Kara felt as if she was floating. She wasn’t cold and she wasn’t hot, and she wasn’t frightened. She even knew where she was before she opened her eyes. It was the same place she had been brought to before the demon had ripped her out of bed and dragged into hell. A secret she had kept from those who would ask questions she could not answer.
Slowly she opened her eyes, already knowing what she would see.
“Mother,” her voice flat.
“Hello, Kara,” Selene smiled down at her, although the smile did not reach her eyes. There was a weariness in them that Kara understood all too well. “You have suffered much and for that I am truly sorry. I only wish I could have foreseen how much.”
“Why? You told me there was nothing you could do to stop what was to come, only warn me in an attempt to prepare me. I hate to break it to you, Mother. Nothing could have prepared me for what that bastard did to me,” Kara snarled sitting up and swinging her legs over the side of the bed so she could glare at her mother.
Selene bristled under Kara’s contempt. “It does not matter what you had to endure as long as the end result was obtained, otherwise all would be lost. You know this, Kara,” she snapped.
“The end result was a demon bastard,” Kara spat.
“The end result was that you and Caius bonded and all three of you are now stronger for it. I will not apologize for helping you.”
“Helping me!” Kara shrieked slipping off the bed so she could stand nose to nose with her mother. “Malphas raped me, Mother. Brutally and repeatedly. Nothing you did ‘helped’ me escape what you deemed as my destiny.”
“Your destiny was to bond with Caius,” Selene said stepping back from her raging daughter, her voice low and even as she tried to rein in her temper. Kara’s reaction was expected and understood considering what had happened to her. Even though Selene’s initial reaction to Kara’s disrespect, she knew in this moment she deserved her hatred. Maybe even her contempt. The sadness returned, blanketing her anger. After all this time, everything they had gone through, she still was not worthy enough. Swallowing back the tears that thought brought, Selene said as calmly as she could, “That one moment when Caius broke free from his cage, when you were able to complete the ritual, that was your destiny. Now you must complete the circle.”
“I don’t even know what that means,” Kara snapped, turning away. She could not look into that woman’s hurt eyes and keep her anger, and that was puzzling. Selene deserved her rage after what she had done. “What circle?” Kara asked turning back towards Selene when she was a safe distance away.
“You, Tanis, Caius and Aden, of course,” she answered as if this small piece of information was obvious.
Even though Kara hated to admit it, once Selene voiced those names she had known what she meant, but what she was asking was impossible. Sighing, she shook her head. “That will never happen if Caius and Tanis have a say in it. They will not leave Aden and I alone long enough to say hello to each other, let alone have sex.”
“Then you need to make them understand,” Selene suggested, her anger returning a notch.
Kara snorted. “I’m afraid that is easier said than done. To them Aden is the enemy, not the ally.”
“Then the universe will come to chaos and ruin,” Selene sighed with a fair amount of resignation.
“Why is Aden so important? Maybe if I understood his role better I could convince them otherwise. I know who I am. I am the Key. The glue between good and evil, between Caius and Tanis, that keeps the universe moving forward instead of spinning into chaos.”
“The universe is always in chaos, no matter which reality we are in” Selene corrected.
Kara frowned. Reality? “If that is so, why are we here?” Kara asked.
“Because a very long time ago mistakes were made, and in order to fix them lessons had to be taught and learned, choices made. Until those three things were accomplished there would be no end. No peace,” Selene answered the last said so softly Kara almost missed it. Placing her hand gently on Kara’s shoulder, her expression almost holding a desperation that Kara could not understand, Selene said, “We thought we had it right this time. That you would be so proud of us and we could finally rest.” She dropped her hand, her expression growing weary and sad. “We should have known it would not last. It never lasts.”
Before Kara could respond to her mother’s strange words and odd behavior, Selene’s eyes grew wild. This time she grabbed both of Kara’s shoulders, gripping them painfully.
“You must find a way to defeat Malphas before it’s too late. In a bid to own you, to rule everything, he will take everyone you hold dear and destroy them. You must not let that happen! You must come together or all we have endured will be for nothing!”
Putting her hands on her mother’s arms, Kara tried to reason with her. “I can’t fight him, Mother. None of us can. Not while I am wearing the necklace and bound by his spells.”
The wild look turned into one of pure rage as Selene’s eyes shifted down to the cursed necklace around her daughter’s neck. “Aden can remove that blasphemy piece of metal,” she snarled. “He always could but lies and fear have stayed his hands and you both have suffered for it.” She shifted her eyes back to Kara. “But first you must break Tanis’s chains for there is another danger that will soon be upon you, and your protector needs to be free to defend you.”
“My protector? Danger? Mother, you are not making any sense. How do I break Tanis free?”
With an abruptness that shocked Kara into stillness leaving her blinking, Selene released her shoulders, stood tall and completely calm before her.
“You must tell him,” Selene’s somber voice answered in the stillness. “His anger over what he found, and your condition was not enough to break the spells. He needs to know everything the demon has done to you. Only then will you truly understand who and what you are. Only then you will understand.”
“I can’t,” Kara breathed, her hand on her chest, the thought of Tanis knowing what she had done, how she had responded with eagerness and wanton to the demon’s touch making her ill all over again. “It was bad enough Caius and Aden know. That Aden can love me, still bear to look at me when I cannot even look at myself, amazes me. I could not bear it if Tanis turned away from me.”
“Then all is lost,” Selene said with a shrug of her shoulders. It was as if she no longer cared.
“You are not making any sense!” she cried out in frustration.
“Tell him, and you will find your answers,” Selene repeated as her body began to fade into mist.
“Don’t you dare leave me like this, Mother!” Kara yelled grabbing for her only to catch nothing.
“Go back and tell them. All of them. Only then will you understand,” Selene’s voice floated around her, drifting away on the wind.
“I can’t,” Kara breathed. “I came here because I could not handle the pain of Tanis and Brynn touching me at the same time. I felt as if I was drowning in it.”
There was no answer. Her mother was gone and Kara had more questions than answers. Bowing her head, she knew she had no choice. She could not allow the demon inside of Caius tear apart what they had fought so hard for. She also could not leave behind those she loved to fight alone. Not like this. Already she could feel the strain her absence was having on them. On her.
“Very well,” she whispered. “I will do as you ask.”
“You are strong enough for this, my child,” Selene’s voice assured, her voice floating all around Kara like a caress. In a way it comforted her. “When you go back the baby will be gone. Malphas knows something has happened, but even with all his power it will take him time to reach you. It will give you time to regain your strength and figure out how to defeat him.”
“But at what cost? Everything has changed. So many innocents are involved. It was never supposed to be this way.”
“That is where you are wrong, my lady,” Selene breathed, her presence once again fading. “Remember, or all will be for naught. All will be lost.”
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes