“I’ve had enough sleep.” Esmina pronounced, shrugging out of his grip.
“Five years.” Riddick said, his voice a purr as he touched her shoulder.
“It didn’t feel that long.” she said dryly, stepping out of his reach.
Riddick’s lower lip puffed out slightly. He hadn’t intended for her to react in such a way.
“So aren’t you the least bit curious about how I came into all this?” He opened his arms wide to encompass the Necromonger fleet.
Esmina flashed a toothy grin. “You killed Lord Marshall Zhylaw. Much to the dismay of Dame Vaako, of course. The fact that you’re a Breeder does not sit well with them.”
“I can tell.” Riddick moved over to a table and poured himself a glass of wine. He watched her from over the rim of the glass as he sipped.
Her mood shifted again, protean in its fluidity. It made Riddick cautious.
“They dress me up in this getup, parade me around like some pretty little trinket. Hiding what is unseemly…” Esmina then began to claw at the buckle of the collar at her throat. “All the while touting their ‘solution’ to life!” She succeeded in undoing the buckle and began to work on the ties and stays of the bodice. She was frantic in her movements, as if the ensemble were trying to suffocate her.
“Mina,” Riddick said as quietly and as soothingly as possible. He approached her slowly before taking her by the wrists and pulling her into his arms. Her face was wet, tears streaming freely. Harsh sobs choked from her throat as she clung to him. He pressed his lips to her temple and held her tight.
As soon as she had calmed down, Esmina pulled away, wiping her face. “Could you help me out of this?” she asked quietly. “I don’t want to summon the entourage.”
Riddick’s fingers found the ties and hooks, deftly undoing them in quick succession. She had been buckled in pretty tightly, as evidenced by the sigh that escaped her lips when the bodice went slack and she quickly shed it.
Riddick lightly trailed the tips of his fingers down her spine. He couldn’t help but notice the texture of scar tissue up and down her back. The smooth, almost slick feeling to burns. She had not had those when he had seen her fall…
Esmina hugged herself. “That is what they did to me.” she said softly.
She then stripped off the remainder of her clothes so that he could see the network of cuts and burned that marked the rest of her body. It was like a twisted lace work of welts, the reminder of knives and whips and lit cigarettes.
Riddick swallowed back the revulsion he felt for what had happened to her, and reaching for her, meant to pull her to him. But she twisted out of reach. Turning to face him, he saw that she was crying again.
She took his hand then, guiding his fingers to one scar in particular. It was rounded and smooth, dimpling inward slightly. “Fifth lumbar down…” he whispered.
“It missed the Sweet Spot.” she breathed, barely audible.
Riddick angrily wiped tears from his eyes. It was his fault. He had allowed this to happen to her.
Esmina cocked her head to the side. She had never seen Riddick cry before. At least never a time that she remembered. She reached up gingerly to touch his cheek, brushing away the wetness there. “Your eyes used to be brown…” she murmured, passing her hand over his face.
Riddick took her hand and held it pressed to his cheek as he pulled her to him, resting his forehead against hers. He began to time his breathing and heart-rate with Esmina’s, trying to subvert her own in order to slow it down. Breathing as one, Esmina melded against Riddick, beginning to calm.
Esmina found herself clinging to him, her hands plaintively grasping his muscular arms as they made the minutest of swaying motions. The combination of his sweat and musk was a heady scent, making her heart beat a quick rhythm.
Her breath hitched in her throat as angst and longing fought each other for control as he drew his lower lip along her jawline. She felt his breath against her ear as he nibbled her earlobe, a soft growl then came from his throat. He then began to kiss and nibble a path down her neck to her shoulders.
She was torn. His rough, animalistic possessiveness of her had always been appealing. Yet there had never been anything in the way of inferiority in his treatment of her. She had been his equal. His mate.
But that had been sullied.
Sensing her flight reflex about to kick in, Riddick clutched her to him, reluctant to let her leave him. Fear of losing her again causing him to go rigid. She was unwilling to look at him, to make eye contact, yet she could sense his plea for her to lift her gaze.
Despite their silver sheen, Riddick’s eyes were dark, clouded. His brow was furrowed with concern. His fingers trailed down her cheek, and although his lips did not move, she heard him speak her name.
His kisses were soft and gentle at first, his mouth sweet with wine. But as she yielded to him, they grew firmer with a primal urgency. She clung to him, fingernails scraping against the plate of his armor as if something were trying to tear him away from her. As if letting go of him would mean losing that last little part of herself that remained.
As if he could feel her inner turmoil for himself, Riddick lifted her up and carried her over to the bed.
* * *
They lay in the afterglow of sex, a tangle of limbs and sweat drenched sheets. Riddick was on his side, with one leg thrown over Esmina as her back was pressed against his chest.
For the two of them, sex was a primal act involving teeth, nails, and hair pulling. Red fingernail marks laced across Riddick’s back and her hair was a disheveled mess.
His voice a soft purr, Riddick began to tell Esmina of what he had been through after he had thought her dead. Of all of his prison escapes and the bounty hunters that tried to make a name for themselves. Of Lynn and the Dark Athene, Caroline Fry and the survivors of the Hunter Gratzner. Jack, later called Kira, and the Imam on their escape from Chillingham and her mercenary crew. And the deaths of the two at the hands of the Necromongers. He also told her about the fall of Furya, the world of his birth.
“So what will you do now?” She asked, her skin alive with goosebumps as he played his fingers across her flesh.
“We find a world, and just live.” Riddick said simply, his hand coming to rest on her stomach.
A cold chill washed over her then, and she curled up into the fetal position. “Riddick…” she breathed, unable to finish the sentence.
He didn’t say a word, only folded himself tightly around her.