The launch bay was chaotic. Technicians running back and forth trying to clear the cramped space of illegal merchandise. Spaceships of all different shapes and sizes were maneuvering to leave. Everyone was running and Kara still did not know from who.
“Who is this person that is causing so much panic?” Kara whispered from the doorway they were hiding in. It was an obscure place in the back corner of the bay that lead to a side hall rarely used.
When Thomas didn’t answer right away, Kara glanced up at him. The considering expression was back again. Kara could feel he was warring with himself about how much he should tell her.
“Thomas?” she prompted suspicion thick in her voice.
Sighing, his shoulders slumped in resignation. “You know it is not fair that you can read me so well,” he protested gently.
“It’s a gift, or curse,” Kara shrugged. “Depends on how you look at it and what day it is.” She was rewarded with a small chuckle.
“Everyone is in an uproar because it’s the Emperor’s emissary that is coming for you.”
Kara could only blink at him in response. The emperor? The most powerful, dangerous being in the universe was looking for her?
“My lady? Are you all right?”
“Why would he want me?” she asked hoarsely. Suddenly running away with Anthony sounded like a much better idea then giving herself over to someone who might be far worse than Colin.
“He has always wanted you. It’s the reason Colin fetched you in the first place. Originally he was supposed to take you straight the emperor, but because he became greedy, you managed to escape him. When he finally recaptured you, instead of taking you straight to the emperor as he was ordered he decided to keep you for himself. We’ve been keeping one step ahead of the emperor’s scouts ever since. Until now, that is,” he frowned looking out at the large doors and space beyond.
In the distance something moved. The stars seemed to swirl for a moment then suddenly there was a large cruiser that dwarfed their ship hovering over them. The silence in the landing bay was sudden and disorienting. Kara held her breath, for not only was the ship impressive, the sudden materialization of armed men in the middle of the bay was even more impressive. It took a moment for the workers to realized they were no longer alone. Once they did they dropped whatever they were carrying and scattered. Soon the only ones left where the five figures dressed in red flight suites with long red capes and boots that reached their knees, and helmets that covered their heads. Each held a long staff that crackled and snapped with some sort of energy.
In the middle of them was another figure dressed completely in black. Except for his hair. That stood out like a beacon amongst the darkness surrounding him, and when he looked directly at Kara as if he knew where she stood, his sky blue eyes pierced her down to her soul.
Suddenly it was hard to breathe. Putting her hand over her chest, Kara gasped for air as she desperately tried to break the hold the dark sorcerer had on her. How did she know what he was? The answer came with a clarity that sent her spinning. She knew because with that one look everything about him was laid bare to her soul. With the same clarity she knew that everything about her had been laid bare to him, and what he saw enraged him.
“Kara?” Thomas called, taking her arm and gently shaking her. “What is happening?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered still entranced by the stranger. No, not stranger anymore. His name was Aden Sahen, or at least it was in this lifetime, and she knew him. Not from anywhere she had been, or anything she may have seen on a news monitor or paper, but from another time long ago. One filled with pain and anger and…. The last she could not quite put a name to. It was strength and peace and a love so profound it took what little breath she had away. With that one look from across a vast distance, Kara was irrevocable his as he was hers, and there was no force in any universe or reality that could break a bond that had been forged before what was known to be the beginning of time.
Without taking his eyes off her, Aden’s lips moved and the men around him slipped away into the surrounding bay. It was only then the fierce predatory expression melted into one of awe and wonder. So entranced by him – were those wings behind him? – Kara did not hear the fighting around her, did not understand the danger until she took a step towards Aden and a hand clamped down over her mouth while an arm slipped around her waist, slamming her against a hard body.
“You are mine!” Anthony hissed in her ear right before he dragged her away from her destiny.
* * *
Kara’s eyes opened to see the white shiplap boards of the farmhouse ceiling. Around her tension was high as Brynn and Tanis tried to digest what they just saw. What they could no longer deny.
“What happened after Anthony found you?” Tanis asked quietly.
Resettling herself so she sat up in the chair and could see the two men around her, Kara sighed. “He tried to reach his ship so he could escape with me, but Aden’s men had it surrounded. So he took me back to the command deck where Colin was trying to negotiate his way out of the entire ship being destroyed for betraying the Emperor. He was talking with Aden’s second in command and had no idea Aden was already on the ship.”
“You said you were given a choice as to whether to stay or go with Aden,” Brynn said moving so he sat on the edge of the couch, his elbows resting on his knees as he frowned at Kara. “I felt what you felt when you saw Aden. There was no choice, was there.”
Kara shook her head, her eyes downcast. There was no guilt or regret of what happened that day, only guilt over lying to Brynn.
When she looked up into Brynn’s eyes, she begged him to understand. “I could no more walk away from Aden as I could willing walk away from you.” She turned her eyes to Tanis. “Or you. In that split second we were one.”
“But it is different than it is with us,” Tanis said, his voice unhappy.
“Yes,” Kara answered her eyes not leaving him.
“It’s…more,” he added.
This time Kara only nodded.
They sat staring at each other for a moment, different thoughts, images, racing through their heads as Tanis sifted through her memories and Kara allowed it. With a sigh that reached his toes, Tanis closed his eyes and rubbed his face wearily. Dropping his arms onto the arms of the chair heavily, he blinked up at the ceiling, gathering himself, then sat forward on the chair, mimicking Brynn’s pose.
“Mother said we must remember, but I still don’t understand what. What was is so important about yours and Aden’s connection?”
“I think it was the feeling of knowing him,” Brynn suggested. “When I bonded with Kara, I knew we belonged together, but I didn’t feel as if I knew her. That the connection between us was somehow…preordained. Does that make sense?” he frowned.
“Strangely yes,” Tanis answered thinking through Brynn’s words. “Where our connection is old, and we come together every two thousand years because it is, as you say, preordained. Their connection seems much older. Their souls are not two souls coming together, but one that had been ripped apart and is once again made whole.”
“So what does that all mean?” Brynn asked more confused than he was before.
Tanis looked at Kara, as lost as Brynn. “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”
Brynn turned his attention to Kara, what he had to say next making him uncomfortable. “While what you showed us helps us understand your and Aden’s connection better, it does not tell us what Malphas did to you that Aden does not want to relive.”
Abruptly Kara stood and paced away, unable to meet either of their gazes. “I don’t think it is necessary to show you. Brynn already knows most of it, and Tanis….”
Arms circled her waist, gently pulling her back into a warm body. “Will not judge you,” Tanis breathed in her ear, placing a gentle kiss on her neck. Holding his arms to her as tightly as she could, Kara tried to stem the tears that suddenly fell with abandonment. “Hey!” he called turning her so she faced him. “No more tears,” he coaxed brushing those that fell away. “We have cried enough tears for that bastard. We will give him no more.”
A sudden sharp pain lanced through Kara’s abdomen, buckling her knees.
“Kara!” Tanis cried out catching her before she hit the ground.
“What happened?” Brynn demanded, on his feet and next to them as Tanis reached down and picked Kara’s legs up.
“I don’t know,” Tanis answered walking to the couch and carefully lying her down on it. Taking her hand, he sat down next to her.
“The wards have been broken,” Aden answered from the doorway. Both men looked to see him leaning against the door jam, white with pain. “They are connected to Kara so in the chance she decided to leave their safety Caius would know. Colin must have finally broken them and now he is attacking her in order to weaken her.”
“That means he’s on his way here,” Brynn said, worry lacing his voice. “Do you know where they were broken?”
“By the farm,” Aden answered grimly.
“The children,” Brynn hissed heading for the door.
“No,” Aden said putting up a hand to stop him. “I’ll go. You may be powerful in your own right,” he responded to Brynn’s glare, “but there are two of them and the gods only know how many men with weapons.” Grimacing as he stood straight, Aden locked eyes with Brynn. “I’ll protect them with my life, but I doubt he will go for the children. They have waited to long to find her, and Anthony’s obsession will only see the end prize. Not what lays in-between.”
“Colin is not so shortsighted,” Tanis reminded. “And by the look of you, you are as compromised as Kara. Which brings a question to mind. Why are you affected where I am not?”
“If I told you the answer, you would not like it and Kara is in enough pain. She does not need your or Brynn’s anger to add to it. Besides, I’m still upright and Colin is no match for me even at my weakest,” Aden grimaced as another stabbing pain shot through him. Kara moaned on the couch, her hand squeezing Tanis’s as she writhed in pain. He turned his attention back to Brynn. “Kara needs you here. Chris and I will take care of the others.” Pushing himself off the doorjamb, Aden moved towards Kara, stopping short when Tanis was suddenly in his way.
“I don’t care what Mother or the prophecy says, or what happened on that damn ship. Kara is not now or never will be yours,” Tanis hissed.
Aden’s frown turned into a scowl, but he kept quiet. They did not have time to fight amongst themselves. Not if they wanted to survive.
“You are here because evidently we cannot do this without you,” Tanis continued, his fury barely contained. “While you are here, you will keep your distance from my wi…from her. Do I make myself clear?”
“Perfectly,” Aden answered calmly, a small smile on his lips. It satisfied him that Tanis could not claim Kara as his wife. Aden knew it had taken a great deal for him not to say it with Brynn so close. The only male here who could truly make that claim. And there was one little piece of information that Aden knew was irritating Tanis to no end. He was not strong enough to keep Aden away from Kara. Not anymore.
When had it come to this? Aden thought. The three of them having to feel as if they needed to fight for her. Aden realized it became that way the minute they were all together. As Tanis turned to Kara and picked her up in his arms, heading for the stairs and the rooms above, a flash of jealousy scorched its way through Aden. Clenching his teeth and fists he turned towards the door to see Brynn watching them. When Aden drew near him, he could see Brynn was having the same difficulties he was seeing Kara in Tanis’s arms by how tightly his fists were clenched. Aden stepped next to him, his eyes going back to the stairs and Tanis’s disappearing feet.
“It seems we have something in common,” Aden murmured.
“What could we possibly have in common?” Brynn asked through clenched teeth, not looking at him.
Aden glanced at Brynn with an amused expression. “We both love what will never be ours alone,” he said quietly.
Brynn turned his glare towards Aden. “You have no claim to Kara, sorcerer.”
“After what you have seen, what you felt, you know that is not true.”
Brynn was taken aback by how unhappy Aden’s voice sounded. He had not realized how deeply Aden’s feelings truly were until this moment. It still did not change anything.
“Stay away from her,” Brynn repeated Tanis’s warning.
Turning so he faced the door, Aden leaned in towards Brynn. “She has not told you everything,” Aden whispered. “And I didn’t show you everything,” he added looking at Brynn. This time Aden’s smile was pained as he looked into Brynn’s shocked eyes. “You and Tanis cannot even begin to imagine the horrors she has been through. Neither of you were there to pick her up off the floor when the Emperor tortured her for days on end, barely clinging onto life. Neither of you were there to pull the men off her because the emperor decided to give her to an entire garrison to use however they pleased.” He watched with satisfaction as the color drained from Brynn’s face and he staggered backwards, grabbing a chair for support. Aden leaned in, his voice a hiss, “You may be her husband, the father of her children, and Tanis may have some cosmic claim to her, but do not think for one moment that I will release my claim on her heart. On her soul. Whether or not you want to accept it, she is bound to me and she loves me. It may not be the love she has for Tanis, or the love she has with you, but it is mine.”
“Maybe what you say is true,” Brynn responded, his voice strangely detached as his mind reeled in shock from the horrors Aden had just told him, “but she will never yours alone.”
“No. She may never be mine alone. But I will not give up the part of her I do have,” Aden responded, his voice filled with his conviction. Without another word he walked out of the house, stiff with anger. He needed an outlet, and that bastard and his son who was coming for Kara was the perfect target.
Brynn followed Aden to the doorway, watching as the male jumped the steps and began to run towards his home, thinking about what he had learned today. With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Brynn knew Aden was right. Kara did belong to him in a way Brynn could not comprehend, but what did that have to do with this prophecy or Malphas. What was it Kara’s mother wanted them to remember? According to her they needed to figure that out sooner rather than later. Turning back into the house, Brynn headed upstairs. While they had the time, he needed to talk to Tanis and figure this puzzle out before it was too late. For all of them.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes