to emotion. A man presumed dead.

Forty-Two never prayed to a deity—really, whom did an obsolete AI pray to anyway? His maker?—but more than once he found himself wishing Unit Zero Agent code name Thanatos alive.

He wanted to kill the man himself.

Left wounded and malfunctioning on a bloody, corpse-riddled battlefield by the GU’s military unit after their brutal occupation of Itillian two years ago, Forty-Two had been one failed diode away from complete systems shut down when Falynn had found him. Her emotionless gaze had flicked over him once, before—with fluid grace and jarring speed—she’d reached into the twisted mess of ribbon cables in his broken neck and deactivated him.

When his systems came back online, he’d discovered he was in a Dragonfly-class deep-space craft with his E.S.O.U.L program activated. For the first time in his short, violent existence, he felt emotions. Shocked surprise quickly gave way to suspicious confusion.

Why? The first word he’d ever spoken. Why had she “saved” him? Why had she activated his emotion sensor operational uplink program?

She’d never given him an answer. Instead, she’d placed a small mirror on his chest and left the cramped quarters.

Stunned amazement washed away his confusion when he glanced in the mirror. The teratanium exo-battle armor encasing all Type R42s was no longer visible. Not only had the mysterious woman activated his emotion matrix, she’d activated his humanoid camouflage mode as well.

He’d been her constant companion ever since.

Forty-Two stared down at the Unit Zero assassin writhing in silent sexual rapture beneath him. He would do anything for Falynn. No matter what she asked of him, he would do it. Falynn gave him existence when his makers decided his was over. Falynn had elevated him from a mindless ’droid with a single purpose to extinguish life, to a sentient being governed by emotions too powerful to name. Falynn had given him that worth. All without explanation, reason or expectation. A once mindless killing machine gifted with raw emotions pining for a living-breathing woman who now existed every second of her life as an emotionless assassin.

She didn’t need a protector, but he acted as one anyway. She didn’t need a caregiver, but he functioned each minute of the day to see her cared for. She asked nothing of him except the escape sex offered from her self-torturing emptiness, and he gave her that willingly. He wanted to give her more. His E.S.O.U.L allowed him to feel, and every emotion he’d experienced since Falynn reactivated him was for her.

If only she felt the same way for him.

The complicated weave of cables, CPUs and sensors in the center of his chest cavity grew tight, heavy. One day he would make her scream with sexual pleasure. One day she would break her silence.

He moved his hands from her ass cheeks to her hips, slid them up the flat plane of her stomach to palm her breasts. Her body still shuddered from the string of orgasms he’d wrought, vibrating up his arms and setting his circuitry on fire. He moved his fingers to her distended nipples, pinched them with a force first savage then gentle. He was capable of crushing a teratanium girder with his fingers alone, but the millions of tiny sensors under his skin, coupled with his bio-readings of Falynn’s body, told him the exact force needed to make her sex flood with fresh juice and her heartbeat quicken.

Fists bunching the sheet, she rode the climaxes crashing through her body, hips bucking slightly with each shudder that claimed her. A slight flick of her eyes, dilated with constrained pleasure, told him what she wanted, and he complied, dragging one hand from her breast down to the smooth curve of her mons.

Staring at her, hungry for the changes in her body only he could detect, he rubbed the pad of his middle finger over her swollen clit.

Falynn hissed—the most noise he’d ever elicited from her—and closed her eyes, breaths rapid and shallow as the last of her orgasms erupted. A haunting expression twisted her face, rapture and self-loathing at once, and she sank her teeth into her bottom lip. As always, controlling her release. Her response.

A surge of bitter disappointment tainted the electricity shooting through Forty-Two’s system. Once again, he’d failed.

He slowed his penetrating thrusts, letting his E.S.O.U.L control his actions. If required, he could continue to fuck Falynn until his power unit depleted, but it didn’t take the comprehensive readings of her bio-rhythms to tell him she was satiated. The soft, distant light in her eyes, the relaxing of her fists on the sheet, the long, slow exhalation of breath told him he’d given her what she’d wanted, what she’d needed.

He’d brought her to multiple climaxes—six, to be precise—and now it was over. Until she next required escape from her demons—demons who always wore the mask of her former trainer and mentor—Forty-Two was just her co-pilot and companion. A combat ’droid in the guise of a man, protecting a woman who needed no protection.

And he would never tell her that he wanted more.

“You are without doubt the most tenacious lover I’ve ever had.”

The calmly stated words raised Forty-Two’s head and he met Falynn’s heavy-lidded gaze. “Would that have anything to do with the fact I have a million-year power lifetime?”

Sitting up with fluid ease, Falynn raked her fingers through her tousled hair, scraping the long dark strands back into a tight knot at her nape. She cocked a finely arched eyebrow, fixing him with a level look, the consummate assassin once more. “No. It has everything to do with the fact you don’t like to admit defeat.”

Forty-Two straightened from the sleeping station and gave her a wide grin, ignoring the thick tension squeezing his E.S.O.U.L’s core processor. “R42s were not designed to admit defeat. Defeat is a human weakness.”

Falynn rolled her eyes, an easy if somewhat exasperated smile curling her lips. “You ’droids think you’re so superior.”

Forty-Two grinned back before retrieving his trousers from the nearby counter. “That’s because we are.” He casually flung the worn leather breeches over his shoulder and effected a smug expression. “Well, not the JCN-01s,” he said before turning away from the bed to cross to the door. “Those walking calculators are pathetic.”

Falynn shook her head, watching Forty-Two head toward her ship’s cockpit, naked ass bunching and flexing with each stride, wide shoulders almost brushing the passageway walls. They would be arriving at their destination soon, and the ’droid made it his business to have The Wisp ready for any unexpected boarding. That essentially meant checking the array of weapons hidden in various places throughout the small vessel in case of an attack her skill and his size and programming couldn’t handle. In all honesty, Falynn didn’t believe such a situation could arise, but she didn’t stop him in his task. She knew why he did it.

Rising from the sleeping station, she crossed her quarters and collected her suit from its crumpled place on the floor. She hadn’t told Forty-Two she wanted to be fucked. Hard, fast, brutal fucking that would scour away her painful memories. As always, his precise calculations of her bio-rhythms alerted him to her needs before she could part her lips. She hadn’t expected him to be quite so savage in undressing her though.

She trailed her fingers over the soft and extremely supple blood-red leather unitard, convinced she would finally find a tear in the indestructible garment.

Nothing. Still as immaculate as the day she’d collected it from UZ supplies.

Slipping into the second-skin, she activated its fastening device, nipples pinching into hard peaks as it zipped closed from navel to neck with a slight tickling sensation.

She jerked on the matching custom-designed boots with the concealed neuron spikes in the toes, slid her Trelletian gutting blade into its holster on her left thigh and exited the room, heading for the cockpit. She didn’t consult the small mirror beside the door before exiting, despite Forty-Two having scored the flesh on her collarbone with his blunt nails as he’d stripped her. She never looked at her reflection anymore. There were only so many times you could look into empty eyes, a killer’s eyes, before conviction became self-contempt.

Tugging her hair free from the knot at her nape, she braided the straight black curtain into a long plait, securing the end with a tiny circle of razor elastic before letting it slide over her shoulder to lightly slap the small of her back. She’d blinded more than one opponent with the minute blades. No one expected to be attacked by hair, no matter how seasoned a fighter they were.

Dropping into the pilot’s chair beside Forty-Two, she studied the star-spotted blackness of space outside The Wisp before turning to the ’droid. Somewhere between her quarters and the cockpit, he’d dressed—as much as Forty-Two ever did. Long, thick legs were encased in black leather combat trousers and calf-high boots. That was it. “Where are we at?”

Forty-Two stabbed a navi-key on the control deck and turned to her, the diodes in his eyes flashing a cheeky bright blue. “Four point seven zero one clicks from destination.” He gave her a broad grin. “What’s the game plan this time?”

Falynn shrugged, leaning back in her seat and crossing her ankles on The Wisp’s control deck. “The target’s male. Standard seduce and terminate procedure.”

A gleam of iridescent green glowed in Forty-Two’s eyes and then he chuckled, running a hand over his hairless scalp. “And here I was thinking you had dressed like a Slessorian pleasure worker to impress me.”

Falynn returned her attention to the void before her, feeling just as devoid of life. “Not dressed to impress, Forty-Two,” she murmured. “Dressed to kill.”

The ’droid regarded her, eyes glowing a muted violet. As always, Falynn waited for him to say something, her gut tight. She knew his bio-scans told him exactly what her body was doing, but did they tell him what her heart was feeling?

Huh. What heart?

“Intel?”

Forty-Two’s question made her start and she scowled. Kiirs, she was being pathetic. Shaking her head, she pulled an annoyed face. “Very little. No name. No physical description. Just a location and employment title. Sector Seven A, Fourth Quadrant, Secular System. Spaceport Mercy. Head bouncer for a bar called The Steam.” She straightened in her seat and adjusted The Wisp’s zeo-energy output, kicking up the vessel’s sub-space slip. “The job has one interesting twist though. The target is in possession of a GU bio-weapon. After the hit, I need to procure the weapon and return it to GU HQ immediately.”

Forty-Two’s eyebrows rose. “May I assume the intel on the bio-weapon is vague?”

Falynn nodded, returning her feet to their previous position on the control deck. “Just as vague as the hit. All I have to go on is the target has it in his possession and it’s called M.E.Lii.” She frowned. “Odd name for a weapon if you ask me.”

A low-pitched siren sounded and Forty-Two straightened, hitting a small key beside the helm to silence the alarm. “Odd or no, the fun is about to begin. We will be docking at Spaceport Mercy in one point five nine clicks.” He grinned at Falynn. “Time to get your game face on.”

~

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