Book Three, Draax Series
Copyright 2020 Elizabeth Kelly
I woke slowly, feeling better than I had in weeks. My head no longer throbbed and the weird heaviness in my lungs and the urge to cough had disappeared. Even the ache in my back was gone. I stared up at the ceiling, blinking until my vision cleared.
Was I still on the Draax ship? My stomach tightened. I had to be. Unless the Draax had turned around and returned me to Earth. That was a definite possibility, right? I couldn’t remember much of what happened after sliding into that storage space to hide, but I had confusing images of a Draax with beautiful copper eyes and a mouth that did strange things to my insides.
And a sword, Ellis. Don’t forget about the sword he had.
I scrunched up my face, trying to remember. After a couple of seconds, I cringed. Oh God, had I … had I thrown up on the copper-eyed Draax? If the sour taste in my mouth was any indication, I had definitely vomited on him.
I lifted a hand to my face, staring at the catheter embedded in the back of it. I followed the tube to the IV bag hung up on a metal pole next to the bed. The pink tinged liquid in the bag had to be gallberry serum.
Gallberry serum was like goddamn gold on the black market. And hanging just above me was my ticket to surviving my next encounter with Richie. If I brought him serum, he’d not only forgive me for giving the juice to Bailey, he’d probably get down on his knees and kiss my fucking feet.
You have bigger problems than Richie Bulchanini, you idiot.
I licked my dry lips. Damn straight I did. I was definitely still on the Draax ship then. Hospitals on Earth didn’t give gallberry serum to lowers like me. The serum was reserved for the uppers – the rich and the famous. Which meant I was trapped on a Draax ship and that was definitely a more pressing concern than Richie Bulchanini. I needed to figure out a way to sweet talk my way out of imprisonment or…
I slapped the hand not attached to the bag of liquid gold behind my ear. The bulge of the translator was gone, and I breathed a sigh of relief. The thing was killing me, I had no doubt of that, and apparently the Draax had removed it. But why?
I touched my throat, manipulating the spot where the voice translator was. I couldn’t feel it either and I carefully sat up in the bed and studied the room I was in. Well shit. It was too big for me to still be on the ship. I knew that right away. It housed numerous hospital beds and a few large pieces of machinery and… oh fuck me.
I studied the Draax standing at the counter with his back to me. He was wearing a white coat that reminded me of the lab coats doctors wore on Earth. A hologram screen was to his left and every once in a while, he would study the screen before staring at the test tube in his left hand. His right hand tapped away at a tablet on the counter.
My heart pounding in my chest, I eased back the tape on my hand and, holding my breath, yanked the catheter from my hand. I ignored the blood oozing out of my hand and quietly slipped out from beneath the sheet.
I was still dressed in my clothes, but the bandages that bound my small tits had been removed. I stared longingly at the bag of gallberry serum but what use was it to me? I couldn’t exactly sell it on the black market if I was on the Draax planet and I was certain that’s where I was. Why they hadn’t just tossed me out of the ship into the blackness of space, I had no idea, but I was a fool to stick around just waiting for them to do whatever it was they had planned.
Did the Draax have prisons? Probably, and I had no wish to see the inside of one. I needed to get the fuck out of here and now.
My backpack was sitting on the floor next to the bed and I picked it up and slipped the straps over my arms, the familiar weight of it on my back comforting me a little.
Years of fighting for survival had made me a quiet little mouse. The Draax at the counter didn’t hear a thing as I glided silently across the room to the door. My heart still hammering, blood dripping out of my hand, I eased open the door, keeping my gaze trained on the broad back of the Draax.
He didn’t turn and I quickly glanced out into the hallway. It was a wide hallway but short with blind corners at either end. It was currently empty. Hopefully my luck would hold out just a little longer.
I took one final look at the Draax before stepping out into the hallway. I shut the door slowly, wincing a little at the click as it closed. My hands were sweating, and I was feeling weak and a little faint. The urge to cough had returned and I swallowed it down before turning left and jogging toward the corner.
I needed to find my way out of the building and find a place to hide. I knew it was summer on Draax so at least I wouldn’t freeze my ass off. Maybe I’d even find a –
I stared wide-eyed at the Draax who rounded the corner. He made a startled grunt and came to a stop, his gaze sweeping over my body. His dark hair was on the longer side and he had blue eyes. I made my own sound of surprise. I’d never seen a Draax with blue eyes before. Didn’t even know that was possible.
Ellis, get the fuck out of here!
Right. I needed to run.
The Draax took a step toward me and I turned and raced down the hallway toward the other end. Just as I made the corner, a second Draax appeared in front of me. I tried to stop, but my shoes skidded on the smooth stone floor. I crashed into the Draax with a loud grunt and fell backwards onto my ass. The impact jarred a cough from my throat. I tried to scramble away but the Draax was quick. His big hands gripped my arms and he lifted me to my feet. I stared into familiar copper-coloured eyes.
Shit. Double shit.
