A holiday weekend, a family drama and two birthdays means I had no time to finish up this story until now. Since a lot of you have wanted to know about the future of Anya and L'tor, I'm debating a Part 2...or should I just continue it here? I do have more but it's much less fleshed-out so it would require a bit of work to make it fit for publication; otherwise there would be huge jumps and gaps between one part and the next. I tend to 'see' each scene in my mind and write it out. Works for me because I get it out of my head and move on, but it would be confusing to anyone else reading it.
Thank you so much for enjoying this story and letting me know it!
The usual disclaimer applies: don't own it, don't make any money off of it.
Anya came awake slowly, languidly, as awareness returned to her in stages. She opened her eyes to her bedroom, then closed them and drew in a deep, slow breath, holding it as she stretched then letting it out in a gusty sigh. She felt warm and comfortable. Safe and at peace.
There was a low grumble against her back, then the weight of an arm shifted against her flank, followed by the scalding touch of a hot, hard hand on her belly. She lifted her head and stared at the mottled, talon-tipped hand, waking up quickly and jump-starting her awareness. L'tor. In her bed with her. And if she wasn't mistaken, she'd just had sex with the yautja. Meaning, of course, that life as she used to know it was officially over, that now there was a new sheriff in town.
She tried to get up but she was trapped in a cradle created in the mattress by the sheer weight of him. She was naked. He was naked. Shit-shit-shit. She had to do something. Move. Get up and get going.
"An'eya," L'tor grumbled, pressing her back against his hot chest. "Be still."
She subsided, her heart hammering as he aborted her attempt to go into full fledged panic mode. The panic faded out as quickly as it had appeared, and she watched the hand that had been flattened against her abdomen move away as he stretched his arm, flared his clawed fingers, then flexed until something popped in his shoulder with a meaty click. She winced then felt him shift behind her, stretching his spine with a low, masculine groan that ended in a vibrating growl. He moved like a tiger roused from a nap, striking powerful poses accompanied by the flexing and rippling of muscle; arms, back, legs, neck. Her bed creaked in protest until he finished, rolling away from her and right to his feet. Like a fuckin acrobat. It bounced the mattress back up and released her from the cradle she couldn't get out of before. It also, she couldn't help but notice, removed the heat source that had kept the chill in the room from touching her bare skin.
Anya groaned and rolled to her belly, then jerked and hissed when her face touched the pillow. Without the panic to fuel her she didn't think she was capable of movement; everything throbbed and ached. Good good he's hung like a moose, she thought, aware of the low ache between her legs as she put her face gingerly into her hands, exploring the bruise on the side of her face. It felt puffy to her; probably swollen. Wonderful.
"Up," L'tor rumbled. Yeah, right. Like that was gonna happen. Her hips were aching, her left shoulder was feeling funky, there was a sharp pain in the vicinity of her back and right shoulder, she was swollen in her most personal of places and she was exhausted. Getting up was not high on her list of priorities right now, and a glance at the clock on her nightstand told her it was two thirty in the morning.
"Mph," she grunted, cupping her face in her hands to protect it and pressing half-under and half-into a pillow.
He rumbled and she felt his touch, a huge hand on her back that smoothed down her spine and over her buttocks, all the way down her legs and to her feet. His right hand, which had made the journey downward, was replaced by his left hand, which made the return journey. It made her purr, a sound that couldn't hope to match his but conveyed her pleasure nonetheless. His touch was firm and confident while still being gentle and affectionate. And his gentleness and affection were surprising to her, though she was thankful for both, especially the affection. He didn't strike her as the affectionate type and she was under the assumption that it was a feeling he expressed for very few in his life. While he'd been gentle with her from the beginning the affection was something she felt grew grudgingly almost, over time. Like he hadn't wanted or expected to feel emotion for her and that it bothered him on some fundamental level to discover that he did.
What that meant, however, was a mystery to her. She was the easy-going type, flirty and funny and friendly with everyone she came across unless they gave her reason not to be. People liked her, and she was surprised the rare times when they didn't. Like, take Sammy, for instance. She had every right not to like him, but he had no good reason not to like her. And as much as she couldn't stand him, his dislike nagged at her. She prided herself on getting people to like her.
And now what the hell had happened? Somehow she'd ended up getting the attention of a massive and grouchy yautja, not one of the younger party boys that tended to hang out with the humans in public places. No, not her. She got Mister No-Humor, Captain Serious, the King of Don't-Fuck-With-Me. He was bound and determined to put a huge yautja-fist-sized dent in her social life, she just knew it. Hadn't he even turned on Mickey last night? she recalled.
"Walk or carry?" L'tor's deep voice rumbled, followed by a trill of question.
Neither, thanks. I'm good right here, she thought. She heard him moving around her bedroom, a sound here, a sound there, incredibly stealthy for such a huge being. She was dozing off again when she felt him toss a cover over her and she smiled into her hands and relaxed even more. Later she would deal with what happened. For now, sleep. She felt another blanket tossed over her even as she felt a pull beneath her, and before she could raise her head to see what he was doing, she was being lifted. He'd wrapped her in her comforter like a tamale and scooped her off her bed, turning her onto her back so he could cradle her against his chest.
"Just a sec-" she started to say as he turned and strode to her bedroom door, but he growled and shut her up. Okay, so he hadn't been kidding about her options, and when she hadn't responded to his question he'd made the decision for himself.
She felt him squeeze her tighter against his chest, then she felt the sensation of falling, followed by a hard thump as he hit her landing, then another jump down to her living room. The hell with the stairs. It woke her up all right, and she protested by scrambling in the blanket before hearing another growled rebuke as he headed for her door. He shifted and she heard a boom as he kicked the rest of the door down, knocking it off the bottom hinges and partially out onto her front step. At two thirty in the morning.
"Would you-" she started, and he clamped down harder on her as she almost got one hand loose. It squeezed the breath out of her in one huff, effectively silencing her. She looked around to see if anyone's lights came on in response to the noise. Someone's dog was barking a few houses away but other than that nothing and no one was moving except for the yautja carrying her to who-knows-where.
"Walk!" she demanded, finally voicing her answer to the question he'd asked her earlier. He stopped abruptly, then let her legs down so she could stand. The sidewalk was cold under her bare feet and she adjusted the comforter around herself carefully, uncomfortable and aware that underneath she was stark naked. Her aches and pains hit her hard but she raised her chin before turning from the seven foot yautja standing guard over her and marched her ass back to her front door.
"An'eya..." he rumbled, then issued a rapid ticking.
"I'm getting dressed, okay? And I need my phone," she added, increasing her pace. She didn't hear him coming but she felt a pull on the comforter that jerked her to a stop. She aggressively tugged back, holding the comforter tightly and trying to continue to get to her front door. It probably looked, if anyone was awake and watching, comical. "Fuck it," she muttered, and abandoned the comforter, tossing it off defiantly and heading up her walk buck naked. The low rumble from behind made her bolt, her bare feet slapping against the concrete.
She cleared the door and suddenly remembered it wasn't there anymore, which meant she couldn't slam it shut and lock it. Like that would have made a difference anyway. Something thudded onto the roof and as she hurried up the steps L'tor lifted the plywood and dropped onto the landing in front of her from her ripped-out skylight. She ran full force into him, finding him as forgiving as a brick wall. Damnit that pissed her off. Hurt, too. She put a hand over her shocked nose, probing it with her fingertips.
"Dat hudt," she said crossly, annoyed, still holding her nose. L'tor responded with a slow adjustment of his stance, rocking his weight to bring one leg closer to the other, flaring his tresses and issuing a thin trickle of a growl. The low sound communicated amusement and she scowled when she recognized it. "Nobt funny," she insisted, her voice still off because of the hard bang to her nose. It hadn't been his armor, either; he wasn't wearing the chest-plate and she'd smacked face-first just below his pecs, into bare flesh. The jolt alone had almost catapulted her backward down the steps she'd just cleared.
"Funny," he contradicted her. Oh, so now he decides to develop a sense of humor? What a pisser. You just can't make this shit up.
"Where the hell are you taking me?" she demanded, leaving off with her nose once she determined it wasn't bleeding or broken.
"With me," he said simply. "Mate."
"Yeah, I noticed, believe me. Was, um, kinda hard to miss, actually."
He crossed his mammoth arms and rumbled rhythmically, looking mighty damned smug and pleased with himself as he chuckled yautja-style. "Again?" he asked, indicating a question with a soft trill as he cocked his head.
Anya gaped. Shit. So he might be an old-timer but he was an old-timer with the stamina and quick reload of a sixteen year old and the cock of a horse. Damnit was she in trouble. "You bit me," she said.
"Yes. Breeding mark. Mate mark."
She cursed under her breath. "You gonna do it again?" He shrugged, a powerful shift of his shoulders that she wasn't sure how to interpret. Yes, no, maybe? I don't know, depends on how I feel at the time? "So, like, what now?"
"With me," he said again.
She sagged on her feet and lowered her gaze to think about his simple response. He wasn't stupid, and she suspected his economy of words wasn't because he didn't know enough of her language to be able to explain fully. It was just his way: simple and direct. Speaking her language was irritating to him, and having to explain himself bordered on him feeling disrespected. She had a feeling that from now on he expected her to follow his lead without question, without the need for in-depth explanations and reassurances. He'd proven himself reliable and capable; in his mind, what more did she need to know? Technically she knew she was considered a lower life form to his people, like livestock or maybe dogs. Intelligent and useful but expected to know their place and do as they were bid.
So...well, fuck. She looked up at him again, doe-eyed. This was not what she'd expected. Personally, she'd had bigger plans for her life. He was humorless and short-tempered, driven by an honor code that would rival the best samurai. She sensed he wasn't normally gentle or patient or understanding; those qualities weren't a societal strong suit for yautja. She would have a long life and excellent health, the best of care. But her existence would be meaningless to everyone except for him. And for him she would only have meaning as long as she could successfully produce his pups. If she was unable...she shivered, deciding that didn't bear thinking on.
Not all pairings were successful and regardless of cause, the blame always fell on the human female in yautja society. None of her teachers had been able to tell them what happened to the females who found themselves unable to conceive, if they were returned to their homes, forced into some other kind of slavery, used as target practice or shot out of the torpedo tubes, metaphorically speaking.
"Will you ever let me come back here?" Anya dared to ask. "To visit, I mean?"
He shifted, a mountain of muscle that clicked and grumbled at her question. He seemed to take some time to think about it before answering, "Yes."
It brought a wash of relief, not least because he'd thought about it before answering, which led her to believe he was telling her the truth. "Can I at least get dressed?" she asked, her voice a soft, resigned sigh. "You could do me a solid by bringing the blanket in and fixing the plywood on the roof so it doesn't rain in here."
He shifted again and raised his head to look at the displaced temporary skylight. Yeah, sure. No hablan Inglés, but he apparently not only knows what plywood is and understood what she was referring to. He grunted and unfolded his arms, bending his legs and leaping back up twelve feet out of the hole he'd come in through.
"Thanks," she said as he disappeared into the darkness on her roof. She ducked underneath the gap as he grunted and shifted the wood and tarp over, grasping what needed to be done and had taken three guys to put in place.
She ran upstairs and started tearing through her drawers, pulling out panties and bra and trying to decide what she should wear. Choosing jeans, she hopped on one foot as she pulled them on and spotted her cellphone on the floor next to the pants she'd discarded earlier. She speed-dialed Helen and left her a message where to find her car keys, letting her know what was happening, asking her to put the word out and give everyone her good-byes. With the loss of her sister Anya didn't have any family left so she knew her property would end up in some probate if it was left up to the authorities to figure it out. She quickly ran through a list off the top of her head to Helen's voicemail, telling her what she wanted who to have, letting her know her front door was knocked off its hinges and her house was up for grabs to the first taker if she and the others didn't get here first. She ended with a promise that she would be back at the first opportunity, realizing that she was crying with her jeans half-on, a bra and no shirt, socks or shoes, standing in the disaster of her bedroom and possibly seeing it, and everything she owned, for the last time.
When L'tor silently appeared in the doorway and looked in at her, she was still holding her cellphone in her hand with her pants around her ankles, weeping. Life as she knew it was over and she was scared to death of what was to come. When she saw him she scooped up her shirt off the floor and roughly pulled it over her head, then cried harder when it pushed against her bruised face and pulled at the wounds on the back of her shoulder. Clutching her iPhone with a deathgrip she angrily thrashed the shirt on, gasping at the pain in her right shoulder, then pulled up her jeans.
When she looked up from fastening them L'tor was standing in front of her, his head cocked as he regarded her. Just another day in paradise for him, the smug bastard. He trilled gently, then stepped closer and bent to scoop her off her feet, lifting her easily and holding her against his warm chest. This time she didn't object, didn't struggle or thrash or put up any kind of fight. It was all worn out of her. She sagged against him and closed her eyes, still barefoot but holding her phone as he carried her out of her bedroom, repeated the jumps down her stairs, walked past the comforter lying on her living room carpet, and went through the knocked-down door. He paused on her front step and set her down to lift the door and fix it in place, then turned back to her and lifted her again, a low purr in his chest as she stood docilely, waiting.
She regressed in no time flat the moment his drop ship docked with his cruising vessel, and she headed right for the engine room. New development: a closed door that did not agreeably slide open in response to her approach. She banged off it and let loose a string of curses as her already-aching nose screamed in protest, cupping her hands over it, bumping the bruise around her eye and across her cheek, then kicking at the metal door savagely in anger. Barefoot.
Limping, holding her nose, Anya moved restlessly through the ship while L'tor wisely gave her space and busied himself elsewhere. She moved through the large combination training and sparring room, the food preparation area where she'd watched L'tor prepared the rjet steaks, the adjoining dining area where they'd eaten them. Where she had tried not to stare as he'd held each steak in his mandibles and fed it into his mouth, staring back at her with no doubt the same blatant fascination as she awkwardly tried to manipulate a knife and a paddle-like spoon to cut her steak into bite-sized pieces.
Through the clinic-lab thingy with the padded table and complicated looking equipment where he'd treated her burn and the claw-marks the grey yautja had torn into her cheeks. They were pretty much gone now but if she looked in a mirror and turned her head just so, she could still faintly see the lines that had been left, tiny scratches now.
The ship vibrated and she paused, knowing what that meant. He was going through with it, honest to god. Taking her away from her home and bringing her someplace else. This was really happening, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. She came to the meeting room with the giant conference table and the giant chairs, not stopping until she reached the far wall, floor to ceiling and side to side a window. Through the wispy clouds over the face of her planet, she could see North America, her eyes automatically sliding to the west coast of the United States, shrouded in darkness. Home.
The ship's engines throbbed steadily like a beating heart, and it seemed to Anya like she was staying still while her planet eased further away. Though she supposed they were moving at incredible speed, the view outside changed only subtly. Slowly she could see more of the earth's curvature, more of its southern hemisphere. Everyone and everything she knew was already out of reach and creeping further away, leaving her with nothing but the clothes she was wearing and the iPhone still clutched in her hand.
Anya watched for hours, moving to the large chair at the nearest end of the table and boosting herself up into it, curling like a cat on the seat and leaning the weight of her upper body on the right arm as she stared in mute silence. She would come back; this wouldn't be the last time she saw her planet. As little as she knew and understood about her captor, she was certain that lying or making idle promises weren't in his nature. She wondered what was to come, and what she would be like when she returned, feeling both parts excited and terrified.
Whatever the properties of the barrier that created the window she was staring through, it gave no reflection of the room she was in. She couldn't see herself or the yautja who had entered behind her and was watching her, finally alerting her to his presence with a low purr of greeting as he stepped beside the chair she was in. Her eyes switched warily to him as he moved in front of her then sank into a crouch, blotting out a good portion of her view of earth. He reached toward her face and gently cupped her cheek in his hot palm, his thumb sliding softly over the bruise below her eye, then down the length of her dully aching nose. She winced as he probed the bone, pushing on either side. With a quiet grunt he let go of her face ad redirected his attention to her dangling foot, the one she'd kicked the door to the engine room with. Her eyes skipping between the shrinking view of her planet beyond him and the sight of her comparatively tiny and pale foot in his huge paws, she steeled herself as he began a methodical squeezing, using his thumbs to follow the delicate bones from ankle to toe, one by one. It hurt, but clearly while he was inspecting the damage she'd done to herself he was making a concerted effort to be gentle.
Satisfied, he eased her foot back into its former dangle off the tall chair, then stood smoothly and walked away. Anya blinked tiredly and returned to staring at her planet, her mind quieter for some reason. Less crowded with worry about her unknown future. L'tor returned to drape a fur over her and hand her a goblet of water, which she took as she met his amber gaze.
"Thanks," she said quietly. He nodded, then left.
It was some time before she could see the entire globe in the window, and she watched the light of the sun create a parabola over its surface, squinting her eyes at the glare as it spread. Morning was coming, the dawn of a new day.