There Be Mature Content Here
Please be advised that the following is intended for mature readers only.
Pyxis the Restrained
“Looks like someone blowtorched your crap cabin,” Jo says.
“Wooden cabin,” I say as Jo, Rez, and I watch the tiny stick dwelling smolder.
Rez shrugs her ‘whatever’ shrug. “It went up like a flaming turd, Pyx.”
I nod. “Because of all the air and shit.”
Rez huffs a laugh.
Jo, though, turns and narrows her eyes at me. “Are you shitting us, Fanboy?”
Of course I am. I’m giving Jo and Rez hollow answers rather than telling them that I could give a shit about the cabin.
Well, that’s not true.
I care about the cabin as much as Luna cares about it.
Only, I don’t know how much Luna cares because as soon as we’d arrived, Joia’d sent Luna away to grab something from The Tower.
Yes, Luna’s eyes had been wide open in shock, and she’d immediately gasped a breathy, sympathetic ‘Oh, Pyx.’ But her response had been focused on me. I want to know how she feels about all her work—literally—going up in flames.
I tilt my faceplate down to gaze at Jo. She’s glaring up at me, and now there’s this prickly silence between us. So I carefully give Jo another answer.
“Well,” I gesture with a head cant, “we are right by the shitters.”
Jo stares at me. Blinks. Then she growls—something about being ‘tried of all this shit’—as she lunges at me.
Rez snatches her, dragging her back. “I’m tagging in here, Joia.”
I watch Rez give Jo a knock on the shoulder then shove her away. I glance down at my upper arm expectantly.
I mean, I won’t feel Rez’s bitty fist, but still. It would be nice to be included.
Rez, as if she knows this, rolls her eyes and knocks me on the shoulder too.
“Excellent.” I nod as something warm—like belonging—moves through me. “You think I should punch Gary like this?”
“Sure. Use the sickly little guy like a punching bag.” However, her flat voice and unblinking stare are contrary to her words.
Sometimes I wonder how Kinixys handles Rez’s sarcasm. She’s always honest, which is a wonderful, yet she’s adorably gruff as well. The contradictions are kinda head spinning. Unlike Luna, who sweetly tosses out distractions like delicious treats that I’m eager to chase after and devour…
I must’ve been staring at my sibling’s mate for too long, because Rez shakes her head as she huffs. “What’s wrong with you, Pyxis?”
Jo stomps over. “I’m tagging back in.”
“What?” Rez snaps her spine straight and rolls her shoulder, squaring off with Jo. “I didn’t even get—”
“You’re dancing around it.” Jo scowls and points at Rez. “What’s wrong with you, Delorez? Kin’s making you soft.”
“No, he’s not.” But Rez does soften; her shoulders sag as her tone lightens. “But sometimes, certain things have to happen at the right pace.”
“Yeah.” Jo scoffs. “You’ve gone soft.” Then she barks, “Fanboy!”
“Joia,” I say.
Now Jo’s jabbing her finger at me. “You’re staying with your roommate until further notice. Got it?”
Did she just stress the ‘mates’ in roommates?
I side eye her.
Yes, my helmet is covering my quick glance toward her, but this is Jo.
“You heard me,” she says lowly.
See? She knows I’m thinking about mating and about Luna and about doing both things at once.
Rez cracks her knuckles and levels me with a determined look. “I want another go at this.”
“Not unless you’ve got rope.” Jo cants her head toward me. “‘Cause this is lining up to be another repeat.”
“A repeat?” Now Rez is jabbing her finger at Jo. “Then you just shoulda started with rope. But you didn’t. So, what’s up with you, Joia?”
I’m getting a feeling that this conversation is no longer about me, my torched dwelling, or even rope. And it’s definitely not about Luna.
I turn my back on my arguing friends and face the path that leads back into the settlement.
I don’t like that Jo’d sent Luna away on some pointless errand. What could possibly be so important right now?
Then again, maybe it’s for the best that Luna’s not here, watching the last bits of the cabin being extinguished and trampled by Two-Four-Kay’s primitive version of fire suppression.
Which is to douse the lavs—the shitters—with water so that they won’t catch flame as well.
Our cabin, though…
The settlers’ve let it burn.
Movement on the path catches my eye. Backlit by the orange-ish glow of the dying embers comes Luna.
