Using Fejo: Chapter 18


Vanessa’s stomach turned yet again as she stood under the foam shower. Fejo hadn’t deserved that. He hadn’t deserved it at all. He’d taken care of her, had held her through the night. She was pretty sure at one point he’d even changed the sheets so she wouldn’t wake up in a puddle of her own sweat.

Vaguely, his soothing whispered words floated back to her, and she recalled how calm his voice had made her. And what had she done? The same thing she always fucking did.

As soon as she’d felt the least bit vulnerable, her embarrassment had morphed and she’d lashed out. But this time, she wasn’t as easily able to push her behavior down and act like it was nothing.

Taking out her issues on Fejo wasn’t right. Whether he was keeping her here rather than letting her go back to Earth was beside the point. He was a good man, and she’d done nothing but continually hurt him. She breathed out a deep sigh and finished cleaning up. The shower’s built-in air blower forced the residual foam to drip off her. She then used foam to clean her teeth and went searching for new clothing.

Settling on thick, tight black pants and a figure-hugging eggplant sweater, she waited for Fejo to return. She rehearsed her apology in her head, chiding herself every time her words became sarcastic or her tone grew acidic. She had to learn how to express her feelings without thinking she was stupid for doing it, without being embarrassed about having feelings in the first place. When what felt like an hour had rolled by and Fejo had not returned, she huffed out an annoyed breath.

It was her own fault. She’d told him to leave. Had practically kicked him out the door. Vanessa wouldn’t be surprised if he found another room to bunk in and left her here to rot. The sudden idea that he might never come back—as irrational as it was—spurred her to rise and cross to the door, intent to fiddle with the entry pad again until it let her out.

But there was no need. The door slid open as soon as she neared it, and she realized he’d given her access.

Well, that made her feel even shittier. She sighed and peered up and down the hall, wondering where he might’ve gone. She checked the control room first, and when she didn’t see him among the rows of chairs and desks that had appeared out of nowhere in the once-empty room, she moved on. The men hadn’t seemed to notice her right away. They were all pointing at something on a screen and chatting with each other instead.

Next, she stopped in the cafeteria. The few men who were there did notice her but said nothing. It wasn’t until she’d been searching for almost twenty minutes that she came upon the orange doctor with the sharp teeth and Uja.

He frowned at her again, but this time his frown was more resigned than critical, as if he’d learned all he could about the insect under the glass and now he just had to live with it as an unsightly decoration on his wall.

“Have you seen Fejo?” she asked.

The orange man, who she decided looked sort of like a shark, grinned at her again. “If I had to guess, he’d be in the pool. If you can’t find him, that’s usually where he is.”

She gave a tentative grin back to the man, trying to see past his terrifying appearance. “Uh, thanks.”

“I just left him a couple of minutes ago. If he’s in there, he’ll have just arrived. He usually locks the room before he swims,” Uja added. He continued to frown, and her shoulders bunched.

“I’ll just go wait outside, then,” she shot back, stepping around them and turning right down the perpendicular hallway. With an inward curse, she immediately stopped. Sliding her eyes shut, she bit the inside of her cheek. Heat rising on her face, she turned, walking in the opposite direction—the correct direction. Uja was still standing in the hallway as she passed. Vanessa gave an awkward little wave and tried to laugh off her error.

Before she made it ten feet, she heard heavy steps behind her. “I can let you in if he’s there,” Uja grumbled.

“And why would you do that? I thought you hated me.” She eyed him sidelong.

“Because he, for some reason, doesn’t hate you, and I’m trying to be a better friend.”

Vanessa nodded. Good enough for her.

They walked in silence the rest of the way. When they arrived at the door to the small storage-style locker room that led to the pool, Uja glanced at the control pad. “It’s locked. Means he’s in there.” His brows furrowed. “He just arrived, but he set the lock to remain engaged for two hours. Did something happen between you two?” he shot at her, accusation ringing in his voice.

Vanessa rolled her eyes. Yes, something had happened. She barely had enough energy to try to work it out with Fejo, though, and sure as shit wasn’t going to waste time explaining herself to Uja. “Huh, you know what? Something did happen, and I just remembered that it’s absolutely none of your business,” she quipped, giving him a false smile.

