Broken Promises – Chapter 38

Chapter 38

“NO!” Sapphira screamed sitting up. Eyes wide with terror, they darted around the room searching for something that in the back of her mind was not there. She was not trapped in the cave with Gideon, unable to release the medallion that held him prisoner while Malphas sunk his claws into his belly, slowly digging so to cause as much pain as possible upwards towards his heart. She was in her room, at the Llassar farmhouse. She was safe.

Pain wracked her body and she doubled over, clutching her chest. Inside her head Gideon screamed her name, screamed for her to save him. Gasping for air, Sapphira kicked at the covers that tangled her legs until she was finally free of them. Sliding from the bed, she staggered a few feet before she realized the voice she was hearing was not Gideon but Brynn’s. Strong hands grabbed her arms as her legs collapsed from under her.

“Kara!” Brynn called anxiously. “What’s wrong? What’s happening?”

“Gideon,” she rasped, desperation thick in her voice. “He has Gideon! He’s killing him! We have to save him!”

When Brynn did not answer her, his body suddenly still, she looked up and froze. His face was slack, eyes glazed over. His body jerk violently then blood gushed from his open mouth. Screaming, Sapphira backed away, Brynn’s hands falling limply by his side. With one more jerk, his knees collapsed and he fell in slow motion to his the floor. Listing sideways, his lifeless body hit the hard stone floor with a muffled thud. In his place was a clawed hand holding his bloody beating heart. Staring at it in horror, Sapphira tried not to look up, but her eyes betrayed her.  Slowly they followed the red leather clad arm up, and up, and up, past the armored shoulder to the strong smooth chin. Past the cruel mouth that held a sneer full of malice. Past the strong smooth nose to crimson eyes that bore into hers, the lustful triumph they held freezing the air in her lungs.

“I have waited a long time to make you mine, and now that I have eliminated all the obstacles between us, you will never escape me again,” Malphas sneered. As he spoke, he raised his bloody hand to where Sapphira could once again see Brynn’s heart and began to squeeze. “You are mine!” he snarled as Brynn’s heart disintegrated, blood gushing down his arm covering the wood floors.

“NO!” Sapphira screamed sitting up in bed, sweat drenching her, terror stealing her air.

“Sapphira!” a familiar voice cried.

Arms encircled her, pulling her against the warmth of a hard body, but she knew it was a trick. Malphas would torture her for days, making her believe she had woken from her nightmare only to find she was still trapped within one far more horrifying. Fighting with everything she had, the arms finally opened and she scrambled from the bed. She only made it a few feet when the pain wracked her body again, dropping her to her knees screaming. This time when the voice called her name, it was gentle, careful.

“Sapphira?” he coaxed. It was definitely a he and it sounded so familiar. Like home, but Sapphira still did not trust it. “Please, love,” he begged.

Now the voice was in front of her. Refusing to open her eyes, her arms tightly wound around herself as spasms wracked her body, Sapphira cowered away from the voice. Pain, sharp and immediate tore a scream from her. Falling to her side, she curled into a ball, her teeth grinding together as she tried to hold in another scream that threaten to break free. Exhausted and beaten as she was, she would not give the bastard the satisfaction. So tired. So very tired.

There was a small movement of air, warmth to the front of her. The male had quietly moved towards her, but she could not unwind herself to move away.

This time the voice held a note of command, even though she could also hear worry. “Sapphira. You must tell me what is happening, or I cannot help you.”

Help her? She choked back a burst of laughter, which strangely sounded like a sob. Too many times she had believed him, and each time had left her broken, lying on the floor in a pool of her own blood. Not today. Someone shoved a white hot poker into her brain and she could no longer keep her scream inside. Clutching her head, she rolled onto her back, scream after scream tearing at her throat.

Cursing vehemently, the male grabbed her wrists and suddenly the pain was a little less. When those curses became strangled she realized whoever it was, was feeling what she was feeling, yet they did not let go. Instead, they held on tighter as power flowed through his hands, into her arms pushing away the pain. Malphas was not ready to let go of his prize. Growling, the demon pushed back.

In the back of Sapphira’s mind she registered that if Malphas was the one holding onto her wrists, then why was he fighting with himself to gain control. With a cry of pure rage, the male holding her wrists pour more power than Sapphira had felt in a long time into to her. Enough power to shove Malphas back and out, locking an invisible door behind him. That shouldn’t have been possible. The necklace bound them, making it impossible to use that amount of power against the demon without agonizing repercussions. Yet, as the residual pain began to subside, inside her there was only peace.

The figure slumped over her, his breathing ragged, the hold on her wrists still bruising. Gasping for air, Sapphira cracked open her eyes, trying to focus. The room wavered, spots dancing before her, but slowly a mass of black hair that belonged to the head resting on her chest came into view. With a shudder, the male lifted his head to catch his sky blue eyes with her hazel ones. As the face came into focus, Sapphira already knew who her rescuer was. The face and body may be different in each Trial, but the eyes. The eyes never changed. Yet these eyes were not who she expected.

Parting her lips to ask how, the male shook his head slightly, his eyes begging her to not say what she was thinking. They may have won this battle, but they were still not safe.

“Fallon?” she mouthed. She was rewarded with a small smile that he saved just for her. The one that spoke of how much he loved her. A smile she thought she would never see again.

“Are you with me?” he asked releasing one of her wrists so he could brush the tears from one side of her face, his face etched with worry.

Nodding, she released a sob and suddenly she was in his arms. Everything would be okay. He was here and they remembered who they were, what they were. They were no longer bound by the demon’s spells. Where they were still trapped in the Trial, but for the moment they were safe. They were finally safe. Sapphira allowed that feeling to wash over her as the tears fell faster, pushing away the nagging feeling she was forgetting something very important. She wasn’t sure how long they sat there as she cried out all her pain while the male they thought lost to them whispered soothing words in her ear. When she was finally spent, he gently picked her up and carried her back to the bed. Lying her down on it, he crawled in next to her and pulled her to him. Once again snuggled against him, she drifted off to a dreamless sleep. The outside world and all the horrors that awaited forgotten for the moment.

The next time she woke, she felt rested along with a lightness within her she had not felt for a long time. The spells that had weighted her down for so long were truly gone. Stretching her body, reveling in the feel of her body feeling like her own, she opened her eyes and looked around the large cave. Frowning, she also realized that she was alone again. Did she dream Fallon was here? Sitting up, she saw the pillow next to her had a depression in it. Feeling the sheets, they were still warm. No, he had been here. The question was, where was he now? Looking around at the large cave, it reminded her of the one where….

“Gideon!” she gasped.

“Safe, for the moment,” Fallon answered from somewhere near the entrance of the cave.

Turning, she watched as he strode into the cave, the deep cowl of his cloak hiding his face. A jolt of fear that she had been wrong and this was another trick shot through Sapphira until he swept his cowl away and she could see his eyes. Some say the eyes were windows into one’s soul. Sapphira believed that to be true because those eyes were the one thing Malphas could never duplicate. It was how she learned to see through his illusions.

“What do you mean, for the moment?” she asked her eyes narrowing.

Watching with fascination as Fallon dropped his cloak to the floor as he kept his pace towards her across the immense cave and began to pull his shirt out from his leather pants, she barely heard what he said to her question. As Aden and Kara, they had been kept from finishing a ritual that was essential to this Trial. While they now knew who they were, the ache they had lived with for so long was still very present. The ritual needed to be completed in order for the Trial to move forward. Not that Sapphira needed the excuse. The four of them had crossed that barrier some of the mortals in the Trials had placed on relationships many eons ago. Jealousy was not an emotion they carried so they shared just fine. Still, they needed to keep their thoughts on the problem at hand. Defeating Malphas. “I’m sorry,” she said closing her eyes and shaking her head to try and bring her thoughts deep from the gutter where they had traveled the surface where their existences were uncertain. “What did you say?”

“Malphas laid a trap and Gideon walked right into it,” Fallon repeated smirking. With a sharp tug, he pulled his shirt over his head and dropped it to the floor. The heated look in Sapphira’s eyes hardened him even further. While they were in a dangerous situation, and they needed to find where Malphas was hiding their fourth, for the moment they were safe and had time to rest. Not that resting was what Fallon was after. He had been denied the touch of the female before him for far too long. It was time he remedied that.

By the time he reached the bed, his had unlaced his leather pants and they hung loosely on his hips. Climbing onto the bed and into Sapphira’s waiting arms, his hands slide up her hips, pushing the linen shirt further up her waist, exposing her.

“Brynn was able to pull medallion out of his hand before Malphas could kill him,” he continued huskily, his eyes following his hands. “So for now they are safe and we have time to reacquaint ourselves with each other.” Before Sapphira could say much more than a groan, he claimed her lips, pushing her down on the bed with the weight of his body. Coming up for air just long enough to free himself from his pants, Fallon breathed hoarsely as his hand slid down her side and under her hips so he could angle himself to slide inside her. “Next time we will take our time to enjoy each other. For now…,”

When she pushed her hips up taking him inside and there was no more talking. There was only sensation. Fallon took her mouth again as he drove into her with a ferocity he could not even begin to contain as Sapphira answered him with her own unbearable need. Years of being denied. Of being together yet unable to touch, kiss, rarely able to just hold each other. Outside the cave was a demon who was hell bent on destroying everything Sapphira loved in order to possess her. Inside, they were safe and warm, and the outside world did not exist. There was no one to hide from. No one to stop them. With each thrust they came closer to climax, with each thrust their power grew stronger, the prophecy finally being realized, until they suddenly spilled over the edge. Sapphira’s hands scrambled at the sheets trying to find something, anything to hang on to, screaming as her body bucked under Fallon’s. Fallon pushed one more time and joined Sapphira roaring to the heavens. Their climax so intense as it rolled over and over, them taking them into oblivion.

A bubble of power that had built around them, surrounded them flex once before, in a blinding flash of light, exploded outward. The universe held its breath as the shockwave pushed its way through, waiting in anticipation of what was to come. Light years away, animals tensed as if they heard some predator nearby ready to pounce. Every sentient being looked up from what they were doing, woke up with a start thinking they had heard something in the dark, straining to hear it again, not understanding what the feeling of unease that made their hearts race was. In the heavens the gods of this universe were in a panic as they fell to their knees, holding their heads crying out in pain as the pressure continued to build. Then the universe shuddered as it breathed out, animals and beings smiled and went back to what they were doing. The Gods screamed as the heavens shook down to its foundations. Walls began to crack, pillars crumbled, everyone ran as chaos ensued. Then as suddenly as it started it stop, and everything was eerily silent.

*   *   *

In a cave deep underground in the heavens, a lone figure sat on his throne of skull and bones as rock and debris rained down around him. Clenching his hands over the ends of the armrests until the bone cracked, eyes burning with a rage that threatened to melt the very walls, Malphas ground his teeth.

“Enjoy your time together, for it will be your last,” he snarled. Those burning eyes slowly turned towards the figure gagged and chained to the wall. Stupidly that figure glared back, his own eyes black with rage. A show of power that should not have been possible with the chains that bound him. Slowly rising to his feet, Malphas strolled over to the figure who he had at first thought was only a boy to use as bait to catch his prize, his eyes boring into his captive’s, trying to break through the barrier that held the information he was seeking from him. “You are not what you seem, boy.  I intend to find out exactly who you are and your relationship with my pets.” The only answer he received was a silent glare that challenge the demon to do his worst. “Oh, I will, my friend. I will,” he sneered.

Chapter 37
Chapter 39

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 37

Chapter 37

“What was I supposed to do?” Godiva hissed. “Allow it to live?”

“Have you learned nothing?” Satan snapped, his anger filling the room, hot and prickly.

As it danced across Gideon’s skin, it brought to his attention the rest of his aches and a whole new meaning to the word pain. What the hell happened to him while he was unconscious? Grimacing as just moving his fingers sent fresh waves of agony throughout his body, the quarrel between Godiva and Satan continued.

“All life is precious,” Satan finished angrily.

“And that is exactly why we are in this predicament. If Father had killed that bastard, Mother and Gideon wouldn’t have had to endure the horrors they did,” Godiva hissed.

If they were trying to keep quiet for his benefit, they were doing a lousy job of it. Stealing himself for what he knew would be far from easy, Gideon tried to open his eyes. When the light hit his eyeballs, pain lance through his brain and he could not suppress a groan.

“Gideon,” Godiva half cried half sighed in relief.

There was a rustle of clothing and footsteps. When Gideon opened his eyes and the blurriness cleared, Satan was leaning over him, worry etching his brow. Rage at the insolent child rushed through Gideon, pushing the pain into the background. With lightening speed, his hand shot up, encircling the little bastard’s neck.

“Give me one good reason why I should not end your existence,” Gideon growled rising enough to rest on his elbow, glaring at the male he held in his grip.

Gasping for air, his face quickly becoming purple as the demi-god struggled to pry the angel’s fingers from around his neck, Satan wheezed, “Because Malphas has Fallon and I may know where they are.” The hand around his neck only tightened.

“And why should I believe anything you say after what you did to us? What you allowed him to do to us?”

“Because he is telling the truth,” Godiva answered coming into view. Wringing her hands, she looked from her brother who was slowly losing consciousness to the enraged angel who lay glaring at her. Barely keeping herself from stepping away in a strong bid of self-preservation, she swallowed hard and whispered, “Gideon. Please.”

It was a few tense moments where Gideon tighten his grip even further before he shoved a half consciousness Satan away from him. His strength draining away at an alarming rate, Gideon collapsed onto the bed.

“Why do I feel like I was hit by a meteor?” he grimaced.

“Father was able to remove the necklace from around Mother’s neck. It was less than…smooth,” Godiva answered from where she knelt next to her brother.

Smooth. That was an understatement. It felt as if every muscle, every bone, had been beaten within an inch of its life. Even his organs felt abused. Rubbing his face with his hands, wincing when even that hurt, he tried to sit up. The room spun sharply, and his stomach heaved. Swallowing hard, he fell back to the bed. “There wasn’t this much pain the last time we escaped him,” Gideon groaned.

“Lie still,” Godiva admonished moving to sit beside him. “We think he modified the necklace, adding more spell and curses to it. If what we witnessed with you was the same as with Mother, it took Father almost a full day to remove it from her, and it wasn’t pleasant.”

No, no it wasn’t, Gideon thought hissing when another sharp pain lanced through his body. And apparently it wasn’t done with him.

“You said Malphas had Fallon. Before I passed out, we didn’t even know where Fallon was.”

“Mother’s mortal husband did,” Satan wheezed. Gideon looked at the male who had managed to sit up, still rubbing his swollen neck. Eyes narrowed, he really wanted to finish strangling the little bastard, but Gideon knew if Malphas really had his brother he was too weak to go looking for him on his own. He would need both of the children’s help to find him. At least Satan had the decency to cringe under Gideon’s anger.

“Explain,” he snapped.

“Their son, Chris, had always seemed older than what he was,” Godiva answered, bringing Gideon’s eyes to her. “I should have seen it earlier, but I had always thought Fallon was trapped outside this universe.”

A vague memory of a cave and Malphas throwing Fallon out of this realm floated to the forefront of his mind. “I remember Malphas saying Fallon was a conundrum. I still don’t know what he meant by that, though.” The more he thought about it, the more he knew there was something…off with what had happened. At the time he was so focused on the necklace and what it meant to him and Sapphira, an elephant could have walked through the cave and he would not have noticed.

“I’m not sure either, but somehow Fallon was able to break in and take the form of Mother’s son without losing his memories.”

“Then why didn’t he reveal himself to us earlier?” Gideon frowned. There was something in Godiva’s expression, her posture. It was so slight that Gideon thought he must have imagined it.

“I think partial because of his age as Mother’s mortal son, and partial because the rules of the Trials stopped him. While he may have known who he was, he needed to be careful so Malphas would not suspect him. As per the rules of the Trial, you, Mother and Father needed to remember who you were on your own. Until then, the best Fallon could do was protect Mother until you and Father were revealed.”

The word ‘memories’ sparked a memory of his own. Frowning, he tried to bring it forward. When it finally did, his eyes widened, turning towards Satan.

