On Love’s Wings
copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase
Rockis nodded. “A few of us have been vocal about our discontentment with the Supreme Commander and his orders. Unfortunately, Ariste might not be the loudest of us, but he’s the most important. We think the commander is looking to blame you.”
“He wants to make an example of me. Probably assumes that if I’m gone, the rest of you will be too scared to do anything,” Ari commented as he shifted then ran his hand over Miataga’s hair.
“Little does he realize you aren’t the leader of our little rebellious group.” Rockis chuckled.
Miataga drew in a breath and Ari wasn’t sure he wanted Miataga to know anything more. The information he knew now could be dangerous enough. Knowing who else was involved would make Miataga a target and Ari didn’t want him hurt in any way.
He tapped Miataga on the cheek then shook his head. “It’s better if you don’t know anything else. I won’t risk your safety. If you are brought in and questioned, you can tell them the little you know and they’ll let you go.”
Miataga exhaled loudly, but didn’t say a word. Ari smiled before looking back at Rockis.
“If no one knows you came out here, you can help us.”
“How?” Rockis leaned forward. “You know I’ll do whatever I can.”
Ari nodded. “I know. Just ensure you and Quila stay safe. I need you to take Barke to the capitol. You can say you ran into me somewhere and I asked you to do this for me. That will give us time to get around the soldiers. We’re still going to head to the Westerly Mountains. Vikex’ flock will protect us. Then I’ll have to think about our future.”
He let his gaze drop to Miataga’s again. He didn’t want to say good-bye to his lover. He’d hoped they would have far more time to get to know each other before he had to take him back to the Loving House. He should’ve known it wasn’t going to work out for him.
“Rockis can take you back to Sendler as well, Miataga.” He held up his hand to keep Miataga from speaking. “I know you want to come with me, but I’m concerned you could get in trouble. I never meant for you to be in danger when I asked you to come with me.”
Miataga pushed up on his knees, taking Ari’ hands in his. “We might not have known each other for long, but I hope we have become more than just client and whore. There’s nothing for me back in Sendler. I’d rather take my chances with you then return to my old life.”
Rockis stood. “I know where your nephew lives. I’ll go inform him he’ll be traveling with me. You shouldn’t spend too much longer here. The soldiers might get impatient and come for you.”
Ari stood as well and offered Rockis his hand. “Thank you for the warning. I appreciate it. When I get to Vikex’ flock, I’ll find a way to get a message to you.”
He waited until his friend shut the door behind him before he turned to look at Miataga. “Why would you be willing to risk your life for someone who bought you? How can you feel any loyalty to me?”
“Because you never treated me like I was a whore. You gave me respect, friendship and caring. Something I’ve never gotten from anyone else, not even those men who work at the House with me. If I never go back there, it won’t hurt my feelings.” Miataga wrapped his arms around Ari’s waist and laid his head on Ari’s chest.
Taking a deep breath, Ari rested his cheek on Miataga’s curls. He ran his hands up and down Miataga’s back. “I don’t want you hurt. It would break my heart if I caused harm to you. To be honest, I never thought the commander would do anything about our discontentment. I figured we were too low on the power list to pay any attention to us.”
Miataga tightened his hold. “I don’t care about any of that, Ari. I want to stay with you. If I can help in some way, I will.” He chuckled. “Though I’m not sure what a whore can do to help with a rebellion.”
“We aren’t rebelling,” Ari said. “I don’t want to overthrow the government. I simply want the Governor to fire the Supreme Commander and put someone not crazy in his place. If he isn’t careful, he’s going to get us involved in a war we can’t win. There are countries more powerful than Eminen, who have paid us no mind because mountains surround us. But if we anger them, they will come over those barriers to destroy our nation. The commander doesn’t seem to understand that, or he simply doesn’t care.”
“I would put money on the fact that he doesn’t care. He’s only interested in power and money.” Miataga eased a few inches away to meet his gaze. “Have you tried talking to the governor? Maybe he doesn’t know what’s happening and he’d do something if he understood the dangers.”
Ari shrugged. “I think the governor is having his own troubles with the senators. There seems to be as much rumbling among them as there is among the army. No one appears to be happy about how Eminen is being run, not even the richest people in Sendler.”
“I hear things from clients, but none of it really makes sense. Being cut off from the rest of the world like we are, we have no way of putting pieces together to understand what’s going on outside the walls.” Miataga hummed under his breath for a moment. “I know the merchants aren’t happy about the taxes being levied against them and their businesses. Apparently, it’s quite expensive to import anything from outside the borders.”
“Most of those tax hikes are to help pay for the army because of the commander’s silly little skirmishes.” Ari brushed a kiss over Miataga’s lips. “If you’re sure about coming with me, then we need to get packed and leave. I don’t want to risk being in the village if the soldiers decide to come after me.”
“All right.” Miataga kissed him back before stepping away. “I’ll gather the food. You pack our clothes.”