MM21: So I was wrong…

So…apparently I was wrong. Marc and Ari were together the last time I wrote. Or they were getting together, anyway. What happened to them, especially Ari and Katie, sickens me. That the man responsible was just so casual about causing such terror.

I don’t think I will ever understand it.

Marc and Ari are getting married in the morning. It’s going to be a beautiful wedding. Her sister and brother from St. Louis are flying down, and I think the ones from nearby Garrity are driving up. Ari and Pen have been getting a lot closer since what happened to them.

Syd seems to like Pen a lot, but something is so going on with my youngest sister. I just can’t figure it out. I’ve cornered Syd twice. But only her friend Gracie from St. Louis seems to know the whole story.

I don’t like her not talking to me. I was a big part of her life for so long. I feel like I abandoned her for Houghton sometimes. He understands, and we’ve been trying to bridge the gap, but it’s not been happening. I honestly don’t know what to do.

I think something happened to Syd. Besides the crap that’s happened to all of us recently. But she won’t tell me what.

I may have to do some asking around–but maybe that would be considering interfering? Syd is technically an adult. Capable of living her life on her own. I should probably mind my own business until she’s ready to talk…

I just don’t know how long that will be.

I do have some wonderful news, though.

I’m going to be an aunt again. Ari is also going to be an aunt. And so is Lacy. 😉 Give you one guess which couple got busy!  (Hint: Ari gets to be a double aunt, through Marc…and…)

Yep. Jillian. Apparently one of his brothers put the idea in Rafe’s head, and the big guy went with it.

Jillian is thrilled with the baby, not so thrilled with the morning sickness.

I’m pretty certain Rafe has her carried into the ER each day on a throne, he’s so gone over her.

Lacy is fully healed, as are both Jillian and Rafe. Ari is doing better after what happened to her. As are Katie, Isaac, and Marc. They are such a beautiful family to see.

I think the entire state of Texas thinks so, too.

We’re having the wedding here, so Chance can keep a handle on security. Everyone from the papers out of Austin to that damned Snotty Garlic have practically been hounding Ari.

It’s taking her some time to adjust to being in the fishbowl with Marc, but he’s made it absolutely clear to everyone to give her space–or they’ll deal with him.

He’s beautiful with her. I love watching all this happen to the ones I love–though I can certainly do without the danger and drama that seems to follow my family everywhere!

In the meantime, I have some other things brewing lately. I’ve been doing a lot of work for Blessed Reunions, and Gretchen Reynolds (Gracie’s aunt from St. Louis) has said that I can hire someone to help me part-time. My Dad has agreed to take the position!

After he tracks down Houghton’s missing father.

Apparently, my father is almost 100% certain he saw my father-in-law snooping around W4HAV the other day…

MM20: Tagged by my own sister.

Well, I have neglected this blog, haven’t I? I’ve really intended to keep up with it, but Houghton constantly manages to distract me. I have gotten several new chapters written in my historicals, but with everything else that’s happened lately, I’ve not been able to get nearly as ahead as I wish.

For one thing, Jillian and Rafe—it was horrible! We could have lost them, and Ari, so easily. That we didn’t was a miracle in itself.

Jillian is healed now, and living with Rafe. It’s strange, going over to Dad’s now. Syd is hanging out in St. Louis more and more. She’s going through something; whatever it is truly scares me. And I can’t get her to open up at all.

Bryn is happily nested across the road, but she’s still in and out, I think. Same for Jillian next door. It’s like they’re there, but not.

It’s still a bit strange seeing Jillian and Rafe together, but they really fit each other well. Same as Lacy and Travis. Those two were married two days ago, in a little meadow between their two ranches.

It was ridiculously cute. I never would have pictured the two of them together, but when I see them now it’s obvious they are so right for each other.

It’s Ari and Marc that are worrying me tonight. (Why do I always write more when I’m worried about someone?)

Not that they’re together or anything like that. At least I don’t think they are. If they are, it is a surprise to me!

They are very pretty together, though.

Marc has been hard at work at a new jobs initiative and a quest to find the traffickers of that drug Solpalmtraln that nearly got both Lacy and Jillian (and Travis, Rafe, and Ari) all killed.

Marc’s gone all rabid over it. Not that I blame him. There are times I just itch to get back out there and do something again.

