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Using Fejo: Chapter 20

Fejo bolted upright, unable to tear his gaze away from the mating marks now covering his hands. Vanessa’s sweet scent floated back to him, and cold dread set in, hollowing his belly and chest. A muscle already ticking in his jaw, he turned his attention to Vanessa. Her eyes were wide, her chin dropped. As still as if she’d been turned to stone, her gaze was riveted to his marks.

His words caught in his throat. This female was his mate. Had he always known on some level? But she wanted to leave, he remembered. If things had felt impossible before, they were worse now. Fejo had no idea what he was supposed to do. What lengths would he have to go to in order to keep her? And how long would it take before she stopped hating him for it?

Finally, her gaze drifted up to his. They locked eyes, hers wide with dilated pupils. The space between them now felt charged, magnetic. As if an invisible force was trying to pull him to her.

“Fejo, are you in here? We have a problem,” Uja’s voice boomed from somewhere outside.

Vanessa flinched at the sound, but her wide gaze never strayed from his.

“Fejo!” Uja called again.

With a start, Vanessa glanced down at herself and dragged a towel up to cover her naked body, then her gaze shot to the door.

She was getting scared off. He could see it on her face, in the way she was white-knuckle gripping the towel at her chest. “Not now!” he boomed, hoping Uja would go away.

His nose picked up on Uja’s scent outside the door just before a heavy fist came down, rapping on the metal. “We need to make a stop. The guidance system has had an issue. We’ve located a nearby port with our backup, but they require captain-led entry.”

Fejo barely registered what Uja was saying, his attention still engulfed with Vanessa and their new situation. Her utter stillness and pallid complexion gave her the appearance of a scared animal.

He should keep his mouth shut. Whatever he said right now wouldn’t go over well. She was human, and from what he knew, they didn’t have mating. Maybe it would be best to give her some space and time to come to terms with what had just happened.

When he’d reprimanded Capra in the cafeteria, she’d run off to get space and had forgiven him with a level head. And after snapping at him this morning, all she’d seemed to need was time alone to get her feelings in order. Perhaps if he gave her space now, she’d be more open to talking about their future—it was undoubtedly their future. He dreaded the chaos that would ensure if she believed otherwise.

Her attention swiveled to him when he scooted toward her and took her head in his palms. “I’ll meet you in our room after I’ve dealt with this,” he whispered, hating the uncertain roughness leaking into his voice.

He kissed her, keeping it restrained despite the unfamiliar instincts gnawing at his insides to do more. His cock stirred with the need to press her down and claim her. When he pulled away, she gazed up into his eyes, her dark brows furrowed.

“We need to talk about this now,” she whispered.

Uja hammered on the door again, and Fejo glared in his direction. “Soon,” he assured.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, he forced himself to let her go and cross to the door. The farther away he moved, the heavier his body felt. Queasiness stirred in his gut and his hackles rose in agitation. When he slipped through the doorway, he didn’t look back, afraid his conflicted mind wouldn’t be able to take it.

He didn’t spare a glance toward Uja, just headed for his clothes, his skin crawling as the distance between him and his mate grew. His clothing felt like sandpaper on his skin as he slipped it on.

Uja cursed under his breath and grabbed Fejo’s wrist. He flung his hand away with a snarl. Out of his control, his attention kept being pulled back to the hall where the towel room—and his naked mate—were.

“Are those—” Uja began, his eyes glued to Fejo’s hands.

“I can’t think about them right now,” he said, though his mind was having a hard time thinking of anything else. Noticing that Uja’s scent so close to Vanessa’s was forcing his fingers to curl into a tight fist, Fejo tried to breathe through his mouth. “What’s the issue?” Without waiting for Uja to answer, he stomped determinedly out of the poolroom and made his way to the bridge.

“Fejo,” Uja tried again, but Fejo lifted a hand to silence him. His mind was so torn. It raged against the urge to turn and walk back to Vanessa. His leg muscles burned with the effort to keep stepping forward.

Her scent lingered on his clothing, ratcheting his tension. What would happen to him if she refused the mating bond? “I need to focus on something else right now. I can’t think about this anymore,” he said, more to himself than Uja.

He could almost feel Uja’s stare heating his back, but the male allowed the subject to drop. “Vulstrata Port needs your private clearance code before they assign us a landing bay.” Uja stepped closer to him and whispered, “I may be overreacting, but the bug that took out our guidance system was unlike any I’ve seen. I wonder if it was perhaps planted in the last few days.”

The urgency in Uja’s voice was strong enough to tear Fejo from his thoughts. He eyed the male. “But why? They had to know we had a rudimentary backup in place.”

Uja shook his head, his expression pinched and foreboding. “Why, indeed?”


Fejo flew down the hallway toward his room, somehow knowing Vanessa was there. It’d turned out that the bug in the system had corrupted the map files themselves and all they’d need to do at port was download updated versions.

While dealing with the bug that had all the other crewmen jittery and pale, his mind had been divided. Somehow, he’d felt Vanessa. He’d known exactly where she was and where she’d gone.

Like a tickle running across his back, he’d known when she’d left the poolroom. He’d known the direction she’d taken. And somehow, he’d known that she’d gotten lost on her way, wandering into an odd part of the ship three times before finally making it back to their room. Or maybe her wandering had been intentional. For all he knew, she could’ve been trying to hide from him.

The closer he got to their room, the more the sickness in his gut eased. Cold fear remained, though. It was a cruel trick of the universe to make his mate yet another woman who didn’t really want him.

Even if they’d had a tender moment at the pool earlier, Vanessa was tightly wound. Scared off by even the shallowest show of vulnerability. And the fucking Goddess had chosen this moment to reveal they were mates. Couldn’t have given him more time to win her over. Had to do it right when he was starting to make headway. Right when she’d be the most easily scared off.

He hadn’t even explained to her that he’d decided to take her back to her sister. Now he wondered if that was a good thing. He couldn’t take her back now. At least not until he’d gotten solid reassurances that she’d leave Earth with him afterward.

He stopped in front of his quarters. His soul rebelled at his pause, seeming to reach out from his chest, urging him to move forward into the room his mate was occupying. Heat shot through his veins, and a poorly timed rush of blood surged to his cock. He’d never felt a need like this before. Wrapping himself in her scent was a necessity. As was seeing her beautiful face. And feeding her. And sheathing himself inside her warm—

He shook his head. Get ahold of yourself!

These instincts were maddening, overpowering. How were people supposed to live like this? Still, the fear of rejection overpowered his new urges, and he remained glued in place, hands braced on either side of the door. He hung his head, mentally preparing for whatever turns the conversation might take, but then the metal slid aside and Vanessa hurried forward, almost walking into him before gasping and taking a step back.

She’d changed into a soft black dress that flowed around her upper thighs. He licked his lips and forced his focus to lift to her face. Her hair had dried into a wild mess and her eyes remained wide, her lips pursed.

“Where are you going?” he burst out, unable to stop himself. Though the mating bond told his body she was his, it wouldn’t help his cause to let those possessive instincts show themselves.

Perhaps she was still in too much shock to care about his tone because she cleared her throat and breathed, “Uh, for a walk.”

His feet carried him forward without his consent, pressing her deeper into the room. She mirrored his movements and shuffled backward as he approached. They stood with a heavy silence ringing between them. She peered at his hands, her eyes running over his new markings. His fingers twitched. “They’re still there,” he said, his voice rough.

She met his gaze again but didn’t speak.

“Say something,” he groaned. He wouldn’t speak first. Not before he knew where her thoughts were leading her. He couldn’t let her know all he wanted to do was pull her up against him, tie her to the bed, and never let her leave. Not if she was on the verge of planning another escape. He’d have to play this the right way. If that meant tamping down all the things he wanted to say and do and instead work tirelessly to put her at ease, he’d do it.

She opened her mouth, then closed it, then tried again. “This complicates things,” she muttered.

Fejo’s muscles grew rigid, and a spike of frustration made him want to punch the wall. He resisted, forcing himself to remain still.

She stared at the floor, her brows furrowing in concentration. He could see the wheels turning, and he wondered what she might be trying to logic out.

“I need to get back to Julie and Mia. That’s never going to change,” she said to the ground while running a hand through her hair. “I think if we—” She peered back up at him, and he couldn’t hold himself back any longer.

His arms shot out to circle her waist and pull her in, crushing her to his chest and lifting her off her feet. He buried his face in the crook of her neck and inhaled, letting his mind go fuzzy with her scent. “I can’t let you go, Vanessa,” he growled into her skin. “I know you don’t feel it, but you’re mine now. I’m yours. I can’t… I won’t…”

His words caught in his chest when he felt her arms come up around his neck. “Fejo, let me down.” Her voice was…gentle. As if she were trying to comfort him. To soften the blow?

He let out a deep exhale and lowered her down his body but didn’t remove his hands from her waist.

She arched her back so she could look up into his eyes. “We’re mated, right?” she asked. He nodded silently. “Julie and Mia…they’re my family. They’re a part of me, and I can’t just forget about them.” His heart was hardening in his chest. She placed a hand on his cheek. “But I’ve heard about mating. They talked to us about it at the Temple in case we were recognized. I know how important it is, and I know there’s something happening in you and if I leave, it’ll hurt you. I don’t know if that means you’ll get sick or just be unhappy, but I won’t do that to you.”

She tilted her head to look deeper into his eyes. “You’re a part of me too. I just meant things are more complicated now. We”—she emphasized the word, and his skin buzzed, his mind unable to comprehend what she was saying—“need to figure out how to make this work. Either I need to go to Earth alone and somehow find my way back, or you need to go there with me. I’m not leaving them.” She placed her other hand on his cheek, leaning into him with a soft smile. “But I’m not leaving you either.”

His heart skipped, then beat too fast, then stuttered out again. She was accepting the bond? Just like that? He didn’t want to press his luck for fear she’d change her mind, but he couldn’t help it. “Are you just doing this because you feel obligated? Because of what might happen if I can’t be near you?”

His hands tightened around her back while he waited for her response. She grinned. “No. I’m doing this because on some level I think I feel it too. I hardly know you, but somehow, it’s never felt that way. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since the first time we met.” Her smile turned devious and a light blush colored her cheeks. “Also…I like the idea that you’re a little obsessed with me now.”

A deep purr reverberated in Fejo’s chest. He had his mate in his arms, and she wanted to be there. The most captivating female he’d ever met was certain she wanted him. He could see it in her eyes and in the way she’d talked about their future. As if him being a part of her life was now indisputable. He lifted her against his chest again. “‘Obsessed’ is an understatement.”


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