Lies That BindBy Sara Maggs
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"All right, then. You tell me." Jenna
strode across and stood in front of Avon. "What the *hell* is wrong with us,
He stared at her for a minute, letting his gaze wander down her body: the full (and barely covered) breasts, the slender waist and hips, the long legs in leggings that fit like a second skin. Then back up to her perfect face, great flashing hazel eyes, and mane of golden hair. A lioness in a full-blooded rage, and magnificent.
"You tell me, Jenna."
She stared back at him, slender and panther-like in grace, a study in shades of darkness, but with pale, clear skin, cool brown eyes and that mouth ...
"There has to be something," Jenna snapped. "It's now been six months, Avon. Six months, two weeks and four days -"
"If one is counting."
"- We've been on this ship with Blake, and neither of us have managed to bed him yet. It's never taken me *more* than two weeks when I wanted a man this much. There has to be a reason."
"Of course there is. Presumably he doesn't want us."
Jenna stopped, and thought about it, and shook her head. "No."
"You don't believe it?"
"I don't want to believe it."
"Neither do I." He waved towards a seat, and picked up a bottle of something-not-entirely-unlike-whiskey developed (with Vila's assistance) by Zen. "And for your information," he said blandly, "it normally takes me less than four."
"We could always tie him down," Jenna suggested after her second glass.
"I hadn't actually considered that."
"You'd need help."
"Are you offering, Avon?"
He canted his head on one side, thinking about it. "Possibly." He poured himself another draught. "But no," gingerly sipping the stuff, "not if he's truly uninterested. Your pride wouldn't stand it any more than mine."
She shrugged, unable to deny it.
"A nice idea, though."
"It would be different," Avon gazed into his glass, "if we could believe it was simply disinterest in sex. Chaste and pure, in thrall to the goddess revolution ... or something like that."
Jenna snorted. "Tell that to Avalon." She laughed, a touch sourly, at his raised brow. "Oh yes, your poor but honest idealist. Surely you recall those long sessions of - political theory, wasn't it? - in his cabin?"
"And she said -?"
"Enough." She drained the glass and held it out for more. "The equipment of a Sirian centaur, apparently ... and the stamina as well. Oh yes, she told me all about it, in detail."
Avon's smile was stiletto-sharp. "I'm sure you were grateful."
"Immeasurably." She looked at him. "Maybe he only likes women -"
"No." Short and clipped. It was Jenna's turn to raise a brow. "Definitely - no. Sarkoff."
"*And* Tyce," he added drily.
"Then there was that woman from the Ortega," Jenna added morosely. "What was her name?"
"And three of the men as well."
She gazed at him for a minute, then bent her head. "No. It isn't a joking matter. All right, so it's only his own crew that's off limits. Damn."
"Perhaps," Avon murmured, "you should have said that *droit de seigneur* is an actual part of the captain's duties, but I'm afraid it's rather too late to convince Blake of that now. As for being off limits ..." He let his voice fade away, thinking.
"What? Avon, you don't mean ... you *do* mean ...? Cally?"
He glanced at her. "As you said about Avalon, there are those long sessions of - political theorising, that she and Gan have been -"
"Cally *and* Gan?"
"Let us say that both of them always seem to find those all-night discussions rather more fulfilling than I would expect, even from Blake's most fervent supporters."
"Now that is not fair." She put her glass down with something suspiciously like a thump. "When some of us have been throwing ourselves at Blake for months -"
"Sometimes quite literally," he said sweetly. "Of course, we don't *know* that they are sleeping with him. But," recalling the morning after the last political night before, Cally's distracted content, Gan's sunshiny beam, and Blake ... damn, Blake as calm and cheerful and unreasonable as ever. No proof there. "But perhaps they could tell us, if we were stupid enough to ask."
"Oh no, Avon," Cally said sweetly. "Of course I don't mind you asking. Sex is a natural and beautiful part of life, after all. My people have a saying -"
"I'm sure they do." Avon spoke hastily. "But you and Blake? Cally, forgive me ..."
"I am *not* that alien, Avon. No, I think he saw it as a challenge. He takes very well to challenges, you know that. And what with his size, and strength, and the physical differences to be overcome ... it was quite an experience." She smiled slightly, like a cat with the memory of cream. "Do you recall those alien hand tools he found in the lower hold? That no one could work out a use for? He's found several very unusual ways to -"
"Yes, I'm sure of that too." At least he wasn't, and made a mental point to find out. Later. "So how long have you both been involved with Blake?"
"Oh, months. Ever since Centero, actually. I went to his cabin to thank him, and he'd just been showering and hadn't dressed, and - well, have you *seen* him naked, Avon?"
"No. Not. Recently." Avon spoke through gritted teeth, recalling all too well the few times he'd seen Blake in the 'London' showers and barely able to believe he was discussing it anyway.
"I've never done *anything* with someone so - well, generous - so I asked him. And, once we worked out where everything could go, if you know what I mean ... he's good, Avon. Very very good."
"No, seriously, he can do it longer than any Auron, and then there's the way he can make me -"
"Cally." The last thing Avon wanted to hear was what he and Jenna had missed. Someone was going to pay for this - Blake, if necessary. And Avon could think of several methods of payment, each more involved and interesting than the last. In fact, thinking about it ...
Thinking about it, he almost missed Cally's next words. "Of course, I *didn't* know about Gan then. Or Vila."
"Oh yes ... well, why not? It isn't as if Blake hasn't - how did Vila put it? - hasn't plenty to go around. True?"
Rather too true, it appeared. So why he and Jenna had been excluded ...
Avon stopped, a single word ringing in his mind. Or rather, a single name. Somehow, some way, he knew it all had to do with ...
"I don't know, Jenna," Gan pushed aside the papers he was working on and looked up at her with round, placid eyes. "It seemed so right. Blake is ..." he stopped, searching for the words.
"Is he good?"
"Well, I think so, but then I never did this with an Alpha before. I mean, I've only had farmer's daughters, a lot of farmer's daughters." He stopped to think. "And a few farmer's sons. Blake isn't much like a farmer's daughter, you know."
"I imagine not." Jenna fought to keep a straight face, thanking Providence that it was not Avon listening to this. Though there *was* something wholesome about Blake, she would have thought, making a mental note to check out promising sites of rural rebellion.
"It's nice, actually. Sometimes a little ... Alphas must have more imagination, don't you? And I've wouldn't have thought it was possible to even reach some of the ... but it's nice. Well, so are farmer's daughters, but in a different way, if you know what I mean. He'd probably prefer someone more exciting, like you or Avon, but since you two are together -"
"We're - what?"
"Sleeping together. There's nothing wrong with that, we all know what it means. As Vila said, you're both rather - exclusive, aren't you?"
"*Vila* said -?"
"Of course. It was Vila who told us about you and Avon, suggested that you wouldn't want to share."
"Share -?" Jenna tried to shake off the urge to repeat Gan's words.
"Well, be reasonable, Jenna," Gan said mildly. "You know you wouldn't. It's funny, really, I thought at first that you both were after Blake, but Vila explained it to us all. He saw it so much earlier."
"Oh, did he?"
"It's only fair. I mean, Blake gives so freely, in sex as in everything else." Gan shrugged. "But he'd never ever interfere between you and Avon, nothing would ever make him do that. There's no way he'll ever touch either of you, you can be sure of that." He beamed at her.
Cally was still talking, blithely. "Well, after all, you and Jenna were together and didn't -"
"We - were -?" Avon stared at her.
"Of course. Once he realised it, Blake made it clear that you were both off limits. You know he would not dream of coming between you."
Avon firmly stamped on the image that provoked, and spoke with icy calm. "How did you find out - about us? I don't recall saying anything."
"It was obvious, really. The way you both looked, acted ... dressed ..." Cally spared a glance downwards. "Anyone could see you were both out to seduce *someone*."
Well, that much was true; Avon indicated for her to go on.
"I thought for a while it was Blake - silly, really. Once Vila pointed it out so carefully, it was obvious. So we leave you to it. Blake insists, and you know how stubborn he can be when he takes an idea into his head." She smiled, dazzlingly, at him. "After all - as Vila said - all the more for the rest of us."
"Oh he did," Avon smiled just as dazzlingly. "Did he?"
"We kill Vila."
"Agreed. Slowly and painfully."
"But first - given how long we've had to wait - we deal with Blake."
"And if he won't *be* dealt with?"
"He will. Your cabin, Jenna: you bring him, I'll bring the rope."
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