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. 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. 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?

MM 18: Overwhelmed.

So much has happened I don’t even know where to begin.

It’s just too much, after everything that happened with Albright and Benny and all the others. Lacy is mending. Thank God. We came so close to losing her. And we never even suspected something more was going on.

It all could have ended that night at the hospital.

Houghton and Chance have tightened security overall, which I knew would happen. Houghton is terrified something else will happen soon.

It’s his go-to reaction whenever anything like this happens.

How can I blame him?

We could’ve lost Jillian, too. That night on the road. Jillian, Lacy, and Ari–all three.

If Travis hadn’t been so close… if they hadn’t been able to get Jillian to help, my little sister could’ve bled to death.

I’ll never forget that.

Everyone is quiet now. Just giving the three of them room to heal again. They hadn’t deserved this. None of them had. But Lacy… I’ll never forget what happened to her.

She’s getting out of the hospital soon, and there’s some debate about where she’s going.

It’ll probably be with Travis, of course. That man — Elliot and Chance’s cousin — absolutely adores Lacy. I knew that the night of the banquet.

It was in the way he looked at her.

Of course when a woman gets looked at with that much heat it’s hard not to see it.

I should know, Houghton still looks at me that way. I hope he always will.

We’re headed to the hospital, to check on Lacy for ourselves again.

Rumor has it, they are moving her out of ICU today. We all want to be there, to take turns sitting with her. Maybe someone can actually get Travis to go take a shower.

He doesn’t want to leave her side.

I want to see her for myself, too. I remember what it was like to be lying there with holes in your body. Wondering.

Lacy’s fortunate, they don’t think there’ll be any lasting damage. They don’t think so, anyway.

It could have all ended so differently.

Jillian has been so jumpy, and it’s obvious she hasn’t been sleeping lately.

And how could she?

What she’d seen…I’m not some sure how much longer my little sister can hold on. Can keep going.

Still, Jillian’s one of the strongest people I know. But…

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what’s going happen next? Who is going to get hurt next?

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?

 

MM17: Worried…

Ari, Jilly, and Lacy showed up tonight. Something was bothering them but none of them would tell me what it was. They ended up hanging out in Houghton’s music room. I’m not entirely certain why the man has a music room, considering he’s completely tone deaf, but…

It makes a good hang out place with the three of them. The three are remarkably talented, especially when they sing together. Jillian didn’t show a lot of her talents as a kid. She’s always been the quietest of us, and I understand why.

Brynna required a lot of energy when she was a kid. And I was the oldest (at the time) and always doing things first. I was athletic and outgoing. Jillian was usually in the shadow, I guess. If not mine, then Brynna’s.

But with Lacy and Ari, she’s got people who don’t see her as Brynna’s sister, or Mel’s baby sister, etc. I think Jilly needs that.

She’s really been missing our mother lately. I can tell by the way she talks about her. Mom and Jilly had a special relationship. I was always with Dad, you know? And Brynna spent a lot of time in her room, lost in her own little Brynna world.

But Jillian…she and Mom were close.

We lost her when Jilly and Bryn were seniors in high school and Syd was in middle school. We were all so worried about Brynna and Syd we kind of overlooked the fact that Jilly had lost her center, too.

I wish I could be that center for Jilly, but I just can’t.

I wish I knew what was going on with the three of them.

Lacy was quiet. Something weighed heavily on her mind.

Jillian is more short-tempered than she’s ever been. I know something’s bothering her.

Ari…Ari is hard to pin down. She’s our resident space cadet—Jilly’s words, not mine—but there’s something else going on. I’m pretty certain it has something to do with the benefit Margo has talked her into organizing, but there’s more than that…I think.

I wish I knew Lacy and Ari well enough to figure it out.

As for Jillian…I keep reminding myself that she’ll come to me when she’s ready, and if she thinks I can help.

Jilly goes back to work tomorrow and I think she’s dreading it. It hasn’t been easy for her to be around large groups of people since everything happened.

I’m really starting to worry about her…