The Power of Persuasion [The Triad Series #2]

Chapter 8

Waking up from stasis and reuniting with the other six members of the super soldier project who’d agreed to leave Earth was a surprisingly emotional experience for Mac. He hadn’t expected to feel so in tune with them so fast. Apart from Neeve, the rest of the crew were unable to communicate telepathically which meant the telepaths could exchange information quickly and easily without having to worry about Professor Dean and her colleagues analyzing every thought anymore.

Some of the men were stronger telepaths than others, but the ease with which they slipped back into the same command structure was both surprising and reassuring. Kaiden was a natural leader and all the men automatically deferred to him. It was good to sit down and explain the situation in more detail, outlining the potential to stay in Pavlovan if they wished, and the likelihood of Professor Dean reclaiming them as research subjects if they did choose to return to Earth.

Mac sat back and watched everyone’s faces as Kaiden outlined the mission ahead. Everyone except Declan O’Hara seemed enthusiastic about meeting other telepaths and exploring the possibilities of a new world. Mac knew that it wasn’t because Declan didn’t want to be there. It was more that he was always the last of the bunch to commit to anything. His caution had saved more than one of the super soldiers’ lives, and his opinion, when given, was always respected.

“Do we have to remain in the military?” Declan finally asked.

Kaiden looked at Mac. “I don’t think so, Dec, but we can confirm that with the Assembly leader when we arrive.”

“Good.”

That was all Declan had to say at this point. He nodded his auburn head and studied his clasped hands.

Kaiden stood up. “I think it’s time you all met Dr. Neeve. She’s the Pavlovan female who arranged for us to leave Earth. We’ll be protecting her on the last stage of this journey to Pavlovan through potentially hostile space.”

There was a knock on the door and Neeve came through. She seemed unfazed as all the males shot to their feet and saluted her. Having not seen her for several weeks himself, Mac drank in the sight of her braided auburn hair and the tight blue uniform that emphasized her tall curvaceous shape.

“Put your tongue back in your mouth, Mac.” Luckily, Kaiden sent the thought privately and Mac snapped back to attention.

“Commander Kaiden, Captain McNeil.” She nodded at the rest of them. “I appreciate the escort back to Pavlovan. As I’m sure Kaiden has told you, we are approaching hostile space. I’m not expecting any trouble, but you never know with the Etruscans. They aren’t even officially at war with our planet, but they do have a nasty habit of stopping our ships and exterminating telepaths. So we’ll be taking a circuitous route to circumvent the more obvious trade routes and hopefully avoid any trouble.”

Declan O’Hara saluted. “Excuse me, Dr. Neeve. Are you a telepath?”

“Yes.” Neeve looked over at Declan and Mac found himself moving to stand between them.

“I thought so.” His smile was very sweet. “Just checking, doc.”

Neeve smiled at him. “All Pavlovans are born with some strain of telepathy. Some families tend to produce stronger telepaths than others and have accumulated power and wealth over the years. Developing your telepathic abilities is considered the most important thing a citizen can do to improve his or her life.”

“Apart from mating.”

Neeve’s gaze flew to Mac’s. “I’m not going to get into that when I’m the only female aboard, okay?”

“You’re my female.”

That possessive comment got him blocked so hard he almost winced.

Despite that, he went to stand beside her. “If any of you have any questions about what awaits us on Pavlovan, I’m sure Dr Neeve will be more than willing to answer them during the week ahead. But for now, let’s pretend we’re a unit again and concentrate on drawing up a strategic plan to secure this ship from the Etruscans.”

“This doesn’t look good.” Kaiden muttered as he studied the view from beside the captain’s chair. “Three Etruscan vessels are converging on us. Have they attempted to contact you?”

“Nothing yet.” Captain Wertz scanned the navcom screen in front of him.

“Is it worth trying to communicate with them first?” Mac asked.

“I’d rather not draw any more attention to us. What do you think, Wertz?”

“To be honest, I’ve never been hailed or chased by an Etruscan ship before. I’ve heard they are relentless.”

“Are there any Pavlovan ships in this sector?” Neeve sounded a lot calmer than the ship’s captain, which was a blessing. “It might be worth trying to find some back up just in case.”

“But if we start contacting Pavlovan ships, the Etruscans might see that as an act of aggression.” Captain Wertz said. “Planet Earth has worked very hard to maintain our neutral stance in all these intergalactic squabbles.”

“Squabbles?” Mac glared at the man. “You do realize that if we’re boarded, we’ll all be dead?”

“I thought they only took the telepaths.”

“Captain, all the military personnel on this ship are telepaths. If you expect them to defend you and your crew, then you have to cooperate with us.”

Neeve leaned forward and tapped the navcom. “There’s a Pavlovan ship right here not too far to the left of us.”

“I can’t see it.” Mac glanced down at the screen. “How can you tell?”

“It’s shielded, but I can sense the telepaths on board. We’re all using these routes to avoid the Etruscans at the moment. It stands to reason that someone would be out here.”

“Can you communicate with them without using the ship’s systems?”

“I’ll have to.” Neeve grimaced. “This ship doesn’t have the capability. It also doesn’t have great shielding, but that we can fix.”

“Sir.” Captain Wertz spoke in an undertone to Kaiden. “I am not authorized to allow modifications to this ship.”

Kaiden clapped him hard on the shoulder. “That’s okay because I am, and I have the approval of both governments to do whatever is necessary to get Dr, Neeve safely home to Pavlovan.” He raised his voice. “Lieutenant O’Hara? Get up here.” He smiled at Captain Wertz. “I’m officially relieving you of command of this vessel.”

“But—”

“O’Hara, take the helm. Roberts take over at weapons.”

The captain was politely but firmly escorted off the bridge. His protesting voice could still be heard as the doors shut behind him.

Neeve turned to Mac and Kaiden. “Can you two help me boost my signal?”

“Can we?” Mac asked.

“Tell your men to raise their shields first.” Neeve added.

“Done.” Kaiden moved closer. “Should we hold hands or something?”

“It’s not necessary. Just attempt to blend your power with mine as I project this message.”

Despite himself, Mac ended up holding her hand as he allowed his telepathic power to blend with hers and Kaiden’s. The information shot from them at such high speed and volume that he felt the other telepaths shields start to buckle.

“Damn.” Kaiden groaned. “That fucking hurt.”

“It would be better if we had a complete triad. But they got the message loud and clear and are altering course to escort us.”

Her smile grew as the Pavlovan military vessel drew closer and let down its shields. “We hit the jackpot. This is a class one military ship with a full complement of military personnel on board.”

The main screen flickered and two faces appeared.

“Dr. Neeve, how good to see you again.”

Mac found himself leaning closer to Neeve as she grinned at the two males. One of them was dark haired and huge, and the other was blond and sat in the captain’s chair.

“Esca.”

“Hey, beautiful.” The darker man winked. “Ash sent us.”

“That’s great.” Neeve said. “Are you going to escort us all the way?”

“That’s affirmative.” The blond nodded, his gaze shifting from Neeve to Mac. “Commander Kaiden? I’m Trenx, captain of this vessel.”

“No, I’m Captain McNeil.” Mac drew Kaiden forward. “This is Kaiden.”

“Good to meet you, sir.” Both men nodded at Kaiden. “Do you need additional troops on board, or can you manage with the men you have?”

“We’ll manage, Captain Trenx.”

“Trenx will do fine. Hopefully when the Etruscans see that you aren’t alone, they’ll frek off back to their own planet.”

“We can only hope.” Kaiden replied. “We appreciate the support.”

“Sir! The Etruscan ship is firing straight at us.” Roberts shouted.

Even as O’Hara spoke the ship rocked, and alarms started to go off all over the bridge.

“Major damage to left forward engine, sir. Shutting it down and turning to auxiliary power.” “O’Hara’s voice remained a calm thread throughout the blaring alarms and flashing lights. “Etruscan ship is preparing to fire again. Hold on, I’m taking evasive action.”

Trenx’s voice sounded in Mac’s ear through the interspaceship intercom. “Tell weapons to target sector three zee seven on the Etruscan ship. We’ll do the same. It should take their weapon capability out. On my command…”

“Will do, sir.” Roberts’ hands flew over the sensor pads and there was a lurching sensation as they fired back. A bright flare from the Pavlovan ship met with theirs and the Etruscan ship peeled away.

“One down, two to go,” Mac muttered. Neeve was running toward the central controls. “You shouldn’t be up here.”

The look she shot him was eloquently dismissive. “Then who else is going to get these crappy Earth shields up to scratch? I’m the only one with the technology.”

“Tell me how to do it.”

“I don’t have time. How about you just shut up and help me?”

He vaulted over the command chair and joined her at the consul. The speed of their telepathic connection meant she could relay the information and he could implement it without losing a second.

“Shit.” Kaiden muttered as a second volley hit the ship. “Where the hell did that come from?”

“Engine three is out, sir.” Robert’s shouted.

“We’re on it.” Trenx again. “Taken out. Commander Kaiden, we suggest immediate evacuation. We are far more capable of protecting you, Neeve and the Earth crew on our ship and getting you home quickly.”

Kaiden looked over at Mac and Neeve. “Agreed.”

“We’ll send over our shuttles. We should be able to take you all in one hit.”

“Don’t say hit.”

Trenx’s laughter rang through the com system. “Over and out.”

“Esca!”

Neevie!”

She leapt straight into the arms of the tall dark-haired Pavlovan soldier and allowed him to pick her up and swing her around in a giant hug. Mac and Kaiden waited until the man put her down again, Kaiden looked more amused than Mac felt.

The sensation of telepathic thoughts all around him was amazing and unsettling at the same time. The ship hummed with it like an overactive hive. He could only hope his shields were good enough to keep most of the background noise out.

Still holding the Pavlovan’s hand, Neeve turned to him and Kaiden.

“I’m sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve seen this idiot. Commander Kaiden, Captain McNeil, this is Esca, Ash’s Second Male.”

Mac stared at the rugged soldier. This guy was the second male in a triad? He didn’t look like he’d be willing to take second place at anything or to anybody. He saluted and then found his hand being grabbed and shaken in a hard grasp.

“Captain McNeil. Thanks for bringing our precious cargo home safely.”

Neeve rolled her eyes. “Precious, me?” She seemed so much more alive with Esca that, for a second, Mac wondered why she’d bothered to bring him back at all. He dismissed that thought as Esca led them through the decks, talking as he went and pointing out various places of interest. Eventually he stopped and punched a code into one of the doors and then the one next to it.

“We’re a bit tight on space at the moment, so I hope you don’t mind sharing. Neeve you’re in here. Commander Kaiden and Captain McNeil are next door.”

Mac stepped forward. “I’ll share with Dr. Neeve.”

Esca looked at him. “There’s no need. This ship is one hundred percent secure.”

Mac turned to Neeve. “Do you want me to stay with you?”

“Even if I say no, you’ll turn up at some point, won’t you?”

“If you need me, yes, but if you’d rather I shared with Kaiden that’s fine with me.”

“Am I missing something, here?” Esca asked.

Just as Mac said yes, Neeve said no.

Kaiden chuckled. “As you can see. It’s complicated.” He shifted his bag over his shoulder. “I’m going next door. Call me if you need a referee.”

Esca lingered, his interested gaze flicking between Neeve and Mac. “Captain McNeil’s a telepath, right?”

“Yes.” Neeve went into the room and Mac followed her.

“Are you sure—?”

Mac shut the door in Esca’s face and leaned against it. Neeve walked through to the tiny attached bathroom and slammed that door hard. He sighed. Within a few minutes she came back, minus her uniform, in a matching bra and panty set and glared at him. He studied her luscious curves and hoped he really wasn’t drooling.

“I missed you.”

She raised one eyebrow. “So?”

“I’d like to make love to you.”

“Not just fuck me?”

“Well, I suspect my first effort might be a five second fuck because I’m so desperate, but after that, I hope to satisfy you all night.”

He took a tentative step forward and then another until he could reach out and slide his fingers into her hair. She closed her eyes and leaned toward him with a soft sound that made him want to wrap his arms around her and hold her close forever.

“I don’t like feeling this way, Mac.” Her voice was muffled against his chest.

“What way?”

“Wanting you when you’re not committed to me.”

“I’m here, aren’t I?”

She slowly raised her head and looked up at him. “I suppose you are.”

“So how about we make the best of it?”

She slid a hand between them and grasped the heavy thrust of his cock through his pants.

“I wish I could say no.”

He forced himself to stay still. “You can always do that. I’ll never force you. If you can’t deal with me, I’ll go and share with Kaiden. I mean it.”

“Is that a threat?”

“No, I know you’re not happy with this situation and I don’t want to make things worse. If not sleeping with me makes it easier for you, then I’ll respect your decision.”

“You mean it don’t you?”

His dick yelled no, but he nodded anyway.

“So we just make the best of it?”

Her fingers slid away from his cock and he wanted to cry. Just as he went to take a step back she unbuttoned his pants and worked the zipper down. And then it was all over for him. Within another second, he had her on her back on the bed and he was moving between her legs. He pulled off her panties and cupped her mound groaning at the flood of wetness that filled his palm.

“Damn.”

He wrapped one hand around his cock and pushed himself deep inside her welcoming, hot cunt. He’d barely managed a single thrust before she started to come. He fucked her so hard his vision blurred into a red cloud of lust and emotion that made remembering to breathe his primary objective for quite a while.

He managed to roll onto his back and she crawled over him and just lay there panting alongside him.

“God, I forgot about shielding my thoughts.” Mac groaned. “Did I just broadcast that entire experience to the whole ship?”

“All ten seconds of it?”

“Better than I expected.”

“It’s okay, I shielded for us both. Most telepaths are used to having to block the odd uncensored scream of pleasure from a mating couple.”

He leaned up on one elbow and studied her beautiful face. “So what would it take to make you forget to shield?”

She fluttered her eyelashes at him. “Why don’t you find out?”

He started undressing her properly admiring every inch of her creamy skin as it appeared, the soft curve of her breast and the delicious pink tips of her breasts that demanded his complete and utter attention.

He smiled as she tugged at his uniform shirt. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”

“So, Captain McNeil.”

“What about him?” Neeve looked over at Esca who sat at his ease on the couch in the officer’s mess. He’d changed into a tight black T-shirt and military issue shorts.

“He’s a strong telepath.”

“Yes, he is.”

“Who obviously knows how to make you scream.”

Neeve scowled at him. “You heard that? Damn.”

“Darlin’ the whole ship heard it. The engines went off line and we almost plummeted to our deaths.”

“Exaggerator.”

“Sure, but what gives?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Isn’t it always?” He crossed his big bare feet at the ankle. “Look at how long it took me and Ash and Soreya to sort ourselves out.”

Neeve looked around, but there was no one else there to overhear her confidences.

“It doesn’t make sense. I’ve already loved and lost Malke. How could I possibly find a mate who isn’t a Pavlovan?”

Esca shrugged. “I did. Soreya’s Etruscan. Imagine how unbelievable that felt.”

“But at least she agreed to come back with you to Pavlovan and work things out.”

“Um, actually, she didn’t. It was come to Pavlovan or extermination and even then, she didn’t make the decision easily. Did the good captain come to Pavlovan for you?”

“He said he wanted to safeguard the future of his fellow super soldiers and agreed to come if I could bring them all.”

“An honorable man.”

“Yes, but I wanted him to want to come for me.” Neeve felt like stamping her foot and sulking like a three-year-old.

“Maybe this was his way of achieving that, without actually admitting it?”

