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?

MM19: Jillian

I…don’t know what to say today. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been able to blog much. Houghton has been dragging me to various conferences and workshops and summits around the region, for one thing.

For another, Gretchen Reynolds has been keeping me busy hunting for lost loved ones.

We’re focusing on Luc, Paige, Ari & Simon’s siblings now. I didn’t realize we’d find one as close as we did, but…

Well, he doesn’t want the connection. I’m still looking for others. Part of the problem is that we don’t know exactly how many children Denise Daviess birthed, or even under what name she did it.

She was extremely clever and horribly mercenary. If she was still alive, she’d be facing human trafficking charges for selling her own children.

She still disgusts me whenever I think about it.

Between the search and my husband, I’m exhausted.

And then there is Jillian.

Lacy is doing well, healing after her ordeal at FCGH. Jillian was there that night, along with Travis’ brother Rafe.

I don’t think Jillian is sleeping well now. She’s jittery again, like she was after what had happened with the lt. governor. I hate that she’s suffering this setback.

And everything else that has happened to her since Lacy was hurt? I just don’t understand it.

Hasn’t my sister suffered enough?

The Desolate Ch. 7

Marous heard the fear and he leaned over his mate. She looked up at him with wide green eyes. The fear was so clear to him, did she realize that? M.J. What did it stand for? “You are very much alive. You are just Dardaptoan now. You lost too much blood, and the healers had to give you mine.” He had held her in his arms while Iahanna and the healer Barlaam had pumped his blood through a tube into her body. It had been more terrifying than any battle he had ever faced in his five hundred plus years as a Dardaptoan warrior. Seeing her lying so still and pale and…lifeless…had shaken him to his core.

He could not lose this small female. He could not.

“Tell us, little M.J., how did you get here?”

“I don’t know. I was walking home from classes on the IUPUI campus. It was late. Then I opened my eyes and I was here. Not exactly sure of the logistics. Couldn’t ask the nearest vampire without becoming food. By the time I figured things out a bit, I was already here. Tell me, big guy, you know where to find a taxi back to Indiana?”

“You’ll never be able to go back to that world.” Harsh, but he would never lie to her. And it was time she was prepared for the world they now faced. “Tell me, your true name?”

“Tell me, your true name.” She mocked. “Why should I? Thanks for exterminating the big green bat back there, but…I didn’t ask you to. And I prefer to be on my way now.”

“M.J., you can’t move around too much. You were just changed into Dardaptoan, but you are still weak. It’s going to take you a while to heal.” Iahanna straightened the blankets. “Marous only wants to protect you. I can promise you this. You can trust him.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“No. Not so easy. I found my own mate recently. It is very hard when you are not used to trusting. Especially when you are not used to trusting any longer.”

There was a world of hurt in his little sister-in-law’s tone. He knew his brother Havrich and Iahanna were still learning of each other. Yet the pain in the female’s words was deep. Spoke of the hurt she had experienced since her own brother had betrayed the Dardaptoan people, and the elder brother then abandoned the family of Woald. Leaving nearly three hundred Dardaptoans, many young unmated females, dependent on Iahanna. And leaving the entire house of Woald as potential targets for those Dardaptoans who had little honor.

He had heard the tales that Iahanna and her cousin Cayri and his sister-in-law Miranda had experienced.

The anger continued to fill him when he thought of how his own father and grandfather had perpetuated most of the trouble against Iahanna and her House.

But that anger paled when he thought of how his own mate had been left so vulnerable for the last six months. What had the Wolf god been thinking? Did he have so little care for the beings he had yanked into this demon world?