Authors: Kathrine Emrick
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #90 Minutes (44-64 Pages)
"Hey Dera, are you there?" A sweet melodious voice shouted from behind her stall. It was her best friend Meaghan.
She poked her head around, "I'm here Meaghan, busy on my Ipad, come on round." Dera immediately sensed the heavy sadness coming from her. "Meaghan whatever's the matter?" she patted the seat beside her and her friend sank into it. "Meaghan? Talk to me, will you."
"What is wrong with me, Dera?"
Dera was alarmed by the question. "Why, nothing as far as I know." She put a brief hand on her friends arm to see if she could sense any illness, there was nothing except a deep abiding grief.
"You're my friend, you're bound to say something like that. But I'm telling you there is something wrong with me."
Meaghan could be overly dramatic at times but there was an edge of despair which was strange in the usually bubbly woman. "What's happened?" Dera asked softly.
"Yesterday was our anniversary and I decided to surprise Owen so I stopped by his apartment. Instead, I was the one surprised." Meaghan's face crumpled, "I found him with this girl and they were both going at it. He said she was a tourist he'd picked up from the local pub, that it didn't mean anything." She was openly sobbing now. "How could it not mean anything? How could he just betray me…throw away everything we've built and say it meant nothing?"
Dera could feel the waves of anguish coming off her friend and her heart broke for her. She pulled her into her arms and they held on tightly to each other. Whilst Meaghan sobbed her heart out, she chanted a quick healing spell. It wasn't much, but at least it would take the edge off her pain. She also blew invisible healing circles around Meaghan's head which was by now resting on her shoulders. Chanting and blowing a couple of times more she opened her eyes to see if the pain had dissipated from her friends face. She did look calmer thank goodness.
Dera raised her gaze to check they were still alone and found herself staring into a pair of the blackest eyes she'd ever seen. She felt her toes tingle as she looked at the stranger sitting on a park bench several yards away. He was one of the most handsome men she'd ever seen, if not the most handsome. Dark flashing black eyes, a head of thick curly black hair she itched to brush her fingers through, and the face of a fallen angel. She could tell he was tall even though he was sitting down; she had a weakness for tall dark and handsome strangers. Even from this distance she could tell he had a fabulous physique, in fact she thought he looked like a warrior of old; a real Welsh warrior.
She could feel his intense stare all the way through her body, she shivered and dragged her attention back to Meaghan; good she was much calmer. Dera stood and quickly mixed a calming tea. "Here," she placed the mixture in her friend's hands. "Go home and infuse a spoonful of this in boiling water for ten minutes before you drink it then go to bed, it will help you sleep, I bet you didn't get a wink last night."
Meaghan nodded, "You're right, I'm exhausted." She hugged her friend fiercely. "You're such a good friend Dera, I don't know what I'd do without you."
Dera patted her hand, "You've been there for me Cariad, and it's what friends are for." She hoped she'd see sense and kick Owen Brooks out of her life. He was bad news; she'd been waiting for something like this to happen for months.
Hawk had noticed the beautiful petite woman that morning whilst she was eating and hadn't been able to take his eyes off her. There was an aura of serenity around her that he thought couldn't possibly be completely human. If he still had them, he would have bet his magical powers she had a trace of Fae blood in her.
He'd come to the market place seeking help for the curse he'd been put under by Isolde but had found himself getting distracted by the woman. He hadn't been able to take his eyes off her all morning, she fascinated him. Then he'd seen her cast a spell of healing on the woman she'd been comforting and he'd known instantly that she was the one he'd been sent to find. He couldn't believe his luck. He'd assumed Dera Lloyd of Carog would be some old hag, nothing like this stunning beauty.
When she'd turned and locked her cornflower blue eyes with his, he'd felt a bolt of desire go through him. The air between them had almost seemed to shimmer and he'd been instantly attracted to her. He'd also seen the spark of desire in her eyes as she'd considered him and he'd realized she was fascinated by him. Not like that surprised him; he was yet to see a female, otherworlder or mortal who didn't feel some form of attraction for him, especially when he wanted her.
