Have you entered to win a feather From an Angel’s Wing? It’s the contest to celebrate the release of Blind Destiny…
She hadn’t always been this…volatile. Luc was sure of it.
But now, as they walked to the hotel Will had arranged for them, the energy he felt coming off of her was so chaotic, he felt like he was walking inside a thunderstorm.
She was the one who had taught him control.
And now it seemed she had none of it.
“You know, your mind feels a bit of a mess,” he said softly.
“It is a bit of a mess. If you don’t want to see anything, I’d suggest you mind your own business,” she snapped.
“I’m trying, but you’re broadcasting so loud.” He shrugged. Krell gave a soft yip and out of habit, Luc merged his mind with the dog—and saw the obstacle in the sidewalk. With his hand on Krell’s head, he bypassed the area where work was being done.
Sina nudged him. “We’re staying there.”
Luc stopped and contemplated the low, squat building through the dog’s eyes. Then he used his mind to guide Krell to look at Sina again. She was serious.
“There?” he echoed.
“Yes.” She tucked her hair behind her ear, her lips pursed. “It looked a bit better online. I told Will to find us a place on this street, so it’s the only option we have. Maybe it will be better inside.”
Luc had done a bit of exploring himself online, using a refreshable Braille display. Sometimes he really did love technology—it had made it so much easier for him to do some things…read, surf the web, check out this little village, since Sina wasn’t particularly forthcoming.
The town was a nice-sized one and it did a fair bit of tourism traffic—there were other hotels. “Am I to assume all the other hotels are booked solid, then?”
“No.” She touched his arm and murmured, “Listen…don’t you hear it?”
“Hear what?” There was nothing—
Then Sina lowered the shields on her mind.
He heard screaming.
It was like it came echoing to him down through a long, long hallway, one with many, many doors. But the sounds of the screams were unmistakable. “Can you see as well through Krell’s eyes as you can if you look through mine?” she asked softly.
He shrugged. “It depends on what I’m looking for. Shadows, colors, nuances…not exactly. Now if I’m out trying to hunt for somebody or something, I can see better.”
She was quiet a moment, then said, “Look through my eyes.”
He’d rather not. But he wasn’t going to tell her that. Sighing, he slid his mind into hers—carefully—he had to do this carefully, because if he didn’t, he’d see bits and pieces of her he’d rather not see, and she’d see bits and pieces of him.
Usually it was an awkward thing, settling his mind into another’s. Even the first few times with Perci had been a struggle.
But Sina’s mind opened for him like a glove—one designed to fit just him. Only him—
He shoved that thought aside and settled within her mind to look. “What am I looking at?” he asked, eyeing the dismal little hotel. It wasn’t that he hadn’t stayed in squalid places before. He had, but…
Sina turned her head toward the building across the narrow road. It all but cast the entire area into shadow—dark, oppressive and deathly.
What he saw almost shattered the connection between them.
The walls before him were bleeding.
“What is this?”
“It’s the house. It’s where she died.”
Briefly, he caught the echo of something else in Sina’s mind, but it was gone, silenced by her own powerful presence almost instantly. “And it’s the house where the seven bloody sisters were supposedly tortured.”
Abruptly, Sina shoved him out of her mind.
He couldn’t think of another who could do that, break that connection so easily.
She did it without blinking an eye or breaking a sweat—and she gave him a fucking headache while she did. “And that, dearest Luc, is why we’re staying here. We need to be close, I figure. If you and Will force me into this, then you’ll damn well let me do things as I see fit.”
As she turned and walked away, he reached down and rested a hand on Krell’s head. “She’s in a mood, isn’t she, boy?”
Krell growled a little, deep in his throat.
“Ah, now. Don’t be like that. She doesn’t like it here.”
Although he couldn’t see, he glanced back at the house. The darkness was an ugly maw, one he could sense in his gut.
She didn’t like it here…and the reasons for that went deep.
Sprawled on the bed, fingers resting on the Braille display, Luc did his damnedest to pretend he was alone in the room. The hotel had, in fact, turned out to be nicer than he’d expected.
Their room was a cozy affair, two beds, a kitchenette and a bathroom. But…it was one fucking room. One.
Will hadn’t gotten them separate rooms?
What the fuck?
He heard a soft, whispering sound, and although Krell was asleep and Luc wasn’t looking at anything, he was having a hard time ignoring the fact that Sina was in the room.
What the fuck indeed.
He set his jaw and once more tried to focus.
He wanted answers, and since Sina wasn’t giving him any, he was looking on his own.
So far, that search hadn’t shown anything. Shifting away from the display, he tried a different search.
Sina + Greece + fairy tales. That took him on a fruitless search, thirty minutes of his time that he’d never get back. Of course, he had a lot of minutes in his life to kill, so thirty minutes wasn’t so bad and he was stuck here until the truculent woman in charge decided to enlighten him. Wasting time…for the win, he thought, broodingly before heading back to restart the search over.
Greece + fairy tales.
The first one that came up was one he’d heard before. Not anything terribly clever or unusual, just a variation on a hundred different tales he’d heard a hundred times over. Brother and Sister. Nothing there that made him think of Sina.
Returning to the search results, he clicked on the second one and lowered his hand to the Braille display so he could read. Wikipedia. Either a treasure trove or a trash heap…or somewhere in between.
This wouldn’t be too bad, though.
Less than twenty fairy tales…odd. Most of the older places had more legends than this.
He was tempted to wake Krell, so he could look at her. But he didn’t.
If this place had the pain for her that he suspected, it made sense she hadn’t spent as much time crafting fairy tales for her, though.
And there would be others, he knew. They just weren’t noted. Most of the tales Sina had her hand in had ended up in the Grimm’s books, or become American folklore. Some had Russian or Asian roots, and some had their beginnings in the Native American lore.
