Resisting Maxu: Chapter 4


Meg hadn’t been ready.

Of the six women onstage, she’d been the one to bungle her answers most often. She couldn’t be too hard on herself, though. Most of the questions they’d asked had been about romantic relationships and sex and things she’d never in her life been so open about with anyone. Not even her husband.

What was courting like on Earth? Did females generally guide the courtship? How should I know? I’ve been married since I was eighteen!

What positions did humans prefer? Out of the two positions I’ve ever tried, I prefer missionary.

Which party was responsible for child rearing? Well, in my screwed-up family, the women are invariably in charge of that.

Why did humans kiss? Were they not worried about mouth bacteria? I tried to kiss my husband as little as possible, so I couldn’t tell ya.

How would humans feel learning about other planets? They’ll go apeshit and point missiles into space.

These were all the answers that had popped into her head when she’d been asked these questions, but instead of speaking them aloud, she’d goggled at the crowd like a fish, grappling for something, anything to say that was even remotely informative.

The women with her—Sophia, Lucy, Rita, Tara, and Camille—had all taken turns answering questions. Some had done better than others—some being Lucy, Camille, and Rita. The rest had stumbled through, just like her, while fidgeting in their seats and looking as if they’d just been asked to feed a starving lion.

Luckily, Lucy, Camille, and Rita had been angels incarnate. Whenever Meg had tripped up on one of her answers or Tara had gone off on nonsensical tangents completely unrelated to the question asked, one of the three would gently jump in and take the reins.

Occasionally, the political representatives of the Tremantian Queen, Kel and Malinu, would elaborate on the human’s replies, but mostly they’d remained silent, only stepping in to answer questions pertaining to the current plans for integration between Clecania and Earth.

Each city on Clecania had their own rulers and their own ideas for how to deal with the arduous task of convincing the Alliance to reclassify Earth, but the Queen of Tremanta was the planet’s representative. Out of all the rulers here, she’d been elected as the one to meet with the Intergalactic Alliance and argue Clecania’s case to have Earth’s classification changed.

Meg had also learned through the icy tones of many questioning civilians that they didn’t particularly like the power the Tremantian Queen wielded.

But even though the inquisition portion of the day had been rough, the rest of the evening was shaping up to be spectacular. Their whole traveling party had been dressed in the finest Cribusian clothing in preparation for a lavish party at the Gilganti Menagerie.

The Menagerie, as Meg understood it, was an old building constructed against the side of the cliffs. It had once functioned as a sort of zoo but was now more of a museum and event space. The person who’d built it had designed the three connected buildings to resemble the three egg bundles the female Gilganti arachnids laid. Three glass globes connected by thin passageways dripped down the bluff like massive Gilganti egg sacs.

Gross. Meg grinned dreamily. She couldn’t wait to see it.

While puffing her hair in the mirror, Meg gave herself an internal pep talk. Okay, so the interview didn’t go great, but this will be my time to shine. A party. A real party. Her smile widened.

Sure, she’d never actually been to a sophisticated party like this unless you could call her small, solemn wedding a party, but new Meg—the person she wanted to be—loved parties. She was a sexy, flirty, interesting party girl on the inside where it counted, and she’d finally let that side of herself out tonight.

She’d been given the choice of several outfits—all gloriously beautiful—and had selected a light pink gauzy number that made her feel more fashionable than she ever had in her life.

Tiered layers of diaphanous pink fabric wrapped loosely around her body from her shoulders to her upper thighs, almost like a cape or a poncho. Though the horizontal strips of fabric overlapped each other slightly, they were still very see-through.

She’d been so close to saying fuck it and wearing nothing under the odd outfit, but then the voices in her head had gotten the better of her and she’d requested a skin-toned bodysuit.

Still, anyone looking might assume she was naked underneath the translucent material unless they looked closely. How would they know?

The outfit was a masterpiece so short she’d worried about bending over. Of course, she needn’t have worried. Like every other wonderful creation in this city, the dress was both gorgeous and functional. Loose shorts were hidden under the final layer of fabric and disguised as the hem of the dress. No gusts of wind would have her flashing anyone tonight.

Unsurprisingly, heels were uncommon here. Instead, a captivating man with sparkling teal eyes named Lito had come and designed everyone’s foot décor based on their outfits. His assistants had glued fresh pink-and-white blossoms and glittering rhinestones to the tops of Meg’s feet in a gorgeous design that crawled up her calves. They also applied makeup to her feet, contouring until she barely recognized her own toes. Had they ever looked that graceful before?