This was going to be easier than he'd first thought. He felt satisfaction course through him at the knowledge. He needed this particular mortal to help him break the spell Queen Isolde had placed on him. He desperately needed to regain his magical powers so he could access the Fae world. Geraint had no idea where he was, he'd be frantic by now. Isolde had muttered her curse and here he'd found himself; stuck on Earth and he was fairly sure Isolde wouldn't bother telling the King where he was either. Maybe it was time for Geraint to let Isolde into their plans after all. It was getting very old that she thought he was a useless lay about.
Hmm... there was one woman who was immune to his charms after all. He'd tried everything he could think of to get Isolde to forgive him to no avail. He'd been banished and stripped of his powers before he could even blink. Isolde was probably the only female he knew whom he couldn't beguile.
He sighed; he now had to think up a reason to meet the beautiful Dera so he withdrew to think up his strategy.
Dera had lowered her eyes to concentrate on Meaghan; she whispered another healing spell and kissed her on her cheek. "Go now." She commanded, "Drink your tea and then sleep, you'll feel much better when you awaken."
After Meaghan had left she raised her eyes again looking for the dark stranger, and wondered at the sharp feeling of disappointment when she realized he'd disappeared. Feeling a bit out of sorts she decided to call it a day and drive over to see her sister Gwenna for a chat, she needed her company and sales had been excellent today. She could afford to shut up her stall early.
Dera pushed open the door to her youngest sister's studio and looked around with a delighted sigh. She always loved coming into Gwenna's studio whenever she had a spare moment; the place was so posh yet really comfortable. She spent a few minutes gazing at the photographs that lined the wall, looking from the pictures of the absolutely adorable babies, to the landscapes; when her eyes caught sight of a particular picture. She moved closer to study it.
It was a scene from a party in the woods and it had captured the joy and thrill of some Fae dancers. It had an ethereal quality to it and was really very good. Obviously mortals wouldn't realize they were Fae, but she could tell straight away. She frowned slightly to herself; the Fae were only allowed to enter the earth realm on very rare occasions which was one of the reasons they rarely saw their mother and the rest of their family; so how had Gwenna managed to photograph these?
She turned to see her sister and was quickly enveloped in a tight hug. "How are you Cariad?" Dera asked gently.
"Oh I'm fine, just missing my other favorite sister." She said with a delighted laugh. "Come on to the office at the back, I was just about to have some tea." With that Dera was pulled into the back office.
She smiled fondly at her sister. If there was one thing about Gwenna, it was her boundless energy; her enthusiasm for life was very contagious.
As they sat sipping their tea, Dera nibbled on one of the biscuits that accompanied the tea and looked hard at her sister. "I saw the new picture out front."
Gwenna put down her cup and stirred restlessly, "It is beautiful, isn't it?" Her green eyes sparkled in delight. "I managed a quick visit over to Aberlone. Mother arranged it with our grandmother on the spur of the moment. I was only there for a couple of hours, it was wonderful seeing mother and grandmother again. Grandfather was away. Mother said she's going to contact you very shortly to go and visit them."
Then she sighed and her glistening auburn curls seemed to sigh with her. "It had been so long otherwise since we'd had any sort of interaction with the Fae, I kept wondering what was happening on the other side."
"Well, mother kept us away from all that for a reason, I just wish we saw her and our grandparents more often. But anyway, that's not why I brought up the photo." She set down her cup of coffee, "Booking studio sessions and taking pictures of babies and school children is fine, but you need to get your work in a gallery."
Gwenna stood and went to refill her cup. Where she stood, the light caught her hair and not for the first time, Dera envied her sister. While she had silky, golden blond hair, Gwenna's hair was a burnished dark red with golden highlights and contained almost every color in-between; their mother called it the color of autumn. It fell in riotous curls past her shoulders. She knew if she mentioned it, Gwenna would laugh and ask her if she wanted her freckles in exchange for the hair; it was a long-standing joke between them.
"I don't think I'm good enough."
Gwenna's voice brought her out of her reverie. "You know that's not true. What are you afraid of?" A slight frown marred Gwenna's flawless Celtic skin.
