Born of Night (Page 7)

Born of Night (The League #1)(7)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Trying to distract herself from the warm body sliding in behind her, she studied the ship’s controls. The main panel reminded her of a museum piece. But even so, it was in prime condition and more than well kept.

Nykyrian must have noticed her interest. “It’s a Bertraud Trebuchet Fighter.”

A chill went down her spine as she recognized the model. Expensive and fast, they were the preferred ships of the top scum and elite outlaws the universe over. “Doesn’t Nemesis fly one of these?” She turned to look at him over her shoulder. “Are you he?”

His features were impassive. “We’re really good friends.”

She arched her brow at the way he said that. There seemed to be a note that told her they were closer than just friends. “Like lovers?”

He handed her the helmet. “I f**k him all the time.” Again his tone was completely devoid of emotion.

Kiara curled her lip at his unnecessary crudity. She didn’t know why, but her heart sank at the thought of his being g*y.

Figured. Men who looked that yummy were never straight. What a wasteful tragedy for all of womankind . . .

“Have you any idea how much money you could make by turning your lover in?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Then why haven’t you?”

“It’s not worth my life. Besides, some days I actually like him.”

What an odd thing to say. “I would think you should always like your lover.”

“Do you always like yours?”

Kiara blushed at such a personal question. Then it dawned on her just how nosy she was being with him. He placed the black helmet over her head and fastened it for her.

She could feel his arms moving behind her and realized he was removing his shades.

Curious, she tried to turn around.

“Don’t!” he snapped, finally breaking through that facade of ice.

Kiara stiffened. What about his eyes made him so angry? Was he deformed?

He’s an assassin, girl. You know they’re not right in the head. None of them.

It was true. Normal people didn’t kill for a living and normal people didn’t sleep with the most notorious assassin to ever live and not turn him in.

His strong arms came around her to press and flip the switches in front of her. As he did so, his sleeve pulled back enough that she could catch a glimpse of The League tattoo on his wrist in the gap between the sleeve and his black gloves. Her breath left her with an inaudible gasp.

It was true.

He really had been in The League.

Holy . . .

With a deafening roar, the engines fired, then settled down to a soft whir. In the crackling distortion filling her ears, she heard the controller’s voice through the intercom in her helmet as he gave them launch instructions.

She leaned back as Nykyrian reached across her. The moment she did, his body jerked at the unexpected contact and she brushed against a part of him that was swollen and hard.

A wicked smile curved Kiara’s lips. He was so not g*y.

At least not entirely . . .

Nykyrian was instantly inflamed by her body pressed against his. Her hip was right against his c**k which only made him harder. The sweet scent of her body filled his heightened senses, making him want to bury his face against her throat and inhale her as he cupped one of those perfect br**sts in his hand.

God, he was an idiot. Why hadn’t he thought to borrow Jayne or Syn’s double-seated fighter?

But then he knew. If he had to dogfight, there was no ship out there faster or better than this one. And it was one he was so intimate with that it was like an extension of his own body.

In his world, he needed every advantage.

What he’d really underestimated was how Kiara’s presence would affect him. Could he make it to Gouran without his hormones taking over?

Of course you can. You’re a soldier.

Fully trained.

Sex equaled exposure. Exposure equaled death.

Never let anyone at your back. Never let anyone see you. Those lessons had been hardwired into his psyche and he wasn’t about to forget them now.

Not even for her.

He forced his thoughts from the soft body molded against his and gave full attention to the directive for launch.

The g-forces brought her body solidly against his, increasing his discomfort. And his arousal. His hand trembled as he clutched the throttle.

But he ignored the heat he felt, just as he ignored her. Besides, a woman like her would never willingly touch something as unclean as he was. And it wasn’t only the blood on his hands that would offend her. Nothing about him was decent or right. He was an abomination.

Never forget what you are . . . what I’ve made you. His adoptive father’s words echoed harshly in his ears. How could he ever forget?

He remembered, even when he didn’t want to.

You’re a disgusting animal.

And that was all he’d ever be. Hell, he was lucky his adoptive father had even allowed him into his house—for that matter that anyone had ever allowed him into their home.

He flinched as old memories came back to bite him.

There was no use in reliving a past that had been excruciating enough the first time. So he did what he always did and shoved those memories aside and focused on his mission.

Getting her home to the people who loved her.

Within a few minutes, they cleared orbit.

Kiara watched as the murky gray planet shrank out of sight. She still had no idea which one it was. Shifting in the seat, she heard his sharp intake of breath.

“Sit still,” he ordered, his voice hard. Not that it was by any means the only part of him hard . . .

His tone irked her. “What do you expect with me crammed in front of you?”

“I expect you to sit still.”

“And I expect you to be a little less acerbic. You know, I didn’t want to be here. You’re the one who put me in your lap. If anyone should be bitching over it, it should be me. Not like I’m getting any kind of thrill from this, especially not with your attitude, buddy.”

Nykyrian cursed under his breath. He knew he should apologize for his curtness. But apologies weren’t something he’d ever concerned himself with. Honestly, he was amazed that he’d barked at her since he could count on one hand the number of times in his adulthood that anyone had elicited that much emotion from him.

She crossed her arms over her chest and slammed back against his chest so hard that he felt his breath leave him. Grinding his teeth, he fought the urge to take her head off again.

Or kill her.

But that was what she expected him to do and God forbid he ever do something that was expected of him. Not to mention, she’d been right earlier. She hadn’t asked for any of this to happen to her. She’d been through a lot. The bruises on her face and neck and the deep cuts on her wrists testified to the severity of what she’d suffered.

At least she hadn’t been raped. Her earlier tirade had told him that much. She’d been spared that particular humiliation, but by the looks of her, they’d more than intended to do it. Better than anyone, he knew what it was like to be held down while other people took their anger out on him.

To feel powerless and lost . . .

Violated against his best fight.

So he gave her space and silence for the rest of the long journey.

Kiara sat as still as she could, but she couldn’t keep her anger up. She was too tired for that. And as Nykyrian relaxed behind her, she found herself following suit as the deep thump of his heart and the warm scent of his skin lulled her. It was actually kind of nice to be held in someone’s arms after all she’d been through. She wanted comfort.

No, she needed it, and she hated herself for that weakness. She’d always prided herself on being strong. But right now, she felt like that scared little girl who’d begged for her mother’s life. Like the little girl who wanted someone to hold her close and to reassure her everything was all right and that she’d be home soon where no one could touch her.

Unfortunately, she knew that even there she wasn’t really safe. She would never in her life have safety . . .

But at least Nykyrian wasn’t mocking her while he held a blaster to her head.

Yet.

She blinked her eyes, trying to stay awake, but the engines were so lulling and she was so tired . . .

Nykyrian barely caught her before she slumped into his controls. He could hear her even, slow breaths in his helmet.

How can you be asleep with a trained assassin sitting behind you?

And yet she was completely unconscious in his lap while her soft little snore came through the link in his helmet.

The woman was nuts. She had to be.

Or suicidal.

Damn, this had to be a first. He made most people so nervous that they practically wet themselves in his presence. No one had ever been this relaxed around him before.

Not even Syn.

Pulling her back, he cradled her with his body so that she could be as comfortable as possible. She turned in his arms and laid her head on his chest with one hand resting just above his cock. His body erupted with heat as he imagined her like this while they were both nak*d.

This is going to be a long ride . . .

The worst part was that on some unknown level, he actually liked the feeling of her like this. The warmth of her body against his.

You are out of your friggin’ mind.

He picked her hand up to look at her long, graceful fingers that were perfectly manicured. Like the rest of her, they were dainty and beautiful.

Before he could stop himself, he removed one of his gloves so that he could hold her hand in his and feel her flesh against his. He’d been right. Her skin was softer than velvet. And the sensation of it played havoc with his mind as he imagined her touching him.

Don’t be stupid. She would never voluntarily touch you.

It was true and he knew it. But still he couldn’t stop wanting to take his helmet off and lay those fingers against his face. To nibble the pads of each one . . .

What would it be like to have a loving hand touch him?

Just once?

Grinding his teeth, he saw the ugliness of his scarred, damaged hand covering the beauty of hers. You are revolting. Every part of you an eyesore to humanity . . .

His stomach twisting at the insults that were engraved in his soul, he put her hand down and replaced his glove. You are such a pathetic fool. There’s no such thing as a loving hand for anyone. How many times has a wife tried to hire you to kill off her husband for his money or just for the hell of it?

Yeah, people were treacherous to the bitter end and only an idiot ever trusted one.

Kiara jerked awake at the small beep that pulsed on Nykyrian’s control panel. Her heart hammering, she tried to get her bearings.

“What’s that? Are we under attack?”

Nykyrian pointed to the left . . .

She sat up quickly, half expecting to find an enemy ship there. But that wasn’t what she saw.

She laughed as her home planet came into view. Never had she been so happy to see Gouran. She splayed her hand on the cold glass, staring at it, afraid that if she so much as blinked this would be a dream and her planet would vanish. The green and blue that was mixed with the red soil of the desert regions . . . It was so beautiful.

She was home . . .

They’d kept their word and not harmed her.

In that moment, she could have hugged Nykyrian for it.

Are you insane?

No, she was just that grateful.

Before she knew it, they were in the planet’s atmosphere and blue skies were once again above her while the green undisturbed countryside sped by below. Nykyrian’s deep voice spoke her native Gourish flawlessly as he talked to the controller. “I’m here on a diplomatic mission to return the Princess Kiara Zamir to her father. I need the coordinates to land in or near his palace.”

The controller’s voice cracked as he gave them instructions to land in her father’s private bay.

But before he finished giving the proper coordinates, a squadron of eight fighters surrounded them. The ships were not a welcoming party.

They were military fighters, fully armed and ready to fire.

A warning alarm sounded in Nykyrian’s fighter, letting them know they were in the lock zone for a missile or laser strike.

Nykyrian’s arms tightened in expectation as he activated his own weapons and moved his left hand toward the trigger. “I’m here on a peaceful mission. Deactivate the lock. Now.” She admired his even, nonaggressive tone, especially given the fact that one of the fighters rolled in front of them, forcing him to slow down abruptly.

“You disengage first,” the command pilot demanded.

Nykyrian’s thumb rested on the trigger. “Not until you drop target on me.”

Her heart pounded as all of them refused to back down. What if one of her father’s soldiers panicked and fired for no reason? Though pilots were carefully trained, mistakes happened and she didn’t want to be included in a statistics report under “uh-oh, my bad.”

“Release the fighters,” she snapped into her mic.

“Kiara?” Her father’s relieved voice burst through her headset. “Is that really you, angel? Are you all right?” His voice broke on the last word. He must have thought Nykyrian was returning her body . . .