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He wanted to walk away...
Fate wouldn't let him.
Copyright Lexi Ander
Chapter Sixteen – Maricoxi Guardians
As much as Zane wanted to stay up and talk to Skyld, he was relieved when his mentor encouraged him to go to bed. Without knocking, Alonzo entered the music room, his gaze traveling up Skyld's arm to where he embraced Zane. His lips pressed flat, and he scowled. Zane thought he should be annoyed with how Alonzo barged in without permission, but instead his body tightened at the possessive heat reflected in Alonzo's eyes.
"We can talk tomorrow. I'll take first watch," Skyld squeezed Zane's nape again, smirking at Alonzo.
"I'll wake Alonzo for second watch, so don't keep him up too late." Skyld shook Zane gently, affectionately, before releasing him and brushing by Alonzo.
Surprisingly, Alonzo didn't immediately cross to him. Uncertainty filled his expression. "I could go back to my cabin."
Zane suppressed a grin. "Do you want to leave?"
Alonzo's shoulders sagged with obvious relief. "No, but I didn't want to presume. You might not want me after you know more about my people."
That made Zane remember what Midnight had said. "Are there more of you on the mountain?"
Sorrow, sharp and poignant, crossed Alonzo's features before his expression turned into a blank mask.
"Don't to that," Zane finally crossed to Alonzo, giving into the urge to touch hum. At Alonzo's confusion, he elaborated. "Don't hide from me. I want to get to know you better."
He cupped Alonzo's elbow and gently led him across the hall to the master suite. After locking the door behind him, he navigated the spacious room solely by the light of the moon. The only window just so happened to look out over Alonzo's cabin. Since Alonzo had ushered the last of the hunters off the mountainside, Zane would lay in bed at the end of the day and watched the lights go out. He'd spent too much time wondering what Alonzo did behind closed doors.
When he released Alonzo, Zane pulled the sweater over his head. He hoped the dark would make Alonzo more comfortable talking to him. Perhaps if he didn't feel as if his every expression was on display, he could relax. As Zane, readied for bed, he waited to see what Alonzo would do.
"I feel as if I'm only adding to your burdens," Alonzo finally murmured.
Zane pushed his jeans down his legs before sitting at the foot of the bed to untie the one still-laced boot before kicking both shoes off. "This thing you have with wanting to protect me, it's fucking sexy as hell. Other than Skyld, no one had tried to shield me, and he didn't dare protect me much because I needed to quickly learn how to survive. So even though I relish how you are with me, I need you to let me be the judge of what is burdensome."
He stood and kicked off his pants and underwear. "You want to take a quick shower with me?" He didn't attempt to hide he was half hard. He wouldn't be able to get a true erection again tonight, but he was excited by the thought of Alonzo in bed with him. Since he had no long-time lovers, he'd never slept next to another before. Skyld didn't count.
Crossing to the bathroom, he still didn't turn on the overhead lamps, relying on the two security lights he installed to see by. When he turned on the shower, he was pleased to see Alonzo had followed, removing his pants.
Zane never lingered in the shower, he didn't see a reason to. But sharing the space with another… all that slick skin and brushing against him as they washed, Zane was definitely going to do this again when he wasn't dead on his feet and already sated. But that didn't stop him from admiring Alonzo in the ambient light.
"Do you like looking at me, Zane?"
He forced his gaze away from the dark hair covering the play of muscle over Alonzo's chest. He swallowed hard. "I think you already know I do."
With the next breath, Zane was lifted and encouraged to wrap his legs around Alonzo's waist before he was pressed into the corner. Soft lips sealed over his. Zane loved how Alonzo took his time, in no hurry to leave. Just kissing. Zane explored as well, loving how Alonzo tasted, the feel of that hairy body rubbing against his, Zane savored it all. When Alonzo finally put him down, he was out of breath and wishing he wasn't so damned tired. The next morning he would have to get down to business and deal with an assassin in his territory as well as plan to eliminate the threat Elle posed to him. Not that he wanted Crimsons Comet gone. Zane stilled as he was drying off, the idea of all of them in a ridiculously large bed, touching each other, touching him. A shudder worked its way up his spine. Though his mind knew it was an impossible dream, his body didn't get the memo.