He grimaced at her and typed something into the keypad before turning on his heel and stomping away. The door slid open, and she walked through the seemingly bare navy-blue room. None of the hidden wall compartments where belongings were kept were lit purple to indicate they were in use. She supposed if he was here alone and had locked the room, he wouldn’t need to hide his things away.

Before stepping out into the poolroom, she took a deep breath. Okay. Just remember to keep your cool and apologize like an adult. And be vulnerable. And tell him how much you appreciated his help. She breathed out another calming breath before entering the pool room.

Confusion gripped her as she scanned the empty space and the calm water. Nobody was here. Was there somewhere else he hadn’t shown her on their tour that he could’ve been hiding? Maybe a sauna or something?

A shape in the water caught her eye, and her heart dropped into her stomach. No, no, no. She shuffled toward the edge of the pool, not wanting to believe what she was seeing. There was a man down there in the water. A very Fejo-shaped man with dark, flowing hair. The water right around his head was tinged pink.

Breaths coming in sharp gasps, she fumbled slipping off her shoes and, without thinking, dove into the pool. She was a terrible swimmer. Had quit her lessons halfway through when she’d been a kid. And with no one to care enough to force her to continue, she’d never learned to be a skilled swimmer.

She thrashed and kicked, trying to get to the bottom of the pool. The salty water stung her eyes, but his blurry figure was growing closer. Fuck, how deep is this? she thought as the pressure in her head built from diving too fast.

She finally reached him and tugged at his hand, but he didn’t budge. Using his body weight to pull herself down to the bottom of the pool, she hooked her arms under his shoulders and pushed up against the pool floor as hard as she could, but his weight was just too heavy. How did this cinderblock of a man ever swim at all?

Her heartbeat thrashed in her chest and her throat was convulsing from lack of oxygen, but she kept pulling. That last of her air escaped her throat on an uncontrollable sob when she realized he was gone.

Suddenly, though, he moved. With a graceful swish, he flipped toward her, eyes wide and unworried. He wrapped an arm around her waist and shot to the surface with one solid kick of his legs. Her hair spread all around her face, and she coughed, sucking air into her deprived lungs.

She thrashed in the water, trying to stay above the surface with her soaked clothes weighing her down. Fejo kept his arm locked around her waist and paddled them both to the edge. She continued to sputter and cough, pushing her long hair, plastered to her face, out of her eyes. She was sure she must look an awful lot like the drowned girl from The Ring at that moment.

“Vanessa, what are you doing? Are you okay? You looked like you were drowning. Did you fall in?”

She finally swept her hair away from her face, heart still hammering in her chest at the thought of him dead and floating in the bottom of the pool. Despite all of her earlier lectures to herself, her temper burst out. “What were you doing?” she screamed. “I thought you were dead. I thought you’d hit your head and drowned. What the hell is going on?”

He blinked down at her, a deep line between his brows. Rather than appearing as abashed as he should’ve been, a slow, delicious smile curled his lips. “Were you trying to save me?” he asked, taking a step toward her.

She coughed again, feeling stupid. He was obviously alright, though she still could not for the life of her figure out how. “That was the plan! But apparently you just like to hang out at the bottom of pools and scare people to death.”

“But…you don’t seem to be a good swimmer.” He tilted his head, taking another step.

All at once, the awareness that he was completely naked and wet hit her. She lost her words as her attention strayed down his body. She focused on his face again and swallowed. “Well…no. I’m not great, but I couldn’t just leave you there,” she muttered, her defensiveness melting away.

“You just about drowned trying to save me.” His grin widened to a breathtaking, sparkling thing that warmed her belly.

Still, for some reason, old habits died hard, and she wanted to deny it, uncomfortable with him knowing quite how terrified she’d been when she’d thought she’d never see him again.

He dipped into the water, descending until he was just about at eye level with her, and pulled her close.

She stiffened, not ready to swim again quite yet. “How were you down there?” she pressed. For all she knew, he could’ve sunk to the bottom just a minute before she’d entered, but the surface of the pool had been so still. Surely if he’d just dropped down, there would’ve still been ripples in the water.

