Number one! My Baby! Keeper of the Flame! My first full length novel and the only one I will never give away! My baby, Flame!
Keeper of the Flame
“Damn that man anyway!” Kendall muttered as she walked out of the swinging doors of Johns Hopkins Hospital. At this late hour, the parking lot was empty, but the sound of the nearby traffic told her the drive home would be difficult. The dark asphalt gleamed wetly in the glow cast by the many streetlights surrounding the parking lot. The empty black square, parking pads looked as dead as she felt inside.
The treacherous-or should that be lecherous-Dr. Richard Tanner was obviously absent, thank God. That, at least, made her day a little brighter. She had tried so hard to keep a sunny smile on her face, but it had been difficult to do when all she wanted was to go home and hide her face from friends and coworkers alike. As far as she was concerned, she had no family left to help her grieve. Her sister was probably catting around with the good doctor, her own ex-fiancé, right at this minute.
“Damn him, Damn them, and damn me!” She slammed open the door to her silver minivan and threw herself into the driver’s seat. She sat there looking out of the windshield at the bright yellow lines on the parking pad as tears slowly tracked down her face.
“Damn me for caring,” she muttered. She wiped her eyes with the heels of her hands, then pushed the key into the ignition.
Kendall growled about the traffic on her hour-long drive home. After pulling an eighteen-hour shift, on what was supposed to be the eve of her honeymoon, all she wanted was a little peace.
“Damn love songs,” Kendall muttered as the radio began to croon nauseatingly sweet lyrics of undying love. She reached out to switch the station, but changed her mind. The irony of the situation was too good to pass up, even if it was at her expense.
Maneuvering her car into a turn that led to her street, Kendall dispassionately sang along with Stevie Wonder as he crooned the words to his song “Castle in the Sky.”
She threw up a her middle finger in an uncommon fit of bad temper when she looked up and noticed lights flickering on the waters of the lake behind her house.
Late night boaters, no doubt, out having a good time, while Kendall’s life crumbled around her. They were probably drinking and dancing, enjoying a nighttime cruise, filled with all kinds of joy and laughter.
“Damn them for being happy!” she growled as she whipped her van into her driveway. Her irrational anger at the unknown, late night boaters faded into a deep aching sadness when Kendall remembered the plans that she had for many a romantic tryst on that very lake. How different her current reality was when compared to her fantasies.
“A shower,” Kendall murmured to herself. “No, a long hot bath for this old girl.” Absently rubbing the tension from the back of her neck, Kendall popped open the mini-vans’ door and wearily headed for the house.
Thanks to the overcrowded delivery rooms that were filled courtesy of the last winter blizzard, she had been kept running all day. The usual combination of four-foot high snowdrifts and stranded couples always made for a major population increase nine months later. It was just a quirk of fate that the nine-month span ended around the time that her so-called wedding was to have taken place.
The most difficult part of the day had been dealing with the pitying looks and uncertain comments from her friends. What could you say to someone whose heart had been ripped out and tossed away like so many used rubber gloves in an ER?
She had smiled at all of her well-wishers and reminded them that at least she was getting an all-expenses-paid-for vacation this week: all courtesy of the good doctor.
She had tried to laugh and joke with them, but the pain had gotten harder and harder to hide. And now it was almost unbearable. Tomorrow was the start of her vacation and new life, but the night was still her demon, her monster to face and two fists into submission.
“I’ll deal with the world tomorrow!” she decided finally, a little determination, and a little spark of the old Go-get-’em-Kendall shining through her misery. “Tonight I get loaded!” She did have rum in the house, right? Maybe a bottle left over from when her sister flew in to help her celebrate her engagement. She would have to check and overlook the irony of drinking her sister’s liquor to help her revel in the joy of her single state. Yeah.
With new determination, she hopped to the ground and gave a small nod to her property. All those extra hours of work were worth it as long as she could afford her own house.
The brick-faced, split-level was barely within her price range. With careful budgeting, though, she would be able to keep up the mortgage payments. As an added bonus, Richard had no claim on it! She had bought it just after finding out the truth about her fiancee and was proud to say that no memories of him tainted her beloved sanctuary.
Her front yard always made her smile though, and tonight was no exception. In the warm, humid air of the late summer night, she could smell the roses that grew in abundance around the perimeter of her yard. She had painstakingly planted and nurtured each one like a child and all of her efforts were paying off. Her flowerbeds were fully stocked: Gladiolas, Impatiens and colorful decorative grass surrounded the house like a vibrant, living welcome mat. It glowed softly in the illumination provided by her porch lights. Even the delicate white MoonFlowers she had planted beside her front door gave off an enticing aroma that teased and pleased her senses.
