Binding Moonlight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 11 (v.1) - Chapter 11

Submitted: January 11, 2019

Reads: 13

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Submitted: January 11, 2019

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“Stop following me, Gabe,” Max hissed.

“Why?” he asked, cocking his head to one side.

“Because I asked you to.”

“Why?”

“Geez! Are you six? Just get away from me!” Max turned the corner and hurried to one of the computer labs. She went inside and closed the door in Gabe's face. She wasn't even three steps into the room before a puff of blue and gray smoke appeared before her computer console, Gabe standing in the middle.

“Good lord! Are you a stalker or something?” Max demanded, pushing her way past him.

“Maybe if ya tell me just what it is I've done ta upset ya, I'll leave ya be,” Gabe replied, crossing his arms and smiling at her. Despite his charming expression and smooth drawl, Gabe made Max's skin crawl. He stood behind her while she typed at her keyboard, eyes roaming over her body. She had to stop herself from screaming when he groped her backside as she retrieved something from the cabinet beneath the console. Standing up straight, she spun and slapped him hard across the face.

“Stay the hell away from me,” she growled while he was rubbing his red cheek.

There was another puff of smoke and once again Gabe stood too close to her. He gave her an innocent grin. “C'mon now, Sweetheart. Tell me what's wrong.”

Max's nostrils flared as she tried not to snap. “You want to know what's wrong?” she asked him, stepping up to him. He towered over her by more than a foot, but it didn't dissuade her. “You have basically been stalking me since we met. Every time I turn around, there you are. And then there's the sexual harassment! Leave me alone!” Stomping off, Max hoped to finish what she was doing before Gabe tormented her again. She was scowling darkly at the floor as she walked. Paying no attention to what was in front of her, she smacked face-first into Ekie's chest.

“Oops! Sorry, Ekie. I guess I'm a bit more distracted than I thought.” She gave him an apologetic grimace as he grabbed her arms.

Ekie shrugged.

“How's your arm? Feeling better?” she asked, taking a step back, her eyes darting to his shoulder.

He answered with a slight incline of his head. It still hurt, but the wound was healing. At least he would know the origin of the scar this time.

“Hey, can I ask you something? It's gonna sound stupid, but apparently, it isn't something I can do myself,” Max grumbled, scowling at her feet.

The concern contorting Ekie's face was sweet but almost comical. The slanted T-shaped scar on his forehead crinkled up as he frowned, and the red specks in his irises seemed to flare.

“It's nothing life-threatening, I promise,” she added, putting her hands on his chest. “I just need you to be my bodyguard for a bit.”

Her response did nothing to ease the crease between Ekie's brows.

Max laughed, patting his chest. “Don't worry. It's just, I need you to be more of a... presence, I guess. I'm small, so I'm not very threatening. I need you to help me get my point across.”

“Hey, guys. Whatcha up ta?”

Max's entire body stiffened. “Work, Gabe. Which is what you should be doing.”

“But there ain't anything for me ta do, Sweetheart,” Gabe replied.

“Then find something else to do which doesn't involve tormenting me,” Max said, turning to face the other man.

Gabe feigned hurt. “Aw, but this is a compliment, Max. My paying attention ta ya is how I show my affection.”

“I don't want your affection.”

Quirking an eyebrow, Gabe stepped up to Max and reached behind her. “Most girls love my affection,” he whispered to her, squeezing her butt again.

“Stop touching me!” Max shoved him, but he didn't budge.

“And what's yer problem?” he asked Ekie, glancing over Max's head to see the dark glower on his face. “She doesn't belong ta ya, does she?”

Ekie didn't say a word as he put himself between Max and Gabe.

Rolling his eyes, Gabe stood up straight, sliding one hand into his pocket. “We aren't gonna do this again, are we? Seriously, how hard is it t'say a word 'er two?” he grumbled, poking Ekie in the chest.

Max cringed before Ekie even threw the first punch. She knew he didn't like people touching him, though he made an exception for her.

Gabe was quick, teleporting away before Ekie's fist connected. Ekie stumbled, spinning on his heel as Gabe reappeared behind Max. The compression of air behind her gave her the opportunity to drive her elbow into his gut. Grunting, Gabe doubled over, wrapping his arms around his belly. Max stepped out of the way so she wouldn't get caught up in the fight. Ekie looked serious about beating Gabe to a bloody pulp.

Throwing another punch while the man was bent over, Ekie smashed his fist into Gabe's jaw, sending him reeling. When he stood up, his expression was black. A low growl rumbled from Gabe's throat and he grabbed Ekie's shoulder, punching him in the stomach. He wasn't playing around anymore. Gabe wasn't as fast as Ekie though, and the brunet caught him behind the knees with his foot. The jarring force of his knees hitting the solid tile stunned him briefly, allowing Ekie to plant a kick to his shoulder and knock him on his ass.

Gabe rolled over and yanked Ekie's feet out from under him, pulling him down to the floor as well. He swung his fist, connecting with Ekie's left eye. The scarred man swung back, hitting Gabe twice in quick succession. Pain sparked through Gabe's side and cheek. Ekie was agile, but Gabe had a few pounds and a few inches on him and managed to pin the teen to the floor after a lot of rolling and flailing.

“Hey, calm down kid!” grunted Gabe, straining to hold Ekie against the floor.

Ekie shoved Gabe away, driving his knee into the man's gut. He reversed their positions, straddling Gabe's waist and punching him in the face. The teleporter's eyebrow split first, then his lip. Gabe managed to get a hold of Ekie's arms, kicking his feet out and flipping the man over his head. Before Ekie could take a breath, Gabe scrambled to his feet and put some distance between himself and the younger teenager.

“Guys, enough!” Max tried to step between them, but it was no use. Ekie was angry and wasn't listening. He grabbed Gabe's shirt with one hand and headbutted him, their skills cracking together. Gabe was dazed for a moment, allowing Ekie the opportunity to hit him a few more times.

Grunting, Gabe stomped on Ekie's foot and wrestled him into a headlock. He drove his knee into Ekie's ribs repeatedly, but Ekie reached up, shoving Gabe's head back. Twisting out of Gabe's hold, he grabbed a fistful of the man's hair and smashed his head into the wall.

“What the hell is going on out here?” Robyn roared, storming out of his office.

Max put herself between Robyn and the other men. She raised her hands, not quite touching him. “It's my fault, Robyn. Please don't—”

Shoving her aside, Robyn glowered at the pair. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior from my employees. It's time for you to start acting like an adult and not a hormonal teenager,” he said, eyes on Ekie. “Just because you work with a pretty girl does not give you the right to beat each other senseless. Grow up, the both of you. I'm not your parent, I shouldn't have to tell you this.”

Gabe wiped the blood from his lip but didn't say anything.

“Max, patch them up. You two are not to go near one another until you've cooled down. Oh, and Max?”

“Yes?”

“I want to see you in my office when you're done.” Having said his piece, Robyn returned to his office.

Swallowing hard, Max bit her bottom lip. With a grimace, she led Gabe and Ekie down the hall. She could feel the anger radiating from them, but at the same time, they were sulking. Ignoring them, she took them to the infirmary. As they sat down on opposite sides of the room, Max wet a cloth with hot water and took a few first aid items from the drawer. Max knew Ekie could tolerate his injuries, so she helped Gabe first.

“I'd say I'm sorry Gabe, but you kind of had it coming,” she told him as she gently held his chin and started to dab away the blood.

“I was just teasin' ya, Max. I didn't think ya'd get so mad.”

“I told you to stop.” When she finished cleaning the splatters of blood from his face, she smeared some clear sealant over the cut in his eyebrow and on his lip.

“I know ya did,” Gabe replied. The smirk he wore detracted from the sincerity of his statement. He assured her it was because she was tickling him as she probed his chest and ribs for any damage.

“Gabe, why are you even here?” Max asked as she worked.

Shrugging, Gabe shook his head. “Robyn asked me ta work for him. I was surprised he'd wanna hire someone he caught snoopin' around, but he insisted.”

“What were you looking for, anyway?”

“Nothin' in particular. I just wanted ta see what all the fuss was about. Whenever I saw people hanging out around here, they never crossed the fence line. I was just curious,” he told her.

Max narrowed her eyes at him, twisting her mouth to one side.

“It's the truth.”

Searching his green eyes briefly, Max accepted his word as sincere. “Okay, you're good to go.”

“Thanks,” he said, hopping down from the counter. He smiled and winked at her before leaving.

Tossing the used cloth into the bin, Max retrieved a new one before facing Ekie. She took a deep breath and looked at him. “I'm so sorry.”

One eyebrow rose in question of her apology.

“You weren't supposed to get hurt. Thanks for helping me, but now I feel horrible,” she told him as she started cleaning his face.

He shook his head and half-smiled, half-grimaced. The scabs blocking his nostrils cracked and fresh blood trickled down his upper lip.

Clicking her tongue, Max handed Ekie the cloth to hold to his nose while she applied sealant to his cuts. Once the bleeding stopped, she tossed out the cloth and handed him an ice pack for his bruised and swollen eye. She began poking at his ribs, and after a little light prodding, Ekie inhaled sharply.

“Does it hurt?” she asked.

Dropping his hands into his lap, Ekie nodded.

“He did pummel your ribs pretty bad. I'm gonna have to scan you for breaks, so you'll have to take your shirt off,” she told him.

He shook his head.

Max propped her fists on her hips, staring at Ekie from under her eyebrows. “I can't help you if I can't see your ribs, Ekie. Take it off before I take it off for you.”

Ekie blinked at her with wide eyes. Crossing his arms, he stared at her.

Shifting her weight onto one leg, Max mimicked his pose. “Ekie, I don't have time for this. You're hurt, and I will fix you whether you like it or not. I've even done research, so I kind of know what I'm doing this time.”

He could see she wasn't kidding. Pouting, he reluctantly pulled his sweatshirt and tee shirt over his head, revealing his heavily scarred chest.

“Thank you.” Uncrossing her arms, she resumed poking at his sides. After a few minutes, she stood up straight and twisted her mouth to one side. “I'm gonna give you a scan to make sure you don't have any breaks. Lie down, please,” she instructed, turning on the wall monitor. She took the x-ray wand from the drawer, flicking the power switch. The portable unit wasn't as good as the proper hospital equipment, but it served its purpose.

Ekie eased himself down onto the cold table and gingerly raised his arms above his head. Max slowly passed the wand over his torso. She struggled to make it appear like she was only interested in the scan as he watched her intently. She really wanted to take a moment just to admire his muscles.

Embarrassed with her thoughts, Max spun away from Ekie as soon as the scan was complete. Watching the image load on the monitor, she took a deep breath to clear her head. She studied the image for a few minutes, and when she turned back to Ekie she was no longer blushing.

“Well, nothing looks broken or fractured,” she said, helping him sit up. Nodding, he slid from the exam table and donned his shirt again.

“Do you need any help getting to your room?”

He shook his head.

Max pursed her lips. “Okay. Well, I guess I'll go face Robyn then.”

He gave her a sympathetic smile and squeezed her shoulder as he walked past her.

Max took her time cleaning up before going to see Robyn. She took slow, deliberate steps down the hall to waste time. When she finally knocked on his door, her hand was shaking.

When Robyn answered, he stared down his nose at her with an expression she couldn't quite identify. It sent an unpleasant shiver down her spine. “Please come in,” he said, his tone flat. Stepping aside, he let her inside and closed the door.

“Sir, before you say anything I want to apologize for the fight. I asked Ekie to help keep Gabe away from me, and—”

“Stop talking.”

Max clamped her mouth shut, eyes locked on Robyn. He removed his glasses and set them on his desk. In a single, smooth motion, he removed his lab coat and tossed it over the back of his chair. Crossing his arms, he licked his lips as he eyed Max.

“What am I going to do with you?” he inquired after a moment.

“Sir?”

A predatory smirk curled his mouth. “I thought I broke you of this habit. You know it isn't necessary to call me sir. This isn't the most professional environment, after all. But I suppose it's my own fault for hiring two fifteen-year-olds,” he sighed. “Max, can I ask you something?”

Swallowing hard, Max dipped her head.

“Are you sleeping with Ekie?”

“Excuse me?” Max's jaw dropped, and she swore her heart skipped a beat or two. She took a couple of steps back, bumping into one of Robyn's overflowing bookshelves.

“Oh, come on Max. Why else would he be so willing to bend to your every whim? He used to be cold, calculating, merciless. Until he met you.”

“You're being ridiculous! I haven't! Ekie and I are friends, nothing else.” Max's voice squeaked in disbelief.

Robyn closed the distance between himself and Max, backing her into a corner of the office. Her eyes were wide, lips quivering, and brow creased. He enjoyed the fear on her face. “I would like to believe you Max, but there is no way Ekie Maxwell is behaving this way without being manipulated,” he said, voice low and calm as he put his hands on the wall to either side of her head.

“I swear I'm not!”

“Well, if you aren't with him, then you shouldn't mind if I kiss you.”

Max's eyes doubled in size. “What?”

“You won't mind, right? I know you think I'm handsome. What's a kiss between friends?” Robyn narrowed his eyes, leaning toward her.

Max inhaled sharply. All she could hear was the rush of blood in her ears. “This is sexual harassment, Robyn.”

“Yeah? Who are you going to report me to? Nothing we do here is exactly legal, Max.”

“Please don't do this,” Max said, her voice getting smaller with each word.

“Or you'll do what? Get Ekie to beat me up? I could just shoot him again. Only this time it would be through the heart,” he whispered. His face was only a few inches away now despite Max's attempts to sink into the wall. She screwed her eyes shut, trying to ignore Robyn's breath on her face. His lips were almost touching hers when his computer started beeping. Cursing, he stood up and walked away from her.

“Get out,” he commanded.

Max stayed frozen to the spot, her shoulders up around her ears. Her blue eyes were so wide, they were threatening to fall out of her head.

“Out!”

Max almost tripped over her feet fleeing the office. Her heart was thumping loudly in her chest, and she feared her ribs may shatter. She had no idea what had gotten into Robyn, but she knew she didn't want to be here anymore. And she needed to apologize to Gabe. Compared to what Robyn just did, he really was just teasing her.

Before she could do so though, she had to go outside to clear her head. The crisp mid-October air helped clear her thoughts and calm her heart. Once she cooled down, both mentally and physically, she went back inside and found Gabe in the central lobby.

“Do you have a second?” Max asked, catching his attention.

“Only as long as ya don't plan on beating me up,” he replied, humor glittering in his eyes.

“No. I came to apologize, actually,” she told him, eyes downcast. She didn't enjoy saying she was sorry, but she needed Gabe as an ally instead of an enemy. Maybe his behavior would improve now after his altercation with Ekie.

“Really? Even though it was mostly my fault?” Tipping his head, he narrowed his eyes at her in suspicion.

“Uh, yeah.” Exhaling slowly, Max raised her head. “I know you were teasing me. I overreacted, and Ekie's pretty protective of me for some reason. I'm sorry.”

Gabe's face lit up with a bright smile, equal parts charming and sincere. “Ya didn't do anything wrong,” he said, running a hand through his hair. “I got carried away since ya didn't react like most girls do.”

“Do most girls enjoy when you grab their butts?”

“They do when they see me,” he answered, the corner of his mouth twitching. “Plus it wouldn't be the first time I got my butt kicked for hittin' on the wrong person. A girl no bigger than yerself broke my arm once.”

“For flirting with her?”

Gabe's eyes twinkled with amusement. “Her boyfriend.”

Max's cheeks burned like they were on fire. “Oh.”

“How's Ekie doing? I didn't do too much damage, did I?” Gabe asked, redirecting the conversation.

She shook her head. “He blew the stitches in his shoulder and he's pretty bruised up, but he'll live.”

“Well, tell'im I'm sorry, 'kay?”

“I will.”

The pair fell quiet for a moment before Gabe reached out and rest a heavy hand on top of Max's head. “Yer a sweet kid, Max. He's lucky ta have ya.”

Max watched him walk away, her mouth hanging open. Did everyone think she was sleeping with Ekie? Shaking her head, she went to finish what she had originally started working on this morning.


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

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