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Copyright ©2012 Adera Orfanelli
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The relentless sun pounded down on his back, filling him with radiating waves of heat and light like gifts from the gods who had gone before. Sitting back on his heels, Ryx tilted his face toward the pure blue sky and bathed himself in the sun's glow. Strength returned to his limbs, and although the early morning sun wasn't as strong as it would be later in the day, he already sensed the energy it fed to his body. He took off his hat and ruffled his brown curls.
The silken strands felt alien to him, so unlike the hard scales and warmth of his reptilian shifted form, but his hair was a blessing from his mother, as was his human form, for they allowed him to pass among the humans.
The horse stirred on his picket line. Vibrations through the ground, though dampened by the fabric of his jeans between his skin and the dusty, hard dirt, told him someone was coming. He turned and saw the slight figure of Eliza racing toward him. Of course, to the rest of the crew she was Eli, local guide and a small, wiry boy. Only he, with his increased sense of smell, knew the feminine truth that lay beneath her loose trousers and the knife-chopped mess of her hair.
It had been Eliza who had shown him this dig, and he caressed the thighbone he was extracting from the Montana soil. When they'd been in town getting supplies a few months ago and she'd turned when someone had called "Eliza," his suspicions had been confirmed. The gods of my people.
"Rince! Rince!" Eliza called. She slowed to a halt, her breasts rising and falling beneath her oversized shirt. Exertion painted a rosy flush on her cheeks. Ryx imagined her beneath him, spread on his bedroll and naked. Her nipples would point up him, as hard as the pebbles, begging for his lips or his touch. Spots of color would show on her cheeks, and the perfect bow of her mouth would be open, waiting for his kiss.
His cock stirred.
His beast thought fucking was a good idea.
If anything, the color on Eliza's cheeks deepened, and had she been anything other than human, he'd have suspected she could read his pheromones in the air. Except she was human. She had to be... although she smelled of deep forests and places so far away from this barren land he hadn't seen them for several months.
"Everything okay, Eli?" He held out his canteen to her. "Take a drink. It's too early in the morning to have you work yourself to death."
She drank, her lips on his canteen making him think about her lips wrapped around his cock, sucking, pulling it deeper into her mouth. Damn it, I have to stop thinking this way. To the rest of the crew she's a young man. If we were caught... He didn't finish the thought.
"Thank you." She handed the canteen back to him. "We've got to go. There's been an attack on the camp."
"An attack?" All thoughts of sex or even Eliza fled from his mind. "What kind?" He rose, towering over her slight, muscled frame with his lean, long-limbed body. "Let's go."
Her gaze dropped to his hip. "You don't have your pistols?" She arched an eyebrow at him, as if she were wondering what kind of lackwit would go out alone in this country without them.
Now wasn't the time to tell her he had no fear of rattlesnakes. They wouldn't bother him, and neither would biting insects. Things tended to leave his kind alone, old memories of an even older time. As far as the natives, they knew him, respected him, and tended to give him as wide a berth as the rattlesnakes did. "I can't work effectively with them on."
She snorted and glanced at the horse. "You better see for yourself."
He nodded, the grave tone of her voice telling him more than she probably guessed. His long legs carried him to the tree where he'd tied his horse. The horse wasn't happy at being bothered, especially by the likes of him. He reached into one of the saddlebags and swiped his fingers through a pouch of pine needle salve that he rubbed over the horse's nose under the guise of trying to calm it. The horse snorted, but allowed Ryx to mount. He rode to where Eliza stood and held out his left hand. "Come on."
She took it, awareness snaking up his arm at their joined fingers. With a short tug she bounced behind him in the saddle, her sniffs audible. "Pine?"
He nodded. "Old family recipe. Keeps your hands from cracking."
"So do gloves," she mumbled. "Pine smells."
Anything else she might have said was drowned out by the pounding of the horse's hooves on the hard-packed ground. Her strong thighs pressing against his, and the way her little hands wrapped around his chest and clasped made him think of other kinds of riding. Damn it, he had to get himself under control. Camp had been attacked. Now wasn't the time to think of seeing if the shy, curious little glances Eliza gave him meant what he thought they did.