Ponytail man chuckled again. "Unbutton your shirt."
DG gritted her teeth. He was sure she wouldn't bolt half-naked or maybe he wanted first feel. She wished she could use her magic, but she was too agitated to grasp the power. She stared straight ahead, not at Cain, as she unbuttoned her blouse.
The water of the stream pooled at the bottom of the cascade with no sign of how deep it was. She knew it would be freezing. Maybe she'd catch hypothermia and they'd forget the whole idea. Yeah, right. Try wishing for mobats to swoop in. That's much more likely.
Once the shirt was unbuttoned, Ponytail man grabbed the collars of it and her jacket and pulled them off. He caressed her bare shoulder, plucking her bra strap. DG jerked away her shoulder. He chuckled. "They're going to have fun with you on the block. Boots."
"They have laces." DG waited for his verdict.
To her right, the voice of the bearded man sounded panicked. "I ain't getting near her feet again!"
Ponytail man sighed. His lips grazed her ear. "No tricks, Bitch. The old man will pay for it plus you."
His arm slid off her neck. DG walked to the edge of the stream before kneeling to unlace her ankle boots. She kept her back to them, determined to keep the show they wanted at PG-13-accepted nudity. Hopefully, the waters would be deep enough to cooperate with her idea. She tugged off the boot and sock before switching legs.
"Come on, bitch, show us what you got!" DG ignored the taunt from the redhead as she stood. The rock was cool under her bare feet. She unhooked her bra and dropped it on her boots. She steeled herself for the catcalls and the cold water to come and touched the fly of her pants. She unfastened them, pushed them down with her panties, and stepped into the water. Icy cold jolted up her body. She sucked in a lungful of air when she couldn't feel past her ankles and had to go deeper.
"Damn, that bruise is going to cost us money."
"By the gods, that ass is a piece of art!"
DG gritted her teeth harder. The water was up to her knees.
"Bend over and shake it!"
"He can't stop starin'. Maybe we should help him with his stiff one."
She resisted the urge to look over her shoulder. One of the pigs was probably masturbating with an actual naked woman in view.
They all laughed as she heard a scuffle on the rocks, followed by a splash. DG's fear spiked. Was one of them coming after her? The water was up to her thighs. She took a deep breath, lowered herself and paddled. When the water reached her neck, she pivoted to look behind her.
The young blond trudged to the bank dripping wet. The bearded man helped the redhead hold Cain down by twisting the Tin Man's arms behind his back. Ponytail man forced Cain to look up at him. "This will be entertaining. Hobble him back at the fire." The blond shook water off of himself. "You get rope and a blanket."
The men pulled Cain up and forced her Tin Man to walk away since the bald man pressed the shotgun against his short blond hair. The young blond trailed after them.
Ponytail man looked over the water and laughed. "Aren't you a clever little bitch?" DG's teeth chattered. She clenched them to not make the sound, but her body was not cooperating. He continued chuckling while as he gathered her clothes, throwing them into the back of the van. "Come out, you're turning blue."
The sky turned purple as the second sun eased below the horizon. She couldn't escape on the other bank naked. And she didn't know what they were doing to Cain. She rubbed her arms to warm up as she emerged from the water. The wind swept down off the peaks above them, and she couldn't stop her teeth from chattering when it hit her skin.
The blond stood next to Ponytail man holding a thin blanket and a coil of rope by the time she reached the bank. Ponytail man smirked. "That took the fight out of her." He twisted Cain's bandanna between his hands, forced the material between her teeth, and knotted it behind her head before DG could react.
The blanket itched where it rubbed her skin. While he wiped everything, he spent more time stroking her breasts and between her legs dry. She clamped her teeth on the gag. They weren't getting a reaction. He wrapped the blanket around her, immobilizing her arms, and carried her from the stream over his shoulder.
He dropped DG on her feet next to the fire. "I think she's ready, boys." Ponytail man laughed as he whipped off the blanket. The blood pounding in her ears blocked out the catcalls from the other men. Cain sat between them, gagged, and stared at her. No, oh God, no they couldn't make him watch. They wouldn't.
Before she could protest, Ponytail man whirled her around and pushed her to her knees on the blanket. She turned her head so not to be blinded by the fire as he bent her over. He tied her wrists to her ankles so quickly, she suspected they had done this before as she tried to pull her arms free. All that did was flap her elbows. They walked away, probably admiring how with her ass in the air and knees spread apart, everything but her boobs was on display. And they wouldn't be that hard to grope. She couldn't rise or close her legs.
She blinked the tears out of her eyes before they fell. If this kept them from killing Cain…. She'd submit to anything to keep him safe. Those pigs didn't need to know that. She shivered as the wind blew harder. What the hell was taking so long? She choked something that felt like a sob in her throat. She wanted to hurry along a gang rape?
"Come on, get on with it," one of them complained as it sounded like the whole group surrounded her. "I'm ready for my turn!"
"And you'll get it, so shut up!"
One of them fell to his knees between her legs and bare thighs rubbed against her ass. Shifting, his erection poked her stomach. DG bit down on the gag. No reaction, no reaction.
"What's a matter? Can't get it in?" The group howled. "Guess he does need help after all." A foot nearly stepped on her arm when a hand seized the erection and guided it into her. DG whimpered, but she doubted they heard it over their hoots. She felt the man inside her twist his body and heard two smacks before he toppled over her. His left hand hit the ground in front of her face as he braced his weight off of her with his arms.
DG's eyes widened. She'd know that hand with the silver wedding band anywhere. It also explained why there was no frenzied thrusting. These pigs were sick! If she could grapple with her magic right now, she would blow them up. She felt Cain's rigid body trembling pressed against hers.
Ponytail man chuckled as a pair of legs knelt in her line of sight. "What's a matter? Don't know what to do with the bitch now?" Cain's growl in response vibrated against her back. "You like 'em to move more?" His hand reached under her and twisted her nipple. DG yelled through the gag, jerking away as much as she could.
His fingers followed the scant inch she had moved. "Was that enough bounce?" He twisted again. Her jerk backwards ended against Cain's hips. Cain groaned but grabbed the Ponytail man's arm and pulled it away from her.
"He's not completely dead." The hand moved to the top of DG's head and pushed. She rocked against Cain again. He shuddered and leaned his forehead against her head. She tried to stay still. The sick bastards shouldn't torture him like this.
"Hurry up! I want my turn!"
Hoof beats pounded into the dirt and DG watched Ponytail man scramble to his feet. The horse stopped and a new voice shouted, "What the hell are you doing?"
"Just having some fun." From the tone of his voice, it sounded like Ponytail man had a superior.
"With the merchandise? You idiots! They'll pay more for virgins." The speaker swung off his horse.
"The bitch is no virgin," the redhead chucked.
"She sure isn't now! Lock him in the van." They pulled Cain away from her and DG swallowed hard, feeling vulnerable. "Where are her clothes?"
"In the van," Ponytail man answered.
The newcomer knelt next to her. He cut the rope links between her wrists and ankles, but the loops remained tied around each as he hauled her to her feet. "She's injured too?" He glared at her ass in the firelight.
"That was from catching her. She tried to run…."
"Save it. I want names. But nobody messes with them again. You need a toy; you buy it off the auction block." He dragged DG to the van and she stumbled to keep up. Her feet barely touched the bumper before he hurled her inside. She fell on her hands and knees. The doors slammed shut, the lock snapped shut, and his bellows at his men faded as he walked away.
"Thea?" Cain's voice choked out of the darkness.
She got the gag off. "I'm okay. I think he's yelling at them by the fire. Are you okay?"
"I'll be in a minute," he grunted. "Get dressed."
Cain hadn't been with anyone since he was locked in the iron suit. That wasn't healthy, but neither would be the blue balls. Sex was more important to guys anyway. Why not make all the rumors true? It was the least she could do after getting him into this mess. "Cain?"
"You can finish." She followed the sound of his voice.
"What! Don't even offer yourself like that. I won't take--" he broke off, realizing she had untied the rope around his ankles.
"Take what, my virtue?" His pants were down past his knees. "That's been four years gone." She straddled his thighs and stroked up his legs to his hips. Cain's inhale hissed between his teeth. She found his hand around his erection, and replaced it with her fingertips. Tracing the veins, she continued. "And if you don't want me to do this for you, do it for me. Don't let my first time in the O.Z. be with one of those pigs outside or whoever they sell me to."
Cain pulled her flush against his chest. "Sweetheart, are you sure? Absolutely sure?" His voice shook. "I don't want to hurt you."
She rubbed against him, enjoying the fiction of his shirt against her nipples. "I've had sex before. You won't hurt me."
His mouth slammed against hers. She opened her lips as his hands lifted her onto his erection. Before she adjusted to that position, one hand moved to the back of her head and he rolled them over.
She planted her feet and spread her knees wide. His hand cradling her head made sure she didn't lie on the knot. She lifted her hips, taking the pressure off her bruised ass. Cain pulled back, checking that she was comfortable before recapturing her lips and thrusting.
He was already shaking. Her tongue danced with his as his pace quickened. He shouted into her mouth when he came and trailed kisses down her cheek to her ear. "DG, my darling girl." He rested his forehead on his forearm.
And this was why sex isn't worth it. They get all the fun while I get the mess to clean up. But Cain made no move to roll off of her. Had he fallen asleep? She kissed his temple and tasted blood. "You're bleeding. I better find something."
"Later." He lifted his head and kissed her again. "Unbutton my shirt."
The hand not holding her head ran fingers around her hip. He nudged her chin up and kissed her throat. "Because my hands are full of you at the moment." He chuckled as he kissed a new spot under her ear.
She found his buttons, but didn't undo any yet. "But you're finished?"
Moonlight trickled in through the window slits so she saw his surprised and puzzled expression when he looked down at her. "Not until you're satisfied, my darling girl." He squeezed her hip and kissed her collarbone.
She liked his lips on her neck, and didn't have the heart to tell him sex had never left her satisfied, so she unbuttoned his shirt. Once his chest was exposed, he pressed her against his skin with a sigh. He rolled them over so she was on top without pulling out of her. One arm wrapped around her back. His other hand left her head to caress her breast. "Touch me, sweetheart. Touch me."
No one had ever made that request to her, before or after sex. Hell, most times, they hadn't even bothered to get all their clothes off. Cain wasn't asking for a hand-job, which was the only way she knew how to sexually touch a guy. He pulled on her hardened nipple and she gasped as the thrill clenched her insides. She better ask before she forgot her question. "How touch you?" Yeah, that was English.
"There's no wrong way, my darling girl." His hoarse voice broke. "I… I just need to feel you." His hand on her back moved and squeezed high on her ass, above her bruise.
That was encouraging. So was the hand that moved around her neck and pulled her head down for another kiss. There was something in his voice; she rubbed his body with hers as she moved to kiss his neck like he had kissed hers, and she tried to remember. Cain turned his head to bare more of his neck. She followed the line the tendon made to his collarbone.
Before they attacked the Tower, Cain's tone was now the same as when he had asked her to save herself then. He needed her to save herself. He needed her to touch him. He needed her?
His hands caressed her back and sides, leaving tingles in the skin. Was it his touch or her thoughts making her tremble as she paused her kisses? Nobody needed her, except for the whole stop the witch thing. Cain certainly deserved better.
"My darling girl." His thumbs ghosted over her ribs under her breasts. His eyes bored into hers. "What's wrong?"
Cain deserves the best I can give him right now. "I'm not too heavy? I need my hands free."
He hummed interrogatively as he skimmed his hands to her thighs. He guided her knees so she knelt on top of him. She moved off her hands and traced his pec muscles. He growled and cupped her breasts with his. She combed his chest hair while he kneaded.
DG dropped her face to his chest. A pleasant tightness jolted through her when her hips rocked. Cain bit back a moan and thrust against her. He panted as he stilled himself, hardening again inside of her. Her breathing hitched, but she didn't stop herself from licking his nipple. He arched and her teeth grazed the harden nub. He stroked her breasts as she alternated between both his nipples.
