Authors: J.P. Grider
A Man of Honor
Fated Hearts Publishing
Fated Hearts Publishing
Jefferson Township, New Jersey 07438
This is a work of fiction.
Any similarity to any person, place, or thing is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Copyright September, 2013
Edited by Sue
by Niina Cord 2013
I don’t normally resort to begging.
But since meeting Honor, I’m doing a lot of things I don’t normally do.
gonna ask you one last time, Honor. Where’s the elixir?”
gonna tell you one last time, Storm. I’m not telling.”
The girl is really testing my patience these days. “Why not?”
“I told you already. That elixir is evil. Literally.”
“No. I won’t. It was made from the blood of murderers, Storm…empaths who killed other empaths just so they could live forever. Until Ethan finds a place to dump it, it’s staying hidden.”
“Well that’s just great.”
Letting out a huge sigh, I jump down from my perch on the picnic table and walk away from the girl who stole my heart…and gave hers to my brother.
“Storm, please, you have to understand.” Her sweet voice sings behind me, but I don’t turn around to look at her.
Instead, I grab the thick limb of the Stevens’ newly budding old Maple tree and yank myself up. Climbing up one more sturdy branch, I sit my ass down and lean against the trunk.
, get down. You know why I can’t give it to you.”
Yeah. She’s told me a hundred times.
If I drink the elixir, I’ll possess within my own soul, the souls of many self-serving, murderous empaths. If I imbibe in the blood-based elixir, I’d not only be able to feel people’s pain and heal them…I’d be immortal.
But at what cost? Honor always asks me.
At the cost of my own honorable soul,
she always answers.
“Storm. Please,” she pleads.
Resisting Honor’s requests is like driving the speed limit on the freeway – it cannot be done…not by me, anyway. I look at her sparkling violet eyes staring up at me, and I turn weak. Honor’s slightly turned-up nose flares just a bit when the corners of her mouth form into a smile.
“Please come down and talk to me. You know it’s only ‘cause I care about you…and stop ignoring me,” she adds, knowing damn well it is impossible to ignore her.
“You come up
,” I challenge.
“What?!” You want me to climb that tree?”
“You can do it.”
I hear a soft
groan escape her throat before I see her pale hands grab the branch below me. Being tall and lean, Honor finds no difficulty in pulling herself up to the strong limb I’m sitting on. Straddling the branch with her long legs, Honor unintentionally causes a stir deep down inside me.
“Now that I’m up here,” the beautiful
princess says to this violet-eyed frog, “will you let me explain why we don’t want you drinking the elixir?”
Please. Ethan doesn’t give a crap what I do.”
“Yes he does,” she lies. “But it doesn’t matter.
care. You know, if you drink it, you won’t be the same. There are evil souls in that stuff. You don’t want to turn…like them.”
I look at her soft, smiling expression, and I want to agree. I do.
But I can’t.
“Do you know what it’s like to not be able to hold someone for more than like a minute, because you’d kill them if you did?” What I really want to say is,
“Do you know what it’s like to not be able to hold you?”
But I refrain. Her compassion would just make her feel bad that she’s in love with my oh-so-great half-brother Ethan instead of me.
“I understand, Storm, I do. Heck, I even
your frustration. But…do you really want more souls living inside you? You just got rid of three of them when you…y’know.”
“I died, Honor. You can say it
, you know. When I died. Go ‘head, say it.”
“No,” she whispers.
“Look. You saved my life. Hell…you brought me
to life. That was awesome. I’m so grateful. And yes…I’m glad your mom, dad, and Summer are in Heaven now. Holding them inside me was a drag. I’d feel
emotions besides my own…it wasn’t fun.”
Honor just stares at me with her empathetic eyes and a crooked sympathetic smile.
“But Honor…it’s not fun knowing I can never hold anyone…never…for God’s sake, Honor, I’m 22 years old and still a…” She can figure it out on her own. I will not say that word out loud. I’ve never even admitted it to anyone else before.
You’re still a what?” she asks.
After staring at her for several long seconds, her eyes grow wide and her face turns red. By golly, she’s figured it out. For such an innocent girl, I’m surprised it didn’t take her longer.
“That’s right. So you see why I want the elixir. If I take it, I’ll be able to heal people…and well, not that I care too much about that…but it’d mean I can actually
a girl without killing her. I could finally hold you,” I whisper finally.
Her face turns a pretty shade of pink while her eyes become a gentle lavender. Though she in
sists she’s in love with Ethan, it doesn’t take an empath to know she holds some type of affection for me. I felt it in her kiss two months ago when we were held captive by the Gaffer’s men inside the icehouse. Her lips may have only contacted mine briefly, but I felt her desire. I just wish
would have recognized it.
“Storm, I’m sorry. That must be terrible…but…” She inhales softly then lets out her breath in five extremely slow seconds. “I’d hate to think what you’d change into. I mean…you’re so sweet now.”
I can’t help but laugh out loud. “Yeah. Tell
to my little brother. He thinks I’m the most rotten corrupt person out there.”
“Don’t worry about Ethan. He’s still trying to get over his childhood anger towards you…I mean now that he knows you didn’t intentionally kill Summer, he’s
to change his opinion about you. Give him time.”
“Oh good, ‘cause I couldn’t sleep knowing he hates me.” I scoff. “Really, Honor, you think I care what that loser thinks of me?
“You’re the loser, Storm,” I hear Ethan say from the ground.
“Leave us alone,” I order, but know full well that he won’t. Honor is his, not mine…unfortunately.
“Storm,” Honor scolds before descending the tree. “Hey,
Eeth,” she says, than gives him a big hug…which really irks me.
doing here?” Ethan asks Honor.
“He just came to talk,” Honor answers defensively.
“Yeah well, I don’t like it.”
“Get over it, l
oser. She’s my friend too, so get used to it.” I need to react to his insensitivity to Honor’s and my friendship.
better get used to
,” he rebuts.
“Will you two stop,” Honor reprimands. “You’re brothers
, for goodness sake. You shouldn’t treat each other the way you do.”
I hop down out of the tree, kiss Honor on the top of her head, and tell her not to forget what I asked her. Then I leave.
“What’d he ask you?” I hear Ethan question her.
“He wants the elixir
,” Honor answers.
ain’t getting the elixir, Honor.” Ethan yells.
I scoff walking out her driveway.
He’s such a loser.
My morning classes are boring, especially because I’d already attended and graduated high
school five years ago, when I talked an older roommate of mine into registering me at the local school. Not that it’s public knowledge or anything. The only reason I’m redoing this lame school thing is to get closer to Honor. Well, my original intent when getting one of my empath associates to forge documents and make me a fake id was to keep an eye on my loser brother’s total lack of judgment in following the legendary Honor Robinson. A big mistake in my opinion, because he totally disrespected the wishes of her birth parents to keep her from danger. In any event, we’re here now and I cannot deny that I am more than happy to have met the pale-haired maiden. Which is why my morning classes are so dull – Honor is not in any of them.
Lunchtime cannot come fast enough for me…even though my irritating younger brother will be there sharing a lunch table with us. It is getting a bit tiresome seeing him everywhere Honor is. But she likes the kid, God help her.
Rushing out of class when the fifth period bell rings, I skip going to my locker in the hopes of seeing Honor at lunch before Ethan gets there. Not only do I
to see her just because, I also
to see her to ask if she’s changed her mind about telling me where the elixir is. I wish they’d never moved it from her basement.
After Honor brought me back to life, her
birth mother had informed her of my little empath DNA glitch – when I feel someone’s pain and try to heal them, I kill them instead.
I mean yeah, it was clear that whoever I tried to help, I hurt, but I never knew why. Now I do. So drinking that elixir would sure help my dilemma. Instead of killing people, I could heal them.
Yeah. Like that’s really the reason.
I just want to touch Honor…for more than a few seconds…without having her gasping for air…and struggling for her life.
I just want to hold her, run my fingers through her ass-length blond hair, and kiss her.
I want to kiss her.
And not kill her in the process.
So, yeah. Having that elixir could certainly benefit me. But damn that Ethan for not trusting me. Damn him. First he gets Honor. Then he takes charge of the elixir. It’s not even his. It’s Honor’s. Her gramps left it for her, and who the hell does Ethan think he is telling her not to give it to me?
Honor tucks her long bangs behind her hair while she waits for her lunch buddies to join her at the table. Taking an apprehensive step toward her, I take advantage of this chance to get her alone.
“Hey, princess,” I say, sitting my ass down across the table from her.
“Oh hey, Storm.” Her smile is big and bright and radiant.
“Did you change your mind yet?” I ask her, hoping she has, though knowing she hasn’t.
“Storm.” I try to ignore the patronizing tone in her voice. “You know we’ve talked about this. It’s too danger…”
“Dangerous. Yes. You’ve said that already.”
“Then why do you keep asking?”
The way her lips wrap around her straw when she takes a sip of her iced tea, causes me to forget completely what we were talking about. All I can think of is pulling those soft pink lips between my teeth and nipping on them.
“Why do you keep asking for the elixir if you know it’s dangerous?”
“Oh…well.” I shake my thoughts back to the conversation. “
said it was dangerous.
“And you don’t think
someone I’m trying to help is dangerous?”
“Who are you trying to help? Who is in
can help them,” Honor offers.
I scoff at that. Like I’d let her put more strain on that heart of hers. She’s already saved too many people from their pain and suffering…and death. Her big heart won’t last much longer if she keeps that up. Besides, I’m not
feeling anyone’s pain right now. Come to think of it, I haven’t felt anything in a while.
“Storm. Who is it? I’ll help them.”
“What’s wrong with you today? You keep zoning out
“Oh. Sorry. It’s
noth…” I stop talking. Ethan is walking toward us. “Well look what the cat dragged in.” Feeling pretty proud of myself for no reason at all, I reach across to take Honor’s drink, and bring it to my lips – sucking it slowly just to get under Ethan’s skin. And of course to put my lips on the very straw Honor just had her lips on – which is also why Ethan doesn’t appreciate the act at all.
“What are you doing here, Storm?” My little brother asks. “You know Honor doesn’t want you sitting here either.”
“Ethan,” Honor whispers. “That’s not true.”
I raise a cocky eyebrow at Ethan and take another sip of Honor’s drink.
“Get your own friends,” Ethan growls.
“But I don’t know how, little brother. Will you teach me how to make friends?” I quip. The mock pout on my face irks the hell out of Ethan, but it gets a stifled chuckle out of Honor. Win!
“Hey, guys.” Tamlin climbs over the bench and sits next to me. A little too close for comfort, if you ask me, but what’re ya gonna do?
“Hey, Tam.” Honor is the only one who acknowledges Tamlin’s arrival. Ethan is too busy brooding, and I’m content tapping my fingers on the table and pissing off Ethan.
Some other kids sit down at our table, but I couldn’t tell you their names…then Hunter shows up. Great. Another little brother. At least this one doesn’t irk me the way Ethan does.
“So, Honor,” Tamlin begins. “You’re really
gonna stay after school with hunky Mr. Moore? You’re so luck…”
“What?” Ethan and I both exclaim at the same time.
While Honor dips her eyebrows towards that cute little nose of hers, Tamlin smirks. “What’s with you guys?” Tamlin asks. “You got something against Mr. Moore?”
Ignoring Tamlin, I turn to tell Honor what I think of Moore, but Ethan opens his mouth first.
“Honor,” he says. “I don’t know about this. There’s something about Moore I don’t like. I…I can’t put my finger on it, but…he gives me the creeps, babe.”
“The creeps?” Honor laughs.
“Yeah. You don’t feel anything from him?” Ethan whispers to her.
That’s when I realize that my own feelings about Moore are not physical feelings but gut instinct. Why am I not feeling anything? Still. Mr. Moore rubs me the wrong way.
“Honor,” I say to her softly. “Don’t go to Moore alone.”
“Why?” she asks.
“What?!” Tamlin exclaims. “You guys are crazy. He’s
nice. Not to mention
.” Tamlin chuckles. “You’re just jealous,” she says to Ethan and me. Then she turns to Honor. “Too bad I couldn’t bring him to the prom.”
Honor chuckles now, Ethan rolls his eyes, and I can’t believe I’m sitting at a high school lunch table at twenty-t
wo years old. If I could just figure out who’s after this elixir…and Honor…I could leave this stinkin’ place.
But then…I’d never see Honor.
High school it is.
Besides, I need to get closer to Moore. The more I think about it, the more sure I am that there’s something about him I need to know.
“Ethan,” Honor says. “I’ll be fine after school with Mr. Moore. I’m sure there will be other kids getting help from him. Besides, it’s school. What’s he gonna do? There are so many teachers still here after three.”
“Yeah. I guess you’re right.” Ethan kisses Honor’s cheek and she blushes…turning a pretty peach color as she does. “I’ll go to my apartment and check in with Uncle Tom. I’ll do some laundry then meet you at your house for dinner.”
You sure your parents still don’t mind my staying in their guest room?” Ethan asks, causing my blood to raise several jealous degrees.
“Of course not,” she says
, all sugary. “They’re happy you’re there to protect me.” Honor scans the room then leans in closer to Ethan. “This whole elixir-Gaffer thing has them worried. So…it’s good. Don’t worry. You can stay forever.” She winks at him, but when she catches my eyes, her face falls flat. It’s almost as if she feels guilty or something.
Guilty of what?
I wonder. Guilty because she
me? One can only hope.
When the first bus bell rings for the other side of town to board their ride home, I take the opportunity to visit my favorite chemistry teacher. Mr. Moore is dismissing his students when I knock on his door.
“Mr. Sutherland, please…come in. I’ll be with you momentarily,” he says, before turning back to his class and reminding them to read their assigned chapter for homework.
After the class disperses, Mr. Moore pushes a few papers aside and sits on the corner of his desk. With a smug smile, he folds his arms in front of his chest and crosses his long legs at the ankles. “So, Mr. Sutherland, what can I do for you?”
“I’m having trouble with the lab assignment on empirical formulas,” I lie, trying to come up with something, anything, to stay in his room. “The one with the iron and…”
“Sulfur, yes. But I’m surprised, Storm,” Mr. Moore says with a weary eyebrow. “You’re a straight-A student. I don’t see you having trouble with
assignments.” Mr. Moore shoots me a silent stare.
“Can you humor me, Mr. Moore and explain it again?”
Moore and I turn to see my sweet
princess smiling in the doorway.
“Miss Stevens, I’ve been waiting for you. Come in.”
While Honor places her backpack on one of the front desks and removes her binder, I watch the way Moore takes her in. There’s a huge void in my chest where I should be feeling something. My usual empathic abilities are missing. Now I am sure of that.
In Moore’s eyes, I see some type of contradiction, which had something not been amiss with my own empathy capabilities, I’d be able to pick up. But my gut tells me he is out for Honor. And I don’t know why.
“Storm, can we do this later, I have a session with another student at the moment.” Moore addresses me.
“Oh. No problem,” I say, while sitting down at the desk behind Honor. “I’ll just wait.”
“I’d rather you not, Mr. Sutherland.” Moore says with clenched teeth.
“Well, Mr. Moore, I’m Honor’s ride home, and I’m sure she won’t mind my sitting here waiting for her.”
Honor takes a quick look in my direction and asks,
with her eyes.
eyes, I tell her to just go along with me.
“It’s fine, Mr. Moore,” she says. “I really don’t mind Storm sitting in with us.”
Boy, I’m relishing in the fact that Honor and I can communicate with no words. Just like we did when we were locked up in the icehouse.
Moore grunts inwardly and sits at the desk next to Honor, moving it closer with his ass, to block my view.
After Honor and I walk out of Moore’s class, she taps my arm with a fake punch. “What was that about?” she asks.
“I told you. I don’t trust him.”
“So you had to babysit me?”
I drape my arm around her shoulder. “No, princess. I was protecting you.”
She chuckles, “From what?”
“From Moore,” I answer, confused as to why she doesn’t get that. “What do you
when you’re around him, Honor. You
She shrugs her shoulders, and I tighten my arm around her. “I don’t know. Sometimes I get those bad shivers up my spine when I’m around him. But mostly,” she brightens her face with a smile, “I feel…happy. Comforted in some way. I really don’t feel threatened at all. I don’t understand why you and Ethan feel differently.”
“I don’t know,” I say quietly.
“Like, shouldn’t we all be feeling the same thing?”
“You’d think,” I say cryptically, getting increasingly worried about why I am feeling nothing but my own emotions.