Kara dropped to her hands and knees, not on the wooden floor of the house, but the lawn outside. How did she get here? She remembered thinking there was no fighting what was about to happen. That the consequences were too great.
Time grows short and I grow impatient with the theatrics. You are mine and you will remember your place, a voice that sent a shiver of terror through her growled in her head.
Her place. Kneeling before the man who called himself emperor, her forehead to the cold metal floor between her hands, waiting to do whatever he commanded, no matter how vile or how painful, without question. To live in fear of that one wrong movement, that one wrong glance or stray thought that would bring her master’s wrath upon her. As if her heart had a mind of its own, the image of Aden’s brilliant blue eyes filled with love for her, the gentle caress of his lips on hers, his hands on her body as he made love to her filled her inner vision.
The pain was sudden, intense, as if every nerve ending in her body fired at once, stealing her breath away, bowing her back, collapsing her onto the grass. Just as suddenly it was gone and she could breathe again. A small reminder of the one demand that neither she or Aden could ever full fill. Break the bond that had been forged between them the moment their eyes met. The trouble with that request was, how do you break something you have no idea how it was forged? It was also a reminder that her thoughts were no longer her own. That neither she, nor Aden, could hide from their master. Not for long.
Lying on her side gasping for air, trying to gather her wits and bearings, Kara slowly opened her eyes to find she was surrounded by red boots. Careful not to make any sudden moves, she rolled onto her back. Surrounding her were twenty figures dressed from head to toe in red leather that molded to their bodies like a second skin so their movement was unhindered during a fight. Over that each wore a red long coat that she knew held many pockets in which to hide weapons along with covering those the warriors wore on their bodies. Mustn’t scare the natives with the alien toys. Although, they all had high-powered rifles trained on her that would render her a burnt husk if she so much as twitched a finger at them.
The emperor’s elite guard were some of the most lethal, ruthless men in the known universe, except when it came to her. They all knew who she was. What she was. That with a single thought she could force them to relive their worst nightmares over and over until they were a quivering pile of flesh curled on the floor. With a twitch of her finger she could bend them to her will, find those few lines that they have yet to cross obliterate them. With a caress, a kiss, she could show them their greatest pleasure, leave them craving more, following her every whim if only for one more touch. Or she could stop their heart. They had all witnessed her power. Mostly against those who defied the emperor in some form, a few of their own. Which ever it was, it had left a good deal of wariness when she walked into a room. Only the emperor leash on the beautiful seductress kept these ruthless men from running screaming in the opposite direction.
After watching Lord Sahen’s reaction the moment his feet touched the ground on the small planet, they feared that Kara too might be…out of sorts, and after being away from her master for so long they were not sure her leash was firmly in place. None of them wanted to chance even the smallest glance from the witch lying quietly on the ground before them. Even with the emperor’s precautions put in place. Because they knew, even as loyal as they were to their master, she did not want to go back to what even some of them understood as her hell.
As tempting as it was to try fight back, to run, Kara knew she was not strong enough to endure the consequences. Colon had seen to that. So until Aden arrived to make sure they did not do anything stupid, like shoot her, she would stay very still and pray there wasn’t anyone in that group who may have forgotten over the last five years what the consequences of physically harming the emperor’s prize possession without his permission entailed. Although, there was always that one who had difficulty remembering the small details.
“My, my, my. Not within our presence for more than a millisecond and you have already earned his wrath,” an all too familiar grating voice sneered. “Have you forgotten your place so quickly, witch?”
And there he was. Closing her eyes, Kara silently counted to ten. She was never sure what it was she did that angered Newell, but for some reason he festered a deep hatred for her. Aden thought the reason Newell went out of his way to torment Kara was because it was the safest way to punish Aden without actually touching him. By reporting every wrong doing, no matter how minute, Newell was only doing his job, was he not? Kara wasn’t so sure Aden’s explanation was the entire reason. There was only so much that Caius was willing to tolerate when his men disrespected either Aden or herself. Newell had managed to keep his treatment within those boundaries when the emperor was nearby, and his men would never report their captain’s cruelty. They either respected him or loved the comfort their position afforded them to jeopardize losing it.
“I have been looking forward to this day for a long time,” Newell continued in the all too familiar sneer in his voice. Squatting down in front of Kara, he said for her ears only. “I do hope my little present was everything I expected. Wouldn’t want you to forget exactly who you are.”
Kara frowned. Why would she forget. The knowledge haunted her waking dreams.
“Especially when I went to all that trouble to make sure the details of where to send it were not discovered by those who would object in its giving. Tell me, how were those long dark nights when your demons came out to play?”
Kara’s eyes shot to the captain’s, realization of what he was talking about first widening them before hatred burned bright. He was the reason Colin had found her, had tortured her every sleeping moment, and some of the waking.
“You bastard,” she hissed, careful not to move. No matter how much she wanted to rip his throat out with her bare hands, the backlash of hurting one of the emperor’s prize guards was not worth the lapse in judgement. But then again, Newell in his need to gloat over his cruelty had forgotten one small detail. What Kara knew, so did the emperor.
“I would rather be a bastard than a backstabbing whore,” he snapped, his condescending tone turning into one of loathing.
“He will kill you for what you have done,” Kara snarled. In her mind she was begging her master to allow her the pleasure of returning Newell’s little present. To force him to live his greatest terror until he lay at her feet, foaming at the mouth, his mind nothing but a screaming pile of mush. Caius acted as if it was of no consequence that she had been tortured night after night when he had promised that no one would touch her, physically or metaphysically, including himself. She had done everything he asked and still he denied her this one small pleasure.
“Who will he believe? His trusted captain or his witch who has lied to him time and time again.”
“I never!” It was a small movement, the need to kill the bastard in front of her greater than her common sense, consequences be damned. When those consequences slammed into her, she regretted her lack of judgement, because not only would she pay for her disobedience. So would Aden.
Before the soldiers could react, pain as if someone had shoved a red-hot poker into her brain seared Kara’s head. Screaming, she clutched her head. The captain stepped back with a curse. Where Kara’s intent may have been murderous, it was not until she acted on it that she was usually punished. It meant that he had come very close to feeling the full wrath of the witch. Watching as she was ordered to unleash her unwholly power on one of the emperor’s enemies, he was in no hurry to be on the receiving end. However, he also had not thought she had the backbone to attack him. It seemed her time away from their master had changed things. The smile at the thought of how delicious it was going to be watching as the emperor taught his two puppets their place was pure vindictive anticipation.
As Kara lay on the ground writhing in pain, Newell was suddenly reminded that their time was running short. They needed to return to the ship, or the two abominations would not be the only ones the emperor would punish.
Looking at one of the soldiers, Newell snapped, “Go. Find out what is taking Lord Sahen so long before we all feel our master’s wrath.” With a sharp snap of his heels and a short bow, the soldier turned smartly around and stalked towards the house. He did not have to go far for the screen door to the screened in porch that led to the house slammed opened and Aden ran out, jumping the four stairs to the ground in his haste.
“You bastard,” Aden snarled, his voice carrying in the quiet.
A shift in metal and suddenly have the guards moved their weapons to Aden in an attempt to guard their captain from the irate sorcerer. With a wave of his hand half of them went flying through the air. More rustling and the rest were suddenly more interested in Aden then Kara, so they did not notice that her pain had suddenly stopped.
Newell had, though. The smile slipped from his face as he started to realize what this meant. It was a fleeting thought because suddenly Aden’s hand was once again wrapped around his neck and he was lifted into the air. What he saw in Aden’s eyes drained the color from his face, for those startling blue eyes bled black.
“Did you think you could hide your betrayal from us?” Aden snarled, but it wasn’t his voice. Not truly. Laced within was another more frightening voice. One that the captain truly feared.
“I was only following your orders. That she was to be kept weak, ready for your return,” the captain wheezed anxiously.
“I told you no such thing,” the emperor hissed. “She was to be left alone, untouched. You have betrayed me for the last time.”
If there had been color left in Newell’s face it would have disappeared along with his arrogance. He had thought he had been careful, kept his treatment towards Kara a secret or that the emperor had silently approved of it. He had been wrong.
“Master,” he gasped weakly still struggling with Aden’s hand on his throat. Very slowly Aden pulled him closer until Newell’s vision blurred.
“I should feed you to them,” Caius sneered.
“No!” Newell squeaked struggling harder.
“Kill him.” There was no inflection in Caius’s tone. He had given an order no different then if he was ordering someone to close a door, or to leave the room because he was done with them.
Aden’s eyes bled back to blue and the impassive face turned into a smile that was happy anticipation. “With pleasure,” he sneered. When he looked down at Kara, that expression soften just a bit. “Kara?” That one word asked many things. Was she willing? Did she want the pleasure of helping Aden kill the man he held? The smile she awarded him answered and he lowered Newell so she could reach his ankle. Using their power together was intoxicating. Touch made the experience so much…more.
There was a commotion in the distance. Someone yelling her name, begging her to stop, but Kara did not hear. Her attention was all for the struggling man above her and the sorcerer who held him.
The moment Kara wrapped her hand around Newell’s ankle he still. Everything, everyone around them held their breath, both in anticipation and fear. Together they released their power, and it felt so good. That was the seduction of this amount of power. That when released completely it washed through her, through Aden, bringing them closer, feeding the unrelenting pull between them, easing the constant ache. His power hot, hers cool. Together soothing as it was invigorating.
As their poured into the captain she thought of how good it felt to finally let go, to be able to relax and breath without the fear of repercussions. It was seductive, that feeling of freedom. Of having no misgivings of what she was doing, of having her power fill her up, spill out to those around her to cause pain, suffering. Caius had taught her that there was a small part of her that like giving others pain. That liked showing them their deepest fears, their nightmares, leaving them huddled on the ground unable to think or speak. It was a part of her she kept securely locked in the deepest part of her mind, until times like this one.
Newell had caused her and Aden so much agony over the years, that she felt no regret for what she was doing to him now. Bringing his deepest fear to the forefront of his mind and making it real. Newell’s father had been an abusive bastard to both him and his mother. He would have parties where he would offer up Newell’s mother to his friends to rape. Sort of a part favor, or the nights entertainment. When Newell was old enough, he too became part of the entertainment. It took seeing his mother’s lifeless eyes after a particular brutal night to snap Newell’s fragile sanity. The first person he killed was his father. A slow torturous death that encompassed years of his mother’s abuse. After that he meticulously sought out those that had been his father’s friends, that had abused them both and killed them all. It was when his mission was done and he was huddled in a dark alley on some backward filthy den of a planet contemplating his own death to stop the nightmares that Caius had found him and took him in. He taught him to take that rage, those nightmares, and channel it into his fighting skills becoming the ruthless captain of the elite guard. Fearing no one, not even the emperor’s wrath. Today he would learn his how his arrogance was misplaced. No one was above the emperor’s law.
Time seemed to be suspended as they tortured the man they held. Such small touches, such delicious screams of terror.
Stop playing and end it, Caius voice growled in their heads. Along with that command there was a short slap of intense pain. A reminder that the freedom they were feeling at that moment was not real. That the chains of their imprisonment were still firmly in place.
Aden closed his eyes, gritting his teeth riding out the sudden pain. Kara’s eyes widened as she gasped, her body convulsing. They almost let go of the captain, their power receding giving him a small reprieve. Just as the thought that maybe he would live through his torment flashed through his eyes, Kara and Aden shoved their power into him. His eyes widened then just as quickly went dead, his body limp in Aden’s hand. With a sound of disgust, Aden threw the corpse on the ground. Kara let go, her eyes closed as she pulled her power back into her, putting it back in the box where she kept it carefully locked away.
When she opened her eyes, Aden was standing over her, looking worriedly down at her. But it was not him that small part of her that never shut down sought. It was the one whose horror and revulsion beat at what he had just witnessed that she sought.
Brynn stood, his eyes wide as he stared at her as if he did not know her. Two of the elite guards were standing in front of him holding him as if they were keeping him from going to her, but he stood utterly still, giving them no resistance. The secret was out. The woman he had fallen in love with was someone, something, he did not recognize. Not anymore, and by the look on his face at that moment, he did not want anything to do with her.
Kara did not have time to mourn the loss of his respect, his love before Caius reminded her that her life was not her own. The air around her grew warm, caressing her skin as a lover would. Touching intimate places all at once, overloading Kara’s senses, closing her eyes with obvious pleasure. It was both a godsend and a curse that the touch of anyone in a sexual manner sent Kara’s lust into overdrive. Kara had never been a causal sex person. Her upbringing had taught her that sex should be something special, something for someone she loved. It did not mean once she gave into that lust that it was not a heady overwhelming thing she craved as one would crave a favorite food. That over the years she had realized that her desires had ran towards the rough. Pain mixed with sex just did it for her. It was that small discover that had saved her time and time again when Colon had used rape to try and break her. Then she would give in to her desires in order to survive the brutality he would demand. Crave it because any pain was better than the pain of helplessness she had felt, still felt.