She paused in the perusal of her organic masterpiece of a front yard when she spied what could only be a pile of garbage near her front porch. Her eyes flared in sudden anger or a moment before narrowing into small brown slits. “Damn the person who left that there!” she declared. She gave a small snort of laughter. At the rate she was damning people, the word would soon lose all meaning. “I need to find some better swears!”
Muttering under her breath about overpriced community association fees and cheap, ineffective security, she stalked over to the pile of refuse. After all her hard work creating a horticulture showcase, she would be damned before she let a litterbug destroy her near perfect view.
She never expected it to move.
With a shriek, Kendall fumbled for the pepper spray in her pocket as she jumped back several feet. Hands trembling, she held her weapon before her in a perfect Charlie’s Angels imitation. When the pile showed no other signs of life, her heart rate returned to normal. She cautiously inched closer to the dark pile and carefully rolled it over with the toe of her nursing shoe. Again she jumped back barely controlling another shriek of fright.
It was a big man.
A big man in obvious pain.
“Help me!” he groaned as a wave of pain flashed over his features. “Please!”
In the face of his unmistakable distress, Kendall’s medical training kicked in. In a flash, the pepper spray was replaced with her house keys and she was squatting to help him struggle to his feet. It wasn’t easy. He was lying in what could only be described as a fetal position, his back to her as he strained to hold his head up and speak. Kendall placed her hands on his quivering shoulders only to pull back at the cold wetness that she felt. He moaned and she rushed to brush the wet hair from his face in an effort to calm him down. Dropping to her knees, she managed to ease her hands beneath his arms and pull, her face turning purple with the effort.
Muscles straining and screaming in protest, Kendall managed to pull the man the few feet to her porch, grunting and breathing heavily with the effort.
“Come on! Help me here!” she gasped struggling to reach the door to use as leverage and pull the man upright.
He must’ve been dumped by one of those boats, she reasoned. Maybe there had been an accident and he had managed to make it this far for help. Many scenarios quickly flashed through her brain as she helped support the man. Maybe after he’d been dumped, he had managed to swim to safety.
The man’s slow nod brought her back to the situation at hand. He understood and was trying to help. He braced himself and began to try and force his body upwards.
Working together, they managed to get him upright. Then they attempted a few shaky steps towards the front door. Struggling for each step, they slowly and painfully made their way to the front door.
Once there, he released a tortured moan when his body tightened and began to spasm in her arms. “Come on, “ she urged, “you can do this!”. She added a bit of command in her voice as she desprately tried to hold him upright long enough to get the key in the lock.
He must have heard her plea, because his legs tightened, taking some of the burden of his weight, freeing up her arm for more movement.
“Shh,” she crooned to him while searching for the right key, sighing in relief as it slid into the lock.
The key turned slowly and the tumblers clicked loudly, but finally the door slammed open under the weight of the man. Kendall ignored the noise and possible wall damage and urged the man into her cool hallway. They both let out a sigh of relief and took a deep breath.
But there were still more obstacles ahead of them, mainly the couch. It seemed to loom before them, a million miles away across the room. The man’s wet clothes would have to come off. They were starting to make him shiver in the air-conditioned hall.
“To the couch!” was her war cry and together they nearly ran the last few feet before his legs collapsed beneath him. Like a Ken doll, he lay there, as if it were too much of an effort to right himself.
“Are you okay?” she questioned in her best nurse’s voice, dropping to her knees in front of him.
“No!” he groaned, closing his eyes in pain. “I am in labor.”
“Labor?” Oh, no! He’s escaped from a loony bin, she thought. Why do I get all of the nut jobs?
Before she could say anything else or check for a bump on the head, he pulled aside a long coat to reveal his extended abdominal cavity.
Shocked by what had to be an extreme case of peritonitis or some type of internal hemorrhaging, she quickly rose to her feet and eased his legs up on the couch. Before she could run to call 911, he gripped her hand, his face twisted in agony. His back arched almost off of the couch and he sucked in and held his breath.
In front of her disbelieving eyes, his stomach tightened in what appeared to be an actual contraction. It lasted nearly a full minute before he began to relax and start to breathe again.
“Please, help me!” he panted. “I am about to deliver!”
