top of page

Search Results

286 items found for ""

Blog Posts (229)

  • Run from Me 4

    29 Vixen “Why do you keep calling me that?” I demanded. I knew his rational. He’d explained that. But why was he against using a real name. Why the nickname? “I’ll stop when you do.” He said flatly. Answering all my unspoken questions. Alder? Strangely, it suited him. “Isn’t an Alder still a type of snake?” “It is.” He said. “That’s why the basters started calling me ‘Serpent.’” I considered that. I’d thought the Tinies came up with the nickname. The basters did? It occurred to me that calling that, would be like summoning a dog by calling him ‘Dog.’ A bit derogatory. They need him, but don’t like him. I registered. Except Tilda. Tilda lusted for him in a violent, terrifying way. It disconcerted me, just recalling how her face had contorted into a demonic rage. He flattened a large hand between my shoulder blades. Sliding it up until able to catch my shoulder. He gave a growl, becoming more aggressive as he sunk his teeth into the flesh of my ass. Enough to pinch. I yelped. He tucked his knees under him. So he could frame the narrowest part of my waist. Tracing it, as he slid them up. Outlining my shape in his hands. And driving my shirt higher. Until it hooked under my breasts. I froze as he leaned down to trail his lips over my skin. Holy shit. It felt like he was leaving a burning trail everywhere his mouth touched my skin. It was dizzying. Leaving goosebumps in his wake. “Your skin is remarkably smooth. Unlike anything I’ve ever touched.” He stroked me more methodically. He glanced over his shoulder and toward the opening. Seeing the first hint of sunlight. Groaning aloud, he muttered. “One day I will get to take my time with you.” The conviction in his voice told me he was certain he could make it happen. He settled along my back. His cool skin chilling me. But the power in that muscled body was so much more apparent when it was against me, than looking at it. His superior weight settled me even more deeply into the loose layer of sand resting over the core of the dune. He palmed my breasts. Shielding them from the hard grains beneath me. I felt the rigid length of him set along my crack. Making me intensely nervous. I remembered Tilda commanding the other baster to stuff his cock in my ass. That same terror rushed back to me. I lifted it to give him access to my center. Some instinct of self-preservation flaring in me. “Look at you!” He said, impressed. He rubbed along me, taking his time smoothing my slit so long that my abs began to ache from holding the position. I began shuddering. He gripped my hips. Settling each finger into place before tugging me back against him. “For the record, I wasn’t after your ass, Sweetheart. But should you cheat me again, I will be. And no offering of your hot little pussy will deter me.” “There won’t be anything to cheat you about. After sunup, we’ll have no reason to ever see one another again.” He moved into me. Despite what I may’ve thought, I was nowhere near ready. The sheer girth of him was enough to make my cheeks puff, and my eyes bulge as he stretched all of my inner lining. Making me mold open, to fit around him. The sudden sensation was so abrupt that I dug my nails into the sand. My legs shivering as my body worked to take him in. It was like fitting a hard branch into the center of me. He was filling every bit of space between my hips. There was a soreness there that had me adjusting my knees in an effort to protect the peak of my center. Every inch further, he fitted into me, was more sensitive than the last. I was drawing quick breaths. “Easy.” He coaxed. Moving a hand back to brace himself on my ass. I wasn’t completely certain if he was talking to me or himself. He tensed, his fingers indenting the soft skin of my hips. “Whoo.” He shuddered. “How can you possibly be tighter than yesterday?” I was swollen inside. The walls a bit broader from all the friction against them, the day before. I swallowed convulsively. My body was sparking with sensation. “You’re going to have to release me, woman. Or I can’t coax her.” His voice was tight. Nearly a groan. I didn’t move. Unsure what he wanted. “For God’s sake, take a breath!” He ordered. I hadn’t realized I was holding it. I obediently blew it out. My body relaxing with it. He took advantage of the moment, pulling back out of me, until only the velvety tip intruded in my opening. He took a couple aggravated breaths, himself. “You’re frustrated with me?” I asked. A bit puzzled since he’d taken every insult I’d hurled at him, in stride. But now that he was doing something that should make him feel good, he was getting aggravated? “Yes.” He was unwilling to elaborate. He edged forward in several short strokes. Barely thrusting beyond my entrance. Each one got a little smoother. Eventually, the pain began evaporating. I found myself pushing back the merest bit. A subconscious reaction, due to my own reflexive hunger. I tightened my ass and tried to fight the urge to steal a little more than he was offering. He must not have noticed. He said nothing. But he did start driving in more forcefully. Taking the razor edge off that sharp need. “Give me more.” He said in a primal tone. I heard the long, feminine moan, long before I registered I was the one making it. There was something infinitely naughty about being face down with my cheek in the harsh grains of sand. My bare ass curved up. My knees drawn under me. My breasts dangled. The bottom half of them exposed. They hopped, each time he pushed in. Owning my center. He was knelt behind me. Dirtying the knees of that sleek black fabric. His hard flanks dimpling along the sides with each rhythmic jerk forward. His fingers dug into one hip as he yanked me back. Forcing me to take every millimeter of him. His other hand balanced on my tailbone to control my movements. The slap of flesh was an echoing sound in the small space within Blue Station. He had his way with my body. Feeding his raw sexual appetite, with each rough stab through my delicate channel. My body was tightening around him. I was giving short moans in sequence with his pounding. Both because of the lingering soreness and the sick, twisted, pleasure that was opening within me, like a dawn flower in a grove. The pain/pleasure was so all-encompassing that I felt the need to straighten up. Hoping it would be like lifting the lid on a steaming pot. “No.” He barked authoritatively as he shoved my back. “Stay down.” I obeyed. Bracing myself with my palms just under my shoulders. Now he prodded directly against my cervix when he entered me. Blinding pain and violent pleasure intertwined like forbidden lovers. When I came, it was a mix of both. A shriek of pain and a cry of dangerous pleasure. The feeling of them together was branding me in such a way that they’d keep me craving another taste of that razor intensity. Only while I was wailing, did he let me rise up to a full kneel. At the same moment, he tucked himself tight between my cheeks to sink fully into me. Pausing for a heartbeat before yanking out and spilling creamy fluid on the tan sand between my knees. The dampness quickly turned into a dark stain. Finalizing the act. A stark reminder of how I’d succumbed to him. Again. Evidence that I’d surrendered my body to him, for his pleasure. And mine. I hated having to admit that to myself. “Oh, this time you have the courtesy to not come inside me?” “The chemical they put in me sterilizes me.” He remarked blandly. So, he didn’t have it recently? I had to change my hypothesis on what it did, now that I’d witnessed his strength was still present. “Oh, you poor thing!” I said bitterly. Hearing him moving behind me and wanting to put distance between us. I pushed the shirt down angrily and stood in a crouch. It was the highest I could rise with the dune in the building. The back of my head was already pressed against the ceiling. I turned to face off with him. Finding he’d already pulled up his pants. He was able to stand fully at the lower spot, near the window we’d crawled through. At least I assume that’s how he got in, too. He waved his finger at me. Shaking his head in wonder, as he caught his breath. “Run from me like that again, and I’ll collar you.” “Thought you said, you’d fuck me in the ass.” 30 Fool Mouth He gave me an evil, lopsided smile. “I’ll do both.” I wished like hell I hadn’t reminded him. Why can’t I ever keep my fool mouth shut, with him? “I will always run from you.” “Good.” He eyed me. Astonishing me enough, I blinked rapidly at him. “I’d love to do those things to you, along with various others.” “Others?” I