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Cornering Carmen
Author:S.E.Smith
Synopsis:

Dragon Lords of Valdier Book 5, By S.E.Smith 

    Chapter 14

    Carmen placed her hands on Creon's cheeks and pulled his head down to hers.
    She pressed her lips against his; kissing him deeply before pulling back, out of breath.
    His eyes were blazing with desire as he stared down at her.
    “I heard you the first, second, third, fourth…” she couldn’t go on because he was kissing her again.
    It had been two weeks since they left Valdier and they were no closer to finding Vox than they had been before.
    The mining area they visited first was abandoned by the Antrox but they had not taken everything when they moved on.
    The Antrox had left an old man and one young boy behind when they left.
    Carmen's heart went out to them.
    They were human.
    They had been taken over four years before from Earth.
    According to the account Creon gave her, the man was no longer considered viable as he could not produce enough work each day to justify his food.
    They had been left with only a few supplies and one young Pactor too lame to work.
    The old human said the boy was his grandson.
    The boy had escaped, hiding in the tunnels so he couldn't be separated from his grandfather.
    From what the old man told Ha'ven and Creon, the boy had been responsible for taking care of the Pactors.
    Creon reluctantly broke the kiss and leaned his forehead against hers.
    “Perhaps you can speak with the old man and the boy today.
    It might make life more comfortable for everyone.
    The boy wouldn't leave the Pactor in the mines.
    He refused to come out of the tunnels until we promised he could bring it with them.
    Why he has grown attached to the ugly beast, I'll never understand.
    He has a way with the creature though.
    It follows him everywhere.
    The old man and boy have refused to interact with anyone either.
    The old man has a foul mouth on him.
    He won't let anyone near the boy saying he is mentally unable to understand what is being said.
    He also said the boy was a mute.
    At least, that was the reason he gave for keeping the boy away from everyone.
    He refused medical as**sistance for the both of them.
    Tandor didn't push it as they both seemed fine and the initial scans when they were brought aboard didn't flag any disease or illness.
    Still, they are being very uncooperative,” Creon said huskily.
    “Perhaps they would be more receptive to our as**sistance if you were to talk with them.
    ” “I can try,” Carmen replied, pulling away so she could pull on her clothes.
    “You can hardly blame them.
    Look at what they have had to endure for the past four years.
    They've been ripped away from everything and everyone they have ever known and used as slaves.
    This goes against everything we believe in.
    ” “It has been over a week since we brought them aboard.
    We have tried to as**sure them that things will be better.
    Ha'ven finally ended up sectioning off one of the repair bays.
    The old man, boy, and Pactor are using it as their living quarters,” he said, distractedly watching as she reached for her clothes lying on the floor where he had tossed them earlier.
    “I like you better the way you are,” he added huskily, his eyes glued to her rounded as**s.
    Carmen threw an amused look over her shoulder as she bent over to pick up her pants that he had taken off of her.
    She bit back a chuckle when she heard him groan loudly.
    It was becoming a bad habit of his to try to keep her nak**ed.
    She was learning that if she wanted to leave their living quarters on board the Horizon, she'd better do it before he got out of the cleansing unit or she wouldn’t make it out until much later.
    “What level are they on?” Carmen asked as she slipped the pants on.
    “First.
    .
    .
    come here,” Creon demanded huskily.
    Carmen laughed as she picked up his shirt and threw it in his face.
    “No, if I do neither one of us will be leaving.
    I thought you had a meeting with Ha'ven and were going to talk with your brothers.
    ” A heavy sigh was the answer to her reminder.
    “Shit! I forgot.
    You are too much of a distraction for me, mi elila,” he replied at the same time as his comlink sounded.
    “Creon?” Ha'ven growled out in annoyance.
    “Where in the dragon's balls are you? There has been a situation on Valdier.
    Tilkmos, and that damn kid is causing problems again.
    He went after a couple of warriors with a shovel when they entered the repair bay to get some parts.
    We should have just left all three of their as**ses at the mine! The old man is just as bad.
    ” “You go see what happened,” Carmen said as she brushed a kiss over her mate's lips.
    “I'll go take care of the old man and the boy.
    ” Creon reached out and gripped her hand tightly for a moment, looking at her intently.
    “Cree or Calo will go with you.
    I will not take a chance of them attacking you.
    ” She paused for a second, about to argue before seeing he was genuinely worried.
    “Okay.
    Tell them to meet me outside the repair bay.
    ” “Thank you,” he said brushing his fingers down along her cheek.
    “I love you, mi elila, so very much.
    ” Carmen's eyes darkened with emotion.
    She cupped his hand and held it tightly against her skin.
    Tears burned her eyes at the intense emotion glittering in his.
    She could understand it.
    Those same feelings were coursing through her.
    She never thought she would have a second chance and she was afraid something would take it away from her.
    “I love you, too,” she whispered, staring up into his beautiful golden eyes with a haunted look.
    “Sometimes I get so afraid this is a dream and I'll wake up.
    ” He pulled her against him, wrapping his arms around her and holding her tightly.
    “Then, I am having the same dream.
    One in which I never want to awaken from,” he replied gruffly.


    * Creon eye's burned with rage as he listened to Zoran.
    Their mates had been attacked.
    They were able to rescue Abby before she was taken but both Cara and Trisha had not fared so well.
    On top of that, the devastating news that his uncle now had a weapon powerful enough to destroy a symbiot was horrifying.
    Zoran coldly related the deaths of the guards and their symbiots.
    He explained their findings but as yet they were not sure what was powerful enough to destroy something made of pure energy.
    Trelon and Kelan were leading the attack on a Curizan warship Trelon's symbiot was following.
    He would keep them informed as to when they retrieved Cara and Trisha.
    Zoran refused to believe that the two women would not be returned safely.
    “Who took them?” Creon asked harshly staring out the viewport in the conference room.
    “N'tasha was behind it,” Zoran answered in a deadly cold voice.
    “If Kelan or Trelon do not kill her, I will.
    She has committed a hideous crime against her people.
    I want to know every traitor who is in league with Raffvin.
    ” “We are headed to Kardosa Spaceport,” Creon said.
    “Vox was not at the first mining operation.
    It had been abandoned.
    Ha'ven and I have some contacts on Kardosa who may know which one he has been taken to.
    I worry Raffvin may send word to go ahead and as**sassinate him.
    ” “Watch yourself,” Zoran warned.
    “He is getting desperate and if he now has a weapon capable of such atrocities as to kill our symbiots, he is even more dangerous than we originally thought.
    ” “Have you heard from Mandra and Adalard?” Ha'ven asked from where he was seated at the long conference table.
    “They should have met up by now.
    ” “Yes,” Zoran replied.
    “They met up with him earlier today.
    Adalard has an informant who knows where Raffvin's main base is hidden.
    They are traveling to meet up with him.
    If they have a way to stop Raffvin, they will proceed with their attack.
    If Raffvin suspects anything, he will order Vox's execution immediately to inflame his brothers and the warriors of Sarafin.
    We could well have a war on our hands.
    ” “Did you warn Mandra of the weapon Raffvin has?” Creon asked in concern.
    “It is too dangerous for him and Adalard to go after him alone.
    ” “Mandra is aware of what happened and will use his best judgment.
    It may be the only time we have a chance against Raffvin.
    He will not proceed unless he is sure he can defeat him.
    He would not risk his life or that of his mate,” Zoran as**sured his youngest brother.
    “Remember also he is not alone.
    Adalard can be deadly,” Ha'ven said with pride of his younger sibling.
    “He already has a reason to want Raffvin's head mounted on his wall.
    He will stand by your brother.
    ” “Then, we continue on our course to Kardosa unless things change,” Creon replied heavily.
    “Inform me as soon as the women have been rescued.
    I will contact Mandra and discuss backing him up should they find Raffvin.
    ” “Stay strong and fight well, brother,” Zoran said, quoting their farewell during times of battle.
    “You too, brother,” Creon said before signing off.
    He turned to stare at Ha'ven.
    “We need to find Vox as soon as possible and back Mandra up.
    I have a bad feeling Raffvin is going to do everything he can to kill him once he finds out we have joined forces instead of declaring war.
    ” The grim expression on Ha’ven’s face showed he agreed.
    “We will split up on Kardosa and see what we can learn.
    I worry about your brothers' mates.
    If he is successful in killing one or both of them…” his voice faded away as both of them realized the grim possibility that Creon and Valdier could lose two of their most valuable warriors.
    Creon’s jaw tightened.
    “It will not happen.
    Let’s go over what we do know.
    It will help narrow our search.


    * Carmen looked at Cree and rolled her eyes.
    He tried to insist he was Calo at first but finally gave up when she shook her head in disgust.
    It was actually fun watching him try to figure out how she could tell them apart.
    She refused to tell him which just made him even more aggravated.
    As it was, he refused to let her enter the repair bay first.
    “You are under my protection,” he insisted, trying to hold his temper when she just looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
    “Creon said as much,” he added defensively not knowing what else to say.
    “Whatever,” Carmen replied and pressed the control panel.
    “If it makes your big boy britches feel better, be my guest.
    I can always drag your as**s out if you get hurt.
    ” “I would like to show you my…,” he started before biting back a curse.
    “What I mean is…” Carmen almost felt sorry for him… almost.
    “Go on, I know exactly what you were going to say,” she chuckled out enjoying how his cheeks turned a darker red.
    She watched as he moved cautiously into the repair bay.
    He called out to the old man that he had brought a visitor.
    It was only when Cree saw the old man nod to him as he was coming out of the side room set up for their use that he stepped to one side to allow Carmen to enter.
    “I don’t see the boy,” he muttered as she passed him.
    “Keep your eyes out.
    They say he isn’t right in the head.
    ” “I’ll make sure I squeal like a girl if I see him.
    I’m sure that will make him feel better too,” she responded.
    “Smart as**s, he is mute.
    He wouldn’t hear you if you did,” Cree bit out arrogantly.
    Carmen shook her head.
    She wasn’t going to correct Cree’s misunderstanding.
    Mute meant the boy couldn’t talk, not that he couldn’t hear.
    She looked at the old man who was staring at her in concern.
    He moved forward, grabbing the shovel as he did.
    Cree reached out to grab Carmen’s arm and pull her behind him but she ducked and twisted before he could, stepping away from him.
    She gave a warm smile to the man walking toward her.
    He looked to be in his mid-to-late sixties, though it was hard to tell from the wrinkles lining his face.
    His eyes were sharp and he kept his gaze not on her but on Cree.
    “He’s really a gentle pansy,” she said as she stretched her hand out in greeting.
    “My name is Carmen Walker.
    I’m originally from Wyoming.
    ” The man stopped in front of her.
    He kept a firm hold on the shovel but had lowered it down so it rested against his right side.
    He wiped his left hand down along his tattered pant leg before he slowly reached out and grasped her hand in a firm but gentle hold.
    “Cal Turner,” he replied.
    “Me and the boy are from outside Clayton, Georgia.
    ” Carmen let him hold her hand a little longer than was normal.
    It was almost as if he was afraid if he let go she would disappear.
    She squeezed his hand to let him know she understood.
    “Would you mind if we sat for a spell?” she asked quietly.
    “Cree will be a good boy and stay by the door if it makes you more comfortable.
    ” She chuckled when she heard Cree growl softly under his breath.
    “I’d like to show you…” he broke off with another curse and just glared at her back.
    “He’s huffing and puffing, isn’t he?” She asked in an exaggerated whisper and winked at Cal.
    “They do that a lot but they really are like overgrown puppy dogs.
    ” Cree snarled again and folded his arms across his massive chest.
    The door opened beside him and Creon’s symbiot came through the door in the shape of an overgrown Basset Hound.
    This time its ears were exaggerated to the point they really did drag on the ground and it tripped over one of them.
    A soft giggle broke the sound of the repair bay.
    Carmen, Cal, Harvey, and Cree all turned toward it, startled.
    Harvey shook, causing his big ears to fly up into the air around him before he bounded over to the slender shape of the boy half hidden behind a strange creature about the size of a Shetland pony.
    The figure quickly disappeared again before Carmen had a chance to get a good look at him.
    She turned startled when she heard a deep rumbling coming from Cree.
    Turning, she was shocked to see his eyes glued in the direction of the boy.
    His dark gold eyes had flames in them and he looked like he was having problems with his dragon.
    Carmen turned to see what he was looking at.
    He seemed to be focused on the young Pactor.
    Perhaps his dragon thought it was lunch.
    Whatever was going on, it was making it difficult to convince the man standing in front of her he meant no harm as long as he was letting out a low, rumbling growl.
    “Cree,” Carmen called out sternly.
    “Could you please wait for me outside? I promise if I need you, I’ll call.
    I have Harvey with me so I feel perfectly safe.
    ” Cree’s eyes were still glued to the Pactor.
    He was panting and sweating profusely now.
    She had to call him several times before he reluctantly turned his eyes to look at her.
    With a pained look twisting his features, he gave a sharp nod of agreement and left, surprising her.
    “Well, I guess his dragon likes Pactors,” she muttered.
    Turning back around, she shook her head in confusion.
    “Men! I don’t care what planet they are from, I don’t think I’ll ever understand them.
    ” Cal chuckled, lowering his shovel again.
    “I don’t know about you but I could use a hot cup of coffee.
    I couldn’t believe it when they showed it to me.
    I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
    ” Carmen laughed.
    “You and me both.
    Actually, they didn’t have it until my friend, Cara, replicated it.
    She is bouncy enough but by the time she had perfected it I thought they could have powered a dozen warships with her energy.
    ” Cal turned and looked at Carmen carefully.
    “They aren’t abusing you and your friend, are they? You can stay with me and Mel if you want.
    We’ll protect you.
    ” Carmen laid her hand on Cal’s forearm and squeezed it.
    “No, they have never abused any of us.
    In fact, I would be dead now if not for them.
    If you would share your coffee with me, I’ll tell you the story of me, my sister, and our friends.
    It has turned out to be a really incredible one,” she promised, waiting for him to decide if she was telling the truth or not.