When you're imaging a Maximus style gladiator that looks like Daniel Craig set in a world gone a lot Mad Max you can be driven to distraction. I mean, who wouldn't be? Both Russell Crowe and Daniel have that gravitas which lends itself for you to believe they would have been bad asses back in the day. And when I'm reading there has to be a bad ass. A tortured bad ass. One that is seeking salvation or redemption. I love those kinds of heroes and heroines.
I grew up in a rocky household and life so the idea of being taken away from that is appealing too. To be protected when it seems like the gods are always conspiring to bring you down. And for it to be a man that looks like Russell or Daniel? Even better.
So for Nano when the idea hit it was as Oliver Reed said, rising up like a storm. So here you go, Chapter Two of GLADIATOR-Warning Contains graphic language and sexual situations.
He watched her sleep but could not reconcile his senses to what had happened. His mind told him what he’d seen was impossible. Glowing hands, her eyes burning like fire, her hair billowing out as if blown by a fierce breeze and her body hovering in mid-air. Impossible his mind told him. Yet as she slept he knew what he’d seen.
The last ten years hadn’t been good for him. Frankly they hadn’t been good for anyone. And as the night stretched on he found himself sleepless as he normally was after a match in the Metal Coliseum. He had been bathed or cleansed of the blood of his opponent that covered him. Killing wasn’t something that had come naturally. The only way it might feel right was if he were given the opportunity to murder the men responsible for the destruction of his family.
He walked over to where he’d lain Alexandra and covered her with a blanket. He touched her face, she seemed so vulnerable laying there, it took him out of his ingrained death wish for a moment. The sound of footsteps and metal clanging against metal brought him to his feet. It was Veronica again.
“I see you’ve met her. Tell me,” she said walking up to him, “have you gained her trust?” She ran her finger up his chest and to his chin.
“I don’t know. You’d have to ask her.”
“She seems to be sleeping well enough. Did you seduce her?” Veronica asked stiffly.
“I’m a gladiator. I don’t have to seduce anyone.”
“Oh you don’t?” Veronica said, her lip curling upwards. “Then however did you manage to bed me?”
“My queen you were the easiest of all.”
She went to strike him, but he caught her by the wrist and grabbed her by the throat. “Veronica we know each other well enough to know this has nothing to do with love don’t we.”
She groaned. “If only you weren’t so below my station. We would could rule the world.”
He threw her to the bed and said, “You and your kind disgust me.”
“Darling, lust and power have nothing to do with love and everything to do with the spoils of war. No stop pouting and come join me.”
“Tell me who ordered my wife’s death and my children’s enslavement.”
Veronica stuck out her bottom lip. “Are we really going to play that game tonight? I was hoping after a kill you would be amped up for me.”
“Go fuck yourself tonight Veronica. I’m sure there are plenty of other gladiators who would love the opportunity to sleep with you.”
Veronica’s eyes went dark green and she sat straight up. “You will not speak to me in that tone.”
“I will speak to you any way I like. You and your father may have enslaved me for your enjoyment but I will not dance like the mindless monkey you think I am.”
“Is this about the traitor I put in your cell?”
“No. This is about my life and how your family ended it.”
Veronica slid up against him. “Oh sweetie, you have no idea how bad your life could really be.”
He stiffened and glared at her.
“Just ask her.”
The door to his cell opened and two guards came in went to grab Alexandra. She began to chant and weep and her eyes glowed a defiant amber. Then men froze.
“She’s harmless. Bag her head and put her in the Inquisition Room.”
He closed his eyes and swallowed hard. His every instinct told him if he let her go to that room she wouldn’t survive. The chanting got louder and Veronica went white and she began to gasp for air.
Tristan charged the guards and grabbed Alexandra and, ripping the bag off her head. Her eyes were burning bright. He looked at Veronica. “Release her Veronica.” The color came back to Veronica’s face while he held the guards back with his sword.
Veronica laughed as the light dimmed in the Healer’s eyes and she went limp in his arms. He carried her back to the corner and covered her with a blanket.
“Funny Tristan, I didn’t think you had in you.” Veronica said.
“You didn’t think I had what?”
“The ability to care anymore. For what it’s worth she’s to fight Lucilla tomorrow in the ring. And as you can see, she’s no gladiator.”
Veronica came up to him. “I thought you of all the gladiators might spare me the trouble of martyring her but it seems you have a fatal flaw. You care about the weak.”
“Let me be her second.”
