Captain Hawk has searched solar systems for a female shape-shifter. As a Slaver, he knows they fetch the highest price, but Hawk isn’t looking for a shifter to sell. He wants one for himself, wants one for the beast lurking inside of him. The last thing he expects is to have a female given to him.
Phantom Warrior Opal never thought she’d find herself enslaved by a ruthlessly handsome shifter. As the Dark King’s right hand, she’d sworn to protect the Phantom people—even if that meant protecting the king from himself. Her misguided actions caused her to lose everything. Now Opal has to contend with a sexy Slaver who’s determined to tame her, but this feline isn’t going down without a fight.
THE DARK KING (Phantom Warriors 7/Atlantean’s Quest 5)|ARRIVAL (Atlantean’s Quest 1)|EXODUS (Atlantean’s Quest 2)|REDEMPTION (Atlantean’s Quest 3)|ATLANTEAN HEAT (Atlantean’s Quest 3.5)|THE RETURN (Atlantean’s Quest 4)|BACCHUS (Phantom Warriors 1)|SABER-TOOTH (Phantom Warriors 2)|TALON (Phantom Warriors 3)|ARCTOS (Phantom Warriors 4)|LINX (Phantom Warriors 5)|RIOT (Phantom Warriors 6) | PIT FIGHTER: CAGE
Some days, being the captain of a slaver ship wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Sure, flying through space and kidnapping unsuspecting women was thrilling, but most days were spent trying to find ways to kill time between planet jumps.
That’s what Hawk was doing today, as he found himself strolling across the cavernous cargo bay to the row of doors along the ship’s hull.
He went straight to the containment unit on the end and peered into the holding tank where his favorite slave resided. She was seated on the floor with one long leg bent and her arms resting on her knee. Her head hung forward like she was asleep, causing her dark, shoulder-length hair to obscure her face. But Hawk knew she wasn’t. She always knew the precise moment he arrived.
Unlike the other slaves he had, this one hadn’t been captured. The Dark King had given her to him. Which was probably why she hadn’t bargained for her life or offered her body in exchange for her freedom.
Not that Hawk had expected the woman who’d betrayed her king to roll over so easily, but he was surprised. And perhaps, a tiny bit disappointed.
Opal…her name hinted at her rarity and conjured all kinds of fantasies.
Fantasies he intended to live out—once he tamed her.
Thus far, getting Opal to bend to his will hadn’t been as easy as he’d anticipated, but Hawk had a new plan. One that would push her control to the very limits. He glanced at the room on the other side of the cargo bay.
It was a special room. A room he’d personally designed for this exact situation. The space held unique equipment. Equipment geared to handle the most stubborn of slaves…and the wildest females.
No one had ever left that room without begging him to ease their suffering. No one. Eventually, everyone surrendered.
Hawk had no plans to injure this woman or any of the others occupying the nearby cells. No, he intended to use the tools in the room to explore Opal’s limits. He planned to take her through galactic levels of pleasure, and if need be, staggering realms of frustration. Hawk was prepared to do whatever it took to tame her because he had no intention of releasing her.
“Why don’t you just go in there and command her to obey?” his First said as he came up beside him in the cargo hold. “You’re the captain. She has to listen.”
For all his experience, Fallon knew nothing about women. He was from a planet where all the females were subservient. The males took their behavior for granted and believed women of every species should follow suit.
If the men on his planet wanted a female, they simply went to her family and demanded that she be given to them. With the men’s war-like natures, that wasn’t always the best course of action to take, but they accepted that it was the way things were done.
Hawk glanced at the green-skinned man beside him. “Your horns are sticking up.”
Fallon’s yellow gaze shot up to see, even though it was physically impossible to do so. “I just sharpened them. Thought I might pick out a female to test them on later.”
Hawk’s dark brow rose, along with the beast lurking inside of him. Fallon’s horns could be used for pleasure or savagery, depending on where he stuck them in a woman. “And you thought this one would do?” Hawk asked. It was a simple question that was loaded with Zaronian explosives.
Fallon’s yellow eyes narrowed and his green skin darkened. “I’m not that foolish,” he said. “Everyone knows this slave is yours, Captain.”
She was…and his First had better not forget it. If he stuck Opal with those horns, Hawk would rip them off his head and shove them where they were bound to hurt.
Hawk’s lips twitched. “You know I don’t play favorites with my chattel,” he said, which had been true until Hades, The Dark King had given him Opal. Ever since she’d landed on his ship, she’d occupied much of his free time, but she’d yet to grace his rest pad.
“True.” Fallon stroked his horns, testing the tips’ sharpness. “But she isn’t exactly our usual cargo.”
