The Siren's Call (Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance) (FORCED TO SERVE) (7 page)

“Though your behavior with me has been honorable, I do not feel drawn to you in return for bonding, so I would refuse your requests. And seduction would not work on me, as my Sumerian programming in mating is not susceptible to pretenses or flattery. There are other females on the Liberator, even those who were rescued with me, who would relish the opportunity to bond with someone as knowledge as you are and whose physical body is as pleasing as yours,” Boca said firmly.

“Your praise is empty if you do not wish to meet my needs nor allow me to meet yours,” Malachi replied. “It makes me wonder if your feelings would be altered if I fixed you.”

—are your ears not working? I do not wish you to fix me. You may ignore my brokenness without guilt. In fact, I insist you do so,” Boca ordered, not raising her head from her task, but she did force herself to soften her tone. She’d had a lot of practice with that. “I thank you for your compassion—Malachi, Demon of Synar. Know that I consider you my friend.”

“Hmmm…yes, I recall my favorite old host hearing that from many of his bonding females. Being a ‘friend’ usually implies a non-copulating relationship, does it not?” he asked.

Boca nodded, refusing to look at him.

Malachi sighed in frustration.

“Perhaps you are merely distracted from seeing me as a true possibility. Are you aware that you are drawn to the Greggor for bonding? If you don’t admit the truth, or are in denial, I’ll just force you to see it. After being inside you, I know your energy signature now and could easily amplify what you wish to hide from yourself. I don’t even think Ania or Liam would mind because they would like to see you fixed as well,” he informed her, watching her face.

“You have no further permission to go within me, so keep out of my body. Chiang…he is…I have no words to describe how I feel about the Greggor. But regardless of my reactions to him, I do not intend to bond with him either. With so many women seeking his attention, that particular male will not suffer for my refusal either,” Boca said tightly, placing her hands on the edge of the table and gripping. “It is none of your concern anyway. I don’t want to get to know either of you any better than I already do.”

Malachi narrowed his gaze at her anger over other females and Chiang.

“It is endlessly fascinating to me how females fight giving in to their physical needs so much harder than any male ever does. When a male feels an urge to crawl into a female, more often than not he just does it. Females always resist. And this is true of every species I have known. Why is that, Boca Ador? I wish to understand why you would deny not just the Greggor but yourself by your refusal to bond with him. I can tell you want to—and quite badly.”

“You see nothing except what suits your own interests. I may be a female, but I am not a fool. Mating and bonding are just sanctioned forms of control,” Boca said sharply, focusing her gaze on the instruments to keep from meeting the demon’s knowing stare. She found some binding straps and starting creating bundles.

“You think sharing pleasure between bodies is just about control? Well so is refusing a male who wants you and needs you as much as Chiang the Greggor does right now. You might not like to view it as such, but you are controlling him by saying no,” Malachi challenged.

“It is not the same,” Boca denied, stacking the banded implements back into the box. “And I am not controlling Chiang. I am sparing him what would be a stressful union with a damaged female. There are many other females on the Liberator, and he is sought after constantly as a potential partner. The Greggor may do as he wishes.”

“Chiang the Greggor wishes to do you,” Malachi said on a laugh. “Sorry…Earth humor. Gwen is corrupting my speech.”

Boca finally turned a flushed and furious gaze on Malachi. She grabbed something off the table without looking, and stepped to his seat with a bundle of dissecting scalpels in her hand, which she brandished under his nose in a swipe.

“Hear me, demon. I know how to use these implements very well to punish those who would seek to determine my fate. How long will it take you to grow back a nose on that host body you take such care of?”

Well acquainted now with female emotional rage after existing inside Ania Looren for so long, Malachi held up his hands. “I see you feel threatened by my words. Perhaps I overstepped.”

“You certainly did,” she said, scalpels still under his nose as she said the words through clenched teeth.

“Boca, what’s wrong? Is Malachi threatening you?” Chiang demanded, striding up to them with anger in his gaze.

He had sensed Boca’s inner turmoil from across the room when he walked into Medical. Chiang could not stand by while the demon upset her, no matter what the being did to him in retaliation. He had already upset her yesterday with the tests. Plus he’d frightened her by breaking the collar.

When he’d walked in to find her fighting with Malachi, he had been coming to tell her that Gwen had tested the collar this morning and she came out fine. To Chiang’s shock, Boca swung the handful of banded scalpels in his direction, making a sound in her throat that was ugly and low as the bundle swiped through the air in front of him.

His step backwards was self-preservation. Chiang didn’t think he’d ever heard a female utter such a sound as she made the same growl a second time. He held up both hands and smiled to show he meant no harm, but his gesture only seemed to incite more wrath.

Boca let fly angry words in a language Chiang didn’t understand, practically spitting the words on both him and Malachi. Then he watched her express greater frustration as she threw the bundle of scalpels on the table behind her and stormed around him muttering to herself as she left.

Chiang calmly observed her stormy exit before looking back at Malachi to see him watching Boca’s exit with equally curious eyes. Score one for the first female who hadn’t fallen for Malachi’s charm, Chiang decided.

“What was she so upset about? Oh, and I’m sorry I thought it was about you. You don’t deserve anyone to jump to that conclusion,” Chiang said, bowing his head to the creature who now stared at him in surprise.

Malachi snorted at the apology. Chiang was the first male in years to apologize to him for anything. The number of compassionate beings on the Liberator was statistically startling for a rescue ship. He wondered if Liam had any idea that he’d hired so many beings with enlightened spirits.

“I certainly wish I was the male who inspired that kind of strong feeling in that female. When Boca Ador decides to give into those repressed needs of her, I envy the male on the receiving end of her surrender to herself,” Malachi said, studying the interested gaze of the Greggor male as it swung to the door again.