Kendall looked into the grayest eyes that she had ever seen: eyes that were now filled with anxiety and pain. Her brown rich coffee au lait skin paled as she read both truth and sincerity there, and not a drop of madness.
Swallowing hard, she nodded. She believed him. She actually believed him! She was going to help deliver this man’s child.
There are some things I need first.” She managed to force the words past her suddenly, tight throat as she stared bug-eyed at the miracle man before her. “Just remember to breathe with the pain and try not to fight against it.”
He closed his eyes and seemed to relax a bit as he ran a trembling hand through his long wet hair.
She turned and raced to the second floor, mentally reciting the list of things needed for a home birth. Breathing hard, she grabbed a few sheets from her linen closet along with a few clean, white towels fresh from the laundry. From the bathroom, she pulled her first-aid kit from beneath the sink before rushing back downstairs to the man lying on her couch.
My name is Kendall Moore, and I will try to make you a bit more comfortable,” she said in her best bedside voice. She began to efficiently strip the man of his clothing. “Remember to rest during the contractions and pant when the pain gets bad.”
Never before had she delivered this speech to a man, but there was a first time for everything. This was certainly the first time that she had seen a man in this condition!
First came a sopping wet pair of black, leather-like ankle boots. Then, with his help, she removed the long, many-pocketed black trench coat. It made a thumping sound as she dropped it to the floor.
After a pause to help him breath through another contraction, she slid his shirt, also in black, over his head, carefully untangling it from the long rope of his wet hair. She reached for the fasteners at his waist, but stopped short.
“How do I get these things off?” she asked. She had to wait as another contraction stiffened his body. The pants were made of some long, flowing material, but seemed to have no visible zippers or buttons.
Finally the painful grip of the contraction passed and he panted, “The zip cords are on the sides.” This contraction had lasted longer and now his body was covered in a thin film of sweat.
Sure enough, there were two tabs at the waist of his pants. With a few pulls, they separated down the sides to his ankles and she gently rolled the material away.
Quickly, she covered him with a sheet. She took no time to be embarrassed and she really didn’t want to see just what he was hiding beneath.
Really, how could a man conceive a child without a little, odd, equipment?
She had no time to follow that line of thought, because a small opening began to appear just beneath his navel.
“Holy…” Her eyes widened as the opening grew. He moaned in pain, but followed her directions and panted as best he could.
“This won’t hurt.” She opened a bottle of peroxide and dumped it over his stomach, blotting the excess with a towel. The shock of the cold liquid caused him to jerk his head back in her direction, eyes wide in a near panic at this liquid cold, but he said nothing.
“What am I supposed to do?” she asked him when he was disinfected to her satisfaction. She knelt beside him, wiping his damp forehead with one of the towels and thinking that the rules had to be different when a man gave birth. There was no birth canal, for starters!
“Just catch them,” he groaned as another contraction shook him. He was pale with pain and damp with sweat.
“Catch them. Right.” He must mean from that tiny opening on his stomach. Now how would that work? She stopped examining that area, though, as her eyes widened at the changes going on there.
Kendall stared in shocked silence as his abdomen spread quickly open and a small head crowned. The man bit back a cry of pain.
“My God!” she cried excitedly. “Push or do what you just did again!” He raised his knees slightly and grunted with effort. They were rewarded when a small heap of humanity pushed its head through the abdominal opening. Quickly Kendall moved in to clean the child’s airway, gratified to hear a small wail.
“Do it again!” she cheered as the sound of new life filled the room.
“What the hell do you think I am trying to do!” he growled at her. But then he seemed to gather control over himself as he began to strain again. With his hands clutching the arm of the couch above, tendons straining in his neck, he prepared to deliver his baby into this woman’s hands.
Eyes closed tight and jaw clenched, he threw back his head and groaned like a wounded animal. The growl exploded into a cry of both pain and relief as the opening widened and the baby was expelled from its warm cocoon.
Kendall ignored his outburst as the small child slowly slid from his body.
“It’s a boy!” she cried as she laid the small body on his father’s chest.
She quickly turned to her first aid kit, retrieved a package of surgical thread and tied off the cord in two places. With a grin, she cut in the center of her bindings, freeing the child to breathe on his own.
She then looked at the man, flushed brightly with success. Bringing a new life into the world always touched an inner place within her. Her smile faded as another spasm of pain crossed the man’s face.
“What’s wrong? Don’t you dare die and leave me with this child!” she said urgently, alarmed by his reaction.
“It’s the other child,” he gasped.
Sure enough, the pouch was opening again and another dark head was crowning. Pushing the first child higher on his chest, she made ready to catch the second.
