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Bound to Trust

Jaci Burton

  Bound to Trust

  Chains of Love: 1

  Jaci Burton


  To JenK. Thanks for the great ideas, especially for the special 'plug'. I love your imagination.

  To Puawai. Thank you for being so thoroughly vicious. You know why. I'm very grateful. ;)

  To Joy, whose beautiful green eyes inspired the creation of Marina.

  To Sire Don. I can't thank you enough for your insights and willingness to answer all my dumb questions. And a huge thank you for your beautiful designs.

  To my wonderful editor, Briana St. James, who had a freaking brilliant series title idea. What would I do without you? ;)

  And as always, to Charlie, for giving me all that I've ever asked for, and allowing me to give all that I am. You have my trust, and my love, for eternity.

  Chapter One

  Marina quickened her steps toward her superior's office, wondering why she'd been summoned. Laren had said it was important--a case that needed immediate assistance. Her heart sped up with excitement as it always did when she was assigned a new case. And she knew Laren was aware that she wanted more high-profile cases to work on.

  Maybe today was the day.

  She stepped into Laren's office and touched the pad to close the door. Her superior was on the private communicator, the combination ear and voice device giving her freedom to pace back and forth in the confined space. Always a bundle of nervous energy, Laren rarely stood still for long. She motioned for Marina to sit down, then quickly ended her call.

  "Sorry. The tech group is coming in for system upgrades next week," Laren said, rolling her eyes. "As if I have time for shit like that."

  Marina laughed at the incongruity of Laren's manner and appearance. Petite, with violet eyes and beautiful sable hair, Laren looked more like a young girl than a woman in her mid-thirties. Yet when she spoke, she commanded respect. Tops in this division, she knew galaxy law enforcement better than anyone Marina had ever met.

  Laren was the best director she'd ever worked for. Tough, dedicated, and always fair. During her ten years with the Interplanetary Enforcement Unit, Marina had experienced her share of really bad superiors. The past two years with Laren at the helm had been nirvana. Not only was Laren a great boss, but they'd also become friends. Only a year apart in age, they quickly discovered they had much in common and socialized often.

  There was always something to talk about. Mostly about being single women in a very tough field. And not wanting to get involved with men they worked with, which really limited their choices.

  "So what's up?"

  Laren sighed and sat at her desk, handing an electronic file to Marina. "You've been following the kidnappings, I assume."

  Marina nodded and scanned the handheld device containing the case files. "Yeah. Been wanting to get in on this one for awhile now. Does this mean I'm assigned?"

  Laren sat back in her chair and offered a half-smile, her violet eyes sparkling like amethysts. "Yes, if you're interested in the assignment. You may not want it."

  There wasn't a job in the force too daunting for Marina. "Of course I want it. I've been itching to work this case. Tell me."

  "One of our contacts in the Meloxian galaxy spied one of the missing girls on the planet Xarta. Since then, we've found out that two other missing Earth women have been seen on Xarta, which means at least three of them are on that planet. We think they've been taken there and sold as slaves to the Doms."

  Marina arched a brow. Xarta was a known BDSM planet. She'd never visited there, since bondage and submission stuff wasn't her idea of fun sex. "I thought the planet bred submissive females. What do they need to go off-planet for?"

  "The native females are submissive. And some women from other planets go to Xarta voluntarily to become submissives. But we've tracked the missing women, and we know of at least three who reside there now. Presumably against their will."

  "So why can't we go get them and bring them back?"

  "Our treaty with that galaxy forbids direct involvement unless we have probable cause. And we can't confirm that these women were kidnapped until we hear it directly from them. We'll have to get to them to find out."

  "Is it possible they may have gone there willingly?"

  Laren shrugged. "It's possible, but doubtful. The facts indicate kidnapping. They all disappeared around the same vicinity."

  "Isn't that cause enough to go in there and talk to them?"

  "Not according to the treaty. Their laws are quite different than ours and they're not too fond of Earth's interference anyway. They think we're bullies."

