Steampunked Lust, Book 3
by Corinne Davies
eBook ISBN: Unknown
Kassandra fled from Julian but the time has come to face her fears. Miguel’s passion still burns for Kassandra and Julien, and he hopes to build a future with them. Can the dominant trio set aside their natures to find a love that will span the skies and seas?
“Get the hell off my ship!” Kass pointed her pistol at the man who currently sat in the captain’s chair of the ship. Her chair.
It’d taken her years to finally make it through a day without thinking of him every moment. Now, he merely invaded her thoughts every other moment. Finding him here on her ship was more than she could handle. Especially after the raid she had just managed to get through.
She and the crew had been up before dawn to raid a slave den, which had gone all sorts of wrong. The original plan was for her to meet the Apollo after she finished with raiding the slave den, and the ship’s crew were going to give her a lift out of there. A garrison of soldiers had separated her from the Apollo’s captain, Liam, and his spouses, Tristan and Yzzi. Those soldiers should’ve been protecting the people but instead had been placed there to protect the monetary interests of a crooked government.
“I’m afraid it would be a rather long drop.” Julien Kincaid nodded at the large window, drawing her attention to the fact that they’d already flown up and away from the city.
“Be sure to grab a pair of wings before you leave, or not. Either way is fine with me.”
Julien looked up at her for the first time, and it took everything she had not to lower her eyes under his intense violet gaze. “Still as defiant as ever, Kassandra?”
She gave him a tight-lipped smile and lowered the gun. It was pointless to stand there pointing it at him when he knew as well as she did that she wouldn’t pull the trigger. Not yet anyways. She matched his tone and placed a hand on her hip. “Still as arrogant as ever, Julien?”
His reaction wasn’t anything like she expected. He tilted his head back and laughed. A loud, robust sound that made her long to fling herself in his lap and feel his arms around her. She actually took a step forward, and then she forced herself to stop and turn away. She’d fought long and hard to quash any memories of their life together. All this time and it felt like she’d left him yesterday.
“What are you doing here, Julien? More importantly, where am I dropping you off?” Kass glanced around and realized she didn’t recognize any of the men in the room. The moment she’d entered Julien held her complete attention, which had always been her greatest weakness.
“My men?” Please let them still live. Julien was completely capable of killing anyone who got in his way. He didn’t have a taste for cold-blooded murder when she knew him, but that was a long time ago. She’d left the Aphrodite and her crew on the outskirts of town and flown in with the Apollo. No matter how talented the pilots were, having two large air ships in close proximity would be too dangerous.
“Kassandra, I’m shocked you would think I’m mercenary enough to kill your crew simply because they follow your orders.” He brushed off the arm of her chair. “They’re very loyal. The moment they learned that your survival depended on their obedience, they followed orders and removed themselves to my ship.”
He flicked his gaze down to where she gripped the pistol still holstered at her hip. His expression looked cold and furious when he looked back up. “Other than a couple bruised egos, they’re all fine.”
She’d been relieved when she saw the Aphrodite pause overtop of her and drop the emergency harness. She’d been trapped behind a barricade and knew a dozen soldiers were about to find her. Thankfully, someone destroyed the entrance to the alley and stopped the soldiers from entering. She’d been trapped, but only for as long as it took her to strap in and be lifted out of there.
“Julien, I don’t know why you have decided to lower yourself from your ivory tower, but I have no interest in anything you have to say.” Having him on this ship was too much of a temptation. She longed for the safety she’d felt in his arms, but she wanted someone who loved her as much as she loved him, and Julien wasn’t capable of that.
“You can hold your petty insults to start.” He glanced over at one of his men and nodded. “Since I’m now in command of this ship.” He leaned back in the chair and stretched his feet out in front of him. “I’d say I’m taking you wherever the hell I want.”
“You wouldn’t dare! Aphrodite is my ship, Julien.” She needed it. This ship allowed her to help those who couldn’t help themselves. She spent all her time raiding slave dens, attempting to rescue those who’d been captured and sold.
“I gave it to you as a wedding present.”
His low voice sent shivers down her spine. She couldn’t be here with him right now. The memories she’d buried deep threatened to bubble up and leave her in a confused heap.
“So, to your point it is still mine.” She placed the pistol on the sideboard and started unbuckling the harness she was strapped into. She felt dirty and grungy and vainly wished that if she was to have this kind of face-off with this man, she could’ve been clean and dressed up. Clothing was her armor in more ways than one. “I don’t have time to play your games, Julien. Tell me which port to drop you off at and I’ll get you there safely.”
