I won’t keep you waiting considering the cliffhanger last week! Enjoy my dear readers! And as always, you can catch up on the previous chapters HERE.
“He what?” My voice came out with an inhumanly feral sound, more of hiss than actual words.
The numb apathy that’d deadened me for so long came alive with a snap, the restraint on my emotions gone. All rationality fled from my mind as rage colored my vision. I rocketed to my feet, the icy chill in my veins surging toward white hot wrath.
They’d blamed me. Told me it was my fault she was dead.
I was going to kill them all. Vengeance would be mine.
Kit grabbed me from behind as I moved convulsively for the door. “No, Aiyla. They’ll deny it or worse, simply kill you.“
“I don’t care!”
“But I do,” he said, hands clamped on my shoulders to turn me to him as I struggled. He leaned his forehead against mine, a conflict of his own going on behind his eyes. Despite my attempting to get free, his grip on me refused to falter. “Look, I know what you’re feeling. I feel it, too, but you can’t let your anger get out of control.“
“Let me go!” I snarled, thrashing to get free.
“They killed my wife and daughter!”
I froze as the agony of those four words registered in my brain; as did the plaintive anguish on his face. He looked down, admitting in a rough voice, “Someone told them she was with the Forge and they…”
He gritted his teeth, his eyes flashing up to mine. “The Hacienda put a bomb in my wife’s car to make a statement. They didn’t care if she was really with them at all. And she wasn’t. She… she couldn’t even bring herself to swat bugs, let alone fight in the rebellion. They blew her up along with my two-month-old daughter.”
My heart broke for him, seeing his pain. “I’m sorry.”
“You can understand why I came in here expecting to hate you,” he admitted, eyes on fire. “But you’re just another victim, too. Anyone who gets close to you can see it.” He swallowed hard and looking away, pushing on my shoulders to force to me sit. “Now calm down. Raging does no good. I would personally know, having spent five years like that myself.”
I sank down on the couch reluctantly, this news like a dose of cold water in my face. He made an exasperated sound in the back of his throat before heading over to the minifridge. Coming back to me, he plopped a yogurt in my hands. “Now eat. You’ve had enough trauma for one evening between the horny bastard and now this.”
As he hovered over me, I politely took a few spoonsful. With the way he was fidgeting, I was fairly sure that Kit hadn’t planned on divulging what’d happened to his family to me. Considering he scarcely looked older than me, he must’ve been married very young. With the loss of a daughter and wife, I couldn’t imagine the suffering he’d been through.
“No wonder the Lynx hated me…” I put my head in my hands. “He assumed I was in on these murders.”
“So did I,” Kit growled under his breath, pacing in front of me like a caged tiger. “Don’t doubt that Haynesworth isn’t aware of how your aunt died either. In Infierno, he’s the poster boy for atrocity. Anyone suspected of being with the resistance is shot point blank; no mercy.”
The news that Ryan wasn’t as squeaky clean as he liked to portray himself wasn’t a surprise, though the depths of his treachery to me personally was a shock.
The real question on my mind, however, was the man before me.
“If you thought I was in on their deaths, then why did you come back?” I asked, sure my eyes were as wide as saucers. “Why compete for me?”
Kit turned to me, his silhouette illuminated by the lamp behind him leaving his face hidden in shadow. He hesitated for a minute, not expecting the question. “Because when I saw who you really were… I guess I have a bad habit of wanting to save people. That and I haven’t felt much besides anger since my family died. But with you…”
He knelt next to me on one knee, looking directly into my eyes. “In your eyes I can see the same pain I live with every day. Maybe I was looking to spare you or maybe I was looking for someone who could understand. I’m drawn to you. You make me feel alive. That’s the truth.”
In those cherry wood eyes, I could almost drown. There was a war of emotion there; pain mingled with hope. Before I could speak, he looked down and nudged the cup in my hands.
“Your snack is melting,” he said, trying to steer the discussion away from himself. As I took another small bite he sat on the floor, drawing his knees up to his chest.
“Can you tell me more about the resistance?” I asked softly.
That question seemed to please him somehow. “There are three factions warring here: the government, the official uprising known as the Forge and then the people who don’t particularly support either side,” he said, keeping his voice low. “The ‘official’ resistance leaders don’t have the people’s best interest in mind. They’re funded by the more nefarious groups of the city: drug dealers, gangs, etc. They just want more territory.”
The sound of disgust that came from him echoed my own feelings. “The third smaller group shields the people from the conflict. The general idea is to provide a buffer between the two forces consuming Dejado Atrás, protecting the less fortunate.”
He nodded, acknowledging the question. “If you can call them that. They’re stuck between the Forge and the Hacienda.“
“And it’s the side you’ve chosen, isn’t it?” I whispered, low enough for only him to hear.
If anything, he seemed startled by my insight. His eyes rested on me warily. “I’ve met the Lynx, per say. We have much in common. Is that a problem?” As I shook my head, he visibly relaxed. “Good. As for your aunt, you should know that we’ve never rebuilt her house. We planted a garden with fruit trees there to keep her memory alive-“
“I want to help,” I blurted out, no longer able to keep it in. The idea of breaking free and exacting retribution was consuming me; cracking all my fears and replacing them with a bitter desire for justice. “Bring all this down. If they did that to Lola and to your family-“
Kit’s brow furrowed with concern. “You need to think about this.“
“Don’t need to. I’ve been living this lie long enough. Can’t do it anymore,” I murmured, the spoon clattering against the cup as my hand shook. “The idea of continuing to live with those who murdered her…”
“And you won’t,” he affirmed, placing a steadying hand on mine. His eyes were filled with a solemnity that frightened me. “Even if it kills me, I’ll help you.”
A shiver ran through me, even though I knew the offer was just a figure of speech. I could only see his death coming closer and closer, whether via the Tourney or otherwise. And perhaps my death was coming as well. I would rather die than continue to let things continue as they were.
The trouble now was the danger hovering over the city. No matter how the rebellion was sided, the citizens would continue to suffer. And it seemed like there was no way to improve the situation. Undermining the Hacienda would only result in a possibly even worse government being instated.
The only thing I could do was try to do what the vigilantes were attempting. Keeping those trapped in the city as safe as I could.
“Then where do we begin?” I asked slowly.
His lips twitched despite the gravity of the situation, sitting next to me and tugging me so that I rested against his chest. “With you getting some rest. The last thing I need is Lola’s ghost kicking me in the ass for keeping her beloved niece awake.” He sighed with a fatigued chuckle. “But it is fun to think she might go haunt Haynesworth for trying to bed you. I could get on board with that.”
Kit just held me as I snuggled into his arms, enjoying the warmth he brought me. “Sleep mi vida. Everything will look better in the morning. You’ll see…”
My my my… Miss Aiyla certainly has made quite the turn around this week. Guess you’ll have to wait until next weeks to see what happens next!
A note: Also, feel free to share these chapters with your friends and fellow readers! I was asked last week by a dear reader if she could she share it. The answer was a definite yes! You can share these pages on social media no problem. The copyright is merely to make sure no one publishes Del Muerta as their own work and writing. Hope this clarifies matters!
– All my love,
Author Maggie Lynn
Copyright 2020 Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel