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Blast! I can’t do it. I can’t betray my kin, my own lovely daughter. This key might be our only way out, but I really do need that drink. For two days, my guts have been in a twist, and I can’t keep the tremble from my hands. Just one little sip would help. It would take the edge off my nerves, and clear out some of the fog so I can think. Right now, the only thing I can think about is drinking. Or, fighting. Or, drinking and fighting. Maybe fecking, too. But, I ken that none of these things will help Aine right now. I’m a sorry excuse for a father.
The alien wants me to trust him. Says he’s going to escape and take me and my Aine with him. Now, why would he do that? Out of the goodness of his heart, I suppose? Does he think I’m some sort of a fud or a simpleton? I give him a hard look, but I still can’t find a single trace of malice in the guy. So, why then? It’s got me totally buggered.
“Tell you what,” I finally say as I scratch my stubbly chin with flicking fingers. “What say we sit down over here and have ourselves a little craic.”
“A little what?”
I chuckle as he tilts his head, and his face takes on that blank expression that I like so much.
“Chat. Let’s have us a chat,” I tell him, already making my way over to the little sitting area. I watch, amused, as he folds his huge body into a chair that was obviously never meant to support a man of his size and girth. My eyes drift down to the flagon in his hand, and his fingers tighten around the bottle’s neck.
“What would you like to chat about?” He asks with an air of confidence I can tell he doesn’t really feel.
I may be the one with the shakes, but he’s sure as shite the one with the nerves right now. I keep my withering stare on him, and before long he begins to twitch. They always do. He thinks to ply me with whiskey in exchange for my key and all my secrets. He almost succeeded, but thoughts of my family will keep me strong in my purpose. I’d never betray them, never betray Aine.
“Why don’t you pour us both a little swallow of that, and it might loosen my tongue a bit,” I tell him. He smirks, but I can tell he’s debating.
“One little swallow,” he finally says, and places two empty cups on the small table between us.
My mouth waters in anticipation as the mysterious brown elixir splashes against the sides the cup. Then, he pours a second one, and hands it to me. My hand shakes as I take it from him, bringing it straight to my lips, and downing it in one gulp.
“Ahh,” I manage to get out before the burning in my throat renders my vocal cords pretty much useless. I doubt diesel fuel could be any harsher. “What is that stuff?” I croak.
The alien laughs, and takes a small sip from his own cup. “It’s called kocho, and it’s got a kick to it. I was going to warn you, but you didn’t give me time.”
“What’s your plan here, alien? Are you trying to get me to do your dirty work?”
“What? I… No!”
“You plan to sneak out of here and leave me holding the bag?”
“Of course not! You… I mean, Aine. I need—”
“You’re gonna let Aine take the blame?”
The damn alien doesn’t even try to answer that one. He just starts growling like a Rottweiler.
“What’s your interest in my daughter? Spit it out, lad.” He stops growling, and gives me that blank look again. It’s all I can do not to cackle.
You don’t live the kind of life I have, and not pick up a trick or two. I’ve learned that being blunt and throwing rapid curve balls out of left field often takes an opponent off guard. If you can rile him up enough, he’ll sometimes start blurting, more often than not, the truth.
“What are you trying to pull, E.T.? You think you’re going to diddle my daughter?”
Oh shite. Suddenly, the enormous seven-foot-tall alien in the chair across from me seems to expand right before my very eyes. His tawny color turns dark and he dons a champion scowl, even better than mine, I think. I swear his fangs get longer, and the veins in his neck strain against his skin. What was in that drink? I may have pushed him a little too hard.
“No one will be ‘diddling’ Aine,” he roars as he flies up out of his chair, and I nearly shite myself.
“Calm down, you loon. We’re just having a chat.” He seems to get hold of himself a wee bit. Though, his chest still heaves in and out a little harder than makes me comfortable. “Just sit down, and pour us another swallow to calm our nerves.”
Ah. There’s that blank look again. I see the corner of his mouth twitch, but he does it. He sits down and pours us both another cup of diesel fuel. My hand is a little steadier this time as I reach for it.
“There’s a good lad,” I tell him as I take a small swallow. “Now, why don’t we cut through all the shite, and you tell me what’s going on. I ken you’re not a bad fella’.”
Finally, the bullshite persona melts away, and I’m staring at the truth face to face.
“Aine is my amavi compar,” he tells me. “My fated mate.”
“Fated mate, yes. I’ve known it since the first time I saw her. She is destined to walk beside me in this life, and in the hereafter. She is my true partner, and I hers. We were made by the Goddess for one another.”
“Uh huh,” I squint at him as I take another sip from my cup. “Does she know this?”
“I have told her that she is mine, yes.”
“And, she didn’t hand you your arse?”
“If by that you mean she didn’t flay me, then that’s correct. I believe, deep down, she knows this truth, as well.”
“Uh huh,” I nod, my entire body numb either from the kocho or the shock of some nimrod telling me he’s my daughter’s fated husband.
“Don’t worry,” he blurts. “I have not yet claimed her.”
My arsehole suddenly shrivels to the size of a small pea, and my eyes dart around the room searching for something sharp to kill him with.
“Bruce… honored sire. I know that Aine is a princess back on your Earth,” he starts.
There! I can use that ice pick thingie.
“…And I am but the cousin of a king. However, I vow to love and cherish her all the days of her life, and I pledge my sword, my honor, and my life to defend her. Nothing will harm her so long as I live.”
My eyebrows rise up an inch or two. Something he says catches my interest, and I decide to let him live another minute or two. I take a long draw of kocho, and roll my eyes over him slowly.
“Cousin of a king, you say?”
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