Resisting Maxu: Chapter 5


They’d healed him. Again.

Maxu stared at his unblemished knuckles and gritted his teeth. For the past week, he’d been locked in this damn cell. Each day, he spent his time yelling at the guards, presenting them with his mating marks, and when they ignored him, using his fists to pound against the unbreakable clear barrier in front of him.

He was losing his grip on reality and rationality. Could feel it in his mind whenever his thoughts grew disjointed and confusing. The inability to search for her was tearing at his insides. His skin itched. His stomach roiled. He couldn’t eat. Couldn’t sleep. The only thing that felt better than the constant ache was pain. Like when you smashed your hand in something and the only relief was clutching it as tightly as you could. Pain on top of pain.

The guards had to gas his room every so often, knocking him out so they could heal him before he did too much damage to himself. The only way he could keep track of how much time passed was the holographic clock high in the corner of the room. But even his time unconscious was no reprieve.

Every sleeping moment he was running and running and running after this mysterious female. Her short black hair skimmed the back of her neck, and her hips swayed gently as she walked away from him. But no matter how fast he ran, her slow gait never failed to carry her out of reach. And she always walked away. He could never see her face. No matter how loudly he called out to her, she never turned.

He ran a finger over the bright blue markings swirling around his knuckles. They were distinct from his brothers’. Three of his siblings had them now, and they were all slightly different.

His oldest brother Theo’s markings were curlier and a bit darker than his. Thicker too. Luka’s were slim, without as much movement. More precise, though not geometrical. Auzed’s were similar to Luka’s in design, but they were thick like Theo’s.

Maxu’s swirled over his knuckles in small spirals, then circled his fingers as if he were wearing rings on each digit. They then curled down to his forearms and wrapped around his wrists in thick bands.

Would she like them? His body stirred. The reminder of her brought on painful, aching stabs in his gut and a cold sweat on his skin.

The urge to claim her. To see her and inhale her and taste her was driving him mad. His sparse cell was in shambles. The small cot that’d been bolted to the wall was now ripped away and lay in a mangled pile.

His smell permeated the air, since he hadn’t even had the mental energy to bathe. His hair was shaggy and greasy, and all he could do to forget about the sickening gut feeling of being trapped in this room was to rage. To let his Traxian side free. So he did.

He picked himself off the floor where he’d crumpled when they’d filled his room with sleeping gas, and flew at the wall. He hammered his fists against the glass, and when he heard a crack in his hand, he threw his body at the glass wall instead, roaring with each battering ram of his shoulder. The wall only shuddered and made his bones reverberate with the percussion, chattering his teeth.

The growl in his throat rumbled out on each deep exhale. His chest heaved, and a new layer of sweat dirtied his week-old clothing.

An image of Metli popped into his head, and fury exploded through him. He ran into the glass as fast as he could, and rather than stumbling away on impact, he hit it so hard that he bounced off and lay sprawled on his back, his shoulder warped at an unnatural angle.

He stared at the ceiling before sliding his eyes closed. Nectar and spice. He sniffed, trying to conjure her scent, but only smelled himself and the grime of the room.

“I’ve heard you’ve been making quite a fuss.” A calm, smooth voice he recognized floated to him. He bolted upright and stared through the glass at the regal, stiff posture of the Queen.

“Let me out,” he growled.

“I’d like to have a conversation first.” As if on cue, a guard rushed over with a plush black velvet chair. Without looking at the guard, she sat, spine as straight as ever.

A chat? He could barely remember what day it was. Images of black hair and the delicate curve of a neck were the only things he could focus on.

The Queen didn’t wait for him to nod his ascent, though. “You recognized one of the humans on my tour?”

He’d told Metli as much. The Queen would already know his answer. Despite the irritation in him and the pain flaring from his shoulder, he ground down on his molars and nodded.

“Who?”

If only he knew who. He shook his head. “I only smelled her and caught a glance. She had short black hair. Not very tall. Slender, if I had to guess.”

Suddenly, every bit of his focus was on the Queen’s face, scanning, examining, searching for any hint of recognition. He didn’t need to study too hard. As soon as he described the female, the Queen’s brows rose and the corner of her mouth quirked up. “I know who you mean, and I believe you may have a challenge on your hands.”

Before he knew he’d moved, he was at the glass, pressing his hands against the smooth surface. “Who is she? What’s her name?”

“Her name is Meg. She’s…an interesting one.”

“Meg.” He rolled the name around in his head and had to quell the purr building in his chest. She was so far away. His body could sense the distance between them. Told him constantly that he wasn’t close enough through pain.

So why, then, did merely hearing her name calm the queasiness plaguing his gut for a second? He waited, his breath caught in his throat, for the Queen to continue to tell him anything else about his mate. But she didn’t.

“What will you do when I let you out?” she asked, surveying him with pursed lips.

In his mind, she’d always been an opponent. He understood why she forced him into the marriage ceremonies every year and why she afforded him so much leeway when he broke the law. It wasn’t because they were close or because she liked him. It was because his genes were good for breeding, and that was good for Clecania.

The Queen, who both carefully and carelessly guided her people.

He couldn’t blame her for it, but at the moment, this cell and the Queen were the only things standing in the way of his mate, and he hated them both. His hands slid down the glass, his palms leaving smears of rusty blood.

“I will find her,” he said simply. What was she expecting him to say? This female, Meg, was his mate. His.

The Queen’s chin tipped up. He could see her thoughts almost as if they were his own. She wanted to tell him how to act. What to do. Who to be, just like everyone else on this damn planet. But he also saw in her lavender eyes that she knew the futility of lecturing him.

“Get yourself in order. Meg will need a delicate hand. She’ll need to be won, not secured or collected or stolen like you’re used to. I suggest you start with a bath and a good night’s sleep.”

“Let me out,” he barked again. She was already standing when Maxu gave a sharp slap of frustration on the glass. “Wait!” The Queen didn’t even flinch at the rumbling of the glass, just turned her head. “Where is she?”

The news of humans traveling around the world, sitting down with members of different cities, answering questions and socializing had caused a spark of excitement everywhere. Excitement and a fervor that could prove dangerous. So, it’d been decided that each city stop on this tour would be randomly selected in a lottery, and to prevent hordes of Clecanians from showing up in great mobs, none of the selected cities had been announced publicly.

If the humans showed up in your city, you were lucky. They’d only stay for a couple of days, and then they’d leave. In and out quickly enough that races from across the world couldn’t swarm. As such, he had no idea where she was. He could, of course, learn where she’d been, learn where she was right now, but by the time he got there, she’d be gone. On to the next city.

“Tell me where she’s going next,” he tried instead when the Queen just looked over her shoulder at him and didn’t answer.

She clasped her hands together behind her back. “You know, Metli pushed for you to be locked up for a year this time. I didn’t even know what had happened until yesterday when the guards came to me, concerned with your deteriorating state.” She held his glare for a second longer. “I’ll let you out, but I won’t tell you where she is. I think your mind needs time to recover first. As you get closer, you should get better.”

A low growl rose in his throat, his skin going icy.

She lifted the corner of her mouth. “Shouldn’t be a problem for you. You’re the male who can find anything, aren’t you?”

Though his growl didn’t ebb, a dark smile spread over his face.

Yes. I am.

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