I realized I said I would post a short story that related to Heart of Lavora, but hadn’t yet. This short takes place 200 years before the start of Heart of Lavora. It sets the background for the major conflict in the novel…and I’m really hoping it doesn’t give away too much.
Without further adieu, I give you Amara.
Amara sat up in bed, a cold sweat soaking her. She shook as she gripped the large amethyst stone around her neck. Death was upon them.
She looked around, finding herself alone in the room. Her voice trembling, she shouted, “Finn!” In an instant, the bedroom door flew open. Finn entered, his face as pale as his hair.
“Amara, what is it? Are you—”
“He’s dead.” Tears flooded her eyes as she repeated, “He’s dead.”
Finn moved to her side, wrapping her in his arms. “I’m so sorry, Mar.”
She leaned into him, giving in to her grief. She felt the pain of loss in every inch of her body, barely able to tolerate the cold reaching to her bones. “I don’t understand. He still had at least two hundred years. How could this happen?”
“You don’t want the answer to that,” Finn whispered.
Amara pulled away. “You saw this? You knew?”
He shook his head. “No, King Baltus saw it. He warned me this would happen.”
Her eyes widened. “That’s why you didn’t want to stay at the palace last night.”
“He said the same thing would happen to you if we stayed. He didn’t want that.” Finn lowered his eyes. “He saw one of your brothers murdering him.”
Amara felt her heart breaking. “No, he had to be wrong. They wouldn’t…” She stopped, realizing the twins had always been prone to anger. She’d known both Tynan and Kieran would be furious with the king’s decision. But she never imagined either would stoop so low as to kill their own father. Few Sidhe had ever committed such a heinous crime. Amara stiffened, anger replacing the grief. “I need to get to the palace. Now.”
Finn gripped her shoulders. “Mar, I know how you’re feeling, but—”
“No, you don’t know. You couldn’t.”
“You’re my mate. I feel everything you do. And I loved your father. We both lost him.” He paused, sighing. “You can’t fight them.”
Amara grit her teeth, narrowed her eyes. “I’m not weak, Finn.”
“I didn’t mean—”
“I’m the strongest Interrupter Lavora has had in over four hundred years! They can’t stop my power. And now I have the Amulet.”
Shaking his head, Finn said, “Freezing time won’t do any good. The minute you do anything to one, the other—”
“Then I’ll separate them first!” she cried.
Finn closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “To what end, Mar?”
Amara clenched her fists a she said, “I’m going to kill whichever one of them did this.”
Finn’s eyes flew open. “You can’t do that.”
He took her face in his hands. “If you do this, you’ll lose your soul. You’ll change into someone unrecognizable. There is no coming back from that, and I won’t allow you—”
“Allow me?” She pried his hands off her, then stood, glaring down at him. “I am queen now.”
“And I am still your mate! I won’t lose you to that.” He sighed, lowering his head. “I’ll fight them.”
All Amara’s anger fell away, and she sank back to the bed. Taking his hands, she whispered, “Your power is passive. You’ll die if you fight them.”
The corner of his mouth tipped up. “Glad to see you still care.”
“Finn…I’m sorry. I let my grief get the best of me.” She lifted her hand to his cheek, allowing him to feel her love. “I can’t lose you, either.”
Finn turned his head, kissing her palm. “We can’t fight them. We have to get you out of Lavora.”
Amara pulled her hand away, shocked. “I can’t leave.”
“We don’t have a choice. Whichever one of your brothers killed the king, he will come for you next.” He rose from the bed and moved to the window, pulling the curtain back and peering outside. “We have about an hour until dawn.”
“No, you don’t understand. I can’t cross over. I tried when I was eighteen, and I can’t open the doorway.”
Finn glanced back to her. “Was this before, or after we bonded?”
She lowered her head, feeling a blush burn her cheeks. “Before the bond, but after we learned you were immune to my powers.”
He chuckled, causing her to look up. “You know we can’t go through the Veil without our mates.”
“So you’re coming with me?”
“Of course. You think I’d leave you alone in a world you don’t know?”
Amara shook her head. “This doesn’t feel right. Leaving our people without a ruler—”
“You really think Tynan or Kieran won’t take the throne?”
She frowned. “Father had to tell someone else of his decision. He knew what was going to happen. He wouldn’t he keep it quiet.”
Finn’s eyes widened. “You’re right, he wouldn’t.” He strode to the wardrobe in the corner of the room and pulled open the doors.
As he changed from his white cotton pants into a brown leather pair, Amara asked, “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to Lord Canaan’s. Your father trusted him the most. He must know the truth.” He removed a matching vest and slipped it on. Lacing the front, he turned to face Amara. “I want to you get everything ready, and meet me at the Veil in one hour. If Canaan doesn’t know, we’ll have to leave. We have to keep you safe, and keep the Amulet away from your brothers.” He crossed the room to her side and bent, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.
Finn smiled. “I’ll be fine.”
Dawn was fast approaching. Amara hid in the trees near the Veil, awaiting Finn. With every minute that passed, her anxiety rose. She was certain someone was watching her, waiting for her to let her guard down. While she could sense the presence of hatred, of evil, she couldn’t recognize the heartbeat. An icy vice overpowered all her senses, making her tremble.
Attempting to calm her nerves, she took in her surrounding, committing every detail to memory. She’d never allow herself to forget the lush green fields, the massive trees, or the wildflowers that bloomed everywhere. As she took in a deep breath, she wondered if anywhere could smell as fragrant and wonderful as her homeland.
