**TUESDAY TEASER - BOUND BY LOVE rest of Chapter 4**
Time for more Harvest Young! This has not been beta read or edited.
A unit hour had passed, and there was no trace of Hamza. He’d taken a quick shower and changed clothes. Neo paced. That expression in Hamza’s eyes when Keyno pledged to him worried Neo. The absolute loathing wasn’t something he was accustomed to seeing.
Needing something to do, Neo opened the door to Jolak’s suite. Jolak still napped, so he shut it quietly. His stomach rumbled, so Neo wandered to the cramped kitchen area and ordered food. Standing at the modest dining table, he absently ate. Had Hamza eaten? He wished Hamza was here so he could ask, dammit.
There were a number of things he wanted to ask… like what was going above ground? There was so much damage, so many injuries, and his skills were needed, but he was, doing nothing. Okay, he was here because Hamza asked him to be, so he was doing something, but…. Hell, he didn’t know how Dayo and Szin or their young were. How were Raiden, Takeo, Ti, and Colt handling this? What of Dale and Chad? Or, shit, Kia and Laken? Outside of what Keyno had told them, Neo knew nothing. He hadn’t even seen his own dabba and dad.
He finished eating and collapsed on the couch. “Fuck,” he muttered to himself. “What am I doing? This isn’t about me. I didn’t lose my dabba. My whole life wasn’t just upended. I didn’t just become king because my dabba was murdered in cold blood.” He scrubbed his hands over his face, regretting that moment of selfishness. But dammit, someone could’ve at least commed him.
He barely finished that thought when a low tone echoed throughout the area. Elated that maybe he’d be told something finally, Neo jumped up, rushed to the door, and stabbed the wall plate granting permission for entrance. It slid open, and Neo’s breath caught. Low lighting from the hallway illuminated auburn hair threaded through with gray now and soft, big blue eyes bracketed by crow’s feet.
“Dad!” Relief flooded Neo. “Oh gods, dad!”
John wrapped his arms around Neo’s waist and hugged him. “My….” John’s voice broke. “My young.”
John hugged him as hard as he could, making Neo grunt. He closed his eyes, taking a moment to just… let go. His damn eyes started doing that burning thing again, and dammit, he was about to lose it there in front of the guards.
“Neo?” John rubbed his palms up and down Neo’s back. “I’m sorry. I wanted to be here sooner, but I also wanted to find—”
“Your dad’s turning red in the face, my friend. You, ah, might want to loosen your grip a bit.”
“Laken!” Neo gasped, opening his eyes. Giving his dad one last hug, he let go and reached for Laken. “How did I miss you standing there?” He demanded, pulling Laken into his embrace.
“I honestly have no idea. It’s not like you can’t hear when I’m around.” Laken smirked, the bells chiming sweetly in his hair as Neo lifted Laken off his feet.
“I am so glad to see you,” Neo whispered as he lowered Laken back to his feet. Neo’s heart yearned for Hamza, but if his mate couldn’t be here, then Laken was the next best thing. He truly was Neo’s best friend. More chimes caught his attention, and Neo glanced past Laken. Kia stood next to John. “Hey, Kai. Sorry, I seemed to have missed you too. I’m glad you’re here, though.”
“We came as fast as we could.” Kia glanced at the guards. “Shall we go inside?”
“Huh? Oh, sure. Okay.” Blushing, Neo squeezed Laken once more then ended the hug. “Sorry, I’m a little scattered.” Neo waved his hand, and the entrance reopened. “Please, come inside. Would anybody like a drink?”
“No thanks. We’ve all eaten,” John replied, perching on the couch. Kia sat next to him. Neo grabbed two of the kitchen chairs and carried them to the living area.
Laken settled onto one. “How are you doing?”
“I’m fine.” Neo waved the question away. “Have either of you heard anything? Dad? Is dabba okay?”
“He is, I promise,” John said. “Things are in chaos, but we’re all okay.”
“More like controlled chaos,” Laken added. “There isn’t as much panic now, and a plan has been implemented.”
“I’ve been told there’s an emergency command center—I guess you’d call it—set up below ground for now. Szin and Dayo, along with Raiden and Takeo, are still in the temporary birthing suite,” John said. “They’ve been informed about what occurred. They asked about you and Hamza.”
“I’ll try to go see them as soon as I can.” Neo rolled his neck, trying to make it pop. Maybe then the tension would ease. Hoping up, he started pacing. His skin was too tight and, and….. “Gods. I want this day to be over.”
John tilted his head as he stared at Neo. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Okay, no. I’m not fine.” Neo collapsed into the other chair. That tilt of the head got him every time. He rested his elbows on his knees and buried his head in his hands. “Nothing is fine. Hamza lost his dabba. He’s grieving and pissed beyond anything I’ve ever seen, and he’s worried about Jolak, and… and now he’s king, and he has to deal with the fallout from these multiple attacks, holy shit, dad, the things I saw on the way here were the stuff of nightmares, and I have no idea where he is or what he’s doing, and—”
At the soft voice, Neo’s head jerked up. Jolak stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame. “Where’s… where’s Duran?” Jolak scrubbed at his face. “Is he…. I need to see him.”
“He’s ready now,” John said. “I came to tell Neo, and I wanted to check on you. Kia wanted to come as well.”
Jolak nodded. “Thank you both. I need my friends around me right now. Where’s Hamza? Why aren’t you with him, Neo?”
“He….” Neo had no idea what to say. “He asked me remain here with you. He, um, also wanted to spend some time with Duran. Alone.”
Jolak frowned. “Always so independent, that young of mine. Being alone is not what he needs right now.”
If only Jolak knew. Neo didn’t say anything, though. Now was not the time.
“I want to see my mate. I also need to see my young.” Jolak’s posture straightened. “Comm Hamza and tell him to make the necessary arrangements, please. Also alert the guards that we’ll be leaving momentarily. Give me ten unit minutes to wash my face and to get awake, then I’ll be ready.”
Neo watched as Jolak strode back his room. This was the Jolak he grew up with: respectful, but firm. Jolak asked nicely first, and if that didn’t work, then he’d take matters into his own hands. In other words, Jolak would damn well walk the halls until he found his mate, if necessary.
Neo commed Hamza, sincerely hoping he answered. Otherwise, matters might get a bit intense.