  Marina snorted. "That's the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it? What do you want me to do?"

  Laren leaned forward, clasping her hands together. "How do you feel about becoming a submissive?"

  Marina's first thought was to laugh out loud, but she quickly realized Laren wasn't joking. "I don't really know how I feel about that. You know me, Laren. I'm the tough one, the one who eats men for breakfast--and I don't mean sexually, either."

  She had a reputation as a ball-buster, a weapon-toting bitch who didn't take shit from anyone, especially the men she worked with. On the job they were professional, backing each other up. But Marina let them know she wasn't interested in getting involved personally. So most of them avoided her socially, which suited her just fine. She didn't need a man to make her complete, and obviously they were looking for the frilly feminine type anyway. Which sure as hell wasn't her.

  At five-foot-nine, she was taller than average. Her body wasn't willowy and petite, either. She had big boobs, big hips and a big ass.

  "You're the best investigator on the force, Marina. If anyone can do this job, you can."

  "Tell me what you have in mind."

  "I need you to put yourself in position to be kidnapped. We know the general vicinity where it occurs. It's within the party district in San Francisco. Three of the women were taken from the same club, two others from another club, and one from a BDSM club."

  "So you want me to hang out at these places, hoping they'll take me?" Fat chance of that happening, considering she'd scanned the photos of the women who'd been taken. They were slender with perfect bodies. That simply wasn't her.

  "Yes. I think if you act willing, they'll grab you in a heartbeat."

  She snorted. "I'm hardly the type that a Dom will want."

  Laren grinned. "Yes, you are. Or you will be. We have someone on the inside who will 'request' a female with your physical makeup."


  "Yeah. One of the interplanetary marshals is a native of Xarta. He'll be here today to go over the case with us. He's agreed to work undercover so that we can figure out who's taking the women on this end, and who's controlling it on the other end."

  "You mean a Dom?"

  "Yes. His name is Kaden, a native Dom from Xarta. But he doesn't live there any longer. He hasn't for years."

  "Why not?"

  Laren shrugged. "You'd have to ask him that question."

  Marina shifted in the chair. She'd taken every assignment, no matter how dangerous or distasteful it was. She loved her job. But going undercover as a submissive? That meant giving a man control over her. Complete and utter control. For the first time, she wondered if she could handle a mission. "I'm not sure I can do this, Laren. I'm the last person in the world to be submissive to a man. I just don't fit the profile. I'm not meek; I don't bow or scrape to men. I see myself as an equal. I can't do this."

  "Yes, you can."

  "No way. They'd see right through me in a heartbeat."

  "Remember, you wouldn't be a submissive when you got there. If you're kidnapped, you'd be fighting it. They'd expect you to fight it. You'd just have to learn how to be one."

nbsp; "They'd never buy it."

  "Of course they'd buy it. Both Kaden and I will help you acclimate yourself to the lifestyle. It's really not that difficult to study the behaviors of submissives. Plus, you wouldn't be a natural submissive. You'd be involuntarily brought there as a slave, so they wouldn't expect you to know how to act. The rest, Kaden can show you."

  Marina shook her head, knowing that in this case, Laren was wrong. "I hate to disagree with my superior officer, Laren, but I'd never be able to pull it off."

  Laren's lips curled into a teasing smile. "Marina, I'm a submissive."

  Her mouth gaped open. "You?"

  Laren nodded. "Yes. I've been a sub for quite some time."

  "I never knew that. You don't seem the type."

  "That's exactly the point. There is no such thing as 'type'. On Xarta, the women are expected to behave in a certain way, all the time. The submissive way. But here, it's different and always according to the agreement between an individual Dom and his or her sub.

  "Being submissive is not always based on outward appearance or actions. And as you said, I don't 'look' like one. You and I are cut from the same cloth. Our parents were with the force. We grew up chewing nails instead of baby food. They made us tough, on the outside as well as the inside. But who you are in your job has no bearing on what you do in the bedroom."

