I’m sorry it’s been so long since you’ve heard anything from me. Real life is crazy right now. I’m trying to get back to a routine that will help me get some writing done and more on the blog story as well. 🙂
I hope you stick with me. 🙂
On Love’s Wings
copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase
Miataga woke up then stretched a little. Their flight had been uneventful so far and Miataga had no way of knowing when—or if—they’d crossed back into Eminen. Flying in the dark caused all the forest below them to blend together into a black blur. He shifted slightly and Ari tightened his hold on Miataga’s waist.
“Did you have a good nap?”
He shivered as Ari’s hot breath washed over his ear. “Yes, I did. Were you able to rest as well?”
Ari’s chin brushed his cheek, so he must have nodded. “A little. I’m used to flying night missions and sleeping on the wing, sort to speak. If something came up, Vikex would’ve warned me.”
“I trust you both. If I didn’t, I would’ve gone back to Sendler with Rockis and Barrak.” A thought hit him. “You don’t think the Supreme Commander will take his ire out on your cousin, will he?”
The movements of Ari’s chest made Miataga think he was shrugging. “I hope not, but you can never tell with him. He’s not sane, Miataga, and I fear what might happen if he were to catch up with us.”
He patted Ari’s hands where they rested on his stomach. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried, but one thing I’ve learned living in a Loving House is to enjoy every moment I have. I don’t look toward the future because it’s not guaranteed to any of us. I also don’t dwell on the past because I can’t change it.” He sighed. “All I have control of is this exact moment in time.”
“And how are you feeling about this right here?” Ari pressed a kiss to the nape of his neck.
“I’m happy in this second. I’m with a man I’m coming to care about, flying through the air on an amazing being. What more could I ask for?” He rested more of his weight against Ari’s chest, knowing the man wouldn’t let go of him.
He meant every word he’d said. Living in the moment was one of the first lessons he’d learned at the Loving House. The life of a whore wasn’t safe. He’d been beaten and raped more times than he could count, yet he didn’t think about all those times. They were behind him. While they helped created the man he was today, they didn’t break him. There were nights when he relived those experiences, yet in the morning he washed them away. He wouldn’t allow them to have control over him.
As a whore, he had very little say over his own body. So he chose to take the power where he could and that was in how he reacted to everything.
Miataga frowned. “How old do you think I am?”
“No more than twenty-five.” Ari sounded so sure.
“You are a good man.” Miataga took a hold of Ari’s hand and lifted it to his mouth. He brushed a kiss over the knuckles. “I’m ten years older than that.”
Ari stiffened behind him. “You’re kidding? There is no way you’re that old.”
“Yes. The masters of the Houses have potions and magic to keep their whores looking young. No one wants to fuck an old wrinkly thing.” He smiled at the thought.
“That’s wrong. It’s lying to the clients.”
Miataga tensed. “Are you upset that I’m not as young as I look?”
Ari pulled him closer. “No. I’m just a little shocked at the subterfuge.”
“Men and women come to the Houses to spend time with a beautiful person. If they wanted someone who looked realistic, they’d have stayed home and fucked their spouse.” Miataga lifted one of his shoulders in a casual shrug. “I didn’t make the rules, Ari. I simply live by them.”
“True. I shouldn’t be so outraged when I went there for the same reason. To find a beautiful creature to spend time with. Fucking didn’t even cross my mind when I went in there.” Ari rested his chin on Miataga’s shoulder. “You have turned out remarkably well after everything you’ve gone through.”
Before anything else could be said, Vikex tilted his wings to one side than the other. Miataga realized the horizon had lightened as they’d talked. It was time to land and find shelter for the day.
“Has he found a clearing to land in?”
They were relying on Vikex’ superior eyesight to discover a safe place to hide.
Ari relaxed and said, “Yes. He says there’s a clearing with a cabin a little ways from us. It doesn’t look as though anyone’s living there. We can have a fire and keep warm. Also, Vikex says he’ll keep us from detection. We just might make it to his flock without a confrontation.”
Miataga wanted to find some wood to knock on. He had a feeling Ari might have jinxed them with that comment. Yet he couldn’t help but wishing for an uneventful trip as well.
On Love’s Wings
copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase
After crawling out of the tent, Miataga stretched his arms above his head and yawned. A twinge of pain in his ass made him grin. They hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep, but he wasn’t going to complain.
A soft chirp caught his attention and he glanced around to see Vikex peering at him.
“Did you sleep well?”
Most of his friends at the House would think him crazy for talking to the phoenix as though he could understand. The bond birds were highly intelligent, but only their bondmates knew how smart they really were. Yet Miataga didn’t doubt that Vikex understood every word he said, not just understood them but knew what he meant. Miataga had a feeling the phoenix was as intelligent as he or Ari was.
Vikex tilted his head then chirped again before flapping his wings. Miataga ducked his head against the breeze.
“It’s time to go, I know.” He leaned down to shove the tent’s door aside. “Ari, you have to get up. Vikex is saying we need to leave.”
“Yes, he’s been squawking at me for the last five minutes,” Ari complained as he wiggled out of the structure. “I’m going to wash up then get some food ready. We’ll need to eat before we leave. Do you want to clean up now or wait until the gear has been packed?”
Miataga wrinkled his nose. “The stream sounds good. I’m a little sticky and smelly.”
Ari brushed a kiss over his lips before grabbing his hand. “Then come with me, my love, and we’ll wipe the stink away. Vikex will get the fire going and we’ll eat. I want to get back across the border before we have to stop again. Flying during the night will be better once we’re back in Eminen. Less likely to be spotted.”
He grabbed a clean pair of pants and shirt before following Ari to the stream. Stripping off yesterday’s clothes, Miataga pushed into the water, ignoring how chilly it was. That didn’t matter. He’d gotten used to washing in cold bodies of water. Ari often offered to warm up some for him, but he didn’t want Ari to waste his power on trivial things.
After rinsing the grim away, he climbed out and dried off. Miataga dressed quickly then turned to watch Ari finish his bath. Once they were done, they headed back to the clearing where Vikex had a fire going.
While Ari worked on their meal, Miataga packed their clothes and the tent in the bags. He dropped them next to Vikex’ harness before joining Air by the fire. He settled on the ground, holding his hands out to the heat.
“Thank you,” he said to the phoenix. “I appreciate you doing this for us.”
Vikex whistled and Ari smiled. “He says you’re welcome. He’d have had breakfast ready, but he doesn’t have any hands, which makes doing much of anything difficult.”
Miataga laughed. “I think right at this moment, I’d rather have a fire than food.”
Ari nodded. “You’re right. Being warm is more important than eating, though here’s your bowl.”
He accepted the bowl of porridge and dug in. There was just a hint of sweetness mixed among the oats. He frowned. “Where did you get sugar?”
“Oh, it’s not sugar. It’s honey. Jemsel has several hives and there was a jar of it stuck in the supplies they gave us.” Ari hummed a little after he took a bite. “I miss not having it when I’m in Sendler. There’s only sugar available there.”
Miataga tried not to think about how expensive sugar was for the people in the Lower city. It took a man almost a week’s wage to get a spoonful. He knew the soldiers were treated better than the civilians, and he couldn’t find it in his heart to be upset about it. They risk their lives for our safety every day. They deserve something special. If it happens to be sugar, then so be it.
They ate fast then got everything situated in the sling under Vikex’ harness. Miataga put out the fire while Ari made sure Vikex was comfortable and ready to go. He helped Miataga mount before joining him.
An enormous heave of Vikex’ muscles and a few powerful strokes of his wings, and they were airborne. Miataga leaned back into Ari’s warmth, closing his eyes. He couldn’t see anything below them, so he might as well try and get some rest.
On Love’s Wings
copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase
Ari lost track of time as they flew. It was often that way. Soaring among the clouds with the ground sliding below became hypnotic and he found himself drifting along while Vikex glided.
I need to rest and Miataga would probably like to stretch his legs. Vikex’ voice caused him to jerk.
He leaned forward and drew Miataga’s attention. “We’re going to land in that clearing there.” He pointed to the gap in the trees. “Vikex needs to rest and we should walk around. It’s getting light as well. I’d like to be tucked away before the sun comes up. If we don’t get discovered, we can stay here until nightfall. It’ll give us all time to get some sleep.”
Miataga nodded, shifting a little, and Ari knew Vikex’ suggestion was a good one. Just because Ari could—and had—gone twenty-four hours on Vikex’ back during battle, didn’t mean Miataga was ready for that yet.
