Chapter 13

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Her body was swaying.

Back and forth, back and forth the gentle rhythm punctuated by the silent thumps of steps.

One by one her senses fired up, connecting with each other before sending the messages slowly back to her brain. Cold droplets of rain hit her exposed neck and slid down her face. Her head was at a weird angle and her neck was extended. How odd and uncomfortable.

Her body twitched just as she heard the familiar sliding sound and the rain on her face suddenly disappeared.

Opening her eyes, Izara stared up at the dark ceiling of the pod. The grip under her back and legs came sharply into focus as she tilted her head and stared up at the strong profile of the yautja. He was holding her. No, worse than that, he was carrying her through the rain.

Again her body jerked in his hold as her thoughts began to whirl. Memories began to flood back at once: the yautja calling out his blade as he blamed her for the deaths of Deon and Shane. He had tried to kill her.

Shifting again in his arms, Izara braced herself as the yautja complied with her wordless demands. She half expected him to just let her go, letting her fall like a bag of rocks to the floor. But he surprised her. Lowering his left arm, he let her legs gently fall to the floor even as his right arm kept her firmly supported beneath her back.

And thank the stars he did too. Her head pulsed with what felt like lightning behind her eyes. Spots dotted her vision as she tried to blink. Holy space nuggets, what happened to her?

The yautja's arm did not leave her back as she leaned heavily against him trying to think past the storm in her head. She had been running through the jungle, running from him. She had gotten to the other side of the island, where she had seen the cave-like recess in the cliff. But that was it. That was all she could remember, just the sound of the churning sea and the thunderous orchestra of the monsoon above before her world went black.

Closing her eyes tight, Izara willed her head to stop pounding and tried to ground herself to this moment. The feel of the yautja beneath her fingers as she leaned heavily against his chest was strangely comforting. He was so warm and solid, like very solid. With his tough scaled hide and his absolute stillness as he allowed her to gather herself against him seemed almost unreal. Though, the steady solid thumps of his heart beating deep within his chest reminded her with each beat that this was very real.

Unsteadily, she took a step back. Izara could feel the tightness of her skin but didn't bother glancing down. She knew she was covered head to toe in mud and grime. She could feel it weighing down her hair, crinkling and cracking around her eyes as it dried on her skin.

Carefully she stepped back until there was about a yard between her and the towering yautja. She watched as his bright eyes caught sight of the long blade in her hand--his blade. Deftly she had pulled the weapon from him, its twin still dangling on his belt.

The eerie clicking sound rose from his chest as he eyed her steady hand holding the blade pointed at him.

Blearily she stared at him and spoke in a steady voice. "Are you going to attack me?"

His bright eyes seemed to take her in and Izara imagined the pitiful sight she made. Drenched and caked in drying mud from head to toe. It made his deep "no" in response not that much of a shock. She still let out a humorless laugh.

"What?" She held up her other hand in a shrug all the while keeping the blade in her other hand steady and pointing at him. "No longer interested in killing me?"

She followed his small, beady eyes as they slid from the tip of his stolen blade back to her.

Could he see the tremble that she was working so hard to keep at bay? Somehow she knew he could.

Again he gave a deep, "No."

Outside, further away now, thunder crashed. The holographic screen, which had been dim this entire time, lit up and they both read the alert for strong incoming wind. On cue, the pod began to jostle ever so slightly. Turning just her head, Izara looked over her shoulder to look at the viewing panel. Outside the large palm trees which seemed so sturdy and unyielding during the day bowed in the violent wind, their branches flapping madly against the ship.

Turning back to the yautja, he seemed unfazed by the monsoon outside and kept his steady if not bored gaze on her.

Exasperated she shook her head, lowering the sword just a few inches. "Aren't you going to say anything else? Can't you even tell me why-"

"You did not fight back like you should have," his deep voice cut her off.

A crease formed between her brows as she tried to make sense of his words. That didn't make any sense.

Izara lowered the sword completely. "I don't want to fight anybody," she began, "and...and I don't know why you accused me of killing..." Izara licked her suddenly dry lips, ignoring the taste of dirt. She couldn't say the guys' names not after seeing what happened to their bodies and remembering that gruesome scene. "Them," she said instead. "I just want to survive until we're found. Survive in peace," she added. "Can we do that? Without you trying to kill me?" By the stars, she was so damn tired. Each word seemed to drain her but she managed to stand her ground and stare down the youngblood until he finally gave her a small nod.

Relieved she sank to the floor, the strength in her legs completely used up for the day. With her face pressed against the uncomfortable metal floor, she felt her body relax even as she eyed the hunter across the octagonal space. He sat in his usual meditative position.

Around them, the ship occasionally creaked as the wind picked up outside.

Sleep was only a few breaths away when the words tumbled from her lips. "At least tell me your name," Izara said. "If you change your mind and you do end up killing me in the night, I think I should know the name of my killer."

Pure fatigue pulled relentlessly at her eyelids until there was no force strong enough inside of her to keep them open. There was only the silence in the room and the howling wind outside.

Finally, the hunter spoke. One word, one syllable for a name.


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