He hung the towel on the rack and quickly brushed his teeth, digging in the drawer for the spare toothbrush for Alonzo. He bit down on his because even Alonzo brushing his teeth was sexy.
What was up with his libido? He'd gone months without sex before, his hand his only companion, and he had never been this… on edge, sexually aware of everyone around him. First it was the members of Crimson Comet who stirred this heightened lust in him. Xander's introductory kiss had been out of this world. His blood thrummed knowing he was viscerally attracted to all of them, even perpetually pissed off Raine. Normally, Zane didn't give someone like that a second thought. But there was something about all of them that drew him, and he had to wonder if his attraction had to do with them being Other. It was something to be considered.
When Zane crawled into bed, he was pleased when Alonzo followed. But then he froze. What was bed etiquette? Did one snuggle, spoon, or keep an imaginary line between them that should only be crossed when having sex? Before anxiety could rise, Alonzo rolled over and threw an arm and leg over Zane. He had a sudden worry that his movements would be too hampered, but he quickly shoved the thought down. He wanted to experience this closeness. He had an excellent security system and Scyld was on watch. He could let his guard down this once.
"Among the Maricoxi," Alonzo whispered, "I am known as a guardian. Those like me choose a clan to protect based on the worthiness of the patron. The stronger the leader, the more guardians they have, the more connected the clan members. You have to understand, my people, the members of the clan are not related. The patron attracts different Maricoxi to them. The clans are what society nowadays would call polyamorous… family, though family isn't necessarily a correct term. Any children born will eventually leave the clan to find a patron they would commit to and serve."
Alonzo paused, running his palm down Zane's stomach in a petting motion, almost as if he was trying to sooth himself. Zane had so many questions but suspected that if he asked, Alonzo would close up.
"My clan leader betrayed our God. In return, our God tasked me with… I took back what which my patron stole," Alonzo rasped. Zane moved to wrap his arms around him, awkwardly trying to give comfort. "Guardians… it is in our character to care for our leader in all ways. We forge bonds with the rest of the clan but always the patron comes first in everything we do."
And Zane understood. Alonzo's God (and holy shit, Gods were real beings?) had required Alonzo to fix his leader's betrayal and that had hurt Alonzo in a way Zane didn't quite comprehend.
"Because I chose to follow our God's command, my patron was no longer my main focus. I broke a covenant between me, my patron, and my clan. Though a new leader took over, I wasn't their guardian. They could not trust me even though the patron's betrayal was unprecedented and devastating to all Maricoxi, mine was more so and unforgivable in their eyes. So no, there are no other Maricoxi living on the mountain. I am clanless."
Zane squeezed Alonzo tighter. Well, that explained Alonzo's protectiveness. He'd been denied someone to care for. Zane had not heard of Alonzo dating or taking a lover and he spent much of the year escorting hunters on the mountainside. That Alonzo showed protectiveness of Zane was a bit disconcerting, since he now thought he understood the motivation, but also very gratifying in a way Zane had never experienced.
"Did you not look to join another clan?" he asked, saddened to think Alonzo had given up without trying again.
"I did. But by the time I found a patron who called to me, word had spread about what had happened. A guardian should only be concerned with the patron's welfare and happiness. Though she understood, knew that I could not disobey our God, I had become untouchable. She let me stay because Maricoxi yearn to be surrounded by a clan. Being without one can be torturous. Over time, I realized I couldn't be a part of any clan, not as I was meant to be, so I moved across countries to work for an organization that polices Others all over the world." Alonzo shrugged as if uncomfortable, his voice tight. Zane wondered what happened at the job to make him uneasy or perhaps he was reading too much into Alonzo's body language. "I left a few years ago, and luckily landed the job as a guide on the ranch."
