Ryder HATED using his hand. Hated that it had become such a necessity, hated that there was no doubt that in the coming days, weeks, this act would be repeated. All because there was no way he could be around the priestess, and not keep from reacting, not keep from experiencing that mind numbing, body ruining arousal. It was insane, just looking–hell just thinking about her, was enough to stir a reaction,. A reaction that only grew ten times more powerful when he was actively touching her. Smelling her, holding her, pressing against her.
With a clench of his jaw, Ryder abruptly put a halt to that particular line of thought. He didn’t want to risk the memory of what had happened just minutes ago in his bed causing another reaction in him, didn’t want to dwell on how soft and pleasant she had felt underneath him, how good her hair had smelled. Didn’t want to consider she had enchanted him, that he was growing intoxicated just by having her near. It was too troubling, almost too bothersome, this attraction he felt for her.
Ryder had had other women in his life. Drule and human, blonde, brunette, even that one memorable red head who had set out to seduce the pirate in her tavern, only to find herself charmed inside, her ankles up by her head. He’s had slender women, voluptuous females, ladies of all shapes and sizes. He’s run the spectrum of color, from the Drule shades of blue, purple and green, to the humans more calming tans and browns. He’s seen caramel colored skin, and skin with flecks of gold to them. He’s no stranger to feeling lust at first sight, to experiencing a strong wanting of a female. But never had he felt this out of control, and never over some virgin!
Ryder was used to bold, strong women. Dominant types who liked to give as good as they got, and were blatant in their appreciation of him. He wasn’t interested in shy maidens who peeked out him from underneath lowered lashes, or stared at him in wide eyed fascination. Who blushed constantly, and didn’t know how to flirt back. He wanted, appreciated aggression in his females, preferred a woman who knew her way around a man’s body both in and out of bed. He didn’t want to play teacher, and the few virgins he had had in the past had proven more troublesome than worth it.
Virgins. His lips curled in a scowl then, Ryder still leaning against the shower’s wall. They never knew where to touch, where to put their hands, how to move their bodies. They kicked up a fuss and put meaning on act that was about pleasure not love, and worse of all they cried and hurt from the pain of that first penetration. Ryder had learned he could do without the tears, the fuss, the self delusions of love, and a virgins’ expectations of what the act of sex meant. The tears and tantrums that followed when they realized Ryder WASN’T in love with them, was always worse than the sex that had preceded that realization.
All of this had been enough to quickly teach Ryder to stay away from sheltered, virginal females. You couldn’t get more sheltered than a priestess, some holy woman that by all rights was never meant to know a man’s body. Certainly Alexandria had gotten an education, more exposure than she had ever expected, probably ever wanted, when Ryder had pressed on top of her, naked as can be, and sporting a full blown erection that throbbed with a life and vitality all it’s own.
And there was the rub. Just a brief second of recollection, and his sanity receded, all his thoughts and views about why virgins were bad, why he wasn’t about to waste his time with another, all but forgotten in the face of that strong surge of lusting.
It had to be the body, Ryder decided. Not only beautiful, Alexandria had a sinfully delicious body. Ample curves, the kind many would kill for, either to have, or to hold, she didn’t look like a holy woman should. Not with those large breasts, breasts he wasn’t going to imagine cupping, nor was he going to wonder about the color of her nipples, or how sweet they would taste to his tongue.
It wasn’t just the breasts, though most men would be blinded by that alone. She had an hourglass kind of figure, shapely hips, a finely rounded ass. And her manner of dress, while simple in design, similar in style to the gowns the other captured priestesses had worn, couldn’t quite contain her. The material simply didn’t sit right on her chest, the fabric straining, attempting a monumental task to keep her breasts covered and modesty intact.
Ryder made a fist, bemoaning the fact that his priestess looked so good even fully dressed. Wondering why she couldn’t have been from some holy sect that insisted on keeping it’s women fully covered, down to veils over their hair and faces, and baggy burkas on their bodies. It just wasn’t right, wasn’t fair, to parade a woman like that past a man, and then tell him she was off limits to his touch.
Alexandria’s life as a priestess, her status as a holy woman, was the only thing that had kept her out of the bed of another man. A woman that looked like that? She wouldn’t have remained virgin long, once she came of official age, and there were some sly enough to try even sooner than that. The Gods must be laughing, to put such a temptation, such a sweet morsel in the universe, and then make her untouchable. The ultimate temptation, the ultimate test to fail, and Ryder knew he would happily rot in one of the many Hells that supposedly existed for the chance to experience Alexandria completely.
Not that he hadn’t sinned enough BEFORE encountering the priestess. A murdering, thieving, wenching pirate, he was damned already. But he wouldn’t use that as an excuse, wouldn’t use it as a reason to just take what he wanted from her. Even if his body was raging out of control, and that damning blast of cold water was doing little to calm him save to leave him shaking as his teeth rattled from the chill.
Minutes later he would give up on his shower, knowing he could stand for an eternity under the cold spray and it would do nothing to cool the fires that heated his very blood. He’d grumble and curse under his breath, rattling about loudly in the bathroom, stomping his feet, and slamming shut doors. He’d barely bother to do more than towel off, tying a clean one around his waist, and not at all bothering with his hair, content to let it air dry on it’s own.
His mood now foul, he slammed open the door to the bedroom, the action doing little to make him feel better and making the priestess startle in fright. She leaped up from her seat in a chair, wide eyed and staring at him, actually looking at his body for one all too brief moment, before she fixed her gaze to a spot just over his shoulder. It was then that Ryder realized he had posed himself to look even more impressive than usual, waiting for some kind of reaction, some shred of proof that she too was affected, that she was tempted in turn. He didn’t get it, Alexandria schooling her face to hide what she was feeling, what she might be thinking to see him clad in nothing but a short towel, shoulders dotted with drops from his wet hair.
Keenly disappointed, and not liking it one bit, Ryder still strived for a charitable tone. “You must be starving by now.” He said to her. “I know I am.”
A small nod of her head, the only acknowledgement he got from her. His jaw clenched in response, Ryder turning toward the wall mounted com unit. He was about to dial down to the ship’s kitchen, when she called out a question to him.
“How are you feeling?” He just looked at her, an eyebrow arched in silent question. Most women—most virgins, would have blushed in response, but somehow Alexandria maintain her natural pale coloring. “Does your hang over still bother you?”
His head still hurt, but it seemed minimal compared to what was truly troubling him. The priestess and the infernal attraction he felt to her. “I’ll manage.” Ryder said out loud. He saw her frown, as though the thought of his pain really bothered her. “It’s the least I deserve.” Ryder added, but couldn’t force out even a rueful chuckle. “I should have known better than to try to out drink Cossack the Terrible.”
He turned back to the com unit, dialing down to the kitchen. The youngest of the pirates, Smythe was on duty there, just one of the few responsibilities entrusted to the boy. The young Drule had worked kitchen duty before, and knew not to waste Ryder’s time on needless chit chat. They got right to the point, Ryder ordering a cold breakfast that could be delivered within minutes of the call.
The call was not without incident. In the middle of it, Alexandria spoke up, suggesting a few things she would like to see delivered to the room. It was predominantly herbs, many of which could be found in the cook’s kitchen. Surprised but seeing no harm to it, Ryder allowed them to be ordered as well, then once finished turn to her with a question in her eyes.
“They are for your hangover.” She said, actually looking at him and not the wall behind him. “A remedy for what ails you.”
He didn’t say anything immediately, knowing his true sickness was something no herb alone could cure. “And you have experience with mixing hangover cures?” He couldn’t hide the doubt from his tone, Ryder sucking in a shocked breath at the faint, half smile she gave him.
“As a matter of fact I do.”
Already beautiful, how much more stunning would this raven haired priestess be were she to really smile at him? He’d be blinded, dazzled by the glow for sure. As it was, he was almost to stunned by the half almost smile that he almost didn’t register her words. “You do?” At her nod, Ryder snorted, amused. “And I suppose the priests and priestess at your temple are prone to heavy drinking?”
“Not quite…” She had stopped smiling. “But many of the patrons who attend our ceremonies, and seek counsel with us, well let us just say there are many women who are tired of their husband’s heavy boozing getting in the way of their work come mornings.”
“I can just imagine.” Ryder murmured, knowing he wouldn’t want to do much if any work with the way he had felt when he had first woken up this morning, all hung over and hurting.
“It won’t be as effective a dose as it would have been had I had access to my garden.” continued Alexandria. “But then I don’t expect a ship full of pirates to have access to some of the rarer medicines that can be grown on Simestia.”
“Simestia…is that where you’re from?” Ryder asked. She nodded, but offered no more information about that world. “And you have a garden there?”
“More than just a garden, I have a home.” She told him. But she didn’t start demanding he return her there at once. He liked that, thinking Alexandria a realist who knew the odds of her seeing her home world of Simestia again were slim at best.
“Medicines don’t make for very pretty plants.” Ryder said out loud.
“I don’t grow them for looks, but for what they can do for me.” She explained. “I am a healer. I help take care of the many sick who come to the temple for aid and relief from what ails them.”
She was not only beautiful and kindhearted, but an angel of mercy laying healing hands on any who sought her help. Even a wretch like him, Ryder thinking her talents wasted on easing a hangover he rightly deserved.
Alexandria was watching him, her jade colored eyes intent on his face. Not for the first time, he wondered what he was going to do with her, and tried to ignore the lust that made sex the most obvious answer.
“Smythe should be here soon with the food.” Ryder said, his voice sounding gruff even to himself. “I better get dressed before that happens.” He hurried into his closest, grabbing at and pulling on the first clothes he could find. By the time he had buttoned his shirt up half way, Smythe was knocking at the door, cold meal in hand.
“Thanks.” Ryder said curtly, taking the tray, and all but slamming the door in the young Drule’s face. It happened fast enough that Smythe probably hadn’t even gotten a good look at the priestess, Ryder feeling far too possessive of her to suffer even an innocent leer her way from another.
She joined him at the small table, watching as he uncovered the tray, and laid out the food. But she didn’t reach for the plate he made for her, instead taking the small soup bowl, and fling it with the herbs she had requested. Alexandria would crush and mix the herbs into a thin paste, then add it to a glass of water, which clouded over in color.
“Here, drink this.” She said, handing him the glass. “Within a few minutes, the worst of your symptoms will be gone.”
He took it from her without word, Ryder making a face at the unappealing scent the paste flavored water made. He all but held his breath as he swallowed down the drink in one gulp, and his expression must have been comical for the priestess’ eyes practically danced with her amusement.
“Crap but that tasted horrible.” Ryder complained out loud.
“Medicine usually does.” She informed him. “In fact, I find the worse it tastes, the more effective the medicine tends to be.”
“Then no wonder my hangover will be gone in a few minutes.”
“Not gone entirely.” she corrected him, the amused look still in her eyes. Ryder found himself wondering what she would look like if she were to laugh, if her face was lit up in pure appreciation of a joke between friends. “Although I am surprised you drank it all, and without any coaxing on my part. After all, did you not fear that there was a chance I was poisoning you?”
“Not at all.” She looked surprised at that, to which Ryder chuckled and replied. “I knew if it was in cook’s kitchen, there was little chance of these herbs being poisonous.”
“So it wasn’t a matter of trusting me, but trusting in the herbs…” Alexandria noted, and took a seat at the table. Ryder followed suit, somehow managing not to insist the woman be seated on his lap for this meal.
“It’s not easy to trust a woman you helped take captive.” Ryder pointed out.
“Is that why you were so quick to assume I was coming to your bed to hurt you?” Alexandria asked. He nodded, and she frowned. “But to suffocate you with your own pillow? Or to bludgeon you with something?”
“How else would you do it?”
“I wouldn’t do it at all!” She protested.
“Then you are better behaved than some of the other women that have been taken captive by the captain and us pirates.” Ryder said, and her eyes took on a horrified look.
“You mean to say those were real examples?!”
“Didn’t happen to me personally.” Ryder quickly soothed her. “Always been able to seduce a woman into happily being my bed mate. But some of the other pirates….well…you HEARD how they are.” She shuddered in response, which made Ryder want to put an arm around her in comfort. But somehow he resisted that impulse, picking up his fork to eat in silence.
The priestess fidgeted with the food on her plate, and though she had to be starving, having not eaten since before her ship had been raided, she barely took more than a few bites of her meal. Ryder began to wonder if he really would have to take her on his lap, and coax her into eating from his hand, when Alexandria broke the silence.
“I…” The hesitation combined with her fidgeting was enough to alert Ryder to the fact he wasn’t about to like anything she was about to say. “I have a favor to ask.”
