A whore is a whore is a whore.

Except when he’s something else completely.


From the writings of King Helios Dayspring, High Priest of the Temple of the Sun


Chapter One


I SAT back on a stiff wooden bench, hidden slightly behind the broad reptilian form of U’shma, my oh-so-beloved pimp and owner. Cautiously I surveyed the seedy tavern he’d dragged me into. It was the Trell 57, and unfortunately, I wasn’t a stranger to the place. The fact that we were here at all meant two things. Well, actually it meant three things.

Firstly, U’shma was broke, and the only way for him to supplement his income was to throw the veil over my face and the hood over my head and pander me out. Secondly, U’shma’s itch to gamble must be overwhelming at the moment. Addiction was weakness, and if he was weak, I might be able to exploit him. Or I might suffer. Badly. And thirdly, by morning, my jaws would ache and my ass would burn.

Life really reeked.

All the whores being peddled at the T57 were male, not because of the preference of the clientele, but simply because the place is fucking dangerous. No offense to the females, but they’re simply too rare and precious to risk in a hellhole like this. The place was crawling with surly miners and unhappy travelers forced to wait for the next transport to someplace better. Pretty much anywhere was better than the T57. In fact, most any planet must be better than Warlan, with its dusty red soil and oppressively hot days. As far as I know, there are no sentient species native to this rock.

Crude as it was, there were rules in this tavern. No activated weapons. No illegal pharmaceuticals. Whores had to be appropriately escorted and were forbidden to peddle their services directly to the clients. In addition, planetary law kept us in the formal veil and hood. Poor johns couldn’t even see what they were buying.

Not that most of the men cared—as long as they got their rocks off. Why did U’shma choose such a charming establishment? Well, the clientele at the T57 were bored and desperate for diversion. In addition, he could hustle twice as many clients in half the time than it would take at a more reputable house, where I might actually be expected to interact with a customer.

The last time I’d had time to talk to a client, I’d managed to convince him to smuggle me out of the place and onto his ship. Unfortunately Port Security found me within hours and delivered me home safe and sound, much to my rescuer’s chagrin. He’d been hoping for weeks of unlimited access to my body. After that stunt, he’d probably kicked his heels in a Warlan jail for a week or two.

So there I sat while U’shma scanned the crowd for a suitable target, and I surveyed the room for escape routes. My foresight had saved our lives more than once. Like I said, the place wasn’t particularly safe. But more than that, I was still looking for an exit off the planet. After a couple standard years with U’shma, it was time to leave. Destination? Unknown. As was purpose in life and the simple knowledge of the name I’d been born with. I simply knew that I was meant to be elsewhere.

That was probably the worst part, not knowing the origin or purpose of my existence. For now I was Pasha. That was common vernacular for “slave.” U’shma had never bothered to give me a name of my own. I couldn’t remember any other name from my past. So Pasha was fine for now.

I was a slave; that much was clear. U’shma was the third owner I could remember. Memories of brutal training occasionally surfaced when some strange creature had me kneeling between his knees, a cruel hand twisted into my long hair, my mouth stretched around an alien body part that was never intended for human attention. The other two owners were vague memories, faceless people with names I could not recall.

I was spared the horror of sex with U’shma, who preferred my cooking to my cock. Thankfully we were anatomically incompatible, and my saliva burned his skin. At worst, he’d get a bit drunk and make me strip naked and watch as he masturbated. And believe me, watching U’shma whack his bone-spiked phallus was almost as bad as doing the real thing with a filthy scat miner.

Yeah… that kind of scat. Lovely planet, eh?

If there is a God, he does have a sense of humor, or he wouldn’t have made U’shma.

He’d won me in a card game and couldn’t wait to unwrap his package when he got home. It took mere seconds to determine that he was allergic to humans and that his blunt, sawlike cock wouldn’t fit into any orifice I possessed. Lucky for me, he immediately fell in love with my cooking. Unlucky for me, he also saw the benefit of owning a cash cow. U’shma was too lazy to haul his scaly tail out to pimp me on a regular basis, so my life was generally dull, but not intolerable. I cooked, I cleaned, and then I sat in my bare little room, dreaming of another life. Sad to say, the occasional trips to the T57 were the most exciting moments of my life with U’shma.

