Challenging saber, p.3
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       Challenging Saber, p.3

           S. E. Smith
slower 1  faster
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  The man kneeling over Taylor would not die so quickly. He sheathed his laser sword at his waist. Reaching out, he grabbed the man by the back of his shirt and lifted him away from Taylor’s unconscious body.

  “Hey, this one is mine…,” the human started to protest before he saw who had grabbed him. “Oh, shit!” The male whispered, paling.

  “Yes,” Saber agreed, flashing his sharp-teeth at the male. “Soco ballast, human! Now, you die… slowly.”

  Saber caught the man’s hand in his when the human tried to strike him. He closed his fingers around the man’s hand and squeezed. He could feel the bones breaking under his grip.

  “No!” The man screamed, fighting to break free. “Help me, damn it!”

  Saber shook his head. “There is no one left alive to help you this time, human,” Saber snarled as he twisted the man’s arm, breaking it with a sickening snap.

  “Why?” The male blubbered. “Why? They’re just a couple of bitches. Why do you care what we do with them?”

  Saber grabbed the male’s other arm when he tried to push him away. His fingers wrapped around the human’s wrist and he quickly twisted it, breaking the human’s other arm. Leaning in, he made sure the human could hear him before he died.

  “A true warrior protects those weaker than he,” Saber hissed out. “This female belongs to me, human. She is not a bitch. She is a fierce warrior who will one day be my Amate.”

  “I didn’t know,” the man cried. “Please, I didn’t know.”

  Saber stared into the man’s eyes. “What did you do when she asked for mercy?” Saber whispered as the sound of fighting faded behind him.

  He watched dispassionately as the man’s eyes widened when he realized there would be no reprieve. He released the human’s broken arm and wrapped his hand around the man’s neck. With a quick twist, he snapped the bastard’s neck before tossing the male’s body to the side.

  Stepping closer to Taylor, he knelt down beside her and carefully drew her torn shirt closed. He could see the steady rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. His fingers trembled as he ran them over her temple and cheek where a fine line of blood stained her skin.

  He tenderly ran his hands down over her body, checking to make sure that she didn’t have any injuries that would prevent him from picking her up and carrying her back to the transport. Confident that it was safe to move her, he slid his arms under her and rose back to his feet.

  He was shocked by how little she weighed. Turning, he glanced over towards Dagger who was holding Jordan. He watched in concern as Jesse turned on her heel and started to walk away. Gazing down at Taylor’s pale face, he couldn’t help but think she looked incredibly young and fragile. She also needed immediate medical attention. He strode over to Hunter and Dagger.

  “Get them to the transport,” Hunter ordered, glancing at Taylor’s bloody and bruised face with regret. “I will meet you there.”

  Saber glanced at Jesse’s stiff back as she walked toward an alley opposite to their entrance onto the scene. “She won’t come willingly,” he warned.

  Hunter glanced at him before he turned away. “I would expect nothing less from her,” he muttered as he walked away.

  Saber glanced one last time at Jesse before he turned and strode back toward the transport. He would let Hunter and Dagger worry about the other two sisters. His main concern was for the one in his arms. She was his world, whether she realized it or not.

  “Goddess, help me,” Saber muttered as he carefully palmed the transport platform open. “Something tells me I am going to need it before she is old enough to claim.”

  *.*.*

  Saber stood inside the medical unit once again, only this time it was on the warship heading toward Rathon. He refused to stay outside when Carp had asked him. Instead, he paced back and forth waiting for Carp to finish his examination of Taylor.

  He stopped when Carp stepped back from Taylor’s side. His gaze flashed to the tablet Carp was frowning at before returning to the healer’s face. He scowled when Carp didn’t immediately look up.

  “Well?” Saber demanded, clenching his fists in an effort to not reach out and snatch the tablet out of Carp’s hands. “Is she going to be alright?”

  Carp looked up and nodded. “Yes,” he replied with a deep sigh. “I don’t think I will ever understand why the human males treat their females like this. I must admit, I am glad we have left their world.”

  “So am I,” Saber admitted. “When will she wake up?”

  “I’m awake,” Taylor grumbled. “It’s kind of hard to sleep with you pacing back and forth.”

  Saber immediately stepped around Carp and walked over to the bed. He stared down at Taylor. Carp had healed most of the bruising, but there was still a small discoloring. He started to open his mouth, to ask her what she and her sisters had been thinking, before snapping it shut when her eyes filled with tears.

  “Don’t cry,” he grunted out as a feeling of panic began to rise inside him. “Don’t….” His voice died when the first tear escaped to course down her cheek. “Shewta! You are trying to rip my heart out, aren’t you?”

  He sat down on the side of the bed. In the background, he could hear Carp quietly leaving them alone. He opened his arms when Taylor sat up. A deep sigh escaped him when her shoulders began to shake with her silent sobs. He awkwardly patted her back before he lowered his head and tightened his arms around her and rubbed his chin against her hair.

  “Jesse… Jordan,” Taylor sobbed.

  “They are safe,” Saber murmured. “Why did you leave? You were safe at the compound.”

  Taylor pulled back to gaze up at him with watery eyes. He reached for a tissue on the tray next to the bed and held it out to her when she sniffed. He waited as she blew her nose and wiped her eyes.

  “How were we supposed to know that?” Taylor asked stubbornly. “I heard Hunter say that Jesse was his Amate. I don’t know what that is, but it doesn’t sound good. We were going to try to head up to the cabin.”

  Saber gently raised Taylor’s chin so she was forced to look at him. An amused smile curved the corner of his lips when she wiggled her nose at him and gave him a slightly suspicious glare. His thumb ran tenderly along her lower lip. He raised an eyebrow at her when she tried to bite it.

  “Still trying to bite me, little one?” He asked with a soft chuckle.

  Taylor’s lips twitched. “You bet, old man,” she retorted before falling back against the pillow. “I’m tired,” she admitted with a huge yawn. “So, Jordan and Jesse are okay?”

  Saber nodded, seeing the pleading look in Taylor’s gaze. “I swear on my honor as a warrior,” he promised. “Sleep, my little warrior. I will look after you and keep you safe.”

  Taylor rolled onto her side and gazed around the room with a frown. She rolled back over onto her back and gazed up at him. He could see the confusion in her eyes.

  “Where are we?” She asked in a hesitant voice.

  Saber reached over and tenderly brushed her hair back from her face. She relaxed back onto the pillow at his touch. Something told him that watching over her was going to be a challenge to not only his patience, but to his control as well.

  “We are on the Star Raider,” he murmured. “We are returning to Rathon, where my home is.”

  “Oh,” Taylor whispered before her eyes began to droop. “That’s kind-of cool.”

  Saber watched as her eyelids slowly lowered until they created two crescent moons against her pale cheeks. Within minutes, her breathing had deepened and he knew she had slipped into a deeper sleep. He glanced toward the door when he heard Carp pause outside of it.

  “Good luck, Saber,” Carp replied with a slight grin. “I have a feeling you, Dagger, and Hunter are about to discover a battle that will take all your skills to win.”

  Saber glanced back at Taylor’s relaxed face. Carp was probably right. One thing Saber knew, it was a battle he planned to win.

&n
bsp; Chapter 4

  Several months later, Saber stood in the shell of the home he was building. It had been a long and difficult journey back to Rathon. His lips twisted. If he thought that being around Taylor was difficult on board the warship, it was nothing compared to having her all to himself here in his home.

  He walked over and stared out of the opening to the overgrown courtyard. His thoughts were on Taylor and the home he wanted to finish for her. She liked the garden at Hunter and Jesse’s house. Once the house was finished, he would work on creating a similar garden for Taylor.

  They had only been on his home planet of Rathon for a month and he could already feel the strain of being so close to Taylor, yet not being able to touch her. The fact that she was clueless of her effect on him only made the situation worse.

  His eyes closed when he heard the familiar sound of the air bike she had talked Hunter’s father, Scout, into giving her. Drawing in a deep breath, he turned just as the front door opened. For a second, Taylor’s figure was silhouetted in the doorway. Saber swallowed when he felt his body’s immediate reaction. Taylor was filling out in all the right places now that she was eating on a regular schedule.

  She had recently celebrated her sixteenth year of birth and he swore her breasts had blossomed a full size as well. At least, it looked like it from the top she had on. His eyes narrowed dangerously.

  “What the hell are you wearing?” He demanded.

  Taylor paused at the entrance to the living room and grinned, turning in a circle before dipping into a deep curtsy. The mischievous grin that was permanently glued to her lips when she was around him lighted up her face. He couldn’t help it. He really tried to keep his eyes on her face, but shewta if they would stay there. A silent groan escaped him when he realized that she was fully unaware of what was running through his mind.

  “Do you like it? Hunter’s mom, Shana, made it for me,” she said in excitement. “It’s been so hot lately and I was telling Shana about the halter tops that I used to wear and she had me draw out what one looked like. Yesterday, she took me shopping. She helped me pick out the material and she made it last night.”

  “That is nice… but, where is the rest of it?” He asked in a strained voice.

  “You sound just like Hunter,” she replied in disgust.

  He studied her as she stepped into the room and dropped her backpack next to the unfinished wall. The groan that he had kept silent a moment ago escaped this time when he saw her long, tanned legs as she walked toward him. While her shorts weren’t short, they were glued to her hips and thighs. If they were any tighter, he’d be able to… Another groan escaped him before he could smother it.

  “Hey, it isn’t that bad,” she said with an easy grin.

  His eyes flew to her face as she stepped up and wrapped her arm through his. She stared around the room before she focused on the overgrown garden. Saber began to recite the Trivator code of ethics when she curled her fingers around his hand and squeezed.

  “What isn’t so bad?” He asked in a hoarse voice.

  “All this,” she said with a wave of her hand. “Between the two of us, we can kick butt. What are we working on today?”

  “The walls in the bedroom,” he said.

  Great! He snarled to himself. It is obvious where my mind is at the moment. She’s only sixteen. She’s only sixteen. I promised Hunter I would give her until her twenty-first year. That’s only another…

  “Shewta!” He muttered in defeat.

  Five more years! I’ll never survive, he thought to himself when she turned and bent to pick up the bucket of tools that he kept by the door for her.

  “You’re just being an old fuddy-duddy. Come on, I’ll rub your muscles afterwards if it helps,” she teased.

  “I’m not an old fuddy-duddy,” Saber muttered.

  His eyes immediately went to her ass as she walked down the hallway. His body throbbed with need. It was going to be a long afternoon.

  “How is your schooling going?” He asked in a gruff voice.

  The smile on Taylor’s face faded and she shrugged. “Okay, I guess,” she mumbled. “At least I have Charma’s grandkids going there, but they are in different classes,” she told him, referring to Hunter and Jesse’s housekeeper’s grandchildren.

  Saber watched in concern as she placed her bucket on the floor and pulled out a painting wand. Her cheerfulness had evaporated at his question. A scowl darkened his face and he reached over and took the wand from her hand before she could program it.

  “Tell me,” he ordered, staring down at her with a look that told her that he wasn’t going to take ‘nothing’ as an answer.

  Taylor pursed her lips into a pout that made him want to bend down and kiss that look right off her face. Of course, he didn’t. He just really, really wanted to.

  “It’s just… I just don’t fit in,” she whispered as her bottom lip trembled and tears filled her eyes.

  Panic hit Saber hard. The teasing Taylor, he could handle. The furious Taylor, he could relish. The crying Taylor? Now, that was enough to overwhelm even the strongest warrior’s defenses. He started when she suddenly stepped close to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. He swallowed and wound his arms around her as she pressed her cheek against his chest.

  “Why do you feel like you don’t fit in?” Saber asked in a soft tone.

