I'm already at 27 Microsoft Word pages which is really long BUT it's still not finished! So this might not be up by this weekend as I thought it would be. So, let's see for another week and then phew! Done with the story.
Anyway, in this final installment, I've decided to write a short peek into what could possibly be written in the sequel. It's one of my favourite scenes from this chapter only because it's a sharp contrast to the depressing nature of the other scenes. This is still the raw form as I haven't edited nor embellished it but while we wait until TAM Ch 14 is posted, enjoy!
Eulalie glanced sideways at the female still wrapped in the pelt of the Western Lord. She wouldn’t lie to herself but Eulalie was surprised and damn right pissed to find out the identity of the Lady of the West. Etienne had abandoned his pregnant mate for this?
All Vampire women were bastards. Her father had taught her that right from the start which was why he never married any of them. And like all the Pureblood women he had lain with, this one was no different.
For all the calm and gentle exterior the female Pureblood tried to portray, only Eulalie knew the wickedness that lay claim in that woman’s heart. Eirikr was now a shadow of his former self; simply existing but not living because she had trapped him, used him and discarded him like the unworthy trash he wasn’t.
Eulalie could kill her for that alone.
And then she would kill her for putting the sadness in Rose’s eyes. God, Eulalie liked that human! She had given Merkel and his men a home and asked for nothing in return – not even when her father had offered to take her as his wife! What an honour that should have been. But Rose needed no more of that.
To Eulalie, a woman raising a child without a man deserved a class of honours of her own. Especially when it was obvious that carrying a half Vampire child was robbing the human of her strength and life.
“These mountains have become more dangerous recently. We’ve been having unexpected guests…” Eulalie didn’t know why she offered that information but it got Etienne’s immediate attention.
“That’s why the wolves were edgy.” Etienne nodded at her silence. “What sort of guests?”
“Dead bodies – floating down the river, flung on trees…” Eulalie closed her eyes to will the images away. “Children… all of them.”
Etienne had a hard set frown on his face, the silver in his eyes going slightly gold as he processed her words.
“Scent and tracks?” Too many.
Eulalie raised her eyes to meet his. “You know whose.
And I can assure you that Father is looking into it. That’s why I’m here.” Indeed, the hyenas had never been a problem before, always adhering to the strict segregation rules enforced by their Changeling Lord of the East. But all that had changed the moment the hyenas sought refuge underground.
Eulalie herself didn’t know that beneath them lay a labyrinth of caves and channels that were massive enough to house an entire army of hyena Changelings. From the vast number of soldiers who attacked Seurri, their underground base was the only logical place to accommodate all those thousands.
Right under their noses.
If she didn’t know better, Eulalie had the feeling that her father had offered his hand to Rose as punishment for allowing the hyenas to proliferate and attack the South. Her father was never one to chain himself so willingly to a woman.
“We will visit your brother once this storm passes. And I will help you track the hyenas.” His decision sounded absolute, much to the dismay of the female Pureblood beside him. It went without saying that he had every intention of leaving her behind while he scouted. Even through the soft glow of the campfire, Eulalie had caught her face paling.
“And what of your relation up the peaks?” she asked softly, watching as the female turned away from them.
“He has lived for thousands of years. A few more days wouldn’t matter.”
The storm stopped too soon in Zahara’s opinion – almost as though it was dying to put Etienne’s decision into action. Why of all the wolves, they had to meet her?
And if Etienne hadn’t known earlier about her past, he surely would now. The shameless wolf wore her mark like it was a medallion across his skin –literally. Skin deep, the ink spelled out her name in the Changeling tongue and displayed for all to see on the side of his neck like a choker.
Though he couldn’t read Changeling script, Etienne knew the basic alphabets and though he didn’t voice it, she knew that he was roaring with laughter on the inside. Idiot!
“Sister mine, how fare thee?” Zahara watched Eirikr kiss Eulalie’s cheeks twice even though his eyes were fixed only on her. “And to what do I owe this pleasure?”
He all but purred.
“Brother, this is Lord Etienne of the West and –”
“This is Zahara Arceneaux, cousin of mine,” supplied Etienne saving both women from unwanted embarrassment. “I thank you for your kind welcome Prince Eirikr. But this is not a social call.”
Zahara watched as Etienne hustled the siblings into an adjoining chamber, leaving her and Keiko alone. But the reprieve was not for long.
When they reappeared, Eulalie had a nasty scowl on her face while her brother was positively brimming with delight – his face almost an exact copy of his father’s when he grinned. That said a lot, considering that the Eastern Lord was a classic cassanova.
However, that was nothing compared to the look on Etienne’s face. Despite the stoic front he was clearly putting up, Zahara caught the amusement in his eyes and worst – the laughter in his head!
“Come Princess, we must make haste,” he announced, nodding at Keiko to follow. “Zahara, I will return for you. Be well cousin.”
He didn’t even give her a chance to say goodbye, simply disappearing before she could protest.
“You do not look pleased to be in my company.” Soft hands played with a stray strand of her hair.
“Perhaps you should show me to my room,” she replied sharply without turning towards him. “I do not wish to burden you any longer with my presence.”
“Oh, but of course,” he replied, taking her hand and bringing it to his lips. “You know the way to my chambers.”