Monday, November 28, 2016

Preface and Chapter 1 of Kindred (The Birthrite Series, #2)...

Hello all,

I hope you all are having a great holiday season! My 40% discount at my store is still going on until tomorrow. Simply visit and enter the coupon code BLACKFOREST at check out!

Now I give you another preview of Kindred (The Birthrite Series, #2). There is a jump break after the Preface, as Chapter 1 does include spoilers (and some parts of the chapter might be NSFW). But if you've read Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) or if you don't mind spoilers, read on! Enjoy the preview and stay tuned for a release date soon. :)


Florence, Italy

In the dim light of a small studio, an elderly artisan pondered his most recently completed work. He smiled slightly and decided to give the canvas a final brush stroke. This subtle addition was indeed what the new portrait needed to be complete and finished.
Satisfied, the old man rose from the chair he was seated in, knowing that his apprentice would arrive at any moment to travel it to a Tuscan seaport.
The artist knew of the ship on which this portrait was to board. La Suerte was a newly built vessel, having just been launched on her maiden voyage in that same year. She was no ordinary ship and this would be her only year carrying his paintings to where they needed to be. She had a destiny but for this time being, she was what he – along with the subjects of his paintings - needed. And she needed them, as the energy of her passengers was what fueled her (as though they were part of her).
With great care, he packaged the painting, taking a final moment to gaze into the eyes of the middle-aged man whose image was on the canvas. This particular work had not been commissioned, but he knew that the public figure in America would be most appreciative. In his mind's eye, he could see this new work hanging inside the main hall of a library, one located in a little town just outside the city of New York. It was the same small town for which he created a statue to be part of a fountain in the town’s park.
He smiled at the thought of that statue acting as a beacon of light for the town. Of all his highly sought after works, the seraph statue was among his very best, even if he had to say so himself.
As the elderly man was placing the final protective wrappings on his parcel, he heard a knock at the door. He turned, bidding his visitor to enter. The door opened, revealing the old man's young apprentice. No words were exchanged between the two, for there was no need. Both knew what had to be done and why.
The young man departed for the seaport, leaving the artisan alone again in the studio. The old man walked over to the other side of the modest room, regarding three other shrouded canvases, portraits that were unfinished. He was in no hurry to finish these and knew that when the time was right, they would be complete. He also knew well of the individuals whose images were being formed upon those canvases.
Three individuals that were not of his world.

Though, in a way, they are...


The Shifting Islands
January 2, 1933


She stood at the edge of all worlds and gazed into the dense fog. Having come to this place many times before, she knew what awaited her on the other side. Though that did nothing to quell the anxiety churning from within.
Drawing a breath, she stepped forward, and allowed herself to be engulfed by the mist...


...As the fog dissipated, Dorothy stared ahead, looking out to the vast terrain stretched before her. Gazing about the massive island, she was plagued by the memories from the years past. Recalling all that had happened just a little over a year ago caused a melange of emotions swirling throughout her being. Most prevalent was concern for her husband. How long will it be before he realizes that I’ve left…?
Shortly after that evening's supper, she sneaked away from the Shrouded Vale, giving the excuse of retreating to the Sanctuary's library for the evening. She also made certain to leave while Carl was distracted by his conversation with Daniel and Jimmy.
Guilt over such deceit racked at her core as she knew how her husband felt about her coming here, but there also wasn’t a choice in the matter. Until now, Rebekah had been accompanying her here, which seemed to appease Carl. Though now it was time for Dorothy to start doing this on her own. Specific individuals with a certain set of genetics (this included their childhood friend Jimmy Kratz), were required to alternate shifts as guardians of the isle for the equivalent of a night. When Rebekah and one of the Elders informed Dorothy of it being her time to guard the island on her own, Dorothy failed to mention it to Carl.
Of course, she had all good intentions of telling him, but anytime an opportunity to do so presented itself, the words that needed to be spoken remained lodged in her throat. Next time, she always told herself, next time she would tell him. But it was a never-ending cycle of an empty promise (similar with how it was in high school, when she would see Carl and promise herself that next time she would get up the nerve to talk to him...only this time the situation was far graver than an unrequited high school crush).
A jagged sigh left her throat as she attempted to unload some of the weight from her heavy heart. She knew her husband had been feeling incredibly lonely in their marriage. When the two married at Christmas time a year prior (it seems so much longer ago than that), she was adamant about not beginning a life together filled with lies. But I still have secrets from him…
Tears the rims of her eyes as she placed a hand on the small of her stomach. It had been nearly two months since she last bled and having been pregnant before, she was familiar with the symptoms.
Swallowing back the threatening sobs, she closed her eyes, recalling the wonderful night on which this unborn child was conceived. The memory brought a faint smile to her lips. Anytime she and Carl were together, it was as if nothing else could touch them. Their emotional, physical, and spiritual connection was beyond anything she dreamed of it ever becoming. Though with each passing year, the lingering distant fate they were doomed for became a more garish reality. On the twenty-fifth day of this coming October, Carl was to turn twenty, and Dorothy's own twentieth would follow on the first of December. For most married couples, celebrating a birthday was another day for a couple to celebrate one another but for Carl and Dorothy, it was a ticking time bomb. He would grow older and age, as would she but at a much slower pace. His death would likely come long before hers would. This was part of what fueled her passion for him and his for her; it was especially evident on the night they celebrated his last birthday and created the child that now grew inside her. Had their circumstance been any different, she would be presenting this news to him as a late birthday and Christmas surprise.
Anytime she would feel happiness over a second chance at motherhood, a reminder of their situation and uncertain future would hit her like a bolt of lightning. She chuckled slightly at the thought. You would think I would be used to it by now…
Nearly eighteen years of her life had been spent in complete ignorance of what truly was. While she was always aware of certain aspects of her family's heritage (traits and history particularly different from the families of her peers), the notion of finding worlds existing outside of what she and her peers were born into was something she never thought to seriously contemplate. Nor would she have expected to be in a situation even remotely similar with what she and her closest friends had found themselves in at the end of November in 1931. The revelation of her Grandpa and Grandma Winthrop promising her to a man that was a stranger to her (a stranger and a monster) in the months before she was born was a harsh and devastating blow that forced her to face the fact that nothing had ever been what it appeared to be. The intense betrayal she felt by certain members of her own family continued to torment her. She knew she would never forget it, much less get over it.
With help from some lifelong friends, and some new ones from outside of her natural world, she was able to come to a least some sort of terms with how her maternal grandparents went to great lengths at trying to sabotage her union with Carl. Alice Winthrop made her disapproval of him known from the start when the Winthrops and Blakes had come to stay with Dorothy after the disappearance of her parents, Tahatan, and Father Louis (disappearing just long enough for it all to unravel).
At first the situation seemed to be nothing more than a high society older couple with old world, snobbish, and prejudiced views disapproving of their granddaughter’s relationship with a rather wayward young man. This assumption alone was bad enough, but it ended up being far more than that.
Despite the opposition coming at them from both the human and inhuman worlds, the young couple remained together throughout the torrential and stormy seas, holding on to one another and refusing to let go.
‘Never let go...’
Hearing those three whispered words seeming to echo across the moor caused Dorothy to open her eyes. She beheld the misty island, walking further out to the serene land. In many ways, this island reminded her of the image her mind conjured of the English moors anytime she read, Wuthering Heights, one of her favorite books. And the copy she owned had once belonged to her mother's late sister, Roxanne, the woman that had given the special message of never letting go to her younger sister and niece.
Roxanne had died when Dorothy was still quite young, executed for attempting to leave an abusive marriage in favor of true love with a man far from acceptable among the Winthrop family and their peers.
Dorothy shuddered as she recalled sitting with her Grandpa Blake on that late November night, hearing details of the gruesome truth behind her aunt's death for the first time. What happened to Roxanne went far beyond the accidental drowning reported by the media. As for her lover Brett, his lynching was never reported.
(one less negro for the elite to pretend never existed)
Even after Gerard revealed the truth to his granddaughter, Dorothy continued to investigate the incident, as she knew there was only so much he knew to tell her. Sure enough, the deaths of Brett and Roxanne went far beyond even being murders. The two had been ritually executed.
There was no denying the painful and ugly reality, and Dorothy’s own mother nearly fell victim to such a fate. In that November of 1931, Elizabeth Winthrop Blake was taken from her home and tortured for the same crime as her older sister Roxanne.
Dorothy tried shifting her thoughts away from the horrific incident as her blood began to boil. The idea of anyone being forced to marry someone he or she didn't love never sat well with her, and knowing that she, her mother, and aunt had been set up for that fate infuriated her.
Not long after having such revelations, the young woman was brought to the shrouded vale, never to return to the town she had grown up in and called home for her entire life. She learned more of how her mother was promised to a Roumanian man called Constantin, and how Liz defied them by running off and marrying Matthew Blake, Dorothy's father and a man also deemed unworthy by the Winthrops and their peers. Liz was disowned, disinherited and ostracized from the family. From everyone but Roxanne. Nothing could break the bond that the two women shared as sisters.
Like the love story of Brett and Roxanne, the one of Matthew Blake and Elizabeth Winthrop was a bittersweet one. As debutantes and socialites, the Winthrop sisters were gracing the New York society pages since birth. Roxanne's wedding to Stuart Hawthorne had been a highly publicized event, covered by media both nationwide and overseas.
Dorothy had seen news clippings and photos of her aunt's 1909 wedding. It was littered with camera flashes from media photographers and throngs of onlookers from the public. Even in faded periodical photographs she could see her aunt's forced smile and the subtle distress in her eyes as she emerged with Stuart from St. Patrick's Cathedral a newly married woman on the arm of her husband. Until recently, Dorothy had been unaware of that day's specific details.
Having various truths unlocked a year ago changed not only her life, but how she viewed the world, how she viewed history, politics, and other issues she had been so passionate about. It was as if she were given a magic pill that opened her eyes to what truly existed. Much of her long held beliefs were tested and challenged. The whirlwind of the previous year filled her with so much information that there were times when she thought her brain would explode. But as the dust of the new knowledge started to settle, she found herself becoming more equipped for the challenges that lay ahead. And one of those challenges was helping to guide her mother along the path to recovery. Since the Spring Equinox of the previous year, she had been paying occasional visits to the Blake property in Illinois where her parents were now living. She performed energy healing on her mother, which seemed to help Liz, though it often took both an emotional and physical toll on Dorothy. She often caught glimpses into her mother's memories. Such visions included those of Aunt Roxanne's wedding day. The images showed her aunt's distress over having to marry Stuart Hawthorn.
Dorothy shuddered, aware that arranged marriages still took place in some parts of the world and select circumstances, but why they happened ended up being a reason far deeper than merely political gain and image. In the bridal suite at the hotel, Liz did her best at trying to bring her older sister some comfort despite knowing that such an effort was futile.
One particular memory that Dorothy was able to see of that day was Liz as maid of honor, heading toward her sister's room at the Plaza Hotel with the intent of informing her of the wedding carriage's arrival only to find Roxanne broken down in tears...

