Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chapter 22 Self Defense

"All right. I'm going to teach you self defense."

Maria smiles at me in a very friendly way, a hand on her hip like she’s just proclaimed I need a make over. We're here ahead of the others, and our problem as I see it is that we're lacking in things to do. If I'd thought ahead, I probably could have brought a book and had her practicing reading. Instead she's going to show me what she knows.

“What? Me?” I can’t help looking at her in disbelief though she is very serious.

“C’mon,” she says. “It’s easy.”

I blink a few more times at her. I’ve never been very athletic. Plus I doubt that there’s much I could do if any one of these people ever really wanted to hurt me.

We stand in the back of a factory that's overgrown with weeds and plants and very large trees. Maria came and got me from Henri’s place and has been chatting with me the whole way until now, when she looks at me with clear intent and possibly a little humor at my reaction.

"Paula, focus. C’mon, we’re going to do this.” She walks over to me with a look on her face that is simply too determined. I try not to laugh for nervousness, especially when she begins in a very serious manner. "Okay, first lesson-- weak points. Besides the obvious, which guys'll guard closely expecting you to attack them there, we've also got eyes and throat."

I don't stop to think. The words roll off my tongue before I realize I'm doing my best to antagonize her. "What if they're tall?"


"It's a valid question," I say, still being purposely obstinate. When she gets that flushed look of annoyance, I have to hold back my laugh. She's one of those people who are deceptively small and cute, but you obviously don't want to make her angry.

There is a laugh though. Maria and I both pause and turn towards the sound. Alex leans against the building with a smile, the muscles of his long torso curve ever so slightly as he leans, and I look away. Are they allergic to shirts around here?

"She's right," he says with his slight accent. “It is a good question."

Maria crosses her arms. “I’d really prefer that you don’t agree with her or we’ll never get anywhere.”

"She can practice on me." Alex stands up straight and walks over towards us. He's tall, close to Henri's height, but with a much thinner build. Still, I don't relish the idea of him standing in as a training dummy.

Maria thinks about it, and, probably seeing something really amusing happening in ten seconds, grins with a glint in her eye that's clearly aimed at me. "Sure. Have at it."

"Are you serious?" I ask incredulously as Maria steps out of the way to be replaced with Alex's tall form in front of me. There's a friendly grin on him as if he's amused and at the same time trying to not worry me. But a friendly smile on anyone around here probably should worry me.

He takes a step towards me, mimicking someone more threatening. And I take a step back, unsure of just how serious to take him.

"Don't give ground," Maria says from behind him. "Never let him herd you. Don't be defensive; be offensive."

"Would it help if I told him he smells like a cow?”

Maria groans; I laugh nervously. And Alex takes that moment to swoop in, half tackling me in one smooth swift motion. His arms wrap around me tightly and I freeze. With the warm skin of a firm body pressed against me, I can’t think. My brain goes blank trying to ignore Maria’s laughter and my own hot cheeks.

I hear him chuckle and his grip loosens so that it's less like a hold and more like a hug. When I glance up, I'm faced with his friendly, unassuming smile. But as if that isn’t embarrassing enough, I hear a very familiar voice ask with humor clear in his tone, “What's going on here?”

Alex’s hands haven’t moved from my hips, but I'm ready to bolt when I see Brandon with Mitchell and Angel beside him and a new friend who I haven’t met before.

There is absolutely no good way to explain this.

Next Chapter -->


  1. Poor Paula, that wasn't very fair of Alex! I can just imagine her humiliation at being found by Brandon in what, to her mind, is a compromising situation. To make matters worse, she knows he can read her thoughts and I have a feeling she is so flustered right now trying to cover them up might just make them louder.

    Maria is right though, she does need to learn some self-defence if she is going to survive. Her heros aren't always going to be there when she needs saving and this place is a lot different to where she grew up. As much as it pains me to say this being an avid reader, reading doesn't strike me as a very important skill, more a luxury.

    There were some great one-liners in this update, so glad I'm alone while reading this because I quite literally snorted at one or two of them ... tell me, lunar, are they allergic to shirts outside the neutral territory?

  2. "She can practice on me." Swoon.

    OK. I picture Paula enduring several of these training sessions and failing badly at them until the time she is actually threatened. I do not see her as a person who would not fight back.

    I adore Paula's quirky sense of humor.

    Is that Kyrene with Brandon in that last shot? Is she even slightly possessive of Alex?

  3. Illandrya, I know, it wasn't. I couldn't see it going any other way, but have no idea what he was thinking, if he was thinking anything at all. I was mortified for Paula, lol.

    You're right of course. In this case reading is the luxury. It goes to show you how inexperienced and innocent Paula is. She will need to learn some self defense, and Maria is not going to let this go.

    LOL! Thanks, Illandrya. This one rolled out way too easily, and I figured that no one else could be as amused as I was at this. And there is definitely a shirt allergy going around-- Killer, Jimmy, and Alex all have it. It's not just for my gratification either (though hey, it doesn't hurt).

    Gayl, lol.

    Maria is definitely not going to let Paula off the hook this easily, so there will be more training sessions which she will most likely fail at miserably. At least it'll be something to do.

    Thank you, lol. I love her sense of humor, mostly because I can imagine that it's the sort of humor that would be completely missed by a lot of these guys in the Wildlands.

    Very good eye. That is indeed Kyrene. And that's a good question too. She is standing next to Brandon who happens to be one of her regular partners, so she can't really say much. But it's still a very good question! I already know the answer to that one, and I think it'll come out in another one of my half chapters.

  4. Sorry it's taken me so long to get to this. I read both chapters at the same time.

    In the previous chapter, it was interesting that Brandon and Paula talking about cooking seemed so normal and then in the midst of even such a seemingly ordinary conversation, Paula is once again reminded of the not so normal world she lives in just by a simple remark about servants.

    It is good to see her get some self defense lessons. It might come in handy although sparring with Alex might not be a good idea.

    Brandon seems like he would be okay with it but ... I don't know. The way he sort of asked that question at the end there seemed like he was pretty concerned about that compromising position he found those two in.

  5. Oh my. I get embarrassed on behalf of others, and my cheeks were burning for poor Paula in this one.

    Yay for Maria for insisting on giving her some lessons, though...she definitely needs them.

    The shirt allergy--I'm fine with it in this tribe, myself, but I can see how it would be difficult to get much done for all the staring and gaping and embarrassment.

    Paula gets to meet Kyrene!! I'm so excited! "She can practice on me." *fans self* That is just ripe for a double meaning...

    I think Brandon isn't really all that disturbed...I think that like a lot of siblings, he likes to tease his sister. It's endearing (but probably not to Paula).

    Awesome. I can't wait to see what happens next!

  6. Oh, this was really fun to read! Poor Paula!

    "Are they allergic to shirts around here?"

    Ha, you'd think so, wouldn't you? LOL, that was too funny. A shirt might have made this situation less awkward. Only mildly though. ;)

    Gosh...I would just hate to know Brandon. You couldn't hide anything from him. He'd know exactly what Paula was thinking. I think Brandon probably finds this all a little too amusing, but I would bet on there being a little bit of big brother protectiveness at play here too.

  7. Carnaxa, it's okay. I'm glad to see you.

    Sparring with Alex is a horrible idea! I don't imagine Paula would get much done other than be flustered and distracted, and as amusing as Maria might find that for a little, I think she'd get very annoyed after a while, lol.

    Paula does need some self defense lessons though.

    Brandon definitely has no room to talk considering his own history with multiple partners. Still, there probably is some part of him that might surprise him as irrational. I think he's the sort of guy that family is very important to him, and he's adopted Paula.

    Rachel, lol!

    Maria will do her best to take care of Paula in her own way which is quite different from the people who are currently around her-- Henri, Brandon and Alex.

    I think for the people in the tribe it's not a big deal. For Paula though it's a huge deal, lol.

    And Kyrene gets to meet Paula. That'll be important I think.

    Double meaning? Oh you perv, lol! I didn't think of that, but man, that's true.

    Brandon is definitely stepping into his role as big brother. Everything he knows he learned from his own brother.


    Carla, thanks. I'm really glad that other people found it amusing 'cause I'm rather easy to entertain so my amusement isn't a good gauge.

    You're right that a shirt might have made the situation less awkward, but then again even with a shirt Alex is still rather dangerously blush inducing.

    I know, poor Brandon! There are probably a lot of people who feel the same way when you think about it, and who probably go to lengths to avoid him lest he catch their thoughts.

    But I'm sure that Brandon does see some entertainment value in Paula's crush. You do make a good bet though, lol.

  8. I just love this. And considering Paula's options, this gorgeous and obviously interested creature cannot be considered just a crush. Does that light and flirtatious emotional attachment even have any meaning where they live? Poor girl though, totally embarrassing to have Brandon walk up and see her all hot faced and yeah!!!

  9. Poor Paula! I'm super embarrassed for her. I hope she can think of a good excuse.

  10. Ummm, just found your blog and wow that Alex is a hotty. I wish they made them like that in "real" life. I am definitely intrigued.

    Currently looking for the back button to read they entire thing! Need. More. Alex.

  11. SB, I would think that something as light as a crush would be all the more precious because it definitely isn't something you see very often around there. I don't think many people have time for something as light and flirtatious as crushes.

    But yeah, super embarrassing to have a sibling you can't hide anything from, lol!

    Heredon, hey there. Yeah, I don't think there's a good excuse, lol. It one of those times it's best to just distract and pretend nothing happened.

    Mrs. Stuffy, welcome! Haha, yeah Alex is a very fun and interesting character. His first appearance is here and then he appears from this chapter onward. There will definitely plenty of Alex upcoming!

  12. LOL @ "what if he's tall?" :)

    Paula was just hilarious in this. And I'm hoping she has some latent mental power, because she's seeming pretty hopeless in the physical realm, lol! Though having Alex around, like that, can't really promote focus, can it? ;)

  13. LOL! She was pretty hopeless here. It's like Shadey said at VSS-- her best weapon will be her mind and her ability to possibly talk herself out of any situation.

    No, Alex is very not helpful to concentration! I think next time, Maria will probably ban him from the training session.

  14. "Are they allergic to shirts around here?"
    *snort* thankfully, they are, or we couldn't get these delicious glimpses at Alex.
    And the heat generated between Alex and Paula is palatable and certainly noticeable by all, Brandon does not look best pleased!

  15. Yeah, Alex doesn't need a shirt! And no, Brandon doesn't look pleased, does he? lol!