Racers Ch. 09byMygypsy©
Here is the next instalment of Racers.
Sorry about the length of time between chapters but the characters from my other story took over.
* * * * *
Ryker lay behind Cheandra spooning her as she dozed after their bout of sex on the bed. When her breathing deepened and he was sure she was asleep he got off the bed, covered her with one side of the blanket she lay on and reached for his jeans. He was doing up the waistband as he walked out into the main room where Tristis and Mace sat in chairs talking quietly.
"Where's Burtie?" Ryker asked.
"He's in with Zack." Tristis answered.
"Is Cheandra all right?" Mace asked as he glanced past Ryker as if he expected her to follow him from her room.
"She's asleep at the moment. It might be wise if you lot clear out when she gets up, she will be very upset." Ryker said.
"I said it would be silly to take it as far as you did. Cheandra won't take this calmly, she'll fight you all the way." Mace warned.
"Oh she'll fight me alright but she won't be able to do a thing about what I done." Ryker said gravely.
Mace shook his head but remained silent as he looked away from his team leader.
Ryker watched the way Mace reacted and knew that there may be some objections from the other man in the future over what had transpired not to long ago.
"Tristis can you go to the town healer and get her to come here? The sooner she sees Zack the more chance she can help him if at all possible." Ryker said as Tristis got to his feet.
"Okay, I'll go do that now. What do I offer her in way of payment?" Tristis asked.
"Say Cheandra asked that she be allowed to come and help treat Zack." Mace told him.
"Yeah, that should do it." Ryker agreed. He watched as Tristis left the room and then he looked towards Mace before heading back towards Cheandra's bedroom.
Cheandra was still asleep when he entered the room quietly and stripped off his jeans, he climbed onto the bed behind Cheandra gathering her into his arms when she started to wake up.
"Lay back down and sleep." Ryker ordered as he pulled her down onto the bed.
Cheandra struggled for a few moments until she realised that there was little chance of escaping his hold. She looked over her shoulder angrily.
"Let me go and get out of my room!" She demanded.
"Now is that any way to talk to your mate and we just been mated on this day as well?" Ryker chided as he caught her arm in self-preservation.
Cheandra made a sound of disbelief and tried to elbow Ryker but he held her securely and prevented her attacking him in any way. Finally she gave up and stopped fighting him.
"Now that is better." Ryker told her as he pulled the edge of one of the blankets over both of them.
Cheandra remained silent as she lay in his arms on her bed. The alcohol she had consumed and the warmth of the day soon combined to have her dozing in his arms as they lay there.
Ryker lay on the bed thinking about what he had done. He had been attracted to Cheandra for over a year now but he had not made any moves on her as he had believed she was with Mace. When he had learnt that there was no relationship there he had intended to pursue her but the happenings of today had fast tracked his plans. With Zack injured he could not chance loosing her as a Racer and he did not want her to take up with either of the men it was rumoured she had been with today.
Cheandra made a soft noise in her sleep and he loosened his hold on her as she rolled over to face him on the bed. He studied the mark he had left on the pale skin of her neck and nodded to himself as he lowered his head back onto the pillow and closed his eyes.
* * * * *
Cheandra rinsed the cloth out in the basin of cool water and wrung it out before replacing it on Zack's forehead. His face was flushed with fever and he was sleeping fitfully.
It was two days since the incident that had seen his leg badly broke and since then infection had set into the wound just above his knee. In that time Ryker had reinforced his claim on Cheandra each night, he had removed the door to her room to prevent her locking him out of her room. She had become very angry with everyone including Shari and she lashed out verbally at anyone who gave her the slightest provocation. Only Ryker braved her moods and spent time with her but it seemed to no avail and only appeared to anger her further.
The only person she seemed to have any patience with was Zack who was suffering from an infection induced fever. Cheandra spent more than her share of time looking after him, bathing him to try to bring the fever down as well as trying to get him to swallow some of the soup she had on hand all the time for him.
"How is he doing?" Ryker asked quietly from the doorway.
Cheandra sent him an irritated glare before turning back to her patient. "His fever still hasn't broken. I fear the infection in his leg is getting worse."