I’d know her anywhere, even in the dark.
Whenever she thinks no one is watching, she walks with her shoulders loose and her head down. Also, her hands are relaxed even when carrying something.
It’s kinda foolish how she’s strolling through the dark alley without cautious awareness. Actually, it’s really fucking dangerous.
But then another notion strikes me.
Luna moves like a predator who’s strolling through her secured territory. She’s not leaping at shadows. The shadows are caressing her as she passes.
I want to touch her like that. Brush my fingertips against her skin and be awed that I have the privilege of mapping the contours of her body.
I can’t help it. I growl. My damaged gauntlets—missing over a thousand armored plates—creak weakly.
Luna jerks her head up, then stumbles a step.
“Fanboy!” Jo snaps.
I jolt to a stop.
By Aku, Jo’d caught me just as I was about to burst into my true speed so that I could get to Luna’s side.
I blow a heated, frustrated exhale through my nose as another growl rumbles in my chest. Fuck. The need to reassure Luna that I’d growled—am still growling—outta pure pleasure and arousal at seeing her is urging me on.
Go. Go to her.
Luna, though, slows her pace.
Seriously? Now she’s moving with caution—taking small, measured steps—as I’m standing here—trapped by my damned honor—when all I wannna do is scoop her up and…
I inhale, expanding my lungs against the aching longing that’s gripping my chest.
I wanna scoop Luna up and do whatever she wants to do. Build another stick cabin. Bake brick bread. Monkey around in the mine. It doesn’t matter as long as we’re doing something together.
Truly. That’s all I want.
Forty-three hyperaware seconds have passed since my growl had caught Luna off-guard. As she continues to approach—her gaze darting from me to her friends that are still mumbling harshly to one another—I greedily absorb every detail.
Her shoulder-length hair brushes along the collar of her dress and the column of her neck. She parts her lips, then bites her plump lower one—as if to stifle a startled gasp. Her bosom rises—pausing at the crest of her inhale—before she blows out the bolstering breath.
Her next steps are determined strides, taking her right past me.
She tosses a dark bundle to Jo. “Got that thing that you just had to have.” She crosses her arms over her chest. “By the way, it wasn’t where you’d said it’d be.”
“You don’t say.” Jo tosses the bundle to me.
“Hey!” Luna keeps her eyes on Jo as she points to me. Well, she’s pointing at the bundle that I’ve reflexively caught. “You said you needed that.”
“I do.” Jo nods toward me. “Need it for Fanboy.”
Luna narrows her eyes. “And he had to have it right now?”
“In the middle of all this?” Luna flings a hand toward the smoldering pile that used to be my home.
That I’m not all that sorry to see crumbling to ashes before me.
But, I kinda do need this bundle. Through the gaps in the scutites covering my hands, I can feel the Akupara-made fabric of a field pack and the spare gauntlets inside.
No point in questioning how Jo got her hands on something from the locked armory inside the secured Bale. This is Jo, after all.
I silently pull on new gauntlets and the scutites mold to my hands and integrate with the rest of my armor’s systems.
I should be thanking Jo, but my gratitude gets stuck in my closing throat.
My father’d always said not to rely on resupply drops. Salvage and identify interchangeable parts: that’s what he imparted to me.
Then again, my father didn’t have someone as sneaky as Jo in his corner.
“Heya, Fanboy,” Jo mumbles as she elbows me.
She’s looking at Luna and Rez, who’re obviously arguing with one another. Although Luna’s ire was originally aimed at Jo, Jo is now at my side.
Jo makes her throaty, dismissive noise. “I let Rez tag back in.”
But I don’t understand. I just know it suits whatever Jo wants it to suit.
“You,” Jo nudges me again with her elbow. “Get yourself back here with us.”
“I am here with you.”
Jo stares up at me, but we’ve done this too many times. She’s trying to make me squirm so that words come tumbling outta me.
But, it’s not gonna work. I’ve already answered her enough for one night.
She narrows her eyes. “Right. Now go get Baby Bunny and get outta here. Go back to the modular. Settle in.”
“I can’t do that.” I really can’t.
Settle in, in a confined space, with Luna? Hell, no. Right now, I’m forcing my hands to unfurl at the thought of going back to the cramped, cozy modular with Luna.
“Course you can. You’re Pyxis Koxánec Tinir Proruptus Umara, The Restrained.” She’s pointing her finger at me, jabbing it with each name of my polynym—my full Akupara name. “Ain’t ya?”
My mouth opens, just as I’d intended it to, but no words come out. None.
I’ve never told Joia my full polynym. Never.
And yet, she knows it.
“There’s more in that pack for ya, Fanboy,” Jo’s walking away from me, heading toward Rez and Luna, “you know, to help ya settle in.”
Luna and I are about to go to her home. Together. To be real roommates.
My heart’s pounding in my ears as blood rushes to swell my cock.
Jo calls back over her shoulder. “You’re welcome.”
Luna the Baby Bunny
“Come on in,” I say to Pyx as I pull open the door to my modular.
The hinges on the flimsy door creaks, and Pyx, who’s following me inside, tucks his hands behind his back.
Yeah. I caught his little flinch as well.
What does Pyxis the Restrained have to be nervous about? He’s not the one who begged to ‘Let’s just give it a moment’ and now has to decide if spending hours at an arson site has been ‘moment enough’ to carry on with our previous activities.
Carry. The. Fuck. On, demands my rogue mating instincts.
Yep. Not surprised by their response. But, to be fair, the whole point of what I started in my workroom was to get this mating thing going. You know, so that I can then go about being myself again. Which means carrying on with the important work that I do, like solving the little problems that others overlook—
I look at Pyx and lunge. “Don’t eat that!”
He’s by the stove, holding my latest attempt at bread baking.
Shifting his attention from the loaf in his hand to me, he nods once. “Don’t eat it. Got it.”
As he carefully sets the loaf back onto the stacked pile of failed bakery, the grinding sound of stone-on-stone fills the silence.
I stifle a mortified groan as my cheeks flush with prickly heat. Even though I’ve overhauled the recipe, I’m still baking freaking bricks.
God, I’m such a freaking idiot. Of course Pyx wasn’t gonna eat my experimental bread. He’s wearing his full Akupara armor—helmet and blank faceplate included. Plus the Akupara don’t eat grains.
It’s just… I’m so freaking riled thanks to my best friends, Rez and Jo. Sure, I’d asked for their help. But help is one thing. Meddling, though, is something else entirely.
But he’s here, my instincts say, swelling with excitement and satisfaction.
Heck, it feels pretty darn close to contentment.
So—maybe—my plan is no longer the same thing as dangling off a cliff, but now I’m sorta climbing it instead.
That means, I can do this. Mate him. Fix myself. Move on.
I look at Pyx. He’s still lingering by the stove. Well, honestly, there’s really nowhere else to go inside my tiny home. And because he’s so massive, he’s crammed into that end of the modular. His posture is bowed and drawn inward to avoid scraping his helmet on the low ceiling or his shoulders against the tight walls on either side of him.
Okay. I can fix this.
Two steps and I’m at Rez’s old bunk, sliding my hand under her mattress and triggering the bio-lock to my bolthole.
As the hatch rises, I nod toward the ladder. “So, you wanna take your bag and…” My voice cracks. Smooth, Luna. “And, um, get yourself settled in?”
“Sure” Pyx does his single head nod, but his voice is lacking his typical enthusiasm. “Get myself settled in.”
We do this awkward ‘you first’ dance that I’m kinda determined to win. Just the thought of him watching me as I fumble my way down into the bolthole is…
Well, it’s just so me.
Then I remember: I gotta be the last one down to close and re-lock the hatch after us. So, I win. Go me.
Pyx does go first, which is a relief.
Though once the hatch is secure, I pause a moment on the ladder, squeeze my eyes shut, and silently curse.
I. Am. Such. A. Freaking. Idiot.
I know Pyx. He’s gonna watch me climb down anyway. Doesn’t matter if he’s standing above me or below me.
Great. Just… freaking great.
My hands are gripping the side rails in a white-knuckling hold as my palms slick with sweat and my knees turn to jelly.
“Luna?” Pyx doesn’t sound impatient, but hesitant.
Which is kinda funny, because I’m the one who’s hesitating.
Okay. I can do this.
