Pride of the Veld

Free Pride of the Veld by LE Franks

Book: Pride of the Veld by LE Franks Read Free Book Online
Authors: LE Franks
Tags: M/M romance
at least three unique sets of rhino tracks, and what looked like a leopard in the mix.
    The water had been stirred into a rich, reddish-brown of African clay by the animals, not worth the time and effort it would take to make potable. Fortunately, it was fed from a nearby water source. Yesterday he’d carefully worked his way up a rocky outcropping, tracking the stream as it disappeared under the gravel and sand and bush, reappearing further away up the side of a rockfall. He found himself digging through the loose rocks until he’d uncovered the source of the stream that fed the mud hole below, then covering it back up to keep the larger animals away.
    Today his job was clearing through the loose shale and boulders, working them out of the wet soil until the area around the spring was free of debris. The flow of water was slow, but pure enough that they could either boil it or add chemicals. It would depend on how long it took to collect.
    This time when he uncovered the spring, he built a mini-reservoir with a piece of plastic sheeting lined with shale. It created a basin deep enough to create a constant flow via rubber tubing into water jugs carefully perched below on a flat rock jutting out of the ground. All Danie had to do was monitor them occasionally to make sure they didn’t shift or overflow. So far it was working like a champ. He couldn’t wait to show this off to Geo and Andrea when they got here.
    Danie glanced at his watch. It had been over twenty minutes since Geo left for camp.
    A gnawing at his gut had Danie abandoning his water project, automatically moving his rifle quietly off his shoulder, sliding the bolt back, and checking to see if the shell was properly chambered before cradling the gun in his hand.
    He paused, slowing his breathing and sending his senses outwards, listening for the insects and birds that he’d become accustomed to while he worked. It was a flock of widow birds, exploding from the bush several hundred feet to his left, tails waving like black flags of surrender, that drew his attention, freezing the blood in his veins. Danie silently disengaged the safety, easing deeper into the grass to investigate.
    He slowly circled around the watering hole. It seemed likely that whatever had caused the commotion would be centered on the only water for miles. The fine hairs on the back of his neck and across his forearms tingled with electricity, his instincts screaming out danger around him. It felt… human: something out of step with the natural order of the bushveld.
    Out here, living and dying was a perfectly choreographed ballet. You couldn’t spend any time here without becoming inured to that reality. Survival of the fittest wasn’t just a slogan. It was necessity for the health of entire ecosystems. Only man’s interference could send things spinning wildly out of control.
    Last summer, Geo had just finished a course in comparative religions and had spent hours describing the various points of each to Danie as they drove across the veld. The Taoists seemed a closer fit to how Danie viewed this land. Or maybe it was Buddhists?
    He reached up to finger the silver disk that Geo had given him, etched and enameled on both sides with a yin and yang, symbolizing balance in all things, before remembering that he wasn’t wearing it. Danie had had the gift mounted inside a circle of platinum before hanging it from a chain. He wore it around his neck every day that Geo was gone. Not that he was sentimental, not really… though he’d tucked it away in a tiny leopardwood box before leaving to pick Geo up at the airport.
    He pushed his feelings for the other man aside, focusing on his surroundings as he worked himself onto a slight rise overlooking the water. Below him on his belly in the mud, was a man sucking in great gulps of cloudy water. He won’t be feeling well soon .
    Danie kept hidden, sighting him through the scope on his rifle to get a better look. Unlike the first moment he saw

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