Using Fejo: Chapter 29

Tugging on her sore wrist had her gasping awake in a moment. She found Capra crouching over her, removing the cuff keeping her in place.

He pointed toward the bathroom. “Go clean up,” he commanded.

She frowned and remained unmoved. Why should she? For whose benefit? ’Cause she sure as shit didn’t care.

“You do it, or I will.” Capra raised a brow at her.

“Then you do it. I don’t care anymore,” she said, bringing her wrist to her chest.

He let out a deep sigh and hefted her up, dragging her to the foam shower. He turned it on and threw her in. Her head banged against the wall and she yelped, clutching her skull. As the stars disappeared from her vision, she slid to the bottom of the shower, letting the warm, frothy foam rain down on her fully clothed body.

Capra walked out of the bathroom, then came back carrying fresh clothes. Colorful embroidered ones that she hadn’t purchased for herself. Fejo. She hid her face as tears streamed down her cheeks and melted into the fizzing cleansing foam.

When she could keep her throat from bobbing and her chin from trembling, she focused on Capra again. His face was still mangled, purple bruising marked the whole middle, and his nose hadn’t set quite right. Fejo had told her Tetrans didn’t believe in using the healers for every little thing, but she was still surprised he hadn’t healed it at all. He threw the clothes into the sink, grunting at her to change.

The dirty foam slid off her body and clothes and settled on the floor of the shower. She’d only been in the bathroom a few times on this trip, her chain barely long enough to reach the toilet. She eyed the clean clothes in the sink.

Part of her wanted to make this as hard for him as possible. Force him to dress her limp frame like a toddler throwing a tantrum. But she also realized she was a grown woman and being naked with an angry dude who’d expressed interest in “keeping” her before was a stupid idea.

She stood, allowing the rest of the foam to slide off, and waved him out before undressing and letting the foam clean the rest of her body. She dressed and used some of the foam to clean her teeth.

Her hair was the least of her concerns, and she left it alone, knowing full well it would dry into a gnarled mess. The mirror reflected her ghostly appearance, and she almost winced at herself. Dark circles under her eyes were stark on her pale skin, and her lips were dry and chapped. Her eyes were bloodshot and the bit of white that was visible was dull. She looked more like a zombie than a person who’d been sleeping for days on end.

Changing into the large cerulean shirt and form-fitting pants, she exited the bathroom. Capra was behind her in an instant, binding her wrists behind her back. “Afraid I’ll get the jump on you again?” she quipped.

“Let’s go,” Capra grunted, walking out of the room.

Vanessa couldn’t gather much excitement about finally leaving the stuffy space. It wasn’t like she had anywhere to go or anyone to go to. In fact, it was likely she’d never see anyone she cared about again.

She dragged her feet down the hall, shuffling behind Capra. He led her to the belly of the ship and into the loading bay. Her steps faltered when she heard noise coming from the room.

Groups of men and women were lifting the boxes of unconscious women and carrying them through a large, open doorway. Normally, the wide doorway would’ve led to the outside of the ship and space. But it appeared another ship had docked with them because through the opening she saw a light gray metal hallway.

“So, this is Fejo’s mate. I really can’t understand what’s so special about her,” a female voice called from behind her.

All of Vanessa’s muscles tensed, and she slowly spun. A pale gray woman with shocking silver hair and black irises emerged from the corner of the room where she’d been reclining.

She was beautiful, her bright white wings and silky silver hair glimmering even in the dim light of the ship. But the sneer on her face turned her features ugly, and though the woman’s face was elegant and soft, Vanessa found her gaze was deadened and empty. She wondered if the only way Klinara could feel anything was by causing pain.

“Oh, Capra. I still can’t believe this little thing did that to your face. She’s barely more than bones.”

Vanessa’s glare remained hot and heavy on Klinara, and she muttered, “It was an improvement.”

Capra flinched and snarled at Vanessa while Klinara let out a chuckle. “You’re quick. I’ll give you that,” she acknowledged, her gaze running up and down Vanessa.

“And you’re…” Vanessa started, mirroring Klinara’s assessing gaze but with open disgust clear in her expression. “Less impressive than I thought you’d be,” she finished, shrugging. “How were you able to manipulate Fejo for so long? Were you just the only woman available?” She shot Klinara a false pout, then winced apologetically. The only spark of joy Vanessa had felt in the last week lit in her chest as her insult registered and fury twisted Klinara’s mouth into a grimace.

“You don’t know anything about our relationship,” Klinara whispered, donning a fake confident expression again, but Vanessa could still see her jab had landed on its mark. “If I snapped, Fejo would come running back to me.” She lifted a smug brow.

Vanessa swallowed, her fingers itching to carve lines down the woman’s face. “You mean if he wasn’t dead. Right? If you hadn’t led him to his death?”

Klinara flinched. Good. If there was any way to make this woman feel guilty, Vanessa wanted to exploit it.

Another winged male stepped up and peered between them. “We’re loading the last one now,” he announced.

The corner of Klinara’s mouth lifted, but she didn’t look away from Vanessa. “Good. You’ve double-checked the names of all the recipients?” She shot a questioning glance toward the man.

Vanessa watched as they carried the last unconscious human through the loading doors. The doors slid shut. About ten armed men waited in the loading bay. It was a shame Klinara traveled with so much backup. Vanessa would’ve really enjoyed at least attempting to kick the shit out of her. With this many guards, though, she wouldn’t even get close.

“Is that what those names were on their boxes?” Vanessa snorted in derision. “You’re shipping out women like livestock. Tell me, did you have the assholes bid?” She curled her lip at the woman. “Was this all about money?”

Klinara laughed. “Money? Nobody does anything for money. You do things for power. I trade favors, and I’ve accumulated a lot of favors. I know the perfect person to trade you to.” She lifted a brow. “He’s had a hard time finding willing females since his tastes are so…diverse.”

Vanessa shook her head and raised her chin. “What happened to you?” she asked with furrowed brows. “How did you become like this? Fejo told me about your father. Is he why you grew up to be so evil?”

Klinara’s lips thinned, turning white. She blinked at Vanessa. “You don’t know anything,” she hissed, her eyes darting around the room.

“You’re right. I don’t know a lot, but Fejo never said your dad was into abduction and trafficking, yet it seems you are. You turned out worse than him.”

Her wings flared behind her and she took three threatening steps toward Vanessa before stopping herself. “Quiet, human, or you won’t make it off this ship.”

“You think I care?” Vanessa cackled, advancing on Klinara. She must’ve looked as crazy as she felt because Klinara took an instinctive step back. “You can do what you want to me, but at least I know I was loved. At least I know I’m capable of love.”

Klinara’s wing flashed out and struck Vanessa across the face.

Fiery pain flared on her cheek and warm liquid dribbled down her jaw. She turned back to Klinara and grinned. “Did I touch a nerve there?”

Klinara’s wide eyes shot to Capra. “Get her out of here.”

Vanessa laughed as he gripped her nape and forced her away.

“Are they all loaded up into their separate pods?” she heard Klinara call into her communicator. “Naol!” she yelled again when no one answered.

Capra paused, turning to Klinara when the line remained silent. “Everything okay?” he asked.

Klinara huffed out a breath and motioned for the armed men in the room to gather. “Just more imbeciles who can’t do their jobs. I’ll find them,” she grated, heading in their direction toward the loading doors. Capra pressed the control panel, and the metal loading doors eased apart. When they did, shouts echoed through the room. Everyone froze.

As the doors slid open, she saw movement in the hallway of the other ship. Inch by inch, a figure was revealed, wearing black pants and an ornately embroidered emerald-green coat.

Vanessa couldn’t breathe. She blinked, not trusting her eyes. Fejo’s dark, penetrating stare landed on her. Two bloodstained knives were clenched in his fists. He flung one, angling his entire body and putting all of his weight behind the throw. The hand on her neck tightened moments before the blade sunk up to the hilt in the center of Capra’s forehead. The horned man’s grip on her nape squeezed, then fell away entirely as he crumpled to the ground.

“Hello, lovely.” Fejo flung an arm around her waist and dragged her into the hallway of the other ship before she had time to blink. He pressed a swift kiss to her forehead and pushed her into a corner before saying, “Be right back,” and vanishing into the loading bay.

A sob burst out of Vanessa’s throat, and she sank to her knees, staring blindly ahead of her. Pounding footsteps echoed from down the hall, then Uja came into view, followed by the rest of the crew. The sounds of flashing knives and slamming fists echoed from the loading bay as the crew filed in, fighting off Klinara’s guards.

Molu appeared from around the corner and grinned at her with his razor-sharp teeth. “Let me help you with that,” he said with a smile, kneeling down and forcing her upper body forward so he could fiddle with the cuffs on her wrists. He produced a small oval from his pocket and, after a few beeps, the cuffs clicked open.

Then he was gone, dashing into the fray.

Vanessa’s mind finally returned to her, and she stood, peering around the corner. Fejo threw an elbow into the face of a guard rushing toward him. The winged man fell. As if Fejo could feel her gaze on him, he turned and flashed her a heart-stopping grin.

Vanessa choked out a sob of happiness, tears bursting out of her from nowhere. Fejo was there in an instant, pulling her back out of sight around the corner and dragging her against his chest. His fresh salty scent invaded her senses, and she faintly recognized the sounds of the continuing battle occurring in the other room.

Fejo cupped her cheek, bringing her mouth to his. Her lips shook as she kissed him, her eyes squinting shut and her brows drawing together. He was here. He was alive.

Vanessa threw herself onto him, and he wobbled backward, chuckling against her lips. She wrapped her arms around his neck. “You’re not dead,” she cried.

“No, love. I’ll never leave you.” He tipped her chin up between his thumb and curled knuckle, his gaze roving over her face as if hungry for the sight of her. His lips turned down as he inspected the cut on her cheek. “But I have to take care of a few things. Stay here.”

She tried to get her voice to work, to argue, but he was gone before she had the chance. She peered back into the loading bay and saw the fight was winding down. Only a few armed guards still stood, but their sullen expressions and blood-drained faces made it clear they knew they were out-manned. Her gaze caught on a flash of white in the corner, and she saw a wide-eyed Klinara.

Vanessa stiffened as Klinara’s gaze took in the scene, her focus shifting around the room as if looking for an escape. In a last-ditch effort, the woman jumped, attempting to fly out of the room.

Like a shot, Vanessa darted into the loading bay and tugged at the knife embedded in Capra’s forehead. On the third heave, it scraped free. With a deep inhale, she burst up and just managed to hook Klinara around the ankle as she dipped to clear the loading bay doorway. Vanessa threw herself flat on the ground, using all of her body weight to wrench Klinara out of the air. The woman landed facedown on the floor with a screech.

Scrambling off her back, Vanessa climbed onto Klinara’s wings, ripping her head up by the hair at her scalp and holding the knife to her throat.

“Vanessa, stop,” Fejo’s voice boomed through the room. He stepped in front of her, and she glanced up at him.

“Fejo, please help me,” Klinara cried, reaching toward him with one hand.

Vanessa tightened the knife against her throat. “Don’t talk to him,” she barked.

“Lovely,” Fejo called as he squatted in front of her, his hands out and his eyes glued to her. “Don’t kill her. Let her go.”

Vanessa’s eyes darted between Fejo and the back of Klinara’s head; the woman’s wings flapped uselessly under Vanessa’s knees. “Why?” she argued. “She killed you! I mean…she tried. Are you really telling me you want her to live? Was she right? Does she still have some weird control over you?” Her gaze shot back to Fejo when she heard him chuckling.

“No.” He shook his head. “I need her alive so I can hand her over to the Queen. Then we’re free, you and I.”

Realizing this wouldn’t end well for her either way, Klinara began to struggle.

Fejo held Vanessa’s stare, and she mentally calmed herself, knowing he was right. She slid the knife away from Klinara’s throat. “This is for my mate,” she hissed into the woman’s ear. Using the grip she had on the back of Klinara’s head, she smashed her face into the ground. Klinara let out a grunt and passed out.

Manx and the shy guy who always hung out near the engine room rushed over immediately, binding Klinara’s wings and hands behind her back.

Vanessa bolted toward Fejo, jumping into his outstretch arms. “I thought you were dead. What happened?”

“Maladek. He pretended to kill me. I wonder where he got that idea…”

Vanessa grinned against the crook of his neck. “I’m so sorry. It was my fault.” Happy, relieved tears leaked from the corners of her eyes.

“Molu,” Fejo called, gripping her chin and turning her face so he could examine her cheek. “Vanessa needs help.” His jaw was tight, his gaze fiery as he stared at the gash on the Vanessa’s face. Suddenly she remembered the almost identical cut on his cheek and the stab wound she’d seen when he’d been hypnotized on the bridge what felt like an eternity ago.

She squirmed until he let her down and touched him all over, checking for any lingering injuries. “Are you okay?” she breathed, ripping his tucked shirt from his pants and examining his abdomen. She saw nothing. He must’ve already been healed.

His purr vibrated through his chest and tickled her palms. “I have enough to put Klinara away forever. I’ll have my freedom, and I have you back. My vicious, gorgeous, glorious Vanessa.”

She pursed her lips at his compliment, the corner of her mouth quirking up.

He chuckled again, his dimple popping with his wide grin. “I love you so much, Vanessa.”

Vanessa smiled and twined her arms around his neck. “And I love you, my devastating, brave, perfect Fejo.” She pulled him down, and he took her mouth in a deep, breath-stealing kiss.


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