Authors: Kate Lynd
Tags: #Post Apocalyptic Erotic Romance
“I haven’t ever had a woman like you in here.”
“What do you mean?”
“An honest one. A kind one. A selfless one. And all you really want to be is loved. I’m surprised they haven’t stamped it out of you.” He cupped her cheek and she leaned into his touch. “You deserve your first time to be something special with the man you love.”
She pressed her lips to his palm and ran the tip of her tongue lightly against his skin. He groaned.
“I may die tomorrow. I want to be with the man willing to be my Second and to know his touch. I may not be Veronica when it comes to seduction, but I know I was meant to heal you before I pass from this world to the next. I know that though you may not have feelings of love for me, you’ll take care of me.”
“You are nothing like your sister,” he murmured into her ear, “and I am not going to let you die tomorrow. You are going to die happy and old, with a family to speak of.”
His mouth was inches from hers. He struggled with himself; he’d never concerned himself with a woman’s virtue before, not even the first time with Hope. They had been young and headstrong, ready to take on the world. And hopelessly in love. This was different, again. She was no groupie. And she was right; he did not feel love toward her.
“Tomorrow we go into battle together. Lucilla is one of the best female Gladiators. My father favors her like Veronica favors you. They both want me to die. I don’t want to die, but I’m not afraid of it. The only thing I fear is not fulfilling the one thing I was sent here to do.”
He held her face with his hands and fought his conscience no longer. He wanted to kiss her. Parting her lips, he slid his tongue into her mouth and tasted her. His head began to spin as he ran his hand down her side and then up her back, under her clothes. She broke off the kiss with a cry of pain and he stopped. He pulled her shirt off and rolled her to her stomach. There were crisscrossed scars and half-healed wounds from a bullwhip. “Christ.” He exhaled. “What have you endured all of these years?”
“Fury, jealousy, punishment. Please don’t stop.”
“I’ll kill them for this,” he said hoarsely. “How can anyone do this to a child, let alone their own daughter?”
“I stopped asking that question a long time ago.”
He tossed the shirt to the ground and began to kiss her scars, one by one, slowly and delicately. And she began to weep. It tore at his heart to think she’d suffered this kind of treatment at the hands of her own family. She arched her back to be closer to him, and it set his skin on fire. He turned her body to face him and kissed her again, holding her tight. When he deepened the kiss she sighed, and he craved her touch even more. Her hands trailed up and down his back. He pulled off his loincloth and removed her skirt. Skin to skin, he could feel their hearts pounding against one another’s chests. Being with her was intoxicating. He wanted her. He needed her. Nothing else would suffice. He dropped hot trailing kisses at her neck and eased her leg over his hip as he sucked her breast. She threw her head back and gasped in pleasure.
Her touch was unlike that of any other woman he’d had before. There was something in her complete and utter trust and need that spoke to a place in a long shut-down part of him. It whispered to his hardened heart and closed-off soul and asked him to come to her. He flexed his hips and pressed against her clitoris. She cried out and he released her breast and slid his cock inside her. Their eyes met and their souls melded.
He kissed her as he relished the feel of her tightness around his thick cock, urging him to go even deeper inside her. She wrapped her legs around his waist, and her whole body turned luminous. She sucked his tongue as she arched her body and he thrust harder and harder until he thought he might hurt her. As he filled her with long, hot, firm strokes, she began to pant and repeat his name like a mantra. When he touched her face again, he saw his own hands start to glow. She was delving into his soul, her eyes declaring her desire for him. Tristan was overcome by the need for his release. He thrust one last time and cried out his guttural orgasm. She kissed him as they collapsed to the bed. He was still rock hard for her and as she rolled him to his back she braced her hands to his shoulders and rode him, her breast perfectly positioned for him to caress and stroke them. She bucked wildly, tossing her head back, whispering his name. His world went white as he responded and they came together. When she rested on him, he squeezed her ass and kissed her tenderly. She rolled from him and laid her head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat. She placed her hand at his stomach, and he felt the slight pressure of her fingertips.