asked in appall. “Oh, yes.” He tipped his head down dangerously. “Foremost among those, would be to tie you up and eat you.” I gaped at him. Seeing my flush, he continued. “I wouldn’t stop either. Not until you begged for my cock.” I opened my mouth. He lifted a finger in warning. “Tell me you’d never do it, and by all that’s holy, I’ll take you to a place right now to prove you very, very wrong.” That was exactly what I was going to say. But I hated that he knew it. “You seem to think you know me.” I said scathingly. “I’m learning.” He gave a decisive nod. Turning to hop through the window and land in a crouch outside it. Leaning a forearm on the roof, to peer down at me. “I’m going to ruin your world one day.” My gut tightened. “What does that mean?” He laughed. Leaning back to give me a thoughtful look. “Sun’s up, Vix.” He gestured. “You’re free.” Still considering me, he added. “For now.” He rose and turned on his heel, walking back in the direction of the Main House. I leapt into the window. Hooking my elbows over it. “Stay the hell away from me!” He’d talked like we would be seeing a lot of each other. I wanted to make clear he was unwelcome in my vicinity. “Impossible, Vix. They’re going to order me to find you.” He whipped around to walk backwards. Giving me a mocking salute. “I’ll be seeing you, soon.” “The hell you will!” I clawed my way out of Blue Station. But he was already whistling as he sauntered away. He was so limber that everything on him, moved lithely. Making his gait so sleek, that he seemed to glide. He moved like an animal. Something from a nightmare, maybe. *** If he was right, Tilda and the basters would soon be sending him after me. I’m surprised they haven’t already. That meant I was on a timeline now, more than ever. I got to get my ass moving. I needed to get distance between me, and the Main House. I need to find somewhere to hide. Somewhere he’ll never find me. If such a place exists. Is it even possible to hide from Serpent? There was only one thing I knew for sure. He’s never going to collar me! I vowed to myself. As I cautiously crossed the dunes, I came across rover tracks. My foot hovering over them. I didn’t dare take another step in that direction. Too dangerous. I veered the other way. Which put me going west of where the Main House stood. West. I told myself. West is good. Kayla had spoken of going west, once. She’d said she had been staying at an all-human camp a distance west when the basters nabbed her. She’d talked about the solace there. Reassuring Alex that one day, that’s where they’d go. She’d promised him that as soon as they had a chance to go, they’d bolt straight that direction. She’d explained it was a camp for those that weren’t contaminated during The Shimmer. It was a nice way of saying ‘everyone but the Basters.’ I could hardly imagine a place without Basters commanding us. Ordering us to serve them and fetch them food. Making us clean their rooms. The camp was run entirely by Tinies. It actually sounded kind of magical. Like I’d thought theme parks with cartoon characters would be, when I was little. The camp would be somewhere safe. Where I wouldn’t be a slave. Where he can’t get to me. Maybe… The best part of this blossoming idea was that it was where Kayla had intended to go. They might already be heading that way. That meant I had a chance of seeing them again. In a sordid way I regretted that Serpent had ever demanded me in the Main House. At least before that, I’d known what to expect. Everything out here was day by day. I felt raw. Exposed. There was a chance of seeing Kayla, Andy and Alex again. Alex… I couldn’t help how often I worried about him. I’d kind of adopted him as my little brother. I ensured he was warm at night, letting him snuggle with me. I worked extra hard when Serpent took me out, to get enough food that my share would be enough for Alex and I. And if there was enough, I always shared with Kayla and Andy too. They became the closest I had to parents, since The Shimmer. I knew Kayla and Andy could care for him, but I liked to think I’d eased the load a bit. His laughing eyes and bright smile had given me something to keep waking up for. I’m his best friend. I knew because he told me all the time. He needs me. For the first time since the collapse of the Main House, I felt like I had a real direction. I walked faster. Intent on finding water. I was so thirsty. My step got quicker. Fueled by my banquet of food, yesterday and a renewed sense of purpose. *** I’m dying. It was an endless chant in my head. But my mouth was parched, and my scalp itched from all the sand lodged in it. I’d sweated enough that Serpent’s vest was sticking to my torso. I’d tucked all my hair beneath the sleek hood, to keep it hidden. But there was so much of it that it dangled over my chest and along the center of my back. Insulating me like I wore a fur coat in one-hundred-degree weather. It was miserable. It was the first day since The Shimmer, that I’d yearned for nightfall. Let the nightbirds come! I didn’t even care anymore. I was so hot that the sticky dryness made my eyes ache. And I felt like I was going to have to lean over and manually lift my legs, to keep them trudging through the sand. Taking one more step seemed impossible. My vision was the worst during the hours just before nightfall. They couldn’t focus on daylight and couldn’t fully change to see in the dark. Giving me a sort of blurred night vision that was really only dark shadows. I was extra leery. Looking around nervously. But I heard the first trickle of water on what sounded like plastic. Perhaps in a bucket. I knew I should be suspicious, but my will to live outweighed that. I worked my way through the deepening sand, to go in that direction. Seeing fuzzy outlines of an occasional tree. Telling me that I had to be getting close to a water source. I rolled my back against a tree. Tipping around to survey the situation. I could hear voices in the distance. Murmuring. A camp? My brow furrowed. Out here you had to assess fast if someone was friend or foe. I heard the distinct click of a shotgun being racked and realized I had made a mistake. It’s way too close. I stumbled through the sand, taking off. Half blind and trying to get far from their territory. But I’d only made it about two steps before a sand hound reared up before me. I should’ve seen the lump indicating it was there. Or the telltale black tipped snout that allowed it to breathe, but I was too thirsty, blind and in too much of a hurry, to pay attention how I should be. It opened large jaws. About as big as a crocodile’s mouth. Ready to snap them around me but I heard the boom of a the gun and watched blood splatter around the animal’s dark eyes. Sending it falling limply back to the sand. I turned around. Hoping that someone was sincerely trying to help. Though that’s not generally how it works anymore. I found a man covered in tattoos, staring at me through angry eyes. He wore a green bullet proof vest over green tactical clothes. He had a rag tied around his head and dark slashing brows. He was glaring at me like I’d just crawled from under a rock. “Grab her.” He said. Making my gut drop. People in tactical gear poured from the trees to grab me. Yanking me backward by arms and dragging me over the sand so roughly that it rolled down my pants and scratched my lower back. “Hey! Hey, I didn’t know!” I thought I had gone the opposite direction of the rovers. But it didn’t take me much to figure out that once the light had gone dim, I must’ve walked a circle and walked stupidly, straight into their damn camp. Like I was mental. “Your ours now, Cupcake. Get ready to do some talkin’.” One lady said harshly. Looking down at me darkly. 31

  • The Legend of Fury 6

