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Resisting Maxu: Chapter 31

The sun had risen early, already charring his back from its intensity. He’d swept a blanket over them both, but the heat was becoming unbearable. Meg’s body was beaded with sweat. She fidgeted in her sleep more and more until, finally, she woke up.

She ripped the blanket off them, trying to breathe in fresh air but scrunching her nose to find it dry and boiling. Maxu rested on his elbow at her side and swept his fingers through the sweaty, slick skin between her breasts. “I think it’s time to go, unless you’d like to stay a little longer.” He gave her nipple a pinch.

She chuckled, blindly swatting him away. “Please. I need to get somewhere cool.”

He cleaned up as she cursed, trying to get her discarded outfit on over her sticky skin. When she was finally dressed, he whistled to call his old mount, Urio, over from the feast of trees he’d sent her to. Within minutes, his friend was there chuffing and bowing her head, expecting scratches on her neck. He obliged.

She was old now, retired from seeding duty yet still so full of life. He missed her. Maybe more than anyone else. She’d been faithful for the few years they’d ridden together. It’d torn something in him to leave her, but she’d thrived. She’d danced through storms until a stray bolt of lightning had hit her wrong. Then she’d settled, had some pups, and now nested with her mate on a low platform, spending her time munching on minata trees and snapping at her disobedient younglings.

He loaded Meg into the carriage more gently this time. She winced as she sat. Glancing up at his questioning stare, she explained, “Sore.” A light blush stole over her cheeks, deepening the sun-pinkened color a shade.

Maxu couldn’t bring himself to feel too bad. He mounted Urio and ascended. The wind was cold and harsh against his skin, reminding him again of the first time he’d flown. Up here, the wind was alive and visceral. Urio glided on its currents, showing him the unseen life that existed above everyone’s heads.

They landed, and before sending Urio off, Maxu pressed his forehead to hers, promising they’d ride together again before he left.

This platform was one of the many hidden spots in the tower that Maxu had discovered during his time here. Sikthand had shown him many of the secrets of the tower so he could spy more effectively. Both red from the sun and disheveled, Maxu was glad he recalled the hidden routes through the tower walls. He could guide his mate to her room without needing to expose her to any scrutinizing looks.

They meandered through the cramped, hidden walkways until they were at the exit nearest her floor. She let out a small yelp when he pushed her against the wall, surprising her with a kiss before they emptied into a public hallway.

“We’re almost to the room.” She giggled. “Keep it in your pants. I haven’t even brushed—”

A steady pulse ran through the metal walls, making them both freeze.

“What is that?” Meg gasped. “Is it an earthquake or something?”

“A call to action,” he answered with furrowed brows. “They send vibrations through the metal when they want soldiers to assemble, but…there was no storm. And” —he pressed a hand to the wall, feeling the pattern of the call—“this isn’t the right rhythm.”

They’d flown far enough from their spot on the edge of the ore that he would’ve seen any approaching clouds. So, why were they calling soldiers together?

Unease raced over his skin. Meg noticed. “What’s wrong?”

He faced her, thinking fast, and shaking his head at the ground. “Something,” he answered slowly. 

He pulled her in the opposite direction, racing through secret halls and cubbies he’d used while under the employ of the king and arrived at a small crawl space left in the walls of the Guild antechamber.

Maxu was too large to fit into the awkward curled space above, more muscular than he’d been when he’d lived here. But Meg would be able to squeeze up into the right spot and peek out through the crisscrossing spears of metal that provided a hidden view.

“Meg, I’m going to lift you up. See if anyone’s out there,” he whispered. Without hesitation, she nodded, determination hardening her features. If he weren’t nervous, he might have beamed at her. He lifted her by her hips, then switched his hold to her feet until she was leaning against the curve high above, pressed between metal.

Silent minutes passed. He was about to climb up there and bring her down himself when she finally gently tapped at the metal to signal him. Her face was pale, her expression drawn as he lowered her to her feet. “They’re not letting us go,” she whispered.

His brows drew together. “What?”

“I couldn’t hear much and it was only a couple of people talking far away, but I think the king decided to keep the humans locked up here.”


Vrulans weren’t the type of people to make rash decisions. Sikthand wasn’t stupid. He wouldn’t hold a royal contingent from Tremanta hostage for no reason, even if it contained humans.

Meg’s shoulders jerked up. “I don’t know. They didn’t say.”

Maxu’s jaw firmed. He kept Meg close, navigating his way back through the secret maze of passages until they were at the same loading platform they’d left minutes before.

“What are we gonna do?”

“Leave,” he rasped. He dragged Urio’s saddle back from where he’d discarded it.

“Leave? We’re not leaving. What about my friends?”

Maxu had known this would be a point of contention for her. His shoulders stiffened. “I don’t know why this is happening, Meg,” he said, frowning down at her from his full height. “But I do know that I can get you away. Once we get to Tremanta, we can send reinforcements.”

“No,” Meg said, stomping her foot. “They’re holding them here for a reason, and I’m betting Tremanta already knows. What would be the point otherwise? I’m not leaving without them.”

Maxu groaned, sucking in a calming breath. “You’re getting in that carriage and we’re leaving. I won’t hear more about it.”

“No,” she repeated, a small crack in her voice.

He ignored the pain stabbing through his chest, focusing on the saddle instead. She stomped up to him, wrenching at his shoulder until he met her eyes.

“You’re a man who can find anything, right?” she asked, determination tensing her mouth. “That’s what you told me. Well, this is me, your mate, the person you say you’d do anything for, and I’m asking you to find my friends.” Maxu just started shaking his head when she added, “Please.”

He froze, his face lifting to the ceiling, his eyes scrunching shut. With a growl, he threw the saddle against the wall.


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