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Authors: Anny Cook

Love Never-Ending

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An Ellora’s Cave Romantica
Publication

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

 

Love Never-Ending

 

ISBN 9781419919066

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Love Never-Ending Copyright © 2009 Anny Cook

 

Edited by Helen Woodall.

Photography and cover art by Les Byerley.

 

Electronic book Publication January 2009

 

The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of
Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home
Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

 

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or
distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without
the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including
infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is
punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. 
(http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print
editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of
copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The
characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

Love Never-Ending
Anny Cook

Dedication

 

This is for everyone who offered an encouraging
word—friends, readers, fellow writers and family members. Writing might be a
solitary occupation, but the cheerleading section is enormous. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

Mystic Valley Glossary

 

attachment
: natural mind bond that does not require
pledging rite

barbahla
: flat bread

birth-rite
: special rite performed at the
oath-binding to facilitate immediate pregnancy

bohras
: wild pigs, very dangerous to hunt thus
requiring a large hunting party

bond mate
: individuals joined by pledging and
oath-binding or covenant bond

burda
: time during which an embryo develops mental
talents. Parents spend this time joined in sexual union

chinkas
: jeweled clasps awarded to warriors for the
required twenty-five braids their hair is confined in. Five colors indicate the
warrior’s particular specialties or training

covenant bond
: bond joining individuals who will not
be producing children together, such as
garzhan
couples or third or
fourth partners

cucazhas
: vegetable similar to a cucumber or zucchini,
type of squash

dinti
: one of the four nonhuman sentient species in
the valley—resembles a large dog with extremely long hair. The hair is saved
and used for weaving of bonding blankets.
Dintis
often companion young
human females

drackas
: wild onions—will not grow as a cultivar

drang
: one of the four nonhuman sentient species in
the valley—a small dragon, said to be the forerunner and advisor of the next
high clan chief

eight-day
: one week

fanilver
: a large dark brown edible mushroom

firka
: one of the four non-human sentient species in
the valley—a gerbil/hamster-like creature that mostly lives in and weeds
gardens

flicknives
: long-bladed wavy-edged throwing knives
worn in sheaths on the leg. When thrown they spin like a drill

foltins
: wild potatoes—cannot be cultivated

garbonhzan
: a free woman who provides sex to unbonded
men in return for financial support from the village. This is considered an
honorable way for a widow to be self-supporting.

garzhan
: non-heterosexual

garzhinka
: crude expression for sexual activity

gilly fish
: glittering green fish similar to trout

grimahr
: very large wild catlike carnivore that has
various combinations of blue-green, blue-purple or green-purple stripes

Grimahr Dance
: formalized series of fighting stances
that are performed in sequence. Each series can be used both offensively and
defensively

hopper
: small animal similar to a rabbit or guinea
pig that is raised for food

hot rocks
: briquettes similar to charcoal that can be
extinguished with water and reused. Mostly used for cooking

hurkas
: round domed tents fashioned from a variety of
materials

jloni
: any adult in a bonded group who is not the
biological parent of the children—analogous to a step-parent

jlonijai
: lineage, family line

katuazha
: caretaker for a healer, normally a sibling

kroniche
: leather armor or vest usually armed with
tiny throwing knives in sheaths on chest

kzusha
: penis

light stone
: naturally occurring stones incorporated
into all lamps in valley. They require no external power

linual
: reed paper

malzhal tree
: tree with very hard, ironlike black
glittering wood used specifically for looms

meerlim
: female dress—wraparound with two fastenings
at waist. May be sleeveless or have sleeves

mhital
: milking movement at orgasm by cervix—aids
fertility chances

moorash disease
: disease carried by cannibalistic
grimahrs
—transferred
by biting—usually fatal to humans

morkert
: lawgiver, justice, arbitrator

oath-binding
: blood rite to bond heterosexual couple
after pledging rite

packits
: one of the four nonhuman sentient species in
the valley—small cats in a variety of colors who often companion young human
males

peekie
: blue or green bird similar to a chicken and
utilized in much the same manner for meat and eggs

pilkie bug
: small furry blue bug that curls when
frightened, usually found in compost heaps

pledging rite
: rite to begin mind bond, must be
completed prior to oath-binding

pocco nuts
: coconut, coconut tree

punchbow
: type of crossbow, armed with as many as
five heavy bolts and worn on forearm. In the hands of an experienced warrior
can be fired while spinning in a circle

quoltania
: blue fruit tree used for a variety of
things—cooking, tea, scents, flavoring

rapport
: deep mind bonding, usually reserved for bond
mates because of its intimacy, but known also between twins

reefah
: plant that yields oil used for weapons care

rowan
: horse-cow type of animal used for meat, milk,
dairy. Produces great quantities of manure used by farmers

schalzah
: a sexual frenzy usually triggered by
delayed oath-binding or a twin pregnancy

schalzina
: female biological preparation for
oath-binding and pregnancy. If sexual contact with the bond mate is denied
either through a delayed oath-binding or loss of mate,
schalzina
can
escalate to life-threatening levels with cramping, bleeding and miscarriage if
a pregnancy is involved.
Schalzina
continues for the duration of the
pregnancy.

schalzintelo
: a very rare
form of mind frenzy triggered by a delayed covenant bond between twin-bond
twins

schela
: ring of muscle in vagina that locks around
the head of the penis preventing withdrawal

semtorn
: initial sponsor in the valley, individual
who administers enzyme through a bite that is required for long-term survival
in the valley. Enzyme transfer must be performed during a bonding rite

sharda
: men’s kiltlike garment—not plaid

shera
: men’s wraparound shirt. When made of heavy
fabric it may serve as a coat

sim
: very mild alcoholic drink similar to ale

singing stones
: flat disks fashioned from
chinka
material that are used to capture any audio sound—played back by spinning the
disk

slith
: tiny decorative knife worn as a hair ornament
by warriors, given in recognition of special events in the warrior’s life, used
in the oath-binding ceremony

soul walk
: journey of self discovery, usually
undertaken by one or more young males over a period of several eight-days or
even a couple of moons. During the journey the participant seeks to learn what
part they will play in the life of the valley. In rare instances a young woman
may undertake a soul walk under the tutelage of an older female.

wachaz
: thorny bush. Leaves are used for tea to
relieve cramping particularly for
schalzina
, bark is used for tea to
relieve headache

wolvala
: species of wild wolf

woolie
: species of sheep. Wool used for clothing,
meat for food

 

Chapter One

Lost Market, Mystic Valley

 

Samara McCrory hummed as she carefully hooked the last of
her blooming plants on the hangers lining her porch. The early summer sun
poured over the valley, sending shafts of light through the dense forest that
surrounded her golden dome. Smiling, she looked around her small yard with the
tidy garden. Little dome-shaped pottery hutches for the garden
firkas
dotted
the neat rows of flowers and herbs. Their smooth curved shapes matched her new
dome, her first home of her own. After many lonely years she was finally
content and happy.

Life in Mystic Valley was an isolated existence for any
young girl robbed of her virginity by rape. Samara knew out-valley non-virgins
were still permitted to mate and have children. Her mother, a first-generation
immigrant to the valley, had explained the out-valley world to her. But things
were different
in
the valley where producing children was the driving
force. Here she would never have a child or bond mate, though it was possible
she might find a man who would be content with a covenant bond and no children
but that was very unlikely. She pressed her lips together and deliberately put
away the thoughts that threatened her peace.

Then she changed her mind. Instead of running away from the
memories and consequences, perhaps if would be better if she looked at them
head-on. Though she had little memory of the actual events that changed her
life so drastically, in the years since that night, the other inhabitants in
the valley had recounted them often enough. Maybe if she faced the past, then
it would no long have the power to tear her heart apart.

She closed her eyes, remembering how very young she was at
sixteen. Her younger self had been full of hopes and dreams for a family and
mate. She had completed the required bonding preparation classes so
intellectually she understood the physical aspects of mating but physically she
was unprepared for the intimacy involved. When Gil, the carpenter from Bell’s
Corner, had pleaded for her to meet him at the summit of Needle Rock, it had
seemed so romantic—and yes, she was privately willing to admit there was also
the attraction of the forbidden. Needle Rock was the valley judgment seat where
miscreants were tried for their crimes. It was definitely not an appropriate
place for an assignation.

Feeling daring and grown-up, she had slipped from the family
dome and stolen softly through the gathering shadows until she reached the base
of Needle Rock. As she set foot on the path to the summit, she hesitated for a
moment, suddenly unsure but then she heard Gil softly call her name and she
pushed her reservations to the side. What could possibly go wrong?

She shuddered as she recalled her appalled shock when Gil
tried to raise the skirt of her
meerlim
and touch her pussy. When she
tried to back away, he pushed her to the ground, easily holding her down with
his big heavy body. Samara had fragmented memories of trying to push him off,
trying to scream only to have her breath taken away when he covered her mouth
with his hard lips, pushing his tongue inside.

And then as he shoved his
kzusha
inside her, searing
her untried sheath with terrible pain, her hand brushed one of the fist-sized
stones that littered the summit. Her fist closed around it and with one arcing
blow she slammed it into his skull. Gil slumped over her, pinning her to the
ground. Frantically, she pushed him off and staggered across the summit to the
path, leaving the light stone behind her in her haste to get away.

* * * * *

Ten Years Before

 

Thirteen-year-old Llyon Llewellyn was practicing the
defensive moves from the
Grimahr Dance
with his brother Tyger in the
moonlight on the practice field across the river when a flash lit up the summit
of the judgment seat. The boys were running for the bridge before the roar and
flare died out so they witnessed a young woman staggering down the path from
the summit. She stumbled and then plunged from the path to land at the base
with a sickening thump. Pouring on more speed, they arrived a few moments
later. Llyon, a gifted young healer on the brink of Master status, dropped to
his knees next to the woman. “Samara!”

“Is she dead?” Tyger demanded, his heart pounding with
dread.

Llyon found a faint erratic pulse and shook his head. “No,
Ty. Get Papa and Dai. I can’t fix this. I’m not ready yet!”

“You might have to be,” Ty retorted soberly. “I’ll go get
help but you do what you have to do, Llyon. Don’t let her die!” Ty ran to
summon assistance, his mind voice screaming incoherently for help.

Llyon, alone with Samara in the darkness, shivered as he
gathered his tattered courage. “Don’t you die, Samara. Don’t you die,” he
whispered with a trembling voice that cracked as he began to assess her
injuries.

“I don’t think she can hear you,” a gentle voice said from
behind him.

Llyon’s hands shook with relief when he heard the old
healer’s voice. He tenderly touched the crumpled body at his knees. “I know
that, Dai. Please save her.”

“This time you must save her, Llyon. She is beyond my puny
talents. I can lend you my strength but if she is to live, then you must open
your heart and use the gift you’ve been given. Will you let her die because of
your fear?”

“No!”

“Then heal her.”

Muttering under his breath, Llyon very gently placed his
hands just beneath her heart. “Heal the internal organs first,” he whispered.

“That is correct,” Dai said with approval as he laid his
hand on Llyon’s shoulder, willing him to have the courage he needed. Though Dai
didn’t have the necessary level of talent to heal Samara, he could provide the
strength and backing that Llyon needed. When he shared those reserves with
Llyon, his apprentice gratefully accepted the warm flow of energy as he moved
to the next step. In the tense silence, Merlyn and Jade arrived, waiting to
speak so they wouldn’t distract their son.

“Next heal the spine if there is damage.” The young healer
let his senses flow out, noting the terrible injuries in passing as he
carefully checked her spinal cord. A sigh whooshed out as he realized the
damage to the fragile nervous system was miraculously minor.

“What is next?” Dai prompted.

Slowly gaining confidence as they fell into the familiar
student-teacher mode, Llyon replied, “Bleeding. Internal and external.”

“And?”

“Begin at her head while Papa begins at her feet.”

“Correct.” Dai knelt next to him, ignoring the pebbles
digging into his bony knees. “Begin.”

Tyger arrived with a folding stool that he set up on Llyon’s
other side before settling his mother within touching distance of Llyon’s
shoulder. She moved awkwardly because of her advanced pregnancy so he knew he
needed to stay close at hand.

All around them, villagers silently arrived with light
stones and blankets. Those who had healing talent lent their strength to Llyon
and Merlyn in an ever-widening circle. Samara’s parents, Ham and Rebaccah, ran
into the circle of light, staggering to a halt when they saw Samara. Rebaccah
stifled her cry with a clenched fist pressed against her lips before turning to
rest her head on Ham’s chest.

Samara groaned as her fingers twitched.

“Straighten and heal broken bones.” Llyon muttered as he
shifted uncomfortably on legs gone numb. “There are so many,” he fretted,
wondering where he would find the strength to go on.

“You have done more than your share, Llyon. There are enough
bone healers here for us to deal with the rest. Tyger, take him home,” Dai
commanded in a tone none dared refute.

Tyger’s older sister Eppie moved to take his place next to
their mother. Ty hoisted Llyon to his feet, supporting him as Llyon reeled
drunkenly away from Samara. Their friends Jacob and Joshua ran to help him.
Taking turns, they guided a weary, nearly delirious Llyon to the Llewellyn
domes.

Back at the foot of Needle Rock, the older healers worked
feverishly to stabilize Llyon’s courageous work. No one acknowledged the full
extent of the tragedy. No one voiced their curiosity aloud as to why on this
cool summer night justice was meted out by the judgment seat.

When Samara was ready for transport they carefully carried
her to the small clinic room at the Llewellyn domes. Ham and Rebaccah stood
nearby while Dai supervised the transfer. When the helpers were all gone and
only Dai and Merlyn remained, Ham finally demanded, “What happened?”

Dai sighed softly, dreading sharing his news with Samara’s
parents. “I took her memories, Ham. She fell from the path to the judgment
seat. Llyon and Tyger watched her fall as she was coming down the path.”

Rebaccah sobbed quietly. “Why was she up there?” she wailed
with the cry common to all parents when their children commit incomprehensible
acts. “Why?”

As gently as possible, Dai replied, “Gil the young carpenter
from Bell’s Corner persuaded her to meet him up there. When she arrived he
became angry when she refused him as a bond mate. They had words that ended
when he raped her.”

“He’s dead.” Ham’s flat words echoed in the small room.

“Yes. He was judged immediately. Needle Rock was still
shaking as Samara tried to make her way down the path. She lost her footing and
likely panicked. I believe that is why she fell.”

Rebaccah covered her mouth with shaking hands to hold back
her cry while Ham held her close. Rage burned deep in his eyes as he stared at
Dai. “She’ll never be able to bond.”

Desperately wishing that he could say otherwise, Dai just
nodded. “She will never be able to bond. His revenge for her rejection is
complete. We cannot change what has happened. We will work on healing her heart
and soul. But first we must heal her body.”

Rebaccah choked on her angry tears. “Find a way for her to
bond! Bonding will heal her heart! She’s only sixteen! You find a way for our
baby to bond when the time comes, Dai! She loves children. It would be a sin
for her to be barren.”

Dai’s sad eyes met Ham’s. “Take Rebaccah home now. I will
remain with Samara and keep her safe.”

* * * * *

Samara shook the bad memories away. There was no place for
them on this bright sunny morning. Better to recall the events that led to her
having her own home. She smiled in remembrance of how it all started with a
visit with her Aunt Jade.

“I have come to take your son away,” Samara gaily informed
the lovely auburn-haired woman quietly crocheting in the garden.

“Ah? Any particular one? Or will any of them do?” Jade
inquired lightly. “There are ten of them to choose from so I’ll be very
interested to see which one you pick.”

“I want Falcon. We are going to start a village newspaper.”
Fascinated with Jade’s ability to crochet in spite of her blindness, Samara
watched her long pale blue fingers slip the crochet hook in and out of the soft
loops of yarn with amazing speed.

“And what particular qualities does Falcon have that you
need? I would suppose Panther and Llynx would have energy to spare if you need
someone to deliver your papers.”

Samara shuddered. “No, thanks. Don’t think that you’ll palm
off those two young demons on me. Falcon can
write
. I need a reporter.”

Jade dropped her crochet project in her lap and tilted her
head to one side. “Really? Dear me, I must have a chat with Falcon. He’s never
mentioned writing.” Her expression took on a listening quality and Samara knew
she was no doubt having a mental conversation with one of her mates—either
Merlyn or Dai. “Are you sure Falcon will be interested?” Jade finally asked
doubtfully.

“Let us ask him,” Samara suggested. “I will be content to
leave it up to him.” She plopped down in one of the comfortable Adirondack
chairs placed in the cool shady garden. She always enjoyed the lovely outdoor
room that Merlyn and Dai had arranged for Jade. Idly, she plucked a spare ball
of yarn from the table next to her, admiring the soft minty green color, before
returning it to its place.

Without further discussion, Jade summoned Falcon from the
library.
Falcon? Will you please come out to the patio?

A few moments later a young boy with serious dark blue eyes
and fiery braids appeared in the doorway. “You called, Mama?”

“Come out, son. Samara has come to ask you something.” Jade
took up her crocheting as she gently reminded him, “First see to the comfort of
your guest.”

“Of course, Mama.” Falcon turned to Samara with a wide smile
that offered a brief hint of fangs. “May I bring you some tea and cookies,
Samara?”

“That would be lovely. Apple, please,” she replied gravely.

“One moment, then. Mama, what tea would you like?”

“Honeybush. Thank you, Falcon.”

When Falcon vanished back into house, Samara chuckled. “Your
children are so well mannered, Jade. I have no idea how you do it.”

“Even the demons, Panther and Llynx?” Jade tempered her jibe
with a small smile.

“Yes, even Panther and Llynx,” Samara admitted. “They’re
both so inventive about the trouble they get into. But I have to say that
they’ve never been rude. We’ll see what they’re like next year when I have both
of them in my class.” She looked around the garden, remembering long-ago days
when she played there with Eppie and Wrenna. “It’s hard to imagine this was
once a muddy field where we played house and dress up.”

“Dress up? You mean dress down. None of you wore clothes
back then.”

“I was talking about our hair. We used to pull it up on top
of our heads and paste it down with that yellow mud.” Samara snorted genteelly.
“Mama scolded me something fierce about it.”

“Oh, yes. I remember Dai and Merlyn complaining about
washing the mud out of the girls’ hair. Knowing my sister, like I do, yes, I
imagine Rebaccah had quite a bit to say about it. What is she up to today?”

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