Chris paced restlessly across the small meadow, his route mapped out by the flattened grass and wildflowers. He knew he shouldn’t have sent out a call, but it had been two weeks since his mother had returned and there had been no sign of her coming to find them. So Chris took it upon himself to go to her, or at least meet her halfway. It was why he chose this meadow. Surrounded by tall trees, it was open, sunny and place almost directly in between their two farms. He had come here before, hoping just his presence might bring her, but that had not worked.
The moment Kara had stepped through the wards they knew she was home. It was like a weight they had not known they were carrying was suddenly lifted and they could breathe easier. Because she was so young when their mother had been taken from them, Jesse wasn’t as affected, but his father. It had been a long time since Chris had seen his father smile without his eyes remaining haunted, or even laugh out loud. It seemed that even though his father knew she probably would not remember him, or even want to see him, the fact that she was home was enough. Yet as time pushed on and there was no word, or even a glimpse of her, that smile started to fade. Still, they waited patiently.
Yesterday he had found his father staring in the direction of his mother’s house with such loss that Chris’s patience had ran out. Not only did he want to watch the light fade from his father’s eyes, he had so many questions bouncing around his head that needed answers, and the only way he would get them answered was to ask his mother. He also had to warn her of the danger before it was too late. Hopefully she would come soon because he was running out time before his father realized where he had gone. The downside of being magical is the link between parent and children. It was really hard to get away with anything when the parent could hear your every thought.
One more turn across the field and still no sign of his mother. A sudden thought brought him to a halt, anxiety shooting through him. She had to be at least six or seven months pregnant, and he had no idea how the pregnancy was progressing. Since she was carrying something that was part demon, there was a good chance that the baby might take more from her than a normal baby. His eyes snapped to the direction of her house. Maybe this was too far. Maybe he should have chosen something closer. Closing his eyes, he groaned, slapping his forehead with his hand at his stupidity. Gods, he was such an idiot. That was why she had never come to them, and now that he had pestered her into finally meeting him it must be taxing what little strength she had left.
“I have to tell her not to come,” he said turning to move back into the center of the meadow. A figure standing just inside the tree line at the far side froze him. Too far into the shadows, Chris could not make much out, just that whoever it was was of medium height and of slender build. Yet, there was something about it, something familiar. When the figure took a step into the sunlight, Chris forgot to breathe. Never had he seen such a beautiful creature, nor had he felt such power. It overwhelmed him, brought him to his knees, demanded to be worshiped for the goddess she was. Long auburn hair drifted in the breeze around her, hints of red, orange and browns glinting in the sun. With a blink of her extraordinary hazel eyes, the power receded, and Chris could once again think clearly. That was when he noticed the swell of her belly.
“Mother?” he whispered.
“Hello, Chris,” she greeted, the warmth of her voice reaching her smile and eyes.
“You remember me?” he asked.
“Of course I do,” Kara cried, her hand going to her chest. “You are my child. I could never forget you or your sister. You are a part of me.”
“When you didn’t come…. We were told….” Chris swallowed this heart back down where it belonged, pushed all the questions and thoughts into the background so he could think coherently and began again. “I wasn’t sure you would remember. The prophecy,” he stopped when her smile turned into a scowl.
“Prophecies do not always speak clearly. They are riddles that we must muddle through and pray we come out on the other side relatively whole,” she spat. “Do not treat them as destiny set in stone.”
Apparently it was a sore subject with her, so Chris vowed he would not to bring it up. At least not today. “I’m sorry,” he apologized, his voice careful. Why was he so afraid of her? This was his mother. She would not harm him, would she? Still, there was a difference about her. A regal bearing that she never held before. The feel of age that was ancient, powerful, timeless, and tired. So very tired. The power he had felt a moment before spiked then just as quickly diminished. Grimacing, Kara placed her hand on her stomach, her eyes uncertain. A fleeting glimpse of the female he remembered peeked through the façade of the immortal giving him the courage to push to his feet and take a step forward, asking, “Is something wrong with the baby?”
