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babe? asked Reeve.
 Well, that should be obvious& to save it, hun. The Helix
Corporation has been around for decades. They ve always
provided good paying jobs, they ve sponsored events just like this
one and they ve given young cadets the chance with
scholarships like the commander here. Vela took a sip of her
champagne.  And more importantly, they build good weapons,
not like the crap Traece flogs off. We need them, Reeve. She
drove an index finger into the table.  Did you know, that last year
alone, fifteen soldiers died while handling Traece rifles and those
are just the ones we could prove. They were just kids for
* * * *
The two men watched her down the champagne. The anger was
present in her body language and the frustration was in her
Reeve swore and leaned back with an arm draped over the
chair.  Not good. Is there any way of stopping them before they
take over the world military weapon market?
 I ve been brainstorming for weeks since I took on this
position. And I haven t got a clue. Short of blowing up their
manufacturing plant, there isn t much I can do, but promote our
product and pray for sales. Vela glanced at Slade with an
amiable smile.  Which reminds me& did you receive my
brochure, hun? The one I asked Michael, to pass on.
The swordsman was a hundred miles away.  Publicity&  he
absently mumbled.
 Are you with us, blade boy? Reeve moved a hand up and
down in front of his blank face.
 Oh, Slade blinked,  yeah, like I said publicity& the Helix
Corporation needs lots of good publicity. That would boost
He hadn t heard a word. The cowboy and demolitions
specialist looked at each, then burst out laughing.
 Sure hun, publicity. Vela waved a waiter over.  Another
bottle of champagne for me, please, and get my friends here,
whatever they want. You can put it on my tab.
 Yes, Ms. Porter.
* * * *
The ammunitions officer spent most of the evening drinking his
sorrows away. He d danced with Theresa, talked with friends
about unimportant dribble and work, and every moment of it was
dreadfully tedious. Jake was in urgent need of a little adventure
in his life. Being at the fundraiser was better than sitting at home,
alone with a bottle of wine and a book, but there had to be more
to life than that. He was an extremely lonely man. At work and in
public, he was out-going, thoughtful and funny, and always the
type to offer a helping hand, but at home, he was the complete
opposite, withdrawn, depressed and deeply unhappy. Theresa
was bubbly and friendly. For most of the evening, she d bounced
from table to table, chatting up a storm and enjoying gallons of
red wine.
Jake watched the woman, then wandered past the stage and
pounding speakers to the seclusion of the stone courtyard
outside. The courtyard lamps were burning, and strung with
multi-coloured streamers and lights, in-between. There was a
stone railing and benches along the entire circumference of the
yard with stout neatly pruned Avery trees. He paused to look at
the fountain. The cement fish created the illusion that they were
leaping into the air with water shooting out of their mouths. The
sound of rushing water was nice.
* * * *
Slade had discreetly excused himself from the table and the long-
winded conversation. When Vela and Reeve got started, there was
no stopping either of them. He honestly didn t mind on most
occasions, as they were best friends and didn t see each other
often, and undoubtedly their topic of discussion was usually quite
interesting, but when he had something important on his mind,
he found the best thing for it was a touch of solitude. And the
problems facing the Helix Corporation was the focal point at the
moment. Plus, he d overindulged in the alcohol and hoped the
fresh air would alleviate the fog in his head. Slade hastily stood
up when he noticed the other man.
* * * *
Jake s heart took off the minute he saw the swordsman. This was
unexpected.  Slade& how are you?
 I m& I m good, thanks& 
 I saw you earlier this evening&  The blond gestured to the
dance hall.  & and Reeve, was with you.
The swordsman apprehensively eyed him.  We re back
together again and I m trying to make a real go of it this time.
Disappointed, Jake s heart sunk.  You re serious, aren t
Slade put both elbows on the railing and casually leaned
back. Jake couldn t ignore the urge and slouched next to the
man holding a glass of wine.
* * * *
Reeve had a bottle of water in hand and stopped just short of the
courtyard to listen in.
 Don t get me wrong, Slade. I m happy for you, if being with
the cowboy is what you want. The blond got as close as he
dared to the swordsman.  But I can t help thinking you re not
that happy. And I just wish you d give us a chance.
 I told you before, I appreciate the offer, but I m not
Jake tried to impress the commander.  We d be good for
each other&  The tall man was scarcely an inch from Slade s
face and searching his blue eyes.  I have a good job. I d be
* * * *
 If you ll excuse me, Jake, I have to get back inside. Slade
backed up slightly to get around him. He could smell the
fermented wine on his breath, and he d do anything to avoid a
scene. But soon as he made an attempt to walk away, the blond
had him compressed to the railing and a hand to his face.
 I ve been pouring my heart out for months. God I ve fallen
for you, Slade shit, can t you see that?
Slade slapped a hand to his wrist.  Let go of me. He felt
trapped and scared, then Stein s cologne filled the air and he
began to suffocate. He blinked, feeling absolutely lightheaded.
Reeve stepped out into the lamplight as he struggled to get the
situation under control. The blond tried to gently force Slade into
submission. Jake stroked his hair and sought the affection, a
kiss, anything that was the swordsman. Slade grappled his
shoulders to hold off the unwanted advances, then he noticed a
patch of black and blue, an aura leaking from around the
ammunitions officer s body. Eventually, the cowboy came into
clear view from the haze. Slade and Reeve looked at one another.
* * * *
Reeve read the terror in the smaller man s eyes. No one at the
Delta knew about the commander s traumatic past. Rape wasn t [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]