Archive for Free story

On Love’s Wings

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

Part Fifteen-

A little while later, Ari touched Miataga’s hand then pointed to a break in the forest below them. Miataga could see the smoke from several fires drifting into the air. It was a fairly large sized village compared to some of the ones they’d flown over on their journey.

“We’ll be landing the village square. It’s the biggest spot for us. Once we’ve gotten our packs and unharnessed Vikex, he’ll leave. He spends his time in the forest since his presence makes them uneasy.” The phoenix shot a quick glance back at them and Ari chuckled. “Also, he doesn’t like them any more than they do him. He’d rather be alone then with the village folk.”

“You do realize that nothing you’ve told me so far makes me want to meet them,” Miataga pointed out. “It all actually makes me wish I told you to leave me at the last village and pick me on your way back through. I should be more scared to meet a flock of phoenix then come face-to-face with your family.”

Ari sighed. “I know. I’m sorry. It’s probably not going to be as bad as I’m making it out to be.”

Vikex’s screech could be taken as a snort and Miataga laughed. “I don’t think he agrees with you.”

“Most likely not.” Ari leaned forward to pat Vikex’ shoulder. “Let’s land then you can go.”

Angling to the right, Vikex began to descend in long sweeping circles. By the time they landed, a group of people stood on the edges of the village square. Miataga took a deep breath then climbed off. He wandered far enough away for Ari to jump down before tossing him their packs. Watching over them, he waited until Ari finished unharnessed Vikex.

“You can go now,” Ari told the phoenix.

Vikex stretched out his wings, brushing the tip of one over Miataga’s cheek before launching himself into the air. Standing there for a second, Miataga watched Vikex fly away and wished he could be with the phoenix. Ari joined him then touched his arm.

“Come on,” Ari said. “Let’s get this over with.”

“All right.” Clinging to Ari wasn’t the best way to meet his family for the first time. “I can do this,” he muttered.

“Yes, you can,” Ari whispered before leading him to a group of villagers standing a little apart from the others.

Studying them as he approached, Miataga could see the family resemblance. Yet there was a marked difference and it wasn’t just the scars marring Ari’s body. It had more to do with the set of Ari’s shoulders and the darkness in his golden eyes. Confidence shown in every inch of Ari’s body. It held his back straight, made him believe he could anything he put his mind to—except convince a whore to accompany him on a journey. The darkness came from the battles and bloodshed Ari had witnessed over the years he served in the army. It made him harder than the family members he left behind.

While the villagers looked rough around the edges compared to the people Miataga interacted with at the Loving House, they were clean and innocent in how they saw the world. The only thing that mattered to them was family and the land they tended. Which was the reason they couldn’t understand why Ari left to find his destiny with a bird.

Miataga snorted silently. Oh what a bird Vikex was. Unfortunately, Ari’s family and friends couldn’t see how special the phoenix was. All they saw was a giant bird.

“Father. Mother.” Ari nodded to the older couple in the middle of the separate group. “This is my friend, Miataga.”

“Sir. Ma’am.” Miataga bowed slightly as they stared at him in shock. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

The woman inclined her head, but Ari’s father ignored him. Miataga was used to people acting like he wasn’t around. Didn’t matter one way or another as long as Ari didn’t toss him aside.

“Ariste, why do you only come for your mother’s birthday? You never visit for any other reason.” Ari’s father complained as he grabbed Ari’s arm to drag him away from Miataga.

He was willing to let Ari go, seeing how it was his father and all. Ari wasn’t having any of that. Miataga found himself stumbling in their wake as they left the square because Ari wouldn’t let go of his hand. Mrs. Dosterta followed behind them.

“Our packs?” Miataga glanced over his shoulder.

“Don’t worry. One of the boys will get them along with the bird’s harness,” Mrs. Dostera told him. Flashing a smile at her, he said, “Thank you, ma’am.”

“I’ve been fighting a war, Father. They don’t give leave out while we’re at the front lines. This is the first time I’ve had a chance at a vacation in a year or more.” Ari gestured in the direction Vikex went. “Vikex was injured in our last battle, so I stayed around to nurse him back to health. I’m not going to apologize for not coming sooner. I’ve told you before I can’t just come whenever you want me. I’m answerable to my superior officers now.”

Mr. Dosterta shook his head. “Foolish. They could let you come for the harvest at least. We could use another set of hands out in the fields.”

Miataga bit his bottom lip, holding back a reply, even though the man hadn’t been talking to him. It looked like there was a bunch of kids running around who belonged to Ari’s family. He doubted they really needed Ari to help with anything.

“Father, the others are still here,” Ari pointed out. “How are you doing, Mother?”

It was obvious Ari didn’t want to discuss his absence any more. Miataga got the feeling it was an old argument between Ari and his father.

“I’m fine, Ariste. It’s nice of you come and to bring your friend?” Her voice lifted at the end in a question.

“Yes, Miataga is my friend. I hope you both will treat him with respect.” Ari stared at both his parents.

On Love’s Wings

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

Part Fourteen-

“We’re about ten minutes away from my village,” Ari murmured in Miataga’s ear as Vikex flew them high above the pine forest. “Vikex will land in a minute or so and we’ll clean up before we arrive. Not that either of us are dirty, but it’s always wise to look presentable when meeting my mother.”

“Good thing we stopped at that town and bought me some different clothes,” Miataga replied. “I’m not sure your parents would be thrilled if I showed up dressed in my usual outfit.”

Ari chuckled. “You’re right. Also, those thin pieces of fabric weren’t going to keep you warm enough up here. That’s really why I stopped, though I didn’t want you upset by their reactions either.”

Miataga twisted a little to meet Ari’s gaze. “You were thinking about not embarrassing me?”

“Yes. You’re far more important than my family is.” Ari glanced sideways for a second then looked back. “I’ve already told you that we’re not close and that the only reason I’m visiting this time is because it’s my mother’s birthday. There’s no other reason for me to be here.”

Leaning back against Ari, Miataga stared at the ground as they glided down to a clearing near a stream. He stayed silent when they landed and Ari helped him climb down. After patting Vikex’ shoulder, Miataga grabbed the bag Ari held out to him.

“Are you going to start a fire here? Or just heat up the water with your hand?” He flashed Ari a smile.

“Probably use my power. As much as I’d like to waste as much time as possible and prolong our trip, I can’t.” Ari dug out a bucket, a cloth and their little container of soap.

Miataga nodded. “Right. Get it over with. You don’t have to stay there a certain number of days, do you? Heck, we could get there today and stay only long enough for the party. Then leave the next day.”

Vikex chirped as though he agreed and a slight glow of happiness burned in Miataga’s chest at the thought that the phoenix might be coming to like him. He knew the best way into Ari’s heart would be having his bond bird like Miataga. Do I really want to have anything more than a physical relationship with Ari? He’s a commander in the army and I’m a whore. It’s not a pairing that usually means lasting commitment.

Ari offered his arm and Miataga settled his hand in the crook of Ari’s elbow, letting a smile lift the corners of his lips. Even in the middle of a forest, where no one could see them, Ari treated Miataga as though he were a prince. It was something Miataga wasn’t used to. Usually his customers grunted and dragged him to his room.

Once they got to the stream, he pulled out his clean pair of pants and shirt. He brought them up to his nose to sniff the still fresh smell of soap. The laundress they’d bought them from had just washed them. She’d been more than willing to sell them to a commander. Miataga had been amazed at how the townsfolk had treated Ari. It was like he was an old friend coming home for a long journey.

Ari had explained that he and Vikex often stopped at this particular town on their trip to and from Ari’s home village. The people enjoyed hearing all the gossip from the capital since they rarely got any news other than proclamations having to do with new laws or taxes. That hadn’t surprised Miataga since he knew the people who lived in the city didn’t care about their country cousins, except for when they wanted money. He understood monetary issues since one of his more frequent customers worked in the revenue department of the government.

“Here you go.” Ari set the bucket next to him. “It’s already heated, so you can wash up without being too cold.”

Even though the water was warm, the air around them wasn’t. They both rushed through their cleaning up, drying up in a hurry before tugging on their clothes. When they were done, Ari lead the way back to the clearing where Vikex waited. The phoenix rubbed his beak over Ari’s hair then nudged Miataga in the chest.

“Vikex approves,” Ari said with a laugh.

“We’ve been bathing. I didn’t think we smelled that bad,” Miataga commented while putting his bag back in the traveling packs.

Ari stuffed his clothes in the pack as well. “As weird as it might be, his sense of smell is better than ours. Almost as good as a canine’s, so no matter how well we washed, he’d still smell us. Don’t worry. I didn’t have a problem.”

Ari nuzzled Miataga’s neck and he tilted his head, giving Ari more access to his throat. Grasping Ari’s waist, he moaned then shuddered at the sharp nip Ari gave him. He wondered if they had time for a little fun, but then Ari jumped. Miataga opened his eyes to see Ari rubbing his ass and glaring at Vikex.

“All right, you annoying creature. We’ll get going. I don’t know why you’re in such a hurry. You don’t like it there anymore than I do.” Ari helped Miataga mount before climbing up behind him. “Let’s get this over with. Then we can head to the place we really want to be.”

Miataga settled back against Ari’s chest, holding his breath as Vikex launched them into the air. No matter how many times it happened, he didn’t think he’d ever get used to it. Flying over the earth hadn’t been something he imagined he’d do in his life. Of course, he never thought he’d ever be able to leave lower Sendler or the Loving House. Miataga covered Ari’s hands with his then squeezed. He had Ari to thank for the chance to see the rest of the country.

No matter what happened at Ari’s village, Miataga would appreciate his time spent there—if only because it helped broaden his view of the world around him.

