The Pridelands 6: Achan's Peace
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by Jade Buchanan
Category: Erotica/Fetish Erotica/Science Fiction
Description: Not all wounds are physical. Achan Steinsson knows that better than most. His first trip off planet had culminated in him being kidnapped and abused at the hands of humans. His family may have rescued him, but his constant nightmares won't let him move forward. Hunter Miles shares a very special bond with Achan. His brother was the one who kidnapped the young Leo, not surprising from a man who had mentally and physically abused Hunter from childhood. The Felidae took him away from that life, but he wants more than anything to be able to move on and express his love for Achan. Tafa Morn came to Felid to visit his cousin after he was injured in battle on Seren, but he never expected to find two wounded souls that needed his particular brand of care. He plans to heal them, touch them and love them... and he doesn't plan to let them go. Can three very different men find love and healing in each other's arms?
eBook Publisher: Changeling Press LLC, 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
33 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [76 KB]
Reading time: 45-64 min.
Hunter stretched, rubbing his aching eyes. They still felt gritty, and he knew he hadn't had enough sleep once again. Achan's cries had woken him in the early hours of the morning, and he hadn't been able to get back to sleep after that. There was just too much moving through his mind.
Hunter deeply inhaled the clean air, and marveled at the view, like he always did first thing in the morning. It was almost like he went back home every night, back to that cramped house in Northern B.C., and then woke up in this strange place every morning. He figured he'd eventually get used to it. Probably. Hopefully.
His new home was night and day different from his old home. The area around Fort Nelson, British Columbia was heavily forested. The mountains stretched along the border between B.C. and Alberta, and wildlife was abundant. His father and brother had been Search and Rescue personnel in their spare time, but Hunter had always gravitated more toward computers. He didn't have any formal training or anything since he would have had to leave home to go to University, and his dad wasn't going to pay for that.
There were a lot of things he hadn't been able to do back home. Not that things were very much different here. Different setting, maybe, but he still felt as trapped as ever, which might explain why he spent as much time as possible outside.
"Morning, Hunter. Did you sleep well?"
Hunter shifted in place, finally noticing the lithe figure he'd missed when he first came out. Rowan was sitting in the shade of one of the trees beside his house, holding a tiny cub in her arms. He knew the little one had just barely been born, but he still marveled at how small she was.
"Morning. Well enough, I guess. You?"
"Little devil kept me up half the night. I think she's teething. Actually, scrap that. I know she's teething. I have the bite marks to prove it."
"Teething already? Man, that just seems wild." Hunter laughed at the imagery. Rubbing his chest, he wandered closer and slid down to sit beside her. Rowan was a fellow human, the first of them to arrive here. The baby in her arms was her daughter, Fiona Gatti. Hunter didn't think anyone knew quite what to expect with her. She had a human mother but her father most definitely wasn't human. "She looks more like her daddy every day."
Rowan's lips curved gently. "He claims she looks like me. I'm not sure if he's trying to tell me I need to wax my upper lip or something. I think she has my eyes, though. Laithe keeps hoping they stay brown and don't turn amber as she gets older."
Hunter studied the cub, currently doing a pretty good impression of a sleeping angel. Her rosebud mouth was pursed, and her tiny tail was curled around her mother's forearm.
"You're not a little devil, are you, sweeting?" Rubbing the back of his index finger against her downy cheek, Hunter smiled at Rowan. "Her fur has a bit of red in it. Maybe she does look like you."
"I don't mind. I kind of like the thought of his daughter looking like him. I haven't said anything to the fuzz butts, yet, but I'm hoping the next one comes out looking like Fahd. He loves Fiona like his own cub, but it would be nice to have a little Fahd running around. I just can't believe how quickly time flies. It seems like yesterday that I met them. I never expected my life to change quite like this."
Hunter knew how she felt. It felt like yesterday that he'd met these guys too. Speaking of which... Hunter stared off to the side where a number of Leo were amassing. Among them was the object of his current frustration.
Achan glanced over at him before quickly looking away. His long, slender tail twitched beside him, the tufted end brushing against his knee. Hunter knew enough about the Felidae by now to know that the tail twitching was a sign of nerves. Or possibly arousal, but he wasn't sure what to make of that so he'd go with the nerves.
In addition to the tail, Achan just happened to possess the softest pelt of tawny fur over his entire body. A darker mane of hair flowed around his head, reminding Hunter of the big African lions he'd seen on nature programs. Liquid amber eyes and the cutest freckles across his cheeks made him seem younger, but his lithely muscular frame more than hinted he was all man.
Not that Hunter paid attention to that at all. Man, he was hopeless. Utterly and ridiculously hopeless.
"Hunt, you think he's getting any better?" Rowan shifted, nudging Hunter with her shoulder.
"Achan. I heard him last night again. I think he might be getting worse."
Hunter sighed. "I don't know. Maybe." He didn't want to think of that. It was partly his fault the guy was having the nightmares in the first place. Not for the first time he wondered if his continued presence here was actually making things worse. He didn't want to leave, but he hated to see Achan like this. The Leo still avoided him for large parts of the time. Hunter was trying not to take it personally.
"Where are your men this morning?" Hunter asked, trying to distract her.
"Oh, they're getting things ready. Some of Fahd's relatives are coming to visit Fiona. Apparently they're pretty excited about the birth so they want to see her in person and pay their respects. At least, that's what Laithe says. All I know is that I'm freaking out that they're going to hate me. It was bad enough meeting all of Laithe's family."
"You've never met Fahd's family?"
"Some of them. Not all, though. Besides, Fahd's all nervous about his cousin being here so that just makes everything worse."
Hunter didn't even pretend to understand the complexities of everyone's relationship to each other, but he was slowly learning.
"Ah, crap. Here we go. How do I look?" Rowan squirmed again, this time accompanied by a wail from the bundle in her arms.
Frowning, Hunter followed her gaze to a small ship that was landing in the far field. He hadn't even been paying attention, but now he realized that Achan wasn't the only Leo in the clearing around them. In fact, most of the ones he knew were milling around.
"Nawra, let me take Fiona." Steely arms came down from behind Hunter and Rowan, neatly removing the now squalling baby.
Hunter glanced up at Laithe, who was holding his daughter in one massive arm.
"Where's Fahd?" Rowan asked, bouncing her knees and jiggling Hunter. Damn, now she was making him nervous. He really hoped this went well for her.
Laithe pointed back to the ship with his free hand, turning their attention to the furry guy now greeting the disembarking passengers.
"Oh shit. Should we be there with him? Crap, they're going to hate me, aren't they?" Rowan scrambled to her feet, desperately dusting off her legs. Hunter hid his grin as she'd probably cut him a new one if she saw it. Following her up, he tried to remain unobtrusive.
"Nawra, it is not possible for anyone to hate you. Calm yourself. It is Fahd's duty to bring his family to us."
Suitably impressed how Rowan melted at the purr in Laithe's voice, Hunter decided it was time to leave them behind. Only, he got distracted by one of the men greeting Fahd with a hug.
Standing head and shoulders above the other man, the newcomer looked close to seven feet tall. His entire body was covered in short, black hair. It was so different from the rest of the Leo that he was used to spending time with. The new guy looked just like Fahd. Like uber-Fahd, if that was even possible.
"Who is that?" Hunter strained his neck to see what was going on.
Rowan leaned closer to him, lowering her voice to a whisper. "Tafa Morn. Jesus, just look at his scars. He's Fahd's oldest cousin, here to meet Fiona for the first time. Apparently he's like the big brother of the family. Everyone else pretty much listens to him because of his experience. Fahd said he was one of the first to leave Seren to go hunting. That was after Fahd had already come here because of his dad, though. The others with him are a couple aunts, uncles and other cousins. I think that's it. There might be a few others that Fahd didn't see fit to mention."
"Hunting?" What the hell did that mean? And now that he was actually looking for them, he could see the scars Rowan mentioned, like a thin patchwork of lines through his fur. How did someone get cut up like that?
Rowan lifted her hand, tucking hair behind her ear. "Okay, quick biology and history lesson here. Pay attention. The Pardus, of course, are normally a sun-dappled cream color, spotted with black rosettes. The rare exceptions are the Morn clans from the south. Their coats are pitch black, with crescent markings nearly indistinguishable from the rest of their fur. Like my big black fur ball, of course. Anyway, Fahd's family is pretty well-known among the Pardus. The Morn clans are more like the Tigris in a lot of ways. Most of them end up becoming mercenaries or bodyguards like Fahd, who protects Laithe. And Fahd's father does the same for Laithe's father."
Laithe snorted. "You sound like you know more about us than we do, Nawra. Although, it is not just the Morn clans who become bodyguards."
Ignoring her mate, Rowan continued in a whisper, "Tafa is a big-shot warrior. Frankly, he scares the shit out of me, and I haven't even met him yet."
Hunter was about to reply when he suddenly noticed they were now the centre of attention. Looked like he didn't have to be curious much longer. Fahd and his cousin were headed right for them.