“So,” I say, trying to sound all calm and casual and stuff as I climb down, “feel free to unpack—ack!”
Oops. Almost slipped there. But, I’ve reached the bottom. Yay!
I turn away from the ladder. “You know, make yourself at—”
Pyx is stripping.
Like, he’s removing his armor as casually as I pull off my dress when I’m alone, stripping. He’s got this comfortable, confident air about him that lacks any kinda agenda or intent. Seriously, he’s taking off solid chunks of his armor—revealing his cut forearms and huge biceps, and the whole view is just so dang sexy. Yet it’s also completely unintentionally sexy, which makes it even more sexy…
Yeah. I’m rambling like a hysterical, horny lunatic, but you get my meaning. Pyx is being just so Pyx right now, and I want him.
Good god, do I want him.
My breath hitches, which in turn unleashes my lusty gasp.
Yep. The echos of my revved-up arousal are pinging about the bolthole like a damn tattletale. Hey, Pyx! Luna wants you!
Ugh. Just, ugh.
This is not going to plan. Not that I had a truly detailed plan. Just a high-level, conceptual plan. And it sure as hell didn’t conceptualize this: me gawking at Pyx’s bare chest as I hyperventilate and self-combustion.
I gotta get outta here.
With my cheeks burning and my gaze now drilling into the rock floor, I spin back toward the ladder.
I locked my gaze on the ladder’s eye-level rung. “Pyx?”
“Where’re you going?”
Seriously? How can his voice sound both innocently confused yet sweetly concerned?
A heated shiver—that’s right: a literal heated shiver—moves over my skin. My breasts feel heavy. My tits tingle with tenderness. My clit and core throb with delicious achiness.
This is too dang much.
“Luna?” The soles of his armored boots scuffle along the rock floor.
Crap, he’s moving closer to me. “You’re getting settled in.”
“Am…am I not doing it right?”
“Yeah.” I swallow, clearing the squeakiness from my voice. “You’re doing it right.”
This warrior is doing everything so damn right. I’m the one messing it all up.
“But…” His voice, still full of confusion and concern, dies off. I reach for the ladder side rails, clutching them as I fight the urge to turn around. “But doing it this way makes you leave?”
“To give you privacy.” I flip my hand at him without turning to looking at him. “You know. As you undress and all.”
“You’ve seen me without armor on before.”
True. The first time I’d seen Pyx, he’d been wearing pants that were soaking in his own cum. The wet fabric was molded to the most impressive d—
“Should I stop?” he asks.
Ah. There it is. The one thing that gets me every time. Never, ever should Pyx sound uncertain about himself.
I turn, and whatever fluffy reassurance I’d planned to say vanishes.
Pyx is facing me with his helmet off.
Oh, my heart. There’s his sweet face again.
Yes, he’s an alien with inhuman features, but I can read every emotion and impulse that forms his expressions. The uncertainty that I’d heard in his voice is reflected on his face.
“No, Pyx,” I say gently. “You don’t have to stop.”
His gaze slides over me, and I get it. He’s still not sure.
“Seriously,” I give him a small smile. “You don—”
He yanks his armored pants down.
And whaddya know? Armor can be easily stripped from such incredibly thick thighs and such an amazingly erect—
I zip up the ladder and only trip twice.
Okay. That last rung got me a third time.
And the bio-lock, too. Plus the hatch.
Fine. It’s a disaster of a retreat. The whole dang time my heart’s beating rapidly. Each pounding thump echoes in my head. Penis. Penis. Penis.
I need to share that there was nothing shriveled and dangling between Pyx’s legs. Rather, his dick was freaking protruding.
Yep. I just got a fabulous full-frontal-flash of Pyxis the Restrained’s dick—
And there goes my freaking heart again. My lungs decide to go crazy, too, and start heaving like I’ve been running for miles and miles.
See? I told you. He doesn’t even have to touch me to destroy me.
I yelp and spin around. Pyx’s outta the bolthole. He’s staring at me, not as if I’m insane for bolting outta the bolthole, but with more of his resolve-weakening tenderness and concern.
Oh, and he’s dressed in pants. Just pants. Nothing else.
Please. Someone. Help me.
I shake my head, trying to toss out thoughts of climbing him like a candycoated cliffside. “You shouldn’t be up here!”
Yeah, I sound kinda harsh, but I’m looking out for him. I mean, he’s got on the soft, buttery pants that the Akupara wear when inside the Bale. Only, he’s not inside the Bale.
Pyx shrugs. “But you’re up here.”
I gape at him. Blink. Gape some more.
That can’t possibly be his reason—‘because I’m up here’—for being outta his armor, while being outside of the Bale, instead of being safely concealed in my bolthole. If it is, then he needs another dang reason!
I wait, tilting my head and raising my brows expectantly. He’s gotta have more for me than that. He’s just got to. Because I’m not worth risking his people’s secrets.
He shifts his eyes away, then back to me. “So, I’m up here, too.”
Me. He’s up here—taking an unbelievable risk—for me.
Oh fuck. I really do wanna climb him like a candycoated cliffside.
Only, I’m not competently coordinated enough, let alone sexually confident enough, to simply throw myself at a guy who’s a towering warrior—whether he’s wearing his super sexy armor or not. I’d need, like, a forklift-assist, and that’s not really tantalizing foreplay. Not the same way that Kin’s constantly insinuating that a really good time with Rez always starts with rope…
“Pyx?” I step toward him.
He locks his gaze with mine. “Luna?”
“How do you feel about forklifts?”
Wow. He didn’t even hesitate with his answer. “Do you know what a forklift is?”
“But you’re excited about them?”
“Yep. Because they’re something new that you’ll show me.”
Know what? The whole body-sculpting-armor-wearing, pulse-cannon-charging, badass warrior side of Pyx is fucking phenomenal, but…
This guy right here. The one who’s thrilled to do dumb ass things with me? There’s no way a guy—er, alien as badass as Pyx would waste his time monkeying around with me unless, for him, it all meant more than just monkeying around.
Okay. This is it. I’m doing it.
I fling myself at him and bounce right off his chest. As my back slams—
Oh! My back doesn’t slam into anything. Pyx’s caught me. Yay! I’m saved!
“Luna?” He sounds confused and alarmed and confused…
Of course he sounds all those things, because Pyx is Pyx and I am me. Thus, I freaking messed up my attempt to seduce and mate him so dang bad.
Making use of that millisecond or two before I have to answer Pyx—to let him know that I’m not hurt just mortified, I self reflect on the whole debacle.
Yep. This’s about what I should’ve expected.
Stupid false hopes.
Stupid mating instincts.
Stupid bouncy body.
“I’m fine.” But I’m still a coward, so I don’t look up at him. “I was trying something—”
“Try it again.”
Pyx’s voice drops, sounding deeper. “Again, Luna.”
Cautiously, I take stock of me. Well, him. Of us.
I’m caught up in his arms. His big shovel of a palm is cradling the back of my head. His other arm is wrapped around me, and his hand’s caressing the meat of my hip with greedy squeezes.
I raise my eyes to his and…
Huh. Maybe—by some utterly miraculous chance—I didn’t mess this up. I mean, I don’t have any freaking clue how this isn’t snowballing into a complete disaster, but…
Pyx’s gazing down at me with heat and hunger flashing in his eyes.
So, I do what feels right.
I reach up, knowing that he’s got a secure hold on me, and cup his face in my hands.
He stills, yet many things skitter across his face. Shock. Hopefulness. Then that damn uncertainty—this time looking like disbelief—returns.
“Luna?” His voice rasps.
I hush him as I continue cupping his face and brush my thumbs along the smooth, supple scales his cheeks. Then I run them over his lips—they’re both silky smooth and firmly inviting.
His lips part and a soft growl rumbles through my modular.
Ah. Fuck it.
I interlace my fingers behind his solid neck, then pull—not really caring if I’m hauling myself up or yanking him down—and press my lips to his.
Lord help me. Finally, I get a taste of him.
Rich flavors—like the ones that are densely packed with nutrients—burst across my tongue. Pyx starts super sweet, like a ripe fruit dripping with juices, then is followed by a pallet cleanser of refreshing crispness, and finally ends like a full-bodied wine sliding down my throat.
Too much. It’s too much.
But when I order my arms and hands to push away, I grab hold of him harder. Wiggle my body closer. Whimper more—
Am… Am I actually wiggling and whimpering?
And Pyx? Is he actually growling and grinding?
