A Rayn Mirago Novel #3

Sojourn: The Beastlands

by B. D. Messick

"Sojourn: The Beastlands" by B.D. Messick With help from their new allies “The Gracelanders”, Rayn and Luk prepare to take on the most daunting part of their Sojourn; the journey into the heart of the Beastlands, a landscape of nightmares, both flora and fauna. Abominations created by chemical and biological warfare before the Great Collapse roam the twisted jungle seeking out those foolish enough to venture inside.

Can Rayn overcome her inner demons, and the nightmares that await them in the twisted jungle known as the Beastlands?






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Chapter One

The Beastlands.

I can hardly believe that we made it. I look over at Luk and I know I wouldn't be here without him. I squeeze his fingers gently as I watch the sun dip below the tops of the trees on the west side of the Mississippi. We have a good sized fire burning in the center of a small clearing between two particularly large trees that are serving as our campsite. A pan filled with mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, and rice, bubbles slowly over the heat, held above the flames by two flat rocks. Luk and I are sitting side-by-side with our backs against the trunk of one of the big trees, watching the flames flicker and dance against the darkening night. Luk looks over at me and smiles.

Turning my head, I slip my hand around the back of his neck, pulling him closer. I press my lips against his for a few seconds before releasing him and leaning my head against his shoulder.

“Love you.”

“Love you, too,” I reply.

A little while later, after we've finished off our mushroom and tomato stew and Luk is cleaning up the dishes and pan, I wander back toward the river. There's a small rise that overlooks the muddy waterway. Looking toward the west, I wish I could see past the tall forest of trees to glimpse Graceland one more time. I have a bad feeling that I won't be coming back this way again. I hear Luk walking up behind me and I turn, a loving expression on my face.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, I'm good.”

He looks across the river and then back at me. “You miss 'em already, don't you?”

“I do,” I say quietly.

He takes my hand and intertwines his fingers with mine. “Me, too.”

I shake my head and sigh. “Come on, we should get some rest.”

We head back to our little camp. Luk pokes and prods the fire until it flares up again and tosses on two small logs while I lay out our blankets and roll up a couple of shirts for pillows. I strip off my shirt, pants, and boots while Luk does the same. I can't help but stare at his heavily muscled chest as he undresses. He's thinner now than he was back in Vegas, but it only serves to accentuate his build. I can also see the story of what's happened to us on this journey written on both our bodies, from the scars on his chest, to the puncture wounds on my upper thigh, and the metal and leather glove on my hand.

The only light now comes from the fire as it shifts and moves with the breeze, first illuminating parts of us and then throwing us back in darkness. Luk looks at me and I can see the love in his eyes. It's been a long time since we've been alone and in a place where death was not just around the corner. I take a step toward him and suddenly we're kissing, both of us eager to show the other how we feel. Our lips form together, shifting and sliding as our hands explore, sometimes hesitantly, and sometimes with more boldness. I feel his fingers slide down my back to the smooth curve just above my hips. I want more, I want his hand to move down, so I mimic his movements, letting my own hand slip down his back until my fingers touch the top of his underwear.

For a moment, I freeze and I feel him tense up and then I simply allow my fingers to travel lower, tracing a line down his buttocks, squeezing gently. He follows my cue and suddenly his hands are on my ass, on top of my underwear. Ever so slowly, his hands move across my thighs, his fingertips delicately touching each of the puncture wounds from the dunehounds and then they begin a slow upward journey until they reach the bullet wound that scars my abdomen. Before, I might have been embarrassed or even sickened by the thought of Luk touching a part of my body that's scarred or damaged, but now I find it both erotic and exciting.

It feels like I'm on fire, but in the best way possible. Every time his hand moves, it sends shocks of electricity pulsing through my body, from top to bottom. He pulls me closer and as our hips meet, I can feel his excitement. I press my lips harder against his, and allow my tongue to slip across his teeth, and finally into his mouth where his tongue meets mine. For a few moments, they twist around each other like two snakes dancing through the grass. I can feel his hand inching up past my stomach before it stops just below my breasts. Out of nowhere, a huge winged bug lands on Luk's head, probably attracted by the light of the fire. He jumps up and brushes it off and then we look at each other and I start laughing.

“I guess it's not meant to be,” I say, although I really, really want it to be.

“Guess not,” he replies, laughing along with me.

I stare at him as the shadows from the fire play across his face and chest and I sigh. I'm a little nervous about what would have been next, so the arrival of the bug is probably a good thing, but there's still part of me that would have been happy to have it happen.

“Maybe we should save this for when we get back.”

“Yeah, that's probably a good idea. Something to look forward to.”

“Yeah,” I say as the burning inside me slowly dims along with our little campfire.

“Let's get some rest.”

A little while later we're laying on our blankets, my head resting on his chest as I trace lines along his scars this time. He has his arm folded behind his head, so he can see my face as we talk.

“So, what's the plan for tomorrow?”

“Well,” I say before placing a soft kiss on his chest, “first thing we need to do is find the highway again. I'm pretty sure that it's probably a little north of here. I think we drifted south a bit during the crossing.”

“You're probably right.”

“After that, we just follow it as far as we can. I'm hoping that some of the towns between here and Birmingham are in better condition than Memphis.”

“Yeah. I know you didn't have a chance to get out much when we were at the house, but Mona and Olson took me to see what's left of the city,” he says, shaking his head. “It was worse than any of the places we've seen so far. Almost all the buildings were demolished. They're lying on top of each other like a kid's wooden blocks, and most of the area is still flooded. Mona said they rarely scavenge inside the remains, they're just too unstable.”

“That's what I figured.”

“Okay, so we find the highway and head south. What's the first town?”

“Probably a place called Holly Springs,” I say, flipping through the maps in my head.

“Sounds nice.”

“Yeah, let's hope it's still nice.”

“Okay, well...if you can stop playing with my chest we can get some sleep.”

I look at him and grin.

“What's the matter? You want me to stop?” I ask, batting my eyelashes at him.

“Hey, you can play all you want, but don't blame me when you can't get up in the morning.”

“Fine,” I say, mock pouting and sticking out my bottom lip.

“C'mere.” He pulls me up and tenderly kisses my cheek, eyelids, and finally my lips.

“Okay, now I can go to sleep.” I snuggle in close to him and close my eyes.


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