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Part 25B

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The evening meal was well underway by the time that Arabella and Allarick joined everyone. Arabella couldn’t help but blush at the knowing glances people cast their way. A few people dared to jest at their Syine’s tardiness, but most seemed to be torn between anger and curiosity at her new position. She did not completely understand why there would be any anger over Allarick taking a mate, but she could feel the blaze of furious eyes upon her as they seated themselves at the head of the table.

“Did you happen to find time to give Allarick your gift Bella, or were you much too busy to remember?” Arabella smiled as she saw that Mina managed to keep a serious look while her eyes were dancing with devilment. The little hoyden did like to keep everyone on edge with her antics, but she had to admit that if it were not for Philomina she would be feeling very much alone here as she possessed many of the same traits.

“I think we were much too busy. Your brother will be keeping me to a very vigorous exercise regimen I think.”

Mina let out snort as she tried to suppress her giggle. Allarick was looking between the two of them with shock evident at their barely veiled conversation.

“Are you corrupting Bella with your deviant ways?” He was so serious in his question that Arabella began to laugh outright.

“I don’t think that Mina is tarnishing me at all tamir,” she slipped in the last knowing it would soften her mate before going on, “I am much worse than she can ever hope to be. I think it stems from too many late nights spent with Vern. Too much time spent in the company of men would be enough to corrupt anyone”

Allarick’s eyes narrowed at the mention of another man’s name, and Arabella could fairly see his jealousy begin to bubble over. She had known that the comment would provoke him. She admittedly had intended to bait him with it, but it was not her intention to infuriate him. “Settle tamir, he was a close friend and my boss. We spent all too many evenings working late. Nothing more,” Arabella leaned close as she spoke so that their words would not be heard by the others at the table. Taking advantage she leaned even closer to brush her lips across his hoping to soothe his temper. Before she knew what happened, she found herself dragged from her seat into the arms of her mate, and he was dominating her with his kiss.

“You are mine tamore,” Allarick growled after a few long minutes as he finally released her from his punishing grip. Looking appalled at his own jealous reaction to another man’s name coming from his mate’s lips, Allarick released his hold so she could return to her meal.

It was with shaking legs that Arabella returned to her seat. Finally, unable to concentrate on the meal and conversation, Arabella excused herself from the table. She was too unsettled by his display of possessiveness to be hungry, but when Allarick rose to leave with her, she stopped him with a motion of her hand.

“Stay, please Allarick. I am just going to go for a walk. I confess I’m not very hungry, and I am not good company after having such an eventful day,” Allarick looked as if he would like to argue, but one glance from Philomina had him seated and waving her on her way.

Arabella could not help but feel all the eyes upon her as she left, but at the moment she had little care for it. She needed a moment of escape and be alone for a while. She found herself moving towards the stables and the promise of a ride on the lorelilla. Perhaps she would take a nighttime ride out to the cove that Tam had shown her. Surely with the dim glow that pervaded the night sky there would be little to worry over.

In the stable, she was unable to find Tam, but she did see all the gear she would need to go for a ride. Choosing to take the lorelilla she had ridden before, Arabella set about readying everything necessary. As an afterthought, she added a small, but extremely sharp, knife to her boot. Vern had seen to it many years ago that she was versed in a multitude of weaponry always warning her it was far better to be armed and have no need, than have a need and no weapon to fill it. She was proficient in the use of everything from rapiers to twentieth-century guns as well as all the best weapons that money could buy in modern times. He had been of the mindset that you may never know when such knowledge would come into use.

“Bellisimo, you will thank me one day. It is much better to be informed and alive than to find yourself ignorant and in the grave. Besides, what would I do with myself if something were to happen to you?”

“When am I ever likely to need something as barbaric as a weapon that shoots bullets? We’ve not seen such barbaric weapons for more than a century. It has been since the Great War that such things were banned to all but collectors. I don’t even want to know how it is that you’ve come across some that are still capable of firing. As for the swords, aren’t knives meant to be used for cutting food? Last I looked; they were an eating utensil, not something used for swinging around at others.”

Vern had just laughed at her complaints and continued with his lessons. Being so far from home, she had to admit that she was grateful for his badgering. She could defend herself passably well with even the small dagger she grabbed, and it lent added confidence as she mounted the lorelilla and took flight.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

Watching from the shadows, Phelon moved to mount his phalcon. It was an oddity of its kind since they were typically too ill tempered to be trained for a rider, but Carawin was quite special. He was trained as both an assassin and as a winged mount for his lord. The giant bird had a wingspan of more than twenty feet when soaring. The phalocon’s massive wings made it perfect for flying with a rider on its back since they provided more than enough lift to carry both a rider and their own relatively small bodies. Extremely intelligent, they had been used by Phelon’s family for years to hunt down and kill any that they wished. Carawin was from a long line that had been bred upon his ancestral lands to be the perfect combination of loyalty and ruthlessness.

Phelon followed Arabella easily in the dim sky. Carawin blended into the shadows crossing the countryside, but the lorelilla’s glistening coat was shining brightly in the remaining light. There was no appreciation in him for the beauty of his surrounding. Instead, he was consumed with a burning desire for vengeance against the young woman who had dared to defy him. It was of little consequence that Arabella was now mated to the Syine. In fact, it only made him thirst to cause that much more pain since he would be damaging the man he viewed as his foe as well as sending a message to all about the consequences for crossing him.

He was aware that tales of his encounter in the stables were circulating about the palace. They were not passing among his peers, but he had seen the looks that both slaves and laborers were casting his way. They no longer looked at him only with fear, and instead their terror had been replaced by satisfaction that he had been stopped by a mere female. If it had not been for her connection to the Syine, nothing that Arabella could do would have stopped him from giving the stable master the beating that he deserved. The Syine allowed the man entirely too much control, and now it seemed that he was going to do the same with all those beneath him.

Phelon’s fury flared even more as his thoughts were consumed by memories of that day. He was the son of a great lord, a lord who had faithfully served the previous Syine for many long years. Rather than being treated with the respect that he was owed, he was made to look the fool by a slip of a girl with too sharp of a tongue. At least his mate knew how to behave properly. It seemed that they Syine did not expect those in his household to do the same. He would not stand for such insults, and after he was finished with the Syine’s mate, there would be no doubt of his refusal to be made a laughingstock by anyone.

He smiled cruelly as he saw the tiny lorelilla begin to make its descent. The time was at hand for him to dole out punishment, and the anticipation of what he would do now that there was no one to stop him was exhilarating. He had hardly been able to believe his luck when she had left the dining hall and headed out for a ride, but since he had already excused himself to return his chamber it was an opportunity that he could not refuse.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

Arabella sighed at the feel of the surf and sand between her toes. She had taken her shoes from her feet as soon as she had dismounted from the lorelilla, and now she was wandering along the waters edge. There was something soothing about walking around the beach barefoot, and it brought back fond memories of home. She had shared a beachfront condo with Vern in Naples, and when they had managed to escape from the office it was all too often to go enjoy the sunshine and sand. Most weekends found her out at the condo, and she had endured much teasing about her affinity for the sea. Vern swore that she must have been born a mermaid, and she was just incapable of remembering her past life. The water had always produced a calming effect that she craved. Her life was tumultuous at best, and it seemed that her time spend unwinding on the beach managed to give her the necessary endurance to accomplish all that she wished.

With all the changes of the past few weeks she needed something to ease her nerves. She had already been living on this planet for six long weeks, and in that time she had been unable to find any glimmer of hope that she may be able to return home. To make things worse, in the time that she was here, she had fallen in love; then she had mated herself to a man she had no hope of a future with, and found herself becoming friends with Philomina, Nechemya, and Tamarin. This was not the way that she had pictured things when she had made the decision to land here. She had been certain that within just a couple weeks she would be on her way home again to report to Vern about the malfunction with the test equipment.

“I wonder if he is even searching for me yet,” Arabella spoke to sea like it was a dear friend, but she jolted with fear as she was grabbed from behind. This terror only increased as she heard Phelon’s voice in her ears.

“How sweet that you are pining for your mate, but he is not likely looking to find you so soon,” He hissed misunderstanding who she spoke of, “and even if he were it will be too late to stop what I have planned.” With that, Phelon began to haul her back from the water towards the cliffs looming behind them.

Once they were shadowed by the massive cliffs, Phelon turned her roughly to face him and sent her flying to the ground with a swift blow to her face. Rather than stopping, he the proceeded to rain punishing kicks to her arms and legs as well as her vulnerable back and sides. Arabella instinctively curled in upon herself as she tried to protect her softer belly and organs. When she did so, she felt the cold hilt of her knife pressing against her hands.

Without no thought towards her actions, she pulled the knife free and raked it across the leg which was aiming to deliver another blow. Screaming in pain, Phelon made a grab for her arm, but all he received for his efforts was another gaping wound across his arm and chest. This made him pause, and Arabella jumped quickly to her feet.

Despite the pain that came with each jarring step, she ran towards her waiting lorellia. She wasn’t foolish enough to stay and continue fighting Phelon, but she did hope that the damage she inflicted would slow him down. Judging by the ever growing distance between herself and the man screaming vile threats at her, she had succeeded. Mounting the lorellia she gave thanks that he hadn’t caught her, and then she gave a command that launched her into the air and sent her riding swiftly home.

Updated 05-02-2009 at 08:46 AM by applepie