I guess I should probably explain something before I get to the next chapter. We're at chapter 11 now and you're not going to see 12. Sorry 12 is bad ju ju. Everytime I put it in a draft, something happens to the chapter, or the story, or my computer. Seriously--it's cursed. So like broken mirrors and walking under ladders, I simply avoid having a chapter 12 until I send it off to my editor or for someone to read.
Which begs me to ask, anybody out there having any routines or odd quirks when they write???
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***Warning. The following story contains erotic elements, explicit language and violence. Read at your own risk.***
At first she felt the hand on her shoulder as someone slid under the blanket next to her. Tesza scooted into his warmth. Ursus had already dressed. She sniffed and inhaled the savory scents of breakfast.
Hard to believe he was a cold-blooded killer, the way he cared for her. His hand slid around her waist and lower, touching her thigh and sliding between her legs, slipping inside her. Tesza moaned and pushed into his probing fingers, savoring the touch.
“Forget him, Tesza. You’re mine now. I’ve waited a long time to consummate our marriage.”
Tesza gasped, her eyes snapped open and she tried to pull away from the man that held her, nuzzling her neck.
Shit. Where had Jarod come from? He was within his rights to claim her. All her life she’d waited for her moment with him, now it seemed diminished, not what she’d really sought.
“Get off me, Jarod.”
“You’re my wife. The people demanded I give you to him in hopes you would seduce away his life and that of our enemies. It’s sat like acid in my gut for days. I haven’t slept, I haven’t eaten. I can’t make the pain of my decision go away. I want to erase his touch from your skin, his image from your eyes. I need to make you forget him. I will make you forget him.” Pain carried on his voice. His hand withdrew.
He pulled on her, ripping her soul down the middle. Gods she loved him too. Needed him.
But she’d betrayed him, her people, by giving the cure to Ursus. The tone of his words made it clear. He loved her, wanted her, and he hurt for sharing her with Ursus. He pulled back and rolled her over, gazing in her eyes. “I can wait for you to come to me. But I won’t wait forever. Forget him. He’s dead, and soon all his kind will be.”
“You’ve infected him.” He stroked her cheek, touching her softly. “You’ve saved us.”
“I can’t be responsible for killing all those people.” Should she tell him she’d betrayed him? No.
“I can’t give him the cure.”
“The fruit nuts are all around us. You’re not evil, Jarod. Surely you wouldn’t let children and women die from this.”
“I have to, Tesza.” Jarod shook his head. He ran his thumb along the pink welt on her face that had started to heal.
“You are queen of the Kalos, Tesza; you’d do well to remember that.” He slid his hand down her shoulder and cupped her breast. Tesza took a deep breath and closed her eyes. His hands were gentle, but they still felt wrong.
“I’ve had you followed, protected every step of the way. You must know this killed me inside, forcing you out. I had no choice. That man you were with murdered six brutally before you returned to camp that night. The clan would not sympathize, not after that. They wanted you dead. I could spare you that, but you couldn’t stay. It was the law, I was bound by it.”
“That Red-Clan woman?”
“She gave her life to save you. She knew they were about to find you and intercepted. Don’t dishonor her sacrifice or your people by loving an enemy soldier. Let him go Tesza. I will honor you and give you the world. He can give you nothing but pain and a life on the run. They will never accept you, even if you save them.”
“Do you know what you ask?”
“We will live because of you. Our people will continue forever.”
“And another will become extinct.”
“They brought it upon themselves. Forget him. He would’ve had you executed anyway. With him you would’ve died. With me, you’ll live, be free. You’ll be happy. I love you, Tesza. I’ve always loved you.”
“Then don’t do this. Save the innocents and I will stay with you.”
“I am saving the innocents, Tesza. I am.” He kissed her sliding his tongue into her mouth. She didn’t fight him, but she didn’t give him anything back either. He thought she’d followed through, when she’d betrayed him, trading the lives of her people for another’s.
“You’ll love me back someday. This is part of life. Survival.”
“I loved you once.” She still loved him, but she was also angry with him and wouldn’t reward him with the truth.
“You will again.”
He got up. “Dress, eat and come outside. We can’t delay travel further or we’ll be caught in the floods.” Jarod stopped and glanced over his shoulder. “He will return with a force. Watch Tesza and see. He’ll come to kill us all. He tortured men for the same information he wanted from you. He only used you to find our clans. To find me.”
"How can I believe you, after everything that's happened?"
Jarod placed his hand over his heart. “My soul could never lie to you. You will see.”
Ursus opened his eyes. Pain stabbed through his brain. His mouth felt dry. He reached up and touched his nose, flinching. Dried blood crusted around it. Certainly broken.
He stared at the sky and the faces of children who stood over him. They peered back with curiosity.
Jarod had dumped him in a community location. He let his gaze sweep the area. The square.
Shit. A very public location.
The sound of boots tramping towards him and he turned his head to stare at a squad of his men who approached.
“Sir.” One man addressed him. Ursus blinked, pushing away the blinding light and sharp pains from behind his eyes. Something wasn’t right. Had the cure worked? He could feel the fever settling in. Every joint in his body ached.
The bastard had dumped him in a public square with children. Ursus ground down on his teeth. Next time they met, he wouldn’t be as kind. He’d beat Jarod to a fraction from extinction, then crush his bones to dust under his heel.
Gods, he hated that bastard.
“Sir, are you okay?”
Fuck no. “Yes,” he groaned and forced himself to sit. His vision warbled before him. He was going to hurt that bastard.
Ursus rubbed his forehead. She hadn’t said how long. Days? Weeks? Months? Was he infected? Did the cure work? If not, how long before he succumbed to the plague? How long before his people contracted it?
He’d no intention of bringing this back to them, but more than likely, he did. No, what she'd given him--he couldn’t be cured. Not with this fever.
His first priority was to alert Colonel Pilot of the danger. There was a good chance Pilot would execute him for what he’d done, but to keep it from them would be worse.
His squad leader offered him a hand. Ursus stared at it, debating the consequences and then slapped his hand into the soldier’s. Whatever damage was done, was done. There was nothing left to do but move forward.
Ursus cringed as the man tugged him to his feet. Aches, a burning in his muscles and joints. Gods, this illness acted quickly. He put his hand to his forehead and steadied himself.
“I need to see Colonel Pilot.” Explaining this wouldn’t be easy. Pilot could execute him on the spot. He’d broken half a dozen military laws, as well as temple laws.
“He’s been looking for you.”
“What happened, sir?”
“Nothing a lazr’-whipping won’t remedy.” Ursus rubbed one of his temples. “I can make it from here. Finish your patrol.” Had he infected them? Could it spread that fast? The soldiers nodded and returned to their squad, marching from the square. Around him, still life. Civilians stopped and stared. Children, women, men...