Yesterday, the first day of my Fractured journey, my crazy muse sent to me – a god with an ace up his sleeve. To recap, a god with a penchant for cruelty sent his power into the mortal realm and caused an earthquake. It destroyed a small housing estate, and now humans are trapped beneath the rubble. Orion Reece (the god with the plan) has called in reinforcements.
On the Second Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…Two changeling cats.
“Shit, man. How the hell are we supposed to move all this rubble?” Logan asked as he unearthed a large piece of red glass. It looked fragile against his big hand, but then most things did.
Blade studied the curved edges. He’d seen similar treasures before, especially at this time of year. Humans enjoyed their decorations. This one reflected the destruction around them.
The small housing estate was tucked way out into the countryside and had been an overlooked jewel until a god with a hard on for chaos and mischief decided to bring the whole thing down.
“With reinforcements.” Blade nodded to the trucks rolling towards them. “They took their sweet time getting here.” His cat was prowling in his mind. The smell of blood and impending death was driving the cheetah crazy. He could smell the fear of those trapped, hear their cries from underground, and they were running out of time.
Logan rolled his big shoulders, the white of his hair glinting in the moonlight. “We’re going to need a lot more where they came from.”
“It’s a start, brother. We need to get this show on the road.” Blade jogged to intercept the first team as they stepped from the armoured vehicle.
His body jolted when his cat picked up a familiar scent. If he’d truly been Logan’s brother he would have howled out his frustration. She was here. The one woman he couldn’t charm, the cat who confused the hell out of his cheetah and made every instinct in the man want to run. Sure, he’d been born to run. But still. It was humiliating.
“Alayah,” he said, taking in her uniform, the confidence in her golden eyes that he’d never seen before. “What are you doing here?”
“Panashe.” Her voice was remote, and it pissed him off. It had always pissed him off when she called him by his birth name, because it was a reminder that his parents had chosen her to be his mate. This, though, the cold way she formed the syllables. It was worse.
“I would think it’s obvious,” she said then. “I’m here to join the rescue effort.”
Logan snorted beside him. “She has you there, bro.” Then the jackass enveloped Alayah in his big arms and hugged her as though they were related. He did it to get a rise out of Blade. It worked.
Blade swallowed, wondering why he was only just noticing how graceful she was, how long her legs were, and how pretty her pale hair shone.
The last time they’d seen each other her supple body had been strung tight with tension. The thought reminded him of why he’d spent the past few years fighting the desire to rip Aaron limb from limb, and he almost growled.
They were friends again. Sort of. But he hadn’t completely forgiven Aaron for his juvenile prank. And, okay, so they had made a game of it over the years, trying to one up each other. It didn’t change the fact their game had come to a sticky end.
Ha. Sticky. Aaron had tied Blade naked to a tree, and covered his body in honey. It happened to be in the height of mating season, and the cats had swarmed Blade like, well – bees to honey.
Alayah, the shy pretty cheetah who had followed him around since their parents introduced them, had saved him. She had staked her claim in the middle of the damn forest, and dragged him to an abandoned cave to ride out the crazy storm. Not literally. Well, not at first.
Neither of them had wanted the pairing, so Alayah’s bold move had been a way to save his sorry hide. Except they had both underestimated the power of the mating heat, and Alayah had turned into a siren. Her cat had taken full and complete control.
Then, when the heat had drained from her body, and her senses had returned, the old Alayah had stood before him. Awkward and tense. That was the last time he’d seen her.
The anger Blade felt towards Aaron for the stunt had less to do with his humiliation, and more to do with the price he’d had to pay. It had cost Blade his friendship with sweet, gentle Alayah.
Blade blinked, surprised to realise he was still staring. She didn’t look sweet now. She looked pissed. At him.
Logan coughed, probably to cover a laugh. “We’re glad you’re here, Al. With a rescue effort of this size, we need all the help we can get.”
Alayah nodded, glancing at the debris surrounding them. “Then put me to work.” Her eyes never left Logan’s. She appeared hell bent on forgetting Blade even existed.
“I’ll let Blade go over the plan with you,” Logan said, turning to him. “Think you can handle that, bud?”
Oh, he thought he was so funny. He wouldn’t think so when Blade wiped the smirk from his lips.
You know I’ll get you back for this, right? It still felt unfamiliar, the connection he had to Logan in his head. But it was at times like this he was grateful for it.
It’s just too easy, brother.
Blade narrowed his eyes, resisting the urge to bolt when Logan took off. What the hell was wrong with him?
To give himself a minute, he glanced towards the elves who were positioned at strategic points within the site. Strategic to them, at least. They had been chanting for a while, communicating with the earth, or whatever, to stabilise what remained of the crumbling structures.
“Do you remember the cave-in at Durin Mountain when we were kids?” he asked Alayah.
Her pretty gold eyes widened in understanding. “They had to remove the outer layer of debris to assess the damage.”
He nodded. “You turned it into a game for those who had family trapped inside.” Their small group had made it a race, their movements so fast and light they hadn’t compromised the section of fallen tunnel. “Want to play a game with me?”
Alayah shifted uneasily on her feet. He couldn’t decide if she was remembering a different time, or if his forced joviality made her uncomfortable. “If I remember correctly, you run pretty damn fast.”
Yep. Definitely pissed at him. She wasn’t talking about his speed in general, she was talking about the morning he’d made an ass of himself by disappearing when the sun came up. His walk of shame had been a full-on sprint.
“Please let’s not do this. Just forget I said anything.”
His brows shot up. “Now who’s running?” Shit he was going to kick Aaron’s ass the next time he saw him.
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing.” She gave him a small smile. “Try to keep up.” Then she was off, zipping to the nearest building like a vamp on speed.
Blade’s cat perked up at the challenge. Pretty soon the reinforcements would arrive, and everyone would argue about the best way to find a way in. But for now, he could give his animal what it needed the most, a way to help the people trapped. Their fear was beginning to grate along his skin, but as long as he kept moving he didn’t feel so helpless.
Tell me again why you can’t transport these people out of here? He projected to Orion, knowing the god was monitoring their progress.
Because most of them wouldn’t survive. Came the impatient response. Are you giving up so soon, cat?”
Don’t put this on me. It was your crazy cousin who got us into this mess. Sometimes he wondered what the hell he was thinking, putting all his trust in one of the gods.
The same crazy cousin who is watching your every move. Now Orion sounded resigned, and Blade suspected it was the real reason he couldn’t intervene. If the rescue is fair, he’ll allow the humans to live. But this is a game to him, so expect company.
Which I take to mean you’ll be sending in countermeasures? This is sick. You know that, right? We’re talking about innocent-
Just don’t let me down. Darius will pay for this stunt, I can promise you that.
Blade had no response except to do the job he’d signed on for. So, he worked side by side with Alayah, and left the gods to play their crazy ass games.
Thanks for stopping by