Freeing Luka: Chapter 3

“We were really getting somewhere yesterday.” Helas grinned.

Alice frowned at him, then averted her gaze, staring down at her hands resting in her lap. She’d spent another restless night in her cell and was in no mood for Helas’ pretentious smiles or chipper attitude.

“If he hadn’t been close to breaking his chains, I would’ve left you alone.” Helas raised his hands in mock exasperation. “But I couldn’t have him damage you, now could I?”

Damage me? As if she were property. “He didn’t hurt me,” she said quietly.

The more Alice thought about the events of yesterday, the more conflicted she felt. It’d be better if she turned off her emotions and stopped caring about Luka, but she couldn’t seem to do it.

Helas nodded in agreement. “And as long as you do as I say, I won’t let him hurt you.” He leaned back in his seat and clasped his hands together. “Don’t worry, we have upgraded his restraints. They lock and unlock with a fingerprint. He won’t be able to break free again.”

Alice leveled her gaze on Helas. Disgust roiled within her. “Why Luka? You said you hated mixed species. Is that all there is to it?”

The way Luka had fought off the two men yesterday had been impressive. If he could do that while drugged and bound, she couldn’t imagine how difficult it would’ve been to capture him. Why would they have gone to the trouble if there were other people with mixed heritage around?

Helas’ fake smile faded. “You did what I asked yesterday, so I’ll answer one question. Is that really the one question you’d like to ask?”

Alice had a million questions. What time was it? Was this what the whole planet was like? How long had it been since she’d been taken? Why couldn’t she remember anything after being taken from her work?

Although all of these questions and more burned within her, she couldn’t fight the urge to learn more about Luka. “I’d like to know what kind of man he is.” Hopefully, Helas would tell her about all the people Luka had killed or little old ladies he’d stolen from. It’d be a hundred times easier not to care if Luka was a terrible person.

Helas wrinkled his bulbous nose. “He used to work with me as a research scientist. We were trying to discover a cure for our species’ infertility. He was very motivated, but after finding out about our experiments down here, it seems he was not motivated enough. I had no choice but to lock him up. He was planning on betraying me.”

She inwardly groaned. Her gut feeling had been correct. Luka was a victim, and if Helas’ story was true, then she also believed Luka must be a good man.

The reason Luka had been taken and locked up was now clear to her. The beatings and forced drug use, on the other hand, told her something different about Helas. The pain that’d been inflicted was unnecessary and had been done from a vindictive, angry place. Helas hadn’t taken Luka’s betrayal well.

“Curing infertility using a race descended from Clecanians is my organization’s primary goal. You humans haven’t ventured into space or interbred with any other species. Earth is a perfectly preserved, undiluted, living record of ancestral Clecanian DNA. It’s unfortunate that someone with tainted blood happened to be the one to recognize you, but I have to put my distaste aside for the greater good.”

“Why do you have to physically beat him and electrocute him? Don’t you have a sedative or something that’d work instead?”

“Mixing different drugs with the ones already in his system may cause unwanted reactions or possibly contaminate his samples. I try to use sedatives only when absolutely necessary.” He stood and moved to the door, waiting for Alice to follow. “It’s time. I’d like you to touch him more today.”

Alice rose, gaze fixed on the ground to hide her eagerness. “If you bring me some medical supplies, I’ll touch him. He has lots of bruises and cuts that need to be tended to.”

He let out a humorless chuckle and turned to face her again. “You aren’t in a position to make demands.” A wicked grin curved his lips. “He will not be healed. You will touch him. If you don’t, I’ll send a shock through his cuffs. Any pain or suffering he experiences today will be on your head, not mine.”

Tears welled behind her eyes again. She focused on controlling her breathing to keep him from seeing how his words affected her.

He stepped through the door, and Alice followed him quietly, walking with her head hung low all the way to Luka’s room. She couldn’t bear to see Helas’ triumphant expression. It was stupid for her to have mentioned healing Luka. Now Helas knew she cared whether the man was hurt or not. She’d shown a weakness to him, and he’d use it to control her.

This is exactly why I should try not to care! I’ve just made it worse for us both.