The foot accessories were hard to get used to, but the more Meg studied herself in the mirror, the more like a mystical forest dryad she felt. Even the gold symbol of Clecania she and all the members of her traveling party were required to wear while in public shined happily on her shoulder where it was pinned. Her gauzy dress had little sparkles embedded in the fabric, and when the light hit the cloth, the curves of her silhouette looked sensual and elegant against the glitter.

“Wow, you look incredible,” Meg breathed as the silky blue fabric of Daunet’s dress swished into sight. In uniform, Daunet was beautiful, but out of uniform, wearing a form-fitting sky-blue gown with strips of fabric crossing over her shoulders and wrapping around her torso, she looked like a Greek goddess.

Daunet ran her gaze over Meg’s outfit, and instinctively, Meg’s jaw clenched, her shoulders curling forward. She hates it. It’s too revealing. I can’t pull this off. Maybe she could get another one-piece in a bright color, so it was clear she wasn’t naked underneath.

Daunet smiled. “You look absolutely enchanting.”

“Jeremy would never let me out of the house looking like this,” Meg said while calming the heat that had crawled up her cheeks at the compliment.

“Who’s Jeremy?” There was an edge to Daunet’s voice, and her golden eyes narrowed. “You’ve never mentioned him before.”

Meg stilled, holding back the suspicious gulp lodged in her throat. She hadn’t told anybody about Jeremy. What would the Tremantians do if they found out she was a married woman? They wouldn’t take her back, but would they try to limit what she could do? Would they contact Jeremy as soon as Earth was reclassified?

This was a constant worry in the back of her mind, and despite how selfish it was, Meg prayed Earth would never be introduced to the larger universe so she wouldn’t have to find out. “He’s nobody,” she said a little too quietly. Rather than holding Daunet’s critical gaze, she turned to the mirror and pretended to fiddle with her hair.

“Alright,” Daunet said slowly, clearly not fooled by Meg’s response. She extended one long leg, pointed her toes, and rested her foot in front of her. “Have you practiced your greeting?”

With a jolt and a nod, Meg imitated. She pointed her toes and dropped them next to Daunet’s, copying the woman’s slight bow. Bowing hadn’t been mentioned in her research, but if Daunet was doing it, it was probably right.

She let out a gasp. “Your foot is gorgeous, Daunet!” Pearls of varying sizes swirled over Daunet’s foot and wrapped around her ankle. Holographic blue shimmer was strategically dusted over the high points on her foot, making it look like her natural skin. Suddenly Meg understood why people did this little bow. When she angled her body forward, she found her focus automatically shifted to both of their feet. It was a chance to admire the art everyone took so much care to create.

“Thank you.” Daunet admired her own foot before straightening. “I was going to remind you that you have to remain in my eyeline all night, but with that dress, I won’t have a hard time keeping track of you. It commands attention.”

Meg twirled in place. “I know, right?” Her spin stopped short, and she gave Daunet another once-over. “Even if there is trouble, though, you won’t be able to do much in that.” She gestured to the tight bodice of Daunet’s dress.

The woman chuckled. “We’re about to visit a building dedicated to the female Gilganti, a creature who entices male partners with her smooth fur and patterned wings before devouring them whole. A female can be both deadly and beautiful, and I am no exception. I have everything I need to keep you safe.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Meg agreed with an impressed nod.

Once the other humans were ready, they set off. When they reached the Menagerie, they were instructed to stand in front of horizontal ground-level notches in the building wall. Meg jumped when a metal tray slid through the opening in front of her, almost bumping into her toes. The man guiding them into the building lifted one leg and placed the sole of his foot into the foam on the tray. When he lifted it, an almost indiscernible clear layer was molded to the bottom of his foot like an invisible second skin.

Meg followed suit, dipping both of her feet into the foam and coming away with a thin layer that she could barely feel.

“When you leave the building, you can peel off the coating. We ask that everyone change their coating before entering each section of the Menagerie.”

He waited for the group to nod their assent before leading them inside. Meg’s nod was a little jerky, her excitement making her giddy. Each human’s guard stayed close to their charge as they walked down the long spiral staircase and out onto a landing overlooking the first globe of the complex. Meg’s breath caught. The whole building was made of glass, and the view before her was magnificent. A teal sea glittering with fiery orange sunlight.

The group descended a set of stairs to the left that curved downward along the wall to the open main floor below. Her pulse thrummed through her body as the waiting crowd came into view. All eyes turned to their small group.

Meg had been expecting some kind of direction once they’d reached the party, but there was none. The humans dispersed, making their way into the crowd and letting small groups of polite Cribusians approach and talk with them.

