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Book 1 in the Phoenix Rising series
The Law of the love goddess Lufra states that no man may take his pleasure inside any part of a woman’s body, unless she has climaxed first. Each time, every time. But when warrior-scout Anje is taken captive by Brin, Lufra’s shaman, she discovers that not even divine law can protect her from the erotic wiles of two determined men.
Huge, dark and enigmatic, Brin wears a tattoo of the holy dragon on his magnificent body. Years of erotic training have given him skills and stamina Anje cannot match. But it’s the strength of his will that threatens to conquer her very soul, while his beautiful young friend Trey has a bravado and a vulnerability that make her mouth water.
Anje fears Brin’s arrogant prediction may be true—”You’ll surrender, scout, and you’ll glory in it. You’ll abandon yourself and adore it. Because you trust—trust absolutely.” Screaming and cursing her ecstasy, she learns that dark raptures are addictive. But neither man is what he seems and all three are pawns in a suicidal scheme to placate an angry goddess. Saving her lovers will take everything Anje’s got—as a woman and a warrior.
Note: This book contains graphic male/male sexual interaction.
A gentle fist took Anje’s loins and squeezed. Holy Mother, she’d never had a man Brin’s size! Two heartbeats later, the full sense of what he’d said caught up with her and for an instant, all the strength leaked out of her knees. She stumbled and Brin steadied her.
“We?” Her voice cracked. “What do you mean, we?”
“Exactly what I said. Ah Trey. Good.” Trey laid a rough bar of soap and a clean shirt on the rock. Brin moved behind her and untied her hands. Over his shoulder, he said to the other man, “You start at her feet. I’ll meet you in the middle. And scrub!” He sounded amused. “How long since you had a bath, scout?”
“Look, you wouldn’t—” Anje lunged away in mid-sentence. Two steps later, she was sprinting. The forest was the Mother’s. It would hide her.
But before she could really hit her stride, a long arm snagged her elbow and spun her around to smack into Brin’s powerful chest. Clucking his disapproval, Trey knelt and grasped her ankles, fumbling with the laces on her boots. He was bare already, the sunlight sparkling cheerfully on the knobs of his spine, on firm, creamy flesh.
Ah, Mother help her! Anje kicked hard with her heel, putting all the strength of thigh and hip into straightening her leg and catching him viciously on the collarbone. He disappeared with a muffled curse and a splash.
Abruptly, her legs were swept out from under her. She landed in the shallows with a tremendous, smacking splash and a mountain fell on top of her.
She swore, bucking like a fellwolf in a trap, squirming against the weight of Brin’s body. He had her caged, pressing her into the soft sand, his chest spreading her breasts beneath him. His huge hands were wrapped around her throat, the fingers set firmly against her thundering pulse. The threat was clear, but the pressure was not at all uncomfortable.
“Listen to me, scout.” He trapped her legs under his, the wet leather of his trews slick and slippery on her thigh. He wasn’t even breathing hard. “I may have been a little blunt.”
“Blunt?” She glared, wondering why the heat of her rage and terror hadn’t boiled the blood in his veins.
Inky lashes swept over his eyes. When he looked up, she lost her train of thought for a second. “We won’t hurt you, I swear. We can’t. Lufra’s Law does not permit it.”
The water lapped cool over her limbs, kissed the back of her neck.
Trey’s voice came from beside her, cajoling. “Think how good it’ll be to be clean. Come on, sweeting.”
“Lufra’s Law?” she croaked, her gaze still tangled with Brin’s.
Slowly, he peeled his body away, his dark face impassive. But she thought he was well pleased with himself. “Show some sense, scout. You’re more than outnumbered and I’ve given my word we won’t hurt you.”
“Gods! How stupid do you think I am?” Her face twisted with scorn, while her heart galloped like a runaway vran. She’d never felt so small, so helpless.
So very, very female.
“For the last time, we won’t rape you!” Brin’s lips thinned. “What is it about Feolin honor you don’t understand?”
“Feolin honor…?” Words failed her. Carefully, she sat up.
