Second chance/second lives romance
You will never love another.
Aislinn was the only woman Nicholas Montgomery would ever love, a fact he knew even as he was pledged to marry another.
The young, powerful witch’s heartbreak and fury led her to cast a spell that trapped them both for hundreds of years…
You will never love another like you love me.
You will never know a moment’s peace for what you have done.
Until you love me enough to forsake everything – your honor, your pride, your own soul, we cannot be together.
After more lifetimes than he wants to consider, he’s been reborb as Sean Concannon, a powerful witch, and he has finally found her, his Aislinn. But to claim her, he’ll have to make a choice, and a sacrifice he’d never prepared for.
It was by rote that he said the sacred prayers, made his vows to his tiny delicate bride, the woman-child who stared at him with fear in her dark brown eyes. Nicholas could not free his mind from the way Aislinn had looked before land and time and space all became one and he had reappeared in the chambers of his father’s house. She had sent him away.
Remember me …
She had never done that before.
But he had fled from her only days before, when she had pleaded with him to stay. Do not leave me, his proud, stubborn little witch had begged.
Woman, why can you not understand? I cannot dishonor my family.
Yet living in dishonor seemed a small price to pay if he could have Aislinn at his side always. Momentarily, he was stunned that he had thought such a thing. ‘Twas impossible. They could be together, if only the woman wasn’t stubborn, maybe not as man and wife, but together. . .
If I had even half of the talent she had, I would force her to come to me, until she regained her senses. We belong together.
Nicholas stood on the stone steps at the chapel door, facing the priest, Isabella’s right hand laying atop his left while he repeated his vows in a smooth, steady voice. But inside, he was in turmoil. Foreboding had filled him the moment Aislinn had commanded,
“Remember me.” As if he could ever forget.
Her whispered voice, that gentle command, seemed to whisper and echo over and over in his mind, lulling him into a trance.
So preoccupied was he with his thoughts that he barely noticed the disturbance that started in the back of the crowd, until the murmurs grew so loud even he could not ignore them.
A shiver ran down his spine and the hair on the back of his head stood stiff and straight. Premonition, never one of his stronger gifts, was so great in him, he could almost see the blackness that was to come.
But it was too late.
A mocking laugh drifted down over the crowd and he turned his head slowly, knowing that laugh, knowing there was trouble. Aislinn sat reclining on the sloping roof, one leg, bare to the knee, swinging lazily back and forth while she surveyed the mass below her. Slowly, she straightened and stood, one hip cocked out as she balanced easily on the uneven roof. A shift the color of blood lay against unfettered breasts before dropping down to lie lovingly against her hips. The hem fell unevenly around her legs, but no mattered where it fell, it fell any lower than mid-calf, revealing the lovely, curved lengths of her legs. The shift sloped down in the center between her breasts, and there, she’d pinned the brooch he had given her weeks earlier.
Rogued lips and cheeks, hair curling with even more abandon, she looked every inch the temptress. Even her eyes looked darker and more exotic.
“Aislinn, no,” he whispered soundlessly, dread rising in his heart. Even as he raised his hand toward her, his complete body was frozen from the inside out.
Or rather, from the outside. By a gift far more powerful than his. “Remember me, Nicholas,” she whispered to him silently and he could have sworn he felt the brush of her lips against his.
In the past weeks, women had been put to death, one for making potions, one for dressing in bold brazen colors and hinting that she might be a witch. She had not been—she in truth had wanted death, had been seeking it, courting it, since her lover had cast her out months earlier.
She was killing herself, Nicholas realized with growing horror. She was not here to embarrass him with vulgar behavior or shame him in any way. She was revealing what she was, and setting herself up for death. And she wanted him to know. He projected, as strongly as he could. Aislinn, do not do this, please. I beg of you. I love you.
You love your honor more, she mocked silently. As she ran her hands up her sides, over her breasts, she licked up her sweet, pink lips, drawing the eye of every man there.
Aislinn, enough. Stop this. Now.
If I cannot live as your wife, what is the point of living? she asked, her words echoing in his head.
Leave this place, I will go with you, he pleaded silently. She cast him a flicker of a glance. I will go with you, whatever it takes to keep you safe.
And you will damn me for the rest of your life, for costing you your family’s love and honor. No, Nicholas. A sad smile appeared at her lips and she shook her head before taking her eyes from him and roaming over the audience with practiced boredom. You enjoy your lovely little bride, Nicholas, and live a long healthy life. She looks lovely, and strong. She’ll breed well. Once she grows up.
“It seems there is to be a wedding and I was not invited,” Aislinn called out, the blue sky at her back, the brilliant sun at her left. The crowd gasped, one woman screamed, as she extended on bare foot out into space. A thick gold chain gleamed at her ankle, tiny bells tinkling as she moved.
Murmurs grew louder as she shifted her weight and another woman screamed. But instead of plummeting to the earth, her feet took the air as it were a grand set of stairs, walking her way down to earth, the bells at her ankle tinkling musically as she walked, hips swaying seductively, mouth curved up in a sweet, tempting smile.
Aislinn weaved her way through the crowd, smiling at people here and there, pausing to stroke a hand down the arm of a large hulking brute who stared at her with lust in his eyes. Aislinn laughed, shaking her head as she passed by him, coming to a halt in front of Isabella, smiling up at the tiny woman who stood next to Nicholas atop the stone steps.
