Page 8 of 10
Posted: Sun May 04, 2014 7:58 am
Natalie36: Thanks! They’re taking their time, but they’ll get there.
Earth2Mama: Lol! We have no idea, but we guess we’ll see.
sarammlover: Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!
keepsmiling7: Yeah, lol, couldn’t you just picture him trying to fumble his way through that talk?
begonia9508: Thanks! Michael and Maria do have a tendency to heat things up.
Roswelllostcause: Thanks for reading!
Tess shifted in her sleep, frowning when she couldn’t move the way she had intended to because something or someone was holding her back. Her mind was still too foggy to make out anything though, so she tried again, just to find herself pushing against the same barrier.
“Still.” The mumbled command came from behind her as the pressure on her body tightened.
Reluctantly, she gave in and opened her eyes slowly. The first sun was peeking into her quarters already, which meant it would be time to get up soon. Her gaze traveled down her body and she found a strong arm wrapped around her waist protectively. “Kyle,” she complained softly, but her lips formed a smile.
“It’s still early.” His grip got even tighter and he nuzzled his nose into her hair, inhaling deeply.
“My body hurts, let me move,” she grazed her fingernails along the skin of his lower arm until his muscles relaxed and she was able to roll her body on the mattress and face him.
His eyes were still closed; his short hair had grown over the last few weeks and was now forming an unruly mess on his head.
“Wake up,” she slipped her small hand under the tee shirt he was wearing to feel the strong muscles on his back.
“No,” he denied, but opened his eyes anyway. His body was pleasantly languid after a solid nights’ sleep and for once he felt completely relaxed. Well, there were parts of him that were wide awake and ready to start the day.
Tess rolled her eyes at his purely male thought.
He shot a smirk at her. “You’d rather I have random female thoughts?”
“A woman’s thoughts are never random in spite of…” She frowned slightly. “Why’d you ask me that?”
He shrugged one shoulder as he shifted fully onto his side, draping an arm loosely over her waist. “You’re the one who…” he trailed off before he could complete his sentence. “You didn’t say it out loud did you?”
She shook her head.
Kyle reached up to scratch his head. “I thought that connection thing only lasted for a short while after you connected with someone?”
“It should be that way,” she agreed and came up to rest her upper body on her arms behind her. Maybe it had just been a coincidence. They knew each other so well they were good at guessing what the other one was thinking.
“Nope,” he said, “we’re not that good.”
Her eyes widened. “Oh my God, stop reading my mind.” It was really weird to say that to HIM.
“Well, don’t think then. I’m not sure how to stop it, it’s just happening”
The question was why it was happening at all. She turned her gaze to him, her eyes studying him. “Maybe it’s lasted because we were close all night. Could be it needs some distance to fade.”
“Yeah, maybe,” he agreed, sensing her discomfort about it. She wasn’t a person who liked to share her innermost thoughts and feelings. “We could make use of it as long as it lasts,” he wiggled his eyebrows.
“How do you think we could…” she trailed off. “Oh!”
He nodded knowingly. It wasn’t like he didn’t know what she liked, but if he could read her during sex, damn, it’d take them to a whole new level!
She snorted and shoved his shoulder when his thoughts broadcast themselves to her. “That would be exactly where your mind would go.”
Kyle chuckled and switched tactics. “We could always lie here and discuss other things. The state of affairs with the others, our potential suspect pool for the traitor, hmm, maybe you’d like to talk about your feelings.”
Tess reached over and let her powers loose just enough to give him a shove that sent him onto his back. “Unless you absolutely have your heart set on spending our time alone discussing any of those things I can think of something much more interesting.”
If she only knew how interesting he’d find it to get a glimpse of what she held inside all the time, he thought, chuckling when he saw the frown on her face as she leaned over him. Her slight weight rested against his chest and he let his mind go blank as she studied his features. He could just imagine how difficult this was for her so he made a concentrated effort to focus on just her rather than her thoughts.
His hand moved over her side and lower, his fingertips teasingly ghosting over her bare thigh. He knew from experience it wouldn’t take much to distract her.
“You’re one to talk,” she whispered against his lips.
He growled and pulled her mouth into a hot kiss. Reading each other’s thoughts was interesting, but sometimes she didn’t need to know anything about what was going on inside his head. “Lose the robe, Princess.”
“Did you actually say that out loud?” she asked in amusement and straddled him.
“I did,” he lifted his upper body and reached for the fabric covering her body. “And I see you aren’t obeying.”
“I don’t obey anyone,” she told him and ran a hand through his hair, fisting it tightly, which made him groan. “Why don’t you obey and make me lose it?”
“Fine,” he muttered and gripped the soft fabric in one hand. With one strong tug it tore open and fell to the bed. His arm came around her waist and pressed her down on him tightly.
“That was one of my favorites.”
He snorted and dropped his head to pull one of her nipples into his mouth. “No, it wasn’t and you have like fifty of them.”
“I do not,” she denied and rocked against him. “But if I did, who could blame me? Considering your penchant for ripping them in half in your haste to have access to my body, having a significant supply is the only smart thing to do.”
“And you could mend them with nothing more than a wave of your hand if you wanted to.”
She rolled her eyes at him when he continued to talk. What was it with his ability to carry on a conversation during sex? It had to be a human thing. Antarian men would rather lose a testicle than converse during sex.
“Really?” Kyle grunted as his hands landed on her hips. “You’re comparing me to the six-and-a-half-foot Smurfs who walk around with blue balls all the time?” How did she know Antarian men didn’t care to talk during sex anyway?
Tess snorted quietly at his jealous thought. “Maybe we can continue this conversation after we do something about this,” she muttered against his lips as she rose up and sank down on him with a little twist of her pelvis.
“Best idea this morning,” he half groaned, half muttered and clenched his hands on the soft, warm skin at her waist. Thank God neither of them was blue, that would just be a major turn-off.
“Stop thinking about that,” she laughed and moved her lower body in a slow circle, satisfied when his mind seem to clear at that because all she could feel now was the lust coming from both of them.
He groaned at her movements, feeling his peak arriving a lot faster than normal. “Slow down,” he moaned and with a quick movement and the strength in his upper arms, he lifted her from himself and pressed her onto the bed, belly on the mattress.
“What are you doing, Captaaaaaa…” she started to complain, but trailed off when his hand moved between her and the sheets to rub against her lower mound.
Kyle hovered over her with his knees on each of her thighs and his free and on the mattress next to her head. “Normally I’d have all kinds of thoughts to distract me from your delicious body, Princess, but since that seems to be inappropriate at the moment I needed to do something else,” he whispered in her ear while two of his fingers tugged on her clit.
Tess moaned and moved against his hand. She wasn’t complaining but his touches seemed to short circuit her vocal chords so she just let her movements and the intermittent moan or sigh speak for her. She could always return the favor later.
“Not too much later,” he chuckled gruffly against her neck.
His heated breath drew a shudder from her and she sank her teeth into the pillow when she felt her orgasm approaching thanks to his skilled fingers. Her thoughts were scattered and disjointed as her body suddenly seemed to fly apart and amidst the languorous floating feeling that followed she could feel just how smug he was at having made her nearly black out.
There were more feelings mixed in but rather than try and sort through them she focused on the more insistent reminder of his aroused body. “We should definitely do something about that,” she murmured lazily as she lifted her ass to rub against him.
He growled at her teasing move when she dragged herself against his sensitive erection. He had no doubt he wasn’t gonna last long in spite of his best attempts to draw their morning together out. He lowered his head and sank his teeth into the soft skin of her shoulder, marking her and feeling himself impossibly harden more when she groaned and pushed her ass against him in an insistent demand.
“What’re you waiting for, Captain?” she asked hoarsely and kept moving under him.
“You’re so so bad, woman,” he murmured and shifted his weight onto one arm while he used his free hand to grab her hip hard. He shifted the angle of his lower body and drove in between her legs, groaning at the slight pressure on his hard length.
Tess squeezed her thighs together to increase the sensation for him, but she could feel his eagerness to shift again because it just wasn’t enough friction.
That’s about as far as I can hold back, he thought and shifted again to sink deep into her wet folds about the same time as he let go of her hip and they both sank down onto the mattress. The movement caused him to slip in as deep as possible from this position and she groaned deeply when it caused a mind blowing sensation on her G-spot. “I won’t last long,” he warned her, the movements of his hips against her pressing her body further and further into the mattress.
“You don’t have to,” she panted. “Just take what ya need.”
He growled at the outright invitation, but the need to satisfy her again was greater than the need to just take what she had offered. He reached over and opened the drawer next to the bed, feeling around blindly until his hand wrapped around the little stress ball he was looking for. He knew she had several of them in attempt to relieve her stiff fingers after several days of carrying heavy weapons in the field.
“What’re you doing?” she asked in confusion, but he didn’t give her an answer. Instead he lifted his body just a bit to ease the pressure on her and brought the hand holding the soft ball under her to position it right beneath her. When he withdrew his hand, he let his body sink down on her completely again and her soft moan told him that he had placed the item perfectly.
He rolled his hips against her ass, slow and intense, and each of his movements caused the ball under her to roll against her clit just perfectly to tease her.
Tess shifted beneath him, her body assaulted by wave after wave of pleasure from the dual sensations. He was slowly driving her mad but it was the kind of torture she would gladly indulge. But she knew he had been on edge far longer than she had since he had already brought her to her peak once and she was quickly approaching the next one.
His movements were measured, every stroke seeking to please her, but it was time for him to take his own pleasure. She focused all of her attention on their physical connection, using her abilities to draw on the sensations coursing through her body where they were joined and then expanding it to include the emotions she had more difficulty expressing.
She flexed her inner muscles, contracting around his hard length, and feeling his hips increase their rhythm. On his next stroke she did something she had never done before, something she had never trusted anyone else with, and she opened the connection between them fully.
Kyle’s eyes snapped open when a jolt unlike anything he’d ever felt before suddenly raced through his body, zapping every nerve ending and increasing his arousal to an almost unbearable level. A moment later as he rolled his hips, incapable of stopping at that moment, and a tingling sensation so erotic shot through him and he felt his eyes roll back in his head. He gritted his teeth together, refusing to give in to his body’s attempt to black out. “God, woman,” he moaned, his face nuzzled into the crook of her neck while his orgasm shook his body. He used both of his hands to reach for hers and squeezed his fingers tightly around them.
Her body was trembling under him when she came for the second time that morning, but the most intense part this time was the feeling of unlimited care and love, which she knew didn’t come from her alone. The strong man, the fearless soldier above her, held such deep emotions for her, and she would have never expected something so strong to come from a male. She felt him getting heavier over her, but instead of complaining, she enjoyed his weight on her.
“That was…” he started to speak when he had caught his breath.
“Intense,” he corrected and rolled over next to her, using their still intertwined hands to pull her with him, back against his chest. “I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like that with you before.”
Because I didn’t let you, she thought and then remembered in shock that he could probably still read what she was thinking.
“Yes, I can,” he murmured, releasing one of her hands to rub her arm when he felt her tense up. “It’s not news to me that you’re very guarded when it comes to allowing others close.”
“But you’re not just any other person are you?”
“No, I’d like to think I’m much more than that.”
“You are,” she swore quietly.
“But you still feel the need to protect yourself, even with me.” He sighed. “Maybe even more with me than anyone else.”
She wondered at his careful wording, mulling over his tone for several minutes before finally forcing herself to confront the situation. “You’re angry.”
“Not angry,” he denied. “I would like you to trust me more. What is it that you’re so scared to let me see?”
“Nothing in particular.” She sighed and turned her body in his arms until her back was against the mattress and her gaze focused on the ceiling above them. “It’s really hard to explain, Kyle. I trust you without question, but at the same time I can’t just totally give up boundaries I’ve spent a lifetime building.”
“I guess there was a start today,” he told her gently because he didn’t want to cause a fight at this moment. They’d had several conversations over time, but she had never allowed him as much access as she had a few minutes ago.
Tess turned her head to look at him and nodded. “I still hope this mind reading thing is going to fade because I really don’t want to read your thoughts and I sure as hell don’t want you to read mine.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, that wouldn’t be any fun after a while, would it?”
“No,” she answered seriously. Some things were just private no matter how close you were to someone else.
“I couldn’t agree more.”
“Stop agreeing with me.”
“I thought women liked it when men agreed with them.”
She snorted and leveled a look at him. “Have you been hanging around women I don’t know?”
“That sounds like a dangerous question.”
“Only if you respond with the wrong answer.”
He chuckled at her words. She knew well enough that any spare time he had was spent with her and there had been no other women since they had gotten together. “You know I haven’t.”
“Yeah,” she mused quietly. “Otherwise you would be dead right now.”
He rubbed a hand over his throat absentmindedly. “Well, that would suck.”
She smiled against the pillow before her gaze settled on the window. “It’s almost time to get up,” she told him regretfully.
“Yeah, we’ve got another long day ahead of us.” He stretched his arms over his head and sighed. “Think we’ll be having a meeting over breakfast?”
“You can count on that,” she groaned. Somehow days seemed to be filled with meetings and war tactics anymore.
“Oh, well, at least I’ll be getting food with this one.”
Tess rolled over and out of bed, heading for the bathroom. “Somehow food doesn’t work well with me when dealing with the Princess’ attitude.”
“Maybe she got laid and she’ll relax a little bit,” he said, following her lead and getting out of bed.
“Got laid?” came from the bathroom while the faucet was running. “By the Advisor?”
“You must’ve noticed the way she watches him all the damn time.”
“I think that’s a mutual thing.”
“No doubt he’d be nailin’ her at every opportunity if she gave him the green light.”
A knock was heard at the front entrance to her quarters and she came out of the bathroom with a robe wrapped around her body. With a silent motion of her hand, she gestured for him to go into the bathroom before she opened the door and looked at one of the servants sternly.
The Antarian man, which she knew was one of King Max’ closest guards, handed her a sealed envelope and then disappeared again.
She closed the door again and used her powers to open up the message Max had sent to her. With a sigh, she placed the small paper on the nightstand. “We need to hurry, Captain. Max wants to meet up for breakfast in the hidden meeting room close to my brother’s quarters.”
“And on that same note, his Highness needs to get laid too.” He rolled his eyes and rolled his shoulders. “Guess we’d better get a move on. We don’t want to keep them waiting.”
The Commander walked into the meeting room, his eyes searching every corner for anything that might be out of place. He stepped aside and gestured for Maria to enter ahead of him, watching her as she walked around the large table. Her fingers trailed along the backs of the chairs and he couldn’t stop the unseen shiver that skittered down his spine as he recalled her touch with perfect clarity. She paused at she reached the head of the table and he wondered at the smile that crossed her features before she settled down in the chair to the right.
He turned his head when he heard footsteps and when he saw the King approaching he moved to take his seat at the head of the table. His hand settled on the surface of the table, his fingers beginning to drum impatiently while he waited for the others to join them. His sister and the Captain came in close behind the King and before long the Advisor joined them, his eyes locked on the tablet in his hands.
“Where is your sister?” Michael growled with a look at the King.
Max shrugged, his gaze darting to the entrance when Liz came in and began placing dishes of food on the table. He frowned when she barely glanced at him before disappearing again and he jumped when a fist struck the table hard. His head jerked back to the side and he looked at the Commander. “What?”
“I asked where the Princess is this morning.”
“Michael,” Maria said quietly, her hand settling on his arm.
He exhaled through his nose and nodded. “You did send her a summons, did you not?”
“Of course I did and we both know she will be here whenever she decides the time is right.”
“I see no reason to hold up the meeting for her.”
Kyle lifted an eyebrow at the Commander. He seemed to be truly pissed this morning and he wondered if it was because he’d had a bad night or because of the fact that the night had ended already. He definitely knew the reason why he was pissed, he mused and winked at Tess when she just shook her head at him.
“Someone needs to take her in hand,” he muttered under his breath.
“Even you aren’t man enough to undertake such an objective, Commander,” Isabel said as she entered the room. She had overheard the bits of conversation between her brother and Michael but she ignored them as she took a seat next to Alex, angling her chair so that she could see his face.
“No man is insane enough,” he corrected her in a pissed off tone.
“One man’s insanity is another man’s sanity,” Alex mumbled under his breath. Oh, he supposed it took a certain amount of insanity to indulge the Princess’ whims, but on the other hand, there was something about her that kept him from walking away and washing his hands of the situation.
The door opened again and Liz carried in a few more plates, smiling at Maria briefly. “What would you all like to drink?”
“Coffee,” Michael barked dismissively. He was annoyed with this situation and ready to be free of the constraints of his ‘death’.
“Coffee sounds good,” Maria said with a smile. “But only if it’s not the Antarian blend.”
“What’s wrong with it?” Max asked with a frown.
Liz and Maria both snorted. “It’s bad. Really, really bad.”
“I must disagree with you,” he said and shook his head.
“Well, there’s something unexpected,” Isabel rolled her eyes.
Alex bumped her with his knee under the guise of turning to the side. “If you have something resembling coffee that doesn’t taste like someone pissed in it I’d be happy to have some myself, Liz,” he said with a smile.
Kyle turned and shot a look at Tess. “See, what’d I tell you? It tastes like warm camel piss.”
Liz laughed and was aware of the way the King was watching her while she did. “I think I can get all of you some good Earth-type coffee.”
“Would you like some help?” Maria asked.
The brunette girl looked at Max and when he nodded she focused back on her friend again. “Sure, if ya like.”
“Alright, let’s begin the meeting,” Michael said once the women had left the room.
Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 3:05 am
Natalie36: Thanks! Lol, isn’t that the truth?
Earth2Mama: We have a feeling Maria will be asking questions along the same lines.
Lol, well... Isabel may have yet to express her current mood.
sarammlover: Kyle and Tess really did take over the updates in both fics last weekend. Yeah, the mind reading thing would be nerve wracking after a while. Coffee isn’t something that should be messed with.
kismet: Most likely their closeness throughout the night allowed the mental connection to stay open between them.
Tea and coffee... two things that should just never be messed with!
You may not have long to wait.
Roswelllostcause: Thanks! They’ll work on their plan of action today.
keepsmiling7: LOL, that’s quite possible.
LovelyPOM83: Thanks! Kyle and Tess do have a good relationship and it’s getting stronger.
begonia9508: Thanks for reading!
Eva: Lol, the chapter number was purely coincidence!
Michael and Maria may have a tough road ahead of them, but they’re getting stronger with every passing day and that will help them as they move forward.
Tess is a little unsettled by Kyle’s access to her thoughts, but it could prove to be a very good thing.
Lol, yeah, Michael is definitely in a mood.
Ms_BuffyAnneSummers: Thanks! Lol, well, four parts gave you a pretty decent chunk of reading to catch up on. Tess may learn that allowing Kyle such access isn’t a threat to her sense of self. They’ll be working on their plan to trap the traitor today.
Alien_Friend: Alex is not going to be toyed with and he won’t let Isabel just get away with her behavior.
The connection has been a very valuable asset for our Candy couple. It’s providing a certain protection while nudging them closer together.
Lol, that water’s something else, isn’t it?
Yeah, that didn’t take long to become a non-issue! That would indeed be interesting.
LOL, yeah, that’s probably true!
That could be sooner than you expect.
The Commander can definitely switch moods at the drop of a hat.
It’ll take some adjusting to, especially for Tess, because she’s so guarded, but in the end it’ll be a good thing.
Well... we may just have to do something about that then.
The King nodded and shifted his attention to his sister. “Have you been able to contact Ava yet?”
“No, I haven’t attempted to establish contact again.”
“We need to know about the connection she and Zan shared.”
“You will contact her today,” Max decided.
She had to control every nerve in her body to keep herself from snapping at him. “I’ll try to get through to her later in the morning. She probably needs to attend meetings at this time of the day as well. I’ll have a better chance to get her alone later.”
Michael leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. “Take the Advisor with you.”
“Why?” she snapped.
Max held a hand up, stopping them before the meeting could get out of control. “Michael’s suggestion is not without merit.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Alex has knowledge that could be very useful.”
“And what would that be?” she asked stubbornly.
Kyle shook his head when the Commander’s jaw clenched. “The Advisor has more knowledge about the true connection than anyone else so it’s possible that he could provide you with some insightful questions.”
“It’ll be much more difficult to hide two people from everyone but Ava.” she protested, not wanting to be that close to the man she’d had sex with in a weak moment.
Michael looked at his sister when the other Princess continued to protest. “Would it be too difficult?”
“I wouldn’t know since it’s not the same power I use,” Tess glanced at Isabel.
That was not the answer he had been expecting. But it made sense, he supposed as he turned his attention back to Isabel. “Difficult, but not impossible.”
“It’s not like she’s hiding at all,” Max said sternly. “She isn’t truly in that location, it’s just a projection of herself and so would it be for my Advisor. I don’t see where one person more would make a difference since you would only show yourself when she’s alone anyway.”
Isabel narrowed her eyes at him. “Easy for you to say since you’re not the one putting yourself in potential danger.”
“You can’t be hurt this way, the only one in real danger would be Ava the moment someone discovered her talking to your projection.” Okay, in the end it would put all of them in danger as well, but Isabel needed to see reason. Alex would know what things to say to Ava to get the right answer.
“It would cut down on the time needed to maintain contact if only the necessary questions were asked,” Alex mused as he lifted his gaze from the tablet to look at her.
She clenched her hands into fists unconsciously. “I’m perfectly capable of asking questions myself.”
“I don’t doubt that,” he conceded, “and I don’t believe that’s in question. Using my knowledge could significantly lower the time you’d need to maintain contact.”
“Can’t you just fuckin’ give in this one time, Iz? I’m sick of your shit,” the Commander barked and as soon as the words had left his mouth he wondered where they had come from. This surely hadn’t sounded like him, more like the way the Captain talked all the time.
Kyle couldn’t help the snicker that escaped and it earned him a look from the Princess that he was certain should’ve left him in flames.
“This is no longer up for discussion,” Max decided with a stern look at his sister. “You will take the Advisor with you.”
Alex smiled at the Princess. “So glad to be wanted,” he said, his gray eyes laughing as he lowered his head in her direction.
“Next point on our agenda is the trap we need to work out in order to unmask the spy,” the King went on before his sister could start a new phase of rants. “Commander, I suppose you have some ideas?”
“Indeed,” he said with a slight inclination of his head. He was ridiculously pleased with the King’s handling of Isabel’s tantrum. “I believe we should implement a plan that would draw a strike against one of our camps.”
Max nodded. “Go on. What do you have in mind?”
“I’ve given this considerable thought and I believe the encampment in the East, at the base of the Santeda Mountains would be the perfect position for this ploy.”
“We abandoned that camp some time ago,” Kyle said.
“Which is why it would be perfect to set a trap,” Michael said with a nod.
“And what is your plan?” Tess leaned her arms on the table, interested.
“Rath knows we’ve abandoned that camp. It was established to protect the miners at that location and when those mines were cleared there was no longer need for a camp there. The mines are useless, the miners have been moved to new locations, and without the need for protection the camp was relocated. We maintain one of our largest weapons caches near the Maseri Range but it was recently compromised.” He looked around at the others, glancing up with a nod when Maria placed a mug of coffee next to him. “We’ve since contained that security breach, but Khivar and Rath don’t know that. There hasn’t been any enemy activity near the Santeda Mountains so I would suggest we create mock shipments and move them to the old camp, set it up as the new location of our weapons cache.”
Max nodded with a look of concentration. “It won’t be easy to keep up the pretense. No one but us can know about this being a mock shipment. Every soldier involved in this has to believe they’re really transporting and storing weapons.”
“We’ll need to establish several units at the camp and my recommendation is to put the camp under the command of a soldier we know we can trust. We’ll need to determine his loyalty to the throne of course, and I think the plan would work best if that soldier is aware of the situation.”
“Do you have someone in mind?” Kyle asked.
“Carson, up in the North camp. He was recently promoted to the rank of Captain. He’s proven himself capable of overseeing his own camp but we haven’t had a position available.”
“He’s a good man,” the other man agreed. “Definitely someone to be trusted.”
Tess considered her brother’s recommendation. “Captain Carson’s unit handled itself well in their last battle with Khivar’s troops. He’s shown himself to be a capable leader and a fierce warrior.”
“He’s a human?” Max guessed.
“He came to us from Earth,” Alex spoke up. “When the resistance lost control of DC and the government began to collapse he was one of the few soldiers who survived. What was left of the resistance in that area eventually joined up with other units, but a small handful of them petitioned to join the Antarian forces here. He was among those accepted.”
“So how do you plan to unmask the spy with that plan?” Isabel asked the most important question.
“The traitor will obtain the plans from the war room,” Michael answered. “He or she will then make contact with someone within Khivar’s ranks, most likely Miren. He would be the obvious choice to get the information to their contact. We can track his movements and conversations with the device that was implanted. Once he’s established contact they’ll likely mobilize a strike against the camp with the belief that they’ll be wiping out the units stationed there and walking away with a large weapons cache.”
“But we’ll be ready for them,” Kyle added. “Captain Carson will have his men prepared and when the enemy attacks they’ll be in for a surprise.”
“Exactly. This plan will unveil the traitor and Miren will unknowingly deliver more of Khivar’s men into our hands.” His hands clenched on the surface of the table. “And if the plan goes well Rath will be leading them.”
“We should think about putting some video controls in the war room,” Alex commented on the plan.
Max nodded. “Do you have the necessary equipment to handle it yourself?”
“This way there’s a chance we’ll get real proof about the traitor,” Kyle agreed. “We don’t know who gets the first hand information yet and we don’t know if the one here in the castle is going directly to Miren or using a third party.”
“Let’s hope the traitor makes contact with Miren directly,” Tess said as she went over the most viable options where the traitor was concerned.
“Put that device up after breakfast,” Max instructed Alex. “At the zenith of the second sun we will meet in the war room to implement our mock plan.”
“Captain Carson needs to be contacted and brought in,” Kyle mumbled around a mouthful of pancakes. “Once his loyalty’s been verified we’ll need to make him aware of the plan where his participation’s concerned. As the troops are still on stand-down until the suns set on the third day I would be the obvious choice to get him and bring him back.”
“You organize it,” Michael agreed.
“He’s not to know about the situation with the Commander,” Max informed the Captain.
“Understood. He’ll only be briefed about his mission.”
Maria took her seat next to Michael again when everything was served and Liz stood at the table. “Anything else you need?”
Max glanced up and shook his head before gesturing to an empty seat. “No. Please, join us.”
Across from them Isabel rolled her eyes and earned another unsubtle bump from the Advisor’s knee. What was wrong with him today?
“No, that’s okay, I already ate,” Liz declined. She knew he was pretty much the only one who thought it was okay for her to join them. Well, him and Maria of course.
“Like it or not, you’ve become involved in this situation,” Tess said after several moments. “You may as well join us.”
The brunette pressed her lips together tightly and took a seat quietly before she could say anything rude.
“We need to discuss safety protocols as well,” the Commander stated. “We are certain the people in this room are loyal to the throne without question, but until we’ve unearthed the traitors in our midst we must ensure the safety of those gathered here. Max, Isabel and Maria all have sentries assigned to them who have sworn blood oaths, but the rest of you remain unprotected.”
“I don’t need protection and neither does the Captain. We are able to protect ourselves, we are soldiers,” Tess said.
“Anyone can be gotten to,” Alex mused as he met her defiant gaze. “We don’t know yet who the traitor is or if we have more than one in our ranks that we don’t know about. There are countless ways to kill a person and many of them don’t involve direct contact.”
“Maybe we should all move into one part the castle,” Max mused.
“No,” Isabel shook her head. “I will not be moved.”
Alex slid his finger across the screen of his tablet and spoke without looking up. “If nothing else it would probably be wise to pair up, human and hybrid. It would provide a certain amount of safety. The hybrids have powers and obviously the humans don’t, plus, in my particular situation, there would be the added bonus of Isabel coming with her own personal bodyguard.” He moved to the next page and continued calmly, “The Commander and Maria as well as the Corporal and the Captain are a given, which would just leave Max and Liz. As with myself and Isabel, Max has powers and he also comes with a personal bodyguard who has sworn a blood oath.”
Liz tensed. Being paired up with the King wouldn’t do much good to her desperate attempt to put some distance between them for obvious reasons. “Wouldn’t that be kinda suspicious to everyone else around?”
“No one knows that the Commander and Maria or the Corporal and Captain are sharing quarters. It would just be an added safety measure.” Alex shrugged. “It’s an option.”
It’s an option to allow you to push yourself at me, Isabel thought, annoyed.
“Whatever we do it has to be covert. If we make it obvious then it’ll raise suspicions and we could lose the opportunity to catch the traitor.”
“This will be implemented,” Max agreed without daring to look at Liz.
Michael glanced over at the Advisor. “Good luck,” he muttered. Isabel was gonna make the poor sap’s life a living hell. “Alright, back to business. How long will it take to retrieve the Captain from the North camp?”
“That depends on the transport we use,” Kyle answered.
“Letting it be known that the Captain’s been retrieved for a mission would get the attention of the traitor, and technically we wouldn’t be breaking the rules of war by setting up a new camp during the three days following the death of a Commander as the setting suns tonight will mark the third day.”
“Then we should wait until nightfall to retrieve him,” Max said as he mulled over everything he was hearing. “It would allow us to use a faster method of transport and I would imagine we would need to move quickly to establish the camp. They’ll need to be prepared for the attack.”
Michael nodded in agreement. “That should work.”
“Then it sounds like we have a plan,” Tess said.
Maria watched everyone around them closely. Hopefully this would be a start in the right direction and not into something worse. No one at this table should be hurt in this war, but she knew that was just wishful thinking.
“Well, now that you’ve all dictated my life for me I have things to do,” Isabel bit out and stood.
“Alex will accompany you,” her brother nodded, knowing it would not amuse her.
“I do not need to be accompanied by this... this... pest!”
“Not what you said last night,” Alex muttered under his breath, but it was just loud enough to carry to her ears alone.
“You do,” Max told her. “To contact Ava.”
“I will contact Ava when the time is right.”
“Let’s go,” Michael stood, fed up with the Princess’ attitude. If he had to hear one more word from her, he was going to blow something up.
Liz remained seated as the others slowly filed out of the room behind the Commander, who wasted no time making tracks. His annoyance with the Princess was obvious and he made no move to hide his feelings. Of course, she thought as she watched the Princess, neither did she. She waited until she was left alone with Max before she spoke.
“You know this doesn’t change anything.”
“What is it you speak of?”
She rolled her eyes heavenward and shook her head. “Max, it’s not right for us to be together. You’re a King and I’m a servant. You’re destined for something so much greater and you’re not in a position to choose me over all of that.”
“It’s just for protection,” he insisted, not ready to get into this again.
She sighed. The Commander wasn’t the only one who was annoyed right now. She wondered if Max was trying to convince her or himself because she didn’t believe for a second that it was JUST for protection.
“I have a second bedroom in my quarters, you may use it.”
Yes, because sleeping in his quarters with a wall separating them would magically make things all better. “Fine.”
“You are not happy with this,” he stated.
“Are you surprised?”
“Not anymore,” he grumbled and emptied his coffee.
“What do you want from me, Max?” she asked, her tone frustrated.
“I am just saying that you went from hot to ice cold, Liz, and I don’t understand what changed between the time we met and now because things weren’t looking any better at the start.”
“I changed, Max! Yes, I’m attracted to you, that hasn’t changed one damn bit, but the fact of the matter is I realized that pursuing you put you in danger. I wasn’t thinking about any of that when I started flirting with you. I saw you and,” she shook her head, “I wanted to know what was behind that mask you show the world because you seemed to be one of the loneliest people I’ve ever in my life seen. Were you cold-hearted? Was there something more behind the face you show the world? And I figured what the hell? You were willing to play and I could draw you out, make you smile, and that meant so much to me. You said I went from hot to cold, but I don’t know how else to put distance between us. I never intended to care about you, don’t you understand that?”
He frowned at her. “So you just wanted to play around with me at first?”
“I didn’t know you at first! You were intriguing and challenging, but when things started to change and I realized that somewhere along the way I started to care for you...” she held her hands up, “that changed everything.”
“And now you’re pissed.”
He didn’t look at her when he used his napkin and then got out of his chair. “I can assign one of my guards to you. You may remain in your current quarters.”
Liz leaned forward and dropped her head to thump against the table as she sighed in frustration. He didn’t understand. He was willing to take the risk and she wasn’t.
“I don’t want you to be uncomfortable. I think it’s the best solution.” The only solution he could think about although he didn’t want to.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled miserably. This wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted more than anything to say the hell with it and take what he was offering. Was it right to deny what they both wanted when he was willing to take the risk? She had never been a coward before. She squeezed her eyes shut as Jack’s words from a day that seemed so long ago came back to her.
“Every time you get up and you push through another day you’re part of the fight. You throw in the towel and it’s all over, there’s no point goin’ on, and I know you.” He shook his head. “You’re not a quitter.”
And she wasn’t. Or at least, she hadn’t been before. When had that changed? When had she become this person who wasn’t willing to fight for what she wanted?
“Lunch can be served at the first sun’s zenith,” he told her stupidly because he didn’t know what else to say to her.
“Max?” She lifted her head to look at him when he paused in the doorway. “How far are you willing to go for me?”
He didn’t say anything at first because he had no clue what she meant this time. “To protect you?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes. We’re not just talking about your parents disapproving of the girl you brought home. You’re under scrutiny from your parents and your people, and if worst came to worst it could cost you your life.”
He leaned against the wall next to the door and looked at the surface of the table while his mind wrapped around the situation. “I am not living a life worth living right now, Liz. All I am doing is putting an effort into the lives of others. I know my country needs me and I have accepted this destiny, but is it wrong for me to want some happiness for myself?”
“And if getting involved with me costs you your life? Is that a price you’re willing to pay?”
“Yes,” he said without a second thought.
“You’re that certain,” she whispered when he didn’t even hesitate.
“Sometimes I don’t know what I am really fighting for, Liz,” he admitted and shook his head, his gaze slowly settling on hers. “Am I fighting for a family who just created me from a gene pool to be a powerful leader? For a planet whose dwellers aren’t even my race?” He chuckled sarcastically. “I want to fight for something good not only for the people of this planet.”
“Max,” she shook her head as she stood and moved to stand in front of him, “you’re fighting for the freedom of your people, for their ability to live without being in constant fear.”
“And then what?” he snapped.
She frowned. “And then maybe it won’t be a matter of living for the fight.”
“I don’t want to have a lonely life, Liz,” he said, determined.
“I don’t want that either.”
His eyes searched hers. “And what does that mean?”
She reached up and placed a tentative hand on his chest, her fingers toying with the pendant emblazoned with the Antarian crest. “If you’re that sure you’re willing to take the risk...”
“I never doubted it,” he told her, still holding back. “What about you?”
“I don’t want anything to happen to you because of me. I know I can’t control that, no one can really, but I can’t help worrying about it.”
“You worry because of me, but you don’t worry about yourself?” he mumbled and brought his hand up to rest over hers on his chest.
Liz shook her head falteringly. “What do I have to lose? I don’t have a family, I don’t have a home.”
“You could have both,” he stated quietly and looked at her intensely. “With me.” Her eyes were full of doubts, but she didn’t back off. “No one knows what will happen, Liz. Maybe the war will end all our lives or maybe we will win. Maybe someone will try to kill one of us for whom or what we are, or maybe they will accept the differences. We could have a long happy life or it could end in a short time, but I’d rather spend any remaining time I have with someone I truly care about.”
She smiled. “Because life could be too short to not enjoy it at every chance we get?”
His lips lifted as well. “Very well said, Liz Parker.”
“We still have to keep things between us a secret.”
“Max, anyone you tell could…”
He pressed a finger to her lips again, effectively silencing her. “The people who were just in this room can be trusted and it wouldn’t be right to hide amongst them. Women like to talk.” He shrugged after a moment. “I do not know what they talk about but they do like to talk and you and Maria have grown close.”
“If you’re gonna keep shutting me up there are better ways to do it,” she mumbled against his finger.
His dark gaze dropped to her lips and he stared at them, mesmerized. “Yes, yes, I believe you are correct. We should go to my quarters and spend some time determining the most effective way of silencing you.”
“That could be one thing,” she agreed, but there was a little hint of doubt in her words.
“You don’t want to?” he asked, silently pleading that he hadn’t misread her and they were starting this all over again.
“It’s not that,” she assured him with both of her hands lightly resting on his chest. “But do we have the time to do this? I know being a King means a full schedule and while you’ve talked me into some sort of commitment, I won’t let you waste your time with me when there are other things that need your attention.”
“We’re still in the mourning phase,” he told her. “There is little to be done other than organize the mock weapons transfer to the camp where the trap will be set. I trust my Advisor as well as the Commander and the Captain much more with military tactics than to try and tell them anything about what to do with it.” He took a step closer to bring their bodies into contact. “For the remainder of today I can just be Max. Tomorrow will be another story.”
Posted: Sun May 18, 2014 6:33 am
Natalie36: They’re getting there.
Earth2Mama: Looks like they agree with you.
sarammlover: Lol, we’ll learn more about the plan soon.
keepsmiling7: There are risks but it looks like they’re both willing to take them.
Let’s hope he gets to remain just Max for the evening.
Roswelllostcause: It looks like Liz and Max are finally getting somewhere.
begonia9508: Thanks! Liz is right to have concerns, but she’s also right to trust Max to know what he’s willing to risk for them to be together.
Lol, yeah, she is! Alex definitely knows how to handle Isabel and he’s very direct in his approach.
They’re working on finding that traitor.
LovelyPOM83: Lol, well, we’ll catch up with them again soon, promise!
As Ava rode into the camp her gaze roved over the soldiers who were taking the opportunity to rest afforded them due to the three days’ mourning period that would soon reach its end. They needed much more than a small handful of days to recover from the brutal schedule they kept in an effort to keep their activities hidden from Rath’s knowledge.
She dismounted and released the reins when one of her soldiers came forward to take her horse, leading it away to be cared for while she attended to other matters. She slapped the spirited animal’s rump as it moved past her, causing dust to rise from its hide. The horse switched his tail, flicking her arm with the rough ends.
“Commander,” a tall man called, drawing her attention.
She smiled tightly as she approached him, seeing the weariness in his broad shoulders. “Tyran,” she greeted with a nod.
“We intercepted communications from the outpost Rath established to maintain watch on the castle.”
She motioned to the tent belonging to him and they began to walk toward it. “What have you learned?”
“Khivar still refuses to attack while the flag of mourning flies, but Rath is growing increasingly impatient with the rules of war.” He reached out to hold the flap back, allowing her to enter his humble quarters ahead of him. “There is talk of an attack on a nearby village. He has been gathering troops and if he follows through with his plan they will overtake the village the moment the flag is lowered.”
More innocents, she fumed silently.
“Even if we could warn the castle they would never reach the village in time.” He sighed in frustration. “And if we stop the attack ourselves we show our hand.”
“Not necessarily,” Ava said after a moment. “Who is the weakest link at the outpost?”
He mentally sorted through the soldiers stationed at the outpost. “Damas,” he decided finally. “He could be bought for the right price.”
She nodded. “We have to be sure he won’t run to Rath with it though.”
Tyran agreed with a grunt. “I will take care of this myself.”
“Yes, you do that,” she glanced around the semi-dark tent before her eyes landed on him again. “Give me the details about the happenings in my absence.”
“Everything has been unremarkable, Commander. Other than the attack plans Rath has initiated we haven’t been able to detect any suspicious movements, nor have we gotten any orders or news from Khivar himself.” He paused, weighing his next words before speaking them aloud in a way she would understand but no one around them could interpret. “I trust you’ve been successful on your singular mission?”
Ava held his gaze directly and nodded. Tyran was only one of two men she trusted enough to fill them in on the details of her plans. She didn’t like it, but she needed help to cover her actions now and then, especially when she was going on a mission without her unit. “I was,” she agreed, but didn’t add more. It wasn’t safe to talk in a tent where anyone outside could listen.
“Is it – “
She held up a hand when she felt a tingling in her head – the feeling got more intense within seconds and she knew without a doubt that the Princess would be trying to contact her in a short time. Isabel probably didn’t know it, but Ava had been aware of her presence the night Rath had approached her, his intent to harm her clear. “We will speak later,” she told Tyran shortly and stepped out of the tent, looking around for a covert place where her actions wouldn’t draw any attention.
The tingling sensation intensified and as soon as she had found a secure location she allowed it to build. Within moments the air before her began to shimmer, but when two people came into view rather than just one, she prepared to defend herself. Her hand automatically gripped the hilt of her sword even as her mental powers began to build. She frowned when she identified her visitors and she straightened slightly, her fingers still wrapped around the hilt of the sword just in case.
“Why have you brought him?”
Isabel glanced dismissively at Alex. “The King and Commander both insisted he accompany me.”
“This increases the risk,” she growled in irritation. No, there was no physical risk to the Princess or the Advisor, but if they were seen it could certainly compromise her. She knew how easily someone with the ability to project their image could slip and allow their form to actually become corporeal and she wasn’t thrilled with the possibility of being labeled a traitor. Yes, the plan was to defect, but on her terms, no one else’s.
“Which I tried to explain,” Isabel snarled. “They want information about Zan and how you were connected to him. The Advisor, unfortunately, is the individual most knowledgeable about the connections and therefore, was chosen to accompany me.”
Ava swallowed with difficulty as countless emotions assaulted her at the mention of her dead lover. How did they know about the connection she and Zan had shared? She looked away for a moment, seeing something in their eyes that made her feel as if they knew so much more than she wanted them to know. She was aware of the Princess’ appearance the night of Rath’s attempted assault and most likely what the other woman had witnessed had been shared among the Royal Four as well as the Advisor. The anger and humiliation that reared their ugly heads at that particular memory didn’t let up as she looked at them once again and she drew on those emotions in an effort to push down those related to her loss of Zan.
“It was my understanding we would meet to exchange information related to troop movement, Khivar, Rath and Vilondra, and the book.” She shook her head. “Nothing was mentioned of my relationship with Zan being part of this deal.”
“We appreciate your loss, Ava, and know how heavily it must weigh on you,” Alex said, carefully choosing his words. “We wouldn’t ask if we didn’t feel it was important. Your bond with him is felt to have gone much deeper than what most couples ever experience. We’re speculating that what you shared was a true connection.”
“What we shared?” she spit out. “You speak as if his death severed our connection.” She shook her head sharply. “If you know of the true connection, you know that to be false.”
Isabel frowned. “So you can still... feel him?”
“Did you and Zan both have the defective gene?” Alex asked. He knew they just had a few minutes to talk.
Ava frowned at him. “You think genetics is responsible for the connection?”
“Well, we have reason to believe that only people with a certain gene can form a true connection.”
She shook her head. “You speak of the defective gene,” she guessed.
“No, I do not carry the gene. Neither does Vilondra. The defective gene did not survive in us when we were engineered.” Her gaze moved between them. “Only Zan and Rath possessed the gene.”
“So what does this mean for the connection you shared with Zan?” Isabel asked, confused. Was their theory all wrong again?
“What does it mean?” She shook her head, uncertain what they wanted from her. “It means there was no possibility of creating a powerful offspring using us so we were discarded. King Zander and his all-knowing scientists were foolish and arrogant enough to believe what they needed was a female that carried the defective gene. I don’t know what allows a true connection to form, but I do know that in order for the defective gene to do what they want it to do it must be present in both of the parents. Why do you think they chose a simple human for Rath to impregnate? Zan would not have taken that path, not for Khivar, not to win this war, not for any reason. He was an honorable man and as you are well aware, Rath does not share his beliefs or the respect he always gave the rules of war.”
Alex made a few mental notes about the things Ava had told them. “So what you’re saying is that a true connection is possible with only one half carrying the gene, but a powerful offspring requires both to have it?”
“It is necessary in order to create the powerful offspring.” She shrugged one shoulder. “I don’t know for certain what it is required for a true connection to form. Zan believed it was something greater than genetics that allowed such a connection but he was never able to prove it.”
“That’s interesting,” Alex muttered.
“What do you know about a man called Miren?” Isabel asked, changing topics quickly.
“Miren?” She quickly ran the name through her memory. “I know of only one man by that name. He is one of your soldiers and he recently lost his unit to Rath’s men under what I would call suspicious circumstances.”
“You don’t know about any sort of cooperation between him and your Commander?”
“No, but it would not surprise me. He was allowed to live after foolishly leading his men into an ambush.” She shook her head. “I find it difficult to believe that a man who has led his soldiers into so many battles would suddenly make such a mistake and not fight to the death to avenge them.”
“Agreed,” Isabel nodded.
“I know our time is short,” Ava said after a moment. “You should know that Rath intends to attack one of the villages when the flag of mourning is lowered. He will have his men in place to begin the attack at that moment.” She shook her head. “There will be no time to send your troops in if you wait for the flag to be lowered. If you wait the villagers will be dead before help arrives. I know the rules of war calls for arms to be laid down until the suns set on the third day, but if you abide by the rules, they will all be dead.”
Isabel’s heartbeat increased at the information. “Which village?”
“We’ve intercepted communications that indicate Mar’kesh is the target. One of my men is working to establish a man at the outpost as a viable traitor. By the time Tyran is finished there will be no doubt that Damas provided details of the attack to Antar’s Army in exchange for a great reward.”
“Have you learned anything else?” Isabel asked when she felt herself weakening. “Any plans or hints that Rath knows about our charade?”
“No, there is no indication that he is aware of our actions. I am to meet with Khivar in two days’ time and if I can rid him of Vilondra’s presence I will attempt to search his mind and learn of the book’s location.”
“I will come to you in two days then.”
“Wait until the second sun has set. I will be in my quarters by that time and we will be safe to meet.”
“Okay,” Isabel agreed and looked at Alex to see if he had anything else to say.
Alex studied Ava, recognizing the depth of anguish in her eyes. “I’m very sorry for your loss.”
She took a step back and nodded, seeing a corresponding pain in him. “And I for yours.” She rubbed the heel of her hand over her heart, the action unconscious. “You should go now.”
He nodded and took a step closer to Isabel as if it would make it easier for her to find her way back that way.
Ava watched them, not missing the undisguised heat that flared to life in the Princess’ eyes at his closeness or the obvious annoyance that he drew that response from her. She shook her head at them and waited for their images to fade into nothing.
Alex blinked several times, his brain feeling like mush. “Ungh, I don’t think I like this dream walking thing.”
“You think YOU don’t like it?” She snorted and massaged her temples for a moment.
“That and many other things,” he glared at her.
Isabel lifted one eyebrow from where she was sitting on her bed next to him, back resting against the headboard. “Are you referring to something in particular?”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “I won’t let you use me like that again, Isabel. And don’t dare give me that clueless face, because you know damn well what I’m talking about.”
“So you didn’t like it?”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” he said, annoyed. “But I do not approve of the way you went about it.”
She shrugged dismissively and moved to get up, her gaze dropping to his hand when it shot out to grip her upper arm tightly. “Unhand me,” she bit out.
“I don’t recall you bothering to ask what I wanted last night while you were out playing around in my head.”
“I don’t recall you protesting,” she shot back, throwing his own words in his face.
“You’re used to people falling all over themselves to do your bidding, but that won’t be me, Isabel. I expect to be treated with respect.”
Her eyes narrowed and she released the tight rein she kept on her powers, using it to push him away. “I will not be manhandled by you or anyone else.” She stood there looking down her nose at him, her eyes flashing with anger. “You act as if you object to – “
His hand slammed down on the bedside table. “My objections are not the issue!” he bellowed. “You didn’t bother to ask me what I wanted.”
“First, it was perfectly clear that you wanted it to happen. And second, it happened on the dreamplane, there was no harm done!”
“I don’t care if it happened on Fantasy Island, damn it! The dreamplane is much more realistic than any dream and don’t play the fool and act as if you don’t know that!”
She turned her back to him. “You could easily have said no.”
“You didn’t ask!”
“You’re quite fond of reminding me just how well you’ve mastered certain mental abilities, so if you had an objection you should’ve spoken up.”
“You treat people like your own personal playthings. And like any child, when you tire of them you toss them aside and move on to the next thing that catches your eye.” He snorted derisively. “Would it have mattered if I had told you to leave? If I had said no? Or would you have simply used your powers to manipulate me like you do everyone else?”
“There was no need to manipulate you,” she told him firmly. “I am not in need of going after men who don’t want me.”
“No, you’re right,” he laughed cruelly. “Maybe next time you can just visit some of those guys who like to play your shallow bimbos.”
Isabel frowned at his words, wondering if she understood his Earth slang right. “Very well, you weren’t that great anyway.”
Alex fisted his hands at his sides painfully while his face reddened in anger. He was sure steam would’ve been pouring out of his ears if it was possible. “You’re behaving like a child who hasn’t gotten the ice cream she wanted,” he gritted out. “I thought a woman in your position would be much more mature than you are, Princess!”
With a quick move of her hand, she let her powers go and only realized what she had down when his body was thrown hard against the headboard of the bed.
“Really?” he said a little breathlessly. “That’s your answer to this? Violence?”
“I am not required to answer to you or to anyone else.”
Her imperious tone ignited his simmering temper and he vaulted to his feet, feeling a surge of satisfaction when the move took her by surprise and she took a hurried step back. “I’m sick of your little mind games. I’m a grown man and I don’t have any more time for your bullshit. You think you’re better than everyone else, that you have the right to treat people as badly as you want to because you’re miserable in your own life, but let me tell you something, Princess.” He shook his head. “It ends here. We could be good together but I want a woman, not a spoiled brat.”
Isabel gestured to the door. “You are free to go.” She turned and crossed the room to stand at the windows.
“Oh, but I’m not, am I?” He crossed his arms over his chest as he stared at her rigid form. “As I recall we’re basically stuck together until further notice.”
“I don’t intend to obey my brother’s directive,” she said stubbornly. “You can get your own personal guard.”
“Well, then,” he walked to the door, waiting her to follow, but she just stared at him.
“I insist we report our talk to Ava immediately and tell the King that I’m not staying with you for the sake of my sanity.”
“YOUR sanity?” she laughed, the sound exaggerated, and followed him to the door. The sooner she got rid of him the better. There were much better and above all – much more bearable – men outside, just waiting for her attention. “He’s probably hiding out in his quarters.” Mourning over the little human servant, she added in her thoughts.
“Lead the way,” Alex grumbled, fed up with her attitude and the conversation.
Michael turned to look at Maria the moment the heavy doors closed behind them. They hadn’t had to walk as far as they normally did after one of the secretive meetings now that he was ‘dead’, but in spite of the relatively short journey and the ease of movement since the meeting had been on his side of the castle, he was still in a mood. He felt something in him begin to relax now that they were alone again but he didn’t know how to explain it.
“Would you like to talk about it?”
She rolled her eyes at him as she kicked her shoes off and padded through the rooms. “Your mood all through the meeting.”
“I have precious little time to spend catering to Isabel’s tantrums.”
“Um-hmm, and that’s your explanation for your attitude?”
He frowned and followed her voice, finally locating her in the kitchen. “I make no excuses for my behavior.”
She chuckled and shook her head. “I said nothing about an excuse, which is good because there is no excuse for your complete lack of manners.”
“She was late, again! She acted as if life revolves around her, again! Instead of simply listening and agreeing to do her part, she acted irrationally, again! What else do you require as explanation for my behavior?”
She looked away for a moment before pinning him with her intent gaze. “I don’t know. The truth, maybe?” Was she reading more into his mood than what there really was? She didn’t know. All she knew was that he had been fine before the meeting. He had been in a very good mood but something had disrupted it and she was feeling a little edgy about it, worrying that he somehow regretted what had happened between them. Or that perhaps in the harsh light of day he was having second thoughts about their future together.
“Are you saying I am lying?” He frowned at her and crossed his arms over his chest.
“There’s a difference between lying and not saying everything, Michael,” she said softly.
“You are speaking in riddles, woman.”
“Am I?” She snorted. “The Princess’ attitude is one thing, but it’s hardly possible that her behavior alone was responsible for sending your mood into a nosedive.”
He leaned against the counter and watched her while she walked around the kitchen to prepare herself some kind of drink. He had been annoyed with Isabel and her never ending drama, but admittedly he had felt his mood slipping before. What exactly had it been? He went over the meeting again, but couldn’t pinpoint a single thing that would have caused a negative feeling. Well, other than having to keep his hands to himself in front of the others while Maria was with him.
“Does it have something to do with what happened before?” she asked finally when the silence was starting to make her crazy. Her eyes searched his for any sign of regret, but all she found was surprise in that moment. “Do you think we went too far?”
“Went too far?” he echoed.
“Earlier,” she hedged and quickly realized that she was going to have to be specific. “I guess I’m just wondering if you have any regrets about us becoming lovers.”
He frowned at her question while his brain was busy trying to connect the dots in an effort to understand how she had come to that conclusion. After a few minutes he had to concede defeat because she was a woman and it was a known fact that the female of any species tended to be illogical and given the right circumstances, also quite irrational.
Maria stared at him when he remained silent. “Michael?” His silence was beginning to annoy her. “Just be honest with me.”
“Your concern, if I interpret it correctly, is that I am displeased with the path our relationship has taken.” Their relationship, he mused. How strange was it to use that word in reference to his self?
“Well,” she squirmed under his direct gaze, “yes.”
Michael moved closer to her, reaching out to cage her between his arms as he braced his hands on the counter on either side of her. His dark eyes flared with heat as they swept over her, his memory pulling up every moment of their time together that morning.
“You have to admit, it’s something you might not be pleased about in the light of day.” She dropped her gaze for a moment before pulling up the courage to face him. “I’m not…”
“If you say you’re not Antarian or not royalty one more time I will not be pleased,” he growled. “Should my stance on this subject still be unclear I can take you right here on the counter.”
She shivered at his clear words and brought her eyes back to him. “I was about to say, I don’t regret what we’ve done.”
Something in him settled at her words. “Very well then.” He straightened slightly and his eyes dropped from hers to settle on her lips.
“So that still doesn’t explain your mood,” she tried again and rested a hand on his chest.
“I grow increasingly frustrated with the situation. I am not a man who waits when there is a job to be done. I have a responsibility to see to the safety of the King and the people. Do not for a moment believe that anyone is safe simply because the flag of mourning flies.” He exhaled loudly and backed away from her, his agitation expressing itself as he began to pace. “Rath waits for a moment like this. It allows him to plan his next move and believe me, Maria, he’s already determined his next target.”
“You think so?” She frowned.
“I am certain of it. With the recent attacks we’ve sustained against villages where no military presence exists it only supports my belief that his thirst for blood is increasing. He grows bolder with each attack. There is no possible way to monitor all of the outlying villages and although it is in clear violation of the rules of war, he continues his assaults.”
“It would fit him,” she agreed and worried her bottom lip while she thought about all the cruel possibilities the man could plan.
“He will attack again, and soon.” He paused at the center of the room, his gaze locked on a point beyond the windows. “Khivar is quickly losing any semblance of control that he has over him. Ava believes Rath and Vilondra are waiting for the right moment to assassinate Khivar and assume the throne.” He sighed and reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I believe she is correct.”
“Well, it could be to our advantage if they have a war among their own ranks.”
He shook his head. “If that happened it would work to our advantage, but when Rath assumes full command of Khivar’s throne there will be no resistance. Zan may have abided by the rules of war and he may well have intended to defect as Ava has stated, but the men loyal to him are far less than those loyal to Rath.”
“You’re about to see through the traitor’s game and you have Ava. Those are great advantages in this war and I know you well enough to know that you’ll make something outta this, Michael.”
He turned his head to look at her and her unquestioning faith in his abilities caused his lips to lift at the corners. “You believe that.”
“I do and I won’t believe anything else until I’m proven wrong.”
“Then I suppose I should see to it that you never are.”
Posted: Sun May 25, 2014 3:50 am
Natalie36: Lol, at this point no one can deal with her.
Earth2Mama: Alex may do just that. We’ll see.
sarammlover: Alex is a very genuine and caring man. And he has no problem calling Isabel out on her behavior.
begonia9508: Lol, he doesn’t have a problem telling her exactly what he thinks of her behavior.
Eva: Alex was very direct and he’s not interested in playing Isabel’s games.
keepsmiling7: Yes, she is, lol. And Alex isn’t standing for it.
Roswelllostcause: Thanks! Yes, she does and we’ll have to wait and see if she listens up.
A/N: We are taking an early summer break this year and are going to be back June, 15th.
“Just do your best as usual,” Maria agreed and climbed onto the counter with her knees to have a look at a few items on the upper shelf.
His gaze followed her movements and he shook his head as he came up behind her. “What is it you seek?”
“I’m just curious,” she stated and looked around, smiling when she detected a package of what looked like human coffee. Thanks to whatever cook had forgotten it here, she thought, amused.
What an unusual moment for human curiosity to assert itself, he mused but quickly shrugged it off. “Will this investigation be an ongoing thing?”
“Investigation?” She looked at him. “No. But curiosity? Yes!”
“I suppose it will take quite some time to satisfy your curiosity as the castle is quite large.”
She placed the coffee on the counter and then turned slowly to face him, still kneeling on the surface. “That a bad thing?”
“Not at all.” He gestured widely. “What I have is yours to explore at your leisure.”
“You trust me that much?” she asked, half playfully and half serious.
She rested her hands on his shoulders and leaned her forehead against his. “That’s good.”
“Yes, it is,” he agreed as he brought his own hands up to settle at her small waist. “What is it that makes humans so curious?”
“If I knew,” she chuckled.
“Amela is very curious about everything around her. I supposed that was a purely childish behavior, but I have noticed that humans are very curious creatures, regardless of age.”
“That’s true, most of them anyway. And well, children are like a hundred times worse than adults.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “I have a feeling that you share that quality.”
“I’m not that bad,” she denied.
“No? I think you are,” he teased.
“Well, I admit I’m curious about a lot of things.”
He smiled slightly. “I would have you no different.”
“Not a chance anyway considering the connection,” she teased.
“How fortuitous.” His right hand slipped under her shirt to settle on the bare skin of her back. “I can think of a great many things you might explore.”
“Yeah? What would that be for example?”
She was supposed to make an intuitive leap, he thought with some exasperation. That was quickly wiped away when he met her eyes and saw the gleam there. She was teasing him. Well, turnabout was fair play. “The dungeon,” he said, biting back a smile.
Her expression changed from shocked to wicked in a heartbeat. “That where ya want me to be, Commander?”
“I suppose I can imagine many backdrops but somehow that one escapes me,” he said dryly.
She grinned and leaned forward to give him a signal to lift her from the counter. “I don’t think I need to see that either.”
“We’ll keep your investigations to areas much better suited to your tastes.” His hands flexed as they settled at the backs of her thighs and he lifted her with ease.
“I can think of a few,” she whispered against his neck when their bodies were in full contact.
“Perhaps something with a more southern view?” he asked.
Maria giggled against his skin. “That’s such a guy thing to say.”
That gave him pause, but he got her meaning after a moment. “I was referring to my quarters, but I must admit, the southern exposure you were thinking of definitely has pleasurable opportunities as well.”
“We could combine the two,” she suggested and bit the soft skin of his neck a few times.
He growled at the feeling of her small teeth on his flesh and nodded. “Yes, I find that quite acceptable.”
“Then take me to your quarters,” she breathed into his ear, shocked by her own words and the reaction of her body so quickly after that morning.
He quickly checked her eyes for any hesitation, and seeing none he followed her instructions and carried her to their destination.
Maria moved in his arms, unable to wait until they reached their goal and he sealed his lips with hers.
He was just crossing the threshold of his quarters when a pounding knock suddenly began on the door. “It can wait,” he insisted.
“I’m not arguing,” she agreed.
“Good.” He kicked the door shut behind him and carried her to the bed, wasting no time placing her upon it and following her down.
Her little hand grabbed his shirt in a tight grip and pulled him down to meet her lips in a heated kiss. She groaned into his mouth slightly at the feeling of his body against hers.
He succeeded in blocking out everything else with ease, all of his concentration on her and the rush of excitement coursing through his veins. He had one mission at the moment and his mouth plundered hers as he sought to divest her of her clothing. Before he could see that task to its completion the sound of a throat clearing suddenly cleared the sexual fog from his mind and he was on his feet in a heartbeat, his body strategically placed between the intruder and Maria, the sword he kept at the bedside in his right hand. He lowered the weapon slightly when he recognized Isabel but after a moment he cut the blade through her projected image and it immediately disappeared. “What is the meaning of this?!” he demanded loudly.
“We need to talk,” she called from behind the door. “Now! So put a hold on your animalistic behavior, will you?”
His hand clenched around the hilt of the sword and he swore gutturally beneath his breath. “I will speak with her about the intrusion,” he said as he turned to look at Maria. “She will NEVER do that again.”
“I would appreciate that,” she agreed.
“Would you prefer to wait here while I speak with her?”
“I’ll come out after using the bathroom.”
He nodded and took her hand, pulling her to her feet and up against his body. “Soon,” he promised, the word mumbled against her lips.
“Soon,” she agreed with a smile.
Michael turned and his spine stiffened as he inhaled a deep breath before exiting his bedroom and crossing his quarters in no time. His hand gripped the doorknob and he ripped the door open, his dark eyes burning into the two people standing there. He grabbed Isabel by her upper arm, hauling her inside and jerking her around to face him. “I will not tolerate such disrespect from anyone including you.”
“You were ignoring us,” she rolled her eyes.
“I was otherwise occupied,” he snarled. “You will never intrude into my personal space again, do you understand?”
“Then you had better take your work a little more seriously,” she hissed back. “Just because you are ‘dead’ doesn’t mean you have the time to – “ She stopped herself before she said something that would sure as hell get thrown her across the room.
“Do not presume that you understand anything about my duties or how seriously I take them. There are other ways to get my attention than inserting yourself into situations you have no business viewing. I will not warn you again.”
Alex rubbed his head tiredly. All of these fights were starting to drain his nerves and he understood the Commander’s view very well. “We need to talk to you about a few things we learned from Ava.”
That had the Commander’s attention. “You made contact.” His eyes locked on the Advisor. “What have you learned?”
“It looks like Rath is planning an attack on one of our villages as soon as the mourning flag is lowered.”
“Did she know which one?”
“Yes, we know where.”
“And it’s too far to get military support there in time unless we defy the rules of war,” he guessed.
He rubbed his jaw as he began to pace, his thoughts turning over at breakneck speed. They couldn’t allow the slaughter of an entire defenseless village. It would be unconscionable. “When does he plan to attack?”
“At the second sun’s descent on the last day of mourning.”
“And a counterattack could increase his suspicions where Ava is concerned.”
“She said she has a plan to make it look like one of their men revealed the information for a price,” Isabel interrupted.
Michael’s gaze shot to her for a moment before shifting dismissively and returning his attention to the Advisor. “Then she has already set things into motion. Notify the Captain that I wish to see him immediately.” The suns would be setting on the third day before long and time was of the essence.
“We’ve already sent someone for him. As well as the King and the Princess.”
Great, his plans for the day had just flown out the window. “Very well.” He shook his head and gestured to the room behind him. “You might as well sit.”
Maria opened the door and stepped out of the bedroom, looking from one to the other with a frown. “What’s going on?”
“What I spoke of earlier? Rath’s position on attacking unprotected villages? We’ve received word that he plans to attack the moment the flag of mourning is lowered.”
One of her hands came up to cover her mouth. “Oh, no.”
He reached out to touch her arm. “We won’t allow the attack to be successful.”
“Okay,” she nodded. “He’s such a bastard.”
“It’s only a matter of time before he’s eliminated, Maria.”
“Yeah, I know.” At least she hoped she did.
Max stood at the large window of his private quarters, gazing outside at nothing particular while his focus was on the sounds coming from his bathroom. He heard the faucet open and close, the echo from the soles of her shoes hitting the tiles.
“You know it’s totally ridiculous to have a huge bathroom like that for one man alone,” Liz said with some amusement as she stepped back outside to join him in his bedroom.
“It is not to your liking?” He frowned.
“That’s not what I said,” she chuckled and stood next to him. “It’s just a waste of space unless you plan to let half of the people living in the castle use it.”
“I am not,” he stated and glanced past her at the closed door. “It is large, but the drying equipment needed space to be installed.”
Another very nice addition in the bathroom, she thought with a smile. Did you really need something like that when you had the power to dry off with a wave of your hand though?
He looked at her with a hint of impatience. So far they had spent their time alone talking about things going on in the castle, but that wasn’t the reason they had come to his quarters.
“You look like you want to say something, King Max,” Liz teased and leaned against the wall next to him.
Instead of addressing her comment with an answer, he turned to stand right in front of her, crowding her against the wall so she wouldn’t be able to find an escape this time. “We adjourned to my quarters for a purpose, did we not?”
She bit back a smile when he fell back on strict formality. She had noticed anytime he seemed to be at a loss for words or when he didn’t know how to react to certain things he retreated behind the reserved mask and in spite of his demand she saw right through it. “We did, yes.”
“And yet since we arrived we have discussed the most mundane things occurring within the castle walls.”
“Um-hmm.” She bit her lips and nodded, pretending to think. “And you have something else in mind to discuss?” She could see the impatience and frustration building in his eyes.
His darkened eyes dropped to her lips and he shook his head in annoyance. “I have no wish to converse at this moment.” His gaze dropped to his chest when she rested her hand there and his breathing hitched in his throat when she let her fingernails trail down over the polished gold buttons of his jacket to toy with the waistband of his pants.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the clothes you wear,” she chuckled, knowing how ridiculous he would have looked in that kind of outfit on Earth, but it was a different story here on Antar. Everything about him screamed his role among the royalty.
He caught her hand with his when it kept tugging at the material without really touching. “Then I am willing to remove them.”
Her eyes widened when he placed her hand directly over the hard length he had hidden beneath the heavy layers of clothes. “Impressive, King Max,” she whispered and squeezed her hand around him lightly.
With a groan, he moved against her hand impatiently. Her touch was bringing all kinds of emotions to the surface and for a moment he was overwhelmed by them. His head was spinning and his blood was rushing loudly through his ears, but he wasn’t willing to retreat to stop those feelings. “You are making me feel all manner of things, Liz Parker.”
“That’s the plan,” she chuckled and leaned forward to nip at a spot below his chin. The skin was warm and scratchy from the lack of a shave, so she repeated the move and then nudged her nose against him.
“I would have prepared better had I known the outcome of this day,” he said apologetically and was about to swipe his hand over his face in an attempt to get rid of the stubble, but she caught it and shook her head.
His right eyebrow lifted at the request. “No?”
“Hmm-mm, I like it.” And to prove it she rubbed her cheek against his, enjoying the rasp of the stubble against her skin.
He didn’t know why the simple brush of skin against skin was affecting him so strongly but it only made him want more and with a growl he swooped down and took her mouth in a hard, demanding kiss. His unexpected move drew the desired reaction from her and she responded in kind. She was a passionate woman and she didn’t sit back and wait passively and that further incited the feelings and emotions running riot inside of him.
His boldness was an incredible turn-on. She had known despite his inexperience there was a man of action hidden behind that composed surface and it was empowering to know she had unleashed that side of him.
Max reacted on pure instinct when he pushed her further against the wall, using one hand to steady himself against it while the other was moving up into her hair to tug on it strongly, but not enough to hurt her.
His reaction was exactly what she wanted, what she needed. She allowed her own hands to roam, to explore the contours of as much of his upper body as she could reach. In the future she really needed to see about getting him out of his cumbersome royal clothing and into something easier to manage because it continued to defy her. She was elated when she suddenly felt his skin beneath her fingers and realized she was making progress and it made it so easy to ignore everything around them.
Her little hands on him was all he needed to allow the fireworks in his head explode. Images of her as a child forced themselves on him, but he didn’t back off. He could feel her embarrassment about a dress she wore. It had some sort of cakes printed on it and the only reason she had worn it was because her mother had made it for her.
Liz pulled back, her breathing ragged, and she stared at him. Her head felt like it was spinning as she tried to make sense of the images bouncing around in her head. The scenes had flashed so quickly it was hard to pin them down, to determine what they were exactly, but some of them left her with a sense of great sadness and others elicited anger, while still others seemed to be filled with happiness. “What was that?” she panted.
“Flashes,” he said simply, not willing to just stop what they had started.
“Wait... Max...” She shook her head, torn between wanting to continue and struggling to understand what was happening.
He huffed impatiently, but forced his eyes towards her and his body to stay a few inches away.
“I don’t understand this.” She looked up at him, trying to determine what he thought of sharing something so intimate. But all she could see was the unrestrained arousal on his face. She smiled at the impatience he wasn’t able to hide from her and she reached up to run her thumb over the stubble on his jaw. “But I suppose it can wait.”
“They won’t harm you,” he mumbled before his lips tasted hers again.
She trusted his words and if anyone would know how the flashes could affect her, it would be him. She wondered absentmindedly if they would occur again and hoped not as they were distracting and she had other things she’d rather focus on at the moment.
“They are nothing you can control at a time when you have so little control,” he explained between kisses since he could feel her slight distraction.
“Easy for you to say,” she muttered. But the moment his hand moved, sliding under her top to rest against her skin the thoughts fled, making room for the sensations that rushed through her from the contact.
“Take it off,” he muttered.
“You first,” she countered but she was already moving to do as he had requested.
Max caught her arms when he heard a sound in front of the heavy doors of his quarters.
“What?” She frowned.
He didn’t say anything while he looked at her, but his focus was on his ears. When there wasn’t another sound though, he relaxed his grip on her.
“I though-” His words were interrupted when there was a heavy knock on the door.
“So much for just being Max today,” she murmured quietly.
“Maybe it’s nothing that will take an excess amount of time,” he said and straightened, swiping his hand over his robe to bring it back into order.
She nodded and hoped he was right, but somehow any time he was called upon whatever the issue was, it was time consuming.
He nodded towards the door. “Wait here.”
She stood there for a moment, waiting until he’d been out of the room for nearly a full minute before she crept over to the closed door to try and hear what they were calling on him for.
Max opened the heavy door and looked at the sentry there without saying anything.
“Princess Isabel is calling for a meeting, King Max.”
He sighed. “When?”
“She is already waiting for you with Princess Tess and our new Commander.”
His hand clenched on the door, his knuckles turning white. “Very well. Inform them that I will arrive shortly.”
The sentry nodded and took a step back, waiting until the King had closed the door before he went on with his duties.
Liz jumped back away from the door when it was suddenly pushed inward and she flushed when Max froze, staring at her in surprise. “Duty calls?” she guessed.
He nodded. “My sister wants a meeting. I suppose she was able to contact Ava.”
“Oh. Well, that’s an important matter.”
“Something that can’t wait,” he agreed regretfully.
“I had a feeling.” She smiled and reached out to straighten his collar. “You’ll probably be a while.”
“You can join the meeting too.”
“Really? You don’t think your sister will have an issue with that?”
“I am sure she will, but you are a part of the inner circle and as far as I am concerned every one of the people I trust are allowed to join our meetings right now.”
“Then I accept your offer.” She was eager to learn what his sister had discovered because it did affect her to some degree.
He smiled. “Very well then. Let us go and talk to them.”
She took his hand but stopped short. “Wait, do I look alright? No, you wouldn’t know. I should go make sure I look presentable before we go.”
“Okay,” he said carefully and let go of her hand.
“I’ll just be a minute,” she assured him and left him standing there with a baffled look on his face.
Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:02 am
Natalie36: Lol, no one’s ever accused Isabel of having good timing.
Earth2Mama: No doubt, lol!
sarammlover: They’re making some progress. Lol, yeah, probably not the smartest move Isabel’s ever made. Thanks!
Eva: Doesn’t she? It was pretty obvious Michael thought so.
keepsmiling7: Informing the others of Ava’s information was important, but... well, Isabel probably could’ve notified them in a better manner.
Lol, she hasn’t given up yet.
Thanks, vacation was great!
Lol, isn’t that the truth?
Thanks, the break was just what we needed!
Roswelllostcause: Well, lol, it probably could be, but we’re not sure how.
Captain Jonathan Ryan Carson stood at attention when Corporal Aktar approached him, his eyes straight forward as he waited for his superior officer to speak. He sighed inwardly when the man’s eyes scanned over him, his white eyebrows knitted together in a frown when he noticed the soldier’s bare feet.
“Explain your appearance.”
“Polishing my boots, Sir.”
The Antarian Corporal was prepared to berate the man when Commander Valenti cleared his throat from behind him. He inclined his head in acknowledgment and after a moment of silence he turned to look at the visiting officer. “If you would prefer to choose another of my men – “
“Relax, Corporal,” Kyle said with a shake of his head in response to the man’s attempt at an apology for the soldier’s appearance, which he obviously felt was unacceptable. “He’s off duty.”
“Perhaps, but your arrival was announced giving him ample time to make himself presentable.”
He nodded, understanding that the officer took it as a personal insult that one of the soldiers under his command wasn’t prepared for a visit from their military’s highest Commander. While he respected the man’s prerogative to run his camp the way he saw fit, he disagreed with berating a soldier who was off duty.
“Captain Carson, you’ve been reassigned,” Corporal Aktar announced without preamble. “Collect your things and prepare for immediate departure.”
Carson snapped off a sharp salute, his back ramrod straight as the Corporal was dismissed. He waited while the Commander turned to watch the man’s retreating back, his posture completely still.
“At ease, Captain,” Kyle said finally.
Carson relaxed just slightly. “What’s my mission Capt-” he bit his tongue, “Commander?”
“Your recent achievements and your promotion have drawn certain attention, Captain. We’ve been waiting for the appropriate command position to come available and a unique opportunity has presented itself.”
The other man’s head snapped to attention. “Command position?”
“Yes, Captain.” He bit back a smirk. “Can I assume you’re interested?”
“You’ll have your work cut out for you but we believe you’re up to the task.”
“I’m willing to give as much effort as possible,” the man agreed. Ever since his transfer to Antar, he had been looking for a place to fully slip into since his past life was just a blur of everything and nothing.
“We believe you will.” He sat down on a trunk, motioning for the soldier to have a seat. When the man settled stiffly on the cot, his posture rigid, he clasped his hands together loosely between his knees and hoped Carson would relax. “You’ll be assuming command of a unit at the base of the Santeda Mountains. It’s a remote location and conditions will be less than ideal as the base of operations has yet to be established.”
Carson frowned. “Wasn’t the camp at the Santeda Mountains abandoned?”
“It was abandoned, yes. We’re about to re-establish that base, but this time as a military encampment.”
The place didn’t have anything that struck him as a military advantage, but he nodded anyway. He had long awaited an opportunity to get promoted and if this was the only chance he got, then he was sure as hell going to take it.
“You’ll need to get your things together and come with me. There’s a meeting to attend with the King and then we’ll get to work on choosing the men in your unit.”
“With the King?” Carson almost choked.
“Yeah.” He could tell the soldier hadn’t been expecting that announcement. “There are certain things related to this assignment that are out of the realm of what would normally be expected so there is involvement at the highest ranks.”
“I will be packed and ready in a few minutes,” Carson stood and saluted again.
Kyle nodded and stood, saluting the other man. “I’ll wait for you outside, Captain.”
“Commander,” Aktar was back as soon as the dialog was finished. “If you are looking for others for your assignment, I can provide a few Antarian men who can be trusted.”
“Provide a list and I’ll go over it with Captain Carson.”
The Antarian man locked his jaw before he could express his dislike of humans overtaking the highest ranks on Antar. He nodded sharply and pushed an already written list into the hand of the Commander.
“Once we’ve decided on the men who will fill the unit’s positions you’ll be informed. While the Captain’s preparing to depart you and I can speak about sending one of your units to Mar’kesh to provide protection to the villagers in the wake of the recent attack.”
“We were informed about the attack,” Aktar nodded in concern. “Do you have information about the battle yet?”
“Our troops were victorious but we did suffer quite a few losses. There is rebuilding to be done of course, but we’re concerned there may be a second assault.”
“One of my units returned shortly before the death or our Commander. The men have had time to collect their strength with good food and a comfortable camp. They are eager to return to their work. I will send them on their way immediately.”
Kyle nodded. “Do that. After you’ve deployed the unit come back and we’ll speak.”
The Corporal saluted and went to take the new orders to one of his units, nodding sharply at Captain Carson when he passed him at his tent.
“Do you ever get the feeling we’re not wanted here, Commander?” Carson asked quietly.
“Ever?” Kyle snorted.
“Well...” he shrugged with a sheepish grin. “Back on Earth the conflict was different, but the people we were fighting with and for, they were generally glad we were there.”
“Not everyone here is against humans. They’re just pissed off that the highest ranks have been infiltrated by us.”
The soldier thought about that for a minute and then nodded. “You’re right, Sir. I guess if the roles were reversed, I might not have been so thrilled about their presence on Earth.”
“You already done packing, Captain? You won’t return soon, if ever.”
“Yes, sir. I travel light,” he said with a subdued grin.
“Go to the waiting transport then. I’ll meet you there after giving out some orders to the troops settled here.”
Captain Carson saluted and shouldered his pack as he made his way to the transport. He stopped to speak to a few of his fellow soldiers and when he arrived at his destination he turned to look around at the camp that had been one more temporary home in a long line since his arrival on Antar.
Kyle took his time talking to Aktar and a few of the other men. Luckily, not all Antarians in this camp thought so little of humans. No, he had found a few men he had fought with before he had been promoted to the second in command and he was happy to hear that a lot of them were still alive, having survived the horrible battles they had fought.
“Anything else we can do to help?” Aktar asked as he accompanied the human to his transport, still wondering what mission Carson would be sent on.
“No, you stay on alert in case support is needed at one of the weapons depots. If I need your support at a different location I know how to contact you.”
“Very well then,” the Antarian stopped at the entrance of the transport and held the door open for the Commander.
“Until next time, Aktar,” Kyle said and went inside without looking back.
Carson lifted his gaze from his pack on the ground when the Commander joined him in the vehicle and as soon as the other man took his seat opposite of him, he felt the engine starting and the floor under his feet started to vibrate. “I never was a big fan of those driving methods.”
“They do take some getting used to, don’t they?” He relaxed and reached up to rub the back of his neck. Now that they were alone he could speak freely. “Captain Carson, you’re gonna be tasked with the job of drawing enemy fire at the post you’re about to assume command of.”
The man lifted his eyebrow. “Could that task be called a death trap?”
“It’s not a suicide mission, but you can expect to draw heavy fire.”
Carson nodded. “Tell me more, Commander. What will attract heavy fire?”
“We’re operating under the assumption that we have at least one traitor in our ranks. We believe the best way to flush that person out is to set a trap. We’re creating a mock weapons transport that you’ll be in charge of escorting and setting up a protection detail for at your destination.”
“Do you have any suspicion of who the traitor could be?”
“Before I answer that you have to be fully cleared.” He motioned to one of the inner doors when it opened with a quiet hiss and admitted the Corporal.
Carson’s eyes widened when the Princess stepped out and he stood straight with a salute. He had heard a lot about her but had never met her in person. Should he call her Princess or Corporal, he wondered.
“Corporal on the field, Captain,” Kyle said with a chuckle, familiar with the questions he could clearly read on the other man’s face.
“At ease, Captain,” Tess said as she stepped into the room, satisfied with the necessary respect the other man seemed to have.
“Thank you, ma’am, uh, Corporal.” He mentally kicked himself for tripping all over his words. He had served with women and under them at times on Earth, but while women were in the Antarian military there weren’t a high number of them enlisted.
Tess ignored the slip and stepped in front of him. “Before you are filled in on the details of your assignment, we have to make sure you are loyal to King Max and his Kingdom.”
“How exactly do I prove that?” He frowned. “I’ve given everything I have to the fight to free Antar of the threat Khivar and his forces present but beyond that I have no hard proof.”
“She has certain mental abilities,” Kyle leaned back in his seat while he explained. “You’ll need to let her in your head.” With his index finger he tapped his temple.
“Oh, is that all?” He laughed and shook his head at the thought of her roaming around in his head. “You could get lost, there’s a lotta empty space up there.”
“Empty space?” She frowned.
“Sorry,” he said with a shrug. “Bad joke.” He rubbed his hands over his knees nervously. “So, what do I need to do?”
“Just relax and let me do this,” she said and prepared herself for the upcoming task. “You will try to block me, it’s a natural thing, but the more you try to relax and let it happen, the less stressful it will be for both of us.”
He nodded and straightened his spine. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, holding it for a moment and slowly releasing it. He cleared his mind and focused on blank space in an effort to make the process as easy as possible. “I’m ready.”
Tess placed her hand on his head and locked eyes with him, nodding slightly as she pushed forward to open the connection. She found it surprisingly easy considering the minds of soldiers were often locked and complicated and she went through his memories with ease, not finding anything but loyalty and the cruel fights he had fought for her Kingdom.
After several minutes, she retreated again and blinked a few times before taking a step back. “You weren’t joking about empty space,” she said thoughtfully. “Why do you have hardly any memories of your life on Earth?”
The Captain eased back in his chair and reached up to rub his right temple, hoping to ward off the headache that was threatening. “The military’s all I know, Corporal. I woke up in a field hospital after a battle and I was told I’d suffered severe head trauma when an explosion occurred during a raid on an enemy camp. I knew my name and my rank, I knew what my mission was, but as for the rest,” he shook his head, “well, if it wasn’t related to the military it was gone. I looked myself up when I was able to access records but apparently I didn’t have much of a life. No family, the few friends I had were dead, and that was pretty much the extent of it.”
“There are ways of getting lost memories back,” Tess said. “They are still inside your head, something is just holding them back.”
“Yeah, well, couldn’t have been worth remembering if I forgot it that easily, right?”
“I doubt it has anything do to with importance,” she told him and sat next to Kyle. “But sometimes it can be an advantage to not remember the past,” she agreed. “Especially when it’s filled with war, pain and loss.”
“I couldn’t agree more.” He was silent for a moment before he looked at the officers across from him. “What now?”
Kyle leaned forward and rested his lower arms on his thighs. “The traitor we’ve detected is Miren. Do you know him?”
“Miren, Miren, Miren... I do recall an officer named Miren but I don’t know him well. We fought in a battle against Khivar’s forces when they attempted to raid Dravin Valley and we barely survived. We held the Valley, but our losses were great.”
“Chances are good he brought the enemy into the valley,” Kyle sighed. “For now it’s just a suspicion and we need you to prove we’re right.”
“Are you assigning him to my unit?”
“Yes, we are,” Tess agreed. “And it’s important for the mission to make everyone in your unit believe that the weapons transport is real.”
“What will we be transporting?”
“Different things, nothing of a great meaning, but we’ll just make sure the weight is similar,” the current Commander explained.
“Will we have time to establish the base camp before the anticipated attack?”
“We can’t say for sure since we don’t know who’s working with Miren.”
“I’m going on the assumption that you plan to let news of the transport leak in some way so that Miren comes into possession of the information.”
“There is obviously a leak without our help,” Tess said bitterly. “We will watch Miren as well as the implementation of our plan closely to detect the people who are working against us.”
Kyle smiled when she misunderstood the Captain’s comment. “I think he meant we have some sort of control over leaking the information so that it gets to Miren.”
She glared at him and turned to Carson again. “Your task will be to make this trap look real.”
“I’m up to the task, Corporal.”
“We know you’re the right man for this,” Kyle squeezed then man’s shoulder. “If this mission is successful we’ll make good progress in the art of war on Antar. Too many people have died already.”
“When is the transport scheduled to begin its journey to the Santeda Mountains?”
“As soon as we have your unit together and everything else for the shipment is prepared.”
“You suggested I would be involved in the selection process for the soldiers in my unit?”
“Of course.” Kyle nodded. “Let’s be honest. This mission – if it turns out the way we’d like it to turn out – will be attacked, heavily attacked most likely, so you get the men you trust.”
“I appreciate that, Sir.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “What are the limitations on my choices?”
“Tell me who you want and I’ll tell you the limits.”
Carson considered that for a few moments. “Do I have a little time to put the list together?”
“Little yes,” Tess agreed. “We can’t waste any time getting this trap set.”
“Of course, Corporal.” He shifted to pull a tattered notebook from his pocket and started to quickly assemble a list of capable soldiers.
“We’ll do what we can to accommodate you with the men you wish, but be aware that we’re still at war, we might need some of them in different locations. Especially with the recent attack on the village.” Kyle ran a hand through his short hair.
“Understood, Commander. I do have men in mind, but I won’t include anyone on the front lines or in sensitive positions.”
Tess looked at her lover with slight concern. She knew they had to move forward, but so much depended on this one trap. If things went to hell, then they had nothing again.
Kyle caught the look and he nodded. It’ll be fine, he thought with confidence. It’s gonna work.
Liz swiped the large knife around the cake for the last time to smooth the frosting and then ran two fingers over the blade to taste it. Hmm, it wasn’t as good as she could’ve made it on Earth, but it was the best it could get with Antarian ingredients, she decided.
A slow deep growl came out of a dark corner form the Commander’s kitchen and she spun around only to see the King stepping out of the shadows. “You shouldn’t lick your fingers like that when you’re being watched.”
“I didn’t know I was being watched,” she countered in amusement and turned towards the counter again to place the knife in the sink carefully. Without looking, she knew he was approaching her and she could almost feel his touch on her hips before his hands made contact. “An’ you, King Max, shouldn’t approach a woman like that when we’re about to have a little birthday party.” He was dressed casually in jeans and a tee shirt just like the Commander had requested for the evening and it was both weird and so good to see his body in casual wear. There were definitely some parts visible that totally disappeared in the heavy King’s robe.
He breathed into her ear and then bent down to bite into the soft skin of her shoulder. “What did I do wrong while approaching you?”
“Nothing,” she groaned softly and pushed back from the counter to free herself from his grip. “But this isn’t the right time. I still need to finish the cake before Maria gets back from checking on Amela.”
“Where’s the Commander?” Max asked, leaning against the counter and crossing his arms over his chest before he was tempted to reach out for her again.
“He said he needed to talk to the Captain, but he would be back soon. That was half an hour ago, so I think he’ll be joining us soon.” Liz pointed a look at him. “Another reason why we should keep this under control right now.”
He huffed impatiently. “How long should one of these events last?”
She chuckled. “That’s really hard to say. But maybe they’ll want some alone time later.”
An eyebrow lifted. “Yes,” he murmured, his eyes following her every move, “yes, you are right. The Commander has little tolerance for gatherings. It is likely that he will wish for this to end soon.”
That gave him pause, but after studying her features for a few moments he decided she was teasing him. “I have reason to be.”
“You do, but sometimes other things need your attention, King.”
“I do not understand why this needs my attention. What is the reason for this celebration?”
“We humans celebrate the day we were born. Just accept it like that because I doubt there’s a higher reason.”
He shook his head. “This is an accepted practice on Earth?”
“Accepted?” She snorted and it turned into a full laugh. “It’s the USUAL practice.”
“If it is expected why has no one brought this to my attention? Our human population is increasing and if there are certain expectations I should be advised of such things.” He frowned, his thoughts shifting to his time on Earth. Had he ever celebrated such an occasion on Earth? He must have. If it was an expected custom then certainly he would have been exposed to the tradition.
“Well, it’s really hard to keep track of it here since your days are longer than Earth days. You don’t really have an idea when your birthday is this way.”
“Oh. And we do not use a calendar the way that Earth does. Yes, I suppose that would make it difficult to keep an accurate count.” His hands curled around the edge of the counter behind him and he looked at her curiously. “And when is your birthday?”
“December 20th by Earth dates.”
“December is in the...” he searched for the word, “winter, is that correct? The time when your weather becomes extremely cold?”
“Yes, that’s right. Not that you know anything about seasons here,” she grinned. “Here it’s just hot or damn hot.”
“True, but it suits Antarian blood.” He laughed at her skeptical look. “Full-blooded Antarians would likely freeze solid during one of your winters.”
“No doubt,” she agreed with a snort.
Max moved to the counter where the cake had been placed and he waited until she turned away to do something before he reached out and swiped a finger through the fluffy looking surface to taste it.
