It had been a long painful afternoon mentally and physically, but it was nothing Kara had not been through before. She was starting to think that everything she had endured was so that she would be able to tolerate the pain it caused her to be in the same room with this much anger and distrust. The icing on the proverbial cake was the jealousy that coated the air like thick molasses. There was a time Kara could shield herself from other’s emotions, but with the necklace and spells Malphas had weaved around her limiting her powers she no longer had the strength. Not with Brynn pacing the floor in front of her while Tanis hovered behind her. She had purposefully chosen an arm chair in the spacious great room. Part of the remodel that had been done on the old farmhouse before they moved in. So there was plenty of space for Brynn to pace. Sitting in the arm chair meant that there was no room for someone else, therefore she did not have to choose, and it was one less fight she had to deal with.
On the other side of the coffee table in front of Kara, Chris was perched on the edge of the couch, angrily watching his father. They had been arguing for the last fifteen minutes whether or not Chris should go back to the farm to keep an eye on his sister and younger cousins. Tanis was agreeing that he should leave because he was too young. That he had already proved he could not follow orders and how could a mere boy know anything about a centuries long battle waged by the gods. The rising tension was only adding to the mounting headache that was threatening to explode within Kara’s head. Someone had to give soon, or she would be comatose again from the pain.
Glancing at the back of the room, Kara tried to latch onto the only calm in the boiling sea around her. With a deep frown, his eyes tight with concern as he watched her, Kara could feel Aden’s presence swirling around her. He was trying to block some of the emotions, but like her, his powers were bound tight. It did not help that her anxiety was bleeding all over him. Out of the four men bound to her, Aden was the most susceptible to being overwhelmed by her feelings, as she was to his. Since that avenue was out, Aden had tried to help by pointing out to the others how much their emotions were hurting Kara to only be told to mind his own business. That he was not wanted here, so why did he not leave. Since there was no way that was going to happen, he had stood silently in the back of the room, holding up the wall, doing his best to shield Kara from the worst of the pain, which Kara was grateful for.
“Jamie is old enough to take care of them herself,” Chris argued. “I would be better off here helping you.”
“And if Colin decides to use them to force Kara into surrendering to him?” Tanis asked. While what happened upstairs with Chris had shaken him, his exhaustion was making him reckless. The gods only knew what would happen if Chris was truly angered. If angered enough, what entity would emerge instead of the twenty-one year old mortal sitting in front of him. Unfortunately, at the moment Tanis did not care. He only cared about protecting Kara, and that there were too many males in the room staking claim to what was his. While a small part of him argued that Kara had never been truly his, another voice that was much louder kept telling him that it was time for that to change. That if there were less people there would be less pain and far more peace in their lives. That their child would be safe.
“Don’t underestimate my sister,” Chris said turning his angry eyes to Tanis. When he saw the immortal’s frown and his focus seemed to be on something internal and not on him, Chris’s anger slipped into confusion. Why keep arguing he should leave if he did not seem to care one way or the other. “She may surprise you,” Chris finished absently. What was going on?
“Maybe so, but she can’t fight everyone by herself,” Brynn pointed out, bringing Chris’s eyes and focus back to him and the argument. “Colin will not be alone. He’s always come heavily armed, and with Anthony they are a force to be reckoned with. She will not be able to keep her focus on the young ones if she is fighting multiple fronts.”
When Chris opened his mouth to argue more, Aden finally spoke up.
“Chris,” he called quietly, bringing the young man’s angry eyes to him. “Your father is right. Jamie will need your help, but that is not the only reason he asks you to leave. They need to know everything that has happened in the last six years in order to understand what must be done. Don’t ask your mother to voice her nightmares in front of her son. I’m sick enough as it is that you saw what I showed your father. Think of what it will do to her.”
Clamping his mouth shut, his eyes going from the dark sorcerer, to his father than finally his mother, who looked beyond exhausted and pale, he realized Aden was right. Lowering his head and taking a calming breath, he stood and walked around the coffee table to kneel in front of her. Taking her hands in his, he said only loud enough so she could hear, his eyes locked with hers, “Don’t let them push Aden out. He is a vital part of this. A vital part of you.”
“I know,” Kara smiled wearily. Resting her hand on his cheek, her smile brightened. “I want you to know how proud I am of the man you have become, and that I love you with all my heart.”
“I love you too,” he breathed, his smile at her declaration threatening to split his face open.
Leaning forward, Kara placed a gentle kiss on her son’s forehead. “Now go,” she urged. “I will talk to you and your sister later. I promise.”
Nodding, he stood, his mother’s hand still in his, and turned to his father. “I’ll call Uncle Gavin and Aunt Delia and tell them what is going on. We’ll protect the little ones.”
“Thank you,” Brynn smiled, patting his son’s shoulder.
Turning his head, Chris locked eyes with Tanis. “Your job is to protect her, Angel. It’s always been to protect her. Don’t forget that.” Without waiting for Tanis to respond he turned to Aden. “There is a reason you are so connected to her. A reason you feel what each other feels, sees what each other sees far more intensely than Caius or Tanis. Why being apart harms you more than them. Remember and you will finally understand why.” They stood staring at each other, some knowledge passing between them that Tanis and Brynn did not understand. Frowning, Aden’s eyes glanced at Tanis before he nodded at Chris, some sort of understanding forming between them. Smiling one more time down at his mother, giving her hand a light squeeze, Chris turned and walked out the door.
“He is not,” Tanis began, unsure how to voice his concern about who and what Chris was.
“He is what he needs to be in this moment,” Aden answered, his eyes on the front door, the frown still in place.
“What is that suppose to mean?” Brynn asked, the father in him rising up to defend his son.
Sighing with a weariness that went bone deep, he was so tired of all this jealousy, of everyone distrusting him, Aden rubbed his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. “Everything that has been happening,” he looked at Kara, his hand pointing towards her, “all she has endured is for a reason. The universe is unbalanced. If we don’t fix that balance, and soon, it will implode. Chris has been trying to tell you this all afternoon. You two,” he moved his glare from Brynn to Tanis, “refuse to listen because you are spending more energy on being angry I am here and not enough on what is going on around you.”
“And you think you are the key to balancing the universe. You with Kara?” Tanis said his eyes narrowing in suspicion. “Very convenient don’t you think?”
Sighing in a way that said it was a wonder he had not ground his teeth to dust, Aden was so weary of this fight, he glared at Tanis, snapping, “We don’t have time for this.” When he saw Kara flinch, he softened his voice, his eyes apologetic as she looked at her. “I’m sorry, my love.” Ignoring the growls from the other males, Aden gathered as much calm around him as he could. Moving his gaze to the front door, he continued, “I am already well aware of what Kara is going to tell you.” His eyes drifted to a memory that seemed to be extremely painful. Closing his eyes, shaking himself back into the present, Aden looked at Kara again, “I know how hard this is going to be. If you need help explaining, just ask.”
“She needs nothing from you,” Tanis snarled.
“Tanis! Enough,” Kara scolded glaring up at him. “What is wrong with you? You have never been this territorial. This will be hard enough without you snapping and snarling at each other.”
Clamping his mouth shut, Tanis gave Aden a look that said they were not finished before moving to the other empty armchair next to Kara’s and plopped down.
Realizing this was the closest she was going to receive in the way of a truce, she took a deep breath to steady herself. “The best way to tell you is to show you.” She looked up at Brynn. “Why Aden has shown you some of it, if you do this with me, you will not only see what is happening, but feel what I felt. It is a very…intimate experience and I fear may change your opinion of me. I will understand if you wish not to be a part of the sharing.”
Brynn knelt in front of her, taking her hands in his, kissing the back of them gently. Then he turned his eyes to her, looking into them intently so she knew what he would say was truth. “I will not abandon you when you need me most. Just tell me where you want me and I will be there,” he vowed.
“You are where Chris gets his strength and bravery,” Kara smiled.
Returning her smile with one of his own, Brynn leaned in and tenderly kissed her on the lips. The tension in the room rose every so slightly before settling into a calm that was missing from the last few hours. Much like water settles into a calm after a wave disturbs its surface. Still filled with gentle waves. When Brynn moved back his expression was full of love. Lightly squeezing her hands once more, he released them, stood and moved to sit on the couch across from her.
Bracing herself for what might be waiting for her, taking a deep breath Kara turned her eyes to Tanis, who was watching her with a frown. There was a confusion in his eyes that she did not totally understand. She tried to see what it was that was bothering him, but something blocked her from entering his thoughts. That was strange. She was usually able to see glimpses of his thoughts. Instead, nothing. Glancing at Aden, who slightly shook his head he did not understand what was going on with the immortal any more than she did, she turned her attention back to Tanis..
“Mother says you need to know everything or else you will not be able to break the bonds that Malphas has woven around you,” she began. Frowning herself, she looked down at the back of the couch. “I don’t know if that is true, and the last thing I want you to see is the horrors that I have lived.”
“Kara,” Tanis breathed moving around to the side of the chair to kneel down beside her. “I have lived more lives than I care to count, have shared horrors with you that would turn the bravest male into nothing more than a sniveling coward.” He took her hand, absently thinking that the others had done so too, and it seemed cliché, but he needed to touch her, reassure her that whatever she was about to show them it would not change the way he felt about her. “Nothing you show me will change the way I feel about you.”
We shall see, she thought grimacing. Out loud, “Then maybe you should sit down. Aden was,” she hesitated, her eyes moving to the tall imposing figure standing a few feet away, his expression stricken, “shaken after what he was forced to endure.”
Both men looked at Aden. They saw what Kara saw. A strong man whose color had completely drained from his face; his eyes haunted, his hands trembling. A man who had been broken by what he was forced to witness over and over and over. Nodding, his own expression grim, Tanis moved back to his chair.
Kara’s eyes moved to Aden’s. There was a wealth of words said between them in that one look, but no words were spoken. There was no need. It was a look of shared horrors that both of them had lived, and desperately did not want to live again. Of course, the Fates had other ideas. Didn’t they always? Why let sleeping lions lay when you could stir up the entire den by dropping an injured gazelle in the middle of them. In the frenzy that followed a few lions would be wounded, but it was the gazelle who suffered the most as they ripped it to shreds.
“I will go outside and guard against any intruders,” Aden said his voice choked with an emotion that the others could not name but somehow understood. With another frown in Tanis’s direction, Aden followed Chris out the door, gently closing it behind them.
“Shall we begin?” Kara said settling back in her chair.
Glancing at each other, apprehension thick in the air, Tanis and Brynn followed Kara’s lead and settled back in their seats.
Her eyes on Brynn, because Tanis knew what to do, Kara instructed, “Close your eyes and relax. You will feel my presence in your mind and maybe a little pressure. If you do not fight it and just allow the images to flow it will be easer for both of us.”
Nodding, Brynn did as Kara asked. There was a slight pressure, as if someone was pushing at his mind. He immediately recognized Kara’s presence and allowed her in. That was the easy part. The hard part was not to shy away from the images that flooded his mind and filled his body with fear, pain and desire. So much desire. For the first time since he had locked eyes with his wife, Brynn wondered if he really knew who Kara was. What she was. What she was not, in any shape or form, was human.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes