“Little nun,” Gunnar said into the dreamy, dark quiet of a long evening, “I want you to make yourself come. Or, to be more precise, try.”
Maud blinked, shifting almost instantly from her usual half-aroused state in her mate’s presence to something a whole lot edgier.
“Now,” Gunnar said when she didn’t move, though he didn’t look up from the book he was reading, lounging there on one of the deep, comfortable sofas in the part of their sprawling little basement kingdom that Maud considered their living room, stuffed into what was once the prow of a ship. He had his strong legs thrust out before him and crossed at the ankle, wearing the dark, loose trousers he favored when he was spending time in his shop, calculating this and building that. He’d showered not long ago and his dark hair was still damp, making his blue gaze seem even more like smoke. And he hadn’t bothered with a shirt because he kept it warm down here below the raider lodge.
Mostly because he also liked to keep Maud naked in these long evenings when it was just them. She was curled up beside him, reading her own book and not wearing a thing because he preferred it that way and she did too. Sometimes he reached over and rubbed his fingers over her absently as he read, or watched something on one of his screens, or fiddled with one of his inventions. He liked to trace the church’s mark on the nape of her neck, up there beneath the collar she wore, brushing aside her blonde hair as it slowly grew longer so he could toy with it as he pleased. She liked to lean into the touch of those battered, clever fingers, because her grim, harsh raider made her feel safe, deep inside, and his hands on her body made her glow.
It had always been that way. She had no doubt it always would.
It was a typical evening down in what Maud knew others called Gunnar’s Basement of Pain, both of them reading quietly as the late December dark pressed down on the eastern islands all around them. Gunnar’s loyal pit wolves slept in careless piles at the perimeter of the makeshift room, always alert to any possible intruders into the basement domain—which gave Maud ample time to pull on something to cover herself, if that was the mood Gunnar was in. Sometimes it wasn’t.
I thought we agreed you weren’t going to parade your mate around naked, Wulf had said when he’d come upon them once, throwing open that far-off basement door and walking right in as if he owned the place.
Which, of course, he did. He was the raider king.
Maud had been sitting on the floor between Gunnar’s legs, completely naked save for her collar, and had only smiled serenely at Wulf when he’d gazed at her, then back at his blood brother with the too-blue eyes they shared.
It’s not a fucking parade when I’m sitting in my own rooms, minding my own business, getting ready to fuck my woman. Something I don’t think I need your permission for. But Gunnar’s hard mouth had curved as he’d eyed the king who was also his younger blood brother. My liege.
You’re right, of course, Wulf had said with a roll of his eyes. You can do whatever the hell you want in your kinky basement paradise. Now can we talk about strategy?
There were a lot of names for this place where Gunnar’s imagination was allowed to roam free and unfettered, Maud reflected. From the area where he built new machines and revolutionized the raider fleet to the more dangerous area that was all about the particular inventiveness he liked to visit upon her body whenever possible.
But she just called it home. The first she’d had since she was a girl, unless she counted the convent and the endless scrutiny of Bishop Seph.
Which she did not.
She still got a little giddy when she thought about Gunnar’s half-sister Eiryn, the formidable personal bodyguard to Wulf himself, giving the bishop a little taste of his own brand of prayer back in September.
I told him you said hi and then I knocked him the fuck out, Eiryn had told her gruffly when she and Riordan had gotten back and had told their story to the rest of the brotherhood.
She’d looked distinctly uncomfortable when Maud had beamed at her. And she’d stiffened as if she’d wanted to unsheathe her blade and fend Maud off with blood when Maud had actually dared hug her.
You could just say thank you, Eiryn had muttered.
I just did, Maud had replied calmly, and had then wisely stepped away.
But this was not the time to think about her relationships with all the deadly raider brothers who were related to Gunnar. Or any other raiders at all.
Not when her favorite raider had lifted his head from his book and was watching her with that stern, intent blue gaze of his, his hard mouth unsmiling in the way she liked best. The way that made something deep inside her shiver awake and aware, making her breasts feel heavy even as her pussy ached, wet and greedy. He did that to her so easily. All it took was a few words or that unfaltering gaze of his, as if her obedience was a fact, not a choice.
Which made her that much more determined to please him, however she could. All these months later, after he’d taken her virginity himself and claimed her as his forever, her desire to make him proud of her only grew. The longer they spent together, the more inventive the clan’s resident tech genius got. And she was his favorite plaything. His happiest experiment.
He proved it every day. And she honored that by proving in return that he was right to trust that she could take what he gave her, and thrive. Maud didn’t care what the rest of the raider clan called their tight, hot circle of need and trust. She knew what it really was.
He gave her a thousand deliciously creative opportunities to prove her devotion to him, and she enjoyed every last one of them.
Maud shuddered, thinking of the last time he’d hung her from that great big X of his in the most dangerous corner of this sprawling basement packed full of magic, wherever she looked. She loved and hated that lopsided cross in equal measure, and had spent quite a lot of time with it over the past six months.
Gunnar, she knew, loved it unreservedly. A few nights ago he’d tied her up, making her shiver with anticipation and greed, and then he’d clamped her, nipples and clit, making her sob. First in the rush of pain, so intense she’d nearly come from it alone. Then in something else entirely as that wild blooming thing, hard and sharp and entirely theirs, took her over and made her hum from the inside out.
He’d taken his time then, testing out a length of leather he’d cut and cured just for her, he’d told her in his matter-of-fact way, and he’d assured her she would thank him for it with every stroke. He’d turned her pink, laying stripes against her skin, and she’d loved every one of them—especially when she’d hated them.
And she’d thanked him for every brilliant, slick sensation that burst in her and then warmed into something else, wet and hot and his. Always his.
Maud had lost herself in that space he’d introduced her to, that bright red gleaming fire, stretched between pleasure and pain. It was the gift they gave each other, that perfect agony, her obedience and his demands. It made her his and it made her come and she’d done that over and over while he’d laughed in that way that set her alight and made her love him all the more, dark and grim and glorious.
But she’d thought tonight was going to be a quiet one. Everything couldn’t be a pageant. Every night couldn’t leave her writhing and sobbing on the floor, very nearly outside herself.
“Surely you’re not going to make me repeat myself,” Gunnar said after a moment, almost conversationally, but there was no mistaking that hard note beneath it. That threat.
Maud’s heart kicked at her even as she felt that astonishing hunger for him that never seemed to dim kick into high gear, flooding her pussy and making her breath go shallow.
“No, master,” she murmured.
She set her book aside and kept her eyes on Gunnar as she slid her hands down her smooth thighs, then between them.
He watched her as she found her pussy, then nodded at the floor before him and the thick rug that often cradled her knees when she knelt for him. For a convent-raised girl who’d learned to kneel on stone, it still seemed an unimaginable luxury.
Like love every time she sank down before him.
She did that now, her blood already hot and the folds of her pussy already slick when she reached between her legs again.
Gunnar didn’t appear to pay her any attention, which, perversely, made it all that much hotter. Maud stroked herself, kneeling there before him, playing with her clit as if she was an extension of him. As if she was acting as his instrument. As if he was the one making all that heat deepen and glow, engorging her clit and making the fire gnaw at her. When all he was doing was stroking his dark beard with one hand as he read his book.
She was nearly there. She was going to—
“Stop,” Gunnar murmured, almost absently.
But Maud didn’t make the mistake of thinking he didn’t mean that as a serious command. She knew better.
She stopped, her chest heaving as she panted.
“Hands on your head, please,” Gunnar said in the same casual tone. “Are you forgetting anything, little nun? Anything you think you should tell me?”
Maud was dazed as much by her body’s powerful need to climax as by his question.
“What? No.” She caught the dark look he threw at her. “No, master.”
Gunnar sighed, and settled back against the couch.
“Continue, then,” he invited her. “Make sure your nipples are hard and high, Maud. And get your fingers deep into that hot little cunt.”
She did what he told her to do. She pinched her nipples until they stung, but stood up. She slid her hands down the length of her body and then thrust two fingers deep inside her pussy, which she found nothing much like that hard, huge cock of his she could see growing there in his trousers, right in front of her. But she didn’t dare reach out for him. Not when he was clearly making a point.
Not when her fingers only made her want him more.
She rubbed at her clit with her other hand, bringing herself even more quickly to the edge —
Where he stopped her again. And asked her the same question. Again.
And when she still didn’t have anything to tell him, he only shook his head at her.
“Are you this cruel?” she demanded, but it wasn’t a real question.
He nearly smiled. She saw the ghost of it on his mouth and the light of it in his gaze, all hers. “You know I am. You love it.”
That was the thing. She did.
Gunnar was merciless — and she loved that, too.
He took her to the edge over and over. When he decided she wasn’t suffering enough, he made her crawl over to the little chest in the corner to select a butt plug from the assortment he kept and added to as he pleased.
“You can choose the size you think you deserve, little nun,” he told her from the couch, sounding something like lazy, which made her want to kill him almost as much as she wanted to come. She couldn’t tell which she wanted more, in fact. “But I warn you, if I think you’re going easy on yourself, you won’t like how I handle it.”
Maud glared at the smooth wooden plug that Gunnar called the baby plug, and usually used only to make her walk around amongst the rest of the clan some days when he wanted to focus her thoughts on him. There was no way he would consider that an appropriate selection for whatever punishment this was. She pulled in a breath and then picked up the plug she hated. It was thick stone, heavy and hard, and her whole body clenched too tight as she picked it up. Fear or a fierce, vicious desire, she couldn’t quite tell.
Gunnar made a noise of approval.
“Good girl,” he said in his dark, gruff way, and that was all she needed.
She oiled it as she knelt before him, then handed it to him the way he liked her to do. He lifted a brow and she leaned forward to kiss it.
“Thank you, master,” she murmured, without having to be prompted. It earned her a brush of his hard fingers against her cheek.
Then she turned around, getting down on her hands and knees and lifting her butt to him.
He smoothed his hands over her, and she thought he might smack her ass, but he didn’t. He only warmed it a little with his big, battered hands, and then he set the plug to her asshole.
She breathed, then pushed out the way he’d taught her, and he slid the plug inside her in a single, smooth thrust, filling her that easily. That completely.
And everything inside her seemed to crystallize. Every breath was a shudder. Everything was hot and needy. If there was a wet and ruined world outside this little grip of dark, greedy hunger, Maud forgot it. There was only the enormous thing in her ass, her throbbing clit, and the dark, dangerous raider behind her, who laughed softly at the picture she made before him.
“Stay where you are,” he told her, and he smacked her then. Not hard. Just enough to make that plug light her up, the fire of it racing straight to her clit and making her sweat. “Tell me, Maud, when is the last time you bled?”
She could hardly think. Much less count back, with her face against the rug and Gunnar’s wicked hands behind her. He smacked her again. Then again.
“I don’t know…” she moaned out into the rug, moving her hips in a kind of drunk rhythm as he maintained that same pace, sending everything into shattered pieces and bright hot shards as she fought to keep from tipping over the edge.
She fought to think, as every just-hard-enough smack sent her spinning. And she could feel her orgasm coming at her the way it always did when he spanked her, dark and uncontrollable, all that pain and pleasure and Gunnar the same as far as her hungry pussy was concerned.
“The end of October,” she managed to get out. “Early November.”
“And what month is it now?” he asked, as gruff and certain as ever.
“December,” she panted at him, at the rug, her hands in fists as she fought the great, dark tide of sensation storming toward her. “The solstice was last week. Nearly January—oh.”
“Yes, my little nun. Oh.”
Gunnar smacked her harder then, directly on her pussy, and Maud exploded.
She shook and she shook, one sensation feeding on the next until she was sobbing into the carpet, and it was only when she’d collapsed, limp and wet-eyed, that she started to come back to herself.
And then Gunnar was picking her up, settling her across his lap so the shift of the plug inside her nudged her eyes open and there was nothing but the wall of his hard chest and his serious blue gaze on hers.
“I didn’t know,” she whispered, still sounding broken. “I didn’t think about it.”
“I can see that,” he murmured, brushing her hair back from her flushed cheek. “You’re lucky. The penalty for deliberately deceiving me would be much worse.”
She frowned at him. “I would never deliberately deceive you. I love you.”
“I believe that more and more with each day, little nun,” Gunnar said quietly. “Soon it will be a fact. Like the way I love you. Like the child you carry. My child.”
Satisfaction gleamed in his gaze, bright and very male.
“Do you really think…?”
“I do.” His voice was a low rasp. Deep and certain. “You bled regularly before now, then stopped. Your tits are more sensitive. You’ve suddenly decided you hate things you ate happily two weeks ago. And you’re sleeping more than you used to.” His mouth shifted into one of his rare smiles. “I’m sure.”
Maud shivered at that, and then again when he slid one of his great big hands over her belly and held it there.
She couldn’t imagine it. She tried to imagine a baby inside of her, then in her arms. A tiny mouth to her breast. A small, perfect creature with its father’s eyes. And she was amazed when something deep and warm rose up from a part of her she hadn’t known was there, flooding her with something a lot like joy.
As if she’d wanted this desperately. Maybe she had. Maud had never thought much about motherhood, at least not consciously, except the fact she wasn’t likely to have that option. She’d been promised to the church for other things. And then she’d promised herself to Gunnar and she hadn’t thought beyond him.
She hadn’t wanted to.
He’d taken her from a red desert and certain death, and he’d given her the whole world. He’d set her free. He kept her collared because he knew the collar — the symbol of his possession and his grip on her — allowed her to soar as high and as hard as she could.
He let her love him with all of her heart.
And now he was giving her a child, too, in this world that had so few.
Maud thought she might burst with all the things she felt, and she could see he felt them too. His marvelous eyes gleamed, dark and wild.
Filled with that same hot joy she could feel all over her, like his hands.
“You were supposed to kill me,” she whispered. “And instead you keep bringing me to life. Over and over again.”
He took her mouth then, her lethal raider who loved her. All of her. Who’d saved her even when he’d meant to destroy her. Who’d taught her about love and sex and the real, flesh and blood magic of both. Who knew her body better than she did. Who she trusted with every last part of herself.
She kissed him with all of that, her love and her life and the child they’d made, pouring it all into him until that fire burned inside of her all over again. Again and again. Until she was shifting against his lap, caught between the hard ridge of his cock and the rude intrusion of the plug that kept her from getting too comfortable or ever really backing away from that trembling storm of desire.
“You can’t possibly think I’m going to let you come again so soon, little nun,” Gunnar laughed against her mouth, and the laughter had that dark edge that sent goose bumps shivering down her arms and her spine, while sensation pooled in her clit and made it ache.
She loved him more every day. Every wicked, twisted part of him that matched her so completely.
“Of course not,” she agreed, and then laughed as he moved her, shifting her back off of his lap and onto the floor between his outstretched legs. On that sweet, soft rug.
“You failed to tell me you missed your monthly bleeding,” he said, very severely, though she knew that gleam in his gaze meant he was kidding. In his way. “You concealed the changes in your body.”
“I’m a remarkably wretched mate,” Maud agreed cheerfully. Then caught the warning lift of his brow. “I mean, master. I’m a wretched mate, master.”
She could feel the air of the room on her tender, likely pinkened ass. She could feel that enormous plug inside of her. Her breasts ached and her pussy was wet and hot and greedy all over again.
And she could tell from the way Gunnar gazed down at her that this was going to be a long night. Possibly even a pageant, the way he was studying her.
She was so lucky that sometimes she could hardly stand it.
“What can I possibly do to make up for all these sins?” she asked, unable to keep from grinning.
Gunnar reached down and traced his thumb over her lips, then unfastened his trousers, pulling out his smooth, perfect cock. Maud was instantly that much wetter, hotter, needier. And her mouth watered.
“Why don’t you start with a little prayer for forgiveness?” he asked her, his voice that rough caress that she thought would always make her feel exactly like this. Loved and wanted. Safe and wild.
“Amen,” Maud breathed.
And for a moment, they only smiled at each other, electric and a little bit giddy and flush with the knowledge that they were going to be parents. That they’d made a child in this dark world where hope was so hard to come by. They’d found each other and they’d made something better, two miracles in a place that didn’t believe in any.
Two miracles and it had only been six months. Imagine what lay ahead of them.
Maud smiled so hard she thought it might hurt her. Then she slid her hands up his thighs, bent to suck the thick head of his cock into her mouth, and prayed.
She prayed and she prayed.
Just the way he liked it.