Managing Houghton can be a full-time job, of course, but it’s just not the same.

Even Gretchen has very little for me at times. It’s a real hit-or-miss in the lost loved ones business.

Houghton and Luc have been really busy lately. It involves Gab and Bryn, so I have had a front row seat for most of it. The two have designed something that Luc and my husband are squabbling over. They really are a couple of little boys at times.

Adorable, in their own special ways, but when it comes to technology, they are ruthless with their competitors—even when that means each other. I just managed to stop Houghton from paying one of his people to hack Luc’s system last week.

But this device is a bit different. It’s Gabby, Brynna, and Carrie’s idea. They’ll split the profits, once they decide who to sell it to. It’s funny, watching Luc and Houghton court the three of them. I think Houghton will win out, because of the family connection and all. But who knows?

It’s this nifty little tracking device that also monitors vital statistics. It’s extremely small, and fits in a small piece of jewelry. It recharges from the heat of the wearer’s skin. Very revolutionary.

It’s basically better than GPS. I don’t fully understand what makes it so special, but Gab and Bryn have been super excited about it.

They even have prototypes. I’m testing one out now. We’re currently at our home in Mexico. My device is installed in a waterproof ankle bracelet. I haven’t taken it off. Even when in the pool daily. They wanted to see how it would hold up submerged on a regular basis.

Gab and Bryn will analyze the data later.

I think Lacy’s wearing one right now, too. In Wyoming. She and Travis took off up there yesterday, even though they were supposed to be on their honeymoon. Something to do with Travis’ breeding program.

Ari and Jillian were tapped for this little experiment, too. Gabby and Brynna like to use the three of them when they can.

Jillian gets to be the control subject. She got a bit miffed when Brynna told her it was because she never got to go anywhere exciting or fun. Lacy gets to wear one because it monitors vital stats in high stakes situations. Like surgery and trauma.

Ari travels more than the other two—she still goes between Austin and Finley Creek, with a few side trips each month up to Luc’s. They are going to see how the device performs at a distance.

It’s going to be interesting, once it’s finished. And very useful. After all that has happened to my family—and me—over the last year or so, having a way to track each other could very well be worth it.

I hope Barratt wins with this. I may talk to Houghton and see just what it is he’s offering. Then talk to my sisters and Gab. Find out exactly where we stand…

 

Previous Post: MM19: Jillian

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Desolate Ch. 12

M.J. tolerated Iahanna’s good will and her kindness as long as she could. But she wasn’t meant to hang around with people, whether they were vampire or not. She’d been on her own for fourteen years, after all.

No matter how much she liked Cayri and Iahanna, and wasn’t quite as weirded out by having her sister Miranda popping in and out to supposedly ‘check’ on her. She didn’t have to like it but M.J. couldn’t exactly argue with the vampires holding her hostage.

 

But enough was enough. She semi-trusted Iahanna, but the rest of them were enough to make her feel really, really leery.

 

And there was the big guy himself. He was out there doing something, Iahanna had mentioned that he and his brothers were hunting something. Demons, she thought.

 

Vengeance had been mentioned, anyway.

 

She wasn’t sticking around to find out exactly what was going on. She had what she needed—clothes, a small bag of food, she was not going to go out there and suck people’s blood ever again, and a bar of soap.

 

She waited until everyone was gone, thinking she was sleeping, and she grabbed her bag from where she’d stashed it under the best bed she’d snuggled up in since the human world.

 

It was time.

 

Her little cave on the edge of the demon city waited.

The Desolate Ch. 11

 

The area known as the Bottoms was probably the worst in the city. Thrun had been built millennia ago by Midreno demons for the then king. The current king of the demon world was the brother of Marous’ sister Aureliana’s mate. The queen of this world was a healer Marous had known for centuries. The Dardaptoan people had been relocated to the city of Thrun for two reasons. One, the former occupants–a nasty breed of red demons known as the Rhacshas–had been annihilated from this city when they had tried to kill Aureliana. And two, it was the only city built for a creature the same size as the average Dardaptoan.

But the Bottoms were the dredge of the city, and where the filthiest of the Rhacshas had once lived.

That Iahanna’s people, young vulnerable females, had been consigned there sickened him. And his mate lived near the Bottoms?

Where?

“It is worse here than I feared,” Havrich said. “I have not brought Iahanna back here since she recovered from the demon attack last week.”

“You will not be able to keep her away much longer,” Adric said. “Her House will want its Equan back soon.”

“She is healed, but…I will get her House moved out of the Bottoms and to my own territory in the city. This…this is an abomination. None of our females should be housed here.”

“It has been our father’s task to police and maintain the Bottoms. It is obvious the old bastard has greatly failed in his duties.” Adric said. “Perhaps that should be the mate’s rights tasks I put before him?”

Adric’s Rajni Miranda had been assaulted by their father when the older male had knocked her down nine stone steps simply because she got in his way. Dardaptoan law gave Adric the right to set the punishment for the attack against his Rajni. He had six more weeks to decide how the public punishment was to be set.

“Someone needs to,” Havrich said. “There. That’s Iahanna’s home there.”

Marous felt sick just looking at it. The outside of it was in great disrepair, but someone had spent time cleaning up around it. There were Woald yellow curtains fluttering in the breeze. Flowers, once again Woald yellow–Woalds had always had great plant affinities–lined the walk. But it was small and dilapidated and not fit for the head of one of the most ancient of Dardaptoan Houses. What had happened to Iahanna Woald was a travesty in itself. “You will be addressing this with Sebastos, correct?”

Theodoric Sebastos was the final decision maker on matters of justice for the Dardaptoan people. But the fines levied against the Woald House for Uruses’ treason were a travesty themselves. Levied by none other than Sebastos himself.

No one understood why.

Havrich had a battle on his hands.

The Desolate Ch. 10

Marous found his brothers Havrich and Adric. They were close in age and had remained close in life, even though sometimes full continents separated them for decades or more. “She claims to be a Taniss,” he told them. “And the chances are high that she is sister to your Rajni, Adric. And says she does not know how she was brought here, just that she was.”

“That damned wolf god has been careless with our mates,” Adric said. “If he were not mated to the goddess I would sic our Aureliana on him.”

“I may well yet.” Aureliana was Laquazzeana, stronger than any other being in the realms. If she wanted to kick the wolf god’s ass, he had no doubt she would be able to manage it. “She rests now, with Iahanna guarding her fiercely. Apparently, they are friends.” His sister-in-law had told him of how she had first met his mate.

The anger still rolled within him.

“Are they? My female seems to draw others to her,” Havrich said. “Yet she refuses to let me in.”

“Rajnis aren’t always easy, brothers. But they are the world. Iahanna sent a servant for Miranda. She’s in there with her now. Perhaps I should go to her…”

“She asked when she first saw my mate whether they were related. I don’t think she’ll be too shocked by what she learns.” But he understood his brother’s worry. They were bonded, Adric and Miranda, and loved each other deeply. “I have need of you. Both of you, as your Rajnis were also victims.”

Both of his brothers straightened. “Speak what you mean, Marous.” Havrich’s hand tightened on his sword, the only outer sign of his anger.

“There are gangs in the Bottoms. And they had a particular target preference of Woald females and any that were near enough. Including my female. She met your Iahanna when a male from Grandfather’s House had Iahanna cornered. M.J. knocked him off of Iahanna with a stick. And he has targeted M.J. ever since.”

“And you wish us to help you find this male. See that he pays for daring to harm your Rajni.” Adric asked. “Of course. Havrich?”

“Brothers, it is time we hunted.”

 

The Desolate Ch. 9

Iahanna chased him away, and M.J. appreciated it. She was so tired. Since coming to the demon world, she’d either been tired, hungry, wet, hurting or terrified. Or any combination thereof. Now she was confused, as well. “You sleep. When you wake is time enough to decide on the future. It gets here no matter what we do to delay it.”

“Sometimes, Iah, I’m convinced you’re an old woman.”

“Hardly. Thirty-eight, last birthday.”

“You Dardaptoans are so weird. Not sure I’ll ever figure any of this out.”

“I’m still trying. Sleep. I won’t let him cause you any trouble. At least not until you are ready.”

M.J. thought that sounded like good advice. This time when sleep threatened to take her, she let it.

When she woke Iahanna’s cousin Cayri was there next to her, Iahanna was at the foot of the bed, and there was a redhead with corkscrew curls and green eyes peering down at her.

“Who are you?”

“Who are you?”

Damn. They even sounded alike, didn’t they?