"Do you think the healer could help him?" Ryker asked as he walked into the room. He placed a hand on Zack's forehead and frowned at the heat that could be felt through the damp cloth.
"Do you think I am not trying all I know to help him?" Cheandra hissed quietly.
"I was asking if you want help nursing him." Ryker answered tightly.
Cheandra turned her face away as she took the cloth off his head and rinsed it in cool water once more before squeezing most of the water out of it and replacing it on his head.
"I am going out for a little while. Mace will be here if you need anything." Ryker told her before he left the room.
Cheandra didn't answer his comment or acknowledge the fact he had left the room. She was still upset over the fact that he had turned to her to keep the team together not because of any feelings or attraction he felt for her.
Soon it became clear that nothing she could do was having any effect on the infection in Zack's leg or the fever that was stealing his remaining strength. Admitting defeat Cheandra got to her feet and headed out of the room to find Mace. He was in the main room working on a piece of wood he was trying to carve into an ornament.
"You have to go to the healer and ask her to come here or send some medicine for an infection in Zack's leg where it was cut
"I'll go now." Mace said as he got to his feet.
Cheandra watched as he grabbed his helmet and gloves and left the room, sighing heavily she turned and headed back to Zack's room. She was still there when Ryker returned to the house shortly afterwards and walked to the room when he was unable to find Mace anywhere. Cheandra looked towards the doorway hopefully but turned away when she saw it was only Ryker.
"I have had his riding leather jeans repaired for when he is well again." Ryker told her quietly.
Cheandra turned her head to look at him silently. They both knew that the chances of Zack being able to ride again where slim as his knee joint was badly damaged and would probably heal stiff. She turned her face back towards Zack's fever flushed face and nodded silently. Ryker turned and left the room, when he returned a few minutes later he carried a cup of coffee and a plate of sandwiches.
"You need to eat." He ordered softly as he placed the cup and plate on the little table by the head of Zack's bed.
Cheandra opened her mouth to argue but shut it again as she realised that she had not eaten that day and it was well past the noon meal hour. Thankfully she reached for a sandwich and bit into it with hunger, she quickly ate the food and turned to the drink thankfully.
"I have sent Mace to the healer." Cheandra admitted.
"I always knew you would do what is best for Zack." Ryker told her gruffly.
Cheandra sent him a sour look but was heartened to hear that Ryker had faith in her ability and desire to care for her team members. She got to her feet, picked up the empty plate and cup then headed for the kitchen knowing that Ryker would take over watching Zack. She set about preparing a roast for the night meal and had it sitting in a slow oven when Mace returned with the healer.
"You wish me to treat your team member?" The woman asked Cheandra.
"Yes, my skills are not able to cure what ails him." Cheandra said to her.
The older woman nodded thoughtfully before looking Cheandra in the eye. "I will try to cure the injured rider but I can not promise that my skills will be able to make his leg work as before." She told Cheandra.
Cheandra led the way to Zacks room and then stood back and watched as the healer began to examine Zack's leg.
"I will need warm water to wash the wound. Hot water to clean my instruments and a lot of clean rags." The healer said as she unwrapped the wound above his knee. She shook her head when she saw the infection that made the knee swollen.
Cheandra hurried to the kitchen to ensure that the water was put on the stove to heat then headed to the linen storeroom to find a clean sheet to tear up for rags. When she returned to the sick room the healer was bathing Zack's chest with cool water to try to reduce his fever.
"Make a tea with these herbs and sweeten it with honey if you have any." The healer told Cheandra as she handed her a packet of dried herbs.
Cheandra hurried to do as she was told. When she returned carrying the herbal tea both Ryker and the healer where working on Zack's injured leg, he lay motionless on the bed, his face colourless.
Cheandra was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee when the healer came out of Zack's room; she walked through the house until she found Cheandra.
"I have done all I can for your team member. I would ask that some new medicines be picked up for me in payment." The healer asked quietly. Normally a healer could not afford to pay to get supplies delivered by a rider and the normal way of passing along supplies meant aging which was generally not desirable.
"We will be happy to pick up your medicines for you." Cheandra assured her.
"The rider will never use that leg properly again. Already the knee is stiffening up." The healer told her.
"I will give you a lift back to your house." Cheandra said as she got to her feet.
"Should you not stay and look after the injured?" The healer asked.
"One of the others will watch him. We all look after him." Cheandra tried to explain.
* * * * *
Cheandra checked the dressing on Zack's injured leg then replaced the bedclothes; she washed her hands thoroughly then checked his forehead to see if his fever had returned.
"How is he?" Mace asked from the doorway.
Cheandra turned her head to look at him with a frown and Mace took several steps back ready to leave if she was angry.
"His fever has went down and now he sleeps," Cheandra said levelly before turning back to the motionless form in the bed.
"How is his leg?" Mace asked quietly.
"The infection is nearly gone but the knee will always be stiff," Cheandra said faintly.
An injury such as Zack had was sure to end the work of a racer, a rider needed full mobility for their dangerous work.
"We must find something for Zack to do to earn his place in the future." Cheandra said quietly.
"You need to talk to Ryker about what Zack can do from now on," Mace said evenly.
Cheandra gritted her teeth as she turned away, having to ask Ryker for anything was not an option she wanted but she also knew that as leader it was up to Ryker to assign Zack a job he could do from now on.
"Mace, you sit with Zack so I can go and start the evening meal cooking." Cheandra said decisively as she got to her feet and headed for the door.
Mace moved back so Cheandra could go past him before entering the room; he went to the chair she had been sitting in and sat down. He rested his booted feet on the edge of the bed and leant back so he was comfortable.
Out in the kitchen Cheandra set about preparing steak to marinade so that it would be tender when cooked. Next she tossed vegetables in a spice mix and then put them in a slow oven so they would cook slowly taking up the flavours of their coating.
She checked there were plenty of cold drinks to choose from before setting to work on making bread dough. Once it was mixed she set it aside and looked around the kitchen; she was pleased to note that Shari had kept the kitchen neat and tidy while she had been occupied looking after Zack.
Cheandra was sitting at the table when Tristis and Shari walked into the house and Shari made her way to the kitchen.
"I got off from work an hour early to cook the meal," Shari said as she saw Cheandra watching her.
"Get yourself a drink and sit down, I got the meal started." Cheandra said as she pushed the chair closest to her out from the table.
Shari kept darting uneasy looks her way as she poured herself a cup of cold juice and sat down hesitantly.
Cheandra noticed Tristis standing in the doorway watching her with narrowed eyes, trying to work out if she was about to chastise his girlfriend for something.
"I am sure you will be pleased to hear Zack's fever has been down all day," Cheandra said to Tristis before making a waving motion with her hand to send him from the doorway.
"I won't be far Shari," Tristis said with a pointed look at Cheandra before moving out of sight.
"I notice you have kept my house and particularly my kitchen clean while I have been nursing Zack," Cheandra said softly.
"I thought it was the least I could do with Zack injured and Ryker ..." Shari broke off not sure what she could say.
"Ryker being a bastard? Get used to it, Ryker is a bastard." Cheandra said tightly.
Shari looked down at her hands but didn't say anything. She had actually found Ryker easy to get on with; sure he had made several advances to her but he always stopped when she protested his attentions.
"As I was saying, I am happy with the way you have helped around here." Cheandra said evenly.
"It's my home now so that means I am responsible for helping look after the house." Shari said with a smile.
Cheandra looked at Shari startled, Shari obviously hadn't been told that it was not her house but Cheandra's and as such Cheandra had say over who done what in the house when.
"As head female it is my place to tell others what tasks or duties they have in my house. Doing the chores while I was preoccupied shows me you could be a very useful addition to this team. Has Tristis started to teach you to ride a Racer's bike yet?" Cheandra asked.
"Your team discussed it the first meal after Zack was hurt but Ryker said it was best if it was left to you to teach me to ride." Shari said quietly.
Cheandra frowned with annoyance but pushed it aside. She got to her feet and checked on the food cooking; added the tray of dough to the oven then headed for the door.
"We are going out to the shed where the bikes are kept to see what condition the bike Zack used to use is in. Come, it will be your bike from now on." Cheandra ordered with a glance back over her shoulder at Shari.