“Two thousand years ago, we did remember,” he said, his voice almost a whisper. “It was why Malphas killed Sapphira. He knew the rebirth would once again bind our memories.” His eyes darting around the room and more memories assailed him, Gideon continued. “After he pulled us into the Trail, he placed Sapphira and I into Kara and Tanis’s roles, giving us their memoires while keeping Damien locked away in a cave deep underground. We were powerless to stop him, but Fallon. Fallon had retained his powers. Malphas could not control him so he locked Fallon outside of the Trial where he could not interfere.” He looked at Godiva, his eyes wide with recognition of what she was trying to tell him. Things he thought strange then started to make sense. A slight shake of her head told him to keep this new knowledge to himself a little longer.

Suddenly sitting up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed, pain exploded within him while the room spun out of control. Putting the heal of his hands to his forehead, his elbows on his knees for support, Gideon groaned as he rode out the vertigo and pain. There was no time to lay around and recuperate. He had to find his brother before Malphas dug his claws into him, or they were all lost. Taking a deep breath and willing his stomach to settle, he sat straight, looking from Godiva to Satan. “Somehow Malphas still held power over us, so Sapphira and I were helpless to fight him. Damien was weak from being dragged in with us, and the rules still held him, binding his powers. How did Fallon escape the restraints of the rules?”

“We’ve been talking about that,” Satan answered hoarsely, pushing himself to his feet. Clearing his throat, he continued, “These Trials were built so we would be taught a valuable lesson. That life is precious and our decisions, or whims, as powerful beings could affect those lives within our control. That we must be careful in those decisions. In every universe we have built, Godiva and I have known who we were. That way our choices in how this Trial played out would be based from what we had learned in the Trials before. In this Trial you were never supposed to be here, and Malphas did not belong. When he escaped and entered this Trail the rules, unknown to us, were altered. When the four of you were pulled in they were altered even more. Once he placed you and Mother in the roles of Kara and Tanis, your memories were bound. Father he kept locked away so he could not interfere. Fallon he did not count on. If I remember correctly, you never mentioned a fourth to him, so he was not ready for Fallon to appear, and sending him back to our plain, locking him out of the Trial, must have weakened him. So he had to wait until he regained enough power to once again manifest here in his true form. Until then,” he looked at Godiva, his expression filled with remorse, “he used us to control you.”

“How do you mean?” Gideon asked, his eyes narrowing.

Adverting his eyes, Satan answered, his voice quiet. “There has always been a voice whispering in my ear, trying to turn me from the path Godiva and I chose for this Trial.” He looked into Gideon’s eyes. “We were tired. We.” Godiva loudly cleared her throat. Closing his eyes, Satan took a deep breath and let it out before once again looking at Gideon, whose expression was not comforting. “Godiva,” he amended, “wanted to do things right this time. Show you that we had learned so we could rejoin you and finally live in peace. I,” he glanced at Godiva, “however, still coveted what was not mine.”

“Sapphira,” Gideon filled in, his voice flat with anger.

Satan nodded. “We were a millennium into the Trial when the voice began to whisper in my ear that he could give me what I wanted if only I would let him in.”

Gideon stood; his expression thunderous. Wisely, Satan took a step back, so he was out of the angel’s reach.

“I never dreamed that one entity could escape their own realm let alone enter another, and the trial Malphas was created in was so long ago I did not remember him. You have to believe me, if I had known who that voice belonged to I would have never allowed him in,” Satan quickly said, his hands up in the air to either ward off the blows he knew were simmering just under the angel’s surface or show supplication. Whichever kept him in one piece would work for him. “As it was, by the time I did he had too much power and I became a prisoner in my own mind. I had to stand by and watch while he did those horrible things to Sapphira, unable to stop him. Right after he plunged the dagger into her heart two thousand years ago, he released me. I awoke with my hand still wrapped around its hilt, covered in her blood. You cannot imagine the horror I felt….”

“I was there,” Gideon snarled suddenly in his face. “Remember? I was holding her in my arms while you sat there frozen like a small child just realizing that there were consequences he could not live with for his selfish needs. So yes, I can imagine the horror of watching the reason I exist die in my arms. The only thing that saved you from sharing her fate was that I died with her.”

Anger flared in Satan, making him bold. “Don’t talk to me about horror. That was not the first time I had to bury her.” Gideon stepped back, this news shocking him enough his anger drained away. “You may remember the end of the last cycle because you finally remembered who you really were. What you don’t know is you have been here far longer than you realize. That you have died over and over, each time Malphas making sure it was my hand that ended her life. Making sure that every time I stayed alive long enough to bury you both before he forced me to take my own life. I know there is no love lost between us, but it about destroyed me to know I was responsible for your deaths not once, but hundreds upon thousands of times.” He turned and walked away a few paces, cursing the tears that coursed down his cheeks. A sign of weakness that he could no longer hold back.

“Two thousand years ago, Malphas was finally strong enough to supersede the rules and keep Satan alive indefinitely. While he waited for your return, he put the rest of the chess pieces into place.”

“Damien as Aden,” Gideon filled in. He turned his accusing eyes to Godiva. “You were the only one who kept their memories intact. Did you know Malphas had possessed Satan?”

“No,” Godiva answered shaking her head. She turned her sorrow filled eyes to her brother’s back. “Malphas was very careful to keep his presence hidden from me.” She turned back to Gideon, who, by his expression, she knew did not believe her. After all they had done in the past, she could not blame his hesitancy to do so. Pushing that problem aside for another day, she drew the conversation back to what was important. “Brynn went to see if his theory was right about Chris being Fallon to find his farmhouse in flames and Chris missing. That could only mean he was right, and Chris is really Fallon.”

“And now Malphas has him,” Gideon finished. Putting one hand on his hip, the other rubbing his face in exhaustion, Gideon turned towards the window, his thoughts in turmoil. If Malphas had been able to capture Fallon, then he must be more powerful than they first realized. Closing his eyes, he reached out, searching. When a familiar male presence washed over him, a tension he did not realize was there loosened in his body. The pain lessened and he could think past the weariness.

Where is Sapphira? Gideon asked, allowing that weariness to fill his thoughts.

Sleeping, he answered with a weary sigh of his own. The memories of what Malphas had done to her were too much. She….

He did not have to finish his thought. Gideon knew too well what Sapphira had felt, even without their connection. The same horrors were trying to incapacitate him as he stood there. Unfortunately, there was no time to come to terms with them. Pushing them into the background where he could deal with them later, he focused on the blue sky outside the window.

Malphas has…our fourth, he announced. There was a sharp intake of air within his head.

I cannot leave Sapphira alone, and I don’t want that bastard to find her until she has had time to recover. How are you doing?

I’ll survive, he answered ruefully. What are you thinking?

I want you to take Godiva and Satan and find him, he ordered.

You know it’s a trap, Gideon said.

Does it make a difference? he smirked.

Gideon had to smile, although it was not a pleasant smile. More anticipatory evil smile. Of course not. Just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.

Always, my brother. Then he was gone.

Gideon turned towards the two demi-gods patiently waiting for him. “Take me to the farm. If I know anything about Malphas, he will want us to find him, so he’ll have left some clues behind.”

“He did,” Brynn said from the bedroom doorway.

As one, they turned to see the mortal dressed in a black battle suit made from material that could withstand the coldness of space without hindering his ability to fight. Over his suit and black boots that reach just under his knees was a dark leather duster that hid numerous weapons from his time as Colin’s assassin, and while he had been on the run with Sapphira that he had been hiding in woods behind the farmhouse. Before them stood not a farmer, but a battle harden warrior whose eyes showed nothing of what he was feeling inside and every bit as deadly as the angel who regarded him with wary eyes.

“We are not going against the mortals you are used to. Malphas is a demon whose power may rival my own,” Gideon cautioned.

“I may be mortal, but I am not naïve when it comes to those with ‘power’. I have a few tricks of my own he will not see coming,” Brynn smirked. “Besides, in this world your Sapphira is also my wife. I will not allow one more power hungry bastard use her as his pawn.”

“Malphas is not after power,” Godiva corrected.

Brynn’s eyes narrowed on the Goddess. “To hell he’s not,” he growled. Taking a step into the room, he narrowed his eyes further. “At the moment, you are not one of my favorite people, Selene. I suggest you stay out of my way. And you,” he snarled, pointing his finger at Satan when he opened his mouth to defend his sister, “I will deal with later.”

With a huff, Satan snapped his mouth shut.

“I like you,” Gideon chuckled walking towards the mortal until he stood next to him. “You can stay. Now, what is this evidence you mentioned?”

“This.” Brynn held up an intricately designed medallion that looked as if it were made of gold.

Frowning, Gideon took it from Brynn. The moment his fingers touched the metal, pain scorched down his arm into his body, sending him to his knees. The bedroom fell away until Gideon knelt in an underground cave. On the wall furthest from him, a figure was gagged and chained hand and foot. Their eyes caught, Gideon’s widening in horror as the figure narrowed his, slightly shaking his head. Then he moved his glare to something the left of Gideon. Knowing what he would find, Gideon slowly turned his head until he saw a figure sitting on a throne made up of what looked like the skulls and bones of humans and demons. The figure was one Gideon recognize instantly.

“So nice of you to join us,” Malphas greeted with a smile.

The cold fingers of dread brought on by centuries of abuse from this creature tried to pull Gideon under, but he fought them off. This bastard had taken enough of his existence, he would not allow him to take anymore. He tried to rise to his feet only to have the pain once again drive him back to his hands and knees. When he tried to let go of the medallion he found he could not. The trap had been set and he had blindly walked right into it. If he lived through this, he would never hear the end of it.

Praying that Malphas did not know who he had chained to the wall, that he thought it only Sapphira’s son he wished to use as bait, he hissed, “Release the child.” Hanging his head, Gideon tightly closed his eyes as the laughter that filled his nightmares filled the room.

“You dare to make demands of me?” Malphas sneered. “You, who with all your power, all your strength could not defeat me?” A clawed hand clamped painfully around Gideon’s neck forcing him up until he was on his knees, the hand that did not hold the medallion clutching the wrist of the hand around his neck. Chains rattled in the silence. Opening his eyes, Gideon found himself staring into crimson ones full of rage. Teeth razor sharp moved closer so Malphas could whisper angrily in Gideon’s ear, “Even now you cannot hope to escape me. I own you and that bitch you stole from me! I will have back what is mine or her son will pay for your disobedience with his life, once I am done playing with him, of course,” Malphas sneered.

Gideon froze. He couldn’t help it. The atrocities that the demon had heaped on him in this Trial were still fresh in his mind. They were something he would not wish on his worst enemy, let alone the brother he would give his life for. Anger pushed back the fear.

“Over my dead body,” Gideon wheezed glaring at the demon.

Moving so his eyes were inches from Gideon’s, their noses almost touching, Malphas hissed, “With pleasure.”

Chapter 36
Chapter 38

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 36

Chapter 36

Godiva had just placed the still unconscious Gideon on the bed Sapphira had once lain on when there was another flash by the door. Thinking Damien had returned, Brynn turned to tell him his idea and froze, his smile sliding into a scowl. While he had never met him, Brynn knew the being that now stood in the doorway looking calm yet far from harmless was Caius. Or was it Satan? To be honest, all these new identities were beginning to confuse him. Either way this creature had cause them all a lot of pain.

“You!” Brynn snarled stepping towards Satan.

“Think very carefully, my friend, before you do something unwise,” Satan calmly cautioned.

“You and I have never nor ever will be friends,” Brynn snapped. “Not after the horror you have put someone you claimed to love through.”

“What I have done?” Satan laughed. His eyes traveled to his sister who sat glaring at him. “What tall tales have you been telling today, Godiva.”

“Only the truth,” she answered no inflection in her tone to give hint to what her mood was. Only her eyes spoke of anger and distrust.

“You would not know the truth if it bit you in the ass,” Satan snapped his pretense of a calm evaporating as he scanned the room.

Power flowed out from him, thick and hot, filling the room before pushing outwards. Brynn had a moment to realize how powerful the being before him was before all that power snapped back, pulling him a couple of steps forwards with its momentum.

Satan’s eyes narrowed on Godiva. “Where is she?” he demanded.

“With Father. Where I don’t know,” she answered primly, settling herself back in her chair.

“I felt the wards collapse first, then the barriers that hold their memories snapped,” Satan said, once again calm.  He moved into the room until he stood at the end of the bed staring at Gideon. “And I am not the only one,” his voice confused. Pointing at Gideon, he turned to look at Godiva. “Why didn’t he go with them? They are never far from at least one of their sentinels.”

“He was supposed to look for Fallon, but the chains you helped Malphas wrap around Mother are still firmly in place,” Godiva answered, her voice telling Satan how much this news really angered her. “The moment she disappeared with Father, he collapsed to the floor.”

“Did they take the baby too?” he asked looking around the room.

The silence that followed that question was deafening.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Satan asked after he looked from Brynn to Godiva and back when he received no answer from either.

“Kara…I mean Sapphira, lost the baby,” Brynn finally answered quietly.

Satan’s expression slowly changed from disbelief to rage so fine that Brynn took a step away from the immortal. Thankfully, he then turned that rage onto Godiva.

“What did you do,” he snarled stepping towards her.

To Godiva’s credit she did not even flinch.

“It was an abomination,” she hissed.

“It was my child!” Satan roared his fist hitting his chest as he took another step towards the goddess, who stood up.

“No, Satan. It was Malphas’s. He may have wanted you to believe that in that small reprieve he gave you that you fathered the child, but in reality Mother was already pregnant by then.” When Satan deflated at this news, the loss and horror of what he had been forced to do to someone he claimed to love etched in his expression, Godiva moved that small space in-between them, wrapping her arms around him. With a choking sob, Satan wrapped his arms tightly around his sister, clinging to her as his legs gave out from under him. Taking both of them to the floor.

“I tried to stop him,” he sobbed. “I thought that once I broke free…gasp…I could throw him out…gasp…that I could banish him. He was too strong. He was just too strong!”

Brynn did not know what to make of the seemingly broken man in his sister’s arms. This was not the monster he had learned about through Damien then Sapphira. This male had been just as used and tortured as the others, only his wounds were not on the outside. They were within, and the hardest to heal.

Quietly moving towards them until he caught Godiva’s attention and she looked up, her eyes stricken, Brynn quietly said, “I think I may have an idea where this Fallon might be.”

“Where?” she gasped, desperation thick in her voice.

“I want to make sure before I tell anyone.” He glanced at the still unconscious Gideon. “So far, this demon, Malphas, has been able to take down three very powerful immortals. I don’t want to chance he is somewhere listening to us and I endanger the fourth.”

Nodding her head a little to quickly, Godiva wiped a tear from her cheek. Swallowing hard, she half gasped half whispered, “Good idea. I will stay here and guard Gideon while I try to calm my brother.”

With a small nod of his own, Brynn ran out the bedroom door, down the hallway then stairs, jumping over the dead males, and out the door. As he leaped over the stairs to the ground, he prayed he was not too late. They needed one immortal who had his head on straight, or else he feared they were all lost.

*    *    *

Sapphira slowly became aware of her surroundings. She lay on a comfortable bed in a room that felt vast in size. Open as if maybe they were outside. That didn’t make any sense. Why on earth would she be outside? Opening her eyes, she stared up at the impossibly high ceiling made if rock. Okay. Not what I expected.

I guess the next question was, what did she expect? Memories that were hers yet not fought for dominance with who she knew she was and who she was not. Feeling a headache brewing of magnificent proportions, Saphira took in a deep breath, held it for a moment then slowly let it out, willing her mind to settle into blankness. Once her mind settled she tried to bring forward the last thing she remembered. Two memories pushed their way forward. The first of a farmhouse with three men, two who looked vaguely familiar and one she had never seen before yet also felt very familiar, discussing a danger that lurked nearby. The second was of the Orb room. Of her and Damien watching their children, of reaching out to touch the orb and coming away feeling unclean, sticky.

Sapphira’s eyes flew open as she sat up, gasping for air. They were being pulled into the orb by something malevolent. Something that did not belong in that universe. Something that desperately wanted her and Gideon back under his control. What he ended up with was more than he bargained for.

“Malphas,” she hissed, anger surging through her.

As per the rules of the Trials, the moment they landed hard on the cold dirt covered rock floor of a cave very similar to this one, their powers had been restricted. What did not happen per the rules was that the memories of who they were had not been immediately bound so they could play the roles Godiva and Satan had created for them unhindered. Instead, Damien was instantly put in a large square cage that hung from the ceiling while still disoriented from being pulled through the barriers of their universe into this one. With a cry of rage mixed with disbelief, Fallon had been thrust back out while in mid-stride, sword raised, ready to cleave their captor in two. Before Gideon could rise to defend Sapphira he was gagged and bound in chains from shoulders to feet and left on the dirt floor. No matter how much he struggled, cursed, he could not break free. Sapphira had been left where she landed, groaning in pain both physically and mentally. When she rolled over onto her back and opened her eyes, Malphas was standing over her, smiling, something dangling from one hand, the other behind his back. When Sapphira focused on the vile piece of metal her blood had frozen in her veins.

“Hello, my dear,” Malphas cooed.

Her hand flew to her neck to find it bare. “How?” she breathed looking around her, fearing the worst. That since she had remembered who she was Malphas had her brought back to the cave where it all started. Yet as she looked wide eyed around her, she realized this was not the same cave. It was too big, and too open. The cave they first appeared in felt as if it were deep underground, the earth above them pressing down, suffocating. Then where was she?

Frowning, Sapphira threw the covers off and slipped from the bed, revealing that she was wearing a white linen male’s shirt that fell to mid-thigh and little else. Okaaay. Her frown deepening, she looked around the enormous cave. The bed was at the back away from the large opening that looked out into the afternoon sky. Other than the sky, she could see the tops of trees that told her the cave must be very high. To one side was a kitchen complete with sink and water pump, some sort of cooler that looked like a small refrigerator and a cast-iron woodstove. Shelves lined the grey rock above the counter filled with dishes and cups, and worn cupboards lined the bottom under the counter.

Sitting in front of the counter was a wooden table that looked like it had seen better days surrounded by mismatch chairs. Across from the kitchen was a fireplace hewn into the wall with a fire blazing in it, an old couch, two worn but comfortable looking plush armchairs and a couple of small tables. Cluttered along the walls, on the table, under the small tables, and along the back of the couch were books. Hundreds of books and papers everywhere. Most of them were in languages long forgotten. Some of the books were dry and brittle with age as were the papers. In all, the cave had a feeling of being very old and well used, but where was here? And who lived here? Better yet, how did she get here?

Another question came to her. Where was Gideon? He would have never left her side for this long. Once she woke with her memories returning his would have too and he would have come to her. A chilling thought crossed her mind. If he could not come to her then Malphas must have him, but if that was so then…where was the pain? None of this made sense.

Malphas’s words came back to her.

“I have fought long and hard to find you,” he said, squatting down next to her. Reaching out, he started to touch her cheek with the back of his hand. All Sapphira could do was stare in horror at the demon above her, terror freezing her where she lay.

“Don’t touch her!” Damien snarled, pulling at the bars of his cage hard enough to start it swinging.

Fallon growled low in his throat, his eyes turning black as night. Something that should not have happened if the rules of the Trial were in place. Beside her, Gideon grew still, his eyes riveted on the necklace in Malphas’s hands. Memories, horrors, of the time he and Sapphira were trapped within its spells freezing him in place as they did her. Memories that leaked out onto the rest of them.

Malphas’s eyes moved to Damien’s. “What I choose to do with my pets is no concern of yours.” Then he saw Fallon’s eyes. Frowning, Malphas stood and walked over to stand before his cage. “You, my friend, are a conundrum.”

“Let me out and I’ll show you just how much you do not know of me,” Fallon snarled.

“I think not,” Malphas mused. “I think it is a good thing I reinforced these cages with spells to keep you from using your magic. Even so, if I am to concentrate on what needs to be done, you need to be thrown back from whence you came.” With a flick of his hand, Fallon was thrown towards the back of his cage and with a flash was gone.

“What did you do with him?” Damien demanded.

“Just as I said. I sent him home,” Malphas answered still frowning at the empty cage. When his eyes turned to Damien, they narrowed. “Which is a much better place than where you will be spending eternity my lord,” sneering the title as if it was something vile. Turning his back to Damien in dismissal, his sneer turned into a smile when his eyes landed on Sapphira. “Now, where was I?” he asked cheerfully. “Ah, yes. I was about to reclaim my pets. You were very naughty leaving me,” he chided as he walked to Sapphira and once again squatted down next to her. “For your disobedience I have no choice but to punish you. What better way than to have you play out what I have devised for the heroine and hero of this little story your lovely children have so graciously provided for me.” His eyes moved to Gideon who lay glaring at him. “Although I have made a few…tweaks here and there.” His smile slide into something full of evil intent.

His eyes widening with a fear he rarely felt, Gideon began to struggle harder to get free as Malphas turned his attention back to Sapphira, slowly lowering his hand to her forehead. The last thing Sapphira remembered was that laughter ringing in her ears.

Her fist clutched to her chest, her breathing coming in gasps, Sapphira’s knees buckled and she landed hard on the cold floor, her free hand keeping her from completely collapsing. Staring down at the rock under her, the memories of her life as Kara assailed her. Colin had not been far off when he blamed another for the atrocities he heaped upon her. Although it had not been Caius, but Malphas whispering horrors in his ear, and because of one of those ‘tweaks’ Malphas had place on Kara’s character, she had enjoyed every bit of what had been done to her.

Nausea assailed her; her stomach heaved but she had no food to throw up. It did not stop her from dry heaving over and over until her stomach and ribs ached and her head pounded fiercely, threatening to send her into oblivion.

“Sapphira!” an alarmed voice cried out.

“Damien,” she breathed listing to the side, spots dancing before her eyes. Before her shoulder hit the ground, strong arms caught her.

“I’m here,” he breathed in her ear as he held her tightly to him. “I’m here.”

Her soulmate was here, holding her. Their memories were returning in bits and pieces. They were still weak, yet they must face a demon with enough power to pull them into another universe and bind them to him, keeping them prisoner for thousands of years. The necklace was gone, but were they truly free of his spells? Could they fight him and win? Or would he enslave them once more and destroy everything they had built in his need for revenge?

As the world swam before her, Sapphira tried to stay in the here and now. She could not afford to lose consciousness and put them all in danger. Together they were strong, apart….

“Where are Gideon and Fallon?” she whispered.

“I left Gideon at the farm. I don’t know where Fallon is. Gideon was supposed to look for him and meet us here when he found him,” Damien answered. Shifting her so she sat more upright, he asked anxiously, “Are you going to stay with me?”

“Trying,” Sapphira wheezed, her eyes tightly closed as the pounding in her head increased. With a blinding flash of pain, everything went dark.

Chapter 35
Chapter 37

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 35

Chapter 35

The dead body at the bottom of the stairs stopped Damien just inside the doorway. Outside he could hear Colin begging for his life. Blaming Caius for every vile act he performed. That his so called Emperor had ordered him to use any means at his disposal to break Kara. With each word, the sun dimmed and the wind gain in speed as the angel’s anger grew. Trees groan in protest, the windows of the house rattle as the gale force winds beat against the house.

Inside it was deadly quiet.

Knowing that the dead body at the bottom of the stairs was probably not alone, fear spiked through Damien as his eyes slowly moved to the top of the stairs. There was a hand dangling over the last stair that lead into the darken hallway above, proving him right. Pushing away the thought that Brynn had been too late, that Sapphira had not been awake to defend herself from the mortals, Damien allowed his power to breathe through the house, searching for any life. Before he could reach too far, pain lanced through his head driving him to his knees. The relief when he saw Gideon hovering in the air, every bit the avenging angel Damien knew he was, disappeared. They may have their memories back, but the chains were still firmly in place. That meant that whatever Gideon did to the two idiots outside would rebound on Kara tenfold.

“Shit,” Damien hissed pushing to his feet.

Grabbing the fallen blaster beside the dead male, Damien took the stairs two at a time, trying to be as quiet as possible. It was obvious Brynn had taken care of at least two threats, but it never hurt to be cautious. Blaster held before him, two-handed, Damien looked over the edge of the floor into the hall. There was the body at the top of the stairs and another further down the hallway where it had crumpled, neither of them Brynn. Stepping gingerly over them, Damien heard voices up ahead. One Brynn’s, the other female and they seemed to be arguing.

“We need to leave,” Brynn snapped.

“Kara is perfectly safe. I will not allow anything to harm her.”

“I can see by the bodies that you can take care of yourself, Selene. But those are mere mortals. Caius is not mortal in any sense of the word.”

“Caius would not harm me or my daughter,” Selene growled.

“What about Malphas?”

There was silence.

Screams of agony from outside ended any further argument. Agony that sent a shiver of remembered pain down Damien’s spine. It was as if Colin was having his flesh peeled away from his bones, ripped apart and burned all at the same time. A cruelty Gideon would have never imagined if it had not been for the overconfident female in the room with Brynn. Time to take that confidence down a few notches.

Damien stepped into the doorway and breathed a sigh of relief. Sapphira lay on the bed curled on her side facing him, sleeping peacefully. Seeing she was safe for the moment he scanned the room, his eyes narrowing when he saw one of the culprits sitting in the rocking chair in the corner, gently rocking back and forth as if she had not a care in the world. When his eyes narrowed further in anger, she looked away, unable to keep her calm façade up any longer. Good. She should be scared.

“He’s rather peeved,” Selene mused, her eyes on the open window where the screaming drifted through.

“I wonder why,” Damien said, his voice flat and angry. Taking the few steps to the bedside, he reached down and brushed the back of his hand across Sapphira’s cheek. Outside the screaming continued as the smell of burnt flesh began to waft through the open window.

“What is he doing to them?” Brynn frowned.

“Probably best not to know,” Damien answered grimacing. Turning that grimace into a scowl, he looked at Selene…or who he now knew was Godiva. A true goddess, but not in the way that Brynn thought. “Why isn’t she in pain?”

“Because I am blocking the necklace from sensing what Gideon is doing,” Godiva answered with a small smile. “There are benefits of being the creator of all that is.” She waved her hand to encompass the room and probably all that was outside it.

“Yet with all that power you could not see what was happening right in front of your nose,” Damien snapped. Moving so he loomed over her, he snarled, “Did you even know we were here, or did you turn a blind eye to what that bastard was doing to her for some twisted need of revenge?”

“What are you talking about?” Brynn asked not liking what Aden was insinuating. “What revenge?” When Aden did not answer, he took a step towards the two powerful pissed off beings and growled, “Aden! Answer me!” Was that ten kinds of stupid? Probably, but this was his wife they were talking about and he wanted answers.

Damien stood back, his anger filling the room. “We are not who you think we are. My name is not Aden. It’s Damien. Kara’s real name Sapphira and she is my mate, the other half to my soul. Literally. This creature,” his eyes narrowed on the female in the chair who had the sense enough to cower, “is Godiva. For all intent and purpose, our daughter.” He turned to Brynn. “To make this as simple as possible, Sapphira and I are the beginning of everything. We were the first sentient beings to come into, well, being. Long story short, Godiva and her brother Satan needed to learn a simple lesson. That life is precious and that our choices can create or destroy that life. That we, as old and omniscient as we are, must be very careful with how we use that power. Because they chose not to understand this and did not care what the consequences of their actions were, Sapphira and I created what we call trials. They were to create a universe of their own and keep it spinning, keep it balanced between good and evil, life and death. The demon, Malphas, was from one of those very first trials.”

“One they obviously failed,” Brynn added quietly. While the thought that the creatures before him were the creation of all was mind-boggling, if not downright insane, Brynn could feel some truth to what the being before him was saying.

“One of many,” Damien said, his eyes once again narrowing on Godiva. “Where is your brother?”

“Satan is on his ship, currently under the influence of Malphas,” Godiva answered brushing her robes, smoothing some unseen wrinkle.

Damien froze.

“Caius is Satan?” he snarled.

Godiva was out of her chair and behind it before Brynn could blink. “You must remember, Damien. You were not supposed to be here this time. You were only supposed to watch from a distance. We had absolutely no idea Malphas had pulled you into this trial or put you in the place of the players we had already established.”

“Bullshit!” Damien spat. “You have learned nothing.”

“That is not true!” Godiva shouted. Her anger overriding her common sense, she stepped out from behind the chair to face the enraged being before her. “We followed your rules. We cared for every creature as if they were our own child. We allowed them free will and we kept the balance between good and evil. We did not invite Malphas into this universe. He broke in.”

“However, it was you who created him,” Damien reminded his voice cruel.

“It was you who allowed him to continue living when he should have been destroyed,” she yelled stepping another step forward in her rage. “Don’t blame me when your high and mighty ideals come back and bite you in the ass!”

Brynn watched from the other side of the room as the two immortals stood nose to nose, glaring at each other. He could feel the power build, pressing down on him, making it hard to breath. A part of him, the sane survive at all cost part, screamed at him to leave before they imploded and took him with them. The bigger part of him that stepped in front of a blaster to save those he loved moved a little closer to his wife. He did not care who they said they were, he was not leaving her alone while she slept unawares of the danger in the room. A movement from the corner of his eye drew his attention to the bedroom door. Tanis…no, Gideon was standing at the threshold frowning at the two snarling beings.

“Did I miss something?” he asked calmly. When no one answered, or moved, he turned his gaze to Brynn.

Taking a deep breath and letting it out in a huff, Brynn said, “From what I understand, Aden, I mean Damien, is angry with,” he paused frowning, not remembering what Selene’s other name was.

“Godiva,” Gideon provided.

“Godiva,” Brynn repeated suddenly remembering, “because of who Caius really is.”

“And that is?” Gideon prompted the two immortals again, turning his eyes back to them. Whatever the answer was, by the look in Damien’s eyes he was not going to like it.

“I think she said his name was Satan,” Brynn answered.

“Come again?” Gideon asked not quite sure if he heard Brynn right, his voice a calm that his worst enemy would cower from. Since the mortal did not know him or what that name meant, he had no reference to warn him that being in the room was probably detrimental to his continuing health.

“You heard him,” Damien snapped turning his attention to Sapphira, completely dismissing the goddess who still stood fuming behind him. Carefully sitting down on the edge of the bed, he brushed the hair that had fallen into Sapphira’s face away. Smiling and making happy humming noises in her sleep, she rolled over onto her back, revealing the necklace around her neck. Whatever calm Damien had gained by touching his mate disappeared as he stared down at the piece of filth that was effectively their chains in this universe. Looking closer he hissed, a distant memory surging to the surface.

It was early in the trials. Maybe the hundredth attempt, a small number when you live forever, yet Damien was beginning to lose hope his children would ever learn. Deciding to not participate in this particular trial, he watched from the safety of the orb room as they struggled to maintain balance as the universe spun ponderously towards its inevitable end. While for him it would take what the mortal’s calendar paced as a few months, to those inside the orb it would be millions upon millions of years.

In staying on the outside looking in, Damien could not interfere with what was going on within. Something that was becoming increasingly difficult as he watched his mate struggle through the horrors their children heaped upon her and her guardian.

“What are they doing to her this time?” a low familiar voice asked with a weary sigh.

Damien looked up towards the door at the imposing figure standing their frowning at the swirling colors in the orb. Dark as the abyss black hair that reached his shoulders, well over seven feet tall and built for battle, Fallon sauntered into the room, the tight leather pants creaking with newness as the long sleeved white linen shirt billowed around him. As the images in the orb became clearer, his frown deepened. Damien had to smile at the impressive male beside him because he looked more pirate than avenging angel, even with bare feet and no weapons. Fallon was one of two who had been created as his and Sapphira’s sentinels after they realized their children, their first creations, could not be completely trusted. Over the centuries the two had become much more than mere guards to Sapphira and himself. They had become close friends, confidents, lovers. While he and Sapphira could protect themselves, one of the angels were never far from their sides.

“It’s not the children,” Damien answered, his eyes moving back to the orb, his smile slipping away. “It’s the demon. Malphas. Somehow he has figured out who Sapphira and Gideon are and is trying to capture them so he can use them to escape the confines of this,” he gestured towards the orb, “universe into ours.”

“Can he do that?” Fallon asked his eyes wide with shock.

Damien slowly shook his head, one arm going around his waist so he could rest the elbow of the other on it while he rubbed his fingers over his lips, his eyes narrowing in thought. “I don’t know,” he answered softly.

“Explain?” Fallon prompted frowning when Damien would not elaborate.

Glancing at Fallon, his eyes went back to the orb. “Technically, the beings from one universe cannot break the barrier that divides the other universes from it and enter.”

“Technically,” Fallon repeated warily.

“Yes,” Damien said looking at his friend, his eyes showing his worry.

“What is different about this time?”

“This time, Godiva and Satan trusted too blindly, and they gave the wrong person too much information in the form of a prophecy. That information has fallen into Malphas’s hands. As convoluted as prophecies can be, he has figured out the hidden meaning behind this one. That there are multiply universes, and the veil that separates them can grow thin with time. If you know what to look for and you have enough power, you can cross through those thinnings.”

“Which is why he wants Sara and Gideon,” Fallon finished once again looking at the orb. “But how did he find out who they were?”

“That I don’t know, and that troubles me. What is worse is he has created a device that may bind Sapphira to him.”

A huge sword with an intricately carved metal handle that fit around his hand making it more of an extension of his arm then an deadly accessory suddenly materialized in Fallon’s hand. “That cannot happen,” he growled.

“Easy, my friend,” Damien soothed placing his hand on the wrist of the hand that held Fallon’s sword. “You know the rules. We cannot interfere.”

“Who made up that stupid rule?” he snarled.

“I did,” Damien answered flatly, his eyes narrowing at the insult.

Fallon grimaced at him. “Why?” his voice clearing telling the immortal that he was ten kinds of an idiot for doing such a thing. It was one of the drawbacks of becoming so familiar with each other. It was also one of those times Damien longed for the good old days when Fallon and Gideon did as they were told without questioning the reason behind it.

“Because if we kept interfering when things went sideways, nothing will be learned,” he growled.

Wisely, Fallon clamped his mouth shut. Although his eyes said everything he wanted to. Ignoring him, Damien turned back to the orb. “We just have to pray that Sapphira and Gideon remember who they are before it is too late.”

While they had managed to keep the powerful demon from escaping his own universe, they hadn’t been able to stop him from enslaving Sapphira and Gideon. It had taken Godiva and Satan years before they were able to free them and return to the safety of their plain, but the cost had been great. And now the bastard had the cursed necklace around Sapphira’s neck once more. The difference this time was Damien was here. Frowning, he looked at Gideon.

“Where is Fallon?”

“Good question,” Gideon answered his eyes going to Godiva. “I assumed he was Caius.”

“I have not seen him,” Godiva frowned, her eyes going distant as she wracked her brain for any sign of the angel she could have mistaken for something else.

Gideon’s looked back at Damien. “Maybe he wasn’t pulled in?”

“No, I remember him grabbing onto me. He has to be here somewhere.” Damien looked back down at the necklace. “I need to figure a way to remove this accursed thing.” Standing, he reached down and gathered Sapphira into his arms before turning towards Gideon. “You and Godiva look for Fallon. I’m going to take Sapphira someplace safe and try to break the spells around us.”

“How will we find you?” Gideon asked.

“As soon as the necklace is destroyed our connections should be reestablished. You’ll know then it is safe to come.” With a flash he was gone.

Gasping, Gideon fell to his hands and knees.

“What’s wrong?” Brynn asked moving to kneel beside the angel.

“The rules of this universe still bind us. Here I am one of Sapphira’s mates, or as you know her Kara. To be apart is….” Tightly closing his eyes, Gideon hissed in pain, his fingers curling into fists as he rode out the spasms that wracked his body. “Painful,” he squeezed out.

“How are you supposed to look for your friend if you cannot function without Kara?”

“Good question,” he whispered just before he collapsed onto his side, unconsciousness.

“Well, that is problematic,” Godiva huffed.

Sparing the female a glance that told her exactly what he thought of her and that comment, which wasn’t much, Brynn’s eyes moved to the open window. An idea forming that might just save all their lives.

Chapter 34
Chapter 36

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 34

Chapter 34

Brynn sat on the top stair of the porch staring at nothing in particular. He was too lost in memories long forgotten to notice the sun moving across the sky, marking time passing since they last heard from Aden.

There was a lot that his family did not know about him and his time away. All they knew was someone by the name of Colin had kidnapped him at the age of fourteen and taken him off planet, but they did not know what had happened after that. That he had been forced into service as one of his soldiers, and in order to survive he had trained hard to become one of his best most trusted assassins. They knew that while he was away he had met Kara, who was from a different planet that was a lot like theirs and married her. They did not know that Kara and Brynn had lived on the run for two years, hiding from bounty hunters and various viscous warlords enticed by the large bounty on their heads before he and a very pregnant Kara returned to his home. They never knew the amount of blood and pain it took to get here, or the nightmares that plagued them for years afterwards. Of the instances where they had barely escaped with their lives. It was not until Colin had kidnapped Kara the second time that Brynn had told them of how dangerous Colin was, what he wanted Kara for.

Looking down at the blaster he held loosely in his hands, Brynn wondered what his life would have been like if he had not gone on that hunting trip. He guessed it did not matter now, and truth be told, he would not trade any of the horrors that followed because it brought him Kara and his children. Tightening his grip on the blaster, his eyes went back out to the garden and the beauty before him. Maybe today he would finally be able to exact his revenge on the bastard that had uprooted their lives more than once.

It had only taken a few shots for Brynn to remember how to use the blaster in his hands. Over the years, he had kept up his hand to hand combat skills, making sure his children knew how to defend themselves beyond their magical abilities, but nothing on this planet could match what was in his hands. What was coming today.

When they found out Kara was pregnant in some backwater dingy motel they were hiding in, they had made a pact that once the baby was born, if either one of them were captured the other would not come looking for them. That the safety of their child came first and foremost. When Kara’s horse had come back without her one morning and his world crashed down around him, Brynn realized how stupid that promise had been. Yet he had kept it and raised their son with the help of his family. That did not mean he had not looked for Kara by calling in every favor they had made over their years of running. What he found out had chilled him, and once the Emperor had her, he knew there was no way he could bring her home.

When she had returned to him six years later, and he held her in his arms, it was the first time he had taken a full breath in years. Now the bastards that had started their nightmare were back to claim what was not theirs. Brynn could not lose her. Not to them, not again. Today he would make sure they died a very slow and painful death.

A noise behind him brought Brynn out of his musings. Looking up, Tanis dropped next to him on the stairs, staring out into the garden his face pale.

“How is she?” Brynn asked putting the blaster in the holster at his thigh. When Tanis did not answer him, Brynn’s concern rose. He and Kara had been upstairs talking for the last, Brynn looked at his watch and hissed. It had been over an hour since Aden had left. Looking back out at the garden, his eyes searched for any sign of movement. Where the hell was he? He turned back to the man next to him who still had not answered his question. “Tanis. Kara?” he pushed.

“She’s sleeping,” Tanis sighed rubbing his face wearily.

“Then why are you so pale?”

“We just spend the last hour and a half going over the…finer details of what Malphas has done to her, and before him, Colin.” He took a shuddering breath. The easiest way for them to do that was for Kara to show Tanis what had happened. The upside was he would understand better what she had gone through. The downside was that he understood a little too well what she went through because with those images came what she felt at the time, emotionally and physically.

“Aden said he hadn’t told us everything,” Brynn said warily.

“No, he didn’t,” Tanis answered quietly looking down at his hands. “I knew Malphas was a monster. I just never thought …. And Colin,” Tanis did not finish his thought. Closing his eyes tightly, he tried to will the images out of his head. After a moment, he opened them again, staring out at the garden, trying to replace the ugliness in his head with its beauty. “Have you heard from Aden.”

“No,” Brynn growled.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m not sure,” Brynn answered slowly as he scanned the area before him. “I can feel Colin is out there, but why hasn’t he shown himself. The better question is, why hasn’t Aden called us with an update?” He held up the communicator that had been sitting on the porch next to him. “It’s been over an hour.”

Tanis regarded Brynn for a moment, sizing him up. Along with the other information, Kara shared the time when she and Brynn where fighting to survive in a universe that was unfriendly at best, and downright hostile to what it considered lower life. Which was what Kara and Brynn had become in order to stay hidden. He also knew there was no love lost between Brynn and Aden, something Tanis understood all too well, but he also knew Aden. He would never put Kara in harm’s way if he could help it.

“As much as I hate to admit this, in this lifetime Aden knows Kara better than either of us,” Tanis said quietly.

“That is not entirely true,” Brynn growled. “She has been with me just as many years as she been with him. Some of those were when Colin had us imprisoned and the time after we escaped.”

“But not in the years after Colin and broken her, when he had used her mercilessly. And not when Malphas had sunk his claws into her.” Tanis answered quickly when Brynn opened his mouth to disagree. Slamming it shut, he glared at Tanis. “Those years she never told you what was done to her and what she had to do to survive.” Brynn looked away, but not before Tanis saw the haunted look in his eyes. It was the same look he saw every time he looked in the mirror. “Listen, I’m not exactly happy about it either, but if it wasn’t for Aden, Kara would have died a long time ago.” Hesitating as painful memories assailed him, he continued in a much softer tone. “After we found her in Malphas’s room, I couldn’t reach her. Only Aden could. Even after what we saw this afternoon I still don’t understand how or why, but I can no longer deny that they are closely connected. Whether we like it or not he is a part of this, and I know without a doubt he would risk his life for hers.”

“Then why did he allow Malphas do those things to her?” Brynn asked angrily, glaring at the demi-god.

“For the same reason I allowed it,” Tanis whispered.

Brynn’s look of utter shock turned into a glare as those words sunk in. “Allowed it?” he snarled.

“If we tried to stop him, or refused to do as he ordered, the punishment would have been far worse for all involved.” Tanis paused, trying to find the words to explain what he had come to realize. “I don’t think Colin finding Kara was chance.”

“What do you mean?” Brynn frowned.

“Since the beginning of time there has been a set course for the universe. A master plan, if you will. Kara, Caius and I have been a major part of that master plan, as have the mortals that bear our children, such as you and my wife.”

“And who decides this master plan?” Brynn asked. Something about the thought of some being deciding their fate, deciding that Kara go through the horrors she had rubbed him wrong.

Brynn’s words pulled at something in the back of Tanis’s mind. A thought or memory trapped by some force he did not quite understand that desperately wanted to escape. Frowning, Tanis asked, “What did you say?”

“Who decides the master plan? Who is so powerful that they can dictate what happens in the universe? Who dies and who lives? Why do they believe they are above the rest of us?”

“Because they have to learn,” Tanis whispered. It was all that would come forward. That there was a lesson that had yet to be learned. Pain exploded inside his head. A bright white light blinded him as he cried out, clutching his head. From the open window above them, Kara’s scream pierced the air.

Someone did not want them to remember.

“What’s wrong?” Brynn asked catching Tanis as he slumped over onto to him.

“Memories. Trying to…break free,” Tanis squeezed out just before another piercing pain shot through his head. It was as if someone were taking a knife and driving it into his brain. Unable to stop himself, he screamed along with Kara.

Looking from the man in his lap to the doorway into the house, Brynn did not know which to help first. From what he learned, whatever Tanis was trying to remember, if it was something Malphas did not want him to remember then he and Kara would be punished.

“Whatever those memories are, stop trying to remember them!” Brynn commanded.

“Too late,” Tanis hissed.

A scream pierced the air and Brynn was on his feet ready to take a step towards the door when a chilling voice froze him mid-step.

“Well, well, well,” a voice sneered with delight. “If it isn’t our little thief.”

Turning around, blaster drawn, Brynn sought out his target only to find that target was not alone. Ten men fanned out behind Colin with their weapons pointed at him and Tanis. Knowing no amount of training would win this fight, Brynn slowly put his hands up into the air, finger far away from the trigger.

“That’s a good little servant,” Colin praised wickedly as five of the men broke formation, guns still trained on Brynn, and quickly walked up to him.

“Come down the stairs and on your knees,” one of the males barked, his gun never wavering.

Brynn hesitated for a moment, glancing down on the now unconscious Tanis who lay on the porch, before very slowly walking down the three steps to the grass below. The men moved so two were beside him, one lowering his gun only long enough to yank the blaster from his hand, throw it across the yard and once again train his gun on him. The other shoved him forward so they could flank him. Completely surrounded, Brynn glared at their leader. A man he once called friend. He knew what Brynn was capable of and was taking no chances.

“On your knees, hands laced behind your head,” the leader snapped.

When Brynn refused, his only response a narrowing of his eyes, one of the males behind him kicked the back of his knees forcing him down.

“Lace your fingers behind your head,” the leader barked again.

Grimacing, Brynn slowly did as he was told, not wanting to make any sudden moves. Part of him was smug in the knowledge that they feared him enough to take this kind of precaution. The other part knew if Aden did not show soon, or Tanis did not regain consciousnesses, they were all screwed, and Kara would be back in the hands of the sadistic bastard that was sauntering between the guards to stand arrogantly before him.

“It is good to remember one’s place,” Colin sneered.

Now that he was closer, Brynn saw time had not been kind to the male. Making quick calculations, he figured Colin had to be in his seventies by now. The grey hair did not compliment the grey complexion. The clothes, as always, were expensive, but no amount of money can hide a decaying body. Unfortunately, an old body did not mean an old mind, nor did it mean Colin was any less dangerous.

“I was never your servant,” Brynn growled.

“And I suppose Kara was never my slave, but we all know a lie when we hear one,” Colin countered.

“This one is unconsciousness,” one of the guards reported.

Colin frowned at the man behind Brynn. “Do not take any chances with that one. He is more powerful than even he realizes,” he ordered before turning to the man who had been barking orders, his gun still trained on Brynn. “Find her.” With a nod the man motioned for three men to follow and they disappeared into the house.

“Kara is not yours,” Brynn growled, glaring at Colin.

Colin turned his eyes to Brynn, his smile dimming. “Oh, I do believe she is,” he corrected his tone as if he were talking to a child. “I am the one who found her, broke her, there for she is mine. Just as you once were,” he reminded.

Brynn bristled. “Leave, before you regret stepping foot on this planet.”

“And who is supposed to chase me away? You?” Colin scoffed. “You are good, but you are not that good. As for that one,” he waved his hand at where Tanis lay, “right now he is useless to you, and Kara knows better than to disobey me. As for your so called dark sorcerer.”

From one of the many paths that disappeared into garden, Anthony walked into view. When Brynn saw who followed and what they were carrying he ground his teeth in frustration. Their situation had just gone from dangerous to deadly.

Once he was even with his father, Anthony motioned the two men who carried Aden’s bound and unconscious body to drop him at his feet. Once they did they moved back with the others, their weapons drawn, adding ten more men to the others.

Oh goodie, a party, Brynn grimaced. And the main attractions are out cold.

“This one must not be as powerful as everyone claims if mere mortals and a low class wizard can bring him down,” Anthony spat in disgust. He looked around him. “Where is Kara? I want to make sure she is alright. God only knows what the Emperor has done to her.”

The Emperor? What about what Anthony had done to her. Brynn was on his feet before he or anyone else realized what he was doing, a wicked looking knife that had been hidden in his hand. This was the bastard who had taken advantage of Kara when she was at her weakest. Pretended to be a friend, to help her, when all he was doing was using her. Killing him was too merciful, but under the circumstances it would have to do.

“He is mine,” a voice hissed through the air.

The men and their guns that had been yelling for Brynn to go back to his knees turned those guns to something behind him. Just as quickly they dropped to the ground.


Colin and Anthony’s eyes grew wide as they staggered backwards in terror. Brynn had a feeling he knew who was behind him, but he was not ready for what he saw when he turned around.

Hovering just above the stairs with huge white wings spread out behind him was Tanis. Yet at the same time it wasn’t. Brynn could not quite put a finger on it, but there was something very different about the male, aside from the enormous white wings.

Shots from above brought both their attention to the bedroom window.

“Go,” Tanis said when his and Brynn’s eyes locked. There was no hesitation. Reaching down to grab a blaster as he raced by the dead men, Brynn leaped the three stairs and disappeared through the door; the screen slamming shut behind him.

Tanis, no. Not Tanis. Gideon, one of protectors of the heart of the universe, fierce warrior and thoroughly pissed off angel turned his attention to the two males still breathing before him. An issue he was about to remedy. The worry that the spells the demon had wrapped tightly around them, that he still felt lingering within him, made him hesitate.

Do not worry, I will protect her, a female voice breathed through his mind.

And I am supposed to believe you after all you have done? Gideon scoffed. You’ve gone to far this time, Godiva.

The sigh from the female was long and weary. You have a right to be angry, Gideon, but please believe me when I say we did not plan for this to happen. None of you were to be a part of this universe. That was His doing.

We will figure out who is to blame later, Gideon snapped. First I must take care of a few loose ends. Then we will deal with your…mistakes.

As you wish, the female responded humbly.

Humble. That was new. Maybe this time they had learned something. Returning his attention back to the two cowering mortals before him, the wind began to whip around the small garden as Gideon floated down the stairs. Anthony and Colin stumbled backwards, not wanting to be anywhere near the avenging angel.

“It’s not possible,” Colin whispered. “Angels don’t exist. You’re not real.”

“Oh, I can assure you, I am very real,” Gideon smiled. It was not a pleasant smile. “And you have much to atone for. Lucky you, I have an opening in my schedule.”

With a blinding flash, the twenty dead men lying on the ground vanished. The male Anthony thought to be Aden began to groan, his hands suddenly free. Colin and Anthony did not even take notice when he pushed himself groggily to his knees holding his head in pain. Their eyes were glued on Gideon as he glared down at them with eyes filled with fire and black as coal. He was now hovering seven feet above the ground, the ones below him having difficulty holding their feet in the hurricane force winds.

Damien regained his senses enough to dodge a small tree flying through the air, hitting Anthony and knocking him to the ground, pinning him. Staring at Anthony while he groaned in pain then at Gideon in the air, murder in his expression as he glared at Colin, it only took Damien a second to realize he was in the wrong place. Pushing himself to his feet, he staggered towards the angel.

“Where is Sapphira?” he demanded.

That one name and Gideon knew who he was talking to. “In the house,” he answered, his eyes never wavering from his prey. “Brynn and Godiva are with her.”

“Good,” Damien snarled heading for the house. “I could use some stress relief. Beating that female within an inch of her existence would help immensely.”

“Save some for me,” Gideon called as Damien disappeared into the house. His eyes narrowing on Colin, the grin on his face turning Colin’s blood cold. “Now, where were we?”

Chapter 33
Chapter 35

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 33

Chapter 33

This was not the first time Aden had done this. There were many times Kara could not cope, and so she receded into herself, hiding from the pain. Where Tanis knew the immortal woman Kara had become, he did not know the human woman she had been before. Aden did, so he knew where she might be hiding, how hard he could push, where the holes would be. Once inside the first wall of defense he began to search.

There were many barriers, some easier to break than others. Some Aden navigated around, knowing by the feel of them, the flavor, he did not want to enter that particular memory, or he would be lost in her torment, unable to escape. What felt like hours later, he finally found Kara’s consciousness, her true self, in the dark recesses of her mind. Surrounded by thick black walls. Finding no way in, Aden took a calming breath, closed his eyes and bowed his head in concentration as he gently placed his hand onto the surface. With delicate care he began to push his way through the sticky surface designed to keep everything hurtful out. But he was not here to hurt her, and on some level she recognized that he was not a threat. It did not mean she wanted to see him. Humiliation and fear of rejection assaulted him as he slipped inside, the wall inclosing him in darkness, suffocating him as her fears were suffocating her. When he finally pushed through into the room beyond, he found her huddled in a corner, whimpering. Frowning, he realized that she still was covering in blood and bruises from Malphas’s rape. A testament that while her body healed, her mind had not. She was still trapped in the hell that had become her reality.

Steeling himself for her reaction to him being there. Aden approached her cautiously.

“Kara?” he called softly crouching down before her. “Kara. Can you hear me?” Reaching out he gently touched her hair, freezing when she cringed away from him in terror. “I won’t hurt you,” he promised his heart in his throat, the pain evident in his voice. “You know I would never hurt you.”

“You would if he commanded you to,” she countered, her voice barely above a whisper.

Aden pulled his hand back knowing she was right. If Malphas commanded him to harm her, he would have had to obey, or Kara would face far worse. He tried to refuse once. Only once. Aden shied away from that memory. It was Malphas’s favorite punishment, because every time Aden was forced to hurt her it almost killed him. Evidently he would have to once again earn her trust.

“He didn’t send me,” Aden assured. “Tanis did.”

Kara’s low moan echoed around them. It held so much anguish Aden shrank away from her, covering his ears. Through slitted eyes, he watched her tighten her arms around her knees and begin to rock back and forth.

“He can never know. Can never see. If he knew….” A sob escaped her lips.

“I know what he did,” Aden whispered hoarsely, slowly lowering his hands.

Kara stopped her rocking to stare at him fearfully through her tangled hair. Something in his eyes told her he was telling her the truth. That he knew everything Malphas had done to her. Forced her to do to him. It was the agony that mirrored her own that convinced her. Only that level of agony could come from the horrors she had lived in that week.

“How?” she breathed.

“When we found you…tied the way you were…the things we saw in the room. Evidence of what he had done on your body.” Aden closed his eyes swallowing hard to keep the bile down. Opening his eyes, he looked deep into Kara’s frightened ones. “Once you were safely in your room with Tanis, I went to Malphas intent on killing him.”

“No!” Kara cried moving to her knees. “Aden, no!”

“Shhh,” he soothed cupping her cheek with his hand. “I am…alive. As fitting punishment for my betrayal, he decided I should know exactly what he did to you. Every act…every emotion he felt…you felt.” Aden shuddered looking down. Taking a moment to calm his own rioting emotions, he looked to Kara’s horror-stricken face. “I’m only telling you this because you need to understand that you’re not alone.” Aden moved to his knees so they were only a few inches apart, his hand still on her cheek. “I will help you through this, Kara. Tanis will help you, if you will only allow it.” The words burned on Aden’s tongue because he knew once he brought Kara out of her prison Tanis would once again try to keep him away.

“I can’t,” she whispered. “I can’t face him.”

“You can’t hide here either,” Aden countered showing his frustration. “Your body is dying. If you don’t go back, we will lose you. I can’t lose you.”

Kara sat back on her heals so he no longer touched her; her eyes locked with Aden’s frighten desperate ones, trying to decide whether she was strong enough to do this.

“Some of the…memories are too painful,” she finally said her voice small.

“I will help you block them until you are ready to tackle them one by one,” Aden promised. “We will do this together. I will not leave without you, Kara.”

For the first time Kara smiled. It wasn’t a very big smile, but a tentative frightened one. Aden would take it. He reached up to cup her cheek again.

“That’s what I wanted to see,” he encouraged, returning her smile.

Taking a deep breath, he took her hands in his and they both closed their eyes, beginning the long torturous journey back to reality.

*    *    *  

The world still spinning around him, Aden came back to himself with a gasp. Closing his eyes tight, he clung to the tree desperately trying to regain his equilibrium. It had taken hours before he and Kara finally surfaced. Hours of pain and horror. They had been utterly spent, and there were things Aden had learned along the way that left him cold. Things Kara made him promise never to tell anyone. Things that….

Aden stopped breathing, his eyes snapping open. With sudden clarity he remembered what had been nagging him since that day. Deep within her, there had been memories locked away that were…different. Memories of someone who did not look Kara yet seemed to be her at the same time. Of a room filled with orbs, thousands of them, all swirling different colors, all filled with life. Of the two of them standing in the middle of that room, watching an orb that sat on a pedestal, colors swirling within its glass walls. Words being said that felt familiar. Words they had uttered a long time ago.

“Do you think they will succeed this time?” the female asked,

“I don’t know,” he responded moving so he was behind her, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her against him. Resting his cheek gently against her hair, he too watched the orb. “I shudder to think what they have planned for us if they don’t.”

Reaching out, the female gently stroked the orb with her fingertips. In response the colors swirled faster. As she pulled her fingers away, the colors followed. Sticking to her like a spider web sticks to its prey. A feeling of malevolence followed turning the multi-rainbow colors into vibrate red and inky black. The more she tried to pull away, the tighter they wrap around her hand, pulling it back towards the orb.  

“It is hungry for you,” he frowned taking a hold of the female’s wrist, pulling her hand away from the orb. The colors slithered over the female’s hand, reaching for his. Once the strands touched his skin they burned as they bound the them together, once again pulling them towards the orb.

“For us,” the female breathed as they both fought not to be pulled into the orb. Her eyes traveled to the far corner of the room where the orbs were covered in thick dust, muting the colors within. On the floor lay shards of broken glass. A shudder ran through her body.

Two males entered the room, their expressions hardened, weapons in their hands. Wings flared out behind them. One set so pure in its whiteness they glowed. The other the color of the darkest night, glossy as black satin. At once Aden recognized them, the shock of who they were, what they were, reverberating through his body as he finally understood what he was seeing. The woman was Kara, only her true name was Sapphira. His true name was Damien. Together they were reason the universe kept spinning. That the realities in each orb kept moving towards their destinies. They were the beginning of it all. They were creation. They were life. The two angels, for that’s what they were, were Gideon with the white wings and Fallon with the dark. Their most trusted protectors, their brother’s in arms, their closets friends. They were who Aden knew in this reality as Tanis and Caius.

Within the orb before them were their children, and each orb that lined the walls was a representation of a lesson that had yet to be learned. Looking at the broken shards in the corner, Aden/Damien realized that one of those lessons, one of the very first and most dangerous, had escaped.

“We felt evil intent oozing from this room,” Fallon snarled. Then they saw what was happening with the orb.

“Shit!” Gideon hissed. As one they moved to the other side of the orb, glaring at it. Gideon reached for it.

“No!” Sapphira hissed as they struggled not to be pulled in. “It will only ensnare you too. You know what will happen once we fall into their reality. We will forget who we are. What this evil is. We will not able to fight him until it is too late.”

“We will not allow you to go in alone,” Fallon reminded, his eyes narrowed in anger that she dared to even suggest a thing. “We follow you wherever you go, remember.” His eyes looked up at Damien. “Both of you. That was our vow to each other. I will not break it now.”

“Even if you may be of better use out here?” Damien asked the strain of keeping them from being sucked in and the pain as the evil that had ensnared them burned their hands evident in his voice.

“Yes,” Gideon answered.

Damien looked at his friend and saw in his expression there would be no arguing with the angel. With a sigh that went down to his toes, he said, “If you must.”

Both Gideon and Fallon smiled a smile that held more evil intent then good as Fallon answered, “We must.”

At the same time, both angels took a hold of Damien and Sapphira’s hands and together they were sucked into the orb. As with all the other realities, their memories of who they were locked away until they broke free of their restraints and remembered. When the time came where a choice had to be made. To live in harmony, or to destroy what had been made and start over again. Except nothing was ever destroyed. Life of any kind was too precious. That was what the orbs were. Realities that had not taught their children what they needed to learn. Tucked away on dusty shelves to live out their existences as they deemed fit, and now one of those realities had been set loose.

Aden…no Damien, blinked against the harsh sunlight. They had been sucked in too soon by an evil that was intent on destroying the delicate balance of their core existence, and in turn destroy them all. An evil that was named Malphas. He must warn the others.

Using the tree for support, Damien struggled to his feet. Once the world stopped spinning, he realized he was no longer alone.

“It’s not very often one catches a dark sorcerer such as yourself unawares,” a smug voice purred.

Damien froze as the business end of a blaster leveled itself with the side of his head. Still reeling from the what he had just learned, all he could do was raise his hands out to the side to show he had no weapons drawn. Although, he needed none. Just as he was about to send these insignificant players into the next realm, he remembered something Selene had said when she was nursing him back to health.

“There are more players in this game then you realize, my lord. Each one as important as the next. Anthony is one of them. You must allow him to capture you. What happens as a result is the only way Tanis will remember who he is. When they will all remember and break free of their restraints.”

Shit, Damien snarled. The last thing he wanted to do was allow this bastard to overtake him. Not when he needed to warn the others of Malphas’s true intent. Realizing he had no choice; Damien decided the best course of action was to play his part until the truth was revealed.

“I wonder what could have captured the great Lord Sahen’s attention so thoroughly that he forgot the most important rule?” the voice sneered in his ear.

“And that is?” Damien asked as if the conversation already bored him.

Anthony slowly moved so he was standing directly in front of Damien, his blaster still leveled at Damien’s head. “Never forget that your enemy is never far behind.”

“That would insinuate that I had an enemy that I feared enough to care, which I don’t,” Damien smirked. “Although I will say I’m a bit surprised to see you here. How did you manage to break through the wards?”

“With a little help from my mother,” Anthony answered. There was some sort resentment in his voice Damien did not quite understand. “You remember my mother. Queen Maura.”

Ah. That would explain it, Damien thought as a small smile spread across his lips. The last time he had seen the queen she was begging him for mercy. A mercy he had no intention of giving. “Yes. I remember her. How is she?”

“Better since we rescued her from the dungeon her replacement put her in. She is not very happy with you, Sahen. In fact, she asked us to bring you back to her so she can repay you for your…attentions,” he practically snarled the last word, his eyes glowing with his anger.

Damien’s smile faltered. “There is nothing you can do to me that the emperor has not already done.”

“Oh, I’m sure I can think of a few,” Anthony said slyly. “And once we are done here, we will go back to our home planet and take back what is rightfully ours,” he finished with confidence.

Damien would have laughed at the misplaced confidence, but the men surrounding him with blasters persuaded him it would probably not be his wisest idea.

“And what is it you are here for?” Damien asked keeping his voice casual while someone from behind him removed his belt where his communicator and blaster, among other weapons, were kept.

“I’ve come to claim what is mine. What you took from me,” Anthony answered making his voice sound just as causal. If it were not for the blasters you would think they were two old friends chatting in the woods.

Damien’s eyes narrowed, “She does not belong to you.”

“And I suppose because you were the one to take her from me, you have claim to her?” his voice growing angry again. “I was there for her when she needed protection, when she needed rest. She loved me!” he said slapping his chest sharply. “You show up and decide she belongs to your Emperor and you think that gives you claim to her?”

“You don’t understand what you are talking about. You don’t understand what the emperor….”

“To hell with your fucking emperor!” Anthony roared stepping forward, placing the end of his blaster between Damien’s eyes.

It would have been a simple thing to remove the blaster from Anthony’s hands and incapacitate the rest of the men, but not without injuring himself, and he had no idea where Colin or Maura were. With the restrictions Malphas had put on Tanis…no Gideon, and Kara, who he now knew was Sapphira, he was not sure they would be able to fend off an attack without his help. A warmth filled Damien as he realized that the connection, that feeling of one he felt every time he was near Sapphira was because they truly were one. Refocusing on the boy in front of him, Damien continued his role as Aden.

“If you think the Emperor will allow you to take his pet without consequences, you are a fool,” his voice low and menacing. “You play with a fire that will utterly destroy you and your world. Walk away why you can, Anthony. Your life is not worth a woman who does not love you.”

“I suppose she loves you,” Anthony spat.

Yes, his voice growled in his head. Damien closed his eyes taking a deep breath. As much as he wanted to say that one fact out loud, scream it to the heavens, he knew he could not. They were still bound by the chains Malphas had wrapped them in. Voicing the way Sapphira felt for him would only bring the demon’s wrath down on them both, and he would not do that to her.

“Sapph…Kara is not mine.” Not completely, he amended knowing that it was true. Gideon and Fallon may have started out as their protectors, but through the millennium they had become much more. “She belongs to beings more powerful than you or your mother could ever imagine. If you do this, if you take her away from them, you will have the wrath of the Gods rain down around you.”

“I don’t believe in your Gods,” Anthony spat. With a nod of his head, Damien’s hands were roughly pulled behind him and bound. “I don’t even believe you are as powerful as you claim.” He moved so he was nose to nose with Damien. “I think it is time you feel the sting of your own weapon.”

Something hard was rammed into the back of Damien’s skull and fire exploded through his body. The pain was so sudden and so intense he did not even have time to cry out before he crumpled to the ground unconscious.

Chapter 32
Chapter 34

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 32

Chapter 32

Aden stood in the same spot he had only a few months ago watching the peaceful farm. This time his mission was a much different one. To keep Kara’s family safe from a male intent on using every means to own her. Even threatening to kill her children. Aden smiled at that. Colin had no idea who he was dealing with now. Kara was not the frighten mortal who did not know her own power. If she had not been already weakened by that damn necklace, she would be here protecting her own children. Instead she had to rely on those who would give their lives for her. Those who protected her.