“Lufra’s Law does not permit a woman to be taken against her will.” Brin showed his teeth. “Lufra is a goddess of pleasure, of love. The use of force in the act of sex is sacrilege to the Feolin.”
“But you said you were going to…” She had to drag in a breath. “…fuck me.”
The tension went out of his shoulders. He enveloped her wrist in one hand and carried it to his lips. “And we will.” His tongue drew tiny circles over the flutter of her pulse. “With great pleasure. Yours too.”
“But you said—”
“Without before within,” said Trey. He rubbed his shoulder against hers, like a temple cat.
“For the Mother’s sake, speak plainly! What do you mean?”
“Plainly? Very well,” said Brin. His voice was deep and dispassionate. “The Law of Lufra states that no man may take his pleasure inside any part of a woman’s body, unless she has offered to the Goddess first. Each time, every time. Without before within. You see?”
“Offered to the goddess?” Anje stared. “Oh.” Comprehension dawned. “You mean if I don’t come, you can’t fuck me?”
“Crudely put, but true. Lufra cares only for pleasure, freely given.” This time, he did smile—a crooked smile, true, but devastating for all that. She wondered if he knew what a lethal weapon he had. Hah! Of course he knew, the calculating bastard.
Anje looked from one grinning face to the other. The tide of her panic receded slightly, allowing her to breathe. Inside her, a sliver of dark arousal tangled with the fear and fury. Ruthlessly, she stamped it out.
The arrogance of them, the smug, unmitigated… To hold a Child of the Mother and expect her to— Men serviced her, not the other way around.
“Go to hell!” So furious she was panting, she snatched up the clean shirt.
Brin actually chuckled, a dark and wicked sound that made her belly clench. “Mind you, the Law of Lufra is not fussy as to ways and means.”
The scuffle was short and sharp, and she had the satisfaction of hearing him grunt when she elbowed his inner thigh, perilously high. But the end was inevitable.
“Come on, scout.” She ignored the seductive whisper. “You’re safe as long as you control your…urges. I give you my word.”
Trey scrambled closer and took her hands. “You might as well get clean, darling. We aren’t letting you go.”
Brin stood and tugged at the laces of his trews. Anje looked away, but not before she caught a glimpse of a nasty bruise, riding low on one hard hip. He chuckled.
Trey removed her boots and pulled her down until she was reclining on the sandy shelf. As he arranged her feet on his thigh, she heard splashing and Brin settled behind her. A big, muscled arm slid beneath her neck. “Lean your head back, scout.”
For an instant longer, she held firm. Ah Mother, Trey was right, it would be wonderful to bathe properly. Among the Children, a warrior’s word was her bond. Why it should be she couldn’t fathom, but instinct told her she could trust the Feolin to be no different.
She knew she couldn’t expect them not to push Lufra’s Law to its limit—and hers. Gods there wasn’t anything she’d put past them! Nonetheless, this body was hers to control. She could be strong.
And after she was clean and fed—it had been hours since she’d eaten—she’d be on her way with the precious map. They had to sleep sometime. Through half-closed eyes, she caressed Trey’s shoulders with her gaze. She might even arrange a meeting later, on her own terms, between clean sheets.
But which man? How…piquant.
Feeling confident for the first time since Brin’s hard hands had grabbed her on the hilltop, she relaxed and let herself be held.
The water felt wonderful on her scalp, Brin’s fingers unraveling her braids and swishing her hair back and forth, sifting and stroking. The soap smelt spicy, astringent, a masculine smell. She liked it.
Anje groaned. Trey rubbed the soles of her feet and worked lather between her toes.
She allowed herself to drift. Ah, Mother of the world, she was tired. Three months was a long, lonely time. The relaxation pulled her under, turning her limbs to honey. A warm mouth whispered over her cheek, traced her eyebrow.
So very tempting. No pressure. As long as she didn’t climax, she could relax and enjoy being pampered. The Children had no time for pampering. What utterly wicked luxury.
“What’s your name?” Brin murmured in her ear.
“Anje,” she said and groaned again, this time with disgust at her own stupidity.