Resisting Maxu: Chapter 7

Hours. He’d missed her by hours. Maxu wrenched the steel-and-stone doors open, stomping down the steps into the half-buried building his mate had been housed in. For the last week, this had been his life. Racing after some faceless female and arriving just a little too late.

He thought since the location of this tour stop had been leaked to the surrounding cities, he might have been lucky enough to catch her before she vanished, but no. Now all that was left for him was whatever scraps of evidence he could find in her room. Pulse ticking upward at the hint of her scent, his steps quickened. He’d learned which building had housed her by listening in on hushed conversations in the tavern, but he needed no further guidance to figure out which room she’d occupied. The grinding pressure in his chest carried him to a metal door and, without a second thought, he glanced down the deserted hall and started working on the lock.

His breaths evened as he assessed the security of the door. This had always calmed him. Focusing on a task like this. The shot of serotonin he got every time he broke through a puzzle fed his ego and reminded him of who he was. A male that didn’t let anything stand in the way of what he wanted. He pulled out the print of Meg’s hand he’d found on a side table in Sauven—the only other room he’d broken into that hadn’t been cleaned yet.

As the whir of mechanical locks sliding out of place sounded, he thanked himself for deciding to sacrifice a few hours of travel time to infiltrate that lab and print a usable dupe for his mate’s palm.

He slipped inside the dark room and stilled. She was everywhere. Her scent, the ghost of her activity. Gaze zooming around the space, he took in the half-empty drinks scattered on every surface, the rumpled sheets of the bed, and the extra sound orbs floating around the ceiling next to the dimmed lights.

As there had been back in Sauven, the sounds orbs were more plentiful than normal. She must have been adamant about listening to whatever it was loudly to have requested additional orbs in not one but two cities, possibly more. His brows furrowed. What had she listened to?

Taking a chance, he slapped her printed palm onto the controls by the door and commanded. “Repeat.”

Nothing happened for a moment and Maxu assumed the system must have purged itself of its memory already, but then a soft note built in the room. Music. She liked music.

Maxu didn’t usually play music, preferring instead the silence of his home. How would he hear his trip alarms sound if he was blaring music? But something about the gentle yet dramatic notes of the stringed instrument harmonized with the ache present in his chest since he’d recognized Meg.

He lowered onto the blankets that she’d so recently twined herself in and closed his eyes. The throbbing in his chest grew unbearable, so he fisted her pillow, burying his face in it and inhaling until he saw spots. His gut tightened, but not with the usual nausea he experienced as he chased after her.

This was different. He was the closest he’d ever been to her, and his body knew it. Maxu couldn’t decide whether he wanted to tear the pillow up or clutch it to his chest until the pain stopped. It was like his body was sparking. Every powerful emotion he had flashed through him.

He needed to find her. Needed to claim her.

Maxu flipped onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He’d stay here for just a little while longer. Maybe if he did, her scent would follow him and he could imagine he’d wrapped her up in his arms. It would be a few hours at least before he knew her next location anyway.

He cleaned himself up using the foam shower, ate a few scraps from his bag, then collapsed back into her blankets. No more than five minutes had gone by before he could no longer remain still. He shot up, pacing the room, and made his virtual rounds.

Maxu probed every one of his contacts for bits of information. Had there been any sightings of the three cruisers? Any whisperings from any city? Nothing. Not even a picture for him to moon over.

The cruisers had licenses to fly high enough that their metallic surfaces disappeared against the sky and, from what he could gather, the cities who knew they were getting a stop didn’t even know when the visit would occur—probably to keep people like him from tracking down the humans. It was working.

In lieu of learning where she would be next, he maximized his time by learning everything he could about her. In each city, he made a point to interrogate the locals and anyone else who’d spent time with the humans. It’d taken immense self-restraint not to rip apart every single person who’d described a human matching Meg’s description as a bright, beautiful thing who’d sweetly flirted with many of them.

Maxu hadn’t questioned the Kitibardians about Meg yet, and he seethed just thinking about it. She doesn’t know she’s mated, he reminded himself again as a headache—a result of him incessantly grinding his teeth—built at his temples.

He stalked around the room, searching every nook and cranny he could, but as always, she’d left little behind. He’d just pulled all the bedding from the mattress when a different scent hit his nose. It was her again, but more…different. A purr pulsed out of his chest as he lifted a pillow from the ground to his face. Rumbling growls mixed with his purr when the scent of her arousal invaded his senses.

Cock as hard as stone, hand white-knuckling a dainty pillow, he scooped up his bag and charged out of the room. He needed to find his female. Now.

The bitter wind slicing over his face as he stomped to the nearby tavern did nothing to cool the fire in his veins. It was time to question the citizens of this dreary city. A group of Kitibardians spilled out of the tavern and slogged toward a patch of carved out snow to relieve themselves. He lowered his hood over his face. They were too drunk to be of any use, and if they so much as uttered an incoherent word to him, he was afraid he’d throttle them just to let out some of this tension. He couldn’t afford any more time locked away.

Before he could brush past, one male shouted, “Did you just come from the grand round house? That’s off-limits.” Maxu ignored the slurred accusation. It was obvious where he’d come from. There were no other buildings in that direction, and his deep tread marks in the snow were evidence enough.

He kept walking, but the male backtracked and caught up with him, grabbing him by the arm. A grin broke out over Maxu’s face as he spun, slamming his fist into the male’s face and watching him collapse. His face tipped toward the sky, and he let out a breath of relief. That felt good.

He was about to turn and continue on his way when another male spoke. “Are you mated to that human?”

Time stopped. His bag’s strap across his chest stretched taut with his inhale. Ice and snow scraped under his boots as he slowly rotated on the spot.

“You have the marks,” the male said, staring at Maxu’s fingers, still clutching the pillow in his left hand.

Was he dreaming this? There must’ve been another human with a mate because unless he was very mistaken, Meg didn’t know about him.

“Elaborate.” Maxu’s tone was bitter enough to make even the scowling Kitibardian male lean away.

“One of the humans made a scene last night with a few of my kin. Word spread. The human said her male had only initially recognized her, but she described someone who looked like you. Your dark hair. Your build. Did your marks come in after she left?”

She’d described him? Maxu’s mind raced. Did Meg know she was mated? He ground his teeth and managed to grate out, “What did she look like?”

“Short, dark hair. Bald everywhere except for her head. Pale.” The man studied Maxu’s face with eyebrows slashed downward. As if the universe itself were trying to cool his temper, snow began to fall. It clung to the white fur on the male’s cheeks. The flakes sizzled off Maxu’s skin. “Did she know your marks had appeared?”

She knows! That little… He pounded away a few paces without a word, then halted. Where the fuck was he going? He had to find her, and yet he couldn’t find her. Because she’s hiding from me!

Without realizing he’d moved, he found his nose buried in her pillow, inhaling as if the ghost of his mate could grant him some sense of control. It didn’t.

Torture. He’d been tortured for weeks, and she knew. His fists shook.

“I know where they’re going next.” As though from a great distance, the male’s voice reached him.

A humorless smile cracked over his face. She’d made a mistake, and he couldn’t wait to torture her right back.


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