Something in the back of Aden’s mind nagged at him. Something important he needed to remember but kept eluding him. There were too many painful memories around the thought. Ones that the demon had forced on him when he had tried to kill him. Memories he had tried repressed but refused to stay buried. Assailing him when he least expected it. Bringing him to his knees at the most inopportune times, leaving him weak and vulnerable.

Like now.

“Noooo,” he groaned through gritted teeth. “Not now.”

Using the tree as support, Aden slid to the ground as he lost the internal struggle. The world swimming before him, the day they found Kara in Malphas’s room resurfaced with a vengeance.

Rage overtaking his common sense, Aden had gone to kill Malphas. The fact that he would also kill Caius, the only father figure he had ever known, did not enter his mind. All he could think of was exacting revenge for the female that lay battered and bruised in her bed. Instead, the demon had shown his true strength. Within a blink of an eye, Aden was in one of the white rooms that Malphas had used to torture them time and time again. Hanging from chains in the middle of the room, Malphas had taken great pleasure in forcing Aden to relive every excruciating minute of pain it forced on Kara in vivid detail. The pleasure caused by that pain because that is what Malphas enjoyed. The utter humiliation because of her curse, the one where strong emotions of others overwhelmed her own, she had enjoyed every minute of what the demon had done to her. His powers bound, there was nothing Aden could do or say to stop the onslaught.

However, the demon was not satisfied with Aden reliving the horrors of the previous week. No. He forced Aden to relieve all the horrors Kara had endured over her existence, the most horrendous being that of this lifetime. Not just once, but over and over for three days without reprieve. Years of torture crammed into a few days, and there was nothing Aden could do to stop him. When Malphas was satisfied that Aden had been taught his place, he was left hanging limp in his chains broken, alone. It had been Selene who had gently released him from his prison, flashing him to his room where she stayed with him until he was able to at least pretend to be sane. In truth, he was barely hanging on.

Aden was not the same man when he finally emerged from his chambers. The tight hold he usually held over his power, his emotions, was brittle at best. Everyone could feel his anxiety and did their best to not draw Aden’s attention as he made his way to Kara’s chambers.

Paying them no heed, Aden had only one goal. To see with his own eyes Kara was all right, was still alive.

Tanis stood when the door slid open, his eyes narrowing as Aden walked into the room. He too looked as if he had had no sleep in the last few days. That added to the strain of being away from Kara for the week and Tanis did not look much better than Aden.

“She’s sleeping,” Tanis informed him coldly.

“Don’t lie to me,” Aden cautioned softly as the door hissed shut. Anything louder and he could not guarantee his fragile control would crack.

Tanis stiffen, his hand coming up as if he wanted to strangle Aden, but then he saw him. Really saw him. The pale complexion, black circles around Aden’s eyes, the haunted look of them. The normal pristine clothes rumpled as if he had slept in them, his hair looking as if he just ran his fingers through it in a vain attempt to control it before it dried. Then he had seen the slight tremor that ran through Aden’s body and his anger evaporated.

“What has he done to you?” Tanis whispered, a touch of fear showing in his voice, his hand slowly lowering.

“The question is, what hasn’t he done,” Aden answered unable to keep the small tremor out of his voice. His eyes slid to the closed bedroom door. “To either of us,” he whispered. Closing his eyes, Aden released a shuttering breath, his entire body following as it swayed.

Tanis’s eyes widen in horror. Aden had disappeared for five days. Had Caius been torturing him the entire time?

“Oh, my Gods,” Tanis breathed, his eyes darting to the closed door between them and Kara

Aden felt Tanis’s panic, knew why he felt it. What had Caius done to Kara? What could he still be doing? Unfortunately, those emotions fed into Aden’s and pushed at his already brittle control. Closing his eyes tightly, Aden struggling to regain control as his power breathed through the room, blanketing everything, making it hard to breathe.

“I need to see her,” Aden whispered desperately, his eyes pleading.

“I can’t allow you in there this out of control, Aden,” Tanis said softly, careful to keep his voice as neutral as possible.

Neither of them had the control or will to keep the other out completely, so Aden heard Tanis’s thoughts. That he considered him a bomb ready to explode, and Tanis was afraid he would take the entire ship with him.

“I would never hurt her!” Aden growled stepping forward, shocked that Tanis would even think such a thing. Again, his power filled the room, this time with a touch of anger that sent little electrical shocks over Tanis’s skin.

“I know,” Tanis assured calmly clearly not wanting to push Aden over that precarious ledge he was desperately clinging too. “I know you would never intentionally hurt her. But right now your emotions are out of control, and she is in no condition to protect herself.”

“What do you mean?” Aden asked, his anger draining away to concern.

Tanis hesitated before answering. As if gathering himself. “Ever since we rescued her from the demon’s room she has done nothing but lay on the bed staring at the wall. I’ve tried everything to reach her, but nothing works. It’s as if she’s shut down, hidden deep inside herself where nothing can touch her.”

Aden squeezed his eyes shut as he once again swayed on his feet, understanding all too well why she would hide.

“You know,” Tanis breathed his voice accusing. “You know what he did to her.”

When Aden opened his eyes to look at him, Tanis stepped back, the color draining from his face as his worst fears were confirmed. The evidence on Kara’s body that was so overwhelming of what Malphas had done to her that he could no longer ignore. Looking at the closed door that lead to their bedroom, the rage that consumed him pushed back Aden’s power and shoved him into the wall, pinning him there.

“I will kill him,” Tanis snarled, his voice low, echoing throughout the room with his power.

“I already tried,” Aden gritted, trying to push Tanis’s hold on him back enough so he could at least breathe.

Tanis looked at him, his eyes as black as the deepest pits of hell. A single thought and he was in Aden’s mind before Aden could stop him, shuffling through his memories. Gritting his teeth, Aden pulled what little reserved he had and pushed Tanis out before he could find what he was looking for. Growling Tanis stepped forward pushing harder.

“If she wanted you to see, she would have let you in,” Aden hissed, his eyes tightly shut with the effort it was taking to keep Tanis out.

After a few moments more of pushing, Tanis finally released Aden.

Aden dropped to his knees, falling forward onto his hands gasping, a fine sheen of sweat covering his body as it shook, black spots dancing before his eyes. Gods that hurt, and while Tanis may not have understood what he was seeing, Aden did. Going down memory lane was not what he needed right now. He was barely holding it together as it was. Using the wall for support, Aden climbed to his feet, waiting until Tanis’s eyes bled back to their normal color before he continued.

“You may not be able to reach her because she is trying to protect you. I already know what he did. She might let me in.” Hesitating, he swallowed hard, unused to showing vulnerability in front of anyone save Kara, he tried to make Tanis understand how desperate he was. “I just need to know she isn’t…,” Aden stopped, choking on his words.

“That she isn’t lying in there bleeding,” Tanis whispered. After a moment of silence, where Tanis studied Aden, he final took a deep breath and released it slowly, his body relaxing. The two of them fighting was not going to help Kara. Finally, Tanis stepped out of Aden’s way.

Hesitating only for a moment, Aden started for the door. Tanis grabbed his arm as he went by, stopping him. Aden stared into the other man’s pain filled eyes.

“Bring her back to me. To us,” he said quietly.

“I’ll try.”

Tanis nodded and released Aden’s arm.

Once the door slid shut behind him, Aden leaned heavily against it. He was weak, very weak. The walk here while trying to keep his powers under control had taken its toll, as did that little power struggle with Tanis. They may have had their differences, but for the love of the woman lying in the bed before him, both men would do anything to protect her. Something they had failed miserably in. Clenching his fists, he closed his eyes willing the memories to go away. Wishing for the strength to put walls around them so he would not see them every time he thought of Kara. Taking a few deep breaths and releasing them slowly, Aden opened his eyes and looked at the bed.

Kara lay on her side, her knees slightly bent, facing the door. A sheet covered her from her breasts down, showing she wore nothing but that cursed necklace. Aden felt his body relax when he did not see any of the blood he feared. Her body was whole. Her mind was another story. Wishing Tanis had not tried his little mind rape that had weakened him further, Aden tentatively reached out once more, trying to connect with Kara. There was a flicker of recognition, but nothing more as Kara continued to stare vacantly. She was in there, somewhere. Now how to find her without losing them both.

Stumbling in his exhaustion, Aden went to the side of the bed, falling to his knees so he was level with her face.

“Kara?” he called softly as he gently stroked her hair. “Kara, can you hear me?” There were dark circles, almost purple, around her eyes. Her face was pale, drawn from lack of food and sleep. Taking one of her hands in his, feeling how frail it was, he brought it to his lips, gently kissing the back of it. “Kara, love, please look at me,” he begged softly, looking into her eyes. “Please see me.” The panic he was keeping at bay roared to the surface when she would not respond, threatening to overwhelm him.

She has gone deeper into herself than either of us realized, he thought. There is only one way I can reach her, but he will not like it.

With a wave of his free hand, his eyes never leaving hers, Aden locked the door. He did not want anyone entering the room and taking advantage of what he was about to do, because he would be helpless to defend either of them.

Removing his clothes, Aden carefully slipped under the sheet behind Kara, pulling her back against him so he touched as much of her as possible. Wrapping his arm around her waist holding her tightly to him as he curled around her, he closed his eyes and allowed his mind to go where it willed. All the excruciating pain he had been forced to endure assailed him at once. Tears sprang to his eyes as he buried his face in her hair. How long had it been since he held her this way? How long had it been since they had been able to make love? Yet they were both so broken neither one of them could finally give in to the need that tore at them every second of every day. A need to be together, to love each other as they wanted, to finish a ritual that would cement their bond for eternity.

Gritting his teeth, he allowed the pain wash over him until the tidal wave began to ebb and he was able to think coherently. This was not the time for wishful thinking. If he could not bring Kara back then they were lost. He was lost.

“Please Kara,” he whispered in her hair desperately. “I need you. I cannot live without you. Please come back to me.” Then, very carefully, he began to push gently at the walls Kara built around her mind.

Chapter 31
Chapter 33

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 31

Chapter 31

The launch bay was chaotic. Technicians running back and forth trying to clear the cramped space of illegal merchandise. Spaceships of all different shapes and sizes were maneuvering to leave. Everyone was running and Kara still did not know from who.

“Who is this person that is causing so much panic?” Kara whispered from the doorway they were hiding in. It was an obscure place in the back corner of the bay that lead to a side hall rarely used.

When Thomas didn’t answer right away, Kara glanced up at him. The considering expression was back again. Kara could feel he was warring with himself about how much he should tell her.

“Thomas?” she prompted suspicion thick in her voice.

Sighing, his shoulders slumped in resignation. “You know it is not fair that you can read me so well,” he protested gently.

“It’s a gift, or curse,” Kara shrugged. “Depends on how you look at it and what day it is.” She was rewarded with a small chuckle.

“Everyone is in an uproar because it’s the Emperor’s emissary that is coming for you.”

Kara could only blink at him in response. The emperor? The most powerful, dangerous being in the universe was looking for her?

“My lady? Are you all right?”

“Why would he want me?” she asked hoarsely. Suddenly running away with Anthony sounded like a much better idea then giving herself over to someone who might be far worse than Colin.

“He has always wanted you. It’s the reason Colin fetched you in the first place. Originally he was supposed to take you straight the emperor, but because he became greedy, you managed to escape him. When he finally recaptured you, instead of taking you straight to the emperor as he was ordered he decided to keep you for himself. We’ve been keeping one step ahead of the emperor’s scouts ever since. Until now, that is,” he frowned looking out at the large doors and space beyond.

In the distance something moved. The stars seemed to swirl for a moment then suddenly there was a large cruiser that dwarfed their ship hovering over them. The silence in the landing bay was sudden and disorienting. Kara held her breath, for not only was the ship impressive, the sudden materialization of armed men in the middle of the bay was even more impressive. It took a moment for the workers to realized they were no longer alone. Once they did they dropped whatever they were carrying and scattered. Soon the only ones left where the five figures dressed in red flight suites with long red capes and boots that reached their knees, and helmets that covered their heads. Each held a long staff that crackled and snapped with some sort of energy.

In the middle of them was another figure dressed completely in black. Except for his hair. That stood out like a beacon amongst the darkness surrounding him, and when he looked directly at Kara as if he knew where she stood, his sky blue eyes pierced her down to her soul.

Suddenly it was hard to breathe. Putting her hand over her chest, Kara gasped for air as she desperately tried to break the hold the dark sorcerer had on her. How did she know what he was? The answer came with a clarity that sent her spinning. She knew because with that one look everything about him was laid bare to her soul. With the same clarity she knew that everything about her had been laid bare to him, and what he saw enraged him.

“Kara?” Thomas called, taking her arm and gently shaking her. “What is happening?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered still entranced by the stranger. No, not stranger anymore. His name was Aden Sahen, or at least it was in this lifetime, and she knew him. Not from anywhere she had been, or anything she may have seen on a news monitor or paper, but from another time long ago. One filled with pain and anger and…. The last she could not quite put a name to. It was strength and peace and a love so profound it took what little breath she had away. With that one look from across a vast distance, Kara was irrevocable his as he was hers, and there was no force in any universe or reality that could break a bond that had been forged before what was known to be the beginning of time.

Without taking his eyes off her, Aden’s lips moved and the men around him slipped away into the surrounding bay. It was only then the fierce predatory expression melted into one of awe and wonder. So entranced by him – were those wings behind him? – Kara did not hear the fighting around her, did not understand the danger until she took a step towards Aden and a hand clamped down over her mouth while an arm slipped around her waist, slamming her against a hard body.

“You are mine!” Anthony hissed in her ear right before he dragged her away from her destiny.

*   *   *

Kara’s eyes opened to see the white shiplap boards of the farmhouse ceiling. Around her tension was high as Brynn and Tanis tried to digest what they just saw. What they could no longer deny.

“What happened after Anthony found you?” Tanis asked quietly.

Resettling herself so she sat up in the chair and could see the two men around her, Kara sighed. “He tried to reach his ship so he could escape with me, but Aden’s men had it surrounded. So he took me back to the command deck where Colin was trying to negotiate his way out of the entire ship being destroyed for betraying the Emperor. He was talking with Aden’s second in command and had no idea Aden was already on the ship.”

“You said you were given a choice as to whether to stay or go with Aden,” Brynn said moving so he sat on the edge of the couch, his elbows resting on his knees as he frowned at Kara. “I felt what you felt when you saw Aden. There was no choice, was there.”

Kara shook her head, her eyes downcast. There was no guilt or regret of what happened that day, only guilt over lying to Brynn.

When she looked up into Brynn’s eyes, she begged him to understand. “I could no more walk away from Aden as I could willing walk away from you.” She turned her eyes to Tanis. “Or you. In that split second we were one.”

“But it is different than it is with us,” Tanis said, his voice unhappy.

“Yes,” Kara answered her eyes not leaving him.

“It’s…more,” he added.

This time Kara only nodded.

They sat staring at each other for a moment, different thoughts, images, racing through their heads as Tanis sifted through her memories and Kara allowed it. With a sigh that reached his toes, Tanis closed his eyes and rubbed his face wearily. Dropping his arms onto the arms of the chair heavily, he blinked up at the ceiling, gathering himself, then sat forward on the chair, mimicking Brynn’s pose.

“Mother said we must remember, but I still don’t understand what. What was is so important about yours and Aden’s connection?”

“I think it was the feeling of knowing him,” Brynn suggested. “When I bonded with Kara, I knew we belonged together, but I didn’t feel as if I knew her. That the connection between us was somehow…preordained. Does that make sense?” he frowned.

“Strangely yes,” Tanis answered thinking through Brynn’s words. “Where our connection is old, and we come together every two thousand years because it is, as you say, preordained. Their connection seems much older. Their souls are not two souls coming together, but one that had been ripped apart and is once again made whole.”

“So what does that all mean?” Brynn asked more confused than he was before.

Tanis looked at Kara, as lost as Brynn. “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

Brynn turned his attention to Kara, what he had to say next making him uncomfortable. “While what you showed us helps us understand your and Aden’s connection better, it does not tell us what Malphas did to you that Aden does not want to relive.”

Abruptly Kara stood and paced away, unable to meet either of their gazes. “I don’t think it is necessary to show you. Brynn already knows most of it, and Tanis….”

Arms circled her waist, gently pulling her back into a warm body. “Will not judge you,” Tanis breathed in her ear, placing a gentle kiss on her neck. Holding his arms to her as tightly as she could, Kara tried to stem the tears that suddenly fell with abandonment. “Hey!” he called turning her so she faced him. “No more tears,” he coaxed brushing those that fell away. “We have cried enough tears for that bastard. We will give him no more.”

A sudden sharp pain lanced through Kara’s abdomen, buckling her knees.

“Kara!” Tanis cried out catching her before she hit the ground.

“What happened?” Brynn demanded, on his feet and next to them as Tanis reached down and picked Kara’s legs up.

“I don’t know,” Tanis answered walking to the couch and carefully lying her down on it. Taking her hand, he sat down next to her.

“The wards have been broken,” Aden answered from the doorway. Both men looked to see him leaning against the door jam, white with pain. “They are connected to Kara so in the chance she decided to leave their safety Caius would know. Colin must have finally broken them and now he is attacking her in order to weaken her.”

“That means he’s on his way here,” Brynn said, worry lacing his voice. “Do you know where they were broken?”

“By the farm,” Aden answered grimly.

“The children,” Brynn hissed heading for the door.

“No,” Aden said putting up a hand to stop him. “I’ll go. You may be powerful in your own right,” he responded to Brynn’s glare, “but there are two of them and the gods only know how many men with weapons.” Grimacing as he stood straight, Aden locked eyes with Brynn. “I’ll protect them with my life, but I doubt he will go for the children. They have waited to long to find her, and Anthony’s obsession will only see the end prize. Not what lays in-between.”

“Colin is not so shortsighted,” Tanis reminded. “And by the look of you, you are as compromised as Kara. Which brings a question to mind. Why are you affected where I am not?”

“If I told you the answer, you would not like it and Kara is in enough pain. She does not need your or Brynn’s anger to add to it. Besides, I’m still upright and Colin is no match for me even at my weakest,” Aden grimaced as another stabbing pain shot through him. Kara moaned on the couch, her hand squeezing Tanis’s as she writhed in pain. He turned his attention back to Brynn. “Kara needs you here. Chris and I will take care of the others.” Pushing himself off the doorjamb, Aden moved towards Kara, stopping short when Tanis was suddenly in his way.

“I don’t care what Mother or the prophecy says, or what happened on that damn ship. Kara is not now or never will be yours,” Tanis hissed.

Aden’s frown turned into a scowl, but he kept quiet. They did not have time to fight amongst themselves. Not if they wanted to survive.

“You are here because evidently we cannot do this without you,” Tanis continued, his fury barely contained. “While you are here, you will keep your distance from my wi…from her. Do I make myself clear?”

“Perfectly,” Aden answered calmly, a small smile on his lips. It satisfied him that Tanis could not claim Kara as his wife. Aden knew it had taken a great deal for him not to say it with Brynn so close. The only male here who could truly make that claim. And there was one little piece of information that Aden knew was irritating Tanis to no end. He was not strong enough to keep Aden away from Kara. Not anymore.

When had it come to this? Aden thought. The three of them having to feel as if they needed to fight for her. Aden realized it became that way the minute they were all together. As Tanis turned to Kara and picked her up in his arms, heading for the stairs and the rooms above, a flash of jealousy scorched its way through Aden. Clenching his teeth and fists he turned towards the door to see Brynn watching them. When Aden drew near him, he could see Brynn was having the same difficulties he was seeing Kara in Tanis’s arms by how tightly his fists were clenched. Aden stepped next to him, his eyes going back to the stairs and Tanis’s disappearing feet.

“It seems we have something in common,” Aden murmured.

“What could we possibly have in common?” Brynn asked through clenched teeth, not looking at him.

Aden glanced at Brynn with an amused expression. “We both love what will never be ours alone,” he said quietly.

Brynn turned his glare towards Aden. “You have no claim to Kara, sorcerer.”

“After what you have seen, what you felt, you know that is not true.”

Brynn was taken aback by how unhappy Aden’s voice sounded. He had not realized how deeply Aden’s feelings truly were until this moment. It still did not change anything.

“Stay away from her,” Brynn repeated Tanis’s warning.

Turning so he faced the door, Aden leaned in towards Brynn. “She has not told you everything,” Aden whispered. “And I didn’t show you everything,” he added looking at Brynn. This time Aden’s smile was pained as he looked into Brynn’s shocked eyes. “You and Tanis cannot even begin to imagine the horrors she has been through. Neither of you were there to pick her up off the floor when the Emperor tortured her for days on end, barely clinging onto life. Neither of you were there to pull the men off her because the emperor decided to give her to an entire garrison to use however they pleased.” He watched with satisfaction as the color drained from Brynn’s face and he staggered backwards, grabbing a chair for support. Aden leaned in, his voice a hiss, “You may be her husband, the father of her children, and Tanis may have some cosmic claim to her, but do not think for one moment that I will release my claim on her heart. On her soul. Whether or not you want to accept it, she is bound to me and she loves me. It may not be the love she has for Tanis, or the love she has with you, but it is mine.”

“Maybe what you say is true,” Brynn responded, his voice strangely detached as his mind reeled in shock from the horrors Aden had just told him, “but she will never yours alone.”

“No. She may never be mine alone. But I will not give up the part of her I do have,” Aden responded, his voice filled with his conviction. Without another word he walked out of the house, stiff with anger. He needed an outlet, and that bastard and his son who was coming for Kara was the perfect target.

Brynn followed Aden to the doorway, watching as the male jumped the steps and began to run towards his home, thinking about what he had learned today. With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Brynn knew Aden was right. Kara did belong to him in a way Brynn could not comprehend, but what did that have to do with this prophecy or Malphas. What was it Kara’s mother wanted them to remember? According to her they needed to figure that out sooner rather than later. Turning back into the house, Brynn headed upstairs. While they had the time, he needed to talk to Tanis and figure this puzzle out before it was too late. For all of them.

Chapter 30
Chapter 32

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 30

Chapter 30

Where to begin. One would think at the beginning, but which one? No need to go back to the original beginning where she Tanis and Caius first met. Nothing there would help them in this situation, and they did not have that kind of time.

Brynn was with her when Colin first found her, and as Tanis had reminded her, he knew those memories almost as well as if they were his own. Kara saw no need to relive the horrors of what was done to her in a bid to break her to his will, or what she had done with Anthony to keep her sanity. How she had allowed herself to fall into the trap that was her curse. To allow another’s emotions become her own. She was not proud of what she had done, and she did not want to risk alienating Brynn by showing him the truth of those years she had been taken from him. He was struggling enough with what his imagination was conjuring to fill in the empty spaces between what she had already told him.

Her mother and Chris had said that Aden was a vital part of what was to come. That they must all remember. The question was, remember what? Maybe the best place to start, then, was when she had met Aden for the first time. Kara shied away from that idea. She had not been in a good place when Aden found her. Broken in spirit, bruised in body, addicted to the desire, the false peace Anthony brought her, Kara was a shell of herself. A wanton creature who would do anything to escape the horrors Colin inflicted upon her. There was also the danger of falling into those memories, back into the addiction. With Anthony so near, that was not what Kara wanted to chance.

I will be with you, Aden’s voice breathed through her mind. I will not allow you to become lost to those memories. Remember, I am your new addiction, he teased.

“What’s so funny?” Tanis asked when a giggle escaped Kara’s lips.

“Nothing,” she smirked. Aden had been careful to keep his thoughts only for her. Smart boy.

“Hmmm,” Tanis murmured, not believing her for a second. Louder, so it could be heard through the open window. “Out of her head, dark one.” A nickname Tanis used for Aden because he knew it irked the male. “We don’t have time for your games.”

“No idea what you are talking about,” Aden’s innocent voice floated through the window from outside.

“What’s going on?” Brynn asked looking from Tanis to Kara, who was still sitting back in her chair, eyes closed. Although she could not quite keep her lips from twitching upwards. Something was amusing her, and it seemed he and Tanis were not invited in on the joke.

“Are we through?” Tanis asked.

“Yes,” Kara answered quickly, settling more into her chair. With a deep sigh, she relaxed her body and her mind. Opening it up to those who were nearest. Once the link between them was solidified, she sifted through her memories until she came to the one she wanted. Praying that Tanis and Brynn would not judge her too harshly, she allowed the memory to play….

*   *   *

“Kara! Kara! Wake up!” a voice hissed in her ear.

Groaning in protest, Kara rolled over in her bed away from the annoying snake. That alone should have told her something was not quite right. They were on a spaceship somewhere deep in space. There were no snakes. Unless they happened upon some strange creature that resembled a snake that they had never heard of. The gods knew that had happened once or twice.

“Kara!” it called more urgently.

The lights blared to life. What the hell! Crying out in protest, Kara threw her blankets over her head and snuggled in deeper under them. Blessed darkness. Why was someone trying to wake her up so early? Yesterday, after she had collapsed during the interrogation of a spy they had found among the command deck crew, Colin had promised her extra sleep today. The communications officer that had been with them since Kara had been recaptured six years ago seemed harmless enough. He had blended in seamlessly with the crew, making friends easily. A perfect undercover position for someone who needed to get messages out to his employers without being discovered.

How he was finally caught Kara did not know. What she did know as his mind had been protected by someone far more powerful than she was. When she had collapsed from sheer exhaustion, only Anthony’s interference, and strangely the spies, had kept Colin from dragging her to her feet and forcing her to continue. She should have known Colin would not keep his word. He never did when it came to her. She was a tool to use, or abuse, at his digression. Her wellbeing was not of importance.

The covers she hid under were suddenly yanked off her, exposing her nude body to the cold room and her sensitive eyes to the blaring lights. Although her room was spacious and comfortable, heat was not a luxury Colin afforded her. The room was not freezing, only warm enough to keep the cold of space at bay.

“Ayeee!” she cried out grabbing for the missing blankets and the warmth they provided.

“Kara! Get up!” the voice she now recognized as Anthony’s snapped.

Something soft smacked her in the face. Catching them in her arm, the other one was holding her up, she cracked her eyelids open to see it was her wrinkled clothes she had left on the floor by the bed.

“Anthony…,” she began in protest.

“We don’t have time to argue. We have to leave the ship. Now!” he interrupted before she could argue that she had only, what? Kara looked at the clock next to her bed. One hour of sleep! Normally when woke suddenly and told to move she obeyed immediately. It only took once to teach her that to argue only lead to pain. It did not mean she went along meekly with every order Colin gave. Some of the things he asked of her went against everything she believed in. But to argue for a few more minutes of sleep was not worth a day of enduring whatever new horror Colin devised to punish her.

Anthony was different. Usually his patience with her was infinite. Today not so much, which meant something was very wrong.

Rolling so her feet were over the side of the bed as she sat up, Kara fumbled with her clothes. Space was cold, so the clothing was made from a special material that kept them warm while being light and breathable. As Kara held up the crimson halter top to the matching leggings she wished for some of that clothing. Or at least more of it. There was a tunic that went over all of this somewhere in the room, but even that material was sheer. It made it very dangerous for Kara to walk the halls alone, which was probably the reason Colin dressed her like this. Unless she had an escort, she stayed hidden in her rooms, and even then it was not a guarantee that one of the many addicted warriors on this ship would not try to break into her rooms.

“What’s going on?” she asked dropping the leggings on the bed next to her. Straightening what material there was of the halter, she slipped the strap over her head and pulled the front down over her chest. While she was not large by any means, the halter was designed to emphasize what she did have in a way of a chest while showing as much skin as possible. The only reason she stayed in the damn thing was because of the straps that crisscrossed in front, keeping the material from sliding sideways. After she lifted, shifted and wrangled her breasts in place, she grabbed her leggings.

“We figured out where the spy came from, “Anthony answered hitting the button that opened her closet.

“Who?” she asked shoving one foot into her leggings and yanking the tight material over it.

“Someone we’ve been hiding you from,” he answered absently throwing shoes out onto the floor. “These will have to do” he grunted. “Don’t you have any…?” Anthony had turned around to catch Kara as she shimmed into her leggings, her hands holding the waist up around her ribcage, elbows out, hair in disarray from the little sleep she had managed. It wasn’t the sexiest pose, but even though she had material on her body, the tightness of that material left very little to the imagination.

When the wave of lust washed over Kara, she froze. Looking up she found Anthony frozen in place, his eyes dark with hunger, his breaths coming in small pants. Kara recognized what she was seeing all too well. A reaction to who she was, or what she was, that lead to her on her back lost in the desire of those around her. The way Anthony had just been acting, Kara did not think they had any time to feed his addiction.

Slowly lowering her hands, she began to carefully back away from Anthony. If she was lucky and made no sudden moves, she just may avoid what came next. Stopping after taking one step back, Kara had a dangerous thought. One that could massively backfire if she was wrong. What if whoever was looking for her could help her escape? Maybe that was why they were coming. To rescue her from Colin.

The sound of her shoes hitting the floor brought her attention back to the hungry male slowly advancing upon her, and the danger he posed. It was then she realized that even though she felt his lust pulsing at her in waves, she was not falling victim to the emotions, drowning as his need became hers. That should not have been possible as weak as she was. Not that she was questioning this miracle by any means, but how was that possible?

Anthony left her no more time to think about the why. With a deep growl, he advanced on her like a hunger panther advances on its prey. Quickly glancing around the room, Kara spotted her clock. While not very big, made from a rare type of rock found on one particular planet, it was heavy. A present from one of the warriors who was always gentle with her, taking her into his room not to have sex, but to allow her some reprieve from the others. Tending to her wounds, helping her crawl out of the onslaught of desire with his own sense of calm and control. She had kept it to remind herself that there was still mercy and kindness in the universe. Now it would serve to help her escape from the hell that he had desperately tried to save her from.

“Anthony,” Kara called in a vain attempt to break through the lust filled haze that she knew surrounded the male. Reaching back, she picked up the heavy clock. “I thought we needed to leave.”

To her dismay Anthony stopped in his tracks. Fists clenched at his sides, he tightly closed his eyes, shaking his head trying to clear it. No! Kara screamed inside her head. Today could not be the day he decided to fight what he felt around her. She needed him out of control so he would not realize what she was doing.

“Yes,” he croaked clearly fighting some internal battle. “I…need to.” He shook his head again. “We need to get to my ship, before….” It was then he made the mistake of opening his eyes to see Kara standing before him. “I need to…,” he whispered.

“What?” Kara whispered back, putting a little seduction in her voice.

“I need….” This time his voice was so soft that Kara could barely hear him. “You.”

Before Kara could react he was in front of her, reaching for her. When her body slammed against his, he groaned as if he had just tasted the best delicacy that the universe could devise. Then his lips were on hers and there were no more sounds. This close, skin touching skin, usually Kara was lost. So when her hand came up with the clock and smashed into the side of Anthony’s head, she was not sure who was more shocked. Him or her.

With a cry of pain, Anthony lurched sideways, his hand instinctively going to the side of his head that was in pain. Kara did not wait. She hit him again as hard as she could and he dropped like a stone.

“What’s going on in there?” a voice demanded from the other side of the door.

Staring at the door in horror, the now bloody clock still in her hand, Kara froze.

“My lord?” the voice called. “I know you told us not to come in, but if you don’t answer soon we will enter.”

Spurring into action, Kara quickly hid the clock under her pillow. Kneeling next to Anthony, she checked to see if he was still breathing. Relief washed through her when she felt the hot hair coming from his nose. She may want to escape him, but she did not want to kill him. A little voice in the back of her head quipped that she might regret that decision later. Standing, she glanced around her.

“Help!” she called when she saw the ballet type slippers where Anthony had dropped them. While not ideal for space travel, like he had said, they would have to do. “Hurry!” she called again quickly picking up the shoes and moving out of the way. “Anthony is hurt!”

The doors swished opened and two very tall, very imposing males rushed into the room. Kara gave them enough of her attention to see that it was the only two twins that Colin had in his employ. Memories of what they had done to her on nights when they caught her alone or were on guard duty outside her door sent a shudder through her body. Sadistic to the core, their favorite thing to do was to tie her up and double team her. One of those nights had left her incapable of going with Colin on an important diplomatic mission. He had lost a lot of money that day, and in retaliation they were forbidden to go anywhere near her. A punishment Kara wholly agreed with. Why Anthony had chosen to bring them with him was beyond her.

“What happened?” the one called Drey demanded kneeling down next to Anthony’s unconscious body.

“It happened so fast. He was coming towards me and tripped over these shoes.” She held up the shoes in her hands to show them. “He hit his head on the side of the bed and now he won’t wake up,” Kara explained putting as much worry and panic in her voice as she could. The panic was not really all that hard. Especially as she noticed the older of the two was watching her with the same expression as Anthony had been.

“He’s still alive,” Drey announced with a fare amount of relief. “Bastian, go fetch the healer.”

“Fetch him yourself,” Bastian growled, his eyes never leaving Kara.

Drey was on his feet pushing his brother out the door so fast, Kara barely had time to track it. “Fetch the healer, Bastian!” he snapped. “If we allow Colin’s son to die because you could keep your head out of your pants, we’ll be next.”

“Fine!” Bastian huffed.

“And if you can’t be of help here, stay away,” Drey called down the corridor.

There was some response that Kara did not quite catch but was sure was some obscenity.

With a sound of utter frustration, Drey turned back into the room and froze when he saw Kara and what she was wearing. With visible effort, he forced his gaze away and moved to kneel next to Anthony. “You better put something else on, witch, before the others return or we will have more casualties than the young lord,” he ordered hoarsely.

Good idea, Kara thought quickly slipping her shoes on, she grabbed the black sheer tunic that was draped over a nearby chair and slipped it on. Once it fell to where it touched the floor, the sleeves coming to a point at her hands, she went to her closet and pulled out a thick black cape. Laying it over her shoulders, she hooked the front closed at the neck with a plain silver clasp. She had just pulled the deep cowl over her head, hiding her face in its shadows, when they heard voices. Pressing herself up against the wall near the doorway, Kara tried to make herself as invisible as possible.

“My Lord,” the healer gasped when he saw Anthony lying in a growing pool of blood. Another guard followed him in, both of them completely ignoring Kara in the worry about Anthony. “What happened!” the healer demanded of Drey as he knelt next to Anthony, opening the bag he had brought and rummaging around in it.

As Drey began to explain what Kara had told him, she quietly slipped out the door into the hallway. Looking both ways to make sure no one else was lurking, she quickly made her way down the hall towards the landing bay. Her reasoning was whoever was coming would have to land their ship there and then make their way up to Colin’s receiving room not far from her rooms. Unfortunately, that put her room was the furthest way from said landing bays. It meant Kara had a long way to go without being caught. That was if the males in her room did not realize she was missing. Otherwise her freedom would be short lived. It was a miracle that the hallway was this deserted. Usually there were at least two or three people coming and going. As she rounded another corner to find no one in her line of sight, Kara was starting to wonder if the same reason Anthony’s emotions had not overwhelmed her was the same reason the halls were strangely empty. Unfortunately, she had lost her faith in miracles a long time ago.

For as long as Kara had been held prisoner, there was only one way she knew how to get to the landing bay at the back of the ship. As she neared it, she realized why the halls were so deserted. Everyone was here scrambling to ready themselves for some sort of fight. Luckily they were too intent on their tasks to notice the cloaked figure making its way as discreetly as it could through the chaos. At least that was what she thoughts until an iron grip clamped down on her arm and pulled her into a storage room.

“What are you doing down here?” a familiar voice hissed in concern.

It was her gentle warrior that had found her. Thomas. The wave of relief that shot through Kara was short lived. He may have refused to join in with the others and their sadistic ways, but it did not mean he was completely immune to her curse. Being careful to keep herself covered with her cloak, she looked up at the tall well-built male. While not has handsome as some of the others, his kindness made up for any flaws that others might see as repellent.

“Thomas,” she gasped, struggling to come up with a valid excuse as to why she was this far away from her rooms. “I had to escape. In the chaos of what is happening, Drey and Bastian broke into my rooms.” She did not need to explain more.

“What?” he snarled, absently tightening his grip on her arm. “I’ll kill them!”

“No!” Kara cried putting her hand on his. While he was a fierce warrior, he was no match for the twins. “I just need to hide until I can tell my master what they did.”

“You really think that bastard would care?” Thomas spat. Treasonous words that frightened Kara.

“Don’t say things like that,” she cried quietly.

Thomas’s eyes searched her face, his expression melting from anger to consideration before relaxing into something that frustrated as much as terrified her. Somehow he had figured out the real reason she was down by the landing bay instead of trying to find Anthony or Colin.

Damn him, Kara thought. He’s too smart for his own good.

Looking at the door, his grip still firmly around Kara’s arm, he seemed to come to some sort of decision.

“Come on,” he said pulling her towards the doorway. “If this is to work, we need to make sure he finds you before Colin does.” Punching the button next to the door, it slid open. Poking his head out, Thomas made sure no one was looking in their direction before pulling Kara out of the storage room.

“He who?” Kara asked doing her best to keep up with his long strides.

“The one who has been looking for us, or more importantly you,” Thomas answered.

“I don’t understand. Who has been looking for me?”

“You’ll see,” he answered cryptically dropping her arm. “If we are to make it to the bay unhindered, you need to walk ahead of me.”

Knowing that was all she was going to get out of him for now, Kara moved so she walked in front Thomas as he escorted her to the landing bay. For the first time hope soared inside her. Today could be the day she finally escaped.

Chapter 29
Chapter 31

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 29

Chapter 29

It had been a long painful afternoon mentally and physically, but it was nothing Kara had not been through before. She was starting to think that everything she had endured was so that she would be able to tolerate the pain it caused her to be in the same room with this much anger and distrust. The icing on the proverbial cake was the jealousy that coated the air like thick molasses. There was a time Kara could shield herself from other’s emotions, but with the necklace and spells Malphas had weaved around her limiting her powers she no longer had the strength. Not with Brynn pacing the floor in front of her while Tanis hovered behind her. She had purposefully chosen an arm chair in the spacious great room. Part of the remodel that had been done on the old farmhouse before they moved in. So there was plenty of space for Brynn to pace. Sitting in the arm chair meant that there was no room for someone else, therefore she did not have to choose, and it was one less fight she had to deal with.

On the other side of the coffee table in front of Kara, Chris was perched on the edge of the couch, angrily watching his father. They had been arguing for the last fifteen minutes whether or not Chris should go back to the farm to keep an eye on his sister and younger cousins. Tanis was agreeing that he should leave because he was too young. That he had already proved he could not follow orders and how could a mere boy know anything about a centuries long battle waged by the gods. The rising tension was only adding to the mounting headache that was threatening to explode within Kara’s head. Someone had to give soon, or she would be comatose again from the pain.

Glancing at the back of the room, Kara tried to latch onto the only calm in the boiling sea around her. With a deep frown, his eyes tight with concern as he watched her, Kara could feel Aden’s presence swirling around her. He was trying to block some of the emotions, but like her, his powers were bound tight. It did not help that her anxiety was bleeding all over him. Out of the four men bound to her, Aden was the most susceptible to being overwhelmed by her feelings, as she was to his. Since that avenue was out, Aden had tried to help by pointing out to the others how much their emotions were hurting Kara to only be told to mind his own business. That he was not wanted here, so why did he not leave. Since there was no way that was going to happen, he had stood silently in the back of the room, holding up the wall, doing his best to shield Kara from the worst of the pain, which Kara was grateful for.

 “Jamie is old enough to take care of them herself,” Chris argued. “I would be better off here helping you.”

“And if Colin decides to use them to force Kara into surrendering to him?” Tanis asked. While what happened upstairs with Chris had shaken him, his exhaustion was making him reckless. The gods only knew what would happen if Chris was truly angered. If angered enough, what entity would emerge instead of the twenty-one year old mortal sitting in front of him. Unfortunately, at the moment Tanis did not care. He only cared about protecting Kara, and that there were too many males in the room staking claim to what was his. While a small part of him argued that Kara had never been truly his, another voice that was much louder kept telling him that it was time for that to change. That if there were less people there would be less pain and far more peace in their lives. That their child would be safe.

“Don’t underestimate my sister,” Chris said turning his angry eyes to Tanis. When he saw the immortal’s frown and his focus seemed to be on something internal and not on him, Chris’s anger slipped into confusion. Why keep arguing he should leave if he did not seem to care one way or the other. “She may surprise you,” Chris finished absently. What was going on?

“Maybe so, but she can’t fight everyone by herself,” Brynn pointed out, bringing Chris’s eyes and focus back to him and the argument. “Colin will not be alone. He’s always come heavily armed, and with Anthony they are a force to be reckoned with. She will not be able to keep her focus on the young ones if she is fighting multiple fronts.”

When Chris opened his mouth to argue more, Aden finally spoke up.

“Chris,” he called quietly, bringing the young man’s angry eyes to him. “Your father is right. Jamie will need your help, but that is not the only reason he asks you to leave. They need to know everything that has happened in the last six years in order to understand what must be done. Don’t ask your mother to voice her nightmares in front of her son. I’m sick enough as it is that you saw what I showed your father. Think of what it will do to her.”

 Clamping his mouth shut, his eyes going from the dark sorcerer, to his father than finally his mother, who looked beyond exhausted and pale, he realized Aden was right. Lowering his head and taking a calming breath, he stood and walked around the coffee table to kneel in front of her. Taking her hands in his, he said only loud enough so she could hear, his eyes locked with hers, “Don’t let them push Aden out. He is a vital part of this. A vital part of you.”

“I know,” Kara smiled wearily. Resting her hand on his cheek, her smile brightened. “I want you to know how proud I am of the man you have become, and that I love you with all my heart.”

“I love you too,” he breathed, his smile at her declaration threatening to split his face open.

Leaning forward, Kara placed a gentle kiss on her son’s forehead. “Now go,” she urged. “I will talk to you and your sister later. I promise.”

Nodding, he stood, his mother’s hand still in his, and turned to his father. “I’ll call Uncle Gavin and Aunt Delia and tell them what is going on. We’ll protect the little ones.”

“Thank you,” Brynn smiled, patting his son’s shoulder.

Turning his head, Chris locked eyes with Tanis. “Your job is to protect her, Angel. It’s always been to protect her. Don’t forget that.” Without waiting for Tanis to respond he turned to Aden. “There is a reason you are so connected to her. A reason you feel what each other feels, sees what each other sees far more intensely than Caius or Tanis. Why being apart harms you more than them. Remember and you will finally understand why.” They stood staring at each other, some knowledge passing between them that Tanis and Brynn did not understand. Frowning, Aden’s eyes glanced at Tanis before he nodded at Chris, some sort of understanding forming between them. Smiling one more time down at his mother, giving her hand a light squeeze, Chris turned and walked out the door.

“He is not,” Tanis began, unsure how to voice his concern about who and what Chris was.

“He is what he needs to be in this moment,” Aden answered, his eyes on the front door, the frown still in place.

“What is that suppose to mean?” Brynn asked, the father in him rising up to defend his son.

Sighing with a weariness that went bone deep, he was so tired of all this jealousy, of everyone distrusting him, Aden rubbed his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. “Everything that has been happening,” he looked at Kara, his hand pointing towards her, “all she has endured is for a reason. The universe is unbalanced. If we don’t fix that balance, and soon, it will implode. Chris has been trying to tell you this all afternoon. You two,” he moved his glare from Brynn to Tanis, “refuse to listen because you are spending more energy on being angry I am here and not enough on what is going on around you.”

“And you think you are the key to balancing the universe. You with Kara?” Tanis said his eyes narrowing in suspicion. “Very convenient don’t you think?”

Sighing in a way that said it was a wonder he had not ground his teeth to dust, Aden was so weary of this fight, he glared at Tanis, snapping, “We don’t have time for this.” When he saw Kara flinch, he softened his voice, his eyes apologetic as she looked at her. “I’m sorry, my love.” Ignoring the growls from the other males, Aden gathered as much calm around him as he could. Moving his gaze to the front door, he continued, “I am already well aware of what Kara is going to tell you.” His eyes drifted to a memory that seemed to be extremely painful. Closing his eyes, shaking himself back into the present, Aden looked at Kara again, “I know how hard this is going to be. If you need help explaining, just ask.”

“She needs nothing from you,” Tanis snarled.

“Tanis! Enough,” Kara scolded glaring up at him. “What is wrong with you? You have never been this territorial. This will be hard enough without you snapping and snarling at each other.”

Clamping his mouth shut, Tanis gave Aden a look that said they were not finished before moving to the other empty armchair next to Kara’s and plopped down.

Realizing this was the closest she was going to receive in the way of a truce, she took a deep breath to steady herself. “The best way to tell you is to show you.” She looked up at Brynn. “Why Aden has shown you some of it, if you do this with me, you will not only see what is happening, but feel what I felt. It is a very…intimate experience and I fear may change your opinion of me. I will understand if you wish not to be a part of the sharing.”

Brynn knelt in front of her, taking her hands in his, kissing the back of them gently. Then he turned his eyes to her, looking into them intently so she knew what he would say was truth. “I will not abandon you when you need me most. Just tell me where you want me and I will be there,” he vowed.

“You are where Chris gets his strength and bravery,” Kara smiled.

Returning her smile with one of his own, Brynn leaned in and tenderly kissed her on the lips. The tension in the room rose every so slightly before settling into a calm that was missing from the last few hours. Much like water settles into a calm after a wave disturbs its surface. Still filled with gentle waves. When Brynn moved back his expression was full of love. Lightly squeezing her hands once more, he released them, stood and moved to sit on the couch across from her.

Bracing herself for what might be waiting for her, taking a deep breath Kara turned her eyes to Tanis, who was watching her with a frown. There was a confusion in his eyes that she did not totally understand. She tried to see what it was that was bothering him, but something blocked her from entering his thoughts. That was strange. She was usually able to see glimpses of his thoughts. Instead, nothing. Glancing at Aden, who slightly shook his head he did not understand what was going on with the immortal any more than she did, she turned her attention back to Tanis..

“Mother says you need to know everything or else you will not be able to break the bonds that Malphas has woven around you,” she began. Frowning herself, she looked down at the back of the couch. “I don’t know if that is true, and the last thing I want you to see is the horrors that I have lived.”

“Kara,” Tanis breathed moving around to the side of the chair to kneel down beside her. “I have lived more lives than I care to count, have shared horrors with you that would turn the bravest male into nothing more than a sniveling coward.” He took her hand, absently thinking that the others had done so too, and it seemed cliché, but he needed to touch her, reassure her that whatever she was about to show them it would not change the way he felt about her. “Nothing you show me will change the way I feel about you.”

We shall see, she thought grimacing. Out loud, “Then maybe you should sit down. Aden was,” she hesitated, her eyes moving to the tall imposing figure standing a few feet away, his expression stricken, “shaken after what he was forced to endure.”

Both men looked at Aden. They saw what Kara saw. A strong man whose color had completely drained from his face; his eyes haunted, his hands trembling. A man who had been broken by what he was forced to witness over and over and over. Nodding, his own expression grim, Tanis moved back to his chair.

Kara’s eyes moved to Aden’s. There was a wealth of words said between them in that one look, but no words were spoken. There was no need. It was a look of shared horrors that both of them had lived, and desperately did not want to live again. Of course, the Fates had other ideas. Didn’t they always? Why let sleeping lions lay when you could stir up the entire den by dropping an injured gazelle in the middle of them. In the frenzy that followed a few lions would be wounded, but it was the gazelle who suffered the most as they ripped it to shreds.

“I will go outside and guard against any intruders,” Aden said his voice choked with an emotion that the others could not name but somehow understood. With another frown in Tanis’s direction, Aden followed Chris out the door, gently closing it behind them.

“Shall we begin?” Kara said settling back in her chair.

Glancing at each other, apprehension thick in the air, Tanis and Brynn followed Kara’s lead and settled back in their seats.

Her eyes on Brynn, because Tanis knew what to do, Kara instructed, “Close your eyes and relax. You will feel my presence in your mind and maybe a little pressure. If you do not fight it and just allow the images to flow it will be easer for both of us.”

Nodding, Brynn did as Kara asked. There was a slight pressure, as if someone was pushing at his mind. He immediately recognized Kara’s presence and allowed her in. That was the easy part. The hard part was not to shy away from the images that flooded his mind and filled his body with fear, pain and desire. So much desire. For the first time since he had locked eyes with his wife, Brynn wondered if he really knew who Kara was. What she was. What she was not, in any shape or form, was human.

Chapter 28
Chapter 30

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes