Chapter nine:

Old Mill Bed and Breakfast
Gunnison, Colorado
October 6, 2008

Elaina took the longest shower she could ever remember taking in her entire life. That would even include the time when she was twelve years old and had started her period for the first time. She had been shocked and appalled at the sight of blood in her underwear and had spent a good long time in the shower trying to scrub herself raw down there in order to feel clean again.

The shower felt good though, she had to admit to herself. And she had desperately needed one after wading around in sewage for several hours. Unfortunately, the motel bathtub would never be the same ever again. Shutting off the hot water that had started to turn cold on her after spending so much time soaping up, scrubbing down and rinsing off, only to repeat the process several times until her skin was blistering red, Elaina reached over for the fluffy, white towel hanging on the wall close by. She stepped out of the tub, taking care not to slip on the linoleum, and avoided the smelly clothes piled on the floor.

Elaina wrinkled her nose, thankful for the fact that she had gotten her sense of smell back, but not too pleased with the stench radiating off her old clothes. No wonder the sheriff and deputy could barely be within a few feet of her without gagging; the smell was disgusting!

Searching the bathroom, Elaina found a roll of garbage bags sitting under the sink. After quickly towel-drying herself off, she wrapped a second clean towel around her body and knotted it at the top. She grabbed for the roll of garbage bags and tore one free. Walking back to her nasty clothes, she used just two fingers to lift the clothes into the bag and tying it off to keep the smell inside.

Well, that helped, she thought, grimacing from the smell still emanating from the garbage bag. A little.

Elaina opened the bathroom door and stepped back out into the room. She walked to the door leading out into the hallway and opened it to toss the bag of clothes outside the room. Pulling back in, she shut the door and turned around. Her heart leapt to her throat at the sight of Ci'tde standing on the other side of the room. He was staring at her, and if she thought his mask was expressionless, his face gave away nothing of what he was thinking.

With a squeak of surprise, she darted back into the bathroom and slammed the door shut behind her. Leaning against the door, much like she had done the other day, Elaina felt her heart racing in her chest, but this time, it was for an entirely different reason. How the hell did I forget he was even out there? It might have been after her fourth scrub down that she had just forgotten everything but the pleasant smell of clean skin and the slightly floral scent coming from the soaps and shampoo she had used. Groaning, Elaina shook her head negatively… then her eyes took in the towel she was wearing. The damn thing barely covered her from chest to mid-thigh.

"Fuck," she cursed as her humiliation only seemed to grow more and more with each passing moment while she was in his presence. Could things even get any worse? Or was she forever doomed to embarrass herself in front of the Yautja, who, at that very moment, was waiting patiently in her motel room for her. With another groan, Elaina pushed herself off the door and walked towards the sink. She needed to think of something else, otherwise she would not be leaving this bathroom for the duration of his stay.

Tugging the towel from her body, she found her thoughts turning back to the argument she had been having with Lex before the Yautjas had shown up. Right, she snorted to herself. If she couldn't even prove to the people in her life that she was a capable human being, how in the hell could she ever hope to be able to do that with an alien species?

Elaina was sick and tired of defending herself from everyone all of the time. She had to protect herself from her mom trying to control every aspect of her life. She had to protect herself from giving her therapist the ammunition he needed to have her committed. And now… Now she had to protect herself from Lex trying to coddle her all the time.

It was no wonder she felt like she was losing her mind.

Elaina knew how to deal with her insomnia, her outbursts, her temper and even her PTSD. She did not, however, know how to convince other that she was capable of taking care of herself. So what if she felt like breaking down and having a good cry every once in awhile when things got hard? That was normal for anyone with emotions, she was sure. But because she had suffered a terrible experience four years ago, it was considered unhealthy and dangerous?

Sighing, Elaina wiped away the condensation from the mirror. She wanted people to look at her as if she wasn't something weak or something that needed to be cared for all the time. Today, for the first time in her life, she had felt needed and helpful. Warkha had chosen her to go down into the sewers with him. Sure, it was because she had been armed, but he hadn't treated her like she needed protection. And she had taken that alien down by herself without needing anyone's help.

For the first time in four years, she actually felt strong, not helpless.

Turning to her duffle bag that carried all of her feminine products, Elaina rummaged around inside. She found her deodorant and applied it to her armpits before throwing it back into the bag. She dressed in a pair of black boy shorts with a matching sports bra to keep her breasts secured to her chest. She kind of preferred these types of underwear to the sexy ones her mother was always trying to get her to buy. She didn't have to worry about her boobs flopping around in her way as she wielded her spear or her panties riding up her ass when she ran.

She slipped on a clean dark, forest-green tank-top next and tugged it down to her waist. She stepped into a pair of gray camouflage pants and fastened them so that they fit snug at her waist. The last thing she dressed in were a pair of black socks. Her hiking boots were in the garbage bag outside in the hall along with her clothes, daring anyone to try and steal them as they were still slightly waterlogged. She would need to find a laundry mat somewhere and get her clothes from earlier washed. Or maybe an incendiary unit would be best?

Shaking her head, Elaina retrieved the necklace Ci'tde had given her from where she had draped it over the back of the toilet and pulled it on over her head. She tugged her wet hair free and let the chain rest against the back of her neck. The talon fell halfway down her chest, resting against the collar of her tank-top. She eyed the digit, finding the sight of it now didn't make her as uneasy as it first had. If anything, it reminded her that she had killed an alien. She had survived a horrible ordeal and came out stronger because of it.

Biting her lip, Elaina tucked the necklace under her shirt and the talon nestled between her breasts. She made sure it was hidden out of sight from any prying eyes – that would keep her from having to explain it to anyone who looked too closely at her.

Elaina grabbed the dagger and turned to head out of the bathroom. She opened the door a second time and stepped into the motel room. She left the light on in the bathroom, leaving the door cracked enough that only a sliver of light filtered into the room. Her eyes searched the room and she found Ci'tde standing in front of the window. He was staring out through the sheer curtain and she couldn't tell if it was the warm sun or the landscape that held his captivated stare. Or maybe he didn't see either, but was, in fact, staring at her reflection in the glass.

Dropping her gaze, she stared at the necklace and her left hand played with the chain absently. She shifted her stare reluctantly and directed her gaze to the dagger in her right hand. As macabre as the gifts were, she did love them. They were meaningful, or at least, they were in her mind. He had put a lot of effort into making them. And that meant something to her.

Rounding the bed, Elaina stopped at the nightstand and set the dagger down next to where her spear lay. Soon, she would be just as armed to the teeth as Ci'tde was. That thought had a smile playing across her face. Elaina turned away from her small arsenal and looked back at Ci'tde. He had turned away from the window and was watching her with an unwavering stare of his own.

Elaina almost missed the hours they had spent together in the pyramid. There was never any lingering downtime for them. No awkward moments of wondering, what do I say, what do I do? Do I ignore him? Do I ask him if he wants something to eat? That line of thinking conjured up a memory from those two days spent in the pyramid of the few moments they had time to rest.

"Oh! I have something for you, too," Elaina said quickly. She hurried over to her backpack that lay discarded on the counter. "It's nothing as cool as what you got me, but…" Elaina rifled through the bag's contents and with a small, "Aha!" pulled out a bag of candy. She opened the plastic bag and withdrew a familiar orange package.

"Reese cup," Ci'tde trilled as he drew near her, his eagerness palpable.

Elaina beamed with pride to see the smile that stretched his mandibles wide. As scary as it was to stare up into that face of his, there was just something so boyish in the eagerness that exuded from him at the sight of candy. Ci'tde took the offered treat, turning it over in his hands as he stared at the scrawled yellow writing on the front.

"I can't believe you remembered it," she said, watching the way he held the candy in his large hands. It was strange to see how gentle he could be when he wanted. It was almost hard to believe that this was the same Yautja that had taken down hard-meats and stood against a Queen. Almost.

"I brought extras since you liked them so much," she said absently. She wondered if he remembered how to open the candy or if he had forgotten. The way he held the treat was like it was some kind of long lost treasure and she doubted he had anything like it since the last time they saw each other.

"Elli remembered," Ci'tde clicked while turning the candy over in his hands to find the seal in the back. He carefully tore into the packaging, his mouth already watering at the sight of the treats inside. He moved to the side of Lex's bed and sat down on the soft mattress, the boards underneath groaning under his solid weight.

Elaina watched mesmerized at the way he used his mandibles to feed each peanut butter cup into his mouth and the way his tongue came out to savor any sticky sweetness that was left on his tusks. This time, she noticed, he managed to avoid getting any of the peanut butter stuck to the roof of his mouth as he savored the candy as if it would be his last.

"More," he trilled to her, his eyes flickering to the bag of candy she still held loosely in her hands. Elaina blinked out of her entrancing thoughts, trying to ignore the strange fluttering that had started in her stomach since he had given her the necklace.

"O-oh, of course," she stammered, her hands shaking as she reached in and pulled out a different kind of candy bar. She held it out to him, not trusting herself to step any closer than her spot at the end of her own bed.

Ci'tde plucked the candy from her hand, inspecting the wrapper much closer this time.

"Try it," she said to encourage him. "I think you'll like it, it has nuts and caramel in it." Soon, she would have him as much of a candy fanatic as she was; she had already gotten him to try a Crunch bar and a Reese's and hoped that he liked Snickers just as much as he liked the other candies.

Elaina set the bag of candy aside as she watched him open the wrapper, much like he had done with the Reese's, and fed the candy into his mouth. He ate it with no complaints, even going so far as to lick the tusks at the ends of his mandibles clean. He purred in delight, rubbing his belly in a universal manner that she understood from all males. It must have hit the spot.

"Uh, you missed some," she said, stepping towards him without even realizing just what sure was doing. All she could think about was that he had forgotten to clean his upper, left mandible and there was a trace of chocolate still left on the tip and what a waste it would be.

Elaina stepped between his legs, standing closer than she ever had since meeting him. She lifted her right hand, wiping away the chocolaty leftover chocolate with her index finger and brought the digit to her mouth to lick away the mess. It wasn't until she sucked the pad of her finger into her mouth that it occurred to her what she had just done.

Her eyes widened a fraction before her head jerked to look up at him; even with him sitting down on the bed, he was still just slightly taller than her. The last time she had gotten close to him had been when she touched the scar etched into his forehead. But even then, there had been some distance between them. Now, however, her legs stood between his massive thighs, the thin fabric of her pants searing themselves to her skin by the heated contact of his body touching hers.

The unmistakable purr that stuttered out of his chest had her flinching at the volume of it. His body visibly vibrated from the intensity and Elaina dropped her head to stare at his chest in amazement. The familiar jolt at her sex had her mouth going dry and her eyes closed as she suppressed a strangled moan.

This shouldn't feel this good, she tried to reason with herself. They were only touching in one place; his inner thighs pressing against the outside of her legs. The continuing vibrations shot little electrical shocks from that small contact, going straight to her sex and making her body flush in response. Her veins felt like they were filled with molten lava instead of blood as they rushed to her extremities.

Her knees suddenly buckled from the constant onslaught of sensation and she swooned forward. The index finger that had been trapped between her lips popped free as she brought that hand forward to brace herself against his chest, her eyes flying open in alarm. Luckily, she hadn't face planted against him, saving herself from that humiliating experience.

Ci'tde's purr stuttered like a failing engine at the contact of her hand against his chest, only instead of dying down, it kicked up another notch and grew stronger, if that was even possible. Now, Elaina could feel that purr down into her very core. She felt a strange sense of calm wash over her the longer she stood there touching him. His purr seemed to soak into her skin and numb her from the inside out. It was hard to remember to be afraid of him when he made her skin tingle and created goose bumps along her bare flesh.

A rumble, something apart from his purr, came from deep within his chest as Ci'tde stared down at her. He lifted his hands to touch the loose strands of her hair – still wet from the shower – and felt the damp strands against his dryer skin. She didn't quite understand his fascination with her hair, other than the fact that it was different from his own.

Elaina was jarred from her thoughts when one of his hands traveled down to touch her bare shoulder, his talons incredibly gentle when he traced the rigid skin of her scar. He seemed fascinated by the healed flesh, his golden eyes intense as they inspected the old wound.

Drawing back, Elaina found herself trapped in his arms with no way of escape. With one hand on her scar and the other still playing with her damp curls, she was effectively boxed in. Blinking slowly, a red flush crawled up into her cheeks.

"It's okay. I know it looks hideous," she said sheepishly, trying to fight off the embarrassment that made her face turn red.

Ci'tde stuttered, his purr dying as he cocked his head to the side in confusion.

Elaina tried to move away again, completely embarrassed with the way she had let herself get pulled in by that purr of his. The way he captivated her attention was seriously unhealthy. Somehow, she would have to try and work this into a conversation with her therapist without giving away what Ci'tde was.

Elaina could laugh at the rampant thoughts that ran through her head as she tried to come up with a line to give her therapist.

Uh, yeah, Dr. Mathews, I've got this strange attraction to this guy I met four years ago who is seriously a bad boy. Like, the ultimate definition of a bad boy persona. He kills people and collects their bones for trophies. So, you can see how this is clearly unhealthy for me… Oh, what could I possibly find attractive in a guy like that? Well, you see, he saved my life and has this strict honor code that he follows. Also… he is 8ft tall, has rock hard abs and has the most mesmerizing amber-colored eyes I have ever seen. Oh, and by the way, his purring? Now, that is just about the hottest thing ever... Elaina shook her head. Yeah… never going to happen.

"I'll just go put on another shirt," she muttered, attempting to extract herself out of Ci'tde hold.

Ci'tde was trying to understand the female's words when she suddenly mentioned adding more skins to her attire. He huffed beneath his breath, his hand coming up to rest against her chest, just above her mammary glands. His touch stilled her attempts to escape him and her eyes widened in shock before darting down to eye his hand suspiciously.

Many conversations with Skl're over the past four seasons had educated him enough on the ooman species. He had wanted to know all that he could about them for when he would be able to see his female again. He had learned that they were nothing like his own species. Something he had already come to the conclusion of on his own, however, he just hadn't realized by just how much. He had tried to explain to his brother the way this female had laid claim to him while they were in the pyramid. At the time he had been startled by the expression and a little naïve to what it actually meant, until he had returned to the clanship, that is. It hadn't been until watching his fellow Blooded Warriors partake in the mating ritual that he had come to understand why his body had reacted the way it had to the small female. Much like the females of his species did when they accepted a male for the mating ceremony, Elli had laid claim. To him.

After explaining this to his brother, Skl're had tried to set him straight. Skl're informed him that ooman females did not lay claim to their mates. Unlike the Yautja species, where the female picked the males to breed with, it was the opposite for oomans. It was the ooman males that dominated and controlled the weak and more submissive females.

Yet, here she had done it again. Perhaps Skl're is wrong, Ci'tde tried to reason with himself. His brother was constantly arguing with him over the ooman female. Skl're just did not understand his interest in the small creature. Ci'tde couldn't really explain it himself and had given up trying to after being rebuffed by his own brother over the matter.

Ci'tde reached out and traced the scar that had been created by the hard-meat Queen. It had formed into a nice scar and yet, the female seemed upset by his interest in it. Did she not approve of his interest? This was confusing to him. Had she not come to him and claim him?

Tucking his mandibles in, Ci'tde splayed his hand over the scar. "Honor," he spoke slowly in ooman. The words were harsh and gravely, but the female seemed to understand him. He was proud of himself for studying the more in-depth ooman language data they had on the clanship. He had hoped to impress her with his ability to learn her language so that they could communicate better.

