Broken Promises – Chapter 28

Chapter 28

Tanis sat by the bed at the edge of the old wooden rocker with his elbows on his knees, his face in his hands, exhausted. He had done everything he could to save the baby for nothing. The moment he had cut the umbilical cord, the squalling infant had vanished from his hands. Where he was relieved the abomination was gone, he was not sure how he was going to break the news to Kara when she woke. If she ever woke.

Three days ago the impossible happened. Kara’s mortal husband and one of her eternal mates stood in the same space and time as she did. The universe had warned him to stay away, but, like the others, the shock that Colin had been mere miles away and they had not sensed him had unsettled Tanis and he had misread the signs. Something they had paid dearly for.

Tanis had felt pain before, but what had slammed into them in that meadow was a kind of pain no words in any language could come close to describing. It was as if the moment he and Brynn touched Kara the universe exploded within her. Since then Tanis had used every means at his disposal to find her. It was small solace that her body still breathed when her soul, her essence, had vanished completely from all the realms of existence. Without nourishment, it would not be long until her body followed. Tanis shuddered at that thought. If the universe had to wait another two thousand years for them to re-emerge, the gods only knew what kind of havoc Malphas would wreak on it.

“Anything?” a quiet voice asked.

Tanis looked up to see Brynn standing in the doorway, his hands in his jeans pocket, his eyes just as exhausted as Tanis’s. The two of them should have never met, yet here they were. Both fighting for the same woman’s life that they desperately loved.

“No,” he sighed looking at Kara’s sleeping form. “I’m starting to fear she will never return to me…us,” he amended after a pause.

Brynn watched Tanis in silence for a moment. He understood the haunted look in the male’s eyes. He had held that look for many years, but since the meadow he now understood something he had not before. That his time with Kara had passed. While she still loved him, she had a very important job to do, and his job now was to protect their children so the universe continued to silently spin. Something he would have to learn to do without her. The thought brought a pang of sadness to his heart, but it was tempered with the knowledge that she was never far from them. Not really. As he watched Tanis gently take Kara’s hand in his, close his eyes and bow his head in concentration, Brynn knew the male was not feeling the same assurance.

Chris had explained to him that not only had Kara fled from the excruciating pain, but her soul was nowhere to be found. Not here on the planet or in the heavens. Even the universe was empty of her presence. She was simply gone. If that was so, then why was her body still breathing? There had to be something they were missing because the Kara he knew would never willingly leave those she loved behind. So, what were they missing? Better yet, who, or what, in the universe was strong enough to hide her from them?

A familiar voice at the front door talking with Chris caught Brynn’s attention, bringing him out of his unsettling thoughts. Frowning, he looked down the hall trying to place it. Once he did, the growl of anger that escaped his lips alerted Tanis that something was wrong.

“What is it?” Tanis asked looking up at Brynn.

“Aden,” Brynn growled. “You stay here. I’ll go see what he wants.”

Tanis stood as Brynn disappeared down the hall and walked to the open window that overlooked the front of the house. Nothing seemed amiss outside. No guards or ships in the field. It must only be Aden then. Tanis wondered if Chris had somehow called him even though they had expressly told him not too. It was puzzling since the wards around them should have dampened Chris’s powers as it did theirs. If not, the boy was far stronger than Tanis had given him credit for, and something to take a closer look at.

The voices downstairs began to rise as tempers did.

“You should go down there before Aden does something he will regret,” Chris said calmly from the doorway.

Tanis looked at the young man, his eyes narrowing in irritation. “We told you not to call him.”

“And I told you we needed him,” Chris responded as calmly as he could. The immortal’s stubbornness to see what was right in front of him was beginning to grate on his nerves, not to mention probably get them all killed. Ignoring Tanis’s glare, Chris continued. “The rules have changed, Tanis. Aden is a part of this whether you want to admit it or not. If you would take your head out of your ass long enough to understand it you would know this and remember,” he snapped his own temper rising.

“I am tired of your riddles, boy,” Tanis hissed striding across the room until he stood toe to toe with Chris. “You have one role to play in the game and that is to have children to make sure the line continues. You have far overstepped your boundaries. See that you don’t do it again.”

“If it means saving every known and unknown reality, then I will step where I damn well please,” Chris growled moving so they were chest to chest. Tanis was taken aback at the determination and strength in the boy’s voice. Very few males, let alone boys, dared to stand up to him like this. “What Malphas did to my mom was the last straw. Now more than ever Aden wants to destroy who he sees as his master. If you turn him out he will do one of two things. Take Mom with him and do everything in his power to make sure you and Caius will never find her or go back to try to kill Malphas. You do not understand the power that demon wields. Unless the four of you combine your powers, break the barriers that keep you weak, keep you from remembering and face him together you will lose.”

“Aden wants something he cannot have!”

“He already has her, Angel. It is you who refused to see that,” Chris snapped, his voice echoing.

Tanis blinked in surprise at the power behind the mortal’s voice. There was something foreign, some inflection of the speech, that was different from his normal tone. And why did he call him Angel? It did not sound like an endearment, but a name, or maybe a title. Watching as Chris closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm himself, Tanis wondered just who this boy really was.

Raised voices thick with anger floated through the open window. Aden and Brynn had moved the argument outside.

“Just go and keep them from killing each other,” Chris sighed waving the general direction of the window. “While my father may not be important to the continuation of this universe, he is important to me. I do not wish to see him killed because of your senseless jealousy.” Closing his eyes and turning he head away, Chris put his hand up to stop Tanis from saying whatever nasty retort he had to Chris’s command. “Just go,” he gritted out.

Clamping his mouth shut, Tanis glared at the boy before glancing down at Kara, his expression softening as he was unwilling to leave her alone.

“I will stay with her,” Chris promised.

After a moment’s hesitation, Tanis nodded then left the room. Chris waited until he could see all three males were outside arguing before turning back to his mother.

“It’s safe,” he whispered sitting down in Tanis’s vacant chair and taking her hand gently into his. Chris closed his eyes searching with his senses for his mother’s spirit. He felt it flicker on the edges of his consciousness. “Please come back to us. We need you. I need you.”

A tear ran down Chris’s cheek. He was so tired of having to be the adult in this fiasco. What he wanted more than ever is his mother to hold him like she did when he was a boy and tell him everything would be alright. That the monster under his bed was just a figment of his imagination. A child’s dream that he was far too old to believe in anymore. Now he knew the monster was very real, and if he did not somehow coax him mother back into the here and now, they were all doomed.

Chris opened his eyes when the hand he was holding gently squeezed his and was greeted by his mother’s warm smile.

“Mom,” he breathed throwing himself over the top of her and hugging her as best as he could.

Kara hesitated for a moment before she tightly wrapped her arms around him. They lay that way until they heard the screen door slam shut and someone take the stairs two at a time.

“That didn’t take long,” Chris smiled pulling away from Kara who smiled back. They looked to see Tanis standing in the doorway staring at her as if he thought he was seeing a ghost. Chris scrambled out of the way as Tanis rushed to the bed and pulled Kara into his arms.

“I thought I had lost you,” he breathed into her hair as they clung to each other.

“You almost did,” Kara answered sadly. “But she was very persuasive”

“She?” Tanis asked backing away so he could look Kara’s in the eyes.

“I have much to tell you.” She looked at Chris, her expression grim. “All of you.”

Chapter 27
Chapter 29

Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 27

Chapter 27

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.”

Chapter 26
Chapter 28

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 26

Chapter 26

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.

Chapter 25
Chapter 27

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 25

Chapter 25

There are advantages and disadvantages of living as long as time itself. You are able to watch as each planet it’s born, as it grows, matures, dies. Watch as the creatures on those select few who contain life evolve, as civilizations rise and fall only to pick themselves up to rise again a little stronger, and maybe a little wiser. Or turn into ash and dust. No one left to wonder what happened, no one left to mourn. Some of it still left wonder in his heart. A joy of life and love and the way the universe kept spinning on and on, no matter what the heavens threw at it. Others grew tiresome. The same mistakes being made over and over, never learning what it meant to just be.

What never grew old was watching the love of his existence enjoy each and every moment of her life. At least the quiet times. There had been very little to enjoy in this lifetime. Until now.

Tanis leaned his shoulder against the post of the wrap around deck, his arms crossed, he watched Kara walk around the backyard tending the flower beds humming to herself. He wished this peace could last. Unfortunately, it was only a respite from the hell they had been living these last six years. Not that there hadn’t been hard lives before. Nothing was ever sunshine and smiles all the time. If there weren’t hardships then one would never learn how to survive, how to overcome obstacles and move on. This time, though…. As he looked down at the newly stained stairs, a weariness that was bone dee[ washed over him. This time there had been no relief from the horrors and pain of being owned by a demon brought. Even in this seemingly pristine, beautiful, peaceful place Kara used to call home there really was no relief, because not more than a mile away was her mortal family, and every moment of every day they called to her. Begging her to come home. Not consciously of course. Tanis knew deep in his heart that they would never hurt her that way. But subconsciously, at that molecular level that bound a family together, the call was still there. What Tanis feared was she would answer that call and never return to him. Unfortunately, her mortal family were not the only ones calling to her.

Aden.

Tanis knew the boy had been there for Kara when she had no one. Knew from Kara that the binding of their souls the first time was so unexpected, so quick, that neither of them had time to realize what was happening until it was done. Six years, and three of those were spent far apart from each other. The pain must have been excruciating. Even though he knew their separation now was causing her pain, pain he was moderating as best he could, he did not want Aden here, reminding her that there was someone else in her life. Someone she loved just as much as she loved Tanis.

It was the one thing he and Caius, or the demon, were in agreement on. Aden must not be allowed to finish the ritual with Kara. The power those two radiated just standing next to each other without it was staggering. If they finished it….

Closing his eyes, Tanis took a deep breath and released it slowly. Opening them, they followed Kara once more. He knew power was only a small part of the reason they kept them apart. Even though Tanis had somewhat relaxed around her and Aden, allowed Aden to comfort her when he could not, understood that Aden was not trying to take her from him, Tanis was still jealous. He knew it was not a good emotion, but he could not help it. Especially after they had come home and found her tied Malphas’s bed, barely conscious, realizing what Malphas had done to her while they were away unable to help her. Especially when only Aden had….

Kara stood up, the roundness of her bulging belly making Tanis cringe. Reminding him that neither of them had been there when she needed them most. Images and the pain of that week still haunted his dreams. He did his best to hide it from her, but she knew him to well. And there was their link. The one that made it almost impossible to keep secrets from each other. Especially when emotions ran high. He was amazed by how well she was coping. With help from Aden, which Tanis still was unhappy about, she had been able to push the horror aside and concentrate on the child inside her instead. Tanis offered to terminate the pregnancy, but Kara had adamantly refused. She told him the baby was an innocent and she would not harm another innocent. Tanis did not bring it up again because he knew how she felt. He was tired of the torturing and killing too. During this time away, he hoped they could gain enough strength to finally break free of Malphas.

Preferably without Aden.

Although there was another worry. Something Tanis had mixed feelings about. It was only a matter of time before the Elders found them and forced the issue of destroying the abomination she carried. While he would be happy that the thing was gone, his fear was what Kara would do when that time came. Knowing her, she would fight to keep her child with everything she had. Since their existence was built around rebirth, Tanis had no doubts the Elders would not think twice of killing her to get to the child. After all, they would only be reborn two thousand years later to start the cycle all over again. The last thing Tanis wanted was to watch her die in his arms again.

It was that thought that confused him the most when it came to what Caius had done. Deep down, that selfish part of Tanis understood, even secretly prayed that whatever deal Caius had made with Malphas to keep the pain of watching Kara die from happening again would work. It was the cost that concerned him. An entire universe of innocent and not so innocent beings for their happiness. The price seemed far too high.

“You worry about things that are out of our control,” Kara frowned as she walked up to the front porch, stopping at the edge of the bottom stair to gaze up at him.

The post that Tanis was leaning against was at the top of a set of four stairs that held up the roof to a wraparound porch of the large house they currently resided in. Being no stranger to other cultures, he could admire the architecture of the two story farmhouse. It was always amazing how some planets could be so different, while others were almost identical. Take for instance the planet they were on now, Krynn, was very similar to the planet Kara had been born and raised on she called Earth. The way they lived, the buildings, the way people dressed, what they ate, the air they breathed, their speech. Yet there were certain things that were very different. Such as what they used for fuel, electricity. The deities they worshiped, some of the cultures and how they interacted. In some ways, Krynn was ahead of Earth when it came to living in harmony with each other. Tanis still had not figured out exactly how they attained their level of technology that worked in harmony with the land, not against it. Frowning, he figured he had plenty of time to figure it out.

The big difference between the two planets was that most of the creatures on Earth refused to see the magic in their world, while those of Krynn embraced it. Then again, neither planet had the metal or technology that this house now held.

In order to keep Kara and his child as safe as possible, Malpas had made sure the ordinary wooden farmhouse was re-enforced with the same metal that the starship had been made of. This way, if unseen forces that had their technology tried to break into the house they would have a harder time of it. He had also put in food replicators, lights that could be turned on and off with voice, and door and window coverings that would slam shut at a touch of a button, making the house a fortress. All the precautions made Tanis nervous. With their powers bound, there was very little they could do to protect themselves if someone decided to come for them. Supposable there were wards surrounding a large area to keep undesirables out, like Colin and his son. So aside from the elders, who else posed a danger to them? Hopefully it was all for nothing and they could live here in peace for a long while.

Soft fingers brushed his cheek, bringing him out of his thoughts. Startling, he turned to see Kara had moved up the stairs to stand next to him, her eyebrows scrunching with her frown. “What has you so worried you cannot keep in the here and now?”

“Nothing. Everything,” Tanis sighed. Turning so his back now rested on the post, he pulled Kara against him, reveling in the feel of her warmth in his arms. “The Elders will eventually find out about the child and they will come. I am afraid of what they will do to restore the balance.”

“I will not allow them to destroy this child,” Kara vowed pulling from his arms so she could look Tanis in the eyes. The determination in hers frightened him.

“I know, and that is what frightens me most,” Tanis responded gently, reaching out to take her hand in his. Looking down at them, one holding hers while the other traced back and forth across the back of hers. After a moment, he looked back into her eyes. “I will not lose you because of a child that is not ours. Kara, please,” he interrupted when her mouth opened and she took a breath to argue. “Hear me out.” Clamping her mouth shut in a straight unhappy line, she stayed quiet. Looking back down at their hands, Tanis took a moment to collect his thoughts. “I know all life is precious, even those of the demon realm. Each creature serves a purpose to keep the checks and balances in place.” He looked back up at her. “Have you considered that Malphas is not even from this universe. That he, somehow, broke through some barrier we did not even know existed between not realms, but realities?”

Kara’s frown returned, her eyes going distant as she thought over his words. “I have seen a room with the walls lined with shelves filled with glass orbs, all swirling with different colors.” She looked at Tanis, her confusion clearly written on her face. “I know this room, but I don’t know how I know it. All I know is there is something wrong within it, I just can’t see what.” She focused back on Tanis. “I feel as if we have been here before. Not on this world, or even in this reality, but some place…similar. It’s hard to explain.”

“Who is ‘we’?” Tanis frowned.

“You, Caius, Aden,” she hesitated, trying to remember what else she had seen in her dreams. Shaking her head in frustration, she closed her eyes, putting her hand to her forehead. “I can’t remember. All I know is the four of us have been together before.” She looked at Tanis, her eyes imploring him to finally believe her. “It’s always been the four of us,” she whispered.

His brow furrowed; Tanis fought to keep his temper. Kara’s insistence that Aden belonged with them, that he was a part of the balance of the universe was wearing. Yet, at the same time he knew she would not keep pushing the subject unless she absolutely believed what she said was true. Sighing, he reached out and gently pulled her back into his arms.

“I don’t want to fight, Kara. The day is beautiful, and I want to enjoy this peace while we have it,” he said kissing her hair.

Wrapping her arms around him, Kara relaxed into his embrace. “I don’t want to fight either,” she sighed. They stood like that, each enjoying the others nearness without the constant threat of Malphas coming upon them with some new horror.

Something in Kara’s mood shifted slightly. Another worry. No. More of a longing that had tormented her since they arrived on this planet. With mixed feelings, Tanis knew what it was that called to her. Although he had loved his wife from his home world, their relationship had been much shorter than Kara’s and Brynn’s, and much less traumatic. The horrors Kara faced before they had been reunited cemented a much stronger bond between them then Tanis was comfortable with. He knew his jealousy was unfounded because he knew in this instance Brynn was a part of the equation, but Brynn’s role was completed and now Kara was his. Tanis had no doubt this was why they were here and not on his own home planet. That constant anxiety of a choice that should never have to be made. Malphas seemed to relish it more when Kara was the one who suffered.

“What are you thinking?” he murmured even though he could easily read her thoughts.

Kara sighed, “I was wondering why Chris has not come to see me.”

“Maybe…Brynn,” he had a hard time saying his name without growling, “will not allow him. It has been six years. He may not even remember you.”

“He remembers,” Kara whispered. “He’s afraid it will hurt me. Hurt Brynn. Brynn was in a very dark place for a long time. Chris is afraid if he comes to see me it will put his father back there.” Kara hesitated for a moment; her eyebrows knitted together in a deep frown. She could feel the edge Brynn was balancing precariously on. Feel that, because she was there, it would take only one small push to send him over.

“Maybe you should go to them” Tanis suggest lightly, while at the same time the thought of her with them and the possible consequences worried him.

Kara could feel he was torn. Feel that he was afraid if she went to her mortal family that she may not come back.

“You may find that it isn’t as bad as you think. In fact, Chris is out in the field right now,” he finished.

Kara stepped back to look at Tanis. There was a small smile on his lips, but it did not reach his eyes. There was anxiety and a little fear in them. Kara cupped his face with her hands, looking into his eyes as she spoke.

“I love you,” she said putting as much emotion as she could into her words so he would believe her. “Nothing will ever change that.”

Tanis sighed, resting his forehead on hers. He knew she told him the truth, felt it from her, but it did not erase the uneasiness that once she saw Brynn again, she might decide the love she had for the father of her children was stronger.

“We’ve never gone back before Kara. We don’t know what will happen. On one hand, I want you to see your children. I can feel your need to do so. On the other….”

“You are afraid of what will happen when I see my husband,” Kara answered quietly. She felt Tanis stiffen at her use of the word husband. Kara knew if the roles were reversed she would feel the same way. Unsure, frighten, jealous. “I will not go if you do not want me to,” Kara assured him. “I will not do anything to cause you pain.”

“Everything is so different this time. So many rules have been broken. Too many people are involved. I fear it will come to no good.” He looked Kara in the eyes as he held her face gently in his hands. “This time I fear I will lose you forever,” his voice soft and full of anguish.

“I’m not going anywhere without you,” Kara swore tears escaping down her cheeks.

Tanis touched his forehead to hers. He knew she meant what she said, but like so many other times their life was not their own, and if the Gods found them and sought to destroy the child, he was afraid he would lose Kara in the process.

A feather light touch flitted across his mind. Knowing who it was he looked towards the field beyond the trees.

“Your son is waiting for you.”

“I know,” Kara sighed moving so her arms wrapped around him again. Tanis encircled his arms around her, holding her tightly to him for a moment before backing away.

“Go see him,” he urged brushing an errant lock of hair behind her ear.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he smiled. “He’s curious. He wants to know if what he has seen in his mind is the same with his eyes.” Tanis frowned as his eyes went back to the field. “He has seen much, I’m afraid.”

Kara shivered. This was one of the reasons she hesitated in meeting with Chris. Even though it was not Aden’s intention, Chris had seen everything he had shown Brynn. Would Chris understand, or would he think her weak and hate her?

“I don’t think so,” Tanis answered her thoughts. “He is wise beyond his years. He understands the war we have been waging and the causalities of that war. He doesn’t judge us. Go. Besides, I need to check in with our master,” he said the last word with disgust. “If you are not here then he cannot demand to see you.”

“I don’t know why he has us bother,” Kara spat. “He knows we can’t leave here. I can’t leave here,” she whispered the last.

For a moment she was lost in her memories of what seemed like another lifetime. Her life before she was reunited with Tanis. One she would not dare return to. “There are others out there who are just as dangerous, just as deadly, and who would stop at nothing to find me. Who know how to control me. I don’t wish to fall into their hands again.” Her anger had melted to fear as she spoke. “Especially when Malphas has bound me so tightly. I dare not defend myself for fear what it will do to the child.”

“Malphas does not want you in Colin’s hands any more than I do,” Tanis reminded.

Kara gave an involuntary shudder. “I’m not as sure of that as you are. There is so much hate, so much malice within him. His only goal is to punish those who have wronged him, and we are his tools. It was Malphas’s idea we come here. Caius wanted to keep me with him where he could protect me.”

“How do you know this?”

“I could see it in his eyes when we left him,” Kara answered softly. The pain in Caius’s eyes as the demon held him in place, forcing him to watch her being taken from him was something Kara would not soon forget. “Just for a moment, the demon allowed Caius to peek through. As if to torment him with the knowledge that I was being taken from him.”

“He chose to invite that bastard into himself. He brought this on all of us,” Tanis reminded angrily.

“Did he?” Kara asked looking up at him with a frown. “I think this game we are forced to play goes back much longer than you or I. Remember, it is Malphas who found Caius, not the other way around. There is something else behind the demon’s cruelty. Some unspoken vengeance.” She looked out at the view before them, towards where she knew her son was waiting for her.

Tanis watched the emotions play across Kara’s face. Frowning, he decided maybe it was time to stop being angry with Caius and find out exactly what was going on. The trick was to make sure the demon did not realize what he was doing. The last thing Tanis wanted to do was leave Kara defenseless because he pried too deeply into the forbidden.

“No more talk of demons or sadness. Go reunite with your son. He grows troubled because you don’t come.”

Tanis gave Kara a gently lingering kiss before disappearing into the house.

Kara stared at the empty doorway for a moment before turning and slowly walking down the stairs. She did want to see her son, but, like Tanis, she feared what the consequences might be in doing so. Taking a deep breath, she decided there was not much else she could do to make matters any worse. Optimism is not always your friend.

Chapter 24
Chapter 26

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 24

Chapter 24

Taking deep breaths, Brynn put his elbows on his knees and pushed his hair back with both hands as he tried to get a grip on what was reality and what were dreams.

All he saw, felt, had been so real. Real enough that he had to fight to hold back the tears as the emptiness in his chest threaten to engulf him. With great effort, he clawed his way up the slippery slope that lead into the darkness. An empty void he had lived in because living had been too painful. He refused to go back there and leave his children without a parent again. But if the pain was this real, then the dream must have been real too. A vision. Right?

Was Kara really coming home?

Slowly climbing out of bed, Brynn walked to the window that faced east where Aden said Kara was would be living soon. Closing his eyes, he searched for her as he had done many times in the last six years. As before he felt nothing. The chasm opened wider, darkness reaching for him. Promising an end to the pain. Of peace. So safe. So tempting. A lie.

Placing his hands on either side of the window, Brynn gently rested his forehead on the cool glass between them, holding onto the light with everything he had. There would be no peace until Kara once more stood by his side. Maybe what he thought was a vision had only been a dream. Just his fantasies making themselves known.

“Dad?” a very concerned, very real, voice quietly called. “Are you all right?”

So this was reality. Good to know. At the same time, Brynn cringed.

His children had a very unique power. They could ride other’s dreams. Where Chris had gain control of when and where, if the emotions of the dreamer was strong enough and their connection close, like father and son, Chris could be sucked in. Brynn prayed that had not been the case this time. He could barely digest what he had seen, he could not even imagine what those images would do to their son if he had seen them.

 “A bit early for you to be up on a Saturday morning, isn’t it?” Brynn asked putting a smile on his face as he turned towards his son.

Chris watched his father try to hide the turmoil he knew was inside him as he smiled his ‘everything is not all right, but I’m going to put up a good front’ smile. To add to the ‘my heart hasn’t just been ripped out of my chest again’ illusion, he began to haphazardly pull the blankets over the bed, acting as if nothing was wrong. Chris knew better. His father thought he hid it well, but the pain of losing Chris’s mother was always just under the surface. Having seen what Aden had shown his father, it was amazing his father was not drowning in his sorrow. Chris was having a hard enough time holding it together, too.

“What does Aden gain by showing you what she has been through?” Chris asked quietly, his eyes never leaving his father. When Brynn missed the hook he was hanging his shirt on, Chris knew for certain that he had not imagined Aden’s presences in the house. His mother was coming home.

Brynn rested his hand on the hook his shirt was on and hung his head, wishing for once he could keep a secret from his son.

Swallowing hard, Chris walked further into the room. “Once I realized what was going on, I shielded Jamie from the images. She’ll know something is wrong, but she won’t know why unless you tell her.”

Brynn smiled. “Since when can you hide anything from your sister?” Taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly, he finished getting ready for the day. Movement of any kind was better than the images he could not banish from his mind.

“When does Mom arrive?” Chris asked trying to feel excited about his mother finally coming home but unable to find any emotion aside from dread. Nothing good would come of any of this.

Brynn hesitated, trying to find the right words to explain to his son that his mother might not even know him. He turned towards Chris. “Chris, you have to understand. This prophecy,” his voice was bitter when he said that word. He always believed that one was in control of their destiny. That they could choose who they were, what they would be. Now, he was not so sure. Stamping down his anger, he started over. “Aden explained that once she and the others meet, the life they knew, their feelings and memories, would disappear. As if we never existed.”

“I heard what Aden said, Dad, and even if you don’t I trust him, I do. Mom will remember us,” Chris reminded. “We are a part of her. No force in the universe can erase that bond completely. It will just take time.” He hesitated for a moment, watching his father finish his morning routine of straightening the bed and tiding up his room. His father had had enough shocks for one day, so Chris was not sure if he should continue with what he knew or not. Deciding more information was better than not enough, he took a deep breath as he sat down on the bed. “You know, this has never happened before. One of the chosen coming back to their home planet.”

