Oh Sweet Biscuits! They’ve FINALLY left the crash site!
Wow! This was a record for me! One scene in one day! (And I totally fixed that whole carapace/plastron mix up.)
Kinixys grumbled unhappily as Rez led him through Briarwood. For hours, they had been trudging through the forest—her hand wrapped about his wrist as the afterimage of her being deceptively curled up and sleeping continued to harass his vision.
“Are you certain that you haven’t any rope?” he asked.
He’d sounded rather hopeful, even to his own ears, but truly, who knew? She might’ve picked some up as they’d been walking—for so many damned hours—with her tiny hand grasped around his wrist.
“Kin,” she drew his name out in that sweet, growly way of hers.
Ah, yes. She was reminding him of their agreement without actually mentioning it. He’d promised to stop asking for rope, if she would stop asking ‘Are we there yet?’
Looking back on it, he’d made a poor bargain in a sticky moment. Sooner or later, he’d have to tell her that they were moving in the wrong direction. Her inevitable tirade—harsh words that would perhaps carry hints of hurt and disappointment—filled him with unease. Knowing that he’d lied to her would surely change the way that she felt about him.
That notion burned like a hot, spiky burr in his gut, so he ‘oh-so-slyly’ meandered northwest with his next dozen or so steps.
She determinedly tugged him back on course, and he docilely followed her like a pack animal on a lead. It was fucking embarrassing. Her tiny hand, which she couldn’t close entirely about his wrist, controlled him completely.
Plus, that patch of untouched skin on his wrist prickled nonstop with jealousy, which his aching cock seconded, validating his wrist’s bitter feelings with staunch solidarity. Because, of course, his fucking cock also wanted her hands wrapped around it for hours and hours—for fairness’s sake.
Dammit. His entire being was forming a united front against him. If Emys had her way, both his and Rez’s lives would be permanently intertwined. For his own convenience, he wanted a simple rapport with her; for her to like him.
Well, at least, to not hate him because then gatherings at the Bale would become a tad awkward for them. Just as things were uncomfortably strained right now. They’d been ambling along, side-by-side, shrouded in a precarious silence. Although the sun had shone brightly without oppressive heat, Briarwood’s air had become thick and heavy, like a volatile gas just awaiting a spark.
Perhaps that was why he’d asked about the rope again. He would rather endure the disrespectful shortening of his name to ease the tension between them.
Between them? No. The tension was all his as he waged an internal debate. His impulses continued to urge him to fill the silence, while his instincts were encouraging him to ask her questions about herself. Well, one of those two voices was compromised—pending further investigation—and the other was a fucking idiot.
He’d have to decide his own course of action.
“I am fertile.” His announcement sliced through the tense mood that had condensed around them.
Her reply was a vowel sound punctuated with a softer consonant. She’d used that dismissive ‘uh-huh’ many times already today.
In fact, her response came so quickly and sounded so disinterested, that he doubted whether he had her attention at all.
He tried again. “Our scientists verified my fertility many years ago. I share this information to ease any fears. The testing is painless.”
“Yep.” She huffed a dry laugh. “I’ll just rub one out and squirt some eggs into cup. No worries.”
She stopped walking. Based on the blurry shadow that he knew to be her, she had turned to look up at him. He had no idea why she’d stopped, and her facial features remained frustratingly indiscernible.
As seconds passed by, they stood there and stared at one another.
On some level, he heard the buzzing and creaking soundtrack of Briarwood—birds, insects, and smaller animals scurrying about—but it all melded into white noise as he gazed down at her.
She appeared like a blurry, condensed shadow with smudged features, but he clearly remembered how she’d stumbled upon him at the crash site yesterday morning. Her hair had tumbled over her shoulders as she’d tilted her face up to gape at him. Hell, if he’d touched her then, his hand would’ve slid in and perfectly cupped her cheek and jaw. His fingers would’ve dove into the hair at her nape. The pad of his thumb would’ve been free to stroke her lips…
Hot arousal rushed through him as his cock stirred.
“That means even less discomfort for you,” his voice rasped against his throat.
He could gladly guarantee her zero discomfort if she would let him assist her in ‘rubbing one out.’
“You don’t have a fucking clue, do you?” She’d spoken a question, but delivered it like an announcement that informed him of his ignorance. “Have you ever had sex?”
This whole mission confused the fuck out of him, but he wasn’t ignorant or innocent. “Yes.”
