This is the start of the count down to book four in the Sumeria's Sons series. Surrounded By Crimson will be release on Saturday, May 18th. From today thru Sunday, May 17th, I will post the side stories to the Sumeria's Sons.
These shorts follow Tristan's and Ushna's best friend, Gregori Borchetta. They happen within the events of the Sumeria's Sons world and they can be read as stand alone. But I suggest reading the stories in conjunction with the series for an more enriching read and you'll already understand what is going on in the background.
This first short, A New Beginning, is over 6k in length and I have split it up over three days. It was originally a flash fiction release in Silver Publishing's January 2013 Silver Shorts anthology. It has gone through re-editing but nothing with the plot has changed.
On May 13th thru May 17th, Starting Fires, the second short for Gregori and Juan will be featured here on the blog. The story is a little over 12k so I'll post about 3k per day.
Starting Monday, May 13th I will be running a week long contest/giveaway for a couple of copies of Surrounded By Crimson. More participants means more copies. Additional details on the giveaway will be posted on Sunday.
© 2013, Lexi Ander
The Magi, Gregori Borchetta, and the warrior, Juan Ybarra, have been dancing around each other since that fateful day when Juan gave his blood oath to Tristan Janick. Dangerous ghosts haunt Gregori and he's not sure if he should stay or go. Will the skittish Magi be enticed to not only to stay for Tristan and the tribe but for Juan as well?
How could I not be aware of him with as close as he stood to me? I glanced at Juan Ybarra out of the corner of my eye. Something about him caused me to… to want to be more. His presence alone turned me into an idiot. I kept putting my foot in my mouth, or doing stupid shit. When Juan walked into the room, I turned shy. Bashfulness is not something people generally accuse me of. Around him my mouth would become so desert dry that I would embarrassingly smack my lips. If he smiled—no, I didn't hear angels or birds or whatever—I walked into walls and tripped over my own two feet. And yet, he made me want to be a better person. With just one uplift and twist of those lips, I wanted to take on the world.
Today, as he stood next to me in battle, I automatically pulled my shoulders back and held myself differently. I wanted him to notice me, to make him proud to be by my side—even if he stayed at Tristan's command.
How stupid was that? I already had enough to deal with. I didn't have time to get involved with anyone. Especially a Warrior of Anat bound by a blood oath to one of my best friends. The vow was the only thing that saved him from Tristan's wrath. He, along with other warriors, broke Lycan law by following a Magi into an alpha's territory without gaining Right of Passage. Even though the council orders had been forged, it didn't excuse their trespass.
Not when the intrusion was against their future king.
As we waited for the wounded to be gathered, I studied him. Juan was tall, broad through the shoulders with thick powerful legs. His glossy black hair curled up around the edges below his ears. He had a strong brow and bright hazel eyes with a prominent nose above full lips. I always caught myself staring when he would come around—like now.
I turned away to hid the blush of embarrassment. Early in life, I was taught to hide my thoughts and emotions behind a mask. People glimpsed what I wanted them to. Around Juan, I lost the necessary focus, and I couldn't afford the distraction.
Self-consciously I smoothed the wrinkles from the blue-gray robes, now mud caked and bloodied. I tucked away hair that had come loose from the crown-net. I sensing the weight of his gaze, I dared not look.
"Tallis Borchetta." The warrior, Michael Wayne, stood in the doorway waiting for my acknowledgement. I contemplated supergluing Tristan's ass to the toilet for giving me a damned title. "Those more seriously injured will be brought to the front porch. The Xenres's brother, Nathan Janick, said he'd handle everything else."
I nodded. "Place them on the yard instead of the near the entrance. I need them touching the Earth."
Michael bowed, staring at Juan who stood behind me. The warrior paused as if he would say something else then simply shook his head and left.
Our small tribe had been attacked by a serial killer with about fifty of his followers. There were only sixteen of us now: thirteen warriors, Tristan, his consort, Ushna, and myself. Nineteen total if you counted the two Shirdal and the golem. It had been a bloody battle. The intruders lost nearly half of their number. We'd been lucky to have suffered only two deaths.
Juan had stayed with me, his sword whistling in the air as he cut down the enemy. I had the golem to protect me but those who'd made it past the stone construct met their end at the edge of Juan's blade. Not once did he leave my side. It was too dangerous for me to wonder why because that was a line of thought I couldn't afford to indulge.
Nervously, I wiped my sweaty palms on my robes and startled out of my thoughts when Juan grasped my hand, drawing my gaze. "Why are you anxious? No healer can surpass your skills." His soft accented voice calmed me, his warm fingers entwined with mine.
"There are so many wounded. If I fail, someone will die," I confessed.
"You'll do fine. I'll be here to assist you." He gave me a soft encouraging smile.
Before I could respond, the warriors began to bring people to me, awaiting my directions. I shoved the rising trepidation aside and went to work. I was Magi. A Lycan, who at the cusp of puberty, not only transformed into a wolf for the first time, but also gained the gift of magic. I despised the development. I longed to be a warrior like my friends. Warriors were born with eight toes but as a boy I'd harbored the hope to be able to join them, regardless of my station of birth.
Every adult had warned me the wish wouldn't be fulfilled, and they were correct. Weeks away from spring, with ice cycles upon the branches, I experienced my first transformation into my wolf. At the same time, the magic awakened within me, bursting forth in an electrical shock wave. The power had been so strong it had spurred the woods in a one mile radius to bloom.
That day forever changed the course of my life. The Magi clamored excitedly amongst themselves, considering the powerful display as a beacon of untapped strength. My absent father, Kassian Borchetta, who had ignored me since birth, swooped in and took me away from everything I'd known and placed me into the Magi College.
The painful memories of my youth had no place here, instead I concentrated on the wounded man lying before me. The warrior gritted his teeth, moaning in agony. Dirt and blood coated him; a stained cloth covered the wound on his stomach. I attempted to remove the hands clutching the material so I could peer at the injury, and he grasped my wrist and twisted. The warrior's action had been automatic even though his eyes were hazy and lost in the pain.
"You're named Helios?" The Lycan blinked blurrily. "I can't help you if you don't let me go," I coaxed, tugging gently to free my hands.
Juan knelt next to us, his presence grabbing Helios's attention. "Release him, warrior." His voice held the hint of command, enough to cause Helios to comply.
The blood began to flow more freely once the cloth had been removed. I placed my palms on each side of the ragged gash and began to chant the incantation for healing. All Lycans had an affinity with the Earth, which meant the Magi were mainly proficient in that branch of magic. The strength of the power within me allowed me to be proficient in all four disciplines; earth, water, fire, and air. I was the best at the water class aptitude of healing.
As I chanted, I wrapped the magic around me and dropped down into the injury. Quickly assessing the damage, I directed the flow of magic, and wove the energy around the wound. When I withdrew, only bright red scar tissue remained.
Sitting back on my heels, I refrained from panting from exertion. I held my bloody hands in front of me, hating the color that stained them. Juan handed over a towel which I used to wipe them on before moving to the next person in line. I worked diligently to restore the injured, focused only on the task at hand until someone grasped my elbow, and a sharp word barked into my ear jolted me from the duty.
"Stop! That is enough, Tallis," Juan whispered. "You do too much. If you continue to push yourself, you'll be the one who needs a healer."
Strong arms encircled my torso and waist, securing me against a broad chest. I would've protested but noted the way my hands shook. The color of the skin appeared dangerously close to gray of my robes.
"Nathan!" Juan called, his voice sounding alarmed.
A Lycan carrying a black medical bag hurried toward us. Tristan's brother was gorgeous with his wavy brown hair and chocolate colored eyes. Stress pinched the corners of his mouth when he noticed us.
"Dammit, Gregori," Nathan admonished. "Tristan will have a fit if something happened to you."
"I have two more and then I'm done," I said leaning to peer past him. I couldn't remember how many injured remained. Juan made an annoyed huffing sound.
"No, you won't." Nathan grabbed my hands. "I'll attend to the last of the wounded. Gods, you're skin's cold and you're trembling from exhaustion." Nathan vigorously rubbed my cool fingers between his. "You've saved enough people today. The others will be fine in my care."
"No buts," Juan griped. "You heard what the doctor said. You're help has been more than sufficient." The warrior's warm nose nuzzled my ear. The heat of his body seeped through the silk robes. "Nathan, what do I need to do for him?"
"He'll require rest, then food and water. He's expended enough magic today to equal a dozen strong Magi so he'll drop from fatigue soon. Are you going to stay with him or should I check in with him later?"
Juan's arms tightened around me as I scowled at Nathan. He talked over me as if I wasn't capable of taking care of myself.
"No!" Juan snapped. "I'll stay with him," he responded more calmly.
Nathan smirked. "As you say, call me if... uhm, yeah." He turned, chuckling as he examined the one of the few remaining wounded.
Clearly we'd been dismissed.
Juan hoisted me to my feet. "I'm able to walk," I snapped and my knees promptly buckled, making a complete liar out of me. I hated being vulnerable and relying on someone else.
Juan grunted as he bore my weight. "I can see that."
He led the way into the house, the screen door slamming behind us. Forced to lean into him, I inhaled Juan's strong scent still evident under layers of dirt and grime. He made me want things I shouldn't. Even before the current problems plagued me, I sucked at relationships. I'd lost a friend because I followed my heart, instead of my head, only to end up hiding the hurt and disappointment behind a mask of indifference. Now with the threat of the Triad, I couldn't take chances with the lives of others.
Juan sat me on the lid of the toilet and carefully removed the silver circlet and net from my hair. The fine wire pulled on some strands but his gentle ministrations detached it without taking my scalp with it. When his hands fell to the clasps of the robe, I grasped his wrist.
"You can't stand. How are you going to take a shower?" Juan rationalized. Dusty and sweaty, he was just as exhausted as I was.
How could I convey to him without words that I didn't want him to see what the clothing hid? What I'd allowed to be done because I thought—I sighed and released him.
Juan undressed, kicking his clothes over to the corner. He was so beautiful with sculpted arms and legs, heavy firm pecs capped by large ruddy nipples. His cut abdomen was sprinkled with dusky hair around his navel, leading a trail down to the dark nest of pubic hair that nestled a set of substantial balls and a stunning uncut cock—that slowly plumped as I stared. I hissed out a breath and diverted my gaze.
He crouched down in front of me and started working the clasps of the robe. I would've done it myself but Nathan had been correct. I had overextended myself. If I could've, I would've walked away to escape the touch of the man of my secret dreams. He undressed me with tender care but soon he'd detect the disfiguring marks. I didn't want to see his handsome face transform into a mask of disgust or witness his regard for me change into pity.
He'd look at me differently—men always did after they'd seen the scars. Once the clothes came off, people took what they wanted and left without a backward glance at the freak. How could I blame them? I was the most powerful Magi born in five hundred years, and I didn't save myself. How then would I be able to protect a mate or partner?
SEE YOU TOMORROW!