“Yeah… she is.”
She reached up and toyed with his earlobe. “I hope she knows how lucky she is.” She leaned forward to blow and whisper in his ear. “For the record… you’re passing on one of the best f**ks of your life.”
He almost whimpered as she walked away and headed for another guy. Sway’s right, I am a woman. Even worse, I’m whipped by someone I haven’t even kissed.
Disgusted, he turned around and knocked his drink back with one gulp, then motioned for the bartender to return. “Keep them coming until I’m unconscious.”
Alix lowered herself from the engine well and descended the ladder. That repair had been a pain in the butt. But at least it was done. Wiping the grease from her hands, she used her elbow to push the button to close the hatch.
She was so intent on making sure it sealed, she was oblivious to everything around her.
At least until someone grabbed her from behind.
Assuming it was Devyn, Vik or Sway messing with her, she didn’t react until rough hands squeezed her br**sts.
“What are you doing here all alone? Stealing parts from someone’s ship for your father?”
Alix’s blood went cold at the sound of a voice that sickened her. Irn Soilent. The man who’d ruined her father and had cost them everything.
He tightened his grip on her, his hand sliding inside her shirt. “Now where’s that whore sister of yours? I still want a piece of her before someone else beats me to it.”
Shrieking in outrage, she attacked him.
Irn cursed as she busted his lip with her fist. “You worthless slut!” He returned her blow with one that caught her along the jaw. Her head snapped back so hard, it dazed her for a moment.
Until he went to hit her again.
She punched him in the stomach, wishing she had a weapon to carve his fetid heart out of his chest.
“Get her!” he snarled at the men who were standing nearby.
Alix panicked as she realized there were ten of them altogether. And while she was good in a fight, she couldn’t win against that number.
She ducked the first one to reach her and ran for the ship’s ramp. Another man cut her off.
Kneeing him in the groin, she shoved him away. But before she could step past him, a huge burly bear of a man grabbed her from behind and lifted her off her feet. He slung her around to face Irn, who glared his hatred at her.
Irn spat blood on the ground. “You’re going to pay for that, bitch.”
Alix tried to kick and twist out of their hold, but couldn’t do anything more than hurt herself. Even so, she didn’t let up as they laughed at her.
“Since when did you get discriminating?” Irn passed an evil smirk at the others. “I know she don’t look like much, but trust me, there’s enough of her to satisfy us all, and it’s free for our taking.” He moved to kiss her. Shrieking in anger, she tried to turn her face away.
He grabbed her chin to hold her still while the man behind tightened his grip on her arms, keeping her locked between them.
Just as Irn’s lips would have touched hers, his head was jerked back and he was spun about to confront the devil himself.
Alix froze as she stared into the face of Devyn’s fury. This was the man Merjack had described. Cold. Lethal. Terrifying.
There was no mercy in his dark gaze. Nothing in his expression except the promise of death to those who’d pissed him off.
One man went for him. Devyn raised his arm, blocking the punch before he slugged the man so hard, he fell to the floor whimpering. The next one to attack was flipped over Devyn’s back. Devyn slammed him on the ground and twisted his arm, breaking it. The man screamed out in pain.
Devyn turned and caught the next burly attacker by the throat. He shoved him into two more before he whirled on Irn again and backhanded him.
The man holding her shoved her to the ground before he bellowed and rushed for Devyn.
Devyn ducked his blow, then head-butted him. There were no emotions on Devyn’s face as he pummeled the man.
She pushed herself up, but before she could rejoin the fight, Sway and Vik were there. Irn’s “friends” ran off, leaving the burly man who’d held her and the man Devyn was trying to kill—Irn.
Sway pulled him off Irn. “Let it go, Dev. You’ve almost killed him.”
Devyn stomped Irn one more time before he snatched him up from the ground. He dragged Irn to stand in front of her and held him there so that she could see the rivulets of blood that ran from his brow, temple and nose. “You apologize to her right now, you animal.”
“I ain’t apologizing to no whore.”
Rage descended over Devyn’s face to such a degree that she was sure he’d murder Irn where he stood. “You don’t ever treat a woman like that. You apologize to her or so help me I’ll gouge out your eyes and shove them down your throat.”
Irn whimpered before he glared at her with a promise in his eyes that one day he’d make her pay for this. “I’m sorry.”
Devyn slung him away. “Get out of here. If I ever see any of you again, you won’t live long enough to regret it.” He didn’t move until they were gone.
Then he whirled on Vik and Sway with a fury that made Alix take a step back. “Where the hell were you two?”
Sway’s eyes darkened as he tensed and stood his ground. “Don’t come at me with that, boy. You know better.”
But Devyn didn’t back off or back down. “Know better, my ass. She almost got raped while you two were jacking off. Why weren’t you out here watching her?”
Before they could speak, Alix intervened. “I told them I was all right on my own.”
Devyn scowled at her then. “You what?”
She held her throbbing arm to her side. It was sore from the way the burly man had grabbed and held her. All she wanted to do was go hide from his anger, but she couldn’t let Vik and Sway get into trouble over something as worthless as her. Determined to defend them, she steeled her spine. “Please don’t blame them. It was all my fault. I told them not to worry about me. There wasn’t anybody here at the time, and had there not been so many who attacked me, I could have handled it on my own. I’m really sorry I caused this to happen. I’ll be more careful in the future.”
Devyn’s heart lurched at her apology after the way she’d been so forcefully attacked. Her cheek was swollen with a bruise already forming under her left eye. And still her eyes blazed with restrained fury and pain.
He saw the shame in Vik’s and Sway’s gazes that she was protecting them. “You didn’t do anything to apologize for.”
“I should have been armed or called for help. It just happened so fast… I was caught off guard. I promise it won’t happen again, Captain.” She held her chin high, but even so he saw the tears in her eyes as she made her way back to the ship.
Sway shook his head. “I’m really sorry about this, Dev. I was talking to Claire. Had I known… You were right. I should have been watching her.”
Devyn clapped him on the back as his anger dwindled into some tender emotion he couldn’t even name. “Don’t worry about it. I’m mad at myself for not being here and taking it out on you two. I should have never left.”
Vik cleared his throat. “Speaking of… we better get out of here before one of the ass-kickees goes to the authorities and reports the assault. I don’t think any of us want to be arrested in Rit territory.”
Yeah, no kidding. That wouldn’t go well for any of them. “Good point. Let’s tel-ass while we all still have one.”
Alix leaned back against her closed door, shaking. That had been close on so many levels. What if Irn had told Devyn she was a slave? Had he not been so rattled by the ferocity of Devyn’s attack, he probably would have.
And Devyn ….
Now she knew the full extent of his abilities, and they were truly frightening. He’d torn through those men single-handedly.
Oh, my God…
What would he do to her if he ever learned her secret? An image of him stomping Irn went through her mind so clearly that it made her chest tight.
“I can’t believe you didn’t even get laid after all that. Damn, Dev, you’re an idiot.”
She froze as she heard Sway and Devyn walking past her room. “Don’t go there, Sway. I’m pissed enough.”
“You don’t smell pissed, you smell drunk. Are you?”
“Wouldn’t be if I’d gotten laid, but I needed something to take the edge off—not that it helped even a little. I swear to the gods I’m about to burst my seams.”
Sway laughed. “No wonder you tore them up the way you did.”
“They’re lucky I didn’t rip their arms off for touching her.”
Sway tsked. “You know there are ways of relieving that pain on your own.”
“It’s not the same, and you of all people know that. Gah, I don’t know how you stand it. I have a whole new respect for you. Actually, that’s not true. I still think you’re an idiot, but I’m too drunk to care right now.”
They continued talking, but she could no longer discern their words.
She stood in her room, floored by that revelation. So Devyn hadn’t slept with anyone while he’d been gone… For some reason, that thrilled her.
Don’t go there.
But she couldn’t help it. No man had ever defended her before. No man had ever cared who hurt her or slept with her.
Not even her own father.
Devyn had protected her from Irn and his fetid friends. That knowledge shattered something deep inside her. She tried to tell herself that he’d have done the same for any member of his crew. That it meant nothing to him, and yet.
“They’re lucky I didn’t rip their arms off for touching her.”
It was the kindest thing anyone had ever said about her. Holding those words close, she pushed herself away from the door and went to put ice on her swollen cheek. She’d barely reached her new cooling unit when she heard a light knock on her door.
She went to open it and found Devyn standing in the hallway, looking contrite.
Why? What did he have to apologize for?
“You need something, Captain?”
Devyn savored the deep contralto of her voice that made him even harder and more desperate for her. Damn, I am drunk. He held up his med kit. “I wanted to take a look at your cheek. Make sure they didn’t crack the bone.”
“It’ll be okay.”
“I’m a doctor, Alix. I want to see it and there’s no arguing with me.”
Alix blinked in confusion at his words, not sure she’d heard him correctly. “What?”
He gave an arrogant nod. “Certified and schooled in human, Andarion, Hyshian and Trisani medicine and surgery. I can go get the degree if you really want to see it. Now let me in.”
She stepped back, awed by yet another discovery where he was concerned. “Why would a doctor be a runner?”
He didn’t answer as he moved her to sit down on the chair beside her bed. Pulling a scanner from his bag, he ran it over the throbbing side of her face. She could smell the alcohol on his breath, but unlike with her father, she couldn’t tell he was drunk. He seemed completely sober.
Devyn tried not to think about how soft her skin was under his fingers as he gently tested the swelling on her cheek. It wasn’t broken, but they’d given her one hell of a bruise. He ground his teeth against the burst of anger that wanted him to tear them apart over it. “I should have killed those bastards.”
“I don’t think they’ll forget their encounter with you anytime soon.”
He didn’t respond as he ran his hand over her split lip. “Did they knock any teeth loose?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t have that much blood in my mouth.”
His rage darkened. The fact that she knew what to look for and that she wasn’t sobbing over what had been done to her made him wonder how many times she’d been hurt like this in her past. Obviously it was nothing new.
“If you want, I will go back and kill them.”
One brow shot up. “I don’t…” Alix caught herself before she finished that sentence. She’d started to say that she didn’t want him to go to jail because of her and yet, that was what she was about to do to him.
The hypocrisy stung her.
“You don’t need that trouble,” she finished weakly.
“All right. But if you change your mind, let me know and we’ll get ‘em.”
“Just how drunk are you?”
He flashed a devilish grin at her. “Enough that Vik wouldn’t let me launch the ship.”
She was completely amazed by that. “You really can’t tell you’ve had any drinks at all.”
“Yeah, I know. I get that from my dad. At least that’s what my mom tells me. I’ve actually never seen my father take a drink. But my entire family swears he was raging alcoholic for many, many years.”