After a glass of strong, clear alcohol that warmed her insides and a few minutes of small talk with the two feather-footed women she’d noticed outside of the amphitheater, Meg relaxed. Though Daunet stayed close by, she never interfered with her conversation. No one was telling her what to do or who to be.

Her family would have dropped dead of mortification if they saw her traipsing around on her bedazzled feet, grinning at men and women. But all she felt was happiness. Freedom.

People came up to her and chatted in an inquisitive way, similar to the interview from earlier in the day but much more relaxed and friendly. As she drank another glass of burning clear liquid, the grin she shot at the people who came to talk to her grew larger, her eye contact bolder.

Some people she smiled at kept their expressions neutral, but many grinned back. She was flirting, she knew she was, but she couldn’t help herself. She wanted to flirt. She hadn’t had many opportunities to flirt as an adult. And she’d never looked this good.

Not only did she feel beautiful on the outside, she felt important too. Like she was actually doing something that benefitted her fellow humans.

Zeleph—a tall, broad-shouldered male who’d been giving her space yet returning to her when there was a lull in conversation—approached, holding one of the small candies she’d been snatching up from the floating trays circling the room.

He was beautiful, with a warm, broad grin and bright robin’s-egg-blue skin. Unlike in Tremanta, the men of Cribus sported well-groomed facial hair. Zeleph’s beard was a lovely shade of creamy white. Small gems were scattered throughout it as well as his hair, which was short and slicked away from his long, pointed ears. It was like someone had taken clouds, blue sky, and muscle and sculpted them into a perfect man.

Her eyes caught on the candy in his hand. She’d never tasted anything like them before. A mix of cherry and something undefinable, like icy air or fog. Something she’d never known could be a taste. She didn’t love the flavor as much as she loved the extraordinariness of it.

He offered the candy to her. With a little blush, she accepted. “Thank you, Zeleph.”

He smiled, flashing a set of brilliant white fangs that were a bit out of place amid his otherwise kind features.

“You are most welcome, Meg. I noticed you enjoyed them.” Mouth already full of the chewy candy, she gave a sheepish grin and nodded. Her jaw grew sore with the effort to chew quickly as he stared. “May I speak with you a little longer? You look so radiant. I’m having trouble focusing on anything else.”

Warmth dripped down her spine, and she melted. He didn’t leave her side for the rest of the night. Meg didn’t mind. They flirted and talked. She’d learned about so much from her studies, yet as she carried on a conversation with Zeleph and immersed herself in the party, Meg realized there were so many things about a culture that could only be learned through experience.

They strolled together through the three buildings of the Menagerie. The second was almost identical to the first. Plain glass all around, but when Meg finally remembered to look down, just like everyone else was, she froze. Though the walls and ceiling were bare, the floor was anything but. Layers of clear glass spotted with sculptured plants and paint made it look like you were in a cloud walking over a forest from above. They sauntered over the art installation, commenting on the delicate way the artist had placed the leaves so it looked like they were blowing in the wind.

By the time she and Zeleph had reached the final building, her cheeks ached from smiling. Drink in hand, he guided her into one of the dark glass tunnels that burrowed through the cliffside.

Her palms grew sweaty. Was he going to kiss her? Why else did men lead women into dark corners?

Meg swiped her tongue over her lips when his head was turned and tried to remember how to breathe. Did she even know how to kiss well? She’d only ever kissed Jeremy, and from the amount of moisture she’d had to wipe off her mouth after every kiss, she assumed he was bad. But she might be just as bad. How was she supposed to know? It wasn’t like they’d ever talked about it.

He won’t know if you’re bad at it anyway, she reminded herself with a rush of confidence. Then she recalled how unnatural most Clecanians found kissing and frowned. Well, maybe he was going to kiss her neck or something, then. Whatever the equivalent was here.

She could make out the pale rock of the cliff against the glass as they walked and marveled at how difficult it must have been to mold the material to the curves and points of the cliffside.

“So, why did you bring me in here?” Meg whispered in a flirtatious tone, brushing her arm against his and thankful the tunnel was too dim for him to see the furious blush heating her cheeks.

“The Gilganti,” he whispered back. His gaze dropped to the floor, and she followed suit.

Spiders as big as her head scurried over craggy ledges in the cliff right below her toes. Waves crashed violently against rocks a thousand feet below the creatures. She let out a shriek and jumped back against the glass wall, her drink tumbling to the floor.

Zeleph rushed toward her with concern creasing his brow. “Are you alright? They can’t get in here. I’m so sorry. I thought you’d like to see them.”

When her heart finally lifted from where it had dropped into her belly, she grinned. A slow chuckle built until she was all out laughing. “I’m fine. I’m fine. I don’t know why I’m laughing.” She wheezed at his stupefied expression.

Taking a deep breath and clearing her throat, she stared down at the spiders again. Thick hair covered their bodies, almost obstructing their legs from view. If it weren’t for the four delicate fairy wings protruding from their backs, they would have looked like severed heads scuttling around the rocks.

Meg peered up at Zeleph, who was still gazing at her with a worried expression. She crossed to him, pressing a hand to his arm. “I’m good now. They really are…something. Thank you so much for showing me.” She held eye contact, keeping her hand in place on his arm. Kiss him now, dummy.

Before she could build her courage, he gave her a gentle smile, swiped her glass off the ground, and guided her through the remainder of the tunnel. Daunet was waiting on the other side. She raised a brow at Meg.

During their time together in Sauven, Daunet had come to understand just how ready Meg was to experience everything her new life had to offer. Including men.

“It’s time to go back to the housing,” Daunet announced. “I’ll be over there.” She motioned toward the entrance to the building, and Meg nodded.

“It was wonderful meeting you, Meg. I hope you’ll come to Cribus again very soon.” Zeleph stood with his arms clasped behind his back. The inner corners of his pale white brows curled up, showing his disappointment.

Gathering her nerve, she lifted to her toes and pressed a kiss to his lips. Zeleph’s eyes widened, and his mouth remained firm. Fire raced over her skin. An odd pain stabbed through her belly.

This was awkward. She didn’t know why she’d assumed it wouldn’t be. She wasn’t exactly a master of seduction, and nobody here kissed. Falling back to her heels, she quickly murmured, “Thank you for showing me around and keeping me company.” Without waiting for a response, she sped away.

Once she reached Daunet, she heard an amused, “How did it go?”

“Shut up,” Meg chuckled, embarrassment still heating her entire face. She darted a last glance over her shoulder and found Zeleph staring after her, brows drawn in confusion. “Please, can we just get out of here?” she groaned.

It was probably for the best that she’d crashed and burned. Baby steps. She’d kissed somebody new. That was something to be proud of at least. She’d put herself out there. It was a good thing he hadn’t wanted to take it further—or at least she tried to convince herself of that as she and Daunet silently wound through the party until they met with the rest of their group at the entrance.

After all, she’d only been with one man—more like one guy—her whole life. Her knowledge of sexual relationships was meager at best. She knew how things had worked between her and Jeremy and knew she didn’t care for it, but that wasn’t much to go on. She wanted to learn, to experiment, to figure out who she was and what she liked, but even as the idea of being intimate with someone thrilled her, it also made her jittery all over.

“Hey, lady! I’m surprised to see you here.” The soft southern accent came from Meg’s right. Camille, gorgeous in her slinky magenta gown, fell into step beside Meg. The gown’s high slit exposed the gold star-shaped gems running up her shin. Gold had also been dusted strategically over her collarbones, shoulders, and cheeks, enhancing her umber complexion.

Lucy, who’d donned a bright yellow ballerina skirt, strolled next to Camille with a knowing grin. She was the picture of summer itself, with bold yellow flower petals covering golden-tanned legs. “Yeah. What happened with Mr. Blue Eyes? You two seemed real cozy when you went in that tunnel.”

“Can’t have all my fun on the first day, right?” Meg lied with a playful shrug.

Daunet snorted next to her. Lucy began gushing about some other hot guy she’d chatted with, while Camille marveled over the Gilganti. Meg’s mind remained lost in memories of the night.

Before she knew it, she’d stepped into her small, comfortable room on the second floor of a bright red domed building. The layers and layers of fluff that had been built right into the floor and made up her enormous bed called to her, and before she’d even heard her door zoom shut, she’d collapsed onto them.

She replayed the evening in her head, wanting to capture the memories in amber so she could relive them forever. Maybe it was the alcohol still working its way through her system, but even her embarrassing exit from the party no longer bothered her.

What would have happened if she’d just stayed? Let Zeleph get over his shock for a moment? Would he have smiled down at her? Taken her hand and led her back into the dim tunnel?

She kicked her feet up in the air in front of her, admiring her legs and the delicate flowers flowing down her shins. They swirled with the sparkling gems placed ever so carefully on her skin. She ran her hands over the velvet-soft petals, then grazed them over her knees and up her legs. The fabric of her dress ghosted against her upper thighs as she brushed her hands over the material. The scratchiness of the cloth against her skin made her break out in goose bumps. Would that be what his beard felt like?

