Authors: Marianne Morea
Tags: #werewolf, #werewolf and vampire, #werewolf family, #werewolf paranormal romance, #werewolf romance vampire romance paranormal romance thriller urban fantasy, #werewolf romance werewolves and shifters, #werewolf and vampire romance, #cursed by blood series, #urban fantasy suspense, #werewolf saga
Neither said a word as Sean
carried Lily’s bags downstairs to the front door. With the current
political climate, Sean had no choice but to stay in Maine. There
was no way around it, and nothing left to discuss. Problem was, the
issues at the Compound weren’t just limited to Maine. Weres across
the country were riveted, waiting to see if the
, as they called it, would
Rissa was at the bottom of the stairs,
waiting for them by the door.
Good news travels fast, I
see,” Lily said, as she stepped down onto the polished tile of the
front foyer. Sean put the bags down and opened the door to call for
Jack. A cold gust of wind followed, and Lily rubbed her arms
against the chill, as she leaned into Rissa’s one-armed
Care package?” she asked,
indicating the foil wrapped dish in her friend’s other
The corner of Lily’s mouth crooked
upward, but she cringed inwardly. Rissa’s eyes brimmed with worry,
but there was a hint of steely indictment in their depths, as
Or maybe it’s just my own
Seriously, Ris, you’re the
only person I know who would get up at dawn to make homemade
cookies for a trip you’re not even taking.”
Deliberately avoiding eye contact,
Lily turned to drape her jacket over the gleaming cherry banister
and lean her backpack against the curved rails at the bottom of the
As Sean stepped outside, it was just
the two of them, and the metronomic ticking of the grandfather
clock on the landing was almost deafening in the tense quiet. Lily
pressed both hands to her stomach as guilt bit into her gut again.
Closing her eyes, she slid her hands to her hips and turned back
around. “All right. Enough with the sonic boom silent treatment,”
she said, meeting Rissa’s pointed gaze. “I guess Mitch told you
what happened last night.”
Rissa exhaled as she nodded. “Yes, he
And? Lily, for Christ’s
sake, why did you have to go there?” Exasperation exploded into her
tone, even as her face flushed in uncharacteristic annoyance.
Shaking her head, she floundered, at a loss. “You’re not stupid
Lily, but sometimes I don’t understand what goes through your mind.
Didn’t you think for one second, that confronting the council in
that way played right into Parr’s hand? And did you honestly think
any of us would allow them to hold you against your
Lily opened her mouth, but then closed
it again, swallowing a sarcastic reply. Rissa wasn’t the guilty
party in this, and she shouldn’t bear the brunt of Lily’s ire. “No.
I don’t. But if Mitch told you everything, then you know the
situation has moved beyond that.
Rissa threw her hands up. “But why
leave? Don’t you think it’s is a bit extreme, even for you?” She
was at a loss. “I mean, since when are you the type to cut and
Lily flinched, watching the
conflicting emotions play across her friend’s face. This was
exactly the reason she wanted to leave before everyone else caught
wind of her plan. However, Rissa wasn’t the only one
second-guessing her decision. Was her choice to leave truly best
for Sean, for her? Or had she just convinced herself it
If it was for the best,
then why was Terry’s voice loud and clear in the back of her head,
repeating the same two words over and over again?
tried to ignore them, but couldn’t. They mirrored her doubt, and
the fear that she had let her anger cloud her judgment. If Rissa
thought she was taking the easy way out, then others would as well,
and Parr would certainly capitalize on it, regardless of her little
speech in the war room last night.
Lily…” Rissa began, but
Lily held up her hand.
Don’t, Ris. I
understand—and I know on the surface it seems as if I’m running,
but trust me, that is not the case. Sean and I already went ten
rounds about this, and though he’s not happy about my leaving, he
understands this is how it has to be, at least for now. You know
he’d never let me go otherwise. I’ve looked at every angle, and
it’s better this way. He needs to focus, and on top of everything
else going on with the council, he doesn’t need the added worry
about me, our relationship and how I fit in, or don’t for that
matter. He can’t do his job properly with me here, and I can’t just
sit around and wait. This way, it’ll take some of the pressure off,
at least politically.” She shrugged, mentally crossing her fingers
that she was right.
Rissa put the foil wrapped dish on the
small, corner table to the right of the door, and linked her
fingers over her belly. “I hope so, Lily.”
Lily pulled her friend into a hug.
“It’ll be fine, you’ll see.” She closed her eyes, silently offering
up a prayer for Terry and whatever cosmic strings she could
Sean came back in, wiping the snow
from his feet, a small pink bundle in a snowsuit riding on his hip.
“Look what I found outside,” he said, picking frozen white lumps
from the faux fur surrounding the puffy pink hood. Strawberry
blonde curls peeked out from beneath the brim, and a pair of big
blue eyes stared at the two women from above the scarf encircling
the tiny face. “She ambushed us with snowballs the minute Jack and
I opened the trunk.”
Stephanie! What are you
doing out of bed and outside this early young lady? Where’s nanny?”
Rissa scolded, taking her daughter from Sean and putting her down
in front of them. She squatted down and unwound the little girl’s
scarf, unzipping the top of her coat, letting the pink hood fall
I had a nightmare,”
Stephanie said, her eyes moving between her mother, and her
A nightmare, huh? So you
decided throwing snowballs at Jack and Uncle Sean would make it all
A flash of tiny little white teeth in
an impish grin showed for an instant. “Just Jack, but Uncle Sean
kept getting in the way.”
Lily bit the inside of her cheek,
watching as Rissa pressed her lips together for the same reason.
But Sean laughed aloud, even as Rissa shot him a look.
But why did you sneak out?
You know you’re too little to be walking around the compound by
yourself. Nanny was right there, you could have woken her
I didn’t want Nanny, I
wanted you!” The little girl’s face dropped. Her small body tensed,
and her eyes widened with fear. Trembling, her dread was so
palpable Lily’s senses went into high alert.
What’s the matter, honey?”
Sean asked, glancing down at her.
Stephanie looked up at her uncle
again, this time her eyes like saucers. “The lady…she’s
Rissa and Lily exchanged looks. “What
The lady in my dream. She
hurts people, and she smells bad too, like in the hospital where
Lily helps Dr. Volkmann.”
Sean leaned over and scooped Stephanie
into his arms. “It was just a bad dream, munchkin. There’s nothing
to worry about.” But over the child’s shoulder, Lily’s gaze caught
his and locked, concern etched into her eyes. Stephanie was
psychic, even more so than she. Could there be more to this than
just a simple nightmare?
Stephanie leaned back in Sean’s arms,
her little cheeks pale. “She won’t go outside in the snow. I think
she’s afraid of it, so that’s why I went outside.”
, it’s okay, honey. No one is angry with you for going out in
the snow,” Rissa cooed. “As long as you’re safe, that’s all that
No, mommy, you’re not
listening! Lily was in my dream too, and the lady hurt her.”
Stephanie turned back to Sean, her eyes pleading and much too
intense for one so young. “She has to stay here with us, Uncle
Sean! Don’t let Lily go away!” The words spilled from her lips, and
she started to cry, her knowing look melting away with each
Rissa took her from Sean, and sat her
down on the stairs, wrapping her arms around her daughter’s tiny
shoulders. “Lily’s fine, Stephie…see? She’s right here with us,”
she said pulling her in closer. “It was just a
Stephanie cried even harder. “No! The
lady wants to hurt people, and she wants to hurt us! She’s coming
here. I know it.” Her blue eyes searched from her mother, to her
uncle and back again. “You don’t believe me, do you?” she said, her
eyes wet and puffy, and her nose running.
Sean squatted down, resting his hand
on Stephanie’s arm. “Of course, I believe you. But you don’t have
to worry, because Jack will take good care of Lily while she’s
visiting her friends in New York, and I’ll be here to take good
care of you.”
Stephanie hiccupped. “You promise?”
Her eyes searched his, as if trying to decide if she believed him
Sean smiled. “Pinky promise,” he said,
and held up his little finger, waiting for her to do the same.
Slowly she raised her hand and linked her tiny finger with
He gave her a brilliant smile. “That’s
my girl!” he said with a wink, pulling her into a hug. But over her
pink thermal clad shoulder, he looked at both women; one glance
telling Lily she was no longer the only one concerned.
Lily hadn’t said a word through the
whole exchange, instead gently probing the little girl’s mind,
looking for any nuance to show her it was nothing more than a
dream. Problem was, Stephanie’s dream didn’t feel like a dream. It
felt more like a vision—but there was no way she was sharing that
little tidbit with Sean at this point. They had enough real
problems to contend with, without adding tilting at windmills to
the list. In the meantime, she made a mental note to keep her guard
up and her senses open.
Outside, Jack beeped the horn, and
Sean picked Stephanie up, tossing her into the air and catching her
before helping Rissa to her feet. With both safely on the ground,
he turned toward Lily. A thousand unsaid words passed between them,
and he slid his arm around her shoulders. “You’re sure about this?
We can always bring the bags back upstairs.”
Lily tilted her head and
glanced up at him, her heart skipping a beat in the process. He was
everything she wanted and more.
So why was
she doing this?
Indecision reigned, and
she opened her mouth, but no words came, so she just
Now wasn’t the time to let hormones
and heartstrings sway what they both knew was the right thing. Lily
blinked back the apprehension she knew shined alongside her
determination. In the past, she may have been reckless in her
decisions, either flying by the seat of her pants, or flying off
the handle. After losing Terry, her selfishness had changed to an
all-consuming anger and a need for revenge. She wanted to shred
whatever it was that made her feel vulnerable. But things had
changed again, and she blinked back her fear not out of denial, but
so as not to give Parr the advantage.
Fear wasn’t a weakness, and it didn’t
mean she was losing her edge, it simply meant she had finally found
a reason worth fighting for, even if it had to be done at a
distance— for now. Sean was her reason for fighting. Her only
They walked arm and arm to the car, as
Rissa stood on the porch with Stephanie and waved. Sean stayed at
the edge of the drive as they pulled away, and as she watched his
face, her heart squeezed in her chest. She glanced across the
gravel and grass to her friend, and the little girl she had wrapped
in her arms, and prayed Sean would find a way to end this mess, and
Jack Cochran pulled Lily’s Mustang up
to the light at West 50th Street and 12th Avenue. The car idled
while they sat in traffic adjacent to the Manhattan Cruise Ship
Terminal. Two large passenger ships sat majestically to their
right, while uniformed police wearing bright orange transit
authority vests, directed people and their luggage across the busy
Looks like New York’s
winter cruise season is in full swing,” Lily commented, looking at
the crowds heading toward the departure terminal at Pier
Leaning back in his seat, Jack
stretched. “Why anyone would want to take to the sea in the middle
of February is beyond me.” Rolling his shoulders, he flexed his
fingers, letting the blood flow back through his joints before
dropping his hands back onto the steering wheel.
You okay?” Lily asked,
taking a sip from her coffee. They had been driving for hours, and
traffic hadn’t cooperated at all since they’d hit the interstate
outside of York, Maine. Making a face, she turned from side to side
looking for a place to spit. She rolled down the window and leaned
her head over the edge of the glass, but with a traffic cop
standing not ten feet from the car, she thought better of the idea.
With no other choice, she scrunched her eyes and swallowed, putting
the cup down in the holder between the seats.
Okay…what was that
Nothing. The coffee tastes
like it was made with vinegar,” she answered with a grimace, wiping
her mouth on the cuff of her jacket.