Removing his hand, Ci'tde turned his attention to removing the armor over his left shoulder. He was pleased that she wasn't struggling to get away from him now and instead stood there watching him curiously. He set the armor aside and pointed to several long, jagged scars that marred his left shoulder and down his arm.

Ci'tde had been on a hunt on another planet, battling with a species that had wicked claws and sharp teeth. The beast had gotten the best of him and had nearly taken his arm, but the warrior managed to fight it off and kill it. Its skull was one of the many impressive trophies that decorated his room on the ship he shared with Skl're.

While the wound had taken several cycles to heal, the scar it left behind was impressive and had caught several Yautja females' attention at the last mating season.

"Honor," he growled to her.

Elaina stared at the long hideous scar that looked like a huge tiger had tried to claw his arm off. The marks were bigger than what any large cat on Earth could have done, but the four jagged scars gave her the impression the damage had been caused by some kind of feline species. She could see that at one time the wound had torn through his hide and the muscle underneath.

"Jesus," she whispered. Her hand reached out on its own accord, but she found her hesitating. She looked back up into his face, biting her bottom lip nervously. "Can I –" Elaina cut herself off, thinking how he had touched her scar without even asking her if he could or not. Looking back at his arm, she touched one of the jagged, pale scars with her finger. It was rigid in some places and smooth in others. The pebbled skin hadn't healed back and was a lot softer now. She compared it to the dark skin that outlined the scars and found the skin there was bumpy and hard against the flat of her hand.

"Have more," Ci'tde rumbled to her.

For the next half hour, Elaina found herself inspecting each and every wound he had suffered since the last time she had seen him four years ago. He was proud of each and every scar, having a story to tell for all of them. It was odd and it reminded her of one of her old boyfriends that had shown off each and every model car he had made since he was a small boy. Ci'tde was proud of all of his scars, whether it was from something foolish he had done or not, such as the thin scar along the top of his forehead; he had gotten that one for disobeying his elder.

He let her touch each one and each time he would purr and his hand would come up to trace the scar on her own shoulder. He seemed proud of that scar as well. Honor, he told her over and over again. She had earned the wound for doing something brave and honorable.

Elaina had never thought of it like that. She had always seen it as a hideous reminder of what she had gone through. Physical scars that she couldn't hide like the emotional ones.

When he showed her his last scar, one he had gotten during a challenge with another Yautja that marred his inner thigh, and which she had opted not to touch, Elaina looked over to see the time. It was after four-thirty and she still needed to try and get some sleep. Yawning, Elaina looked away from the scar he was trying to get her to inspect more closely and made use of her hands, stretching them up above her head.

"I'm going to lay down for a bit, okay, Celtic?" she said tiredly. She turned away from him then and walked back to her own bed. She didn't bother with the covers, but instead plopped down on the soft mattress. She reached over for the remote that sat on the nightstand and turned the TV on, but kept the volume low. "Lex will be over to get us when it's time to go. You can get some sleep or watch some TV, if you like."

Ci'tde straightened from his position on the other bed, watching Elaina lay down on her own. She smiled over at him before rolling onto her side with her back facing him. Ci'tde huffed beneath his breath, his head turning this way and that. All of his armor had been discarded across the bed he was seated on, but he had been pleased by the female's interest in his scars. He had many impressive ones and yet, she walked away from him and went to sleep. He felt a little rejected as she hadn't been interested at all in the scar he had gotten on his thigh. It was his most impressive one yet and he had gotten it during a challenge with a Yautja that was both bigger and stronger than him.

Grunting, Ci'tde turned his head to inspect the TV. Maybe he could show her later. He liked the feel of her light touches on his hide, tracing each scar and comparing its texture to what his normal skin felt like.

Ci'tde shifted in his position on the bed, feeling tightness in his loincloth. That had never happened to him before, at least, not when it concerned the small female. His eyes drifted over to Elaina as she shifted on the bed, her body rolling over until she lay facing him on her side. He found himself watching the female instead of what was playing on the TV. From his perch on the other bed, he could see the way her eyes flicked back and forth behind her eyelids as she dreamed. Her left arm was laid out across the bed, her fingers grasping at the covers and pulling them into her fist.

Cocking his head to the side, Ci'tde trilled aloud. The female's forehead creased, her brows furrowing together. Her lips moved, but no sounds escaped the flesh that covered her teeth. Standing, Ci'tde walked over to her bed and knelt down beside it to get a better look at her while she slept. It didn't look very restful to him.

A whimper escaped her and Ci'tde pulled back at the strangled noise. She sounded like she was in pain. Reaching forward, Ci'tde brushed back the bangs that had fallen over her forehead and covered the mark he had given her. Her left arm twitched at the feel of his talons tracing the mark. A sigh escaped her and the tension in her body seemed to melt away. Trilling, Ci'tde removed his hand, only for her to latch onto it and stop him from pulling away.

"Celtic," the name she had given him four years ago fell from her lips in a whisper. It was a plea, but Ci'tde didn't know what she was asking of him.

He straightened to his full height and pulled away from the female, her hand falling from his arm. Flexing his hand first, he shook himself as if that could shake the ghostly imprint of her fingers on his hide. But like his scars, his hide tingled from where her hand had grabbed him, almost as if he could still feel her touch there.

Grunting, Ci'tde shifted forward and, lifting the female's arm out of the way, climbed onto the bed, finding it much too soft for his liking. He had to move her right arm, lest he crush it with his weight, and managed to only pin it with just his left arm as he lay on his side next to her. This is a much better position, he concluded. He could see her much better at this distance and it seemed her expression had softened.

Elaina sighed in her sleep, her body shifting closer to his body's warmth. Before he knew it, she had him rolled over onto his back and her head was pillowed on his shoulder with her left arm draped over his chest. Ci'tde felt heat scorch him from where her body touched him and his cock twitched with interest. He stared down at the top of her head, only able to see the one side of her face now, but he had a clear view of the mark on her forehead. Tilting his head to the side, he could see the necklace he had given her nestled between her mammary glands. He trilled at the sight of it there; it thrilled him to know that she had liked his gift.

What would Skl're think if he walked in on them? Ci'tde found that he did not care what his brother would think if he caught him holding the small female. He did not understand his brother's blatant disapproval in his interest of the female.

Ci'tde never told his brother that he had accepted her claim over him. After the way his brother had reacted to his inquiry about female oomans, he had known to keep that little bit of information to himself. This female had claimed him as her mate and he had accepted it four seasons ago, even if he hadn't understood what it had really meant back then.

Whether what Skl're had said about ooman females was true or not, this female had reclaimed him again here in this room by accepting his gifts and showing interest in his scars. And against all his teachings and against his brother's warnings, he had accepted her claim over him once more. She had not pushed him away when he placed his hand on her chest, but had accepted it.

Elaina belonged to him, whether she knew it or not.

AN:A huge huge huge thanks goes out to my beta reader Welcome the Rising Sun, who is helping me with my horrendous spelling/grammar errors. Thank you so much for helping me out with this :) absolutely wonderful! I cannot thank you enough.

Okay so I sort of apologies for the long wait on this latest update for this story. I know it's been forever and I am terribly sorry. For one I wanted to get the revisions all caught up and have this chapter revised before posting, but also- I am regrettably behind in my writing. For that I blame Shaiya as I have become addicted yet again to gaming XD

This chapter is my Christmas gift to you all. I hope to have the next chapter up in January as soon as I finish writing it and its been revised. Thank you all for your lovely reviews. They are truly inspiring.

If you are wondering about Taboo, yes I am planning to add more chapters, I just have yet to write them, but there will be more I promise you this.

Let me know what you think about latest chapter, loved/liked/hated it. Also tell me, what do you think about how Elli and Celtic's relationship is transgressing. I do promise that there will be Lex and Scar next chapter. More than any of you will prolly expect.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays everyone. Take care, have fun and be kind to others.

Inky out