Chapter 1: Phoenix's Last Stand
Phoenix Sanchez had a gun to her temple and a bag of type O blood in her hand. "Fix him, doc," gang leader of the Snakes, Stefan Colleen, ordered the barely-out-of-school intern. It was a common occurrence in Rainden for gangs, violence, and gunshot wounds.
The dark haired girl herself had never imagined being held at gunpoint to fix a wounded member of the Snakes, but crap definitely happened. She knew that well—especially since it had been twelve years since she had been gang-raped because of the orders of Gregory McCain, the gang leader of the Vipers (Stefan's opposition). Everyone in this town feared Gregory McCain. He had quite the reputation. Since birth Phoenix had been not to question the fact he was in charge. When the leader found out she was attempting to put him in prison he retaliated and Phoenix lost her virginity at fifteen to a bunch of nameless creeps.
"I'll treat him without a gun to my head. Thank you very much," Dr. Sanchez remarked coolly, not missing a beat. The nineteen-year-old guy dropped the gun to his side. "You could do better than this, Stefan."
"It's nothing personal, doc. This is a matter of survival. There is no choice," dark haired Stefan remarked dryly.
"Survive you will, but will you be able to live with yourself after it is all said in done?" Dr. Sanchez asked him quietly. She treated the other kid's physical wounds as she tried to change the leader's prospective.
"There is no choice," he repeated through gritted teeth.
She laughed. "Darling, there is always a choice. You just aren't looking hard enough to find it. Look harder. Tell me would you wish this life on anyone?" Her blue eyes pierced into his as if they could see into his soul. He was so stunned he couldn't speak.
"Would you want other children to have to kill to save themselves for being murdered? You give others no choice. It's a matter of self-defense. Yes, I know. I grew up in Rainden. And no, I'm not afraid of you. You are just a boy who has grown up too fast and thinks he's doing what's best. I can't fault you for that. I started out in the same place you did.
I didn't have to kill anyone to get my medical degree though I might have had to fight a bit both mentally and physically. To grow up when everything around you is chaos and everyone is killing each other is fast and almost impossible to survive. What shall we do about it?"
"Talk to the man in charge or take him down," Stefan put simply. The man in charge would be Gregory McCain, the leader of the Vipers who were Stefan's gang's opposition. Everyone in Rainden grew up in fear of McCain—total and absolute fear. Anyone who didn't ended up dead without delay. No one would just 'talk' to McCain.
The Snakes had been created in defense of the Vipers. If the Vipers hadn't been created Rainden wouldn't have the violence and the deaths. Phoenix was going to do a really stupid, foolish thing. She was prone to idiotic, impulsive actions. Honestly she was luck she hadn't been killed by now.
She finished treated the fallen gang member, who would be fine in a few days time.
"Where are you going, doc?" Stefan asked as he chased after her.
"To see a man about taking down the man in charge," Phoenix remarked.
"You can't do that! It's signing your own death warrant," Stefan said as he still chased after her.
"Oh, I'm signing it because I'm done being afraid of that man! Twenty-seven years of fear—my whole life. The murdering thief isn't worth it," Phoenix remarked. She was mad. Phoenix was so afraid even though she was acting as if she wasn't. The building she walked into filled her with overwhelming fear. You're signing your own death warrant. Stefan's wise words floated around her as they attempted to suffocate her.
Someone needed to stand up to the man. It sure wasn't going to be the police. Rainden police didn't do anything, but sit around, eat, and drink. Her breath came back to her as she looked at the man who had controlled her city since before she was born. There was no reason to be afraid of this man who thought he owned the world. It was all about power. If she wasn't afraid of him he had no power; then he couldn't hurt her.
It was definitely time to call in a favor.
A month later . . .
"Flame bringer," her old friend Morgan Campbell greeted gently after her shift. It was a month after her little encounter with the gang leader and the exact anniversary of the date she had been raped. He was standing there while leaning on the wall. He had been watching her working in the beautiful efficiency she had radiated even back in the past during their time at the Med Corps. It was almost as if she was dancing. She was a wonderful, mystic dancer.
A man barfed on the floor as they stared at each other. She issued an order to a nurse to bring the janitor in and take the man into a room and give him a trashcan.
While looking up at the gorgeous face of her knight in blue jeans Phoenix came close to forgetting to breathe. He was quite a creature. Dark hair, all-muscles, and farmer's tan made a lethal combination. The scar that ran the length of his cheek near her ear should have distracted from the beauty of him, but it only added towards his powerful aurora.
He whispered her nickname from their time as partners in Med Corps. Currently, they worked in different departments. "Your Majesty," she countered with his nickname. She hugged him.
The hug was so Phoenix—unexpected, impulsive, and too sweet. Morgan hadn't smiled in five years, but she made him smile. He wasn't the kind to smile easily. Now he wasn't happy and he doubted he would ever be. Morgan Campbell was a lonely, sad man. He found himself pathetic at many times.
"I came to share some news with you." Morgan stated. "Some news I didn't want to share over the phone," he added. Both of them knew very well it was the anniversary of her rape and he hadn't wanted her to have to handle that alone.
"Yeah, you won't believe it!" their other partner from Med Corps Rhys Cordell exclaimed. He was a blonde, blue eyed pretty boy. "What? I don't get a hug?"
"Cameraman!" she exclaimed his nickname and hugged him.
"The Flame Gang is together again," Rhys remarked.
"So what's the news?" she asked.
"I found out I was the future king of a foreign country," he answered dryly. She fell out of Rhys's arms on to the barf that hadn't been cleaned up yet. "I had about the same reaction as that. Except there wasn't that nice of padding under me." He helped her up.
"You've got to be kidding me!" she exclaimed as her Spanish accent came into play. Most of the time she only had the light lilt of it gliding through her words revealing gently of her heritage. Now it overwhelmed the words as it made her sound distressed. Only when she was distressed and upset did her accent came out that heavy.
"I'm not. Okay, sweetheart. Let's get you cleaned up," he reassured. He let his grip on her go as he went to guide her towards the bathroom. She went to walk and she slipped. Of course, this led to falling ungracefully. Morgan bent down to swing her up in his arms and carried her off.
"My shift is over. We can go back to my apartment," she offered. The drive in Morgan's car there was filled with Rhys's chatter about his most recent movie.
Her apartment was beautiful, which was surprising because they were in downtown Rainden. A lot of things had changed since the last time he had been in the town. She kept the white-carpeted place very neat with the exception of her desk that had every paper thrown around it.
"Make yourself at home," Phoenix ordered before she slipped into the bathroom. The two men sat down on the sofa and took a look around at their surroundings. The small kitchen was clean. "I don't use the kitchen very often. I'm sure you remember I'm not a very good cook," she remarked when she caught them staring at it as she came out of the bathroom.
That black hair of hers was wet and she had changed into a cute, pastel blue t-shirt with blue jeans. He wondered how long he had been sitting there thinking without realizing how much time had passed by. "You weren't that bad of a cook. It was just that isn't one of your strengths," Morgan added. She cooked good soup and could make a meal out of table scrapes when she wanted otherwise she couldn't cook at all.
"So, tell me about this future king of a foreign country story. Does it have something to do with your unknown origin?" she asked with a smile. The girl could get information out of him that no one else could. She had been the only one he had told his sad story of being abandoned at a ranch by his birth parents before he was a day old. The man who owned the ranch had taken him in and treated him like the son he had never had. Morgan had still longed for knowing why his parents did that and who he was.
"Well, it was right after last summer when we left Med Corps. I was on my way somewhere." To go see you. He added in his head. Morgan had been on his way to propose to her. "This man walked up and stopped me. He asked me if I was Morgan Campbell and I said yes. He said, 'Well, Morgan. I'm your brother Rafyel Macheti, Prince of Mesodonia.'
'What does that make me?' I asked.
'You're the eldest child. My half-brother. Rightfully the Crown is yours,' he answered.
I laughed. 'Why are you telling me this? You could be the King and I would never known the difference.'
'I don't think it's right to keep the truth from you. There is a woman I want to marry and I can't marry her because the king can't have a commoner wife,' Rafyel answered. So, he invited me to traveled to Mesodonia, meet my father's family, and found out all the details of that I was the result of an affair between a very rich American girl and the king of a small, Mediterranean country."
"The sad thing is you're serious. You're really going to become King of Mesodonia?" she asked.
"If my biological father decides to pass the Crown on to me."
"You don't sound happy about the possibility. Aren't their other children who can take over?"
"There are two brothers Ryan and Reece and one sister Rachel. Rachel is automatically eliminated because she's a girl and they want a male heir. Ryan and Reece are irresponsible. Rafyel couldn't imagine them taking over the country. It's a beautiful place. I can't just abandon a chance to learn about my heritage even though I'd rather be on the ranch I own." He had a wistful look in his eyes like he would have rather been back at the ranch than contemplating being a king.
"Your situation sucks. Badly. You poor thing," Phoenix remarked. "So, you came to me?"
"Well, you're the only friend I have that knew me before pre-royal. Besides that I miss you," Morgan remarked teasingly.
"That's sweet," she murmured.
Her older sister Selene had left home years ago to have a music career. Now she was a famous singer, who made a lot of money and didn't call her little sister very often. So, Phoenix was always ready for some friendly company.
"Morg here is taking me to Mesodonia with him," Rhys added. He was holding his camcorder as per usual he was video recording every moment that passed by. "We're going to have a bit of vacation."
Phoenix tried not to notice the fact that Rhys kicked Morgan under the coffee table. "Yeah. We want you to come, too," Morgan invited. "Would you like to?"
"Yeah. I will call my boss. I could probably manage a month's vacation. When shall be heading out?"
"We haven't decided yet. We think we'll hang out here for awhile."
"Okay. Do you all have a place to stay tonight?" She asked.
"We can get one," Morgan was saying at the same time Rhys was saying, "No."
"You can stay here," Phoenix offered immediately.
Morgan sighed in reluctance. Rhys kicked him again. Phoenix looked between her two friends. Something was going on.
--dancing among the flames--
Author's Note: I appreciate reviews. I try to return the favor of reviewing if you review my story. The nicknames will be explained later on. Ask if anything is confusing.
08.07.08- This chapter was rewritten and edited.