“He is not happy that I came. He is,” her frowned deepened as she tried to find the right word. When she did, her eyes widen in surprise. “He is jealous of you. He feels your connection to me and how I feel about you. My love for you and he does not like it, so he is trying to chase you away by showing his own power.”
Chris smiled, the thought that she still loved him enough to voice it out loud warming him to his toes. “Why would he be afraid of me. He is, after all, my little brother.”
Kara blinked at him, the thought that her grown son and unborn child were siblings something she had never really given thought to. It wasn’t a pleasant thought since she knew this child was born of evil. The young man before her was not evil. Powerful, but far from evil.
“Biologically that may be true, but this baby is not your brother,” Kara corrected sadly. “He is our doom.”
“I don’t understand,” Chris frowned walking forward, stopping a few feet from his mother.
“It is hard to explain in the short time we have today, and I do not wish to waste it on something that is out of our hands,” Kara answered her smile returning. “You have questions for me.”
Blinking at the sudden change of subject, Chris supposed it shouldn’t have been a shock that she knew what he had wanted. She was his mother, after all, and there was that pesky link.
His face screwed up in a grimace, making Kara chuckle, Chris said in a voice that spoke of frustration and disgust at the same time, “About that. I have tried to figure out how to block Dad from hearing my thoughts, but he always seems to be able to break through my defenses. How do I keep him,” he looked at Kara’s amuse face and lost his thread of frustration, his smile ruining his indignation, “you from hearing everything I’m thinking? A man has to have some privacy.”
“A man,” Kara sighed, moving to close the distance between them. Reaching up she cupped her son’s face, her expression soft and full of love. “I have missed so much. I still see you as the thirteen year old boy that so valiantly stood between his father and a powerful sorcerer, defending his mother’s honor. Or what there was of it,” she murmured the last, her eyes downcast.
“I knew Aden would never hurt you, and if he had a choice he would have left you with us,” Chris said, putting his hand over hers on his cheek, bringing her eyes back to his. “I also knew the price if you did not obey Malphas. It was a price he did not understand, and one neither of us wanted to pay. As much as I hated it, I had to make him understand that we had to let you go.”
Kara’s smile returned along with a swelling of pride. “You were always so brave. Even as a small child, you would face whatever the universe threw at you with your head held high.” The sadness returned. “I wish I had been there to help you through those times. No child should have had to go through what you did or carry the knowledge you do. For that I am truly sorry.”
“It is not your fault, Mother,” Chris said, tears in his eyes. Pushing his doubts away, he moved closer, wrapping his arms around her, holding her gently. After a moment of hesitation, Kara wrapped her arms around him, holding him fiercely. “I have never blamed you for what you had no control over,” he whispered. “And I have never stopped loving you. None of us have.” Kara stiffened in his arms. Frowning he took a step back. “What’s wrong?”
“Because of who I am, I have hurt your father deeply. I cannot believe that he can still love me after all I have done.”
“Then you believe wrong,” a deep familiar voice said into the silence.
Chris did not miss the flash of fear as his mother’s eyes shot to the man standing behind them. Closing his eyes and saying a little prayer that this would not all go sideways, Chris turned, stepping to one side of his mother, to see his father standing just inside the clearing. The uncertainty, the longing, in Brynn’s eyes brought tears to Chris’s. How do you make this reunion that should have never happen any easier, or less awkward? When Brynn’s eyes moved downwards, Chris knew the moment they saw his mother’s extended belly because they hardened into something he had never seen on his father’s face. Pure rage. Again the power spiked, but it had a different feel to it. Fear.
Placing her hands protectively over her belly, Kara whispered, “Brynn.”
Brynn’s eyes shot back to hers, his expression once again uncertain as he took a step towards her. The silence deepened until all that was heard was the song of a nearby bird.
“I…,” Kara began, her voice as uncertain as his expression. How do you greet your husband that you should not have remembered when one of your immortal soulmates was only a short distance away waiting for you and you carried the child of the other? Brynn answered her by striding across the meadow, taking her head in his hands and kissing her as if she were the air he needed to breathe.
