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Saved by Venom 3 (Grabbed)(3)

By:Lolita Lopez

Years earlier, Raze’s parents had used a well-respected matchmaking service to find him a pureblooded Harcos wife from Prime, their home planet. Unfortunately Raze and his bride had been miserable together. As a last-ditch effort to save their union  , Raze had taken her on a vacation to one of the colonies but she had met and run off with an Earth-descendant scientist. Raze hadn’t fought her on the divorce so they had parted amicably enough. Still, the many years since that rather humiliating experience hadn’t dulled Raze’s embarrassment.

With a loud grunt, Raze finally remarked, “You’re probably better off jumping into a Grab, I guess.”

“I hear the Grab next quarter still has some slots open.” He eyed his friend carefully over his beer. “I know you’ve earned enough points to replace the ones you lost after your divorce. Your rank is high enough to push you to the top of the list.”

Raze scrunched up his face and rubbed the back of his neck. “Do I look stupid to you? I need a damn wife like I need a hole in the head.” He slashed his hand through the air. “I tried mating once. It clearly wasn’t for me.”

Venom experienced a pang of sadness for his friend. “That’s not true. You and Shelly weren’t mean for each other. It was a matchmaking mistake. You’d be a good mate.”

Raze snorted. “Is that a proposal, Ven? Hell, why don’t we ask Menace and Naya if we can throw in with their wedding and do a double ceremony?”

Glaring at his friend, Venom pelted him with pretzels. “That’s the last time I try to be nice to you.”

Raze snatched the broken snacks from his shirt and flung them at Venom’s head.

“Boys!” The grizzly old bartender Brand shouted over the noisy din in the officer’s bar. “This isn’t a damn barn. Clean that shit up.”

“Yes sir,” they answered and quickly swept up the mess with their hands. Even though they both outranked the old man, they respected him for the decades of service he’d given to the land corps. There weren’t many enlisted men who stayed in for life—or survived long enough to make that choice.

Still laughing, Venom settled up his tab and left the bar with Raze. While they waited for an elevator, Raze pointed to the news screen mounted on the wall there. “That is going to keep us busy.”

Venom glanced at the scrolling images and the news ticker running along the bottom. His chest tightened at the announcement that the plans to build a base on Calyx were moving forward. It had been a rumor for the better part of five years but no one was sure it would ever happen.

Harcos’ presence in the orbital space around the planet had grown over the last few years. It made sense to put in a ground installation—but the extremely pacifist and closed-off society down there on Calyx wasn’t going to like it.

“Shit,” he said softly. “We’ll have to start training for policing protests and putting down riots.”

Raze agreed with a grunt. “Maybe now Vicious will find me the funds I need to open a fourth SRU team for the Valiant and a third for the Arctis. We’re going to need the manpower.”

The elevator arrived and they stepped inside. Raze tapped the button for the floor housing his small apartment in the bachelor section of the officer housing wing. Venom, however, tapped the key for his new quarters on a floor for mated officers.

“How are the new quarters?”

He detected the tiniest hint of envy in his friend’s voice. “Spacious. Quiet. The neighborhood’s nice,” he added. “Menace is right across the hall.”

“You lucky bastard! The new guy who took your old place is in the sky corps. I swear he looks to be about ten years old and he is noisy as hell.” They both laughed at his description. “I suppose I’ll get used to him eventually. I got used to having you and Cipher on either side of me.”

Venom snorted. “I don’t know how you deal with Cipher’s damn video games all hours of the night. When we shared quarters onboard the Retribution, I nearly strangled him over it.”

“I thought about buying him headphones but I worry about damaging his hearing. He keeps that volume turned up so damn high.” Raze smiled wryly. “I’d send him down to the surface to Grab a wife to keep him busy at night but I doubt she’d be much quieter.”

Venom tipped his head back and laughed. “Probably not, boss.”

The elevator arrived at Raze’s floor. He stepped out into the hallway but turned at the last minute. Holding his hand against the door, he held Venom’s gaze. “Look, I know I’ve been giving you so much shit about going down to Grab a bride but I really do hope you find the right woman tomorrow, Venom. I hope you find someone who will make you as happy as Hallie and Naya have made Vicious and Menace.”

Venom blinked with surprise. “Thanks, Raze.”

Raze whacked his arm twice. “Good luck.” He backed away and winked. “Enjoy your honeymoon. Call me if you need pointers.”

Venom fought the urge to shoot him the finger. The low hum of the elevator ascending higher and higher in the housing section of the Valiant accompanied his busy thoughts. By this time tomorrow, he would have a wife.

The very idea of it sent red-hot frissons of excitement streaking through his chest and gut. A wife. A mate. His.

Like most Harcos soldiers, he had never had anything that truly belonged to him. He had been taken away from his family at only five, stripped of everything he owned—even his name—and thrown into the most exclusive military academy to begin his many years of training. Amid the harsh, rigid hell of the academy, he had made many friends, some of them very close, but it wasn’t the same as having a real family.

Even though he considered the men he fought beside his blood brothers, their bonds would never come close to the one he would share with the woman he would Grab tomorrow. The bond he would create with his new wife would be one born of love and tenderness, not the fear and loneliness of his childhood.

The promise of earning the right to a mate and family had been the only thing that had kept him going in the darkest days of the Sendarian siege. When the battle had been at its bloodiest and all had seemed lost, he had filled those hours of misery with daydreams of her. She was the nameless, faceless creature he’d conjured to comfort him in those awful times.

With her he would build a family. With her he would share his most secret desires for the future, for a life without war and violence. With her he could shed the hardness forced upon him by his position and rank and indulge his softer side. With her he would finally know love.

Venom reached his new quarters and locked the door behind him. Before heading to bed he made one last round of the generous space he had been allotted. He’d spent the afternoon getting everything ready for his new bride.

Naya and Hallie had been kind enough to guide him through the housewares and clothing departments in the retail section of the ship. Both had convinced him to purchase only the bare minimum to make his home inviting and comfortable so that he and his new mate could decorate and outfit their new space together when the time was right. He was glad to have their counsel because he wanted everything to be perfect.

After all the cautionary tales he had heard from newly matched friends, Venom desperately wanted things to go smoothly. As he undressed, his gaze flicked to the locked door of his playroom. In their culture, rough loving was the norm. Harcos women had different body chemistries than their Earth-descendant counterparts and required pain to find pleasure.

Locker-room talk had assured him that these women from Calyx could climax without applying any heat, so to speak, but it appeared that for many of them a rough touch or a little domestic discipline awakened a sensual side that their strict society had repressed.

His heartbeat sped up as vivid images of his woman, bound in his ropes and knots, flashed before his eyes. Would she beg him to take her, to make her come until she passed out from the sheer pleasure of it all? Would she enjoy the silken embrace of a rope harness on her soft skin?

The very idea of it made him hard as a rock. Groin tight and belly rolling with needy heat, he fell back on the wide, long bed and closed his eyes. Soon he would have his answers.

Chapter Two

The next morning when he stepped off the transport ship and onto the snowy ground, Venom shuddered as a blast of frigid air smacked him in the face. The constant mild climate aboard the Valiant had spoiled him. The cold burn of the wind against his skin felt incredibly real. He savored the discomfort for a few seconds before flipping up the collar on his jacket and fishing a black knitted cap from his pocket. It was the first time since he’d been issued winter wear that he’d had a need to haul it out of his closet.

Though military regulations allowed the men of his rank to wear their hair longer, he still preferred to keep his head shaved clean. It wasn’t much of an issue living on a warship but down here, with this wintry chill, it left him vulnerable to hypothermia.

With the knitted cap firmly in place he joined the throng of uniformed men moving toward the staging area. There were only seventeen of them running today. He and a sky corps pilot had the highest ranks and had been commissioned a day apart, the pilot before him. If they chose the same woman it could get tense.