As approach the end of one deadline, my thoughts turn to new projects. What will I write next?
Yeah, I have another that waits, that I know my publisher wants, but sometimes the right side of the brain needs to work on something different. Call it a neural vacation and I'm definitely sitting on that beach.
Will it be a comic romance--a contemporary? You ever feel like switching gears and changing it up with something very different from the normal?
Yeah, that's where I'm at. Something different. Sometimes all it takes is a suggestion from a friend for me to swap out the muse. (You know who you are.) So, I've swapped the muse and I'm sinking my teeth into some comedy.
Here's something to sink your teeth into.
All rights are the intellectual property of the author. No part may be copied or reproduced without the permission of the author.
***Warning. The following story contains erotic elements, explicit language and violence. Read at your own risk.***
Ursus stared at the door to secure containment. They never needed cells before. The enemy had always been exterminated in the field. The old city’s cells were refurbished for this one prisoner.
Pilot’s gut told him she held the key and he’d yet to be wrong. Ursus pressed his hand into the pad and the door slid open. A soldier standing at the entrance directed him to a visual scanner on the wall. Ursus braced his face against the device and waited while a nano-beam measured the patterns in his eyes.
“ID confirmed,” the computer chirped and a second set of doors opened leading to the cells.
“I’ll go alone from here,” Ursus said. The soldier saluted and stepped back, allowing him access. Ursus walked through and the door shut behind him. He blinked to let his eyes adjust to the dim light.
Tesza sat up and rubbed her eyes. The ringing on the metal flooring signaled someone’s approach. Since yesterday when they’d brought her in, nothing but quiet. Not a single Kori showed their face. She’d begun to wonder if they’d locked her in and left her, to starve or drown when the city flooded.
The door to her cell swung open and the outline of a tall man filled the frame. His form, backlit from the lights, darkened his countenance. Tesza narrowed her eyes, squinting. She scooted back on the bunk until she wedged her back firmly in the corner.
Her heart pounded, threatening to break her ribs. What did the man want? She’d remembered the woman in the courtyard. They didn’t just kill them anymore. The Kori were getting bold.
He took two steps into the room and kicked the door shut behind him. She jumped and her breath hitched. Gods. Ursus.
“I thought I told you to get out of the city.”
Tesza burst into tears. She swallowed hard, unable to speak.
He strode over to her and grabbed her arms, hauling her to her feet, yanking her closer. “Do you have any idea what kind of mess you’re in?”
Tesza nodded. She knew when she saw him again it would be at the cost of her life, but what did it matter? Without her people and that she’d been cast out into the wilderness, she’d have died anyway.
He let her go, tipping her face up. “What am I going to do with you?” His touch felt soft, bordering on gentle. Strong hands that looked as if they could crush upon contact, handled her as though she’d fracture. So contradictory, her Ursus.
Her Ursus? He wasn’t anything to her but an enemy. Tesza yanked away.
“Don’t turn from me.” He grabbed her chin and moved her face to his. His eyes took on a hard edge. “Ever.”
He eyed the wound on the side of her face. Tesza instinctively reached to cover it, and he grabbed her wrist, stopping her.
“Who did this?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes,” he growled. Ursus touched the wound lightly, then turned her head to the light to examine it closer. “Did they do this because of me?”
“Your people are barbarians.”
“As are yours.”
Ursus dropped his hand and stepped back. “Gather your things, you’re coming with me.”
He nodded, opened the door and gestured for her to walk through ahead of him. “That will change.”
“They will execute you for helping me.”
“Who said I was helping you?”
Was he helping her? Tesza stepped past him and into a corridor. “If you’re not helping me, then what are you doing?”
“I need information, Tesza.”
The words stung her heart. Tesza’s spirit sank. How could she be so foolish to believe he cared about her, wanted her?
“My feelings for you haven’t changed.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “I am bound by duty to interrogate you. To retrieve the information I seek by any means necessary.”
He grabbed her arm and directed her toward the next door. “Don’t say anything and keep your eyes down.”
The door opened and Ursus shoved her through.
“Sir, you cannot take the prisoner from here.”
“Don’t question my tactics.”
“Stand down soldier or your ass will be in the brig.”
The soldier saluted and stepped back. Tesza kept her eyes averted, but could feel the disgust in the man as she passed. They all felt that way. Except Ursus.
“I have to call the General to confirm your orders.” The soldier let the door to outside shut, prohibiting their exit. Tesza could hear the rise and falls of his tones as he spoke through his headset. Ursus developed a tick in his jaw as he stared at the soldier. The soldier’s eyes flitted from Tesza to Ursus. When she made eye contact, the soldier raised his weapon.
Ursus reached over and pushed the barrel away. “Leave her.” Tesza dropped her eyes.
“Yes sir.” The soldier pressed his palm into the pad and the door opened. “I was protecting you. They can suck your soul through their eyes.”
“They are as humanoid as you or I. Do I look as though she’s sucked my soul?”
“No sir. The prisoner is yours. General Pilot asked me to relay a message. Storms are approaching from the east. You have less time.”
Ursus nodded and snagged Tesza’s arm, pushing her through the door.
As soon as the door shut, Ursus barked. “I told you to keep your eyes down. They’ll shoot you. The men are afraid of your people.”
“Why should they be afraid of us? We’re not the ones slaughtering others because of their race.”
“People are afraid of what they don’t understand. No matter what my people do to extinguish yours, you magically survive. The soldiers are a superstitious lot, raised from childhood to believe the Kalos are evil. Beliefs ingrained from birth are not easily dismissed.”
“We’re not evil.” Accept for the gift she held.
“The Kori know nothing different. To them, you’re beasts,” he said. “Enough talk.” Ursus urged her forward. “Be quiet. Keep your eyes down or next time I might not be able to stop them.”
Tesza kept her mouth shut. Everywhere they went she could feel eyes on her. The urge to look up and see who, was almost overwhelming, but Ursus’s warning stopped her. There was no question they’d shoot her.
He opened a door and shoved her through. As soon as it shut, he spun her around and pushed her back against the wall. Both hands went to the sides of her face. “I’ve mourned you every day since you left.” His mouth connected and he worked his lips softly over hers, coaxing her mouth open.
Bolts of heat quickened her blood. Lust, undeniable lust. Tesza grabbed his hips and pulled him into her. No matter that he wanted information that could locate her people, that he would kill them, that she could kill him, desire blossomed in the pit of her stomach and worked through her in an intense heat. Gods she wanted him. Needed him.
He groaned and deepened the kiss.
He missed her?
For the moment she’d forgotten the injury on her face. But when his hand grazed it, sharp pains shot from around the wound. Tezsa flinched.
Ursus stepped back and tipped her head to the side. “We need to get some ointment on that.”
“Don’t bother. I’m nothing without it.”
“It will scar or the infection could spread.”
But the infection hadn’t spread, not the one he was talking about. Not yet. If she had anything to do about it, never. “Why do I care? I’m already dead.”
“Because you’re not going to die. Not while you’re in my custody.”
“You don’t understand. I want to die.” Tezsa twisted away from him. “I have to die. I can’t hurt you and I can’t betray my people if I do.”
“You still claim them. Even if they did this to you?” He turned her around and lightly touched her cheek next to the cut.
“I did that to myself.”
“You cut the mark from your face?”
“No. My actions caused this. I’m a traitor.”