On a distant planet, Jovin Alles makes a lucrative living providing his wealthy clientele with unique works of art and collectibles. Then he accidently finds himself in possession of a Telzhan, an alien race known for their sexual expertise. This mouth-watering male has decided Jovin would make the perfect mate for him. And he’s about to go into rut...
Be Warned: m/m sex, hermaphrodite sex
Jovin stopped outside the door. “Before I look at this ‘item’ of yours, swear to me it’s legal.”
Cray’s thin lips formed a pout. “Really, luvvy. When have I ever—”
Jovin glared. Cray’s affected pout disappeared.
“It’s a touch on the iffy side,” he admitted. “That never matters to the upper crust. Why does it matter to you? Oh, that’s right. Because you’re a self-righteous prick.” The man’s face twisted into a leer that wasn’t entirely human. Not for the first time, Jovin wondered at his ancestry. “You’d rather gut yourself on an Aboline war spear than have to deal with me. But the money’s just so damn good, isn’t it?”
“Just show me what you’ve got.”
“I’ve waited so long to hear you say that, luvvy. But business before pleasure.” He led the way inside.
Most of the items he’d seen before. Jovin averted his eyes from the more pornographic and focused on seeking the new. The skin of an ebony cat, still with its black-diamond sheen. A golden statue of a naked, impossibly handsome man, seated on a crate. A picture of—Jovin hastily looked away. Zhee artwork, normally so sublime, sometimes veered off into darker directions. Even worse, he knew someone who’d pay hugely for this particular piece. That churned his stomach all the more.
He caught himself rubbing his nose. Something stank in here. Spicy-sweet, like cinnamon. Like…
The statue raised its head.
Jovin went absolutely still. His eyes and his nostrils widened.
Holy Ghod, that wasn’t a statue. That was a living being.
But… Jovin cleared his throat and swallowed hard. He couldn’t be alive. Nothing so beautiful existed in nature. He had to have been sculpted, inch by loving inch, by the hands of a master artist. Standing, he’d top six feet, perfectly proportioned and every muscle exquisitely defined. Bronze hair, cropped short, capped a face designed to lure the unwary toward lips designed to seduce. His skin was the color of molten gold. In the gloom of the dingy room, it almost seemed to glow.
Eyes like emeralds met Jovin’s, naked and direct. Jovin reeled from an almost physical jolt. Those eyes promised sex that could burn a man to the ground and pulverize the ashes. Jovin automatically grabbed at his raincoat and tugged a fold over his crotch.
The golden man’s perfect mouth formed a slight smile. The tip of his tongue appeared and wet his lower lip.
Sweat started on Jovin’s forehead. He couldn’t even move his hand enough to wipe it off. Insistent demands hammered at his awareness from underneath his raincoat. Damn, it had suddenly gotten stuffy as hell in here.
Wait a minute. That wasn’t some trick of the gloom. The golden man really was glowing.
Cray’s nauseating chuckle at his back made him jump. “Finally noticed him, did you? I had a bet with myself. Took you less than five minutes. You win.”
Jovin gratefully seized the excuse and wrenched his stare off the golden man, whirling on Cray instead. “That’s—” His voice came out gravelly, ragged with want. He tried again. “That’s a—”
“A Telzhan.” Cray’s smile spread across his ugly pumpkin face. “A male, thank Azira. All the better for us. Nothing human can keep up with the women. And,” he finished triumphantly, “he’s right on the verge of rut.”
Against his will, Jovin found himself turning, groin first, back toward the golden man. Good Ghod in the heavens. The man had stood up. All the promises hinted in his seated posture were magnificently fulfilled.
Now that he was on his feet, Jovin could clearly see his crotch. The man’s entire pelvis was locked in a metal casing, like a set of aluminum boxers. Twin chains started at cuffs on his wrists and ended in bolts on the floor.
The Telzhan didn’t appear discomfited by either the chains or the chastity belt. He continued to gaze at Jovin as if no one else existed in the universe.
“Had to lock him up,” Cray said, from somewhere at the edge of the galaxy. “Couldn’t have him abusing himself and spurting all over the merchandise. There’s a smell you’ll never get out.”
Yes. The smell. Ghod help him, the smell. The Telzhan smelled like sex. Boisterous, exhilarating sex in every position imagined by man and more than a few that weren’t. He’d last for hours and come repeatedly, and leave his partner totally sated, if perhaps barely alive.
He wanted Jovin to be that partner. His eyes unequivocally said so.
Jovin had taken three steps toward him before he even realized he was moving. He stopped himself, and was shocked at the effort it took.
“Incredible, isn’t he?” Cray’s grating voice sliced into Jovin’s awareness. “Imagine how he’ll be when he goes into full rut. We can name our own price. Women and men will line up to—hell. Why even sell him? We can earn a king’s fortune on rentals alone. Once they hit full rut, they just go and go and go. Let’s see … one client per hour, at five hundred—no, make that eight hundred dinaros—carry the six…”
“Excuse me?” Cray blinked. “Did you say something?”
Jovin’s personal sense of time made a jump. One moment he was falling into a pair of bottomless green eyes. The next he had Cray pinned to the wall with his hand around the bastard’s throat. Cray’s buggy eyes were the color of shit. How appropriate.
“I told you from the beginning,” Jovin grated. “Just as I tell my clients. I don’t traffic in sentients. Not for any price.”