“I’m afraid, my dear, I’ve commandeered this ship for my own purposes. You will be going where I take you and closing your lovely mouth before I gag you.”
With practiced ease Kass pulled her second pistol out of her holster and pointed it at the man in the chair. Only he wasn’t in the chair any longer. The weapon was knocked out of her hand by a swift strike to her wrist by a walking stick.
She’d still been wearing her gauntlets so the strike didn’t hurt, but the shock made her drop the gun. It clattered to the deck with a metallic clang but didn’t discharge. Julien grabbed her and lifted her up against the wall, pinning her to the surface with his body. His face was inches from her, but she would be damned if she gave in to the need clawing its way up from the dark recesses of her heart.
“You have no rights to this body, Julien. I took them back when I left you, unless you have now escalated to rape in order to assuage your baser needs.”
His carefully cultured mask shifted slightly, and she had a peek at the fury her words raised in him. With her heart beating wildly in her chest, she took calm breaths in the hopes of hiding what she felt being in his presence. Julien let her go immediately and she dropped to her feet. “Stay out of my sight for a while, Kassandra. I won’t touch a single inch of your body until you beg me for it.”
“You’ll never touch me again.” The moment the words left her mouth she realized her mistake. Throwing down a challenge like that to Julien was like waving a red flag in front of a bull.
“Leave us,” he snapped, his eyes never leaving hers. She stepped to the side and he followed her step for step, a predator stalking his prey. She heard the soft woosh as the door closed behind the two other men in the room.
“Now that we have some privacy, you and I can have a discussion two years too late.”
“We have nothing to discuss, Julien, except when you’re going to get off my ship.” Kass continued to step sideways. This was her ship and she knew every inch of it. She could walk it blindfolded and never bump into anything. Julien maintained a few feet between them but continued to stalk her. His violet eyes had darkened, and he watched her like a shark. She remembered his predatory instinct was what drew her to him in the first place. He was protective of those he cared about and had the ability to hunt and decimate anyone he viewed as a threat.
“Kassandra, I want you back.”
Simple words but they hit her chest like a punch. How many nights did she lie in a cold bed wishing he’d come for her, at the same time terrified he would? But, he never did. She grew and evolved and wasn’t the person he’d known. She’d never go back to being the helpless waif who was afraid to live. “No. Our union ended years ago when I left and you let me.”
She watched as confusion flickered over his features for a brief moment before disappearing behind the predator’s gaze again. “You left me without a word of explanation.”
“We were handfasted for a year and a day…a long time ago.”
“You left the day before our anniversary.”
She remembered why she left. Walking into a room and catching him…No, don’t think of it.
“I want to know why.”
“It was a long time ago. It means nothing now.”
As fast as a shark, he surged forward and grabbed her. “It means everything.” He snarled, squeezing her upper arms. He held her tight but not tight enough, and she wasn’t the helpless woman he remembered.
She surged back, dropping her weight against his grip. It threw him off balance, and she kicked out a leg, knocking his foot out from under him. She grasped his arms and jerked herself down, using the momentum to throw him over her shoulder. She might have caught him off guard, but it wouldn’t keep him down. He rolled when he hit the deck. She made it to her feet a sparse moment before he did.
Julien pulled at his neckcloth and jacket, tossing them to the floor. There was a primal edge to his features she’d never seen before. He slowly rolled his sleeves, exposing his muscular forearms, and paced in a countercircle to her. “Impressive, you’ve learned a few things over the years.”
“You have no idea.” She purred. One important thing she learned was a strategic retreat. She couldn’t win this fight. He was too angry, and tension vibrated off him like an engine about to roar to life.
Decision made, she grasped two small beads attached to her gauntlet and threw them at his feet. They exploded on impact. The bright flash would blind him and a cloud of foul gas would make his eyes water. She was running before they even hit the floor. The door opened and the two men rushed into the room. Kass held her breath, tucked in behind the last one, and ran out into the hallway.
“Kassandra!” Julien’s voice echoed down the hallway, spurring her on.
Three steps past the stairs down was a brass support column. Kass jumped for it. The momentum swung her body around and she almost slipped. Her hands were sweating so bad that if she didn’t have gloves on she never would’ve been able to hold on. She had a brief second to see the surprised looks on their faces as she twisted her legs around the pole before she allowed gravity to pull her down. This pole went straight down the two levels to the lower deck, and she hit the bottom running. The pole was thick enough to support her weight but she knew the men wouldn’t dare risk it. She knew she’d gained a moment or two and that would have to be enough.
The lower deck was sectioned off, and she locked the door behind her when she dodged into the wing room. Yanking on the release lever caused the outer door to slowly slide open with a groan. She gripped one of the handles as the pressure in the room shifted slightly. The wind roared around her as the launchpad extended. Each section slid out with a metallic clang as it locked into place. She hated the idea of leaving her home, but her crew was her priority. Ship be damned, she’d regroup and plan. Julien couldn’t have whisked them away too far yet. She’d call in every favor ever owed her to get her crew back. If Julien wanted a war, she’d give him one. He was too arrogant to think she’d win, but she knew right where to hit him.
Large feathered wings hung on the walls like birds waiting to be brought to life. As the door slid further open the winds whistled, and the feathered tips rustled violently. Kass’s head pounded, and her fingers trembled as she slipped into a harness the wings were attached to. Thumping echoed from the door, alerting her to the fact she didn’t have much time left. The door would only hold back Julien for a second. In fact she wondered why he was bothering to pound on it, unless he’d completely lost his temper. Even more reason not to be here when he gets through.
A shadow caught the corner of her eye, alerting her, but before she could react, a heavy weight landed against her, pushing her up against one of the wings. A wave of spiced vanilla and smoke wafted over her. She remembered his scent. It still haunted her dreams. He pressed against her, locking her arms in front of her. Kass whipped her head back, hoping to knock Julien loose. She knew it was him. His scent, the feel of his hot breath against her neck brought back a hurricane of memories. Panted urges and soft caresses, whispered laughter in the dark, the feeling of belonging…then the pain of knowing she wasn’t enough.
“Kass, stop fighting me.”
“Never.” She kicked back, gritting her teeth as she went on the offensive and tried to break his grip. Part of her knew it was a fruitless effort, because under all the refined elegance Julien showed the world was a powerful man more than able to subdue her. He countered every move she made, which infuriated her further. One mistake was all she needed to break away from him.
“I didn’t want it to be like this.” He pulled her arms behind her, and she heard a sharp snick that sealed her fate. He lifted off her, but she couldn’t move her arms. Binders incased both arms from wrist to elbow, locking them together and behind her back. She could still fight, but if she fell she’d injure herself and wouldn’t be able to defend herself. Julien turned her around and searched her face while rubbing her upper arms. Kass panted, her heart slamming so hard out of fear that she struggled to catch her breath.
She’d no idea what Julien saw in her features, but he drew her close to him. Wrapping his arms around her, he rubbed her back between her shoulder blades, mumbling soft words against her hair until she calmed enough to understand what he was saying.
“Keep your breathing even, Kass. You’re safe.”
She yanked out of his arms, furious for losing control of her fears. Julien let her create some space between them but didn’t let her go too far. “I didn’t want to use them.”
Kass refused to look at him. Wearing the binders confused her. The terror she felt at first had morphed into something different. Something comforting, which confused her more than her reactions to Julien. Avoiding Julien’s gaze, she looked along the wall and noticed the locking mechanism on the door was still activated and the door was closed.
The launchpad was still open and the wind whipped around them. She darted a look up at him. “Did you scale the outside of my ship, in flight? You really are insane!”
“You didn’t give me much choice.” He moved to the launchpad and tripped the lever, which made it fold back up into itself, and the outer door rolled back into place. The doors sealed with a hiss, then deafening silence descended over the room. Kass backed up against the wall for balance. With her arms encased she could still use her legs, and she would.
Right now all she could do was fight because she could never allow herself to fall under his spell again. Julien turned and his eyes narrowed slightly. The wind had wreaked havoc on his tightly restrained hair. Dark strands had pulled loose from his queue and now hung down, framing the aristocratic, chiseled features of his face. He looked more like a Highland lord rather than a Roman nobleman now. His eyes blazed and he reached down and rubbed the generous erection pushing his kilt forward.
Her cunt wept in memory of what he felt like stretching her to the point of pain, but she only ever felt the most exquisite pleasure in his bed. He’d been sweet and caring, until the night she found her bed empty and went searching for him. He’d held a whip in hand and flicked the weapon over the skin of a man strapped to a post. If that didn’t shock her enough, she stumbled across the scene as the prisoner screamed out his pleasure. Kass still remembered the man spurting out his seed onto the floor in front of him. At the time she didn’t understand any of it. All Kass saw was her husband using a whip on another human being.
She’d been so horrified she ran from him and then kept running. Every time she heard a rumor Julien was close, she pulled up the anchors and moved. After a few months he stopped chasing her. She used every waking moment raiding slave dens and rescuing people so they wouldn’t suffer what she had. It’d been over two years since she saw him last. She’d learned a lot while living on her own and knew she could never be what he wanted. Innocent little slave girl Kassandra was gone.
Kass would never allow another man to rule her. She pulled on the binders encasing her arms and tried to hold on to the fury that was starting to wane. When she started infiltrating the slave dens by posing as a buyer, she learned a great deal about the slave trade. Not all men were evil creatures bent on inflicting as much pain on another human as they could. Slavers on the other hand were a vile species. She wouldn’t rest until she eradicated them from the earth.
Julien watched her posture and marched over to the door. “Kassandra, you and your entire crew are coming back to Atlantis with me.”
“Why? Did you whip all your slaves into the ground already?”
“What did you say?” He whipped his head around and strode over to her. She tried to kick out her foot and hit him in the face, but he caught her leg and pushed it back toward the floor. Crowding her against the wall, he used his body to pin her. The pressure of his body against the binders at her back made her pant, and shivers raced down her spine. She knew what he was capable of but didn’t understand why she felt driven to prod at him.
What was said couldn’t be unsaid. Taking a deep breath, she lifted her chin and met his gaze. “You heard me.” She refused to cower at his feet pleading for mercy. Even though a small voice in the back of her head was begging for exactly that and she was terrified he might see it in her eyes.
Julien’s gaze heated and his nose flared at her defiance. “Kassandra, do not push me.”
“Why not? Are you planning on whipping the skin from my back, too?”
Julien slapped his hand against the wall next to her shoulder. The sound made her jump, but she refused to drop her eyes. “Yes, I may do that.” He leaned forward until his lips were almost touching hers. “Only I’ll leave your creamy skin intact and have you screaming my name as your delicious juices paint your thighs.”
“Never.” Kass planned to shout the word in his face, but it escaped her lips in a soft whisper.
Julien pressed his hand to her thigh and boldly slid it up to her hip, pressing against her hip bone with his thumb. “If I dip my hand between your legs, will I find you wet and waiting for me?”
Kass clenched her teeth together and glared at him. She could feel how wet she was, but nothing would get her to admit it to him.
“Won’t you bend a little bit for me, Kassandra?” He pressed a chaste kiss to her cheek. “I’ll have you screaming my name, precious.” He whispered the endearment against her skin, reminding her of a time when she clung to him for strength, but she could stand on her own two feet. She didn’t need him anymore. Keep lying to yourself.
Julien lifted his hands to her upper arms and pulled her from the wall. As soon as he stepped away from her, she missed his presence. The reality of the situation hit her. She really was going back to Atlantis, against her will. “Where’s my crew?”
“They should be docking with Atlantis shortly before us,” Julien replied as he unlocked the door. Two large men stood in the hallway.
“Kassandra, let me introduce you to Gabriel and Raphael, also known as Gabe and Raz. Geoffrey is the one flying the ship at the moment.”
Julien introduced her to the pair as if she was an honored guest and not a prisoner on her own ship. They were identical twins and Kass quickly looked back and forth between them, trying to figure out what the difference between them could be.
The one on the left grinned. “Go ahead and try, ma’am. But, there’s no difference.”
Kass eyed him as if he was an errant child up to mischief. “That’s ‘Captain’ to you, and you have a scar on you left hand your brother doesn’t.”
Gabe and Raz blinked at each other in amazement and then turned back to look at her with a small amount of respect in their eyes.
“Never underestimate a woman, especially my wife.” Julien’s laugh echoed down the hallway, making Kass’s heart pound. She’d forgotten how much she loved that sound.
“I’m not your wife anymore.” Kass tried to kick at him, but he grasped her upper arm and guided her down the hallway. “I trust you can manage the stairs, or have you figured out a faster way back up to the upper deck?”
“Nothing I’ll ever tell you.”
Gabe and Raz followed them down the hallway. Kass took no small amount of pleasure from the fact that Julien needed help to keep an eye on her.
Julien smirked at her. “Hold tight to those secrets, Kassandra, and we’ll see how many of them I’ve claimed by the week’s end.”
“Hold tight to your delusions, Julien.” Kassandra lifted her chin and quickened her pace as she navigated the stairs. “I’ll be long gone by the end of the week.”