  Laren a submissive. She'd never have believed it. Where Marina was tough, Laren was tougher. Her exterior appearance belied her internal strength. "How can you be... I just don't get it." Marina smoothed back a wild curl that drooped over her eyes, completely shocked at this revelation.

  "I love having control in my work and in my life. But sexually, I enjoy giving up that control to a man. Feeling his power, feeding his desires, is incredibly stimulating."

  "Have you always been submissive?"

  "Yes, but I didn't always know it. When I first became sexually active, I thought couples were equal in the bedroom. I demanded an equal partnership. Give and take, fifty-fifty. But I was never fulfilled. I always felt something was lacking in my sexual relationships. At first I thought I was choosing the wrong men. That is, until I met the right man--a Dom. Then I realized the problem all along had been with me, not the men. I wanted to be dominated, needed that special bond between me and a dominant male. Once I had that, there was no going back."

  Marina had never been satisfied in the sex department, either. But her reasoning was because most men couldn't handle her. She had to give them instructions on what to do, how to do it. Otherwise she'd never have her needs met. She couldn't imagine giving herself up to a man's whims. Hell, she might as well give up sex then. "I'm glad you found what works for you. I hope it makes you happy."

  "It did, for awhile anyway."

  Marina studied Laren's faraway look and the sadness that darkened her eyes. "Something happened?"

  Laren shook her head. "No big deal. I had a Dom who I thought I was in love with. But it didn't work out."

  Marina guessed that it was more of a big deal than Laren let on, but she could tell Laren didn't want her to press for details. "I'm sorry."

  Plastering on a smile that didn't quite match the dimness of her eyes, Laren said, "Thanks. Ancient history. Let's get back to the assignment. Do you think you can handle this?"

  Could she? Could she act submissive, even undercover? Knowing it wasn't real would certainly help, but what did being a submissive entail? Would her normally dominant nature prevent her from doing her job?

  Then again, it burned her ass that women were being taken against their will, especially to become slaves to some man's ideal of the perfect woman. Bastards. "I'm not sure if I'm cut out to be a submissive, but I guess if someone can train me then I'm game for this."

  "Oh, I'll be able to train you. You don't need to worry."

  She quickly stood and turned toward the distinctly male voice behind her.

  Tall. Really tall. Six-foot-four at least. Just the kind of height she liked on a man. His body was her ideal, too. Broad shouldered, long legs, eyes the color of aged whiskey. Hair that was a little darker at the roots and golden blond the rest of the way, like someone who spent a lot of time at the beach. The kind of man a woman would look twice at when he walked by. Hell, more than twice. He was beautiful.

  "Hello, Kaden, thanks for coming so quickly." Laren inclined her head toward Marina. "Kaden, this is Marina, the investigator I told you about."

  He nodded, his sharp gaze assessing her from head to toe. She heated under his penetrating stare.

  Marina was dumbfounded by her body's instant reaction to this man. She felt hot, sweaty and aroused. He looked human, at least the parts of him she could see. And he sure as hell didn't look like a marshal, dressed in tight black pants that hugged his muscular thighs and a plain T-shirt that showed off an impressively broad chest. She fixed her gaze on his face so her eyes wouldn't wander over parts of him that made her wonder if all of him was human.

  "Kaden," she said, nodding back at him.

  "You're beautiful," he said, his voice a seductive caress.

  Shock and warmth spread through her at his deep voice. It carried an underlying sensuality that caused a chemical reaction inside her. Fighting the languorous effects of his presence, she asked, "Is that part of your standard line?"

  He frowned. "Standard line?"

  "Yeah. Tell a woman she's beautiful and she'll do whatever you want?"

  He grinned. "No. That's not how it works." He looked over to Laren. "She has much to learn, doesn't she?"

  "Yes," Laren replied. "But she'll learn quickly."

  "Does she realize what this role will encompass?"

  Nothing like being talked about as if she wasn't even there. "I'm right here, you know. You can address me directly."

  Kaden glanced over at her with narrowed eyes. "If I meant to address you, I would have. Right now I'm talking to Laren."