On Love’s Wings…

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

Part Thirteen-

“So pretty,” he whispered as he moved closer. Sliding his hands down to Miataga’s breeches, he begins to unbutton them then he stopped. “Are you sure this is what you want? You don’t have to sleep with me just because I paid for you. I wanted a companion for the journey. The rest is up to you.”

Miataga grabbed the back of Ari’s head and crushed their lips together. While their tongues dueled, Ari fumbled with the buttons on Miataga’s pants. He chuckled a little when Miataga started helping him and their fingers tangled together.

Ari pushed Miataga a few inches away, breaking their kiss. “I guess your answer is yes.”

“Yes. I want to have sex with you. Not because you paid for me, but because I’m attracted to you. I’ve never felt quite this intense of a need before.” Miataga frowned a little as though he was confused by what he felt. “I mean I have had customers that I’ve desired before, which makes having sex nicer than when I don’t want a person. Yet I’ve lusted after you from the moment I saw you. So there is no doubt I’m more than happy to be doing this with you.”

Miataga fell back onto the blankets while Ari followed him, tugging the fabric down over his hips then stripped his pants off. He tossed them to the side before he studied the pale body laid out in front of him.

There was no hair anywhere on Miataga’s body except for his head, eyebrows and eyelashes. There were no marks either. He was as smooth and as white as the alabaster statues Ari had seen in the Supreme Commander’s house. Yet for that Miataga looked faked, Ari could see a flush of excitement staining his skin.

“You’re so beautiful,” he muttered, leaning down to press a kiss to the center of Miataga’s chest. “You need to get naked,” Miataga ordered then plucked at Ari’s sleeve. “I want to see you.”

Ari shook his head even as he started unhooking his uniform. “No you don’t. I’m not anywhere near as pretty as you. I’m fighting the urge to put out the lantern and try to hide in the shadows created by the fire.”

He froze when Miataga rose up on his knees then pushed Ari’s hands aside. There was such a look of fierce determination on his face.

“I told you before. Your scars don’t matter. I hate being fucked by someone who couldn’t be bothered to remove his clothes. It’s like I’m nothing but a hole for him to come in.” Miataga practically growled at him.

Those statements caused Ari to shove aside all his doubts and fears. He didn’t want Miataga to ever think he was just a hole to Ari. He’d never felt like that about any of the people he’d slept with over the years. Of course, he hadn’t been nearly as scarred as he was at the present.

Giving himself a mental shake, he realized none of it mattered. All that did matter was making sure Miataga enjoyed the experience and might consider doing it again once they were done.

Before Ari could make another move, Miataga shoved his uniform off his shoulders then motioned for him to do the rest. He undressed the rest of the way and threw his clothes over to where Miataga’s were crumpled in the corner of the tent.

He rested his hands on his thighs while he studied Miataga’s face. If there was any sign of pity or disgust in Miataga’s eyes, Ari would leave. Yet to his surprise, he saw nothing there except lust and caring, which wasn’t an emotion he expected to see in a stranger’s expression.

Miataga held out his hand and Ari took it, letting his soon-to-be lover ease him down onto the blankets. He shuddered when Miataga trailed kissed down his chest, over the ridges of his stomach and dipped his tongue into his belly button. He sucked in air when Miataga licked the flared head of his cock before wrapping his lips around it.

Threading his fingers in the silken strands of Miataga’s hair, Ari let his head drop back onto the pillows he’d brought and sighed. The wet heat and suction surrounded his flesh, urging him to slide in and out of Miataga’s mouth. He kept his grip light, not wanting Miataga to feel forced into taking him.

Cool fingers stroked along his damaged side, yet Ari couldn’t bring himself to move away or even tense with worry. If his scars had offended Miataga, he wouldn’t be touching Ari. That much Ari knew. Time lost all meaning as Miataga played him like an instrument and Miataga was a maestro. Suddenly Miataga pulled away and Ari whimpered in protest. He lifted his head to watch Miataga straddle his hips.

“Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere. I just thought it was time for you to fuck me,” Miataga informed him. “I’m ready and I know you are.”

“How are you ready? I didn’t give you any lubrication or stretched you.” Ari frowned, not wanting Miataga to hurt himself because he was in a hurry.

Placing one of his fingers on Ari’s mouth, Miataga smiled. “When we’re working, we wear a plug that keeps us stretched and ready at all times.”

Ari winced at the thought of Miataga wearing it while they flew. “Why didn’t you say something? I would’ve waited until you took it out before we left. It couldn’t have been comfortable during our flight.”

Miataga shrugged. “I’m used to it by now. I didn’t have any discomfort.”

He wanted to protest some more, but Miataga reached behind him and took Ari’s shaft in a firm grip. Ari held onto Miataga’s waist, helping him balance as he positioned himself over Ari then lowered inch by inch onto his cock. They both bit their lips as Ari went deeper until Miataga’s ass pressed tight to Ari’s groin. Panting, Miataga braced his hands on Ari’s chest for a second.

“Are you okay?” Ari asked, caressing the soft skin stretched over Miataga’s hipbone.

“Oh, I’m better than okay.” Miataga rose up then dropped down and Ari grunted.

Tight and hot. Ari never imagined anyone’s ass could feel so perfect as he filled it. He allowed Miataga to set the rhythm, but he made sure to meet each stroke down with a thrust. He must have hit the right spot because Miataga cried out then began to rock even faster.

“Ari,” Miataga shouted as he came, seed spilling from his own shaft to coat Ari’s stomach and chest. The clenching of Miataga’s inner channel massaged Ari’s length until he yelled as well, flooding Miataga with his cum. They trembled and shook as their orgasms rippled through them.

He grunted when Miataga collapsed onto his chest. After wrapping his arms around him, Ari sighed and closed his eyes.

On Love’s Wings…

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase (I promise you’ll get the good stuff next week)

Part Twelve-

Miataga knew all the right things to say, and Ari tried not to wonder whether he meant them. In the end, it wasn’t important. It wasn’t like they were going to keep seeing each other once Ari’s leave was over. If Miataga didn’t hate him by the end, they might see each other a few times when Ari was in Sendler at the base.

They finished their meals and Ari had Miataga clean the bowls while he set up the small tent for them. He didn’t usually use a tent when it was just him and Vikex. His bond bird would spread one of his wings out to keep the rain off Ari, if it rained, and the heat rolling off the phoenix kept him warm.

He didn’t want that kind of rough sleeping for Miataga. While he didn’t think the man was soft—or weak, he did know Miataga wasn’t used to being outside for any length of time. So he wanted to make sure he’d be okay.

Tilting his head, Vikex looked at Ari, who whispered, “I want him to be as comfortable as possible. He’s being a rather good sport about the whole thing.”

The phoenix chirped softly then reached out to preen Ari’s hair for a second. “I know. I like him too. Maybe we should scrap visiting my family and go right to your flock.”

The glare he got from Vikex caused him to chuckle. “I know. I’d hear about it forever. Which is odd since they don’t really like me, but Mother thinks I owe her a visit once in a while. If I don’t show up, she’ll try to layer on the guilt and get me to show up at some point. It is her birthday.”

“We’re going to visit your family on your mother’s birthday?” Miataga sounded rather worried.

Turning away from Vikex, Ari gave Miataga a slight grimace. “Yes. It’s the only reason why we’re going to my home. If it hadn’t been for that, we’d be headed right to Vikex’.”

Miataga poked Ari in his chest. “I can’t believe you’re bringing a whore to your family’s home on your mother’s birthday.”

He grabbed Miataga’s hand and pulled him close. “Don’t tell her what you do if you don’t want to. They’re going to treat you terribly either way. I told you they don’t like me that much and you being from the city is going to set them on edge.”

“Then why bring me?” Miataga lifted his chin and Ari focused on his plump lips instead of what he was saying.

Burying his fingers in Miataga’s hair, he held Miataga still while plundering his mouth. His tongue dueled with Miataga’s and he grunted when Vikex bumped him with his beak.

“All right,” he said after breaking off the kiss. “Let’s head to bed. Vikex, can you keep an eye on the fire? There should be enough wood to burn all night.” Ari stroked Vikex’ crest. “Sleep well, my friend.”

He held open the door flap of the tent then gestured for Miataga to crawl in. “It’s not what you’re used to, but it’ll stay dry and we’ll be warm.”

“Even naked?” Miataga wiggled his eyebrows at him.

Ari laughed. “Yes, even naked. This tent has been crafted for men out in the field during battles and situations like that.”

Miataga dropped to his hands and knees, presenting Ari an extremely nice view of his ass as he entered the tent. Ari caressed those firm globes then grinned when Miataga pushed back into his hands. He smacked one cheek.

“Get in there and strip,” he ordered before joining Miataga inside.

He tied the flaps closed then turn to see Miataga sitting there without a shirt. His pale chest was bare and Ari trailed his fingers over the smooth skin.

On Love’s Wings….

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

Part Eleven-

Ari couldn’t help wondering what Miataga had wanted to say, but he chose not to comment on it. “Unfortunately, I’m taking you out when the weather is kind of chilly. If we’d been out earlier in the year, it would be warmer at night.”

Miataga patted his shoulder. “Don’t worry. I have you to keep me safe. It’ll be fine.”

They arrived at the creek and Ari motioned to the water. “It’ll be a little cold. Here is some soap.”

He held out the soap cake, letting Miataga wash up first while he filled two bottles with water. He tossed two purifying pills into one of them. The other he’d warm up in the morning so Miataga wasn’t too chilled from cleaning. He assumed that Miataga was used to bathing regularly while in the city. Many of the larger Loving Houses catered to higher society who wouldn’t appreciate their whores being dirty or smelling.

