Read Beyond the Shadows Online

Authors: Cassidy Hunter

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Romantic, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Dystopian, #Romance, #erotic, #Fantasy

Beyond the Shadows (2 page)

Chapter Two


Sarah barely had time to catch her breath once Kai had sent for her. Half disbelieving, she’d left the hall with only the clothes on her back. Her driver had helped her into the carriage, and there she was left to agonize in silence until they reached Kai’s enormous compound.

The driver stopped the horses. She’d been unable to resist sticking her head out one of the small windows to watch the heavy, barred gates open and the guard wave them inside. He’d winked at her as the carriage passed him, but she couldn’t muster a smile in return.

No matter how many deep breaths she pulled in, she could not calm the nerves that gnawed at her stomach.

She twisted her head from side to side, knowing it was useless to look for Con but unable to stop. What if he was one of the men repairing the old, high walls surrounding the compound? He might have been working in the large vegetable gardens, or maybe he was high in one of the apple trees picking the precious June fruit.

More likely, he was wasting away in the prison, untouched by sunlight as his spirit died and his body withered. She needed to know. Nothing could be worse than what she imagined.

The compound grounds were extremely well tended, and no man or woman idled that she could see. They toiled in the sun, and finally she did smile as the sound of soft female voices raised in song reached her ears.

How different was the settlement of New Haven from
. Kai put to work any able-bodied person who asked for it, or so she’d heard. If he had no work on his compound, he helped find them a place baking or gardening or building in the settlement.

Still, he’d imprisoned her brother. She could not allow herself to think of him as a decent human being. He was her enemy.

Now she stood before him, awaiting his verdict. Awaiting the words that would ease her fear.
Sarah, you can stay.

“You’ll do exactly what I say, when I say it. Those are the rules. Will you stay, or do you want out?”

She clutched her hands, a quick spurt of panic swirling in her stomach, the shining sun almost too hot on her skin. For a moment she was overcome with turbulent emotions. Joy, relief, disbelief, and fear punched at her insides, but she forced herself to remain calm. She could
make a mistake now. She was too close to achieving the only thing that really mattered to her anymore. Saving her brother.

God no, she didn’t want out. “I will stay.” He was the only protector she knew of who offered his women an out once they belonged to him. Of course, no one would be stupid enough to take the offer.

He raised an eyebrow, his blue gaze hot enough to set her on fire.

“Good. Take off your clothes.”

“I… Here?

“Here. Now.”

She swallowed—hard—and stepped out of her sandals. The soft grass caressed her feet. Soft green blades lodged between her toes, teasing her with the cool delight of summer. Had it not been for her situation, she would have taken time to revel in the sensation. She’d learned to take such small joys when and where she could find them. But this was not the time.

Threads of confusion rippled through her. From everything she’d learned about Kai
, he treated women carefully, respectfully. Why, then, was he behaving like an uncaring, overbearing man with

“Do you know how you came to be here, Sarah?” His voice was conversational as he walked to the wooden bench beneath the willow tree and stretched out to watch her.

“Because you accepted my petition.” She glanced around at the members of his household, who were rushing about on some errand or the other, a couple of them throwing swift glances her way. Kai’s compound was beautifully maintained, and it was no wonder. He must have hired most of the settlement to make sure his compound did not fall into disrepair.

“Yes, yes, but there were dozens of females petitioning. Do you know why I chose you?”

“No.” Slowly, she pushed her threadbare, colorless pants over her hips and kicked them away.

“I’m in a hurry. Get your clothes off.” He kept his voice smooth and impersonal, as though he were talking about the weather. He crossed his long, muscled legs at the ankle and rested his arms along the back of the bench.

Kai was…breathtaking. His masculine, incredibly good looks, along with his power and protection, made him irresistible. His hair was straight and long, silky thickness a woman could get lost in. His eyes were a piercing, deep blue, surrounded by thick dark lashes. And his body… Perfection, that body. He was big, but every inch was muscled and defined. Kai
had become something of an obsession, and now she was here. She was
. Just like she’d planned.

She shivered, even though the sun was hot and bright and there was no breeze to cool her fevered skin. His voice was dark sin, and it poured over her like the creamy, melted chocolate she’d been given once when she was a prisoner of

Commander Kai
was one of the most sought-after protectors throughout all the settlements. And she’d landed him. Any of the chosen petitioning women, if they could keep him, would be taken care of for the rest of their lives. If not for the fact that this was the only way she could slip past Kai’s defenses, Sarah would have turned her nose up at being a protected woman. But she would give her very soul to this man to save her little brother.

