Where to begin. One would think at the beginning, but which one? No need to go back to the original beginning where she Tanis and Caius first met. Nothing there would help them in this situation, and they did not have that kind of time.
Brynn was with her when Colin first found her, and as Tanis had reminded her, he knew those memories almost as well as if they were his own. Kara saw no need to relive the horrors of what was done to her in a bid to break her to his will, or what she had done with Anthony to keep her sanity. How she had allowed herself to fall into the trap that was her curse. To allow another’s emotions become her own. She was not proud of what she had done, and she did not want to risk alienating Brynn by showing him the truth of those years she had been taken from him. He was struggling enough with what his imagination was conjuring to fill in the empty spaces between what she had already told him.
Her mother and Chris had said that Aden was a vital part of what was to come. That they must all remember. The question was, remember what? Maybe the best place to start, then, was when she had met Aden for the first time. Kara shied away from that idea. She had not been in a good place when Aden found her. Broken in spirit, bruised in body, addicted to the desire, the false peace Anthony brought her, Kara was a shell of herself. A wanton creature who would do anything to escape the horrors Colin inflicted upon her. There was also the danger of falling into those memories, back into the addiction. With Anthony so near, that was not what Kara wanted to chance.
I will be with you, Aden’s voice breathed through her mind. I will not allow you to become lost to those memories. Remember, I am your new addiction, he teased.
“What’s so funny?” Tanis asked when a giggle escaped Kara’s lips.
“Nothing,” she smirked. Aden had been careful to keep his thoughts only for her. Smart boy.
“Hmmm,” Tanis murmured, not believing her for a second. Louder, so it could be heard through the open window. “Out of her head, dark one.” A nickname Tanis used for Aden because he knew it irked the male. “We don’t have time for your games.”
“No idea what you are talking about,” Aden’s innocent voice floated through the window from outside.
“What’s going on?” Brynn asked looking from Tanis to Kara, who was still sitting back in her chair, eyes closed. Although she could not quite keep her lips from twitching upwards. Something was amusing her, and it seemed he and Tanis were not invited in on the joke.
“Are we through?” Tanis asked.
“Yes,” Kara answered quickly, settling more into her chair. With a deep sigh, she relaxed her body and her mind. Opening it up to those who were nearest. Once the link between them was solidified, she sifted through her memories until she came to the one she wanted. Praying that Tanis and Brynn would not judge her too harshly, she allowed the memory to play….
* * *
“Kara! Kara! Wake up!” a voice hissed in her ear.
Groaning in protest, Kara rolled over in her bed away from the annoying snake. That alone should have told her something was not quite right. They were on a spaceship somewhere deep in space. There were no snakes. Unless they happened upon some strange creature that resembled a snake that they had never heard of. The gods knew that had happened once or twice.
“Kara!” it called more urgently.
The lights blared to life. What the hell! Crying out in protest, Kara threw her blankets over her head and snuggled in deeper under them. Blessed darkness. Why was someone trying to wake her up so early? Yesterday, after she had collapsed during the interrogation of a spy they had found among the command deck crew, Colin had promised her extra sleep today. The communications officer that had been with them since Kara had been recaptured six years ago seemed harmless enough. He had blended in seamlessly with the crew, making friends easily. A perfect undercover position for someone who needed to get messages out to his employers without being discovered.
How he was finally caught Kara did not know. What she did know as his mind had been protected by someone far more powerful than she was. When she had collapsed from sheer exhaustion, only Anthony’s interference, and strangely the spies, had kept Colin from dragging her to her feet and forcing her to continue. She should have known Colin would not keep his word. He never did when it came to her. She was a tool to use, or abuse, at his digression. Her wellbeing was not of importance.
The covers she hid under were suddenly yanked off her, exposing her nude body to the cold room and her sensitive eyes to the blaring lights. Although her room was spacious and comfortable, heat was not a luxury Colin afforded her. The room was not freezing, only warm enough to keep the cold of space at bay.
“Ayeee!” she cried out grabbing for the missing blankets and the warmth they provided.