The other woman looked down at her from green eyes identical to the ones M.J. used to see in the mirror. When she had a mirror. Caves didn’t run to such luxuries as mirrors.

“Miranda. Used to be Taniss. Now I guess it’s Adrastos.”

Miranda. “Wow. You look pretty good for a kid who died twenty-four years ago, little sister.”

The green eyes widened. “Excuse me?”

“Guess what? I’m your big sister, and I thought you were dead.”

“Really? So you know about Teagan, too, then?”

“Teagan. Three years older than I am. Supposed to have died as a baby. But you never could trust what dear old Dad said. Mom, though…she thought you were dead. And Teagan. And Reagan and Thea and Rhea. We’re not all that unique, you know? He kept her caged for more than fifteen years, just making babies for his little games.”

“So how do you know all of this?”

“Because he let her keep me. Until he wanted me for his stupid games and Mama told me to run. I ran.”

Miranda wrapped her fingers around M.J.’s. “I didn’t know how it happened, but I grew up in foster care. I’m sorry for what he did to you. To her. Teagan…Teagan lives in the werewolf world with her be-winged boy-toy and their children.”

“Because I was thirteen when I finally got away. Before he could kill me or give me away like he had the rest of you.” Thirteen when her mother had told her he’d figured their secret out, had found them again. And when her mother had sacrificed herself so that M.J. could live.

Her sister.

Her sister stared down at her.

M.J. started to shake once it sank in that she wasn’t alone in the demon world anymore. Still, she didn’t have a clue what to do with this woman next to her. Or if she even wanted to do anything with her, honestly. She’d seen the woman a time or two–they’d inhabited the same general territory, and the girl had always been hunting rocks or something crazy along the river. They’d never spoken before.

She’d been afraid to even consider it. If she had, would it have made much of a difference?

But what was she supposed to do now?

She was no longer human. And she didn’t have a clue what that meant.

Or what was about to happen.

The Desolate Ch. 8

 

What would it hurt to give him her name? Not like anyone could find her here. She’d been running for more than fourteen years. Since her mother had told her the time had come for M.J. to run before she ended up following the same tragic path her sisters had. “It’s Meghan.”

“And your last name, Meghan?”

“Taniss.”

His eyes widened slightly, then narrowed. “Interesting. The green eyes should have given it away. I‘ve yet to meet a Taniss who doesn’t have green eyes.”

Icy sharp fear shot through her. “You’ve met more than one? I thought I was one of a kind.”

“I strongly suspect there are more of you than you realize.” Iahanna had placed herself next to the bed, obviously setting herself up as the girl’s protector.

Marous wanted to smile, but it would be bittersweet. It was his task–his and Havrich’s–to protect the two of them. Didn’t they understand that?

But gone were the days of the last one hundred years when their females could be protected and cossetted and hidden from the pains of the world.

War came. And they now had to fight. He knew that and suspected Iahanna did as well. But did his little Meghan? “How old are you?”

“Twenty-seven. How old are you?”

“Five hundred…and twenty-seven.” Five hundred years. For five hundred years he had waited for this…this girl. She was barely old enough in Dardaptoan culture to be an adult.

“M.J., do you have any other family? Left back in the human world?” Iahanna asked.

“We’ve had a few other females be found lately. With the last name Taniss. And the same eyes.”

“Huh. I don’t know about that. My mother’s dead. She was murdered…by my father’s people. His minions. May have even been by my oldest brother. Daddy dearest liked to water the flowers, you know. I may have hundreds of brothers and sisters.” She smirked up at him, almost taunting him for some reason. “All I know is Mama said run back when I was thirteen. So I ran. I think he caught her again after that. I don’t know.”

“What do you know about your mother?” He knew the story of the Taniss family, but did she?

“Her name was Avelia. And she was beautiful. And she’s dead now. Boltier killed her, on my father’s orders. You want more of the story, ask them.”

Her words confirmed his suspicions. She was a Taniss. Most likely one of what were now being called the Lost Ones.

Leo Taniss, a human monster, had targeted the Dardaptoan people for over fifty years. He’d captured and tortured more than a thousand of them. Closer to two thousand.

And he’d impregnated some of the females. Many of them. Not just Dardaptoans. He’d enjoyed harming many of the Druid females he’d captured, as well.

One such Druid female had borne him at least four daughters that they knew of.

Was Meghan one of them?