“I suppose that’s possible. Males are peculiar about the emotional stuff.”

“Do you really think Captain McNeill is your mate?”

“Yes, but he doesn’t have a clue what that entails. Or should I say, he does, and the idea of being part of a triad scares the crap out of him.”

“It scared Soreya, too.”

“So what did you do about it?”

“We gave her time to make her own choices and then followed it up with the most fantastic sex any female was ever going to get in her life.” He winked. “Best for us, too.”

“You’re so conceited.”

His smile dimmed. “Yeah, I am, but it is fundamental to our existence as a triad. In order to bond mentally and emotionally, we have to bond physically.”

“I know.”

“So what’s the problem? From the sound of it you and the good captain have the physical part all sewn up.”

“That’s not the problem. It’s adding a third.”

“He doesn’t share well?”

“It’s not part of Earth culture to form triads. Especially if two of those members are men.”

“Ah, I get it now. Do you want me to talk to him? Tell him how angry I was at getting paired off with Ash and being classed as Second Male?” He smiled. “Tell him how unbelievably wrong I was and that Ash fucking me is awesome?”

She reached over to pat his knee. “Let’s see how things go with the Oracle first, but I might need your help after that.”

“You’ve got it.” Esca looked behind her. “Commander Kaiden, come on in.”

“Call me Kaiden.”

Neeve turned to smile at him and patted the couch beside her. “Did you sleep okay?”

He raised an eyebrow at her. “There were a couple of…interruptions but I did get some rest, thank you.”

Esca snorted. “Oh yeah, poor you, you were right next door. “

“It wasn’t a problem.” Kaiden sat down. “How long before we reach Pavlovan?”

“Not that long now. Around twenty-four of your Earth hours.”

Neeve got up and brought Kaiden a drink from the cold box. “Try this Pavlovan beer. It’s supposed to be pretty similar to that brewed on Earth.”

“Thanks.”

Trenx came through the door and paused as he surveyed the group. “All’s secure. We’ve outrun the Etruscan ships and we’re just entering Pavlovan space. Any more of that beer?”

“At least six more that I could see,” Neeve answered him.

Trenx took out a bottle, popped the cap and came around to sit down, shoving Esca’s feet onto the floor.

“This is an interesting ship, captain.”

Kaiden’s slow voice had Trenx looking over at him.

“Thanks. It’s loaded with weaponry and it’s damn fast, which is good enough for me.”

“And for us. If it hadn’t have been for your appearance in Etruscan space, we might not have made it to Pavlovan.”

Trenx raised his beer in the commander’s direction. “You’re welcome. If we have time, I’ll show you round properly.”

“I’d appreciate that.” Kaiden drank slowly from his frosty bottle, his gaze remaining on the space ship captain.

Neeve knew him well enough to sense when something was of interest to him and, in this case, it was clearly Trenx. She also noticed that Trenx’s gaze kept straying back to the big blond man who sat quietly drinking his beer as Esca rattled on about the latest news from Pavlovan.

“Why don’t you show Commander Kaiden around the ship before dinner, Trenx?” Neeve asked. “I need to go and wake Captain McNeil, so you have time.”

Kaiden put down his empty beer. “There’s no hurry, Neeve. I’m sure Captain Trenx is a busy man.”

Trenx stood up. “No, I’d like to show you around. You’re also qualified as a pilot aren’t you?”

“Among other things.”

“Then it would be a good idea to give you a working knowledge of this ship in case I finally strangle Esca and you have to take command.”

Kaiden’s slow smile was met and returned by Trenx. “I’d be delighted to help out.”

Esca turned to Neeve as the two men went out together.

“I take it Commander Kaiden doesn’t have the same issues that your mate has?”

“He’s certainly open to new experiences.”

“I think Trenx likes him. I’ve never seen him be so polite before.”

“Well, I think the feeling is mutual.” Neeve stood up. “And I’d really better go and wake Mac up before dinner.”

Esca waved at her. “Take your time. I’ll wait.”