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Excerpt-Escaping Destiny

There were calls that no one
liked getting at five a.m., and then there were calls. Frankie woke up in a cold sweat, her heart hammering as her
phone vibrated across the bedside table next to her. Outside of that, her
jagged breathing was the only sound in the dark room. Her head whipped towards
the phone as it vibrated again. Was that what had woken her, or had it been her
desperation to claw out of the nightmare she’d been in? Her body was soaked
underneath the single sheet she slept under, the fabric sticking to her chest
and legs. What had the dream been about? She scrambled to roll over as her
phone danced towards the edge of the table, the caller clearly insistent. She
caught it as it tipped, and brought it up to her face, squinting at the lit
display. Frankie cursed. It was her partner.

“Yeah,” rough with sleep, her
voice was barely over a growl.

“Got a body.”

She growled, the animalistic
sound filling her small bedroom. “Text me the address.”

“Don’t stall, this one’s bad.”
Anderson warned her before ending the call.


She scrambled from her bed,
wrestling out from the damp sheets. It had been another bad night. A foreign
power filled her body and she gritted her teeth, pressing down on it. It had
been getting more insistent as the days passed. Soon, would she be able to suppress
this new magic residing within her? Tears crested her eyes, frustration and
helplessness swamping her. She didn’t ask for this ‘gift’ and yet she was stuck
trying to manage it.

‘What’s wrong?’

His voice filled her mind, a
force of will that helped her get her new wayward power under control. She was
grateful, but all the same…

‘Stay out of my head,nosy.’

His amusement filled their
connection. ‘If you came in to train, you
could learn to control your power. Hell, maybe even how to keep me out of your

It was the same thing he’d been
saying for the past year. She snorted and ignored him, dialing her brother.


Oh yeah, it was barely dawn, of
course he was irritated.

“I got a case.”

Julian sighed. “I’m not telling
Ma you’re missing brunch.”

“You’re such a punk ass.” She
rushed into the bathroom with the phone tucked against her ear and shoulder.
Starting the water, she prayed it would actually warm.

“Says the punk ass who’s asking
her younger—”

“By seven minutes!”

“—brother to take the heat from
their mother. Aren’t you a ‘grown’?”

“You’re so aggy,” she whined.

“You’re thirty-two, surely you
can tell our mother that you can’t make it to brunch…for the third time this

She growled. Okay, she was a punk
ass. No way was she calling Nadine to tell her she was missing family brunch
for the third week in a row.

“Fine, but stall for me, please.
I don’t know how long this will take.”

“I got you.” Julian promised. “Please
be careful.”

“I always am,” Frankie assured
her twin, ending the call and tucking her phone into her towel on the toilet

Julian worried about her being
cop, hell, he worried about everything. His anxiety was well known in their
family. Lately, the added bonus of the…the…beast inside Frankie made it worse,
though, so she felt guilty that she didn’t have it under control. She sighed
and stepped into the lukewarm water, rushing to rinse off the sweat from last

‘A few weeks, that’s all we ask for, Frankie.’ Aren cajoled.

His voice was the stuff of
dreams, really. In the weeks he’d been ‘haunting’ her, she’d had plenty of
fantasies about him. Aren touched her mind, his probing raising the magic she
was trying very hard to keep curled inside her.

‘Stop nagging at me. I said I’d think about it!’ She hissed.

‘So you say.’ He withdrew from her mind.

To be honest, she was doing
everything but thinking about it. Aren, and the people he worked for, wanted
Frankie to uproot her life and come to them under the guise of training. He
wanted to help her control the new magic coursing through her body, threatening
to erupt at any moment. He’d been roaming her thoughts for months now,
admittedly helping her keep it under control, but also nagging at her to let
them train her. She didn’t necessarily know if she wanted to be trained for a
war that had nothing to do with her.

No way could she justify leaving
her job for it, that was for sure.

Her thoughts drifted to the body
her partner called her about. If she was being called, then likely it was one
of the missing people they’d been searching for. She always hoped to find her
victims alive, but so many times the case ended with a body. It was exhausting,
disheartening, but there were enough victories that the harder cases didn’t
overwhelm her.


She hated when her cases ended
this way.


him soothed Aren as he slid his hands across the cold clay on his table. Since
he’d been assigned as the Oracle’s personal guard, he’d had a small studio
built behind the safe house where he could escape to do his carving. It mostly
served as a place to keep his tools, as he preferred to work outside in the
open air. He missed the studio he kept in the middle of France, at the vineyard
he’d bought on a whim. The large windows let beautiful light into his house and
his studio. Not that he’d spent a lot of time carving over the years. Before
Zahra, he’d spent most of his time alone, hunting. But Europe had been his
hunting ground, and he’d found himself back at that vineyard more times than
not. It had been a lonely existence, but then, he was no stranger to living on
the fringes.

He dipped one hand in water, and
brought it back up to the block of clay, shaking out the morose thought. Only
the top of the head was visible so far. His hands lovingly caressed the curly
tendrils taking form.

He’d missed carving.

He dipped his hand in water again
and ran it over the bottom of the bust, wetting the clay not yet carved. In the
chaos of the amulet and oracle being found, the last three years had been spent
trying to rebuild their tribe.  Their
pride members were being kidnapped, and used in a vicious power game, he’d
barely had time to sleep, never mind carve. Keeping the oracle safe from the
forces sent after her was a never ending job.

Though Francesca had asked him to
leave her alone, he touched her mind again, soothing the beast that lurked
under her skin, as yet untamed. He moved through her thoughts silently, using
his magic to smooth some of the frayed areas of her stress before withdrawing.
He didn’t dare linger in her mind. The moment she felt him, she’d tense up and
all his work would be for nothing. Of course, it wasn’t just for her benefit.
Now that his animal knew she was out there, the need to reach out to her, to
touch her mind, became an obsession. He pulled back before she noticed,
catching the stray thoughts of another person nearer. His brows pulled down in
concern. It was barely dawn. The oracle hated waking early.

“I know you’re there, Zahra.
Though, congratulations, you hide your thoughts a lot better now.”

She sighed and stepped from the
side of the shed he used to store his tools and clay. She carried a heavy mug
of coffee and was swaddled in a thick terry robe twice her size. “No one can
hide from you,” she grumbled. “I built freaking Fort Knox around my mind.”

He smiled and shook his head. “She
still hasn’t made a decision.” He pulled the purpose of her visit from her

She plopped down in the damp
grass in front of him moments after a woven blanket appeared. “Frankie’s so

She was that, he agreed silently.

“She some kin to Dalia,” the
oracle went on, plucking grass and ripping the stalks.

“She’s her niece.” He frowned.
Zahra knew that.

“It’s an expression, meaning she
acts a lot like Dalia. How are you able to read my mind, but still get baffled
by colloquialisms?”

“Well, you southerners have
curious turn of phrases.” He concentrated on slowly slicing away at his clay,
keeping an affable smile on his face. Not because he was especially happy, he
knew Zahra worried. 

“It goes both ways you know.”

He stopped working and looked up.

“This link. It goes both ways.
You can drop the façade and work, you don’t have to smile for my benefit.”

A genuine smile curled his lips.
Goddess, the woman was smart. “What would you have me do, Zahry?”

He turned the conversation back
to the reason she was visiting him while he worked. It was his alone time and
everyone took care not to disturb him while he did it. He assumed from the
oracle’s presence she’d run out of patience with Francesca.

“You’re going to have to go get

And he was right. “You think that
will work?”

Zahra shrugged. “I don’t know. If
she starts to lose her control, I’m just going to snatch her here, to hell with
the consequences.”

“That won’t work with her.” He
reminded her, his tool carving small lines through the hair he worked
painstakingly on.

She dropped her head into her
hands. “I know.”

“Her animal won’t give her much
of a choice here shortly.” He smoothed down an accidental nick with his

“From her thoughts, she’s working
on a case.” She commented.

“Dedication is not a bad trait to
have.” He said mildly.

“Are you gonna go get her or not?”
Zahra’s impatience reared.

“It has to be me?”

She crossed her arms over her
chest. “You know it does.”

“I don’t know that I’m ready—”

She cut him off. “Your animal
won’t give you much of a choice here shortly.”

He snarled at her throwing his
words back in his face. She was right, though. She was the oracle, of course
she was right. While new to her job, Zahra wore the mantle of power well, and
communicated with the goddess on the regular. She knew them all intimately and
some days it chaffed.

Like right now…when he was trying
to wait out his mate.

She stood up and brushed dust
from the back of her jeans. “A new class of warriors starts next week, so,
that’s all the time you have.”

He saluted her with his wet, clay
stained hand.

She snorted and walked off.

He worked silently for a few
moments before reaching for Francesca again, it was habit at this point. Her
mind was on her work, for now, the power inside her calm. Still, he used his
power to dampen it a bit more. He hoped it would give her an easier time
controlling the animal throughout her day. As he told Zahra, she was dedicated
to her job. Yes, he did what the oracle ordered and called to Francesca in an
effort to convince her to come train with them, but most of the time he spent
in her mind was getting to know her, getting acquainted with the mate with whom
the goddess had finally blessed him.

He was determined to get his
mating right the first time.

 He was playing the long game, and now Zahra
had pushed up his time line. Watching his brothers’ stumble through their
mating was painful, and he hoped to not go through it. Though, the stubbornness
of his mate may make all of it for naught.

#Writing Prompt Wednesday 11/20

Today’s #writngpromptwednesday image came from @andrewtneel via @pexels . I get really excited when I see a picture and a scene immediately pops up in my mind. For this one, I saw a woman touching that glass, feeling the cold of it and thinking about the bad news she’d just received. Was she upset? Was it expected?  What scene comes to mind when you look at this picture?

While the scene unfolded instantly, it did take me a minute to figure out what flavor of paranormal I would go with, but when I did…whew. I am definitely putting this on the list for a full length. I want to explore this story and figure out the war between the dragons and storm gods. Mila and Tatsuo feel like they could be scorching on the page once I sit down and really flesh them out. 

Anyways, that being said, below is my small snippet of their story. It’s not really edited, and there is so much more I want to add and fill out for the story, but I like it so far. 


The glass was cold against her fingertips, the rapidly
dropping temperature outside nearly matching the cold steadily freezing her
insides. She’d waited too long for confrontations, for …closure…and now the
chance was gone. Mila stared through the raindrops on the glass to the street
below, wishing she was down there with people moving about their day. She could
almost see inside the coffee shop across the street. Maybe she could go there
once this meeting was done. It was one of the many meetings she’d had to endure
since her grandmother had died. Her body tensed and the hair along her arms
raised as she watched a man separate from the side of the building, angry hand
movements at the pedestrian who had nearly bowled him over as they turned the
corner. The dark rain slicker he wore had blended into the shadows under the awning
where he stood so much so that she probably wouldn’t have seen him had he not
moved. His head jerked upwards, his gaze seeming to zero in on her. He crossed
his arms over his chest, emphasizing his slender frame. She stepped back from
the window, pushing a shaking hand through her braids.

“Mila,” the lawyer called from behind her.

She cleared her throat, but gave herself a moment before she
turned. She shook off her unease and gave her grandmother’s lawyer her complete
attention. Sympathy was written across the older man’s face, the wrinkles
around his mouth turned down as he studied her face.

“I know you and Ruby didn’t…” Mr. Henry sighed and shifted
in his desk chair. “There are things that you should’ve been told. Things your
grandmother took for granted that she’d have more time to impart.”

Mila scoffed. “Don’t say the psychic didn’t see her own
death coming.”

His lips tightened, and anger momentarily crossed his face. “Arrangements
have been made for you—”

“There is nothing of grandma’s that I want. I’ve managed
just fine without her.” And if by managed she meant she never went more than
two days without eating, it wasn’t his business.

As if on cue her stomach growled, an angry sound that
reminded her that she’d spent the last of her money to come home and deal with
Ruby’s estate.

“Be that as it may.” He picked up the phone on his desk and
spoke into it softly.

Moments later, a smartly dressed younger woman entered the
room with a tray of pastries and a kettle of steaming coffee. She set it on the
small table across the room, sitting in front of a small love seat. The woman
smiled and left as quickly as she’d entered. Mila made her way over and grabbed
a cinnamon bun off the top, closing her eyes at the yummy smell.

“Thank you,” she muttered if somewhat reluctantly.

“I realize I’m putting you out and no doubt delaying your
hasty exit from this town, but there are things you need to know.” Henry
indicated that she retake her seat in front of him.

Grabbing one of the small plates, she stacked it high with
pastries and wondered how she could sneak a few out without him noticing.

Mr. Henry put his elbows up on his desk and leaned forward. “I
know you didn’t believe in your grandmother’s gift, Mila, but Ruby’s will must
be executed.”

The food turned to ash in her mouth and she dropped the bun
onto her plate. “Oh, was she sober enough to make a will?”

“Mila,” he growled.

“What? You’ve known me my whole life, Mr. Henry, do you
expect me to be anything other than relieved that she can’t hurt me anymore?”

“Mila, I knew nothing of how Ruby treated you until you
walked out of her house, never to be heard of again. I swear, had I known…”

“Be that as it may,” she sneered, giving him back his own

Mr. Henry sighed. “I failed you, yes.”

Silence fell between them, heavy, sickening. Mila put her
pastries on the desk and sat back in the chair.

“Why did you hunt me down? I don’t care that she died.”

Except she did care. With Ruby gone, all the answers and
memories of her parents died with her. Especially since her grandmother allowed
neither picture nor even the most innocuous discussion about her mother—Ruby’s
daughter— and the ‘fucking reptile’ she’d married. So Mila knew nothing about
her parents, save their names.

“You’re in danger.”

Her heart skipped and the half of bun she’d eaten flipped in
her stomach. “What are you talking about?”

“That power of your grandmother’s you scoffed at? It was the
only thing keeping you protected from what’s going to hit your life.” He
inclined his head towards the window to the street below.

“I don’t believe that.” She whispered, but her skin was
heating and nerves danced up and down her body.

His face was somber. He believed what he was telling her.

“You’ve been my grandmother’s lawyer forever, surely you
knew she was a fraud.”

He pushed back from the desk top and reached under his desk.
He pulled out a thick file. “That’s where you’re wrong, Mila. I was never your
grandmother’s lawyer. I’m yours.”

He slapped the file down on the desk. Pictures scattered
from between the brown manila folder. She grabbed one as it slid towards her.
It was a picture of two smiling people. 
A beautiful woman with the same face as hers, and a handsome man looking
down at the baby the woman was holding with enough love to seize her heart. Her
hands started to shake, trembles that moved up her arm.

“Who are these people?”

“Your parents.”

Her…she sucked in a sharp breath, her throat closing as grief struck her. “You’ve had this stuff this whole time?”

He rubbed a hand across his face. “I wasn’t aware of the way
Ruby was treating you. You were a quiet child. You hardly spoke during my
visits and your grandmother was…difficult. It was a less than ideal situation,
but she was the only one with power enough to cloak you.”

“Cloak me?” She frowned, still staring at her parents’ picture.
She traced her mother’s happy face.

She brought her head up at his silence. His brows were
furrowed, his gaze out the window behind him. She turned and winced at the
sleet beating against the glass. Damn it, she would have to go back out in

“Mila,” he whispered. “In the next few minutes there will be
things happening around you that you don’t understand, but I will need you to
trust me.”