“You did not just do that!” Liz said in a warning tone when she caught him licking his fingertip.
He froze at her words but within a second he had straightened up and he met her gaze directly. “I am the King.”
She snorted. “That card you can play on someone else, Mister.”
“It is true,” he said imperiously, and just to prove his point he turned the cake and took another swipe of the frosting.
“Max,” she hissed and smacked his hand away. “If you do that one more time, I’m gonna punish you.”
“You? Punish the King?” He locked his hands behind his back as he circled around her, waiting for the perfect moment to reach out and repeat his offense. “And what will you do to me?”
“Oh it’s not what I will do to you. It’s what I WON’T do to you.”
“Uh-huh, I think you’ll figure it out.”
He frowned at this turn of events. “Civil disobedience,” he murmured before licking the icing from his finger. “There is punishment for that as well.”
“And what would that be?”
His lips turned up in a smirk. “I think you will figure it out.”
Liz rolled her eyes and took the cake from the counter to place it out of his reach so she could smooth the frosting. “Why don’t you get the drinks from the storage room? I placed them in the cooling box.”
“Very well, but do not think that I will forget your punishment,” he said in response to her attempt to distract him.
He wouldn’t go through with it if it meant he wasn’t getting any, she thought in amusement, but nodded anyway.
Posted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 8:13 am
Natalie36: Thanks! Lol, Max and frosting... wonder what Liz could do with that combination?
Earth2Mama: We’ll be seeing more of them like this in coming parts.
kismet: Lol, we’re not sure Liz will be that accomodating. They’re finally getting somewhere.
Yep, the hybrids were put through intensive sessions that were designed to make them suppress their memories of their time on Earth and their human sides.
Roswelllostcause: Thanks, got more coming up today.
sarammlover: It does sound naughty indeed.
We’ll have to wait and see which side Aktar is loyal to.
It’s great to be back, thanks!
LovelyPOM83: They’re really doing much better, aren’t they?
Eva: The plan has been set in motion.
keepsmiling7: It’s possible that they could come back in time.
Heavy footsteps echoed through the hall leading to the kitchen and Michael entered the room just as Max disappeared into the storage room. He moved to stand at the counter, his head tipped to one side as he studied the cake Liz had created. After a moment he nodded in approval. “You have done well,” he rumbled.
“Thanks, it’s the best I could create from the ingredients you have here.”
He frowned. “You did not have the items you needed?”
“No, it’s just that there are different things on Earth than there are here. I had everything you could offer here.”
“I see.” He moved back, putting space between them. Maria had made similar comments when preparing meals and he wondered if there was anything he could do to make the food better for her. “If there are certain things you require to make the food more palatable you may requisition them. I may not be able to procure everything you request, but there is the possibility that some items could be retrieved from Earth.”
“Most things from Earth are contaminated at this stage. It probably won’t do any good to import them. It’s okay, it tastes really good. She’ll like it.”
“As you wish. There is a significant amount of contamination, but there are still small areas that have remained stable, so should you change your mind as females are prone to doing, submit the requisition order to the Advisor and I will do what I can.” He cleared his throat and nodded at the cake. “You were able to create the flavor I requested?”
“Yes, it’s chocolate on the outside and strawberry inside.”
“It is a strange combination,” he mused absently. She had spoken of her mother making such a concoction and she remembered it with fondness. He only wished he could mark this special occasion with positive news of her mother.
Liz chuckled. “You think chocolate and strawberry is strange. Boy, and that from someone who eats everything with hot sauce.”
“How is that strange?”
“How is it NOT strange?” she countered.
He shook his head. “Where is the King?”
“In the storage room to get the drinks.”
“He’s the King.”
“So he doesn’t have two healthy hands?”
“Well, of course, he wouldn’t be King otherwise. There are people here to fetch things for him.” His lips curled up in amusement at the thought of Max, King of Antar, fetching drinks at his human’s command. “But I suppose if he wishes to obey your order, that’s completely up to him.”
Liz grinned at the thought and found the Commander returning the same expression.
Max returned from the storage room and carried the drinks over to the counter at the center of the kitchen and he paused when he caught the exchange between Liz and the Commander. “What is it you find so amusing?”
“Nothin’,” she said quickly and focused her attention back on the food that was still in the oven.
He quirked an eyebrow. “Commander?”
“Nothing important,” Michael said with a straight face and went to the door. “Is the table in the dining room set?”
“Per your specifications,” Liz said, saluting with the utensil she held.
“Good. She should be here-” his sentence was interrupted when the door opened and Maria stepped in, carrying a happy giggling Amela in her arms.
She froze and her gaze bounced around the room, taking in the people there, and stopping on Liz when she shifted to one side in an attempt to hide something from her. “What’s going on?” she asked curiously.
“Liz is preparing a dinner for your birthday,” Max explained simply.
Michael turned slowly, his dark eyes piercing and annoyed when he glared at the other man. “It’s supposed to be a surprise,” he growled.
“You have achieved your goal then.” Max held his hands up in confusion when Liz giggled and looked away to keep from laughing. “She appears to be surprised.”
“Well,” Maria shifted her gaze to Michael. “I am surprised.”
He shot one last annoyed look at Max before turning to Maria. “Then I suppose that is what matters.”
“Men,” Liz shook her head and put everything aside to go and hug the other girl. “Happy birthday, girl!” She took Amela from her and then motioned for the men to follow her example.
“This is a requirement of the birthday celebration?” Max asked uncertainly. He held his hands up and crossed the room when the Commander’s glare returned to him. “I only ask as I am not fully informed on Earth customs and you have exhibited a rare form of territorial behavior in regard to Maria. I have no wish to unleash your anger upon my person.” He came to stand before the woman in question and he felt awkward as he held his arms out woodenly in her direction. “Forgive my lack of knowledge.”
Maria chuckled. “No problem, King Max.” She took a step closer and hugged him briefly, her eyes meeting Michael’s over his shoulder.
Liz reached out to rub Max’s back when he stepped away and Maria was quickly enveloped in the Commander’s embrace. The King was so awkward and stiff with such interactions and she knew that was because of the conditioning he had been through upon his return to Antar, but it was painful to watch, and she knew it was no better for him. She had seen just how open he could be when she reached the part of him that had been subdued and she was certain it was why he had been subject to such intensive sessions to subdue his human side.
“Happy birthday is what they say?” Michael whispered in Maria’s ear while his hands gripped her tightly.
“Yeah, that’s what they say,” she murmured against his shoulder. She closed her eyes to fight back the tears that were pushing to the surface. He had not only remembered her birthday, he had made an effort to make it feel as normal as possible for her.
“Happy birthday then, Maria.” He nudged her with his nose, not caring who was watching right now and kissed her on the lips briefly but with heat.
Her hands gripped his shirt, clenching in the soft cotton and kissing him back. She could feel the leashed passion in him, the control he exerted in deference to their company, and as much as she looked forward to the birthday dinner he’d arranged, she couldn’t wait to be alone with him again. “I love you,” she whispered against his lips when she felt him retreating.
Max didn’t know why, but he was shocked to see the Commander showing his affection towards the human woman so openly. He turned to Liz, who was looking almost as speechless as him.
“Well, I knew they were getting close,” she said quietly, “but I had no idea things had gotten so... far along.”
“I think we’re being watched,” Maria said, amused, and stepped out of Michael’s arms. “I didn’t even remember it was my birthday until now.”
He smiled smugly. He had been successful in his surprise. “Liz agreed to prepare a meal in your honor. And, as she explained the importance of the birthday cake, she’s also managed to create a cake you indicated you enjoy very much.”
“You made a cake?” She looked at the other human woman, stunned. “I haven’t had any cake in... eh, forever.”
“It was a bit of a challenge, but I think you’ll like the results,” Liz smiled as she moved to the side and motioned to the cake.
“It if tastes half as good as it looks then everything will be fine.”
“Then I think we’re good.” She winked and turned to hand Amela to Max. “You and Michael go on into the dining room and relax while I put the finishing touches on dinner. As soon as it’s ready to serve Max will bring Amela to you and then we’ll bring the food in.”
Once again Michael had to smirk as the King stood there receiving his orders.
“Okay,” Maria smirked at the way Liz was handing out orders to the King.
Michael straightened his posture and bowed his head slightly as he snapped off a salute that was more teasing than mocking. “Your Highness.” He turned on his heel and followed Maria out of the room when she reached over and grabbed his sleeve.
“Like to command the King?” Max growled when they were alone.
“I think you like it and I have all sorts of commands in mind for when we’re alone again.”
He growled, shifting Amela to one side to wrap an arm around her waist from behind. “You realize you are the only one allowed to behave in such a manner.”
She hid a smile. “I’d be insulted if that wasn’t the case.”
“Do you need any-“ The rest of his words were silenced when Amela’s small hand landed on his mouth, muzzling his words. He looked at her, shocked at first, but then amused, and he nudged her hand away with his nose. “No one has any respect for the King I see.” He shook his head at the girl but smiled.
Liz laughed while she poked a thermometer into the roast in the oven to check the internal temperature. “Seems like you’re ruled by the women, King Max. What were you about to say?”
He held Amela’s hand in his before he spoke this time. “I wanted to ask if you need any help with the dinner.”
“I’m good as long as you watch the kid. The roast only needs a few more minutes and then we’re good to go.” Her mouth was already watering at the thought of dinner. It had been a long while since she had cooked and ate something so Earthlike. She couldn’t wait to taste it for herself.
“She has grown fast,” Max said as his eyes took in the little baby girl he had just sat on the counter in front of him. “I have hardly seen her in the past, but I thought she would still be smaller.”
“Babies grow fast. Sometimes you’ll see the difference in just a week. Is it different with Antarian babies?”
“We don’t really know.”
Liz frowned and turned to look at him. “You don’t know?”
“Our babies aren’t born here. They hatch from their incubation shells and at that time they are already able to walk and eat on their own.”
“Right,” Liz nodded. “I forgot about that. It’s too bad though, because babies are so cute and they learn so much in their first years. But I guess with the lack of emotional attachment here it’s the most logical thing to do.” A very sad thing also, she thought.
“Antarian offspring are genetically engineered so that when they emerge from the incubation pods they already possess the knowledge necessary for continued development.”
“That’s so clinical.”
He tipped his head to one side as he studied her expression. “You do not approve of this method of procreation?”
“Well, it certainly takes the fun out of it.” She winked at him. “I know this method works for your people and I’m sure it’s very efficient.” She snorted at that. “Everything you do is efficient so I can’t imagine that’d be any different.”
“But you do not approve.”
“No, I’m not saying that.” She watched him as he interacted with Amela, doing his best to shift her attention from latching onto his nose. “I just think it’s a shame that Antarian parents miss so much with their children.” She smiled when the little girl giggled happily and hugged him without reservation. “And vice versa.”
“So if you were to decide you wanted children you would not want to pursue them in the manner Antarians have chosen?”
“IF I wanted children, then I’d prefer the natural way of us humans,” she agreed, turning the heat of the oven off and checking the dressing for the salad.
He studied her, trying to decide if had interpreted her tone right. “You do not want children?”
“In a world like this?” She turned to him and then shook her head. “I always wanted them, not so young, but I had the plan of having two or three in the future.”
“But that has changed now. The future changed,” he guessed.
“That’s right. Earth isn’t a safe home anymore and neither is Antar. I don’t want to raise a child living in fear that I won’t be able to protect it the way he or she should be protected.”
“Your position is understandable.”
She looked up at him. “What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Children, do you want them?”
“I have never given much consideration to children. It is expected that there will be a son as one day I will no longer be capable of ruling the Kingdom.” He looked away for a moment before his gaze settled on the little girl watching him so intently. “Any children I have would lack the freedom this little one has.”
Liz frowned. “What do you mean?”
“My child will be of royal blood and that comes with certain expectations.”
“But you’d be his father and have a say in what he or she would be allowed to do and not do.”
“The children of the royal family have minimal interaction with their parents until they are of a certain age.” He brushed Amela’s hair back awkwardly. “I would not know what to do with a child, Liz.”
She snorted. “That comes naturally.”
He thought about his sister and shook his head. “That remains to be seen.”
“Maybe you will see one day. You’re partly human. It would only be natural for you to have a child the human way.”
That made him laugh. “It would be an unexpected occurrence for a royal to have a child in that manner.”
“A hybrid royal is an unexpected occurrence as well,” she shrugged one shoulder.
“That is true.”
“Then you should consider it in the end,” she looked into the oven again. “I think we’re good to go.”
He nodded and picked Amela up again. What was the point of having a child no matter what the method if he wasn’t with someone he truly cared for?
“You can take her to Maria.”
Max inclined his head for a moment before bowing it slightly. “As you wish,” he said with a smirk.
She smirked to herself and pulled the roast out of the oven, her mouth watering at the smell.
He carried Amela into the dining room and paused in the doorway, clearing his throat when he noticed the couple standing near the table.
Maria looked up first and smiled when Amela leaned towards her, arms stretched out. “Come here, sweetheart.”
“Liz said dinner will be here directly.”
“Good,” Michael stated. “I’m hungry.”
“Rare are the occasions I’ve known you to NOT be hungry,” Max said dryly.
“I’m a big man,” he replied with a shrug.
Maria tried not to laugh and ended up snorting. “Well said, Commander.”
He looked down at her, irritated. “What’s so funny?”
She just shook her head, her green eyes dancing with amusement. “Have a seat and let’s just enjoy dinner.”
“That’s not an answer,” he said but sat down anyway, taking Amela from her to settle her in his lap.
“It’s not an answer that’s appropriate for mixed company.” She winked at him, enjoying the freedom to tease him openly amongst their friends. “Remind me to explain later.”
“I will,” he said determinedly.
Max’s gaze bounced between them, uncertain what was going on. “I will see if Liz needs any assistance.”
“Assistance,” Michael snorted when he was gone.
“Didn’t I just send you outta the kitchen?” Liz asked as she wiped the side of the serving dish the roast was now resting on.
“I am here to help you with serving.”
“Here to do the heavy lifting, huh?” She chuckled at his confused look and motioned to the dish. “Take that into the dining room and I’ll follow with the other dishes.”
“Later I will issue orders again,” he muttered under his breath.
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” she teased.
“I am the King,” he told her matter-of-factly.
“Indeed you are.” She patted his arm. “Take that to the table.”
He went back into the dining room and set the food down as instructed. “How old are you, Maria?”
Maria nearly choked on the drink of water she had just taken. “I’m sorry, what?” she rasped, waving Michael off when he patted her back heartily.
“It seems that humans count their age according to the birthdays they celebrate.”
“Twenty-five,” she answered.
He nodded, not really sure what it meant since he knew he had to be near the same age but no one had ever counted. “You are still young then. The best age to have children I have read in a book.”
“You read that in a book, did you? Perhaps you should consider having your first then.”
“First?” He frowned.
“Child,” she clarified. “I’m sure you’re right around my age and if twenty-five’s good for a woman, I’m certain it’s just as good for a man.”
Michael bit his cheek before he could laugh out loud at the King’s expression.
“I was speaking of the biological aspect,” Max said, not understanding the hint of annoyance in the human woman’s tone.
“Max, before you stick your foot any further down your throat maybe you should have a seat,” Liz suggested.
Maria shifted her eyes to her friend and nodded at her with the hint of a smile. She knew the King hadn’t meant to be rude and in fact he had no clue he had been.
“Very well.” Apparently any discussion regarding age and childbearing was unacceptable, he decided as he pulled a chair out and sat down. He ran the side of his thumb around the edge of the plate as he cast about for some topic that would be better tolerated but came up empty.
“What was the best birthday present you ever got?” Liz asked while she started to fill everyone’s plates.
“We do not celebrate such occasions on Antar,” Max answered, jumping when someone kicked him. Hard. He lifted his head to glare at Michael. “What is the meaning of your behavior?”
“She wasn’t talking to you.”
“Oh.” He looked at the women and nodded. “Of course.” He gestured to Maria. “You may respond to the query.”
“That’s really hard to say,” Maria said.
Max was confused. “The name of the present is difficult to pronounce?”
She chuckled. “No, I meant it’s hard to decide which was best. My mom always tried to make my birthdays special.”
“Yeah, my mom did too.” Liz smiled at the memory.
“What did they do?”
“My mom would always make my birthday special. She’d always start by making my favorite breakfast and then we’d spend the whole day together, not really doing anything big, but just being together. When I was younger we’d go places in the city and then later, when things got bad, we would spend the day looking at old pics, talking and laughing about the things we’d done on past birthdays.” Maria sighed, the memories filling her with a feeling of happiness for a moment.
Michael wanted to slap the King for making her talk about her mom because it meant she would feel bad in the end. Where was the woman and why was it so hard to find her?
Liz caught the look on the Commander’s face and it didn’t take much effort to put two and two together. “Did you ever want a pony when you were little?” she asked Maria.
“Didn’t every girl want a pony?” she countered, amused.
“That’s a good point.” She laughed. “I remember when I was about five I was so horse crazy I drove my parents crazy with it. My dad took me out to a farm someone he knew owned and I got to ride a pony.”
“Bet your Mom hated it because it made things worse and you wanted it more than ever before,” Maria chuckled.
“Oh, yeah. I mean, she thought it was cute at first and she was going crazy with taking the pictures, but there was a horse in the pen behind her and he stuck his head through the fence and bit her right on the ass.” She bit the inside of her cheek. “I think she pretty much stopped thinking it was cute at that point.”
“Yeah, Mom wasn’t happy about that and it only made it worse that Dad was laughing so hard he couldn’t really even speak.”
“I would have laughed too,” Michael admitted and bit into a roll.
“And she would’ve given you a piece of her mind too. She was dead set against me ever having that pony I wanted after that.” She rolled her eyes. “Nothing I could say was gonna change her mind.”
“It was probably for the better,” Maria said with a smile. “Now we know we wouldn’t have had the energy to care for one on our own.”
“I’m sure if you still have any interest in owning a pony the King can procure one for you from his stables,” Michael said as he cut into the roast on his plate and took a big bite.
“Those crazy things with two heads?” Liz asked, horrified.
“The animals are sound. We have the best stock in the land,” Max said proudly. “You may have your pick.”
“I don’t want anything with more than one head,” she denied.
Maria snorted at that and took a drink to cover it.
“You don’t like them?” The King frowned, looking from one woman to the other.
“They’re…” Maria started.
“Creepy,” Liz shuddered. “Seriously? How can you trust anything with two heads? How does it even know which direction to run to?”
Max frowned when he didn’t have an answer to that. “It’s in their nature. They are very intelligent creatures.”
“Helpful in the war,” Michael mumbled around a mouth full. “They detect potential danger early, because they have four eyes and ears instead of two.”
“It’s still weird,” Liz denied. “To which head would you talk to, if it could speak?”
“To the one talking with you,” the King replied simply.
Liz and Maria exchanged a look and after a moment burst out laughing. They only laughed harder when Max frowned at them, having no idea that his answer in that serious matter-of-fact tone made his response that much funnier.
Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:54 am
Earth2Mama: Lol, he definitely has a case for the books!
Michael’s connection to Maria has helped him with his social skills, and Max, well, Liz has her work cut out for her, but we think she’s up to the task.
Natalie36: Max definitely has a ways to go, but he has a good teacher so he’ll get there... just probably not before he sticks his foot in his mouth again.
Eva: Lol, there are some definite differences, that’s for sure! As for when, guess we’ll have to wait and see.
We have a feeling you’re right about Max enjoying taking those orders.
You just never know, we may see that conversation crop up again at a later date.
sarammlover: We’ll continue with lighthearted and funny for at least part of this update! Max did indeed take it graciously, lol.
begonia9508: Max has some pretty funny moments and he’s constantly tripping over himself because he doesn’t understand Earth customs and certain phrases. Liz enjoys having fun with him and we’re gonna see more of that.
Lol, yeah, Antarians have their own way of doing things.
Roswelllostcause: Thanks for reading!
“Don’t try to understand it,” Michael advised as he watched over Amela while she picked and chose what she wanted to try on his plate.
“No,” Max mused slowly, his confused gaze bouncing between the women. They were such confusing creatures. He leaned in closer to the Commander. “Antarian women do not behave in such a manner.”
“No, but they’re no less confusing.” He waved a hand dismissively when the King seemed to be contemplating his words. “They simply hide it better.”
“Isabel has remarked on more than one occasion that our horses are unnatural.”
“I can’t imagine she would know one end of a horse from the other,” he said conversationally.
Liz snorted. “I can’t imagine she does either.”
“Okay, that’s enough talk about those two-headed beasts,” Maria insisted. “Let’s talk about something fun!”
“It’s your birthday, why don’t you suggest something?” the other woman said and shoved some of the weird colored vegetables into her mouth. They tasted like a mixture of carrots and beans, but they had the color of stone. The old saying you eat with your eyes really didn’t count on Antar, and maybe that was the reason why there was hardly anyone on the planet that appeared overweight.
“Hmm, let’s see,” Maria bit her lip while she tried to find a new theme to talk about, but of course nothing came to mind when she tried to think about it.
“You know what I miss?” Liz asked, grinning at the memory. “There was always a joke posted in the local newspaper where I lived. I read it every morning and thought how stupid it was, but now I’d love to read some new ones.”
“Do you remember any of them?” the blonde asked. Things like jokes didn’t even exist on Antar and it had been a very long time since she had heard anyone tell one.
“Let’s see,” Liz tapped her fork against her lips while she thought about it. “Oh! I know. What’s the most depressing moment of a man’s life?” She glanced around the table.
The Commander frowned. “You call this a joke?”
Maria bumped him. “You gotta wait for the punchline.”
“Punchline?” His frown deepened and both girls laughed again.
Liz’ gaze shifted to Max, but he decided to keep silent rather than make another comment they thought was funny. “Alright, I’ll tell you. It’s when he pops a boner, walks against the wall, and breaks his nose.”
Michael snorted at that and nodded. “That would be depressing.” And one depressing moment he would never have to concern himself with, he added silently.
The King was busy trying to put two and two together when a decidedly female foot introduced itself to his lap and it was so unexpected he dropped his fork. He opened his mouth to apologize for the disturbance but the only sound that came out was nothing he wanted to lay claim to so he cleared his throat and tried again.
“What is wrong with you?” the Commander demanded to know.
Max cleared his throat once more and shook his head as he stared at Liz. Nothing about her expression revealed that she was engaged in other activities below the table. She and Maria were still talking and laughing but there was nothing humorous about what she was doing with her foot! “I was just considering the joke,” he got out finally.
“What is there to consider?”
He shifted and tugged his collar away from his neck. “I was just thinking that Antarian royalty would have no reason to suffer a broken nose.”
The Commander grinned. “That’s right.”
The King reached under the table to cup the woman’s foot in his hand firmly until she met his gaze across the table. With a slight shake of his head, he tried to make her understand that this was not the time or place to play such games with him.
Liz gave him an innocent smile and slowly retrieved her foot from his lap, but not without brushing it all the way down his inner thigh.
Amela used the moment of distraction among the adults to make a grab for something funny shaped and red on Michael’s plate and shoved it in her mouth, munching on it.
“Oh no, sweetie, that’s not for you,” Maria was the first one to notice the spicy vegetable in her little mouth, but the little girl’s eyes were already watering and a moment later she cried out and spit the rest out on the table.
“I’ll get her some milk,” Liz said and stood, almost forgetting to slip back into her shoe.
Max winced at the wailing racket coming from the tiny human as he watched the Commander and Maria try their best to soothe her distress. He shifted slightly and cleared his throat, frowning slightly when the sound didn’t command anyone’s attention the way it normally did. Amela increased the effort her lungs were putting forth and he was certain the noise was going to pierce his eardrums.
Liz hurried back into the room with the milk and in spite of their attempts to encourage the little girl to take the milk she continued to cry and claw at her mouth.
“Perhaps I can be of help,” the King said, raising his voice to be heard when nothing else seemed to work. He motioned for Michael to move closer and he reached out, placing his palms against the child’s flushed cheeks. It took very little effort to soothe the little one and required a minimal use of his powers. “There,” he leaned back and savoured the moment of silence, “that is much better.”
Amela stared at him as her tears slowed and her cries settled to hiccups. She curled up against Michael’s chest and grabbed a handful of his sleeve to gnaw on. Her eyes followed him as he pointed to the red thing on the plate in front of her and shook his head.
“Those are not intended for little ones.”
“I think she’s definitely learned that lesson,” Maria chuckled lightly and leaned forward to kiss the girl’s forehead. “I don’t understand their passion for spicy food either, sweetheart. That’s such an Antarian thing.”
“Not really,” Liz disagreed. “Ever ate Indian food?”
“You’ve got a point. That was indeed very spicy!”
The men looked at each other – once more lost in the conversation. “We need to find a way to retrieve our memories of our time on Earth,” the King said. The more time he spent with the humans, the more he felt like he had missed a big part of his own life. Maybe there was a chance to truly know who he was and why he felt things a certain way if he actually remembered his former life on a different planet.
“Have you ever tried to find a way?” Liz asked, poking her fork into one of the vegetables with no excitement. She couldn’t help herself, somehow it was just weird that the things looked like carrots but tasted like celery.
“No,” Michael said. “We can’t trust anyone with our brains,” he tapped his head. “No one’s getting in here again; you never know what kind of information they could steal.”
Max nodded in agreement. “We do have random flashes or something that’s called déjà vú, I think. It could happen because of old memories.”
“If they could suppress your memories, surely there’s a way to undo that process,” Maria said.
“Well, what about your sister?” Liz looked at Max. “She seems to have some pretty impressive mental abilities.”
The blonde made a face when she thought about the Princess interrupting her and Michael before. “I think I’d rather never remember than have her poking around in my head for that purpose.”
“It is unlikely that Isabel possesses the skills necessary to aid in memory retrieval,” Max mused. “If her abilities extended to that arena I believe she would have attempted to search her own mind for the memories of Earth.”
“What kind of process do they use?” Liz couldn’t stop her curiosity from getting the best of her. “I mean, is it a mechanical procedure or is it something that requires another person and the use of mental abilities?”
“The memories of the process were wiped from our minds at the time but Alex has uncovered information about a creature called a Seeker.”
Michael looked up at him. “The Seeker is a children’s fable.”
“Alex believes it to exist.”
“And if this being exists?” Max carefully placed his fork aside as he met the Commander’s glare. “The fable tells a tale of a creature capable of searching the minds of others, taking memories and giving them.”
“A fable created to amuse and trick children into behaving.” The Commander shook his head. “The Seeker is rumoured to come from another world, and if the stories are to be believed, the individual who captures this creature can control it.”
Maria’s gaze bounced between them. “Who could control something so powerful?”
“The stories claim that the Seeker is unaware of its true power. It has such a gentle spirit that it can be easily manipulated into believing it is doing the right thing.” Max huffed in annoyance. “It is possible that it is not a fable. Alex has been researching it for some time and he believes the creature is real.”
“Alex has been spending too much time researching the Seeker if he has begun to believe in its mystical and mythical powers.” He reached for the glass of milk and steadied it for Amela when she motioned for it.
“Well, it could be true or just a name that represents a person with those powers,” Maria mused while chewing on a piece of meat thoughtfully. She was aware of the glare the Commander levelled on her in response to what he perceived as disagreement. “I mean, there was a time on Earth when no one believed in aliens or powers beyond those we humans have normally. And then suddenly Antarians came to Earth and some of them had powers like blowing up things, mind reading…” she shook her head, “mankind had never ever believed creatures like that existed until we met them. So there could be something like a Seeker outside. Just because it sounds unlikely doesn’t mean it can’t exist.” Her eyes bounced to Michael and she could see he was about to protest, but she held her hand up and continued. “On the other hand, of course, it could be just a fable, but with a true core. Fables normally have some truth in them and they’re sometimes thousands of years old and were verbally passed down from one generation to the next. With every new person telling it to their kids it changes a little more, so what we now have is a lot of fiction with a tiny bit of truth.”
Max listened curiously, finding himself understanding what Maria was trying to say. “But the hard thing is telling what’s true and what isn’t.”
She nodded. “What if the Seeker is just some Antarian or even a group of people who have this certain ability? You all have other powers, I have a gene defect and it makes me something special obviously, so let’s say the Seekers are people who have a certain power for some reason. This power allows them to add and take memories from minds.”
Michael rolled his eyes. He was certain it was nothing more than a bunch of nonsense. “What purpose would such a power serve?”
“Well, if it’s true, and IF someone has managed to capture one, or maybe they’re working with one, then it would seem to me that making you forget your time on Earth was their purpose.”
Liz chuckled quietly when the two of them locked gazes. “And don’t forget they’ve done their best to suppress your human side. I think they underestimated just how strong the human spirit is.”
Maria snorted. “They probably discounted it out of hand. Somehow I doubt they have any real understanding of what it means to be human and that was their big mistake.”
“You believe that our memories are accessible,” Max mused thoughtfully.
“Absolutely. I don’t know how, but there’s a way to retrieve them.”
“I will speak with Alex about the Seeker.”
“Yes, and when you do, perhaps you could also request he gather information on the Tooth Fairy,” Michael growled.
Max frowned. “The Tooth Fairy?” He shook his head. “I have never heard of such a creature.”
“It’s not real,” Liz assured him when she saw his perplexed expression. She had a feeling Maria had been educating the Commander, although she had to wonder how that particular subject had come up in conversation.
“It isn’t?” The slightest hint of a smirk played around Michael’s lips. “Weren’t we just talking about the truth in every fable?” He looked at Maria, his gaze challenging.
“Oh, you are so not right for that,” she laughed and smacked his arm.
Max glanced back and forth between the people sitting around the table. He couldn’t help but feel lost through most of the conversation. Was it possible that his Commander had developed a further understanding of the human spirit because of his connection to one and his obviously growing relationship? And if it was true, would Liz help him to discover more of his own human side if they stayed together this time?
“Maybe hypnosis could work,” Liz mused after a while. “They say it helps find memories that are blocked.”
“That’s true,” Maria agreed. “But the question is would someone be able to get their minds into that state? It doesn’t work with every human and my guess is it’s even more difficult with hybrids.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’m not allowing anyone to put me in any kind of ‘state’,” the Commander expressed with a shake of his head and shifted Amela in his lap when she squirmed around.
Max looked at Michael. “You would not be willing even if it meant retrieving your memories of Earth?”
There was no hesitation before he responded with an adamant, “No.”
“What if something we learned about our time on Earth could help us?”
“If it was that important we’ll remember it on our own.”
He poked at his food for a moment before sighing. “I would attempt it.” He lifted his head to look at Liz. “Do you know how to conduct this hypnosis experiment?”
“Not really, no. I mean, I’ve seen it done, but never in a professional setting.”
Maria laughed. “Some show with a hypnotist who could make people bark like a dog or quack like a duck?”
Getting the gist of the girls’ conversation Michael shook his head. He gestured at them while looking at the King. “See? It’s foolishness. If you allowed some hypnotist person to put you under a spell you would be made to look like a fool.” He speared a bite of the roast and chewed on it thoughtfully for a moment before pointing at Liz with his fork. “Connect with your human.” He sat back and shrugged one shoulder, confident that the problem had been solved.
“Connect with your human?” Liz asked in disbelief, mocking the Commander’s tone.
He looked at her, his features expressionless since he wasn’t sure what the problem was. “Yes, that’s what I said.”
“No one’s connecting with anyone here,” the brunette said stubbornly.
“Why would you suggest that?” Max asked curiously.
Now, this conversation was taking a lot of interesting turns, Maria mused and placed her fork aside to help Amela with her task of gathering some of the not so spicy vegetables from Michael’s plate. “I think what he meant was that it seems like it helps to detect more of your human side when you’re connected to a human.” She looked at him and he nodded slightly.
“Commander,” the King said to get his attention. “Have you experienced any kind of memory retrieval since you connected with your human?”
“Maria,” she informed him, “my name is Maria. Not ‘your human’.”
Liz smirked at the other woman’s annoyed tone. Yeah, the King really had a lot to learn.
The throne room resounded with the echo of footfalls as the heels of Rath’s boots struck the floor. There was no discipline to his stride and the sound was heavy with impatience. He flung the doors open, mindless of the sentries standing guard at the entrance, his angry gaze boring into the man standing at the wide windows. Behind him the sentries scurried to retake their posts when Khivar turned and shot a scathing look at them.
Once they had closed the heavy doors and retreated behind them he turned his eyes to the man who commanded his armies. “Have you no concept of suitable behavior?”
“Suitable behavior be damned!” Rath snarled. “Why was I not informed of the human’s arrival?”
Khivar swept his long robe aside as he turned to walk back to the throne. “You seem to forget that I am the ruler of this kingdom, Rath. You answer to me, or have you forgotten that as well?” He took his seat and leveled his patronizing gaze on the Commander. “There is no need for you to concern yourself with my captive.”
“You have no one else who can impregnate the woman.”
“As I recall you haven’t had a considerable amount of success in spawning an offspring thus far.” He chuckled darkly. “The human is merely a bargaining chip and therefore, your services are not needed. Consider yourself freed of the burden of rendering your services.” He inhaled deeply and made a rolling motion with his right hand. “There, that takes the pressure off of all of us.”
Rath’s eyes narrowed. He was fed up with the demeaning remarks, sick of being treated like a pet on a leash, and he had to force his hands to relax at his sides. Soon, he reminded himself. Very soon he would put an end to Khivar and the throne would be his.
“The flag of mourning has been lowered.” His fingers drummed out a slow rhythm that didn’t cease until the Commander nodded in response to his statement. “How are the preparations for the secondary attack on Mar’kesh?” His lips curled up in a superior smile when he saw the way the tendons in Rath’s neck stood out. It was the only outward sign of his agitation. He stood and slowly crossed the throne room, stopping only when he reached the Commander. “You didn’t believe you could keep such a thing from me, did you?”
“The armies are under my command.”
“Yes, they are,” he mused quietly as he stared at the hybrid. “But if we’re to carry out an assault on a village that holds absolutely no military advantage and can only result in civilian losses, which will initiate a retaliation – “
“Retaliation,” Rath spit out. “I welcome their retaliation. I will see Antar’s armies – “
The back of Khivar’s hand cracked across his cheek, silencing him. “You will do as I say.”
“I will do as I see fit.”
His skin began to change colors, darkening until the natural blue pigment overtook his features, and his golden eyes flashed dangerously as he moved until he was nose to nose with Rath. He struck out, his right hand locking around the Commander’s throat, and physically lifting him until the heels of his boots were no longer touching the ground. “You forget your place, Rath,” he murmured silkily as one of his razor sharp nails ghosted across the man’s jugular. “Mar’kesh is of no military value to me. The people in the village are poor, which means what little they possess would be of no value to me. If you intend to destroy a village in my name, be certain it is for a better reason than satisfying one of your childish whims!” he roared and released the tight rein he kept on his powers.
Rath grunted when his back connected solidly with the heavy doors and he fell to the ground without ceremony. He shook his head to clear it and before he could gather his wits about him Khivar was standing over him, the tip of his sword pressing against the center of his chest.
“I grow tired of having to repeat myself, Rath. If you wish to remain in your position I suggest you start listening. Mar’kesh is not to come under attack again. You defied the rules of war by engaging in the first attack. Defy me again and you will be punished in a manner that will ensure you never forget who it is you answer to.” He dragged the sword down and he reveled in the momentary flash of fear that appeared in Rath’s eyes when he pressed the blade against his lower body, the threat unmistakably clear.
The Commander got to his feet the moment Khivar stepped back and sheathed his sword. He forced his movements to remain controlled. He had to remind himself that the man’s days were numbered. “The troops will be recalled. We have another mission to undertake. One that I expect will meet with your wishes.” His spy had revealed the new Commander’s plan to hide a weapons shipment at the abandoned camp at the base of the Santeda Mountains. It would be a simple mission and based on the reports he had received he knew the value of the cache would satisfy Khivar.
“Very well,” he said and motioned graciously to the doors that opened at his silent command, “you may go now. And Commander?”
Rath turned slowly, his back teeth grinding as he waited for Khivar to speak.
“Don’t return without succeeding in your mission.” He lifted a hand and motioned for the woman standing at the room’s entrance to join him and without another word to the Commander he moved to greet Ava. She had singlehandedly destroyed the Commander of Antar and having achieved such a feat, she was now worthy of his praise.
The Commander left without another word, stalking along the corridors and replaying every moment of the meeting. The fact that Ava had become Khivar’s new pet only served to further incense him, but he welcomed it. He held on tightly to every slight, every threat, every demeaning word, and every assault upon his person. It kept his anger on edge and it fueled his desire to kill.
“The Commander appears displeased,” Ava commented, hiding a shudder of revulsion when Khivar took her hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it.
“He has once again acted rashly and he required a reminder.”
She forced a smile and nodded, carefully shielding her thoughts from him. It was only a matter of time before Rath killed him. She didn’t know when and she didn’t know how, but Rath was like a wild animal and he was only biding his time. He would strike when Khivar least expected it and she knew the man would be unable to defend himself against the attack when it came. Too often Khivar had exerted his control over the Commander and he foolishly underestimated his capabilities.
“I have instructed the servants to prepare a meal for us.”
She hated to eat when she had no appetite, but it was for the greater good, and the more relaxed he was, the easier it would be to slip past his natural defenses. “A hot meal would be welcome.”
“Vilondra is otherwise occupied, but I thought you could regale me with the Commander’s demise.”
She bowed her head slightly. “Of course.” Each time she told the story she had to find some new twist, some new detail that would excite him. It sickened her, but she knew it must be done. With each new visit she probed a little deeper into his mind, careful not to push too far too fast because if she did he would become aware of it. She was getting closer to the information she needed and she was hopeful that while she spewed the lies of her victory against Antar’s Commander she would finally be able to latch onto the book’s location.
Posted: Sun Jul 06, 2014 2:53 am
They’ll certainly be working on it.
Yeah, the danger’s always there.
Retrieving their memories is an important matter and they’ll definitely be pursuing it.
We’ll find out in this part if your suspicions are correct. Those two are definitely creepy!
Discovering their memories could be very beneficial, and they’ll keep trying.
Lol, can’t you just imagine either of the guys under hypnosis?
Max is very interested in retrieving his memories... just not through hypnosis.
Thanks! They’ll be working on it.
Lol, it definitely adds an element of hilarity at times.
Max is definitely hoping for a better time later.
We’ll definitely have more of those moments.
We don’t have too much longer to wait before we find out about the trap. Lol, Max and Michael really have no clue, but Michael’s definitely got just a bit of an advantage over Max. They’ll be working towards retrieving their memories.
Three heavy knocks could be heard at the opposite end of the room and Khivar’s gaze shifted in the direction of the sound, his face suddenly twisting into an evil grin. He strode away from Ava and with a wave of his hand something unlocked loudly and the door slid sideways to disappear into the wall and reveal one of the castle’s secret dark hallways. Inside the doorway stood one of the largest Antarian men she had ever seen, his broad body blocking the tunnel behind him.
Ava tried to hide her surprise at being allowed to witness such a thing, something that would normally be kept a secret. Only Khivar and a few of his closest guards knew about the locations of such hidden tunnels.
“Siro, da Homaho ek ferto en ó Iverosgátiko.“
She frowned at the spoken words, unable to decipher their meaning. There were rumors that a few Antarians still spoke the old language and that their ruler used it to communicate with his life guards, but she had never heard the words actually spoken. Yet, it served as more proof that the second book did indeed exist.
Khivar nodded and made a dismissive wave with his hand. “Ver gò.” The other man disappeared, but the door remained open. He turned to Ava with a pleased expression on his face. “Before our meal, there is something delectable for you to learn. I wish to acquaint you with another special mission.”
The sick feeling in her stomach increased, but she covered it with a mask of pride and walked a few steps towards him. “Of course. I am honored.”
He stepped to the side, allowing her to enter the hallway first and then following her. The heavy stone door closed behind them, leaving everything in complete darkness and a wave of panic swamped her. She covered it in time for the small flames on each side of the corridor to flicker to life.
“Needless to say this mission requires the severest nondisclosure. An individual order, carried out by you and only you.” He smiled to himself while he followed her along the secret passageway, his eyes focused on her back as he studied her body language. They made a few turns at his direction before stopping in front of what look like nothing more than another wall. His gaze shifted to her face and his cold eyes bored into hers directly. “But I am positive a soldier of your rank, with the inebriation of killing the enemy Commander still flowing through her veins, will be capable of carrying it out with success.”
“To my death,” she agreed with a bow of her head. A single mission would mean she didn’t have to be creative at hiding her actions to another soldier or their armies, so at least that was an advantage.
Khivar chuckled deeply and waved his hand in front of the wall until it once again opened up on them with dust and small stones filtering to the ground. They walked into a small room where another heavy door was located. The ruler put his hand on a scanner next to it then placed his face close to another device that scanned his iris with a red laser.
Ava watched him closely as he went through each security checkpoint. She had heard Khivar used a combination of both Antarian and Human technology to secure the castle, but she had never witnessed it before. It was more proof of his newest trust in her.
With a loud click, the door sprung open and new sounds could be heard. There was a constant rhythmic beeping as well as a few murmurs. They passed two Antarian men with plain black uniforms that bowed their heads when they passed but didn’t speak. A moment later they focused their attention back on the large panel that showed many measuring instruments in front of them. Above it was a huge window that gave them a view into another plain white tiled room. A bed stood at the center and its single occupant, who was obviously unconscious, was attached to medical monitors.
Khivar walked towards the door leading into the room. He gave one of the men a signal and the door slid open with a whirring sound. “Fast,” he ordered and she hurried to step inside as well.
The moment the door closed behind them, she felt the heavy pressure on her chest and a gasp escaped her throat.
The ruler chuckled. “You will become accustomed to it in a few seconds. Do not breathe in too deeply.”
“What is causing this?” She rubbed her chest unconsciously.
“We are simulating Earth conditions here,” he answered and walked towards the bed, hands clasped behind his back. “Many humans are not suited to the gravitation and air pressure here. They need to undergo a procedure to adjust with a special device first.”
“I know about the difficulties some humans experience when they first arrive,” she nodded and studied the one in the bed in front of her. A woman, thin, with brown hair – what could Khivar want from her? “I suppose there is a special reason you brought her here. Who is she?”
He didn’t answer immediately and checked a few monitors instead, enjoying the moment of sole knowledge. “What’s the human race’s biggest weakness, Ava?” he asked in a superior tone.
“Their emotions,” she answered without hesitation. It was common knowledge on Antar, not necessarily something she agreed with, but widely accepted as truth.
“Precisely,” he murmured as he circled the bed once more, his golden eyes scanning the instrument panels.
“And their weakness is a great advantage for us.”
“It is a truth that has been proven repeatedly.” He paused at the head of the bed, leaning in to brush the backs of his fingers over the human’s pale skin. “Such frail creatures, humans. Their bodies are most often ill-suited to survive Antar’s atmosphere. There are exceptions of course, but this one is far from being one of them. As you know, those who fail to pass the rigorous tests are denied access to Antar.”
Ava watched him as he moved around the human, his behavior reminding her of a predator amusing itself with its prey.
“This one was denied access. As you can see, her body is greatly weakened from the journey and the sudden introduction to Antar’s atmosphere. Only so much can be done to prevent the effects.”
She tipped her head to one side, sensing his sick pleasure at the human’s suffering. “If they cannot survive such an introduction they should stay on their own planet.”
He paused and slowly lifted his head to meet her gaze. “You understand.”
“They are a blight that should be exterminated before they can fully contaminate our world.”
His eyes searched her features. “I do not understand what you saw in Zan.” He waved it off without giving it another thought. “That is a conversation for another time. We have more important matters to discuss.”
She swallowed with difficulty when he turned his attention back to the woman. No, he would never understand, and she preferred it that way. His sick, twisted mind could never be capable of understanding the humanity Zan had so carefully fostered and protected. She pushed thoughts of her dead lover to the back of her mind, knowing how dangerous it could be if they were too close to the surface. If her enemies ever detected the truth it would mean her demise.
“You said you have a mission for me,” she prodded, injecting eagerness into her tone.
Khivar’s eyes gleamed with amusement as he nodded. “You are impatient to begin. Good. You are aware that Rath foolishly lost my human captive.”
“The one who carries the gene.”
She moved closer to the woman he seemed to be so fascinated with. “Have you found a replacement?”
“No. The search for another human carrying the gene in its active state has been in vain.”
“Then why have you collected this human? She is obviously not physically fit to be introduced to Antar’s atmosphere.” She scanned over the panel, taking in the readings. “Her vitals appear weak in spite of the procedure and her age suggests that it may not be successful.” She couldn’t tell the woman’s true age, but it was apparent she was older than most humans that were granted entry to Antar.
“You are correct,” he said with a hint of pride in his voice. He motioned to the woman lying prone before him. “By Earth standards she is not considered old, but we have detected the presence of the gene.”
She frowned. “Then she possesses the gene?”
“She does, but due to her advanced age it has become dormant and of no use to me.”
“Then why bring her here?”
“The gene is of no use to me, but she possesses something far greater.” He stepped back, watching Ava as she began to piece the puzzle together. She was highly intelligent; she was a thinker and she considered every angle before making a decision.
“You intend to use her in some manner.” Her brain was working faster than normal as she tried to determine what reason he would have for retrieving a human from Earth, a human who was having a difficult time adjusting to their atmosphere, a human who was older than those given entrance to Antar, and a human who possessed the gene but in a dormant form. The study of human biology had never been one of her strengths, but she struggled to recall everything she had ever learned about the subject.
What could she possess that he felt was of greater value than the gene? If his plan was to create a super hybrid he had to have the gene. The human Antar’s Commander had liberated from Rath’s camp carried the gene. Khivar had spoken of human weakness, of human emotions, and then this woman’s value. There was a connection, there had to be. And suddenly the truth loomed right in front of her. Twisted, evil, and just devious enough to work.
“Yes, you understand now,” he said, his voice near a whisper.
“She’s the mother,” Ava stated, trying to sound excited rather than shocked and hoping she was wrong.
“I know Zander’s kingdom is searching for the woman,” Khivar went on, confirming her suspicion. “They haven’t been able to find her,” he chuckled, “and the days of mourning were perfect to prepare her transportation to Antar.”
“Why do they seek the mother? The human in no position to make such demands.” She knew why, but she pretended to be clueless to let him have his feelings of superior victory.
“The new King is too human,” he said with disgust but a grin spread on his thin lips, “which works to our advantage. Zander wasn’t able to eliminate that human streak in his Royal Four.” He threw his head back and laughed deeply, his eyes gleaming with a mixture of fueled hate and joy. “And he always thought you were the defective ones.”
“You believe he has been searching for the older woman to make the other human.... happy?” With perfect mimicry she pretended confusion and disgust.
“That is correct,” he agreed.
“What is my mission to be? To threaten them with the mother until they return the woman to us? They must know to a certain degree that she's of importance and won't just allow her to go, influenced by human emotion or not. They will especially know she is not some random human if we threaten them with her mother.”
Anger spread across Khivar’s face and he strode around the bed to face her, using one hand to hold her still as he thrust his face directly into hers. “I do NOT care how you accomplish your mission, Ava, but we must have the human returned. At the moment we lack information as to the location of the human, but I am positive she is being harbored within the castle. Our spies would have found her otherwise. There is no other choice but to use the threat of destroying this creature,” he gestured at the woman in bed next to them, “so she will be executed if they do not cooperate. Tell them that. Show them,” he pointed one long finger at her temple, “and the great King Max will cave. He does not want to be responsible for an innocent’s death. Use your mental powers to gain information pertaining to the human’s location.”
She stared at him, carefully shielding her brain from any kind of intrusion he might attempt him while he was so close. “You can count on me, Khivar.” Her voice was strong, just the way she intended it to be.
He released her. “I knew you would be the right one for this task.”
“Is there a possibility their Commander could have connected to the human already? We know he was in the camp when she was found.” It was a sensitive theme to bring up, but she needed more information.
“If that is the case then it is good you have already killed him, isn’t it?” Khivar asked.
“True,” she agreed, “but can another true connection appear with the same individual?”
“No, it can’t,” he spit out, “but Rath and the Commander have the same gene pool. So in the unlikely case that she was connected to the dead man our scientists are positive the impregnation with Rath’s sperm will have the same effect for the offspring.”
If that was the truth, then it was even more important to make sure Khivar or Rath never got a hold of the human connected to Antar’s Commander,
she thought but locked it away quickly. Ava forced a sharp nod. “And I will carry out this mission alone?”
He studied her intensely. “This is not a mission for bungler. If you are overcharged with it-”
“I am not,” she denied firmly, “I was just making sure. I work better alone, I don’t want anyone to put an oar in it.” Her eyes locked on his. “Especially not Rath.”
He observed her for a moment, satisfied when he found no sign of hesitation, only resolve. “This is not Rath’s mission to undertake. Considering his recent actions I see no reason why he needs to be involved or even made aware of our conversation.”
Ava nodded, immensely relieved that the plan she had agreed to take part in was working out so well. “I will begin searching for information once our meeting has concluded.”
“That is an acceptable plan.” He straightened to look at Ava. “Do you intend to probe the minds of the Royal Four?” He smirked and shook his head. “Ah, but they no longer have the strength of the fourth, do they? You should find it much easier to breach their mental defenses. It was increasingly tiring to attempt that feat with the Commander.”
She hid her surprise. “You have attempted to gain access to the Commander’s mind?”
“I have attempted it, but sadly, was never able to achieve that goal. Knowledge of his military tactics would have been beneficial, but it was not to be.” He turned his head slightly so that his eyes moved away from Ava. He had failed with the Commander, but not all of his attempts had been in vain.
Unknown to his subjects he had managed to force a connection with the Princess of Antar. He suspected his ability to push past her resistance was directly linked to the fact that he frequently took his pleasure from Vilondra. His hands curled into fists at his sides as he turned his memories loose for a moment. If the pleasure of one had been exciting, the pleasure of two had exceeded his expectations.
Zander’s daughter had resisted but he had worn her down and he reveled in that victory. She put up a good fight, but in spite of her defenses, in the end she had no choice but to give in to him. With every new foray into her mind he discovered more about the inner workings of the palace. She remained at the outer edges though, distant from everyone, isolated in many ways, which had worked to his advantage because it made it so much easier to manipulate her. Unfortunately her distance from the others did little to provide him with much information, but he took the bits and pieces and set them aside because all of it would be useful at some point. He just needed more so he knew where all of the pieces fit.
So far he had managed to make his visits and leave without detection. It amused him that she locked their time together away as if by banishing the memories she could forget that he had been there. She was only fooling herself. He shook himself out of his thoughts, glancing at Ava and relaxing when he realized she was busy studying the instrument panels.
“Let us adjourn to the dining hall.” His eyes moved over the human woman once more and he congratulated himself on his plan. “I find that my appetite has suddenly increased.”
Ava hid her revulsion at the path his thoughts had taken. She’d had no idea that Khivar had managed to infiltrate the ranks of the Royal Four. The Princess was known for being cold and distant, but after witnessing one of his forays into the other woman’s mind she could better understand why she was like that.
Based on his thoughts he had been unable to learn anything truly useful from the Princess, but Isabel was aware of the plan. That fact put all of them in jeopardy, her included. If Khivar were to make one of his visits and learn of her participation in their plan, her life would be forfeit. It seemed as if his main purpose was satisfying his base urges, but she didn’t fool herself into believing that he didn’t try to obtain information that he could use.
Isabel did have great mental abilities but was she truly a match for Khivar? In the past the Royal Four had not combined their abilities or fought for a common goal, but that had changed, and that meant the Princess’ involvement in the plan could be deadly. She would need to arrange a meeting with the Commander as soon as possible.
“Where are your thoughts, Ava?” Khivar asked as they entered the dining hall.
“Apologies, Khivar. I was considering possible strategies for carrying out my mission.”
“Of course,” he nodded. “You have the mind of a tactician and as you have new orders to carry out it makes sense that you would be preoccupied with strategy.” He motioned to the high-backed chair that sat to his right as he took his own seat at the head of the table.
She settled into the chair and waited until the meal had been served before speaking again. “I wasn’t aware that you speak the old language.”
“It’s a large part of our origin. Once it was the only spoken language on Antar,” his face turned into one of disgust, “before our ancestors began to allow other cultures to infiltrate ours. It is a simple language, easy to learn based on the basic vocabulary. I promise you, Ava, once Antar is back in the hands of its true rulers, the human language will be forbidden. Who needs words like love or gentle? There are only a few words to express feelings with the true Antarian language.”
“That makes sense,” she agreed. Her head was already spinning from all the mind reading and mental blocking she’d had to engage in, but she needed to concentrate once more to find out about the book’s location. If she managed to guide his thoughts in that direction, chances were good she would have easy access to the information.
“As for now, it is the perfect way to communicate with a handful of select individuals.” Khivar smiled to himself.
“No one will be able to translate it,” she agreed.
“Not even old, dying Zander,” he agreed proudly and took a huge bite of his meat, chewing on it in satisfaction before swallowing it with a sip of water from his goblet. “The key of translation has been in our hands for a long time.”
A flash of the book went through his mind and she concentrated on grabbing it and she followed its lead further into the dark depths of his mind. She rushed through several dark hallways within the castle, passed beyond several hidden doors until a small secret room appeared at the end of the path. Shelves lined the walls on every side, but her view was forced to the very end, where a small stone caught her attention. It had to be the location of the second book. “I have heard a legend of two books. I suppose it is true then.”
“Only those who own both have the key to the end of the war,” Khivar raised his chest with pride.
So he must have had a copy, Ava mused, or one of his spies was so deep inside the castle, that it could be dangerous for all of them.
“I have no doubt you have the power,” she said, mimicking a respectful and obedient bow of her head.
He studied her for a moment in silence, then placed his fork aside and got up to walk around her.
Her entire being went on alert, but she forced her body to hide her tension and waited.
“One of these days, you will achieve true greatness, Ava.” Khivar stood behind her and leaned forward until his breath hit her cheek while he spoke. “If you accomplish your mission with success,” his hand came up to her gaze and revealed the military insignia of his kingdom, “I will consider permitting you to command our armies.”
“Are you suggesting I might be promoted to Commander of your armies?”
“Deliver the woman to me, Ava, and it is within your grasp.”
It was a highly envied position, and one no woman on Antar had ever achieved. And it could be hers. In their military there was no higher rank for a soldier to aspire to, and she had long desired to hold the position.
“It is a position that would suit you well, but not under Khivar’s ruling hand.”
Zan’s words whispered through her head and her resolve hardened. She didn’t know what would happen once the plan was carried out and, if all went well, Antar’s enemies were forever removed as a threat. She had no way of knowing what the future held or what would be left to fight for once the war had ended. And it would end if they were successful. The Kingdom of Antar would be left in peace and as a warrior she would be even more out of place than she had always been.
“You know that to usurp Rath’s position you would have to kill him.”
She would see Rath dead but it wouldn’t be so that she could assume his role as Commander of Khivar’s armies. “It is a position worthy of sacrifice,” was all she said.
“I look forward to that battle.” He had known from the beginning that Rath and Ava would one day face off and one would destroy the other. They worked together out of duty but he was aware of their resentment for each other and he had fostered it. One day, when they finally engaged in battle, the time and effort he had expended would be well worth it.
“As do I.” Seeing Rath and Vilondra dead was what drove her onward. They would pay for executing her lover.
“Let us finish our meal while you tell me all about the Commander’s demise,” he said as he returned to his seat.
She bit back a sigh and drew on a hundred battle scenes; dredging up details she’d rather forget in an effort to entertain him with the Commander of Antar’s excruciating death.
Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:56 am
begonia9508: Khivar is definitely walking a fine line.
No, there is not guarantee with his plan, but it has potential to do damage.
Natalie36: That he is!
Eva: Ava will do her best to get word to them.
She’s really in an unenviable position right now. And she is indeed walking a very fine line.
If the news gets to Maria she’s likely to do something to put herself in danger.
keepsmiling7: Ah, yes, those pesky emotions.
Ava has long disliked Khivar’s motives, but unfortunately she’s not been in a position to do anything about them.
That face-off would be something else. And considering that she and Michael both have very personal reasons for wanting to be the one to see Rath dead... it should be interesting to see which of them gets that opportunity.
sarammlover: Ava will do her best. Lol, we know you did! You nailed that one right off!
Roswelllostcause: He is, and he will be.
“Do you think it’s true?” Liz wondered aloud when Maria and she stood in the kitchen after cleaning up together while the King and Commander of Antar discussed the schedule for the next day in the dining room. “Could their memories of Earth and their lives there be somehow retrieved by connecting with a human?”
“I don’t know if they can be retrieved or if it’s more like they just remember human habits and stuff,” Maria shrugged. “I think Michael’s already a lot more understanding of certain things than Max is, so it would make sense.”
“True,” she agreed and rested her back against the counter, arms crossed over her chest.
“I hope it doesn’t work the other way and I’m starting to speak like them,” Maria teased to lighten the mood, making Liz chuckle.
“I’ll warn you if that ever happens.”
“Thanks.” The blonde went to wash her hands and dried them off on a towel while she watched her friend. Something about her seemed to be off. “Is everything okay, Liz? You seem to be distracted and lost in thought.”
The brunette sighed and rubbed her face with her hands. “I’m okay. I’m just trying to make sense of all this. Ya know... connections, memories, arranged marriages, the war and faked deaths... I thought my life would be less complicated on Antar,” she snorted at the irony.
Maria chuckled. “Well, I guess that ship sailed when you made a move on Antar’s King.”
“Do you think it was a mistake?”
“I think only you can answer that question, Liz. Does it feel like a mistake to you?”
“I don’t know,” she exhaled loudly. “I don’t regret anything or let’s say I don’t want to regret anything, but I can’t shake the feeling that something bad’s gonna happen soon. Or maybe not bad but something that’ll cause changes.”
“Changes don’t have to be bad.”
“Guess not, but you never know right now. I just hate to live with so much uncertainty in life. When is it finally gonna get better, ya know?”
“No one knows that, but you shouldn’t lose hope, Liz. Where do you and the King stand right now? Last thing I heard was that you’d put some space between the two of you.”
“We’re seeing each other again,” she admitted and looked at her friend with a little smirk. “What can I say, he can be very convincing. He says he wants me, and all my worries aside, I want him as well.”
“You’re good for him.”
“Maybe, but I can’t stop wondering where it’ll lead, ya know?”
“No one can tell the future.”
“Yeah, but at least you have the connection with the commander. No one can ever separate you and it’s something soo... deep. No one will ever be able to force him to marry someone else.”
“That’s true, but it also means we’ll never be able to go our separate ways, Liz. If this war never comes to an end or if the wrong people find out about my connection to Michael, we can’t just decide to split up because it’s safer. It’s either they kill me or him or both of us. Or they could use it against us.”
“I don’t know. You saw me the last time when Michael was gone for a few days. There are people who know a lot about this kind of connection. What if they find out? What if they manage to separate us? There are so many what-ifs.”
Liz made a face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring you down with me, especially not on your birthday.”
The other woman smiled. “You didn’t. I’ve thought about this a lot already and I can’t change anything so I just decided to accept things the way they are and concentrate on the positive aspects of it.” She reached out and squeezed her friend’s arm. “Maybe you should do the same.”
Liz smiled. “Ya know, I think I feel a little better now.”
“Now tell me all about the positive aspects.”
Maria grinned from ear to ear. “Well, first there’s the fact that Michael’s the type of a man I always wanted. Ya know: strong, brooding, huge man, with a harsh and a soft side. And don’t ever tell him I said that about him.”
“Never,” Liz snickered.
“And the connection is helping me look past things that happened while I was with the enemy.”
“I guess that’s really a very positive aspect.”
“And I’ve started to feel like I belong somewhere, ya know? Earth will always be our home planet, but it hadn’t felt like a home for a very long time and neither did Antar. But now, finally, I think I could get that feeling of being home back one day.”
Home, Liz mused. Just a word and yet it wasn’t. She knew what her friend meant. Would there ever be a home for her again? A place where she would feel safe and wanted at the same time? Somehow it was hard to believe. “Are you and the Commander sharing quarters now?” she asked curiously. “I mean, just ‘sharing’ ya know? Like sleeping in the same quarters, having all your meals together an’ stuff.” She knew it was way too soon for them to have sex. Or was it?
“Yeah, I think we do all of that,” Maria admitted with a little blush.
The brunette’s eyebrows shot skyward at her friend’s nonverbal admission. “Really,” she mused, the single word both question and comment. “So you guys have...?”
“The connection’s very strong and I don’t understand how it works, but,” she glanced at the wide doorway that led into the dining room, “I’m glad that it does.” And what she had just told Liz was the truth; she didn’t have any understanding of the connection or how and why it worked, but she was grateful for it. She knew without it she would still be trapped in a hellish existence, unable to escape from Rath, physically, mentally or emotionally. Without the connection there was no way possible she’d be able to be as involved or intimate with Michael as she was. Not this soon and maybe even not ever.
“What do you think the connection is? I mean, do you think it’s some type of sentient thing or is it just how Antarians describe the bond between couples that are emotionally intimate?”
Maria considered the question. It wasn’t the first time she had wondered about the connection, but regardless of any speculation they might make, she knew they had no way of truly knowing the answer. “I think it’s a little of both. For Antarians, experiencing such a level of intimacy must seem absurd and so foreign. They’re emotionally distant, they do their best not to invest themselves in anything that might compromise their ability to be completely rational beings, and they refuse to become involved in situations that might draw emotions out.”
“Yeah, I’ve wondered about that. Can you imagine how boring sex between two Antarians must be?” She snorted. “No emotions, completely rational, and not an ounce of true emotional connection between them?”
She made a face. “That’s even worse than just boring!”
“What is it you find boring?” Michael asked as he entered the kitchen ahead of the King.
“Sex between Antarians,” Liz blurted out. “It has to be incredibly dry.”
“Dry?” he echoed, his expression revealing his confusion at her choice of words.
“Well, I mean, not literally. I’m just saying...” She shot a look at Maria.
“What she means is that without any emotional investment and considering how rational Antarians are, that it would just be a very clinical rather than an enjoyable experience.” She smacked his arm when he tried to maintain his clueless expression and turned to look at Liz. “He knows what you were saying and I just wasted seconds of my life that I’ll never get back explaining something he already knows.”
He chuckled. “And the reason why you’re both wondering about Antarian sex is?”
Max turned his eyes towards Liz in interest as well. The whole dinner had been confusing and he wondered if he would ever be able to follow a conversation between the two women without feeling lost more than half the time.
“Just human curiosity,” the brunette told him blandly.
“Are you done plotting tomorrow’s events?” Maria wanted to know before Michael could get suspicious and found out what the conversation had really been about.
“We are,” he agreed and looked around the clean kitchen. “Where is Amela?”
“Her caretaker picked her up a while ago. She was very tired, so I bet she’s already asleep now.”
“Good,” his gaze raked over her body and his lips turned up in a lopsided grin when their eyes met. “I’ll have to get up early, so we should retire to our quarters.”
“Subtle,” Liz rolled her eyes, but put on an innocent look when he turned and glared at her. “Have a nice night.”
The King’s eyes shifted from one person to another, trying to decipher what was going on. He had little understanding of human irony or sarcasm, but even he could see in the sparkling eyes of his lover that she was referring to something more than what had been said.
“Good night,” Maria said and nudged Michael in the right direction, pleased when he followed her without another comment.
Max waited until the other couple had left the room before he took a step forward and cornered Liz against the counter. “Is that what you humans call teasing?”
“That’s right,” she smirked. “It’s a lot of fun when you know how to use it and when.”
“Fun?” He tipped his head to one side and studied her beautiful face. “The Commander did not look amused.”
“Well, I didn’t say it was fun for him.”
“So it is one-sided?”
She thought about it for a moment. “Not necessarily.”
He sighed and shook his head. “The human language is complex enough on its own. But then you can use the exact same words and it can be interpreted as hurtful or humorous.”
“It’s all about the tone of voice and the expressions you use,” she agreed.
He studied her for a moment. “You are not aware of how confusing this is.”
“No,” she laughed, “because I’m used to it but I can teach you to understand it better.” Her arms came up to wrap around his neck loosely. “Do you think what the Commander said is right? That a connection with a human would automatically introduce you further to human habits?”
“It could be. It seems to work with him. We have never considered the possibility though. We do not even know if a forced connection with a human is possible.”
Her fingers twined in the hair that brushed the edge of his collar as she looked up at him through her eyelashes. “Why does it have to be forced?”
“Why?” He frowned at the question.
“Yeah, why do you assume it has to be forced?”
“As you have witnessed with your own eyes the Commander shares a connection with Maria. We believe it to be a true connection.”
“Um-hmm, and I’m not disputing the validity of that connection. I’m just questioning why you believe any other type of connection would have to be forced.”
Max felt like he was once again out of his depth. “I do not know of other connections.” He frowned. “The true connection requires no actual effort by either party...” he trailed off when she started shaking her head. “You disagree?”
“I think regardless of the fact that this mysterious true connection brings two people together, it still requires some effort. But setting that aside, your people do experience a connection other than the true one, right?”
“Yes, there is the forced connection.”
Liz nodded as she mulled that over. “Humans have been connecting with each other since the beginning of time, and the connection between two people, when it’s right,” she shook her head. “When it’s right, it’s everything.”
He straightened up as he considered what she was saying. He had never heard anything to suggest that humans were capable of establishing connections. “You have experienced this type of connection?”
“I’ve...” She thought about Jack. She had loved him and they’d shared a deep bond but she didn’t know if that really qualified as the type of connection she was talking about.
Max sighed and nodded. “The human male you had relations with on Earth,” he guessed.
“Maybe,” she told him hesitantly. “We didn’t have the time to find out. It’s a process that sometimes takes years.”
“Years?” He frowned. That was a big difference. Antarian connections didn’t take that long to establish.
“Yeah, years. Sometimes you feel very strongly and connected to someone but then sometimes it vanishes over time. Guess that’s a big difference between human and Antarian connections, huh?”
He nodded slowly.
“It’s because human bonds are 99% based on emotions and feelings, while yours are…” she frowned, “well, I don’t know what they are. I get that the true connection is basically for the powerful offspring, but what’s the reason behind those forced ones you’re talking about?”
“Two reasons that I know of.” He shifted his stance and brought himself a little closer towards her until his chest brushed hers. “First, it makes two individuals stronger. It pools the forces of both. Each party profits from the other’s strength and skills.”
“Does that mean if you ever connect with the Princess, you’ll get the same mental powers like her and she would be able to heal?” If that was the truth, could she really stand in the way? Wouldn’t it help Antar?
“Not exactly,” he shook his head. “At least not from the things I’ve read and Alex has discovered. Our powers are individual. I was referring to the learnable skills. IF I connected with her, I would have a better understanding of certain military tactics and ways to fight, while she would develop a deeper understanding of politics for example.”
“Oh. I see. And the second reason?”
“To create an offspring of course.”
Create. She made a face. “In the pods?”
He nodded. “In the pods or the natural way if someone wanted it.”
“Interesting,” she mused and bit her lower lip while she thought about something, unaware of Max’ stare. “That the reason why you don’t have any kind of protection?”
Max frowned. “What do you mean? The Commander does all within his power, to-“
She giggled. “That’s not what I meant. I was talking about birth control, Max. Your women can’t get pregnant without a connection?”
“No, they can’t. Or at least my Advisor believes it to be true and it makes sense.”
“It does,” she agreed. “Very practical. But then again, how do connected people handle birth control?”
It was his turn to chuckle. “They don’t need to. The only reason for venery is the creation of a child.”
“So, you’re tellin’ me the only reason you have sex is to produce a child?” Liz made a face when he nodded. “You don’t just have sex because you enjoy it?” She cleared her throat when he just stared at her. “Okay, even when there aren’t emotions involved sex is still fun and if I recall correctly you enjoyed that blowjob.”
“That is what you call...?” he asked as he gestured to his lower body.
“When I went down on you, yes.”
“You did not permit me to give you a blowjob,” he said, trying out the unfamiliar word and frowning deeply when she burst into a fit of giggles. He straightened up, confused by her reaction. “Why do you find this humorous? I may lack experience, but I assure you – “
“No, no,” Liz panted, leaning forward to rest her forehead against his chest as she wiped tears of laughter from her eyes. “It’s not that, and I’m sure what you lack in experience you’ll more than make up for with enthusiasm. You just don’t normally hear anyone say they gave a woman a blowjob, that’s more a phrase used for guys.”
“This is all very confusing,” he grumbled.
“I’ll tell you what. Why don’t we just go to your quarters and get naked, climb up on that ridiculously huge bed you have, and I’ll show you what I like?”
“That is only fair as you currently have that advantage over me.”
“Max, you’re a guy, and I’ve never heard of a man who didn’t enjoy a blowjob.”
“Perhaps, but I have the disadvantage of not knowing what you like.” He took her hand and stepped back. “I suppose it is past time to retire to my quarters as I am looking forward to learning what it is you enjoy.”
“Once you’ve learned a few lessons about sex we’re gonna work on contractions.” She shot a teasing smile at him. “I fully intend to obliterate your stiff manner of speaking.”
“I do not understand, but I am certain that lesson can be undertaken at a much later time.” He pulled her with him and they left through one of the secret corridors.
Posted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 5:50 am
Earth2Mama: Lol, he really is! He’s got a good teacher though.
sarammlover: Well... you can, but um, well... our serious couple kinda took over this next update. We may be getting back to Max and Liz in the next one though!
keepsmiling7: There are definitely plenty of complications, but they keep it interesting.
Natalie36: They are pretty funny, aren’t they? Not this chapter, but maybe the next one.
kismet: Lol, should be quite a lesson.
How about the one after this one?
Roswelllostcause: Thanks for reading!
begonia9508: There’s the possibility that the more time he spends with Liz, the more likely it is that he’ll begin to recall those memories. Yeah, lol, that doesn’t bear imagining!
Max is wondering the same thing!
“Are there any other human birthday traditions I should know about?” Michael asked when they entered his quarters through the secret passageway. He hated to use them since they were dark, musty and dirty, but he had already gotten so used to it by now and the fact that he was dead to his people wasn’t as unbearable as it had been just a day ago.
“Hmm, I don’t know. People had a lot of ways of celebrating birthdays, ya know? Getting together and having cake or dinner was the most common thing, but there are so many things humans do for their birthdays.”
“And is there something you always did? Or something you wanted to do but couldn’t?”
“The most important thing is to spend it with the people you care about, so I don’t have any complaints,” she stripped out of her sweater and went into the bathroom. “I do have one birthday tradition though.”
“You have?” he called from the bedroom while he checked every window and door to make sure they were still locked the way they had been left. “And what tradition is that?”
“Taking a long hot bath with a good book and a glass of wine,” she told him when she joined him in the room.
He turned to look at her and then glanced behind her into the open bathroom. The faucet of the tub was running, so she was obviously planning to take a bath now as well. “The book and the bath won’t be a problem. But wine? That’s what you call alcohol, right?”
“It is,” she agreed.
“We don’t have anything like that. It’s forbidden because Antarians react to it so heavily.”
“I know, and the wine isn’t really an important part of this tradition,” she smirked and went over to stand in front of him. “Neither is the book.”
“No?” He tilted his head and studied her expression. “So it’s all about the hot water?”
Maria chuckled. “And about the things you enjoy while being in the hot water.” His expression turned into one of confusion so she went on. “A book can be relaxing or exciting, it will be entertaining for sure, but I think tonight there is something else I wanna take into the tub with me.”
“Something I could help you with?” he asked. He had a clue what she was talking about since he had gotten used to her teasing by now, but he didn’t want to just assume the wrong thing.
“Definitely,” she agreed and stood on her tiptoes to kiss him briefly.
“You are suggesting that we share the bath?”
“Would you object?”
His knees bent as he wrapped his arms around her waist and he lifted her up against him as he straightened once more. “If that is your wish I have no objections.” He much preferred the convenience and speed of a shower, and he had certainly never shared a bath with another person, but for her he was willing to do so.
“It is my wish,” she whispered as her fingertips traced over his features.
His lips moved over hers, taking his time as he explored before speaking again. “Can I assume that we will not be reading a book?”
Maria smiled. “I think you can safely assume that.”
“Then perhaps you should turn the faucet off before the water spills over.”
“Oh!” She wiggled out of his embrace, enjoying the growl that caused his chest to vibrate. She leaned over and reached for the knobs, shutting the water supply off. “I should warn you though. There’s a dress code for this kind of thing.”
Michael frowned. “You expect me to dress for this birthday bath?”
“I do, yes.”
He shook his head at her. “I find this tradition to be quite odd, Maria.”
She had to bite the inside of her cheek to maintain a straight face. “You’ll want to put on your birthday suit.”
“Antarians do not celebrate such occasions therefore we do not maintain wardrobes for these functions.”
“Michael,” she turned to face him and reached out to drag one finger along the collar of the tee shirt he had worn for the evening, “when you’re born on Antar, or hatch, whatever you wanna call it, what’re you wearing?”
“There is no need for covering within the pods.”
“So when you hatch you’re...” she made a rolling motion with her right hand.
“Naked.” His right eyebrow lifted as he suddenly caught on to what she was saying. “I see. So on the day you are born, or the day one emerges from the pods, that is what you consider a birthday and what you’re wearing – or not wearing as the case may be, is this birthday suit.” He nodded and grinned when she smiled. “Then yes, I do in fact possess the required uniform for this tradition.”
“And do you think you can get down to wearing it soon?” she asked, starting to pull on the first buttons of her shirt.
“Soon enough,” he agreed and stood close in front of her, brushing her hands away. “First I could help with yours.”
“I think that’s a good idea, Commander.” She stood back and watched as his huge hands fumbled with the buttons on her shirt. They were small and he soon grew impatient, so she wasn’t surprised when he suddenly made a swiping motion with his hand and the fabric fell open immediately. “You know that was one of my favourite pieces of clothing.”
“It’s easy to fix,” he dismissed her and placed his hands on her shoulders to brush the fabric down her arms until it landed on the tiles of the bathroom floor. “But I will attend to that later.”
His eyes roamed over her upper body. “Not anymore,” he smirked and leaned down to place tender kisses against her collarbone and shoulder. “You are perfection, woman.”
Maria blushed. His words were honest. Sometimes the way that Antarians spoke could actually be quite affecting, she mused and reached for the hem of his tee shirt. “It’s only fair that I help you as well.”
Michael agreed with a grunt and leaned back long enough to let her get rid of the clothing covering his upper body. He watched as her eyes locked on his chest and he flexed the muscles there, grinning when her expression shifted at the movement.
“I definitely like what I see as well,” she told him boldly and immediately went for his pants.
“Who is impatient now?” he asked with a quirked eyebrow.
“Not me,” she denied. “But we don’t want the water to get cold, do we?”
He stepped close to her when she pulled on his waistband. “You say that to a man who’s able to heat it up with a simple move of his hand?”
“I forgot about that,” she dismissed him and opened the belt. “Obviously I’m impatient. But it’s my birthday and it’s like unwrapping a present so sue me.”
“Sue you?” He was confused again.
Maria grinned and placed a kiss against his chest while slowly sliding down the zipper of his pants. “Just a saying.”
He could concern himself with her words and their meaning at a later time, he decided when her knuckles grazed him. For now there were other things to focus on. Ridding her of her clothes was of the utmost importance at the moment. It was also a task that proved to be slightly more difficult than he had expected when she slipped out of his grasp and took a step back to look at him.
He exhaled loudly through his nose when he reached for her and she shook her head at him. “I am getting impatient.”
She chuckled and let one finger trail down from his chest to his abdomen and lower, running the tip over the waistband that was defying gravity by hanging onto his hips. “You’re not alone, Commander.”
“Then I suggest we continue in a more satisfactory manner,” he growled as he moved too quickly for her to escape him. He swept her up in his arms and took her mouth in a heated kiss. “You are certain the bath is necessary?”
Maria’s fingertips trailed over his muscled shoulders and back, enjoying the feel of raw strength and leashed power in him. “I’m absolutely certain it’s an experience you’ll enjoy.”
“Naked and you,” he shrugged, “I already anticipate enjoying it.” He nuzzled her neck. “Perhaps if we could finish dressing for the occasion we could enjoy it even sooner.”
She ran her tongue over the tendons that stood out on his neck, unable to resist sinking her teeth into them. “Put me down so I can finish undressing you,” she whispered into his ear.
He shivered when her heated breath ghosted over his skin and he released her legs, putting her down on her own two feet. He watched her every move as her hands and lips mapped his upper body and he had to remind himself not to rush her when she finally hooked her thumbs in his waistband and began to slide his pants down over his hips.
Her lips formed a smile when every bit of the fabric covering his body was gone. “You’re really impressive by all definitions, Commander.”
His chest swelled at her words and before she could start her teasing games again, he used one large hand on her hip to move her closer to him so he could strip the rest of the clothes from her body as well.
Maria watched him as he did. There was a slight rush to his actions yet he was very gentle with her and her body. It was such a stark contrast to his expression that it amazed her and made her wonder again how and when things had changed so fast.
“You better believe it,” he mumbled against her lips when they were both completely naked.
“What, now you’re reading my mind?”
“Not intentionally,” he clarified. “But you were thinking too hard, woman.”
“Well,” she pressed herself against him, enjoying the warmth radiating from his body since the rooms of the castle were mostly cold in spite the heat outdoors, “I think there are ways to keep me from thinking.”
He took her hand in his and guided her over to the tub. “You go first, birthday girl.”
“Okay,” she agreed and lifted her leg to dip her foot into the water. “Ow, I think it’s a little too hot.”
“You sure?” He leaned forward and tested it with his hand. It didn’t feel too hot to him, but his skin probably wasn’t as sensitive as hers so he stretched his fingers over the surface and used his powers to cool it down a few degrees. “It should be to your liking now.”
She dipped her toes in again and smiled. “There are definitely some advantages to being with an Antarian. Half-Antarian anyway.”
“I hope there are more reasons than just my ability to alter the temperature of the water,” he told her dryly and watched as her beautiful body sank into the hot liquid.
“There are,” she didn’t let go of his hand and now tugged on it. “Time to join me, Michael. Oh no, wait-”
He was about to step in, but stopped in his tracks. “What is wrong?”
“Nothing,” she smiled. “But could you get the little TV-device you brought the other day? I saw there’s some music saved up on it as well. A little music would be really nice, I miss it so much!”
“Music,” he murmured to himself, shaking his head and going to do as she had asked. He wasn’t certain why she felt it necessary, but in his experience, there were times when it was better to forego the questions in order to reach your objective. This was one of those times.
Maria leaned back in the tub, her gaze following him as he went in search of the device, content to enjoy the view. He was completely unselfconscious as he padded through the rooms without a stitch on, just as confident in his nudity as he was fully armoured on the battlefield. She studied his body, appreciating it, admiring it, and seeing very little evidence of the many wounds she knew he had suffered in battle. The Antarians ability to heal fascinated her. She reached up, crossing her arm over her chest so that her fingertips could trace over one of the scars her captor had left on her. The ability to heal was definitely one power she would like to have. It would be nice to be with the Commander without the visual reminder of what had been done to her against her will.
“Do you feel that I see you as less of a woman because of it?”
She started at his voice, so lost in her thoughts that she missed him coming back even though he was in her direct line of sight the entire time. “What?”
“The scar,” he set the device down within her reach and with his other hand he trailed his fingers over the raised scar tissue. He gave her a gentle nudge and climbed into the tub behind her, settling down with his legs bracketing her body.
“I can’t see the whole thing but it must be hideous.” She felt the connection asserting itself as the memories of her time as a prisoner were called to the front of her mind and within moments they were tamped back down and a wave of calm washed over her in place of the remembered terror.
“There is no shame,” he murmured as he lowered his head to brush his lips over the scar tissue.
“I know.” She tried to distance herself from her thoughts and reached out to fiddle with the device he had retrieved, finding the music and adjusting the volume to an acceptable level.
“Of course. They’re proof that I survived.” She sighed, feeling like the reminder had ruined the evening. This wasn’t the way she had envisioned the night ending. She didn’t want to feel like a survivor or a freed prisoner. She wanted to feel like a woman worthy of a man like the Commander.
Michael frowned when her thoughts broadcast themselves to him. “How can you question that?”
She shook her head. She hadn’t meant to. “Sometimes doubts just creep up. Humans aren’t always rational.”
“Face me, woman.” Before this night was over he would erase any doubt she had that she wasn’t desirable and didn’t deserve someone of his standing.
Maria turned her head to look over her shoulder, but he shook his head when that wasn’t enough for him.
He used one big hand at the back of her knee to tug her around and after a moment she gave in and shifted around to look at him. From her body language he could tell the position was uncomfortable though, so he stretched his legs so she could put hers over his and behind his back, and then raised them again which automatically allowed her use his knees as a backrest. “I thought we had already eliminated any talk of your worthiness as the woman at my side.”
“I know we did,” she admitted quietly and dropped her gaze to the water’s surface.
“So tell me why we need to discuss this again.” Michael used one hand to lift her chin so he could pin her eyes to his for this conversation.
“We don’t have to,” Maria denied. “Look, having doubts now and then is a human thing. You can’t erase it. No matter how irrational they are or how many times you’ve already convinced yourself otherwise, some days they raise their heads up out of nowhere and others they’re completely gone again.”
He studied her expression thoughtfully. “You are trying to tell me that there will always be times when you will question our connection and why it has chosen you.”
“That or other things,” she agreed. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean I’d want out or anything. It’s just something you need to get past every now and then.” Her hands wandered around his neck slowly. “You’re welcome to help with that.”
Michael grabbed the backs of her thighs and pulled her closer until she was pressed up against him completely. His forehead rested against hers as one hand travelled up over her body to her shoulder blade, where it moved over the outline of the scar gently. “I could make it disappear, if that’s what you wish.” He kissed her lips gently. “But if you want my opinion on this, you should wear it with pride. It doesn’t mark you as a victim; it honours you for being a brave woman.”
She shuddered lightly at the feel of his lips brushing the ridge of scar tissue once again. The connection had a way of distancing her from the memories of her time in Rath’s camp, for which she would be eternally grateful. Maybe it was vanity that made her want the ugly reminder gone, she didn’t know. She thought about Michael’s offer. His words were sincere and his belief in what he was saying was absolute. In his eyes there was no question that a scar signified a victory and looking into the dark depths when he raised his head at her urging she could see no evidence that he saw her as a victim.
“I’ll think about it,” she said finally. “But not right now.”
“No?” He quirked an eyebrow when she shifted against him, her intent clear.
“Nope,” she leaned forward to nip at his earlobe before sucking on it. “I think there’s something that needs my immediate attention.” Her hand slipped below the water to stroke him, effectively drawing his focus away from her insecurities and back to more pressing matters. The fact that he’d set his own needs and desires aside to reassure her spoke volumes, but for now she was finished with that topic and she fully intended to reward him for his patience and understanding.
“I am in complete agreement,” he muttered against her lips. He growled when she used his shoulders as leverage to raise herself up and then agonizingly slowly lowered her body to take him in.
Her head fell back and she groaned deeply when a wave of emotions rolled over her unexpectedly. It was a mixture of pure pleasure, love and something she couldn’t describe but would call fulfilment if she had to give it a name.
One of his arms wrapped around her upper body for support while his free hand dug into her long hair to hold it firmly. “You will be my weakness, woman,” he spoke against the pulsating skin of her throat and bit down on it hard enough to leave a little mark. He knew it was true and although he was comfortable with the connection and what it probably meant, he didn’t like the fact that the enemy would now be able to hold something over him to make a threat.
If their enemies ever found out about their connection, if they were ever to get a hold of her again, he wouldn’t be able to adhere to the safest strategy for his people and himself. He’d go on a rescue mission even if it meant his certain death. A real death this time.
Before his lips found hers for a heated kiss, he locked those thoughts away. He was still learning to not transmit all of his thoughts and emotions towards her with their strong connection and while he had found a way to gain some control over this, it was still hard to do in a moment of less concentration. And some things – like the flashes they both got now and then – still happened with no way to prevent them.
Once she had adjusted to him, she started to move her lower body against him, but with her legs wrapped around his sides she couldn’t find enough hold to move like she wanted and she started to pull her legs towards her so she could kneel on the tub’s surface.
Michael stopped her when he realized what she was planning to do.
“Let me move,” she grumbled against his lips.
“No,” he told her simply and trailed his lips over her throat before using both hands on her shoulders to push her upper body backwards gently. The movement brought their joined bodies into a different angle, which made her gasp.
“No?” she asked breathlessly.
“Your hearing is good, woman,” he smirked and trailed his hands down her body, stopping to pinch both of her nipples at the same time. Her groan made him harden inside her even more. “You’ll hurt your knees on the hard surface. I know a more comfortable way.”
Instead of talking, he took her hips in a tight grip and lifted her body up easily just to slide her down on his whole length a second later.
Her hands automatically moved behind her and she steadied herself by resting on his muscled thighs. “I think that works too,” she agreed weakly, her eyes focused on the taunt muscles of his upper arms.
“You are beautiful,” his gaze wandered over her body admiringly while he repeated the move in slow motion a few times.
He was speaking but the waves of pleasure rolling through her body left her mind incapable of focusing on his words. Her teeth sank into her bottom lip and her nails dug into his legs as his movements brought her closer to the brink. The entire universe seemed to shrink down to this one moment, to the space they occupied, but as he increased the pace and she came apart that universe exploded like a supernova.
Michael caught her when she collapsed against his chest, boneless and sated, and he grinned, quite pleased with himself. He had yet to achieve his own peak and he fully intended to pursue it just as soon as she had recovered enough to continue. His hands wandered over her back, soothing the tremors still travelling through her body.
“Definitely have to make this a regular thing, Commander,” she said with a husky laugh.
“Not just a birthday tradition?”
“Mmm... no.” She pressed little kisses to his shoulder and when she could gather up the energy to move she lifted her head to meet his smug gaze. Her fingers threaded through his hair and she revelled in his groan when she rolled her hips. “And it’s your turn,” she whispered.
His hands clenched at her hips. He fought the urge to control her movements because he wanted her to decide the pace and intensity.
“You’re a bit impatient?” she breathed into his ear.
Instead of an answer, he just grunted and relaxed his grip on her, letting his hands slide down over her thighs instead. Her skin felt soft and was a stark contrast to his rough palms, but she didn’t seem to mind. No, instead she squeezed her inner walls around him in response.
His head fell back against the tub when the sensation became too much. With closed eyes he concentrated on their joined bodies and the little sounds Maria made, but he soon felt something else; the tingling on his skin where he touched her body and the slight dizziness that came with an approaching flash.
It stayed in the background though, waiting there to happen but was still out of reach yet. His body tightened when she shifted her hips and brought them together in an even more intense angle. A warm pressure was forming in his stomach and a moment later he groaned loudly as his orgasm washed over him so hard and quick, that he was almost surprised by it. He felt how he spread his semen while he was buried deep inside of her at the same time as his arms came around her body to crush her to him. The bond, which had been between them since the day they had connected, seemed to tighten while he caught his breath and when his body slowly relaxed, his mind seem to take over again. The vision, which had been there in the background, was pushing forward again, letting him see only darkness at first.
Maria could feel it coming, too. She wasn’t at a point where she was afraid of them anymore and she had long accepted that she couldn’t help but accept them happening whenever they got intimate. This felt a little different though. It was like she was pulled into it with all she had and there was no chance to prevent it. Even letting him go to interrupt it wasn’t possible.
The darkness came to life with a sharp burst of white light. Rushed movements and hushed voices could be heard, but the most outstanding sound was the fast beating of a heart. It was a dull, strong sound, which shifted more and more into the background when the light faded. Into view came the backside of the woman. She was wearing a long crème-white dress that reached her ankles.
“It’s time,” a voice said and the woman turned around slowly, her face lit with a beautiful smile and one of her hands resting on her very obvious pregnant belly protectively.
Maria blinked when the vision suddenly faded like a bursting bubble and she found herself staring back into Michael’s dark eyes. The woman in the vision had been her. A very pregnant version of her.