Read Gladiator Online

Authors: Kate Lynd

Tags: #Post Apocalyptic Erotic Romance

Gladiator (5 page)

Tristan instinctively slipped up behind Alex as Lucilla began to stir and his lover’s hand came away. The wind died down and she crumpled into his arms. Her vitality was utterly depleted.

“Damien…” Lucilla stirred as she looked up into her husband’s eyes.

“Lucilla,” he said, setting her to her feet and holding her close.

Tristan did the only thing he could do. He took charge, even in the face of the intense fear that perhaps Alex had given too much of herself this time. The guards were still on their knees when the one who had shown them sympathy from the very beginning rose to his feet said, “We can only ask that the Healer forgive us, and in return we swear our lives in allegiance to her.”

Tristan gazed at the woman who had so quickly worked her way into his heart and had triggered undying loyalty on the Guards. He was her Protector, and proud of it.

“What is your name?”

“Isaiah.”

“Then, Isaiah, your men will help make sure we make it across the moat without casualty. Do you think you can do that?”

“Yes, sir… Tristan, do you think the Healer will be okay?”

Tristan touched Alexandra’s face and kissed her forehead. Her body flushed with a pink glow and relief flooded him. “She’ll be okay. I just need to find some place with privacy.”

“I think we can manage that...”

It was a group of about ten guards, and the commotion outside was increasing. “Is there any other way out of here?” Damien asked.

“Yes,” Isaiah said, “but we’ll have to be careful. Follow us and we’ll get all of us away from the Crown’s home and reach.”

Tristan looked at Damien. “How do we know this isn’t a trap?”

“I was once a Gladiator. Veronica favored me for a time. And when she tired of me, she made me her personal guard until she found someone else to fill the position.”

“Whom did you lose?” Lucilla asked.

“My mother. My father. My sister. My brother. My wife. My children. If I could, I would butcher the bitch myself. As it is, I can only do the next best thing. Live my life to honor the woman who’s healed my life and forgiven me, her sister.”

“Then let’s get the hell out of here,” Damien said.

“On your feet,” Tristan ordered. “We don’t have much time. There’s only one way to make sure Alex is okay and it demands less of an audience than we have.”

Damien looked at Lucilla. She turned away in shame. Tristan felt sorry for them. The Seymours had left their mark on everyone. And it was up to Alexandra to make everything right. She was so young and at times so fragile he feared she might not make it.

“This way,” Isaiah said going toward the female quarters.

Tristan followed him, holding Alex against his chest as he carried her. This evoked a memory of how he had carried his wife over the threshold a lifetime ago. He wondered if he and Alexandra would ever have a home of their own or if they would even live past the moment they exposed themselves near their first taste of freedom in years.

 

Chapter Five

 

The formation the knights had formed around him and his fellow Gladiators was rather simple. How they hoped to fool anyone, let alone the heavily armed Military Line, was beyond him. And it was hard to shake the thought the guards would ever do anything other than follow the orders of Veronica and her minions. It was then he heard the uproar from clear across the prison system. All of the Gladiators had run for what they believed to be the only exit and the Military Line was focused there. Isaiah was young, but he wasn’t stupid. And it appeared even if he had been favored he felt no true allegiance to the queen or her court. They walked across the bridge without incident and without a single casualty. It was in no small part due to Alexandra’s willingness to sacrifice herself for the opportunity to free just one person. And though he was loath to admit it, it was also due in no small part to Isaiah’s belief that Alex could heal him, as she seemed to be able to heal anyone open to receive the healing powers of her touch.

As they reached the barns, Isaiah turned to him and said, “Those are the royal stallions inside there. Whether or not she is recognized by the court, she has a right to use them. Should I get them?”

“A mount for each of us. I’ll carry Alex on mine.”

“She is going to be okay isn’t she?” Lucilla asked the one question on everyone’s lips.

Alexandra’s eyes fluttered open for an instant, and a groan escaped her lips. Even though he was relieved, he couldn’t shake the feeling she desperately needed him and him alone to help her recover from such a large outpouring of power.

Alex reached up and touched his face for the briefest of moments and then slid her arms around his neck. “I hope for all of us that’s the case. Now go get the horses—they’ll be onto us soon enough and we need as big a head start as we can get.”

The guards retreated and Alex began to shiver. “Hang in there my love, we’ll be free of this place soon enough and we can nurture our own family.”

Her body flickered, like a fluorescent neon tube struggling to eke out its last bit of life before dying. He kissed the top of her head and prayed. Prayed for the group. Prayed for himself and Alex, but most of all he prayed for their child. He couldn’t allow her die. Not now. Not when they were so close to the freedom they all hungered for so desperately. Not when Alex and their child were depending on him the way the way they were. Or how he was depending on her. Her words to him,
“let me help you find your children”
were already haunting him. Would he have to sacrifice one for the other?

When the group returned with the chargers he mounted the lead stallion and took Alex from Damien’s hands, bringing her to rest in front of him. He wrapped his arms around her, took the reins, and led them to what they believed to be freedom from hell. And for any of them to survive, the Healer would have to suffer most of all.

* * * *

“Do you think they know we’re gone yet?” Damien asked.

“She’d have to be an idiot not to,” Lucilla said, riding alongside both Damien and Tristan.

“Listen to your wife and stop believing in fairy tales.”“Shuddup. Not everyone is favored by both the queen and her sister and is privy to the court’s intrigues.”

Alex gasped for air as if being strangulated. “Stop the horses!” Her face was deathly white and ice-cold. Her eyes were vacant, and Tristan suddenly felt queasy. He shook her violently. “Alex, breathe, dammit!” Her eyes glazed over and filled with horror. A moan wrenched her whole body and she began to convulse. He looked out onto the horizon and saw nothing but wasteland. “I need shelter. I need to make her well! Is there nowhere for us to be secluded?”

Damien urged his horse to take a few steps forward and circled back. Alex reached out and touched Tristan’s temple and flashes of his family being slaughtered seemed to fade. He understood that his pain was killing her. It was toxic to her. Hell, it was toxic to him, too, but it was literally, slowly poisoning her blood.

Tears slid down her cheeks and another sob twisted her body violently. If he did not find a refuge within the next few moments she would die. And he needed her alive. He needed their child alive. Without them there would be no reason for him to live.

“Follow me!” Isaiah shouted and galloped ahead.

Alexandra placed her hand to his chest and slumped backward. “No no no, you can’t do this to me. Not now,” he begged her as he held her close and careered to catch up with the group. He had no idea where he was heading. Their lives were all in the hands of an outwardly sympathetic guard who might have been leading them straight into a trap. Pressing his cheek to her temple he crushed her body to his, and tried to evoke their moments together in the cell...of how they’d come together at the time when she needed him most. And now she was at death’s door without him being able to stop what was happening to her. It was emasculating and made him feel vulnerable all over again.

He looked ahead. An old abandoned suburban neighborhood stretched out before them. How had Isaiah known it was there? How had he known the way to it?

Their steeds gathered in the center of the ghost town. All the homes looked nice from the outside. Most homes did, if they were close to government strongholds, since they were usually reserved for the military when on leave. Isaiah turned his horse around and said, “You and Alexandra should have the first pick. Take whatever you need from the other homes should you need to. All of our fates are in her hands.”

He stiffened. This last comment explained a lot. Not only was his spirit draining her, so were theirs. Forty-eight hours ago he would have called them all fools for believing in such things. Who was the fool now?

“She’s not picky. We’ll take this one. It’s closest. Isaiah,” he said, dismounting and gently sliding Alex down into his arms, “take my horse and settle him in the garage next to the house. Feed him, water him. No matter what you see or hear do not, and I repeat, do not come inside. Are we understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

He said nothing else and carried Alex inside. Her clothes were soaked in a cold sweat and she was barely breathing. He carried her upstairs in search of a shower. He knew exposure to unfiltered water was a major risk; nuclear waste was everywhere. Tainted water could make Alexandra miscarry their child. He pushed the thought from his mind. There was no shower—but there was a whirlpool bath. He undressed, and stripped Alexandra, and stepped cautiously into the water, cradling her in his arms. Tenderly, he cleansed the sweat from her body.

“Come back to me Alexandra. I need you. Our child needs you.” He could feel his toughness, his hardness, his resolve dissolving there as he embraced her limp form. If she died there was no hope for him—perhaps not for anyone. He needed her like he had never needed any other.

Her breath was labored and ragged. She leaned her head back and wearily took his hand and placed it on her breast. Her voice whispered, “
heal me”
so softly he thought he might have imagined it.

“I can’t. I’m not the Healer.”

She shuddered, and went into spasm. Her eyes began to roll, and instinctively he did the only thing he felt he ought to do. He brought his mouth to hers and kissed her deeply, possessively, passionately, as if trying to quench his thirst and breathe life into her. She broke the kiss off and inhaled a full breath. She looked at him as if she wanted more, needed more, and he wrapped his legs around her waist, pushing selfishly inside of her without foreplay. She cried out and fastened her mouth to his as if her life depended on it. He pushed her up against the wall of the whirlpool and drove into her again. He plunged his tongue inside her mouth, tasting her as she tasted him.

She grabbed his lower lip with her teeth and bit it. She arched her back and shouted, “Harder!”

The muscles in his back tensed as he worked her body, burying his face in her breasts, licking them, suckling at them, fondling them as he pounded into her.

She dug her fingernails into his skin and dragged them down his back, drawing blood. Her touch was orgasmic and intoxicating and he feared he might come too fast.

“Ride me, Tristan, ruin me. Ravish me. Fuck me.” Her words were hard and erotic as she breathed them into his ear and she twined her fingers through his blond locks.

He sank his teeth into her neck and she wrapped her legs around him and cried out his name. She gyrated and bucked against him wildly and with abandon. When he looked at her, her eyes were glowing embers of want and desire.

He slowed his strokes and kissed her ravenously—a harsh and punishing kiss. She kissed back, and when he touched her breast her nipples hardened immediately. He moved his mouth down her neck. And she started chanting—only this time, he could understand the archaic language perfectly. It became the language that lovers spoke—and these words were only for him. She was offering her soul to him and the only way to accept it was to always protect her heart, and worship her body, and her body alone.

And when she came this time, he thrust harder than he ever had, and when he came he knew that if they survived there would be more than one child because he would find it impossible to keep his hands off her.

Their bodies slowed until they came to rest, his gaze on hers. “Don’t ever scare me like that again.”

“There will come a day when I die.”

“Enough!”

“No, you have to hear me out. And if it is sooner rather than later, it will be up to you to care for the children.”

“And if I die first?”

“I’m afraid my fate is directly connected to yours. If you die first, I fear for the planet’s future.”

He held her close and her abdomen lit up. He could see that two eggs were dividing now. She looked up and smiled.

“A son and a daughter.”

He touched her face. For a brief moment, he allowed himself to be happy. “I will protect you all.”

She clung to him and ran her tongue over his chest. “You saved my life. It is I who will protect you.”

He kissed her tenderly as he trailed her neck with kisses, and when they made love this time, it was calmly and with the gentleness born of inner pace and satiety.

* * * *

It seemed like he was doing everything for the time first all over again. He stood at the window looking at the devastation. It seemed as if he could keep everyone else out of their lives, everything would be right again. She stirred and sighed, and he turned around and smiled at her. Never had any woman looked so beautiful.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done to me?” he asked, sitting down next to her as she sat up.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done to me?” she repeated, and smiled.

He tucked a lock of her long dark hair behind her ear and laid his hand to her stomach; it glowed at his touch. “I still can’t believe it,” he whispered. He gazed down at her and asked, “Do you know why you’re like this? Did it happen because of the fallout?”

“No, I was born this way. And for a long time my mother was able to hide it. But when I found her and tried to resuscitate her, my secret was out. Almost instantly my father tried to use it to his advantage. But when I refused…that was…when the beatings began.”