"My turn." Cain pushed her upright as he sat up. He bent her back, supporting her, and embraced her nipple with his mouth. DG spasmed and whimpered. He chuckled as he sucked. He dropped his hands to her hips and pulled them closer. She mewled as a tremor went through her. "Ssh," he looked up at her face, "Don't want them to hear." He moved to her other breast.
Thinking had finally stopped. "Cain," she said.
He kissed her, stroking his tongue inside her mouth. "I think we're on a first name basis now, DG."
"Wyatt." One of his hands tilted her head to deepen their next kiss. He hardened inside her as she lifted her hips. His hand delved between their bodies, and grazed her clit. She spasmed again and screamed into his mouth.
When her scream ended, Cain pulled back so they could breathe. He ground their hips together. "My darling girl, come again for me."
"I can't." She couldn't breathe as her body rose and dropped on him without her telling it to. "I can't."
"You can, sweetheart, you will." His mouth fell on hers again. The way their bodies moved in this position hit something inside that exploded again. She was still in the waves of that pleasure when she felt Cain stiffen and shout down her throat.
His arms wrapped around her back, holding her up as her head fell onto his shoulder. "So that's what all the fuss over sex is about."
Cain nuzzled her. "If we ever find a bed, I promise to show you the fuss all night long." His voice thickened. "I want to hear you scream my name." He kissed where her neck met her shoulder. "But right now, we have to get dressed."
DG kissed his cheek before pulling away. He seemed satisfied, and she had never expected to feel this way, ever. Most of her clothes had ended up in one pile. She eased into her panties and pants with a hiss.
"Are you sore?"
"Where I was already." She felt around the shadows. "Can't find my bra or one of my boots."
"Found the boot. It bounced over here."
She finished buttoning her shirt and crawled to Cain's moonlit form. Sitting beside but with her back to him, she yanked off the rope loops and tugged on the socks and boots. Her stomach twisted. She didn't deserve to feel happy about what Cain had done to her. He was going to push her away now, ashamed of her behavior, just like everyone else. Why did she think it was a good idea to throw herself at him? She tied her laces and shifted to not sit on her bruise.
"Come here." Cain's arms wrapped around her. He picked her up as they twisted and she lay pressed against his body with her head on his chest. He sighed, squeezed her, and planted a kiss on the top of her head.
Her heart hammered. His hold slackened but he didn't release her. "What are you doing?"
His eyes gleamed in the blue moonlight. "You thought I was kicking you across the van to sleep?" He sounded amused. "What kind of sex do they have on the Other Side?"
Her insides twisted and she was glad it had been so long since they ate. At least, she wouldn't be sick all over him. "Apparently, it's good whore training." She pushed but now Cain's grip turned to steel. "You must think I'm a slut fit for the Sin District."
"Why would I think that, DG?"
Tears pricked. Fine time for his observation skills to fail. "I was going to let those pigs fuck me."
"They were going to kill me." He rubbed her back. "And they tied you up to make sure you couldn't fight back." She heard the underlying rage.
"I threw myself at you." When you're still in love with Adora, got caught in her throat.
His hand stroked her exposed cheek. "You could have any man in the Zone. I'm honored you picked me, even if I don't understand why."
"Honored that you're not my first, hell, not even my second?" The tears leaked out. "With a slut who dropped her pants too many time to count?" He would shove her away now seeing what she really was, worthless and used up. "The whole damn Palace watches to see who I will fuck next. Even my mother wants to buy security for the realm with my body because a creep with a title wants a slut to toy with." Her sob hit the air, and the dam inside her busted. All she could do was cling to Cain as the flood swept her away.
She washed up with his shirt fisted in her hands. Cain still held her, murmuring "Let it out. Let it all out, my darling girl," over and over. His hand stroked her spine. She took a deep inhale and he realized she had returned to her senses. He pulled back enough to look at her face. "Gods, sweetheart, what did they do to you in that place?"
"It's not a big deal on the Other Side as long as you're careful not to end up pregnant or with a disease, and I was careful. And there were only three of them in a row."
"And were only boys pretending to know what they were doing. That's being charitable. Ozma knows there's plenty of men who don't give a shit about a woman's pleasure." Cain shook his head. "But I meant the Palace."
"Glitch and Az didn't tell you all about it?"
"Maybe they would have if Ahamo hadn't been there. Jeb didn't say anything."
Her lips twitched. "I don't know what he threatened the soldiers and guards with, but I guess it would lose effectiveness if he blabbed." She closed her eyes. "It was five years ago. I had just graduated high school, my par… nurture units told me we couldn't afford college, and I was so alone. I couldn't see any future and that led to the parties with the booze, and the booze led to my three boyfriends who were only my boyfriends when it was a good time to take clothes off in the back of a pickup truck."
"Your nurture units didn't put a stop to it?"
"I didn't bring them home," she hesitated, "Wyatt." His lips twitched to a brief smirk. "By the end of the summer, I realized I wasn't changing my bad feelings, so I got the job at the Hilltop and started the classes I could afford. The only one who knew was my gynecologist 'cause what's the point in lying to your access to birth control? Dr. Anderson gave me lectures, but she never gossiped about me. So it never occurred to me to lie to the Royal Alchemist." She shuddered. "The Sorceress doing the soul suck thing was less scary. He said I should be thrown into the Sin District with the other whores. That my clothes finally made sense because I was putting my assets on display, and had I established my going rate yet? What was the House of Gale coming to? At least Az's behavior could be blamed on possession, what was my excuse? All screamed at the top of his lungs by a guy who looks like he should be Santa Claus, while I was dressed in only a robe and couldn't streak through the halls."
Tears leaked again, but Cain brushed them away. "How long did it take to get around the Palace?"
"The next day, the Queen had a meeting with me to inform me of the charms placed in my bedroom so they would know the next time I decided to act like a Sin District whore, and she would make my schedule to rule out temptations. Then the maids started asking me who was better, Glitch or you. I can't access my magic when I'm really upset, so I resorted to physical violence. You'd be surprised how fast those maids can run with me swinging a broom at them. That was a week before the Winter Festival, but they're all still thinking about it. Probably talk about it behind my back."
Cain hugged her closer and kissed her forehead. "I'm sorry, DG. I thought I was leaving you somewhere safe. But why did you think I'd think those awful things too?" He cupped her cheek, so she had to look at him.
The tears threatened to start again. "You're so honorable. I couldn't stand it if you were ashamed of me too."
"Honor doesn't have anything to do with body drives, as long as you behave honorably. As far as being ashamed of you for having sex before marriage," he cleared his throat, "when Jeb was born, Adora and I'd been married only seven months."
Too much emotional turmoil, not enough food or sleep, she tried to make sense of that. "Jeb is a preemie, born early?"
"Actually, he was three weeks late."
DG pushed herself up to stare down at him. "What the hell? I didn't break some horrible cultural taboo by losing my virginity?" Cain shook his head while his lips twitched. "Do you know how many nights I spent in the library researching if my control over magic was tied to it, and it's just another thing to hold against me because I'm not seven?"
"The maids just sounded curious. Can't blame them; Glitch cleans up pretty well. Nobles get worried about bloodlines and dynasties. The Commons are free to experiment. It's not encouraged but if marriage follows, nobody complains."
She wished for a handy balcony to push her mother and the Royal Alchemist off of. They all think I'm easy just because I offended their sensibilities by having sex! With idiots who don't even live here! And they told that prick! Cain pulled her against his chest again. She rubbed his exposed collarbone. "Do you have any regrets, Tin Man?" she whispered. "With me?"
"I do regret one thing." She froze, except her stomach, which felt like it was sinking through the floor. Cain caressed her cheek. "No mattress. Now breathe." His chuckle rumbled under her ear. "What about you?"
"Nothing." She kissed under his jaw. "I want you to make me scream again. I'd like that." DG closed her eyes and relaxed in the safety of Cain's embrace.