Full on hail slapped against the window. Mila jumped with
every ping against the glass.

Mr. Henry shuffled the papers back into the folder and
jerked open the drawer next to him. He pulled out a jewelry case and opened it
with shaking hands. He pulled out a heavy signet ring and dark gold cuffs.

“Put these on, now!”

The storm outside was kicking up, and the panic in the
lawyers eye’s had her stomach dancing. She did as she was told and fumbled with
the ring until she found a finger it fit. It slid snug against her thumb. She
barely managed to slap both cuffs on when his door slammed open. The man from
the street below strode into the office. How she knew it was him, she’d never
be certain, but she knew. Her body heated, her breath stalling. Now that six
stories didn’t separate them, she got a better look at him. The black rain
slicker he wore was buttoned all the way to his neck, but dark tattoos covered
the exposed skin, reaching all the way up to his chin. His hair was black, parted
in the middle, the front half of the wet strands falling around his face, the
rest tied back in a ponytail. Dark inset eyes studied her, his full lips
parting as though he himself was surprised. He paused only a second before
moving aside and allowing another person into the room.

Behind him, a man, his face chiseled, handsome…cold, sauntered
in. She looked down at the picture of her parents and swallowed a gasp. The man
looked so similar to her father, from the narrow, almond shaped eyes, to the
small, upturned nose. His hazel eyes speared Mila, a smile that didn’t quite
reach his eyes tilting his full lips.

“Mila, the hybrid dragon,” the man purred.

“Isamu, we had an agreement.” Mr. Henry stood, and braced
his hands on the top of his desk.

Isamu turned his attention from her to the lawyer. “A deal
you broke, or else my niece would still be in Nara, where she belongs.”

Niece? Mila’s eyes ping ponged between the two men. She
wanted answers, but more than anything she wanted to run. There was an intense
amount of testosterone in the room, and her instincts were screaming for her to
do what she did best and disappear. But… this man was claiming to be her
family. Was it true? Was there some part of her parents still out there?

“I am a neutral party in all this—”

“You chose a side when you allowed the storm gods to hide
her!” Isamu made a step closer to Mr. Henry.

He was stopped by a hand on the arm from his companion. Mila
made the mistake of meeting the man’s eyes. Possessive and intense, his stare
made her uncomfortable, but not in the way she was expecting. Instead of fear,
there was a sense of anticipation.

“Let me go, Tatsuo.” Isamu demanded.

Tatsuo spoke, his deep voice filling the room, the lilting
Japanese softly spoken, patient as he calmed down her…uncle? But, Tatsuo’s eyes
never left Mila’s. He continued to watch her, his eyes tracing her face, taking
in every detail. She squirmed in the chair and turned towards the window to
break eye contact that was starting to feel a little too intimate. The hail was
coming down harder, wind, tearing through the street, whipping through the tree
tops below.

“It was her mother’s wish that she not be thrust in the
middle of a war!” Mr. Henry snapped, slapping his hand down.

Mila flinched at the sound.

Isamu moved surged forward, held back by Tatsuo. “And do you
think the storm gods give a fuck? They’ll take her and mold her for their own
selfishness, leveling our cities until they are no more.”

Unable to take being in the dark a moment longer, Mila
cleared her throat.

“What war?”

Their eyes swiveled to her, both men blinking as though just
remembering she was in the room.

“You cannot have her,” Mr. Henry whispered.

“And you will no longer keep my betrothed from me.” In Tatsuo’s
voice was a promise.

His pronouncement a shock that doused her and Mr. Henry
both. They turned to each other, eyes wide, their mouths ajar. The lawyer’s
face had gone ashen and he gripped the edge of his desk, falling heavily into
his chair.


What did that mean?

A gust of wind whistled outside, and the windows of Mr.
Henry’s office shuddered.