Regret filled her. This was her home, her kingdom, and her traitorous brother—Tynan, she suspected—was chasing her away. She shouldn’t let him. She should stay and fight for what belonged to her. She should…
A hand touched her shoulder, and she jumped, covering a gasp. Turning her head, she saw Finn behind her, a frown on his face. “What is it?” she asked.
Finn shook his head. “Lord Canaan is dead. Someone poured liquefied iron down his throat.”
“Dear Mother!” Amara felt bile rising in her throat. Murder was rare enough in their world, but for someone to do something this sinister, this sickening…she shook her head. “This can’t be the work of either of my brothers. They couldn’t…I can’t believe either of them would do this.”
“Your father’s premonitions have never been wrong.”
She shut her eyes tightly, forcing back tears. “I wish he’d been wrong this time.”
He pulled her close, holding her tight against him. “Mar, you’re freezing.”
“I know. I’m sensing evil.”
Finn cursed under his breath, then stepped back and rubbed her arms. “We have to go, now. Are you ready?”
Amara sighed. “As ready as I’ll ever be. Do you have any idea where we’re going to go?” She paused, wondering, “Will we need to use glamour to fit in?”
“No, we won’t need glamour. Humans think we’re tiny, glittery beings with wings. They’ll never guess we look just like them.” He took her hand and led her to the white stone arch that served as a gateway between their world and the human lands. He traced one of the many intricate swirls carved into the rock. “And yes, I know the perfect place for us.”
“You aren’t going anywhere.”
Amara and Finn spun around to see a body emerging from the shadows. With dark hair and clothing, it took a moment for Amara to recognize the speaker. “Kieran.” Rage coursed through her veins. Before she could take a step toward her brother, Finn grabbed her arms, holding her back. “How could you do this?”
Kieran sneered. “I can’t become king with you alive. Once you are dead, I’ll announce Father’s decision, and accuse Tynan of these crimes.”
“No one will ever believe you. You’ve lost your soul, Kieran, and they’ll all feel it. You’re cold as ice now.”
Laughing, Kieran responded, “That’s just a myth.”
“I can feel you now,” Amara stated.
Kieran’s hand began to glow with a bright green light. “You’re more sensitive than the rest of us, remember? The others won’t sense a thing.” As he raised his hand, the smile left his face for a moment. “It shouldn’t have been this way, Amara.”
Finn stepped in front of Amara, shielding her. “I won’t let you do this.”
“What are you going to do, Finn? You have premonitions. They’re useless in a fight.”
Pushing Finn out of the way, Amara said, “But my power isn’t. And I have the Amulet now. You can’t defeat me.”
Kieran’s smug grin returned. “Actually, I can.” He cast out his hand, sending a blast of wind toward her. When she didn’t even flinch, Kieran clenched his fist, turning the gust into a spiraling tornado.
Amara held out her own hand, her white energy encasing it. Instantly, the tornado turned into a column of frozen air, which fell to the ground in a circle of snow. “Back off, Kieran. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Too bad the feeling isn’t mutual.” Kieran threw his arm out her once more, this time shooting a bolt of lightning at her. The bolt struck Amara in her hand, but didn’t harm her. Instead, it hurtled back to Kieran, knocking him to the ground.
“Amara, don’t kill him,” Finn warned, grasping her arm.
“He has to pay for what he’s done.”
“If you take his life, you’ll be just like him.”
She sighed. “I hate it when you’re right.” Amara cast her power once more, encasing her brother in a block of solid ice. “Someone will thaw him eventually.”
“We need to go. We’re almost out of time.” Finn turned back to the arch, shaking his head. “I wish you hadn’t told him you have the Amulet. He’ll try to follow us.”
Amara took Finn’s hand. “He would have figured it out. That power came from the Amulet, not from me. Besides, the human lands are vast. He’ll have to find us first.”
Finn smiled. “Right.” He led her under the stone doorway. “Tailte daonna oscailte.”
A whirlpool of light surrounded them, colors swirling in a blinding, dizzying spiral. Amara felt the ground fall from beneath her feet, and gripped Finn’s arm, terrified she would end up in this strange new world alone. When the spinning finally stopped, Amara and Finn found themselves standing on a beach, a large body of water lapping at their feet.
“Where are we?” Amara asked.
Finn pointed to a hill in the west. “Just over that rise is a town called Haven. We will be safe there. A family of Sidhe already lives there, and I’m sure they will help us.”
“Haven,” she whispered, inhaling a deep breath of the salty air. “What’s it like?”
He laced his fingers with hers and smiled. “Like home.”
“Home,” she repeated, her thoughts on the kingdom. She closed her eyes, using the power of the Amulet to see into the future. Pain tore at her as she saw the devastation her brothers would cause in her absence, the rift that would divide her people for generations to come. “What have I done?” she choked, looking into Finn’s eyes. “Tynan and Kieran will tear Lavora apart.”
Finn took her face in his hands. “Our people are survivors. We’ll wait until we know it’s safe, and then return and take back your throne.”
A tear slipped down her cheek. “We won’t be able to go back. It will never be safe for us.”
“Then we’ll stay here in Haven, and pass our knowledge on to our family. We may not be able to return, but one day, they will.”
“How can you be so certain?”
“I know why the king chose you over your brothers.”
She shrugged. “I’m the oldest.”
“No. He saw the Heart coming from you.”
Amara’ jaw dropped. “That’s not possible. The Heart is a myth. No one can control every power of the Sidhe, not without the Amulet.”
“I found it hard to believe myself, until I saw the vision.” He smiled, adding, “The Heart will return our kingdom to its glory.”