The wind gained in strength and lifted her into the air, her legs and arms hanging limp as her long auburn hair whipped around her face. The magic envelope her, caress her body with a light touch that was unusual for the one who wielded it. Rarely was there gentleness in anything Caius did to her. What had changed?
When the wind died down and her feet touched the firm earth, the grass tickling her bare feet, Kara opened her eyes to find herself now standing in what was left of the elite guard pointing their guns at her. Although they had taken a step back, their eyes a little wider as that rare fear showed through. The others were coming too with groans and curses of pain. When they saw her standing in her new attire, felt the unnaturalness of the magic in the air, they quickly retrieved their weapons and assumed their positions around her.
When her eyes opened, once more locking with Brynn’s, the look of outrage on his face lessen the sting of his earlier horror a little. She did not have to look down to see what she now wore. The tightness of the straps, the now cool air that was outside that caressed her skin in places it should not be able to told her enough.
A two inch thick strip of red leather circled her neck like a choker with two thin strips that attached on each side wound around under her arms, crossing at her shoulder blades to come around in an intricate design that managed cover those intimate areas and hold her chest firmly in place while leaving most of her pale skin visible to everyone around her. The thin strips continued around her ribcage to tie at the middle of her back. The symbolism of the leather straps was not lost on Kara. A sign of her bondage.
Resting low on her hips was a belt about three inches wide covered with precious red and black jewels along with delicate links of gold that arced downwards over ten pieces of sheer red material that fell down the front and back of her legs, leaving her hips and the side of her legs bare. The material was attached to the low belt by clips and draped to her bare feet like scarves, bunching just enough that the material did not look sheer, but one wrong move would show exactly how exposed Kara really was to those who dared to look at her. One small tug and all would be laid bare. She had other outfits that Caius had given her, all but a few revealing, teasing, testing those who swore loyalty to him, making examples of those who failed, and they knew when they failed because Kara would respond to those lustful, sinful thoughts. This particular outfit was the most daring and was usually only worn when she was in the emperor’s inner-sanctum. There was a cape with a deep cowl that matched for when she ventured outside it.
Now she wore the revealing outside, in front of those who feared her, despised her for what she was, lusted after her, completely exposed. Her hair unbound hair hung loosely around her face, hiding the terror that was slowly consuming her. Why this show of dominance? Why risk exposing her family, her children, to the horror that was her life outside the once safe haven? Could this be really happening? Was she going back to her hell, to him?
Kara’s manner of dress left the guards with a small dilemma. She was the emperor’s witch woman, his propriety, and he guarded his property zealously. To look upon her, especially dressed the way she was, was to ask for torture not unlike their now dead captain. To touch her without express permission from the emperor was instant death. When she walked into a room all eyes were to be averted until she took her place on the left side of her master’s throne wearing a voluminous silk cloak with a deep cowl to hide her face in shadows. Even then, when they looked up at the emperor they had to be very careful of where their gazes landed, and where their thoughts strayed. They had all heard the stories of what her former master had forced on her. How she had come to…crave her punishments. To fantasize about what they would do to the beautiful scantily clad woman if they had a moment alone with her was just as bad as touching her. It was why during certain important delicate negotiations Kara would be uncovered, her dress, while not this revealing, sheer enough to cause a gaze or two, a lustful thought or three. The emperor seemed to enjoy the distraction she imposed, watching his enemies struggle to keep their eyes off her or their straying thoughts.
So the dilemma of the guards surrounding her were having at this particular moment was they needed to keep their guns trained on her to keep her from escaping, and that meant they needed to look at her. At least until the last piece and most important part of her wardrobe was firmly attached around her slender, flawless neck.
There must have someone new, someone who did not understand the rules or the consequences. Images appeared inside Kara’s head. Of her shoved against a nearby tree, a man’s hand on one of her breasts kneading as his mouth sucked on the other. The sensation of the bark grinding into her back as he plunged inside her. Forbidden thoughts. Deadly thoughts.
Very slowly, her hazel eyes darkening to an emerald green, they sought out the intruder. When she found him, he looked like all the rest of the men, except for his eyes. His dark brown eyes filled with a heat she was all too familiar with. She took one step towards him and shouts of “Don’t move!” “Stop!” rang out. Kara ignored them, oblivious to the sudden tension surrounding her. Only the male before her, the only one that had not said a word and eyes were now wide with fear, drew her attention. Too late he understood what everyone had warned him about. Too late he realized his fatal mistake.
“Kara,” Aden’s cool deep tone breathed through the air. That one word, her name, held a warning. She was not to go near the man. But the recent unrestrained release of her powers suddenly made it difficult to show restraint against this cursed side of herself. It was another who stopped her. Not because he held more sway over her, but because if he was here, then so were her children, and the last thing she wanted to show her children was how far into the abyss she had truly fallen.
“Stop,” Brynn commanded.
Kara froze. Closing her eyes, she forced herself to think past the lust, past the desire and to what would happen if she gave into that desire. It was a slippery slope into the abyss that was her deepest darkest desires where her hunger ran unrestrained, but the thought of her children witnessing their mother giving into them was enough to help her hold on to her sanity, if only by her fingernails.
There was a swish of cloth, a grunt of pain, a sharp snap and then a soft thump, and still Kara kept her eyes closed. Someone stood before her. Aden. His scent hit her like a battering ram, warm and inviting, safe. She swayed on her feet, the need to reach out to him overwhelming. Still she kept her eyes closed. If she did not see, then she could control the hungers. That was the theory she was going for. It had worked in the past. She prayed it would still hold true.
“Get away from her,” Brynn snarled. More rustling of metal and cloth, some curse words. “Let me through!” he demanded. The guard must still be keeping him from entering the circle. This was good. He needed to go back into the house where it was safe. Back to their children.
“Go back into the house, Brynn. There is nothing you can do to stop me from taking her,” Aden snapped moving away from Kara. The sudden loss of his warmth shuddered through her body. Reaching up, she rubbed her arms to chase away the chill.
“You are not taking her,” Brynn growled. “She does not belong to you. She belongs with her family. She belongs with me.”
Those words washed over Kara, soothing her fear that she had done irrevocable damage by showing Brynn what she was truly capable of. The side of her she thought evil.
“What the hell is she wearing,” Uncle Cas snapped with a fair amount of disgust.
Suddenly Kara wore cape, the deep cowl covering her head, shielding her face from the others. The twenty men with trained guns on her visible relaxed, their delicate dilemma of where their eyes should be trained solved.
“She belongs to neither of us,” Aden answered Brynn’s question, ignoring Cas’s.
There was so much sadness, so much loss, in those three words that Kara opened her eyes and turned towards Aden, wanting to soothe his pain.
“Aden?” she whispered.
“Stay where you are, Kara,” Aden commanded glancing at her. The sharpness of his voice stilled her, a frown on her face. He could not look into those eyes knowing what he knew and lie to her by telling her he was alright, because he was far from alright. He was about to lose her, forever.
For as long as Aden could remember, Caius had been obsessed with an ancient set of scrolls that told of a prophecy that dated back to the beginning of time. In it, it spoke of three deities, one female and two males, who had been battling for centuries for the fate of the universe. That every two thousand years they came together as mortal beings to make a choice which would determine which path the universe would take for the next two thousand years. Whether it would be in peace and harmony, in total chaos, or, if they came to a standstill, somewhere in between. Then their mortal bodies would die and the process would begin again.
During their mortal life, they found mortal spouses, their preordain soulmates, to have off-spring and guarantee that in two-thousand years they could be reborn again. Caius was convinced that the female deity the scrolls spoke of was Kara. Just recently Caius had found a man on a planet in another solar system light years away called Krynn that he was convinced was one of the males. According to the scrolls, once they looked into each other’s eyes, their mortal life would fade into the distance as their memories of who they were, what their mission was and all the memories they shared from the beginning of time to that point would surface. All else would be forgotten, including Kara’s memories of how she felt about Aden. This Tanis would rip apart the bond between Aden and Kara, making her his own. Then Caius would use that bond to control them, because what one felt so did the other. He would use the fact that to be separated great distances would cause them pain and weakened them, so he could bend them to his will.