“Kara! Get up!” the voice she now recognized as Anthony’s snapped.
Something soft smacked her in the face. Catching them in her arm, the other one was holding her up, she cracked her eyelids open to see it was her wrinkled clothes she had left on the floor by the bed.
“Anthony…,” she began in protest.
“We don’t have time to argue. We have to leave the ship. Now!” he interrupted before she could argue that she had only, what? Kara looked at the clock next to her bed. One hour of sleep! Normally when woke suddenly and told to move she obeyed immediately. It only took once to teach her that to argue only lead to pain. It did not mean she went along meekly with every order Colin gave. Some of the things he asked of her went against everything she believed in. But to argue for a few more minutes of sleep was not worth a day of enduring whatever new horror Colin devised to punish her.
Anthony was different. Usually his patience with her was infinite. Today not so much, which meant something was very wrong.
Rolling so her feet were over the side of the bed as she sat up, Kara fumbled with her clothes. Space was cold, so the clothing was made from a special material that kept them warm while being light and breathable. As Kara held up the crimson halter top to the matching leggings she wished for some of that clothing. Or at least more of it. There was a tunic that went over all of this somewhere in the room, but even that material was sheer. It made it very dangerous for Kara to walk the halls alone, which was probably the reason Colin dressed her like this. Unless she had an escort, she stayed hidden in her rooms, and even then it was not a guarantee that one of the many addicted warriors on this ship would not try to break into her rooms.
“What’s going on?” she asked dropping the leggings on the bed next to her. Straightening what material there was of the halter, she slipped the strap over her head and pulled the front down over her chest. While she was not large by any means, the halter was designed to emphasize what she did have in a way of a chest while showing as much skin as possible. The only reason she stayed in the damn thing was because of the straps that crisscrossed in front, keeping the material from sliding sideways. After she lifted, shifted and wrangled her breasts in place, she grabbed her leggings.
“We figured out where the spy came from, “Anthony answered hitting the button that opened her closet.
“Who?” she asked shoving one foot into her leggings and yanking the tight material over it.
“Someone we’ve been hiding you from,” he answered absently throwing shoes out onto the floor. “These will have to do” he grunted. “Don’t you have any…?” Anthony had turned around to catch Kara as she shimmed into her leggings, her hands holding the waist up around her ribcage, elbows out, hair in disarray from the little sleep she had managed. It wasn’t the sexiest pose, but even though she had material on her body, the tightness of that material left very little to the imagination.
When the wave of lust washed over Kara, she froze. Looking up she found Anthony frozen in place, his eyes dark with hunger, his breaths coming in small pants. Kara recognized what she was seeing all too well. A reaction to who she was, or what she was, that lead to her on her back lost in the desire of those around her. The way Anthony had just been acting, Kara did not think they had any time to feed his addiction.
Slowly lowering her hands, she began to carefully back away from Anthony. If she was lucky and made no sudden moves, she just may avoid what came next. Stopping after taking one step back, Kara had a dangerous thought. One that could massively backfire if she was wrong. What if whoever was looking for her could help her escape? Maybe that was why they were coming. To rescue her from Colin.
The sound of her shoes hitting the floor brought her attention back to the hungry male slowly advancing upon her, and the danger he posed. It was then she realized that even though she felt his lust pulsing at her in waves, she was not falling victim to the emotions, drowning as his need became hers. That should not have been possible as weak as she was. Not that she was questioning this miracle by any means, but how was that possible?
Anthony left her no more time to think about the why. With a deep growl, he advanced on her like a hunger panther advances on its prey. Quickly glancing around the room, Kara spotted her clock. While not very big, made from a rare type of rock found on one particular planet, it was heavy. A present from one of the warriors who was always gentle with her, taking her into his room not to have sex, but to allow her some reprieve from the others. Tending to her wounds, helping her crawl out of the onslaught of desire with his own sense of calm and control. She had kept it to remind herself that there was still mercy and kindness in the universe. Now it would serve to help her escape from the hell that he had desperately tried to save her from.