Vikex tipped his wings to one side then began to spiral down, coasting on the air currents in a cautious descent. Ari kept a lookout for anyone who might be using the mountain trails, but they seemed empty at the moment. Vikex touched down gently then held still while Ari and Miataga dismounted. They quickly unhooked the phoenix’ harness. Vikex ruffled his feathers before easing away.
“Go find something to eat. We’re going to sent up the tent and try to get some sleep,” Ari told his bond bird while digging through their packs.
We’ll be fine here. Even if someone comes down on the trail, they won’t notice us.
He shot Vikex a glance and the phoenix bobbed his head. Is this one of those things you never told me about for my own good?
No. I chose not to tell you because it had no bearing on anything we’d done before. Miataga looks as though he’s about to pass out. Get the tent set up. I’ll be back in a bit.
Ari watched as Vikex slipped into the forest. He squinted, wondering if he imagined the phoenix shrinking to fit between the trees.
“Did he just get smaller?” Miatage spoke from where he stood next to Ari.
“I think he did. Never really paid attention to what he did before.” He turned to Miataga. “Let’s get the tent set up. Vikex says we won’t have to worry about anyone stumbling over us while we rest.”
“Really?” Miataga helped Ari put their shelter up.
Ari shrugged. “Apparently he’ll be using his magic to keep us from being discovered.”
“Did you know he could do that?” Miataga pushed one of the stakes into the ground.
“No, though he’s probably been doing it for years. Guess he figured it wasn’t important for me to know.” Ari tried to decide if he was upset about it or not, then he let it go. They didn’t have time for him to have a fit about it. Vikex kept secrets and Ari figured he didn’t need to know everything the phoenix could do.
Miataga yawned and Ari sped up getting the rest of the stakes anchored and the tent walls up. Once that was done, he gestured for Miataga to crawl in.
“Lie down,” he said. “We’ll get as much sleep as we can. I really don’t want to move out until after dark, but if we’re all up and ready, we might as well head out.”
“It doesn’t bother Vikex to fly in the dark?” Miataga did as Ari said and Ari ogled his tight ass as he bent over to enter the tent.
Ari sighed. As much as he would’ve loved to bury his cock in Miataga’s ass, his body was just too tired for it. All the excitement of having to run away had drained all his energy. Maybe we’ll have some time before we have to leave.
He took off his boots, but didn’t bother with anything else. Soon they were snuggled together under a blanket. It was chilly and their body heat would help keep them warm. Also, he didn’t doubt Vikex would come and settled by the tent. The warmth the phoenix radiated would be more than enough, so they wouldn’t have to worry about a fire.
Ari brushed a kiss over the nape of Miataga’s neck. “Sleep well, love. I appreciate your belief in me more than I can ever tell you.”
Miataga patted Ari’s hand where it rested on Miataga’s stomach. “You’ll do your best to keep me safe. No matter what happens from here on out, I know you’ll do everything you can.”
Ari let his eyes drift close as a rather uneasy feeling swept over him. Why did he think doing everything he could wouldn’t be enough?
On Love’s Wings
copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase
As much as he wanted to keep arguing, Ari bit his tongue. Miataga was an adult and could make his own decisions. Ari might have paid to have his company on this journey, but that didn’t mean he had the right to make choices for his lover. He would never take that right from Miataga.
After they finished getting everything ready, Ari put out the fire and they left the cabin. He called Vikex to him then drew Miataga close. He pressed his lips to Miataga’s ear.
“I’ll do my best to keep you safe, my love. Thank you for trusting me with your life,” he whispered.
Miataga shivered and nodded, rubbing his hair against Ari’s mouth. Light eased into the clearing, not flooding it like earlier. They didn’t want to bring attention to themselves. Vikex landed and Ari rushed to put his harness on.
“We need to leave now, my friend,” he told the phoenix. “There are soldiers waiting for us on the way back to Sendler. We need to take a different route to your flock.”
Vikex tilted his head, his gaze going from Ari to Miataga.
“Yes, Miataga is going with us. He’s decided to throw his lot in with us.” He chuckled. “I know, Vikex. I warned him, but he seems to think he’s better off with us then back at the capitol.”
The phoenix gave a little cry and Ari snorted. Miataga eyed them then shook his head.