The exit at the back of the tavern was blocked by a broken table, but the route to the private playing rooms was open. There was a back exit near the hidden cubicles that were available for rent by the hour or by the night. Those who couldn’t afford to rent a cube took their pleasure right in the tap room. Nasty as it seems, I preferred the pinch-pennies. It kept me out in plain view of all. Less likely to take a beating that way.

Or a rape.

I continued to evaluate the room, when my attention was caught by a long, lean figure sprawled negligently at a table near the back exit. Even seated, it was plain that he was taller than the average humanoid. He was hard muscled and battle worn. His black hair was overlong and tumbled in a wavy mass down his neck. The profile he gave me was hard as a blade. An arched nose accentuated cruel, sensuous lips. He wore a black leather patch over one eye, and a scar bisected his high, hard cheekbone. Since he was blind on my side, I took the occasion to watch him openly. He couldn’t possibly see me behind the veil, but I was certain he felt my stare.

He surveyed the room slowly, stopping to watch a whore take position between a gambler’s knees. After a few moments, the pirate reached down and readjusted his cock and then turned his attention elsewhere. He might be interested, but he was here for a reason other than sex.

But God! His head turned slowly in our direction, and my mouth grew dry. My head spun at the impact of that gaze. His remaining eye was black as night and as fierce as flame. I felt the weight of his gaze from behind the veil, where my eyes were covered by a mesh panel. He looked at me for a few heartbeats and then moved on.

I shifted uncomfortably; my cock had grown long and heavy beneath the sheer gauzy robes that covered me from head to foot. Pain lanced through me as it reached the limits allowed by the chastity ring that shackled me. Every instinct urged me to cross the room, to take his arms and look into that dark face… to make him see me.

Sadly I could only go where summoned, and not far from the dark man, a nervous-looking human was gesturing to U’shma. My chest went tight as my owner rose to begin negotiations with the john. They whispered and they argued, and finally U’shma signaled defeat. Not really defeat—the twitch of his blunt fingers told me he’d negotiated a higher-than-expected price.

Rising smoothly to my feet, I carefully manipulated the folds of fabric that shrouded my body and face. There were perhaps three seconds for me to decide on a course of action. An erupting fight in my path held me steady in place, buying a few more seconds and ultimately, the opportunity to act. I’d paused within a few paces of the dark man when a body inevitably slammed into mine, throwing me in his direction. My hand lashed out, knocking over the goblet of sweetwine sitting on the table.

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered as the bloodred fluid soaked into his shirt and beaded off the battered black leather of his pants. He growled in annoyance and stood, hands brushing at the wet stains. I was tall, but he towered over me. His shoulders were nearly as wide as U’shma’s blockish form, and the black eye was as fierce as I’d imagined it would be.

Once again my lust surged, my heart pounded, and I knew that this man could not be allowed to walk away.

“Sir, I do apologize for his clumsiness. Please allow me to help!”

U’shma was patting at the stranger with a kerchief, annoying the man even more. Finally the pirate dropped back into his chair, snarling in anger. I stood meek and subservient, with my hands neatly folded and my head bowed, watching as U’shma waved for more wine. It wasn’t a surprise when he dropped into the chair opposite the man as though they were old friends. No doubt my erstwhile client had fled in fear of his life. U’shma was a top-rate con artist; he wouldn’t allow that loss to deter his plans. Within seconds he’d hauled out a set of cards, tempting the stranger into a game to sweeten his time.

“And as apology for ruining your clothing, my boy here will be glad to service you. No charge, good sir.” He poked me and obediently I dropped to my knees, waiting for the stranger to accept or reject the offer. He looked me over, no doubt seeing heavily lined gray eyes behind the mask but little else. He grunted in acceptance, and I awkwardly crawled under the shelter of the table and folded the robes to cushion my knees.

I knew my job—keep him unsettled, distracted. U’shma was a conniving old bastard. We’d played this game before. Kneeling between the stranger’s spread legs, I palmed my cock, moaning silently at the agony of denial. Unless he hired me for the night, my climax was expressly forbidden. I mean, what if the next client wanted to be fucked? It happened often enough. The electromagnetic cock-and-ball ring kept me in a continual state of discomfort. U’shma kept the remote that would free me, and that particular service cost the client dearly.

The stranger’s legs were long and hard as iron beneath the leather of his pants. I ran my palms over the insides of his thighs, wondering how much foreplay I dared to indulge in. It really depended on the game they played up on top of the table. U’shma tapped once on my right shoulder, telling me to take it slow.

Fine by me.

Running my hands up his groin, I felt the length of his cock. He was aroused. Through the supple leather, it was hard and broad and hot to the touch. I rolled my face over it, sliding my hands up to his stomach, where the skin was a bit sticky with wine. Swiftly I pulled the shirt up higher, unlaced his trousers, and then, lifting the veil, lowered my mouth to his belly, slowly licking his skin clean. My lips tingled. The house wine here packed quite a kick; I’d probably pick up a mild buzz just by cleaning him up. Briefly, I wondered if his wine had been tainted. Someone might have paid for his sweetwine to have been drugged. It happened.

He shifted a bit, which told me to get down to business. Reluctantly I left the hard planes of his abdomen and followed his silent command. With a gentle nudge, I urged his hips up and slid the leathers down. Much as I’d like him bare-ass naked, they couldn’t come down far, not with my kneeling so close.

His cock spilled out, as hard and dark with blood as I’d have imagined. Even in the dim light under the table, I could see the thick shaft capped by a heavy, graceful head. Again my cock gave an answering surge, which was rather amusing. As often as I serviced men, clients rarely stirred me.

Maybe I just had a thing for big, battle-scarred warriors.

Gently I worked my hands into his pants and lifted out his scrotum. I rolled his balls in my hand and then paused. Make that… ball. He had only one. That didn’t seem to be affecting his pleasure, though. I lowered my face to the silky skin and gently cherished that single orb, taking care not to injure what had already been so badly damaged. I ran the tip of my tongue over ridges of scar tissue there. I was gentle… so very gentle. He became very still in his chair. I paused until he flexed his hips, urging me on.

Raising my head again, I shifted his heavy cock to the side and laved my tongue over the surprisingly soft skin of his belly, picking up sweet wine and salty man as I followed the trail of fine hair up to his navel and then back down to his groin. His pubic hair was thick and wiry, and I nuzzled into it, grasping the root of his shaft to hold him ready.

The first taste made me shiver. I lapped up the salty tear of precum and let the thick hood of his cock slip between my lips.

He was big and powerful, and I adjusted my position, angling his cock so he didn’t accidently slam my head into the table. That was an occupational hazard around here. I’d seen whores carried out unconscious and bleeding after their client got a little too enthusiastic at the moment of truth. He was strong, and I was a little too tall to give a blowjob with the table above my head, so extra caution was called for.

When I took him deeply into my mouth, he sighed. Not much—he probably didn’t even betray himself to U’shma, but I saw it… felt it. For a few moments, I allowed him to gently ride my mouth, shifting my hand so that the penetration wasn’t too deep.

And then I let him go, placed one fist at the base, squeezing hard, and nuzzled down to his scrotum again.

If I could reach, I’d have fucked his tight ass with my finger, but that wasn’t happening. Not this time. And somehow I got the feeling that this man was just dominant enough to refuse that particular service. But he’d probably be more than willing to dish it out. That thought made me shiver in delicious fear.

I played. Up the length with my tongue, and then down with my lips. I pushed his foreskin back and teased that tiny, precious spot behind his cockhead. I kissed my way down that faint line of skin as far as I could possibly go. When he drew close—so close that he grew that shade harder—I opened my mouth as wide as possible and laid my teeth in warning at the base of his cock. His hips jerked.

God only knows what compelled me to do it—he was so fucking close, and I knew my instructions—but I wanted this man to come. I wanted his seed on my skin and in my mouth. I wanted his hands on me, his skin against mine. I wanted to make him want me so very badly that he’d pay for the night. Just one night. Was it completely inappropriate to pray for such a thing?

I bore down slightly into the meaty flesh of his cock, feeling him go still… so very still. He liked that… a lot. Releasing the pressure, I dragged my teeth up the length of his shaft, then slid my incisors lightly over the ridge of his cockhead. It would be too much for most men. Not him. My pirate liked a kiss of pain.

Without warning, his rock-hard hand came down and fisted into the veil. I could see his belly pumping. No doubt he was panting for air. His hips thrust as I swallowed his cock. As his hot semen spilled into my mouth, his hand dug under the fabric of my veil, trembling fingers skimming over the surface of my skin. He traced the hollows of my eyes, the slender length of my nose. Pushing back the covering on my head, he dug his hand into the long braid of my hair and held tightly, his fingers flexing convulsively as his climax twisted his body.