I break the kiss, gasping for air.
Pyx dives right in, attaching his mouth to my neck, and god, he finds the perfect spot to suck and nip. I feel those sweet sucks right between my legs, along with the teasing press of his hard dick.
And yes. He’s growling like a feral beast as he grinds between my legs. He’s holding me up—I’m not even pressed against the shitty walls of my modular—with his palms cradling my backside as I wrap my legs around his trim, pumping hips.
His thrusts, muted by his pants and my stupid skirt, have me frantically scrambling to tug the fabric outta the way. Well, I’m trying to both anchor my hold while tugging at my skirt, but it’s kinda hard to get my hands around any part of him. His wrists are like my calves. Which makes his biceps very, um, ungrippable.
He appears to be gripping me just fine as he continues to hold me well above the floor, his tongue tangoing with mine.
“I wanna do what you wanna do, Luna,” he says and then groans. The guttural sound rumbles with both pain and pleasure, starvation and craving—like he’s holding himself in check. “By Aku, tell me what you want me to do.”
Oh good god. My clit is throbbing in time to his open mouth kisses on my neck. My nipples are peaked and aching, not satisfied with the light friction of Pyx’s bare plastron plates through my clothing.
“Skirt.” I tug at it. “Off. Get it off.”
Pyx exhales a deep, carnal moan. “Luna.”
A loud rent—the sound of ripping fabric—has my heart rate pounding faster in anticipation. Hell, my heart’s been beating faster than it ever has in my life—even when I’m ‘moving’ at my inhuman H.A.R.E. speed.
My entire body flares. All nerve endings are alive and well and so, so, so ready for—
Cool air—far cooler than the Akupara’s skin I’d been expecting to touch me between my legs—gusts over my bare thighs. The chill swirls into the space created by Pyx’s swift retreat.
Stunned, I just gape at him.
Pyx is across the modular, but he might as well have retreated to the far side of Warren’s. Hell, the far side of the universe.
He’s standing, but his body’s not still. His entire chest and belly are rippling with quick, billowing breaths. He’s staring down at his hands—the better part of my skirt is hanging in tatters in each of his fists—and he looks horrified.
“Luna,” he says in the quietest register that I’ve heard him speak.
He’s also said my name like it disgusts him.
“Luna,” he says my name again, but harshly this time. “Are you…” He growls and shakes his head. “Did I hurt you?”
“I—” I glance down, unable to hold his stare.
And, hell. Look at me.
My skirt has been torn away in the sexiest undressing of my life, leaving me standing in ragged remnants that expose my godawful undies and worn boots with sagging socks.
I know how I look. I do.
Homespun, scratchy clothing. Leather sourced from Warren’s wildlife. Primitive. Pitiable. Undesirable.
Meanwhile, Pyx’s standing there in buttery soft, manufactured clothing that’s both wrinkle and odor resistant. Hell, his pants are probably something similar to the advance-tech, self-cleaning gowns that the scientists had us wear.
Oh. Yes. Mustn’t forget to add ‘unethical scientific abomination’ to my list of faults.
Pain spikes through my chest as rejection viciously stabs me, plunging its blade into me again and again.
He doesn’t want me.
My legs are weakening as I squeeze my eyes shut. But still, the humiliating image that’s been haunting and taunting me for months flashes behind my tightly closed lids: me, on my knees with my arms wrapped about one of Pyx’s legs, as I hysterically weep and beg him not to leave me.
I don’t know what’s worse: the slice of Pyx’s rejection or the unavoidable destruction of my heart as I fall to my knees and beg him—
“Fuck me.” Pyx runs his disgusted gaze over me. “I did. I hurt you.”
Yes. You did. You’ve destroyed me.
But, truly, what the hell had I been thinking? Me seduce him?
You’re trying to survive, my tenaciously delusional mating instincts hiss at me.
But, am I trying to survive or self-destruct?
Before I’d concocted my fucking idiotic plan to have sex with Pyx in order to quell my mating instincts, I didn’t have to admit the gut-rending truth that he doesn’t want me.
Well, now I know.
This chapter is complete! I’ve enabled commenting and have added my own thoughts as well.
As always, thank you so much for reading!
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From Slow & Steady: The Velveteen Tortoise
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