“I’m sorry. Vikex thinks you’re crazy for wanting to go with us.” Ari helped Miataga climb onto Vikex’ back. He got their bags tied on then joined Miataga. He wrapped his arms around Miataga’s waist before nudging Vikex with his heels. “Let’s go. We should go to the east over the border for a little ways. It’s pretty isolated here and not many people will notice us. If someone does, there’s no one around for them to tell. At least not right away.”
“Are you sure that’s safe? I thought we were skirmishing with them,” Miataga commented as Vikex launched them into the air.
Ari tightened his hold on Miataga. “It’ll be fine. The people who live in the mountains on both sides of the border don’t care what goes on in the capitols. Plus they haven’t suffered any battles in their villages, so they’re not looking for us.”
Miataga nodded then leaned back against his chest. They wouldn’t talk much while Vikex flew. The wind rushing past their ears made it difficult to speak unless he shouted or he put his mouth right to Miataga’s ear.
He glanced down as they flew over the village. There was one person standing outside his father’s house who raised their hand as Vikex went by. Ari did the same, not sure if they saw him, but wanting to make some effort. He figured it was either Rockis or Jemles, wishing him luck.
Burying his face in Miataga’s curls, he took a deep breath. Whatever perfume Miataga had used while at the Loving House had been washed away during their travels. All Ari smelled was fresh air and a rather spicy scent that had to have been Miataga’s alone.
Is he truly going to be traveling with us?
Ari jolted. He tended to forget Vikex could speak perfect human if he wanted. Most of the time the phoenix chose not to. Ari figured Vikex felt superior when people thought he was a simple ignorant bird, and not the highly intelligent creature he truly was.
Yes. I was surprised too. He’s a city boy through and through. As a whore, he’s been pampered and coddled for all that he’s been sold to whoever will pay the price. What’s going to happen to us will not be nearly as much fun as the trip to my village was.
Vikex bobbed his head a little. We’ll get to my flock. They’ll help keep us safe. If necessary, we’ll go somewhere else. There are many countries we can hide. I might be a giant flaming bird, but I do have some magic to keep us hidden.
Ari wasn’t surprised to hear that. Vikex and his flock had a lot of powers that no one knew about, not even him. The phoenix were a secretive lot and, as Ari had explained to Miataga, they rarely came down from their mountains to interact with humans.
We are myths and we like to stay that way. You have no idea the fights I had with my flock about leaving to come find you. They didn’t want it, but there was nothing I could do. You can’t fight destiny.
No, you can’t.
Ari wasn’t talking about just Vikex. There was some instinct inside him that said choosing Miataga out of all the whores in the lower city hadn’t been a whim. Fate wanted them together and Ari couldn’t find it in his heart to be too upset about it.
I guess he is a foolish man, yet I admire his courage. There aren’t many who grow up in the city who would throw their lot in with a soldier who might soon be considered a traitor.
Vikex tilted his wings slightly from side to side and Miataga squeaked, causing Ari to chuckle.
Stop teasing him. He has no idea we’re talking.
He put his mouth against Miataga’s ear. “Vikex was teasing. We’re perfectly fine.”
Miataga patted his hand in response. There was no panic in him and Ari was happy about that. Maybe Miataga staying with them wouldn’t be as crazy as both him and Vikex thought. The man might not have done anything except live in a gilded cage, but there did seem to be some steel in his spine.
He’s going to need that. I don’t have a good feeling about this, Ariste.
Vikex sounded worried, which in turn worried Ari. He’d learned over the years they’d been together, that Vikex’ instincts about situations were dead-on. It was almost as though the fates had given the phoenix an extra warning system, which had saved them several times.
On Love’s Wings
copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase
Rockis nodded. “A few of us have been vocal about our discontentment with the Supreme Commander and his orders. Unfortunately, Ariste might not be the loudest of us, but he’s the most important. We think the commander is looking to blame you.”
“He wants to make an example of me. Probably assumes that if I’m gone, the rest of you will be too scared to do anything,” Ari commented as he shifted then ran his hand over Miataga’s hair.
“Little does he realize you aren’t the leader of our little rebellious group.” Rockis chuckled.
Miataga drew in a breath and Ari wasn’t sure he wanted Miataga to know anything more. The information he knew now could be dangerous enough. Knowing who else was involved would make Miataga a target and Ari didn’t want him hurt in any way.
