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Blog of L.V. Lane


“Damn it!”

It has been a testing day.

It has been a testing year, and I’m close to my breaking point.

Gritting my teeth, I double-down my efforts to free the trapped plow.

It’s a battle of wills, and I’m confident the plow is winning.

Percy, my stoic workhorse, looks on while I grunt and strain. He’s doing his bit, pulling when I ask, but I can see the blade has got wedged under a sizable chunk of rock. A short distance away, Shep, my black mongrel, watches with curiosity.

I push, pull, and get on my knees in the dirt and try to dig around the rock in my path. Shep tries to help—he gets in the way.

This obstacle is more than a mere rock in a field. It represents my life, a thousand big and small happenings that have led to this conjuncture. I convince myself that if I can only move this rock, everything will magically be fine.

I do stupid things like that, try and guess the outcome of mundane activities and allocate mystical properties to getting it wrong or right.

I’m committed now, and the future quality of my life depends on my ability to free the plow.

Time passes. Percy snoozes on his feet, while Shep is lying down with his nose to his paws, seemingly still baffled by his human’s antics.

My functional shirt and breeches are the same color as the dirt by the time I’m done. Finally, when I roll the beast of a rock out of the way, Percy lumbers forward with ease.

I burst into tears.

A wet tongue laps at my cheek, and I throw weak arms around Shep’s neck. “Good boy,” I say as I ruffle the fur on his wriggling body.

I feel like I’ve conquered the world, but I’m so tired I’m shaking, and I can barely regain my feet. Dusk has fallen over the landscape while I’ve been struggling with my belligerent rock. My stomach rumbles in protest, reminding me that I’ve not eaten since this morning.

“Come on, Percy,” I say as I pat his hairy neck, and, leaving the plow in the middle of the field, unhook him from the harness. Shep barks his approval.

Guilt swamps me. I shouldn’t leave the plow in the middle of the field. My father never left a job half done; he’d have finished this small lot in a few hours. I’ve no idea how I’m going to plant it, but I’m going through the process in the hopes that it will all miraculously fall into place.

My tears dry against my grubby cheeks as I lead Percy into his stable, his hooves clattering against the cobbles of the yard. Shep lopes circles around us. He’s probably hoping for food—he’s not alone in this.

The days are getting shorter and the evening wind has bite—my problems are coming to a head.

I take his bridle off and give Percy his feed. He’s a gentle old soul, and we’ve had him since I was a little girl. I can’t remember a time before Percy.

He lifts his head while I’m still busy, snorting for attention, and I stop to pat his neck. There’s a little white at his brows now. He’s getting old.

Beyond the stable door, Shep sits, waiting patiently.

They are all that I have left.

What will I do when Percy goes?

What when they are both gone?

Dashing fresh tears from my cheeks, I kiss Percy’s hairy neck. “Chin up, eh, Percy.”

Closing the stable door, I head over to the rickety, wooden cottage that I call home. Shep is sitting expectantly at the bottom of the three steps that lead to the door, tail beating at the rough, cobbled ground.

Home.

There was another place I lived once, but this is the only place I can call home. Only, it’s not a home any more. It hasn’t felt like one since my father died last fall.

Opening the door, I head in. Shep trots in behind. Shadows fill the interior, and I can barely see a thing. The fire has gone out, and it’s not much warmer inside than out. It’s late—I’ve been so distracted by that damn rock.

Shep whines and beats his tail against the floor. “Okay boy, you want the bone?”

The remains of a salted leg of lamb sits on the side under a cloth—this is the last of the stored meat. The beating tempo picks up. How can I resist? I hand him the bone, and he’s off like a shot.

I curse the little fiend. I’ll never get him back inside now he’s got his treat. I shouldn’t really have him in the house, he’s half wolf-hound and meant to guard the site. But ever since my father passed, I’ve been letting him sleep inside.

Occasionally, I also let him on the bed.

The door slams shut as a gust of wind batters it. I lift the bar into place under automation. It’s not like anyone visits anymore. Not since I left that sign. I didn’t need my father’s warning to implement that plan. I’m a small female, helpless—the kind that is preyed upon—visitors are not welcome here.

In the gloom, I can’t see much, only shadows. The table takes up most of the space, the fireplace dominates the rest. To the left of it is an alcove hugging the chimney breast with a heavy drape that can be closed to keep it warm. That’s my bed.

Right of the fireplace, another bedding nook has been closed for a year—that one belonged to my father.

I’m hungry and dirty, but mostly tired. I should light the fire and get cleaned up before I get into bed.

I should eat.

I can’t remember when I last had a drink.

But I’m so damn tired.

This life isn’t for me, not on my own. I’m small, and although I pride myself on my determination, I know I’m wallowing in denial.

I can’t survive on my own, and the stores of food are dwindling at an alarming rate. This is fall, there should be grain and fruit aplenty, but it hasn’t worked out. The rains came before I could gather the few crops and they spoiled in a matter of days. The small orchard became riddled with fungus before the fruit could ripen.

Then the barn developed a leak and the grain stores were ruined.

I’m running out of options, and yet I don’t know what to do for the best. Failing a miracle, which have been in woefully short supply since my father died, I will need to leave soon.

It is a three day trip to the nearest village, the town, another week.

I sigh.

I am prey. This isn’t self-pity talking. This is an acknowledgment of a fact. I am small and weak; I am an Omega. I am a prize that men war over.

I need to leave soon, or I will die here. But that isn’t for today or tonight, but a decision for tomorrow.

“Fire first,” I tell myself, reaching for the tinder box. I try to keep the fire stocked since lighting it is a quest. It can take me a good five or ten minutes to encourage it to catch. The light is fading though, and if I don’t do it now, I’ll have to wait until morning.

I don’t have any other lights since oil for the lamp has run out long since, and that despite rationing it. Once dusk falls, the fire is it.

Kneeling before it, I prep the tinder, and go through the motions of striking and hoping. I can’t see much of what I’m doing, the odd spark, the occasional brief glow.

My hands are shaking, my arms and back are on fire after wrangling with that rock, but I’m determined. If I can light this fire, everything will work out.

The fire becomes a source of personal conquest.

It represents a hope far greater than warmth and comfort.

It represents my life.

I will light this damn fire. This is a quest I can’t afford to fail.

My knees hurt, I swear every muscle in my body is screaming, but I’m not giving up.

But it’s really late, and I can’t see what I’m doing.

And I don’t light the fire.

I try to ignore the bleak cloud my failed quest perpetrates, and the crowding specters judging the sorry state of my life.

Stripping from my filthy clothes, I wash in cold water, and donning my night shift, climb into a cold bed.

Excerpt, Prey © L.V. Lane 2021


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Hazel

“Have you ever kissed a boy,” he asks.

“Kissed a boy?” I send a surreptitious glance at the Alpha lad sitting beside me on the riverbank. “No, never,” I say.

I do not know Alphas well, other than the few who pass through Oxenford, our village, which sits on a thoroughfare between north Hydornia and south. My father is a smith and farrier, and his work is held in high regard. Although we are only a small village, he gets plenty of work from the local city and those passing through.

“I’m too young to kiss a boy,” I say, repeating my father’s phrase back to the Alpha. I swear Papa says it twenty times a day and more frequently of late since my body started to change. “I am only thirteen.”

I stare at the river. The lad sitting beside me is an Alpha, and a little older, although he is not yet a man. He is also so handsome that I think it borders upon beauty. His name is Fen, and I have seen him occasionally when he passes through with his stern older brother.

This is the first time I have really noticed him. And the first time we have spoken.

I am also sure it is the first time he has noticed me . . . and my breasts, which he has stared at often in the short time since he arrived. I think he might have stared at them more than the whole of the rest of me. For reasons that elude me, I quite like that he looks at them with an expression somewhere between wonder and pain.

I sneak a glance, finding him staring at the river with a brooding expression. He sends a small branch sailing, and it lands in the river with a splash. A fat toad bounds out of the water, darting straight for us only to avert course at the last moment.

I squeal.

Fen chuckles. It has a pleasing timbre, although I’m assuredly not happy that he is laughing at my expense.

“It is only a toad,” he says.

“I know that,” I say, glaring back. I am not scared of a toad like some weak, simpering lasses, and I burn with indignation that he is thinking me so. My mother died three years ago, and I have taken responsibility for my younger siblings ever since. My father married again, but she is not a hale woman and is forever supping tonic for some ailment or other. “I was surprised, is all.”

Still smirking, he turns toward the river again. I have a strange feeling he does not trust himself to look my way without staring at my breasts. “I would not allow anything to hurt you,” he says.

There is a compelling quality to his words. Like he really would not allow anything to hurt me.

Since he is looking away, I allow myself an opportunity to study him. He is easily twice my size, tall, broad-shouldered . . . and a barbarian, for he comes from the eastern clans. He wears only hide pants and boots, leaving his muscular upper body exposed. My tummy gets a little flutter as I watch his biceps bunching while he pokes about in the grasses with another stick. I did not think a man, never mind a lad, could be built thus.

His stick stills, and he turns, catching me in the act of perusing him. Heat flames my cheeks, and my dress becomes tight across my breasts, making the simple act of breathing hard.

“You have hazel eyes,” he says. “Is that where you got your name?”

“All babies have blue eyes,” I say, feeling like I must be wiser for knowing this fact.

“They are very pretty,” he says.

That statement disarms all my thoughts. Now he is staring at my eyes in a way that makes me breathless all over again. I chuckle. It is colored with nervousness at being complimented and caught staring at him earlier. “They cannot be that pretty, for you have not looked at them often.”

His lips tug up. “I am looking at them now, aren’t I?”

“Yes,” I agree. “But I have a feeling you would rather be looking elsewhere.” Happen, we would both rather be looking elsewhere . . .

His eyes crinkle at the corners with amusement. They are dark brown. I also think them pretty, although they hold an intensity that seems misplaced in one so young.

“You make me wish I had ten sets of eyes so that I could look everywhere at once,” he says, smiling. “I want to kiss you. To be the first boy to kiss you. And I don’t know why, but looking at your eyes makes me want to kiss you more than when I was looking at your t—”

“Fen! I will tan your fucking hide if you are up to mischief!”

The roar is near enough to rouse the dead. We both start. It is the voice of the stern older Alpha. It is the voice of his brother.

“Fuck!” Fen mutters. Smirking, he rolls his eyes. Then he groans, and capturing my face between his strong hands, plants a swift kiss upon my lips. “I am coming,” he hollers back before scrambling to his feet and hastening to his brother’s command.

I should go too. I have chores aplenty. Then there are my sibling brats who will be up to all manner of mischief without me there.

But I linger a little longer, for I do not want the spell broken.

My lips tingle. I brush my fingertips over them, imagining Fen’s mouth is still there.

When I came to the river, I had never kissed a boy. But now, I have.

I feel both older and yet too young.

I want to kiss a boy again. But only that boy. I want to learn more about the softness of his lips and the tickle of the scruff where his beard is starting to grow. I want to pet all the gleaming muscles. I want to explore all the dips and ridges. I wonder how much stronger such a lad must be compared to me, yet how gentle he was when he cupped my face.

I want to experience things I do not yet understand.

I know kissing leads to rutting. My father is a blunt man who has warned me more times than I can count about lads and their propensity for rutting.

I am too young for rutting. That is for once a lass is married. But I do not think I am too young for kissing.

There is a spring in my step and a lightness in my soul as I return to the cottage. I hope that Fen and his brother have reason to pass through Oxenford often, and that if they do, he might kiss me again.

Only the Goddess has other plans, and the war with the Blighten sends many men away. I do not see Fen or his brother again. After a while, I cannot even remember the young Alpha’s face.

Then on my eighteenth birthday, as is expected, I marry a Beta male.

Excerpt, Trained For Their Pleasure © L.V. Lane 2021



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Excerpt, Predictive Copyright © L.V. Lane 2021

 

Definition: Predictive insight, Of the past—fact.