“Anthony,” Kara called in a vain attempt to break through the lust filled haze that she knew surrounded the male. Reaching back, she picked up the heavy clock. “I thought we needed to leave.”
To her dismay Anthony stopped in his tracks. Fists clenched at his sides, he tightly closed his eyes, shaking his head trying to clear it. No! Kara screamed inside her head. Today could not be the day he decided to fight what he felt around her. She needed him out of control so he would not realize what she was doing.
“Yes,” he croaked clearly fighting some internal battle. “I…need to.” He shook his head again. “We need to get to my ship, before….” It was then he made the mistake of opening his eyes to see Kara standing before him. “I need to…,” he whispered.
“What?” Kara whispered back, putting a little seduction in her voice.
“I need….” This time his voice was so soft that Kara could barely hear him. “You.”
Before Kara could react he was in front of her, reaching for her. When her body slammed against his, he groaned as if he had just tasted the best delicacy that the universe could devise. Then his lips were on hers and there were no more sounds. This close, skin touching skin, usually Kara was lost. So when her hand came up with the clock and smashed into the side of Anthony’s head, she was not sure who was more shocked. Him or her.
With a cry of pain, Anthony lurched sideways, his hand instinctively going to the side of his head that was in pain. Kara did not wait. She hit him again as hard as she could and he dropped like a stone.
“What’s going on in there?” a voice demanded from the other side of the door.
Staring at the door in horror, the now bloody clock still in her hand, Kara froze.
“My lord?” the voice called. “I know you told us not to come in, but if you don’t answer soon we will enter.”
Spurring into action, Kara quickly hid the clock under her pillow. Kneeling next to Anthony, she checked to see if he was still breathing. Relief washed through her when she felt the hot hair coming from his nose. She may want to escape him, but she did not want to kill him. A little voice in the back of her head quipped that she might regret that decision later. Standing, she glanced around her.
“Help!” she called when she saw the ballet type slippers where Anthony had dropped them. While not ideal for space travel, like he had said, they would have to do. “Hurry!” she called again quickly picking up the shoes and moving out of the way. “Anthony is hurt!”
The doors swished opened and two very tall, very imposing males rushed into the room. Kara gave them enough of her attention to see that it was the only two twins that Colin had in his employ. Memories of what they had done to her on nights when they caught her alone or were on guard duty outside her door sent a shudder through her body. Sadistic to the core, their favorite thing to do was to tie her up and double team her. One of those nights had left her incapable of going with Colin on an important diplomatic mission. He had lost a lot of money that day, and in retaliation they were forbidden to go anywhere near her. A punishment Kara wholly agreed with. Why Anthony had chosen to bring them with him was beyond her.
“What happened?” the one called Drey demanded kneeling down next to Anthony’s unconscious body.
“It happened so fast. He was coming towards me and tripped over these shoes.” She held up the shoes in her hands to show them. “He hit his head on the side of the bed and now he won’t wake up,” Kara explained putting as much worry and panic in her voice as she could. The panic was not really all that hard. Especially as she noticed the older of the two was watching her with the same expression as Anthony had been.
“He’s still alive,” Drey announced with a fare amount of relief. “Bastian, go fetch the healer.”
“Fetch him yourself,” Bastian growled, his eyes never leaving Kara.
Drey was on his feet pushing his brother out the door so fast, Kara barely had time to track it. “Fetch the healer, Bastian!” he snapped. “If we allow Colin’s son to die because you could keep your head out of your pants, we’ll be next.”
“Fine!” Bastian huffed.
“And if you can’t be of help here, stay away,” Drey called down the corridor.
There was some response that Kara did not quite catch but was sure was some obscenity.
With a sound of utter frustration, Drey turned back into the room and froze when he saw Kara and what she was wearing. With visible effort, he forced his gaze away and moved to kneel next to Anthony. “You better put something else on, witch, before the others return or we will have more casualties than the young lord,” he ordered hoarsely.
Good idea, Kara thought quickly slipping her shoes on, she grabbed the black sheer tunic that was draped over a nearby chair and slipped it on. Once it fell to where it touched the floor, the sleeves coming to a point at her hands, she went to her closet and pulled out a thick black cape. Laying it over her shoulders, she hooked the front closed at the neck with a plain silver clasp. She had just pulled the deep cowl over her head, hiding her face in its shadows, when they heard voices. Pressing herself up against the wall near the doorway, Kara tried to make herself as invisible as possible.
“My Lord,” the healer gasped when he saw Anthony lying in a growing pool of blood. Another guard followed him in, both of them completely ignoring Kara in the worry about Anthony. “What happened!” the healer demanded of Drey as he knelt next to Anthony, opening the bag he had brought and rummaging around in it.
As Drey began to explain what Kara had told him, she quietly slipped out the door into the hallway. Looking both ways to make sure no one else was lurking, she quickly made her way down the hall towards the landing bay. Her reasoning was whoever was coming would have to land their ship there and then make their way up to Colin’s receiving room not far from her rooms. Unfortunately, that put her room was the furthest way from said landing bays. It meant Kara had a long way to go without being caught. That was if the males in her room did not realize she was missing. Otherwise her freedom would be short lived. It was a miracle that the hallway was this deserted. Usually there were at least two or three people coming and going. As she rounded another corner to find no one in her line of sight, Kara was starting to wonder if the same reason Anthony’s emotions had not overwhelmed her was the same reason the halls were strangely empty. Unfortunately, she had lost her faith in miracles a long time ago.
For as long as Kara had been held prisoner, there was only one way she knew how to get to the landing bay at the back of the ship. As she neared it, she realized why the halls were so deserted. Everyone was here scrambling to ready themselves for some sort of fight. Luckily they were too intent on their tasks to notice the cloaked figure making its way as discreetly as it could through the chaos. At least that was what she thoughts until an iron grip clamped down on her arm and pulled her into a storage room.
“What are you doing down here?” a familiar voice hissed in concern.
It was her gentle warrior that had found her. Thomas. The wave of relief that shot through Kara was short lived. He may have refused to join in with the others and their sadistic ways, but it did not mean he was completely immune to her curse. Being careful to keep herself covered with her cloak, she looked up at the tall well-built male. While not has handsome as some of the others, his kindness made up for any flaws that others might see as repellent.
“Thomas,” she gasped, struggling to come up with a valid excuse as to why she was this far away from her rooms. “I had to escape. In the chaos of what is happening, Drey and Bastian broke into my rooms.” She did not need to explain more.
“What?” he snarled, absently tightening his grip on her arm. “I’ll kill them!”
“No!” Kara cried putting her hand on his. While he was a fierce warrior, he was no match for the twins. “I just need to hide until I can tell my master what they did.”
“You really think that bastard would care?” Thomas spat. Treasonous words that frightened Kara.
“Don’t say things like that,” she cried quietly.
Thomas’s eyes searched her face, his expression melting from anger to consideration before relaxing into something that frustrated as much as terrified her. Somehow he had figured out the real reason she was down by the landing bay instead of trying to find Anthony or Colin.
Damn him, Kara thought. He’s too smart for his own good.
Looking at the door, his grip still firmly around Kara’s arm, he seemed to come to some sort of decision.
“Come on,” he said pulling her towards the doorway. “If this is to work, we need to make sure he finds you before Colin does.” Punching the button next to the door, it slid open. Poking his head out, Thomas made sure no one was looking in their direction before pulling Kara out of the storage room.
“He who?” Kara asked doing her best to keep up with his long strides.
“The one who has been looking for us, or more importantly you,” Thomas answered.
“I don’t understand. Who has been looking for me?”
“You’ll see,” he answered cryptically dropping her arm. “If we are to make it to the bay unhindered, you need to walk ahead of me.”
Knowing that was all she was going to get out of him for now, Kara moved so she walked in front Thomas as he escorted her to the landing bay. For the first time hope soared inside her. Today could be the day she finally escaped.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes