I'm excited to announce, Blown Away, is out in print! I pre-ordered a copy from Amazon and it shipped yesterday. Here's the link if you'd like to pick up a copy:
On to the story. Have a great Saturday.
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.***
The bastard had knocked him out and left him on the slope, taking his wife. Did he really think he wouldn’t come after her? He could have killed him, but didn’t. He should have, when he had the chance.
But he couldn’t bury Tesza with him.
The streets were empty, void of life when the army of fury strolled in. At the front, a tall man with ice hair and hard eyes. Energy rolled off him in angry waves. In his hand he clutched a spear, crusted with dried blood.
Nobody came out of the houses, everywhere the city whispered with the voices of ghosts. The horde rounded a corner. A fountain bubbled before them. Sitting with her hand dipped in the water crying, was a child.
Jarod froze. Her dark hair was pulled back with colorful ribbons, her bright pink dress stained, torn and dirty. She glanced up with eyes full of red tears.
The horde came to a stop. Not a warrior drew a breath. The tiny child of perhaps three raised her hand to her mouth and coughed, spraying blood across the front of her once beautiful dress. She began to cry again, wailing for her mother. Jarod waited, but nobody came to collect her.
She turned her brown eyes to his violet and reached out to him with both arms, blood rolling down her cheeks. “I can’t find mommy.”
Jarod hesitated, unsure. She was a child, not the enemy, not the face he’d pictured dying from his disease. With a growl he strode forward, scooped her into his arms and made for the High City’s infirmary. “We’ll find your mommy.” He brushed her hair from her eyes and kissed her forehead. So hot for one so little.
Tesza had been right. There were more than soldiers affected by his plague. He refused to listen, to look. He was as heartless as those who killed his people. She’d tried to tell him she didn’t want to be responsible for killing all the Kori, that there were children and women who’d suffer. He never imagined what it would look like.
He’d had blood lust, wanted to crush his enemy under his boot and hadn’t cared who or what got in the way.
Now he did.
One small child opened Jarod’s eyes, and what he saw, made him sick. Gods, he’d been a fool. No wonder she jumped and left him behind. He was a heartless bastard. He’d find her, make amends if he could. Hopefully the Kori hadn’t already killed her.
They stopped and stared, mouths open. The sounds of footsteps and spiked boots echoed down the corridor. Jarod handed the child off to a nurse. “Where is the Kalos woman?”
The nurse shook her head and backed up.
“I won’t suck your soul, woman. Where did they take my wife?”
She spun on her heel and took flight, running as fast as she could with the child in her arms. Jarod growled and kicked a cart, sending it crashing into a wall. “I want my wife!” Was it so hard to understand? They had what they needed by now. They had no reason to keep her. “Search every room. Find Tesza.”
Warriors scattered in all directions, Kori hospital staff fled before them. He strode down the hall, glancing in every room he passed until he came to one on the end. Two guards rose to their feet and pointed lazr’s at him.
Jarod jumped at them, growling and they dropped their weapons, running for their lives from the soul-sucking demon. Stepping through the door, he came to an abrupt stop. Inside Ursus stood next to the bed, holding her hand, his forehead pressed against Tesza’s. Tubes and monitors covered every inch of her body.
Jarod ground down on his teeth. The bastard touched her. He should be holding her, caring for her.
Jarod stormed in. He grabbed the back of Ursus’s shirt and catapulted him across the room, into a wall. “Get off my wife.”
Ursus rolled as Jarod lunged with his spear; he grabbed a wheeled cart and sent it careening at Jarod. It caught him across the thighs, sending him over it and onto the floor.
Jarod leapt on him the second he hit, one hand wrapped on his throat the other cocked to punch. Ursus bucked and rolled, throwing him over his head, toppling more medical equipment. Monitors started screeching, lights flashing.
“I’m going to kill you,” Jarod snarled and yanked his knees to his chest, snapping to his feet. In a low crouch he retrieved his spear while Ursus regained his feet and faced him.
Ursus grabbed a metal tray, holding it in front like a shield. Jarod smiled, shook his head and launched forward, punching a hole through the center of the tray with the tip of his spear. “Par steel.”
“How’d you heathens get Par steel?” Ursus stepped to the side and yanked, sending the spear and the tray through the doorway.
“Does it matter?” Jarod dived for the spear. Ursus tackled him sliding him out of arm’s reach of the weapon.
“Don’t need that to kill you.” Jarod punched. The uppercut caught Ursus under the jaw. He wobbled, fell back and Jarod straddled him. One fist back, the other hand at his throat again.