He pulled away, and I let his semi-erect shaft slip from my mouth, but he did not release me. In fact, he pulled me closer to his body until my face was pressed against the damp warmth of his groin. He adjusted his pants and then cupped the side of my head in his hard palm. I rested there between his powerful thighs, feeling oddly safe and content. He continued to stroke my hair, tracing the angles of my face, almost as though he were seeing me through the rough tips of his fingers. When they trailed over my lips, I opened my mouth, and the callused pads slid over my teeth. I closed my lips over his fingers and sucked, and then released him.

U’shma didn’t call me back up, so I carefully adjusted my position, smiling when the stranger clasped my braid, not allowing me to move far. Once I was sitting comfortably between his legs, I rested my head against his thigh, letting my eyes slip closed. The conversation between the two was scant, and as hours passed, it grew terse, nearly angry.

Money changed hands, and then changed hands again. I heard my owner curse, and then later, laugh in delight. As he’d originally won me in a game of chance, it occurred to me to pay attention. My fate might be in play there above my head.

“His paperwork for this hand.”

U’shma’s laughter was harsh and angry. He was clearly down by many points. “No, I think not. Perhaps… a visit until I retire for the evening. That gives you two, perhaps three hours.”

“No. If not his papers, his service until I depart.”

They continued in this vein for several minutes, during which my hopes rose and fell with every offer and counteroffer. At some point the flask of wine was passed to me under the table; I drank gladly, letting the wine lull me into a slumberous haze. For the first time in my brief memory, I felt confident in allowing another to take control of my safety. I didn’t sleep, not quite.

“Pasha… wake up!”

A sharp kick from U’shma’s pointed shoe jerked me awake. I clumsily adjusted the veil and headscarf and stiffly crawled out from under the table. Truly, I had no clue of my age; I was not old, but surely too old to fall asleep under a table. The stranger looked strained yet pleased. U’shma looked pissed. But it’s difficult not to look pissed when the Maker gives you a damp, blue-gray snout where your nose should be.

“You will go with him tonight. He has you until this time tomorrow.”

I looked from one to the other. Hope warred with apprehension. I knew I could run this time, but hell, they’d just catch me within hours. The cuffs on my wrists held all the information law enforcement needed to spot me and send me back to my rightful owner.

Perhaps the stranger had some amazing tech skills and could release me…. I glanced at his battle-scarred hands and revised that hope. Perhaps he knew someone with amazing tech skills….

U’shma pushed away from the table, his stocky body clumsy with anger. He’d come out hoping for a profitable, pleasant evening and walked away empty-handed. By tomorrow the gambling itch would become a screaming rash on his brain. His addiction was a wicked thing. I bit my lip and considered my options. I glanced up at the pirate.

“I’ve got a room upstairs.”

Hmm. Big spender. Most men on layover here just took a cube and shared the communal toilet. That’s pretty much why the place smelled so bad. There was a waiting list for the single public shower.

He stood, and I stepped up to follow, hanging back the obligatory step or two. I spared a glance for U’shma; in spite of his anger, he’d already turned away and was hovering near a busy gaming table. Undoubtedly his thoughts were with the next con he could run.

The stranger seemed like the type who liked his weapon hand clear, so once there was room, I gave him space. He didn’t like it.

“Up in front of me. I can’t guard you if I can’t see you.”

Now that caught my attention. I turned in surprise, looking at that stony visage. A whore preceding a client? I shrugged, turned, and led the way, pausing at the base of the stair.

“Third floor, turn right.”

His voice was deep and gravelly. I liked it. The sound made my insides a bit shivery. I tripped and went down onto my knees.

“Stupid fucking robes.” I’d gathered them up, but the ends got away and tangled between my feet. I don’t know how women and clerics did it on a daily basis.

“You’ll have them off soon enough.”

Now more of me went shivery. It was taboo to reveal the face of your whore, but still, the rest of my body could be naked. I’d never been in a position to ask about that little bit of etiquette, but I suspected some whores weren’t really out for money. Some people got their rocks off pretending to be something they weren’t. Hell, according to U’shma, the local council head had sucked more dick than I would in my lifetime.

Well, that was my hope. I really didn’t want to suck dick all my life.