Definition: Predictive truth, A Proven fact.

Eva

I hated military bases with a passion. They were noisy, crowded, offered barely adequate accommodation, and by nature, housed bawdy military personnel. It was the nearest location to Edson-46, my final destination, and I was due to transfer on at the end of the week, so as choices went, this was it. I waited to exit the shuttle, a shiny titaliua carry-all at my side, which contained my personal possessions. It was a large carry-all, but I did have a lot of possessions.

The ship’s captain had accompanied my shuttle ride down to the Irra base; that incident with the brigadier doubtless behind his over attentiveness.

As the exit ramp lowered, I was greeted by—absolutely no one.

There should be someone.

There was always someone.

Usually, there were several someones.

Red dust blew around the sprawling compound that filled my view as the ramp touched down. I had watched the approach from the sky as we descended; the base was the typical hub and spoke design, with internal shuttle docks on the east and a cluster of residential and administrative pods on the west. A dozen substantive storage cylinders that must have reached half a mile high sat to the north surrounding an ore processing plant. And here, south of the main docks, were the overflow docks.

The compound before me housed a dozen smaller storage structures. Movers, people, and bots beat a path between the transports in the overflow dock, the storage pods, and the central base.

The breeze increased, ruffling my hair and clothing. I smoothed out my sky-blue tunic, blinked against the flying grit, and failed to stifle a scowl. “He’ll be along presently, I’m sure,” the ship’s captain said. He shielded his eyes with a hand and radiated ‘uncomfortable’ as he walked down the ramp at my side. “It’s been busy here by all accounts,” he said conversationally.

My return smile was frosty. I wanted to get out of this hellish environment and into a cool air-conditioned room. It seemed ludicrous that the base didn’t have sufficient internal shuttle docks. I could almost feel the waves of radiation on my skin.

“Trouble at Nammu—they say production has stopped,” the captain continued.

“I didn’t hear about that?” That would be sure to frustrate the government. I kept abreast of news since it facilitated predictions, but I had heard nothing of stopped production. I had been waylaid at New Earth for six days. Yet more trouble with insurgents at Rendeen, and I’d been ordered to look into that. The analysis had yielded nothing, and finally, those niggling concerns about the research station Edson-46 had driven me to demand I be given license to investigate without further delay.

I had taken the first ship here, a dilapidated cargo vessel whose owners had invested in cutting-edge engines and very little else. Both the vessel and the occupants had made my skin crawl. Finally, at New Eden, I had transferred to the frigate under the command of Captain Sven, which had brought me here to Irra.

“Report came through as we were docking at the space station, three standard-hours ago. Communication has become sporadic in some sectors during transit.”

Trigger.

“Federation?” We couldn’t afford the space fleet to be out of communication, and fresh worries surfaced to join old ones.

He nodded—trigger: he was lying; he did not believe it was the Federation.


From my right, billowing clouds of red dust in its wake, came a small All-Terrain Vehicle. I’m going to destroy someone’s career if that’s for me.

It pulled up to a screeching halt amid a shower of grit.

And out stepped Landon followed by a nervous young man, whom I placed as a civilian admin from his uniform, and whom I immediately dismissed.

I enjoyed looking at Landon, he was an attractive man in a refined sort of way, and he wasn’t bulky as so many military types, including my brother, were. I often wondered how my brother, Eric, didn’t break things while going about everyday life.

Landon was also innately calm and eminently polite, both of which were in his favor—his tardiness was not. He walked over at a steady pace, seeming impervious to the swirling dust. No hint that he might be rushing knowing he was late, nor any indication that he might offer an apology.

He nodded at the ship’s captain. “Captain Sven, a pleasure to have you here.”

“No,” I said.

Landon’s face swung my way—everyone’s face swung my way. The ship’s captain mumbled about “incoming storms” as he beat a hasty retreat. The young admin shuffled from foot to foot.

“No?” Landon’s face was perfectly neutral, but I was a predictive, and I wasn’t buying that. “You don’t wish to ride in the Toad?” He made a sweeping motion with his arm. “It will be my pleasure to walk you to your quarters.”

Toad? The ATV was certainly ugly enough. Behind me, the ramp began rising. Captain Sven was making good on his escape.

“No.” I realized I had stamped my foot when I noticed both Landon and the admin were staring at it. The admin’s face had lost all color. Landon wore a poker face.

“How would you like to proceed to your room?” Landon asked in a reasonable tone.

The central residential pods had to be half a mile away across…chaos, and through a dust-saturated environment and questionable air quality. I gave my head the briefest incline toward the ATV. The admin wilted with relief, and Landon threw the nearest door open.

“Gordon, please deliver Ms. Lowe’s baggage to her quarters, promptly.”

“Yes, sir! It will be waiting when Ms. Lowe arrives.”

My glance at the admin revealed disappointment, but he was enthusiastic in leaping to the task. And he was an android, I noticed, so he wasn’t boasting that he would deliver the luggage ahead of me.

Landon stood by impassive as I clambered into the vehicle. Copious amounts of dust had either just blown in, or were merely there by default. I tried to sit without actually sitting—I deigned to touch as little of the vehicle as was possible. Dragging my gaze away from the filthy interior, I realized the door was so massive that I couldn’t reach the handle. Who would design something this way?

Sighing, I gave a pointed look from the door to Landon. His neutral face didn’t so much as twitch.

“Can I close the door for you?”

“Yes, yes, please. I would really like you to close the door.”

“My pleasure.” He slammed it shut and circled the vehicle, climbed in beside me, and shut his own door with ease.

I inspected his arms—they did not appear to be freakishly long.

“Eric sends his regards. He wanted to be here, but as you know, duty calls and all that.”

“He did not,” I scoffed in disbelief

Landon cracked a smile at my expense. “No, he did not,” he agreed.

There was a base map in the dashboard, but he shoved it into manual and took off at a steady pace; after his abrupt arrival, I’d half expected to be clinging to my seat. Battered wipers screeched back and forth across a windshield scoured by many such iterations as they sought to displace the red dust. How can he see where he’s going?

“You enjoy driving a…” That nickname had to be a joke? “Toad?”

This time Landon’s smile was genuine. “I do enjoy driving a Toad.” He was usually guarded with his emotions—it was one of the reasons I found him so fascinating—and the warmth in his voice and smile held a mesmerizing quality.

“You drove fast because you were late.” This realization mollified me.

“Partly.”

I frowned. What did he mean by partly?

We stopped to allow a procession of movers to cross.

“My admin feared our lateness might be—career limiting. While I’d love to see you try and have me stood down, Gordon is not blessed with the same level of confidence.”

Trigger.

I studied his profile. Predictive insight. “You know Brigadier Jadison.”

The movers cleared from our path, and the ATV pulled off.

“A personal friend of mine.”

“So that’s what this is about?”

“I’m amazed you didn’t know instantly what this was about. Aren’t you a predictive?” He cut a glance my way.

“It doesn't work like that. In fact, this entire encounter is going nothing like I predicted.”

Turning away, I stared out the side window but snapped my head back at his laugh. It had a pleasant quality, and I was irritated with myself for acknowledging this when he was clearly laughing at my expense, again.

“So, how did you predict this encounter would go? Was I supposed to swoon because you cracked the Federation player?”

A shower of substantial rocks peppered the side of the vehicle. Was this safe to be out in? “Never mind,” I looked away and tried to ignore the continuing rattle of rocks against the vehicle. “It’s unprofessional of you to treat me this way because of an incident you did not even witness. I didn’t request his dismissal. If the man recognized his own incompetence and decided to rethink his career choice after meeting me, I would say I did him a favor.”

“You just roll around the universe, doing people favors,” he said, not bothering to mask his sarcasm. “What an upstanding citizen you are.”

My retort was curtailed by our arrival at the base entrance. I hated space travel and was delighted to be planet side. Even this remote military base was sufferable after weeks in transit.

Relieved to be out of the appalling environment, I was escorted into my temporary accommodation. The apartment consisted of a single living space, with a bed against the left wall, a seating area and desk before the window to my front, and a compact facility area on the right. Other than a door right of the bed, which I presumed to be a robe, and bathroom, that was it. While spacious, clean, and fastidiously neat, it was basic at best—the wall display only covered half the wall. The window, which was presently covered in a sheen of red dust, was scratched and rutted from the harsh weather.

And it was gray, every single piece of furniture and furnishing was gray—except the floor—the floor was dark gray. This was why I hated military bases.

I glanced back at Landon, noting his gray fatigues—it must be so easy for one to lose clothing and their sanity in this room. “Is this it?” Was this further ‘punishment’ for wronging his associate?

“These are my quarters. I’ve moved out so you could have them. They are the best you are getting here.”

Predictive truth. The words were a simple statement of fact and held no malice.

“Thank you.”

“What? No, come back.”

“You’re telling the truth.” It was hard to find fault in a person who had donated his room.

“Good to know that mountainous brain decided to kick in.”

“You’re being very difficult…and judgmental.”

His eyebrows shot up.

I sighed. “You think I’m the difficult one.” I supposed I had been somewhat—aloof—with him in the past, and I was the first person to admit my reputation was well founded. “I’ve slept in worse. I was delayed at New Earth, and the two hellish weeks I spent on a cargo vessel was a personal trial. I should have been at Edson-46 by now.”

“You were taking a vacation?”

I thought he didn’t believe me to have been taking a vacation, but he was curious about the delay. “Insurgent troubles at Rendeen,” I said sadly. “It’s bad enough we have the Federation biting at our heels without internal strife. The trouble was localized and unstructured, and the delay while I investigated it wasted valuable time.” I was not one for explaining myself, and rarely did I need to, but Eric had fought under Landon’s command for more than a decade, and my brother had colorful views.

“I know what happened with Jadison,” he said, surprising me.

“My complaint with Brigadier Jadison wasn’t with his provided quarters, although it was dreadful, and I did voice this opinion.”

Landon smiled. “Yes, I know.” His smile faded. “His subordinate failed to deliver an urgent report to you. The consequence of which proved to be extreme.”

“When I fail to receive information, people can die. The responsible man was stood down. Jadison took accountability for the incident as the commanding officer.”

“Yes, that would be Jadison,” Landon said.

“There is a war. We can’t afford to be sloppy. Every decision must be weighed. Every moment is precious.” Why had I ever thought him polite? He had been extremely impolite ever since I got here. “So why did you behave so—” I struggled to find a politically correct term for his abhorrent behavior, and coming up blank, gestured in his general direction.

“I tried to persuade him not to resign. He wasn’t bitter about it and admitted he had allowed poor behavior on his watch.” Landon shrugged. “But mostly because he did say you were the most unreasonable person he had ever met.”

Yes, it was hard to dispute a fact. “That’s probably true.”

His laughter followed him out of the room.

Alone, I connected to my account and brought the latest information to view. Edson-46 was never far from my mind. There was something I was missing. Something wrong. Something I needed to uncover about that secret research base. Feeling tired, but determined to review my latest updates, I collected a glass of water and made my way toward the seating area.

An alarm blared, and the blast shields slammed down, sealing my window against the outer world. The glass of water dropped from my numb fingers and shattered against the floor.

“The base is secure,” Landon’s voice came through my communicator. “The shields are a precaution until we get the full status report.”

Trigger. My heart stuttered. I didn’t need the full report.

“Edson-46.” An entire moon lost.

Hundreds of people lost.

“Yeah.” He sounded tired. “It’s been—destroyed. I’ll give you a live feed of what we have.”

The communication closed and an image appeared on wall display, I presumed from a satellite around the lost station that had somehow survived.

I sank to my knees as grief consumed me. I should have been there, should never have allowed them to delay me. Had I been at Edson-46, I might have stopped this.

“Edson-46 is only the beginning, and I can’t stop this,” I whispered to myself. “This is what I predicted.”

It’s over. I put my head in my hands and cried. For Edson-46, for Aterra, and for our civilization, it is over.

 
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