Within moments, the second child emerged from his body, crying in complaint at being thrust into its cold new world.
“It’s a girl.”
Kendall spoke softly to him as he closed his eyes in exhaustion; he seemed to sigh with relief.
For the first time, Kendall actually looked at the man. Even while in pain, his accent had sounded almost similar a Russian doctor she had once had the pleasure of working with. His voice sounded Russian with a French lilt and the slow delivery of an Italian playboy.
The features of his face were strong: high cheekbones, a straight nose, and a stubborn chin seemed to scream that he was a mixture of cultures, but it was his crowning glory that caught and held her attention. His hair, even wet, was a most startling and unusual shade of red.
“What is your name?” she asked quietly as she let her eyes roam from his exhausted face to the crying children he held lovingly on his chest.
“Flame. My name is Flame,” he answered, just before he fell into a deep sleep, the lines bracketing his lips fading as the tension eased slowly from around his bruised looking eyes and his face eased into a peaceful countenance.
* * *
The afterbirth came out in a neat little ball, under Kendall’s expert
manipulation. With gentle fingers she massaged where his fundis would be, if
he was a woman, and the tiny placenta was expelled through the birth…slit.
Kendall tossed it and the sheet that covered him into a red hazardous waste bag that she had brought home from the hospital. They were the perfect size and color for her guest bathroom. That bag went into a thick dark contractor bag that she used to clean up garden waste, and the whole bundle went neatly into the garbage can out back. As bloodstained as it was, the sheet was a total loss, and as for the rest, well, it had served it’s purpose. No need to have any messy reminders around the house. If his doctor wanted a peak at it, he could go out back and dig it out himself!
Since the children had grown quiet, she washed and placed them in a dresser drawer that she had taken from one of her guestrooms and lined with pillows and a few sheets. She even sacrificed a few more of her sheets so that she could diaper the tired, red-faced babies. Then she did what she could for the new mom.
He had begun to shake uncontrollably, his teeth chattering as his body was wracked with chills. First Kendall placed a hand upon his brow, noting with some relief that there was no developing fever. It just wouldn’t do to have him come down with childbirth fever after this miraculous delivery. Knowing that most women did this after giving birth but no one knew just exactly why, she noted his condition and vowed to keep an eye on him. There was nothing else that she could do. Using warm water and a mild soap, she began to clean him up as best as she could.
She noticed in passing that he was made like any other man: a trifle on the large side, but normal. The slit that opened in his belly, his birthing pouch, had closed up tight as a drum and the seam line was lost in the line of red hair that arrowhead down from his navel. She could not tell that it had ever existed and his stomach was flat as a board. Women should be so lucky!
Shaking her head in awe, she covered the sleeping man and went to make herself a pot of coffee. Her mind still struggled to accept the fact that she had just acted the part of mid-wife for a man.
As Flame drifted in a light but exhausted sleep, his frightened mind urged him to rise and flee from the house of this strange woman, and get his children to safety. But his body refused to cooperate.
And then too, there was the feeling of safety that he had begun to feel almost as soon as the woman had voiced her decision to aid him. He had never before felt this curious feeling of being safe in the presence of a woman and he decided that he needed to experience more to fully understand.
But that was dangerous. This woman could behave like the very women he was running from. The best thing for all would be for him to gather his meager strength and depart at once. Unfortunately, his body was failing him.
The warmth of the water that she used to cleanse his sore body, combined with the natural fatigue of child birth, caused his thoughts to chaotically spin in his head, before the relief of deep sleep finally over-rode all of his plotting and planning.
Whatever could happen to him here, at the hands of this woman was surely better than anything that would happen to him at the hands of his pursuers. Thoughts swirled chaotically around in his head before he gave himself up to blissful oblivion.
Flame jumped, sucking in a deep breath as a gentle hand shook his shoulder.
“Hey, wake up!” a soft voice commanded.
Flame fought to open his eyes and was almost frightened by the strange hazy vision before him. He blinked several times and slowly, his sleep clouded vision cleared to see the woman, Kendall, rocking his daughter in her arms.
The woman’s skin was the golden brown color of the finest Tarcas stones on his planet and her eyes were of a color to match: very expressive, very beautiful, and very rare.
“What am I supposed to feed these babies?” she asked quietly. “They have to eat.”
“How am I supposed to know?” What did a man know of the care and feeding of a child? His duty was to bear them, not care for their needs. His mind reeled in a shock so strong that it erased every ounce of sleep in his body. He had come to the startling realization that he did not know what to do! He was so very ill prepared for this aspect of fatherhood and now wondered if his children would suffer for his ignorance. What was he to do? “What do you feed your children?”
“I don’t have any children and if I did, I would breast feed,” she answered. Surprised, he struggled to sit up, despite his sore stomach. “Breast feed? Breasts do that?” He eyed her bust with avid curiosity and quite a bit of wonder.
Kendall stared at the man, face in dead pan as she tried to reason through his responces and only winding up more confused.
“Okay. Where do you come from? Who can I call to get you some help?”
“Call no one. I will leave you shortly. I do thank you for the assistance, but I must go.” He sounded almost upset at the prospect of receiving some additional help or having his whereabouts made known.
“I don’t think so!” Her stomach clenched into a knot of anxiety as she pictured him, with these newborn babies, leaving and collapsing in the street. And even worse, what if he planned on abandoning the children there, with her? “You are going to give me some answers, mister!”
Upon hearing her authoritative tone, Flame froze and dropped his gaze to the floor.
“As you wish, Mistress Kendall Moore.”
Kendall blinked at his quick change from worried, yet harried father, to subservient male.
“Look, Flame. I only want to help you. Where are you from? Why were you pregnant? Where is the fathe…uh, mother of these children?”
As she stared at him lying in nothing more than a sheet and a tangled mass of damp red hair, she struggled to come to some conclusion.
While there had been incredible advances in medicine and her hospital had always been a leader in research and development, nothing about a pregnant man had ever popped up on the gossip mill. Maybe a government experiment? But then, the government would have killed him before letting a prized specimen escape and possibly end up in the hands of an enemy. Victim of radiation? Nope, no loss of hair, glowing blood, missing teeth or any lesions that might tell if he was radioactive.
Then it hit her: the lights on the water, a pregnant man, a pouch that had disappeared as if it had never existed moments after giving birth! There could only be one explanation!
“You’re an alien, aren’t you?” She gaped at him.
Slowly he raised his head and she saw silver sparkles flashing in his eyes. He wouldn’t melt the woman who had delivered his kids, would he?
“I seem to have need of your assistance once again, Mistress.” The sparkles had faded from his eyes, leaving her wondering if she had imagined them there.
“Kendall. Call me Kendall.” She nervously looked at the child she cradled in her arms. Then, gathering her courage, she asked, “Where in the universe are you from?”
“Two light years from your sun. I left my world looking for a safe haven, but I fear they have found me.”
“Who?” she asked. Was this man some type of intergalactic space criminal?
“The execution squad. With my mistress dead, there is no longer a use for her children.”
“What?” Kendall shrieked, the outburst startling his daughter in that shocking, jerky way that all newborns have. “Let me explain,” he said, raising his arms for his crying daughter. Looking her over with liquid swimming in his gray eyes, he placed the infant on his shoulder where she instantly quieted. Kendall was speechless. Execution squads were way out of her jurisdiction, but then so were pregnant men. Kendall shook her head ruefully. All of those “damns” she’d spat like gunfire had finally come back to haunt her. Kendall looked up and saw him waiting for her attention. Once he saw he had it, he began to speak.
* * *
On my world, Testrious the women rule. The men had been captured and forced to labor for the women long before I came to be. Our role is worker, child bearer and protector. We have no control over our lives. We work because our bodies are built for it. We bear children because the Matriarch decided that men would bear up better under the strain. Some of us were herded up and given the honor of being altered. They said that we should be proud of this because we were special.” He snorted derisively at this reasoning.
“I was chosen because of my hair. It is considered special on my world.
Usually, I would have served as a member of the Brotherhood, but the woman who wanted me was head of one of the five ruling houses. My family the word sounded ugly on his lips, “decided to make an alliance. So, I was sold to increase my mother’s power. I was taken to my new life-mate and impregnated.” He paused for a moment and a tortured expression crossed his face.
“In the beginning, there were five original ruling houses, and then my Mistress died. After scanning revealed that I carried a boy child, my mother claimed my Mistress’s house and then there were four ruling houses on Testrious. Later I discovered the girl hiding behind her brother.” He smiled at the irony of a male protecting a female even before birth. “I knew I had to leave. She would be heir and my family did not want to give up the properties and power that came with my mating.”
“I discovered their plans shortly after someone, a spy no doubt, told of my secret. So, I ran. They will kill the children and I to accomplish their goals. By their laws, the laws of the Matriarch, she will be heir. They managed to track me to this planet and this area, but I managed to evade them for now. They will find me. They are ruthless.”