His gaze followed her as she moved through the open door of the cell. “Remember, I’ll be watching.”

Alice shuffled into the dim room, and her eyes locked on Luka’s. He was still kneeling and chained, but now instead of his hands being bound behind him, his arms were spread wide. The shackle at each wrist was resting, as if glued, on a new metal plate on the stone wall.

“His chains allowed him to have some freedom, but after yesterday’s episode, we decided restricting his movement would be wise.” Helas met her disdainful stare. “Magnetic cuffs are less comfortable, but he won’t be able to break out of them.”

She frowned at the back of his retreating head. He talks about chaining a man like he’s doing him a favor.

As the door closed behind Helas, she returned her attention to Luka. He tugged on the cuffs weakly and let out a pained groan. Dark, ugly bruises covered his torso, making Alice wince in sympathy. She knelt on the ground in front of him. His eyes weren’t black the way they’d been the last time she’d seen them. His pupils were still dilated, but he looked slightly more aware than he had yesterday. He let his gaze roam over her hungrily.

His head snapped up when a loud voice boomed from somewhere in the ceiling. “Touch him, Alice!”

She glanced back to Luka. His whole body had tensed at the sound, and his eyes were wild.

Before she could react to the sudden command, a bolt of electricity shot through Luka’s chains, causing him to double over and roar in pain.

Alice cried out and moved toward him. As much as she wanted to disobey Helas, she couldn’t allow Luka to suffer. She waited until the electric buzz had faded, then, when she was sure she wouldn’t be shocked, she reached out and tentatively placed her hand on his shoulder. Immediately, he leaned into her touch.

Luka glanced up at her, the pain evident on his face. How hard had Helas kicked him yesterday? If his ribs were broken, then seizing up like that must be excruciating.

Alice raised her other hand as well and caressed her fingertips over his bunched shoulders. His hard muscles relaxed under her touch, and he began purring. She smiled and whispered, “I’ve never heard a man purr before.”

As she rubbed his shoulders more firmly, her musings from the night before came back to her. Luka was very strong. Stronger than any man she’d ever met. What if she was able to get these shackles off him? He’d already proven to be protective of her. He could help them escape.

Smoothing back his hair, she looked into his eyes. “I’m so sorry they’re hurting you. Maybe we can get out of here together.”

I need a plan.

Alice allowed her hands to gently run over Luka’s arm until she reached his wrist. With her back to the camera, she hid his shackle from view and examined it. She’d never picked a lock before, but maybe she could learn.

“Shit,” she whispered under her breath. The thick metal circling his wrist didn’t have a keyhole, or any opening for that matter. Fingerprint. I forgot.

She was just about to move away to examine the metal plate itself when he snagged her hand with his own restrained one. She glanced at him, startled, but saw his eyes were focused on their interlaced fingers. He gently flexed and relaxed his fingers, running them against hers. His eyes slid closed, and his purring intensified.

Butterflies began flapping around in her stomach, and she attempted to tug her hand away. Luka’s eyes shot open, and he looked at her with brows drawn. He squeezed her hand softly then released it.

Even drugged, he was being more of a gentleman than a lot of guys she knew. He wanted to touch her, that much was obvious, but he also released her when she asked him to.

Moving to kneel in front of him again, she reached up and wound her arms around his neck, embracing him in a hug. Luka’s body tightened, and he pulled at the metal around his wrists, trying to get closer to her.

He nuzzled his head against her neck, giving her goosebumps.

Focus, Alice! she scolded.

This closeness was probably giving him the wrong idea, but she needed to talk to him without the guards hearing. In his ear, she whispered, “Can you understand me?”

He said nothing, but stilled when she spoke, so she continued, keeping her voice low in case Helas could hear her as well as see her. “I need your help to break out of here. Can you understand me?”

Again, he said nothing but instead began running his hot mouth over the sensitive flesh just below her ear.

Her plan to whisper to him and work out an escape together had failed, but Luka’s soft touches were helping to melt away her stress, so she hesitated a moment too long before pulling away. Heat flooded her core when his head dipped to press a hot kiss to the junction of her neck and shoulder.