A bold, brazen smile on her painted mouth, she asked, “A young thing, are you not? Are you even thirteen years old?” Isabella cast Nicholas a fearful glance, but he was unable to tear his eyes from Aislinn. In a whispery soft, heavily accented voice, Isabella whispered, “I am thirteen just last week, milady.”
“Milady?” Aislinn repeated, laughing, one graceful hand going to her half naked breast.
“Oh, you are a sweet child. A very young sweet child. But most likely fertile. That is the way the Montgomery family likes them.
“If you cannot conceive by fall, come to me. I know a potion or two. Or three.” She laughed, sliding Nicholas a sidelong admiring glance. “Not that this one will have much trouble in that area. His cock works rather well. I hope he does not frighten you too badly.”
His eyes were drawn to his mother and he saw that she had realized what was happening. But moments later, his hopes that she could intervene died. She was frozen in place as he.
“What I would not give to be in your place tonight, milady,” Aislinn whispered saucily, flicking Nicholas another glance before moving away, hips swinging seductively as he moved on to study the bride’s brother. “Hmmm, what have we here? Are you on the wedding block as well?”
He stared at her, bemused, eyes flicking from her face, to his hosts, and then back, dropping down to linger on her lithe form as she turned and strolled away.
All eyes were trained on her, but she had yet to see the malevolence in anybody’s eyes, no sign of fear. With a flick of her hand, she was straddling the solid stone wall the surrounded the chapel yard, some thirty feet away, skirts rucked up so that her legs were bared to the knee.
“Rather cold day for a wedding,” she remarked. With a smile, she threw her head back and her hands out. “Perhaps a fire for the festivities afterward? Think of it as a wedding gift.”
Just outside the stone wall, a huge fire flared out of nowhere, feeding on absolutely nothing, glowing with an eerie blue light.
Nicholas flinched at her words, sick inside, but unable to do anything. He rammed himself against the barrier that held him, knowing it was useless. Aislinn could hold him easily, tirelessly, endlessly. It had never bothered him, that she was stronger.
Aislinn didn’t even blink as hands seized her, twisted her arms painfully behind her back and binding her. “Her eyes!” somebody shouted. “Cover her eyes, so she can cast no spells.”
Still frozen, unable to even twitch a muscle, Nicholas quivered inside with rage. Aislinn, do not do this to me, I have no choice!
There was no answer.Aislinn!
A smile curved her lip as she was carried, without resistance, to the center of the courtyard. Her head turned fleetingly in his direction, but the soiled cloth that some one had tied hastily around her head obscured her vivid blue eyes. No choice, my Nicholas? When did you ever give me one?
Struggling futilely against the bonds he couldn’t see, Nicholas stared beseechingly at her, knowing she could damn well see him, blindfold or no. But he remained frozen.
Aislinn, do not do this, he begged, straining against the invisible bonds that held him silent and locked in place.
Regretfully, she said silently, It is already done. We will be together again, somewhere in time, Nicholas. Perhaps, honor will not mean so much.
You cannot mean to die like this, he snarled at her.
Nor can I mean to live like this. With myself, or with you. I am ashamed of us both, she said sadly. For our actions over the past few months, and mine today. I want it over.
So you take the coward’s road? You run from me? This is how it is to be solved? Is this how much you love me? he demanded of her. If you love me truly, face me now, and let us end this way it is meant.
Her sad laughter drifted to him a ghost of a breeze. I am.
Even though she spoke in a whisper, yards and yards away from him, he heard her words. You did not love me enough to forsake your family honor, she said to him, staring straight ahead, even while curses filled the air was rocks were thrown at her. She gasped in pain as one glanced off her brow.
Until you may love me enough to forsake everything, your honor, your pride, your own soul, we cannot be together.
I cannot lose you! Do not make me watch you die! I love you.
Aye… Her voice was a sweet gentle whisper. I’ll not make you watch.
Nicholas wanted to weep with relief as more and more branches were piled at her feet. As he waited for her to do something, she did. Her magic swarmed up and took him, pulling him into the sweet embrace of sleep.
If he allowed her to pull him under with her magic like that, then he couldn’t save her, couldn’t stop her. He battered at the sleep spell that held him, knowing it useless. But he broke through—somehow he broke through, sleepily, hazily, just in time to see them set fire to branches at her feet.
“NO!” He broke through the paralyzing hold she had his body as her magic started to break.
Lunging for the flaming pyre, he knocked people aside, intent only on getting to her, saving her. People tried to grab him and he struck out, knocking them flat, before two other powers intervened. His mother and his sister. Alone, neither of them could hold him. But together…
Nicholas. No. We will not let that happen to you as well, his mother whispered as she slid inside his struggling mind.
Abigail, young Abigail, only fifteen was white and her eyes were filled with tears as she struggled to hold him, and deal with the horror of what she was witnessing.
Nicholas tried to strike out—thinking only to get to Aislinn, as fire caught to her hair and her skin started to burn and char.
And Aislinn’s power slid between him and them, deflecting it, absorbing it as she forced him back to where he had been. Fight no more…think I would live easily? Death is blessing now. I just want the pain to end.
And her voice was filled with pain. Turning his head, he stared into her eyes and felt his heart die inside.
Gathering his strength, he amassed his power and struck out. Not at his family, where his brothers had joined their meager powers to hold him in thrall, but at Aislinn. To end her pain.
I love you, he whispered only moments before he delivered a blow to her unprotected mind.
He watched her head slump and felt her heart stop.
Her screams rang in his ears for hours, and they woke him from sleep every night for the rest of his life.