Even though we only had that ONE time, Sama wound up pregnant with my child. To my everlasting relief, Yadira wasn’t distraught over what happened. She merely told me in an even, very-adult-sounding voice that that happened before we became a couple.
Yadira and I haven’t done anything to try and prevent her from getting pregnant herself, but it hasn’t happened.
Personally, Sama’s delivery was frightening enough not having a midwife in attendance. If I should lose Yadira to childbirth… I don’t even want to consider the possibility.
Sama had a boy, and she named him Zane.
“Rohan!” It’s Asa. “I need to speak to you. Urgently.”
Asa and I have managed to make a kind of friendship work. Mostly, I’ve been training him to fight. He’s getting pretty good, but he has yet to top me when I’m fully on my game. The only time he can manage successfully to defeat me is if Yadira is in the vicinity. My gorgeous wife distracts me constantly.
“Last night,” he begins, “I was standing at the cliff’s edge when I spotted another sailboat in the channel.”
My voice is a gasp. “Fuck.”
Within the past year, I’ve pulled my boat up into a tight cove, but it could be easily viewed from the water if at the right spot. Fuck, I’ve assimilated the ‘no one is going to bother us’ attitude just a little too much from these three. I hadn’t counted on someone showing up this soon.
“Is it still there?”
I’m gasping again. “Well fuck me. It’s a nice one, too.” The sails are all trimmed, and… “Asa, look!” I dart over to the wall and point down at the water. “The V’s. Do you see them?”
He looks. “Is that what I think it is?”
“It is.” People are swimming in the direction of the beach below the settlement. I look further, and I even see that at least one of them holds onto a board to aid them swimming to shore.
“What do we do?”
“Grab your pike. We’re investigating.” My heart races as we run for our pathetic wooden weapons. We don’t tell the women, hoping the crew on the boat is merely looking for supplies. There’s a chance the women would encourage them to STAY, and I don’t want that.
Asa and I sneak down the path. We get about halfway down, and I advise him to stash his weapon somewhere as I do the same. Confused, he does as I suggest.
“Fuck,” I mutter under my breath. Why? Just… WHY? “Fuck and fuck.”
“What is it?” Asa asks quietly.
“I think I know them. They’re good guys, just…” Just I don’t want them here. I now understand why Asa didn’t want ME here. “Just let me do the talking. Watch my back.”
He cracks his knuckles. “Got it.”
I take a deep breath and walk out from our cover, starting toward the immigrants.
The two men immediately break apart, and Vik, the redhead I recognized, urges a woman and child to get behind him. I hold up my hands peacefully and slow my advance.
“Hold the phone!” the man with the brown hair says, taking me back more than a decade with the phrase. “Is that ROHAN?” He laughs. “Hey-ey-ey-ey!” He closes the distance between us while Vik stays where he is.
He grasps my shoulders in a gesture of camaraderie. I sense Asa tense. “C’mon, Rohan. Don’t ya recognize me?”
I look at his face, which is a bit harder to see under all that hair. “Orion?” I should know that bloody-awful thick accent anywhere.
“Yea!” He lightly shakes me. “Where’ve ya been? Here, I gather?” He looks around appraisingly.
This is bad. Orion annoys the fuck outta me. I suppose in the old days, he’d be considered a bit of a hippie or environmentalist. That’s not what annoys me. He’s far too ready to laugh at things. Namely anything I want to take seriously.
“What’ve ye been up to?” he asks, now noticing Asa. “And ye made a friend!” Still with the belittling tone, I see.
He’s only five years older than me, but he’s always treated me like a preteen. Can I punch him now?
“What’s with the beard?” I ask him.
“Do ya know how dangerous it is ta shave in rough seas? ‘Bout damn near cut me own throat just tryin’ ta run the blade across. Seas are calmer here. I’ll get around to it.”
More relaxed now, Vik walks over to us. “Hello, Rohan.” Then he looks like he wants to continue with Orion’s seafaring tales.
“Oy, we had fifty foot waves crashing down on us one night. There was a moment I feared we were all done for.”
Orion turns to Vik with a laugh. “Yer exaggeratin’.”
I chuckle, trying to sound lighthearted, but the woman behind Orion catches my eye.
It can’t be. Why did SHE come with them? It’s Jers’ older sister. She was in a relationship with Reck himself the last time I saw her. And she’s carrying a small child.
She sees me looking at her.
“Hello, Rohan.” I don’t see any anger in her eyes. She’s undoubtedly heard about Jers and what Reck thought. I never got to hear her take on it. Even though my shock still rules my emotions currently, relief also pricks me that she apparently doesn’t blame me.
“Zuri. What are you doing here?” In other words: why are with them?
Vik answers for her. “She was wed to one of the Trags.” He mentions a band of people that more closely resemble a religious cult than a tribe. They coexist near to the Skeeves’ main camp and trade amicably. “And now she’s not,” he finishes cryptically.
Zuri always did have a way for attracting multiple men, so I’m not too shocked to learn that she moved from Reck to an engagement then married then divorced.
Orion gives Vik a knowing look. “They figured out the child wasna theres.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
Vik turns to me. “The child was conceived before the wedding.”
Orion grins and also looks at me. “Rohan, ye havena introduced yer new friend!”
I introduce Asa to them and them to Asa.
He speaks for the first time. “A toddler on a sea voyage? That must’ve been difficult.”
She laughs like the tinkling of little bells. “Oh, not Amina.” She kisses the girl’s forehead. “She loves the sea.”
I don’t miss how Vik reaches up his hand to hold Zuri’s elbow. There’s a certain possessiveness in the gesture.
“So, Asa,” Orion begins, “tell us how ya came ta be here. Were ye alone?”
I interrupt. “Is there anything we could help you with? Are you in need of supplies?” Hint. Bugger off.
Zuri answers, “We’re looking for a new home.”
Zuri puts the child down so that she can play in the sand.
Vik looks at Orion as he explains their story to me, “Reck is out of control. When we left, he was planning an attack on the Trags.”
I stop watching the child for a moment. “Why? There was peaceful trade.”
Orion sighs, for once not laughing. “They’re smaller, so Reck assumed that meant they needed ta be defeated an’ their resources taken. He completely swayed the council.” He looks at me like he wished I’d been there.
“I wouldn’t doubt they’re a thing of the past now.” Vik looks at Amina with a sad expression on his face as she plays.
Fuck! They see this island exactly as I saw it: isolated, hidden. They’re running.
Orion suddenly turns his head.
He sounds like he’s having trouble catching his breath. “Well, NOW I see what ya been hiding.”
FUCK! I hear Sama talking to Yadira behind me.
Asa dashes over to Sama while I do the same with my darling wife.
I hardly know what I’m saying. I wish they had stayed at the settlement, but they must’ve gone looking for us. Dammit. Maybe I SHOULD’VE told them.
“So they’re… Skeeves?” I watch her eyes move, probably landing on Zuri.
“They have apparently run away just like I did.”
“Do they need help on their way?” She keeps looking at all of them, and I want to wilt with relief. She doesn’t want them to stay either.
“That’s what I’m trying to find out.”
I hear Sama. “The baby is sleeping. Stop blocking me, Asa. I want to talk to them!”
I walk past them back to the newcomers.
I decide to have a very pointed conversation with Orion. “We would be happy to help you resupply for your continued journey.”
He chuckles. “Resupply?” His eyes rake my wife as he continues, “Now why would we wanna do that?”
Asa responds to Sama, “There’s really no need. We have it under control.”
Orion takes a step toward Yadira, who is also walking in my direction.
His chest puffs out as he takes a breath. “What we ‘need’… is a home.”
“Orion, let me introduce you to my WIFE, Yadira.”
“So ye went an’ got yerself married.” His eyes don’t leave her, and I wonder who exactly he’s addressing.
Yadira manages a kind of authority in her voice. “This is the sacred island of Haven. Only the gods determine who stays on her shores.”
My head slowly turns in her direction. What the fuck was that all about? I pause and think. No, wait. She’s bloody brilliant. Sama passes her, determined to speak to Vik and Zuri.
I take Yadira’s hand. “May I speak with you over there, please?” I’m sure to keep a tone of respectful obedience in my voice.
“What are you doing?” I keep my voice very quiet. I don’t have to look to know Orion is watching us intently. Or just Yadira intently.
“Well, I thought, given what you told me…” She blushes.
“No, I fecking love it. Why couldn’t we think of this sooner?”
But then Sama goes and ruins everything. “Of course you’re welcome here. You’ll need to build your own housing, but let’s see what we can do for you for the time being.”
Orion chuckles, having also heard her. “Looks like the gods decided.”
btw: I fecking hate writing accents, but sometimes, it’s the best way for you to ‘hear’ what I’m hearing. /sigh Sorry if it’s annoying to read.