Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Assassin's Retirement: Chapter 35 #amwriting #gentleman #ION #blogstory

Welcome back to Assassin's Retirement. Last week I had the rest of the story all planned out. "It will be only another 20k," I had said. Ha! While I was working on this chapter, a couple of things dawned on me. Things that needed to happen to make this a more rounded romance. Other POVs that probably should come into play... stuff to make the story better which also means it will probably make it longer. LOL

Chapter Thirty-Five

Midnight sat with Alonzo, guarding him and subsequently, Diego, while they were vulnerable. Not that he expected they would be attacked, but if they were, he knew what to do to defend them. Though Denise and Beck were with them, they had no clue that what Alonzo was doing for Diego was dangerous.

He had only witnessed a sharing like this once before. Many, many decades ago, when he was a young boy, his madre had been asked by the local tribe to be a witness and she had brought him along. That had been his first introduction to the Maricoxi. The sharing of memories was not done often if it could be helped. Since Alonzo had been the one to suggest it, that meant Diego was someone of importance. And since Diego was not blooded… well, Alonzo would not be the only one to come out of this sharing ill.

Zane and his brother had removed the cases brought by the ION agents, and now the house was filling with the aroma of cooking food, roast and some kind of spicy Italian. His mouth watered. Skyld moved around the kitchen, still shirtless and Midnight's mouth watered for a completely different reason. Even though he had participated in group sex just a short time ago, those couplings had been about the ritual. Now that Midnight had a taste of Skyld, he wanted more. They needed time get to know each other and explore. He hoped the next few days or weeks would allow them that luxury.

Just hours ago, Midnight had taken part in an obscure ritual on top of a temple belonging to an ancient, mostly forgotten god. He had agreed to be tied to Zane and Alonzo after only knowing them for a few hours, which sounded irresponsible, reckless, and a bit loco. But everyone there had agreed to the arrangement, for different reasons he suspected. The members of Crimson Comet had been drawn to Zane from the moment they'd met him. Cord would have brought Zane into their poly relationship, eventually. But somehow things were reversed, and instead, they were the ones drawn into Zane's tribe, and the move might just have saved Cord's life.

Cord had been Crimson Comet's… Midnight wouldn't have called him their leader, but he was metaphorically the center of the group's relationship. Midnight loved and respected Anson, Xander, Prince, and Raine—though Raine had tested his patience over the years. But it was Cord who had brought them all together. Losing Cord to his inner Grendel would have changed the group dynamic in ways Midnight could barely grasp.

Logically, everyone dies at sometime or another. Death came for everyone, even the offspring of ancient gods who were long lived but not immortal. Cord had cobbled together their family and eventually one of them would pass away. It was a fact of life that Midnight was resigned to. But the issue with Cord's Grendel would shorten his life considerably. Didn't families search out treatment for children who were diagnose with life threatening diseases? Their search for help was no different, convinced there had to be another way. Even though they had been told time and again there was no cure for Cord, they still searched, never giving up. When a hunter had caught up to them, toying with them, their concerns changed and the group sought to protect Cord, turning to the Oracles for help.

Though Ella was corrupt, Midnight was grateful they had spoken to her because she sent them to Zane. That fate-filled meeting led them down an unexpected path. Midnight had no doubt Zane would stop the hunter, but there was the added bonus that perhaps Zane could help Cord with his Grendel as well. Midnight hadn't spoken to the rest of the group, but they had all seen Cord in his alternate form before Tezcatlipoca's ceremony. The Grendel was not murderous or rampaging, but calm and... completely out of character when compared to other Grendels in history. He was sure it had something to do with Zane or perhaps Tezcatlipoca.

Since the ceremony, he hadn't been able to shake how freeing it was to wake up in his true form. Crimson Comet did not live in an area where he could indulge with changing every now and again. Besides, he worried he would accidentally hurt someone. He was strong in his human form, but when he allowed the mountain to show through, that part of him forgot how soft and delicate everything was. He glanced out the window, past the blowing snow to the peaks that loomed over the ranch. Being so close, he had to work to keep out the mountain's conversations. This was a place he could be himself, perhaps even get lost in his neglected half and not worry about who was around, or that he would accidentally crush someone in his family.

Next to him, Alonzo trembled. With care, he ran his fingers through Alonzo's dark hair, giving comfort as he could. Alonzo was not breakable. Would Alonzo hike the mountainside with him? Midnight hoped so.

Alonzo shuddered hard and Diego made a noise that caused everyone to pay attention to them. Both men had closed their eyes some time during the exchange and now their eyelids fluttered in unison before opening. Midnight caught Alonzo as he slumped back, letting go of Diego. Beck slid from the couch arm until he had Diego cradled against his chest. Worry was stamped on his expression, instantly ageing him ten years.

"What happened?" Denise barked, hurriedly rounding the sofa.

"Keep your voice down," Midnight snapped back. "Sharing memories has a cost that they will both pay, especially since Diego isn't connected to his god. He will sleep and more than likely have a migraine when he wakes."

Zane stalked from the kitchen, eyes narrowed into slits as he looked Alonzo over before giving he attention to Beck and Denise. "You are more than welcome to stay. I have a spare room—"

"No need," Beck said, glancing up to Denise who gave him a small nod. "We have rented a place in town."

"Then allow us to continue to watch Duvan," Zane waved his hand toward the Chupacabra. "He won't be going anywhere, considering the security Anatha left with us." The grin Zane Duvan was chilling and the man rightfully cowered, shooting quick glances at Denise as if she could save him. If Midnight was a betting man, he would say that Duvan's days were numbered.

"I don't know," Denise hedged. "You are civilians, so to speak, and we need to take custody of him."

"You can still pick him up tomorrow or whenever Diego wakes. Anyway, I am betting that he will need to speak to Alonzo before you head back to your headquarters. We also have the issue of the corrupted oracle who my guys contacted for help." Midnight's heart gave an erratic thump at Zane's possessive phrasing. "There is also the fact a rogue hunter is in the area who has been murdering people who are part dragon."

Through the conversation, Beck had been tenderly brushing Diego's black hair from his eyes, an intimacy that didn't go unnoticed. But as soon as Zane spoke of the hunter, his brilliant turquoise gaze was trained on Zane like a lion sizing up prey. "The hunters you speak of do not kill the innocent. They only track those who are a threat to society. If they can, they bring in the Grendel."

Zane simply stared back, his brown eyes flat and uninviting. Obviously, he was unafraid of the threat in Beck's direct stare, and Zane's held no small amount of disdain. He moved to where Cord had been standing to watch over Duvan. Midnight was mildly jealous as Cord leaned into Zane's touch. "Cord has been trying to get help from ION since the hunter targeted him. The oracle who agreed to help them, sent them to me instead of involving your organization. There is much going on that you don't know, and it would be wise on your part to listen before making assumptions."

Midnight moved Alonzo to the edge of the couch as Zane approached. "When Diego is well enough to return, we will give you all the information we have on the incident. Until them, I need to see to Alonzo."

Zane whispered in Alonzo's ear. Whatever he said roused Alonzo enough that he rose to his feet, leaning heavily on Zane until Cord put his shoulder under Alonzo's free arm. Midnight hid his smile when they left without another word. That was a dismissal if he'd ever heard one.

Sklyd crossed to Duvan and put a hand on his shoulder. "We are more than capable of watching Duvan. Why don't you guys come back tomorrow, then we can provide you with information we have on the rogue."

Beck and Denise shared a look that seemed to be a whole conversation. She pulled the cuff from her wrist. "I'll leave this with you, for now. I expect Duvan to still be here when we return." Skyld nodded, expression giving nothing away. "Good. I will leave you our numbers and the address of where we are staying in case you need anything. I will call in the morning and set up a meeting."

Beck attempted to rise but got nowhere with Diego in his lap. Midnight stood, help them up and out to their car. The taillights of the SUV disappeared down the drive in the waning light of the encroaching evening. An animal that looked like a cross between a bear and a dog, but bigger than a horse, followed the vehicle. It wasn't that Midnight could see the shifter with his eyes. His other senses connected to the rocks and mountain followed the shifter's course, whispering how it had been an age since the presence of such had walked its paths.

"Hey," Skyld said against his ear. "Come inside before you catch a cold."

Midnight turned to say he didn't catch colds, but almost swallowed his tongue as he watched Skyld walk away. Sudden need gripped him. He ached in a way that could be easily remedied. He hurried to catch up to Skyld, planning all the ways that he could feed this hunger now that they were alone.

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
Chapter Seventeen - Coincidence?
Chapter Eighteen, Part One - Guns Ablazin'
Chapter Eighteen, Part Two
Chapter Nineteen, Part One - Reckoning
Chapter Nineteen, Part Two
Chapter Twenty - Mercy
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two, Part One
Chapter Twenty-Two, Part Two
Chapter Twenty-Two, Part Three
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Twenty-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five, Part 1

Chapter Twenty-Five, Part 2

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