He turned to her with as much urgency as he could muster from his battered body. “I must leave soon or they will find me here and then you will be in danger. I tell you this, Mistress, because you have demanded it of me, but you must be on guard at all times. Tell no one you have seen me, and I will disappear from your life.”
Stunned and amazed by the story that she had just heard, Kendall stared at the picture the father and child made wrapped in sheets and lying on her floral print couch.
“Where will you go?” she quietly asked. She was still having problems assimilating all of the information that he had given her. ”I do not know.”
He gazed down at his child, the tiny person he would die for, and had no idea hot to go about protecting her on this strange planet.
Before she could gather her wits enough to respond to him, the second baby began to cry. Reacting to the distressed cry, Kendall reached for her. “Before we do anything, they ought to be fed and named.” Her voice was rather shaky, and she cleared her throat several times before turning to Flame.
“Ember, ” he stated quietly. “Her name is Ember. And his name is Spark.” I detect a theme here,” Kendall mused, though inside, her mind was blown away by his words.
Looking up, he answered, “My family are known as Keepers of the Flame. It is a talent that we of the red hair posses.”
Shrugging, Kendall rose to her feet and made her way to her immaculate, white, country-style kitchen. What did little fire-keeping babies eat anyway? Ever practical, she decided it was easier to deal with the children’s needs than to try and deal with his story. Even when the proof was wailing in her arms.
“Ah, Flame?” she called over her shoulder. “We need to feed these children. What do the women at home use? Think!”
“I do not know,” he replied with a worried frown. Spark had now joined Ember and together they continued to wail, almost in harmony.
Kendall eyed her counters full of useful gadgets, but found none to aid in her quest. Finally, she opened a cabinet and spotted salvation. It came in the form of a few starter, soy formula kits that she had gotten from work for a friend. At the last minute, her friend had decided to nurse, so Kendall had no use for the kits, yet was reluctant to throw out food that was still good. After quickly reading the instructions (delivery room nurses were almost never called upon to prepare formula), Kendall soon had two bottles ready for the children. She made her way back to the living room and handed Flame one of the little four-ounce bottles before seating herself on a chair.
“Food goes in here,” she instructed as she carefully placed the square tip of the bottle into Spark’s mouth. Instantly, his cries stopped as he latched on to the latex nipple.
“It’s feeding time, Papa.” She nodded to Ember’s open mouth. Remember to support her head, neck, and back.”
Flame quickly caught on to this method of feeding his daughter. She immediately quieted down to the serious business of eating. Flame looked on in amazement while his daughter savaged the latex nipple the kit had provided. ”And your women voluntarily do this to their breasts?” he asked as if only a fool would put themselves through this torture.
Unable to help it, Kendall burst out laughing. It did seem a little masochistic but nature had intended the ultimate usage of breasts as feedbags.
She motioned Flame to hold Ember’s head a bit higher while Spark, just as violently, violently consumed his first meal. Soon both babies were full, content and blessedly asleep.
Kendall rose from where she had placed a sleeping Spark in his makeshift bed, then sat beside Flame. “I want you to come with me on my trip, Flame.”
In typical Kendall fashion, she had quickly made a decision about the situation and just as quickly decided to act on it. When he started to protest, she cut him off. During the children’s first quiet meal, she had done a lot of thinking. She could not in all good conscience send them off to possibly die in a strange place, all alone.
“You have no idea what you are going to do next. You’re very weak and your children are too young for you to start wandering around lost and alone. If the execution squad is still after you, you need a guide so you won’t be wandering around in circles. I had planned to leave the area anyway. I was going off to the mountains tomorrow for a vacation.”
She paused for a minute, and stared into his eyes trying to convey her feelings to him. There was so much at stake here, and she needed him to understand the importance of her decision.
“I want you to come with me. It’ll be much safer than hiding here and you can have some time to decide your next move. But you need to get away if they can track you to here.”
Flame thought on considered her words for a moment. He did need a guide on this strange planet and she had helped him deliver his children safely, his new reasons for existence. He looked at his children, safe, fed and content. He would sacrifice anything to keep them that way. He had never loved anything more than the two babies sleeping in their makeshift beds and if the woman, Kendall, could help him he would give her his very soul. “I would be grateful to you for any help, Mistress,” he said, giving her a respectful nod of his fiery head.
“Kendall. Call me Kendall.”