Rena and the Alien Warrior by Jessica Coulter Smith

Rena and the Alien Warrior (Intergalactic Brides Book 16) by Jessica Coulter Smith

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Rena and the Alien Warrior (Intergalactic Brides Book 16) by Jessica Coulter Smith

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Who could ever fall in love with a woman as badly damaged as she is? Even the purple alien called Ryx doesn't seem all that interested.

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Chapter One

Rena’s owner sneered at her, his lips twisting as annoyance flashed in his eyes. She stared at the broken pieces of glass at her feet, the brightly colored shards scattered across the floor, wondering what her punishment would be this time. Frih had never been interested in her sexually, for which she was grateful, but he amused himself in other ways. Painful and sometimes degrading ways. Rena had learned quickly that as a slave, her opinion didn’t matter, her thoughts didn’t matter, because she didn’t matter. She told herself that anything was preferable to sharing Frih’s bed, and she was damn glad she wasn’t part of the harem he kept for his guests. She’d seen too many slimy, tentacled things, and some that looked like they were covered in spikes. Frih himself was rather appalling in appearance, and her skin crawled whenever he touched her.

“That was going to be a gift for an important visitor,” Frih said. His lips pressed together, and his nostrils flared as he stared at her. Annoyance rolled off him in waves, and she knew that didn’t bode well for her. Angering Frih always resulted in pain for Rena.

She bowed her head and tried to make herself even smaller, her arms wrapping around her waist. She knew apologizing wouldn’t do any good. Making any sort of noise only made things worse. The whip he kept at his side lashed out and caught her across her arm. Rena winced, a pink welt forming on her tender skin, but she didn’t utter a sound. It would take a lot more than that to make her cry out.

“Come here,” he demanded, pointing to the ground in front of him.

She stared at the glass at her feet and swallowed hard. The only way to reach Frih was to go through it, and if she didn’t hurry, then her punishment would be even worse. She whimpered the first few steps, the bits digging into her feet. Rena walked toward Frih, leaving bloody footprints in her wake.

“Remove your clothes,” he said.

Rena trembled as she slipped the sleeveless tunic over her head and then eased off the leggings she’d worn under it. It wasn’t the first time he’d made her undress in the common room, and she doubted it would be the last. She could feel the males staring at her, their lustful gazes taking her in, but tried to block everything out. She’d seen their lewd gestures often enough to know they wanted her and loved it when Frih humiliated her this way. Using the whip, Frih reached out and stroked her breasts and belly. The leather unfurled, and he lashed both of her thighs, leaving raised pink welts behind. He hadn’t drawn blood yet, which meant he was toying with her. Or had something much worse planned, like the time he’d strapped her to a table naked and let his males touch her as they fondled themselves. She shivered in revulsion just thinking about it.

She watched as his arm drew back over his head and braced herself. As painful as it was when he beat her, it was preferable to anything else he could come up with. The whip came down, his arm arcing, and Rena slammed her eyes closed. When she didn’t feel the lash bite into her skin, she peered at Frih and her jaw nearly dropped. A large male, broader and stronger than the males present, had the whip wrapped around his fist. His skin was a beautiful light shade of purple, and his inky black hair hung long down his back. She’d seen him before, when he’d visited Frih, but had never interacted with him. She knew nothing of where he came from, or who he was, other than he did business of some sort with her owner.

“Ryx,” Frih said, a slimy smile spreading across his lips. He instantly went into what Rena thought of as ass-kissing mode, something he did frequently with those who bought expensive things from him. “I’m glad to see you made it.”

“What’s the meaning of this?” the alien he’d called Ryx demanded.

“Clumsy girl broke the gift I had for you. It was a one of a kind urn from Moriare, something pretty for your home. I was just about to punish her.”

Ryx looked from her to the men gathered around the room before returning that gaze to Frih. “You made her strip in front of all these males.”

Frih shrugged. “She’s just a slave. A stupid human. They’re so primitive and only good for whatever amusement I can get out of them.”

She never understood why Frih always called her a human. She wasn’t, but correcting him would prove painful. If he wanted to believe that she was the same as the other slaves who looked similar to her, then she’d let him.

Rage burned in Ryx’s eyes as he turned to look at her. “Are you all right?”

Rena nodded, but the look on Frih’s face made her blood freeze in her veins. It was calculating, and she knew whatever was about to come out of his mouth would be pure evil. She wished it had been her ears he’d damaged and not her voice.

“Since she ruined your present, I think she should make it up to you,” Frih said. “You may have the use of her body during your stay. Yours to do with as you please. Anything you please, as long you don’t kill her. You can mark her if you wish, anywhere you’d like, as long as she’s still breathing when you’re finished. Fuck every which way possible, get her nice and broken in.”

Rena felt the blood drain from her face, and she swayed on her feet and a coldness seeped through her. What did he mean by “anything,” as long as the male didn’t kill her? She’d thought things had been bad before, but were they about to get much, much worse? The pain she could deal with, most of the time, but becoming a sex slave was completely abhorrent to her. They may have touched her before, they’d never penetrated her, and she’d hoped that would never happen.

“When I purchased her, my healers informed me that she’s a virgin,” Frih said. “I haven’t fucked her, and neither have any of my guests. I was saving her for a special occasion, but she’s yours. Break her in well, and I’ll add her to my harem when you’re finished. My men have been anxious to have a turn with her.”

Rena felt her stomach roll and bile rose in her throat. She’d foolishly thought she was safe from that fate, and if Ryx hadn’t interfered in her punishment, perhaps she could have avoided the harem a while longer. The purple alien jerked the whip from Frih’s hand and turned to give her his full attention. His gaze scanned her from head to toe before resting on her face again. If he found her body tempting, it didn’t show. She didn’t see lust in his gaze, like she did with the others around Frih’s place, nor was there a bulge in his pants. But if he refused Frih’s offer, Rena didn’t know what would happen to her. Would Frih decide to break her in himself? Or would he toss her to his men and let them do it?

“Are the scars your work?” Ryx asked Frih.

Rena’s hands twitched, but she knew better than to try covering her body. Not that her two small hands would hide all the scars covering her from her face all the way to her lower legs. She’d been punished often since coming to stay with Frih, but not all the scars were his handiwork. Some were given to her before coming here.

“She’s most disobedient,” Frih said. “I’ve found she responds best to a firm hand. You may keep the whip if you’d like. You might need it.”

“Why are her feet bleeding?” Ryx asked.

Frih shrugged. Rena wanted to tell the purple alien what had happened, but she never spoke unless she absolutely had to. Not since Frih had damaged her vocal cords. The first time she’d been punished, she’d screamed so loud and long that he’d ordered the healers to fix the problem. They’d knocked her out and when she’d woken, she’d felt the incision along her throat and her voice had barely come out as a whisper. She’d thought it was temporary, just her throat healing from whatever had been done, but now there was a scar there, and she still couldn’t talk above a whisper.

Ryx came closer still, reaching out to run his fingers over the scars on her cheeks. She flinched, her eyes shutting, but he didn’t hurt her. His touch was light and gentle, unlike anything she’d experienced since becoming a slave. Her eyes slowly opened, and the kindness in his pansy-colored gaze nearly made her cry. It had been so long since someone looked at her like that, since they’d touched her with anything but malice and ill intentions. Rena decided if Frih was going to place her in the harem, that she was glad this alien would be her first. Perhaps that gentle touch would extend to the bedroom, and he wouldn’t damage her too badly. But then, she’d learned not to be deceived. Those who spoke softly were often the ones who hurt her the worst.

“What’s your name?” Ryx asked.

She opened and shut her mouth, wanting to answer and yet not wanting to speak. She’d learned the hard way that making noise meant bad things happened. Just because this alien seemed kinder than the others, didn’t mean he was actually nice. She’d learned that, if nothing else, since her abduction.

“Does it matter?” Frih asked. “Are you taking her or not? If you don’t want her, I’ll break her in myself. She’s not quite to my taste, but I’m sure I could rise to the occasion.”

A shiver raked over Rena. That’s exactly what she’d feared. Frih was slightly reptilian, with rough skin, and a forked tongue. The humans he’d taken to his bed had screamed so loud that the sound had echoed throughout his large home. Rena didn’t know if the screams were from beatings, or because he enjoyed pain during sex too. Then again, she’d never seen him naked. Maybe he didn’t have the right parts for having sex with the females he kept. What if they were grossly misshapen or had spikes or something? Just the thought made her want to run away.

Ryx narrowed his eyes and glared at Frih over his shoulder.

Her owner shrugged and gave an evil grin. “She won’t scream, but she might struggle a bit. I have restraints in my room. It’s kind of nice when they’re strapped down and can’t fight back. They just have to lie there and take it.”

The purple alien’s cheeks flushed, and rage came off him in waves. If her owner were smart, he’d be afraid right now, but Frih didn’t seem to notice. Rena took a step back and whimpered as a piece of glass embedded deeper into her foot, then bit her lip to keep from making further noise. Ryx turned back toward her, that gentle touch back on her face as his fingers skimmed across her cheek.

He studied her, as if trying to make a big decision. She’d always thought men would jump at the chance to have sex, and she’d heard that virgins always sold for a high price. With her scars, she knew she wasn’t all that pretty anymore. Maybe he just didn’t find her attractive. If he didn’t want her, then she knew her nightmare was just beginning. Although, perhaps one night of kindness was actually worse, because then she’d know what she was missing once Frih added her to the harem.

“I’ll accept her as a gift. On one condition,” Ryx said.

“Anything you wish,” Frih said. “You’re one of my best customers, and you’ve been a great help to me in the past. I want you to be happy while you’re here.”

“Instead of giving her to me for a night, I want her permanently. You will sever your ownership of her and give her to me completely.” Ryx narrowed his eyes. “And I want the papers to prove she’s no longer yours.”

Frih’s eyes popped wide, but it didn’t take him long to agree. “She’s yours. Do with her as you please.”

Ryx nodded. “Did you put me in my usual room?”

“Yes. The blue suite is set up for you. I had planned to offer my harem to you, but since you have your own slave now I guess that won’t be necessary. Unless you desire more than one female?”

“One is enough,” Ryx said. “Send her belongings to my quarters, and then make sure we aren’t disturbed. Leave a tray outside the door at mealtime.”

Frih agreed eagerly agreed and snapped his fingers at a nearby slave.

When Ryx turned toward Rena again, she couldn’t decipher the look in his eyes. Slowly, he eased his arms around her back and under her knees, then lifted Rena against his chest. He cradled her carefully, as if afraid he might hurt her, and then began striding out of the room. She hoped she hadn’t just traded one monster for another, but she didn’t see evil lurking in the purple alien. Maybe things would be better for a while. At least, until he tired of her. Maybe a short reprieve was better than none. Someone like him would never keep a scarred woman like her, not when he likely had his choice of females. The only value she’d had to aliens was her virginity, and that was about to be taken. She’d be deemed useless after that, except to be added to personal harems or sold to a brothel. She knew once that happened, she wouldn’t live for much longer. Being used by many, and often, tended to wear on the slaves. She’d watched as they first gave up hope, then gave up on life in general.

They entered the blue room, and he eased her down onto a chair, then knelt in front of her, inspecting one foot, then the other. He lightly touched the raised welts on her thighs and arm, then Ryx stormed across the room and pressed the Comm button on the wall, demanding a healer be sent to his quarters. Anger rolled off him in waves as he returned to Rena. She didn’t know what to expect from the male, but the unknown no longer made her nervous. Not as much as it used to. She’d been a slave for years, or so she thought… Time was different as a slave. She knew her body had changed, had become more adult, so years had to have passed. She’d been through several owners during that time. There would likely be at least one more in her future, if she survived her current master. It wasn’t uncommon for slaves to die while they were still young, especially the females.

“What’s your name?” Ryx asked.

“Rena,” she said in her soft whisper of a voice. Not that she had any other way of speaking anymore.

“I’m not going to harm you, Rena. You have my word. As you’ve heard, my name is Ryx. I’m the commander of a ship, and a warrior for my people.”

“Who are your people?” she asked, wondering if questions were permitted. Some owners didn’t mind them, and others thought her insolent for speaking out of turn.

“Zelthranites, but humans know us as Terrans. Women are scarce on my world.”

She blanched. Was she going to be used by many? Would he take her to his world and put her in some sort of brothel? He’d seemed kind, but what if she was wrong? She’d thought maybe she had a little more time before something like that happened to her. It was a fate she’d dreaded for so long.

“Easy,” he crooned, reaching out to stroke her cheek. “Remember, I promised no harm would come to you. What did I say that scared you?”

“I’ll be put in a brothel?” she asked. “To serve everyone?”

He cursed. “No, Rena. I’m sorry if I gave that impression. When I said that women are scarce on my world, I meant that you will have the chance to find a mate, someone who will care for you.”

“Mate?” Animals mated. And she vaguely remembered her father saying he needed a mate. Was it possible that her people were similar to Ryx’s? While they’re coloring was vastly different, he did have the same type of features as the people from her world. The males on her planet were a golden color, while most of the females were so pale they were nearly a brilliant white. She wasn’t quite that pale, but she was nowhere near as golden as her father either.

“I promise that whoever claims you will take excellent care of you. Females are precious to my people. It’s why we started the Bride program on Earth.”

Earth. That sounded vaguely familiar to her, but why would she know anything of a place called Earth? And why did he mention that planet to her? That wasn’t where she was from, and she didn’t recall any of her alien owners being from there. Flashes of green trees and small homes filled her mind, along with a smiling blonde woman who called her… something. Something just out of reach. She shook her head, the images faded quickly. That had never happened before and she didn’t know if it was a trick of her mind, or something more.

“Rena, how long have you been a slave?” he asked, his brow furrowed.

“I don’t know,” she answered honestly. “I was fifteen when I was taken from home.”

Home. There was something about that word. Ryx almost made it sound like she was from Earth, but she wasn’t. Had never been there. Had she? Did her people look so similar to the aliens from that world? She knew there were people here under Frih’s control called humans, and that many slavers charged high prices for them. Were the humans from the place called Earth?

“Something’s bothering you,” he said. “Is it thoughts of Earth? Your home? Do you wish to return there?”

“Earth isn’t my home,” she said.

He blinked, looking momentarily startled. “Excuse me?”

“Earth. It isn’t my home.” She frowned. “Vaaden is home.”

That sounded right, but it didn’t feel right. But no, she knew she’d grown up on Vaaden. Her father, Kryon, had been an important male. He’d always made time for her, and assured that she had the best of everything. She didn’t remember ever having a mother, but she must have had one at some point. It wasn’t like she hatched out of an egg. The blonde woman flashed in her mind again, and she wondered if that had been her mother? But the world had looked nothing like Vaaden.

“Vaaden,” Ryx said, rising to his feet. “Rena… you’re a human. The only way Vaaden could be your home is if you were part of the harems there, a slave abducted from Earth and bound in sexual servitude. And since you’re a virgin, that obviously isn’t the case.”

Panic welled inside her. Why was he saying such things? She wasn’t from Earth. Her home was Vaaden. Her father was Kryon. She knew this with a certainty, and yet… there was almost something just out of reach, memories that teased her of a planet that looked nothing like the place she’d called home. Why was this happening now? Never in her life had she had memories of another world, of the blonde woman. All she’d ever known was Vaaden and Kryon.

“Rena,” Ryx said, his voice low and soothing. “If Vaaden is your home, who are your parents?”

“Kryon is my father. I don’t have a mother.” But why didn’t she have a mother? There were too many gaps in Rena’s memory. Had her time in slavery affected her memory more than she realized?

The door chimed, and Ryx went to answer it. The healer entered the room and handed him a piece of paper. Rena had never been allowed to see the healer for an injury before, but she shouldn’t have been surprised this one was a male. Frih had no use for females unless it involved sex or pain. A healer had checked her when she’d been purchased, and had destroyed her voice, but she hadn’t been conscious either time.

“Her feet are a mess, and she has a few welts,” Ryx said. “I’m not sure if there’s other damage.”

“She’s but a slave,” the healer said, his tone derisive, as if it were beneath him to treat her. “You wish me to heal her?”

“She’s a small female,” Ryx said, glaring at the male. “Fix her.”

The healer nodded and came forward, looking resigned. He knelt at Rena’s feet and examined one, then the other, his touch rough and careless. She knew that she didn’t matter, but on Vaaden healers were kind. Setting down a bag, he reached inside and pulled out some sort of metal instrument, then began plucking glass from her feet. When he was finished, he rubbed a salve on them, then placed a hand on each injured foot and began to chant. Rena’s eyes went wide as the healer’s hands began to glow a bright green, and she could have sworn she felt the skin knitting back together. That wasn’t possible, though, was it? Rena had visited the healer on Vaaden, but the doctor there used technology to heal. This male seemed to be using some sort of magic. The healer released her feet, then wiped the remaining cream from her soles, before placing his hands over her welts. After some more glowing, those no longer hurt either. He gathered his belongings and left without another word. It was possibly the strangest experience Rena had ever had. Until now, she’d thought magic was just a myth, but now she wondered.

She picked up one foot, then the other, astounded that they were completely healed, as if she’d never walked across the broken glass. It was the first time she’d ever seen such a thing, much less experienced it, and it left her a little unsettled. If the male was that powerful, what else could he do? She didn’t think he was the one to remove her voice, or she doubted he would have needed to make an incision. Frih kept several healers around, though, so it had likely been a different one. A more primitive one.

“Rena, I think we need to talk,” Ryx said as he pulled a chair near her and sat. The paper the healer had given him was clutched in Ryx’s hand. “The healer brought your papers to me, where Frih has signed you over into my care. I’m now recorded as your new owner. According to every exam you’ve had since being sold into slavery, you are one hundred percent human, which means Kryon is not your father. Do you remember anything before being on Vaaden?”

“No.” Pure human? What did that mean? If Kryon wasn’t her father, and Vaaden wasn’t her home… had she been abducted from the planet Earth at some point? But that didn’t explain why Kryon would have raised her as his daughter. And he was all that she remembered. If she’d ever come from Earth, those memories were long gone, except for those brief flashes she’d had moments ago.

The confusion was starting to take a toll on her, and Rena’s head began to ache. Her belly cramped as hunger clawed at her. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten, and what little the slaves were given was never enough to make her feel full. Most days, if they were given anything, it was a yucky paste that gave them just enough nutrients to keep them alive, but it tasted horrible and there was very little of it.

“We’ll figure it out,” Ryx said. “For now, I’m going to get you something to wear and order some food for us. I requested your things, but do you have belongings here? It’s obvious Frih doesn’t treat his slaves well. I’m starting to wonder if he provides anything for you.”

“A few outfits. Shoes aren’t permitted as we never leave Frih’s home.”

He nodded. “You’ll need some boots or something before I take you on board my ship. I’ll see what I can do. While I organize everything, why don’t you lie down? You look exhausted.”

She glanced toward the bed, and her cheeks flushed. Was he going to share it with her? He’d said he was taking her to his world, to be a mate to someone, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t take advantage of having a warm body in his bed before then. If females were scarce on their world, it was doubtful anyone would expect her to remain a virgin before being claimed. Ryx owned her and could do whatever he wished with her.

“Sleep, Rena,” he said. “Nothing is going to happen between us. Not at any point tonight will I reach for you in a sexual way. You have my word.”

She nodded and moved across the room, sliding under the covers. The bed was far softer than anything she’d felt since being sold into slavery. She sighed and her eyes slowly closed, but sleep wouldn’t come for her. Instead, she listened as Ryx moved around the room and spoke softly to people through the Comm. The door opened several times, and the scent of food teased her nose. She moaned and turned her head to look at the table in the corner, now covered in dishes that smelled better than anything she’d eaten in a long time.

“If you aren’t going to sleep, you might as well eat,” Ryx said. “Come join me.”

She slid out of bed, but he held up a hand before she could get any closer.

“There’s a tunic and leggings on the trunk at the foot of the bed. Put them on before you come over here. There’s no need for you to be naked. Frih may have exposed you to everyone, but I’d prefer if you were clothed. I’ve put the rest of your items away and have a pair of boots for when we leave this place. You don’t have much so we’ll have to pick up more things for you at one of the space stations along the way.”

“Thank you,” Rena said as she pulled her clothes on.

Once she was dressed, she joined Ryx at the table. She was so hungry her hands shook as she accepted a plate from him. He’d filled it with a bright pink-colored meat, a variety of fruits, some yellow cheese, and some sort of flat bread that was a bright orange color. It was the most colorful array of food she’d ever seen. Rena fought to eat slowly and not stuff her mouth with huge handfuls of food, but she didn’t want to make herself sick. She ate until her belly was full, then she downed a cup of something sweet and bubbly that Ryx handed to her.

“We’ll get some sleep tonight, then in the morning I’ll conclude my business with Frih, and we’ll be on our way,” Ryx said.

“What sort of business do you have?” she asked. Rena winced once the words left her mouth. A slave wasn’t supposed to question her owner. She’d learned that lesson the hard way. Actually, she’d learned a lot of lessons the hard way.

“Frih procures hard to get weapons for me from time to time. I’m picking up the latest shipment, which will then be dispersed amongst the warriors on my world. All legally paid for, in case you were wondering. My people aren’t pirates. We’re hardworking, and honest, which is something a lot of races can’t claim.”

She nodded.

“I’ve noticed you never speak above a whisper. Is it because you’re afraid of me, or because you can’t?” he asked.

“Can’t.”

“Does it have to do with the scar across your throat?”

“Yes,” she said. “I woke up one day and couldn’t talk louder than this. I think they damaged my vocal cords because I screamed too much the first time Frih hurt me. My previous owners seemed to like it when I screamed and cried.”

“He did this to you?” Ryx asked, his face darkening with anger.

“Yes.”

“And all the scars on your body? Some look like burns.”

“Some are from him. Some aren’t,” she answered.

“Your slave papers include a list of all your previous owners. It seems Frih is very thorough with all his purchases. You were removed from Vaaden nearly six years ago, but… you weren’t abducted. Remember that I mentioned you were sold into slavery?”

Her brow furrowed. “But I remember someone snatching me from my bed in the middle of the night. I called for help, but my father didn’t hear me.”

“You were sold to slavers by a woman. Does the name Heria mean anything to you? The papers say she was from Vaaden.”

A tall, thin, blonde woman flashed in her mind. Ice-cold eyes, and a heart to match. She’d wanted Rena’s father, that much she remembered, and she’d loathed Rena. She never understood why, as Rena was no threat to her. It was her attitude toward Rena that had kept Kryon from accepting the woman as a mate. He’d doted on Rena and didn’t like anyone who treated her poorly.

“I can see by your expression that you know who she is,” Ryx said.

“Yes. But I don’t understand why she would have done this to me.”

“Kryon was your father as far as you remember, even though that’s not physically possible. He still raised you. Do you want me to reach out to him? Let him know what happened to you?” Ryx offered. “Perhaps he can look into things on his end and find out what happened.”

“Can I be returned to him on Vaaden?” she asked.

“No. My people do not believe in slavery, and we will not return you to a world that keeps human females as sex slaves. It goes against everything we believe in. Not even your father’s solemn vow would make me change my mind.”

She nodded, understanding their loathing of slavery, as she despised it herself. On her home world, the males owned slaves, and she’d never thought much of it. But now that she’d experienced firsthand what it was like and had heard the screams of the females in the harem, her heart ached for all those on her world who weren’t there voluntarily. Although, she should probably stop thinking of it as her world if she really had been taken from Earth at some point. Were the females in the harems on Vaaden treated as poorly? She knew that Vaaden was a male-dominated society, and as a female, she’d had few to no rights. But she’d trusted her father to do what was best for her. Now she wondered if she should have asked more questions, fought for equality.

“Could you get a message to my father? Just let him know that I’m all right, and maybe tell him what Heria did? It wouldn’t surprise me if she managed to trick him and they’re already mated, but he should know that she was behind my disappearance.”

“I can do that,” Ryx said. “We’ll wait until we’re in space, though. I don’t want to take a chance on Kryon coming here and trying to take you back to Vaaden. I don’t know what he had planned for you, Rena, and I know you don’t want to think poorly of him, but there’s a chance his intentions weren’t honorable.”

“Find out for me. Please. I need to know the truth of how I came to be on Vaaden, and why he’d claim me as his daughter.”

“I’ll see that it’s done. It’s late, and we’ll have an early morning. I think sleep is the best thing for both of us right now. If you’re not comfortable sharing the bed, I can sleep on the floor.”

Rena glanced at the large bed. It seemed big enough that they could easily sleep there without touching one another. As much as she’d feared that Ryx would want something from her, he seemed to be honorable enough. He’d claimed that he wouldn’t touch her sexually, and she’d just have to trust that he was being truthful. The outrage on his face when he spoke of slavery was enough to convince her that she was likely safe in his care. She didn’t think anyone could fake that much emotion.

“We can share,” she said.

“Very well. Go ahead and lie down. I’m going to make sure everything is set for tomorrow, then I’ll return. I won’t wake you until it’s time to go to the ship.”

Rena watched as he disappeared out the bedroom door, and she looked at the bed longingly. Now that she was full, her body felt heavy with fatigue. Making her way across the room, she crawled under the covers and closed her eyes. She didn’t have any idea what tomorrow would bring, or what her life would be like from this point forward, but it couldn’t be worse than living with Frih.

Anything was better than slavery. Freedom, even if she were only granted a little, would be so very welcome. She’d gladly take a mate if it meant she would be safe. If females were as precious to Ryx’s people as he claimed, then it was doubtful a mate would ever strike her. Perhaps, she would finally have the peaceful life she’d wanted for so long.