  “The teacher is talking about all this technology that I don’t know about. Heck, I’m still trying to learn the language,” she sniffed. “He was asking questions about the different planets in the galaxy and specifics about the species. The only one I knew even a little bit about was the Trivators and he didn’t ask about you guys. Then, the math class! Oh my God! I’m so stupid when it comes to math,” she groaned. “I hate it, and the teacher there was talking about all these equations and theories and other crap. The only areas I’m any good at are the physical training and science classes.”

  “You are not stupid,” Saber growled under his breath. He stepped back and slid his hands down her arms to hold her away from him when she tried to hide her face again. “Taylor, look at me,” he ordered. He waited until she looked up at him before he spoke again. “You are one of the smartest females I have ever met.”

  She sniffed again. “I don’t feel it,” she mumbled in a grumpy tone. “The other girls….”

  “What did the other girls do?” Saber demanded angrily.

  Taylor looked away. “They make fun of the way I talk and how I dress and the way I look. One of them even called me ugly,” she whispered, refusing to look at him. “I punched her in the nose.”

  “She called you… You did what?!” Saber exclaimed, placing his hand under her chin so she was forced to look up at him.

  Taylor’s lips twitched. “I said I punched her in the nose,” she reluctantly admitted. “I was aiming for her mouth, but she turned at the last minute to say some other nasty comment to the group of girls she was with and I hit her nose instead.”

  A startled chuckle escaped Saber. “Did you make her bleed?” He asked in curiosity.

  “Maybe a little,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. “The teacher wanted to know what was going on. One of the guys in the class told him what she called me.”

  “Guys? Since when do they allow the males close to the females in the schools?” Saber demanded with a frown. “It was always forbidden for warriors in training and females to attend the same schools.”

  Taylor shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because Buzz and the other guys aren’t training to be warriors. Buzz said he wanted to go into medical training,” she explained. “I was hoping I’d get suspended from school. Then, I could help you out more. Instead, the teacher complimented me on my defense and told the other girls that such behavior was unbecoming of a member of the Trivator species.”

  Saber shook his head. “You have the right to defend yourself,” he argued.

  “That’s the same thing that Buzz said,” Tay
lor replied with a sigh. “He’s started helping me with some of my classes. That’s why I was late today. We’re meeting every afternoon after school for an hour and for two hours on the weekends.”

  “He… You are meeting another male after school?” Saber asked in shock, releasing her arms and stepping back so he could frown down at her. “Where? Is Hunter aware of this? Who is your chaperone?”

  Taylor looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “You’re kidding me, right? I mean, you aren’t serious about needing a chaperone, are you? And, of course, Hunter is okay with it! Why shouldn’t he be? Buzz is super nice and I think it is really sweet of him to not only stand up for me, but offer to help me with the classes I’m having trouble in.”

  “You are not allowed to be alone with another male, Taylor,” Saber ordered in a firm voice. “It is not… proper.”

  Taylor rolled her eyes at him and shook her head. “That’s what Hunter said until Jesse had a talk with him. He’s cool with it now. It isn’t like I’m interested in Buzz in, you know, that way,” she added with a sigh. “Anyway, let’s get started. Talking about school is depressing. I’d rather talk about other things.”

  “What do you mean by ‘that’ way? And what other things,” Saber asked, frowning when she grabbed the painting wand out of his hand and danced away.

  “I meant boys, of course,” she said with a shrug. “Buzz is cute, but I’m not about to blow my relationship with him. I’d rather talk about what new ideas you have for the house. I thought about your idea of putting in a long pool in the central garden. Water features are always nice.”

  Saber’s mind was still stuck on ‘Buzz is cute’. He listened as Taylor talked about the different plants that Shana and Scout, Hunter’s parents, had at their house, before she described the new ones that Bronze, Charma’s Amate, was currently planting around Jesse and Hunter’s garden.

  *.*.*

  A week later, Saber stood in the same spot. He knew that Taylor was on her way. His gaze flickered to the tracking device he had placed on her air bike. After her comment about meeting with Buzz to study, he decided if Hunter wasn’t going to monitor Taylor’s whereabouts the way he should, then Saber would take over those duties.

 
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