The memories, the love of this male surge forward and with a small groan, Kara wrapped her arms as best as she could around him and kissed him back. Again the power surged as the baby inside Kara tried to break through the jumble of memories and emotions swirling around Kara and Brynn and break them apart. It wasn’t until Chris, who was stand a few steps back with his hand clasped behind him rocking back and forth from the balls of his feet to his heels, cleared his throat and said awkwardly, “Uh, guys. Son standing right here beginning to become nauseous because his parents are making out in front of him.” Nothing. “Yoo-hoo!” he called waving his hand close to their faces. “Hello? Going to puke here.”
Kara and Brynn broke apart laughing.
“Oh, thank the gods,” Chris sighed dramatically. “Thought I was going to hurl there for a moment. Seriously, get a room!”
Resting his forehead on Kara’s, his arms sliding down around her, Brynn smiled. “Not a bad idea,” he agreed huskily.
The power surged and the baby kicked, hard, making both Kara and Brynn wince. It also brought them back to the reality that there would be no room, no reunion. That there was not eons of time and distance between them. Brought home that Kara no long was Brynn’s alone. Stepping back enough that he could no longer hold her, Brynn’s eyes once again went to her belly.
“How long?” he asked, his voice flat, emotionless.
Her hand once again on her belly, Kara frowned. The warmth and happiness she felt a moment ago in Brynn’s arms vanishing as realty returned. “A month. Maybe less,” she answered.
Brynn turned away, one hand over his mouth as he tried to digest that his wife was pregnant with another’s child. A fact he knew but was driven painfully home now that he saw the proof in person.
“Will you leave after the baby is born?” Chris asked. He had just reconnected with his mother. He did not want to lose her so soon.
“No,” Kara answered with a small smile, her hand reaching out to rub up and down Chris’s arm as she felt his anxiety. “I will stay here as long as I am hidden from those who wish to destroy this child, or take me.”
Brynn turned around, his expression one of disbelief. “This child was born of violence. Is part demon. How could you want to keep it?”
“I know what Aden and Tanis believe, and yes there was violence. What they don’t know is that the child is not Malphas’s. It is Caius’s.”
Brynn and Chris looked at each other in confusion. It was Chris that asked what Brynn could not voice. “We saw what Malphas did to you. He was in possession of Caius’s body at the time.”
“True, but it was still Caius’s body, and there was a time that he was able to fight to regain control. When the baby was conceived it was Caius, not Malphas, that was present. It was also when we completed the binding ritual.”
Brynn turned with a sound of disgust.
Kara’s anger spiked. “I may hate and distrust the prophecy we are bound to, but there is one binding truth that has always been. There are three entities that keep the universe from spinning into total chaos. I am one of them.” She took a step towards Brynn, moving her hand from Chris’s arm to his, bringing his attention to her. Her voice softening, she continued. “I cannot change who I am, what I was created for. What I wish I could change is how much I have hurt you. If I had a choice, I would have never left you.” She looked at Chris. “Either of you. Just once, I would have liked to watch my children grow up. Helped them through their life lessons.” She turned back to Brynn, “Grown old with you.” Tears began to course down her face. “Don’t ever think that because Tanis and Caius have been my immortal soulmates since time began that it means I love you any less. You are the father of my children, my mortal soulmate who had followed me throughout the ages, just as they have. You have been and always will be a part of me.”
Looking down at the hand on his arm, Brynn thought about her words. Somewhere deep inside him, some primal instinct, knew she was right. That they had been together far longer this this lifetime. Taking her hand in his, he brought it to his lips and held it there, his eyes closed as he tried to calm his racing heart. Kara was still his in a way, just not his alone.
“If that is true, then what about the part about you not remembering us once you met Caius or Tanis?” Chris asked.
“A safeguard, if you will. Something that helps me be able to complete my task without distractions until the next time we meet.”
“Why is it different now?” Brynn asked moving their hands to in between them, but not letting go of hers.
“Because there is a new player involved. One that does not belong in this timeline.”
“Malphas,” Chris said flatly.
Kara nodded. “I can’t explain it because we don’t know exactly how he came here, or what exactly he wants, but it feels as if this scenario has played out before. In a different place. In a different time.”
“According from what Grandmother has told me, you, Tanis and Caius fight a battle every two thousand years to keep the universe in balance. It would seem right to think this has all happened before,” Chris frowned.
“Grandmother? Selene has been here?” Kara said with a fair amount of suspicion.
“She comes from time to time to teach me how to use my powers. Or at least how not to destroy the fabric of the universe and everything in it,” he answered ruefully.
“I see,” Kara murmured angrily. She was about to call her mother so she could give her a piece of her mind about her meddling again when there was another power surge, this time from an outside source, hit her. One that brought Kara to her knees. Both Brynn and Chris cried out, jumping forward to catch her as she collapsed to the ground. It was a forceful reminder that she was to stay hidden. Inside her head, Tanis called to her, feeling her distress.
“That felt different,” Chris said his voice breathy. Apparently Kara was not the only one who had felt it.
Grimacing in pain, her eyes tightly shut, Kara nodded she agreed.
“What do you mean different,” Brynn asked looking between the two as he cradled Kara in his arms.
“Before it was the baby warning me off. This time it was more…powerful. Malevolent,” Chris shuddered. Looking down at his mother, he asked, “Was it Colin?”
Both Kara and Brynn’s eyes snapped to their son’s in alarm.
“What do you mean Colin?” Brynn demanded.
Frowning in confusion, Chris answered. “He and Anthony have been trying to break through the wards for the last two days. Haven’t you felt him?” he asked looking at his mother.
“No,” she whispered.
Suddenly there was another presence in the meadow, and it was not happy.
“What do you mean Colin is here?” Tanis demanded striding towards them.
“I thought you already knew?” Chris answered his confusion deepening.
“Our powers are restricted,” Tanis said in disgust as he dropped to his knees next to Kara. “Although I would have thought that bastard would have thought ahead and at least allowed us this one small advantage.”
The moment his fingertips touched Kara’s outstretched hand; everything began to spiral around her. Having both her mortal and immortal mate touching her at the same time should have never happened, and the universe did not take kindly to the unexpected. Kara stiffened. Powerful forces as old as time itself screamed in outrage as they engulfed Kara as a tsunami would engulf the beach it slammed into. They crashed against the bonds the males in her existence had weaved through her soul, threatening to tear them to shreds. Unwillingly, she took Tanis and Brynn with her on her spiraling decent into hell.
Kara wanted to keep falling, wanted to be engulfed by the darkness where the crushing pain could not reach her, but Tanis would not allow it, because if she went under so would he and they would both be lost. This was why they could never go back. Why it was forbidden to them. To be in the same place as two soul mates would tear them apart from the inside out. Malphas did not understand the danger had he put them in, or his unborn child, because he was not of this reality.
Don’t you dare leave me! Tanis ordered panic stricken.
Let me go, Kara begged weakly.
NO! Brynn cried. Not again.
If you don’t we will all drown. Let go.
Kara, please. Don’t ask me to do this, Tanis pleaded with her.
The pain and terror she felt coming from him tore a fresh hole in her already shredded heart. She did not want to leave him. It was too soon, but she also needed to disappear into the darkness. The pain was too much for her to bear.
Reluctantly, knowing it was the only way to stop the pain yet hating every second of it, Brynn allowed his grip on Kara slip away.
Let go, she urged Tanis gently.
Tanis still hesitated, unsure if it was the right thing do to. Once together they had never been totally separated until death. This was not death but a separation from the source of her pain. Kara’s body would still be living, but her spirit would be somewhere away from the pain, and he was not sure he could pull her back once she was gone. She begged him once more to release her. As Brynn had done, Tanis slowly released his grip on her spirit and allowed her to slip away, feeling as if half of him were being ripped away cell by cell.
When he became aware of his surroundings he was on his hands and knees gasping. Kara lay on her back in the grass unconscious. Brynn was lying next to her staring at the blue sky gasping for air.
“What…happened?” he asked.
“You…me…all of us here. Together,” Tanis spat. “None of this should be happening!”
“Mom?” Chris whispered.
Tanis looked up at the boy’s terrified eyes, his own fear mirrored in them.
“She is breathing but I…I can’t feel her. It’s as if she is gone.”
Tanis was at her side in an instant, brushing the hair from her face. It was small consolation when he felt the weak pulse on her wrist, because like Chris had said, he could not feel her.
“Nooooo,” he groaned burying his face on her chest.
“What’s wrong?” Brynn asked pushing himself up so he was sitting. “What is wrong!” he demanded when no one would answer him. He saw the grief Tanis was in, the terror in his son’s eyes, but most of all he too could no longer feel Kara’s presence. It was as if the void in his heart had open into a chasm.
“It was too much for her,” Chris answered his voice shaking, tears running down his face. “Having you both here. It’s never happened before so no one knew what would happen.”
“Where is she?” Brynn whispered staring down at Kara’s peaceful expression.
“I’m not sure,” Chris choked.
“We have to bring her back.” Tanis’s voice hoarse with the strain of staying conscious. “We have to find her and bring her back.”
“How?” Brynn asked. This was beyond him and his limited power.
“I don’t know,” Tanis whispered staring at Kara’s pale face. He felt so lost without her. It was hard to think, to feel, to breathe.
Brynn wasn’t fairing much better. When he had felt Kara out here with Chris, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to come or not. But the pull had finally been too much. To know she was so close and not hold her in his arms was becoming too painful. So he gave in to the pull and followed his son’s footsteps. Holding Kara, feeling her melt into him, kiss him back, was a heaven he thought he would never experience again. Then Chris had mentioned the male that had made their lives a living hell for so long and Tanis had appeared. When the excruciating pain began he could barely think straight. Now she was gone, the black abyss she had slipped into to loomed before him and it took everything thing he had not to follow her.
“We should move her inside,” Tanis rasped.
“Your place is closer,” Brynn said moving to his knees with more effort than it really should have taken.
Moving to his feet, Tanis tried to pick Kara up, but it was as if his strength had left with her. With a deep breath, Brynn scooped Kara into his arms, cradling her gently and with Chris’s help pushed to his feet. Taking a moment to enjoy the feel of her once again this close, he turned his attention to Tanis who, also with Chris’s help, stumbled to his feet. There was a mixture of emotions flitting across the man’s face. Brynn understood that feeling all too well. The confusion of anger and desolation as they warred with each other. It seemed like too many times he had watched either Aden or Anthony take his wife away from him. However, Brynn was not taking Kara away, he was going to help this man – his wife’s bond mate from eons past and present – find her and bring her back to them. Then they would figure out where they would go from here.
“The weakness will pass,” Brynn said. “The pain….”
“I have lost her more times than you can comprehend, mortal. I know it will pass,” Tanis snapped pushing Chris’s helping hands away.
“Maybe,” Brynn said, his eyes and voice still showing his sorrow. “But I doubt you have had her ripped from you so completely it was as if you have lost half of yourself.”
Tanis froze then looked at Brynn more closely. No, he had not lost her this completely because their spirits were never very far apart no matter how far physically they were. But this time he felt…nothing.
“Time for this later,” Chris reminded. The two men looked at the young man. “We need to move her inside where it is safer and contact one more to help us bring her home.”
“Who are you talking about?” Tanis asked.
“Aden,” Chris said plainly.
“Never!” Tanis hissed as at the same time Brynn snarled, “No!”
“He can help us,” Chris growled. “He’s connected to Mom, just like you and Dad are….”
“He will not touch her!” Tanis snarled. “I will talk about it no more,” he snapped when Chris opened his mouth to protest.
“Enough Chris. The subject is closed,” Brynn added firmly as he walked past him towards the farmhouse.
Snapping his mouth shut, Chris looked between Tanis, who was glaring at him to his father’s receding back. Why wouldn’t they see reason? If they were to bring his mother back and survive what was to come, they needed all the help they could get.
“Fine,” Chris snapped after a moment. If they would not listen to reason, then he would take matters into his own hands. First he would see his mother was settled, then he would figure out how to bring Aden here himself.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes