Lynx watched her walk by, the unconscious sway of her hips making his mouth water. Her subtle fragrance drifted enticingly through the air, coming from the sweet spot between her thighs he longed to taste. Even through the long skirt made of woven synthi-wool, he could still scent her. She dressed different from the other barmaids at the Triple Sickle—dressed to deflect attention rather than attract it. The fact that she didn’t show any cleavage or even a hint of leg probably hurt her tips but Lynx got the sense that she didn’t care. He cared though—she had always been slender but since the last time he’d been in the bar, she was looking painfully thin. It had only been a few days since he’d last seen her and he wondered if she was getting enough to eat. Probably not on the salary she got here.
Catching her eye, he waved her over, pointing at his empty mug. She nodded briefly and threaded her way through the evening crowd of miners, grimy from their day underground in the platinum mines, and the other barmaids, all of whom were dressed in thigh-high skirts and see-through blouses, the better to show off their assets. Lynx knew that some of them worked overtime on their backs after the Triple Sickle closed but she wasn’t one of them. If she was, it would make his life a hell of a lot easier. Then again, if she was easily available to anyone who wanted her, he would probably have had to kill half the damn settlement.
He had already had to make an example of one grabby bastard who couldn’t keep his hands to himself where she was concerned and then there was the matter of the Bent-head who had attacked her… Lynx shook his head. She didn’t know about that and it was better she never found out. He hadn’t meant to kill the man but he couldn’t help himself. Even though Lynx had never even laid a hand on her yet, her scent provoked his protective and possessive instincts so strongly that just seeing another man touch her arm while she refilled his mug made him flinch.
He watched her as she made her way toward him. The clink of thick, copper-bottomed mugs and the low, trollish laughter of the regulars filled the air, along with the yeasty scent of hops the humans used to make their ale. In a tavern like this, a human-owned and -operated one, he wouldn’t have been welcome without his wealth and power. But even Mama Trash, the owner and an acknowledged Xorn-hater, didn’t dare to deny him entrance, though she cut her eyes at him and sneered when he appeared at his usual table every third night. Lynx had a reputation for ruthlessness and even the roughest regulars of the Triple Sickle left him strictly alone.
Lynx never spoke to anyone but her and he never allowed any other barmaid to serve him. He only came every third night because that was as much as he could stand—her scent drove his body into a frenzy of needing and it was all he could do to sit still and watch quietly while she worked.
At last she stood beside him, the thick-bottomed pitcher filled with dark brown ale clutched in one hand. Lynx could see the tendons in her slender wrist stand out with the strain of holding the heavy vessel as she poured, but her hand didn’t tremble. She was strong—she had to be to survive in this kind of environment that was alien to everything she knew, everything she was used to. He knew about her past, the way she’d been born to wealth and brought up in luxury only to lose it all in a cruel twist of fate, but none of that mattered now. What mattered was that she was here beside him, close enough to touch. Close enough to smell.
Lynx couldn’t help himself. Leaning slightly toward her, he inhaled deeply, drawing her into his lungs. The scent of the alcohol filled his senses but it couldn’t drown out her fresh, sweet musk. Goddess above, it made him so thirsty, her female spice. He could drink a thousand pitchers of ale and none of them would slake his parched thirst. He needed different nourishment for that.
“That’ll be a credit fifty,” she said in a clear, low voice, holding out her hand.
Lynx could have picked her heartbeat from a dozen others across a crowded room but he wanted her closer so he shook his head and frowned to indicate he hadn’t heard.
She bent closer to him, her long reddish-brown curls hanging down her pale throat and repeated the price over the noisy hum of the room. “A credit fifty.”
Deliberately taking his time, Lynx reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a cred chip. Cupping her soft hand in his, he pressed the hard plastic chip into her palm and closed her fingers around it. At once he felt her reaction. He had brushed her arm or hand once or twice when she poured his ale but he had never touched her so deliberately before, had never prolonged the contact. The skin-to-skin touch sent an explosion of emotion through her body, kindling her nerves like dry branches struck by lightning in an electrical storm. Fear was uppermost in her mind, he could feel it like a fence of jagged thorns keeping him at bay. But under it, so deep she probably didn’t feel it with her conscious mind, was desire. A warm flood of need to match his own, waiting to get out.
Lynx felt his heart thump like a hammer in his chest. His cock was suddenly stiff and aching, pushing hard against the confines of his pants as his body acknowledged what his soul had known all along. She was the one. Her reaction to him proved it beyond a doubt.
“Let go of me.” She kept her voice low even though she was so nervous he could hear her heart racing over the clink of mugs and the blast of what the humans called music filled the air.
Lynx released her wrist and she stepped back, rubbing it as if he’d hurt her, though his grip had been loose. Her face betrayed no emotion but he could taste her relief like a bitter spice at the back of his throat. Relief that he was no longer touching her? Or relief that the flood of need swelling inside her body had receded when he withdrew his hand? She looked down at the chip.
“This is a fifty. I don’t have that much change.” She held it out to him with her fingertips, careful to keep at an arm’s length this time.
“Don’t want change,” Lynx grunted, waving it away. “Keep it.”
“I don’t want your charity.” She frowned, an expression that centered in her deep brown eyes.
“Who said anything about charity? It’s called a tip. You need it so keep it.” Lynx scowled back at her. She paled but held her ground.
“What makes you think you know what I need?” She held out the chip insistently. “Take it back and give me something smaller. Mama Trash will take the price of your ale out of my wages rather than change such a large chip.”
Cursing, he took back the fifty and dug out a twenty instead. Slapping it on the sticky tabletop, he stood, towering over her. She flinched and took a step backward at his sudden motion. Xorn were roughly ten times stronger and faster than humans—a trait he tried not to show if he could help it. But her stubborn refusal to take the credit, when he knew she needed it, irritated him into revealing his speed and power.
“I know everything about you,” he told her. Reaching out, he cupped her pale, too-thin cheek in one large palm, drawing a gasp from her lips. “Especially what you need,” he rumbled softly. He dropped his hand before she could jerk away and made his way through the crowd of muttering humans to the exit. Eyes narrowed and mouths snarled at every turn, but even the most hardened miners stepped aside when they saw the slow burn in his slitted amber eyes and felt the menace he sent out in a cold blast before him. It was a cheap trick, projecting his emotions, but Lynx wasn’t in the mood to deal with a fight right now. Especially not with some puny human who wanted to make a point about how superior their species was to a filthy Xorn.
He stopped at the double doors and looked back, catching her gaze with his own and holding it, not letting her look away until he was ready. She trembled where she stood, as though he was touching her, and suddenly he couldn’t help himself. He sent a tendril of lust to lick around her ankles and climb her thighs. Between her legs he could feel her nectar start to flow. She gave a muted gasp and pressed her knees together as though to stop it, but there was no stopping a Xorn when he was in need and Lynx very definitely was. The Thirst was on him so strongly he could barely see.
He concentrated, making her pussy hot and wet, feeling her inner cunt grow swollen and slick with desire, increasing her flow until he knew she felt like a dam had burst between her thighs. Goddess, how he longed to drink from that fount, to bury his face between her slim legs and slake his thirst while she cried and writhed under him, giving herself to him utterly.
At last he released her gaze and watched as she groped for a chair to lean against, her knees trembling slightly under the long skirt. He’d never gone so far before—never made her flow the way he had just now—and the look on her face was unadulterated fear. The thorns around her mind were back, a triple thickness of jagged spikes this time, and Lynx cursed himself for a fool. He’d gone too far and frightened the hell out of her. He wanted to shoulder his way back through the crowd and scoop her up in his arms. Wanted to take her home with him and tend her there. If he could get her alone, away from these crowds of her own kind he knew he could make her need him the way he needed her.
He closed his eyes, briefly imagining it. He would lay her on his sleeping platform and suck her clit into his mouth, lapping at her pussy until she flowed like a river. He would use a spreader to open her cunt lips wide so that he could drink easily, with nothing in the way of her gush of sweet nectar until he was satiated at last. Her emotions would nourish him too, if she could only let the thorns around her heart bloom into petals and open up to him. And in time she would learn the hunger and thirst herself and he would nourish her as well.
The angry murmurs of the miners around him brought him out of his daydream and Lynx sharply suppressed the urge to go back to her. As strong as he was, he couldn’t fight an entire bar full of irate human males and there was no doubt they would riot if they thought he was taking one of their own for his pleasure. Turning from the dim lights and smoky atmosphere of the Triple Sickle, he stepped out into the night, away from her maddening scent.
He’d never expected to find the one he was looking for here on a Goddess-forsaken mining colony at the ass-end of the galaxy. Hell, after what he’d been through in the past, he’d never expected to find the one who was right for him at all, but she was it. Now if only he could find a way to make her his. It was clear she wouldn’t respond to his money or power so there had to be another way.
Lynx clenched his big hands into fists and stared up at the three moons that kept an erratic orbit around the benighted planet he called his home. There had to be a way to bring her to him of her own free will—without just picking her up and throwing her over his shoulder, as tempting as that prospect was. Now that he’d found her, his thirst grew every day. His need for her was grinding, spearing him with a pain so sharp it couldn’t be denied. He had to have her and it had to be soon.
He had to drink his fill.
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