He pulled his wet hair to the side, revealing his strong, corded neck. Vanessa licked her lips. A rumble broke out in his chest in response, but he just smiled. “Watch,” he said.

Before her eyes, slits appeared in the side of his throat. Flaps—no…gills, like a fish. “Oh my God.” She reached toward them, almost touching but stopping herself short. “You have gills. How did I not know that? Are you a merman?”

The gills disappeared, smoothing themselves down until only unblemished skin remained. He chuckled. “I don’t know what a merman is, but I can breathe underwater. My ancestors, the ones I told you about who don’t exist anymore, lived in the water back on the old planet.”

“Oh.” That was all she could think to say. He’d been so human-like that she’d almost forgotten he was an alien. She had to admit, though, out of all the alien traits she’d seen, this was a pretty cool one.

Something dripped into the water, and she peered down. Another red bead of blood fell from his hair and dispersed in the pool. Her gaze shot back up to him and she noticed a dark spot in his black hairline. Reaching out, she gripped his face, pulling him close. “What happened? Why have you not done anything about this?” She grumbled to herself as she took his hand and tugged him out of the water. “Free-bleeding into a saltwater pool like a straight-up psychopath.”

He chuckled behind her, and his fingers curled against hers where they were gripping him.

Her clothes weighed more heavily on her out of the water, and she got the distinct impression she resembled a drowned cat. Her vanity would have to wait, though. “Put some clothes on so we can go to the med bay.”

He followed her to the locker room—still naked, despite her order—and said, “We have a temporary healer right here.”

She spun, searching to find the spot he was referring to, and her brain stuttered off. Rivulets of water trailed down his chiseled, glistening body. She forced her gaze to the ceiling. “Still naked,” she said, rocking on her heels.

He handed the price-scanner-shaped healer to her. “You’ll have to do it,” he said with a grin lighting his voice.

She shooed him away. “Fine. Let’s go sit down somewhere—and maybe put on some clothes.”

He turned, strutting out of the room, and threw over his shoulder, “I’m quite comfortable, though.”

Vanessa bit her lip as she eyed his firm, muscular ass. “I’m sure you are.” She trailed after him, and when he was seated, she held out the device with raised brows.

He clicked a few buttons on the small screen and pulled his hair back from his temple, exposing the cut along his hairline. “Just run it along the cut, and it’ll seal it. I can get the scar taken care of when we get back to Clecania.”

Moving in close and standing between his spread knees, she squinted at the gash and ran the device slowly over the cut. To her surprise, a bubbling black liquid covered the wound and pulled his skin taut. When she reached the bottom of his cheek, she chanced a glance to his eyes and found him smiling at her with a dreamy, sultry expression. She shook her head and refocused on his temple, smothering her smile.

“You peel it off now,” he said, clearly expecting her to do that too, though he was more than capable.

She pursed her lips at him but raised her hands anyway. The corner of the black tar lifted easily and began to peel off his cut. His skin pulled tight as though she were peeling duct tape off him.

She caught his eye, only to see he was watching her without an ounce of pain to be seen on his face. “Is that okay?” she asked, her own expression stuck in a wince.

“Wonderful,” he breathed on a sigh.

“I will never understand you,” she mumbled, tugging at the rest of the black tar and peeling it away from a red scar. She tossed the piece of tar onto the bench next to him, pressed a hand to her wet shirt to get some liquid on her fingers, and wiped away the remnants of blood that clung to his skin. Her hand paused when a deep purr rumbled through his chest.

Slowly, she lifted her hand away and peered down at him. She knew what that purr meant. She’d learned about it at the Temple. It was something Clecanians did when they were happy—very happy. She’d never heard him make that sound before and couldn’t understand why this, of all things, would cause him to have that reaction.

She wasn’t worthy of it, and the sound reminded her why she’d come here in the first place. She tensed her jaw, determined to apologize the way she’d intended. “Fejo, I came here to tell you something,” she started.

He gazed up at her. “What’s that, lovely?”

The heat in his tone and the way he purred his pet name for her set a fire in her belly. She hadn’t thought she’d ever hear him flirt with her again like this. His hands rode up the backs of her thighs, and her thoughts faded. She tried to bring them into focus by swatting at his hands half-heartedly. “Hey, stop that. I need to talk to you.”

