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Mated To The Vikens (Interstellar Brides Book 8)(9)

By:Grace Goodwin

Rage fueled my courage. I’d let the Corellis scare me into cooperating, doing anything and everything they wanted. Even after my mother was dead and buried, they forced me to smuggle for them. Drugs. Money. Technology. Art. Diamonds. They threatened to kill me, and I’d done what they wanted. I’d cowed down and let them rule me. And for what? All I got out of it was a prison sentence and a one-way ticket to this ass-backward planet. Fuck this.

I pulled back and kneed him in the groin with every ounce of strength I had. “Asshole!”

He dropped like a stone, but wouldn’t release his grip, nearly dragging me to the ground with him. The gun was in his free hand and he aimed it at my face where it hovered mere inches above his own. I grabbed his wrist with both hands and shoved, hard, forcing the point of the weapon away from me. It fired once, the sound like a bottle rocket exploding between us. A white blast of light shot out and pulsed toward the trees.

Growling, he rolled onto his side and tried to push me to the ground, but I held on to his wrist with all my might. I was breathing hard and my feet were tangled in the dress. With my arms busy, I used my legs again, kneed him once more. Either Viken men had bionic balls or his adrenaline was running as high as mine. All the strike did was make him suck in his breath and allow me to come down on top of him where he lay flat on his back. I loomed over him, looked into his dark, angry eyes, but he still had the gun.

“I’m going to kill you,” he growled.

“Go ahead and try, you asshole.” Something inside me snapped, and with it went all my fear. If I died here, so be it, but I was tired of being afraid. Bullied. Used by powerful men who treated me like an expendable pawn. I bent down, sinking my teeth deep into the flesh of his hand until I felt my teeth break through flesh to meat and my mouth flooded with blood.

He howled in pain and pulled his arm away from me, toward his chest and I pushed my advantage. I had no idea where my strength came from, perhaps my rage at the Corellis poured out of me, but I was able to bend his wrist at an odd angle and push down. His arm collapsed at the odd angle and I fell on top of him. The hand he’d used to hold the gun lay trapped between us. I arched my back, trying to keep my body out of his line of fire as I twisted his wrist even more, hoping to hear bone snap.

I heard a pop, saw a slight flare of bright light. Not his wrist. The weapon had been fired.

Had I been shot? For a split second, I panicked, worried my rage and shock would block the pain of my injury. I gritted my teeth and tried to focus on my body, but I felt nothing but the racing beat of my heart as I fought to draw air in and out of my body. I shook, each shuddering breath a struggle as I blinked slowly, trying to understand. Everything felt like it was happening in slow motion and I watched with a detachment I could hardly fathom.

His legs became lax as the fight left him. Beneath me, his body softened as his muscles relaxed. His hold on my arm loosened and his hand slid to the ground. He looked at me with wide eyes, as if stunned. Pushing away from his chest, I grabbed the gun and scrambled backward on my hands and knees, away from him.

The light shining through the uppermost canopy of trees filtered down to dance on his chest, the blood coating the front of his shirt spread in a bright red bloom over the dark green fabric.

So, the Vikens bled red, just like humans.

I watched him fade, the taste of his blood in my mouth twisted my stomach and I rolled to my side as my body was racked with dry heaves. I hadn’t eaten in long hours, and for once, I was thankful for an empty stomach.

Chilled to the bone, I turned away from him and climbed to my feet. I stood on shaky legs and saw that his eyes had become glassy and blank. My heart thundered in my ears but the rest of me felt completely numb.

He was dead. I killed him.

I jerked my head around, left then right, looking for more enemies, more threats. We were in the center of a clearing with only the small building, squat and covered in what appeared to be moss. I turned, slowly, and felt like I’d stepped into a magical forest. Tall trees loomed like skyscrapers overhead, so thick and green I could barely see the color of the sky beyond. The ground was soft beneath my feet, springy with a mixture of moss and thick, lush grass.

I felt as if I'd walked into a Monet painting. I longed to have my paints so I could put the incredible beauty to canvas. It was… perfection. Everything was damp, as if it had just rained. Verdant and humid, sweat gathered on my brow as the sounds of animals I didn’t know chirped and squawked from their hidden roosts. Climbing vines wound their way from tree to tree, and every few inches along their length an exotic flower, larger than my open palm, decorated the forest with vibrant pink and purple, orange and gold petals. Viken was lovely. Colorful. Strangely beautiful and I wanted to paint it all.