Last week's episode ended with Max and Addy getting a chance to rest, recover, and take a much needed
shower...together. ;) This week sees them on their journey again. But what does Max have up his sleeve?
An abducted cop and a gladiator prisoner must learn to
trust each other with their lives…and their hearts…to escape their alien
Catch up reading on CAPTIVE here for free: Chapter 1 Ch2 Ch3 Ch4 Ch5 Ch6 Ch7 Ch8 Ch 9 Chs10&11 Ch12 Ch13 Ch14 Ch15 Ch16 Ch17 Ch18 Ch19 Ch20 Ch21
Snow stormed through the open louvers where Addy crouched in wait
Lucky—his body a dark contrast to the white frenzy—scouted his
frozen backyard for Hyboreans. Incessant wind launched a powdery top layer into
the sky, giving the appearance of a blizzard starting from the ground and
storming upward. Whipping snow would camouflage the escape, but poor visibility
meant a greater chance of getting lost.
Garbage vessels clanked. Steam hissed through the pipes. Neither
drowned out the jackhammering of her heart.
“On your mark,” Max whispered.
She donned her goggles.
Every motor neuron waited to fire upon the lookout’s signal.
She ducked through the slats to the outside and raced through
calf-deep snow behind Max. As he passed Lucky, Max thrust the three bullets
into the older man’s hand.
“Good luck you two.” His words faded on the storm.
Icy nettles stung her cheeks, and arctic air chilled her lungs.
Sprinting on Max’s heels, she quieted her breathing—inhale...stride, stride,
stride...exhale...stride, stride, stride—and listened. Not for the breaths or
footfalls of other competitors or even her coach’s voice in the crowd. This
time she listened for the sound of a Hyborean vehicle. She listened for
telepathic anger or surprise, indicating they’ve been spotted. She listened for
the hounds she imagined were chasing them. And for the crack of a rifle.
She heard nothing. Sensed nothing. Saw nothing over her shoulder.
The blizzard had erased Lucky and the incinerator plant. With each step,
Hyborean civilization fell behind, and her heart grew lighter and her feet
It felt great to be outside. Really outside. In the elements. Not
some artificial climate-controlled Yard. The freedom of it overwhelmed her, and
she barely contained the urge to whoop with joy.
The sprint slowed to a run. The run slowed to a jog. The jog
slowed to a comfortable hiking pace, but after five hours, sore quads screamed
for a rest. The exercise didn’t seem to strain Max. He wasn’t even breathing
He hadn’t spoken since leaving the incinerator building; not that
she’d be able to hear him above the howling wind. He hadn’t looked back either.
Would he realize it if she fell behind?
“How do you know where we’re going?” She said when the wind died
down. “Everything looks the same.”
“Just keep the peak of the Ice Mountains southeast of you.”
“There.” He pointed somewhere between ten and eleven o’clock. “In
Narrowing her eyes didn’t help. Visibility was limited to snow and
loose hair whipping across her goggles. “I don’t see anything.”
“Look at the horizon. See how it’s gray compared to the ground and
sky? That’s the Ice Mountains.”
When the wind died down again, she concentrated on the horizon.
Were mountains there? Perhaps training in wintry conditions had improved Max’s
focus. Or perhaps it was like those hidden 3-D pictures in the mall, where if you
stared long enough, your eyes crossed and—boom—the image appeared. In
this case, staring didn’t help. She blinked before her eyeballs froze open. “I
see gray haze. Are you sure it’s a mountain?”
“You leave your glasses on Earth?”
“My vision is twenty-twenty.”
Max stopped, and she nearly slammed into his shoulder. He studied
her. “You really can’t see the Ice Mountains?”
She shook her head, grateful to rest her legs.
“Huh.” He shrugged and started hiking again.
Her legs cramped. Damn. She shouldn’t have stopped. Unable to
resume her pace, Max pulled ahead. There was no way she’d let him leave her
behind in this frozen wilderness. This was one race she could not lose. Pumping
her arms until her legs caught the faster rhythm, she jogged to catch up and
drafted off his shoulder again.
Who would’ve thought the woman would have kept pace with him? When
he had sprinted out of the cooling vent at top speed, he figured he’d lose her
quickly through the snow and ice. She should have been too slow, too tired, and
too scared to continue. She should’ve turned back to the incinerator plant,
where she’d have no trouble handling herself with Lucky. She’d be safe
there...as long as her master didn’t find her.
If he hadn’t known she was an athlete from the first time he’d
caressed her firm, muscular body, he should’ve known it when those shapely legs
powered her climb in HuBReC’s ductwork. He should’ve known her strength
wouldn’t fatigue easily when she clung to him with that death grip in the
Who the hell was he kidding? He knew. In fact, he had counted on
It wasn’t enough to be an athlete, though. Athletic ability alone
wouldn’t deliver anyone to freedom. The perils of this journey required courage
It required a fighter.
Whether due to stupidity or guts, she had stood her ground with
both him and Regan. Her fighting and writhing beneath him in the breeding box
had been admirable yet infuriating. His chest tightened as esteem and ire engaged
his heartstrings in a tug-of-war.
She had wanted him. He’d been with enough females to know when
their bodies answered his. But she wouldn’t give in. Not even under the
influence of the aphrodisiac fire. She knew her self-worth. She wasn’t an
animal and refused to be treated like one. Weaker physically, she had stood
strong on her belief. He could have overpowered her and taken her, yet his
brute strength or her fear didn’t shake her principles.
She definitely had courage.
Once upon a time, he did, too. But that was a lifetime ago. Hell,
more like eight lifetimes. Memories long locked away scratched at freedom. No
point in letting them out and reliving the ache of all he lost. He wasn’t a man
anymore. He was a beast. That truth tasted bitter in his mouth. He turned his
head and spit.
Still, walking five hours through arctic winds was no easy task.
She should have fatigued a long time ago. He had waited for her pleas for a
break, but she kept quiet. Each time she fell back, her breathing changed as
she caught up again and used him to block the wind.
The woman had grit.
The rhythm of her footfalls changed again. Was she limping? She
was definitely sucking in air too fast. He slowed. When she didn’t catch up
this time, he stopped. “What happened?”
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
Liar. By her hunched shoulders and her
deliberate long, deep breaths, he knew she had cramped up. His gaze searched
the desolate terrain. “We’ll rest ten minutes.”
“I’ll hike my ten.” She passed him, her hand stroking her abdomen.
A smile cracked his chapped lips as esteem wrenched his
heartstrings, ending the tug-of-war. The woman’s fighting spirit proved
Too bad he’d have to leave her at the ice caves.
Oh no! Find out if Max leaves Addy at the ice caves in next week's episode Chs23&24 or read the full
story now at
your favorite retailers.
Romance with a rebel