He was right. As a shifter, Opal was unique and extremely valuable. Sure, she had done her best to set up the woman who’d captured the Dark King’s heart. She would have succeeded too, if she hadn’t underestimated the King’s feelings for the golden-haired Earthling.
Hawk had taken one look at the Dark King’s face when they were fighting and had known he’d go to war for that woman without batting a whisker.
As a Slaver, Hawk had no interest in war, but he did care about the credits his cargo would bring, which was why they’d had to raid two more planets after leaving Zaron.
The Phantoms hadn’t allowed them to leave with any female but this one. Hawk had seen what giving her to him had cost the Dark King, but the Phantom ruler had no choice. It was either act decisively or be seen as weak in front of his people.
Hawk knew something about that and had the scars to prove it. He tapped his finger on the front of Opal’s container. Her dark head never moved, but she did shift her lithe body giving him another tantalizing glimpse of her long legs. She never acknowledged his presence. It was a game they played. A game he was determined to win.
He closed the window to her door. “Have you set a course for the next solar system?”
“Yes, Captain,” Fallon said. “We’re just awaiting you on the flight deck.”
“Well, let us wait no longer.” Hawk glanced once more at the closed door before striding toward the transport cylinder.
“She’d fetch a fair price on Farn. They’re always looking for pets,” Fallon said. “Her cat form would make a good one.”
“That it would,” Hawk replied. “If she were for sale.”
Fallon smartly kept his silence.
“Have her transferred to the pleasure room,” Hawk said.
Fallon blinked in surprise, then his face carefully blanked. “Yes, Captain.”
* * * * *
Opal knew he was there. Felt him lurking outside her cell like a big cat stalking its cornered prey. Hawk came to her every day. Had been ever since he’d taken her captive. He never said anything to her directly. He simply stared at her like the predator he was and waited.
For what? She had no idea.
She could still recall the moment she’d laid eyes on the Slaver. Opal had been crouched in a tree, when Hawk stepped out the door of his ship. His long black hair had been braided at the sides of his head and tight leather pants hung low on his trim hips, exposing a sliver of his light blue skin.
He’d looked right at her cat form with those golden eyes of his and seen straight through her. Opal could still feel the heat of that stare on her skin. The distance didn’t diminish Hawk’s presence then, and it sure as heck wasn’t now, even though he was on the other side of the metal door.
One glance had told her that Hawk was going to be trouble. Her first instinct was to run for her life, but Opal rarely listened to her gut when it came to men. She’d always been drawn to dark ones. The more dangerous they were, the more alluring she found them.
It was why she’d worked so hard to become part of the Phantom Warrior royal guard. She’d found Hades, the Dark King attractive and was determined to get close to him. Opal had succeeded in more ways than one. She’d become Hades’ right hand, a position normally reserved for men, and over time, ended up sharing his rest pad. Too bad the latter position turned out to be temporary.
Her obsession with the Dark King had cost Opal her position, her home, and her freedom, which was why she found herself here on this ship, under the watchful eye of a handsome Slaver.
The constant observation was beginning to get to her. Opal wasn’t sure what she was going to do about it, since she wasn’t exactly in a position to stop him, but it couldn’t go on.
What did he want?
Stupid question, she thought.
Opal knew exactly what Captain Hawk wanted from her. He wanted the coordinates to Earth. If that were all he wanted, they might be able to strike a mutually beneficial agreement, but he wanted so much more.
The only true mystery was why he hadn’t taken her yet. He was a Slaver after all. They weren’t known for their restraint or for their compassion. If he’d wanted her bound and on her knees, then that’s where she’d be—willing or not. Yet it had been a month and he had not made a move. All he did was watch.
Opal’s body tightened and her skin stretched as her cat side threatened to surface. The sensation was occurring more and more frequently—thanks to the sexy, dark-haired bastard continually prowling outside her door.
To get Hawk off her mind, Opal thought about Zaron and Hades. When she did, a fresh wave of anger struck. The Dark King had betrayed her.
Hades had left her to the Slavers with no thought of whether she’d live or die. It mattered not that she’d betrayed him first.
That was different. His motives were selfish. Hers were not.
Opal had done what she’d done for the Phantom people, even if the Dark King didn’t see it that way. Given the chance, she’d do so again. Which Opal supposed was why he’d abandoned her in the first place. And to think, she used to love him.
She snorted at her own foolishness. Time and distance had allowed her to re-evaluate her feelings and they’d come up severely lacking. If her experience with the Dark King had taught Opal anything it was that she couldn’t trust any man with her two hearts, whether she loved him or not. Captain Hawk may be darkly appealing, but trusting a Slaver was out of the question.
Opal glared at the door as the voices rose. Who was he talking to this time? She strained to listen, but their footsteps were already fading.
“She’d fetch a fair price on Farn,” the man said.
Fear swept through Opal. Farn was known for its skin trade, exotic pet market, and sex slavery. Was Hawk planning to kill her and sell off her parts? Or did he have something else in mind for her, something far, far worse than death?
Blood roared in her ears. Opal tried to catch Hawk’s response to the question, but the thick metal door and the distance muted his words.
How long would it take to reach Farn?
She didn’t know, which meant she’d have to come up with a plan fast. Unlike Hades’ new mate, Opal would do whatever it took to survive…even if that meant seducing the enemy.
Opal pictured Hawk lying naked on a rest pad and quivered. The shape-shifting Slaver had featured in far too many of her dreams.
Nightmares, never dreams. Nightmares.
On the surface, seducing him wouldn’t be a hardship, but the captain was no fool. He wouldn’t trust her no matter what she claimed, which was good since Opal didn’t trust him either.
Her cat might be ready to lift its tail up to his beast, but Opal would never allow her instincts to override her good sense. Not anymore.
The only thing working in her favor was that the Slaver desired her. Oh sure, he needed her to give him directions to Earth, but his lust was a strong motivating factor behind his daily visits.
Heat practically rolled off Hawk’s hard body when he was around her. Opal smiled coldly. She would play on his attraction. Convince Hawk that she wanted him, then the first opportunity she got, Opal would betray him and escape.
She glanced around her cell. There were only a few boxes of clothes and the basic necessities, but they were enough to work with, enough to catch a Slaver’s attention. If need be, she’d wear nothing.
After all, men were men. And if Opal knew anything, it was how to manipulate male shifters. She’d been doing it her whole life. She’d had no choice but to in order to get ahead in the Phantom patriarchal society.
She heard footsteps coming toward her containment pod. Was Hawk returning so soon? She dropped her head so she wouldn’t be caught looking his way if he peered through the viewer hatch.
The door to her cell opened suddenly, sending glaring light into the room, temporarily blinding her. When her vision cleared, Opal saw two men standing outside the door. Neither of which were Hawk.
The tall and lanky of the two had fair hair and violet-colored eyes. He smiled at her, flashing two-inch fangs. Despite the color of his eyes, Opal inhaled, expecting to catch the scent of a Phantom Blood Clan member. It wasn’t there. Whatever he was, he wasn’t from Zaron.
Her gaze shifted to the man beside him. Ice green eyes with snake-like pupils stared back at her. The man’s head was shaven and had been imprinted with a multitude of symbols. None of which she recognized.
“Come with us,” the fanged one said.
“Where’s Hawk?” she asked.
The symbols on the man’s bald head shifted and his green eyes narrowed. “That’s Captain Hawk to you, slave,” he snarled and his body pulsed with power.
The small wave hit her and Opal spasmed. Her eyes widened and her hearts began to pound. There was only one being that she knew of with that kind of power—a Sorce.
She’d never met one in person. Most people who did ended up dead. Opal tried to hide her fear, but wasn’t sure she succeeded. Magic wielders were some of the most lethal beings in the galaxy. Their skills as assassins were legendary.
“Where are we going?” her voice cracked.
Had Hawk ordered his men to kill her?
“Just get on your feet or we’ll bind you and carry you,” the fair-haired man said.
Opal reluctantly climbed to her feet. She wasn’t a coward and she wasn’t stupid. Fighting these two men would most certainly lead to her death, but warriors didn’t just roll over and die without a fight. If they planned to kill her, she wouldn’t make it easy for them.
Her fists clenched at her sides. “I’m standing. Now what?”
“This way.” The man’s violet-colored eyes began to glow.
As she watched, Opal’s head grew fuzzy and she found herself wanting to comply with his order. Her muscles strained to resist the compulsion, but it was no use. It was too strong. She walked into the cargo hold. A quick glance told her no one was around.
“Where are you taking me?” Opal clutched her temple and tried to focus. There was a reason she didn’t want to go with them. What was it?
“You’ll see.” The Sorce put a hand between her shoulder blades and shoved.
Opal stumbled forward but kept her feet under her. They didn’t go far. The men walked her to the other side of the hold and opened the lone door along the hull.
“Get in,” the Sorce said, watching her closely.
Opal poked her head in the door and saw a table with straps anchored to it and chains secured to the wall. Below the chains were…she squinted…various instruments.
It took her a moment to recognize what they were. Oh no. Not that. Opal took a step back. She didn’t get far before a strong hand came down upon her shoulder.
“I’m not going in there,” she snarled. Death was preferable to what Hawk and his men had planned for her.
She struggled, but the men simply picked her up and tossed her into the room. The one with the violet eyes looked at her.
“Stop,” he said.
One word was all it took for her world to fade to black.
# # #