Authors: Rosette Lex
THE WARLORD’S BOUNTY
(ASTRAL GUARDIANS BOOK 1)
Copyright 2016 by Rosette Lex
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced
in any way whatsoever, without written permission
from the author, except in case of brief
quotations embodied in critical reviews
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any
person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
First edition, 2016
“So what are you up to babe?” Carly’s smooth voice echoed from the other line, disrupting the brief lull in our conversation. I sighed and kicked my feet up on the couch while I aimlessly flipped through the channels on TV.
“Nothing much, just looking for something to watch. I’m about to give up anyway,” I replied in slight boredom.
“Yeah me too…oh hey, turn to the news; they’re talking about
tiger appearance. Apparently, they have a photo now to show for all the rumors.” My eyes widened in piqued interest and I quickly dialed in the channel for the news.
The reporter was speaking rather dramatically about the reported sightings of an almost preternaturally large tiger stalking the woods surrounding our small town of Keene, New York.
“Holy shit, that tiger is freaking
. I can’t believe someone would dare to get close enough for a picture that clear!” Carly’s shocked voice registered a bit of skepticism from me.
“Yeah…that just means it could have been edited. You know small towns are always looking for a town myth. Just to give people something to talk about.”
I squinted at the picture of the large beast poised in a frozen state of movement. He was walking and seemed to look back for the sole purpose of giving the photographer a perfect shot. His eyes were unnaturally blue, the color reminded me of the ocean. The tiger’s coat was close to light orange with the usual stripes one would expect of a Bengal tiger.
“I don’t know…the person who submitted the picture had some real injuries and reportedly barley escaped with his life,” Carly replied, she sounded convinced that the giant tiger was real.
“There have only been three previous reports. That’s hardly enough evidence,” I was still skeptical and frankly ready to turn off the news.
“Now there’s a
Arianna, and the photographer is in the hospital,” Carly insisted that it all had to be true. “Look, they are telling people to be careful because the tiger could be hunting people down for sport.” I rolled my eyes and sighed. There was no hope for Carly.
see it with my own eyes, then I’ll believe Carly,” I said with a chuckle to my voice.
“Yeah okay, if you ever see it, it could be the last thing you
,” her tone was so ridiculously dramatic that I couldn’t help but laugh. Carly joined in on my laughter and the sound of her cackle and snort made me laugh even harder.
“Hey, are we still doing Pilates tomorrow night?” I asked Carly after our laugher subsided. Carly had just come out of her early parenting days after her second son. She needed my help for getting back into shape, which meant making sure she stuck to her diet and exercised regularly. She was doing great and had only about a month until she achieved her goal.
She had been whining about her ‘exhausted fat mom’ days. She constantly groaned about how I was the perfect combination of slender and curvy and how she wished she could wake up in her college body again. Neither her husband John nor I saw what she did in the mirror. Carly wore pregnancy and being a mom beautifully. Sure her curves filled out a bit more, but she was gorgeous and always had that glow about her.
Where Carly was fair and almost ethereal with her porcelain features and big brown eyes, I was a bit more exotic with my Brazilian and Italian features. Sometimes, I thought I was an inch too tall, that my boobs were too big and my hips too wide. Yet those along with my thickly lashed green eyes, full lips, and thick black hair always drew the attention of men.
“Yes of course, you have to ask? I’m so close to my goal Ari, I can’t wait to step onto that scale at the end of the month. You know John is already barely letting me sleep, thankfully we agreed to wait a few more years to have another baby and I’m on birth control. By this point, I think I’d be pregnant with triplets!” I groaned while Carly laughed.
She had a tendency to over share; sometimes I envied the comfort she had in speaking her mind. Today, I had to quiet the tinge of jealousy I felt. I was in a dry spell as far as romance went. Keene was a small town and that had its disadvantages when it came to meeting a great guy you didn’t already know everything about from gossip. I knew nearly everyone and was fairly certain my dream guy was not in Keene. Unless he was cooped up in the woods and I had to take a hike to find him.
“Hey Carly, we should plan a trip to the city soon. I’m feeling like I need a change of scenery. Working at the cafe and seeing the same faces everyday is starting to get to me,” I said truthfully.
“That’s actually a great idea Ari, how about just before Christmas? I think the boys would love to see the Rockefeller Center all done up in lights,” she was already making plans in her mind, I could tell by the tone of her voice. I had to stifle my sigh, I was hoping it would just be the two of us for old times sake, but Carly was a full on mom now and there was no going back from that.
Who would have thought that at twenty-six, she’d be a mom with her own home jewelry business and I’d still be working at the freaking coffee shop. The same one I’d been working in ever since I was in high school. Of course, I went to college for journalism, but in a small town like Keene that paid next to nothing, especially when not much went on around town.
After a few more pleasantries with Carly, we ended the call and I shook my head at the newsreel. People were convinced this giant Bengal tiger was haunting our woods. Tigers weren’t even native to America. I rolled my eyes and turned the television on, I guessed I would just end the night with a mini episode of my favorite show.
My men were convening in the living room for an emergency meeting. The very nature of our discussion that day required my presence. I had to prepare myself for the outrage of the warriors. I was after all going against my own most absolute law.
My race on this planet was comprised of survivors. There were only seven of us and we needed to live in this world without getting noticed by the humans. If they found out there were seven aliens on their planet, aliens who could be potentially dangerous if pushed, the humans would surely use all kinds of weapons of mass destruction to wipe us out.
Our refugee tribe was all we had to preserve our culture and our kind, as we could not leave this planet to return home. Four years ago, I had been one of Voltaire’s top military commanders. We had been in near constant war with neighboring planets in our galaxy. The war was coming to an end as a coalition was made to eliminate the true cause of war. I was tasked with hunting down a particularly slippery group of pirates.
My men and I were highly specialized and trained to follow enemies into any galaxy or planet and destroy them. We had the ability to shift into animals specific to any given planet, though we all had our base animal forms.
The mission was going routinely; we were catching up to the pirate ship as they fled to the Milky Way; we had destroyed them just outside of the Earth’s gravitational zone. The unthinkable happened and our ship was pulled into orbit, soon it crash-landed onto Earth. Only seven of the original fourteen warriors survived, including me. The ship was destroyed and we were marooned on this planet with no way to get back home.
We had to learn to control our urges to shift into our base animal forms, to suppress our primal needs to run, hunt, and mate. We had to avoid anything that would force us to shift without conscious intention. The humans would surely wipe us out and that is what the concern was for this emergency meeting.
All six were present now, three standing and three seated on the sectional couch. I stood off to the side and leaned casually against the wall that housed the fireplace and television above its mantle.
“My lord commander, how could you allow yourself to be
? There is even a photograph of you now. The entire town knows of your existence. You should know better than what this could mean for us,” Josiah was just as troubled as the rest of my men.
I could not blame them or take offense. I knew fully that I was at fault. I saw the man taking my photograph and subsequently tumbling off of the cliff in his hasty backtracking for fear of me.
“I had falsely assumed that his camera was destroyed in his fall. Nevertheless, that is no excuse for my carelessness. I assure you all that my shifting urges are under control. I simply did not take care to make sure I was alone in the woods. It will not happen again, you all have my word that we are safe from the humans. No search parties have commenced; it is simply lore as of now. I can guarantee it will stay that way,” I assured my men confidently and met the gazes of each and every one. There was a hint of skepticism in my closest comrade, Tristan, he knew me too well and could tell when something was wrong with me.
“It was just disconcerting my lord. Never have we let this magnitude of a mistake happen before…perhaps we should look into moving on from Keene? For safety’s sake, after all we have been entertaining the idea of moving into the Canadian borders,” Rayne suggested. I shook my head; a spike of panic unsettled me. I could not leave Keene…not when
“That is not necessary. I assure you all is well. Though we should look into deeper running grounds in case curious humans attempt to try and seek us…” at the near glares of my men I quickly changed my wording.
“To try and seek
out, I wouldn’t want to endanger any of you,” I amended. After much grumbling, the meeting ended and the men filed out in frustration. I sighed deeply and stopped Tristan, my closest friend, before he exited with the rest of them.
“How about a drink, Tristan?” I asked tentatively. Tristan smirked and gave a nod; his gaze though, conveyed just how much he knew I wanted more than to share a simple drink with him.
After the men had left, Tristan and I sat at the kitchen island with a bottle of bourbon between us. One of the things these humans knew how to do well was create good spirits and ales.
“What troubles you my lord?” Tristan took a sip from his glass and I sat back with a sigh. I didn’t know where to begin, well I did, and I just did not know how Tristan would take all of this.
“I’ve found…my true mate Tristan. Here on this planet,” I responded awkwardly. Tristan’s silver gaze widened with shock and a glint of inner light shined in his eyes.
His shock was so intense that his wolf form was being stirred. Tristan’s jaw ticked as he processed what I said. I took the opportunity to take a long drink from my glass.
“Explain my lord, I…cannot fathom how your inner beast could want a
as mate,” Tristan was incredulous, and he had every right to be. During the four-year period, none of us had marked a human female as our mate.
“I saw her two weeks ago at a coffee shop in town. She was working, both making the coffee and serving customers. She is beautiful…ridiculously so and as soon as I set eyes on her, I knew she was
,” I growled the last word, my inner tiger stirred with the need to posses its mate.
“Never have I had an incident where I lost control of my need to shift. I could not help it after I saw her; the first sighting took place moments after that; I was too close to town when it happened,” I admitted sullenly.
“Lord Safir, why have you not acted on your mating instincts then? Simply speak to her, she could not possibly turn you away compared to the other feeble human men in this town.” I shook my head in frustration.
“You don’t understand how she…
me. I can smell her scent even now and she is nowhere near. The urge to mate, to claim her becomes so all consuming that I shift if I do not have steadfast control over the tiger.” I downed the rest of my glass and poured another.
“After first seeing her, I’ve been visiting that coffee shop for two weeks straight. Just watching her, she never notices that I have become a regular visitor; she has not noticed that I watch her constantly. It is better this way though; this way I cannot hurt her. What if we spoke for hours and my need to have her grew so consuming that I shifted before her eyes? She is human, she wouldn’t understand and she would hate me. I would frighten her and I do not want that.”
“Safir, this is ludicrous; she is clearly your mate. She could not possibly turn you away. Put your insecurities aside and approach her, so that you can regain control over your instincts,” Tristan insisted.
She didn’t even know my name, yet in my days of visiting her place of work, I knew much about her.
,” I did not mean to sound like an Alpha Commander, but Tristan wasn’t listening. “She is human; I would not dare force myself on her. Especially without her knowing what I truly am, she would not accept me and I would frighten her. It is as simple as that. I just need to regain my bearings and control the increased urge to shift,” I said with finality. Tristan fell silent and took a sip of his bourbon.
“I understand my lord. So if she were to accept you, would you then claim her fully as your mate?” Tristan’s question was tentative and curious.
“Perhaps, but I do not want to risk anything…like I said.” Tristan nodded and we finished our drinks while exchanging rather mundane conversation.
“I believe you can control your mating urges my lord. I have full faith in you,” Tristan said just before leaving. I gave him a swift nod and bid him farewell as he left.
I glanced around the empty foyer and beyond into the now empty family room and kitchen. I glanced at the time and thought that Arianna would be working by then, the sun had risen and she always worked in the mornings. I would pay her a visit…not that she’d notice me sitting in my corner table while I watched her.
* * *