Keep your cool, Ellis. You’ve talked your way out of worse jams than this, right?
“Um, hey,” I said. “I’m Ellis. I met you on the ship, right? Sorry about the whole vomiting thing, I wasn’t feeling all that great.”
The Draax cocked his head at me before saying something in his own language.
Right. No more translators.
I coughed again. I was so fucked I could practically taste dick in the back of my throat.
The other Draax had joined us and he said something to the copper-eyed one. The Draax shook his head before staring at my hands. A frown marred his admittedly perfect looking face and my breath caught in my throat. He was angry with me.
It’d be hard to talk them out of killing me or throwing me in prison without a translator. Shit, why had I never tried to learn any of the Draax language? I was gonna die because of laziness.
I realized the Draax was rubbing his thumb over the top of my hand. I glanced down and immediately felt a little woozy at the blood that was smeared across my hand and still dripping out. Which was weird, because the sight of blood – even my own – had never bothered me before.
The ache in my back had returned and it was difficult to breathe. I coughed hard, bending over with the force of it. Shit, on top of everything else, whatever nasty lung infection I was brewing was starting to hit me hard. Weird that the gallberry serum hadn’t helped but maybe I’d only been on it for a little bit. Truthfully, I had no idea how much time had passed.
My coughing fit finally eased but I stayed bent over as I drew in a ragged breath, not particularly enjoying the whistling wheeze my lungs made. I glanced up at the two Draax. The blue-eyed one was leaning against the wall. His look didn’t scream I’m gonna chop you up into small bits with my shiny sword, but it wasn’t a friendly look either.
I shifted my gaze to the other one. He had what almost looked like sympathy in his copper eyes and when I realized the heavy warmth circling my upper back was his hand, I quickly straightened and stepped away.
The blue eyed Draax’s hand shot out and caught my arm. I froze like a scared mouse as he shook his head at me. I wasn’t normally such a chicken, but I was tired and terrified and freezing cold despite my thick hoodie and the sweat that was sliding down my back.
My legs were overcooked noodles and I locked my knees to keep from collapsing to the floor again as the blue eyed Draax tugged me back down the hallway. I staggered forward a few steps and then my locked knees gave out. Before I could hit the floor, the copper eyed Draax caught me.
He cradled me in his arms, and I stared numbly at him as he carried me toward the room I’d escaped from. The door flew open and lab coat Draax burst out into the hallway, his eyes wide. He stared at the three of us, relief crossing his face before it turned to annoyance.
He said something and disappeared back into the room. We followed him in and copper eyed Draax set me back on the bed before pulling off my backpack and setting it on the floor. Lab coat Draax brought over two round green rings connected by a black chain. He opened one ring and I didn’t object when he slid it around my wrist and clicked it into place. The other ring was slid around the bed rail and I blinked in surprise when both rings turned red the moment he clicked the second ring shut.
I studied the ring around my wrist before pulling experimentally. It immediately tightened and I flinched, convinced that the red meant it would burn me, but the metal remained cool to the touch.
The lab coat Draax said something to me, it was clear he was annoyed at me for pulling at the ring, but I ignored him. Both rings were completely smooth with no lock I could pick. There had to be some type of mechanism that opened it, but I couldn’t see even a seam on either ring.
I pulled again and the ring tightened further until it was cutting into my skin. Lab coat Draax huffed loudly and gave the other two Draax a can you believe this idiot look before running his finger along the underside of the ring.
It loosened and he very clearly admonished me in his own language before turning away. The copper-eyed Draax said something to him and he turned back, staring at my hand before shrugging.
The copper eyed Draax pointed at the blood and I could hear the irritation in his voice. The other Draax walked across the room and returned with some gauze and a bandage. He wiped away the blood and slapped the bandage over the hole before giving the copper eyed Draax an are you happy look?
The Draax pointed to the bag of serum and the one who’d bandaged my hand immediately shook his head. The copper eyed Draax spoke rapidly, his hands jabbing in the air as he pointed to me and to the serum again. It was clear he wanted me hooked up to the IV again.
Lab coat Draax continued to shake his head and the copper eyed Draax’s voice rose in anger. A deeper scowl crossed the lab coat Draax’s face and he pointed at the door before making a shooing motion.
Copper-eyed Draax brushed past him and stalked to the far side of the room. He opened up what looked like a fridge and returned with a bottle of pink liquid. Lab coat Draax said something but he ignored him and opened the bottle before holding it out to me.
I took the bottle, sniffing at the opening even though I knew what it was. What else could it be? Nothing on Earth was that glorious pink colour. The sweet smell of the gallberry juice filled my nostrils. It smelled a little like fresh almost overripe strawberries.
The copper eyed Draax made a drinking motion. I stared at lab coat Draax who rolled his eyes. I drank quickly, my eyes widening when the sweet liquid slid down my throat. I drank two big swallows before sucking in a breath and staring wide-eyed at the three Draax.
Oh my God, gallberry juice was fucking amazing.