...Liz tried helping her sister with pulling herself together just as Alice entered the room to see what was taking her daughter so long. Upon seeing Roxanne's emotional state, the older woman summoned the makeup artist, who pursed his lips with utter disgust and annoyance as he attempted to redo Roxanne's eye makeup in as little time as possible. To his credit, he was quite competent and her makeup was perfect once again, serving as a mask to hide the anguish that lay beneath. After that it was onward to the church, the bride trying to hold herself together as her carriage was paraded down the streets of New York.
“I feel like a circus side-show exhibit,” Roxanne whispered to her sister, who could only offer the older girl a wistful smile under Alice's unwavering stare.
Of course, many assumed that any tears managing to escape were ones of happiness, and maybe slight nerves. But Liz new better as she sat holding her sister's hand for the entire duration of the ride.
When the carriage stopped at the cathedral's entrance, Roxanne was squeezing Liz's hand so hard, the younger sister thought the bones in her hand might break. Still, she ignored her own discomfort and continued her efforts in trying to be a support system for her sister. The older sister maintained a grip on her younger sister's hand as the bridesmaids (consisting of some cousins and sorority sisters from finishing school) proceeded down the aisle with the groomsmen (family members and fraternity brothers of Stuart's). The string orchestra was playing Canon in D.
When it was time for Liz to make her way down the aisle with the best man, the younger Winthrop girl could feel her sister's hand tremble as she was forced to let go.
After Liz and Stuart's brother took their places at the altar, the string orchestra brought the song to an end all in the church rose to stand as Cyril and Roxanne started down the aisle to the sounds of Trumpet Voluntary played on the gigantic pipe organ. Media camera bulbs were flashing throughout the entire procession.
During the ceremony, both sisters tried holding themselves together. Of course, all present assumed that it was for a different reason than what really brewed beneath the surfaces of the two young women. As far as their guests were concerned, Roxanne was deliriously happy over getting married to Stuart Hawthorne, a handsome wealthy socialite who was voted as one of 1907's most eligible bachelors after graduating from Yale. At the university, he was Delta Kappa Epsilon and a member of the Skull & Bones Society. His family was also related to Nathanial Hawthorne and John Hathorne (the latter having been one of the harshest prosecutors during the infamous Salem Witch Trials). Many young ladies were heartbroken when his engagement to Roxanne Winthrop was announced. In the eyes of the media, they were a perfect couple and Liz was among the very few that knew better and the only one who cared...