“With a woman?”
“Who’d squirt her eggs at you when she came?”
“I don’t squirt eggs, Kin!” She slapped him on his plastron—the scutes that covered his chest. “Fucking ow!”
She spun away and stomped a few paces off. As she nursed her hand against her chest and swore under her breath, his cock—which had been very interested in assisting her with ‘squirting her eggs’—fully swelled and kicked against his loin cop.
She’d hit him.
Not across the face, but he could hardly fault her for her limited reach. Though, his generous understanding stopped short of excusing the act itself.
He rubbed his plastron, longing to feel the smack of her hand again. “You struck me.”
She laughed, but it lacked amusement. “I know.”
He subtly adjusted his stance to ease his hard cock. “You meant to do that?”
She shook her head. “Because I’m a fucking idiot.”
The head gesture meant no or negative, but her words spoke of confirmation. So, she was a fucking idiot because she’d declared her interest in having sex with him? Had she meant to keep that a secret?
“This is not the best time.” And by Aku, did it kill him to admit that now was not the absolutely best time to have sex together.
“It’s never a good time to be an idiot, Kin.” She exhaled, her tone shifting to sheepishness. “Sorry I hit you.”
Any follow up response died his throat.
She’d meant to declare her interest, but within seconds she’d regretted it. That…hurt. Yet, her impetuousness simply reminded him that she was indeed completely and utterly human.
“Listen, Kin. I’m not worried about the testing.”
He ran his eyes over her, wishing he could truly see her and not this fantasy image of her curled and sleeping peacefully. “You’re worried.”
“You weren’t talking.”
“What would we talk about?” She sounded perplexed. “You already told me that any tech in your armor is fried as well as the shuttle’s location beacon. So we can’t call for help.”
She continued, “And that your sister wants to graft my DNA onto her eggs.”
Not quite true. “Emys would graft her DNA onto your eggs for—”
“For some dude to squirt sperm all over.” She huffed. “Yeah, I got it.”
That was not how he described the insemination process at all.
And would she never tire of that word? Squirt.
He eyed her critically. “Yes, but I told you all of this information.”
“Yeah. So?” Her blurry shadowed shifted. A shrug, perhaps?
“You’ve no questions of your own? Perhaps about testing or egg extraction?”
Or what would become of her afterward?
“Fine,” she sighed. “I’m worried about time.” She took cautious steps toward him. “It’s taking a long time to reach your Bale. The longer we’re in Briarwood, the more bad things that can happen at Two-Four-Kay.”
He could give a fuck about Two-Four-Kay now that Emys would have what she sought. Negotiating the safety of the human settlers was between his mother and Emys, who would speak on Rez’s behalf…
Who in turn would speak on behalf of the settlers…
Two-Four-Kay was already fucked.
Truly, by the time those three uniquely-minded females came to any agreement, the settlement would be ashes, having fallen to whomever or whatever plagued it.
Two-Four-Kay was not his problem.
His problem was a surprisingly astute human who proved to be an experienced and tenacious forest guide. He’d spent hours, trying to slowly steer them toward the true direction of the Bale. In this regard, Rez proved to be a worthy opponent. If using his wits failed to turn her about, then eventually he would be forced to toss her over his shoulder and march off. Her tirade and his bruised feelings be damned.
Though, his shoulders and arms fully endorsed that idea.
“Listen.” Her voice sounded odd, almost apologetic. “I’m gonna leave—”
“No.” His fast, firm response ricocheted around them.
“Kin.” He heard the misplaced tenderness in her tone.
Rather, he heard her fumbling attempt to soften the blow of the truth. This female—Rez—was not a soft creature. Very tiny and highly tackle-able, but not soft in heart or mind.
“I can go faster,” he blurted out.
“I’m sure you could, if your eyesight wasn’t—”
“My sight is already improving. You’re less blobby.”
“Yes.” He nodded once, a firm dip of his chin. “Less blobby. Decidedly blurry. Soon you’ll be stunningly clear.”
Stunningly? Now the control over his speech was slipping. He was losing more and more of himself.
“Okay, then.” She turned her head, looking off into the forest. “That should be stunning to see.”
“I can and will go faster.”
By Aku, what had he just promised her?
He was as assuredly fucked as Two-Four-Kay.
Rez gazed at Kin in the dark.
Well, she gazed where she knew him to last be when they’d laid down for the night.
His matte armor reflected no light from the moon. Once her eyes had adjusted to the dark, she’d strained to make out the silhouette of his bulky body.
God, did Kin have a body.
Apparently, she’d been completely wrong about his overly muscular legs. They weren’t like the massive trees that held Briarwood’s uppercanopy aloft. His legs really could propel his body at a non-turtle speed.
After the disastrous ‘egg squirting’ debacle, they’d resumed walking. Kin, true to his word, had increased his stride. For the remainder of the day, she’d given him wary glances, not quite believing what she was seeing. For once in her life, someone earnestly tried to accommodate her by moving not so mind-numbingly slow.
She didn’t know how she felt about that.
On one hand, their pace had improved. They wouldn’t reach the edge of Briarwood and Chaparral for another three days, but that estimate was much better than walking for over a week.
On the other hand, guilt had twisted her stomach as she’d watched Kin labor. He’d doubled his pace from his typical, slow and steady amble. Hell, he’d kept up swift(er), purposeful strides for several hours, all while masking his exertion—no mumbled complaints or gasping breaths had echoed from within his helmet.
Kin had stunned her.
Yeah. There was no way she’d ever admit he’d ‘clearly stunned her’ aloud—dammit! Out loud.
She huffed in defiance, and immediately felt like a petulant ass. Kin would never know that she made a rebellious stand in her stupid head about ‘aloud’ versus ‘out loud’ unless she admitted it out loud.
Ha! Twice now. Look at her go.
But there were no cheers, even in her mind. Why? Because she was being a damn idiot. Instead of sleeping, she was continuing to argue with someone who wasn’t awake.
Yep. She was a total idiot.
On the bright side, though, she was pretty certain that she finally nailed down Kin’s personal strengths. He possessed tenacity and confidence mixed with an oddly fluid mindset. Yes, the guy was stubborn, but he wasn’t unreasonably so. He teetered more toward persistence rather than obstinacy. Getting him moving was like rolling a boulder. Doable, but a huge time and energy suck.
God, did she so need an energy suck right about now. She had a day’s worth of unspent endurance zinging inside of her. With Kin by her side from sun up to sun down, she’d been unable to run. Now her restlessness crackled under her skin like arcs of energy zapping between transformers.
She rolled onto her back. Overhead, moonlight pierced the uppercanopy, sending pinpricks of illumination into the forest.
Running. Labor. Fucking. Fighting. That was her preferred order for draining herself. All four were not options at the moment. Unless…
The awful image of Kin humping away over her while she counted the leaves overhead caused her to cringe. Although, maybe she could count the tiny scales in his armor to pass the time.
Which struck her as weird. In her nightmarish imagination of having sex with Kin, the guy wore his armor. How would that work, exactly? Like, did that ridiculous metal cup-minus-jockstrap of his pop off or—
Kin rolled on top of her.
His huge hand covered her mouth as the rest of him blanketed her completely. Her back pressed into the leafy pallet she’d created. As she gasped—a rather incomprehensibly delayed reaction—Kin whispered a soothing shush into her ear.
Her heart pounded as her chest billowed in panic.
Wha—? What the fuck was going on?
Why the hell wasn’t she throat punching him and bucking him off of her?
Why weren’t her hairs flashing in alarm?
Kin rumbled something into her ear. Not a shush.
She shook her head—tiny jerks as she gazed, wide-eyed, up at him.
His voice rumbled again. “Stalkers.”
At this time of night, it would probably be a War-gator or two. You know, like a regular alligator, only with powerful long legs like tiger. They stalked through the undergrowth like a tiger, too. Prowling at night, they hunted anything that scurried about.
Immediately she exhaled and sagged beneath Kin.
Shit. He really had her worried there for a second. War-gators were lackadaisical sprinters. Seriously, she’d danced with the beasts before, leading them on chases through the forest. The poor things always thought they were hunting her, while she was just glad to be engaged in doing something. A few times she had plopped down and taken a nap, letting them recover before resuming the hunt again.
Really, all that she and Kin had to do was…
She tensed up as she looked at Kin again. Like, really looked at him.
He was resting on his elbows and knees as he arched over her. Not a bit of her was exposed. Her hands were pressed against his armored chest and his thighs were pressed along her legs. He’d managed to tuck her beneath him and formed a protective shield using his body.