A yawn cracked Zane's jaw even as he tried to stifle it. "You've been hiding on the mountainside since," he said, not accusatory, just stating a fact as he saw it. "That had to be hard for you. You came from a… communal background. You need people, right?"
Alonzo laughed softly into Zane's hair. "I was fine until you moved in. There is something about you I cannot deny," he whispered.
Zane closed his eyes, his body turning heavy. In case he couldn't take care of the person who leaked his identity, he would have to disappear. Just thinking about leaving without Alonzo made him physically hurt in his bones. "If I had to leave, would you come me?" But as soon as the words were out of his mouth he knew it was a stupid question. He didn't really know Alonzo and he immediately wished he could take the words back.
Alonzo's arms around Zane tightened almost painfully. "Yes." His answer was spoken so softly Zane almost didn't hear him.
Huh. Zane's whole body warmed, and he had a feeling that if he hadn't been so tired, he would have been alarmed.
Zane didn't remember falling asleep but he woke with a jolt when Alonzo moved.
"And you'll stay with him," Alonzo whispered.
"Where are you going?" Zane rasped even as he rolled over to see who Alonzo spoke to. He reached under his pillow toward the headboard where he kept a holstered gun hidden.
Skyld stood at the foot of the bed, pulling his shirt over his head. Zane smelled snow and the smokiness of a fire.
"I'll stay," Skyld murmured, but Zane heard the smirk in his voice.
When Alonzo slid from under the covers, Zane fisted his hands to keep from grabbing Alonzo. As if sensing Zane's reluctance, Alonzo turned and kissed him. "I won't be far," he reassured.
He flopped back down onto the bed, disgruntled. For the first time since he was a kid, he felt a bit pouty. If he didn't do something quickly to hide his emotions, Skyld would take great pleasure in teasing him. Alonzo quickly dressed, watching Skyld closely as he pulled off his jeans, leaving his boxers on before slipping in the warm spot left by Alonzo. "Oh God," Skyld practically moaned. "You're like a furnace."
Zane snickered as he watched Alonzo round the bed now fully dressed. The next kiss was possessive, and Zane smiled into it. He would have to explain Skyld posed no threat. He was like a father, brother, and best friend all rolled into one person.
After Alonzo left the room, Skyld turned his back to Zane. "You know the rules. You steal the covers and I'll kick you out of bed. You attempt to cuddle, and not only will I kick you out of bed, I'll throw you in a cold shower."
Zane rolled onto his stomach and buried his face in the pillow to hide his grin. Despite everything going on and this weirdness of Others, Zane was… happy. Strange but true, and he wasn't going to pick it apart. Now he might feel differently in the morning, but for the moment, he wasn't going to borrow trouble. He fell asleep listening to the familiar cadence of Skyld's soft snores.
Table of Contents
Chapter One - Retirement
Chapter Two - Normal is not supposed to be this hard
Chapter Three - Caught
Chapter Four - Crimson Comet
Chapter Five - Mountain Magic
Chapter Six, Part 1 - Harbinger of a Nightmare
Chapter Six, Part 2 -
Chapter Seven, Part 1 - Stolen Answers
Chapter Seven, Part 2 -
Chapter Eight, Part 1 - No such thing as heroes
Chapter Eight, Part 2 -
Chapter Nine, Part 1 - Dead is supposed to be... dead
Chapter Nine, Part 2 -
Chapter Ten, Part 1 - Gathering Allies
Chapter Ten, Part 2
Chapter Eleven - Combustible
Chapter Twelve - Standing His Ground
Chapter Thirteen - Choices
Chapter Fourteen, Part 1
Chapter Fourteen, Part 2
Chapter Fifteen, Part 1 - To kill, or not to kill
Chapter Fifteen, Part 2
Chapter Sixteen - Maricoxi Guardians
Thank you for stopping by and reading!!