Maternal Instinct

Speculative Romantic Fiction – Scotland, 980 B.C.

Learn where the Time After Time Saga began. Coming April, 2015

This is Aleena and Colin’s story — which is interwoven with that of the woman who will chase their daughters through time. There is nothing so evil as this woman scorned.AnimalInstinctCoverArt72dpi_1 cropped

Mildreth’s sword shone blood red, raised above the couple’s heads, as she swore she would keep them apart. Aleena pressed closer to Colin, cold fear curling in her chest. She cried out when a steaming drop of blood fell from the sword tip and burned into the flesh of her bare shoulder, leaving a heart-shaped mark. She clung to Colin’s encircling arms, even though there was little warmth in his chest at her back. He must be as chilled as she was. Aleena was unable to breath as terror and pain swirled around and within her.

“Know from this mark that not only you, but also your daughters, will be hunted by me across the generations. They will have great tribulation in love, and a sword shall divide them from the mate of their soul.”

With an angry cry, Mildreth moved her sword in a swift, slashing arc, the tip leaving a cold breeze as it barely missed Aleena’s cheek, aiming for the ivory mer croppedthat lay on the ground in front of her, accurately dividing in two the broach that Colin had presented to her as a wedding gift. Before the beauty of their lovemaking. Before the horror of Mildreth’s appearance.

A flash of evil green sparked at the division, but before it could grow it was countered by a ball of golden light coming from a motion of the Prophetess, who appeared at Mildreth’s side. Mildreth backed away from the warm glow of goodness and love that countered her evil intent. Before hope could rise in Aleena’s breast, the Prophetess turned sympathetic eyes on her.

“I cannot take away the Mildreth’s anger and evil intent, but I can give you hope.” The voice of the prophetess was as soft and airy as a summer breeze. “If Mildreth is intent on doing wrong to you and your daughters, I will protect you, at least in part. She can only intervene before wedding vows are taken. Her desire to hurt your daughters has backfired. She will be thrown through time by her evil desire to harm you and yours, generation after generation.

“You,” she pointed the wand at the cowering enemy, “will be the instrument of your own evil anger, doomed to live through generations, to find each offspring of Aleena, and to prevent her happiness if you can. You cannot do actual harm to them or those who love them, but you can attempt to derail their happiness if you must. I pray one day you will see the error of your hatred and replace it with love — but until you do, you may attempt to keep those who love apart from each other.”

The prophetess turned glowing, sapphire blue eyes to them, the expression on her beautiful, semi-translucent face kind and full of empathy.

“Aleena, Colin, know that your daughters’ daughters will not be alone as they battle this enemy. Each will be given three helpers.”

A soft, golden glow shown around the prophetess as she uttered her assurances.

“First, each will have a helper from among the animal kingdom, as represented in the carvings of the broach. This animal will be given knowledge beyond its kin, will protect each child, and will help to bring her together with the one who will complete her soul and give her joy.”

Her glow became brighter as her healing words flowed over Aleena.

“Second, your daughters will be given memories, passed on through generations, dormant until they are needed, which will assist them in the time of greatest need.”

Now the glow was so bright, Aleena shielded her eyes with a trembling hand.

“And, finally, the broach.” The carvings of the two parts began to glow in response to her words. “Aleena, pick up the part with the clasp.”

Aleena’s hand trembled as she reached for the sleeping cat carved in ivory forming the center of the piece. It was unexpectedly cool to her touch.

“This,” said the Prophetess, “shall be passed down to the daughters who bear the Heartmark.” She gestured to the heart-shaped burn on her shoulder. “When they find the part that completes the broach, they will know what is needed to break the curse.”

The Prophetess turned her attention to Colin.

“Colin, pick up the remainder.”

Colin did as he was told.

“Hold it in your left hand and take out your Sgian Dubh with your right.” He pulled the dagger from his hose, below the hem of his kilt, strapped at his knee. Both the dagger and the broach began to glow in his hands.

The prophetess nodded her approval. “Press them together.”

The handle of his long dagger was plain bone. When it touched the remainder of the ivory broach, the carved relief of the animals from the broach melded into the handle. “You will pass the knife to a man you deem worthy, a friend whose valor saves your life or the life of one you love. Tell him this story, and the blade will always find its way to the lover of her soul when a daughter of Aleena is in need.”

In a flash of green and yellow light, both enemy and Prophetess were gone.

Aleena let out a shuddering breath and pressed closer to Colin, turning to bury her face in his chest. Immediately his warm, strong arms came around her, and she sobbed for several long moments as he stroked her hair and murmured reassurances in her ear.

“Hush, love, you’re safe. We’ll survive this.”

“Are you sure?” She leaned back a little, and the cold flat of the Sgian Dubh brushed her shoulder as Colin shifted his hold, and with his other hand, tilted her face up toward his own.

She still held the broach in her hand. In that moment the carving on the broach was drawn to the relief on the handle. They came together in a perfect fit.

Aleena stared at the joined carvings, then shifted her gaze to the green, clear eyes of her husband. She shook her head in disbelief. “Is this real?” Her voice came out in a raspy whisper. “What does it mean?”

“I think it means that, for our generation at least, we are safe from any further interference from Mildreth.” His shadowed eyes snagged and held hers. Sadness simmered within their green depths. “But God help our daughters.”

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