“Oh,” Cray simpered. “So forceful. Feeling all manly and aggro, are we? I hear the scent of a rutting Telzhan has that effect on people. I myself am immune, of course. Sinus issues.” He tugged at Jovin’s arm. “Think we can keep this a little less emotional?”
Hands shaking, Jovin let him go. What the hell had just come over him? He detested Cray and always had, but never would have dreamed of acting on it.
It was that scent. That lovely cinnamon aroma that had crept into his nostrils and blotted out everything else. He scrubbed his hand against his raincoat. Oh, how he wished that hand was rubbing on—
Stop it, stop it, stop it!
“I don’t. Deal. In sentients.” He stared at the wall, just to the left of Cray’s head. That was safest. “I don’t want any part of this.”
“What, now you find morality? After all this time? After all those hefty payouts? I don’t think so. I know you too well, luvvy. Sooner or later the smell of cash trumps even the scent of a Telzhan. This is the chance of a lifetime, my not-so-moral friend. I know you’re professional enough to realize that. It’s not like Telzhans are human. When they go into rut they stop thinking, so we can dispense with the sentient argument. That leaves us with nothing but profit.”
Jovin stole a glance at the Telzhan. He couldn’t help himself. The man gazed blandly at the both of them, as if his freedom, his very future, weren’t at stake.
“Here’s the deal,” Cray said. “I’ve got the merchandise, and you’ve got the customer list. You spread the word, collect the rental fees, we split the take. I’m thinking sixty/forty.”
“I said no.” This time Jovin slammed Cray against the wall with the flat of his hand. He realized, distantly, he’d automatically placed his body between Cray and the godlike wonder standing by the crates. He thought about moving but didn’t. “This is our deal. You take the chains and that—abomination—off that man and you let him go. Then you and I are quits for good. I’m done working with you.”
“Let him go?” Cray said, aghast. “Are you mad? Turn a rutting Telzhan loose in Nashgow? Do you want to destroy the whole city?”
“Then take him back to wherever you got him from.” A cold lance of apprehension jabbed Jovin in the belly, poking a hole in his lust. “Where did you get him from?”
Cray gurgled. “He … fell off a transport?”
The coldness expanded, neatly squelching Jovin’s involuntary hard-on. “You stole him, didn’t you? From who?”
“Who says I stole him? I know, it’s not like Telzhans are common at this end of the Shallows, but that doesn’t mean I—”
Someone pounded on the warehouse door. Hard. Insistently.
“Bugger,” Cray muttered.
“I may have reneged on a commission from Wetton. What? You and those stuck-up prats you represent aren’t my only customers, you know.”
“Wetton? Kono Wetton? The crime lord?”
“The man has exotic tastes and enough dinaros to drown a moon in. I called you first, didn’t I? I expected a bigger show of gratitude.” He shrugged against Jovin’s hand on his chest. “Shows how much I know.”
The pounding on the door stopped abruptly. A window in the office shattered with a tinkle of glass.
“And that’s all the time we have,” Cray said. He kicked Jovin hard on the shin. Jovin hopped backward. He regained his balance just in time to spot Cray duck between two tall crates at the back of the room. There had to be an exit there. Or several, knowing Cray.
The sound of breaking glass was replaced by the thicker, heavier noise of the office door getting splintered. Jovin started for the crates. If there was another way out of here, it would serve him just as well.
Then he stopped. Looked back. The Telzhan strained against his shackles, helpless.
Son of a snart.
Jovin dashed out of the acquisitions room, toward the weapons wall. He grabbed what he hoped was a reproduction of a fourth century battle axe. A fake would be sturdier, less likely to break. He darted back to the captive Telzhan and swung the blade at the chains.
One chain fell free, then the other. The Telzhan stood with a short line of links dangling from the cuffs, staring at Jovin. The expression on his face veered toward worship. Dammitall, that better not be worship.
“Run.” Jovin added shooing gestures, just to be safe. “They’re here for you. Run! Now!” He headed toward where Cray had disappeared.
He was stopped by a powerful hand on his wrist, attached to an equally-powerful arm attached to the shoulder of the Telzhan. The man jerked him backwards and around. Jovin found himself swept up against a naked golden chest, falling into emerald eyes. The scent of cinnamon enveloped him, all its thrilling promises teetering on the edge of realization.
The Telzhan kissed him.
Ghod almighty. The memories of every kiss he’d ever had were blown right out of his head by the new reigning champion. No lips had ever felt so warm against his, or so willing. Those lips wiped all his senses clean and filled him with a burning thirst for more and more and more. His cock jerked alert with a Huh? What the hell? and quested beneath his raincoat for something to conquer.
His legs gave way. He clung to the Telzhan. The man supported him easily, in arms that suggested he could hold Jovin forever, and wanted to. His lips moved into a smile against Jovin’s mouth.
There was a word for this. Swooning. I’m swooning, he thought distantly. So this is what swooning feels like.
The crash of the door breaking in shattered the moment, and the kiss. The Telzhan shot a glare over his shoulder at the noise. He looked annoyed.
“This isn’t a good time,” Jovin mumbled. “We have to get out of here.”
The man nodded. He grabbed the axe in one hand and Jovin in the other. With Jovin pressed to his side he headed for the door and the threatening sounds coming from the office, to do battle.
“No! No!” He hauled on the arm hefting him and not the axe. “They have guns. Guns.” What the hell was the word for gun in Telzhan? Jovin held his hand like a pistol and made pew-pew noises. “Bad men. Better to run. I think there’s another way out.”