Alexandru's Kiss (Magic, New Mexico #3)(9)

By: S. E. Smith

His body jerked when he tried to lift a hand to run it over his face. Tugging at his hands, he realized that he couldn’t move them – well, he could move them, but not very far. They were tied behind his back. Why in the hell would Hades need to tie his hands?

“Kala ta may lei. U’tama ke j’lee?”

“What?…. What did you say?” Alexandru asked, struggling to sit up.

“Kala ta may lei,” Who are you? Ka’ya demanded.

A string of words danced through his mind. They moved faster than he could grasp them. The strange language she spoke sifted into his brain, flowing until they formed into a pattern he understood. The moment the words became clear, his stomach rebelled at the intense pressure that built in his brain until he knew he was going to lose whatever contents he had in his stomach.

Alexandru slumped forward at an awkward angle. He really wished his hands were free. It would make what he felt like doing next a lot easier. He pushed up until he was on his knees. Struggling to stand, he realized he wasn’t going to make it. The woman must have realized what was about to happen because she moved with a speed that surprised him. Grabbing him from behind, she steadied him when he turned and stuck his head out from under the thin sheet she had erected as a barrier against the rain.

Alexandru’s stomach heaved in protest, but the cold rain quickly calmed it. The icy drops coated his hair and ran down over the throbbing knot on his temple. Once again he wished his hands were free.

“Come back inside before you get completely drenched. You are no good to me sick or dead,” the woman stated, pulling him backward.

“Where… Where am I? Why… Why can’t I…? Why are my hands tied?” Alexandru choked out.

The woman pulled him backwards away from the sheet and raging storm until she could prop him against the hard rock wall of her makeshift shelter. Alexandru tilted his head back against the rock and closed his eyes as the last of the nausea faded. Droplets of cold water ran down his face from his hair. He wanted to shake them free, but seriously doubted his brain would survive the movement.

“You are in my shelter. You are my prisoner,” the woman stated, moving back to the other side of the fire and sitting down.

Alexandru slowly lowered his head to stare back at her. In the dim light of the fire, he could see the blue in her hair shimmer. She stared back at him with intense green eyes. He swore if he had to die, he could do so willingly in the cool, green depths. Shocked by his thoughts, he frowned.

“What the hell are you talking about? Prisoner? I haven’t broken any laws – well, except for trying…,” Alexandru’s voice faded and the frown deepened. “Where am I?” he asked in a suddenly quiet, cautious voice.

“The forest of Vail,” the woman replied.

“Vail, as in…?” Alexandru started to ask before his voiced died again.

“As in what?” the woman responded.

Alexandru shook his head. Pain splintered through it, but he forced it aside. Vail…. He’d heard the name before but he couldn’t remember where. His gaze moved back to the huge animals lying near the woman.

“What are those… animals called?” he asked.

The woman glanced at the massive beast beside her. Her hand rose and she stroked it behind the ear. A low rumbling sound escaped the creature.

“They are tusked wolfhounds. It is best not to enter the forest if you have no knowledge of them. They can rip your throat out before you even know they have done it,” she said.

Alexandru’s eyes locked with the woman’s. Something was wrong – very, very wrong. Sitting forward, he stared unblinkingly back at her.

“What is your name?” he demanded in a low voice.

She returned his stare with a more cautious one. He wanted to force his body to relax, but the panic beginning to darken the edges of his vision made that impossible. He needed to know who she was. He needed to know where he was. He needed… to know what in the hell was going on!

“I am Ka’ya Stargazer. I am called the Huntress,” she responded, lifting her chin.

“Ka’ya…. I am….” The name danced on the tip of his tongue. An image flashed through his mind. The name was being screamed at him. “Alexandru… My name is Alexandru.”

The pain in his temple grew as he choked out his name. The brief picture of a large beast flashed through his mind. That beast was similar in some ways, but also different in many ways from the three lying next to the woman.

“Alexandru… Alexandru….”

His head began to dip again. He tried to force it up when he heard Ka’ya calling his name, but it was impossible. He felt his body sliding to the side. Surprise washed through him when warm hands caught him and gently lowered him to the ground.