Wednesday, October 26, 2022

CAPTIVE (The Survival Race, book 1) - CHAPTER 44

Before we get to last week's recap, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some personal writing news. I'm thrilled to announce that my small-town contemporary romance WILDE IN LOVE is a finalist in the NJ Romance Writers' Golden Leaf Contest. Woot! 

Okay...now back to our regularly scheduled blog post...

In last week's episode, a new captive had been introduced into Max and Addy's cage. How will they handle this murderer who refuses to share the food the aliens provided?

An abducted cop and a gladiator prisoner must learn to trust each other with their lives…and their hearts…to escape their alien captors.    

 

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  Ch22  Chs23&24  Chs25&26  Ch27  Ch28  Ch29  Ch 30  Chs31&32  Chs33&34  Ch35  Ch36  Ch37  Ch38  Chs39&40  Chs41&42  Ch43

 

CAPTIVE

Chapter Forty-Four


“Stand down, man. I’m an alpha gladiator.”

Red Beard spit a seed, hitting Max’s neck. He refused to acknowledge it outwardly, though the beast within stirred. He could almost feel it pacing the cage he’d locked it in, waiting to be unleashed. “Don’t make me hurt you. This is your last chance to hand over—”

Red Beard charged. Max lunged, closing the distance. Addy snatched Noah and ran to a small open space away from the blows they exchanged.

“Stop! Stop it!”

Was she kidding? There’d be no stopping until he defeated Red Beard. All her yelling did was make the kid cry harder.

Max struck high and low, creating an opening for a takedown. Red Beard fell hard, and they rolled. On his back, Max took a grappling position from the bottom. Though Red Beard ground his forearm into Max’s throat, the guy didn’t have enough leverage to choke him out. He wrapped his legs around Red Beard’s and pushed them apart, taking the guy’s base away. Max controlled this fight, no question.

In his peripheral vision, Addy bounded toward them with the sword in both hands. Noah cried in a corner, out of harm’s way. She pointed the blade at Red Beard’s face. “Break it up. Now.”

“No, Addy,” Max wheezed too late.

A black rod jabbed into her back. She cried out and dropped the sword before collapsing. He’d murder that damn poacher for hurting her, but there was no time to act on his anger. An electric current zapped through his nerve endings. His muscles spasmed.

The Hyborean alternately shocked him and Red Beard until they separated. Then came a long, paralyzing zap that allowed the Hyborean to safely reach a furry arm into the cage and confiscate the sword.

All he could do was watch the poacher carry from the room their only means of escape.

The devastation and hopelessness in Addy’s eyes crushed him. She was the first to regain motor control and took the opportunity to collect their share of the food. His muscles fired again about the same time as Red Beard’s.

Red Beard crawled to his side of the cage. “You let them take the weapon. You brainless bitch.”

“Shut the hell up. She didn’t know.” There hadn’t been time to explain it to her. He picked up Noah and cradled the baby in his arms. A few minutes of rocking would stop the crying.

“What didn’t I know?”

Red Beard wiped sweat from his face. “That you were supposed to take the food, but leave the weapon hidden. How stupid are you?”

I’m stupid? If you shared the food in the first place, there wouldn’t have been any fight to attract the poachers. If anyone is stupid in here, it’s you, you...red-bearded bastard!”

Max snickered. She was a feisty woman, but she needed to work on her insults.

“Besides, if you knew you couldn’t protect your horde, why bother fighting?”

In an attempt to settle her down, Max stroked her arm. She shrugged him off. It took two to fight. No doubt, she thought he was as stupid as Red Beard for drawing the poacher’s attention. She had much to learn about this barbaric world. Too bad he had to teach her about it instead of protect her from it. “It was never about the food or the sword, Addy.”

“Then what was it about?”

“Dominance.”

“What!” It wasn’t a question. It was more like her are you freaking kidding me shout. Her teetering armload of fruit nearly spilled, but she managed to rebalance it.

“If one male shows his aggression and the other backs down, the hierarchy is established. If no one backs down, they have to fight.”

“Why?”

“How else would they determine the alpha?”

“Are you two dense? We’re stuck in a freaking cage. Who cares who the alpha male is?”

“Everyone in here should care. It could determine who gets food, who gets killed, and who gets”—he glanced at her breasts—“other things.”

“Why can’t you both promise to share the food, not kill one another, and leave other things alone?”

“Addy, two beasts can vow not to eat each other, but will they keep that promise when they’re starving? This isn’t a world of gentlemen and assurances. This is a world of animals and survival.”

“Well, thanks to you two animals, there won’t be survival for any of us. How are we going to escape now?” She dropped all but one piece of fruit at his feet, took Noah out of his arms, and then retreated to an empty corner away from both Red Beard and him to change the baby. She struggled with the diapers the Hyboreans left by the toilet. He refrained from helping. She needed time to cool off.

The woman would never get used to this planet. Honestly, he was glad. Addy should make deals and compromises and believe people could work together for the common good. She shouldn’t have to assess every situation from a survival standpoint. It would strip away her humanity. Witnessing that atrocity would kill him.

An entire wall of the room surrounding their cage sublimated. A motor hummed, and the floor vibrated beneath his bare feet as the cage backed out of the subaquatic through the gaseous door.

It appeared that they’d been on a hovercraft vehicle similar to a pickup truck. The Hyboreans drove in the cab behind the solid wall, and the cage comprised the truck’s bed.

There wasn’t a road per se, but the craft seemed to follow some sort of path, weaving among trees the size of giant sequoias and hovering over vegetation, downed logs, and boulders. Regardless of what was beneath the vehicle, the ride remained smooth.

The forest’s woody fragrance filled his senses. The air tasted of fresh earth after a storm. Funny how he’d remembered that after fifteen years. Addy closed her eyes and turned her face skyward. Did she smell it, too? Did the beams of summer sun peeking through the canopy remind her of home?

Did it remind her of all she’d lost?

As the hours passed, they remained silent in their own corners of the cage. The vehicle stopped occasionally. Each time, the poachers got out, disappeared into the forest, and returned empty-handed.

Night fell. Cool air blanketed him. Addy snuggled Noah closer to her body. His little pink face seemed content, but she didn’t. She shivered, and her tired, droopy eyes kept closing and opening wide as if forcing herself to stay awake. She feared falling asleep. Didn’t she trust him to protect her from Red Beard?

He moved next to her, wrapped an arm around her, and pulled her cold little body close to him. Her shivering stopped. Without a word, she rested her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes.

 

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Addy may be angry with Max, but snuggling against him proves her trust in him. I love how as the temperature heats up on their journey, so do their hearts. But will they ever get out of the cage and away from the poachers? Find out next week Chapter 45 or read the full story now at your favorite retailers.

K.M. Fawcett
Romance with a rebel heart  

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