The Gods only know the agony Aden had suffered without her. But for now, Aden had to follow his very strict orders. Orders he hated almost as much as love the beautiful creature standing still before him.
Grinding his teeth at the impossibility of the situation, he turned back to Brynn. “Take them back to the house,” he ordered the guards who had stopped Brynn from entering the circle. “Make sure they do not interfere again.” He turned his ice blue eyes to the nearest guard so he was sure he had the man’s attention. “Do not harm them in anyway. Do you understand me?” enunciating each word carefully.
“Yes, sir,” the guard answered with a short nod. Turning to Brynn, he said, “Make this easy for you and for her and come quietly.”
Startled by the quiet and calm request, Brynn allowed himself to be escorted towards the house. That was until Kara screamed.
Dismissing the group, Aden turned to face Kara. She stood where she had stopped, quietly watching, careful to keep her thoughts to herself as he was careful to keep his to himself. The emperor had already shown he was listening. No need to anger him further.
I grow tired of these games. Bring her too me as I asked, or I will come to take her myself!
Aden paled. We will be there shortly.
See that you are.
“Turn around,” he ordered gently as he walked up to Kara. After a moment of hesitation, she did as he asked. “Lower your hood.” This time the hesitation was longer. Slowly she reached her hand up and removed the hood from her head, resting her hands once more at her sides.
Resting his hands on her shoulders, Aden felt the fine tremor of fear coursing through Kara’s body. Not for the first time, Aden desperately wished he could take her somewhere where they would be safe. Somewhere they could lose themselves in the tangled heat of their bodies. Where he could grow drunk with the scent of her skin every second she was in his arms. The sharing of their power along with this small touch was already soothing the ache in his soul he had been forced to live with these last six years. Closing his eyes, he slid his hand down her arms, pulling her back against his body, his grip tightening, the unwanted thought that he would lose her after this filling him with dread. But there was no place they could run to. No place to hide. Not from their master, and once caught…. Aden bowed his head until his nose rested in her hair, his grip tightening on her arms. For the first time in five years he finally felt whole. He did not want to lose that. He could not lose her.
“I’m so sorry,” he breathed in her hair.
Don’t torture yourself over something neither of us can escape, her voice drifted lovingly through his mind, her essence caressing his, intertwining.
Aden silently moaned in pleasure. It had been so long since he felt her presence in his mind, in his soul. It was taking every ounce of willpower not to turn her around and kiss her senseless. Something that would insure they both suffered once they returned to the ship. His master had made it abundantly clear he was to forget about Kara. Forget his love for her. As if he could. Nothing could wipe the connection they shared. At least he prayed that was true.
I can’t just sit by while he rips you away from me. Not again.
You will not lose me, Kara promised leaning back against him. I won’t allow it.
How can you….
Power lashed at them, stealing their breath. A growl so menacing it rose goosebumps on their skin shivered over them. The message was clear. Caius’s patience was at an end.
Feeling the air change with the emperor’s anger, the guards shifted around them, tightening their grips on their weapons, setting their feet firmly apart, reading themselves for the battle they were sure was about to ensue. Glaring at them to be still, Aden raised the necklace in front of Kara so she could see it.
When Kara saw the necklace in his hand, her knees gave out from under her and she sagged against him with a small whimper. Sliding his arm around her waist, holding her close to him, the constant pain of their separation lessened a fraction more. Closing his eyes, knowing that he was being carefully watched not only from the soldiers but from far above, Aden slowly loosened his grip around Kara’s waist until he was sure she could stand on her own.
No, Kara begged. Aden, please! Don’t do this! I won’t….
Shhh, he soothed. You know I have no choice. He felt Kara tremble in fear under his touch.
“He promised,” she whispered.
“I think there will be many broken promises before he is through with us,” Aden whispered unhappily. Closing his eyes against his own pain for what he was about to do, Aden gently placed the necklace around Kara’s neck. Just before he snapped it into place, he whispered, “I am sorry.”
The moment the clasped clicked into place, pain exploded in Kara’s head and ran down her spine permeating every bone, every muscle, every cell. She screamed in agony before collapsing into Aden’s arms, unconscious. Aden reached down picking up her legs with his other arm cradling her to his chest.
“What have you done to her?” Brynn yelled once again fighting with the guards who were escorting him back to the house.
Now that the threat was neutralized, the guards around Aden relaxed their stances, the weapons lowering. A few more went to help those push the Llassar’s towards the house.
“As I was ordered,” Aden answered his face the mask he wore when dealing with people he was about to destroy. But he would not destroy this family. It would kill Kara, he thought. Then he breathed through Brynn’s mind so no one else would hear. When it is time, I will return and show you why Kara is no longer yours. Until then.
There was a blinding flash. When the spots left their eyes and they could see again, the Llassars stood in their empty front yard.
* * *
Chris glared at the regal woman standing in front of him.
“You could have stopped him,” he accused.
“You know I cannot interfere,” the woman who stood beside him in the oak grove replied haughtily as she rearranged the white shawl she wore. It matched the white dress she was wearing. The material draped around her perfect body leaving one arm bare. There was a gold clasp of some design that Chris did not recognize, and really did not care to at the moment, at the shoulder. Her auburn hair was piled high on her head, a gold circlet wrapping around the thick tresses, holding them in place. The regal air that permeated the air around her did nothing to clear that rage that tried to consume Chris. A goddess down to her very core. Selene, the queen of the gods.
“It’s because of your interference that we are here,” he snapped. Ignoring her narrowing eyes, he continued as if the imposing woman did not scare the bejesus out of him. Truth was, it didn’t. He was too pissed to care. “You need to fix what you fucked up.”
“Watch your tone, boy,” the woman snapped ominously. “I do not have to tolerate your insignificant presence.”
Chris snorted. “Yes, you do. It’s because of you I have the knowledge of what you have done, what everyone in this mess from the beginning of time has done. I am fifteen years old! I should be out chasing girls, obsessing over cars, but no. Here I am trying to clean up your mess, Grandmother.” he sneered the last word as if it was distasteful in his mouth.
“You grow too bold in your young age, boy,” the woman snarled. “We don’t need you. We have your sister.”
“You will stay away from Jamie,” Chris snarled. “I know the rules. I know the prophecy, and you have royally screwed it up with your meddling.”
“What is about to happen must happen,” the woman retorted regally.
“What is about to happen should not be happening! He should have not been able escape!” Chris yelled in frustration.
Selene sighed, her shoulders sagging as she leaned against one of the five massive oaks that surrounded them. There was a reason Caius had put Kara here. This was a place of great magic, and with it she would survive the separation from one of her mates in relative peace. Aden had not the luxury. His pain had radiated throughout them all, making those who usually were benevolent and slow to temper, like herself, irritable and quick to lash out. It was part of their world. Every living thing connected through an interactive web of life and death. Some more, like Aden and Kara, than others, such as herself and this boy, her great-great-great-great – it really hurt to think how many eons separated her and her current grandson.
“I am tired,” Chris sighed. “Mother is tired, the universe is tired, the powers that have been playing this game far longer than the existence of this universe are tired.” He looked up at his grandmother, his eyes showing her that exhausting that he was speaking of. Not just his, but the very fabric of time itself. Chris continued, allowing that weariness to fill his voice, “This was not what I was created for. All this knowledge, this power, was not meant for me. It was meant for them,” he pointed at the now empty yard where his mother and Aden once stood. He then pointed to Selene. “It should have been yours, but you let him in and disrupted everything. You cannot allow it to continue. This time must be the last or it will all be destroyed. There will be no do overs, no more chances for redemption.”
Selene paled, her hand going to her heart as it stuttered in her chest. Deep inside her soul she knew that Chris did not mean no more chances in this particular universe. There would be no more chances…ever. A flash of a room with shelves stacked ceiling to floor, heavy with white globes filled her mind. Suddenly the shelves gave way from the weight and the globes crashed down, shattering when they impacted with the floor. Voices, so many voices, screaming for help, for one last chance, one last breath filled her head. Screaming with them, she covered her ears with her hands, collapsing to her knees. Just as suddenly the image, the screams were gone, leaving Selene disoriented.
“You have this one chance to make it right. Don’t let us down. Don’t let them down or they will end it,” Chris warned as he looked solemnly down at her.
Swallowing hard, Selene nodded she understood.
Chris looked back at the house. In his head he could feel his father panicking because he could not find his son. “I must go back to the house.” He looked down at Selene. “Fix this.”
Turning on his heel, Chris headed back to the house, leaving Selene alone and for the first time in a very long time, afraid.
Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes
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