  When he turned away as if she'd been nothing more than a momentary distraction, steam boiled up within her. She wanted nothing more at that moment than to kick him between his oh-so-muscular legs and find out if his equipment was located in the same place as human men. Arrogant bastard!

  "This training will not be easy. I'll need someone who's willing to accept my commands."

  Over her dead body. "Now wait a minute. I didn't agree that you were in charge of this mission. Actually, I'm the one who should be--"

  "This will never work," Kaden interrupted, continuing to address Laren as if Marina wasn't even present. "She's unwilling to accept training, let alone dominance."

  Refusing to be dismissed, Marina said, "Look, Xartanian, I never once said that I was going to be either trained or dominated by you. In fact, I haven't agreed to do this mission. At least not yet. Although you're making it sound so incredibly appealing." If she wasn't an adult she'd have followed up her statement by sticking her tongue out at him.

  "She has a smart mouth. There would be many punishments. I don't think she can handle it."

  The words had been meant for her superior, but he finally looked over at Marina as he said them. His eyes darkened like a storm, pupils dilating. Punishments, at least to him, meant something sexual, and something clearly exciting to him.

  But not to her, no matter how her body throbbed. Hell, she even felt this weird electrical jolt traveling from him to her, though they were more than three feet apart. What exactly did he mean by punishments? And why was her body suddenly firing on all cylinders, feeling charged and raring to go? Dammit!

  Think about work, don't think about sex. Don't mentally undress him, Marina. He's trouble with a capital "T" and you know it. You know his type. You hate arrogant, smug men like him. Focus, focus, focus.

  Laren looked at her. "You have to make the choice. Perhaps it would be helpful if you spent some time with Kaden this evening. A submissive on Xarta has very few rights other than to serve and please her Dom. Someone of your nature may not be able to handle it. And your performance as a submissive must be
believable for this to work. The Doms on Xarta will see through you in a minute if it looks like you're acting the part instead of living it. You have to make it seem as if you fight it in the beginning, and then come around to the submissive way of life after a period of training."

  Fighting it would be no problem at all. But the rest of it? This was all too much to decipher in one short conversation. First she had to fight, then she had to submit? Hell, how would she know what to do when?

  She'd wanted this assignment for over a year. It was high-profile and could boost her career. She'd been a senior investigator for three years now, and was up for a promotion soon. Solving these interplanetary kidnappings could be the key to her success.

  So she'd have to fake being a submissive for a period of time. So what? She could handle any assignment. She hadn't been taught to be tough so that the first time a difficult assignment came up she'd back off. No way.

  "I'll do it. Don't worry about me. I can handle it."

  "There will be sex. Actual sex, not simulated," Kaden said. "And the aforementioned punishments." His direct gaze challenged her.

  She fought back the urge to say "hell no!", knowing that whatever it took to get the job done, she'd do. Instead, she shrugged as if it didn't matter. "Sex is no big deal. Whatever it takes to solve the disappearances of these women, I'm up for it."

  "Are you sure, Marina?" Laren asked. "You can't change your mind once this starts. Once you're taken to Xarta we can't easily get you out of there. Kaden won't even be able to get you out without compromising himself in the process."

  More determined than ever to show both Laren and Kaden that she could handle her job, she nodded. "I'm in. When do we get started?"

  "Soon," Kaden answered. "But first you need to be briefed about what's going to happen. I want you to meet me for dinner tonight at my hotel."

  "Why not here and now?"

  "Because I'm starting your training this evening, and believe me, you don't want to do that in front of your peers."

  What the hell did that mean? She looked to Laren, who smiled enigmatically and said, "It's now or never, Marina. If you accept, you'll take your orders from Kaden from here on out. I need to know if you can handle it because if not I have to find someone else fast."

  Why did she hesitate? She'd never waffled over an assignment before, no matter how personal her involvement would be. So why now? Lifting her chin, she glared at Kaden and said, "I said I'm in. Where and when?"