Mia woke with a scream. Her hands clutching her chest as pain gripped her.
Arms wrapped around her, drawing her tightly to them she was rocked back and forth.
“Shh, I’ve got you baby, I got you,” He soothed her, his stubbly cheek pressed against her own as he held her to him. Mia clutched tightly to his arms, holding her to him as she wrenched free the dregs of the dream.
Their bedroom door was thrown open and people rushed in.
What happened?” Voice demanded.
Mia ignored them. Instead she concentrated on the arms that held her tightly, the snow, pine and ozone scent that filled her nose. She concentrated on his beating her against her back.
Alive, she told herself. He was alive. Her breath was ragged and her chest ached. But none of that mattered. All that mattered was that he was here. He was here with her. He was alive. Tears of relief gathered in her eyes, a few escaped to run down her cheeks.
“Mia?” Nick said softly against her ear.
“What happened to her?” Nick demanded to know as he glared at William. “You didn’t warn us that anything like this would happened.”
“That’s because nothing like this has ever happened before,” William said with a sigh. “Mia is not normal. She will never be normal. I can only ever guess what will happen when she is involved.”
“Mia, baby? Are you all right? What happened?” Nick asked as he brushed her ash blond curls away from her face. Her breath was still coming out in bursts and her heart was still beating like mad.
“Something’s wrong,” Alexander said with a frown as he moved forward to stand at their bed side. “Something’s wrong with her.”
“Please tell us something we didn’t already know,” Ronan said sarcastically as he pushed Alexander aside.
“No, look,” Alexander said as he took his place once more, slowly reaching out toward Mia. Nick moved to push his hands away, but Mia clutched so tightly to them, his arms were trapped.
Alexander tugged lightly on the collar of the new nightshirt Nick had put on her before putting her to bed. As Alexander moved the fabric they all saw what he had seen. Red lines creeped up Mia’s chest. They looked almost like veins but they stood out on the skin. Alexander tugged it low enough that they could see where they originated from but not enough to expose her. But they could see enough to see that the lines originated from right above her left breast, and branched out to cover part of her left shoulder and the edge of her collar bone. They couldn’t saw have far down the lines when but they knew it wouldn’t be good.
“What the hell is that?” Nick growled as he turned rage filled eyes on William who just stood there surprised, a frown on his lips.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” William said, as he took a cautious step forward to get a closer look.
“Nick,” Mia moaned weakly as she laid her head against his shoulder, shying away from the men hovering around them.
“It’s okay Mia, I’ve got you,” He promised.
“I can’t tell the difference between dream and reality any more,” She cried burrowed deeper in to his embrace, breathing in his unique scent that she would recognize any where. “I don’t know what’s real anymore.”
“Shh, it’s all right. You’re safe. I won’t let anyone hurt you,” He said, his voice tight.
“I think I died,” She said softly.
“For a little while you did,” William informed her, which earned him dark looks from Ronan, Nathaniel and Nick, “Well, it’s better for her to learn now rather than later.”
“Not now,” Mia shook her head, “A long time ago.”
“Yes, you probably did,” William answered again, “But you’re immortal, so death doesn’t seem to stop you.”
“Will you shut up,” Nick growled.
“I think I was sixteen the first time I died,” She said with a deep frown, “I can’t tell if it’s a real memory or not. I can’t tell the difference anymore.”
“It’s okay,” Nick said as he pressed a kiss against her forehead. “It doesn’t matter anymore. You here now and your safe.”
“I don’t think I am,” Mia said as clung tightly to him.
“I won’t let anyone hurt you. I’ll keep you safe,” He said.
“You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep,” She said with a sad smile as she curled against him, resting her head against his shoulder. She closed her eyes and listened to his heart beat. It soothed her. Alive, she told herself, still alive. But for how long.
“My father will come for you again,” Her voice soft and sleep tried to calm her once more. Her body was still weary after the transformation. It needed rest and so did she. But first, she needed to warn him so he could protect himself, her father would come and he would come for him. He would never let him live. He would never let him take her away from him.
“You tried to set me free once. You wanted to show me the world. But you died. He killed you and in turn he killed me. He tried to keep you away from me then, he will try again,” She mumbled as sleep tried to claim her.
“Baby, what are you talking about?” Nick asked worriedly.
“You were the first. The first wish I ever granted. But something happened, some how we were bound together. You tried to come back for me, you tried to set me free. But he killed you. He killed you…” Any other warning she tried to give was lost as sleep pulled her under. She couldn’t fight it any longer. She didn’t have the strength. So instead she gave in and let sleep embrace her.
When she opened her eyes again, the sun was high in the sky. The heavy drapes that covered their bedroom window and had been pulled pack and warm sunshine filled the room. Mia lay in bed for a long moment trying to remember what happened. Everything was still a little foggy, but her aching body told her something had happened.
“Good, you’re awake,” a familiar voice said. Mia turned her head to find Sarah sitting at her bed side. She sat in Mia’s favorite armchair, her legs curled beneath her and a ball of yarn and knitting needles in hand.
Sarah must have had one of the men move the chair because there was no way she could have done it on her own. That chair probably weight more than she did. The heavy frame was made of solid wood and had been constructed at least two hundred years ago. It was also Mia’s favorite piece of furniture in the entire house.
“What happened?” Mia asked, her throat scratchy and dry. A glass of water suddenly appeared in her face before she could even think about it.
“Thanks,” Mia mutter as she grabbed the glass and slowly sat up. Her muscles clenching at even the slightest movement. Once she was in a vertical position she brought the glass to her lips. She took a sip and immediately pulled back, staring at the clear liquid in the cup.
“Iliya said it was something that would help you,” Sarah said as she went back to knitting.
“And what is Iliya doing here?” Mia asked with a frown. What the hell had happened last night.
“They called her when you began babbling about some nonsense last night. They tried to question Adeline and Daphne first but they had no idea what you were talking about so they called Iliya as a last option. They figured if anyone could tell them what you were talking about, it would be your mother,” Sarah informed her. Her chin dipping with each stitch as she counted silently in her head.
“What happened last night?” Mia asked as she set the glass of water down on the bedside table. She had no desire to drink something of unknown origin, especially if is came from her mother.
“William did warn us you might not remember,” Sarah said as set her knitting down to turn to look at her friend. Her intense amethyst eyes staring straight at her. “You died last night.”
This news should have surprised her, but in reality, it was getting a little redundant. But when you couldn’t truly die, death didn’t mean a thing.
“What happened this time?” Mia asked with a sigh as she lay back down and pulled the blankets up around her shoulders.
“You pushed your body too far and it couldn’t deal with the power you were pushing through it. William saved you, but it seems to be having some side effects,” Sarah said as she leaned forward to pulled the blanket down so Mia could see the tracery of red veins that covered the left side of her upper body.
Mia sat up in one quick movement that left her swearing as she gazed down at the red lines.
“What the hell is that?!”
“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” Sarah said as she sat back and picked up her knitting.
“What do you see?” Mia asked as she turned to her friend.
“I’m not sure,” Sarah said with a frown, her knitting needles clicking. “All I can say it that it originates from your heart. I don’t know what it is or why it’s there, but whatever it is, it’s connected to your heart.”
“Where’s Nick?” Mia asked as she covered up the marks.
“He’s with the others. He said to let him know when you woke,” Sarah said. “Do you want me to get him?”
“No,” Mia said shaking her head.
“If you need him, I can get him,” Sarah asked, her knitting needles silent as she turned her eyes on her friend.
“No, I’m fine,” Mia said. She just wanted to know he was safe. As long as he remained in the house he would be safe.
“Do you want anything? Food? Coffee?” Sarah offered.
“No, I’m good,” Mia said as she lay back down.
“It’s not often that you turn down coffee? You sure you’re okay?” Sarah asked with a smirk.
“I’m good,” Mia reassured her.
“You should rest. Once they realize you’re up they’re going to want to talk to you,” Sarah warned, “And you know just how well you and your mother get along when you’re in the same room together.”
“Mm,” Mia agreed as she turned to look out the large picture window across from her bed.
“I never truly believed in soul mate before. I thought it was just a fairy tale that young women dreamed up after reading too many romance novels,” Sarah said, drawing Mia’s attention back to her.
“But you believe in them now?” Mia asked with smile that she knew her friend could not see. “Did you suddenly find a man you want to spend the rest of your life with.”
“No, not yet,” Sarah said simply, “But I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about you and Nick.”
“Is that what you think we are?” Mia asked, her curiosity peaked. She had never really truly thought about the connection between her and Nick. Not enough to put a name to it anyway. It was just there.
“It’s as good of a word to describe what you two have that I can think of,” Sarah said with a shrug. Mia laughed softly. “Seriously though, when I look at the two you now days, you both glow with the same light. It’s so intense that sometimes I can’t look at either of you. What he feels for you and what you feel for him is greater than any love I have ever seen before. Even my parents and they’re pretty much perfect.”
Mia couldn’t help but laugh at her friend’s description.
“When I look at you two, I want more. I want what you have. I want a soul mate,” Sarah whined.
“I thought you didn’t believe in them,” Mia teased.