Veronica squealed in laughter. “Seriously? Two women die instead one. You’re more twisted than I thought.”
“What happens if I die?”
Veronica rose an eyebrow. “We’ll deal with that complication if it happens. But you’re the best of the best so I doubt that’s something I’ll have to worry about right now. Come with me guards. Have fun with her. Knowing you’re suffering she may martyr herself.” She kissed him. When he didn’t respond she sighed. “Don’t feel too guilty. You are serving a higher purpose in helping me.” It was everything in him to keep from vomiting.
“Goodnight little sister.”
Alexandra’s eyes popped open and the amber color of hers burned bright. She said nothing but the defiance came through loud and clear. Veronica shivered and motioned for the guards to follow her.
Tristan picked her up and laid her gently to the bed. “Rest up. You’re going to need it.”
He went to lie down on the floor when he felt the gentle touch of her hand around his wrist. “Lay with me.”
Her voice was so soft he almost missed it.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he said gazing at her tenderly.
“If I’m going to die, I’d at least like to know the touch of the person willing to face death with me tomorrow.”
“I’m covered with blood.”
Her eyes were amber and filled with trepidation. “I’m afraid. I’ve lived my whole life that way. I feel the pain of everyone my family has ever betrayed. I hate my family. They want me to die. The only one who ever protected me was my mother. But when father murdered her I had no one. Not even Veronica. I know you don’t love me, and honestly, after what you endured I don’t see how you would love ever again--,”
“Stop. I need for you to stop this I’m afraid bullshit if you want to have a chance to beat Lucilla.” He sat down on the bed next to her. “I don’t know what to make of you. Everything you are makes no logical sense to me. I’m not the best of the best because I’m the strongest or the fastest or even the most skilled. I’m the best of the best because I fight as if I don’t care whether I live or die.”
“No. But now there’s you. And I don’t know what to make of anything.”
“Why did you offer to be my second?”
“Because the only thing I am sure of is I don’t want to see you die the way my family did.”
“My sister will find a way to stack the odds against me. She always does.”
“Veronica is about as soulless as they come.”
Alexandra sat up and rested her hand to his chest and closed her eyes. Her hand began to glow her breathing became labored. His chest began to light up and she began to weep uncontrollably as she had when she’d crawled away from him. She opened her eyes and said, “She doesn’t blame you. None of them blame you.” Her weeping became gut wrenching sobs. “Oh God no.” Her shoulders shook and she trembled against him. “I promise. I promise to protect them all.”
She was staring straight into his soul and not flinching. How much more of this could she take and not break? He gently pulled her hand away from his body and embraced her. “I have to serve my purpose…”
“Veronica’s purpose is bullshit.”
“I serve only the spirits. I have never served anyone or anything else.”
“Then whose purpose were you filling?”
“Your wife’s wish to absorb your pain as my own so that you can stop blaming yourself for her death.”
“I’m afraid that’s impossible. I don’t feel anything anymore.”
She looked him square in the eye and said, “That’s a lie. All those tears, those were yours. Your rage and grief it may be overwhelming to someone like me, but I’ve yet to find a soul I couldn’t mend.”
“That’s arrogance. Sweet. But arrogant.”
“Healing people, in mind, in body it’s who I am. It’s what I do.”
“You’ve never failed, ever.”
Her own pain seemed to dim her eyes. “Only once,” she said softly.
“Who was it?”
“My mother. But her grief, her pain was like yours. I tried so hard. It was how my father discovered my ‘gift’. I might have succeeded too if Veronica had helped me keep my mother safe. But we don’t share the same mother. And she never took to me. Just as my mother opened her eyes my father drove a dagger straight through her heart. I nearly died. I’ve been a prisoner ever since.”
“How old were you?”
“How old are you now?”
“Twenty-one. Well, twenty-one tomorrow.”
“Happy Birthday.” She laughed through thru her tears. He wiped them away. “You’re too young to know about death and pain. You should be in college getting drunk and partying and getting into trouble.”
“I’ll never be that girl. Veronica might have been. But not me. She’s the one who men love. She’s the one women in the mob want to look like. I was always a homebody. At mom’s feet. Helping her with something or another. I would be the girl everyone settled for after the beauty queen was taken.”
“Don’t kid yourself, any man would be lucky to have you. Those eyes, that hair, that face your beautiful in your own right.”
“Thanks.” For a second she just looked at him and said, “I hope if I live through this battle tomorrow I find someone to love me half as much as you loved your wife and children.”
