Freeing Luka: Chapter 15

“Alice, are you listening?” Rhaego snapped.

A few people snickered.

This morning the Queen had sent word that Rhaego would be stopping by to give whoever was interested a lesson in the Tremantian language. For what Alice assumed was about an hour, Rhaego had been patiently explaining the name and pronunciation of each letter in the Clecanian alphabet. Within that span, he’d had to get Alice’s attention five times.

Soon, she was supposed to leave with Zed to go see Luka, and she found she could concentrate on nothing else. This was important, dammit, so why couldn’t she pay attention?

“Yes, I’m sorry, Rhaego. I’m just a little distracted today.”

Lucy, who’d sat next to her, rested her chin on her hand and gazed dreamily at Rhaego. “She’s going on a date.”

“It’s not a date,” Alice quickly argued. But it was. Wasn’t it?

The more she’d thought about what Luka said, the more she started to agree with him. They did share some kind of connection. Was it possible humans still had the ghost of a mating bond somewhere deep down? She’d always known she’d felt an unusually strong connection to Luka, but she’d just assumed it was because they’d gone through something traumatic together. Looking back, however, she recalled feeling drawn to him from the very first time she’d seen him.

When people on Earth talked about soulmates, could this be what they were referring to? Some long-lost connection only certain people shared and were able to recognize. If so, how many humans had missed out on finding their mate because they were separated by a galaxy? And then, if all of that was true, who was Alice to spit in the face of fate? Had she found her honest-to-goodness soulmate?

Rhaego grunted. “I think we should just call it a day.”

Alice flinched, realizing she’d once again stopped paying attention, lost in her own thoughts.

As the six women, who’d come to the class left, Alice rushed over to Rhaego. “I’m really sorry.”

He waved dismissively and gave her a small smile. “It’s okay. I wish I had someone who made me that distracted.”

Alice had guessed as much. When she’d learned Rhaego had volunteered to teach the class, she’d wondered why. The tight shirt and combed hair he’d sported upon arrival had told her more than enough.

“A few of the women were definitely checking you out today. None of them distracting enough?” she said, grinning at the deep maroon blush spreading across his cheeks and horns.

“Jade advised me some of the females might like this clothing choice.” Rhaego smiled sheepishly. “It was nice to be looked at without fear, but I didn’t recognize a mate.”

“You could still go on a date with one of them—you never know. It took Theo a while to recognize Jade, right?”

He shrugged. “What if I become involved with a female and recognize my mate in another? Human females approach sexual relationships differently than Clecanian females do. I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone.”

Alice shook her head and wondered how she’d ever been afraid of the giant, horned softy. “Whichever female you do recognize is going to be so lucky. You’re a great guy.”

“Thanks,” he mumbled, walking her to the door.

Outside in the bright sunlight, Lucy was talking quickly to a flustered Auzed. His arms were crossed over his chest, and his expression turned bewildered when she slowly traced a finger over his bicep, leaning toward him suggestively.

When he caught sight of Alice and Rhaego, he dashed toward them, leaving Lucy to pout in his wake.

“Why did you do that? Lucy seems to really like you.”

Zed’s jaw clenched, something it did very often. “She likes everyone. She’s always flirting with one of the guards. I don’t like being toyed with. And our males don’t understand that flirting is common to Earthlings. They have begun to assume the humans are attempting to court a husband and are getting their hopes up.  This week alone, I’ve had to issue three citations to my males for unprofessional behavior.”

Alice shrugged. The men here were turning out to be a lot pickier than she’d thought men from a planet low on females would be.

“We’re leaving as soon as you’re ready,” Zed announced, causing Alice to pick up speed.

When she approached the door to her home, she spotted a beautiful plant floating on a clear round platform. The leaves of the plant were bright green and bushy and cascaded over the edge of the glass bowl they were planted in.

Quickly, she grabbed the plant and brought it inside, leaving the floating platform to fly away. She placed it on her dining table, along with three other beautiful plants she’d received. There was never a note, but she could guess who they were from. Asivva, who’d come to tell her about Rhaego’s lesson, had explained they were common courting gifts from a time before the Ceremony existed.

