Another week, another update on Benny! I hope you enjoy this update. I incorporated the words: blanket, claws, stomach from the prompts this week.
Lost Inside Chapter Five
Benny yawned. He had a rare day off to spend watching Yuri. He’d brought a blanket to lay on since the ground was still damp, but the sun was shining. Spring was in full swing. The sun warmed the damp ground, and the smell of dirt and green, growing things surrounded him.
He’d moved closer to the eyrie than ever before, confident the myriad of smells would hide his scent. Yuri was playing with the young, letting them climb like a tree before they jumped off and ‘flew’ to the ground.
The Falcon youngsters shrieked and laughed. Benny rolled onto his stomach and rested his head on his hands. The pit in his stomach yawned huge and empty, but he ignored the ache. He closed his eyes and listened to his mate talking animatedly with the Falcons.
Benny lifted his head. The bush above him rustled. Velaku was standing down by his mate, along with… Ellis?
And his mate knew Ellis by name now?
It’d only been three days since Benny told him about Yuri.
Yuri bounded over to the men and hugged them. Benny dug his claws into the ground, but couldn’t stop the snarl. It didn’t matter if both of the men were mated, he didn’t like to see them touching his mate. Not when he couldn’t… Benny winced at the sharp pain.
He whined. Velaku’s head snapped up, and he stared at Benny’s hiding place. His wings flared. “Head inside. I’ll be right there.”
Ellis nodded. Yuri grabbed his arm, towing him in the house, gesturing wildly. When they met, Benny had been taken aback by the Tiger’s stern public façade, until the first time they’d met in private. Yuri became a whole other man, one with laugh lines who talked fast and gestured wildly. He was hot and passionate.
Benny choked, his throat tight.
Velaku launched himself into the air, his white wings flared wide to push him up the hill. He flapped twice, then set down beside the bush Benny hid under.
The door shut behind the last young Falcon. Benny backed out of the bush and stood up. He refused to be embarrassed. “Hello Velaku.”
“Ellis said today was your day off. You’re here, a lot, aren’t you?”
“Yes.” Every day, if he could make it. “I-I have to make sure he’s okay.” Benny rubbed his stomach as he glanced down at the house.
“The family was worried. Last week one of their younglings found claw marks on a tree.”
Benny frowned. “They what?”
“They found your fresh markings on a tree. This is Falcon land. You really shouldn’t be marking here, though I understand your need to see your mate, that is going too far.”
“I didn’t mark any tree. I don’t want to leave my scent anywhere Yuri might come across it.” The earth always covered the claw marks on the days he had little control.
“Someone else marked the trees, then?” Velaku’s eyes narrowed. “I will have my men look into this.”
“Screw having someone look into this,” Benny snarled. “Tigers mark their property. Someone’s threatening my mate.” Benny started to push through the bushes. “I’m getting him out of here.”
Velaku grabbed his bicep, pulling him to a stop. The slim bird Carthera had a firm grip and wouldn’t let go. “Do you want your mate back?”
Benny glared over his shoulder. “What the hell does that mean?”
“Ellis has been meeting with Yuri, trying to get a handle on his diagnosis. Any progress he might make will be set back if you burst into that home and drag your mate out by force. You know he won’t go with you willingly, not now. Are you going put him through that?”
Fuck! Benny ground his teeth. He yanked his arm away from Velaku. “What the hell am I supposed to do?”
“You gather information and wait. For now, you come with me to check the markings and let my guards do their job.”
Velaku pointed up.
“Shit. I never even….” Two Carthera perched in trees to the right and left of his spot. The brown clad bird’s wings even blended with sparsely leafed branches. “Why are you doing this? Protecting my mate, helping me?”
Velaku raised one eyebrow. “Do I need a reason beyond the fact you live in my territory, and whoever made those markings is trespassing?”
“Tiger clans aren’t very… social outside our clan, especially when dealing with threats.” Most Tigers never stepped outside the hierarchy they were born into. They never asked for help outside the clan. Outsiders were tolerated publicly, but not associated with beyond absolute necessity.
“For Yuri, you mated above your station. He dared to mate you when it went against his father’s plans.” Velaku led him farther up the hill behind the eyrie.
Benny winced. He flexed his claws, bitterness twisting inside him. “And for that he beat us both within an inch of our lives. If it wasn’t for my family getting help and sneaking us out, we would’ve died. Jerret agreed to take the blame for going against orders to get us out and got banished for it. If you hadn’t let us live here, we’d have been outcasts.”
“None of which was your fault. The Tiger clans have been dwindling for a reason. Each generation the pool of mates shrinks and clans are forced to merge to prevent dying out.”
Benny stopped, staring at Velaku’s back in shock. “How do you know that?” Their falling birth rates and the horrific defects that were rejected at birth meant most couples had one, maybe two children accepted into the clan and survive. It was a closely guarded secret.
Velaku turned around. “My father wished for peace between the clans and humans, and he got it. But there are so many Carthera still suffering in the world due to archaic beliefs and practices. He wanted to bring all the clans into the modern world. The Tiger clans aren’t alone in their problems.”
TBC (more to come this week!!)
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