Second Meeting: A Short Story About Lea’s Parents
This story picks up at the end of Beasts and Savages, where Lea’s parents meet for the second time of their lives, almost eighteen years later.
She grunted, “Thanks.”
He grabbed the gun and glanced at the kids. “I’m taking her to the bunker. Tanner, Lea, get out of here. Don’t stop running until you can’t hear the gunshots.”
“Mom,” Lea choked, “I can’t.”
She let go of Lea’s hand and pushed her away. Tears pooled in her eyes as she said, “Lea Marie Corre, listen to your father.”
Locke inhaled sharply. She’d recognized him. Though he had known this woman was the one who had mated him so many years ago, it was still startling to know that she knew him too.
Tanner tugged gently on Lea and led her into the darkness. She stared after them until the bulking man knelt in front of her and blocked her view.
“So you remember me?”
“Of course.” She squirmed and winced. “Are they gone? Has Lea gone?”
Locke glanced over his shoulder. “They are. Don’t worry about her; she’ll be fine. My boy, Tanner, will keep her safe.”
“Good. You can leave then. Thank you.” She gave a curt nod toward the gun he was holding and held out a hand.
“Melanie. I’m not just going to leave you here. If I do, you’ll probably die. You saved my life once, and now I’m going to return the favor.” Locke lurched over her as gunfire rang out nearby. He popped his head up and searched for the shooter, but there were bodies all around him: some with guns, most with knives, and all in their own individual battles. Now was his chance to get her out of here. Now was the time to get her to Torres.
“I spared your life. I didn’t save it. There’s a difference.”
“Name’s Locke. Can you walk? I’m going to get you out of here.”
Melanie wobbled as she stood and leaned heavily on him as they made their way through the battlefield. Several times they had to stop and duck behind a tree. As they got closer to the path that led to the bunker, they passed more and more bodies lying on the ground. He couldn’t see their faces in the darkness, but he was sure that many of them were men that Locke knew.
Another burst of shots came at them and he dropped to the ground, pulling Melanie with him. She cried out in pain and he rolled her, checking for new wounds. The knife was in deeper now and he swore under his breath. How could he have been so stupid?
Melanie was gritting her teeth and gasping for breath. Locke scooped her up and sprinted toward the bunker, no longer bothering to dodge knives and bullets. She didn’t complain and, for a moment, he thought she’d passed out. But when he kicked open the first door he bounced her leg off the doorframe and she called out, “Watch it!”
Torres met him at the bottom of the stairs and led him to the nearest bed. He had the bunker set up like his med ward in the village. There were tables covered in sheets with various bandages and medical supplies at the head of about twenty beds. Locke noticed that Melanie was the first patient Torres had.
“There are injured men out there, and you brought back a woman?” Torres’ voice was low and heated.
Locke nodded. “This is Lea’s mother. She helped me save Tanner… and Lea.”
“Ah. So she’s an ally.” He nodded and leaned over Melanie. “I can take the knife out and stop the bleeding, but I don’t have antibiotics so you’ll most likely die of infection. And I’m not giving you anything for the pain. I don’t have very much left.”
“What? Her women killed my Flynn. He was a good boy and he didn’t deserve to die. And before he did, he gave the last of our medicine to your daughter.” He glanced from Locke to Melanie and sighed. “Fine. I’ll go wash my hands. But you better get back out there and start bringing me boys or this war will be over and we’ll all be dead.”
Locke took Melanie’s hand. “He’s right. I need to get back out there. Don’t worry; you’ll be safe here and I’ll be back to check on you.”
“Their communications towers are too far away from here. They have to get to higher ground to set up a temporary tower to talk to the city. If you take out their communications, they can’t request back-up. It’s the only way.” She squeezed his hand, but couldn’t look him in the face.
“Yes. That farmhouse on the hill. That’s what they’ll use.” She grimaced but Locke couldn’t tell if the pain was from her wound or the realization that she’d just betrayed her city; her way of life.
“Okay.” It was as simple as that. He’d lived in that house since he brought Tanner home from the Welcome Ceremony sixteen years ago. He’d raised Tanner and all of his brothers there. It was his first and only home, but he knew what he had to do.
On his way out, Locke grabbed a box of matches. He’d rather lose him home than lose the war.