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Kept by the Zandian (Zandian Brides #5)
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HUMAN FEMALES CANNOT BE TRUSTED.
She killed to escape her former slave master.
Stowed away on my ship. Injected me with poison.
Now she’s been remanded to me for probation.
It’s my job to watch her. Rule over her. Discipline her.
It’s up to me to decide if she’s worthy of asylum on our planet.
And I’m dragging my feet on the decision.
Because stars know, I like her right where I have her.
In my home. In my bed.
Kept by me.
Note: This stand-alone romance takes place in the Zandian Masters / Zandian Brides master-verse and delivers an out of this world happily ever after. No cheating, no cliffhangers.
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I can barely breathe.
If I don’t get out of this supply area soon, I’m going to die.
I can’t feel my legs and my lungs are on fire. I’m not even sure I’m on the right ship. This supply box seemed like a perfect place to hide when I escaped from my Ocretion owner, but once the ship jumped to hyperspace, things settled—on top of me.
The pallet above me presses heavily on my chest, and my arm is stuck in an awkward position, fist still clenched around the syringe of poison. My pack of supplies digs into my shoulder blades. It’s pitch black and the air is thick and dusty. Only my panic and racing heart keep me going.
The engines thrum and I feel the vibrations in my body—is that the way a Zandian ship sounds, or was my pallet traded to the Falcon ship beside it on the tarmac? If so, I’m in terrible trouble: The Falcons are rumored to be even crueler than the Ocretions.
My mind swims and suddenly I see him in front of me again, the Ocretion guard I encountered as I ran toward the airfield and the starships: His warty thick hands squeezing my neck, his stink attacking my nostrils, making me gag.
“Trying to escape?” His hissing voice is full of pleasure. “We’ll see about that. I will personally oversee your punishment, human slave.”
“No!” My voice is barely audible as I gasp for air.
“The shock sticks will only be the start,” he says, relishing the words. Squeezes harder.
My vision goes spotty, colors flickering, and then I remember the syringe in my hand, to be used as a last resort, and swing my arm upward, hard and fierce, puncturing his thick gray skin.
Closing my eyes and begging the universe to save me.
And miraculously, a mere three seconds later—just like Leylah promised—his hands soften, relaxing like a flower at night. His whole body goes slack until he falls lifeless. A sack of bones and stench.
Suddenly light blinds my eyes. I hear voices, and my body shifts as they lift away the pallet.
I’ve been found.
The voice I hear is low, masculine, and deep. “What the veck?”
I don’t answer, as if staying silent will somehow save me now.
“Who are you and what are you doing on my ship?” He speaks in Ocretion and then repeats it—I assume—in a tongue I don’t understand.
I blink at the sudden light—the first I’ve seen in over two planet rotations. My mouth is dry with lack of fluid. Thank Mother Earth they’ve pulled the crushing weight from my body, so at least I can breathe.
I’m supposed to say something, a phrase I was taught, but my brain won’t cooperate.
Flashes of orange—is he a Falcon? Now all I see is the Ocretion in my mind, squeezing my throat. I scream and fight him off, my pinned arm shooting up, nerves firing. I stab wildly at the air.
“Get off me! Get away!” At least that’s what I mean to say. My voice doesn’t work, though, and the sounds come out like horrible squeals, like wheels without oil. My body starts shaking so badly I can’t control myself. My hand reflexively opens and the syringe is gone, and all of the sounds around me fade into the distance.
* * *
“Stars, I’m hurt! My arm. She poisoned me.” The speaker sounds more irritated than injured. Certainly not dead like the Ocretion I killed when I escaped. “Veck. It’s numb.”
Taut voices join in. “Stand by for med support.”
“Secure her and remove her weapon.”
“Assess her for danger.”
I cough and try to focus, but the sounds zoom in and out. Some being grabs me, moves me. I’m limp.
“Get this pack on his arm immediately. Captain, tell us what is happening.”
And then that voice, rich and low. “It’s fading now. It wasn’t completely numb because I could still move my fingers. But I felt it. What the veck is in that syringe?”
My words start to return and I cough. Whisper, “I am a human.”
“Obviously,” one of the beings says drily.
“I request asylum.”
“Why did you attack me? Were you sent as a spy?”
It’s not the cutting, nasty tones of an Ocretion. It’s… deep and sexy. He moves closer to my face, so close his breath feathers across my skin. “Open your eyes. Look at me.”
I force my lids open and blink, my eyes acclimating to the brightness of the corridor, and I scan my surroundings. The being in front of me is a warrior dressed in white garb, with a sword at his belt. His skin is an even light purple, and huge muscles stand out on his lean, tall form. Atop his head are two horns that appear more like appendages than the hard bone of a beast. His jaw is defined, square. His lips smooth and full.
He’s breathtaking. Totally different from the Ocretion masters who owned me back on Romon-3. But I thrust those thoughts away—they’re the least of my concerns. The important thing is that he’s Zandian.