He chuckled again, a deep rumble that sent shivers down her spine. “What do you need to talk to me about?” He used his grip on the backs of her thighs to tug her against him. The heat of his body seeped through her cold, wet clothes, and her nipples hardened. She clung to his shoulders, trying to push herself away. His head dipped, and he nuzzled her breasts through her wet shirt, hands sliding up to grope her ass at the same time.

She breathed out a moan, not realizing how much she’d missed the feel of his hands on her body and his scent surrounding her. Then her brain caught up, and she pushed away more forcefully.

“No, Fejo.” She pointed at him, trying to keep him at bay with a single waggling finger. Her nipples chafed under the wet material of her sweater, but she had to get this out before she lost her courage—and before he blindly forgave her.

He was grinning a devilish grin, and he planted his arms on the back of the bench, reclining slightly and giving her a full view of his slick body and stiff, protruding erection. Her focus locked onto him there, and her breathing hitched. He was so damn beautiful. She slammed her eyes shut and spun in place, feeling it was better if she couldn’t see him.

“I wanted to apologize for this morning,” she started. He didn’t say anything, so she continued with a deep breath. “You didn’t deserve that. The truth is, I wanted to tell you everything yesterday, but this morning I just…I didn’t like knowing you’d seen that side of me.” She sped through the rest. “And I got embarrassed and I took it out on you, and that’s not fair, and I’m gonna work on it,”

Warm fingers brushed the hair away from her neck, and she jumped, spinning, only to find him standing a foot away and grinning down at her. “Do you regret confiding in me?” he asked, cupping her cheek with his large, warm palm.

She let out a low sigh, relaxing into his touch. He seemed to vibrate with pleasure, his purr rumbling in the empty room. “No. I mean, I don’t like talking about it at all, but…” Her brows scrunched together. She didn’t know exactly how to describe the way she felt. “I…I don’t hate that you know. Does that make sense? If it were anyone else, I’d be out of control, but it somehow felt good to tell you. Like a weight was lifted.”

He beamed at her, and she melted. When he wrapped his hand around her nape and pulled her up to his mouth, she didn’t hesitate. She kissed him back, savoring the salty bite of his lips as they moved against hers, powerful and demanding.

With two hands on her ass, he lifted her up to his chest. She wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms behind his neck, holding on as his kiss rendered her body boneless. Before she’d realized they were moving, he’d brought her into a dark, unfamiliar room. She felt him kicking at something, then he dropped onto the floor, seating himself with her now straddling him.

She moaned into his mouth when she felt his rigid shaft rub over her belly. No more shame left to be had with Fejo, she scooted her hips forward until she could rock against his cock.

His hands flung the wet, clinging sweater over her head. The damp fabric seemed to suction itself around her arms, and they both chuckled as it remained stuck there. She tried to wriggle free but froze with a moan when his hot mouth descended on her breasts, teasing her with small nips of his teeth before soothing his bites with his scalding tongue.

The heat pooling in her core and warming her inner thighs made goose bumps break out over her skin. With shallow pants, she rocked her clit against the bar of his cock, hating the barrier between them but not wanting to break away. His left hand shot to the bunched fabric of her stretchy pants and he bunched the material, urging her hips on by shoving his fist into the small of her back. His other hand gripped her side, his large thumb and fingers wrapping around her ribcage to keep her breasts lifted to his hungry mouth.

He kissed his way up her throat, then used his strong tongue to lick a path to her ear. She whimpered, and his hands flew up to tangle in her hair.

Vanessa’s head swam. Nothing had ever felt this good. Tangled and wet and wrapped up with Fejo on a bed of what she’d now identified as warm towels. The pressure between her legs built, but he stilled her hips, pulling her pelvis away from his pulsing shaft with a tug to her pants.

He growled into the dip of her shoulder when she wriggled her hips and let out a frustrated moan. He used his other hand buried in her hair to keep her gaze on his dark, gorgeous eyes. “Ask me, lovely. Ask for what you want.”

Vanessa’s neurons seemed to misfire, half of her balking in the face of his challenge and wicked grin. The other half screamed for her to drop to her knees and beg if it’d make him happy.

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