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Valerian Jorku must decide how far he is willing to go to escape the reach of his violent brother. He will do whatever it takes to protect Melena. He hadn't planned to raise a rebellion, but Vicktor has left him with few other options -- there is no reasoning with a mad man.
Melena never planned to become Valerian's wiling submissive, but as she is brought further and further into Valerian's world of dominance, learns to enjoy his rough attentions. But trying to master the master is a dangerous game. One that could get them all killed and promises to ignite a war unlike anything the Jorku nation has seen before.
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Melena (Mine to Take 4)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2018 Jacquelyn Frank
Melena was bone weary. They had been traveling for days on end and all she wanted to do was stop and rest her cold, aching bones. Valerian Jorku had bundled her up and spirited her away from Vicktor's fortress in the breaking dawn some two and a half weeks ago. Since then they had traveled nonstop at a steady pace, although not necessarily a fast one, spending all the few daylight hours on horseback and stopping for nothing save to strike temporary camp and sleep.
It was the dead of winter so it was bitterly cold, the frigidness adding to her aching and keeping her sore muscles tensed throughout the day. She was bundled up in furs, but it wasn't enough.
What she did prefer was when Valerian lifted her from her saddle and sat her in front of him. Then she shared his intense body heat and didn't have to worry about directing her horse. He did not do this with the other two women who followed their group. In this way he made her feel special and marked her as special. As his favorite... of the moment, in any event. She couldn't help but feel special, however. She had never had a man pay her this much attention. She had been a fixture in the life of her brother. A tool like any other farm instrument. There, useful, but not something you gave consideration to until it was broken or it disappeared.
It was a cold assessment of her brother's affections, but it was true.
She had been a woman. A daughter. As a woman of the lower classes she was expected to toil beside her husband and make sons for him. But she had had no husband when she had been taken away to be a slave in the Jorku nation as their army plundered her homeland for riches. She had had no children.
She had not even known the touch of a man, which had made her more valuable as a slave, something she had been grateful for after her sister had been raped by soldiers simply because she had no value as a virgin.
Melena's fate had been similar... yet very different. Her virginity had been preserved, and she had traveled long and hard in a wagon with dozens of other slaves, a journey not too much unlike this one. At the end of that journey she had been selected for her fairness and beauty and had been brought to the emperor's fortress for use at his leisure, where she had been given as a gift to this man... to Valerian.
At first she had thought him cruel, savage. But though he was hard on her body, taking pleasure in the pain he inflicted, she was learning that it wasn't pain he was interested in as much as the pleasure she felt in the wake of that pain. And when she thought of what the alternative had almost been, of what his brother would have done to her, she was grateful Valerian had chosen her and rescued her from that fate.
He had introduced her to pleasure in his own idea of a gentle fashion. And he had made it clear that as his shisha, a favorite woman of his harem, she would never be treated as a tool again.
He had also proven he would go to great lengths to protect her. He had the power to rescue her sisters from slavery and bring them safely into his household -- something he had promised to do in trade for her obedience, which she now gave him gladly.
The funny thing was that she didn't think her sisters' comfort was the reason why she let him have his way with her. Not any longer. Just as she believed he didn't want her to give him her loyalty just because she wanted to see to her sister's comfort. And yet he kept reducing their relationship to a barter system, never allowing her the opportunity to profess her loyalty to him with honesty.
Although... she wasn't sure she was completely loyal to him. It depended, she supposed. She was loyal to him above his brother. Above his harem women. Above almost everything. However, she was also loyal to her brother. If the two were to cross paths, she didn't know whom she would be loyal to.
Then again, were there degrees of loyalty? Wasn't loyalty an absolute thing? It should be. She believed it should be. How could she ever swear complete loyalty to a man who had been the cause of so much trauma in her life?
No. It was best that she keep any feelings of loyalty for him to herself... and even keep them at bay within herself. He didn't deserve her loyalty, she insisted to herself stubbornly. Even though he had done some things worthy of her appreciation, he had not done enough to make up for all the harm he had caused her.
At that moment she was watching the sun as it sank in the backdrop of the mountains before them. They had traveled north for the first week, and had since turned west, toward her home she realized. Toward Moglu...