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On Love’s Wings…

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Thirty-Five-

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.”

“Thank you.”

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…

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Thirty-Four-

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

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Thirty-Three-

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.

All right. 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

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Thirty-Two-

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…

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Thirty-One-

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.”

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Thirty-

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

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Nine-

“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.

On Love’s Wings…

Sorry about not posting anything the first three days of this week. But hey…I actually managed to get an installment done. 🙂 Enjoy!

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Miataga sucked on it then shivered as Ari slid his hands around to hold Miataga’s head still while the kiss went deeper.

When it was time to breath again, Miataga came up for air to discover he was straddling Ari’s lap, rocking against him. Ari pressed Miataga’s head to his shoulder while they calmed their racing hearts.

“I don’t want to come back here again,” Ari muttered, tightening his grip on Miataga’s ass. “Then don’t, or only come once every couple of years to see your siblings. Hell, you could ask Jemsel and Rayme to meet you at a village halfway between the two places. That way you don’t need to see your parents, but you can catch up with events while seeing the people you want to see,” Miataga suggested.

It didn’t matter whether he stayed with Ari or not. All he was concerned about was Ari being happy. Traveling as they were, without too many trappings of civilization, he’d come to discover Ari didn’t seem to think of himself very often. Each minute they were together, Ari had been focused on Miataga’s comfort, doing everything he could to make sure Miataga was happy.

Miataga didn’t think he would ever enjoy traveling often the way Ari and Vikex did. He was too much of a child of the city for that, but he’d go wherever Ari lead. After having dealt with a lot of assholes at the Loving House, spending time with Ari was a breath of fresh air. He trailed his hands over Ari’s shoulders down his back.

Ari grunted. “You’re right. We’ll figure something out, but I’ll admit I’m happy to be leaving tomorrow. We’ll drop Barke off at the base in Sendler then continue onto the Easterly Mountains and Vikex’s flock.”

“You won’t need to stay to help Barke get settled?” Miataga didn’t want to spend any more time than necessary in the capitol. He was afraid someone would force him back to the Loving House and he couldn’t go anywhere else with Ari.

“No. I’ll have to fill out a couple of forms then we can go. You won’t even need to leave the base. I promise,” Ari vowed. “When I get back from my leave, Barke will be ready for training and maybe he’ll have bonded with one of the birds by then. He didn’t say what kind of bird he’d been seeing in his dreams.”

Miataga hummed and relaxed even more, trusting Ari to hold him. “I’m glad I don’t have to leave the base. I’m worried that if we go back to Sendler, someone will make me return to the Lower City. I don’t miss my room in the Loving House, even if I’m not entirely sold on sleeping outdoors.”

Ari chuckled. “I’m impressed with how well you’ve taken to our rough traveling. Maybe if we were going to another part of the country, not the mountains, things would be easier.”

“I don’t mind. It’s different from what I’m used to and that’s fine.” He snuggled closer. “We should probably eat something.”

Ari’s lips moved against Miataga’s skin, but he didn’t hear what the man said. He wasn’t going to push the issue since he liked being in Ari’s embrace. He wiggled and shifted until he lay across Ari’s lap, so they could stare at the fire together.

Ari shrugged, lifting Miataga’s head whit his shoulder. “It depends. Some bonds are easier than others. I know some soldiers who had a great deal of trouble at first because their bonds with the birds were weak. As the years go by, the link between a man and his bird can grow stronger. For Vikex and me, our bond was natural as though we’d been born with our minds linked and it just took a while for us to find each other.”

Miataga smiled. “Born on opposite sides of the country does make it difficult to find each other quickly. How did you get out of the village? Seems like your parents weren’t happy about you leaving.”

“I ran away,” Ari confessed. “It was the only way I could find Vikex and not go crazy. It was hard since I’d never been away from the village in all of my sixteen years. I was lucky no one tried to rob me. By the time I got to Sendler, I’d run out of food and hadn’t eaten in days. I explained to the gate guards why I was there. Thank the gods, they sent me to the base and I’ve been there ever since. Vikex flew in the next morning.” Ari pressed a kiss to Miataga’s temple. “I woke up at first light that day and wandered out to the landing fields. I stood there for two hours then a bright golden bird dropped from the sky.”

“It must have been a sight,” Miataga murmured.

“Yes. It was like the sun had left the sky and joined us mortals on the ground. He looked into my eyes and I knew he was the one I was meant to meet. I will admit the officers weren’t happy about it. In fact, the Supreme Commander came down from his palace. He tried to bond with Vikex, but the phoenix wouldn’t give him a second of his time. Vikex focused on me and would only listen to me.” Ari tensed slightly. “The Supreme Commander wasn’t happy. He felt insulted, which is why he hates me and I have no respect for him.”

Miataga squeezed him. “I don’t blame you. I’ve met him and found him to be rather arrogant.” And violent, but he wasn’t going to tell Ari that. “I never had him as a client, but some of the other whores at my House have. They don’t have anything nice to say about him.”

There had been times where Miataga had doctored his fellow whores after sessions with the Commander. Quite a few of them had broken bones and serious injuries. Miataga had considered himself extremely lucky that the Supreme Commander had never bought him.

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Seven-

“I’ll tell Barke and he’ll meet you in the morning. I know he’s ready to leave this place, even if he hadn’t been having visions. Some of our younger members aren’t meant to work the land or cut the trees.” Rayme began to walk away. “I’ll bring you the blankets and pillows after that.”

Jemles motioned for Ari and Miataga to follow him. Miataga looked around as they made their way through the village toward the forest. The other villagers watched them, but didn’t approach and Miataga wondered if they were just staying out of the fight between Ari and his father or if they sided with Mr. Dosterta. He gave a mental shrug. It didn’t matter. They were leaving the village as soon as they could and he doubted Ari would ever come back.

“Here we go.” Jemles waved his hand in the direction of a small cabin.

Miataga studied the building and was surprised. The cabin looked as though it was well made and cared for. There were even flowers planted along the front porch. He smiled at Ari.

“I like it,” he said.

“Well, let’s go inside and air it out a little,” Ari suggested before pushing open the door.

They stepped inside and Miataga gasped. For as plain as the outside was, the inside was gorgeous. The walls were covered in carvings of trees and animals. There wasn’t a surface untouched. It was a one-room cabin with a bed on one wall and the fireplace was opposite it. There was two wooden chairs placed in front of the fireplace and table set to the side.

He reached out to run his fingers over the relief of a young rabbit. “This is amazing. Who carved them?”

Jemles shrugged. “I don’t know. The cabin’s been here forever as far as I’m concerned. Rayme and I discovered it about seven years ago and we’ve been keeping it clean since then. It’s a great place to come when Father and Mother get on their high horses.”

“It’s beautiful,” Miataga murmured as he wandered around the room.

“Here you go.”

He turned to see Rayme stroll into the cabin, a basket over her arm. Barke came in behind her, carrying blankets and pillows. He set them on the bed while Rayme placed the basket on the table.

“I brought you some food for tonight. Stop by the house in the morning and I’ll have some supplies ready for you. No point in you going hungry while heading back to Sendler.”

“Thank you.” Ari kissed her cheek. “I do appreciate all you and Jemles are doing for us.”

She dismissed his words with a wave of her hand. “Your father is an blowhard, Ariste. I’m happy to help you and Miataga. Please, I hope you will come back and visit soon. You don’t have to stay at the house. This cabin is available whenever you want.”

“I’ll have to think about it and calm down a little more before I talk to him again.” Ari shook his head. “I can’t believe he did all those things without telling any of you. Especially not allowing the young people who are having visions to go find their destinies. They’re playing with fire by doing that.”

“Speaking of fire, your phoenix is in the clearing,” Jemles said from where he stood in the doorway.

“His name is Vikex,” Ari informed his brother then disappeared from the cabin.

Rayme and Jemles looked at Miataga. He went over to the basket and opened it, checking at the contents.

“You’ll need to remember that Vikex is more than a bird to Ari. In many ways, he is Ari’s soul mate.” He shot a glance at Barke. “That’s something you get to look forward to, though I do think Ari and Vikex’ bond is far stronger than the normal bonds.”

Barke frowned. “I’ll have a bond bird?”

Miataga crouched in front of the fireplace. He tossed a couple of logs on the ashes then worked on getting a fire started. “I do believe you will since you’ve been having dreams about such things. Ari will tell you more about it while we head back to Sendler.”

He yawned and Rayme smiled.

“We’ll leave you alone. Remember to stop by in the morning. I’d like to say good-bye.” She patted his shoulder then gathered the other two to go.

Miataga heard them talking with Ari outside. Once the fire burned, he went and got the bed ready. It wasn’t long before Ari entered. He dropped into one of the chairs then sighed.

Joining him, Miataga sat on the floor and leaned his head against Ari’s knee. Ari ran his fingers through Miataga’s hair as they both stared at the flames for a few minutes in silence.

“Is Vikex all right?” Miataga asked, breaking the quiet.

“Yes. He’s happy to know we’re leaving tomorrow.” Ari put his finger under Miataga’s chin and lifted it so their gazes met. “Thank you for stopping me from doing something I’d regret earlier.”

Miataga nodded slightly. “It might sound strange, but I feel like we’re friends and I had the feeling you’d feel guilty after the anger left you. I didn’t want you to feel that. Besides, he might be a bastard, but he is your father. There are some ties left there.”

Smiling, Ari leaned down to brush a kiss over Miataga’s lips. Miataga pushed up onto his knees to deepen the kiss. He moaned and Ari took advantage of his open mouth to sweep his tongue in.

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Six-

They shared amused glances then Ari’s voice drifted on the breeze over to them and Miataga stiffened.

“No, Father. I’m not going to be dealing with you any more. I’ll be informing the officials in Sendler that they will be talking to Caritsal and Samles. All money the families get will go to them and they will be handing it out. Even the stipend you receive.” Ari glared at his father. “My money will go to Jemsel. He’ll ensure the entire family benefits from it instead of just you and Mother.”

“I’ve always shared our fortune,” Mr. Dosterta protested.

Jemsel snorted. “Ariste knows the truth, Father.” He looked at his brother. “Hell, Rayme has been doing the books for a year or so. It won’t be hard to take over the rest of it.”

“You can’t do that.” Ari’s father shoved Ari in the chest. “This is my village. I’m the elder here. You listen to me.”

Miataga rushed forward to grab Ari’s arm before he did something. He could tell Ari had reached the limit of his tolerance for his father. “Don’t do anything you’ll regret. He is your father, Ari. You have every right to hate him right now, but trust me, you’ll hate yourself if you hit him.”

Ari met his gaze and he gasped. There were flickers of orange and red in Ari’s golden eyes, showing how truly mad he was. It was probably the first time someone had raised their hands to him since he’d entered the military. The enemy soldiers didn’t count. This was his father who threatened to hurt him and there was no way Ari would allow that. But Miataga knew once Ari cooled down, he’d be upset if he did something to his father in his anger.

“You can find somewhere else to stay, Ariste. You’re no longer welcomed in my home,” Ari’s father shouted.

“That’s fine. We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning. I have to stop in Sendler before we continue on to Vikex’s flock.” Ari tuned to face his brother, dismissing his father.

“Ariste, you and your friend can stay with us tonight,” Caristal offered. “Our daughters can share a bed, and you can take our oldest’s.”

Miataga was surprised by the offer, though he was happy. Ari shook his head.

“Thank you, Caristal, but we’ll sleep outside tonight. Vikex will come back and keep us warm. When you and your daughter are ready for her to come to the capitol, please contact me. I’ll be willing to sponsor her.”

Caristal nodded. “Thank you, Ariste. Will we see you before you leave?”

Ari shrugged. “If I can get Barke to meet us early, we’ll leave at sunrise. There’s no point in us staying here any longer.”

Miataga allowed Ari to take his hand and drag him from the hall. Rayme and Jemles followed them. Miataga didn’t try to convince Ari to take Caristal up on her offer. As much as he didn’t want to sleep outside, he understood why Ari had said no. It wasn’t like any of the villagers had been particularly friendly since Air left for the capitol. Now that they realized there was monetary gain involved with their children serving the government, they were being nice.

“Ariste, you don’t have to sleep outside to prove a point,” Rayme said. “There’s a perfectly good cabin a little ways down the trail from your parents’ house. You can stay there tonight. No need for Vikex to come in until the morning. I know he doesn’t like hanging around the village.”

“While you and Miataga gather your bags, Rayme and I will get pillows, blankets and sheets for you. The cabin is clean, but will need a little airing out. We’ll also pack some food for you.” Jemles held up his hand when Ari started to say something. “No. I’m not worried about what Father will say. He’s been ruling this family and village with an iron hand. It’s time someone else took over and we’ll do it my way. It is his home.”

Ari grasped his brother’s shoulder. “Thank you, Jemles. I wouldn’t ask you to go against him about our sleeping arrangements. You’re right. It is his house still and he has the right not to want me there. I’m happy to hear about the cabin though, since I know Miataga wouldn’t have been thrilled to sleep outside.”

“Hey now, I would’ve done it,” Miataga protested.

Leaning over, Ari brushed a kiss over Miataga’s cheek. “I know you would’ve done it for me. Now there’s no reason to be uncomfortable. Show us to the cabin then I need to find Barke and have him start packing.”