    50 Notice Me Fury was going to notice my presence. He’ll sense I’m here. I looked over my shoulder and back. Just go, Rebekah. But there were a few hunks of discarded meat next to him. Which smell tantalizing. I wanted them. I’d been feeding on bony rodents for days. The idea of snacking on bits of the fat piglets, had my mouth watering. The meat would practically melt over my tongue. And the fat would tide me over for days. I eased over. Taking each step slow, and quiet, in the hope that he wouldn’t be disturbed. I hesitated after each step. My eyes locked on him. Finally over the piglets, I eased one over with a foot. Glancing furtively from him to the food. I crouched down and began picking at it. I could see that he’d already removed the innards, so it was only the fresh meat left. Though I would’ve appreciated the nutrition of the rest, this was truly the best part. As far as I was concerned. I lifted it to my mouth and began ripping at the skin. Savoring every bite. I hadn’t even realized how much I was truly starving until having food in my mouth again. I took a few rushed bites before slowing enough to thoroughly enjoy the flavor. The feel of smooth meat on my tongue and the scent of it filling my nostrils. I did vaguely wonder where he’d found piglets this season. Most of them should’ve been grown. Once I’d eaten my fill, I leaned against a tree. Still gorging myself. Mostly from a need to conserve whatever food I could until I might eat so well, again. I found myself leaning back against a tree staring at him lying there. So peacefully. I couldn’t stop comparing our worlds. I was perpetually running from the males that had every desire of turning me into a pack bitch. Throwing me in a hut and using me for their pleasure. Something I’d rather die than endure. I had to work hard for the food I got. Squirrels and other rodents with only an occasional deer. I had to build something to make a safe place for me. Defying every instinct I had to make a hole in the ground, in order to live up high instead. For me to survive free, it was constant effort. I had to work hard to not need a pack. But he made it look so easily. He roamed around, with no one to bother him. Free of any pack. Able to do what he wished without an alpha making demands of him. He walks whatever path he wishes, when he wishes. He made it all seem effortless. Even acquiring a breeder under the Mating Moon had been easy. He’d walked into our pack. They’d asked hm for protection and offered me up like a sacrificial lamb. And now, when I’d been starving and walking through the woods alone. Wondering if I was being followed. Or if I’d run into members of the Enoke pack, any moment, he’d been here sleeping. As if he has not a care in the world. The longer I thought about it, the madder I got. Jealousy made my face tight and my jaw clench. I crawled across the space separating us. Until I knelt just behind him. I used only the tip of my finger, to catch along the side hem of his cloak. Easing it back until I could see the bone dagger on his hip. I knew it would be there. He was too meticulous a man, to neglect having a weapon on him. Even though his whole body is a weapon. I’d heard all the things about him. About how big a wolf he was, how vicious he could be. He wasn’t vicious with me. A niggling little voice in my head reminded me. Angry at my thoughts, as much as at him, I snatched that blade from the sheath and put it against his throat. He didn’t move. Staying every bit as still as he’d been up to that point. “I should gut you like one of these piglets.” He chuckled softly. His shoulders moving with the sound. “You think this funny?” I tightened my grip. Stretched around his shoulder, I pushed that blade in just a bit more. “I told you what would happen if you came to me in the dark.” “I didn’t come ‘to you.’ I’m here to kill you.” “Nevertheless…” In a movement so fast, I’d have had zero chance of stopping it, he swept his hand up near my elbow and batted my arm down. Dragging the blade from his throat. I felt it sink in as he removed it. Imagining that I had still cut it, I was slightly stunned. He was moving with that hand. Swinging around onto his knees and pushing that wrist to the ground. His other hand landing near my head to balance him over me. I gasped. My eyes rounding as I stared at him in horror. “That’s impossible.” I’d never seen anything so fast in my entire life. It was worse than a striking snake. That I could dodge. “Just let me go…I’ll go.” “Now, why would I do that?” He asked softly. Offering me a lopsided grin. His eyes flared with a yellow glint, in the dark. Roving over me. “When you’ve come all this way, and had such a nice meal, on me.” “It was here, I…” My instincts told me I should tell him I didn’t know it was his. But I wasn’t a liar. “I was angry.” I admitted dully. “I bet you were.” “What is that supposed to mean?” He sighed. “You don’t like feeling vulnerable, do you Kitten?” No! “What is it you want to hear?” “You admit it.” He was smiling again. White teeth flashing in the blackness. I’m not doing that. “Are you going to let me go?” “I believe I’ve already answered that.” My stomach sank. “Don’t you think you’ve already taken enough of me?” “I’ve been unable to think of anything else.” A wicked swirl twined through me. I looked around this little opening in the trees with new eyes. The pile of prepared meat. The instinctual beast that didn’t so much as move, the whole time I sat there eating. He was awake the whole time. I realized. It hit me like a punch to the face. “This was a trap.” He chuckled again. “You’re a clever girl, Kitten.” He tugged at the waistband of my pants. Wiggling it down my thighs. I was breathing raggedly. Glaring at him. I felt the cool swish of air across my bare pelvis and thighs. So cold, I shivered. When I moved I felt the stabbing hardness of him, hovering just above me. He was already fully aroused. He straddled my knees with his. Pinning me under him with my pants around my knees. He sat back and caught the hem of my tunic. Meeting my fearful gaze as he lifted it. Purposefully moving it upward until my breasts were exposed. A biting wind plucking at my nipples, until they turned into hard little pebbles. Extra sensitive as his gaze took them in hungrily. Holding my shirt up with one hand, he smoothed the other one over my belly and down around the curve of my hip. Feeling my silky skin and enjoying all my revealed curves. He untied his own pants and pushed them down around his legs. Forcing a knee against my thighs until they instinctively opened to escape the sting. I lurched up and shoved his chest. “Get off me.” “Ssh.” He clucked in his cheek. “Did you think you could come here, eat my food, and pay no cost.” “You can’t just-” “I can, Rebekah.” He breathed. “It is one of the costs of having no protection.” “What are you telling me!” I cried. Feeling him settling between my legs. Pinning my pants around my calves and holding my thighs open as he lifted over me. I reached to claw his face but he caught it, before I could touch him. Prying open my curled fingers and turning it from him so he could press his lips against my palm. Watching my face as he slid the tip of himself into me. “Stop it!” I shouted. Trying to writhe under him. “You’re already wet for me, Kitten. It’s fascinating how your fierce defiance commands you to deny the pleasure your body seeks.” He was damnably right. I was so wet, I had already soaked the tip of him. When he withdrew to show me. I could see the creamy glisten along the tip and sides of him. “Do you see how you want to feel me? You’ve opened the way, already. I’m going to feel you again, Kitten. I’m going to take you, ride you until you come all over me. So, there’s really only one question.” I was chewing my cheeks. Fiercely angry as struggled under him. “Are you ready to squeal?” 51 Watching Me Squeal for me. He said. That’s what he wants. That hammered in my head. No! I wanted to shout no. I wanted to force him off me. But he was far too large and there was something buried deep in my subconscious that wanted to lift my hips for him and offered him, my entrance. What he’s planning to take. I was hypnotized by his movements. The ripple of his muscled body. He angled himself toward the mouth of my center. Slicking it between my tender lower lips and into the hot little hall, coursing between my hips and behind my pelvis. As idiotic as it was, I was less afraid of him, and more concerned about what would happen after. What if he’s even more locked in my head? Thoughts of him had distracted me from nearly everything. Always there. In the back of my mind. I tried to shove him with my other hand, but he caught that one too. Dragging it down to his chest. Putting it there, against the bare flesh. I sank my claws into him. Which elicited the same response as last time. That memory came back with stark reality, as he drove into me. Clawing him excites him. His body tightened and he leaned up. Offering me more of his chest to rake my nails through. Craving more. As he slid between the silky walls of my center, he emitted a low, masculine moan. He glided in and out of me. His iron hard, male length scratching my inner walls. Filling me to the point I was unsure if I could take even one more inch. Everything in me, felt like raw nerves. Each stroke felt as though it rubbed directly along my spine. Making my fingers and thighs tighten with each pulsing movement. “I love having you under me. Wrapped around me. The way you sound, every