After her people disappear, Fiddlestix is left with only Kaz and Harmony. Convinced that the Shine Clan are monitoring them, she hurls insults at thin air, until her men think she’s insane. Out of the woods, a group of huge men appear—not the least of whom is General Deacon Scott, leader of the of the Shine Clan. He’s not happy with her.
“Yes. Is there somewhere else we could talk? More private?”
“Anything you have to say to me, Master Sergeant, you can say in front of my men. You folks may keep secrets from your subordinates, but that’s not Shine Clan way.”
“The men who attacked you are AWOL, General Scott. Their handler, Pete Livingston, decided to walk out with his cyber unit.”
“Anyone know why a man would do a fool thing like that?” This from the dark man to General Scott’s left.
“No one shared that information with me,” Fiddlestix said. “That being the U.S. Army’s way.”
“Jasper, get the lady a stool. I think we’re gonna be here awhile.”
“Yes, Deacon.” He didn’t salute, but he treated the other man with deference.
Returning a moment later, he carried two camp stools. He set one behind Fiddlestix, carelessly brushing the back of her leg as he set it up. She had no doubt he’d done it on purpose, but she didn’t mind. Under different circumstances, she’d have encouraged him. Instead, she sat down and waited for General Scott to speak again. He sat slowly, warily.
“So, for reasons unknown, old Pete decides to go walkies with a bunch of cyber crazies? Has he gone addlepated in the brainpan?”
“Truthfully, General Scott, I don’t know. As you say, we do keep secrets. My general didn’t share that tidbit with me. McLain is playing this one close. I know very little about the circumstances of their leaving.”
“And yet you’re here to help? I fail to see how three people can help me and us at all.”
“I had a few more when I started.”
He didn’t respond.
“I know how to turn them off.”
“Well, why didn’t you say so? Do it, be my guest. Turn the bastards off and let us bury our dead.”
“It’s not that simple. I have to have line of sight with them. It’s a security measure. The receiver is very low range and the mountains drop it to just about nil.”
Deacon Scott’s eyes scanned Fiddlestix from the top of her spiky blonde hair to the toes of her combat boots. He allowed himself to be momentarily distracted by some parts in between. Despite the fact that she was an Army officer, she was all woman. Her tempestuous gray eyes met his confidently. The tilt of her chin and set of her jaw were defiant, challenging him to give her an excuse to kiss him…. He meant kill him. Yes, that was it.
He didn’t let himself linger over her firm breasts and taut thighs, focusing instead on the incredibly powerful cyber arm that marred the outline of her body with a harsh, metallic reminder that she was a deadly and capable warrior first and a beautiful woman second.
“Well,” he said softly. “Supposing I allow you into our territory, what can you offer besides you three and the codes? I don’t see how you’re in any way useful to me.”
“I had a squad of forty-four when I hit these woods, but I expect you know that already.” Her full, pink lips snapped shut.
Deacon nodded slowly, assessing the situation more closely. She was pissed about her people. He couldn’t say he blamed her, but she couldn’t fault him for protecting his home.
“That you did,” he conceded. “So?”
“So? I’d like them back, General Scott. We didn’t come here to cause trouble.”
“Deacon,” Jasper touched his shoulder hesitantly. “We should probably go inside. It doesn’t feel safe out here.”
Deacon’s eyes flickered over to his brother, taking in the concern. Jasper might be several years younger, but he’d be hard pressed to find a better soldier or a more cautious one. Knowing that Jasper’s wariness bordered on telepathic, he nodded slightly. Jasper motioned to the men who surrounded Fiddlestix and her companions, disarming them.
She, Kaz and Harmony allowed themselves to be escorted into the Shine Clan stronghold without protest. Even Fiddlestix said nothing when a man virtually twice her size and circumference attached a miniaturized cyber damper to her arm so she couldn’t activate her weaponry.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes