He fed his female. Haleos wanted to close his eyes and just let the sensation wash around him, but he was not blind to the vulnerable position they were in.
And he would always protect this delicate female in his arms. Even though she was far braver than he wanted to think about. The idea of her searching for a missing female, all on her own, terrified him.
But now he had her, and he was not letting her out of his sight again.
Even if he had to move in with her father to do that. He would do it.
When she was finished she looked up at him with dazed eyes. He suspected it was the first time she had fed from a male. He liked that idea a great deal. She was his, after all.
And he would provide all that she needed.
He smiled. “I will feed you again anytime you wish it. Come, let us find your cousin. Then we will decide our future. How big is your father’s house?”
“Not large. Reanna and I share a room now. In Colorado, we each had our own and there was a guest room.”
He frowned. “That will not do. I was thinking of moving in and sharing your bed tonight.”
He said it just to make her bristle at him. And she did. Haleos smiled.
Her eyes widened, then narrowed. And then she smiled right back. “Not happening.”
“We shall see about that.”
The alley had been a haven. Once they stepped onto the street, that became clear. The destruction from whatever had happened was beyond devastating. Kea tightened her hold on Haleos’s hand.
There were males everywhere; most were demons or wore the turquoise of the Adrastos Houses. She shifted closer to her Rajni.
The demons terrified her.
“You do not have to be so frightened, Kea,” Haleos whispered. “These are my brothers’ and brother-in-law’s warriors. Nalik and the demon king sent them to protect the city and to determine just what rose from the earth beneath the city. And you are safe with me.”
As he spoke two males approached. They looked just like him.
“Haleos?” one asked.
“My female has the blood of the Sebastos within her. And that of Woald. She has had a vision and needs to be here,” Haleos said quietly. “Kea of Jareth House, meet my eldest brother Aodhan. Formerly of Colorado. And Havrich, whom you have met. He is the brother mated with Iahanna.”
The males bowed to her. Havrich smiled at her. “Hello, dear cousin. Iahanna told me of your mother.”
“Is Iahanna ok? I haven’t seen her in a long while.” And she had heard of the poison that someone had given her mother’s cousin. The idea that someone had almost killed Iahanna was horrific to even contemplate.
“She and Cayri fare well now. They are at the Healer’s Hall now, tending to the daughters of your great-aunt Alaena, who were hurt in the rising.”
He hesitated. “They are all being cared for now.”
She hadn’t known they had been injured. Her vision had been of Cerian. “I am missing another cousin. Her name is Cerian. It used to be Cerian Black, but I don’t think it is now. She’s a Woald.”
The eldest brother looked at her. “Cerian, cousin of Nalik?”
“I think so. She lived with Petr Black. Her mother and mine were first cousins. Mother tried to get Cerian when her mother died but Petr refused to allow it.” And he had been the father of an Equa, and far wealthier than her own mother. He had won. “I—I had a vision.”
“Tell me. For Nalik is a cousin of mine, as well. And that girl…it would not have been easy living with Sharisha.”
“I woke, and I knew…Cerian’s in danger. And I think she lives on this street. I was hoping that if I was down here, I could maybe get another vision about where. But I’m…I don’t have the same gift that the Sebastos do. I’m a Jareth. My mother is a Sebastos and Woald.”
And she could feel something else coming. More knowledge she just could not interpret. It worked like that, she’d get vague impressions or certain resolute facts. But never the whole story. And never instructions on how to act in the meantime.
“Then we get that knucklehead Theo down here, where he can tell us for certain,” Aodhan said. He wrapped his hand around hers. “Welcome to the family, little sister. Now, we shall find your cousin and see she is cared for the way we should have all along.”
She nodded, as the world around her started to tilt. “Just hurry. I—whatever has happened to her, it will change everything.”
“What do you mean by that?” Haleos asked.
She closed her eyes. This…this was the strongest vision she had ever had. She could feel the earth around her. The power. Not evil. “I don’t know. This ground…it doesn’t feel evil, Haleos. Just strong. Powerful. She was here. Right there, where that house once was.” Her eyes opened again and she stared at the rubble. It might have once been a house, but now…it simply wasn’t. And Cerian… “She was in there when the being rose from the earth. And I think he took her. Somewhere. But I think…I think it will change everything for the Woald. And that will change everything…for all of us. We have to find her. Help her. It is our only hope.”
Haleos’s arms tightened around her as she started to shake. He lifted her off her feet.
Someone else wrapped an extra cloak around her, even though it wasn’t that cool of a day. She didn’t care. She was freezing. “Hurry. Find her.”
“Whose hope, Kea?” Haleos asked.
She closed her eyes as the horror threatened to break her. “All of us. Demon and Dardaptoan and everything in between. The wars…They hinge on her.”
The males’ curses echoed around her as she gave in to the darkness.
She slept for two days. Haleos stayed at her bedside, only alternating when either her mother, cousin Reanna, or Cayri would shoo him away long enough for him to shower or grab some food in the dining hall.
They had compassion in their eyes when they looked at him. Her mother had spent many hours speaking with him, telling him of her own visions. She alone didn’t seem that surprised by the way her daughter had collapsed. She’d simply stated that sometimes the knowledge a seer possesses will be too much for them to fathom. Especially the younger seers.
Even Theo Sebastos, Kea’s second-cousin and the best prognosticator in the land, had stopped by to visit her. He, too, had confirmed what Kea had stated. Said he’d known all along.
Her cousin had been taken by whatever had risen. And only the knowledge that the wars they faced hinged on Cerian Woald provided proof that the girl no older than Kea still lived.
No one knew where to even begin searching. And the seers couldn’t point them in the right direction.
Hope was that Kea could.
Theo had stated that Kea was correct in one other thing as well. Something was going on with the House of Woald. Something with far reaching consequences. Yet no one knew what.
Iahanna was terrified, and every Adrastos with even a small connection to the Woald were volunteering warriors to guard them.
Only his father and grandfather had refused.
No one understood why.
His brother Pax, a few decades older than Haleos, was investigating why.
And Iahanna and Cayri and their males had been relocated to the world of the goddess.
Kea was on her way there as soon as she awoke. She had been summoned. The goddess believed Kea would be safer there from whatever threat was coming.
Haleos would be at her side.
No matter what the future held.
She finally opened her eyes in the middle of the night. Kea wasn’t alone in the bed, but she knew who it was from the first moment.
She recognized his scent.
He jerked awake, hand going toward the sword near the bed. She laughed. “I’m not a threat.”
“Sometimes, you are. How do you feel?”
“Rested. But hungry. Very hungry.” She wanted more of her male, too. “Where are we? Did you bring me to your home?”
“Yes. But it is temporary. We will be joining Iahanna and Cayri soon.”
“Why? Because of Cerian? What I saw?” She shivered.
Her mate immediately covered her with an extra blanket.
“Yes. The Sebastos Equan confirmed all that you said. And he reports that you and several other females of Woald blood will be safer with the goddess. It is to her that we go in the morning.”
“And my mother and father? My cousin Reanna?”
“Already there and waiting for us. The healers did not want to move you there in your unconscious state unless absolutely necessary. They left a few hours ago.”
“Another relocation.” But it felt right. And he would be with her. She could deal with it. As long as he was with her. “But what of your House? The one you lead? You can’t just leave them.”
“Those who wish to follow me have already relocated and taken assignments guarding the goddess. Most were thrilled with the honor to protect our very creator. The ones who chose to stay were those who have family ties to others in Thrun. None were forced.” He rolled her closer and tucked her face close to his neck. She let him. “We are Adrastos after all. Many were wanting a greater adventure than life in Thrun was providing.”
“Drink. I can feel how you thirst. We will embrace our future tomorrow. Tonight, we shall just embrace each other.”
Kea leaned closer and did as he wished.
She didn’t need a vision to tell her this was exactly where she was supposed to be.
She’d found her male, and whatever happened, whatever world they were in, they would face it together.
Watch for The Key, a 75 page short story, coming soon!