“Oh my God,” Miataga gasped. “You were right. It is cold.”

“The water is runoff from the snow higher in the mountains.” Ari tilted his head in the direction of the foothills. “Further up, the rivers and creeks freeze. Some will be solid. Others, we could chip through the ice to get to the water if we wanted.”

Miataga grimaced after he finished rinsing the soap off. Ari took his hands in his and focused a little bit of the fire burning at his core to warming his skin. Miataga murmured, moving closer and Ari encircled him, letting him snuggle against his chest. He buried his face into Miataga’s curls, breathing in his rather unique spicy scent.

This time he didn’t move away when Miataga tilted his head so their lips brushed. It was the first time in a long time he’d kissed someone who could actually see his face. Usually, he didn’t kiss anyone and had sex in the dark because it was easier for him, knowing they wouldn’t be able to see his scars.

Something told him this entire journey was going to be very different from the other ones he’d taken with Vikex. Having Miataga with them had already changed things simply because they’d never had another person join them. Ari wasn’t sure he really wanted to take Miataga to his home village. The people there would treat him like he was dirt if they knew what he did for a living.

Giving himself a mental slap, he refocused on Miataga’s mouth, sweeping his tongue in to tease and duel with Miataga’s. He slid his hands down to cup Miataga’s ass and lifted him until he got the idea to wrap his legs around Ari’s waist. They mashed their mouths together, causing Ari’s lip to split. The coopery taste of blood hit him, but he didn’t care about the slight twinge of pain. Miataga rocked his groin into Ari’s and moaned. Ari spread his legs for better balance, but didn’t stop Miataga from moving.

Vikex’s cry came from the clearing then and Ari sighed. He lowered Miataga until the man’s feet touched the ground. “I’m sorry. We need to get back to the clearing or our dinner will burn. Vikex can’t get them out of the fire.”

The look he got from Miataga brought a smile to his face. “I promise. We’ll pick that up after dinner. We really do need to get the meals out before they burn. Come on.”

He gathered the bottles then offered his hand to Miataga who grabbed it and smiled. They strolled back to the clearing where Vikex perched on a falling tree close to the fire, watching the flames. Ari dug through the bag to find two cups. One of the water bottles he set aside for the morning.

Miataga sat close to Vikex, soaking up the heat from both the fire and the phoenix. He reached into the flames to pull out the packets. Seeing Miataga’s worried expression, Ari grinned.

“It just feels slightly warm and there aren’t any burns.” He held up his hands, showing them to Miataga. “Just be careful when you take a bite of your meal. It’ll be hot.”

Ari sorted out the food into the bowls before handing one over to Miataga along with a spoon. He poured some water into a cup and set it next to Miataga’s leg. Then he joined him.

“It’s not the best tasting food in the world, but it’ll do until we get to the village.” Ari blew on the bite he’d scooped up.

“Not too bad,” Miataga said after taking a bite. “I’ve had worse before I started working as a whore. When I was just helping clean up around the place, I got scraps and well water. Trust me, this is much better.”

There wasn’t much he could say about that. He’d never been without food in his life, whether it was in his original village or at the military base in Sendler. Sure, there had been times when the food tasted terrible while there were battles and wars raging. Yet he’d never had to worry where his next meal was coming from. He reached over to touch Miataga’s hand.

“I’m sorry.”

Miataga frowned. “For what?”

“For what you’ve had to live with and what you live with now.”

“You don’t have to feel sorry for me. I’m not complaining. It’s my life. Might not be what most people would want to do, but it keeps me fed and housed. I have friends there and I have a few returning customers.” Miataga laughed. “I don’t know anything different, though coming with you might ruin everything for me.”

Ari snorted and Vikex chortled as though he were laughing. “Camping out in the forest and eating pre-made dinners while washing up in ice cold streams is going to make you rethink going back to the Loving House? If you like it out here more than you do in the city, I might have to consider getting your head checked out.”

“Oh, it would be the company I kept while on this adventure that would ruin everything, not where I slept or what I ate.”

On Love’s Wings

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

Part Ten-

He kept his gaze averted, not wanting to see disgust or fear on Miataga’s face, but Miataga wasn’t allowing it.

“You look at me. I see nothing for you to be ashamed of.” Miataga shook Ari slightly. He trailed his fingers over the scars marring Ari’s face. “These are not a reflection of your soul. They are proof that you’ve survived something that probably would’ve killed a weaker person.”

Ari shook his head. “They come from harnessing the fire living inside Vikex, not from any kind of struggle. Just battles and death.”

Miataga stroked his cheek. “You hate them, don’t you?”

“Of course, I do. To me, they only represent death, destruction and pain.” He pulled away as Miataga started to lean in. He didn’t want Miataga to kiss him. Not right then. “Could you set my helmet over by our bags?”

There wasn’t any argument. Miataga did as he asked and Ari was happy for that. It had been difficult enough to remove his helmet. He wasn’t sure how’d he handle it when the time came to strip out of his uniform.

“Would you like to learn how to start a fire?” He made the offer as an olive branch, not sure if Miataga would take it. He didn’t want Miataga to be offended by his withdrawal. “Or at least how to start one when you can manipulate flame?”

Miataga’s soft chuckle brought a smile to Ari’s face. “All right, but maybe one night you can show me how to do it the normal way. Just in case I end up having to start on my own.”

He laughed. “I can do that.”

After piling several sticks and twigs together in a shallow pit, Ari held his hand over them and concentrated. Heat flared throughout his body then began to pool in his palm. A flash of red and orange caused Miataga to gasp. Flames trickled from his fingertips down onto the wood where it danced along the curves and knots until it caught hold.

“Wow. That’s amazing,” Miataga murmured. “Does it hurt when you do it?”

Ari flexed his hand, trying to get the tingling to go away. “Not something small like this. If I were trying to burn down a forest or destroy a battalion of enemy soldiers, there would be new scars on some part of my body. There have been times when I’ve done too much, and I’ll pass out because I run out of energy. Vikex will carry me away to heal.”

“You’re lucky to have him.” Miataga edged closer to the heat. “Do you need me to help with the food? Though I really don’t have any real idea what to do.”

Vikex landed nearby and the wind created by his wings fanned the flames slightly higher. Ari went to where he crouched and rested his hand on Vikex’s neck.

“You’re all right,” he asked.

The phoenix nodded before nudging the bag holding their food supplies at him. Ari grabbed it then returned to Miataga. “You can help by pulling out two bowls from the bag. When I packed, I grabbed field rations for our trip to my family. They’re already wrapped. All I have to do it toss them into the fire so they’ll warm up.”

“Did you think you’d have to take care of me the entire time you were on leave?” Miataga frowned as he dug through the bag to get the bowls out.

“To be honest, I didn’t really think you’d have any clue what to do on a camping trip. It isn’t like you go outside the city, right? I don’t mind taking care of things. My mother will cook while we’re at my village. I’ll teach you how to do it once we get to Vikex’s flock since I have to cook for myself.” He laughed. “That’s the hard thing about birds not having hands. We won’t have to worry about going hungry. The phoenix are good hunters, so we’ll have meat.”

Miataga nodded. “I’m actually looking forward to learning all of this. You never know when it’ll come in handy.”

Looking up, he caught Miataga’s gaze and smiled. He doubted Miataga would ever need to start a fire or know how to cook for himself once they returned to Sendler. Yet it was nice of him to act as though he were excited about it all.

“After I get dinner going, I’ll set up our sleeping area. I didn’t bring a tent. It’s not supposed to rain the next couple of days. Just blankets, plus we’ll have Vikex to keep us warm.” Ari tossed two dinner packets into the fire. “Want to come with me to the creek? You can wash up and I’ll get us some water to drink.”

“Yes.” Miataga looked at the fire. “Will that be all right?”

Ari nodded. “Vikex will keep an eye on everything. Don’t worry. We’ll be back before the food burns.”

He offered Miataga his hand to help him stand. Then he tucked Miataga’s hand in the crook of his elbow, escorting him across the clearing toward the creek as though they were in the finest house in Sendler and Miataga was the most important person in his world.

Ari sniffed softly. He was an idiot. Aside from Vikex, Miataga was the only person in his world. His bond with the phoenix unnerved the rest of the soldiers he fought with. They feared that he might loose control of the fire some day and burn them all. So while they respected him, they stayed a certain distance from him. None of them were his friends.

“It’s so quiet out here,” Miataga commented as they wound their way through the trees. “I’ve never slept outside. This whole trip will be an adventure.”

“I hope you enjoy it,” Ari muttered. “And don’t hate me by the time this is over.”

Miataga opened his mouth, then shut it as though he were rethinking what he wanted to say. “It might take me a day or two, but I think it’s something I could learn to like.”

Wednesday’s Work in Progress…

Okay…so I’ll take the blame for not having a new part for On Love’s Wings. I got caught up in working on something else and lost track of time. But there will be one on Thursday for you. 🙂

I thought I’d share a very small snippet from Without Fault, Book Nine of the International Men of Sports series I’m writing with the lovely Devon Rhodes. Remember I said very small…lol But I’m posting it to prove to you that it has been started. Can’t give you a time table on when it’ll be done. We’re going to try and get it finished as soon as possible though. Here you go.

Without Fault copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase & Devon Rhodes

“Percival Hamish Adcock, you get your bloody arse in this house right now.”

Percy winced as his mum screeched like a fishwife from the back verandah. What had he forgotten to do now?

“I bloody well meant it, young man,” she shouted again.

“Don’t you have phones in the stables?” Rebecca asked teasingly.

He turned to face his favorite cousin. Heck, she was pretty much his favorite human in the whole world. Her bright smile lit up her face and he couldn’t help but return the expression.

“I had intercoms installed for this very reason,” he informed her. “Yet she insists on standing out there screaming like a banshee every time she wants me for something.”

“Ah…Auntie Amelia loves you, Percy. She just likes to ruffle your feathers once in a while.”

“She likes to treat me as though I were still twelve years old,” he muttered.

Darn characters….

Sorry, but there won’t be a new part in On Love’s Wings today. For some reason, neither Miataga or Ari wanted to talk to me. I finally conceded and worked on A Coal Miner’s Son instead. lol. I’m hoping that they’ll feel like speaking on Tuesday, so I can get you a new excerpt on Wednesday.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone.

On Love’s Wings

Part Nine-

Ari took a deep breath then touched Vikex’s shoulder. “We should look for a place to rest for the night.”

The phoenix nodded then began to lose altitude. Ari knew his bond mate was searching for their usual overnight spot. They were going to have to find a new one soon. Establishing a routine could help enemies discover them. While Ari didn’t expect there to be any on their trip to his family, he couldn’t be too cautious. Vikex would be a huge prize for those looking to hurt Emmem.

“We’ll be stopping for the night soon,” he told Miataga.

Miataga nodded, but didn’t say anything. Ari was impressed by how calm the man had taken everything. He hadn’t complained once during the flight. Ari knew that for people who weren’t used to it, flying could be rough.

Vikex sounded a short cry and Ari tightened his hold on Miataga as the phoenix banked then dropped. Their landing was gentle and smooth. Once they were on the ground, he climbed down then helped Miataga off before leading him over to a nearby tree.

“Lean against this. You might want to be careful the first couple of minutes. You’ll have to get used to being on land again.” Ari grinned at Miataga’s grimace. “I was the same way when I first started training with Vikex, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.”

Leaving Miataga at the tree, he returned to Vikex and unharnessed him. He got his packs off, needing to get the tent set up and dinner started. Once Vikex was free, he ruffled his feathers before launching himself back into the air.

“Where’s he going?” Miataga asked as he approached Ari. “Can I help? Not that I know what I’m doing since I’ve never went camping before.”

Ari touched Miataga’s shoulder. “Tonight, you watch. If you still want to, you can help me in the morning. We have one more night before we reach my family in the mountains.”

He saw the brief wince Miataga gave and chose to ignore it. Miataga was a whore and a city person. He’d never been outside his little piece of the world before. It would take time for him to adapt to what Ari took for granted. He’d already earned points with Ari by not whining—or asking Ari to take him back.

Of course, wait until the morning and all the stiff muscles Miataga would be dealing with. Then he might see a glimpse of Miataga’s true personality. Being employed at a Loving House taught a person to hide their true souls, giving them the ability to become whatever their client wanted. He figured Miataga had been accommodating so far, but all that might change the further away from the city they got.

Ari made a small prayer that he picked the right one to take with him. If Miataga didn’t turn out to be the person Ari thought he was, then they would stop back in Sendler and he’d return Miataga to his Loving House.

Then he thought of something Miataga could do and stretch his tired muscles as well. “Why don’t you walk around the edge of the clearing? Gather sticks and twigs. Even small branches if you find any. I’ll need them to get the fire going for dinner.”

“Won’t we need it during the night? I’m sure it probably gets cold up here. Where are we by the way?”

Ari nodded. “We’re in the low foothills of the Easterly Mountains. You’re right. It will get chillier than you’re used to, but once he’s finished eating for the night, Vikex will come back. He’ll bed down next to our tent. Because phoenix are so closely tied to fire, their body temperature is much higher than other birds. We’ll be very comfortable with him near.”

Miataga tilted his head while he seemed to think about what Ari told him. “Sounds good then. All right, I’ll go looking then.”

He watched the slender man stroll away. The differences between them were obvious even with Miataga being covered from head to toe in leather and wool. Ari’s body was muscular from training and battle. He was heavily scarred from learning to control Vikex’ fire and continuing to dance among the flames. Those scars were the reason he hadn’t removed his helmet yet, and why he wore such light fabric. For even as soft as his uniform was, it still irritated the sensitive webbing of damaged flesh. He hoped Miataga wouldn’t freak out when he saw Ari.

“Isn’t wearing that making it hard to see?” Miataga said as he brought an armful of wood to where Ari crouched next to the fire pit. He set them down then reached out to lay his hand on the back of Ari’s helmet.

“It is, but I’m a little afraid of letting you see my face,” Ari admitted, dropping his chin to his chest.

“Why?” Miatage knelt at his side.

“I’m not beautiful like you.” Ari snorted. “I wasn’t beautiful before, but I didn’t scare people. Now it’s a toss up on how they’ll react when they see me. I rarely show my full face to anyone.” He didn’t resist when Miataga began to remove his helmet. It wasn’t like he could sleep in the thing, though he’d done it while in battle. Miataga set it aside then placed his knuckle under Ari’s chin, lifting it up so he had a clear look at Ari’s face.

Ari knew what his face looked like. From his nose down to his chin, there were no scars. Yet from just below his eyes and up, the left side of his face looked as though it had been made of wax and melted. The corner of his left eye drooped. He was lucky the flames hadn’t affected his eyesight—at least not yet anyway. His hair had been a rich dark brown once, but now it was streaked with white as signs of stress from the fire.

On Love’s Wings

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

Part Eight-

He’d seen some of the whores chose that instead of working at the Loving Houses. They seemed happy, but he wasn’t sure it made that big of difference. They were still selling their bodies and they were totally dependent on the good will of the men who supported them. If those men chose to throw them back out on the streets, the whores couldn’t do anything about it.

He thought there should be some kind of contract signed by both parties, so the whore knew he wouldn’t be used then tossed aside when he was no longer young and pretty. It made sense to him, yet what did he know? He was just a stupid bit of ass without any kind of education.

Miataga shook his head slightly. He couldn’t buy into the insults and common beliefs of the men who used him. He was more than what he did for a living. More than what society said he had to be. If he believed what they said, he would end up being no better than his mother, and that wasn’t what he wanted out of his life.

“Are you warm enough?” Ari asked, touching Miataga’s shoulder.

“Yes,” he replied.

Ari seemed different all ready and it intrigued Miataga. He seemed genuinely concerned for Miataga, and not as something to be used, but as a real person. A thought crossed his mind.

“How did you convince my master to let me go for so long?” Normally, the whores weren’t allowed to leave the Houses with their customers. Well, not unless the customer was wealthy—or powerful—enough to give the master some kind of incentive.

“I told him who I was and that I needed a companion on a trip. He named a price. I paid it.” Ari shrugged. “It’s not like I don’t have the money. I don’t spend any of my pay. It goes into an account every month.”

“You don’t send any home?”

Some of the whores sent their families what little extra money they make from tips, which wasn’t much, but still it helped when money was tight everywhere. Miataga saved his tips, hoping to have enough one day to buy his freedom. It was a silly dream since none of the whores had ever been able to buy off the debt the master said they had. Freedom was a carrot the masters dangled in front of them to keep them working while they made more money than they could ever spend.

“No.” Ari’s tone was clipped then he sighed. “They don’t want my money. It’s tainted because it comes from Emmem. In many ways, my people see you as the enemy still, even though the treaty was signed years ago.”

Miataga remembered hearing about the war with the countries to the west, which included the mountains where Ari was from. Being locked away, he didn’t know much about what happened and only got bits and pieces from the people who paid for his services.

“Did you fight in that war?”

Ari shook his head. “No, even though Vikex and I are a formidable weapon, I told my superiors I wouldn’t fight against my own people. They assigned us to patrol the northern borders. We had quite a few skirmishes, but no true battles.”

Curiosity played in Miataga’s brain, but he bit his tongue. Not prying into his clients’ lives was something Miataga had been taught. Unless the person was a high-ranking official and finding out secrets could get the master some leverage. He wasn’t interested in using anything Ari said against him.

“You actually paid my master the price he told you? You didn’t bargain or anything?”

“No. I didn’t have time. If we stayed in Sendler any longer, they would’ve found something that only Vikex and I could deal with. We haven’t had any time off for over a year now. If we don’t get a chance to rest and recharge, we might miss something and make mistakes. I don’t want my fellow soldiers dying because I wasn’t a hundred percent. I forced my supervisor to give me permission for this vacation.” Ari touched Vikex’ neck. “I don’t want anything to happen to Vikex. He didn’t ask to be used like this. While he is a war bird, he isn’t meant to fight continuously. He needs weeks to recover, which they haven’t given us.”

Miataga cautiously touched Vikex’ feathers right next to Ari’s hand. He didn’t want to presume he had permission from the phoenix. Vikex didn’t react to his touch, so he assumed the bird didn’t care. “It’s hard to see someone we love being taken advantage of. He’s lucky to have you to fight for him.”

Ari flashed him a smile. “It’s mutual. He’s saved my life so many times. I know he’d die for me and I would do the same for him. We are each other’s family, though Vikex does have the rest of his flock.”

“Does his flock like you?” Miataga edged his hand over to cover Ari’s. He smiled when Ari turned his over and entwined their fingers.

“They accept me. I’m not sure if that’s the same as humans’ liking each other. The birds aren’t human—or even human-like. Their emotions and how they react to things are different from us. It’s hard sometimes, but I try not to push into their world. There are times when I wish we could stay with them, because even though they are alien in many ways to me, they still seem to care for me more than my own human family does.”

The sadness in Ari’s voice caused Miataga to lift his hand to his mouth then brush a kiss over it. He understood the need to connect with someone, whether a person or a flock of phoenix. It was the same need that drove people to his bed. Most of the time he didn’t like being used, but there were a few times when he felt like he’d helped someone in some way. Maybe he’d do that for Ari.