week's episode of CAPTIVE, Addy asked Max if he had a plan to free them from captivity or was he planning on getting lucky? Max stripped off his clothes, claiming he hoped to get lucky.
An abducted cop and a gladiator prisoner must learn to trust each other with their lives…and their hearts…to escape their alien captors.
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Like her father’s favorite Yankee used to say, It’s déjà vu all over again.
Max stood before her, naked as the day they met and with no shame. Of course, with a body like his, he had nothing to be ashamed of. Her cheeks flamed. A dry lump formed in her throat.
Mischief gleamed in his eyes as he sauntered toward her, tying his shirt and pants together.
“What’s that for?” She didn’t realize she backed into the bars until her shoulder blades hit them.
“Rope.” He jerked the knot tight. “Relax.”
Pressing her back against the bars, she closed her eyes and held her breath, waiting for his touch. Her flesh tingled in anticipation.
When nothing happened, she opened them to see Max crouched down, fishing for their backpacks with his rope made of clothes.
“You jerk.” She pushed him hard with both hands. He fell on his hip, laughing at her expense.
If she were honest, she’d admit to enjoying the sound of laughter again, especially Max’s when it rumbled from deep inside his chest, but embarrassment overshadowed joy. She took her remaining dignity and sat with Noah as Max reeled in the clothes and threw it back out again.
He’d been a different man after her reawakening. He hadn’t been this talkative or playful since the breeding box. He even called her by name now.
What had changed him? The fact that they weren’t in immediate danger? Noah’s birth? Her death?
That was still one concept she couldn’t wrap her brain around. She wasn’t sure she had ever fully believed Duncan when he’d explained how she had drowned. Or Max when he’d told her she had died the day after giving birth.
How can you believe something when you don’t remember it? Shouldn’t she have seen a white light, or floated over her body, or been greeted by angels or something? As far as she knew, she had awakened from a deep sleep, with a hangover.
Would she ever comprehend it? Did it matter? She was alive.
Her gladiator’s perfect naked body made her nerve endings sizzle. Thoughts of their kiss set her lips tingling and heart aflutter. She longed to touch him, to—
“Hurry up, Addy.” He peered over his shoulder. “I need them.”
Need them? What was he talking about? “Need what?”
“No way.” She drew her legs up. “I’m not wearing any underwear.”
“And I’m not wearing anything, as you can plainly see.”
Heat scorched her face. Yes, she could plainly see. “But, but—”
“Hell, Addy, take off your pants, or I’ll take them off for you.” Judging from the determination in his eyes, he’d get what he wanted one way or another.
She turned away and quickly stripped them off, grateful the long shirt covered all the necessary parts. When she turned back to him, there was no mistaking his body’s response.
She swallowed then tossed him the pants.
“Down, boy. There’s no time for that now.” He went to work wadding her pants into a ball on the end of his makeshift rope.
The subaquatic sped along the coastline, keeping about a mile away from the shore.
Again, Max swung his clothes rope onto the pile, hitting the top of her pack. He gave it a little tug. The wadded clothing fell into the loop of his baldric. With her pants as a heavier anchor, he pulled the belt free from the pile.
“Yes,” she whispered. Her heart raced in fear of getting caught and in anticipation of retrieving the sword. It had nothing whatsoever to do with crouching next to Max’s naked body.
Over and over, Max tossed the line out and each time he managed to slide the baldric a tiny bit closer before the pants popped out and he reeled it in for another cast. Closer and closer the sword belt slid until Max reached through the bars and grabbed it.
“You did it!”
He wrapped an arm around her neck and pulled her to him, claiming his victory kiss.
She obliged. Her only disappointment was that it ended too soon.
Max didn’t bother getting dressed but went straight to work using his gladimort to saw the base of a bar. Within seconds white shavings that reminded her of Parmesan cheese piled on the cage floor. He brushed them toward Addy. “Hide these.”
She glanced around the empty cage. Where the heck could she hide them?
Addy unknotted their clothes, crumpled Max’s shirt into a little nest next to where he was working, and retrieved Noah. The baby’s mouth moved, but he remained asleep as she carefully placed him in his new bed. Then she began sweeping the shavings underneath the shirt. As fast as Max made more, Addy hid the evidence. If the Hyboreans came in, at least the shavings wouldn’t give them away.
“Where can I hide the sword belt?” she asked.
“I don’t suppose it would fit under Noah?”
“Then throw it back on the pile of our things.”
She heaved the belt onto the pile at the same instant the watercraft emerged onto the land. Bright light penetrated the room. Busy hiding evidence, she hadn’t noticed the vessel changed direction and headed for a rocky alcove. The vehicle ascended from the ocean and drove over jagged rocks, yet the ride was as smooth as it had been in the water. Apparently, the subaquatic had hovercraft capability.
After they came to a stop, two Hyboreans walked around to the front of the vehicle.
Addy grabbed Max’s arm. “Hide the sword.”
“They can’t see in.”
“Are you sure?”
“If they could see me, they would’ve been in here by now.”
Frightening clicks and bangs echoed through the room. What the heck were the aliens doing out there?
The only thing keeping her sane was the speedy rhythmic sound of Max’s sawing. Finally, the sword broke through the bar.
Max paused long enough to rotate his wrist before sawing about three feet up the same bar. Shavings floated and fluttered down, making a bigger mess. Addy cupped her hands, trying to catch as much as she could.
She kept an eye out for the Hyboreans, but she didn’t see them, hear them, or sense them. Where had they gone? What were they doing? Did she care? Their absence gave Max time. And time was what they needed most right now.
“That should about do it,” Max said when the blade was nearly through. A sliver was all that held the bar in place. “When the opportunity presents itself, I’ll remove the bar.” He moved on to the next one. Perspiration glistened on his bare back and at his temples as he worked hard sawing their way to freedom.
The two Hyboreans returned to the vehicle, one carrying a limp human body. “It’s the poachers.”
Max slid the gladimort’s hilt under Noah’s bed, covered the blade with a pant leg, and then sat on top of it before pulling Addy onto his lap. His ferocious mouth covered hers, absorbing her yelp.
The outside door to the room sublimated.
Max tightened his grip, holding her head to him as he slid his other hand up her thigh, over her butt, and under her shirt. His fingers brushed the side of her breast. Goose bumps rippled across quivering flesh.
There came shuffling above and than a thud from the body dropped inside. The cage door crackled, but the Hyborean didn’t leave. She sensed him watching them, enjoying them, and snickering in blatant approval.
Leave already, you dirty, voyeuristic bastard.
Though Max leaned against the bars concealing their vandalism, there was a chance the poacher would notice and stop their escape attempt, and then punish them.
She dug her fingers into Max’s shoulders, damp with perspiration. As if he had sensed her panic, he deepened the kiss, hijacking her fear as she succumbed to his feral power. She thought of nothing save his exploring hands, his musky heat. His erection beneath her.
Until he pushed her away.
She blinked. Looked around. The Hyborean was gone. Humiliated and used, Addy slapped Max’s satisfied face.
He rubbed his jaw, looking pleased rather than angry. “A simple thank you would have done.”
She snatched her pants and jumped to her feet to put them on. “Thank you for what? Giving the alien a peep show?”
“I was naked and sweating. I didn’t want him to get suspicious.” He donned his own pants and swaggered toward her with hungry eyes. “Besides, you enjoyed it.”
“So did I,” came an unfamiliar voice.
Addy spun around and backed into Max’s chest. His arm protectively encircled her waist. “Been awake long?”
“Long enough,” the stranger said. He sat up against the bars, eyeing Max up and down with a calculating stare. His long red beard and even longer Viking hair contrasted against his black-and-white uniform. His wrinkled and weathered, street-tough face reminded Addy of a bulldog, though she doubted his temperament matched the friendly canine’s. The man emanated bad news.
“You a refugee?” Max asked.
“You know a man named Kedric?”
The man’s eyes hardened. “Yeah, I know him. What’s it to you?”
“Is he in the refuge?”
“Yeah, he’s in the refuge, all right,” the man sneered. “He’s the rat bastard who suspended me.”
Addy turned to Max for an explanation, but he grabbed her wrist, pulling her behind his shoulder without taking his eyes from the stranger. Whatever suspended meant, it wasn’t good.
The man snickered. “You think you can protect her? You failed when the poachers came.”
“Lucky for me you’re not a poacher.”
“Why didn’t Red Beard protect himself from the poachers?” she whispered.
Red Beard stood and turned loathing eyes on Addy. He probably didn’t care for his nickname. Oh well.
He pointed to Max. “Because his pal Kedric bound my arms and legs and strung me up a tree.”
She didn’t mean to gasp, but it was too late. Max tightened his grip on her wrist, warning her to play it cool. “What’d you do to deserve Kedric’s wrath?”
“Murder.” There was no hesitation or hint of remorse. In fact, Red Beard seemed proud of himself.
Max moved to stand between Red Beard and Noah, his gaze never leaving the stranger. They stared each other up and down, neither one speaking a word, neither one looking away, neither one backing down from his aggressive posture.
The tension in the cage grew thick as summer humidity. Her heart thumped. She ached to pick up Noah but feared the slightest movement would provoke Red Beard to attack. He’d probably think she was after the sword and not her baby.
Frozen in place, she waited for someone to strike. No one did. Red Beard was the first to look away. He glanced down at the foodstuffs the Hyboreans must have put in the cage while she and Max were making out.
Red Beard’s gaze shot to Max. With a slow, sly smile, he raked the produce into a pile with his foot.
When was the last time she ate? Her stomach growled. Loudly.
“Hungry?” the man asked Max. “Perhaps we can make a trade.”
Oh, no, here we go again. Why was it every man on this planet wanted sex with her? At least this time she knew Max wouldn’t consider it.
“I’ll give you this.” Red Beard picked up a green apple, swiveling it in his outstretched hand. “For that.” He pointed in Noah’s direction.
She followed his finger to see the blade of Max’s sword. Duh. Of course he’d want the weapon.
“No,” Max said without looking.
Red Beard bit into the crunchy flesh. Juice ran down his whiskered chin as he chewed with disgusting deliberateness. He wiped a sleeve across his lips. “Mmm, good eats.”
Her stomach rumbled again.
“Hungry, girly?” He taunted her with his half-eaten Hyborean fruit.
She didn’t answer.
“I suggest you share that food.” Max spoke in a sinister gladiator voice so cool that it sent shivers up her spine.
“Why don’t you come take it?”
I liked catching a glimpse of Max's playful side, but now that a potential threat has been introduced into the cage, "gladiator" Max has returned. Will Max fight the newcomer for the food? Find out next week in Chapter 44 or read the full story now at your favorite retailers.