Alice felt his chest expand with his inhale, and a low, rumbling growl escaped him. She jerked away from him and found his eyes were black again. He strained toward her.

Even after everything she’d been through, Alice still found herself drawn to this man, and a fleeting urge to kiss him overwhelmed her.

Embarrassment and shame made her flush, and she quickly scooted away from him. He was restrained and loaded up with drugs to make him horny. Of course he wouldn’t want her to kiss him. He probably didn’t truly want to kiss her either and was only touching her that way because he couldn’t help himself.

“I’m sorry,” she said, hugging her knees to her chest.

Luka glanced at his manacled wrist, then back to her. He released a frustrated breath and closed his eyes in concentration. In a broken voice, he grated, “Come back…Alice.”

Hope soared in her. Alice quickly scooted toward Luka and placed a hand on his knee. “You remembered my name! Can you understand me?”

He said nothing. Frustration overwhelmed her. Still, she thought, if he’s aware enough to remember my name, then maybe he’s fighting off whatever these meds are doing.

Helas had told her he was a scientist. If that was true, it meant Luka had to be at least a little smart. If he could break out of this haze, then maybe he’d have a clear enough mind to think of a way out of here.

A new plan formed in her mind. Distancing herself from him had caused him to talk, so now it was time for some positive reinforcement.

She removed her hand from his leg, earning a low growl from him, then pointed to him. “Luka.”

He stared at the hand she’d just removed from his knee.

Alice waved a hand in front of his face to get his attention. She pointed to her mouth and said, “Luka,” then to his mouth and said, “Luka,” and finally, she hovered her hand over his knee.

He followed her movements with his eyes. She pointed to his mouth again and waited.

He blinked a few times but finally repeated, “Luka.”

She cheered quietly, balling her fist in success before placing her hand on his knee again.

Luka purred quietly, and his gaze shot from her face to her hand. He raised his eyes to the ceiling in thought, then looked at her again and said, “Luka.”

She laughed lightly. “You are a smart guy.” She placed her left palm on his other knee.

Shifting in his seat, he chanted, “Luka, Luka, Luka.”

Alice actually laughed out loud. “Okay, tiger, but we need to get you to say some new words.” She placed her hand in front of his face. “Hand.”

He looked at it for a moment and rattled his hands securely locked in place and repeated, “Hand.”

Alice eyed Luka, wondering where to touch him as a reward. An odd combination of guilt and arousal assailed her as she examined his half-naked body. Even beaten and bruised, he was still magnificent. His broad, hard chest was covered in tanned, smooth skin. The small white tattoos that ran over his body begged for her to trace them with her finger.

“Hand,” he repeated firmly.

She reached out and traced a small curving tattoo that ran along his chiseled abs. Luka began purring again, and the tightly corded muscles of his stomach flexed under her touch.

As she followed the tattoo with her finger lower and lower, she heard a groan escape him. When she reached his pant line, she gasped and pulled her hand back. A massive erection was clearly visible through his thin pants. She looked up at him and found his eyes were black again.

In a low, rumbling voice, he growled, “Hand.”

She let out a nervous, high-pitched laugh. “Yeah, maybe if you come up with an escape plan, I’ll give you a hand.”

Alice swallowed and forced her gaze to remain fixed anywhere but his lap. It must be torture to feel constantly aroused and have no way of relieving yourself.

She looked up at him miserably, hoping he could understand the position she was in. “I’m sorry, Luka. If you weren’t drugged and you asked me to fool around with you, I would without a second thought, believe me.”

A booming, gravelly voice echoed from the ceiling again. “Resume touching him.”

Alice reached out quickly, worried Luka would be shocked again if she didn’t. “Also, they’re watching.” She began massaging his arms and shoulders, shooting a glare at the camera. “Having your arms stretched like this must hurt a lot.”

Luka’s eyes closed, and he groaned as she rubbed his sore muscles.

Alice thought back to the voice that’d just commanded her to touch him. It hadn’t been Helas’ voice. Had he left? Where did he go if he wasn’t always here?


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