“Well, I didn’t. Then you have to go and have this epic love story right in front of me, and now I want that. I hope you know I hold you responsible. If I can’t find my soul mate, I’m going to blame you for putting the desire in my head,” Sarah grumbled.
“Soul mate, hmm,” Mia said thoughtfully.
“A soulmate is a very dangerous thing to have,” a new voice said as both women looked up to Iliya standing in the doorway. She looked weary, yet beautiful. Even the bags under her eyes didn’t take away from her beauty.
“I thought you were talking with the men folk,” Sarah said with a frown.
“They have finished with their questions for the moment,” She said as she walked in to the room, stopping at the edge of the bed.
“What did they want to know?” Mia asked, she didn’t miss the look that Sarah flashed Iliya. She had suspected something big had happened last night when Sarah had only given her the briefest description of the event. As much as she disliked her mother, the one thing she did admire was her brutal honesty. She wouldn’t keep anything from Mia, not matter how much it might upset her.
Iliya was silent for a moment as she studied Mia. Those jade green eyes staring deep in to her own. When she finally seemed satisfied with what she had seen, she took a seat on the edge of the bed.
“Nick won’t be happy,” Sarah warned her.
“Nikolas protects her too much. He coddles her too much. She is not weak, she is capable of hearing the truth,” Iliya said, brushing off Sarah’s warning.
“What happened last night?” Mia demanded to know, as she looked between Iliya and Sarah. Sarah scowled, refusing to meet Mia’s eyes, but Iliya looked straight at her.
“You died last night,” Iliya informed her simply. No fuss, no emotion in her voice, just the truth. “You pushed your body too hard and it began to fail. You stopped breathing for a point in time. If William had not been there, there is a good chance you would have disappeared from existence.”
Mia wasn’t sure what she should be feeling at the moment. Fear? Relief? Joy? Because at the moment she felt nothing. She heard the words and she knew she should be feeling something. But instead she just felt empty.
“What did William do to save me?” Mia asked simply, because there was nothing else she could think of. So, she had nearly died again. It was turning in to a trend so much it seemed to no longer faze her. Either that or a part of her had died last night when her body had.
“He made your body more durable by transforming you in to an Omega, much like what happened with Nikolas and Aiden,” She informed Mia. Yet again, Mia felt nothing. Not even curiosity really, although she knew she should be. After all, wasn’t she already an Omega. So what did William do to turn her in to something she already was? She knew she should be asking these questions, but they answer didn’t matter to her. She was alive, so did it really matter what he did.
Her lack of response seemed to worry her friend, who was watching her carefully with a frown on her lips.
“But that is not why they called you here,” Mia said, “If I were already alive, then your presence would not be necessary.”
“No, my presence here has nothing to do with your transformation. Instead it has to deal with a few things you were saying when you work up shortly after,” Iliya said, her eyes once again trying to see in to Mia’s soul.
“And what exactly did I say that would need your input?”
“What do you remember of your childhood?” Iliya asked.
“What do you mean what do I remember of my childhood?” Mia asked with a frown. There wasn’t that much to remember. They had grown up secluded in a keep deep in the mountains. Their father claimed it was for their protection. There were left the keep, only once in a while and they farthest they were allowed to go was the town fours hours away by foot.
“Do you remember exactly why the keep was attacked?” Iliya questioned. Mia’s frown turned in to a scowl.
“Because of us. Because they were scared of us,” Mia replied.
“No Mia, not us, you,” Iliya said.
“What are you talking about?” Mia demanded to know.
“I didn’t think you would remember. Your father said the whole thing was too traumatic for you and you would probably never remember anything and I agreed with him,” Iliya said with a sigh, “I didn’t agree with keeping the information from you, but I agreed that at the time, it was the best thing for you. After all, it was the first time you died. It was understandable that it would be something you would not want to remember. You were still so young.”
“I didn’t learn until too late what happened to you. Your father kept it from me. But by then it was too late. The damage had been done. When you disappeared from my arms we had no idea where you would pop up. We had no idea what happened to you. But then your father sensed your rebirth and went after you.”
“Why you suddenly appeared in the middle of the Wintervale, I didn’t know. Not then. The towns people found a murder man in a field just outside of town no more than an hour prior. They had brought his body to the village leaders house. They had been cleaning his body and preparing for a burial when your body suddenly appeared besides his. You were naked and covered in blood. They immediately recognized you and believe you dead. They ran from the house in fear of retribution.”
“Your father had ordered me to remain at home with your sisters so I had no idea about any of this till much later. Your father tried to keep the people silent, but they had seen too much when he carried you out of the house, you’re eyes open and mumbling something. Some feared you were a demon. They knew your father was powerful, but to come back from the dead, they begun to fear us because of what they saw you do.”
“When you came home you were inconsolable. You kept crying and screaming. We are afraid you had gone mad. You tried to take your life only to vanish and reappear again, this time at an unmarked cairn a few miles out of the village. It just happened that a Shepard had taken his flock out that night before and was grazing them in the same area. He saw your body appear out of nowhere.”
“I didn’t know what was happening to you and I was afraid what might happen if you were to appear someplace out of reach and someone did something to you before we could reach you. So your father created a place where you would always reappear if you were to die. So now at least, if something where to happen to you, we knew where you would be and that you would be safe.” Iliya told her sadly.
“What was wrong with me?” Mia asked. She didn’t remember any of this. It was like a blank in her mind. There was a hole where the memory should be and she didn’t know why.
“Your father told me that it was because of the death of the person who you gave your first wish to. He told me it was because the wish had been so strong it had kept a connection between you two. I was foolish to believe him but I didn’t truly understand how his magic worked any more then I knew how my magic works, so I foolishly believed him. I wish now that I hadn’t. I wish I had questioned him, demanded to tell me exactly what was happening. But I had been too scared that he would realize that it was my magic that was causing your rebirth. I wasn’t yet ready to tell him the truth about myself. So I didn’t push to hard.”
“What was happening to me?” Mia asked, her words stilted.
“You were mourning. You had lost someone very important to you and all your little heart wanted was to follow him, but because you inherited my powers you couldn’t go where he went,” Iliya admitted sadly.
“Nick?” Mia asked. Iliya nodded, “But that’s impossible. The first time we met was long after we put father to sleep. That was the first time I ever met him.”
Iliya shook her head, “No Mia, it wasn’t. Nick was your first wish. You were still a child but he recognized something about you. He came back, year after year to see your father. Each year he asked for one thing, he asked for you. But your father refused him every year and he was okay with it because you were still young. But then he sensed something as wrong with you. He sensed you were scared and sad. So this time when he came back he demanded you be given to him. He offered anything for your freedom, even his life, but your father refused. This time, he didn’t leave. This time he refused to leave without you. So your father killed him. He didn’t realize what Nick was, he didn’t realize you were connected until Nick’s death caused your death.”
“I didn’t know any of this,” Iliya said, “Your father didn’t tell me any thing. It wasn’t until after I died and I came back with a new gift that I learned what had happened. I was furious at what he had done to us, what he had done to you. I realized I never knew your father, not truly. He had destroyed us with his selfishness.”
“By then you and your sisters had defeated your father. It took my much longer to reincarnate then it did you. Months passed before I awoke. Unlike you, I had no tie to the mortal world so I just appeared. I had no idea where I was or how much time had passed. I only got lucky and was found by a older couple who took me in and helped me get back on my feet. It was from them that I heard what happened. A part of me wanted to go immediately to you girls. I wanted to see you, to know you were okay, but then the visions started. The older couple became suspicious of me and I had to leave before they realized what I was.”
“Visions of death began to haunt me. I couldn’t control them. Like you, I feared I was losing my mind. I knew I couldn’t go to you, not as I was. Not when I kept seeing your deaths over and over again. So I returned home. I told myself once I got control of my visions, once I was able to get back on my feet I would search for your girls. But by then, you have separated and created your armies to stand against your father if he ever awoke. I didn’t recognize you girls any more and I knew it was my fault that you had become this way. I knew that if I had just gone to you when I first awoke, I could have helped you. I could have kept you from becoming the way you were,” Iliya told her.
“I blamed myself for everything. I knew I no longer had any right to be called your mother. I had failed you all. So I created a new image for myself. I became a new person and I prepared for what was to come. I gathered blood magic users with unique gifts like myself and we created our own little clan. I wanted to be prepared for when your father woke. This time, I would not let you be the only ones to stand against him. This time I would be there with you.”
Mia honestly didn’t know what to say to her mother. Part of her wanted to believe every word she said, but another part was wary. How did she know this was the truth? She didn’t remember what happened? How could she say it was true or not? If this was her mother’s way of asking for forgiveness, it was a little late. Too much had happened. Mia wasn’t even sure if she was capable of forgiveness. It had been too long.
Iliya seemed to sense it as she stood up, brushing imaginary lint from the hem of her thick sweater.
“I’m not asking for forgiveness , not after everything that has happened. I just want to let you know that this time you will not be alone. I will not run away. I am prepared to fight. Damien had pledged himself to this fight as well. We will not desert you,” Iliya said simply with one last sad smile, before she nodded and left the room.
Mia just watched her walk away. It was too soon for forgiveness. She had listened to what her mother had said. That would have to be enough for now, because that it all she was willing to give. Maybe one day, but that day was not today.
Next: Chapter Twelve