He tapped Miataga on the cheek then shook his head. “It’s better if you don’t know anything else. I won’t risk your safety. If you are brought in and questioned, you can tell them the little you know and they’ll let you go.”
Miataga exhaled loudly, but didn’t say a word. Ari smiled before looking back at Rockis.
“If no one knows you came out here, you can help us.”
“How?” Rockis leaned forward. “You know I’ll do whatever I can.”
Ari nodded. “I know. Just ensure you and Quila stay safe. I need you to take Barke to the capitol. You can say you ran into me somewhere and I asked you to do this for me. That will give us time to get around the soldiers. We’re still going to head to the Westerly Mountains. Vikex’ flock will protect us. Then I’ll have to think about our future.”
He let his gaze drop to Miataga’s again. He didn’t want to say good-bye to his lover. He’d hoped they would have far more time to get to know each other before he had to take him back to the Loving House. He should’ve known it wasn’t going to work out for him.
“Rockis can take you back to Sendler as well, Miataga.” He held up his hand to keep Miataga from speaking. “I know you want to come with me, but I’m concerned you could get in trouble. I never meant for you to be in danger when I asked you to come with me.”
Miataga pushed up on his knees, taking Ari’ hands in his. “We might not have known each other for long, but I hope we have become more than just client and whore. There’s nothing for me back in Sendler. I’d rather take my chances with you then return to my old life.”
Rockis stood. “I know where your nephew lives. I’ll go inform him he’ll be traveling with me. You shouldn’t spend too much longer here. The soldiers might get impatient and come for you.”
Ari stood as well and offered Rockis his hand. “Thank you for the warning. I appreciate it. When I get to Vikex’ flock, I’ll find a way to get a message to you.”
He waited until his friend shut the door behind him before he turned to look at Miataga. “Why would you be willing to risk your life for someone who bought you? How can you feel any loyalty to me?”
“Because you never treated me like I was a whore. You gave me respect, friendship and caring. Something I’ve never gotten from anyone else, not even those men who work at the House with me. If I never go back there, it won’t hurt my feelings.” Miataga wrapped his arms around Ari’s waist and laid his head on Ari’s chest.
Taking a deep breath, Ari rested his cheek on Miataga’s curls. He ran his hands up and down Miataga’s back. “I don’t want you hurt. It would break my heart if I caused harm to you. To be honest, I never thought the commander would do anything about our discontentment. I figured we were too low on the power list to pay any attention to us.”
Miataga tightened his hold. “I don’t care about any of that, Ari. I want to stay with you. If I can help in some way, I will.” He chuckled. “Though I’m not sure what a whore can do to help with a rebellion.”
“We aren’t rebelling,” Ari said. “I don’t want to overthrow the government. I simply want the Governor to fire the Supreme Commander and put someone not crazy in his place. If he isn’t careful, he’s going to get us involved in a war we can’t win. There are countries more powerful than Eminen, who have paid us no mind because mountains surround us. But if we anger them, they will come over those barriers to destroy our nation. The commander doesn’t seem to understand that, or he simply doesn’t care.”
“I would put money on the fact that he doesn’t care. He’s only interested in power and money.” Miataga eased a few inches away to meet his gaze. “Have you tried talking to the governor? Maybe he doesn’t know what’s happening and he’d do something if he understood the dangers.”
Ari shrugged. “I think the governor is having his own troubles with the senators. There seems to be as much rumbling among them as there is among the army. No one appears to be happy about how Eminen is being run, not even the richest people in Sendler.”
“I hear things from clients, but none of it really makes sense. Being cut off from the rest of the world like we are, we have no way of putting pieces together to understand what’s going on outside the walls.” Miataga hummed under his breath for a moment. “I know the merchants aren’t happy about the taxes being levied against them and their businesses. Apparently, it’s quite expensive to import anything from outside the borders.”
“Most of those tax hikes are to help pay for the army because of the commander’s silly little skirmishes.” Ari brushed a kiss over Miataga’s lips. “If you’re sure about coming with me, then we need to get packed and leave. I don’t want to risk being in the village if the soldiers decide to come after me.”
“All right.” Miataga kissed him back before stepping away. “I’ll gather the food. You pack our clothes.”
Hey everyone…well, last week was a total wash. After that migraine on Monday, I couldn’t seem to catch up with anything. So I’m starting fresh this week. lol Here’s hoping things go better.
I wanted to let you know that Bastet
was re-released on Friday by MLR Press. Here’s the link
if you wanted to check it out.
Also, I wanted to share the cover for Anubis
, which will be out June 17th. 🙂 I love this cover. It’s so amazing and Anubis
is a new book, if you didn’t already know, and the second in the Earth Warrior
series. I hope you’ll pick it up. (For those of you who followed it on my blog, there is new content.)
Have a great Monday, everyone. 🙂
sorry, everyone. Got hit with a migraine and ended up not doing much of anything yesterday. I’m feeling better, so I plan on getting the next installment done for you all. 🙂
Oh and good news, Wilde City will be re-releasing The Whore of New Slum and Duncan’s World. Yes, there will be new content. Each book will have enough words added to them for them to hit the 50k mark and hopefully get put into print. (Keep your fingers crossed…lol)
Have a great day.
On Love’s Wings
copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase
Ari knew Miataga was probably worried to death back in the cabin, but he also knew there was very little anyone could do to injure him. Sure, he could be shot or stabbed, and yes, it would hurt. He’d had it happen many times during battle. Yet his capacity to heal had magnified since bonding with Vikex. In fact, it had grown as the years passed.
Join me in the clearing, but come in as quietly as you can.
He sent the thought to Vikex. For a giant phoenix, Vikex could be as stealthy as a mouse when he needed. More than likely, it had something to do with his magic. Ari had never gotten around to asking his bond bird about it. Of course, asking didn’t mean Vikex would tell him.
Vikex was tight-lipped about most of what he could do. Probably doesn’t want anyone else to find out and try to take advantage of it.
Ari worked his way off the porch to the left of where the shadow crouched next to one of the few trees close to the cabin. Ari didn’t look over there, having fixed the direction in his mind. He’d discovered that the prey sometimes could sense when they were being hunted, and by staring, it might give his pursuit away.
Vikex sent him a picture of where he was in relation to Ari and the intruder. Good. We’ll box him in then I need you to light the clearing up. Vikex agreed and they edged the trap closer.
By the time Ari stopped, he was close enough to hear the person breathing. He wasn’t entirely sure whether the man realized Ari was there or if he still hadn’t picked up any of their movements.
“Are you going to attack, Ariste, or simply sit out in the darkness and stare at me?” The man rose inch by inch to tower above Ari.
Vikex screamed and it was as though the sun was at its zenith. Ari grinned as he got a good look at the man.
“Rockis, what are you doing here?” He clasped Rockis’ hand then slapped his back. “Aren’t you a long way from home?”
Rockis rubbed his eyes, no doubt trying to get them to adjust to the sudden light in the clearing. “I’m here to warn you, Ariste, but telling you outside is not wise. While you trust the people in this village, I don’t, and it’s both our lives if I’m caught.”
“Come inside,” he offered before turning to Vikex. “The light can go out now, but please stay and keep an eye out for people who shouldn’t be out at night.”
Vikex dipped his head as the clearing plunged into darkness again. Ari stroked Vikex’ feathers for a moment, needing the contact to ease him. Something told him bad things were about to happen and he needed to keep a clear head to ensure he, Miataga and Vikex all survived the impending fall out.
“Miataga, it’s all right. This is Rockis. He’s a commander in the army with me. He was my closest friend aside from Vikex until I met you.” Ari introduced Rockis to Miataga who’d thrown open the front door as soon as the clearing lit up.
“Hello,” Miataga said politely, though there was an edge of nervousness to his voice.
Rockis’ eyes widened when he saw Miataga, but he merely bowed before turning to Ari. “Can we talk here?”
Ari nodded. “Miataga can hear whatever you have to tell me. By being here, he’s involved, whether he wants to be or not.”
He motioned toward the chairs by the fireplace. Once Rockis sat, Ari knelt and started a fire to take the chill off the room. Miataga went to the kitchen area and pulled out a kettle.
“We should make some tea,” Miataga said. “I think this is going to take a while. Are you hungry?” He looked at Rockis.
“No, but thank you. Tea would be nice though.” Rockis followed Miataga with his gaze for a few second then looked at Ari. “There was a rumor that you had taken a whore with you on your leave, but none of us who know you believed it.”
Ari saw Miataga tense and he wanted to take Miataga in his arms, to reassure him. “As you can see the rumors are true to a certain extent, but I’m sure you’re not here to gossip.”
Rockis must have heard the censure in Ari’s voice, for he dipped his head in acknowledgement of Ari’s statement. “You’re right. Quila and I left Sendler as soon as I heard. We traveled as fast as we could, hoping we got here before the others. Unfortunately, she can’t fly as fast—or as far—as Vikex can.”
“But I haven’t seen any other soldiers around here,” Ari protested.
Miataga held out the kettle and Ari wrapped it in his hands. After whispering a few words and focusing his power, the water inside the pot was hot. Rockis didn’t response until after Miataga finished pouring out the tea and settled at Ari’s feet.
Frowning, Rockis stared into the flames. “You haven’t seen them in the village because they are waiting about a day’s travel back to Sendler. They think you’ll be taking that course when you leave here.”
“We were. My cousin, Barke, is having visions and we were taking him back to the capitol, so he could start his training.” Ari scrubbed his hand over his face. “I guess we could swing to the east and bypass them,” he muttered.
“You could do that, but you’d still have to stop in Sendler and that isn’t a good idea at the moment,” Rockis told him.
Miataga gave him a confused look. “Why are they after you?”
Ari snorted. “Because I’m not the obedient soldier any more. Too many men and birds have died for no reason in silly little squabbles. It’s not the governor’s fault either. It is all about the Supreme Commander’s greed for more power that has lead so many of them to their deaths.”
On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase
“I hope you never cross his path, Miataga. He’s a monster as far as I’m concerned.” Ari snarled.
“He is, but you need to keep your mouth shut. Bad mouthing him can only get you in trouble. You don’t want to anything to happen to Vikex because of your dissent,” Miataga reminded him.
Ari shook his head. “I don’t, but trust me, Vikex can take care of himself. He wouldn’t allow anyone to touch him except me. If it came down to it, he would fly away back to his flock. It would be difficult for anyone to find him.”
“That sounds great, actually. I would love to run away and have no one find me,” Miataga muttered. Leaving his life behind had always been a fantasy of his, if only so he could see the world beyond the walls of the House he lived in.
“Maybe some day I can kidnap you and take you from Sendler,” Ari said.
“You’ve already done that, though you paid for me instead of kidnapping,” Miataga reminded him.
Ari laughed. “You’re right, but maybe I won’t return you to the House. We could hide among Vikex’s flock. I’m sure they’d keep us safe from the soldiers.”
“Hmm…” Miataga let his eyes drift shut as he thought about the possibility of never seeing the inside of the House he’d lived in all of his life.
Not having to deal with clients who use his body without consideration of his own wishes would be wonderful. He relaxed into Ari’s embrace, savoring the contact.
He must have dozed off. When he woke, he was curled around Ari in the bed. Miataga stretched as little as possible, not wanting to wake Ari up. There was a noise outside and Miataga slid out from under the blankets to wander over to the window.
Peeking around the curtain, he spotted a human-shaped shadow moving across the clearing in front of the cabin. He watched as it edged closer then sink into a crouch.
“What are you looking at?”
Miataga glanced over his shoulder to see Ari propped up in bed, staring at him. “There’s someone outside. He—or she—is watching the cabin,” he told Ari.
“How long has he been there?”
Ari climbed out of bed then yanked on his pants before stalking over to where Miataga stood. He looked around the curtain like Miataga was doing. Miataga knew he’d spotted the watcher when Ari tensed.
“Stay here,” Ari ordered then headed toward the door.
“Wait. You’re not going out there to confront the man, are you?” Miataga wanted to know as he grabbed Ari’s arm. “He might hurt you.”
Ari patted his hand. “I’m a soldier, love. I’m pretty good at defending myself. I want to make sure he isn’t going to cause us any trouble.”
Before Miataga could say anything more, Ari cracked open the door then left without letting any of the light from the fireplace escaped and warn the intruder. Miataga continued to stare out the window, but he couldn’t see anything. It was as though both the watcher and Ari had disappeared. He never really believed in any of the gods worshipped in his country, but at that moment, he prayed to all of them to keep Ari safe.