The Power of Persuasion [The Triad Series #2]

Chapter 4

Mac opened the fridge and stared at the contents before shutting the door again. They’d been back at Nimbus for almost three weeks, one of which had been taken up with fucking military protocol that had left him wanting to scream. As a super soldier his actions were always suspect. He was sick of being treated like an unstable animal. It made him want to behave like one, which would, as Kaiden had calmly pointed out just prove the military’s point that he should be eliminated.

At two in the morning, nothing looked very appetizing and the shit the military served up was a disgrace anyway. He checked how much coffee was left in the pot and how warm it was and decided to make a fresh pot. He’d need it if he were going to survive the next few days.

Kaiden had taken the majority of his men and gone back to London leaving Mac in charge of a base with new superior security and an increased compliment of highly trained guards. The majority of the scientists hated it. He couldn’t even tell them why things had changed because he’d been ordered not to.

The consensus was that the Etruscans might try to take Dr. Neeve out again but no one was telling him why, even though he was supposed to be in charge of her security detail. When he’d pressed Kaiden for information, his commander had stated he didn’t know anything more than Mac, which was probably a lie as well, seeing as he’d gotten so cozy so quickly with the doc.

He sat down at the table and stared at the coffee maker. If it didn’t hurry up and make the damned stuff he was going to start mainlining the powder up his nose.

Dr. Neeve was due another three days off for mating purposes soon. He’d dutifully reported the fact to Kaiden at HQ and been told they had the matter in hand and would be sending a Pavlovan volunteer to service the female.

Fuck that.

Mac snorted and went to get a mug for his coffee. Half the reason he couldn’t sleep was because of waking up hard for her, wanting her, dreaming about her only to find the walls he’d deliberately erected against her in his mind held all too well. Either that or she was blocking him too, and he was a damn fine liar.

“Oh.”

He looked over his shoulder wondering if he’d imagined her so clearly that he’d somehow summoned her presence.

“Doc.” He cleared his throat. “I’m just making some coffee.”

She nodded but lingered in the doorway.

His hand tightened on his mug. “Don’t worry I’ll go in a minute.”

“You look tired.”

He looked at her properly for the first time in weeks. She was wearing a blue robe over a pair of fleeceteck pajamas and pink socks.

“I’m the commander of this base and we’re on high alert.”

He tensed as she came further into the room and sat down at the table.

“And this increase in security is my fault.” She pushed her long auburn hair out of her eyes. “I feel like such a burden. There aren’t any ships scheduled to return to Pavlovan for another few weeks, so I’m not even able to leave.”

The thought of her going hit him somewhere low in the gut like the punch of a gunshot.

He slammed the coffee pot on the counter and the glass trembled. “I bet you can’t wait to get home.”

“Not really.”

Ignoring his impulse to ask why, he held up the pot. “Do you want some?”

“Yes, please.”

He poured her a cup and brought it over to the table. Fuck it, he was sitting down. He’d been there first. If she didn’t like it she could always leave. He concentrated on adding sweetener to his coffee and stirring it in. Just sitting this close to her made him hard, made him want to inhale her warm scent instead of oxygen.

“I had a communication from Commander Kaiden about your next mating period.”

“What did he say?”

“That he has the resources necessary to fulfill your requirements.”

“Great.” She put her cup down on the table very precisely.

“Then I suppose we’ll be seeing him soon.”

“I doubt that’s what he meant.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot. Humans aren’t a reusable resource to you, are they? You probably need fresh meat.” He gulped down the rest of his coffee, scalding his mouth and rose to his feet. “Excuse me.”

She looked up at him. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Just a general comment about the difference between your race and mine.”

“Oh, that’s right. Humans are so good at staying with one person their whole lives, aren’t they? How dare you criticize my behavior!”

“I can’t speak for the entire human race, but I know that I was damn faithful to my partner. I have to assume that even if Malke had been around last month, you still would’ve fucked someone else as well.”

“Then you would’ve been wrong. I never needed any other male when I had him.”

Mac stopped walking. Did he deserve that low blow to his male ego? He should let it go.

“Sorry I wasn’t man enough for you, princess.”

She glared at him. “Do not ever call me that.”

“Next time start with Commander Kaiden. He’s obviously the right male for you.”

He reached the door and just remembered to slam his coffee cup down on the counter. With one last glance at the doctor’s rigid back he sauntered out into the hallway and stopped moving. He slowly let out his breath and stared unseeingly at the grey floor tile and then up at the ghostly strip lighting over his head.

Through his own anger, something reached him, a thread of feeling, of pain that made him turn around and go back into the kitchen. Closing the door behind him he leaned against it.

“Doc. I—should apologize. That was completely out of order.”

She didn’t move or speak. He walked around until he was in front of her. She had her face buried in her hands and her shoulders were hunched forward.

“Dr. Neeve?”

“I’ve never thought you were disposable.”

“As I said, I apologize for my thoughtless comments about a society I know fuck all about.”

“If you are Pavlovan, you are taught how to manage a Pavlovan mating cycle if the third member of your triad isn’t available.” She bit off the words as if she resented having to utter every single one of them.

“That makes sense.”

“Sometimes we do need to use an unconnected third, but it is highly unusual for any Pavlovan to enter adulthood without being aware of at least one of his or her mates.” She placed her hands palm down on the table and contemplated them. “Losing a mate is never easy. If I were on my home planet, I would be sent before the Oracle to be given another. I don’t have that option here. I didn’t even know there were any telepaths here. I thought I was all on my own.”

He nodded even though she wasn’t looking at him.

“To suggest that my pain in losing Malke was in any way less than yours in losing your mate was grossly unfair.”

“I know.”

She slowly raised her gaze to meet his. “Then why say it?”

He shrugged. “Because I was angry.”

“I got that. What I don’t understand is why?”

“Because I—” He closed his mouth and simply stared at her. There was no way in hell that he was going to admit he missed anything about her. What was the point? She was a security risk of gigantic proportions and it was his job to keep her safe until they got her off planet. And, despite telling him they’d been linked telepathically forever, she’d cut herself off from him so completely that he felt like there was a hole in his skull. It had taken all his psychic energy to do the same to her.

She put her coffee mug in the sink. She was so close to him that he could’ve reached out and yanked her hard against his chest and the swell of his cock. And then what? She didn’t need him. It wasn’t her mating cycle, so he was pretty damn useless.

She wrapped her arms around herself and straightened her spine.

“Will you let me out of here?”

He belatedly realized that he’d gone back to guarding the door and stepped to one side. “I apologize again.”

She stalked past him, her chin in the air and walked off down the hallway toward her quarters. Mac stared after her and then returned to his seat and the table and buried his head in his hands.

That had gone well.

All he’d done was upset her because he was a fucking judgmental ass incapable of moving on from what had happened. She hadn’t asked him to get all emotional around her, and she’d probably be mortified if she ever guessed that he had. Telling Neeve he’d never been unfaithful to Leah was the truth. He hadn’t the nerve to tell Neeve the rest—that after fucking her; he didn’t think he’d want anyone else again, either.

He was a fucking idiot. Which was highly appropriate.

With that in mind, he made his way back to his office and called up Commander Kaiden’s message service. To his surprise, Kaiden picked up.

“Mac, is everything okay?”

“Yes sir.” Mac rubbed a hand over his unshaven chin. “I have a question.”

“Go ahead.”

“Are you planning on coming up here for Dr. Neeve’s mating cycle?”

“I don’t think I have a choice. I was just about to contact you. The Pavlovan government has put a hold on any of its citizens traveling on Earth until the Etruscan issue dies down.”

“Great.”

“What’s the problem?”

“If you’re here, then I don’t need to be. I’m requesting five days leave.” He made it a statement rather than a question.

“Mac—”

“She’ll be fine with you.”

“Request denied. You were her first contact. I require you to be there in case you’re needed.”

Mac set his jaw. “And if Dr. Neeve doesn’t want me there?”

There was a definite pause. “Has she said that?”

“If she doesn’t require my presence, I’ll ask her to contact you. Over and out.” Mac shot to his feet and shoved back his chair. He might as well ruin the rest of the night and go and get that confirmed by Dr. Neeve. Somehow he doubted it would be a problem for her to give him his marching orders.

Neeve sat on the side of her bed and scowled before jumping to her feet and pacing the small space again. What was it about Captain McNeil that made her behave like a bitch? She wanted to slap his face, scratch his skin until it bled, and then climb on top of him and ride his cock until he begged for mercy.

She wanted him to be like a Pavlovan mate. Wanted all of him, mind, body and will. And he thought she saw him as some kind of disposable sperm dispenser. She went back over their conversation in the kitchen. Where had it all gone wrong? Why couldn’t she have reached out to him telepathically or even physically?

Because she was a coward. Losing Malke had been bad enough. She’d felt like someone had ripped out her heart. Messing around with a human telepath with extraordinary powers was just stupid when there was no future in it. They’d made a deal to keep their relationship sexual. That was it. If she wanted more, she was just asking to be hurt all over again. She had to protect herself.

A knock on her door has her spinning around. “Who is it?”

“Captain McNeill.”

She let out her breath and retied the sash of her robe. “Come in.”

He entered, his gaze dropping to the security panel beside the door. “Don’t tell me you left it unlocked.”

She tapped her skull. “I just opened it. I can manipulate power circuits from here. What do you want, sir?”

“Commander Kaiden just informed me that he can’t get a Pavlovan up here to mate with you, but he will be coming himself.” His mouth curved up at the corner. “No pun intended.”

“Why can’t he get a Pavlovan?”

“Your government is on high alert and won’t let anyone travel.”

She turned away from him and pretended to adjust the blind. “Okay, thanks for telling me. I estimate I’ll go into my mating cycle in about five days.”

“I’ll let him know.”

She waited, but he didn’t leave.

“There’s one more thing. If Commander Kaiden is here, you won’t need me, will you?”

She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself.

“If that’s the case, and I assume it is, will you contact him in the morning and tell him so? He’ll want to hear it from you rather than me.”

Slowly she swung around to face him. “You told him that you didn’t want me?”

“No, I told him that you didn’t want me.”

“And how did you work that out? Was it before or after we fucked each other so hard that you ran out of come?”

He went still like the predator he was and his eyes narrowed but not before she’d caught the gleam of lust.

“Wasn’t I good enough for you, Captain McNeil? Damn I feel so disposable.” She set her teeth and glared at him so hard it hurt. She marched over to him and stuck her finger in his face. “You’d bloody better be here when I’m mating because this time I’m going to suck you dry until you’re nothing but a broken husk. Then you can crawl away and die.”

The next second was a blur as he reached for her and slammed her against his hard body. His mouth descended and she opened hers to him, biting and nipping at his lips as he tried to kiss her.

“Goddamit, keep still!”

She bit even harder and he cursed, his hand tangling in her hair and cupping her skull until she was exactly where he wanted her. He pinned her against the door and she was aware of every muscular inch of him from knee to shoulder. The kiss went on and on, turning into something so needy and filthy and spectacular that her knees started to give way. He grabbed her hand, placed it over the front of his pants and she gripped him hard through the fabric.

“I thought you said you didn’t want me, Mac?”

He pushed into her hand and she squeezed hard until he yelped.

“You closed your mind to me.”

“Because you made it quite clear that you’d done your duty and that was an end to it.”

“And it was. It is. It has to be.”

“Then what’s this, then, Mac?”

“Residual lust?”

She moaned as he slid his hand inside her pajama bottoms and curved his strong palm around her ass cheek.

“It’s not that simple.”

“It never is for a woman.” He braced one hand on the wall beside her head so that she couldn’t look away from him. “I’m supposed to be guarding you until you leave Earth. That’s my primary mission. I was chosen because I’m a telepath and a super soldier.”

“And I’m leaving in a few weeks.”

“Yes,” he stared into her eyes. “We both know where we stand. There’s no future in this for either of us.”

She nodded, but neither of them made any effort to let each other go.

“And yet, I still want you.” Mac murmured.

“I got that.” She licked her lips and then his. “And I want you, even though you might remember that I’m not in my mating cycle.”

He groaned and buried his face in the crook of her neck. It was a good thing that he was still holding her up because her body turned liquid.

“Don’t say that. You’re supposed to slap my face and tell me to fuck off.”

“I’ll tell you to fuck me, if you like.”

His hand scooted lower over her ass and slid down to her sex. “Christ you’re wet.”

She arched her back and his fingers pushed higher over the throb of her clit and lingered there, slowly rubbing back and forth as she rocked against him. With a low sound he penetrated her with his thumb and held still.

“Please fuck me, Mac.”

It was stupid and they both knew it, but she couldn’t stop the words.

“Damn…”

He picked her up and sat her on the side of her bed. She gripped the frame as he stripped with fast, economic movements that left her staring at his tight abs and rigid cock. With a sigh, she leaned forward and tasted him with her tongue, licking at the wetness gathering at the tip of his crown.

He slid one hand into her hair and surged forward, urging her to take more of him, but she continued just to play, licking and kissing him like an ice cream until he was even wetter. She pointed her tongue and wiggled it into his slit and he made the most wonderful sound, a mixture of need and frustration that sank into her like the finest Pavlovan spirits.

“Suck me.”

She ignored his urgent command and continued to torment him with her tongue. With a growl he flipped her onto her back and higher onto the bed. He buried his face between her legs, nuzzling her soaking folds with his mouth and the scrub of his stubbled chin.

Shifting his weight, he guided his shaft toward her mouth, groaning as this time she took him in and set her lips around his thick length drawing him deeper with every pull. His mouth plundered her sex, his fingers joining the delights of his probing tongue until she was coming all over his face, grinding herself against the hard lines of his jaw as he started to fuck her mouth.

“Not yet.”

She didn’t understand his words until he pulled away from her and flipped her over onto her stomach. Instinctively she came up on her knees. He pulled her back to the edge of the bed, stood on the floor and grabbed her hips.

“Now I’ll fuck you.”