She stared at the plants for a moment, trying to squash the materialistic joy she felt at having received a present. She wanted to get to know Luka and didn’t want these presents to sway her emotions. A grin spread over her face. But I do love gifts.

Biting her nails and rechecking her hand clock, she crossed to her wardrobe and glared at her clothing. Her outfit had to be functional, that was all she knew. Should she try and look nice? Should she dress down? She couldn’t decide.

After several agonizing minutes weighing the pros and cons of trying to look attractive for Luka, she settled on shorts, boots, and a long-sleeved top. The outfit was utilitarian while still showing off her figure. She allowed her hair to hang loose but decided to tie a ribbon around her wrist just in case. After a few minutes futilely struggling to tie the ribbon one-handed, she gave up, sticking it in her pocket instead.

My kingdom for a hair tie.

Butterflies started to dance around her stomach as she and Zed made their way to the exit. She needed to distract herself. “Zed, isn’t this against the rules? Someone in the city might see me, right?”

His eyes continued to scan the lake. Although off duty, he seemed unable to stop keeping everyone safe. “You’re allowed to be seen. The Queen doesn’t want the other females seen because they could potentially call forth a Clecanian’s mating marks.”

Anxiety and excitement still coursing through her, she blurted, “Is Luka a good guy? Does he…watch a lot of girls?”

He shot her a sidelong glance.

“Oh, come on. I know you know about him doing that. You saw him in the woods that day, right? I won’t tell anyone,” she urged.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She scrunched her mouth to the side, tsking.

“Luka’s always been very driven. He’s always thinking, always working, and very rarely does he fail. If he wants something, he goes for it, and he doesn’t stop until he succeeds.” Zed aimed another smile at her. “I’ve never seen him want a female like he wants you.”

Brightening, she remarked, “Is that right?”

“You’ve been good for him.” A knowing smile on his face, he added, “He needs to fail every so often. He gets too cocky if he doesn’t.”

They walked in silence the rest of the way to the transport, and once inside, they remained lost in their own thoughts.

Alice hadn’t seen the city yet and was frustrated with the lack of windows in the mirrored vehicle. “Why aren’t there any windows? Don’t people like to look outside when they travel?”

“I haven’t given it much thought.” Zed frowned, staring at the ceiling of the cab. “I know there are thousands of tiny cameras all over the cruiser’s surface to allow it to steer without hitting anything. The shell of the vehicle is very strong, as well. It may not be as visually appealing, but it’s safer.”

His explanation made sense, but even so… An alien city, and she couldn’t see it?

Before long, Zed announced they’d reached their destination. He reached for a communicator, but when he made no move to leave, Alice grew confused. “Aren’t we getting out? Where are we exactly?”

“We are in Luka’s building. He asked me to bring you here, then let him know. He’d like to come down and meet you, rather than us going to his home.”

“Why?”

Zed sighed, likely tired of answering questions about his brother. “He’s very private and pretty messy. He probably didn’t want to straighten up.”

Alice smiled mischievously. “Have you told him we’re here?”

He narrowed his eyes at her. “No, not yet.”

“Good. I want you to take me to his place.”

“Why?” he asked, brows drawn.

“Because!” she cried. “He gets to hide in the trees and watch me and sit outside my house, but I’m not allowed in his? That’s crap!”

Auzed laughed loudly, an odd sound coming from the normally stoic man. “I agree. Let’s go.”

They exited the transport and made their way to a set of doors a few feet away. Beyond the doors lay a large winding staircase.

“How many floors up is he?” she asked, craning her neck.

Walking over to a control in the wall, he replied, “The seventy-ninth floor.”

Alice groaned, wondering if this was a dumb idea. Without warning, the ground began to move. She screamed, clawing at Zed.

He let out another loud laugh. “Did you think we were going to walk up each floor?”

Relaxing, Alice thought back to the spiral staircase in the outpost. Had that been able to move too? Was this their version of an elevator?

After a nauseating ascent, the stairs slowed to a halt in front of a deep-red lacquered door.