When her fingers lingered on her low belly, she bit her lip. She rose and, with as much nonchalance as she could muster, searched the room. She didn’t know why she was always so timid about this, but she was. Even now, contemplating it, heat rose to her cheeks. When she was certain there was no one hiding in the bathroom or behind the freestanding clothing rack, she tiptoed back to the bed.

Masturbation had always been secret, shameful, and yet she loved it. Loved knowing that feeling of release. Loved losing herself in a fantasy for a few blissful minutes. Zeleph’s wide blue eyes and fanged smile appeared in her mind as she sank to her knees on the bed.

Meg scooted toward the wall and grabbed a few of the fluffiest pillows she’d ever seen, then straddled them, bunching them between her knees until they felt just right. She pictured Zeleph walking backward, pulling her into the tunnel.

The slow rocking of her hips started up as, in her mind, he pressed her against the cool glass wall and began kissing her neck, running his soft, pale blue hands over her arms, down her back. She pictured him stripping off her delicate outfit and sliding her thick underwear down her ass and thighs.

Heat pooled deep in her belly as the friction of the pillow rubbed against her clit. He gripped her hips and spun her around, forcing her forward until her naked breasts were pressed up against the glass. A frown pulled at her mouth and her brows furrowed.

That didn’t feel right. It was what she wanted, but it didn’t fit with Zeleph. He was too sweet. He wouldn’t do it like that. In her mind, he gentled, pressing soft kisses to her shoulder and whispering how beautiful she’d looked in her ear.

The heat in her core cooled a fraction, and she struggled to hang on to it, grinding her hips harder against her pillow. He wrenched her hands above her head and ran his fangs over her neck. She squinted her eyes open. The heat still pulsed in her low belly, but nothing built.

The idea of Zeleph being rough was too incongruous, so why did her mind keep going there? She wanted to picture him. Right? Maybe this was her mind’s way of telling her she’d wished he’d made a move, been more assertive, that was all.

She closed her eyes again and stopped trying to force her fantasy. On the ground. The gruff voice giving the command sounded nothing like Zeleph, but his words shot through her like an electric current. Slowly, she sank to her knees in the dark tunnel.

On your belly now. Spread those pretty knees for me. Pressure built in her sex as the rocking of her hips sped up, and she pictured herself lying on her belly on the glass floor of the tunnel. Luckily, her mind edited out all the spiders, but not the thousand-foot drop to the crashing waves below.

She tried to turn her cheek to the glass, but suddenly the man came down on top of her, his naked body molded to hers, one firm hand around her throat, forcing her to look into the glass. She could almost make out his reflection in the floor as he loomed over her shoulder and his cock slid over her ass.

The man holding her down and forcing her legs wider apart with his knees wasn’t Zeleph. He was too broad, too heavy. The hand on her neck was too rough. Her breaths came in deep pants and sweat ran down her spine.

One of her hands glided up her body to cover her breast over her dress as the other fisted into the pillow between her thighs. The man’s mouth locked on her neck as he prodded her entrance. He bit down on her shoulder, and her hips bucked.

She was rocking faster now, her movements jerky and shallow, hitting just the place she needed. One hand still at her throat, his other snaked down and wrapped around her hip. He gripped her there so she couldn’t move as his cock slid inside in one smooth thrust of his hips.

Meg bit her lip to keep her noises from coming out. She wanted to moan and say the dirty things in her head out loud. But she’d never done that before, always too afraid of being caught. So instead, she said them in her head.

Yes! Fuck me, please. Make me come. The man obliged, slamming hard into her like she imagined this kind of man would. Her knees shook and tensed around the pillow, the lips of her pussy and her clit pulsing as her orgasm built.

In her head she chanted, I’m coming. I’m coming. Please don’t stop.

His mouth rested on her ear, and his thrusts grew so, so deep. Never.

Heat rushed through her. Her back bowed and her whole body tensed as her orgasm crested. She let out a strangled whimper.

Then the heat under her skin grew molten and gentle, turning her limbs to jelly. She ground against the pillow once, twice, then curled forward, falling onto the bed with a moan of contentment. Shoving a few new pillows under her head and pushing the old ones away, she stretched and grinned.

Though the night hadn’t ended with who she’d thought would pleasure her in her head, it had still been the best night she could remember. Meg drifted to sleep with a smile on her face. Sated, a little buzzed, and still wearing her risqué, sparkling pink dress.

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