The high-pitched whine of a lazr’ fired up behind them.
Not again. Jarod growled and lowered his fist, furious with the interruption. He’d been about to plant his fist through the front of bastard’s skull.
“Step out into the hall.”
Jarod turned and faced Colonel Pilot Callas. He’d no intention of leaving his wife in the arms of that man or in his commander’s custody. Death threat or no. He may have been wrong about the innocents, but he wasn’t wrong about Tesza. She belonged to him.
“Don’t make me shoot you in front of Tesza. The last thing she needs is more excitement.”
Jarod’s gaze traveled to the bed. Tesza’s eyes were open and she stared at the scene in horror.
Alive. She’s still alive. They hadn’t murdered her.
Her eyes plead for him to listen. Lips moved, but only a silent please made it past them.
Jarod raised his hands and rose to his feet, stepping out into the hall.
“We finally meet,” Pilot said.
“I only want my wife. You have the antivirus.”
“Ursus claims she’s his wife.” Colonel Pilot adjusted the weapon and coughed, doing his best to hold it on Jarod. “Under normal circumstances, I’d shoot you, but this isn’t normal. I’m glad you’re here.”
Jarod blinked. They were glad he was here?
“Tesza needs blood, Kalos blood.”
Jarod turned and glanced at the bed. “How much did you take from her?”
“No more than you did.” Jarod flinched. It was true. The only reason she was in that bed was because of him.
“Why didn’t you let her die? You have what you need?”
“She’s a Kori citizen.”
“She’s Kalos and my wife.” Jarod balled his hands to fists at his sides. She was all he’d left. He’d failed his people, failed his family and he’d failed Tesza. Ursus couldn’t have her, wouldn’t have her. Jarod glanced through the door to see Ursus at her side again, pressing his damned forehead to Tesza’s. He ground down on his teeth. “You’re mistaken.”
“She was a virgin when Ursus claimed her. By our laws, that makes her his wife.” Pilot fixed him with a stern stare. “We marry once. There’s no divorce.”
“She was bonded to me as an infant, by Kalos law she’s my wife until death. We have sealed our marriage. She’s accepted me.”
“Then we have a problem.” Pilot lowered his weapon. “Which we’ll worry about after you give her blood.”
Jarod eyed Tesza and the bastard again. He resisted the urge to rush in and rip him from his wife. “I’m not saving her for you, or him, I’m saving her because I love her. Understand that I’m not leaving without her. Your troops are too sick to retaliate. Don’t get between me and what’s mine, or I’ll destroy this city while you lay in your sick beds recovering.”
“Your blood first. Then we’ll talk. We’ve much to discuss, much to settle.”
“There’s nothing to settle.” Jarod turned and followed a nurse that motioned to him. “You’re running out of time. Give me my wife. I’m the only one who can save you.”
“We have the anti-virus,” Pilot called out behind him.
“The plague is the least of your worries. Rain’s coming, Pilot.” He glanced out a window as he passed. The rains had picked up, outside the wind howled. They’d need to leave soon. The city was about to be under water and they’d all die. He’d seen the children, the sick in their beds, not all were killers. Tesza had been right, he had to save them, he wasn’t heartless. His conscious wouldn’t let him do anything else. Silently he hoped Pilot couldn’t see through his bluff.
“How can we evacuate when half the city is too sick to get out of bed,” Ursus said. He turned his head toward where Jarod reclined, recovering from the transfusion.
“We might be able to stop the flooding.”
Ursus nodded. “I’m listening.”
“There are channels that run under this city, each has a relief valve that can redirect the flow out to sea.”
“I’m aware of the channels, but I’ve never seen relief valves.”
A moment of brief shock crossed Jarod’s face. “That’s because they’re hidden.”
“Why are you helping us?” What motivated him now? He’d the Kori at his mercy. They’d killed his people for eons, chased them from world to world, slaughtered them here for seventy years and could and would continue to do so.
“I’m sick of killing. Do I need any other reason?”
“Don’t hold this against me, but I have a hard time trusting you and anything you have to do with the water.”
Jarod nodded. “I’ve already helped you more than I ever thought I would. You either trust me, or all your people in this city will die. I hold all the codes to open the valves.”
“Where are the valves?”
“I’ll take you to them, but we have to hurry. We’re running out of time, soon the channels will be too full to enter.”
Ursus nodded and sat up, putting his hand to his forehead. The dizziness was still there, but the bleeding had slowed and the fever had eased. Tesza had saved them just in time. Another day and surely he’d been at the point of no return, fodder for the worms.