“How do you know that?” Brynn asked pulling a t-shirt from a dresser drawer. Chris gave him an exasperated look. How did he know anything? That was a question not even the gods knew the answer to. “Nevermind,” Brynn smiled closing the drawer. “So, what do you think will happen?”

“No one knows. Like I said, it’s never happened before. I am anxious to meet this Tanis though. Living as long as they have, the stories he could tell.”

Brynn’s expression darkened at the mention of Tanis’s name. Prophecy or no, preordained or not, this man took Kara from him. Becoming friends was not high on his priority list. Grabbing a pair of socks from the top drawer, he closed it a bit too sharply than sat on the bed next to Chris, pulling his socks on angrily.

Frowning, Chris moved off the bed to kneel in front of his father, who looked up at him in surprise.

“No matter what happens or how this plays out, we will get through this,” Chris promised, his quiet voice fervent with his conviction. “Together.  Like we always do.”

Smiling, Brynn wrapped his hand around the back of his son’s neck and pulled him forward until their foreheads touched.

“When did you become the adult?” he joked.

“I have my moments,” Chris smiled.

Kissing his forehead, Brynn let go of Chris and sat back. Time for self-doubt later. Now he needed to gather what strength he had and tell the rest of the family that their lives were about to be turned upside down. Again.

*    *    *

“And you believe him?” Gavin asked as he reached for the butter. As the oldest, Gavin had inherited the farm and moved in with his wife Mary Jo and their two daughters, Emma and Bridgett, after Uncle Cas had passed the year before. Another void that would be forever empty.

“You didn’t see the look in his eyes,” Brynn answered quietly, staring at his plate but not seeing it or the food he had hardly touched. His mind was seeing the dead defeated look in Kara’s eyes. Her pale skin. Her screams.

“I don’t understand. If she can’t remember us, then why return her here? It doesn’t make sense,” Delia frowned.

“They were never supposed to return to their families,” Chris explained. “It would be too painful for all involved, but by inviting the demon inside Caius has changed the rules. And there is the baby…,” he added with a shrug before taking another bite of his eggs. It was an important part of the story that needed to be told. If his father wanted to ignore the elephant in the room, then he would have to point it out.

Brynn closed his eyes, groaning inwardly. He had purposely left out the part about the baby, not wanting the rest of them to know the darker side of why Kara was returning. He opened his eyes to see Delia, Gavin and Mary Jo staring wide-eyed at him.

“Chris, maybe you should…,” Brynn started, knowing he would now have to explain it to his cousins but not wanting to do it in front of the younger kids.

“I’m not a child anymore, Dad,” Chris interrupted, his voice sad as he looked at his father, who wouldn’t meet his son’s eyes. “I know what the demon forced Mom to do. I saw everything very clearly. Including the images your mind refused to see in the beginning.”

 Brynn looked at him in horror. “No!” he whispered hoarsely.

“What did you see?” Gavin asked looking from Brynn’s horror stricken face to Chris’s ill expression and back.

“I also know one of the reasons he is hiding Mom here is because of the wards,” Chris continued ignoring his uncle’s question. There were enough people living with the horrors of his mother’s life. No need to add more. “It will keep her hidden from everyone, including the gods that they answer to. If they find out there is a child, they will do everything in their power to destroy it. Because Mom thinks she’s pregnant with Tanis’s child, someone she loves, that will in turn destroy her.”

There was a stunned silence. The way Chris had put into words what the danger was was so clinical it was hard to believe he was talking about his own mother. With a glance at each other that said they were in agreement, Mary Jo and Delia started to round up the younger kids and herded them outside. Only Jamie seemed to know what Chris’s words meant. It was in her eyes. That sad knowing that even though she was powerful in her own right, knew what was happening, there was nothing she could do to stop it. So to make the grown-ups more comfortable, she allowed herself to be herded outside with the younger kids. A few minutes later Delia came back in and sat down.

“And if they do find Kara?” Gavin asked unsure if any of them wanted to know the answer?

“It’s not a matter of if, but when they find her. And it won’t matter how old the child is or how much she tries to fight them. They will take it from her,” Chris answered looking at his uncle.

“And Kara?” Delia asked, her voice a soft whisper. “What will they do to her?’

Chris looked at his aunt for a few moments, gauging how he should answer her question. Out of everyone here, only he and his father understood his mother curse and how easily it could be used against her. To be able to feel what others felt. Have those feelings intertwined with yours, enhancing or confusing your own feelings. Have your body respond to another’s touch no matter how unwanted or repulsive. Used to gain an advantage over her, or to punish her.

There were times Chris cursed his own power. Cursed the knowledge that came with it. His whole life, the people who lived in their small community considered him strange, a freak, and it was the same with his sister. Where powers, or magic as some liked to call it, was not unusual on their planet, the kind of magic they wielded was unheard of. The ability to see into other’s minds, predict what the future held. To ride other’s dreams where their deepest darkest desires were hidden. Before he was old enough to know what he was seeing, he had blurted out more than once peoples’ deepest secrets he had learned by accidentally falling into their dreams. Not a stranger to nightmares concerning his mother, he was just happy he had realized what was going on and been able to shield Jamie from the worst of what Aden had shown his father. She did not need to know the horrors their mother went through. Even if she didn’t remember her.

“Chris?” he heard his father’s concerned voice breaking through his thoughts. It took him a moment to focus on him and realize he must have been lost in his thoughts for a while. “Are you all right?” Brynn asked putting his hand on his son’s shoulder as he looked at him with concern.

“I’m sorry,” Chris smiled. A smile that did not reach his eyes. “What was the question?”

“What will happen to your mother if these Gods find her?” Brynn asked dropping his hand.

“I don’t know. Something is different and they are afraid of what it all means. What it could do to the very fabric of the universe,” he answered gravely.

They were silent for a while, each lost in their own thoughts. If it hadn’t been for their past dealings with things unnatural they would not have been able to believe anything they had just been told. But they had. There was one more chilling thought that ran through their minds. With Kara here, it would only be a matter of time before Colin and Anthony realized she was no longer with Caius where she was better protected. Then things would get very interesting.

“Anything we decide now is mute. When Kara returns,” Brynn hesitated, swallowing down the overabundance of butterflies the thought of Kara coming home brought on. Standing, his chair screeching loudly along the hardwood floor, he reached for Chris’s empty plate. “When she returns we will see what happens and go from there.”

Gavin, Delia and Chris looked from Brynn, who had turned and headed for the sink, to each other. They knew Brynn was right. It was just the waiting for that time to come would seem long and torturous.

“You know,” Gavin said also standing with his plate in his hand. It was a signal for the others to begin clearing the table. “I could use some help with the tractor, Chris.” Winking at Delia who smiled she understood what he was doing back.

“Is it the same problem we fixed last time?” Chris asked frowning. They both reached the counter at the same time, placing their dishes on the counter next to the sink. “I thought we fixed that.”

“No. So far that one is holding. Come on and I’ll show you. This is the…,” Gavin’s voice disappeared as he and Chris walked outside, the door softly clicking shut behind them.

Smiling and shaking her head in exasperation, Delia grabbed some dishes and headed for the sink as Brynn turned on the water.

Unwillingly, Brynn’s eyes strayed out the window in the direction of where the house his wife would soon be living in with another man she supposedly loved more than him. She would be within walking distance physically, but mentally she may not know who he or their children were. Would not remember how much he loved her, needed her. How not having her with him left a chasm in his chest that tried to swallow him whole.

Closing his eyes, Brynn tried to block out the pain that threaten to overwhelm him. Placing his hands on the counter his arms straight, he bowed his head. Shaking with the effort to keep his tears under control, he slowly closed his hands into fists. He would not sink into the darkness! Damn it! A gentle hand slid onto his arm. He did not look up. He couldn’t. If he did the pain would overtake him.

“Brynn?” Delia’s concerned voice whispered.

He refused to answer her, afraid his voice would break and then he would break too.

“Oh honey,” she crooned sliding her arm around his shoulder as she put her head against his. “She will remember. I don’t think anyone could forget the kind of love you two shared.”

“That’s just it,” Brynn croaked. He forced himself to look into Delia’s eyes. She blinked at the pain she saw. “Even if she does it won’t matter. You didn’t see what I saw. Felt what I felt when she looked into his eyes. She belongs to Tanis now. There is no turning back from that kind of bond.” Taking a shuddering breath, he closed his eyes and turned his head away. Opening them, he once again stared at the window. “There is more,” he whispered. “I was not the only one she was ripped from.”

“What do you…?” Delia stopped in mid-sentence when she realized what Brynn was trying to say, her eyes widening in shock. “Aden,” she finished.

Brynn nodded. “But after all the pain, after the numbing loss of having her ripped from us caused, it was Aden she chose to bind herself to again. So you see,” he turned eyes to Delia that held so much anguish mixed with anger that Delia could barely hold his stare. “There is no room left for me.”

“I can’t believe that. You forget what you two had, still have, and a mother does not forget her children,” Delia said angrily.

Brynn looked back out the window not wanting to have any reason to hope. It would hurt too much when that hope was crushed by reality.

“You’ll see,” Delia added with confidence, her voice less angry. “Once she sees you and the kids, it will all come back.”

“But will it be enough?” Brynn whispered looking back at his cousin.

All she could do was stare back, unsure of the answer herself.

Chapter 23
Chapter 25

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 23

Chapter 23

Voices in the dark. One filled with anger, the other terror. Both too far away to understand clearly. Pushing through the darkness, Brynn tried to find the voices. There was something familiar about the one who was afraid. A female’s voice that haunted his dreams, fleeting as a distance memory. Memories cloaked in darkness.

Brynn was no stranger to darkness. He had slipped in and out of that darkness for many years, trying to hide from the pain. Trying to forget…her. Unfortunately, the light never lets the darkness rest, and he was forced to surface and remember that he was not the only one who had lost someone vital to their existence. That he did have something to live for. His children. Now he fought every day to stay in the light. Some days it was harder than others, and some nights when the nightmares haunted his dreams damn near impossible. Like tonight….

“How much more must you suffer before you heed my wishes?”

“You ask the impossible.”

“I only ask for what is mine!”

“What is yours? What you ask for has never been yours because it belongs to Aden therefore I cannot give it to you!”

Kara!

Brynn’s excitement that she was so close slipped away as he realized it was her voice that was fill with terror. Frowning, Brynn hurried closer. Who was Kara fighting with that would fill her with so much fear? Only two people came to mind and he did not want her near either one of them.

“Maybe I have been too lenient with you. Maybe I should take a page from your past, from before I found you and you begged me to save you from the bastards that abused you. Maybe I should and give you to one of my garrisons for a few hours. Remind Aden how the touch of a man, any man, fills you with hunger and lust. Then maybe he will see you for the worthless whore you are and sever your bond as I have commanded!”

Brynn froze in his tracks. What was he talking about? He could mean what those words suggested. He wouldn’t dare….

“No,” Kara breathed. “Please, my lord. I beg of you. Don’t do this! We cannot give you what you want.”

Shapes began to take form. Misty, watery, showing Kara’s face full of terror as she pleaded for mercy before drifting away. Another face, one he had never seen, old, scarred with age, twisted in fury. The more Brynn tried to see the images the quicker they drifted away, only to become suddenly crystal clear.

“It’s the ‘we’ in that sentence that displeases me,” the ancient man snarled slowly rising off his throne, his eyes narrowed on Kara with rage. “There should be no we!” He began descending the steps of the dais, one after one, his voice raising as his rage did. “There should only be Aden and then you. You do not belong to him. You belong to ME!” he roared.

The form slipped away into mist only to reform to the left of Brynn with the ancient man’s lips close to Kara’s ears, his voice a hoarse whisper. Kara stood, her body trembling, the color draining from her face, her lips quivering as tears streamed down her cheeks.

“Break the bond, or so help me gods I will carry out my threat,” he hissed.

The movement was so slight that Brynn barely saw it, but the expression on Kara’s face was enough. She would not obey this man’s command. She would not break her bond with Aden.

“Very well,” the man said coldly.

Brynn’s worst fears had come to life. That what he had learned six years ago and refused to believe was true. That Kara did love Aden. Somehow it was far worse than the horror the ancient man threatened to force on her.

Gasping for air, he tried to break the nightmare, but something outside of himself would not let him go. Something…or someone, wanted him to see. Desperately looking around the darkness for an escape, half formed images danced before his eyes. Kara’s screams, men’s laughter, taunts, moans of pleasure, the sharp sound of leather against skin, of skin against skin. The sounds told a story the eyes refused to see and the mind refused to acknowledge.

Then there was silence.

His heart racing, Brynn realized he had fallen to his knees, his hands over his ears trying to block what he was hearing. Even so, the sudden silence left his ears ringing.

Before him, a picture appeared of a strange man on hands and knees looking up with loathing at the ancient man who stood on the dais. Somehow he knew the younger one was named Tanis and the older one was Caius.

“You bastard!” Tanis snarled.

There was a collective gasp throughout the room.

“Hello, brother,” Caius, who Brynn realized must be the emperor Kara had talked about sneered.

“You are no brother of mine,” Tanis sneered back, pushing himself to his knees and swaying. “Not after what you did to her.”

Caius shrugged. “I did what I had to do to win.”

“It has never been a competition,” Tanis yelled pushing to his feet. Staggering a few steps forward he caught himself on a nearby metal post.

“Hasn’t it been?” Caius asked, his anger leaking into this voice. “We awaken. We vie for her affections and she chooses. Then the battle begins. It has always been about competition. Who is the strongest, the most willing to fight for her, to die for her.”

“Which is why we are still fighting,” Tanis hissed, wincing in pain. Gasping, he blinked his eyes, as if to clear his vision. “She loves us both.”

“Yet time and time again she chooses you because of a lie.”

“I never lied to either of you,” Tanis snapped.

“True, but you never corrected it either,” Caius countered.

“And when she chose you. Did you tell her the truth? All of it? Or did you only tell her the parts that would draw her to you?” Tanis asked taking a step towards the dais.

“Enough of this,” Caius snapped, waving a hand in dismissal. “Finish what has been started so we can finally end it.”

“I will not allow you dig your claws into her any further,” Tanis swore standing his ground.

“She is already mine,” Caius snarled, slipping forward on his throne as if he wanted to stand then thought better of it.

The scene jumped and Tanis was lying on top of Kara on the throne room floor, a smile on his face. Above them Caius breathes, “It is done.”

When Kara’s eyes opened and locked with Tanis’s, Brynn felt as if his soul was being ripped in two. Clutching his chest, he doubled over, the pain radiating throughout his body excruciating. It was the same feeling he had had six years ago when his entire world fell apart. When he felt Kara’s presence violently ripped from him, leaving him gasping on the floor in the fetal position feeling utterly empty.

The world had gone into darkness after that. An entire year passed before Brynn was able to claw his way back into the light. An entire year his children had been without either of their parents. All this time he never knew why Kara had disappeared from him so completely. Part of him feared she was dead. Now that he had the truth, Brynn was not so sure believing she was dead was not easier.

“I did not realize watching this would still affect you,” a voice said beside him. Brynn looked up to see Aden standing next to him watching the scene before them, his own pain etched on his face. “It was so long ago,” Aden whispered.

“Why are you here?” Brynn gasped still unable to catch his breath. “Why are you showing me this?”

“Because six years ago I promised I would come back and explain why Kara was taken from you,” Aden answered as he continued to stare at the frozen scene before him.

“Is that the man Chris was talking about? The one Kara was destined to be with?” Brynn asked as he staggered to his feet.

“One of them. Recently I found out it is far more complicated. According to prophecy, Tanis is one-third of what keeps the universe from spinning into chaos and ruin. Kara and the emperor, Caius, are the other two. I,” he hesitated, the anger and pain once again written plainly on his face. “I am either their salvation, or their doom.”

“What do you mean doom?” Brynn asked.

Aden explained the prophecy. When he was done, Brynn was staring at the frozen scene before him as Tanis and Kara looked into each other’s eyes as if no one else existed.

“I still don’t understand your part in this,” Brynn said after a moment of digesting what Aden had told him. “You said you are The Catalyst. What does that even mean?”

“To be honest, I’m not completely sure myself,” Aden answered wearily. He looked at Brynn’s confused expression and came up with no other answer to give him. He was so tired of all the pain, all the unreasonable demands that he was expected to meet. Of being forced away from Kara time and time again when his very soul was aching to touch her, to finish the ritual. Closing his eyes, he swayed on his feet, just the thought of what he and Kara had been long denied sweeping through his body, pulling at what little strength he had left. He was a shell of the man he used to be both physically and mentally. Kara was not much better, but then again she had Tanis to help her. Caius… Gritting his teeth as he clenched his hands, Aden shoved the rage that name conjured down where it did not cause anymore pain.

“Not even the emperor is who I thought he was,” Aden whispered, his eyes still closed. “Everything I knew was a lie.” Looking once more at the picture frozen before them. “Everything except her,” he whispered with a desperation that puzzled Brynn.

“So your emperor, Caius, is connected to Kara and this Tanis?” Brynn asked not wanting to delve any further into Aden’s feeling for his wife.

Aden nodded. “They were created at the same time and are all a part of each other. Kara is the Key. Tanis the light while Caius is the dark. Even though legends say they compete for Kara’s affections, the truth is they live in harmony together with one exception. There was a lie put into place from the very beginning that Kara knows nothing about. They have been able to keep it from her, but now that Caius has broken the one rule that was never to be broken in order to keep the balance, everything is beginning to unravel.”

“What rule? What lie?”

“The lie I don’t know. They keep it closely guarded. The rule is that when one of the three dies, the others would soon follow. Somehow, in the last reincarnation, Caius found a way to stay alive when Kara and Tanis passed away. An outside influence that was not meant to be involved. Then he waited two thousand years for them to return, gathering his strength, learning the intricacies of the prophecy, and more important, what the Gods were not telling them.

“Caius kept his searching for answers and any sign of Kara or Tanis re-emerging secret as he started to methodically gain power and take over one galaxy after another. Unfortunately, he was not careful enough. A small time smuggler had started asking too many questions. We thought we had eliminated her, but she survived a crash landing on a small backwards planet that thought her to be a goddess because of all the technology at her disposal. Once she had gained the title of Queen, Maura contacted one of her most trusted friends and called in a favor. He was to find Kara before Caius did and bring her back so Maura could use her power to take revenge on Caius.”

“Colin,” Brynn breathed.

Aden nodded. “A thief is a thief and Colin ended up betraying Maura by keeping Kara for himself, hoping to use her for his own gains. After years in his tender care, Colin decided to go back and use Kara against Maura. By then Caius heard of Colin’s pet sorcerous who could bend others to her will with the force of her mind, foresee the future, and the one special trait that Colin repeatedly used against Kara. That she could never say no to another’s touch. The time was right and there were too many similarities for Caius to ignore.

“Taking Kara from Colin was not an issue. Reaching him before he made it to his home planet was, because it was the same planet Caius knew Tanis resided. If Kara met Tanis before he had control of her, then all his careful planning, his sacrifices, would be for nothing. So he intercepted them and took her. Then he proceeded to bind her to him.”

“Bind her to him?” Brynn asked. Aside from the prophecy and who this Caius was, most of this was nothing new to him, but Kara had never said anything about being bound to Caius. As he watched Aden try to figure out a way to explain it, he could see the man was not happy about what Caius had done.

“Do you remember the necklace I put on Kara when I was here last?”

“Yes.”

“It is a slaves’ necklace. Very powerful, very old. Whoever puts it on you owns you, body and soul. They are also the only one who can take it off.”

“But you put it on Kara. Wouldn’t that mean she is yours?”

“Caius found a way around that small obstacle. He figured out how to change its power so it only answered to him. What it does is binds Kara with spells that are threaded throughout her body. If she tries to use her powers against Caius or any of his people, her power will rebound back onto her ten times over. If Tanis or…I try to hurt any of them, she will pay the price in excruciating agony. Caius can also use the necklace’s power to punish her. Sending different levels of pain throughout her body for any length of time he wishes. Shortly after we arrived back on the ship, Caius demanded that Kara break the bond between us. An impossibility he would not accept. Because she refused she spent two weeks immersed in agony.”

Brynn did not like Aden’s tone. It was as if Kara’s pain were his fault. Narrowing his eyes, Brynn asked the question he thought he already knew the answer to. “Why so long?”

To his surprise Aden looked directly into his eyes, but they were not defiant. On the contrary, there was so much anguish in them Brynn had a hard time holding his gaze. With visible effort, Aden pulled his emotions in, his face once again a mask of control.

“I tried to help her. I would go in to her cell and give her an hour or two without pain so she could sleep. Our master found out.”

The screen once again came alive.

Aden was in a cell with Kara, holding her to him, tears coursing down his face. Kara’s eyes were closed, her hands wrapped tightly around his arms, whimpering. Suddenly she screamed with such agony Brynn cringed, stepping back, away from the ear piercing sound. In the picture Aden tried desperately to hold her as her back arched, her arms and legs tense.

“Stop! I’ll to anything you want, just…please…stop this!” Aden yelled into the room.

Kara’s screams stopped and she fell limp in his arms, gasping. He immediately pulled her to him, desperately holding her.

“You know what you must do,” a voice hissed throughout the room.

Aden’s hold on Kara tightened as he buried his face into her neck.

“I can’t. You know I can’t,” Aden agonized whispered answered.

“Then it continues,” the emotionless voice growled.

The screen went black. The only light came from a single unseen source directly above them, shinning down in a large circle. Everything outside that circle was complete and utter darkness.

“He bound my powers so I could not help her. I don’t know how long I held her as she screamed, hours, days, before he dragged me to my room and locked me in, but I still felt every second of her agony. Knowing the entire time she was being punished because I dared to help her. Because I dared to…love her,” Aden whispered the last as if was something so precious, to speak it aloud was to commit blasphemy.

Brynn stiffened. He knew Aden had feelings for his wife, but to have them voiced aloud and with such emotion. “If you love her so much, why didn’t you let her go?” he ground out.

Aden looked at Brynn once again. “Because the moment I looked into her eyes, our souls bound themselves to each other. I could no more let her go than I could cut out my own heart, or hers. Caius broke me that day. Then when he brought Tanis to the ship….”

“It felt as if your soul was being ripped from you,” Brynn finished.

Aden nodded. “Caius already had Kara under his control. Tanis was supposed to have been broken before he was brought to the ship, but he proved to be more resistant.”

More scenes flashed before Brynn of various means Caius had taken in an attempt to break Tanis. All of them causing Kara more pain.

“If he was supposed to love her as you say, then why did he allow this to go on for so long? Why didn’t he give Caius what he wanted to stop her suffering? Or try to escape?” Brynn asked, tears streaming down his face as he watched his wife writhing in agony from some unseen force while Tanis and Aden watched helpless to save her. This was the least of the horrors that flashed before him. He turned to Aden and added angrily, “Why didn’t you?”

Aden turned to him with haunted eyes. “We did try to escape, and every time we were punished even more severely than the last. But you must understand something. When Kara and Tanis became one, it was for Good. Where there is Good there must also be Evil to balance it. Caius is that Evil. Or at least the demon he invited into his soul is.

“Demon?”

“A force far stronger than we are, and it wants Kara so he can control us all. For that to happen he needs to bond with Kara, but she kept that from happening when she reconnected our bond. Caius, the real Caius, has been too afraid to finish his part of an age old ritual because the demon may take advantage of the small window of opportunity to bond with Kara itself.”

Shaking his head, Brynn turned and walked a few steps away, his hands on his hips. “This is all too confusing,” he finally said turning back to Aden. “Your bond with Kara was broken and she reconnected it? Why?”

Aden just looked at Brynn. It was a look that left no words left between them.

“I don’t believe that once free of you, she would want to disrupt the natural order of the universe because of your feelings. I was married to her. With her every day until she was taken from me. I know Kara is an empath. That she feels what others feel, and sometimes she cannot differentiate between what she is feeling and what the one touching her is feeling. I also know she can control that part of her curse unless she is weakened down by someone who is stronger than her psychically. Like you were. No matter how you try to justify her feeling for you, according to your prophecy you were never a part of this…mess.” He said the last with a fair amount of disgust because that was exactly what it was. A colossal mess because some of the players could not abide by the rules. “And I don’t believe you are now.”

Aden’s smile was not friendly. “You are all the same. Not wanting to see the truth when it slaps you in the face because it is not what you want.” He stepped closer to Brynn, that rage that he had tamped down early rising to the surface. “I am tired of sanctimonious bastards telling me what I know is true in my heart,” he slapped his chest. “It is not my feelings that Kara is responding to, but her own. She knows the truth. That I am a part of this mess. That I am a part of her.”

“I am her husband…,” Brynn started, stepping forward.

“That does not mean you own her!” Aden yelled moving so he was close enough to that if he swung he would hit Brynn. “What you three keep forgetting is that you do not own her, therefore you cannot tell her what she should do, how she should feel. Kara is the key to everything. If anything, she owns us.”

The silence was filled with heavy breathing as both males did their best to reign in their tempers. Aden was the first to break the long silence.

“I did not come here to fight with you,” he said as calmly as he could. Stepping back, he turned to the side, knowing that looking at one of the males who would keep him from his heart would not help keep his fragile control. “I came here to warn you.”

“What do you mean?” Brynn asked his anger dimming at the possible new threat.

“First, you need to see more to understand.” Waving his hand in front of the picture, it began to move forward, faster and faster. As if Aden had hit fast forward on a movie. He continued his explanation as the pictures flew by. “We would do our best to not give the demon cause to hurt Kara, but it always seemed to find a reason to punish her for something either I or Tanis did. It was not long after that Tanis finally shattered, and now the demon controls four of the most power beings in the universe outside of the Gods themselves. With that power, it is waging a war against all the known races, and it is winning.”

The pictures slowed until they began to switch from one battle to another. Brutal bloody wars being fought at places Brynn had never seen before, races he never knew existed. Of the emperor standing with Tanis and Kara slightly behind him to one side before thousands upon thousands of soldiers, telling them of the worlds they would conquer. Of people on their knees, heads pressed to floor before them chanting something Brynn could not make out.

They stopped on a scene where Caius suddenly pointed to someone, angrily shouting. While Aden and Tanis watched anxiously, Kara stepped forward, raising her hand before her. The helpless man rose into the air screaming in agony. Her face held no emotion as she tortured the man floating before her. It was a few minutes before Caius motioned slightly with his hand and Kara flung her arm to the side. The man flew across the room, crashing into the stone wall with a sickening thud.

Brynn looked into Kara eyes, unwilling to believe the woman he knew, no matter what changes Aden claimed she had gone through, would willingly hurt someone like that. What he saw twisted his heart. Her eyes were dead. As if there was no joy left in a world. He had seen this look many years before, when Colin had beaten her down so far she had almost given up on living. He watched as Kara returned to her place next to Tanis, staring out over the crowd’s heads as if they were not there. Tanis looked at her with a small frown, yet his eyes were just as dead Kara’s. Just as empty.

“We hate going to these assemblies,” Aden said breaking into Brynn’s thoughts. Brynn looked at Aden as he watched Kara with an unreadable expression on his face. “When we return to the ship, Kara cries herself to sleep.”

“How would you know this?” Brynn asked his eyes narrowing.

“Like you once could, I can feel her pain,” Aden answered his voice and eyes far away, as if his mind was on some distant memory. He closed his eyes, his hands going to his face, rubbing it. He then shook his head as if he was trying to shake a memory away and focused back on Brynn, his expression once again empty. “The pain of having her soul ripped from me almost killed me. Not being able to finish the ritual is slowly killing us both.”

“What ritual?” Brynn asked suspiciously.

“You know which one,” Aden said, his eyes blazing with anger for a moment before returning to their emptiness.

Yes, Brynn did know. He was not sure how he knew, but deep down in that place that knew everything Aden had told him about the prophecy was true knew exactly what Aden was talking about.

“Caius and Tanis have kept us apart, or at least has never allowed us to be alone these last six years. One is too jealous, the other fearful of what would happen once we do finish it. What it would mean. All it has done is weaken us further and allowed the demon to dig it’s claws in to Kara deeper.”

“On this I can agree with them,” Brynn muttered angrily. “I have told you time and time again, Kara does not belong to you.”

Aden’s eyes flashed dangerously. “What you all seem to keep forgetting is when I was lying on the floor, shattered, utterly alone and empty, it was Kara who reached out to me. That she was the one who reestablished our connection, bound us far more tightly together than even I thought possible.”

Brynn stared at Aden, not wanting to hear his words. Kara did not love this dark man before him. She couldn’t. “You told me the prophecy spoke of a mate that she had children with, me, and the two she is bound to for eternity, which are Caius and Tanis. You have never mentioned a third.”

“That’s not quite true. There was nothing about a fourth,” Aden corrected. “As I told you early, I have been reading some of the scrolls Caius has collected over the years. Obscure writings that tell of a fourth, a catalyst that will bring about a new beginning or the universe’s doom. It is a key point in time that must happen in at a certain place and time. That time is coming and the demon inside Caius grew restless because he had yet been able to bond with Kara. We have all fought him, managed to keep one step ahead of him, until now.”

Rubbing his face with his hands, Brynn turned away from Aden. Everything he was telling him was becoming too much. Locking his fingers on the stop of his head, he knew none of this mattered to him except that Kara was suffering and there did not seem to be anything he could do to stop it. He turned to face Aden, again.

“I’ve already asked you this once. Now I need an answer. Why are you here? Why are you telling me all this?” his frustration and pain showing through his anger.

“Because Kara will be coming back to this place, but she will not be coming back to you,” Aden answered, his voice once again monotone.

Whatever the reason Kara was coming home, it did not please Aden.

“I don’t understand,” Brynn frowned.

“Seven months ago, the demon sent Tanis and I on a scouting trip. The trip would take ten days. Four days there, two days to scout then the trip home. In addition, the distance would take a toll on all of us. We cannot be apart from Kara for any length of time or we weaken and it’s physically painful for all of us. The demon said he was separating us because we needed to be reminded of our place in his world. There was nothing we had done, but we couldn’t argue with him or the punishment would be far worse. On the sixth day, Tanis collapsed and I felt a wrenching so deep it brought me to my knees. Something was happening to Kara, and whatever it was it was not good.” Aden words cut off as if he was being strangled. Abruptly he turned away from Brynn.

“What happened?” Brynn demanded. It seemed like eternity before Aden spoke again.

“When we returned and we found out what he had done, I went to Caius intent on killing him. Instead, he decided I needed to know every detail, every horror mentally and physically Kara went through when we were not there to stop it.” He waved his hand over the blackness that was before them. “As a result, I have a detailed description of what he did to her. I will not show all of it to you. I don’t want you to suffer as I have with these images, and Kara would not want you to know the horrors she suffered.”

The picture started out fuzzy then cleared to show a sparsely decorated bedroom. In the middle of the bed lay Kara sleeping peacefully. The door slid open and three men burst into the room, tearing her from her bed. They dragged her down the hall into another bedroom throwing her to her hands and knees on the floor.

“Just where you belong,” a deep masculine voice purred. “On your knees before me.”

A man so handsome he could be called beautiful walked into the room from a side door. His shoulder length black hair, tan skin, chiseled features, well-toned muscles radiated power. Brynn amended that thought. Radiated power and sex. Who he realized with a start was Caius wore an open black silk robe with matching pants. A true God in human form. Maybe that was why his voice sounded as if it echoed. As if there was another voice over laying the first. Brynn remembered what Aden and said and knew it was not a god that stood before Kara, but a demon.

Fear stabbed through Brynn as he looked over at Kara who was still on her knees but sitting up, her thin negligee doing nothing to hide her body. Brynn gasped at the difference in her. Her features were regal, her auburn hair and pale skin practically glowed, but as Brynn looked closer he could see lines etched around her eyes and mouth. Even though she hid it well, she was in a lot of pain. Brynn realized that she would not lower herself show weakness in front of Caius, even though he could see it cost her dearly. As she sat there, her expression was defiant.

“Go to hell,” Kara spat.

“Been there, done that,” the demon said nonchalantly as he walked over to pour himself a drink at a nearby table. “And believe me when I say it’s highly overrated. However, I didn’t invite you to talk about vacation destinations. I have something much more…pleasurable to discuss with you.”

Kara stiffened. “I have told you. I have no interest in lying in your bed, demon.”

“No? I beg to differ,” the demon said moving to stand in front of her. Kara refused to look up at him. Instead she looked to the side, her eyes fixed on something Brynn could not see. What he could see was the pain being replaced with fear. “You’re weak without your lovers, in constant pain.” He squatted down in front of her. “I want to only give you a few hours of peace.” Gently he cupped her cheek turning her eyes to his. As soon as they locked Kara’s body visibly relaxed. “Now, isn’t that better?” the demon whispered his eyes moving to her lips.

“That is not all you want from me,” she whispered the fear still in her voice, “and I will not freely give it to you.”

“No, I suppose not. But it is not your soul I am after today. It is your body.”

Kara tightly closed her eyes as she struggled against some unseen force. The demon put his other hand on the other side of her face holding her in place, his eyes never leaving her face, his concentration deepening.

“Get out of my head,” she gritted through her teeth.

“You cannot fight me forever, Kara. Give in to what you know you crave. Give in to me.”

“Never!” she hissed. “You may hold Caius prison, wear his image as your own, but I know who you are. What you are. I will never give you what you want, Malphas,” she growled, opening her eyes to glare at him. It was a mistake. Very briefly Caius’s eyes flashed red and another image superimposed itself over his. Hissing not unlike a cat hisses at something that frightens it, Kara broke free of the demon’s grip, falling backwards.

“How do you know my name,” he hissed. Kara refused to answer, instead glaring defiantly at Malphas, careful to not make eye contact. “Nevermind how you know,” Malphas said waving his hand in dismissal. “It will not change what will happen today. They thwarted me once. I will not allow them to do it again. Not when I am so close to victory.”

“What are you talking about?” Kara gasped pushing herself unsteadily to her feet.

“A war that has been waging long before this universe was created. A decision that has hundreds of thousands of chances to be made but had never been given. Of gods and goddesses playing with the very fabric of life as if it were some trivial toy. Of lies and deceit and callousness. I plan to end it all and bring peace from chaos one last time with the making of a single soul. With our child’s innocence.”

“Again, I have no clue what you are talking about.” Clearly Malphas had lost his mind. Then two words registered, and Kara’s eyes widen in horror. “Our child? We don’t have a child. Even if I wanted to, the body you inhabit and I could never have children. It is forbidden.”

Malphas smiled as he slowly walked forward as Kara walked backwards until she hit the wall. “My dear naïve Kara. There is much you do not know. A whole other prophecy has been played out before and must be played out again.” His eyes flashed red, telling Kara that the next words were not from the male she knew, but from some ancient being thought long banish, “And this time, I will win.”

Pinning her to the wall with his body, Caius caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers, gazing into her frighten eyes. “In the next five days, I will take you in ways you have never dreamed of. The pleasure of my love making will be…excruciating. Only when you are with child will I cease, after which I will hide you away until our child is born. You will remain hidden where the others who wish to harm us cannot touch either of you. When he is of age, when he has been properly trained and can defend himself from the Gods, we will bring him into the light and end the endless cycle of truth and lies.”

Suddenly he was savagely kissing her. Kara tried to fight him, but he was too strong. Finally he backed away, allowing her to breathe.

“Stay out of my head, demon from hell!” she gritted out once again, tightly closing her eyes as if in pain.

“We can do this the hard way or the easy way, Kara. Let me in and these next few days will be far more pleasant for you.”

“Never!” she spat.

Sighing, Malphas took a step backwards. “Have it your way.”

In a flash Kara was lying on the king size bed with her hands tied above her head.

“There have been many nights I dreamed of taking you in front of Tanis while he was helpless to stop me. Regretted not doing it more the day Selene interfered. Now you are too weak to fight me, and he is thousands of miles away unable to help you.” Allowing his robe to slide down his arms to pool on the floor, he climbed onto the bed until he was on all fours above her. “You are so beautiful,” he whispered, his eyes traveling down her body.

There was a difference in his voice. A gentleness that did not belong to the demon who had been there a moment before.

“Caius?” Kara whispered hopefully.

The eyes that moved to stare into hers will filled with regret. “I am sorry,” Caius whispered. “For everything I have done, all the pain I have caused you because of my selfish desire never to see you die in our arms again. All the pain I will cause because I am not strong enough to stop him. I was never strong enough….”

Caius’s head bowed, his back arched, teeth gritting, body tense, fighting some unseen force. With great effort, he looked back into Kara’s eyes and breathed, “I love you.”

Flinging his head back, the demon’s voice echoed around the room as it roared in rage. When he looked down at Kara, his teeth bared, his eyes were glowing red, she gasped.

“No!” Malphas hissed. “She is MINE!”

Brynn stared in horror, unable to take his eyes off the screen in front of him as Malphas spent the next five days raping Kara. Some of the things he did to her, he used on her, would haunt Brynn for the rest of his life, and Aden said he was not going to show him the worst of it. Brynn could not imagine it anything viler than what was playing before his eyes. Although the worst for Brynn was that even though she fought him with everything she had, in the end Kara was begging the demon not to stop.

When Tanis and Aden finally returned they found Kara unconscious and chained on the bed naked, bruised and bloody. Once they returned to the safety of her and Tanis’s room, Aden went to find Caius to kill him only to be brought to his knees and forced to relive everything Kara had gone through in the last five days, over and over until he lay huddled on the floor, tears streaming down his face, a broken man.

Mercifully the screen when black.

Brynn found himself on his knees again, gasping for air.

“I want you to remember Kara fought the demon for as long as she could before he finally broke through her defenses. Kara wanting the pain, wanting Malphas was a product of his feelings. She just could not differentiate her revulsion from his lust.”

“Is she,” Brynn swallowed hard, the need to vomit strong, “is she…?”

“Pregnant? Yes. Did demon bond with her? No. It seems he has decided on a new course to reach his goal.”

Brynn looked up at Aden. The way he had said yes. There had been no emotion, yet there was a strain that spoke volumes. Aden was beyond furious at what happened, at the result, but there was nothing anyone could do about it. Malphas wanted a child and that is what he got. Now he would do anything to protect it. The no was said with such relief it grated down Brynn’s spine. What right did this man have to put a claim on his wife?

“Thankfully Kara has little or no memory of what happened to her. She thinks the child belongs to Tanis. To keep her sanity in tack we have fostered this idea. If she knew the truth,” Aden swallowed hard before whispering, “she would not survive the guilt. Caius broke the rules in an attempt to end a cycle that has been in play for far longer than even we realize. Now we must deal with the consequences and try to figure out how to live with the outcome. Since the demon wants this child and is willing to do anything to assure it birth, we were able to convince it to allow Kara to finish her last trimester somewhere away from the tension in the ship and where his enemies would not find her. So Malphas is hiding her here.”

Brynn’s heart beat faster at the thought of Kara coming home. He had never thought to see her again. Worried about their children growing up without knowing their mother. Now, maybe there was a chance. She could see how big Jamie had become; see what her powers have developed into. See the bright young man Chris had grown to be.

As Brynn looked up at Aden, his smile slowly slid from this face. Aden’s expression was sad and regretful. Then Brynn remembered what he had told him. Kara was a different person. She belonged to a fate she had no control over and her past life, past loves, were a distant memory to her. The thought of having her so close but inaccessible would be torture, for both of them.

“Why here?” Brynn asked climbing to his feet. “There must be hundreds of other places he could put her that would not be so painful for all of us.”

“This is a demon we are talking about. A being that thrives on chaos, on pain. It knows no other way. Besides, can you think of no better place to put Kara so she can bear his bastard child? This was her home, a place where she felt safe from outside harm, and it is where you are. I don’t care what the prophecy says, I don’t believe she has forgotten about you or her life here. Not completely. Having you and her children around her with Tanis at her side will bring her pain knowing she was betraying someone she loves. To the demon’s way of thinking, this is the perfect place. She will be at ease being home, yet tortured because she is at home.”

Brynn turned away as he took deep breaths trying to calm himself down. Hands on his hips, he closed his eyes and tilted his head back. How as he going to explain this to everyone? People would ask questions, spread rumors, and he had no idea how to explain why his wife, who had been missing for over six years, had come back with another man and pregnant.

Brynn pushed out the images he has seen of what Malphas had forced on her. It made him sick to think she went through something that horrendous. The one question he did not know the answer too was how he should deal with Tanis. Tanis was a different than the others. Kara and Brynn had been soul mates up until he had come into the picture, and Brynn was having a hard time coming to terms with the fact Tanis resided in his place in Kara’s heart. He held an unbreakable bond with her that had lasted eons. And the connection she seemed to have with Aden. A connection that should not be there. This entire nightmare must be tearing her apart.

“Your master is truly evil,” Brynn said quietly not turning to face Aden but instead staring out into the blackness.

“You have no idea,” Aden agreed just as quietly. “This child will be made of evil, born from an evil act. I believe Malphas will hide them until the child is old enough so that he can possess the child much like he possesses Caius. Until then, they will be staying at a farm within the wards Caius had set up previously in order to protect her from those still searching for her,” he finished.

Brynn turned to him in surprise. “There was just a farm sold and renovated a few months ago not far…from…here,” his voice trailed off as he now realized how close Kara would really be. Aden nodded his head slightly.

“I will leave it up to you whether or not to contact her, but I think it will be difficult not to see her when she cannot leave the confines of this region. Then there is the pull that will be there between the two of you. That will never go away. There is one thing I want you to keep in mind. No matter what you feel, what you think she still feels for you, Kara is no longer only yours. She also belongs to Tanis, and me.”

“Yours? She was never yours, Aden,” Brynn growled coming nose to nose with him. “She was…is my wife. You took advantage of the situation she was in for your own selfish needs.”

Aden’s anger rose for a moment before it evaporated back into the numb mindless state he had been living in for months. What had happened while they were unable to protect Kara from Malphas had finally killed what little spirit had been left in Aden, and no amount of assurance from Kara that there was nothing he could have done to stop it could ease his guilt. The few times he managed to be alone with her before the others found them, he had just held her as she cried, vowing he would do his best never to be the one that made her cry again.

Being so close to her and unable to finish the ritual that would finalize their binding, unable to help her as he would like because there were two very jealous demi-gods constantly in his way had been very difficult. She was the only light in his dark world, and yes, he needed her. But what the others failed to recognize was she needed him too. For whatever reason, the heavens have deemed him a part of what is to come. The only uncertainty is whether or not Tanis and Caius or the would be a part of that future.

The prophecy laid out what their roles would be in the coming days, but this was not Brynn’s concern and Aden was taking too much time with him. Already he could feel Malphas searching for him. Malphas. That name sent chills down the spine of the strongest of them. Finding his true name had cost many lives, and Aden feared there would be many more to pay. Until then he needed to be careful. Knowing if he stayed hidden much longer the demon would start to become suspicious, he turned back to Brynn for one last thing.

“There is one thing I wanted to ask of you. The wards are still active, but that does not mean Colin will not try to break through. For some reason Jamie can tell when he is near. I want you to ask him to inform Tanis if he senses him anywhere near here. Tanis will then contact me and I will take care of the bastard once and for all.”

“He’s still alive?”

“Over the years he has had an uncanny knack of finding Kara and trying to take her. When he fails, he somehow disappears without a trace. None of us want him near Kara. If he tries to take her here, hopefully we can destroy him once and for all.”

Brynn nodded he would do as Aden asked.

Aden’s eyes grew far away, as if he was listening to something Brynn could not hear “I must go. My master impatiently awaits my return so he can bring Tanis and Kara here.” He began to fade from Brynn’s vision as did the light from above. “Remember what you have seen tonight. Tell the others what you think they need to know. Brace yourself for what you will feel when you finally realize you have lost her.”

Brynn woke with a start, the covers flying as he sat up in bed. His eyes darted around the room in the dawn light to find himself alone.

Chapter 22
Chapter 24

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 22

Chapter 22

The surrounding forest fell quiet as a dark figure moved quickly through the early dawn. He had been sent to make sure the security precautions that had been set up around the small county over twenty years ago were still in place. The Emperor did not want to chance enemies from the past finding them after all the trouble he had gone through to keep his secret.

A secret that would change everything.

Aden broke through the tree line and stopped. Before him the Llassar farmhouse and barn stood silent in early morning dawn, its occupants unaware their lives were once again about to be turn upside down. The last time he was here he took something from them. Something precious. Although he was not here to return their precious gem, he did want to warn them of what was to come. He was also here to fulfill a promise he had made six years ago.

Closing his eyes, Aden concentrated for a moment, looking for one Llassar in particular. He found him in the barn loft along with the two children. Aden’s mind flashed back to the last time he had been here. The young man who was far older than his years informing his father that the love of his life was not his alone. In some ways Chris had been right. Kara belonged to the fate of the universe and the two men who helped balanced it, kept it steadily moving forward, until now. Now she also belonged to him, a gift Aden thanked the Gods for each and every day.

Aden opened his eyes and looked at the farm with a sense of profound failure. No matter how hard he tried, or how many times he promised to protect her, Caius had managed to prove that neither he or Tanis were a match for the power the demi-god possessed. Not when he also held the power of a demon inside him.

When Aden returned five days after Caius sent him to torture the sorcerous queen, Commander Wells had warned him to stay away from Kara. That the emperor was in a foul mood because he had been unable to break Tanis. Not in the way he wanted. Some…one powerful had interfered. The captain did not know who it was, but when the emperor had come from the room he was torturing Kara, he was mumbling something about impertinent, self-serving Gods needing to keep their noses out of his business. When the emperor’s captain went into the cell to take the prisoners back to their room they were already gone. Confused, he went looking for them and found them their room, asleep and untouched.

Then he told Aden how the emperor’s appearance had changed. How the aging of his face and body had reversed themselves. Aden had not believed him, knowing there was no force in the universe that could undo two thousand years of aging. It was impossible. Aden was to find how wrong he was.

When he walked into the throne room, the amount of power filling it staggered him. When he saw Caius, his youthful timeless face, the young well-toned body, the godlike aura that surrounded him, Aden could only gape. Listening with growing dread as Caius confirmed everything that Aden had read in the prophecy as truth. About his, Kara’s and Tanis’s roles in the continuation of the universe. That there was some truth in the legends passed on from generation except for one crucial part. That he and Tanis had never fought for Kara’s affection, but that the three of them live fairly harmoniously together, protecting each other from those who hunted them. How the very gods who Aden and every other sentient creature had worshiped in one way or another were involved. However, those revelations were not what had completely stunned Aden. No. It was that he had been created for the sole purpose to end the vicious cycle of life, death and rebirth they were all trapped in. He was the Key to the end.

Closing his eyes, Aden took a deep breath of cold air and let it out slowly, trying to expel his emotions with the fog that surrounded his head as the warm air from his lungs hit the cold. Now was not the time to worry about what he could not fight today. First he had to keep a promise and relive the horrors that he could not change. In order to do that he needed to lock up his emotions deep down inside, otherwise he would lose what little sanity he had left.

Keeping to the shadows, Aden silently stole through the yard. The stillness of the night telling. Those that live in the shadows knew when a predatory was amongst them, and they did not want to be found. With a wave of his hand the side door into the barn quietly swung open. Aden climbed the stairs into loft that had been converted into Brynn and his family’s home. Soundlessly, he slipped down the hall until he reached Chris’s open door. Staring down at the sleeping young man, Aden finally understood the terror in Chris’s eyes when he had felt Caius power. Even at his young age, Chris knew what Caius had become. Knew how his mother would suffer these last six years. Aden wondered if Chris knew who his mother really was. It was a question he would have to ask later. He was not here to see the twenty-one year old, and he did not have much time.

With stealth a panther would envy, Aden swept into Brynn’s room. His long duster gently swinging around his ankles, he looked down at the sleeping man for a few moments before putting his hand out over Brynn’s forehead. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and delved into Brynn’s dreams.

Chapter 21
Chapter 23

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 21

Chapter 21

“I must warn my mistress. She must know what is coming so she can defend herself. How dare he think he can barge in here killing whomever he pleased. Those were my mistress’s men. Only she can kill them. Must warn her. He is in a dark mood.”

The stooped figure rushed through the halls muttering to himself in his nasally voice. A few moments ago, the dark stranger had blasted his way through the iron doors of the castle as if they were made of kindling. As Sebastian watched him and the two men following closely behind him, their strange weapons drawn, from the balcony he could tell that dark lord was in a foul mood. The guards who tried to detain him were now puddles of blood and meat scattered across the courtyard. The weapons had never fired.

At first Sebastian stood in shock because the visitor had not used his hands to kill those in his way. He just glared at the men and they rose into the air, screaming as their limbs began to twist and turn, each bone snapping loud enough that Sebastian could hear it over their screams of agony. Then the men began to slowly expand, bloating like a corpse until they burst apart in a spray of blood and meat. When the dark visitor was done, the two guards were nothing but stains on the nearby walls and ground. Strangely enough, the visitor or his men did not have a drop of blood on them.

What Sebastian had seen was impossible. No one had that kind of power.

Then something even more frightening happened. Something that sent Sebastian scurrying to warn his mistress. Even though he was hidden in the shadows, the dark visitor had looked directly at him. His red eyes freezing Sebastian’s heart. Sebastian tried to run, but he found his legs would not obey him. Finally the visitor released his hold and strode into the castle proper, out of sight. Sebastian slumped against the wall gasping for air.

The dark visitor was in a rage and he was heading for Sebastian’s mistress. He must warn her.

*    *    *

The moment Aden was hidden from the prying eyes of the castle guard, he slumped against the damp rock wall of the castle’s interior. Blasting through the doors and killing those men had taken what precious little strength he had remaining. Putting his hand over his heart as it squeezed painfully, he wondered not for the first time what Caius was doing to Kara. There had been unimaginable pain before, but nothing like this. A burning, soul draining pain that radiated throughout his body. Whatever was happening to her was not magic induced, but physical.

“My lord?” one of his men softly enquired, his worry clear in his tone.

Thank the gods Well’s had the foresight to send these two with him. There would have been no way he could have flown himself and landed the shuttle safely. Where it had always been painful to be away from her, this time it seemed the further he moved away from Kara the weaker he became. What was the difference between the original bond he held with her and this one? What had he missed in his study of the prophecy?

“Someone is coming?” the second guard hissed.

“Maybe we can use whoever it is to strengthen you, my lord,” the first suggested.

Prying his tightly closed eyes opened, he first saw the guard, Modi, standing in front of him, his face lined with worry. Turning his head slightly he saw the other, Bresi, whose back was to him as he scanned the area around them, making sure no harm would come to him while he was weak. Yes, these two were his most trusted and knew who Kara was to him and the cost of being this far from her. Knew about the prophecy and what his role in it was. Knew his most evil power. The one that drained the life of another to strengthen his own.

“No,” Aden said with a tone that told him he would not discuss it any further. He would not use an innocent for his own means, not if he could help it. As if to remind him of just how weak he was, his legs chose that moment to give out from under him. With a groan, he slid to the ground, Modi’s hands on his arms following him down so he wouldn’t fall over.

“My lord,” Modi said, his voice pleading. “We are in enemy territory and you can barely stand. If we are to finish our mission and return to the ship as soon as possible to help Lady Kara, you need to borrow someone else’s strength.”

He did have a point, damn it. Hating himself for what he was about to do, Aden nodded his head. “No innocents,” he reminded sharply, taking ahold of Modi’s arm before he could rise.

“Yes, my lord,” Modi promised. Pulling out his own blaster, he nodded to Bresi who silently disappeared around the corner and outside.

There was a grunt, some movement of cloth and feet on the ground and Bresi returned with an unconscious soldier in his arms. Sitting him next to Aden, against the wall, the two guards backed away a few feet, turned and took up watch so Aden could do what he hated most without fear of being ambushed. Steal the life of another living creature for his own needs.

Reaching out, Aden touched his fingertips to the hand of the soldier that was closest to him. Closing his eyes, he began to pull the life energy slowly from him. As he began to grow stronger, the memories of the solider began to play before his eyes. A side effect of using this power was that he gained the memory of his victims. This soldier had done his fair share of atrocities under the order of his commander and queen, but he did not enjoy it. Underneath the gruff exterior that he showed his fellow soldiers was a man who would have rather stayed at his family farm and raised his son and daughter with his wife peacefully, but he was the youngest in a family of three sons, so the only avenue left to him to support his family was being a soldier for the queen’s army.

Aden pulled his hand away. He would not steal anymore of this man’s life. Instead he would do what he came here to do and rid this world of their evil queen’s tyranny.

Another slice of pain shot through his body. Clenching his teeth to keep from crying out, Aden rode it out, some of the precious strength he had just gained draining away. What the hell was going on? It was as if Kara was…dying.

Taking a deep breath, Aden gathered what strength he had left and pushed himself to his feet. Waiting for the world to settle and grow solid under his feet, he pushed away from the wall to stand straight. Ignoring the worried glances from his guards, he started across the large foyer towards the throne room closed doors. If Kara was to survive, if they were all to survive, he needed to finish his mission and return to the ship as soon as possible. Whatever the hell Caius was doing to her, if he was this weak the gods only knew how weak she was.

It was the queen’s fault that he was here in the first place and not by Kara’s side protecting her. He would make sure she paid for her stupidity in as much pain as Kara was enduring.

*    *    *

The stooped figure sighed in relief when he rushed through a side door of the throne room and realized he had arrived before the dark visitor. Making sure the large thick wooden doors were firmly shut and barred, he shuffled over to his mistress who was playing with the strange metal toy the dark visitor had given her on a half-naked male hanging from the ceiling, shackled by his wrists. The same place the healer Tanis had hung not so long ago. Sebastian winced when the man screamed in agony. Normally he would not dare to interrupt his mistress when she was playing with her victims, but this was important.

“Mistress!” Sebastian called out.

The queen’s hand froze inches away from touching her victim with the torture device. She closed her eyes, tamping down the rage that boiled to the surface at the untimely interruption, Sebastian’s whiney voice grating on her every nerve. The little voice in the back of her mind she rarely listened to reminded her, he would never interrupt her unless it was important. Still, she felt the need to punish him for his insolence.

“This better be important,” she said through gritted teeth.

“It is, Mistress,” Sebastian gasped bowing. “The dark visitor has returned.”

“Lord Sahen?” she asked brightly, her anger instantly dissolving at the thought of the handsome dark sorcerer visiting her. “He must have decided to take me up on my offer to mate. An offspring with our powers combined would be magnificent,” her smile broadened at that thought.

“I do not think the pleasure of your lovely body is why he is here, Mistress,” Sebastian said shuffling closer. “He seems to be in a foul mood. He has already destroyed the front gates and killed two of your guards and with just a thought.”

The queen frowned at the news, but before she could ask any more questions, the doors to the throne room burst open with such force they broke their hinges. Aden strode into the room, two guards trailing behind him weapons drawn. The stench of death and the promise of more filled the room. He stopped only long enough to sweep the room with his eyes. His frown deepened when they landed on the queen staring at him with barely contain rage. Quickly recovering herself, she put on her best coy smile.

“My Lord Sahen,” she cooed as he began striding towards her. “What a pleasant surprise. To what do I owe this…?” She was cut off when Aden raised one hand, ripping the metal rod out of hers. The moment it left her hand she flew into the air, crashing into the wall behind her.

“Once again you have not lived up to your end of the bargain, Maura,” his quiet voice leaving no doubt of just how angry he was.

“I don’t know what you mean?” Maura gasped. “I delivered the one you wanted.”

“Oh, I think you do,” Aden said, his voice low and angry as he slowly walked towards the struggling queen until they were so close she could feel his breath. “The one I love, that is my life, now suffers from your incompetency. I am here to remind you what it means to betray those you promise loyalty to. When I am finished with you, you will wish for the death you escaped all those years ago. If you are lucky, I may just give it to you.”

The queen’s eyes were wide with an emotion she had long forgotten.

Fear.

“My lord, I beg you. Please….” Her pleas turned into screams as Aden lightly touched her with the metal rod. He held it to her side, his face inches from hers, watching her expression as her screams intensified. Slowly he pushed the wand harder into her side. This woman caused Kara pain, so she would pay with pain.

Slow, searing, agonizing pain.

Behind him, the sound of blasters filled the room. Before they had entered, he and his guarded agreed they would take care of any outside threat so Aden could concentrate what was left of his strength on the queen. Although, while they were busy defending his back, beside him he felt movement. Reaching out his free hand, without looking way from the queen, he grabbed Sebastian around the neck, holding him frozen with his hand holding a dagger high above his head. Memories of the oily creature’s atrocities poured into Aden’s mind. Brutalities that he reveled in inflicting on others for an adverse sense of power he had never known in his miserable life. As the slimy creature’s life slipped away and Aden grew stronger, there was no sense of remorse at killing the bastard. The only regret Aden had was that he had no time to kill him as slowly as he was going to kill the woman screaming in agony before him.

Dropping the dead carcass on the floor, his red eyes glowed with renewed power as he glared at Maura. “Shall we begin our lesson?”

No one dared to interfere as Aden poured all the rage and malice he felt towards Caius, the helplessness he felt being at being unable to stop what being done to Kara, the pain he felt Kara was enduring while he was on this godforsaken planet unable to help her, the pain their separation caused them, and everything he knew they would have to endure in the coming years into the defenseless queen.

Her screams would haunt the halls for many days and nights to come.

Chapter 20
Chapter 22

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 20

Chapter 20

Drip, drip, drip.

The soft sound slowly pushed its way through the pain and exhaustion.

Drip, drip, drip.

Not the sound of water landing in a pool of its own making, but thick and wet. The sound of life’s essence slowly draining away one drip at a time. The essence of the one who is the entire reason for the universe’s existence. The reason for his existence. One he could not protect, heal, because the chains that held him were imbued with spells that nullified his powers.

Drip, drip, drip.

A sharp rattle of chains, stopping as soon as it began followed by a hoarse moan. As if the voice had been screaming until finally it had nothing left to scream with.

Drip, drip, drip.

Exhaustion gives way to panic, pushing past the pain, forcing eyes open to utter darkness. There is no relief from seeing for himself that she still lives. That her chest rises and falls with the breaths he prays she is taking. That there is still enough of her life blood remain to save her.

Drip, drip, drip.

“Kara?” he calls hoarsely.

There is no answer. Tanis’s panic rises.

“Kara!” he calls urgently.

A soft groan is his only answer. Slumping in his chains in relief he tries to make sense of what had happened. Never in their long existence had Caius come close to the atrocities he had done today. No. Not Caius, Tanis corrected. A demon who vowed to do whatever it took to break him, to make him obey and sever his bond with Kara so the demon could take his place. There was no room for light in the universe he was building, he had told Tanis. Only darkness, pain and chaos. After a few hours of watching the demon torture Kara, of feeling every slice of the whip or blade, of ever touch from the soldiers that the demon allowed near Kara, Tanis was starting to understand what Aden tried to tell him before he left. Why he had done everything his master had ordered, no matter how painful, how vile it was to save the female he loved this pain. Why the boy had refused to break his bond with Kara, because, like Tanis, even if he wanted to save Kara the horror of this existence, he could not do the impossible.

Now Tanis leaned back against the wall he was chained to, his head back, eyes closed tightly, the hard cold metal the only thing grounding him in the darkness. Unable to see, other senses were heightened. The constant slow drip of Kara’s blood was like a deep base drum inside his head. The pain radiating through his body unbearable, burning, stabbing, excruciating. Pain that was not his, but the female that hung in the middle of the room slowly dying. Panic rose as the images of Kara before the darkness descended, her body broken, abused, worsened with each agonizing second that passed and he did not hear her voice.

Drip, drip, drip.

“Kara, love,” he called desperately. “Please. Answer me.”

Drip, drip, drip.

Reaching out with his mind he tried again. Kara, he urged gently. Please talk to me.

I am…here, she whispered weakly through his mind. With those words came the sorrow, the defeat, the humiliation she felt at what he had witnessed done to her. They were immortals. God and goddess with powers that should have allowed them to protect themselves from this, and yet, she had allowed it to happen because her body was not her own.

Tanis felt her humiliation intensify. After all the demon had done to her, her body had responded like a wanton creature to his touch, just as the gods had designed her, and she was ashamed. Tanis clenched his fists, trying rein in his anger at the gods for giving her this curse. Through the ages he had protected her from those who would try to use her weakness against her, but now…. Now he was helpless and she was being punished for it.

“I am so sorry,” he breathed, hopelessness beginning to take hold.

There was the sound of chains creaking, a sharp hiss of pain.

“Not…your fault,” Kara gasped. He could hear her heavy breathing, feel the sharp stab of pain as it shot through her ravaged body. After a moment she continued, her voice strained, “Caius has broken many rules. The gods will punish him.”

“The gods,” Tanis scoffed. “Where were they when Colin had you? When you suffered under whatever demon Caius has sold his soul to, because I know he would never do this to you. Whatever myths and legends surround him, calling him callous, evil, one fact has always remained true. You are his life and he loves you far too much to hurt you like this. No. The gods have abandoned us.” Tanis ground his teeth together, his rage growing to new heights. “DO YOU HEAR ME? YOU HAVE ABANDONED US!” he roared. The last of his strength gone, Tanis slumped in his chains.

Drip, drip….

The silence stretched on. With nothing left but the will to keep breathing, Tanis could not even whisper Kara’s name. Maybe it was just as well. If they died, then the demon would lose. The small window of opportunity with Aden as his catalyst, or whatever he called him, would close and the universe would be safe. A sense of relief washed over him as he sunk further into the darkness where he knew his love waited for him.

A soft glow began to penetrate Tanis’s eyelids, growing in intensity with each passing moment. Chains groaned, whimpers of pain intensified. Something was happening to Kara and yet he could not feel it. That was not right. Once bonded, unless they shielded hard they felt, saw, heard everything the other felt, saw, heard. Drawing on strength he did not know he had left, Tanis lifted his head and cracked his eyes open.

The soft yellow glow radiated out from Kara, completely encompassing her. The brighter it grew, the more Kara’s whimpers grew, her body writing with new pain. The pain of healing. Before his eyes, the cuts that covered her delicate skin began to knit themselves together, bones reset with a snap. Just as there was pain when injuries were given, so was there when they were cleaned, stitched, or reset. What Tanis was seeing was rapid healing that would intensify with the severity of the wound. When the glow grew so bright that Tanis had to close his eyes and look away or fear blindness, Kara’s body bowed, her head thrown back as she screamed one long ragged scream.

Then all was silent once more.

When Tanis looked back at Kara, there was now a low light filling the darkness so he could see her. There were no more injuries or blood on her, her matted hair once again clean and gleaming, her flawless skin flush with life. Suddenly Tanis’s chains unlocked. Unable to bear his own weight, he collapsed to his hands and knees.

What the hell?

Go to her, my son, a familiar feminine voice breathed through his mind.

“Mother,” he breathed in relief. She had heard his plea and come to help them.

With renewed hope and strength, Tanis struggled to his feet and staggered towards her, slipping on the blood that still coated the floors and walls. His arms had just wrapped around Kara when her chains unlocked, dropping her weight onto him. As carefully as he could, he lowered her to the floor, careful to keep as much of her out of the horror on the floor as possible.

Kara took a deep stuttering breath and opened her eyes.

“What happened?” she asked afraid to move.

“Mother is here,” Tanis smiled as he pushed her hair out of her face. “She healed you.”

As the door slid open clothes suddenly appeared on them. A long white dress for Kara. A white tunic and leather leggings for Tanis. The demon storm into the room stopping dead in his tracks, his eyes on something behind Tanis. Eyes narrowed in rage, he lowered them to the now clean floor and the two sitting there staring back at him warily. When he saw they were untouched and healthy, he bellowed in rage.

“How dare you interfere!” he roared his eyes locking onto who Tanis assumed was their mother, Selene, Goddess of the heavens, their queen.

“You accuse me of interfering when you have broken the most sacred rule. You should have died with them two thousand years ago. This,” she swept her hand over the room that held torture instruments and the blood that still covered the walls, “should never have happened. You should never have been able to sink your claws into my daughter so deeply. I should have drowned you like I wanted to in the beginning,” she snarled. “But your father forbade it.”

“How is dear old dad,” Caius sneered, eyes flashing red.

Not Caius, but the demon. Had his mother seen the demon’s slip? Did she realize that it was not her son she was talking to? While there had never been any love lost between the two, the level of hatred he was seeing today had never been this high. It was as if the demon knew Selene somehow, that there was a history between them. What had they missed?

The demon continued, a sneer firmly planted on his face, in his voice, “Out fucking his latest whore, I assume. It must just irritate the hell out of you that the Fates deemed you to only want one man and that man would want every other woman but you.”

Looking back at his mother, Tanis could have sworn he saw smoke coming out of her nostrils as her eyes flash fire. Where the fates had cursed Kara without the ability to say no to another’s touch, they had cursed their mother with only wanting one man. A man who hated her and would rather see her dead than bed her again.

“You were demon spawned and you should be put back in hell realm where you belong,” she spat. “Someplace I might send you still.”

“At least Dad and I could catch up on old times. Oh, wait. He no longer lives in hell realm, does he. He now occupies the throne in the temple where he can keep an eye on you while fucking everything in sight,” Caius taunted with relish. “Must be annoying to have him watching your every move, making sure you don’t interfere like you did in the beginning.”

“I did what was best for my daughter. What was best for us all,” Selene defended regally no remorse in her voice. “And I would do it again.”

“You manipulated the prophecy to your own ends. You made sure she saw Tanis first in an attempt to use his jealousy to keep me away from her!” he screamed. Taking a deep breath, he reined in his temper with visible effort. When he spoke next, his voice was calm, his eyes still angry, but not filled with the consuming rage that they had held before. Looking at Selene with his own blue eyes, he calmly said, “But you failed, didn’t you, Mother. You did not take into consideration that Kara could love me as much as she loved Tanis. That we understood that only together could we do what we were created for. Something you could never do.”

The silence that ensued afterwards was deafening. Caius was breathing hard, his eyes showing emotions Tanis could not decipher. Anger, pain, nausea. What Tanis did notice was the absence of malevolence that the demon excluded whenever he was present. It gave Tanis hope that his brother was still in there, somewhere.

Selene stood stock still glaring back at him. Tanis carefully pulled Kara with him as he climbed to his feet, moving them out of the way before the lightning bolts started flying. To anger a goddess, their queen no less, was tantamount to suicide, and because of the way Caius had bound Kara, there was no way to protect themselves. Pushing Kara behind him as he backed towards the wall, Tanis warily watched both parties warily.

There was a flash of red along with a subtle change in Caius facial expression that told Tanis the demon was once more in control. With a voice that was a slightly different dialect that he had not noticed before, the demon continued, “I became weary of playing your games, Selene, and took matters into my own hands.” If the slip of using her name registered, their mother did not respond. Instead she stood proud and regal. Like a marble statue in a museum, cold and unyielding. The demon smiled. “I spent eons trying to find a way to survive their deaths. Two thousand years ago I finally succeeded. But I was not idle. I schemed and plotted and I waited for my chance. Then I found her,” his eyes found Kara’s and locked with them. “I found her and I bound her to me, and in turn bound Tanis.” He turned back to Selene. “They are mine to do with as I wish and there is nothing any of you can do to take them from me.”

“You will not touch her again,” Tanis snarled stepping forward.

Selene raised her hand halting Tanis in mid-step, her gaze never leaving Caius’s. “No,” she said quietly, her sudden calmness making the three of them very uneasy. “It is true we cannot break the bonds you have wrapped Kara so tightly in, but just because you control her with pain and terror does not mean she is yours. The others and I have come to a decision. You have overstepped your boundaries today. We…I will no longer stand for such abuse.”

There was a blinding flash. When the demon could see again, Tanis and Kara were gone.

“Where are they?” he demanded stepping towards his mother angrily.

“In their quarters resting,” she answered calmly. “Where you will leave them for now. This is the one and only time I will interfere, but hear me, Caius. You continue down this path you have chosen and our retribution will be swift and deadly.” Selene’s voice echoed throughout the chamber with her promise, her power suffocating.

“Don’t threaten me,” the demon sneered walking towards her, stopping a few feet away. “You have neither the power nor the willingness to go through with that threat. You never did.” The demon’s smile grew when her eyes widened ever so slightly, a flash of fear marring her calm composure. She was beginning to suspect who he truly was. Good. He wanted them afraid. Moving so he stood inches before her, his face twisted with disgust, eyes slowly bleeding into the deep red that he knew was all too familiar to her, he whispered. “I found him.”

Selene could not stop her gasp as fear sliced through her being. The demon felt stretch her mind in an attempt to find who he was talking about, but he knew she couldn’t. He had hidden him too well.

“Yes, you should be afraid because I found the one you have all been waiting for. The one that will end your reign in the heavens. I found him as a boy and raised him in my own image. This time I will win,” he cackled.

“You lie!” Selene hissed. “I can feel it. If you truly have the one prophesized, you do not have as much control over him as you would like us to believe. It is still up to the Fates how time will continue. That you can never change.”

The demon moved so he was nose to nose with Selene, invading her personal space. She neither moved back nor flinched, impressing him with her courage. Something she did not have the last time they met. “Are you willing to bet your existence on it, Selene? Because once I am ruler and Kara is mine, I will wipe the house of the gods clean. I will destroy you.”

“You will try,” Selene smiled, her quiet voice deadly with promise, “and as before, you will fail. Do you hate me so deeply that you wish to see her destroyed?”

The eyes that stared back at her were the eyes of her son, and they held a sorrow that clenched her heart tight in empathy.

“No,” Caius whispered as he stepped back. “You know how I feel concerning Kara, just as I know what must be done, and this time it will be different. I will see to it.”

“They will not allow it,” Selene whispered her hand going to her throat as her own past grief assailed her.

“I will not give them the chance. My son deserves to know his mother. Every child deserves to know the love of its mother,” Caius said softly backing further away.

“They will not allow it,” Selene repeated tears coming to her eyes.

“How do you know? Demon spawned as you claim I am, how hard did you really try to stop them…Mother,” his voice low and full of hurt.

With a sob and another blinding flash Selene disappeared.

Caius stood staring at the spot his mother once stood. Waiting to make sure she was really gone before releasing the breath he had been holding. Gods! He had promised himself he would not allow her to crawl under his skin. Not like this. Closing his eyes, he forced himself to calm. The past was in the past. It should be left there. If only he could. He just hoped from now on his father kept her busy enough to stay out of his way until he finished what he started. Unfortunately, for that to happen there would be more pain and suffering before the end was reached, for all of them.

Looking around the room, Caius shuddered. He had tried in vain to stop what the demon was doing to Kara, but the cage the bastard had put around his consciousness was too strong. It was not until his mother arrived had he been able to break free. Something about her presence had unnerved the demon, giving Caius an opening, he took without hesitation. Now that the demon seemed reluctant to come forward, Caius would take the reprieve to regain his strength and repair any damage that had been done between him and his siblings. However, he needed to tread carefully. There were still steps that need to be taken to fulfill a part of the prophecy they had never known existed until recently.

Knowing his time was short, Caius strode out into the hallway, his ever present guards falling in behind him. Time to finish his part of the ritual before the demon took control again. That was on piece of the puzzle he would not allow the bastard to have.

Chapter 19
Chapter 21

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 19

Chapter 19

Almost ever culture speaks of soulmates. That one person who in essence carries the other half of your soul, and until you find them you are never complete. Some spend their entire lives looking for that missing piece, never resting, never being at peace. For Kara the term soulmate means just what it says, only her soul belonged to more than one being. She was the center where light and darkness orbited, keeping the delicate balance that the universe existed within in perfect harmony. Now that delicate balance was threatening to unravel.

Resting his forehead on hers, Tanis released a long sigh. “Caius and I may not agree on a lot of things but this I can guarantee. You may have started the bonding process with Aden, but we will never allow you to finish it.”

“Tanis…,” Kara breathed in disbelief, her heart constricting with what he was telling her. What it would do to her and Aden if the ritual was never completed. The constant need pushing at them, tormenting them. Years of being separated and the pain of that separation would be nothing compared what they would endure if they did not finish what was started.

“No, Kara,” Tanis interrupted. “I’m sorry, but I can’t allow him to have even a small part of you. You belong to us. There is no nor ever will be another.”

Tangling his hand in her hair to hold her in place, Tanis kissed Kara with every ounce of passion and love he felt for the female in his arms. As the power began to build, the ties that bound them weave through them, tightening, strengthening, as he felt Kara melt into him all thought left except one. He was home.

Crushing her to him, his kiss demanding as it was giving he flashed them to the bedroom. They had been apart for two thousand years. Two thousand years of not feeling the touch of her hands on him. The touch of her soul next to his. Their clothes gone, his weight on her feeling like heaven, with fingers, hands, lips, they relearned the feel the taste of each other’s bodies. Kara’s cries as her body trembled under his touch were like music to his ears. When she screamed her orgasm, writhing in pleasure as wave after wave washed over her the ritual began. Only after he milked every drop and she lay panting, boneless, completely spent, did he crawl up her body to claim her mouth again.

“You are mine, Kara. Now and always,” he whispered huskily in her ear in a language so old only the Gods themselves remembered it. Sucking on her lobe, he slowly slid inside her, both of their bodies shuddering in ecstasy. “I will love you, cherish you, honor you, and protect you with my life.” He punctuated every word with a thrust.

“I will love you, cherish you, honor you, and protect you with my life,” Kara repeated, her voice breathless as her nails dug into his back, the pleasure mounting with each word, each desperate thrust.

In a burst of power, they flew over the edge together, their souls twining, bonding tighter, cells, bodies becoming one. Metal unable to slow it, space unable to stop it, that power spread touching everything in its path. The universe stopped for one breath of a second. Then it was if the universe sighed in relief and once again began to move forward.

Tanis collapsed on top of Kara gasping, her arms and legs wrapping around him as she clung to him. It was a ritual as old as the words they spoke that they completed every time they came together. Once again bringing the universe closer to harmony. There was only one more piece to the puzzle that needed to be put into place. One more player to begin and finish what had been started. The darkness to Tanis’s light.

“Bravo. Bravo,” a voice that was a familiar as it was foreign purred. Hands slowly clapping broke through the afterglow of their lovemaking freezing them in place. “Now for my turn,” the voice growled.

Kara cried out when Tanis was ripped from her arms and slammed against the wall across from the bed, his arm and legs spread eagle unable to move. Kara started to scramble to the end of the bed to help him only to freeze when she remembered who it was standing in the doorway glaring at her with glowing red eyes. This was not the darkness to Tanis’s light, the other part of her soul, her beloved. This was the demon who had tormented her in her mortal life, who had bound her with spells and curses to him as tightly as she was now bound to Tanis.

The necklace locked around her neck pulsed once, a shock of pain washing away the remnants of their lovemaking. A warning of what she would endure if she did not remember her place. Slowly, her frighten eyes locked on Tanis’s angry ones, her body shaking, with deliberate care she moved backwards until she was on her knees, her hands on her thighs facing upwards, back straight, eyes downcast.

Tanis could see Kara was shaking with fear, her face devoid of any color as the demon walked towards her. Reaching out a hand, he slowly pet her hair, his hand moving down her shoulder continuing down her arm.

“Very good, my dear,” he purred as he fingertips brushed across her ribs to her breast. “You remember your place.”

“Get your hands off of her!” Tanis snarled struggling to free himself from the invisible bonds that trapped him against the wall.

The demon’s red eyes remained on Kara’s face, watching as she reacted to his touch, the terror that he felt coursing through her unable to dampen the pleasure. The Gods had blessed her with a body that responded to the touch of another being. Any touch from any being, be it male, female or creature from another race. He smiled as her body shivered from his touch. The thought that she wanted him tighten things lower in the body the demon inhabited he thought long dead. Unfortunately, it was not yet time to claim what was rightfully his.

A noise pulled his attention from the female on her knees to the wall opposite her. The demon looked at Tanis, amusement dancing in his eyes as he watched him vainly struggle with the invisible bonds that held him in place. Eyes flashing with power, he began walking towards Tanis.

“Oh, I have plans to do much more than simply touch her, brother,” he sneered, his voice echoing with malice and power. “I plan to use her torture you in ways you could never imagined. Then, when you are broken and bleeding on the floor unable to protect your precious Kara, I will rip her soul from yours and make her mine. And you will lie there watching, powerless to help her as I take her to over and over.”

“She will never give you what you want,” Tanis spat.

“I do not need her to give me her power. I am evil incarnate,” he announced loudly to the room, raising his hands to his sides as he turned around in a circle. Once he faced Tanis again he lowered his arms, a sneer on his face. “All I need is her body under mine as I wrap my essence around hers. Then, when she is utterly and completely mine, I will throw you in the darkest hellhole I can find where you can rot for all eternity,” he snarled in Tanis’s face, his eyes glowing red as the two men glared at each other.

“I will kill you first,” Tanis ground out between his teeth, putting all the power he had behind his voice. The sheer amount sent everyone within the destroyer to their knees, holding their hands to their heads crying out in pain. Everyone but the three in the bedroom.

The demon merely smiled.

“Let the games begin.”

Chapter 18
Chapter 20

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes