Day 5: 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.
Contest: Monday, May 13th I will be running a week long contest/giveaway. More participants means more copies. Leave a comment everyday from the 13th thru the 17th for a chance to win an e-book copy of Surrounded By Crimson. If you comment all five days then you will have five entries in the contest. Winners will be announced on Saturday, May 18th. Good Luck!!
Starting Fires (Sumeria's Sons #3.1, Sumeria's Magi #0.2)
© 2013, Lexi Ander
The spot I picked to stand guard from had a clear visual of the road leading into the ranch, the bunk houses, and both barns… and Gregori lounging on the porch, the crisp early morning air turning his breath to mist with every exhale. I thought he was the most stunning male I knew. Long red hair loose, the breeze flipping up the ends and giving the impression of an open flame. His sad gray eyes scanned the ranch yard as if he searched for something or someone. Perfect smooth alabaster skin was somewhat pink from the chill in the air. He was unlike any Magi I had ever met.
My normal shift had been over for a couple of hours. It was probably slightly stalkerish for me to stay on just so I'd have a reason to run into Gregori. Our relationship had been strained since the return of Stanley Kendall and Jory Swaine almost two weeks ago. Gregori struggled to repress his emotions when he spent time with Stan. I wondered if the Magi I cared for still loved the dark warrior.
If he did then there wasn't much I could do besides guard him from afar… like a love sick puppy. Something had to happen. Stan wasn't only a higher ranked warrior, he was a powerful alpha. As possessive as the male could be, getting near Gregori in order to have a meaningful conversation had been near impossible.
Even now as I secretly safeguarded Gregori, Stan stood in the door of the horse barn glaring at me. He was too late—almost ten years by my count—to salvage a relationship with Gregori. At least I hoped he was. Gods I'd love to flip the asshole off and tell him to go fuck himself. I might be tempted on a day when I was jonesing for an ass kicking. Today would not be that day.
"Captain Ybarra," I glanced at Helios as he approached.
I never expected to hold any kind of rank in the Order of Anat much less possess the title of captain in the prince's royal guard. Arms Maser Corey Bahar honored me to show such confidence in my abilities.
"I'm supposed to relay to you that you're officially off duty for a minimum of three days." The Lycan grinned mischievously as he glanced past me to Gregori. "He's well aware you've been working overtime without reporting the extra hours."
What would I do with time off? I had nowhere to go or family to visit. Hell I didn't want to go anywhere. If I stayed I would continue to shadow Gregori. How sad was that? I considered arguing the amount of forced time off.
"Corey said if you gave me lip, I can continue to add additional time until you shut up." The warrior's eyebrow rose in silent question. I snapped my mouth closed and shot Helios a mulish expression. My friend enjoyed watching me squirm.
A growing number of Lycans and warriors arrived daily to request entrance into Alpha Janick's tribe. Corey needed his core warriors to monitor the incoming to safeguard our prince. We also had to be vigilant of the assassins who'd been hunting and murdering the royal line for centuries. Only twelve of us who knew of the alpha's bloodline and we'd sworn a Blood Oath to Tristan.
"I should give you another day for the scowl alone," Helios taunted.
"No," I replied. Three days off was long enough, I didn't need additional time added. "I won't leave the ranch so if something happens I'll be close to assist you."
The screen door slammed behind Gregori as he retreated into the main house. I needed clean up and catch some crucial sleep. The reason I rethought the logical course of action left the horse barn. Stan trudged across the yard toward the alpha's home. For a split second I allowed myself to be pissed off by the unfairness of it all. Gregori and Stan had a connection. They had grown up together. He saved Gregori's life, and for a short period of time, they had been lovers.
Gregori had once said the two of them had been wrong for each other and instead of questioning how he knew; I had let it drop. Let the sleeping dogs lie, so to speak. I'd regretted it ever since. When Stan arrived on the ranch, Gregori's actions spoke of a man who had unresolved matters when it came to his friend. I worried the unsettled issued between them meant Gregori still loved the warrior. I had to wonder if they'd been wrong for each other as teenagers, had they grown into to being right for each other now. I pushed away the thought as my stomach turned upside down.
Instead of following Gregori up to the main house, I made my way to the officer's longhouse. The building was one of the new bunk houses Tristan had constructed for us. I now called the structure home. It wasn't much but I didn't carry much baggage with me to begin with. Most warriors kept a room at the house of their clan patriarch, housed as honored members of the family. Mine had been long gone, leaving me the last of the Y'barra line.
As a teenager, I believed I would mate with a she-wolf and produce a half a dozen strong boys to carry on the family name. The one and only embarrassing sexual encounter with my childhood friend, Catalina, proved me wrong. What a disaster. With her encouragement and support, I worked past the guilt. I had grudgingly come to the conclusion I wouldn't have a she-wolf or children to fill my family's home.
The screen door clacked closed behind me and I had to grin. Tristan insisted on the old design for all of the screen doors. Solid wood and screen mesh replaced the modern day aluminum frames. He argued the metal grated on his hearing but the slap of the wood told him that he'd come home. As if we would argue with our prince.
Chuckling, I crossed the front room that served as the communal lounge. Multiple couches and chairs had been arranged in two conversation areas. My boots struck the hardwood floor, the sound resonating hollowly through the space. Past a galley kitchen, I entered the long hallway with doorways to other rooms evenly placed the length of the corridor. The last door on the left led to my personal quarters. I loved being the corner apartment with two sets of windows that looked out on the northwest pasture.
Corey had been correct in his assessment. I'd been ignoring how bone-weary I'd become over the last week or so. Ever since Stan had effectively maneuvered to block my time with Gregori, I'd been putting in extra hours. I understood the two of them had unresolved business. I didn't have a formal claim on the Magi—yet—and as much as I hated to admit it, I happened to be afraid of losing Gregori completely to the warrior.
Prior to Stan's arrival, I'd spent every free moment with Gregori, catching moments of secret kisses and hushed conversation as I wooed the sweet man. I'd made it perfectly clear I wanted him, emotional hang-ups included. However long it took Gregori to trust me, I'd wait. I didn't push for more than he wanted to give. I believed he'd eventually be mine and afterwards I'd love on him until my name was the only one he knew.
Then Stan arrived, someone who had a prior emotional claim on Gregori.
A sharp knock sounded at the door. I scowled, the scent belonged to a person I didn't wish to speak with today, or any other day for that matter. I considered ignoring him.
"Look, I just want to talk." The solid wood muffled the voice but I heard the determination.
Releasing an aggravated sigh, I opened the door and briefly contemplated making him stand in the hallway to "talk". I didn't imagine he'd want the topic of the conversation to be made public. Out of respect for Gregori, I stepped aside silently inviting Stan into my private quarters.
The dark haired alpha strode past me and the room seemed to shrink, becoming smaller simply from his overwhelming presence. Alpha Janick's presence had a similar affect but on a much larger scale. Stan may be a dominant but he had nowhere near the capability of our Xenres, the King of Alphas.
Shutting the door, I leaned against cool wood and waited. Stan scanned the interior of my living space, his gaze halting here and there. The room had simple decorations with minimal furniture—uncomplicated. The floor to ceiling corner cabinet with its protective glass door held my most cherished family heirlooms. A winged backed chair sat at an angle. A small table for two had been placed in front of the double windows. Next to the bed stood an overflowing bookshelf, and an area rug of mythical sea creatures, woven by my grandmother, covered the hardwood floor.
The warrior made himself at home. He sat at the table, stretched out his legs, and crossed his boots at the ankle. He seemed as if he had all the time in the world. I refuse to sit and make him more comfortable. The man had made a nuisance of himself for almost two weeks. Any time I neared Gregori, Stan immediately placed himself between us like a jealous lover. Alpha or not, I decided I'd do my best to lay him out if he continued.
"I realize you aren't here to make nice," I started. "What do you want?"
Stan narrowed his eyes, his jaw clenched as he glared at me. I loosened the muscles in my body, ready to move if the Lycan attacked me.
"There is nothing you can offer Gregori." Stan purposely glanced around the room again, this time with disdain. "What will it take to make you go away? Money? How much? A more prestigious position? I can pull some strings, call in a few favors. You can go anywhere in the world you want. Name it, as long as it's not here and it’s away from Gregori."
What an ego. The gall of the man to presume he understood me. My opinion of Stan had just cemented. Maybe he believed he knew what was best for Gregori. Personally, I believed remorse had been eating him alive for a very long time. A small part of me derived a certain satisfaction at the thought because as either a friend or lover, I would've never left Gregori's side had I been in Stan's shoes. I questioned the character of a person who'd leave behind people he considered family. Maybe the unsympathetic opinion I held for Stan stemmed from the loss of my entire clan at the same age as he'd left Gregori. I'd move the heavens to have them back while Stan abandoned his. In my heart, a man of honor doesn't leave the injured behind. Stan deserved the guilt he harbored.
The answer to the demand, for the statement had in no way been a question, remained simple and decisive. "No."
Stan gave a booming rancorous laugh. "You believe you have something to give to man like him? Your loyalties are tied to Tristan. Gregori needs someone to protect him, to shelter and put him first. You can't do either."
"Yes, my loyalties are tied to Alpha Janick. You continue to forget he is our future king. Both Gregori and I will put the welfare of our ruler above all. We have a duty to Prince Tristan—even you. You don't know Gregori like you think you do. He's tougher than you give him credit for. I doubt he'd appreciate you meddling like a nosey grandmother in his personal affairs."
Rising off the door, I opened it. "You need to leave."
Stan stood and flexed his muscular body in a show of strength. I put on my finest bored expression because I wanted to drag the asshole outside. I didn't believe my Xenres would appreciate it if I attempted to wipe the parking lot with his best friend. I might not be able to beat the power of the alpha but Stan would give me a wide birth when I bite his nuts off. Sometimes you don't have to win the fight; you just have to get in the best hit.
SEE YOU TOMORROW!!