Maon: Marshal of Tallav #2
Publisher: Loose Id
Pub date: Dec. 6, 2016
Science fiction erotic romance
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Maon Keefe has always been told he’s doomed to fail as a husband. He decides never to marry instead focusing on living life as a player and becoming a capable marshal of Tallav. When he is shot and the most-wanted criminal he’s escorting escapes, he fears that his career, his one success in life, is doomed. Assigned to ferret out the cause of missing shipments for a VIP aristocrat, he meets Selina Shirley CEO of the House of Shirley. He finds himself inexplicably attracted to her despite her frumpy appearance. When he meets a hooded and masked, scorching hot Domme, Lasair, at his friend’s BDSM club, he’s torn between the two women. Both fire his imagination and call to his submissive nature. Either might be the woman to change him into successful husband material.
Selina Shirley organizes her life like she organizes her business, taking control of all aspects of each. She’s concluded that she must marry to get an heir and that her future husband must be totally submissive. Mentored by the sector’s most famous sadist, she learns what it takes to be a proper Domme. Then, hidden behind a hood and mask, as Lasair, she meets Maon and her instant attraction to his full submission at the BDSM club leads her to break her own rules and become involved with him. But he’s also the marshal assigned to investigate thefts at her company. When his broad streak of protective alpha male comes into play, it obvious he’s not a 24/7 submissive. To stick to her plan to marry the perfect husband, she must ignore her heart and dump Maon.
Space travel held no appeal for Selina. The CEO of the sector’s leading fashion house, she’d accepted it as the necessity it was, but she’d be glad to get her feet on solid ground again. Her nose alone told her she wasn’t there yet. The air filtration system on the Beta Tau station did a better job than most at removing the metallic tang of C-trol, the fuel ships ran on in hyperspace that permeated all space stations. A harsh aftertaste still clung in silvered wisps to the more mundane odors of fried foods and roasting meats that tempted travelers to part with credits before heading down world or returning to space. No, she wasn’t there yet.
The strap of the portfolio slung over her shoulder slipped. A nudge and it was back in place. A trio of vacationers passed her, their excitement palpable in the pitch and volume of their voices. They hadn’t noticed Selina, but who would? Hidden inside the drab, shapeless dress that constituted her armor against amorous attentions, she was perfectly content to be overlooked. No one would credit the truth. She was on her way to the Whip Hand to meet the owner and notorious sadist Randolph Meryon. The drawings she carried in her portfolio were the first installment of a trade she’d made. He would become her mentor while she explored sexual domination, and she would design exclusive apparel for his staff.
The underlying frisson of unease that always attended her in space was sliding up and down her spine. But the churning in her stomach, while she walked along the companionway from the private ship docks, wasn’t caused by her fear of space. Her father’s death over a year ago had cemented a number of things in her mind. One was the need to acquire a husband. Knowledge that she was on the marriage market would set in motion the machinations of the aristocratic mamas of Tallav—some because of her wealth and others for the connection. She wrinkled her nose. Not going that route.
Her Domme lessons with Randolph were the initial step in a concise plan to find her perfect husband. Emphasis on her. Implementing that plan was the root of her anxiety, akin to the strain of her first business negotiation for the House of Shirley.
A couple, the woman tipping along in platform heels, were cuddling and cooing while they walked toward Selina. She averted her face, seeing but not really taking in the concourse bar she was approaching. Then her gaze met a stranger’s, and for an interminable moment, his eyes ensnared hers. She blinked, and the spell was broken. His lips moved in a smirk while he continued to stare at her.
When she yanked her head away, the oversize art case slipped down her arm, the strap tangling in her long dark hair. Rather than stop to fix the problem, she kept walking while struggling to release the strands that were pulling painfully on her scalp. Portfolio back in position, she sped up.
That man was the exact opposite of her ideal mate, although he was Tallavan. The string tie he wore made his Tallavan citizenship a possibility, but the badge clipped to his belt settled it. He was a Tallavan marshal. Despite his tousled sandy-brown locks that were made to comb through and pull, he wouldn’t make the cut on her very exacting list of requirements. Even before he’d smirked at her, it was apparent he was a player. He’d been sitting still on a bar stool, but swagger oozed from his pores. His navy-blue eyes were full of a boldness that reached out to her and offered her more fun than she could imagine.
What the heck are you thinking, Selina? He’s a snack and nothing more.
For her steady diet, she needed something less attractive, less powerful, and much more malleable. Truly malleable, not just a man who played the role to catch a Tallavan aristocrat and then left their children to nannies and tutors to raise while they flitted from event to event gambling and whoring.
The deal with Randolph couldn’t have come at a better time. With his mentoring, she’d learn to recognize a submissive personality along with discovering where her preference for control would lead in the bedroom. Today was her first session. They’d had several long discussions via comm, focusing on the types of play she was interested in. Sensation play had been at the top of her to-do list. She wasn’t attracted to bondage or the delivery of pain except where it enhanced the upward spiral of sexual need. Randolph had convinced her that a whip in clever hands was the perfect tool to heighten arousal.
She’d find out tonight. He required all dominants he mentored to assume the submissive role initially. To understand what you were dishing out, you had to experience it. The thought of his whip was adding its own provocation to her case of nerves. Allowing someone to use a whip on her wasn’t her idea of pleasure. He’d said the effective use of a whip was more mental than physical. She could attest to that. Her mind was on full dread overload.
Steady on. You’ve input your destination. Now grab hold of the hyperstrand and don’t let go.
Gods, she was exhorting herself with space metaphors. Maybe that was appropriate. She sure had her emotional teeth gritted like she did every time she stepped on a shuttle to head into space.
The shuttle docks were on the bottom level of the space station. Once she exited the lift and passed through entry control, she palmed the pass she’d been given. Berth 21 was to her left. Departure was close, so she hurried to the entry port. A quick scan showed three empty spots, all in the rear of the transport. With a nod to the passenger seated in the window seat, she slid into the aisle seat across from the other two vacant places. After receiving the assent of the gentleman next to her, she handed him her portfolio to slide against the shuttle wall. It fit below the large view window. Most travelers looked forward to the spectacular sight of Beta Tau while spiraling around the planet toward the spaceport. Funny how from such a great height the shifting reds, pinks, browns, and oranges of the desert planet’s sands were awe inspiring, while down planet they were a nuisance to overcome.
A quick mental check of shuttle departures on her Electronic Biological CoServer showed the shuttle should start disconnecting from dock in about a minute. Where were the last two passengers? She leaned out of her seat to try to see the entry port. Good. Someone else was making their way on board. She settled back, and as did every other passenger who was ready to get going, she watched the pair of men amble down the aisle. The man in the lead was tall and dark. And oh sweet petunias, he was a Tallavan marshal. When they drew closer, a second marshal appeared, and a cocky half smile flashed when his gaze met hers. Again. The playboy. Selina dropped her gaze to her lap and tried to ignore the banter between the men while they settled into the two seats across the narrow aisle from hers.
“Take the window,” the darker headed of the two said.
“Sure.” The playboy slid past the other marshal to sit in the window seat. “Are we going straight to the club?”
“No. You eager for Randolph’s challenge?”
“Eager to collect the prize.”
Selina resisted the urge to stare across the aisle. Had she really heard the name Randolph?
“I don’t think I’ll ever get why you accept his challenges.”
The playboy responded, “That isn’t dropping the subject, but I’ll answer you. Why does Ray Nox climb the mountains on Tallav’s moon? Because they, in all their airless, soaring height, are there, a challenge to conquer. Randolph challenges, and I conquer.”
“I still don’t get it. But I don’t get Ray Nox either.”
“And you never will,” said the playboy. “Just as I’ll never get why you spend so much time tying women up in intricate rope creations.”
Selina straightened in her seat, realizing she’d been leaning toward the pair. They couldn’t be going to the Whip Hand. Could they? Clubs abounded on Beta Tau, but then they’d mentioned the name Randolph.
The tall, dark marshal grunted. “Randolph said if I can work out my Ball of Beauties, he might use it as the Whip Hand’s ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Put up Earth’s ball drop on live vid and drop our own at the same time.”
“You should think of another name. Ball of Beauties sounds dumb.”
“Yeah. I’ll work on that. But can you imagine crystal-studded harnesses and lights…”
The playboy laughed. “I can see you’re getting transported to your happy place. So why not go straight to the club?”
“I brought special equipment in my baggage. We’ll have to stop at the hotel first and wait for it to be delivered. You can spend the time checking out the staff.”
Selina turned her head to look out the shuttle window, one finger tapping on her leg. Damn. Just what she didn’t need. Tallavan aristocrats catching sight of her at the Whip Hand. The gossip would rabbit through the upper echelons of society, contradicting the asexual persona she presented to the world. The men had said they weren’t going straight to the club like she was. If they were meeting Randolph, it would be after her appointment with him. She ought to be gone before they arrived. Randolph would help. He knew her preference for absolute privacy. Besides, she’d be masked. Stepping outside her comfort zone was giving her a case of the jitters. She took a deep breath and released it. You’re Selina Shirley. You can handle anything.
* * * *
Maon fiddled with the glass in his hand. From his perch at the end of the space-station bar where he sat waiting for Shane to meet him, he could observe everyone entering the companionway from the private ship docks on this side of the station. The usual eye candy passed him, rushing to explore as much as they could of the pleasures that awaited them on Beta Tau. Shane was due in on the Adrasteia. Maon didn’t envy Shane much, but the Adrasteia was one sweet little craft.
“Refill?” asked the bartender.
“Yeah. But no alcohol. Something fruity.”
When the bartender returned with his drink, Maon noticed a Tallavan woman heading his way. He should know her name, but it wasn’t coming to him. Definitely a prude. Wearing some misshapen, baggy sack of a dress. Nice legs, but they’d look better in heels rather than the flats she wore. Shirley. That’s who she was. He’d heard something about her taking over her mother’s fashion house. Fuck’s sake. If that was her sense of style, they’d be out of business soon.
He eyed her when she passed him, and their gazes met for a moment. He acknowledged her with a smirk. The portfolio she carried slipped, and she struggled to keep it from falling, her long sable hair snagging in the strap. Her head remained down while she swept from view. Maon chuckled.
“Are you harassing passersby again?”
“Shane!” Maon stood and grasped his friend’s outstretched hand. “I can’t help being devastatingly good-looking. The bane of my existence. Females dropping at my feet.”
“Some bane. You up for fun?” Shane focused on the people walking past the open bar. “Randolph told me he’s got the subs I need and plans for you. You’re not gonna let him stretch your balls again?” He centered his bright blue gaze on Maon, one eyebrow arched.
Maon grinned. “He tries. Never wins. I have balls of steel.”
“Brains of mush.”
“You’re jealous.” Maon winked at a pretty girl passing by, letting his tousled good looks and crooked smile work their magic. One thing Beta Tau had in abundance—women, all shapes and sizes ready to have fun. And he was here to make their dreams come true.
Shane glanced at Maon and looked away in disdain. “What? Jealous! You get one girl as a prize. I’ve already got eight waiting on me.”
“What do you do with them? Tie ’em up.” Maon shook his head and paid the bartender. Both men headed toward the lift to take them to the shuttle docks. Shane seemed, as usual, oblivious to the undisguised interest the two handsome Tallavan marshals received while they strode down the companionway. Maon noticed, enjoying the attention, a slight exaggeration to his swagger while he winked and appreciated the varied reactions to his flirting. Yes, this trip was what he needed after a long stint of ferrying prisoners around the sector.
Having the owner of the top kink club on Beta Tau as one of your best friends was a definite benefit. The twins Randolph had offered as prizes on Maon’s last vacation had fueled his fantasy life for months, fantasies Maon had amped up by adding in a hot Domme to put the girls through their paces. Randolph never set him up with a Domme. The prizes for winning Randolph’s challenges were always subs. Not that many Dommes were willing to offer a session as a prize. Randolph said he’d never found the right one for Maon. Maybe this time.
Maon’s one slim thread of hope for a long-term relationship was to find a Domme who could accept him as the switch he was and keep his cock in line. He didn’t know which was harder, but combined, his requirements made that thread whisper thin. Which was why he’d stopped worrying about it. If you can’t have apple cobbler, eat the peach pie. He was dedicated to peach pie.
Shane interrupted Maon’s reverie. “You don’t have to accept Randolph’s challenges. They’re only going to get worse. He’s a sadist. He likes rigging you up and seeing you suffer. One of you has to say it’s time to stop.”
Maon pressed his lips together. “That won’t be me. He knows I won’t step back, so he’ll have to be the one to call it quits. Talk to him. Not me.”
“Fuck it. You—”
“No. He hasn’t done me permanent damage, and he won’t. Drop it. We’re here to have fun, not fight.”
Shane sighed, nodding. “I am going to talk to him.”
“Good luck with that.”
Both men showed their badges to bypass the entry control line and obtain shuttle passes. The attendant directed them to the last two open seats at the back of the shuttle. It wasn’t until Maon neared the last row that he noticed the Tallavan frump he’d spotted from the bar. Up close she was quite pretty. Why the hell was she hiding in those awful clothes? He winked and flashed his panty-melting half smile and waited for her reaction. She focused her gaze on her lap, pretending to ignore him, but Maon could tell she was affected because of the muscle that twitched in her jaw. He annoyed her. Time to stop, then. He didn’t like making women angry. He slid into the window seat and dropped her from his mind.
Copyright © December 2016 by Cailin Briste
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