Monday, July 27, 2015
The Fugitive Pair - Chapter 1
< Epilogue Chapter 2 >
Months have passed since Matt and Michelle rescued Matt's parents from space pirates—the events are chronicled in The Fugitive Heir (the title under which The Adventures of M&M will be published). So, how goes life with the most famous newlyweds on Draconis?
Every sense was on high alert as I walked down the path. My eyes scanned everything before me. My ears strained to hear everything behind me. My nose sought out strange and out-of-place odors wafting through the trees. All of my senses concentrated on the task at hand—yet I fought to keep my empathic ability focused on rooting out malicious intent. And it was a major struggle.
My mental filters slipped and slid around in my mind, knocked askew by random sights, sounds, and smells. Once even slightly out of place, unwanted emotions intruded on my thoughts—the simple joy of a gentle breeze on a face, the first gnawing of late afternoon hunger pangs, or casual lust at the sight of a pretty girl.
Wait! I had no pretty girls in my field of vision. I brought my filters back under control and zeroed in on the lusty thoughts. I spotted the guy sitting on a bench about ten meters ahead of me. His gaze wandered a bit but always swung back to look behind me. Concentrating hard, I slammed all of my filters back in place then quickly pulled out the filter for menace.
And that’s when I picked her up, sashaying up the path as pretty as you please and looking like nothing more than a girl enjoying being out and about on such a lovely day. But I knew she was on the prowl, with me playing the part of the prey. I couldn’t begin to guess what she planned to do to me—empaths only pick up emotions, not detailed thoughts—but knowing who was targeting me gave me the advantage.
I slowed down and turned my gaze up into a tree but kept my psychic attention trained on the girl. Judging distance based on emotional feedback isn’t easy, but I’ve been practicing. I waited for the slight uptick in the intensity of the girl’s emotions heralding the change from intent to action.
I never caught the change. Something hit me in the chest with a quiet pop. Looking down, I found red paint splattered right over my heart. Looking up, I saw Jonas, head of my security detail and my father-in-law, watching me over the barrel of a paint gun from thirty meters away.
“You’re dead, Matt,” Jonas called, walking toward me.
“Do I at least get partial credit for picking up Michelle coming up behind me?”
My wife’s arms snaked around me and hugged me from behind. She rose up on her toes and breathed into my ear, “I’ll give you some credit tonight—but I don’t think Daddy will cut you the same slack.”
Michelle was mostly right.
“You can’t be partially dead so you don’t get partial credit.” Then Jonas relented and gave a nod. “Still, you’re getting better. I was surprised when I realized you’d managed to pick up Michelle coming up behind you. It looks like you’re getting better at holding your filters in place.”
I wanted to accept that little bit of praise, but we were working on potentially life-and-death skills. I shook my head. “Not really, Jonas. My filters slipped and I picked up a few random emotions,” I pointed at the man sitting on the bench, “such as Tendack’s as he ogled a pretty girl.”
Michelle crossed her arms and turned a glare on Tendack. “Fantasizing about the boss’s wife, Tendack?”
The man on the bench reddened slightly but grinned into Michelle’s glare. “No, ma’am. I was just sitting here in the park watching for pretty girls. Imagine my surprise when the first one to walk by turned out to be you!”
“We’re still on the estate grounds, Tendack,” Michelle growled, but her smile took all the menace out of it.
“Anyway,” I continued, “since I couldn’t see any pretty girls, I knew Michelle had to be sneaking up behind me.”
“Sneaking?” Michelle protested. “I was just watching your cute ass.”
“So I concentrated my ability behind me and picked up my beautiful-but-deadly wife.” I met Jonas’s eyes and shrugged. “So I didn’t exactly pick Michelle out of the crowd on my own.”
Jonas surprised me by bestowing a smile on me. “You’re downplaying some good work on your part, Matt. You used the information around you and read the situation fairly accurately. The problem came when you concentrated entirely on Michelle and missed my approach and my malicious intent.”
Jonas turned and waved in the rest of the security team, signaling an end to this training session. “So, not exactly great on your part—you did end up dead, after all—but not bad, either. You’ve made some real progress over the last eight months.”
I shook my head. “It just seems like it’s coming so slowly. I mean, I went from holding my ability in check to finding Michelle floating in space in a matter of minutes!”
“Life and death motivate us in ways training just cannot simulate.” Jonas wrapped an arm around Michelle’s shoulders and gave her a quick hug. “Given the choice, I prefer the slow and frustrating approach to training you. After all, someday my daughter’s life might depend on your mastery of those psychic abilities.”
I slipped an arm around Michelle’s waist, trapping her between us. “Me too, Jonas. I just wish I was making better progress.”
Jonas released Michelle and studiously looked away from the two of us. “Mentioning progress, have you managed to figure out how you’re able to broadcast your emotions to Michelle when…Ah…”
“When we’re making love?” Michelle piped up brightly. When Jonas didn’t respond, she said, “Okay, not the phrase my father wants to hear from his daughter. Maybe you’ll like ‘having sex’ better?” Jonas’s cheeks actually reddened slightly at that and Michelle’s grin turned wicked. “Not that, either. Hm, does that mean ‘screwing’ is out, too?”
I took pity on Jonas and interrupted Michelle. “I’m sorry, Jonas, but learning how I project my emotions to Michelle during our most, um, intimate moments takes concentration—and my concentration is on Michelle and not on what my ability is doing.”
“And it had better stay that way, babe,” Michelle added.
“I know what I’m asking is difficult, Matt,” Jonas replied, the red fading from his cheeks. “God knows I remember when Magda and I were newlyweds. I wanted to please her so much—”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Michelle cried. “Daughter present who doesn’t want to hear about her parents’ sex life!”
Now it was Jonas’s turn to grin wickedly. “What? After your list of phrases, I’d have thought—”
“You thought wrong, father dear, and I’ve grown tired of this topic.”
Jonas lifted his hands in mock surrender. “Okay, Michelle, you win. So, I guess I shouldn’t suggest Matt try projecting his emotions to you as part of foreplay?”
“Jonas, dear, are you torturing our daughter?” My mother-in-law, Magda, was dressed to the nines and standing in the doorway to our house. It used to be the guest house, but Mom and Dad gave the house to Michelle and me after we rescued them from pirates.
“Are we running late for our dinner date?” Jonas checked the time. “Besides, she started it.”
Magda shook her head. “I haven’t heard that excuse since the two of you held tickle fights when Michelle was six.” She held up her watch and tapped it. “Our reservations are in one hour, all three of you need to shower and change clothes, and this little house only has two showers.”
Michelle took my hand and led me off toward our bedroom. “No problem. Matt and I can shower together.”
As we disappeared into the bedroom, Magda sighed. “I’ll call the restaurant and tell them we’re going to be late.”
My mother-in-law was right. We were late.
After their previous adventure, Matt and Michelle have more than earned a few easy days like this one. Can these days last for very long? Find out more in Chapter Two of The Fugitive Pair.