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Dius slapped the back of Rannik’s head.
“Gods, Di!” Ran flinched and shot him a wounded look. “What was that for?”
While Dius had been stomping through congealed blood and mushy innards, he’d been watching Ran as Ran had been watching the damn deck. The precious idiot had no idea that Dius had come up behind him. And that’s why Ran had gotten his noggin knocked.
It was so godsdamn obvious.
But Ran still gave him a wide-eyed gaze paired with a half-assed shrug. “What?”
Fucking ‘what.’ “Stop staring at your feet.”
“I’m not staring at my feet. I’m watching the deck.”
The kid was killing him.
“I’m trying to avoid all of that.” Ran jutted his chin down toward a lumpy mass on the deck. “What is that?”
No sense in lying to him. “Brains.”
“Oh.” Ran blinked, swallowed thickly, then shuffled around the dead marauder. “Well, I’m not gonna step in it.”
Gods, Ran was being too Ran right now. He was literally tip-toeing his way through the aftermath of the riot, forcing Dius to hover like some puffed up personal guard. Unless the kid wanted to join that brainless marauder at Unholde’s Gate, then he needed to scope out the bastards who’d kept enough body parts to remain lethal. Four marauders had been trying to flank them since the riot had died down.
Rannik glanced at Dius. “When we find the Human, do you really wanna be covered in gross bits that stink?”
No. Dius planned to be alive when he found the Human; not winning a medal for being the best smelling corpse in the pile.
“Besides,” Ran tossed over his shoulder, “it’s bad enough that I’m not in uniform.”
Dius bit back a disgusted grumble. He should take it easy on the kid. Zver’s pretentious stance on honor and duty had burdened Ran with the fucked-up combo of courteousness and courageousness. Back in the Dominion, those stalwart characteristics would have made Ran an admirable man.
Out in the Tendex, though?
Displaying the House Borac crest—which should have declared Ran as un-fucking-touchable because he was protected, valued, and loved—would flag him as a target. The kid was weaker than a ship with a glass-paned hull.
Which might explain the spiky burr that rattled in Dius’s gut. He wasn’t a guardian, but a reaper. He excelled at wiping shitstains outta existence. Keeping a kid safe or rescuing an alien woman fell leagues outside of his skillset.
He flicked his gaze to Ran as the kid, yet again, sidestepped someone’s innards.
Ran’s boots weren’t spotless, but they also weren’t tangled up in shit-dripping intestines that dragged along behind him like an untied shoelace.
Kinda like Dius’s.
With his next step, he lifted his foot higher and shook it. The brown spray from his boot splattered against the corridor wall, narrowly missing Ran’s shoulders.
Well, shit. Literally.
Ran turned, putting his back to the shit-speckled bulkhead. “Did you hear something?”
“Did you step in something again?”
Technically, by getting rid of the straggler from his boot, he’d ‘unstepped’ in something.
“Nothing squishy?” Ran narrowed his eyes. “Cuz I heard a squish.”
No doubt Ran ‘heard a squish.’ The Teras had phenomenal hearing, but the kid would have to figure it out on his own. Dius had no more damn words. He’d exhausted his daily cache with all of Ran’s questions. Hell, he bet that he’d been drained for the next dozen days.
Dius, being wordless and pissed, loomed over Ran and gave him a dead-eyed stare down. Men would cower and crap themselves under his murderous gaze. Right now, the kid’s sense of self-preservation really needed to get its ass into gear. They had somewhere they needed to be.
Instead of hurrying on, Rannik wasted time by giving Dius a once-over before scanning the corridor behind them.
For all the fucks. Forget the marauders tailing them. The kid still missed the shit sliding down the wall.
Ran gave him a ridiculous side-eye—a new development since Seph had entered the scene—then continued walking. “Well, watch your step. Aye?”
Fucking watch his step? Ran snipped this shitty advice, rather than give him a warning about the Teras men following them?
Gods. His head throbbed…
From Culler: The Ladyships Book Three
Copyright © 2020 by Bex McLynn
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