Sunday WildCard – The Kildaran, Chapters 27 & 28

The stories are starting to converge! Which means Mike’s little ‘working vacation’ is coming to an end.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S.S.R., or at least Georgia, Chechnya, and Russia, things are happening. Is there a spy, reporting on the plans? If so, to whom? And what will happen?

And Katrina is pushing her boundaries further in Chapter 28.

Enjoy!

CHAPTER 27

Somewhere in Chechnya; The Caravanserai; Moscow; Washington DC; St. Louis

April 10

“I want my bombs!”

 “Excellency, the men are working -”

“I want my bombs!”

“Soon, Excellency, soon, we will -”

“I want my bombs! No more excuses, Ibrahim!”

Ibrahim thought furiously for a moment. He could recognize a danger point, especially with this egocentric despot.

“The reclamation of tritium is proceeding as quickly as we can safely manage, Excellency. Any faster and we risk the lives of our men.”

“Risk them! But get me my bombs!”

“Of course, of course. We shall. I merely awaited your command. Even so, it will take time to rearm all the bombs, especially as we still await our deliveries.”

“Why do we wait? Are our followers so inept?”

“No, Excellency, there seems to be problems with our sources. We divided the amount needed among many vendors to avoid arousing suspicion, but as yet we have only received one delivery of tritium. It was a fair-sized amount, and we may be able to complete reactivating three weapons.”

“Then give me my three so we can emplace them!”

“Excellency, your desire is, of course, my command, but may this unworthy one ask a question?” He made his tone as obsequious as he could manage.

“Ask.”

“Excellency, the plan was to place the bombs in the target cities at the same time, was it not?”

“It was. I have changed the plan.”

Ibrahim’s swarthy face showed worry for the first time. “Excellency? May this one beg an explanation?”

“You will take the three weapons you repair and place them in Groznyy, Moscow, and Makhachakala. We will demand the Russian puppets in Chechnya and Dagestan step down immediately, and the godless Russians recognize the Emirate or we detonate the bombs.”

“But what of the rest of the Emirate?”

Inarov waved his hand dismissively.

“Soon enough. Allah has blessed us, Ibrahim, and will not allow us to fail. We simply need to accept His changes to the plan. Once the Emirate controls Chechnya and Dagestan, we will have some breathing room and time to advance our destiny.”

“Very wise, Excellency.” The praise mollified the would-be ruler. “May this one make a suggestion?”

“You may suggest.”

“Your wisdom in targeting Groznyy and Moscow is impeccable, yet I am somehow troubled. If we take the three weapons available, and they will be complete in no more than three days, Excellency, but ignore the threat the Keldara present, I fear our works will be undone.”

“You fear, Ibrahim? Your faith wavers?”

“No, Excellency!” Ibrahim put all the fervor into his voice he could generate. “Perhaps I misspoke, Excellency. Shai’tan is clever; the Prophet has warned us to ignore his temptations. Yet I feel if we were to focus too greatly on reclaiming these lands for Allah, and not remove the viper in our midst, the Keldara, then we would provide Shai’tan the opening he needs to undo our efforts.”

Now it was Inarov’s turn to think.

“You truly believe these Keldara are so much of a threat?”

“Excellency, outside of the Greater and Lesser Satans, there are no more dangerous foes in the world.”

“What, then, do you suggest?”

“We take two bombs, one to Moscow, one to Groznyy. We will gain our freedom thereby. Allow me to take the third bomb and wipe the Keldara from the pages of history!”

Ibrahim fell silent and waited. Finally, Inarov spoke.

“There is wisdom in your words, Ibrahim. Forgive me for doubting your faith; I should have known you only thought of the greater good. Very well! As soon as the bombs are ready, we will execute your plan.”

“Thank you, Excellency. I shall not fail you.”

“I know you won’t.”

*

“At least we know his name now.”

Katya’s comment seemed to go unnoticed by J, so she elaborated.

“Bursuk Gereshk.”

J looked up from the map he had been poring over. “What does it mean to us?”

Katya looked unsure.

“We can use his name as a way to enter his circles?”

“Are you asking, or telling?”

“Telling you, Master.”

“And if they ask for a code, or a password?”

“We take them down.”

“Just when I think you’ve gotten over your need to kill, padawan, it rears its ugly head. No, we don’t take them down, not until we’re told to.”

“Master, I am confused. What of the two men in Elista?”

“They could have identified us and made our task more difficult,” he explained. “We needed Hamid to get to Gereshk, and we needed Gereshk to locate their position. Now, we observe, and wait.”

“I hate waiting.”

*

“Another report from Katya. They have a location.”

“Where?”

Grez pointed to a monitor.

“There, just to the east of Lake Kek-Usn.”

“They’re sure?”

“She stated Gereshk brought the tritium there and has not yet left. Unless he’s waiting for another contact?”

“It’s possible. It would seem to be out of character, though, given the haste they’re trying to collect the tritium.”

“That’s what I thought, too.”

“We need to bring this upstairs.”

*

Nielson was happy.

“How far away is this lake?”

“Straight line? About three hundred fifty klicks. Of course, there’s no such thing as a straight line around here.” Vanner shrugged. “We’d have to detour way around Chechnya at the very least. Figure six, seven hundred klicks at least. More, if the roads are blocked.”

Adams looked thoughtful.

“Two days drive?”

“About that,” agreed Vanner. “Maybe a little less if everything goes well, but probably not much more.”

“If everything goes well. Riiiight.” Chief Adams had a long, and frequently painful, association with Murphy.

Nielson interrupted with, “Okay. Chief, call Chechnik and explain the situation to him. Nicely,” he added, seeing the malicious grin on the Chief’s face.

I’ll talk with OSOL, coordinate with the alphabet soup, and get the area under constant observation.” He thought again and waggled his fingers at the ceiling with a half-smile. “Make sure they‘ve moved the eyes in the skies.”

He continued more seriously. “We’ve got to get this dialed in. If we’re going to commit to this site, we need to be sure of the target. We wait until we’re absolutely sure the nukes are there before we engage.”

“What if they move the nukes before we get there?”

“Point, but that’s the point of observation. Still. I’ll get the teams mobilized and the choppers loaded. Put the Rangers on notice. I want to be ready by dawn. I expect it will be a few days, though.”

“And Mike?”

“I’ll call him, as well.” He said this with some reluctance, unwilling to interrupt the Kildar’s first real vacation in, well, forever.

Adams said, “If he misses the concert, he’ll be pissed.”

“He’ll be more pissed if he misses the movement.”

*

“Colonel Chechnik’s office, Lieutenant Malakov speaking.”

“I asked for Chechnik.”

“I am the Colonel’s aide. How can I help you?”

“If I wanted to talk a miserable piss-ant who isn‘t fit to lick my boots, I would have asked for you! I asked for Chechnik, and you’re going to connect me. Now. Tell him it‘s Adams.”

“Hold.” Malakov put the phone down.

This assignment sucked, but was better than the other choices: Siberia, or an unmarked grave. Putin wasn’t entirely convinced of Chechnik’s loyalty, and so Malakov had been tapped for the job of spying on one of the nation’s spymasters.

“Colonel? There’s someone named Adams on the line for you.”

“Adams? What does he want?”

“He wouldn’t tell me. He insisted on talking to you.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.” Chechnik picked up his extension. “Master Chief. How can I help you today?”

“You can tell your aide that when I call it’s fucking important!”

            “My apologies. It won’t happen again.”

            “Good. Colonel, we have a possible location for the nukes.”

Chechnik sucked in his breath.

“So quickly?”

“Yeah, we don’t screw around. We need some help on your end, though.”

“Anything at all!” Chechnik scrabbled for a pen. “What can we do for you?”

“We have agents in the area, but we need constant observation. Any movement in or out, we need to know when it happens.”

“Where do you need this?”

“It’s the eastern shore of Lake Kek-Usn, in Kalmykia.”

Chechnik considered this.

 “We may not have the resources to maintain constant surveillance,” he admitted. “Our technical means are not usually slated for Russian overflight.”