His cock slid home in her cunt and he started to thrust hard. One hand braced over her shoulder holding her in position as he fucked her. The other roamed her breasts and hips and finally settled over her clit rubbing and circling her now tender nub until she screamed into the pillow and came so hard she felt the echo of the shock scream back from his mind.

He kept on fucking her and she started to fight him, aware that he was driving her toward a place that she’d never found with Malke and desperately feared. She almost forgot how to do anything but breathe, her mind as open to him as her sex, his thoughts as clear as her own, both of them fused together in the pursuit of immense sexual pleasure.

This shouldn’t be happening, this couldn’t be happening, not with him, not with—.

“God, Neeve.”

She reached back to grab his wrist and dug her nails in as he continued to pound into her. She couldn’t stop coming now, and he couldn’t stop feeding the emotions back to her and—

“Fuck.” He rammed himself deep and held there as the hot pulses of his come filled her.

She’d lost her mind to him completely and could no longer tell where he stopped and where she began. For a moment he held himself rigidly over her his chest heaving as if he’d run a race.

While he recovered she made a faint attempt to gather the frayed corners of her mind and stitch them back together again. But it was impossible. He seemed to have entered her consciousness at a molecular level and would not leave…

She let him rearrange them both on the bed. Him on his back, and her on her side curled against him. Her hand rested on his chest and her right knee cradled his muscular thigh.

“Mac.”

“Mmm…”

“We can’t keep doing this.”

“Dammit, woman I was enjoying the moment.” He groaned. “Can we just wait a few minutes before we have that discussion?”

She kept talking. “Every time we have sex, our telepathic link gets stronger.”

“I’m not the best person to judge that statement. My thought processes are entirely controlled by my dick at the moment.”

“It’s wrong, Mac. I’m not supposed to feel anything for you except sexual relief.”

“You’re not in your mating phase, so maybe this is different.”

His tone was more serious now as if he too was considering what was happening more carefully.

“I shouldn’t be attracted to you at all when I’m not in my mating cycle. You’re not even a Pavlovan.”

“But I’m a telepath.” He sighed. “I can’t imagine not making love to a telepath now.” He flinched. “Ouch.”

Her fingernails dug into his flesh. She didn’t want him thinking about any other female but her, let alone a telepathic one.

“Which is why we have to stop,” Neeve said firmly.

He came up over her and stared down into her face. She wanted to lick a path down his skin all the way to his cock and start again…

“I’m not sure if I can do that.”

She studied the set of his jaw and the resolution in his dark blue eyes. “Do you want to be in a Pavlovan triad?”

“What do you mean?”

“Would you be willing to share me with another male, or another female on a permanent three-way basis?”

“Three-way?” He made a face. “Are you suggesting we’d all be fucking each other even those of the same sex?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.” She held his gaze. “All three members of the mating triad decide who gets to have sex with whom, and they don’t get jealous about sharing.”

His expression hardened. “I don’t share.”

“Which is why I’m telling you that we can’t keep doing this. I can’t imagine committing to just one person.”

“Fuck.” He rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. “You’re right.” He sat up and managed to get off the bed. “This will have to stop.” He stooped to pick up his clothes giving Neeve a perfect view of his perfect ass. “Call Kaiden tomorrow and tell him you need someone else and that you don’t want me.”

She bit down hard on his lip as he methodically put on his clothing. She daren’t reach out for his mind, which she suspected was as battered and defenseless as her own.

He turned back at the door, his expression grim. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Better to use words than thoughts, better to protect themselves.

“For not being the man that you want.”

“I want you.”

“And I can’t exist in a threesome.”

“I understand. It’s outside your culture’s idea of the norm.” She gathered the sheets around her and nodded, giving him permission to walk away. “Good night, Captain McNeil.”

He briefly closed his eyes and then left leaving her staring at the closed door. What happened if you met your mate who wasn’t even Pavlovan, and they turned you down? She had no idea. It never happened. Maybe her mother would know what to do, but the last person she wanted to confide in at the moment was her mother. She’d never countenance Neeve’s infatuation with a human…

She curled up into a ball and closed her eyes. After Malke died she’d thought she’d never smile again, let alone have sex, and now she’d done both. Dammit, why did emotional stuff have to be so hard? Believing Malke could love her for herself and not for her family connections had been difficult enough. But he’d proved it by being willing to walk away from Pavlovan and follow her to Earth. She’d always wanted to be free of her family and against all the odds she’d managed it. It was ironic that she’d now met a male who had no idea who or what she was and probably wouldn’t care even if he did know. She swallowed hard. Perhaps she’d been right all along and that was all she was, a prize to be won and without that lure she wasn’t good enough for anyone…

She’d survive this, go back to Pavlovan visit the Oracle and find a new mate. If she could get Mac out of her system…

That was the part she was finding difficult.