“The storm gods have arrived, and I fear, Mila, I can be of
no further help to you.” The lawyer whispered. 

#Writing Prompt Wednesday 10/30

I have totally been slacking lately. I’ve been finding it hard to write, except for small stretches here and there. I thought, oh, I can take a couple days off, I’m finished with this draft, no problem. Well…I looked up from the fog of apathy to find out it’s been weeks. *sigh* Anyways, I pulled out my sewing machine and surprisingly enough, doing something creative in another format is slowly wakening me up. I thought it appropriate that it all happened on a Wednesday. Took me all morning, but I managed to get some words down. One look at the image for today and it came flooding back. Whether or not that means I’ll be better about posting, that has yet to be seen. So…moving right along. 

Today’s #writingpromptwednesday is inspired by this image from photographer Quang Nguyen Vinh:

What scene does the image bring up for you?

For me, the concept came to me of a woman trying to figure out how to get to the temple on the other side of that lake.  This picture sort of grabbed me because of how hazy the building in the back is. The haziness is perfectly encapsulating how I feel right now. The story shifted on me a few times actually. It went from a woman waiting in a passive way, to a woman waiting on her one chance. I don’t know if that makes sense to y’all, but it was a difference to me. I don’t necessarily know what’s happening in Bria’s world, but it all feels dire, or at least felt that way for a few moments. 

Anyway, as always, this little snippet is off the cuff and not necessarily edited for anything other than spelling. 

Fog surrounded her, the moist air clinging to her skin and
slowly dampening the thin robe she wore. It didn’t faze her or move her from
her post. The gateway opened only once a century and she would not miss it.
Many women in her family had stood in this exact spot, years, centuries before
her, waiting on their chance. Bria was determined to be the last. She fingered
the dagger on her belt and rolled her neck. From every story passed down to
her, this opening gateway was the only way into the temple floating hazy on
the horizon. A solitary entrance point, a single solitary moment in time to
rush through its gates and demand the end to her family line. Bria cocked her
head as a sound intruded. Her eyes never strayed from her prize, but her body
tensed as her other senses reached out to find the source. She inhaled slowly,
pulling in the damp air and a smell she would recognize for as long as she
lived…and according to family legend, that would be centuries yet.

“You’ll not sway me from my course, Caden.” Her soft voice
carried on the dawning morning.

He stepped from the fog, an apparition that could disappear
at a moment’s notice. His black jeans clung to his muscular thighs, a leather motorcycle
jacket opened to reveal the tight black t-shirt underneath. Caden had his
dreads pulled up in bun atop his head leaving nothing to detract from the face
God himself had chiseled. He watched her, his gray eyes stark against the dark
brown of his skin.

Bri shivered as those eyes traced her body, the possessive look
one she knew all too well. His full lips turned up into a smile, his teeth
straight and white except the two canines, sharp and growing longer as he
stared at her. She scoffed and turned back to her watch, but her body warmed
all the same. He knew what he was doing, the memories the sight of his teeth would
provoke. She could almost feel the phantom rake of them down her back. Her body
arched, and tingles traveled the length of her skin.

Damn him.

“Maybe I just came to keep you company while you wait.” His
voice was molasses sliding against her skin, warm and sticky.

Another trick of his.

She swallowed a sigh. “Go away, Caden.”

“Have you thought this through, Bria?” He made no moves to
close the distance between them.

“What is there to think about? If I can be the last vampire
born into the Cauly clan, then how can that be anything but good?”

“At the risk of losing your life?” He hissed.

“To save millions of others?” She gave him an incredulous
look, “fucking right.”

Caden growled and stomped closer. “I won’t let you do this.”

“Unless you plan on killing me, there is no way for you to
stop me.”


“Caden,” she mocked.

“Ending the line—”

“Means that there won’t be another like my father and his
brothers. It means the one they prophesied will never exist. How do you have a
problem with that?”

“You don’t know the consequences.” Caden gripped her
shoulder and turned her to him. “We can defeat your father without you sacrificing
your life, love.”

“Don’t do this. Don’t make this harder than it is, Caden.
You promised.” She whispered, avoiding his eyes.

Caden nuzzled into her neck, his warm breath sending
goosebumps down her arms. He scraped his teeth against her skin. Bria shuddered,
her body coming alive under his touch.

“There has to be another way.” He murmured.

Bria stepped back and hugged her arms around herself. Not
that it did anything to still the heat igniting in her body. She cursed the thin
temple garb she wore.

“In the centuries we have searched, this is the only way we’ve
found. The Celestials are the only way to end this.”

“They’ll dead your whole line.” His voice was tight with

She shrugged. What could she say to that? Her only
alternative was to allow her father to overrun the rest of the world, leaving
swaths of death and destruction behind him. Nothing, in the centuries since he’d
come into power had been able to stop Jeremiah and Bria was weary of fighting.
Hell, every woman in her family was tired.

“They created us, only they can end him.” She whispered.

“We always fight together, why should this be any different?”
He cupped her chin.

“Only a direct descendant is allowed through the gateway,
you know that.”

“According to records so old they’re nearly indecipherable.
Who’s to say it can only be you, or that it would even work?” He growled and
turned his back to her.

“I won’t risk you.” She snapped.

She scrubbed at her shorn hair in frustration. She’d left
their house before dawn to avoid rehashing their argument and yet here he was.

Light shimmered between the naked branches of the tree she
stood under. Bria whipped her attention back to the lake, gasping as the temple
beyond became clearer, the haze surrounding it lifting. Her throat closed with
unshed tears. She was here, the gate was actually opening. She would be the one
to take down her father and save the world…at least from this. Humans would
have to figure out the next apocalyptic event on their own.

“Bria, please.” Caden begged.

The surface of the lake rippled, solidifying and darkening
as a bridge rose from the bubbling water. Bria pulled the staff from her back,
pushing a button in the middle. The metallic ring of the blades sliding out
rang out and she smiled. She would be the last.

Caden stepped next to her, pulling a sword from his back.

“What are you doing?” Bria’s gaze barely flickered to him.
She would not lose sight of the gateway.

He turned, facing the dead forest behind her. “Having your

“Fuck.” Her breath left her mouth in an angry puff as the
air around them slowly dropped in temperature.

She was dumb to think her father wouldn’t send someone to
stop her. The air shimmered around them battling with the magic from her father’s
minions, crystallizing the fog surrounding them. Droplets of ice formed around
the gateway slowly opening, falling in brittle pieces at her bare feet. She
glanced back and saw shadows slithering through the trees. Her conscious pricked
at her, her mind spinning. Caden was a formidable warrior, but to go alone
against her father’s horde?

“Go, Bri.”

Duty and honor warred within her as she waited on the
gateway to finish opening. “You shouldn’t have come, Caden.”

A whooshing sound preceded the horde’s attacks. A rain of
arrows thudded into the ground around them. Bria threw up a shield, cursing as
one came through, slicing across her shoulder. Wind whipped around them as the
gateway finally opened, and the bridge to the temple settled into place.

“This is the only chance you’ll have Bria,” Caden shouted
over the noise.

Their eyes met, and decades of history, words never spoken
danced between them. She glanced at the bridge, one that only her family could
travel as they were direct descendants of the Celestial. The horde would never
make it past the entrance to the gateway, the taint on their soul would bar
them from the gods, their deaths instant and most important…permanent.

Would her love for Caden shield him from that same fate? The
horde struck again, their magic beating against the shield Bria had built
around them. There was a possibility that Caden would die if she took him with
her, but if she left him, death was certain. Her father had sent out the big
guns to stop her.

Did she trust herself to keep him safe?

Bria looked out into the amassing horde, and then back at
the gate. What choice did she have?

She held out her hand.

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