"What if no one buys them, Dera? And those art critics can be so cruel…"
That was one thing she couldn't understand. Of the three of the sisters, Gwenna was the more fearless one. She was the one who would go in with her fists swinging and she took no prisoners, which was why this lack of confidence where her art was concerned was difficult for Dera to understand. So she didn't try, she stood up and walked to where her sister was standing and wrapped her arms around her. "If they buy my herbs and potions, trust me they'll buy your art."
"Well, you can display some on your stall if you want."
"No. Your art belongs to a gallery with four figure price tags on them. And if anyone says anything bad about your pictures, Eira and I will take care of them." She teased and felt a hug of silent thanks in return.
"Speaking of your stall, how did that go today?"
Dera stepped out of the embrace and walked back to the seat she had just vacated. "Meaghan came to the stall."
"Oh, how is she? I haven't seen her in a while."
"She was a mess. She finally discovered what a pig that Owen Brooks is and was quite distressed when I saw her."
"Owen Brooks." Gwenna shook her head with distaste, "What has he done now?" "She found him in bed last night with some tourist floozy he'd picked up in the pub. She's absolutely distraught. I did try to warn her about Owen but you know what Meaghan is like, blind as a bat when it comes to men."
"Ooh! That is just infuriating! Wish I could give him a beating but he's just too big." She made a sound of disgust. "Maybe turning him into a toad might be a better bet."
"Wouldn't it though? Unfortunately we'll have no way of explaining that when people go looking for him."
"True. But we can't just let him get away with hurting Meaghan like that." Dera sighed, "It's her life, Cariad. She needs to figure things out for herself. We can only be there for her right now. I know she'll be stronger when this blows over and hopefully she'll find a man who will be good to her."
"Hmmm... when she finds him I'd love to know if he has a brother." Gwenna joked. Dera smiled absently but was silent. She was thinking about the man with the amazing eyes back at the market. She felt heat unfurl in her belly and barely held back a sigh. Or she thought she'd held it back.
"Alright then, spit it out."
"Ha! Don't try to feign innocence, that smile gives you away." Gwenna's eyes danced with mischief.
Dera threw back her head and laughed, "I know, I can't keep anything from you Cariad. Eira and I learned that the hard way when we were children."
"That's right. Now speak up!"
"Alright, I saw this absolutely gorgeous man in the market and he was staring at me. He had eyes the color of obsidian and his body was just so delicious." She lowered her voice, "I tell you my heart is still racing just thinking about it." She used her hand to lightly fan her face then she caught Gwenna looking at her oddly. "What?"
"I'm just trying to wrap my head around it, is all."
"Wrap your head around what exactly?"
Gwenna wore a puzzled look on her face, "You, my big sister, going crazy over some guy. I never thought I'd see the day." Then she let out a laugh of absolute delight, "Oh, this is priceless! Tell me more about this stranger, did you speak with him? Where's he from?"
They spent the next hour chattering almost non-stop. They speculated about where the stranger could have come from; they worried about Eira, the middle sister, who usually had her head buried in a book in her bookshop; they gossiped about the neighbors living round Dera's house, which they'd all once lived in with their mother.
The two sisters had so much fun talking and laughing that by the time Dera glanced at the time, she let out a gasp of shock. "Oh my goodness Gwenna, have you seen what time it is?" she jumped up and gathered her teacup; the biscuits were all gone by then so she carried the empty plate to the tiny kitchen.
"Just leave them in the sink, I'll take care of them."
"Thanks, Gwen. I need to get home and get my stock sorted for market tomorrow. I practically sold out of some of my tinctures this morning and I need to make up some more."
Gwenna gave her a hug, "It's been lovely seeing you again Cariad, don't you dare leave it so long before you come and visit me again. And listen, life's too short to be shy, if you see your handsome stranger again go up to him and introduce yourself. What harm can it do?"
The thought of just walking up to the man caused a shiver of anticipation to course through her. It was something Gwenna would do but was totally foreign to her, still… "I'll think about it. He definitely looked like he'd be worth it." She hurried towards the door, "Oh and it's your turn to visit next. I'll expect you for tea on Sunday and bring Eira with you, its ages since I last saw her."