Celta Thursday, Complete Scene Uncut from Heart Journey
It had turned out to be one of the best parties of Raz's life. True, Del had left after a few dances and a couple of coversations, but when she was with him his blood pumped faster. He hadn't managed to seduce a kiss from her, her eyes were too knowing. She had left without any promises to meet, though he was sure that she felt the same sweet zings of passion that he did.
A very unusual woman, she had made no overatures, had not flirted. Had left him aching with arousal after she'd gone...and had challenged the hunter in him to pursue.
He wasn't the only one she'd danced with. She'd walzed with Johns and they had looked good together, like a study in athletic grace. Damn Johns. He'd nipped Del away from Raz just because they were competitors, but two minutes later was laughing with her. Yes, the hunt was on.
Before the dullness of her absence from the party could set in, he'd received a couple of compliments on his work from people he'd admired, then an agent had hinted to him about a part in a new play by Amberose. Raz hadn't been quite able to show simple casual interest, he'd pressed the man, who had smiled enigmatically, changed the subject, then slid away. Raz had seen him talking to Johns who had gone as impassive as a rock face – a sign he was suppressing excitement. Another thing to compete for.
Raz didn't know which he wanted more, the woman or the part. That was due to the springreen wine. He'd had another glass or two. Almost enough to affect his timing so that he remained too long. He liked to exit an event at the right time – leaving people behind charmed and wanting more of his company.
But now he breathed the soft summer night air as he stood near the steps from the terrace to a side grassyard where gliders were parked. He inhaled the scent of full-blown roses trained over the terrace wall and the heavy air made him yearn for one more whiff of Del's scent. He glanced to the rows of gliders, grinned. He had his own, just like the wealthiest nobles, a gift from his Family. It was parked at the far end of a row, a few feet before a tangle of forest.
With three tuneful notes, he summoned it, saw the blurs of black movement tumble from it as it moved. "Hey!" Raz shouted.
"I told you these damn shields would take to long to breach. Should have just smashed and searched and run." A low voice said, began to swear. The man should have known better than to talk in that pitch.
"We had to disable the stun!" the smaller one said. He muttered something and the vehicle stopped, stand's clicked down.
Raz suppressed his own shout as he jumped over the low terrace wall, grunted as he hit the ground three meters below. The thieves weren't running away. Noise of shattering glass game but Raz didn't waste breath. His glider was shrieking: "My virtue is threatened!" The old-time melodramatic phrase had seemed funny at the time he'd programmed the alarm, but now it fed his anger.
The world of black and white was hazed with the red of his anger. Not this time. His home had been violated, his work area defiled, his property smashed. Putting some Flair into his leaps he bounded toward his glider. The smaller person was inside his glider, rifling it. He heard rips.
This time he yelled as he hopped up on a large, old, Family glider, jumped toward the large man with a flying kick to his head. The man got an arm up, threw Raz off balance. He landed, rolled, came up swinging. His knuckles connected with the man's jaw and he grinned in satisfaction, hardly noticing the sting. The big guy swung back, Raz slid aside, but caught a fist on his left shoulder that numbed his arm. He led with his right and got the guy again, as the man stumbled back, Raz hooked a foot around his ankle and brought him down.
More slashing behind him, he whirled. "Open!" he yelled, realized the doorframe was bent too much to rise. Reaching in, he grabbed at the other thief, caught fabric and did some ripping of his own.
He was yanked back and spun around, jerked his head aside as the big man's hand skimmed his temple. Someone else hit him in the stomach.
There were three!
"My virtue is threatened!" screamed Raz's glider.
"Hey!" someone yelled from the house. The shout was mixed with other car alarms. "Back away, I have stun," from the Family glider Raz had hopped on. His glider had stun, too, why hadn't it?
Grinning he kicked out at the third man, connected. Pounded short jabs on the first man's chest.
"Gotta go!" squeaked the man in the glider. He kicked Raz through the broken window, right into the big man's fist. Pain shot from his cheek through him.
"No!" the first man said. "Get him and hold him." He yelled to the third. "Play-actor too damn much trouble. Who'da thought?"
"Have a problem with actors?" Johns asked, grabbing the third man from the back and throwing him aside.
"I'm gone," that one yelled.
"Won't get your gilt," the big man snapped, panting. He slugged Raz on the left shoulder again. Raz punched with his right to the guy's jaw.