...While Roxanne never talked much of Stuart's philandering and abuse, the younger Winthrop sister could see it in the nature of their relationship, particularly in the manner that Stuart often scolded her. This included Roxanne's love for books, including the time she gave her newborn niece Dorothy a copy of The Secret Garden as a baby gift.
Just hearing and feeling Stuart's contempt from her mother's mind made Dorothy’s stomach turn, especially when seeing a young Liz knowing that she was destined for the same fate as her older sister. But that changed upon meeting a certain young man who had grown up near the Illinois-Iowa border near Fulton. At age eighteen, Matthew Blake left his rural life in Illinois for New York City after he was accepted into New York University. Upon his arrival, he met and became fast friends with Paul Turner. Matthew also had no idea just how such a move away from home would turn his world upside down. This became apparent when he attended a harvest social at the beginning of his sophomore year.
By now, Dorothy knew the story of her parents’ relationship in its entirety; it was told to her by her father late one night after he put Liz to bed, one of the few times Matthew Blake truly let down his guard.
At the Harvest social, Matthew danced with a couple girls, Holly and Laurie, that were friends of Gladys Montgomery, the young woman whom Paul Turner was courting. Coincidently, Paul and Gladys would marry and a little over a year later, she gave birth to a baby boy they called Carl Paul, the young man who later became the love of Dorothy’s life and her husband.
Gladys's friends were quite attractive and nice, so much that Matthew was considering possibly taking one out. But he noticed two other girls in a far corner, young women who were awfully familiar. Shock penetrated his being upon recognizing them as the fairly well-known Winthrop sisters.
Matthew and Paul had speculated that the girls sneaked out, as surely Cyril and Alice would never want to entertain their daughters being seen with such commoners. The two young men started to write them off as a couple of high hats. Though try as he might, Matthew found himself unable to take his eyes from Liz. And she had noticed him.
There was no formal introduction between Matthew and Liz that evening, but eye contact from across the room was enough for both to never forget the other. Being the wild, more spontaneous and daring Irish boy that he was in those days, Matthew used some of the money he had in his possession to travel to Winthrop Estate. The so-called luck of the Irish must have been on his side that day as Liz just happened to be out walking in the gardens with Roxanne. The two young women noticed him almost right away.
His heart pounded as they whispered to one other, stealing occasional glances in his direction. When neither of the girls were coming over, Matthew considered accepting his losses and returning to his college dormitory but stopped suddenly as Liz slowly started toward him. To his surprise at that time, she seemed to have Roxanne’s support and encouragement.
The first words exchanged between the Matthew and Liz were clipped and rather awkward, especially since the sisters had to practice caution. But from that day forward, the young couple started a secret courtship. This was also in spite of the current rumor of Liz's recent betrothal. At the time, the man's identity was unknown, only that he was of Roumanian aristocracy. Correspondence between the two was done through carefully constructed and discretely sent letters. Roxanne interceded, making certain that the letters were sent. It all went very smoothly for quite some time, so much that the couple grew bolder…and a little careless. Propositions of running away together were exchanged and it was starting to seem as though this might happen. Then nearly a month went by with Matthew hearing nothing from Liz or Roxanne. Deeply worried, he phoned his parents, Gerard and Violet, begging them for money he would use to travel to Winthrop Estate. At the time, Gerard knew nothing of the clandestine relationship, though had some intuitive feelings toward what might be going on. He questioned his son on why he needed the money. A fearful Matthew offered no explanation and only an insisted that his father trust him.
The elder Blake was frustrated over his son's secrecy, but agreed to send what was needed. With that, a grateful Matthew traveled to Winthrop Estate.
During the train ride, all sorts of horrific images filled him, ones of Liz being brutally beaten, but he pushed such thoughts away, opting to hold on to hope that she was alive and well.
Upon his arrival, he immediately went over and waited outside, watching for any sign of the girl he loved, only to come up empty. He stayed at a nearby cheap motel, feeling nothing but anxiety over possibilities of what might have happened to her. His dreams were dark and ominous, and his sleep restless.
On the second day, he ventured back to the estate, trying to keep the hope in his heart alive. He was relieved to see Roxanne outside, tough it seemed she was hiding in the garden while trying to read a book. He tried to subtly get her attention, but to no avail. Finally, he called to her, whispering as loudly as he could without drawing too much attention to himself in case anyone else might be around. When she finally glanced up and saw him, he noticed her hesitation. She looked around, as if afraid of being watched before making her way over to where he stood.
Their conversation was clipped and brief (as it turned out, Roxanne was there with her husband and had stolen away for a few moments of escape from the stuff shirts inside), but she was able to inform him of how Cyril and Alice found out about their youngest daughter's secret relationship. All of Matthew's letters were destroyed and Liz was being prepped for marriage. As far as Roxanne knew, the contracts had been signed.
An enraged and desperate Matthew begged Roxanne of her whereabouts. The older sister's initial fear was evident, but love for her sister proved far more powerful. Matthew could also see that she did not want Liz to suffer the pain she was in, pain that he could see etched in her beautifully made up face. Thus, at the risk of her own well-being, she agreed to help Liz sneak out to him.
Dorothy would never forget the pain in her father's grayish-blue eyes as he told all of this to her in the dimly lit kitchen that previous summer. The house was quiet, with everyone, including Carl, asleep upstairs.
Chills rose on her skin as she recalled what her father had told her next...

...Matthew gazed at his daughter with great intent. In that moment, there seemed to be an understanding between the two that had never been present before.
Their eyes locked before the man's dark brows furrowed. “For as long as I am alive, I'll never forget Roxanne’s words just before she and I parted ways that day...”
Dorothy bit her lip. “What did she say?”
Matthew averted his stare toward the window. “She said...'be careful, I have seen what they can do.'” He turned back to his daughter and looked down, chuckling softly before speaking again.
“She was right, you know...they do, in fact, have eyes everywhere. And who they never can tell. They also know how to block you from knowing who they are.”
Chills rose on Dorothy’s skin as her father raised his eyes to her and said, “If I knew then what I know now…if I hadn't been so stubborn...” His voice trailed off as overpowering guilt consumed him. As he broke down, Dorothy rose from her chair and went over to him...

...She swallowed back tears recalling how she tried to be a source of comfort to her distressed father. The story of Matthew's formal marriage proposal to Liz also touched her, thinking of her mother who with all that was at stake, dealt with much inner conflict between her head and heart…

…Elizabeth glanced back at Roxanne as a silent communication occurred between the two young women. The older sister's eyes were filled with emotions, and Liz understood what her sister was trying to tell her.
Finally, Liz turned back to Matthew and nodded an enthusiastic yes.
With Roxanne's help, she escaped later that night with the man she loved waiting for her at the backend gate. He watched as Roxanne tightly embraced her sister, the older sister’s voice cracking as she told Liz that she was free now. But she was not about to let the younger go without a final warning to the young couple.
“I have seen what they can do,” Roxanne started, but stopped herself when a noise seemed to come from the large mansion. All eyes turned in the direction of the building before Roxanne’s gaze snapped back toward the young couple. “Go now. Quickly before someone comes and sees us.”
“But…” Liz started to protest, “come with us.”
Sadness filled the older sister’s light blue eyes as she shook her head. “I can’t…”
Another noise came from the house, this time it seemed closer.
“Go!” Roxanne urged. “Go. You have your life to live. I’ll be fine, really. Just please be careful.”
Liz’s lips trembled as she threw her arms around her sister. The older girl returned the gesture and her eyes met Matthew’s.
“Take care of her,” Roxanne said. “Though I know you will.”
Unable to speak, he simply nodded.
When the sisters parted, Roxanne seemed to blink back tears in the dark as she whispered, “Never let go…”
Roxanne's sorrow was evident. While happy for her younger sister, she was now truly alone in her world of privilege. A world far more cold and cruel than what anyone on the outside might expect or understand.
The sisters kept their gazes locked until Matthew and Liz turned the corner, both saying a prayer for Roxanne’s safety…

…Dorothy could only imagine the emptiness Roxanne likely felt in that moment, standing alone in the dark before being forced to return to a world in which she was a prisoner. She imagined her aunt all alone, tears streaming from her light blue eyes and down her porcelain skin as her sister, her only comfort and solace, left for a life that Roxanne could only wish for.
Matthew and Liz escaped into the motel with him taking care with sneaking her in should someone see them and try to summon the police on a morals claim (which would have ended badly in more ways than one). In the room, he allowed her the bed while taking to sleeping on the floor. Early the next morning, the two headed to a nearby Catholic church where they were married. Then with the money Matthew had with him - paired with what Roxanne was give without Stuart noticing -  they boarded a train to the city. While traveling, Liz wore a strategically placed hat and clothing far plainer that what she was used to wearing. She couldn’t help cringing slightly at the notion of wearing anything other than the latest fashions from Paris and Milan, but blending in was vital to the success of their escape.
(…they have eyes everywhere…)
For the young couple, it was a time of happiness and frightful uncertainty. With the help of friends (including Paul Turner and his fiancée, Gladys Montgomery), Matthew smuggled Liz into his dormitory. Of course, it was only a matter of time before they were found out. It was suspected that someone from or associated with the university tipped off Cyril and Alice, but who that might have been remained a mystery.
When the Winthrops threatened to disown Liz and cut off her inheritance and the trust fund she was to receive upon marrying someone they considered worthy, she shocked everyone, including her new husband, by speaking for herself and remaining steadfast with the man she loved. Cyril and Alice also saw their threat through and cut their youngest daughter off completely. In the end, the young couple was left to fend for themselves.
Of course, Matthew’s family helped wherever they could, aiding the newlyweds in paying for a small, rundown apartment in the city close to where he was finishing school. In addition to his studies, the young man started working extra hours at a local printing press while Liz struggled with learning domestic skills, something she clearly was not accustomed to. She did keep in touch with her sister and despite the Winthrop family's dismay, Roxanne was the only member of that side of the family to attend the small ceremony and reception for the newlyweds.
The young couple continued struggling over the next two years. But after Matthew's graduation from the university, Alice and Cyril came around, or so it seemed.
The wealthy businessman and his wife offered their daughter and son-in-law a house on Muholland Road in Plains. Matthew was skeptical, but at the time, Liz was newly pregnant and living arrangements more suitable and comfortable for his wife and unborn child was much needed.
Conceiving a child had been anything but easy for Matthew and Liz. The first two had ended in miscarriage and she was already experiencing some complications with the third. The house was certainly needed and he couldn't, in good conscience, turn it down.
Liz spent the duration of her pregnancy in the new home, bedridden in the last three months until the stroke of midnight on December 1, 1913 when a baby girl they called Dorothy Elizabeth was brought into the world.
As an only child, Dorothy’s friendships with Linda Parker and Gail Carr, along with a closeness with her cousin Cletus, were as near as she ever came to having siblings. She had grown up unaware that Grandpa and Grandma Winthrop made up for Liz's rebellion by offering their granddaughter to Constantin, something she did not discover until a year ago when she was on the cusp of her eighteenth year.
With a passion for history, Dorothy read much on the arranged marriages that, throughout the centuries, were the norm in many parts of the world. Such arrangements were quite common within the ruling class and aristocracy where marriage was viewed as more of a status symbol and used for solidifying allies and political gain. But there were also some times when middle and lower classes partook in such tradition out of necessity and survival. Despite recognizing that she was viewing such instances through a twentieth century lens, Dorothy couldn’t help finding them archaic and degrading, treating both the man and the woman as property. To her, few things were more tragic than an individual being forced to marry in accordance with class or financial and political gain. In her many readings of Wuthering Heights, she found herself disagreeing with most of Heathcliff's actions, never finding him to be romantic or charming. She did, however, understand the motivation behind his actions, and found Catherine extremely frustrating, regardless of how good her intentions were in trying to raise Heathcliff’s status among her peers. Both had good intentions but went about everything all wrong...
Throughout high school, Dorothy spent much of her time reading books in which the female lead often had a man very much in love with her, however, these men were often rejected, usually due to principle or social norm and expectation. She had also heard the speculation of how Jane Austen’s works were inspired by her own lost love, denied to both of them due to her love’s marriage arrangement. To many around them, it didn't matter how in love the two individuals in question were. Money and status took presidence.
For Dorothy, this also raised the question of how long one could go denying his or her heart, denying him or herself and the one loved out of fear and peer pressure. Similar fears nearly cost Dorothy her chance with Carl. Fear and anger caused her to break up with him, and even after agreeing to give him a second chance, fear maintained its grip on her. She feared that he would one day abandon her as he had Juliette Sims, whom he went with during their freshman year of high school. Juliette was also the first girl he was romantically intimate with. At the start of their sophomore year - and shortly before the 1929 stock market crash - Juliette had gone to him in a state of panic. She was 'in trouble.'
A scared Carl had cowered, denying anything to do with the situation, even accusing her of running around on him. Shortly thereafter, the Sims moved out of town and many assumed that it was due to Black Tuesday. Only Carl knew the ugly truth which had also taken a very sinister turn.
Over the year following, Carl put on a happy-go-lucky exterior, running around with several girls (including a twenty-year-old erotic model named Veronica, who was also a regular at the seedy, underground speakeasies), but what happened to Juliette never strayed far from him. A few months after the Sims moved out of Plains, he received a cryptic note simply stating that the situation with Juliette ‘had been taken care of.’ Two weeks after that, he received an article clipping of her obituary. The clipping said nothing of a child and the whereabouts of the baby remained unknown.
Carl confessed all of this to Dorothy, awaking a fury within her that resulted in breaking things off with him and demanding that he never speak to her again. But when all was said and done, her feelings for him won over all fear and apprehensiveness; she agreed to give him and their relationship another chance.
At first she struggled with accepting this part of him and at times she doubted her ability to do so. But eventually, she came to understand who he was, along with the fears and regrets that held him captive. She learned to love and accept all of him, a decision that she ended up never regretting. What if my great-grandparents allowed fear to dictate their lives?
To Dorothy, the love story of Jonathan and Kimimela Blake was far greater than anything Shakespeare, the Brontes, or Austen could ever put to paper. To her, they were a perfect example of individuals from different worlds who took great risks to be with the one loved. Quite often, she visited their graves in the far corner of the Illinois Blake property purchased by Jonathan’s father, Charles Blake in the mid-nineteenth century. While she heard the stories from those that knew Jonathan and Kimimela, she wished so much to speak with them directly and hear the experiences in their own words. Reading excerpts from Jonathan's journal only fueled her longing to travel back in time and perhaps get some advice. God knows I need it now...
Her eyes moved toward the distant cave that housed a time portal. She was tempted greatly by the thought but forced herself to turn away, trying to bear in mind that doing such a thing was prohibited. Instead, she returned her gaze to the beautiful terrain that was the shifting island.
The island was always shifting, always moving and bringing individuals to where they needed to be. It was this island that had brought a young Hector de Fuentes to his cave during the earlier part of the nineteenth century. It was Hector’s cave that took Dorothy and her friends to where they needed to be over a year ago, appearing to the group of six and bringing them together for a final time before the friends would be separated, worlds apart. In recent months, she learned more of who Hector de Fuentes was. As the grandson of wealthy Spanish colonist Ernesto de Fuentes and his wife Hortencia, Hector was born in nineteenth century Mexico into a world of privilege, a lifestyle he never quite fit in to. He was a loner, a reader, a thinker, and being in the cave allowed him to be such a person. The lad also had mystical abilities and intuition, all of which were enhanced during his frequent visits to the cave.
For a long time, Hector was the only one who knew of this cave. Then one evening during his fourteenth year, the cave brought him a new and slight unlikely friend, Samuel Livingston of New York City.
Samuel was the second son born to prominent American figure, James Livingston, and his wife Samantha. James was a descendant of Robert Livingston the Elder, the first of his bloodline to leave Scotland for a life in America. Livingston the Elder had gained his wealth in the fur trade, and his descendants were among the founding fathers of the country. James followed in the footsteps of the founders and helped with establishing the town of Plains in the early 1830s.
Throughout their married life, James and Samantha Livingston had three sons. Eldest, Jesse, had been the most pragmatic of the three and very much like his father. Lawrence, the youngest, held a longtime interest in the supernatural, the occult, and theories of how other worlds could exist well beyond the one that humans knew. As the middle child, Samuel was stuck somewhere in – well - the middle. He was a young man who shared his father's love of literature and could often be seen reading a book.
One night after dinner, fifteen-year-old Samuel ventured out to the backyard, carrying his copy of Thomas More’s Utopia. The summer solstice of 1843 had just passed, and the celestial bodies glowed brightly amidst a black canvas. While he hardly wanted to admit such a thing out loud, there was something stirring within the air, something almost magical. And a young Samuel would soon find out what that was.
As the boy made his way toward the guest house (the small house in which the Blake family had lived for five years while Charles Blake saved money for land near the Iowa Territory), he noticed what appeared to be a strange mist near a patch of trees. The mist also had a weird blue light woven throughout, which was enough to draw the young man forward. As he slowly approached, the mist moved, seeming to dance and have a life of its own. The closer he got, the more it undulated, as if having arms to beckon. In that moment, Samuel started hearing what sounded like thrashing, churning waves.
The young man frowned. While he and his family lived relatively close to the ocean, something about the sound of these waves told him that they were not of the waters at the edge of his homeland. This night also boasted calm weather, hardly enough for producing such currents. What also left Samuel stricken was how close these waves seemed to be. Almost as though he were standing right at the foot of a restless ocean. He was unsure of whether it would be a good idea to investigate further. Part of him wanted to run back to the house, but before he could make any sort of decision, the mist suddenly surrounded him, pulling the lad into its web.
There was a strangeness in the air as he was propelled forward through what seemed to be a tunnel. To his relief, the mist and sensation of floating quickly ceased, but when the fog lifted, he was not anywhere near his New York home.
The young man looked around, seeing the magnificent rock formations of a cavern's interior. His body was shaking as he clutched his book, searching for a way out. Finally, he came to what appeared to be an opening, but he only stepped into yet another part of the cave.
Disappointment and anxiety arose, but was quelled a little when he happened upon another young man his age. One who looked much different than he and spoke well-learned but slightly broken English.
Being fluent in a few different languages, including this other young man's native Spanish, Samuel was able to speak to him and learn that his name was Hector.
Hector seemed quite familiar with the cave and helped Samuel in finding his way back home. In that moment, a connection between the two boys was formed, bonding them as lifelong friends.
What left the Livingston boy stricken was just how much Hector seemed to belong to the cave, and how the cave seemed to belong to him (as though Hector himself may not even be part of this Earth...). It was a cave that transcended space and time.
Shortly after this very cave brought Dorothy to the vale, she started her studies with Winifred, a woman of African descent who was born during the earlier part of the seventeenth century (despite appearing no older than someone in her early fifties). At first, Dorothy couldn't help feeling slight resentment toward the woman. While she knew that Winifred was not to blame for all that was happening, maintaining control over her anger toward everything and everyone proved difficult in the beginning. During that time, Carl was her solace. She also had Linda to lean on, but her friend was facing obstacles of her own.
Soon, Dorothy was learning of how Winifred had known the Blake family during the nineteenth century, and that Winifred's daughter, Rebekah had assisted in driving out the demon that tried consuming Kimimela.
As Dorothy came to accept the reality she had been dealt, the young woman came to recognize that listening to and cooperating with Winifred, her son Daniel, and daughter Rebekah was crucial. (especially after learning of how Winifred had lost her husband...)
Dorothy’s steps came to an abrupt halt upon her noticing that she was now in front of Jeremiah's gravesite and monument. It was often stated around the vale and within the Sanctuary that his spirit remained active after his gruesome and tragic death, continuing to guard the island and its portals.
She shuddered, recalling the details told to her by one of the Sanctuary elders of how Jeremiah was killed. During an exorcism, a demon had sliced open his throat. He managed to survive a few days before succumbing to the fatal wounds endured.
Despite Winifred's strong, solid exterior, it was apparent that she still struggled with her husband's death, even thirty years after it happened. And once Dorothy's training was complete, she would be among those taking Jeremiah's place.
Threatening tears stung her eyes as she recalled how devastated Carl was when this was revealed to him. He became angry, belligerent, and all she could do was stand there at a loss for how to respond to him. How could she tell him that everything would be all right when it wouldn't be, or tell him to stay calm when she knew that, had their roles been reversed, she would very likely have reacted the same way?
She averted her gaze from the grand monument dedicated to Jeremiah, his life, and centuries of service to all that was good. Instead she tried losing herself in the memory of her first date with Carl, which had been a double date with their friends Jimmy and Linda at the Hollywood Cinema. At that time, the events leading up to this moment were starting to slowly unravel, but even looking back on how complicated it all had been, it seemed almost trivial compared with what was taking place now. During high school, she had a secret crush on Carl and was thrilled when he expressed interest in going steady with her. Now, it seemed like ages ago now and in addition to everything the couple had gone through to stay together, she was still trying to locate his child had with Juliette Sims.
The first time Carl and Dorothy returned to their native world for a short while following the winter solstice, one of their stops had been at Juliette's gravesite. Dorothy watched the man she loved let go of the burden he carried with him, and tried to be a source of comfort and support, holding on to him as they stood in front of his former steady’s tombstone. The stone was simple, as was the epitaph written to her:

Juliette Imogene Sims

After they were finished there, Dorothy vanished them from the cemetery and the couple arrived at the Blake property where they were married (one of the elders from the Sanctuary appeared briefly to officiate).
The two had celebrated their first year married this passed Christmas, and happy as that made her, she never imagined that by being married they would be considered heretics by some in her family, particularly those on her mother’s side. Such discoveries made Dorothy feel as though she were living in the Dark Ages instead of the twentieth century. Though there is more to all that history than what I was always taught...and probably even more that I still have yet to find out...
Carl had chosen chose to stay with Dorothy following the devastating events of two Novembers ago, and they consummated their union while still unmarried. After that, he wanted to be with her every night, but Dorothy ended up deciding that she would prefer being married before they started being together regularly. Such resistance was difficult for both, and there was one night when they almost gave in. But the couple did manage to hold off until their wedding day.
After the wedding, the Blake family provided money for a decent motel. Despite the risks (and the pained look in her father's eyes at the thought of his daughter being alone in a motel room with a young man), the couple wanted just one night together in which they could have some form of normalcy and no amount of warnings could deter them. If they were to somehow be discovered and executed, they wanted to leave the world together.
As the two entered the hotel room, Dorothy was smuggling in two daggers inside her suitcase (just in case we should need them). Other than that, it was amazing how wonderfully familiar everything felt for both. How wonderfully normal...
After shutting the door behind them and locking it, Carl switched on the small radio that was sitting on a rather cheap end table. The sounds of a crooning Rudy Vallee filled the room.
Dorothy smiled, thinking of how she never thought she would feel so much relief and comfort in hearing Vallee's voice...

...As the soft music played, Carl approached her with nothing but love in his eyes. “May I have this dance?” he asked.
Dorothy nodded before taking his hand and relaxing against him. Her heart pounded against his chest, and he slowly leaned in for a kiss. As their lips met, she let out a soft moan and before long, his lips were moving over her jawline, down to the base of her neck.
The music continued, as the couple moved fluidly toward the bed. Carl started undoing the buttons on her dress, sliding it down her shoulders, causing her body to shudder. She was no longer a virgin, but the nerves she felt were synonymous with one experiencing sexual intimacy for the first time.
When the two parted, she stepped back, watching his gaze on her as she removed her slip, revealing her white brassiere and panties. His breath hitched, and his eyes where filled with desperate wanting.
Stepping toward her, he whispered, "Turn around."
When she did, he slowly and steadily unhooked the brassiere clasps. Her throat let out a small, shaky gasp, feeling the air hit her breasts as the undergarment fell to the floor. He brought his hands to her waist, causing her breath to quicken. His lips moved through the long waves of her dark hair, over her shoulder and down her upper arm as he knelt to remove her shoes and stockings. A small whimper left her upon realizing her near nakedness. Standing in nothing but her panties, she could feel him rise to standing.
“Baby,” he said, “are you all right?”
She inhaled. “Nervous...actually. I know we did this not too long ago, scars...” A shudder escaped down her body as the memory of her attacks assaulted her.
His fingers gently touched her shoulders. “Honey, I'm here. I've seen your scars too and they don't change how I feel about you.” He paused before asking, “Can you turn around and look at me?"
Dorothy hesitated and then turned, revealing herself to her husband as if doing so for the first time. His breath caught at the site of her before he unbuttoned his shirt, removing and dropping it to the floor. She stepped forward, taking hold of his undershirt and removing it to reveal his bare chest. Carl's hands enclosed hers, bringing her small, thin fingers to his lips. Their eyes met for a moment before he brought her palms to his heart. Her own raced, feeling the muscle definition and blood rushing beneath his skin. In that moment, she wanted nothing more than to explore him, to truly know what made his body feel pleasure.
Their lips met again, each one's hunger deepening as he enfolded her into his arms. After holding her for a few moments, his hands came to cup her breasts, lightly massaging them, feeling her nipples peak against his palms. Their lips parted and her head tilting back as she whispered his name.
Carl smiled, scooping her up and lowering her to the bed. She allowed him to remove her panties, his fingers teasing her as they brushed the patch of dark hair at her center. Then he stood in front of her and removed the rest of his clothing.
Her teeth raked over her bottom lip as her eyes traveled his lean, muscular form, seeing his arousal. Wanting filled her as butterflies fluttered throughout her stomach.
“Do you mind if I... lead a little?” she asked, slightly surprising herself with her forthrightness.
His eyes widened for a moment before his features softened. “Of course.” Then that sly smile she loved so much crossed his lips. “Do whatever you want to me.”
As he sat down on the bed, she moved over, allowing him room to lie back. Slowly, she brought her knees to kneel on both sides of him. Their gazes locked as she ran her hands up his stomach. He held on to her narrow waist and the small of her back as her lips touched his neck. She could feel his throat letting out a sigh as her mouth moved down his torso. When she reached the small indentation where muscle and rib cage met, just below his left pectoral, his body tensed and arched slightly.
Feeling an intoxicating surge of power, she brought her eyes back to meet his. “Sensitive there?” she said, her tone playful.
He smiled and chuckled slightly. “Just a little.”
She rose to sit upright. “That didn't seem like just a little.”
His eyes softened but his hunger for her remained evident. He reached up, cupping her chin with his hand. “Come here, honey.”
Her heart pounded as she obliged, bringing herself down to join their lips until she was lying on top of him, their forms moving together as the soft, romantic music filled the room. She allowed him to roll her onto her back before he positioned himself on top of her, taking over where she had left off on him.
Fully aroused, he seemed ready to enter her for the first time as her husband, but paused suddenly.
“What is it?” she asked, already breathless.
He looked away and then back at her again. “Um...I was wondering wouldn't mind lying on your stomach.”
Dorothy swallowed, her heart flipping before she finally nodded and did as he suggested. She could feel his lips on her shoulders, shuddering as his mouth moved down her back. The bed shifted slightly as he rose to his knees.
“Sweetheart,” he said, his hands resting on her hips, implying that he wanted to coax them up. Her breath hitched, but she allowed him to carefully bring them up.
He reached over, grabbing a pillow and placing it beneath her hips. “Is that comfortable enough for you?”
Her mind raced; being in this position made her feel slightly ridiculous and very exposed. But his touch helped her to relax. This was her husband, the man she would trust her life to (and give my life for).
Finally, she uttered, “Yes...” She could feel his tip at her entrance.
As he slowly entered her, a pleasured cry escaped her throat. He had almost completed his entrance when he pulled back and then swiftly moved forward again, fully plunging into her. She let out a cry and he remained still for a moment. This felt amazing to her, and trying out this new position with him thrilled her.
He asked once again if she was all right, and she started to reply when a familiar voice from the back of her mind whispered, 'You know this means he's done this before.'
Dorothy pushed away the menacing thought. Carl was her husband, not Bernice's, Veronica's, or any of his other previous flames.
“Honey...” His hand touched the small of her back.
“I'm fine,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “I'm great, actually.”
After another brief pause, his hips started to thrust at a slow, gentle pace that gradually became more rapid.
Wonderful as this was, the horrific events of not too long ago were suddenly flashing before her, making her desperately want to see him, to hold him. She let out a sob, crying out something about him being too far from her.
Carl immediately obliged, carefully pulling out and allowing her to turn onto her back. After he re-entered, their eyes met and his lower region seemed to have a mind of its own. The two were lost in a world that was only theirs, paying no mind to their level of volume (or if there was anyone on the other side of the wall that the headboard smacked rhythmically against). If someone wanted to phone the police on a morals claim, let them. They were married and could prove it.
As the two approached a climax, she grasped his shoulders, digging her nails into his flesh. His thrusts increased in speed, becoming rather clumsy, but neither of them cared...