time I enter you…” I screeched in frustration. Lifting my legs to try to kick him or roll him over, but he stopped one knee with a flat palm. Keeping it from raising any higher. He held it level with his hip. Leaning up, he used it for leverage to hoist himself up enough to get a new angle. Offering me longer strokes. “Tell me, Kitten. What will make you come for me? When I move into you upward, like this? Or something else?” He abruptly changed his hold. Catching under my knee and folding it up against my chest before doing the same to the other one. Realizing I couldn’t move at all, I became even more outraged. “You set this up! You knew I would want to eat these piglets!” “And I let you.” “You trapped me.” I accused. Even as I felt the prodding of him lining up with my opening again. “You’d not have fallen into it so easily, had part of you not yearned for what would happen. You had some idea of the risks. You sat there, you considered it, and then you made your move.” He was right. Which made me furious. He can rot! “I was hungry!” “I know. That’s why I found you plenty to feast on.” All talking ceased when he slid fully into me again. In this position, it felt like he was resting and moving directly against my inner spine. Along pure nerves. He withdrew and slid back in. Each time creating a renewed mind-bending sensation that hit me like being struck by lightning, again and again. I could no longer think of fighting him. Paralyzed by the vibrating of my body. Then I erupted. As if a levy on a damn had just snapped and unleashed wild torrents. Pleasure which spilled through me, and over us both. Offering him the evidence of my climax. “Ah.” He said. Much to my shame. “There it is.” My face burned furiously, and I squinted my eyes closed. Not wanting to see that gloating expression again. “Do you really think you can hide from this moment?” I didn’t answer. “Open your eyes, Kitten.” No! My mind roared. Every bit of my heart, denied him. “Show me you’re not afraid.” And that was that. He urged me like that. Knowing it would goad me into opening my damn eyes. I couldn’t stand giving him a reason to call me a coward. He absolutely will. I was looking everywhere but at him. “Look at me, Kitten. Don’t be afraid.” I tightened my jaw. It took every ounce of my willpower to look at him. Seeing his shining yellow eyes. His face was framed by waving red hair. It fell down around me. Filling my senses with his scent. He smelled raw, masculine and wild. Like trees, dirt, animals and fur. No wolf I’d ever known had smelled quite like that. There was always a hint of the pack they belonged to. Because they reside in such close quarters. But not him. His smell is entirely his own. Now that I’d already reached one climax, I hovered perilously close to a following one, from the moment he began moving again. A sensual building of the tension that led me straight to that precipice. First turning me cold, before a swell of great heat washed over me. I was panting, trying to catch my breath as he drove into me. My legs pushed against me. Compressing my chest. Which made it hard to breathe. Seeing my struggle, he leaned off them enough for them to fold around him. Weakly resting against his hips. Still shaking from the last orgasm, even as he sent another one coursing over me. I gave a long moan of objection. Feeling far too weak to ride the currents of another one. At some point, my hands had fallen to the ground near my shoulders, feeling like I was far too weak to struggle anymore. He caressed a hand along my cheek. “Such a fierce little thing.” He murmured. Open admiration in his voice. That hand caressed over my shoulder and atop the peak of one breast. And along my belly. Putting a bit of pressure there, so we could both feel him stroking in and out. He slid his legs back, between mine. Dropping over me in a way that allowed me to feel every inch of him. This position was far more intimate. “You feel amazing when you’re coming for me. Do it again?” No! I gritted my teeth and gave him a hateful look. His eyes were hooded as he stared back at me. Too bold to break my gaze. “You are the most intriguing female I’ve ever met.” “Met or bred?” I snapped. He chuckled. “Both.” My back was beginning to arch. Twisting so far that my head folded back. My body was now so sensitized that every motion, gliding through me seemed even more intense than the last. My toes were folding from the tightening in my legs. His thick shoulders worked. Bunching and easing with every movement. Cords of muscle wove through his arms, showing all the definition there. His chest flattened, pulling toward his biceps before relaxing again. His abdomen showed the well-honed muscles of his core. It was mesmerizing. The blue cloak surrounded us. Like a curtain against the chill. Blanketing us both in the warmth our heated bodies were creating. He was so broad-shouldered, his frame blocked the light from above. Silhouetting him in the silvery light. Making the differences between him, and my smaller frame, more contrasting. I felt him shuddering as he slipped into me a final time. Using my past climaxes to smooth the way for his. He gave a guttural male sound as he spilled himself into me. We were both panting, breathing raggedly. He tipped sideways. Sliding off me, so he didn’t crush me. I immediately rolled away to get as far from him as possible, but his grip snatched my arm. Bringing me to a stop. I froze. Afraid he’d want even more. Like he did under the Mating Moon. Instead, he nudged his other hand beneath the opposite side of my waist. Lifting me enough to pull me backward against him. Making me grunt as the air was slightly knocked from me. He was molded against my back. Cradling me in the crook of his body. Warming me with his heat. “It’s time for me to go.” I said angrily. “You’re not going anywhere.” I have to! I have to stay ahead of Jojo. “Let me go!” I began wiggling away from him with renewed strength. “Stop.” He said so forcefully I froze. Ducking my head, and reflexively uttering a submissive whimper. “You haven’t slept appropriately in days.” He said gruffly. Making my hand whip in his direction. “How do you know that?” “It’s irrelevant.” He dismissed. “You’ve been running yourself ragged for days. You’ve barely slept and when you do, you’re so jumpy you’re waking up several time an hour.” I stared at him aghast. Finally muttering in astonishment. “You’ve been watching me.” 52 Slowing the Hunters I wasn’t asking a question. It’s clearly fact. He had, clearly, been observing me. One way or another. Where was he? How far behind me was he? Was he there when I did sleep? He had to have been, to know I was waking up every hour. I replayed all those times I had sat up, huffing. Looking around. Searching the trees for any movement. I hadn’t seen any sign of him. Imagining him sitting there watching me was daunting. “I’ve come across you on occasion.” And stayed? “Were you watching me sleep?” I blurted. That thought was eerie. If he could sneak up on me like that, what was there to say that Jojo couldn’t? I swallowed hard. Feeling sickened. I thought I was so careful… “Watching over you.” He corrected. “I wasn’t watching you. I was watching the woods.” “For Jojo?” He shrugged. “Then you know Jojo is tracking me.” “Not tonight.” “What do you mean?” My voice rose. He could be closing all of the distance I’d made, even now! My walls were closing in and I was beginning to feel stifled. “Let him try to take you from me.” Fury said. There was such a threatening note in his voice that my head whipped his direction, to study him. I hesitated. My mouth opening and closing. What could Jojo do? Fury would run over him like a horse cart. Jojo was taller and wider than me. But compared to Fury, he was diminutive. “Sleep, Rebekah.” I didn’t dare refuse him. That stomach-clenching, flinching, feeling I’d experienced when he’d barked at me was still in the forefront of my mind. I don’t want to hear it again. I’d been shocked by my instinctive response to his aggressive tone. I had no control in that moment. My wolf would’ve obeyed anything he commanded. Which led to an even more upsetting thought. What if he’d ordered me to submit to him, like that? Would I have? I was afraid I already knew the answer to that. So why didn’t he try it? That was the real question, wasn’t it? *** I felt more rested than I could remember, when I finally woke. I was still lying in Fury’s camp. I could feel his body against the back of mine. He was still wrapped around me, emanating heat. But the smell of food had me prying my eyes open to find there were to fresh piglets before me. I inhaled blissfully. Sliding from Fury on my elbows to real the delicious little morsels. These were a bit larger than the other ones. Indicating he knew where there was a plentiful population. In the area. I found myself looking around wondering where it was, as I sank my teeth beneath the hide. Enjoying every bite. I twisted to look over my shoulder. Finding him awake there. Propped up on an elbow to watch me. “You’ve already been out hunting this morning?” “I like to go before dawn.” I glanced up at the rising sun. It’s barely past that now. “Thank you.” I lifted the meat. He lowered his head in a nod. I had my ears attuned to our surroundings. But I heard nothing. No trace of Jojo and his goons. I ate quietly. Mulling over what had happened the night before. “It’s good to see you getting enough to eat.” I glanced up at him. “Will you tell me now, why you entrapped me?” “You needed some real rest. You’ve been running all across the land with those little shits chasing you everywhere you go. You needed a break.” “For you to breed me again?” “Only if you touched me. If you had laid across the camp and ate your fill, I’d have never touched you. You did threaten me.” He reminded. “It was you that put your hands on me first.” He eyed me consideringly. “Would you have done it, had I not moved, I wonder?” I chewed my cheek. I was afraid I already knew I wouldn’t have. But I wanted to! At least, I thought so. “If you were so worried about them chasing me, why didn’t you do something about it?” I challenged. I didn’t really expect him to do anything but I was curious to see what he’d say. I don’t even know why he’s involving himself into the matter, this far. “Because you wouldn’t let me. I offered.” He pointed out. I thought of the morning after the Mating Moon. I’d looked up at him on that bank and saw the waiting look he’d given me. If I had signaled him, what would he have done? I suppose he had offered. But I was unwilling to admit that aloud. “I don’t like watching weak males trying to prey on a strong female, for no other reason than because she is a lone wolf.” Cryptic. Why would he care? He got up and meandered around me. Sitting cross-legged before me. Uncaring of his nudity. He looked natural that way. Like he was part of the forest, afraid of nothing. Comfortable moving within it, without a shred of shelter. Even on his body. He was bold. Fearless. There was no denying that. “Is that the only reason?” I fished. Wondering if he was giving me a bullshit story. If he keeps talking. I might be able to tell. “Does there need to be another?” He reached to steal a bit of meat from the piglet I was ripping at. “No male has ever looked out for me, without wanting something in return.” “I want for no material thing.” “No.” I frowned. “I suppose not. You get everything you want, don’t you?” I tossed my hands. “The great ‘Original.’” He lowered the bite of meat and stared at me in astonishment. “Is that what you think?” The off-guard expression on his face was so humorous, I nearly laughed. The bit of food fell from his fingers. Birds twittered and toads sang. Which were the only sounds filling the air between us. “Well come with me then.” He spoke. Shocking me into silence. “You can come be my gorgeous little slave.” “What?” I expostulated. “I’m not doing that!” “See?” He pointed out. “I don’t get all I desire!” “Because I won’t be your slave?” “Because I’d love for you to be. But you won’t.” He countered. “Of course not!” “Then how can you say I get all I want?” “Everything except me.” “Oh, really? Do you have the faintest idea what kinds of things I want, Woman?” I blinked at him. Realizing that I’d just assumed everyone would want the same things I did. “What else could you possibly want?” He sighed. Pulling another chunk off the leftover meat. “I’ve lived a long time, Kitten. There are many things a wolf can crave in that amount of time.” “Don’t speak as if I’m a pup.” “No, you’re no pup.” He relented. “But you are still very young.” I glowered at him. He’s not going to tell me. *** We finished eating, with much left to spare. I stared down at the excess meat. Wishing I had enough room in my belly to finish it. I mourned wasting it. Sure, it was just scraps. Bits of meat attached to the hide and along the bone. But, still, it was the best meal I’d had in ages. I didn’t have a talent for catching boar. They were generally too aggressive and too cautious to wander into one of my traps. Which were, admittedly, more adept to catching smaller game. There were certain types of animals I regularly feasted on and others that were nearly beyond me to catch. “Take the rest with you.” He directed authoritatively. “Oh, I have permission to leave now, do I?” He grinned. “Oh, how I’d love to give you, my permission.” I knew what he meant. Or at least I thought I did. He was saying he’d love for me to be his slave. But why was he saying it in that husky note? “Best run while you can, Sweetheart.” He crooned. “You’re staying here?” “I’m going to wait for the rest of your pack to give them a formal greeting.” The way he said it, told me he wasn’t going to be particularly welcoming. “They’re not my pack.” He’d begun scattering the pig skins to make the aroma stronger. But he spared me a glance. I stood there. With about a thousand questions racing through my mind. “Best use the headstart, Kitten. I’m going to buy you some time.” By confronting them or killing them? He was hyper-focused now. He won’t answer me, if I ask. “Fine.” I swept up what was left of the good meat, and walked past him. I jumped when I felt a hand smack my ass. I gave a loud yip and jumped. Making him chuckle. I picked up a rock and hurled it at him. He laughed even harder as he blocked it with his shoulder. I gave a growl of frustration and stalked off. He’s infuriating. 53 The Unexpected FURY They were easy to bait with the smell of pork. I tore a few bits of meat and scattered them around the perimeter of my little camp. Knowing they would reflexively trail that direction. Even if they’re not keen trackers. The smell of blood and raw meat would lure them. They were young and foolish and walked right into my arms. I’d been right. Jojo had wasted no time in getting right back on her tracks, every opportunity he got. The alpha is condoning him hunting her. Which didn’t bode well for her. The ramifications of pack desertion were always ugly. Especially for females. Jojo in particular was relentless. I could give him that. He can’t think about anything else. She was on his mind every moment. The pack boy was obsessed with the she-wolf he couldn’t tame. He was bent on either owning her or killing her. And likely about the name it will get him to have controlled their little she-wolf monster. I’m not about to let that happen. She wasn’t mine, but she sure as shit wasn’t theirs either. And I’m keeping it that way. The thought of my sunrise-haired beauty tied up in some dark shack, the whim of every male’s lust was deplorable. The things they would do to her in one of those, would be horrific and they would be relentless. I’d seen the results of what the NightHunters had began years ago. Breeder shacks. That was one of the many reasons why I slaughtered their packs nearly as fast as they cropped up. At least the ones I can find. I felt disgust just thinking of the rogue packs that called themselves the NightHunters. NightHunters because they can only travel at night. Because whenever I get word of them, I hunt them. The NightHunters were known to be rebels. Defying my every directive. Going against my laws to harm their own. Hunting humans and bringing them into the woods to hunt us. They’re as evil as they come. And they had no regard for protecting their own kind. And they had been the ones to start the Pack Bitch Shacks. Where they’d tie up a female to be tortured and bred until she perished. It was a miserable existence for any female. But this one? She’d die first. She’d wrap that rope around her damn neck. I knew as well as she did, that it would be a death sentence for her, if they took her back. But being out here alone, had a lot of risks of its own. She was very competent, but she had several things working against her. She was young, beautiful, naïve to the world beyond the pack. And worst of all… She smells intoxicating. She possessed the kind of wolf scent that would have males scratching at her door for decades to come. Which makes it impossible for her to hide from any wolf for long. Best she can do is stay ahead of them. Or kill them. But I didn’t want that to be on her. She’s not ready for that. So, I would for her. I owed her at least that much. I hadn’t been particularly kind under the Mating Moon. *** I caught the smell of the young wolves coming, a mile before they reached me. They were loud. Careless. Thinking they’re the most vicious thing in these woods. They didn’t even have the good sense to wonder if they were traipsing into other wolf territories. Though she didn’t either. I’d watched her. Ensuring she didn’t deviate too far one way or the other. Or I’d have chased her back onto track. “What is that?” One of the young males murmured. Lifting his nose in the air and smelling carefully. “Wolf.” Another one responded. “Male.” Hmm. Sharp enough to catch my scent over the pig. Vaguely impressive. “Alone?” A familiar voice queried, askance. I recognized Jojo’s superior tone immediately. He continued. “It has to be her. It’s no male.” He looked around. Eyeing the smaller tracks that walked into this part of the woods. “We followed her here.” “Maybe she covered herself in something to conceal her smell?” One suggested. “What are you talking about?” Another interjected. “All I smell is boar.” “There’s hides here.” Jojo shuffled one around with his foot. Peering at it. “She must’ve found a whole litter.” One said in admiration. “How’d she manage that? I can never get close to them.” “Because you’re loud as a horse.” Jojo said disdainfully. As if he could catch one piglets. He’s too clumsy. “I don’t think she did this.” The one that had recognized my male scent was backing up fearfully. Eyeing the sheer number of torn hides, littering the ground. He’s the only one with a brain, in the whole bunch. Which meant I definitely needed to kill him first. To my utter gratification, he backed right toward me. I swung from behind the tree trunk to toss an arm around his neck. Locking him back against me. He struggled but he was no match for the width and power of my arm. “You little bastards, trying to sneak up on me?” “No.” Two of them shook their heads in horror. “We didn’t want to find you!” Another blurted so honestly that I might’ve laughed, had I not been so focused. “No, Sir.” The one I gripped grunted around his choking throat. “We were after a woman.” “He knows.” Jojo said a bit more shrewdly than I’d have given him credit for. I ignored him like he hadn’t spoke at all. Commenting. “Looks like you’re trying to corner me.” “No.” “No.” The others echoed. Beginning to shift and look every direction. For an escape. I eyed them boredly. Unfortunately, only one of you is going home. I decided. I tore out the throat of the smart one. Dropping pieces of esophagus and flesh before lunging at the next one. They scattered like roaches upon daylight. But lucky for me, pack wolves were dimly predictable. They hate being alone. Especially when frightened, they’ll try to run straight back to the safety of their pack. Which will make them easy to pick off. *** I could admit a bit of primal excitement, to be hunting something a bit more dangerous than my usual prey. Something more like me. But at the end of the day, these were all barely more than pups. It didn’t take me long to round them up and dispatch them. I left only the one I felt obligated to. The Enoke alpha’s son. The alpha’s pride would be wounded that I’d slaughtered so many of his young males, but he’d see the fact that I’d sent his sniveling son home after ambushing me, as the gift it was. A warning to stay out of my way. Last I saw, Jojo was fleeing back to his pack, his tail tucked between his legs. Literally, since I’d killed his last two friends in front of him and he’d instinctively changed to wolf form to flee me. I let him, but not before giving him a quick bite to the flank, as a reminder of what would happen should I catch him hunting my Kitten, again. After that, I walked back to where I’d shucked my pants and cloak to pursue him as a wolf. Sweeping up the meager clothing, all that I possessed, I groaned when I found blood had saturated the pants. Leaving a dark stain on the outside of one leg. I took the garments down to the river, where I’d have to spend the next hour scrubbing. A task I wasn’t overly fond of. And even more frustratingly, one I just did yesterday. *** REBEKAH I’d only made it about a mile away when I heard the first cut-off cry of a wolf, from the direction I’d recently left. A broken sound that cut the air like a knife. Rending the peace of the morning. And making my whole body tighten in reaction. I crouched looking around nervously. I realized quickly exactly what it was. What I knew was coming. But somehow, I still wasn’t prepared for the sheer startle-factor, of it. He’s after Jojo’s mini-pack. There was dead silence for what seemed an eternity after that. I was sure Fury had killed that one. Realizing I was standing there looking around, like an idiot, I forced myself forward again. I walked a few more steps through denser brush. But paused when I heard an anguished yelp. So shrill that birds skyrocketed upward, and I crouched. Feeling the instinctive trickle of fear at the pained, panicked, sounds of wolves dying activated an ingrained alarm system in my brain. Making my heart race and creating in me an urgent need to blindly flee. Get away. I nudged through the wall of branches and leaves. Losing all trace of direction in my panic. Dipping my head and waiting for the nearest opening to break into a run. By now I heard another squealing wail from a young wolf. He’s killing them all. I realized in horror. 54

  • My Shackled Siren 6

    51 Dorin's Hunt Lucas and Zier eventually subsided into silence. Sitting outside and taking in the peace of evening. Listening to birds cackling in the distance and the soft screech of crickets. The song of a toad a distance away. The rising sound of water moving around them, occasionally splashing. Zierno had been aware Dorin had wanted him dead since Zierno was a child. The old Captain of the Guard had not appreciated the skinny boy who was granted such easy access beyond the castle walls. Though I did my share of defying him. Zierno noted in defense of the bitter old man. Dorin had repeatedly banished him from the castle. Despite the king and Eben’s permission. Wanting him to leave and never return. But I always found a way in, eventually. The humiliation Dorin suffered at being unable to keep one scrawny boy from the castle had been well-known. The king had often chuckled about it. Teasing Dorin every time Zier made his back in. Dorin didn’t appreciate that. He wanted to kill me. “You can’t contain him, Captain.” The king had told him. “He’s fiercer than all your knights!” He laughed. “They’d do well to take some pointers from him!” That had resulted in the entire hall laughing. A slander that Dorin hadn’t taken lightly. Later, when the king insisted Zier be taken on as a squire, Dorin had ensured it was to the cruelest knight in their ranks. An old man that insisted Zier be meticulous in all things. But much to the captain’s chagrin, Zier had learned much from old Kerrigan. Despite the numerous cufflings. Zier’s argument with Eben provided Dorin the first opportunity to wipe Zierno from Ardae with no repercussions from the current king. He can spin it as though he’s protecting Eben. Zier knew. Even though Eben’s order had been to bring Zierno back. Not slay me. But Zierno knew as well as everyone else did that wasn’t going to be the case. Dorin never had any intention taking me back alive. Zierno imagined he was scheduled to have some horrible accident on the way back, should he not resist enough in battle. A shriek from inside the hut, drew their attention. Zierno knew the moment he stepped inside and felt the wash of power throughout the room, that the situation had become precarious again. My men are in danger. He ordered them all out of the shack. “Get out! Get out!” He shouted. Neph was pulling at the rope and rattling the chains until they groaned in objection. Everything that restrained her was only barely holding her. “I can’t do this!” She roared in a demonic tone. “Release me.” The pain is becoming too much again. “It’s not what you want.” He said solemnly. His hands lifted in supplication, as he eased closer. Hoping to calm her. “I vowed to you I’d keep you here.” It was what the stag wanted from me, too. That knowledge did give him a bit of peace in in this purpose. Ever since the stag’s arrival in their camp, Zierno had strived to get clear answers from Miernephen on who/what he was. But she was as cryptic now, as she was the first day he met her. She doesn’t completely trust me. Not even now. Which seemed a bit ironic since she trusted him enough to join with him. Regularly. But even that was doing less to ease her pain. “You’re hurting.” He said with understanding. “What can I do?” “It’s agonizing!” She tossed her head back to cry out. Her eyes had become flinted rubies. “I know. I know.” He stepped slowly forward. “Let me help you.” She was breathing raggedly. Tossing her head and gritting her teeth. He reached out and touched her cheek. She sunk her teeth in, near his thumb. He winced, but only slid his hand back further, near her ear. Keeping it from her reach as he caressed fingers along her collarbone and tried to soothe her. “It’s okay, Neph. I’m here.” She snatched her hands out. Straining the chain, as she grabbed him to yank him to her. Staring up at his face as if searching for answers. She exuded anger and frustration. She was shaking so hard he could feel his arms jumping in her grip. “Please.” She groaned in desperation. “Please make it stop.” He kissed her. Ignoring all her ferocity and anger to descend on her. Wrapping his arms around her to cradle her against him. Molding her body to his as his mouth roamed over hers. His tongue snaking between her lips, to dance with hers. He could already feel his cock jumping with eagerness to be inside her. Despite that she’s terrifying right now. His fool body only wanted her. He stroked her hair down the back of her head as he leaned back to look at her. “Stay with me, Girl. Stay with me.” She kissed him back. Engaging in that same passion as she ripped his tunic down the center. Clawing to get to his body. “You’re mine!” She shouted. She reached up and fisted the hair at his collar. Tugging it hard enough he flinched as she pulled him back down to her. Kissing him with unbridled passion. Her hands freely roaming his body. “Give it to me.” She cried in that hoarse demonic voice that made his hair stand on end. Still, he wasn’t about to deny her. He kept pecking her lips as he pushed her hands, fumbling with the laces at his breeches, aside. Knowing she’d rip them in seconds if she didn’t get what she was after. He parted the laces to reveal his leaping cock. Thick and veined. Jutting like a bit of iron. And just as hard. Yearning for her. She parted her feet. Pulling and pushing aside what little she wore until she was bared. He wasted no time. Squatting low enough to sweep up toward her. The knob of him catching within her slit and caressing along the damp strip until finding its way into the hot crevice within her. Clenching already from her suffering. “Fuck me!” She roared. 52 Obeying He obeyed her demand. Catching under her ass and lifting her. Planting her against the wall as he began viciously driving into her. The way she prefers it when she’s like this. Never once had he had the opportunity to take his time, to make love to her. To see how she’d react when her eyes were lovely gold and her lovely gold flecked nipples, hardened for him. Grazing against his chest like bits of metal when he moved. Not enough to cut him but to press in along his skin. She pushed back from the wall. Writhing her hips down against his length. He groaned loudly. Hanging onto her hips as she worked herself over him. Her own weight pinning her down against his base. Her inner walls folding in to cradle him. Warmly caressing him with each of her movements. She rode down on him. Letting him hold her calves as she bounced down on him. Her lush breasts hopping from the top of her clothing. Swinging with each of her movements. He settled between her hips, gliding through her again and again. Coming out slick with her fluids and watching as her sensual lower lips parted to make way for him again. Hanging onto him as he withdrew. “Give me more.” She panted. Holding onto a bit of straw from the roof above her as if she needed something to cling to. Her hair was going light again. Shimmering silver with hints of gold glistening in it. Her voice was softening. Sounding more like her. The pace of her movements slowed. Becoming a longer stroke. Where she curled her hips upward at the end, to feel him at a new angle. Her movements were methodical, beautiful. She was a wanton creature. Taking what she wanted from him. He’d never been used for the pleasure of a woman before. Never thought to be. But watching her attain her own orgasm from riding his staff was the most erotic thing he could’ve ever imagined. She’s deeply sexual. Beautiful. She was different from every mortal woman he’d ever seen. Even in this. *** Outside the hut was far from beautiful. The small party was shifting uncomfortably as they tried to pretend they didn’t hear the moans and pained cries from in the hut. Or the distinct sounds of lovers. But when a brilliant burst of orange lit the woods before them, it drew everyone’s attention. “What the hell is that?” “Where did it come from?” “Is it Dorin?” They squinted through the gray cloud of smoke to try to see if Eben’s knights had found them and were now driving them into a corner. “Get back! Back. Closer to the hut.” Lucas and Dread and the other men had shielded Tears from the vibrant orange of the flames rising along the trees. Tiny fires which were silent. They made no sound. Even the bits of spark that emanated from the dying shrubbery were quiet. Bits of fiery ash coasted from the night sky. Falling as soundlessly as the raging orange that rose toward the heavens. Filling the night air with a smoky haze. Everything was being consumed in a huge ring around them. Driving them all back toward the hut. The stone wall at their back was the only thing not on fire. Lucas was casting worried look that direction. Afraid he’d spot Dorin and his archers up there. Ready to slaughter them. But no heads ever appeared there. Everything was being burned to the ground. But the flames hardly spread along the dirt. Beginning at the base of trees and feeding on them as it lifted along the bark. Wrapping them, entirely. They watched in horror as it ate the bushes, the plants, the grass, the small trees and the large ones. But it never travelled the expanse of ground to the hut. Or to them. They huddled watching it. Stunned when it began dousing. One by one the flames went out. Ceasing every bit as abruptly as they’d begun. “What just happened?” Barnabus asked Lucas. “Hell if I know!” *** Within the hut, Miernephen had become a primal creature of nature. Working her body with the expertise of a woman, who knew how to find both her own pleasure and that of her mate. Her skin shone in the light seeping into the hut. Which had taken on a brighter luminescence. Catching in the brightness of her hair and reflecting in the room. Giving him an even better view of her body. Clenching and releasing around him. The beautiful sight combining with the ecstasy of the woman sliding along him became more exhilarating by the second. His thoughts were shattered by the tingle at the base of his sac working its way upward like small electric currents wrapping around his length until he couldn’t hold it back anymore. She gave a small screech as if taking her last breath. Her legs wrapping him and holding him inside her as she began shuddering with her climax. Her fingers gripping the top of his shoulders. Leaving deep nail marks from where she held onto him. But even that had a potent effect on his body. Pushing him over the edge. He gave a low moan as he spilled into her. His cum sliding into the secret chamber enclosed in her body. Filling her warmth with the evidence of his own rise and fall. “You’re trying to kill me, Woman.” He grumbled. She breathed weakly. Her head finally falling forward. Sending moonlight colored hair pouring over her shoulders and down his body. Teasing around his hips and thighs, from their closeness. “You’re the only thing keeping me alive.” She murmured weakly. He gave her a startled look. That was the last thing I expected her to say. “Does joining distract you?” “No. Connecting with you makes the pain abate. Knowing I have you, that you’re with me in the most intimate way, brings sanity back into my world.” “You hardly know me.” He breathed. Slipping out of her, to let her slide down the wall. Making the changes holding her, rattle against the floor. “I know what you are.” 53 Devastation “What does that mean?” He lifted his brows. “I can see into the character of any being. I know who you are, Zierno.” She put a hand out to his chest. “I can see within you, to all that you guard.” He shook his head in confusion. Stepping back from her. “Sometimes I consider if you might be mad.” She gave a grudging head tilt. “There’s a good possibility of that, by now.” “What did they do to you.” “It was the Water Princes.” She sighed. Slumping down to the floor. “They’re horrible.” “What are they?” “They’re…” She closed her eyes and her precious words floated off as she fell into an immediate sleep. So exhausted she was no longer able to speak. He wanted to shout in frustration. That was the closest I’ve ever gotten to an explanation! He was beyond aggravated. What is going on, out here in these woods? What is she? And the stag? Brushing a hand through his hair he stepped out of the hut and stopped as he stared around in shock. When did this happen? *** While he’d been inside, trying to assuage the beast that took hold of Neph, out here had been dying. He saw his men and Tears standing there. Staring around them in the same stunned wonder he did. Everything that had been vibrant green and flowering mere hours ago, was now dead. Even the sounds of birds and crickets had silenced. As if even they, were now deceased. Skeletal trunks had fragmented, split, and fell all around the hut. Widening the clearing around them. Emphasizing our location. So much for a hideout. Dorin and his knights couldn’t be more than a day away in any direction. How they’ve not found me already, is a miracle. And what would happen when they discovered Neph? Especially if she’s chained in my hut. He saw in his mind’s eye how Eben had looked at her. All the foul things he’d been imagining, clear on his face. I can’t let that happen. Zierno’s options were dwindling. If I let her go, I’ll shatter my promise. And something awful would happen to her. He could feel it. He didn’t fully understand what it was but he knew that somehow, what she was going through was toward an end. A way to save her. But if she kept suffering as she was, would there really be anything left of her to save, when they reached the end of their timeline? What if she ends up left to Eben’s mercy? Or worse, Dorins? Zierno had always thought Eben a good man, but something happened to him when he was around her. Dorin has always been a monster. A monster… Was that what he thought Eben was now? What would happen if he just turned her over to him? Would he really hurt her? Is that who he is? Zierno was having a hard time reconciling the boy he knew, with the vicious man he’d glimpsed. He didn’t want to believe Eben was that evil. Zierno looked back at the hut. Wondering the same thing the men and Tears were. They were all staring at him expectantly. Waiting for me to make a decision. The question was, could he put her out of her misery? Is that even the right thing to do? Zierno looked at the destroyed remnants of the woods. And realized it looked like the crumbled remains of a fire pit, little more than ash. The foggy morning of lush green had died with the rise of Miernephen’s pain. Or was it her mere presence back here, that’s killed everything? *** Early The Next Morning “Woohoo.” It was a coaxing call. Beckoning the army in that direction. A heartbeat later, the echoing call came from the opposite way. The same as it had for the last few hours. Captain Dorin’s party would stumble upon the tracks of one man, then an hour later it would branch into the steps of many. Scattering in every direction. Dorin was beyond frustrated. Shouting that he was going to kill every last one of them. “The little bastards are going to pay!” “I will whip them for you, Commander.” A knight offered. If Dorin found out who’d been taunting them from the overgrowth all morning, he was going to run the son-of-a-bitch through. “Damn this place!” One knight muttered. “Damn Zierno and his flock of mercenaries.” Another one complained. They were, understandably, tired of being teased like children by a bully. “I assure you, men. I shall slaughter the mercenary leader, slowly.” “Commander,” His most trusted knight rode up to him. “The men are hungry. Exhausted.” “We dare not return to The Netherlands empty-handed or our king will have all our heads.” Dorin murmured. “Is serving the scrap of a ruler, worth this?” “Mind your tongue.” Dorin snapped. “That manner of talk will get both our ranks stripped.” The other mand ducked his head. “Aside from that, if I get to kill that little shit, yes. It will be worth it.” “Zierno?” “Yes.” Sighing, the second in command used his arm to wipe the lingering moisture from his forehead. Despite the dawn chill, he was sweating beneath his leather tunic and chain mail. His troupe was in dire need of some rest. But they dared not dismount with Zier’s mercenaries so close, undoubtedly observing every bit of progress, or lack thereof, they made. *** Barnabus Kurdikus smiled joyfully even though an abrasive bush scraped against his cheek, his head was throbbing from weariness, his thighs were quivering as though he were a young maid from being squatted in the same position so long, and a very intrusive twig had been turned beneath his boot and was now perilously close to invading his rear. He couldn’t move without drawing their attention. So far, the mercenary’s strategy had been very effective. The knights were suffering far more than the mercenaries moving in migrating circles around them. It was a wearing technique Zierno had long ago taught them, in order to exhaust dangerous prey before they moved in. It had often spared the Kurdikus brothers injury in the past. And more than one bounty had surrendered himself, no longer mentally able to endure the waiting for an attack. Barnabus and his brothers, rhetorical and blood, were enjoying watching Dorin squirm immensely. 54 Squirm for Us Zierno’s brethren might have suffered twinges of conscience for exhausting the army by keeping them endlessly on edge, had the faces of murdered friends not lingered in their minds every time they looked at Dorin, Captain of the Guard. Who’d killed so many of theirs. Barnabus himself remembered dragging a boy two years his junior, Bucky, to the grove in the bailey of The Netherlands to hide what was left of him from Zierno. The smallest in their group, Bucky was a quick little runt, but Dorin had come at him from behind. They’d all been waiting for him near the booths when Dorin’s sword split him. Emerging from Bucky’s stomach long before they’d even had time to register Dorin had crept up on them. He’d raged, intent on punishing them all for gleefully stealing a ham which they had desperately needed. Bucky had lurched forward, his body reacting on the reflex to save itself, but the sword was too long. Blood gurgled from his young throat. Garbled cries of agony choked the little fellar as Dorin cruelly jerked the sword upward. He’d split Bucky open, up to his ribs. By then, the rest of them had fled. Knowing there was no hope for Bucky, they were forced to leave him alone, to endure his last moments of suffering. Dorin laughed triumphantly. Standing over him to watch the boy die. Barnabus had watched behind a tree, desperate for the knight to leave so he could comfort Bucky. Dorin backhanded Bucky. Knocking the boy to the ground, sword still jutting from his sternum. Barnabus’ jaw ground until his teeth ached from him trying to will the Captain of the Guard, to stop. He finally had to look away when Dorin put his boot on Bucky’s side and slowly withdrew his sword. He heard Bucky’s gasping breaths conclude and knew what had happened. Dorin was whistling as he strolled away and left Bucky’s frail corpse in the thin dirt lane between the booths. Barnabus cried like a baby that night. To this day, he still had nightmares about the smaller child’s twisted face. But before all that, he had to order his little brother to go advise Zierno what had happened. Mostly to send him away. Then he asked his older one to help him. They’d each taken an arm of the body that was nearly the same age as them and dragged him to the furthest reaches of the dense grove bordering the village. They had no tools to dig and were too thin and devoid of strength to dig him a proper grave. For a sevennight people had murmured about the scent of rot. Making Barnabus cringe. Eventually a man wandered into the bailey. A huge sort. The size of a hut with red hair. He’d narrowed his eyes on the boys cowering in the shadows of the empty booths. Walking over he spoke in a booming voice. “Which of ye knows the dead boy in the woods?” They’d all blinked at him in terror. Far too afraid to say anything. Even Barnabus, who was the biggest of them, was too petrified of what he’d do if they admitted they were the cause of the foul aroma. “I asked ye whelps a question!” “Easy, Mardichi.” A woman stepped from somewhere behind him. Touching the thundering monster’s forearm before lowering in front of the children. She had flowing reddish black hair. She was thin and built small, but she had lively eyes. “We want to know who knows the boy.” She said kindly. “My monstrous husband here, wants to