“You’re mine now,” Kai said, as though reading her thoughts. “Say it.”

She let her long hair cover her breasts as she threw her only shirt to the side. “I am yours. I belong to you.”
To Kai
. She shivered again.

“Brush your hair over your shoulders, Sarah. I want to see your breasts again.”

Again, yes. For, after she had petitioned for Kai, she’d been sent naked every day to a roomful of other petitioning females, all hoping to land the protector of their dreams. The petitioning males were in a separate hall. When Kai had walked into the hall—


She started, realizing her mind had wandered and her hands had stilled. “I’m sorry.” She pushed her hair over her shoulders, where it cascaded nearly to her bare bottom. Kai liked long hair. She’d made it her business to find out exactly what appealed to him.

“Come closer.”

She walked to stand before him, feeling his gaze on her nude body like a physical thing. Two men leaned against a tree a few feet behind Kai. With staring eyes and faces full of lust, they made no attempts to pretend she was not the object of their heated regard. In spite of the audience, her legs quivered, from excitement, from fear. From desire.

She’d lived through a lot of terrible things over the last few years. If she freed Constantine, it would all be worth it. After all, Con was in prison because of her. He’d tried to save her. She could do no less for him.

“You’re stunning, Sarah.” Kai kept his hands on the bench back, but his gaze roamed her body.

“Thank you.”

“Welcome to my home. As long as you obey me and don’t cause too much trouble”—and this was said with a slight twinkle to his eyes—“I’ll be happy to keep you.”

She’d done it. She pushed the back of her hand into her lips, forcing back a sob. Now all she had to do was manage to keep

He stood, stretching. “It’ll be okay now.” He did touch her then, his fingertips brushing her breast with a feathery caress. “Leave your clothes. You won’t need them for a while, and when you get dressed again, I’ll have new things brought for you.”

As if they’d been waiting, women surrounded her as he walked away, blocking her view of his body. Muttering and cackling, they hustled her inside the huge double doors at the entrance to the mansion.

“I’m here,” she whispered, barely able to believe it.

And tonight, she’d be in Kai’s bed.

Chapter Three


Kai stood in his office, staring out into the dark night. He barely noticed the hulking black shapes of the trees as they guarded his compound. The moon bathed them in soft, quiet light, and usually the scene relaxed him, soothed him. Not tonight, though. He couldn’t stop thinking about Sarah. His low resistance to her was pissing him off, but he couldn’t shake her from his thoughts. Didn’t really want to.

For the first time since
betrayal, he found himself contemplating letting another woman into his heart. Letting her in, hell. She’d slid in like an insidious shadow, giving him little choice in the matter. And that was just strange. Why did he sit here mooning over this new woman?

had taken off with a trader from a settlement up north, he’d sworn no woman would hold his heart again. It was just too much trouble. And hurt too fucking much. His sister had drowned. His mother had been killed by a disfigured wanderer from the shadows, that obscure territory beyond the settlements. Every woman he’d loved had, on purpose or not, squeezed the life from his heart.

And yet here he was, thinking about Sarah. Maybe because something about her was familiar. Something that niggled at the edges of his mind, and he couldn’t figure out what. He didn’t know this woman. Yet she reminded him of someone. Her eyes…

Murky images swam through his mind, and he reached in vain for an elusive memory.

He frowned. What memory, though? Her haunted eyes, deep with sorrow but bright with lingering innocence, were what got to him. Held him as surely as a knife to his throat.

But he knew without a doubt that he’d never seen her before. He wouldn’t have forgotten her. He paced, something he always did when his mind was weighted with worry. He’d gotten that from his dad. The man who’d seen to it that little Kai would grow up never worrying about being someone else’s lackey. Kai would grow up to help run the settlement his great-great-grandfather had founded. He would protect, with the help of his sheriffs, the people who lived here and depended on him. His father wouldn’t have had it any other way.

And he did. Too bad he hadn’t protected his family. His mother, his sister…

It hadn’t mattered that his family had lived in this very compound, which was more protected than any other place in the settlement. He still hadn’t been able to keep his mother and sister safe.

Swallowing hard at the discomfort this thought brought, he left the office. His mind was traitorous tonight, taking him places he was not willing to go.

He could handle the strangeness of Sarah more easily than the pain of his past. He went willingly to her room, seeing no one in the halls but a young guard leading his lady away for a night of pleasure. They both grinned at him as he walked by them, the guard winking, the girl ducking her head, her rosy cheeks and dancing eyes assuring Kai she was happy to be there.

