“So where are you know?” Sarah voice spilled through the room as Mia set her cellphone down at the bathroom counter.
“I’m in the bathroom. I locked and chain the room door and I’ve locked the bathroom door,” Mia informed her as she grab a couple of the plush bathing towels and began to shove them in to the cracks beneath the bathroom door, “And I’m even stuffing towels under the door.”
“Hhmm, I’m still not sure if that will be enough. You know you damn blood magic users are like blood hounds. When blood is shed you can track it back to the exact location. I’m not sure if the double locked doors will be enough.”
“It’s going to have to be. I don’t think I can put this off,” Mia said, as she sat back on her knees. She ran a hand through her messy ash blond curls as she looked around the room for any thing else she might able to do to detract her traveling companions.
“It’s only been a couple days. You should have had at least a day or more, enough time to get back home and prepare,” Sarah said with a frown. Mia glanced at her friend’s face on the screen of her phone. She wasn’t really sure why Sarah always insisted they be able to see each other when they spoke to each other like this. It wasn’t like Sarah could see her. Maybe she just wanted Mia to see every frown, glare and eye roll.
“Well, I don’t. I don’t know what happened but I can’t wait. I could barely make it through breakfast. It’s hard to shove a piece of pancake in your mouth when it looks likes it covered in blood. Closing my eyes didn’t help, I could still smell it,” Mia groaned just remembering the experience. She had run right out of the hotel dining room and straight to the nearest bathroom where she quickly emptied her stomach of all of it’s contents.
When she was finally done, and she thought it was safe to move away from the toilet, she had crawled out of the stall only to find her cousin sitting on the marble counters with a nail file in hand waiting for her.
“You aren’t preggers or anything right?” Had been Ada’s comments as she glanced up at Mia, “Because you know, having a baby right about not would not be the best idea. Not that any child born from that stud would be unwanted. But you do realize you probably have half the world hunting you down right now, not the mention how that would just send your batshit crazy sister over the deep end. You having the child of the man she claimed as her own.”
Mia had only been able to stare at her cousin for a solid minute, using all of her restraint not to walk over there and slap that stupid file out of her hands. Of course she wasn’t pregnant. Did she look like a complete idiot. Besides with the way she was bleeding herself, her body wouldn’t be able to support another living being, much less keep her menstrual system regular. True, she hadn’t had a period since she began to bleed herself, but it didn’t mean she was pregnant.
Besides, being pregnant meant actually having sex and that would mean a release of control that Mia was not prepared to do, not even for Nick. She couldn’t let herself be overwhelmed by physical or emotional pleasure. She had nearly killed Nick in her sleep, what would she do if she lost control while they were having sex where he was completely defenseless. And Nick would want her to lose control. It’s what drove him. He wanted all of her attention on him and what he was doing to her. He wanted her so lost in ecstasy that everything in the world faded except for the two of them.
Mia could still remember the time they had nearly set their cabin on fire they were so lost within each other. When you put her magic and his together, it was literally explosive. They had actually blown a hole in the ceiling in the middle of winter. She remembered sitting astride him, staring up at the gaping hole in the ceiling as she came down from her climax. She hadn’t understood at first what had happened, so she had stared up at the gaping hole. Snowflakes had drifted down through the opening, landing against her heated skin and melting against her bare skin.
Kai had started laughing at her bewilderment before he sat up, shifting her on him enough so that he could lick the droplets of water off her skin. Mia had forgotten about the hole in the roof at the moment and instead only concentrated on the man beneath her who brought her so much pleasure in and out of bed. He was her other half, he was the one who completed her. He was her reason for living.
“I think may be you should run the water too. And maybe add some of the strongest smelling shampoo or soap you can find. If should help a little, at least I think it should,” Sarah voice broke Mia out of her reveries. She felt her cheeks flush as she realized she had been lost in a memories of making love with Sarah’s ex-brother-in-law while her friend had been worrying about helping Mia keep her little secret from the rest of their family and friends. That would have been so much worse if she had actually been in the same room as Sarah. Her friend wouldn’t have definitely know something was off then.
Pressing her hands against her cheeks just in case Sarah’s superpowers actually allowed her to “see” Mia, she stood up and moved over to the bathtub. She took a look at the bottles lining the rim of the tub and recognized the name of very expensive brand. She quickly picked up on the green bottles and opened it up, giving it a good sniff.
“It might work,” Mia admitted as she set down the peppermint rosemary shampoo.
“Well, it’s not like we have any other choice,” Sarah said as she crossed her arms over her chest, “But really, I wonder what set you off so soon. You didn’t use any magic did you? Because you know we agreed to hold off on that until we couldn’t determine if it would help or not.”
“No, Sarah, I haven’t been using magic behind your back,” Mia said with a shake of her head as she pulled her thick sweater over her head and set it down on the marble counter.
“Well, it has to be something. Something must have set you off like this,” Sarah argued, “Maybe it was all the traveling and the lack of rest. It probably wore your body down more than you thought. Or maybe it was something you ate or drank. Maybe someone slipped something in to your drink or food.”
“Sarah, nothing happened,” Mia said with a weary sigh and she stripped down to her underwear.
“Well something has had to have happen. It just had to. Because if not…if not…” Sarah said before trailing off in to silence.
“It means that the bleedings aren’t working anymore and we’ll have to search for another way to keep the visions at bay,” Mia said softly, knowing exactly what Sarah had been planning to say.
“It has to have been something,” Sarah argued stubbornly.
“Sarah, it’s okay. If I need to bleed more often, we’ll do that. We’ll keep doing whatever we can to keep the visions away. When the bleeding stops working, we’ll look for something new. I was planning on talking to my sisters anyway. Maybe they’ll know something that can help,” Mia said calmly picking up the phone so she could see her friend.
“I’ll keep searching. I think I’m getting closer to finding some kind of clue as to what may be happening to you. Nathaniel has been kind enough to let me borrow his notes from all the research he gathered on the blood magic clans. Jake, has been a real help too. He’s been reading the notes to me and taking down my notes. I really should have gotten myself an assistant sooner,” Sarah said with a bright smile on her lips and a dreamy look in her eyes. All dark thoughts forgotten and her mind was now focused on the handsome dark haired man.
“You do realize that you have to give him back right?” Mia said as set the phone down at the top of the toilet as she leaned over and turned the water on. “Nathaniel does need his assistant back eventually. He’s still does have a job working as a consultant at the guild and a guest lecturer at the universities.”
“Hhmm,” Sarah said absently, her mind already miles away.
“Sarah, I’m going to get in the tub now, so I’m going to go,” Mia said as she grabbed the cheap plastic razor blade they left for guests to use. She easily broke apart the plastic case and pulled the blade free.
“Why do you have to go?” Sarah asked, her attention now back on Mia, “We always do this together. If I’m not here to help you, you may bleed too much.”
“Sarah, you may not be able to see me, but anyone walking past you will. You may not realize it, but I’m pretty much naked here and will be in a matter of minutes. If I don’t want to make anyone suspicious about what I’m doing in the bathroom, it’s probably best that I at least pretending to be bathing just in case someone comes bursting in here.”
“And?” She asked, waiting for a reply. Mia could only stare at the phone with her mouth hanging open while Sarah started back at her from the screen. She blinked her amethyst colored eyes, still trying to think a way around what Mia told her. It seems nudity didn’t seem to fluster her friend.
“Sarah, I am not going to talk a bath while I have you on FaceTime. How can I be sure Ronan or your father won’t walk pass and stop to see who you’re speaking to. It was bad enough those two walked in on our little conversation about blood magic sex practices, but can you imagine their reaction if they were to see me naked.”
Sarah just snorted at that, “Oh, I can definitely imagine Ronan’s reactions.”
“Then you can also imagine what Nick is going to do with him when he learns that his partner and best friend saw his girlfriend naked.”
“Fine, fine, fine.” Sarah said, muttered something under her breath that Mia could have swore was ‘prude,’ before continuing on. Mia was speechless. Was this the same young woman who had turned as red as a tomato when they were talking about drinking blood during sex? Was nudity and sex two different issues to her friend? Mia could only shake her head in wonder.
“Are you sure you’ll be alright. You can always just put the phone face down or something,” Sarah offered.
“Sarah, I’ll be fine. I won’t bleed as much as we usually do. I can’t be that weak here. I’m just going to do enough to make the visions go away. I just need another day or do,” Mia promised.
“I still don’t think this is a good idea. Maybe you should at least let Ada know. She’s there to protect you, she should know if something’s wrong.”
“I’ll be careful. I’ll only bleed a few pints. If it doesn’t help, I’ll be on the next plane back to Stonehearth. If Damien needs to speak to me again, he can come to me,” Mia offered.
“I still don’t like this,” Sarah said with a deep frown, “But there’s nothing I can do to stop you. Just be careful and if anything goes wrong contact me immediately. I can let Dad know and we’ll have a team of guardians there to pick you up hand escort you back home.”
“I will. I’ll be extremely careful. I know just how vulnerable we are out here. That’s why I have to do this. I can’t be distracted.”
“Fine, but make sure you call me or text me when you done so that I know you’re still alive.”
“I will. Now let me get this over with before someone comes banging on my door and demand to know what I’m doing.”
“Fine. Don’t forget to contact me.”
“Yes, Sarah. I’ll text you when I’m done.” Mia said, as she rolled her eyes at her friend. She really did have to hurry. “Now I really have to go.”
“Okay, talk to you later.” She said with a scowl, still not happy with her. Mia let out a breath of relief when her phone screen went black before returning to her home screen. Shaking her head, she set her phone down on the bathroom counter and stripped off her underwear before stepping in to the steaming water. She sat down in the hall filled tub and just let the warmth of the water soak in to her body. A moan of pure pleasure left her lips as she sunk down beneath the hot water.
She really needed to get herself a tub. This was way better than a shower. After soaking for a few minutes, Mia sat up and grabbed the bottle of shampoo from the side of the tub. Dumping about half of the contents in to the bath water she left the rich scent of peppermint and rosemary filled the steamy room.
With one last sorrowful glance at the bubbly water, Mia lifted the plug out of the drain with her toes and lifted the razor blade to her wrist. Gritting her teeth, she quickly slashed the blade deep against her soft flesh. Blood immediately began to well up as it streamed down her wrist and in to the hot bathwater.
The coppery scent of her blood filled her nose and flooded the room. Mia closed her eyes and breathed through her mouth. She needed to concentrate. She needed to make sure she didn’t lose too much blood. But the blood’s sweet song began fill her ears and the physical world around her began to fade.
Digging her nails in to her clenched fists she tried to focus on the pain. She couldn’t give in. She couldn’t let the blood song distract her. She couldn’t let it win. It was too dangerous. She couldn’t.
But slowly the song began to invade her head and she could no longer tell what was real and what was the magic of the blood. She opened her eyes and looked down to find the tub around her was now filled with her blood. She opened her palms and stared down in wonder at the crescent shaped gauges that bled steadily.
It seems she hadn’t been strong enough to do this on her own after all. The room around her suddenly began to spin and everything began to get hazy. Mia had just enough strength left to seal the wound on her forearm and her palms before the darkness pulled her under. Her last thought was a silent apology to her friend, she had been right, Mia wasn’t strong enough to do this on her own. Next time Ronan could see her naked.
The first thing Mia thought when she opened her eyes was that she had to be alive. Because there was no way in hell she could feel some much pain if she were dead. Her head felt like someone had taken a hammer to its. Her muscles spasmed and her stomach rolled.
“Damn,” She muttered through dry lips. She remembered this pain, which meant two things, one she had lost way too much blood, and two, she had pushed her body too far and now she wouldn’t be able to use any magic until she could heal enough that her body was able to contain the power.
“I’m glad to see that you are awake,” an accented voice said from her left. Mia’s head swiveled towards the sound of the voice without thinking. The world suddenly began to spin and her stomach felt like it was suddenly in her throat.
“I’m going to be sick,” Mia moaned as she closed her eyes and clutched her stomach tightly, not that it would help if she truly was going to throw up.
“I would think so,” the woman’s voice said as Mia heard the sound of wood scraping wood. She could only assume it was the sound of the chair the woman sat on moving back. Every alarm was screaming in Mia’s head that she had to move, that she had to get away. That as weak as she was she made an easy target. If someone wanted her dead, it would be all too easy for them to end her life.
Mia tried to shift away, tried to roll, but her body refused. All her efforts just made the pain and the nausea worse. She can only moan in agony. If Nick was here, he would kill her for being so stupid again. He would never forgive her for putting herself in this predicament again. Especially since it was so soon after the last time.
“Shh,” The woman said soothingly as she pressed a cool palm against Mia’s forehead. Mia knew she should be fighting the woman’s touch, she should be struggling to get away, but the cool touch felt so good. It eased the pain in her head enough so that she could actually think. Her tight muscles began to relax and the nausea in her stomach began to calm. When the woman finally took her hand away and stepped back, Mia was able to actually see her.
The woman before her was beautiful. She looked like a child’s doll, long golden curls, bright green eyes, soft porcelain skin. Her face looked like a work art, so much so that Mia was conscious of her own plainness. Mia knew looks didn’t matter, not when she you have to power to change your appearance at will, but still. Everything about the woman before her was just so perfect and Mia would bet everything she owned that it was all natural. She couldn’t help but feel a little self-conscious. Nick would have told her she was being stupid, but he wouldn’t understand. As beautiful as her cousin was, even Ada would understand. This woman was just too beautiful to be real. If not for the pain and discomfort she was still in, she would truly think she was dead.
“There, I think you are better now,” The woman said as she sat down back in the chair besides Mia’s bed.
Now that Mia’s mind was clear she recognize the woman’s accent. It was just like Damien’s, but more pronounced. Mia still couldn’t place it as she had never left her territory, built she would have to guess it was Eastern European. She tried to remember if she ever heard where Damien’s mother came from. She didn’t think she had, and right now really wasn’t the time to ask, but she told herself when it was a better time, she would probably find out.
“You are a very lucky girl. It was very close when my son found you. You closed the wounds, but you did not shut off the magic,” The woman shook her head, a disappointed frown on her lips, “If I had not seen your death, my soon would not have made it in time.”
“Seen my death?” Mia repeated, her voice scratchy and her throat a little raw, “So you are a seer?”
The woman nodded, her head held high as she looked down at Mia. “Yes, like your friend I can see the future. But unlike her, I see only death. Sometimes I am able to stop it, sometimes I am too late. You are lucky my son was so near or you would be back in the dark place.”
Mia shivered at her words. Not that the woman was telling her that she had been so close to death, but the way she phrased it, that she would be back in the dark place.
“You are very stupid for one so old,” The woman said shaking her head again.
“So you know who I am then. Your son told you what I am, ” Mia said with a groan as she shifted in bed, trying to seat up so she was on level with this woman rather than have her stare down at her. It was painful and awkward, but Mia was able to get in to the sitting position while the woman watched on.
“I know what you and your sisters are. But I did not need my son to tell me. I can see it in you. You carry death around with you. Where ever you go, He follows you. That is why I warned my son away from you. But he would not hear of it. You were the only woman of his equal, he would take you as his mate even if you brought death with you. He told me that it would only make life more interesting. With you around, he would always be challenged. ” The woman spat out the words.
“I don’t want your son, so you have nothing to worry about,” Mia said, trying hard to not be insulted by the woman’s words. She tried to tell herself it was just the words of a fearful mother, but the look in the woman’s eyes nearly bordered on hate as she started at her.
“I don’t care what you do to my son. He is strong enough to take care of himself. All I care about it what you will bring down on us all with your very existence. You are far worse that they creature who spawned you. The destruction you are capable of is so much greater than he. At least people know to fear him, when they look at you, they do not see the darkness you hide in your soul.”
Mia’s blood ran cold at the woman’s words. Her greatest fears were being spoken by a woman she had never met before. A woman who had grudgingly saved her life and was probably regretting it now.
“What you seek does not exist,” The woman told her coldly, “You will find not escape from the darkness that haunts your soul. These visions you see are not from your past, they are your future. These are the doom you will bring on this world when the last of the light leaves your stolen soul.”
“Mother!” A voice snapped as Damien stalked in to the room. Mia paid him not attention. She was too lost in his mother’s words. They visions weren’t from her past, but instead were portents of the future would create.
“She and her kind are demons. They should have been killed before they were allowed to spread their evil through the world,” Damien’s mother roared as she came to her feet, glaring at her soon and pointedly ignoring Mia.
“Mother, I told you we would talk about this later. I told you to watch over her and to heal her, not to terrorize her,” Damien snapped, towering over his petite mother.
“Why?” Mia asked, drawing both pairs of jade green eyes to her. “Why did you save me then? Why did help me? Heal me even, when letting me die would have been so much easier?”
“You do not understand,” Damien mother said shaking her head in disgust.
“Then explain to me what you mean! Because I don’t understand any of this. I never asked to be reborn. I never asked to be created in the first place. I chose death to prevent such a thing from happening. I chose to end my life so that I would not become my father, so I would not become worse then my father.”
“And there is where you went wrong!” Damien’s mother shouted, in her anger her accent had gotten stronger making her words harder for Mia to understand. “You gave up. You ran away. You think death is the only answer. Your man fought and fought for you. He never gave up. If he could, he would have defied death to stay at your side. But you, you turn tail and run. You are weak. You have so much power. You could do so much good and you waste it. You bury yourself in shame and fear. You hide your true self rather than stand your ground and fight. You do not deserve the power you have. You are a waste.”
Mia could only stare at the woman, her mouth hanging open. What was she talking about? What could this woman see that Mia could not.
“Mother, that is enough,” Damien said as he placed his large hands on his mother’s smaller shoulders. He tried to turn her away and hurry her out of the room, but Mia reached out, grabbing his sleeve.
“Wait, I don’t understand. What is she talking about? What power do I have? What true self?”
“Mia, I don’t think this is the time to discuss this. Maybe when you have healed more, we can discuss this again,” Damien suggested, but Mia did not let go of his sleeve. If anything her grip grew tighter.
“What is she talking about?”
Damien’s mother pushed his hands off her shoulders and turned so she wears facing Mia, “You are your father’s daughter. Of them all, you are the one who is most like him. You are the one that inherited his powers. You were the heir created to replace him.”
Mia shook her head, what this woman said couldn’t be true. She was nothing like her father. She didn’t have his strength, his power. If she had, if she had, she would have protected Kai, she would have protected their unborn child. She would have brought him back from the dead if she had that power. But she didn’t. She couldn’t. She tried and she failed.
“You are wrong.”
“I am not wrong,” The woman, her back stiffening, her chest sticking out. “You are the one who is wrong.”
“If what you say is true, then why couldn’t I protect anyone. What couldn’t I save them when my father went made. What couldn’t I protect those people. Why couldn’t I protect Kai or our child? Why?!”
Mia didn’t realize she was crying until the woman stepped forward, wiping a tear away from her cheek as she leaned forward so that they were eye to eye.
“Because you were not meant to,” Her words shattered something in Mia. She could feel something within her break irreparably. So much pain, so much loss and it was all inevitable. There was nothing she could have done to stop. Nothing she could have done to prevent it.
“I -I, “Mia stuttered over the word, unable to complete the sentence.
“You were too weak child, you were still a babe compared to your father. You have no hope of defeating him. Even when you lost your Kai and your child, you had no hope of completing a miracle necessary to save them. Besides, you needed to learn. You needed to know love and as well as suffering. You needed to become human, to feel and not just see. Your father kept you girls locked away from the world, he thought to protect you, but instead he took so much from you. He sheltered you from the pain and fear he had suffered from. he had hope to keep it from you, but in the end, he threw you unprepared out in to a world that was an unprepared for you existence and your were for it.”
Damien’s mother reached out, her soft small hand cupped Mia’s cheek. There were no more anger in her eyes, just a deep sadness that Mia could not understand.
“How do you know those things? Emily could not have shown you all those things. She wouldn’t have. She wouldn’t want you to see her weaknesses.”
“She did not need to show me those things. I have seen them with my own eyes,” The woman told her. Mia frowned.
“How? You only see future death. This is the past.”
“I saw them because I was there Mia,” The woman told her patiently as she cradled Mia’s face gently, her thumb running up and down Mia’s cheek. Mia’s frown deepened and she tried to make sense of her words. “I have always been by your side, you are your sisters. I have watched over you, prayed for you, and cried for you. I wanted more than anything to hold you in my arms when you cried out in pain over the loss of your lover and child. I wanted more than anything to take that pain away. But I knew I couldn’t. I knew you needed to grow, to learn, to love again. But the pain was too much for you. It tore you apart. You left your fear cloud your mind and you gave up and ran away.”
Mia could hear the anger leaking in to her voice again. Mia knew she was missing something. And she knew it was something big. But for some reason it just wasn’t connecting. Why was she so angry with her? She didn’t even know her, no matter what she said. She didn’t know Mia because Mia sure as hell didn’t know her.
Damien’s mother must have noticed Mia stiffen because paused and took a deep breath before she spoke again, this time more calmly.
“I do realize I am as much to blame as your father. I was young and foolish. I didn’t think, I let your father do as he wished. I believed him when he told me to protect you girls we had to hide you. He was so much older and wiser, I didn’t think to correct him. He had seen so much more of the world than I had. I thought…” she said shaking her head, “I thought I was doing the right thing.”
Mia’s frown grew deeper as the words began to filter through her brain. But still, the words didn’t want to make sense. Or, maybe she didn’t want them to make sense.
“Who are you?” The words left Mia’s lips clipped and cold. Because if this woman was who she was beginning to think she was, then she did have a lot to answer for. After all, she was the cause of it all. She was the reason her father went mad. She was the start of it all.
There was a long pause, so long that Mia thought at first she wasn’t going to answer her question. She dropped her hand from Mia’s face and took a step back as she looked down at Mia with those sad eyes. Mia knew then that she was right. But she wanted to the woman to say the words, to speak them so everyone in the room could hear. She wanted her to admit who she really was so there would be no denying it later.
Finally the woman spoke and although Mia already knew the words that she would still, it still hurt to hear them.
“Mia, I am your mother.”
Next: Chapter Four