“What are you doing?” he tried to say, but a warm, languid feeling was spreading over his body, and his limbs felt heavy and weak. He tried to speak again, but the words came out a garbled mumble as he sank deeper into the mattress, the darkness falling over him like a shroud.
* * * * Prince Jagger looked down at the big, beautifully muscled body of the Lycan with satisfaction. The sedative the doctor injected into his backside would keep him asleep for a few hours, long enough for Jagger to get some much-needed rest while he figured out what to do with his captive. Jagger hadn’t expected to take a hostage, but he hadn’t been able to bring himself to kill the goodlooking man. He was so big, and, Jagger suspected, very strong, though he had yet to show his strength. Was it some kind of trick? He’d never heard before of a Lycan being so docile and unresisting, and he couldn’t help but think there was some kind of deception going on. The man was gorgeous, that was for sure. Jagger had had a hard time keeping his hands off him, feeling an almost instant and powerful attraction, one reason why he’d come to the decision he had about him. He’d take care of the situation later, though. While his big Lycan was knocked out, he would take some time for himself.
Jagger had arrived back at the palace only hours earlier that morning, and he’d had no chance to bathe or even change clothes since they arrived. He’d been on training maneuvers with his army a few hours outside the city when the urgent message had arrived from his father. King Larius had told him of the shipment of bauxite, due to arrive later that day, with no money left in the country’s coffers to pay the traders for the shipment. Despairingly, the king had turned to his son to handle the situation for him. Since Jagger’s mother, the queen, had been taken by the Rogers six months before, his father had aged considerably, leaving more and more of his responsibilities and decisions to his son. Jagger was happy to help him, but hated the way grief over his mother had drained his father of his great former reasoning and strength. As long as they held her as a bargaining chip, his father gave in to any and all of the Rogers’ demands. The country had been practically beggared, paying the never-ending extortion money her kidnappers demanded.
Jagger longed to lead the Jayronian armies to attack them, but they’d threatened his mother with immediate and painful death should any such attempt be made. Still, something had to be done about the situation soon. His country was being bled to death by the kidnappers’ demands. Now the Jayronians themselves had stooped to becoming thieves and kidnappers to get the Rogers what they asked for, this shipment of bauxite. Jagger tightened his lips as he looked down on the prone figure on the bed. He hated this, but what choice did he have? Jayron had never been a member of the Alliance, and he doubted they would come to their aid now. His planet was poor and had no resources the Alliance needed. No, they were on their own, and Jagger felt the weight of the situation on his own shoulders.
Turning to the servants, he gave them their orders and strolled into the adjoining room. The death of his men weighed heavily on him, even though they’d disobeyed his command to keep back and let him take the lead. Still, the fault was his own, and he grieved for them and their families. Had the big Lycan not taken Jagger’s arm, he might have been the one trapped within the ship when it took off.
Unbuckling his belt and stripping off his clothes, he went to the adjoining marble-tiled room and stepped into the large bathing pool. The hot water soothed his tired muscles as he sank onto a bench on the side, laid his head back on the edge of the pool, and thought about his captive. Would he be able to control the man? He was so big and muscular. So far, he’d been surprisingly meek for a Lycan. Rumors abounded of the fierce Balanescu family and the Lycans’ ability to change their shapes into that of a wolf. Jagger thought the stories to be myths, but the family was powerful and still to be feared. That they would attack to regain their man, he had no doubt. First he thought they would negotiate, though, and he had to be ready. He needed to come up with a plan to hold off an attack and perhaps acquire the ransom money the Lycan had mentioned.
The Balanescus were a wealthy family and would no doubt be able to pay any amount to retrieve their own family member, but that might not be enough. After paying the ransom and regaining the man, would they not then take their revenge on his planet? And even if they didn’t, surely the word would be put out that the Jayronians were not to be trusted, and all shipments of goods to his planet would be cut off. That word would go out soon anyway, if it hadn’t already, and since the last devastating drought, his people were dependent on trade to obtain a large portion of their food sources. His father had made a terrible mistake in trying to steal the shipment from the Lycans in the first place, one he surely never would have made had he been thinking clearly. Now Jagger had to figure a way out, one that would save face for them, and perhaps assure them a continuing source of income for however long it took them to regain his mother. Once they had her safely in their hands again, he could figure out the next move.
In many ways, the Rogers had the perfect plan. Gain a valuable hostage and keep that hostage as insurance and as a source of revenue from the family. Could he do something similar with his captive? At the moment, he didn’t see many other options. That left only the question of what to do with him. Keeping him in a prison cell was an option, but seemed cruel—the man had been unresisting and had done nothing to warrant that so far. Jagger was already feeling guilty for the deception and attempted theft. The death of his soldiers was really Jagger’s fault—the Lycan had acted only to save his ship. No, to close the Lycan up in a dungeon cell would only serve to make Jagger feel worse.
One other option remained. For centuries, the royal family members on Jayron had owned slaves they called concubines, a personal servant who saw to their every need, including their sexual needs. In some societies, concubines were strictly sexual partners, but not on Jayron. On this planet, there was no particular preference for either male or female, and males were even said to make the best concubines, once properly trained. They could act not only as valets and sexual partners, but bodyguards. Concubines in his country’s war-like past often came from other worlds and were usually high-born males.
His father and mother had foregone the use of body slaves because of their personal attachment to each other, but he still remembered his grandfather being attended by a beautiful and exotic slave he had captured in a long-ago skirmish with the Tygerian planet. The man was large, like his Lycan, with lovely golden skin marked with black stripes. His grandfather, they said, had a hard time taming the Tygerian, and kept him always on a silver leash attached to a shock collar, sitting by his feet. The golden-haired Tygerian had acted as his grandfather’s protector, and was quite fierce, it was said. He would allow no one except his grandfather to touch him, and it was further said that the sounds of their lovemaking were legendary. They must have had real love between them, though, because when his grandfather died, the Tygerian was inconsolable. He was given his freedom, per his grandfather’s wishes, and was sent back home to his own people.
If Jagger could make this Lycan his own concubine, it would serve a two-fold purpose. It would keep him close, so Jagger could watch him, and it would be humiliating enough for the Lycans that they may keep it quiet, and not allow word to get out. Jagger could use him as a safeguard against an attack, like the Rogers were doing with his mother, and the Lycans could pay for the captive’s continuing survival, thus relieving the monetary burden on his own people. Besides that, the Lycan was very handsome. The thought of him wearing a shock collar and being led around on a leash made Jagger’s cock rise. The only problem was Jagger wasn’t sure he could pull it off. Shock collars were cruel, and he had no wish to hurt his captive, though he would have to find some way to control him. The Lycan was huge and powerful, though his demeanor so far had been meek. He wondered if there was something wrong with him—if so, his family may not want him back at all. On the other hand, it could all be a trick.
The prince sat up and reached for the soap by the edge of the pool. He needed to bathe and then get some sleep so he could think clearly about all this. Something told Jagger the Lycan may not be as biddable as he seemed. He certainly hadn’t seemed frightened, even when Jagger had his sword at his throat. Instead he’d seemed quite calm—almost too calm. Jagger thought he might just have his work cut out for him in the days to come.
The softness under Nikolai’s body made him snuggle closer into the covers for a moment before the memory of where he was came back to him with a sudden jolt. He sat up, rubbing his forehead. What the hell had been in that shot they gave him? It had knocked him on his ass and left him with a nagging headache, whatever it was. He looked down at himself in dismay. The hood and the ropes had been removed, thank the gods, right along with his clothing. He looked around for it, but it was nowhere to be seen. He was in a huge bed right in the center of a large, luxuriously appointed room. There was dark red carpeting on the floor and rich, velvet wall hangings on every wall. A large window let in sunlight on the far wall, so either it was still daylight outside or he’d slept the clock around. From the way he felt, the latter was more than likely the case, and the light filtering in was the pale sunlight of early morning.
He felt a pressure on his left ankle and threw back the covers to see it circled with a heavy silver cuff. The chain attached to the cuff led over to the nearby wall, leaving him just enough slack that he could roll over in bed, but that was about it. He tested the chain, finding it stronger than it looked, but he thought he could break it without much difficulty. He also had something around his neck, and as his fingers moved up to touch it, he felt a metal collar, about an inch wide and padlocked with a tiny lock.
Chained naked to a bed, wearing a slave collar—it seemed he found himself in an interesting situation, especially if his pretty little mate was the one who held the keys. Nikolai lay back down and smiled. Now if only he weren’t so blasted hungry, he might be able to enjoy this. As if his thoughts conjured them up, the door opened and several servants came in carrying trays of food. The smells made his stomach growl, and he sat up and watched them with interest. They seemed to all be Jayronian, with their long, straight blue hair and the same tunic-style clothing. They barely glanced over at Nikolai, placing the food on a table near the window, just out of reach of his chain. Without a word, they turned and walked to the door. Nikolai narrowed his eyes. What kind of game was this? Were they planning on starving him, torturing him first with what looked like a feast just barely out of his reach?