He had no memories of being that carefree. Or that happy.

When he reached her room, he waited quietly outside her door, listening. Nothing but silence came from inside.

Finally, he went in, unwilling to let some late-night wanderer catch him staring wistfully at her door.

Kai stood beside the bed, watching the sleeping woman. Sarah was a beauty, no doubt about that, but he could have his pick of beautiful women. He was just infatuated with her at the moment. Maybe something in her called to the hope inside him, the hope that seemed to linger no matter what he saw in his hard world. No matter what he’d lost. No matter what he’d

He sighed, hoping there was nothing more to it. His possessiveness of her was scaring the fuck out of him. She was just another woman. Just another woman.
Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

His gaze wandered over her body, which was scrubbed clean and so heavily perfumed he was sure all her natural oils and…flavors…had been chased away. And that was not a good thing.

She belonged to him now. Only to him. Because of this, he could allow her time to herself. He smiled and forced himself not to touch her. At least he would give her this first night to relax. But after tonight…

His already hard dick became uncomfortable with unsatisfied need, and he adjusted himself with a sigh. He’d go to Corinne tonight. As much as he wanted to spread Sarah’s legs and sink into her luscious warmth, he’d let her have her first night alone.

She stirred as he watched, her beautiful legs twitching restlessly. He found himself hoping she’d awaken and reach for him. Why should he give her a night alone? Maybe she wouldn’t even want to be alone. He closed his eyes, stifling a groan.

Maybe he just needed to know he could still maintain some sort of control around her. He could not allow himself to follow her around with his tongue out. But no matter how he steeled himself or how determined he was to prove he had the upper hand, he wanted her nearly too much to care.

He had to get out of here, or he would give in to his body’s needs. As much as he’d given her a hard time and had made her aware he was now her master, the woman would come to know him as a soft touch. “Sleep well, Sarah,” he whispered.

But he lingered, enjoying her full lips and pale skin, the dark lashes lying against flawless cheeks with just a hint of dusky color. Long dark hair wound over white shoulders and framed her magnificent, full breasts. His gaze trailed over small red nipples that were like ripe berries. Mentally he slipped one of those nipples between his lips, sucking it to a plump firmness, rolling his tongue around it…

Between her thighs lay the lips he most longed to kiss, to taste. He shook his head, trying to dislodge the hold this woman had on him, on his body. She was perfection. Everything he loved was in this one small package. Physically, anyway. He had a lot to learn about this dream of a girl.

If he didn’t go now, he wasn’t going to.

He’d lose himself between Corinne’s ample thighs, though he was sure it’d be this one’s face he saw when he closed his eyes.

Chapter Four


Her first thought on awakening was the disappointing realization that he hadn’t come to her. This was not a good start. Sarah punched her pillow. She’d wasted an entire application of her homemade spermicidal cream. The contents in her little pot were dwindling, but because she had no idea if he would come this morning, she applied some more, just in case.

She’d ask one of the women to fetch the ingredients to make more. There were many women in this house. They would know what she needed.

Damn him. Why hadn’t he come?

Kai was known for rescuing women. Perhaps in his eyes, she was merely another one of his strays. She couldn’t give up. Con’s life depended on her success.

She had to get her brother out, help him start over. Life beyond the shadows might be scary, but they’d be free. She hoped.

Her heart pounded against her ribs at the quiet knock on her door, and she took a deep breath. He’d come. At last.

“Come in.”

But it wasn’t the commander who entered the room. She relaxed her jaw, unsure whether she was relieved or angry. “Who are you?”

“It’s breakfast time, miss. I’ve brought you a tray.”

Sarah pushed herself up, shoving her hair out of her face, then pulling the soft sheet over her nakedness. “I could have gone downstairs to eat.” But really, she couldn’t have. She had no clothes. She watched the bustling woman, who was efficient and no nonsense, but warm and friendly with her oversize body and red cheeks, quick smile, and black, flashing eyes. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Teddy, Miss.” She put Sarah’s tray across her lap and jerked open the drapes.

“And I’m Sarah, Teddy. Not Miss. It’s nice to meet you.” Teddy would surely hate her if she knew Sarah’s only wish was to control Kai, not to love him.

As though her thoughts had summoned him, he stepped through her doorway. “Leave us alone, Teddy.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Thank you for breakfast, Teddy,” Sarah called, but Teddy hurried from the room with no indication she’d even heard Sarah.

She lifted her tray and put it carefully on the bedside table, then folded her hands in her lap and stared at them as though they held life’s secrets. Hoping he couldn’t somehow see her heart beating hard and fast.


She looked at him, her stomach jumping anxiously. “Yes?”

“Did you sleep well?”


His frown was there and gone so quickly she might have imagined it. “I was busy with other things, or I would have come to you.”

She forced her eyes blank. “Oh, I quite enjoyed my rest. I was very tired.” She smiled.

“Hmm. Well, tonight, I’ll come if time permits.”

She nodded. “I will wait for you.”

“Good.” He gave her sheet-covered body a glance. “Throw the sheet aside, Sarah.”

She did as he bid, her face schooled into calm blandness. Sitting naked in the bed with his stare penetrating every inch of exposed flesh, she prayed he would not sense that moisture pooled between her thighs and that her breasts ached for his lips.

She could scarcely feign indifference if her body would not cooperate. He stalked closer, his gaze on her stiffening nipples.

He stared. “Open your legs for me.”

She took a small satisfaction from his hoarse voice. Bending her knees, she let them fall open beneath his dark, hot gaze. “Like this?”

The breeze from the ceiling fan caressed her sensitive clitoris, and she bit back a gasp.
Oh God
. She was ripe, swollen, ready for him. She’d made herself into a craving, sexy goddess for this very man, and despite the fact that she would betray him, she wanted his touch more than she’d ever wanted anything.

She dug her nails into her outer thighs, waiting.

“Do you want me to fuck you, Sarah?”

“Ye—” She cleared her throat and tried again. “Yes.”

He folded his arms and leaned against the bedpost. “Touch yourself. Slowly. I want to watch you pleasure your body.”

She skimmed a hand over her thigh, touching a fingertip to her eager clit. She closed her eyes.

“Open your eyes, Sarah. Look at me.”

She met his gaze before he dropped his to watch her fingers. She saw his hand tighten on the bedpost.

“Continue.” His voice caressed, soft as the kiss of a feather.

Again, she closed her eyes.

Kai was too caught up in her actions to notice, and she continued massaging between her legs, her eyes closed. She dipped her fingers in liquid heat, then trailed them over the swollen bit of flesh aching for release. She’d been building up to this for a long time.


Her eyes flew open, but she only waited for him to look away before letting them flutter shut. In the back of her mind was the realization that she actually wanted to watch him. Watch him watch her. Still, she kept her eyes firmly closed.


She spread her legs as far as possible. This wasn’t right. He should have been all over her by now. Time to kick up the heat.

It wouldn’t take any acting. She ran a hand over her belly, up to cup a full breast, before rubbing her palm over a distended nipple. Pleasure shot through her, and she moaned. Picking up the pace between her legs, she stroked her clit faster, harder.

“Open your fucking eyes, Sarah.” She did as he commanded, though he might not have noticed had she not. His gaze was glued to her body, his lips parted. The bedpost made an ominous creaking sound as he squeezed it, his fingers white.

She arched her back, pushing her breasts toward him. “Oh,” she moaned. “I need—” And she ran a finger inside herself, in and out, just in case he needed the visual to convince himself that his cock could, and should, replace her fingers.

Still, he remained firmly in place, though his eyes darkened and his face flushed from the effort. “Sarah,” he said from between clenched teeth.

“Oh!” With a sudden movement, she flipped to her belly, raising her ass in the air as she continued moving her fingers furiously. “Oh!”

The view must have finally been too much for him, because he muttered a curse and she heard his shoes hit the wall.

She twisted her head around to watch him.

His hot stare on her body, he pushed his pants over his hips and kicked them away, then jerked his shirt over his head.

“Oh God,” she whispered and slowed her fingers. Rubbing her clit gently, she hoped he would stand there and let her masturbate as she took in his nude body.

His long dark hair streaked over his broad shoulders and his arm muscles bunched as he gathered the hair and slung it back, out of his way.

Though his big body seemed to vibrate with impatience, he stood there and let her stare at him, his fists clenched at his sides.

“Kai,” she whispered. His name tasted like honey, so she tried it again.

He growled, his erection hard and tempting, and she shivered as delighted chills shot through her body. Her hands ached to
the large sac between his legs, and her mouth watered at the thought of tasting his hard cock.

Her heartbeat galloped, and she began to pant, her pussy clenching as she imagined him sinking into her. “Kai, please.”

At her hoarse, whispered plea, he strode to the bed, and she buried her face in her pillow as she held her breath, waiting.

The mattress sank as he climbed up behind her. He grasped her hips with a firm grip and shoved his cock inside her with one fluid movement. “

She cried out as his hardness, his hugeness, slammed into her, thrusting with such force she felt a momentary pain. Then, orgasm building, she pushed her ass against him, giving as good as she got.

His balls slapped against her, and she reached back between her legs to grasp his sac, squeezing it as he fucked her.

He groaned, slapping her ass as he tightened his free hand on her hip. At her squeal, he smacked her again. “Take your hand away,” he ordered, his voice so hot and bothered she knew her squeezes were pushing him too far.

The thought pleased her, and instead of doing as he commanded, she squeezed harder.

“Sarah!” He smacked her ass again, but she only wiggled against him in delight and refused to take her hand from his balls.

He stopped moving. His cock still filled her, steady and throbbing, and he held her hips so she could not thrust back against him. “Stay still.” His voice was firm and dark and dared her to argue.

“No!” That was all she could manage as she squirmed, so close to her orgasm it was torture not reaching it.

He slapped her ass, hard enough to sting. “I told you to stay still.”

“I need to come!”

“I’m not ready for you to.”

“But I can come more than once.” She frowned and slid her hand to her pussy, determined to climax one way or the other.

But he grabbed her wrists and yanked her arms behind her, where he held them with one big hand.

“That hurts, Kai,” she said, moaning. “Let go!”

He trailed his free hand over her lower back, then to her ass. “You need to calm down. When I allow you to come, it’s going to be worth the wait, sweetheart.”

She shuddered and screamed into her pillow. “Fuck you.”

He only laughed. Still holding her wrists securely, he caressed around her pussy, his fingers teasingly close to her clit. He slid an exploring finger inside her, then slowly pulled it almost all the way out before slipping it back inside.

She lay helpless with her face in the pillow and her ass in the air, unable to do anything but accept his tormenting touches. He fucked her with his fingers until she began to stop fighting him and once again felt her orgasm approaching.

“Oh yes.” She moaned, her pussy throbbing and hot and wet.

He withdrew his fingers and slapped her again, delivering a loud slap that bounced off the walls. “Not yet.”

She struggled, enraged, but almost coming anyway from his spanking and his commanding, deep voice.

“Bastard!” she yelled, her voice muffled but clear enough for him to understand her.

His palm came down again on her smarting, quivering cheeks. And again. Then he ran his fingers over her clit, kneading the swollen bit of flesh, and she could only moan into her pillow. He was killing her. Surely, she would die.

He continued massaging her clit until she quieted. She held her breath as her climax loomed. It was right there, close enough to touch, close enough to taste, when he took his fingers from her clit.

Oh my God
. Please, Kai, I
you. Let me come!”

“Are you ready to do as I tell you?”

“Oh yes, yes!”

He dipped his fingers into the hot wetness of her pussy, then gently pushed one into her ass.

She squealed and jerked but could not get away from his intruding finger.

, baby. Be still.”

Immediately she stilled.

“Good girl.” Carefully, slowly, he slid his finger in and out of her ass.

She relaxed as her body accepted him, waiting with breathless anticipation as he pulled his finger almost all the way out, then slid it back inside.

God, it was good. So good. She’d never felt this aroused. He stimulated her as though he knew every single thing her body wanted, whether her mind knew it or not.

When he released her arms, they fell to the bed like lax, numb appendages that didn’t belong to her, and she didn’t dare move them.

In and out of her ass, he thrust his finger, then used his other hand to push a finger into her pussy. Faster and harder with short, forceful thrusts, he brought her, staggering and desperate, to the edge of a sharp, consuming orgasm.

“Please, Kai. Please.”

And at last, he gave her what she wanted. Grasping her hips, he slammed his big cock into her with such force she would have hit the headboard had he not been holding on to her.

There was no real romance in that coupling, just the desperate need of two people: a woman dedicated to saving her brother’s life, and a man who had been pushed to the edge of desire.

She screamed her orgasm to the world. It crashed over her with a thunderous, overwhelming force, and for a moment, her brain couldn’t accept what her body was feeling. The wait had been worth it. So worth it.

Subtle whispers of doubt came to her even as she lost herself in the sensations of her climax; she couldn’t remember sex being quite this intense before.

And she couldn’t remember a man fitting her as well as he did. Fucking him was more than pleasure.

It was

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