Ryder chewed a little more, before setting down his fork to give a one word response. “Oh?”
She seemed to fidget worse, but at least she looked him in the eyes. “Y…yes. It’s about the other women…the captives….”
“You’re not about to ask me something impossible, like to let them all go, are you?” Ryder demanded.
“Of course not! I am not that foolish!” Her words reassured him of that, Alexandria seeming to gain more strength, and to lose her initial hesitation. “I know there is little I can do about that. But I can help them in other ways. Please…let me tend to them. Let me and the other priestess speak with them, soothe them.”
“Are they healers too?”
“Not of the body, but of the soul. They might be able to give comfort of the mind, or at least spiritual comfort in speaking with the women who have been raped.”
Ryder was really not liking this, and it showed on his face.
“Oh please!” begged Alexandria. “Let me do this….let me do something to comfort and help those women after the violence of last night.”
“We have a more than competent medical staff on board.”
“Are any of them women?” Alexandria asked, then answered for him. “No, I didn’t think so. Not with all the violence and raping going on. Please….the women, after they’ve been hurt so, the last thing they will want is to be examined by a male doctor. Allow me the chance to at least ease them in this way…”
He didn’t bother to tell Alexandria that some of those doctors had more than likely participated in the rapings. Every Drule on board this ship pulled double duty, even the medical staff went on raids, looting, pillaging, raping. Hell, even the head cook who was dangerous enough with a butcher knife, was downright lethal with a sword. Even young Smythe was learning, the boy having all the makings of becoming a fine pirate.
“Please.” Alexandria said, her hand touching his arm. Ryder seemed to freeze into a statue at that touch of hers, staring at her as she leaned towards him. Her eyes were earnest, urgent, the woman practically begging. “Please….I…I would do anything you asked of me, if you would just let me do this….”
Over a dozen demands came to mind, all his lusts and desires wanting to lash out and attach themselves to her. She wasn’t just kind, beautiful, compassionate, she was self sacrificing if it meant it would help others. She would give herself over to Ryder’s lusts, all on the off chance she could somehow soothe the women raped, and all he had to do was say yes, and he would have her right where he wanted her, right now, right on this table, then on the floor, on the bed, in the shower, than on the bed again.
Damn him, but he was getting another erection, getting excited at what looked to be a reality. He opened his mouth to answer her, and it came out a question. “Anything?”
She didn’t blink, didn’t look away, though her eyes wore a distressed look to them. “Anything.” She stressed heavily, and Ryder wanted to kiss her.
“All right.” He said, but Alexandria didn’t close her eyes in relief. She just watched him, wary as though he was a snake poised to strike at any moment. “Then yes….I’ll allow this.”
“Thank you.” She said, giving his arm a soft squeeze. He almost growled then, the urge to push her down and have her body squeeze his dick inside it, almost too strong to resist. “When….?”
“Soon.” He managed, controlling himself. “It will be under my supervision. I’m not about to allow you to wander the ship alone. You’re too tasty a morsel for another not to accost you.”
Alexandria didn’t try to repress the shudder his words caused in her. “And our deal?” He gave her points for asking, for being so brave to want to know what sort of depravity he would require of her. “What would you have me do in return for this?”
Fighting the visions in his head, of her, naked on his bed, kneeling on the floor before him, even spread out for his mouth’s exploration, Ryder growled. It was an involuntary sound, Ryder sick with lust, and knowing he was about to be very stupid.
“Eat something.” He inwardly groaned, thinking himself not only stupid, but insane. Tossing away the opportunity to instead request her to do something so simple, so innocent as eat a meal.
“You heard me.” It came out gruff, his displeasure with himself making him sound discontented. “I want you to eat something. You’ll waste away if you keep picking at your meal like that, and then how will you help treat the captive women?”
“I…you’re right.” But she didn’t immediately pick up her fork. “But…I thought…you…I….”
“You thought wrong.” grumbled Ryder. He shrugged off her hand, a clear sign of dismissal. Alexandria blinked at him, unable to hide her surprise. Ryder couldn’t quite muffle his growl, angrily spearing his fork into the cold ham on his plate.
“Thank you.” Alexandria whispered, looking at him one last time, relief and gratitude on her face. She then began to eat, and though she still fidgeted, she got down more than she had before.