Using Fejo: Chapter 23

Vanessa tried to covertly shimmy to shift her underwear and find some relief. She was sore in the most wonderful way, but the tight underwear and skirt she’d hastily selected had been a bad choice. It kept rubbing against her oversensitive skin, making it difficult to think.

She trailed behind Fejo, who was deep in conversation with Uja. The winged man continued to throw odd looks back at her that she couldn’t decipher. It was no secret he didn’t care for her, but Vanessa couldn’t give two shits. She was with Fejo now, and Uja would have to get used to her sooner or later.

They arrived at the bridge, where a large number of the crew waited. The room quieted as soon as Fejo entered, and Vanessa held back a proud smirk at her sexy pirate-captain mate. When he lifted his hand in greeting, a murmur broke out.

All the men in the room stared at the marks on his raised hand, then turned their eyes to her. Vanessa tipped up her chin and raised her brow in challenge. A sick dread curled in her stomach. Would they be underwhelmed to learn Fejo had recognized her? To her surprise, no one seemed disappointed, only shocked and perhaps covetous.

She peered at Fejo and found him beaming at her, smug pride oozing off him as he presented her—his mate.

Her face flamed, and she felt herself collapsing inwardly. He was so damn happy she was his, so pleased, and for some reason, his arrogance at having her as a mate built up her confidence, even as it embarrassed the hell out of her.

Fejo lowered his hand, silently calling her over, and she rushed toward him, craving his soothing presence. When she was by his side, he turned to his crew but paused when she slipped her hand into his. He peered down at her with furrowed brows. A slow grin curled his lips, and he gave her hand a squeeze. Her heart clenched to know he hadn’t expected even this small show of affection.

“As you can all see, Vanessa is my mate. Treat her as such while I’m gone.” Fejo’s voice was low and his lazy grin remained in place, but his deadly tone made his announcement seem to boom through the space. He silently eyed each of the men, his stare lingering on the two horned guys she now knew were probably spies for Klinara.

Though she’d argued—a lot—while getting ready a few minutes ago, Fejo had been unwilling to take her down to the port with him. Apparently, at this port bioshifting suits were required because of the extreme heat. Lurking thieves found it easiest to cut open those suits with special heated knives when stealing. After hearing this, Vanessa had thrown an all-out fit, arguing that the same could happen to him.

Her banshee impersonation had fallen on deaf ears since Fejo had only grinned as she’d grown more and more heated, seeming to find her concern adorable.

When he finished giving directions to the men, he gave her hand a small squeeze. “I’ll be back soon.”

Fejo made to pull away, but she held fast. “I still don’t think it’s a good idea. I mean, why do you even have a crew if you have to go run errands yourself? Aren’t you the boss?”

His gorgeous smile lit up his face, and Vanessa pursed her lips. A few hours of good sex had him looking even more devastating than before. His skin held more color, his eyes were bright and clear, and his confident aura had doubled in size.

“I need to make sure everything they’re uploading is right. It’d be easy for someone to plant a virus. If that happened, we’d only make it a few systems before breaking down and being robbed.” He leaned down, cupping her cheek, and pressed a kiss to her mouth, which she forced to remain unmoved.

Vanessa crossed her arms over her chest, and Fejo chuckled, giving her another swift kiss on the cheek before turning and pointing to one of the horned men—the angry one he’d stabbed only a few days ago. “Capra. Uja. With me now.”

Capra looked at his friend Maladek. They exchanged a glance Vanessa didn’t like one bit, and then, with a sneer, Maladek made his way out of the bridge.

Fejo made a show of walking backward to the exit, ogling her the whole way. Though she knew he was just being playful, her insides heated all the same. She rolled her eyes at him, then left, using the other door that led to the belly of the ship.

For the next hour or two or three—she couldn’t keep track—she trailed around the ship, bored and worried at the same time. She couldn’t decide whether she wanted to be alone or mingle with the rest of the crew. Both options had their downsides. When she was alone, all she could do was worry about Fejo. And when she was with people, she couldn’t seem to relax, constantly eyeing each of them and wondering if any had purposely sabotaged the guidance system.

Also, though they didn’t do anything untoward, their stares were unnerving. She supposed it was reasonable that they were curious about her, but a room full of large aliens gawking was not exactly her idea of a good time.

