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Finishing the braid, Niamh stared at herself in the mirror. She looked more like her mother every day. The freckles peppered across her nose hadn’t changed any in the last three years. Her hair had lightened some from all the time she’d spent out in the sun. It was closer to a fiery red than the crimson she had as a child. The rest of her body had filled out as she’d gotten older and taller.
She was now the same height as her mother had been; a solid five-foot-seven-inches.
That was where the similarities ended. Her legs, arms, and abdomen had more muscle than she ever recalled on her mother. Her father had been the one with all the muscle. It had been the physical labor he’d endured working in the pub. Not to mention the training he had gone through as a teenager.
It was the same training she’d received regularly over the last few years. Most days she spent at the cabin or at Ainsley’s desperately working to improve her physical prowess and control her powers. Nearly three years and she hardly felt as if she’d learned anything at all.
Probably a good thing she hadn’t found that black wolf yet.
She didn’t have to focus on that today. She had work at the pub this evening. Niamh inhaled a deep breath and eyed the reflection of the green t-shirt Rhea had elected for the employees to wear a couple of years ago. She hated it, but only because it made her emerald green eyes stand out more. If she could’ve changed her eye color, she would, except she didn’t want to distance herself from one of the few remaining links she had to her parents.
Niamh shook the thought from her head, grabbed her driver’s license off the dresser and tucked it into the back pocket of her jeans. She spun around on the ball of her boot and eyeballed the room. Even after all these years, she still hadn’t grown accustomed to the extravagance surrounding her most days. Di’Lacia, she couldn’t wait until she turned eighteen and could leave the house.
She extracted some cash from the top drawer of the antique nightstand beside her bed. She placed the cash in the back pocket of her jeans with her driver’s license and then snagged her purple helmet off the back of the door on her way out. She stepped into the hallway—
“Niamh, I was just coming to see ye,” Séamus said.
Shite. She hadn’t left fast enough. A good chunk of the time she usually escaped the house without crossing his path, but some days … there was no avoiding him. She plastered a smile to her mouth and turned around to face him. “I was just on ‘mai way to work. What can I do for ye?”
“I wanted to ensure ye made time for Briana this weekend. She’ll be here to work on your dress.”
“Dress?” She tilted her head to the side and pursed her lips. The question had popped out before she could stop it. If she had to be there for a fitting, it could only mean he was demanding her presence at some event he was hosting. This past year she’d been forced to play the part of his date on several occasions. Talk about a test of control.
“Dinnae tell me ye forgot about ‘mai birthday party next weekend.”
Sure she had. He was the furthest thing from her mind, unless it included getting away from him. Inwardly, she groaned. She hated dressing up and having to hang on his arm. It was like she was a prized fox he had to show off to his friends. Too bad she couldn’t say any of that to him. Instead, she had to pretend she was perfectly okay with it all and simply watch his aura carefully.
“Of course not. How could I forget?”
“That’s ‘mai good girl.” He caressed her cheek.
Niamh swallowed the bile that crawled up the back of her throat and her eyebrows pinched together. The sensation of his sausage fingers against her skin grossed her out. Never mind the disturbing idea of being his anything. His intentions had become quite clear over the last few months as the red in his aura intensified each passing day.
“I, uh, I need to go. Ye know how, uh, how Rhea hates tardiness.”
“Ye know how much I despise ye working there, especially with ye behind the bar now. All those men … I could send Rooney there to watch over ye.” Séamus stroked his chin.
Her eyes widened. Oh, hell no! She had already been subjected to living there in that house. She refused to let him take the little bit of freedom she had away.
“Ye know Rhea wouldn’t tolerate ‘em hanging out all evening. Plus, I’m capable of taking care of ‘mai self.”
Séamus brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. “While I’m sure ye can, I always protect what’s mine.”
Her nose wrinkled as she tensed and tightened the hold she had on her helmet. Don’t use your powers, she reminded herself. Yeah, he was a bad man, but he was still a normal. One she had to get away from, now. Slowly, Niamh stepped back.
“I have to go.”
As she turned away, he grabbed her wrist and squeezed. “Ye just remember who ye belong to.”
Niamh narrowed her eyes and grinded her jaw. There were other places she could go; she didn’t have to stay there. Screw her parents’ will. Screw the law. It might be the best thing for her if she told him right then and there she belonged to no man.
Except just past Séamus’s shoulder she caught a glimpse of the one and only reason she stayed: her brother. Quinlan paused outside his bedroom door, glanced in their direction and disappeared down the hallway away from them.
She hadn’t figured out yet what was wrong with him. And he was the only thing keeping her there. As soon as she knew what was wrong, she’d get them both out of that awful house. Niamh bit her tongue and returned her attention to Séamus. “I do. Now, I really do have to get to work.”
“All right, ye can go. We only have another year of this and then we make it all official.” He released his hold on her. With a wink, he walked off.
She shuddered at the thought of that man any closer to her than he had been. Not that she’d ever let him get that far. At least she knew his timeframe now. It just meant she had to figure out what was wrong with her brother and get them out of there—soon. Until then, she’d tolerate that disgusting, red-headed tool.
Wiping off the imprint Séamus left on her face, Niamh headed toward the front of the house and left.
It’s been three years. Three years since her world flipped upside down. Three years since the worst day of her life became her reality. Three years of learning how far her magick goes so she can find out what really happened. Just when Niamh thinks she’s finally discovered the truth behind that tragedy, she finds herself thrown into another realm. Can she find a way out before her own realm suffers? Or is she predestined to be stuck in this realm forever?
Krys Fenner has been infinitely passionate about writing and helping people for as long as she can remember. Having already published five books, she avidly continues working on her Dark Road series and is in the process of releasing an urban fantasy series. Krys received an Associate of Arts in Psychology, recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and continues working on a Master’s degree. When she isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her three fur babies, Bones, Luna and Lola.
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