He didn’t know what was going to happen on the morrow when they were taken into the ring. But one thing was for certain, come what may, he was going to do his best to make sure they both came out of it alive.
He awoke before she did. He felt different from how he usually did before a fight in the main arena. His adrenaline was pumping, and he was visualizing every possible outcome. Alexandra’s death. His own death. Their opponents’ death. Or worse, a draw in which the crowd decided who lived and who died. And whatever their decision it was usually final, unless the crown overruled it. Looking down at Alex he knew the odds of her surviving were slim. She was a Healer. He didn’t think it was in her nature to kill. She’d done something to him. He didn’t know what it was, but he hoped like hell it was for the better.
She stirred. “Tristan…”
“Come on, we have to get you suited up and ready to defend yourself.”
When she sat up the sheet slipped from her body, exposing her skin. The bruises were inexplicably gone, and it seemed that the welps and scars on her back weren’t as pronounced as they had been the night before. She looked at her arms, and then at him, with disbelief.
“Impossible,” she whispered.
He walked up behind her and traced the few scars remaining with his fingertips. She shivered at his touch. “My skin does not feel tight any more. I can tell they’re practically gone…but how?”
She faced him and said, “Mom always said there was only one person who could ever be my soul mate, and that if I found him…”
“If you found him then what?”
“Then I would heal him, and if I needed it, he would be able to heal me.”
He touched his fingertips lightly to her face and softly said, “Armor up.”
They helped one another strap on their armor. As far into the future that they were, the Crown fancied their slaves Gladiators of the Roman Era and constrained them to dress as such.
Alexandra picked up her sword. When he looked at her he saw the warrior she could be, and picked up his own. He looked at her face and said, “Stay close. And I promise, nothing will happen to you.”
She said nothing and laid her cheek to his chest. He stood there, just holding her and inhaling the scent of her hair. Suddenly she stiffened. He looked up.
“Well isn’t this cute. A lamb being led to the slaughter by her ineffectual hero. Charming.” Veronica’s venomous words hit their intended mark.
“Shut up, Veronica.”
“I know what you’re thinking.
‘If I can just keep her alive long enough I’ll figure a way out of this
Alexandra whipped around and balled her hand into a fist, bringing it upward. She fixed her sister with a red-hot glare. Veronica dropped to her knees, clutching her throat. “You will never taunt him again. Is that understood?”
The terror in the queen’s eyes was evident. Her face was turning purple.
“Is that understood?”
Veronica nodded fast and hard. Alex splayed her fingers. As Veronica bent double and gulped in air she gave Tristan a sinister look. “This is far, far from over.” She clicked her fingers. “Take them to the cages. Now.”
“But their wine and bread…”
“Do you dare question my authority?”
The guard shrank back.
“And chain them together. If they are so hell-bent on protecting each other, let them be willing to die together.”
Veronica stormed off and the guards handled them roughly. “Sorry Shane. We have our orders.”
He said nothing as the new-found awareness surged through his veins. So Alex had the power to destroy as well as the power to heal at will. No wonder the crown feared her. As they were led to what might have been their last moments together, he prayed her instinct to live would turn her toward using the dark side of her natural gifts in order to survive.
* * * *
The crowd roared as they were led through the bowels of the prison system toward the trap door where he and Alex would be brought to the crown’s favorite stage. He hadn’t fought a back-to-back match in many years. But somehow he felt stronger today than he had in those days.
Tristan could feel the rumbling force of all that remained of the United States of America. He let it vibrate within his chest. He stood across from Alex who looked more regal, more defiant, than any woman in her position had a right to be. More than that—she looked calm as she cast her eyes to the brilliant blue sky above them.
“Stay close to me,” he said one last time, “and I promise no harm will come to you.”
She gazed into his eyes and said, “Tristan, promise me you won’t do anything stupid.”
“Like get yourself killed.”
“It’s not me that I’m worried about.”
She took his hand and suddenly she vanished, and his wife stood in her place. “Let her protect you.”
He reached out to touch her face. “Hope…”
She released his hand and the mirage was gone. “Strength in numbers. Tell me how to fight and I will save us both.”
Soon they stood in the center of the ring.
“Face the crowd and bow.”
Before them were Lucilla and his fiercest opponent, Damian. The mob was already hyped up and ready for a match. And when the introductions were made, albeit extraneously, they were fit to be tied.
Today our featured battle is between the best of the best. Lucilla the Undefeated versus the Heretic Healer
.” An earsplitting roar erupted in the stalls. “
Today’s match has a plus factor—the special inclusion of our top Gladiators Tristan Shane as the Heretic’s Second and the only Gladiator to ever come close to besting…him Damian Walker
Tristan could hear the mob bay for blood. Many pressed their faces against the grille with expectation on their faces. They wondered whether this so-called Heretic Healer was in fact the prophesized Healer, and the myth personified. And if she was, where had she been hiding all of these years?
The horn sounded, and Lucilla lunged toward them. Tristan grabbed the chain at Alex’s waist and yanked her out of the way.
Standing fast, he shouted, “Now Alex!” She brought her shield up just in time to block Lucilla’s hammering blow. She staggered backward and fell against him. Tristan swung them in a fast circle and ran into the fence. They fell, yet Alex managed to hold onto her weaponry. She brought the shield up to cover them both as Lucilla attacked again.
A small child crushed against the fence, staring into his face, caught Tristan’s eye. In her he saw his daughter, and all the other children suffering because of the greed of power-crazy men who now ruled the world.
“Fight back, Alex!” He scrambled to his feet and swung her around again.
Alex dropped her sword and shield. As Lucilla charged them again, she pressed her palms together till they glowed and she began to levitate. Her eyes flashed amber sparks and her hair billowed out, although there was no breeze. The crowd gasped and fell to their knees as one. Damian, unnerved, lost his balance, causing Lucilla to fall backward and impale herself through her calf.
“Stop her!” Veronica screamed from the royal court box.
Alex knelt. In one smooth motion, she pulled the sword out of Lucilla’s leg, and placed her hands on the wound. Lucilla trembled at the power emanating from her touch as the gash began to heal. The military was coming through the gates—but not before Tristan and Damian saw that Lucilla had healed completely.
The military ushered Lucilla and Damian out of the arena. Veronica looked down from the box at Tristan and quaked with anger. “Finish her!”
As if in a dream, Tristan glimpsed the face of a man he had not forgotten in ten years, who was aiming an arrow at Alex. He pulled back the bowstring and released it. Tristan roared and knocked Alex out of the way. The barb pierced his shoulder, and he cried out in pain. Alex crawled out from underneath him and yanked the arrow out. She pressed her cheek to his and cradled him until there was no more pain.
* * * *
When Tristan came to he found himself chained to the wall by his wrists. Hearing Alexandra’s screams of pain, he tried to pull his wrists out through the fetters. He heard a familiar peal of laughter and lunged forward, only to be restrained by the chains.
Veronica looked over her shoulder and shouted, “Again!”
Once more, Alex’s screams ripped straight through him. “Let her go.”
“And let her lead the rebellion straight to my front door? I hardly think so.”
“She’s hardly a revolutionary. She just is what she is, and wants to help people.”
Alex let out a strangled sob that pushed Tristan to the brink of insanity, taking him back to familiar dark territory. The wound she had desperately tried to heal, Veronica was doing her best to rend open. He lunged again, this time ripping one of the chains out of the wall.
“Let her go!”
“Or what? You’ll tear down these walls? Better men have tried and failed.”
Alex cried out again. Tristan tore out the other chain, and went face to face with the queen. “Let her go. Or when I find a way out of here, I’ll hunt you down and force your father to watch you die.”
Veronica’s face twisted into a mask of rage and evil. “You…you think you can save the world. No one can. Not you, and especially not that weakling that passes for my half-sister.”
He roared and caught her by the throat, and squeezed. “I don’t have the baggage of believing you’ll ever change. I know you for what you are. The monster who ordered the massacre of women and the enslavement of children. I have no qualms about ending your life right now. Now let her go.”