Eventually, she resigned herself to seeking out the cafeteria and food. She hadn’t eaten in a while, and her Olympic-level bed sport with Fejo had left her starving. She stood in front of the food synthesizers, all so different from the one she’d learned to use back on Clecania. Feeling like an idiot for not even knowing how to make food, she kept glancing over her shoulder, torn between giving up and leaving and forcing herself to stay and show the men onboard she wasn’t some idiot.

She’d successfully managed to pour herself a cup of thick purple gel and had preceded to sniff it in the hopes of deciphering whether it was edible when she felt heat on her back, the hair on her nape rising. A tall shadow spread out in front of her, and she could make out two large curled horns pointing up near the ceiling. Holding in her groan, she slowly turned and faced Maladek.

“Do you need any help?” he rumbled in a coarse, gravelly voice that perfectly matched his rough exterior. She knew she shouldn’t be too outwardly angry or suspicious of Maladek. She might give Fejo away if she was, but she couldn’t help the anger from simmering in her gut and sending a furious tremor through her body.

He stared at her with an inscrutable expression, his blood-red irises unblinking.

“I’ll manage,” she said, barely containing the acid that wanted to lace her words.

He eyed her cup, curling his lip as the purple gel seemed to deflate and melt into a thick paste. Without a word, he reached past her and typed a few things into the food synthesizer. When he stepped back, his eyes found her again, his stare unyielding. Vanessa’s gaze shot to the synthesizer, and she realized he’d programmed it to make more of the pastries she liked. He must’ve seen Fejo making them by the boatload every other meal.

Her teeth ground together. She wouldn’t say thank you. Not to this man who was likely working for the woman who enjoyed manipulating others as a pastime. She gave a curt nod instead and gathered the pastries onto a large tray. She turned in place, trying to find any evidence of a trash can for her now-bubbling goo but didn’t see one.

Seeming to understand what she was looking for, Maladek held out his hand, silently offering to take the cup for her. His palm was large and rough. Pale lavender scars crisscrossed over his fingers, and his nails were black. At first, she’d assumed it was nail polish, but the color looked natural.

She handed him the cup and could’ve sworn it shrank two sizes between her holding it and him holding it. His long fingers wrapped around the perimeter, almost concealing it from view. She was hoping he’d be off to find a trash can after taking the cup, but he didn’t. He just held it and stared at her.

Her patience finally snapped. “Can I help you with something?” she asked, raising a brow at him.

He looked unabashed when he immediately responded, “How did you make his marks appear? What happened when they appeared? What were you doing?”

“It’s none of your business,” she replied, edging past him.

He side-stepped, blocking her way. Her fingers tightened on her tray. “No, it’s not, but I’d like to know all the same.” His jaw was set, his expression unapologetic and firm. She got the feeling he wasn’t going to let her go anywhere until she answered him.

Well, fuck that. Even if she didn’t have a grudge against the man, she wasn’t about to talk to a stranger about how she and Fejo had just finished sixty-nining in a linen closet when his marks had suddenly appeared. Not only was it private, it was odd timing. Not exactly the romantic story you gushed about to strangers. Must give better blowjobs than I thought. She chuckled to herself.

“Did it happen while you were fucking?” Both his curt tone and the vulgar yet matter-of-fact question had her flinching. Her skin flushed with embarrassment. If people thought Vanessa was blunt, this guy was straight-up rude. No filter whatsoever.

She tried to walk past him again, and he blocked her. “I can see from the red on your cheeks that I’m right. Just give me an answer, human.”

Vanessa let out what some might call a growl and glared at him. “Yes, if you must know. But if you’re looking for some hack to make marks come out, I’ve gotta break it to you—I know a few other women who’ve been recognized, and it didn’t happen during sex. So, if you’re thinking about finding some poor woman to force into bed with you, it won’t work. Also, you should know, human women don’t like to be cornered and bullied into answering questions about their personal lives like this. Now back the fuck off.”

Maladek’s eyes widened, his body stiffening as she let her bitch flag fly. She took advantage of his shock, tossing one of her pastries into the air and jumping around his large body while he was preoccupied with catching it. She glanced over her shoulder at him as she sped away and saw he’d crushed the pastry in his fist.

She heard a joyful hoot sound from a table nearby and halted. Spinning toward the sound, she found the shark doctor grinning and displaying rows of pointy teeth. He was glancing between her and an angry Maladek, as were the rest of the men in the room.

Deciding it might not be the best idea to piss off a possible bad guy then walk back to her room alone, Vanessa lifted her chin and strode over to the table where the doctor and his friends were seated. All eyes widened at her approach. “Mind if I join you?”


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