“I’m aware of that, Colonel. We’ll take whatever coverage you can provide. Doesn‘t have to be aerial; a couple fishermen with good cameras will help. But we need it. Right now.”

“Very good. What else?”

Now Adams paused. Chechnik had fucked them over once before, but he didn’t see any alternative. Sooner or later they’d have to tell him of their movements. “We will be taking the site out. Timetable is still up in the air, but we will be moving on it shortly. Overflight for our Hinds and customs clearance for our teams should have already been approved. If it hasn’t, get it done. We need road conditions for the area, and we’ll need any local yokels to be told we’re coming through and not to interfere.”

“Certainly, certainly!”

            “Multiple sources, Chechnik. And no troops on the ground; one thing we don’t need are the locals blowing the whistle on us.”

“I understand, Master Chief. I have done this before.” Chechnik’s voice was cold.

“Overflight has been granted, I know; I’ll ensure that you have easy passage through customs at your entry point, though knowing at least the primary route will allow for better data.”

Adams ignored the obvious attempt for information.

“Good. Once we have the route planned, I’ll download it to you personally.” He allowed his tone to turn menacing. “Don’t screw this up, Chechnik.”

Chechnik heard the click, then, a second later, another click.

Fuck me. He had suspected, of course, there was a spy in his office. Too much information had flowed the other way to be explained otherwise. He was insulted, though. At least Vlad could have given the job to someone competent, instead of Malakov, the worthless mudak.

He pulled his service pistol from the drawer. Well, a service pistol. Actually, it had been signed out by Malakov, at Chechnik’s request. That would just make it more believable when his aide, torn between two loyalties and suffering from PTSD, committed suicide in the Colonel’s office. It was going to be messy, but carpets can be cleaned. Or replaced.

“Lieutenant? Will you come in here a moment?”

*

“Pierson.”

“Nielson here. Sorry to be calling so early.”

            “No problem. At least I was able to get in before the calls started today. What can OSOL do for the Keldara today?”

            “We may have the nukes located, but we need surveillance. We’ve asked the Russians to keep it under observation, but -”

“Let me guess, they don’t want to admit that their satellites watch their people just as closely as they watch us.”

“Bingo.”

“Okay, let’s see here… We have enough recon satellites to keep it under our umbrella 24/7. Do you want updates, or the raw feed?”

“I think the feed, not analysis. Make sure we get it all: deep scans, infra-red, the works. We can monitor it just as well from this end. Plus, no offense, we have a very direct stake in this.”

“None taken.”

“What about Predators? Can you shake some loose for low-level recon?”

“I’ll work on it, but they’re pretty thoroughly tasked. It might take a day or two to get them on-station.” Pierson thought. “But I may be able to get a U-2 for you.”

“You think the Russians will go for that?”

“I don’t think they have any choice. Mike was pretty brutal with them, I heard.”

Nielson chuckled.

“He was at that. Seriously, I thought all the 99th’s birds were tied up?”

The 99th Reconnaissance Squadron was based, officially, at Beale Air Force Base, and was supporting the American missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, a demanding duty that required most of their airframes.

“I wasn’t thinking of the 99th. You’re right about them. No, I was thinking of the 42nd Recon.”

“42nd? Pardon me, Colonel, I didn’t think there was a -”

“42nd? Not on most books, no. This program’s as black as they come, almost as black as you lot. A few years back, they scratch-built a dozen new U-2s, designated the U-2V, with a second seat, state-of-the-art avionics, upgraded engines, and, most importantly, improved sensors that can maintain a constant air-to-ground feed.”

“Never heard of them.”

“Exactly the point. They belong to the Air Force, officially, but the National Reconnaissance Office operates them. I know they are under-utilized at the moment. The only catch is I know the NRO won’t allow you to take the direct feed.”

“We’ll live with that, if we can have ‘em.”

“See what I can do. Anything else?”

“Not at the moment, Colonel.”

“Very well. I’ll get back to you as soon as I have any answers, one way or another.”

*

“Mike, it’s Dave.”

