Hi, all. I'll be absent today as my son is getting married. I wanted to let you know that I will be back to check out your comments and respond on Sunday. A crazy, crazy last two weeks. Hope you're enjoying the story.
To bring you up to date, if you missed last week's late post: Tesza goes to High City to look for a necklace that belonged to her mother and grandmother. She intends to find it and wear it for her Fourth Night celebration and final evening of her wedding. Instead, she finds trouble when she encounters an enemy soldier in a ruined plaza, an enemy that hates her kind and kills them on sight. For some reason he doesn't shoot and engages her in conversation.
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***Warning. The following story contains erotic elements, explicit language and violence. Read at your own risk.***
Not all were evil. But this one, she’d do well to remember he was dangerous. Tesza knew faces. Her eyes drifted back up, unable to resist. His was unmistakable.
The Butcher. She’d seen images of him, passed among the clans, portraits of a killer.
His face lit and the corners of his mouth curled into smile, creating dimples. Gods, dimples! Tesza balled her hands at her sides and swallowed, unsure what terrified her more, his smile, or the tip of his weapon pointed at her sternum.
Even more frightening, she found her body reacting to that smile, warming inside. Perhaps it was triggered by lingering needs, cultivated during her third night?
“You’re pretty for a Kalos.”
“You’re pretty for a Kori.” It came out before she could stop it. Would he kill her for her words? She sucked in a breath and bit her lip.
He tipped his head back and laughter rolled from his chest. Shivers raced up and down her skin. His laugh moved through her body in a sensual burn, igniting something more primitive inside her.
Liquid heat pooled between her thighs and Tesza grasped her pant legs, looking for anything to steady herself. A reaction she’d not expected.
“I could kill you. Do you still think I’m pretty?”
“Yes, and you haven’t.”
But you’re not going too, are you? She stared him down, afraid to voice the last thought. He didn’t move, barely breathed, but the fire in his eyes jumped. Energy sizzled between them, cranking the tension.
Tesza squeezed her knees together. The longer she sat and stared, the more the lust built, rolling through her like a building storm. He’s the enemy. She shouldn’t be thinking or feeling what she did.
Tonight was Fourth night. Jarod would be waiting to take her in his arms. Tesza sucked in a breath and tore her gaze away. Gods. The man she’d just visualized wasn’t Jarod.
“You need to get out of this city. If the others catch you, they won’t be so nice.” His voice was hoarse, raspy. It slid along her skin. Her pelvis flooded with more heat. It was all she could do not to cry out. She didn’t want to leave. She wanted to stay.
He pulled his weapon away and glanced at where the jungle claimed the once manicured plaza. “Go.”
“I can’t leave.”
“You can’t stay.”
“Why are you helping me?” Tesza studied her boots, dull compared to his. Her military style pants, scavenged from a dead Kori soldier, were worn through the knees and her sleeveless shirt, as threadbare, clung to her body by its last stitches. She was pathetic. Why would he help her? Regardless why, she couldn’t go quite yet.
Tesza lifted her chin and faced the Butcher. His eyes seemed to shift to a darker green as she held his gaze. “No.”
“No?” He narrowed his eyes.
“I meant I can’t—not yet.” She’d come to get the necklace, an item she couldn’t leave without. She needed to wear it tonight. It was all she had of her past, her heritage. She wanted to share her past with Jarod.
And him... Gods only knew why she needed to know more about him. Touch him. Tesza lifted her hand and dropped it.
Shameless. She had a duty to her people, but that wasn’t why she wanted to touch him. It was something else. “You are helping me.”
“No, you’re mistaken. I’m making it easier to clean this quadrant of the city. If I shoot you, I have to clean up the mess. I’d rather not.” His mouth spat harsh words but his eyes touched her like a lover.
“I don’t believe you. You’re not a foot soldier.”
He shrugged, turning his back. “You said you’d try to escape first. So escape. Go. Get out of here.”
“I can’t.” Tesza rose to her feet. Her eyes shifted back to the opening in the jungle then rested on the knife at her feet.
“Don’t think about it.”
Her attention snapped back up. She watched his shoulders rise and fall with his breath. Her pulse quickened. He was broader than Jarod. Harder.
And he was the enemy. She eyed the knife again. It would be so easy to pick it up and eradicate the killer. She glanced into the jungle again and over to the tile pattern on the terrace where the necklace was buried. She could come back, watch from the vegetation until he left and pry the pavers up. She didn’t need to kill him, he’d spared her life, given her a chance no other of his people would have. She’d leave and not mention the encounter.
Then again it could be a trick.
She shuffled from foot to foot. Would he shoot her when she turned to run? Was he playing with her, or did she really see what she thought she had?
“You either leave now, or when I turn around I’ll be cleaning up another Kalos mess.”
Run! Tesza bolted. She tripped over a root growing through the tile and slammed face first to the hard surface.
It didn’t matter. She was dead. He’d promised to kill her and if there was one thing that was true, a Kori officer lived by his word. As he grabbed the back of her shirt by the collar, it shredded from her body. Would the animal rape a corpse, she wondered. Then her end would be a fitting one. He’d pay for the brutality he’d visited upon her and her people. The world began fade.
“Shit,” the Kori snarled. Letting her know what he truly thought of her.
Tesza embraced the darkness.