“This is him. He owns the floor.” Zed reached out and placed his hand on the door handle rather than the door itself. A familiar buzz and grinding of locks sounded. “Luckily, he gave me access in case of emergencies.” Alice waited to follow him inside, but he remained stationary. After a moment, he crossed to a panel on the wall near the door. “Ask Luka to contact me when you’re ready to leave.”

“You’re not staying?” she said, suddenly nervous about being alone with Luka again.

“I need to get back to the Temple. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Just remember, it’d do him some good to fail a little,” he whispered the last, and Alice had to stifle a giggle.

Turning back toward the door, she nodded, straightening her spine.

“Oh, and one other thing,” he said, waiting for her to meet his eyes. “You should know that right before the meeting a few days ago, Luka broke a bone in his lower leg. His fibula. He tried to ignore it so he could make it to the meeting. Walked all the way around the lake just to see you.”

Alice thought back to the pained expression she’d seen cross his face many times throughout the meeting. It all made sense.

Why didn’t he tell me? Alice wanted to slap her palm to her face. Because I told him not to make excuses, that’s why!

She groaned. “Thanks for telling me.”

Zed shrugged. “It was sort of my fault. I thought it was just a sprain and told him to suck it up. Don’t let his behavior, at the meeting at least, color your opinion of him.”

Alice crossed the threshold; the sound of the grinding stairway spiraling downward confirmed Zed had set off. She stood for a moment in the entrance, absorbing what she’d just learned. This new information changed things, but she didn’t have the time or privacy to really think through what those changes meant.

For now, Alice decided, she’d try to get to know him again. No broken bones, no chains, no fooling around. There were definitely aspects of Luka’s personality that concerned her, but she could admit that while those things were red flags on Earth, they might not be here. Yes, the best plan now would be to get to know Luka as a person and then decide if he was dating material, and she desperately hoped he was. Giving herself a mental high-five, she peered around.

The lighting provided by the familiar glowing orbs in the large, open, semicircular room was dim and warm. It took her eyes a moment to adjust. A grin tugged at her mouth and relieved some of her anxiety.

The wall before her curved along the length of the room. Pictures, scribbled notes, and a variety of papers were stuck all over it. As she took in the various pieces of furniture scattered haphazardly throughout, she saw piles of books and papers strewn across almost every surface.

He’s messy. Alice smiled, thrilled she now knew this intimate detail.

To her right, she saw a small kitchen, the barest area of the house by far. It looked like no one had cooked in it, maybe ever. No utensils or spices sat on the black stone counters. There was no visible sink and no stack of dirty dishes, waiting to be cleaned. Alice found it odd that the area of her home most likely to be messy was Luka’s cleanest.

Near the kitchen, there was a set of polished wooden double doors. A matching pair could be found on the opposite side of the wall. Both sets large and imposing. Both firmly closed.

She should call out for Luka, tell him she was here. Alice grinned wickedly. He thinks it’s okay to watch me because I’m his mate, then he should be okay with me snooping around his house too.

There were no windows in the room, and although large, the lack of light from the outside made Luka’s home feel like the crowded study of an eccentric professor. A guilty pleasure washed through her. She knew she was invading a very personal space.

Two worn armchairs and a low table situated in front of a fireplace called to her. The area would make a wonderful reading spot if the fire were lit. Rather than being attached to a wall, as most fireplaces were, this one stood freely in the middle of the room. A metal bowl large enough to take a bath in held a pile of glittering, jagged black rocks. Hanging from the ceiling, about five feet above the bowl, was a vent.

Tilting her head at the large firepit, she laughed under her breath. It wouldn’t have been out of place in the old tv show The Jetsons. That’s if George Jetson also had a sexual magnetism that made her want to lay naked on a fur rug while enjoying the fire.

Alice approached the large basin, hoping to see the black stones in more detail. Suddenly, tall flames roared to life. Alice shrieked, snatching her hand away from the now-red stones.

The sound of doors being flung open briefly flashed through her consciousness before a deep voice rumbled behind her. “Alice?”

Heart still beating a mile a minute, she turned, intending to berate him for his dangerous insta-fire. What she saw had her words melting inside her, sliding down until they settled hot and heavy in her sex.

He was naked except for a small towel. Rivulets of water ran down his broad chest and chiseled abs until they vanished into the fabric hanging low on his hips.

She’d seen his body tons of times, touched it too. But the vision of him unchained, wet, and glowing in the firelight made her feel like she was seeing it for the first time.

“Fuck,” she moaned.

She clapped a hand over her mouth when she realized she’d uttered the curse aloud.

Gaze meeting his, she groaned. His brows drew together in confusion, then he glanced down at his body. When his head rose again, the most masculine, confident grin she’d ever seen came with it.

He stepped toward her, smirking. “What are you doing here, Alice?”

She frowned when she noticed the tight grip he’d had on his towel had loosened. Flustered, she said, “Zed let me in. I wanted to see where you lived.”

Movement from his towel drew her gaze. The thick fabric slowly tented. The answering clench and flood of heat to her core made her stifle a whimper and back away from him.

Like a flash, he crossed to her, throwing an arm around her waist. His scent and warmth permeated her senses. The hot touch of his hand on her lower back was like a brand.

He pulled her body into his, leaning down to rumble in her ear, “Careful, love. You almost stepped into the fire.”

Love? Alice had to concentrate on breathing. He was proving she didn’t need to step into the flames to feel as though she were on fire. Trapped under the material of his towel, his hard length pressed against her abdomen. The one part of him she’d never touched.

The deep purr that sounded from his chest reverberated through his whole body. The vibration from his shaft hit her stomach and shot to her clit like a lightning bolt. Without thought, her body arched into him.

His other hand, which had been holding his towel, sank into the hair at her nape, clutching firmly. The pressure of their bodies pushed together was now the only thing holding the towel between them. If she moved away, it would fall, exposing him completely.

Gripping her hair hard enough for her to feel a pleasurable sting, he tilted her head to the side, exposing her neck. She could feel his hot breath on her ear, his lips ghosting over the skin of her lobe.

Voice gone ragged, he said, “I can scent your need, Alice. Let me help.”

Oh God, he can’t mean… How was she supposed to tell him no? Her nipples hardened, oversensitive in the now-damp fabric of her shirt. She clamped her arms to her sides more tightly, fingers curling into her palms in a tight fist.

Get to know him first. Get to know him first.

“I…I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Her voice was barely a whisper.

Directing her head to point toward his, she saw a predatory smile darken his features.

Slowly he let his mouth drop until it hovered a breath away from hers. “But you smell good enough to eat. Let me relieve you. I won’t do anything more, I promise,” he crooned.

She gasped as his hand on her back dipped to roughly knead her ass. He took her momentary surprise as an opportunity, expertly kissing her parted lips.

This time when a moan tore from her, she wasn’t surprised. Luka’s intelligence and confidence were so fucking sexy. When he kissed her, he didn’t do so sweetly. He didn’t tease her with soft lips and quick passes of his tongue. He kissed her like a starving man, deep and rough and frenzied.

The thought that he might kiss her pussy like this made her hands shoot out to clutch at his strong, damp shoulders. He growled into her mouth, lifting her against his body with one arm. The towel between them dropped as his leg shot out, his foot swiping away the contents of the low table.

In a whirlwind, she was lifted and turned until she opened her eyes, surprised to find herself lying on the table. Luka stood over her, completely naked, gazing down at her. Her eyes widened at the sight of his large, thick cock. She’d glimpsed it many times while they’d been locked up, but she’d never let her gaze linger. Now she reveled in the sight. Licking her lips, she imagined touching him there.

“Don’t push me, Alice,” he growled low in his throat. “Or I’ll have to do more than I promised.”

***

Luka hadn’t thought he’d be lucky enough to feel Alice in his arms again so soon. In fact, he’d decided that certain precautions needed to be taken to make sure he didn’t become too aroused while they were together in the reserve. He didn’t want to push her away, after all. He needed to seduce her slowly.

He’d sat in his tub, letting the warm water wash over him, imagining she was smiling up at him, running her hands over his shaft. He’d almost thought he could even scent her when he’d started pumping his fist, trying to relieve some of the building pressure before seeing her. But then he’d heard a scream and had raced out to find her…here.

The heated look she’d given him had pushed him over the edge. The scent of her need was so strong, he could tell she burned with it. All he wanted to do was rip off those tight shorts that curved over her ass like a second skin and plunge into her, but he forced himself to go slow. Make her want him.

Looking down at her now, his self-control was shattering bit by bit. The way she stared at his naked body, licking her lips like she wanted to taste him, sent his thoughts spiraling until only instinct remained. He gripped his cock, roughly pumping his fist over it, and ground out, “Take off your shorts, Alice.”

Her small pink tongue darted out to wet her full bottom lip again, and he groaned.

“If you don’t want them ripped off, remove them,” he snarled, making her flinch.

He cursed under his breath, sure he’d scared her away, but then her hands slowly moved down to unbutton and remove the shorts. “Good girl. Now the shirt.”

His heart pounded wildly in his chest. Would she do what he said? Allow him to dominate in the way he needed? The mating instinct raging in him told him she would. She was perfect for him in every way.

After a moment’s hesitation, she arched her back, lifting the shirt over her head and exposing her perfect breasts.

Luka sank to his knees at the edge of the table, taking in the sight before him. Slipping his arms under her thighs and clutching the tops of her legs, he let his gaze roam over her.

“You’re so damn gorgeous,” he breathed, his chest feeling tight.

Now propped on her elbows, her breaths were coming in quick gasps. A flush spread over her cheeks and down her chest, almost reaching her pebbled nipples. She squeaked when he gave a sharp tug, dragging her across the table toward him. He released her legs, letting them rest on either side of his hips, and loomed over her.

Placing one hand on her shoulder to keep her from scooting away and one hand sprawled over her small waist, he set upon her dusky nipple. As soon as his tongue circled the peak of her breast, she arched into him, her fingers digging into his hair. Low moans escaped her as he licked and sucked at her delectable breasts.

The scent of her arousal sat heavy in the air, making his mouth water. If he reached lower and touched her there, he’d find her soaking.

My mate, wet for me. At the thought, his purring intensified again. She cried out, squirming down against him more fully and angling her hips toward his painfully throbbing erection.

A sharp yank on his hair made him grin. Releasing her breast, he allowed his little mate to guild him where she wanted.

Most females would’ve directed him toward their sex, demanding he pleasure them. Instead, Alice tugged his face up to her own, pulling him down for a kiss. He groaned into her mouth, settling his body on hers, his cock trapped tightly against her grinding sex.

Kissing had quickly become one of his favorite things. The connection he felt when their mouths were locked like this was…indescribable. Could she taste her own flesh on his tongue?

Little stifled moans escaped her, smothered by his greedy mouth. The motion of her hips picked up speed, her fingers digging into his shoulders more firmly with each passing moment.

Eyes widening, he drew away. “It’s my job and my privilege to make you come. What do you think you’re doing?”

Her eyes were heavy, drugged with lust. A groan of protest and frustration burst from her before she clawed at him, trying to drag him back toward her. His chest expanded. Was there a sight more lovely than his mate, maddened by lust, reaching for him?

Grabbing one of her wrists in each hand, he forced her arms to her sides, then sat back on his haunches.

In a throaty voice, she said, “Please come back, Luka. I’m so close.”

Her sultry plea was just desperate enough to move him to do what she asked, but then he recalled the tenuous position he was in with her. He needed to show her he could rule her body. “You’ll come when I say so, love.”

He’d muttered the pet name quite by accident earlier, but the widening of her eyes, and the hint of a smile on her lips, made him think she’d liked it.

She let out a groan and raised her head to watch him. Holding her gaze, he lowered his mouth to her black underwear until he hovered just over the sensitive spot he’d researched. As though the primal part of him knew she loved the vibration from his purring, it rumbled through his chest once again.

At the sound, she let out a small whimper and held her breath. His open mouth landed, wet and hot, on top of the fabric covering her sex. She moaned, head falling back onto the table and hips jerking toward his tongue.

His cock twitched angrily; the blood pumping through it felt like boiling water. Every moment he spent not tending to his own needs was agonizing, but the way she writhed and mewled before him made it all worth it.

Releasing her restrained wrists, he quickly tore apart the area of underwear guarding her entrance and rolled the remnants up her hips and out of the way.

His breath left him. Soft brown curls sat atop her glistening, pinkened sex. Beautiful.

It seemed the time he’d spent admiring her stunning cunt had been too long, because she reached down and began quickly circling a small nub at the apex of her sex herself. A clitoris, clit for short, he recalled. She must be hurting if she’s willing to do this herself.

Knowing she wouldn’t take kindly to his teasing much longer, he threw her legs over his shoulders, snatched both her wrists, and pinned them on her stomach in one of his large palms. Her cry of protest transformed into a moan of ecstasy when he clamped his mouth over her sensitive bud.

Luka’s mind swam with pleasure, almost as if he were drunk. His female lay below him, moaning his name. The sweet taste of her arousal coated his tongue, his face rubbing against the soft skin at her thigh. A thrill ran through him, knowing he was about to hear her come for the first time. The stiffening and quivering of her body told him as much.

With a grunt, hating his own weakness, his free hand flew to his shaft, pumping in time with her rolling hips.

Her breaths hitched, and her body shuddered, making her breasts jiggle. So close now. He released her wrists, plunged a finger into her sex, and growled, “Come, female.”

Pumping his fist over himself harder, his own orgasm erupted out of him. He snarled and grinned while still licking and sucking her as he felt her tight core convulse around his finger. Her hands clutched the edge of the table, and her back bowed as she cried out, “Luka!”

Continuing to leisurely stroke her with his finger, he waited until her cries faded into soft pants. Then, unable to keep from touching her, but knowing her enticing core was too sensitive, he ran his palms up and down the soft skin of her thighs.

She looked to the ceiling, her hands reaching up to cover her face. Is she upset?

He felt her attempt to tug her legs away, so he gripped them tighter, frowning. This was supposed to make her like him more, not less. Why did she want away from him?

She sat up, supporting herself on her elbows, and studied him, brows drawn. The dark pink flush of her cheeks wasn’t just from exertion. Embarrassment?

Glancing down her body, she toyed with the elastic remnants of her underwear now circling her waist. In a shaky voice, she said, “Can I get dressed, please?”

He ground his teeth. Maybe if he stared at her hard enough, he could glimpse the inner workings of her mind. What had he done wrong?

Had he misread her attraction? Impossible. Experimentally, he leaned forward and gently kissed and bit her inner thigh. She jerked, and he scented her arousal spike again.

No, she was definitely still attracted to him.

She sat up more fully, shielding her sex from view with her hand. All of his Traxian instincts screamed to life, and a low growl erupted from his chest in time with a stab of pain.

My mate is hiding herself from me? He battled the urge to flip her, bend her over the table, and sink into her, proving she could keep nothing from him. But something in her eyes held him back.

Releasing her, he stood, then pulled her up against him. Skin to skin, she struggled weakly. “Luka…I—”

He silenced her by placing a soft, lingering kiss on her lips. After a moment, her body relaxed, sighing into his. The last thing he wanted to do was let her go. His heart clenched painfully in his chest. He knew if he wanted to distract her, he could. If he slipped his hand to her sex right now, she’d become aroused. Lose herself again. But she didn’t want him to, and that knowledge was like a knife to the heart.

When he ended the kiss, he saw the dazed expression slowly fade from her face. He gestured to the room he’d burst through. “The bathing room is through there.” Now pointing to the doors on the other end of his home, he said, “My room is there. I’m going to go get dressed as well.”

“Thank you.” Clearing her throat, she moved away from him. His body tensed at the loss.

After she’d hastily gathered her clothing, she retreated to the bathroom, leaving him naked and alone, burning with the need to chase after her.

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