February 17, 2013 by Vee Villarreal
Lunchtime was closing in on them as the hot afternoon sun rose high in the sky and Patrick and Kai’s shirts were soaked through with sweat. They had been working on raising the frame for a new school building since early morning without break. Once the frame was level and constructed enough to stand freely, they put down their tools and headed toward the Big House for lunch. He and Patrick were deep in conversation about the fishing as of late and where it’s been good when the palm of Kai’s hand struck Kopi in the chest, stopping him in his tracks. Patrick shouted out in surprise and began to question why they’d stopped in the middle of the walk way, complaining that he was too hungry for these games. Kopi on the other hand saw the reason for Kai’s hesitation almost immediately when he looked up toward the shaded porch of the Big House.
In front of the door, Reggie stood shaking hands with a lanky, shaggy-haired man about Kopi’s age. The doctor was smiling and looking as cordial as usual and the other man was grinning right along with him before he turned, walking down the short steps and heading up the path toward them. The scene was not so unusual except for whom the doctor had been entertaining that morning. The thin man, a Mutant, was known to Kai and Kopi, though they had thought he was still far away in the South Pacific sector, where he’d retreated several years ago with his cousin. As they approached the Mutant’s eyes locked on Kopi’s and he leered, a slow and sly grin that spread across his face and darkened his eyes. That look chilled Kopi’s spirit; a feeling he’d almost forgotten was reborn and unnerved him greatly. The men remained silent until he passed their group, eyes never losing focus on their target. Kai turned in closely so that only Kopi would hear him.
“Cyrus? What is he doing back here?”
“And where’s Caster I wonder?” Kopi chimed in absently. As he considered that thought, he looked around them, but in the open expanse at the front of the estate he saw no one else near them.
“He was talking to Dr. Harding, do you think Caster’s was too?” Patrick interjected their ponderings and Kopi considered this.
“No, Cyrus has always been the brains; he would want to impress Reggie. Caster makes an impression, but not the intellectual kind. No, Caster will be close, but he’s not here.” Kai was worried, that much was obvious by the deep furrow in his brow and the distant tone in his voice. Kopi knew his assessment was correct, but he couldn’t help focusing on the skin-crawling sensation that someone was watching them, someone dangerous.
Seeing them on the path, Reggie remained on the porch and greeted the men heartily. They were polite in their responses, but too troubled to say much else as they filed in the house for lunch.
“Why the long faces, gentlemen? Was lunch not up to its usual caliber?” Reggie greeted them brightly as he walked into the dining room. Kai was busy clearing the table and Kopi and Patrick lifted up from their conversation at the doctor’s entrance. Kopi threw a wary glance to his brother, who just shrugged in answer to his silent question. Kopi cleared his throat loudly and brought his eyes to level with the doctor’s.
“What did that man want here?”
“Who?” The doctor studied their faces each in turn; Kai stopped clearing plates and steadied himself for confirmation on the other side of the table, closest to the doctor
“Cyrus. The man we saw leaving here on our walk up. You shook hands with him before he left. What did he want?”
“Yes, I see. You mean Mr. Thomas.” Reggie seemed relieved that now they were on the same page.
“What did he want, Dr. Harding?” Kopi tried to maintain a smooth tone, but the doctor had to know what he was getting into by dealing with the Thomas’.
“Kopi, with all due respect, my dealings with Mr. Thomas are none of your concern.” Reggie spoke with the authority of an academic, use to dealing with rowdy students not militants and men of violence. As much as he might like or admire the man, Reggie didn’t understand who he was dealing with. Kai rested his hand on the doctor’s shoulder.
“Reggie,” Kai’s voice was calm, but equally concerned. “Cyrus is very dangerous. Trust us in that, whatever he’s asking you for, there’s another reason for it.”
Reggie looked from Kai to Kopi, who returned his glare with an equally stern one and the doctor stiffened. “He came looking for employment. He said he and his brother were new to the zone; that they’d heard word of our project and came to Zone 17 for work.”
“Brother?” Kai turned his attention to his own brother. “Caster is here then.”
“Yes, Caster Thomas. You know them then?”
“They’re more like cousins and they’re not exactly new to the area, just returning. You said he asked about work?” Kopi could see Kai’s face fall, they couldn’t let Caster and Cyrus get a foothold in the zone again.
“Yes, I offered Cyrus a job as a groundskeeper. I was actually going to ask you, Kopi, if you needed any extra help for his brother-er, cousin.” Reggie quirked an eyebrow at the men as if trying to deduce what was afoot.
“No! You can’t let them work here, Doc.” Patrick stood quickly, his chair sliding noisily across the floor behind him.
“Would someone please explain to me the grudge you all share against these two men.”
“Cyrus and Caster are from here. We all grew up together, including Cyrus’ sister, Ava, who still lives here in town.” Kai began to retell the story, strategically cutting out the more sensitive details. Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t seem to buy it.
“None of that explains why they shouldn’t work here.” Reggie folded his arms over his chest and repositioned his stance.
“Cyrus lied to you, that doesn’t bother you at all?” Kopi interjected.
“You mean does it bother me that Cyrus made his cousin out to be his brother, no not particularly. Perhaps he thought I would have more sympathy for brothers, and as to the fact that they’re not really new to the area, I don’t know why he didn’t mention it, but I suppose he has a good reason.”
Kopi slammed his fist down on the hardwood table in frustration. “You’re damned right he has a reason.”
Before they could continue there was a loud knock at the front door.
His lips were hot and ravenous as they devoured her eager mouth. His breath trailed our her neck as his body pinned her against the cushions of the sofa in Jaxon’s office. Soft lips brushed against her warming skin. Summer pushed her palms gently against his chest.
“Ah, Jaxon, wait.” She felt caught between the moment and her senses. “Jaxon, please.” Summer pushed harder. Her lover steeled his advances for a moment; sitting up, flushed and panting.
“What’s wrong? I thought we were just getting to the good part.” He smiled cunningly and leaned toward her ready to pick up where he left off. Summer pushed back laughing
“I’m serious, Jaxon. Don’t move so fast.” Seeing Jaxon’s expression fall Summer fumbled to soothe his ego. “I’m sorry, I just need more time.”
Sighing, Jaxon sat up. “We’ve been seeing each other for two months now, how much slower do we need to go?”
Summer worried her bottom lip as she sat up too. “I know, but I’m not ready yet. You understand don’t you?”
Jaxon groaned, but reluctantly his lips quirked into a smile. “Yes, I suppose. You will be ready soon though, I hope.” He leaned in expectantly at that and Summer giggled.
“Yes, I think so.” She kissed him. “I promise it’ll be worth the wait.”
Jaxon licked his lips, hovering just inches in front of her face. “I know it will be.”
Their kissing quickly heated up again, but this time they managed to keep it vertical. A ranch hand interrupted them, peeking his head through the crack he’d opened in the door.
“Sir, we just got news from the Harding Estate over the comm.”
“And?” Jaxon always was curt when their dates were interrupted Summer couldn’t help, but smile to herself at the lilt in his tone.
“The Thomas boys are back in the zone. Thought you’d want to know, sir.”
“Thank you, Roy. You’re dismissed.” The hand left, closing the door behind him. Summer turned to face Jaxon, whose demeanor had turned more regimented in the few seconds since they’d been disturbed.
“What’s up? Who are the Thomas boys?”
“Just some persons of interest.” Jaxon sighed again, not in frustration, but in resignation.
“Soo…what now?” She leaned against his shoulder, bumping into him playfully.
“Well, it looks like I’ll be paying your folks a visit.”