She was so young in that moment. So innocent even in the face of all the evil she had witnessed and been subjected to. And in the face of insurmountable odds she hoped she would live to find love. That was heady stuff to a jaded person such as himself.
He touched her forehead and caressed her face down to her chin. “You remind me so much of her.”
Alex remained still. Her eyes soft and yielding. He brushed her hair over her shoulder and ran his thumb over her lips and she took a sharp breath. He smiled tenderly at her.
“I haven’t ever had a woman like you in here.”
“What do you mean?”
“An honest one. A kind one. A selfless one. And all you really want to be is loved. I’m surprised they haven’t stamped it of you.” He cradled her cheek and she leaned into his touch. “You deserve your first time to be something special with the man you love.”
She pressed her lips to his palm and ran her tongue against his skin. He groaned.
“I may die tomorrow. I want to be with the man willing to be my second and to know his touch. I may not be Veronica when it comes to seduction, but I know I was meant to heal you before I pass from this world to the next. I know you don’t love me, but I know you’ll take care of me.”
“You are nothing like your sister,” he whispered to her ear, “and I am not going to let you die tomorrow. You are going to die happy and old with a family to speak of.”
He was inches from her mouth. Struggling with himself. He never concerned himself with a woman’s virtue before, not even the first time with Hope. They had been young and headstrong and ready to take on the world. And hopelessly in love. This was different. She was no groupie. And she was right, they weren’t in love.
“Tomorrow we go into battle together. Lucilla is one of the best female gladiators. My father favors her like Veronica favors you. They want me to die. I don’t want to die but I’m not afraid of it. The only thing I fear is not fulfilling the one thing I was sent here to do.”
He held her face with his hand and fought his conscience no longer and kissed her. Parting her lips he slid his tongue into her mouth and tasted her. His head began to spin and ran his hand down her side and slid his hand beneath her and up her back. She broke off the kiss with a cry of pain and he stopped. He pulled her shirt off and rolled her to her stomach and found scars and healing wounds from a bullwhip. “Jesus…” he exhaled. “What have you endured all of these years?”
“Fury, jealousy, punishment. Please don’t stop.”
“I’ll kill them,” he said hoarsely. “How can anyone do this to a child, let alone their own daughter?”
“I stopped asking that a long time ago.”
He tossed the shirt to the ground and began to kiss her scars. And she began to weep. It tore at his heart to think she’d suffered this kind of treatment at the hands of her own family. She pressed close to him and it set his skin on fire. He turned her body to face him and kissed again, holding her tight and when he deepened the kiss she sighed into him he only craved her touch more. Her hands trailed up and down his back. He pulled off his loincloth and removed her skirt. With nothing between them he could feel their hearts pounding together. Being with her was intoxicating. He wanted her, needed her, and nothing else would do. He dropped hot trailing kisses at her neck and brought her leg over his hip, and suckled at her breast. She threw her head back and gasped in pleasure.
Her fingers buried themselves into his hair and her fingernails dug into his back. Her touch was unlike being with any other woman before. There was something in her complete and utter trust and need that spoke to a place in a long shut down part of him. It whispered to his hardened heart and closed off soul and asked him to come to her. He rotated his hips and pressed against her clitoris. She cried out and he released her breast and slid his cock inside of her. Instead of stiffening and crying she was gazing up into his eyes and her amber ones were glowing like burning coals on a fire.
He kissed as her pussy clung tight around his thick cock and urged him deeper inside of her. She wrapped her legs around his waist and suddenly her whole body was bright and she sucked his tongue inside her mouth and she arched her body up and he thrust harder and harder until he thought he might hurt her. But as he filled her with long, hot, firm strokes she began to pant and say his name her eyes threatened to roll back but when he touched her face he saw his own hands start to glow and when she looked into his soul, her eyes burning out of control with desire for him he was overcome by the need for his release and thrust one last time and cried out his own guttural orgasm. She began to kiss him as they collapsed to the bed. He was still rock hard for her and as she rolled him to his back she braced her hands to his shoulders and rode him, her breast perfectly positioned so that when he began to caress and stroke them she bucked wildly tossing her head back his name falling from her lips. His world went white as he responded and came without warning. When she fell to him he squeezed her ass and kissed her tenderly. She rolled from him and laid her head to his chest and placed her hand at his stomach.
He didn’t know what was going to happen when they were taken into the ring. But one thing was for certain, come what may, he was going to do his best to make sure they both came out alive.