But the oldest of them had come from this part of the world, so many of the tales had originated here.
This was, after all, where they had been born, so to speak. Where the first whisperings of their very strangeness had first started.
He checked each story, reading them through.
And when he came to hers…he knew.
It was a jolt, right to his gut.
It was, like so many of their tales, filled with outlandish tales of sudden death, reawakenings with true love.
In short, complete bullshit.
But somehow, he knew this was more of a lie than most.
This…this wasn’t her story.
It didn’t have her…heart, for one. Even though the Grimm brothers had made merry with the tales, there was something of Sina’s voice in many of the them, even to this day.
Not this one.
Of course, he was just reading a short summary…maybe he could find a complete version…
The next search yielded a few sources. He paused over one. He’d typed in Mysina + The Myrtle fairy tales.
One of the top searches was actually an Italian fairy tale. Some of these were hundreds, possibly a thousand years old, at the root. Clicking on it, he started to read.
And his gut went tight.
Seven wicked women…
Seven bloody sisters…
Smiling to himself, he tucked that information in his mind and started to read.
The pretty prince looked too pleased with himself. What was he about, I wondered, but I wasn’t going to ask him. It was something of an annoyance that I couldn’t peek in on his thoughts without him knowing.
It was even more of an annoyance that I worried about that. There wasn’t anybody else I would have concerned myself with. I’d either ask, or I’d look. Why did he matter so much?
But I knew that answer.
I’d known that answer for centuries.
He mattered…because he did. He always had, when he’d first been sent to me, all those years ago, so battered in spirit, but so determined not to let anybody know. So broken in heart, and yet he never let it show on the outside—he always had a kind word for everybody, a gentle smile for those who suffered, or a dirty joke, if that was what it took.
Truly the knight gallant, Luc.
A whisper danced through my mind. Sina…I was tortured in ways you can’t imagine before I died. It’s going to take more than grinding my bones to dust to bother me.
Tortured. Yes. I knew that.
It twisted my heart to think of it, but he was wrong. I did know the depths of his torture, because I knew the depths of his mind—I knew memories that his mind had blocked away, memories he had blunted. Things we did to keep ourselves sane.
His stepmother had blinded him, wounds so awful, they’d rendered his eyes useless. It had happened well before his mortal death and the damage had set it in. Undoing it just hadn’t been possible. He’d come into this life unable to see. But it hadn’t stopped him.
He’d been tortured for days, weeks, while his wife was held prisoner, too ill and sick to come to him. Unable to help him.
Both of them broken.
He isn’t broken, I thought sourly. I am broken. Luc, like the good hero he was, kept on going. That’s what the heroic, gallant prince in the fairy tale did, isn’t it?
And what did I do?
Wallowed in my own self pity—
Snarling, I flopped onto my belly and buried my face in my hands, blocking out anything and everything I could about Luc. In the end, he didn’t matter. He was just one more tool I’d use on this job—a job. That was all it was. An assignment, one of hundreds of thousands. I’d see it done, and then I’d move on.
And do another, and another…
Another infernal shriek tore through the air and I shoved upright, settling in a kneeling position on the bed, turning my head to glare at Luc. He was in the exact same position as he’d been in when I’d fallen asleep, his laptop on his thighs, a Braille display positioned close by. He ran his fingers across it, a faint line between his brows as he read whatever in the bloody hell that held him so fascinated.
“Can’t you hear her?” I demanded.
Those sightless, impossibly blue eyes turned to me. If one looked closely, you could see the scars at the corners of his eyes. They were faded—a few hundred years of life would do that. One black brow winged up and he said, “Hear who?”
Snarling, I climbed off the bed and stormed over to the window, glaring outside.
Of course he didn’t hear her.
He hadn’t even realized anything was off earlier until I’d pulled him into my mind.
I was apparently rather keyed into her. Perhaps it was because I’d added to the weight of her insanity. Krell didn’t seem to notice anything unusual, either, and that was rather strange.
Most animals were rather in tune with that sort of thing.
Maybe I’m going mad.
Standing there, I thought maybe I could even hear their screams. And that just wasn’t possible. But it had been close to two millennia. Even the most determined ghost couldn’t cling for that long.
Oh, Despoina wasn’t that old.
But whether she’d come into this mess or not, I knew if I’d come here at any given time, I’d still hear those screams. I’d cursed this place. Cursed it well and truly.
Then I’d driven a wretched, evil, old woman mad.
Now I got to lie there and watch the house endlessly, thanks to the lovely window in our room. I’d checked it out once Will had booked it and sent me the information. Preparing myself, I supposed.
It faces out over the street and you can see the mountains! See the mountains. See the birth of my nightmares. I could lie there, hear the screams again, see the blood as it spread across the building under the rise of the moon.
Others didn’t always see it.
But some did…there were whispers of it. The house that bled. Rooms that screamed.
Children were terrified of the place.
But that could be because of the legends. Because of Despoina’s tales, the stories of her descent into madness. There was a pall here, one even I could feel. It made little sense. She’d been dead for a long time. Well, not by my standards, but almost two centuries had passed.
Why did the taint of madness still linger?
Suppressing a shiver, I crossed my arms over my chest and closed my eyes. Behind me, I heard a sound but I ignored it. It would be best if I tried to get through this job without paying any more attention to Luc than I absolutely had to.
Why in the hell had Will paired me with him, anyway?
It wasn’t like I needed a partner.
Enter the contest…
Read about The Myrtle (inspiration behind Myrsina’s story)
Read more about Blind Destiny… or you can just preorder it. 😉
(This won’t be out in print for a while…it’s not long enough so it has to be paired up.)