ShadowedBy: Evangeline Anderson
“You can’t do this to me.”
The harsh, grating voice took Saber by surprise as he stepped in the sliding metal door of his suite. He spun around to see who was speaking and, more importantly, who was in his home without his permission. The suite he and Lissa shared in the Kindred Mother Ship had been locked when he came in—he would swear to that. So how…? And then he saw him.
A hooded figure crouched in the far corner of the living area, his face hidden in shadows.
Saber knew it was a male—there was no question about that. The figure was half a head taller than he was, which was saying something since no Kindred warrior was under six foot six.
“You can’t…fucking…do this to me,” the voice snarled again.
“Who are you?” Saber demanded, taking a step toward the huge, crouching figure. “And what are you doing in my home?” He was glad that Lissa was out with Kat, planning the redheaded Earth girl’s joining ceremony. If he’d had any reason to think she was here with this strange figure and in any kind of danger…
“Saber? Is that you?” Lissa’s light, feminine voice drifted from the back of the suite, and Saber felt the short hairs on the back of his neck rise. What was she doing back? And what had been done to her in his absence?
“Lissa,” he sent through their link as he circled carefully closer to the hooded invader. “Stay where you are. Don’t come up here!”
“Who are you?” he barked aloud at the strange male, since the invader still hadn’t answered. “Goddess damn it, if you’ve touched my female—”
“Don’t worry, old friend. Lissa is perfectly safe.”
The invader raised his head, and at last, Saber was able to catch a glimpse into the shadowy confines of his hood. Pure silver eyes, like melted starlight, flashed at him and Saber felt the knot of protective tension and rage that had been building inside him suddenly melt.
“Reddix?” His voice was thick with relief. “Is that you?”
“Who else would it be?” Reddix growled. “Are you expecting another old friend you screwed over to show up this evening?”
“But what are you doing here? I wasn’t expecting you for at least another week.”
“I came early. Couldn’t wait to see you and try to talk you out of this madness.”
“Watch what you say, Brother.” Saber heard the growl enter his own voice and did nothing to try and stop it. “Loving Lissa and choosing to spend my life with her is the sanest move I’ve ever made, and I won’t hear anyone say otherwise—not even you.”
Reddix made a noise at the back of his throat as he rose from his crouching position and came into the light.
“Then you won’t want to hear what your mother has to say about it.” He unrolled a small vid screen and thrust it at Saber. “Here. She made me swear by the Goddess to be sure you watched her message.”
Saber pushed the screen away before the recording could start playing and sank down onto the couch.
“I don’t care what you or she or anyone else has to say, my mind is made up.”
Reddix sat down beside him, on the opposite side of the large leather couch.
“So you’re really going to do this? You’re going to give up everything, your home, your future, your position as the Clan Overlord—all for a female?” His gravelly voice was incredulous.
“I’m afraid so.” Saber sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I know it’s hard for you to comprehend, Reddix, but for the right female, it’s worth it, and Lissa is the right one for me. Try to understand—I’ve loved her from the moment I saw her.”
“By the laws of our people, she’s your sister,” Reddix pointed out.
“I know.” Saber shook his head. “I know how wrong this seems to you—to everyone back home. But there is no blood tie between us, and for some reason, the kinship compounds didn’t take for either Lissa or me. So we’re not repelled by each other as any other male and female of our clan would be if they tried to be together.”
“I’m not judging you,” Reddix said heavily. “I’m in no position to judge. I’m just saying.”
“I know. And I’m just saying that the moment I saw Lissa’s face, so many years ago, I knew she was the one for me—the only one.” He put a hand on his friend’s broad shoulder. “You’ll understand when you find the one female for you.”
Reddix shook off his hand. “Right, just find a female—that’s the answer to everything. Except it won’t do me a damn bit of good unless she can somehow cure my disease.”
“Ah, yes…that.” Saber coughed, feeling stupid. How could he have been so insensitive as to talk about love and bonding with a female to one with his friend’s condition?
“Yeah, that.” Reddix’s deep, rasping voice was heavy with sarcasm. “That little thing that makes having a female impossible. That minor detail which has kept me hiding in the shadows half my life.”
“You don’t have to hide with me—you can take off the hood,” Saber said quietly, indicating his friend’s shadowed face. “I’ve seen you before, you know.”
“I’m keeping it on.” Reddix’s eyes flashed silver from the depths of the hood. “You want to know the truth, I almost never take it off now, not even at home.”
Saber frowned. “But surely at home, where everyone is used to seeing you…”
“It’s getting worse.” Reddix got up abruptly and began pacing, his big body moving smoothly with animalistic grace.
“You mean your RTS?” Saber shook his head. “I didn’t know it could get worse.”
“Well, apparently, it can,” Reddix snapped. “A hell of a lot worse.”
RTS was short for Reverse Touch Syndrome, a rare disease that affected only Touch Kindred males and only one in a thousand at that. The sufferers were almost all from the Star Clan, which Reddix’s father had been. But there had never been any RTS in his family before Reddix had been diagnosed with it not long after they had come to manhood together.
Since they had grown up in the same town, Saber could remember his friend before he had been afflicted with the dreaded disease. Reddix had been so happy when he was younger—outgoing and funny with a dry sense of humor. He had been teased some for his beautiful features—Star Clan members were notoriously lovely, and Reddix was no exception. Still, he took the teasing good-naturedly and fit in well with the group of young males they ran with, even though he looked different from the rest of them.