Bathed in Blood—Chapter 4

Chapter 4

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Reign Czekalski raised the field glasses to his eyes and focused on the dust plume in the valley below. Here and there, gray-green bushes dotted the carpet of brown. A hairless javelina collapsed by a ribbon of water in a muddy wash. Rocks and pebbles dug into his chest through his shirt. Holes appeared in the fabric woven from human hair.

Woven by his wife before she’d left him.

For a moment, Reign struggled to breathe. Her loss crept upon him like the cunningest of ‘Viders, even after all these years. Blinking the sting from his eyes, he focused on the newcomers.

Four men on black horses galloped toward the low hill where Reign kept watch. The Dark Hope Security emblem glowed like bleached bones on their right breast pocket. Dust clung to their blue uniforms. Behind the four riders, two pale horses pulled a wagon loaded with a dozen men and women. Two more security men guarded the rear.

Reign checked the hazy dust trail.

No one followed the party.

Good. He lowered the field glasses, carefully stowing them in the leather case. “Looks like they got everyone.”

Pat O’Brien, Reign’s second-in-command, shifted into the net of shadows created by the dead bush on his right. Brittle twigs snapped off in the warm breeze and stuck in his brown hair. “You know, our scouts report that Dark Hope is changing their security uniforms to black to match the Tricity ones.”

“You don’t say?” Reaching into the human skin pouch at his waist, Reign tugged out a strip of goat jerky. Clamping his teeth on the piece, he tore off a chunk. Strings of dried meat fluttered from the jagged edge. His stomach bucked at the foul taste. The Head Provider wasn’t meant to eat unclean animals, not when such sweet morsels abounded. He spat it out and chucked the rest under a bush,

O’Brien flushed until his sunburned nose blended with the rest of his red face. Black tattoos flared along his soft jaw line like permanent stubble. “Those uniforms won’t be worth anything in a couple of weeks.”

“They’re not worth much now.” Reign tugged a mirror out of the pouch containing his jerky and held it toward the hill on his right. Sunlight caught the surface and sent three bursts of light toward his men concealed in the bushes. He repeated the signal for his men on the left. “Except as an appetizer.”

“Fresh meat tonight.” Licking his cracked lips, O’Brien notched an arrow and aimed it toward the crowd. “It’s a shame we can’t pen the rest. Make the celebration last for a few more days.”

“You know the rules.” Reign swept his finger over the chipped enameled backing of the mirror. The jagged hinge cut a red line onto his pad. Tossing aside the jerky, he licked off the blood. His mouth watered at the thought of more to come. Lots more.

O’Brien shrugged. “Doesn’t seem sporting this way. Most will die before they even know what hit them.”

Reign set his hand on his second-in-command’s notched arrow. “Then use the axe, and we’ll finish them off the old-fashioned way.”

The way they’d hunted before prey stopped wandering into the village, before they’d been forced on a death march northward, before word of a Raider who hunted ‘Viders reached them. Reign’s father had nearly consigned the Great Spanner’s Chosen ones to extinction.

Fortunately, Reign had surfaced above the morass of his grief in time to save the ‘Viders. He pulled out his axe, tested the sharpness of his blade on his thumb.

“Now you’re talkin’.” O’Brien quickly secured his bow and arrow, then pulled his machete.

In the valley, the horsemen trotted closer. A hundred yards ahead, closely packed large boulders would prevent the prey from escaping the ambush.

Reign rolled his shoulders and waited. Five minutes, maybe six, then they would attack.

“Aren’t you afraid some of them will escape?”

“Our kin will pick off any that try to run.” Reign hoped his men shot out a leg. His blood hummed with the promise of a least a semblance of a hunt. “The missing won’t be traced to us. I’m certain there are plenty of villagers who will swear that Dark Hope carried them away.”

O’Brien nodded. “Isn’t your Tribute’s brother among the security team?”


Disapproval weighted the corners of O’Brien’s mouth. “Won’t she wonder when he doesn’t return?”

“She’ll probably go looking for him.” At least, Reign hoped she would. Three months with that harpy in his bed was three months too long.

O’Brien cocked an eyebrow. “We hunt those who try to leave, say they went to Dark Hope, and never returned.”

“I know.” The plan placed his men on the winning side. Dark Hope was blamed, and his men ate a ration of fresh meat.

“Do you plan to rescind those orders?”

“Nope.” Reign smiled. He might have a meal without indigestion for the first time in three months. “She’s served her purpose. She convinced her people to let us in. She’s been invaluable at insisting Dark Hope is the source of all their woes. Now she must go. We have one more village to conquer before reaching the train station. One more group to win over. I’ll need to be single for that.”

“We also have disposable fighters to recruit.” O’Brien grunted. “You should pick a mate in the next village, have children. You are the last of your bloodline.”

“I had a mate. I had children.” Reign rolled his shoulders. They always tightened at the thought of the past. “Losing them made me crazy. I can’t afford to be crazy. Not when we are so close to reaping the harvest of our restraint.”

And he would never risk so much again. He’d promised his father, the former Head Provider, that Reign would bring the Chosen back from the brink of extinction. He would keep that promise.

He owed his people. They had supported him when he had lost everything.

In the valley below, the wagon reached the boulder-lined area. A volley of arrows arched through the air. Red fletching winked in the bright sunshine. A second salvo answered from the hill across the canyon. Men shouted from the backs of horses. Two were cut short as arrows sank into their chests.

One man dug his heels into his horse’s flanks. Two arrows chased him before burying deep in his back. The men and women in the wagon bailed over the side. They scattered in all directions. The fools thought they could flee the kill zone.

Reign rose to his feet.

O’Brien stood up next to him. “Perhaps, you’ll change your mind once we reach Dark Hope and have access to all that clean meat.”

He would never change his mind. He’d vowed to his wife, he’d only have one. He kept his word as a ‘Vider; he could do no less as the Head Provider. But his people didn’t need to know that. Not now.

Another barrage of arrows rained into the canyon. This time the hits lamed the victims but didn’t kill them.

Raising his axe, Reign charged down the hill. Soon, he would take out the Raider, then all would bow to him. But today, he needed scalps to patch his shirt.

Today was a good day to hunt.


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Fall Into Romance Blog Hop

Blog Hop Button.3Happy Friday everyone and welcome to the Fall into Romance Blog Hop. I’m giving away a free copy of either Hearts in Barbed Wire or  Entanglements to two folks who leave a comment,  so be sure to enter.

A hundred years ago, The Great War, or World War 1 started. Since I am a history buff, I wanted to know more about the time period. Since I’m an author, learning more about the time period gave me story ideas;-)

I’m currently working on a novella in the series set during Halloween. Perfect for a Fall into Romance Blog Hop, don’t you think? While the first two books in the series take place not long after the Central Powers (Germany and her allies) invade Belgium, this story takes place on the fictional island of Hope’s Pointe, Michigan, USA.

Why Michigan when the US didn’t enter the war on the side of the allies until 1917? You see my grandmother and great-grandmother are of German stock and I wanted to tell something of their experiences during this time as well as learn why both rarely mentioned their German heritage.

As fate, God, and the story-fairy would have it, my aunt came to visit and told an interesting story about my grandparents. It seems they had broken up because of family plans for my grandfather but had met again at a dance and decided to marry despite objections. They were married over sixty years before my grandfather died.

Now that’s an inspiration for romance.

Click here for the Rafflecopter giveaway of an amazon gift card

To enter into the drawing for a free copy of either book below, answer this question: Do you know of a real life story that is romantic, and would you share it?

That’s it.  You can return to the blog hop: or you can read about the stories up for grabs.

Hearts in Barbed Wire:
20140311-091422.jpgA solder trapped behind enemy lines

A nurse risks everything to save him

As the Kaiser’s Army steamrolls across their country, they’ll make a desperate bid for freedom. War will bring them together; duty will drive them apart. Can they escape the promises binding them to their past or will they leave their hearts tangled in barbed wire?




book2 -draftl copy-1Captain Rune Lambert knows better than to trust a woman. He spends his days making the right connections to further his military career until he meets one woman who will tempt him like no other.

Laila Vigdis finds the perfect man in Captain Lambert only to watch her beautiful sister steal him away. And Rune doesn’t object.

When war erupts, Laila’s family side with the enemy. Caught in a tangle of treason and intrigue, she’s fighting for her life. Will Rune be her savior or executioner?



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Wiped Out

I don’t know about where you live, but where I live we get a nice rain during the winter and summer. Because I live in the desert, it’s hot and dry most of the year and so a funny thing happens. By the time the stores have the size wiper I need the rainy season ends. Then when the rain starts up again, I get the zebra striped windshield.

You know, where the wiper works here but not two inches down. So you kinda hunch over the steering wheel to get that 1-2 inches of clear glass upon which to gaze out at the world.

My husband thinks massaging the wiper blade with petroleum jelly helps them to last longer.

I think it goos up the windshield.

And I seem to be vindicated. I took his car into work, in preparation of the coming tropical storm, I bestowed upon him my truck so he could escape his work parking lot that has no drainage and becomes a pond. It sprinkled enough for me to turn on the wipers.

Sure enough zebra stripes.

The back one flails around like black licorice. Fun times.

Now, we’re looking forward to 3 days of rain, with Friday being the heaviest—i.e., half our annual rainfall is expected. Thank God, I’m off Friday.

During the lighter spots, I think I visit all the stores in a 10 mile radius to see if I can find wiper blades. This should be the last storm of the season and i want to be prepared:D

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Bathed in Blood—Chapter 3

Last few days to purchase the book for 99cents so get your copy soon.

Chapter 3

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Natasha Wilson hitched her backpack on her shoulder and shuffled in line with the rest of the crowd.

The sun shone brightly on the train depot. No trash gathered along the bases of the four-story buildings. No graffiti marred the white paint coating the cement walls. Shrubs flourished in manicured shapes. Grass grew to a regimental height.  Even the towering pines seemed to shed their needles into trash receptacles.

Dark Hope was as perfect as Nattie remembered.

Only, she no longer fit.

Sure, the doctors had lasered her scars, and the dentists had replaced her rotten teeth with shiny white implants, but nothing could fix the rot deep inside her.

Rot she had nurtured.

The line slowed to a stop and the Mag-Lev doors eased silently open. Medical personnel rushed out, accompanied by the thump of wheels. Small bundles shook and moaned atop the gurneys. Pinch-faced parents chased after the nurses, orderlies, and patients. Words of encouragement and hope came from the folks in homespun clothing waiting in line.

Nattie alone remained silent. Cheeks burning, she stared at the flagstone under her feet. A crack ran along the reddish stone, heading toward the train. It was best that she leave. She should never have come home again.

She no longer belonged.

Maybe she never had.

Outbound doctors, nurses, and orderlies waved to the line as they rushed on board. The Outlanders applauded some and gave a shout-out to others. Former patients with bands on their wrists tossed flowers. The medical personnel stooped to collect them. Orderlies bent and gathered stray leaves, tossing them in the compost collectors before boarding the train.

The line surged forward.

Cool air wafted from the cars, teasing her exposed ankles. Yellow cranes hummed as they lifted food rations, extra clothing, and medical supplies from the warehouses and loaded them on the West-bound train. Just a little farther… Ten meters then she would leave this world behind.

Forever this time.

She pinched cold plastic between her thumb and index finger. The clip of her ID badge held firm for a moment then gave under the pressure.  Her photograph stared back at her. Short, white hair, wrinkles pleating her tanned skin, over-bright false teeth. So different from her last ID. She stuffed it into her pack.

The lights inside the train car blinked as she stepped on board. No Outlanders paid any attention, but Dark Hope citizens did. They pressed against the windows to watch the solar radiation dance in sickly green waves across the magnetic bubble around the city. Through the tinted glass, she noted the line of dying vegetation where the protection ended.

Not even Dark Hope, with its great technological advances, could save everything.

But folks like Nattie could save the city of her birth.

Her nose pricked with unshed tears. She scrubbed her hand down her face. It wasn’t like her to be maudlin. Alone, she walked down the aisle, heading for the private compartments.

People quickly filled the plush, high-backed chairs on both sides. Children gripped stuffed animals, gifts from Dark Hope citizens. The toys’ brown eyes shone brightly, the fur stood up proudly. Mothers and fathers talked of the future, sparkling on the horizon. They bandied about words like school, education, and freedom. Young men and women held hands in isolated corners, an unthinkable act six months ago when the Breeder Laws were in effect.

With all the new changes, did they feel out of place, too?

Nattie shoved open the door connecting two cars.

People filled the seats, leaving only one or two unoccupied on either side.

Near the opposite end, a husky man stood, grinning down at someone hidden by the seat. Sunlight glinted on the gray striping his sandy hair at the temples. Brantlee Neville.

She stumbled, caught herself on the seat back, and apologized to the elderly occupant for disturbing him. Swearing inside her head, Nattie steadied herself. She should have realized she wouldn’t be able to leave without seeing someone she knew.

Lee glanced up. His hazel eyes locked with hers. With a smile curving his lips, he waved her over.

Nattie gritted her teeth. Social niceties were harder without a rock in her hand. Adjusting her hold on the pack, she threaded a path through the aisle.

A few doctors nodded at her. More nurses acknowledged her—a prodigy of Dark Hope, lost then restored to them. She was no longer the elitist snob, believing that humanity had evolved into something better.  She knew the darkness lurking inside the most privileged, educated, and pampered of them. Fortunately, none engaged her in conversation.

She stopped next to Neville’s seat just as the doors slid closed. Widening her stance, she swayed as the train glided forward. The knife in her boot pressed against her shin. The weight was familiar but alien. “Neville.”

Neville pointed to the empty seat in the row of three chairs. “You’re welcome to keep Sammy and I company on the ride to Abaddon.”

All eyes, knees, and elbows, a pixie child glanced at Nattie from behind a curtain of dark hair. A white band on her bony wrist gave away her recent illness.

“Are you well now?” Images replayed inside Nattie’s head. Faces that would never be seen again because she’d met them. Her stomach cramped. So much killing to atone for.

“They cured me of the leu-Leukemia.” The little girl, Sammy, nodded then tucked her face into the crook of her arm.

She was smart to fear Nattie. Others might still be alive if they had feared her ‘Vider family. Feared her. Nattie’s attention cut to Neville. “Are you returning to Sanctuary?”

He, too, had blood on his hands. Of course, he’d killed to stay in power and save the life of his granddaughter. Many thought that was acceptable. Perhaps he could return to his hometown.

Neville nodded then shook his head. “Dawson drafted me as liaison between Sanctuary and Tricity. He wants us all under the Dark Hope umbrella before the ‘Viders show up.”

“Probably a good idea.” Of course, if no one faced the cannibals in battle, the gathering of so many people would just be that much more meat in one location. Still…

Dawson, Dark Hope’s Security Chief and her childhood friend, hadn’t stopped tilting at windmills. He believed the descendants of those who attempted to kill his ancestors could be redeemed.

Some folks were beyond redemption.

Neville adjusted his tunic over his paunch. “Sammy and I will be staying in Abaddon. We’d be pleased if you would call upon us.”

Sammy’s nose scrunched.

“I’m afraid I have to pass.” Nattie ruffled the girl’s hair. The little one wanted Nattie to visit as much as she wished to invite the boogeyman to tea. The boogeyman was safer company.

Neville’s hazel eyes darted left then right. He dropped his voice. “Are you on a mission for the old man?”

“For everyone.” She resisted the urge to roll her eyes, barely. The man was from a village descended from actors—all of them bad.

Neville puffed up his barrel chest. “You know where to find me, if you need me.”

“I appreciate the offer, but raising a granddaughter is more important.” Nattie patted his hand. Fighting corrupt mayors was a far cry from taking on the ‘Viders. A person could survive the former, but not the latter. “I need to prepare.”

Leaning forward, Neville kissed her left cheek then her right. “Break a leg.”

“Thanks.” But breaking bones would be just the beginning.

Turning on her heel, she headed out the connecting doors, crossed the platform, and entered the small foyer of the private cabins. She jogged around the wall, then strode down the corridor. Bubble lights above the doors indicated all but one cabin was occupied.

She headed for the empty compartment.

Desert vistas pressed against the outside windows. A coyote with raw, bald patches on his hide stood near a scraggly piñon. On the inside, most of the cabins had blinds drawn over their indoor windows, shielding the occupants from those in the corridor. Through others, she saw men and women. Worry deepened the lines on their faces and isolated them from the healed Outlanders in the other cars.

Slowing, she approached her target. A brief walk-by revealed its empty benches. She palmed the brass knob and twisted. The door opened silently and she slipped inside. She reached for the lock then paused. A small bathroom took up space in the square room. She should check for unwanted company.

The door flew open at her approach.

She dipped and rose with her nine-inch blade in her hand.

Joseph Dawson, Security Chief of Dark Hope, stepped out. Bushy salt and pepper eyebrows hung low on his brow, like gathering storm clouds. “Didn’t figure you for a coward.”

“Didn’t figure you’d want your throat slit.” Tossing her pack on the bench, Nattie sat next to it then returned the knife to her boot.

Dawson dropped onto the cushion opposite her and folded his arms across his chest. His black uniform tunic stretched taut over his muscles. “I forgave you for leaving the first time. Your airship crashed and you were stuck with the ‘Viders. But you’re leaving of your own free will this time, and nada, nothing, zip from you.”

She stared out the window. A lump formed in her throat. Of course, he would know she planned to leave. It was his job to know. He was also concerned about her. Friendship could be the cruelest form of torture…

He sighed. “Did you at least take a radio to contact me when you find them?”


“Stop with the scattered victim act, Natasha. It’s me, Joseph. I endured too many disciplinary acts from my parents because of your antics. The ‘Viders didn’t break you. You survived.”

If only he knew…

He had to know.

Tell him. It’s the only way to convince him to leave you alone. To let you do what needs to be done. The scenery swam in the blur of tears. Her chest tightened, making every breath an effort. She had hoped to avoid him, to not lose the one good thing left in her life.

He set his hand over hers. His touch was warm, solid. The rough calluses hallmarks of a life spent as a warrior.

She had other marks, badges branded into her skin. She pulled her hand out from under his. Tell him. “I’m not Natasha. I’m Nattie.”

He pursed his lips. “Fine, Nattie. A rose by any other name.”

He didn’t understand.

She had to make him. “Natasha died when the dirigible crashed over the Great American Desert.”

She could still smell the burning flesh, feel the heat of the fire, and hear the survivors with blackened skin begging to be put out of their misery. Ice Queen Natasha Wilson had ignored them all until she found her husband—naked in the bed and arms of another woman. If his neck hadn’t already been broken, she would have killed him.

As it was, she’d had her handheld. It had been her talisman as the ship had dropped from three thousand feet to the ground. It had crushed the skull of her husband’s lover in two whacks. The woman’s blood had splashed on the screen, across Natasha’s wedding photo. Something inside her had snapped.

Nattie had been born, baptized by rage and injustice.

“Nattie?” Dawson tapped the toe of her boot like he had when they were younger.

But they were nearly fifty.

And she was far from innocent. Definitely not worth saving. She pushed up her sleeves. Vines of black tattoos climbed both arms before dropping down her back and chest. Each leaf marked a kill. She’d stopped counting at a hundred. “I was an excellent ‘Vider.”

“You did what you had to do to survive.”

She shook her head. “I enjoyed the hunt, the kill.”

It had taken away the pain eating at her, dulled the ache from knowing her friends had kept quiet about her husband’s infidelities and had pitied her.

The ‘Viders had encouraged her, cheered her on, accepted her as she was. They’d admired her skill, her prowess, and her cunning. The Head Provider had given permission for his son to claim her, train her, and focus her rage. In her twisted grief, she’d become an instrument of justice. Every infraction was a capital crime.

Dawson’s jaw thrust forward. “Are you trying to disgust me?”

She didn’t have to try; he would be before she finished. And it would be true. Every word of it.

“It won’t work, you know.” Dawson leaned back in his seat. “I’ve killed, too.”

It wasn’t a stupid contest. She ripped off her tunic. The blue tank clinging to her torso revealed most of the ink on her body. “This many times?”

“Nope. You win that pissing contest.” He shrugged. “But it’s what we did to survive.”

She chucked her tunic at him. “I enjoyed it. The warmth of their blood on my fingers. Watching the light die in their eyes.”

He snorted. “That guilt you carry is eating you up faster than the cancer.”


“I love you, too.”

He thought he knew everything. Could explain her actions away and wash her clean of the blood. But she’d bathed in it too long. It had soaked into her pores, poisoned her from the inside out. “I killed the ‘Viders in Neville’s hometown of Sanctuary. I’d found the cyanide years ago in the remains of an old farmhouse. I divided the bottle between the communal stew pots, knowing I’d kill Tribute and children, pregnant women and innocent victims. And I don’t regret it.”

Dawson yawned. “So why didn’t you kill everyone earlier?”

Why? Why? She resisted the urge to yank her white hair out by the roots. What was wrong with him? She’d just admitted to mass murder, and he looked bored.

“Want me to tell you why?”

She glared at him. “I know why. Mirabelle Westminster.”

Harlan’s sister was supposed to turn into a ‘Vider like Nattie had. She’d watched her parents die brutally for each other. Her brother had been tortured in the worst possible way in front of her. Her friends, neighbors, and relatives had been eaten one by one. She’d even been forced to weave their hair into a shirt for her owner to wear.

And still Belle hadn’t broken.

She should have broken and reformed into a ‘Vider.

Nattie had watched her, waiting for the moment that never came.

And then there was Belle’s brother. Harlan had searched for ten years without giving up. Ten years until he found her.

Nattie had checked how long Dark Hope had looked for her. Three days. Three days after the crash they found the wreckage, scanned for life signs, came up empty, then never looked again.

Of course, Dawson had returned time after time, using his family connections to hitch a ride to search for her or her body.

It was a wonder the ‘Viders hadn’t found him.

As for Harlan Westminster, he’d racked up almost as many kills as Nattie during his guerrilla war against the ‘Viders.

Fools had the damnedest luck.

“Belle Westminster.” Dawson scratched the stubble on his chin. “She needs you to help her adjust back into society.”

Nattie jerked back to the compartment. “She needs me to eliminate the ‘Vider horde, so she can raise her remaining children in safety.”

Bile soured her throat. Her two sons and three daughters had been gone for twelve years, six months and three days, and still she smelled them on the sunshine and heard their laughter on the wind. If one of them had lived, just one of them, she never would have left.

“Safety is a mirage.”

“So is thinking Dark Hope will get their act together in time to mount a defense against the horde. The citizens have already voted to disband the ruling council. No one is in charge. They’ll be helpless when the ‘Viders get here.”

A muscle ticked in his jaw. “I’ve got things in hand. Plans are being drawn up. My security team hasn’t stopped looking for them.”

“Plans?” Picking up her shirt, she stuffed her arms back in her sleeves and pulled the garment over her head. “I hope it doesn’t include other cities. You’d be gutted, roasted, and devoured before the Consortium believes any more ‘Viders exist. Everyone is happy to believe the horde either never left their homes in the south or died from exposure to radiation.”

Dawson’s blue eyes narrowed to slits. “So you did bring a radio?”

“Radios can be found, taken away.” She tugged her collar to the side, exposing the right side of her throat. A small lump bulged from her jugular. “I’ve inserted a GPS chip. You’ll find the ID number carved in the bottom of your right-hand desk drawer.”

“If they find it…”

“I’ll be dead anyway.” This way it would be quick.

“How will you find them?”

“There are ways.” She didn’t elaborate. The neat piles of rocks were primitive but effective. She’d taught them the language she’d learned as a child. She wondered if the horde still used it. She wondered…too damn much.

A cityscape bristled on the horizon. Bright white buildings with sparkling blue roofs towered over squat dirt-colored ones. The train decelerated.

Dawson smoothed his eyebrows. “Any way I can talk you out of this?”

“No.” She double-checked her knife then shrugged on her pack. “We both know I’m dying. I want it to be for something. Something good.”

And if she could wipe a little blood off her slate between now and then, so much the better.

Rising, Dawson thrust his hand at her. “When this is over, I’ll find you. Don’t make it so hard this time.”

Nattie ignored his hand and hugged him. He smelled of soap, of cleanliness, and righteousness. She stunk no matter how often she bathed.

“Don’t look for me.” Releasing him, she stepped away and turned to the southwest where the main ‘Vider horde had to be. Where she had to go. “I’ll find my own grave.”


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Friday Funny—Grinners

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A Word of Advice

Did you ever have something happen to you that left you scratching your head as if you’ve missed a page in the manual of life? I did, so I took an informal poll of my friends, family and hubby and it was universally agreed that the event was weird, even creepy.

One morning, I was out walking my dog. Given that summer is almost over the it was early in the morning, it was still dark outside. I was armed with my head lamp, doggy acoutrements, and bear spray. And really, few want to tangle with a 100lbs of uber protective Rottweiller/German shepherd.

So off I set, careful to be on the lookout for the others out with their dogs. I hadn’t gotten far down the street when a black car drove past with its radio blaring. Now, I’ve mentioned this was early, so I kinda thought new paperboy. But he didn’t stop at the usual houses.

Hmm. I kept watch as I turned the corner. The car was also at the corner and signalling to turn. He U-turned. The dog took the moment to do his business and I readied my plastic bag puppet to retrieve said offering when the car came gliding toward me.

Normally, I’m kinda suspicious and have a vivid imagination, but there are only two roads in the neighborhood that go through so I figured the driver might be lost. Still, both the dog and I tensed as the guy stopped next to me, on the wrong side of the road about four feet from me.

Instead of asking for directions, he told me he was waiting for his girlfriend to get home from work. And that they’d broken up and gotten back together but that he must be an idiot. And that he wasn’t up to no good, nor was he lost and his girlfriend just lived up at the corner.

Um, What?

Naturally, I had planned to fling the handful of dog pooh, unleash the hound in a frenzy of teeth and claws, while pulling my cell phone to emergency call 9-1-1 and spraying the idiot with the bear spray (which I bought to protect myself against bands of coyotes but would probably work on him). Then I’d run to catch up with the other 4 dog walkers in the park.

Thankfully, one of them had deviated from her standard path and showed up. She stopped to look at me then the car.

The idiot finished sharing his thoughts on his cheating girlfriend, caught sight of the new arrival and drove away.

We stood on opposite corners and watched him go down the street then parted. As I made my way through the park, idiot kept cruising by. A quarter of a mile near the street, I met another dog walker and warned her and her three ferocious mutts. Idiot had passed her three times. She told me that idiot and his girlfriend had been fighting at all hours, that he lies in wait for her to come home and accuse her of cheating, and that the cops are usually called about 6 AM when both decided violence might settle the matter.

Needless to say, I pulled my pepper spray, removed the safety, and had it in my hand as I left the park. Dog Walker #1 was at the corner ahead of me. Dog Walker #3 was about 500 yards behind with his German shepherd and Rottweiller.

I didn’t see idiot driver the rest of the way home. Which was a good thing, as I was planning to spray him if he stopped again then call the police.

So, guys take my advice, if you see a woman by herself don’t stop her, pulled up creepily close, and tell her your life story.

Unless you want a faceful of mace and to be a chew toy for an overprotective dog. 5 outa 5 people agree you would deserve what you get.

Of course, if I went to the pokey for assault I would have more time to write:D You see I know what to do with that glass whether it’s half-full or half-empty.

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Bathed in Blood-Chapter 2

Chapter 2

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Doctor Raymond Ayers carefully repacked his medical bag. His back burned with each movement. Warm liquid oozed from the gashes where the switch had broken the skin. He shivered in the memories, felt his balls tighten. Pain and pleasure. Pleasure in pain. His sadomasochistic streak had made him the perfect instrument for this job.

And the job was its own reward.

Head Provider Marshall Zuni stood naked in front of him. Sunlight slanted through the clouds overhead. Water dripped from the outcropping protecting their camp. Lean muscle rippled over her one-and-three-quarter meter frame. No hair marred her body but faint white lines danced over her tan skin. Some even spelled his name.

He liked to mark his property, even knowing she’d kill him if she found out. His blood heated at the thought. She nearly killed him twice in the six months they’d been together. His climaxes those times had been unforgettable. He couldn’t wait to experience it again. Folding his stethoscope, he set it on top.

“Well?” Jet black tattoos swirled over her skin. A few new ones glistened around her brown aeroelas and over her pubis bone. Two covered the birthmark on her wrist. Tapered fingers danced over the soft swell of her belly.

“The babe is well.” He kept his attention to her thighs as she’d taught him. She would tire of being dominant in a few hours, then it would be his turn. Her use of the switch had given him a few ideas to try on her.

Ones that, if past experience held true, he guessed she would enjoy suffering through as much as he did inflicting.

In that, they were perfectly attuned sick fucks.

Marshall’s small breasts jutted in the air. “Truly. I—I still carry the child?”

“Yes. Your beating by the former mayor of Abaddon caused no permanent damage.” He cupped his knees, waiting for his opportunity. Soon. It had to be soon. He had waited so long, risked so much. Siding with Minos Charon had almost undone his life’s work. But that was behind him. Success lay ahead. “You are past the three month mark. I must still check on the babe every couple of weeks, but you should carry it to term.”

“I will have a child. A fine child. And she will avenge all that my people have suffered.” Marshall hugged her torso and danced in circles around the smoking campfire.

Ayers bit his lip, trapping the words inside his mouth. Their roles had not yet been reversed. He didn’t have permission yet to speak his mind.

She shimmied behind him then flopped onto the nest of clothing that made up their bed. Raking her nails down his back, she ripped off the newly formed scabs. “The babe shall need nourishment.”

Her hot mouth closed over the wounds. The suction as she drank followed the curve of his spine.

Blood flooded his penis. The pain was so beautiful. “You will need more than my blood to keep yourself and the baby healthy, Head Provider.”

With one final lick, she rested her chin on his shoulder. Crimson ringed her mouth as she rubbed against his back, smearing her body with his life’s blood. “It’s Marshall. For now.”

He spun about.

Her brown eyes sparked with excitement as he gripped her wrists in one hand and squeezed. “Well, I’m still your doctor.”

Her lips turned down at the corners.

With his free hand, he pinched her chin and roughly angled her face until she stared at him. “Today, I noticed two warning signs in your pregnancy.”

She blinked and jerked at her wrists. “My baby?”

“Yes, they could jeopardize you and your baby.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Why did you not tell me before?”

“Because I can manage them. I can keep you both alive.” He stressed his words, knowing the power they had over her. “But I can’t do it if I have to protect and feed you both.”

Her nostrils flared. “I do not need Tribute to protect or feed me.”

He shrugged off the derogatory connotations of Tribute. He was here because he chose to be, because it served him to be. Her power was only what he gave her. “If you get this disease, you will be weak, unable to hunt, or even walk.”

She clamped her lips together.

But she listened.

After he’d kept her biological father alive for twenty-six days as her private pantry, Marshall had begun to depend on him and his expertise.

Of course, she still believed the ideas to be her own, but he didn’t care. He kept his eye on the goal, not the number of scrimmages. “My hunting skills are lacking and I take longer than you. While I am gone, you and the child will be vulnerable to your many enemies.”

She drew in a deep breath and jerked her head once. “I have many enemies.”

“You could also take a turn for the worse while we are apart and I could lose one or both of you.” He kept the focus on the baby, but knew she liked it that he cared about her.

And he did, despite himself and his self-appointed mission.

Her shoulders relaxed. “What do you propose, Doctor?”

His heart hammered his chest. Six months of work and he was so close to his true purpose he could almost taste it. “I propose we try to find your people. If things do worsen, they will take care of feeding you and the babe, while I can focus on keeping you both alive.”

“Release my wrists, Doctor.”

He obeyed and set his shaking hands in his lap. Would she or wouldn’t she?

She cupped his cheek. “We are heading back to my people now.”

He blinked. “We are?”

But he’d checked his GPS. They were only forty miles from Abaddon and two days on foot from the nearest Mag-Lev train station.

“Yes. Of course, it shall take us a month to reach them, but we shall reach them.” Her brown eyes twinkled and a mischievous smile toyed with her lips.

For a moment, he almost forgot she was a ‘Vider. The Head Provider. He couldn’t get stupid, not when success was at hand.

“As for food…” She held up her hands, wrists pressed together, waiting for him to restrain her again. “We passed a Tribute’s home some miles back.”

He cast back in his memories. There’d been two houses. One of adobe brick slowly melted into the dirt. Another had a metal roof and a yellow crop of corn on a patch of mud. He vaguely remembered a couple with a small child and an infant. His stomach cramped and he squeezed her wrists until her fingers turned pink and her veins rose to the surface. “Which would you like?”

“Young flesh is the tenderest.” Marshall’s pupils dilated.

“Then you shall have it.” He picked up the switch, sticky with his blood. One more death. Unlike the ‘Viders, he killed painlessly. Death was a means to an end.

Soon the screams of his aunts, uncles, and cousins would be silent.

One more month and he would join the main ‘Vider horde.

One more month and he would use the items hidden in his medical bag and murder every last cannibal.


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