Yelling, the smaller man flung himself on them. All of them went down, Raz, the big guy, Johns. Raz's head cracked against metal, he landed badly on Johns, whose breath went out in a painful whoosh.
"Gotcha!" The smaller man yanked at the larger, dragged him free, and they teleported away.
"Uhhhn." Raz sat up slowly, put a hand to his head. His lip was cut and bleeding and he thought his cheek was fractured.
Johns lay flat and spit out words in short pants. "Sorry. Too late." He groaned and it seemed to take all his breath.
"You did fine." Raz wiggled his jaw, it hurt, too. A dull throbbing came from his temple. "Many thanks, I'm grateful."
Sudden quiet descended except for Raz's glider. "My virtue has been violated," it said mournfully.
"Want to quiet that one down?" rumbled Cratag as he strode over, hand on his blazer hilt as he scanned the trees.
"Alarm stop, Cherry," Raz said, then turned to Cratag. "The thieves got away."
There was a quiet woman's sob – not from his glider. "Oh, my poor baby, I didn't shield you and look what happened, your jeweled timer, stolen!"
"This is a bad thing." T'Spindle, a short, rotund man, said. People cleared the way for him. "Healer needed here!" he shouted, making both Raz and Johns wince.
"Getting my bag!" answered a voice from the direction of the Residence. Obviously the Spindles had a Healer on staff.
"This is a very bad thing," Grandlord Spindle said. His eyes were hard and reminded Raz that the man was of the FirstFamilies and used to playing dangerous politics. Raz's anger eased at the thought that the thieves would truly regret this night. Spindle was easygoing, but he was stubborn and no doubt would make sure the guards on this case were equally stubborn about solving it. Of course Spindle would look at his enemies first.
A large hand curved under Raz's elbow. "Let me help you up," Cratag said quietly, lifted Raz to his feet with ease. The warrior narrowed his eyes. "Looks to me like you need more than stage fighting instruction."
That stung as much as Raz's wounds. He opened his mouth to say something and his lip split. He swore under his breath. "Maybe you're right." He nodded to Cratag as the man stepped away. "I'll think about it."
A lovely young woman rushed close, a Healer's bag in her hands. Johns groaned. She went to him, her hands swept over his chest. She frowned. "I don't sense anything wrong with your lungs."
Johns sat up, smiled crookedly at her. "Just bruises." He tilted his head toward Raz. "You should see to Raz. The three of them got the worse of him."
"Three!" she exclaimed. Her hands continued to stroke Johns, easing his bruises, as he rose to his feet.
"Thanks, Johns," Raz muttered, wincing as his mouth stung again.
"Anything I can do." Johns bowed as the Healer looked on admiringly. Then he glanced at Raz's glider, Cherry, grimaced and shook his head. "That was a real pretty glider, Raz."
The Healer had finally reached Raz. "Broken cheekbone, bad bruise on the temple..." she pressed on his ribs and he yelped. "I think you should come inside where I can treat you." Her voice held the faintest hint of glee, as if her job with the Spindles was pretty boring.
"I'll help him along." Johns was there, crowding a raised-eyebrow Cratag aside and wrapping his equally brawny arm around Raz's shoulders. They hurt, too. Everything hurt.
"That's so kind of you." The Healer beamed approval.
"Let's get you going, friend." Johns tightened his grip.
Raz hissed out a breath, but followed along, fairly steady on his feet, though he felt a little light-headed. He limped. He might have broken some toes. His hands weren't feeling good, either.
Johns actually shortened his stride and slowed his steps. "Thanks, Johns," Raz said. This time he meant it.
"'Welcome. Sorry about you and your glider."
Raz knew that was true. Johns had been open in his envy at Cherry.
"Tell you what," Raz said as they took the steps slowly. "Why don't I ask my Father to get another sportcoupe at cost, sell it to you for the same price."
Johns eyes gleamed. "In blue?"
"The same color as your eyes," Raz agreed as they angled through a door to a sitting room that was furnished in a masculine fashion where blood and grime wouldn't show – much.
"Done," Johns said.
But Raz had a nasty feeling that things had just begun....
The Healer bustled in, ordering others to provide hot water, softleaves...She was small and voluptuous with bright red hair and a smattering of freckles. Johns watched her every move. Raz closed his eyes and wished Del was here.