Jarod sat up and stared directly across the space between them. “Does she love you?”
“I believe she does.”
“But do you know it?”
“Why are you asking this question?”
Jarod rose to his feet and reached out a hand to Ursus. “Because I need to know more about the competition. Killing you will only make her hate me. That’s not my intent. I love her. I’ve loved her from childhood and I’m not going to let you take her.”
“I’ve waited my life for her, and you can’t keep me from holding what fate and the gods have declared is mine.”
“Then you and I will have a talk after this is over.” Jarod’s face remained cool. “Yes?”
From the look in his eyes, Jarod wanted to do anything but talk. “Yes.” They’d have their talk alright. Somebody had a good ass-kicking coming to them, courtesy of Ursus’s boot.
“Could you both stop with all the posturing and release the valves before we all die,” a small hoarse voice came from behind them. Ursus and Jarod’s heads snapped around to see Tesza with her eyes open, watching them. “Both of you come back. And we’ll all talk. If only one of you comes back, I’m done.”
Ursus shifted on the balls of his feet, rubbing his arms, trying to kill the ache. This was the last thing he’d ever imagined himself doing. He glanced down at Jarod, who was on his hands and knees, his ass sticking out of a storm drain.
He huffed and moved his attention to an overhead light. The last thing he wanted was to get caught with his eyes on the royal ass of the King of the Kalos. He refrained from planting his boot in Jared’s backside and giving him a shove.
Jarod’s hand snaked out of the drain reaching towards him. “Give it to me?”
Ursus shifted on his feet, not wanting to look down again. Several of his soldiers coughed into their fists, one snickered. Ursus glared at them. All went silent. News traveled fast. Not only did the Butcher have a wife, he had a husband.
“What’s taking so long? Give me the damned tool!”
Ursus stooped down and slapped the tool into Jarod’s hand. He wobbled, still a bit dizzy from the virus and grabbed the back of Jarod’s pants to steady himself. He jumped and whacked his head on the pipe. There was a loud ringing followed by what Ursus could only assume were some really foul words. The tool was flung from the pipe and nailed Ursus in the shin, who proceeded to cuss as fluently as Jarod.
“Stay off my ass.”
“I wasn’t trying…,”
“Don’t touch me again. I’ll kill you.”
Ursus snorted and threw the tool back at Jarod.
Laughter exploded around him. Ursus swung his gaze around the squad, silencing it. “You see how he’s adjusting the valves. Don’t stand there. Find a drain and adjust the valves.”
More laughter. More cussing from inside the pipe. Why did his life have to go like this? Ursus ground his teeth, trying to think of anything other than the asshole he found himself, in a round-a-bout way, married to. Apparently, now that the men were feeling better, they took a great deal amusement from the situation.
Gods. He wanted to shove him down the pipe. Tesza would hate him for it. So Ursus moved away, doing his best to fight the urge. One kick, one push and he’d send him into the underground channels and out of his life. If there ever was a temptation, this was it.
Jarod backed out of the pipe and glared at Ursus. “What are you looking at?”
“Trust me, nothing I’m interested in.”
Jarod growled and rose to his feet, smacking his head on the top of the channel. He rubbed his head and glanced around. Several of the squad members suddenly became occupied. “What’s going on here?”
Ursus shook his head. “Nothing. We done here? Is the city safe? I thought it was something complicated.”
“We have to go deeper, into the channels. I have to unlock the system. There’s a set of dials with specific codes. It’s all hands on. We’re going to need cables or ropes.”
“We’re?” Ursus narrowed his eyes. “Excuse me?”
“You’re going down there with me. Do you think I’m going to chance that you’ll cut the cable and take Tesza all to yourself?”
Ursus snarled and dropped the equipment belt he was wearing, and then yanked his shirt over his head. “I can’t swim.”
“Do I need to get you some floaties?” The corner of Jarod’s mouth curled.
“No, I think I’ll manage.” Gods he wanted to punch the bastard. What did Tesza see in him? She’d warned them. Come back together, or don’t come back at all.
“Consider this your first lesson. But it’s not the water you should be afraid of. It’s what’s in it.”
Ursus scowled. He’d remembered the returning unit, minus three-quarters of the men. Who knew what swam down there now that it was flooded. Knee deep, he could handle, chin deep another matter altogether.
Jarod pulled a shirt over his head and grabbed his spear. “They make good eating if they don’t eat you first.”