Chiang swallowed hard. Every cell in his body was screaming that it had to be him, but he wanted to hear it said by someone other than the voice inside him. “Who is… who is the male Boca is so angry with?”

Malachi shrugged. He was not in the mood to give the Greggor the advantage, but he felt compelled to help Boca. It was a perplexing conflict because he could not do one without the other. He knew Ania would find nothing but humor in his quandary.

“Boca’s anger is at herself. The male who helps her will be the one who makes her forget the other two pathetic males she mated who never appreciated that Sumerian female for herself. As much as I loathe myself for doing so, I advise you to refrain from other females, Chiang of Greggor, if you aspire to be the male she eventually turns to. That particular Sumerian female is hypersensitive to energy. Sensing any other female on you will just make her take longer to admit her own desires. It will happen more quickly if she knows you are physically suffering too.”

Chiang nodded. “I do not know what I feel for her, but I cannot stop myself from wanting to make sure she is safe. I cannot stop from wanting to end her suffering in any way I can. She owns all my compassion at the moment. It is not within my power to refuse her.”

“Young creatures are such idealistic cowards,” Malachi said scathingly, rolling his eyes as he slid off the stool. “I don’t care if Boca Ador is the female of your every dream. If I can talk her into my bed, I’m going to because I am not a self-sacrificing being. You may be the natural bonding choice for her, but she is rejecting her own response to you. I am willing to answer her basic needs whether she is mated or not. So be warned, Chiang of Greggor.”

“I acknowledge your claim to compete for her favor but cannot allow it to go unchallenged when I want her for myself,” Chiang said, glancing once more at the bundle of scalpels tossed on the table.

Was he really challenging a demon for an angry, damaged female? A female who had threatened him with a bundle of sharp medical instruments? There were now a sufficient number of females on the Liberator, and most of them were interested in him. Had he lost his mind?

“So can I join you for the evening meal tonight to see which of us she responds to best?” Chiang asked, unsure why the words of challenge just popped out on their own.

Malachi looked a bit shocked, then grinned and shrugged. It was customary to openly compete for a female in most cultures. It should be fun to compete with the Greggor. “Certainly. I welcome competition, but you should know that I always win.”

Rather than disputing Malachi’s statement, Chiang preferred to trust his intuition that kept showing him imagine after image of Boca in his arms. Smiling, he merely bowed his head to Malachi and then headed back the way he came.

Malachi picked up the banded implements and placed them carefully back into the container. Knowing how seriously Boca Ador had meant her threat to cut off his nose had only made him far more interested in her. And at the moment, he was the only creature on the Liberator who knew who and what she really was.

When the peace-loving Greggor found out, it would probably put an end to whatever bonding attraction he felt for her. Until then, it would be quite fun to watch Chiang discover it for himself.

Chapter 5


Gwen studied her reflection in the mirror. The outfit was exactly as she’d seen in her vision, except she had added some discreet weapons that a scanner wouldn’t find tucked into the waistband and lining of the bottom.

And she had shoes on her feet, which were staying on if she had any say in the matter. She realized a lack of shoes would make it harder for a slave to run away, but Ania was just going to have to come up with a good cover story for why Gwen had hers because she was not giving them up. She had sensitive feet and didn’t want to be thinking about them hurting during the rescue.

Hearing the knock at the door, she checked her appearance one last time before answering it.

Chiang grinned at her skimpy outfit, raising the collar in one hand to explain why he was there. “It’s ready.”

Gwen stepped out of the room and closed the door behind her. “Walk with me. I’m running behind. I took too long hiding weapons. There weren’t all that many places to put them. Hell, even hygiene straps would have given me more locations.”

Though only a few inches shorter than Gwen, Chiang chuckled and lengthened his stride to keep up with her impatient pace as they headed into an elevator that would take them to the shuttle dock.

“You know I was thinking about your lack-of-places-to-hide-weapons dilemma. You’re going to appreciate the decorative studs in the slave collar. Three of them are explosive. Those are the ones that roll when you touch them. You should be able to flick them out with a fingernail. Oh, and don’t worry, the vibrations of the collar won’t set them off. You have to actually throw them very hard and make sure they hit and bounce a couple times. One of the impacts should explode them. I had the bursar help me dissemble a Treton for parts.”

“So a ship’s bursar and an engineer made an explosive device out of something that I won’t be able to get off my neck until I get back here? I don’t suppose you two worried about it blowing my head off,” Gwen commented, trying not to over-react to Chiang’s wicked laughter.

“Not really,” Chiang said with grin. “I was more concerned with helping you save your cute ass if it comes down to that kind of fight.”

Gwen laughed. “Can’t argue with that,” she said. “I like my ass.”

Chiang laughed back as they turned left out of the elevator and headed to a shuttle where a cloaked Ania and a disgruntled looking Synar stood whispering fiercely to each other.

“Synar insists on dropping us off because he fears an unattended shuttle on such a heavily populated planet would be cannibalized for parts no matter where we tried to hide it,” Ania said without preamble. “So we’re going to have to call for a ride home later even though you are quite adept at flying yourself.”

Gwen nodded. She saw the wisdom of Synar’s plan to deposit them since he was the most skilled and stealthy pilot among the Liberator’s crew, so she had no argument against his plan. What concerned Gwen more was who was going to run the ship while the two of them were gone. There were no officers left to be in charge.

“Who’s going to mind the Liberator?” she asked, looking at Synar. “You need—” The words never made it off her tongue. Gwen had never heard Synar make that kind of growling sound before.

“Cease telling me we need another Lieutenant.
I already know
,” Synar bit off, pulling off the portable bridge com from his wrist.

Spying the best target he could find at the moment, he walked a few short steps to glare at the startled male who saw what was coming too late to run away.

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