Shari followed Cheandra uneasily; she knew that Ryker and Burtie were out in the shed working on the bikes.
Cheandra walked out into the compound around the house and frowned when she saw that the bike shed was wide open, she stalked across to the doors and walked into the shed.
"Hey, what are you doing out here? Is there a problem with Zack?" Ryker asked as he turned to face the doorway and saw who had entered the shed.
Cheandra stopped in her tracks, outside the house she had no protection from Ryker and he could order her around all he liked.
"I came out here to see what condition Zack's old bike is in, Shari will be riding it from now on." Cheandra said with a hint of challenge in her voice.
"Good," Ryker said, " we need a second Racer. How is Zack doing? His fever down yet?"
Cheandra glanced from Burtie to Ryker and then at the bike Zack used to ride, "His fever has been down since just before sunrise, it's stayed steady all day. There are signs that the infection is beaten as well."
"I had Mace fix the bike the day after Zack's accident," Ryker said as he leant leisurely against one of the benches. He couldn't help noticing how jumpy Cheandra was around him and hoped that with time she would grow used to him.
Cheandra stared at Ryker for several moments before turning her attention to the bike; the paintwork had many scratches on the side facing her showing the force of the crash.
"Tomorrow you can work with Shari on her riding, today you are to rest after looking after Zack." Ryker told her.
"I don't need to rest, I need fresh air." Cheandra snapped.
"You are not in the house now, you are in my territory so don't think you can defy me!" Ryker told her and started towards her.
Cheandra backed several steps before she could stop herself and then halted as she gritted her teeth, "You can not intimidate me," she muttered as he came to stand in front of her.
"What?" Ryker demanded in a soft menacing voice.
"Nothing," Cheandra said faintly as she took a step backwards.
Ryker followed her and stroked his hands down the outside of her arms feeling her flinch as he touched her.
Cheandra attempted to back away another step but Ryker grasped her upper arms firmly.
"I thought you said you wanted fresh air," Ryker said in a low voice.
"I got to keep an eye on the food cooking," Cheandra grasped at any reason to escape him. She didn't want to have a confrontation with Ryker as she knew he would push his advantage and inevitably win any argument.
Ryker grinned as he realised that Cheandra was smart enough to avoid a confrontation.
"Go watch the food then, I'll be talking to you tonight." Ryker told her.
Cheandra shot him an angry look but managed to control her urge to make a sharp comment, she knew that his version of talking would entail her having to submit to his physical desires. She had no intention of letting him know that she was enjoying his attentions each night; her only complaint was that he had claimed her to prevent her leaving the team not out of any desire on his part.
"I need to go and check on Zack," Cheandra claimed to get away from him.
"Go then; I won't stop you doing your duty to the team." Ryker sneered.
Back inside the house Cheandra breathed a sigh of relief when she went to check on Zack and found his temperature still down. She returned to the kitchen to check on the food cooking and to put some thin soup on the back of the stove to warm.
The evening meal was a tense affair; Cheandra noticing for the first time how her reaction to the forced claiming was affecting her team. Everyone kept a discrete watch on her especially when Ryker was near her and they kept their distance at all times.
Cheandra treated the meal like the celebration it should have been with Zack on the mend and tried to ignore the way Ryker kept crowding her or reminding her in subtle ways that he had claimed her as a mate.
When Cheandra had the kitchen cleaned to her liking she retreated from the main rooms to head to her room. She paused in the doorway cursing the missing door for a few seconds before heading into the room to gather clean clothes so she could have a shower.
"I though I'd find you here," Ryker said as he walked into her room without invitation.
"I didn't say you could come into my room!" Cheandra snapped angrily.
"I'm your mate, remember," Ryker chided almost jeering.
Cheandra took a deep breath and turned away from him; she was tired of fighting with him all the time and didn't want another fight.
Ryker walked into the room and up behind Cheandra; he was on his guard in case she turned and took a swing at him or lashed out backwards in an attempt to keep him away from her.
"What no fight?" Ryker asked as he slipped his arms around her waist and nuzzled against her neck. He felt Cheandra stiffen in his grasp and thought for a moment he had goaded her into fighting.