...A lone tear escaped down the side of her face as she remembered how harsh the morning after arrived, snapping them back to an unbelievable reality and bringing their beautiful euphoria to an end. What she never told anyone was that after a tired and well-spent Carl fell into sleep, she stayed awake for a while longer and watched him. She also managed to cheat a little, using her newfound abilities to freeze time. This didn't last terribly long, as she had been warned that there was great risk in doing so for too long. But it was long enough for her to be able to hold him and allow her tears to flow as she longed for the two of them to be able to have what she always perceived as a normal married life. And ever since that night when she set fire to Constantin, his presence (and fury) in her dreams seemed to strengthen with each passing night. The man that Mom was supposed to marry before she ran away with Dad…
Constantin Serban Alexandru was the great-grandson of the ancient Nephilim-human hybrid, Gavril of Serban. Both were also related to Anton Constantin Gavril Alexandru III, a Wallachian slave owner who had been especially vile toward his Romany slaves. One slave in particular was a young man called Nicolae Ganoush, who was – in the last year - found out to be Jimmy Kratz's biological great-grandfather.
Gavril had been present and influencial behind the scenes throughout many events in human history and took great pleasure in where he saw the current world heading. And while Constantin was quite handsome at nearly 400-years-old, he was just as vile as any of his relatives. His ominous presence now loomed from somewhere in the distance and Dorothy could feel him watching, waiting for the right time to claim her as his own. It was also after a rather intense and horrifying dream about him that Dorothy miscarried her and Carl's first child together, a little girl named Skye. She also had yet to share this detail concerning her miscarriage with Carl, along with her now confirmed pregnancy. In addition to all else, she was informed earlier by Council that she would be sent to another realm to give birth before resuming training. She could still proceed with her studies as the child grew inside her, but combat would temporarily cease. It came down to preparation for a very uncertain future. To cope with it all, she held onto fantasies of her and Carl living in a normal house and having a normal life. What should have been...
Closing her eyes once more, she imagined such a scenario, only to be jolted by a certain vengeful and piercing gaze.
A gasp escaped her mouth as her eyes flew open. Suddenly, she sensed a second presence from somewhere nearby. She glanced around, slowly withdrawing two daggers from the sheaths on her belt. If Constantin had somehow returned and found her, it didn't matter her current condition, she was ready to fight. Fight for herself, her husband, and their unborn little one.
She moved quickly, crouching behind a standing stone, holding her breath and waiting as a shadowed figure emerged from the mist. Drawing in a breath and steeling herself, she leaped out, thrusting out the blades of her daggers.
The startled figure shouted, jumping backward, causing her to abruptly halt.
Her husband's shocked hazel-green eyes stared back at her, blinking as his gaze shifted toward the blades she held.
Lowering her weapons and catching her breath, she asked, "What are you doing? You're not supposed to be here." The words came out more forceful than she meant for them to.
His eyes snapped back to meet hers, regret and resentment evident in his. After a tense silence, he said, "I wanted to see where my wife was going and by herself, it turns out, which you avoided telling me. After being married for over a year, I would like to think we would be passed keeping secrets from each other but I guess I was wrong. Sorry for being such an inconvenience."
Dorothy's heart pounded as she watched him turn to leave. "Sweetheart, wait!" She grabbed his elbow. "I'm sorry. Please don't go."
He ceased his steps, swallowing before turning back to face her and gesturing toward the weapons in her hand. "Who were you expecting just now? And why didn't you tell me that you were coming here by yourself?”
Dorothy opened her mouth to reply, but no words came out.
Carl raised an eyebrow, nodded and looked away. After another tense silence, he asked, "When were you planning on telling me?"
She recoiled. "About what?" she said, knowing how lame it sounded.
"Everything." He paused, as if trying to decide whether proceeding was a good idea. Finally, he said, "You're pregnant again. Aren't you." It was more of a statement then a question.
Dorothy's hand instinctively went to her stomach as shame filled her. She braced herself, inhaled deeply, and nodded, her eyes lowering. When she peered back up at her husband, his darkened expression nearly tore her apart. Her throat swelled and she barely managed to whisper, "Yes..."
Two tears escaped down her face as she brought a hand to cover her eyes. She could feel the burning intensity of Carl's gaze as the two of them stood in the middle of the misty island. Finally, he brought his hands to her shoulders and pulled her close to him. She broke down to sobbing as he embraced her, holding her tightly.
The couple remained that way for a while and in those moments, all she knew was the comfort of being in his arms.
“I’m sorry,” she softly uttered.
She felt him sigh, his voice soothing as he replied. "Oh, honey...I'm sorry too. I acted like a jackass. It's just..." He pulled back, holding her at an arm's length. "You're my wife and I feel so distant from you. Besides, you think I can share a bed with you and not notice changes in your body? And why are you here by yourself? I thought Rebekah was going with you to...where you needed to go.”
“She was,” Dorothy said. “But it's time for me to start doing some of these things on my own. Part of that includes keeping watch here at the island.”
He started to protest when she cut in:
“Only for one night out of a month. We all do this in shifts. And if any trouble arises, the others will always know when to come.”
Carl's expression was unreadable. She could feel the melange of emotions swimming throughout his being before he finally said, “I'm scared for you. After we lost Skye and how they're also after Meredith..."
Dorothy looked into eyes that reflected a troubled soul. She drew in a breath. "I know. There is a lot of concern for the safety of our child. Especially at Council and within the Sanctuary. That is why...they...the elders...told me that I would have to leave the Vale.”
“Only until after the child is born and I am able to resume weaponry training.”
“Well...after what happened with Skye, there are too many risks in me staying to have the baby. Even where we are now."
Carl frowned and shook his head. "Where will they send you?"
"I don't know yet. I actually won't know until after I'm taken there."
"And what about us? Am I just supposed to just stay here by myself?"
Dorothy was silent, at a complete loss for how to respond.
He let out an exasperated sigh. "I can't handle that. Being away from you and not knowing where you are or if you and the baby are okay. And not being there when the baby is born on top of it all. I don't understand...why would they have to send you away? I thought where we're at now was safe enough!"
Dorothy welled up all over again. "Oh, Carl...there are so many times I think about us and how much better off you would be without me. The truth is one is entirely sure...but I might not have killed Constantin.”
“But you set him on fire. You can't kill someone much more than that.”
“But we’re also not dealing with humans. I feel his presence, especially after I go to sleep. It's as though he's lying in wait..." She drew in a jagged breath. "Just before I miscarried Skye, I had a dream about him. A very vivid one that I think had everything to do with her death. In fact, just now...when I jumped out at you a little bit ago, I was afraid that you might be him..." Her voice trailed off, a wide range of emotions swirling throughout her core. "I was not about to let him take me...or the baby..."
Carl's jaw tensed, his eyes ablaze with fury. "If Constantin is alive, I'll go after him myself. You know I've started training with Marcelo."
"Carl, no! You might be killed."
"Well you're the one being sent out to risk your life and now possibly have some four hundred-year-old lunatic stalking you. And I feel like I can’t protect you. I'm sorry…but I like to think I can protect the woman I love and that she trusts me enough to tell me about what's going on with her. Even if it's something I may not necessarily want to hear."
Eerie silence engulfed the island as the couple stood with their gazes locked to one another.
Slowly, Dorothy reached out to him as more sobs welled up in her throat. "Sweetheart, please forgive me. I know I shouldn't keep such things from you. You're right. You're my husband and my loyalty should be to you first and foremost. And I haven't been doing that."
Carl regarded his broken down, tear-stained wife before passionately wrapping his arms around her. "Honey...please know that no matter what, I love you. Only you. Please never forget that." The two held on to each other for a moment before he said, "So do you know what we're having? A boy or a girl?" He smiled slightly and looked down at her. “Maybe we can tell Jim and Linda what kind of playmate Meredith will have."
Dorothy dried her eyes and shook her head. "It's still too early. Maybe in another month."
His hands slid to her elbows before he pulled back. "Listen, I promised in our wedding vows to care for you, and I will. It's not fair for you to have to go through all of this alone."
"It's what I have to do."
"I wish it weren't!"
"Carl, every day I wish that we could have had a normal life together. But that can never be."
His grasp on her tightened. "Yes, it will. One day this mess will all be over and I promise you, I'll get us a nice place. Close to one of our families."
Despite knowing better, the couple lived in that fantasy for a moment as he refused to let his wife go. Then when he couldn't take it any longer, he grasped the back of her head, tilted it back and passionately claimed her lips. Immediately, she fell into him.
As their kiss intensified, he brought a hand to gently cup her breast.
She tensed. "Carl, I can't."
“Honey...please don't turn me away.”
She paused, looking at her husband for a moment as she recalled Aunt Roxanne's note and the vase that had been broken during one of her attacks. The vase that Carl had painstakingly glued back together.
“I'm not. It's just that now I have a job to do here. But if you want to wait for me back at home...” The last words felt strange coming out. For as long as she had been living here, she still had a hard time thinking of the vale and chateau as 'home.'
“No, I’m staying here with you.”
“You can't. It's too dangerous.”
“Please have a little confidence in me. I can handle a lot more than you think.”
Dorothy paused, seeing the hurt in her husband's eyes. “I know you can. I know you've been doing well in weaponry training. But you could be killed much easier than me. Council would tell you the same thing.”
“But we're in this together. As for Council, I'll take any responsibility for tonight. Just please let me stay with you.”
Dorothy bit her lip; those at Council would very likely let him off with a warning to hold off until he had advanced further in his combat training. And with Jimmy starting to ascend to a higher position, they didn’t have too much to worry about.
Drawing in a breath, she nodded.
The two regarded one another for a moment before their hands joined.
For the remainder of that time on the island, the young couple walked the grounds, silent in words but very much alive in the stirring of their souls and beating of their hearts. The sky above was far different than any night sky they had seen while growing up. Both recalled their first dates and that first time Carl had kissed her beneath a lamp post on a beautiful autumn evening. Dorothy remembered that night, and how all time seemed to stop as the moon shone down on them while they walked a moonlit path back to her house. Then there was the Harvest Moon Dance where it all started to unravel (and how those events caused her to break up with him). The two recalled all they had been through since that first date at the cinema with Jimmy and Linda and how far they had come.
Carl held onto his wife and never let her out of his site as she kept watch at each of the portals. The celestial bodies above created some of the most beautiful stardust. It was all amazing to behold, and there were a few moments when Carl thought he could see images of the other worlds, other times within some of the portals. There was so much he still didn't know, so much that both didn't.
Finally, the sky started turning a slight, pink tint.
Carl glanced up. “What's going on?”
“That's indicating sunrise on the island.”
“Your shift is over?”
Dorothy nodded.
The eyes of the couple met, both with understanding of what the other wanted.
“Where should we go?” he asked.
Dorothy thought for a moment. "There is a glade nearby. It's shielded and protected. We'll be safe there.” Her hand moved down the right side of his face. “I would never turn you away."
Their eyes locked as she took his hand and led him into a small patch of brush (one bearing striking resemblance to the cluster of trees that Jimmy's great grandfather Nicolae once escaped to with his first wife and true love, Eloisa).
As the couple entered, Carl removed the belt that held her weapons. "I just want you to be my wife now."
Dorothy nodded as she unbuttoned her blouse, seeing his features shift to being appreciative and anticipating.
The material slid down her shoulders, falling to the ground and revealing her brassiere. He stepped toward her, reaching around to unhook the undergarment so that it could join the blouse. The changes in her body were evident, and his heart swelled as he started caressing her skin, his fingers trailing the scar at the middle of her chest, one of three that served as a reminder of her attacks.
A soft moan escaped her throat as his mouth started traveling over her upper body, his fingers unbuttoning her trousers and sliding them down along with her panties until all she wore were her lace up boots.
He stood back and looked her over, the corners of his lips turning up. “You look so incredibly sexy like that.”
She couldn't help smiling. “I take it you would like to see me like this more often?”
“Actually, I might make a rule that anytime my wife enters our bed chambers, she must discard all clothing except for her lace-up boots.”
She giggled and lifted his shirt over his head.
Before long, the couple was lying on the ground together with her beneath him. His mouth stimulated her body, pausing to place sweet kisses on the small of her stomach where their baby grew. Her eyes opened, watching as he continued down until his tongue entered her, feverishly working to bring her to an ecstatic euphoria, which he did.
When his head rose, his lips were glistening. He brought a hand to wipe his mouth and returned to lay beside her.
After catching her breath, Dorothy started light but hungry kisses over his neck and collar bone. As her mouth roamed his chest, she gave attention to that area where he was most sensitive. He responded enthusiastically and pulled his wife on top of him, undoing his pants to allow his arousal free.
Their gazes were locked as she stroked his length, letting out a cry when he inserted his fingers. He felt her wetness, and helped her to lift before lowering her onto him, filling her completely. Grasping her behind, he reacted amorously to her pulsing on top of him.
Their climaxes were near and before long, heavy emotions overcame the couple. At the end of it all, both were left with tear stained faces.
As their breaths slowed, the two stared at one another, both unable to move. They were paralyzed by that moment, by their love and the reality of the situation.
For a second, Dorothy thought she saw a shift in her husband's eyes. Not one of malice, but one that did make her pause and flinch slightly. A shift that allowed her a vision of a scene beneath the ocean's surface. Then the image disappeared as quickly as it arrived.
Her breath caught once more as Carl touched the side of her face. "I love you, Dorothy," he said, his voice shaking.
She blinked back the hot tears that threatened to spill. "I love you too, Carl. Only you. There has never been anyone else."
“Never leave me.”
Those last words from him caught her with a disconcerting feeling she could not explain, but she allowed herself to relax so her husband could bring her to lay on top of him, his arms enfolding her.
It was not long before sleep started overcoming the couple. Both wished to be back in their bedroom at the chateau, which, with her newfound abilities, Dorothy was able to make happen.
With a simple, mental wish, the two were in their bed, lying together and intertwined beneath the sheets.
Before he drifted into sleep, Carl whispered, "One day, I will take you from here. From all of this..." There’s got to be a way...


As Dorothy slept, she found herself inside a beautiful forest patch surrounded by a lake. It was a clear, sunny day as she played a game of chase with a small child. She did not see the child’s features. Only dark red hair and piercing emerald eyes.


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Paperback copies of Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) are available for the low price of $17.00 at my Official Website

My store and product line, Antiquity & Illusion is now available online at my website's store and at Storevny. If your a first time visitor, enter the coupon code, ANTIQUITY for 15% off of your entire first order. Note that this discount is only available at the website store. I will be setting something up for the Storenvy site very soon. :)

My music projects are available at CDBaby
My filmwork is on IMDb
"The Birthrite Series" and other books at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
 My books and music are also on Amazon and iTunes
Tiffany on Goodreads

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