Maikoda: Power of the Moon (Blue Moon Trilogy Book 2), page 1
Blue Moon Trilogy: Book Two
(Power of the Moon)
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Cover photo © Valua Vitaly at Fotolia.com
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Table of Contents
The room was a throwback to the old days of knights and kings. Woven blankets covered the brick walls and the scenes depicted by the natural fibers were illuminated by the flicker of the fire in the hearth. The large gray Were sat still as he watched her and Suzette felt a trickle of fear and annoyance.
Her neck and shoulder throbbed, the muscles tight where Layla had bitten her. Her golden skin was marred and she sported a white bandage to keep the wound clean. She was healing so slowly. It was as if Layla’s bite had infected her. She scowled and then tempered her features as the wolf cleared his throat.
“You have failed me.”
Suzette hung her head. Deference was the only way she was going to leave alive, especially in her condition. She held her tongue and waited for him to finish his speech as she watched a small cockroach scurry around her feet.
“You have failed me.” His voice was louder this time. “Not only did you fail to kill Layla, but you delivered her into the hands of my enemies. Now she is aligned with Martin and with a human with Mai-coh’s blood!” His voice boomed off the walls.
She jumped at the touch of his warm fingers on her skin. He ran his fingers through her hair, now cropped short but still golden. The tip of his boots moved around her and he calmly stepped on the bug. The slow crunch sent a shiver up her spine and she took a deep breath. He lifted her head and stared into her eyes.
“My beautiful Zonta.” Suzette squeezed her eyes shut at the mention of her given name. “My beautiful daughter. Do not let her take away our legacy.” He held her face tightly before twisting away in anger.
“May I ask why she is so important?”
He looked over his shoulder at her. “She is the one.” He said it simply, as if she was supposed to know what he was talking about.
Suzette shook her head, “I don’t understand.”
The Were laughed at her, clearly amused by her ignorance. She tightened her lips and gritted her teeth. Now was not the time, she thought as she waited for his laughter to abate. Now was not the time to rip his head from his body.
“Of course, you wouldn’t understand.” He sat down and lifted a glass to his lips. The whiskey was tinged red with the drops of blood he’d added for flavor. “What do you know of the stories about how we came to be?”
Suzette shook her head. She knew about the legend of Mai-coh and how he was supposed to be a god, but that was all crap. He was just a really old and really powerful Were. She’d tasted his blood as proof.
“Tell me,” her father boomed.
“Well, Mai-coh was a god and he gave up his powers to come to the mortal plane to help his people defend themselves. He had children with a local woman and they were the first Weres. The rest of us are descendants of the original Weres.”
“Pathetic,” he looked at her, his eyes full of disappointment and her lips tightened. “That is all you remember of your own ancestry?”
He swirled the liquid around in his glass. “There is more, of course.” He stared at Suzette and she looked away, refusing to make direct eye contact. No use challenging him until she was fully healed.
He chuckled as if reading her mind, but continued with his story.
“Mai-coh was promised his immortality back. The elder gods realized that he had selflessly sacrificed to save their people and promised him he could return.” He walked over to the fire and stared into their depths.
“One day, Mai-coh will have a child who would be able to absorb his powers. She alone would be able to kill him and release him from his mortal body. She is the Hania, the Spirit Warrior and when she sends him home, she will become the new mortal god.”
Suzette’s brows drew together in a frown as she struggled to keep from rolling her eyes. The elder Weres and their stories. They were so caught up in the past; they could not appreciate the future for what it was worth. She was not about what could happen, she was more interested in what she could make happen. And if Layla was truly destined to be this Hania, then she would have to do something about it.
“So how do you know this Hania is Layla? It could be any of Mai-coh’s hundreds of children over the years. Suppose the Hania has already died?”
“Shut up!” her father yelled. “You are too stupid to even see the prophecy in front of you. Did you not taste her blood? You said yourself that she was different. Did you not see her powers?”
He tossed the drink back and walked over to his desk before removing a key that hung from a chain around his neck. He opened one of the desk drawers and pulled out a thin box, his hands shaking as he opened it.
“Years ago, one of the Council Elders possessed the gift of Sight. She was able to see a vision of the Hania and drew this picture on a piece of hide as she lay on her deathbed dying of disease brought by the white man. Locked up in the Council’s vaults, it’s one of the few things to survive the war.” He walked over to Suzette and handed her the weathered skin.
Suzette looked at the image inked onto the skin in blood and ground her teeth in anger. It was Layla. It even had the four faint scars on her face that Kuruk’s men had given to her. t was uncanny. She shivered as her father took the skin back.
“There is only one thing standing between the Hania and her destiny.” He walked back to the desk.
“What is that?” Suzette asked curiously, a plan starting to form in her mind.
Her father smiled. “Her sisters. She needs their powers given with their blessing to allow her to ultimately use hers.”
“I still don’t understand how we’re supposed to get Mai-coh’s powers. If she is the only one that can kill him, then she can kill us.”
Her father sighed and shook his head. “How are you my first-born?” he muttered.
Suzette’s face flushed in anger, but again she held her tongue.
“It’s simple. At the New Year’s blue moon, Layla will become vulnerable. If she kills her father right at the blue moon when even he is at his weakest, we can kill her before the transfer of power. The Were who happens to stand in her spot will gain her powers and her father’s.”
Suzette nodded her understanding. “And you will be that Were.” It was a comment, not a question.
Her father nodded, pleased. “Yes, dear daughter. I will be that Were.”
Not if I can help it, Suzette thought, a
Kill the old dog sitting in her chair.
It wasn’t as if Layla hadn’t been here before. In this space, this…state of mind. She replayed the images in her head. The big Were moving towards her and her gut instinct—killer instinct—that had her removing the blade from Brett’s hand and thrusting it into the Were’s neck. He was sliced open, from ear to ear and she dropped the knife. Martin picked it up and ended Wattan’s misery, cleaning up her mess.
Tears started to fall down her face. She had killed. Again. She had taken another life. Her tally was now two and, in her mind, it was two too many. Nevermind that the lives were taken in an attempt to save her own. Nevermind that in the last few months, she had been dragged from her boring, normal life into one filled with creatures which had existed only on television and in her imagination. Now, she was not only extremely aware of her own mortality, she was also aware of the price she must pay to remain alive. Kill or be killed.
Layla walked to the open door of the home she and her makeshift family were using for the moment. The secluded farmhouse was located in a part of one of the more rural areas of Tampa Bay. She stood framed against the walls as she stared out into the trees around her. It was eerie how her view of the world had changed. A month ago, she would have looked outside and focused on nothing but the aesthetic view offered by the towering oaks and pines.
Now, she looked for weaknesses; she could appreciate how much ground cover the soft pine needles provided, effectively hiding the traps she, Brett and Martin had dug around the perimeter and how the dry leaves of the oak trees made an excellent alarm. With their enhanced hearing, one misstep would alert them to anyone trying to sneak around the house. It was almost perfect and yet she was in a constant state of high alert; anxious and tense.
She felt Brett before she saw him. Her eyes closed as she watched the energy as it emanated from him and rolled towards her on a wave. His essence surrounded her as his arms encircled her waist and she leaned back against the security of him. The nearness of him soothed her, allowing some of the tension to leave her body.
“You okay?” his voice was gruff from sleep.
Nodding, she turned and stared at the pulse at the base of his throat; the fast hammering drawing her attention. Although not a werewolf like herself, Brett still carried some of the characteristics associated with Weres because her father had saved his life, giving him Were blood of the purest form.
Instead of killing him like it would a normal human, it had helped him heal and had enhanced his own body. Other Weres underestimated him time and time again and he used that lack of knowledge to his advantage when killing rogue ones like the monster they were currently seeking.
Brett reached out and lifted her face. His green eyes probed hers and she glanced away for a second, not wanting to reveal her state of unease.
“Baby, what’s wrong?”
She shook her head. “Nothing.”
He leaned forward and kissed her forehead, even as he grimaced at her lie.
The tread of another Were caused her to pull back slightly and she closed her eyes, sensing the newcomer’s aura; the grayish patterns of his essence bombarding her just before he rounded the corner and joined them. His vivid green eyes took in Brett’s arms wrapped around her and narrowed. Brett’s chuckled.
Martin, the older Were, looked closer to her father in age than his nearly one hundred and fifty years. One of the perks of being a werewolf was slowed aging once they transformed. Now that she had fully transformed for the first time last month, she would soon start to experience it as well.
Even though Martin and Brett had fought together, becoming allies, Martin wasn’t very keen on forgiving Brett’s reckless behavior and his threat to the older man when they had first met. But, Brett had more than proved himself; subjecting himself to torture and killing to keep them all, including Martin, alive.
Martin shrugged as if sensing Layla’s thoughts, his eyes probing Brett. His gray hair was slightly longer than he normally wore it and the lengthening strands brushed the tops of his ears. He was dressed in his usual outfit; military style cargo pants, boots, and the long jacket that concealed his many hunting knives. He swept past them and moved into the house, out of the Florida sunshine; the smell of salt, sea, and pine trees following in his wake.
Layla looked up at Brett’s chuckle just as he dropped a kiss onto her nose. “I don’t think he’s warmed up to me yet.”
“He’ll get over it.” she shrugged as she squeezed him, realizing that it might take a while. “And you’ll be nice.”
Green eyes twinkling, he winked at her. “Really? Do I get punished if I’m not?”
She smiled even as she narrowed her eyes at him. She loved this part of Brett; the playfulness and lightheartedness he brought into her life. It made things seem almost different. As if they could go back to the time before Weres, if only for a moment. She sobered. It would not have made a difference anyway.
For her, there was no such thing as a time before the Weres. Her exposure occurred at such an early age, it was ensured that it would be forever imprinted; she just didn’t know what they were at the time. Her attack as a child coupled with her mom’s brutal death had shaped her in ways that she could not even fathom—and could not change.
Almost everything she remembered about her mother was gone; even her own hazel eyes and auburn hair was more in line with the father she never knew. The father who had passed on his Were genes to her and had embroiled her in a war that had gotten her mother killed.
Her mood thoroughly changed, Layla buried her face in Brett’s chest, breathing in his scented mixture of spicy musk and male that was essentially him. It calmed her and soothed the anxiety threatening to overwhelm her as she flexed her fingers against his T-shirt, taking in the powerful play of muscles underneath.
Tall and lean, the corded flesh beneath his clothes hinted at his strength. One she had seen firsthand; when he had broken through the ropes binding him to fight at her side and when he had carried Martin after the other man had been shot. Her fingertips lightly skimmed his back and she smiled as his heart sped up.
“Baby, if you don’t stop, we are going to miss breakfast and possibly lunch,” he warned.
“That’s not such a bad idea.”
Brett sighed. “As much as I want to, we need to talk to Martin. To see if there is any news about Suzette.”
She nodded in agreement. As much as she wanted Brett at the moment, other things had priority, such as Suzette, the Were bitch who kept coming after her. She shuddered to think of how much Suzette probably hated her right now. The blonde Were was at the top of the list of werewolves to watch for. They all knew that Layla was in danger as long as Suzette lived.
The Were had failed to kill Layla as a child and just recently, Layla had almost killed her in retaliation, letting the other woman live after she defeated her, thinking it was over. She frowned. She would not make the same mistake again. If she could not kill Suzette, she would die trying.
The woman had made her life hell in the past month; killing her friends and framing her. Not only had she lost her job, but she had gotten arrested and was almost killed by the Were and her pack. As distasteful as the idea of killing was, she would not hesitate to end Suzette if she got the chance again.
She broke out of her reverie as Brett pulled her closer and rested his head atop hers.
“I can’t wait for this shit to be over,” he whispered.
She agreed. But until then, they had to remain vigilant to ensure their safety. Her ears perked up as she heard her name whispered on the wind and she reluctantly removed herself from his embrace. Martin was waiting.
“Come on; Martin’s ready. Let’s see what he has to say,” she grabbed Brett’s hand, drawing him closer.
“Breakfast is on the table.” The older blonde motioned to the small table that contained a platter of biscuits and scrambled eggs.
Brett grinned at her as he made a beeline for the food. “You are officially my second favorite woman.” He stopped only to snag a napkin, before he piled his plate high and pulled out a chair to sit, snagging her arm, effectively pulling her into his lap as he ignored Martin’s not so subtle look.
She also avoided Martin’s look. Right now, it seemed as if there was a battle of wills between Martin and Brett. Even though it was clear how she felt about the younger man, Martin felt Brett hadn’t earned his place. Not quite yet. But that was not her battle; she would let them hash it out.
“Layla, there are enough chairs for you to have a seat.”
Her face flamed at her aunt’s pointed remark, the other woman nodding towards Nali, Layla’s adopted cousin, who sat watching them. Slipping off Brett’s lap, she sat in a chair next to him.
“Sorry, Susan,” Brett apologized before she could say anything. “Poor manners on my part. I promise to show more respect in the future.”
Susan nodded and flashed a smile at the couple. “It’s okay. I understand young love, but you have to set an example.”
Her eyes slid quickly towards Martin who was leaning against the countertop intently studying a map in his hands. “But I am happy for you two. Perhaps when this is over, things can be different.”
Layla nodded. She knew what her aunt was trying to say. Nali had seen more in her five years than most people had seen in their lifetimes. Not only had Suzette destroyed Layla’s childhood, she had destroyed Nali’s as well when she killed the girl’s foster parents. Only their intervention and her aunt’s connections had saved the young Were from death. She leaned over and chucked the little girl on the chin. Nali’s bright green eyes stared back at her.