She blinked in astonishment. He would only do such a thing because he didn’t know about her. That while War-gators raced full-tilt after her, she could skip along while singing a raunchy bar song and easily sidestepping each swipe of their claws—all for the fucking fun of it.
The fact that Kin would shelter her like this because he assumed she needed to be protected…
Her heart kicked in her chest in an unfamiliar way as her ‘Kin Cocoon’ grew steamy, prickling her skin with heat.
Oh hell, she’d rather deal with the War-gator than this.
This was lust. Nothing but ill-timed ‘who-knew-pseudo-danger-turned-her-on’ lust. It was giving her lusty urges, like rubbing her cheek lustily against his faceplate in gratitude—er, gratuitous lust.
This needed to stop. Now.
The leaves and branches of the uppercanopy rustled, and Kin shifted, lifting his head and breaking his own self-created barrier.
Oh thank god.
The rustling in the trees increased. A branch snapped.
She glanced up. The pinpricks of moonlight blacked out as large shapes crept overhead.
Wait a second…
“Kin,” she whispered. “Not War-gators.”
He grunted softly. “I know.”
Right. She heard it in his tone. Stupid question. The uppercanopy could support her weight, but nothing as large as a War-gator. If Kin was typical of his people, any Akupara would drop through the canopy like mason stones.
All right. They needed a plan, and Kin covering her wasn’t gonna cut it.
She tapped his armored chest with her finger, noting how she felt his pecs harden. “Listen, Kin—”
“No. You will listen.”
Okay, then. “All ears.”
He grumbled in frustration, then snapped, “Here.”
“No.” He rolled again—being rather smooth and limber despite his size—and rolled her with him.
She grasped his biceps, trying to remain oriented, and felt the steely flex of his muscles beneath his flexible armor. Wow. Just—
He pressed her back against a rough surface.
“Here,” he said firmly.
She gaped up at him, still unable to get a good look at him in the dark. But, she knew that they both were standing, and that she’d become sandwiched between one of Briarwood’s massive trees and Kin.
Kin, who loomed before her, sheltering her once again.
Her hands, all on their own, tightened their grasp on his biceps.
“You’ll remain here.” As if he caught himself speaking with un-Kin-like haste, his next volley of words came slower. “Perhaps toss a grenade or two.”
“Huh?” Toss grenades?
“As you did at the crash site.”
Oh. Grenades. Got it.
But she must have hesitated too long—again, so very unlike her—because he asked, “Is your supply depleted?”
“Nope. Fully loaded.”
He replied with a rumbly ‘hmm.’
“Seriously, I’m good to go.”
She was, too. She would zip around their ‘stalkers’ and let her flash hairs light them up. She would sorta make it look like she was lobbing flash grenades.
No. She would make it look exactly like she was lobbing flash grenades.
Kin’s hands, from out of nowhere, settled just under the swell of her breasts.
“You must show me where you carry them,” he whispered as her nipples peaked. Then he skimmed his hands down her sides. “When my sight returns.”
“For the second time.” He squeezed her hips with hands that practically spanned her entire waist.
A second time? Why couldn’t she wrap her head around anything that he was saying.
“Yes. A second time. Again, you spoke aloud.” Then Kin and his stupid sexy voice, along with his stupid sexy hands, were gone.
Yet her body continued to tingle, feeling the phantom press of his touch everywhere.
She allowed herself one self-chiding huff, along with a single knock of the back of her head against the tree. Then she focused and counted.
The rustling overhead resolved into five, maybe six distinct ‘stalkers’ closing in on their position. Kin was a tank, but she didn’t like the odds. Darkness. Unfamiliar terrain (for Kin). Unknown assailants.
Yeah. Fuck staying behind the tree.
As her flash hairs rose along her flanks, she slipped her re-enforced mitts out of her pockets and onto her hands. Whoever these stalking assholes were, they weren’t from Two-Four-Kay and they weren’t Akupara.
What they were was a much needed expenditure of her restless energy.
She couldn’t run or do exhaustive labor. She had been one catastrophic impulse away from stripping herself naked and climbing Kin like a Briarwood tree. Fighting was all she had left.
Fine. Absolutely fine.
Time to ‘make like a flash grenade’ then punch some assholes in their goddamn throats.
This chapter is complete! I’ve enabled commenting and have added my own thoughts as well.
As always, thank you so much for reading!