Mike had awakened at the first ring from the sat phone, climbing quietly from the bed. Katrina wiggled a bit but didn’t seem to wake. “Yeah?”

“We’ve got some movement.”

That brought Mike fully awake.

“How soon?” He was already thinking of flight times.

“Not soon. Four days, minimum.”

Mike relaxed a little. “Where?”

“In Kalmykia, north of the Chechen border. Cottontail and J followed a tritium packet there.”

“I can be back -”

“Whoa! We can handle this part. Besides, isn’t the concert tonight?”

“Yeah, but -”

“No buts, Mike. We can handle this. You enjoy the show and fly back tomorrow. That’ll give you plenty of time.”

“Time?”

“Yeah, time to think of an excuse for Cottontail. You think she’s gonna be happy you saw Crüxshadows without her?”

“Fuck.”

“See you in a couple days.”

*

“O Great One, I have wonderful news!”

“Yes, Ibrahim?”

“We have completed the rearming process on three of the bombs.”

“Which three?”

“Two of the larger weapons, the five megaton and the two megaton; and a small one, one hundred kilotons.”

“That is good news, Ibrahim! Proceed with the plan immediately!”

“Excellency, of course we shall. I will dispatch the largest to Moscow, naturally, and shall oversee the movement of the next-largest to the Valley of the Keldara myself.”

“No!”

“Excellency?”

“The next-largest, the two-megaton bomb, should go to Groznyy, not the Keldara.”

“Excellency, perhaps you are not aware of the scope of the Valley?”

“It is a single valley, Ibrahim!”

“It is a veritable pit of vipers, Excellency, and needs to be scoured clean!”

“No, it is a source of annoyance which you seem to have an unhealthy obsession with. Again I ask you, why do we need to waste a weapon on a bunch of barely-past stone age barbarians?”

“They are a grave threat to the security of the Emirate!”

“So you say, Ibrahim. But my other advisors do not feel the same.”

Ibrahim‘s usually-calm voice rose in anger and frustration.

“Have they forgotten the crippling blow these infidels inflicted on our cause, so little time ago? The best, most dedicated, most skilled of our fighters butchered in the field, slaughtered by their accursed women? Are they afraid?”

Ibrahim pushed his luck a little too far.

Inarov leapt from his seat and backhanded Ibrahim off his feet. Ibrahim hadn’t thought he could move that quickly.

“They fear no one! I fear no one! We are the tools of Allah’s destiny!” He fumed before continuing. “I should have you killed for your impudence.”

“Excellency, kill me if you desire, but you must listen! The Keldara must, must, be eliminated!” He assumed the tone of one shamed and begging forgiveness.

“You truly believe this?”

“I do, Excellency, more than you can imagine.”

“Are you willing to stake your life upon it?”

“I am, Excellency. The Keldara must die.”

Inarov sat back in his chair.

“Very well, Ibrahim. Your willingness to die for your belief speaks well of you. I respect your commitment. You shall have a bomb, the smallest one we have ready, and transport, and men. Be warned: one of those men shall be given orders to shoot you if your faith, your belief in this mission, wavers, even slightly.”

“I accept.” He hesitated a moment before speaking again. “I shall need quite a few men, Excellency.”

“It’s only a single bomb. How many would you need?”

“The Keldara are ferocious fighters. If I am to have the smallest bomb, I shall need to enter their valley, instead of staying outside and depending on the blast radius to wipe them out. They will defend their homes, Excellency, men and women alike. We will have the element of surprise, yes, which will work in our favor. Yet I still think I shall need, perhaps, three hundred men.”

Inarov was apoplectic.

“Three hundred? Impossible!” And Ibrahim would need fighters; he couldn’t receive the support troops, nor the passionate but incompetent misfits. Stripping so many fighting men from his force would be devastating, should anything happen.

“Necessary, Excellency. That will barely give me a two-to-one advantage. Less and I cannot guarantee success. While I am, naturally, willing to be a martyr, I don’t wish to throw my life away and fail.”

“We have barely twice that, total!”

“Yet you will hardly need them here. We are undiscovered.”

“So far. Allah is merciful.”

“So far, yes Excellency. Our men are already in Groznyy; you will not need to dispatch any more for that. Since we are relying on stealth for the cities, the plan for Moscow calls for a dozen men, including two technicians, and a leader. That will leave you with nearly three hundred. And once we return, your security will be guaranteed. Once the people see the glorious results of your actions, they shall flock to your cause, as numerous as the grains of sand in the holy deserts. Yes, we shall be vulnerable here briefly, but we shall emerge victorious and more powerful!”

“Very well, Ibrahim, you shall have -”

He paused, as if considering, making himself look generous and merciful.

“Yes, you shall have your three hundred.” He scowled at the look on Ibrahim’s face. “What else?”

“Excellency, to move that many men quickly, I shall need to utilize the vehicles we have secretly repaired.”

Sigh.

“Is this truly necessary? No, don’t speak; I know your answer. You may have your transports, too. How soon do you plan to leave?”

“Tomorrow, before dawn, we dispatch the bomb to Groznyy, and the team to Moscow with theirs. I shall leave at noon.”

“Noon? Is that wise?”

“Excellency, with so many men, even a blind Russian satellite could see us, day or night. Who would think that we would risk such a precious cargo on such a daring plan?”

“Audacious indeed! Allah’s blessings be with you, Ibrahim.”

“Thank you, Excellency.”

Without another word, Ibrahim bowed his way backward out of the room, never looking up at the Emir, never letting the contempt Kurt felt for him show on Ibrahim’s face.

CHAPTER 28

St. Louis

April 10

So much for the vacation, Mike thought after the phone call.

The flight to Lambert St. Louis International had been uneventful. Of course, getting out of the airport, even with Hughes’ connections, had taken time, and getting to their hotel even more. Traffic from the airport to the hotel had been murder; he’d been away so long, he’d forgotten about timing and traffic patterns. If only he’d taken a little more time in Boston. There wasn’t any rush to get here, after all. No, he’d simply forgotten.

That’s why OSOL gave you a guide, jackoff, he reprimanded himself. Ask questions!

At least there was a bright spot at the end of the smog-choked rainbow. The Four Seasons hotel was a dramatic glass structure rising by the Mississippi, only a few blocks north of the Gateway Arch. They mercifully whisked through check-in and were soon settled into their suite on the 19th floor.

“Michael, do we have plans tonight?” asked Kat.

“No, the show’s not until tomorrow night. Why?”

“It’s been a very busy few days. I don’t feel like going out,” she admitted.

“Suits me. I’m for dinner, then take it easy. Don’t I remember seeing a restaurant in the hotel? Or do we want to go out?”

“There is one, called Cielo,” said Stasia. “I had asked. They serve Italian cuisine. There is room service, or I‘m sure we can arrange a private chef?”

“No, if we’re in St. Louis, we’ve got to have barbeque.”

“I can ask the concierge,” said Stasia.

“That’ll work. Take a half hour to freshen up, change, then we’ll hit the desk and see what we can see. And don’t dress fancy. Barbeque, especially ribs, can be messy!”

They divided, cleaned, and reformed, refreshed and ready for dinner. Jack was ready first, in jeans and a sports jacket which easily concealed his piece. Mike was thinking of going heavy; this was St. Louis, after all. Eventually he settled on ensuring that Stasia’s pink Tanfoglio Lady Witness 9mm was loaded and in her clutch. He didn’t want to actually carry tonight; after the traffic clusterfuck, the need to kill someone was running high.

The concierge naturally tried to steer them to the in-house restaurant.

“Italian, I can get anywhere. Hell, I can do Italian!” Mike insisted.

“What you want is Pappy’s!” said a desk clerk. Her nametag read Emily.

“Pappy’s?”

“Pappy’s Smokehouse, out on Olive Street. Best barbeque in town! And you have got to try their five-way!”

“Sounds kinky.” The clerk had the decency to blush. “How do we get there?”

“It’s not too far, only twenty blocks west or so.”

“We just flew in, and it’s been quite a day. Can we get a cab?”

The concierge, trying to recover Mike’s good graces, said, “Sir, I can have the hotel limo bring you there and back. It’s a complimentary service that comes with the Presidential Suite.”

Emily interrupted.

“And they shouldn’t be sold out, either! The Cards aren’t in town this week.”

“Sold out?” said Kat.

She turned to the younger woman. “It takes a long time to do barbeque right. When they get busy, they run out of food early.”

“Then let’s stop jawing and move. Emily, thanks!” Mike called over his shoulder, following the suddenly eager-to-please concierge to the VIP exit.

The limo was prompt and delivered them to the restaurant quickly. It was an unimpressive brick building with a plainly lettered sign above the door. Stasia looked on with suspicion.

“That’s a good sign,” said Mike, pointing. A bright neon “OPEN” was still lit.

“Let’s get in before they change their mind.”

The interior didn‘t reflect the plain exterior. The walls, painted yellow above and red below, were covered with pictures, photographs, and t-shirts. Around the ceiling ran a shelf with what appeared to be every barbeque sauce known to man. And, to top it off, a life-sized pink ceramic pig stood in front of them. It was a large space, liberally filled with tables covered with red-checked tablecloths. To the left was an ordering queue, with handwritten menus mounted above. They examined these for a few moments.

“’Pulled pork‘? ‘Beef brisket’? Michael? And what is an ‘Adam bomb‘?”

“What the hell? Frito pie?” added Hughes. “Haven’t seen that in years. Doesn’t matter, I’m going for the Adam bomb. Maybe that’s the five-way.”

“Let’s just go order,” said Mike and, suiting action to words, moved up to the register.

“Howdy!”

“Evening. I think two rib combos. What do you suggest for the meats?”

“I’d go with the brisket, pork, or the turkey.”

“Turkey? Okay, brisket and turkey it is. Sides. How about a beans, a slaw, a sweet potato fries, and potato salad? Four soft drinks. And the junkyard dog behind me wants an Adam bomb.”

“Sides for that?”

“Surprise me,” said Jack.

“And your name?”

“Mike,” he answered, the question in his voice. She was used to the question, given her reaction.

“We’ll call your name when it’s ready. Should be just a few minutes, we’re not real busy right now. Y’all just go have a seat.”

True to her word, less than five minutes later Mike heard his name and turned around. A server saw him and brought a heavily loaded tray. The platters were unloaded and, with a minimum of conversation, attacked. Jack, with the zeal of a man long denied, didn’t say two words until his platter was more than half gone. Then, groaning, he sat back and said, “You’ll have to finish it. I can’t eat another bite.”

They did.

Shortly, satisfied and full, Mike sat back.

That is something I have missed! What did you think, Kat?”          “Different, very different.”

“Did you like it?”

“I liked the, I think it was beef?”

“Brisket, yeah.”

“Brisket. That was very good, very tender. And the turkey, too.”

“I enjoyed the slaw, too,” added Stasia. It appeared she was annoyed that the napkins were paper, not cloth. Most undignified. And difficult to remain clean with any dignity.

“Very similar to something we made for the sheik, but sweeter.”

“It’s made from cabbage, so it doesn’t surprise me.”

Rolling slightly, they rode back to the hotel and went to bed.

Now, after Nielson’s call, Mike lay awake. Part of him itched to return, to get back to the Valley, to finish preparing for the mission. He needed that rush, he knew. The heat of battle fulfilled his sense of duty, as well as satisfying his appetite for destruction. It was when his two halves merged most completely, and he could allow the rage that flowed through him free rein.

But he hated planning, he hated preparation, and he hated waiting. He always had, even in the Teams. The sense of his edge slipping away frustrated him and got him too focused internally. It took a real effort to drag his attention outwards to the needs of the day. He much preferred encountering a situation and dealing with it.

They’d stay for the show, then fly back. That was the plan.

“Michael?” Kat’s sleepy voice brought him back.

“Kat?”

“Did someone call?”

Options flashed.

Lie, say nobody called? No.

Tell her some of the truth, that it was Nielson checking in? No.

“Nielson. The nukes might be in play.” Even as he said it, he felt the rightness. If he was taking this girl… No, dammit, woman! If he was taking this woman as his wife she would share his life fully. That meant being included in planning and executing missions. He hadn’t thought it out, before, but as a supersaturated solution would crystallize instantly, so too did his decision. He felt her tense.

“How soon? Do they need you now?”

She hoped not. She was enjoying her time away from the Valley too much to want to return quickly. Once they returned, these idyllic nights next to her Kildar would end, at least until the wedding. It wasn’t uncommon for a prospective bridegroom to ‘come through the window’ and spend nights with his betrothed. After all, the handfasting ceremony carried the force of law among the Keldara; the couple were as good as married. Perhaps as the Kildaran she would be able to reverse the tradition and come through Mike’s window? It bore some thinking on.

“A few days and they’ll need us, but there’s plenty of time. We’ll head home tomorrow, after the concert.”

“Good.” She snuggled closer to him. “I am ready to go back to the valley, but don’t want to leave your bed just yet.”

She made sure that her ass pressed up against his middle.

Down, boy! he thought.

“It won’t be for much longer,” he said, stroking her hair. “I don’t know that I could keep your honor intact if we kept this up, anyway.”

He felt her smile. “Nor I yours. Stasia asks me, every morning, if I have taken you yet.”

“She does?”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Every morning?”

“Mm-hmm.”

“And what do you tell her!”

She pinched him, hard. “The truth! You cannot keep your hands off me and that I am a ruined, ruined woman!” Laughing, she added, “I don’t think she believes me.”

“Brat!”

He whipped himself over her, pinned her, and began a manic tickle attack. She writhed and howled beneath, laughing and trying ineffectually to force him off. He relented quickly. Her tickle response was extremely high, and he worried she wouldn’t breathe for laughing.

Still atop her, he said, “Give up?”

“Never!” With surprising skill, she seemed to levitate from the bed, grasp his arms, flip him in midair, and land, straddling him.

“Damn! How’d you manage that?”

“Didn’t the Chief tell you I was working with him?”

“I don’t think you learned that from Adams,” he said. “Certainly not the landing.”

She glanced down as if suddenly aware all that was between them were their thin nightclothes.

“No, that was my own.” Her voice turned seductive, moving her hands along his arms.

“There is something else, something I would like to try.”

“Oh?”

“Yes,” she said, leaning down to kiss him. “There is. Don’t move.”

She kissed his neck, and his chest, her long hair trailing, her hips moving rhythmically into him. It had been days since his session with Stasia, and Mike was instantly aroused.

“Kat, what are you -”

She kissed him again.

“Shh. Your Kildaran wants to do this.”

Then she was kissing him again, her hand creeping under his waistband and brushing his member. He was hard under her hand. Slowly, inexpertly, but with increasing confidence, she began to stroke him. Her mouth continued its journey down his chest, hair tickling.

She used her other hand to tug his boxers down to mid-thigh, bunching against her legs, straddling one leg and grinding against him.

She didn’t hesitate a moment, Mike noted in a remote corner of his mind as she took him into her mouth. Most of his thoughts were occupied by the beautiful woman giving him her first-ever blow job and trying to remember how to hold back.

Baseball statistics, he thought, her tongue active along his dick.

WHIP is walks plus hits divided by innings pitched, was the desperate thought, her hand gently cupping his balls. It was no use resisting; she had been part of his fantasies, admitted or not, for too long. At least he could give her a choice.

“I’m going to come,” he managed to gasp, trying to pull her off him. She pushed his hand away and pulled him deeper into her mouth. He felt it before he erupted, pumping into her throat. Amazingly, she swallowed it all, and when he finally relaxed back, spent, she came up for air smiling.

“Tinata told me you liked this,” she whispered.

“God, honey, that was fantastic!” He hugged her, then let her settle against his shoulder. “Do you want a drink? There’s got to be something in here.”

“No, Michael. I think, yes, I think I like the taste. Now. You will sleep.”

And he did.

Published by gaffen620

Author of The Cassidy Chronicles. Lives in Colorado with many dogs, cats, and one very patient wife.

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